Ecotherapy: Happy Earth Day!


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
http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/wellness/Take-Two-Hours-of-Pine-Forest-and-Call-Me-in-the-Morning.html
• 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


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!


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


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


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


 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!
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199909/the-pleasure-pain
http://thesameffect.com/the-pain-and-pleasure-principle/
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.

Stress and Honey: In Honor of Bees


By now you may have heard that hundreds of honeybee colonies around the country (and Europe) are in great decline (the terms is bee colony collapse). Though the reasons may not be clear, much evidence is pointing toward pesticides. Some also say that cell phone towers may also have a role in this as well (and some say parasites). Honeybees pollinate the trees and plants that bear fruit (and even nuts) of great many foods that we eat. So important are these bees, that companies drive trucks with bee hives from farm to farm in California to ensure that pollination takes place. Not only do we benefit from the fruit born in the process, but some great honey as well. If you are a fan of honey, once again, let the buyer beware. A lot of honey sold in the country comes from China, and tests reveal that it’s not really honey. Moreover, industrialized honey (from big companies) are regulated to pasteurize (heat) the honey, which often kills valuable nutrients. Your best bet is to buy local from small farmers. How valuable are bees to your life? In the words of Albert Einstein, If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
Stress Tip for the Day:
The last blog on sugar didn’t mention a sugar detox (oops), but as a continuation of that theme, consider substituting fresh honey for sugar. And when you start up your spring and summer gardens, do not use petrochemical pesticides (e.g., Roundup). Take time to appreciate the small parts of nature that make big contributions…. Give thanks to the honeybee this year.
Books, Movies and Links worth Noting:
Here is a description of Bee Colony Collapse
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder
http://npic.orst.edu/envir/ccd.html
There is no shortage of links about the benefits of honey on the net.
Here are a few of my favorites:
http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/remedies-book.html
And on a related note, if you haven’t see the movie, the secret life of bees, I highly recommend it.
Quote for the Day:
“Honey consumption (as compared to refined sugar or HFCS) leads directly to the formation of liver glycogen, thus stabilizing blood sugar levels. Honey thereby reduces metabolic stress and improves fat metabolism and disposal, thus combating two of the key parameters of the metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.” — Dr. Ron Fessenden
“The pedigree of honey does not concern the bee; A clover, any time, to him is aristocracy.” —Emily Dickenson
Photo of the Day:
While in Ireland last year, I happened to come across a wonderful garden, and even the bees thought so…. Notice the yellow pollen clump… 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.

Sugar, Obesity and Stress


Last week I had the privilege to hear renowned researcher Kelly Brownell, Ph.D. at a national health conference. His keynote address was on the topic of nutrition and obesity, but the real focus of his presentation was on the impact of sugar on the American diet. As a whole, our national consumption of sugar is mind-blowing. It has been suggested that each person consumes his or her own weight in sugar each year. Most likely, this is a very conservative estimate. Refined sugar  (not to mention high fructose corn syrup) is associated with obesity, which is associated with Type II diabetes, which is associated with heart disease. Estimates suggest that in the coming decade, over one-third of Americans will be diagnosed with Type II diabetes. The news is even more grim for India, as we export our lifestyle worldwide. From cereals to soft drinks to processed foods you wouldn’t even believe have sugar in them, food companies do their best to win your addiction to sugar. Brownell is the author of a new book on food addiction. Pulitzer prize winning author, Michael Moss, has just come out with a new book on the food industry’s attempts to win you over with salt, sugar and fat, in fact this is the title of his book, Salt Sugar Fat. Well worth the read. Sugar is also associated with a suppressed immune system and an increased stress response. Yet when people are stressed, the first thing they turn to are comfort foods, processed foods and junk foods that are loaded with these empty calories.
Stress Tip for the Day
Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of sugar you consume in a day? Refined sugar is in a great many foods, from salad dressings to breads. High fructose corn syrup is also in a great many foods as well. Here is a challenge: Try to go a whole day without eating any refined sugar or any foods that contain refined sugar. It’s hard but not impossible. Consider imposing a personal ban on refined sugar for a 24- hour period. Longer if you can. So, here is your chance to substitute foods with sugar to fresh veggies, nuts and even fruit (not fruit drinks). Good luck, and remember, if you slip (through no fault of your own) do your best to continue the sugar fast. Healthy eating is not about feeling guilty. It’s about starting today with healthy behaviors.
Links, Books and Links Worth Noting
These two links will educate you on the marketing efforts of the food industry to win your dollar over your health.
http://sugarpolitics.com/about/
http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/03/08/f-vp-crowe-big-sugar.html
And check out this link about a food industry insider:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/17/michael-mudd-kraft_n_2896628.html
Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., author of Suicide by Sugar, has written several books on this topic. Here is one link to her writings:
http://www.whale.to/w/appleton3.html
Quote for the Day
“The bottom line is that sugar upsets the body chemistry and suppresses the 
immune system.  Once the immune system becomes suppressed, the door is 
opened to infectious and degenerative diseases.  The stronger the immune
 system, the easier it is for the body to fight infectious and degenerative 
diseases.” –Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.
Photo For the Day
Not that we need one more photo of people trying to lose weight, but even though Colorado (where I live) is said to be the state with the lowest nationwide obesity levels, our numbers are increasing dramatically too, as evidenced here at the Colorado Irish Festival last summer.
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 Your Approaching Retirement


