The opposite of samsara (the cycle of suffering) is when all the walls fall down, when the cocoon completely disappears and we are totally open to whatever may happen, with no withdrawing, no centralizing into ourselves. That is what we aspire to, the warrior’s journey. That is what stirs us: leaping, being thrown out of the nest, going through the initiation rites, growing up, stepping into something that’s uncertain and unknown.
~ Pema Chodron
The things which hurt, instruct.
~ Benjamin Franklin
Osteopath Vicky Vlachonis, who believes our history is written on the body, shares her powerful, holistic approach to pain (whether emotional or physical):
"First, we must “Reflect” and identify the causes of physical and emotional pain, then “Release” that pain, and finally “Radiate” into a positive, pain-free daily existence. Vicky believes that emotions, ALL emotions, are normal. They're neither good nor bad; they simply are. Furthermore, she teaches that problems don’t start because of emotions themselves. The trouble comes when you don’t express or release them. Layers of buried emotions build up in our scar tissue, causing adhesions in our fascia, the layer of tissue that stretches around all the muscles and organs. These festering, unprocessed emotions clog up circulation and generally create disharmony within the body, which is why once you really see and feel those buried emotions, and can pinpoint where the pain is actually coming from, you can consciously increase the flow of your body’s natural painkillers and anti-inflammatory chemicals to help you release the pain and heal.
Vicky confirms that we experience all our feelings, thoughts, actions, and reactions through these connections between our nervous system and our musculoskeletal system. Here are all the parts of the brain that intersect when we experience strong emotions:
• The limbic system, the site of our instinctual emotional reactions.
• The hypothalamus, which connects with the endocrine system and the gut organs.
• The amygdala, where we process sensory information into memory and learning.
• The cortex, where we regulate emotion.
Writing For Your Life:
Taught by Dr. Bonnie Comfort
Your life is a story. There are characters, conflicts, struggles and triumphs. Always there is dialogue in your head. You might say to yourself, "Why did I do that? or "I'm so happy" or "I hate this." And there is a you who is listening.
This is where journaling and writing memoir come in. The story of your life is newsworthy for you. You don't have to be writing to overcome childhood abuse or alcohol addiction to benefit from vividly remembering your past or thinking through a current situation in private. Sometimes you don't know what you think and feel until you write it out. Sometimes people and events fade from memory until you bring them back to life on paper and explore them.
In the process of writing, you draw on your own strength, and you gain clarity. This is not a Facebook posting. This is communion with your most private and personal self. Journal writing and memoir are word photos that capture your life and define meaning for you.
Come and join me in a three hour workshop to access unspoken aspects of you. No writing skill is required. You do not need pretty language, a well-crafted sentence or a story for sharing. This is writing solely for you, for the unvarnished honesty with yourself that only privacy can offer.
We will write side by side, we will use guided imagery and writing exercises to trigger your words. We will go on an internal expedition that may take you somewhere surprising. And you don't have to share any of it unless you want to.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
1:00 - 4:00
appointment only: 503-780-4964 (text or call) or Laureredmond@mac.com
Dr. Bonnie Comfort:
Bonnie is a psychologist who has been in clinical practice for many years. She is the author of memoir, short stories, and the novel "Denial" published by Simon and Schuster.
I've been working deeply on my Courage lately ...
This passage, written by Flora Sussely, touched me and reflected back to me my present focus.
Thank You Flora ~
"Passover is about courage, courage to leave when it would be infinitely easier to stay. Courage to go forth when staying put is safe. Courage to take a stand even if in doing so, you risk standing alone. Courage to honor your moral compass when it would be easier to let it sink to the bottom of the sea. Courage to say no when saying yes would yield us false success and Courage to say yes when saying so would earn us scorn. Passover is about courage to step with almost nothing, into the desert of your life, and believe that you are worthy of your honor."
And Thank You Dana, Sheila and Dan for a beautiful Passover Seder.
