Stay Positive

"In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." - Alert Camus

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Space Chimp Lived

Ham the Chimp, also known as Ham the Astrochimp, was the first Hominidae to take a space flight. He was named after the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center in New Mexico. He was launched from Cape Canaveral on January 31, 1961 and returned to Earth unharmed except for a bruised nose.

Space chimp lived


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Mindful Practice Podcast

A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
Loving-Kindness With Sharon Salzberg
Walking Meditation
Body Scan Meditation
Stay tuned for podcast no. 5 of 5 on Tuesday.

The Mindful Practice Podcast

Mindful is a mission-driven nonprofit. We are dedicated to inspiring, guiding, and connecting all those who want to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness practice, and to create healthier relationships and a more caring society.
Mindful magazine,, MindfulDirect video, and our conferences and collaborations are all projects of the Foundation for a Mindful Society, a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization. Donations are tax deductible where allowable by law.
James Gimian

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Time Management Ideas

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg reveals the two quotes that influence how she spends her time

"Done is Better than Perfect"

"Move Fast and Break Things."

'Ruthless Prioritization'

The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty.

 "Those posters influence how I plan my day — I spend my time on what matters most, and I still get my hands dirty every day." Sandberg writes...


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of awesome
Neil Pasricha's blog 1000 Awesome Things savors life's simple
pleasures, from free refills to clean sheets. In this heartfelt talk
from TEDxToronto, he reveals the 3 secrets (all starting with A) to
leading a life that's truly awesome.

is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the
TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the
talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al
Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on
observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child,
Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes,
Pattie Maes on the "Sixth Sense" wearable tech, and "Lost" producer JJ
Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology,
Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as
science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and
translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

Pregnancy Hormone Helps Multiple Sclerosis Patients Avoid Relapse

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system where immune cells from the blood attack the tissue surrounding the brain’s nerve fibers. Called myelin, this tissue is like the insulation wrapped around an electrical wire. When the myelin is damaged, it interferes with the ability of the nerves to send signals to and from the brain, resulting in symptoms including cognitive problems, difficulty with walking, poor vision and other disabilities. Image is for illustrative purposes only.

Neuroscience News @NeuroscienceNew Nov 30
Pregnancy Hormone Helps Multiple Sclerosis Patients Avoid Relapse


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mindfulness meditation can bring greater pain relief than a placebo

[man meditating]

 Mindfulness meditation appears to affect the brain in ways that reduce pain.


Mindfulness meditation reduces pain, study finds


MNT featured Academic journal

Mindfulness meditation can bring greater pain relief than a placebo, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The findings, by scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, are the first to show that patterns of brain activity produced by mindfulness meditation differ from those produced by a placebo cream.

Contemplatives have long reported the benefits of mindfulness meditation on pain, and brain imaging technology has revealed more about the mechanisms involved. Whether the benefits stem from religious practices or mindfulness itself has remained unclear.

Meditation-related pain reduction is now a rapidly emerging field, but more specific experimental evidence has been needed to advance it.

Lead author Fadel Zaidan, PhD, and colleagues have previously noted the effect of expectation, distraction, attention, beliefs, placebo, hypnosis, stress, anxiety, mood and emotional state on pain. Enhanced cognitive and emotional control have been shown to help decrease pain; mindfulness could play a role.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been defined as:
  • Regulated, sustained attention to the moment-to-moment quality and character of sensory, emotional and cognitive events
  • Recognition of such events as momentary, fleeting and changeable
  • A consequent lack of emotional or cognitive appraisal and/or reactions to these events.
Humans automatically tend to perceive momentary experience as lasting; by reframing this perception, mindfulness can help reduce discomfort.

Different meditative practices can be termed "mindfulness," but two broad categories encompass them: focused attention (FA) and open monitoring (OM).

FA is associated with maintaining focus on a specific object, say, flow of the breath or an external object. OM involves a non-directed acknowledgment of any sensory, emotional or cognitive event that arises in the mind, as in Zen meditation.

Mindfulness and health

Mindfulness meditation has been found to improve a range of cognitive and health outcomes, including anxiety, depression and stress. It is associated with enhanced cognitive control, emotion regulation, positive mood and acceptance, each of which has been linked with pain modulation.

The current study takes a step toward isolating the 'active ingredients' of meditation, using pain ratings and brain imaging to determine whether mindfulness meditation is merely a placebo effect.
Seventy-five healthy, pain-free participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: mindfulness meditation, placebo meditation (relaxation), placebo analgesic cream (petroleum jelly) or control.

