Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Health Benefits of Massage

Some of the health benefits of massage include relief from anxiety, diabetes, cancer, heart problems, pain, and nervous problems. Furthermore, it improves the health of the skin, blood circulation, and the functioning of the urinary and digestive systems. It also helps improve infant growth, sleep, and immunity. In a nutshell, regular massage sessions are helpful in ensuring physical and mental wellness for people all around the world.

The health benefits of massage have been known to mankind for ages and in the modern world, commercial massage centers have enhanced the significance and reputation of massage therapy. Apart from offering good physical health, massage sessions are also admired for achieving sound mental health.

The special aspect of massage therapy is that it is capable of nurturing individuals from age groups starting from infants and children to adults and the elderly. Thus, one should count upon various health benefits offered by massage therapy to lead a wonderful life. The National Institute of Health has declared the benefits of massage in cases of children and infants.

Health Benefits of Massage

Massage offers a number of benefits that can completely transform your lifestyle and result in a positive modification to the way you spend your routine. Here are the most prominent health benefits of massage:

Anxiety: Needless to say, anxiety and other mental distresses are unfortunate companions of almost everyone at some point in their life. In order to eliminate these mental abnormalities, massage sessions can play an important role. Children as well as adults can achieve a stress-free mind by getting massaged regularly.

Infant Growth: Massage sessions for infants are recommended by doctors across the globe. Massage aids the weight-gaining process in infants, especially in premature babies. It helps in making the muscle tissues stronger than before.

Diabetes: Massage helps in controlling the level of sugar in the blood, especially in the case of children. This is the reason for recommendations of massage as a curative as well as preventative practice among children suffering from diabetes.

Immunity: Our body, with its strong immune system, is competent enough to tackle various types of infections and foreign body attacks. There is no better practice than massage to endow your body with a strong immune system. It helps in building protective cells in the body to neutralize attackers like cancer and viral infections.

Cancer: It has been proven that extensive massage sessions are able to reduce the various problems caused by cancer cells. For instance, massage can reduce the pain and anxiety associated with cancer. Thus, massage therapy is considered as an excellent solution for those patients suffering from cancer.

Proper Sleep: Massage brings your body under a spell and lets it fall into deep relaxation. This leads to sound and proper sleep for the patients suffering from sleeping disorders. A massage session after a long hectic day is sufficient to eliminate the exhaustion in your body and guarantee a good night’s sleep to replenish your energy.

Heart Problems: Massage is capable of returning your heart to its normal functional levels so that there are no threats to your life due to a malfunctioning cardiovascular system.

Pain: The application of massage is recommended by physicians and surgeons to their patients suffering from pain, especially after surgery. Apart from that, migraine pain and lower back pain are also commonly treated by massage.

Nervous System: Massage takes away the tension that is dissolved in the human body’s nerves. Thus, our nervous system is recharged by massaging and put back to its normal functionality.

Skin: Consistent use of massage therapy can result in an impressive glow on your skin. This simple-to-follow practice is considered one of the most efficient approaches to take proper care of your skin and save it from early signs of aging as well.

Blood Circulation: If a person is able to participate in massage, he or she can end up with improved blood circulation inside the body. The massaging sessions help the blood to carry the necessary amounts of oxygenated blood throughout the body at an improved speed. Also, the healing power and speed of our bodies are increased after massage.

From OrganicFacts.net

Friday, January 30, 2015

NADA YOGA - The Yoga of Sound by David Gordon

What is Toning?

Toning is the creation of extended vocal sounds on a single vowel in order to experience the sound and its effects in other parts of the body.

No melody, no words, no rhythm, and no harmony - just the sound of the vibrating breath. Its a simple yet powerful technique, accessible to everyone regardless of vocal ability or training. Through toning you can immediately experience the effects of sound on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

By literally massaging body and mind from the inside out, meditative toning can help you focus and relax; release negative emotions; reduce stress; and improve stamina and concentration.

Toning synchronizes the brainwaves and helps relieve tension within a few minutes. Toning is also a wonderful technique for developing your voice-ear connection and enhancing your power of listening to everything around you.

Most of all, toning restores balance and harmony to the mind and body. It can help you awaken and deepen your sense of self, and align you to the deepest vibrations of soul and spirit. On the path of toning, you move toward the source of your own inner balance, creativity, well-being, and freedom.

