Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Very Scary Statistics

[At the end of this post you will see a link to the documentary movie "Prescription for Disaster," " an in-depth investigation into the symbiotic relationships between the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, lobbyists, lawmakers, medical schools, and researchers, and the impact this has on American consumers and their health care. … Further, the film looks at alternatives to traditional pharmacology and drug therapy, such as vitamins and nutritional supplements, and why they are often perceived as a competitive threat to the drug manufacturers." Watch the movie….I promise it will be scarier than any other horror or Halloween movie you watch today!]

I'm not into manipulation by fear, but if health care continues on its current course in the United States, statistically speaking:

One out of two – one-half! – of the men in the United States will have an issue with cancer.

Since [1998], more than 750,000 physicians have prescribed Viagra to more than 23 million men in the US. And the number of men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction has risen 250%. The trend expanded further in 2003, when the FDA approved two closely related drugs, vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis).

One out of three – one third! – of the women in the United States will have an issue with cancer.

One out of two – one half! – of the women in the United States may suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis.

People aged 50 and older who took antidepressants, including Zoloft, Prozac and other top-sellers, faced double the risk of broken bones during five years of follow-up, compared with those who didn't use the drugs, the [Canadian] study found.

1 in 150 children will be diagnosed as autistic.

From 1994- 2005 the U.S. population increased 9% while the number of prescriptions increased 71%.

The average U.S. resident had 12.3 prescriptions in 2005

12% of the people in the United States from the ages of 20 to 44 are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

12% of the people in the United States from the ages of 20 to 44 are taking blood pressure lowering drugs.

Prices for nearly 200 of the most commonly used brand-name drugs by Americans age 50 and older rose by 3.9 percent during the first quarter of 2006 -- triple the rate of inflation -- a new AARP report found.

The most stunning statistic, however, showed the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine at an astounding 783,936 per year -- making it evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. By contrast, the number of deaths attributable to heart disease in 2001 was 699,697, while the number of deaths attributable to cancer was 553,251.2 (

Anyone at any age can be depressed. Even 2 and 3–year–olds can be depressed. One to 2% of children aged 5 to 11 are diagnosed with depression and that number jumps to 8% for 12 to 18–year–olds. Although equal numbers of school-age boys and girls are affected, by adolescence females are more likely to suffer from depression. Depression can coexist with a variety of other disorders; for example, over 50% of children diagnosed with a major depressive disorder will also have an anxiety disorder.


Last year [2006], doctors prescribed these medications [anti-depressants] to 207,000 children ages 6 to 12, and to 702,000 patients ages 13 to 18, according to IMS America, a health information company in Pennsylvania. Eli Lilly, the Indiana company that manufactures Prozac, reports that in the 11 years since the medicine hit pharmacy shelves, 31 million people worldwide -- 22 million in the United States—have taken the drug.

Until the early 1980s, depression was not recognized as a diagnosable illness in children and teen-agers; many mental health professionals thought children lacked the emotional maturity to become depressed. Now it’s considered a common and serious childhood illness, affecting as many as one in four youngsters by the time they finish high school. [October 2007]

[Yup, 25% of the children in the United States may be diagnosed as depressed by age 18.]


A new study has found, in less than a decade, a 40 fold increase in the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder at their doctor's office. The increase goes along with a steep rise in use of antipsychotic medication in kids. [Seattle News, October 2007]


Ritalin Facts:

Taken from "Talking Back to Ritalin" by Peter Breggin, M.D. (2001)

"In 1990, 900,000 American kids were on Ritalin. Today some estimate the total number of children on Ritalin has increased to 4 - 5 million or more per year."

The International Narcotics Control Board (1995) deplores that "10 to 12 percent of all boys between the ages 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD and are being treated with methylphenidate (Ritalin)."

"America now uses 90% of the world's Ritalin - more than five times the rest of the world combined."


Michelle here......

I have just one question: Why isn't anyone asking: Why is this happening?

Perhaps we already have the answer, but it costs too much to clean up the air, water, soil, food, etc.

I have one more question: Why isn't anyone Demanding a Stop to this Insanity?

If treatment is required, holistic methods of healthcare are so much better for you, and should always be the first course of treatment. You may not need the others if you Go Holistic.


