|The information about meditation is from a recent email I received from Luminosity. I practice meditation because of the known benefits and recommend it to anyone who seeks greater peace, insight, health, and well-being. I also recommend the brain training exercises at Luminosity. If you have not tried them, go to Lumosity.com and sign up for their free training. It is great fun and helps improve your memory.|
For more information on meditation and its benefits, I recommend the following books:
Super Brain - Chopra and Tanzi
The Mindfulness Solution - Siegel
Real Happiness - Salsberg
How to Meditate - Chodron
Meditation for Beginners - Kornfield
"A new study out of Brown University has found that a form of mindfulness meditation known as MBSR may act as a "volume knob" for attention, changing brain wave patterns.
What is MBSR?
Originally developed by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is based on mindfulness meditation techniques that have been practiced in some form or another for over two millennia. The 8-week MBSR program still follows some of the same principles of the original Buddhist practice, training followers to focus a "spotlight of attention" on different parts of their body. Eventually, it is hoped, practitioners learn to develop the same awareness of their mental states.
In the last 20 years, MBSR and a similar practice called mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) have been included in an increasing number of healthcare plans in the developed world. Some studies have shown that these practices can reduce distress in individuals with chronic pain and decrease risk of relapses into depression.
In this study, Brown University researchers wanted to investigate whether MBSR could have a broader application beyond the clinical realm. Could MBSR impact the alpha brain waves that help filter and organize sensory inputs, improving attentional control?
Researchers divided the study’s 12 healthy adult participants into two groups: a test group that underwent MBSR training for 8 weeks, and a control group that did not. After 8 weeks, a brain imaging technique known as magnetoencephalography (MEG) was used to measure alpha wave patterns in participants.
While hooked up to the brain scanning equipment, participants felt taps on their hands and feet at random intervals. On average, those who trained with MBSR demonstrated faster and greater alpha wave changes in response to these taps. These alpha wave surges indicated that participants were better able to quickly focus attention on the relevant body parts.
How alpha waves affect cognition
Alpha rhythms help filter irrelevant sensory inputs in the brain. Without proper filtering, the ability to carry out many basic cognitive operations can be crippled.
Imagine the simple task of backing a car out of the driveway. In order to reach the street safely, you must hold your destination in mind while steering and ignoring distractions from every modality: news on the radio, children playing at the end of the block, an itch on your foot, the glare of the sun in your eyes. Most people filter out these distractions subconsciously — but should irrelevant stimuli distract you, backing out can become a difficult ordeal.
This Brown University study is in line with other research on meditation, confirming previous findings that link enhanced attentional performance and fewer errors in tests of visual attention with meditation. While it’s still too early to declare meditation a cure-all for everything from attentional control to chronic pain, it’ll be fascinating to see what future research uncovers about this millennia-old tradition’s impact on the brain.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Using alcohol and drugs to alter the state of your consciousness is a slippery slop that few can escape without leaving scars within and without.
It may start out as innocent fun but if engaged in long enough it becomes a habit and you permanently change the wiring of your brain. This rewiring leads to the destruction of the things most of us hold dear; health, relationships, finances, jobs, spirituality, and self-respect. Once the brain is wired for addiction, you put “it” before everyone and everything else and the parts of the brain that have to do with relationships, memory and decision making actually shrink.
You are more at risk for addiction if you have a family history of addiction, suffered abuse, neglect or were traumatized as a child and if you began using at a young age or administered the drug by smoking or injecting.
Having grown up surrounded by the disease of alcoholism, I can tell you first hand that it leads to abandonment, betrayal, sexual deviance, relationship crimes, dependency, spiritual bankruptcy, self-hatred, anxiety and panic, dishonesty, personality disorders, distortions of reality, divorce, isolation, shame, and physical disease.
For a fuller discussion of addition please click on the link below.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Below is an exert from Dr. Mercola's recent newsletter regarding the use of antidepressants and what you can do naturally to improve your mood. The information if valuable so I am sharing it with you. Please check out the entire article. The link for the article is at the body of this page.
