Last weekend, I had the honor of taking a fabulous class: The Wisdom of the Heart: Where Psychology, Health, and Spirituality Meet with Joan Borysenko.
My spirit and my brain gained much on this day! I love simple, non-invasive, non-medicative ways to be healthier and happier AND the science and physiology behind them!
Joan is very accomplished with degree after degree (from Harvard Medical School), author of 16 books, researcher, friend of many other wonderful doctors, researchers, and religious leaders. Joan is an amazing, warm, personable, and real woman.
I'll share three especially exciting bits I learned:
#1 TLC and LOVE Heal Us!
Our acts of love induce and sustain self-healing by REDUCING IL-6 and cortisol and a naturally INCREASING HGH. These are very beneficial changes, and note that HGH supplements are unapproved by the FDA AND ineffective. Besides being an antagonist to stress, love stimulates our pleasure system, so endorphins, cyanocobalamins, dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, and nitric oxide (NO) all increase. These changes decrease our fear and increase our motivation!
#2 "Where ever we COME ALIVE, that's where we are spiritual!" For me, that's right here, teaching others about how to be healthy inside and out, as well as when I feed my family and friends :)
#3 We can BECOME MORE RESILIENT!
Remember that golden trait of kids? Who wouldn't want more?!
Joan discussed many methods of increasing resilience:
Mindfulness, Meditation, Breathing, Gratefulness, Forgiveness, Yoga, Exercise and Compassion/Kindness. Physiology involves two parts of the brain: the amygdala ("emotional brain") and the prefrontal cortex (planning and control center). Resilient people, show up to 30x more activation in the prefrontal cortex than people who lack resilience. When meditating or practicing some other method mentioned above, the prefrontal cortex sends inhibitory GABA to the amydgala, which decreases its activity. In effect, the alarm raised by the amygdala turns off and our emotions are calmed.
BONUS TIP: A Meditation and Lojong Song to TRY
Sing or Say:
"May I be filled with lovingkindness, may I be well.
May I be peaceful, and at ease.
And may I be happy."
After this first verse, repeat with the substitution of "I" for "you", which with each repetition, could be with the intention of anybody or any group of people, including loved ones, as well as enemies, and those we don't understand.
Or perhaps try repeating one of these tips which could serve as slogan for this mental training practice.
When Joan introduced this song, she talked about how researchers at Tufts University were studying Tibetan Monks and found that these practices improve resilience specifically by making one less reactive to stress AND decreasing inflammation. Singing this "song", or just repeating it in your head, is a perfect way to Wish Others Well :)
Another related topic Joan mentioned and I love is Positive Psychology, I surprisingly haven't done a post on this relatively new, and awesome field! The resiliency-boosting topics listed all basically fit under the blanket of Positive Psychology.
Related link: Inner Peace for Busy People: From Stress to Strength
COMMENTS: I love Love Actually: it's actually one of my favorite movies! Do you like to watch a movie once like my hubby, or over and over, like me? Do you like scary movies? I have a post coming soon about the interesting topic of fear :)