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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living News’

Good News: You Are Not Your Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Director, Genetics and Aging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Like a personal computer, science needs a recycle bin for ideas that didn’t work out as planned. In this bin would go commuter trains riding on frictionless rails using superconductivity, along with interferon, the last AIDS vaccine, and most genetic therapies. These failed promises have two things in common: They looked like the wave of the future but then reality proved too complex to fit the simple model that was being offered.

The next thing to go into the recycle bin might be the brain. We are living in a golden age of brain research, thanks largely to vast improvements in brain scans. Now that functional MRIs can give snapshots of the brain in real time, researchers can see specific areas of the brain light up, indicating increased activity. On the other hand, dark spots in the brain indicate minimal activity or none at all. Thus, we arrive at those familiar maps that compare a normal brain with one that has deviated from the norm. This is obviously a great boon where disease is concerned. Doctors can see precisely where epilepsy or Parkinsonism or a brain tumor has created damage, and with this knowledge new drugs and more precise surgery can target the problem.

But then overreach crept in. We are shown brain scans of repeat felons with pointers to the defective areas of their brains. The same holds for Buddhist monks, only in their case, brain activity is heightened and improved, especially in the prefrontal lobes associated with compassion. By now there is no condition, good or bad, that hasn’t been linked to a brain pattern that either “proves” that there is a link between the brain and a certain behavior or exhibits the “cause” of a certain trait. The whole assumption, shared by 99 percent of neuroscientists, is that we are our brains.

In this scheme, the brain is in charge, having evolved to control certain fixed behaviors. Why do men see other men as rivals for a desirable woman? Why do people seek God? Why does snacking in front of the TV become a habit? We are flooded with articles and books reinforcing the same assumption: The brain is using you, not the other way around. Yet it’s clear that a faulty premise is leading to gross overreach. Read the rest of this entry »

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Did God Discover the God Particle?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 30, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

The possible discovery of the Higgs boson would not have been splashed across every major media if the tag “God particle” weren’t attached to it. Physicists hate the term, but they love the publicity. There are huge government grants at stake as well as the prestige of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. After you read the headline, however, there’s little doubt that a general reader cannot actually grasp what a Higgs boson is (or a large hadron accelerator, either).

If you watch enough PBS programs and listen to a few physicists, some clarity emerges that a non-physicist can understand. The Higgs boson discovery adds validation to a mathematical model of force fields in the universe. It attaches a real particle to an expectation, the expectation that buried inside force fields was the key to why subatomic particles have mass. Mass would be acquired as a particle meets with resistance when it moves through the vacuum of space, a kind of “molasses” that slows it down.

This molasses is very elusive. It took many billions of colliding protons in the huge CERN accelerator, backed up by 100,000 computers around the world, to analyze the data before the discovery seemed real. Even then, most physicists are guarded about whether this new particle actually is a Higgs boson. They are equally guarded about whether its properties will uphold the Standard Model of force fields or in fact create more problems. Read the rest of this entry »

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We Are All Meditators (Or at Least We Should Be)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 29, 2012

By Deepak Chopra

Today is a special day. Almost 30 years ago to the day, I formally learned to meditate in Cambridge, Mass. I had tried meditation before growing up in India, been preached its many benefits by my dutiful mother, even studied some of the early scientific research around it in medical school, but it wasn’t until years later when I was stressed-out physician, often abusing alcohol and cigarettes, that on a recommendation from a friend I turned to meditation as a tool for reducing my stress load.

My life has never been the same. And so today in many ways is a celebration of my discovery of meditation. And here are the three things I am doing in observance of that celebration:

1. The Chopra Center, which I founded over 15 years ago, is launching the 21-Day Meditation Challenge, which invites you to participate along with me in a free daily meditation program. The challenge will make meditation a part of your daily routine, and may be the fastest way to reap the many physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual benefits of its practice. For both beginners and longtime practitioners of meditation, the challenge promises to deepen your experience, expose you to different types of meditation, and open you to a community of others who share your interest in meditation.

2. “The Meditator” — a playful, guided daily meditation launches on my new YouTube Channel, The Chopra Well. Every day, “The Meditator” will enable you to join along for a short guided meditation situated somewhere in the world. The show is meant to be a primer, offering those who have never meditated before a very easy way into the practice, and those that already are experienced meditators a fun way to share meditation with their friends. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Respect Key to Creating Greatness?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2012

By Peter Baksa, Investigative Journalist/Entreprenuer/Author of ‘The Point of Power’

Wise actions flow naturally from the right principles. When respect directs our daily choices, all our interactions are in harmony with our greater good. Respect for ourselves, one another, and for life itself should be at our core lighting the path for us. Knowing this basic principle, wise actions and words flow naturally. Founders of the Myers-Briggs personality test suggest that no matter how much people differ in background or temperament, three basic qualities underlie any enduring relationship, and they are: understanding, appreciation, and respect. Buddhism teaches compassion for all living things, Confucianism upholds jen, “human heartedness,” respect for others as a foundation of all virtue.

