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17 Apr

REVEALING THE REAL YOU IN LOVE

The Letter Code CoverAn excerpt taking from The Letter Code: Deciphering Why You Love the Way You Love

By Dr. Krystal White, Ph.D
Go to www.thelettercode.com/resources to take the quiz and find out what YOUR letter is.

You know the feeling of being completely yourself, unencumbered and free. It feels like a peaceful contentment. We all want relationships, especially romantic partnerships, where we can be intimately and positively connected to our significant others and be our true selves at the same time. We need to find our own centers to achieve this dynamic. Feeling successful in our relationships is reliant on our ability to uncover and respond to our hidden core love needs.

If you’re like me, you live in a complicated world and find yourself to be rather complicated, too. Being “authentic” is not as easy as it sounds. You need to shift through lots of detail on the surface to quickly get to the simple, real you underneath all the roles, responsibilities, and rules you have adopted. Your letter code is a hack for deciphering all this superficial stuff to get to the most essential way you genuinely connect with your significant others.

Your letter code reveals the basic need you are seeking to fulfill in love—and have been all your life—although you may not have known it. It dictates how you fundamentally relate to your romantic partners and explains the reason why. Everybody has a combination of needs that, when met, facilitate them in clicking with their partner. The love connection just flows when this occurs.

You know this clicking when you feel it. It happens when you are loving from your real code and not a false one. Staying close to your code— your real center of love—will quickly reduce how much effort you put forth to connect, and it will increase your experience of being in the right place to feel love.

In this book, you will be guided to classify your behavior, feelings, and thoughts into their most essential form. Knowing our codes helps us quickly translate and communicate our real selves to the significant others we’d like to love better.

People have only one of four main romantic love profiles that explains their patterns of connectivity. The needs that underlie each of these profiles are recognizable and easy to understand. The four letter codes represent essential patterns of thought, feeling, and actions. These are expressed in how emotionally close or distant people like to be in relationship with their significant others. They also help us decipher the degree to which we seek either autonomy or support from them.

Under different circumstances, some people need either to move emotionally closer to their partners or emotionally away from their partners. Other people don’t need to move at all, needing instead to remain grounded, while either standing together or standing apart. Each of these four behavioral styles conveys how people achieve connectivity with their significant others.

In this book, I’m giving you a quick tool for understanding the four main types of psychological needs driving how we love. Without psychobabble or spending time trying to deduce the origins of your profile, I’m going to give you quick, user-friendly information on how much support, togetherness, groundedness, and separation you naturally need in your love life to click with a partner.

How to feel fulfilled, happy, and aligned with a significant other may have been hidden to you up to now. But I want you to be able to see the real you in love. Knowing your letter code has the potential to powerfully change the way you love from here on out.

You Get the Picture

 

Consider the body language when two people approach one another in greeting. Some people lean in, some people stand upright, and some lean away. Some people even want to be so close that they are practically standing on top of one another.

These physical patterns are like the lines making up letters in an alphabet. Imagine that each person’s body is a straight line. Lines join together to make a letter, just as two adults connect together to form a couple. Being able to read the letters is a hack that can help you quickly understand yourself.

It is not possible to accurately discern anybody’s relationship needs purely from observing the way he or she approaches others. What you see is not what you get. But you can decipher your own core needs in a relationship by examining what’s beneath your patterns of feeling, thinking, wanting, and behaving in love.

The reason to do this is because you can’t change what you can’t see. Once you can see your letter code, you’ll be more effective in connecting with others while being the real you.

The Different Ways We Touch

Looking at how the lines of our energy and behavior touch and connect reveals commonalities and differences in our core needs in relationship.

 

Leaning In

Some people need to lean into a relationship, wanting to establish a mutually supportive connection. If this feels right for you, you want not only to assist your partner, but to also lift her up emotionally. You want both of you to be there to help each other when vulnerable, and receive a significant degree of support from the connection. Without this consistent support, you will feel that something just isn’t right. You may feel slight unease, disappointment, or frustration—perhaps assuming that you are being taken for granted or mistreated. Or you could feel self-judgmental, becoming dissatisfied with yourself for not being enough or doing well enough to have earned and received the support you wanted.

You may be a person who naturally needs a significant degree of emotional vulnerability. You appreciate it when you are needed; and if you are being honest with yourself, you like it when you can trust it is safe for you to need someone. Getting this need met provides you with an essential sense of stability.

Leaning Back

Some people need to lean back from a relationship, wanting to diverge from their significant others. If this sounds like you, there are times when you will seek to go into a completely different direction from your significant other. You  need periodic diversion away from being a couple in order to feel satisfied. Leaning away occasionally, or even frequently, gives you space to reflect on your own life, to feel more gratitude for the relationship, and to bring vitality and renewed passion back to your relationship.

If your partner does not like or genuinely value this type of leaning away, you may feel frustrated, ashamed, or guilty of your desire. You may establish destructive habits to gain this freedom or to repress your need for it. Neither is an ideal solution. By contrast, if you can lovingly express your need to have separate experiences and your partner is willing to embrace your need, as a couple you may discover that adventures external to your partnership actually brings integrity to the relationship.

Standing Side by Side

Some people feel a need to be grounded and upright. They prefer to touch in ways where each person isn’t required to lean in to connect. They prefer to stand side by side in love. If this sounds like you, you tend to find purpose in maintaining a solid, rooted foundation. You feel fulfilled by being steadfast in your commitments, and you value a strong work ethic. You view relationships as partnerships where two people care about each other’s wellbeing and take responsibility for themselves as well. It feels important to you to see eye to eye with your partner and to function as equals.

