Sunday, August 21, 2011

Resonant Frequency Breathing Promotes Wellness

This is a short (demo) version of a breathing exercise used in our research studies to train the participants to breathe at near resonant frequency (6 bpm) with both visual and audio aids.... You may try this technique when you feel nervous, stressed or anxious, or just want to relax. This program is based on the findings from studies of heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback, and the longer version (15 to 20 min) has been used in clinical studies of treatment of hypertension, panic, asthma, major depression, fibromyalgia, and anxiety disorders....

- Dr Kevin Chen

Living In Balance And Harmony

When you think of living in balance, how do you perceive that balance? Would your life and lifestyle be pretty mellow with no great highs or lows, similar to driving over a terrain of little hills but no tall mountains or deep valleys? You would experience no great ups or downs; nothing to get upset or angry about, but nothing to get excited about either? You would have no major illnesses; you would feel pretty good but experience the occasional “blah” day?

Many people would consider that to be a balanced life and be pretty satisfied with it because most see balance as an apothecary’s scales or a see-saw where there are little ups and downs, but basically “balanced” means horizontal levelness. Take a moment to consider the things we say to warn people off from imbalance: “Don’t tilt the apple cart;” “don’t tip the scales;” “keep it on an even keel.”

That perceived state of balance really means equilibrium: “A condition in which all acting influences are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system.” When talking about Dao and balance, we can safely agree that there is nothing about the Dao that is unchanging. It is quite the opposite, changing every minute of every day.

Take a moment to ponder all the things around you that are changing right this minute; depending upon the time of day you are reading this the day is changing to night or vice versa, the summer is changing to winter in the northern hemisphere and winter to summer in the southern hemisphere, at the time of this writing the moon is changing from full to new. On a more personal scale, your body is shedding old skin cells and making new ones, your qi is circulating through your energy channels, and your body chemicals are rising and falling in their own rhythm. Many of these things you don’t pay much attention to or even notice in the course of the day, but they affect you just as profoundly as the recognition of hunger or sleepiness or any of several emotions you may be feeling like anxiety or depression or happiness or contentment.

Can you imagine being caught in an ever-balanced, unchanging life? What would that be like? Would it always be spring or autumn so the length of day and night were equal and the seasons would never change to bring extreme heat or cold? Would your thoughts always progress smoothly from one idea to the next? Would you always be emotionally mellow, feeling neither anger nor joy?

When I present “balance” to you that way, it sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? However, that is exactly the kind of life you create for yourself when you attempt to maintain rigid levels of brain or body chemicals through unnatural measures in an attempt to control unwanted emotions or diseases without getting to the root of the problem to learn why those difficult emotions and diseases are bubbling up in the first place.

In following the Dao, equilibrium is not the sort of balance we are trying to attain.

In his writing “Balance” from the book 365 Tao (1), Deng Ming-Dao reminds us: “Nature does not achieve balance by keeping to one level. Rather, elements and seasons alternate with one another in succession. Balance, as defined by the Tao, is not stasis but a dynamic process of many overlapping alternations; even if some phases seem wildly excessive, they are balanced by others.

“Everything has its place. Everything has a season. As events turn, balance is to know what is here, what is coming, and how to be in perfect harmony with it. Then one attains a state of sublimity that cannot be challenged.”

You can see that balance is not equilibrium, and perhaps that is why equilibrium is so difficult to maintain – it is not natural, it is contrived. If you must spend your energy and attention maintaining equilibrium, you have neither the time nor opportunity to be aware of the cycles which create balance naturally.

In part, the reason equilibrium is so highly valued today is because changes in life come so swiftly and unexpectedly you have little time to adapt to one change before the next challenges you; they come at you like white-capped waves in a stormy sea. Not only is it difficult to keep up with today’s fast-paced technology, but all these labor-saving devices have actually caused American workers to be less productive rather than more productive, and instead of taking less time to complete tasks, it now takes longer. No wonder you become angry, frustrated, and depressed. Life has tossed more complications at you than you can cope with. It is nearly impossible to “know…what is coming, and how to be in perfect harmony with it” as Deng Ming-Dao suggests. You can barely keep up with what’s here and now!

The way to calm the mind and soothe the body is not through chemically forced equilibrium. Generally speaking, chemicals do not help your body to perform natural processes; they supply your body with uniform levels of needed chemicals so your body does not have to perform at all because your natural system has been bypassed. When one body system is bypassed, it affects the performance of a second, related system, and then that second system requires intervention, and so on, in a chain-reaction of chemically-induced stasis which is quite unnatural, and causes more ill-health than it cures.

