Monthly Archives: February 2014

Older fathers linked with many psychiatric troubles in kids (Canada)

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Older fathers linked with many psychiatric troubles in kids (Canada)
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Opioid abuse initiates specific protein interactions in neurons in brain’s reward system

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Addiction News — ScienceDaily
Opioid abuse initiates specific protein interactions in neurons in brain’s reward system
Opiate use triggers changes in the protein RGS9-2 in neurons in the brain’s reward center, new research confirms. Repeated use affects analgesic relief and tolerance, as well as addiction. Opioid addiction is widespread and this research underscores the deleterious effects of its use. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2010, 1.9 million Americans satisfied abuse or dependence criteria for prescription opioids.

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Childhood experience of family problems affects brain development (Medical News Today)

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Childhood experience of family problems affects brain development (Medical News Today)
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What is Stress? (Insight Journal)

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What is Stress? (Insight Journal)
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White matter disease exacts heavy toll, increasing risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia

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Diet and Weight Loss News — ScienceDaily
White matter disease exacts heavy toll, increasing risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia
More evidence has been accumulated that damage to cognitive areas is widespread from white matter disease. White matter disease is responsible for about a fifth of all strokes worldwide, more than doubles the future risk of stroke, and is a contributing factor in up to 45% of dementias. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, which shrinks the hippocampus causing progressive memory loss, white matter disease is a more diffuse mind-robbing condition that targets small blood vessels deep within the brain’s white matter. The disease hardens the tiny arteries, gradually restricting nutrients to white matter — the connections between brain regions involved in executive abilities such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, and attention.

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The Gift of Tears

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
The Gift of Tears
There is a gift in the falling of a tear. It is a human way of cleansing the soul. Shedding tears bathes us in the healing properties of salt water. As the tears leave us we are both emptied and restored. Water conducts those highly-charged emotions and feelings that course through our veins.

We weep because we feel, and we feel because we’re all emotional, and we’re emotional because we care. Or should. I’ll just step up onto that soapbox for a second and get all judgmental and say that if you don’t care then you should. We all should. We all should care more. About everything.

2014-02-26-cryingeye.jpg

Why do we shed tears? Because we are sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed or wronged. We shed tears for our selves, our families, our friends. For poor test scores, rejections, failures. We shed tears for people we don’t know and outcomes we don’t understand and we shed tears for war and cruel behavior. We shed tears for poverty, we shed tears for not being able to afford the red shoes that we want and we shed tears when we feel unloved and alone.

But tears are not only for woes. We weep a stream of tears of joy continuously from the moment our children emerge from our bodies covered in goo to their first steps on up through school (okay, a whole lot of not-so-fab tears get shed during the teen years, but I digress, and even those tears I would argue are restorative to the soul) and through to marriage and their own children and futures. We shed bittersweet tears at every milestone in their lives as they move further away from us and into their own worlds.

Dear friend, I ask you, is that so bad?

There is a richness to an emotional life. A gift in feeling. It is a blessing to be aware enough of that which goes on inside and around us. It is a great gift to us as human beings that we can take in, process, and express our feelings.

Consider the alternative. Exploding? I think not.

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Surge in designer drugs, tainted ‘E’ poses lethal risks

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Addiction News — ScienceDaily
Surge in designer drugs, tainted ‘E’ poses lethal risks
With up to 10 new designer drugs flooding streets every year, more education is needed to convey risks, especially among youth. In the span of a decade, Canada has gone from ecstasy importer to global supplier of the illegal party drug. At the same time, even newer designer highs — sometimes just a mouse-click away — are flooding the drug market faster than legislation can keep pace.

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How Stressed Out Are You? (Insight Journal)

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How Stressed Out Are You? (Insight Journal)
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Why tackling appetite could hold the key to preventing childhood obesity

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Diet and Weight Loss News — ScienceDaily
Why tackling appetite could hold the key to preventing childhood obesity
A heartier appetite is linked to more rapid infant growth and to genetic predisposition to obesity, according to two new papers. The studies investigated how weight gain is linked to two key aspects of appetite, namely lower satiety responsiveness (a reduced urge to eat in response to internal ‘fullness’ signals) and higher food responsiveness (an increased urge to eat in response to the sight or smell of nice food). The research suggests that satiety sensitivity could be targeted for pharmacological and behavioural interventions, to prevent or treat obesity, the authors state.

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Self-Esteem and the Intellectual Core Asset

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Self-Esteem and the Intellectual Core Asset
Bachelor_of_Science-480x280Intellectual well-being does not rely only on education. Self-esteem is an important part of this particular core asset. What is self-esteem? Simply put, it is how you perceive yourself when you look in the mirror. Do you feel good about the person you see there? Do you feel angry or ashamed? How you feel about yourself directly or indirectly affects your mood, attitudes, thoughts, decision making, and relationships, and your overall ROI on intellectual and mental health.

