Meditation Compassion Mindfulness
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Improving Self and Society
Curated by Pamir Kiciman
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Laughter Sets off Brain Wave Patterns Similar to Meditation

Laughter Sets off Brain Wave Patterns Similar to Meditation | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Laughter -- the real kind associated with genuine joy and mirth -- sets off brain wave patterns quite similar to those generated when experienced meditators ply their mindfulness skills, a new study finds.


Researchers know that when hooked up to an electroencephalograph, which measures electrical activity among neurons in the brain, those practiced in the art of meditation are able to achieve a brain state of what is called gamma brain wave activity: In it, virtually all of the brain's higher cortical regions begin to operate on a common frequency, somewhere in the 30- to 40-hertz bandwidth.


Unlike the dreamless sleep in which alpha brain waves sweep across the brain, or the cacophony of alert mental activity associated with beta brain waves, gamma waves tend to be synchronous throughout the brain. It's the brain wave pattern associated with cognitive "flow," with being "in the zone," with the highest state of cognitive processing. And the gamma brain wave state is as pleasurable as it is powerful: The neurochemical dopamine, the fuel of the brain's reward circuitry, flows freely when gamma waves prevail.

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How Long Should Adults Nap?

How Long Should Adults Nap? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
It turns out that the length of time you nap can impact the health benefits you gain from your snooze.

 

Around the world, the midday siesta is not just accepted, it's a part of the culture, built in to the afternoon for as long as anyone can remember. And recent neuroscience backs up this ancient knowledge; that not only can a 20-minute rest relax your body and mind, but it can also refresh you more fully than a cup of coffee for the afternoon ahead. 

 

In fact, not only will you feel better, naps can actually make you smarter, by giving your brain a reset in the middle of the day. 

 

“Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley in a university bulletin. 

 

It's research like this that has led some companies to promote nap time for hardworking employees. Companies from Apple to the Huffington Post to Google promote the practice.

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How Working Late Is Harming Your Brain

How Working Late Is Harming Your Brain | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Working late on a project? Why staying up all night is the worst thing you can do.

 

When running up against a deadline, pulling an all-nighter may seem your only option to complete a project, but a recent study published in the Swedish journal, Sleep showed that, rather than boosting productivity, staying up all night is actually harmful to your brain.

 

The researchers measured blood levels of certain proteins associated with brain injuries such as concussions and found protein levels were 20% higher in those who pulled all-nighters compared to when they got a full night's rest. Although not as high as protein levels post-concussion, the study proves skimping on sleep can do real brain damage.

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How Does the Brain Process Forgiveness?

How Does the Brain Process Forgiveness? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

If you forgive a violent offender, are you a fool? If you forgive your abusive spouse, are you highly evolved? If you forgive the doctor who made a terrible medical mistake, are you a chump or a champion? What does brain science tell us—is forgiveness healthy or unhealthy?

 

The part of the brain associated with resolving anger is the same part that involves empathy and regulating emotions. Research shows that there is a neuronal foundation for the idea that resolving conflict and granting mercy are good for the brain and result in positive emotional states.

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Layne Arlina's curator insight, June 24, 2014 7:27 AM

True forgiveness isn't easy when we are attached to the trauma. When we work on releasing the pain and view the higher aspect, then compassion for that troubled being washes over you. Forgiveness is not about turing the other cheek, nor about forgiving the action but about releasing the 'perpetrator', and yourself, from your inner prison x

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Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound

Healing Your Mother (or Father) Wound | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

If you choose to follow the path of meditation, you are likely to encounter what are sometimes referred to as your "karmic knots" — those physical and emotional traumas you have accumulated throughout your lifetime.

There is one category of karmic knot that may be especially hard for you to deal with, as it is for many people. This is the emotional — some would say psychological trauma that may have occurred within your family of origin. It may involve your mother, father, or both.

 

This trauma may have been caused by a parent who was absent or overbearing, who committed inappropriate actions or failed to take positive action, or who took too little or too much interest in you. Or it may have been the interactions between your parents that was traumatizing to you. In meditation it is all grist for the mill of mindfulness.

 

A trauma involving the mother or father is sometimes referred to as a "wound" because it damages the body-mind, needs proper healing, and often leaves a scar or weakness in your body or emotional makeup.

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

 

"But sooner or later, the wound can carry us toward its own remedy, if we only let it."

