lotus flowers
Today on the Health and Wellness Show we connected some happy dots, for a change!

Silliness is all around us - some truly entertaining stories came out in the news these past few weeks. In addition, we discussed the meaning behind different types of dreams, various emotional healing practices, everyday life improvement remedies, the benefits of positive social networks and the importance of silence. Looking forward to some good news, laughs and a bit of happiness in this crazy chaotic world? Tune in - as always Zoya's Pet health segment and a delicious recipe to conclude.

Running Time: 01:48:40

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Jonathan: Welcome to the Health and Wellness Show everybody, today is Friday, May 20th. Glad to have you with us. My name is Jonathan, I'll be your host for today and joining us in our virtual studio from all over the planet, we have Doug, Erica and Tiffany. Hey guys.

All: [Hellos]

Jonathan: We are missing Gaby and Elliot today so we wish them well and hope everything is going alright; they will be back with us next week. Today we are going to be connecting the happy dots, happy, happy, joy, joy.

Erica: Hurray!

Jonathan: After our heavy topic last week, we decided to go to the other side of the spectrum and see if we couldn't find some happy news and we did manage to find some which is nice.

Erica: Our show will be 10 minutes today!

Jonathan: That's all, goodbye.

Erica: And that's it.

Doug: Keep your chin up; goodbye.

Jonathan: We have a few different topics today, we have some silly stories, some dream meanings; we are going to talk about a little bit of dream interpretation, life improvement remedies, the benefit of social networks; not Facebook, I mean the literal interpretation of social networks.

Erica: Actual human interactions.

Jonathan: And a few other things. Let's start off with this one which isn't health and wellness related but it is funny because we were talking about this before the show. There is a website called MapleMatch.com and if you are single and you fear a Donald Trump presidency, there is a website that will set you up with a Canadian so that you can get out of the country.

Doug: It's kind of health and wellness.

Erica: It's mental health.

Doug: Donald Trump is probably bad for your health so to escape that insidious drain upon your health there is a solution for that, it's marry a Canadian.

Tiffany: You can save some stress by getting out of the country. They said that after Super Tuesday, searches for how to move to Canada spiked 350%.

Doug: That's amazing.

Tiffany: Why don't they have one for Killary though? That would be the same situation. I don't know who would be worse. At least Donald Trump fits the whole American consumerism, excess reality show hoo-ha that's going on. Hillary, I don't know, she is from the bowels of hell.

Jonathan: Tiffany, you didn't know Hillary Clinton is the most progressive feminist ever; in the history of female kind?

Tiffany: Oh really?

Erica: That's not a happy dot! You are losing the focus!

Doug: One thing I found funny about this site was that apparently according to the article, they have already attracted 4200 sign-ups and 70% of them are Canadian which is really weird to me. It seems like there is a whole lot of Canadian individuals out there who are looking to hook up with Americans. Or maybe Canadians are just desperate in general and just want to get married.

Jonathan: I think it is just because you are so helpful. Oh I can help! Good!

Doug: How can I help?

Tiffany: There is another whacked out dating site called Wide Awake Dating I think? For conspiracy theorists to get together. One of the pictures on their site was two people holding hands wearing tin foil hats.

Jonathan: That's great. Let's see, what else do we have here for silly stories? This one had a negative outcome so we will get to that in the interests of full disclosure, however, the initial part showed the idiocracy of some people these days. If our listeners didn't see this article, in Yellowstone, tourists put a bison calf in their car because they thought it was cold.

Tiffany: Didn't they drive it to the ranger station and demand to talk to the ranger because the bison was cold? Apparently they think that the bison just come out for photo ops during the day and then they go back home to their heated cabins.

Doug: They were completely incapable of surviving cold.

Erica: They thought that they were doing a helping service.

Doug: Maybe they were Canadian.

Tiffany: I think that they were hubrids because they obviously have no idea how things work on this planet. Animals live outside, that's kind of what they do.

Doug: It just goes to show how out of touch the average person is with nature and how they don't really have two firing neurons to connect those dots; they live outside guys! It's ok, it's not cold.

Jonathan: I have a morbid curiosity to talk to that person and ask what the thought process was that led them up to that but maybe they wouldn't be able to elucidate that; I don't know.

Tiffany: What kind of person was he; the father at least, you can't really blame the son for following his father's lead. It said in the article that they were foreigners and I say they were really foreign; hubrid foreign.

Erica: Out of this world. They were ticketed by law enforcement rangers; I wonder what the description was on the ticket; idiocracy?

Tiffany: Unlawful idiocy? But it took an ominous turn.

Jonathan: It did. We are laughing because the premise is funny but it was unfortunate because when the calf was released, at least from what I see here, it was then abandoned by its herd so it had to be euthanized.

Doug: When your idiocy doesn't just affect yourself.

Tiffany: The calf kept walking up to people and cars because the herd wouldn't take him back; it's really sad.

Jonathan: Alright, we are getting sad. Let's see what our next one here is, this is a good one, Man Seeks Restraining Order Against God. An Israeli man has petitioned for a restraining order against God, claiming the almighty has been particularly unkind to him over the years and that the police are unable to do anything.

Tiffany: He said that God treated him harshly and not fairly. He tried to press charges against God on different occasions and the police had to come out to his house 10 different times so finally he took him to court to get a restraining order.

Doug: Because that is what the police advised apparently. I guess after the tenth call it was like "you know what man? We can't really help you out. Why don't you try and get a restraining order?" Talk about passing the buck. Somebody else has to deal with this crazy dude, we have got to get this guy off of our case.

Erica: They also said in the article that God could not be contacted for a comment.

Tiffany: He wasn't there to defend himself. I would disagree because if you would consider that God is everywhere and in everything and everyone, I'm sure he was probably in the courtroom that day; he just chose not to say anything.

Erica: He chose to remain silent; he exercised his right.

Doug: His fifth amendment right.

Erica: While he still had it.

Doug: You know what? I wish that there were more details in the article because I would love to know what the details of this guy's complaint were. How has God been treating him "not nicely" over all these years?

Jonathan: Apparently this is not a satire article, it was on the UK Independent. My first thought was that this is just an Onion article but it's not.

Tiffany: It was in lots of different places. It was on the Israeli Times in their newspaper; a lot of places picked it up.

Erica: Doug, it said in the article that there were no specific details given about what exactly had happened to make him feel this way.

Tiffany: God has been very naughty.

Doug: It makes me think of that guy who was hit by lightning like 10 times or something crazy like that. He has got to assume that God's got it in for him too.

Tiffany: Well the guy represented himself, he was his own defence; his own lawyer.

Doug: Not too many lawyers lining up to take that case I don't imagine.

Jonathan: I wish there were some more details too, was he maybe schizophrenic? Or was he playing a really dedicated joke on the police? Like he had committed himself to this joke? I am curious about that.

Doug: That's almost pathological persistence if that's the case.

Tiffany: Yeah, some kind of delusional disorder going on there.

Doug: I would think so. You have got to wonder what could be going through somebody's mind where they would think that a very human institution like the legal system, could have any effect on a supreme being. It's like God is going to be like "Oh darn, he got a restraining order. I guess I can't keep messing with him."

Jonathan: Let's see, what else do we have here? Hell is a Church Invention, says former bishop. That's a happy dot.

Tiffany: Fire and brimstone is not real after all.

Doug: And it's actually an ex-bishop who is saying that. It is interesting that it's actually a retired bishop who has gone on record as saying this. It's kind of a pillar of the Christian faith; the idea of both heaven and hell and that if you are good, you go to heaven and if you are bad then you go to hell. It's like you said, in the interview he actually said "no, that was only instituted as a system of control". That's the only reason it exists and it's to keep the church alive which is good on him for saying that, maybe he couldn't say that until he retired.