Living respectfully is an essential leadership principle. I posit that respect is the key to personal power. Our real power as humans comes when we can relate to others from our hearts rather than from our brains. Our energies contract when we concentrate on ourselves and the way we look. (See my book, It’s None of My Business What You Think of Me.) Instead of self-consciously posing or performing, I suggest that one takes a “host” mentality, focusing on how to serve others. Instead of talking — listen, observe, and seek the spark of greatness in the person you are with. We inspire others by making that spark come alive.

We are flooded in the media with the stereotyped hero, often violent, flashy, tough, emotionally repressed and ultimately unreal. Real strength is strength of character. Real heroes combine courage and compassion living respectfully and transcending difficulty to create new possibilities, like bamboo, flexible yet strong. How can we be more gentle and kind — now this is true strength and the mark of a true hero. Read the rest of this entry »

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Soul-Talk: Are You Self-Actualizing or Just Self-Conceptualizing?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 12, 2012

By Russel Bishop, Author, Consultant and Executive Coach

Do you find yourself struggling from time to time, trying to reconcile your self-image with the reactions and opinions of others? Do you let the approval of others interfere with you becoming more of who you truly are? Do you struggle with trying to defend, explain or justify your choices when others disapprove? I know I have bumped up against these challenges throughout my life. As much as I have grown over the years, this struggle continues to plague me even today. I guess the old adage from Richard Bach is completely true in my case: “We most teach what we need to learn.”

For many, myself included, the challenge lies in the difference between self-actualizing and self-conceptualizing. Your self-concepts may be perfectly aligned with who you truly are, or they may be nothing more than, well, concepts.

The Approval Trap

Do you ever pretend to be independent of the opinions others hold of you? I know that I often find myself in that trap these days. Some part of me still desires to please other people beyond reason, while a deeper part of me, my Soul-Talk, encourages me to stand in the integrity of who I am, of what I perceive, and of what I know.

That can be difficult when being, perception and knowledge run afoul of those to whom I am given approval authority over my own experience. When I am in deeper levels of alignment with my own soul, I can recognize the contradictory, even conflicting opinions others may hold about or toward me and remain loving, caring and in a state of acceptance. In one way of looking at this, when I am centered in my soul, it’s easy to allow others to disagree without needing to become defensive or critical. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can We Consistently Redirect Conflict to Our Favor?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 12, 2012

By Peter Baksa, Investigative Journalist/Entreprenuer/Author of ‘The Point of Power’

Lead with the Tau and negativity has no power. The energy is not repressed but redirected so that it does not harm. — Lau Tzu, Tau 60.

Physics and Eastern theology converge in one important insight: that all creation is comprised of dynamic energy patterns. Everything, including our bodies, our emotional responses and our physical movements, is energy. Through this knowledge we can redirect anger, hostility or any other type of negative energy. If we recognize when we are experiencing anxiety, it allows for an affirmative defense. We can pivot our thinking and thereby alter the reality of the current life situation. If you are aware of your trigger points you are less likely to act them out.

I was introduced to this lovely girl in Chicago; most would consider her a 10 physically and mentally. We had endless conversations on the phone and had so much in common. We were both finally in the same city and were able to have dinner at my favorite Chicago restaurant. Dinner went well, and the chemistry was obvious, and so date two was set up. Same experience. I was excited — someone who loves my writing and enjoys discussing like-minded topics endlessly. This could be the one, I thought. Then a few dates down the road, I noticed her energy would change. She would get defensive, and this turned into aggressive, critical words. She would then break things off.

