I just read an article in Spirituality & Health by Traci Pedersen. She reports on recent research out of UC Berkeley showing that immersion in the beauty of nature, art and/or spirituality – in other words, becoming awestruck or bowled over by a sense of wonder - is associated with lower levels of inflammatory cytokines.
Cytokines are proteins that prod the immune system to crank it up a notch, which is generally a good thing, especially for dispatching infections or cancer. But we also know that chronic inflammation from an overproduction of cytokines can wreak cumulative havoc on health and longevity.
So, this study of 200 subjects suggests it wouldn't be a bad idea to deliberately seek out activities that catalyze your feelings of awe.
Forgot the name of that great movie you just saw and want to heartily recommend? Proper-noun challenged in general? Welcome to my world.
But before I launch into the ten brain tips, first set forth by AARP a couple of years ago, I want to call your attention to Chris Northrup's latest book, an intriguing discussion of how to grow older without fear, loathing and dread, but instead, enjoying a greater sense of pleasure, freedom, happiness, energy and self-esteem.
I confess I'm not crazy about my friend's book title, or what it implies (it's called Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality,and Well-Being) and we had a good, honest interchange about it.
Good news, folks! The MP3 downloads are now available for Traci Stein's long awaited title of hypnosis and guided imagery for achieving a healthy weight and a respectful, appreciative attitude toward your body.
As is often the case with Traci's work, there are a variety of long and short meditations for when you're awake and separate tracks for when you're asleep.
We expect the CD hard copies to be in the warehouse on or around the 20th of the month - any day now, in other words. So go ahead and order.
Now, just to state the obvious, this is not your culturally stereotypical weight loss narrative, filled with distorted ideas about what you should look like (i.e., pathologically skinny, like the last knobby-kneed, non-menstruating, 80 pound stick of a model you saw bobbling down the runway, locomoting on fumes). Nor does this imagery tell you that in order to feel good about yourself you have to look good.
Well, here we are, folks. It's February, which brings us to American Heart Month.
It's probably old news that Cardiovascular Disease or CVD (that's the umbrella category for heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure) - is the leading killer of men and women in the U.S., (as in about a quarter of them).
But a lot of it is preventable and controllable. We've actually made great strides in decreasing CVD in people over 65, but for people younger than that? Not so much. We can do better.
So I want to call your attention to two popular, effective heart kits we carry. One focuses on healing your physical heart and the other on your emotional heart. Both aspects need attention and tender loving care, regardless of how robust and healthy we think we are.
As I was digging into my weekly cache of the 214 new mind-body research abstracts that had dropped into my NIH cubby, I saw two, new European studies on eating disorders that grabbed my attention, especially because I've been spending a good part of the last two weeks on editing, mixing, reviewing and packaging Traci Stein's new guided imagery and hypnosis audio for Healthy Weight & Body Image.
Now, just to be clear, Traci's new audio is not just for people with eating disorders, although it certainly is going to be wonderful for that – it's also designed for anyone who wants to make mild to moderate tweaks to their weight (up or down) or to their attitudes toward their bodies (up), so there's a lot of range and scale to who this will help.
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.)
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:
Guided 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
My 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?
Hello 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.
Hello everyone, and happy new year!
I've been looking back at this past year at Health Journeys, and struck by how much hard work, change, newness, excitement and re-configuring has gone into it.
The staff has worked really hard to meet the challenges of the new initiatives, and they've really delivered the goods and then some – this in spite of a year's worth of unusual family health challenges, losses, accidents, electrical outages, server issues and a robust variety of an especially long-lived flu.
Here are some highlights:
In 2014 we increased our professional and clinical distributors by quite a lot.
We continue to expand our distribution of guided imagery and other mind-body techniques to our military and veterans.
We've redesigned our website and adapted it for smart phones.
Hello again. It's that time of year when we aspire to stay calm, sane and steady - and maybe even have a little fun - in the face of demands piling on as the holidays draw nigh. You've probably seen most of these tips before, but just as a timely reminder, here's my updated take on how to minimize the inevitable stress, short of getting under the covers and sucking your thumb....
Take Care of Your Body
Try to do all the things you know are good for your physical well being: get some exercise; take it easy on the caffeine, sugar and alcohol; get enough sleep; eat healthy food - you know this stuff. This is the baseline of stress reduction.
Track Your Physical Comfort
Take time to check in and see how your body is feeling. Once you notice, you can make small corrections to relieve discomfort before it takes over. Breathe into tight places; stretch and move when your back or neck feels stiff; look out the window when your eyes are straining at the computer screen; massage your neck and press the acupoints when a headache is lurking. But you have to notice what's amiss first.