Hidden Messages of Water

This article originally appeared JUNE/JULY 2009 issue of Super Consciousness.
Author: Excerpts from The Hidden Messages of Water By Masaru Emoto ©2004
Photographer: Masaru Emoto

What is water? Everyone, including our future scientists, is taught that water is simply H2O – two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen – and nothing more. However, the scientific researchers who delve deeply into the study of liquid water continue to be puzzled by the complex and unusual ways in which water molecules will bond with each other under differing circumstances. Despite understanding water’s fundamental molecular simplicity, they have yet to understand how the molecules combine to form structurally unique clusters, under what varying circumstances those clusters will come together, or how those actions are directed.

The Hidden Messages of Water - Masaru Emoto explains how  thought effects our water.

Penn State’s multiple Nobel nominee and Materials Science luminary Dr. Rustum Roy completed an exhaustive study of liquid water in 2004. His conclusion: Water is extremely responsive to very low-level solutes (diluted chemicals dissolved in the water – for instance, added chlorine or fluoride in parts per million), strong or weak magnetic and electric fields, as well as “subtle energies” (energies outside the measurement range of current scientific instrumentation). It is this innate yet extreme sensitivity that allows for the formation and reformation of geometric units of patterning within clusters of water molecules. Even more interesting is that this enormous capacity for structural pliability is more responsive to energetic exposure than to chemical stimuli.

The greater the insights into both the macro and micro properties of water, the greater our understanding of why long-standing traditions exist of “blessing our water” before we ever consume it.

We start out life being ninety-nine percent water as fetuses. When we are born we are ninety percent water and by the time we reach adulthood we are down to seventy percent. If we die of old age we will probably be about fifty percent water. In other words throughout our lives we exist mostly as water.

Water, carried by blood and bodily fluids is the means by which nourishment is circulated throughout our bodies and serves as the transporter of energy throughout our body.

I long wondered if it might be possible to find physical evidence of the ability of water to memorize information – might there be some way of seeing it with the physical eye? And one day I casually opened a book to words that jumped off the page: “No two snow crystals are exactly the same.”

Of course, I had learned this same thing in elementary school. The faces of all the snowflakes that have fallen on the earth for millions of years have all been different. However I read this sentence as if it had a completely different meaning because my heart was open and receptive to its message. The next moment I thought, “If I freeze water and look at the crystals, each one will look totally unique.” That moment marked my first step on an adventure into a new and unexplored world.

The Hidden Messages of Water - Masaru Emoto explains how  thought effects our water.

The crystal photographs that I started taking proved to be extremely eloquent. Crystals emerge for only twenty or thirty seconds as the temperature rises and the ice starts to melt. This short window of time gives us a glimpse into a world that is indeed magical.

Let me explain how I go about taking photographs of crystals. I put fifty different types of water in fifty different Petri dishes. I then freeze the dishes at -20C (-4F) for three hours in a freezer. The result is that surface tension forms drops of ice in the Petri dishes about one millimeter across. The crystal appears when you shine a light on the crown of the drop of ice. [Editor’s Note: Ice crystals that form from pure water are naturally hexagonal in shape due to the molecular structure of water – H20 – or two parts hydrogen for one part oxygen which develop into a six-fold symmetry. Crystals form when water vapor condenses, and the patterns emerge as the crystals grow.]

Of course, the result is never fifty similar crystals and sometimes no crystals at all are formed. When we graphed the formation of the crystals, we realized that different water formed different crystals. Some of them were clearly similar, some were deformed and in some types of water no crystals at all formed.

“Let’s see what happens when we expose the water to music.”

First I looked at the crystals of tap water from different locations. The water of Tokyo was a disaster – not a single complete crystal was formed. Tap water includes a dose of chlorine used to sanitize it, utterly destroying the structure found in natural water.

However, within natural water, no matter where it came from – natural springs, underground rivers, glaciers, and the upper reaches of rivers – complete crystals formed.

My efforts to photograph ice crystals and conduct research began to move ahead. Then one day the researcher – who was as caught up in the project as I – said something completely out of left field: “Let’s see what happens when we expose the water to music.”

The Hidden Messages of Water - Masaru Emoto explains how  thought effects our water.

I myself enjoy music immensely, and had even had hopes of becoming a professional musician as a child, and so I was all in favor of this off-thewall experiment.

At first we had no idea what music we would use and under what conditions we would conduct the experiment, but after considerable trial and error we reached the conclusion that the best method was probably the simplest – put a bottle of water on a table between two speakers and expose it to a volume at which a person might normally listen to music. We would also need to use the same water that we had used in previous experiments.

We first tried distilled water from a drugstore. The results astounded us. Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, with its bright and clear tones, resulted in beautiful and wellformed crystals. Mozart’s 40th Symphony, a graceful prayer to beauty, created crystals that were delicate and elegant. And the crystals formed by exposure to Chopin’s Etude in E, Op. 10, No. 3, surprised us with their lovely detail.

All the classical music that we exposed the water to resulted in well-formed crystals with distinct characteristics. In contrast, the water exposed to violent heavymetal music resulted in fragmented and malformed crystals at best.

All the classical music that we exposed the water to resulted in wellformed crystals with distinct characteristics. In contrast, the water exposed to violent heavy-metal music resulted in fragmented and malformed crystals at best.

But our experimenting didn’t stop there. We next thought about what would happen if we wrote words or phrases like “Thank you” and “Fool” on pieces of paper and wrapped that paper around the bottles of water with the words facing in. It didn’t seem logical for water to “read” the writing, understand the meaning, and change its form accordingly. But I knew from the experiment with music that strange things could happen.

The results of the experiments didn’t disappoint us. Water exposed to “Thank you” formed beautiful hexagonal crystals but water exposed to the word “Fool” produced crystals similar to the water exposed to heavy-metal music, malformed and fragmented.

