Saybrook University

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Research shows: the secret to lasting love is gratitude

02/25/2011

Love by Bohringer Friedrich We all want a relationship that works – but most of us, if we’re honest, admit we only have a limited idea how to do that.  

What makes relationships between committed couples and married partners work? What causes them to fail? It turns out there are answers, and one of them will surprise you.

In March, the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences will publish a study that looks at gratitude among married partners. A first of its kind, the research comes in the wake of studies that prove the positive effects of gratitude for the physical and psychological well-being of individuals. The couples research looks at fifty married couples of at least twenty years, and gathered specific data. A sneak peak of the research results suggest:  gratitude makes all the difference.

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"Dreaming" isn't just sleeping: it's problem solving, meaning making, and a key to health

02/24/2011

Nun's_dream_by_Karl_Briullov We spend a third of our lives sleeping – and if you’re not sleeping enough, you could be in trouble. The National Sleep Foundation compiled research that shows lack of sufficient qualitysleep is linked to:

But the thing we miss out on most is dreaming.  Dreaming gives our brains the time and the space to process our everyday experiences. That process in itself is beneficial.

Scientists at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently published research that supports this perspective. They found that while we are sleeping, our brains are happily working, undistracted by the day to day busyness. In the sleep state the brain has the opportunity to track, file and integrate all of the information that was gathered throughout the day with what we already have stored away. In that tracking the mind can find solutions to tasks that may have stumped us earlier in the day.

It’s as if our brains are working hard to organize our thoughts – and that’s beneficial for our waking lives.

Dream research is looking how we can be more active in our “learning” or “problem solving” while we’re sleeping.

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To help victims of disaster, we have to remember them

02/23/2011

Oil-spill It’s been nearly ten months since the largest oil spill in the history of the United States. For American media, it is a distant memory. For those that it affects, it is still an everyday horror story.

 On that dreadful day of April 10, 2010, oil spewed out into some of the worlds most precious and vital wildlife sanctuaries in the Golf Coast. Scientists estimate 18-39 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters over a series of months spreading over nearly 30,000 square miles.

Media attention has primarily focused on the immediate effects of the spill, the environmental travesty, and its effect on the American food supply.

This is significant. But the human toll of this travesty is unreported on, and far worse. 

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How well does your body know your mind?

02/22/2011

Bharata_natyam_dancer_medha_s The best way to understand what you’re feeling might be to ask what your body’s doing. 

Anyone who’s been paying attention to research knows there’s a connection between the mind and the body ... and anyone who’s been paying careful attention is at least a little aware on a visceral level of how that connection works.  The ability to observe the mind-body connection in action is called “emotional coherence.” The greater the level of emotional coherence the greater our ability is to notice the connection between a pounding heart and anger.  

Is it possible to improve our emotional coherence through specialized training?

In a 2010 study, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley investigated that question.  Their study included 21 Vipassana meditators, 21 dancers, and 21 individuals who did not practice any form of specialized body awareness practice. Participants watched four films that were designed to bring up a range of emotions. While they watched these films, there were then asked to monitor their own emotional experiences. They used a dial that had a rating scale ranging from very negative to very positive and completed a number of questionnaires. The researchers also monitored the participants heart rate with an EKG.

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In a crisis, most of us make things worse. Here's how not to ...

02/21/2011

Tao You’ve probably heard that the term “crisis” in Mandarin Chinese means both danger and opportunity. But how does that work, exactly?  How does a person change the next major crisis in their life and turn it into an opportunity to grow and thrive?

There is a dark omen around “crises,” and rightfully so.  It’s all too common for a crisis to lead to a domino effect and cascade:  the old adage suggests that bad things happen in three, and we all have stories. 

That’s because most people are surprisingly bad at keeping today’s crisis from snowballing into tomorrow’s.  All too often our urge to “problem solve” no matter what the cost is an over-reaction that only make matters worse. 

As Rollo May said, “It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way and we grasp more fiercely at research, statistics, technical aids…”

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Drug companies are waging Pharmacological Warfare on us – and what the FDA doesn’t know can kill you

02/18/2011

Assorted pharmaceuticals by LadyofProcrastination Recently the New York Times highlighted the story of a US soldier who returned home from war and then died from his healthcare.  It was tragic for him, and it happens all the time.

