Body, Mind & Spirit

Ways for Getting Through

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

3 Powerful Reminders For When Life Gets Tough

reminders when life gets tough

Life is always going to be bringing us challenges, twists and turns, but no matter where you are on your journey, here are 3 powerful reminders that are always worth remembering-

1. Stay Hydrated

Stress and anxiety can put a lot of strain on the body. While exercising, meditating and eating well is always important, it can be hard to keep on top of these things when you are going through a rough patch.

One quick solution to support your wellbeing however, is staying hydrated. Drinking lots of water is not only beneficial to your body’s cellular processes but it can also boost your energy levels and clear your mind.

Water can also help to flush out heavy emotions and help to detoxify any stagnant energy that may be lingering in the etheric body.

If you are going through a challenging period remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

2. Don’t Think, Feel

Part of our human gifts in this life is being able to understand and rationalize things using our logical mind.

While this is an incredible skill to have, sometimes it is important to remember that not everything can be understood from this place of thinking.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try things are just not going to make sense on a logical or practical level. When this occurs, it is important to stop thinking and start feeling instead.

Our feelings are powerful guidance tools that can actually be far more effective than trying to understanding things from a place of logic. The trick with using our feelings as a guide is to not let our logical mind analyze or interfere with the process.

To do this, simply calm your mind using your breath and then tune into your true feelings. You may just be surprised as to what comes up and how you can use it to guide you.

3. Know Everything Will Make Sense in the End

When you are in the midst of a challenging life period it can be tricky to find the gratitude and understand why things are unfolding the way that they are.

Often the most challenging periods of our lives lead us to the most rewarding places, but it can be hard to see this when going through the motions.

When life is no longer making sense to you, it is often a sign that huge growth and transformation is underway. During this process it is important to step out of the chaos for a moment or two and acknowledge that things will all make sense in the end.

There is always an ending and always a resolution that will arise and the more you can trust that, the easier it will be to moving through the process.

Remember that things always work out and there is already a resolution to all of your problems, all you have to do is keep moving forward.

Need More? Self-Love and Self-Worth are also key

from:     http://foreverconscious.com/3-powerful-reminders-life-gets-tough

Monsanto Pushes to Remove Negative Studies

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Study of toxic effects on rats by Roundup

Documents released in US cancer litigation show Monsanto’s desperate attempts to suppress a study that showed adverse effects of Roundup herbicide – and that the editor of the journal that retracted the study had a contractual relationship with the company. Claire Robinson reports

Internal Monsanto documents released by attorneys leading US cancer litigation show that the company launched a concerted campaign to force the retraction of a study that revealed toxic effects of Roundup. The documents also show that the editor of the journal that first published the study entered into a contract with Monsanto in the period shortly before the retraction campaign began.

The study, led by Prof GE Séralini, showed that very low doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide had toxic effects on rats over a long-term period, including serious liver and kidney damage. Additional observations of increased tumour rates in treated rats would need to be confirmed in a larger-scale carcinogenicity study.

The newly released documents show that throughout the retraction campaign, Monsanto tried to cover its tracks to hide its involvement. Instead Monsanto scientist David Saltmiras admitted to orchestrating a “third party expert” campaign in which scientists who were apparently independent of Monsanto would bombard the editor-in-chief of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), A. Wallace Hayes, with letters demanding that he retract the study.

Use of “third party experts” is a classic public relations tactic perfected by the tobacco industry. It consists of putting industry-friendly messages into the mouths of supposedly “independent” experts, since no one would believe industry attempts to defend its own products. Back in 2012, GMWatch founder Jonathan Matthews exposed the industry links of the supposedly independent scientists who lobbied the journal editor to retract the Séralini paper. Now we have first-hand proof of Monsanto’s direct involvement.

In one document, Saltmiras reviews his own achievements within the company, boasting that he “Successfully facilitated numerous third party expert letters to the editor which were subsequently published, reflecting the numerous significant deficiencies, poor study design, biased reporting and selective statistics employed by Séralini. In addition, coauthored the Monsanto letter to the editor with [Monsanto employees] Dan Goldstein and Bruce Hammond.”

Saltmiras further writes of how “Throughout the late 2012 Séralini rat cancer publication and media campaign, I leveraged my relationship [with] the Editor i[n] Chief of the publishing journal… and was the single point of contact between Monsanto and the Journal.”

Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes in an email about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign. Sachs refers to Bruce Chassy, a scientist who runs the pro-GMO Academics Review website. Sachs writes: “I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency… I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper.”

In response to Monsanto’s request, Chassy urged Hayes to retract the Séralini paper: “My intent was to urge you to roll back the clock, retract the paper, and restart the review process.”

Chassy was also the first signatory of a petition demanding the retraction of the Séralini study and the co-author of a Forbes article accusing Séralini of fraud. In neither document does Chassy declare any link with Monsanto. But in 2016 he was exposed as having taken over $57,000 over less than two years from Monsanto to travel, write and speak about GMOs.

Sachs is keen to ensure that Monsanto is not publicly seen as attempting to get the paper retracted, even though that is precisely what it is doing. Sachs writes to Monsanto scientist William Heydens: “There is a difference between defending science and participating in a formal process to retract a publication that challenges the safety of our products. We should not provide ammunition for Séralini, GM critics and the media to charge that Monsanto used its might to get this paper retracted. The information that we provided clearly establishes the deficiencies in the study as reported and makes a strong case that the paper should not have passed peer review.”

Another example of Monsanto trying to cover up its involvement in the retraction campaign emerges from email correspondence between Monsanto employees Daniel Goldstein and Eric Sachs. Goldstein states: “I was uncomfortable even letting shareholders know we are aware of this LTE [GMW: probably “Letter to the Editor”]…. It implies we had something to do with it – otherwise how do we have knowledge of it? I could add ‘Aware of multiple letters to editor including one signed by 25 scientists from 14 countries’ if you both think this is OK.” Sachs responds: “We are ‘connected’ but did not write the letter or encourage anyone to sign it.”

A. Wallace Hayes was paid by Monsanto

The most shocking revelation of the disclosed documents is that the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, A. Wallace Hayes, entered into a consulting agreement with Monsanto in the period just before Hayes’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini study. Clearly Hayes had a conflict of interest between his role as a consultant for Monsanto and his role as editor for a journal that retracted a study determining that glyphosate has toxic effects. The study was published on 19 September 2012; the consulting agreement between Hayes and Monsanto was dated 21 August 2012 and Hayes is contracted to provide his services beginning 7 September 2012.

The documents also reveal that Monsanto paid Hayes $400 per hour for his services and that in return Hayes was expected to “Assist in establishment of an expert network of toxicologists, epidemiologists, and other scientists in South America and participate on the initial meeting held within the region. Preparation and delivery of a seminar addressing relevant regional issues pertaining to glyphosate toxicology is a key deliverable for the inaugural meeting in 2013.”

Hayes should have recused himself from any involvement with the Séralini study from the time he signed this agreement. But he kept quiet. He went on to oversee a second “review” of the study by unnamed persons whose conflicts of interest, if any, were not declared – resulting in his decision to retract the study for the unprecedented reason that some of the results were “inconclusive”.

Hayes told the New York Times’s Danny Hakim in an interview that he had not been under contract with Monsanto at the time of the retraction and was paid only after he left the journal. He added that “Monsanto played no role whatsoever in the decision that was made to retract.” But since it took the journal over a year to retract the study after the months-long second review, which Hayes oversaw, it’s clear that he had an undisclosed conflict of interest from the time he entered into the contract with Monsanto and during the review process. He appears to be misleading the New York Times.

The timing of the contract also begs the question as to whether Monsanto knew the publication of the study was coming. If so, they may have been happy to initiate such a relationship with Hayes at just that time.

A Monsanto internal email confirms the company’s intimate relationship with Hayes. Saltmiras writes about the recently published Séralini study: “Wally Hayes, now FCT Editor in Chief for Vision and Strategy, sent me a courtesy email early this morning. Hopefully the two of us will have a follow up discussion soon to touch on whether FCT Vision and Strategy were front and center for this one passing through the peer review process.”