- Dramatically decrease your consumption of refined sugar (particularly fructose), grains, and processed foods. (In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.) There's a great book on this subject, The Sugar Blues, written by William Dufty more than 30 years ago, that delves into the topic of sugar and mental health in great detail.
- Increase consumption of probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables and kefir, to promote healthy gut flora. Mounting evidence tells us that having a healthy gut is profoundly important for both physical and mental health, and the latter can be severely impacted by an imbalance of intestinal bacteria.
- Get adequate vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through regular sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important for your mood. In one study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.18
The best way to get vitamin D is through exposure to SUNSHINE, not swallowing a tablet. Remember, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that we know is related to sunshine deficiency, so it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize your vitamin D is through sun exposure, or a safe tanning bed if you don't have regular access to the sun.
- Get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats. Many people don't realize that their brain is 60 percent fat, but not just any fat. It is DHA, an animal based omega-3 fat which, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental health.19Unfortunately, most people don't get enough from diet alone. Make sure you take a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.
Dr. Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist, was one of the early leaders in compiling the evidence supporting the use of animal based omega-3 fats for the treatment of depression. He wrote an excellent book that details his experience in this area called The Omega-3 Connection.
- Evaluate your salt intake. Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You'll want to use an all-natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.
- Get adequate daily exercise, which is one of the most effective strategies for preventing and overcoming depression. Studies on exercise as a treatment for depression have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. So there’s a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.
- Get adequate amounts of sleep. You can have the best diet and exercise program possible, but if you aren't sleeping well you can easily become depressed. Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression.
To see the entire article please copy and paste this link into your browser.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Want to reduce your household expenses, avoid the use of toxic substances and reduce waste at the landfill?
I am not a big fan of giving money to Proctor and Gamble ( any other similar manufactures for that matter) and prefer to use more natural products on my body and in my home.
If you look under your sinks and count the number of containers of cleaning supplies and multiple that number by 4 (the average cost these days is about $3.00 - $4.00 per container) you will have an idea of how much you spend on supplies for your home and personal use items. You can eliminate the expense and the clutter by using more natural and inexpensive supplies which you may already have in your home.
Please see the suggestions below and decide which ones you can incorporate into your life.
Flour and corn meal: prevent bugs by freezing new bags for 48 hours before placing them in the cabinet
Lemons.and limes: freeze whole after washing well, to use grate while still frozen and add them to recipes (makes delicious salad dressings and sauces)
Bananas: wrap in foil and freeze after starting to turn brown and use in smoothies, snacks, and baking after slightly thawing.
Coffee: freeze left over coffee in an ice tray to make iced coffee and coffee flavored shakes
Chicken broth: freeze broth in an ice tray, after frozen store in plastic bags and use cubes as needed
vegetables cooked in chicken broth decreases the need for salt and fats for great flavor
Coconut milk: freeze in an ice tray, after frozen store in plastic bags and use cubes as needed.
Fresh Herbs: chop and place in ice tray, cover with water or olive oil, after frozen store in freezer, add to recipes as needed
Cleaning fruits and vegetables: soak in mixture of white vinegar and water before use
Tea bags: freeze used tea bags and place on eyes for 10-15 minutes to reduce puffiness and dark circles
Fingernails: harden nails by adding fresh crushed garlic to clear nail polish. Let stand for a week and use often. It takes several minutes after polishing for the garlic smell to subside.
Smooth skin: apply olive oil and leave on for 20 minutes before washing away
apply virgin coconut oil to skin after cleansing and
exfoliate skin on the face with baking soda combined with lotion, water, coconut oil or soap
use coconut oil to remove eye makeup
use coconut oil as facial moisturizer
use coconut oil as soap
Hand Scrub: mix olive oil with course salt, gently scrub and rinse
Body Scrub: mix yellow corn meal with body lotion, gentle scrub entire body while in the shower and then wash
Clean teeth and gums: brush teeth and then swish 1 tsp coconut oil around teeth and gums for 20 minutes (oil pulling) and spit.
