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Sun, 25 Aug 2019
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Perils of grumpiness: Older adults prone to anger more likely to have high levels of inflammation leading to chronic diseases

anger, anger physical health

Researchers say that older adults who regularly show anger are more likely to have higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to numerous chronic illnesses.
Being angry or being sad aren't particularly ideal dispositions for sound mental health, but which is worse when it comes to physical health? A new study finds that anger appears to be much more harmful, with the potential to increase one's risk for ailments like heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer in old age.

Older adults may be more prone to feeling upset as their health worsens and day-to-day tasks grow more challenging. But for those who seem to become angry over the most trivial things, here's more reason to show greater concern rather than shrug them off as simply becoming the grumpy old men or angry old ladies in our lives.

Researchers say that older adults who regularly show anger are more likely to have higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to numerous chronic illnesses. Inflammation occurs when the immune system attempts to protect the body and fight off bacterial infections and viruses after an injury or when battling an illness.

Comment: When managed correctly, anger can be used constructively:


Shooting the messenger: Why we take a dim view of the bearers of bad news

Bad new bearers, shooting the messenger

Bearers of bad news are not well-liked.
We all know the movie scene: a nervous aide has to deliver bad news to his villainous boss, stumbling over his words and incessantly apologising. For a second, it looks like he will be OK - until the boss turns around and summarily executes him.

But it turns out this phenomenon of "shooting the messenger" is not just restricted to fiction. A new paper in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has demonstrated that we do tend to take a dim view of the bearers of bad news - even when these people are simply innocent messengers.

Previous work had already shown that we often form unfavourable opinions of people who give us negative feedback. But this could be justified: the reviewer could have been unfairly biased against us, for example. Leslie John and colleagues at Harvard University wanted to take things further and find out how we view others who are simply a conduit for bad news, and who clearly have no control over the content of the message they're sharing.

Across a series of 11 experiments, the team looked at how people responded when taking part in, or imagining, a situation where someone delivered them bad or good news.

Gold Seal

Aaron and Gabor Maté on the societal illusions and disillusionment of Trump and Russiagate

Aaron & Gabor Maté
The Grayzone's Aaron Maté has done an interview with his father titled "America in denial: Gabor Maté on the psychology of Russiagate", and it is the single best and most insightful political video I've ever seen. In 27 minutes it essentially describes the fundamental problems of our times, not just with Russiagate but with world politics as a whole, from the overarching behaviors of globe-dominating forces all the way down to the ways our own inner reluctance to face reality objectively helps to prop up those forces. So it deserves its own article.

Back when I learned that Gabor was Aaron's father my first thought was, "That makes so much sense." Aaron had exploded onto the Russiagate debate scene seemingly out of nowhere and quickly became the most thorough and lucid voice on the subject, holding to strict principles of valuing facts and evidence over the aggressive pressure to conform from his media peers and the authoritative assertions of government agencies. Gabor I'd known of for years because of how widely respected he is in other circles I've moved in for his penetrating insights into the human psyche. It makes perfect sense that someone with the moral fortitude to swim against the groupthink current and speak the truth no matter what would have someone like that as part of his personal formation.

I highly recommend watching the full interview, but since I know many of my readers aren't big on watching videos I'll sum up what I consider the highlights here with excerpts from the Grayzone transcript, because I really do think it's that good and that important.


Insights from nature

Insights from nature
© Medium
If we are in rhythm with nature, we are in rhythm with ourselves. - Micah Hobbes Frazier
If we pay close attention, we can experience the wonder that emerges from the beauty, magic, miracles and patterns all around us. Wow! Isn't it amazing? The world is full of emergence-one of the best concepts I have learned for discussing this 'wow,' this wonder. Nick Obolensky, author of Complex Adaptive Leadership: Embracing Paradox and Uncertainty, writes emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergent strategy is a way to build complex patterns and systems of justice and liberation through relatively small interactions. I am often wowed when I imagine the scale of transformation that could come from movements intentionally practicing this way of being, on our own and with others.

I have learned emergent strategy in conversations with, and by listening to, a chorus of people who inspire me when they talk about how they have learned and changed in exposure to nature. Here is a small collection of pieces from organizers, facilitators, and artists at the precipice of wonder and strategy.

Gift 2

Genius comes in different shapes at different ages

Young and old alike can rejoice in a new finding by researchers at Ohio State University and the University of Chicago. There is hope for us all when it comes to creativity, they say.

"Many people believe that creativity is exclusively associated with youth, but it really depends on what kind of creativity you're talking about," explains Bruce Weinberg, lead author of the study and professor of economics at Ohio State University, in a statement.

According to the study, published in the journal De Economist on April 26, there are two types of creativity that can blossom at different points in a person's life. Conceptual innovators tend to do their best work in their mid-twenties, while experimental innovators peak in their fifties, the researchers contend.

Comment: Creativity Explained
But creativity is not magic, and there's no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It's a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

Cloud Precipitation

The dark side of meditation retreats

unpleasant side effects meditation

Meditation which ultimately reduces familiar feelings and views into fleeting sensations can engender sudden feelings of danger, particularly among inexperienced meditators.
Going on trendy meditation retreats may be bad for participants' mental health, a new study suggests.

An international survey of people who attended residential meditation programmes found three in ten suffered "unpleasant" episodes, including feelings of anxiety or fear.

The study by University College London (UCL) found that, overall, more than a quarter of people who regularly meditate experience such feelings.

However, those engaging in currently fashionable "deconstructive" forms such as Vipassana or Koan meditation, which encourage insight through questioning permanence of the self and the reality of sensations, were more likely to be affected.