Click to watch 1 hour 33 minute free movie: "Prescription For Disaster"

"This documentary takes you on a journey through the tangled web of big business, the way disease is treated today, and the consequences we suffer as a society."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Women, Stress, and Community

When I searched for a great picture to include with this article on women, stress, and community, the first two pictures I found of people talking over a fence were of two men, and the drawings were called "Neighbors talking over fence" and "Neighbors Helping Neighbors."

That was cool, but of the first twenty – yes, Twenty!! – pictures I found of women talking over a fence, all but one included the word "gossip." Thank goodness I found two great photos.

It's rather disappointing to see that the ole' double standard is still so actively alive and kicking. But, it sure proves my point: so many people mock the stereotypical 'women gossiping over the fence' that they don't realize just what it really meant and just how much emotional and moral support women really lost when the back-fence network disappeared from women's lives and lifestyles.

From the medieval blacksmith shop to the modern boardroom, a man's community has always been his work. That, and the pub or bar, is where men socialize, bond, discuss problems and solutions, all with the backdrop of the competitive male spirit. That is perfect for men; it's exactly the type of community-building socialization they need.

Before the advent of clothes dryers that allow a woman to complete all her laundry tasks indoors, and mega-grocery stores on every corner, and day-care, a woman built that same type of community over the back fence with her neighbors while she was outside hanging laundry, gardening, or tending her young children at play.

Far from being gossip sessions, these back-fence connections were community-building support networks. They offered everything from medical advice to parenting advice to marriage counseling to grief counseling; a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to watch your kids in an emergency. And, it was all reciprocal; you were there for your neighbors as much as they were there for you.

No wonder so many women are depressed and stressed out today. Their entire support network has been abolished in one generation, replaced by the clothes dryer and the grocery store. Now women can go out into the world and be productive while they socialize just like men! However, for women, the office or pub environment is not the same as the back-fence network.

For one thing, no matter how friendly she is with co-workers, the job site is a competitive environment, not nurturing. It isn't supposed to be nurturing, but lack of the right kind of social network leaves a very big hole in a woman's life. She can't go down to the pub and find the support network for the type of bonding women need, nor can she find there the opportunity to "tend and befriend" that women need when stressed. (See my previous article "Being With Friends Helps Keep You Healthy")

Today, experts talk about our men being sensitive and supportive, expecting them to fill the gap that most women don't even know has opened. But, let's face it, for the most part, all that tending and befriending is just not in the male nature. That's probably a good thing, otherwise all that predatory hunting in the jungle (urban or otherwise) would be tough on the male soul.

No doubt it's stressful for men when women try to stuff them into the costume of the grandmotherly or motherly neighbor. It just doesn’t fit….rarely can you replace the back-fence network with your Significant Other no matter how great he is.

To compensate, women have tried to replace this social network with fitness classes, book clubs, and volunteer work, among other things. While all that is great for the body, mind, and soul, it doesn't fulfill the need for the back-fence network. For one thing, most of those activities are specific to only one area of life, they aren't opportunities for the same sort of spontaneous conversation a woman can have in the safety of her own back yard.

There are some places where back-fence network is still healthy. My present neighborhood happens to be one of them for which I'm very thankful.

If the health of the back-fence network is at risk in your area, do something to save it! Find a way – any way you can – to get the ladies in your neighborhood together. Please don't think this is silly or frivolous. It isn't any more silly or frivolous than men's Power Lunches or Poker Night. You owe it to your health and your sanity to keep this women's community tradition alive.

Schedule a get-together for the ladies on your floor or in your apartment building or in your neighborhood once a month. Invite everyone regardless of age or social status. A community should be diverse. (I held a retreat at my home a week ago and invited women from all walks of life. The age range was 30 to 75. It was fantastic….everyone found some way to connect with everyone else, and that is what it is all about!)

If an invited lady consistently doesn't show up, don't assume she isn't interested. She may be shy, or nervous, or feel unwanted. Don't let anyone feel unwanted…..that is not what the back-fence network is about. It's about support and connection and community.

Whether your back fence is real or metaphorical, if you take the time to build the back-fence network in your community, it will reward you a hundred times over, more than any job or class or meeting ever could.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Seven things about me

Seems I've been tagged by my friend Geraldine over at Veggies, Crafts, and Tails!

Sooooooo, let's things about me........

1. I love astronomy.

2. I was born on a Labor Day and also gave birth on a Labor Day.

3. I love science fiction and have been reading it since age 12.

4. Related to 3, one of my most prized possessions is a first edition of Isaac Asimov's first published novel Pebble In the Sky.

