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Walking in the Park

Summer 2021

Recently, I was walking in the park and thinking about how warm it was and how much I really like it when the area I’m traipsing in has trees and shade. Then I thought about how back in the winter how much I hated those some areas because of how they blocked the sun from warming my body. I realized in that moment just how much our beliefs and desires are shaped by our current environment and limited by our current viewpoint. I thought about how this symbolizes are country today. A portion of people are in the cold and want to cut down the pesky trees to the exclusion of all other possibilities and another portion are in the heat and want to plant more trees to the exclusion of all other possibilities. Both groups are focused solely on proving that their beliefs are the right one and that the other is wrong. The downfall is our own ego, our insatiable need to win, so much so that we will use every tactic we can uncover whether right or wrong to prove our point. Our need to win, to be right is so dangerous that we will lie not just to others but to ourselves to continue to prove our point even though our point is going to potentially harm us in the future. Perhaps the truth is that in our haste to win the argument, support our choice, we do harm not only to others but to ourselves and I’m thinking that taking our time and listening to understand the other just might be a win-win for all.   

Ten Things You Can Do When You're Overwhelmed in Grief

Winter 2021

David Kessler shares 10 simple things you can do right now when you are in grief

1. Take a walk

2. Name three things you could do today

3. Engage in the bigger world for 30 minutes (watch the news, read the newspaper, etc.)

4. Send the person who died your love

5. Distract yourself….you shouldn’t stay in pain 24 hours per day

6. Talk about your loss to someone else

7. Recognize something in your life that continues even after the loss….your toenails continue to grow, etc.

8. Do something nice for yourself

9. Write down three things you wanted to do but never had the chance

10. Do something for someone else especially if you are past your first year of grief

Malcolm Gladwell's book, "Talking to Strangers" info about alcohol

Fall 2021

The chapter about alcohol  within the book had some very interesting research, opinions, and information. You should buy the book and read Chapter 8, A case study of a fraternity party for yourself as it is very informational and provided a few new perspectives.

Many who study alcohol no longer consider it an agent of disinhibition. They think of it as an agent of myopia in that alcohol’s principal effect is to narrow our emotional and mental fields of vision. Alcohol makes our immediate needs more important than our long-term needs. Drinking puts you at the mercy of your environment.

Alcohol affects the frontal lobe that governs attention, motivation, planning and learning. That first drink dampens activity in our frontal lobes. Alcohol then hits the amygdala which tells us how to react and it turns our ability to know how to react down a notch. Alcohol causes us to have less brainpower to make complex long-term considerations. Our neurological burglar alarm is in essence turned off when we drink. When alcohol hits our cerebellum, it will affect our coordination and balance. If you drink lots of alcohol quickly it hits the hippocampus, and you won’t remember. At BAC 0.15 you blackout. The really frightening thing is that research shows you can do anything in a blackout that you can do when you’re not drunk, you’re just not going to remember it. Research also shows that it is almost impossible to tell when people are drunk or when they are blacked out.

A couple things to remember is that we react to alcohol based on our weight, how fast we consume it, wine and spirits raise alcohol levels faster than beer, and biological women metabolize alcohol quicker because they have much less water in their bodies than biological men. Having a meal in your stomach when you drink reduces your peak blood alcohol concentration by about a third.

The book says that we should be clear that perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes and they should be brought to justice. And also says that we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting the distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people, who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.

The book also says that we are failing to let men know that when they render themselves myopic, they can do terrible things. Young men are getting a distorted message that drinking to excess is a harmless social exercise. The real message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will commit a sexual crime. Acknowledging the role of alcohol is not excusing the behavior of perpetrators. It’s trying to prevent more young men from becoming perpetrators.

According to the book, when students were asked by the Kaiser Family Foundation what measures they thought would be most effective in reducing sexual assault they put at the top of the list harsher punishment for aggressors, self-defense training for victims and teaching men to respect women. Only 33% thought it would be very effective if they drank less. And only 15% thought stronger restriction on alcohol on campus would be effective. These are contradictory positions. Students think it is a good idea to be trained in self-defense, and not such a good idea to clamp down on drinking. But what good is knowing the techniques of self-defense if you’re blind drunk? Students think it’s really a good idea if men respect women more. But the issue is not how men behave around women when they are sober. It is how they behave around women when they are drunk and have been transformed by alcohol into a person who makes sense of the world around them very differently. The lesson of myopia is really very simple. If you want people to be themselves in a social encounter with a stranger, to represent their own desires honestly and clearly, they cannot be blind drunk. The book states, as long as we refuse to acknowledge what alcohol does to the interaction between people nothing will change. 

Why we are easily deceived

Fall 2021

Malcolm Gladwell’s book Talking to Strangers

An interesting book which clearly illustrates that the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people and events is ineffective. To put it mildly we are continually deceived. Our natural tendency to default to the truth invites conflict and misunderstandings in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world. People tend to default to the truth even though numerous red flags are waving right in front of their noses pointing to the fact that they are being lied to. The truth is simply too unbelievable, so we ignore the red flags, look the other way, rationalize it away, and make up excuses. It is the age-old story of countless experts trusting Hitler, of the most sophisticated intelligence organizations being fooled by a top-level Cuban spy, Ana Montes who was high up in the Defense Intelligence Agency for almost 20 years, Bernie Madoff who scammed over $17 billion from innocent people, Jerry Sandusky beloved coach and pedophile, Larry Nassar physician to gymnasts charged with sexual abuse and countless others in the past and those in the present that we are refusing to acknowledge because we don’t want to believe. The truth default theory states that we operate from the assumption of truth and then we work to square everything up to fall in line with that assumption. The problem with defaulting to the truth is that it lets spies, murderers, liars, thieves, corrupt individuals and organizations, con-artists, pedophiles, and all sorts of evil doers roam free.

