Monday, June 29, 2015

The Health Consequences Of Negative Thinking

Good Morning!

Today we are sharing an article with you from on the health consequences one can have with negative thinking. "The old philosophy that mind over matter has a few different connotations but in regards to modern life we should start taking it a little more seriously. The old philosophy that mind over matter has a few different connotations but in regards to modern life we should start taking it a little more seriously. For a long time this philosophy was a practice of self control over ones pain or the idea that humans were becoming more intelligent and inventive with their abilities to manipulate their surroundings. Today, that same saying should be looked at as a stress-disease model where negative thoughts and emotions are actually capable of changing one’s physiology for the worse. This concept has been explored from many different paradigms of thought but they all lead to the same result: negative emotions lead to negative physical outcomes."

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Goodbye Happiness, Hello Well-Being

Hello All! 

Today we are sharing an interesting article from written by Dr. David Can Nuys. This article talks about the differences of positive psychology compared to hedonism and how happiness isn't everything, it's about a fullness of well-being. Take a look and see what you think! 

Goodbye Happiness, Hello Well-Being
Positive psychology has been misperceived as being all about hedonism. Post published by David Van Nuys Ph.D. on Jun 14, 2011 in The Happiness Dispatch

Kudos to Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, for being big enough to publicly change his mind. The canon of science asserts that all theories are open to revision. It's been my observation, however, that in actual practice it is all too rare for someone who has staked out a significant portion of their career and reputation on a certain theoretical position to give it up without a fight. I'm reminded in this regard of Thomas Kuhn's observation in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that scientific paradigms tend to yield only after the founding dinosaurs have died off.

In a previous blog post, here, I noted that a number of national brands seemed to have picked up on ideas from the positive psychology movement (Coke's "Live Positively... Open Happiness" and BMW's "We Don't Just Make Cars... We Make Joy" among others). At the same time, I observed in my last two posts that there has also been something of a backlash against positive psychology's perceived emphasis on happiness and "positive thinking."

Indeed, Seligman himself recoils from the way the culture at large seems to have latched onto these ideas, reducing the undertaking of thousands of serious scientists to a kind of "Happiology." Seligman made a cameo appearance in a video on happiness that aired last year on PBS and he remarked with what I thought was some despair that the popular press had run away with these notions, ahead of what could actually be supported by the research. Of course, his own heavy marketing of Positive Psychology, might have had something to do with that.

In his new book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Seligman reveals that he was less than keen on the title of his earlier book, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. Seligman reports that he wasn't pleased with either the word "Authentic" or "Happiness" in that title. He wanted to call the book "Positive Psychology" but the publisher thought "Authentic Happiness" would be much more marketable and they were probably right. However, an unfortunate side effect, Seligman observes, is that the hackneyed smiley-face image is used whenever positive psychology makes the news [mea culpa!]. He notes that he's never won a tug-of-war with a publisher over the title of a book which, of course, makes one wonder if this latest title has his whole-hearted support!

In fact, I can certainly identify with the issue about titles. I had some similar reservations about naming this blog series The Happiness Dispatch, fearing that it would lock me into having to always post cheery, up, positivity-boosters. The editors and I wrestled over a number of alternatives and, for better or worse, this one won out. So, Dear Reader, I hope you won't box me in too narrowly.

Speaking of titles, I recently interviewed Russ Harris, MD for my Shrink Rap Radio (link is external) podcast about his book, which is titled, The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling and Start Living. This title would seem to support my earlier contention about the positive psychology backlash. In the interview, I specifically asked Dr. Harris about this title and he shared that it is very much intended to play against the success of Authentic Happiness. In other words, it was a canny marketing decision to more or less ride on the coattails of Seligman's book. And, to Seligman's earlier point, The Happiness Trap even features a smiley face on the cover. The Happiness Trap also confirms Seligman's worst fear that positive psychology has been misperceived as being all about hedonic pleasure. In our interview, Harris emphasized that a full, meaningful life is not all about happiness, that pain and suffering come to all and must be dealt with. I suspect Harris knows he has set up a straw man here but, once again, it's good for marketing. My own reading of the positive psychology literature in no way suggests a denial of the many challenges life throws our way. Rather, I think, positive psychology has been interested in the factors that lead to resilience in the face of life's slings and arrows. And, Seligman, himself, has written about the futility of what he calls "the hedonic treadmill." By the way, aside from my carping about the title, I think The Happiness Trap is an excellent self-help book, based on Dr. Steven Hayes Action Commitment Therapy (ACT) which, in turn, is rooted in more than 30 years of research.