The correct path to natural balance and wellness can be found in verse 19 of the Tao Te Ching (Peter Merel interpolation (2))

If we could discard knowledge and wisdom Then people would profit a hundredfold; If we could discard duty and justice Then harmonious relationships would form; If we could discard artifice and profit Then waste and theft would disappear. Yet such remedies treat only symptoms And so they are inadequate. People need personal remedies: Reveal your naked self and embrace your original nature; Bind your self-interest and control your ambition; Forget your habits and simplify your affairs.

Here is one interpretation of how this verse instructs you in achieving true, natural balance.

If we could discard knowledge and wisdom Then people would profit a hundredfold;
This does not mean to throw away what you know. It means that the demands for learning that are made upon you may account for the higher levels of stress and anxiety you experience, and may lead to feelings of fear, anger, resentment, and depression. Today, those demands often include becoming proficient in complicated technologies, and learning several jobs so that you are able to cover jobs for other people when they are out sick or on vacation. If the demands made upon you were fewer or less intense, you would not suffer sustained and debilitating levels of energy-draining and disease-causing emotions like anxiety and depression, and you would not require chemical interventions. Yes, you probably would experience these negative emotions, but you would “profit” by having shorter and fewer episodes, and you would have the mind power and the energy to effectively counteract them with techniques such as going for a brisk walk, or doing qigong.

If we could discard duty and justice Then harmonious relationships would form;
Duty and justice are the expectations and laws of other people imposed upon you. Often, that expectation breeds resentment and ill-will, exactly the opposite of harmony. Goodwill cannot be forced or legislated. Harmony comes when you work with others because you want to, not because someone else demands or expects it.

If we could discard artifice and profit Then waste and theft would disappear.
Waste and theft are both products of overabundance. If you live lavishly, opulently, not only is it wasteful, you will likely be a target for thieves. There is an inner angle to this also: waste and theft of your energy. If you put an overabundance of energy into attaining wealth and profit, you suffer burnout. If you are directed to expend your energy on tasks that only cause you anger and frustration, or things that will only profit you outwardly, you effectively “steal” energy from more deserving pursuits.

Yet such remedies treat only symptoms And so they are inadequate. People need personal remedies:
So far, the things that have been discussed either come from or apply to your interactions with other people. Without addressing your inner self and inner needs, any changes will halt the course of imbalance and illness but do not address the issue of how to effect a cure for your health and well-being.

Reveal your naked self and embrace your original nature;
We all wear masks at times. The problem has become that, in order to maintain emotional self-protection, you wear a mask most of the time; no one knows the real you. It may be protective, but it is stressful, too, like being on guard or on alert every moment with never a time to relax. You need to be open and honest with the people around you, and with yourself! Be who you really are, not who you are expected to be.

Bind your self-interest and control your ambition;
Bind in this context means to reduce your self-interest. Basically, don’t make yourself crazy! Sometimes the demands and expectations you put on yourself are worse than those put on you by others. Many challenges can and should be enjoyed, they keep life interesting. However, know your limits and don’t push them past the point of no return. It’s not a good or stimulating challenge if it harms your physical or emotional health.

Forget your habits and simplify your affairs.
“…simplify your affairs.” Much easier said than done, but if you truly desire to return to a state of balanced health and wellness which includes anticipating changes and being in harmony, never doubt that you have the ability and will find the way to do it.

I believe the golden key to unlock the treasure in this case is the phrase “Forget your habits…” How often do you do things out of habit without even realizing it? Many times a day, I guarantee it. The only way to break a habit is through awareness. It is imperative that you watch your thoughts, and watch how your thoughts create your emotions, and watch how your emotions create your health and well-being.

One way to “forget your habits” is to embrace change. Change everything you can about your day. Change your alarm clock so that you arise a few minutes earlier or later. Eat a different breakfast. Drink a cup of tea instead of coffee. Wear your Thursday suit on Monday and your Monday suit on Thursday. Take a different route to work if you walk or drive. If you ride, sit at the back of the bus or subway car instead of the front, or vice versa. Smile and say “Good Morning!” to everyone you see instead of hiding behind the newspaper. If you drive, listen to a different radio station. Smile and say “Good Morning!” to everyone in your office, especially the people who give you a hard time. (They will wonder what you are up to!) Take or buy something different for lunch.

By now I’m sure you are getting the idea. Changing your routine periodically will enable you to better cope physically, mentally, and emotionally with all change whether it is initiated by you or someone else. Do not be overwhelmed by change and attempt to cure it with stasis. Take control of the change, and allow the dynamic ups and downs of the natural world bring you into true balance and harmony.

