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Archive for the 'Health' Category

21 July

Encouraging the ‘thinker within’

Spiritual thinking is an active ability we all possess and can learn to utilize. And when we use it, we feel whole again, in every area of our lives.

Spiritual thinking is an active ability we all possess and can learn to utilize. And when we use it, we feel whole again, in every area of our lives.

“I think, therefore, I am” (Cogita Ergo Sum) wrote Rene Descartes. This simple statement became a fundamental proposition in Western philosophy and a foundation for the formation of all knowledge in the mid 1600s.

Two and a half centuries later, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “The time for thinkers has come” at the beginning of her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” It’s a book that challenges the idea that thought is solely the province of the human mind, and explores the idea that there is a divine influence that can change the way we think about life and health. Her book came as a result of many years of research into how Jesus healed. This exploration led her to the conclusion that our very health depends on our ability to reason – i.e., think through something – spiritually.

But are we comfortable with the exercise of thinking, either spiritually or humanly? John Terrell, editor of Science Dialogues, recently wrote an article called “Is thinking a popular leisure time choice?” He referred to a series of studies that have recently been published and are under much discussion. “Just Think – The challenges of the disengaged mind,” looks at the findings of a team of researchers from the University of Virginia: “In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative”.

But the study does not examine what it was that the subjects disliked so much about the prospect of silent thinking, other than they preferred to be doing something other than just sitting and thinking.

I would say that thinking is much more important to people than this study would have us believe, and especially when it comes to our health. Thinking can be positive and active, not just mindless and passive. And it can contribute to our health in ways that are only just beginning to be explored by Western cultures.

For example, Therese Bouchard discovered the importance of her ability to think after nearly a decade of struggle with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. She had spent eight years just doing what her psychiatrist and doctor said; that is, remembering the old adage, “If you think too much, you’ll get drunk.” But then she started to consider her life more deeply, and how it was going nowhere. And she began to wonder whether perhaps she was taking too many drugs and should instead be thinking about taking some responsibility for her thoughts and actions, and not allowing others to think for her. She and her doctor talked about it, and both “acknowledged that neither conventional psychiatry nor functional medicine holds all the answers.” She began to realize the importance of taking charge of her thoughts and her life. She said it was the first time since her hospitalization that she had reached for the helm.

Bouchard learned the importance of taking charge of her own thinking to improve her health.

I can really relate to Bouchard’s experience. Many years ago I struggled with depression. I saw it as something I had, and therefore had to get rid of; but it stayed with me like a large black cloud wherever I went. Then one day, while feeling particularly low, I had an epiphany: “Why, it is not the presence of depression that you are having to remove, but rather, you are believing you have lost your joy.” This piece of reasoning was a wake up call. I saw there was something I could do for myself.

I accepted that joy was in my life. It was not lost, because real joy is spiritual; and though sometimes hidden, it is there within each of us – always. It is one way we can feel the presence of the divine. The result was that I determined to be mindful each day to notice that joy, whether it was seeing a dog wagging its tail or a child laughing on the street. I became very absorbed in this activity, and one day, after some months, a friend remarked to me how full of joy I was. I realized with surprise that I had not felt that dark sadness for quite some months. It has never returned.

Spiritual thinking is an active ability we all possess and can learn to utilize. And when we use it, we feel whole again, in every area of our lives.

30 June

Canada Day – celebrating the pioneer spirit

On Canada Day we can celebrate our ability to pioneer important changes in every conceivable way, including how we view health

Canada Day – an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the pioneer spirit that resides within us all

Canada Day is one of my favourite days of the year! Why? Because two decades ago I became a Canadian citizen on this very day. So, like many others, I am not only celebrating Canada’s birthday but also the anniversary of becoming a citizen of this wonderful country.

I loved Canada from the first day I arrived. It is inspiring to experience the vast tracts of magnificent wilderness, to remember that we are the guests of the First Nations people, to enjoy the humour that is neither American nor British; and to feel the warm acceptance of different cultures and faiths from around the world. But most of all, I love the pioneering spirit that comes with free thought and fresh ideas, inspiring innovation and invention. We are consistently at the leading edge, both geographically as well as mentally and spiritually…. Read more…

11 June

The search for a kinder narrative on health

Moving away from images of war, or seeing our bodies as a battlefield can open up a new narrative for health.  @GlowImages

Moving away from images of war, or seeing our bodies as a battlefield can open up a new narrative for health.