The first time I was left bewildered. She had responded to something said but the gravity of the conversation was so lighthearted and superficial that it did not match up with her response. I took the lower position, centered myself, and accepted full responsibility, apologizing profusely. Within 24 hours we were back in the saddle again, enjoying amazing conversations, holding hands as we gazed into each other’s eyes. This “break it off pattern” happened three more times in the next few dates. I realized that this young lady was not reacting to me; she was reacting to trigger points that were being touched, resulting in what I would term the “let me end this before you do” response. I believe in academic circles this might be referred to as fight or flight. She chose fight first and flight moments later. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who or What Is God?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 26, 2012

By Peter Baksa, Investigative Journalist/Entreprenuer/Author of ‘The Point of Power’

“The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion, as well as, all serious endeavour. He who never had this experience, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced, there is a something that the mind cannot grasp; whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly; this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.” — Albert Einstein

The laws of physics have conspired to make collisions of atoms produce plants, trees, animals and humans. In fact, these laws produced collections of atoms that don’t just obey Newton’s laws in a passive way. Some jump, mate, run and think. The laws of physics, working through Darwin’s natural selection, have produced these gigantic collections of apparently purposeful beings who look as though they have been designed. Once Darwin determined how to get complicated, designed beings from the simplest of forms, he gave us an intellectual foothold to begin to see a process that we refer to as evolution. We know since 1859 how this all happens.

Math and science use principle-centered, complex frameworks to describe and understand phenomena on all scales of time and space. Reality, on the other hand, operates at all intervals simultaneously. Our existence, as we see it, is an illusion.

“We are spirit having human experiences not the other way around.”

A starving child, longing for food, has no clock to measure the movement of the sun and the earth around their shared center of mass. Looking down from my high-rise in Chicago I often look over the hundreds of people mulling about on the beach, each existing from a particular point, their own universe if you will. A fly’s eyes have hundreds of different facets. It is able to detect the briefest flickers of movement, perceiving reality under a completely different guise than we humans.The mind of an Alzheimer’s patient cannot use the human construct of time. For such a person, the chronology of existence is broken, living without the element of time or memory to assist in formulating their reality. Time is an illusion, as is space. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Things to Give Up to Be Happy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 18, 2012

By Amy Chan, Relationship & lifestyle columnist, Writer for amyfabulous.com

When we think about how to create more happiness, we typically look for things to achieve and add to our lives. However, sometimes the key to happiness is actually giving up certain perspectives and behaviors. Here are a few things to give up in order to become happier individuals.

Give up the habit of blaming. Blame is a scapegoat for taking responsibility of your own outcome. It is a lot easier to point the finger at someone or something else instead of looking within. Blame is not constructive. It does not help you or the other person — nobody wins in the blame game. The amount of energy and stress it takes to blame just takes away from you moving forward and finding a solution.

Give up your need to impress. When you accept who you are, and you embrace your quirks, flaws, strengths and vulnerability, you get a lot more comfortable in your own skin. And when you’re confident, you stop caring so much about what everyone thinks of you. You stop worrying if someone will like you or not, because deep down you know that the people who falsely judge you don’t matter in your life.

Give up being a victim. The perspective that you are just the result of all external variables deflects responsibility for taking control over your own life. It is unfortunate that sometimes bad things happen to the best of people. Life can be unfair, unkind and unjust. However, being stuck in a victim mentality does not nurture your ability to move forward and onward. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Your Brain Fall in Love?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 10, 2012

By Deepak Chopra

This post is co-authored by Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Director, Genetics and Aging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

The human brain is an exquisitely sensitive instrument. It registers the slightest nuance of any experience you have ever had. This is no more evident than in love. Imagine someone whispering, “I love you.” In romantic terms these are desirable words — probably the most desirable any of us will ever hear. The brain responds to “I love you” with an orchestration of positive reactions. People who are in love feel less stressed; their blood pressure goes down. When a couple who enjoys a long-term loving marriage hold hands, even their response to physical pain is strengthened.

These points and others in the same vein were detailed in a recent New York Times opinion piececalled “The Brain on Love” by writer-poet Diane Ackerman. We found it an empathic article, one that celebrates human bonding from the first moment a newborn baby imprints on its mother. Bonding takes place via complex brain mechanisms that follow us throughout our lives. The sense of oneness that characterizes a strong mother-child relationship morphs over time. It persists among happily married adults and gives such pleasure, as well as a sense of security, that our brains seek “at-one-ness” the way an addict seeks cocaine. Ackerman is quick to point out that love isn’t exactly the same as cocaine use, but her argument involves the same receptors for morphine-like chemicals in the brain as well as an impressive description of hormonal responses and other neurological particulars.

Yet the basic premise of the article is problematic. She doesn’t crudely claim that your brain is in love and therefore you are, too. (We suppose that’s why the article is titled “The Brain on Love” rather than “The Brain in Love.”) But at bottom it’s still the standard materialist argument, bolstered by tons of data from neuroimaging, which fails to separate brain from mind. When a person experiences love, the brain registers and expresses that experience through electrical and chemical reactions, the way a radio playing music registers and plays every note that Mozart wrote. But the brain isn’t in love any more than the radio is enjoying music. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Personal Mission: Define Your Wellness (Part 2)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 31, 2012

   

By Deepak Chopra, Author, ‘War of the Worldviews’; Founder, The Chopra Foundation

 Step 6: Realistically Plan for Setbacks

No one walks a straight line on the journey to wellness. Most studies of lapses in fitness, nutrition and recovery programs show that you can get back on track more easily if you have scripted the way you will recover. It’s also known that those who are successful in breaking highly addictive habits, such as chain smoking, tried and failed any number of times before finally succeeding. So persistence counts, and so does avoiding the familiar excuse of “I’ve tried everything.” The answer is to go back and try everything again.

