Blog#69: From Gratitude to Inner Peace to World Peace

              Blog#69: From Gratitude to Inner Peace to World Peace

Some sentiments of the Thanksgiving to New Year’s Holiday Season, including gratitude and peace, become more attainable when we first find and use them in our individual lives. One could argue that world peace will not be attainable until most people find inner peace. It could also be argued that inner peace would not be possible without gratitude.

In our materialistic Western culture, we tend to be conditioned to always look for more that we would like to have, thus making us consumers who keep our country’s economy “healthy”. Never mind that we spend vast amounts of time and energy earning money, which we then spend on luxury items such as new wardrobes, iPhones, late model cars, and tickets to sports events. Never mind that when we are not able to obtain desired luxury items, we may feel angry, sad, insecure, or even depressed. These feelings are the opposite of gratitude or inner peace, and do nothing to contribute to world peace. In fact, they detract from it. Not that we should never long for or enjoy the beautiful, delicious, entertaining or inspiring; but why do so at the expense of time spent with loved ones or at the expense of our good health and longevity or our cultivated interests and talents?

 One way to develop a sense of true gratitude is to compile at the end of each day ten things for which we are really grateful, and then to give thanks for these things as we fall asleep that night. A list might consist of: 1.having the ability to talk, 2.having a car or other reliable form of transportation, 3.having a job or avocation, 4.having clothing which keeps us warm or dry, as the weather requires, 5.having watched a beautiful sunrise on our walk outside that morning, 6.having neighbors, friends, and/or family with whom to share our lives, 7.having just finished reading an interesting or inspiring book, 8.having cooked and consumed a satisfying meal that day, 9.having music or a musical instrument which we enjoy listening to or playing, 10.having just learned a new joke that made us laugh. That makes ten, and the list could go on and on. After doing this for several nights, we usually find that our sleep becomes sounder, we wake more rested, and we feel more appreciative in our lives. This leads, in turn to more feelings of inner peace.

 Eventually, feelings of inner peace tend to guide us toward interacting with others in more appreciative, considerate, and generous ways than we might do otherwise. We might find it more natural to listen to others’ differing viewpoints without feeling threatened or judgmental. We might discover new ways to manage or de-fuse conflict or stressful situations. We might find that we are wishing happiness, good health, gratitude and peace for increasingly larger portions of the world’s population. Which brings us to inner peace consciousness feeding world peace.

 And so I wish all of you a happy, healthy, loving, and peaceful holiday season. That is also this monthly blog’s offer. Plus, if I can be of help this holiday season, please let me know.

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Blog#68 Strength Balance and Breathing: Antidotes to Fear

For this Halloween, I have chosen to address the emotion of fear.  We can conquer or at least ameliorate this constricting emotion in a variety of ways.  Many people may not consider physical strength (especially strong legs) or good balance as means to help overcome fear; however, when you think about it, it makes sense.  With a strong body and good balance, we can run toward or away from something; we can climb, kick, jump, fight, and stand or walk for a long time.  We also have more capacity for of physical work.  With good balance, the body is lined up optimally, allowing each muscle to function at its best, minimizing stress on the bones and joints, and allowing the diaphragm to facilitate deep breathing and full oxygenation of the body.   This deep breathing allows heart, brain, and nervous system to function at their best, and helps us remain calm and think clearly.  This type of breathing also helps us detoxify our bodies efficiently and provides a massage for the internal organs, allowing them to function better.  Below is a link that explains and demonstrates abdominal breathing.

