Monday, May 28, 2007

Heart Centered Learning: Breath Training

Here's a fun short sample of a stress-reducing breath exercise with nice graphics, music and affirmations, provided by Illumination University:

They state:
One of the most important discoveries of the past several decades is that you can consciously quiet the production of stress hormones in your body by a specific pace of breathing. Research shows that when you time your breathing to a pace of approximately 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out, your body stops firing off the stress chemicals that cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, and elevated blood pressure. This discovery led to FDA approval of breath-training tools and techniques for treatment of common problems such as high blood pressure. This discovery also led to a positive application: Heart-Centered Learning.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Religion only seems different if...

Religion only seems different if you are dealing with a retailer. If you deal with a wholesaler, they all get it from the same distributor. -- Stephen Gaskin

Thursday, May 24, 2007

When we're uncomfortable we strengthen old habits - Pema


Shambhala Mountain Center, 8.19.03

And the helpful hint is when you're feeling uncomfortable, first of all, you can guarantee there's shenpa involved, and you could contemplate the truth or untruth of whether or not it's because you're bubble of security has just been popped. But the real core instruction is, whenever you're feeling uncomfortable, don't believe what you're saying to yourself. Right then is the time to not believe what you're saying to yourself.

And what we're saying to ourselves at those times are really old habits. We're reinforcing really old habits. That's what we do when we're uncomfortable. We don't leave it with just hooked or triggered. We seek to get the bubble back together— or whatever language you want to use— by talking to ourselves, in a way that really strengthens old habits. And they're usually very self-destructive habits.

This article falls in line nicely with the previous one I posted about changing our personal threshold (Bill Harris); how we reinforce our stress and negative thinking once we become overwhelmed. J.D.

Read more: (Look under the link for Q&A)
©2006 Shambhala International. All rights reserved.

Spiritual Practices for Dealing with Difficult People

In his insightful book on this subject, Thank You for Being Such a Pain, Mark I. Rosen observes:

"The most powerful option for dealing with a difficult person is personal growth. Inner change inevitably leads to outer change." He suggests that you say a little prayer when you find yourself face-to-face with a difficult person: "Here comes another one. God, I ask you to guide me. You have sent this person to me for a reason. Help me to know what it is, and help me to cope successfully."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pema Chodron online study course - you can still sign up!

Practicing Spirituality with Pema Chodron
May 21 - June 29, 2007
This popular and very accessible Buddhist teacher is especially good on ways to deal with fear, insecurity, being stuck, and all those other unwanted, painful, and messy parts of ourselves. Her practical approach helps us cultivate a life of compassion and joy as we work to dissolve the barriers that separate us from others.

This is presented by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, the editors of Spirituality & Health. I understand at least 800 from around the world have joined this program so far. It is extremely affordable, at $19.95.

"Practicing Spirituality with Pema Chodron," a 40-day e-course, will begin on May 21 and continue through June 29, 2007. For each daily email, we will choose a brief quotation from Pema Chodron's writings and offer a practice suggestion based on the passage. Adding to the value and impact of this e-course, subscribers will be invited to join us in a private "Practice Circle" where they can dialogue with other participants about the teachings and their experiences with the practices.

Trinidad Heart

Janis C. Davies Photography, 2007, All Rights Reserved

Raising Your Personal Threshold

This month's issue of Mind Chatter from Centerpointe Research Institute has an excellent article on the concept of raising your personal threshold - in other words, the point at which we go from thinking of the world in positive terms to being stressed and responding in negative terms. This would be the point where we fall back unconsciously to responding with childhood coping mechanisms, which could be outward like anger, or inward like depression.

Whether or not you are interested in the brain-wave technology they offer, the article is valuable in itself.

Be Well, Janis

Over the Top: How Raising Your Personal Threshold Can Change Your Life, by Bill Harris

Readers who prefer to read Mind Chatter in its original plain-text format compatible with blackberry mobile devices can do so by clicking here:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Virtue & Vice

"More people are flattered into virtue
than bullied out of vice."
Robert Smith Surtees

Study Breaks Link Between Lycopene And Prostate Cancer

No Magic Tomato? Study Breaks Link Between Lycopene And Prostate Cancer Prevention Science Daily —

Tomatoes might be nutritious and tasty, but don't count on them to prevent prostate cancer. In the May issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers based at the National Cancer Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center report that lycopene, an antioxidant predominately found in tomatoes, does not effectively prevent prostate cancer. In fact, the researchers noted an association between beta-carotene, an antioxidant related to lycopene, and an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

According to the researchers, the study is one of the largest to evaluate the role of blood concentrations of lycopene and other carotenoid antioxidants in preventing prostate cancer. Study data were derived from over 28,000 men enrolled in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial, an ongoing, randomized National Cancer Institute trial to evaluate cancer screening methods and to investigate early markers of cancer. "It is disappointing, since lycopene might have offered a simple and inexpensive way to lower prostate cancer risk for men concerned about this common disease," said Ulrike Peters, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Unfortunately, this easy answer just does not work."

"While it would be counter-productive to advise people against eating carrots and leafy vegetables, I would say to be cautious about taking beta carotene supplements, particularly at high doses, and consult a physician," Peters said.

Funding for this study was provided through the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

STAYING HEALTHY TIPS - spring cleaning for the whole person!

In spite of the worldly and personal challenges we all face at this time,
we can be nourished and healed by Nature. In "10 Tips for Spring Cleaning" Elson M. Haas, M.D. offers you practical suggestions for getting your life in order.
1. Become Current in your Life in this inspiring season.
2. Look at your personal relationships and see how they affect you and how you affect them.
Choose three habits that inhabit your life.
Clean and organize your home.
Get outdoors and exercise.
Look at your dietary choices.
Next look at your Emotional and Spiritual aspects.
Do some Cleansing or Detox Program for 1-3 weeks this Spring.
Look at your Nutritional Supplements.
Make your Overall Plan and Commitments.

Check out the complete details of this great list of healthy tips at:

Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books.

Copyright Elson M. Haas, MD, 2003 All Rights Reserved

Anyone may subscribe to Staying Healthy Tips at the website, or send an e-mail message to

How Imagery affects emotional states and your health

Humans are image-making creatures. In "Put Yourself in the Picture of Health" John W. Travis, M.D., M.P.H., explains how images create emotional states that affect brain chemistry, and brain chemistry will depress or strengthen every system in your body, including your immune system. No wonder visualization is such a powerful tool for personal wellness.

Refer to this link for more information and a couple of guided imagery exercises you can try on your own:



Turmeric, the spice that flavors and gives its yellow color to many curries and other foods, has been used for centuries by practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory disorders. Turmeric extract containing the ingredient curcumin is marketed widely in the Western world as a dietary supplement for the treatment and prevention of a variety of disorders, including arthritis. A recent study provides the first in vivo documentation of a mechanism of action - how curcumin-containing extracts protect against arthritis. It also suggests that turmeric may have a use in other inflammatory disorders, such as asthma, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

In osteoporosis, "curcuminoid extract blocked the pathway that affects bone resorption."

Complete article:



In a victory for consumers, two national dairy advertising campaigns overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will stop claiming that dairy products cause weight loss because such claims are not supported by existing scientific research. The decision, which comes in response to an FTC petition filed by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, will end misleading claims made in the "Milk Your Diet. Lose Weight" and "3-A-Day. Burn More Fat, Lose Weight" promotions.

Complete article:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stellar Jays have fledged...

The Jay babies are almost ready to fledge, and I will surely miss seeing them off this year. They will be gone by the time I get home. But I hope to see them as "teenagers" here in my yard, begging for peanuts, as their parents have for many years. Don't they look proud and handsome? The fourth was too shy to sit for the camera this time.

Be Well, Janis

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Happiness.... Gandhi quote

HeartMath is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath. HeartQuotes is a trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc. Copyright © 2007, HeartMath LLC All rights reserved.

Monday, May 7, 2007

“Expect to have hope rekindled...

“Expect to have hope rekindled.

Expect your prayers to be answered

in wondrous ways.

The dry seasons in life do not last.

The spring rains will come again.”

- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Signs of Spring

As I sit to write this signs of Spring emerge throughout my yard. The Stellar Jay babies are taking shape, and I finally got a glimpse deeper into the nest yesterday to find 4 healthy kids trying to cool themselves off from the afternoon's warmth. This viewing, after several days return of wintry weather, when I could not see them at all they were so deeply buried in heat protective survival mode. Walking my yard this morning also revealed the apple tree aghast in blooms, and buzzing loudly with the sound of bees, a welcome sound indeed, after so many years of decimated bee populations to pollinate the fruit trees.

A hummingbird came by to find the feeder still in cold storage, and the tree swallows have staked out their territory, chattering madly anytime anyone gets near the nesting box. The lawn has been mowed twice now, so much earlier than most years.

The delicate japanese and vine maples are fully leafed out in all their lacey glory, yet our cold winter with no snow cover and little moisture took its toll. I have already pulled out some mature shrubs I must have planted twenty-odd years ago that did not survive. The loss of a young plant after a few short years is often expected and tolerated. My gardening philosophy is based on survival of the fittest. But to lose hardy shrubs many years old, there is sadness there, of losing old friends, icons of the yard. The Santolina artemisia perhaps not so fancy, a dry looking silver-leaved plant with natural oils that repel insects, was a staple in my yard, anchoring the bed for more frivolous florals. This shrub surely will be missed. The dense cover it provided was the perfect hiding place for ground feeding birds, or injured ones looking for respite.

With Spring the backdrop in my mind today, I am repeatedly drawn to the knowledge that one of my dearest friends sits at the oncologists office, awaiting news of last week's biopsies. A breast cancer survivor, she now faces the probability of cancer's untimely return. I silently offer prayers of love and support, holding her in Wisdom and Protection. Each year brings joy and challenge and we are never sure what stands waiting at the door. The gifts of Spring are tempered with the uncertainty of the future, reinforcing my inner drive to remain faithful to a spiritual view of life, to remain mindful in all things, to celebrate the sacredness in all things, from the tiniest aphid and ant, to the grandness of the Universe and the Quest for healing.

Knowing I can depend on the return of Spring each year, I know that our Spirits are never broken, remaining Whole throughout the trials of our earthly lives, extending beyond illness, the winter and physical death.

Be Well, Janis

Small Daily Changes add up to making a big difference

HeartMath is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath. HeartQuotes is a trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc.
Copyright © 2007, HeartMath LLC All rights reserved.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Illness and Storytelling

Illness and Storytelling

By: Collaborative Medicine Journal, Starfish Health Partners

A few years ago, I attended a workshop entitled "Spirituality and Cancer" in San Francisco. Many of the people present were living with cancer and dealing with debilitating treatments. While I found the workshop presentation to be valuable, a participant insisted upon making strong suggestions to the rest of the attendees about what she felt was the "best" path to healing and cure, based upon her personal experience. Perhaps you have heard something similar to the following: "I have conquered my disease and you can, too, if you only (fill in the blank)." I know this person meant well and wanted to help. But she didn't.

Instead, tension began to fill the room. Some could barely contain their outrage. Why didn't they jump up and thank this woman who seemed to care so much about them? She surely believed her story was important, and perhaps it might have been. To help us, Arthur W. Frank, a professor of medical sociology at the University of Calgary, has given us a framework for understanding why this storyteller encountered such anger.

In his book The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics (1995), Frank talks about the value of "illness narratives," the stories people tell about their experience of illness. He writes, "Serious illness is a loss of the destination and map that had previously guided the ill person's life: ill people have to learn to think differently. They learn by hearing themselves tell their stories, absorbing others' reactions and experiencing their stories being shared." He reminds us that in many illness narratives, the story is told through the wounded body. In the telling of the story, a different sort of map, destination and compass can emerge.

Frank's illness narrative, At the Will of the Body (1991), chronicles his own encounter with testicular cancer, in which he tells us that illness is the experience of living through disease. He contrasts "disease talk" with "illness talk." "If disease talk measures the body, illness talk tells of the fear and frustration of being inside a body that is breaking down. Illness begins where medicine leaves off, where I recognize that what is happening to my body is not some set of measures. What happens to my body happens to my life".

So what about the "helpful" woman at the workshop?

Frank has defined three types of illness storytelling:

1. The first is the Restitution Narrative, or gee whiz-remarkable recovery stories that we often read about in the media (or hear from people in workshops!). What is important to understand is that, in this case, illness is seen as transitory. In terms of the story, "It is a response to an interruption, but the narrative itself is above interruption." It is all about the body returning to its former image of itself, before illness. The illness has been managed; the body likened to a car that has broken down and been repaired.
2. The second type is the Chaos narrative: chaos being the opposite of restitution. It imagines life never getting better. The person speaks without self-reflection and without narration. It is an anti-narrative.
3. The third type of narrative that Frank describes is the Quest narrative, as told through a body that can communicate an experience. "Quest stories meet suffering head on; they accept illness and seek to use it. Illness is the occasion of a journey that becomes a quest." Quest narratives talk about what it's like to be in pain, share a person's hopes and fears, his or her sense (or lack of sense) about the meaning of suffering and the possibility of death. Rather than telling others what they should do in order to return to their former state, quest narratives bear witness to the experience and share wisdom.

Frank does this when he writes to his "younger self," before illness. He tells him, "For all you lose, you have an opportunity to gain: closer relationships, more poignant appreciations, clarified values. Your are entitled to mourn what you can no longer be, but do not let this mourning obscure your sense of what you can become. You are embarking on a dangerous opportunity. Do not curse your fate; count your possibilities."

When I listen to people telling those gee-whiz restitution stories, I find myself feeling both happy that they are well and saddened for their missed opportunity. They have missed the opportunity to grow from within. They are separate from the group because they discount and devalue the Quest story. They have missed the opportunity to fully live an experience that comes with the territory of being alive.

First published through CancerLynx and dedicated to Alexandra.


# Arthur W. Frank The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics, University of Chicago Press 1995
# Arthur W. Frank At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness, Mariner Press, 1991

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Guided Imagery & Mind-Body Healing website

Check out The Healing Mind website, produced by Dr. Martin Rossman, a well-known authority on guided imagery. The following are some excerpts from the website. Enjoy! Be Well, Janis

Welcome to The Healing Mind We are here to help you improve your health and your life. We will teach you how to use a power you already have to reduce your stress, improve your health habits, stimulate healing, and live with more wellness. It's a power that has been researched more than all other approaches to health combined, and it's complementary to all of them. It's safe, effective, inexpensive, and has side benefits instead of side effects! While you already have this power, you probably have never been taught to use it. It's the power of your mind/body connection.

Free Stress Buster!

Too much stress erodes the quality of life and is one of the leading causes of modern illness. Relaxation, guided imagery, and other mind/body approaches have been proven to reduce stress and put you back in charge of your life. The Healing Mind wants to help you reduce your stress and support your well-being. Download our free 12-minute stress buster.

Dr. Marty Rossman
Physician, author, speaker, researcher, and consultant, Dr. Rossman founded The Healing Mind in order to raise awareness about the power of high quality mind/body self-care tools in self-healing and in the health professions.

The following practitioners collaborate on this website as well:

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
Rachel Naomi Remen is the Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal

Dr. Emmett Miller
Emmett Miller, MD, one of the fathers of mind/body medicine, is a physician, scientist, musician, and master storyteller, whose multicultural heritage has given him a unique social, medical, and spiritual perspective.

Dr. Jeanne Achterberg
Dr. Achterberg is a scientist who has received international recognition for her pioneering research in medicine and psychology.

Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier
Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier is a Clinical Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, at the University of Arizona School of Medicine; and, a Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco (UCSF).

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Buddhist Wisdom: Rejoice in Others' Successes

Whenever you hear that someone else has been successful, rejoice. Always practice rejoicing for others--whether your friend or your enemy. If you cannot practice rejoicing, no matter how long you live, you will not be happy.

-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, "Transforming Problems Into Happiness"

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations," edited by Josh Bartok, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm St., Somerville MA 02144 U.S.A,