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24 May

Princeton University’s Vertical Farming Project Partners with Local Elementary School

vertical farming projectFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018
Media Contact: Stephanie Marshall stephanie@mnspublicity.com

New Vertical Farming Initiative will Provide Cutting Edge Scientific Educational Opportunities for Elementary Students and Enhance School Farm to Cafeteria Program

As Spring weather FINALLY arrives on the East Coast and gardeners and farmers eagerly await the planting season, Hopewell Elementary School Students in New Jersey have been enjoying fresh, organic produce they grow indoor all year

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University’s Vertical Farming Project announced they will partner with Hopewell Elementary School in Hopewell, New Jersey to develop their vertical farm-to-cafeteria program.

Fifth grade teacher at Hopewell Elementary, Helen Corveleyn oversees the school’s outdoor garden beds, six indoor vertical hydroponics towers and has been instrumental in their new vertical farming initiative partnership with Princeton. Corveleyn will work closely with Princeton University’s Dr. Paul Gauthier, founder and director of the Princeton Vertical Farming Project to develop the program at the elementary school. The on-site, indoor classroom will be fully functioning in September 2018 and will allow preschool through fifth grade kids to mirror Princeton’s program while providing kids with fresh, organic produce for lunch and an invaluable introduction to hands on, cutting edge scientific development.

The Princeton Vertical Farming Project focuses on the sustainability and energy efficiency of vertical farming as they study production rates of hydroponic engineering systems along with marketing and economic feasibility. Gauthier says, “Two of the main challenges that vertical farms are facing revolve around awareness and data sharing. Through establishing a resonant collaboration with the Hopewell Elementary School, the Princeton Vertical Farming Project hopes to educate new generations about the benefits of vertical farming, and to inspire them to expand their knowledge through the application of new, groundbreaking research and technologies, which the farm has been producing. Furthermore, this collaboration will create citizen science datasets, which will contribute to the improvement of the vertical farming field as a whole. By inspiring students today, we hope to shape the future of farming and reduce human impacts on the environment.”

Room to Grow–Princeton Vertical Farming Project Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=80&v=zzXkrIuzslY

Elementary students and teachers have embraced the homemade, nutritious lunch options infused with organic ingredients served in Hopewell Elementary’s cafeteria. Their community is excited for the new vertical farming initiative with the goal of featuring 100% of the lettuce in the cafeteria grown at the school. Additional vegetables and herbs will be grown, harvested and featured as well. Principal David Friedrich’s passion for locally sourced, homemade, organic food for his students is evident in the Organic Menu offered at Hopewell. The menu is now in its third year and has seen a 50% increase in participation from the start. Principal Friedrich says, “At Hopewell Elementary School, we are thrilled to expand the vertical farming initiative which reinforces our commitment to sustainability. As the first public school in New Jersey to offer an organic menu featuring homemade entrees, we will now be able to prepare more nutritious meals infused with our own vegetables and herbs grown and harvested by students. The project also supports hands-on, relevant and high-quality science instruction aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.”

Dr. Thomas Smith, Superintendent of Schools, remarked, “Lead by Mrs. Corveleyn and Principal David Friedrich, the Hopewell Elementary School has been a driving force in our district-wide sustainability efforts. The vertical farming project has captivated the interest of students and staff. By bridging the gap between science and nature, students can observe the real-life connection between farming and food by seeing what is necessary to grow and produce the food we eat. An important part of this project is that virtually all of the food grown in the vertical farm will be used in our school lunches.”

Children respond to living organisms in the classroom with excitement and passion. Typically in an elementary setting, animals and insects are a wonderful way to promote living organism studies, but at Hopewell Elementary School, they have captured a unique Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)–aligned curriculum that is plant-based and integrates both life science and chemistry. Corveleyn remarks, “No child is too young to understand hydroponics. The bottom line is, kids love planting something they know they can eat! Creating an opportunity for sustainable gardening for the future at a young age makes hydroponics not just a buzzword, but a way of life.”

Hopewell Elementary secured several grants to sustain the vertical farming project:
Sustainable Jersey / New Jersey Education Association ($10,000)
BASF Corporation ($5,000)
Hopewell Valley Education Foundation ($4,400)
Hopewell Elementary School PTO ($7,000)
Photo credit, David Friedrich. Additional photos available upon request.

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20 Mar

What is a Chakra?

An excerpt from Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy by Michelle S. Fondin

Chakras are energy centers within the body. The word chakra means “wheel” or “disk.” Think of the chakras as spinning vortices of energy. Everything is composed of energy and information. Every object emanates from movement and vibration. The seven main chakras align along the spine, starting at the base of the spine and moving up to the crown of the head.

 

In the ancient Indian texts called the Vedas, we learn that the physical body is made up of the five great elements called the mahabhutas. Those five elements are space (akasha), air (vayu), water (jala), fire (tejas), and earth (prithivi). The elements are the building blocks of nature and therefore build our bodies as well.

 

Ancient texts go on to explain that we also have a subtle body. This subtle body is nonphysical and energetic in nature. The subtle body is governed by prana, or vital life force. Prana circulates throughout the body and mind. It is responsible for the flow of energy and information. In the subtle body, prana travels through channels called nadis. Nadis are circulatory channels within the body such as veins, arteries, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the digestive system, the excretory system, and the reproductive system. Think of nadis as the information highway to your mind, body, soul, and spirit, just as the internet is the information highway that brings information to your browser.

 

If you have a difficult time grasping the concept of the subtle body, reflect on your mind and thoughts. Thoughts are nonphysical entities. Yet ask anyone who thinks (and that would include all of us), and they will tell you that thoughts are quite real. Scientists have been able to pinpoint areas in the brain where thoughts originate or take place, but slice open a human head and you won’t find one thought in there. According to Vedic texts, the mind, intellect, and ego also reside within the subtle body.