Pain was induced by using a thermal probe to heat a small area of the skin to 120.2 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Centigrade) - a level of heat most people find very painful.

Greatest pain reduction in mindfulness group

Study participants then rated pain intensity (physical sensation) and pain unpleasantness (emotional response).

The participants' brains were scanned with arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging (ASL MRI) before and after their respective 4-day group interventions.

In the mindfulness meditation group, pain intensity fell by 27% and the emotional aspect of pain fell by 44%. The placebo cream reduced the sensation of pain by 11% and emotional aspect by 13%.
Brain scans showed that mindfulness meditation produced very different patterns of activity than those produced by placebo to reduce pain.

In placebo meditation, a 9% decrease in pain rating and 24% in pain unpleasantness was noted, possibly due to a relaxation effect associated with slower breathing.

Which part of the brain is affected?

Previous data have indicated that, like other cognitive factors that modulate pain, prefrontal and cingulate cortices are intimately involved in the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation.

In this study, mindfulness meditation reduced pain by activating the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortex brain regions, associated with the self-control of pain; while the placebo cream lowered pain by reducing brain activity in the secondary somatosensory cortex, or pain-processing areas.

The thalamus was deactivated during mindfulness meditation, but activated during all other conditions. The thalamus serves as a gateway that determines if sensory information is allowed to reach higher brain centers. By deactivating this area, mindfulness meditation may have caused signals about pain to simply fade away, the team suggests.

While the team expected some overlap in brain regions between meditation and placebo, they were surprised to find new and objective evidence of the unique way in which mindfulness meditation reduces pain.

Zeidan adds:
"Based on our findings, we believe that as little as four 20-minute daily sessions of mindfulness meditation could enhance pain treatment in a clinical setting."
He cautions that since the participants were healthy, pain-free volunteers, findings cannot yet be generalized to chronic pain patients.

In previous studies on the effect of mindfulness training, 3 days of training for 20 minutes a day significantly reduced ratings of pain compared with distraction activities and relaxation.
Is it time for mindfulness training to become a treatment option for acute and chronic pain?
Medical News Today reported earlier this year that mindfulness meditation could help people stop smoking.

Written by Yvette Brazier
Medical News Today

Mindfulness meditation reduces pain, study finds

Recommended related news

    Mindfulness meditation-related pain relief: Evidence for unique brain mechanisms in the regulation of pain, F. Zeidan et al., Neuroscience letters, doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2012.03.082 , published 29 June 2012, abstract via Elsevier 

Top 50 Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis


Top 50 Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Lisa Emrich @LisaEmrich

Health Guide 
December 01, 2015 

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS) with symptoms that can affect almost anything from head to toes. 

The disease is so variable that no two people with MS are likely to have exactly the same combination of symptoms. 

As MS symptoms mimic dozens of other conditions, it is also important to consider that this list is not exclusive to MS.
Here are 50 of the most common MS symptoms:
Sensory problems

Abnormal sensations (dysesthesias)
Numbness, tingling, burning, or tightness
Pins and needles
Severe itchiness (pruritus)
Hypersensitivity to touch
Pain - acute or chronic, mild to severe
Loss of proprioception (sense of body position in space)
Inability to detect vibrations
Impaired sense of taste or smell
Trigeminal neuralgia - stabbing pain in the face
L’Hermitte’s sign - electrical shock-like sensation running down the spinal and into the limbs when you bend your neck forward or backward
The MS hug

Motor problems

Loss of strength or muscle weakness
Loss of muscle tone (hypotonicity) or increased muscle tone (hypertonicity)
Spasticity - continuously contracted muscles and/or muscle spasms
Myoclonus - sudden involuntary muscle contractions
Foot drop
Problems walking, impaired gait, or mobility problems
Loss of balance
Loss of coordination (ataxia)

Cerebellar ataxia can cause:

Gait ataxia - uncoordinated walking
Nystagmus - jittery eye movements
Intention tremor - shaking when attempting fine motor movements
Hypotonia - inability to maintain a steady posture
Dysdiadochokinesia - inability to maintain a steady rhythm
Dysmetria - reduced control of range of movement resulting in over- or under-shooting limb movements
Dysarthria - changes in speech production, including slurring, unclear articulation of words, and difficulty controlling loudness
Dysphonia - changes in voice quality, including hoarseness, breathiness, nasal tone, and poor control of pitch
Dysphagia - difficulty swallowing

