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Monthly Archives: August 2014

  1. Quadruple Bypass Guy Becomes Guided Imagery Afficionado

    Quadruple Bypass Guy Becomes Guided Imagery Afficionado

    I just wanted to let you know how successful guided imagery was for me, and continues to be to me.  I was given new life by way of a quadruple by-pass. I listened to guided imagery for Pain, Surgery, Cardiac ICU and Cardiac Rehab.
    Through Guided Imagery, the operating theater became a familiar place, with competent, compassionate professionals, all moving in sync to overcome the burden of four blockages (1 at 100%, 3 at 89%).  The Cardiac ICU was not a hostile place, as the friendly faces found there did their level best to provide comfort and healing.

    Today, just six days after the surgery, I am home with my family, still listening to these meditations, still opening my mind to the possibilities that now lay before me.

    Brandon K.

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  2. You Gotta Be in It to Win It

    You Gotta Be in It to Win It

    Despite growing up during the height of the coupon craze, I have never been a fan of clipping cents-off coupons, unless they could be used to purchase a horse. I can remember a time when grocery stores waged price wars by doubling or tripling paper coupons.
    That was tough to resist, tripling a 75-cent coupon meant saving $2.25, but what I found, as a proponent of fresh, natural and organic products that my friends kindly termed ‘health food,’ was that the coupons were rarely for anything I actually wanted. No coupons for savings on the good stuff.


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  3. Overweight Woman with Low Self-Esteem Hates Self, Seeks Help

    Overweight Woman with Low Self-Esteem Hates Self, Seeks Help

    Dear Belleruth,

    I am 120 lbs. overweight.  I have been accepted for the lap band procedure to help me lose weight. I got right up to the date and canceled. Why? Fear! Since I am 65 yrs. old (or young!) and happily married for 46 years, I have a lot of baggage and probably my fears stem from low self-esteem. This started when I was a child of a 43 yr-old mom -- who was stoic and stern and did not believe in "spoiling" a child.

    However, she was always supportive about keeping me at a "normal" weight. After marriage, however, I just started to plump up to 180 after my first two pregnancies and then up to 240 before my 3rd child.
    Because of my weight, I have disabling arthritis and fibromyalgia and sleep apnea. I know that weight loss could greatly reduce these infirmities and yet, I always manage to sabotage every opportunity to succeed.
    Of course, my career followed the same course. Why can't I get past these goblins? I hate myself for my weaknesses.


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  4. Video Teleconferencing Is as Good as In-Person Treatment for Rural Vets with PTS

    In this randomized clinical trial, researchers from the National Center for PTSD at the Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Healthcare System in Honolulu, HI, examined outcomes from cognitive processing therapy delivered via video teleconferencing (VTC) as compared to in-person delivery, in a rural, ethnically diverse sample of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    Participants received 12 sessions of CPT-C via VTC (n = 61) or in-person (n = 64). Assessments were administered at baseline, mid-treatment, immediately post-treatment, and at 3 and 6 months post-treatment. The primary clinical outcome was post-treatment PTSD severity, as measured by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale or CAPS.

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  5. Guided Imagery for Combat Stress Gets a Shout Out

    Guided Imagery for Combat Stress Gets a Shout Out

    For as long as we’ve had a website (since 1997), my go-to site for smart, reliable, up-to-date, research-based, practical answers to holistic health questions has always been Ask Dr. Weil.  I trust what he has to say.  He doesn’t oversell his advice, and if there’s only modest back-up for claims of efficacy, he says so.
    He’s also on top of the latest research, so I often learn about new findings from him. And because he was trained as a botanist before he became a doc, he’s got a real affinity, knowledge and love for the healing that plants and the earth’s natural elements have to offer.

    So it was a real kick to see that in his latest post, he talks about posttraumatic stress – especially combat trauma in our service personnel – and the power of CBT and guided imagery to help remediate symptoms.  He even points to our Health Journeys page for military and veterans. Very gratifying!

    And true to form, he introduced some new ideas (at least new to me), reporting on recent studies using psychedelic drugs, and the potential of methylenedioxy methamphetamine (Ecstasy) and psilocybin (mushrooms), alongside psychotherapy, for helping traumatized soldiers overcome PTS. Who knew? Not I.

    Actually, there’s a whole host of new studies combining various medications with CBT to see if remediation of PTS symptoms can be speeded up and deepened.  They’re in process now – I’ll report on them as soon as findings are published.

    The whole Ask Dr Weil piece is here. Check it out and sign up for the e-newsletter.  It’s a terrific resource, and the Q and A database is loaded with important, useable, constantly evolving information.

    By the way, we hope you’re finding your way around this new merged BR Blog and HJ Blog without any undue confusion.  Let us know.
    Take care and be well,
    All best,

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  6. Home Grown Guided Imagery to Accomplish a Post-Surgical Dream Trip

    This is a terrific story about how somebody used his own home-grown imagery and the help of a photo to master climbing a lot of tough steps after a surgery that left him temporarily weak.

