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Debra’s Wellness Tips

“Work Stress Busters”
Debra Basham
6 August 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Nowhere is stress more likely than in the workplace.

Twenty-five percent of people say that their job is the primary stressor in their lives.

Job stress can affect your professional and personal relationships, your livelihood, and your health.

The good news is that you’re not powerless.

You can learn better ways of coping with stress.

~ Mayo Clinic Staff

While work stress has been considered the most common stressor, with an increased awareness you can lower your work stress. Give some of these stress busters at chance to make a difference for you:

  1. Change your shoes and listen to music or use aromatherapy on the way home to help you leave your job at work.

  2. Put a small mirror near your work station so you can catch a glimpse of yourself to remind you to put a smile on your face.

  3. Have a special “water” glass, cup, or bottle so you stay hydrated on the job.

  4. Keep a stress inventory for one week and then prioritize solutions (take the bus rather than fight the traffic; have a neighbor pick up your son; make lunches for the week on Sunday evening; etc.) you can implement one at a time.

  5. Walk on your lunch break, or book slots of “me” time on your business calendar.

  6. Vary your routine by entering or leaving by different doors, or taking your laptop and spending some work time out in nature.

  7. Create a gratitude list for the interpersonal connections you find easy to appreciate. If it is challenging to identify them at first, prime the pump by practicing some random acts of kindness.

  8. Keep a tennis ball at your desk and slip your shoe off and roll the ball back and forth under the arch of your foot for about a minute noticing how tender areas release.

  9. Coach stressful thoughts right out of your head by using your logic to do a “reframe.” If you have to work late, affirm the truth that you are fortunate to have a job. When something unexpected happens, realize that your brain is growing new neuronal patterns. If you get passed over for a promotion, appreciate the ease of familiarity of tasks.

  10. The more stressful a situation is the more important it is to remember to breathe.... breathe.... breathe....

This week notice what a difference these make. Choose your favorites, and then share them with at least one friend, family member, or co-worker, saying how well they are working.
 

“Skin Matters”
Debra Basham
30 July 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
As you get out-of-doors and enjoy the summer, you are more exposed to the sun. Being knowledgeable about good skin care is vital. Your skin is your body’s protective cover, and, as such, skin is one of the first areas to show signs of aging. Skin is the largest organ of the body—weighing about 8 pounds and covering about 22 square feet of surface. Think about your skin as the container you live inside. (See National Geographic, “Skin” at http://bit.ly/dhIRHr)

Year round you will want to moisturize daily, using products that avoid these additives:

  • Formaldehyde
    A carcinogenic impurity, formaldehyde is released by a number of preservatives used in cosmetics. On labels, look for: Formaldehyde itself and the following preservatives: diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, or quaternium-15.

  • 1,4-Dioxane
    Another carcinogenic chemical, 1,4-dioxane was found to contaminate almost 50 percent of personal care products tested in 2008. 1,4-dioxane isn’t an ingredient listed on labels but an unwanted byproduct of processing. On labels, look for: PEG (polyethylene glycol) and ingredients that contain “eth.”

  • Retinyl Palmitate (a form of vitamin A)
    Frequently found in personal care products such as moisturizers and sunscreens, when used on skin that is exposed to sun, retinyl palmitate speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions. (Note: This is much different than taking vitamin A orally.) In 2011, the ingredient was found in two-fifths of sunscreens. On labels, look for: Retinyl palmitate. (See Better Nutrition, July 2012, “Skin Salvation.”)

The real risks to skin are free radicals, and the process that damages skin is essentially the same that makes an apple turn dark after you bite or cut into it. Plant-based foods are really good for your skin because the antioxidants contained within them lessen the risk of skin cancer.

Remember that your skin needs vitamins! In addition to enjoying a healthy, plant-based diet, think about your intake of essential fats (omega 3, 6, and 9) as a way you feed your skin. Eat foods of many colors to get all the antioxidants. Specifically, the carotenoids found in orange and yellow plant foods work to protect your skin against sun damage.

Additionally, you want to drink plenty of water in the summer because when you stay well hydrated your skin is actually less prone to damage.

This week, give some thought to the valuable container you live inside. It may not be a Ming vase, but your skin matters!
 

“Natural Migraine Relief”
Debra Basham
23 July 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
A recent Huffington Post article on natural migraine relief caught my attention, not just for those who have suffered from migraine headaches, but for each of us who has found you make a choice to be healthier because life is too precious to waste. Here is a link to the article: http://huff.to/ScnFs6. Share this summary of suggestions for what you can do for natural migraine relief.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Feverfew
  • Ginger
  • Meditation
  • Butterbur
  • Massage
  • Magnesium
  • Peppermint (aromatherapy)
  • Acupuncture
  • Regular exercise
  • Rubbing the temples
  • Drinking plenty of water

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a webpage for both feverfew and butterbur. See http://nccam.nih.gov/health/feverfew and http://nccam.nih.gov/health/butterbur for more information about where science is weighing in on these at the moment.

If you have been a regular reader, you will notice and appreciate how many of these have previously been highlighted in the “Wellness Tips,” including in the March 21, 2011, tip on headache prevention.

This week, pay close attention to the way your wellness is overlapping. Good choices affect all of you, as you continue to find natural ways to feel better while getting healthier.
 

“Cool Under the Collar”
Debra Basham
16 July 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Drinking hot tea this summer to stay cool under the collar? That is very wise of you, as you will see in “Cool Down with a Hot Drink” (see http://n.pr/L7OAAr).

Here are some easy tips for staying healthy in the heat that were shared in the July 24, 2011 tip:

  • Take kids to the lake or pool or let them enjoy water-balloons, playing in the sprinkler, or with squirt guns.

  • Wear loose clothing. Maybe you have a granny gown or a gauze “wedding shirt” still hanging in a closet.

  • Eat light meals. Ever notice you get hot after a big meal? That is your furnace firing up to burn off the calories!

  • Choose cotton or linen or seersucker fabrics.

  • Take an ice pack to bed with you.

  • Run cool water over your wrists to cool your pulse points the same way a cold washcloth lowers a fever.

  • Ditch the down pillow until fall or winter. Switch to one made of organic cotton.

  • Eat spicy foods! They make you sweat and that will cool you down.

  • Sip on lemonade quinine water.

  • Control your temper.

Since anger is heat or fire in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), here are three great energy medicine tips well worth using. As you do these, you can include some conscious breathing.

  1. Hold your middle finger. (Jin Shin Jyutsu)

  2. Place the palm of one hand lightly on your forehead with your little finger by your eyebrows and thumb by your hairline. Place your other hand lightly at the back of your neck with your thumb pointing down and your little finger pointing up. (Polarity Therapy)

  3. Using your thumbs, locate the tender points (see image) somewhere along a vertical line directly below where your armpit connects to your upper chest. Rub with a moderate pressure until the point is no longer tender to your touch. (Acupressure)

This week, keep your cool as you make these easy energy medicine holds a standard part of your self-care. You will enjoy the benefits after even a few brief moments of holding.
 
“Fully Embodied”
Debra Basham
9 July 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Sometimes we hear terms without really understanding what is meant, and knowing how this is relevant for you. For example, what is embodiment, and what does it mean when you are fully embodied? To put it very simply, it means that you are intimately aware of the movement of your body in space, and of the healthy flow of energy within your body.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you will want to be very intentional to be aware of both of these. Without energy awareness, the legs move, the arms raise and lower, but there is a sense of just going through the motions of life. That can result in sitting at our desk for too long or waiting too long to go to the restroom or to get a drink of water. It can also mean we could have missed the opportunity to really get the most out of our genes: Our bodies were made to move.

The January 2, 2012, tip (“Low Downs on Let-Downs”) highlighted the benefit of exercise to lessen, eliminate, or prevent seasonal depression. February 27, 2012, we looked at how children of all ages “Need to Play.” April 16, 2012, the wellness tip was on the value of bouncing. Now we are reading that breast cancer risk was reduced by 30 percent in women who exercise 10 hours a week. (See http://cbsn.ws/KHIVAN)

Here is a link for you to see the adorable movement beyond this still shot of “Cory” dancing to Beyoncé! Over 32 million people have taken time to enjoy viewing the two-and-one-half-minute video. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikTxfIDYx6Q)

This week, begin to see and seize opportunities that allow you to love to be aware of the energy and move your body. Yes, dancing, tai chi, walking—these movements can become your way of life.

You can also begin to feel the dance in every movement you make. On your way to get the mail or to get into your car, sense the rhythm of your own movement. Awaken your inner “Cory” and enjoy being fully embodied.
 

“Sweet Orange Oil”
Debra Basham
2 July 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Once you have begun to value the benefit of aromatherapy as a general aid to your health and well-being, you will go on to discover specific oils you especially appreciate. One such oil you might explore is sweet orange oil.

Some of the suggested benefits and suggested uses include:

  1. A few drops drizzled into the bottom of it will freshen your waste basket.

  2. Mix a couple dozen drops in about half a cup of water and spray on your houseplants to discourage pests.

  3. Place drops on an air vent as a natural air freshener that can lift the mood in the room.

  4. A dozen drops with a quarter cup of sea salt makes a rejuvenating bath.

  5. That same mixture can be used to freshen and purify cutting boards.

More “medicinal” uses include: Colds, constipation, dull skin, flatulence, flatulence, flu, gums, mouth, slow digestion, stress. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), pp. 57-67.]

As with any “medicine” one might be suggested to use, be sure to make sure it is good for you. Some people do have citrus allergies, just as some are allergic to penicillin.

You can buy an orange and when you peel it, take a moment to squeeze a bit of the rind. You should be able to smell the sweet orange oil releasing. If you buy Sweet Orange Oil, be sure you select a pure essential oil so you get the most out of this amazing world we live in.

This week, explore a bit and let what you find around you heal you—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
 

“Sleeping Postures”
Debra Basham
25 June 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Aching backs are a common complaint. In fact, lower pack discomfort is one of the most frequent presenting problems at pain clinics and medical facilities across the globe. It may seem fishy to mention the fact, but including plenty of oils that come from fish is something you can do for good back health. For more about the benefits of fish oils, see Debra’s Wellness Tips, “Something Fishy,” December 4, 2011, at http://www.scs-matters.com/Debra-blog.shtml. However, proper sleeping postures play a big role in your having a comfortable back.

Sleeping postures are generally one of three positions: on your side, on your back, or on your stomach. Mayo Clinic has provided tips for each of these that will assist your helping if you have had a back issue, and keeping good back health if you already enjoy that. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/7SFwWe

When sleeping on your side, use a thin pillow between your knees to prevent your top knee from sliding forward and resting on the mattress, causing the lower spine to rotate.

When sleeping or lying on your back, slip a pillow underneath your knees. This is a familiar position to you in massage or body work. I always put a pillow under my clients knees when they come in for a session. If you have had back discomfort, the Mayo Clinic information suggests a rolled towel be placed under the small of your back. Use a good pillow under your head. It is very good to relieve the pressure off your spine. This aids in circulation and assists energy flow.

If you have tried to stop sleeping on your stomach, but still find you do sometimes do, at those times, the suggestion is to be sure to place a pillow beneath your pelvis and abdomen, and one under your head if you can do that comfortably.

This week, if you have not yet added the Everlasting Peace guided imagery audio to your sleeping habits, you might want to do that now. You can sample listen and purchase the audio file at http://www.scs-matters.com/products_download.shtml. CDs are available at http://www.scs-matters.com/products.shtml. The current research indicates about 7 hours of restful sleep might be optimal for good mental, emotional, and physical health, and now you know how so you can get that!
 

“Preventative Medicine”
Debra Basham
18 June 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
I have been working on an article about the benefits of silence for the July Beyond Mastery newsletter (you can sign up for free at http://www.scs-matters.com/beyondmastery.shtml). As part of my research for that article I was reflecting on various comments about silence. One of my favorites is printed on a T-shirt of a good friend: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.

The benefits of silence might also be thought of as part of an approach to preventative medicine. That is certainly something we need more of. It is reported that the National Institutes of Health and other governmental agencies, along with pharmaceutical companies and private research groups in the United States, spends a whopping $100 billion every year on research for new interventions. That is like spending all of our money to mop up the floor without patching the roof, closing the window, or turning the faucet off.

According to a recent article, “We Should Be in a Race for Prevention, Not Cures,“ James R. Knickman says we will do better if we move to a more balanced research agenda. It is undisputable that prevention is a much better investment, dollar-for-dollar, than treatment, and that truth means a lot to you personally. You can read Knickman’s article at http://bit.ly/KWtZOa.

Dee Edington would agree. And I think you will agree that his biography (http://bit.ly/K2yhFN) is pretty impressive:

Dee W. Edington is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan, Director of the Health Management Research Center, and Research Scientist in the School of Public Health. In addition to his research and teaching, he spent 25 years in academic administration. Trained in mathematics, kinesiology and biochemistry, Dr. Edington received his BS and PhD degrees from Michigan State University and completed his MS at Florida State University. He did post doctoral work at the University of Toronto and taught at the University of Massachusetts before coming to Michigan in 1976.

Dr. Edington’s research focuses on the precursors of disease and vitality. His interest is in the relationships between healthy lifestyles, vitality and quality of life, as they benefit both individuals and organizations. He is specifically interested in how individual health promotion, worksite wellness activities and programs within organizations impact health care cost containment, productivity, and human resource development. He is the author or co-author of over 500 articles, presentations and several books, including Biology of Physical Activity, Biological Awareness, Frontiers of Exercise Biology, The One-Minute Manager Balances Work and Life, and Zero Trends: Health as a Serious Economic Strategy.

The Health Management Research Center’s Health Risk Appraisal has been completed by over 3.5 million individuals. The concepts and materials from the Center have influenced health promotion and wellness programs in over hundreds of corporate worksites. Current research is concentrated on twenty organizations and over 2 million persons who have been in the Health Management’s Research Center’s database up to 20 years. These longitudinal studies continue to provide leading edge research learning opportunities.

In his very informative book, Zero Trends, Edington sums up prevention in the workplace in this way:

  • Don’t get worse.
  • Keep healthy employees healthy.
  • Create a culture of health.

This week, do your own assessment and notice the ways you can practice preventative medicine in your own life. Identify one or two lifestyle choices that will allow you to maintain your best levels of well-being now and into the future. Be willing to give up things that are just not good for you in the long run, so you can enjoy life. Notice how your doing that contributes to helping your family, friends, colleagues, and/or co-workers.
 

“Phluffing”
Debra Basham
11 June 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
This tip might have been titled “This One’s for the Girls” but then men may have not read this information and it is important that you share this tip with all the women you know and love because it not only minimizes breast tenderness and reduces breast lumps, it just might also protect them from breast cancer! What woman in your life would you not want to know how to do that?

From Ladies have you Phluffed™ Your Girls Today? by Cheryl Chapman, a breast care advocate dedicated to empowering and educating women about breast care, these are the benefits of reducing breast congestion:

  • Softens breasts
  • Relieves breast pain
  • Decreases lumps and cysts from fibrocystic breasts
  • Moves lymph and brings T-Cells to protect the breast
  • Reduces breast tenderness during pregnancy
  • Enhances breast feeding

Chapman says daily phluffing allows a woman to become familiar with her breasts which makes it easier to do a self breast exam. Thank you, Cheryl for inspiring women to good breast health. Phluffing maintains healthy breasts, and it feels good!

There is an art to phluffing and Cheryl Chapman has put together specific directions with great descriptions, directions, and illustrations. You can take a few moments to check it out at this link: http://www.cherylchapman.com/pdf/phluff.pdf. You can even print the information. As we all know, breast cancer is no party. Phluffing just might be a key to prevent the most prevalent cancer in women.

This week, post my wellness tip on your Facebook page, and send it along to all of your friends, family members, and co-workers. Here is the link: http://www.scs-matters.com/Debra-blog.shtml Every woman deserves to have good breast health.
 

“Office Politics”
Debra Basham
4 June 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
For all of our similarities, humans differ greatly from one another. We have unique history (or her story), and a unique perspective or viewpoint. Now viewpoints are interesting because they seem like reality, but in reality, they are just a point of view.

Office politics are usually thought to be just a given, but notice what happens when you think about winning and losing as simply being points of view. Some people have thought the only way to play is to play to win, but if we give up playing to win, we don’t play to lose. You can play to play.

View every encounter in your life as an opportunity to build relationships and to deepen awareness. Here are some phrases that remind us how to play to play:

The six most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.”

The five most important words: “You did a good job.”

The four most important words: “What is your opinion?”

The three most important words: “If you please.”

The two most important words: “Thank you.”

The most important word: “We”

The least important word: “I”

While it is not practical to ignore “I” completely, you can build from I, going up that ladder of insight and relationship building. From I to we; thank you; if you please; what is your opinion; you did a good job; I made a mistake.

If you have found yourself within a group where the politics is problematic, you might appreciate knowing that, because everyone is different, you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar. Learn to observe others from a point of view of curiosity, and as the book with the same title hints, go about bending the golden rule to give others what they want. Rather than taking office politics personally, see the opportunity for your developing greater emotional intelligence. That is a skill you can take to the bank....

This week, play to play. After all we can play together, even when we’re on opposite teams. It really changes the way you look back on things at the end of the day.
 

“Wall Angels”
Debra Basham
28 May 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
A “wall angel” is a great stretching exercise that you can do against a wall, or even on the floor. Of course, then you might have to call it a floor angel. Nicky Hilsen has a short article in “Massage & Bodywork Magazine” (May/June 2012) describing the technique, and I found several videos by simply doing a Google search for wall angel. The steps are quite simple, but the results can be very profound, even treating or preventing upper-crossed syndrome (a rather troublesome muscle tightness and weakness which contributes to shoulder difficulties).

  • Stand with your back against the wall with your feet about 6 to 8 inches from the wall. Bend your knees a bit and slightly tip your pelvis toward the wall to protect your low back.

  • Imagine a string going straight up from the top of your head as you tuck in your chin ever so slightly. Let your shoulders soften down away from your ears.

  • Bring your arms out at a 90 degree angle, at about shoulder level, and bend your arms at the elbow (also at 90 degrees) while keeping the backs of your hands, your wrists, and the backs of your forearms as flat as possible against the wall.

             

  • Using your breath and maintaining contact with the wall, exhale as you slide your elbows up along the wall. Inhale down to 90 degrees, and on the next exhale, slide your elbows down toward your hips. Inhale back and rest. Repeat a few times, allowing the stretch to strengthen weak back muscles and lengthen strong front muscles.

If you do this stretch on the floor, be sure to bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Again, your pelvis and chin will be tucked in. Some research indicates that physical flexibility is related to mental agility as well. If you are new to stretching, you might want a good general book describing the benefits and the techniques, such as Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy.

This week, stretch your point of view whenever life gives you the opportunity. Rather than automatically think either/or, allow yourself to see both/and, even if you have to use your imagination. And remember it is really helpful when you make sounds as you stretch.

Ahhhhhhhhh.....
 

“Tick Tips”
Debra Basham
21 May 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
As we move outdoors to enjoy summer fun, we are moving into territory that is home to ticks. We do know ticks are part of nature, but since they can carry disease, it is best to have some simple tick tips.

  • Get into the habit of wearing light colored clothing so ticks are easily spotted and removed from your garments.

  • Socks with sneakers or hiking boots are better than sandals.

  • You can tuck long pants right into your socks.

  • Staying on the trail lets you avoid dense vegetation where the ticks live.

Some natural repellents include garlic pills—and, yes, the odorless version seems to work just fine. Neem oil, available at health food stores or online, can be rubbed directly on the skin. Neem oil comes from a type of evergreen in India. Tea tree oil is an astringent, and it is best to be mixed with water (just a bit more water than oil) and sprayed on.

You may be interested in knowing that Vitamin B complex in natural Brewer’s Yeast has been shown to help prevent ticks from biting your dog. The article I read online suggested you mix it with your dogs food: 1 teaspoon for every 30 pounds of body weight. You can check with your vet, because you might also choose to give your dog the Vitamin B complex, along with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It sounds as though what is good for humans might be good for dogs, too.

Even with all these helpful tips, it is still good practice after an outing to check yourself, your children, or your pets before (or upon) entering your home. And be sure to tell others that the best way to remove a tick is not with a lighted match, but a pair of thin tweezers. Then clean the area like you would any other bite.

This week, notice how you can take precautions wisely from a place of knowledge. It is just like keeping the spare tire in your car filled with air, so you can enjoy a safe trip every time you go somewhere, especially the great out-of-doors.
 

“DASH Lifestyle”
Debra Basham
14 May 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
DASH is short for dietary approach to stop hypertension. One marker for overall health is our blood pressure. Most doctors suggest that optimum numbers stay around 120 over 80. The first number is the systolic, the second is the diastolic. Prehypertension is roughly 120-139 over 80-90, and hypertension is classified as 140 or higher over 90 or higher.

One of the easiest ways to make a great improvement in your blood pressure is to enjoy a diet with less sodium. The average man in this country eats 4,200 milligrams of sodium. Women, on average, 3,200. Lowering your sodium intake has been shown to be very effective for those of at least “middle-age.” African Americans also tend to benefit greatly from this dietary improvement.

DASH (http://1.usa.gov/19zNa3) has a comprehensive food plan to help you get healthy and stay healthy. Their suggestion for a balanced, heart-smart regimen is as follows:

  • Carbohydrate 55% of calories

  • Total fat 27% of calories (saturated fat 6% of calories)

  • Protein 18% of calories

  • Sodium 2,300 mg (1,500 mg sodium was a lower goal tested and found to be even better for lowering blood pressure)

  • Fiber 30 g

  • Potassium 4,700 mg

  • Calcium 1,250 mg

  • Magnesium 500 mg (many if not most of us need more magnesium)

  • Cholesterol 150 mg

With a little bit of awareness, you can easily lower your sodium intake. Cook at home—from scratch—when you can, and eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Use oil and vinegar on salads, and get into the habit of rinsing canned foods unless you purchase no-salt options. Really watch mixes and always read labels. Spaghetti sauce can range from over 200 mg to almost 800! When dining out, ask your server which foods are prepared without added sodium. (See “9 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reduce Sodium Intake” at: http://bit.ly/qoHRBu)

In addition to your lowered blood pressure and increased heart health, diets lower in sodium have been shown to reduce the risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis as well. Now that is good medicine.

This week, be aware of the healthier choices you are making. Now, I will grab an apple and head out for a walk.
 

“Blue? Lavender!”
Debra Basham
7 May 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
We all know that humans have been on the planet longer than “modern medicine.” What have we humans relied on for millenia? You are right. Humans have always relied on the wonders of nature to help us stay and get healthy. One of Nature’s wonders you may want to learn more about, especially if you are ever blue, is lavender!

In addition to being a great smelling herb, lavender is showing promise as an effective remedy for both depression and anxiety. According to Jeremy Appleton, N.D., lavender has been shown to be effective as “low-dose benzodiazepines for attenuating anxiety.”

In an article by Appleton published in the Spring 2012 edition of Holistic Primary Care (Vol. 13, No. 1), lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, Russia and Africa, and has been used for centuries. In addition to being an effective remedy for anxiety and depression, uses of lavender for its antibacterial and antifungal has been recognized. If you would like one more reason for being a fan, lavender is also shown to have carminative effects. In common language, lavender prevents flatulence!

Lavender aromatherapy is very popular, but it can also be taken orally. The researchers used capsules of 100 mL or 200 mL, and compared the benefits to placebo capsules. In that particular study, the evidence was more encouraging for low-level anxiety than with clinical anxiety disorders. When lavender oil was taken, the lavender was superior to placebo. The only adverse effects with the lavender oil were digestive—stomach acid or belching—and uncommon.

The article states that “the adverse event profile for lavender is the least severe of the available anxiety and depression treatment options by a wide margin. Unlike benzodiazepines, lavender does not appear to induce psychological or chemical dependence.” If you would like to read more, here is a link to a review (2/7/12) of the literature on the safety and efficacy of lavender, also by Appleton: http://bit.ly/ywJtnu.

This week, allow yourself to be impressed by the wisdom of our natural world. Share this information with someone who might need to be encouraged. It is wonderful to know there are best practices that are safe and effective.
 

“Stormy Weather”
Debra Basham
29 April 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Human emotions can be quite volatile. I think of them as stormy weather. A storm can blow up in a hurry, and do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Just as we have weather-watching systems, we can learn to monitor our emotional well-being to help us keep ourselves and those around us emotionally safe.

An important action is to step right of our left brain (a quotation from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight). One of the key functions of your marvelous left brain is to keep you safe, to make sure you survive. Therefore, it is always scanning the environment for any threat. In the world of our emotions that translates to taking things personally that have nothing (or very, very little) to do with you.

For sure, we affect one another. That is a fact. Being emotionally aware recognizes this truth, and assists you in building bridges, not walls. One of the best ways I have found to avoid emotional storms is to monitor an unconscious tendency I have had toward “overdoing.” You may discover this checklist a good inventory for yourself, or perhaps for anyone since we live very busy lives. (See http://bit.ly/GcIb6.)

  1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
  2. Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can't?
  3. Do you take work with you to bed? on weekends? on vacation?
  4. Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
  5. Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
  6. Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
  7. Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
  8. Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
  9. Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won’t otherwise get done?
  10. Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
  11. Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
  12. Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
  13. Are you afraid that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
  14. Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
  15. Do you do things energetically and competitively including play?
  16. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
  17. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
  18. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep, or when others are talking?
  19. Do you work or read during meals?
  20. Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?

Just as barometric pressure is the measure of the weight of the atmosphere above us, times of increased stress can trigger out-of-control emotions. Fortunately, your commitment to self-awareness enables you to do a better job of weathering the storms of life.

This week, keep a close eye on the forecast and take necessary precautions as you watch for rainbows!
 

“Pain Killers”
Debra Basham
23 April 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
It is rather shocking that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 74 percent of the 20,044 deaths from prescription drug overdoses in 2008 involved opioid painkillers. In 2010, pharmacies in the United States doled out 69 tons of pure oxycodone (sold under the names of OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan), and 42 tons of hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, and Lortab). Even over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and aspirin have a host of undesired side effects, reportedly causing roughly 7,600 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. annually.

Recently I attended the International College of Integrative Medicine conference in Lexington, Kentucky, and I can tell you first hand there are alternatives to these highly addictive and terribly toxic medications!

Of course, as a regular reader of Debra’s Wellness Tips you already know proper nutrition and regular exercise, conscious breathing and effective bodywork, therapeutic music and aromatherapy with essential oils all help prevent illness and lessen pain. Even so, most of us know someone who deals with chronic pain, so, in addition to these basics, you may want to do some research on some of the many therapies that have been shown to provide relief of chronic pain, even pain following surgeries that were undergone to relieve pain!

Prolotherapy is a nonsurgical reconstruction of ligaments in which a localized inflammation in the weakened area stimulates the tissue to repair itself. This link is to a free ebook on the Osteopathic difference, written by William Faber, D.O., of Milwaukee Pain Clinic (http://bit.ly/pXknT1).

Deep muscle pain that is related to trigger points has been shown to respond well to acupuncture, acupressure, and myofascial release work. Check out “Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Frequently Asked Questions” at http://bit.ly/wFgxj1, by Hal Blatman, M.D., of Cincinnati, Ohio.

CranioSacral therapy affects the central nervous system and nourishes the brain and spinal cord. (Frequently Asked Questions—CranioSacral Therapy at http://bit.ly/htTBa1, which is provided by the Upledger Institute.)

Hypnosis has been shown to be effective in pain relief (http://bit.ly/A4Mwv). Some of you have seen my personal story about overcoming chronic pain. If not, let me know, and I will share it with you.

This week, take some time to educate yourself. Many of the best options for you or those you know and love may still be waiting to be discovered by you.

And while it is not always about pain, it is often about a different approach. Take a few minutes to watch a very moving video of Dr. John Laughlin, an amazing dentist who made a life-changing difference working with Baby John Garrick. Grab a tissue, and promise you will watch to the end: http://bit.ly/H7TiSC.
 

“Have a Ball”
Debra Basham
16 April 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Did you know you can strengthen your core and help your lymphatic system by having a ball? Well, this is true if you are lightly bouncing on an exercise ball!

There are some precautions worth taking before you start enjoying the benefits of bouncing.

  • It is best to check with your doctor before starting any workout program.

  • Always wear a pair of good athletic shoes when you are bouncing.

  • Make sure you are bouncing in a location with plenty of space around you.

  • Exercise balls are available at sporting goods stores, and they are an inexpensive exercise tool. Be sure your ball is the proper size for you. Sit on it. You want your knees to form a straight line with your hips. Knees too high, ball too small. Knees too low, ball too big. Read more: http://bit.ly/IRsF1J.

According to Dr. Norm Shealy, called the father of Holistic Medicine, you do not even need an exercise ball to benefit from bouncing! In this short video (http://bit.ly/HD76U5), he says we should all bounce three minutes each hour we are awake. His suggestion is for everyone working in an office to bounce three minutes for every working hour. He says it will give you lots of energy, and you will be more productive.

This week, do yourself a real favor and have a ball as you bounce your way to a healthier you! Just three minutes for every waking hour....
 

“Natural Trauma Treatments”
Debra Basham
9 April 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Trauma generally means damage to a body part. Trauma can be the result of an accident or an injury, as well as a medical intervention (as in the case of surgery). Whatever the cause of the trauma, your body’s reaction becomes part of the problem: swelling, histamine, and discomfort (pain). You might think of it as a traffic jam. The swelling prevents fresh blood flow from aiding in the healing.

You might already know there is new science to indicate that putting ice on an injury might slow healing. Fortunately, as we are seeing things with more wisdom, we are coming to recognize safe, natural healing agents for injuries.

As it turns out the use of wheatgrass appears to be very effective in treating sports injuries including pulled hamstrings, sprained ankles, muscle cramps, blisters, abrasions, wounds, bruises, corks as well as a range of other conditions. Dr. Chris Reynolds, who is a practicing doctor, has used an extract of wheatgrass to treat numerous sports and other injuries since 1995. In his considerable experience, it is without doubt a powerful haemostatic agent—in other words, it stops bleeding quickly. Bleeding noses, open wounds, bruises, sprained ankles, cuts, scratches, abrasions and deep tissue injuries such as corked, torn or pulled muscles usually respond very quickly to wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass is an amazing healing agent, and soft tissue injury is just one of the conditions it works for. (See http://bit.ly/GSx8B4.)

When you use homeopathy (http://bit.ly/GQZQE5) as a natural trauma treatment, Arnica will be a staple. Arnica can significantly reduce swelling, pain, and complications. Because Arnica treats emotional upset and shock as well as physical trauma, present to some degree in any accident or injury, you may wish to choose this one even if the injury does not seem major. Arnica is appropriate even if bruising is already present.

Aromatherapy has been studied to speed recovery time and reduce anxiety by Dr. Oz, cardiovascular surgeon, along with clinical aromatherapist, Jane Buckle, Ph.D. They suggest using lavender, chamomile, or eucalyptus. Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests Frankincense and Myrrh, used in combination. Essential oils are to be diluted with an appropriate “carrier” oil, such as almond, avocado, jojoba. The suggested formula of Dr. Buckle is 15 drops of essential oil and two tablespoons of carrier oil, right on the skin.