I particularly remember one photograph. It was the most beautiful and delicate crystal that I had so far seen – formed by being exposed to the words “love and gratitude.” It was as if the water had rejoiced and celebrated by creating a flower in bloom. It was so beautiful that I can say that it actually changed my life from that moment on.

The Hidden Messages of Water - Masaru Emoto explains how  thought effects our water.

We all know that words have an enormous influence on the way we think and feel and that things generally go more smoothly when positive words are used. However, up until now, we have never been able to physically see the effect of words.

Words are very likely to have an enormous impact on the water that composes as much as seventy percent of our body, and this impact will in no small way affect our bodies.

If you fill your heart with love and gratitude, you will find yourself surrounded by so much that you can love and feel grateful for; you can get closer to enjoying the life of health and happiness. But what if you emit signals of hate, dissatisfaction, and sadness? Then you will probably find yourself in a situation that makes you hateful, dissatisfied, and sad.

The life you live and the world you live in are up to you.

Healing Alternatives for Adrenal Exhaustion

This post by Christiane Northrup, M.D. originally appeared on DrNorthrup.com.

Pink-Lotus-Wallpaper

The adrenal glands are your body’s primary “shock absorbers.” These two little thumb-sized glands sitting on top of your kidneys produce hormones including norepinephrine, cortisol and DHEA that allow you to respond to the conditions of your daily life in healthy and flexible ways.

Norepinephrine (also called adrenaline) is commonly thought of as the fight-or-flight hormone. It’s produced when something is (or you think it is) threatening. This hormone makes your heart pound, your blood rush to your heart and large muscle groups, your pupils widen, your brain sharpen, and your tolerance for pain increase—basically, it prepares you for battle. Modern-day battles are most likely things like pushing your body to keep going when it’s fatigued, dealing with a stressful job, and reacting with quick reflexes to avoid a traffic accident. Think of these adrenaline surges as withdrawals from a bank, to help you get through life’s rough spots. If you have gotten into the habit of withdrawing adrenaline from your account too often, you’ll eventually be overdrawn and your adrenal glands will be overwhelmed. Then, you’ll have too little adrenaline when you really need it.

Cortisol increases your appetite and energy level while toning down your immune system’s allergic and inflammatory responses. This hormone stimulates the storage and release of energy in the body, helps the body resist the stressful effects of infections, trauma, and temperature extremes, and helps you maintain stable emotions. Synthetic versions of cortisol—prednisone and cortisone, for example—are often prescribed to help people perk up and feel better so they will eat, drink, and move around more and therefore be better able to fight off illness or heal from an injury. Ideally, cortisol is released into the system only on an occasional basis, rather than in response to chronic stress. If cortisol levels become too high for too long, they may have undesirable side effects, including loss of bone density, muscle wasting, thinning of the skin, decreased ability to build protein, kidney damage, fluid retention, spiking blood sugar levels, weight gain, and increased vulnerability to bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeasts, allergies, parasites, and even cancer.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is an androgen that is produced by both the adrenal glands and the ovaries. DHEA helps to neutralize cortisol’s immune-suppressant effect, thereby improving resistance to disease. (Cortisol and DHEA are inversely proportional to each other. When one is up, the other goes down.) DHEA also helps to protect and increase bone density, guards cardiovascular health by keeping “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels under control, provides vitality and energy, sharpens the mind, and helps maintain normal sleep patterns. Like norepinephrine and cortisol, DHEA also improves your ability to recover from episodes of stress and trauma, overwork, temperature extremes, etc. And if a woman is experiencing a decline in libido due to falling testosterone levels, often it is declining DHEA levels that are at the root of the testosterone deficiency, as DHEA is the main ingredient the body uses to manufacture testosterone.

If the intensity and frequency of the stresses in your life—either those internally driven (such as your perceptions about your life) or those externally driven (such as having surgery or working the night shift)—become too great, then over time your adrenal glands will begin to become exhausted. This will mean that you are much more likely to suffer from fatigue and menopausal symptoms. And a woman in a state of adrenal exhaustion is likely to find herself at a distinct disadvantage when entering perimenopause, because perimenopause itself is an additional form of stress.

Adrenal exhaustion usually suggests that there are long-standing life problems in need of resolution. These issues will loom all the larger when seen with the no-nonsense mental clarity of perimenopause, but not only will adrenal exhaustion make the transition needlessly unpleasant, it also can deprive a woman of the resources she needs to address those issues and to take full advantage of the creative promise of the second half of her life.

Abnormal adrenaline and cortisol levels can result in mood disorders, sleep disturbances, reduced resistance to disease, and changes in vital circulation. Because these side effects are not uncomfortable enough to be intolerable, a self-destructive, adrenal-depleting lifestyle often continues. DHEA, which helps the body recover from this sort of chronic abuse, gets revved up full time instead of only episodically. Gradually the adrenal glands become seriously exhausted, with the first and most profound effect being their waning ability to produce DHEA. As levels of this restorative hormone fall, cortisol and adrenaline levels begin to fluctuate as well, as the adrenal glands attempt to fill increasingly impossible orders for more support.

The result is often relentless, debilitating fatigue that is the hallmark of adrenal exhaustion. Though this fatigue is often accompanied by depressed mood, irritability, and loss of interest in life, this doesn’t mean that the adrenal problem is necessarily the cause of the mood change, any more than similar problems are always caused by thyroid malfunction. That is why these emotional symptoms do not always go away with treatment—the underlying issues remain unresolved until they are specifically addressed by behavior and lifestyle changes.

Listen to Your Body

Here are some typical signs that your adrenals may need attention: You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of caffeinated coffee or tea. You not only rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day but find you actually crave sweets, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. (Perhaps you’ve even been diagnosed with hypoglycemia.) Your thinking is foggy and you have memory problems. You suffer from recurrent infections, headaches and depression. At night, though exhausted, you have trouble falling asleep as the worries of the day replay in your head and you suffer from insomnia. Ordinary stresses have an impact that is out of proportion to their importance. You wonder what happened to your interest in sex. If this description fits you, your adrenals may be running on empty, even if all your conventional medical tests are normal.

