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Acupuncture: Benefits, Types, & Why You Should Try It

Acupuncture: Benefits, Types, & Why You Should Try It

You may find it really amusing (or for some, a bit disturbing) to see someone lying down with tiny metal protrusions in their body. You now wonder if you are in a spa, or if you are suddenly transported to a scene from Hellraiser.

Apparently, you are in the balancing and relaxing world of acupuncture therapy.

Then curiosity strikes. Your mind now wanders. It plays with ideas and theories on how and why people would want tiny metal rods to be placed on seemingly random parts of their body. You surrender to the idea that these needles are placed on the body just because the acupuncturist can.

A closeup of acupuncture needles.

In the middle of your thoughts, you are called in by your acupuncturist for your turn. At this point, you begin to tell a different story. You try to convince yourself that it’s not all that bad…since you’re about to lie down and be the one who gets pricked.

As you lie on the bed waiting for the next needle to be drilled into your body, allow yourself to drift off. Absorb the true nature of acupuncture and learn how it can bring you the balance you have always sought for in your life.

What Is Acupuncture? Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture is considered one of the most common traditional Chinese practices in treating ailments. Acupuncture follows a science that deals with your body’s pressure points. These points, or the focus of your body, are the specific locations in which the acupuncturists strategically place the needles to achieve a desired healing effect.

The most common use of acupuncture is to address your body’s pains. According to Chinese tradition, your body is prone to experiencing agony if the energy that flows through your body is in jeopardy. There is an imbalance of energy that needs to be fixed.

With its seemingly painful process, this olden art of healing is actually focused on balancing the flow of energy in the body, known as chi. As the acupuncturists place the needles, the energy finds its balance, making you feel better after just one session.

Acupuncture Types

It may come to you as a surprise, but acupuncture has types that address different specific physiological needs, usually based around the method of finding balance.

Imagine overhauling and redesigning your backyard garden. When everything seems to be working inside your house, you want to make sure everything else outside your house complements the overall feel of your home. You need to create a balance. What is the first thing you need to do? You dig deeper in your backyard to set-up the ground works. Go to a mini excavator rental and choose the best equipment for your terrain, then find the right spots to dig. Everything else follows.

Similarly, acupuncture presents a wide range of options for your requirement. It may have started with China’s traditional healing methods, but other cultures have developed various styles in mastering the art of acupuncture. Whichever you choose, the bottom line is that you need to dig deep to tap your innermost core so you can regulate it.

With different methods to choose from, you may need to know first what it is you need for your body, then work with the best method type for you.

  1.   Traditional Chinese Acupuncture – this is the most common style of acupuncture. As stated above, the objective of traditional Chinese acupuncture is to allow the free flow of energy to help the body reach a sustainable balance. Your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual energies must have a good flow of energy. If focus is lost, then your whole body is affected.
  2.   Japanese Style Acupuncture – this style of acupuncture is more subtle compared to the Chinese way. Japanese acupuncture uses thinner needles in order to have less stimulation. The objective of the Japanese style acupuncture is to practice the Five Element Theory.
  3.   Korean Acupuncture – this style also observes the Japanese way of treatment. The only difference between the two is that Korean acupuncture uses more needles, at least 100, during its sessions.
  4.   Korean Hand Acupuncture – there are types of acupuncture that do not use needles, and this style is one of them. From the name itself, acupuncturists use their hands instead of needles in addressing your acupuncture points.
  5.   Auricular Acupuncture – this may sound uncommon, but auricular acupuncture stimulates the energy from the ears to treat your body. This kind of acupuncture is good for pain control, alcohol and nicotine addiction.

Ear acupuncture.

  1.   Medical Acupuncture – this kind of acupuncture uses neurology in order to identify your acupuncture points. The use of electric simulation with the needles is what makes medical acupuncture different from others.

Acupuncture For Anxiety, Fertility, Back Pain, And Much, Much More

The following are the health conditions that acupuncture can address.

Electric acupuncture around the knee.

 

  1.   Allergies
  2.   Depression
  3.   Facial pain
  4.   Dysmenorrhea
  5.   Headache
  6.   Hypertension
  7.   Knee pain
  8.   Hypotension
  9.   Low back pain
  10. Morning sickness
  11. Vomiting
  12. Toothaches
  13. Renal colic
  14. Sprains
  15. Strokes
  16. Sciatica
  17. Arthritis pain
  18. Pain in the shoulders
  19. Neck pain
  20. Leukopenia

Furthermore, researchers are currently studying and identifying what other diseases and symptoms acupuncture can potentially handle for you. However, the following still need more scientific tests and medical studies in order to strengthen the acupuncture medicinal claim.

