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Archive for May, 2011


I think you have hit upon the right way to approach old stresses stored in the tissues, so let’s clarify some of the finer points. Stored emotions, energies, old memories, past traumas, etc. are a huge obstacle. They come in different guises and many intensities. Some are easy to get at and move quickly. Others move slowly and take time and patience. There is no way to determine the flow in advance. With any specific kind of negativity, you are where you are. In other words, whatever comes up for you is still there. You must take it a day at a time.

The fact that releasing old hurts takes time discourages many people. They would like the equivalent of a spiritual aspirin that will make the pain go away in 10 minutes. Such a panacea doesn’t exist, even though you will meet promises of quick relief from many quarters. In the Indian tradition of Ayurveda, which concerns every aspect of the mind and body as one connected system, a basic distinction is made. Every person is born with a certain personal nature that is balanced and works naturally; this is known as the Prakriti, the Sanskrit word for nature. But through wrong choices, bad lifestyle habits, disease, accident, stress and other pressures, your Prakriti enters a state of imbalance. The present state of the mind and body is known as Vikriti.

What you want to do, in bringing yourself back to a natural state, is to heal the imbalances in your Vikriti. (For more details, please see my book, Perfect Health, which outlines the whole subject.) Almost any measure you can take to improve your present situation contributes to overall healing. I am not advising that you obsess, only that you remain realistic. Look at your diet and exercise regimen; honestly examine the state of your workplace, close relationships and stress levels. Become more aware through meditation. Delve deeply into past wounds and learn to heal them. That, in a nutshell, is what you need to do. It’s not meant to be a burden or a crash program. Healing is about getting back into balance, using every means at our disposal. In the end, it’s the best and most fulfilling way to live.

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A superb question and one that runs very deep. In our society, people want to be attached and view detachment as a kind of failure, surrender or state of indifference. But the truth is that detachment brings deeper fulfillment than attachment. For millions of people, that statement sounds preposterous, so let’s go into it with the hope that once you understand detachment, getting rid of attachment will become much easier.

How do you know you are attached to something? The object of attachment can be anything: a great job, nice house, a satisfying relationship. It can be a prized possession or liking the way you look in the mirror. None of these things are attachments unless they pass one test: Are you afraid to lose them? Whatever you cannot lose without fear and distress, that thing is stuck to you. You identify with it. You are attached.

When any part of your life has an undercurrent of fear—even the prospect of fear—it isn’t being enjoyed to the fullest. Imagine that you are standing on the beach in Hawaii soaking up a breathtaking sunset. Feel how that feels, how free and unattached you are. Now imagine if someone says, “The sun is going to blow up in five minutes,” or “That’s the last sunset you will ever see” or even, “You have a mortgage on the sun, and the bank is foreclosing tomorrow.” Adding the element of anxiety decreases your joy by adding the element of “I.”

It’s because “I” may never see another sunset that “I” stay attached to it. So detachment doesn’t mean letting go in the way people usually think. You don’t say: “It’s only money. Who cares?” Because deep down, everybody cares when it’s “my” money. What this demonstrates is that attachment is always about the ego, not about the thing you are attached to. Your fear is for yourself, ultimately and truthfully.

Therefore, to stop being attached and really enjoy your whole life as if you were enjoying a spectacular sunset, you only have to do one thing: Eliminate “I” from the equation. Find your true self, which lies deeper than your ego, and something wonderful happens. You realize that no one can ever rob you of yourself. You are safe. There is nothing to lose that cannot be replaced and nothing to gain that adds to who you are.

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Love Myths…


De Vegh suggests we create abundant lives for ourselves, and subscribes to what she calls the salad theory. “Just as a salad needs some lettuce, a little tomato, cucumber, this and that, a full life involves friends, work, arts, and community. When I ask clients, ‘What do you believe you can only get from him?’ they say, ‘He’s so interested, he listens to me, he thinks I’m special, we do things together.’ We can do things with zillions of people. Why is it that only he can get you doing things?

“There’s no scarcity of love,” she says. “We can find it with our coworkers, with our friends and families, in our dance class. We can love what the world offers us; we can love our own vitality. And without question, there can be passionate love between a man and a woman, where you open your heart and soul and you can be yourself—your 7-year-old self, your 30-year-old self, your 60-year-old self. And he can say, ‘I get you, and here I am. Sometimes I act like a spoiled brat, and sometimes I’m a straight-up guy.'” But the relationship has to be an “emotional peership” between partners who are already working toward becoming fuller and fuller individuals.

