Brain and Behavior

Are You A Mystic? A Call To Participate In Mystics Anonymous

Traditional doctors say I'm a mystic.  I don't deny it. ~Bernie Siegel
On August 1 and 2, 2009 I had an extraordinary experience while sitting on a beach. It was as though I was having a low-grade seizure. I vibrated as if I were somehow a piano, guitar, or violin string being tuned to a tuning fork. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was by no means a joyous event. I couldn’t stop, not could I explain the quivering. I sat on the edge of the beach and watched the rhythmic waves of the ocean slap the shore.

I didn’t know exactly what was happening, but I knew it was extraordinary. I was hyperalert -- in awe -- being nudged into a type of anticipatory readiness.
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Friendship Day: Be the Friend You Would Like to Have

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me. ~ Henry Ford

In 1935, the U.S. Congress declared the first Sunday in August a holiday to honor friendship. This year it is Sunday, August 2nd.

To celebrate the occasion I wanted to honor my best friend, Joel Morgovsky. Yes, that’s us over the past 35 years — and he just had a birthday, a milestone at that. The observance gave me pause for thought about the length of our friendship and the love — there is no better word for it — for each other.

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Brain and Behavior

The Yes-And Rule and Confessions of a Wannabe Giver

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full -- Luke 6:38

When I read Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take, I was impressed by the simplicity and novelty of the idea. He contends that there are three types of people, givers, takers, and matchers. The givers that do the best find ways of giving that are gracious and not depleting, yet they don’t worry about getting something back from the source they gave to. They give with the full belief that their giving comes back to them, almost in a karmic fashion, through other channels.

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Brain and Behavior

Three Things that Help Children Succeed

A child today spends more than six hours a day in front of an electronic screen -- an average of nearly 45 hours a week. To put this in perspective, your child may be spending more time in front of screens than they would at a full-time job. In fact, they spend more time with electronic screens than they do in school, or engaged with any other activity except for sleep. Yet, screen time is even beginning to eclipse sleeptime.

A recent study found that the social demands that put adolescents in front of electronic screens are highest in the evenings -- particularly in front of computers and cell phones with their friends. This causes them to lose much-needed sleep. Teens who were more active in the evenings were not only at greater risk for insomnia or depression, but also for other anxiety-related disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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What Do Therapists Think About Before Your Session?

Ever wonder what your therapist is thinking about before he or she works with you? Are their thoughts focused on techniques? Are they reviewing your issues? Theirs? Is therapy more effective depending on these thoughts?

There is an intriguing research that points to better therapy outcome when the therapist thinks about something very specific: Your strengths.

Researcher Christopher Fluckiger has shown that resource priming -- contemplating a client’s strengths prior to conducting therapy -- results in the client responding with resource activation (using more of their strengths during the session).

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Anxiety and Panic

Why We Worry and What to Do About It

Don't believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won't. So, stop it.

- John Alonzo, 83, from the Cornell Legacy Project
I was at a New York City diner recently and overheard two young women talking. One was telling her friend how anxious she was about her classes and her job. She was worried that she wasn’t going to do well in her statistics course, and layoffs at work.

Her friend asked about her new boyfriend, her upcoming vacation, and the beautiful coat she’d received as a birthday present from her parents. Each good thing got a one-sentence response, and then the conversation slid right back into the anxieties about work and school. Each attempt at giving the good things a chance to flourish was met with a return to the topics of worry and concern.

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Brain and Behavior

3 Rules for a Positive Transformation

Things do not change; we change.
- Henry David Thoreau
At the core of positive psychology is the research on intentional activities. The effectiveness of deliberate positive interventions has created a platform from which many people are transforming their lives for the better. Purposeful, conscious activities -- such as committing acts of kindness, expressing gratitude, and reviewing the good things happening in your day -- have an additive effect. The more we do, the better we feel, and the more we seek intentional activities to supplement these good feelings.

Barbara Fredrickson, one of the leading researchers in the field, coined this progression "broaden and build." Intentional activities run the gamut: meditation, exercise, expressive writing, or the proverbial "count your blessings." Researchers and applied practitioners are constantly seeking new interventions to add to our emotional piggybank.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Are New Treatments for Depression Right Under Our Nose?

“The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.” - Edith Wharton
Yogic breathing, a phone app, and laughing gas may be some of the best new remedies for depression.

Some interesting pilot studies in 2014 are providing hope for the future of depression. Curiously, these new possibilities all involve the mouth and nose. Breathing a certain way, speaking a certain way, and inhaling nitrous oxide all may have potential in reducing symptoms and breaking the cycle of depression.

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Brain and Behavior

7 Habits of Highly Defective People

After you have known people for a while, you realize they are defective. They're cheap, crude, pushy, ignorant, loud, and unattractive. How did this happen? How did people who seemed so elegant and gregarious become the varmint-like creatures you want to avoid? What made them change into the dirty froth of humanity right before your eyes? Believe it or not, science has done some research on this phenomenon.

Highly defective people (HDP) have several common characteristics that reveal themselves over time. Their habits astound and mystify us. They might look different on the outside, but on the inside they are very much alike. They share common attributes that make them a kindred clan. One or two of these traits alone wouldn’t qualify them, but with a cluster of seven, you are in the presence of a HDP. In no particular order, here’s what to look for:

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Would Your Life Be Better if You Owned More Things?

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough. ~ Oprah Winfrey
Materialists are those who have a central life focus on acquiring more things. They often relate their happiness directly to their possessions while declaring these goods as both the main source of life satisfaction and a symbol of their success in life. The answer they give to the above question is a resounding “yes” -- More is always better for the materialist. But does accumulating stuff make them happy?
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Are Antidepressants Enough?

Zinc, exercise, Vitamin D and potential stress busters top the list of new possibilities to supplement the widespread use of antidepressant medicines. The latest research is welcome because antidepressants only work about half the time, and they often come with unwanted side effects, such as low libido, weight gain, and in some cases (believe it or not) depression.
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Brain and Behavior

True Colors: Research Sheds Light On Body Emotions

Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.
~ Pablo Picasso

There is a saying in bodywork that your “issues are in your tissues.”

Now there is some evidence to support this: New research reveals that various emotions, both positive and negative, are felt in different body areas.

A study published on Dec. 31, 2013 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that bodily sensations related to different emotions appear to be a universal phenomena. From an anxious lump in the throat or cold feet, to the excitement and warm feeling of a first kiss or a long hug, our bodies respond to our feelings with physiological fluctuations. While this information isn’t headline news, the fact that these researchers were able to find that this is a universal phenomenon is something of a breakthrough.

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