Science of the Spirit
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Nebula

May the force be with you: Researchers find evidence of human bioenergy field

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The universe is full of mysteries that challenge our current knowledge. In "Beyond Science" Epoch Times collects stories about these strange phenomena to stimulate the imagination and open up previously undreamed of possibilities. Are they true? You decide.

Biochemist John Norman Hansen, Ph.D., at the University of Maryland has found evidence of what he believes is a bioenergy field around humans. Such a field has been speculated about and alluded to in spiritual traditions for thousands of years, but now scientific investigation has indicated such a field does exist.

Dr. Hansen conducted hundreds of experiments with dozens of subjects, and his results are consistently replicable. Other scientists have also replicated his results, including Willem H. van den Berg of the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the Johnson Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and physicist William van der Sluys at Gettysburg College, who published their study in the Journal of Scientific Exploration on March 15.

2 + 2 = 4

Mood disorders: More alike than distinct?

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Patients with bipolar disorder (BP) and those with major depressive disorder (MDD) may have more in common than previously thought, new research suggests.

These patient groups performed similarly on a cognitive task, and both groups were slower and less accurate than healthy control participants.

2 + 2 = 4

The powerful opportunities that come with making a mistake

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Just as it is human nature to make mistakes, it is human nature to beat yourself up afterwards. Of course, this does not mean this is productive way to cope. A human's imperfect nature makes it easy to feel regret for things we have done and makes us more susceptible to feelings of shame and guilt.

There's just one thing you must always remember; your mistakes do not define you. One of the best ways to overcome the feelings of shame and guilt that often accompany a mistake is to look at them as opportunity for learning and growth. Let's examine the eight reasons why mistakes are actually opportunities.

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Children have an innate sense of restorative justice

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Children as young as three show a natural inclination towards restorative justice fed by a strong concern over the welfare of victims, say researchers.

A new study, published today in Current Biology, reveals three and five-year-olds are sensitive to harm to others and given a choice would rather restore things to help the victim than punish the perpetrator.

The researchers say the findings, based on experiments with 112 three-year-olds and 79 five-year-olds in Germany, provide insights into the roots of justice in human society.

Previous studies have shown children are more likely to share with a puppet that helps another individual than with one who behaves badly.

They also prefer to see punishment delivered to a doll that deserves it than one that doesn't. By the age of six, children will pay a price to punish fictional and real peers. Preschoolers can also be encouraged with threats of punishment to behave more generously.

Bulb

Best learning techniques involve practicing, playing with ideas and solutions over time

When I was growing up, family dinners were often interrupted by a mad search through the encyclopedia. During our discussion some question would invariably arise and my dad or one of us would get up from the table and come back with a World Book volume containing the answer.

The practice fueled my curiosity and more than a few Trivia Crack victories.

I'm still in the habit today. Something will come up during our dinnertime conversation and I or my daughter or husband will seek out the answer. But, this time, it doesn't come from a book. It comes from Google. And that may not be the best way to learn.

New research by Gordon Pennycook and Nathaniel Barr indicates that Google is giving us the answers even before we think through the questions or problems ourselves.

Instead of actually analyzing a problem or tapping into our own intelligence to answer questions or come up with new solutions, we are using the smartphone as an "extended mind," Barr says. And that reliance on technology is creating a culture of lazy thinkers.

In fact, the best way to learn new material doesn't come from Google at all. Learning is best done through distributed practice, according to a paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest reviewing different learning styles and the research into them.

Comment: For more tips on ways to improve learning, see:


Family

Rationally-based brains are physically different from emotionally-based brains

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Illustration. Rationally-based brains are physically different from emotionally-based brains, according to new research.
Researchers at Monash University have found physical differences in the brains of people who respond emotionally to others' feelings, compared to those who respond more rationally, in a study published in the journal NeuroImage.

The work, led by Robert Eres from the University's School of Psychological Sciences, pinpointed correlations between grey matter density and cognitive and affective empathy. The study looked at whether people who have more brain cells in certain areas of the brain are better at different types of empathy.

"People who are high on affective empathy are often those who get quite fearful when watching a scary movie, or start crying during a sad scene. Those who have high cognitive empathy are those who are more rational, for example a clinical psychologist counselling a client," Mr Eres said.

Butterfly

Being there: How to lend support to someone going through a tough time

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When someone is struggling, we might be at a loss for how to help. We want to reach out. But we're worried we'll do or say the wrong thing. So we don't do anything. Or maybe we have a track record of saying or doing the wrong things. Either way, the result is the same — we keep to ourselves.

