Friday, March 30, 2007

Reduce your cancer risk by 50%

Cancer is certainly a big source of stress for most of us who are aware that the daily exposure to pollutants and chemicals we must endure almost guarantees we will contract cancer at some time in our lives.

This is a video by Dr. Mercola of; you may review the text of this post at his How To Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer by 50% blog entry. This is wonderful information, empowering for anyone who wants to take back control of their health and wellbeing, proving again that simple is often better when it comes to holistic health and wellness.

Please enjoy the 5 and 1/2 minute video and take back your power!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The one thing that will get rid of stress

Could this be you?

"What is the one thing that will get rid of my stress?" someone asks.

I ask back, "What is the one thing that caused it?"

That usually prompts a litany that goes something like this: "Well, I've had to work late the past few weeks. Sally is out sick, so I'm covering some of her work. Plus, I have a new client; big project, big headaches, you know how it is. Little League started last week, so I have to rush home, pick up Jimmy and Bobby, grab dinner on the way over there. My husband Dan can't help as much as he used to because his company has him traveling a lot now, after his promotion. I noticed a water spot on the kitchen ceiling after that rain we had, I think there's a leak in the roof…I'll have to call someone on that when I have a second. Yeah, speaking of the kitchen, lately I've been experiencing a bit of heartburn…what's up with that? Oh, and our dog is at the vet…the neighbor's little boy bit him…cute kid, but a little strange; I don't think his parents pay enough attention to him……"

At first sight, you may think there are a lot of things causing this woman's stress although she is hopeful that one thing will cure it. You may even identify with a lot of her stressors if you are overwhelmed with work, family, house, dog, and other tasks.

There are a lot of ways to reduce stress in this situation: have another co-worker help with Sally's tasks; ask another Little League mom to take the boys and arrange to drop off her kids after the practice.

However, if this is you, and if you carefully read between the lines, you will see that there really is only one thing that causes stress: YOU. Your attitude and behavior determines whether you are stressed-out or stress-free.

Does the fictitious, overburdened worker-wife-mother reciting the litany of problems have a choice? Do you have a choice? Absolutely.

The thing you need to examine is your motivation.

What motivates you to live a stressed-out life? What motivates your attitude and behavior? Boiled down to the most basic components, it's a combination of three things: status, money, power: wanting them, getting them, keeping them.

I'm not implying any of these things is bad in and of itself, but if you really want to beat stress and not just complain about how it's ruining your life, you have to do it on an honest playing field.

Frankly, I think there are a lot of people out there who just want to complain about it. In fact, complaining about stress has become a status symbol; if you're not stressed out, there must be something wrong with you. Not only that, people moan and groan about how stressed-out they are, but use every excuse to reject every stress-reducing or stress-eliminating technique they read about because it's too hard, it's too easy, it takes too much time, it won't work for me (even though they have never tried it), it costs too much, it's too cheap so it must not be any good, I'm too busy to go to it…..and on and on. If you are one of those people, then God Bless You…you're going to need it.

To get back to motivation: if you truly want to reduce stress and achieve a stress-free lifestyle (yes, it really is possible!), you must be completely honest with yourself.

If, along with the money, status, or power, you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, Acid Reflux Disease, high cholesterol, insomnia, constant headaches, and (fill in the blank), you must feel disease and suffering is worth the status, money, and power.

That's fine, and I truly have no problem with it, but if that is what you have chosen, you must also realize that you can choose how you deal with the stress it can bring.

For the people who really do want to reduce stress, back to the original question: "What is the one thing that will get rid of your stress?"

Answer: YOU.

YOU are the best disease-preventative you have. YOU are the only thing that will get rid of your stress. It calls for making big changes in mind and emotion, attitude and behavior, to reconsider and revise the way you think and act.

A while ago I wrote about the Ecosystem of YOU. I want to emphasize again that YOU are a whole and holistic system (whether you treat yourself that way or not) of spirit, mind, emotion, and physical body. Whatever you do to one part of YOU affects every single other part of you, your whole person.