After I stopped the bleeding, I put all of these to good use after I slipped going up some steps, hit my forehead hard enough to cause both bleeding and bruising. The Healing Touch™ and Reiki techniques came in very handy, as well as the Emotional Stress Release from polarity therapy. Just put the palm of one hand on the back of your neck, while placing the palm of the other hand on your forehead. These energy medicine tools worked wonders! If you would like more information about energy medicine, email me, and I will share some of my favorite resources.

This week, make sure your medicine cabinet or home first-aid kit has some basics in it for natural trauma treatment because no one plans an accident or injury!
 

“Stroke”
Debra Basham
2 April 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
One of the great advances in medical treatment is in the area of strokes. For sure, it is good that everyone knows the warning signs.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

One way to remember the list of symptoms is by this little list: S, speech. T, trouble with balance. R, remembering. O, off balance. K, killer headache. E, eyes (S-T-R-O-K-E). Call 9-1-1 immediately, and then check the time. As aid is given, knowing the time of the onset of symptoms is critical.

Of course, it is great to know that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented! Here is a list of tips:

  1. Monitor your blood pressure
  2. Treat atrial fibrillation (abnormal heartbeat)
  3. Be a nonsmoker
  4. Limit alcohol consumption to two drinks per day
  5. Keep cholesterol levels healthy
  6. Have healthy insulin levels
  7. Treat circulatory problems
  8. Exercise regularly
  9. Eat wisely

I would add to this list the importance of good mind-body health. Write in a journal to lower stress. Get massage or energy work. Meditate regularly. And enjoy life!

This week, tell someone the stroke warning signs and also tell them how you can prevent strokes by making good choices about your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health! The easiest way to do that might be to just send them this week’s tip.
 

“Mad about Mushrooms”
Debra Basham
26 March 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
While it may be true that you need to develop a taste for them, as a healthy food choice, I admit that I am mad about mushrooms. They are low in calories. They are a fat-free food. Mushrooms are loaded with vitamins and minerals; rich in Vitamin C, D, B6 and B12. They also contain large doses of riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Mushrooms are best stored in the refrigerator, to prevent them from drying out and losing nutritional value.

There are lots of varieties of mushrooms available from your grocery or farm market: White Button, Portabella, Shiitake, Enoki, Maitake, Oyster, Crimini, Beech. I grew up eating wild mushrooms, so Morels are a favorite variety of mine, but since poisonous mushrooms can look a lot like those that are edible, it is best to purchase those unless you know for sure what you are harvesting in the wild.

Fortunately, mushrooms are easy to use in soups, salads, pastas, and even as a substitute for meat.

Some of my personal favorites include a creamy three-mushroom soup; mushroom, artichoke, and sundried tomatoes over angel hair pasta; and mushroom pizzas. Just place portabella mushrooms (one big one for each person is usually perfect) gill-side-down on a baking sheet. Bake until fork tender at about 400 degrees. Usually about 20 minutes is great. Flip the mushrooms over and fill each with a paste of chopped olives or other yummy veggies. Top with your favorite cheese. You can use low-fat mozzarella or I like to use gorgonzola for this recipe. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with some fresh basil and enjoy!

Think about how what we “should” do had often been associated with unpleasant things. Look in the fridge and see some celery sticks and a piece of cheese cake. “I should eat the celery.” After having that satiated feeling, “I shouldn’t have eaten the cheese cake.” One of the wonderful things about mushrooms is you can make good-for-you dishes that create that great-to-eat feeling.

This week, pay attention to the thoughts you think about the choices you make that make you healthier and happier. Put some Spring in your step and your attitude!
 

“Music as Medicine”
Debra Basham
19 March 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Chanting, drumming, singing.... Music has been used by indigenous peoples since the beginning of time. Now science has recognized music as medicine, and it is just as good for the body as it is for the soul.

Music has been shown to:

  • relieve stress

  • lower blood pressure

  • promote restful sleep

  • improve cognitive function

  • aid digestion

  • promote healing

  • lessen pain perception

  • benefit memory

  • improve mood

This year I am using my iPhone as a listening device. One day I was having challenges with my phone, and I had to drive quite a distance (I was on vacation so I was in a totally unfamiliar area) to an Apple store.

Fortunately, I was able to play relaxation music as I was driving, and I arrived in a good state of mind, and this was in spite of the weather and the traffic!

Whatever listening device you use, make a conscious choice to have music be one of the ways you de-stress daily. Listen at bedtime, have a good-mood-on-the-way-to-work piece, and some “I love life” music for listening between work and home.

Use music for babies, including those still in the womb. I suggest a marvelous piece of music by Pamela Chappell that I have used as the background of a guided imagery audio for pregnancy, labor and delivery. You can listen to a sample at this link: http://scs-matters.com/products_download.shtml. Scroll down to “Welcome Baby! Background Music”.

At home, play music that makes you move as well as music that relaxes you deeply. The benefits of music affect us profoundly, because sound (like the other senses) creates powerful anchors.

This week, enjoy music as medicine. The best medicine is prevention, and prevention is music to your ears, your eyes, your nose, and your mouth!
 

“Drinking Tips”
Debra Basham
12 March 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Years ago a friend told me it is better to not drink fluids with meals. I have come to understand more about why this is good digestive practice.

Ordinarily your stomach is very wise, and it will produce the correct gastric juices for what you are eating. If there is too much liquid in your stomach, this process can get mixed up.

When that happens, your body may absorb the water through the membranes of your stomach to get the proper balance of those juices. That can result in the solids being even thicker than normal. This can just be an unnecessary stress on your digestive system.

While it may take a bit of practice to drink plenty of fluids away from meal time, I think you will find that it is worth doing. Because skin is the largest organ of your body, one of the first benefits you might see is healthier skin.

If you had been drinking with your meals, choose one meal that will be the last for your new behavior. The other two meals, eat without drinking fluids. Remember that it takes about six weeks for you to develop a new habit.

This week, watch for signs that this slight change of behavior makes pretty significant improvement overall. I notice that I enjoy feeling less bloated. Think, don’t drink!
 

“Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”
Debra Basham
5 March 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Long before medicine consisted of “treating illness,” the foods we ate were designed to keep you healthy. When you have made a commitment of eating well, make sure you are thinking about how you can use (and even grow and store) herbs.

Parsley is often seen as simply a garnish, but it has amazing health properties: anticancer, anti-inflammatory, healthy heart, healthy immune system (it is loaded with Vitamin K).

Sage is loaded with a variety of antioxidants—in the form of volatile oils, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.

Thyme is rich in both vitamins and minerals, which are essential for good health.

According to a recent article, “Rosemary has a long history as a traditional remedy with such widespread uses as a hair rinse and a cat repellent. When steamed, some say it can treat bronchitis and other forms of congestion, while the link between rosemary and improved cognitive function has long been established.” (See http://on.msnbc.com/wyucQo)

Here is some great information on growing rosemary (http://bit.ly/aCHqRQ) and one on drying garden herbs (http://bit.ly/15GuxD).

This week, before you turn on “Wheel of Fortune“ or “Jeopardy,“ or have that important talk with your boss, rub some rosemary between your hands and take a few deep breaths!
 

“Need to Play”
Debra Basham
27 February 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
As it turns out, according to Stuart Brown, author of Play—How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, play is one of the brain’s best forms of exercise because it allows you to think outside the box.

It might be a surprise to some that play is shown to be a very important element for well-being. And it is not just true for humans. If you have not yet seen it, check out this Russian Youtube video of a snowboarding crow! (See http://bit.ly/zmJv6l.)

From kittens batting a ball of yarn, to dogs catching a Frisbee, play is in your genes. Children just naturally make what they do into play. Bubbles in baths, straws in milk, cartoon characters in vitamins, and peek-a-boo while dressing or undressing.

When you think of play, what comes to your mind? I immediately think of riding my bicycle. It is really convenient when your source of play is also good exercise for your body.

In this February 5, 2012, article, “Fun and Play are Key to Survival for Bears, Dogs, Humans, Birds and Maybe Even Ants,” by Bill Blakemore, “an unnatural lack of play activity, or even worse, the constant suppression of play by a parent or adult group or political leader—may increase the likelihood of violent behavior.”

Right now I am looking forward to some jump rope and some online time for Zen painting (See http://www.buddhaboard.com/). But first, I am thinking bubbles … in a nice warm bath!

This week, make time to play. If anyone says you can’t take time, just send them this tip for well-being.
 

“Say Ahhhh”
Debra Basham
20 February 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
You have to really appreciate it when something that feels good turns out to be good for you, too. That is what research has been showing about the benefits of massage therapy.

In an article “How Massage Helps Heal Muscles and Relieve Pain,” (Time, “Healthland,” Feb. 2, 2012) Maia Szalavitz says, “Massage may work as well as drugs like aspirin or Advil in easing pain from intense exercise.“ And the only side effect you will get with massage or bodywork is the ahhh... (Read more: http://ti.me/wGygGO)

Some of the common names of types of massage include: Swedish Massage, Acupressure, Reflexology, Myofascial Release, Polarity, CranioSacral Therapy, Shiatsu, Rolfing.

Light-touch (or no-touch) approaches are known to promote healing, too: Therapeutic Touch™, Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Quantum Touch, Healing Touch™. Healing Touch™ is the modality I am certified in. Research has shown it to be effective in the treatment of cancer and pain and for general health situations. (See http://www.healingtouchresearch.com/articles.php)

When you think about these for prevention and relaxation or stress relief, use the hair cut ratio for scheduling. One day a month most people get your hair done when you get it cut. Every other day of the month, do your own hair. If you think about it as one or one-and-one-half hour a month, even if your out-of-pocket cost is $75 to $100, over time, you have made a very good investment.

This week, see your acupuncturist, schedule a massage, take some time to work your acupressure points (See “Potent Points,” 14 November 2011, in http://scs-matters.com/Debra-blog.shtml, or make an appointment for some Healing Touch™ (See “Healing Touch” 22 August 2011). Be intentional about the health benefits of touch, and say ahhh....
 

“Stinky Cheese”
Debra Basham
13 February 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Sometimes you get really good information in the most surprising ways. That recently happened to me when my husband and I met a gentleman, Pruitt, while out for our evening walk where we are visiting in South Florida. He told us his wife could not walk with him because of some challenges with her ankles. I casually asked if she might be open to holistic options, to which he replied, “Probably not, but I am.”

The next mile as we walked I was hearing his story….

Several years ago, Pruitt had a blood clot in his leg. He was immediately given Coumadin, a blood-thinner. The clot did not go away, and he was told he would need to stay on the medication for the rest of his life. He did not like the side effects of Coumadin, and something in his memory kept haunting him.

When he was in Japan during the war, Americans would often get blood clots following injuries, but Pruitt said he remembered that none of the Japanese soldiers got blood clots, and he thought he remembered this was because they ate “stinky cheese.” He got busy and did some research.

I looked at the label on the product Pruitt takes. Imagine my surprise when I read the fine print. The active ingredient is Nattokinase, a product my husband’s doctor has had him taking for heart health (he says research shows Nattokinase is a much better choice than taking a baby aspirin).

For over two thousand years, the Japanese people have eaten natto, made from fermented soybeans. The fermentation creates amino acids, enzymes, and specifically pyrazine and nattokinase, which was known to dissolve and even prevent blood clots!

This next part of the story comes with an important rule, “Absolutely do not ever take anything or stop taking anything without doing your own research and working with your health care team!”

Pruitt did not follow that rule. He said he ordered the “stinky cheese” and started taking that and stopped taking the Coumadin. The next time he went to his doctor, his blood levels were perfect, and the doctor was thrilled that blood clot in Pruitt’s leg was gone. But when the doctor asked Pruitt what dose of Coumadin he was taking, he was totally shocked by what he heard. Pruitt said he had been taking Nattokinase. He has been taking it since that time and had just ordered and received 18 month’s supply….

He also told me he had done chelation therapy, after which his hair got dark again, and he was able to stop wearing glasses! He was quite the character, and I enjoyed meeting him very much. It seems odd that his wife would see all this and not yet be open to doing her own research about what might help her situation, too.

This week, do your own research about Nattokinase, chelation therapy, or other possible natural health options you had not known about previously. Humans are always discovering helpful things previously known only to others. We can be grateful for that. We do not all have to discover fire. We can learn and go on to share with others what we have learned. We can do that just as Pruitt did!
 

“Not the Genes”
Debra Basham
6 February 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
It appears that the way our brains age is not in the genes. In the article, “Lifestyle is Main Influence on how the Mind Ages,” researchers have concluded that environmental factors (lifestyle) play the most significant role in how sharp your mind will remain in old age.

Intelligence tests were given first at age 11, then again between the ages of 65 and 79. Researchers found genetic factors only account for 24 percent of changes in intelligence, suggesting environmental factors have the biggest influence on whether a person’s mind remains sharp in old age. (See: http://huff.to/yv283j.)

What are these lifestyle secrets? They will not be new to those of you who are regular readers of this wellness column.

  • Go Mediterranean
  • Do daily stretches
  • Cut back on salt
  • Be positive
  • Get sufficient sleep

Be sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Include plant oils. Remember that EVOO stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well as every victory overcomes obesity! If you know they are healthy for you, add nuts. If you work in a well-ventilated room, eat plenty of beans. By adding these good things you will automatically limit animal fats. Small amounts of low-fat dairy and lean meats are OK.

This week, notice how much more empowering it is to realize the truth: You are making healthy lifestyle choices that are going to result in your mind staying sharp.
 

“Skip the Soda”
Debra Basham
30 January 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
People usually say to get along with others just avoid discussing politics or religion. Suggesting to a soda drinker, “To be healthier, you might just want to skip the soda,” may be up there in the conversations easier to avoid.

Most of us already know sodas are best to be avoided, or for sure one of those “only special occasion” choices, because they are loaded with unwanted sugar. It is now vital for folks to know research is showing diet sodas may also contribute to unwanted girth.

According to Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, “They [diet sodas] may be free of calories, but not of consequences.”

It will take more research to answer all of the questions; however, after three months, mice, which had been given food containing the sweetener aspartame, had higher levels of blood sugar than those given normal food without the sweetener.

It is possible that artifical sweeteners might trigger the appetite and could inhibit brain cells that make you feel full.

So, what are people to do? If regular soda is not good for you, and diet soda isn’t either, what does Dr. Hazuda think people should be drinking? “I think prudence would dictate drinking water.” (Daily Mail)

This week, be more aware of your drinking habits. If you have been a soda drinker, diet or regular, when you are ready for something to drink, have a glass of water first. See if you are still thirsty after that or if water is the healthiest way to quench your thirst.
 

“Surprising Uses”
Debra Basham
23 January 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
I have always been fascinated by surprising uses of ordinary things, even things as mundane as white vinegar or baking soda or Epson salts. Great websites exist for all of these.

A few of the “1001 uses for white vinegar” include killing weeds in the garden, removing odors in clothing or on your feet, soothing sunburn, polishing chrome, removing skunk odors, and tenderizing ribs or stew meat.

Most everyone knows you can use baking soda to brush your teeth, scour your sink, boost your laundry soap, deodorize your refrigerator and drains and dishwasher and garbage disposal. You can use it to extinguish kitchen fires, too!

Epson salt makes a great foot soak, including reducing swelling of sprains and bruises, and tames tendonitis. Use it to remove splinters and try it as a hair volumizer by warming in a pan equal parts with any deep conditioner, working it through your hair and rinsing it out after about 20 minutes. (See http://bit.ly/Ax0kiO)

Making good use of everything includes turning plastic soda bottles into art, crocheting plastic shopping bags into purses, using paper bags to finish walls or floors, and seeing the gift of whatever shows up in your life. One of my favorite quotations about this comes from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening: “The best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.”

After the kidnapping and murder of young Adam Walsh, his parents used their personal loss for public good and, through their advocacy, spurred the formation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the Code Adam program for helping lost children in department stores.

This week, find ways to make good use of all of the “stuff” of your life. If life gives you lemons, even if you have to borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbor, make lemonade.
 

“Aging Well”
Debra Basham
16 January 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
Perhaps it is because my birthday is right around the corner and, for the first time in my life, I could draw Social Security benefits that a health tip about our aging well is on my mind.

The first thing to say is we do not all age along with our chronology. You already know this if you have attended a class reunion and looked at the wide variation of how old (or young) folks of the same general age look. Fortunately, you are never too young (or old) to begin to think about your aging well.

A Google search for the term “aging well” will produce lots of results. I will give you a brief synopsis (with my own twists) and you can apply the ones that make the greatest improvement for your life.

  • Learn to laugh at the tough stuff (one writer said to make yourself the punch line)

  • Think of yourself as a role model so you can inspire others by your lifestyle

  • Find and live your passion (no two snowflakes are alike, you are needed in this world)

  • Live with an attitude of curiosity and generosity

  • Watch less TV and more birds

  • Enjoy eating to live rather than living to eat

  • Although things won’t happen exactly as you imagine it, write your ideal obituary and aspire to make it come true!

As you are reading this tip, you are living at a time unprecedented in human history. At the beginning of this past century, there were estimated to be only 123,000 Americans over the age of 85. Current estimates put that number at over three million people! We now have over 50,000 folks in this country who are over 100. According to the Center for Health Sciences, it is expected there will be 50 million Americans over age 85 by the year 2050. I will turn 100 that year. The best news is that we can embrace aging well, whatever age we are now. Remember that the only cure for aging is premature death.

This week, put into place those lifestyle changes that will support your aging well. I remember years ago I was turning 32 and the son of a friend (his birthday is also January 22) was turning 16. I said, “You are half my age. When I am 50 you will be 25, and when I am 100, you will be 50.” I wasn’t fully aware of what I had said until he said to me, “I like your math!”
 

“On the Move”
Debra Basham
9 January 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
According to Jessica Cassity (“How to Get Slim Without the Gym”, December 18, 2011, Prevention), the biggest health hazard you’re up against just might be a chair—or a couch or recliner—and all the time you spend sitting in it. Most of us know this is true.

Even if you are already thoroughly committed to a more active lifestyle, you will appreciate this visual lecture by Dr. Mike Evans, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto. In a very clever presentation titled “Twenty Three and One-Half Hours“ Evans answers the old question, “What is the single best thing we can do for our health“ in a completely new way. (See: http://bit.ly/umeiee)

According to Linda Carroll at vitals.msnbc.msn.com (where they have a great tag line: “One body. One mind.”), that’s what each of us gets to last a lifetime. For those who might still need a bit more incentive, a group of Australian researchers say they have figured out that if you walk faster than two miles an hour, you can “outrun the Grim Reaper.“

“As none of the men in the study with walking speeds of [3 miles per hour] or greater had contact with Death, this would seem to be the Grim Reaper’s most likely maximum speed; for those wishing to avoid their allotted fate this would be the advised walking speed,” the authors wrote.
Cassity does make some very practical suggestions in a list she calls “100 Ways You Can Stand Up for Your Health.” You can read them at http://abcn.ws/sUg2V6, but here are some that caught my eye:

  • Hide your remote
  • Ditch the hand mixer and use a wooden spoon instead
  • Put most-used items on top or bottom shelf so you have to reach for them
  • Walk to the mail box instead of checking the mail from your car
  • Instead of sitting and reading, walk as you listen to audio books
  • Preset the timer on your TV to turn off after an hour unless you march in place while you watch!

Well, even if you just want to sleep better, get more exercise. Randy Dotiga (Thursday, December 1, 2011, HealthDay News), reports that if you get 150 minutes of activity a week you will likely join others who are less likely to report daytime fatigue.

This week, notice how easily you can get moving, and how much healthier you are for it. The Reaper will not find you sitting there waiting for him to arrive, will he... Make the activity even more fun by scheduling it with a friend or family member you enjoy spending time with anyway. That’s a winning combination!
 

“Low Downs on Let-downs”
Debra Basham
2 January 2012
debra@scs-matters.com

 
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from
your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama

Postholiday blues can find their way into our lives, perhaps just from the lack of balance that is a result of having more than usual on our plates. Even if you are feeling pretty OK right now, everyone can benefit from a few good suggestions. These come from Belinda Munoz, who has her list (See “50+ Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues” at http://bit.ly/8odyYm) broken down into categories. Just her headings will give you some great ideas so you can start 2012 off very well.

Under “Solo,” she has such things as pray or meditate, take a nap, practice yoga, or do any kind of exercise. Actually, exercise has been shown to be clinically effective for both preventing and treating depression. (See Debra’s “Wellness Tips,” October 3, 2011, http://www.scs-matters.com/Debra-blog.shtml.)

Getting “Social” includes breaking out a cookbook and inviting a friend or two over to try a new recipe. If you live alone, organize a food share event with several others. Each participant makes a “family-sized” dish and everyone brings freezer-to-oven containers and takes home healthy meals for a month!

“Lose Yourself” by laughing it up at an improv or comedy club, or just do something silly and let go of any self-conscious feelings. Have you ever heard of Patch Adams, M.D., the Medical doctor, Clown, Performer, Social Activist, Founder and Director of the Gesundheit Institute, a holistic medical community? This one might open up a whole new career for you...

Get out of doors. If it is winter, make a snow angel. Tune in to a nature channel. Play an audio with nature sounds. Get up early enough to see the sun rise. Go outside and look up at the stars. Nature has a way of changing us from the inside out. As William Blake (“Auguries of Innocence”) wrote:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Whenever you are doing creative projects—taking photos, drawing, writing a poem or a short story, playing a musical instrument or singing, even listening to music—you are stimulating whole brain activity. This is why meditation is so restorative. And these things are fun. Choose your favorites.

Suggestions for taking care of yourself include a couple of my favorites: manicure or pedicure, vacation, smoothie, haircut. I would add: schedule a pajama day, make a pot of chicken soup, and let a baby kiss your face.

Brenda finishes her list with “get educated.” The New Year is a great time to learn something worthwhile. Let me know if you would like to schedule the two-hour “Imagine Healing” workshop at your church, workplace, or with a group of family and friends. With Skype as an option, I can be anywhere you are, and since 25 to 30 million Americans will undergo surgery with anesthesia each year, the time is right for this one for sure. Send email to debra@scs-matters.com. Professional trainings (CE credits are available) in conducting the sessions for someone else are also available.

Get busy and do something for others might go hand-in-hand. One other resource mentioned getting back on a budget. Well, make sure you are making good choices in every area of your life.

This week, notice that the things you would do to treat a problem, will most often prevent a problem. Let yourself be inspired. Inspired people are inspiring. The world can use more of that, you know.
 

“Morning After”
Debra Basham
26 December 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

What could happen if Santa got stuck in a chimney?

He might end up with Claustrophobia!

In the January 2012 Beyond Mastery newsletter is an article I wrote on regrets. Regardless of our religion, or how we spent the day, the morning after Christmas seems to provide opportunity for us to evaluate how things went. From the article:

Kathryn Schulz gives a riveting 16-minute talk on TED about the benefits of regret (see http://huff.to/uqgU4j). If you don’t yet get the newsletter, you can sign up to receive it automatically the first of each month simply by going to this link: http://www.scs-matters.com/beyondmastery.shtml. It is a two-step process, so be sure to watch for a confirmation email you will send back. If you don’t see it right away, check in your trash. We never spam anyone, and that is a great promise in this electronic climate. Archives of all the past newsletter issues are also available online. (See http://scs-matters.com/archives.shtml.)

One of the notes in my journal I made from Kathryn’s talk includes three steps to take with regret about something that did or did not happen. First, take comfort in universality. Second, laugh at ourselves. She says humor helps. It does.... Third, passage of time. Her sincerity, her vulnerability, her grasp of the energy of regret and the gifts it can bring comes through in every moment, but especially in the last few heart-felt comments:

If we have dreams and goals, and we want to do our best, and we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or lose them, we should feel regret when things go wrong. The point isn’t to live without any regrets, the point is not to hate ourselves for having them. We need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect, things that we create, and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly. Regret reminds us that we can do better.
Take some time to not only reflect on Christmases past and the things we did badly, but also to think ahead to the New Year and the ways we can always do better. Let’s greet 2012 with a more open heart, a clearer mind, and a healthier body. Let’s say yes to the changes that are sure to come by meeting them halfway.

This week, remember how true it is that if nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies.

“Pearly Whites”
Debra Basham
19 December 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

A woman and her husband interrupted their vacation to go to the dentist. “I want a tooth pulled, and I don’t want Novacaine because I’m in a big hurry,” the woman said. “Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible, and we’ll be on our way.” The dentist was quite impressed. “You’re certainly a courageous woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?” The woman turned to her husband and said, “Show him your tooth, dear.”

If you are considering an electric toothbrush, make sure you get one that is comfortable to hold and easy to use. The bells and whistles, such as adjustable power levels and rechargeable batteries, are just a matter of choice. Manual or electric, the most important thing is to brush and floss daily, according to Alan Carr, D.M.D. (See http://bit.ly/aGw4CQ).

Most of the time he says it is best to brush right after eating. A major exception to that rule has to do with acidic foods or beverages. Wait at least 30 minutes, or brush ahead of time if you know you are going to have orange juice or something else acidic. This will ensure you take good care of your tooth enamel.

He adds that medications can be a cause of dry mouth, and while the best way to treat dry mouth (the medical term is xerostomia—pronounced zeer-o-STO-me-uh) depends on what’s causing it, and the best long-term remedy is to address the cause, there are some things that will relieve dry mouth temporarily:

  • Chew sugar-free gum

  • Limit your caffeine intake

  • Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol

  • Stop tobacco use (smoking or chewing)

  • Sip water

  • Breathe through your nose

  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom

But your developing good dental habits is about more than just your teeth and a great smile. According to Dr. Martha Grogan, “Poor oral health—not regularly brushing or flossing—is unlikely to be the primary cause of heart disease. But poor oral health combined with other risk factors may contribute to heart disease.” (See http://bit.ly/bMoMoD)

Bacteria on your teeth and gums could travel through your bloodstream and attach to fatty plaques in your arteries (atherosclerosis), making the plaques become more swollen (inflamed). If one of the plaques bursts and causes a blood clot to form, you can have a heart attack or stroke.

It’s possible that swelling in gums leads to swelling in other parts of your body, including your arteries. This swelling can also contribute to heart disease.

Regardless of whether you have heart disease, it’s important to take care of your teeth and gums. Steps to good oral hygiene include:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily (Dr. Carr says always just before going to bed)

  • Floss daily

  • Replace your toothbrush at least every three months (I use a “soft“ bristle and replace at once if I have had a sore throat or bug of any sort)

  • Get regular dental check-ups
This week, when you are brushing and flossing your teeth, take a moment to look in the mirror. Think about a change you know would be good for you and good for others in your life. Look yourself in the eye and say (or sing) this line from the Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror”: “Take a look at yourself and then make a change....” And the world will be a better place!
“Thyroid Health”
Debra Basham
12 December 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


I got this joke about being tired from a clean joke website:

I’m Tired! Yes, I’m tired. For several years I’ve been blaming it on getting older, lack of sleep, weekend projects, stale office air, poor nutrition, carrying extra pounds, raising a family, recent colds, and a dozen other reasons that make you wonder why life is getting rough.

But now I found out what’s really happening! I’m tired because I’m overworked. The population of the USA reached 300 million last October. 79 million of the population are retired. That leaves 221 million to do the work. There are 19 million toddlers and 76 million students in schools, which leaves 126 million to do the work. Of that total, 21 million are unemployed, leaving 105 million to do the work.

Then you take away 34 million in hospitals and that leaves 71 million to do the work. 43 million are in prisons and that’s 28 million left to do the work. Now take away 14,683,468 federal, 5,344,722 state and 5,370,743 city workers who run our government and you’re left with 2,601,067 to do the work. Take away the 2,601,065 people in the armed forces and that leaves just two people to do the work—You and Me! And you’re just sitting there reading this! No wonder I’m tired!!!

If you are experiencing tiredness that may be thyroid-related, even this joke might not be funny. Life is too precious to live it without vital energy that cannot exist without good thyroid function. Whether you are male or female, this is a real health issue and one for which there is hope and help.
“Millions of women suffer from low thyroid function (medically referred to as hypothyroidism), especially in the perimenopausal and post-menopausal years. Unfortunately, the conventional approach to thyroid problems is to treat the thyroid in isolation from the rest of the body. But that just isn’t how your body works.” ~ Marcy Holmes (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner) and Marcelle Pick (OB/GYN Nurse Practitioner)
I do not usually do this, but I am going to just send you to this link so you can read about thyroid health. Marcy and Marcelle are not the only ones with good information out there, but I think you will appreciate how easy to read and understand this information is. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/to0bCe.

The January 2012 issue of “Prevention” also has an article about a mother and daughter who both had thyroid disorder. “Curing Their Energy Crisis,“ as told to Margery D. Rosen, is the story of Heather McElrath and her mother, Margaret. The article says to make sure you are getting enough iodine, limit soy products (soy isoflavones can suppress thyroid function), only take supplements that are standardized, be sure to cover your neck if you have a mammogram or dental x-rays, and if you have been a smoker, quit now.

This week, make sure you make knowledge of how you can be healthier and have more energy your number one priority. After all, in “The Princess Bride,” Count Rugen rightly says, “If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.”

“Something Fishy”
Debra Basham
5 December 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Which fish can perform operations?
A Sturgeon!

I agree that joke is more than a little lame, but obviously scientific research on the vast health benefits of fish oil—Omega-3 fatty acids to be more specific—is really stacking up. The shocking news is that this evidence has been around for a while. The following is from May 16, 2005, when Dr. Judith Reichman was on the Today show (see http://on.today.com/sJLvm6):

Fish remains our chief natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids, a fatty acid that our body is unable to produce on its own. Numerous studies have shown that this fatty acid lowers triglycerides, helps prevent abnormal heart rhythms, reduces blood pressure, improves blood clotting and even aids and abets the work of prescription drugs to improve cholesterol levels. It reduces inflammation, helps prevent arthritis and heart disease and promotes healthy brain function.

Researchers have looked at large populations of women (and men) and have found that those who consume fish more than twice a week have lower heart rates, less irregular heart rates, a decrease in heart disease, fewer heart attacks and even fewer cases of sudden death. Higher fish consumption has also been found to significantly decrease heart attacks in diabetic women. Their risk of developing heart disease decreased by 40 percent if they eat fish once a week and 64 percent if they eat it five or more times a week.

The Omega-3 fatty acid content in fish has also been found to possibly protect against Alzheimer’s disease. But we shouldn’t just focus on Omega-3s in our perfuse praise of fish. Fish and shellfish are also a great source of protein and have (depending on type and preparation) less saturated fat, cholesterol and calories than chicken or beef. Fish contains Vitamin D and can help with calcium absorption and prevention of osteoporosis.