Conventional blood tests, taken at whatever time your doctor has scheduled your appointment, might indicate that your adrenals are normal. However, a better diagnostic approach will test your levels at different times of the day, which is much more likely to reveal an out-of-whack pattern of cortisol or DHEA secretion. Adrenal fatigue is characterized by cortisol levels that are too high at night and not high enough in the morning.

What Causes This

Unabated stress over long periods of time that is not addressed combined with a nutrient-poor diet is what usually leads to adrenal exhaustion.

Healing Alternatives

If an adrenal test shows that you are producing inadequate levels of adrenal hormones, several routes are available for increasing either DHEA, cortisol, or both. First, you can take the hormone directly. If you take DHEA, opt for small doses of pharmaceutical grade DHEA (5–10 mg/day, but possibly up to 25 mg once or twice a day). Regleson1 Have your levels retested every three months, and when levels return to the normal range, the dose should be gradually tapered until you’re off the hormone completely.

Some individuals require very small doses of hydrocortisone, which can be used safely and effectively if prescribed by a health care provider knowledgeable about how and when to use it.

Be aware that if you supplement your adrenal hormones in dosages that are too high, or if you take supplements for too long, the result can be permanent depression of adrenal function.

Spiritual and Holistic Options

A far better option over the long run is to restore adrenal health and function so your adrenals can eventually produce the hormones you need on their own. That will require making changes in the lifestyle that caused the adrenal depletion. Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus more on loving thoughts. Thoughts that bring you pleasure (like thinking about people you love, favorite pets, a delicious meal, or even a sweet memory) short-circuit the harm done by the body’s physiological reaction to stress. This learning to “think with your heart” may be challenging at first, but it’s definitely worth it. If you faithfully learn this and regularly pay attention to areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, you will evoke biochemical changes in your body over time that will recharge your adrenal batteries. (For assistance, I recommend the training programs and books from The Institute of HeartMath.) In addition, do more things that bring you pleasure and make you laugh and fewer activities that feel like obligations. Spend more time with people who make you feel good and less with people who are draining. Dwell more on what you like about yourself and less on what you see as your limitations. In short, have more fun! Make pleasure a priority instead of a luxury.
  • Allow yourself to accept nurturing and affection. If you didn’t learn how to do this as a child, you may need to practice it. Every morning before you get up, spend a minute or two reveling in a memory of a time you felt loved. Do the same at night. Imagine your heart being filled with this love. Use affirmations that help you feel deserving of this nurturing and love.
  • Follow a healthy, whole foods diet with minimal sugar and adequate protein. (Every meal or snack should contain some protein.) Avoid caffeine because it whips your adrenals into a frenzy. Also avoid fasting or cleansing regimens because they can weaken you further.
  • Take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement.
  • Try herbal support, including:
    – Licorice root: This herb contains plant hormones that mimic the effects of cortisol. Start with a small amount and gradually work up to one-quarter teaspoon solid licorice root extract three times per day. Baschetti2 Make sure to monitor blood pressure, as licorice may increase blood pressure in susceptible individuals.
    – Siberian ginseng: One of the components of Siberian ginseng is related to a precursor for DHEA and cortisol. Try one 100 mg capsule two times a day. It can have a stimulating effect, though, so if it interferes with your sleep, take it before three p.m.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Sleep is the most effective approach to high adrenaline levels. Many women require eight to ten hours of sleep to function optimally. Try to go to bed by ten P.M. Getting to sleep on the earlier side of midnight is much more restorative to your adrenals than sleep that begins later in the night, even if you sleep late the next morning to get in your full amount of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular light-to-moderate exercise is helpful, but not so much that you feel depleted afterward. Pushing yourself beyond your limits weakens your adrenals even further, so start slowly—even if it’s only walking down your street and back. Then build up slowly.
  • Get more exposure to natural sunlight. This is not only good for your adrenal glands, but it boosts vitamin D, as well. Sunbathe only in the early morning or later afternoon, however, never in midday; and never get enough exposure to burn or even redden your skin. Work up to ten to fifteen minutes of exposure three to four times per week.
  • Prioritize. Make a list of your most important activities and commitments, and then let everything else go. Don’t agree to a new task or commitment unless it’s something that will recharge your batteries.

Apple Watch already has 264 health apps

This post by Jonah Comstock originally appeared in MobiHealthNews on Apr 27, 2015

Mayo Clinic Synthesis

As the Apple Watch begins to find its way into the hands of consumers, it’s also becoming clearer that there’s a lot of interest in the health features of the device. On April 24th, the day the Apple Watch began shipping, MobiHealthNews found 264 Apple Watch apps related to health or fitness in the Apple AppStore, including apps from Humana, Cerner, the Mayo Clinic, athenahealth, and Walgreens, to name just a few.

Although a majority were fitness and workout apps, we found 13 apps related to medication adherence, 15 apps specifically for doctors or patients, 12 hydration tracking apps, and 13 apps for tracking fertility and/or pregnancy. And that was just on day one.

We’re also learning more about the sensors in the device. The big (and often misinterpreted) news about Apple Watch’s health features is that they were not what they could have been. The Wall Street Journal broke the story that Apple initially planned a much more ambitious health device, but concerns around accuracy and regulation stymied those plans. 

After iFixIt dismantled the Apple Watch and posted a detailed summary of their findings, they discovered that some of those sensors are still in the device and could possibly be enabled by a future firmware update, namely the blood oxygenation sensor. The sensor uses photoplethysmography, as Apple revealed last week, and that same technology can be used to measure Sp02, especially if the device contains both green and infrared LEDs, which the Apple Watch does. So it’s possible that, if Apple engineers crack the accuracy problems and/or obtain additional FDA clearance, pulse oximetry functionality could be enabled.

Finally, we’re already seeing the first Apple Watch hospital deployments. Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, which already has a HealthKit integration and a genius bar-style app and device store for patients, is diving right into a pilot giving patients Apple Watches, according to Forbes.