Toothpaste: combine baking soda, salt, coconut oil and a drop of peppermint, brush as usual
Deodorant: apply baking soda to underarms with a cotton ball, sprinkle baking soda in shoes, garbage cans, etc.
Glass top stove: clean with baking soda and water paste after each use, buff glass for shine, keep a scrapper handy to scrap away spills after each use.
Garbage disposal: add baking soda and white vinegar for a deodorizing clean or use lemon juice and baking soda.
Marble: clean with lemon juice and baking soda
Stainless steel counter tops: clean with baking soda and lemon juice
Stuck on food in stainless steel pans: boil water in pan until stuck on food comes off easily or sprinkle stuck on food with baking soda and let sit until ready to clean
Clean hardwood, wood laminate, tile floors: mix white vinegar and water, 1/2 cup vinegar to a gallon of warm water
Stainless steel appliances: wipe with coconut oil applied to a soft cloth to remove prints and streaks
Windows: clean with vinegar and water or make your own all purpose cleaner:
1 cup ammonia (purchase at a Dollar Store)
1 pint alcohol
1/2 teaspoon dish washing liquid
1 gallon of water (use hot water for really greasy, soiled areas)
Fabric softener: add 3/4 cup baking soda to rinse cycle
Stain remover: combine baking soda, salt, and hydrogen peroxide and apply to stains
Send me your favorites, I would love to know what they are.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Recently I attended a presentation by a Board Certified Internal Medicine, Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine physician. I will share with you the information I took away from the program. Nothing new was presented, that is if you keep up with the information coming forth from nutrition and alternative medicine, but if you don't,
you might find the information new and informative.
This physician would be considered a maverick by mainstream medicine because she (yes, the doctor was female) provides the ultimate form of preventative healthcare through nutrition testing and counseling, detoxification programs, weight loss programs, bio-identical hormone replacement, and nutraceuticals.
Traditional doctors focus on treating diseases after they occur and use man-made pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures to treat disease, a totally different approach than Functional Medicine.
The physician stated that 95% of US health care dollars is spent on treating diseases and 5% on preventing them and that the US is rated number 17 in the list of countries whose citizens have the best health.
The goal of Functional Medicine is to detect abnormalities early in order to prevent disease, balance hormones, make nutrition the foundation for health, and achieve optimal lab values rather the just normal values.
Milk was identified as the worst food for the body in terms of weight, cancer, allergies, calcium, and acidity. The calcium in dairy is hard for the body to absorb. If it stays in the blood stream it contributes to the build
The doctor had a lot to say about calcium and her recommendations are:
Achieve optimal vitamin D levels.
Perform resistance training, walking is not enough.
Consider hormone replacement with bio-identical hormones.
Don't take calcium with fiber because it prevents absorption.
Do not use Tums as a source of calcium because it neutralizes the acid needed to absorb the calcium
The best calcium supplement is calcium citrate.
Consume 1200 grams per day from food and supplement.
Don't use over the counter supplements (pharmaceutical grade supplements are only available from a licensed health care provider )
Consume plants that provide calcium: kale, collard greens, broccoli, seeds, almonds,
Almond milk is less acidic, the calcium is better absorbed, and is preferred over rice milk.
Take calcium with Vitamin K because it prevents the calcium from ending up in your arteries ( the primary source of vitamin K is green leafy vegetables).
Stop excess alcohol, smoking, and caffeine.
If you do not take in enough calcium it will be leached from the bones in order to keep the body alkaline. Not a good thing for the bones. Also, the casein (milk protein) in dairy products is associated with tumors in rats. The results of The China Study (released in 2006), lead the researchers to conclude that any type of animal protein could promote cancer but plant protein did not. A plant based diet is recommended for optimal health. Animal proteins can promote cancer and keep the body's ph too acidic and diseases thrive in an acidic environment. Plants are alkaline and contribute to a healthy internal environment.