 

— Henry Shukman

 

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Layne Arlina's curator insight, June 24, 2014 7:19 AM

Today whilst giving myself Reiki, my estranged father came through. He's been in my thoughts a lot recently and I've a feeling he' now bears guilt and regret about his life choices. I have no contact with my father and don't wish to change that, but spiritually I can make peace.

 

I was once told by a wonderful Healer named 'Halaya Samrisa Begody', 'You cannot heal without your father'. I fiercely rejected this at the time as I 'knew' he could never be a father to me and I could never forgive him for the pain he has caused. Shocked, angry and confused, I thought loudly to myself, 'No way in hell! She doesn't have a clue!'

 

A couple of years back, I joined a Family Constellations workshop with 'Liz Sleeper', not really knowing what was in store. I unexpectedly broke into tiny pieces as I watched a story that was much like the life of my fathers, played our by strangers. Pain stricken I sobbed uncontrollably as I was wildly awoken to the world outside of my own. For the first time I truly 'saw' my father. I now understand my father a lot deeper and I feel for him. Without actively trying, simply through compassion, I have begun to forgive him. 

 

I realise now that by rejecting my father, I reject myself. To fully heal I need to accept all parts of myself, even the difficult parts. No matter how painful the memory, if we look to the source their lies the solution. Im  gradually healing by allowing myself to live through the pain, to learn from it, to grow from it, as a deeper form of love develops for my father, and thus for myself.

 

I was regularly rejected by my father but I no longer reject myself.

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Sit More, And You're More Likely To Be Disabled After Age 60

Sit More, And You're More Likely To Be Disabled After Age 60 | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
People tend to relax as they get older, and most people sit more. Each extra hour of sitting increases the odds that they won't be able to get out of bed or do other daily activities.

 

The more you sit, the less physically active you are, which can lead to all sorts of health problems, including an early death.

 

But too much sitting increasingly looks like a health risk all its own. Researchers at Northwestern University say that for people 60 and older, each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get.

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Pete Carroll Makes All Seahawks Players Take Yoga And Meditate

Pete Carroll Makes All Seahawks Players Take Yoga And Meditate | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

The Seahawks believe their kinder, gentler philosophy is the future of football.

 

The big idea is that happy players make for better players. Everyone in the facility, from coaches and players to personal assistants and valets, is expected to follow Carroll's mantras regarding positivity of thought, words and actions. "Do your job better than it has ever been done before," he tells them. Yelling and swearing are frowned upon, and every media interview with a player or coach ends with a thank-you to the reporter. And in a trial program entering its second year, a group of 15 to 20 players is undergoing Neurotopia brain-performance testing and has worked with Gervais to create status profiles -- updated every week on an iPad app -- of what's going on in their lives, how much sleep they're getting, their goals and how they're dealing with stressors.

 

Offensive tackle Russell Okung raves about the program Pete has in place, saying that meditating is now one of the most vital parts of his training.

 

“Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” Okung said. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

For all who have rescooped this or anyone trying to read the full article, I had linked to a text-only version but that service is not available. Here's the original on ESPN:

 

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9581925/seattle-seahawks-use-unusual-techniques-practice-espn-magazine

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Research Finds Gratitude Works Like a Muscle, with Tangible Benefits for Kids Who are Thankful

Research Finds Gratitude Works Like a Muscle, with Tangible Benefits for Kids Who are Thankful | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Giving thanks is no longer just holiday fare. A field of research on gratitude in kids is emerging, and early findings indicate parents' instincts to elevate the topic are spot-on. Concrete benefits come to kids who literally count their blessings.

 

Gratitude works like a muscle. Take time to recognize good fortune, and feelings of appreciation can increase. Even more, those who are less grateful gain the most from a concerted effort. "Gratitude treatments are most effective in those least grateful," says Eastern Washington University psychology professor Philip Watkins.

 

Among a group of 122 elementary school kids taught a weeklong curriculum on concepts around giving, gratitude grew, according to a study due to be published in 2014 in School Psychology Review. The heightened thankfulness translated into action: 44% of the kids in the curriculum opted to write thank-you notes when given the choice following a PTA presentation. In the control group, 25% wrote notes.

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To Make Healthier Choices, Color-Code Your Food (Green Means Go!)

To Make Healthier Choices, Color-Code Your Food (Green Means Go!) | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Color-coding food by healthfulness really does steer people toward better choices, researchers say.