Baby boomers take note: Financial experts are worried about our future and for good reason… the percentage of working adults who are not preparing themselves for retirement is alarming. Millennials should take note too. There is a real paradox in the message of stress management. The goal is to live in the present moment, not feel guilty of the past or worry about the future. When it comes to saving for retirement, many people, too many people, however do live in the present moment (this behavior borders on denial yet not amount of meditation will make money manifest out of thin air). Here is the catch; to live in the present moment does not mean to avoid preparing for the future. With pensions evaporating in thin air, fluctuations in the stock market, health care issues social security, and other financial turbulence these days one cannot expect to live comfortably in the golden years without a serious sound financial strategy. Living in a society of instant gratification often leaves one empty handed in the senior years and that is code for a life of stress. To borrow the boys scout motto, “Be prepared.”
Stress Tip for the Day
If you don’t already have a financial planner, it’s time to get one (even if you have a 401k Plan at work). Ask around…querry your friends. Do your homework…A good financial planner will tell you straight up how you can expect to live based on what you have already and will suggest what you need to do if you wish to continuing living in moderate comfort (or end up being a Walmart Greeter the rest of your life).  As my financial planner said to me year a decade ago, “Don’t feel guilty about what you haven’t done. Start today and keep with it.”It’s to your advantage to know what a 401K, Roth IRA, SEP accounts are as well as the concept of multiple streams of income and passive income as well.
Links, Books and Movies Worth Noting:
Here is a PDF Financial Planner link to get you thinking about financial planning for your retirement no matter how old/young you are: Please download this and give it a serious review:
http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/CFS/CFS-685-W.pdf
Quotes for the Day
“To enjoy a long, comfortable retirement, save more today.” —Suze Orman
“I love the Roth IRA. Tax free income in retirement is truly a great deal.” _Suze Orman
Photo For the Day
I found this image on line and thought it might reinforce what happens without a good retirement plan. 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.

Time to Lighten Up! Smile


Back by popular demand, today’s blog is about the importance of comic relief in our lives. Once again we will skip the theory and go straight for the application… Enjoy!
The Burglar
A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables when a voice in the dark said,
“Jesus knows you’re here.”
He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more, after a bit, he shook his head and continued. Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard:
“Jesus is watching you.”
Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.
“Did you say that?” he hissed at the parrot.
“Yep,” the parrot confessed, then squawked, “I’m just trying to warn you that he is watching you.”
The burglar relaxed. “Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?”
“Moses,” replied the bird.
“Moses?” the burglar laughed. “What kind of people would name a bird ‘Moses?’”
“The same kind of people who would name a Rottweiler ‘Jesus.’”
One Night in Shannon, Ireland
Young Paddy invited his mother for dinner, during the course of the meal his mother couldn’t help but notice how lovely Paddy’s flat mate, Joanne, was.
She had long been suspicious of a relationship between the two,
and this only made her more curious.
Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact,
she started to wonder if there was more between young Paddy and his flat mate than met the eye.
Reading his mum’s thoughts, Young Paddy volunteered,
‘I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you,
Joanne & I are just flat mates’.
About a week later, Joanne came to young Paddy saying,
‘Ever since your mother came to dinner,
I’ve been unable to find the frying pan, you don’t suppose she took it do you??
‘Well I doubt it, but I’ll e-mail her just to be sure’ said Paddy.
So he sat down and wrote
DEAR MOTHER,
I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU ‘DID’ TAKE THE FRYING PAN FROM MY HOUSE.
I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU ‘DID NOT’ TAKE THE FRYING PAN
BUT THE FACT REMAINS THAT IT HAS BEEN MISSING
EVER SINCE YOU WERE HERE FOR DINNER.?
LOVE, PADDY
Several days later, Paddy received an email from his mother which read
DEAR SON,
I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU ‘DO’ SLEEP WITH JOANNE,
AND I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU ‘DO NOT’ SLEEP WITH JOANNE,
BUT THE FACT REMAINS THAT IF SHE WAS SLEEPING IN HER OWN BED, SHE WOULD HAVE FOUND THE FRYING PAN BY NOW!