Jonathan: It's an interesting one; maybe I'm getting a little more serious here but I'll try not to be a bummer about it but I grew up in an evangelical Christian church and in the states, there is also a number of evangelical pastors, I want to say two or maybe three that I am aware of, who have come out publicly recently, within the last five or so years, saying that they don't believe that hell is literally interpretable from the scripture and that is something essentially that is a state of being without God's presence and that the idea of eternal fire and brimstone is not what it is.

They are, of course, being lambasted and shunned by the conservative Christian community but it is interesting that it is being touted by more than one minister.

Doug: To me, it seems like a very progressive stance to take and I can see why there would be a lot of backlash against it just because a lot of people don't want a progressive take on their religion. They would much rather have the traditional fire and brimstone for those who sin type approach.
Because that would really start people questioning everything. It's like, well wait a minute, if there is no hell then why am I being good?

Tiffany: And if there is no hell, why do I have to believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again in three days to save me from my sins? That's like knocking down one of the pillars of the whole Christian faith.

Doug: Yeah, exactly.

Erica: I like how he talks about how the church doesn't like for people to grow up.

Tiffany: And take responsibility for themselves and their own actions.

Erica: And you can't control grown-ups so that's why they talk about being born again, because when you are born again you are still a child. Some people don't need to be born again, they need to grow up, they need to accept their responsibility for themselves and the world.

Doug: He actually sounds a little bit cynical.

Tiffany: He is from New Jersey to so I think that has to be taken into account.

Jonathan: It makes me think of the comedian Patton Oswalt, I don't know if you guys are familiar with the comedian Patton Oswalt? He does a bit about sky cake where essentially all religions have sky cake and sky baklava and sky bread and he says "I did not spend my life not raping and killing people to not get sky cake when I die."

Doug: It just shows the whole authoritarian bent that you have with a lot of people who are kind of diligent about these religions. There was an article a while back on SOTT that was talking about the people with moral endoskeletons versus moral exoskeletons and the endoskeleton people basically have their own sense of morality of what is good and what is not good and what they want to pursue and what they don't, versus people who have an external sense of morality and require an external source to point them in the direction of what is good and what is not.

I think, for those people, they require some kind of penalty for bad behaviour because they assume that, and maybe within themselves they see that, if they didn't have that external morality source, they would just run wild and start screwing everybody over and stealing and raping and pillaging and all these kinds of things. Versus people who have this internal idea within themselves of what is right and what is not right; maybe I'm getting too heavy here.

Erica: No, I don't think it's getting too heavy at all. It's being a grown up.

Tiffany: Well, if you compare that to the former pope who said that the fires of hell are real.

Doug: But didn't the current pope also say that hell was not a real place. I thought that there was something in the news a couple of years ago where he came out and said that no, hell is not a real place, there is no fire and brimstone and it's more metaphorical; which all seemed incredibly progressive.

Tiffany: I think that he is a lot more progressive than the former pope who just looked like Satan himself in certain pictures.

Erica: With bad fashion taste.

Doug: You don't like the pointy hat? Or the bubble car? What about the bubble car?

Erica: It's saving him from the damnation of hell.

Tiffany: He'll go to hell in his bubble car so he won't burn.

Jonathan: What else do we have here for our topics? We can talk about dreams for a little bit, I thought the flying dreams article was pretty interesting. It says, "one of the best ways to describe how your dreams can be deciphered is to think of your conscious mind as an island in the middle of a vast ocean, the ocean represents your unconscious mind; making up your unconscious self, your life's experiences, your knowledge, your emotional responses etc. The ocean floor is what we share as our collective human knowledge, the sky and anything associated with the sky is from outside of ourselves; the collective metaphysical knowledge."

Most likely the message is in the feel of the dream; did it make you uncomfortable or were you frightened or were you out of control? Usually our dream feeling signifies the core message of the dream and that kind of resonates with me. I got one of the dream dictionaries back in the day and was like, "oh wow, birds mean this" or "my friend is in the shadows and that means that" and there were very specific meanings literally drawn from what you see in the dream. It never really sat with me, that you could take those literal interpretations. It's more what is going on in your life, you have to bounce it off what you're experiencing in your life and then take a metaphorical feeling based interpretation of what it is.

Doug: I agree; I have always been a little hesitant with that too.

Tiffany: Most of the time, my flying dreams were when I was being chased and I would just be running and running and all of a sudden I would just take off in flight. Then, very rarely I would have a dream where I was flying and it was a happy dream but most of them have been nightmares.

Doug: I have to say that I have never had a flying dream. It's funny too because I can count on one hand the amount of times I have had a lucid dream. I've had a couple of lucid dreams and every time I'm like "oh my God, I'm dreaming! I have to try and fly!" but I've never actually been able to do it, I usually barely left the ground.

Jonathan: I've often had the ones where you are learning to fly, where you might jump and then you jump really high and then you coast for a hundred yards and then you come back down and then you jump again and you go a little farther.

Tiffany: I've had those.

Jonathan: Or you are levitating a little bit and you are like "holy shit! What's going on right now?" and then you figure it out. Those are fun but it doesn't happen a lot.

Erica: I wonder about the falling dreams too, is that considered flying?

Tiffany: No, that's falling.

Doug: I don't think so.

Tiffany: I've had falling dreams too but I never land, it's just the sensation of falling.

Erica: Yeah, then you usually wake up with a startle.

Doug: In the article, the author Kiala Noel at Collective Evolution, says that with flying dreams the sky is more representative of the collective metaphysical knowledge; more the spiritual side of things. So flying is like going into that spiritual aspect of life. Which is interesting but like Jonathan said, I'm always a little bit sceptical of those kinds of interpretations.

She even mentions in the article that if somebody is flying all the time as part of their life, if they are kind of a jet setter or they are always travelling for business or they are a pilot or a hand glider then obviously flying, for them, is going to have a very different interpretation than somebody who doesn't fly very often. Obviously if you are flying without a plane or something then it's probably going to have a more symbolic representation. I don't know, I thought her interpretation was interesting, like when you are flying in your dreams then you are exploring that spiritual side of things.

Tiffany: She said that if you dream of a plane, it could mean that you are using some kind of mechanism to elevate yourself to a higher level of thinking; like if you meditate or pray. Being in a plane in your dream could be symbolic of contacting your higher self or something?

Doug: Maybe.

Erica: It's kind of like in a past show that we had where we talked about Dr Estes' approach to dream work and how we try and interpret it in 3D terms and really, because it's the unconscious, it's like the translation gets lost. So I'm with you guys with over interpretation of what it all means.

Tiffany: I have also read that the best person to interpret your dreams is yourself and, like Jonathan said before, ask how did the dream make you feel? That will probably give you more clues than looking in a dream book and saying what does this mean and what does a bird mean and what does a plane mean?

Doug: All that being said though, there is the Jungian interpretation of dreams. According to what Jung said, as far as I know and I have to admit, I've never actually read Jung but I've read about him. His interpretation was always that every single thing within the dream is an aspect of yourself. So if you dream about somebody, like a friend, you will have more success in interpreting the dream if you look at that as an aspect of yourself.

If you have a friend who is maybe very daring and always taking chances whereas you are a very conservative person, if you dream about that friend, it might be that part of you that maybe yearns to be more spontaneous or more daring; that's just an example off the top of my head but I think that that's an interesting way of interpreting the dreams; as well as looking at the emotional component obviously. I think that he was onto something there.

Tiffany: The author of this article talks about that too, she wrote another article called A Theory of Why We Dream About Sex and she says that everyone in your dream is you, nobody walks into your mind and starts messing with your head. Every character in your dream is a reflection of your own self. I think that makes sense on a certain level.

Doug: So what does it mean when you are having sex with somebody?

Jonathan: Well it says here that having sex in your dreams means that you are healing and integrating programs back into yourself to make you a stronger, more solid "you". At first it struck me as a manifestation of narcissism because that is the definition of narcissism right? Essentially you would want to have sex with yourself. I know that that is the Freudian definition of narcissism.

Erica: No, that's your mother.

Jonathan: That's the full definition.

