LMC Blog Archives

Laura Mann Center and the University of Vermont Partnership

We are excited to share that the Laura Mann Center for Integrative Health has formally merged with UVM. In April 2015 The Laura Mann Center, the University Of Vermont College Of Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Medicine and the University Of Vermont Medical Center have agreed to create a comprehensive Institute for Health and Healing at the University of Vermont.

The Laura Mann Center will become a permanent unit within the Institute for Health and Healing. Bringing the Center’s extensive provider network and wealth of educational offerings under the Institute umbrella including our endowed Laura Mann Integrative Health Lecture series. This will further ensure that all patients in the community receive the broadest possible access to integrative health resources – and that those resources are coordinated with the patient’s traditional services.

The objectives of the proposed Institute for Health and Healing are to:

  • Create an educational knowledge base of cost-effective treatments for different conditions using integrative medicine and holistic healing methods for practitioners and the community
  • Engage experienced, forward-thinking integrative medicine practitioners and patients to deepen the reach and effectiveness of comprehensive integrative healthcare

To achieve its objectives, the Institute will engage in the following activities:

  • A clinical service arm that will emphasize optimizing patient satisfaction and quality of life scores
  • The Laura Mann Integrative Health Lecture Series, bringing in well-known leaders who are successfully implementing integrative health programs
  • A certificate program in Integrative Health for students, faculty and community members
  • A professional peer-to-peer forum for community providers
  • The Integrative Health Week to expose students to evidence-based integrative modalities
  • A research arm that will investigate the impact of integrative health approaches on the health and wellbeing of our patients measured both qualitatively and quantitatively,
  • The Laura Mann online network of providers

Integrative and Patient Centered Care:  Healthcare Improvement or True Transformation?

Dr. Gaudet will describe alarming trends in the health status of the US population and examine systemic problems facing our current health care delivery system. She contends that conventional healthcare today places too much emphasis on disease-management with insufficient attention paid to promoting health and wellbeing. Dr. Gaudet offers potential strategies to address these dilemmas, specifically focusing on the unique role that integrative approaches can serve in transforming health care. Dr. Gaudet’s patient centered perspective brings a fresh viewpoint with creative innovations. Her ideas and recommendations provide unique solutions to the healthcare crisis that should be seriously considered by every student, practitioner, educator and patient.

Tracy Williams Gaudet, MD, is the Executive Director of the Veterans Health Administration National Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation based in Washington, DC.  Dr. Gaudet was most recently the Executive Director of Duke Integrative Medicine. Prior to her work at Duke, Dr. Gaudet was the founding Executive Director of the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine and co-founded The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.  Dr. Gaudet is internationally known as an expert in transforming health care from a traditional disease-based model to a new model of care for the 21st century based on patient centered health care. She was recognized as one of the “Top 25 Women in Healthcare 2011” by Modern Healthcare.

The Laura Mann Integrative Healthcare Lecture Series is hosted by the UVM Program in Integrative Health with generous support from the Laura Mann Center, UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences and UVM Medical Center Patient and Family Centered Care.

Live streaming for overflow in McClure Lobby Conference Room. Telemedicine is available:
UVM Medical Center Staff - From UVM Medical center computer (Live stream) enter 10.193.10.32 into web browser and select live stream (or archive for later viewing).
Polycom Real Presence Desktop – 10.193.10.26##990100 or 192.240.46.49##990100
Non-UVM Medical Center staff- Contact your Telemedicine Site Coordinator

Integrative Healthcare Lecture Series: Non-Pharmacological Management of Pain

If you missed our January Laura Mann Integrative Healthcare Lecture provided by Dr. Benjamin Kligler you can click to View the slides and  Watch the video.

