May 302017
 

Public Health Library

 

While more people are embracing a healthy lifestyle, there are still plenty of people who feel confused or get mixed messages on what constitutes healthy living and healthy eating. Not to mention that eating healthy doesn’t seem like it’s easy on the pocketbook. At Public Health Library, we want to pull back the curtain and show that healthy living is accessible to everyone.

 

We can’t express enough the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and nutrition is such an important part of health — it keeps our bodies running smoothly, improves our mood, and can even help cut down on medical bills and insurance rates.

 

Because we want everyone to have access to the best information on healthy living, I have put together a collection of valuable resources. I hope you find them useful and you will consider sharing them.

 

Healthy eating pyramid

 

How Nutrition in Addiction Treatment Speeds Recovery

 

Healthy Eating: Simple Ways to Plan, Enjoy and Stick to a Healthy Diet

 

Diet May Be as Important to Mental Health as It is to Physical Health

 

How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living

 

Eating Real Food on a Budget

 

The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Home’s Yard into a Community Garden

 

Thank you for your time.

 

In good health, wellnesswillpower thanks

Steve Johnson

steve@publichealthlibrary.org

publichealthlibrary.org

Dec 292016
 

Your Baby’s Brain on Music… It’s not Sci-Fi

Music is sound. Sound is heard. But music is so much more.

Music ignites the brain, orchestrating a neural symphony between the ears. A melody drifts into the ear, spirals down the cochlea, drops individual tones onto waiting receptors. Tones are deconstructed and launched out on a variety of trajectories, simultaneously activating multiple regions of the brain to process the wealth of information embedded in the music. Consider listening to your favorite song; memories and emotions are triggered, the beat plays out in your head, you smile or cry, your body dances in time. Surely experience shapes these perceptions, assigning meaning and emotion to songs. But is the neuronal encoding for musical information actually formed by these experiences or is it an intrinsic property of merely being human?
The adult auditory system is asymmetrical, the right side associated with music and the left with speech. In 2010 researchers in the field of cognition asked if the neural correlates for asymmetrical sound processing were already in place at birth (Perani et al., 2010). To answer this question, they imaged the brains of peacefully sleeping swaddled newborns, only 1 to 3 days from the womb, while playing piano excerpts from top composers of the Baroque and Classical eras. Next, they challenged the babies’ brains by shifting the key of the music, effectively altering the music’s tonal context while maintaining its musical integrity. This allowed the researchers to not only ask how music is perceived outside of rich contextual landscape of experience but also how this perception could be altered by structural changes to the melody.

Surveying Sound: Your Baby’s First Critical Window
Music entered the babies’ brains and traveled to the most likely of places, the right (musical) auditory cortex. The auditory cortex is subdivided into hierarchal layers – the primary, secondary, and tertiary cortices. After the initial receipt of musical tones in the primary cortex the other two regions are typically recruited for decoding of complex melodic structures and to initiate motor responses (i.e. tapping and dancing to the beat). At only three days of age the babies’ brains were already engaging all three auditory cortices in an asymmetrical manner. But the music did not stop there; it traveled into the emotional processing centers of the right brain as well. This suggests that the babies were not only perceiving and processing the music but they were also ‘feeling it’.
So what happened when the music tones were altered? When the researchers played the same music but with shifted tonal structure the babies’ brains lit up in both the right and left auditory cortices and emotional processing centers. Why, if the altered music maintained a musical quality, did the left (speech) auditory cortex get involved? In adults we see this left-sided pattern of brain activation when trying to discern irregularities in sound patterns. Perhaps, then, the unexpected nature of the altered tones spiked the little ones’ curiosity, causing them to send the music to the left side of their brains to figure it out. Given that the altered music was still musical in nature this left-side switch likely was the result of surprise associated with the tonal shift instead of failure to recognize the music as, well, music.
Instinctively we know that music can soothe and engage our babies but the degree and effect of this engagement has remained elusive. Overall, this study showed that babies are born into this world with a neural asymmetry for sound processing and a neural-based sensitivity to the structure of sound. Likely this framework was established before birth, even as early as the onset of hearing at only 16 weeks’ gestation. These results are particularly intriguing in the context of the prevailing “use it or lose it” hypothesis in the field of cognitive neuroscience. This hypothesis states that the more a neural circuit is engaged early in life the stronger it becomes, forming a neural scaffold on which learning is built. Conversely, circuits that are not engaged lose strength and disappear from the neural framework. Use it or lose it. This research suggests that music can be used in a new and unexpected way to differentially induce and reinforce neural pathways that may not be activated by traditional music in a newborn baby’s brain.

Perani, D., Saccuman, M. C., Scifo, P., Spada, D., Andreolli, G., Rovelli, R., . . . Koelsch, S. (2010). Functional specializations for music processing in the human newborn brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4758-4763.

Social Interaction: The Missing Link in Your Baby’s Learning

The power of song to both soothe and stimulate babies is a universally known truth. Mothers instinctively respond to their baby’s cries by rocking them gently while singing sweet melodic songs, inducing a sense of calm and peace. As babies grow and begin to explore their world song is used to stimulate learning. Consider the classic learning song “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”, this is a fun, engaging way to learn the parts of our bodies which, otherwise, might be all together uninteresting.
Using music to promote emotional calm and enhance learning is far from novel, but how and why does it work? Over the past two decades neuroscientists have sought to understand underlying mechanisms and outcomes of music engagement in promoting infant cognitive, emotional, and social development.
In 2012, researchers from McMaster University asked if music exposure could positively impact brain cognition and development in babies during brief but critical window of time, from 6 – 12 months of age. During this time babies transition from being able to recognize all possible sounds to only focusing on the sounds they actively hear, i.e they become culture-bound listeners. Scientists have dubbed this the “use it or lose it” hypothesis; if babies do not hear specific sounds during this time then they lose their ability to accurately perceive them by one year of age [see Surveying Sound: Your Baby’s First Critical Window].
This study compared the effects of two different types of music exposure – Active and Passive – with no musical interventions in babies starting at 6 months of age, at the opening of this critical window. In the Active group, babies actively engaged in music playing and listening with their parent. In the Passive group, babies engaged in normal everyday play while Baby Einstein™ CD’s played in the background. The main differences between these groups was that the Active group reinforced learning through repetition, used positive social interaction to enhance learning, and emphasized music quality.
After six months the researchers tested their little subjects on their preference for Western tones, their ability to discriminate novel sounds, their emotional response to novel sounds, and their overall ability to communicate. In each parameter tested, the babies who had Active music exposure scored significantly higher than the other two groups. There was little difference between the Passive group and babies receiving no music interventions. Thus, this study concluded music enhances cognitive, emotional, and social development only when exposure is in the context of active learning and social interaction (Gerry, Unrau, & Trainor, 2012).
This need for social interaction in infant learning is echoed in research on language acquisition. Researchers have found that babies are only perceptive to foreign language sounds when they directly interact with another human ; babies exposed to foreign language through passive exposure such as watching a foreign speaker on tv (Kuhl, Tsao, & Liu, 2003) or watching Baby Einstein™ CD’s (DeLoache et al., 2010) do not learn the foreign language sounds.
All caretakers can likely attest that infants are social learners; If imitation is truly the highest form of flattery, then infants surely are the greatest charmers. However, the absolute need for this interaction to improve cognitive outcomes from learning experiences was unknown. These studies highlight a currently overlooked yet critical component of learning that is absent from most educational baby products on the market – the need for human interaction during the process of learning.

DeLoache, J. S., Chiong, C., Sherman, K., Islam, N., Vanderborght, M., Troseth, G. L., . . . O’Doherty, K. (2010). Do babies learn from baby media? Psychological Science.
Gerry, D., Unrau, A., & Trainor, L. J. (2012). Active music classes in infancy enhance musical, communicative and social development. Developmental science, 15(3), 398-407.
Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F.-M., & Liu, H.-M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9096-9101.

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Dec 192016
 

Some Say Kratom Is A Solution To Opioid Addiction. Not If Drug Warriors Ban It First.

Prohibition is a short-sighted, ineffective policy, but that’s not standing in their way.

03/03/2016 08:38 am ET | Updated Sep 07, 2016

go-pong via Getty Images
A Mitragyna speciosa korth plant, also known as kratom. A number of states are trying to ban it in response to concerns about drug abuse.