The doctor was emphatically against the use of biophosphonates ( Fosamax, Boniva) for the treatment of osteoporosis because they are associated with increased risk for fractures of the femur and jaw bone with tooth extractions. She stated Forteo is associated with an increased risk of osteo-sarcoma and decreased parathyroid function.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The doctor promoted hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with bio-identical hormones. Balanced levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are necessary for optimal health. An imbalance will cause weight gain and cognitive decline. As we age all hormones decrease, except cortisol and insulin which increases. Increased levels of these hormones contribute to the development of many chronic diseases.
The doctor's Golden Rules for HRT are:
Never take oral estrogen (increases risk of breast and uterine cancer, blood clots and stroke) Use topical.
Never take without also taking progesterone.
Never use with birth control pills.
Test levels of hormones with saliva, not serum.
Proper nutrition activates the bodies hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy may not be working if the body is toxic. The body accumulates toxins, like heavy metals, through cleaning products, plastic, nonstick cookware, etc. Many of the lotions and potions we use contain chemicals that mimic bad estrogen (estrone) when absorbed into the body. Increased estrone levels are believed to be the cancer promoting componenst of estrogen (remember Premarin- pregnant mare urine? Not anything like a woman's hormones.)
Another hormone, Progesterone, builds bone, decreases blood pressure and stimulates scalp hair growth. Testosterone another hormone that needs to be balanced with estrogen, maintains muscles, promotes bone health, and healthy sex drive. It may also help prevent cardiovascular disease and inhibit breast cancer.
Insulin and Cortisol
Elevated insulin and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels cause a break down in the bodies ability to function at an optimal level. An imbalance in these hormones leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, premature aging, high blood pressure, inflammatory response, and poor immune function.
The doctor recommends blood glucose levels be assessed using the A1C Hemoglobin test rather than the fasting glucose level which is most often used. The A1C test shows blood sugar levels over a 3 month period where as the fasting glucose only tells you what the blood sugar level is at the moment your blood is drawn.
Avoid blood sugar spikes. For better control of blood sugar levels, combine carbohydrates with a protein and fat to slow the absorption and prevent sudden increases, followed by severe dips in the blood sugar level.
The China Study showed a correlation between animal protein and cancer. Choose plant proteins like hemp, which is as near a complete a protein as you will find. Combine rice and pea proteins to obtain a complete protein and avoid whey protein. Also, the kidneys tolerate a plant proteins better than animal protein.
Testing that is commonly performed to determine wheat allergy does not adequately assess for sensitivity because the test only looks at a small number of wheat proteins. The doctor recommends a more expanded panel to accurately assess. If you have any autoimmune diseases, thyroid, arthritis, hepatits, inflammatory bowel disease, the doctor recommends avoiding gluten.
Make vegetables 50% of your diet.
Consume plant based proteins
Avoid whey protein, use hemp, rice or pea protein for shakes.
Use organic foods when possible.
Avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Avoid corn, wheat, soy, sugar.
Use healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil.
Use pharmaceutical grade supplements, not over the counter.
Drink water that is purified by reverse osmosis.
Consume only two fruits a day if weight is a problem.
Avoid nonstick cookware. Use stainless steel or cast iron.
Get proper amount of sleep (weight gain is associated with insufficient sleep)
Well, that is it. I hope you find something useful here. By the way, this is informational only and is not to be considered medical advice. Always talk to a health care professional about what is right for you.
Good health to you!
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
My prayer for the day.
May You bless the minds and hearts of Americans today. Many have already voted but many will be making their decision today and they will decide who will lead this nation of people. May their minds connect with Your mind and may Your will be done.
We ask that the appointed leader of this nation care for the well being of everyone, keep his promises, have honor, integrity, put cooperation above domination, appreciate diversity, respect and love the people of this planet and work to preserve its resources.
May government not just be a big game of dominance, power and wealth but a governance that will evolve the minds and hearts of of the people, bring peace, freedom, justice, and prosperity to the planet.
Freedom is a right and privilege and feels really good. Thank you that we have it.
