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Tue, 28 Feb 2017
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Take rest: Restorative yoga triggers your relaxation response

I was having coffee with an old friend when I found myself interrupted—repeatedly—by a series of "helpful" reminders and messages from my smartphone. With each blrrpt, boop, and ping, my breath caught, my neck muscles tightened, and my jaw clenched.

This unconscious gripping is the work of the autonomic nervous system, or "fight-or-flight" response. Though few of us will face an actual saber-toothed tiger, the body's ancient physical reaction to attack remains a default setting in stress-filled modern times, says Judith Hanson Lasater, a teacher of restorative yoga.

But our intelligent human bodies also possess the ability to shut down an overactive stress response, she says. The parasympathetic nervous system triggers the "rest-and-digest" mode: the heart rate decreases, muscles relax, breathing slows, and blood pressure drops. Ahhh . . .

Fortunately, we can learn to activate the triggers that tell our bodies it's time to slow down. And with a little practice, we can train ourselves to remain in that relaxed state long term, Lasater says. The practice uses props and long, mostly supine, holds to passively open the body.

"Deep relaxation is not a pill to take, it is a powerful choice to make," she says. "We can change our mental state through our body and consciously choose a different way."

Target

Ariana Grande, Twitter thread on sexism requires 'otherworldly patience'

© New York Daily News
Ariana Grande at the 2016 Grammys
Pop superstar Ariana Grande has mediated a remarkably cool-headed discussion about sexual harassment and objectification on Twitter this week, proving that the social media platform can occasionally rise above the bubbling fecal puddle of its loudest user base.

On Tuesday, Grande tweeted that she was getting takeout with boyfriend Mac Miller when a "young boy" followed Miller to the car to tell him how big a fan he was. Grande wrote that, sitting in the passenger seat, "I thought all of this was cute and exciting until he said 'ariana is sexy as hell man i see you, i see you hitting that!!!' *pause* Hitting that? the f**k??"


The encounter made Grande feel "sick and objectified," she wrote; since it happened, she's been "really quiet and hurt." It may seem trivial to some, she continued, but these too frequent reminders that women are viewed as achievements or belongings for which to congratulate fellow men "contribute to women's sense of fear and inadequacy."

Comment: How to cope with the residual effects of degrading insults and sexual innuendo is an emotionally crippling problem for many women, but it becomes especially prevalent for those in the celebrity spotlight deemed 'public property.' This young woman had courage and patience to take on stereotypical responses and convey the damage inherent in this thoughtless behavior. Maybe it will always be this way and men remain crass and clueless, but women have both a right and a say in how they are treated by the other half of humanity.


Brain

The late effects of stress: New insights into how the brain responds to trauma

© Chattarji laboratory
This is a pyramidal neuron.
Mrs. M would never forget that day. She was walking along a busy road next to the vegetable market when two goons zipped past on a bike. One man's hand shot out and grabbed the chain around her neck. The next instant, she had stumbled to her knees, and was dragged along in the wake of the bike. Thankfully, the chain snapped, and she got away with a mildly bruised neck. Though dazed by the incident, Mrs. M was fine until a week after the incident.

Then, the nightmares began.

She would struggle and yell and fight in her sleep every night with phantom chain snatchers. Every bout left her charged with anger and often left her depressed. The episodes continued for several months until they finally stopped. How could a single stressful event have such extended consequences?

A new study by Indian scientists has gained insights into how a single instance of severe stress can lead to delayed and long-term psychological trauma. The work pinpoints key molecular and physiological processes that could be driving changes in brain architecture.

Comment: See also:


Music

Researchers discover the most relaxing song on Earth

Scientists discover that listening to the song "Weightless" by Marconi Union can results in a striking 65 percent reduction in a person's overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

The Anxiety Pandemic
"Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained." ~ Arthur Somers Roche
Anxiety is a growing pandemic in our society. The mainstream solution is a trip to the psychiatrist and an indefinite prescription for pharmaceuticals. As a result, many anxiety sufferers find themselves dependent on psychotropic drugs but still searching for relief.

Because of this, it begs the question if a pharmaceutical solution even works. Many believe that treating anxiety with a holistic approach may be more effective than expensive, addictive and sometimes even dangerous psychotropic drugs. Holistic alternatives range from treating anxiety with foods that fight inflammation, to exercise, yoga, and meditation. People also like to use age-old tricks for calming nerves, such as breath exercises.

Yoda

The philosophical musings of Bruce Lee


You will never get any more out of life than you expect. — Bruce Lee
Although Bruce Lee is best known for his legendary legacy in martial arts and film, he was also one of the most under appreciated philosophers of the twentieth century, instrumental in introducing Eastern traditions to Western audiences.

A philosophy major in college, he fused ancient ideas with his own singular ethos informed by the intersection of physical and psychological discipline, the most famous manifestation of which is his water metaphor for resilience.