  1.   Acne vulgaris
  2.   Cancer pain
  3.   Cardiac neurosis
  4.   Cholelithiasis
  5.   Diabetes mellitus
  6.   Earache
  7.   Facial spasm
  8.   Female fertility
  9.   Eye pain
  10. Female urethral syndrome
  11. Hepatitis B virus carrier
  12. Insomnia
  13. Labor pain
  14. Lactation
  15. Male sexual dysfunction
  16. Neuralgia
  17. Obesity
  18. Pain due to endoscopic examination
  19. Polycystic ovary syndrome
  20. Pruritus
  21. Raynaud syndrome
  22. Urinary-tract infection or UTI
  23. Sore throat
  24. Stiff neck
  25. Vascular dementia

Why You Should Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture is not just about inserting needles in your body to treat your back or neck pain. Acupuncture can also provide relief from the stresses of life, and strengthen your spiritual life.

  1.   Acupuncture can treat depression. There are certain studies where researchers were able to find out that acupuncture is better than counseling. With counseling, you address the source of depression through mental development. On the other hand, acupuncture’s needles send happy-making neurotransmitters in your brain that can treat your depression.
  2.   Acupuncture can lessen your stress and anxiety. When your chaotic environment has taken its toll on you, you need to find your balance and be grounded. This is where acupuncture can help you. It can calm your senses, promote natural deep breathing, and lower your risks of having high blood pressure.

Back acupuncture.

  1.   Acupuncture influences energy levels. Balancing your energy flow can enable you to access the inner energy sources in your body, leaving your more invigorated and ready to face life.
  2.   Acupuncture can combat insomnia. Acupuncture can help you calm down by relieving you of your negative energy during stressful nights. You can finally have the good night sleep you have always been dreaming of.
  3.  Acupuncture can help increase focus, concentration and patience. You may be used to your fast-paced world where everything that is happening around you happens practically at a blink of an eye. For you to maximize acupuncture, you really need patience as the process is tedious and takes some time of getting used to. During this time, you can find your inner peace and achieve your inner equilibrium.

5 Common Regrets and How to Avoid Them

“I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.” ~Unknown

If you had a second chance at life, what would you resolve to do differently? What would you regret from your past if you had the power to change it in your future?

In 2011, Bronnie Ware wrote a wonderful book called Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying.

As a palliative care nurse, Bronnie spent several years working with patients during their final weeks of life. She documented the dying epiphanies of her patients and began to notice some similarities—five in particular (hence, the title of her book).

It’s a beautiful reminder not to take life for granted and to live a life you would be proud of.

Regret Is a Terrible Thing to Witness

For many years I have witnessed the regret of the living—my fellow patients, in over five different hospitals, both interstate and internationally. I’ve been a patient in many ward types (intensive care, cardiac, vascular, orthopedic, infection control, plastics, emergency, and rehabilitation, just to name some). But palliative care has not been one of them.

I spent over a year in hospital. The first time, and the majority of that time, was in rehabilitation. Over the years I’ve returned for more surgery, and again I would pass through rehabilitation wards for several days or weeks.

In regab at 25, learning to walk again.

Above: In rehab, learning to walk again.

Where the purpose of a palliative care ward is to provide care at the end of life, the purpose of a rehabilitation ward is, as the name suggests, to rehabilitate people and teach them to live again.

There’s always an eclectic mix of people in a rehab ward. Some were stroke patients, like me. Some were learning to stand with a new prosthetic leg following amputation, like me. Others were adjusting to new methods of movement without using their arms after open-heart surgery. Also like me.

Regardless of the reason we were all in the hospital, one thing we all had in common was that, unlike Bronnie’s palliative care patients, eventually we were going to go home to start living again.

The hospital can be a very lonely place, and many patients, despite their wounds and ailments, were simply craving conversation.

I’d frequently chat with my fellow patients. It was a good way to pass the time and distract ourselves from the monotony of repetitive (but important) rehabilitative movements.

My fellow patients, all strangers, would often open up to me in a way that I would not experience had I started talking to that same stranger in the outside world.

Similar to Bronnie’s experiences, I heard a lot about regret. But following the confession of regret would come resolutions to do things differently “this time around.”

I’ve paraphrased these most common responses that I’ve heard over the years in rehab—the top five regrets of the living.

1. I wish I’d experienced more.

Upon reflection, many of my fellow rehab patients regretted not having experienced more, and vowed to do so once they “got out.” The experiences ranged from various things to do, see, or hear, but the most common was the regret at having not traveled more.