And there is some data that women who eat a diet rich in fish are a third less likely to get breast cancer than women who seldom eat fish.

Michael Castleman, author of Nature’s Cures, reports a Cincinnati study where fish oil significantly reduced menstrual cramps. The study featured 42 young women with severe cramps where the dose was 1,800 milligrams a day (see http://bit.ly/tA8BIT).

Mark Thompson posts on Friday, August 26, 2011 (http://ti.me/vXWQpj), “Mom Always Said It Was Brain Food.” Even knowing that, the subheading is rather surprising “'Omega-3: Suicide Fighter?” and well worth taking note of.

Can fish oil help curb the epidemic of military suicides? That’s the startling finding in a new study just published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. It links suicides by military personnel to low level of docosahexaenoic acid—found in fish oil—and finds that troops with higher levels of DHA in their blood were less likely to take their own lives.

Men with depressed DHA levels were 62% more likely to have committed suicide than those with the highest levels. The DHA found in fish oil seems to provide psychiatric benefits. DHA supplements boost the impact of antidepressant medications and reduce attention deficit disorder. They’re just preliminary findings, but they could lead to new ways to shield troops from the mental ravages of war.

As if you needed any more information to be convinced to do the thing that is good for you, fish oil makes Dr. Andrew Weil’s “10 Ways to Have a Happier Life” list (see http://huff.to/vFktiH):

Adequate blood levels of these nutrients has been strongly tied to emotional health. They are so necessary and deficiencies are so common in the developed world that I believe everyone, depressed or not, should take them. Take up to three grams of a quality, molecularly distilled fish oil supplement daily—look for 1,000 mg capsules of combined docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosaentaenoic acid (EPA) in a ratio of about three or four to one. I also recommend 2,000 IU of Vitamin D each day.

This week, make sure the only thing fishy going on, it that you are taking appropriate fish oil and getting the benefits of those Omega-3 fatty acids.

“Breathe”
Debra Basham
28 November 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

“Man can live about forty days without food,
about three days without water, about eight minutes without air,
but only for one second without hope.”

I am not sure who said that, but it certainly is thought provoking, isn’t it. We all know our breath is vital. Kala Abrose writes about breath as a way to think cool thoughts in an August 14, 2011, article for Huffington Post:

When we hear bad news, we instinctively tighten up and go into protection mode. Our breathing becomes shallow and if the stress continues, we forget to take care of ourselves. During this time, it’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves, eating right, exercising and remembering to breathe deeply. Pay attention to your body right now, are you sitting hunched over your computer? If so, sit back and lower your arms to your side. Take a deep breath in and hold it to the count of three, then breathe out deeply, exhaling through the mouth. Try it again, breathing in deeply and feeling your body relaxing, focusing just on the act of breathing. One more time, take a deep breath in and think of nothing but the pleasure of your body relaxing as it takes in a deep breath of air and exhales the breath outward. This simple act can pull you mentally and emotionally out of a tense moment and return you back to a calm state.
Breath patterns and emotions are intimately linked to your well-being. When you breathe deeply and slowly, from a spontaneous, easy, comfortable space, you feel peace, optimism, and other good things. Your muscles are relaxed and you have warm feelings (sensations and emotions), because your body is producing valium, immunomodulators, interleukins, interferon, and oxytocin. Oxytocin is my favorite ... sometimes called the cuddle chemical or the love hormone.

Breathing consciously is one of the quickest ways to lower stress in your body. This is because when you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe more deeply to relax.

Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Happiness: Eight Weeks to a Lifetime of Emotional Well-Being, and founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, has a cool little webpage with three breathing exercises. Here is the link for that information:  http://bit.ly/sRROt. One of the three (he says it is a favorite) is the 4-7-8 Relaxing Breath:

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times.

As with many other breath exercises, the suggestions include sitting comfortably with your back straight, and keeping the tip of your tongue just behind your upper front teeth.

While some breathing exercises are a bit to learn consciously, the main thing is to become conscious of your breathing. If you catch yourself feeling stress anywhere in your body, just take a deep, cleansing breath, even if you don't always count. You can do the more complex breathing exercises for special occasions, if you prefer, and just breathe deeply and slowly most of the time.

This week, get a balloon and blow it up, or sing a song (it is time for Christmas carols if you are into those), or just make all the vowel sounds as you breathe. A.... E.... I....O....Oooo. If anyone looks at you strangely or asks what you are doing, just tell them you are manufacturing some oxytocin. It will surely take your mind off what ever had been bothering you and put it where it will do you more good—on your breath!

“Thanks Giving”
Debra Basham
21 November 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Thanks Giving
In the spirit of humanity, we give thanks for all that is.
We thank the great spiritual beings who have shared their wisdom.
We thank our ancestors who brought us to where we are now.
We are grateful for the opportunity to walk this planet,
to breathe the air, to taste the food,
to experience sensations of a human body/mind,
to share in this wonder that is life.
We are grateful for the natural world that supports us,
for the community of humankind that enables us
to do many wondrous things.
We are grateful that we are conscious,
that as intelligent beings we can reflect upon the many
gifts we have been given.
~ Unknown

This writing comes from a November 18, 2011, Huffington Post entry in their Religion section called “Thanksgiving Quotes, Prayers and Blessings: Inspiration for a Holiday of Gratitude.” It can be found at this link: http://huff.to/gyvQuX, and if you are gathering with family or friends, perhaps you can share it with them.

In the United States this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Some years Thanksgiving Day is also the birthday of my husband, John, but this year his birthday is on Sunday. From an article in Forbes, “Want to Celebrate 100? Live Smarter and You Can Live to be Older“ (May 7, 2006): “If you really want to live longer, then start with your attitude. Your way of thinking not only improves your outlook on life, but also how long you actually live. In 2002, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that optimistic people decreased their risk of early death by 50 percent compared with those who leaned more toward pessimism.”

If you want to live a long, healthy, life, it may be wise to make every Thursday a day for thanks giving, because according to an ABC News article (October 25, 2005) by Ned Potter, “Positive Thinking the Key to a Longer Life?” the evidence keeps mounting. “You can bring about biochemical, molecular, physiological changes in the body that are effective in treating stress conditions,“ said Dr. Herbert Benson, founding president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Benson is the author of several best-selling books on what he calls “the relaxation response,” a technique he says people can use daily to control stress.

Jeffrey Kluger, in a Time Magazine article, “The Biology of Belief” (Thursday, February 12, 2009), writes that research indicates even AIDS is affected by the attitude that might be called faith.

[A] growing body of scientific evidence suggests that faith may indeed bring us health. People who attend religious services do have a lower risk of dying in any one year than people who don't attend. People who believe in a loving God fare better after a diagnosis of illness than people who believe in a punitive God. No less a killer than AIDS will back off at least a bit when it's hit with a double-barreled blast of belief. “Even accounting for medications,” says Dr. Gail Ironson, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Miami who studies HIV and religious belief, “spirituality predicts for better disease control.”
I recently heard a powerful comment: What if tomorrow you woke up and only had in your life those things that you had given thanks for yesterday. Wow....

This week, whatever else we are doing, let’s all be more intentional as we focus on the things in our lives that are truly worthy of giving thanks for.

“Potent Points”
Debra Basham
14 November 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


Just about every week there is another article saying how acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating things like infertility and hot flashes, in relieving problems from addictions to stress, and very helpful for those being treated for cancer. You can read more about all that in “Decoding an Ancient Therapy: High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills,” The Wall Street Journal Health Journal, March 22, 2010. (http://on.wsj.com/aOFUhO)

This week I had email from someone who had been sick for over a month. This was the person’s self report: “Its like a blocked Eustachian tube from what feels like bad sinusitis. My right ear is blocked and my nose is so clogged most of the time that there’s post nasal drip like crazy. My head has a really off balance feeling that makes me so nauseas most of the time. I’m on my third antibiotic now and maybe feel a little better, but the worst part is I can’t really sleep because my head clogs up so bad it creates vertigo!”

OK, I admit that I am one who likes therapies I can do on my own, but that is just one of the reasons I mentioned acupressure. This is the message I received back: “After you suggested acupressure I did look up some acupressure for sinus/ear problems and I think it did make a difference! I’m feeling much better today anyway.”

If I had my way, just about every household would have a copy of Acupressure’s Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments, by Michael Reed Gach. When I was first using this book I had a very interesting experience with my husband. I was working a point on his shinbone. He said that the area was tender. When I looked up the point, I was surprised to read that it was related to constipation. Now, given his normal digestion pattern, that would have been the last thing I would have expected, but he said he had been constipated! Gach has a pretty nice website: http://www.acupressure.com.

Acupressure is great for a lot of reasons, not just because it is something you can easily do for yourself and your family, but also because some people have a fear of needles. Of course, fear of needles (any other phobias, too) can be cleared in just a few minutes doing the “Fast Phobia Cure,” an application of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), which was co-developed by Richard Bandler. In the Spring of 2010 I had an article published about how a woman was able to overcome the fear of flying so she could go see Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama. Here is a link: http://www.abh-abnlp.com/AccessJournalSpring2010Final.pdf if you would like to read the entire article. It is quite remarkable.

In a January 13, 2010, ABC News online article, Dr. Tony Chon, Mayo Clinic, says “There’s been no research validating whether acupuncture or acupressure is better. It’s just a matter of opinion. There’s a long history of success in both methods.”

This week, think about ordering a copy of the book. For sure you can save 32 percent right now on Amazon, but acupressure might be a way that you can save a lot more than that. It has been shown to prevent colds and flu, treat headaches, eliminate arthritis pain, and my husband will testify that it alleviates constipation! The main thing is to be more aware that there are things you can do for yourself for your health. We all know people all over the planet were taking care of themselves long before there was a Walgreen’s on every busy corner.

“Healthy Brews”
Debra Basham
7 November 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”     ~Frank Sinatra

I am not sure that healthy brews are what Ol’ Blue Eyes had in mind when he said that, but do you agree or disagree that it is exciting that more and more those of us who choose to be healthy are more and more thinking about teas and herbal blends as additional ways we can enjoy life more for a lot longer.

I saw this blend in an article called “Getting Back to Wellness” (Daily Om October 31, 2011).

If you feel ill health coming on, brew a wellness elixir. Simmer three sliced lemons, one teaspoon freshly grated ginger, one clove freshly minced garlic, and one quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper in five cups water until the lemons are soft and pale. Strain a portion into a mug and add honey by tablespoons until you can tolerate the taste. Drinking this potent mixture of antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal ingredients three times each day can ensure your symptoms never progress into a full-blown illness.
You have to appreciate anything that lets you nip something in the bud like that.

For a long time I have used a hot drink to aid digestion: 6 ounces of hot water, two tablespoons of organic lemon juice, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and one tablespoon of organic maple syrup. I admit it is hot going down, and it certainly gets things moving, if you know what I mean.

A great article titled “Easily grown herbs make for flavorful, healthy brews” will get you started if you are new to conjuring up healthy brews, or it might inspire you if you have already been taking good care of yourself that way. You will find a recipe for a relaxing “After Deadline Tea” and one of my favorites, ginger tea. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/ts5wmL

Although this is the time of year hot brews are really welcome, I enjoy making fresh yogurt drinks year-round, too. I like to start with organic yogurt and add fresh fruit. At this time of year apples are great, as well as pears. Add an organic banana if you like, or some frozen red raspberries or blueberries. Pop it all in the blender, and if you need it, use a bit of orange juice to thin things down. Yummy....

This week, be mindful of the things you drink. Someone once asked me how long my house plants would live if I poured on them what I drank each day. Make this the time of year you take time to be really good to yourself. We might just have to edit Frank’s comment so it says we feel sorry for people who don’t drink healthy brews, because when they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they are going to feel all day. Let’s drink to a healthier future for us all. Bottom’s up!

“Tricks for Treats”
Debra Basham
31 October 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


It is pretty much common knowledge that, with better diets and healthier lifestyles, you can prevent many of the most serious diseases. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) says it could prevent up to 2.8 million cases of cancer each year.

Although obviously what is right for you will be different based on your height, your ideal weight, your current level of activity, and your level of fitness, the FDA recommends the average (is anyone average?) person consume 2,000 calories a day. FDA General Guide to Calories considers a product with 40 calories as low, 100 calories as moderate, and 400 calories as high. The FDA recommends the average person consume 300 grams of carbohydrates a day. The FDA recommends the average person consume 65 grams of total fat a day. And you need protein because protein is essential for your building muscle. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. Protein also helps with building new tissue and repairing damaged tissue (which occurs every time you use your muscles). Protein sources include: milk, meat, fish, egg, and vegetables. Think about whey, egg, rice, and soy as being some of the excellent protein sources.

As we approach the time of year when our lives are much more likely to be influenced by candies and cookies and all sorts of high-calorie and high-fat treats, here are some healthy snack tricks you can choose to keep yourself and your family healthy. One caution: allergies and other special needs should be taken into account, but here are some general suggestions that make good sense and healthy bodies.

  • nuts
  • fresh or frozen fruits
  • yogurt (I love the organic, plain version from Stonyfield, and I mix it with fruit and top it with fresh-ground flax seed)
  • cheese
  • peanut butter (or try sunflower butter.... yum!)
  • eggs (grateful to live near some organic chickens)
  • sweet potato chips (or the new purple variety http://on.msnbc.com/rcgbiL)
  • hummus
  • fresh fruit smoothies
  • whole grained cereals
  • healthier baked goods made from fruits and vegetables like banana or zucchini bread or carrot bars

You will see these, along with other great ideas, when you read Parents online article, “20 Best Snacks for Kids,” at this link: http://bit.ly/bsqXmE.

Here is the first question to a little quiz about how you can avoid hidden calories in healthy-seeming snack foods that comes from Dr. Oz (http://bit.ly/KmE9m):

Nothing satisfies a mid-afternoon slump like a good healthy snack. Snacks can be a between-meal pick-me-up with many nutritional advantages. Snacking helps your metabolism stay well-tuned, keeps you from sabotaging a well-meaning diet and prevents ravenous overeating at mealtimes. It keeps blood sugar level so you aren't irritable and helps you focused. Kids get much of their nutrition throughout the day from snacks and most diets make provisions for snacking. But seemingly healthful snacks can pack a caloric punch without your knowledge. Let’s test your snack smarts and see if you can pick out the healthy poser.

Question: It’s 4:00 and you’re stuck at work with the poorly-stocked kitchen. Which snack has fewer calories, trail mix or cookies?

Answer: Cookies

Commercially prepared trail mix can be loaded with salted peanuts, milk chocolate morsels and sugarcoated dried fruit that can make a 1/2 cup cost you 320 calories. Whereas one raisin cookie weighs in at 250 calories. The solution? Make your own trail mix: include true tree nuts like raw almonds and walnuts for protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids; and dried cranberries and dark chocolate for antioxidants.

This week, decide now two or three tricks that will allow you to have healthier Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, and Easter treats. You will enjoy the benefits every day for the rest of your life!

“Workout at Work”
Debra Basham
24 October 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


Jean Lawrence, author of the WebMD article, “Exercise at Your Desk” (http://bit.ly/MwYhJ), writes, “While you shouldn’t give up on your home or gym exercise routine, you can certainly supplement it with exercises done at your desk (and, on those extra-long workdays, it’s much better than doing nothing.)” Check out these easy ways to get in your workout at work:

  • Glance at the wall clock and rip off a minute’s worth of jumping jacks.

  • Do a football-like drill of running in place for 60 seconds. Get those knees up! (Beginners, march in place.)

  • Simulate jumping rope for a minute: Hop on alternate feet, or on both feet at once.

  • While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.

  • If you can step into a vacant office or conference room, shadow box for a minute or two. Or just walk around the room as fast as you can.

  • Or do walk-lunges in your office or a vacant room.

  • Take to the stairs, two at a time if you need a harder workout! Do this 5-7 times a day.

Another article, “Seated Total Body Strength“ (http://bit.ly/3Jk3Zf), has several easy exercises that you can do in a chair. The article says you can get more of a workout with the lower body exercises by adding ankle weights. I can see that becoming a healthy trend around the office, but make sure you tell everyone why you are doing it otherwise it might make HR a bit nervous….

Long-distance travel in planes, trains, and automobiles may increase the risk for deep-vein thrombosis. Prevention tips include wearing compression stocking in flights longer than eight hours, and being sure you drink plenty of water goes right along with walking up and down the aisle. You can point and flex your feet every 20 minutes, and for some great reminders scroll down to see the tip for well-being from September 13, 2010 (“Tai Chi in Flight”).

This tip comes at a good time for me, too, since I will have just flown to Germany, then auto-traveled around the South of France, Italy, Austria, and flown back home. My host is an American civilian who works for the U.S. Army as an Occupational Therapist in the Return-to-Duty Program. While we were seeing the sights, and I was doing my seated chair exercises, I was also teaching her NLP’s advanced language patterns that she will use to help wounded soldiers put their lives back together.

This week, put into practice some easy ways to get regular exercise. The days are getting shorter, and the weather is keeping us indoors more of the time. “We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day,” says Joan Price, author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book. Get your workout at work. Most of us spend more waking hours there than we do at home. Where there is a will, there is a way for you to be more fit and feel better, too.

“Eye Health”
Debra Basham
17 October 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


Where is the eye located? “Y” it is located right between the “H” and the “J.”

OK, so I agree with you that joke was a bit corny. But knowing you can eat foods so you enjoy good eye health is anything but. It turns out that the old wives’ tales about carrots were correct even long before we knew that lutein (an antioxidant in the carotenoid family) is essential for eye health.

Here is a list of ten foods (http://bit.ly/aRoHsn) found to be beneficial for good eye health. Another list I saw online also included blackberries, soy, and orange bell peppers.

  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Garlic
  • Salmon

Lutein is found in dark green leafy vegetables and egg yolks. Kale and spinach have high concentrations. Corn and collard greens also have this substance. Spinach, the long-time favorite of PopEYE, is loaded with lutein. Some recent studies have found that just 6 mg of lutein a day reduced the risk of macular degeneration by 43 percent!

You can buy supplements that contain lutein to make sure you’re getting enough, and you might want to check to see what vitamins are considered good for your eyes. Here is one link: Eye Vitamins for Macular Degeneration.

Most of us have been told to be sure to eat our carrots. Here is a link to AARP’s Ten Great Carrot Recipes, including a delicious ginger carrot soup and yummy spiced carrot bran muffins. (See http://aarp.us/poZY25.)

Come to find out, lutein occurs naturally in the macula area of the retina. This is the part of the retina which is responsible for our central vision, and it is the central area of vision that is lost in macular degeneration.

This week, take some time to be grateful for your vision. Take a good appreciative look at yourself in the mirror. Enjoy the profound awareness that a spinach salad, a bowl of carrot soup, two eggs over easy, or an afternoon snack of sunflower seeds are all ways you are contributing to your enjoying good eye health.

“Be Bigger Than Anger”
Debra Basham
10 October 2011
debra@scs-matters.com


“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
For revenge is a two-sided sword. It destroys all,
and spares none.” ~ Confucius

Have you ever noticed how people use words to describe anger as though it were a substance? “Anger was building up.” “Anger was boiling over.” “He (or she) was filled with anger.” Well, we are now entering an age (thanks in part to functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI) of awareness that our emotions are not something, but are a result of our thoughts and our actions. Fortunately, that means you can be bigger than anger. And that is a very good thing for your health and well-being.

In her book, Emotional Freedom, Dr. Judith Orloff makes a point of the importance of forgiveness, which she defines as “the act of compassionately releasing the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. It’s a state of grace, nothing you can force or pretend.” She says there are no short cuts.

The Fetzer Institute has been very involved in research on forgiveness. According to their website, leading this effort is Everett L. Worthington, Jr., professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Topics of research include:

  • Forgiveness in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, Steven J. Sandage, Ph.D., Bethel University
  • The Oppressor and Oppressed: Investigations of Forgiving Oneself and Forgiving Others, Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, Ph.D., Hope College)
  • The Role of Forgiveness in End-of-Life Care and Bereavement, Julie Juola Exline, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
  • Transgression and Forgiveness in the Laboratory: Forgiveness of Others and Self-forgiveness, Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D., Baylor University)
  • Forgiveness in Christian Colleges: Effects on the College Community, Everett L. Worthington, Jr., Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
  • The Effect of Forgiveness of an Ex-Spouse on Parenting and Mental Health, Mark Rye, Ph.D., University of Dayton);
  • Attachment Style, Group Cohesiveness, and the Effects of Interventions to Promote Forgiveness, Nathaniel G. Wade, Ph.D., Iowa State University.

Often I have heard the discussion about forgiveness take a quick right-angle turn to assuming that your behaving from forgiveness means you let others abuse you. Orloff makes it clear that your motivation is based in your own desire for well-being. She writes, “Forgiveness refers to the actor, not the act. Not to the offense, but the woundedness of the offender. This doesn't mean you’ll run back to your battering spouse because of compassion for the damaged person he or she is. Of course, you want to spare yourself mistreatment.”

“Forgiveness is a paradigm-shifting solution for transforming anger. It liberates you from the trap of endless revenge so that you can experience more joy and connection. Forgiveness does more for you than anyone else because it liberates you from negativity and lets you move forward. Forgiving might not make anger totally dissolve, but it will give you the freedom of knowing you are so much more.”

You will want to read the entire article, “How to Forgive In 3 Steps,” (http://huff.to/npBBYi), but here are a few of her examples worth pondering:

  • A good friend acts inconsiderately when she’s having a bad day. Remember, nobody’s perfect. You may want to let the incident slide. If you do mention it, don’t make this one-time slight into a big deal. Give your friend a break—forgive the lapse.

  • A coworker takes credit for your ideas. Do damage control—whether it means mentioning this situation to the coworker, your boss or Human Resources. And don’t trust her with ideas in the future. However, try to forgive the coworker who has to stoop so low as to steal from you.

  • Your mother-in-law is needy or demanding. Keep setting kind, but firm boundaries so over time you can reach palatable compromises. But also have mercy on the insecurities beneath her neediness and demands—perhaps she experiences fear of being alone, of aging, of being excluded from the family or of not being heard. This will soften your response to her.

  • You suffered childhood abuse. The healing process of recovering from abuse requires enormous compassion for yourself and is facilitated by support from other abuse survivors, family, friends or a therapist. Still, if you feel ready to work towards forgiveness of an abuser, it might require seeing the brokenness and suffering that would make the person want to commit such harm. This is a huge stretch of compassion, but it could possibly be the path to freedom.

This week, notice how you, too, can make forgiveness work for you in your life, even (and maybe especially) in those times and situations where anger is justified. There is growing clinical evidence to support that forgiveness is good for your heart! (See “When the Heart Pays the Price of Anger” at http://nyti.ms/o5XmSD.)

“Treating Depression”
Debra Basham
3 October 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

On a website about depression, I read that it is estimated that each year over 17 million American adults experience a period of clinical depression. Whether that statistic is accurate or not, many of us know people who are, have, or might experience depression. One tip I will give right out of the gate, is to remember the importance of the use of our language, but I will say more about that a bit later. For now, lets look at one key factor that everyone can benefit from: exercise.

In a New York Times article, “Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression,” (August 31, 2011), Gretchen Reynolds quotes James A. Blumenthal, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. Blumenthal was not involved with this study but he has written extensively about exercise and depression. Although he cautions that the results of this particular study are nowhere near conclusive, he says that “Evidence is accumulating that exercise may be an effective treatment for depressed patients who are receptive to exercise as a possible treatment and who are able to safely engage in exercise.”

I don’t know if you, like me, make choices based on the mandate to first do no harm, but this one seems to be a no brainer. The question a researcher (Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas) started with was a simple one: Can a stroll help ease depression? He began to be preoccupied with the question after several of his patients (they were all being treated for serious depression) mentioned that they felt happier if they went for a walk. A couple of good points are that, if exercise is going to be recognized as a valid treatment, compliance and ways to evaluate the output will be necessary. I found many references online that agree on the importance of exercise as it relates to relief of depression, including one with the heading: Lifestyle changes that can treat depression (http://bit.ly/a7VMR3). Notice that exercise is number one on the list:

  1. Exercise. Regular exercise is a powerful depression fighter. Not only does it boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. Best of all, you don’t have to train for a marathon to reap the benefits. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days.

  2. Nutrition. Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. They'll get you going without the all-too-soon sugar crash.

  3. Sleep. Sleep has a strong effect on mood. When you don't get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation exacerbates irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue. Make sure you're getting enough sleep each night. Very few people do well on less than 7 hours a night. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours each night.

  4. Social Support. Strong social networks reduce isolation, a key risk factor for depression. Keep in regular contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others while also helping yourself.

  5. Stress Reduction. Make changes in your life to help manage and reduce stress. Too much stress exacerbates depression and puts you at risk for future depression.

You may want to read the entire article about his research (http://nyti.ms/orgkFM). Admitting that additional studies are needed, Dr. Trivedi says there is no reason for people with unyielding depression to wait to talk to their doctors about exercise as a treatment option.

“Side effects are almost nonexistent,” he said, “while you get additional benefits, in terms of improvements in cardiovascular health and reductions in other disease risks,” things antidepressant drugs do not provide. “Plus,” he pointed out, “the cost profile is very favorable.” Exercise, as medicines go, is cheap.

This week, think about the way exercise might not only be the best treatment for depression, it might just be the best prevention as well.

“Curb Hot Flashes”
Debra Basham
26 September 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

This week’s health tip was inspired by a line in an article in the September/October AARP magazine. The title of the article by Melissa Walker is “Funny Business.” The subtitle is “A comedian plots to leave corporate America—forever,” and it is about Mary Ellen DePetrillo Rinaldi’s journey from earning six figures as a global accounts manager for a technology-training company to the owner of her own production company and her work as a stand-up comedian. The article ends with a line about her hot flashes: “I have ripped my shirt off so many times, the only place I can have dinner now is Hooters.” A funny line, but for any woman (or man) who has experienced them, hot flashes are no laughing matter.

Hot flashes, considered by many the most challenging symptom related to menopause, are probably the result of declining levels of estrogen. Fortunately, a March 7, 2011, news article by Linsey Davis and Jennifer Metz, reports that acupuncture “curbs the severity of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, largely related to mood.” Here is a link to the article: http://abcn.ws/i1OwXf.

Of course, as the article states, this is just the latest use of acupuncture that research has shown to be effective for.

Menopause is the latest use of the 2,000 year-old Chinese tradition—it’s already being used to reduce symptoms related to arthritis, back, neck, knee and shoulder pain, and anxiety. At the Mayo Clinic, acupuncture is part of the standard care for all patients in the Joint Replacement Center. Doctors there are also involved in their own trial of the benefits of acupuncture for hot flashes. Researchers suggest the reason acupuncture may work for women suffering from hot flashes is that the treatment is able to boost the production of endorphins, and that could help stabilize body temperature.
After just the second or third treatment, women reported significantly fewer hot flashes, some saying they were not flashing at all during the day anymore. Night sweats were also reported to have diminished with the acupuncture.

According to Medicine.net, although we may not know for sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, anxiety and hot flashes seem to be related. “Women’s anxiety scores were directly correlated with the severity and frequency of hot flashes, even when factors such as blood estrogen levels, cigarette smoking, and stage of menopause were taken into account. Those women with the highest anxiety levels reported almost five times as many hot flashes as less-anxious women, and women with moderate anxiety had hot flashes three times as often as those with normal levels of anxiety.”

A few years back I worked with a guy who had had a couple of bee stings, in two incidents, just a few days apart. He had a severe reaction, and before I saw him, he had been treated in the ER department of three hospitals. He had received the best of what Western Medicine had to offer, which included several injections. However, when I first saw him, he was in terrible pain from the burning and itching and his entire body looked as though he had severe sunburn. I made a call to my acupuncturist, and she was able to guide me in some measures to do until he could get in to see her the next day. Even with some relief, he could barely get dressed and get to the appointment, but one session with her and he was almost symptom free. A second session was all it took to get total relief!

This week, be open to new understandings and to additional ways you can improve your well-being. How many ways might you have been willing to suffer without noticing you can do things that make your life better in myriad ways. Acupuncture may just be one....

“Call a Lie
a Lie”
Debra Basham
19 September 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Laura Harvey, Editor of “Daily Word Magazine,” made a very significant observation in her life that she shared in an article titled “How I Broke All the Rules—But Still Quit Smoking.” She said she learned to call a lie a lie when she would hear herself say, “I need a cigarette.”
The truth is, we don’t need cigarettes. We need something, but it’s not a cigarette. We need a break, we need a few moments alone, we need a distraction, we need to slow down, we need to give ourselves a gift, we need to feel nurtured, we need a moment’s peace. But we do not need a cigarette.
It might shock you to realize that other people would buy into the lies we had told ourselves, too. Recently I had a call from a woman about a smoking cessation session with her adult daughter. The daughter has some emotional/mental challenges, but her mother reported to me that her daughter is able to live independently. Somewhere in the conversation the mother said, “I feel bad for her because smoking is the only thing she has to comfort her.”

Oh, you can bet your lucky penny that I immediately invited her to challenge that belief! I compassionately said, “Is that true? Your daughter has absolutely nothing but smoking to comfort her? Not music, not nature, not her faith, not your love?” I am grateful to report that the mother immediately recounted the statement and admitted that all these things are there as comfort for her, for her daughter, and for everyone else in the world, too. That woman took an important step we all need to take when she was able to call a lie a lie.

So this time, when I heard myself say anything close to “I need a cigarette,” I’d answer back forcefully with "That’s a lie! I do not need a cigarette." Any lie brought into the light loses its power. Just the simple act of calling the lie a lie was enough to loosen its grip on me, and slowly my belief in the lie started to fade.
Over and over, humans have been seduced into thinking that a belief you held is true just because we had believed it! Remember that the belief that the world was flat was also based totally on untruth. Think how long human thinking had been dominated by that lie. Many things you and I have believed have been, too. Harvey continues:
If I needed a break, I would take a break, but without the cigarette. If I needed a few moments of peace, I’d go to my room, shut the door and meditate or take a quick nap. If I felt tense, I’d exercise. If I wanted to enjoy the evening air, I would take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, but without the cigarette. In time, my belief changed, and I finally believed that I didn’t need the cigarettes after all.
The article makes some other really good points, too, and it is not just about how anyone can be successful at becoming a former smoker by changing your beliefs. It is really about how you can change your life by noticing your beliefs and learning to call a lie a lie. You can read the whole article at this link: http://huff.to/oLO9bt.

This week, begin to notice those places you will benefit in your life every time you are able to call a lie a lie. The first belief I am going to challenge is about not having enough time to get things done and really enjoy life. Gosh. We all know every hour has 60 minutes, and every day has 24 hours, and every year has 365 days. Well, not exactly 365 days in every year because leap year has 366, so we can enjoy them all more now ... every one of them!

“RX Nature”
Debra Basham
12 September 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

OK, even if you are not a tree-hugger, after this week’s tip you will want to make it a point to spend more time out in nature. As one blogger wrote, “It’s not just that going out in Nature is peaceful (even though it is) or that it’s pretty (even though it is), it’s an amazing prescription for modern dis-ease.”