 

Sounds like a gimmick that could get me to pick the Brussels sprouts over the sweet potato fries for about week and then start to wear off, right? Not quite, says primary care physician .

 

The colorful cues not only helped hospital employees skip the sugary sodas, fattening pizzas and calorie-rich desserts at first, but the healthier eating lasted for the entire two years of the study, her team reports Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

 

In addition to using the traffic-light labels, Thorndike and her team also rearranged the snacks and beverages in the cafeteria so that the most healthful options were in the front and at eye level.

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The Psychology of Santa Claus

The Psychology of Santa Claus | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Parents lie to their kids about a mysterious, bearded gift-giver, only to set them up for inevitable heartbreak. Except, it's not so simple.

 

In second grade I asked my mom how Santa could make so many public appearances on such a tight schedule. Not every Santa was the actual Santa, she said, they were just guys that the real Santa asked to help him out. How logical, I thought, Santa is a busy man.

 

That’s the sort of loving lie parents tell their kids about Santa. It’s a pretty easy lie to tell. An ingrained part of our culture, talking to kids about Santa feels, if you think about it, weirdly normal. Letting children use their imaginations to conjure this image is healthy, psychologists argue, saying that the practice is what will later help them dream up inventions and other big ideas. Similarly, fairy tales have been shown to be an effective and more meaningful way to teach children morals; the naughty-or-nice list becomes a guide to growing up to be a decent person. Even if your goodness is derived from a fear of not receiving a Furby.

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"Be" Home: How to reduce stress over the Holidays

"Be" Home: How to reduce stress over the Holidays | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Are you already feeling some stress at the very thought of the upcoming holiday season? If so, you are not alone. And, it doesn’t have to be that way!

 

Holiday activities can add stress in many ways. For example, there are likely to be more things to do, more disruptions of your usual routines of life, more disturbances of rest and sleep, and changes in what you eat and drink. While many of these are enjoyable, they can take a toll on body, mind, and spirit. And don't forget "time stress". This is the feeling of never having time enough to do what is needed, is often experienced as a restlessness and uneasiness, and may appear as legs or feet shaking vigorously as if to say "Hurry up, let's go" to the rest of the body.

 

Instead of being overwhelmed or exhausted by the many demands of the holidays, you can take a different approach—one involving more “being” and less “doing”. The results could mean you connect more fully with your holiday experiences, and your life in general, and you begin to feel more alive and present.

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

This has moved here: http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-practice/mindfulness-%2526-awareness/please-be-home-for-the-holidays

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Reiki and Thankfulness

Reiki and Thankfulness | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Gratitude is the optimal way to live to continuously attract good. On certain days it can be challenging to be grateful! That’s why it’s a practice and a precept. A precept is a guideline and principle.

Often practitioners fall into the trap that Reiki practice is only the time spent in Reiki meditation, or time spent with Reiki hands on oneself or another person, or the time spent with one of the many other Reiki methods. When that time is done, Reiki is done. It isn’t. It mustn’t be.

Guidelines are there to be informed by, to help transform our less desirable qualities. Precepts are to be lived.

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

This is from my own Reiki Help Blog, taking an in-depth look at the practice of gratitude, and its place in the teachings of Reiki.

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Paul Marwood's curator insight, December 4, 2013 11:49 PM

Grattitude is so important. Yes it is a precept. This applies to all of life not just Reiki and Reiki practice.

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How To Use Writing As A Meditation Practice

How To Use Writing As A Meditation Practice | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Writing can be a powerful meditation practice, helping us to integrate our active mind with the mind of meditation. By using it as a process of inquiry, it can help us track our progress in loosening attachments and habitual states of mind even as it sharpens our ability to attend to the present moment. As little as 10 minutes of writing practice a day can reap great benefits.

 

Those who have a regular meditation practice can simply add the writing immediately following it, and those who find it difficult to do traditional meditation will find this practice fruitful as the writing gives your busy mind something to do, curbing your restlessness as you cultivate awareness of your overall experience.

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Turn Mother’s Day into an Opportunity to Cultivate Gratitude

Turn Mother’s Day into an Opportunity to Cultivate Gratitude | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

New research has shown that kids who practice gratitude display many positive benefits, including better moods, more optimism, and better social relationships. Grateful teens have higher life satisfaction, better grades, and are more engaged with school and hobbies. So, gratitude is not just good for Mom; it’s good for the kids, too.