The sad irony was that many patients, like me, would be leaving the hospital in a wheelchair or with restricted movement. So experiencing more travel would not be an option.

Resolution: From now on I’m going to experience more.

2. I wish I’d listened more.

Many patients regretted not listening more to the advice of their doctor, family members, or well-meaning friends. I remember one larger woman who recalled her doctor advising her to lose weight. At the time, she believed he was “fat shaming” her and had not listened, until she had a resulting stroke.

One man regretted not having listened to his “nagging” family who had warned him against frequently poor diet choices. Diabetes took his leg and left him with regret.

Resolution: From now on I’m going to listen more.

3. I wish I hadn’t been so afraid to fail.

With their second chance at life, many patients were prepared to step out of their comfort zones in the future. Some patients had been so close to death (arguably the ultimate failure) that they no longer feared so many little failures in their day, such as failing to live up to other people’s expectations.

Resolution: From now on I won’t fear failure.

4. I wish I’d stood up for myself more.

Patients regretted not having voiced their opinions more frequently and stood up for themselves and their values or beliefs. Some had spent years in unhappy relationships or unfulfilling work, and it was only their hospitalization that had been their catalyst for change.

Resolution: From now on I’ll stand up for myself more.

5. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to…

The regret of procrastination was also common, and something that resonated with me. Patients said that they wished they’d done a certain something sooner—pick up the phone, seen the doctor, reunite with a friend… The list went on.

Resolution: From now on I’m going to stop waiting and start doing!

There were many similarities between the regrets of the dying and the regrets of the living.

However, the key difference was that my fellow patients and I all had an opportunity to take action on our regrets of the past and ensure they would not be regrets of the future.

What This Means for You

Going back to my question at the beginning of this post: If you had a second chance at life, what would you do differently?

It’s normal to have regrets. If you’ve ever had menu envy, you’ll regret not ordering X instead of Y.

I have regrets, but I make a point of not dwelling on them. Sure, I have relationships, jobs, or situations that I regret not leaving sooner, but those failures have helped make me who I am today.

So don’t be afraid to experience more. Step outside your comfort zone and live life on your terms, free from regret. Listen more to those who only have your best interests at heart. Stand up for yourself, embrace failure, and stop waiting for someone else to live your life for you.

Take it from my fellow rehab patients who have been there before. Those who have regrets but also have the opportunity to reflect on this regret and resolve to make changes.

Take the blinkers of and stop procrastinating. Take responsibility for your own life and your own happiness. We all have challenges, but we all have choices.

Two Kind Words That Can Change or Save a Life

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

My fiancé and I escaped to the northern wilderness. We wanted to build our home and our life off grid, off the beaten path, far from civilization.

It didn’t matter that I was a city girl who couldn’t handle a chainsaw, fix a pickup, or read the warnings of wind and sky. My fiancé was a mountain man, skilled in survival. That was all we needed for a life in the middle of nowhere. Alone, but together, and we loved it.

We were independent and resourceful. Nothing fazed us. My fiancé had a solution for everything: broken generators, shortage of water, staying safe on hikes through the hills that we shared with wolves, coyotes, and bears.

Never once did we doubt our ability to survive.

And never once did we think that our biggest challenge would come from anything other than the wilderness itself.

Our days were consumed by nature. We were always one step ahead. One step ahead of hungry bears, deadly windstorms, drought, wildfire, and maintaining the only road that connected us to far-flung humanity. We were always one step ahead.

Until we weren’t.

All of a sudden, my fiancé lost his appetite, his skin turned a pea soup green, and his jeans hung off him, a size too big.

The wilderness was no place to get sick: lack of cell-phone access, few doctors, often-impassable roads, and a five-hour drive to the nearest hospital. Suddenly the idea of “challenge” took on a whole new meaning.

Finally, after many delays, tests, comings and goings, a diagnosis was confirmed: cancer. My fiancé was stoic. But the news hit me with hurricane force.

Our world flipped upside down.

Suddenly we were thrown into the scary unknown, a place far more challenging than the wilderness of the bush.

Surgery was booked. My once strong, ever-so-independent mountain man was forced to let go, to place his trust in the skill of a surgeon and the goodwill of the universe. I was terrified, but in my role of “pillar of support,” I acted brave by swallowing my fear.

In the faraway town where the operation would take place, I would sleep at the Easter Seal House. It was close to the hospital and affordable. But it was also a dorm.

The idea of sharing accommodation added to my stress. I was an introvert; I’d been living in the bush. The last thing I wanted was to socialize with strangers when my mind was consumed with worries for my man.