Mindfulness Tools for Health and Wellness

Sign up for EITHER the EVENING or DAY series as indicated below:

TUESDAY EVENINGS 5:00-7:00pm on the following dates: February 17, 24, March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, April 7
WEDNESDAY DAYS 1:00-3:00pm on the following dates: February 18, 25, March 4, 11, 18, 25 (10:30- 12:30), April 1, 8

A RETREAT for both classes (included in the 8-weeks), will be held Saturday March 28th from 9:00am-3:00pm Location for 8-week Series: McClure Lobby Conference Room

DIRECTIONS: Park in the hospital parking garage and follow the hallway to the McClure elevators and take to the Lobby. The McClure Lobby Conference Room is the first door on the right past the Café and hospital entrance. Parking vouchers will be provided.

TO REGISTER for the 8-Week Workshop, and/or for more information, contact Roz Grossman at roz@mindfulstressrelief.net or call (802) 233-2461

Space is limited so sign up soon! The workshop is accessible.

There is no cost to attend this program, which is funded through the generosity of the Cancer Patient Support Program. For more information about CPS please visit www.cpspvt.org or call (888) 277-3707.

RozGrossmanMAprovidesasafe,caringatmosphereinher workshops and brings compassion from her own journey from healing from cancer. Roz teaches the workshop Mindfulness Tools for Health and Wellness, which is based on the Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR). Roz has a background in health education and nursing.

UVM Medical Center Family Medicine Grand Rounds:  A Symphony of Life: Creating and Preserving Legacy

Vermont 2014 from Cara Feldman-Hunt
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Integrative Health Week 2014:  Integrative Approaches to Substance Abuse

SBIRT HANDOUTS from Cara Feldman-Hunt
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A Success Story:  Incorporating Integrative Medicine into the Hospital and Outpatient Care

Laura Mann Center Integrative Lecture Series: Fall 2014 from Cara Feldman-Hunt
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Integrative Health Week:  Integrative Approaches to Nutrition

Integrative Nutrition: Integrative Health Week 2014 from Cara Feldman-Hunt
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Join us for a screening of Escape Fire

Join the Laura Mann Center for Integrative Health for a cocktail reception followed by a screening of Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.

5:30 PM: Light Fare and Cash Bar

7:00 PM:  Film

Free and Open to the Public

We hope you will join the movement to explore ways to bring innovative high-touch, low-cost methods of prevention and healing into our high-tech, costly health care system. We hope you will support the Laura Mann Center as we continue to develop the platform to create an Institute for Integrative Health in Vermont that can reach all members of our community.

Reserve your free tickets at http://escapefirevt.eventbrite.com and be entered to win some exciting door prizes. Must be present to win.

Watch the trailer!

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UVM President Tom Sullivan introduces Mary Jo Kreitzer at Integrative Lecture Series

If you were unable to make the presentation, you can see the recorded video here or the review the slides below.  Click here to learn more about MaryJo and her center.

 

 

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Integrative Health Week

November 11 - 15

The Laura Mann Center has partnered with the UVM College of Medicine Program in Integrative Helath and the Integrative Health Students Special Interest Group to bring you our second Integrative Health Week.

Tuesday 6-8pm \ Escape Fire  \ Davis Auditorium 
Join us for a viewing of this compelling movie that tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: how can we save our badly broken healthcare system? Discussion following. View the trailer here

Wednesday  12 - 1pm \ MIndfulness Tools for Cancer Patients and Supporters: A Panel Discussion \ Davis Auditorium
Hear from three participants of the Mindfulness Tools for Health and Wellness program. Panelists will tell their experience of the program and how they have incorporated mindfulness into their healing journeys. Roz Grossman MA will give an overview of the program. Light lunch provided.

Thursday 12-1pm \  Beyond Stress Reduction: Mindfulness as a Radical Technology  \ Medical Education Building Room 300
The proliferation of mindfulness based-interventions and research has led some critics to dub this movement "McMindfulness" because it is separated from their roots in Buddhist ethics. Mindfulness can be an effective means of stress reduction and it can also be a radical technology for self-transformation--moving the practitioner from a life of suffering, anguish, and dissatisfaction to one of liberation, contentment, and bliss. Presented by Arnold Kozak, Ph.D. Light lunch provided.