5. (Before moving to the northwest) I earned several ribbons for crochet and embroidery at the New York State Fair.

6. I'm tone deaf and can't sing to save my life.

7. I've lived in four houses in my life, and each of the house numbers, if you keep adding the numbers together until you get a single digit, reduce to 4: 211, 229, 715, and 1660. (i.e. 2+1+1=4; 2+2+9=13, 1+3=4; etc.)

Update.... elaborating on Number 5, since you asked.... :-)

I can't remember what year these were.....different years, I think, back in the 1980's.

The Camelot Pillow is counted cross-stitch on 18 ct. fabric (trees and bushes are French knots). The design is 174 X 107, and I made my own chart from a picture in a book on castles. I earned a Third Prize ribbon for that one.

The crochet lighthouse is just something I was fooling around with one day - no pattern, just "off the cuff" as it were, and I mounted it to a flat rock using a hot-glue gun. It's a little hard to see, but there is a little brown boat on the rock (left of center) that is also crochet. This piece earned an Honorable Mention.

Last but certainly not least, "Lord of the Rings" fans may recognize this from The Hobbit. It's a traditional embroidery of the doorway to Moria. This one earned a Fourth Prize ribbon.

(The final ribbon-winning embroidery winner is no longer in my posession, but it also was Hobbit-related. It was from a Tolkien calendar, and was Gandalf at the doorway to Moria which I did for a friend. I think it got a Third Prize, too.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top 10 Stress Relief Strategies From Your Inner Child

[Today's article is a reprint from I have added a few comments enclosed in [ ] brackets.]

From Your Guide, Elizabeth Scott Created: June 21, 2007 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans, M.D.

As kids, certain stress relief strategies came naturally. As adults, however, we may have forgotten how to relieve stress, and find ourselves consumed by it. Looking for new stress relief strategies, you may want to look back to the 'good old days' when you knew how to relax. Read about the adult stress relief strategies related to our old childhood pastimes, and click on the links for more information on how to incorporate them into your lifestyle today.

1. Daydreaming

As a child, most of us spent time just making up stories in our heads. Day-dreams about fun times, being the best at something, or just lying in a beautiful field are all things most kids know how to create, and do so naturally. Your inner child can keep that creativity alive while reducing stress, increasing wellness, and creating inner peace with guided imagery and visualizations, both proven methods that can easily be part of just about anyone’s stress management bag of tricks.

2. Naps

As a small child, you either loved them or hated them, but chances are, you took naps. Sadly, many adults associate napping with laziness or lack of drive. However, curling up in a comfortable chair or even lying your head down on your desk for a quick snooze brings relaxation as well as increased productivity and health benefits. Not everybody can fit it into their lifestyle, but if you can find a way, working a nap into your schedule really pays off. Your inner child will thank you.

[Michelle adds: Many corporations are on-board with the recent research into the increased productivity benefit of naps and offer lounges with cots or comfy chairs where employees can catch a few zzzz's. If your company doesn't offer this, drop a note into the Suggestion Box. A smart employer will implement the suggestion and thank you!]

3. Getting Hugs from Loved Ones

Most likely at some point in your childhood, when you faced stressful times, a hug from Mommy (or another loved one) was enough to make it better, or at least help you feel safer and calmer. Sometimes we forget the power of touch and social support as adults. Next time you’re facing hard times, don’t forget to get emotional support from friends.

4. Playing with Pets

When kids play with animals, you can see the pure love and affection that they share. If you had a pet as a child, you probably remember that animal as a buddy, whether it was a hamster, dog or horse. But as adults we sometimes forget to connect with our animal friends. Pets have been shown to reduce blood pressure better than medication, increase healthy lifestyle behaviors, and sometimes give better social support than humans! Let your furry friends help make your inner child happy again.

5. Singing

As kids, we sung tons of songs, from The Itsy-Bitsy Spider to whatever was on the radio, with little self-consciousness. But how often do you sing as an adult, or even hum or whistle? See if you can get more music in your life and express yourself loudly, quietly, publicly or only in the shower. Don’t worry about being on key, just enjoy yourself. Singing can be a beautiful, fast, cathartic and free stress reliever that just about anyone can enjoy.

[Michelle adds: Absolutely true, though as one who is tone-deaf and can't sing on key to save my life, I usually sing only when at home alone. Another great thing about singing is that it often leads to that other great stress-reducing activity….dancing!]