How to do abdominal (belly) breathing

 Regarding physical strength, I would recommend some regular physical exercise, something that you enjoy and will do daily, or at least several times per week.  Some excellent ways to improve your strength and balance are weight lifting and/or band work combined with aerobic exercise, Yoga, and even certain types of Tai Chi. If you do not have free weights or bands at home, or if you want to have some supervision regarding exercises of your choice, consider taking some Yoga or Tai Chi classes, or working with a personal trainer.  If you think this last option is too expensive, then you may not have heard of Planet Fitness, an unassuming, nation-wide health club where you can work with free weights or many types of exercise machines.  They also provide unlimited classes with a personal trainer as part of each membership.  These classes last 30 minutes and address different areas of the body, such as legs, arms, shoulders, back, abdomen, and chest.  There usually are no more than five people in a class, so you get plenty of individual attention. Membership prices start at $10.00 per month.

 Lastly, good posture facilitates abdominal breathing and allows our muscles a fuller range of motion, which in turn helps us to increase our physical strength.  Some physical trainers, chiropractors, physical therapists, yoga instructors, and massage therapists specialize in helping patients and clients improve their posture. 

 So take a step toward increasing confidence and courage and overcoming fear, and start improving strength, balance, breathing and posture today, in the season of Halloween, and before winter sets in. 

 This blog’s offer:  contact me for a free consultation regarding improved posture, balance, strength, and breathing.  This is a specialty in my practice, and I develop programs for each individual.  I also have a posture grid, which can demonstrate your yearly improvement.

 

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Blog#67: Posture Affects Body, Mind and Emotions

 I am writing this blog during the last days of September. October will soon be here. Since October is “Good Posture Month” I thought it would be appropriate to address posture. Most people have at least a vague idea of what good posture is. No slouching, hold your head up, shoulders back, spine straight…. well, actually, some people hold their shoulders back too rigidly, and that can cause tension in the body, but other than that, those few guidelines at least get us started on good posture. But there is much more. For instance, when seated, make sure your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle or greater and your feet are flat on the floor. This translates into never tucking your feet under the chair.   Sitting leaning over a laptop computer is poor posture, as is craning your neck to read the screen of a desktop. Sitting on a saggy, non-supportive couch is also problematic, as is falling asleep when seated in a chair with no headrest.

 I am living proof that the last situation can cause problems; sometimes when I have done this, my head subsequently lolled to the side, I heard a loud “pop” in my neck, and I suffered from neck soreness for days or even weeks afterward. Gentle massage or chiropractic adjusting, along with time, to let the injury heal, were helpful in my case. Most people realize that craning the neck forward or slouching forward over a laptop also can be harmful. What many people do not realize is that tucking the feet under a chair stresses the hips and the entire spine, including the neck. This seated posture results in unnecessary tension in the hips, back and neck and can result in spasm of the small paraspinal muscles, temporary impingement of some spinal nerves, especially when there are degenerative changes in the spine, and also can result in uneven circulation to the hips, back and neck.

 When we stand and sit straight, we tend to be more alert, since the nervous and circulatory systems are not impeded by our posture. Our internal organs also function better than they would if we slouch or otherwise exhibit poor posture. Internal organs that are especially affected by poor posture are the brain, thyroid, lungs, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, bladder, stomach, intestines, and the reproductive system. For example, sitting up straight allows our lungs to fill and expel more fully and allows our tissues to receive more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide and other waste products. A singer will have a louder, clearer voice and can even increase note range with improved posture.

 Others perceive us as more alert, intelligent, vital, and effectual when we have good posture. At a job interview, all other things being equal, the person with good posture will be hired over the person who slouches. And good posture also signals us to feel better about ourselves, since a more vitally functioning body usually results in a more objective, empowered outlook on things, as well as in more self-confidence. One step toward improved posture is becoming aware of our posture more and more often, and correcting mistakes until improved posture becomes automatic.

 This week’s offer: chiropractic, acupuncture, and appropriate exercise can help improve posture, increase energy level, and enhance a sense of well being. Feel free to call me about a free consultation regarding improving your posture and which approaches might help you.

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Blog #66: The Happiness – Health Link

In addition to getting enough sleep, leaving abusive relationships, eating high quality food, protecting yourself from temperature and climate extremes, receiving help when you have suffered an injury or accident, staying out of jail, moving or exercising as much as is appropriate for you, and other self-care activities, it is helpful to maintain a happy outlook on life to stay healthy.  