The watch will be given to high blood pressure patients, who will use it for medication reminders as well as using the Watch’s built-in fitness software to remind them to get enough exercise each day. Chief Clinical Transformation Officer Richard Milani told Forbes he plans to recruit two dozen patients and use the rest of Ochsner’s existing HealthKit program as a control group to collect data about the effectiveness of the Watch specifically.

Ochsner’s not alone. Last October, not long after Apple Watch was revealed, Springfield, Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System began recruiting for a pilot program to examine how nurses and physicians can integrate the Apple Watch into the medical group’s Advanced Medical Home program. When we spoke to HSHS last fall, of course, doctors were still expecting a fuller sensor suite.

“Our plan is to give [the Apple Watches] to our nurse navigators to take a look at, to use, to test, and to find out what information is there and compare it to ensure that it’s reliable so we know where the shortcomings are,” Dr. Andrew Bland, the Chief Quality Officer at HSHS said at the time. “I’ve seen some great apps demoed for the iPhone that allow you to take your own pulse rate or even measure your own oxygen saturation. I just want to make sure that as we’re giving medical advice that the data is reliable and we understand the shortfalls.”

21 Health Benefits Of Napping

21 Health Benefits Of Napping

This post by Korin Miller originally appeared in Men’s Health, Yahoo Health on May 30, 2015.

Rattle off this list to anyone who thinks you’re lazy for taking a siesta.

Naps get a bad rap—especially when they happen at work. But research suggests this kind of thinking is completely antiquated. Extra sleep can help boost your memory, reduce stress, and enhance your sex life, research suggests. Plus, there’s the whole “naps feel awesome” part.

So here’s the scientific support you need to feel 100 percent comfortable spending a little extra quality time with your pillow today.

And for more ways to improve every aspect of your life, check out The Better Man Project. It’s jam-packed with 2,000 “body hacks” for better fitness, health, nutrition, and sex.

You’re Probably Sleep Deprived Right Now 

While it’s ideal to catch your shuteye in the evening, more than half of Americans don’t get enough sleep at night, reports the National Sleep Foundation.

According to the organization’s new recommendations, you should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep. If you’re like most people, you fall shy of that target: Americans average only 6.8 hours per night, a recent Gallup poll finds.

“If getting enough sleep isn’t possible, then napping is the next best thing,” says Abid Malik, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Orlando Health-South Seminole Hospital.

It Will Make You a Genius 

A team of German neuropsychologists found that napping after learning something can make your memory of that information five times better than if you had stayed awake afterward.

The researchers say your brain’s ability to go into a tranquil state during sleep is linked to your ability to remember. Mandatory naptime at the office? That’s just good management.

It Only Takes a Few Minutes

A 15- to 20-minute power nap is all you need to wake up feeling like a new man, says Dr. Malik. The chemicals in our brain rebalance as you sleep, he says, making you feel more alert—even if you only doze for a few minutes.

It Keeps You From Pigging Out 

The less you sleep, the more likely you are to gain weight, a Stanford University study found. Researchers discovered that a lack of sleep triggers your body’s production of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you want to eat more, and lowers levels of the hormone leptin, which tells you when you’re full.

It’s the Laziest Form of Stress Management

Stress sends your blood pressure through the roof—which can cause heart disease, stroke, and even erection problems. But research from Allegheny College suggests that catching a daytime snooze may help your body handle anxiety.

Scientists let half of the study participants doze, and then gave them all a tough exam. The nappers had lower blood pressure after the test than the people who had stayed awake all day. Researchers think shuteye speeds up your heart’s ability to recover from stress, helping your blood pressure to go down in the process.

You’ll Be a Better Partner

Arguing with your better half all the time? Check your sleep habits. Research from the University of California, Berkeley found that just one night without rest can make arguments with your partner worse. Why? You’re less accurate at reading your partner’s emotions and more likely to be cranky all day.

It Helps You Recover from an All-Nighter 

Lack of sleep can leave you feeling stressed out and can even make you sick, research finds. But you’re not totally screwed after you pull a late night—as long as you catch some mini-snoozes.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who took two half-hour naps the day after getting just two hours of sleep were able to reset their stress-hormone levels, leaving them less frazzled and healthier than those who never napped.

It Protects Your Ticker 

Just one night of bad sleep can make your blood vessels less flexible, according to a British study. That can raise your risk of heart disease, which can, well, kill you. Scientists think that when your brain is wiped, it signals to your blood vessels to become stiff and unresponsive. The good news: Study participants’ vessels went back to normal after getting enough rest.

It Cures Indiscriminate Horniness 

Being exhausted is like wearing beer goggles, research from Hendrix College suggests. When the men in the study were sleep deprived, they thought women were more attractive and were more interested in casual sex. Researchers found that sleep deprivation messes with the frontal lobe of your brain, which is involved in judgment, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior.

It Could Be the Difference between Life and Death

People who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a higher risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists think people who sleep less are more stressed out, which may contribute to the development of those fatal conditions.

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You’ll Have Laser Focus This Afternoon 

A study from the University of California, Berkeley found that the more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our brains become. The solution? Nap. Study participants who took a siesta during a day of learning were able to pay better attention later that day. Those who missed naptime were more easily distracted and became worse at learning as the day went on.

It Boosts Your Boner 

Sleeping less than five hours a day may decrease your testosterone levels by 10 to 15 percent, according to a University of Chicago study. When you don’t have enough testosterone in your body, you may have a lower sex drive, weaker sperm, and difficulty getting it up. Sleep is essential for testosterone production, the researchers say. Get too little, and your body will produce chemicals that mess with your T.

Tired Guys Can Be Jerks 

Sleep deprivation makes you more likely to stereotype, research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology finds. A lack of sleep depletes your self-control, so the less you sleep, the worse you become at filtering the prejudices you know are wrong, researchers say. Basically, it makes you an a-hole. Catch some extra shuteye to boost your niceness rating.