 

Now let’s go back to the example of the internet. When you want information, you want it fast, right? You’re doing research for a work project or a school report, or getting the scoop on a guy you want to date, and you don’t want to wait forever. In the infancy of the internet, with dial-up modems, you could log on, go get a cup of coffee, use the restroom, do your nails, and then the AOL voice of “You’ve got mail” would finally vibrate in your ever-so-waiting ears. But today, in the world of fiber-optic cables and Wi-Fi, information comes pretty much as quickly as you can type in your question. And when it doesn’t come that fast you get frustrated.

 

For your body to work at an optimal level, the channels through which information travels must be open for that information to get quickly to its destination. If they’re blocked, or if there is an abnormality where the information pools in a given area, you won’t receive the information you need when you need it. So the nadis are the highways or the fiber-optic cables, and prana is the package of information that needs to be carried.

 

In total, we have around 88,000 chakras in the body, and the seven main chakras are the information hubs. They gather information on certain aspects of your body, mind, spirit, health, and life. When adequate energy flows to these chakras, that energy fills the area with the information each chakra needs to perform its unique specialty.

 

Like a highway, your body is constantly moving, changing, growing, and being modified by outside influences. While you may intend to keep the energy and information flowing throughout your body at all times, your lifestyle choices, life experiences, and outside influences may hinder the flow. Fortunately, certain practices can help keep these channels open and information flowing freely, and in this book you will learn what you need to do to achieve this goal quickly and easily.

The Philosophy of the Chakras

The concept of the chakras comes from ancient Indian texts of the Tantric tradition. Tantra is a complicated and important nonreligious philosophy. The Tantric texts are separate from the famously known Indian texts, the Vedas, from whence Ayurveda came.

 

In the West we tend to associate the word Tantra with sex. While sex is mentioned in the Tantric texts, it’s meant to be reserved as a practice for only the most advanced yoga practitioners. The main goal of Tantra is to explore the deep mysteries of life and to become liberated within the confines of this world.

 

The word Tantra means “to weave.” Tantra is the process of weaving together the body, which has great wisdom, and the mind, which has immense power. By heeding the wisdom of the body and by harnessing the power of the mind you can find the enormous beauty in life on this planet and achieve self-mastery.

 

The symbolism and stories of the chakras, including their deities and mysticism, are beautiful, colorful, complex, and certainly worth exploring. For the sake of brevity, I will teach you the basics of the chakra system. The foreign words I present come from Sanskrit. For the most part, Sanskrit is no longer spoken but is rich in the roots of language, as many modern English words stem from Sanskrit root words.

 

# # #

 

Michelle S. Fondin, author of Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy and The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda is owner of the Ayurvedic Path Yoga and Wellness Studio, where she practices as an Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor and as a yoga and meditation teacher. She holds a Vedic Master certificate from the Chopra Center and has worked with Dr. Deepak Chopra teaching yoga and meditation. Find out more about her work at www.michellefondinauthor.com.

 

Excerpted from the book Chakra Healing for Vibrant Energy: Exploring Your 7 Energy Centers with Mindfulness, Yoga, and Ayurveda. Copyright © 2018 by Michelle S. Fondin. Printed with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

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01 Mar

Helping Kids Focus on 6 Life Lessons After The Florida High School Shooting

By Steve Siebold

 

It’s been a long and very upsetting two week since the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that took 17 innocent lives, 14 of them children. Whether you had friends or family at the school that day, live in the area or were watching the coverage on television from thousands of miles away, you’ve probably been consumed with emotions of grief, anger, confusion and despair.

 

As the nation continues to pay tribute and mourn, and as the kids at Stoneman Douglas High School head back to class today, we can help remember the victims and keep their legacies alive by acknowledging the real-life lessons our kids have learned through the tragedy. To say that any good came from this heinous act would be inappropriate, insensitive and simply untrue. However, with all the doom and gloom and negative news that continues to consume the airwaves and social media, it’s important for kids to see another side of it.

 

There are six lessons in particular that children need to be aware of:

 

The world is both beautiful and brutal 

We’ve seen firsthand how brutal the world can be. But over the last two weeks, we’ve also learned how beautiful the world can be, too. Don’t ever forget that. Unfortunately, it’s in times of tragedy that we often see the beauty of people coming together and supporting one another. Make that your mission all the time, every day you walk this earth. Lend a hand to someone less fortunate. Ask your classmate who is struggling with the math concept if he or she would like your help. Include the kid who is sitting alone at the lunch table with your group. Bad things are inevitable, but we can all do more good to make this world a better place.

 

Live courageously 

Having courage is one of the hallmark characteristics of the most successful people. Every single student who attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is courageous. The bravery and courage they showed on the day of the shooting, how they’ve maintained themselves and held it together as well as they have over the last few weeks, and returning to classes this week are all events that have made them extremely courageous. Nobody should ever be put in the situation these poor kids found themselves in on February 14, but the level of courage they all have is something that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

 

There’s power in public speaking

Many seasoned and polished professionals are terrified to speak in public, yet these kids were thrust into the national spotlight all while dealing with the loss of their friends and teachers and trying to figure out the unthinkable. With the national platform they’ve been given, these kids are quickly becoming the difference makers of tomorrow, sending a powerful message to Washington and the world. They have the courage of a bullfighter and the concentration of a Buddhist Monk. Teaching a child to speak publicly is helping ensure future success, builds confidence and is a way to honor their fallen friends.

 

Always do what’s right

15-year old student Peter Wang died a hero in the school shooting when he helped his classmates and teachers escape. Many things can be taught in life, but integrity is not one of them. Wang died in his JROTC uniform and was posthumously accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Chances are you’re not going to be put in a life or death situation, but regardless, always do what’s right even if it’s not the popular thing to do or the consequences won’t be favorable. Start by identifying one difficult situation you are currently experiencing and make the decision to do the right thing.