Good self-esteem doesn’t mean having a big ego. In reality, it is quite the opposite. People with healthy self-esteem have an innate sense of security, which actually allows them to see and accept their own imperfections. However, people with low self-esteem tend to have distorted views of themselves. Whether someone comes off as an overstuffed peacock or a shrinking violet, a distorted self-perception because of low self-esteem usually has little to do with what others actually think of that person. Whether positive or negative, the attitudes associated with self-esteem usually are the products of a lifetime, and they imprint on the fabric of the mind.

With the mind’s ability to weave such unpleasant webs, how does anyone begin to get over the distorted realities generated by low self-esteem? If you have been suffering in any of these ways, the first thing to do is recognize the problem. It may be easier said than done; that is true of many things in life. But starting somewhere is the key. You have the ability to shift your perceptions. Don’t avoid it — own up to it and get to work.

It could take some time, especially if the blame game has been at work. But eventually you may be able to begin asking, “Why do I really feel this way?” Unraveling the sources of insecurity through self-examination is a move in the direction of healing. Employing one or more of the techniques for stress relief may be helpful. Your chance for insight may emerge when you slow down the spinning wheels in your mind.

Once you begin to ask questions, you can move to the next phase: getting to know yourself. Explore who you are inside — your likes, your dislikes, and the values that drive your actions in the world. Most of all, get to know your foibles and even what you may see as your shortcomings. Get comfortable in your own skin. You don’t have to be the person you think your mother wanted you to be or the person you want the public to believe you are. Recognize your own uniqueness, and you will discover unlimited potential.

As you wind your way through greater self-awareness, you will get to the place of realizing that no one is perfect. The perfectionist is the only one in need of constant approval. The ways in which you diverge from the norm in some way are the very traits people tend to appreciate and admire in others. If you deal with your perceived imperfections in a healthy way, that experience builds character and makes you stronger mentally.

When low self-esteem has you trying to hide your imperfections and shortcomings, life becomes stressful. The energy expended to keep secrets and hold back thoughts and feelings makes daily living exhausting. It is no wonder that when people share their imperfections, they feel like a big weight has been lifted from their shoulders.

Ultimately only you can help yourself reap the highest possible ROI on self-esteem. Many methods are out there to transition negative feelings to positive ones. Here is one I recommend: Take a leap of faith and share an honest moment with someone. Try telling someone about a trait of yours that you think is an imperfection. Sharing is a sign of strength, not weakness. It shows humbleness, earns respect, and makes friends. It is an act of high self-esteem and self-confidence. This simple moment of humility will help you get stronger in the all-important ability to respect and love yourself no matter the circumstance.

Sanjay Jain is a US-trained Board Certified physician, with over 15 years of clinical experience. He is the author of the new book, OPTIMAL LIVING 360: Smart Decision Making for a Balanced Life (Greenleaf, February 2014). Sanjay represents a new wave of thought leadership and expertise developed not only from his medical and financial education, but also his life experiences. Follow Sanjay on Twitter at @sanjayjainmd and visit his website at SanjayJainMD.com.

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Blood Pressure Meds May Raise Risk of Serious Falls for Seniors (Yahoo!)

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Blood Pressure Meds May Raise Risk of Serious Falls for Seniors (Yahoo!)
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Prevalence of high school seniors’ marijuana use is expected to increase with legalization

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Addiction News — ScienceDaily
Prevalence of high school seniors’ marijuana use is expected to increase with legalization
Large proportions of high school students normally at low risk for marijuana use (e.g., non-cigarette-smokers, religious students, those with friends who disapprove of use) reported intention to use marijuana if it were legal, a new study reports. National support for marijuana legalization is increasing in the United States. Recreational use was recently legalized in the states of Colorado and Washington; other states across the country are expected to follow suit. To date, an additional 15 states have decriminalized marijuana use, and 19 states and the District of Columbia now allow medical marijuana to be prescribed.

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Types of Stress (Insight Journal)

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Types of Stress (Insight Journal)
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Want a better work-life balance? Exercise, study finds (Science Daily)

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Want a better work-life balance? Exercise, study finds (Science Daily)
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Chemicals in ‘Western’ Diet Show Alzheimer’s-Like Effects in Mice (Yahoo!)

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Chemicals in ‘Western’ Diet Show Alzheimer’s-Like Effects in Mice (Yahoo!)
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10 Signs He’s Cheating

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
10 Signs He’s Cheating
There’s no doubt that cheating is on the rise. The number of cheaters and victims of cheating I’m seeing is twofold compared to just a few years ago. If this is any indication of the national trend, then it’s an epidemic of sorts. Are more people cheating? Quite possibly. But just as there are that many more ways to communicate and connect with people (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, texting, and the countless dating sites and apps) there are also that many more ways to get caught. An intercepted text has become the modern day version of lipstick on the collar. Whether people are cheating more, being more careless, or spouses are better at catching their cheater, I don’t know. The bottom line: the numbers are staggering and troubling. Below are 10 signs that your man is cheating. Some are obvious while others not so obvious. Remember, any one sign by itself is not nearly as compelling as several or a pattern.

1. He deviates from his baseline behavior.
People have patterns to their behaviors. These usually are quite inflexible and fixed. When there’s a gross distraction such as an affair, patterns will change. So, take note that this could indicate he is cheating.