America’s drug war is changing. Marijuana, long demonized without evidence as one of the world’s most dangerous drugs, is now legal, at least for medical use, in 23 states and Washington, D.C. The president has said that treatment ― not incarceration ― is the best way to combat the opioid addiction epidemic.

But even as the nation comes to terms with the overwhelming failures of the drug war, lawmakers around the country are pushing to open a new front.

Right now, politicians in at least six states are pushing to ban kratom, an herbal drug made from the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa, a Southeast Asian tree. The natural substance, usually consumed as a tea or powder extract, contains mitragynine and a related compound, 7-hydroxymitragynine, which appear to activate opioid receptors in the brain and reduce pain. While most opioids have sedative qualities, low to moderate doses of kratom serve as a mild stimulant.

As kratom gets a modern makeover, popping up in new products like energy shots and bright, gaudy packages sold in head shops, the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration are raising concerns about it.

State lawmakers, encouraged by sensationalist news stories and isolated reports of abuse, are treating it like a dangerous recreational substance that must be outlawed. Kratom bans are already in place in Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Vermont and most recently, Arkansas. Legislation is now pending in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York, with more states jumping aboard the effort each session. People involved in abstinence-only drug rehab have spoken out against kratom, arguing that the drug is easy to abuse and can interfere with recovery from opioid addiction.

Despite the crackdown, there isn’t a scientific consensus on kratom’s full range of potential benefits and dangers. People in Southeast Asia have been using kratom for centuries, if not longer, and thousands of Americans now tout it as a promising therapy for opiate withdrawal and an alternative to certain prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers. But if the drug warriors get their way, none of that will matter ― and kratom will be illegal.

Alissa Scheller
An assortment of products made from kratom, which lawmakers are now trying to ban.

Susan Ash’s path to kratom began around a decade ago in an old-growth forest in Oregon. Ash, then in her mid-30s, was working on a conservation project that often took her on treks through the towering redwoods, Douglas firs and Sitka spruce.

When she started feeling intense joint pain and debilitating fatigue, Ash didn’t think to consider Lyme disease. Nor did any of the many doctors she saw over the next few years. Though they couldn’t make an accurate diagnosis, the doctors did what they could to treat Ash’s worsening symptoms. That meant prescription drugs ― and lots of them.

“I was on every controlled substance under the sun,” Ash said.

Doctors were soon prescribing her pills just to treat the side effects of her other medications.

“I was on morphine, and because of the morphine, it was making me so fatigued that I wasn’t able to keep my job at the time, and so they put me on Adderall so that I could perform my work,” Ash said. “With the Adderall, my previous struggles with depression and anxiety got worse. They added on the Xanax. At one point I was on all three ― the benzodiazepines, the narcotics and the stimulants ― in addition to Seroquel [an antidepressant sometimes used for sleep], Lyrica [a pain medication used to treat fibromyalgia], Flexeril, a muscle relaxant.”

“I could go on,” Ash continued.

Despite being prescribed a cocktail of as many as 10 different pills, Ash’s condition only deteriorated. In 2010, after years of suffering, she began experiencing temporary paralysis and disturbing neurological effects. She was getting lost in her own neighborhood. She’d sometimes wake up unable to move her limbs until someone could pry them out of their torpor.

Finally, a pain specialist asked Ash if she’d been checked for Lyme disease. The test came back positive, and she began a 10-month course of antibiotics, pumped through a port installed in her chest.

Susan Ash
Susan Ash holds up an IV bag while receiving treatment for Lyme disease in 2011.

But while Ash’s Lyme disease symptoms began to subside, the years-long regimen of increasingly powerful painkillers had awakened another disease. As Ash’s opioid tolerance grew, so did the strength of the drugs doctors prescribed her, and by 2011, she says she was addicted to pain pills.

Millions of Americans caught in the nation’s surging opioid epidemic have followed a similar trajectory. In 2013, doctors wrote nearly 207 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, up from around 76 million in 1991, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Much of this was due to the pharmaceutical industry’s lobbying and PR campaign, led by Purdue Pharmaceutical, to boost the use of narcotics. (Purdue would ultimately plead guilty to misleading the public about the addiction risk posed by the painkiller OxyContin, and pay a $634.5 million fine.)

The United States is far and away the largest global consumer of these drugs, making up almost 100 percent of the world total for consumption of hydrocodone (also known as Vicodin) and 81 percent for oxycodone (also known as Percocet) in 2013 — all of which brings in billions of dollars for the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the pills.

In some cases, dependence on prescription opioids for pain management leads to something more harmful. In 2014, 1.9 million Americans ages 12 or older had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. More than 18,000 people died after overdosing on prescription opioids that year. Another 10,574 died of heroin overdoses, a death toll that has continued to spike as people who get cut off from narcotic painkillers turn to harder, cheaper and easier-to-access drugs.

Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. That number fell slightly in 2013.

But like many people who get addicted, Ash wasn’t aware of her problem. She had a legitimate need for the pills, and didn’t realize what they were doing to her until it was too late.

“My family would look back on how I was then and say I was living my life with morphine glasses on,” said Ash. “I was not caring about my actual living environment. It was dirty and nasty and I wasn’t cleaning it up, and I didn’t even notice.”

Ash entered treatment in 2011. She successfully detoxed, and for a number of years continued in recovery with the help of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. It worked, Ash says, but she still felt chained to pills, as if she couldn’t live free from narcotics. That’s when Ash discovered kratom, first as a way to help deal with the symptoms of withdrawal, and then as a replacement for other medications.

“Life couldn’t have been much worse at that point. I was not leaving the house at all. I was only leaving the house to see doctors,” she said. “In a matter of two weeks, I had the energy, I had the pain relief and I had the depression and anxiety relief I needed to become a productive member of society again. It was such a stark difference and such an immediate change in my life.”

Uncle Sam vs. Kratom

Kratom has long been known as an effective way to alleviate opiate withdrawals. In the 1940s, the Thai government banned it in what some historians believe was an effort to eliminate a threat to opium, which was bringing in substantial tax revenue at the time. Without an alternative drug or legal means to combat withdrawals, many users were likely driven back into opium dens, where the state could benefit financially from their addiction.

The U.S. government hasn’t gone that far — yet. Kratom is on the DEA’s list of “drugs of concern,” which means federal drug warriors are eyeing a more heavy-handed approach. The FDA has also identified kratom as a botanical substance that could pose a risk to public health and could potentially be abused, which has prompted large-scale seizures at the agency’s behest.

Much of this anxiety has been driven by fatalities supposedly linked to kratom. But in almost all of the cited cases, toxicology reports showed that kratom users who died also showed signs of polydrug abuse or pre-existing health conditions. In a number of instances, they appeared to have taken deceptively marketed products that contained not only kratom, but more dangerous synthetic drugs — a concern for people on either side of the kratom issue.

Is It Really Dangerous?

But focusing on reports like these mischaracterizes the potential risks of the plant, says Walter C. Prozialeck, a professor of pharmacology at Midwestern University who wrote a comprehensive literature review on kratom for the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

“After researching the literature, I found that were more positive aspects to kratom than there were negative,” he said. “Additional studies are needed to explore potential benefits of kratom. Also, work is needed to look at toxicity, though. How would kratom interact with prescription drugs or nutritional supplements that a person might be using?”

Prozialeck described kratom itself as largely benign, and said it doesn’t produce much in the way of psychoactive high in low-to-moderate doses. That means it doesn’t have a particularly high potential for recreational use.

“With anything, there are dangers of using too much,” Prozialeck said. “But the amount that a person has to take in to get any severe effects is ridiculously high. You’re talking 10 to 15 grams of raw leaf. Most people who are using kratom for pain management don’t take that much. Most people can’t take that much.”

In online forums like Erowid and Sage Wisdom, users report that higher doses lead to sedative effects, and that taking too much kratom can cause gastrointestinal issues — stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. This isn’t fun, most of them suggest, and it’s certainly a stupid way to use any drug.

Others say kratom must be banned because its promise as a therapy that relies on a less harmful opioid substitute is complicating the addiction recovery process. But the loudest critics have so far been the ones who believe abstinence is the only way to overcome addiction, a position that has come under intense scientific scrutiny in recent years.

