Vajra Blue

Mindfulness and Compassion. Understanding trauma in young people.


Research Finds Meditation More Useful Than Sleep Education in Fighting Insomnia

In our sleep deprived times another good argument to teach mindfulness as widely as possible.
Start them young.

http://www.zmescience.com/medicine/alternative-medicine-medicine/meditation-insomnia-sleep-17022015/?utm_content=bufferb62d2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Sandy


Mindfulness and the future

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Many of us live by other peoples’ rules. We are afraid to act in our own interests.  There is always someone else whose opinion carries more weight than our own. Someone to whom we have given the power to veto the decisions that we make about how we live our lives. These are often internalised figures from our past.

We wait for the right moment to act; when we have the right job, when we have enough money, when we meet Mr or Ms Right.  If we retrain for a different job it might be years before we are ready, so we choose not to. We decide to stay with the status quo and miss out on opportunities to have a richer life.

Where our future is are concerned we have to act, otherwise we will be at the mercy of everything else that is happening. As the Nike advertisement said “Just do it.”

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Shedding light on PTSD and Depression

A slightly different take on being PTSD from mindus101

mindus101

photo credit: pixgood.com

I have associated PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) with war veterans whose lives are disrupted by horrendous memories of war, or with people who have suffered equally disturbing violations like rape, shooting sprees, natural disasters, devastating accidents, physical abuse, among other traumatic experiences.

Although I have my share of undesired memories of experiences, I truly did not expect to be diagnosed, as I recently did, as having PTSD.

PTSD is defined as a “disruption in the systematic functioning of the body due to mental or emotional strain following a deeply disturbing or traumatic experience”.

Back in October of last year I found myself “back on the couch”,  feeling somewhat defeated but determined to “figure out” why, after “all the work” I have done on healing, I still found myself, at times, feeling stuck and overwhelmed by bouts of anxiety and depression.

This was my first visit with Dr. Davis, although…

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Neuroplasticity and depression.

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Among other things, neuroplasticity means that emotions such as happiness and compassion can be cultivated in much the same way that a person can learn through repetition to play golf and basketball or master a musical instrument, and that such practice changes the activity and physical aspects of specific brain areas.” 
― Andrew Weil

Over the last twenty years it has become clear that the condition we call depression does not have one single cause or presentation. The accumulation of evidence shows that some types of depression are either brought about, or sustained by the way we think and interact with our world. Recent research suggests that an inflammatory response, brought about by our modern lifestyle, may also contribute to the development and persistence of such states.

The evidence also shows that our genetic makeup contributes to our risk of developing a depressive disorder. However, the presence of this genetic influence does not mean that depression is a purely genetic disorder.

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Mindful living for young people

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Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different, enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t) James Baraz

The benefits of mindfulness in adults are being well researched, and the available evidence about this practice shows many positive benefits across several domains of human functioning.  Research into the benefits for young people has lagged behind the work in adults but is starting to demonstrate very similar effects.

Several studies which have used brain scans and other neuroscientific assessments, have demonstrated both structural and functional changes in the brain following mindfulness practice. These changes are directly related to improvements in both the clarity of our thinking as well as our awareness and control over our feelings.

This means that we can act out of what is happening in the present moment rather than allowing past events and scripts to dictate our current choices and behaviours.

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Depression: Altering brain serotonin without drugs.

wpid-images.jpg In the 1950s a new drug was introduced into western medical practice.

Reserpine, an indole alkaloid, was extracted from Rauwolfia serpentina or Indian snakeroot. It has been in used in Indian medicine for several hundred years, and was a treatment for conditions that we might now recognise as mental illness. Gandhi is alleged to have taken it as a relaxant.

It showed antipsychotic effects and was used in the treatment of high blood pressure. It has subsequently been banned from use in the United Kingdom, because of severe, problematic side effects. These included severe depression and unexpected suicide.

One of its predominant effects on the brain was to deplete stores of monoamine neurotransmitters, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine.

This is one of the bits of evidence that lead to the formulation of what was to become known as the “monoamine theory” of depression, a theory that still holds a lot of influence up to the present day.

The current focus has been on Serotonin, another monoamine neurotransmitter in the brain.

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Mindfulness and the brain.

Freedom is about having choice.  If I am aware of my automatic reactions to experience as they arise, then I can take a breath, creating a space for something new.  I can choose a response in that moment, one that reflects the version of me that I aspire to be.

Stacie Smith

The brain is a highly complex organ that makes a contribution to nearly every aspect of the body’s functioning; from awareness of where we are in space, to highly complex thought, to consciousness itself.

It contains about seventy-five billion nerve cells, each of which can make roughly a thousand connections with other neurons. There are about the same number of support cells as well.

Because it is so vital to human functioning the brain is well protected inside the skull.

The evolution of the brain that has occurred over the last several million years has enabled the human species to go from being prey animals to the top predator on the planet.
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The eyes have it where depression is concerned?

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The eyes are the windows to the soul.
William Shakespeare

Depression can vary from a mild annoyance to a life threatening illness.  Those of us who have been in it’s clutches, would gladly escape any further experiences of Churchill’s Black Dog, and much time and effort has been spent in searching for ways to effectively treat the first episode  of the disorder and hopefully to prevent recurrence.
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How to start the move from depression to happiness.

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I’m sure many of us care about how we will look back on our lives on our deathbed, but the value of our lives comes from the experiences of pleasure and purpose over our lifetimes and not from a judgement we might make at an arbitrarily chosen moment in time.

Paul Dolan.

Most of us want to avoid depression and to be happy. Happiness is something that we pursue with varying degrees of intensity. There are even greater variations in the success that we have in pursuing this Holy Grail of the emotional world. Much of the time we do not even seem to be aware of what we mean by happiness, and seem to have even less idea of how we might possess it. Continue reading