2. His mood changes quickly.
This might be the result of him being conflicted: being with you but wanting to spend time with the new woman. Naturally it will lead to frustration, moodiness, and even anger. He may even start fights in an effort to sabotage your relationship.

3. He’s attached to his phone.
He’ll take it into the bathroom with him and say “I like to read the news.” Is this a new behavior? If so, be aware. He may also sleep with it by his bed and be guarded of it, not keeping it lying out on the table.

4. He changes his appearance.
Does he dress differently? Is he getting in shape? These changes in the context of other signs are worth noting.

5. Sex.
This one is tricky. You might see a complete withdrawal from sex or you might see him initiating it more. He might feel an extra charge of testosterone and confidence as a result of his new flame and feel the need to discharge it with you. He may also be trying to compensate for his indiscretions.

6. He confuses information.
For example, “Didn’t we dine here?” is a clear indicator he’s been there before and not with you. His points of reference are blurred as time spent with you are confused with time spent with the other woman.

7. He has a history of cheating.
Past behavior is often an indicator of current or future behavior, even in relationships. If he’s done it before it only makes it easier to do it again.

8. He doesn’t show remorse or guilt for wrong doings in other areas of his life.
Normally these are powerful and healthy emotions that keep people in check. A lack of them is a problem.

9. There’s a family history of cheating.
Although this is a predictor of cheating, it does come into play as people learn to model their parents’ behaviors. If there is such a history, has he talked about it? What has he learned from it? Processing it in a healthy way might help safeguard him from making similar mistakes.

10. He lies and does it well.
Does he talk about how he has deceived people outside of the relationship? Does he do it with the bravado of a narcissist? Definitely a red flag.

Perhaps more important than being on the lookout for these signs is trusting your gut and intuition. It’s powerful. Listen to it and use it to investigate. Doing so might spare you a lot of pain and agony down the road. Don’t make the mistake that so many women do and look the other way. Denial will not make him stop cheating nor will it improve your relationship. Taking action will.

For more tips on healthy relationships check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

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Specialized cognitive therapy improves blood sugar control in depressed diabetes patients

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Depression News — ScienceDaily
Specialized cognitive therapy improves blood sugar control in depressed diabetes patients
A program of cognitive behavioral therapy that addresses both mood and diabetes self-care led to improved blood sugar control and produced faster relief of depression in patients with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes. “The association between depression and type 2 diabetes is well documented, but clinical trials of either medication or psychological treatment for depression have had mixed or negative effects on adherence to treatment programs,” stated the lead author.

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Depression symptoms, emotional support impact PTSD treatment progress, study finds

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Depression symptoms, emotional support impact PTSD treatment progress, study finds
Researchers found that during PTSD treatments, rapid improvements in depression symptoms are associated with better outcomes.

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Tell-tale genes linked to eating disorders

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Diet and Weight Loss News — ScienceDaily
Tell-tale genes linked to eating disorders
Until recently, no one knew how eating disorders occur or what triggers them. Recently published research suggests a new strategy to understand eating disorders, and it may lead to innovative treatments.

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Pointing is infants’ first communicative gesture

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Pointing is infants’ first communicative gesture
Researchers have studied the acquisition and development of language in babies on the basis of the temporary coordination of gestures and speech. The results are the first in showing how and when they acquire the pattern of coordination between the two elements which allows them to communicate very early on.

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Parents’ attitudes about helping their grown children affect their mental health

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Depression News — ScienceDaily
Parents’ attitudes about helping their grown children affect their mental health
Older parents frequently give help to their middle-aged offspring, and their perceptions about giving this help may affect their mental health, according to a team of researchers. The team’s results suggest that parents who view giving as highly rewarding report higher levels of depressive symptoms when they give low amounts of tangible support, and lower levels of depressive symptoms when they give high amounts of tangible support. In contrast, parents who do not view giving as highly rewarding report higher levels of depressive symptoms when they give high amounts of tangible support, and lower levels of depressive symptoms when they give lower amounts of tangible support.

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Did you hear the one about the doctor? Using Facebook to eavesdrop on the collective conversation of current societal issues

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Did you hear the one about the doctor? Using Facebook to eavesdrop on the collective conversation of current societal issues
Researchers studied jokes made about doctors posted on Facebook in a new review that demonstrates the potential of using social networking sites for research on health and medicine. “Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have become immensely popular in recent years and present a unique opportunity for researchers to eavesdrop on the collective conversation of current societal issues,” said the lead author. Results showed that jokes in which the doctor (or the healthcare system) was the butt of the joke tended to be more successful, although the association was not statistically significant. Interestingly, the joke in the study that received the greatest number of Facebook likes was a “doctor, lawyer, priest joke” in which the lawyer was the butt of the joke.

