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Monthly Archives

February 2013

Dreams and Their Meanings

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The unconscious mind speaks a language of symbols, colors, stories and metaphors. Dreams are the best way to communicate these messages to the conscious mind. Sadly, the conscious mind is not very proficient with this language set. The conscious mind is basically turned off while we sleep. The unconscious mind is on 24/7. During the sleeping hours the unconscious mind works diligently to problem solve, offering great wisdom, if only the conscious mind was better at interpreting the messages. Enter the field of dream interpretation. The other night I went to a lecture by dream expert Jeremy Taylor. Here are a few highlights, which Taylor calls the Basic Dream Work Tool Kit. 1. All dreams speak a universal language and come in the service of health and wholeness. 2. Only the dreamer can say with any certainty what meaning his or her dream may have. 3. There is no such thing as a dream with only one meaning. 4. No dreams come just to tell you what you consciously already know.
People who work to both remember their dreams and interpret them often seem to be more at ease with themselves than those who don’t. Finally, a recurring dream is a message of some unresolved issue  (stress) that is begging for resolution. Jung’s idea of active imagination, where you finish the dream in a lucid state, appears to be helpful to many. Remember, asleep or awake, you are the producer, director, actor and audience of your dreams.
Stress Tip for the Day:
To remember your dreams better, plant a thought as you lay your head on your pillow that you wish to remember your dreams. If it helps, keep a dream journal and keep that journal right by your bedside to record any dream fragments that you remember as soon as you wake up. As you work to decode the dream, look at the dream from a variety of perspectives, including all the people in your dream. Carl Jung often spoke of psychic equilibrium, the ability of conscious mind to speak the language of the unconscious mind…Work for this equilibrium. Trust your dreams as a healing agent, even if you don’t understand what they mean. Your unconscious mind has your best interest at heart.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Jeremy Taylor has a great book on dreams called The Wisdom of Your Dreams. And… I highly recommend Carl Jung’s book, Man and His Symbols.
Here is a link to Jeremy Taylor’s website: http://www.jeremytaylor.com/
And here is a youtube link of Jeremy Taylor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3UmS0dHqos
Quote for the Day
“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul.” — Carl G. Jung
Photo For the Day
The mind is often symbolized by a mountain; that which is conscious is above the clouds, while that which is unconscious remains below the cloud line. To be fully conscious suggests the clouds disappear to reveal a deep-seated wisdom. For this reason I selected the Peruvian mountains that guard Machu Picchu for today’s theme. Enjoy!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and the Heart

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It is commonly understood that the catacholamines (epinephrine and nor-epinephrine) released in the stress response (even a moderate one), cause an increase in both resting heart rate and blood pressure. An increase in blood pressure over time tends to cause micro tears in the linings of the artery walls. Cortisol, commonly known as THE stress hormone, is responsible for a number of metabolic reactions associated with the stress response, including promoting an increase in free fatty acids, cholesterol and glucose into the blood (for energy…you need energy for fight or flight).  As cholesterol travels through the coronary arteries, it binds to these micro tears causing the initial and subsequent buildup of plaque, commonly known as atherosclerosis. While there are other factors associated with stress and coronary heart disease, this is a good place to begin. Stress is rampant in our American Society, and one of many signs of it is the vast numbers of people suffering from insomnia, which may also be related to heart disease. 

The renowned cardiologist Dean Ornish wrote a book titled Love and Survival. Dr. Ornish was the first researcher to prove that atherosclerosis can be reversed. His program involved physical exercise, proper nutrition, support groups (friends) and meditation (what he called the open heart meditation). As he often says, the media and the medical community didn’t want to hear about love, they wanted to hear about aerobics and broccoli. Welcome to the western mind. Its’ quite possible that love (in all the many ways it can be expressed) is the X-factor of coronary heart disease.