Would you be surprised to know that research indicates some time gardening or taking a trip to the wilderness results in many psychological, emotional, and physical benefits? The facts show these benefits might be behind the success in wilderness therapy programs, as well as wilderness rites of passage. It may also be why pet therapy programs are such hits at schools, hospitals, and assisted living facilities.

The following comes from Health Benefits of Gardens in Hospitals, by Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D.

The belief that plants and gardens are beneficial for patients in healthcare environments is more than one thousand years old, and appears prominently in Asian and Western cultures (Ulrich and Parsons, 1992).

During the Middle Ages in Europe, for example, monasteries created elaborate gardens to bring pleasant, soothing distraction to the ill (Gierlach-Spriggs et al., 1998). European and American hospitals in the 1800s commonly contained gardens and plants as prominent features (Nightingale, 1860).

Gardens became less prevalent in hospitals during the early decades of the 1900s, however, as major advances in medical science caused hospital administrators and architects to concentrate on creating healthcare buildings that would reduce infection risk and serve as functionally efficient settings for new medical technology. The strong emphasis on infection reduction, together with the priority given to functional efficiency, shaped the design of hundreds of major hospitals internationally—that are now considered starkly institutional, unacceptably stressful, and unsuited to the emotional needs of patients, their families, and even healthcare staff (Ulrich, 1991; Horsburgh, 1995).

Despite the intense stress often caused by illness, pain, and traumatic hospital experiences, little attention was given to creating environments that would calm patients or otherwise address emotional needs (Ulrich, 2001).

Fortunately, that is changing and most people now know that spending time out in nature reduces your stress level, increases your sense of well-being, and brings you to an internal locus of control. Hospitals and other healing environments are again planning gardens. Dentist offices have nature scenes playing in the treatment rooms. Churches are putting out bird feeders. Cities are creating green spaces.

Since we cannot always enjoy as much time out in nature every day as we would like to, here are a few tips that will let you get some of the benefits every day.

  1. Choose a nature scene for the background of your computer screen.

  2. Have some nature music for listening and enjoying. One of my favorites is Chet Day’s Cat’s Purr CD.

  3. Place a favorite nature scene photo on your desk, or load a number of nature images on a digital frame.

  4. Visit the photo pages of an Audubon society. Our Florida connection is http://bit.ly/mZ5wGd.

  5. If you know you love the mountains, or the ocean, or the desert, choose a painting, print, or photo of that scene, and hang curtains or drapes on either side to create the feeling of looking out a window at what you love.

This week, be intentional about your awareness of the healing benefits of nature. When you can, get out for a walk. Notice the plays of light and the shifting seasons. Let yourself be nurtured ... and pass the good feelings along.

“Just Say NO
to Free”
Debra Basham
5 September 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Most of us have heard the phrase, “There is no free lunch.” I confess I have consumed the free food, and then asked for a box to take home my meal, but if you can believe an article by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding (Men’s Health, January 18, 2011), when it comes to “Free” restaurant food, it is best to just say NO!

The article tells all, listing the high calories from fat, sodium, and carbohydrates, and naming names. You will be shocked to see all the details, but here is a list of what they found to be the big offenders:

  1. Fazoli’s breadsticks
  2. Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits
  3. Ruby Tuesday’s endless fries
  4. On the Border’s chips and salsa
  5. Denny’s unlimited pancakes
  6. Olive Garden’s bottomless salad and breadsticks

Now, you may know that salsa is the number one condiment, but not be thrilled to read the grim details for the chips and salsa from On the Border. They weighed in at 430 calories, 22 grams (4 grams of saturated fat) of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates, and 460 milligrams of sodium. Gosh, and we know that a 150 pound person burns off less than 500 calories from an hour of high impact aerobic exercise. Yikes!

Many of these offenders added more calories than are suggested for an entire meal (see http://bit.ly/g1QIhB), but I am not sure it is just the restaurants choices that have been problematic. Perhaps we are all more like kids than we like to admit.

I was recently at dinner with a little one (15 months old), and I was once again aware of how unnatural eating out really is for humans. We would never put our child in a highchair at home and expect that child to sit there for 30-40 minutes while waiting for food. We would prepare the food, and then, when it was ready, we would put the child in the chair. We would immediately feed him or her. When he or she had finished eating, we would immediately return him or her to whatever activity was holding attention for the moment, but for sure it would quickly be out of the chair. How many extra calories had you been eating while you were sitting waiting for your order to be prepared? If you were drinking beverage with calories, those figured as extras, too.

This week, if you are going to eat out, tuck a deck of cards in your briefcase or purse, and when you arrive at the table, deal a hand or two of 500 Rummy. That seems a better use of 500 than if you had consumed the added calories. You can make it Solitaire if you are dining alone. This way you will add some extra play to your day, and it will reduce the temptation, so you will eat a healthy amount of food. Sometimes you just want to make it really easy for you to do the best thing....

“Tech-no-logical Tools”
Debra Basham
29 August 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

A profound truth is one that allows you to see things as they really are. One of my favorites is, “The tool is neutral.” I am still integrating this truth where it comes to technology. Recently, I was amazed to see the “logical” in the word technological. I was so excited I quickly shared my awareness with a good friend. She just as quickly shot back, “Look again. It says “no” logical!

How true it is that the tool of technology is neutral. The same search function that lets two octogenarian siblings find one another after six decades of being separated can be used for identity theft. It is obvious that YOU bring the ethics to any tool you use, and it may be that we can all use technology to lessen stress in our lives.

Do you remember the song, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number? It was a hit by Steely Dan way back in 1974. One of the most often recalled lines is, “Send it off in a letter to yourself.” Back then that meant write it on paper, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mailbox. In 2011, you have ways to make things so much easier on yourself....

Have you thought about sending information you want to have available to yourself in an email from your smart phone while you are not at your desk? Technology is becoming more and more mobile all the time, meaning there are more and more ways for you to use it wisely.

I found this cool website with tips for using technology. Be sure to check out John Chamber’s One Minute Tip: “Podcasted Technology Tips for Busy People.”

Tip 172: Really Deleting Files—tells you how to make sure all your confidential files are deleted when you get a new computer and sell, donate, or gift your previous one.

If bike riding is one of your favorite ways to get in your daily exercise, Tip 169: Google Maps and Bikes—lets you create your own path, using the drop and drag method.

Tip 163: YouTube’s Educational Channel at www.youtube.com/edu lets you take music lessons and learn scientific theories with more meaning and more EASE.

You may find some of the other tips helpful, too. Here is the link: http://www.oneminutetip.com/

Your health, as well as your work, is affected by your relationship to technological advances. In the article, “Struggling with Information Overload” (see http://huff.to/nkeYl5), Larry Magid says he used to think he could manage his busy life by multitasking, but research is showing that is not viable. “But except for things like walking and chewing gum, multitasking is a myth. When it comes to cognitive tasks, our brains aren’t really capable of competently doing more than one thing at a time.”

All of this reminds me of the saying, “Love people, not things; use things, not people,” most often attributed to Spencer W. Kimball. This week, remember you can discover many ways to stay present to your own life and to those important people in it as you let technology improve your life and the lives of those you care about.

“Healing Touch”
Debra Basham
22 August 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

If you will grant me a bit of personal indulgence, this week’s wellness tip is about my own experience with Healing Touch™. It is not an accident that it comes to you while I am heading to San Antonio for the 2011 Healing Touch Worldwide Conference. In addition to a workshop called “Cool Responses for Heated Discussions,” Joel and I will be presenting a postconference workshop on “Using Guided Imagery for Surgical Support (Imagine Healing)”. I expect the conference to be very powerful, but it was a deeply tender, personal experience I had with a client this week that caused me to choose the subject of Healing Touch™.

I received a call from this man’s daughter, asking me to visit her father at the hospital. This gentleman was an inpatient, being treated for a bacterial infection in his abdomen. His condition was considered quite serious. In addition to the more serious physical challenges related to the infection, he had hiccups, the deep, hard, painful spasms.... and he had had them day and night for six days!

His daughter has been trained in a healing method (Reiki), so after a brief assessment, I invited her to work with me. We began with a full-body technique (originally taught as Magnetic Unruffling, now called Magnetic Passes). We worked for a while, switching sides of the bed to protect our own posture, doing repetitive movements from above his head, along the full length of and off his body.

Next, I encouraged his daughter to find what she might think of as an edge, and just hold her hands there allowing whatever was needed to happen. We talked about how healing is the most natural process in the world. As we each held our hands there, we talked about her father’s beliefs and his religious practice, as he has been a minister for all of her life. She told me her father was not afraid of death. I suggested they arrange to play his favorite hymn (“Amazing Grace” with bagpipes!) while he was there in the hospital. As we continued to hold our hands, and our sacred intentions, we noticed slightly longer times between hiccups. They continued to slow, and his breathing became more normal, and then the hiccups stopped.

We left a “heart hand print” with her dad, and after a bit of instruction in a technique called “Tendon Guard Release” the nurse came back wanting to take vitals. Her father was sleeping peacefully for the first time in days, so we asked the nurse to let him sleep. If her dad’s relief was a coincidence, we were all grateful for it. After almost 20 years of doing the work, I continue to be in awe. Although her dad had hiccups upon waking, the following morning “his plumbing” started working and she described things as “night and day.”

Some find it is easy for you to accept this. After all, I was doing laying-on-of-hands, anointing with oil, and prayers for healing as part of communion in my church long before I had ever heard of Healing Touch™. And it is true that the early research on Therapeutic Touch™ was based on teaching a family member to do this for their loved one. Children really respond well. Animals do, too.

Thank you for letting me share something profoundly personal. This week, remember that even if not everyone agrees about everything all the time, maybe you can share something that is meaningful for you with others, too.

“Words Matter”
Debra Basham
15 August 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

According to the article “Semantics of Longevity: Why Words are a Matter of Life and Death” Laura Rowley says research seems to once again have proven that the rhyme we heard (and most likely said) as kids, is definitely not true, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” You can see the full article in the Daily Finance at: http://srph.it/oIXlB7. Come to find out, simply the way the question was phrased (researchers asked whether they expected to “live to” or to “die by” a specific age) was able to influence someone’s estimate of their lifespan—by more than nine years!

According to the article, “We wanted to know whether beliefs about how long one might live would differ with simple changes in framing, and if so, how big is the effect,” says John Payne, a Duke University business professor. “The answer is yes, it does matter, and the effects are huge.”

Now, I admit to having a true bias for conscious communication, meaning the way you can notice how what you say (out loud to another or sometimes even more powerfully what you say to yourself as part of your thinking) makes such a difference. For example, if I say to a child that we will go to the movies “if” or “when” or “after” he or she finishes lunch, the behavior will be influenced in the same way the researchers influenced the estimate of the interviewee’s lifespan. Subtle communication systems play a significant role in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

I saw a woman who has been successful in quitting smoking. This is something she has wanted for quite a while, but now she is so excited that her goal has become her reality. While it is true that when I talked to her recently, she was still thinking of herself as a “former” smoker, her identity has already changed with her new attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Her attitude now is one that it is so worth it, on every level. Her beliefs are that she is able to be successful because of the benefits she gains. Her behaviors include the things that allow her to enjoy her new health, freedom, and she has also influenced the estimate of her lifespan, just like those who were interviewed.

You have probably heard people say things like, “I am a person who _______.” Just fill in the blank. You might have actually used those words yourself. Think how that is such a frozen evaluation. what is it that would always be true of anyone? At times in the past I was a person who rode my bike to work. At times in the past I was a person who did not eat meat. At times in the past I was a person who did thus and so. We have all had experience with having done something that you no longer do. Even things like drinking from a bottle or feeding on the breast, or going to the bathroom in a diaper. Life is a constant state of your giving up things that no longer work for you, so you can go on and live a long, healthy, happy, life.

It is worth noting the rest of that research:

In a separate study, the researchers asked respondents about life annuities—an investment that requires a large, immediate and nonrefundable payment in exchange for a stream of monthly payments, guaranteed for life. Obviously, the sooner you expect to die, the less attractive an annuity investment becomes.

Participants were presented first with an online brochure titled, “How to Invest for Retirement.” It described a life annuity and a self-managed retirement account. Then participants completed the same life-expectancy task, with half in the “live to” frame and half in the “die-by” frame.

On average, individuals in the live-to frame judged their probability of being alive at age 85 at 52 percent, while those in the die-by frame judged their probability of being alive at 85 at 30 percent. As with the previous studies, there was an approximately 10-year gap in the median expected age of death.

Next, half of these participants evaluated a single life annuity and reported the likelihood of a purchase. On average, 39 percent of those who judged themselves likely to live longer said they were likely to buy, while only 26 percent for those who expected to die sooner planned to buy.

“Individuals in the live-to frame, in particular, showed the strongest sensitivity to estimated life expectations in their annuity preferences,” the researchers write. That suggests that the way the longevity question is framed—and the way you think about your life expectancy—weighs heavily on decisions about future financial outcomes.

James Hubert (Eubie) Blake was an American composer, the only surviving child of eight. All of the rest of his siblings died in infancy. Eubie was born in 1887 and lived until 1983. In addition to his amazing contribution to the arts, he is famous for having said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

This week, be someone who is taking very good care of yourself, making good choices, enjoying a healthy lifestyle—not out of the fear of dying, but out of the joy of your living your life as someone who expects to live a very long time.

“Why Exercise?”
Debra Basham
8 August 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

A while back I wrote an article for our monthly Beyond Mastery newsletter with the title, “You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover.” I used book titles to tell the whole story. It was fun, and some folks really thought it was clever. Here is a link to the article about the book titles: June 2008, in case you want to enjoy reading it. The newsletter is something you can “opt in” to receive each month, but we have all the past issues archived, too.

I was thinking I should do this week’s tip on all the titles of news articles about why you want to exercise.

  1. Strenuous Exercise May Protect Aging Brain, by Janice Lloyd

  2. The Relationship Between Exercise And Self-Control, by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.

  3. When Mom Exercises in Pregnancy, Her Baby’s Heart Benefits, by Bonnie Rochman

  4. Exercise May Keep Your Cells Biologically Young, by Lauren Cox

  5. Exercise and Be Happy, by Sharon Begley

  6. Exercise After 30 May Curb Breast Cancer Risk (Reuters)

  7. Sweat Your Way to a Bigger Brain, Dean Ornish, M.D.

  8. Workouts May Help Ease Chronic Back Pain (Reuters)

  9. We’re Born to Walk, by Bernadine Healy M.D.

I just have to share more about this last one which says, “More than 140 exercise-related genes are awakened if the body gets off the couch and engages in physical activity. These sleeping beauties make proteins with wide-ranging benefits to body metabolism, muscle mass, fat deposition, blood vessels, and immune function. As C. Ronald Kahn, endocrinologist and president of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, says, if you don’t exercise, you ’dysregulate’ your genes.”

This week, learn to laugh more. To help you get started, this comes to you from my joke file:

Dear Diary... For Christmas this year, my daughter (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Since I know I need to get in shape I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try. I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer I’ll call Bruce, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swimwear. My daughter seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started. The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

Monday: Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Bruce waiting for me. He is something of a Greek God—with blonde hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!! Bruce gave me a tour and showed me the machines. He took my pulse after five minutes on the treadmill. He was alarmed that my pulse was so fast, but I attribute it to standing next to him in his Lycra aerobic outfit. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring. Bruce was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around. This is going be a FANTASTIC week!!

Tuesday: I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Bruce made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air, then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. Bruce’s rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!! It’s a whole new life for me.

Wednesday: The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying my toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn’t try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot. Bruce was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered the other club members. His voice is a little too perky for early in the morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying. My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Bruce put me on the stair monster. Why the heck would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Bruce told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. He said some other lies, too.

Thursday: Bruce was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn’t help being a half an hour late, it took me that long to tie my shoes. Bruce took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and hid in the locker room. He sent Lars to find me, then, as punishment, put me on the rowing machine—which I sank.

Friday: I hate Bruce more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic little cheerleader. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it. Bruce wanted me to work on my triceps. I don’t have any triceps! And if you don’t want dents in the floor, don’t hand me the barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich. The treadmill flung me off, and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn’t it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?

Saturday: Bruce left a message on my answering machine in his berating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing him made me want to smash the machine with my planner. However, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up watching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.

Sunday: I’m having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my daughter chooses a gift for me that is fun, like a root canal or a hysterectomy.

OK, so no one knows the value of your regular exercising better than you. If you only remember one thing from this tip, remember to “exercise” your right to enjoy yourselves with all this.
“Pest Control”
Debra Basham
1 August 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

A number of years ago we had a termite infestation, so recently I received a brochure in the mail from the company that treated our home and does annual inspections to make sure things are still in good shape. I was quite stunned by the fear the ad was using to try to get me to buy additional services.

The headline was: “What, inside your home, has caught the attention of medical experts?” It went on to list horrific things that could come from nature’s creatures. The one that really caught my attention was ants: ”Ants have been suspected to be carriers of more than a dozen pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Pseudomonas and Clostridium.” Yikes ... I knew they are carriers of crumbs, but this is ridiculous.

Now, I am not naïve to how frustrating an ant infestation can be. I have a story of my own about fire ants in Gulf Shores ... but part of the reason the exaggerated threat of ants caught my eye was because the same day I saw the ad, I had read a CBS news story, “Small Wonders: What Ants Can Teach Us.” I won’t try to give you all the dope on ants, but you might like to know (according to Deborah Gordon, professor of biology at Stanford), what is amazing is how colonies of ants accomplish amazing feats—without a boss, with nobody in charge, with no bureaucrats, no foremen, no managers. Ants accomplish these amazing feats together by just doing what it is their nature to do.

Nature is smart. Trees know when to bud. Birds know when to migrate. Bears know where to hibernate. I am glad you know how to tune in to your natural intelligence, too. There are some really natural ways to deal with pests.

I found a recipe for a good natural repellent. Simply mix five drops of geranium or rosemary oil with two ounces of witch hazel in a spray bottle. Add ten drops of cedarwood oil, shake, apply, and go enjoy the great out-of-doors. Geranium and lemongrass are good repellents, too, but be sure to dilute essential oils. If you shop around, you can also buy some effective and healthy products. Watch for those that have products you recognize, like eucalyptus, bay leaf, tea tree oil, or patchouli.

The point is, notice when someone is saying something to you (especially in an ad or on the news) that sounds really scary. Most likely they are trying to get you to buy something. And that something might not be very good for you.

You might enjoy learning how to “interpret” nature’s creatures by looking at the meaning as it reveals itself through observation. You can buy books about these observations, usually referred to as “animal medicine” or “totem animals.” You can also just pay attention to what you know to be true. The following observations came from a website by someone in Alaska. It is called “Cycle of Power: Animal Totems.” This is about ants:

The ant is very industrious. Some ants are solitary but most are part of a large community. Within the community there is a repertory of activities and behaviors. Their activities include gathering and hunting. Within a community each ant knows its place and performs its duties with total loyalty to the whole.

Worker ants are excellent architects and can show us how to construct our dreams into reality. Ants are very persistent and can teach this skill as well.

The power of ant medicine is teamwork. Each ant will do its part to ensure the survival and health of the whole colony, regardless of the role it has been assigned. If ant has to fight, it will; if ant has to dig tunnels, it will; if ant has to carry leaves for miles, it will, all for the good of the community.

Ants are selfless servants always looking out for their fellow ant. They focus on the best outcome for the community and teach the art of self sacrifice and true service. The queen ant has wings and the ability of flight until fertilized. Once fertilized she pulls off her own wings sacrificing her own flight for the birth of a newborn. Although there is a caste system within the ant community all ants honor and respect each other and work for the common good.

Ants are tireless workers and hunters and teach the art of perseverance and patience in all that they do. Those with this totem will find that many of their life lessons will involve the mastery of patience in some way.

For some reason, I am suddenly remembering that famous line from FDR’s first Inaugural address: “[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This week, make some time to get out and enjoy nature. Think of those who would try to make you afraid of nature as the real pests. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Definitely not ants....
“Stay Cool”
Debra Basham
24 July 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Yikes.... North American has been experiencing a real heat wave. According to Miles Grant (http://bit.ly/nr0XYH) the extra heat may be a trend. We all know weather goes in cycles. Grant’s Tuesday July 19, 2011, blog says we have been dealing with higher-than-average temperatures for decades.
“June 2011 was the 316th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985.”
Now, I admit to being a bit like Goldilocks. Whether weather or porridge, I don’t like it too cold, and I don’t like it too hot. Kids can be at risk because they love being outside and they are not particularly aware of the need to stay properly hydrated. Some medications, such as diuretics or anti-cholingeric agents (like Benadryl) or sleep aids, can make people more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Here are some easy tips for staying healthy in the heat:

  • Take kids to the lake or pool or let them enjoy water-balloons, playing in the sprinkler, or with squirt guns.
  • Wear loose clothing. Maybe you have a granny gown or a gauze “wedding shirt” still hanging in a closet.
  • Eat light meals. Ever notice you get hot after a big meal ... that is your furnace firing up to burn off the calories!
  • Choose cotton or linen or seersucker fabrics.
  • Take an ice pack to bed with you.
  • Run cool water over your wrists to cool your pulse points the same way a cold washcloth lowers a fever.
  • Ditch the down pillow until fall or winter. Switch to one made of organic cotton.
  • Eat spicy foods! They make you sweat and that will cool you down.
  • Sip on lemonade quinine water.
  • Control your temper.

OK. So you might be surprised by that last one ... but it is true. Research has shown that our emotional centers in the brain have an effect on heat control. Most likely this is a result of the hypothalamus. You have seen people blush so you know faces show that temperatures, tied to emotions, can fluctuate. Emotions may even lead to severe temperature shifts even to the extent of fever, or in the case of cold, hypothermia. Tempers do tend to flare with heat, as can violence. So here are some tips for keeping your cool:

  • Ask yourself if what had you so upset will matter that much a hundred years from now.
  • Shift your perspective to see things from the other’s point of view.
  • Count to ten.
  • Take three deep breaths, and let it go.
  • Remember you cannot take an angry word back. It is like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube.
  • Take better care of you—even if it is someone or something else you were upset with, anger was affecting your health.
  • Walk around the block.
  • Say what is real with compassion for yourself and the other/s, “My emotions are getting out of control. I need some space/time to get myself cooled down.”
  • Express your feelings in a journal or write a letter to release the feelings but don’t sent it.
  • Dance, sing, hop, skip, jump ... just get active to get a shift in perspective.
  • Sleep it off.

The following article has some really helpful tips for saving energy during hot times. I knew some of them, but some surprised me. I knew turning a thermostat down to cool a room more quickly did not work, but I did not know that it actually made the air conditioner run longer. Here is the link:  http://bit.ly/lRoYPp.

This week, be aware of how you are able to stay cool and conserve energy physically and emotionally. Remember the expression HALT, and never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. This one is probably good advice for every season!

“Placebos”
Debra Basham
18 July 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Recently I was the guest pastor at Unity on the Lakeshore in Douglas. If you would enjoy hearing the whole lesson and the meditation on “Imagine Healing,” it is available at http://blog.unityls.org/. I told this joke as my opening:
A guy suffering from a miserable cold begs his doctor for relief. The doctor gives him a prescription, but after a week, the guy’s still sick. He goes back to the doctor, and, this time the doctor gives him a shot. But that doesn't help his condition either.

On the third trip to the doctor, the doctor says, “Okay, this is what I want you to do. Go home and take a hot bath. Get right out of the tub, immediately open all the windows, and stand in the draft until you are thoroughly chilled.“

“I’ll get pneumonia!“ protests the patient.

“I know,“ said the doctor. “That I can cure.“

If giving yourself pneumonia to get over the common cold does not sound like sound advice to you either, then perhaps it is really important for you to recognize, understand, and honor the power punch that research has shown is carried by the placebo effect. In fact, “what people believe about their medicines matters.“

Those of you who have followed my column for a while, or if you have taken workshops or classes with me, already know that what you think about things is really important, especially when it comes to your being healthy. You have heard me suggest to avoid using your body to express emotions. One friend just wrote about this thanking me for teaching her not to use phrases such as:

  • What a pain in the foot or pain in the neck (or whatever other body part like a word for “donkey“ one chooses to use)
  • My heart bleeds for them. OR My heart aches for them. OR That hurts my heart. That's so complex it makes my head hurt just thinking about it. (spoken often by a friend of mine who suffers frequently from headaches)
  • That scares me to death.

Essentially we may discover more about the reasons these sorts of things make such a big difference (small changes ... infinite results). We can get good at getting well by adding your psychological and emotional intelligence to healthy habits. That is what the process at http://ImagineHealing.info is all about, but for now, it may just make good sense to make good use of whatever helps.

According to a recent article, “Common cold curbed with placebos, study finds.... If you believe chicken soup or Vitamin C helps speed your recovery—then stick with it,” placebo users recovered from the symptoms of the common cold a full 2.5 days sooner than their no-pill counterparts. See the article at http://on.msnbc.com/mSyBEe.

This week, begin to maximize the placebo effect by using some affirmations. “More and more, I allow my body to heal.” “I remind myself that I make good choices, not out of fear of disease, but out of the true joy of living.” “Sometimes I feel fear, anger, or sadness, and I accept that is what I am feeling in the moment.” “I recognize my emotions as something I am experiencing in the moment, and I relax knowing when I go to sleep my body is restoring itself naturally.” Hmmm. I think you can tell that we are all already feeling better, don’t you....

“Black Walnuts and Daffodils”
Debra Basham
11 July 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Mark Nepo (The Book of Awakening) wrote of his having learned about love watching his father-in-law “watering black walnuts six inches high that wouldn’t be fully grown for a 150 years.” That got me thinking about what allows you to invest your time, your money, your energy—your life—doing things that will benefit others long after you are gone.

We do that with our children, believing they will live on after we are no longer in body. We certainly do that with our grandchildren, even more so. I don’t know for sure, but I am thinking I will experience that to an even greater degree when I am a great grandmother. Although he is not yet married and says he does not think he wants to have children, great grandparent could be close for me since my elder grandson is 21.

As I ponder this today, I am aware more deeply of the emotion my 80-year-old mother-in-law was expressing when her 43 year-old grandson died, and she said, “Why didn’t I go instead of Scott?”

Both the planting and tending of the black walnut trees, and the surrendering to the way life is unfolding in all its uncertainty, call for courage of spirit or what is sometimes called character. And the way you develop more of that just might be through regular exercise!

In an article “Why Exercise Makes Us Feel Good,” (N.Y. Times, Saturday, July 9), Gretchen Reynolds writes, “Why does exercise make us happy and calm? Almost everyone agrees that it generally does, a conclusion supported by research. A survey by Norwegian researchers published this month, for instance, found that those who engaged in any exercise, even a small amount, reported improved mental health....”

I saw a suggestive T-shirt showing a guy on a bike. The caption read, “Put some fun between your legs.” My daughter and I swear that twenty minutes on our bicycles is good medicine. Obviously, others think so, too.

The research was done with mice not men, but it does seem to provide good evidence and the article is probably well worth a quick read. Here is the link: http://nyti.ms/p4Ld1v. What the research found is encouraging: exercise intertwines with emotions, along with the soothing message that it may not require much physical activity to provide lasting emotional resilience.

And take heart knowing that they found excessive amounts of daily exercise are not needed (or desirable) for you to achieve emotional resilience. “The mice in his lab ran only when and for as long as they wished, over the course of several weeks.” Moderate levels of exercise seem to provide the most stress-relieving benefits!

Before you move on with the “busy” of your day, enjoy reading a story, “The Daffodil Principle,” from the book Celebration, by Jaroldeen Edwards. The story reminds me of one of my favorite forms of exercise which is to walk the labyrinth shown in the photo below, especially when the daffodils are in bloom. Check out Still Waters, a retreat house in Buchanan, Michigan (www.StillWaters.org).

This week, be aware of those areas in your life that are worth your investing your time and money and energy into the future, not just for your sake, but also for the sake of those who come behind....


“Independence”
Debra Basham
4 July 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Wow.... It has been over 30 years ago when I first declared my home a “smoke-free” zone. It was not a popular action, because at that time, smoking was very popular in American culture. We saw teachers and students smoking at school, and we saw doctors and patients smoking in hospitals. We saw our heros smoking on TV. Ads told us smoking was the way to be sexy, popular, smart, and a lot of other things. We were not only buying a pack of Salems, Winstons, or Camels, but we were also also buying a pack of lies.

Recently I saw a line I really resonate with: A leader is not one who says, “Follow me.” A leader is one who says, “I'll go first.”

According to an article in The AARP Magazine (July-August 2011), research indicates going first and thinking twice before you undergo the knife (have surgery) is something we should all pay attention to. The article, “Four Surgeries to Avoid,” by Karen Cheney, says the following procedures are overperformed for a variety of reasons: “some are moneymakers for hospitals and doctors, others are expedient, and still other seem to work, at least in the short term.”

If you want to read the entire article, here is the link: http://aarp.us/l5uyPc, but I will do my best to share with you some of the alternatives the article says are good choices for you to make.

Stents—for Stable Angina

Suggestions: Diet, exercise, medications. Why? Cheney says “If plaque is forming in your arteries, this is a systemic disease; a stent won’t keep even a full inch of your arteries clear. You’ll still need aggressive medical therapy to prevent future problems.” Fortunately, if you are a regular reader of my health tips or if you have attended workshops with me, you probably already know that Dean Ornish, M.D. has been able to help people heal cardiovascular disease with lifestyle changes, including one hour per day of yoga, meditation, or guided imagery. Here is a recap of that research: http://bit.ly/iW9NFi

Compex Spinal Fusion—for Stenosis

Suggestions: Physical therapy, cortisone injections, acupuncture, and medications. Why? According to Arnold Weil, M.D., clinical assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, “Probably less than 5 percent of all back pain requires surgery.” I am certainly thankful I learned alternatives when I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. You can read more about that here: Debra’s Story: Freedom From Pain.

Hysterectomy—for Uterine Fibroids

Suggestions: Uterine-artery embolization (cutting off blood supply to the fibroids), or focused ultrasound (shrinks the fibroids). “It’s kind of amazing that we’ve had all these alternative procedures for many years and they haven’t gained a lot of traction,” says William Parker, M.D., author of A Gynecologist’s Second Opinion, and lead investigator of a 2009 study on the long-term health consequences of hysterectomy.

Knee Arthroscopy—for Osteoarthritis

Suggestions: “start with the least harmful and invasive treatment...” Why? Except in cases where the meniscal tissue is torn, studies show the surgery group and those opting for less invasive treatments had nearly identical outcomes.

This week, declare your independence! Be willing to seek a second opinion when that is appropriate, just as I declared my home smoke-free. Just do whatever helps you find the path for your own healing. This means find what works for you. It may go against the mainstream. Remember: No individual is a statistic.

