A mindfulness student recently experienced her body as beautiful during a body scan in class. You may already have a positive self-
Your compassionate human desire to take good care of others is critical to the well-
You and I have two primary modes of mental activity: the doing mode and the being mode. Although we are called human beings, we spend the majority of our time in the doing mode rather than the being mode. Your “doing” mode is highly prized in our culture for schooling, work and career. It demonstrates your mastery and command of detail, data, thinking, intellect and your goal-
Most people say the gift of sight is their most valuable sense perception – and almost everyone experiences decline in visual function with aging. B One of the most common symptoms of aging is the decline in accommodation, the process by which the eye changes (accommodates) focus to maintain a clear image of objects at different distances. This decline often begins before age 50 years. Accommodation acts like an automatic reflex, but it can also be consciously controlled.
The holiday season is filled with emotion for most people. While this emotion is often happy, positive and loving, for many people it can be very unhappy and even depressing. Holiday music can trigger emotional associations with the absence of a loved one or unhappy memories from the past. The gap between the smiling faces of holiday ads and one’s unhappy emotional experience can actually lead to a deepening of the emotional darkness that often accompanies this season of lights.
As you approach the new year, you may be making resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Birthdays and other anniversaries also prompt us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Two of the most common promises we make to ourselves are to increase our physical activity level and our stress management skills. Research is now showing that combining mindfulness meditation and physical activity can dramatically improve physical and emotional health.
Anger can be a healthy emotional response or a serious health risk. Managing anger appropriately does not require that we deny it, repress it or get completely rid of it. Brief, mild-
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is the world’s premier nutrition education resource. Harvard Medical School and the Department of Nutrition at HSPH developed the Healthy Eating Plate to provide the general public with up-
Both my parents experienced the sudden change in life’s priorities associated with the diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Suddenly, things that have occupied our mind, time and energy are reappraised in light of a stark reminder of life’s uncertainty and our mortality. Hope is kept alive by modern medicine’s remarkable results with conventional treatments and the fact that some individuals do much better than expected, even with serious and advanced cancer.
Yoga can be fun and healthy for you and your kids – physically, mentally and emotionally.What is yoga? The word “yoga” means to yoke, unite, connect or join together. Yoga helps connect the body, mind, heart and emotions. It can also help connect you to other people, animals, trees and all of nature. We tend to think of physical movements and body postures when we think of yoga. Yoga looks like exercise, but its intent is very different. Physical hatha yoga is traditionally performed as a means of .....
Where is your attention when you eat? Do you love the pleasure of eating so much that you overeat from sheer enjoyment rather than from physiologic hunger cues? Do you overeat as a self-
Being disconnected from or being self-
For many people, there is a relationship between stress and oral health. The presence of oral disease and dental disorders can cause stress from low self-
The three primary domains of your overall fitness are physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-
Surely one of the best things about modern science is the discovery that chocolate can actually be good medicine! Chocolate As Preventive Medicine? Cocoa contains phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called flavanols that may help protect you against coronary heart disease (heart attacks). Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains two to three times the amount of these beneficial plant chemicals. A possible mechanism by which flavanols protect the heart may be enhancing.....
A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life. Modern medical, radiation and surgical treatments have led to a growing population of cancer survivors, who now number over 12 million, or one in 25 Americans. Lifestyle choices such as health-
Is it necessary, or even safe, to take an antibiotic for your next illness? This question is becoming a routine part of conversations between consumers and health providers. The way we answer this question has serious implications. Consumers and health care providers are both being urged to help achieve the goals of good medicine and public health: making a correct diagnosis, using antibiotics only if the diagnosis war-
I will never forget my patient who developed Type 1, insulin-
What to Eat? The world’s leading nutrition researchers are sending a very clear public health message based on the best scientific evidence available: To promote health, prevent disease and extend life, half your food servings should come from fruits and vegetables. For more than 70 years, the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has conducted rigorous scientific research on the relationship between food and health.
In addition to cold weather, winter sometimes brings sadness and depression. Some people experience depression only during the winter. Others with year-
The fast pace of modern life is taking its toll on our mental and physical health. Multiple surveys in the past year have documented an alarming increase in perceived stress, anxiety, depression and suicide. Our health – our very lives – depend on our ability to manage stress in healthy ways at home, at work, in traffic, in relationships – and simply inside our own skin. We need simple tools to bring some calm to the chaos – some peace to the frenzy – some kindness to the aggression and competition.
A recent American Psychiatric Association poll found anxiety in Americans has increased sharply over the past year, up five points since 2017. Also in the past year, a Blue Cross Blue Shield report found major depression has risen by 33 percent since 2013. This rate is rising even faster among millennials (up 47 percent) and adolescents (up 47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls).
Are you a victim of the epidemic of stress we are experiencing as a nation? We have a serious public health epidemic. Public health officials are increasingly alarmed by the growing epidemic of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide in America. The American Psychological Association recently found more than half of Americans said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history they can remember.(1) An American Psychiatric Association poll found anxiety levels in…
Human beings are social creatures by our very nature. We depend on each other. We need each other. Even though we may feel self-
Hearing and listening are often confused. Hearing is one of the five major sense perceptions, along with seeing, tasting, smelling and touching. We use the sense of hearing when we are in conversation with another person and we may refer to that elemental sense of hearing as listening. But listening also has a much deeper meaning. In the corporate world and the medical and psychological sciences, the quality of active listening or deep listening is recognized as a critical element in interpersonal….