LOVE. MAM.

Quotes for the Day
• “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.“ —Lily Tomlin
• “Some guy hit my fender, and I told him, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’ but not in those words.“ —Woody Allen
•“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” —Mae West
• “My wife was afraid of the dark… then she saw me naked and now she’s afraid of the light.” —Rodney Dangerfield
“Depression… is anger without the enthusiasm.” Steven Wright
• “A word to the wise ain’t necessary – it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.” —Bill Cosby
Photo For the Day
I found the photo on the Internet…Somebody had a sense of humor. 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 Belief Systems (Keeping and Open Mind)


The other night I had the opportunity to hear a Peruvian speaker, Renato Longato, talk of his experience as a contactee (apparently not an uncommon experience in Peru). A contactee is someone who has had (conscious) contact with non-human life forms (aka: Aliens). Those who are familiar with the organization called IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences) may be familiar with Edgar Mitchell, not only the founder of IONS, but the 6th Apollo astronaut to walk on the moon.  Years ago he said publically that an alien spacecraft didcrash at Roswell. In 1996 the Vatican (who has several observatories around the world) stated publically that “ET’s our brothers” (humm!) Each week, astronomers make public announcements of newly discovered planets outside our solar system (some even in the Goldie Locks zone). In giving an historical perspective of well-documented UFO history, Friday night’s speaker shared a few things that I felt worth sharing as well:
• We are not alone in the universe, we never have been.
• Aliens (from various star systems) have been visiting planet Earth for millennia.
• Several governments around the world (except ours) have released their files about UFO activity. Don’t hold your breath about the US files.
• Geomagnetic solar flares affect consciousness on planet Earth
• The human race has got to come together to solve our world problems (e.g. Global warming, nuclear power, etc) and we are at critical time to act
• Aliens are not going to save us from ourselves (Prime Directive), yet they are extremely concerned at the slow rate of progress/consciousness.
Stress Tip for The Day:
How strong is your belief system? How flexible is your belief system?  How you answer these questions might just predict your stress levels when the appearance of our space brothers becomes common place which, very likely, will happen in your lifetime. When a person’s belief system (faith) crumbles, the earth shakes (metaphorically) beneath his or her feet. STRESS! In an attempt to understand, one begins to question reality, every aspect of it. It can be a very stressful time. But it doesn’t have to be. It is important for each of us to question our beliefs every now and then, and see if they still hold water.  It is also very important to be open to new information, insights and experiences that add to our life experience; in this case, the bigger picture! The speaker from Peru invited us to cultivate a healthy cosmology as up-coming events begis to nudge people see things differently (perhaps). Time to open your mind.
Links, Movies and Books of Note:
There is no shortage of books on this topic, but here is a link to a show made my Disney (but pulled shortly thereafter) in 1998 or so. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHunekX1xPw&feature=share
Quotes of the Day:
“If they are not an advanced race from the future, are we dealing instead with a parallel universe, another dimension where there are other human races living, and where we may go at our expense, never to return to the present? ”– Jacques Vallee
Photograph of the Day
Sorry, I don’t have any photos of UFOs. I don’t have any of Sasquatch either…. But I have seen a UFO (near Machu Picchu Peru, common as squirrels they say). I took this photo of the moon, Venus and Mars in my back yard last year…. 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 8-Minute Dinner