It Could Keep You From Going Insane 

According to research from the University of California at Irvine, sleep deprivation may increase your odds of developing fake memories.

In the study, people who didn’t get enough shuteye were more likely to report that they saw imaginary details in photos—when they actually had just read about those details in a separate narrative afterward. People who got enough sleep beforehand, however, didn’t screw it up. Researchers say a lack of sleep jumbles up the information stored in your brain, causing confusion.

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You’ll Read Women Better 

Men who are short on shuteye are more likely to wrongfully assume a woman is into them, says a study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Researchers found that sleep deprivation narrows your attention span, slows your brain’s ability to process information, and hurts your short-term memory, making you interpret her innocent glance as a meaningful stare.

It’s Natural Xanax 

Being tired can make you more uptight, according to a study from University of California, Berkeley. Scientists found when people didn’t get enough sleep, they showed significantly more activity in areas of the brain associated with anxiety. The study author warns that sleep-deprived people are at risk for developing an actual anxiety disorder—so take a nap.

You’ll Be a Boss behind the Wheel 

Lack of sleep makes you a liability on the road—even when you don’t feel tired, says a study from the University of Pennsylvania. Scientists discovered that people who slept six or fewer hours a night were almost three times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel than those who logged seven hours.

Drowsy driving may be an even bigger public safety issue than drunk driving, the researcher says, since there’s no way for authorities to judge whether you’ve had enough sleep.

It Lowers Your Diabetes Risk 

Not getting enough shuteye can raise your risk of developing diabetes, according to research from the University of Chicago. In the study, healthy men who were restricted to 4.5 hours of sleep for four days had more fatty acids in their blood—which can eventually cause your blood sugar to soar—than when they slept for 8.5 hours. Researchers say you should be able to reverse the effects by getting more sleep.

You’ll Be More Fit 

Taking a nap could actually boost your performance in the gym. A study from Stanford University found that athletes who got more sleep over a three-week period achieved faster sprint times, longer endurance, a lower heart rate, and better workouts in general. Researchers say that most athletes don’t log enough shuteye to recover from their workouts. That can mess with their minds, mood, and reaction times, but scientists say getting more shuteye can reverse those effects.

It May Help Prevent Dementia 

A lack of sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s disease, says research from Johns Hopkins University. Study participants who didn’t catch enough shuteye had greater deposits of B-Amyloid, a plaque associated with Alzheimer’s, in their brains. While you sleep, your brain essentially cleans itself, removing those plaques, the researchers say.

Your Skin Will Thank You 

Beauty sleep is legit, and guys need it too, according to a study from University Hospitals Case Medical Center. Sleep-deprived subjects had more fine lines, uneven skin tone, and loose skin. Researchers say that staying up all night can make you age faster by weakening your skin’s ability to repair itself.

Five things you can do to be happier right now

Professor Paul Dolan at the 2015 Hay Festival

This post by  appeared in the Telegraph on May 31, 2015

Earning more money; bagging the fabulous job you have always wanted or travelling the world might seem like the key to happiness.

But according to happiness expert Prof Paul Dolan, making simple changes are the key to bringing joy and purpose into your life.

Dolan, a professor at the London School of Economics and government advisor on how to make the population more contented, claims that many of the things people believe will make them happy are fleeting and can actually alter their lives in a negative way.

So although that coveted promotion may seem like the key happiness, it is likely to bring longer hours, more stress and a bigger commute. Likewise travelling the world will separate people from loved ones. And after a salary of £50,000, studies have shown nobody gets any happier with extra cash.

However he has identified five ways to be immediately happier. They are:

  1. Listening to a favourite piece of music
  2. Spending five more minutes with someone you like
  3. Going outdoors
  4. Helping someone else
  5. Having a new experience

Speaking at The Hay Festival, Prof Dolan said: “It’s important to change what you do, not how you think.

“You should listen to music that you like listening to. That has a substantial effect on your mood. Your brain literally lights up. There is no other stimulation like music to arouse the brain.

“You spend five minutes more with someone you like and go outdoors. And helping someone is important. Helping other people is a very selfish thing to do. It’s a great source of happiness for you. Just randomly help someone and see the difference.

“And having a new experience is really important. The great thing about new experiences is they actually slow time down. It’s why life feels so slow for children because they are experiencing new things all the time. So if you want to slow down time then have as many new experiences as you can.”

Prof Dolan also advocates the importance of ‘priming’ and suggests changing passwords to affirmations to help keep goals in the memory. So if someone wanted to stop spending money they could change their banking password to ‘stopspendingcash’.

Making public promises is also a good way at achieving goals, Prof Dolan recommends. So announcing a plan to lose weight, give up smoking or stop drinking so much on Twitter makes people more likely to keep it up.

He believes it is important to ‘design’ an environment which makes happiness goals more achievable, even it means cutting yourself off from friends who promote bad habits.

“Most things we do are made through habit and auto-pilot because the brain is forming habit-loops all the time to make us more efficient. It’s why you can’t remember if you have locked the house or switched the gas off.

“So it’s important to design an environment that makes happiness possible. Willpower won’t work. You need to make it easier to yourself. You need to think what makes you happy and work out how to change your environment to allow you do to that more easily.

“So if going to the pub with friends makes you happy then make it once a week on a Tuesday or once a month, because it’s far harder to opt out of something than to opt in.”

“Most things we think will make us happy won’t. We’re really always happier if we are focussing on the person we are with and the thing we are doing right now. So make that something you enjoy.”

Treating Depression Early May Protect the Heart

This post by Tori Rodriguez originally appeared in Scientific American on Apr 9, 2015
healthy-heart

Heart disease and depression often go hand in hand. Long-term studies have found that people with depression have a significantly higher risk of subsequent heart disease, and vice versa. Recent research has revealed that the link begins at an early age and is probably caused by chronic inflammation.A new study in the November 2014 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine by researchers in the U.S., Australia and China examined data from an ongoing study of health among Australians. The researchers looked at the scores of 865 young adults on a questionnaire that assesses depression symptoms and other measures of mental health. They also examined measurements of the internal diameter of the blood vessels of the retina, a possible marker of early cardiovascular disease.

