Breathing abdominally is the key to self-regulation and the initiation of a relaxation response. The breath can be seen as a barometer for how we are responding to a given situation. A shallow, rapid breath typically indicates that we are anxious or afraid. The sympathetic nervous system is engaged when we are breathing shallowly and in [click to continue…]
Depression & Anxiety
Recently at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health I had the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop presented by Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain. As many know, particularly those in the world of psychology, there is much documented evidence indicating that we can change our brains from a negative perspective to a more optimistic one by developing certain skills. Changing or reshaping the brain is known as neuroplasticity. The fact that we have the capacity to reshape our brains means we have the power within us to lead happier and more optimistic lives. This is indeed good news.
The bad news is as Dr. Hanson pointed out is that, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive [click to continue…]
What does it mean to be in the moment? How can you learn to be truly present rather than simply getting through another day on automatic pilot?
The truth is today is not just another day. It is the only day that you can count on. There are no guarantees about tomorrow or the day after. We, as humans, plan and the universe laughs. The moment you are in is the gift and your best response is to be open to whatever “is” today. The rest is in the past or in your wishes and fantasies about the [click to continue…]
Linda, a 42 year old attorney with two young boys, felt guilt and disappointment both on the job and at home. She never quite felt that she was where she needed to be at any given time. For all of her accomplishments, she felt like a failure as a lawyer and as a mother. She strove for perfection in all facets of her life, but now was finding that juggling motherhood and her professional life made this impossible. The standards that Linda set for herself were unattainable and therefore an innate form [click to continue…]
Julia, a dental assistant in a local dentist’s office has a distinct twinkle in her eye that never fails to light up a room. That is, until February hits. Something happens in the cold, dark months in New England that slowly builds within Julia. Perhaps it is Seasonal Affective Disorder, although she has never been formally diagnosed. It’s as if she hits the wall for the midwinter months and then by late in April she slowly begins to emerge from her cocoon. Julia is in good company with those among us coming [click to continue…]
Waking up in the morning to a clean, de-cluttered space brings me a sense of balance and happiness. Even when my children were young I managed to maintain a space where I could sit, if only for a few precious moments and enjoy the calm and peace of a minimalist space.
Of course we all know that life is messy business and cannot really be controlled. There are however ways to make daily life less stressful. Getting rid of extra stuff is one of the keys to [click to continue…]
Michele lapsed into feelings of despair and darkness every November. For years she did not particularly notice the change in her temperament or energy level, but it became strikingly apparent to her husband.
She dragged herself out of bed in the morning and begrudgingly got the kids off to school and then herself to work. She described her mornings as being physically painful. She yearned for sleep much of the time. Michele became moody, lethargic and alienated herself from friends [click to continue…]
The short conversation on the phone left my husband, Martin with a look of shock. “What was that about?” I asked. Martin stood in silence, took some forced deep breaths and softly spoke. “There’s been an accident. A terrible accident.” As it turned out, one of my son, Max’s dear childhood friend was killed in a car crash hours before. He left a party in the early morning hours feeling it would be safe to drive. He got into his car, still slightly intoxicated from the night before neglecting to put on his seat beat. He drove off and almost immediately crashed into a tree. He wanted to get home; it was such a short distance. This was a great kid who made a terrible decision.
My son was on his way to a concert in Boston, ready to savor his last night in town and then finish up the packing [click to continue…]
Years ago I conducted workshops and seminars to physicians at the Boston University School of Medicine. The well-attended meetings were about “Who Takes Care of the Physician?” This subject continues to warrant attention, however I’ve come to realize that nurses, aides, home health care providers and our reliable family members, also need to be cared for. They too need tools for their own self-care during these stressful times.
Of course the primary focus is on the sick or post-operative patient, but little attention is paid to the family members that are in the trenches day in and day out with their loved ones. The responsibilities thrust upon the spouses and children can be not only overwhelming, but disorienting [click to continue…]
Getting a difficult medical diagnosis is challenging at best. Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote extensively about the five stages of grief that accompanies the experience of loss. Although her work originally described the reaction to the death of a loved one, the same cycle applies to those experiencing health issues [click to continue…]