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Monthly Archives

April 2013

Ecotherapy: Happy Earth Day!

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Some fascinating research has been published recently regarding the healing power of nature.  When people are asked to walk through a forested path for 20-30 mins (known in Japan as “forest bathing”),  researchers have observed decreased blood pressure values, increased white blood cell count, a decrease of cortisol (the stress hormone) and several other health related aspects measured in the subjects. It only makes sense. We are a part of nature and it is a part of us. Research in the field of circadian rhythms also reveals that when people have exposure to natural sunlight, this exposure has the ability to calibrate the body’s internal clock (also known as biorhythms) for better sleep and several other body functions. The earth’s natural rhythm (7.8 Hz) is said to be the rhythm of homeostasis. This is the vibration of whale songs, waterfalls and other sounds of nature. It appears to be the vibration of health, not found inside one’s homes by the computer.
• Stress Tip For The Day:
Today, in honor of Earth Day, take time to go outside: go for a walk, Listen to the birds, breath in some fresh air, feel the sun on your face and hands, feel the wind in your hair. Make it a point to reconnect with the natural world. Walk softly on the back of Mother Nature. Feel and listen to her vibration of health. Make it a habit to get outside everyday to avoid Nature Deficit Disorder.  Remember, every days is Earth Day!
• Links/Books/Movies Worth Noting:
I would love to recommend a great book I came across called, This is Your Brain on Nature, by Eva Selhub, M.D.
And…here is a link to a great article about ecotherapy in Outside magazine
• Quotes for the Day:
“The success of the original Earth Day was to fix the problems that we could see (e.g., water, air pollution). Now we must fix the problems that we cannot see, but are equally deadly.” —Dennis Hays, Co-founder of the first Earth Day.
• Photo of the Day:
I took this photo while in Sitka, Alaska as I walked through a cathedral forest of Sitka Spruce. Forest bathing indeed. 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 14 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart, A Beautiful World and Managing Stress (7E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Random Acts of Kindness in a Frenetic World

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Laura Wellington was less than a half a mile from the finish line when she heard a loud explosion. Stunned, she stopped to ask someone what had happened only to learn that the location where her family was waiting in downtown Boston was bombed. She was quickly diverted away from the marathon route. Once she made contact with her brother, Bryan, via cell phone and learned everyone in her family was all right, she sat down and cried. At that moment a married couple walking by stopped to comfort her. The man asked if she had finished the race. Laura shook her head no, whereupon he took his coveted Boston Marathon Medal, placed it around her neck and said, “You are a finisher in my eyes.” In between her tears and sobs, she said thanks. Laura never learned this stranger’s name, but will forever be indebted to his random act of kindness. That afternoon, hundreds of similar act were performed for total strangers across the city, all in the name of compassion proving that in times of stress, proving that humanity can rise to our finest hour. No less amazing were the scores of runners who crossed the finish line after running 26+ miles only to continue running a few more miles to the nearest hospital to donate blood. To paraphrase the words of Mother Theresa, “there are no small acts of compassion; all of these acts are great.” Times of stress may seem anything but spiritual yet there is always a choice; the ego reacts, the soul responds. Take time to respond in kindness. Thanks to all those people who showed us the way of the heart.
• Stress Tip For The Day:
Although at times it may not seem like, life is a spiritual journey. Like the runner who was knocked down by the explosion as he neared the finish line only to get up and cross the finish line, we are all called upon to rise to our highest potential. In many cases, this means putting others first, by giving comfort to those who need it. To give of ourselves so that others can simply get by. Random acts of kindness, however, are needed everyday. They are anonymous gestures of kindness without reciprocation.  Over the past week, we have seen many of these acts. Many more are needed. And realize when you give you also receive.
• Links/Books/Movies Worth Noting:
A friend from Boston passed along this link the day after the Marathon. If nothing more please take the time to scroll through these pages. It will truly lift your heart.
http://kindworld.tumblr.com/
• Quotes for the Day:
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” —Aboriginal Proverb
“The ego reacts, the soul responds.”— Brian Luke Seaward
• Photo of the Day:
This photo was on Laura Wellington’s Facebook page, with credit and thanks for her story.
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 14 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart, A Beautiful World and Managing Stress (7E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Friends, It’s All About Friends! Real Friends!