After controlling for sex, age, smoking status and body mass index, the investigators found that participants with more symptoms of depression and anxiety had wider retinal arterioles than others, which could reflect the quality of blood vessels in their heart and brain. “We don’t know if the association is causal,” explains study co-author Madeline Meier, a psychology professor at Arizona State University. “But our findings suggest that symptoms of depression and anxiety may identify youth at risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Other research shows that people with depression have more inflammation throughout their body and nervous system. “One theory is that stress and inflammation could play a causal role in depression,” Meier says. Such chronic inflammation is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The relationship is complex: in some people, inflammation seems to precede depression and heart disease; in others, the disorders seem to cause or exacerbate the inflammation.

A study published last year suggests that atypical depression, one particular type of the disorder, may be more strongly associated with inflammation—and thus with cardiovascular problems. Atypical depression accounts for 15 to 40 percent of depression cases. It is characterized by more flexibility in mood than is found in typical depression—for instance, mood might improve in response to positive events—along with symptoms such as increased appetite, feelings of heaviness in the limbs and sensitivity to interpersonal rejection.

In the study, which was reported in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, researchers found that blood levels of a telltale immune protein in young adults with atypical depression were at least 55 percent higher than in those with other types of depression or no depression. The number of participants with atypical depression who had readings that indicated high cardiovascular risk was almost double that of the others.

The good news is that treating depression symptoms may indeed help prevent heart disease, according to a trial reported in 2013 in Psychosomatic Medicine. Patients with depression—some with and some without heart disease—either got 12 months of treatment with antidepressants and psychotherapy, or they were simply advised to follow up with their primary care provider. Over eight years the patients without heart disease whose depression was treated had a 48 percent lower risk of heart attack and stroke than those who were not treated. There was no change in risk for patients who already had heart disease at the start of the study, further underscoring the need for timely intervention.

What’s the Key Imperative for Lasting Love?

This post by  Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. originally appeared in Psychology Today on May 29, 2015

"Couples Quotes," Fashion Ekstrax, used with permission

In the idyllic state of romantic love—and without a whole lot of rational thought—you typically attempt to secure the object of your passion by putting their wants and needs ahead of your own. It’s as though you’re saying to yourself: “So I can make you mine, I’ll make fulfilling your desires even more important than my own.”

And whether or not you’re aware of it, the “deal” you’re making to maximize the odds that the one who’s endeared themselves to you will return this endearment involves a considerable amount of manipulation. That is, your efforts could hardly be described as disinterested. As generous in spirit as your “giving” relational stance might appear, it yet includes a crucial contingency clause. Hopeful about enamoring yourself to your beloved, you’re essentially proposing a this-for-that, give-to-get, exchange. So even though to an outside observer your behavior might seem selfless or self-sacrificing, it’s actually an intuitive, and quite clever, way of “captivating” someone whose value you’re assessing as, well, invaluable.

The problem deeply embedded in all this is that whenever your love is fully reciprocated and you’re confident about the relationship’s permanence, you move beyond the courting phase to the commitment phase. And why should this presumably forward movement be so problematic? Simply because this is the time when you—and very likely your partner as well—righteously feel that what’s now called for is to be “compensated” for your earlier unselfish orientation. That is, it now feels as though your partner owes you something, that they should start making your needs, wants and wishes their first priority.

There’s a name for this, with which you’re doubtless familiar. It’s called the power struggle. And regrettably, it’s a stage in relational development that’s pretty much universal. Yet it’s a stage that (however arduously) can be “worked through”—though, it should be added, it can also last indefinitely, regardless of whether the couple actually stays together.

What I’d call mature love—the most “durable” kind of love, a fondness and affection that’s virtually guaranteed to triumph over all sorts of adversity—is the most enlightened stage of an intimate relationship. And your love can evolve into this final stage only if you and your partner succeed in developing the insights and skills to move beyond your earlier power struggle.

In contrast to competing with one another for the gratification of individual needs, this is a union where you and your partner have transcended your former “me-first” contrivances, so that your caring no longer has demanding strings attached to it. It’s become sincerely and authentically nurturant, honest, and real. At this stage, your partner’s wants and needs genuinely matter to you quite as much as your own. And, more than anything else, this much more “advanced” commitment is what truly enables the two of you to feel (almost moment-to-moment) each other’s love.

The relationship has grown into a two-sided, give-and-take “safe haven,” where earlier tensions between you have diffused or dissolved. In the best possible sense, you can comfortably count on each other and take one another for granted. Your partner’s empathic understanding, support, and compassion can now be “assumed.” These qualities could even be said to now define the relationship.

And this is a love that has little to do with giving your partner lavish gifts. Or over-the-top compliments. Or regularly deferring to their wishes or will. Nor does it have anything to do with taking undue responsibility for them (as in a kind of subservient codependency). No, it’s an affirmation of committed couplehood: a cherished “union” where your wants and needs are valued as much as your partner’s. Your desires—and your partner’s—are now “unified” or “tied together” in ways that at your relationship’s beginning would have been unimaginable.

Existing in such unison—distinct from any other, less intimate, relationship you may have had in the past—you’ve finally learned to think as a “we.” Without being enmeshed with or overly dependent upon each other, your very identity (as part of this mutually created “we”) has evolved into something new. In many ways, it now centers on your devotion to meeting your partner’s needs (as they, not you, define them) and willingly addressing these needs as though they were your own. In such a relationally enlightened state, pleasing your partner is no longer that dissimilar from pleasing yourself.

No longer do you see yourself as an autonomous “I,” which (despite your illusions) dominated your deliberations and decisions during courtship. And it’s exactly this transformation in how you regard yourself—as part of something bigger and in some ways more “vital” than your (ego-centered) self—that fosters the ever-strengthening security of your marital bond. Which, in consequence, has become more democratic and egalitarian.