In January, The New York Times reported on a Florida woman who’d turned to kratom during her time in a recovery facility for heroin addiction. She was getting regular drug tests, and said she began buying kratom beverages at a kava bar — an establishment that sells a variety of mildly intoxicating drinks, often at an obscene markup — because it didn’t interfere with her screening. She eventually got addicted, she said, and spent hundreds of dollars a week before eventually returning to heroin. The woman said kratom was “causing a lot of relapses” among people who are addicted. The article concluded that the plant was essentially analogous to other opiates, and in some cases, equally as risky.

That thinking isn’t uncommon.

Gloria Anderson, supervisor of addiction programming at the Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic, a 12-step facility in New York City, recently told TV station PIX11 that 20 percent of her patients reported using the drug as “a Band-Aid when they are unable to get ahold of opiates such as painkillers and heroin.”

Anderson and others argue that lawmakers should respond by making kratom a Schedule I substance alongside heroin itself, classifying it as one of the most dangerous drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

“After researching the literature, I found that were more positive aspects to kratom than there were negative.” Walter C. Prozialeck, professor of pharmacology at Midwestern University.

Initial studies have suggested kratom does have some addictive potential. And this is perhaps more likely to be true among people who have existing opioid abuse disorders and who may be in mandatory, abstinence-only drug treatment, where they may be going through painful withdrawals without the help of medication.

All of this speaks to the need for better education on kratom to encourage responsible use and minimize potential harm.

Considering the research he’s reviewed, however, Prozialeck says it’s a stretch to compare kratom to heroin and other opiates.

“I would respectfully disagree with the idea that kratom poses as much risk as other opiates,” he said. “I think kratom is probably less dangerous in terms of long-term dependence and addiction. People who turn to kratom are probably desperate for an alternative.”

Jag Davies, director of communications strategy at the Drug Policy Alliance, says he’s skeptical of the desire to ban kratom. He sees it as a function of the “treatment industrial complex,” which he says is profiting from treatment-instead-of-incarceration policies that funnel clients from the criminal justice system into programs that aren’t based on science, such as abstinence-only and 12-step. Davies said there’s a better way to approach the problem.

“A health-centered approach to drug use assesses improvement by many measures, not simply by someone’s drug use level, but also by their overall health, their employment status, their social relationships and their general well-being,” said Davies. “Determining success by boiling it down to this single measure of abstinence to this arbitrary group of certain drugs isn’t realistic or effective.”

If we were more willing to judge the success of treatment and recovery by other metrics, Davies says, people wouldn’t be so dismissive of the idea that a recovering addict could use kratom and be a productive member of society, while causing less harm to themselves than they did with heroin. In fact, from a treatment provider’s perspective, that should be seen as a victory.

Where Are We Headed?

But that would appear to be asking a lot in the current debate over kratom.

In Florida, a bill to ban kratom advanced through an initial committee vote last month, despite opposition from some members.

“They provided zero reasons for supporting it,” state Sen. Jeff Brandes (R) said of the legislation’s supporters. “Honestly, this was the least intellectual rigor I have seen in the Florida legislature — on this bill and on banning a product. There was literally zero testimony as to why this product should have been banned.”

Brandes voted against the bill, but he’s not so sure his colleagues will view the effort with the same skepticism as it progresses through the state Senate.

“It shows the utter conflict in drug policy,” he said. “I think it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to someone saying, ‘Oh, this is dangerous,’ but then providing no data to support their position.”

The stakes are high for advocates of kratom, and they’re now working to combat the sensationalism and misinformation that has historically dominated political debates about drugs.

Big Kratom Fights Back

In 2014, Ash formed the American Kratom Association, a consumer-based nonprofit that now has hundreds of dues-paying members and around 2,500 active contributors who share their experiences with kratom in an online forum. The AKA recently announced that Paul Pelosi Jr., son of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), would serve as the group’s executive director.

Advocates have been busy trying to convince lawmakers that banning kratom would deprive the public of a promising treatment that has already helped many people who struggle not just with opioid addiction, but with other ailments treated with heavier prescription drugs. And while Ash says kratom has worked for her and thousands of others, she adds that the drug affects everybody differently. As with any drug, prospective users should approach it with caution.

Drew Angerer/AFP/Getty Images
Paul Pelosi Jr., right, with his parents Paul Pelosi and Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi Jr. was recently named executive director of the American Kratom Association, a group fighting to keep kratom legal.

There are also some legitimate concerns surrounding kratom, Ash admits, but points out they tend to get lost in the hysteria of total ban legislation. There is plenty of room, she says, for further regulation of kratom to ensure proper consumer protections are in place.

Much of the bad press has revolved around unscrupulous manufacturers that have sold adulterated products, or have marketed their products deceptively, leading to confusion about what kratom actually is. It doesn’t help that it’s regularly found in head shops, alongside shady synthetic drugs that have attracted their own share of negative headlines, in many cases for good reason.

“The industry needs to come together to self-regulate and self-police one another and get rid of some of the bad apples out there,” said Ash.

The AKA supports placing an age restriction on kratom for consumers who are 18 or older. The organization also believes that stricter labeling guidelines are necessary. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use kratom, for example, and anyone with a medical condition or who is taking prescription medications should consult their doctor before trying kratom. Perhaps most importantly, the AKA wants to make sure that products aren’t being deliberately marketed toward younger consumers, or with the intent of comparing its effects to other drugs, like actual opiates.

Ash says that although she hopes the FDA will stop cracking down on kratom, she doesn’t see a path toward more mainstream medical acceptance. Clinical testing and FDA trials require huge financial investments, and considering the product in question is a plant that’s likely been around for millions of years, pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t see any way to make money from it. In fact, broader use of the plant as an alternative treatment would presumably take away from their bottom line.

But the pharmaceutical industry does factor in to what the AKA says are its broader hopes that it can help foster a smarter, more robust approach to treating addiction, chronic pain and other conditions that currently leave people with few options beyond prescription drugs. The organization would like to see better programs to manage and monitor the prescribing of opioids, while ensuring they’re accessible to those who need them, says Ash. The AKA also believes lawmakers need to invest more resources into recovery and reduce reliance on abstinence-only programs that, according to Ash, have shown “a dismal success rate.”

“Rather than put all of this effort and sensational attention onto this plant that could be part of the solution, why not focus on making better programs and evidence-based programs on recovery and putting more attention on mental health and addiction,” she said.

That may sound like common sense to the growing number of people who believe in a health-based approach to drug policy. But the campaign to ban kratom — which has shown therapeutic promise, but would benefit from further scientific research — shows we still have a ways to go in order to truly reorient the political conversation around drugs.

“We’re at a really contradictory moment in drug policy in some ways, where there seems to be this consensus for a new approach, but then at the same time, there’s still these knee-jerk, punitive responses whenever a new drug comes up,” said Davies, of the Drug Policy Alliance. “People are very easily fooled by new drugs, and it’s still very easy to push through bad legislation.”
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Dec 192016
 

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WellnessWillpower Thanks

Jasmine McCarthy
Outreach Specialist

Sep 112015
 

Drumming is as fundamental a form of human expression as speaking, and likely emerged long before humans even developed the capability of using the lips, tongue and vocal organs as instruments of communication.

The first sound we ever heard while still in our mother’s womb, was the beating of her heart, and the rhythm of her breath. No matter our race, gender, age, religion or belief system, this common experience exists for all human beings.

When newcomers are first introduced to drumming, they often say “oh, I don’t have any rhythm,” in an attempt to excuse themselves for their imagined inadequacy.

The truth is: We All have Rhythm!

Rhythm is our natural inheritance. It exists in our bodies, our hearts, our breath. It exists in the vibration of atoms, the cycles of the seasons, the ticking of clocks, the orbit of the earth. There is no part of creation that is without rhythm!

Fat Congas

Fat Congas

 

Lalo Gatos

Lalo Gatos

Drumming is a practice that spans the globe and has a presence in every culture. It has been used for centuries in rituals, ceremonies, communication, rites of passage, music and dance, celebration, healing, community building, and cultural events.

Drum therapy is an ancient approach that uses rhythm to promote healing and self-expression. From the shamans of Mongolia to the Minianka healers of West Africa, therapeutic rhythm techniques have been used for thousands of years to create and maintain physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Current research is now verifying the therapeutic effects of ancient rhythm techniques. Recent research reviews indicate that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system and produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self.