To get rid of your stress, take responsibility for yourself. Don't expect your employer, your doctor, you mother, your family to take care of you. They won't. They're too busy expecting you to take care of them. (If that wasn't true, you probably wouldn't be working late, paying for anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications, and rushing around like a headless chicken to get all the errands done.)

If you can't change your attitude or behavior, you must leave the circumstances that cause your stress, or get help in coping with them. Just as with any repetitive physical injury that returns if you continue the behavior that caused it, if you are suffering mental or emotional stress but remain in the circumstances that cause it, you may find temporary relief, but no lasting cure.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Invisible Garment - 30 Spiritual Principles That Weave the Fabric of Human Life

I've had the pleasure over the last couple of weeks to work with the audio-book version of The Invisible Garment by Connie Kaplan, a lovely tapestry woven of words and brief musical interludes to distinguish the source of various quotes throughout the book.

Connie teaches that your Invisible Garment is a metaphor for the twelve interwoven principles that you are born to embody in this lifetime. For me, it was refreshing to find another person who believes we are here not to learn a lesson or make up for past-life mistakes, but to BE who we were born to be. As we share our special talents, we affirm our membership in and contribute to the wholeness of the universal energetic consciousness and, as Connie says, the "tapestry of society." By talents I don't mean learned skills but rather spiritual traits like Generosity, Unity, and Harmony (three of the principles Connie teaches).

Connie was gifted with this information following the death of her father. She was visited by two light and spiritual beings who could only have been angels. She was asked by them to bring the Invisible Garment information into the physical world and to share it with anyone who asked. Over a period of months, the information was gifted to her through her dreams and meditations. Following that, she shared the information by doing Invisible Garment (or Soul Contract) readings with an ever-widening circle of family, friends, and others. For almost a decade, she compiled readings and tested the data before confidently sharing these deep and meaningful truths with an even wider audience through books and CDs.

There are thirty principles in all. All of them play a part in life, but based on the placement of the planets in your astrological chart, up to twelve principles have special meaning for you and play a prominent role throughout your lifetime. You determine your most active principles by examining your astrological chart, but your Invisible Garment is Not - repeat Not – an astrology reading. The astrological chart is used only for the numerical value of the placement of the planets, for example, Sun 14 degrees, Moon 09 degrees, and so on.

The best way for me to explain your Invisible Garment is to show you mine, so I will briefly take you through my own reading. Please understand this will be only a hint of the wonderful things you can learn through your own reading. To include all the information about each of the principles in my personal Invisible Garment would take many, many pages! (And, frankly, my transcription skills would not do it justice!)

You will need an accurate astrology chart. Mine comes from the ASTROLABE Free Astrology Chart page, an instant, online service.

Here are my principles. You may notice that I have only eleven in my list since the two planets Jupiter and Saturn, even though they are in different astrological signs, both have the degree number of 24 so they also share principle number twenty-four. Please note, we must let go of worldly meaning of these words; the spiritual meanings are quite different. Connie tells us, these "words don't define you, they point you toward your inner self." Your principles describe not what you are here to do, but what you are here to BE and to share.
Sun 14 - Ecstasy
Moon 09 - Awareness
Ascendant 02 - Purity
Mercury 15 - Resistance
Venus 10 - Reciprocity
Mars 25 - Desire
Jupiter 24 - Humility
Saturn 24 - Humility
Uranus 21 - Harmony
Neptune 22 - Dreaming
Pluto 23 - Randomness
Mid-Heaven 29 - Movement

Sun (The primary reason you came to live a human life)
14 Ecstasy
"Ecstasy is simply the divine flow of energy. It is energy or light flowing with absolute freedom to express itself and experience itself. The Principle of Ecstasy has the potential to be always new, awake, and creating the present. (It is "living in the present moment.") Ecstasy occurs when all the bodies - the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and energetic - are perfectly aligned so energy can express itself truthfully. The whole being is alive, alert, and awake to its reality. People whose charts include Ecstasy often find that slow, intentional physical movement gives them a strong sense of being present to the divine. Body prayer and other types of moving meditation are sources of ecstasy for these people."