But there was no choice.

The following day, the operation, they said it would last a few hours. It took much longer. Then finally some news. “All is well, ” the surgeon said. And the relief of it almost felled me.

I thanked the surgeon; thanked the universe for throwing a lifeline. There would be a tomorrow, after all. And a tomorrow after that.

Two days later, results showed a spread of the disease.

We were not in the clear after all.

That night, I stayed as late as possible at the hospital with my fiancé. I wanted to curl up in his narrow bed, but he was hooked up to so many tubes and wires, and the eighteen-inch wound running down his belly was tender and sore.

When I reluctantly left to walk back to the “dorm,” the night was late and frigidly cold. My mood was as black and as slippery as the ice underfoot. All I wanted to do was to curl up and cry. The thought of facing a group of strangers sunk me further.

At the front door of the Easter Seal House, a small group of old men huddled under the outdoor light, sucking on cigarettes and stamping their feet to stay warm. They looked as miserable as I felt.

Inside, a new guest had arrived to share my room. She was setting up an oxygen machine that would keep her lungs safe through the night. The room was too cramped to make use of my offer to help, so I retreated to the lounge.

The TV in the lounge blasted a comedy. I slipped into the only spare spot, at the edge of the threadbare couch. A plump woman with bleached blond, coifed hair and rose-polished nails giggled wildly at the antics of the TV characters.

My mood was too dark to laugh; instead, I was flooded with gnarly judgments about the stupidity of TV, of sitcoms, of sharing accommodation with strangers.

I told myself I don’t belong with this group, with this coifed blond giggler and her rose-polished nails. As the judgments in my mind exploded, my mood turned surly.

At the break for an ad, the volume on the TV spiked. The blond reached for the remote, decreased the sound. One small mercy. A few minutes later, volume up again. Part of me wanted to seize the remote and hurl it out the window.

The sitcom resumed. Some inane stunt threw the giggler into hysterics.

Suddenly, she turned in my direction, clearly wanting to share the joke that I so obviously didn’t get.

Quickly she scanned me, and whatever it was that she saw prompted her to switch the TV right off, right in the middle of her show. She turned back to me again, this time swiveling her entire body right around to face me.

“Tell me,” she said.

And then I saw. Past the pristine rose nails and frilly sweater, past the coifed bleached hair and perfect makeup, I now saw a pair of soft, welcoming eyes. “Tell me,” she repeated in a gentle invitation.

And I did. And something inside me broke. All the feelings of tension and sorrow melted as I accepted her invitation.

I told her about my fiancé’s surgery, the cancer, its spread, and the hope for future treatments. I told her about my fears for our isolated life in the wilderness. How would I manage? And she listened. She listened with gentle eyes. She listened with her whole body, nodding, as if to say, “I hear you, I understand.”

And it amazed me, this gentle space that she had created through the depth of her presence. It amazed me how her kindness helped me peel open months of fear and anguish. Her invitation to tell my story was an invitation I didn’t even know I needed, yet desperately did.

One by one, the old smokers lumbered back in from the frigid night. They and others joined us. A semi-circle formed around the woman and myself. Haggard, jaundiced faces, bandaged arms; it struck me how all of us were wounded in one way or another, fellow travellers on a shared and complicated journey.

By the time I finished my story, a soft gratitude had filled my heart and eased my worries. My burden shared was a burden halved.

In the wee hours before dawn, sleep came gently in a way that it hadn’t for a very long time.

I never saw that woman again. But her generosity, in switching off a sitcom that she so clearly enjoyed to welcome instead my story, was a gift.

It allowed me to move past a sense of disconnection from others, to share my vulnerability, to be heard and understood. And it gave me solace and a feeling of connection when I needed it most.

Above all, that woman and her gift of compassion showed me that no matter how small, an act of kindness truly does have the power transform a life.

It transformed mine. By lightening my load, it created space for the challenges that lay ahead.

So many of us walk around carrying heavy burdens, desperate for a sense of relief. It may seem so simple, but two little words can dramatically ease our pain and our suffering. Such simple little words: Tell me.

The Face Everything Technique: Why Avoiding Difficulties Doesn’t Work

We are, all of us, amazing at avoiding things.

Our minds are less “thinking machines” than they are “avoiding machines.” And the incredible thing is that we aren’t even usually aware that we’re avoiding thinking about something.