 

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To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem and Embrace Self-Compassion

To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem and Embrace Self-Compassion | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

High self-esteem does not make you a more effective leader, a more appealing lover, more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, or more attractive and compelling in an interview.

 

A growing body of research, including new studies by Berkeley’s Juliana Breines and Serena Chen, suggest that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, may be the key to unlocking your true potential for greatness.

 

Why is self-compassion so powerful? In large part, because it is non-evaluative — in other words, your ego is effectively out of the picture — you can confront your flaws and foibles head on. You can get a realistic sense of your abilities and your actions, and figure out what needs to be done differently next time.

 

When your focus is instead on protecting your self-esteem, you can’t afford to really look at yourself honestly.

 

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

Here's an earlier post that goes into much more detail about this vital subject: http://sco.lt/8RgyYb

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Can Empathy Help Stop Climate Change?

Can Empathy Help Stop Climate Change? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
What would make you more likely to reduce your carbon footprint: Knowing that climate change is a threat to people—or to birds? New research has some surprising implications.

 

One might think that presenting climate change as a threat to humans would be more likely to move people to action than framing it as a threat to birds. But a recent study published in The Journal of Environmental Education finds that’s not true.

 

In fact, the study suggests that people appear more willing to take action if the perceived threat involves some kind of beloved creature other than them. And the reason is that, at least when it comes to climate change, people seem more motivated by empathy for non-human others than their own self-interest.

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

 

It's Earth Day 2014. Also remember that: "Numerous studies have shown that positive messages—such as those that emphasize the collective impact of carbon-cutting measures—are generally more effective than fear-based messages."

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What Makes a Compassionate Man?

What Makes a Compassionate Man? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

What does it take to foster compassion in men? To find out, Kozo Hattori interviewed scientific and spiritual experts.

 

1) Understand compassion as a strength

2) Get to know yourself

3) Transcend gender roles

4) Look for positive role models—and become one yourself

5) Spend time in silence

Pamir Kiciman's insight:

 

"Although many men in society see compassion and sympathy as feminine—which translates to a weakness in our patriarchal society—all of the compassionate men I interviewed view compassion as a strength."

 

— Kozo Hattori

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Change Happens In 5 Stages

Change Happens In 5 Stages | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

When two psychologists, Carlo DiClemente and James O. Prochaska, studied people who were trying to quit smoking, they discovered five stages that can be used to assess a person’s readiness to make change. Their ideas about the stages of change have been applied to people who are creating a variety of changes in their lives, whether they are looking to establish new behavior or extinguish old habits.

 

Their research has become paramount to the Transtheoretical Model of Change. It shows that trying to force someone to change before he’s ready isn’t likely to be productive. For example, most New Year’s resolutions don’t last because people don’t go through the stages of change. Instead, they try to create change based on a date on the calendar, which may not coincide with a true readiness to transform.

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How Inactivity Changes the Brain

How Inactivity Changes the Brain | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Being sedentary appears to alter the brain in ways that may affect heart health, a new study found.

 

A number of studies have shown that exercise can remodel the brain by prompting the creation of new brain cells and inducing other changes. Now it appears that inactivity, too, can remodel the brain, according to a notable new report.

 

The study, which was conducted in rats but likely has implications for people too, the researchers say, found that being sedentary changes the shape of certain neurons in ways that significantly affect not just the brain but the heart as well. The findings may help to explain, in part, why a sedentary lifestyle is so bad for us.

 

Until about 20 years ago, most scientists believed that the brain’s structure was fixed by adulthood, that you couldn’t create new brain cells, alter the shape of those that existed or in any other way change your mind physically after adolescence.

 

But in the years since, neurological studies have established that the brain retains plasticity, or the capacity to be reshaped, throughout our lifetimes. Exercise appears to be particularly adept at remodeling the brain, studies showed.

 

But little has been known about whether inactivity likewise alters the structure of the brain and, if so, what the consequences might be.

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Should Schools Teach Kids to Meditate?

Should Schools Teach Kids to Meditate? | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Meditation can help students be less stressed and more compassionate. But how many districts are ready to sign on?