Reaching Out

Some people are looking for companionship from their significant others. Companionship provides a bridge of connection between otherwise separate entities. If you deeply appreciate it when your partner reaches out to you in reciprocity to enjoy common interests, tasks/projects, activities, and experiences, this may be your preferred dynamic. Sharing and collaborating is a link to your significant other that provides a clear way for you to enhance your mutual pleasure.

Focus on Yourself First

In the next four chapters, you’re going to learn how to decipher your personal letter code and hidden relationship needs. It doesn’t matter if you are in a long-term relationship, such as a marriage, or if you are only casually dating right now. In either case, you have built-in, natural ways of joining your life with a person you genuinely want to love. Once you know your core need and can more easily see it behind your thoughts, emotions, and actions, then you can start to build (or rebuild) your love life from a foundation of empowered awareness rather than false interpretations.

Each letter code visually represents the type of relationship a person is either consciously or unconsciously trying to create according to his or her personal motivation. Understand your letter code and you’ll be clued in about your innermost need.

 

Beware! Trying to guess your significant other’s letter code could lead to disconnection. Remember, these needs are mostly hidden from us. We can spend many years superficially reading our relationships one way, while the truth of what we need is completely the opposite. You’ll get much better results if you work on deciphering your own motivation first before you try to guide your significant partner to decode his/her own needs.

 

Focus on yourself. That often serves as a powerful tool to influence others to do the same.

 

 

KRYSTAL WHITE, Ph.D., is a leadership psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, organizations, and communities.

 

Dr. White holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a board certified child and adolescent psychologist, and has completed a medical fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in developmental pediatric psychology. She also holds a master’s degree in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in mind, brain, and education from Harvard University.

 

For more information, please visit www.thelettercode.com and www.drkrystalwhite.com or connect with Dr. White on Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

The Letter Code is available on Amazon, www.thelettercode.com, and wherever books are sold.

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24 Mar

Sleep Your Worries Away

by Lissa Coffey

What’s keeping you up at night? Chances are it is worry. Let’s face it, in our hectic lives there’s always something to worry about, even if it’s the state of the world. Worry can contribute to insomnia, or trouble falling asleep. Worry can also cause what is called “maintenance insomnia” or difficulty in staying asleep. This is when we wake us up in the middle of the night, and then have a problem getting back to sleep.

 

Why does worry affect our sleep so much? During the day we might have all the same worries – but we’re engaged in other activities that take the mind elsewhere. At night, when it is quiet and the mind isn’t distracted, all those same worries come to the forefront of the mind, and we can’t seem to quiet them. It is important to give ourselves that “wind down” time to help settle the mind before hitting the sheets. Read, meditate, listen to soft music, or take a warm bath. And of course, make sure your mattress is supportive and comfortable as this is the key to having a cozy bed to climb into.

 

Worrying is nothing new. It happens to everyone, all over the world. Generations ago, the indigenous people of Guatemala created “Worry Dolls” as a remedy for their stress. These are tiny dolls, hand-crafted with fabrics from Mayan costumes twisted and tied around little pieces of wood and wire. It is all held in place with colorful yarn, which makes up the doll’s head, hair, feet and hands. At just two inches high, the dollars are small enough to tuck under a pillow. The tradition is that when worrying keeps you awake, you tell your worries to the doll, who then does the worrying for you so that you can sleep peacefully through the night.

 

This is the traditional story of how the worry dolls came about, and it is a wonderful way to introduce worry dolls to children to help them get to sleep.

 

The Worry Dolls

 

In the hills of Guatemala there lived an old man, his daughter, Flora, and Flora’s two children Maria and Diego. Their home was a small hut made out of mud and wood. The grandfather was a farmer, as many of his ancestors were, and as he taught his own family to be. One year there was a terrible drought. Without enough rain the crops could not grow well, and they had very little food.

 

The whole family would wake up with the sun and tend to the fields in the hope that the rain would come. Then Maria and Diego would go to school for the day. At night, Flora would make tortillas for dinner with what corn they had, and then weave colorful cloth to sell at the market. Grandfather would tell the children stories before tucking them into their hammocks at bedtime. One of the children’s favorite stores was about a magical doll that could grant wishes.

 

One night a robber snuck in and stole all of Flora’s cloth, everything she had worked so hard to make over many months. She cried that she had nothing to sell at the market and didn’t know how the family would get the money they needed.

 

The next day Flora came down with a fever, and Maria knew that she had to do something to help. She got an idea. She went through her mother’s weaving basket and found scraps of fabric in odd colors and shapes. She brought the basket outside, and told her brother to collect small twigs for her. With the scraps of cloth and the twigs Diego and Maria got to work. They worked late into the night, and kept their project a secret. When they ran out of cloth they saw that they had made dozens of tiny dolls in tiny clothes. Maria hoped that these dolls would be magical like the one in her Grandfather’s story.

 

That night Maria lined up a few of the dolls and spoke to them of her worries: “My little friends, we need your help. My family is in trouble. The fields are dry, my mother is sick, and we have no food or money. Please help us. Good night.” She placed the dolls lovingly under her pillow and lay down to sleep. Maria slept well that night, confident that the dolls would somehow help her.

 

In the morning, Maria and Diego packed up all the dolls and walked a very long way to the market. The family was so poor that the children didn’t even have sandals, they had to walk barefoot. When they finally got to the market they found that it was crowded with people. They had never sold at the market before, and she had never seen anyone else sell tiny dolls there, but she was determined that her plan would work. The two finally found a good spot near a shoe seller.