I’ll give you a few examples:

  • Right now you’re reading this article but probably avoiding the difficult thing you don’t want to think about.
  • We are constantly checking messages, news, feeds, notifications … to avoid doing something we don’t want to face.
  • When we’re facing difficulties in life, we try to tell ourselves that’s it’s OK because (fill in the blank), or get busy with some activity or numbing agent (like alcohol) so we don’t have to face the difficulties.
  • When a problem comes up, our reaction is to want to go do something else, put it off.
  • We put off paying bills, doing taxes, dealing with long emails, dealing with clutter, because we don’t want to face these difficulties.
  • We put off exercise because it’s uncomfortable.

In fact, there are thousands more examples, every day, that come up and that we don’t even notice, because our minds switch to thinking about something else.

Try this right now: pause for a minute and think about what difficulty you’re avoiding thinking about right now.

You will either notice a difficulty you don’t like, or your mind will quickly turn to doing something else before the minute is up.

What you’ve done is part of what I call the Face Everything Technique … which I’ll explain in a minute, after we talk about why avoiding everything is an ineffective strategy.

Avoidance Doesn’t Work

Our minds want to run from whatever discomfort, pain, difficulty we’re facing … and this is a good strategy for temporarily not having to deal with difficulty and pain. So in the present moment, we might feel some temporary relief.

But what it does is relegate us to a life of running. A life of distraction and never facing what ails us. We keep ourselves busy, but never learn to deal with what’s inside us, what’s in front of us.

This means we are at the mercy of our fears, of our discomforts. We are like little children who don’t want to do any hard work, but want the latest shiny fun thing.

This results in not working on the important work (or at least putting it off until it starts to get painful). The same is true of exercise, healthy eating, finances, clutter, relationships, and more.

In the end, we usually have to deal with these things, but they’ve just gotten worse. It would have been better to face them early on, when they weren’t such a big deal.

The Face Everything Technique

This technique is based on the idea that it’s better to be aware of things, and to deal with them like an adult, instead of running.

And if we do, none of it’s that big of a deal.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create awareness by asking, “What am I doing right now?” Throughout the day, set reminders or put little notes that remind you to ask, “What am I doing right now?” The answer might be, “Checking Facebook,” or “Switching to a new browser tab,” or “Eating some chips.” Something simple and mundane like that, but just ask yourself what you’re doing, to start to bring awareness.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “What am I avoiding?” When things get difficult or uncomfortable, we automatically switch to something else. We run. We avoid, like crazy. You’re doing it all day long, but not realizing it. Ask what you’re avoiding: some fear, some difficult task, some difficult emotion, some discomfort, or just staying present in the current moment? Name what you’re avoiding.
  3. Now face it. Just stay with this fear, discomfort, difficulty, in the present moment. Not your story about it that you’re telling yourself in your head, but the actual physical feeling in your body in the present moment. How bad is it? You’ll find that it’s No Big Deal. Stay with it for a little longer. And a little longer after that — challenge yourself.
  4. Take appropriate action. Now that you’ve faced it and have seen that it’s not such a big deal, you can act like an adult rather than a little child: you can decide what the best action is right now. If you’re afraid of doing some task, but you’ve faced it and seen that the fear is not such a big deal … you can remind yourself that the task will benefit you and others, and is much more important than your little fear. If you’re avoiding a difficult conversation with someone because you’re angry, you can see that the anger and offense is not such a big deal, and you can talk to the person calmly and appropriately, with empathy and compassion, and figure out a solution.

Of course, not all problems will just evaporate using this method, but I can tell you that you’ll be able to face many more things as you practice this method. You’ll get better at dealing with discomfort, instead of running from it as most people do. You’ll get better at not procrastinating, and doing uncomfortable tasks. You’ll be more present and more willing to stay in the moment rather than needing distractions all the time. Not overnight, but with practice.

You might have the urge to dismiss this article, to avoid practicing this technique. That too is avoidance, and I urge you to face it this moment.

Five Ways to Nurse Your Ego to Health

By Patrick Cole

Five Ways to Nurse Your Ego to Health

Low self-esteem is a common problem among us. Even those who you will deny it might find hard to say that they have never faced a situation in which they were left with a bruised ego – either a bad breakup, a job loss or just a bad hair day.

Of course, some of us take these moments a bit more to the heart. It also might lead to several conditions and complexes, from a simple and long crying day to depression. So, if you are dealing with any of these situations right now, here are five ways that you can apply to your life so to try to nurse your ego to health, and make yourself feel worthy again.

1 – Accept your flaws

It might sound strange that the first way mentioned here regarding how to nurse your ego is accepting your flaws, but this is the pure and simple truth.

If you wish to ensure that you will become happier about the person that you are, you will have to accept that you aren’t perfect. But the goal here is not to feel sorry for yourself, but to forgive yourself, and to understand that you are worthy of a great life despite it.