A story on NPR last week spoke to the problems Americans have with regard to planning, cooking and eating meals, specifically dinner. In trying to understand the obesity epidemic various people were interviewed. To no surprise, the vast majority of people questioned said they didn’t have time to prepare meals the way they wished. Long days at the office followed by picking up kids at their various enrichment programs left moms (and dads) with enough time to nuke some prepackaged meals in the microwave or worse, trips to the fast food drive up window. Several kids stated they usually don’t eat dinner till 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. YIKES! Processed foods, junk foods or comfort foods contain very little in the way of nutrients (hence the expression: empty calories). Moreover, these processed foods are stocked with refined sugar, salt and fat. The conclusion to be drawn from this series is that lifestyles greatly impact eating behaviors and not always for the better. Secondly, Americans cram their lives with too many activities, short changing eating and sleeping, two aspects when in a deficit,  great affect one’s health status. Many people in the story explained they have dinner time down to 8 minutes so they can squeeze in everything else. My thought is this: If you only have time for an 8-minute dinner, there are more problems going on than how to prepare a meal. Time to reevaluate your life.
Stress Tip for the Day:
Back in the 70’s (perhaps earlier) people began to cook with crockpots. Although today it may seem like a dated technology, the use of crock pots (great for stews, soups, chili and many other culinary delights) is a great way to eat nutritious meals. With little effort, you can throw ingredients into a crock pot and let it simmer all day (while you are work). When you come home, the meal is hot and nutritious. The time you save can be spent having a decent 30-minute conversation with your family (no conversation of any great depth can happen in 8 mins). Please consider getting and using a crock pot as a beneficial time management technique.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Here are some links with more information about crock pots, and some recipes to go with them.
http://busycooks.about.com/od/slowcookerrecipes/a/crockpot101.htm
http://busycooks.about.com/od/slowcookerrecipes/a/crockpot101.htm
Quote for the Day
“There is no app to increase the number of hours in a day, so you have to learn to manage time better yourself.”  —Anonymous
Photo For the Day
On the menu this week are heaping portions of turkey stew, as seen here brewing away in my crock pot. Yum! 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.

Dreams and Their Meanings


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


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


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.
http://www.noplaceonearthfilm.com/
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.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Filters of the Mind


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


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


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://glutenfreenetwork.com/faqs/symptoms-treatments/gluten-intolerance-symptoms-how-do-you-know-if-gluten-is-making-you-sick/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten_sensitivity
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/celiac-disease/features/gluten-intolerance-against-grain
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.

The Iceberg Mind: Stress and The Unconscious

I just finished a book titled, Subliminal, by Leonard Mlodinow. The premise of the book is that our behavior is governed by our unconscious mind. We may THINK we know why we do what we do, but more often than not, we haven’t a clue. Consider these interesting facts highlighted in the book: People give bigger tips at lunch to restaurant servers when the sun is shining, than when it’s cloudy. People will order a higher priced entrée if the server touches the shoulder of the customer compared to no physical contact. Colors and music in various stores can make people linger longer (and, of course buy more things). Humm! In the 1960’s a major shift occurred—from studying the dynamics of the unconscious mind toward the study of pharmaceuticals and brain chemistry. All that lurked below the surface of the iceberg was (once again) ignored. After the invention of the Functional MRI (fMRI) there became this HUGE fascination with brain physiology particularly when it’s engaged in a whole host of activities, from drinking Coke or Pepsi to (I kid you not) what brain activity looks like during orgasm (I’m just the messenger). It should be made clear that there are two schools of thought about the mind. The first suggests that the mind is a consequence of brain physiology. The second suggests that the mind acts independently from the brain (e.g., near death and out of body experiences), but uses the brain, as it’s primary organ of choice. The author of Subliminalresides in the first camp, yet he does agree that the unconscious mind indeed rules behavior. This goes well beyond Coke, Pepsi and orgasms to how we deal with stress.
Stress Tip for the Day
Regardless of what “mind camp” you reside in, for better or worse, your unconscious mind plays a huge role in how you cope with stress. Research in meditation (yup, that too, has been looked at with fMRIs) shows that the act of meditation not only calms your thought processes, but shifts the brain waves from Alpha (highly active) to Theta (highly conscious, but very relaxed). Mystics remind us that meditation is a way to “domesticate the ego” so that we can respond, not react to our problems. Although fMRI research has not located the ego in the brain (but the Amygdala could be good starting point), they have located a portion of the brain associated with mystical experiences (now called the God part of the brain), which by the way, does not appear to be active during periods of intense stress!) Meditation, it is said, helps to make the unconscious mind conscious. This is truly a good thing, because it allows you to navigate your life journey by avoiding the shoals that can cause metaphorical shipwrecks. Psychologist Carl Jung spent his whole career studying the unconscious mind. His advice is as sound today as it was many decades ago; learn to speak the language of the unconscious mind: colors, metaphors, symbols, stories, archetypes and dream fragments. By doing so you become whole. If you don’t meditate…today is a great day to start. Find a quiet place, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, that’s OK. Just focus your attention back to your breathing. Try to do this for 5-10 mins.. then tomorrow … the same thing.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Here are some links to some interesting fMRI studies, the first with a video:
http://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2012/02/14/a-study-of-peoples-ability-to-love/
http://www.news.wisc.edu/14944
The book, Subliminal, has a lot of interesting data from current fMRI studies, even some new  data from interesting classic psychology studies on human behavior, but I would recommend books by the current leading expert in the field of psychology on the unconscious mind, Eldon Taylor, including Choices and Illusions.
By the way, the use of subliminal messages in advertising is illegal, BUT there is no penalty for it… so draw your own conclusions on this (smile).
Quote for the Day:
“Modern man is sick because he is not whole.” —Carl G. Jung
“The unconscious mind of man sees clearly even when conscious reason is blind and impotent.” — Carl G. Jung
Photo For the Day
When I was in Greenland in 2009 filming Earth Songs, I had the great fortune to photograph/film many (huge) Icebergs. True to form, the majority of each berg is below the surface, much like the mind. Here is one of my favorite images. 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 Art of Apologies