Such a union requires both heart and mind, which is why de Vegh is wary of unexamined attraction. “Often what we call chemistry is a mix of familiarity and anxiety, and it can be an excuse for not having to think,” she says. “Feelings are great, but we also have brains so we can decide what to do with those feelings. Now when someone comes into my office and says, ‘Oh, we looked at each other, and I so knew this man,’ I think that maybe what she recognized was, for instance, the withholding narcissism of her father. If we really had such good parents that we felt filled up with self-respect and the ability to engage in the world, we wouldn’t be waiting to be bowled over by chemistry. We’d be saying, ‘Oh, you look like a good and interesting person. Here’s what I think about the world; what do you think?’ We wouldn’t be looking to get our needs met. Adults meet their own needs.”

Having seen so many women devastated by the end of an affair—”They feel they’ve failed, and that the halo they were given is gone”—de Vegh is adamant that we not label ourselves as losers in love. “At the church I used to go to, they always said faith enters through a wound. I think wisdom comes through our wounds, that our wounds have to turn into our blessings,” she says. “They make us soft and aware so we can say, ‘Oh, yes, I learned that.’ If it turns out that you and your partner have a different view of reality, that’s good to know. You can honor that, and find someone who shares your view. If you’re losing yourself in a relationship and he has all the power, it’s important to take the self-respecting action of leaving and learning from the experience.”

The best thing that can happen after a breakup is that you declare, I give up any hope of ever being parented the way I wish I’d been when I was a child. “You might have to grieve for that loss,” she says. “And there will be moments in a healthy partnership when you can say, ‘I’m brain-dead and hysterical. Draw me a bath and put in some rubber duckies.'” But that’s temporary. We have to give up the longing to be the child in the relationship, she says. The good news is that once we do, we’re free to find love that’s genuinely pleasure based.

“We each have a potential song in us,” de Vegh says—one that can find its unique expression after we drop the sour chord of scarcity, dependency, and fear.

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Find out what kind of flexibility you have at your job. If you stay late Monday nights, could you take Friday afternoons off? Maybe one day a month you can work from home—and that’s the day to schedule the plumber, electrician, furnace repairman.

2. Sit on a big exercise ball instead of a chair. You’ll save your back and feel more energetic. Ask whether your company will do an ergonomic assessment of your workspace. Many do.

3. Look away from the computer screen every 45 minutes to relieve eyestrain. And stand up for a minute every hour to avoid low-back pain.

4. Pick a special day to celebrate yourself. Have a picnic lunch with a coworker, schedule a mammogram, skip out for a quick shopping spree.

5. Don’t wait to inhale. If your boss or a deadline sends you into a panic, do a mini-meditation, suggests Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Boston IVF and the author of Self-Nurture: Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath; imagine you’re lying in a field, or just focus on your breathing. If that doesn’t work to dispel the anxiety and help you deal with the crisis, Susan Love, MD, medical director of her eponymous Breast Cancer Foundation and the author of Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause & Hormone Book, suggests an alternative approach: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You might say, “The boss will yell at me.” Then ask again, What’s the worst that could happen? You yell back? You apologize? The point is, Love says, “No one’s going to die.”

6. Wash your hands every time you pass a sink—it’s the best way to avoid catching the current office bug. If a coworker comes in coughing or feverish, encourage her to go home.

7. See the light. If you feel lethargic, depressed, and carb crazy at work, poor office lighting may be giving you mild symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Norman Rosenthal, MD, an expert on SAD at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the author of The Emotional Revolution. Try a desk lamp designed for SAD sufferers (you can find them for $225 to $250 at SunBox.com and Amazon.com), and make it a point to get outside for lunch.

8. Control your e-mail time. Block off five or ten minutes a few times a day to open and answer messages, and if possible avoid reading them as they pop into your box.

9. Leave it behind. When you head home for the day, walk or commute without mulling over work (we dare you!); if you drive, listen to music. “Feel the freedom of walking away and going to another area of life,” says LLuminari CEO Elizabeth Browning.

10. Ask for help. If you’re in a bind, see if a coworker will pitch in for you with the promise that you’ll cover for her the next time she’s in a crisis.

