What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

- W. H. Davies

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How To Make Stress Your Friend

Stress is inevitable. So instead of demonizing it we should change our attitude towards it, says Kelly McGonigal. Somehow, by changing our attitude towards stress, by viewing it in more positive light, the worse effects of stress can be avoided. This is because within the Stress response there are embedded some hormones like Oxytocin that can counter its bad effect.

There are two types of Stress responses. One is the heart-pounding type that pushes adrenaline into our blood. This is the “good stress” as long as we have a positive attitude towards it. The other Stress response is the stomach churning worry type that pushes the hormone Cortisol in our blood. This is the “bad stress”. No good comes of this no matter what our attitude. Kelly’s talk shows that we can convert “good stress” into “bad stress” by having an attitude of worrying or over-thinking our problems (Including worrying about Stress itself).

So while we should not seek out stressful situations we should not run away from them either. When a situation presents itself that requires us to up our game, we must welcome the stress response with open hearts, as it allows us to do what is needed to reach our goals.

Related: Is Stress Good For You?

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Three Liver Health Secrets Revealed

Three Liver Health Secrets

Liver is one of the most important organs in our body. Luckily it is also one of the most resilient, capable of regenerating itself. This means that healthy food habits can make a big dent in liver health. However for those with chronic liver issues or prone to them, something extra is also needed. This article provides three little known liver health foods that can help:

1. Coffee

Dr. Sanjiv Chopra (the younger brother of Dr. Deepak Chopra) is a leading liver specialist . He is also a leading advocate of coffee for liver health. The statistics he cites are pretty dramatic. One study found that drinking two cups of coffee a day decreases the incidence of primary liver cancer by 43%. Another study found that two coffee cups per day reduced incidence of liver cirrhosis by 40%. All studies have found that this works only while having regular coffee. Decaffeinated coffee does not seem to have the same beneficial effect. Neither is this replicated by drinking tea instead of coffee. Dr. Chopra insists that everybody should start drinking coffee, as long as they have no other issue that prevents them from doing so. The recommended portion size is that everybody should drink up to two regular sized cups of coffee per day.

2. Neem Leaves

There have been studies that have shown that Neem Leaf can minimize chemically induced damage to the liver in laboratory mice. Neem Leaves have long been well regarded in Ayurveda as a potent treatment to clean the blood and remove toxins from the liver. This study now bears this out. Pregnant women and children should not be given Neem. Those who have just had organ transplant may also want to consult their doctor before having Neem. There is also a note for diabetics. Neem can reduce blood sugar levels so it should help but this is also a caution against unexpected sugar level drop. The best way to have Neem leaves is to do so in the form of a brew by dipping the leaves in hot water.

3. Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon (Also known as Karela or Karevella or Goya).

The residents of Okinawa have been widely studied for their longevity. There is some speculation that one of the secrets of this longevity is the strong consumption of Bitter Gourd by the islanders. The vegetable is an excellent source of phyto-nutrients, folates, vitamin C, and flavonoids. Like Neem it can lower blood sugar levels so Diabetics should benefit. Early laboratory tests have shown that Bitter Gourd can help with treatment of HIV infection. It has been widely regarded in Ayurveda as a vegetable that can help heal the liver. The seeds of Bitter Gourd have to be removed before cooking. If you are not familiar with this vegetable please follow this recipe to get started with Bitter Gourd: youtube video demonstration of how to cook this vegetable.

About one in ten persons in the US (and the rest of the world) has some kind of chronic liver condition. These tips should not only help them but also the rest of the population to keep the liver healthy. Please share this and pass it along to spread the message of liver health!

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Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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A Revelation In The Tree Pose

Tree Pose

Tree pose is a pose that most yogis can do some variation of, and it seems to be such a simple pose that we do often in our practice. I had a beautiful revelation during my practice one day that made me think of this simple balancing posture as a complex reflection of our own inner strength that we sometimes forget is inside of us.

This revelation actually came to me over a year ago at a time when my mother’s cancer advanced to multiple places on her body. A month after I had just started a grad program and was adjusting to life in a new city, my mom told me that she had gone to the doctor and that there were three tumors on her brain. She had been on treatment for four years already, and for the most part her cancer had been manageable, although we knew that without a miracle the cancer would eventually take over her body.

My mother moved on to the next life last summer. It has been hard for me to accept that reality and I am still struggling to understand why the universe would take someone who had such a good heart and loved life. Additionally, I have found myself in a deep depression that has become largely debilitating. I am however, still able to continue my yoga practice. Yoga is one of the few spaces that makes me feel like I can have respite, if only for an hour, from the stresses of grieving, worrying about bills, planning my future.

I have been practicing yoga for about six or seven years. For many yogis, it is so fulfilling to go deeper in a pose than we ever have before, or to suddenly do a pose that we have been working toward for years. There is also the experience where the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual all come together and a great revelation comes through our practice. This might only last a moment, but the feeling of that connection to the universe is indescribable. I had a teacher call this a “glimpse” of the larger life force that sustains and supports us.

My “glimpse” occurred during tree pose while doing an amazing hip opening class by Neesha Zollinger from yogatoday.com. We extended our arms up, and she instructed us to sway our arms, if it is available to us, because trees are not rigid. They root from the ground up and like branches flowing in the breeze you just go with it so you don’t break. She also said something I thought was interesting, and that was change only happens when we have the expansiveness for it. A lot of times when I think about change, I feel like it is something outside of me; stuff that I cannot control. However, I can respond to change by resisting and being attached to wanting things to stay the same, or I can shift my perspective and be like a tree, and just flow with it.

This experience became even deeper when I read an interesting article about the way trees grow on NPR, and the article discusses how tree branches grow in a mathematical way that makes them able to withstand high winds. When I read the article, I thought about it in relation to the way we grow and are shaped by our experiences (or our winds). The article also notes that, interestingly, the surface areas of daughter branches add up to the surface area of the mother branch. It made me think that my experiences, good and bad, are a part of me and add up to what my center, my core, my personal strength is, and that whatever winds or changes come I am already inherently prepared to handle it.

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Credit: This has been written by Sonia Renee. Sonia has an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies and is currently living in Los Angeles pursuing another MA in Geography. She plans to be a lifelong student in the university and a lifelong student of the universe.

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The Voices In My Head

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. Then one day as she was leaving a seminar she heard a voice in her head for the first time. “She’s leaving!” It said. The voice had arrived and her nightmare began. Soon she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, and discarded. She began to believe that the voice in her head was the problem and she began to fight them. The problem only grew worse and the number of voices multiplied.

It was only with the support of her mother and a few supportive doctors who expressed confidence in her ability to recover that Eleanor began her journey to recovery. A key insight was accepting that the voices were a meaningful response to traumatic life events. The voices were not her enemies, but a source of insight into solvable emotional problems. Soon she was able to get off medication and complete her college education. She has now gone on to complete her Masters in psychology and is working towards her PhD.

In many ways Eleanor is the face of the over-medicalization of mental illness. Psychiatry in recent decades increasingly views mental illness through the lens of brain chemistry. Consequently most treatment is reduced to pushing medication. Eleanor on the other hand is advocating a new approach that goes from asking, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What’s happened to you?”

She is now advocating for people who hear voices in their head and directs them to intevoices.org where they can find help and support. Please pass this along as there are millions of people who suffer from this.

Intervoice: The International Community for Hearing Vocies
Hearing voices: Coping Strategies
Treating the diagnosis rather than the individual
Concern against DSM-5

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