Tiffany: She also said that if you have sex in your dreams and you climax, that's basically your body's way of getting rid of pent up energy, but having sex and you don't climax could be a way of integrating certain aspects of the person that you are having sex with in your dream and you should look at that person and ask what kind of person are they? What is their character? Maybe that will give you some clues as to what you are trying to integrate back into yourself.

Jonathan: Who knows what seeds dreams? I've had strange prophetic dreams a couple of times that actually came true; not anything astounding but it stands out in my memory that I had a dream once of sledding down a hill and running into somebody at the bottom and that exact thing happened to me a week later; it was like Déjà vu.

Erica: It was a precognitive dream.

Jonathan: It only happened a couple of times and who knows where that comes from? Then I think that there are also dreams like flying dreams where during the day you might look up and see a bird and be like "oh, that would be cool to fly" and them bam, you are going to dream about flying that night. It is such a broad area of interpretation; I think it is really hard to nail down where they come from or what they mean exactly.

Erica: I had a similar type of dream that Jonathan explained about. It was actually reoccurring where my house was burning down; several times and it started to create a little bit of paranoia in me. I lived in a wood home. I tried not to obsess about it but then about 2 years later my neighbour's house burned to the ground and it was a huge fire; the tanks exploding; it was pretty massive and I was like "Ok, good. It wasn't my house." Nobody got hurt in the fire; no animals were harmed.

Tiffany: Did you stop having fire dreams after that?

Erica: Yes, I did so it was kind of like a message from myself to myself.

Tiffany: It should have been a message from yourself to your neighbour. I used to dream a lot about houses and most of the time when I dream about my house it's always the house that I grew up in as a little kid. Then sometimes it's this house and in the dream, the house is small but I keep opening these doors and going into these long corridors and finding hidden rooms and trying to find my way back to the main house and I can't do it. Maybe I'm trying to explore something in my subconscious mind and I can't figure it out.

Erica: You need the key maker.

Doug: They often say that if you dream that you are in a house, then it is representative of your consciousness and you're exploring that consciousness. I went through a period where I was always dreaming that I was in a basement, what does that mean? It would always be really cluttered too; I was always having to navigate around junk and try to find my way through things. There's a little peek into my psyche there if anybody wants to interpret what that means.

Jonathan: You're screwed up Doug.

Doug: That's not good.

Erica: Well, what does mine mean if my house is burning down?

Doug: Good question. Maybe it's like the phoenix; like a re-birth.

Erica: Yeah, that's a good interpretation; that's a happy dot. I'm not going to suffer the eternal damnation of hell?

Tiffany: I guess that it means that you are burning off the useless aspects of your personality and childhood programming and you will emerge renewed.

Erica: But then technically it was my neighbour.

Jonathan: There is also entertainment affecting your dreams too I think. If you are watching an episode of the Walking Dead, then I'm usually going to dream about zombies. A lot of times, whatever goes into your head is what comes out in your dreams.

Doug: Like taking the garbage out.

Jonathan: It's interesting and I think there is a really valid field of study in there; in interpreting dreams, but, this thought just came to mind. I wonder if it needs to be, you know when you feel something really deeply and you know in the moment that that has some kind of deep meaning? You get a connection and you know that this means something? A lot of times that doesn't happen but every once in awhile, it does; if you get that sense then maybe it's worth looking into more?

Doug: I would agree.

Jonathan: I think that is where a lot of new age gurus and stuff fall short; where they might over interpret that and think that if they have the dream that their house is burning down they are going to run around to everybody in the neighbourhood, checking their fire extinguishers or something.

Tiffany: But I also think that sometimes, a dream is just a dream; sometimes a banana is just a banana. It's just a way to sort all the junk that went on during the day.

Doug: I think that there is a real temptation to try and, not necessarily literally interpret them, but people who get on those dream dictionary websites, it's almost like they're trying to take something that is not really explainable and bring it down into very explainable terms, "I dreamt about a snake and a snake means this, therefore, this is what this means."

I think that really, when you are dealing with the subconscious, it is so vast and very difficult to explain. It's like where dream interpretation really falls short in some instances, because I think a lot of it is really just not explainable. To try and narrow it into some kind of lexicon where literally if you dream "this" then it means "this". I wouldn't say that there is a danger in it but I think it's maybe a futile exercise.

Erica: Sometimes it's just entertaining to talk with people about it. I had a dream the other night where I was back in high school, I'm not sure what that means. Technically I never finished high school so maybe it's an unfinished program!

Doug: You are finishing it in your dream.
[round of applause plays]

Erica: Was that a clap because I didn't finish high school?

Tiffany: You escaped the system!

Erica: It was funny because it's all those mundane things about it, the signing up, the going to gym class, the not having the proper gym clothes.

Doug: When I have those kind of return to high school type dreams, it's always an anxiety dream. Like, I have a test that I haven't studied for or I have an assignment that's due and I haven't even started it yet and all this different stuff; where I can't find the classroom that I am supposed to be in. It's always that kind of thing so I wonder if it's because that was a very anxious time of life so that tends to be the setting for all these anxiety dreams.

Tiffany: I have those same type of dreams where I'm back in school but I have a class and I forgot that I'm enrolled in that class so I never show up and then I find out and it's like "oh my God, what am I going to do?"

Doug: I've had that dream too!

Tiffany: I have a dream where I'm assigned some patients and then for some reason I forget that one of these people is my patient so they go the whole day without having a nurse!

Doug: I have had similar dreams like that when I was in the cooking industry. I'm suddenly in a very strange kitchen and I'm responsible for the whole service and I don't know the menu and I don't know anything that is going on.

Erica: I think that's job related stress because I was a waitress for many years and the same kind of thing [happened to me] where you have 200 patrons and you have no food.

Tiffany: But again, it's the feeling of the dream; you know you have work stress or school anxiety. So what are you going to do about it?

Erica: It sounds like a collective idea here is that we were all traumatised by school.

Jonathan: Or work. That segues nicely for talking about trauma and emotional healing if we want to move on to some of our other material. There is an article, Remembering and Savouring Positive Memories is a Practical and Effective Way to Lift your Mood. I thought that this was kind of interesting because I will catch myself being overly cynical at times.

Erica: No! [Sarcastically]

Jonathan: I do think that this is generally true but I can take to heart sometimes where I'm like "making yourself feel happy is dumb because everything sucks" essentially. I forget that it is a really important part of emotional healing; to do that, because if you are purely negative all the time then you are imbalanced and there need to be some balance between those things.

We talked on the show in the past a number of times about looking at the darker side of life and keeping your eyes open and making sure that you see everything and not shy away from it. That doesn't negate the fact that you should also embrace joy and happiness. It's just hard to hold that line.

What do you guys think about this idea about essentially embracing or meditating on positive memories? Because the studies are fairly interesting, they showed that it lifted people's mood so there is a sort of objective experimental result there.

Doug: It's interesting because one of the things that they say is that therapists have traditionally focused on addressing negative moods and I think that, to a certain extent that can actually end up being maybe counterproductive because you end up dwelling on these things. It's very easy, when you get caught up in a negative emotion, to just sit there and churn with it and obsess over it and I think having a technique for pulling you out of that [could be valuable], because I mean, I know for myself a lot of times when I am in a negative mood, it's like I stay in it because I have to figure something out.

There is something there that I need to figure out about it or there is some value in playing it over and over again. When I think that maybe, in lot of cases, there is only so much you can do from when you are in that negative state. I think that maybe if you write out a couple of positive memories that you can turn to when you are stuck and say "you know what? I'm going to think about this right now; this was a happy time so I'm actually going to go over that in my mind." I think that could be valuable.

Erica: I think it goes along with the whole thing of not ruminating so much on things but also the idea of visualisation. When I was a young child, I was taught by a therapist how to visualise, in moments of stress and tension, a safe place wherever that is; a park or a beach or under the tree. I think, like you were saying Doug, when you ruminate so much, you are creating all this stress and anxiety and you are almost making the situation worse.