Vestibular ataxia can cause:

Loss of balance
Vertigo - dizziness, nausea and vomiting
Nystagmus - jittery eye movements

Sensory ataxia results in:

Loss of body position sense (proprioception)
Inability to detect vibrations
Romberg’s sign

Vision problems

Optic neuritis - loss of vision, eye pain, diminished color vision
Diplopia - double vision
Blurred vision
Flashes of light in peripheral vision

Hearing problems

Hearing loss
Tinnitus - ringing in the ears
Hyperacusis - abnormal sensitivity or intolerance to everyday sound levels or noise

Cognitive changes

Short and long-term memory problems
Attention difficulties
Slower speech or information processing speed
Problems with abstract conceptualization
Difficulty finding the right words

Emotional changes

Generalized distress and anxiety
Mood swings or emotional lability
Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

Bladder, bowel, or sexual problems
Urinary incontinence, hesitancy, urgency, frequency, retention, or leakage
Constipation, diarrhea or bowel incontinence
Impotence, reduced libido, or inability to achieve orgasm
Reduced genital sensation or vaginal dryness

Sleep disorders

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) or nocturnal movements
Sleep disordered breathing

Other symptoms

Headache and migraine
Breathing problems
Heat sensitivity
Problems regulating heat and cold
Paroxysmal symptoms

Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and
founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

See more at:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tips to Stay Smart, Sharp, and Focused

woman in playing violin

Tips to Stay Smart, Sharp, and Focused

Your daily habits can have a big impact on your memory, focus, and mood. Here's what to do to help keep your mind sharp.


Mix Things Up

Remember trying to talk backwards as a child? Researchers at Duke University created exercises they call "neurobics," which challenge your brain to think in new ways. Since your five senses are key to learning, use them to exercise your mind. If you're right-handed, try using your left hand. Drive to work by another route. Close your eyes and see if you can recognize food by taste.

Work Out to Stay Sharp

Exercise, especially the kind that gets your heart rate up like walking or swimming, has mental pluses, too. Although experts aren't sure why, physical activity might increase the blood supply to the brain and improve links between brain cells. Staying active can help memory, imagination, and even your ability to plan tasks.

A Healthy Diet Builds Brainpower

Do your brain a favor and choose foods that are good for your heart and waistline. Being obese in middle age makes you twice as likely to have dementia later on. High cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your chances, too. Try these easy tips:
  • Bake or grill foods instead of frying.
  • Cook with "good" fats like oils from nuts, seeds, and olives instead of cream, butter, and fats from meat.
  • Eat colorful fruits and veggies.

Watch What You Drink

You know that too many drinks can affect your judgment, speech, movement, and memory. But did you know alcohol can have long-term effects? Too much drinking over a long period of time can shrink the frontal lobes of your brain. And that damage can last forever, even if you quit drinking. A healthy amount is considered one drink a day for women and two for men.

Music Helps Your Brain

Thank your mom for making you practice the piano. Playing an instrument early in life pays off in clearer thinking when you're older. Musical experience boosts mental functions that have nothing to do with music, such as memory and ability to plan. It also helps with greater hand coordination. Plus, it's fun -- and it's never too late to start.

Make Friends for Your Mind

Be a people person! Talking with others actually sharpens your brain, whether at work, at home, or out in your community. Studies show social activities improve your mind. So volunteer, sign up for a class, or call a friend.

Stay Calm

Too much stress can hurt your gray matter, which contains cells that store and process information. Here are some ways to chill:
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Find something that makes you laugh.
  • Listen to music.
  • Try yoga or meditation.
  • Find someone to talk to.

Sleep and the Brain

Get enough sleep before and after you learn something new. You need sleep on both ends. When you start out tired, it's hard to focus on things. And when you sleep afterward, your brain files away the new info so you can recall it later. A long night's rest is best for memory and your mood. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Memory Helpers

Everybody spaces out now and then. As you get older, you may not remember things as easily as you used to. That's a normal part of aging. Some helpful hints:
  • Write things down.
  • Use the calendar and reminder functions in your phone, even for simple things (Call Dad!).
  • Focus on one task at a time.
  • Learn new things one step at a time.

The Name Game

Have trouble recalling names? Always repeat a person's name while you're talking to them -- at least in your head, if not out loud. Or invent a funny image or rhyme that you link with their name. For example, think of Bob bobbing out in the ocean.