[Michelle says: That certainly describes me! I love the gentle, flowing movement of qigong. Practicing qigong is when I feel most whole and at peace; it is definitely my portal into the presence of divine inspiration, as is labyrinth walking.]

Moon (Your mastery – your most reliable staff or plumb line; the gift you bring to the world)
09 Awareness
"Awakens life to a self-conscious perspective. …awakening is more than just an awakening of conscious attention, it is indeed a spiritual awakening to the vast possibility of oneness between the self and the divine. …because awareness does require one to experience both ends of a pole or both sides of a question, it's not always a comfortable principle. We do not generally like the idea that spiritual maturity may bring emotional or physical pain. Yet it is true that when we expand enough to encompass all of humanity, we encounter the suffering of humanity."
[Michelle says: Compassion is also mentioned within the principle of Awareness, and I strongly relate to that. I seek troubled people to help them overcome stress-related illness. I also practice Tonglen which is best described as a prayerful, energetic healing technique in which one concentrates on those in need of healing while inhaling their pain and illness, and sending out healing and compassion with the exhale breath. I digress, but if you would like to know more about Tonglen, please read Tonglen Healing]

[From this point on, I will give you just a pertinent sentence or two from each of the principles that are in the chart so that you can get an idea of the information that is in store for you when you do your own chart using the book. Please keep in mind, these are very brief; just a couple of drops from the proverbial ocean. You will receive much, much more valuable information from the book or CD!]

Personal Pillars – Your unique interface with the world.

Ascendant (Behavioral body – your personal ethic)
02 Purity
"Purity is the ability to recognize the essential nature of any form. It is the ability to distill any error that has been attached to a form whether the error is ideological, psychological, or physiological. Purity is the ability to liberate oneself from patterns of error that are present in perceptual reality and instead to experience the intent of cosmic order."

Mercury (Mental Body – how you process spiritual information)
15 Resistance
"Resistance is a friction that causes energy to experience itself, transform itself, and realign itself with greater purpose. You are inserting something that interrupts the flow of energy and allows a creative interfacing with form. You receive energy from the cosmos and transform it into appropriate messages and/or information for humanity."

Venus (Emotional Body – how you give dimension and meaning to life's experiences)
10 Reciprocity
"Reciprocity guarantees that what goes around, comes around. For example, let's say that you touch a tree, does that tree touch you as well? Yes, in a way, it does. There is a reciprocal relationship between you and that tree. Through reciprocity, humans consciously enter Oneness."

Mars (Physical Body – your relationship to your body)
25 Desire
"Spiritually defined, desire provides a never-ending call toward Home. Desire drives one…to be reunited with Creator. Desire as a spiritual principle is based on the integration of the interchange of Light. [One student said:] 'Desire changed me from longing to be loved, to longing to be Love.'"

Universal Pillars – Cosmic forces that give larger and less personal support to your life.
Jupiter (Universal Support – your personal safety net)
Saturn (Limitation Support – determines the way you perceive the realm of form)
24 Humility
"To be humble is to be authentically aware of the true nucleus of the essential self. It is arrogant to think yourself grander than you are. It is equally arrogant to think yourself less than you are. Humility has to do with lifting your own veils [that hide your Light] and telling the truth to yourself about yourself. Humility is letting go of our compulsion to prove we know more than we do."

Uranus (Support of authentic self – jolt-like reminders to be your real self)
21 Harmony
"People who are contracted with Harmony are the people who integrate the 'is not.' They work in the negative space of the piece of art that is life. They find worship in the sacred darkness because they know the power of the unseen work. This is not the dark of the psyche, but instead of the unseen realms, the Mystery, the black sun behind the sun, the spiritual foundation of all that is."

Neptune (Birth group support – connection to collective consciousness of all the people born during the months Neptune spends in one degree of the zodiac)
22 Dreaming
"Spiritually defined, dreaming is the ability to shift into non-ordinary states of consciousness. Dreaming is a direct encounter with energy in the dimension of Truth. It does not necessarily require being asleep to experience dreaming, it does however require a relationship with the Void, the sacred whirlpool of primordial energy."