In other email correspondence between various Monsanto personnel, Daniel Goldstein writes the following with respect to the Séralini study: “Retraction – Both Dan Jenkins (US Government affairs) and Harvey Glick made a strong case for withdrawal of the paper if at all possible, both on the same basis – that publication will elevate the status of the paper, bring other papers in the journal into question, and allow Séralini much more freedom to operate. All of us are aware that the ultimate decision is up to the editor and the journal management, and that we may not have an opportunity for withdrawal in any event, but I felt it was worth reinforcing this request.”

Monsanto got its way, though the paper was subsequently republished by another journal with higher principles – and, presumably, with an editorial board that wasn’t under contract with Monsanto.

Why Monsanto had to kill the Séralini study

It’s obvious that it was in Monsanto’s interests to kill the Séralini study. The immediate reason was that it reported harmful effects from low doses of Roundup and a GM maize engineered to tolerate it. But the wider reason that emerges from the documents is that to admit that the study had any validity whatsoever would be to open the doors for regulators and others to demand other long-term studies on GM crops and their associated pesticides.

A related danger for Monsanto, pointed out by Goldstein, is that “a third party may procure funding to verify Séralini’s claims, either through a government agency or the anti-GMO/antl-pesticide financiers”.

The documents show that Monsanto held a number of international teleconferences to discuss how to pre-empt such hugely threatening developments.

Summing up the points from the teleconferences, Daniel Goldstein writes that “unfortunately”, three “potential issues regarding long term studies have now come up and will need some consideration and probably a white paper of some type (either internal or external)”. These are potential demands for
•    2 year rat/long-term cancer (and possibly reproductive toxicity) on GM crops
•    2 year/chronic studies on pesticide formulations, in addition to the studies on the active ingredient alone that are currently demanded by regulators, and
•    2 year rat/chronic studies of pesticide formulations on the GM crop.

In reply to the first point, Goldstein writes that the Séralini study “found nothing other than the usual variation in SD [Sprague-Dawley] rats, and as such there is no reason to question the recent EFSA guidance that such studies were not needed for substantially equivalent crops”. GMWatch readers will not be surprised to see Monsanto gaining support from EFSA in its opposition to carrying out long-term studies on GMOs.

In answer to the second point, Goldstein reiterates that the Séralini study “actually finds nothing – so there is no need to draw any conclusions from it – but the theoretical issue has been placed on the table. We need to be prepared with a well considered response.”

In answer to the third point, Goldstein ignores the radical nature of genetic engineering and argues pragmatically, if not scientifically, “This approach would suggest that the same issue arises for conventional crops and that every individual formulation would need a chronic study over every crop (at a minimum) and probably every variety of crop (since we know they have more genetic variation than GM vs conventional congener) and raises the possibility of an almost limitless number of tests.” But he adds, “We also need a coherent argument for this issue.”

EU regulators side with Monsanto

To the public’s detriment, some regulatory bodies have backed Monsanto rather than the public interest and have backed off the notion that long-term studies should be required for GM crops. In fact, the EU is considering doing awaywith even the short 90-day animal feeding studies currently required under European GMO legislation. This will be based in part on the results of the EU-funded GRACE animal feeding project, which has come under fire for the industry links of some of the scientists involved and for its alleged manipulation of findings of adverse effects on rats fed Monsanto’s GM MON810 maize.

Apology required

A. Wallace Hayes is no longer the editor-in-chief of FCT but is named as an “emeritus editor”. Likewise, Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee who was parachuted onto the journal’s editorial board shortly after the publication of the Séralini study, is no longer at the journal.

But although they are sidelined or gone, their legacy lives on in the form of a gap in the history of the journal where Séralini’s paper belongs.

Now that Monsanto’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini paper is out in the open, FCT and Hayes should do the decent thing and issue a formal apology to Prof Séralini and his team. FCT cannot and should not reinstate the paper, because it is now published by another journal. But it needs to draw a line under this shameful episode, admit that it handled it badly, and declare its support for scientific independence and objectivity.

from:    http://gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/17764-uncovered-monsanto-campaign-to-get-seralini-study-retracted

Dealing with Depression & Pain

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

13 Mind-Body Techniques That Can Help Ease Pain and Depression


By Dr. Joseph Mercola

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Many aches and pains are rooted in brain processes that can be affected by your mental attitude and emotions. While the mechanics of these mind-body links are still being unraveled, what is known is that your brain, and consequently your thoughts and emotions, do play a role in your experience of physical pain.

For instance, meditation appears to work for pain relief because it reduces brain activity in your primary somatosensory cortex, an area that helps create the feeling of where and how intense a painful stimulus is. Laughter is also known to relieve pain because it releases endorphins that activate brain receptors that produce pain-killing and euphoria-producing effects.

This line of communication between mind and body runs both ways though, and physical pain, especially if it’s chronic, is a well-known trigger for depression. According to psychologist Rex Schmidt at the Nebraska Medical Center Pain Management:[1] “Depression and pain happen to share a part of the brain that’s involved in both conditions, which means that mind-body techniques that affect those areas can be efficacious for both.”

Meditation and laughter are just two examples of a burgeoning new field of science that looks at mind-body therapies to address depression and chronic pain. Here are 13 such strategies…

#1: Add EFT to Your Self-Help Toolkit

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles.

Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to transfer kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, anxiety, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.

This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” — the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on — the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized in the West. Others are initially taken aback by (and sometimes amused by) the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology.

But believe me when I say that, more than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, EFT has the most potential to literally work magic. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, the body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing.

In the videos below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows how you can use EFT to relieve your physical pain and depression.

You can also learn more here: A Comprehensive Guide to the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

#2: Massage the Pain Away

Massage offers real health benefits, so much so that some conventional hospitals are making it a standard therapy for surgery patients and others. Along with promoting relaxation and improving your sense of well-being, getting a massage has been shown to:

  • Relieve pain (from migraines, labor, fibromyalgia and even cancer)
  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease insomnia
  • Decrease symptoms of PMS
  • Relax and soften injured and overused muscles, reducing spasms and cramping.
  • Provide arthritis relief by increasing joint flexibility.

Massage affects your nervous system through nerve endings in your skin, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals. Endorphins help induce relaxation and a sense of well-being, relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline — reversing the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure.

Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps the lymphatic system to flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility and flexibility. Massage is said to increase activity of the vagus nerve, one of 10 cranial nerves, that affects the secretion of food absorption hormones, heart rate and respiration. It has proven to be an effective therapy for a variety of health conditions — particularly stress-related tension, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of disease.

As reported by iVillage.com:[2]

“[A] new study from Thailand suggests that traditional Thai massage can decrease pain intensity, muscle tension and anxiety among people with shoulder pain. Meanwhile, research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida found that when adults with hand pain had four weeks of massage therapy, they reported a lot less pain, anxiety and depression.

Another study at the Touch Research Institute found that when pregnant women who were depressed received massages from their partners twice a week, they had much less leg and back pain and fewer symptoms of depression during the second half of their pregnancies.”

#3: Remain in the Now…

Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful you’re living in the moment and letting distracting thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications. Though it sounds simple, it often takes a concerted effort to remain in a mindful state, especially if it’s new to you. But doing so can offer some very significant benefits to both your mental and physical health.

For example, mindfulness training has been found to reduce levels of stress-induced inflammation, which could benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.

This makes sense, since chronic stress heightens the inflammatory response, and mindfulness is likely to help you relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. In one eight-week study,[3] people who received mindfulness training had smaller inflammatory responses than those who received a control intervention, which focused on healthy activities to reduce psychological stress but without particular instruction on mindfulness. Similarly, according to iVillage.com:[2]

“Mindfulness meditation — focusing on your breath and each present moment — can lessen cancer pain, low back pain and migraine headaches. Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., found that when women with chronic pelvic pain participated in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program, their pain decreased and their mood improved.”

