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18 Sep

Researchers from India’s Samanvaya Trust and MS University in Baroda investigated the efficacy of hypnotherapy for couples seeking fertility solutions.

Over a period of 28 years, 554 couples with what is referred to there as “unexplained reproductive failure” were studied.  

Hypnotherapy was added to the standard protocol for fertility.  Initially the hypnosis was targeted at general stress relief, but it evolved into including more specific, identified stressors such as the stress associated with infertility (100%) and other stressors of marital life.

The success rate of pregnancy with hypnosis was 71.67%.
Although this was not a double blind study, 349 of the 554 couples had been unsuccessfully treated elsewhere before entering the study.  These couples had the same success rate of 70%.
The researchers interpret this unprecedented, high success rate as evidence that “unexplained reproductive failure” is psycho-dynamically triggered and reversible with psychotherapeutic hypnosis. They conclude that when psychosomatic stress is alleviated with hypnotherapy, there are remarkable results.

 [Ed. Note: this appears to be a hasty logical leap. It is not clear from this study exactly what the mechanism of success from hypnosis is operating here.]
Citation:  Vyas R1, Adwanikar G1, Hathi L1, Vyas B2. Psychotherapeutic intervention with hypnosis in 554 couples with reproductive failure. Journal of the Indian Medical Association. 2013 Mar;111 (3):pages 167-9, 173.

17 Sep

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, created to make us aware that for every child who is diagnosed with the disease, there is a story that will break your heart and at the same time give you hope.

One such story of heartbreak and hope involves a stretch of interstate highway, here in Northeast Ohio, where as if on cue, a sea of sunflowers burst forth to welcome September and honor Maria McNamara, who died of a rare brain cancer at the age of seven.
Maria’s parents and friends planted the sunflower seeds in an empty field, near a billboard with her picture and a message that said, “Planting Hope.” They were hoping a few would bloom in time for September. As August came to a close, thousands of sunflowers sprang up in a farmer’s field, spanning a mile-long stretch of I-90, greeting an estimated 90,000 travelers each day, in memory of a little girl who, in the midst of her illness and challenges, prayed for other children. Read Maria’s story here.


16 Sep

A while ago we got this question from a concerned husband, whose wife has a condition that makes it hard to breathe. She can’t do the usual relaxation preliminaries:
Dear BR,

Many of your guided imagery meditations have to do with breathing.  What if people suffer from a disease where they have trouble breathing, or are even using oxygen?  What do they do then?  This is the case with my wife.

Ralph P.

Dear Ralph,

Thanks for asking.  You’re absolutely right that for someone who is having difficulty breathing, directions to “take a nice, deep, full, cleansing breath” are not merely pointless, but downright annoying, not to mention distressing and anxiety-producing.

That’s why on our Asthma imagery, we have the listener place his or her hands on the chest and focus on the sensation of the warmth from the hands permeating the lungs and soothing them.  A device like touch can substitute for the healing, relaxing, grounding effects of conscious breathing. In general, that would be my first choice.
It could be her own hands or perhaps even better, yours, gently sending warmth into her shoulders or back. So you’d be making that substitution – the sensation of nourishing warmth from the hands permeating her body, instead of the warmth of the breath.
Another approach is to take the focus off the breathing altogether, as for some people the very idea of breathing is too closely associated with discomfort, and instead to just go directly to a favorite place or to imagine healing occurring on the cellular or energetic level, or in some other abstract way.
Some of these generic, nonspecific images are incorporated into some of the affirmations we use.  For instance:  “I can see and feel a powerful blue-green wave of healing, washing through me from head to toe, clearing away any unwanted debris and taking it out with the tide.

Or another:  “I can see and feel a warm, pulsing, glowing blanket of magical comfort surrounding me, enveloping me with peace and safety, soaking its energy into me.”

I hope this helps.  My best to you and your wife.


15 Sep

Hello again.

I was really happy to see an order zip past my screen from the Rhode Island National Guard, requesting multiple copies of our guided imagery for Relaxation & Wellness, Healing Trauma and Mind-Body Exercises for Stress Hardiness Optimization.