The Fabric of Life
It is very stretchy.
We know that, even if
many details remain
sketchy. It is complexly
woven. That much too
has pretty well been
proven. We are loath
to continue our lessons,
which consist of slaps
as sharp and dispersed
as bee stings from
a smashed nest,
when any strand snaps-
hurts working far past
the locus of rupture,
far beyond anything
we have said
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
~ Louise Erdrich
... as brilliantly discussed by Martha Beck ...
"Even those of us who don't run meth labs face a contradiction between our need for honest relationships and the temptation to lie about our failings, desires, and pain. It may seem that lying is easier than honesty ~ that it has the magical power to spare feelings, preserve comfortable assumptions, and make us appear less flawed than we are. But truth is like fresh, clear air, while lies are like smog that poisons our psyches and interactions. The amount of truth you must tell to any given person depends on how much healthy intimacy you want with that person. The more intimate you want a relationship to be, the more truth you must tell. It's that simple."
"With language we can ask, as can no other living beings, those questions about who we are and why we are here. And this highly developed intellect means, surely, that we have a responsibility toward the other life-forms of our planet whose continued existence is threatened by the thoughtless behavior of our own human species – quite regardless of whether or not we believe in God. Indeed, those who acknowledge no God, but are convinced that we are in this world as an evolutionary accident, may be more active in environmental responsibility – for if there is no God, then, obviously, it is entirely up to us to put things right. On the other hand, I have encountered a number of people with a strong faith in God who shrug off their own human responsibilities, believing that everything is safely "in God's hands." I was brought up to believe that "God helps those who help themselves." We should all take responsibility, all play our part in helping to clean up and heal the planet that, in so many ways, we have desecrated."
~ Jane Goodall
(Happy 80th Birthday)
You may not need these common health exams as often as you think:
1. Nuclear stress tests, and other imaging tests, after heart procedures
Many people who have had a heart bypass, stent or other heart procedure feel they've had a brush with death. So patients — and doctors — understandably want to be reassured through a nuclear stress test or other tests that their hearts are beating strong. But performing these tests every year or even every two years in patients without symptoms rarely results in any change in treatment, says William Zoghbi, past president of the American College of Cardiology. "More testing is not necessarily better," he says.
2. Yearly electrocardiogram or exercise stress test
A survey of nearly 1,200 people ages 40 to 60 who have never had heart disease or any symptoms found that 39 percent had an EKG over the previous five years, and 12 percent said they had an exercise stress test. The problem: Someone at low risk for heart disease could be 10 times more likely to get a false-positive result than to find a true problem. This could lead to unnecessary heart catheterization and stents. Instead, have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. And if you're at risk for diabetes, have your blood glucose level checked as well.
3. PSA to screen for prostate cancer
Not all doctors agree with AAFP's recommendation against routine PSA screening, but many agree that the test is overused. The PSA test often finds slow-growing cancers that won't kill men. "The evidence is extremely convincing that in a man with usual risk and no symptoms, the PSA test causes more harm than benefit," says Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). As a result of the test, he says, men often have ultrasounds, repeat lab tests and even biopsies for a problem that isn't there — an estimated 75 percent of tests that show high PSA levels turn out to be false alarms. When men do have treatments such as surgery or radiation, 20 to 40 percent end up with impotence, incontinence or both.
4. PET scan to diagnose Alzheimer's disease
5. X-ray, CT scan or MRI for lower back pain
80 percent of people will suffer from back pain some time in their lives. It can be both excruciating and debilitating. Naturally, people want to know what's wrong. Here's the catch: The best imaging machines in the world often can't tell them. Many older people with no back pain can have terrible-looking scans. Most back pain goes away in about a month and imaging tests tend to lead to expensive procedures that often don't help recovery. One study found that people who got an MRI during the first month of their back pain were eight times more likely to have surgery than those who didn't have an MRI — but they didn't get relief any faster. If you don't feel better in a month, talk to your doctor about other options such as physical therapy or massage.