Psychotherapist Lena Aburdene Derhally, MS, LPC, worked in oncology for years. She noted that the best way we can support someone who's grieving is simply by being there.

The same is true for most things someone is struggling with — whether your friend is having marital problems, your cousin had a miscarriage or an acquaintance opens up about being overwhelmed.

Jennifer Kogan, LICSW, a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C., stressed the importance of listening with empathy. Empathy is key for meaningful relationships. And it's a skill we can learn. Kogan cited the four attributes of empathy, identified by nursing scholar Teresa Wiseman. Researcher and bestselling author Brené Brown incorporated Wiseman's definition in her own work. Brown writes about empathy in her book I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power.

Light Saber

Possessing an internal locus of control improves our ability to cope with adversity

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For me, one of the hardest facets of stress is relinquishing control. And though there is control in how I personally react and choose to respond to circumstances, there's also a feeling of helplessness; a feeling that control is not completely present.

I don't have complete control over genuine and natural shifts in relationships — the progression of people growing apart. New perceptions affect awareness; they affect how connections are conceived.

I don't have complete control of the past, and all the baggage that comprises such chapters.

I don't have complete control over nodules in my thyroid that may or may not get bigger; that may or may not require a biopsy or further treatment.

I don't have complete control over a competitive job market or a profession that may not lend itself to a stable, sufficient income.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the desire for a sense of control is a profound psychological need.

"If we are in control of our environment, then we have a far better chance of survival," an article on changingminds.org stated. "Our deep subconscious mind thus gives us strong biochemical prods when we face some kind of danger (such as the fight-or-flight reaction)."

Interesting. Though life is renowned for unpredictability, individuals crave a sense of control. Some factors, though, are simply uncontrollable.

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Understanding the five-step series of fear / defense responses

When a person or animal experiences a dangerous situation, each will typically react with an inborn fear/defense mechanism, such as the well-known "fight or flight."

In a new article, published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, researchers offer a detailed framework of the "defense cascade," a five-step series showing different types of fear/defense responses.

Although both humans and animals react to fear in similar ways, animals are able to return to their normal mode of functioning once the danger has passed.

However, "Humans often are not, and they may find themselves locked into the same, recurring pattern of response tied in with the original danger or trauma," said researcher Dr. Kasia Kozlowska, a child and adolescent psychiatrist from the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Australia.

Comment: According to Dr. Peter Levine, the reason that animals in the wild do not experience ongoing trauma from dangerous encounters is that they have a spontaneous capacity for self-paced termination of the state of immobility induced by fear responses. When an animal comes out of the frozen state, it usually shakes and trembles, literally shaking off the state of immobility. However, when humans perceive they are in danger, their bodies assume specific defensive postures necessary for protection which are powerfully energized to meet extreme situations. When activated to this level and then prevented from completing the course of action - as in fighting or fleeing - our systems move into freeze or collapse, and the energized tension remains stuck in the muscles. In turn, these unused or partially used muscular tensions set up a stream of nerve impulses ascending the spinal cord to the thalamus and then to other parts of the brain signaling continued presence of danger and threat.

Fortunately, there are methods that can help to release stored trauma. Dr. Levine describes exercises that can help with the process in his book In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. Another excellent method is the Éiriú Eolas breathing and meditation program that helps to effectively manage the physiological, emotional, and psychological effects of stress and helps to clear blocked emotions.


Heart - Black

Masculinity is killing men: The roots of men and trauma

We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
"The three most destructive words that every man receives when he's a boy is when he's told to 'be a man,'" —Joe Ehrmann, coach and former NFL player
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If we are honest with ourselves, we have long known that masculinity kills men, in ways both myriad and measurable. While social constructions of femininity demand that women be thin, beautiful, accommodating, and some unattainable balance of virginal and fuckable, social constructions of masculinity demand that men constantly prove and re-prove the very fact that they are, well, men.

Both ideas are poisonous and potentially destructive, but statistically speaking, the number of addicted and afflicted men and their comparatively shorter lifespans proves masculinity is actually the more effective killer, getting the job done faster and in greater numbers. Masculinity's death tolls are attributed to its more specific manifestations: alcoholism, workaholism and violence. Even when it does not literally kill, it causes a sort of spiritual death, leaving many men traumatized, dissociated and often unknowingly depressed. (These issues are heightened by race, class, sexuality and other marginalizing factors, but here let's focus on early childhood and adolescent socialization overall.) To quote poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "tis not in death that men die most." And for many men, the process begins long before manhood.