 

Life isn’t fair

Our well-meaning adults of influence try to persuade us that life is fair and the good guys always win. A common belief held by the masses is that everything happens for a reason, which comforts them in times of crisis. This belief is an emotional opiate people use to quell their fears and to try and make sense of the random nature of life. These kids have proved that they have the mental toughness, tenacity and perseverance to thrive and survive. Life isn’t fair, but you are stronger than you realize. It’s sad that it takes a tragedy of this magnitude to show you just how tough you are, but the lesson for every child out there is that no matter what life throws your way, you can make it through.

 

Nothing is guaranteed

No matter who you are, where you live, what kind of grades you make or anything else, nothing is ever guaranteed. I’d be lying to you if I guaranteed tomorrow was coming for sure. That’s why it’s imperative that you live everyday as if it were your last. Live the life you want to live and be the person you dream of being. Ask yourself this critical thinking question: if today was my last day on earth, am I satisfied with the life I have lived? If the answer is no, you need to make some changes.

 

Parents should be there for their children during these difficult times. Encourage them to ask questions, express their feelings and do what they need to do to process recent events. After the grieving process, take time to review these important life lessons with your children. It’s a way to help them while also honoring those we lost.

 

Steve Siebold is a psychological performance expert and author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class and Secrets Self-Made Millionaires Teach Their Kidshttp://thesecretsbook.com/

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26 Feb

The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness: An excerpt from Turbo Metabolism

Guest post by Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP

As the modern Western lifestyle spreads around the globe, so too does metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. The good news: metabolic syndrome can be tamed by a sensible program of exercise, natural foods, stress management, and quality sleep. In his new book Turbo Metabolism, Dr. Vij distills a mass of medical research into a simple, effective program for vibrant health. Avoiding fads and gimmicks, he provides practical advice, case studies of ordinary people, and brief sections that debunk common medical myths. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Managing stress requires being mindful about the here and now. The barrage of stimuli we endure every day from all our electronic gadgets is the antithesis of mindfulness. Technology is constantly distracting us with stimuli from outside our current time and place.

 

The next time you are walking in a park on a spectacular sunny day, note how many people are staring at their electronic devices, sending or receiving messages or checking social media, when they could be enjoying the present time and place. Our modern-day addiction to devices that are supposedly “connecting us” is actually taking us to a place other than the here and now. Why are we so afraid to observe our own thoughts that we constantly need to fill our mind-space with busywork?

 

The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness

Here are seven attitudes that define or contribute to mindfulness: nonjudgment, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, nonstriving, acceptance, and letting go.

 

Nonjudgment: Take the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience as it happens. This is the ideal “witness state” of a human being. Notice the stream of thoughts and judgments: “This thought is good/bad/neutral.” Become aware without trying to stop the flow. The mind is constantly judging situations and people, but mindfulness means seeing things as they are without adding judgment.

 

Patience: Let things unfold in their own time, and practice patience with yourself. A child may try to help a butterfly emerge by breaking open a chrysalis, but this will likely harm or kill the butterfly. Why rush through some moments in order to get to other, “better” ones? Your life is what you experience in each moment. No particular experience is better or worse than another; only our judgments label them as such. Be completely open to each moment, accepting its fullness, knowing that, like the butterfly, things will emerge in their own time.

 

Beginner’s mind: Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” stop us from seeing things as they really are. Cultivate a willingness to see everything as if for the first time. Be receptive to new possibilities. Don’t get stuck in a rut of your own expertise. Recognize that each moment is unique and contains unique possibilities.

 

Try cultivating a beginner’s mind with someone you know: Ask yourself if you are seeing this person with fresh eyes, as he or she really is. Ask yourself the same question with your problems, with the sky, with your dog, with the clerk in the corner shop.

 

Trust: Develop a basic trust in yourself and your feelings. Trust in your own authority and intuition, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way. Honor your feelings. Take responsibility for yourself and your own well-being.

 

Nonstriving: Practicing mindfulness means seeking no goal other than being who you already are. Pay attention to how you are right now, whatever that is. Just watch. The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving and instead focus on carefully seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goal will happen by itself.

 

Acceptance: See things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache. We often waste a lot of time and energy denying what is fact. We try to force situations into how we would like them to be. This creates more tension and prevents positive change from occurring. Now is the only time we have for anything. You have to accept yourself as you are before you can really change.

 

Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything about yourself and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow. Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.

 

Letting go: Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are. Let things go and just watch. If you find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on your mind, you can direct your attention to what “holding on” feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Looking at the ways we hold on will show a lot about its opposite. You already know how to let go. Every night when we allow ourselves to fall asleep, we let go.

 

 

# # #

 

Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP, is the author of Turbo Metabolism. As a doctor of internal medicine, he has helped thousands of patients lose weight, manage chronic health conditions, and improve their physical fitness. Visit him online at http://www.doctorvij.com.

 

 

Excerpted from the book Turbo Metabolism. Copyright ©2018 by Pankaj Vij, MD. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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26 Feb

How to Re-unite Society

By John Jensen, Ph.D.

 

In a New York Times article in 2016, “How Republics End,” Paul Krugman summed up the breakdown of civic virtue in the Roman Empire that led to its downfall, and its parallels with conditions now.  He concluded that he did not see any forces operating today that can prevent such a breakdown for us.  Elites dominate, many are discouraged about change, and positive efforts are fractured.  Many are helpless even to “get through” to people they know well and presume that “they are the problem” and “I just can’t talk them.”  By accepting that as final and unchangeable, however, we face more fragmentation of society. Knowing full well that systemic problems cannot be solved that way, we are driven to find ways to collaborate even distastefully, reluctantly, or ruefully.