In a time and age where egos clash daily and everyone is vying for their 15 minutes of fame, we begin to see the ugly side of humanity…sadly, all too often. Take Lance Armstrong, for example. The simple truth is that when we make a mistake we need to apologize (and quickly). The delay of seeking forgiveness only becomes heavy emotional baggage. It is stress: fear (beginning with embarrassment, but progressing toward arrogance) that keeps us from righting the wrongs that we commit again our fellow humans, not to mention ourselves. Perhaps most importantly, the remorse of an apology needs to be sincere. If you happened to watch Lance Armstrong’s event last week (with Oprah), then you saw an excellent example of how NOT to make an apology. From a spiritual perspective, those people who have had a near death experience often come back to explain the need to offer apologies to those people they have wronged. It seems that it’s best (and perhaps easiest) to do it now, and the sooner the better.
Stress Tip for the Day
In the A.A. movement, there is a step in the recovery process called “making amends.” In the Jewish tradition this is called Atonement. Every culture has a strategy for seeking peace and reconciliation. You don’t have to be a member of AA to start making amends. Is there someone whom you have been unkind toward, someone whom you have violated their trust or human spirit? Now is the time to offer an apology. If it is too hard to do it face to face, then consider writing a letter. The Golden Rule applies to apologies too.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
This article in the Wall Street Journal provides some great tips on how to make an apology the right way.. it is highly worth reading.
http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/01/18/why-lance-armstrongs-apology-was-just-plain-sorry/
Quote for the Day:
“A stiff apology is a second insult… the injured part does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged. He wants to be healed because he is hurt.” — Gilbert Chesterton
Photo For the Day
Using a photo of cyclists was an easy choice, but not a wise choice, so instead I selected a nice photo of a waterfall in Ohio… taken many years ago. Water is a symbol of spirit, where things move in a natural rhythm, when one apologies, then the rhythm of life returns to a more natural flow… 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 your Skin