In many ways, mindfulness is similar to transcendental meditation, the idea of which is to reach a place of “restful” or “concentrated” alertness, which enables you to let negative thoughts and distractions pass by you without upsetting your calm and balance. This type of meditation is easy to try at home: simply sit quietly, perhaps with some soothing music, breathe rhythmically and focus on something such as your breathing, a flower, an image, a candle, a mantra or even just being there, fully aware, in the moment.

Researchers report that practicing mindfulness meditation for just four days affects pain responses in your brain. Brain activity decreases in areas devoted to monitoring a painful body part, and also in areas responsible for relaying sensory information.

For more information, please see: Why We Get Held Hostage by Our Emotions – and How Mindfulness Can Help

#4: Take Control with Biofeedback

In biofeedback, electrical sensors attached to your skin allow you to monitor your biological changes, such as heart rate, and this feedback can help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation. It can also teach you to control your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension through your mind. According to psychologist Rex Schmidt:

“Through focus and mental strategies, biofeedback induces the relaxation response and gives you a greater sense of control.”

Biofeedback is often used for stress-related conditions, such as:

  • Migraines and tension-type headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Back pain
  • Depression and anxiety

#5: Free Yourself from Tension with Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is achieved by tensing and relaxing all the major muscle groups, one at a time, from head to toe. By learning to feel the difference between tension and relaxation, you can more actively disengage your body’s fight-or-flight response, which underlies most pain, depression and stress. As reported by iVillage.com:[2]

“Studies show that whether PMR is used on its own or with guided imagery, it helps ease emotional distress and pain from cancer, osteoarthritis, surgery and other conditions.”

#6: Harness Relaxation with Tai Chi

The 2,000-year-old Chinese practice of tai chi is a branch of Qigong — exercises that harness the qi (life energy). It’s been linked to numerous health benefits, including improvements in the quality of life of breast cancer patients and Parkinson’s sufferers, and has shown promise in treating sleep problems and high blood pressure.

Often described as “meditation in motion” or “moving meditation,” the activity takes your body through a specific set of graceful movements. Your body is constantly in motion and each movement flows right into the next. While practicing tai chi, your mind is meant to stay focused on your movements, relaxation and deep breathing, while distracting thoughts are ignored.

Part of the allure is that it’s so gentle, it’s an ideal form of activity for people with pain or other conditions that prevent more vigorous exercise. You can even do tai chi if you’re confined to a wheelchair. Even respected conventional health institutions such as the Mayo Clinic[4] and Harvard Medical School[5] recommend tai chi for its health benefits, especially as a stress-reduction tool. However, there are more studies available than you might think; suggesting tai chi has an impressive range of health benefits. To browse through them, please see the WorldTaiChiDay.org[6] web site. According to the study, A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia:

“In a recent study at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, researchers found that when people with fibromyalgia participated in 60-minute tai chi sessions twice a week for 12 weeks, they had much less physical and mental discomfort. The researchers also reviewed the medical literature on tai chi’s effect on psychological well-being and concluded that it reduces depression, anxiety and stress.”

#7: Breathe Easy…

Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces the relaxation response. There are many different breathing practices that you can try, but here I’m going to share two that are both powerful and very easy to perform. The first one I learned when I attended a presentation by Dr. Andrew Weil at the 2009 Expo West in California. The key to this exercise is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It’s not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Sit up straight
  2. Place the tip of your tongue up against the back of your front teeth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process
  3. Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of four
  4. Hold your breath to the count of seven
  5. Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making an audible “woosh” sound
  6. That completes one full breath. Repeat the cycle another three times, for a total of four breaths

You can do this 4-7-8 exercise as frequently as you want throughout the day, but it’s recommended you don’t do more than four full breaths during the first month or so of practice. Later, you may work your way up to eight full breath cycles at a time. The benefits of this simple practice are enormous and work as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.

The second is known as the Buteyko Breathing Method, which is a powerful approach for reversing health problems associated with improper breathing, the most common of which are overbreathing and mouthbreathing. When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain.

Factors of modern life, including stress and lack of exercise, all increase your everyday breathing. Typical characteristics of overbreathing include mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing, noticeable breathing during rest, and taking large breaths prior to talking.

Controlling anxiety and quelling panic attacks is one of the areas where the Buteyko Method can be quite useful. If you’re experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or if you feel very stressed and your mind can’t stop racing, try the following breathing technique. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing and reduces anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state:

  1. Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
  2. Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
  3. Breathe normally for 10 seconds
  4. Repeat the sequence

To learn more, see: The Buteyko Method: How This Simple Breathing Technique Can Radically Transform Health

#8: Hypnosis for Pain Management

Hypnosis, which is a trance-like state in which you experience heightened focus and concentration, can help decrease pain by altering your emotional responses to your body’s pain signals and your thoughts about the pain. Contrary to popular belief, you do not relinquish control over your behavior while under hypnosis, but it does render you more open to suggestions from the hypnotherapist. As reported by iVillage.com:

“Studies show that hypnosis can help manage the pain from childbirth and metastatic breast cancer as well as chronic low back pain. What’s more, cognitive hypnotherapy can lead to less depression, anxiety and hopelessness among depressed people than cognitive behavioral therapy does, according to research from the University of Calgary in Canada.”

#9: Soothe Your Mind and Body Through the Power of Music

If you’re a music lover, you already know that turning on the tunes can help calm your nerves, make stress disappear, pump up your energy level during a workout, bring back old memories, as well as prompt countless other emotions. When you listen to music, much more is happening in your body than simple auditory processing.

Music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of your brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine and is involved in forming expectations. At the same time, the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, which makes possible abstract decision-making, are also activated, according to recent research published in the journal Science.[7] Other research[8] revealed listening to music resulted in less anxiety and lower cortisol levels among patients about to undergo surgery than taking anti-anxiety drugs. As reported by iVillage.com:

“…[R]esearchers in Cleveland found that when [burn] patients listened to music and used visual imagery as a distraction when their wound dressings were being changed, they experienced significantly less pain, anxiety and muscle tension. In a study in Norway, depressed people who had music therapy plus psychotherapy were less depressed and anxious and more functional than those who just did regular therapy.”

Musical preference varies widely between individuals, so only you can decide what will effectively put you in a particular mood. Overall, classical music tends to be among the most calming, so may be worth a try. To incorporate music into a busy schedule, try playing CDs while driving, or put on some tunes while you’re getting ready for work in the morning. You can also take portable music with you when walking the dog, or turn on the stereo instead of watching TV in the evening.

For more information, please see: How Music Benefits The Brain

#10: Take Up Yoga

Yoga has been proven to be particularly beneficial if you suffer with back pain, but recent research also suggests it can also be of tremendous benefit for your mental health. Duke University researchers recently published a review[9] of more than 100 studies looking at the effect of yoga on mental health, and according to lead author Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center:[10]

“Most individuals already know that yoga produces some kind of a calming effect. Individually, people feel better after doing the physical exercise. Mentally, people feel calmer, sharper, maybe more content. We thought it’s time to see if we could pull all [the literature] together… to see if there’s enough evidence that the benefits individual people notice can be used to help people with mental illness.”

According to their findings, yoga appears to have a positive effect on:

  • Mild depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Schizophrenia (among patients using medication)
  • ADHD (among patients using medication)

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy, by influencing neurotransmitters and boosting serotonin. Yoga was also found to reduce levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, blood lipids and growth factors.

For more information, please see: Modern Science Confirms Yoga’s Many Health Benefits

#11: Visualization and Guided Imagery

According to iVillage.com, visualization techniques or guided imagery can serve as an important tool to combat both physical pain and depression by imagining being in “a better place.”

“Research shows it can help with pain from cancer, osteoarthritis and childbirth by providing distraction and promoting a state of relaxation. In addition, a study from Portugal found that when people hospitalized for depressive disorders listened to a guided imagery CD once a day for 10 days, they were less depressed, anxious and stressed over time, compared to peers who didn’t use visualization.”