Friday 12-1pm \  Five Elements Theory \ Medical Education Building Room 200
The introduction of five elements theory from Traditional Chinese Medicine and the application of five elements theory in life. Presented by Xi Wen, visiting faculty member from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. Light lunch provided.

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The How of Happiness and Well Being, a 6 week study group

 “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln


Well, it’s not quite that simple – but the intention to be happy is a fundamentally important starting point. This fall, Wendy Bratt and Ginny Sassaman -- two experienced, compassionate, knowledgeable, and fun facilitators -- invite you to bring your intention to be happier and join us for a six week study group designed to cultivate greater well being and contentment. And here’s the cool thing: our group, while aspirational in nature, will also be solidly grounded, thanks to the exciting new science of happiness field.

We are pleased to once again team up and provide this opportunity to learn authentic happiness practices and create your own unique long term happiness plan. Using The How of Happiness by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky as our guide, we will explore 14 areas proven to significantly enhance personal happiness:

• Gratitude • Optimism • Avoiding over thinking • Acts of kindness • Nurturing relationships • Coping strategies • Forgiveness • Increasing flow • Savoring life • Practicing religion and/or spirituality • Meditation • Physical activity • Acting happy * Commitment to goals

No doubt, the conversations we have as a group in Burlington will be thought provoking, funny, inspiring, and transformational.

Ginny and Wendy will facilitate safe and meaningful happiness activities and discussions. You’ll leave each session with strategies you can try at home. At the end of this study group, you’ll have the knowledge to choose what strategies work best for you. Your coaches will help ensure your plan for happiness is right for you.

Timing: We’ll meet Wednesday evenings, 6:00 to 8:00 in Burlington, from October 2nd through November 6th.

Cost: $150 for all six sessions. 15% discount if you register by September 15th. To register, send your payment ($128.50 with the discount) to Ginny Sassaman, PO Box 191, Calais, Vermont, 05648.

What You’ll Need: You’ll need your own copy of the book, “The How of Happiness,” along with an open heart and an open mind. We’ll let you know each week which chapters to read in advance of our gathering.

Study Group Leaders: Wendy Bratt is training in the communication practices of BePeace and Nonviolent Communication. She is a Spiritual Director, certified through the Claritas Institute for Interspiritual Inquiry. Wendy earned her Master’s degree at Boston College and taught people with visual impairment and blindness for 15 years. She owned and managed Twenty Acre Farm, an apple orchard in the Champlain Islands, for eight years. Wendy is certified in Wilderness First Aid and Reiki II. Recently, she has led Women’s Transformational Retreats and consulted with Kimball Brook Farm Organic Milk.

Prior to co-founding Gross National Happiness USA and creating the Happiness Paradigm, Ginny Sassaman earned a Masters in Mediation from Champlain College where she is a staff member in the mediation department. She has earned certificates in “The Philosophy and Psychology of Happiness” and “How Positive Psychology Changes Lives.” She has led happiness workshops in Seattle, Bar Harbor, Florida, North Carolina, and Central Vermont; and has delivered sermons to four Unitarian Universalist congregations on the moral imperative of happiness in light of climate change. Ginny also leads creativity and women’s retreats, and has a private mediation practice.

Contact: Ginny, 802-272-5628 or happinessparadigm@gmail.com; Wendy, 802-777-1057 or wbratt@gmavt.net
 

Attention Health Care Practitioners:  take our survey -  win $300 to Healthy Living!

Dear Vermont Health Care Practitioner,

We need your feedback. And you just might need a $300 gift card to Healthy Living! Everyone who completes the survey will have an opportunity to win a $300 gift card to Healthy Living in South Burlington.

Please consider completing a 10-minute survey that will help the Laura Mann Center for Integrative Health serve you and your patients more efficiently and effectively.

We’d like to know the statewide trends are in healthcare, the issues that directly impact your practice, and specifically what supports you need to continue or enhance your practice of integrative medicine.

Our Center’s mission is to promote the benefits of integrative health, connect patients and practitioners from all disciplines, offer educational programs for practitioners as well as community members and support integrative health initiatives throughout the state.