Pluto (Ultimate victory over life – the way you go through darkness and return to the light; also, your archetypal energy)
23 Randomness
"Spiritually speaking, randomness occurs in that moment when all potential is present, and nothing is certain. I like to use the kaleidoscope as the metaphor for randomness. When you look through a kaleidoscope, you see a pattern. When you turn it slightly, everything is totally chaotic momentarily, and then another pattern crystallizes. That next pattern is something you can hardly believe was potential in the pattern before. The new pattern can have completely different colors, and completely different structuring."

Mid-Heaven (Your unique soul energy - how you are as an individual and how you have pledged to live your essence in this lifetime)
29 Movement
"Movement is actually the other end of Placement [the first principle]. When the zero principle [Placement] and the twenty-ninth principle [Movement] come together, the circle becomes whole. Movement is the force that keeps one going, that keeps one evolving. It constantly pulls one into potential and possibility. Movement is the aspect of form that magnetizes one toward the realization of highest potential. It is the force that animates the cosmos, and it drives every form toward its destiny."

It's me again – Michelle. Unfortunately I have to wrap this up – I wish I could continue…there is so much more I would like to share with you! – but before I close, I want to assure you that if you want or feel in need of guidance or affirmation of your spiritual path, I do believe that working with the principles in The Invisible Garment: 30 Spiritual Principles That Weave the Fabric of Human Life can help you to identify and fulfill your personal, spiritual purpose of BE-ing and (as goes hand-in-hand) of fulfilling your place in the universal Oneness.

The audio book, from which I wrote this review, is only available from: the e-shop at Generosity Incorporated.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spiritual beliefs can reduce stress and anxiety

Oftentimes, stress is not about the things that bury you in feelings of overload, anxiety, and depression. Stress is about your reaction to those things, how you deal with them. They can certainly pile up into what seems like insurmountable problems, but having a solid spiritual foundation can give you the added strength to cope with many headaches, dilemmas, and obstacles.

Anxiety and depression especially leave you feeling alone and uncared for. Even if you are not really alone, it is the nature of depression to leave you vulnerable to feeling alone. Loneliness makes anxiety worse, and increases the risk of heart disease and other illnesses.

A strong spiritual foundation can give you the support you need. Prayer or meditation can be the safety net that catches you when you are feeling most abandoned; it lets you know you are not alone. Simply performing the ritual of lighting a candle or burning incense can bring comfort, and help you to establish your feelings of connection to a being or place bigger than yourself, someone to help with the burden you feel. As the saying goes, "A burden shared is a burden lessened."

A spiritual practice you can wholeheartedly embrace, one that makes you stronger not diminishes you, one that works for you instead of making you work for it, is one of the best things you can do to step confidently on the path toward good health and wellness.

If you are feeling stressed-out and spiritually adrift, I want to help you. After spending several decades finding my own True Path, I formed a very solid spiritual foundation while gaining knowledge of many practices and cultures. I honor all spiritual paths.

No matter what religion you practice, I can help you explore the possibilities within your beliefs. If you don't currently have a spiritual practice, I can help you find the right direction to bring you comfort and safety. Please contact me at for a consultation.

Meanwhile, enjoy the article below, reprinted from HealthDay News, outlining the many ways a spiritual practice helps you toward optimal health and wellness.

Spirituality Can Soothe Body and Soul

By Serena Gordon

FRIDAY, April 7 2006 HealthDay News

-- To stay healthy, you probably know that you need to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest, and avoid bad habits such as smoking.

But, it might surprise you to learn that what you believe in can have a big impact on your health and longevity.

"There have been a lot of studies, and more are coming out all of the time, that show how patients with strong spirituality can improve their health from a variety of chronic conditions, like hypertension, heart disease, recovery from surgery and more," said Dr. Michael Torosian, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and co-author of the book, Spirit to Heal.

That doesn't necessarily mean you have to believe in God or regularly attend a church, synagogue or mosque to reap health benefits.