Ideally, you’ll want to immerse yourself as fully as you possibly into your visualization, using all your senses: seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, and feeling. According to Dr. Schmidt:

“Using all your senses changes levels of brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine and endorphins, and with regular practice you’ll gain more of a sense of control, which is often lacking when you’re in pain or depressed.”

#12: Repeat a Calming Mantra

The repeated incantation of a mantra — a soothing or uplifting word or phrase of your choice — in a rhythmic fashion can help you relax in a similar way as mindfulness training. The focused repetition, also called autogenic training, helps keep your mind from wandering and worrying, and engages your body’s relaxation response.

“A study at the University of Manchester in the U.K. found that autogenic training helped female migraine sufferers decrease the frequency and intensity of their headaches. And research from the University of Melbourne in Australia suggests that autogenic training may provide ‘helpful longer-term effects’ on symptoms of depression,” according to iVillage.com.

#13: Remove Pain and Dysfunctional Psychological Conditions with the Neurostructural Integration Technique

The Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST) is an amazing innovative technique developed in Australia. Using a series of gentle moves on specific muscles or at precise points on your body creates an energy flow and vibrations between these points. This allows your body to communicate better with itself and balance the other tissues, muscles and organs. The method of action is likely through your autonomic nervous system (ANS), allowing your body to better carry out its many functions the way it was designed to.

The main objective is to remove pain and dysfunctional physiological conditions by restoring the structural integrity of the body. In essence, NST provides the body with an opportunity to reintegrate on many levels, and thus return to and maintain normal homeostatic limits on a daily basis.

NST is done with a light touch and can be done through clothing. There are pauses between sets of moves to allow your body to assimilate the energy and vibrations. To learn more, please review the article, Gentle Hands Can Restore Your Health, by Micheal Nixon Levy who developed the technique.

Sources and References:

Consciousness in the Universe

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

The Universe May Be Conscious, Prominent Scientists State

Article Image
Net of Being. Alex Grey.

What consciousness is and where it emanates from has stymied great minds in societies across the globe since the dawn of speculation. In today’s world, it’s a realm tackled more and more by physicists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists. There are a few prevailing theories. The first is materialism. This is the notion that consciousness emanates from matter, in our case, by the firing of neurons inside the brain.

Take the brain out of the equation and consciousness doesn’t exist at all. Traditionally, scientists have been stalwart materialists. But doing so has caused them to slam up against the limitations of materialism. Consider the chasm between relativity and quantum mechanics, or Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and you quickly start to recognize these incongruities.

The second theory is mind-body dualism. This is perhaps more often recognized in religion or spirituality. Here, consciousness is separate from matter. It is a part of another aspect of the individual, which in religious terms we might call the soul. Then there’s a third option which is gaining ground in some scientific circles, panpsychism. In this view, the entire universe is inhabited by consciousness.

A handful of scientists are starting to warm to this theory, but it’s still a matter of great debate. Truth be told, panpsychism sounds very much like what the Hindus and Buddhists call the Brahman, the tremendous universal Godhead of which we are all a part. In Buddhism for instance, consciousness is the only thing that exists.

Such is the focus of the famous Zen koan, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” One must come to the realization that everything we experience is filtered through and interpreted by our mind. Without it, the universe doesn’t exist at all or at least, not without some sort of consciousness observing it. In some physics circles, the prevailing theory is some kind of proto-consciousness field.

Is consciousness derived from an invisible field that inhabits our universe? Getty Images.

In quantum mechanics, particles don’t have a definite shape or specific location, until they are observed or measured. Is this a form of proto-consciousness at play? According to the late scientist and philosopher, John Archibald Wheeler, it might. He’s famous for coining the term, “black hole.” In his view, every piece of matter contains a bit of consciousness, which it absorbs from this proto-consciousness field.

He called his theory the “participatory anthropic principle,” which posits that a human observer is key to the process. Of this Wheeler said, “We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago.” In his view, much like the Buddhist one, nothing exists unless there is a consciousness to apprehend it.

Neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, is another supporter of panpsychism. Koch says that the only theory we have to date about consciousness is, it’s a level of awareness about one’s self and the world. Biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they can change their behavior in order to navigate it, in this view. Dr. Koch is attempting to see if he can measure the level of consciousness an organism contains.

He’ll be running some animal experiments. In one, he plans to wire the brains of two mice together. Will information eventually flow between the two? Will their consciousness at some point become one fused, integrated system? If these experiments are successful, he may wire up the brains of two humans.

UK physicist Sir Roger Penrose is yet another supporter of panpsychism. Penrose in the 80’s proposed that consciousness is present at the quantum level and resides in the synapses of the brain. He is famous for linking consciousness with some of the goings on in quantum mechanics.

Dr. Penrose doesn’t go so far as to call himself a panpsychist. In his view, “The laws of physics produce complex systems, and these complex systems lead to consciousness, which then produces mathematics, which can then encode in a succinct and inspiring way the very underlying laws of physics that gave rise to it.”

In Buddhism consciousness emanates from the brain. Neuroscientists agree. Getty Images.

Veteran physicist Gregory Matloff of the New York City College of Technology, says he has some preliminary evidence showing that, at the very least, panpsychism isn’t impossible. Hey, it’s a start. Dr. Matloff told NBC News, “It’s all very speculative, but it’s something we can check and either validate or falsify.”

Theoretical physicist Bernard Haisch, in 2006, suggested that consciousness is produced and transmitted through the quantum vacuum, or empty space. Any system that has sufficient complexity and creates a certain level of energy, could generate or broadcast consciousness. Dr. Matloff got in touch with the unorthodox, German physicist and proposed an observational study, to test it.

What they examined was Parenago’s Discontinuity. This is the observation that cooler stars, like our own sun, revolve around the center of the Milky Way faster than hotter ones. Some scientists attribute this to interactions with gas clouds. Matloff took a different view. He elaborated in a recently published piece, in the Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research.

Unlike their hotter sisters, cooler stars may move faster due to “the emission of a uni-directional jet.” Such stars emit a jet early on in their creation. Matloff suggests that this could be an instance of the star consciously manipulating itself, in order to gain speed.

Observational data shows a reliable pattern anywhere Parenago’s Discontinuity is witnessed. If it were a matter of interacting with gas clouds, as is the current theory, each cloud should have a different chemical makeup, and so cause the star to operate differently. So why do all of them act in exactly the same way?

Jets out of cooler stars may be a conscious act. Wikipedia Commons.

Though it isn’t much to go on, the unveiling of the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope, whose mission it is to map stars, may provide more data to further support or weaken this view. On another front, Dr. Matloff posits that the presence of a proto-consciousness field could serve as a replacement for dark matter.

Dark matter supposedly makes up around 95% of the universe, although, scientists can’t seem to find any. So, for the sake of argument, if consciousness is a property that arises on the subatomic level with a confluence of particles, how do these tiny little bits of consciousness coalesce?

Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Giulio Tononi, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposes a slightly different take on panpsychism, called integrated information theory. Here, consciousness is a manifestation with a real, physical location, somewhere in the universe. We just haven’t found it yet. Perhaps this heavenly body radiates out consciousness as our sun radiates light and heat.

Dr. Tononi has actually puts forth a metric for measuring how much consciousness a thing has. The unit is called phi. This translates into how much control a being can enact over itself or objects around it. The theory separates intelligence from consciousness, which some people assume are one in the same.

Take AI for example. It can already beat humans in all kinds of tasks. But it has no will of its own. A supercomputer which can enact change in the world outside of a programmer’s commands, would therefore be conscious. Many futurists from Ray Kurzweil to Elon Musk believe that day is coming, perhaps in the next decade or so, and that we should prepare.

from:    http://bigthink.com/philip-perry/the-universe-may-be-conscious-prominent-scientists-state

Take A Creative Break from Boring Busy

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Being Busy Is Killing Our Ability to Think Creatively

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The other day a friend mentioned that he’s looking forward to autonomous cars, as it will help lower the accident and fatality rates caused by distracted driving. True, was my initial reply, with a caveat: what we gain on the roads we lose in general attention. Having yet another place to be distracted does not add to our mental and social health.