2 – Nothing out there is perfect

On the other hand, you should be sure that nothing and nobody are perfect out there. People have flaws and problems even if they are billionaires, sex symbols, or the CEO of the biggest companies in the world. Tabloids are full of countless stories of anorexia, bulimia, cheating, bankruptcy, corruption, and more from the world of celebrities, just as an example.

So stop comparing yourself to the others and rest assured that most of what you call perfection is just Photoshop and good PR. Understand the world is as we dream it, and get ready to build yours.

3 – Congratulate yourself

If nobody is there to do it, do it yourself. If you are getting compliments, do it anyway. Being able to congratulate yourself even for your smallest accomplishments will nurse your ego and make you feel good about yourself. That is to say that you don’t need to get a promotion or win the Olympic Games so you can congratulate yourself. Anything significant that happens in your life should be used as an excuse in this case.

This is called positive self-talk, and it is a proven way to boost self-esteem. It also means to stop listening to your inner critic when it doesn’t have anything useful to say. You can also take short self-appreciation breaks throughout the day and make it part of your routine.

4 – Keep a list of your best characteristics

If you tend to forget how good you are and your best achievements in life, make a list of them and keep it where you can find it. Don’t be shy or afraid to be overestimating your qualities – here what matters is what you consider as important. Remember that this is your private list and that you can write whatever you want.

So put everything into words and you will see how writing is good for your brain – and how it will make you feel better about yourself. Studies have proved it, and you can see their applications in the classroom and real life in many schools and universities nowadays.

5 – Help other people

We all know that we should be doing it just to be a helpful part the community, but it is also true that supporting other people is a great ego booster. Nothing better than hear a thank you or see the smile on their faces after giving a hand to someone. So, make of love your true goal, and look for volunteering opportunities, or, at least, try to be more available when you know that you could be of help. It might be what you just need to feel better about yourself.

In Conclusion

There is nothing wrong in nursing your ego if what you are looking for is to increase your self-esteem. And the simple and easy five ways listed above will help on your mission that makes yourself a happier person, proud of who you are and of your achievements.

And rest assured that it will reflect on the way that you see and participate in the world. So this will be a win-win situation for everybody, starting with you.

Happy mothering! It’s good for your health.

© Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes© Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes

Today’s woman is multi-faceted. She can be a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, mother and grandmother. As a mum, she juggles her life with raising children, running a home, work or study. As a grandmother, she often plays an important role in looking-after her grandchildren. For these women, mothering is a serious responsibility and a treasured privilege. While it’s a demanding life, it can be made easier when it incorporates happy mothering which is good for your health.

Celebrate Happy Mothering

Each year Mother’s Day celebrates the contribution women make to family life and acknowledges the importance of mothering. My earliest participation in this celebration, was the morning I proudly carried the breakfast tray into my mother’s room for the first time. Serving my Mum breakfast in bed was my way of thanking her for the love and caring she was giving me. Of course, I didn’t fully appreciate all she was doing to raise me to be a happy, healthy, good person. Yet my mother did this each day with boundless grace and love.

TIPS:

– Relish the challenges of parenting. Be pleased that you’re doing your best as a mother.

– Take pleasure in the fact that you get your children to school each day so that they can receive a good education; that you’re able to feed, clothe, and give them a safe, loving home; that through your efforts you are giving them a good start in life.

– Be glad to “Direct your children onto the right path (so that), when they are older, they will not leave it.” The Bible, Proverbs 22:6.

– Feel satisfied that through your spiritual values and example, your children will become model citizens, knowing right from wrong, treating everyone with respect and kindness, and being a blessing to others at home, school and in the community.

– Have inner contentment. Find joy in allowing meditation or prayer help you be a happy mother. “Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each thought and each motive beneath His control.” – W.D. Longstaff .

– Be grateful for your mother’s nurturing and the selfless caring that women around the world give their own children and others. “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” Science and Health p. 57 – Mary Baker Eddy.

– Be joyous. With the help of a divine Mother-love you can fulfill your parenting tasks with poise and grace, and celebrate happy mothering.

Mind Over Matter? Mindfulness Meditation For Pain Management

 

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Pain is subjective. It is a sensory and emotional experience that can be influenced by countless factors, ranging from expectations to mood or even faith. Chronic pain can be highly despairing and significantly affect one’s quality of life and emotional state. The currently available analgesic treatments don’t always work, and pain researchers keep searching for more effective options for pain management.

In the last decades, there have been many studies proposing that mindfulness meditation can reduce pain and improve health, both in experimental and in clinical contexts.