 

When a school in New Haven, Connecticut, required yoga and meditation classes three times a week for its incoming freshman, studies found that after each class, students had significantly reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their bodies. In San Francisco, schools that participated in Quiet Time, a Transcendental Meditation program, had twice as many students score proficient in English on the California Achievement Test than in similar schools where the program didn’t exist. Visitacion Valley Middle School specifically reduced suspensions by 45 percent during the program’s first year. Attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, grade point averages improved, and the school recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco on the annual California Healthy Kids Survey. Other studies have shown that mindfulness education programs improved students’ self-control, attentiveness and respect for other classmates, enhanced the school climate, and improved teachers’ moods.

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How Sugar Affects the Brain - Nicole Avena - TED-Ed Video

When you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine -- an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more. in this TED-Ed video Nicole Avena explains why sweets and treats should be enjoyed in moderation.

 

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Melanie Greenberg's curator insight, January 16, 2014 9:00 PM

Sugar spikes dopamine, making us want more...

Kimberley L. Berlin, LSW, CSAC's curator insight, January 21, 2014 6:53 AM

I gave up processed sugars and all candy, chocolate, ice cream, muffins, cookies, gummy bears, licorice, and anything else sweet and addicting over 21 days ago..  It's been an amazing process and I am so happy I did this!

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How to Survive the Post-Holiday Blues

How to Survive the Post-Holiday Blues | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
Don't let feelings of sadness get you down after the holidays. Here's how to get back on track for a healthy and happy new year.

 

The holiday season is an emotional roller coaster and stepping off at the and can leave you with a case of psychological whiplash.  Whether it's caused by feelings of guilt from overindulgence, unmet expectations, or a return to loneliness, depression after the holidays is a common condition. So common, in fact, that there is even a name for it - the 'post-holiday blues.'

 

Feelings of sadness, guilt, and anger can kick off genuine symptoms of depression ranging from mild unhappiness to more troublesome symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, inability to eat or overeating, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and anxiety.  But you don't have to let the holiday blues get you down.

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God Is.'s curator insight, December 26, 2013 11:28 AM

There is no such thing as the picture perfect family, or holiday, My advice? be good to yourself. Forgive. Forgive the past, Forgive those in the past. Forgive yourself. Accept what is. As I heard many times before, "It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't"...

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Study Reveals Gene Expression Changes with Meditation

Study Reveals Gene Expression Changes with Meditation | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
With evidence growing that meditation can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body.

 

A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of meditation.

 

After eight hours of practice, meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

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Melanie Greenberg's curator insight, December 22, 2013 11:17 PM

"After eight hours of practice, meditators showed altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation."

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Health, Happiness, and the New Walking Movement

Health, Happiness, and the New Walking Movement | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it
How walking could revitalize our bodies and communities.

 

Researchers have discovered a “wonder drug” for many of today’s most common medical problems, says Dr. Bob Sallis, a family practitioner at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Fontana, California. It’s been proven to help treat or prevent diabetes, depression, breast and colon cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, anxiety and osteoporosis, Sallis told leaders at the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington, D.C.

 

“The drug is called walking,” Sallis announced. “Its generic name is physical activity.”

 

Recommended dosage is 30 minutes a day, five days a week, but children should double that to 60 minutes a day, seven days a week. Side effects may include weight loss, improved mood, improved sleep and bowel habits, stronger muscles and bones as well as looking and feeling better.

 

Biking, swimming, dancing, gardening, sports, jogging and aerobics work equally well, Sallis said, but he cites three factors that make walking the most effective treatment: 1) Low or no cost; 2) Simple to do for people of all ages, incomes and fitness levels, and 3) Walking is Americans’ favorite physical activity, so you are more likely to stick with a walking program than with other fitness prescriptions.

 
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The BioSync Team's curator insight, December 6, 2013 12:44 PM

From the Article:  Three factors that make walking the most effective treatment:

1) Low or no cost; 2) Simple to do for people of all ages, incomes and fitness levels; 3) Walking is Americans’ favorite physical activity, so you are more likely to stick with a walking program than with other fitness prescriptions.


Read more ...

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Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal

Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal | Meditation Compassion Mindfulness | Scoop.it

Psychology researchers aren’t necessarily Thanksgiving experts—they may not know how to make fluffy stuffing, say, or beat the traffic to your in-laws’ house—but they have become a fount of wisdom on thanksgiving (with a small “t”).

 

Over the past decade, they’ve not only identified the great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks; they’ve zeroed in on some concrete practices that help us reap those benefits.

 

And perhaps the most popular practice is to keep a “gratitude journal.” As we’ve reported many times over the years, studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.

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