 

Maria and Diego laid the dolls on the sidewalk. The shoe seller saw them and wondered by anyone would want such tiny dolls. Marie explained that there was magic in the dolls. The shoe seller just laughed and said that the magic in his shoes doesn’t help them to sell. Marie was firm and said: “We shall see.”

 

It was a long day, and no one had bought any of the dolls. The children we getting sad, and worried. As Maria was packing up the dolls to go home, a man in fine clothes and a large hat came by and asked what they were selling. Diego piped up: “These little dolls.”

 

“Magic dolls!” Maria corrected her brother.

 

The man looked impressed. “Well, I could use a little magic. I’ll take all of them!”

 

Maria and Diego excitedly wrapped up the dolls for the man, who then handed them a stack of money, without asking the price. Maria thanked him and the man was gone before Maria could say anything more. She counted the money and found that there was enough for the family to live on for a year.

 

The two bought some food at the market and then excitedly headed for home to tell their mother and grandfather the news.

 

“We sold the dolls we made!” Diego exclaimed.

 

“Magic dolls!” Maria emphasized, and she told them the whole story.

 

“This doesn’t sound like any magic,” Flora said to her children, “It sounds like you worked hard and it paid off.”

 

“Ah,” the grandfather chimed in, “but you are feeling much better, Flora, how do you explain that?”

 

“And look! It’s raining!” Diego jumped up and pointed to the fields. Sure enough, it was raining and the fields were getting the water they needed. The drought was over.

 

That night as Maria got ready for bed, she noticed something in her pocket. She reached in to find a pouch that contained the same dolls she had slept with under her pillow the night before. She was surprised because she was sure she sold all of the dolls to the man. Inside the pouch was a little note that read: “Tell these dolls your secret wishes. Tell them your problems. Tell them your dreams. And when you awake, you may find the magic within you to make your dreams come true.”

 

For lots of great sleep tips visit The Better Sleep Council: www.BetterSleep.org

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911002/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/too-early-to-get-up-too-late-to-get-back-to-sleep

http://blog.shamansmarket.com/the-legend-of-the-worry-dolls/

 

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19 Mar

Why Buddha Never Had Alzheimer’s

Guest post by Dr. Sen

Meditation has come a long way since its primordial moments in the deep recesses of a forest, where ancient sages practiced this art as a way of life. From the teachings of Buddha to the research-laden laboratories of Ivy League institutes, it has taken a groundbreaking journey, offering one blessing after another. Scientific tests run by the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard Medical School, among others across the globe, are both testimony and tribute to the endless potential of meditation.

Modern medical management adamantly follows strict, evidence-based findings. Nothing is considered standard unless it is held in our palms and felt. Any proposed advance must follow formal research protocols. A hypothesis is stated; the hypothetical drug and a placebo are given to “active” and “control” groups, respectively, and the results of each are compared. If tests show significant benefits reached through statistical analysis, the drug goes through further trials before being considered therapeutic. Oddly enough, considering its philosophical origins, meditation has gone through identical research routes. The screaming headlines from various universities, much of which has been published in various journals, cannot be ignored. Meditation is being increasingly recognized as a powerful management tool for a variety of mental ailments. Specifically, it has emerged as a comprehensive therapy for minds affected by stress, depression, loss of memory, and other behavioral disorders.

 

“Prevention is better than cure,” said Desiderius Erasmus. Allow me to take the next step, bend the Dutch philosopher’s quote, and re-write it as follows: Prevention is the mother of all cure. Allow me to take you back to way before the fatherhood of Hippocrates, before any medical pedigree was created, to days of patient care when resources were scarce and ideas quite stilted, when diseases flourished and death wooed at will. How did the “doctors” address suffering in those days? How much was prevention, and how much was treatment? It is amazing how many scholarly, emotional, and financial resources we have delivered since then and continue to deliver in the cure of human suffering.

Yet how little do we invest in understanding the birth and development of a brewing disease before its obvious visibility. We doff our hats to the incredible discoveries pouring in from all corners of science. In cancer, for example, since the advent of nitrogen mustard (one of the first anti-cancer drugs), through the numerous permutations and combinations of chemotherapeutic drugs, radiation, and radioimmunotherapy, to the present surplus market of monoclonal antibodies—we have been hurling anything and everything at cancer that is at our disposal. Despite all these remarkable innovative strides, patients continue to succumb to the disease.

If you dig in the mud, you will know the reason. All these drugs and procedures are truly lifesaving, except that when patients present with signs and symptoms of cancer, the disease has already traversed many miles. It is common knowledge that at this advanced stage, any malignancy is meant to be recalcitrant, not by choice, but by definition. Once the blood or lymph nodes or the nerves pick up the mutated process from the primary organ affected, we are looking at a potential disaster. Reins at this moment will fail to harness the beast, which has been let loose and is determined to kill. The problem lies in our approach. We scientists are hunting for a light that is actually hunting for us. We are grappling with the trunk of a tree, when the roots are being left untouched.

When it comes to healing Alzheimer’s disease, we face an identical crisis. Can scientists detect a pathology at its very inception? Can they diagnose the disease when only a hint exists? Along with our intellectual aggression to develop new cures, we must foster an equivalent fervor to capture the disease before it can mature. In order to do that, we need to remove the rust that has collected in the arts of diagnosis that used to be considered masterpieces. We need to start all over again, as students of truth, with the belief that permanence of any solution lies in the prevention of that very problem. Meditation and yoga, as well as spirituality and other holistic approaches offer the promise of such permanence in the art of their practice. They brew well before organs mature, and linger long after they wither. They become priceless accompaniments in our striving for a disease-free sojourn through life.