Please complete the 10 minute survey by clicking on this link:
http://fluidsurveys.com/s/lmcihsurvey/

The data we collect will help shape and enhance our online network, our educational programming and our advocacy work to better serve you.

All surveys that have complete contact information will be entered in the drawing for a $300 gift card to Healthy Living. Survey responses must be submitted by 5pm on September 9 --click here right now to be sure you are included!

Feel free to share with your colleagues.  We are grateful for your cooperation.

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The Yin of Health

Brendan Kelly, L. Ac., M. Ac.
Jade Mountain Wellness  Burlington, VT
Copyright Brendan Kelly, 2013

So much of what we hear about health is that we need to do things. We hear about foods we need to eat, exercises we should try, herbs and supplements we should take. For many of us, there are things that we could be doing that would promote health in the short and long term. But from the view of Chinese medicine, this is only one part of the picture. Another part of wellness and healing is the importance of doing less, and not-doing.

For better and for worse, we emphasize doing in our country and our culture. This activity is associated with Yang in Chinese medicine, while Yin is associated with doing less. At a very basic and very fundamental level, health is the balance of Yin and Yang, which is the balance between being busy and resting. There are many things that we can do to promote health, like eating local, organic food, breathing fresh air, and getting regular moderate exercise. And there are also many things we can not do to promote health, like not overworking, not overexercising, not overconsuming, and not allowing our emotions to run wild.

Doing things to promote health needs to be balanced with not-doing to promote health. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes we don't need to be more active, do more things or try the latest supplement to promote well-being. In our overly-busy and overly-technological society, often part of the medicine we need to stay healthy is the remedy of Yin, which is slowing down and doing less.

Part of the importance of understanding that health is the balance of the doing that is Yang with the not-doing that is Yin is that there are health consequences to our overemphasis on activity. Lets take the example, which is common in our clinic, of a person who is busy all the time. They work many hours each week, they have lots of family and home responsibilities, and as a result they are up early in the morning and not asleep until late at night, and during the day they feel stressed. As a result, they don’t sleep well and are tired.

One response to this tiredness and insomnia is to try new things. The person might be thinking: Maybe that herb I heard about would work? Maybe that new diet I read about can help me sleep? Maybe that new workout I heard about will help with my energy? And maybe one or all of those things could be of help. But the simpler, and perhaps more important, solution could be to slow down and do less.

Doing more, buying more things, and being more active is not likely to balance health issues that come from living an over-stimulated life.  Doing less—the Yin—balances the over activity—the Yang.

How is the balance of your Yin and Yang?

Bio: Brendan Kelly is an acupuncturist and herbalist at Jade Mountain Wellness in Burlington, VT—www.jademtwellness.com. He researches, writes and teaches about natural medicine at colleges, universities, schools and conferences nationwide. He is currently publishing his first book “The Yin and Yang of Climate Change.”

Staying Connected from Diagnosis through Survivorship: 7 Ideas to Guide Your Way

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~unknown

 

What is life without connections? Staying connected to our family, our friends, even ourselves—it’s what grounds us and brings us joy. Not only do connections feel good, they keep us healthy. Michael Lerner writes in his comprehensive guide, Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer, “ . . . human studies show that feelings of isolation and loneliness have a detrimental effect on physical well-being, as measured by immune function.”

Humans by design seek out connections, and most of the time we’re able to maintain and contribute to the relationships we’re part of. Enter chronic illness. Enter cancer. We don’t necessarily control life events, but we do choose how to respond to what life brings us. When detours strike, it’s easy to feel stranded. Alone. But as science and experience indicate, times of deviation are the times when we most need others by our side.

In April 2012, my new primary care provider detected a thyroid nodule. Two months prior, my previous provider had dismissed my symptoms as “stress” and did not physically examine me.

Discovery of the nodule began a three-month odyssey that included ultrasounds, two biopsies, back and forth battles with my insurance company over my decision to go out of state to access genetic testing on the second biopsy, and more tears and late night Google searches than I can document here. The journey culminated with surgery on July 11, 2012. I went under still not knowing if the mass was cancer. Four hours later, I woke to my surgeon’s words, “It’s cancer.”