But in fact, a vast body of knowledge exists precisely about how to communicate and collaborate with people who either dismiss us or disagree with us.  Taken together the fields of sales, psychotherapy, education, group dynamics, mediation, team building, public speaking, social change, politics, organizational development, and basic research contain an enormous resource of information on how to proceed. Most people’s way to get across an idea to someone who disagrees, instead,  is just to say it either more times or louder or both; that should get through to them! History tells us, however, that under some conditions, change occurs swiftly. Commenting once on his efforts to form the United Farm Workers union, Cesar Chavez said, “Organizing is easy.  Just paint a picture and color it in.”

In that brief statement are the components of today’s need.

First, a picture, a vision, “This is what we’re after.” It should be significant and beautiful enough to inspire people to want to expend energy to make it happen, while the US today labors under conflicting pictures united only by the principle, “Everyone for themselves.” We each try to take care of our own people and interest group, while those with power to do so gather even more resources for themselves and their interests.  A goal that might unite at least a majority, on the other hand, is “the good of the whole.” It is like realizing that decorating our own lifeboat comes after making sure our ship floats.  We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, sustain a range of values simultaneously. Our immediate self-interest is only one value, and our human brain must remind us that many other values are ultimately important to us personally, to all humans, and to the natural world.

Second, “color it in.”  This implies one person speaking the picture to another so it looks beautiful and makes sense.  We can readily imagine Cesar Chavez talking to roomful of people—enthusiastic, practical, detailed, pointed—and establishing the relevance of the picture to their lives.

For ourselves, we need to understand the features and conditions of life today that threaten the very existence of our society, and the most direct means of changing them.  Learning is involved.  We can think of the picture we transmit as having the role toward society like a tree depends on an acorn.  Think of the latter’s miracle. Somehow its molecular structure guides it in how to respond to all the conditions it encounters. Our picture of the society we want needs to have a comparable ability to arrange conditions it faces.

                But absorbing and transmitting the picture and persisting at it long enough to bring about change depends on features that need to occur together: vision (the picture to transmit), learning (absorbing the picture ourselves), action (expressing it to others), and mutual support (hanging together to encourage each other’s efforts).  These are the components of a movement.  With every new person, we help them understand the picture, engage them in learning groups that are inspirational and competence-building, engage them in confident action expressing these ideas and with group campaigns and outreach, and “have their back” so they continually feel supported and energized.

  These conditions are easier to implement than most might think and can lead to rapid growth.  Imagine gaining just one new person per month for your purpose—four weeks of you and your friend in study, learning, and action.  Next month, you two find two more and four do the same, and in the third month, eight. At that slow pace of monthly doubling, however, in a year you become 2,048.  The crux is each one really learning and committing to the picture and the process of sharing it, each one gaining “the acorn plan” within them that enables them to spread their ideas.

How to understand, develop, and apply these ideas is the subject of my recently published book, We Need a Movement: Four Problems to Solve to Restore Rational Government (available at Createspace.com/7601534).  For an overview of its message and purpose, and a free download of the text, see also my website, www.movementwithoutgunfire.com.

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03 Feb

Reducing Your Cancer Risk: A holistic approach

Guest post by Carl O Helvie, R.N., Dr.P.H.

Did you know that the current risk of cancer is 1 of every 2 people in the United States? And did you know that 40% of these are preventable according to research. Thus, it is important to learn how to reduce your cancer risk to avoid being in a cancer or cancer survivor group. .

What areas of life offer an opportunity to reduce your cancer risk. . The author uses a public health framework to answer this question. Assuming health and illnesses (cancer) are processes resulting from the interaction of the human host, a disease or disabling agent, and the environment, disease can occur when the host is weak, the agent is strong, and the environment that brings them together is favorable. Thus, it is important to avoid or reduce environmental carcinogens, to strengthen the host, and to make the environment less favorable for an interaction. Intervening before the host interacts with an agent in a favorable environment is known as prevention and is most cost effective and less traumatic for individuals.

There are four major areas of environmental carcinogens that can be avoided or reduced in intensity. These include electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), ultraviolet rays, carcinogenic chemicals, and carcinogenic metals. The author discusses research related to each area as it relates to cancer and ways to avoid them. There are also over 45 national expert interviews linked to appropriate topics throughout the book. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA) a carcinogenic chemical, is an endocrine disrupter responsible for cancers of the prostate and breast. It is found in plastic and you can avoid it by replacing plastic water bottle in which the plastic leaches into the water during hot weather or transporting with glass containers, replace plastic utensils, and not eating canned foods that havw BPA linings in the can.

There are many things you can do to build your bodies immunity against carcinogens. Some physical interventions include working with nutrition, fluids, exercise, adding supplements and herbs, using immune builders, getting adequate rest and sleep, and avoiding or stopping smoking. For example, research shows that daily exercise reduces your risk of cancer by 50% and proper nutrition reduces it by 35%. Looking at nutrition, the Standard American Diet (SAD) of high animal protein and fat, saturated fats and cholesterol, high sugar and processed foods, and low complex carbohydrates and vegetables with GMO, pesticides, and other pollutants is considered a potential causal factor for cancer and should be replaced with a diet with more fruit and vegetables especially raw ones and lesser amounts of nuts and proteins. Researchers are finding that the vegan diet lends itself to reducing several diseases including cancer. A proper diet should also include organic, non-GMO food without growth hormones, pesticides and other pollutants. Good sources of oil should be used such as cold pressed organic olive oil for low or no temp cooking, and coconut oil for high temp cooking. Anti- inflammatory foods and anti oxidants should also be included. Also avoid farm grown fish and seafood, large fish that eat smaller ones and have higher mercury levels and avoid foods that raise the glycemic level in the body. Some physicians believe eliminating inflammation will reduce most diseases and taking anti-inflammatories canl help overcome them. Antioxidants are important because the cells give off waste including free radicals that lead to inflammation and are precursors to disease. The body produces some antioxidants to balance the free radicals but with radiation, processed foods and other contaminants this process cannot keep up so additional ones in food are necessary. .