Not to necessarily dissociate but to try and maybe take your mind to a place where you can calm all that internal chatter; if that makes sense? For me it's like being on the beach and smelling the ocean air and feeling the breeze and all these kind of sensorial perceptions that tend to calm you down.

Tiffany: I think that kind of works, not just if you are sitting there meditating and thinking about happy memories or happy spaces or places, but like if you were with a group of people; things that people like to do is take trips down memory lane and say "remember that time we did this or that or went here" or like after a funeral, people get together and tell funny stories about the person that died. That lightens the mood and it reinforces the bonding that you shared with these people.

Doug: I know there are certainly ones that, I'm thinking about fear specifically, a lot of times we are afraid of something, like there is something coming up in your life and you are angsting over it or you are fearing it in some way. I guess there is some value in playing over possible scenarios and figuring out "if this happens, what am I going to do?" but there does definitely seem to be a point where you are just ruminating and you are obsessing over things. I think in those kinds of situations it can definitely be helpful to go "you know what? Enough is enough, I'm going to think about something happy right now." Kind of like our show today.

Erica: Very happy.

Tiffany: Remember that time we started a radio show on SOTT?

Doug: That was the best.

Erica: And we weren't dreaming about going live and forgetting everything that we read the week before.

Jonathan: The idea of positive visualisation makes me think about living in the present moment because oftentimes, most of your anxieties and fears, granted there are exceptions, there are times where the present just sucks and you have got to deal with it, but I think that a lot of the time our anxieties and fears come from our anticipation of what might happen or what is going to happen in the future.

If you can bring yourself back into the present moment, look around you, like Erica, you said if you are on the beach or in a field and it's warm and the wind is blowing, bring yourself back to that moment and think about where you are and just experience it. A lot of times, for me that is what works in reducing anxiety, just saying "Where am I right now? What is happening right now? That is really the only thing that is happening. The future is not happening; the past is done." That seems to help with that.

Doug: That brings us to another article that we looked at for today and it was called The More You Regularly Experience Gratitude, the more Self-Control You Have. I thought that was a really interesting one where they did a study to look at how gratitude can affect how much self-control you actually have.

What they did was they followed people over the course of three weeks and had them record their emotional states via their smart phones. Then, after that they were asked if they would rather have $30 now or $50 at some point in the future. Apparently, the people who experienced gratitude more often, were more likely to delay their gratification.

It sounds like a wishy-washy type study but nonetheless, I think it points to something interesting where if you experience gratitude, like you were saying Jonathan, being more in the present moment, appreciating what you have, appreciating the here-and-now, that you are a person who is not going to be more prone to impulses and you are more likely to delay your gratification and be able to put that off.

Tiffany: Because if you are satisfied with who you are and what you have and where you are, you're not having this feeling of lack and you are not always grasping for more this-that-or-the-other-thing. I can see how that would play out; how you would have more self-control.

Doug: I guess if you are dissatisfied, you are always going to be reaching for something.

Erica: Also, if you read the news, not to go down a darker note here, but just realising how fortunate we are in so many ways when you are constantly reading about the suffering of others around the world and the fact that you have a meal today, or you have a place to live, that there is not war going on where you live, or you are not bombarded overhead by whatever amount of things; to just literally be in the moment, and it really does take practice to stop that ruminating of the mind and just be like "OK, I'm here right now. I'm with my dogs or my cats and everything is OK"; if that makes sense?

Jonathan: Totally, I think about that often too; that I have my health, I'm not scraping the couch cushions for quarters to get food. I've been there but I'm grateful that it is not happening right now. Even in those cases, you can take that to an extreme and say "there are not bombs falling on my head" or "I'm not starving or have dysentery" or all of those things.

There are so many, and this is not to prop yourself up as being better than other people; that's definitely the wrong way to take it, but just to be grateful that you are in a space where those bad things aren't happening at that moment. I think that what speaks to people's character is what you do with that, do you then just revel in it and say "my life is so awesome!" or do you say "I have the ability to do things that other people may not have the ability to do".

If you have time, then what can you do with that time to benefit other people? If you have money, then what can you do with that?

Doug: There is definitely a responsibility involved; if you are in a position to be able to have a perspective on the world. Somebody in a war torn country is probably not going to have that perspective, so you kind of have a responsibility to do something with it.

It is very easy to forget about gratitude and to get very caught up in your day-to-day problems and I think that, even if you are regularly reading SOTT and seeing how much horrible stuff is going on in the world, a lot of the time, I know for myself, there is a detachment there. That's what is going on out there meanwhile, I didn't get what I wanted for dinner last night so I'm kind of pissed off about that. It's like your little mundane problems still seem to be able to persist despite the fact that you are aware, in some abstract sense, of how lucky you are.

It does require practice, like Erica was saying, you do actually have to practice gratitude because otherwise, it is very easy to get caught up in the little insignificant things in your daily life.

Erica: I agree. We all have that one friend or co-worker that is like "meeeh, meeeh, meeeh, meeeh, waaaah, waaaah, waaaah" and you are like, "oh my gosh, is that me? Do I sound like that?"

Doug: Yeah, good question. Sometimes I catch myself complaining and it all of a sudden it dawns on me and I'm like "what am I complaining about?" I've got a bed to sleep in.

Erica: That's where you make the little gesture of the cricket playing the violin.

Jonathan: Referring back to comedy again, I like stand-up comedy so a lot of this stuff is coming to mind, the Louis CK bit about the Wi-Fi on the plane; I don't know if you guys have seen that one but he was on a plane where it was their maiden voyage with Wi-Fi on the plane and then the Wi-Fi went down and the guy next to him was like "this sucks" and he was like, "dude, shut the hell up! You are experiencing the miracle of human flight right now and you are complaining about not being about to get internet."

Doug: You are in a tin can thousands of feet above the planet!

Erica: And at least you are not getting irradiated in the process!

Doug: Well you are, but anyway.

Jonathan: You see a lot of examples of that, another one that comes to mind, jeeze, this was a few years ago, there was a YouTube video circulating around of a girl who had gotten a black Iphone for her birthday when she wanted a white one and threw this insane fit; like insane; absolutely nuts; that's systemic. That's an extreme example but we are talking about lack of gratitude for basic things.

I think experiencing gratitude and humility for your present experience can also increase your distress tolerance. Say if you drop your coffee mug and it breaks on the floor and you are like "my day sucks! This is awful!" No, it's not, you just broke your mug. If you gain perspective on it, it can help with that distress tolerance.

Doug: It's like it is so endemic that they have a saying for it now which is "first world problems".

Erica: I was just going to say that.

Doug: I can't believe I got a black Iphone instead of a white one! My life sucks!

Tiffany: That little girl needs to go on a trip to a third world country and see how they live; or maybe just volunteer at a soup kitchen or do something to help somebody else then maybe she won't be such a brat anymore.

Erica: Perspective.

Doug: Maybe one of those situations where you kick start that gratitude.

Jonathan: It makes me think of something from the Carlos Castaneda books, I forget which one this was from but I remember the story vaguely. There was a really ungrateful, complaining person, I don't remember if it was a child or an adult; I think it was a child. Don Juan had counselled this child's parent to hire a big scary goonish man to come and scare the shit out of the kid in order to give them some perspective; kind of scared straight sort of a thing.

Doug: Oh man, parenting advice from Don Juan.

Erica: When my kids would complain about their first world problems, my solution was to always put on a super heavy documentary. There is one called Born in the Brothels about children in India, and afterwards I would be like "do you have a little bit of perspective now?" I may have created a little bit of trauma in the process doing that but I think they learned, "don't complain, mom's going to make us watch some depressing thing!"

Jonathan: Sounds effective.

Erica: Another one of the articles that we wanted to share today was this Channelling Universal Life Force to Heal Your Body, did you guys get a chance to read through that? I found this really fascinating; Therese Wade on Antara Healing Arts. It was a really great synopsis and she talks about ancient cultures and how they understood how we live in a vast sea of energy and that the planets and stars are conscious beings who communicate with each other.

