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23 Jan

Okay, so when we last left you on the Inspiring Story page, we'd featured Michael Peterson's sleepless night in Iraq, after an especially dicey day and night, where his musical performance was scored to sound of whizzing and exploding shells.

chambersSo now let's see how Colonel (R) Jill Chambers, the amazing, power-packed ball of energy who set this whole trip up, so that these isolated Soldiers in the middle of nowhere could get a little love, music, humor and inspiration from home... well, she was right there by Michael's side, talking to the troops, directing set-up and logistics, making everything run smooth as silk, all the while cheer-leading to beat the band...

Let me also say that this is the same Jill who was handpicked by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair, Admiral Mike Mullen, to be his first Special Assistant for Returning Warrior Issues – not exactly chopped liver, you could say. Jill is further qualified to chat with the troops by having overcome her own posttraumatic stress, derived from having been in the Pentagon during 9/11. Jill now spends her days helping veterans and training returning warriors.

22 Jan

This research was to see if the positive effects that were attained immediately after, were sustained after six months

Researchers from Tilburg University in The Netherlands conducted a 6-month follow up study of the DiaMind trial, which showed beneficial immediate effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on emotional distress, but not on diabetes distress nor on HbA1c.

This research was to see if the positive effects that were attained immediately after, were sustained after six months.

In the DiaMind trial, 139 outpatients with diabetes (type-I or type-II) and a lowered level of emotional well-being were randomized into MBCT (n=70) or a waiting list with treatment as usual (TAU: n=69).

21 Jan

"All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become. As my friend Kenneth Koch once said, 'You aren't just the age you are. You are all the ages you have ever been."—Fred Rogers, from The World According to Mister Rogers.

It seems that children can find the magic in anything. They are content to experience winter while sitting in a stroller, under layers of warm clothing or delight in the tangible wonders of snow.

The same can be said of animals. Cindy's Huskies seem blissfully unaware of the cold. "I laugh at them every time I see one of them using a snow pile for a pillow - wish I liked the cold more," she said.

huskies2Children and animals seem to have a natural ability to be present in each moment and experience the beauty of it. Even in winter, they experience the magnificence of the moment, while we slog around in a winter funk and dream of spring. No matter how we try to embrace the season, we look at the calendar, the weather and above all, the loss of daylight, and we don't need a groundhog to predict that we will experience another two months of it.

20 Jan

Dear Belleruth,

My wife has had OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) since at least 1963, along with deep depression. Though she will be in a program at UCLA and is under doctor's care, and I don't expect immediate "cures," is there anything else that might be helpful for her? And, honestly, I'm not all that hopeful about holistic medicine, but I feel we have to try all avenues.

Thank you.
Jose M.

Dear Jose,

I'm guessing that some segments of the program your wife will be participating in at UCLA will provide selected mind-body training in relaxation, along with medication (probably from the class of drugs called SSRI's, such as Zoloft, Prozac, etc), cognitive-behavioral techniques, psycho-education and possibly group support – all of which can be extremely helpful over time.

You are wise to gear yourself not to expect a "silver bullet" that yields an instant cure – lasting positive changes tend to be incremental over time, not quick fixes. But if she sticks with the program, I think it's fair to say you both will see results.

19 Jan

Okay, folks - World Cancer Day is coming up on February 4th, and Cindy and the team thought it would be very cool to invite people to post their stories on how they used guided imagery and other holistic, mind-body approaches to help deal with their cancer.

...Because there's nothing like a personal story to inspire, teach and model a useful approach to a daunting, scary or difficult situation.

So, did you have a natural cancer treatment approach to accompany more standard therapy? Tell us about what you did for your cancer fatigue! (Yep, that's the biggest complaint, folks – cancer-related fatigue far outweighs pain or nausea as the peskiest side effect of treatment.) 

We've actually seen quite a few holistic cancer treatment stories already, because several of you sent in some great ones (with pictures, even!) for our new landing page (being designed even as we speak). Please consider emailing your personal story to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Some of you used integrative, natural cancer treatments to reduce side effects, such as post-op pain, nausea and cancer related fatigue. Others used guided imagery, hypnosis, yoga, breathwork, affirmations or meditation to keep their spirits up, to reduce anxiety, or to encourage their immune cells to do their natural best.

So, just to get the ball rolling, we're going to post two very different breast cancer stories, both on hold for the new landing page.

One woman had a pretty breezy time of it; another had complications that had to be surmounted. Very different experiences, but both of these awesome cancer survivors used guided imagery and other mind-body methods to very good effect. Check it out!

And help us celebrate World Cancer Day with your story!

Here they are: Beth Spring, a marriage and family counselor from Northern Virginia, and Ester Leutenberg, a publisher from Tucson, each with her own story to tell:

BETH SPRING, LMFT Herndon, VA
BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR

beth-smGuided imagery and meditation were among my closest allies and friends through 16 months of breast cancer treatment and side effects in 2009-2010. As a marriage and family therapist, I was well acquainted with mindfulness meditation, and incorporated it into my life and my work.

In February 2009, I attended a week-long training in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Full of good energy and excitement, I returned home and scheduled a class for clients.