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The Weekly Rune — Laguz

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
The Weekly Rune — Laguz

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Peer pressured to ‘sext:’ Study shows that teens who sext are influenced by peer dynamics

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Peer pressured to ‘sext:’ Study shows that teens who sext are influenced by peer dynamics
Are adolescents today “sexting” for popularity? Mobile phones are fully integrated into the social lives of today’s teenagers, and offer a sense of autonomy for those looking to hide from adult supervision. Concerns have risen over the use of the mobile phone as an instrument to download, produce, and distribute sexual imagery and a growing number of studies on adolescent mobile communication report that the consumption and distribution of pornographic imagery via mobile phones is common in adolescent peer groups. Though very few studies have asked “why” adolescents choose to participate in sexting or the use of mobile porn, those that have asked “why” continually point to the influence of peer group dynamics.

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Women with BRCA should have ovaries removed sooner to prevent cancer (Canada)

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Women with BRCA should have ovaries removed sooner to prevent cancer (Canada)
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When This Police Dog Retired He Got To Keep His Toys And His Loyal Companion

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
When This Police Dog Retired He Got To Keep His Toys And His Loyal Companion
When most retire, they’re left with benefits.

When K-9 Officer Kojack retired, he got to keep his house, kennel, squeaky toys, greenies, rope toys and his human companion. What a deal!

Earlier this month, Reddit user, pconwell, uploaded the retirement letter that he wrote to his loyal K-9 partner and shared some cute pictures of his furry friend.

According to his posts, their friendship started the first day he brought K-9 Officer Kojack home:
first day home

They liked to hang out in the backyard and play ball:
dog with ball

Kojack even got to nap on the job:
dog sleeping

Enjoy retirement, K-9 Officer Kojack!

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Young ‘pranksters’ skewed landmark sexuality study

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Young ‘pranksters’ skewed landmark sexuality study
The joke’s on a generation of human-sexuality researchers: Adolescent pranksters responding to the widely cited National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the mid-1990s may have faked nonheterosexuality.

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Wider-faced dates more attractive as short-term mates, study suggests

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Wider-faced dates more attractive as short-term mates, study suggests
Women may perceive men with wider faces as more dominant and more attractive for short-term relationships, according to a new study.

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Thanks Bode, for Letting Us See a Grieving Brother Cry

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Thanks Bode, for Letting Us See a Grieving Brother Cry
Bode Miller has nothing to be ashamed of and neither does Christin Cooper, the NBC reporter who asked repeated questions about the Olympic skier’s late brother. It’s okay for a grown man to cry, and it’s okay for the rest of us to watch it, too.

Since Sunday, columnists and the general public have lambasted NBC and Cooper for showing insensitivity in an interview of Miller after he won the bronze medal in the super-G. I watched the interview from a dual perspective, as a woman who lost her brother and as a journalist who has interviewed countless people after the death of a sibling, a parent, or a child.

2014-02-21-kevandlinda022.jpg
The author skiing with her brother in Utah, 1983

I intended not to join the fray and write about the controversy over Miller’s interview and how far a reporter should go in probing someone’s grief. But this week, my late brother Kevin is particularly on my mind. Tonight, I will mark the 28th anniversary of his death at my temple and say the Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer in his memory. Tonight, I will remember the brother with whom I used to snowski and waterski, a brother who would have loved watching Bode Miller race down that mountain on slalom skis, a brother who would have relished the daredevil traits of Chelone Miller, a snowboarder who died at age 29 after a seizure.

For many years after my brother’s death, I was ashamed to show much emotion. He died at age 23 after falling asleep at the wheel on a road trip from California to his home in Colorado. After college, Kevin moved out to Colorado because he loved to ski. He was just two years older than I. I had hoped to live in Colorado, too, so we both could share our passion for skiing and so that one day, our children could grow up together. Kevin was my best friend, the fun-loving guy I would willingly follow down nearly any ski hill, even a slope called the Jaws of the Death because the moguls were nearly as big as we were. He was the friend, too, who would I chat with every week about anything. At his funeral, I could not stop the tears that turned into loud, raucous sobs. And I was ashamed. It took years before I realized I never should have been embarrassed. It took years to understand that letting those tears run was a part of healing, an intensely human way of showing love and sorrow.

In his New York Times article on Feb. 17, Richard Sandomir writes how the skier “was holding up, but tears had started to trickle down Miller’s face,” as Cooper continued to question him about his feelings about his brother. “He was being a stand-up guy, even if he was being pulled through a wringer,” Sandomir continues and says that Cooper should have stopped the interview then. “If you’ve made a medal winner cry, it is time to simply say ‘thank you’ and move on,” he adds.

Why did Miller have to hold up? What’s wrong with a few tears? Those were natural, honest tears. He wasn’t being a stand-up guy. He was being himself, and in his own comments about the interview with Cooper, Miller notes that it was a emotional time. The bigger problem with the Cooper/Miller controversy seems to be our own discomfort with a public show of grief. Miller showed his humanity and his strength. It doesn’t matter whether he skied that run for his brother or for himself. He was doing what all of us have to figure out to do when we lose someone, putting one foot in front of the other. His brother died last April. Not even a year has passed.

I look back to my own loss. It took three years before I found solid footing. I quit a few jobs in my early 20s, unable to cope with the first, and then the second, anniversary of my brother’s death. In those early years, I was doing my best to be the “stand-up guy” and not show the emotion ripping me apart inside. I was trying to be stoic. I bought into the inane societal idea that it is somehow brave not to cry.