Stress Tip for the Day:
To focus on heart health, I would address the four areas of wellness (mind, body, spirits and emotions).  Of course, physical heart health would included healthy nutritious eating habits (e.g., Omego 3 oils, no trans-fats, etc.) as well as a routine cardiovascular physical fitness program. Heart health would also include a quiet time routine such as meditation and or guided mental imagery. To open the portals of the heart , one must regularly work on forgiveness. Gratitude is also very important: The expression of counting our blessings comes to mind (we don’t do this enough in our entitlement society). Humor (comic relief) is also very important. There is even a passage in the Bible that supports this notion, “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a poor spirit drieth the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22). Lastly, the expression of love and compassion, such as random acts of kindness (perhaps not even random) is essential. In helping others, we help heal ourselves. There is much we can do to augment the health of the heart, on all levels.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Dean Ornish has a great book titled Love and Survival. I highly recommend it. I also recommend the book, Random Acts of Kindness. This blog was inspired by an interview I had for an upcoming article in the Huffington Post.
Quote for the Day:
“In the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” —Kahlil Gibran
“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden where the flowers are dead.” — Oscar Wilde
Photo For the Day
It seemed only fitting to include a photo of a water lily today. Enjoy!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Triumph of the Human Spirit

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I just returned from the Boulder Film Festival where I had the great pleasure to see the film, No Place on Earth. This movie is an amazing documentary about several dozen Ukrainian Jews who survived World War II by hiding in a huge underground cave (one of the biggest subterranean caves of Europe.) The survived for over 500 days in an amazing feat of human fortitude, ingenuity and creativity. The highlights of the movie are the interviews of these remarkable people, many now in their 80’s and 90s as well as their return in 2010 to the Ukraine to the underground cave. The horrors of WWII rank as some of the most extreme stressors known to humanity. To see the determination of these people portrayed in this film surviving against all odds is nothing less than astonishing. And it certainly puts our trivial day-to-day problems in perspective.  What is the triumph of the human spirit? It is the ability to rise above our problems and not only survive, but thrive in the face of adversity. Each and every one of use has the ability to do this (once we move our ego out of the way). The triumph of the human spirit includes utilizing our muscles of the soul: faith, optimism, creativity, humor, patience and persistence.Time to start exercising these muscles.
Stress Tip for the Day
No matter what ordeal you might be going through right now, you have the means to deal with it successfully. The most important first step is to move out of fear-based thinking. The next step is to cultivate your inner resources (muscles of the soul) and often it takes many of these at the same time. Fear tends to immobilize the human spirit.  If you are feeling stuck, it might just be time to take some initiative, a pro-active stance to move from victim to victor. I think it is safe to say that the heroes of this movie never saw themselves as victims. Today it’s time to be a hero.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Here is a link to the movie’s website. It might appear on the History Channel. I HIGHLY recommend this movie. Stay tuned.
And once again, I would like to recommend the book, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. It will put any day you are having into perspective.
Quote for the Day:
“Giving up is the final solution to a temporary problem.” —Gerta Wiessman Klien, Nazi Concentration Camp Survivor
Photo For the Day
I didn’t have any photos of the Ukraine or even of huge cavernous caves, but I do have a photo of the iconic pose of triumph of the human spirit. This photo was taken during our Spirit of Ireland tour last year on a hike up the sacred mountain, Crough Patrick near the town of Westport. Here Matt Helm does the honors… Thanks Matt.
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Filters of the Mind

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As we mature from childhood to adulthood, we learn (or we are supposed to learn) what is appropriate behavior. Appropriate behavior is a consensus of social norms that promotes a civil society. At its best, it keeps everybody happy. From a psychological perspective, we learn to put filters on our thought processes before words leave our lips, and these filters guard us from saying in appropriate things at inappropriate times. Lack of filters, or the lack of use of these filters, cannot only make us look like an idiot (or worse), the result can be offensive to others and cause much emotional harm. There is also often a big mess to clean up!  In an age where we are supposed to get in touch with our feelings, the use of filters may seem like a mixed message, but it’s not. As they say in comedy, timing is everything.  Filters of the mind serve to act as guards of protection, for both yourself and others. “Filters of the mind” is the protocol of your conscience.  Filters of the mind is the ego doing it’s best job daily by letting your conscience be conscious. Put these filters to good use today.
Stress Tip of the Day:
How good are your filters of the mind? (How grounded is your ego?) Perhaps more importantly, do you make good use of them? Filters of the mind begin with the conscious mind asking “if what passes from my lips is true, necessary and kind?” Today, allow your conscience to be more active in your thought process. Once again, meditation is a great way to domesticate the ego and empower your conscience.
Links, Books and Films Worth Noting:
I would like to recommend the book,  The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I think he does a great job of putting this concept into practice. Also, the book, The Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindburgh is quite excellent for self reflection.
Quote of the Day:
“When you speak, ask yourself these words: Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” —Anne Morrow Lindburgh
Photo of the Day
One of my favorite books is Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s, A Gift from the Sea. To honor her spirit (Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind) today’s photo was taken on the Gulf coast of Florida where Charles and Anne Lindbergh would often take refuge from a stress-filled world. Enjoy!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Impatience