I’m now a “survivor.” But survival is not a destination. It’s a journey, one I carry out every morning and afternoon when I take my thyroid medication that supplies the life essential hormones my thyroidless body no longer produces. I carry it out when I go for regular blood work to see how my body is doing with these synthetic hormones. I carry it out every moment of every day when I try to define for myself what being “well” means and how I will care for myself moving forward.

Since thyroid cancer affects approximately 11 out of 100,000 individuals, thyroid cancer awareness is substantively lacking. This translates into numerous providers telling me that I had the “good cancer,” and it also means that the research, the funding, and even the understanding of all the nuances of thyroid cancer and life without a thyroid just aren’t where they should be. It would be easy to feel alone, but I’ve found that remaining in touch is literally life saving.

I’d like to share seven ideas that have helped me transform this initially challenging journey into a life-affirming one. Perhaps they may resonate with you as well.

1) Honor your story.

For the first few months after surgery, the “it could have been worse” mantra held me back. In my head, I focused on the more intensive treatment I may have needed, but didn’t, and on other, more challenging scenarios I didn’t have to face. But this thinking kept me from accepting help and asking for it.

Healing, while often an internal journey, can also mean a willingness to allow others to help you on your healing journey. Part of my healing came from accepting my own journey and realizing that there was no value in comparison. I stopped minimizing and I began accepting the help offered and asking when I needed more.

2) Find care providers who care.

One of the positives that came out of this experience and the multiple tests, appointments, etc. is that I’m not afraid to go to the doctor anymore. And I’m not afraid to change providers when it’s not a good fit.

I know my surgeon’s tender touch on my shoulder before I was wheeled into the operating room mattered. It affected my attitude during recovery and, honestly, I believe, my outcome. Likewise, my endocrinologist saying to me the first time he met me, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this,” honored my experience and helped me trust in the process of recovery and healing. I stay with providers who treat me like a partner in my care, and who show their sincere concern about my wellbeing. I feel grateful to now have an amazing team of providers.

3) Make real connections.

Sure, you may have 162 friends on Facebook, but when you are going through a life-altering diagnosis, seek out and savor the folks who ask how you’re doing and then wait to hear the answer. Be grateful for these people. You know who they are.

They’re the ones who call when you get home from the hospital. They’re the ones who take your kids for a playdate without you having to ask, or drop a meal by, just because. In our fast-paced world it’s easy to stay “connected” through cell phones and Facebook. But as you heal, consider the deep connections that are sustaining you. Focus on these, and give yourself permission to gently let go of any relationships that leave you feeling disconnected.

4) Put your oxygen mask on first.

We all know this. But it’s true. With two small children, one of the hardest parts of my journey was feeling humbled by my own need for help. In the hospital for surgery, it was strange to think of my sons at home, without me, while I lay in an operating room. I felt useless. I felt scared. I felt utterly dependent on others.

My counselor through the cancer patient support program advised me early on to ask each day, “What am I doing for my healing today?” This question has proved pivotal to my healing. It motivates me to be kind to myself and look out for my needs, whether through a yoga class, sleeping in, or simply saying “no” sometimes.

And I think this is a valid question for any individual, healthy or not. What are you doing for your healing today? If you don’t feel that “healing” applies to your situation, apply the word “wellness” instead. What are you doing for your wellness today?


5) Find the pearl.

There are days when my diagnosis makes me feel flawed and downright sad. But, I can choose to savor my cancer, even meet it with gratitude. A devastating diagnosis may push us to break open or fall apart . . . and if we allow ourselves to look at what’s inside, we can choose to meet what we find with love and be with ourselves in that moment, in the middle of that sadness. There is healing to be found simply in taking an experience for what it is and letting ourselves move through every step that comes next with awareness, whether the next steps include fear, anger, disappointment, loss, or anything really.

I don’t think I’ll ever welcome my follow-up ultrasounds to my neck or the regular blood work. But I am thankful for a journey that is trying to teach me to be kinder to myself and mirror that kindness back to the world.