As many of my good buddies in the military tell me, those guardsmen and women generally get next to nuthin’  when they come home (except grief) – they were thrown in harm’s way with the least preparation or training, and come home to even fewer resources than the regular military and vets get, even though they’re as injured and vulnerable and as in need of help as anyone, if not more so.
So it really gives us all here a big lift to know these men and women are getting something that might really help them. It’s a resource that these outfits can realistically afford and will actually use.
When I asked Cindy and Elizabeth what other Guards have ordered our stuff, they told me we had Army and Air National Guards from California, Alaska, Florida, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississipi, Minneapolis, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

12 Sep

A mom writes:
My very active, sociable little 7-month-old is adorable in every way, but he is not a great sleeper.  I get the feeling he doesn’t want to miss anything by napping.  It’s been a challenge getting things done, because the little guy NEVER naps.

Rocking him and settling him down has never quite worked.  Just as he starts to relax, he realizes he’s about to fall asleep, and he jerks awake and wants to play some more. 

I decided to try playing BR’s sleep CD for him, which has always worked for me, while rocking him, and, lo and behold, the little live wire fell asleep!!!  I now play the Healthful Sleep CD whenever I need him to nap.  So far, so good, it works like a charm.  I don’t know if it’s because it affects me and I’m holding him, or if it just affects him directly, and I don’t really care.  I can get some laundry and dishes done.  What a thrill!  (sarcasm).

Grateful Chicago Mom

11 Sep

This study may be an indirect chide to the research community for continuing to lean toward studies on the effectiveness of exposure therapy and CBT for PTS when EMDR (eye movement desensitization & reprocessing) may perform even better.
In a review and meta-analysis out of Sao Paolo, Brazil, investigators compared cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to cognitive therapy (CT) and exposure therapy (ET) for the treatment of posttraumatic stress (PTSD).

Studies were gathered from the Cochrane, Embase and Medline databases. Studies were required to be randomized controlled trials (RCT’s), published between 2006 and 2012, comparing CBT, CT, or ET with (1) each other, (2) other active treatments (e.g., EMDR, counseling, supportive therapy), or (3) assessment-only or wait list conditions. The main outcome measures were diagnostic changes and symptomatic remission.

The final sample contained 29 articles.  CBT, CT, and ET were each shown to be efficacious treatments when compared to wait list/no treatment conditions, and no differences were found between these methods.

10 Sep

As Summer draws to a close, I hear people speak of clothing they need to buy for Autumn and Winter and how discouraged they are because they have been "out of control" with regard to what they've been eating and lack of exercise. For the first time in my life, I feel different about the need for new clothes, and I wanted to share my experience with those who feel discouraged. I have been obese all my life. I began putting on weight for protection, and using food to medicate when I was being abused severely as a child. I am going to be 66 in November, so that's a long time to have been more than 100 pounds overweight.

In my 40's I began therapy and started excavating the pain I'd carried within for so long. I also tried lots of "diets," none if which worked for any length of time.

This past year, something shifted inside me and a new urge came over me...the urge to be be fully me. My soul was ready! One year ago this week, I took charge of this part of my life, not to diet, but to take better care of this physical vessel which houses my soul. I share the following which I hope will inspire others to heal and nurture your psyches and your souls. When we do this, it feels natural to also want to heal the body...the physical temple which we present to the world.
May you love yourselves abundantly, mind, body and spirit.

Love and blessings to all.
Lynne Newman

Journal Day #365
August 26, 2014

This week marks one year since I gave up Coca Cola, and in a few days it will be one year since I embarked on this journey of self-care and change. I have travelled some interesting paths since that fateful day when a decision was made within me to face, heal my body, and unbury myself from weight which I’ve carried for most of my life. I also needed to face the fact that I’ve used food as a drug for as long as I can remember.

It has been a journey of countless shifts within me. At times I felt strong, positive, motivated and vibrant. At other times, I’ve felt frightened, anxious, angry and in despair, much as I’ve felt in the past when I attempted to make these changes. Sometimes I feel strong, and other times I feel fragile inside. My determination this time is different, though. For some deep reason, even when I detour from my newer habits, I am able to get my focus back, and for this I’m grateful. This time I also know the feelings of love, compassion, deep joy and glimmers of true freedom.