6. Playing Games

As kids, we always played games. From Chutes and Ladders and Twister to Clue and Go Fish, we knew how to have fun. As adults, we may find ourselves too busy to play games, but don’t underestimate the stress-relieving benefits of a quick game of Boggle or other fun games. And now that you’ve grown up, your inner child can play these games right on your computer!

[Michelle adds: Sudoku…..I am totally hooked on sudoku and play a couple (or more!) games a day. Here is a website that offers free, online puzzles in a variety of difficulty levels. Enjoy!]

7. Drawing, Painting, Sculpting

Just about everyone drew pictures as a kid. However, expressing what’s inside with crayons, pencils or finger paints shouldn’t just be a pastime of kids and a lucky few adults who become professional artists. Whether you doodle with pens while you take a break at work, or buy some artist supplies and go wild in your spare time, working art into your life can help you process emotions, express yourself, relieve stress, and leave you with something to frame, or at least hang on the fridge.

[Michelle adds: if, like me, even your stick figures look weird, there are still artistic options to be enjoyed. I enjoy mandala coloring for one, and have dabbled in Chinese brush painting, both very relaxing pursuits. Also, "art" can extent to other creative endeavors like poetry and creative writing, or craft projects. Just have fun with it!]

8. Writing Notes

As we got older, some of us kept diaries, and we probably all enjoyed writing notes to our friends. These are still good stress management techniques to practice as adults. The health and stress management benefits of journaling have been demonstrated by research, and you can journal about your emotions, record your dreams, or keep a gratitude journal. And if you want to write notes to friends again, you can visit the forum, connect with others, and share your thoughts.

[Michelle adds: Another great way to share your thoughts and opinions via the written word is through email lists. You can easily find a list to join with people who share your tastes and topics by visiting Yahoo!Groups or Google Groups Do be careful though; not all groups are created equal and problems can crop up. I suggest you create a free Yahoo! or Google email address to use when subscribing to email groups. If a particular group doesn't work for you or problems arise, you can always leave and try another.]

9. Team Sports

We all remember sports teams as kids. Whether it was tee-ball, soccer, dodge ball or hide-and-seek, playing active games in a group has some great benefits for kids. As an adult, physical games can offer the health and stress management benefits of exercise, and the group involvement can ensure that you’ll keep at it. You can join an adult softball league, play racket ball at your gym, or enjoy other games that are available in your community. Let your inner child come out and play!

[Michelle adds: If you aren't up to the level of activity suggested by these sports, go for something less vigorous but just as good: join a martial arts or qigong class, join (or start your own!) walking or hiking group, participate in a swim aerobics class in your area. These choices satisfy the need for both exercise and social interaction, and they're fun!]

10. Imagining The Future

Do you remember your answers when asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And, how are you spending your time now? If you have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to sometimes revisit the question. Are you really doing what you feel you were meant to do? Ask yourself what your ideal life would look like, and then take steps toward that ideal. A good start would be to take the 10-week free e-course on Living a Low-Stress Healthy Lifestyle, and go from there.

[There are two other very beneficial things to do, too. They aren't free, but if you are stressed out, you may need the input of a professional. Consult a Life Coach to help you get on track with where you want to go in life, or visit a Stress Management Consultant like me, someone who has studied and understands the underlying causes of stress and what to do about them. My online or in-person consultations help you recognize all the areas of stress in your life – many can be hidden or unidentified – and help you find ways to relieve stress holistically while creating the happy and healthy life you imagined! Contact me at]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Eight Pieces Brocade (Baduanjin) and Eight Healing Sounds Qigong Research Updates

Here are some interesting research updates I found in the past issues of Qi Dao newsletter.

Although I am teaching the Eight Healing Sounds, I imagine the results would be similar to those of the Six Word Practice which is also a healing-sound qigong.

Two of the research reports are on Baduanjin (Eight Pieces of Brocade), one is on healing sounds, and one is about the benefits of mental relaxation and slow, regulated breathing.

If you have a chronic health condition that isn't getting any better, I hope you will find the nearest qigong class and jump-start your self-healing capabilities! Practicing with like-minded people is very beneficial to your health, too! (See my earlier article on Qigong Group Practice.)