6) Take what works, leave the rest.

Reiki, yoga, acupuncture, marathon training, mindfulness meditation, writing, knitting, a hike, or simply going for a walk . . .

Healing is as individual as one’s body. There is no right way to heal. At first, I read any book I could about cancer, thyroids, thyroid cancer, healing, alternative treatments, really anything that might apply to my situation. But in the same way that 100 choices at the grocery store for the same item can actually cause stress, sometimes there is stress in the process of choosing how to best facilitate one’s healing. Surgery was the first step of my healing, but the real work began when I woke up. What do I do now? What do I change/not change moving forward? How do I avoid coming down this same path again? Is it even avoidable? For me, healing has been a bit about doing less, searching less, and looking deeply at the options before me and choosing what resonates with me. Then engaging in these options and letting the search for answers recede. For me, two practices particularly sustain me: writing, which I’ve been doing since I was a little girl, and, new in recent years, yoga. I should note that it’s worth trying something more than once before you decide if it works for you. I tried yoga once in college and did not enjoy it. I waited more than 10 years to try again.  I love it now, and it serves my healing for a multitude of reasons . . . including strength, mindfulness, and relieving symptoms of asthma. And, perhaps the best reason of all, as one of my teachers likes to remind us, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.”

7) Quiet body, active mind. Active body, quiet mind.

When my first biopsy last spring was inconclusive, it was recommended that I wait six weeks and have a second biopsy. While sitting for mindful meditation can be a healing practice, sitting all day for work, or to drive, can lead to a busy mind that likes to craft all sorts of worst-case scenarios for every possible life path.

Therefore, when I start thinking too much, I go for a walk. And sometimes I ask a friend to go with me.


Caroline Webster lives and writes in Essex, Vermont. She spends most of her time with her two young sons and when she’s not with them, she can be found hiding in the basement—writing or editing. www.carolineleewebster.com

My personal healing links:

Cancer Patient Support Program:
http://www.cpspvt.org

Patricia Fontaine’s Healing through Art and Writing:
http://www.patriciafontaine.com/haw_schedule.html

Roz Grossman, Mindful Stress Relief:
http://theneshamahcenter.weebly.com

http://www.stowehope.org

Survivorship Now:
http://www.survivorshipnowvt.org

Interested in learning more about thyroid cancer?

http://www.checkyourneck.com

www.thyca.org

http://www.bitemecancer.org

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OUR NEW WEBSITE!

We wanted to welcome you to check out our new website! This is something that has been in progress for awhile and we are very excited to launch it now grin

http://rwssupport.com/

We also are currently attempting to gather funding for a creative writing/art workshop for our clients. We started a campaign on indiegogo.com...please consider following the link and making a donation! THANK YOU!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/310993/x/2091007?fb_action_ids=10200172792184028&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

FUNDRAISER for the REPRODUCTIVE WELLNESS SUPPORT PROGRAM

The Reproductive Wellness Support Program provides free therapy and massage to women (and their partners) who are experiencing emotional distress associated with reproductive health issues. this includes postpartum depression/anxiety, infant mortality, traumatic birth experiences, multiple miscarriages, fertility struggles and more..

All services provided by RWSP are at no cost to the clients. Health insurance companies often set guidelines and limitations around reimbursement and treatment. One such guideline is that all psychotherapy clients must be given a diagnosis. When an individual is experiencing stress associated with an acute physical condition, like a reproductive health issue, they are often "caught off guard" and feeling overwhelmed.  Many will avoid seeking help if it is seen as "difficult"... gaining approvals from insurance companies, worrying about deductibles/copays and stigma around being "labeled" are all contributors to avoiding therapy.  RWSP wants to avoid adding to the stress. Because of this, Heather chooses to work beyond the limitations set by insurance companies. Also because of this, FUNDRAISERS ARE NEEDED...luckily they are FUN too!! Please consider coming!!!

here's a link to see more and buy tickets grin

http://artsriot.com/events/event/the-transcendence-affair/

 

Meditation Made Simple: Seven Considerations to Get You Started

Take a look at this custom-illustrated meditation primer written by Arnie Kozak.  It's a fun little introduction to meditation.