"Spirituality is where people find meaning in their life. It's something higher than themselves, though not necessarily attached to religion," said Patricia Megregian, a board-certified chaplain and executive director of the Integrative Medicine Initiative at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

"Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It could be God or Goddess, or nature. Some people feel it with a beautiful sunset. Some people get it from meditation. For some, it's from their community. It's a feeling that you're connected to something greater, something larger than myself. For some that comes from their family," she said.

Wherever your spirituality or a positive outlook on life comes from, research indicates there are real health benefits:

  • People with high levels of religious beliefs or spirituality have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone the body releases in response to stress.
  • Positive thinking produces nearly a 30 percent drop in perception of pain.
  • Spirituality and the practice of religion have recently been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Those who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who don't. Regular participation lowers mortality rate by about 12 percent a year.
  • People undergoing cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they have a strong faith.
  • Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.

What's not known is exactly how spirituality or a positive outlook can cause these changes. According to Torosian, there are two popular theories. The first is known as the relaxation response. When the body is relaxed, your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decreases the body's stress response. The other theory is that spirituality can affect immune-system function.

"Spirituality, faith, church attendance improves immune function in ways that can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells," he said.

"When it comes to health, when the body feels safe and is at ease, the nervous system is able to quiet and be more normal. Then the immune system is able to function better," said Megregian. "When the body is safe and feels safe, all of its other functions can help combat disease."

Not everyone is ready to endorse the notion of spirituality as medicine. U.S. researchers involved with the Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP), the largest review to examine the effects of prayer provided by others for a patient, evaluated the impact of such prayer on patients recovering from coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The results, released March 30, found that such "third-party" prayer had no impact on patient outcomes.

Megregian said it's important to not "wait till you're in the foxhole" to find your spirituality. She suggested doing whatever you can to increase your awareness of your spirituality by using what helps you, such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi [a from of qigong], walking in nature, or attending religious services.

Torosian agreed. "This is a free resource we all tend to take for granted until something major, like a heart attack, happens. But it should also be used to promote wellness."

He added, "As a surgeon, I see cancer patients all the time trying to deal with a devastating diagnosis. Those with a strong faith seem to do much better and handle it better. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery."

(SOURCES: Michael Torosian, M.D., clinical director of breast surgical research, and program director, surgical oncology fellowship, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, and co-author, Spirit to Heal; Patricia Megregian, M.Div., board-certified chaplain, executive director, Judith Nan Miller Integrative Medicine Initiative, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Eight Pieces Brocade – Baduanjin – qigong relieves physical and emotional stress

I know what you're looking for in stress relief…something that will make you happy and healthy! Something that is fast, easy, low cost, something you can use anywhere, anytime without fancy, expensive equipment.

Baduanjin qigong is your answer! Here's why.

The physical impact of emotional stress.

The emotions we usually associate with stress, anger, fear, worry, grief, all cause not only mental anxiety but muscular tension as well. We know this as "body language." A single glance at another person will usually tell you if that person is mad, sad, scared, or worried not only by facial expression, but by how the body is held – what parts of the body are tensed or contracted. Likewise, when you are feeling any of those emotions, your muscles react by tensing-up as well.

If you experience a short-term emotion that causes tension, your muscles return to normal fairly quickly. The damage occurs when you are frequently angry, fearful, or worried, or you experience these emotions over long periods of time as sometimes happens with grief over the loss of a loved one. Your muscles reflect that stress and remain tense.

Muscles have their own sort of memory. Every time you experience anger, fear, or sadness, or any other stressful emotion, your muscles react by becoming tight and compressed in the unique way you react to that emotion.

If anger makes you clench your fists, every time you become angry, your hand and arm muscles will respond by tightening. If sadness makes you curl up and breathe shallowly, when you are sad, your body language will show you hunched over. It doesn't have to be a dramatic change in posture. Some of these changes are very subtle and seem as though they would not cause a lot of damage.

However, over time, your mind becomes entrained in this reactive mind/body pattern and associates these physical postures and tensions with the emotions that caused them thereby evoking the emotions as well as stressing your muscles and restricting your energy flow and movement. These damaging tensions become automatic responses; like pedaling when you get onto a bicycle, you do it without thinking. For example, when your hand and arm tense, your muscles send the electrical signal to your brain that says, "Anger!" and your brain responds by evoking feelings of anger.

