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Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
April, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 04
The Mind Is the Source of Our Stress
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD and Lansing Barrett Gresham
As articulated in our previous article ("Move Your Mind and Engage Your Brain," Massage Today, February 2006), your mind is not your brain, nor your soul, spirit or psyche.It's only a sliver of your consciousness. It's that portion of human consciousness that assigns meaning to sensory information. These meaning assignments emerge from both what we were taught by our caretakers and from what we decided within ourselves.
We postulate that the mind awakens into neocortical dominance somewhere between 28 months and four years of age. Its pre-eminence derives from the increasing ability to combine the newly developed awareness of sequencing (time) with the apparent results (causality) of intention experimentally acted out in the world. This is what is happening during the period our culture labeled the "terrible two's."
From conception until the above age range, learning is principally associative, not sequential. During this initial period of development, highly charged emotional events are deeply grooved into the nervous system, but without assignment of cause - external or internal. The language of "always" or "never" is a clue that our clients have dipped into an experience that is very young indeed.
Once the child has acquired some mastery of the developmental sequences required to navigate gravity within the three dimension of space, and has gained a sense of time, it becomes driven to predict cause and effect sequences in the behaviors of others, external events and within themselves. Once in control, especially with the aid of the later-developing prefrontal cortices, the mind functions to retroactively assign predictive causality to all of the elements which were part of any highly charged events the infant/toddler experienced before the mind was in charge.
The biological implication of this tendency has an obvious tendril to our evolution as a species from predator/prey relationships. The tawny flash of the tiger as it circles you in the forest carries with it grave consequences if ignored. Once survival-enhancing, now it degrades our capacity to experience "choice" in the present moment. Instead, we react to a flicker of a stimulus that vaguely reminds us of a past hurt, but without recognizing the differences of context, people involved and the range of our expanded adult options for behavior.
What hurt before, will hurt again, is the mind's chief refrain. Pain is bad. Pain is wrong. Thus, the mind actively seeks out information to confirm its predictions of what will hurt and how. It filters information, preferring the negative. It replays recordings of past sensory experience, superimposing what was upon what is happening in the present moment. All of this arouses the nervous system. This persistent state of arousal is what we commonly experience as "stress."
We are all perfectly adapted to circumstances in which we no longer live. This is the dilemma of human development: that the models of life and rules for conduct the mind has created are based on the options a toddler can perceive. Lacking the ability to clearly distinguish or even experience the separation of self from other, a "separation" which every loving parent does their best to diminish, these building blocks grow largely from the infant's energetic and emotional experiences of its caretakers. This biologically aids our capacity for bonding and survival, yet emotionally and energetically, we often are left with a tangle in our perceptions of where we end and others begin.
The mind takes in no sensory data. It predicts. It anticipates. It concludes what is going to happen before present-time, or simply more recent, sensory experience can validate the predicted outcome. Thus, whenever our minds are in charge, we experience loops of familiar behaviors and emotions, because we are dependant upon these very same mental body models and rules about the world and about what it has concluded is possible (or not). Because the mind assigns meaning to behaviors, feelings and events, it also makes the rules about what is good and bad, right and wrong, regardless of the actual present-time reality one senses and feels. Because the mind cannot process the streaming of moment-to-moment sensory data, it is rooted in the past and can only flower in the future. Current exploration, experimentation and discovery are all of necessity stunted in favor of what is deemed predictable - and thus, safe, by the mind.
The mind commandeers the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system, as well as longer-acting neurotransmitters such as cortisol, dopamine and epinephrine, to keep us in alert mode, seeking out cues and clues that will support its models about what is going to happen. This is a functional definition of stress, often referred to as hypervigilance in psychological circles. No wonder we hear our clients so often speak of feeling trapped by their life circumstances and feeling as though they have so few real choices.
In our previous article, we endeavored to set a foundation for comprehending the essential truth that the historical belief that the mind reflects either the whole or the pinnacle of human consciousness is far from accurate. Instead, we assert that the mind is a guard dog, indiscriminate in its barkings, and preventing us from reaching our vast potential to perceive the possibilities that might enhance our lives. We affirm what they already have experienced; namely that touch might stimulate profound shifts in the quality of your clients lives.
In the next installment of this series of articles, we will be emphasizing how touch can directly help by conveying "The Present Meaning of Life."
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
Lansing Barrett Gresham, founder of Integrated Awareness®, has more than 30 years of touch and movement work utilizing enhanced perception. He has co-authored two books, Ask Anything and Your Body Will Answer and The Body's Map of Consciousness®. For more information please visit www.inawareness.com.
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