Little good comes from being distracted yet we seem incapable of focusing our attention. Among many qualities that suffer, recent research shows creativity takes a hit when you’re constantly busy. Being able to switch between focus and daydreaming is an important skill that’s reduced by insufferable business.  As Stanford’s Emma Seppälä writes: 

The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work.

She is not the first to point this out. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin made a similar plea in his 2014 book, The Organized Mind. Information overload keeps us mired in noise. In 2011, he writes, Americans consumed five times as much information as 25 years prior; outside of work we process roughly 100,000 words every day. 

This saps us of not only willpower (of which we have a limited store) but creativity as well. He uses slightly different language than Seppälä—linear thinking is part of the central executive network, our brain’s ability to focus, while creative thinking is part of our brain’s default mode network. Levitin, himself a former music professional who engineered records by the Grateful Dead and Santana, writes: 

Artists recontextualize reality and offer visions that were previously invisible. Creativity engages the brain’s daydreaming mode directly and stimulates the free flow and association of ideas, forging links between concepts and neural modes that might not otherwise be made.

Engaging creatively requires hitting the reset button, which means carving space in your day for lying around, meditating, or staring off into nothing.  This is impossible when every free moment—at work, in line, at a red light—you’re reaching for your phone. Your brain’s attentional system becomes accustomed to constant stimulation; you grow antsy and irritable when you don’t have that input. You’re addicted to busyness.

And that’s dangerous for quality of life. As Seppälä points out many of the world’s greatest minds made important discoveries while not doing much at all. Nikola Tesla had an insight about rotating magnetic fields on a leisurely walk in Budapest; Albert Einstein liked to chill out and listen to Mozart on breaks from intense thinking sessions. 

Paying homage to boredom—a valuable tool in the age of overload—journalist Michael Harris writes in The End of Absence that we start to value unimportant and fleeting sensations instead of what matters most. He prescribes less in the course of a normal day.

Perhaps we now need to engineer scarcity in our communications, in our interactions, and in the things we consume. Otherwise our lives become like a Morse code transmission that’s lacking breaks—a swarm of noise blanketing the valuable data beneath. 

How to disconnect in a time when connection is demanded by bosses, peers, and friends? Seppälä makes four suggestions:

1. Make a long walk—without your phone—a part of your daily routine
2. Get out of your comfort zone
3. Make more time for fun and games
4. Alternate between doing focused work and activities that are less intellectually demanding

That last one is also recommended by Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. Newport is not on any social media and only checks email once a day, perhaps, and even that time is strictly regimented. What seems to be lost in being “connected” is really irreplaceable time gained to focus on projects. Without that time, he says, you’re in danger of rewiring your neural patterns for distraction.

Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work. 

That’s not a good sign for those who wish to perform creatively, which in reality is all of us. Research shows that the fear of missing out (FOMO) increases anxiety and takes a toll on your health in the long run. Of all the things to suffer, creative thinking is one of our greatest losses. Regardless of your vocation a flexible mindset open to new ideas and approaches is invaluable. Losing it just to check on the latest tweet or post an irrelevant selfie is an avoidable but sadly sanctioned tragedy.

Derek’s next book, Whole Motion: Training Your Brain and Body For Optimal Health, will be published on 7/17 by Carrel/Skyhorse Publishing.

from:    http://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/creativity-and-distraction

Accessing Patient Data

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Google could soon get access to hundreds of thousands of patients’ genetic data: An expert explains why we should be concerned

  • Google’s DeepMind has already worked with the NHS in monitoring technology
  • A new study suggests Google could soon work with Genomic England
  • This would give the firm access to hundreds of thousands of patient data
  • In an article for The Conversation, a researcher explains the risks of letting a private company gain access to genetic data

Artificial intelligence is already being put to use in the NHS, with Google’s AI firm DeepMind providing technology to help monitor patients. 

And a new study suggests that Google could soon be meeting with Genomic England – a company set up by the Department of Health to sequence 100,000 genomes  – to discuss whether DeepMind could get involved.

In an article for The Conversation, Edward Hockings a researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, explains the risks of letting a private company gain access to sensitive genetic data.

In Google‘s case, he says, it could allow them to target users with personalised advertising based on their preferences and health risks. 

It could also create profiles of people based on their DNA data, which may provide details such as their risk of becoming a criminal.

He says genomic data is ‘the oil of the digital era’ and there is nothing stopping it from be captured, bought and sold in the future. 

Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them (stock image)

Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them (stock image)

HOW COULD GENOMIC DATA BE USED?

Privacy campaigners are concerned that governments and private organisations have too much access to our personal details.

This could help them carry out mass surveillance.

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening, says Edward Hockings.

For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality.

Scientists say 40 per cent of sexual offending risk is down to genetic factors.

A ‘single national knowledge base’ as the one the UK government is aiming to create might therefore be used for broad genetic profiling.

Genomic sequencing has huge potential – it could hold the key to improving our understanding of a range of diseases, including cancer, and eventually help find treatments for them.

The 100,000 Genomes Project was set up by the government to sequence genomes of 100,000 people.

And it won’t stop there.

A new report from the UK’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, is calling for an expansion of the project.

However, a statement by the Department of Health in response to a freedom of information (FoI) request I made in February reveals this decision has already been made.

The department said in this response that the project will be integrated into a single national genomic database.

The purpose of this will be to support ‘care and research, and the acceleration of industrial usage’.

Though it will ‘inevitably exceed the original 100,000 genomes, we do not anticipate that there will be a set target for how many genomes it should contain,’ the statement reads.

The costs of sequencing the genome on a national scale are prohibitive. The first human genome was sequenced at a cost of £2.3 billion ($3 billion).

However, almost two decades later, Illumina, who is responsible for the sequencing side of the 100,000 Genomes Project, produced the first ‘$1,000 (£770) genome’ – a staggering reduction in cost.

Applying machine learning to genomics – that is, general artificial intelligence – has the potential to significantly reduce the costs further.

By building a neural network, Google's algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack (stock image)

By building a neural network, Google’s algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack (stock image)

WHAT IS GOOGLE DEEPMIND?

Google DeepMind is an artificial intelligence lab within Google,

It was created after Google bought University College London spinout, DeepMind, for £400 million in 2014.

Its goal is to solve general intelligence and make machines capable of learning for themselves.

It wants to do this by creating a set of powerful general-purpose learning algorithms that can be combined to make an AI system.

Google wants its DeepMind algorithms to make many of its products and services smarter and more responsive.

By building a neural network, these algorithms can interpret huge amounts of genetic, health, and environmental data to predict a persons health status, such as their level of risk of heart attack.

DeepMind is already working with the NHS.

As part of a partnership with several NHS trusts, the company has built various platforms, an app and a machine learning system to monitor patients in various ways, alerting clinical teams when they are at risk.

But it’s been controversial.

The company announced the first of these collaborations in February 2016, saying it was building an app to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.

However, it later emerged that the agreement went far beyond this, giving DeepMind Health access to vast amounts of patient data – including, in one instance, 1.6m patient records.

The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled recently that the way patient data was shared by the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust violated UK privacy law.

The company asserts that patient data ‘will never be linked to Google products or services or commercialised’.

Google’s ambitions to digitise healthcare continue.

I received a response to an FoI request in May which reveals that Google and Genomics England have met to discuss ‘using Google’s DeepMind among other subjects’ to analyse genomic data.

Davies insists that data could be anonymised.

The Royal Free NHS Trust did not comply with the Data Protection Act when it passed on personal information of around 1.6 million patients to Google's DeepMind. Pictured is the Royal Free Hospital in London, one of several hospitals the Royal Free Trust is responsible for

The Royal Free NHS Trust did not comply with the Data Protection Act when it passed on personal information of around 1.6 million patients to Google’s DeepMind. Pictured is the Royal Free Hospital in London, one of several hospitals the Royal Free Trust is responsible for

The Department of Health always promise that medical data used in such initiatives will be anonymised, yet one of the reasons that Care.data (an initiative to store all patient data on a single database) was abandoned is that this was shown to be untrue.