(1) Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, Harper San Francisco, 1992, ISBN 0062502239


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Are you the Empty Vessel or the Hollow Bamboo?

Imagine that the water pouring through the bamboo and into the pot is Love, Light, Source, or Universal Consciousness….God if you will. Take a moment to consider how the bamboo and the pot function, and what happens to each as the water of Consciousness continuously flows.

Many traditions around the world embrace the core concept of the Empty Vessel. The foundation of the practice is that as you become full with ideas, knowledge, or ego, you must give up or give away that which has filled you so that you may attain innocence and egolessness and therefore experience Oneness.

In the Daoist tradition that I follow, there is much talk about being an Empty Vessel. There are even books and magazines and CDs about it. This idea comes from many sources, but one of the originals is Verse 11 of the Dao De Jing (Derek Lin translation) which says:
Thirty spokes join in one hub
In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle

Mix clay to create a container
In its emptiness, there is the function of a container

Cut open doors and windows to create a room
In its emptiness, there is the function of a room
Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit
That which is empty is used to create functionality

This teaching shows that only when it is empty can a cup function to hold the liquid you want to drink; only when it is empty can a room contain the furniture for your comfort. Carried into the realm of spirituality, only when it is empty can your mind contain universal consciousness and be filled with Divine Oneness.

Eventually, however, the vessel becomes full again, and either spills over uncontrollably or must be emptied by revisiting the same methods (or trying some new methods) that you used to empty it the last time.

However, if you embrace the paradox of diversity within oneness and are interested in helping others as well as being filled with divine consciousness yourself, the Hollow Bamboo is the way to go. Take a look at the bamboo again: as a channel for universal energies and divine consciousness, it is always full, as well as always sharing this fullness with others.

Here is a lovely metaphor for it, found again in Derek Lin's translation of the Dao De Jing. In the chapter below, the Valley Spirit represents the receptivity of earth. When the heavenly energies settle onto the earth, like the water through the bamboo, they flow to the lowest places. The valley, being the lowest place, collects the most heavenly energies.

Chapter 6

The valley spirit, undying
Is called the Mystic Female
The gateway of the Mystic Female
Is called the root of Heaven and Earth
It flows continuously, barely perceptible
When utilized, it is never exhausted

Just ponder the profound truth of that for a moment: It [heavenly energy and consciousness] flows continuously……When utilized, it is never exhausted.

Isn't the same true of Light, Love, Divine Consciousness? As it pours into you from the universe, and as you allow yourself to be a channel that it may flow through you to provide the same for others, do you not participate in the paradox of diversity while at the same time being always and completely filled with Light, Love, and participating in Universal Oneness?

Of course you do!

So, maybe it's better to be a piece of Hollow Bamboo and to remain full of Light and Love, and leave the Empty Vessel to others.

Derek Lin's online translation of the Dao De Jing may be viewed on his True Tao website Follow the links to the translation of the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Minset can improve vision

I found this article while browsing. . . see “Believing Is Seeing” reprinted below.

Read the article on how people's vision improved just by believing that a particular activity would improve their sight.

Your beliefs are a very powerful creative force. If you focus on positive beliefs, you will have positive experiences. Just think what you could do to create your physical health if you were to listen to your personalized Affirmation Meditation with statements telling you of your complete health and wellness!

Believing is Seeing: How Mindset Can Improve Vision
posted May 2, 2010

( -- How you see isn't just about how good your eyes are - it's also about your mindset, according to a study published in Psychological Science. For example, in one experiment, if someone was told that exercise would improve their vision, they saw better after doing an athletic activity - jumping jacks - than an unathletic activity with the same effect on heart rate - skipping.

The researchers, led by Ellen Langer at Harvard University, were interested in how the mind and body connect, particularly how mindset affects the body's performance. Langer has studied this kind of connection for decades. "Many of the things that we think we can't do are a function of our mindset rather than our abilities to do them," she says. In this case, she was interested in whether what we think affects how well we see.

People expect to see only the first few lines on traditional eye charts. Volunteers in an experiment who read a eye chart arranged in reverse order (the letters got progressively larger, with the giant "E" in the last row) saw a greater proportion of the smallest letters than when they viewed a traditional eye chart.

Another experiment took advantage of the belief that pilots have good eyesight. College students in the ROTC were brought into a flight simulator, given army fatigues to wear, and told to fly the simulator. They did simple flight maneuvers, then did an eyesight test by reading markings on the wings of planes ahead - actually lines from an eye chart. A control group of ROTC students was put in the same conditions, but they were told the simulator was broken, and that they should just pretend to fly the plane. The people who had performed like pilots, as opposed to those who just pretended, saw 40 percent better.