Mindfulness meditation is a cognitive practice that involves paying full attention to whatever internal and external experiences are occurring in the present moment, as you experience them. It is a technique that combines focused attention on breathing with objective non-judgmental acceptance of arising thoughts and sensations. This means accepting an experience with an even mind, not judging it as good or bad.

One of the main doubts regarding the analgesic effect of mindfulness meditation has been how exactly it happens. It could be argued that mindfulness meditation could simply reduce pain through a placebo-like effect, or due to the context of participating in a meditation intervention, including expectations, shifted attention, the setting, body posture, breathing, or other processes associated with the simple awareness or belief that one is practicing meditation.

Recent research

In 2015, The Journal of Neuroscience published a study whose goal was to precisely determine whether or not the neuronal mechanisms of mindfulness meditation-induced pain relief were similar to those of placebo analgesia, or if they were due to contextual influences.

The study combined different approaches, including psychophysical, physiological, and brain imaging methods, to test the hypothesis that mindfulness meditation reduces pain by activating specific neurological mechanisms, different from those of placebo analgesia. Given the impact that the context of a meditation intervention can have on pain perception, as mentioned above, the study also compared the effect of active mindfulness meditation with a sham mindfulness meditation technique – one that would lead the participants to believe that they were practicing mindfulness meditation, but that would only engage relaxation mechanisms.

As had been hypothesized, it was found that mindfulness meditation decreased pain intensity and unpleasantness beyond the analgesic effects of placebo or sham mindfulness meditation. Furthermore, effective mindfulness meditation engaged brain mechanisms that were indeed distinct from those of placebo-induced analgesia or sham mindfulness meditation.

Whereas sham mindfulness meditation-induced analgesia was associated with lower respiration rates, reflecting a relaxation response, mindfulness meditation-reduced pain ratings were independent of respiration rate and were achieved via neurological mechanisms of pain modulation. Mindfulness meditation decreased the activation of brain regions involved in processing sensory information and in the cognitive modulation of pain. This study indicated that mindfulness meditation is an active cognitive practice, whereas a placebo effect arises from a more passive cognitive state.

What was still to be understood were the details of how mindfulness meditation induces the analgesic effect, what neurochemical pathways it activates in the brain. The same research group from the aforementioned study now aimed at trying to find an answer for that. In a new study, also published in The Journal of Neuroscience, they hypothesized that, given the high concentrations of opioid receptors found in brain regions associated with the cognitive modulation of pain, and the known involvement of endogenous opioids in the cognitive inhibition of pain, maybe this system could be part of the mechanisms of mindfulness meditation-induced analgesia.

Using naloxone, a drug that blocks the effect of opioids, it was shown that the inhibition of the opioid system did not affect analgesia induced by mindfulness meditation. In the control group, on the other hand, the blockade of the opioid system induced an increase in pain perception, as expected. Although there are many other neurotransmitter systems which can account for the analgesic effect of mindfulness meditation, these results are still surprising – the opioid system is one of the main modulators of pain and the fact that it apparently has no influence on the mechanisms of mindfulness meditation-induced analgesia is intriguing.

The authors of this study speculate on some alternative explanations for this effect. They suggest that “mindfulness meditation may be a complex, cognitive process that likely engages multiple brain networks and neurochemical mechanisms to attenuate pain.”

Mind over matter

Indeed, there is mounting evidence indicating that mindfulness meditation activates brain regions associated with the contextual evaluation of pain. A reduced activity of the thalamus has also been reported; this is important because the thalamus is one of the main structures in pain processing – it receives sensory information, processes it, and then transmits it to the cortex, were it reaches consciousness. The fact that thalamic activity may be reduced due to mindfulness meditation therefore indicates that it may somehow diminish sensory processing, or that it may prevent this sensory information from reaching conscious awareness.

Although there is still a lot to be learned about its processes, what seems somewhat clear is that mindfulness meditation may be an interesting alternative approach to pain management – it’s mind over matter.