As a newspaper reporter, I on occasion had to cover murders and accidents and interview families of the victims. I remember my hesitation about knocking on the door of a family whose 16-year-old son had been killed on his doorstep as he came home from Bible study. The teen, who was not a gang member, was caught in random gunfire between gangs. His mother was a secretary at a high school, and I had seen her in passing before. She welcomed me into her home because she wanted to talk about her son. I sat with her and her daughter and let them talk and wipe away tears. I struggled to hold my own tears inside. In my case, there was no camera.

Sure, there were times when people would shut the door in my face, and I respected that. But when they were willing, I did my job, and my job was to tell their story. It was Christin Cooper’s job to tell Bode’s. Maybe NBC should have pulled the camera away sooner, but I don’t regret that the world got to see how much Bode Miller loved and missed his little brother. His show of grief likely will help other grieving brothers and sisters with sorrow much more raw than mine. At the very least, Bode Miller showed all of us that sometimes, you just have to cry.

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Fertility clinics aiding same-sex couples (Canada)

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Feedzilla: Sexual Health News
Fertility clinics aiding same-sex couples (Canada)
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PTSD raises risk for obesity in women

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Diet and Weight Loss News — ScienceDaily
PTSD raises risk for obesity in women
Women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gain weight more rapidly and are more likely to be overweight or obese than women without the disorder, find researchers. It is the first study to look at the relationship between PTSD and obesity over time.

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First evidence of common brain code for space, time, distance

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
First evidence of common brain code for space, time, distance
A new study provides the first evidence that people use the same brain circuitry to figure out space, time and social distances. The results may help to determine whether we care enough to act: Is something happening here, now, to someone I love? Or over there, years from now, to a stranger?

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Here’s How To Actually Enjoy Your Commute

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Here’s How To Actually Enjoy Your Commute
Commutes have a reputation for being a big headache, especially in cities where the journey to and from work has gotten longer and longer.

Tricky travel to the office can cause stress that hovers over you all day, but it’s possible for the morning commute to be peaceful or even — dare we say it? — fun.

Valerie Alexander, the author of “Happiness… As A Second Language,” told HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani that she has a secret weapon for the commute blues — audiobooks of autobiographies read by the author. Finding the thing that takes your mind off the travel is the key, she said.

“If you have this in your car or if you have this on the train or for your commute, you actually want the commute to last a little longer, and then if it does you’re not upset about it,” Alexander said.

Or you could choose a mode of transportation that gives you more control. Jonathan Maus, the editor and publisher of Bike Portland, said biking to work each morning has not only made it easier to arrive on time, but it’s a peaceful trip that he’s come to value.

“I actually really enjoy my commute. It’s the same time every day. There’s never any traffic, and that dependability of the length of the commute is a really big benefit,” he said. “I can nail down to about the minute how long it’s going to take me to get the four miles from my house to my office, so that’s really nice.”

See the full HuffPost Live conversation about the morning commute below.

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Reduce Stress and Strengthen Your Immune System: 10 Natural Ways to Rejuvenate (Insight Journal)

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Feedzilla: Stress News
Reduce Stress and Strengthen Your Immune System: 10 Natural Ways to Rejuvenate (Insight Journal)
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Scientists find new mechanism underlying depression (Science Daily)

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Feedzilla: Stress News
Scientists find new mechanism underlying depression (Science Daily)
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Matchmaking this Valentine’s Day: How it can bring you the most happiness

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Matchmaking this Valentine’s Day: How it can bring you the most happiness
If you follow your instinct to play Cupid this Valentine’s Day, it’ll pay off in happiness — not necessarily for the new couple, but definitely for you. According to new research, matchmaking, a time-honored tradition, brings intrinsic happiness to the matchmaker. To maximize the psychological benefits of matchmaking, you should take care to introduce two people who not only seem compatible but who would be unlikely to meet otherwise, researchers say.

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High stress levels ‘increase frequency of headaches’ (Medical News Today)

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High stress levels ‘increase frequency of headaches’ (Medical News Today)
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Daily Meditation: Dare To Be Happy

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Daily Meditation: Dare To Be Happy
We all need help maintaining our personal spiritual practice. We hope that these daily meditations, prayers and mindful awareness exercises can be part of bringing spirituality alive in your life.

Today’s meditation features a poem by renowned American poet Mary Oliver, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984. “Morning Poem” encourages the reader to witness the miracle that every day is and to let their imagination guide them to a place of happiness.

happy

Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

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Happy people, safer sex: Good moods lead to safer sexual behavior in gay men

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Relationships News — ScienceDaily
Happy people, safer sex: Good moods lead to safer sexual behavior in gay men
In a new study, researchers report that HIV-positive men whose moods improved in a given week were more likely to have safe sex than they would in a normal week. In weeks where moods were worse than usual, they were more likely to have unprotected sex.

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Brain reward gene influences food choices in the first years of life

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Diet and Weight Loss News — ScienceDaily
Brain reward gene influences food choices in the first years of life
Research has suggested that a particular gene in the brain’s reward system contributes to overeating and obesity in adults. This same variant has now been linked to childhood obesity and tasty food choices, particularly for girls, according to a new study.