These findings suggest that visual acuity is influenced by mindset and might be improved by psychological means. Just being aware of this might help people improve their eyesight, says Langer - if they pay attention to when they can see well and when they can't, for example, or simply believe that they can see better when they aren't sitting in a dark room at the optometrist's office. These findings along with others from Langer's lab lead them to question how many of our limits are of our own making. The research is part of a larger inquiry into the psychology of possibility.

Provided by Association for Psychological Science (news : web)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Sounds of the first chakra by Harish Johari in MP3 format.

Muladhara Chakra, the first chakra.

A mantra is a chant. It can be as simple (and simply profound) as repeating the single syllable Aum, or it can be almost like a song of many words as is the Great Compassion Mantra. The mantra is found throughout the world both as a meditation practice and as a healing practice.

As a spiritual practice, mantra chanting began with the Hindus and was adopted by Buddhists and eventually other religious groups. It is believed that the idea for chanting the "Ave Maria" was brought back to Europe by Crusaders who learned the practice of using strings of beads (which we now call rosaries) to count prayer repetitions from the Arabs who had received their instruction in the practice from Tibetan monks and Indian Yogi masters.

The originators of the mantra practice discovered that repeating certain sounds with the voice created a particular vibration within the body. This, by the way, connects to the origins and original use of the chakras. Chakras are much more related to sound than to color, especially the rainbow-body stuff of today which was invented in the 1970's by Christopher Hills.

The authentic Hindu chakras (see picture above) have a letter representing a sound in the center (called the seed sound) and on each petal; the sounds are meant to be chanted, enabling the practitioner to attain spiritual states of consciousness, which it does when practiced regularly. The mantra for the Crown chakra, the 1,000 Petal Lotus, is actually the full compliment of sounds from all the petals of all the chakras, which comes to 50 sounds, making it a 50-syllable mantra.

You usually begin by chanting aloud, and then your voice softens until it is no longer heard, but the vibration continues in the mind. Indeed, the word mantra comes from a combination meaning "mind-tool," and it is the use of the voice that harmonizes the chanter's energies. When the energies have become harmonized, the voice may rest, but with dedicated practice, the chant may end but the energy pulses on.

The proof of that is found in a research titled "Long-term meditators self-induce high-amplitude gamma synchrony during mental practice" During the research, scientists observed that "mental training involves temporal integrative mechanisms and may induce short-term and long-term neural changes." In plain English: The long-term meditators' EEG-measured brainwave activity was higher – often in the Gamma range of 40Hz – and it stayed that way well beyond the duration of the meditation; the changes may even have been permanent. Long-time meditators do, literally, vibrate at a higher level.

(The Gamma state of brainwave activity is linked to higher states of consciousness, perception, problem solving, and those inspirational "Ah-ha!" moments. This rate has also been recorded during the REM sleep cycle, the deepest level of sleep (also associated with dreaming), which just goes to show why a good night's sleep is really important!)

Anyone who has ever attended a political demonstration where hundreds or even thousands of people are chanting the same slogan will attest to the power of the mantra to alter the consciousness. Personally, I believe that the number of participants may make a difference in groups new to the practice; the more people chanting together, the more energy that will be generated, and the more rapid and deep the change to the consciousness will become. However, for spiritualists long trained in the practice, large numbers of participants are probably not necessary (maybe not even desirable) to achieve an altered state.

Mantras are probably the first-ever demonstration and practice of entrainment, the physics principle that states two different vibrating bodies will mutually influence each other and both will adapt until their vibrations are synchronized.

A small study was done to see if chanting a rhythmic formula (such as a mantra or the "Ave Maria") had an effect on the cardiovascular system, see if it would synchronize breathing and heart rate, and if it would affect the body's ability to maintain steady blood pressure. Their stated result: "Both prayer and mantra caused striking, powerful, and synchronous increases in existing cardiovascular rhythms when recited six times a minute. Baroreflex [your body's mechanism for maintaining steady blood pressure levels] sensitivity also increased significantly…" Their conclusion: "Rhythm formulas that involve breathing at six breaths per minute induce favourable psychological and possibly physiological effects." Source

Ten breaths per minute is the respiration rate of a relaxed individual. Six breaths per minute will slow the heart rate and lead to even deeper relaxation. When I am doing standing qigong, I usually breathe at a rate of four or five respirations (inhale and exhale) per minute, and doing this for thirty or more minutes at a time has induced an altered state of consciousness even though chanting is not part of that practice.

