Sunday, June 28, 2009

Plant-Based Whole Foods Living blog

This looks to be a handy Blog for those of us who keep meaning to make our lives more plant-based diet friendly. As the author Karen Miller states, it is about the nutrition, not labels like vegan or vegetarian...

Plant-Based Whole Foods Living

She pursued this direction after fighting breast cancer over the last year, and subsequently reading many books addressing nutrition, health and fitness, seeking lifestyle changes to support a disease free future.

This well thought out blog includes recipes, hints, information, and resource links. You can even join a Recipe Club for $4/month that includes a binder. I think Karen has created a user friendly, and inviting resource for anyone looking to comfortably and easily expand their plant-based diets.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Notes On Solstice by Liana Carbon

Did you celebrate the Summer Solstice over the weekend? As you know, the Summer solstice is the time of year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the celestial equator. The summer solstice was celebrated when the sun reached its most northerly position.

Did you know that it is known by many names? Alban Heflin, Alben Heruin, All-couples day, Feast of Epona, Feast of St. John the Baptist, Feill-Sheathain, Gathering Day, Johannistag, Litha, Midsummer, Sonnwend, Thing-Tide, and Vestalia, among others.

Most people around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June, many of which are linked in some way to the summer solstice.
Solstice SunOn this day, typically June 21st, the daytime hours are at a maximum in the Northern hemisphere, and night time is at a minimum. It is officially the first day of summer. It is also referred to as Midsummer because it is roughly the middle of the growing season throughout much of Europe.

In pre-historic times, summer was a joyous time of the year for the indigenous people who lived in the northern latitudes. The snow had disappeared; the ground had thawed out; warm temperatures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, both for medicinal and for other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had already been planted and would be harvested in the months to come. Although many months of warm even hot weather remained before the fall, they noticed that the days were beginning to shorten, so that the return of the cold season was inevitable.

This time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the "grand (sexual) union" of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltane. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until June. June remains a favorite month for marriages today. In some traditions, newly wed couples were fed dishes and beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately after the ceremony: The Honeymoon.

In Ancient China their summer solstice ceremony celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin forces. It complemented the winter solstice which celebrated the heavens, masculinity and yang forces.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. "It was the night of fire festivals and of love magic, of love oracles and divination. It had to do with lovers and predictions, when pairs of lovers would jump through the luck-bringing flames. It was believed that the crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.

Many of our North American tribes celebrate the summer solstice as well.
  • The Natchez tribe in the southern U.S. worshiped the sun and believed that their ruler was descended from him. Every summer they held a first fruits ceremony. Nobody was allowed to harvest the corn until after the feast.
  • Males in the Hopi tribe dressed up as Kachinas, the dancing spirits of rain and fertility who were messengers between humanity and the Gods. At Midsummer, the Kachinas leave the villages to spend the next six months in the mountains, where they were believed to visit the dead underground and hold ceremonies on their behalf.
  • Native Americans have created countless stone structures linked to equinoxes and solstices. One, called Calendar One, is in a natural amphitheatre of about 20 acres in size in Vermont. From a stone enclosure in the center of the bowl, one can see a number of vertical rocks and other markers around the edge of the bowl. At the summer solstice, the sun rose at the southern peak of the east ridge and set at a notch at the southern end of the west ridge. The winter solstice and the equinoxes were similarly marked.
  • The Bighorn Medicine Wheel west of Sheridan, WY is perhaps the most famous of the 40 or more similar "wheels" on the high plains area of the Rocky Mountains, most of which are located in Canada. At Bighorn, the center of a small cairn, that is external to the main wheel, lines up with the center of the wheel and the sun rising at the summer equinox. Another similar sighting cairn provides a sighting for three dawn-rising stars: Aldebaran, Rigel and Sirius. A third cairn lines up with fourth star: Fomalhaut.
The Summer Solstice is regarded as a time for purification and renewal of the self. Because it celebrates fertility, the growth of seeds planted in the spring, Love is to be celebrated now as well. For couples, it's important that you remember the bonds of love that brought the two of you together in the first place. For those who are single, it's just possible that you will findi your true love is on the horizon!

If you haven't already celebrated, it's not too late. Do a simple-earth honoring ritual. It can be as simple as going outside and offering a simple prayer of gratitude for the fruits (gifts) of your life, and for the turning of things, the sacred cycles of our life.

Dancing is a wonderful way to honor the bright Summer sun at the Summer Solstice - and of course, at any other time too!

© 2009 Dr. Liana L Carb√≥n & Sun Sister Publications.
All Rights Reserved.

Institute of Shamanic Wisdom, Inc.
www.shamanicwisdom.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread

NYTimes.com
June 16, 2009
Personal Health
An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread
By JANE E. BRODY

In the popular 1999 movie “Girl, Interrupted,” Winona Ryder portrays a young woman who tries to commit suicide, then spends nearly a year in a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.

The film, based on a 1993 memoir by Susanna Kaysen, was gripping. But experts say it oversimplified this common yet poorly understood mood disorder.

Georges Han, a recovered patient now studying at the University of Minnesota for a Ph.D. in psychology, describes borderline personality disorder as “a serious psychiatric disorder involving a pervasive sense of emptiness, impulsivity, difficulty with emotions, transient stress-induced psychosis and frequent suicidal thoughts or attempts.”

Moods can change quickly and unpredictably, behaviors can be impulsive (including abuse of alcohol or drugs, reckless driving, overspending or disordered eating), and relationships with others are often unstable. Many patients injure themselves and threaten or attempt suicide to relieve their emotional pain.

People with the disorder are said to have a thin emotional skin and often behave like 2-year-olds, throwing tantrums when some innocent word, gesture, facial expression or action by others sets off an emotional storm they cannot control. The attacks can be brutal, pushing away those they care most about. Then, when the storm subsides, they typically revert to being “sweet and wonderful,” as one family member put it.

In an effort to maintain calm, families often struggle to avoid situations that can set off another outburst. They walk on eggshells, a doomed effort because it is not possible to predict what will prompt an outburst. Living with a borderline person is like traversing a minefield; you never know when an explosion will occur.

A Misleading Label

The name of the disorder was coined in the 1930s, in a misleading reference to the border between neurosis and psychosis. Experts say it has nothing to do with either condition.

Rather, affected individuals seem to be born with a quick and unduly sensitive emotional trigger. The condition appears to have both genetic and environmental underpinnings. Brain studies have indicated that the emotional center of the nervous system — the amygdala — may be overly reactive, while the part that reins in emotional reactions may be underactive.

As children, people who will develop the disorder are often “hyperreactive, hypervigilant and supersensitive,” Valerie Porr, a therapist in New York, said in an interview. Typically they receive a host of misdiagnoses and treatments that are inappropriate and ineffective.

“Some children need more than others in learning to regulate their emotions,” said Marsha M. Linehan, a psychologist at the University of Washington who devised the leading treatment for borderline disorder.

“These kids require a lot of effort to keep themselves emotionally regulated,” Dr. Linehan said in an interview. “They do best with stability. If the family situation is chaotic or the family is very uptight, teaching children to grin and bear it, that tough kids don’t cry, these children will have a lot of trouble.”

Even in a normal family, such children need extra help. Dr. Linehan told of one mother who said: “I was an ordinary mother, and my child needed a special mother. I took training and became the special mother he needed.”

Borderline personality disorder afflicts about 2 percent of the general population, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and it is twice as common as a much better-known disorder, schizophrenia. (Other studies suggest the prevalence is as high as 6 percent.) Many borderline patients hurt themselves, and 10 percent die by suicide.

Yet as common and serious a problem as it is, Dr. Linehan said that patients often have difficulty getting the help they need — partly because therapists tend to regard borderline patients as manipulative and demanding of an inordinate amount of time and attention.

Ms. Porr, a social worker who specializes in helping families of borderline patients, said therapists with traditional analytic training often provide ineffective treatment, then experience feelings of failure and frustration. Psychotherapeutic drugs have not been effective in controlling the disorder. As a result, 70 percent of these patients drop out of traditional treatments, Ms. Porr said.

Ms. Porr tries to help families learn to handle the problem and not make it worse. She said in an interview that families need to understand why borderline patients act and react the way they do, then respond in ways that validate the patients’ feelings and help them regain and maintain emotional control.