Eventually stress and tension become a severe problem and can cause other physical distortions as well as illness due to the nature of how you use your body. If one part of your body is injured or tense, you adapt your movement to work around the injured area to relieve tension and pain there. However, this puts more strain on other areas of the body. Say you sprained your hand but your job requires you to continually lift and carry moderately heavy items. You juggle these objects into position in the crook of your elbow, but that throws off the alignment of your shoulder and will eventually cause shoulder damage. The tensions caused by the automatic responses to stress can do the same thing but not just with muscles and the alignment of joints; it also adversely affects organs and body systems. This is why we see so many chronic health conditions which surgical or pharmaceutical medicine cannot cure.

Constantly tense muscles particularly afflict the function of the lymph system and the circulatory system, leaving you vulnerable to all sorts of debilitating conditions from arthritis to cancer. If toxins are not removed from your body, they collect and create illness. If nutrients are not carried to the cells in your body due to poor circulation, you become malnourished and experience illness. Muscular tension delivers that old "double-whammy" of allowing both these conditions to occur: the collection of toxins and the malnourishment of the body. This is certain to cause illness.

The physical relief of emotional stress

I'm sure you can already see what the cure is: move and stretch!

Practicing the movements and stretches offered in the Eight Pieces of Brocade qigong will break the cycle of tension and disease from this body/mind entrainment. You practice movements that relieve muscular tension which allows your muscular cells to forget the stress-memory that sent the message to your brain and evoked emotional tension. These stretches also restore function to your lymph system which requires movement to work properly, and tone the muscles needed for proper function of your circulatory system.

In Baduanjin, there is a movement called "Shaking the Body Wards off All Illnesses," and is practiced by gently bouncing without taking your feet off the floor. Bouncing activates your lymphatic system and helps to remove toxins from your body. Just like one of those watches that operate because you move it around, your lymph system depends on your movement to stimulate the pumping action of the glands so the lymph fluid can distribute fresh nutrients throughout your body and carry off waste products.

Lymph fluid surrounds most of the cells in your body. When you are at rest, it moves sluggishly, and cannot deliver nutrients or remove toxins as quickly as it should to keep you feeling energized and healthy. Leading a sedentary lifestyle amounts to surrounding your cells with old and stale lymph fluid, and would be like plunging yourself into a bathtub full of tepid, dirty water every day!

When you jump or bounce, your lymphatic system revs-up into high gear and gets the lymph fluid flowing at a rate that is ten to thirty times faster than when you are at rest. When not in this "overdrive" mode, your lymph system is stimulated to work through muscle tone, arterial pulsation, and even by self-massage.

Several of the Baduanjin qigong positions support the proper oxygenation of blood and the circulatory system, including one called "Supporting Heaven With Both Hands" which was the topic of a very early post to this blog, "Stand up and stretch!"

Many people who are physically ill or mentally exhausted cannot at first perform the exercises as they are presented. That is no reason to avoid them. In fact, the opposite is true. Even if you can't do the stretches as they are usually shown, do what you can (though never do anything that causes pain). Not only will it help a lot at first by making you more flexible, the benefits do radiate outward, and improve damaged areas like muscles and joints, as well as provide the opportunity for mental focus and relaxation.

The excerpt below is from page 156 of a book called Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis by James L Oschman. These two paragraphs offer the perfect explanation of how the Eight Pieces of Brocade can improve not only your body but relieve your mental stress as well.
"Just as strain in one are of the body affects the whole body, an improvement in flexibility in one area will have effects that radiate outward, particularly along the fascial 'trains' (muscular connective tissues)…. While a therapist may focus attention on a particular region that is stiff or inflexible or painful, beneficial effects can, and do, spread to other areas. Moreover, the modern bodyworker is aware that problems in areas too painful to be touched can nonetheless benefit from work done in nearby areas. The success of such approaches is due to tensional continuity, and to the fact that the living tensegrity system is a continuous semiconductor vibratory network. This can be demonstrated with a tensegrity model by plucking one of the tendons, which causes the entire network to vibrate.