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When health experts take a look at the indices of health, one aspect stands out among the others; support groups, also known as friends. Some psychologists have a name for this. They call it The Buffer Theory, suggesting that good friends tend to buffer us from the stress of life. They cushion the blow of sudden change, and catch us when we fall. (this is the whole purpose of groups like AA, which are very successful). Today friendships have become more virtual and less actual. People collect friends like stamps or coins. As a whole we tend to spend more time on line and less time with face-to-face contact. Moreover, we may have many acquaintances yet fewer and fewer close friends. Experts agree, that when all is said and done, you can really only have a few close friends.  It is this group that needs the greatest attention; nurturing these relationships. Sociologists fear that great Internet use fosters a greater sense of loneliness, which becomes very stressful.Solid friendships help promote a sense of belonging which by any other name means love. The bottom line is that love (compassion) in the form of quality friendships is the greatest healing agent.
• Stress Tip For The Day:
How strong in your support group of friends? How often do you really see your friends? How often do you spend quality time with them? Today make a pledge to yourself to strengthen the bonds of close friendships in your life by inviting a good friend to lunch or tea, perhaps a movie or even a walk. Tell them how much you appreciate them in your life. Take time to see what’s really going on in their lives. Lend emotional support for them if needed, and ask for the same if you need it. Remember to take time to unplug from the virtual world and spend more time in the actual world. Tell your friends how much they mean to you. Tell them you love them. Most people never hear this enough.
• Links/Books/Movies Worth Noting:
Here is a link from Psychology Today:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nourish/201003/the-healing-power-friendship
Here is a link on this very subject from the Ladies Home Journal
http://www.lhj.com/relationships/friendships/the-healing-power-of-friendship/
• Quotes for the Day:
“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.” — William Butter Yeats
• Photo of the Day:
A few weeks ago, I had some friends over for a potluck and house concert (some traditional Irish music). It was loads of fun. Here are some of my good friends, musicians Adam, John and Emily. Thanks everyone for a great evening of music, food and quality friendships.  And long live gluten-free lasagna! 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 14 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart, A Beautiful World and Managing Stress (7E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Reflections: Thoughts, Attitudes and Perceptions

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An interesting story on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday reminded me of a quote by Carl Jung, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  A study designed to look at anger issues and treatment was really a look at projection of the ego.  In this story,  when people who were diagnosed as having anger issues viewed photographs of people’s faces, they would often project their feelings of anger—saying that these people were angry (In actuality, the facial images exhibited a neutral appearance.) Freud cited projection (personal thoughts and feelings projected onto others) as a defense mechanism, used by the ego to decrease pain and increase pleasure. He was right! It happens all the time. It’s no secret that indeed, people often project their thoughts, feelings, attitudes and perceptions on to others, often unknowingly. In essence, all other people offer you a mirror image, reinforcing these thoughts and attitudes. When the ego and soul are in balance, you begin to see people for who they really are, not filtered through the lens of your own ego.
• Stress Tip For The Day:
Take time today (and perhaps every day) to note the faces of others you meet and see if they reflect to you a mirror image of your inner thoughts. To see this reflection, you first have to know your inner thoughts, and own them. There comes a time when you see people for who they really are, their expressions, their thoughts, their emotions, etc. but this can only happen when you have taken the time to go inside and domesticate your own ego. This process happens with a regular meditation program…
• Links/Books/Movies Worth Noting:
I am a big fan of the works of Carl Jung and for this reason I highly recommend any of his books, including his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
• Quotes for the Day:
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” — Carl G. Jung
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awakens.” — Carl G. Jung
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” — Carl G. Jung
• Photo of the Day:
This is one of my favorite photos taken of the Tetons in Jackson Hole, WY. I was here a few years ago filming Earth Songs and was spellbound by the beauty of these mountains freshly covered in snow… Nice reflection, too. 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 14 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart, A Beautiful World and Managing Stress (7E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Empowerment: Reclaiming Your Personal Power