“Gr-attitude”
Debra Basham
27 June 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie

Even though I am a self-confessed wordsmith, I had not previously noticed that the word gratitude has the word attitude contained phonetically within it. Yes, we all know attitude is a big deal, but for now, let’s look more at the attitude of “gratitude.”

If you think about the idea of your attitude of gratitude turning a meal into a feast, I am reminded of having read about a practice called “sleeping with bread.” During the Holocaust, children were instructed to save part of their bread each day. They were to hold it in their hands, while they fell asleep, so they would always sleep well knowing there would be bread when they woke up hungry the following morning.

Stories of the children of the Holocaust are coming out. They are just one of the things that can touch your heart deeply, and bring you to gratitude for the innocence of all children.

I was 4 years old and my brother was 5-1/2 years old when we were first separated from our parents and placed in a Protestant orphanage in Belgium. I was a depressed and confused child, but with the passing of time, I began to believe that all children lived away from their parents. (adl.org/children_holocaust/children_main1.asp)
The original saying was that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (meaning you need the appropriate raw materials to generate the desired result), but my husband has always said I can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. For sure, we had humble beginnings, having married when I was a sophomore and he was a junior in high school! Even as a child, though, I loved making spaces comfortable. A tree house, a play house, my bedroom. You know how just the right attention to detail yields such joy for you and for your guests, turning a house into a home. I used to be awake all night redecorating or redesigning a space after being in someone’s home for the first time. And even today, whenever I see an abandoned house I feel a sense of possibility....

Do you know what it is like to meet a person for the first time and totally be at ease, as though he or she is a long-time friend? Often that connection can happen so quickly, and our lives are forever touched. I still remember the nurse who happened to live across the street from an intersection where my dad and I were involved in an auto accident. She administered first aid and waited with me for the ambulance to arrive. Her name was Barbara ... and I was twelve years old. It was August 12, 1962.

I am quite sure the man off whom University of South Florida lineman Danous Estenor recently lifted a 3,500 pound Cadillac feels gratitude to him.... (For the whole story, see http://bit.ly/kWfWt4.)

This week, notice the things in your life that are asking for you to look upon them with an attitude of gratitude. Probably none of us have to hold onto a crust of bread to know we will have something to eat tomorrow. But, it does not have to be just the big things. We can be grateful so it all makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

“Obsession”
Debra Basham
20 June 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

“A halo only has to fall a couple of inches to become a noose.” ~ Farmer's Almanac

As an executive wellness coach, many people are surprised that I don’t talk about weight loss. Yes, for many Americans, ideal weight is something you will enjoy as your weight is lower than it had been, but recently I flipped through one of the social magazines as I was waiting in line at the grocery store. The cover story was about eating disorders. Obviously, ideal weight for those folks is not just about weighing less. I was shocked at what I saw, and I wondered how someone could have such a distorted view of things, distorted enough that they had put their health and well-being in such jeopardy.

Obsession is how. Too much of a good thing can be bad. Take something really important like proper nutrition. Some people are so compulsive about good nutrition they make themselves sick. Literally. There are those who won’t eat anything cooked. Some don’t eat meat. Others eat only organic. Some are vegan. I appreciated the balance presented by Dana Ullman (America’s leading spokesman on homeopathy) in his article, “Is it Unhealthy To Be Too Obsessed With Health?” (AOL Healthy Living, June 8, 2011, http://huff.to/lPj2Ah)

Anyone can think of one reason or another that any food may not be good for you, but one can also consider ways that most food provides certain benefits. Meats may have too much fat, but they are also densely packed with numerous nutrients. Eggs may have cholesterol in them, but they have lecithin in them that helps digest cholesterol and other fats more effectively. Cooked foods may lose certain nutrients, but such heating of food can make some of its nutrients more easily assimilated. Ice cream may have a lot of fat, but it can be an important “mental health food.”
The opening quotation about only a couple of inches from halo to noose was in Ullman’s article. It is essential that you find the right balance for you. Just as with pantyhose, one size will not fit everyone! Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke the truth when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and Ullman addresses how the obsession of good health can put someone at risk.
Perhaps most dangerous for people obsessed with nutrition is the amount of fear that they ingest with their meals. Fears of pesticides, hormones, fluoridation, chlorination, radiation and heavy metals are ingested with every meal. While the negative effects of these toxic ingredients are very real, one can only wonder if the state of fear experienced by some people is poisoning them more than the foods and drinks that they ingest.
Obsession with exercise can also be dangerous, and is all too common. It is sneaky, too, when someone is obsessed with something good. Especially with good things, it is important that you know what that right balance is. The runner who smokes, or a supposedly healthy individual who partakes in binge eating or drinking, can be missing the bigger picture. Ullman cautions:
One way to detect if you are obsessed with health is if you are passionate about a single health discipline—be it nutrition, exercise, homeopathy, herbs or yoga—but ignore other health strategies. Health is feeling whole; it is a balance of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being.
Let’s make a deal. This week, be aware of how your choices about nutrition and exercise are part of—and fit into—your over-all balanced strategy for your enjoying well-being. That’s right. Get that halo back up there where it belongs!
“Hope”
Debra Basham
13 June 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Most everyone you know would probably have at least some grim comments about the economy, especially the housing market. I am curious what you think was at play in the life of a woman I will call Hope.

Hope had been working for a corporation, but felt the call to become a hospice chaplain. When I met her, she was in the process of making those major life changes, including leaving her “stable” employment, and moving from one state to another. Here is the story of “Hope:”

About a week before she was to move, she found out that the family member who had planned to purchase her home could not get financing. In her own words, she “put it out to the universe that I wanted it to sell in six days (so I could rest on the seventh).” On a Thursday, she called a realtor. She wanted no house payment in June, since her salary would have come to an end. The realtor gave her what she felt was the truth: even if the house sold right away, it would take at least 30 days to close.

Hope says from that moment on she was surrounded by angels: a carpet cleaner who had an opening Friday afternoon; a window cleaning company that could come that very day; a landscape company to add curb appeal Saturday afternoon. (The young man’s mother drew up the plans and shopped for the plants herself!)

On Sunday, the realtor came over for the first time. Monday after work, Hope hauled furniture into the garage and basement. Tuesday after work, she went to her son’s baseball game. Wednesday after work, she was up all night cleaning. Thursday the house went on the market. Six days later it sold (cash sale, as is!). Just as she had requested, she had no house payment in June, and she says her son’s team took third in the state!

In the cover story of the June 6, 2011, edition of Time Magazine, in an article titled “The Science of Optimism: Hope isn’t rational—so why are humans wired for it?” Tali Sharot writes:

A brain that doesn’t expect good results lacks a signal telling it, “Take notice—wrong answer!” These brains will fail to learn from their mistakes and are less likely to improve over time. Expectations become self-fulfilling by altering our performance and actions, which ultimately affects what happens in the future.
You can read the entire article at http://ti.me/mQxNGD, but to sum things up the author suggests you probably want to “believe we will stay healthy but get medical insurance anyway; to be certain the sun will shine, but grab an umbrella on our way out—just in case.” This reminds me of the old Middle Eastern saying, “Trust Allah, but tie up your camel.”

Notice if you have a bias for optimism. Perhaps you have a house to sell. Or maybe you have a job to find. Or it might just be that you want to live longer or you desire to be healthier. Research findings indicate that optimists live longer and are healthier. Whatever else you do, this week take a lesson from Hope.

“Forget Alzheimer’s”
Debra Basham
6 June 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Recently I read a report that is not for the faint of heart: “2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.” The numbers, as staggering as they are (every 69 seconds someone in America develops this memory-robbing, life-destroying, incurable illness) do not show the heartache in the families and friends of each one of these folks. Just last week a friend of mine lost her father to Alzheimer’s Disease.

In an article titled “An Easy Meditation Practice to Reverse Memory Loss” by President and Medical Director, Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., reports that the research clearly indicates that it is not a super new pharmaceutical that will most likely prevent the disease. Nonetheless, assures us all that there is hope on the horizon.

A 2009 study published in the “Journal of Nuclear Medicine Communication” showed that subjects were able to activate a very important part of their brain, called the posterior cingulate gyrus, or PCG. This is important because the PCG is the first area of the brain to diminish in activity when a person gets Alzheimer's disease. If you activate it daily with KK, perhaps you won’t lose mental function as you age.
Khalsa is advocating a specific 12-minute meditation form, called Kirtan Kriya (KK), in which you sing four syllables, Sa, Ta, Na, and Ma, while holding your thumb to your index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinkie finger, respectively.

Take water, for example. Water is a simple thing, yet just losing more fluid than you take in can cause all sorts of symptoms, including becoming lethargic, experiencing headaches or lightheadedness, dizziness, vomiting, constipation, and in extreme cases, even death.

It is pretty amazing to remember that, unless the person is suffering from something like flu, most dehydration can be prevented by drinking sufficient water. This is really important to remember as we slide into summer. My husband got dehydrated at a golf outing one day. He had coffee and a couple of beers, and it was very warm. By the evening, he was feeling really bad. Mayo Clinic has a tip sheet for treating dehydration for both children and adults: http://bit.ly/gGHqAl.

Now, let me be perfectly clear. I am not agreeing that KK or drinking sufficient water is the cure-all. If you only remember one thing from this week’s health tip, remember how often it is the simple things make the most profound differences.

This week, let your heart open up to those who are dealing with the pain of Alzheimer’s. Be intentional to open your mind, too, so you are willing to know the truth about health and well-being, even if it is something as simple as singing Sa, Ta, Na, and Ma, or drinking plenty of water.

In big ways and small ways, make prevention of needless suffering a goal you are committed to.

“Imagine”
Debra Basham
30 May 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

I love it when you can see how things are connected, don’t you? I have been very focused on launching our new website that teaches folks how to use guided imagery to help you heal. I will give you a link to that later in this tip, but for right now I want you to think about how powerful it is to imagine something.

For example, if you have ever had an experience of having been afraid of heights, “imagine yourself suspended in air 4,000 feet over the majesty of the Grand Canyon ... view the glory of the Colorado River below, witness the sunrise over the canyon’s carved peaks, and listen to the stillness of Mother Nature. The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West is a unique glass-bottomed cantilever observation deck that spans 70 feet over the canyon’s rim.” (See http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com/.)

Yikes.... reading the description of the Skywalk (and going to the website to see the images) just about takes my breath away. If you were able to use your capabilities to imagine to make your body register fear even while you are two days’ drive from the Grand Canyon, imagine that we can also do great things with that skill!

To really develop a skill, you need to have some sense of how things work. Not always do we need to know why things work, but the how can be valuable. For example, while sitting at your desk or in a chair somewhere, lift your right foot up off the floor and begin to make clockwise circles with it. While continuing to do this, draw the number “6” in the air with your right hand finger. Your foot will change directions, and there is nothing you can do about it!

This has something to do with your right brain and left brain ... and so does Imagine Healing. When a person is going through something that they have not yet gone through, the left brain has a tendency to look for everything that could go wrong. In some situations, this is a good thing, so that ability is a skill. However, in the circumstances of an upcoming event (such as surgery or medical treatment), your right brain is needed so you are able to relax and feel peaceful. And when you are able to relax and feel peaceful, you stimulate your body’s ability to heal.

You can read some amazing success stories at www.ImagineHealing.info but if you only remember one thing from this week’s tip, just remember that exercise about the circles with your right foot and the number with your right finger. You see, everything has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. The left and right brain processes work differently and you cannot not have a better outcome when you are intentionally activating your right brain process.

Of course, you are right that the benefit of your being able to imagine a good outcome is not limited to surgery, or even to just physical issues. You can think about anything you have been experiencing as a problem. Imagine it getting better. Really see, hear, feel, know what that would be like. And then, imagine it going on to open up even more opportunities. Again, really get a strong sense of those benefits. Ask yourself what else is possible now, and let your ability to imagine wonderful ways it can happen flood your senses. Ah.....

This week, take some time to enjoy browsing www.ImagineHealing.info. Read some of the success stories there. Share this website with friends, family, colleagues, your doctor—because every one of us wants to enjoy better outcomes. Imagine doing that both personally and globally. We can!

“Friends”
Debra Basham
23 May 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Friendship seems to be changing, just like most of the other areas of our lives. We can have “friends” on Facebook; we can have childhood friends; we can marry our “best friend” or you can “be your own best friend.” However you define it, though, friendship (or heart-felt connection with others) is a significant component of a well-balanced life.

In The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, Mark Nepo writes so tenderly about friendship:

When I was ill, one toweled my head when I couldn’t stand without bleeding. Another bowed at my door, saying, “I will be whatever you need as long as you need it.”

Some of you may have seen that thing about women friends staying by your side. I have seen that same degree of love in men, but they are often less obvious about it. Devoted, loyal, dependable, trustworthy..... Notice how many words about “friends” have to do with character traits we all value.

Nepo says it is no mistake that the German root word of friendship means “place of high safety.” One website I found took off on the idea “to have a friend, you must be a friend.”

Another website focused on how you are learning to be a friend to all humanity. One said it is not enough to be a friend to all humanity, you want to be a friend to animals, too. And the idea of being a friend to the planet showed up over and over again.

Do you agree or disagree with those who think the greatest spiritual truth is found in the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you?

One very selfish reason for being and having good friends: you will likely live longer! A ten-year Australian study found that “older people with a larger circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.” (See http://xrl.us/bmf7xq)

The important issue for health and well-being is probably pretty simple. We can benefit by recognizing the value other people are in our lives. Friends have helped me move when my family bought a different home. Friends have picked me up when my car would not start.

One friend came to my house in her pajamas to bring me some homeopathic eye drops when I was so sick with a virus I had secretions from multiple body orifices. A friend once broke into my garage and drove all the way to Chicago with a suitcase that had been left behind....

Friends may not be people we see every day, or even people we see eye-to-eye with, but they are the people who can be there for others when when it counts.

You make a big difference to others. Send a card. Pick up the phone. Go out to lunch. Say a prayer. This week notice and appreciate the rich fabric of friends we all have in our lives.

“Potpourri”
Debra Basham
16 May 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

This week’s tip could have just as well been titled something about musings, or a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing. My mind has been filtering all the ways what seems to be unrelated is part of a larger pattern that we may not even be aware of. Often this shows up for me as “meaningful coincidence,” or the “nature of nature.”

In the same way that you will see a certain type of car after you get one, or you will hear a certain song after it is in your awareness, after the 28 February 2011 tip for well-being was about the benefits of ginger, that sparked my awareness about the health benefits of ordinary substances, and another tip on spices of life came out 2 May 2011. A fairly common theme of the tips is how you can do things that are good for you as a natural way of life.

This week, I have been so aware of this nature of nature. Maybe this is brought about partially by the migrating birds I am enjoying outside my window as I work at my desk. I have seen a mating pair of ducks, numerous “ordinary“ birds, several pairs of Cardinals, a few Hummingbirds, many noisy Blue Jays, some Orioles, and the lovely Rose Breasted Grosbeaks! How do they know when to migrate? What tells them where to go? Do they have a GPS for finding food? The answer to the questions about the intelligence of nature might surprise you, especially when you recognize that humans are part of nature, too!

But what about the idea that it is not nice to fool with mother nature? An article in the New York Times (May 1, 2011) writes “with lipo, the fat comes back—in weird places.” Gina Kolata reports that fat removed from the thighs returned a year later to the arms and belly. Here is a link to the article: http://nyti.ms/kI2vBe, but I don’t think you need to read more to understand that the lifestyle changes that change our lives the most are the ones that sustain good health on all levels.

Many people know author Louise Hay, of Hay House publishing fame. She is sometimes referred to as the “Queen of Affirmations.” Her work is based on how our bodies reflect our minds. The use of the opposite of the “probable mental cause” of a symptom or a problem, as an affirmation, is thought to reverse the negative trend so you can return to good health and well-being.

This week I was reading about the cancer prevention properties in garlic. I happen to love garlic. Even if it did not keep away vampires, I would eat it. The material I was reading suggested to let the garlic “sit” for about ten minutes after it is crushed to get the greatest benefits. This is thought to be especially true if you will cook it at high temperatures. You, like me, probably prefer to get the most out of what you do, don’t you....

Well, this brings me back to the nature of nature. I have a theory that some of what causes fat is what is between our ears, not just what goes into our mouths. I just had another one of those email conversations with a young friend saying once he turned 30 he packed on the pounds. Oh, my.... 30 seems so very young to me from where I sit now looking at the birds outside my window. I sent him the information from Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, by Ellen J. Langer. Langer pulls together scientific research proving mind-body connection, and how a lot of what people have believed to be inevitable about aging just isn’t true!

She also says that correlation is not causation. I agree with you on this one. Yes, my young friend turned 30, and yes, he had put on some weight. But his weight gain did not come because he turned 30. And that fat that went to the arms and belly might not have been a result of the liposuction at all. It might have had a lot to do with the lifestyle changes that may have accompanied the liposuction. Perhaps before the surgery those folks knew they needed to eat healthier and enjoy more exercise to look better. Once that fat on the thighs was sucked out, the perception of those folks might have been, “I can be fit without taking care of myself now.” Hmmm.... Interesting.

However you think of things in your own life, think about all those birds. They go where they are to go and they do what they are to do. They seem to find what they need. I don’t see them boycotting my feeders if there is food they don’t want or need. They just take what they want and they leave the rest. They don’t seem to “worry” about my neighbor’s cats lurking around. They just get out of the way when the lurking around turns to leaping towards.

This week, crush some garlic, let it sit for about ten minutes, or just become aware of the intrinsic intelligence available to you through the nature of your human nature. After all, humans have been enjoying life on this planet for some time already. I guess garlic and all the other good stuff has been here for us all along....

“Be a Go-Giver”
Debra Basham
9 May 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Years ago when I first started teaching the use of personality sorters as a spiritual growth tool, I also read the book, People Smarts—Bending the Golden Rule to Give Others What They Want. The idea is that you can learn to observe both verbal and nonverbal cues and learn how to change your style so you can relate to others better. In Healing with Language: Your Key to Effective Mind-Body Communication (Joel P. Bowman and Debra Basham), we talk about that as building rapport through calibrating sensory systems.

It makes me grin to notice how complex this sounds, when it is simply what people are doing who are having a better time of things in their lives!

Currently, this idea is being presented in a “little story about a powerful business idea.” What is that idea? It is the observation that people who give the most get the most. The Go-Giver has gone from a national bestseller to a near-global phenomenon. Here are some simple tips of mine on how we can live those principles in our own lives, so we can get more of what we want.

  • When someone is afraid, you can be brave
  • When someone is cruel, you can be strong
  • When someone is confused, you can be clear
  • When someone is helpful, you can be thankful
  • When someone is generous, you can be honored
  • When someone is cranky, you can be patient
  • When someone is creative, you can be excited
  • When someone is happy, you can be encouraged
  • When someone is hurting, you can be hopeful

Now, Go-Givers is not just about how you can enjoy good relationships, it is a book about how you can be successful in business. Be clear about that, because this is a book with a message that is very clear. From the book:

Pindar smiled. “Please don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with making money. Lots of it, in fact. It’s just not a goal that will make you successful.” Reading the bewilderment on Joe’s face, he nodded and put his hand up to signal that he would explain.

“You see,” Pindar continued, “the majority of people operate with a mindset that says to the fireplace, ’First give me some heat, then I’ll throw on some logs.’ Or that says to the bank, ’Give me interest on my money, then I’ll make a deposit.’ And of course, it just doesn’t work that way.” Joe frowned, trying to parse the logic of Pindar’s examples.

“You see? You can’t go in two directions at once. Trying to be successful with making money as your goal is like trying to travel a superhighway at seventy miles an hour with your eyes glued to the rearview mirror.”

If you have ever found yourself anywhere other than where you thought you wanted to be, maybe you, too, will benefit from their “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:”

  1. The Law of Value—Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
  2. The Law of Compensation—Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
  3. The Law of Influence—Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
  4. The Law of Authenticity—The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
  5. The Law of Receptivity—The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

This week, just be open to letting some of this filter into your busy days, and if you are surprised by how much mental attitude improves physical health, write and let me know about that. Meanwhile, we have some go-giving to do, don’t we....

“Spices of Life”
Debra Basham
2 May 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

What if you could enjoy something really delicious and also experience relief from pain, generate a healthier heart, help prevent prostate cancer, and stop ulcers? How about spicing up your life with some chili peppers? According to her June 30, 2010 article, “7 Miracle Spices with Huge Health Benefits (and Big Flavor),” Blythe Copeland says you can do just that.

The other six super spices on her list include: cinnamon, tumeric, parsley, oregano, garlic, and thyme. I will share a few of her favorite ways you can get all of the benefits available.

Cinnamon: Sprinkle on sweet potatoes or carrots or add it to your oatmeal. Benefits your arteries, your blood sugar, and your cholesterol.

Tumeric: Great combined with curry dishes, part of the same family as ginger (see previous health tip on the benefits of ginger), so it lowers inflammation.

Parsley: It is not just for looks, you know! Copeland says as far back as Roman times, people have used it for health. She says parsley can “help pass kidney stones, battle deafness, and prevent buildup in the arteries.”

Oregano: Most familiar uses in spaghetti or on pizza, shown to help fight off infection with quadruple the antioxidants of blueberries.

Garlic: Garlic packs antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral effects. (Plus it will keep vampires away.)

Thyme: Delicious in soups or stews, Copeland says “the health benefits go beyond warm soup on a cold night: The herb’s oil is antiseptic and antibacterial, and recent studies show thyme can kill MRSA infections, which are resistant to other antibiotics.”

Here is a link to her entire article: http://bit.ly/ajZ1my, or just send this health tip along to others you care about.

At a time when there seems to be so much bad news, it is good news to know that those things that keep us healthy and make our life tasty have been here for us all along.

Here is another article on the benefits of spices: http://www.healinglifestyles.com/index.php/superspicehealth

The next time you are tempted to slide into an attitude of doom and gloom, go out to your favorite Indian or Italian restaurant, or spend some time at home in your kitchen. Those who are familiar with it, will recognize this quotation: “As often as you eat or drink, do this in remembrance....” Well, as often as you eat or drink, begin to really enjoy the spices of life....

This week make a point to replace one negative or discouraging thought with a positive or innovative idea for change. And replace one bland food for one you can really enjoy, something with one of these spices. Who knows? Eat right and you might just put some spice in your life in other ways, too, if you know what I mean....

“Healing Foods”
Debra Basham
25 April 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

This week’s tip is on foods that are just good medicine. Our ancestors did not have a Walgreens on every corner, so they used food as medicine to help them be healthier, and with a bit of awareness, you can enjoy doing the same thing today.

Most of us have heard the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but now scientific research has shown that the doctor is probably a cardiologist. Yes, according to an article by David W. Freeman (CBS news), apples have been shown to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL), and increase your good (HDL). The particular study mentioned in this article focused on a group of women, ages 45-65, but other studies, including those with animals, have consistently shown the same benefits.

Freeman says two compounds found in apples might explain why your eating them is so good for you: pectin (a carbohydrate), and polyphenols (a class of antioxidants). He makes a point to say that applies are also low in calories and packed full of Vitamins A and C. Also, for good bone health, they give you the bone-building mineral boron. What a super food. Yum!

The next healing food on my list is honey. According to an article by Jim Gorman in Men’s Health (April 16, 2011), instead of cough syrup, try a dose of honey.

Think about how long it takes honey to travel down the inside of a plastic bear squeeze bottle, out its head, and onto your toast. You can check your e-mail, Facebook, and the Dow while waiting. Well, that same thick, viscous quality makes honey a perfect substitute for cough syrup. Both do essentially the same thing—coat the throat, relieving irritation.

In fact, a recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that a spoonful of honey was better than dextromethorphan (DM), the active ingredient in Robitussin DM and other cough suppressants, at halting hacking in children. Honey should work equally well in adults, says study author Ian Paul, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at Penn State University. The best part: You won’t feel dizzy or light-headed—one of the side effects of taking DM.

Try buckwheat honey, a darker variety that contains more antioxidants than lighter shades do. (Antioxidants may help prevent heart disease and cancer, scientists believe.) Take 2 teaspoons when you want to quiet your cough—at night or before a meeting, for example—but don’t try to squelch the cough altogether. Productive daytime coughing can help loosen and move mucus out of your lungs.

In The Anti-Cancer Diet, Peter Jaret answers the question, “Do all fruits and vegetables, from avacados to zucchini, contain cancer-fighters?” Simply put, his response was, “Almost everything in the produce section has a place in a cancer-prevention diet.” The only thing in the article I did not really agree with was a comment about inherited risk, but his suggestion is you can use good nutrition to help yourself even in that situation. I do agree with that idea and, if you are interested in reading the entire article, here is the link: http://bit.ly/f6zj1Z

This week begin to notice how the things you eat can be part of your getting more healthy. That might just be the way nature intended it....

“Rational Lies”
Debra Basham
18 April 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Wowser.... Think for a minute about Russell Bishop’s article titled, “Are You a Winner or a Whiner?” (Huffington Post, March 21, 2011) and what might be true for you. Of course, everyone has stuff to get through. Life happens, that is for sure. In the olden days, people would talk about getting bitter or better. We all want to have attitudes that turn us into winners, especially in those areas that really count most to us.

One of the most important things seems to be that you need to pay close attention to the temptation to give reasons why something in your life has not yet worked out the way you say you want it to. As Bishop says,

Whenever you start to serve up reasons that things aren’t where you want them to be in your life, you can probably rationalize your predicament pretty well. However, whenever you find yourself starting to rationalize, you might consider reframing the word rationalize as telling yourself “rational lies.”
Rationalization is one of a variety of defense mechanisms people use because they allow them to maintain a positive self-image. In addition to rationalization, other common defense mechanisms include: projection, denial, scapegoating, suppression, symbiosis, and introjection. We used them to avoid recognizing things about ourselves we would find unpleasant or unacceptable. To begin listening for and identifying your own defense mechanisms, you may wish to keep a journal to record the thoughts and feelings as you can best recall them following significant conversations. It is helpful to notice places where you said something you knew was not totally true for you. Fear and anger can indicate one of the defense mechanisms has been at work.

One woman spent many years complaining to her friends and family how she would be able to do wonderful things if it were not for her husband. He was an alcoholic and extremely jealous. Her typical conversations would include some variation on the following: “If it weren’t for him, I would go to church, but everyone in town knows about his drinking, and I could never hold my head up.”

Following his death, when she finally did venture out, she discovered that she was horribly afraid. Her husband’s behavior, contrary to her years of complaints, had really been protecting her from having to acknowledge her own fears. (See Healing with Language: Your Key to Effective Mind Body Communication, by Bowman and Basham)

In Workarounds that Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work, Bishop uses the metaphor of sailing to make his point. If you are out sailing and the mast breaks, you do not gain anything by complaining or blaming. Even if there were a faulty part or a negligent behavior, you know none of that will change anything. He says you will find a “workaround,” in this case, you will create some sort of makeshift mast so you can get moving again.

This week be compassionate with yourself and others when you have opportunities at work or at home that would have challenged you. Fortunately, now you are able to become more aware of the ways we had all been using defense mechanisms. You can move from “rational lies” to “rational eyes.“ You will notice and enjoy the benefits pretty quickly!

“Weep Well”
Debra Basham
11 April 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

“Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either.” - Golda Meir

Perhaps on the surface it might seem a bit strange to follow up last week’s tip on laughter with this comment by Golda Meir. Then again, it makes perfect sense that we are all learning the significance of our emotions, aren’t we.

According to an article in USA Today (“Emotions Show Our True Colors,” by Sharon Jayson), “Being attentive to your emotional state doesn't make you self-absorbed—rather, it can translate into benefits for health and well-being.”

A lot of research into emotional intelligence has shown up on the landscape in the past couple of decades. I often remind folks that thinking about what we are feeling is a relatively contemporary way of being. If you are over 50, think about someone asking your grandfather if he liked his job. If you are younger than 50, you might want to think about that for your great grandfather. People used to have to just do what they had to do to survive. They were too busy to ponder such things.

As we find ourselves dancing in this century, pondering is something people do. Maslow may have had something when he identified what he called the “hierarchy of needs.” It makes sense that there is a ladder of importance to our needs. We need air, water, and food if we are going to survive. We need shelter from the elements. “Safety” needs obviously include our physical safety, but you can also recognize the importance of a safe “emotional” environment where kindness and compassion and respect give way to higher emotional needs.

Maslow called this next level “Belongingness” needs, including family, friends, and intimacy. It has long been known that humans (like other species) benefit from social groupings, not the least of which is procreation. Next on his list, you will find a category called “Esteem” needs. Wikipedia had this to say about those:

Most people have a need for a stable self-respect and self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, recognition, fame, prestige, and attention. The higher one is the need for self-respect, the need for strength, competence, mastery, self-confidence, independence and freedom. The latter one ranks higher because it rests more on inner competence won through experience. Deprivation of these needs can lead to an inferiority complex, weakness and helplessness.
While we often think about these steps, and the next one on the list (Self-actualization), as separate, they are really part of a continuum, meaning the previous needs must continue to be met if we are to achieve the next. Rather than 1, 2, 3 ... think one, and two, and three... Making music of our lives includes having intelligent awareness of our emotional states because our emotions are the drivers of our behaviors.

Sales and marketing companies have long known people buy based on emotions. People marry, divorce, argue, and make amends, all based on emotions. Yes, acting on our emotions is not always wise....

According to Jayson, technology has now come to the rescue! You can buy an app for your iPhone called Awareness. It costs $3.99, and it gongs and gives you a prompt to record your feelings. You are invited to take a deep breath, and to choose from 115 feelings in eight mood categories. Kudos for New York City psychotherapist Ronit Herzfeld who created the app.

Author Byron Katie wrote a book called Loving What Is, so it may be that the benefit comes from being aware. Several years ago I became aware that I thought I could not cry. I was actually jealous when I saw others who could cry so easily and so deeply. I wanted to be able to weep well.

Whatever you are feeling, this week notice how all of our feelings connect us to others. Whether you feel like laughing, or whether you feel like weeping, even when you get curious, or when you get excited, or as you get hopeful ... you are touching the web of your divine connection to all that is.

“A Laughing Matter”
Debra Basham
4 April 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Sometimes when things get really serious, folks will say, “This is not a laughing matter.” Scientific research seems to indicate just the opposite. The more serious things get, the more you may need laughter. In fact, even looking forward to having a good laugh seems to have a positive benefit. (2002 Reuters News Service article by Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent)

But what is it about laughter that may be so helpful? According to a March 25, 2011, Health.com article by Lynne Peeples, it may be that laughter is part of a heart-mind connection. “Listening to your favorite tunes or funny jokes could lower your blood pressure, perhaps even as much as cutting salt from your diet or dropping ten pounds, according to the preliminary results of a small study presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta.”

When you think about how things that make you feel good actually produce better health, that heart-mind connection idea makes good sense. I am reminded of a program with Art Linkletter. It was an interview with kids, and he often would laugh and say, “Kids say the darndest things.” It is true.