According to many scientific studies and also according to “Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness”, published by Harvard University Hospital, positive attitudes and emotions are linked with good health and longevity.  Maintaining a positive outlook can be challenging, since it involves not allowing emotions to fluctuate based on situations such as relationships, work, politics, the stock market, or the weather.  Instead, one must intentionally decide to have a positive attitude in life and do things to support those emotions and attitudes. 

One way to support your happiness involves seeking out enjoyable experiences, i.e. going for a walk in the park, cooking a favorite dish, or reading inspirational literature.  Another way is to pursue activities that are fully engaging and satisfying. These activities will vary from person to person; a common denominator is that when engaged in these activities, you will lose track of time, will forget about worries, aches and pains, and will feel like you are “in the flow.”  A third way to cultivate positive attitudes and emotions is to do things that you feel are good and worthwhile.  What is good and worthwhile can vary greatly, but some examples are volunteer work for the environment or helping those less fortunate. 

Of course, it helps to be healthy in the first place – that will help you feel happier, but just as it is possible to love and work intentionally, it is also possible to choose to be happy. 

This blog’s offer:  contact me if you want some ideas about positive activities or volunteer opportunities. Also, it looks like our Nature Writing Group will be going out for a half-day hike along the Skokie River Trail in mid-September.  Included along this trail are swathes of undisturbed, centuries-old prairie.  Come join us or go on your own. 

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Blog #65: Changing Anger Into Energy

   The divisive political climate in this country is resulting in broken friendships and stressful family gatherings. Each side thinks they are right and that the ideas of the other side are wrong. People with opposing perspectives are ridiculed or demonized. Anger abounds. Long-held anger can deplete energy and harm health.

Anger is an emotion with a lot of underlying energy. In contrast, fear needs almost no supporting energy – we can be depleted and still feel fear, but we must have energy reserves to feel a jolt of anger. Learning to constructively express or transform anger can allow access to the underlying energy, which can be used to improve our health and accomplish more of what we want in life.

Once anger arrives, the body tenses, preparing for a possible argument or fight. The heart races and blood travels to the extremities rather than nourishing the entire body. The gall bladder, a small, sack-like organ located on the underside of the liver, receives and distributes bile and other substances secreted by the liver. The gall bladder tends to contract intermittently with anger, and this can impede the flow of bile and other substances secreted by the liver, thus interfering with the digestion of fat, and causing abdominal or chest pain or sometimes acid reflux.

Since the liver holds more blood than any other internal organ, when we hold on to anger, blood circulation is impeded. Sometimes we feel conflicted and guilty about thoughts and feelings set off by anger. Guilt sets up an internal struggle, which further tenses the muscles and often blocks the flow of blood and energy, both in the liver and throughout the body. We may feel tired, and eventually become depressed. Breathing is often impacted and the body no longer receives as much oxygen as it needs for clear thinking and optimal health. Insomnia may develop or worsen. If anger is stored in the body, rather than expressed or transformed, the adrenal glands produce cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones, and eventually may become depleted. These developments can impact the immune system, leading to respiratory infections and other, more serious ailments.

From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver is associated with anger and rage, which are stored in the liver. A clogged, poorly functioning liver and gallbladder give rise to more anger than do healthy organs. The liver, already burdened by anger which it is storing, also has to break down and rid the body of the stress hormones secreted in response to anger and the accompanying emotions and situations which may arise. This can become a vicious circle.