Shuvendu Sen, MD, is Director, Medical education, and Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program at Raritan Bay Medical Center, Meridian Hackensack University. Dr. Sen has been named to America’s Best Physicians, as well as many national and regional awards for received the Oscar E. Edwards Award from the American College of Physicians, as well as many national and regional awards for research, teaching, and community contribution.

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23 Feb

Strengthen the Higher Self

An excerpt from Feed Your Soul by Carly Pollack

There are countless diets, cleanses, and 30-day challenges all geared to help people lose weight, heal their digestion, and feel more energy. Yet, these temporary protocols fall short when it comes to true transformation. With all of the nutrition guidance available, why do millions of people weigh more than they want and feel anxious and depressed about it?

 

Nutrition expert Carly Pollack lived this vicious cycle until trial and error, and over a decade of academic study and self-healing, led her to the incredible insights she’s shared with thousands. In Feed Your Soul: Nutritional Wisdom to Lose Weight Permanently and Live Fulfilled, she presents her unique understanding of body science, brain wiring, and spiritual principles to facilitate real, long-term change. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

 

# # #

 

Before you can regain control of your thoughts, beliefs, and emotional state, you must first take a closer look at your internal guidance system. Two different voices are guiding you, and although they both sound like you, one is a much pushier, more obnoxious version and therefore steals most of your attention. This loud voice comes from your monkey mind, which I simply call the “mind” and many spiritual teachers call the “ego.”

 

The mind developed as a way to protect us; it was a means of survival. It helped us avoid danger and kept us alive by continually warning us of what could go wrong. As we have evolved as a species, the mind, sadly, has not. Think of it as an outdated computer that drives you crazy more than it helps you get things done. Now, I’m not saying the mind doesn’t step up in life-or-death situations. I’m talking about the other 99.999 percent of the time here.

 

The mind creates chaos through fear, judgment, comparison, and negativity. Its favorite diatribe is the one that convinces us of scarcity. We aren’t pretty, skinny, or rich enough. There isn’t enough time in the day, there aren’t enough good people in the world, and we don’t have enough willpower to make things happen. Whatever the heck it is, there just isn’t enough of it!

 

The mind’s second favorite story is that something is happening or has happened to us that “shouldn’t be” happening (or “shouldn’t have” happened). It convinces us that we aren’t supposed to have problems — and when we do, the mind creates massive suffering. The mind is excellent at dress-rehearsing a worst-case scenario. It finds a way to judge and blame as much as possible. If you aren’t judging someone else, then you are judging yourself. This constant uninvited commentary is the background of your every waking moment. From the minute you open your eyes to the moment your head hits the pillow, your mind does not shut up. Yeah, mind, I’m calling you out big-time, and I’m telling you to take a backseat; and PS, nobody likes you.

 

Luckily, there is a second guiding voice, and this one comes from your heart and soul, otherwise referred to as your intuition, true self, or inner wisdom. I like to call this voice my “higher self” because it triggers me to think about what I would say to myself if I were holding myself in the highest regard. Find a name for this place of wisdom that feels good to you, and begin to call on this voice to take the upper hand. Your higher self comes through in a whisper, a gentle guidance. It is always kind, compassionate, and loving. This voice lives only in the present moment, and it is available to us anytime we can quiet the mind enough to hear it. From this place, we are never arguing with “what is” because we are living in the moment, making new decisions as they arise.

 

Close your eyes right now (well, after you read these instructions) and place your right hand on your belly and your left hand over your heart. Take three slow, deep breaths. Now ask yourself gently, “What does my higher self have to say about this issue?” If you don’t hear anything right away, simply say, “I’m willing to slow down my mind and make room for my highest wisdom to come through.”

 

Because your mind has taken center stage for most of your life, it may take some practice to get your higher self to begin speaking up. Next time you are in a place of mental anguish, prompt yourself with the following questions:

 

  • What would I tell my best friend in this situation? What would be my sage advice?
  • Could this mean something different? What if the opposite of what I’m thinking is true?
  • What would love do? What would love say?
  • What do I think my future self (twenty years from now) would tell me about this problem or situation?

 

Listening to your higher self is the first step to taking back control from the mind. Witnessing your thoughts without giving in to them, while stepping back and deciding what you choose to think, is one of the most powerful tools you have for living a joyful life. If you control your mind, you control your plate. If you control your plate, you take back control of your body and your health.

 

# # #

 

Carly Pollack is the author of Feed Your Soul and is the founder of Nutritional Wisdom, a thriving private practice based in Austin, Texas. A Certified Clinical Nutritionist with a master’s degree in holistic nutrition, Carly has been awarded Best Nutritionist in Austin five years running and has helped over 10,000 people achieve their health and happiness goals. Visit her online at www.carlypollack.com

 

Excerpted from the book Feed Your Soul. Copyright ©2019 by Carly Pollack. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

 

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17 Dec

Heal Yourself with Ayurveda: The Science of Life

Ayurveda is India’s 5,000 year old “Science of Life.” It is the art of living in harmony with nature, and it explains the nature of everything in the universe. When we learn about Ayurveda, we learn about ourselves, how we “tick,” and how we can be our healthiest and happiest at all times.

Ayurveda teaches us to live life in balance. And it helps us to find exactly what that balance is for each one of us. We learn individual strategies for diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Since health is more than the physical, it is also mental, emotional, and spiritual, Ayurveda can be used to help us create and maintain healthy relationships. It can help us to better understand ourselves, and the people in our lives. We can work with our natural strengths to help balance each other out. We can stop trying to “change” others to fit our needs, and instead accept a person’s characteristics as a part of their wholeness, and honor who they are.