11. Make sure you’re not working too hard. This can be tricky, according to LLuminari experts, some of whom have trouble figuring it out for themselves. “Maybe this is a time in your life to pull out all the stops,” Browning says. “Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel between nine and five.” Are you comfortable with the effort you’re putting in? Or—and here’s where the long hours get unhealthy—do you have such a heavy workload you practically need to sleep at the office to get your job done? Then again, are you using work to avoid being at home? Is your job the only thing that gives you a sense of self-worth? Depending on your answers, you may want to talk to your boss about delegating some of your responsibilities, or to a therapist to address the problems that are driving you to live at the office.

12. Ask yourself once this month what you want to be when you grow up. Is it what you’re doing now? If not, can you take more pleasure and pride in your job, even if it’s only helping you pay the bills for the moment? Is it time to reinvent yourself?

13. Schedule a 30-minute break into your workday—for tomorrow. Write it down in your calendar or PalmPilot, tack it up on your bulletin board next to what to do in case of fire. If a half hour is tough to swallow, start with ten minutes. But tomorrow, take that break. Doctors’ orders.

14. If you work in a high-rise, take the stairs every time you have to go up or down five flights. At lunch choose a restaurant that’s a 15-minute walk away. Hurry there and back (you’ll have more time to eat), and you can get one and a half or even two miles under your belt.

15. When you make a phone call, stand on one leg. “I balance on my right foot for as long as I can. And when I get fatigued, I go to my left,” says surgeon Nancy Snyderman, MD, the author of Girl in the Mirror. It strengthens your legs and keeps your balance sharp.

16. Get up and walk around the block once a day to break the routine and clear your mind. Take a friend with you for extra stress-busting.

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    • “Happiness depends upon ourselves.” —Aristotle
    • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” —Mahatma Gandhi
    • “The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” —Ashley Montagu
    • “Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.” —Jaques Prevert
    • “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” —Iris Murdoch
    • “The only joy in the world is to begin.” —Cesare Pavese
    • “It is only possible to live happily ever after on a daily basis.” —Margaret Bonanno
    • “The pleasure which we most rarely experience gives us greatest delight.” —Epictetus
    • “Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.” — Marcus Aurelius
    • “I wake up every morning with a great desire to live joyfully.” — Anna Howard Shaw

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1. Find out what kind of flexibility you have at your job. If you stay late Monday nights, could you take Friday afternoons off? Maybe one day a month you can work from home—and that’s the day to schedule the plumber, electrician, furnace repairman.

2. Sit on a big exercise ball instead of a chair. You’ll save your back and feel more energetic. Ask whether your company will do an ergonomic assessment of your workspace. Many do.

3. Look away from the computer screen every 45 minutes to relieve eyestrain. And stand up for a minute every hour to avoid low-back pain.

4. Pick a special day to celebrate yourself. Have a picnic lunch with a coworker, schedule a mammogram, skip out for a quick shopping spree.

5. Don’t wait to inhale. If your boss or a deadline sends you into a panic, do a mini-meditation, suggests Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Boston IVF and the author of Self-Nurture: Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath; imagine you’re lying in a field, or just focus on your breathing. If that doesn’t work to dispel the anxiety and help you deal with the crisis, Susan Love, MD, medical director of her eponymous Breast Cancer Foundation and the author of Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause & Hormone Book, suggests an alternative approach: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” You might say, “The boss will yell at me.” Then ask again, What’s the worst that could happen? You yell back? You apologize? The point is, Love says, “No one’s going to die.”

6. Wash your hands every time you pass a sink—it’s the best way to avoid catching the current office bug. If a coworker comes in coughing or feverish, encourage her to go home.

7. See the light. If you feel lethargic, depressed, and carb crazy at work, poor office lighting may be giving you mild symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), says Norman Rosenthal, MD, an expert on SAD at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the author of The Emotional Revolution. Try a desk lamp designed for SAD sufferers (you can find them for $225 to $250 at SunBox.com and Amazon.com), and make it a point to get outside for lunch.

8. Control your e-mail time. Block off five or ten minutes a few times a day to open and answer messages, and if possible avoid reading them as they pop into your box.

9. Leave it behind. When you head home for the day, walk or commute without mulling over work (we dare you!); if you drive, listen to music. “Feel the freedom of walking away and going to another area of life,” says LLuminari CEO Elizabeth Browning.