I am here in sunny Florida enjoying the weather, talking to a colleague of mine, and the topic of skin cancer comes up quickly in a conversation.  Being of fair skin and blue eyes, I pay attention to these comments. Here are some things I learned that I think everyone should know: Arizona has the highest rate of skin cancer. Colorado has the second highest rate. Florida is further down the list. There is a 5% increase in skin cancer for every 1,000 feet of elevation (This begins to explain why people at sea level has less skin cancer, as a rule than those say, in Arizona and Colorado who live a mile higher). Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Your skin is the second organ of choice for elimination (your GI tract is the first), however your skin also has the ability to absorb various substances directly into the bloodstream. Your skin cells replace themselves about every 30 days or so. Your skin is said to be a mirror of your small intestine, meaning if you GI track has problems, it will show up in/on your skin. Stress can also affect your skin, particularly with acne blemishes. Sunblock may block ultraviolet rays, but the chemical compounds in sunblock may be absorbed into your skin… causing problems down the road. Take note! Skin cancer is defined as abnormal growth of skin cells. Note: skin cancer can appear on areas of the body that are NEVER exposed to sunlight. Many skin care products are made from petro-chemicals which are eventually absorbed into the body and may cause problems elsewhere (including back to the skin). The consumption of essential oils (omega 3’s and 6’s) is beneficial to your skin as well.  May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Take care of your skin every day!
Stress Tip for the Day
When outside, no mater what elevation, wear a hat and protective clothing if you are out for more than 30 minutes. Remember your ears too! Don’t be afraid of the sunlight (sunshine on your skin helps create Vitamin D), but don’t be cavalier either. The most hazardous time to be out in the sun (due to ultra violate light is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. —depending on time of year and latitude, of course). Be mindful of how much time you spend outdoors, particularly if you are fair skinned (and have blue eyes or red hair). Consider getting a full body check-up by a certified dermatologist every year after the age of 30. There are different types of skin cancers (see links below). Finally, tanning booths are a stupid idea. Be smart.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
This first link lists the various types of skin cancer:
http://www.dermatology.ucsf.edu/skincancer/professionals/types.aspx
Here is more info on skin cancer detection
http://www.medicinenet.com/skin_cancer/article.htm
Quote for the Day:
“Pale is the new tan.” — Melanoma Skin Cancer Foundation
Photo For the Day
Rather than posting a Florida beach scene, reinforcing a perception of fun in the sun, here is a photo of a White Egret gracefully flying by, and I was in awe of its beauty today. Enjoy and have a great weekend.
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.

Neuroplasticity of Your Brain


Through the use of Functional MRI research, scientists have discovered some remarkable insights of the human brain. Prior to this time it was pretty much understood that the number of brain cells were established at birth and could never increase. Now we know differently. Researchers like Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, who have studied (via fMRI) the brains of Buddhist monks, have come to understand that our brains are not static, but quite dynamic. Not only can new brain cells form, but the neurological connections between cells can be created  and reinforced, by our thoughts (in the case of meditation, our non-thoughts.)  Emotions too! The term used to describe the pliable nature of our brains is neuorplasticity. In essence, we create a nervous system “training effect” with regard to our thought processes, much like an athlete creates brain to muscle neural pathways. The act of repeated meditation can create one training effect (a very positive one). Multi-tasking, via technology, can create quite another.  Nicholas Carr, author of the book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, suggests that the repeated, if not addictive, use of the Internet is altering the circuitry of the brain, and not in a good way. Repeated distractions create a paved super highway of brain neurons resulting in a decreased attention span, poor memory and dull right brain thinking skills. The result of Internet overuse (addiction) is a brain engaged in a perpetual fight or flight response.
Stress Tip for the Day
There is no doubt that we live in a culture of distractions, not the least of which includes Facebook, text messaging, emails and all other forms of social media. To find balance in the high tech world, make a concerted effort to practice meditation. Learn to sit quietly, in an unplugged environment and allow your mind to relax. By doing so you create and strenghten neural pathways in your brain to navigate a more peaceful, well-balanced life.
Links, Books and/or Movies Worth Noting:
Nicholas Carr wrote an excellent article on the topic of the Internet and the brain in this Atlantic article…. Does Google Make Us Stupid?
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/
If you wish to know more about the wonders of our brain, here are a few links of interest:
http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/02/26/brain-plasticity-how-learning-changes-your-brain/
Quote for the Day:

“Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball or master a musical instrument, and that such practice changes the activity and physical aspects of the specific brain areas.” —Andy Weil, MD.

 

Photo For the Day
After a wonderful hike up Ireland’s sacred mountain, Crough Patrick, (near the town of Westport), some of us took some time to meditate on the beauty before our eyes. Here is Matt being very mindful of this mystical experience. Thanks Matt (and everyone that joined us that day!) 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.

Do You Suffer From Social Jet-lag?