They believe that trees served as antennas which allow natural subtle energies and information to flow up from the earth to the stars and planets, and from other celestial bodies into the earth. They taught that everything and every being has consciousness and channels this energy according to capabilities. They basically help to facilitate this essential cosmic dialogue.

[It talks about] how all matter, including the physical body, is a gathering of this universal energy and that they recognize that our thoughts and emotions are forms of energy and when these are in harmony with the living universal energy field, we become clear channels. So the life force of the earth and cosmos flows through us more smoothly and abundantly.

With this practice of awakening these kind of abilities within ourselves, we experience heightened creativity, extra sensory perception and the ability to bring about dramatic physical healing. She talked a little bit about other cultures, like how this universal sea of energy is called Qi in China, or Prana in India, and how it circulates our bodies and interacts with the electromagnetic spectrum. It includes subtler energies not yet understood by Western science.

We see this in the practice of acupuncture where the needles are used to assist the flow of energy through meridians in the body; and in the practice of martial artists. Also the Hopis in their native ceremonies would use a Kachina doll in order to attract rain or to receive healing energies or other benefits.

The Dogon of Africa too know how to call on this channel and they called it Bayuali. They call the channel through which we receive these energies from the cosmos, the Yenu. So they believe that it is our responsibility as humans, to become clear channels who ease the flow of cosmic energies rather than interfere with or obstruct them.

Tiffany: That made me think of reading Joe Dispenza's work and tie it back to the last article we were just talking about. About how gratitude is so important and Joe Dispenza says that the feeling of gratitude is a very receptive state when it comes to the universe. If you are living in harmony with nature and you have a feeling of gratitude, you don't feel that you are lacking anything, you are OK with the way things are, I think that that can kind of open you up to the universal energy; in a way.

If you are lacking or you are griping or complaining about something, that kind of blocks whatever gifts you might receive from the universe because you are so focused on what you want and what you don't have.

Doug: It kind of ties in with the stuff that Gabor Mate talks about as well and how diseases tend to be a manifestation of this negative emotional state. If you are constantly running this program all the time, this negative program, that it actually interferes with the body in a way. I could be looked at as a blockage of this energy flow, and that, over time, it can actually manifest as some sort of disease or some sort of ailment or an injury; something along those lines. It's a really interesting article and you can connect dots in a lot of ways on this one.

Tiffany: Particularly if you are thinking of your fascia and how certain emotions can impact that. Your fascia is like, if you picture all the muscles in your body and your organs wrapped in Saran wrap. It covers everything and connects everything in your body and if you have negative emotions, it can impact the flow of energy throughout your fascia.

Erica: We will put it up in the chat, but in the article she talks about how these feelings, this blocking, like you were talking about Doug, gets stuck in your body; in those networks. In a past show we talked about issues in your tissues, about how, aside from actual physical injuries, like the Gabor Mate work, you can hold these things in your body.

Just to share a personal anecdote to that, last week, after our show, I started to feel this immense pain in my shoulders and my head and I think that it was the heaviness of the information, and I found that I was starting to get a headache and just feeling like it was weighing on my physical body; knowing all these things, and discussing it and sharing it. I ended up going down into the creek and putting my head under the water, with my whole body, and just visualizing these things and just washing them away.

Tiffany: You baptized yourself in the holy water.

Erica: It literally left, the headache left; I can honestly say and Tiffany can verify.

Tiffany: I'm a witness. Hallelujah!

Erica: Here we think we have all this awareness but these things can physically get stuck in your body and knowing how to identify that and release it, or having other people say "you look a little tense, your shoulders are hunched" or "your jaw's clenched"; to have that release, or at least try and release it.

Doug: It's interesting too because that whole fascia aspect is pretty fascinating; a little play on words there, I don't know if you caught that. I think that it's not just some sort of esoteric energy thing because the fascia actually have all these little vessels running through them that bring nutrients and blood and water and all these different things to the different cells, so even looking at it from a very physical perspective, having a place where the fascia is all bunched up, which can tend to happen from either chronic postures or chronic bad movements patterns, [means] the fascia can really tighten up in certain areas. It does actually block the flow of that vital stuff that your cells actually need.

There certainly is a physical aspect to it and if an emotion can lead to a chronic posture, and that chronic posture can lead to tension in the fascia, then you have a very physical mechanism right there. We don't even have to look at it from some esoteric energy perspective, it does actually have a physical aspect to it.

Jonathan: Erica, your story about getting down in the creek made me think of this other article that we have here called Science Shows Precisely Why Trees Literally Help Reduce Stress. I thought that this was kind of interesting, "A study published in 2012, that examined tree canopy in urban settings, found more tree cover led to less crime. Linked more to psycho-social connection than the calming power of the trees, themselves, the effect is still remarkable. Trees in a neighborhood, according to the study, imply it is better cared for than one without them, suggesting to criminals there will be more police" etc. etc.

That's more like a psychological kind of thing. They said that "trees have started to tune themselves into the urban environment" which I thought was kind of a weird statement "benefiting from all of those things we might have thought would kill them, more green space means less stress, less heat, more attentive kids, and less crime. Despite their manifold impact, trees might not be the solution to all of civilization's problems; but they might just keep us a little more relaxed while we go about our business."

It's interesting, they are talking about the psychological impact of being around trees; in an urban environment specifically. As an addendum to this, I would add that I think that grounding would play into that as well; actually go and hug a tree.

Erica: I was just going to say that.

Jonathan: I know for myself, where I live, we don't have mountains, but it's hilly and we have a lot of trees and we have a lot of water and throughout my life, I have come to discover that that is what I need to feel at home. I know that there are a lot of people who like the high desert and I know that there are a lot of people that like urban environments and to each their own, but for me, when I am in a city, I just feel off and if I am out in a wide open space, like in Iowa, I don't feel comfortable, I don't like it. I need trees and water and hills; that's just a personal example I guess.

Erica: In the article, they said that spending time amongst trees and other vegetation reduces stress and actually eases brain fatigue. It lowers cortisol, a stress related hormone, so I agree, go hug a tree. Sometimes I feel so silly, like I'm outside and it's like "just hug that tree, just hug it. Hug that tree!" and practice gratitude in the moment of hugging the tree and don't worry if somebody walks by and goes "OK, that person is hugging the tree". "Come, hug the tree with me!"

Tiffany: That's the thing about being in nature, I'm looking out the windows now and all I can see is green and it's so beautiful. When you go out in nature, you are kind of put in this position where you pretty much have no choice but to reflect on it, and to look at the beauty all around you. It's hard to get wrapped up in city life when you are out hugging trees.

Erica: It's like what Yarrow Willard, the herbalist said, that just going on a walk and observing everything; the flowers and the grass.

Tiffany: And the smells and the sounds.

Doug: Just connecting the dots with that last article we were talking about; the channeling of universal energy. In that article, they mentioned that the ancients looked at trees as antennae. They are antennae for receiving universal energy, but at the same time, for transmitting earth energy out to the universe. Being amongst these antennae, you may be more exposed to that universal energy.

That makes me think of the Gurdjieff and Mouravieff type stuff where they talk about how organic life on earth's whole purpose is like being a film over the planet that communicates. The organic life serves that function of transmitting that universal energy to the planet; going way out in left field here maybe but I just think that it's interesting to look at this from a perspective where it is very nice and very calming to be in nature but there might actually be a lot more going on here under the surface.

Erica: There was another article connected to that called Hiking in Nature is Cleansing to the Mind, Body and Soul. It was addressing what we were talking about earlier, this idea of rumination, where you are sitting inside and you are ruminating. This article talks about how hiking in nature can reduce that.

When we find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, just get out and start walking and it actually slows that rumination. A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

"They found that people walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness." They talk about how "increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness" so it kind of all ties together with what we were talking about throughout this show; disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature; getting that high from your outdoor environment.