Susan Ellison RN BSN RTC
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Anxiety and panic, two very uncomfortable emotional states, plague a number of people but anyone who suffers from these uncomfortable and debilitating feelings need not feel hopeless or helpless.
There are a number of non- pharmaceutical techniques that can bring relief and best of all they are simple to learn and inexpensive.
A panic attack can make you feel as if you are about to die. Your chest feels constricted. You feel as though you cannot breathe. Your heart races out of control and you may have the uncontrollable urge to scream madly or take off running.
What the heck happens?
Let's look at what is happening on a physical level when panic overtakes you. There is a part of your brain called the amygdala that is responsible for anxiety and panic. Its purpose is to keep you safe when you are being threatened. It releases a bolus of chemicals which activates the flight or fight response. Your pupils dilate so your vision will improve, your blood is shunted away from the internal organs and sent to the muscles in your limbs so you can perform superhuman feats or run like the wind.
This kind of physical response can occur even though it is not needed. You can be interacting with your boss, or partner, or in traffic and have this response occur if the amygdala gets activated.
When you panic during a situation when it isn't called for, you loose the ability to think clearly and you end up sabotaging yourself. The amygdala becomes activated by a fearful word, a fearful thought, which triggers a belief that you are in danger and the belief causes the panic button to be pushed. Wham!!!
What is my mind doing?
A metaphor I like to use to understand my mind is to think of it as a house with many rooms. When you are in panic you are in the basement where it's dark, suffocating, unknown and frightening. Another room holds the images and beliefs about the parts of yourself and others that you like, the things you are proud of, the images of your best self as well of that of others. Another room holds your judgments, condemnations, and criticisms of yourself and others.
Lastly, there is a room which is your sanctuary. There is only calm, peacefulness, reverence, safety and silence here. Fear has never existed within these walls. It is the part you were born with which is free of any judgments, beliefs, or conditioning. It is pure awareness. If you are religious it is where God resides or where the seat of the soul resides.
Awareness of your thoughts allows you to quickly identify which room of your "mental" house your awareness is focused. You can learn to move your awareness out of one room into an other.
You have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Thoughts come and go all day long. It is important to know you are not your thoughts and that just because you think something does not mean it's true. Thoughts can be picked up from the environment and do not necessarily originate with you.The thoughts you allow to be repeated over and over in your mind, and that you identify with, become your beliefs. Your beliefs determine your perception of yourself and your world. Your beliefs produce the chemical reactions which occur in the body that lead to a panic state or to peaceful, relaxed state. A belief produces chemical changes in the body whether the belief is true or not.
For relief from anxiety and panic you must become aware of your beliefs and resolve to change the negative ones which open you to be attacked by your own thinking.
What can I do?
Meditation, relaxation exercises, yoga, guided imagery, toning, breath work, talk therapy, massage, herbs, energy healing, and meridian tapping, are all techniques that can be used to relieve the negative thought patterns which create anxiety and panic. A daily practice of anyone of these techniques or any combination of them, can help quiet your mind and reduce the occurrence of anxiety and panic attacks.
Your body is a walking pharmacy and it manufactures the chemicals which produce relaxation or panic. These techniques stimulate the body to produce relaxing chemicals.
If you would like information on any of these techniques, send me an email I will send you some internet links or I will help you evaluate which modality might work best for you.
What makes my anxiety worse?
The amygdala can be stimulated by caffeine, nicotine, viewing violent acts, being in hostile environments, and ruminating on fearful thoughts. Good mental health and good physical health must be a priority in order for the body to deal with anxiety.
Healthy nutrition, adequate water, physical exercise, adequate sleep, removal of toxins, supportive relationships, a purpose in life are all necessary for creating good health and creating mental and emotional balance.
Take a look at your life and see what areas really need to be improved upon in order to promote physical and mental health.
Your well being should be your number one priority. If it is not, you can be quickly overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life and become the victim of out of control anxiety. You can not change the outer world but you can change your inner world with determination, support, and healthy, healing practices.
Be the best expression of yourself that you can be! That is what the world needs more than anything else.