I have also shown that the department has misinformed the public about the level of access granted to commercial actors in the 100,000 Genome Project.

In particular it said the data would be ‘pseudonymised’ rather than anonymised, meaning there would still be information available such as age or geographical location.

The danger of personalisation

What could genomic information add to Google’s already far-reaching database of individual information?

NHS KIDNEY APP

Google announced the first of its NHS collaborations in February 2016, saying it was building an app to help hospital staff monitor patients with kidney disease.

The data was provided in a medical trial that began in 2015.

The trial integrated information from existing systems used by the Royal Free.

The systems used technology to track patients’ symptoms and alerted clinicians when signs of deterioration in a patient with Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) were found.

AKI affects up to 18 per cent of those admitted to hospital.

The investigation found that many patients did not know their data was being used as part of a test.

As part of the deal between the Trust and Google, DeepMind gained access to sensitive patient information such as HIV status, mental health history and abortions.

A hint lies in its self-confessed aspiration to organise our lives for us.

The algorithms ‘will get better, and we will get better at personalisation’, according to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

This will ‘enable Google users to ask the question, ‘what shall I do tomorrow?’, or ‘what job shall I take?’.

With personalisation as their ultimate ‘goal’, Google intend to use the machine learning algorithms which track our digital footprint and target users with personalised advertising based on their preferences.

They also want to analyse health and genomic data to make predictions such as when a person might develop bipolar disorder or tell us what we should do with our lives.

Let us not forget that data, genomic or otherwise, is the oil of the digital era.

What is stopping genomic information from being captured, bought and sold?

We cannot assume that people will make life choices based upon their ‘genetic profile’ without undue pressure – commercial or governmental.

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality (stock image)

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality (stock image)

As for how genomic data might be used and what decisions will be taken about us, the mass surveillance by government agencies of their own citizens is a chilling reminder of the way information technology can be used.

There is something unpalatable about everything being connected and everything being known.

When it comes to genetics, the implications are particularly frightening. For example, there is evidence of a link between genes and criminality.

We know that 40 per cent of sexual offending risk is down to genetic factors.

A ‘single national knowledge base’ as the one the UK government is aiming to create might therefore be used for broad genetic profiling.

Although early intervention programmes that buy into genetically deterministic notions of ‘crime genes’ are reductive, serious debate about policies involving genetic information will no doubt happen soon.

We can already see the beginnings of this in the United States.

The bill Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act – which has received strong backing from Republicans and business groups – would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing.

The results would be seen by employers, and should employees refuse to participate they would face significantly higher insurance costs.

Too much personalisation is likely to be intrusive. The challenge, then, will be to harness the potential of genomics while introducing measures to keep government and big business in check.

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on genomics and genome editing was cut short (due to the recent snap general election).

Its recommendations for further lines of enquiry include creating a quasi-independent body, which could be more attuned to broader, social and ethical concerns.

This might introduce more balance at a pivotal time for the future of human genetic technologies.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4665214/Google-soon-access-genetic-patient-data.html#ixzz4mjOneOXa
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On Longevity

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

No detectable limit to how long people can live

New study finds no evidence that maximum lifespan has stopped increasing

Date:
June 28, 2017
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
By analyzing the lifespan of the longest-living individuals from the USA, the UK, France and Japan for each year since 1968, investigators found no evidence for such a limit, and if such a maximum exists, it has yet to be reached or identified

New research suggests there is no detectable limit to how long people can live.
Credit: © pathdoc / Fotolia

Emma Morano passed away last April. At 117 years old, the Italian woman was the oldest known living human being.

Super- centenarians, such as Morano and Jeanne Calment of France, who famously lived to be 122 years old, continue to fascinate scientists and have led them to wonder just how long humans can live. A study published in Nature last October concluded that the upper limit of human age is peaking at around 115 years.

Now, however, a new study in Nature by McGill University biologists Bryan G. Hughes and Siegfried Hekimi comes to a starkly different conclusion. By analyzing the lifespan of the longest-living individuals from the USA, the UK, France and Japan for each year since 1968, Hekimi and Hughes found no evidence for such a limit, and if such a maximum exists, it has yet to be reached or identified, Hekimi says.

Far into the foreseeable future

“We just don’t know what the age limit might be. In fact, by extending trend lines, we can show that maximum and average lifespans, could continue to increase far into the foreseeable future,” Hekimi says. Many people are aware of what has happened with average lifespans. In 1920, for example, the average newborn Canadian could expect to live 60 years; a Canadian born in 1980 could expect 76 years, and today, life expectancy has jumped to 82 years. Maximum lifespan seems to follow the same trend.

It’s impossible to predict what future lifespans in humans might look like, Hekimi says. Some scientists argue that technology, medical interventions, and improvements in living conditions could all push back the upper limit.

“It’s hard to guess,” Hekimi adds. “Three hundred years ago, many people lived only short lives. If we would have told them that one day most humans might live up to 100, they would have said we were crazy.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by McGill UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bryan G. Hughes, Siegfried Hekimi. Many possible maximum lifespan trajectoriesNature, 2017; 546 (7660): E8 DOI: 10.1038/nature22786

from:    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170628131500.htm

Acupressure & Zu San Li Point

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Massage This Point On Your Body And Experience The Miracle!

 | June 30, 2017

Massage This Point On Your Body And Experience The Miracle!

There’s a Japanese legend that says that once upon a time there was a man who inherited a very valuable knowledge from his father – about Zu San Li, “the point of longevity” or “the point of a hundred diseases”.

Following his father’s advice, this man massaged this point everyday and lived to see the births and deaths of several emperors. Massaging this point is one of the oldest methods of treatments in the East, which has been practiced for several thousand years. The human body has 365 points and 12 major meridians, which is reminiscent of the amount of days and months in a year.

The technique for this massage (acupressure, finger pressure on specific points) is based on the teachings of the meridians and channels that are associated with certain organs. In Chinese medicine, the body is seen as an energy system, and a massage can affect the energy flow and the functional activity of the organs.

Activating the point Zu San Li will give you a rejuvenating and healing effect and will prevent aging. In China, this point is known as – “a point of longevity”, and in Japan – “a point of hundred diseases”. On our bodies, Zu San Li is located right beneath the kneecap.

To find it, cover the knee with the palm of the same hand. The point is located between the nails of the little and ring finger, in a form of a small dent between the bones. If you can’t find it this way, try sitting on the floor with your feet firmly pressed to the floor. Pull them toward you, without raising your feet off of the floor. You will notice a higher area below the knee – put your finger on it and take a starting position. The point you pressed with your finger is Zu San Li.

What is this point connected to and why do the Japanese call it “the point of a hundred diseases”?

Zu San Li controls the work of the organs that are located in the lower half of the body. It controls the functions of the spinal cord in the parts that are responsible for proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, digestive tract, sexual organs, kidneys, adrenal glands. By massaging Zu San Li, you will increase the activity of the adrenal glands, which are the most powerful glands that act as the main protectors of human health.

They excrete adrenaline, hydrocortisone and other important hormones into the blood. If you massage the “point of longevity” on a daily basis, you could normalize the functions of the adrenal glands in the body, which are:

  • normalization of blood pressure;
  • normalization of glucose, insulin levels;
  • suppression of inflammatorily processes in the body;
  • regulation of the immune system.

Other benefits from massaging Zu San Li are:

  • improved digestion;
  • treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • treating the consequences of a stroke;
  • gaining confidence;
  • overcoming stress and tension; and
  • inner stability.

It is considered that by massaging this point, a person can cure impotence, hiccups, constipation, gastritis, and urinary incontinence. It is also believed that this massage will improve the immune system, and that the person will become fit and healthy for life.

This massage is best when done in the morning, before lunch. Massage each leg nine times in a circular motion in a clockwise direction, for about 10 minutes. Before you start, make yourself comfortable and relaxed. Calm your breathing and concentrate on your feelings. Do the massage in a seated position.

Immerse yourself in a state of harmony and let your healing process begin. This massage has a stimulating effect. You can massage yourself with your fingers or with any type of grain cereals (buckwheat, oats, rice, etc.)