In Flourish, Seligman confesses that his initial conception of positive psychology was too narrow, based primarily on the single concept of happiness. In that earlier version, happiness rested on three legs: positive emotion, engagement, and meaning. And, in that version, he saw the goal as increased life satisfaction. He states the goal of his new theory as Well-Being, by which he means increased "flourishing by increasing positive emotion, engagement, meaning, positive relationships, and accomplishment."

So we see that he's added two new elements: positive relationships and accomplishment. Positive relationships were already recognized as playing a pivotal role in long-term life satisfaction but he's given that element a more explicit role in his new theory.

The new element of "accomplishment" is one that particularly resonates with me. The concept of "mastery" has been around in psychology for some time. It helped to unseat the long dominant theory of motivation that had been based on "drive reduction." Drive Reduction asserted that all behavior is motivated by the urge to reduce need states such as hunger, thirst, the need for attention, the need for affection, and so on. Later, psychologists came to realize that some activities are gratifying for their own sake, that motivation can be intrinsic. There is a natural delight in growth, in learning for it's own sake, in mastering a new skill or domain for it's own sake. In fact, the idea of activities pursued "for their own sake" becomes a sort of mantra that runs throughout Flourish.

According to Freud, "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness." It looks to me like Seligman has come to a fairly similar conclusion. I think Seligman's emphasis on positive relationships more or less corresponds to Freud's "love." Were he alive, perhaps, Freud would concede that "work" encompasses more than vocation. Discovering our unique "work" or mission in life and having the courage to live it, I think, is central to the well-lived life.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What is Yoga Therapy?

Good Afternoon!

As we have been mentioning over the last few weeks, Inner Passages has expanded their horizons and service list to help better serve clients' needs. One of those things is Yoga Therapy. In previous blogs we have mentioned how yoga and exercise can be beneficial to working through and treating certain problems that we incur. However today, we want to explain a little more about what 'Yoga Therapy' is! Thanks to our friends and the Yoga for Health Conference, we can share this information with you.  If you are in Maryland or the surrounding areas and would like to get started on your own yoga therapy journey, please contact us at 

What is Yoga Therapy?

Yoga is beneficial for the health in ways that modern science is just beginning to understand.  Even though it has been applied with therapeutic intention for thousand of years, Yoga Therapy is only just now emerging as a discipline in itself.   More health care practitioners are starting to include yogic techniques in their approach to healing -- and more yoga teachers give a therapeutic intention to their teaching.  People who have never tried yoga before are starting to consider including Yoga in their treatment plan.

As science begins to document the importance of understanding the interrelation of all existing things, it looks to Yoga with an intrigued eye, for Yoga speaks Unity in every word. As yoga techniques are researched and new data is gathered,  it becomes easier for science and the medical establishment to understand and accept the benefits of Yoga Therapy.
Yet there is still not one consensual definition of the discipline. In order to arrive to an adequate definition and to come up with proper standards for Yoga Therapy, it is crucial at this early stage to properly address some delicate professional and ethical issues. At the same time it is important to educate the general public about Yoga Therapy's benefits and careful use.

The following is a list of tentative definitions of Yoga Therapy by the International Association of Yoga Therapy:
*  Yoga therapy, derived from the Yoga tradition of Patanjali and the Ayurvedic system of health care refers to the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges at any level manage their condition, reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude.
-American Viniyoga Institute
Gary Kraftsow
*  Yoga therapy is that facet of the ancient science of Yoga that focuses on health and wellness at all levels of the person: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Yoga therapy focuses on the path of Yoga as a healing journey that brings balance to the body and mind through an experiential understanding of the primary intention of Yoga: awakening of Spirit, our essential nature.
-Integrative Yoga Therapy (U.S.A.)
Joseph LePage, M.A.
*  Yoga therapy adapts the practice of Yoga to the needs of people with specific or persistent health problems not usually addressed in a group class.
-Samata Yoga Center (U.S.A.)
Larry Payne, Ph.D.
*  Yoga therapy is the adaptation of yoga practices for people with health challenges. Yoga therapists prescribe specific regimens of postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to suit individual needs. Medical research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common aliments. The challenges may be an illness, a temporary condition like pregnancy or childbirth, or a chronic condition associated with old age or infirmity.
-Yoga Biomedical Trust (England)
Robin Monro, Ph.D.
*  Yoga comprises a wide range of mind/body practices, from postural and breathing exercises to deep relaxation and meditation. Yoga therapy tailors these to the health needs of the individual. It helps to promote all-round positive health, as well as assisting particular medical conditions. The therapy is particularly appropriate for many chronic conditions that persist despite conventional medical treatment.
-Yoga Therapy and Training Center (Ireland)
Marie Quail
 (Yoga therapy is) the use of the techniques of Yoga to create, stimulate, and maintain an optimum state of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
-Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D.
* Yoga therapy consists of the application of yogic principles, methods, and techniques to specific human ailments. In its ideal application, Yoga therapy is preventive in nature, as is Yoga itself, but it is also restorative in many instances, palliative in others, and curative in many others.
-Art Brownstein, M.D.
* Yoga therapy is of modern coinage and represents a first effort to integrate traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge. Whereas traditional Yoga is primarily concerned with personal transcendence on the part of a "normal" or healthy individual, Yoga therapy aims at the holistic treatment of various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunctions ranging from back problems to emotional distress. Both approaches, however, share an understanding of the human being as an integrated body-mind system, which can function optimally only when there is a state of dynamic balance.
--Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D.