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Mindfulness for Common Problems: Seven Things to Know About Stress Read more: http://blog.beliefnet

Let’s start with stress:

  1. Not all stress is bad. Without stress we couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Our stress systems are well-equipped to deal with challenges.
  2. Stress is a combination of circumstances and our perception of those circumstances. One person’s stress is another person’s adventure.
  3. Our goal is not to get rid of stress (impossible today or in any era) but to manage stress better.
  4. Our stress system is best suited to immediate situations–we get a rise in energy to tackle a situaiton and then the body relaxes.
  5. Many of us today are in chronic stress overload–the stress systems is always on and never or rarely goes into the relaxation mode.
  6. Mindfulness of the body (especially the body scan practice (click here for a free guided body scan meditation) can help us to flag stress symptoms when they are present.
  7. Mindfulness can help to establish confidence in dealing with stressful circumstances. We can expand the range of what we can handle before we feel overwhelmed.

Stress is energy. It is the body switched-on to deal with a situation that may require us to fight or flee or to put our energy into taking care of someone. Stress gets a bad name and we think that we can somehow get rid of stress. This is neither possible nor desirable. We must act in the world and we need stress responses to do this.


We can determine how we confront a situation that may be stressful. If we feel confident that we can handle the situation, then the stress won’t feel overwhelming. Adversity arises when we feel the situation outstrips our ability to cope. Mindfulness practice can provide this confidence. We know that we can handle a future moment when it becomes the present moment.


If we can become familiar with our bodies stress signatures, we are in a better position to manage stress skillfully. We all tend to manifest stress in different ways. Some people get headaches, some people feel it in their gut. I feel overwhelming stress in my jaw. When I notice this tension, I can use it as a cue to let go of the story that is feeding the stress. Often, I will notice what is happening in my jaw before I recognize that I am lost in a painful story.


When I feel my jaw, I relax it and release back into the present moment. What is happening now? What can I do right now to address the situation at hand. Often, the stress is being manufactured in my imagination, so there is nothing to do except to breathe and enjoy the moment.

Mindfulness for Common Problems: Seven Things to Know About Anxiety Read more: http://blog.beliefne

Here are seven things to know about anxiety:

  1. Anxiety as a feeling is normal and necessary
  2. Anxiety feels bad for a good reason
  3. Anxiety is closely linked to depression
  4. We vary as individuals in our anxiety tendencies.
  5. Anxiety can become disordered when it becomes overgeneralized or generates too many false positives
  6. Anxiety requires oxygen to burn and mindfulness is like a vacuum chamber where anxiety cannot burn
  7. We can live happy and productive lives without eradicating anxiety

 

Without anxiety we would not be here–a species dominating the planet. If our ancestors did not have highly tuned threat detection systems fueled by anxiety, the human species would never have survived. Indeed, no species can survive without a vigilance to threat courtesy of anxiety.


Anxiety feels bad because, like pain, it needs to feel bad to capture our attention in an immediate way. Anxiety has to grip us from the inside out in order to orient attention to a potential threat. It works great when the threat is out there in the environment. However, as human beings, we have the capacity to generate anxiety in imagination–when no threats are present. This can lead to an excess of anxiety.


The systems for anxiety and those for depression seem to overlap quite a bit. The same therapies and medications work for both problems and there is large amount of overlap of these disorders. In some sense, there may be a false separation between the two. I think it can be helpful to group these together as the helpful aversive feelings (that can become disordered when taken to an extreme).


While anxiety is normal, it can become disordered. This occurs in a variety of ways. Sometimes, as in the case with panic disorder, the threat detection system is registering many false positives–a threat is perceived where there is none. Your physician or a mental health professional can help you to determine if your anxiety is normal or has become a treatable disorder.