09 Sep

Jamie, a frustrated Mom, writes:
My only child (daughter) is a spirited, high-energy (redundant), non-sleeper, who feels she will miss out on something Mommy & Daddy get to do when she sleeps. I have no down time.  Nothing that I've tried seems to work to get her to go down at night.  HELP. Thanks for your suggestions…..

Dr. Yvonne Arquette, a child psychologist who read the question, answers:
How old is your daughter, Jamie? All things being equal, it sounds to me like some loving but firm limits are in order.
As a child psychologist, I see this all the time.  Parents are reluctant to cause unhappiness and feel that their job is to gratify their child's wishes, even when they aren't realistic.
All this does is create disappointment for the child later on when they discover that the rest of the world doesn't feel the same way about their wishes.
So I think you're going to have to nip this one in the bud and tolerate the anxiety and upset that this causes inside of YOU when she hollers and screams and yells "NO FAIR!!!!!".

08 Sep

kathy-swiftI’m eager to tell you about a new book by the amazing, one and only Kathie Swift, RDN, called The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat.

Kathie knows more about healthy eating, gut health, weight loss and food as medicine than just about anyone I know.  Check out her newest book if you want to understand and act in healthier and more effective ways about food, nutrition and good eating.
More about the book soon, but first a little background on my friend and colleague, the very impressive but delightfully unpretentious K.M. Swift.

2143Back in the day, when I was researching the imagery for Weight Loss, I couldn’t find anyone who could explain to me the nuts and bolts of how the body loses weight.  I mean, nobody seemed to know the detailed biochemical pathway for converting fat to energy – not even these ultra-famous diet docs, who threw around some buzzy buzz words but didn’t really have a lot of depth or understanding beyond those snappy catch phrases.
Then someone put me onto Kathie Swift, who at the time was running the nutrition program at Canyon Ranch in Lenox MA.  And, lo and behold, she knew everything, including stuff I hadn’t even thought to ask.  She’d tracked down the latest researchers and findings, took the best of it all and did a dazzling job of synthesizing and turning those data and insights into useable, comprehensible English.
And she was possibly the most generous and unterritorial expert I’d ever met (and she’s still that way.)  So if you like the cellular imagery on that weight loss audio, you can thank Kathie.

But I digress.  Here is what she has to say about her exciting new book, which explains the breathtaking new findings on the microbiome, which may be some of the most ground-breaking, hopeful and actionable thinking in medicine today.  

So listen up!  Here is what Kathie has to say about this important new book.

05 Sep

Here’s a charming report that came through a friend/colleague.  Her old friend from college had been undergoing treatment for breast cancer and having trouble sleeping.  She compared listening to guided imagery with being read a favorite bedtime story.  Love that!  I’m just pasting the whole note:

Hey BR.  Hope you get this email where you are... i think so!  :)
So, one of my old college friends just FB'd me with this message about using your guided imagery tapes when she was going thru chemo for breast cancer, and now for sleep!  Here is what she said:

One of my (many) therapists recommended her CDs, and I have repeatedly used one for sleep - like being read a favorite bedtime story by a loving auntie/friend - works every time.

Thought you'd chuckle!


04 Sep

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago surveyed the research literature to see if mindfulness meditation was a useful, effective primary intervention for binge eating, emotional eating and weight loss.

There had been no systematic review that examined interventions mindfulness meditation as the primary intervention, and no review on the effect of mindfulness on subclinical disordered eating or weight problems.
The investigators used the PRISMA method for systematic reviews, finding 14 studies to include that investigated mindfulness meditation as the primary intervention and assessed binge eating, emotional eating, and/or weight change.
Results suggest that mindfulness meditation effectively decreases binge eating and emotional eating in populations engaging in this behavior.  However, evidence for its effect on weight change is mixed.

03 Sep

In 1894, Congress designated the first Monday in September as a national holiday, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. Read the interesting facts about this holiday on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

For some of us, Labor Day marked the end of summer, and in its aftermath, we are putting away the shorts, bathing suits and white clothing and getting out the winter garb. Really? It’s 86 degrees outside. Nowhere in the language of its designation of Labor Day did Congress prohibit swimming or wearing white clothing after the holiday.
Do you wear white after Labor Day? I do. I guess I figure if it was good enough for Coco Chanel, who flew in the face of the popular taboo by wearing white everything year-round, it’s good enough for me.