Tiffany: You don't even have to think about it, nature, by its very nature, puts you in that state where you are reflecting on the beauty that is all around you. There was another article that was talking about getting high on dirt and there are actually bacteria in the dirt that helps your body release dopamine. If you are a gardener, I'm not really a gardener, I've planted a few shrubs here and there; wilting flowers, but the hardcore gardeners, they are really into it and you have got to think, what are they getting out of it?

It's not just because they are outside in nature, maybe they are actually getting something, some kind of physical boost from it that they can't really articulate but then science explains that the bacteria in the dirt can actually raise your dopamine levels.

Doug: It's not just getting out in nature and looking around but it's almost like getting nature into you; you know what I mean? You are actually out there experiencing it and exchanging with nature. I'm not necessarily suggesting that anybody go out there and start eating dirt but get your hands dirty!

Tiffany: Maybe that will explain why dogs like to roll around in the dirt; take a little dirt bath, you see animals in nature doing that all the time.

Doug: Dogs roll in a lot of stuff though so I don't know if all of it is necessary. I used to have a dog and we went camping one time and my dog found a dead fish and we didn't know where it was but he kept on coming back smelling like dead fish because as soon as we washed him off, he would run back out and find it and roll in it again. I'm not advocating rolling in dead fish.

Tiffany: Dogs have a very super heightened sense of smell so maybe they can smell the special mycobacterium that's in it; I'm just speculating here.

Erica: They are building their immune systems. They also have a lot of studies about kids growing up on farms and being exposed to dirt and bacteria and even dogs, and that it reduces asthma. The kids are calmer, especially children with ADHD; getting them outside and letting them earth or ground or just connect with that environment. We tend to live in such an artificial environment and people are so busy, busy, busy that I drive here, I go home, I go to the office. It's funny that you have to have articles like this come out to remind you to do what people did for eons.

Doug: We have dwelled on this on the show many times before; about the over protective parents these days where they don't want their kids to touch any "dirt", the overuse of antibacterial soaps and all these kinds of things. The idea that people need to be sealed in this hermetically sealed environment where nothing, no possible bacteria could ever harm them, it's such a delusional viewpoint. Let your kids play in the dirt for crying out loud, they are doing themselves some good.

Erica: I agree 100%

Jonathan: I know for myself, I get OCD about chemicals; cleaning chemicals; I'll frantically wash my hands after using 409 or something like that. I don't have that same reaction if I am out in the woods or in the dirt or gardening. If I get dirty from the ground, I don't have that same kind of panic; like "I need to clean myself" feeling.

Tiffany: It doesn't have that same ick factor.

Erica: I have known very old farmers that will cut themselves while working in the field and their remedy is to take dirt and rub it in the wound.

Doug: Woah, really?

Erica: It goes back to what Tiffany talked about, about that beneficial microbe. If you are living in a super polluted environment, then that might not be the best thing to do. With kids, it's like "clean it out, clean it out!" and there may be something to that; it's an old farmer's tale.

Tiffany: You don't want to be rubbing glyphosate into your wounds.

Doug: Definitely not.

Jonathan: Along similar lines, you had mentioned dogs and I had a friend whose uncle had hunting dogs and if he had cut himself, would let the dogs lick the wound until they licked it clean; then it would heal. So get out, get dirty and play with your dogs. We are kind of nearing the end of our time but I think we have some time to go over our last couple of topics here.

The power of silence is something that we had wanted to talk about and I think it's a really interesting topic. There is an article called Silence is Much More Important to our Brains then we Think and if you are looking at the SOTT radio page, one of the images in the slideshow there says "Mice exposed to 2 hours of silence per day develop new cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning".

This is something that I struggle with personally too, just because I know I have always got to have a podcast or something; it helps me to have a fan while I am sleeping. These are habits of mine but every once in awhile, it occurs to me, do I really need the background noise? What is going on in my head that I can't listen to or deal with?

Doug: That kind of thing drives me nuts actually, I don't think you and I would make very compatible roommates. I had a roommate at one point who would always have the news or some kind of thing on in the background, like all the time and it drove me insane. It's like can't we just have some silence?

It's interesting though, I think you need to put silence into perspective in some ways because I think, realistically, there is no such thing as absolute silence. If you think about our evolutionary background when we are out in nature, when you are out in nature, there is no real silence. You can listen and there is always birds or crickets or even if you don't hear any of that, there is the wind; there is always some kind of thing going on. I think that it's more about decreasing noise, the human created background, constant noise that's there.

When you are in an urban environment, you learn to tune it out but you have always got traffic, you have always got construction, you have always got neighbors, all this noise in the background, and I think that what they are talking about here is kind of like getting a chance to get away from that.

Tiffany: That's why I don't like alarm clocks.

Doug: Neither do I.

Tiffany: I don't want anything jarring me out of my sleep; they are just too noisy. In the article, they said that silence releases tension and it can be more relaxing than an equal amount of music. Say you spent 2 minutes just being in the quiet somewhere in nature, which isn't necessarily silent but comparatively silent, they said it can be more relaxing than an equal amount of music.
It used to be, if I went for a walk in the woods somewhere, I would always want to wear my headphones and listen to some music but now I don't do that anymore. I want to hear the wind rustling through the leaves and hear the birds and the crickets and furry things running around in the leaves.

Doug: I agree, that seems to be kind of epidemic as well, every person you see around has headphones plugged in; all the time; just wanting to tune out everything that is around them. I have never really been that kind of person so I don't really relate to it. Especially the younger generation, always with the headphones in; always.

Erica: In that article, they also talked about Florence Nightingale, the 19th century British nurse and social activist, and she wrote that "unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on the sick or the well." She argued that "needless sounds cause distress, sleep loss and alarm for recovering patients."

Tiffany: Hospitals aren't a great place to get sleep, that is for sure. If you ever have to go to a hospital, try to get as far away from the nurse's station as possible.

Doug: Yet another reason why hospitals are not the best for healing.

Jonathan: In our chatroom here, somebody had just said that noise is used as a torture and I think that's an interesting thing. A common torture device is loud music blaring; grating sounds. Then there is also sensory deprivation too, but that is different from what we are talking about because Doug, you made that point that there is never true absence of sound and it's maybe more about just being with what is around you.

Another person in the chat room made the point that the point is to be able to hear your own thoughts and not distract yourself with noise or music; perhaps that's why. Like I said, this is something that I struggle with too; always listening to a podcast, having something going; it's the internal dialogue and it's a weakness of mine. I try to work on it but I'm not always successful to be able to just sit; all of a sudden, my mind starts to race and I'm like "oh crap, I have to deal with this now!" I wonder of the younger generation is more susceptible to that because of the EMF pollution, the entertainment, the vapid culture that we are surrounded by, they maybe have a higher level of anxiety and thoughts that they are compelled to tune out?

Doug: I was just going to say that one of the comments in the chat said that perhaps meditation is a good form of silence; internal silence. I think that one of the articles we read was actually talking about that, that part of the noise that we are constantly exposed to is just within ourselves; that constant rumination or anxiety or whatever those constant thought loops that are always going.

Part of, I think, enjoying silence is also using it as a way of stopping those internal dialogues as well. I don't think that there is any way, well, maybe for yogis or something like that, to have absolute internal silence but the idea that you can quiet that stuff and maybe be a little bit more in the present moment.

Tiffany: That being said, music is fantastic!

Doug: Good segue.

Tiffany: Thank you.

Erica: One of our articles was about how choral singing boosts mood, immune function and reduces stress. Do any of you sing in a choir?

Tiffany: Not currently, but I used to. In elementary school and junior high school, it was fun. Singing stimulates your vagus nerve so it'll reduce your stress, plus it's fun. Especially if you get a nice good song and you can hold some notes; even if you don't sound that good.

Jonathan: I used to be in a choir too and I remember I had a lot of teen angst at that time and I just remember thinking "all these people are so annoyingly happy". I guess I wasn't experiencing that at the time.