Other studies have demonstrated the calming, focusing, and healing effects of drumming on Alzheimer’s patients, autistic children, emotionally disturbed teens, recovering addicts, trauma patients, and prison and homeless populations. Study results demonstrate that drumming is a valuable treatment for stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer,multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders, and a wide range of physical disabilities.    Eddie D Katz

djembe-drumming

Reduces Tension, Anxiety, and Stress

Drumming induces deep relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. Stress, according to current medical research, contributes to nearly all disease and is a primary cause of such life-threatening illnesses as heart attacks, strokes, and immune system breakdowns. A recent study found that a program of group drumming helped reduce stress and employee turnover in the long-term care industry and might help other high-stress occupations as well.1

Increases Brain White Matter & Executive Cognitive Function

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease found that two months of drumming intervention in Huntington’s patients (considered an irreversible, lethal neurodegenerative disease) resulted in “improvements in executive function and changes in white matter microstructure, notably in the genu of the corpus callosum that connects prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres.”[ix]The study authors concluded that the pilot study provided novel preliminary evidence that drumming (or related targeted behavioral stimulation) may result in “cognitive enhancement and improvements in callosal white matter microstructure.”

Control Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has a progressively draining effect on the quality of life. Researchers suggest that drumming serves as a distraction from pain and grief. Moreover, drumming promotes the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates, the bodies own morphine-like painkillers, and can thereby help in the control of pain.2

Socio-Emotional Disorders

A powerful 2001 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that low-income children who enrolled in a 12-week group drumming intervention saw multiple domains of social-emotional behavior improve significantly, from anxiety to attention, from oppositional to post-traumatic disorders.

Boosts the Immune System

A recent medical research study indicates that drumming circles boost the immune system. Led by renowned cancer expert Barry Bittman, MD, the study demonstrates that group drumming actually increases cancer-killing cells, which help the body combat cancer as well as other viruses, including AIDS. According to Dr. Bittman, “Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin.”3

Accesses the Entire Brain

The reason rhythm is such a powerful tool is that it permeates the entire brain. Vision for example is in one part of the brain, speech another, but drumming accesses the whole brain. The sound of drumming generates dynamic neuronal connections in all parts of the brain even where there is significant damage or impairment such as in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). According to Michael Thaut, director of Colorado State University’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music, “Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, as with Parkinson’s patients…” The more connections that can be made within the brain, the more integrated our experiences become.

Releasing Emotions

Drumming can be used to express emotions whether you want to release alone or in psychotherapy. We can drum a multitude of emotions such as happiness, fear, sadness and anger. Friedman states “happiness is usually played as a series of rapid, syncopated beats. Fear might be expressed as staccato tappings. Sadness usually evokes slow, ponderous beats while anger becomes hard, loud and energetic.”

Friedman discusses the concept of “Alchemical Drumming” to release unhealthy emotions whether it is anger, frustration or guilt into the drum. Through simply tapping a drum, negative emotions can be transformed into healthy ones.

There is nothing like drumming to bring one into a sense of personal power. It builds self-confidence and esteem. In one exercise we did, we drummed a repetitious beat for over a half an hour to put us in touch with the warrior archetype. This beat conjured up a sense of determination, power and perseverance helping to push through “whiny” thoughts like my hands are sore, my back aches or this is taking too long.

Clave Stick Patterns

Self-confidence will build when you start discipline playing rhythms to a steady beat. Learn the Clave(stick) patterns for they are the skeleton rhythm pattern ( 3-2 and 2-3) for most Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Clave comes from a blend of cultures, African and Spanish originating in Cuba. This will give you confidence to musically  communicate with other musicians. Rock and Roll have elements of 3-2 Clave introduced by Bo Diddly, The Dixie Cups and Buddy Holly and continues into modern music.

Sources:

lalogatos@msn.com/get to know clave/lessons

http://www.alternativedepressiontherapy.com/drumming-therapy.html

http://healing.about.com/od/drums/a/drumtherapy.htm

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/6-ways-drumming-heals-body-mind-and-soul

http://www.transformationalarts.com/inspirational-articles/co-founder-vitality-articles/healing-rhythms-of-the-drum

– See more at: http://www.the-open-mind.com/how-drumming-heals-the-body-mind-and-soul/#sthash.zE4Vh49P.dpuf

Nov 272014
 

 

November 27, 2014

By Dr. Mercola

GRATITUDE

While it’s certainly good to have an annual holiday to remind us to express gratitude, there’s much to be said for the benefits of cultivating the spirit of thankfulness year-round.

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. Scientists have even noted that gratitude is associated with improved health.

As noted in a previous article on this topic published in the Harvard Mental Health Letter,1 “expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better:”

“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.

With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves.

As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

…People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).

Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.”

Gratitude—It Does a Body Good

Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, head of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center once stated that: “If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.”2

One way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. In one study,3, 4 people who kept a gratitude journal reported exercising more, and they had fewer visits to the doctor compared to those who focused on sources of aggravation.

As noted in a previous ABC News article,5 studies have shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:

Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine) Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines)
Reproductive hormones (testosterone) Stress hormones (cortisol)
Social bonding hormones (oxytocin) Blood pressure and cardiac and EEG rhythms
Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine) Blood sugar

Ways to Cultivate Gratitude

Cultivating a sense of gratitude will help you refocus your attention toward what’s good and right in your life, rather than dwelling on the negatives and all the things you may feel are lacking.

And, like a muscle, this mental state can be strengthened with practice. Besides keeping a daily gratitude journal, other ways to cultivate a sense of gratitude include:

  • Write thank you notes: Whether in response to a gift or kind act, or simply as a show of gratitude for someone being in your life, getting into the habit of writing thank-you letters can help you express gratitude in addition to simply feeling it inside.
  • Count your blessings: Once a week, reflect on events for which you are grateful, and write them down. As you do, feel the sensations of happiness and thankfulness you felt at the time it happened, going over it again in your mind.
  • Pray: Expressing thanks during your prayers is another way to cultivate gratitude.
  • Mindfulness meditation: Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. A mantra is sometimes used to help maintain focus, but you can also focus on something that you’re grateful for, such as a pleasant smell, a cool breeze, or a lovely memory.
  • Being Thankful for Breathing.

Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude

Three years ago, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California,6 in collaboration with the University of California, launched a project called “Cultivating Gratitude in a Consumerist Society.” This $5.6 million project aims to:

  • Expand the scientific database of gratitude, particularly in the key areas of human health, personal and relational well-being, and developmental science;
  • Promote evidence-based practices of gratitude in medical, educational, and organizational settings and in schools, workplaces, homes and communities, and in so doing…
  • Engage the public in a larger cultural conversation about the role of gratitude in civil society.

In 2012, 14 winning research projects were announced, with topics covering everything from the neuroscience of gratitude, to the role of gratitude for the prevention of bullying. The organization has a number of resources you can peruse at your leisure, including The Science of Happiness blog and newsletter,7 and a Digital Gratitude Journal,8 where you can record and share the things you’re grateful for. Scientists are also permitted to use the data to explore “causes, effects, and meaning of gratitude.”

For example, previous research has shown that employees whose managers say “thank you” feel greater motivation at work, and work harder than peers who do not hear those “magic words.” As noted in a previous Thanksgiving blog post in Mark’s Daily Apple:9 “[R]esearch10 has shown that being on the receiving end of a person’s gratitude can boost subjects’ sense of self-worth and/or self-efficacy. It also appears to encourage participants to further help the person who offered the gratitude but also another, unrelated person in an unconscious ‘pay it forward’ kind of connection.”

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

Starting each day by thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for is one way to put your mind on the right track. Also, remember that your future depends largely on the thoughts you think today. So each moment of every day is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment.

Most experts agree that there are no shortcuts to happiness. Even generally happy people do not experience joy 24 hours a day. But a happy person can have a bad day and still find pleasure in the small things in life.

Be thankful for what you have. When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, remember the 1,000 reasons you have to smile. Face your past without regret; prepare for the future without fear; focus on what’s good right now, in the present moment, and practice gratitude. Remember to say “thank you”—to yourself, the Universe, and others. It’s wonderful to see a person smile, and even more wonderful knowing that you are the reason behind it!

