Science of the SpiritS


Technology May Be Eating Our Minds

© UnknownProfessor Susan Greenfield shows off Albert Einstein's preserved brain; she fears there will be fewer Einsteins in future
Oxford University professor Susan Greenfield is worried, very worried. As a leading -- and controversial -- neuroscientist and commentator on society and modern technology, she warns that society is facing the prospect of being robbed of its future Albert Einsteins and Isaac Newtons. Why? Today's brainiacs spend too much time fiddling with their iPhones or updating their Facebook pages.

Greenfield -- a regular visitor to Australia and former South Australian Thinker in Residence -- has written several books on the subject. She speaks widely, arguing that future generations are at risk of everything from desocialisation and autism to damaged cognitive functions such as the ability to think deeply and even read.

"Everyone knows that the human brain is sensitive to the environment," she tells Weekend Health. "Therefore, if the environment is now unprecedented and different, how can the brain stay the same?"

But what's the hard evidence that today's swarms of computers and gadgets, incessantly bleeping and buzzing with communication and information, are causing what Greenfield calls "mind change"?


Depressed, repressed, objectified: Are men the new women?

© Chris Moore/Getty Images/Catwalking
They're less fertile, more weight-obsessed and 'non-essential to parenting'. No wonder men are confused about modern masculinity.

If recent research is anything to go by, 21st century man is in a desperate muddle.

In June, men discovered that their libidos are in freefall, prompting a 40 per cent increase in males seeking counselling for impotence problems. Their existential angst worsened in July, when British men discovered that they have the most unequal paternity rights in Europe. According to Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, fathers in the UK are seen as 'not essential for parenting'. The same month saw the publication of a medical study that proved the quality of men's sperm declines to such an extent after they hit 45 that the chances of a partner's miscarriage are doubled.


How Meditation Affects the Gray Matter of the Brain

© Meditation Guidance
I like to meditate. It makes me feel at ease and I am convinced that the sense of calm it produces helps me to handle the daily challenges of my life. There are, of course, times when I don't keep up my daily practice of sitting quietly for 10 or 15 minutes, but these are the times in my life when I experience more stress.

Stress affects everyone. I don't know a single person who doesn't get stressed. But unfortunately, it plays a major role in illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in fact, up to 90 percent of doctor visits in the U.S. may be stress-related. Meditation is an antidote to stress, just as an aspirin can counter a headache. A regular practice can be a major boost to health.

It calms the nervous system. It's good for the immune system. It's also good for the heart; it helps produce nitric oxide (not nitrous oxide -- that's laughing gas!) in the arteries, dilating them and reducing blood pressure. It also smooths heart rhythms.

But thanks to an explosion of brain research we now know that it also physically impacts our gray matter.

Comment: Another form of meditation to reduce stress is to practice Éiriú Eolas Breathing and Meditation Program and can be found here.


Psychology beyond the Brain

The brain has long enjoyed a privileged status as psychology's favorite body organ. This is, of course, unsurprising given that the brain instantiates virtually all mental operations, from understanding language, to learning that fire is dangerous, to recalling the name of one's kindergarten teacher, to categorizing fruits and vegetables, to predicting the future. Arguing for the importance of the brain in psychology is like arguing for the importance of money in economics.

More surprising, however, is the role of the entire body in psychology and the capacity for body parts inside and out to influence and regulate the most intimate operations of emotional and social life. The stomach's gastric activity , for example, corresponds to how intensely people experience feelings such as happiness and disgust. The hands' manipulation of objects that vary in temperature and texture influences judgments of how "warm" or "rough" people are. And the ovaries and testes' production of progesterone and testosterone shapes behavior ranging from financial risk-taking to shopping preferences.

Black Cat

Shocking news: Shock therapy recommended for major depression

New guidelines by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) state electroconvulsive therapy - a physical therapy may be used to treat major depressive disorder or major depression in patients who don't respond to medications.

This is the first time the medical organization has ever updated since 2000 its guidelines on the assessment and treatments of depression based on research conducted from 1999 through 2006.

