Category Archives: Move your mood

Meditation Monday: What’s Going to be New This Year?

Tonight is New Year’s Eve.  As we wind down 2012 and get ready to gear up for 2013, it’s natural to take some time to reflect on what’s transpired for us this year and to set intentions for the next trip around the sun.

So today in meditation, contemplate this: what do you do right for your mood this past year? And what didn’t work so well?

What will you do in the coming year to get a better handle on your emotions and your performance?

Leave your answers in the comment section.

 

image: [Carwyn Lloyd Jones - Dylunio Creadigol]

Carolyn’s Mood Hacks: Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is a mode of energy psychology that involves tapping on accupressure points on the face and body while saying affirmations designed to release negative emotions like fear and depression.  Research has shown that EFT can be especially effective in cases of post-traumatic stress and phobias that resist conventional treatment.  The idea behind EFT is that all negative emotions are caused by energy blockages in the body and that these blockages can be removed by tapping.

I’ve found EFT to be dramatically effective in altering my own dark moods, especially ones that arise out of guilt or embarrassment. People also report that by tapping on their emotional problems, physical health problems dramatically improve.

Almost all EFT sessions use a form of affirmation designed to circumvent the mind’s objections to change.  The form is this: “Even though [state the negative situation, event or feeling], I completely love and accept myself.”   You say this affirmation while tapping repeatedly on a spot on your chest known as the “sore spot” (so-called because if you tap on your chest, you’ll notice there’s a spot that’s more sore and tender – it’s part of your lymphatic system, and part of the energy meridians of your body).  An example might be, “Even though I feel like a failure because I didn’t get the job I wanted, I love and accept myself completely.”  You then go on to tap other accupressure spots on your face and body while repeating the affirmation.

Sometimes miraculous things happen with EFT – after only one round of tapping you may find your mood and emotions have completely “rewired.” Is this magic? How to account for such dramatic shifts?  The drama of the shifts may have something to do with the way that tapping releases neurotransmitters into the nervous system that “interrupt” the usual energetic pattern of a thought or problem, thereby opening us to change.

For a detailed introductory tutorial on EFT, visit this site.

 

image: [jenni from the block]

 

Meditation Monday: Give Yourself and the World Permission to Be

Often times in meditation, we’re working to improve or change ourselves.  The very desire to “fix” or “make better,” though, can keep us stuck in self-centered patterns of trying to control and manage our world.

As an antidote to this frenetic attempt at control, the California teacher Adyashanti, in his talks on “true meditation” suggests just settling into a comfortable position and allowing yourself and the world to simply be as they are.  In this way, we can relax and surrender to the reality of the present moment.

So today, let’s give this a try.  Sit down, get cozy.  Let everything be.  What do you discover about the nature of your experience when you’re not trying to change anything about it?

 

image: [King...]

 

Oxytocin Saturday: Baby Koalas

The comedian Mitch Hedberg famously wished that instead of having infestations of ants and roaches, he could have an infestation of baby koalas.  Sounds great to us.

1. Vintage – Australian Families Caring for Orphaned Koalas

Who doesn’t want to keep a tiny baby koala in a sock under their blouse?

2. Baby Koala Has His First Meal of Leaves

Mmmmmm…. eucalyptus!

3. Little Guy Goes on a Climbing Adventure

It’s tough work stretching those little baby koala muscles.

 

image: [n.hewson]

Carolyn’s Mood Hacks: The Power of Niacin for Depression

Lately I’ve been struck pretty hard by the winter blues.  To combat my depression, I’m experimenting with a B vitamin that you probably haven’t thought much about. B-3, also known as niacin, is a nutrient that can significantly affect your body’s production of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter targeted by many anti-depressant medications.

Your body creates both serotonin and niacin by using the essential amino acid tryptophan.   Since your cells need niacin to function properly, if your diet is deficient in the vitamin, your body will use up its tryptophan to create niacin rather than serotonin.  The result? You end up depressed.

A branch of alternative treatment known as orthomolecular medicine claims that some folks may just need a lot more niacin than others in order to have optimal neurological functioning.  These orthomolecular practitioners report some astounding successes in treating patients for mental problems including depression and schizophrenia using B-3.

More scientific studies would have to be conducted to fully substantiate these orthomolecular doctor’s claims, but since niacin is a safe and cheap substance, I figured it I might go ahead and give it a shot.

The results? So far, so good.  I’ve only been taking it for a few days. Already I’m sleeping better – and my mind has a fresh, sparkling and alert feeling.  I definitely feel that it’s made a marked difference in my mood for the better.  I was feeling really heavy and low – now I’m feeling much bouncier. Yay!

The orthomolecular practitioners suggest when taking niacin for depression that you consume 3 grams (or 6 500 mg tablets) of the stuff a day, one gram after each meal.  Be careful to buy the “no flush” variety of niacin, or else you’ll experience intense and painful blushing when you take that amount of the vitamin.

 

image: [stevendepolo]

‘Hedgehog Pathway’ in Brain Possible Key to Healing Depression

Recent studies have discovered that depression is associated with a reduction in a brain process called ‘neurogenesis’- the ability of the brain to produce new brain cells. However, the pathway responsible for this process has, until now, remained unknown.