Since the early 1980s, thousands of people have discovered toning, and found it useful for their own health and mental clarity. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, body workers, teachers, and business professionals have affirmed the benefits of toning in their lives and work.

 Vowels and the Energy Centers
The power of toning lies in the vowels (like "ah-eh-ee-oh-uu").

Vowels are much more important in toning than the "pitch" (high or low). Most people experience each vowel as unique in energy, emotion, and effect. .

Modern medical and physiological sciences study and monitor the measureable "electro-magnetic" energy in the body - such as the electrical impulses in muscle nerves, and neural synapses in the brain. And for centuries traditional healing techniques such as acupuncture have followed and utilized the energetic map of the human body.

It seems the body has certain "hot spots" of energy. The medical and sacred teachings of both East and West describe them, and often correlate them with specific thought patterns and archetypal effects. (Some ancient spiritual and medical sources depict these energy centers as Chakras.)

Whether we interpret them metaphorically or literally, exploring the body's energy centers through sound is a fascinating journey. As we learn to percieve the relationship of objective vowels and subjective energy, as we learn to "listen" to ourselves on every possible level, we enrich our understanding of the broad spectrum of energies and emotions within us. The "simple" act of toning heightens our awareness of our own inner energies and vibrations. Through that awareness we feel more alive, and more connected with everything around us. 

Vowels and Energy
There are many vowel sounds in the human language.
For toning we begin by focussing on several principal sounds. Remember, this is not a list of universal truths, just some traditional suggestions for you to begin with.

Vowel Possible Attributes or Related Perceptions
grounding, calming, relaxing, awareness of
physicality, gives sensation of depth, base of spine
conscious self-image, identity issues,
solar plexus self-confidence, individuality
centering, expanding, pleasant heartfelt emotions,
gives sensation of breadth, heart area
self-expression, communication, listening throat and neck
energizing, awakening, mental and physical stamina,
gives sensation of length, head
lips closed)
balancing, harmonizing and integrating,
the subtlest and most powerful sound
Examples of vowel combinations for balancing and centering
(to be vocalized as one continuous full-breath tone exhalation):

"UU-AH-EE-MM" Balance and energize. Morning wakeup.
"MM-EE-AH-UU" Balance and relax. Before bedtime.

Enhance your toning with different postures and movement
Whole body involvement deepens and enriches the toning experience.
Explore different positions and movements while toning, such as:

    •   sit on the floor or in a chair, with your spine expanded vertically
    •   stand, either motionless or using intuitive movements of any kind
          (expansive arm motions are particularly balancing)
    •   lie quietly on your back with your hands at your sides
    •   experiment with eyes closed or open, focussed or gazing softly
    •   tone while walking, working, driving, doing everyday tasks
    •   make intuitive, expressive tones while doing yoga or tai chi
    •   express the tone in movement and express the movement in tone 
Let your inner Self respond, free from outer expectations

While toning, pay attention to everything the vibrations may be awakening in you.
What is the effect of the tone? Is it soothing? Agitating? Balancing? Focus on the here and now. Open your awareness, and let your intuition guide you to insight.

It is very natural to experience physical sensations or emotions while toning, and it may not always be pleasant. At times you may feel boredom, anger, or any other emotion, positive or negative. Similar experiences are also well known in meditation, yoga, or any contemplative activity! Know that these feelings are natural, and that they will pass. Don't analyze the feelings or judge yourself for having them. Persevere with open heart and mind, and you will begin to see results, sometimes subtle and sometimes surprising and amazing!

Honor your uniqueness

You are a very complex and unique bio-chemical, electro-magnetic, and spiritual being.
No two people experience toning in exactly the same way. Honor and trust your own experience. Experiment, and seek tones which work for you. Allow your voice and tone to bring you into the present moment, and toward self-awareness!

It is very natural and appropriate to experience energy, physical sensations, or emotional releases while toning, and it is not always pleasant. At times you may feel boredom, anger, fear, or any other emotion, positive or negative. Similar experiences are also well known in meditation, yoga, or any contemplative activity! Know that these feelings are natural, and that they will pass. Do not judge yourself.

During and after toning, be open to everything the vibrations may be awakening in you. Simply trust that whatever toning produces it will ultimately transform and heal your body and mind in the most appropriate way. Don't seek a specific outcome or explanation while you tone, just focus on the here and now. Open your awareness, and let your intuition guide you to insight. Persevere, and you will begin to see results, sometimes subtle and sometimes surprising and amazing!