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The Top 5 Excuses for Not Practicing Mindfulness and How You Can Do It Anyway

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
The Top 5 Excuses for Not Practicing Mindfulness and How You Can Do It Anyway
Mindfulness has been featured recently on the cover of Time magazine, at the World Economic Forum at Davos, in The New York Times and in just about every yoga studio around the globe. Google is holding mindfulness conferences, and so are General Mills and Twitter. Celebrities like Goldie Hawn, Lena Dunham and Kobe Bryant are singing its praises. Mindfulness experts like Jon Kabat-Zinn are more popular than ever.

We’re all reading about its extraordinary health benefits — physical, psychological and emotional — and some of us are even attending the conferences, but the real question remains…

Are we actually doing it?

Apparently not as much as we’re talking and reading about it.

Mindfulness sessions today are what stress management seminars were in the early 1990s. I know this because they were my most popular seminars then, and mindfulness sessions are my most requested now. Even though we may be living in a more high-tech, high-stress world today, the basic issues are the same. We feel overwhelmed and overworked.

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of attending clinical training programs in mind/body medicine through Harvard Medical School with Dr. Herbert Benson and UMASS Medical School with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. We studied the science behind the relaxation response and participated in mindfulness exercises. We learned that mindfulness was about “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” We ate raisins mindfully, we walked mindfully and we breathed mindfully. We were taught to be hyperaware of all of our sensory experiences in the moment while we were doing these activities. It was all quite enlightening and lovely. I felt calm and rejuvenated. I vowed that I would continue my practice.

And then I went back to my life and did everything exactly the opposite of what I was taught. I gulped down my food, pushed my way through the crowds on NYC sidewalks and held my breath whenever I felt stressed.

The irony is that I also taught stress management seminars at that time. Interestingly enough, when I taught those seminars, I actually practiced what I preached. By being completely present and mindful, I was able to share with my clients all of the knowledge that I’d acquired. They (and I) felt inspired and more relaxed and refreshed during and after each session.

But what happened in between that initial seminar and my follow-up sessions?

I discovered that my clients were not practicing stress management and mindfulness techniques.

The truth is, neither was I.

So the challenge became: What would motivate my stressed-out, Type A, competitive, always-on-the-go clients and my stressed-out, Type A, competitive, always-on-the-go self to actually practice mindfulness?

I decided to come up with bite-size exercises that could be more easily digestible for my clients and myself. As I tried them out, I found that they were easy for my clients to follow and incorporate into their day-to-day lives. Over the years, I found that I expanded these bite size mindfulness exercises into full-blown practices in my own life. Now I sit and meditate every morning, and try to approach life in a more mindful way. I encourage my clients to practice mindfulness in whatever way is best for them.

Still don’t think it’s for you? Perhaps, like many of my clients, you’ll recognize yourself as using one of the excuses below, and perhaps you’ll find one or two tips that will motivate you to incorporate some mindfulness and meditation into your lives.

What’s in it for you? Practicing mindfulness and meditation can allow you to experience less stress and depression, a sounder night’s sleep, a boost in your immune system, higher productivity, better sex, improved relationships and an overall enjoyment of life.

Here are the top five excuses why you aren’t practicing mindfulness or mindfulness meditation and how to overcome them:

1. I don’t have time.

It’s not that you don’t have time, you just don’t make time. Ask yourself: Do I have five minutes, or even five seconds, to stop and pay attention to my breath? Then sit quietly in your office/home/car and breathe. If you’re experiencing monkey mind, that incessant mental chatter, then try the 4-4-4 technique. Close your eyes (unless you’re driving), inhale slowly to the count of four, calmly hold your breath for four counts, and then exhale slowly to the count of four. Just try it for one round. When you’re comfortable with this, then try it for five rounds once or twice a day.

2. I tried it and it doesn’t work.

Did you ever take up a sport for the first time, only to discover that you weren’t Serena Williams or Derek Jeter? Just like sports, mindfulness and meditation require practice. When I first started learning, I cheated and opened my eyes during the “eyes closed” part of the seminar. Everyone else seemed to be getting it and I wasn’t! It wasn’t until after we finished the meditation and the discussion opened up, that I realized that many other people were feeling as unsuccessful as I was. The only way to get better at mindfulness and meditation is to practice. If it doesn’t work out for you the first or second or even tenth time, just keep at it. You’ll get it.

3. I’m too stressed.

Eat a Kiss. No joke. Jon Kabat-Zinn used raisins, I use Hershey’s kisses. Take the Kiss in your hand, mindfully open the foil wrapper, put it to your nose and inhale that chocolaty goodness, and then place it in your mouth, close your eyes, and slowly eat it. While you are doing this, notice the texture and taste. Just focus on doing that with one Kiss, and you can gradually increase the amount (although I don’t recommend the whole bag). You can also do this with other foods. Instead of inhaling your lunch while simultaneously checking emails and talking on your cellphone, take a moment to pay attention to your food and just eat. Even something as simple as mindfully eating can help to reduce your stress level.