Over the weekend I read an interesting article in the Smithsonian magazine (their most recent issue). Till Rosenberg, a professor at the University of Michigan, has noted that a great many people report symptoms similar in nature to that of jet lag, but the catch is that they haven’t been on planes. A closer examination revealed that their body clocks are quite off, primarily from the lack of sleep. Rosenberg explains that people see sleep as a “luxury,” rather than a necessity. NOT! By and large, people have to get up at the same time to go to work, so they shave off hours on the front end in the evening. Combine this fact that people spend less time outside, under the influence of natural sunlight, and you have a recipe for social jet lag. (time may be flying, but remember, we are in the driver seat). Our bodies DO have a natural clock, known in science circles as our circadian rhythms. When these rhymths are thrown off, it becomes quite stressful to the body, including a great compromise to the immune system. In fact, a great many hormonal processes. Scientists think our body’s clock is located in the hypothalamus (which also regulates the fight or flight response) Take note! If your body clock is off, you will more prone for fits of anger and anxiety. What is the cause of hitting the hay later these days? The consensus seems to be our love affair with technology, specifically, social media, hence the term, “social jet-lag.”
Stress Tip for the Day
Do you feel like you are being pulled in a million different directions with not enought time for yourself? Do you spend to much time on-line? Do you take your smart phone or tablet to bed with you? Do you feel like your 24 hr body clock needs a tune up?  It’s not to late to make a new year’s resolution to get your full 8 hours of sleep each night. This means in bed by 10:00 p.m, if you get up at 6:00 a.m. While you’re at it, make a second goal not to bring your smart phone in the bedroom. Anything that’s important can wait till morning. Really!
Links, Books and/or Movies of Note:
Here is the article mentioned above:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Your-Alarm-Clock-May-Be-Hazardous-to-Your-Health-183826751.html
Here is one more article about the addictive nature of smart phones:
http://mashable.com/2012/12/12/martphone-obsessed-generation-y/
Quote of the Day
“The circadian clock must be rewound every day to keep operating. Sleep has not been put out there by evolution as a time when we’re lazy. It’s a time when we’re preparing to be extremely active.” —T. Rosenberg.
Photo of the Day
Exercise also helps keep our body clocks in check, particularly if we exercise outside. I took this photo on Hanalei Bay last month… 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.

Fracking, Stress and Your Food: Oh My!


Over the holidays a good friend sent me an award winning documentary movie to watch called Gasland; a film about hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.  Much of the movie was filmed out west, some of which included footage from a town 20 miles east of where I live. Like most environmental films these days, it leaves one a little numb. I thought it essential to mention a few points that are made in the movie (points I also heard mention independently on a recent NPR story as well.) Gas and oil companies use over 100 chemicals (many of them quite toxic) in the fracking process to acquire natural gas. And like McDonald’s “secret sauce,” they are not required to list these publically, despite the fact that these chemicals seep into people’s drinking water making them quite sick, many with neurological diseases and cancer. One Wyoming rancher was quoted as saying,  “Our cattle have to drink this water or they will die. And this beef, loaded with toxins, ends up on your dinner plate all across America.” Fancy that! This gives a whole new meaning to consider being a vegetarian, something that I am strongly recommending. The bottom line is that our food supply is in trouble, and not just cattle. Our water supply is in deep trouble, too. It is very likely that your body is stressed with toxic chemicals that over time accumulate to a critical mass creating a healthy crisis. (on a similar but independent note, Boulder based Florence Williams, author of the book, Breasts, discovered that she had traces of jet fuel in her breast milk. Yikes!) Time to wake up about our energy policies and the dangers they promote.
Stress Tip for The Day:
Decades ago I learned that it takes nearly 500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of hamburger. (WOW!) Today water is in short supply, making this effort seem rather stupid.  (You won’t believe how much water is needed in the fracking process). When I learned how chickens are raised in factory farms I decided to strip that from my diet as well (with the exception of free range, and even then). With all of this in mind, please consider moving toward a vegetarian diet by eating meat once, perhaps twice a week, if that at all. Please really think “organic” when buying your food. And…while we have just started winter, consider planning your own veggie garden this spring/summer. Finally,  become educated about the promise and dangers of fracking, even if it’s not in your area, because everyone is affected by this—everybody. Think globally, act locally, as they say…
Links and Books of Note:
If you haven’t seen the documentary film, Gasland, I highly recommend it. http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats-fracking
Here are a few more links of possible interest:
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/11/fracking-new-york-cuomo
http://www.dangersoffracking.com/
Hollywood has it’s own take on fracking with the new Matt Damon movie release called Promised Land, and the gas and oil companies are furious. Perhaps they should be.

Quote of the Day:
“The scientific analysis that is supposed to provide our Governor the facts and information he needs to make a crucial decision was crafted with the guidance of the gas industry, not of the state’s scientists.” – Sandra Steingraber, speaking to the NY Senate Democratic Conference
Photograph of the Day
Today’s photo was taken a few days ago as the full moon set over the Colorado Rockies. Enjoy! Oh yeah, Happy New Year!
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.