Tiffany: In this article about choral singing, there is this one guy, he is obviously insane, but he is a psychologist named Steven Pinker and he said that "music is a spandrel, which is a useless evolutionary bi-product of another useful trait" and he said that "music is just something that took off from language and it provides no advantage and serves no purpose." I just want to slap his face.

Erica: I disagree.

Jonathan: I disagree too.

Doug: I've heard someone say the same thing about dancing too; that dancing is completely useless; there is no reason to actually do it. Those people just sound like stick in the muds.

Tiffany: Like soulless robots.

Doug: It's expressive.

Jonathan: I can definitely attest to that now, I'm an amateur musician. I'm a guitar player and I write some songs and I haven't played out in a while but there is nothing quite like the feeling of getting into a song and singing it and hitting it; when you are getting it right and you are in the flow and you are feeling the melody and the sound, the vibration is coming out of your throat. It really is quite a thing.

Tiffany: I had one of those experiences last week, I was taking a long drive back from the airport and I was just singing. I sing a decent amount anyway but this time I totally got into it and I was like "oh my God!" I felt like my body was vibrating, I was like "wow, that song was awesome!" It was a song called The Golden Time of Day and he was singing about the sunrise and the sunset and happy people and feelings and all that stuff and I was like "yeah, rock out!"

Doug: There was another article on SOTT actually, called The Magic of Music is the Balm for the Body and Soul. It goes through nine different points where there have been studies that have found how music can be beneficial.

I'll just go through them quickly here, music helps control blood pressure and heart related disorders, listening and playing music helps treat stress and depression, music therapy helps treat Alzheimer's disease, studying music boosts academic achievement in high schoolers, playing guitar and other instruments aids in treating PTSD, studying music boosts brain development in young children, music education helps children improve reading skills, listening to music helps improve sleep and playing didgeridoo helps treat sleep apnea.

Tiffany: Wow, that was really interesting. I wonder if it applies to all wind instruments? It's kind of hard to get your hands on a real nice didgeridoo but you might be able to get a flute from somewhere and help your sleep apnea.

Doug: I wonder what the mechanism is there?

Erica: I know that to play the didgeridoo, you have to do round breathing.

Tiffany: It says that it strengthens your pharyngeal muscles in your throat, and that is tied to sleep apnea. There was this really beautiful video embedded in that article, where this lady was working at a nursing home and there was this old guy with his head down; he could barely put out two words.

They gave him headphones with music that he used to listen to when he was growing up; when he was younger; like Big Band, and his eyes lit up and he was able to talk in full sentences and talk about why he loved music and what he liked about it; it was really nice.

Erica: It does seem like an evolutionary thing. I'm going to use a really cheesy example, but during Christmas, you know you go into a store and they are playing Christmas music, and as much as you try and not sing along, you find yourself [sings a tune]. So I think it's also a way to bond.

Tiffany: That's one of the reasons I like Christmas so much; not because of the presents. I don't really care about the presents any more, but sitting around and singing Christmas carols.

Jonathan: So I guess we come back again to the idea of balance; silence is really important and music is really important and striking a balance between the two.

Erica: I find that sometimes when I am in silence that I start humming to myself. Not because I need to hear anything necessarily but it's almost like this internal need to vibrate with the universe.

Tiffany: I would do that too, like when I worked in hospitals and it was a really stressful day, I would just start humming. It's probably some subconscious effort to stimulate my vagus nerve but it did make me feel better.

Erica: Like whistling when you walk through a graveyard?

Doug: There is one comment in the chat that says that "I think it is because music connects" and that was actually one thing that was mentioned in the choral singing article that we were talking about; that there is a sense of community there as well. Everybody is there, co-operating in some kind of project that everybody is working together on.

I guess getting together collectively and stimulating your vagus nerve and activating the parasympathetic nervous system is certainly part of it, but just connecting with people and sharing something I think is important.

Tiffany: If you are all singing together and you are harmonizing or tuning in with each other, that's a way of increasing your frequency resonance vibration with other people; same with dancing too, if you are doing the same moves and the same dances.

Doug: Limbic resonance.

Jonathan: Talking about connection brings me to one of our last articles here. We were talking about the idea of self-improvement and things that you can do and we have been touching on that topic. This article Friendships Are Better than Drugs for Taking Pain Away was kind of interesting.

Erica: As long as you are not doing drugs with your friends. Sorry, I had to lighten it up.

Jonathan: Subtitle: Friends are Better to do Drugs with.

Tiffany: Get high with a little help from your friends.

Jonathan: Oxford University researchers have found that people with more friends have a higher pain tolerance and that is interesting, especially considering the prevalence of Facebook and how the word friend has become associated with Facebook and social networks; online social networks.

You friend somebody or you unfriend somebody and I can help but feel that it's taken the oomph out of the word. It has almost corrupted that meaning in our mind.

Doug: I don't know obviously, but I would speculate that Facebook friends probably don't give you that same kind of biochemical reaction that an actual friend does; like face to face. When chatting with somebody on Facebook, I would imagine, you are not getting the same social bonding cues that you get when you are actually face to face with somebody and hanging out and sharing a laugh. Those things, I think, are what really is missing from that whole social network world.

Tiffany: I think the good thing about Facebook is, if you already have established these real life bonds with people and you move away from each other, it's a good way to stay connected in that way. It might give you the same kind of boost if you already knew them in real life and you are now chatting with them on Facebook because they live in Hawaii or wherever, but that is the only good thing that I can see about Facebook; that and sharing articles here and there.

According to this article, I looked into the study that they did and I think they should've said that the stronger thighs you have, the more pain tolerance you have, because how they tested the pain tolerance was they had this big group of people, like 107 people of 18-34 year olds, and they made them do the wall sit test. Like when you put your back up against the wall and you squat down, and they made them hold it until they couldn't hold it any more.

So the ones who could tolerate more pain, I guess they got the highest score but I think it should have been stronger thighs - better pain tolerance.

Doug: Maybe people with more friends have stronger thighs.

Erica: I think that there is a slippery slope there too because, like you were saying Jonathan, it's the definition of a true friend and whether we hold on to these relationships with people that we think are friends but are not; to have that discernment. When we are around people that you call friends and you feel exhausted and drained afterwards, maybe that is something to look at.

People that you are around that generally make you feel better, who you can have deep, meaningful conversations with and have that social bonding. In a few of those articles they talk about how isolation is so prevalent in this time too, and a lot of people don't have that. Maybe it's better to have one good friend than a bunch of shabby friends.

Jonathan: We are getting close to our time here, do you guys want to go to Zoya's segment? She has got some kind of fun, joyful stuff for us today. Maybe when we come back from that we will have a recipe to wrap up.

Zoya: Hello, and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. In today's segment, I am going to share with you a couple of interesting news items about one of the most popular dog breeds and something else curious and cute.

The most popular dog breed appears to be the Labrador Retriever and most who have these dogs as their companions will agree that Labs also have another name - K9 vacuum cleaners. No one knew for sure why Labradors were so fixed on eating everything around them, why Labradors Retrievers love food so much; or anything else that they can swallow.

Now there is an answer, new research shows that apparently Labrador and Flat Coat Retrievers, which are related to Labrador Retrievers, are unable to produce two substances usually involved in turning off hunger after a meal; the neuropeptides beta-MSH and beta-Endorphin. The mutation appears to be specific to Labradors and Flat Coat Retrievers, and correlates with an increased tendency toward food motivated behavior.
The researchers say that there is a hard-wired biological reason for the dog's food obsession, although the team observed many dogs in the study that were obsessed with food but did not have the mutation.

Another interesting fact is that Labs that are chosen as assistant dogs, are also more likely to have this variation offering a potential explanation as to why these breeds appear to be more trainable with food rewards. Apparently, 76% of Labrador assistant dogs have this deletion. This surprised the researchers who speculate that the Labrador's interest in food could be what makes them more suitable for assistant dog training as this tends to involve food rewards.