In part, the reason that chanting has this relaxing and mind-altering effect is that performing the chant also regulates the breathing. The words and syllables in mantras for spiritual awakenings were created to (or were discovered to) also regulate the respiration. It is not just the sound, but the sound together with the regulation of the breath that causes the heart rate to synchronize, and the blood pressure to respond. This is why it is often said that it doesn't matter whether you chant "Aum," "Ave Maria," or "My Name Is Michelle," if you can hum the sound and create the vibration, the rate of respiration is slow and entrains the heart rate, you will likely achieve an altered state of consciousness if that is your goal. You will certainly achieve a state of very deep relaxation!

If you choose to create your own mantra, in order to be effective the words or syllables you chant should be sounds you can draw out like the mmmmmm of an M, or nnnnnnnnn of N, or ssssssss of S, or vvvvvvvv of V. Almost any vowel will work because you can almost hum them. (The ancient Greeks considered vowels to be sacred, possibly just for the reason that chanting them created altered states of consciousness.) Whatever sound you choose, make sure it is sustainable. K doesn’t work well, the sound is too hard and short. Neither does T or B because you can't elongate or hum them, you can only stutter them and you just don't get the same result.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Research shows the use of Affirmations overcomes anxiety and depression

Attributions and affirmations for overcoming anxiety and depression.
Psychol Psychother. 2009 Jun;82(Pt 2):153-69. Epub 2008 Dec 16.
Kinnier RT, Hofsess C, Pongratz R, Lambert C.

Division of Psychology in Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-0611, USA.

Individuals who struggle with anxiety or depression often turn to experts for help in overcoming these disorders. In this study, we consult three expert 'populations': the popular self-help literature, well-respected therapists, and individuals who believe that they have successfully recovered from either anxiety or depression for their recommendations to those who are currently anxious or depressed.

In Part I, we content-analyse recommendations from 10 current self-help books on anxiety and 10 on depression. In Part II, we asked 17 respected therapists and 18 individuals who believed that they have recovered from anxiety and 23 individuals who believe they have recovered from depression what they believe are the 'keys' for recovery. We also asked them to rate the efficacy of seven popular affirmations. Through content analysis and descriptive statistics, we summarize their collective wisdom. 

Among the main findings are the recommendations for anxious and depressed individuals to actively seek help from multiple people and interventions, as well as to being open to trying innovative self-tailored interventions. Affirmations relating to 'not being crazy' in relation to anxiety and that the depression will subside in time were deemed most helpful for recovery. Discussion focuses on practical application.

Reducing negative thinking and depressive symptoms in college women.
J Nurs Scholarsh. 2000;32(2):145-51.
Peden AR, Hall LA, Rayens MK, Beebe LL.
College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40536-0232, USA.

PURPOSE: Although cognitive-behavioral interventions have been successful in treating depression, no studies were found that focused solely on reducing negative thinking via group intervention as a means of preventing depression in at-risk groups. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to test the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral group intervention in reducing depressive symptoms, decreasing negative thinking, and enhancing self-esteem in young women at risk for depression.

DESIGN: A randomized controlled trial with 92 college women ages 18 to 24 who were at risk for depression was conducted.

METHOD: Participants were randomly assigned to either the control or experimental group. The experimental group participated in a 6-week cognitive-behavioral group intervention. Data on self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and negative thinking were collected via self-report questionnaires from control and experimental groups at baseline, 1 month after the intervention, and at 6-month follow-up. Data were analyzed using mixed-model methodology and the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test.

FINDINGS: Compared to those in the control group, women who received the intervention had a greater decrease in depressive symptoms and negative thinking and a greater increase in self-esteem, and these beneficial effects were maintained over 6-months.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings document the effectiveness of this cognitive-behavioral group intervention and indicate empirical support for the beneficial effects of reducing negative thinking by the use of affirmations and thought-stopping techniques on women's mental health.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bruce Lipton ' The Power Of Consciousness'

Bruce Lipton is one of my favorite authors, and his work in the field of epigenitics (the science that shows we control our genes, our genes do not control us) is ground-breaking and mind-bending, showing just what powerful, masterful creators we really are when it comes to our wellness.

Enjoy this interview with him from and if you would like to buy his book, you may order that by following this link to the Be Well With Michelle aStore

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pharma Not in Business of Health, Healing, Cures, Wellness

Something I've been saying for years; medicine in the US is not about wellness, it's about selling drugs that don't cure anything, just mask symptoms while they cause even more due to detrimental side effects. Here's a lady who was on the inside, speaking out on the secrets of a pharmaceutical saleswoman.