You’re just not the same person you were prior to marriage. Nor, ideally, is your partner. For now, in the context of your intimate, mutually trusting “synthesis,” you stand confidently together as one. Yet your dependency on each other is basically healthy in that, precisely because both of you are fully, reliably “there” for one another, your need to lean on each other for support is greatly reduced. For now such support has already been established, or firmly “structured” into, the relationship. So you can comfortably be yourself—and a much stronger, self-reliant self at that. You know that whatever comes up, your partner will be in your corner . . . and you yourself are happy to be in theirs. Intermittent feelings of loneliness, which may have “afflicted” you earlier, are now a thing of the past.

And yes, there will always be certain divisions between you. But if you’ve come to see your partner’s needs as on a par with your own, these difference and disagreements will no longer put a wrench in your relationship. For you’ve learned the art of effecting workable concessions and compromises. You both show a readiness to adapt to—or cooperate with—each other’s preferences because you know your partner shares this willingness and grasps the “imperative” of such mutual accommodation.

"It's All About Love," Flickr, used with permission

If your union has made it to this final, most contented and fulfilling, stage, you’ve moved far beyond the non-reality-based dichotomy of “selfish vs. selfless.” Your relationship has now redefined, enlarged, or “stretched” your very self. Inevitable discrepancies in your and your partner’s needs now seem relatively minor. For in many respects their wants and wishes have become your own . . . and vice versa. More than anything else, this is what I’d refer to as the wondrous potential that exists when two people can live harmoniously as one. And paradoxically, they may each simultaneously become more of who they are individually, for their personal growth is no longer stifled by relational conflict.

In such an evolved union, you’ll find that compromise—the essence of all successful long-term relationships—comes more and more naturally. And it comes with an open heart. For your paramount desire is to maintain the hard-earned harmony that’s created such a mature, lasting, satisfying and fulfilling love in the first place.

Harvard Neurosurgeon Confirms The Afterlife Exists

This post by Steven Bancarz originally appeared in Spirit Science & Metaphysics on March 5, 2015.

Do we have a soul? Is there life after death?  The afterlife is something that has been experienced by countless people since recorded history who have returned to tell their tales, with the most noteworthy account experienced first-hand by Harvard trained brain neurosurgeon of 25 years, Dr. Eben Alexander.  This is not just another afterlife account that can be written off as a hallucination.  Before we look at exactly how his experience of the afterlife defies all scientific explanation, lets explore his account a little bit.

Before his experience, he did not believe existence of a non-physical spirit. Trained in western medical school and surrounded by medical colleagues who are deeply invested in the materialism view of the universe, he thought that the idea of a soul was outlandish.  Like most “skeptics”, he believed stories of the afterlife to be hallucinations or products of the human imagination.

Dr. Alexander changed his mind after he was in a coma for seven days caused by severe bacterial meningitis.  During his coma he experienced a vivid journey into what he knew to be the afterlife, visiting both heavenly and not so heavenly realms.

After returning to his body and experiencing a miraculous healing against all odds, and went on to write the NY Times #1 best selling book “Proof of Heaven.” What Dr. Alexander confirms is that our life here is just a test help our souls evolve and grow, and that the way we succeed in doing so is to proceed with love and compassion.  Here are just a few other notable points he made:

– The experience of the afterlife was so “real” and expansive that the experience of living as a human on Earth seemed like an artificial dream by comparison.

– The fabric of the afterlife was pure LOVE. Love dominated the afterlife to such a huge degree that the overall presence of evil was infinitesimally small. If you wish to know the Universe, know Love.

– In the afterlife, all communication was telepathic. There was no need for spoken words, nor even any separation between the self and everything else happening around you. All the questions you asked in your mind were immediately answered to you telepathically as well.

When asked what he wants everyone to know about the spiritual realm, he always answers saying that you are precious and infinitely loved more than you can possibly imagine. You are always safe. You are never alone. The unconditional and perfect Love of God neglects not one soul.

“Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional.

This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”

Now let’s talk credibility for a minute.  What makes this experience so much more significant than another NDE account? Eben’s neocortex was completely nonfunctional during the time of his coma do to his severe bacterial meningitis, so there is no scientific account for why he experienced this.  In fact, he gives refutations to 9 different possible scientific explanations for his experience in his book.

Exploring Naturalistic Explanations

Let’s take a look at 5 potential explanations he outlines in Appendix B of “Proof of Heaven”.  Some are of his explanations would make no sense to us as laymen untrained in neuroscientific terminology, so here are the most common explanations he refutes, all of which are taken verbatim from his book:

1. A primitive brainstem program to ease terminal pain and suffering (“evolutionary argument” – possibly as a remnant of feigned-death strategies from lower mammals?).  This did not explain the robust, richly interactive nature of the recollections.

2. The distorted recall of memories from deeper parts of the limbic system (for example, the lateral amygdala) that have enough overlying brain to be relatively protected from the meningitic inflammation, which occurs mainly at the brain’s surface.  This did not explain the robust, richly interactive nature of the recollections.

3. DMT dump.  DMT, a naturally occurring serotonin agonist causes vivid hallucinations and a dream-like state.  I am personally familiar with drug experiences related to serotonin agonist/antagonists (LSD) from my teen years in the early 70s.  I have had no personal experience with DMT but have seen patients under its influence.  The rich ultra-reality would still require fairly intact auditory and visual neocortex as target regions in which to generate such a rich audiovisual experience as I had in a coma.  Prolonged coma due to bacterial meningitis had badly damaged my neocortex, which is where all of the serotonin from the raphe nuclei in my brainstem (or DMT, a serotonin agonist) would have had effects on visual/auditory experiences.  But my cortex was off, and the DMT would have no place in the brain to act.

