Archive for November, 2014

Holidays Present A Unique Opportunity To Reflect!

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Holidays are a time of high emotion.  They are primarily about family and loved ones, who most of the time are the same people.  The holidays, and concomitant beliefs and emotions, lead to certain choices as to how they will be celebrated.  Perhaps, however, you are one of those who blocks out and shuts down during these traditional times.  Surely there are reasons for that choice. If so, I hope that you will one day soon re-examine the holiday in such a way as to be able to enjoy the meaning and mirth that is possible by participating in these special days.

Many couples and family members spend much time discussing the holidays as to how they should be spent..  They oftentimes have struggles as to what is the “right” thing to do as they try to unite their past beliefs and customs with their emerging ideas and life styles.  Various pressures and expectations from significant others often cause consternation and conflict as holiday issues appear which need resolution.

The following questions may serve as reasonable vehicles for self awareness and communication, as individuals and couples clarify and define their  WHO,  WHY,WHAT, and HOW holiday concerns:

WHO  are the people close to you?  List and number them in order of closeness.  This should include family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances.  Who are the people who put pressure on you?  Who are the people with whom you most want to share this time?

WHY are the people in the order you have them?  Is it because they are all that close to you or you “should” have them there?

WHAT do these people expect from you during the holidays?  What do you expect from them?  What kind of changes might be in order this year?  Possible areas of discussion are meal arrangements, travel plans, lengths of stay, gifts, etc…

HOW do you want to celebrate the holidays this year based on the above determinations? Are changes in traditional styles and expectations called for?

Holidays are special.  They are meant to lift our spirits, warm our hearts, and be shared with the special people we love.  Hopefully this information will be helpful to you in making appropriate choices for you and the people that mean the most to you.  May your choices bring forth the best holiday ever!

 

Parenting A Child To Leave Home With Strengths And Confidence

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Is there any greater responsibility in life than raising well our children? I don’t think so.  If you chose, and hopefully have chosen, to bring a child into this world you have accepted the opportunity and responsibility to be the best parent possible to prepare your child for life ahead upon leaving your home.

Parenting is about love.  To love a child includes understanding his or her developmental stages and the appropriate tasks to perform to meet the changing needs of your child.

Dr. Pilar Poal has offered wisdom on target points in an article that she wrote.  She states, “Parenting is a fine balance between providing security and allowing autonomy, between holding and letting go – giving our child roots and wings.”

If you as a parent have done a good job it is probable that your child in late adolescence will move out and on to his/her next stage of life – whether it be further schooling, the military, or the labor force. Certainly your home will remain a sanctuary where he or she can come home to for short periods of time depending on the road chosen.  However, the goal is not to have your adult child live with you as a way of life, except in very extreme circumstances.

I believe a person is to developmentally cut three cords in his or her life.  The first is done by another, the umbilical cord. Second, the task is to cut the psychological umbilical cord when a child says to his or her parents, “I must live my own life, not necessarily the one you want for me”. And third, to quote from one of my “mentors”, Zorba the Greek, “You must cut the rope and be free” – free to live life fully, and with gusto.

Dr. Poal and her husband offered these wishes to their son as he became of age:

  1. May you always have faith in your innate and developed abilities and in your capacity to overcome obstacles.
  2. May you always remain hopeful about your life and the world you live in.
  3. May you always be surrounded by people who care about you, to share the joyful times and support you through the difficult ones.
  4. We hope that you find joy and meaning in the path you choose and that you will not only focus on having a good life, but also on making life better for others.
  5. We hope that you will continually grow in your understanding of yourself and others, and that you will learn from life’s challenges.
  6. We wish that you will maintain your sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself and the world around you.
  7. We wish that you can find pleasure in the simple things of life and remain aware of the wonderful small gifts that exist in each day.
  8. We feel blessed for having been part of your life and are proud of the young man you have become.

Sage advice!

As a parent you are to be attuned to your child’s needs while developing his or her strengths while building confidence and self esteem. Armed with such confidence your child will choose a fulfilling destiny.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”      Socrates

“Sacred Sexuality”: Oxymoron Or Evolved Transcendence?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Serious scholars attempt to attain knowledge, raise consciousness, and stimulate expanded behavior facilitating a more transcendent experience for quality living. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?  Spirituality and sexuality are rarely connected in our culture. In these times there is much written “marrying” spirituality and sexuality. I would like to make a case that healthy (note the word “healthy”) sexuality is a spiritual encounter. May I begin, or have you condescendingly written me off?