One final word:

Learning any art takes time, patience, and regular practice.
  It's more beneficial to tone daily, even for a few minutes, than to tone only infrequently for longer periods. With regular daily practice your body and mind will quickly learn to respond to the tone and vibrations. It doesn't need to be "pretty." If it's real, it's beautiful.

Toning is not "singing" and there's no aesthetic judgement involved. The sound you make does not have to be pretty; the point of toning is not the quality of the sound but your experience of the vibration and its results. Listen with your whole being, and be open to the total effect of the sound. Link your voice, breath, and awareness together to enhance your appreciation of your own true power in life.

Remember, there's no "right" way or "wrong" way to tone, only your way! Your natural wisdom and intuition will guide you. Your sound is unique, and the experience is uniquely yours!

"You are safe and protected in the sound of your own voice."

(from spiritsound.com)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Researchers Finally Show How Mindfulness and Your Thoughts Can Induce Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes... by Michael Forrester

With evidence growing that training the mind or inducing specific modes of consciousness can have beneficial health effects, scientists have sought to understand how these practices physically affect the body. A new study by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France reports the first evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice.

The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.

The study was published in the Journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The new results provide a possible biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.

Gene Activity Can Change According To Perception

According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, gene activity can change on a daily basis. If the perception in your mind is reflected in the chemistry of your body, and if your nervous system reads and interprets the environment and then controls the blood’s chemistry, then you can literally change the fate of your cells by altering your thoughts.

In fact, Dr. Lipton’s research illustrates that by changing your perception, your mind can alter the activity of your genes and create over thirty thousand variations of products from each gene. He gives more detail by saying that the gene programs are contained within the nucleus of the cell, and you can rewrite those genetic programs through changing your blood chemistry.

In the simplest terms, this means that we need to change the way we think if we are to heal cancer. “The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience,” Dr. Lipton said. “What that means is that your mind will adjust the body’s biology and behavior to fit with your beliefs. If you’ve been told you’ll die in six months and your mind believes it, you most likely will die in six months. That’s called the nocebo effect, the result of a negative thought, which is the opposite of the placebo effect, where healing is mediated by a positive thought.”

That dynamic points to a three-party system: there’s the part of you that swears it doesn’t want to die (the conscious mind), trumped by the part that believes you will (the doctor’s prognosis mediated by the subconscious mind), which then throws into gear the chemical reaction (mediated by the brain’s chemistry) to make sure the body conforms to the dominant belief. (Neuroscience has recognized that the subconscious controls 95 percent of our lives.)

Now what about the part that doesn’t want to die–the conscious mind? Isn’t it impacting the body’s chemistry as well? Dr. Lipton said that it comes down to how the subconscious mind, which contains our deepest beliefs, has been programmed. It is these beliefs that ultimately cast the deciding vote.
“It’s a complex situation,” said Dr. Lipton. People have been programmed to believe that they’re victims and that they have no control. We’re programmed from the start with our mother and father’s beliefs. So, for instance, when we got sick, we were told by our parents that we had to go to the doctor because the doctor is the authority concerning our health. We all got the message throughout childhood that doctors were the authority on health and that we were victims of bodily forces beyond our ability to control. The joke, however, is that people often get better while on the way to the doctor. That’s when the innate ability for self-healing kicks in, another example of the placebo effect.
Mindfulness Practice Specifically Affects Regulatory Pathways

The results of Davidson’s study show a down-regulation of genes that have been implicated in inflammation. The affected genes include the pro-inflammatory genes RIPK2 and COX2 as well as several histone deacetylase (HDAC) genes, which regulate the activity of other genes epigenetically by removing a type of chemical tag. What’s more, the extent to which some of those genes were downregulated was associated with faster cortisol recovery to a social stress test involving an impromptu speech and tasks requiring mental calculations performed in front of an audience and video camera.

Biologists have suspected for years that some kind of epigenetic inheritance occurs at the cellular level. The different kinds of cells in our bodies provide an example. Skin cells and brain cells have different forms and functions, despite having exactly the same DNA. There must be mechanisms–other than DNA–that make sure skin cells stay skin cells when they divide.
Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups, suggesting that the mindfulness practice specifically affected certain regulatory pathways.