Solutions to this problem are many: improved nutrition can help the liver and gall bladder become healthier. Avoiding stressful situations and relationships, at least for a while, can help the body and mind heal. Gentle stretching exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, walking outside in nature, making sure to breathe deeply, from the diaphragm, and maintaining good posture while seated, standing and walking all can help the liver and gall bladder become healthier. Gentle massage, chiropractic adjusting, acupuncture from a skilled practitioner, and sometimes light weight lifting can be helpful. Taking time at least once a day to sit quietly can help, as can trying to see things from the perspective of someone with whom we are angry. When facing an “opponent”, we may not be able to express emotions intelligibly and constructively. In this case, it might be helpful to channel the anger into some physical activity, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, taking a long walk or working out at the health club. After the anger is used up, we will usually find it easier to communicate and negotiate. Following these suggestions can help tap into the underlying energy that supports and constricts anger, and can result in a higher energy level, better health, and a happier life.

This blog’s offer: come in for a free consultation to see if one or more of the above approaches may help you gain more peace of mind, more energy, and better health.

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Blog#64 Anxiety: An Emotion of Our Times

                      Blog#64: Anxiety – An Emotion of Our Times

The next seven blogs will address emotions, how they relate to our world situation today, and how to help balance them. By addressing emotions constructively, we not only improve our state of mind, we also improve our physical well-being, since emotional excesses and imbalances can help precipitate problems like insomnia, muscle spasm, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, ulcers, substance abuse, and can even suppress the immune system, resulting in an increased susceptibility to colds, flu, and possibly more serious ailments.

In the past six months or so, my colleagues and I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety. This is especially true of those in their teens and early twenties. Some people come to address physical complaints, but sometimes anxiety must be addressed along with the physical complaint for lasting improvement.

Much of the increased anxiety I have observed may be due to the current political climate and the increasing uncertainty about what is true and what is fabricated. Increasing conflict and division within our country helps foster this anxiety. In the state of Illinois, we face many uncertainties, such as our state budget impasse. For many people, the financial future is not as certain as it once was.

 As parties and politicians war with one another and the country splits into more competing factions, these patterns impress themselves upon the conscious and unconscious minds of our population, especially our youth. Internalization of this divisiveness can result in anxiety, both for the world’s future and for our everyday existence. Overcoming differences and working for the common good may seem like a pipe dream in this increasingly divided country, but it is vital for the health and happiness of the individual and the nation.

 There are many things we can do in our daily lives to address and alleviate anxiety. Improving our nutrition can help, since a healthy diet and nutritional supplements, if appropriate, can help the nervous system function better when under stress. Good nutrition, including sufficient B complex vitamins will help support the adrenal glands. And the better our nutrition, the more clearly we will be able to think. Getting regular exercise, whether this is walking, yoga, working out at the gym, or doing demanding housework, house repairs and/or gardening, will help keep the mind clear and the body healthier. Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles and bones, balance the blood sugar, keep the heart strong, and oxygenize all the tissues. Getting sufficient sleep and rest can help keep the mind clear and the immune and endocrine systems functioning normally.

 Certain ways of thinking and approaching problems and challenges can help us stay calmer. For example, when facing a problem, it can help when we take a moment to relax physically and mentally, and then look at each aspect the problem and envision ways to improve or fix that aspect. For example, the upstairs neighbors’ kids play music loudly and jump up and down early every morning. What to do? It will not help to get upset, nor will it help to bang on the ceiling with a broomstick. Instead look for attitudes or actions that can solve the problem in a conflict-free way. Earplugs might be in order. Self-hypnosis can help us learn to experience the racket upstairs as a signal to relax more deeply into sleep or as a signal to make us happy because the children upstairs are vital and active. A visit upstairs might be appropriate, maybe with some fresh-baked bread or an invitation to the family to share a light dinner or to look at some photographs taken on a recent vacation. During these interactions we also could mention how we like to sleep in on Sunday and Saturday mornings. It is important to have no expectations of a change in the upstairs neighbors behavior. Just build good will and then gradually, more and more often the kids might be quieter on the weekends.

 Taking care of oneself holistically and approaching problems in a conflict-free way can help disperse anxiety and build a foundation of calm. When appropriate, structural alignment, acupuncture therapy and flower essence therapy are other modalities that can help reduce anxiety by balancing the body, reducing or eliminating pain, balancing the energy system, and calming and harmonizing the emotions.

