Imagining Exercising’s Impact on Muscle Mass

A new study by Professor Brian Clark, director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institution was recently published in the journal Neurophysiology, and it is nicely summed up over at PsyBlog. Continue reading

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Altering Gene Expression With Thought

Marc Folcher and other researchers from the group led by Martin Fussenegger, Professor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering at the Department of Biosystems (D-BSSE) in Basel, were able to tap into brainwaves and convert genes into proteins (gene expression) using a new gene regulation method. Continue reading

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Learned Pain

Radiolab has a great story on ‘learned pain’ (story 2 in this podcast, starts around minute 14:30). It describes an amputee and his persistent phantom pain from his previously debilitated arm. His arm was no longer there, yet the pain he used to feel in that arm persisted. His doctor— V.S. Ramashandran— suspected this pain was learned, and devised a successful method of unlearning pain felt in a non-existent limb. Ramashandran jokes: “This is the first example in the history of medicine of a successful amputation of a phantom limb.” Continue reading

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Mindfulness Activities Measurably Fights Disease

If you are uncertain about the value of actively curating your thoughts, a study of breast cancer survivors conducted at Canadian cancer centers should increase your certainty.

The study, led by Dr. Linda E. Carlson, showed participants who regularly practiced mindfulness activities “had longer telomeres, part of the chromosome thought to be important in physical health”.

Mindfulness isn’t goody goody nonsense, it improves health and well-being. The study I’d like to see next is a measure of the bodily effects of habitual stressful thinking.

Read more

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Balancing ‘Fuck You’

It seems silly to have to defend the value of an emotion, but anger often gets a bad rap. The value of anger is wonderfully illustrated in Mike Hrostosky’s piece, Fuck You Spiritual People For Using Gratitude As A Bypass To Your Anger. Continue reading

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On Saying No to the Adventures Life Presents You

Joseph Campbell on refusing the call that life presents you (a.k.a saying ‘no’ to life, emphasis mine):

“When this refusal of the call happens, there is a kind of drying up, a sense of life lost. Everything you knows that a required adventure has been refused. Anxieties build up. What you have refused to experience in a positive way, you will experience a negative way.

If you are having a negative experience of something, ask yourself, “where am I saying no when yes may be the better answer?”

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When you see a good move…

“When you see a good move, look for a better one.” —Emanual Lasker

This chess strategy is also good advice in so many other areas: programming, business strategy, relationships, politics, and on and on.

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Defend Your Position

“If you are sure of your facts, you should defend your position.” – Cecilia Payne

Cecilia Payne was an astronomer and astrophysicist who discovered how to understand the composition of stars in terms of the relative abundance of hydrogen and helium. Her thesis was attacked by a superior claiming it could not possibly be true that hydrogen is 1 million times more abundant in stars than on earth. This attack prompted her to add a final sentence on to her thesis acknowledging that it cannot be true.

Four years later superior realized his mistake. To his credit he gave her due credit for her discovery. After this was over, she said about this experience:

“If you are sure of your facts, you should defend your position.”

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Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach

Alex Spiegel over at NPR quoting Alia Crum regarding the findings in her recent study indicating that our beliefs about food effect how our bodies metabolize that food:

“Our beliefs matter in virtually every domain, in everything we do,” Crum says. “How much is a mystery, but I don’t think we’ve given enough credit to the role of our beliefs in determining our physiology, our reality. We have this very simple metabolic science: calories in, calories out.”

People don’t want to think that our beliefs have influence, too, she says. “But they do!”

read the full article

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Religion, Science, Intuition, Analytical Mind; Dangerous Conflations

Science emerged in a time when superstition led to attributing causes to unrelated things and religion was abused to promote suppression/oppression of ideas. Whenever people organize, organization can magnify our undesirable tendencies; religion and science are no exceptions. No institution is immune from human failings. Continue reading

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