    After my surgery, I was very weak.  My dream trip, to go to Oxford, was coming up, and I worried that there might be something in the layout of the place that would be impossible for me to negotiate in my weakened state.  I asked about this, and was told that the toughest thing I’d have to face were the stairs to the refectory, and that I would have to climb them every day.  I requested they send me a picture of those stairs.

    Then, because I work at the Capitol, I decided that I would climb a couple of stairs at a time there and imagine they were the refectory stairs.  Every night I imagined myself climbing those Oxford stairs, and every day I’d take a few more at the Capitol and imagine they were the refectory stairs.  It got easier and easier for me to do more and more each day.  I had 3 months to make my goal.

    Three months later, when I arrived at Oxford and found my stairs, it was like greeting an old friend.  I climbed them with no trouble whatsoever… wasn’t even short of breath.  It was a wonderful sense of accomplishment, and it was thanks to my own, home-grown guided imagery.

    Your Public Servant on The Hill

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  7. Yoga Nidra Helps College Students with Stress

    Researchers from the Department of Health Promotion and Wellness and the Student Health Center at the University of Missouri, investigated whether iRest Yoga Nidra (, a form of therapeutic guided meditation, was effective in reducing perceived stress, worry and depression in college students.
    Sixty-six students age 18-56 completed an 8-week iRest yoga-nidra intervention that was offered for 8 semesters. Assessment occurred 1 week prior to intervention onset and during the class period following the intervention. Qualitative data were collected at Weeks 4 and 8.

    Statistically significant pre- to posttest improvements in perceived stress, worry, and depression were found. Pre-existing depression accounted for most of the change in worry and perceived stress scores. Pre- to post test improvements in mindfulness-based skills were also detected.

    The investigators conclude that iRest yoga-nidra practice may reduce symptoms of perceived stress, worry, and depression and increase mindfulness-based skills.

    Citation:  Eastman-Mueller H1, Wilson T, Jung AK, Kimura A, Tarrant J. iRest yoga-nidra on the college campus: changes in stress, depression, worry, and mindfulness. International Journal of Yoga Therapy. 2013; (23): pp.15-24.


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  8. Parents of Special Needs Children also have Special Needs

    Parents of Special Needs Children also have Special Needs

    We are happy to learn that researchers have been studying ways to address the mental and emotional health of those who parent children with special needs. According to proponents of those studies, until recently, most programs and resources have been dedicated to sharpening parenting skills, rather than recognizing that special needs parents have unattended mental and emotional health issues related to caring for their children.

    We hear from parents of children with special needs when they call to ask about audio programs for their children, and they frequently select titles for themselves.

    Sleep is a major issue among many of the special needs parents with whom we communicate. Some parents say that when they do get time to sleep, they are too keyed-up, worried or just plain burned-out to get restorative sleep. I recently spoke to a woman who called to order Magic Island, by Betty Mehling, to be sent to one of the mothers in her support group. She had ordered it for her son, who has cerebral palsy. He liked it so much that she decided to share it.

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  9. Any Point in Playing M.S. Imagery during Therapeutic Massage?

    Dear BR,

    I suffer from M.S. and get therapeutic massage once or twice a month to help with muscle spasm and general mental health. I also enjoy listening to your imagery at the end of the day.
    What do you think of my bringing my tape to the massage sessions? Do you think that would bring double-benefits?  Or should I leave them separate?  As it is, I am getting a lot out of each experience.

    Fred B. from Milwaukee

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  10. Time for a Rant: On Robin Williams, Bipolar Illness & Our Need for Simple Answers

    Time for a Rant: On Robin Williams, Bipolar Illness & Our Need for Simple Answers

    I feel a rant coming on.  

    I’ve been catching some of the commentary on traditional news outlets and social media over the tragic death of big-hearted, super-talented actor-comedian Robin Williams. It seems pretty obvious he was a great guy and a dazzling talent.  I feel for his family and friends.  It’s horrible to be left by suicide, especially when you haven’t been consulted. (I know that might sound flippant, but I mean it.)
    There’s a lot of confused and simplistic messaging flying around about depression, suicide, celebrity and being a professional comic – now throw in Parkinson’s – and, much as I’m reluctant to add to this overfull conversation, I think I’ve gotta pipe up.
    Robin Williams had bipolar illness. (We used to call it manic-depressive disorder). And that’s one very tough condition to manage.

    Sure, he had the standard demons.  All the stuff people are writing is no doubt true.  He had the usual troubles from celebrity and fame.  He was never secure with “steady” work.  He needed to please people and make them happy, probably to his detriment.  He struggled with various addictions, probably connected to self-medicating his mood swings. He was worried about having Parkinson’s.
    But the guy was bipolar.  And that defines the problem and trumps all of the above, which are no doubt contributing factors, but not the main event.

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