The guidelines drafted by a team led by psychiatrist Alan J. Gelenberg say that the shock (and awe?) therapy may serve as the therapy for patients with major depressive disorder who have a high degree of symptom severity and those who do not respond to medications.

Comment: So when people of conscience become depressed at what they see in the world today, they will first be stuffed with mind-altering drugs. If that is not enough to turn them into robots and make them "happy", electrocution awaits. That's the order of business when psychopaths rule our world.

Fortunately, we have Éiriú Eolas, an amazing stress-control, healing and rejuvenation program to help us. And when enough people of conscience are healed, we can work together to take back what is ours from the psychopaths and create a new world.


Why Have We Lost the Need for Physical Touch?

Has our hi-tech, media-socialized world lost something critical to our species--non-sexual human physical touch? Hasn't human physical contact set us apart from other animals, and has helped us develop complex language, culture, thinking and emotional expression?

Two hundred years ago, a creature looking somewhat human, was sighted running through the forests of Southern France. Once captured, scientists determined he was age 11, and had run wild in the forests for much of his childhood. One of the fathers of psychiatry at that time, Phillipe Pinel, observed the child--named "Victor"--and concluded, erroneously, that the Victor was an idiot. A French physician attending Victor, disagreed with Pinel, concluding that the child had merely been deprived of human physical touch, which had retarded his social and developmental capacities.

We know from child developmental research that the absence of physical bonding and healthy attachment between an adult and child may result in life-long emotional disturbances. James W. Prescott, an American developmental psychologist, proposed that the origins of violence in society were related to the lack of mother-child bonding. Harry Harlow completed extensive studies on the relationship between affection and development.

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Overweight Kids Face Bias From Their Own Parents

Study finds parents less willing to help buy car, pay tuition for obese offspring

Overweight youngsters may face discrimination at school and in relationships, but a U.S. study has found they can also receive harsher treatment at home - from their own parents.

Studies have shown parents are less likely to help overweight or obese offspring pay for college but researchers from the University of North Texas in Denton have also found parents may be less willing to help their overweight child buy a car.

"No one is going to be surprised that society discriminates against the overweight, but I think it is surprising that it can come from your parents," researcher Adriel Boals told Reuters Health.


The Secret to Healthy Pressure

"For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth."
- Sanskrit Proverb

Well, it's not accurate to say that what I am sharing is a secret. In fact, most people are familiar with the expression, "Take a deep breath." The problem is that very few of us have been taught how to take a deep breath in a way that really serves the purpose of bringing us back to balance.

Comment: To learn a breathing technique which stimulates the vagus nerve more effectively, please visit the Eiriu Eolas - Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website here.


The Power of the Breath

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am." - Sylvia Plath

The breath is one of your most powerful assets for staying balanced throughout the ups and downs of living.

Using your breath you can positively impact your physiological state. By deliberately taking two or three diaphragmatic breaths in succession, you can counteract the stress arousal reactions that occur in your body when you become anxious, angry, or overwhelmed. Here is an easy way to shift into diaphragmatic breathing: exhale completely, once complete push even a little more air out, your subsequent inhalation will come from your diaphragm.

Comment: To learn more about how breathing can help relieve the stress of everyday life visit the Eiriu Eolas - Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website here.


Yoga Relieves Depression by Boosting Calming Neurotransmitter Levels

© Unknown
Increasing evidence indicates that regular practice of yoga is effective in reducing stress and its effects and even appears to relieve the symptoms of clinical depression.

Yoga is a traditional practice originating in India designed to help the practitioner achieve and maintain both good physical and mental health, as well as fostering spritual enlightenment. The practice incorporates elements of physical exercise, meditation and breathing regulation.

This ancient Eastern discipline continues to gain in popularity in the West for its wide-ranging benefits and medical researchers are taking an increasing interest in its potential to contribute to the prevention and treatment of a diverse collection of physical and mental ailments.

Comment: To learn more about how to relieve depression by boosting calming neurotransmitter levels, visit the Eiriu Eolas - Stress Control, Healing and Rejuvenation Program website here.