 

The soldier suffered from Multiple Pharmaceutical Toxicity – what happens when the multiple drugs prescribed by physicians interact in patients.  Many of these interactions have never been tested in clinical trials or regulated by the FDA.

 

There are no limits to the number of prescription medications one person can take. And therefore, as in the case of US Solider Anthony Mena, no limit to the pill combinations; thus the multiple synthetic chemical interactions of different medications are essentially tested on you and me. And, folks, it does not look good.

 

 

 

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Where you excercise can be as important as how much

02/17/2011

Outdoor exercising It’s tough for gym rats to get exercise outside right now, with most of the country buried in snow and ice.  But make no mistake:  getting non-industrialized in your lungs air can increase mental well-being. 

A collaboration of researchers supported by two health research organizations reviewed the outcomes from research trials and outdoor exercise initiatives. Data from 833 adults who participated in these studies indicate that exercising outdoors;

  • Improved mental well being
  • Was revitalizing and energizing
  • And increased positive engagement 

all the while decreasing

  • tension
  • confusion
  • anger
  • depression

Earlier research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that even spending a brief amount of time outdoors will have a positive effect on mental health. That brief amount of time is actually just five minutes. Five minutes outside of a cubicle will probably have a positive effect on anyone.

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Friends may really be the best medicine for depression

02/16/2011

The news has been hard on anti-depressants – calling them little better than placebos with side-effects.  So, if you’re depressed, what can help?

Find a group.

A new review of research on depression shows that a peer group can help reduce symptoms of depression with similar if not better results than cognitive behavior therapy and other traditional care methods.

Dr. Paul Pfeiffer, M.S., assistant profession of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, reviewed 10 randomized clinical trials from 1989-2009 of peer group based interventions for depression.

He found that getting the support of a peer group has been shown to decrease feelings of isolation and reduces stress. The great part is that in a group people are able to share information on healthy habits and their own personal stories of struggle and eventual success, improving their lives in multiple ways.

That’s just the beginning.  Other specific studies on the subject shows that peer groups can be helpful to many in their healing process.

For example:

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Study shows the poor benefit from love of country ... which the rich tend not to love quite so much

02/15/2011

Patriotic lights Do you love your country?  Does it matter?

A new survey shows that – depending on who you are and where you live – national pride can have a definite impact on happiness. 

Mike Morrison, Louis Tay and Ed Diener predicted that even when people fall into hard times, even when we don’t have enough money or food, they can find consolation in personal pride for their nations.

To find out they interviewed 132,516 individuals from 128 countries via telephone and in-person, who completed multiple surveys on life satisfaction, national satisfaction, domain (standard of living, personal health and job), residential mobility (are they planning on moving) and environmental variables (do you have electricity, telephone, television). All of these surveys were compiled to get a sense of an individuals’ Subjective Well Being (SWB).

They found that satisfaction with one’s country can a strong predictor for life satisfaction -- but only for some people

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Healthy advice: Just Breathe

02/14/2011

Resperatory system Inhale. Exhale. Pheww!

For you and me, this is an automatic experience.  Experts say, the average healthy adult breaths 9-14 breaths every minute. That’s every 4-5 seconds.

It turns out that if we make this routine process a little less routine, it can have life-giving and healing effects for cancer other physical and psychological aliments?

New research published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine proves that breathing and guided imagery have substantial benefits for stress management and post-surgery healing; especially for cancer patients. The research studied 159 men with cancer and found that a stress management program focused on proper breathing techniques and healing imagery resulted in stronger immune responses in recovery; measured by higher levels of cell function and circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, which directly affect the healing process after surgery and after cancer treatment.  

Dr. Jeffrey Rossman in the acclaimed Mind Body Mood Solution presents various breathing strategies that are empirically validated to help with chronic pain, psychiatric diagnoses, physical illness and overall wellness.

If you are presently healthy—or suffering from an illness, check out these breathing strategies and you very well might be on your way to a healthier tomorrow.

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