A last area of interventions to reduce cancer risk are mental/spiritual ones such as prayer, meditation, affirmations, visualization, faith, helping others, compassion, gratitude and others. These were important in my cancer journey with lung cancer 43 years ago when I was given 6 months to live and was offered chemotherapy and surgery which I refused. Instead I used a holistic natural approach.

Although there is no research to support mental/spiritual interventions killing cancer cells there is currently adequate research to show the supplemental role they play. Overall these include reduce blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, improve memory. Increase DHEA, a hormone that reduces aging and decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, by 23%, increase happiness and self esteem, improve immune functioning. Improve tolerance to aches and pains, reduces stress, improves quality of life and others. Specifically. Cancer patients with a sense of purpose have an increased life spam, and those who are spiritual have less pain and a higher quality of life,. Patients who meditate have 31% lower stress symptoms, and 67% less mood disturbances, and music can lower patient’s anxiety, pain, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Visualization can improve immune functioning in cancer patients. .More information at: www.HolisticCancerFoundation.com

Carl O Helvie, R.N., Dr.P.H. is a nurse with a doctorate in public health and over 60 years’ experience as a nurse practitioner, educator, author and researcher. He had published 9 books and chapters in 4 additional ones and over 100 international research papers and articles. He has been listed in most national references and Wikipedia. At age 85 he continues hosting the Holistic Health Radio Show, and serving as President of the Carl O Helvie Holistic Cancer Foundation.

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04 Jan

Physical Activities Can Power Kids’ Brains

Guest post by Kilian Saekel

Getting kids off the couch and away from televisions and other electronic devices that have them sitting around for hours at time is important for health reasons, but it has another surprising impact. A new study found that kids who fit in extra physical activities in their day paid more attention in school and performed better in subjects such as reading and math. Sometimes getting kids interested in an activity that causes them to break a sweat is like pulling teeth, but taking things they love or that interest them and putting a fun physical twist on them can get them to rethink their personal ban on physical activities.

 

Kilian Saekel, CEO of A-Champs, has a few tips for parents on fun physical activities that can be done in the living room that kids will want to participate in and that can boost their brain power:

 

Play old school games- Play classic games such as “Red Light, Green Light”, “Mother, May I”, “Simon Says” or any other game that gets kids moving around. You can also put

  • a twist on classic board games by creating your own rules that involve physical activities. Such as having kids do ten jumping jacks when they buy a property in Monopoly or running in place for a minute if they get sent home in Sorry.
  • Scavenge the room– Hide objects around the house and have kids search for the item they think you are describing. Require kids to perform a certain physical activity (jumping jacks, sit ups, push-ups, etc.) before they are allowed to submit the item that they brought back to you. If they bring back the wrong item, they have to do twice the number of jumping jacks that are required before returning to the hunt! You can also set up a scavenger hunt where they search for animal figurines and have to act like the animal being called out such as hopping like a frog, running like a cheetah or flapping their arms like a bird.
  • Set up camp– Have kids strap on backpacks and pack gear that they would need if they were going on a hiking/camping trip. Take them on a walking trip around the house and even pretend the stairs are a mountain they have to climb. When you feel like you explored enough, have kids make a tent out of a sheet in the living room. You can also set up a makeshift campfire with battery powered candles or equip kids with flashlights and take turns telling scary stories. Once you’re done have kids pack up the gear again and make their way back home.
  • Don’t touch the lava- Spread pillows or couch cushions on the floor and have kids hop from cushion to cushion without touching the ground. If they do touch the lava, or ground, have them do 5 jumping jacks, sit ups and push-ups before they restart the course. You can make this game tougher for older kids by playing with smaller pillows or taping paper circles to the floor.
  • Take the games indoors– Set up different sports stations around the living room. Create a basketball hoop using a trashcan, a volleyball net using string and two chairs and use old boxes for soccer goals. Have kids create new sports games or put twists on the old ones such as mixing soccer rules with the volleyball playing style where players must try to keep the ball in the air and make it in their goal before the other players try to take the ball away or block it from the goal.
  • Mix in technology- Kids love anything that has a tech component. Find games, apps or videos that get kids up and moving instead of sitting on the couch like a zombie. NFL Play 60 and ROXs are both great options to get kids interested in physical activities along with mixing in technology. If your child is adamant about watching a show or movie pick a word or phrase that you know is used often and set a rule that they have to do a certain action like jump up and down or do high knees every time it is said.

 

Kilian Saekel, Co-Founder & CEO of A-Champs

Kilian is a German born entrepreneur in the field of product development and manufacturing.

In 2010 Kilian’s wife successfully battled cancer. It was then when he started to appreciate the need to live an active and healthy lifestyle. In 2015, he founded “A-Champs” with the goal to inspire children to engage in physical activity and to help them set the foundations for living active and healthy lives. The A-Champs solution is an interactive gaming system that uses technology, video gaming play patterns and kids’ imaginations for real-world PLAY experiences that are screen-less.

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11 Dec

Direct and Protect: Dominance without Malice

by Linda Kohanov

An excerpt from The Five Roles of a Master Herder

 

Whether you overemphasize or avoid the Dominant role, learning to employ it consciously and judiciously is one of the most important — and difficult — skills to develop.

 

In working with large animals, Master Herders also cultivate a sophisticated knowledge of dominance to handle the flamboyant power plays that aggressive herd members engage to challenge authority and intimidate others into submission. Similarly, parents and teachers must help naturally dominant children modulate and channel this sometimes-explosive force into benevolent pursuits.