Then, just about when the class was scheduled to start in April, I had a one of those mammograms where a long, cold wait in a little paper gown leads to all kinds of fears and worries taking root. I was sent immediately to an ultrasound tech, then biopsied, and before I knew it, meeting with my surgeon. My head was spinning, and the first thing I asked my surgeon was, "Can I still hold my class for clients?" Wordlessly, he gazed at me and shook his head, "no." Read More

ESTER LEUTENBERG, Tucson AZ
RADIATION THERAPY FOR BREAST CANCER

ester-smMy kind of breast cancer was Paget's Disease. Only 4% of breast cancer is that. It took my going to three doctors 'til the third one recognized that it was a problem and not just a sore nipple. Dr. Malgieri of Hillcrest Clinic knew what it was. This was February of 2003, when I was still living in Cleveland.

After months of being upset because no one believed me, I was at a fairly anxious state.

The surgery went easily. They removed the nipple and whole area around it, then checked the lymph nodes and all was well there.

Radiation was indicated. I always needed my husband Jay with me for a scary procedure. I was fearful and anxious of being alone in the room. He wasn't allowed in the room with me. So I had a brilliant idea – I knew about

Belleruth's Radiation tape!

I emailed or called Belleruth, don't remember which. She asked if I wanted the tape or if I wanted her to come with me (for which I will always be grateful). I told her the tape was fine. Read More

So there they are – two very different experiences. Would you share yours?
All best,

16 Jan

Bravo to the French people's response to the murders of some of their best and bravest journalist-cartoonists. Glad to see so many French Muslims standing up to this, and not letting the Fascist Islamists define their religion. This is a war of ideas, and must be countered with ideas.

15 Jan

Researchers from Utah State University performed a meta-analysis to examine the impact of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) – a treatment protocol that's a kind of marriage between mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy - on anxiety disorders and OCD spectrum disorders.

The analysis looked at the relationship between psychological flexibility, as measured by versions of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire (AAQ and AAQ-II) and measures of anxiety.

Results showed positive and significant relationships between the AAQ and general measures of anxiety, as well as disorder specific measures. Additionally, all outcome data to date on ACT for anxiety and OCD spectrum disorders were reviewed, as were data on mediation and moderation within ACT.

14 Jan

We get such good ideas from you. We noticed some of you have been ordering Traci Stein's Creating Positive Change, along with audio programs like Belleruth's Weight Loss and Stop Smoking. What a great plan for change in the coming year!

No matter what change you would like to make, or what steps you take to achieve the desired results, adding Creating Positive Change to your repertoire serves to enhance your efforts. The audio program consists of one power-packed CD, with an audio track for use while you are awake, an affirmations track and a track to use during sleep.

Another great addition to your plans for positive change is Traci Stein's free report, Kicking the Habit: The Ten Keys to Positive Change. The report contains step-by-step instructions to help break even entrenched habits.

13 Jan

We just got this message on Facebook and found it very timely, being as how our very own Traci Stein's new guided imagery/hypnosis title, Healthy Weight and Body Image, is soon to be released.

Check it out:

Hi Belleruth,
I use your guided imagery all the time, but wondering which one you would recommend for a client of mine who has bulimia.
I would like to get her this as a gift to help.
Thank you. Happy new year.

traci-stein-recordingFunny you should ask! Psychologist Traci Stein has created a terrific new imagery/hypnosis program on Healthy Weight & Body Image (I know it's terrific because I was in the studio when she recorded it).

It's being prepared for production even as we speak. It addresses eating disorders, including bulimia, and body image issues beautifully, with Traci's usual skill, subtlety, depth and finesse.

12 Jan

shirley-mcnealHello and happy new year, everyone!

In honor of 2015, I want to tell you about some new downloads that clinical psychologist and ace hypnotherapist Dr. Shirley McNeal has produced for us, to help people prepare for, find and sustain a satisfying love relationship.

These three separate, sequential hypnotic programs are especially geared for people who've had disappointing relationships in the past, who want to establish a better, stronger, more loving and lasting relationship in the future.

Shirley is a psychotherapist who specializes in self-esteem and anxiety related issues, and is an award-winning (2003 Milton H. Erickson Award for Scientific Excellence) expert at helping people examine their patterns and change their behavior, thanks to the removed, safe perspective of a light, hypnotic trance state.

09 Jan

When we put out our call for personal stories to feature on the new landing page we're building, we got this amazing story from quintessential performing artist, gonzo patriot and all-round gutsy dude, Michael Peterson.

We've been asking for people to tell us how imagery was useful in dealing with a challenge. Michael's story is pretty amazing. It's all true, but it reads like page turner fiction. Eesh, talk about The Show Must Go On!! What a pro this guy is! I hope you have time to check it out. Here are Michael's words:

We are in Baghdad Iraq to entertain deployed US Military and DOD Civilians.
As we wake up around 6:30 am, it is already approaching 110 degrees in the shade. Before the sun sets it will be in the mid 130's.

Preparing for departure, we are informed that several US Soldiers died recently going in and out of the gate we are scheduled to travel through today as we drive to our shows.

This was supposed to have been their last week before heading home.

Well...wait a moment..this is our last day on what is likely our last trip to Iraq.

08 Jan

Researchers from Stanford University, the University of New Mexico and New York University conducted a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate 6-month outcomes from a skills-based intervention designed to reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression in mothers of preterm infants.

One hundred five mothers of preterm infants were randomly assigned to (1) a 6- or 9-session intervention based on principles of trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy with infant redefinition or (2) a 1-session active comparison intervention based on education about the NICU and parenting of the premature infant.

Outcome measures included the Davidson Trauma Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory II, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory. Participants were assessed at baseline, 4 to 5 weeks after birth, and 6 months after the birth of the premature infant.