They say that if a person performs the massage in the evening, they will lose 400 – 500 grams per week.

Be careful not to perform the massage right before going to bed because it may cause insomnia.

You can massage the Zu San Li point every day, but it is especially beneficial if you massage it during the New Moon.

– Be sure to massage this point in the morning, eight days after the start of the New Moon, as described above. It will strengthen your immunity, improve the work of the organs and slow down the aging process.

– Massaging the point before lunch will improve your memory, the work of your cardiovascular and digestive system.

– You can massage both legs simultaneously after lunch to relieve stress, nervousness, irritability, headaches and sleep disorders.

– In the evening, massage your legs separately in a counterclockwise direction. This will improve your metabolism and help you with weight loss.

Source: HealthyLifeTricks

from:    http://www.bodymindsoulspirit.com/massage-this-point-on-your-body-and-experience-the-miracle/

June Message from The Group

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Transitioning into Spiritual Mastery

Beacons of Light   June 2017    

from the group with love.

Greetings from Home, dear ones

We join you this day watching from afar. We must say first of all, we are so incredibly proud of the work that you are doing, of the energy that you have brought to this beautiful game of free choice. Humans are absolutely astounding.

First, know that you have done well. Many of you are so incredibly interested in all the details—how many times have I incarnated on Earth? What have I done before? Where is my energy now? Dear ones, you already have all of that information. You are what is important now; what you bring to life by looking at it, what you work with, and at this point your energy is starting to really accelerate. Now we have shared much of the information about the proverbial line in the sand, the 50-year mark that is remaining on the timeline of planet Earth. That does not mean that humanity will end; what it means is that humans will change form in some fashion—all of you. But you have been doing that anyway, have you not? You have been stepping toward light body, elevating your spirit and the Earth. The challenge here is that you have been trying to measure the Earth as a rising vibration. Even the Schumann resonance had a new high recently and everyone was very joyous that things were getting better. And then we sort of dropped a bomb by stating that, in fact, from the Earth’s perspective she is transitioning.

Planet Earth is Transitioning

We have used a lot of different words to explain this, including “dying.”  She is certainly on what you would call a death cycle but nothing ever truly dies, dear ones. Energy only transforms from one form to another. As you now look at Mars, you can see that she lost her magnetosphere some time ago. That is the magnetic protection that keeps everything at a distance and allows for the creation of the ozone layer that she had in the past.  It is fascinating to see that the cycle of planet Earth is reaching the end. It does not mean she will die, but it means that she will go through a transition. Most of the forms of light that are currently here may not go through the transition the same way that Earth will.

When you look at Mars, you think of that as a dry, desolate planet lacking the water that is so necessary for life to exist. However, that is not true. What you will also find is that Mars had and still has water, but by losing the magnetosphere it allowed the solar winds to come in and basically wipe the planet’s surface clean. As you discover even more about the cosmos, the worlds around you, and your human experience you will learn much more in the years ahead. Watch in amazement, for this is actually why you placed yourself here at this time. You are  a transition expert, even though you may not realize that or have the calling deep in your heart. In truth, there was a long line of spirits waiting to come in. We have told the story once before and we would like to share it again now so you will understand.

The Grand Meeting of all Spirits after Atlantis Sank

You see, dear ones, there came a time when Atlantis sank. Yes, it really happened and right after that time stopped for the very first time in human history on Earth. Then a grand meeting of all spirits who were involved in any part of it came together on the other side of the veil. Discussions took place and everyone wondered, “What did we do wrong? How can we correct that? How can we change for this the next time?” Yes, dear ones, there is always a next time so never forget that. During this grand meeting certain things were decided, such as if planet Earth ever reached such a level where humans could actually make a difference then the people would start coming in with the information necessary to make the transition occur smoothly and comfortably. And with that a long line formed in heaven, what we call Home. All these beings lined up hoping to have an incarnation, waiting to have an opportunity saying, “I can make a difference right now.” I know this is my calling…” and they would feel it in their heart to jump in this long, long, long line. It was fascinating to us.

Then something happened that bears repeating because you see, dear ones, on the other side of the veil you are not burdened with egos the way that you are weighted down with them here. In truth, you feel each other; you connect with each other in entirely different ways. Although you are actually a part of each other the same way that you are here on Earth, you cannot feel it. Something happened in the beautiful line. The first person in line turned around and looked at the person behind him, number 2 and realized, “You know, you have the opportunity to make more of a difference than I do. Why don’t you step forward in the line and I will take the next place back.” Then an entire series of re-arrangement of this line took place. That way the highest vibrations of beings coming into this planet could be here to make a difference, to shift and change the energy, and to work with it. There were no egos involved. Quite simply, everyone wanted the very best and that is what took place so here you are.

Let the Incarnations Begin!

Those of you who moved to the front of the line made it to Earth specifically with a reason to be here at this very moment. You made it Home. And now what is going to take place is that many of you will be re-membering, even if you have not before. You will start re-membering your power, your nature, and your gifts. In those you will find the confidence and certainty that this is what you came for, this beautiful celebration of light. So, let the incarnations begin. Although at one point, everything seemed as if it was going to reach that same level of vibration yet surpassed it. Many of you arrived en masse and had a major baby boom on your planet. Of course, as time went forward you grew up. When you could finally take the veils off and re-member who you were, many of you were well into your teens and 20s. So, you had a grand party that you called it the ‘60s. You are here now, working through all of this.

We also tell you that the process did not stop there. A refreshment of that line has been continually coming in since that point, which is why many of the highest vibration beings with gifts had to go Home early. They had to do so to become part of that line, to be here at just the right age and time to make a difference on this evolving planet. Do not be melancholy, dear ones, for this is not a sad situation. Instead, it is a joyous reminder of who you are and what your gifts are. Welcome Home, dear ones.

It is with the greatest of honor that we ask you to treat each other with respect. Nurture one another at every opportunity. Play well together.

Espavo

from:    https://www.espavo.org/beacons-of-light-may-2017-transitioning-into-spiritual-mastery/

On Focus & Mindfulness

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Mindfulness is defined as an attention training which can benefit health and general well-being. There is a lot scientific research confirming it. In this article we will present the other type of attention training called Open Focus. We believe, combining these two approaches may help to understand attention training better and to experience its benefits faster.

 What Is Mindfulness?

In its most basic form, Mindfulness means to pay attention to what’s happening, on purpose, in the present moment, and to do so without judgement. Originally from Buddhist roots, it was introduced into the West by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin and the University of Massachusetts. Since its appearance in the West around twenty years ago, many people have participated in the Mindfulness based stress reduction course and similar programs. Research shows that participants may experience profound benefits such as reduced stress, a greater sense of well-being, increased clarity and focus, and improved sleeping patterns.

According to Dr. Kabat-Zin, by paying attention in a certain way, we can switch off our so-called autopilot mode, in which we often go through life unaware of what’s happening within and around us. Living on autopilot not only means that we miss out on a lot of the richness of life, but we are also more likely to be stressed. Stress and autopilot are linked because when we are on autopilot, we are much more likely to act out unhelpful or even damaging patterns of behaviour. In other words, we react instead of respond to challenging experiences in our life. Mindfulness helps us to become aware of these habitual patterns and gives us a choice to change how we relate to challenging experiences. It’s not about taking stress away or hoping to live a life without any stress, but rather fundamentally changing how we relate to the things we experience.

On the other hand, many of us spend much of our time living in our heads. We live in a kind of virtual reality consisting of thoughts and inner dialogue, and thoughts tend to relate either to the past or to the future. Mindfulness helps us to learn how to return to the present and to what’s actually happening rather than our perceptions of what’s happening, which are often inaccurate. We practice it by cultivating greater somatic awareness — that is, awareness of the body, because the body is always in the present moment.

Ultimately, the more we practice Mindfulness and observe the changing nature of experience, the more we may begin to sense that what we previously thought of as being tangible and solid, such as our sense of self, is actually quite transitory and ephemeral. We may begin to understand what lies beyond objects arising in awareness such as sensations, thoughts, and emotions. We may begin to experience awareness itself. This is an extremely significant moment in practice and in life, when we start to experience ourselves as something greater than what we observe and our sense of being the observer.