 

Here’s the problem: Managing, let alone working for or living with, people who overidentify with the Dominant role is sometimes emotionally painful, intensely frustrating, and even occasionally dangerous. In these efforts, you must not only be powerful yourself, but you must also model a centered, socially conscious use of this often-misdirected force — even if dominance is not your natural inclination. If dominance is your native tongue, you must transform your own instinctual tendencies to control, intimidate, and divide and conquer into an impeccable source of refined influence. Either way, it may be the challenge of a lifetime.

 

Classic Dominance Games

To various degrees, naturally dominant people and animals experiment with using intimidation as a management tool. At best, they have strong opinions and aren’t shy about directing others’ behavior. The most dangerous Dominants, however, quickly escalate to violence while displaying an outrageous sense of entitlement.

 

Two-Legged Dominants

Humans who overemphasize dominance play similar games, though most of these people are unconscious of what they’re doing and how they affect others. To some high-powered CEOs, intensely autocratic behavior becomes their baseline — usually through a combination of talent for this role reinforced by parental encouragement, followed by success in competitive educational environments and cutthroat business climates.

 

In the corporate world, large salaries still entice many workers to endure intensely competitive, demeaning bosses. Younger generations, however, are less tolerant of disrespectful power plays and “my way or the highway” tactics. Talented, independent people are more than happy to “hit the road” in these situations, especially when the internet makes it easier to work from home and start a business online.

 

Instinctual Characteristics of an Immature Human or Animal Dominant

  • Uses intimidation as a management tool.
  • Exhibits a strong sense of entitlement.
  • Often asserts power divisively, usually by keeping others away from something valuable (food, water, resources, mares in heat, and so on).
  • Sometimes attacks others for little or no reason (to keep everyone a bit on edge).
  • Pressures others to yield, to look away or move away as a sign of respect.
  • Refuses to move when others ask.
  • Herds others with a driving force, most often by pushing the group from behind.
  • Exhibits tendencies to micromanage, demand compliance, and control others’ behavior.
  • Verbally or nonverbally expresses a “my way or the highway” attitude.

 

Optimal Use of Dominance

When dominance is used consciously — in balance with skills developed through exercising the other roles — it becomes a constructive force for motivating others and moderating unproductive group behavior. Mature Dominants transform their potentially explosive energy into a “direct-and-protect” orientation, deftly employing the role’s divisive and driving forces for specific, life-enhancing pursuits. While their adolescent counterparts are busy chasing herd members away from food and water, horses who master this role use their refined, still-potent power to break up fights between individuals (divisive), set boundaries with aggressors (divisive), herd the group away from danger (divisive and driving), and chase off predators (driving).

 

In pastoral cultures, expert herders employ dominance for these same purposes, while helping their younger counterparts convert disorganized aggression into focused, intelligent assertiveness. During seasonal migrations, Fulani herders regularly employ the divisive energy of this role to keep loose cattle out of farmers’ unfenced fields, thus preventing war with the tribe’s sedentary neighbors.

 

Accomplished human leaders use the Dominant’s driving energy to motivate lazy or resistant individuals to get back on task and/or to change destructive behavior. The driving force can also be used to help groups stay together and persevere through the uncomfortable by-products of change. During droughts and economic crises, the Dominant’s protective, boundary-setting abilities keep predators at bay and prevent opportunistic herd members from hoarding or hijacking limited resources.

 

Benefits of a Mature Human or Animal Dominant

  • Has a “direct-and-protect” orientation.
  • Excels at setting boundaries with aggressors.
  • Challenges predators.
  • Breaks up fights.
  • Herds others away from danger.
  • Motivates lazy or resistant individuals.
  • Socializes adolescents to use power appropriately.
  • Directs group members toward common goals.
  • Protects valuable resources from those who would take advantage.

 

Living and Working with Dominants

Until I learned to work effectively with dominant horses, I had no idea how to use this role constructively, let alone how to help naturally dominant humans transform their tempestuous power into a conscious, relationship-enhancing force.

 

The following four “power principles” will help you handle aggressive energy with dignity and poise, while forging stronger, mutually supportive relationships with naturally dominant people and animals:

 

Power Principle One

Pay attention to body posture and breathing, using both as nonverbal communication.

Power Principle Two

Distinguish between setting boundaries and motivating others, using the assertiveness formula to employ power as needed.

Power Principle Three

Do not take dominance games personally.

Power Principle Four

Resist the temptation to enlist a Dominant to compensate for others’ avoidance of this role. Instead, coach all staff in the appropriate use of power.

 

# # #

 

The author of the bestseller The Tao of Equus, Linda Kohanov speaks and teaches internationally. She established Eponaquest Worldwide to explore the healing potential of working with horses and offer programs on everything from emotional and social intelligence, leadership, stress reduction, and parenting to consensus building and mindfulness. She lives near Tucson, Arizona and her website is eponaquest.com.

 

Excerpted from the book The Five Roles of a Master Herder: A Revolutionary Model for Socially Intelligent Leadership. Copyright © 2016 by Linda Kohanov. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.newworldlibrary.com

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02 Dec

DOGEN: THE LOST GENIUS OF ZEN

Guest post by Brad Warner, author of IT CAME FROM BEYOND ZEN!

 

I first heard of Dogen when I was about 19 or 20 years old. I am 53 now. So, I’ve been acquainted with Dogen for most of my life. Dogen was a Japanese Buddhist monk and writer who lived around 800 years ago, from the year 1200 to 1254. He was barely older than I am now when he died.

 

When I first heard of Dogen, I assumed I was a latecomer. I figured that the people of Japan had read and studied Dogen’s philosophy for the past 800 years. I assumed that Dogen’s ideas were part of Japan’s national philosophical identity.