We need a new language when talking about our health. “We talk in military terms [about disease],” said well-known author and intuitive speaker, Carolyn Myss, during her colourful key-note address at the recent “I Can Do it” conference in Vancouver, sponsored by Hay House Publishing.

We “fight” the flu, “battle” cancer or “combat” a cold, and use such words such as “attack,” “defence” and “struggle.” We even talk about ‘losing or winning the battle.’ A careful scrutiny of health ads reveals many military terms in use – even for simple ailments. But does this “battle” approach improve our health?

The BBC recently aired a talk on this subject with Professor Elena Semino, Professor of Linguistics at Lancaster University. In the conversation, titled “Talking about the Battle Against Cancer,” Professor Semino pointed out that studies show that this language of promoting continual war with the body is not always helpful. In fact, many patients find that militaristic language hinders their recovery.

Continually positioning ourselves in an attack or defence position, mentally places us in a “flight or fight” mode, which is as we know, stressful. What if we laid down our mental weapons of war, and decided to develop a new. more compassionate  language for how we see both ourselves and our health? What if every conversation regarding our health included the idea of love? Read more…

02 June

What near-death experiences can teach us about life

Near-death experiences are a hint that life is far more than can be measured or studied from the narrow perspectives of our present experience of it

Near-death experiences are a hint that life is far more than can be measured or studied from the narrow perspectives of our present experience of it @GlowImages

According to a Gallup poll, over eight million North Americans say they have had a near-death experience, and this number is said to be underestimated. NDE’s, as they are called, are now increasingly debated, challenging the way we see life and death. In our haste to study them – to prove or disprove them – we should ensure we don’t miss the deeply individual and important spiritual lessons they teach about the nature of life and health.

NDEs are not new. They are recorded throughout written history and in many faith traditions. The first recorded mention is by the great Greek philosopher, Plato. The Tibetan Book of the Dead mentions them, as do the Bible and the Koran.

Many people who have experienced NDEs are shy about speaking of them, frightened about being ridiculed and disbelieved. They want to protect and process what they saw and experienced rather than have it dismantled piece by piece by skeptics or clinical studies.

Recently, though, the discussion has broken wide open with the publication of books such as “Proof of Heaven” by neurologist Dr. Eben Alexander. Alexander was …… you can read the rest of this article in the Vancouver Sun HERE


26 May

Epigenetics and its effect on our beliefs about health

The new science of epigenetics disputes the Darwinian theory that genes alone hold the key to our destiny. So what influences the genes?

Do our genes control our destinies? The new science of epigenetics is challenging that theory.

“It’s all in the genes” is a comment we hear often. Whether it is about our health problems, weight issues or temperament, we have been educated to believe we are programmed a certain way even before birth, and that there is not much we can do but grin and bear it.

At the Hay House Conference with the theme “I Can do it,” held this month in Vancouver, Dr. Bruce Lipton challenged this belief. He spoke about the results from his pioneering studies into the new science of epigenetics, which means “above the gene.” He gave an example of an experiment he did in cultivating stem cells in a petri dish. After some time he divided the genetically identical cells into two or more dishes, and placed them all in different environments. He asked the question, “What controls the fate of the cells – their genetic composition or their environment?” The result of his experiment, and many other similar ones, is that even though the cells were genetically identical, they each subsequently evolved differently because of their environment. Read more…

19 May

The invaluable gift of intuition

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” - Albert Einstein @GlowImages

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

Health research – it’s a new story every day! From contradictory studies on whether chocolate and wine is good for you, to the heated debate about the use of statins, it seems every week researchers propound new theories about how to be healthy.

Additionally, questions regarding the reliability of evidence -based studies are on the increase. Only this month, CTV reported a study from McGill University that looked at the little critters used in the research many of us trust to produce unbiased data. It turns out that lab rats themselves are not unbiased! They are influenced by the gender of the researchers. Apparently, the rats like males better than females when it comes to who implements the research! And that bias may have skewed results of much of the data produced in health research.

This got me thinking: if rats and mice behave differently in these studies according to the gender of the individuals caring for them, is there really such a thing as a ‘blind’ or ‘double blind’ study? We all have thoughts and feelings – even participants in a research study. There may be many factors involved that have not yet been taken into account.

Health research can be often helpful; but the strong pressure that researchers and scientists are under to produce breakthroughs and to publish papers, as well as current marketing practices, human opinions and traditions, and fear and politics, can all play into the mix of how we view health. So, is the data we have come to rely upon and trust really neutral or objective? We need to ask the question, “Is this the only way to learn what is good for our health?”