Treatments That Can Help

Experts say that even suicidal patients are unlikely to benefit from the kind of extended hospitalization depicted in “Girl, Interrupted.” More often, a few days in the hospital should be followed by psychotherapy directed at helping them learn to live more effectively with their cognitive misinterpretations and emotional instability.

Dr. Linehan practices dialectical behavior therapy, the only therapy that has been demonstrated to be effective in a number of randomized clinical trials. She said two other approaches, called mentalization and Stepp, were also likely to be helpful.

Dialectical behavior therapy, a derivative of cognitive behavior therapy, helps patients identify thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that make their lives challenging and then learn different ways of thinking and reacting.

In effect, Dr. Linehan tells patients, “Your problem is that you don’t know how to regulate yourself, and I can teach you how.” She said thousands of therapists have been trained in dialectical behavior therapy, and many others practice it without special training.

But the value of the therapy can be thwarted if patients return to an environment that misunderstands them. Thus, Dr. Linehan said, it is important for others to recognize that people with borderline personality disorder are genuinely suffering. “They are in excruciating pain that is almost always discounted by others and attributed to bad motives,” she said.

The idea is “to validate the person’s emotional reactions, to say, ‘I understand how you feel,’ to pay attention, not to the situation, but to the emotion behind it,” Dr. Linehan said.

Alan E. Fruzzetti, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, said that families have to learn how to “soothe themselves, to realize that though the situation is awful, not to blame or be judgmental of the person but to see the person as also suffering.”

Reacting in a nonloving way magnifies the trauma tenfold, he said in an interview, adding: “You may have to leave a bad situation, but you must come back in a loving way, maybe say something like, ‘That blowout yesterday, I really want to understand your experience.’ ”

Therapists trained in dialectical behavior therapy can be located through the Web site www.behavioraltech.org.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Daily OM: Ocean Meditation

June 5, 2009
Waves of Healing

Like us, the sea is ever-changing. And, like us, the earth’s vast oceans appear at a distance to be stable and homogeneous. But beneath the mask of solidity that both we and the sea wear, there lies unpredictability, sensitivity, and power. There is much we can learn from the ocean, representative as it is of our inner landscapes. The rough sounds of the sea’s waves are spiritually soothing, and its salt can purify our physical selves. Yet not everyone has the luxury of living by the shore or even visiting the coastlines where water and land meet. The ocean, however, exists in our conscious minds, put there by images we have seen and descriptions we have read. Wherever we are, we can access that mental image and use it as the starting point from which we can help to heal our emotions by meditating on the sea.

To begin, gather together any ocean artifacts you may have on hand. Seashells, a vial of sand, beach glass, stones rubbed smooth by the pounding surf, or a recording of ocean sounds can help you slip more deeply into this meditation, but they are not necessary. Sit quietly and visualize the ocean in your mind’s eye. Allow all of your senses to participate in your mental journey. Feel the tiny grains of sand beneath your feet and the cool spray of mist; hear the sea’s rhythmic roar as the waves meet the beach and retreat; smell the tang of salt in the air. Watch the sun’s rays play over the ocean’s surface, creating shifting spots of teal, cerulean, cobalt, and green. Don’t be surprised if you see dolphins or whales frolicking in the waves—they are there to assist you. Spend a few minutes drinking in the ocean’s beauty and appreciating its vast splendor.

Once you are fully engaged with the setting before you, visualize yourself sitting on the beach, facing the ocean, and watching the waves advance and retreat. As each new wave of seawater approaches, imagine it carrying healing energy toward you. The magnificent ocean in your thoughts is sending you light and love while the sun supports your healing efforts and Mother Earth grounds you in the moment so healing can occur. When you feel you are finished, grant the ocean your earnest gratitude for the aid it has given you. Thank the sun, the sand, and any other elements of your visualization that offered you guidance. Perform this meditation daily or monthly in order to rid yourself of negativity and reestablish emotional equilibrium. Just as the ocean’s tides sweep the shores free of detritus, restoring balance, so can the waves in our mind’s eye cleanse our souls of what no longer serves us.

Marcia Kearl Johnson Daily Om, June 5, 2009 Facebook Delivery