Ayurvedic principles can be applied to our work and career, to help us find and live our dharma, or purpose in life. They can help us with our family lives, in parenting, and to help resolve conflicts. Ayurveda is a lifestyle that shows us how to take care of ourselves, in a simple, practical, and loving way.

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to balancing body, mind and spirit. The ayurvedic system divides people into three basic mind-body types, or ‘’doshas’’: vata, pitta and kapha. We each have all three doshas in our physiology, just in different proportions. Your dosha is individual to you, just like a fingerprint. Start by taking the quiz, just 24 quick questions, to determine what your dosha is. This is a general introduction to Ayurveda.

Vata dosha types are known for their lanky frames, picture Keira Knightley, or Adrien Brody. They tend to be pranksters, like Ashton Kutcher, or spontaneous cut-ups like Cameron Diaz and Will Smith.

Pitta dosha types are ambitious and intense, which explains Madonna’s multi-tasking career. And they can be critical, like Simon Cowell. Pittas are also muscular, and make good athletes, like Mia Hamm, and Kobe Bryant.

Kapha dosha types are down-to-earth and easy-going. Think Tom Hanks, and Liv Tyler. Kaphas have beautiful big eyes and lips, like Angelina Jolie, and rich, velvety voices like Placido Domingo and Beyonce.

When you know your dominant dosha you gain insight into how your mind and body naturally operate. Because westerners have embraced the practice of yoga, we are now starting to explore Ayurveda. In India, the practice of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda are intertwined. They are sister-sciences that complement each other. They are synergistic, working better when practiced together.

I started living the Ayurvedic lifestyle while I was researching my first book: “The Healthy Family Handbook: Natural Remedies for Parents and Children.” One of the healing modalities that I explored in the book was Ayurveda, and the more I learned about it, the more it resonated with me. I have studied with Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, Dr. Vasant Lad, and many other renown physicians in the field of Ayurveda. And I went to India to learn more about Ayurveda first hand. My book, “What’s Your Dosha, Baby? Discover the Vedic Way for Compatibility in Life and Love” is the first and only book about Ayurveda and relationships. And now I have a brand new 8 week course that I am doing in partnership with Daily Om: “Heal Yourself with Ayurveda.” Throughout the course, which includes text and video, you will learn everything you need to know to get started living an Ayurvedic lifestyle and be on your way to a life of balance and bliss.

For more information, and to sign up for the course: “Heal Yourself with Ayurveda” click here.

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21 Nov

Taking Care of Our Health and Our Healthcare

The headline in today’s Los Angeles Times caught my eye: “Healthcare insurers get upper hand.” The article is written by Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger. You don’t have to read the paper every day to know that the healthcare system in the United States is a mess. We’re all living it every time we go to see a doctor or fill a prescription. We can’t keep going the way we’ve been going, there has to be some sort of a change. Unfortunately, the kinds of changes that the insurance companies are proposing just might make things worse instead of better. Linda Blumberg, a health policy analyst at the nonpartisan Urban Institute says that the insurance companies are going to have a very stable pool of customers, “…people getting subsidies to help them buy coverage and… they [insurance companies] will be paid the full costs of the benefits that they provide – plus their administrative costs.”

Einstein famously said that a problem can’t be solved at the same level at which it was created. What created this healthcare crisis was greed. The greed of both the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies.

How much of our insurance dollar actually goes towards insurance? That’s got to be a well-kept secret. I haven’t heard anyone talk about this yet. About 10% of every monthly premium goes to the agent who sold you the policy. And then another chunk, probably 20%, goes to the “general agent” or broker who the first agent has to go through to get to the insurance company. Before we even get to the entity that is providing the coverage we have to go through two middle-men. And these agents are doing quite well, indeed. Then the insurance company itself has tons of costs it has to build into our premiums, including all the paperwork and brochures they send us, and all the advertising they do to convince us that they are a reputable company. And of course, there’s the $35 million dollars that the health service and HMO sector spent in the first half of 2009 lobbying Congress, the White House, and federal healthcare offices. This figure came from the Center for Responsive Politics; I didn’t make it up!

Before my divorce, I had health insurance through my ex-husband’s company. I was able to keep the same policy for a little while through a plan they have called COBRA. But then I had to get my own policy, and I contacted an agent. My husband and I met with him one time, for about 20 minutes, to basically sign some papers and write a check. We kept the same policy for many years, even though the premiums went up every year. Every single month this agent of ours was making money off of us. For years we never saw him, or heard from him. Then when our premium went up another huge percentage, I called him to ask what our options were. He told me to look online, and gave me the insurance company’s website.

Now the insurance companies have all of their policies posted online so anyone can shop and compare for themselves. I figured out just how we could switch to a different plan and save some money, and called the insurance company direct. They told me I just had to write them a letter and they would take care of it. I didn’t need the agent to be involved. Then I pointed out that we had clearly eliminated the need for an agent, and hence, the need to continue to pay his monthly commission. I asked if I could have that commission discounted from my monthly premiums, they told me no, it doesn’t work that way. Isn’t this crazy? Even when the two middle-men do no work at all, they still make money every month! It doesn’t work that way for car insurance, or home-owner’s insurance, so why should this be the case for health insurance?

As intelligent people, we know that we are responsible for our own health. We strive to take care of ourselves, eating right, working out, keeping fit. But it seems that the health insurance companies are working against us. Most preventative care, like chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage, are not covered. Many times mental health care is not covered, or covered only up to a certain amount. Doesn’t it make more sense to do what we can to stay healthy, rather than spending tons of money trying to get our health back when we get stressed out and sick? And think of the money lost when we have to take sick days and miss work.