4. It’s too “New Agey” for me.

No one says that you have to sit on a mountaintop in full monk robes or a meditation cushion (although they are really comfortable!). If you’re not a fan of spirituality, then focus on the science. Mindfulness has been proven to have physiological, psychological and emotional benefits. Some of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation include: lower cortisol levels (which lead to less stress), boosts in the immune system and a significant change in our brains that leads to better memory, higher attention skills and better emotional regulation.

5. I’m too busy to add even one more thing to my plate.

Then don’t. Keep on doing what you’re doing, just do it mindfully. Pay attention to that one thing that you’re doing, and just do that. If you’re in a meeting, then listen mindfully (don’t text under the table), and when it’s your turn to speak, speak mindfully (don’t text under the table). If you’re listening to music, then listen mindfully. When you walk/drive/sit on the train on your way to work, then just breathe (and don’t text!) Work, cook, eat, exercise — do whatever it is that you do during your busy work day, just do it mindfully. What you may find is that by practicing this, you’re more productive and have more time in your daily schedule to actually schedule in some meditation. Maybe not today, but with practice, hopefully one day soon.

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Significant increase in overdoses involving heroin in Kentucky, research finds

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Addiction News — ScienceDaily
Significant increase in overdoses involving heroin in Kentucky, research finds
Emergency department overdose visits involving heroin climbed 197 percent, and heroin-related deaths climbed 207 percent in Kentucky in 2012, while benzodiazepines were associated with the highest number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations, according to new analysis. The spike in drug abuse and overdoses involving heroin is not unique to Kentucky. According to American data, the number of heroin users increased by up to 80 percent from 2007 to 2012. Many experts suspect a connection between increased heroin use and decreasing non-medical prescription opiate abuse.

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Largest trial worldwide: Psychotherapy treats anorexia effectively

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Diet and Weight Loss News — ScienceDaily
Largest trial worldwide: Psychotherapy treats anorexia effectively
A large-scale study has now shown that adult women with anorexia whose disorder is not too severe can be treated successfully on an out-patient basis. Even after conclusion of therapy, they continue to make significant weight gains. Two new psychotherapeutic methods offer improved opportunities for successful therapy.

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High family stress can impact child’s immune system

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Stress News — ScienceDaily
High family stress can impact child’s immune system
High family stress can lead to the child’s immune system being affected, a research group has shown. Our immune system has the task of protecting us against bacteria and viruses. Our bodies are also equipped to handle everyday stress -– that is, stress that lasts only briefly. On the other hand, a difficult, stressful situation or long-term increase in stress can negatively affect the immune system. This kind of long-term stress can develop when a close family member dies or when adults are caught in tough, unmanageable situations.

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What Are You Waiting For?

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
What Are You Waiting For?
Is it a promotion? A raise? A date with that person you’ve been flirting with for the past month?

Well, in my case, it was a stripe. Let me give you some background. I started Hung Gar Kung Fu in November. There are five belt colors, and within each belt, there are four levels to pass before one is eligible to advance to the next. At my level, the stripes are correlated with learning/mastering a “form.”

So I recently mastered the “first form.” And expected to get a stripe. THAT DAY. However, I didn’t. Nor did I get a stripe at the next class, or even the next, even though I was now beginning to learn, and even about halfway through the next form (“Second form”).

Now I was really starting to wonder. Was Sifu (the master) upset with me? Had I done something wrong? Perhaps I wasn’t doing the form properly? Was there some other lesson I needed to learn?

I had heard that sometimes people didn’t get their stripes right away, that sometimes Sifu waited a little, and that he had his own way of doing things. In one sense, I was definitely cool with this; on the other, I kept trying to figure out what I was missing…

Was I missing patience? Certainly. Was that what he was trying to teach me? Unlikely.

How about perfect placement of my feet in “horse stance?” Nah, probably not that, either, since it often takes a long time to perfect that.

After the third class of no stripe, I was crushed. You’ve probably figured out about me that I’m driven, that I like to achieve goals and that I like to advance measurably. I began questioning whether he wanted me in the program, whether I was good enough, liked, etc. No negative thought un-had!

It’s the fourth class after mastering the first form, and I’m deep into the second form. Sifu walks by me as I’m lumbering my way through, and as he is walking by, he looks at me and seems a little surprised. Then he says: “You don’t have a stripe yet?”

“Not yet,” I replied.

Right before we complete the class, Sifu calls me up to the front and gives me my first stripe! Truly, I am elated. I’m not a complete failure at Kung Fu, I guess he does want me in the program, etc.

Turns out, not giving me a stripe didn’t have anything to do with me, really. There are over 150 students who take Kung Fu where I do, at every level of belt and stripe-ness. The permutations are endless, and I imagine, difficult to keep track of. And that’s what happened with me; it just got overlooked.

But the greatest reward for me was not in the negating of all those awful thoughts about myself I had, which went away when I got the stripe. It lay in recognizing that all those thoughts I had were things I MADE UP, and weren’t based on reality. Not one of them was true, or even valid.

So I ask you. What things are you “making up” about yourself, your life, or the people in it, that are not only not true, but making you feel things about yourself that are not-so-great? I’d be willing to bet that, like my thoughts were, there’s likely little basis in reality.