How anxious we are depends on the combination of many factors. One of them is genetic. We are born with a particular temperament. Some of us are high strung and others of us are more easy going. Most of us hover around average. When we recognize how we are built, we can move towards acceptance. I know I am in the high average range. That’s the way I am built. Meditating for thirty years has helped but it is still the way I am built. Knowing this, I don’t react when my body gets nervous, as it does before public speaking. I just make room for those sensations and move on.


We don’t need to fear anxiety, nor do we have to eradicate it. Mindfulness creates a space where we can allow things to be as they are. When anxiety arises, we need to do a quick check–is there an actual threat? Providing the answer is “no” we can then redirect attention to the present and take our threat detection systems offline. In Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness, I used a vacuum chamber metaphor for anxiety.


Anxiety is like a fire, it burns with thoughts, fueled by imagination. Like any fire, it requires oxygen to burn. This oxygen is thinking. When we are mindful, and extricate ourselves from thinking we create a vacuum chamber where nothing can burn–not even anxiety. We may only be able to hold this chamber for a few moments, and we can always recreate it in the next moment.

Laura Mann Center part of a Dana Medical Library Exhibit

If you missed the exhibit at the Dana Medical Library you can view it here!

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The Science of Yoga

Great article in Forbes magazine ....

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Obstacles to Practice: Discomfort, Pain, and Intensity

Today I continue the series on obstacles to practice with a focus on affective factors that may keep us off the cushion. The other day, I talked about difficult experiences that may arise during practice--in a sense what comes to us unbidden. Today, I’ll focus on what we bring to the practice rather than what the practice brings to us.

Every moment we are alive is a moment tinged with agendas, expectations, and strivings. The agenda can be an obvious one–”I want to meditate.” Yet, there are always subtle agendas active–”I want to meditate and …” If agendas, expectations, and strivings are absent, then we are in nirvana. So, unless you’ve been hanging out in nirvana a lot lately, this post applies to you.

We are always adding something to every moment and the moments we are mediating are no exception. We don’t just want to meditate, we want to meditate well. I am always suspect when someone says, “I had a successful meditation.” This is a red flag for an active agenda. “How do you define success?” I might ask. Often, it is the quality of concentration or the degree of relaxation for that session.

The goal of mindfulness practice is NOT concentration and relaxation. Concentration is a natural by-product of practice and so is relaxation. When these are set as the expectations for practice they become obstacles. In any given practice session, you may or may not experience concentration and relaxation. When you dedicate yourself to practice over a long period of time, you can be assured that your ability to concentrate will improve–on average. However, in any given moment who knows what the mind will be like? I’ve been practicing vipassana for twenty-three years and there are sessions where my mind is not concentrated at all.

So, if concentration and relaxation are not the goals of practice, what are? The overarching goal of mindfulness practice it to become intimate with your mind. With this goal, whatever happens during practice is fine because you are becoming more intimate with your mind. It doesn’t matter if you are distracted–get to know the agitated mind. It doesn’t matter if you are edgy–dive into the tense body.

The more practical goal for mindfulness practice is to practice returning. The expectation that many students bring to practice is the idea that their mind should stay put. When it doesn’t, they feel disheartened with practice. If the goal is to keep returning, then the more distracted you are the more opportunities to return. This is the delightful paradox of practice.

Progress in practice is like an upward spiral. Imagine a graph with a line spiraling from the zero point up at a 45 degree angle. When you stand back, it’s easy to see that you are making progress. But in any given moment, you may be moving down and back. It is important not to place too much emphasis on any given practice session. Some are going to be dull, tense, and distracted; some are going to feel awful, like a waste of time. You are not wasting your time, however. Keep practicing.

Read more: http://features.beliefnet.com/mindfulnessmatters/#ixzz1sOgFPsUs

Bravewell Collaborative

http://www.bravewell.org/current_projects/mapping_field/


Sponsored by The Bravewell Collaborative, Integrative Medicine in America: How Integrative Medicine Is Being Practiced in Clinical Centers Across the United States provides current data on the patient populations and health conditions most commonly treated with integrative strategies.

 

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