But then, people being sick benefits the pharmaceutical companies. They have all kinds of medications for all kinds of illnesses that are covered by the insurance companies. And just when we think we’re doing well, along comes a vaccine they promote that they insist we need to keep us from getting something else.

Doctors have sky high rates because they are forced to make deals with the insurance companies where they are paid a percentage of their fees. When you look at your “explanation of benefit” statement that comes in the mail from the insurance company, you’ll see what part of the charges are “allowed” and “not allowed” and what part goes toward your deductible. I don’t know how doctors can make much money when all is said and done. Many doctors now have set up “concierge” service, which means that you pay a monthly fee to be their patient. It’s a kind of secondary insurance. But do we really need that extra expense? Not me!

Obama has an uphill climb when it comes to healthcare reform. He’s the David and the insurance companies are the Goliath in this scenario. Gerald Shea of the AFL-CIO is hoping for a change, but knows that the insurance companies will fight every step of the way, with all of their power and all of their money. “They have us beaten six ways to Sunday. Any time we want to make a small change to provide cost relief, they find a way to make it more profitable.”

Health and Nutrition on CoffeyTalk

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12 Nov

How to Help End Hunger: Feed Your Mind

Food is huge right now. We’ve got The Food Network with programming around the clock, cookbooks flying off the shelves as people spend more time in the kitchen, and chefs are the new rock stars. And yet, for 1 in 8 people in the United States hunger is a reality. Worldwide the statistics are much worse. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, and one-third is starving. Approximately 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and about 8 million actually die from it each year.

September is Hunger Action Month. And there’s no better time to take action than right now. Feeding America, formerly named America’s Second Harvest, is one organization that is working hard to solve the hunger crisis. It is a network made up of individuals, local food banks, and national offices, as well as corporate and government partners. Feeding America secures food and grocery products on a national level and distributes as needed to local food banks. For every $1 donated, Feeding America provides 10 pounds of groceries to hungry people.

Many children in the United States rely on free or reduced-priced school lunches during the school year. And this is often the only meal they get each day. During weekends and school vacations these children go hungry. Feeding America has come up with the “BackPack Program” to help these kids. The program started at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in backpacks to carry home with them. Now the program serves more than 90,000 children each year.

Action Against Hunger is working on a global basis. Their program areas include nutrition, water and sanitation, food security, health and advocacy. They have started the Campaign to End Malnutrition. They say that the loss of life from malnutrition is all the more tragic because acute malnutrition is preventable, predictable, and cost-effective to treat. And they have a plan in place to save lives. Visit their website for all the details.

And while we’re online, there’s something we can do, once a day, everyday, to help eradicate world hunger. Just go to TheHungersite.com and click on the “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. Since June, 1999, more than 300 million visitors have given more than 657 million cups of staple food. The food funded by clicks is paid for by the site sponsors and distributed to those in need by Mercy Corps, Feeding America, and Millennium Promise. 100% of sponsor advertising fees go to the aid of hungry people around the world. Besides clicking the button, which costs visitors nothing, we can also help by shopping in The Hunger Site store. With each item purchased, shoppers generate funds for the hungry. The store offers a wide variety of items to show support as well as fair-traded and handcrafted items from around that world that help families and communities pull themselves out of the poverty and hunger cycle.

Here’s another innovative way to help solve the world food problem. I love it when I find a site where I can have fun, learn and also do something good for the world, and that’s just what I found at FreeRice.com. With freerice.com you play a game to improve your vocabulary. For every word you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to hungry people through the United Nations World Food Program. The game is challenging, even though it is multiple-choice. If you correctly guess the meaning of a word, you get a more difficult one next. If you get it wrong, you get an easier one. If you’re online playing games anyway, you might as well play this one. You’ll learn some new words, and help feed people in need at the same time.

Knowing about all the hungry people in the world gives us more reason to be grateful every time we sit down to eat. And now we can take action to help feed people every time we sit down at our computers. Every dollar counts, every click counts, every grain of rice counts to those who are hungry.

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23 Oct

Stress Much This Season?

‘Tis the season… for stress? NBC Dateline reports that 41% of people interviewed said that the holidays are as stressful as a job interview. In other words, “very stressful.” It’s not hard to imagine why this is the case. Besides our normal work schedule and routine, add to that the traditional holiday obligations: office parties, cooking, eating, shopping, wrapping, traveling, visiting and general socializing, and our capacity for stress tips the scales on the verge of overload.

Then of course, there’s the economy. A Los Angeles radio station does an annual poll of its listener’s resolutions. Every year “Get Fit” or “Lose Weight” ends up being the most popular goal. But this year “Get Out of Debt” ranked the highest. How do we reconcile this with the barrage of store catalogs and television ads broadcasting all the great deals we can get on all kinds of stuff? It’s enough to make a person cringe every time Jingle Bells plays in the grocery store.

We can’t fast forward through the season, even if we wanted to. But we can manage our stress, and find ways to relax and enjoy the beauty of this special time of year.

1. Fold your hands in prayer behind your back. When we get stressed we tend to tense up, and cave our chest in. This opens up our chest, so we can breathe more freely. Pull the shoulders back, tilt the head back, and breathe deeply.

2. Rub the circumference of each ear with your hands. Right hand rubbing the right ear and left hand rubbing the left ear. According to Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old Science of Life, there are marma points (like acupuncture points) in the ears that correspond to the various parts of the body. Rubbing the ears in this way is like giving yourself a little mini massage!

3. Stop and smell the flowers. Keep some lavender essential oil in your desk or purse. When you feel stressed, bring it out. Close your eyes and breathe in the fragrance. Count to 5. Then exhale through your mouth to the count of 5. According to Aromatherapy, lavender is very calming, and when we close our eyes it isolates the sense of smell so that we feel it more intensely.