Thank You For Giving Me This Chance To Say Thank You Again For Giving Me This Chance To Say Thank You……

To Your Spiritual Wellness

Feb 122013
 

 Photo Memoriesmemories with picturesPhotos Stimulates Memory-Positive Vibration

By Eddie Katz

Caring for a person with Limited-Life creates challenges in keeping them engaged with the world and able to enjoy their last days, weeks and possibly months.

Paying Homage to Memories is a way to connect with your loved ones who are late in their lives.

  • Create Photos categorized by year starting as young as possible.
  • Make small photo albums with not too many of immediate family members and relatives because of short attention span.
  • Photo albums can be filled with memories of this life (places, people), this world (vacations), your connection! Positive vibration.

It creates stimulating conversation.

Memories/Positive Connection

Memories/Positive Connection

memories

It is eventual  we will notice our parents not interested in the things that used to stimulate them like food or TV and their memory is fading more and more. That’s when photos put smiles back and a sense of dignity that connects you with them and this world.

Making the best out of our visits should always include bringing photos filled of positive memories. With such short time left, connecting to memories is the most stimulating experience leaving you and your loved ones more spiritually at peace from the visit.

Memories by way of Music

By Dr Mercola

Music predates language and speaks to us on a primal level. Thinking back to your adolescence, you probably associate key memories with the soundtracks that played during these formative years.

Before this, music likely began shaping your reality during infancy — there’s even evidence that babies respond to music while still in the womb. At the other end of the spectrum, elderly people, too, including those struggling with degenerative conditions, come alive again when they hear their favorite tunes.

“What is it about music that moves us so intensely and directly, and how can it be employed in the treatment of neurological and physical disorders?” Such are the questions answered and explored in the above documentary, “Music on the Brain.”

Miraculous Results Simply by Sharing Music With Dementia Patients

In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, patients often become moody and withdrawn. They may forget events as well as their own personal history, leading to a loss of identity and self.

The simple act of listening to music may help people with Alzheimer’s to reconnect with the people around them and even remember past life events, which is why the non-profit organization Music & Memory has made this their mission.

The organization works with nursing home staff and elder care professionals, along with family caregivers, to create and provide personalized music playlists using digital audio systems like iPods to people with dementia.

When executive director Dan Cohen first thought of the idea in 2006, he was surprised that none of the 16,000 long-term care facilities in the U.S. used iPods for their residents.1

He spearheaded efforts to change that, and today personalized music programs are available in thousands of nursing homes and other facilities in the U.S., Canada, Europe and beyond.

In the video below you can see a clip of nursing-home resident Henry, who was “reawakened” by listening to his favorite musical artist, Cab Calloway.

As Music & Memory put it, “These musical favorites tap deep memories not lost to dementia and can bring participants back to life, enabling them to feel like themselves again, to converse, socialize and stay present … The results can be nothing short of miraculous.”2 The video below speaks for itself.

Personalized Music May Reduce Agitation and Use of Drugs in Alzheimer’s Patients

It’s interesting to note that some of music’s benefits appear to be rooted in its familiarity. That is, a person’s favorite music or songs they associate with important events can trigger a memory of the song’s lyrics, the related event and even the feelings and experience of it.

In many cases, listening to individualized music appears to be more effective than listening to a random song.

In one study of 39 people in a long-term care facility in Iowa, for example, listening to individualized music led to a significant reduction in agitation (such as anxiety, shouting and irritability) both during and after the session — more so than occurred when residents listened to generic classical relaxation music.3

Other research has shown individualized music may calm agitated patients and lead to significantly lower anxiety scores.4

The success of the technique depends on nursing staff being able to figure out a patient’s musical preferences, which is why you may want to ask your aging relatives about their favorite songs now (or relay yours to your caregivers) just in case.

It’s also dependent on a person’s interest in music throughout life. You needn’t be overly musical to appreciate music emotionally, as virtually everyone does, but as written in the World Journal of Psychiatry (WJP):5

“ … [I]t would not be appropriate for a person who did not have an appreciation for music prior to the onset of cognitive impairment. A positive correlation is expected between the degree of significance that music had in the person’s life prior to the onset of dementia and effectiveness of the intervention.”

However, listening to music is a simple, inexpensive and risk-free intervention that has the potential to benefit many.

The response from nursing homes that have implemented Music & Memory’s individualized music program has been overwhelmingly positive, with many even reporting reduced drug use as a result. Margaret Rivers of Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility in New York City told Music & Memory:6

“One of the more positive results we’re seeing is a reduction in the need for psychotropic medication. Music soothes the residents to the point where they actually may not need all of the medications that they needed prior to going on [Music & Memory’s] program.”

Familiar Songs May Help Alzheimer’s Patients Recall Memories

When you listen to music, a broad range of neural networks become engaged, including those linked to autobiographical memories and emotions.7 The brain region behind your forehead, known as the medial prefrontal cortex, is one of the last to atrophy among Alzheimer’s patients; it’s also the hub that music activates.

Petr Janata, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at University of California (UC) Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain, conducted a study to map the brain activity of subjects as they listened to music. He said in a press release:8

“What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head.

It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye … Now we can see the association between those two things — the music and the memories.”

Janata is among those who believe providing Alzheimer’s patients with digital music players and customized playlists could improve their quality of life. In some cases it may also help them to share those memories as well.

When Alzheimer’s patients sat in rooms filled with music and were asked to tell a story about their life, their stories contained more meaningful words, were more grammatically complex, and conveyed more information (per number of words) than stories told in a silent room.9

The findings suggest that exposure to music may help people with Alzheimer’s disease to overcome neurolinguistic limitations. This makes sense, the study’s co-author noted, because “music and language processing share a common neural basis.”10 In the video below, the late Dr. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author of “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” explained how listening to familiar music may allow Alzheimer’s patients to access personal memories that have otherwise become inaccessible.

Your Brain Is Hard-Wired to Respond to Music

Music on the Brain discusses that music may have evolved from an earlier form of emotional communication, an emotional proto-language of the sort you may hear between a mother and a baby. Tone of voice and pitch are incredibly important before language emerges, and it’s thought this early form of communication eventually split into language, which conveys more information, and music, which conveys emotion.

When you hear music, many areas of your brain light up. 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.11 Meanwhile, oxytocin, the bonding hormone that’s released when we interact with our loved ones, is also released by music, specifically by singing together.12

Many evolutionary biologists believe that music was fundamental in our ability to function as humans and hold together large communities of people, as music is capable of producing oxytocin, i.e., bonding and sharing emotions, on a massive scale.

Music Helps People With Parkinson’s Disease Move More Freely

Even brain areas that control movement are affected by music. This may seem strange until you consider that movement, such as drumming, was once essential to creating music. Today, music is now being used to help people with diseases like Parkinson’s to move more freely.

Slowness, tremor, stiffness and impaired balance are common in Parkinson’s patients, but emerging research suggests music may be an effective non-drug intervention.13 People who ordinarily are unable to control their movements are suddenly able to follow the beat of a song and dance. The music seems to provide an external rhythm that bypasses the malfunctioning signals in the brain.

A variety of neurological disorders have shown improvement from music-based interventions, including not only Parkinson’s disease but also multiple sclerosis and stroke. In fact, music-based interventions had similar or greater effects than conventional rehabilitation on upper limb function, mobility and cognition among people with neurological disorders.14

Music Opens a Back Door for Memory Recall in Your Brain

By tapping areas of your brain linked to both emotions and memory, music can act as a back door to help you access past events that would otherwise be lost. As Music & Memory put it:15

“Even for persons with severe dementia, music can tap deep emotional recall. For individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, memory for things — names, places [and] facts — is compromised, but memories from our teenage years can be well-preserved.

Favorite music or songs associated with important personal events can trigger memory of lyrics and the experience connected to the music. Beloved music often calms chaotic brain activity and enables the listener to focus on the present moment and regain a connection to others.

Persons with dementia, Parkinson’s and other diseases that damage brain chemistry also reconnect to the world and gain improved quality of life from listening to personal music favorites.”

If you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia, creating a personalized playlist for him or her is a simple way to help them reconnect with the outside world and feel like themselves again, even for a little while.

On a larger scale, if you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may want to suggest they consider the use of individualized music for their residents. Music & Memory also accepts donations of gently used Apple music players, including iPods, iPhones or iPads. If you have one you’re no longer using, consider donating it to this worthwhile cause.16

THANKYOUFORGIVINGMETHISCHANCETOSAYTHANKYOUFORGIVINGMETHISCHANCE

Photos make positive memoriesTOSAYTHANKYOU……….…..