"Since the tensegrity network is simultaneously a mechanical and a vibratory continuum, restrictions on one part have both structural and energetic consequences for the entire organism. Structural integrity and vibratory, or energetic, or informational integrity g hand in hand – one cannot influence the structural system without influencing the energetic/informational system, and vice versa."

Here is my own experience with Baduanjin and carpal tunnel syndrome: I type a lot. It used to be that I typed a lot on a keyboard sitting on a table that was too high, and my wrists took exception to that repetitive abuse by hurting…a Lot! I have a friend who is a massage therapist, and she helped my condition immensely. She massaged my back, shoulders, arms, at first avoiding the most painful areas of my hands and wrists. Improvement came after each massage treatment, and she was able to work closer and closer to the most painful, affected area. After a few weeks, my hands and wrists had improved to the point where she could actually massage the lower hand and wrist, thereby speeding my recovery.

In order to completely recover from a repetitive-stress injury, one must stop repeating the stress that caused it! I can't stop typing, but I've made sure my keyboard is at the right height, and I have proper support for my hands and wrists. Over the past year I have found that the stretches in the Eight Pieces of Brocade qigong keep my hands and wrists pain-free and stiffness-free, as well as help me maintain excellent physical health and stress-free wellness.

It doesn't matter who you are, where you are, or what physical shape you are in, the easy and gentle movements in the Eight Pieces of Brocade qigong are a great practice I very highly recommend. (You can even do them sitting down…they will still be very beneficial for you!)
There are two qigong books that contain instructions for Baduanjin, Eight Simple Qigong Exercises For Health - The 8 Pieces of Brocade and The Way of Energy: A Gaia Original

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Insomnia Relief: an interview with Dr Michael Breus

Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of

Following my review of his book Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health (DUTTON an imprint of Penguin Group Inc., New York, 2006, ISBN 0525949798, HC, 326 p.) Dr Breus kindly agreed to answer questions I had about the topic of sleep in education, a couple of children's sleep issues, and polyphasic sleep.

Hello, Dr. Breus. Thank you for joining us for this interview. I found your book to be absolutely fascinating!

1. On page 11 of your book, you tell us that "75 percent of us have symptoms of a sleep problem on a regular basis." That's a staggering number of people who are not getting their beauty sleep! What are your thoughts on including a unit about sleep in high-school health classes?

This is a great idea and one I would love to pursue. I wish I had the contacts. I would at the very least like to put a chapter or two on sleep in a Health book.

2. In chapter four you talk about the importance of making the bedroom an anxiety-free, sleep-only space. Since older students (6th through 12th grades, 11 to 17 year olds) often do their homework in their bedrooms, and homework can be a high-anxiety task, should the bedroom be a homework-free space as well?

Wow, my kids are so small I never thought of that (my kids are 5 and 3 ½). Now that you mention it I would say yes, they should have a quiet place to do their homework outside of the bedroom.

3. On page 256 I was very shocked to learn that "the number of kids ages ten to nineteen who take prescription sleep remedies jumped by 85 percent" between the years 2000 and 2004!

Isn't this an alarming trend?

This scares me for many reasons. First, that there are that many kids who are taking a sleep aid (prescription -- who knows how many kids are taking OTC’s like Tylenol PM.), and second, that there are that many docs who are willing to prescribe them at this age.

Why do so many children need prescription sleep medications?

I would think that they don't need them. In most cases these problems can be solved with behavioral methods, and quite honestly better parenting. But I can sympathize with some parents that getting kids to sleep can be both incredibly frustrating and sleep depriving.

What can we do to reduce those numbers?

Make parents aware of other solutions, non-pharmacologic and behavioral in nature.

4. We know that all five stages of sleep are important to help us feel better and look younger. I have often wondered, does the use of pharmaceutical sleep aids allow a person to experience all five sleep stages, or does drug-induced sleep cause people to miss important stages of the sleep cycle?

This was a factor in older sleep medication called the Benzodiazepines. These medications would knock you out into Stage 1 and 2 sleep but deprived you of stages 3, 4, and REM. The newer medications actually will maintain your current architecture (even if it is not so good). I am aware of no sleep aid that will actually increase deep sleep.