Gladwell’s book points out that we are horrible at detecting lies and that includes the experts. We want to believe the experts are in fact superheroes and are always right, but the evidence shows otherwise. I recommend you read the book as it contains much more info than I can share from this one perspective of one section of the book. For me the old saying, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident” says it all. My personal take away on that section of the book is that we all need to pay attention to red flags, be aware of our innate tendency to default to the truth and start thinking for ourselves and stop shaming and ridiculing others whose beliefs are different than our own.  After all, they may be right.

Can Red Light Therapy help me?

Winter 2020

Recently I came across some new information that I would like to share. My functional medicine practitioner had told me about red light therapy several years ago and I found it interesting at the time but let it go in one ear and out the other. But once again the universe brought it to my attention when I had signed up for a free training about health and healing exposures to toxins/molds last summer. I watched an hour-long training by Ari Whitten and from that decided to buy his book and from that decided to actually purchase a system and give it a try. Now, why did I do this. The first page of the book says it all….”If there was a pill that was proven to have powerful anti-aging effects on our skin, combat neurological disease, fight depression and anxiety, increase fat loss, speed recovery from exercise, increase strength and endurance, combat certain autoimmune conditions, fight hair loss and speed healing from injury – all with little to no side effects---it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster drug. Hundreds of millions of people would be told to start taking it by their doctors every day. And doctors all over the world would call it a miracle drug. Here is the crazy part: That drug exists. But it is not a pill. It is red and near-infrared light. And how can red light and near infrared do all these things….It boils down to red and near-infrared light therapy help mitochondria produce more energy, decrease inflammation, and help build the cell defense systems to increase resiliency. Who knows whether it will work or not, but after the training and reading the book I decided to give it a try for myself and I’ll let you know in 6 months whether I think it is beneficial or not.

Why you should have a QEEG

June 21, 2019

The human brain is extremely complex and even though we now know more than ever about how it operates we are only beginning to scratch the surface of the knowledge needed to truly understand the workings of  the human brain.  When individuals meet with a cardiologist they expect them to know everything about the heart. It is interesting and also perplexing that mental health professionals for the most part don't know much about the organ that they are treating?

Individuals who visit mental health practitioners do so primarily because they are dissatisfied with their life. They are typically able to verbalize symptoms such as I can't focus, I am just not motivated like I used to be, my heart races, I can't get to sleep, I get so angry, I can't stop worrying, etc.  Professionals evaluate the symptoms and come up with a diagnosis based on a cluster of reported symptoms rather than a scan of the brain.

Wouldn't it be great if they could take a look under our hood and see how our brain is functioning.  Well, they can.  By using encephalography (EEG) and running it through a normative data base we can compare your brain waves to a normative sample.  By doing the quantitative analysis (QEEG) we can then determine areas of the brain that are not optimally functioning and develop a brain training program to allow your brain to function at it's peak thereby eliminating symptoms without the need for psychotropic medications.

Where attention flows

December 10, 2020

Where attention goes…. energy flows

Written by, Mary Ann Farmer, EdS LPC NCC CCTP CH BCB BCN

December 10, 2020

I recall as a child watching cartoons on a Saturday morning and laughing at the cartoon character who struggled while having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other telling them what to do. As a licensed professional counselor who specializes in neurofeedback, it struck me the other day when I was looking at a diagram of the Left and Right Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex and their functions just how true this is. The right prefrontal cortex informs behavioral inhibition, avoidance, and emotion regulation whereas the left prefrontal cortex informs behavioral activation, approach, and emotion regulation and the anterior cingulate cortex informs discrepancy detection, and behavioral inhibition.

It amazes me how tiny changes in electrical signals within the brain define who we are as a person and I wonder how our environment shapes those electrical signal changes. And let me tell you it scares me to think just how much the environment of the year 2020 has negatively impacted us all. More importantly I am amazed at how technology is allowing us to have some semblance of control over making the changes in the direction we choose. And that my friends are what neurofeedback, transcranial direct current stimulation, cranial electrical stimulation and audio-visual entrainment can provide for you and all without medication.

Now, back to that devil and angel on my shoulder. I am wondering how the devil we call the year 2020 has negatively impacted our humanity towards one another and more importantly I am wondering how we can rebuild love, patience, kindness and understanding.

Instead of…… about

Instead of they harmed my loved one how about Covid 19 harmed my loved one

Instead of they don’t care because blah, blah, blah how about they don’t understand

Instead of they should have blah, blah, blah how about they are doing the best they can under the circumstances

Instead of they shouldn’t have blah, blah, blah how about what can I do to help

Instead of they are wrong and I am right how about seeking to truly understand one another

Instead of they must believe what I believe how about tolerance and celebration of our differences and yes even the differences you do not agree with

Instead of it has to be black or white/this or that how about a little tolerance for ambiguity, uncertainty and those inevitable grey areas in life

Instead of lashing out in anger, hatred and destruction how about kindness, love and peace

Instead of focusing on division how about focusing on what unites us

Our brains and our personality are always being shaped and modified by our experiences or the energy we feed it via our focus. We do not have control over what is going on in the world but we do have control over where we set our attention, intention and our responses. The point is that we would all benefit personally from a little less anger, indignation and righteousness and a little more compassion. 

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