4. Present moment awareness. Most of the time, when we’re stressed it is because we are living in either the future or the past. Bring yourself into present moment awareness by focusing on the now. Use your senses, which connect us to our environment. Hug yourself, to be more “in your body” instead of in your mind where the stress is. Look at something beautiful, a flower, a bird, the sky, and just be with that for a moment. Take a sip of sweet tea, and really taste it, and enjoy it. Be grateful in that moment, and stress just washes away. Gratitude and stress cannot be present at the same time!

5. Sit in your desk chair, or kitchen table chair – left foot on the floor, put your right ankle on your left knee, and learn forward with a stretch. Hold it as far as you can go, then bend forward a little more. This opens up your hips, and again balances that tensed up muscle feeling. Do each side equally.

6. Pay attention. Understand that it is our choice where we place our attention. We can look at the source of our stress, or we can look at the white snow, the blue sky, the green pines, the twinkling stars.

7. Release expectations. Simplify. Is it important to send out 100 cards with personal notes? Or would you be happier contacting a few close friends? Do you need to have the house decorated like something out of a magazine? Do you need to make a seven course meal? What expectations do you have of yourself, and of others? Rather than striving for perfection, allow things to just be, however they are. Know that whatever it is, it’s all good.

8. Remember these words: love, peace, joy. This is what the season is all about. When those other words creep into your consciousness, the ones that set off stress, replace them with what you know to be important: love, peace, joy.

Wishing you love, peace and joy this holiday season, and always.

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02 Oct

Health Care Reform And Mental Health Services

Years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), my life changed. I went from being a mother to also taking on the additional roles of advocate and mediator. In order to help my son get the help he needed and the services he was entitled to in school, I had to learn everything I could about the educational system, the healthcare system, and the law. It is a challenge, yet it is essential in order to work with teachers, administrators, doctors, and therapists as part of a team. I learned a lot, thanks in large part to an organization called CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders. This is a national, non-profit organization with local, volunteer-run chapters. Our local chapter held monthly meetings, which allowed parents to keep up with the various issues and changes. Most importantly, the meetings provided a forum for parents to network with each other and share experiences and resources.

We got over all the hurdles, and managed to get through the system despite the complexities. My son is in college now, and he has the tools to advocate for himself. But there are new kids coming up, and new parents who are starting from scratch to figure all of this out. Luckily, CHADD is still on it, providing us with the ongoing information we need to help our kids.

Following is an e-mail I received from CHADD regarding the current Healthcare Reform Legislation. I am happy to share it with you, and hoping that it will encourage all of us to look at the many children and families who will benefit from healthcare reform. To those of us working so diligently to take care of our children, this is most welcome, and long overdue.

“House of Representatives Passes
Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Legislation

Many Provisions Will Benefit
Children and Adults with AD/HD and Related Disorders

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive healthcare reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) by a vote of 220-215. It is expected that the full Senate will debate and vote on its version of the bill in the coming weeks, which will then be followed by the House and Senate having its leaders meet in a conference to reconcile differences and produce a final piece of legislation that can be sent to the President.

CHADD, through its membership in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Campaign for Mental Health Reform, and the Mental Health Liaison Group has sent letters to members of Congress in support of the bill. CHADD’s views on and support for healthcare reform legislation can be viewed on the Healthcare Reform 2009 webpage and CHADD’s Leadership Blog. CHADD has no position on many of the provisions contained in the legislation. The three primary disability coalitions CHADD participates in, believe there are significant key provisions warranting support of the legislation.

A few key provisions in the final House bill that will benefit children and adults with AD/HD and related disorders include:

* Requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, and mandating that most employers provide insurance to their employees, but also providing substantial federal subsidies to make coverage as affordable as possible;
* Providing coverage of critical services for people with disabilities in the new Health Insurance Exchange’s essential benefits package including behavioral health treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services in compliance with the Wellstone-Domenici parity law, rehabilitation and habilitation services, equipment and supplies for children under 21 years of age;
* Inclusion of “disability” as a category for purposes of health disparities;
* Inclusion of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a new national long term services insurance program to help adults with severe functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and a part of their communities; and
* Not allowing individual or group health insurance policies to establish lifetime or annual limits on the dollar value of benefits and the elimination of discrimination based on health status or a pre-existing condition.

CHADD continues to actively monitor developments in healthcare reform. Updated information on the legislation, CHADD’s 13 principles for healthcare reform, children’s mental health coalition’s five principles for healthcare reform and CHADD’s work with other partner coalitions can be viewed on CHADD’s website: http://www.chadd.org

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09 Sep

Surviving Suicide

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. It is heartbreaking to think that suicide is that pervasive of a problem in our society to warrant such a week. And yet it is. Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year. There are twice as many deaths from suicide as there are from HIV/AIDS. It is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year old Americans. And there are more than 800,000 attempted suicides every year.

Those are the statistics.

And then there are the stories.

Perhaps the worst thing about suicide is the pain that it causes to those left behind. These people are known as the survivors. And telling our stories can help us to heal from the trauma of this experience.

When Gia Allemand, the reality television star, took her own life last month, the topic of suicide became a part of a national discussion. Gia’s distraught mother spoke with Dr. Phil about her feelings, which echo that of many survivors.

Sometimes there are warning signs. And then sometimes the incident seems to come from out of nowhere. That’s how it was when I found out that my friend Ophir had died. I remember getting a phone call from our mutual friend Curt. He was in a state of disbelief as he had just gotten the news. It took a few phone calls to figure out exactly what had happened. Ophir had committed suicide.