A mother was struggling to get the ketchup out of the bottle when the phone rang. She asked her four year-old daughter to answer it. She heard her daughter say, “Mommy can’t come to the phone. She’s hitting the bottle right now.”

Peeples’ article reports on some research done at the Osaka (Japan) University Graduate School of Medicine. Participants could listen to music or funny stories, similar to stand-up comedy, or laughter yoga exercises. They practiced one hour, every other week. After 90 days, average systolic blood pressure readings showed improvements in the range of what could be expected if a person went on a low-sodium diet, lost ten pounds, or took blood-pressure-lowering medication.

Maybe we should just hang around kids more. I read recently about a first grader who, not quite getting the words to the pledge of allegiance to the American flag, was heard saying, “I led the pigeons to the flag.”

There is a lot of good reason to experience more of this heart-mind connection. According to the article, Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, in Baltimore, says even slight reductions in blood pressure have been linked to a 5% to 15% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

A little boy asked his grandmother how old she was.

“39 and holding,” she replied.

“Well, then, how old would you be if you let go?”

That is a really good question!

“I think there’s definitely a physiological effect going on, some sort of mind-heart connection,” says Miller, who was not involved in this new study but has conducted similar research. He should know what he is talking about, as he and his colleagues found that both laughter and listening to upbeat music “improved function of the inner lining of blood vessels, causing them to expand by 30%.”

Well, my inner linings must have really expanded recently when my husband and I were chosen as contestants on the “Love and Marriage Game” on a cruise. The cruise was a graduation gift for our grandson. When the host asked my husband what I would say about our “whoopie” the night before, he surprised us all. “Would she say it was like the Fourth of July, Halloween, or Thanksgiving Day.”

He responded, “I think she would say it was like Memorial Day.”

“Why do you think she would say that?”

“Honoring the dead.”

Oh, my.... perhaps it is not just kids who say the darndest things. This week let yourself have a really good laugh every chance you get. After all, the more serious things get, the more they really are a laughing matter.

“Sleep Well, Live Better”
Debra Basham
28 March 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

It has long been recognized that your getting a good night’s rest is important for good health. In fact, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth spoke about, “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care.” And some people believe you can identify those who will sleep well or those who don’t by the sleep habits of infants. Whether that is the mark of tendencies or not, I am living proof that you can develop habits that allow you to sleep well so you can live better.

These simple things tend to help: clean sheets, an organized room, fresh air, and an uncluttered mind.

Clinical Psychologist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. (The Sleep Doctor™) provides some interesting tips on how you can sleep well in a March 17, 2011, article in the Huffington Post, including how you can tell if your pillow is dead:

How do you know if you are sleeping on a “dead“ pillow? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin by laying your pillow across your arm and look at how it’s folded.

  2. Does it have a slight fold, but still sticks out at the ends? If so, then the structural integrity of your pillow is fine.

  3. Or does your pillow fold—or flop—over your arm, like an old saddle bag? Then you have a dead pillow, and it needs to be replaced.

Still not convinced? Try this:

  1. Lay your pillow on top of your bed and fold it in half.

  2. Now place a shoe on top and let go.

  3. If the shoe goes flying, then your pillow is fine; if it is stays put, then you need a new pillow.

Here is a link to the entire article: http://huff.to/hJYRqq. Other tips include darkening your room, keeping it cool, keeping a regular bedtime schedule, and doing things to wind down before heading to bed.

I admit I had to teach myself to sleep well. Some of my favorite wind-down activities include taking a soaking bath, sipping a cup of caffeine-free tea, reading inspirational materials, such as Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, spending a bit of time with the emWave stress reducer by HeartMath, listening to relaxation music, or putting on my headphones and falling asleep listening to one of our guided imagery CDs. My favorite to fall asleep with is “Everlasting Peace,” maybe because it is only 17 minutes of guided imagery, and the background music is “Pachelbel’s Cannon in D, Three Meditative Variations with Ocean,” by Liv & Let Live (used by permission). To purchase this amazing CD, visit www.invinciblemusic.com, choose “instrumental music,” and scroll all the way down the page.

When I want a handy tool for uncluttering your mind, you can use the exercise: “Nine Steps to Forgiveness from Forgive for Good” (Harper Collins 2002), by Frederic Luskin, Ph.D. While each of the steps may have significance for you, Number 8 is my favorite: “Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.” You can read all nine steps online at learningtoforgive.com/9-steps/

This week notice which of the tips help you to sleep well and live better. It is Spring.... It is time. Enjoy!

“Headache Prevention and Relief”
Debra Basham
21 March 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

A man goes to the doctor and says, “Doc, have you got something for a bad headache?” “Of course. Just take this hammer and hit yourself in the head. Then you will surely have a bad headache.”

More than 45 million Americans (“Prevention Magazine.” March 5, 2011) report they have been frequent headache sufferers. About 90 percent of all headaches are thought to be “tension headaches” but many people agree that “migraine headaches” are among the most problematic, and that is no joke.

The Mayo Clinic website has a self assessment tool to identify types of headaches. Here is that link: Headache Types if you are curious about that.

Some people say weather changes can bring on a headache, and while we cannot always control the weather, as with most other areas of our lives, you can often take the right actions that will likely better your situation. Here are some general headache prevention tips which are probably good advice for all of us:

  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is thought to trigger headache pain.
  • Watch labels to avoid monosodium glutamate (sometimes listed as hydrolyzed protein or caseinate).
  • Avoid stress and practice relaxation techniques regularly.
  • Get plenty of the omega-3 fatty acids (the good kinds found in fish).
  • Add ginger to your diet (ah, here is another benefit of ginger).
  • Consider whether magnesium is an appropriate supplement for you.
  • Be sure you are using good posture, particularly when sitting.
  • Avoid foods high in nitrates (found in processed meats like hotdogs or bacon).
  • Limit foods that can cause blood vessels to constrict, then dilate. Worst in this group may be tyramine, the amino acid found in aged cheese, or liver, but also in lima beans, snow peas, and yeast breads.

Taking a warm shower or enjoying a relaxing warm foot bath (add some dry mustard) can bring relief by getting blood flowing away from your head. So might a gentle walk, some soft music, or taking some deep breaths. Sometimes an ice pack alternated with heat brings relief. The important thing is to be compassionate with yourself, to listen within, and to look at easy ways to lessen or prevent as many incidents as you can. Regular body work, energy work, or acupuncture can be part of your prevention, too. And you are preventing more than headaches.

According to Alan Rapoport, MD, cofounder and codirector of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Connecticut, “If you drink too much caffeine on a daily basis—three or more cups of coffee or large amounts of soda—your caffeine intake can cause or worsen your headaches. Moreover, suddenly stopping your caffeine will surely bring on a headache. But if you’re not a regular caffeine consumer, one cup can go a long way toward providing headache relief by constricting the dilated blood vessels around your temples. It also increases the efficacy of pain medications, which is why it is found in most headache medicines.”

How interesting it is to notice that in this case caffeine was sometimes the culprit and sometimes the cure. Something like procrastination can be a good thing if you put off worrying about things you cannot control. Gosh, maybe my friend was correct when she said the tool is neutral. This week notice how often that is the case.

“Benefit by Athletics”
Debra Basham
14 March 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Oh, I really appreciate knowing our view of aging is changing. Not long ago, it was thought competitive sports were finished when a person turned 30. Now, a whole new era is dawning in which super athletes are competing well up in years. Like Joan Campbell, a national record holder in “masters” swimming. I am not sure what is more impressive—the fact that Joan is still swimming competitively at 80 years of age or that she was “never much of an athlete in her youth” and did not start swimming until she was 59!

You can read the entire article by Gretchen Reynolds and enjoy seeing some amazing photographs by Scott McDermott at AARP “The Magazine,” March/April 2011

One of the points the article makes is that athletics connect us, mentally and emotionally, as well as physically, to our youth. And younger athletes are so inspired to see folks doing well in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

I do believe it is good to be aware of the “terrible toos,” too hard, too much, too long. Best to set a goal and making regular progress toward it.

When people ask me how I became a full-time wellness consultant, they are often surprised to learn that I had been in chronic pain and on medication and was very compromised. Just last week I posted a page about my own journey to well-being on my website. You can read that at this link: reverendbasham.com/Freedom_from_Pain.

But your being more physically active is not just good for you physically. It has been repeatedly shown in clinical trials that aerobic exercise improves moods in those who have been depressed. In fact, Duke University researchers (1999) found folks improved as much as those treated with Zoloft.

All trials seem to indicate the same conclusion: Exercise not only relieves depressive symptoms, it also seems to keep symptoms from coming back. Now that is a good reason to get on the bike, get in the pool, get off the couch, and enjoy the benefits.

Those benefits are muscular, for sure, but exercise also loosens arteries in humans and rats alike! Well, it was mice... but older mice that used running wheels. They were found to have much more flexible carotid arteries than their lounge lizard counterparts.

The article sums it up this way:

So here’s what all this means for the everyday athlete (or even the occasional athlete): Many of the supposedly unavoidable and debilitating physiological effects of aging are illusory. Being sedentary is much more of a risk factor for extreme declines in muscle mass, strength, and endurance than is simply being past middle age.

This week, take advantage of that extra hour of daylight by waking up your inner athlete. Next week you can put some spring into your step. Find yourself feeling better knowing it is not just your heart that is improving with more exercise. It really is easy to feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally, with something that simple and natural.

“Grass Fed Fish”
Debra Basham
7 March 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

In 1968 Martin Bell wrote a book of Gospel stories using new images (The Way of the Wolf). One of my favorite stories is “What the Wind Said to Thajir.”

A message from that story which has stayed with me all these years: “Anything that hurts anyone, hurts you. Anything that helps anyone, helps you. It is not possible to gain from another’s loss, or to lose from another’s gain.”

Now, so you can really understand this, let’s go to Southern Spain.

I had never heard about farming grass fed fish until I saw an article about it in the Huffington Post.

Veta la Palma, initially started in 1994, is now a thriving 8000 acre wetland estuary ecosystem in a national park that happens to produce 2000 tons of delicious, omega-3 rich, toxin-free sea bass, sea bream, shrimp, eel, and sturgeon a year. It is actually a restored wetlands, and the largest bird sanctuary in Spain with over 220 species of birds—pink flamingo fly 150 miles each way to feast on the high-quality fish this “farm” produces. In fact the birds consume 50 percent of all the shrimp and 20 percent of all the fish produced.

Wow.... This really demonstrates that message the wind said to Thajir, doesn’t it.

I relate to the idea of making something wonderful out of wetlands. Partially, this is because I had the opportunity to go birding in a couple of amazing wetlands while I was in Florida. One of them—Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center—has been designed to naturally filter several million gallons of treated waste water from Palm Beach County. The wetlands recharges groundwater, and it does this by being a magnificent home to 86 different species of trees, shrubs, grasses, and aquatic vegetation.

An elevated boardwalk (1.5 miles) loops throughout the wetlands, allowing parents with strollers, folks in wheelchairs, those using walkers, and even able-bodied birders to be up-close-and-personal to dozens of species of birds. The official count for our field trip that day was over 50! We saw nesting Great Blue Herons. We saw Purple Gallinule. We saw Snowy Egret.

I feel so inspired by Veta la Palma, I could break into The Unicorn Song: “You'll see green alligators and long-necked geese, some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees, some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born, you're never gonna see no unicorns.”

The real point of all this, though, is to notice the ways we can get some of our best results simply by shifting our focus just a bit.

At Veta la Palma, they measure the health of their “farm” by the health of their predators. Imagine ranchers measuring the health of their lands by the health of the wolves that feed on the sheep. Six years ago there were no birds at Veta La Palma, just cows. The transformation that has taken place there in just a few years is truly astounding.

Transformation in all of our lives can be truly astounding. Imaging a world where everyone understands and lives the simple truth that “Anything that hurts anyone, hurts you. Anything that helps anyone, helps you. It is not possible to gain from another’s loss, or to lose from another’s gain.”

This week, see if it is convenient for you to enjoy a nutritious meal of fish. Whatever you end up eating, take a few moments to think about the amazing gift of wetlands. And watch for opportunities that present themselves for you to help others so you can help yourself.

“Divine Spark in Ginger”
Debra Basham
28 February 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

“By saying grace, we release the Divine sparks in our food.”

When he said this, Rabbi Herschel (see http://Gratefulness.org, February 24, 2011) might well have been thinking about ginger!

Long before McDonalds was serving up millions of burgers, nature was providing us with pretty impressive herbs. Huffington Post ran an article on the benefits of ginger: “A new study finds that two types of chemical compounds found in ginger—gingerols and phenols—can be used as an analgesic to treat muscle pain.”

Ginger has for some time been known as an aid to digestion. According to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, ginger was also deemed to relieve menstrual cramps as effectively as Ibruprofen. You can make your own tea by steeping some fresh ginger root for 10 to 15 minutes. Add organic lemon juice and local honey for additional health benefits, delivered via yummy taste.

Make a scrub for glowing and smooth skin using ginger, Epson salt, and lime juice, reportedly very popular at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas.

You can read the entire article by going to http://huff.to/gDj00j.

Remember, however, herbs are no different from all the other areas in your life. It is important to know how much benefit you can receive from something, as well as the risks. Make smart choices.

In a study done at Brigham Young University, ginger was shown to bring more relief from motion sickness than the ingredient used in motion-sickness medication available over-the-counter (dimenhydrinate). I assume this is without the dry mouth or the drowsiness....

Wow, now I know why I really enjoy ginger chews. I often have some with me as my choice for “road food” when I travel.

This week, remember to really get the greatest benefit from everything in your life, make sure you have a healthy mental attitude. Check out this three-minute video on the healthy way to take medications on YouTube: Mind-Body Tips for Taking Medication, or let me know if you would like to receive the handout for this.

Share these tips with a friend or family member. Someone cared enough to send it to you!

“A Long Trip”
Debra Basham
21 February 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Way back in the days of full-service gas stations, a minister waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long holiday weekend. The attendant, a member of the church, worked quickly, but there were many cars lined up ahead of the minister.

Finally, the attendant motioned the minister toward a vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “Sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”

The minister chuckled, “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”

There is a force within that gives you life—Seek that. In your body there lies a priceless jewel—Seek that. Oh, Wandering Sufi, if you are in search of the greatest treasure, don’t look outside, Look within, and Seek That. —Rumi

In her blog, Marcia Wieder highlights four steps to take so you have a clear intention. You might find these helpful as you get “ready for the long trip” of making your dreams come true in your own life.

  1. Get clear about something you want and write it down. I usually encourage folks to identify something you know will benefit yourself and others in your life.

  2. Share your intention with someone in a way that will supportively hold you accountable to taking action. You may be familiar with the lyrics to the country song about the road to hell being paved by good intentions. You want to choose something you are willing to take appropriate action towards.

  3. Do something today to demonstrate your commitment to your intention. This can be big or small, and will work best if it is something totally within your control.

  4. Acknowledge that you did what you said you would do, and then take the next step. People often find that the next right step reveals itself most clearly as soon as you start taking action toward the goal. I have heard it described in terms of physics: it is easier to redirect a moving object than it is to get a stationary object moving.

This week, let the power of your intention “redefine what it means to be serious about your dreams.”

“Ecologically Sustainable Medicine”
Debra Basham
14 February 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Principle Number 10:

Understand the Global Context of Healing

It is something we are very aware of, the waste that results from unneeded medical tests, procedures, and prescriptions. I recall a friend’s having suggested massage therapy to his sister who was having some back problems. She quickly replied, “I would rather have surgery.”

While it is easy to point fingers, we have been being inspired to begin taking responsibility and making wise choices. Many people have seen drastic medicine as a more viable option to life-long changes. This series on epigenetic medicine (from The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, by Dawson Church) comes to a close by bringing our thinking into harmony. You can live what you learn, and everyone wins.

Many are joining in this focus, and among its goals, are those who advocate ecologically sustainable medicine (ESM). What they actually advocate is an emphasis of wellness in medicine and by medicine. This means that, as we focus more on prevention, precaution, and efficacy, even the planet itself benefits.

Of course, recognizing these fundamental truths will help you know how to choose. While many of the complementary and alternative medicine therapies may be paid for by you as the consumer, the enormous global benefits far outweigh the minor personal investment.

This week, remember, as Church writes, “Fantastically healthy people cannot thrive on a dying planet.” Please let me know how this series has changed your view and assisted you in your journey to greater health and well-being.

“A Healed Life”
Debra Basham
7 February 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

According to Church (The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention), we have come a long way in seeing death, not as a failure of medicine, or a time when a doctor “lost a patient,” but as an opportunity for bringing to public consciousness the truth that we “celebrate the continuation of spirit even as we mourn the loss of a body.”

Principle Number 9:

New Vision of Death: A Healed Life

He shares a personal experience of his own mother having healed her life by making peace. “Layer by layer, all the heavy weights of a lifetime of resentment and anger dropped off her shoulders.” Church says that his mother's heart and soul recovered, but her body did not. She and his father lived in the home of his sister the last two years of her life, and her last words were, “I see the light. Do you see the light?”

Church mentions a few of the pioneers in this work: Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., Bernie Siegel, M.D., and Stephen Levine. I might add Ira Byock, M.D., to that list for his book, The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living. In his work with the dying, he has come up with four phrases that allow you to live a healed life: “Please forgive me.” “I forgive you.” “Thank you.” “I love you.”

If you are somewhat new to this, or you want to share resources with others, you will appreciate www.TheFourThings.org or www.DyingWell.org for more information.

This week, remember, as Church writes, everyone dies, but you can “live a life of passion, creativity, joy, inspiration, and healing“ in every moment you have left. You do this by seeing death not as an “enemy of healing,“ but as a change of state.

“Treatment Paths”
Debra Basham
31 January 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Humans can be very wise, especially when you truly see things as they really are. You would probably not go to a library to purchase a new car, nor would you likely ask your dentist to figure your income tax return. In the same way, it is good that you recognize appropriate treatment paths exist within the world of healing.

Principle Number 8: Stream to Appropriate Treatment Paths

While many situations will actually get better on their own, especially if your lifestyle creates a good environment for health and well-being, in Spontaneous Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil makes distinctions between those health issues allopathic medicine is very good at, and those situations in your life where you are wise to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Allopathic medicine CAN:

  • Manage trauma better than any other system of medicine
  • Diagnose and treat many medical and surgical emergencies
  • Treat acute bacterial infections with antibiotics
  • Treat some parasitic and fungal infections
  • Prevent many infectious diseases by immunizations
  • Diagnose complex medical problems
  • Replace damaged hips and knees (I would add organs to this list)
  • Get good results with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery

Allopathic medicine CANNOT:

  • Treat viral infections
  • Cure most chronic degenerative diseases
  • Effectively manage most kinds of mental illness (I would highlight anxieties, phobias, and panic attacks, as well as depression)
  • Cure most forms of allergy or autoimmune disease
  • Effectively manage psychosomatic illness
  • Cure most forms of cancer

Church makes a point that the list needs updating, as “more and more conditions are being moved from the allopathic column to the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) column as better research is being published.”

He mentions specifically the current understanding of the risks of conventional hormone replacement therapies.

Most everyone now knows that chronic pain sufferers are finding relief through everything from acupuncture to homeopathic remedies and Zen meditation.

Church closes this section of the book with a very clever cartoon showing a person visiting an allopathic physician. The caption reads, “Doc, I’ve tried everything! Acupuncture, herbs, EFT, Reiki, prayer, yoga... Now I'm ready for drugs and surgery!”

My bias has always been to combine the best of the West with the best of the rest. That is why, even when drugs and surgery are the appropriate treatment path, you can benefit by including mind-body, such as the tips for health ways to take medication, or “Pre- and Postsurgical Support with SCS™”. Let me (debra@scs-matters.com) know if you have questions about this or other areas.

The most important thing is—this week—pay attention to the many options that exist and make wise choices as you “stream to appropriate treatment paths.”

“Self-Healing Powers”
Debra Basham
24 January 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Principle Number 7:

Magnify the Body's Inherent Self-Healing Powers

Church says that sometimes a person only needs a slight “nudge” in the right direction to get unstuck from a pattern and activate the natural healing processes. You can think of this as similar to the childhood game where you hide an object and then give hints about being closer or further away by announcing, “Warmer.... Cooler.... Freezing.... Burning up!”

As your “wellness consultant,” my goal is to leverage your attitudes, beliefs, behaviors (all of the choices you make) so you can do the things that improve your health and well-being. The best interventions are those that are inherent within you that you perhaps had been missing or not utilizing fully.

Andrew Weil is adamant that health care reform must empower the patient by making it a priority to teach the patient how best to improve his or her own health. Church agrees, saying a doctor is with a patient for moments, but you are with you all of the time. You are the one who can have the greatest influence on your well-being, every day for the rest of your lives.

Mark Nepo was interviewed on “Good Morning America” January 13. His healing from cancer, and the love of life which comes truly from your waking up to the miracle of your own life, is inspiring millions through his books. You can see an interview and read an excerpt at the following links: http://abcn.ws/eE5TiT and http://abcn.ws/hZilMO.

Church sums up this principle: “Recognizing the enormous healing powers of the body—and finding ways to engage them—presupposes an entirely different model from the classic image of the patient being fixed by a doctor or hospital.”

This week, pay attention to the new awareness you have that your inherent self-healing powers are the most important ingredient in your enjoying a greater level of well-being on all levels—emotional and mental, as well as physical and spiritual.

“Healing Before Disease”
Debra Basham
17 January 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

“Whatever the conditions of our lives, no matter what difficulties we are experiencing in our health, our relationships, our work, the techniques found in energy medicine can optimize entire systems in our bodies, minds, and emotional realms.”

Principle Number 6: Healing Before Disease

Church makes the point that our focus can shift from looking for disease to increasing our level of well-being, and says a good way for you to do this is with“energy medicine.”

Energy medicine is one of five domains identified by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the Center makes a distinction between forms whose existence has already been confirmed and proven by scientific investigation, and those, such as spiritual healing, which are not yet considered proven by science. Many of the therapies are already quite familiar, and their benefits are recognized by those who have used them.

Acupuncture, Reiki, Qigong, Healing Touch™ (energy source not yet considered to be proven by science), magnet therapy, light therapy (energy source has been proven scientifically). Of course, these are just general categories, and there are many options available. Homeopathy and herbal remedies are often included in the broad category of energy medicine, as well as guided imagery and relaxation training.

If you are interested in learning more, I have more about energy medicine at the following link: http://Abmp Energy Medicine.html

Go to Download: Self-Full-Body (pdf) to download one of my favorite Healing Touch™ techniques, the guided imagery for doing Self Full Body Connection, or the version of this with the familiar “Our Father” prayer at Download: Self-Full-Body Our Father Version (pdf)

The most important thing is, this week, begin to be aware of the importance of your putting your focus on healing now by developing the habit of “attuning to your inner state of health.”

“Treat Whole Systems”
Debra Basham
10 January 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Holistic methods are designed to affect all of the body's organs and systems at the same time. Years ago I read an article that was designed to prove that Healing Touch was fake. The writer had a Healing Touch session and wrote that nothing happened, except relaxation. I don’t even remember where I read it, or who wrote it, but I recall the heart of the message. “Sure, I found it deeply relaxing. Yes, I was able to calm my mind. True, I slept well after, but nothing really happened.”

Oh, my....

Principle Number 5: Treat Whole Systems

Church reminds readers that stress-reduction methods are the opposite of a magic bullet. He says they are instead a magic wand, “capable of creating head-to-toe physical transformation in moments.”

This is true because reversing the fight-or-flight response improves everything:

  • causes the blood to flow back out to the peripheral muscles and into the digestive tract
  • blood is available to the reproductive organs
  • breathing deepens
  • muscle activity slows
  • all the tissues of the body receive more oxygen
  • blood flows back into the frontal lobes of the brain
  • blood pressure drops
  • blood sugar drops

Church makes the point that you have just improved digestion, sexual function, mental acuity, circulation, and cell rejuvenation, and all at the same time! He says if there were a drug that could do this, it truly would be a miracle drug.

You can do this by learning and practicing your relaxation response. And simply by improving your emotions, you “initiate the epigenetic signals that shift your gene expression toward health.”

Church reminds readers that natural methods of raising serotonin, such as meditation, yoga, energy medicine, and optimism, come without any of the risks of taking a drug (such as seratonin reuptake inhibitors known as SSRIs) and avoids the common practice of prescribing a second procedure to limit the negative side effects of the first drug.

He says we can begin now teaching children simple stress-reduction techniques and lifestyle skills that improve our health and well-being by reducing overall stress.

“Holistic medicine approaches every symptom as an expression occurring within an integrated energy system, and finds the leverage points that bring that whole energy system back into balance.”

If you would like some excellent resources for yoga for children, visit the website of my good friends Don and Marsha Wenig from Yoga Kids at Yoga Kids Catalog

This week begin to notice how much better you feel when your whole energy system is in balance.

“Being-Focused”
Debra Basham
3 January 2011
debra@scs-matters.com

Principle Number 4: Being-Focused

Make sure you notice the hyphen in this week’s title. This is about a person’s state of being having a lot to do with his or her health. Larry Dossey, M.D., reported the story of doing his rounds in a coronary care unit and asking patients (they just happened to be all men) why they were there.

Their responses were about the situations that were going on in their lives. “I couldn’t stand to see my boss’s face one more day,” or “I feel trapped in my marriage. I can’t abide being with my wife,” or “My kids fight constantly. I would do anything to get away from their constant bickering.“

While on the surface, we see our emotions and thought life as separate from our physical health and well-being, these responses, and the current research, indicate that your state of being (your emotions, your beliefs, your attitudes) create the environment for your state of health, your well-being.

For sure, extreme symptoms can catalyze a change in our lives. This is probably true even though, as Church writes, “Our presenting symptoms may have a great deal more to do with our state of being than with our medical histories.” My own awareness of this grew out of the work of Bernie Siegel, M.D., in his book Love, Medicine, and Miracles. His suggestion was to look at the gift an illness brings by asking yourself what the illness or symptom allows you to do (or what you give yourself permission to do) that you had not seemed able to do previously. When I asked myself what the symptoms of degenerative disc disease allowed me to do, the shocking truth was I gave myself permission to rest.

A rich social network, consistent spiritual practice, an authentic vocation, the ability to speak one’s feelings, meditation—have been shown by research to build a more powerful sense of personal well-being. The ways this looks in your life will be unique. You may choose yoga or Tai Chi; you may join a church or start a daily habit of journal writing; and you may decide to nurture the relationships you have in your life, including your relationship to Mother Nature.

Church sums up this point by saying the physician of the future might first look for the practices that can most bolster the patient’s soul, like James Dillard writing on his prescription pad, “Long talks with your rabbi,” to banish the shadow of death from the consulting room, and generate a healthy, creative, peaceful state of being.

This week, for your health’s sake, begin to pay close attention to your state of being.

“Heart Centered”
Debra Basham
27 December 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

The timing for the third principle from The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, by Dawson Church, Ph.D., is perfect because it defines the nature of the healing relationship between a patient and a doctor.

Principle Number 3: Heart-Centered

When you think about the way medicine was originally practiced, by loved ones or those with special gifting (such as a priest, shaman, or medicine man or woman), it makes sense that modern medicine is now placing more emphasis on the importance of a heart-centered connection as being an “essential aspect of the healing connection.”

A lot of research has gone into the understanding of the benefit of that connection. One of the earliest observers, was Sidney Jourard (1926-1974), a leading force in Humanistic Psychology. Jourard was ahead of his time, for sure, and his books, including The Transparent Self (1964), provided ample clinical evidence of the therapeutic value of appropriate disclosure and genuine connection, as opposed to “professional detachment.”

More recent scientific understanding has come by way of the functional brain observations (fMRI), which show how good feelings are transferred from one person to another. We have previously looked at this idea, and however you are able to truly understand it, as Church writes “simply being met by another human being, heart to heart, at the level of soul and emotion, can be a profoundly healing experience.”

And your benefiting from this connection at the level of soul and emotion goes way beyond just patient-doctor relationships. My co-author, Joel Bowman, has been quoted as asking, “What if every person you meet is your spiritual partner?” This week, take the opportunity to begin to see your life more this way. If you would enjoy a story that provides a lovely way to see this, read “The Little Soul and The Sun,” sapphyr.net/largegems/littlesoul-thesun.htm.

The last line in the story is, “Always remember, I have sent you nothing but angels.” Your living with that awareness truly is heart-centered!

“Healing Is a Process”
Debra Basham
20 December 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Since epigenetic medicine is a new field, some of you may appreciate what Amy, from Hospice at Home, sent to the folks in her organization after receiving last week’s tip for well-being. Thank you Amy, who wrote that here is a straightforward short definition from a Time magazine article:
At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the cellular material—the epigenome—that sits on top of the genome, just outside it (hence the prefix “epi-,” which means above). It is these epigenetic “marks” that tell your genes to switch on or off, to speak loudly or whisper. It is through epigenetic marks that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that is passed from one generation to the next.
She said you can read more:

time.com/time/health/article

In a book Dr. Dean Ornish calls a “very effective collection of mind-body techniques,” Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness, caution is given to reacting negatively to the naming of health problems. You may have even noticed how some people’s language was possessive of disease states, such as when someone would unthinkingly say such things as, “My cancer.” Rituals of Healing reminds us that perceptions vary from time to time and from country to country. “In France, for example, people with migraine headaches are likely to be diagnosed with a liver disorder, in the United States with a vascular disorder, and in England with a gastrointestinal problem.” It seems as though a key factor is to recognize that health and well-being are on a continuum, rather than having an on-and-off switch. We continue our look at The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, by Dawson Church, Ph.D.

Principle Number 2: Healing is a Process, Not an Event

Modern medicine has tended to see illness as an event that begins with the onset of symptoms and ends with relief from them; however, just as being a parent does not begin with birth (anyone who has been pregnant can verify this as truth) and it does not end when the child moves out. Weight loss is not an event, like going on a diet, joining a fitness club, or even losing 10 or 20 pounds would be. You know the difference between an event and a process in these areas of your life, and your healing is also a process.

“A process is something we incorporate into our lifestyle, such as having a habit of going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and completing a set routine” (p. 325).

Church illustrates the difference between seeing things as a process or an event by mentioning what he refers to as an old Catholic joke: “A Catholic goes to church three times in his life, and two of those times he’s carried.” The three times are the sacraments of baptism, marriage, and the funeral. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, for sure you are aware of folks who make a point to go to church at Christmas and Easter, rather than valuing “regular worship attendance” and developing a habit.

A number of years ago, I participated in a work-site lifestyle program called “Dump Your Plump.” Well, the wonderful thing about the program was that you learned how to make well-being a process.

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Exercise 30 minutes a day, six days a week

When I did this program, my weight came down to goal and has stayed there all these years. Why? Healing is a process ... not an event! Of course, we now know to add relaxation response, too.

Many of you are involved in lifestyle improvement programs through your employer, so you can enjoy your ideal weight, become a former smoker, learn healthy ways to self-soothe, and develop ways of thinking and believing that promote your good health and sincere happiness.