References

Brown, C., & Jones, A. (2010). Meditation experience predicts less negative appraisal of pain: Electrophysiological evidence for the involvement of anticipatory neural responses Pain, 150 (3), 428-438 DOI: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.04.017

Grant, J., & Rainville, P. (2009). Pain Sensitivity and Analgesic Effects of Mindful States in Zen Meditators: A Cross-Sectional Study Psychosomatic Medicine, 71 (1), 106-114 DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31818f52ee

Zeidan, F., Adler-Neal, A., Wells, R., Stagnaro, E., May, L., Eisenach, J., McHaffie, J., & Coghill, R. (2016). Mindfulness-Meditation-Based Pain Relief Is Not Mediated by Endogenous Opioids Journal of Neuroscience, 36 (11), 3391-3397 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4328-15.2016

Zeidan, F., Emerson, N., Farris, S., Ray, J., Jung, Y., McHaffie, J., & Coghill, R. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation-Based Pain Relief Employs Different Neural Mechanisms Than Placebo and Sham Mindfulness Meditation-Induced Analgesia Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (46), 15307-15325 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2542-15.2015

Zeidan, F., Gordon, N., Merchant, J., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Meditation Training on Experimentally Induced Pain The Journal of Pain, 11 (3), 199-209 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.07.015

Zeidan, F., Grant, J., Brown, C., McHaffie, J., & Coghill, R. (2012). Mindfulness meditation-related pain relief: Evidence for unique brain mechanisms in the regulation of pain Neuroscience Letters, 520 (2), 165-173 DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.03.082

Zeidan, F., Martucci, K., Kraft, R., Gordon, N., McHaffie, J., & Coghill, R. (2011). Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation Journal of Neuroscience, 31 (14), 5540-5548 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5791-10.2011

Fulfilling Our Unique Humanity

 

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Maslow, Rogers, Satir and Erickson are just some of the scholars who have shaped and will continue to shape a core psychological paradigm – humanism.

In this article, I elaborate on the optimal conditions necessary to become the best persons we can possibly be. Some psychologists refer to this ultimate state as self-actualization. I call it the optimal phenotype. I will also expound on the core features of what it is like to become self-actualized, as per Maslow.

Genetic underpinning is only a part of who we are. Genes create possibilities. Our internal and external experiences have more to do with the structure of our autobiography.

Getting our biopsychosocial needs met consistently and met over time is an important accomplishment. We need to experience essential survival needs, needs for safety and security, of affiliation and affection, for recognition and approval, to be in place before moving towards self-actualization.

According to Erickson, achieving mastery at each of the nine psychosocial developmental levels is another significant achievement. We learn to: trust others, show autonomy, demonstrate initiative, form an identity, realize intimacy with others, show generativity by serving others, and experience integrity and transcendence at the end of our days.

Those who eventually realize self-actualization evidence four common qualities. One, they have several, very close friendships as opposed to many “friends” on the varied social internet sites. Secondly, they are intrinsically motivated as opposed to some who seek external rewards for their actions. They experience a clarity about who they are and not in the world. Finally, periods of intense joy and contentment are frequent.

We all have an opportunity to be and do the best we can, and the end result is absolutely amazing!

Be resilient! It’s good for your health

Be resilient! It’s good for your health@Glowimages

When it comes to juggling family and work, parents and workers can sometimes get bent-out-of-shape by the demands made on them. They can feel pulled in two directions or mentally stretched to the limit. When this happens, life can be a tight ball of stress. The answer? Be resilient. Stay emotionally on-track under pressure. Retain your mental balance and poise. It’s good for your health.

BE A RESILIENT PERSON

A resilient person is someone who is adaptable and recovers readily from stress or misfortune. The key to being resilient is to have a bucket-load of mental qualities, such as suppleness, elasticity, and flexibility. These thought-qualities allow you to easily rebound from stressful situations, and regain control of your emotions and your life.

It’s like the humble rubber-band. Being supple, the band can be stretched sideways a long way without breaking. It can be formed into a triangle, rectangle, square, or even rolled into a tight ball. Yet, no matter how it’s treated, when the pressure is released, the circular band easily recovers its original shape.

While the ability to rebound quickly is sometimes thought to be associated with genetics, one’s temperament, or good parenting, resilience is actually a mental, spiritual capability which we all have. No one has to think or act like a metal paperclip, which is inflexible, rigid, and when stretched can’t readily recover its form.

TIPS:

– When faced with a difficult situation, draw on spiritual resilience to help you overcome it.

– Maintain your balance in life. Be supple – bend with the winds of hardship or misfortune, and then recover quickly, easily, from trouble or stress.

– Be assured, that “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.”  Mary Baker Eddy – Science and Health p.574

– Affirm often during the day, that you are resilient, flexible, able to live a happy, healthy life.

– Retain your mental composure. Bounce back from disappointment or discouragement. You can do it!

Be reassured: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not.” Bible II Corinthians

– Mentally stand firm. Don’t stay rigid with fear or despair.

– Defeat ignorant prejudice or bullying, with courage and determination.

– Be strong. Get up each day mentally stronger than the day before.

– Practice thinking and being resilient. It’s good for your health.

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