These can take the form of days' long silent retreats with highly regulated sleep and diet regimens and restricted access to the outside world.

Last year the Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey attended a highly-publicised 10-day Vipassana meditation in Burma, encouraging his four million online followers to try it for themselves.

But Marco Schlosser, who led the research at UCL, said that meditation which ultimately reduces familiar feelings and views into fleeting sensations can engender sudden feelings of danger, particularly among inexperienced meditators.

Comment: A caution to tread carefully on the spiritual path: Meditation and the dark recesses of the mind
Repressed and traumatic material can easily resurface during intense meditation, which made me realize, with a sense of relief and humility, that meditation need not be a panacea to cure every ill, nor a tool to moral perfection. Perhaps we shouldn't treat it very differently from prayer, which can quiet our minds, give us some comfort and lead us towards a deeper place, where we can explore who we are or be closer to God.

Perhaps meditation was never supposed to be more than a tool to help with self-knowledge; one that could never be divorced from a strong ethical grounding of who we are and the world we live in.


Longer exhalations: An easy way to hack your vagus nerve

Eiriu Eolas
© eiriu-eolas.org
Two years ago, in May of 2017, I published a nine-part series, "The Vagus Nerve Survival Guide to Combat Fight-or-Flight Urges." The genesis for that series came from a random "Aha!" moment when I noticed a pattern of diverse scientific literature being published by researchers around the world who were correlating unexpected lifestyle factors (e.g., positive social connections (Kok et al., 2013), narrative expressive writing (Bourassa et al., 2017), and self-distancing (Grossman et al., 2016)) with improved heart rate variability (HRV).

This post is a follow-up to, "Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises and Your Vagus Nerve," from my nine-part series on combating fight-or-flight physiology. For this post, I'm excited to update what was primarily hypothetical speculation a few years ago with some new scientific literature (Gerritsen & Band, 2018 and De Couck et al., 2019). These studies corroborate that longer exhalations are an easy way to hack the vagus nerve, combat fight-or-flight stress responses, and improve HRV.

You might be asking, "What is HRV?" Heart rate variability represents the healthy fluctuation in beat-to-beat intervals of a human or animal's heart rate. During the inhalation phase of a breathing cycle, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) facilitates a brief acceleration of heart rate; during exhalation, the vagus nerve secretes a transmitter substance (ACh) which causes deceleration within beat-to-beat intervals via the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

Comment: Éiriú Eolas is a breathing and meditation program that is scientifically proven to help reduce stress while also helping to heal emotional wounds via stimulation of the vagus nerve.

Visit the Éiriú Eolas site to learn more about the scientific background for this program and try it out, free of charge.

See also:

Cell Phone

Social media has created a generation of narcissists

kendall and kylie jenner
Social media has shaped mass culture in an enormous way. It has changed everything!

Social media has changed the way we communicate with one another it has turned an entire generation into narcissists. People are not concerned with world issues anymore. The majority of us are content spending our free time taking deceptive selfies and editing them in order to make ourselves more attractive so that we can post then all over our social media accounts.

Social media has taken over our lives and we pick and choose the things to post in order to make our lives seem a little less meaningless and more fulfilled. We are self-centered in all ways possible. Most teenagers never even leave their rooms, finding joy simply watching television and playing on their smartphones. Some people claim we are more connected thanks to social media but in some ways we are more separated, more broken.

Comment: See also:

People 2

To understand Facebook, study Capgras syndrome

Dadu Shin illustration
© Dadu Shin

We start with the case of a woman who experienced unbearable tragedy. In 1899, this Parisian bride, Madame M., had her first child. Shockingly, the child was abducted and substituted with a different infant, who soon died. She then had twin girls. One grew into healthy adulthood, while the other, again, was abducted, once more replaced with a different, dying infant. She then had twin boys. One was abducted, while the other was fatally poisoned.

Madame M. searched for her abducted babies; apparently, she was not the only victim of this nightmarish trauma, as she often heard the cries of large groups of abducted children rising from the cellars of Paris.

As if all this pain was not enough, Madame M.'s sole surviving child was abducted and replaced with an imposter of identical appearance. And soon the same fate befell Madame M.'s husband. The poor woman spent days searching for her abducted loved ones, attempting to free groups of other abducted children from hiding places, and starting the paperwork to divorce the man who had replaced her husband.

Comment: See also:


If we can learn from anyone - why is it so hard to take advice?

Wade LeBlanc

Wade LeBlanc
"Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money twice." - Armando Christian Perez (aka the rapper "Pitbull")
One morning in July of 2011, a taxi sat idling outside Petco Park stadium in San Diego, and Wade LeBlanc, struggling pitcher for the Padres, climbed in. "To the airport, please," he told the driver. LeBlanc was headed to Tucson, home of the club's triple-A affiliate. He'd been sent down to the minors. Again.

Eight times in the last three years LeBlanc had clawed his way up to the big league only to blow his chance and be sent packing. It was all becoming a cosmic test of character in a career that had started so promisingly, when the Padres drafted him out of college, in 2006, on the strength of his tricky change-up.

"You're Wade LeBlanc," the cab driver said.*


"You got some good stuff."

This surprised the pitcher, after the previous night's disastrous performance.

"I think there's some things you should think about trying, some things that might make a difference," the driver continued. "I don't know, I'm not a player. Maybe something like going over your head in your windup."

Comment: See: The Truth Perspective: Insight, Or Why It's Not Just Your Boss Who Lacks Self-Awareness