6. Yearly Pap tests
The yearly Pap smear is a common part of women's health checklists, but it doesn't need to be. Women at average risk only need them every three years, since cervical cancer generally takes 10 to 20 years to develop. If women have also had negative tests for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is now known to cause the cancer, they only need a Pap test along with the HPV test every five years. And women older than 65 who have had several normal Pap tests in a row can stop having them altogether. Do note, however, that a yearly visit to an ob-gyn stays on the to-do list.
7. Bone density scan for women before age 65 and men before age 70
For the estimated 10 million people — mainly women —in the United States who have osteoporosis, bone-strengthening medications can lower the chances of breaking a bone. But many experts argue that for those ages 50 to 65 who have osteopenia — mild bone loss — testing and subsequent drug prescriptions may be a waste of time and money. Not only is the risk of fracture often quite low, medications such as Fosamax (alendronate) and Boniva (ibandronate) have been linked to throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, muscle pain, bone loss in the jaw and thigh-bone fractures. And there's scant evidence that people with osteopenia get much benefit from the drugs.
8. Follow-up ultrasounds for small ovarian cysts
Many women receive repeated ultrasounds to verify that ovarian cysts have not become cancerous, but current research says that these tests aren't necessary. For one thing, premenopausal women have harmless ovarian cysts regularly. For another, about 20 percent of postmenopausal women also develop harmless cysts. "The likelihood of these small simple cysts ever becoming cancer is exceedingly low," says Deborah Levine, chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Ultrasound and a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School. In postmenopausal women, only cysts larger than 1 centimeter in diameter need a follow-up ultrasound. For premenopausal women, who typically have benign cysts every month when they ovulate, cysts smaller than 3 centimeters aren't even worth mentioning in the radiologist's report, says Levine.
9. Colonoscopy after age 75
To protect your colon, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains for fiber. Cut down on fatty foods, red meat and processed meats. Lose weight if you're overweight and exercise. Most people should have screening for colon cancer at 50 and then every five to 10 years after that, if the first test is normal. By age 75 — if you've always had normal colonoscopies — you can stop taking this test altogether. That should be good news, because a colonoscopy can cause serious complications in older people.
10. Yearly physical
There's little evidence that having an annual checkup can keep you healthy. Many tests that doctors regularly perform — to diagnose anemia, liver disease or urinary tract infections, for example — don't make sense unless there's a reason to suspect a problem. "A healthy 52-year-old does not need to see the doctor once a year," says Jeremy Sussman, an internist for the VA system and assistant professor at the University of Michigan. If you have an illness that needs treatment, you should see your physician.
by Elizabeth Agnvall for AARP
As we practice ever-expanding faith, we keep experiencing Life’s compassion. We become increasingly aware that Life has more in store for us than we ever imagined. And, we get to see how the process of ending suffering works. We must let go of all we’re holding on to, all we’re clinging to, because letting go is the requirement for “having” what we want!
- Cheri Huber
"It might seem scary, but showing emotion and expressing your needs is how you build intimacy. And having high standards and the courage to maintain those ideals is how you make sure that only the best kind of relationships remain in your life.
It’s the mark of a Master to no longer blame the other person, but instead to see the other person as a mirror of his or her own life. It’s the mark of a Master to share his or her feelings, rather than blaming someone else for not meeting the needs that were never expressed in the first place. It’s the mark of a Master who is strong enough to walk away from a broken and unfulfilled kind of love if his or her needs and emotions aren’t being seen. It’s the mark of a Master to be able to also meet the needs of his or her partner."
~ Mastin Kipp
~ a place to learn, grow, and express yourself
~ enhance personal confidence and creativity
~ a supportive community
~ affordable education taught by leaders in their field
~ an opportunity for greater human intelligence
Every first Saturday of the month.