In Mindfulness, attention generaly focuses on one object (such as the breath, sensations in the body, thoughts, or emotions), exploring it with a sense of curiosity and interest. Another way Mindfulness can be practiced is through Open Monitoring or Open Awareness, where no particular object of experience is selected and there is an openness to all that is unfolding within awareness. Here too, however, as various objects pass through awareness, attention is often paid to each object in a narrowly focused way

What Is Open Focus?

Open Focus is the name of an attention training program created by Dr. Lester Fehmi, a neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton University. Dr. Fehmi found that once our whole brain activity becomes more synchronous in alpha frequency, our mental and physical health improves. He created a series of mind exercises that help to cultivate this brainwave pattern, and he designed a neurofeedback EEG machine that can detect it.

On the basis of his findings, Dr. Fehmi developed The Four Attention Styles theory, which describes four different ways we can pay attention, and relates these styles to brain physiology.

According to Dr Fehmi, pain, stress, anxiety, and other challenges make our attention narrow and objective. It is natural to narrow our attention (focus) on pain or a problem in order to deal with it efficiently, but most people overuse this style in everyday life. They are unaware that it keeps them in continuous ‘fight or flight’ mode. Moreover, habitual focusing creates an impression that the reality consists of separated objects, since we can focus on only one thing at a time, leaving the rest outside of our focus. It can make us feel distant, alienated, and lonely.

Dr. Fehmi says we can begin relating to what’s difficult in a more balanced, accepting way by diffusing our attention. Diffusing allows us to see the big picture and connect (immerse) with its elements. It helps to realign with the world and to create healthy relationships. This style is linked to the ‘rest and digest’ part of our physiology and makes the whole brain activity more synchronous in alpha frequency, which can be confirmed by Dr. Fehmi’s machine (see graph below).

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Dr. Fehmi suggests everyone’s attention should be flexible, meaning that you can alternate between ‘narrow and objective’ and ‘diffused and immersed’ styles of attention or balance all at the same time. Dr. Fehmi says that the way we pay attention is directly linked to our well-being. Once you are able to balance your attention, you can positively influence your mind and body.

During Open Focus training, we practice diffusing by becoming simultaneously aware of many objects. The object can be everything you can focus on, like a physical object, a sound, a taste, a thought, a feeling, a sensation from the body, etc. Then you can progress to awareness of the space between objects, like the space between physical objects, the silence between sounds, or the breaks between thoughts, etc. Finally, you become aware of space between and inside objects which, according to Dr. Fehmi, helps us achieve diffused and immersed style. In this style of attending, all objects (including yourself) dissolve in space and you immerse with reality, becoming fully connected.

Open Focus and Mindfulness are not distinct and competing practices but rather highly complementary.

Mindfulness helps us to learn to pay attention to our experience and to notice how we are relating to it. Open Focus then builds upon the benefits and skills of Mindfulness by training us not just to pay attention, but to be more aware of how we are paying attention and to be more flexible in our attention styles.

We then have the benefits of two complementary practices available to us: learning to pay attention and being flexible in how we pay attention. We could say that Mindfulness is an excellent foundation for Open Focus training and that Open Focus helps us to get the most from Mindfulness training.

What Can Open Focus Offer Mindfulness?

As mentioned, much Mindfulness practice is based on a narrow way of paying attention (that is, we are focused on one object). Although it is useful in helping us to be more aware of what is happening in the moment, overusing this style may lead to tightness and overexertion in unexperienced practitioners, since many people think they have a choice of staying watchful (mindful) of what is happening, or they slip into daydreaming. They keep trying harder and it makes them exhausted and it sometimes leads to frustration and disappointment.

We therefore propose that Open Focus can bring to Mindfulness the idea of paying attention in the diffused style and the concept of attention flexibility.

Mindfulness practitioners who learn how to diffuse their attention may find that it helps them to progress. There are several reason for this.

The diffused attention style tends to quickly quiet internal chatter. For example, it is sometimes enough to become aware of sensations coming from both hands and at the same time to sense peace and calmness of the mind. It is because synchronous alpha brain waves play a top-down inhibitory role in the brain network. The quiet mind makes observing without judgment much easier.

In diffused attention style, you do not redirect your attention from one object to another, but  rather redistribute it between many objects, which are attended at the same time. The only way to do it is to attend objects in a very soft (less rigid, relaxed) way. This skill can then be used in everyday life. For example, you can stay continuously aware of breathing while listening to someone talking to you and there is no struggle between competing objects in your awareness. It helps to continuously sense the present moment and it has very practical applications (see this post).

It is important to note that in this style, one of the objects you pay attention to could be your daydreaming. Including daydreaming into the diffused attention helps to reduce struggle with it during practice. It is possible (and quite easy) to accept daydreaming as one of many objects you pay attention to (see this post). It can be easily extended to everyday life and it helps to stay present.

In order to become fully aware of the world, it can be helpful to cultivate a more diffused than focused attention style. Focused attention requires one to cut off a lot of what is really happening around us and it restricts experience to a narrow stream of sensations. In the diffused attention style, you are aware of the object and its background (see this post). This may broaden the perspective, helping to put things into context. It may also help to disable an autopilot and develop one’s ability to respond as opposite to reacting.

As mentioned previously, Open Focus exercises cultivate an awareness of space around and inside objects. Once a practitioner is aware of space inside the object, it may become softer, lighter, and easier to be with and observe (for example when we attend an unwanted emotion). By switching to a diffused attention style, the difficulty may be diluted by a broader spectrum of attention. This could be likened to putting a teaspoon of salt in an egg cup filled with water and tasting it — the water would taste very salty. If the same teaspoon of salt were put in a swimming pool, it would be difficult to taste the salt. Mindfulness enables us to be aware that there is salt in the water, but Open Focus allows us to experience the salt in the context of the swimming pool rather than the egg cup!

The diffused and immersed attention style helps to dissolve objects like pain or unwanted feelings. Mindfulness practitioners are sometimes encouraged to bring attention to an ache in the back and to observe how this ache feels, exploring how it would be to allow the ache to be there. In Open Focus, they might feel the ache but at the same time feel the space around and in the ache together with the space in the room. In addition, they might imagine that we are part of the ache itself, allowing themselves to become immersed in the ache. This sometimes makes the pain or feeling softer, blurred with its background, and then it may naturally and effortlessly dissolve. The dissolving pain and unwanted feelings process is well documented in Dr Fehmi’s book.

Conclusion

Mindfulness teaches us to pay attention to our experiences so that we can interrupt habitual patterns of relating to ourselves and the world that may not be helpful for us. Open Focus enhances Mindfulness practice by teaching us not just to pay attention, but to bring more awareness to how we are paying attention.

As this article has demonstrated, these are two highly complementary and mutually reinforcing practices. Ultimately, with both we can learn to be present and be flexible in how we are present, after which we may uncover an unlimited sense of peace and love that lies beneath the ‘noise’ that we are usually confronted with and try to suppress.

In scientific terms, this may be regarded as homeostasis; in more spiritual language, this may be regarded as revealing our true nature or higher self. These practices may lead us to fulfil our personal and evolutionary potential and to live lives with grace and ease.

How You Can Try Mindfulness and Open Focus

We could write a lot but more about Mindfulness and Open Focus, but the best way to know them is to feel them!

You can try some good Mindfulness exercises here: Breathing Into BeingTaking In The GoodSelf Compassion.

There is a choice of Open Focus exercises on Dr Fehmi’s and Tomasz’s website (the main difference is that most of Tomasz’s exercises are shorter and they are designed to introduce diffusing and to bring a quick and noticeable experience).

MOF

This article was written with Mrs. Sarah Gulland a Mindfulness teacher who works from London, Guildford and Sussex.

from:    http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/03/13/neuroscience-buddhism-uncovers-how-mindfulness-open-focus-can-drastically-change-your-life/