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Yesterday I attended a seminar on empowerment. What was supposed to be a seminar quickly became a non-sectarian revival meeting. Ironically, the people who came to learn about reclaiming their power were giving it away to the speaker, who in turn, seemed to enjoy taking it in. We living in a culture of strong media personalities, charismatic religious leaders, politicians, professional athletes, amazing healers, rock stars, physicians and charming social network experts, many of which long for more than their 15 minutes of fame—and will gladly take yours. Sadly, all of this leaves a great many people disempowered and ultimately stressed. The alchemy of empowerment is a carefully crafted (conscious) mixture of high self-esteem, confidence, humility, patience and assertiveness. Metaphorically speaking, empowerment, like tires on a car, needs to be monitored regularly for leaks. Like the air you inhale, empowerment is only a breath away.
• Stress Tip For The Day:
Are you the kind of person who gives your power away? Remember, it is OK to listen to the voice of reason and the wisdom of experience, however, take time each day to discern where truth really lies. Here is a test of leaking air in the tires of your metaphorical car: If you find yourself paying (adoring) more attention to the messenger than the message, there is a good chance you are giving your power away. Gather information from several sources. Question what you think to see if it rings true. Empowerment is an inside job. To reclaim your personal power, you first have to acknowledge that you have it, then embrace it not give it away.
• Links/Books/Movies Worth Noting:
I love movies that using the Hero’s journey template remind us of our own power… For this reason, I highly recommend the movie St. Ralph.
• Quote for the Day:
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” — Coco Chanel
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”— Rumi
• Photo of the Day:
I took this photo a few years back in Ke’e Beach, Kauai during a powerful winter storm…Seeing this guy in front of this colossal wave reminded me of Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice of the movie Fantasia. Seemed appropriate. You might have to click on the photo to enlarge it, 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 14 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart, A Beautiful World and Managing Stress (7E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Stress: The Pain to Pleasure Spectrum/Reaction

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 Freud was right about one thing; the ego is a force to be reckoned with. It is the ego that trips the switch for fight or flight. And it is the ego that recognizes both pain and pleasure. When we perceive stress, often times we acknowledge the pain it brings (to the ego) and often our response is to balance the pain with pleasure. Pleasure can come in many forms, from soothing our emotions with comfort foods or alcohol consumption  to retail therapy, even tattoos. Oddly enough, it can also show up in sarcasm, cyncicism and whining (as a form of validation of our stress). None of these “If I feel pain, I will seek pleasure” behaviors are healthy, yet they are very common, perhaps all too common.
Stress Tip for the Day:
Do you reward yourself to compensate for emotional pain? From now on, when you encounter something that trips your stress response, do your best to observe your emotions, specifically emotional pain in the form of anger or fear. Process/recognize these emotions (all emotions are valid, even though the reasons may not be). Then, rather than react with pleasure-seeking behavior (short term ego rewards), respond by staying in the present moment by returning to your emotional still point of neutrality. Remember, seeking pleasure is great, but if the motivation is to drown out the pain, the search for pleasure is a reaction, not a response. Over time, this becomes an addictive behavior making you fall victim to your ego. This becomes a never-ending cycle. Returning to your emotional still point is a skill and it takes practice, but like anything else you practice, you will  become better and better, and once you achieve mastery of this skill it is called empowerment.
Books, Movies, and Links Worth Noting:
Here are a few links on today’s theme. Enjoy!
Quote for the Day:
“The ego reactions, the soul responds.”— Brian Luke Seaward (from the book, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water)
Photo of the Day:
While skiing a few weeks ago with a buddy of mine (hi Matt), he gratefully posed for a few shots of the Rocky Mountain High. Matt was experiencing all pleasure without the pain… a great response to the stunning beauty.
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.