Early in his career, Lee was systematically sidelined by Hollywood's studio system, which operated with extreme racial bias and still used white actors to portray stereotypical Asian characters. Over and over, Lee was told in no uncertain terms that white audiences simply wouldn't accept an Asian man as a lead character in a movie.

People

Why you should care less about what (most) other people think

© Getty

Part 1: Meet Your Mammoth


The first day I was in second grade, I came to school and noticed that there was a new, very pretty girl in the class—someone who hadn't been there the previous two years. Her name was Alana and within an hour, she was everything to me.

When you're seven, there aren't really any actionable steps you can take when you're in love with someone. You're not even sure what you want from the situation. There's just this amorphous yearning that's a part of your life, and that's that.

But for me, it became suddenly relevant a few months later, when during recess one day, one of the girls in the class started asking each of the boys, "Who do youuu want to marry?" When she asked me, it was a no-brainer. "Alana."

Disaster.

I was still new to being a human and didn't realize that the only socially acceptable answer was, "No one."

Heart

Breath of life: The scientific health benefits of controlled breathing

According to ancient yogic texts, our vital life force —our Prana or our breath — derives from Pranayama, the practice of controlled breathing. Science is finally starting to catch up to the knowledge outlined in the Vedas, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and other ancient texts.

Meditation has been practiced for the past 5,000 years on Earth, yet science is only now starting to recognize and understand the significant health benefits it has on the human body. These benefits can be observed while meditating and can be seen during the day-to-day lives of regular meditators as well.

Comment: Deep Breathing Exercises Can Improve Your Life


Cell Phone

When technology becomes too much of a good thing: Tips for breaking your screen addiction

It's tough to disconnect in an always-on world. Many people have shared with me how their devices are an extension of their bodies to them. Arriving at the store or their office, realizing they've forgotten their phone, results in anxiety. Most of us probably know that overuse of the internet is not a good thing for us, but like all habits, they are hard to break. Since connectivity's a big part of today's culture and can negatively influence our mental health, it's a trend we need to pay attention to. Here are five of my favorite tips that address negative tech habit.

Do not start your day with email:

It can set a negative tone for your whole day. The moment when you wake up, it's not a great idea to read that email about another meeting that's a waste of time or get a reminder for an overdue bill. You're cranky before the day even begins. Start your day with a short devotional or a few moments in the sunshine to begin on a calm note.

Comment: Further reading:


Cross

The Real 'Clash of Civilizations'? Spiritual Roots of Russo-American Conflict

© Pavel Kazachkov
The Kremlin in Moscow
Whatever Russia is called outwardly, there is an inner eternal Russia whose embryonic character places her on an antithetical course to that of the USA.

The rivalry between the USA and Russia is something more than geopolitics or economics. These are reflections of antithetical worldviews of a spiritual character. The German conservative historian-philosopher Oswald Spengler, who wrote of the morphology of cultures as having organic life-cycles, in his epochal book The Decline of The West had much to say about Russia that is too easily mistaken as being of a Russophobic nature. That is not the case, and Spengler wrote of Russia in similar terms to that of the 'Slavophils'. Spengler, Dostoyevski, Berdyaev, and Solzhenistyn have much of relevance to say in analyzing the conflict between the USA and Russia. Considering the differences as fundamentally 'spiritual' explains why this conflict will continue and why the optimism among Western political circles at the prospect of a compliant Russia, fully integrated into the 'world community', was so short-lived.

Of the religious character of this confrontation, an American analyst, Paul Coyer, has written:
Amidst the geopolitical confrontation between Vladimir Putin's Russia and the US and its allies, little attention has been paid to the role played by religion either as a shaper of Russian domestic politics or as a means of understanding Putin's international actions. The role of religion has long tended to get short thrift in the study of statecraft (although it has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance of late), yet nowhere has it played a more prominent role—and perhaps nowhere has its importance been more unrecognized—than in its role in supporting the Russian state and Russia's current place in world affairs.1

Apple Red

How to get rid of old habits and find your true Self

One of the biggest lies we have come to believe about ourselves and our true nature is that we are nothing more than physical beings defined by a material reality, devoid of dimension and vital energy, and separate from God—which I trust you know by now is within us and all around us. To keep the truth about our real identity from us is not only enslaving, but it asserts that we are finite beings living a linear life that lacks real meaning.

Creating A New Mind

The assertion that there are no realms and no life beyond our physical world and that we have no control over our destiny is not a "truth" that you and I should ever believe in. You are a multidimensional being who creates your reality. Helping you accept this idea as your law and new belief has been my labor in my book. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself means that you are going to have to lose your mind and create a new one.

Comment: To learn more about Dr. Joe Dispenza's work and how to make real changes to your mind, emotions and life, read Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One.