Without further ado, here are the excerpts from the Qi Dao newsletters:

July 2006
Six-Word-Practice is a unique method of Qigong as people make sounds in the practice. Compared with Standing Posture Qigong, the number of heartbeats will increase when making sounds. The figures show that making sounds are closely related with abdominal respiration. Potential value of R point in cardiogram has not apparent changes when people keep still. However, the value increases significantly with sounds in practice of Six-Word-Practice. Blood flow through neck artery increases with making sounds. The flow of blood is not corresponding to the strength of sound. Increase of blood flow is not very significant for "He". The third word "Hu" is not stronger than "He", but the increase of blood flow is much higher. For "Chui", both the sound and the increase of blood flow are high.
Additionally, the maximum blood pressure in practice of Six-Word-Practice is over 160 mmHg, higher than that of Standing Posture Qigong. Although the maximum blood pressure is higher than that of Standing Posture Qigong, the duration of increase of blood pressure in shorter, which will not bring addition load for aged people. The examination of Six-Word-Practice shows shat oxygen density in blood of end blood vessels keeps decreasing. The decreasing happens in practice of "Chui" and "Xi", showing that the load is much higher in the short time. Cycle change of respiration is synchronized with cycle change of oxygen density in blood of end blood vessels, meaning that level of practice may reflect the coordination level of inner respiration and outer respiration.

The Effect of Baduanjin to the Function of Human Cardio-Vascular -- Li Yuhuan, Li Dongjun, Zhang Haibo, Hou Beichen (Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion , Beijing University of Chinese Medicine
We recruited some college students and trained them to practice Baduanjin. Then we monitored systematically six kinds of physical indications. They were blood pressure, electrocardiogram, pulse pressure, degree of oxygen saturation of blood, temperature of the limbs ending skin, the delaying time between heart beat and pulse, and do some contrast experiments, using multi-parameters recording device. At last, we got the data that Baduanjin could improve the body's cardio-vascular function and discuss its effect to the human's cardio-vascular function made by practicing Baduanjin. The result has showed that after 10 weeks' concentrative training, there were some effects to the students in the experimental group, such as the electrocardiogram, the degree of blood oxygen saturation, the temperature of the ending skin, the delaying time from the heart beat to pulse. Statistical significance could be found in these data (P<0 .05="">

August/September 2006
Effects of mental relaxation and slow breathing in essential hypertension. Kaushik RM, Kaushik R, Mahajan SK, Rajesh V. (Department of Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami Rama Nagar, P.O. Doiwala, Dehradun 248140, Uttaranchal, India), Complement Ther Med. 2006 Jun;14(2):120-6.
OBJECTIVES: To compare mental relaxation and slow breathing as adjunctive treatment in patients of essential hypertension by observing their effects on blood pressure and other autonomic parameters like heart rate, respiratory rate, peripheral skin temperature, electromyographic activity of the frontalis muscle and skin conductance.
METHODS: One hundred patients of essential hypertension either receiving antihypertensive drugs or unmedicated were selected randomly. Various parameters were recorded during the resting state and then during mental relaxation and slow breathing for 10 min each, separated by a quiet period of 15 min. All parameters were recorded again after mental relaxation and slow breathing. Changes in various parameters observed after mental relaxation and slow breathing were analyzed and compared. RESULTS: Both mental relaxation and slow breathing resulted in a fall in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and electromyographic activity with increase in peripheral skin temperature and skin conductance. Slow breathing caused a significantly higher fall in heart rate (p<0 .05="">0.2) observed with both the modalities.
CONCLUSIONS: Even a single session of mental relaxation or slow breathing can result in a temporary fall in blood pressure. Both the modalities increase the parasympathetic tone but have effects of different intensity on different autonomic parameters.

November/December 2006
The effects of baduanjin qigong in the prevention of bone loss for middle-aged women. Chen HH, Yeh ML, Lee FY., (American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2006;34 (5):741-7.)
Abstract: This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a 12-week Baduanjin qigong training program in preventing bone loss for middle-aged women. An experimental design was adopted, and subjects were assigned randomly into an experimental group (n = 44) and a control group (n = 43). The experimental group received a 12-week Baduanjin qigong training program, whereas the control group did not. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured before and after the intervention. The results showed significant differences in IL-6 (t = -5.19, p < t =" 1.99," p =" 0.049)">
In conclusion, this study demonstrates promising efficacy of Baduanjin in preventing bone loss commonly occurring in middle-aged women. Thus, Baduanjin is valuable for promoting and maintaining the health status of middle-aged women.