This week notice the healthy choices you are making. Give yourself credit for all of those, big and small. Notice places where you can easily benefit from a lifestyle change, and easily gift yourself and your family with that. Enjoy a healing process of making good choices of body, mind, and spirit.

“Intentions First”
Debra Basham
13 December 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

The emerging science of epigenetic medicine is changing the way we think about how we can get (or stay) healthier longer. If you are a reader, you will want a copy of The Genie in Your Genes: Epigenetic Medicine and the New Biology of Intention, by Dawson Church, Ph.D. What wonderful news that biology is not destiny, and genetic predisposition will soon no longer be an excuse for choices that are not good for you. Over the next weeks, you will be introduced to ways you can get (or stay) healthier, longer. You will learn how you can do this for yourself, as we look closely at what Church refers to as “ten principles of Epigenetic Medicine.”

Church suggests that we will benefit by identifying our unique psychological triggers so we can walk out of the office of a caring expert with a “prescription pad of beliefs, concepts, prayers, and visualizations” that have been proven (scientifically) that they will boost your immune system as you make doing them for about ten minutes part of each day of your life.

Principle Number 1 - Intentions First, Outcomes Second

While a good outcome in physical medicine means the symptom has disappeared, symptoms can be seen as a guide to deeper awareness of not only physical, but also emotional and mental and spiritual, needs. Illness can be full of gifts, and “Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me” is a common (paradoxical) comment heard throughout the stories of survivors.

In my new book, Falling Together in Love: Stories from my Heart, with her permission, I tell the story of Jane, a wonderful woman who has learned to heal body, mind, and spirit. Jane is excited to share her story because the surgeon had told her husband and son that there was nothing more he could do for Jane. He also told her something else.... He said, “You need to find a holistic healer.”

Jane likes to remind me to be sure to mention to folks that this was ten years ago!

Church suggests we state our intentions clearly then let go. He writes that Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer (used by AA and other twelve-step programs) is a good one to use regularly. He sees opportunity for Western medicine, with its focus on outcomes, to embrace the idea that the journey is more than the destination. You already know that your having a good sense of well-being is a lot more than just not being sick.

Church writes about how tiny robots have been developed to work inside the body. He mentions the Pillcam, a camera the size and shape of a pill, that a person can swallow. It moves along the digestion track, easily providing valuable information. Wow ... these are very exciting times we are living in.

You can decide to get on board the epigentic medicine train. This week, make conscious your clear intentions to do just that and more.

“Patience”
Debra Basham
6 December 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Like farmers we need to learn that we cannot sow and reap the same day.
   ~ Anonymous

If you have children or have been a child or ever carried a child, you know that this is a time of year where having patience can be quite challenging. Children especially want what they want NOW!

It is not just children, though, who have the tendency to be impatient. Waiting for adults can spell S-T-R-E-S-S.

Patience is good most of the time but it is an absolute must for some situations in life:

Achieving your ideal weight
Having a baby
Learning to play a musical instrument
Attaining goals (education, relationship, career)
Doing yoga
Becoming a skilled athlete
Healing from surgery or illness or accident
Learning Tai Chi
Writing a book
Planting a tree
Training a puppy
Fishing
Meditating

But how do you develop patience that keeps you healthy and allows you to be relaxed and comfortable as things run their course?

Here are some tips that just might give you the edge you want with all of this:

  • Be realistic, and recognize that the process is the way to the goal
  • Forgive yourself and others
  • Set your intention
  • Be patient with your occasional impatience
  • Pay attention to your breathing
  • Exercise regularly (it creates good brain chemistry and makes it easier to be patient)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat regular meals
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Enjoy music

Record your insights so you know you are learning.

Just as trees take time to grow, but it is all worth the wait, cooking healthy meals can be part of the practice of patience. Although they say that a watched pot never boils, you can enjoy some wonderful healthy cooking this season. Sue Spitler is a friend of mine who has some great cook books. I have been at a cooking class in her home in Michigan City, Indiana, and here is a link for one of my favorites of her cookbooks and it is a real value at 70% off right now:

http://Ecookbooks Low Fat Recipes

And now a joke most everyone will relate to:

A supervisor, manager, and the director are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.

They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, “I’'ll give each of you just one wish.”

“Me first! Me first!” says the supervisor. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.”

Poof! She’s gone.

“Me next! Me next!” says the manager. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.”

Poof! He’s gone. “OK, it’s your turn,” says the Genie to the director.

The director says, “I want those two back in the office right after lunch.”

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Patience is a virtue!

If you have not seen one in a while, you might enjoy watching this video of chicks hatching: youtube.com/watch?v=tof5b1Qs_OE

“Priori-teas”
Debra Basham
29 November 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Many people are familiar with the use of five very common elements (some fist-sized rocks, some pebbles, some sand, and some water) to demonstrate a concrete illustration of a key time management strategy: put the big rocks in first! The demonstration goes like this. Take a jar (this represents your life). Fill it with fist-sized rocks. Ask the group if the jar is full. Then put in some pebbles to show there was more that could be added. Ask again if the jar is full, before pouring in the sand. Ask one more time if the jar is full, and finish the demonstration by showing that you can still add the water.

Demonstrations like this are good because your brain remembers them, and the ideas they represent make sense to you on many levels.

This season is one of the busiest times of the year, and for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it comes just when our bodies would prefer to be settling in for a long winter’s nap. The days are shorter. The winds are colder. Many of us go to work in the dark, and come home in the dark. Many days are gray, especially if you live here in the Midwest.

So when your priorities are straight, what are the big rocks you put into your days, and what are the things really worth caring about? Well, obviously, a healthy body is vital for anything else that is important. A general rule of threes for survival is that to stay alive you must: Breathe air within three minutes; find warmth/shelter within three hours; drink water within three days; and eat food within three weeks.

Those are key for survival, but you want to do more than that. You want to thrive. You want to establish priorities that will allow you to be healthy, happy, and to have energy to do the things you want to do with your life.

Our values come from a decision made at one moment in time. Even so, significant emotional events can reorder our values. That is why lifestyle changes can result from a health crisis. Since we generate our behaviors to satisfy our values from the top down, you can make sure your values support the life you want to live by asking yourself if you can have X without Y. Can you have fun without health?

Ask yourself what you really want. Your values need to go from the big picture (to be happy) to the specific (to respect individual choices). You want to be able to look back and to see it all with love.

One guy said his family was the most important value in his life. That was why he was working 60-70 hours a week, “To provide for my family.” It is vital to notice that he might need to make some changes in his values to be able to make sure that one of the things he wants to provide for his family is a healthy father and husband.

Notice what would have to change for you to be able to say you know you can do that. After you finish writing down the five, six, or ten areas that are a top priority for you, think about how much time you are spending in each area. Make sure you have put in the big rocks first, then the pebbles, then the sand, and then the water.

If you would like a list of values to get you started, here is a handy link: http://bit.ly/C80l. As you are thinking about values and priorities, you might also want to give a bit of attention to what you drink on a given day. My mom used to say that house plants would not live a week on what most people drink. Worldwide, after water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage. Polyphenols are the anti-cancer properties found in teas. But what teas are the highest in these antioxidants?

Among all varieties of tea—black, green, white, oolong, red, herbal—which one offers the most health benefits? According to an article by Gloria Tsang, R.D. (published in April 2008), the best teas are black, green, white, and oolong, with green and white teas the least processed. “Regardless of the processing method, black, green, white and oolong teas all contain polyphenols. In fact, tea ranks as high as or higher than many fruits and vegetables in the ORAC score, a score that measures antioxidant potential of plant-based foods.”

So at this busy time of year, sit down with a cup of one of these healthy teas, and give your attention to what is really important in your life.

“Stress-Free Thanksgiving”
Debra Basham
22 November 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Jeff Potter has read my mind and written a cookbook for geeks. I don’t have it yet, but I heard his tips for a stress-free Thanksgiving meal, and you will agree that this is a worthy goal for all of us.

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Go potluck
  3. Use the microwave
  4. Buy your dessert

My thoughts about these include the why, not just the what and how. Your family and friends really want to enjoy time with YOU. Sure we all enjoy good food, but the real meaning of getting together is relationships. Back in the day when you used to let all the things you "should" do have you too worn out to enjoy any of it yourself, and too crabby to let anyone else enjoy much of it, you had put the food before the fun. But men and women do not live by bread alone.

Keep it simple

Anything that can be done ahead of time, do it! Anything you can hire done (such as cleaning, shopping, baking the bread) do it! Anything you can delegate, do that, too! Rather than a ten course meal of everyone’s favorites, Potter says to stick to the staples: turkey, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, bread, and dessert.

Go potluck

Even a large family meal can be easy if everyone pitches in. The host home prepares the turkey, and the rest of the fixin’s arrive with the guests. That way, even you can be fresh as a daisy, and have energy to play some of the old favorite games.

Use the microwave

This tip brought another one to mind, sweet potatoes can be prepared in the crock pot and are easy as pie. Vegetables can be easy and healthy when you steam them in the microwave or on the stove using a handy little collapsible grid that you can buy for about $4 in most grocery stores.

Buy your dessert

Speaking of pie, order yours from a good bakery, and the cost will be about the same as purchasing the ingredients. You can get bread or rolls at the same time.

Add the cranberries as a natural remedy for the sluggish feeling that can happen after eating turkey because of the amino acid called tryptophan. Serve cruciferous vegetables, because they contain lots of disease fighters. Cabbage, cauliflower ... they both have been shown to lower the incidence of colon and lung cancers.

And since this is a holiday all about thankfulness, become aware of your own, and as you learn to do “The Original Gratitude Dance.” Here is a short instructional video, by the GratiDudes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9z2ELaBVJY.

The dance is easy to do, and it totally says one thing you are most thankful for this year is you are learning how important it is to take good care of you. That is how you really take the best care of others.

Happy Stress-Free Thanksgiving Day!

“Twinkie Diet”
Debra Basham
15 November 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Facebook has been very busy this week. Part of that busy was because a story about Mark Haub, a professor at Kansas State University who lost 27 pounds eating nothing but junk food, went viral. The story drew over 125,000 views, and elicited over a thousand comments. But Haub says the real point is you don’t have to starve or resort to drastic things like Atkins or South Beach Diet.

In an article from Kansas (reported on WWMT, News Channel 3) Haub’s words of encouragement include: “It’s not starvation; it’s not liposuction, it’s using diet to lose weight," said Haub. “It’s completely altered a lot of things we've been taught for last five years about nutrition.”

Haub came up with the idea while teaching a class on nutrition. And his point was to prove that the most important thing is that your caloric intake supports your weight management goals. His calories were reduced from 2,600 to 1,800.

You will want to eat healthier foods than he did, mostly because you can actually eat more, and you can enjoy it all. During his “Twinkie Diet” his cholesterol levels actually improved.

In fact, for some people, healthy weight management comes from eating enough calories (studies suggest no less than 1200) so your body knows it has what it needs and it can turn that food into energy. One of the reasons bodies had turned food into fat was because it thought it had to conserve. Skipping meals is not smart. Can you imagine what would happen if you went from morning until night without breathing....

According to an article in the December 2010 “Prevention” magazine (“I Lost Weight Without Even Trying,” by Anne Underwood), new emphasis is placed on creating a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips:

Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, Florida, suggests you savor your food, practice good posture, and follow your passion. Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, says your focus is on transforming your relationship with food: you make a special space for meals, you fight fat by breathing, and you enlist the support of your family and friends so you can all enjoy healthier lives. One woman who lived alone would go to garage sales or resale shops and buy lovely place settings for one. She made an event of every meal. We have mentioned previously that the meal following a meal eaten out of disposables is likely to have more calories.

Duke Integrative Medicine, in Durham, North Carolina, has found that it is easier if throughout your day you pause to think about what you truly value in life (family, friends, health, creativity). They also found that when you take a few days to rate your feeling of hunger before, during, and after a meal, you will be pleasantly surprised how satisfied you can be—especially if you jot down what you eat and when you eat, as well as your feeling of hunger, in a journal. Although not just related to healthy eating habits, it is vital that you silence your inner critic. Good feelings create good behaviors....

The Golden Door in Escondido, California, suggests you appreciate the sounds of silence, nurture gratitude, and seek friends with a positive outlook.

All of this makes good sense, doesn’t it. It reminds me of a quotation I wrote down from a little book of happiness, “All of life is a journey; which paths we take, what we look back on, and what we look forward to is up to us. We determine our destination, what kind of road we will take to get there, and how happy we are when we get there.”

“Brother David”
Debra Basham
8 November 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

This past week has been one of awareness of death for me. It is not just because November 1 is All Saint’s Day. On Monday I got a call from a colleague of mine, a woman who is also an Ordained Interfaith Minister. She had just received word that her brother had committed suicide in Florida. She was in Michigan recovering from a recent hip replacement. Her desire was to make peace with it all.

Tuesday I received a call from another colleague of mine, another woman who is also an Ordained Interfaith Minister. She had just been asked to do a funeral service for a baby that had just died. Her initial reaction was to feel that she did not know how to do this properly because she had never done it before, but while her initial thought was to ask me to do it, she realized she was the one the family wanted.

Every day we are faced with the idea of death and dying. The teachings on death and dying by Brother David Steindl-Rast (a Roman Catholic theologian born in Vienna 1926 and emigrated to the US in 1952) are said to focus on the interaction between spirituality and science.

I cannot think of any subject that does that more than death and dying. Everything that is born, dies. Science tells us that everything is energy and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form.

Brother David was asked, “What awareness about death and dying would change the way people view it if they really understood?”

His answer sounds a bit like a riddle. (I am paraphrasing some....) “You have to be very alive to deal with dying because dying is something that is very active. You cannot say I am being died. To die is something that you have to actively do.” He went on to say that most people are afraid of dying, but even more people are afraid of living fully because “to live fully, you are constantly letting go, meeting the unknown, meeting the surprise.” You can see a 6 minute video of this interview at youtube.com/user/Gratefulness#p/a/u/0/UmuhWG-KvhI

Brother David’s suggestion for your living life fully comes from the rules of the Benedictines, the order in which he is a monk. “To have death at all times before your eyes.” It might be good advice, because his work has really been about the way gratefulness and happiness lead to better health. In case you want details on HOW, here is a list written by Erma Bombeck shortly after she had been diagnosed with cancer:

If I Had My Life to Live Over Again

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth
would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ’good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day
because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television—and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t
show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished
every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only
chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.“

There would have been more “I love you’s.... More “I’m sorry’s”

Given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and
really see it ... live it ... and never give it back.

I would stop sweating the small stuff.

Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what.
Instead, cherish the relationships you have with those who DO love you and
think about what God HAS blessed you with.

Life is too short to let it pass you by. This is not a dress rehearsal.

So Many Books
Debra Basham
25 October 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

I love to read. Someone once said that we read so we know we are not alone. Well, I must really enjoy company, because I am most often reading several books at one time, and right now I am reading Relaxation Revolution: Enhancing Your Personal Health Through the Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing, by Herbert Benson, M.D. (author of the bestselling Relaxation Response), and A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, by Jack Kornfield. At first glance these books might have looked unrelated, but upon a closer inspection, you can see how they are saying essentially the same thing.

That makes sense because your thoughts, your emotions, your beliefs, and your bodies are hard wired. To care well for your body, you want to learn how to manage your thoughts and your emotions and to challenge beliefs that are not helpful. One aspect of the whole person does not “exist” separately, but all are intimately woven together. Kornfield writes, “In joining the monastery, I had hoped to leave behind the pain of my family life and the difficulties of the world, but of course they followed me. It took many years for me to realize that these difficulties were part of my practice.” Oh, my.... I am with you on understanding that!

Many of you are familiar with my handout of the Benson-Proctor method for eliciting the relaxation response. You pick a focus word or a phase or image, or just focus on your breathing. You sit calmly in a quite place, and you close your eyes. You progressively relax all your muscle groups. As you inhale and exhale slowly and naturally, you just repeat or picture your focus word, phrase, or image. When other thoughts come into your awareness, you simply return to your focus. The suggestion is to do this exercise for about 10 to 20 minutes at least once a day.

Benson and his co-author, William Proctor, M.D., have found that while this is often enough to lead to significant healing, you better your results if you include visualization after you do the relaxation session. They encourage you to make a picture of what it was like to be free of the symptom you are currently experiencing so you are able to remember and relive a state of well-being you have had in the past. They are clear to say also that if it is challenging to remember a state of being without the symptom, use your imagination to see yourself in the desired state of well-being.

A good friend of mine recently had a hip replacement after many years (a couple of decades) of chronic pain. Following the surgery she had a vision of the physical parts of her body as personalities, some male, some female, some old, some young, some frightened, some angry, some excited. She was able to imagine them working together, and she used this visualization to move herself forward in her physical and emotional and mental healing.

Kornfield includes a wonderful visualization in which you imagine going to a healing temple or a sacred spot and a wise being comes and guides you to well-being. If you would enjoy that, you can imagine being physically touched and comforted and healed by this wise being. You can imagine what you would hear, what you would see, what you would feel ... and you can make a movie of yourself taking the actions that prove to you this better state of well-being is now yours.

Benson and Proctor warn that some people begin to worry about whether they are doing the visualization correctly when they first start using the skill, and they assure their patients that if they do the exercises, even if they don’t think they are doing it right, the clinical benefits occur.

They say, “Overall, the ‘static’ in the brain, including thoughts and worries that may interfere with concentration, decreased as subjects continued with their mental exercises.” I love that now science, through the use of the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging equipment), is able to conclusively support what spiritual practitioners of meditation have been saying all along.

One of the additional benefits is how our minds actually forget habituated patterns that had resulted in discomfort, and learn new ways of being in the world. They say our bodies are “freer of the stress responses that cause or exacerbate illness.” I think you will agree that is something you definitely want more of. If you do not have one, and you would like a copy of the handout on Eliciting the Relaxation Response, just send an e-mail request to debra@scs-matters.com.

Best Breast Test
Debra Basham
18 October 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

My sister-in-law sent me a photo of a little girl with the slogan, “Find a cure before I grow boobs!” on the front of her dress. Cute... and very appropriate for circulating in October. However cute that slogan is, what women really need is good, accurate, honest information that can save a lot of suffering.

I am fortunate to have been in the holistic health industry for a good, long time now, so I have known about the benefits of breast thermography for almost twenty years. I could have written this myself because I agree with it so strongly, but the following is the opening paragraph in her October 12 newsletter by Dr. Christiane Northrup:

Every year when Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) comes around I am a saddened and surprised that thermography hasn’t become more popular. Part of this is my mindset. I’d rather focus on breast health and ways to prevent breast cancer at the cellular level than put the emphasis on testing and retesting until you finally do find something to poke, prod, cut out or radiate. That’s why I call October Breast Health Awareness Month, not Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I understand that mammography has been the gold standard for years. Doctors are the most familiar with this test, and many believe that a mammogram is the best test for detecting breast cancer early. But it’s not. Studies show that a thermogram identifies precancerous or cancerous cells earlier, and produces unambiguous results, which cuts down on additional testing--and it doesn’t hurt the body. Isn’t this what women really want?

Everyone agrees that early detection is vital, but did you know that because heat is an indication that inflammation exists, research has shown that an abnormal thermogram was 10 times more accurate in predicting future risk than having a history of breast cancer in your family?

Dr. Northrup calls thermography’s accuracy and reliability remarkable. Some research indicates the benefit of using thermography as the primary diagnostic tool, because of the prevention element that exists with it. They suggest mammography only if there is a problem indicated. This might just be a really good plan.

To read (and share) the entire article, here is the link: The-best-breast-test

Now, make sure you share this news with all the women in your life. It would be a real shame to continue to keep the best breast test a secret, wouldn’t it....

Sweetest Day
Debra Basham
11 October 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

According to Wikipedia, Sweetest Day originated in Cleveland, Ohio, 88 years ago and is celebrated primarily in the Great Lakes Region and parts of the Northeast United States. Celebrated on the third Saturday in October, now is your chance to celebrate this holiday. It was originally a day to “spread love and cheer to the unfortunate” but pretty much is now known as a day to “show affection to the loved ones in your life.” But it is described by Retail Confectioners International as an “occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember not only the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives, and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed.” That sounds like a worthy focus for this week, and perhaps for every week....

Erich Fromm is quoted as having said that infantile love follows the principle: “I love because I am loved” while mature love follows the principle: “I am loved because I love.” Immature love says: “I love you because I need you” but mature love says: “I need you because I love you.”

If you think of love as an emotion that comes from somewhere outside of you, a feeling that you are hopelessly at the mercy of, such as falling in love, or I just don’t love him (or her) any more, then you have missed the understanding of the way your brain chemistry is at work, creating the feelings of loving, or not loving. In Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine, Candace B. Pert, Ph.D, (see Appendix A: “Prevention Oriented Tips for Healthful, Blissful, Living”) offers some significant advice good for all of us.

We must take responsibility for the way we feel. The notion that others can make us feel good or bad is untrue. Consciously or—more frequently—unconsciously, we are choosing how we feel at every single moment. The external world is in so many ways a mirror of our beliefs and expectations. Why we feel the way we feel is the result of the symphony and harmony of our own molecules of emotion that affect every aspect of our physiology, producing blissful good health or miserable disease.

Granted, most of the patterns of belief and expectation that have been creating our experiences were not chosen consciously. That is the real point of your becoming aware. There are some behaviors you can consciously choose that will allow you to be happier and healthier.

Candace Pert continues, “Meditation practiced early morning and late evening, routinely, even religiously, is, I believe, the single quickest, easiest, shortest, and cheapest route to feeling good, which means being in synch with your natural feelings.“

Maybe this Saturday you can begin and end your day meditating on all the friends, relatives, and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed. Now that would make your day the sweetest day ... and perhaps you can enjoy doing that every day.

Weight Management Secret
Debra Basham
4 October 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Sometimes people got into the habit of being self-critical when they would “cheat” or eat the “wrong” foods. It is much more productive to just create a new behavior, one that lets you be healthier and happier.

Use your imagination or pretend that you have a forbidden food right in front of you. Pay attention to the thoughts you are thinking, to the things you are saying to yourself, and to the sensations you are experiencing. Some people report that they can even salivate! Before you let yourself imagine how good that is going to taste, just freeze that image of that food, and, as though you are looking through the lens of a camera, just zoom out so the image of that food is now very far away. You might change the image in other ways, too, such as shifting it to black and white if it were color, or making it very blurry if it had been clear.

Your making these changes in the way you represent the food in your mind will change your emotions about food.

In, The Secret to Permanent Weight Loss, Rena Greenberg suggests that before eating less desirable foods, you can imagine that you already ate the food, and focus on the feelings in your body. Pay close attention to any indication that the food was not really good for you, such as slight nausea, disgust, or guilt, heaviness or other feelings of discomfort, and any distention or bloating feelings. She says you can exaggerate (or imagine) the bad feelings associated with having eaten that particular food, making negative feelings as real for yourself as possible. She considers this to be a key to effective behavioral change, because you are able to think about the negative consequences before you take the action. Now that is real learning, isn’t it....

She goes on to say that rather than fantasizing about how wonderful this food will taste prior to eating it and then experiencing the pain of having eaten it over and over again, begin to associate pain with the food before you eat it. That will keep you from wanting it. By doing this exercise regularly with the “trigger” foods that caused you to sabotage yourself, you change the subconscious programming that had been running your life and was keeping you feeling helpless about your choices for a healthy life.

She is right that as you change your perceptions about the foods you eat, your habits will automatically and effortlessly begin to support your desire to live a healthier life. This is certainly a lot easier and a lot more fun than the way we used to do things.

Dogs 'n' Tricks
Debra Basham
27 September 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Today’s tip is a tribute to dogs ... and to teaching yourselves new tricks.

“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.” ~ Author Unknown

Almost every day we see something else about how to keep your brain healthy well into advanced age. Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies to get all those antioxidants. Do all the brain-train tricks including word puzzles, Rubix cubes, and Sudoku; learn new skills, play challenging video games, and even take time to meet new people. The common denominator seems to be the new....

Corey Ford said, “Properly trained, a man can be dog’s best friend.” Perhaps we really can learn new tricks to keep our brains healthy.

I was still feeling pretty overwhelmed with all the things I had yet to complete before heading to the airport on my way to Thailand, but I was already quite excited about all the new I would be experiencing, and all the neuronal patterns I would be growing. What a powerful idea that even just going somewhere you had never been before could be good for your brain. Travel agents will love that. So might divorce attorneys....

“The more I see of man, the more I like dogs.” ~ Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766 to 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël

What all these actions have in common is how they each force your brain out of its old patterns, literally getting you out of your rut.

And the final dog quote for today: “My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.” ~ Author Unknown

This week choose to enjoy at least one activity just because you know you are growing new brain pathways. Maybe even learn a new joke you can tell. Today I am on my way back from Thailand so as I leave there, I will leave you with this last laugh:

A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet and says, “My dog is cross-eyed. Is there anything you can do for him?”

The vet says, “Well, let’s have a look at him.”

So the vet picks the dog up to have a good look at the dog’s eyes. Finally he says, “I’m going to have to put him down.”

“What? Just because he is cross-eyed?”

“No, because he is really, really heavy.”

This one reminds you how important it is to listen for words with more than one meaning. In fact, your doing just that can be one of the many new tricks you are enjoying learning....

The Work
Debra Basham
20 September 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Whether or not you formally know about the “psychological defense mechanisms,” as named by Freud, we all have a total recognition when someone is projecting their stuff onto us. Projection can create relief, because it allows what cannot be tolerated by the self, to be blamed on someone or something outside the self. It is considered normal, and everyone does it to some extent. Pathology occurs when the projection cannot be recognized, thereby allowing legitimate needs to go unmet, hidden from the conscious mind.

If you think only about the way someone blames the dog, kicks the wheel, or shoots the lawnmower, we might think about projection only as “bad.” However you had thought about the process, you may benefit from the way Byron Katie (author, speaker, known for “the work”) uses the process of projection as a wonderful tool for self-inquiry.

In the same way that a caricature reveals what is there because it is exaggerated, “the work” consists of an exaggerated use of the process of projection to show you something you did not know about you.

Identify someone with whom you have some sort of issue: someone you are frustrated by, irritated with, angry toward, or sad about. Rather than trying not to project onto that person, Katie’s worksheet has you write out what you are upset about, what that person should or should not do, what you need him or her to do or not do for you to be happy, and what you don’t want to experience with that person again!

After you have done a great job with this step, she has you ask yourself four questions about it all:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you know absolutely that it is true?
  3. How do you react (what happens) when you believe the thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

As if you could miss your own projections with this process, next she has you turn things around in your mind. In the example, My husband does not respect me, the first turn around would be My husband does respect me. Turn around number two: I don’t respect my husband, and number three: I don’t respect me. The last step is to find three examples of how each turnaround is true.

You can download a free worksheet at Katie's website by going to Judge Your Neighbor. Eat your heart out Sigmund. You can keep a copy handy and use it often to project your way to more awareness and improved relationships in your life!

Tai Chi
in Flight
Debra Basham
13 September 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Perhaps we are all more ready now to really enjoy being creative about taking better care of ourselves in more situations. According to the internet, a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia reaffirms that a sedentary life increases risks of such diseases as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. They also found that being faithful to exercise 30 minutes a day is not enough if the rest of the day is spent sitting. The suggestion is that we need to stand up and move around throughout the day, every day.

Here is a link to a short (5 minute) video with some helpful information about relieving back pain with Tai Chi: http://bit.ly/aoR8IU.

You may be familiar with the work of Paul Lam, M.D., a family practice physician in Sydney, Australia. He travels the world to promote the benefits of his Tai Chi for Health programs, developed with medical experts and Tai Chi masters. His websites (www.taichiproductions.com or www.taichiforhealthinstitute.org) have some great resources that may be of some help so you are able to avoid the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle more easily and more effectively.

From these links, you can select “newsletter” and open and click on June 2006, and then select and click to read: “Tai Chi to Go, Travel Light With Tai Chi,” by Dahlis Roy. This article is about her use of the techniques found in Dr. Lam’s DVD, “Tai Chi in Flight.”

Dahlis is a good friend, an amazing artist, and one of my Tai Chi instructors! Her profile is available here.

The important lesson for us all is to begin to believe that there really always is a way you can be healthier, in all situations and in all ways. Dahlis loaned me her copy of Dr. Lam’s DVD, “Tai Chi in Flight,” for use during the long flight to Thailand. Remember how the inner critic would have you believe what you want or need to be healthier or happier is not available to you? It is good to activate your inner coach so you know better now.

Tai Chi can be practiced anywhere, anytime, by you or anyone else who wants to enjoy better health and more well-being. Thank you, Dr. Lam! Thank you, Dahlis! And thank yourself for making taking good care of you your full-time job. You and your employer will benefit greatly.....

Spontaniety
Debra Basham
6 September 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.”
      —Henry Miller (1891-1980)

Years ago I read essentially the same thing in “An Eschatological Laundry List.” I am not sure that I even knew it at the time, but the list came from a book by Sheldon Kopp. Even the title of the book is quite heady: If you Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.

What does all of that mean to us right now? Well, if you are reading this tip on Monday, September 6, or Tuesday, September 7, 2010, it means I am on my way to Thailand! This is a trip that came up quickly and was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Spontaneity was certainly necessary if I were to seriously consider going.

The woman I am going to be with is quite a celebrity there. She goes simply by her first initial, “D.” Her book, The Life Compass I and II, has sold over 1,000,000 copies in Thailand and will soon be published in English. While I am in Thailand with her, she will be addressing thousands of doctors, and she will be conducting a three-day mind-spa retreat for two hundred participants. Also while I am there, we will be launching my book, “Stories from my Heart.” These are true stories about experiences of many of the folks I have been honored to work with over the years.

D’s story is quite powerful. She was a very young woman, married, and with a baby. Her husband died, leaving them with over $4,000,000 in debt! Many people would have given up. Some people would have felt sorry for themselves. Some might have contemplated or even committed suicide.

Instead, D practiced meditation! Her spiritual practice and principles allowed her to not only survive, but also to build a life that is truly quite “blessed,” by just about any standard.

You have read about the benefits of meditation in this blog. You know that scientific research has shown many physical benefits (including turning off cancer causing genes and turning on cancer prevention genes) of a regular practice of meditation, but did you ever think about meditation as the source for your being more financially stable? Not just “feeling OK about what you have” but actually the key to your having more? More money, more time, more freedom.... When you think about it, not only do you feel better and look younger, but your ability to r-e-a-l-l-y   r-e-l-a-x completely means you are smarter, too. That is what D proved. You can see her photo and read about her here.

And if you would enjoy spontaneously reading Sheldon Kopp’s entire eschatological laundry list, here it is. (Who knows how much good can come from your doing just that!)