Confirmation of this could come by looking at puppies and finding out whether these with the mutation, are more likely to qualify as assistant dogs. What does this study imply for owners of Labrador Retrievers? The behavior of dogs carrying this mutation is different, you can keep a dog with this mutation slim but you have to be more on-the-ball, you have to be more rigorous about portion control and you have to be more resistant to your dog giving you the big brown eyes.

If you keep a really food motivated Labrador slim, you should yourself a pat on the back because it is much harder for you than it is for someone with a less food motivated dog. But of course, it also means that you should appreciate your furry buddy even more, because clearly, not being an animal vacuum cleaner requires a serious exercise of will and is literally going against their genetic predisposition.

The next item is about Retrievers also, specifically Golden Retrievers, but unfortunately, the news isn't particularly positive. Apparently, Golden Retrievers have the highest risk for cancer amongst all dog breeds. As it happens, the smaller the dog, the lower the risk of cancer. In fact, the rate of cancer in small dogs like the Chihuahua and Maltese, is less than 10%. Scientists believe that a hormone that influences bone and tissue growth which exists at a lower level in smaller breeds may be a factor.

But, here is something important to keep in mind. Surprisingly, the high rate of cancer in Goldens is a fairly recent development. In 1988, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's study, Goldens weren't mentioned as having a higher rate of cancer than other breeds, however, just 11 years later, in 1999, over 60% of these dogs in the US alone, were being lost to cancer.

Another fact is, that European-bred Golden Retrievers develop cancer at a much lower rate; under 40% than US Goldens. Their genes are significantly different which suggests the risk of cancer in American Goldens is a result, in part, of a fairly recent gene mutation. Researchers studying cancer in the breed, have identified genetic alterations common to Goldens with hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.

These gene mutations modify the regulation of the immune system's surveillance for tumor cells. Now, researchers say that it happens due to strict breeding regulations and rules and this creates an isolated, close population of dogs within each breed which keeps the gene pool small. In addition, there is something called the "popular sire effect" wherein certain dogs are bred over and over again. But surely nutrition and maintenance play a large role in developing cancer too, therefore, here are five things you can do in order to lower the chances of your Golden Retriever developing cancer.

Don't allow your dog to become overweight, feed them anti-inflammatory, natural species appropriate diet, reduce or eliminate your dog's exposure to toxins, allow your dog to remain intact, not neutered or spayed; at least until the age of 18 months or up to two years, and refuse unnecessary vaccination or unnecessary combinations of vaccines.

That's it for news items about dogs, the final news item is about something called cute aggression, or why seeing 'cuties' makes us want to give them a gigantic squeeze. New research by two Yale University psychologists details how the sight of something cute, brings up our aggressive side. Researchers investigated cute aggression by showing study participants slideshows of cute, funny or normal animal photographs, as they watched, the participants held bubble wrap.

The researchers attempting to mimic the common desire to squeeze cute things, told subjects to pop as many or as few bubbles as they wanted. People watching the cute slideshow popped significantly more bubbles than those viewing the funny or control pictures. Researchers concluded that some things are so cute that we just can't stand it!

Cute aggression's prevalence does not mean that people actually want to harm cuddly creatures, rather, the response could be protective or it could be the brain's way of damping down or venting extreme feelings of giddiness and happiness. The scientists are currently conducting additional studies to determine what drives the need to squeeze.

This is it for today, I hope that you found the information interesting. Have a nice weekend with a lot of giggly and cute moments; and goodbye!

Jonathan: I've got some cute aggression towards those goats.

Tiffany: Maybe the Yellowstone tourists had cute aggression against that baby bison.

Jonathan: Maybe.

Doug: Quick, throw it in the car!

Tiffany: It's so cute!

Jonathan: Thanks Zoya, that was good. We have got a recipe for today which somebody had posted on the Forum and I made this and it came out well. It's interesting, so before I get into the weirdness about it; chocolate gelatin squares.

Erica: Chocolatin squares!

Tiffany: Chocolatin squares!

Jonathan: This makes two 8 by 8-inch pans, or one larger 8 by 16-inch pan. Of course you can experiment depending on how thick you want them to be. It was pretty easy to make, so you need 6 tablespoons of gelatin, one cup of cold water, 2 cups of cocoa powder, 2 cups of coconut oil. Now the recipe calls for a 2/3rds cup of raw honey or maple syrup, but I used a tablespoon of stevia and that worked out well.

Of course you can use your own calculations if you want to substitute erythritol or sorbitol or anything like that. I guess if you want to work off of the measurement of just shy of a cup of sugar, whatever that translates to. For me, that was a tablespoon of stevia, 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 2 ½ cups of boiling water.

First of all, you place the gelatin and the cold water into a blender and let it sit for about 5 minutes. You may want to go a little bit less than 5 minutes, I did the full 5 minutes and it was almost impossible to blend at that point; it had gelled up and it wouldn't actually blend. The goal, I think, is just to hydrate the gelatin.

Add all the other ingredients except the boiling water and you want to melt your coconut oil in a pan on the side, or if you want to microwave it, just get the coconut oil soft or even liquidy before you mix it in. With the volume of this recipe, I also found that I have the standard 4 or 5 cup blender and it filled it all the way to the top and it was really hard to get everything in there so I actually ended up putting everything into a bowl and using a hand mixer instead of the blender.

You might want to do half of the recipe at a time, or just do it in a bowl with a mixer instead. So, add all the ingredients except the boiling water, including the coconut oil, blend it all together and then add the boiling water very last. You want to minimize the time of the boiling water in the blender; I think that's partially so it doesn't explode on you; that was also easier to do in a bowl with a mixer.

Blend everything together and be careful not to have it splash up, then basically just pour it into a greased pan. I actually put parchment paper down in the pan and then poured it into that, that made it easier to peel out. Then let it settle in the fridge. I want to say it took about an hour and a half, maybe two hours to really settle and become solidified. Then you take it out and cut it into squares and what you end up with is essentially chocolate jello and this is where it is strange.

I found that when I took a bite of it, my subconscious mind was expecting a brownie and the texture of the gelatin was like uuugh; it was kind of weird but once you get over that, it's very good. It is a good source of fat and a good source of gelatin because you have a lot of gelatin in there. It's tasty and I also noticed that I got quite an energy kick out of it and I'm not sure if that was the cocoa maybe; the theobromine in the cocoa.

Doug: 2 cups of cocoa? Yeah, I think so.

Tiffany: Can you do the recipe with butter?

Jonathan: You know I didn't try that, but you probably could. So really quick, that was 6 tablespoons of gelatin, 1 cup of cold water, 2 cups of cocoa powder, 2 cups of coconut oil, your sweetener equivalent to 2/3rds of a cup of sugar, I used a tablespoon of stevia, 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla and 2 ½ cups of boiling water.

I would encourage you guys to try it out, they come out pretty good and there is a nice aftertaste from the cocoa and the coconut oil and they are easy to carry around, they stay solid at room temp which is nice because my homemade chocolate doesn't do that. So, that's the recipe for today.

Doug: Sounds good.

Tiffany: Sounds weird but good too.

Jonathan: It is, I don't want to discourage people because of the weirdness; it is strange though; I would definitely try it out.

Erica: Invite friends over and do a taste test.

Jonathan: Or better yet, give it to one of your friends and tell them it's a brownie and watch their face.

Erica: Psych!

Jonathan: I guess that's our show for today so I want to thank everybody for tuning in. Thanks to our chat participants for taking part in that and I really appreciate everybody listening to the show. Hopefully we touched on some happy topics today. We will be back next Friday, we are working on a guest for the show but I don't know if we will have that person by next Friday or not, but definitely stay tuned.

Be sure to listen to the Truth Perspective on Sunday at noon Eastern time on Radio.SOTT.net, no matter what your time zone is, just check Radio.SOTT.net and you can see the air time for that. That's it, so thanks guys and have a great weekend. We will see you next week!

All: [Goodbyes]