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A woman called my office last week. Actually, she called three times in  a 30-minute period. She left three messages, with a snide comment on the last voice mail message, pissed that I had not returned her calls (ironically, she was calling about taking a stress management instructor workshop). My goodness! Sociologists have noted that we live in the age of immediate gratification where everyone is accessible 24/7 (well, not everyone, smile). Under the illusion that we live in an on-demand society, frustrations will certainly mount when one’s level of gratification is not met. This frustration is called the “death of expectations,” and anger becomes one of the first stages of the grieving process. When you hear people voicing their anger, it is very likely that they are grieving something, most likely the death of an unmet expectation. It is likely that the abundance of technology, communication and information sharing will lead to more frustration when people decide not to play the game of 24/7 on demand living (which by the way is not a sustainable way to live if you are on the receiving end of it).  Ultimately, it is ego that demands the selfish me-first attitude. Where there is ego, there is stress. It can become a vicious cycle. It’s time to break the cycle.
Stress Tip for the Day
Time to recalibrate your expectations. Patience is certainly a virtue, as well as a skill that needs to be employed on a regular basis. Are you a patient person? More than just a good driving skill, patience is realizing that you are not the most important person in the world. With patience, humbleness should be exercised.  So… when you find yourself at the grocery check out line, or the post office or anywhere where there are others in a rush, let them go, and reside in the stillness of egoless compassion.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Here is a link on the art of mastering better patience: Enjoy!
http://www.inc.com/john-baldoni/the-secret-to-mastering-patience.html
Quote for the Day:
“Humility is attentive patience.”—Simon Wiel
“Our patience will achieve more than our force.”  Edmund Burke
Photo For the Day
In thinking of what photo to use for the topic of patience, one immediately came to mind, that of a chickadee perched on my hand…. It takes great patience to have this happen, but certainly worth the wait. Enjoy!
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress and Food Allergies

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Over the past few weeks, two good friends informed me that they have become sensitive to gluten (a protein molecule found in flour). Sadly, they are among a growing population  (some stats suggest 15% of Americans) who find themselves no longer able to eat wheat products; from the obvious (pastas) to the not so obvious (e.g., meatballs, usually mixed with breadcrumbs, soups, even cous cous). While some people have mild reactions, other contract Celiac disease (a serious affliction) that affects the immune system and digestive tract. For decades the top four foods that produced allergic reactions were milk, eggs, shellfish and nuts. This list has grown dramatically since the advent of GMO foods. Today, many people have food allergies. The symptoms of food allergies includes respiratory problems, hives, skin rashes, watery eyes, headaches, aching joints, lethargy, depression and a host of various other maladies (more symptoms of gluten allergies can be found in the first link below.) Equally important:  It is believed that STRESS can trigger or exacerbate these symptoms dramatically. Experts suggest that more people have a fear of food allergies than actually have a biochemical response to various food substances. Perhaps not! Given all the processing (manipulation) of foods these days, not to mention all the chemicals to treat the foods, and the fact that no one is studying these aspects, we may never know the true story. Suffice to say that foreign substances in the body can cause an immune system reaction and stress will certainly compound this.
Stress Tip for the Day
Does your diet include a large percentage of wheat products, perhaps more so than rice or Quinoa? Take some time to read up on gluten intolerance.  Regardless if you are gluten sensitive or not, consider doing a gluten fast for several (7) days just to clean you body out (some even recommend a 21 day cleanse). Take note of how you feel after the fifth or sixth day…This might prove to be a good indication of your level of tolerance. The good news is that there are lots of nutritious options for simple changes in your diet. Many restaurants now offer gluten-free entrees too. Consider adding more variety to your diet (e.g., brown rice and quinoa). And remember, stress will certainly magnify any issue with your immune system so do your best to incorporate some form of relaxation every day.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Here are some links on today’s topic. There is even a clinical journal called the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.
http://savageminds.org/2010/02/09/food-allergies-and-modern-life/
Quote for the Day:
“Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.” — Hippocrates
Photo For the Day
Typically I use my own photos, but I found this (very graphic) photo on the Internet  months ago and saved it for this blog entry. Kinda says it all, really.
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.