 

Nope. For about 700 years, Dogen’s writings were barely known even in Japan. A few very scholarly monks and historians read and studied his writings. But most people had no idea what he wrote. Oh, they knew he wrote stuff. It’s just that very few people had read any of it.

 

However, Dogen also started a temple and monks from that temple started other temples. After a while, there were a lot of temples associated with Dogen. These temples became very popular and influential.

 

Dogen also taught a style of meditation called “just sitting” or shikantza in Japanese.

 

The “just” in “just sitting” isn’t like the “just” in “just sitting around.” The Chinese character used to represent the word I’m translating as “just” also means “to hit,” like “to hit a nail right at the center of its head.” So, when Dogen said “just sitting” he meant doing nothing else when sitting meditation except sitting. You weren’t supposed to meditate on anything. You weren’t supposed to try to gain anything through your meditation. You weren’t trying to become calm, or centered, or mindful. You were supposed to completely devote yourself to the simple act of sitting, completely absorb yourself in doing nothing at all but sitting.

 

And a lot of people in Japan took his advice and sat for the sake of sitting alone. It wasn’t exactly a popular activity. But enough people did it that we can say that Dogen’s style of practice became an important aspect of Japanese culture.

 

Still, even though some of them sat, very few people in Japan read what Dogen wrote. And no one outside of Japan had any idea he even existed.

 

In 1633, about 400 years after Dogen died, Japan closed its borders to outsiders. Very few people could come in or out of Japan. The nation deliberately isolated itself from the rest of the world. In 1865, the American Commodore Perry forced Japan to open itself to international trade. This began what is called the Meiji Restoration. The film The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, is about this time. It’s a fairly accurate movie, but Tom Cruise was not actually there.

 

Japan suddenly realized it was very much behind the rest of the world. Those Americans had weapons that were way beyond anything most Japanese people had ever seen. They realized that, in this age of colonization, they were incredibly vulnerable to being taken over by a more advanced foreign power. They knew that they needed to modernize fast.

 

This also led Japanese people to try to find Japanese things that were as good as similar things in Europe and America, so that they could prove that Japan was worthy to stand with the mighty powers of Europe and the Americas.  So, they started to look more closely at their own art and literature, as well as at Japanese philosophy and religion. There was a nationwide push to discover the best that Japan had to offer to the outside world.

 

In 1925 a scholar named Tetsuro Watsuji published a book called Shamon Dogen (the Monk Dogen). In this book, he presented Dogen as one of Japan’s most important philosophers. This led to a widespread rediscovery of Dogen’s work in Japan. For the first time in 700 years earlier, ordinary Japanese people started to read Dogen’s writings. And for the first time ever, they began presenting Dogen to the rest of the world.

 

What they discovered in Dogen’s writings surprised many people. Here are a couple of examples of interesting ideas from Dogen’s writings.

 

 

Dogen did not believe in miracles, but he did not deny them either.

 

Many religions are based on the idea that miracles can sometimes occur. For example, Jesus changed water into wine, walked on water, and was raised from the dead. Christians believe these miracles are evidence that Jesus was divine. Because Jesus was divine, they say, his words must be true.

 

You might have heard that Buddha was originally not considered to be a prophet or a god or any kind of divine being. That’s true. But, as Buddha’s legend grew and his teachings were translated into new languages and introduced to new cultures, many Buddhists came to believe Buddha performed miracles.

 

Dogen believed that all things in the universe are subject to the law of cause and effect. So, even if something that seems like a miracle occurred, Dogen believed it was the result of some cause. He did not believe in supernatural forces that can make things happen without any cause.

 

However, when he talked to his students about this, he did not deny the supposed miracles of the Buddha. Instead, he said these were “small stuff miracles.” The bigger miracle is that there is a universe in which small miracles can occur. The existence of the universe itself is the great miracle. All other miracles are insignificant by comparison.

 

In my new book It Came from Beyond Zen, I try to express what Dogen says about Buddhist miracles by describing Christian miracles the way Dogen talks about Buddhist miracles. I write, “Jesus fed a multitude with two fishes and five loaves of bread, he raised Lazarus from the dead, and was himself raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. These are indeed great accomplishments. But they are examples of small-stuff miracles, not the big-time miracle. It is only because of the big-time miracle that such small-stuff miracles as the ones Jesus performed exist. Without the big-time miracle, even the most spectacular of small-stuff miracles could not occur. Jesus worked great wonders. But the greater wonder is that there is a world in which Jesus could have been born, that there is a universe in which that world exists, that you and I are alive to hear about his miracles. It is only the big-time miracle of existence itself that allows smaller miracles to occur.”

 

Dogen believed compassion is intuitive.

 

Dogen said that compassionate action is like someone reaching back for a pillow in the night.

 

It’s a very strange expression. Most of us think of compassion as a deliberate. We see a situation. We think about what is the compassionate thing to do about that situation. Then we do that thing.

 

To Dogen, compassion was not like that. Dogen thought that compassion was spontaneous. We don’t need to think about what to do. We follow our intuition and automatically do what is necessary.

 

Dogen also warned us against judging what others do as “not compassionate.”

 

Dogen said, “There’s a difference between nighttime as conceived of by a person during the day and the reality of the darkness on an actual night. You should also look into times that aren’t quite day but aren’t quite night, either.”

 

Day means times when it’s easy to see what the compassionate thing to do is. Like when you see a turtle on its back. The compassionate thing to do is turn it over. Easy.

 

Night in this case would mean times when you have no idea what the best thing to do is. Sometimes there is no clear-cut, easily identifiable way to be compassionate.

 

Then there are times that are neither day nor night. That means times when you might not know which among several options is really the compassionate one.