As our annual holiday of giving comes to an end, we often begin a new year full of hopes, intentions and resolutions to take better care of ourselves. Many of us also vow to take better care of others. We want to be more kind. But it’s hard to be more kind to others when we feel our own cup of kindness is running low or is completely empty. It is difficult or impossible to relieve the suffering of others without first wisely managing our own suffering. Self-
You may have recently made 2019 resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Each new birthday and each new year often prompts us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits of mind and body. Two of the most common promises I hear are to increase exercise/physical activity and learn to manage stress in a healthy way.
Recent surveys describe an alarming level of stress in the United States. Anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide are increasing – not just in adults, but also in children and youth. Public health officials and educators are looking for ways to limit the harm caused by the fast pace of modern life and the endless stream of disturbing news. Mindfulness practice has emerged as an important tool that can benefit children, teachers and parents.
Just relax! It sounds so simple, but it isn’t necessarily easy. There are many unskillful, unhealthy ways to relax. But you can achieve significant cardiovascular and other health benefits from the regular practice of skillful relaxation for stress management. One of the best ways to skillfully relax is by practicing the Relaxation Response. Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson coined the phrase “relaxation response” after studying meditation’s affects on cardiovascular disease….
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is your best resource for evidence supporting the combination of mainstream medicine with safe, effective complementary approaches for health promotion, disease prevention and the treatment of acute and chronic conditions.
Children and teens are experiencing increasing levels of stress. Parents and teachers are struggling to understand the sources of this stress and find ways to help manage it. Those same parents and teachers have their own increasing levels of worry, fear, anxiety, depression and chronic stress-
By our very nature, human beings are craving creatures. Cravings can occur in response to natural physiologic needs such as hunger, thirst and social contact. Cravings can also become unhealthy habits in response to emotional cues such as anxiety, depression, anger, grief or loneliness. Mindfulness can help us take control of our wants, needs, urges and cravings so we can stop being controlled by them.
Cancer survivor” refers to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer from the time of diagnosis through the rest of their life. Early cancer detection and improved treatments, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapies, bone marrow and stem cell transplants, have led to a growing population of cancer survivors, which now exceeds 12 million, or 1 in 25 Americans.
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You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time. – M. Scott Peck, M.D., psychiatrist (1936-
Hearing and listening are often confused. Hearing is one of the five major sense perceptions, along with seeing, tasting, smelling and touching. We use the sense of hearing when we are in conversation with another person and we may refer to that elemental sense of hearing as listening. But listening also has a much deeper meaning. In the corporate world and the medical and psychological sciences, the quality of active listening or deep listening is recognized as a critical element in interpersonal communication at work, at home and in the clinical encounter.
Are Sounds Really a Barrier to Contemplation?
Another common misunderstanding about hearing is that sounds are a barrier to meditation, prayer, mindfulness or other contemplative
practices. While it may be pleasant to engage in such practices in a completely quiet and peaceful environment, it isn’t always possible and it certainly isn’t necessary.
While it is delightful to have the luxury of quiet for such practices, it is sometimes simply not possible to control external sounds. We will sometimes (perhaps often) find we are practicing meditation, prayer, mindfulness or other contemplative practices in a setting that involves sounds – maybe a lot of sounds. Anyone living in a busy urban environment knows this very well. This has actually been described as an asset to practice. Contemplative traditions suggest external sounds can actually be an asset to one’s internal practice, calling it good fortune to practice under adverse circumstances. The analogy is that adversity builds character or we sharpen the blade with the grit of the stone.
Paying Attention to Sound
Mindfulness practice acknowledges sounds as universal companions to meditation. We can disempower sounds as a barrier to meditation by formally using them as a focal point of our mindfulness practice. Rather than reacting to
sounds (whether bodily sounds or indoor or outdoor sounds) as obstacles to our mindfulness practice, we actually place our attention on them in a friendly, non-
Letting Go of Sound
More often, the focus of our mindfulness practice may be on something other than sound, such as the physical sensations of breathing or the whole body. In this practice, we may consider sounds to be an obstacle to successful practice or a good meditation. The instruction is to simply notice the normal wandering “monkey mind” has veered off from our breath or body onto sounds and reactive thoughts such as, “If only it was quiet – then I could meditate.”
This is a very important moment in our practice. Rather than this habitual, self-
After all, mindfulness involves practicing paying attention – using the breath and the body to train the mind to pay attention. Eventually, this skill can be applied to every moment of our lives – under all circumstances – alone and with others.
Listening With the Ears of the Heart
You know how it feels to be interrupted frequently by someone you are speaking to. You may even interrupt others yourself. This is sometimes unhelpful and can even be unkind. We really can’t fully understand what another person is saying if we are thinking about our response while they are speaking and cutting them off mid-
Hearing and listening can be pathways to living a mindful life. Mindful hearing and listening can sometimes even feel like gold has been discovered.
Sources and Resources
Dr. John Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Saybrook University’s School of Mind Body Medicine (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, D.C.). He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative medicine consultations