Yes, I am inviting you to question your beliefs about yourself. Yes, I am inviting you to try to see events for what they are, or make up a meaning for them that doesn’t leave you crushed.

What are you waiting for?!

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Surprising differences in brain activity of alcohol-dependent women discovered

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Addiction News — ScienceDaily
Surprising differences in brain activity of alcohol-dependent women discovered
The brain activity of alcohol-dependent women were compared in a recent study to women who were not addicted. Results found stark and surprising differences. “We see that the network dynamics of alcohol-dependent women may be really different from that of healthy controls in a drinking-related task,” said a researcher. “We have evidence to suggest alcohol-dependent women have trouble switching between networks of the brain.” The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study patterns of brain network activation. The findings indicate that the anterior insular region of the brain may be implicated in the process, suggesting a possible new target of treatment for alcohol-dependent women.

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Grief and Healing: Will I Ever Recover?

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Grief and Healing: Will I Ever Recover?
I am super, super particular about language.

The wrong word choice grates on me, even in the best of times.

So when I was first widowed, hearing words like recovery and healing really bothered me.

Healing sounded ridiculous. Exactly what was going to improve?

Within a month after my partner drowned, people began to ask me if I was “feeling better.” I kept my answer largely to myself, but in my head, I screamed “I didn’t have a stomachache. A little rest and some ginger ale is not going to make me all better!”

“Getting better” was not on the list of possibilities.

How can you heal when the one you love is still dead?

Honestly. A loss of this magnitude is not something you simply recover from.

Recovery, as defined in the dictionary, means to restore oneself to a normal state, to regain what was lost, or to be compensated for what was taken. I hear from a lot of people grieving the loss of a child, or grieving the loss of their best friend and partner, grieving someone who should have had 20, 30, 80 more years. The whole context of healing and recovery is just plain strange in this kind of grief.

That hole torn in the universe will not just close back up so that you can go back to normal. No matter what happens next in your life, it will never be adequate compensation. The person you lost can’t come back. That loss can’t be regained.

By definition then, there is absolutely no point in time when you will “recover” from such a loss.

And that makes it tricky. If there is no “healing” in terms of being as good as new, if we can’t “recover” any more than someone who has lost their legs can simply will them to grow back, how do we go on?

What could getting better possibly look like in this case?

I think it depends on who does the asking.

For me, any outside source or force asking me when I’ll get better is going to be met with irritation. But if I do the asking, if I wonder — for myself — what healing or recovery might look like, then it becomes a very different question.

If you are very, very new to this grief, this may not be the time to even wonder about healing. But if it feels right to gently question, asking yourself about your own healing can be a genuine act of love and kindness:

Given that what I’ve lost cannot be restored, given that what was taken cannot be returned, what would healing look like?

What would it take for me to live this life well?

There certainly aren’t easy answers to these questions. The answers themselves may change over time. But wondering about your own path forward is a gift you can give yourself.

It starts when you ask yourself: If I can’t recover, what would healing really be?

If you are so inclined, share your thoughts on healing in the comments. If you’re completely stuck as to how to even begin answering, get in touch: we can mess around with the question, and see what might feel true.

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Megan Devine is writer, grief advocate, and clinical counselor. You can schedule a free 30 minute phone call to talk about your grief by clicking here to choose a time on her calendar. Megan is the author of the audio program When Everything is Not Okay: Practical Tools to Help You Stay in Your Heart & Not Lose Your Mind. You can find this and other resources on her website, www.refugeingrief.com.

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Reducing Hep C infections for injection drug users

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Addiction News — ScienceDaily
Reducing Hep C infections for injection drug users
Researchers are focusing on intervention strategies that highlight the lesser-known dangers of HCV transmission through the sharing of other injection equipment such as cookers, filters, drug-dilution water and water containers. Their research explores the feasibility and efficacy of their “Staying Safe Intervention,” a strengths-based social/behavioral intervention conducted with small groups of people who inject drugs, designed to facilitate long-term prevention of HIV and HCV.

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Active thyroid may raise risk of depression in older individuals

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Depression News — ScienceDaily
Active thyroid may raise risk of depression in older individuals
When older individuals’ thyroid glands are more active than average, it may be a risk factor for depression, according to new research. Beyond its role in regulating the body’s metabolism, the thyroid gland also can influence mental health. Past research has found links between an increased risk of depression and both over- and underactive thyroid glands. This study is the first to find an association between depression and thyroid activity variations within the normal range.

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Could PTSD involve immune cell response to stress? Study in mice raises question

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Stress News — ScienceDaily
Could PTSD involve immune cell response to stress? Study in mice raises question
Chronic stress that produces inflammation and anxiety in mice appears to prime their immune systems for a prolonged fight, causing the animals to have an excessive reaction to a single acute stressor weeks later, new research suggests. After the mice recovered from the effects of chronic stress, a single stressful event 24 days later quickly returned them to a chronically stressed state in biological and behavioral terms. Mice that had not experienced the chronic stress were unaffected by the single acute stressor.

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