Sep 112012
 

    • emotional wellness mandala

 

 

Overcoming the Role of Victim or Martyr

| By Jake Lawson

Ten differences between being a martyr or a victim

1. Martyrs are people who recognize they are being taken advantage of and choose to remain in the situation. Victims are people who are taken advantage of but are unaware of being treated as such. Once victims recognize that they are being treated unfairly, they have the choice of remaining in the situation or not. If they stay, they risk becoming martyrs.

2. Martyrs are those who recognize that their rights are ignored and abused but choose to remain in the situation and continue to be treated this way. Victims are individuals whose rights are ignored and abused but were unaware that they would be treated in this manner before they entered the situation.

3. Martyrs are people who let others know how unfairly they are being treated but choose to remain in this unfair position. Victims are people who let others know they have been treated unfairly. They have the chance to leave or change the situation in which they have been victimized. Victims often suffer silently for long periods of time before they are able to verbalize the unfairness of their life situations.

4. Martyrs often knowingly continue to enable or set up situations in which their rights are violated or ignored. This “setting up” is like a prediction or prophecy of failure into which, consciously or unconsciously, the martyrs play, fulfilling the prophecy. Victims often unknowingly set themselves up for continued abuse and violation of their rights. They are often confused and bewildered as to why this occurs. They lack insight into the actions that bring on this abuse.

5. Martyrs often seek sympathy for their plight. They seek support, advice and help from others. Yet they seem stuck in their current course of action and seem to be unable to resolve it. Victims frequently never seek help. They are often frustrated and lost as to what needs to be done to get them out of their current situation. Once victims have been offered help and make a conscious choice to remain stuck in their situation, they become martyrs.

6. Martyrs frequently let the people whom they feel are taking advantage of them know how badly they are being treated. Martyrs often resort to badgering, nagging, scolding, threatening, belittling, antagonizing and verbally putting down those whom they perceive to be taking advantage of them. Victims rarely let the people who are taking advantage of them know how they feel about this treatment.

7. Martyrs often believe it is their obligation to remain in their position in life. They would feel guilty if they let go of the current situation. They fear taking the risk to change the situation. They are apparently comfortable, habituated or submissive to the situation and believe a change would be worse for them and for the others in their lives. Victims often want a change and are desperate for a solution to their situation. As soon as a victim gives in to a situation, choosing not to resolve or correct it, they become martyrs. The saying, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem,” applies to the martyr’s state in life.

8. Martyrs have a story line which is stereotypical and habitual. They rarely change their tales of woe. One can meet them several years later and find them still suffering from the fate they were experiencing when you last talked to them. Victims experience their plight temporarily, get help and are more apt to get out of the situation. If after getting help and changing, victims experience the same problems later, they could be martyrs at that time.

9. Martyrs often mask their behavior with an aura of willingness and desire for behavioral change in their lives. Usually they are only fooling themselves, since the others in their lives can see by their behavior and attitude that there is no possibility of change. Victims usually are open and honest about their discomfort and willingly seek behavioral change. Their sincerity is easily perceived by others due to the actions and behavioral changes that take place.

10. Martyrs are “professional” help seekers. They make the rounds of paid and volunteer helpers, advice givers, counselors, consultants–anyone willing to listen to their tale of woe. Unfortunately, they usually ignore the assistance, advice or direction they are given. This frequently results in their “helpers” giving up on them in frustration and discouragement. Victims, on the other hand, seek help in a “crisis” only after the pressure of their problems becomes too great for them to bear. They are highly motivated for a “change” and are rewarding people to work with as they and their helpers witness the benefits of the help, advice and direction given.

A comparison of victim and martyr characteristics

Victim : Martyr
1. Usually has short-term problem : Long-term problem
2. Motivated to change : Stuck in their problem
3. Rights violated by others : Rights violated by others
4. Did not choose the problem : Chooses to remain in problem situation
5. Never complains : Complains all the time
6. Lacks insight into problem : Frequently has insight into the problem
7. Unknowingly plays an active part in the problem : Frequently knowingly plays an active part in the problem
8. Doesn’t often seek help : Seeks help all the time
9. Wants to let go of the problem : Holds on to the problem
10. Guilt free : Guilt driven
11. Solution oriented : Problem oriented
12. Powerless due to lack of knowledge : Powerless out of a free will choice to be so
13. Unique problem : Habitual problems
14. Sincere desire to change : Mask of sincerity
15. Honest to self and others about the problem : Dishonest to self and others about the desire to change
16. Hesitant to get help : Seeks out help habitually
17. Reticent to talk about problem : Relishes the attention received in talking about the problem
18. Embarrassed about the problem : Wears problem as a badge of courage (purple heart)
19. Wants a quick solution to their crisis : Creates crises out of everything but blocks all solutions
20. Open to all new ideas : Holds a “yes, but” attitude to all new ideas

What are obstacles facing victims and martyrs?
A. Victims often:
Lack the knowledge that they are being taken advantage of by others.
Are so used to a certain way of being treated that they don’t recognize it as unhealthy for them.
Lack healthy self-esteem or self-concepts.
Have little belief in themselves.
Come from high-stress families where their rights were never respected; therefore, they lack the competencies, skills and abilities to stand up for their rights.
Lack information about assertive behavior and have no experience in using assertive behavior.
Lack of others in their lives who can point out alternative healthy solutions to their problems.
Are timid, scared and suspicious of help being offered to them.
Are skeptical about someone really wanting to help them.
Victims often hold to some of the following irrational beliefs in their lives:
* You must be nice to everyone, even if they are not nice to you.
* Life is supposed to be filled with unhappiness and uncertainty.
* The small guy never wins.
* This is the way things are supposed to be.
* There are winners and losers in all transactions between people.
* My role in life is to be a loser.
* Most people are basically selfish, mean, self-centered and disrespectful.
* You should never complain.
* Take it like a man (woman)!
* Be silent with your feelings.
Victims often do not stand up for their rights because they suffer from the irrational fear of:
* disapproval
* rejection
* conflict
* taking a risk
* the unknown
* change
* confrontation
* being overwhelmed emotionally and physically
* loss of self-respect
* making a mistake
B. Martyrs often:
Are so caught up in their problems that they convince themselves no solution is possible.
Know they are being abused but are so used to it they can’t visualize life any differently.
Lack healthy self-esteem and self-concepts.
Lack belief in themselves or in others.
Had martyr role models in their families of origin and do not see their own behavior as maladaptive.
Lack knowledge of assertiveness and may be either extremely passive or overly aggressive with their antagonists.
Have exhausted all of their outlets of “helpers.”
Find “helpers” hesitant offer assistance; their resistance and “yes, but” statements are too much for the helpers to overcome.
Manipulate their helpers. At first they are cooperative, open, verbal and apparently honest in their assessment of their problems. However, once an objective helper begins to point out the martyr’s contribution to the problem, they feign newer, bigger and more complex problems to keep the helper’s focus off of them.
Martyrs often hold to some of the following irrational beliefs in their lives:
* You must be nice to people no matter how they treat you.
* Everyone needs me and they would be lost without me.
* I am depended upon.
* It is my role to keep everything together, no matter what price I have to pay.
* This is the way things are supposed to be.
* I can never win in the situation I am in, but I can’t leave it.
* I must find a way to pay back those who hurt me.
* I never get angry; I just get revenge.
* My behavior is healthy, OK, but misunderstood by others.
* The louder I complain, the greater the chances of being heard.
Martyrs often do not take the action required to resolve their problems because they suffer from the irrational fear of:
* letting go
* taking a risk
* feeling guilty
* being blamed for the problem
* being seen as the real problem
* being ignored in the future
* being happy, peaceful or content
* change
* loss of approval
* losing the person(s) who are taking advantage of or abusing them

Steps to help you decide if you are a victim or a martyr and how to change your behavior

Step 1: Make an honest assessment: Are you a martyr or a victim in the problems facing you? Study the comparisons and characteristics listed above to help you recognize your behavior. Complete the following statements in your journal:
a. I can honestly say that I am currently functioning as: (1) a victim, (2) a martyr, (3) a little of each, (4) neither of the above, but as a ( ).
b. I know I function this way because:
c. My current problems include:

Step 2: Once you have identified the role you are playing in your current problem(s), identify (in your journal) the obstacles keeping you from moving forward:
a. As a (victim/martyr) I am faced with the following obstacles to correcting my current problem:
b. I have the following irrational beliefs:
c. I have the following irrational fears:
d. Obstacles include the following lack of knowledge, information, behavior and attitudes:

Step 3: Once you have identified the obstacles, utilize the following skills and principles presented in the Tools for Coping Series:
a. Refuting Irrational Beliefs [Tools for Personal Growth]
b. Self-Affirmation [Tools for Personal Growth]
c. Risk Taking [Tools for Personal Growth]
d. Guilt Reduction [Tools for Personal Growth]
e. Letting Go [Tools for Handling Loss]

Step 4: If completing Step 3 does not create a change in your behavior, try one of the following alternatives:
a. Ask the people in your life if they see you acting as a victim or martyr regarding your current problem. Share this material with them to help their response. Use their feedback to assist you in clarifying your reactions to your problem. Use their feedback to motivate a change in your behavior.
b. Take an informal poll of people as to which role they would prefer to play in life: victim or martyr. In your poll find out what their perceptions are of the two roles and the differences, if any. Ask them to clarify which role is more respected by others. Finally, have them give you examples from literature, history, TV, movies or real-life of classic victim and martyr role models. Once your poll is completed, review your data. Decide from your findings which role you currently are playing. Use the results of the survey to motivate a change in your behavior.
c. In your journal list the pros and cons of continuing your current course of behavior (be it victim or martyr). Use the list to assist you in deciding to change any unproductive pattern.
d. List those who will be affected if you cease being the victim/martyr. Next to each name, list the positive and negative consequences a change in your behavior will have on their lives. Use this listing to assist you in recognizing that those people will survive your change in behavior. This is designed to motivate you to pursue the necessary changes in your behavior
e. Make a personal inventory up to this very moment in your life as to the benefits and deficits of the pattern of behavior you live, be it victim or martyr. List what you gain from playing this role. Also, list what you lose as a result of playing this role. List what you will lose or gain in the future if you change this role. Use this inventory to stimulate change, since you will have begun to desensitize the fears that are obstacles to change.

Step 5: If Steps 1 through 4 are unsuccessful in motivating a change in your current behavior pattern, you may need to seek professional help. Review Steps 1 through 4 with such a helper.

One big problem a lot of people have is that they slip into thinking of themselves as victims that have little or no control over their lives. In this head-space you feel sorry for yourself, the world seems to be against you and you get stuck. Little to no action is taken and you get lost in a funk of sadness and self-pity.

So how can you move out of that mindset?

1. Know the benefits of a victim mentality.

There are a few benefits of the victim mentality:

  • Attention and validation. You can always get good feelings from other people as they are concerned about you and try to help you out. On the other hand, it may not last for that long, as people get tired of it.
  • You don’t have to take risks. When you feel like a victim you tend to not take action and then you don’t have to risk for example rejection or failure.
  • Don’t have to take the sometimes-heavy responsibility. Taking responsibility for your own life can be hard work, you have to make difficult decisions and it is just heavy sometimes. In the short term it can feel like the easier choice to not take personal responsibility.
  • It makes you feel right. When you feel like the victim and like everyone else – or just someone else – is wrong and you are right then that can lead to pleasurable feelings.

By just being aware of the benefits you can derive from victim thinking it becomes easier to say no to that and to choose to take a different path.

It also makes it easier to make rational decisions about what to do. Yes, I know that I can avoid risk and the hard work of taking action by feeling like a victim. But I also know that there are even more positive results if I choose to take the other route, if I make the better choice to take a chance and start moving forward.

2. Be OK with not being the victim.

So to break out of that mentality you have to give up the benefits above. You might also experience a sort of emptiness within when you let go of victim thinking. You may have spent hours each week with thinking and talking about how wrong things have gone for you in life. Or how people have wronged you and how you could get some revenge or triumph over them.

Now you have to fill your life with new thinking that may feel uncomfortable because it is not so intimately familiar as the victim thinking you have been engaging in for years.

3. Take responsibility for your life.

Why do people often have self-esteem problems? I’d say that one of the big reasons is that they don’t take responsibility for their lives. Instead someone else is blamed for the bad things that happen and a victim mentality is created and empowered.

This damages many vital parts in your life. Stuff like relationships, ambitions and achievements.

That hurt will not stop until you wise up and take responsibility for your life. There is really no way around it.

And the difference is really remarkable. Just try it out. You feel so much better about yourself even if you only take personal responsibility for your own life for a day.

This is also a way to stop relying on external validation like praise from other people to feel good about you. Instead you start building stability within and a sort of inner spring that fuels your life with positive emotions no matter what other people say or do around you.

4. Gratitude.

When I feel that I am putting myself in victim role I like to ask myself this question:

“Does someone have it worse on the planet?”

The answer may not result in positive thoughts, but it can sure snap you of a somewhat childish “poor, poor me…” attitude pretty quickly. I understand that I have much to be grateful for in my life.

This question changes my perspective from a narrow, self-centered one into a much wider one. It helps me to lighten up about my situation.

After I have changed my perspective I usually ask another question like:

“What is the hidden opportunity within this situation?”

That is very helpful to keep your focus on how to solve a problem or get something good out a current situation. Rather than asking yourself “why?” over and over and thereby focusing on making yourself feel worse and worse.

5. Forgive.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking that forgiveness is just about something you “should do”. But forgiving can in a practical way be extremely beneficial for you.

One of the best reasons to forgive can be found in this quote by Catherine Ponder:

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

As long as you don’t forgive someone you are linked to that person. Your thoughts will return to the person who wronged you and what s/he did over and over again. The emotional link between the two of you is so strong and inflicts much suffering in you and – as a result of your inner turmoil – most often in other people around you too.

When you forgive you do not only release the other person. You set yourself free too from all of that agony.

6. Turn your focus outward and help someone out.

The questions in tip #4 are useful. Another question I use when I get into the victim head-space is simply:

“How can I give value right now?”

Asking that question and making that shift in what you focus on really helps, even if you may not feel totally like doing it.

So I figure out how I can give someone else value, how I can help someone out.

And the thing is that the way you behave and think towards others seems to have a big, big effect on how you behave towards yourself and think about yourself. For example, judge people more and you tend to judge yourself more. Be more kind to other people and help them and you tend to be more kind and helpful to yourself.

A bit counter intuitive perhaps, but that has been my experience. The more you love other people, the more your love yourself.

7. Give yourself a break.

Getting out of a victim mentality can be hard. Some days you will slip. That’s OK. Be OK with that.

And be nice to yourself. If you have to be perfect then one little slip is made into a big problem and may cause you to spiral down into a very negative place for many days.

It is more helpful to just give yourself a break and use the tips above to move yourself into a positive and empowered head-space once again.

by Henrik Edberg

 

 

 
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picture of the Akshobyavajra mandala. The four quadrants of this mandala represent the four elements of unity. Each quadrant is represented by a color: red presents all-knowing compassion; green represents action through informed wisdom; white is penetrating light and yellow is the treasure of equanimity. This is a mandala of balance and healing. I envision this as the heart of our emotional, intuitive feelings. Emotional wellness is achieved through compassion, wisdom, light and calm stability. When we move from our thinking mind of intellect and connect the heart of feeling, a gentle balance of peace can be found.

 WellnessWillpower – keeping the balance between Emotional, Chemical, and Structural Self.