The key result is that meditators experienced genetic changes following mindfulness practice that were not seen in the non-meditating group after other quiet activities — an outcome providing proof of principle that mindfulness practice can lead to epigenetic alterations of the genome.
Previous studies in rodents and in people have shown dynamic epigenetic responses to physical stimuli such as stress, diet, or exercise within just a few hours.

“Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression,” Davidson says.

“The regulation of HDACs and inflammatory pathways may represent some of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic potential of mindfulness-based interventions,” Kaliman says. “Our findings set the foundation for future studies to further assess meditation strategies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions.”

Subconscious Beliefs Are Key

Too many positive thinkers know that thinking good thoughts–and reciting affirmations for hours on end–doesn’t always bring about the results that feel-good books promise.

Dr. Lipton didn’t argue this point, because positive thoughts come from the conscious mind, while contradictory negative thoughts are usually programmed in the more powerful subconscious mind.
“The major problem is that people are aware of their conscious beliefs and behaviors, but not of subconscious beliefs and behaviors. Most people don’t even acknowledge that their subconscious mind is at play, when the fact is that the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind and that we operate 95 to 99 percent of our lives from subconscious programs.
“Your subconscious beliefs are working either for you or against you, but the truth is that you are not controlling your life, because your subconscious mind supersedes all conscious control. So when you are trying to heal from a conscious level–citing affirmations and telling yourself you’re healthy–there may be an invisible subconscious program that’s sabotaging you.”

The power of the subconscious mind is elegantly revealed in people expressing multiple personalities. While occupying the mind-set of one personality, the individual may be severely allergic to strawberries. Then, in experiencing the mind-set of another personality, he or she eats them without consequence.

The new science of epigenetics promises that every person on the planet has the opportunity to become who they really are, complete with unimaginable power and the ability to operate from, and go for, the highest possibilities, including healing our bodies and our culture and living in peace.

Michael Forrester is a spiritual counselor and is a practicing motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States. (from odysseymagazine.co.za)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors... by Richard Gray

Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop.

Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.

However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.

Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.

The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.

So a fear of spiders may in fact be an inherited defence mechanism laid down in a families genes by an ancestors' frightening encounter with an arachnid.

Dr Brian Dias, from the department of psychiatry at Emory University, said: "We have begun to explore an under-appreciated influence on adult behavior – ancestral experience before conception.

"From a translational perspective, our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations.

"Such a phenomenon may contribute to the etiology and potential inter-generational transmission of risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder."

In the study, which is published in the journal of Nature Neuroscience, the researchers trained mice to fear the smell of cherry blossom using electric shocks before allowing them to breed.

The offspring produced showed fearful responses to the odour of cherry blossom compared to a neutral odour, despite never having encountered them before.

The following generation also showed the same behaviour. This effect continued even if the mice had been fathered through artificial insemination.

The researchers found the brains of the trained mice and their offspring showed structural changes in areas used to detect the odour.

The DNA of the animals also carried chemical changes, known as epigenetic methylation, on the gene responsible for detecting the odour.

This suggests that experiences are somehow transferred from the brain into the genome, allowing them to be passed on to later generations.

The researchers now hope to carry out further work to understand how the information comes to be stored on the DNA in the first place.

They also want to explore whether similar effects can be seen in the genes of humans.
Professor Marcus Pembrey, a paediatric geneticist at University College London, said the work provided "compelling evidence" for the biological transmission of memory.

He added: "It addresses constitutional fearfulness that is highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, plus the controversial subject of transmission of the ‘memory’ of ancestral experience down the generations.

"It is high time public health researchers took human trans-generational responses seriously.
I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach.”

Professor Wolf Reik, head of epigenetics at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, said, however, further work was needed before such results could be applied to humans.

He said: "These types of results are encouraging as they suggest that transgenerational inheritance exists and is mediated by epigenetics, but more careful mechanistic study of animal models is needed before extrapolating such findings to humans.”

It comes as another study in mice has shown that their ability to remember can be effected by the presence of immune system factors in their mother's milk

Dr Miklos Toth, from Weill Cornell Medical College, found that chemokines carried in a mother's milk caused changes in the brains of their offspring, affecting their memory in later life.
  (from http://www.telegraph.co.uk)