What is Yoga Therapy?
This article originally appeared in the April 2006 edition of Yogi Times:

"Yoga Therapy: Unlocking the Hidden Vitality" by Antonio Sausys

It's widely known that Yoga can enhance your physical and emotional well being, but when Yoga is practiced with a therapeutic intention in the form of Yoga Therapy, it can help prevent and aid recovery from physical and mental ailments. Yoga has long been practiced with therapeutic intentions as way of transforming both the body and the mind. 

According to classical texts, most of the problems in our health come from a state of ignorance of who and what we are.  By offering a vehicle for self-knowledge, yoga provides an opportunity to become acquainted with our essence, in tune with the Oracle at Delphi's command: "Know thyself."  From a psychological standpoint, therapy is defined as the possibility of accessing self-knowledge that will enable us to change that what we consider dysfunctional.  A number of research studies have proven the effectiveness of Yoga Therapy as developing exactly that type of awareness.
The applications of Yoga Therapy range anywhere from maintaining health, to recovering from illness - in some cases, even those considered incurable.  The first stage of healing involves the movement of vital forces in the system.  Practitioners of many Eastern forms of medicine believe that every illness involves a certain level of energy blockage.  By promoting the flow of prana, or vital force, yoga combats those blockages, restoring the basic condition for health.  Common applications for Yoga Therapy also serve structural problems such as spine misalignments or joint function.  Deeper applications may even aid more intractable problems such as AIDS and cancer.
By combining different techniques such as massage, stretching or alterations of the circulatory patterns, yoga promotes specific changes in muscles, joints and organs altering the vital functions of the body. A good example would be the way Yoga Therapy can help overcome panic attacks. By practicing a balancing breathing technique, a sense of control is gained, combating the fear and anxiety produced by its loss. Additionally, by practicing Tratak, a specific technique that involves eye movement, the pituitary gland is reset via the optic nerve, influencing the 'fight or flight' reaction so intimately related with the syndrome.
On a psychological level, the introspection promoted by yoga is essential to the self-knowledge process that fuels psychic transformation. The different relaxation techniques allow the troubled mind to calm and decrease its activity while promoting stability.  Yoga considers the psyche to be spread in different centers along the body (chakras).  Each related to a nervous plexus, an endocrine gland, an organ or group of organs and specific psychic qualities.  By acting upon the chakras, yoga brings light to any psychic blockages, making them available to the conscious mind. The modern western correlate of this scheme is in the core of psycho-neuroimmunology, a branch of psychology that studies the interaction between the nervous, endocrine and immune systems, explaining some of the subtle mechanisms of psychosomatic medicine. 
The fact that the different branches of science are now acknowledging that everything in the universe works together with absolute, intimate and exquisite interrelationship is part of the basis of the increasing success and respect that Yoga Therapy is gaining among main stream medical practitioners. As more clinicians use these techniques either for themselves of or their patients, and as more masters design specific applications of yoga, the spectrum of Yoga Therapy grows exponentially. 
More than following just one style or one branch of yoga, Yoga Therapy feeds from virtually all styles and branches, combining the tools that each one of them bring in the design of a yoga sadhana, or a routine that addresses the given condition. Even though different Yoga Therapists follow different procedures to establish the sadhana, a pretty general scheme would first determine the condition to be treated, and then an evaluation of person's general abilities. Then the appropriate techniques can be chosen from the various disciplines which best serve the therapeutic process.
At last, the logistical aspects of the execution of the sadhana should be determined, such as order of practice and number of repetitions.  The person then can practice this sadhana on his or her own, or receive the expert guidance of a Yoga Therapist. The sadhana is then updated according to the progress that the student accomplishes.
The integration of mind and body is very important for the healing process, but perhaps the main area where yoga comes in handy is the inclusion of the 'spiritual' realm into the equation. Even if the student or patient belongs to no religion, or even if she or he does not acknowledge the existence of spirit, the practice of some of these techniques can eventually integrate this aspect of the self
After all, the Earth is spinning, and it needs not our acknowledgment, nor it does it need us to push it!