Actually, a lot of the answers lie within us. They appear through what’s called “intuition.” In your ordinary daily affairs you probably already listen to your intuition, which some call a “gut feeling” or “sixth sense.” But it is much more than this, and is a much under-used ability.

Albert Einstein, who made his great discoveries through observation and reason long before many of the scientific tests were available to prove his theories, thought a great deal about intuition. He said,

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Read more…

13 May

In an emergency do you react or respond?


Are you a reactor or responder? The key to survival of an emergency depends on how we prepare                 @GlowImagesEmergency preparedness kits and websites are important for disaster planning, and with the recent earthquake rumblings that some felt, discussion about what to do is back on the front burner.

Emergency preparedness kits and websites are important for disaster planning, and with the recent earthquake rumblings that some felt, discussion about what to do is back on the front burner.

As important as these websites and kits are, few websites discuss the emotional and spiritual preparedness needed – preparedness that positively affects our responses and our health in times of crisis.

One website that broaches the subject is The Alberta Health Services. It has an interesting section about disasters, which asks: “How can I build emotional wellness?” Although not giving solutions, it does note that emotional preparedness is key to surviving a disaster. It states, “Being emotionally prepared for a disaster or emergency can help you reduce stress and anxiety. If you can manage stress every day, it will help you cope in challenging times. It can also help you recover from trauma faster and with fewer long-term effects.”

The question to ask then is, “Am I a responder or a reactor in difficult situations?” because that is key to dealing with them. Read more…

02 May

Laughter – it’s good for your health



Have you had a good laugh lately? I mean a really good – deep, healing within – laugh? Now is your opportunity. This Sunday, May 4 is World Laughter Day, and the Calgary Yoga Laughter group is holding an event at 1pm at the new Peace Bridge on Memorial Drive. The event is free and no registration is necessary.

Dr. Madan Kataria created World Laughter Day in India in 1998 as part of his laughter yoga movement. It is intended to promote World Peace because when you are laughing, anger and hate dissolve. However, there are also health benefits that stretch beyond world peace ideas to a deeper discovery of our innate joy and its connection to our health. Recent studies on the effect of laughter on memory and stress levels found a wide range of health benefits including memory improvement and lower stress.

Cheryl Ann Oberg from Calgary has seen many of these benefits. A member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humour, she is a clown therapist at the Calgary Children’s Hospital. She also shares her gift of humour at conferences as a keynote speaker, and has worked with people in many walks of life – from business executives to religious groups, seniors in care facilities, children in hospital, mental health patients and those with Alzheimer’s. …. Read more…

22 April

Taking control of stress and its hidden symptoms

April is National Stress Awareness week in Canada @GlowImages

April is National Stress Awareness week in Canada

It is springtime. Gazing at a sea of red of tulips or driving under a canopy of glorious blossoms is one of the most uplifting moments of a day – something to enjoy and to remember later on a cold winter day. Yet, for many of us, life is so burdened with tension and stress, that we often do not notice these little things, or remember them.

A study at Carleton University in Ottawa found that about a third of Canadians feel that they are under stress. The reasons are many – trauma, work overload, financial challenges, or unhappy family relationships.

A rarely recognized sign of stress caught my attention in the Carleton University study under the title, “Spiritual Signs of Stress.” This sign or symptom, which we don’t usually attach to stress, is cynicism. Cynicism is that nagging, negative feeling of mistrust and doubt due to a build-up of life’s ups and downs; its hurts and betrayals. Viewing life through mistrustful lenses, we are constantly on the alert and on the defensive – our fight or flight reactor permanently switched on. This negative viewpoint can silently drain us for years, going undetected and unnoticed.

However, recognizing cynicism as a health concern, we should be more willing to find a solution to it, just as we would address a poor diet or lack of exercise for health reasons. Read more…

14 April

Redefining both “health” and “care” in healthcare


When renowned Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at the 2013 World Innovation Summit on Health, she asked healthcare professionals to rethink.

“The kind of innovative healthcare to which I look forward is the one rooted in human values and in spirituality, which will help us come together as we move forward into the 21st century,” she said in her keynote address. She continued, “Please do not look at healthcare innovation only in terms of technology, training and medical education, but in terms of poor society, nurturing to the basics towards creating a healthy society in the best sense of the word.”

Some of the pre-eminent healthcare leaders in the world gathered together at that conference to share and discover new ideas for healthcare through innovation – solutions coming not only from sophisticated clinical laboratories, but from spiritual thinkers and health leaders as well. Read more…