In planning for setbacks in a realistic frame of mind, the Mayo Clinic recommends taking these steps:

  • Take charge. Accept responsibility for your own behavior.
  • Buy time. If you’re tempted to keep indulging, wait a few minutes and see if the desire passes. Try distracting yourself — call a friend or take the dog for a walk.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Practice self-forgiveness. Try not to think of your slip-up as a catastrophe.
  • Ask for and accept help. Asking for help is a sign of good judgment, not weakness.
  • Work out your guilt and frustration with exercise. Use it to elevate your mood and recommit to your goals — never use it as punishment for a lapse.
  • Problem-solve as you go. Identify the problem and create a list of possible solutions. If you try one that doesn’t work, try the next solution.
  • Recommit to your goals — review your goals and make certain that they are still realistic.

Step 7: Reaching Your Goal

Reaching a wellness goal, once it has happened, is a big deal. Make sure you mark it accordingly. If you have given up smoking for a long period of time, treat yourself to new shoes or a great book. If you’ve lost weight, buy yourself a new outfit. You deserve to be rewarded, while making sure that you don’t rationalize going on a credit card binge or eating a huge meal as some kind of false reward. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Use and Misuse of Gratitude

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 22, 2012


Without being able to bring more and more misusers into users it could be very hard to make the world wonderful.

By Deepak Chopra

Once a self-help term becomes shopworn, it needs to be refreshed. I think this is true of terms like faith, compassion, unconditional love and gratitude. Let me address the last one. How is gratitude a useful expression of spirituality? No one argues that it makes others feel good if you are grateful, but is that useful to their personal growth and yours? Many people find it much easier to give than to receive, for example, which makes it hard for them to feel grateful when they are on the receiving end of a gift, favor, appreciation or love. They look embarrassed and uncomfortable instead.

Until we get to the bottom of why gratitude is so hard, we cannot really understand what gratitude actually is. A few points need to be made.

  1. You are genuinely grateful when your ego gets out of the way.
  2. Real gratitude isn’t passing and temporary.
  3. Gratitude takes openness and the willingness to set your ego aside.
  4. No one is grateful for things they think they deserve. Therefore, gratitude is unearned, like grace.
  5. When it is deeply felt, gratitude applies to everything, not simply to goodies that come your way.

These points focus on gratitude as a state where “I, me and mine” has been set aside. In a grateful state you are vulnerable, as the ego sees it. In reality, this feeling of openness must exist in order to receive grace, love, beauty and inspiration. More than one painter and composer has thanked God formally, knowing that there is a higher source — something beyond the isolated individual — that brings inspiration. There is a spiritual reason for such a sense of receiving from “on high,” and it doesn’t need to involve God or religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Finding Success Together

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 14, 2012

By Loren Ridinger

As much as we may not want to admit it, finding a balance between work, family and daily commitments can often be an uphill climb. For JR and myself, building a very successful business together has certainly had its ups and downs (more ups of course), but ultimately it means we often have to make a conscious effort to put work aside and focus on our marriage and family. For most of us, life just has a funny way of sneaking up — we get so busy with our careers and even busier managing multiple commitments, that making time for our relationship always seems last.

Over the years, JR and I have worked incredibly hard to build a successful business — after all, Market America and SHOP.COM were not born overnight, and most likely the same is true for you. Starting with nothing but a big dream, we worked together to turn that dream into a thriving enterprise. Working together and living together means, well, a lot of time together, and it isn’t always easy.

Growing together in business and personal life isn’t for the faint of heart, it takes some work, but when you have the love and support you need, you can both find success independently or together. Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can find a work/life balance that will help make your dreams a reality. Grow personally and professionally together with these six tips I have picked up over the years:

1. Always remember that you are a team. Whether you and your spouse work together in business or have independent careers, keep in mind that finding success is not a competition. When you love someone, his or her personal achievements are thrilling for you too — share in that excitement! Your ability to operate as a team is critical for working together to make day-to-day schedules work, to ultimately enjoy free time as a family. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seeking the Self: A Ghost Story

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 9, 2012

By Deepak Chopra

We are all quite certain that we have a self. When you say “I like chocolate” or “I vote progressive,” no one asks what you mean by “I.” That task was left for centuries to philosophers and theologians. “Know thyself” is an axiom worth heeding, but what is there to know? If one camp of modern science has its way, the answer is “nothing.” The self, we are told, is an illusion created by the complexity of brain functions. As thousands of inputs bombard each other every second, forming an almost infinite tangle of neural messages, a ghost was created whose name is “I.”

