“Most of us prioritize externally oriented attention. When we think of attention, we often think of focusing on something outside of ourselves. We “pay attention” to work, the TV, our partner, traffic, or anything that engages our senses. However, a whole other world exists that most of us are far less aware of: an internal world, with its varied landscape of emotions, feelings, and sensations. It is often the internal world that determines whether we are having a good day or not, whether we are happy or unhappy. That’s why we can feel angry despite beautiful surroundings or feel perfectly happy despite being stuck in traffic.
University of Toronto study compared exteroceptive (externally focused) attention to interoceptive (internally focused) attention in the brain. Contrary to the conventional assumption that all attention relies upon the frontal lobe of the brain, the researchers found that this was true of only exteroceptive attention; interoceptive attention used evolutionarily older parts of the brain more associated with sensation and integration of physical experience; brain regions that link the cortex to the limbic system. These limbic connections may support more direct access to emotions and physical sensations while the neocortex is more responsible for a conceptual sense of self. By recruiting “limbic-bridge” areas, a person using interoceptive attention may bypass the pre-frontal neocortex, directly tapping into bodily awareness that is free from social judgment or conceptual self-evaluation.
For some, turning attention inward can be distressing, because it may tune us into emotions that are not comfortable. However, constantly distracting ourselves through attention turned outwards will not remove those underlying emotions. Yoga, breathing and meditation practices are designed to increase our interoceptive awareness. By learning to engage with our emotions through our dedicated interoceptive awareness, we may experience the first signs of healing. Research conducted with veterans suffering from trauma is also showing this to be true. Though the veterans are at first wary of being present with the emotions, feelings and memories that can arise during their first yoga, yogic breathing, and meditation practice, they report that over time those distressing inner experiences start to actually wane and heal. Best of all, they feel empowered. No longer reliant on drugs or a therapist, they have learned to use their own breath to regain control of their lives.”
and see what Deepak Chopra has to say on the subject here – where I found the cool images on this post, thanks Deepak ; )
Alcoholics are people who fall asleep in skips. Alcoholics get into fights. Alcoholics start the day with a shot of whisky. Alcoholics are drunk all the time. Alcoholics can’t hold down jobs.
People have such vivid mental images of what it means to be an alcoholic that they measure themselves against that standard and do not seek help.
“They all have an idea of what an alcohol or problem drinker is but there is a different pattern for every drinker,” Jarvis says.
Not all experts share this view, however.
There’s a danger that avoiding the term “alcoholism” will only serve “to reassure people their drinking is OK when it isn’t”, says Moira Plant, emeritus professor of alcohol studies at the University of the West of England.
The six tenets of Yoga of Recovery are:
- Life is Longing;
- Life is Prana;
- Life is Relationship;
- Life is Sweet;
- Life is Love; and
- Life is Progress.
Life is Prana, our second focus point in Yoga of Recovery – prana gives a feeling a vitality, lack of prana is described as depression, lethargy, lack of enthusiasm. We teach hatha yoga, breathing exercises, nutrition, sense therapies and EFT to help manage our prana.
We ingest prana, at the gross level, through food, heat, liquids and air (breath) and, on a subtle level, through sensory impressions (predominantly the senses related to air and ether: sound and touch). We need prana, and when our food, water and air are polluted, processed and devitalized, when we are removed from nature and bombarded with sensory stimuli, our prana is disturbed. When we are under stress we shift into the fight or flight response and our breathing becomes fast and shallow. This further disturbs the flow of prana and our body’s reserves of this life-force, which can lead to fatigue and exacerbate muscle tension in addition to creating a feeling of emptiness that somehow needs to be filled. We experience Pranic challenges:
1. If we are energy/prana-deficient we seek stimulation.
2. If we are hyperactive and constantly on the go, we seek sedation.
3. If the flow of prana is blocked and we are in pain, we self-medicate.
4. If we are under stress, we often seek instant gratification through our senses.
These coping mechanisms: stimulation, sedation, medication and instant gratification, are fully supported and even encouraged in our modern world of overdrive and hyper sensory stimulation. The short-term pain relief created, however, is outweighed by the long-term progression of disturbed prana that can lead to depression, mental stagnation, denial and addiction.