4. A reboot phenomenon – a random dump of bizarre dis-jointed memories due to old memories in the damaged neocortex, which might occur on restarting the cortex into consciousness after a prolonged system-wide failure, as in my diffuse meningitis.  Especially given the intricacies of my elaborate recollections, this seems most unlikely.

5. Unusual memory generation through an archaic visual pathway through the midbrain, prominently used in birds but only rarely identifiable in humans.  It can be demonstrated in humans who are cortically blind, due to occipital cortex.  It provided no clue as to the ultra-reality I witnessed and failed to explain the auditory-visual interleaving.

His NDE account stands as the most credible account of all time, and coming from his materialistic scientific background, we have good reason to believe that he really did have a vivid encounter with something beyond this world.

The Truth About Expectations

GOALS

This post by  originally appeared in Huffington Post on May 26, 2015. 

Not meeting expectations, high expectations, low expectations or anything in between, expectations can trip us up.

We hold onto what we expect, even if it’s not what we want because maybe going out on that limb of change is too scary. Staying the same feels safe. The unknown, not so much.

We tell ourselves, “this is how it is, and I don’t expect it to change.”

Expecting something better can sometimes seem not worth the effort because the idea of disappointment can feel tragic. This is where trust comes in. And if yours has eroded away because of past disappointments then trusting in what you don’t see may be an option that’s long gone.

In my personal life, there was a time when I attracted relationships that were not what I truly wanted. My belief system kept me expecting broken, unhealthy relationships, so that’s what I kept getting. It was like I was caught in a loop of bad choices and I didn’t know how to get out.

But after a while, the discomfort couldn’t be ignored any longer and I realized something that had been true all along — my expectations were all up to me. Every last one of them. This realization was a game changer.

Our expectations can deliver what we want, if we take charge of them.

Be clear about what you want.
 This takes courage, but wavering won’t serve you. Make a commitment to your true desire. That true desire that bubbles up from your heart.

Declare your expectation. Say it loud and don’t settle for something you know isn’t what you want. There’s just no use in settling.

Have patience, young grasshopper.
 Just to make sure you know what you want, you will be tested. Things that are almost good enough will show up. The contrast of knowing what you don’t want is helpful in staying true to what you do want. This is where patience comes in. Wait for it, it’s worth it.

Believe it will happen. Know it in your bones. This may take a while, because shifting beliefs isn’t an overnight job. You’ve got to remind yourself of it everyday. Reprogramming a lifetime of repetitive thoughts that have formed beliefs takes time!

Expect it to show up then get out of the way. Get on with being you. Waiting for something to happen before you can be at peace with who you are is like chasing a dangling carrot that happens to be attached to a stick that happens to be attached to a hat that you’re wearing. You’ll never catch up. Stop running and waiting for the next thing or person to bring you happiness. Your fulfillment has been right next to you waiting for you to step into it.

As for me, I wrote a list of what I wanted in a relationship, the feelings I wanted to have, and I didn’t settle. But I wasn’t unfulfilled until the relationship showed up, in fact I was having the time of my life. I expected it to happen, then got on with myself. I did things I had always wanted to do, embraced my creativity, owned my open heart and there wasn’t anything or any person that could keep me from savoring and enjoying my own life. My joy and self-acceptance were the ultimate trump cards.

And yes, I did get the relationship I wanted. And he’s probably going to read this, so know this — he’s not perfect. (Can’t have any inflated egos around here). But he is perfect for me. So are the friends I’ve manifested into my life, the situations and the job. They all teach me, expand my heart and keep me grounded in unconditional love.

I still fumble too, it’s just part of it. But by releasing the expectation and not settling for less, I keep an open awareness of the amazing things that are coming my way, which leaves room for very pleasant surprises.

Want what you want with your whole heart. Feel it. Know it. Squeeze it. Jump in head first and own it. Expect it. Then let it go and enjoy each breath that leads you to a new desire.

Flower and Vibrational Essences and Mind-Body Health

This post by Marcey Shapiro, MD, originally appeared on the American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) blog on 

Flower-Essence

Amazing doors open when we are aware that it is possible to communicate directly with the spirits of things. Flower and vibrational essences are one example of healing tools born of an expanded understanding of interrelatedness. Essences are vibrational impressions of a flower, leaf, gem, or other entity, stabilized in water and preserved with grape alcohol or another neutral medium. Essences have been used extensively in healing by various cultures as a form of spirit medicine. Essences were possibly important tools in ancient human societies such as those of Egypt and Sumeria, as well as in fabled societies like Atlantis and Lemuria of which there is no certain physical record.

More recently, Dr. Edward Bach reintroduced essences to the healing repertory. Bach was a successful London homeopath in the early twentieth century. Due to a crisis of faith in his work, he came to believe that even homeopathy did not address the spiritual roots of illness. Bach believed that illness was caused by “a contradiction between the purposes of the soul and the personality’s point of view.” He left his practice to become a wanderer in the countryside, communing intuitively with trees and plants and often sleeping outdoors. During this period, he gave away his services for free to those who requested them. Through communication with the natural world, he evolved the original thirty-eight Bach flower essences. These essences are made from typical plants of the British countryside in the early twentieth century.

Since that time many other essences have been made from native plants of other areas. The world of essences has expanded beyond flowers as well. There are falling leaf essences, gem elixirs, planetary and starlight essences, environmental and seasonal essences, animal essences, and more. Any aspect of nature can teach us about balance and harmony as we communicate with it and acknowledge its consciousness.

Vibrational tools are not necessary for healing, but for many people they are beneficial. They can help us to focus positively, giving attention to desired outcomes of well-being and greater harmony in various areas of our life. By focusing on what we intend, we gently release our resistance to and disbelief in the desired outcome. We inform our subconscious of our new directional heading.

I am well aware that discussion of the spirits within things moves us well out of the realm of conventional science. Materialist scientists might dismiss the benefits of flower essences as “just” a placebo effect. But that still begs the question of how to explain placebo effect? Placebos, in fact, are powerful medicines. Researchers refer to their effects as the “placebo problem.”