 

When Dogen says “nighttime as conceived by a person during the day,” I believe he ’s talking about the kinds of things where folks think they can see what somebody else ought to have done in a certain situation.

 

Sometimes we look at history and we think, “If I was alive at that time, I would have been better than those people!” Or we look at people in faraway countries and think, “If I was over there, I would do better things than those people!”

 

It’s easy for those of us in the “daylight” of a world at peace (at least our corner of it) to speculate about what those in the dark night of war ought to have done or what we would have done if we were there. But we weren’t there. So we have no idea what we would have done. In fact, our assumption that we know what we’d do in such a situation is the height of ignorance and arrogance.

 

It’s totally pointless to claim moral superiority in these kinds of speculative matters. It’s better to listen to what people who were actually in those situations have to say about it. Sometimes you can learn a lot by listening, even if you don’t always believe everything you’re hearing.

 

There is a big difference between real night and night as imagined by someone during the day.

 

In the end, we are not other people. We can only try to listen to our own intuition in the real situations that we encounter for ourselves. If we meditate every day, we will be able to listen to our own intuition more clearly. Then we can act with genuine compassion. And, when we do that, compassionate action is spontaneous like when you reach for a pillow in the night.

 

# # #

 

About the author
Brad Warner
is the author of It Came from Beyond Zen! and numerous other titles including Don’t Be a Jerk, Sit Down & Shut Up, and Hardcore Zen. A Soto Zen priest, he is a punk bassist, filmmaker, Japanese-monster-movie marketer, and popular blogger based in Los Angeles. Visit him online at www.hardcorezen.info.

 

Based on the book It Came from Beyond Zen! Copyright ©2017 by Brad Warner.  Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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02 Dec

Love and Health

An excerpt from The Forgotten Art of Love

Guest post by Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD

Who better than a cardiologist to unpack the many dimensions of love, the emotion that has long been depicted as emanating from the heart?

 

A comprehensive, multifaceted exploration into the nature of love is precisely what Dr. Armin A. Zadeh, who is both a cardiologist and a professor at Johns Hopkins University, offers in his new book entitled The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters.  We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Love not only helps us live more happily but also helps us live longer. Happy marriages are associated with better health, while tension in relationships increases stress and the risk of illness. An analysis of studies involving hundreds of thousands of people suggests that maintaining good social relationships is associated with lower mortality. Conversely, social isolation ranks among the most significant physical and lifestyle risk factors for mortality, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.

 

This association does not prove causality: we can’t tell whether the boost to longevity comes from the relationship itself or from other factors associated with a relationship. For example, it is conceivable that being married contributes to better health by encouraging better diet or hygiene. It is also possible that healthier people or those with fewer unhealthy habits, such as drug or alcohol abuse, may be more likely to get married in the first place, thus skewing the analysis. Yet studies that controlled for these factors have shown similar results for lower mortality in happily married people.

 

On the other hand, unhappiness is associated with many types of organ dysfunction and disease. Even brief angry outbursts have now been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks. One study of immunity among socially isolated people showed that they had poorer immune function and greater stress levels than those with many social contacts.

 

In the extreme case, stress can lead to health crises. We have recently learned that acute emotional stress can lead to actual heart failure — a serious illness known as broken heart syndrome, which is now regularly identified in medical centers around the world. While the exact mechanisms leading to weakening of the heart muscle remain unclear, we know that high levels of certain stress hormones, which are released in response to a devastating breakup or personal loss, or extreme fear or anxiety, may trigger the syndrome. Fortunately, many patients recover after a few weeks.

 

A large body of evidence suggests that love has a direct effect on a vast array of biological functions. A loving relationship fosters the release of the hormone oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin has a variety of purposes and is probably best known for its release after childbirth to foster bonding between mother and baby. Oxytocin is also implicated in attachment during relationships and many other human interactions. It has antidepressive effects that are being investigated for clinical use. Of particular interest is the discovery that oxytocin may decrease the levels of the hormone cortisol. Changes in cortisol levels are associated with sleep deprivation and physical and emotional stress, and cortisol has a well-known weakening effect on our immune system. It may, therefore, not be surprising that happy relationships are associated with lower rates of sickness.

 

Good emotional health leads to good physical health. And just as good physical health requires us to exercise, acquiring good emotional health also requires training. Emotional health “workouts” may include regular, conscious efforts to focus on love and relationships while deemphasizing material or career goals. As with physical exercise, it may take months or years of devoted practice to get into good emotional shape. This is because less healthy thinking patterns acquired early in life tend to be reinforced over years or even decades, making them difficult to reverse.

 

At any given moment we have the choice of allowing our thoughts and actions to be moved by impulses such as anger, frustration, jealousy, and boredom, or overcoming these impulses and acting out of love. If we choose love, we immediately feel a sensation of calm and peace, and things seem different. It works instantly and predictably. It is ironic that our society yearns for instant gratification and pursues various strategies for achieving instant wealth and fame — which essentially never work — while the immediate reward of a happy mind is instantly available to everybody but often not recognized.

 

Life is about balance. While we cannot control our genes or all the things that happen to us, we can help ourselves a lot by nurturing both our mind and our body and by placing a stronger emphasis on love. This undertaking requires focus and devotion, but the results are impressive. Devoting time to the art of love is a smart investment. Not only do we directly foster our own happiness, but we also support our health and chances of a longer, better life.

 

# # #

 

Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD, is the author of The Forgotten Art of Love. He is a professor at Johns Hopkins University with doctoral degrees in medicine and philosophy as well as a master’s degree in public health. As a cardiologist and a scientist, Dr. Zadeh knows, from first-hand experience, about the close relationship between heart disease and the state of the mind. Visit him online at www.theforgottenartoflove.com.

 

Excerpted from the book The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters. Copyright ©2017 by Armin A. Zadeh. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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