Writer, Andrew Solomon talks about depression in this TED talk – we know depression through metaphors – language and paintings. Andrew takes you to the darkest corners of his mind during the years he battled depression. That led him to an eye-opening journey across the world to interview others with depression — only to discover that, to his surprise, the more he talked, the more people wanted to tell their own stories. He says “Depression is the flaw in love…”
“I became much more tolerant of the vast world of alternative treatments”
I read about this study and recognize how it is coming closer to the understanding of the interconnectedness of our senses, brain, behavior and cognitive abilities – connections that are a basic part of Ayurvedic understanding of who we are and our imbalances… Doshas:Vata-air types who are prone to anxiety are balanced by sweet, sour and salty taste, Pitta – fire types who are prone to anger/irritability are balanced by sweet, astringent and bitter taste, and Kapha – water types who are prone to becoming overweight and depressed are balanced by bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. This would be part of a full therapy plan involving all 5 senses, behavior and cognitive modifications and physical exercise and relaxation. Here is what the scientists are wrestling with – well done to them for recognizing connections!
Evidence of the neuropharmacological plasticity of the human taste system – since the serotonergic and the noradrenergic systems are involved in clinical anxiety and depression and are the main targets of antidepressants, changes in these systems may explain taste alterations in these patients
Anxiety can also distort your perception of taste (which, to be clear, you do with your tongue) and smell (which dominates flavour discernment). Read more here …
Social prescriptions, from fishing to knitting groups, are helping patients back on to the road to recovery.
New UK research released on Tuesday by the innovation charity Nesta and the Innovation Unit suggests GPs across the country are increasingly keen on the “more than medicine” approach of social prescribing, which typically includes activities from dance classes to knitting groups and cookery clubs. Among 1,000 doctors surveyed, four out of five thought social prescriptions should be available from their surgeries, in particular exercise groups, help with healthy eating and groups providing emotional support. Yet patient experience suggests the opportunities to benefit are limited. Nesta questioned 2,000 members of the public, with just 9% saying they had received a social prescription. More than half (55%) said they would like their GP to offer them.
Thank you to Hari for letting me know that the Mind & Life Institute is offering a live webcast of their 27th Dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Mind and Life XXVII: Craving, Desire and Addiction will be streamed live on DalaiLama.com, Oct 28 – Nov 1, 2014.
Craving, desire, and addiction are among the most pressing causes of human suffering. By bringing contemplative practitioners and scholars from Buddhist and Christian traditions together with a broad array of scientific researchers in the fields of desire and addiction, hopefully new understandings will arise that may ultimately lead to improved treatment of the root causes of craving and its many manifestations.
For times in your region, 9:00am IST on October 28th in Dharamsala, India = 8:30pm PDT on October 27th in Los Angeles, CA, USA: and 4:30pm BST on October 28th in London, England.
I linked to this article through the Tadasana newsletter. It is an excerpt from the book Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.
Here is a quick excerpt from the article … “In 2007, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined 11,000 men who did or didn’t take multivitamins. Those who took multivitamins were twice as likely to die from advanced prostate cancer.
In 2008, a review of all existing studies involving more than 230,000 people who did or did not receive supplemental antioxidants found that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease.
On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota evaluated 39,000 older women and found that those who took supplemental multivitamins, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron died at rates higher than those who didn’t. They concluded, “Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.”
Two days later, on October 12, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic published the results of a study of 36,000 men who took vitamin E, selenium, both, or neither. They found that those receiving vitamin E had a 17 percent greater risk of prostate cancer. In response to the study, Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said, “The concept of multivitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.” On October 25, a headline in the Wall Street Journal asked, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” Studies haven’t hurt sales. In 2010, the vitamin industry grossed $28 billion, up 4.4 percent from the year before. “The thing to do with [these reports] is just ride them out,” said Joseph Fortunato, chief executive of General Nutrition Centers.“We see no impact on our business.”