First off, a basic description of terms.  Spirituality is seeking a connection with God, Higher Power, or whatever you may call the sacred. It is a transcendent experience taking you to a higher plane of conscious existence. Healthy sexuality is love-making. God is Love. Ontologically speaking, when you participate in love-making  you are participating in Godliness. The sexuality I’m discussing here is about unitive love, a creative energy, a beautiful connection.  It is not a lustful using of another person.

As one writer states, “Sexual energy has a mechanism that triggers the expansion of your entire being – an evolutionary process. This is “not about performance, or procreation, or orgasm… it is about sharing and exchanging energies that originate from our souls. … It is about uniting our longing for wholeness and connection, yearnings that are naturally sacred and spiritual.”

Said another way, “When two human beings combine love’s energy with erotic energies, a transcendent experience occurs, one that is profoundly healing. This is a very sacred sharing and the true goal of a fulfilling sexual experience.”

Deepak Chopra, M.D., of whom many of you are familiar, offers the following perspective:

  1. Sexual energy is the primal and creative energy of the universe. All things that are alive come from sexual energy. In humans, sexual energy can be creative at all levels – physical, emotional and spiritual. In any situation when we feel attraction, arousal, awakening, alertness, passion, interest, inspiration, excitement, creativity, enthusiasm – in each of these situations sexual energy is at work.
  2. Sexual desire is sacred and chaste.
  3. During sexual union, there is a union between flesh and spirit.
  4. Meaningful sex has to be value based.  Without values we become spiritually bankrupt.
  5. When we have restored the sexual experience to the realm of the sacred, our world will be chaste and divine, holy and healed.

Respected Reader, the object of this writing is to invite you to expand your consciousness to a higher level of understanding of how a loving sexual encounter with a beloved can be a transcendent sacred experience uniting your embraced souls with the Source of Love. May you have such an experience!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Your Gut Can Influence Your Brain Affecting Your Health!

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Respected Reader, get ready, this isn’t easy reading, but it is profound and has implications for optimal brain health. As you know the “brain runs the train”. It is the computer generating thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Here is some solid research that says how the brain can be influenced by what is in your gut.

Jordan Davidson has collected some interesting research on this topic and shares it in an interesting article entitled “The Psychobiotic Revolution”. I share some of it along with my own commentary.

Davidson states “ninety percent of what we lug around with us is not human. It’s microbial, and it’s vital to our health, our moods, even the decisions we make.  There are roughly 15 trillion cells in our body – and over 100 trillion bacteria, most them in the gut and most of them supporting such essential functions as digestion, immunity, metabolism, even mental health in ways that are only now being understood.”

Psychiatrist, Ted Dinan, says ”the body is an ecosystem of interdependent parts relaying messages to each other. Because of the influence of the thousands of species of gut flora on health Dinan aims to harness the power of microbes to treat depression. He has coined the term psychobiotics for the live organisms in the gut that are psychoactive and of potential benefit to those suffering from a variety of psychiatric illnesses.

Researchers are now capable of discerning which strains of gut bacteria affect the nervous system, they can also map the exact pathways through which specific gut bacteria influence the brain.

Examples of probiotic impact are Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum which have been found to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. These gut microbes also secrete GABA which when it is deficient in the brain can cause depression. For you chocolate lovers, eating dark chocolate leads to an increase in both bacterial families. The rich reservoir of polyphenols in chocolate act as a prebiotic enhancing the growth of beneficial bacteria already in the gut.

Other microbes that positively impact the brain are Bifidobacerium infantis which alters levels of serotonin which mimic such antidepressants like Prozac. Lactobacillus reuteri improves mood, appearance, and general health by increasing levels of oxytocin, which is the hormone that kicks in when you cuddle, hug, or have sex.

Psychobiotics affect the brain through several distinct pathways. The primary route is via the vagus nerve, a central conduit that relays messages from the intestines to the brain and touches many organs in between. Neurotransmitters produced by the gut microbes activate the vagus nerve.  Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a strain of bacteria that reduces anxiety and depression, acts on the brain only via the vagus nerve. In the brain it beefs up production of GABA receptors.

Truly therapeutic psychobiotics are not very available at this time, despite the claims of a few charlatan marketers who are using the lingo but their products have limited or no value. However, eating certain foods such as yogurt that  can reduce anxiety and fear and fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut which supply psychobiotics.

In summary, Respected Reader, I have tried to alert you to some forward advances developing that have health implications for you.  Know more about your gut – what goes into it and how it affects your overall health.

On a personal note my wife Sherry and I both take a probiotic that we believe in every day as part of the supplement package we take from our well researched company. Contact me if you want more info about it.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates