Study: Short Break From Cosmetics Causes “Significant Drop of Hormone Disrupting Chemicals”

A study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and Clinica de Salud del Valle Salinas has demonstrated how taking even a short break from various cosmetics, shampoos, and other personal care products can lead to a substantial drop in the levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals present within the body.

The results from the study were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Researchers gave 100 Latina teenagers various personal care products that were labeled to be free of common chemicals including phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and oxybenzone. These chemicals are used regularly in almost all conventional personal care products such as cosmetics, soap, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products, and animal studies have shown that they directly interfere with the body’s endocrine system.

“Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals,” said study lead author Kim Harley, associate director of the UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. “Teen girls may be at particular risk since it’s a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman.”

Results

After just a three-day trial with the girls using only the lower-chemical products, urine samples showed a significant drop in the level of chemicals in the body. Methyl and propyl parabens, commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44% and 45%, respectively, metabolites of diethyl phthalate, used often in perfumes, dropped by 27%, and both triclosan and benzophenone-3 fell 36%. The authors of the study were surprised to see an increase in two lesser common parabens, but, being minor, could easily have been caused by accidental contamination or a substitute not listed on the labels.

Co-director of the study Kimberly Parra explains why having local youths participate in the study was of particular importance:

The results of the study are particularly interesting on a scientific level, but the fact that high school students led the study set a new path to engaging youth to learn about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities. After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members, and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento.

Included in the CHAMACOS Youth Council were 12 local high school students who helped design and implement the study. One of the teen researchers, Maritza Cárdenas, is now a UC Berkeley undergraduate majoring in molecular and cell biology.

“One of the goals of our study was to create awareness among the participants of the chemicals found in everyday products, to help make people more conscious about what they’re using,” said Cárdenas. “Seeing the drop in chemical levels after just three days shows that simple actions can be taken, such as choosing products with fewer chemicals, and make a difference.”

The researchers noted that cosmetics and personal care products are not well-regulated in this country, and that getting data about health effects from exposure, particularly long-term ones, is difficult. But they say there is growing evidence linking endocrine-disrupting chemicals to neurobehavioral problems, obesity and cancer cell growth.

What Can You Do?

Well, you can be sure to check the labels on any products you purchase. Most personal care products contain a list of ingredients, but unfortunately many cosmetics do not. If you use a particular brand that you really love you can try contacting the manufacturer directly and asking them for an ingredient list.

You can also opt for more natural and organic products, but be sure to keep in mind that in the industry of personal care products, the words “natural” and “organic” are often meaningless. A safe bet would be to buy these products from a health food store and be sure to read the ingredients or ask the sales clerk. Generally, when products do not contain specific chemicals, the manufacturers are happy to label them as such.

The less demand for these chemically-laden products there is, the less these chemicals will be used. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLAR! We have the power to create the type of world we want. Be the change.

Check out The Story Of Cosmetics below!

Scientists Explain How The Growth of A Baby’s Brain “Literally Requires Positive Interaction”

Loving your child will physically translate into a larger, healthier brain than children who suffer from extreme neglect, abuse and trauma. It’s true that children need to be loved and supported and not just so they can feel good about themselves, but so they can physically develop the way they are supposed to.

This is important information for parents to know, especially as there has been a debate over whether or not children, especially babies, should be attached with their mothers or if they should be left to ‘cry it out’ on their own, or ‘self-soothe.’ This goes beyond the child being independent and emotionally strong; it will impact how the child will develop physically into a healthy adult, and whether they will encounter mental health problems and addictive behavior as they grow up.

Brain Scans

The following image is a depiction of the brains of two children; the one on the left had an attentive caregiver who consistently loved, cared for, responded to and interacted positively with him. The brain of the child on the right was neglected, ignored and abused.

“The child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathize with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime … and to develop mental and other serious health problems,” says an article published in The Telegraph in 2012.

According to UCLA Psychiatry Professor Allan Schore. a leading neurologist in the study of how the development of a child is affected by the amount of love given by its caregiver, “the growth of the baby’s brain literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant, the development of cerebral circuits depend on it.”

When Is This Most Crucial?

From the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy, up until the 24th month of life the baby’s brain will more than double in size, but that is only if it gets the proper love, care and affection that children actually require.

“There is something the human brain needs in terms of contact with other humans for it to grow. The connections that are not used die off,” he says. “It’s a use it or lose it situation. Cells that fire together wire together and do not die together.”

“The brain does not continue to grow and grow and grow. It organizes, then disorganizes, then reorganizes. The disorganization of the brain — the massive death of billions of neurons and disconnection of synapses — is part of how the brain is growing as it’s reorganizing,” says Schore.

To some this may seem obvious, but there are many caregivers that don’t understand how important this is and believe that in order to raise independent children that they must be left to soothe themselves. Unfortunately what they don’t realize is that infants are not equipped with any means to do this, and when they cry out, even if they are not hungry, don’t need to be changed, or don’t seemingly need anything, what they do need is love, care, and attention.

In the following video, Dr. Schore explains some of the findings from his research in more detail.

Repeating Cycles

“Parents who, because their parents neglected them, do not have fully developed brains, neglect their own children in a similar way: their own children’s brains suffer from the same lack of development,” according to the same Telegraph article.

Because the damage that is done is typically believed to be permanent, one might think there is no hope as generations will keep repeating the same cycles of what is often unintentional abuse. However with this knowledge and awareness we can practice early intervention. That involves identifying mothers who are “at risk” of neglecting their babies, and having a nurse check up on them often to instructs them on how they should be caring for their newborn child.

Early intervention has been tried in the US for more than 20 years. Data from the city of Elmira in New York State, where these programs have been in place for the longest have shown that children whose mothers had received guidance did much better compared to children with similar circumstances but without assistance. These children whose mothers were identified as “at risk” grew up to have about 50 percent fewer arrests, 80 percent fewer convictions and a significantly lower rate of drug abuse, according to the Telegraph article.

Hold Onto Your Children

Hopefully soon this information will be such common knowledge and our children will be raised with the utmost care, love, and affection. But until then, it’s important to spread the word! If you found this information useful or know anyone who would, please share.

Togo, West Africa Bans Glyphosate

Recently, a country in West Africa, Togo has prohibited the ‘import, market or use of glyphosate and any other product containing it.’ This decision was finalized in December of last year by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Production and Fisheries, Noel Kouerta Bataka.

If you are unfamiliar with glyphosate, it is a chemical pesticide made by none other than agricultural giant, Monsanto, Bayer. Glyphosate can be found in RoundUp and used on crops that have been genetically engineered specifically to resist its toxicity, allowing farmers to kill the weeds and pests without killing their crops. The problem is, it is extremely toxic not only for the consumer of products containing it, but for the land and soil as well where it is grown.

There have been numerous studies, many of which CE has reported on that link it to cancer, liver disease, autism, birth defects, brain damage and more.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage (et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014), article ID 179691)

After 2 years of political discussions in Togo, regarding the worlds most popular herbicide, many are celebrating the decision that was finally made to have it outright banned. Bataka has allowed a 12-month moratorium for all of the current glyphosate supplies to be either used or destroyed.

Ban Of Glyphosate Around The World

As awareness grows regarding the health concerns of glyphosate, so does government level support worldwide. Not only has Key West, Los Angeles, Miami and The University of California banned or restricted the use of this toxic chemical so, have 20 countries around the world. These countries are,

  • In Africa — Malawi and Togo.
  • In Asia — Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar.
  • In Central America — Bermuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Costa Rica
  • In Europe — Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands

So we still have yet to see bans in Canada, United States, Mexico and many other countries, but hopefully stories such as these will keep the awareness and momentum going and help others to see that this toxic chemical pesticide should not be anywhere near the food we are eating or on our precious Mother Earth.

It’s a big problem, and it’s now entered into our food supply.

How To Avoid Glyphosate

One might believe that they simply have to avoid genetically engineered foods to avoid glyphosate, and while that is a good start, unfortunately it’s not that black and white. There are many non-GMO foods that are still sprayed with this chemical and thus have high concentrations of it.

In reality your best bet would be to grow all of your own fruits, vegetables and even nuts, but unfortunately in this day and age this is not very plausible for everyone.

The foods that are highest in glyphosate are: soy, wheat, almonds, peas, beetroot (including beet sugar), carrots, sweet potatoes, quinoa, peas, tea, meat and dairy, corn and oats. However, many other unsuspecting foods have also have tested positive for high levels of glyphosate including many fruits and berries such as: apples, apricots, cherries, grapefruit, grapes (wine as well), lemons, olives, peaches, pears and more.

To avoid glyphosate altogether sticking to an all-organic diet is necessary. If this is an obstacle for you, consider locally grown produce where you can talk directly with the farmers about their growing practices. Many farmers grow organically , but cannot afford to obtain the organic certification. You can also wash your produce in baking soda and vinegar click HERE for instructions.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem hopeless at times to even try to avoid environmental toxins like glyphosate, we have to remember that the more we do, and the more we put our money where are mouths are and vote with our dollars, the less these chemicals will be used. We have already seen many big brands step away from using GMO ingredients because of consumer demand, so it may not be as far off as you think.

As countries like Togo step forward and do what is right for their citizens and the planet, awareness will continue to grow and it will assist others in seeing the truth about these chemicals and inspire others to make a change as well. We have more power than we realize and anything can change, with enough awareness.

Cigarette Butts Are The Single Most Littered Item On Our Planet

Over the past several years a lot of attention has been brought to the amount of trash that is ending up in our world’s oceans. We have seen straw bans happening around the world and bans on single-use plastic bags as well. There has been a concerted effort to make single-use cutlery compostable or even edible. Although this is a huge step in the right direction and something that we should continue to do, there is one pollutant that should be in the spotlight as it is the single greatest source of ocean trash — cigarette butts.

For some reason, this small, but ubiquitous source of trash has mostly avoided any form of regulation. This soon could change if a committed group of activists has a say.

A tobacco industry academic, California lawmaker, and a worldwide surfing organization are among the growing number of people who are arguing that cigarette filters should be banned.

“It’s pretty clear there is no health benefit from filters. They are just a marketing tool. And they make it easier for people to smoke. It’s also a major contaminant, with all that plastic waste. It seems like a no-brainer to me that we can’t continue to allow this,” Thomas Novotny, a professor of public health at San Diego State University told NBC News.

A California assemblyman proposed an outright ban on cigarettes with filters but wasn’t able to get the proposal out of the committee. A state senator from New York has written legislation to create a rebate program for butts returned to redemption centers, but that idea is also on hold. San Francisco has propositioned for a 60 cent per pack increase to raise around $3 million annually to help to cover the cost of cleaning up these discarded butts.

Time To Tackle The Most Littered Item In The World

The Truth Initiative, one of the largest anti-smoking initiatives in the U.S. is doing everything it can to raise awareness around this issue. they use funds collected between state attorneys general and tobacco industries to deliver hard facts against smoking. The group used a nationally televised Video Music Awards show to launch a campaign against cigarette butts. The group is going against the hands down, “most littered item in the world.”

With 5.6 trillion cigarettes manufactured worldwide each year, the filters made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that takes a minimum of 10 years to decompose. An alarming two-thirds of those butts are dumped irresponsibly each year according to Novotny, who founded the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project.

Since 1982 the Ocean Conservancy has sponsored a beach cleanup. Each year, cigarette butts have been the most collected item on the beaches of the world. Over 60 million have been collected over that period of time. Out of all the plastic wrappers, eating utensils, bottles, containers, cigarette butts have accounted for one-third of all the trash collected.

Let’s not forget that these discarded filters contain synthetic fibers and hundreds of chemicals that are used to treat tobacco. Novonty is actively pursuing further research to see exactly what waste from cigarettes is leaching into the soil, streams, rivers, and oceans.

“More research is needed to determine exactly what happens to all of that,” said Nick Mallos, director of the Trash Free Seas campaign for the Ocean Conservancy. “The final question is what impact these micro-plastics and other waste have on human health.”

Do We Even Need Filters?

Filters were made in the mid-20th century to help mitigate growing concerns in regards to the health impacts of tobacco. It was determined that filters weren’t even able to control the carcinogenic compounds from smoking. Then “filters became a marketing tool, designed to recruit and keep smokers as consumers of these hazardous products,” according to research conducted by Bradley Harris, a graduate scholar in the history of science and technology at Stanford University.

How Can We Take Action?

Are you a smoker? If so it is up to you to take responsibility for the proper disposal of your butts. This may even be enough of a drawback from smoking that it may inspire you to quit. If not, there are many options available. One being, rolling your own cigarettes, and either just going filter-less or using a reusable, cleanable filter. The mass produced, chemical-laden, filtered cigarettes are hardly ideal. It is possible to get organically grown, additive free tobacco, which would be much less harmful to you.

What can you do to minimize your impact? Change starts with us! We can all do our part.

Frankincense Can Help Alleviate Symptoms Of Anxiety & Depression

Gold and frankincense and myrrh… sound familiar? These were the gifts that were allegedly brought by the three kings when Jesus Christ was born. We all know that gold is valuable, but what about the others? Frankincense has long been touted as a magical, mystical medicine and has been regarded as such for millennia within many ancient cultures of the world. The same goes for myrrh, but for the purpose of this article we are going to stick to the medicinal properties of frankincense.

Frankincense starts out as a type of resinous sap that is found inside a special family of trees called Boswellia, which grow almost exclusively in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. When it is harvested at specific times of the year, the trees are cut carefully with special knives and the sap seeps out. This special sap is then dried in the sun until it is ready for use. More commonly, frankincense is burned simply as sweet smelling incense, but it has many other uses as well including the following…

Historical Uses Of Frankincense

  • As a part of ritual or religious ceremonies
  • Was used extensively during burial rituals as an embalming material to help mask the odor of the deceased body
  • Smoke from burnt incense can effectively drive away mosquitoes and other pests

Frankincense has also been used medicinally, treating various ailments such as arthritis (it has strong anti-inflammatory properties), gut disorders (like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), asthma, and maintenance of oral health.

And perhaps the most intriguing quality for our westernized modern culture is the psychoactive effects of this special resin, as studies have shown that burning frankincense can trigger an effect that can aid and even alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Research

One study in particular, conducted by a team of researchers form John Hopkins University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, explains how burning the resin from the Boswellia plant (frankincense) activates certain previously misunderstood ion channels in the brain in order to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. This might explain why Roman emperor Nero once burned an entire year’s harvest of frankincense at his favorite mistress’ funeral.

“In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity,” said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study’s co-authors. “We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.”

The researchers administered incensole acetate to mice in order to determine its psychoactive effects. This compound they found drastically impacted the parts of the brain that generate emotions and the nerve circuits that have responded positively to current drugs used for depression and anxiety. The incensole that was administered activated a protein called TRPV3, which is connected to the ability to perceive warmth of the skin.

“Perhaps Marx wasn’t too wrong when he called religion the opium of the people: morphine comes from poppies, cannabinoids from marijuana, and LSD from mushrooms; each of these has been used in one or another religious ceremony,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Studies of how those psychoactive drugs work have helped us understand modern neurobiology. The discovery of how incensole acetate, purified from frankincense, works on specific targets in the brain should also help us understand diseases of the nervous system. This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!”

Can This Work For You?

Sure, this study was conducted using mice, which certainly aren’t the same as humans. However, many religious texts claim that this special resin had uplifting effects on the brain. So, the good thing is that if used appropriately, it really can’t hurt to try. You can typically buy the resin at health food stores and more commonly at stores that sell incense, crystals, sage and those sorts of spiritual ceremonial tools. It can also be found as an essential oil. I like to diffuse it in a diffuser, and sometimes I’ll burn the resin on charcoal pucks as well.

At the very least, you’ll get a nice and pleasant smelling aroma, and at best it can help turn that frown upside down, increase your mood, reduce your anxiety and maybe even put a smile on your face. Perhaps those three wise men were as wise as they’ve been made out to be, and frankincense really is as special as it’s been believed to be for millennia.

The Forgotten Art Of Squatting: An Antidote For Damage Done To Our Bodies From Sitting?

The invention of the chair was really a total game changer in regards to how our bodies function and which parts of the body we are using on a regular basis. The chair took all of that pressure off of our rears and backs, and relieved some of our weight for us. Of course, we always had the option to sit on the ground or perhaps in a tree, but the chair became such a fundamental piece of furniture in our lives that it absolutely changed how our bodies function.

By now, most of us are aware of just how detrimental it can be to our bodies to sit for a prolonged period of time, in fact, some researchers are even going as far as to say that sitting is the new smoking in terms of the potential damage it can cause to our bodies. With so many of us, myself included, working desk jobs on computers this really is important information to be aware of. Sitting is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Luckily, as the awareness grows towards this important health issue, we are seeing many new designs for standing desks, or things like core chairs that are aimed to utilize the muscles in our body and effectively relieve the issues that too much sitting can cause. But is there a much simpler option that humans have forgotten?

How The Forgotten Art Of Squatting Can Help You

Squatting is essentially a position of the body that humans have used for thousands of years, and in many cultures is still being used today. If you practice yoga, you might know this position as a Malasana, which is essentially a deep squat. A yoga instructor once said that a guru told them that “the problem with the west is that they don’t squat.” This is so true, if you aren’t someone who practices yoga or – does squats during a workout, when are you really going to squat? If we feel like taking a rest, we’re definitely choosing the chair or the big comfy couch before squatting down. We eat in chairs, sit in our cars and on the train, sit on the toilet – essentially, we are often only not sitting when we are walking from one chair to the next. In fact, many of us probably couldn’t even squat down to the ground if we tried, not without some serious stretching first at least.

Our lack of squatting has bio-mechanical and physiological implications, but perhaps it is inhibiting us from the grounding force that this posture provides as well. The lack of squatting is actually only really an issue for the westernized civilizations as there are many cultures around the world that are squatting down any chance they get, to eat, to pray, to use the toilet – yes, squatting toilets are the norm in Asia, and actually make way more sense. Squatting, in more undeveloped nations is also the most common way for women to give birth, and again when you really think about it, it also makes much more sense than lying on your back in a hospital bed.

In these “less advanced” cultures, the rich and middle class are not squatting either, as it is generally seen as something that the poor do as it is uncomfortable and actually causes the body to work. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”? Well, this can be said in regards to squatting because if you were to give it a try now, you may find it very difficult, especially for a prolonged period of time. But, our bodies are amazing organisms and they can always transform.

According to author and osteopath, Philip Beach, “The game started with squatting,”  Beach is known for pioneering the idea of “archetypal postures.” These positions—which, in addition to a deep passive squat with the feet flat on the floor, include sitting cross-legged and kneeling on one’s knees and heels—are not just good for us, but according to beach they are  “deeply embedded into the way our bodies are built.”

“You really don’t understand human bodies until you realize how important these postures are,” Beach, who is based in Wellington, New Zealand, tells me. “Here in New Zealand, it’s cold and wet and muddy. Without modern trousers, I wouldn’t want to put my backside in the cold wet mud, so  [in absence of a chair] I would spend a lot of time squatting. The same thing with going to the toilet. The whole way your physiology is built is around these postures.”

Why Is Squatting Good For Us?

According to Dr. Bahram Jam, founder of Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute in Ontario, Canada, “Every joint in our body has synovial fluid in it. This is the oil in our body that provides nutrition to the cartilage,” Jam says. “Two things are required to produce that fluid: movement and compression. So if a joint doesn’t go through its full range—if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees—the body says ‘I’m not being used’ and starts to degenerate and stops the production of synovial fluid.”

A healthy musculoskeletal system is much more important for our health than just helping us to feel limber, strong and flexible, a study published in 2014 from the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that those participants who had a difficult time getting up off the floor without support of hands, elbows or leg remarkably resulted in having a three-year-year shorter life expectancy than those who got up with ease.

So, Why Did We Stop Squatting?

It seems that in the West, we stopped squatting around the same time as the modern seated toilet came into our existence. It might not seem like this alone would be a cause for such a drastic change to our physiology, but as Jam says, “The reason squatting is so uncomfortable because we don’t do it,” Jam says. “But if you go to the restroom once or twice a day for a bowel movement and five times a day for bladder function, that’s five or six times a day you’ve squatted.”

As we sit in our office chairs, staring at our computers in our office attire, for men slacks and dress shirts and often for women pencil skirts and dresses – can you even imagine trying to squat or sit cross-legged? Both of which would be much better for our health than sitting in chairs. It’s interesting how we seem to think we’ve come so far, and that we are much more civilised and advanced, but really we aren’t doing ourselves any favors with this arrogant attitude.

“It’s considered primitive and of low social status to squat somewhere,” says Jam. “When we think of squatting we think of a peasant in India, or an African village tribesman, or an unhygienic city floor. We think we’ve evolved past that—but really we’ve devolved away from it.”

Time To Start Squatting?

If you can, practice squatting down a few times a day. If you can’t, start by stretching your body and getting down as low as you can, if you are very rigid, it may take time, but doing some light stretching or yoga daily can assist you with this process. It is very good for our health! Especially if you are sitting on a chair all day at your place of employment, you might want to consider setting a reminder on your phone to remind you to get up and squat down at least a few times a day.

All the best!

More Public Schools Are Choosing Meditation Over Detention

Public schools in Pittsburgh are now joining the growing number of forward-thinking educators by bringing mindfulness practices into the daily schedule for students. As more observe the beneficial outcomes from the practice of meditation rather than what many feel to be archaic methods of disciplinary tactics, the more we begin to see these practices catch on.

We already know that the traditional education system needs some work, in more ways than one. Many children are faced with a lot of stress and pressure from the demands of the public education system. Children are also subject to various social pressures that arise at school. Robert Scherrer, Superintendent at North Allegheny, brought mindfulness practices into his schools for this exact purpose, he commented,

“We realize that a number of our students were experiencing tremendous amounts of stress. We wanted to teach them some strategies and techniques that could really help them deal with that stress.”

School children, especially those attending schools in the U.S. are under even more pressure and stress because of the much-too-frequent school shootings and thus increased security, lockdown drills and a rising tension in their environment. No doubt that meditation can help the students to remain calm and hopefully release any fear and anxiety that may be lingering because of these unfortunate acts of violence.

Meditation Instead Of Detention

Some schools are opting to try meditation before detention to get the results they are after and also to try and prevent the issue from happening again. Pittsburgh wasn’t the first school to do this, San Francisco has had great success with these programs a few years ago, NBC News reported,

NBC correspondent Cynthia McFadden asked O’Driscoll what he first thought of this new tactic,

So did you buy into this in the beginning, or were you like, hold on a minute, meditation?

I thought it was a joke. I thought, this is ‘hippie’ stuff that didn’t work in the 70’s so how is it going to work  now?” O’Driscoll admitted.

But it wasn’t long until the skeptical coach was made a believer. Four years after ‘Quiet Time’ was introduced into the daily regime of the grade school students, some remarkable results were shown, including a 79% decrease in suspensions, an increase in attendance to 98.3%, and an overall increase of GPA by .4.

Today, over 1500 students and 170 staffers have been trained in transcendental meditation in four schools, including Burton High, a place once known as ‘fight school’.

Bill Kappenhaggen, principal at Burton High, admitted he was initially worried about taking time out of the student’s academic schedule, so he increased the school day by half an hour to make time for meditation. But his worry proved wrong, as the school has already seen a 75% decrease in suspensions and a successful jump from the bottom of California’s academic ladder to a rightful spot in the upper middle level of achievement. 

Some of the students from Burton high explained what this new practice has done for them,

It makes you more conscious of your actions,” one female student explained.

It brings you down to that [level of] ‘calmness’,” another male said.

A young student named Tobias revealed that meditation even helped him deal with his insistent anger, “[Before this], I always wanted to fight everybody for some reason.” 

In a closing interview, McFadden asked Principal Kappenhaggen if he really thought it was possible for meditation to change the violence and stresses outside the school walls, to which he responded, “I do not, but I do believe [that it] can help change the way the [students] deal with the violence, the trauma, and the stresses of everyday life.”

With Awareness Comes Change

Seems like finally, we are coming to terms with the fact that the old methods of doing things, including many in the public school sector, simply aren’t working anymore. Out with the old, it’s time to embrace the new. Hopefully, the alternative of teaching students these mindfulness practices will continue to spread so these kids can gain the tools that may help them with stepping into their potential and being able to maintain a healthy state of mind.

Brené Brown Explains The Crucial Difference Between Sympathy & Empathy

For the most part we strive to be there for our friends and family members during difficult times. However we don’t always realize that in an effort to assist, often using positive reinforcement, or comparison techniques we might actually be making things worse. Sometimes, we are unintentionally showing up in all the wrong ways for our loved ones. It’s important to know the difference between sympathy and empathy and how these reactions could either create more pain from unmet needs for those who are struggling or allow the space for a deeper connection and understanding by offering the space to others to feel their feelings.

Brené Brown is an expert on the topics of vulnerability, shame, courage and empathy. She has written 5 New York Times Bestsellers and offers us all a deeper insight to the potential for much deeper authentic connection with others and to ourselves as well. The following video contains a cute little cartoon paired up with Brené’s words describing the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy Vs. Empathy


“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~ Brené Brown

It’s funny how we think we are being helpful, but as it turns out we are unknowingly brushing off the feelings of others. Offering sympathy instead of empathy is similar to when we tell people to “think positive,” as it bypasses actually allowing ourselves to feel our emotions. When our loved ones are having a hard time with something, we are quick to try and fix or change the situation instead of just allowing it to be.

It’s as if we are all just so afraid of letting the pain be there, that we try to brush it off as quickly as possible. Unfortunately as described in the video, this isn’t actually helping, but providing a temporary band-aid instead. In turn, the people who are in pain often don’t feel emotionally met and can feel even more upset, even though they know you have good intentions. To be fair, for the most part we haven’t been taught these emotional skills so many of us are lacking in that department.

The Importance Of Feeling Our Feelings

This is a good reminder to not only allow others the space to feel their feelings without trying to change them, but for yourself as well — to give yourself the time and space that you need to feel what’s happening inside of you.

If something comes up, and emotion is starting to build up inside of you, instead of grabbing your phone, eating something, or using a substance — try feeling it fully instead! It can be very helpful to label the emotion you’re feeling, i.e. I feel hurt right now.

Then feel it, feel it fully, cry if you need to, feel where it hurts in your body, do whatever you need to do to allow yourself to actually feel the emotion.It will help to process and release it, that way you won’t have to hold onto it, or store it in your body.

As a good friend once told me,

“See what there is to see, feel what there is to feel and you will heal. “

This might sound simple, and that’s because it is! It’s a lot easier to process and feel our emotions than to stuff them down and ignore them, which inevitably will cause more pain and suffering down the road.

Feeling our feelings, who would have thought? ?