A new study from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry reveals this formerly unknown molecular pathway leading to depression, suggesting potential new targets for drug discovery. The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, shows for the first time that the ‘Hedgehog pathway’ regulates how stress hormones, usually elevated during depression, reduce the number of brain cells.

Depression affects approximately 15 million Americans. The severity of symptoms can range from feelings of sadness and hopelessness to, in the most severe cases, self-harm or suicide. Treatment for depression involves either medication or talking treatment, or usually a combination of the two.

In this study, Dr Christoph Anacker from the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour (CCBB) at King’s Institute of Psychiatry and his team studied human stem cells, which are the source of new cells in the human brain, to investigate the effect of stress hormones on brain cell development.

Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are generally elevated in stress and depression. The scientists studied stem cells in a laboratory and found that high concentrations of cortisol damaged these stem cells and reduced the number of newborn brain cells. They discovered that a specific signalling mechanism in the cell, the ‘Hedgehog pathway,’ is responsible for this process. Then, using an animal model, the team confirmed that exposure to stress inhibited this pathway in the brain.

Finally, in order to test the findings, the researchers used a compound called purmorphamine, which is known to stimulate the Hedgehog pathway. They found that by using this drug, they were able to reverse the damaging effects of stress hormones, and normalise the production of new brain cells.

Dr Christoph Anacker, lead author of the study from King’s Institute of Psychiatry says: “By decreasing the number of new-born cells in the human brain, stress hormones damage many important brain functions and may contribute to the development of depression after a period of chronic stress. By inhibiting the Hedgehog signalling pathway, stress hormones reduce the development of immature ‘stem’ cells into mature ‘brain’ cells.”

Dr. Anacker continues: “With as much as half of all depressed patients failing to improve with currently available treatments, developing new, more effective antidepressants still remains a great challenge, which makes it crucial to identify new potential mechanisms to target. The discovery of antidepressants has so far been mainly by serendipity. Developing a drug with a defined effect on the brain, such as increasing the number of new-born brain cells, and with a clear target, such as Hedgehog signalling, will allow us to develop much more specific antidepressants in the future.”

Paper reference: Anacker, C. et al. ‘Glucocoticoid-related molecular signalling pathways regulating hippocampal neurogenesis’ Neuropsychopharmacology (2012)

source: [Science Daily]

image: [willgame]

Meditation Monday: Self-Forgiveness

We all know that resentment is painful – and often the most painful and difficult-to-release resentments we hold are against ourselves.  Our egos hate the fact that we do things which aren’t in its grand plan for “how our lives should look.”  We’re liable to punish ourselves a thousand times with shame and guilt for one action whose results we don’t like.  This self-punishment can have a miserable effect on our mood and productivity.

Our suffering about a past mistake doesn’t erase the situation or make it better.  Yet it’s as if some part of us believes that by feeling ashamed or guilty, we can prevent ourselves from messing up again.  This just isn’t the case.  The more shame-filled we are, the less likely we are to make optimal decisions.

So how do you stop punishing yourself?  First, recognize that beating yourself up over a past failure is a form of violence, and violence only creates more harm.  Open your heart to the fact that no one, including you, deserves to be treated with violence.  Second, imagine all the good that can come out of you feeling happy and free – how much more service will you give to the world from a place of freedom?  Understand that your happiness and freedom are gifts to the people around you and your best options for making life better.  Third, decide (again and again, if need be) not to hold your past against yourself.

You’ll know your self-forgiveness practice is working when you begin to feel lighter and easier.  Remember, the more you can forgive yourself, the more good you can do in the world.

 

image: [pasa47]

Oxytocin Saturday: Corgi Puppies!

All puppies are adorable of course, but there’s just something magical about corgis with their short little legs.  They’re like the hobbits of puppydom.

1. Corgi Puppy ‘Attack’

If only all attacks in the world were executed by corgi puppies – I guess we’d have a lot more tail-wagging and a lot less sorrow.

2. Butterball vs. The Big Bad Stairs

The next time you’re scared to do something in your life – just think of Butterball and her brave, triumphant journey down the stairs.

3. Up Close with a Baby Corgi

I think this little guy might be in Japan – the great thing about this video is the camera angle. It’s on-the-level with the corgi baby, for maximum cuteness.

 

image: [kevinkyen]

Carolyn’s Mood Hacks: Getting Some Sunshine

Feeling down now that it’s December and the days are shorter?

Studies have shown that vitamin D, a hormone that the human body only produces in response to sunlight, has a large role to play in regulating our moods and keeping us cheerful.  In winter months in the northern hemisphere, we suffer a loss of sunshine, and a consequential loss of opportunity for our bodies to produce Vitamin D.

A vitamin D deficiency may partly account for why some people are more prone to sadness and depression in the winter.  To help boost your mood even when it’s cold, get out into the sunshine for activities during the day (bundle up!) and try taking a vitamin D supplement.  Experts suggest that a daily dose of about 5000 IU should do the trick.

Here are some ideas for outdoor winter fun that could keep you on the sunnyside:

  1. Have a snowball fight
  2. Go sledding (bring a portable mug of hot cocoa for extra cheer!)
  3. Take a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the holiday lights
  4. Shop for presents at an outdoors market district
  5. Go ice-skating at a local rink

The winter blues can be tough to beat, but by staying active and supplementing your nutrition, your mood can stay bright even when it’s dark outside.

image: [kevin dooley]