 This blog’s offer: consider coming in for chiropractic, acupuncture, or flower essence therapy, if you feel they are appropriate for you.   Or come in for a few sessions of self-hypnosis and then apply the methods you learn in your daily life to alleviate anxiety, increase calm and confidence, become healthier, sleep better, or whatever else you might want.

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Blog#63: Using Energy Medicine for a Better Life

During 37 years in practice, the type of diagnostics with which I have been most impressed is Applied Kinesiology, an energetic approach using muscle testing. Although muscle testing can be intuitive, it also is based on scientific principles. Several major universities in the U.S. now offer master’s programs in Applied Kinesiology, which is a central diagnostic tool in Functional Medicine, a relatively new, increasingly popular holistic approach used by a variety of health care providers in the U.S, Europe, and Asia. Lab work, x-rays, MRI imaging and other forms of conventional diagnostic tools remain valuable guides to help improve health and well-being.

This blog will introduce the use of Applied Kinesiology (AK). It can take several years of regular practice to master this tool. AK can be extremely complex; much research and experimentation may be necessary to develop an effective system to assess specific health issues. Since this is a simple and short monthly blog, and not a book, I will present some basic AK principles and also a simple muscle test that you can practice.

When we are exposed to thoughts, chemicals, invisible energies, such as radiation, or to various climates or habitats, we may respond by becoming stronger or weaker. Any chemical element can be toxic in large enough quantities, but even in tiny amounts, arsenic can be harmful, while many of us need more potassium calcium in our diets. Negative versus positive thoughts affect us differently (try lifting weights while thinking “yes” and then lifting the same weights while thinking “no”), as do moderate versus extreme temperatures. Asian Medicine deals with invisible energies, such as Wei Qi (protective energy of a strong immune system) and external wind (it often enters through the back of the neck and frequently makes one ill). Another invisible energy is radiation, which can be in the form of sound waves, light waves, heat waves, and also the potentially disruptive energies emitted by power lines, computers, cell phones, Wi-Fi, refrigerators, microwave ovens, baby monitors, and other electronic appliances.

One simple way to learn how invisible energies affect us is by using Applied Kinesiology. Working with this method is best done when well rested, calm and centered, hydrated, and otherwise in balance (ie, make sure you don’t have to use the bathroom and have not had your consciousness altered by alcohol or recreational drugs). When you are first learning, it is also best to be alone, or else with someone who is supportive of what you are doing with AK.

Now, keeping your spine straight, if at all possible (you can be seated, standing, or lying supine) touch your thumb and fifth fingertip together. If you are right-handed, it is usually best to use your left hand, and if you are left-handed, to use your right. First think of something that is absolutely true, there’s no way it can be false, and test the strength of the contact. Then think of something that is absolutely false, there is no way it can be true, and test for that thought. Test the strength by placing the thumb and index fingers of one hand inside the circle made by thumb and fifth finger of the other hand. Work as hard as you can to maintain the circle while also trying to separate the circle with the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Do you feel a difference? It may take practice. You could move on to placing various foods underneath your tongue (to begin with, start only with foods that taste reasonably good). Eventually, you might use muscle testing to ascertain how you respond to electronic appliances, computers, or cell phones.

As time goes on and you gain more skill, you may learn things that make you want to improve your diet, think more positive thoughts, or keep your cell phone turned off most of the time. Enjoy!

This month’s offer: If you want me to help you assess your sensitivity to certain supplements, foods, or other things, contact me and I will do so for a small fee. Also, if you would like to reduce the harmful effects that electromagnetic fields may have on you and your loved ones (children may be especially vulnerable), then call me and I will give you some suggestions free of charge.

NOTE:  As of June 3rd, my office will be at a new address:

6033 North Sheridan Road, CW04S-05, Chicago, IL 60660. I expect the phone number to remain the same.

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