5. What is your opinion of polyphasic sleep, often referred to as the Uberman sleep schedule, in which a person naps 20 to 30 minutes every four hours throughout the day instead of sleeping several hours at one time? Have any studies been done on this to prove or disprove that people who practice this type of sleep skip most of the sleep stages and go directly (or almost directly) to REM sleep as some people have speculated?

I actually posted on his blog about the technique. There are pros and cons to it. It will not hurt you per se, but as he noted it had some significant drawbacks.

First, you are awake when no one else is, and there is just so much internet surfing you really can do.

Next, you cannot go out for more than about 2.5 hours -- so it is really hard to get much done.

Many people have reported that they feel less refreshed after polyphasic sleep, but there is not a lot of data on it as of yet.

As for actual sleep stages, what we see is that it is quite hard for the body to throw itself into any particular stages unless it is sleep deprived.

6. In closing, is there anything you would particularly like to say to today's readers?

Sweet Dreams!

Thanks again for being with us today!

I am delighted to have this book in my toolkit to recommend to stress-management clients as well as to other holistic practitioners. You can learn more about Dr. Breus and his book Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, by visiting his website . You will find many articles about a variety of sleep problems, and you may also subscribe to his free "Sleep eNewzzzletter!" Don't forget to visit "The Insomnia Blog" where you may find not only great posts to read, but you can listen to several podcasts of Dr. Breus sharing his expertise in order to help you to overcome your sleep problems!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Are you obsessed with time? (Most common English words)

This is just a fun news story, but reading between the lines it shows why people are so stressed-out these days: they don't think of resting, playing, relaxing!

You know that where you put your attention is where your energy goes, too. If you spend most of your time and energy worrying about the negatives of life, you don't take any positive steps toward stress and anxiety relief. What's worse is that you add stress and anxiety to the list of things to worry about!

The words people use most often must obviously be the subjects of most converstaions, otherwise they wouldn't be the most-used words! They are also a snapshot of a person's thoughts, activities and lifestyle.

This article on the most common nouns can be an eye-opener into needed changes leading to a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle. Here is what everyone is talking about:

The most common nouns used in the English language

June 26, 2006

LONDON (AFP) - A new list of the most common nouns in the English language published in the latest Oxford dictionary reveals that English speakers are obsessed with time, Oxford University Press (OUP) researchers said.

The word "time" topped the list, with "year" in third place and "day" in fifth position and "week" at 17th.

"Person" reached number two on the list but men are still on top, with "man" ranking at number seven, "child" at 12 and "woman" trailing at 14. "Work" appears at number 16, while "rest" and "play" are nowhere to be seen in the top 100. "Money" appears not to be as important as people might think, weighing in at number 65, although researchers thought this could be due to the multitude of other related words such as "cash".

English speakers talk about "war", 49th, far more than "peace", which does not even feature in the top 100.

The common nouns section appears in the revised eleventh edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, considered as the definitive guide to the evolving language. The dictionary's content is taken from the Oxford English Corpus, which contains a billion words.

OUP project manager Angus Stevenson said the frequency with which words such as "time" and "man" occur could be down to the love of phrases in English such as "I would not even pass the time of day with him", and "time waits for no man".

"The thing that struck me when I put together this list was that 90 percent of the top 100 words were one syllable," Stevenson said.

"A large proportion were actually from Old English, meaning the basic words we use all the time in basic sentences are from before the Norman Conquest.

"We always put the focus on new words, changing language and words from other countries, but in reality the basic language we use has been the same for hundreds and hundreds of years."

OUP researchers used the Internet as a guide to everyday English usage, examining online newspapers, weblogs, bulletin boards and fiction.

While the 100 most common words were the usual suspects -- "the", "be", "to" and "of" -- researchers found that looking at the most common nouns provided a more interesting snapshot of the English language.

The 10 most common nouns:
1. Time
2. Person
3. Year
4. Way
5. Day
6. Thing
7. Man
8. World
9. Life
10. Hand