An Eschatological Laundry List

  1. This is it.
  2. There are no hidden meanings.
  3. You can’t get there from here, and besides there is no place to go.
  4. We are already dying, and we’ll be dead a long time.
  5. Nothing lasts!
  6. There is no way of getting all you want.
  7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.
  8. You only get to keep what you give away.
  9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.
  10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there’s no compensation for misfortune.
  11. You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.
  12. It’s a random universe to which we bring meaning.
  13. You really don’t control anything.
  14. You can’t make anyone love you.
  15. No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else.
  16. Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable.
  17. There are no great men.
  18. If you have a hero, look again; you have diminished yourself in some way.
  19. Everyone lies, cheats, pretends. (yes, you too, and most certainly myself.)
  20. All evil is potentially vitality in need of transformation.
  21. All of you is worth something if you will only own it.
  22. Progress is an illusion.
  23. Evil can be displaced but never eradicated, as all solutions breed new problems.
  24. Yet it is necessary to keep struggling toward solution.
  25. Childhood is a nightmare.
  26. But it is so very hard to be an on-your-own, take-care-of-yourself-cause-there-is-no-one-else-to-do-it-for-you grown-up.
  27. Each of us is ultimately alone.
  28. The most important things each man must do for himself.
  29. Love is not enough, but it sure helps.
  30. We have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that's all there is.
  31. How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it.
  32. We must live within the ambiguity of partial freedom, partial power, and partial knowledge.
  33. All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data.
  34. Yet we are responsible for everything we do.
  35. No excuses will be accepted.
  36. You can run, but you can't hide.
  37. It is most important to run out of scapegoats.
  38. We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.
  39. The only victory lies is in surrender to oneself.
  40. All of the significant battles are waged within the self.
  41. You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.
  42. What do you know for sure ... anyway?
  43. Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again.
Nuts
Debra Basham
30 August 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Did you know that you can keep your heart healthy by your enjoying nuts and seeds? Nuts and seeds are high in phytosterols, a helpful substance that can lower cholesterol naturally. According to Consumer Reports on Health, these are the top five nuts and seeds to lower cholesterol:

  1. Sunflower seeds
  2. Pistachios
  3. Pumpkin seeds
  4. Pine nuts
  5. Flaxseeds, whole (I use a coffee grinder so I have fresh ground every day)

In addition to this being a good way to lower cholesterol, you want to be more mindful of what you are doing with your thoughts about food and your body as well. The following list came from the August 26, 2010, “Daily Reminder” from Betty Lue Lieber, Ph.D, MFT. Betty Lue is available for coaching and counseling or spiritual direction at Reunion Center, 3496 Buskirk Avenue, Suite 103, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, and can be reached at (800) 919-2392. You may decide to sign up so you can also enjoy her daily reminders.

  • I pay attention to my digestion from both ends to understand better what works for me now. There are always signs and symptoms that teach us what not to do and eat.
  • I pay attention to my feet, legs, and back to tell me how to move and use my body well.
  • I wear the shoes my feet need, rather than care what others think.
  • I eat the foods my body needs rather than eat like others eat.
  • I keep my spiritual life in order using these loving reminders and lots of gratitude daily.
  • I trust my body to keep me informed about what it needs for well-being and it does!
  • I maintain my household and work space in a ways that inspires me with its beauty and order.
  • I sustain my relationships with trust, freedom, gratitude and lots of Love.
  • I bless all monies I receive in any form, and use them wisely for the benefit of everyone.
  • I give away things I am not using or use them in my service work with others.
  • I eat wisely—mostly organic vegetables, and some whole grains and fruits.
  • I truly do what I love and love what I do and it brings me enthusiasm and joy.
  • I wake up in the morning feeling delighted to spend this day in loving ways.

We are living in a time where information is everywhere. It does not really matter what works for someone else unless it works for you, does it....

Take some time this week to notice what is working for you now. Tastes change.... I used to play with dolls and suck my thumb. You have probably outgrown some of the things you had been doing regularly, too. It is a different kind of “nuts“ to not change in ways that allow you to be happier, healthier, and to really enjoy your life. Grab some seeds or nuts, lower your cholesterol and raise your level of well-being. After all, that is what you are receiving these tips for!

Pure Joy
Debra Basham
23 August 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Have you seen the video of the ten-year-old singer, Jackie Evancho from “America’s Got Talent”? If you have not seen her before, grab your heart, because here is a link to her performance on “America’s Got Talent”: Jackie Evancho.

Hearing Jackie sing and watching her be so excited about going to Universal Studios in Orlando led me to wonder how such pure joy and genuine innocence can be more of my experience every day. I don’t mean that I think I can sing like Jackie. Gosh, probably not many on the planet can. But what can you do that brings that feeling?

Sometimes it is the most simple of things that allows you to have the feeling. Such as being able to enjoy watching a 45-minute old baby goat trying to stand on its wobbly legs at the county fair.

Or finding a quarter on my morning walk.

Or having my soon-to-be 21 years old grandson sign off his instant message with loveyougammieoliebutt.

Your ability to feel truly happy more of the time seems to be tied to your learning focused attention, such as what is seen in brain scans of highly skilled meditators. You can get some of these benefits with styles of both sitting and moving meditation, such as yoga or Tai Chi. See “The Brief History of Happiness Research” with OBGYN and Tai Chi Master, Stephanie Taylor, in Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi, Health & Lifestyle Newsletter, Issue Number 108, August 2010.

Funseeker or Funsucker
Debra Basham
16 August 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Recently I read an article with a rather attention-catching question for a title: “Are you a funseeker or a funsucker?” The August 2, 2010, article by Lian Dolan was online at Oprah.com. The title is rather self-explanatory, but perhaps you will enjoy a closer look at how the idea can make a difference for you in your life.

The article says that your becoming a funseeker is a choice you make to not take things so seriously, meaning that to be a person who seeks fun is a decision you make to make the best of any situation, such as times your plane is delayed.

One frigid January morning, my husband and I were trying to get out of Chicago on our way to Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. While other frustrated passengers ranted and raved and made demands that the airlines would have already been doing if they could, John and I entertained ourselves reading “Far Side” cartoons. I still recall the one about the woman leaning out of the second story window, yelling down to her husband on the sidewalk below. Thieves were lurking in several of the doorways, but oblivious to the risk she loudly called down to him, “Herbie, I forgot to tell you to deposit the $5,000 cash into checking, not savings!” As we laughed and laughed, most of those others waiting glared at us as if to say, “How can you enjoy yourself when we are stuck here?” Our thinking was that this is a day of your life, and you want to make the best of it. We could not control the circumstances, but you absolutely have a choice how you respond to them.

This idea is not really new at all, and many students of mental well-being may be familiar with A New Guide to Rational Living, by Albert Ellis and Robert Harper. In 1955 Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and is often described as the founder of cognitive-behavioral therapies.

What I remember most about A New Guide to Rational Living is that there are “warning signs of a person with irrational beliefs.” I have improvised a few of them below, with a bit of my own twisted sense of humor so you can read them all and the note following because there is hope for you to become a funseeker, too.

  1. Change behavior only with difficulty (Change might have been easier by your being more flexible, but wouldn’t that have been like using a rubber ladder?)
  2. Generally accept little or no information upon which to reason (Others didn’t confuse you with the facts ... because you have had no interest in them.)
  3. See reality in a prejudiced light (You know you have been imagining it all, but you had been able to see it all so clearly!)
  4. Avoid careful examination of your own false assumptions (Your assumptions might have been false, but at least they were your own.)
  5. View as fact what the rest of us speculate about—such as another’s motives for behavior (You know that meteor had it out for you.)
  6. Escalate probabilities into certainties (OK, maybe it is a one-in-a-zillion chance, but with your luck it can happen.)
  7. Often fail to distinguish a person, place, or thing from your evaluation of it (Well, the van is stupid, and the dog is lazy.)
  8. Usually make dogmatic judgments about the goodness or rightness of many things that cross your path (Well, it is clear when things are wrong—look at this list!)
  9. Blame nonhuman elements in your environment (You shoot the lawnmower because it won’t start.)
  10. Impeding your own progress towards chosen goals (Sure it had never worked before, but you were going to hang in there anyway.)

NOTE* If you see someone else in your life in some of these and it makes you smile, funseeking is definitely a way of life you are developing. If you see your “former self” and send this to at least two others telling them about it, they will never accuse you of being a funsucker. And if you see some of your own tendencies even now and you are able to laugh out loud at yourself, you will have made a difference in your own life and in the world today. Maybe we should all get “Be A FunSeeker” T-shirts....

Music
Debra Basham
9 August 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Scientific medical research has proven that music is good medicine. Modern sound healing is the outgrowth of the work of the late Dr. Alfred Tomatis, of France, but every known culture has used sound in healing since the beginning of time, including the drumming of Native Americans. In fact, Dr. Barry Bittman, M.D., of the Mind-Body Wellness Center, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, has correlated group drumming with increased activity of Natural Killer Cells—the beneficial cells that make up the bulk of your innate immune system. NK Cells seek out and destroy cancer cells, play a major role in the rejection of tumors, and have a positive impact on cells infected by viruses. In several studies chronic, nonmalignant pain decreased after listening to music for just one hour a day for seven days.

You probably already recognize that sound can be very relaxing, and music can shift a bad mood into a groove move. You can enjoy music at home, in your vehicle, in your favorite restaurant, and now even in hospitals, where private rooms are wired for bringing peaceful sounds to the patients. You can even enjoy music in your dentist office. You know that music can change how you feel, but have you thought about how this happens, and have you realized that your financial future may be affected?

Both ears do not hear in the same way. It’s pretty well-known that the left side of the brain specializes in processing rapidly changing sounds, like speech, while your right brain handles drawn-out sounds, like music. Your marvelous left ear, therefore, is dominant for music and similar sounds, and that means listening to music stimulates your right brain.

In the May 7, 2009, CNN.com article “Why Right-brainers Will Rule this Century,” Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, tells Oprah that future job security in America might just depend upon your developing your right brain now. Pink explains that right-brained skills include the creative thinking processes such as design, storytelling, and empathy. Left-brained skills such as computer programming are being outsourced, but it is much more difficult to outsource the creative processes of the right brain. (To read the entire article, go to http://bit.ly/q1138.)

We still use both ears to hear a variety of sounds, of course, but your being intentional to use music and sounds that stimulate your right brain might not only be good for your body, your mind, and your spirit. It might also be good for your wallet!

Hungry?
Debra Basham
2 August 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

A delightful idea came from “Word for the Day” (Saturday, July 24, 2010). Here is the quotation: “Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are.” If you are interested in an online inspirational “thought for the day” you might sign up for this one, it came from gratefulness.org, whose mission is to use gratefulness as the foundation for personal and universal cooperation and change.

Certainly this quotation means even more to you when you realize it comes from Nkosi Johnson, a 12 year-old Zulu boy living with AIDS!

But your doing all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are living has a very practical side, too. Think about getting ready to make dinner. Do you know about the SuperCook Website where you can list the ingredients you have on hand and they will tell you what you can do with them?

Now that is a very helpful tool....

Your doing all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are living simply means more and more you can see possibilities where others might have seen limitations, in all situations.

Another favorite saying of mine comes from Jan Cowen, developer of the Little Tramp inspirational series of cards and giftware: Love only adds and multiplies; love never subtracts or divides.

Sometimes you are hungry for something specific and it is worth a stop at the store. The rest of the time, maybe most of the time, however, you can look around and see all the possibilities that are present in what you have right now.

Gandhi & Kyle
Debra Basham
26 July 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Most people would agree that Mahatma Gandhi definitely has left a mark on our world. His life and teachings inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and ultimately influenced what is commonly called the American civil rights movement. You may not end up having this degree of influence, but a lot is written about the benefits of your developing and maintaining a positive mental and emotional attitude. Perhaps you have previously heard or read this quotation attributed to Gandhi:

Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.

Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior.

Keep your behavior positive, because your behaviors become your habits.

Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.

Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.

Inspiration did not end with Gandhi. If you want to see a real-life example, check the Website of Kyle Maynard. I had the opportunity to spend 9 days with this amazing young man. Do your world a favor, get inspired! You can do that by investing just three minutes and seventeen seconds to watch “A Fighting Chance” (http://www.kyle-maynard.com).

Kyle Maynard is totally inspiring. Perhaps his message, like that of Gandhi, is enough to remind each one of us to share your best with the world.

Biking
Debra Basham
19 July 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Sometimes you learn something that just changes the way things unfold for you and you know for sure you are making choices that are good for you now. That is how I felt when I read about the research (“Biking Minutes a Day May Ward Off Weight Gain,” by Amanda Gardner, Health.com, June 28, 2010) saying that biking just might be the answer to your enjoying your ideal weight. “Bicycling is an answer to weight control,” says the lead author of the study, Dr. Anne Lusk, Ph.D., a research fellow in nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.

Not everything about biking is serious benefit, though. Here is a pretty funny bicycle joke: A guy was riding alone on a tandem bike, when he was stopped by a police officer. “What is wrong, Officer?” asked the man. “Sir, your wife fell off the back of your bike quite some ways back.” “Oh, gosh, that is good news. I was afraid I had lost my hearing!”

And, okay, here are my top five favorites from a long list in a blog called “You Know You Are Addicted to Biking When...”

5. You move to a new town and the first thing you look for is a bike shop.

4. You can tell your spouse, with a straight face, it’s too hot to mow
     the lawn and then you go for a long bike ride.

3. You use wax on your chain, but not on your car.

2. You're too tired for hanky-panky on Friday night, then you can ride a
     five-hour century on Saturday.

1. Your Power Bar tastes better to you than a Snickers.

The biking benefit includes stationary bikes, so biking can become another one of the things you do regularly for year-round enjoyment. Perhaps this tip should have been titled, “Pedal Power.”

Time
Debra Basham
12 July 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci said “time stays long enough for those who use it.” We probably have more reason to pay attention to the way we are feeling and thinking about time than just about any other subject. Why? Because time is an illusion, and every moment truly is a present.

People have been speculating about the “true” nature of time for thousands of years. Since Newton, the common conception has been linear, with the universe being thought of as a giant clock, moving relentlessly forward through time. In terms of our daily lives, this view often serves a useful purpose. It allows us to think about the order of events that influence our lives, with last week occurring before this week, yesterday happening before today, and tomorrow and next week “ahead” of us in time. This view of time allows us to reflect on our past and plan for the future, and our ability to “measure” time encourages us to look both forward and backward.

Physical time does seem to operate in linear fashion. Because the day-to-day, week-to-week order is so pervasive in our lives, it is difficult for us to consider that other models of time are also possible. It was only when Einstein introduced the concept of relativity, that the idea that time could be something other than linear began creeping into human consciousness. But “time” as we know it, is a mental construct, and our perception of it varies.

When a person seems “stuck” in a state or focused on a challenge or a problem, he or she will often use a simple verb tense, “I am angry.” Simply changing the verb to a progressive tense may help the individual see him- or herself as moving through a particular state: “So you have been feeling angry.”

Remember that the universal present tense exists through time. Be alert for language usage which suggests that a certain state has always existed and will continue to exist forever. Your simply shifting to the past tense when you think or speak about a challenge you had been having helps move the problem into the past.

Now, if you want to think and speak about your well-being using the universal present tense, you may agree this is a great plan, regardless of what is happening at a given moment, you will be living the idea that time really does stay long enough for us to use it. As you invest in life-giving thoughts and actions today, you will begin to notice that the most powerful good feelings are the ones to remember. Just remember to forget the rest....

Freedom
Debra Basham
5 July 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

“Me and Bobby McGee” is the title of a song written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, taken to the top of the singles charts in 1971 by Janis Joplin. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing else to lose” runs around in our minds like kids on a merry-go-round. But what is freedom, and more importantly, how can you enjoy freedom with all you have going on in your life?

In “Think You're Operating on Free Will? Think Again,” (Time, July 2, 2010), Eben Harrell reports that research by Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts of Utrech University in the Netherlands indicates that more of some people’s behavior than you ever imagined (including your desire for and food and drink choices) may have been determined from outside your personal freedom.

In fact, commercials for soda and other things often include scenes of life-style advantages we all want and need to be healthy and happy—such as time with friends or pleasant experiences out in nature. If people watch these over and over again without being aware, it can make it more likely that some will “decide” that they want a Coke, despite research (2006) that suggests drinking diet, regular, and decaffeinated cola can actually lower bone density and put women at increased risk for osteoporosis.

There is good news, however. Some of the simple mindfulness practices that are healthy for you, such as focusing, meditation, or guided imagery, teach you to make more conscious choices. If you are looking for easy ways to be more aware, you might want to practice the following:

Pick a focus word or short phrase. Some people choose a single word such as “love” or “peace” or a phrase like “be the change you want to see.” Choose something that is firmly rooted in your belief system. Sit quietly in a comfortable position. You may choose to close your eyes, as you allow all of your muscles to begin to relax completely. Become aware of your breathing - comfortably inhale and exhale, and repeat your focus word silently to yourself. You can assume a passive attitude so when other thoughts come to mind, you are able to gently release them and return to the repetition.

Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return, and sit for another minute before rising. Research has shown that it is beneficial to do this technique once or twice daily, for 10 to 20 minutes (source: The Relaxation Response, by Herbert Benson, M.D.).

The main thing is that you decide health and well-being are important to you, and you learn ways to ensure every decision you make is a conscious choice. That way you will be able to celebrate your personal freedom every day of the year!

Medicine
Debra Basham
28 June 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Although many people think of “real” medicine as what is called modern or Western medicine, medicine actually comes in many different flavors, the most appropriate choice is simply the one that works. Western medicine is the new kid on the block. Folk medicine is found in virtually every culture, and was what was always available right where you are when you need something.

History of Medicine can be seen in this writing: (author unknown)

2000 B.C.: “Here, eat this root.”
1000 A.D.: “That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.”
1850 A.D.: “That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.”
1940 A.D.: “That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.”
1985 A.D.: “That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.”
2000 A.D.: “That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.”

Summer brings much more time out-of-doors, and with that can come bites and stings. Weeds, herbs, roots, and even common foods have been shown to be effective at taking some of the “sting” out of insect bites, so relief for you is as close as your kitchen.

Oatmeal baths for rashes, aloe vera for burns, sliced tomato on a mosquito bite, onion or garlic poultice (boiled and mashed) on a bee sting, Earl Grey tea compress on a sprain, vinegar on sun burn, baking soda as an antacid.... all are common (simple and available) ways you can experience relief.

After all, even before 1928 when Sir Alexander Fleming noticed bacteria could be destroyed by mold, our ancestors were very aware of the healing wonders in our natural environment. Whether you use herbs, homeopathic remedies, teas, or roots, the next time you have an injury, illness, or irritation, including those seasonal bites or stings, enjoy your healing naturally. And while you are at it, heal on all levels at the same time—physical, emotional and mental, and spiritual ... that is natural, too!

Change
Debra Basham
21 June 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

“At the root of all growth, we find change. Allow it to work for you not against.” --Daily OM 6/18/2010


This is an idea that has been around longer than any of us. Heraclitus (535 BC - 475 BC), the Greek philosopher, was teaching change as central to the universe. Yet as much as humans know it is true that change is the only constant, until you truly have a sense of peace about change in your life, change has the potential to create sufficient stress to cause illness. Enough so there is even a handy-dandy tool (with stress points for each major life change) to rate how much health risk the changes in a person’s life can generate. To see the Holmes and Rahe stress scale you can click on this link: Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, but take it with a grain of salt.

Peter Senge, American scientist and director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Virginia Satir identified a human tendency she called the lure of the familiar, and perhaps most of the resistance you have had to change came from that.

What is really exciting, now, is how your developing a healthy attitude toward changes changes things in a very positive way. This week, notice how you can welcome change as the gift it is to all of your life.

After all, if nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.

Reflexology
Debra Basham
14 June 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

A core component of Chinese medicine looks at how your energy (called Qi, Chi, or Vital Force) is said to flow through your meridians. You can think about it the same way your blood moves through your veins and arteries. These meridians are directly related to your organs. And 12 of the 14 major meridians are said to enter or exit your body through your toes or fingers. This understanding is applied in acupuncture, acupressure, and reflexology. In Acupressure’s Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments, Michael Reed Gach says, “foremost among the advantages of acupressure’s healing touch is that it is safe for you to do on yourself and others.”

Massage therapists recommend your doing daily reflexology to help counterbalance repetitive stress issues, as well as to relieve the emotional stuff that can get stuck in our hands and trigger points when our hands are too tight. Even while you are reading this tip, you can spread your fingers out and, one at a time, rotate each of your fingers and thumbs clockwise and counter-clockwise. Notice which are more flexible, and which improve with the rotation.

To see a drawing of the reflexology points on your hands, you can click on this link: Download: hand reflex chart (pdf). I actually carry a credit-card sized hand reflexology chart in my purse. You can do really good things for yourself whenever you need to.

If you would like to see a simple chart about what emotions are affected by which meridians, or you would like to see drawings of all the meridians, visit scs-matters.com/meridians.shtml.

You can think about this as giving yourself a hand!

Walking
Debra Basham
1 June 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Walking is not only a great way to get regular exercise, it can be a wonderful form of meditation—so when you are walking you are doing things that are good for your body, your mind, and your spirit.

Here is a link to a simple handout with advice for your starting a walking program: Walking Tips

Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist, author and educator, has written about meditation postures in The Four Fold Way: The Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary. While moving meditation is often identified as a walking meditation, she says that you can use other forms of movement as a meditation, too.

“This posture supports the aspects of trust, openness, and encourages the unexpected since one’s attention is engaged in a moving activity,” says Angeles. “Perhaps moving meditations teach human beings about the wonder of what can happen when one trusts and lets go of control.”

Visit 4 Different Meditation Postures and Universal Meditation Techniques to read more about the four different meditation postures, and notice how you walk every day. Adding awareness to what you do changes everything now.

Congruency
Debra Basham
24 May 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” --John F. Kennedy

JFK was saying that the best way to lead effectively is by example—live your highest values. The best way to be led is by someone who is congruent, doing the best job possible of living his or her highest values in every thought, word, and action.

In a recent lecture, Dr. Jeanne Huston, a scholar, philosopher and researcher in human capacities—she is considered to be one of the foremost visionary thinkers and doers of our time—says it this way: There are great people inside yourself. You have within you all the great archetypes—you have inside you the healer, the meditator, the poet, the artist, the scholar.

Now you can use that awareness to do really great things in your world today. If you are a good cook, be aware and assume the “cook“ persona when you do something that you would have found challenging without that awareness, simply adding this ingredient, adjusting the recipe to your liking, bringing to what you are doing your flair, and all the while you are doing what you are doing you are feeling how delicious it is.

Use these three questions to bring more congruency to your life:

  • What do I need or want?
  • What does the situation need or want from me?
  • What will bring the most benefit in the best way?

In the June 2010 edition of “Whole Living” is a quotation worth your remembering: “There is invisible writing on the back of [your] diploma.... It says, You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring.” That was written by environmentalist Paul Hawken to the University of Portland’s 2009 graduating class, but sometimes I read something and you know it is true about you, too.

Mindfulness
Debra Basham
17 May 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Listening to a lecture by leading neurobiologist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being (W.W. Norton. 2007), will offer you evidence that your developing mindfulness is worth the effort, beyond a doubt, because with practice states become traits.

He looks at the latest research and says “the simplest definition of the mind goes like this: That the mind is a process that regulates the flow of energy and information.“

Whew.... Some of you might be interested in watching the entire lecture on YouTube at http://bit.ly/YnWBW but fortunately for all of us, he sums things up simply as your ability to learn to see and influence your internal world.

Siegel shares the secret of developing mindfulness: for at least ten minutes a day just be aware of your breath; pay attention to your intention; build the muscle of the mind. Here are four questions to test the muscle of your mind so you will be able to tell if you want to practice Siegel’s three steps of mindfulness.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? Stop and think about it and decide on your answer before you scroll down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The correct answer is: “Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door.“ This question tests whether you have tended to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you say, “Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?“ Sorry, wrong answer. The correct answer is, “Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant, and close the door.“ This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend, except one. Which animal does not attend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correct answer: “The Elephant.“ The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory. Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correct answer? “You jump into the river and swim across.“ Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all four questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Have a laugh at yourself, and then make the commitment to be aware of your breath; pay attention to your intention; and build the muscle of your mind!

Picnic
Debra Basham
10 May 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Your making simple changes can produce significant benefits in your life. Standing up at a kitchen counter eating out of a plastic container results in consuming 50% more calories at the next meal than when you eat your food at a table and off a plate, according to an article on nutrition news and trends in the June 2010 "Prevention" magazine.

Recently I read this quotation: “Dining outdoors is a tradition that spans many cultures and has withstood the test of time. A meal eaten under open sky in the company of loved ones is an occasion in its own right.“

This week as you enjoy your meals explore these ideas:

  • Take a moment to smell your food before you bite into it

  • Drink your water or tea out of a glass or mug that you like the looks of

  • When you have a choice about what you eat, ask yourself what you are really hungry for

  • Notice the “energy“ of a food or drink before you eat or drink it consciously

  • Pay attention to the sounds (including your inner dialogue) you can become aware of while you are eating

  • Light a candle, dim the lights, open the blinds—explore which lighting has the most beneficial effect on your appetite and mood

  • Plan a picnic atmosphere for at least one meal per week, at home, at work, or in your vehicle, with a friend if possible

  • Journal or reflect on your observations with at least one other person

A woman who lived alone would purchase very nice single place settings at garage sales or Goodwill or closeouts. Each day she would lay out a very lovely table just for her. I don’t know why she did that, but current research shows that meals consumed on nice dishes are actually more filling and more nutritious than those same foods served on disposables.

In the same way that “man does not live by bread alone,“ now, you don’t have to take heroic measures to get the simple bliss of a picnic, and your developing conscious eating habits can extend health and well-being way beyond just the meals you enjoy eating out-of-doors.

Weather
Debra Basham
3 May 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

"The best time to dig a well is not after you are already thirsty" is a quote that really speaks to the importance of a regular relaxation practice. As I watched the news of severe flooding in middle Tennessee, where my daughter and her family live, and my co-author Joel is visiting his son and family, and where I have many friends, I felt just like I used to when I worked as a birthing coach—you know who is having the baby (and it is not you), and you know you need to breathe, and you are able find a core of peace to support the person who is going through the process currently.

People often ask me how you discover the best relaxation/meditation tools for you. I remind them that it is personal. I tell them to think about what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, and what you feel—including your sense of touch and your emotions. Think about the things you do on a regular basis, such as brushing your teeth, getting into or out of your vehicle, opening or closing a door, or answering the telephone. In addition to your regular practice of meditation or relaxation, intentionally use those outer experiences to invite your coming to that inner core of peace, just for a few seconds. In the same way that you know your phone number without having to consciously think about it, your body will remember to relax naturally.

For more specific hints about your developing a meditation practice, see the one-page handout I developed. Of course, meditation is not just good for your mental and emotional state. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, to turn on cancer-prevention genes, and to make you look younger. Ah ... now those are all things you are willing to have in your life, aren't they....

Laughter
Debra Basham
25 April 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Research shows that laughter has amazing benefits. In fact, the relaxation response after a really good laugh has been shown to last up to 45 minutes!

While some people try all sorts of exotic things to get good health, laughter is something readily available, consistently pleasant, and totally free.

In Gesunheit!: Bringing Good Health to You, the Medical System, and Society Through Physician Service, Complementary Therapies, Humor and Joy, Patch Adams, M.D., and co-author Maureen Mylander write: "Humor is an excellent antidote to stress and an effective social lubricant. Since loving human relationships are so mentally healthy, it behooves one to develop a humorous side." Patch says that wearing a rubber nose everywhere he goes has changed his life. He suggests that wearing underwear on the outside of your clothing can transform a tedious trip to the store into an amusement park romp.

While that may be a bit over-the-top for some people, become really good at finding things in your life worth laughing at. After all, a Readers Digest article titled "Laugh Yourself Skinny," reports that experts at Vanderbuilt University found that "getting the giggles does burn some calories, and the more you laugh, the more you burn."

Enjoy!

Assumptions
Debra Basham
19 April 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

As a woman was waiting for her flight at the airport, she bought a book and a bag of cookies to pass the time. As she was engrossed in her book, she noticed a man take a cookie from her bag of cookies that was sitting on the table in between them. This, of course, made her furious.

As she took a cookie, he too took a cookie. This went on until only one cookie was left. Now, she wondered, what would this cookie thief do? With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half. He offered her one half and ate the other. She snatched the cookie from this rude man and fumed about his audacity.

When her flight was called, she indignantly got up and boarded her plane. She didn't even look back at this thieving ingrate. As she sank down on her seat, she reached into her bag to pull out her book. Gasping with surprise, she pulled out her bag of cookies.

While we may not be able to always avoid making assumptions, we can become so much more gentle in our relating by remembering this story. At the moment this woman realized what had happened, she was at an emotional crossroad, one we face with every thought throughout the day—walking the road of life with either guilt or grace as your companion. It is easy to see that grace gifts everyone.

You cannot "unhappen history," but you certainly can create a brighter future.

Sleep
Debra Basham
12 April 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

Medicine is beginning to recognize how your being emotionally healthy is key to your physical well-being. If you want to read a bit more, this link is from Mayo Clinic: Quality Health

William Shakespeare's Macbeth says that "sleep ... knits up the raveled sleeve of care" and modern medicine would totally agree. Whether it is about REM (the stage of sleep that is associated with dreaming), or the way brain chemistry is affected by moods, or the way moods are affected by brain chemistry.

Perhaps you are just now becoming aware of how your developing healthy sleep habits affects others in your life. In Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman says we are "wired to connect," and comments on "the surprising ease with which our brains interlock, spreading our emotions like a virus."

This Mayo Clinic article provides some helpful tips: Sleep for Health

Everlasting Peace is a wonderful CD for restful sleep. Turn it on, and you can slip easily into restful, restorative sleep. Ah ... and you can wake up really refreshed! Spread everlasting peace. A gift to you and to everyone you work and live with.

Middleman
Debra Basham
5 April 2010
debra@scs-matters.com

"The bottom line, whether you weight 340 pounds or 150 pounds, is that when you eat when you are not hungry, you are using food as a drug, grappling with boredom or illness or loss or grief or emptiness or loneliness or rejection. Food is only the middleman," an excerpt from the book Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, by Geneen Roth.

Trying to address unconscious eating habits, without looking at the deeper dynamics, is a lot like mopping up the floor without turning off the water. We are learning by unlearning now and we can be more aware of what we are teaching. If, after having a meal, a child says he or she is still hungry, rather than saying, "You can't still be hungry!" we can teach self-awareness by being more conscious. A possible response might be, "Hmmmm ... we know you just had a good lunch. Sometimes people confuse feelings and eat when they are needing something else. Since you are feeling as though you are still hungry, I wonder what you are really hungry for."

We can actually re-educate ourselves while we are teaching others to be more self-aware, too!

Of course, it is great to discover that your eating less and your being more active is often the natural outgrowth of something as simple yet powerful as your being more emotionally self-aware, and as you are doing that if you ever wondered about how many calories specific activities burn, here is a link to a pretty good chart: Calories Burned During Exercise

Enjoy!