Thus, in one stroke the problem that has intrigued humanity’s greatest minds — “Who am I?” — is reduced to a mirage or fairy tale. The search for the self has proved fruitless when brain scans are consulted. There is no known location for “I” in the brain, and this lack leads one of two ways: Either the self is pervasive or it doesn’t exist. Claiming that “I” is an illusion would seem like a cheap way to shrug off a very difficult problem. Yet there is some backing for this position in the Buddhist concept of “emptiness,” which holds that all transitory events, including all of our personal experiences, are fabricated by the ego-personality. If we give up our cherished clinging to “I, me, and mine,” freedom lies in the realization that there is no fixed self, no fixed mind, not even such a thing as consciousness.

Yet when they combine their efforts, Buddhism and neuroscience can’t convince the ordinary person that “I” is a ghost, and there’s another tradition that considers the self the richest part of who we are, the source of unlimited potential for creativity, intelligence and evolution. In short, there’s a contest between the higher self and no self. Until a small band of scientific skeptics and atheists stepped forward, waving the banner of absolute materialism, the no-self camp was decidedly in the minority. But materialists see an advantage in denying that “I” exists. For them, it isn’t an exotic minority position with little bearing on daily life. No-self falls in with a larger notion that consciousness is just a byproduct of chemical reactions in the brain. Read the rest of this entry »

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A New Era for the Brain — Guiding Your Own Evolution

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 1, 2012

 

One of the great abilities of the human brain is to boost itself into a higher function. No one can explain how this happens. By the time early humans discovered fire and simple tools like the wheel and lever, our brains were already the most complex structure in the universe. We then proceeded to use this structure in unprecedented ways. Somewhere in our DNA was the potential for higher mathematics, for example, even though Homo sapiens existed for 200,000 years without tapping that capacity.

The reason that we are able to accomplish huge, never-ending leaps needs to be solved. If it can, then a new era will open up for the brain. The key is not materialistic, to my mind. One needs to begin, in fact, by turning away from the brain, whose intricate workings have mesmerized researchers for three decades, ever since the development of feasible brain scans. Such advances are fascinating, but we run the risk of sitting around a radio as it plays Mozart, staring at how the transistors work while imagining that we are uncovering the secrets of music.

Once you stop staring at the brain and start exploring the music it plays — i.e., the richness of human thoughts, feelings, images and sensations — a simple truth emerges. There is something more complex in the cosmos than the human brain: the process that makes the brain work. This process involves consciousness. It is our mind that is using the brain, not the other way around. (I would argue that the brain is a creation of the mind, a physical projection of consciousness. But that argument can be set aside for another day.) If we could understand the process that underlies the entire brain, instead of focusing in reductionist fashion on bits and pieces of brain function, doors would suddenly be flung open. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Personal Mission: Define Your Wellness

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 25, 2012

 

By Deepak Chopra

A basic outline for prevention has existed for more than 30 years, but wellness has had a hard time making real headway. Old habits are hard to break. Our society has a magic bullet fixation, waiting for the next miracle drug to cure us of every ill. Doctors receive no economic benefit from pushing prevention over drugs and surgery. For all these reasons, compliance with prevention falls far below what is needed for maximum wellness.

Rather than feeling gloomy, my focus has been on getting the individual to take charge of their own wellness. This can be a considerable challenge, since we are each unique in our bodies but also unique in our pattern of bad habits and poor lifestyle choices. More than 40 percent of American adults make a resolution to live a better life each year, and fewer than half keep their promise to themselves for longer than six months. Conditioning is hard to break, but the key is that the power to break a habit belongs to the same person who made it — the turnaround amounts to giving up unconscious behavior and adopting conscious new patterns.

Once your mind begins to pay attention, your brain can build new neural pathways to reinforce what you learn. Much is made of the brain’s ability to change and adapt — the general term is neuroplasticity — but I think science has been slow to catch up with wise experience. It has always been true that applying awareness in any form, through such things as resolve, discipline, good intentions, and mindfulness, has the power to create change. The practical dilemma is how to use your strengths and motivation to help yourself remain committed to wellness as a lifetime pattern. Read the rest of this entry »

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