Studies Show That Writing In A Journal Can Benefit Your Emotional & Physical Well-Being

If you have read any of my previous articles, you may already know that I am a huge advocate of keeping a journal, or diary or notebook – whichever term you like best to describe the act of writing out your thoughts on paper, or if you prefer, typing them out on a screen.

Personally, journaling is something that has helped me get through some really tough times in my life and is also a great tool for just allowing some new perspective and a space to vent without judgment or advice. But for all of those skeptics out there who don’t understand how something like this could actually help, well, there’s science to prove it.

Scientific Evidence To Prove How Journaling Helps

Psychologists from the University of California were able to investigate the effect of journaling by inviting 20 volunteers to visit the lab for a brain scan before asking them to write for 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Half of the participants wrote about a fairly recent emotional experience, while the other half of the participants wrote about something neutral.

Those who chose to write about an emotional experience showed more activity in the part of the brain called the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. In turn, this relaxed neural activity that is linked to strong emotional feelings.

According to Lieberman, men seemed to benefit from writing about their feelings more so than women, and writing by hand seemed to have a bigger effect than typing on a keyboard. That’s an interesting note: could men benefit from journaling more because in general they tend to keep their feelings to themselves? A journal can certainly act as a safe space for emotionally deprived men to vent.

“Men tend to show greater benefits and that is a bit counterintuitive. But the reason might be that women more freely put their feelings into words, so this is less of a novel experience for them. For men it’s more of a novelty,” Lieberman said.

Aside from drastic improvements to your mood and emotional well-being, writing out your thoughts and feelings regularly can actually benefit your physical health as well. Journaling can increase your chance of fighting specific diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS and cancer. Amazingly, it can even help physical wounds heal faster.

A study conducted in 2013 found that 76% of adults who spent 20 minutes a day journaling for three days in a row before a scheduled medical biopsy were fully healed 11 days later. On the other hand, 58% of the control group had not yet recovered. The study concluded that just one hour of writing about a distressing event helped the participants to better understand the events and reduce stress levels.

Lead researcher on expressive writing at the University of Texas and author of Writing To Heal, James W. Pennebaker, has found that by translating our experiences into our own language by writing it out, we are able to make the experience more comprehendible.

Pennebaker says: “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are — our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves…writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”

The Most Efficient Way To Cope With A Big Life Change Is To Journal

Journaling will help you to get over a break-up or cope with other up and down relationships in your life. While it may seem to be overanalyzing, studies have shown that venting about a past relationship actually helps to speed up emotional recovery and can help build a stronger sense of self-identity following a break-up. I don’t know about you, but this is something that I wish I would have done after break-ups that leave you feeling lost and like you don’t know who you are anymore.

By venting I don’t mean to your friends. While this certainly can help, the act of writing, with a pen or pencil, will provide you with the most health benefits.

“Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational,” Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist and journaling expert, told Fast Company. “While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit, and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”

Journaling Can Provide Long-Term Benefits

Journaling helps you to cope with the experience at hand but it can also help to prepare you to face similar experiences in the future.

“Journal therapy is all about using personal material as a way of documenting an experience, and learning more about yourself in the process,” Kathleen Adams, a psychotherapist and author of Journal to the Self, told the Huffington Post. “It lets us say what’s on our minds and helps us get — and stay — healthy through listening to our inner desires and needs.”

The process of journaling allows you to get to know yourself through your feelings and experiences. It’s just plain and simply writing out your feelings. This is different than just thinking because it is more streamline; you aren’t going back and forth or writing the same thing down over and over again.

You can start right now, or the next time you’re feeling particularly stressed about something. It’s so simple you might as well give it a shot! What do you have to lose? It just might help you more than you might have imagined! Plus, wouldn’t it be fun to look back at the big events that happened in your life in 20 years or longer and see how you were able to deal with the situations? It could even provide you with some insight on how to handle situations you are faced with in the future.

We are constantly being faced with challenges. This is what life is all about, but our reactions to those challenges is what defines who we are. Are we strong and capable or are we weak and playing a victim? The choice is ours!

Much Love