I knew Ophir as an extremely talented and creative composer. We worked together on several music projects. We had a close friendship, and a great respect for each other. Ophir helped me bring my songs to life. When Ophir had a hernia operation, I had him stay at my home while he recovered.

I was aware that Ophir used drugs. I spoke with him about it many times, offering him alternatives and suggestions for a more healthy way of life. But he did not want to hear it. He did not want to talk about it. He always functioned perfectly well when we were working, and he assured me that he did not have a problem. When I heard that Ophir had died, I assumed it was an accidental overdose. But there was no accident about Ophir’s death. He planned it. He put a rifle in his mouth and shot himself.

Like most people do in this situation, I started asking myself all kinds of questions. What could I have done to prevent this? Why didn’t I see this was coming? What was so terrible that he had to do this? I felt awful, not only for myself, but for his family, everyone who loved him.

Suicide is such a violent act. It is terribly hurtful to everyone left behind with so many unanswerable questions. I don’t know what brought Ophir to his decision. I do know and recognize that although our relationship has changed, he is still very much a part of my life. I have the songs we wrote together on my websites. He taught me so much about music and the creative process. When certain songs come on the radio I am reminded of him, and his amazing energy, sweet smile, and sly sense of humor. His words still influence me. His music still moves me.

I know that the agreement that Ophir and I had was complete even before his death. There was no unfinished business between us. We learned from each other, both creatively and personally. At his funeral I met many others who felt the same way.

This was the second time that I had been affected by suicide. When I was around 11 years old, shortly after my parents’ divorce, my mother’s brother took his own life. He was a Vietnam veteran, and he became hooked on drugs while he was in the war. When he got home, he couldn’t handle normal life after seeing everything he saw in combat. His drug problem got worse, he would have hallucinations and he overdosed to escape the pain.

I saw how this shattered my mother and grandmother. He also left behind a wife and baby daughter. It was tragic. As a child I could sense how awful this was for everyone. And now as an adult I can see how my uncle’s life mattered. Even in the short time he was with us, he brought joy to his mother, and love to his family. He struggled with life, and he chose to die. But while he was here he lived, and he had the opportunities and experiences that allowed him to learn and grow. He may not have made the best choices, but they were his choices. In situations like this you have to get past the blame, and the guilt, and know that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. For whatever reason, this person took his own life. It is not rational, or logical, or right. But it is irreversible. And we learned by going through all of this together as a family.

Chaim Nissel, Psy.D., is the Director of Yeshiva University’s Counseling Center in New York City, and an expert with the American Association of Suicidology. He has this to say about coping with the loss of a loved one from suicide:

The death of a loved one by suicide has all the trappings of conventional grief plus a host of other intense, difficult and confusing emotions. These include feelings of guilt and responsibility, anger and blame and often a disconnect with the individual who killed himself. When we lose a loved one to cancer or AIDS, we accept the reality, feel the loss, grieve, yet we don’t blame ourselves. Following a suicide, it is hard to accept the reality that the individual chose death. We feel responsible and wonder, ‘If I had only… he’d be alive today.’ We would rather blame ourselves because it is difficult to place the responsibility where it belongs, on the individual who killed himself.

One who experiences the death of a loved one to suicide is fittingly called a ‘survivor.’ They must now learn to cope and survive their loss. Most survivors experience anger, guilt and emotional turmoil. There is often anger at the deceased for taking their own life, it is seen as selfish, because their pain ends, but the survivor’s pain begins. Guilt over what they could have and should have done to prevent it (although if the loved one wanted to die, they would have despite your interventions). We like to think that we can control events, but when another person is in such emotional pain that they want to die, the choice to kill themselves remains their choice, despite everything that you can and did offer them.

There is still tremendous stigma and shame associated with suicide and when the fact that one died by suicide is hidden or denied, it becomes so much more difficult to come to terms with it. When we try to ‘cover’ or pretend the death was accidental, it takes its toll on the survivors and will impact them the rest of their lives.

To help us find closure, Dr. Nissel has this advice:

— Talk about it! Find supportive people in your life who you can share your feelings with.

— Focus on the person’s life and the good memories you have of the person. Know that you will never truly know why he killed himself.

— Recognize that the person’s pain is over, now it’s time to start healing your own pain.

— Have answers prepared for when people ask questions. This will help reduce your anxiety and emotional reactions. You can say “he took his own life,” or, “died by suicide,” or, even “he suffered a long illness.” It someone is persistent, blaming or insensitive, you can say “it is too difficult to talk about right now,” and end the conversation.

— Know that you are not responsible for your loved one’s death, in any way. Only the individual who killed himself is responsible.

— Know that the likelihood is that the person was in such pain, for so long and now the suffering is over. 90 percent of those that die by suicide suffered from some form of mental illness, most commonly an affective disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder.

— Seek resources such as professional counseling, support groups and books.

— Being exposed to a suicide makes you somewhat more susceptible to suicidal thinking. If you are having thoughts of killing yourself, get help immediately by contacting a local psychologist or psychiatrist. If you feel you may act on these suicidal impulses, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) helps survivors of suicide. Actress Michelle Ray Smith, who played “Ava” on the daytime drama Guiding Light, talked about her father’s suicide in an interview with Soap Opera Digest magazine a few years back. She said that participating in AFSP’s “Out of the Darkness” event, an overnight 20-mile walk, helped her connect with people who had been through the same thing. “For the first time since he died — it’s been three years in September — I feel at peace.” Talking with people, sharing our stories, is one way that we can help each other to heal.

For more by Lissa Coffey, click here.

For more on healthy living health news, click here.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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