Thursday, May 26, 2011

Become aware, stay alive

There is something to be said for meditation.  The attached article discusses the result of compassion meditation and its potential influence on your immune system.

But, more than just the health benefit, the ability to control and recognize your being is something most of us strive for each day.  Some through diet, role playing, or even the ever present self fulfilling prophecy.

I am pasting the steps for compassion meditation below.  Not for you to master, but just to try.  Some of the steps sound a bit silly, but look beyond the actual task and really just focus in on your purpose--to connect and become aware.

How to do a Compassion Meditation

  • Sit in your usual comfortable position form meditation.
  • Begin allowing your mind to clear, your breathing to slow and your body to relax and slow.
  • Using something or someone as the focus point in your meditation (this is usually the target of your compassion). Begin to see it as an image on your mind's eye.
  • Next see yourself sitting in meditation where you are, now begin to picture your breath entering your body through your heart chakra, which is at your heart.
  • Then on the out breath see your exhale through your crown chakra, which is the top of your head. When you exhale you are exhaling love and compassion.
  • Next picture the exhaled love and compassion making its way to your target (person etc.). Watch as your compassion falls on the target and surrounds it with love and positive energy.
  • Do this technique of breathing in and out and focusing on the target for as long as you sit in this meditation, allow the same procedure with your breathe/energy to continue.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Happy Happy, Joy Joy

20 Amazing Facts About Happiness
Written by Suzannah Moss - FamilyHealthGuide Senior Writer

Scientists are continuing to unravel the roots of positive emotion. You will be surprised and encouraged by the research findings outlined below.

1) Although genes and upbringing influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (income and environment) affect only about 10 percent. The remaining 40% is accounted for by our outlook and activities, including our relationships, friendships and jobs, our engagement in the community and our involvement in sports and hobbies.

2) A good mood has a distinct smell. Scientists have found that people can judge whether someone is in a positive mood from their body odour alone. In one experiment men and women were shown scary films while their armpit odour was collected on gauze pads. A week later researchers asked strangers to decide which pads came from people in a good mood and which came from frightened people. They were able to do this with surprising accuracy.

3) Older people are more satisfied with there lives than younger people: a recent survey by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that people aged 20-24 are sad for an average of 3.4 days per month as opposed to just 2.3 days for people aged 65-74

4) If you do 20 minutes of exercise, three days per week for six months, your general feeling of happiness will improve by 10-20%.

5) People who rate in the upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average in response to flu vaccines.

6) According to researchers at The World Database of Happiness at Erasmus University in Holland, Denmark is officially the happiest nation in the world, followed closely by Malta, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland and Canada.

7) In the USA clinical depression is 3-10 times more common today than two generations ago.

8) Immigrants tend to acquire the happiness characteristics of the nation to which they move, not the nation from which they were born.

9) Richer workers tend to be happier than poorer colleagues, but research suggests that happy people tend to have greater potential to become rich, so it's a chicken or egg scenario

10) People who suffer strokes or other debilitating diseases suffer tremendously in the short term but after a while their happiness is only slightly below the average of the population.

11) When people get married their happiness peaks, but after a while their happiness returns to the level it was before they got married.

12) Women tend to experience their all-time lowest life satisfaction at age 37, whereas men typically experience this at 42

13) Having 100-200 belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high impact workout, burning off up to 500 calories.

14) Gold doesn't guarantee happiness. Studies of Olympic athletes found that bronze medal winners are happier than silver medal winners and sometimes happier than gold medallists. According to the Australian teams psychologist , Graham Winters, it feels better to come third when you are not expecting it than to be pipped for first.

15) The late pioneering social psychologist Professor Michael Argyle, who conducted many happiness studies, showed that among the things that made people happy are sport, music and - most of all dancing. Encouraging sports facilities everywhere would greatly increase a nations happiness. Group dancing which, which combines, exercise, music, community, touch and rules, also drastically increases happiness.

16) Several studies have shown that a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress, promoting health and happiness.

17) After basic needs are met, extra material wealth has little or no effect on life satisfaction or happiness (broadly speaking you would need to receive a windfall of more than £1 million to transform you from an unhappy person to a happy person and even then the effect is often temporary).

18) People in steady relationships are generally happier than singles.

19) In nations with high levels of income equality, such as the Scandinavian countries, happiness tends to be higher than in nations with unequal wealth distribution, such as the USA. People tend to prefer more local autonomy and more direct democracy to increased income.

20) According to a new look at a 40 year old study on child rearing practices conducted at Harvard University, those children who were hugged and cuddled more grew up to be the happiest.

May is Perinatal Mental Health Awareness month

Just in time for all of the spring eggs to be hatch.  Here is some info for soon to be moms and/or moms you know.

When Mama Ain't Happy

Perinatal Awareness Month

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's been a while...

While it may seem as though I have neglected my blog, and maybe I have--ok I have, I find it necessary to at least touch upon why.

Attention to personal mental health and creating your world.

I find that in my field of counseling and public service that professionals often forget why exactly they chose this path.  And though most will give you the generic answer" because I want to help people", the truth is that most do it to feel better about themselves, and create a life they find socially acceptable and admirable.

In my case, I do really want to impact the mental health of other people in a useful way--not negatively or positively--I just want to leave them with another perspective, a different choice, or a new circumstance to explore.  I strongly feel though that I am of no use to you if I can not provide those very things to myself.

The past month has brought many changes to my life personally, and I consciously took the time I needed to address my emotions, my choices, and my plans.  And here I am, back and ready to serve.

So I will just leave this, take the time to explore your choice to put others before yourself.  Can you give them your best if you have not given yourself the opportunity to be your best for them?  How might your self care impact how you care for others?  Can you really give everything you inherently want to give, or are you only tasting what could be if you could only "get it together"?