To view the original article, click here. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fake It 'Til You Make It: Positive Self Talk

Good Morning!

Today we want to share with you an article shared from about the benefits of positive self talk. Take a look below and see if you can relate! 

Fake It 'Til You Make It: Positive Self Talk
Turning negative feelings into positives isn't hard; it just takes practice. 

Post published by Susan McQuillan M.S., RDN on Sep 26, 2014 in Cravings
Source: MXM2014

When you wake up in the morning, do you feel good about yourself, full of positive energy, and ready to get out there and shake up the world? Or are you kicking yourself because you ate a forbidden food last night, or didn’t lose any weight this week? If you’re attitude is “I can do anything,” then you know what? You probably can. But if you’re constantly telling yourself “I’ll never succeed,” then that could just as easily be true. You’ll do whatever your mind tells you to do, even fail. Your mind is that powerful.

This type of negative thinking is called negative self-talk, and it follows us through the day. It includes all the not-so-nice things you say to yourself throughout the day that make you feel bad about yourself, such as “I’m so stupid” and “I’ve been bad about my diet.” Do you always blame yourself when things go wrong? Do you constantly criticize yourself or call yourself names? That’s negative self-talk.

You can get into such a habit of negative thinking that you can’t see any happiness down the road. You think all the negative stuff is true and will be true forever. The funny thing is that most of what you’re telling yourself isn’t even true now, never was.

The danger of negative self-talk is that it turns into negative self-opinion. “I can’t cook” turns into “I’m no good at anything.” “I blew my diet” turns into “I’ll never lose weight” or “I’ll never be healthy.” Keep thinking that way, and you’ll really start to believe it! You’ll see yourself as a total failure. When your self-esteem gets that low, you don’t think you deserve anything positive. You might think you deserve to be fit and healthy. Please, don’t go there!

Restrictive diets—those that limit calories to an extreme or forbid whole food groups for no medical reason— can make anyone feel like a failure, especially if you’ve tried over and over again, and haven’t been able to stick to them. You’re doomed the minute you go on a restrictive diet because they are almost designed to fail. Most weight loss diets set you up to temporarily lose some weight and then gain it back again. How many times can you watch yourself try and fail to lose weight without feeling bad about it? But the truth is, you didn’t fail. The diet failed you.

Breaking the habit of negative self-talk helps you stop blaming yourself for failures that are yours. It takes a lot of practice to stop a cycle of negativity because these thoughts have become so automatic. But you can change the way you think and feel about yourself. The first step is recognizing your negative thoughts when they arise. Then you can actively change them, right then and there.

Listen to yourself carefully. When you have a negative thought of any kind, stop what you’re doing. Replace that negative thought with something positive. For instance if you hear yourself say “Oh man, I have such ugly back fat,” immediately replace it with “I look so young for my age” or “My hair looks great today” or “I have great legs.”

So instead of saying "I knew I couldn't do it," say "I'm doing my best." Instead of "I'll never stick to this," say "I'll make these changes, one step at a time." Instead of "I hate to exercise," try "I love how I feel after a good workout."

If you can’t come up with a positive thought, come up with solutions to your negative situation. As soon as you say, “I look fat” or “I’m bad because I ate this,” follow up with “I can do something about this” or “It doesn’t matter as long as I eat well the rest of the day.”  Instead of "I hate my body (or myself)," say "I'm going to work hard to get stronger and healthier every day."Even better, come up with very specific wording, such as “I’m going to eat more fruit today” or “I’m going to a shred class.” Thinking about these small solutions might help you feel more positive about the bigger picture of your food life, and maybe even your life in general.

To view the original source click here.