By reservation only:
503-780-4964 (text or call)
" Often, what we think we should do in a situation isn't the same as what we need to do. Knowing how you feel today on a deeper level can help you syncopate your head and heart. By recognizing our deepest feelings for the people and relationships in our lives, we can bridge the gap between our heads and hearts. Since our minds may have endless things to say about a certain situation, our hearts communicate far more simply. And it is our hearts, which are somewhat buried and soft-spoken in comparison, which we should listen to when they speak about these matters. The heart speaks the language of truth when it comes to our relationships and can persuade our heads if we take the time for the two to get in sync. Allow yourself to experience your feelings today and silence any mind chatter; you'll find that your heart and mind are not too far apart."
"Chemically, we have a pretty good idea how memories are encoded and retained in brain neurons. As with short-term memory, the storage of information is made possible by the synthesis of certain proteins in the cell. What differentiates long-term memory in neurons is that frequent repetition of signals causes magnesium to be released -- which opens the door for the attachment of calcium, which in turn makes the record stable and permanent. But as we all know from experience, memory can still fade over time. For that, the brain has a chemical process called long-term potentiation that regularly enhances the strength of the connections (synapses) between the neurons and creates an enzyme protein that also strengthens the signal -- in other words, the memory -- inside the neuron.
Architecturally, the organization of memory in the brain is a lot more slippery to get one's hands around (so to speak); different perspectives all seem to deliver useful insights. For example, one popular way to look at brain memory is to see it as taking two forms: explicit and implicit. Explicit, or 'declarative,' memory is all the information in our brains that we can consciously bring to the surface. Curiously, despite its huge importance in making us human, we don't really know where this memory is located. Scientists have, however, divided explicit memory into two forms: episodic, or memories that occurred at a specific point in time; and semantic, or understandings (via science, technology, experience, and so on) of how the world works.
Implicit, or 'procedural' memory, on the other hand, stores skills and memories of how to physically function in the natural world. Holding a fork, driving a car, getting dressed-and, most famously, riding a bicycle -- are all nuanced activities that modern humans do without really giving them much thought; and they are skills, in all their complexity, that we can call up and perform decades after last using them.
But that's only one way of looking at long-term memory. There is also emotional memory, which seems to catalog memories based upon the power of the emotions they evoke. Is this a special memory search function of the brain? Is it a characteristic of both explicit and implicit memory? Or, rather, does it encompass both? And what of prospective memory that ability human beings have to 'remember to remember' some future act? Just a few years ago, researchers further discovered that some brain neurons can act like a clock in the brain, serving as a metronome that orchestrates the pace of operations for the billions of nerve cells there.
Why? These and other features are but a few of the conundrums in the long list of questions about the human brain and memory. What we do know is that -- a quarter-million years after mankind inherited this remarkable organ called the brain -- even with all of the tools available to modern science, human memory remains a stunning enigma."
"Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
"We may not realize that the sight of a spider’s web glistening in the sun, the beads of morning dew catching the light to shine like diamonds on an intricate necklace, may carry a message for us. Their beauty belies their strength because though they are spun from thin strands of silk, they can hold the weight of the dew and capture nourishment in their nets as well. This paints an accurate picture of the traits of the weaver, the spider. Their feminine energy reminds us that we have the ability to weave our lives into strong, useful, and beautiful works of art. Though people may have an instinctive fear response to spiders, we can look beyond the physical instinct to understand the spiritual message they may be bringing us.
Among the various Native American traditions, spider medicine has been known to represent creativity. Her eight legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions on the medicine wheel, while her body is in the shape of the infinity symbol, which represents infinite possibilities. Spider was said to have woven the alphabet, creating the means for people to communicate and record their history through language. Just like the Greek myth of the Fates, three women who weave the tapestry of life, spiders are said to weave the creative forces that bring forth the intricately symmetrical patterns of our lives."
~ Madisyn Taylor