10. Ask for help. If you’re in a bind, see if a coworker will pitch in for you with the promise that you’ll cover for her the next time she’s in a crisis.

11. Make sure you’re not working too hard. This can be tricky, according to LLuminari experts, some of whom have trouble figuring it out for themselves. “Maybe this is a time in your life to pull out all the stops,” Browning says. “Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel between nine and five.” Are you comfortable with the effort you’re putting in? Or—and here’s where the long hours get unhealthy—do you have such a heavy workload you practically need to sleep at the office to get your job done? Then again, are you using work to avoid being at home? Is your job the only thing that gives you a sense of self-worth? Depending on your answers, you may want to talk to your boss about delegating some of your responsibilities, or to a therapist to address the problems that are driving you to live at the office.

12. Ask yourself once this month what you want to be when you grow up. Is it what you’re doing now? If not, can you take more pleasure and pride in your job, even if it’s only helping you pay the bills for the moment? Is it time to reinvent yourself?

13. Schedule a 30-minute break into your workday—for tomorrow. Write it down in your calendar or PalmPilot, tack it up on your bulletin board next to what to do in case of fire. If a half hour is tough to swallow, start with ten minutes. But tomorrow, take that break. Doctors’ orders.

14. If you work in a high-rise, take the stairs every time you have to go up or down five flights. At lunch choose a restaurant that’s a 15-minute walk away. Hurry there and back (you’ll have more time to eat), and you can get one and a half or even two miles under your belt.

15. When you make a phone call, stand on one leg. “I balance on my right foot for as long as I can. And when I get fatigued, I go to my left,” says surgeon Nancy Snyderman, MD, the author of Girl in the Mirror. It strengthens your legs and keeps your balance sharp.

16. Get up and walk around the block once a day to break the routine and clear your mind. Take a friend with you for extra stress-busting.

Read Full Post »


A fan’s mind is a fascinating place. Here’s what’s going on in there during a game—and how it affects your other parts.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan, a football widow, or largely oblivious to the game, there’s no escaping the Super Bowl. Last year alone 106 million viewers watched on TV, bets were estimated to total as much as $85 million, and a victory parade of approximately 800,000 attendees backed up traffic to New Orleans for 30 miles. All this hysteria prompts one question: What is it about chasing a ball around a field that makes human beings care so much?

Scientists say it’s all in our heads. “A sporting event offers an opportunity to experience a compelling mix of chemical responses,” explains Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at football-obsessed Dallas. Researchers speculate that the act of gathering with a community of fans may activate the bonding hormone oxytocin. In the event of a win, the hypothalamus may chip in, too, with a feel-good dose of dopamine. “Evidence suggests that dopamine cells respond to a reward primarily when it occurs unpredictably, which is typical with sporting events,” Chapman says. “And because our brains want to repeat feelings of pleasure and euphoria, one win may produce a greater desire for the next.”

Studies have connected fandom with additional effects, such as higher self-esteem (in basketball fans following a win) and fewer bouts of depression (in fans who strongly identify with their teams). Research has also shown that after a victory, male enthusiasts experience elevated levels of testosterone, which is linked to behaviors including competitiveness and aggression. (While some researchers speculate that men connect more strongly to sports than women because—in addition to having higher testosterone levels—they’re socialized to see games as emotional outlets, others cite a lack of specific research and are reluctant to generalize.)

In certain circumstances, all the excitement can get a fan into trouble, points out Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, director of research at the Heart Institute of Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. “An intense game can trigger a fight-or-flight response, making your blood pressure climb and your heart pump more vigorously, increasing its need for oxygen,” he says. At the same time, certain classic fan behaviors—devouring curly fries, climbing bleachers—put even more strain on the system. “Eating fatty foods makes the blood vessels less able to dilate, which limits their ability to supply that necessary additional oxygen to the heart,” says Kloner. His team explored these risks in a 2009 study—and found that for both men and women, the rate of cardiac deaths in Los Angeles increased following the city’s Super Bowl defeat in 1980. The findings echoed an earlier study in the European Heart Journal, which linked World Cup eliminations to a rise in cardiac events for the losing country.

Still, Kloner concedes that people will always love their sports. He remembers the case of a hockey fan who suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm during a decisive game. “The guy collapsed and was rushed into emergency surgery,” he says. “When he woke up, his first words were: ‘Who won?'”

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