May 312011
 

 

          

 

 

 

For Children – Emotional Intelligence Means Being Smart with Your Feelings
By Josh Freedman – 24th September 2010
 
This article is written for children to read or for an adult to read to a child.
When I was a kid, no one taught me about feelings.   Even when I took psychology in college I still didn’t learn why sometimes I felt angry or sad or worried or happy — and that I had a choice about my feelings.  I noticed that I had different feelings, and other people did too.  I noticed that sometimes I could get more of what I wanted by using the feelings that matched the situation, but a lot of the time it seemed like feelings were something that just happened to me.
How about you? Have you learned much about your feelings?  How have you learned that?
Do you feel in charge of your feelings, or does it seem like they’re in charge of you?  Are there some feelings that are easier for you to understand, but others that are more confusing?
Almost accidentally, I started working in a job where I was teaching people about feelings, so I had to learn a lot!  I read, talked to work friends, and paid much closer attention to my own and others’ reactions.  I’ve enjoyed this learning about emotional intelligence and it’s helping me be happier, stronger, and accomplish more, so I want to share some of the ideas with you.
Emotional intelligence” means being smart with feelings. Emotional intelligence allows us to make good decisions and work well with others.
What is Intelligence?
Some people have not heard about emotional intelligence; it’s pretty much like other forms of intelligence.  So what is “intelligence”?  Someone who is intelligent is able to gather information and use it to solve problems. For example, if someone is smart about math, what can they do well?  They pay close attention to numbers, and are accurate.  Then they use that information to solve math problems (such as how to divide fractions).
Pretty much the same is true for emotional intelligence. People who are smart with emotions notice and can accurately describe feelings. They can use feelings to solve problems (such as how to be a good friend).
Why does Emotional Intelligence Matter?
A few years ago, a work friend of mine, Anabel Jensen, and I, asked students how learning about emotions helped them.  Here are a few of the answers from kids:
I felt more included.
I felt less alone.
I learned how to listen to people.
I learned how to be a better friend and to ask my friends to be better friends.
We were working together to make everybody’s life better.
I felt more in charge of my own feelings.
How does that sound to you?
Emotional Intelligence Helps Children be Smart About Feelings
In the last few years, a lot of research has been conducted to measure how emotional intelligence skills help people.  The research, and our experience teaching about emotions, says that
The skills of emotional intelligence help young people have less, and more:
Would you like less of these? And more of these?
My sister and I were playing and having fun, but then she got really annoying and… well, here I am back in time out.I’m bored.  I KNOW there is a lot to do, but I just can’t find the energy to do anything. I wish my friends would stop leaving me out of the game at school, but I don’t know how to get them to include me.I have lots of really good ideas, but sometimes kids don’t listen to me because they say I am too bossy.  But their ideas are boring.A lot of times I KNOW the answers on the test, but I just can’t think of it right then. I’m happy because I have lots of good friends and I can always talk to them. When kids are doing something wrong or dangerous, I am able to stop them — or at least walk away and not get involved in bad behavior.Sometimes I have bad moods, but I can get myself out of it and try again. I hardly ever have fights with my parents about homework because I’ve gotten good at doing it. My brother is sometimes annoying, but I know how to work around that so we have fun together.
Some Questions About Feelings
Is there one of the stories that you especially want to have more often?
Can you think of other ways being smarter with feelings would help you and others?
Is there one of the stories that you experience too often?
Can you think of other problems that you could solve if you were smarter with feelings?
How Do Children Improve Their Emotional Intelligence?
The best news about emotional intelligence is that it’s something EVERYONE has and everyone can improve.  Maybe it’s not something you’ve given much attention, or maybe you’ve already learned a lot, but in any case you grow in this.  I call this “growing on the inside.”  On the outside kids grow in obvious ways (like getting taller).  What does it mean to grow on the inside?
Can you notice how you’ve already grown a lot on the inside?  For example, when you were little, you probably were more selfish and less careful than you are now.  Maybe you’ve learned to think a little more before you act, or to notice when you’re feeling tired and take care of yourself better?  Sure, maybe another kid or an adult is even better at some of those things, but you’ve grown — which shows you that you can.  Do you want to grow on the inside even more?
This is a serious question.  If you don’t actually WANT to be more emotionally intelligent, you are not likely to do it.  On the other hand, if you go back to the two lists, above, and you want less of the “left” and more of the “right,” then you do want to grow — and you can.
Emotions Are Messages for You
I work for an organization called Six Seconds.  We’re called “Six Seconds” because of the way emotions work in our bodies.  Suppose you’re playing and you break something you like.  Here’s what happens in your brain:
The first ¼ second:  You begin to pay attention and notice something happened.
Second ¼ second:  Your brain begins to decide this is a problem, and produces a bunch of new chemicals.
Next ½ second:  The chemicals go flowing into your brain and start going into your blood.  These chemicals are messengers causing a whole bunch of different reactions in you (such as, tightening certain muscles, focusing your attention, making you tear up, changing the way you’re breathing).
Next 5 seconds:  The chemicals continue to flow through your blood and go everywhere in your body.  The emotion messenger chemicals cause different cells in your body to produce new chemicals — so they ripple through you expanding their effect.
After six seconds, the original chemicals are almost all gone.  They’ve delivered their messages and you are now reacting to the mistake of breaking that item.  Maybe you’re crying and sad, maybe your angry and wanting to blame, maybe you’re shocked and still, maybe you want to run away.  Your reaction depends on how you’ve learned to deal with this flood of chemicals.
But here’s something amazing:  Those original feeling chemicals are now gone.  If you continue to feel sad/mad/afraid/hurt — whatever — you are actually choosing to re-create more and more of the feeling chemicals.  You don’t HAVE to keep reacting.  You’re reacting because that’s what you’ve learned to do.  You can learn a different way of reacting.
Everyone has these chemicals, and each feeling chemical carries both a message and some chemical power.  Feelings are information and energy.  As we become more emotionally intelligent, we get better at “reading” the messages and we get to use the energy to move us forward in a useful direction.
Three Steps for Feeling Smarter About Feelings
At Six Seconds, we have a way of practicing emotional intelligence that uses three steps:
1. Notice your reactions.
We call this “Know Yourself” because we want you to tune in and pay close
attention to what’s happening inside you.
2. Take charge of your responses.
This step is called “Choose Yourself” because you have a lot of options
– which will you select?
3. Decide what’s really important.
“Give Yourself” is the final step because now you’re thinking not just
about you, but what you want to give to others and the world.
These three steps are not always easy, but we’ve found that (just like learning anything) when you start practicing, you get better and better at it.  Usually we show people three steps in a circle.  Once you’ve done any of the steps, it makes the next step easier.  Then you can keep repeating the steps over and over until you are really clear about what you want and how to move toward that.
For the next few days, notice yourself in these three steps.  Do you find certain steps easier, harder?  Do you do some of the steps only in certain situations?  Maybe you follow the steps carefully when you’re with some people, but not so carefully when you are with others?
Use this chart to check your progress.  It gives examples what you might think, feel, and do if you are not practicing the steps of EQ…. and what you might think, feel, and do if you ARE practicing each step:
What you say if you are not doing this.  Are you putting the three steps in action? What you say if you are doing this a lot ->
Feelings just happen, I Have no idea why. Know Yourself:Notice your reactions. I can clearly see the sequence of events that lead to my feelings.
Act first, think later…I don’t have a choice. Choose Yourself:Take charge of your responses. I have choices about how to respond, I don’t need to react without thought.
I don’t think about others or the world, I’m just focused on what I want. Give Yourself:Decide what’s really important. I am connected to others and our world, and am committed to doing my part.
You As A Scientist
At Six Seconds, we teach teachers a process for working with students on emotional intelligence.  It’s called “Self-Science” because we want students to use the skills of a scientist to learn about themselves.  A scientist notices.  When something goes as expected, she notices that… and when something goes differently than planned, she definitely pays attention!  Not with frustration or disappointment, but with curiosity.  The scientist’s most powerful tool is the question.
Scientists are always saying:  “I wonder….”  So I encourage you to try that out — to be like a scientist observing yourself. Noticing your reactions and choices is a powerful way of developing emotional intelligence.   In fact, by paying close attention to the way you’re following these steps, you’ll be working on step 1!  What are your emotional intelligence strengths?  Where do you get stuck or have trouble?  Practice observing yourself as a Self-Scientist — you’re on your way to increasing your emotional intelligence! Back to top

Jun 192010
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Learn to change your state of conciousness with help from Biofeedback. You learn the ability to lower your stress levels and create a deeper relaxed state. A great tool for developing Will Power!

 

Biofeedback is a process that enables an individual to learn how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. These instruments rapidly and accurately ‘feed back’ information to the user. The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological changes.
The small, hand-held and self contained Deluxe GSR Temp 2X Biofeedback Machine is a Galvanic Skin Response monitoring device for home biofeedback. The Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) GSR 2 precisely monitors your stress levels by translating tiny tension-related changes in skin pores into a rising or falling tone. By resting two fingers on the sensing plates you learn to lower the pitch and your stress level.e, these changes can endure without continued use of an instrument.Copyright 2010: Electronic Healing, United Kingdom