January/February 2007
Qigong exercise with concentration predicts increased health. Jouper J, Hassmen P, Johansson M. Am J Chin Med. 2006; 34(6):949-57
Regular physical activity has many positive health effects. Despite this, approximately 50% of all adults are not exercising enough to enjoy better health and may, therefore, need an alternative to vigorous physical exercise.
Qigong offers a gentle way to exercise the body. A questionnaire sample of 253 participants was collected and correlations with the variable health-now were analyzed. Results showed that health-now was positively correlated with number of completed qigong courses (p <>

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ten Secrets For Better Breathing

Many times you will read about the importance of breathing correctly, how it is necessary to properly oxygenate your blood and expel carbon-dioxide from your body, but not too many people clue you in as to how to do that. Dennis Lewis, creator of Authentic Breathing Resources LLC, has made breathing his life's work. His books and workshops teach proper breathing techniques that help you live a longer, healthier, happier life.

Here are ten secrets for better breathing, from Dennis's website. These may also be found in his book Free Your Breath, Free Your Life: How Conscious Breathing Can Relieve Stress, Increase Vitality, and Help You Live More Fully

I have added a few comments of my own which I've enclosed in brackets [].

1. If possible in your daily life, inhale and exhale only through your nose, even when you are doing aerobic exercise. [Breathing through your nose helps keep germs from getting into your lungs, and warms the air coming into your body which is less of a shock to your system in cold weather. Also, breathing through the mouth causes an uncomfortable dryness in the mouth and throat.]

2. Sense the movement of your breath frequently in the midst of your everyday activities. Remember not to hold your breath. [It's all about awareness….if you remember to sense your breath, you'll remember to breathe correctly, and be "in the moment." If you hold your breath, you are also holding onto carbon-dioxide, and depriving your cells of needed oxygen…you don't want to do that!]

3. Be sure your belly stays relaxed. Let it expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. Touch it and massage it frequently. Your belly is the foundation of your breath. [Many people believe breathing starts at the lungs and air is "sucked in." Breathing really starts at the diaphragm. As the contracting muscular action of the diaphragm expands the lungs, the muscles of the chest help to pull in the air. Good posture supports good breathing.]

4. Breath is life and movement. Let your breath engage and fill every part of your body, especially your belly, back, spine, and chest. [This is a great practice that encourages you to "listen" to your body, too. Within the boundaries of belly, back, spine, and chest lie all your vital organs! Paying attention to the oxygen that revitalizes the cells of your organs as well as your muscles also brings your attention to areas of discomfort and stress. This will allow you to relax and release the tension before it becomes a serious problem.]

5. To transform your breathing, start with your exhalation, with "letting go." [This serves two purposes: 1) it encourages you to fully exhale, releasing any built-up carbon-dioxide in your system. 2) it is symbolic of getting a "fresh start" with your breathing practice.]

6. A long, slow exhalation helps harmonize your diaphragm and turns on your "relaxation response." [Slow, deliberate movement of any kind will help to stimulate the "relaxation response" but breathing is especially important in that regard since it also affects your heart rate and blood pressure. Stress makes the muscles tense, the heart beat faster, and the blood pressure rise (sometimes due to the shallow breathing many people experience during stressful moments). Slow, deliberate breathing will calm a fast-beating heart, reduce blood pressure, and provide oxygen to muscles enabling relaxation.]

7. Sense the natural pause after exhalation; let yourself rest there for a moment. [People are in such a rush to do everything…don't be in a rush to breathe, too! It will shorten your life. My comment on number 6 applies here, also…..slow down and relax. It's good for you!]

8. Let your inhalation arise by itself, when it’s ready. [Your body is pretty good at knowing what it needs and the right way to get it. Follow your body's natural tendencies toward health and wellness.]

9. Sense the various breathing spaces of your body several times a day. Smile into these spaces and observe how your awareness helps them open and close effortlessly. [There is a qigong practice called Organ Rejuvenation or Smiling Qigong. It is simply the practice of taking time each day to put your attention on each of your major organs – liver, heart, stomach/spleen, lungs, and kidneys – and smile at each of them while doing a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing. You can't be angry, upset, or stressed out if you are smiling! This practice puts your intentions to work creating a healthy body and relaxed emotional state. It's very beneficial!]

10. Remember, you are a breathing being, alive right now and here. Let yourself feel the mystery and the miracle of your breath and your life as often as you can. [I can't add anything to that except: Yes!]

Copyright 2004-2007 By Dennis Lewis. From "The Ten Secrets of Authentic Breathing," in

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