Paradise Within a Paradise.

I drove to the far east of the Island and found this deserted white sandy beach; it seemed like a gift just for me since my body was craving to do walking meditation in the hot sun.I felt blissful after I had finished. Here is the beach, the walking meditation you have to do yourself!

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Walk Through Healing Garden In The Bahamas.

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I was going to write about choosing wisely the community one is going to live, but life has other plans for me for the moment. I went from feeling hot whilst cross country skiing in Pigeon Lake, to Washington DC for a brief three day conference where the weather had been colder than usual according to reliable source – the local taxi driver; and so the cherry blossoms were not blooming, delayed by two weeks. Sad – at least for me because I will not be in Washington in two weeks. I am now in Bahamas trying to get warm again. I packed a sweater just in case the air conditioning is on full blast in the shops and at the restaurants. I do try to avoid them but one needs fuel up once in a while!

I have always been curious about the Bahamas ever since my neighbour, from long past, invited us to their estate because they liked the design of the house we had built in the vicinity. They obviously left a little impression on me because they could swing on a rope like a Tarzan from their bedrooms right into an indoor swimming pool in the middle of their house and they owned a private Island in the Bahamas. I am finally here and I am going to share with you taste of my walk in a Healing Garden in The Bahamas. Enjoy and be well.

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The Importance of Good Sleep and How to Get it.

I have already talked about the importance of right eating and exercising to enrich our soil so we may enjoy health and vitality. Another component of “rich soil” is getting a good sleep.

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Poor sleep leads to serious health consequences in a relatively short time period as compared with eating bad food or not getting enough exercise. Our brain regulates sleep so that if we don’t get enough we developed a sleep debt and our brain works very hard to force us to pay it back. This means whenever there is a quite moment like when we are driving or maybe operating heavy machinery our brain will cause us to sleep resulting in injuries, disasters, and death. In the United States 10,000 deaths are reported from falling asleep whilst driving; this figure is thought to be underestimated of the actual figures.

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The lack of sleep also affects our mood, poor cognitive performance, poor memory, impaired ability to learn and low energy level. Long-term effects include Obesity, Diabetes, Impaired insulin sensitivity, Arrhythmia, Heart attacks, Strokes, Depression and low resistance to infectious diseases.

  • “Studies show short sleepers are three times more likely to develop colds than comparable individuals who average 8 hours of sleep.”
  • “Individuals with sleep problems were 9 times more likely to have planned suicide and 7.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide. Recent studies of suicidal patients showed that treating their sleep disorders led to healthier scores on clinical scales that measure suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

– Professor H. Craig Heller.

How to improve sleep?

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Drugs.

For short-term only, to get into a sleeping rhythm, OTC remedies or prescription drugs can be used. OTC remedies include diphenhydramine or Melatonin. Prescription drugs include Benzodiazepine such as clonazepam, Valium and Non – Benzodiazepines such as Imovane or Restoril. Sometimes tricyclic antidepressants can also we used to induce sleep very effectively; these include Trazodone, Amitriptyline and Doxepin.

Sleep hygiene

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The most importance aspect of good sleeping is getting the “sleep hygiene” right. This include:–

  1. Keep regular schedule of sleep and awaking- even on the weekend- your biological clock then wouldn’t fight with you.
  2. Sleep only as much as you need to feel rested, don’t over sleep – this will only interfere with the sleep on the following day.
  3. Do not force yourself to sleep – you don’t want to reinforce that sleep is a chore or difficult.
  4. Maintain good sleeping environment – no noise, comfortable and relaxing; not too hot or cold.
  5. Exercise regularly at least 2 twenty minutes per day – avoid intense exercise just before bed.
  6. Avoid caffeinated beverages from mid- afternoon. Do not smoke.
  7. Don’t eat just before bed but don’t go to bed hungry either.
  8. Don’t take your worries to bed.

Other useful techniques.

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Cognitive Behavior therapy help improve sleep by changing your ideas and attitudes towards sleep. It helps to create and maintain a strong association between sleep and bed.

Relaxation techniques nearing bedtime: a warm bath, calm music, meditation and yoga. Involves clearing your mind and focusing on one part of your body at a time. Starting with your feet, consciously relax your toes, your ankles, your lower legs and so on.

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Resources

Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to disorders

By Professor H. Craig Heller.

Exercise for Healthy Enriched Life

8522221692_920b10c251_m8520169087_7481e414aa_m8520790009_bc32e276fb_m I talked about how plants need good soil and the right conditions to flourish, look good and bear fruit. We humans also need good soil and the right conditions to live well and flourish. We looked at enriching our soil by eating the right foods but that is not enough by itself. We can improve the soil even further with exercise. In societies where people are healthy and livelong lives exercise was an integral part of what they did everyday, it was a side benefit of what they did to meet their basic need. They didn’t have a particular exercise program and nor did they need special equipment; they just moved their bodies for most of the day. 8521078390_8d1935dee8_m8520994917_406851172a_m Studies have consistently shown moving our bodies and exercising is associated with not only good health but longevity. In our society we tend to think of exercise as work, it is much better and more likely to be done regularly if it is a by-product of something you enjoy doing or as part of work routine. It could be gardening, biking, swimming, hiking, skating, cross-country skiing or anything else you might enjoy as long as it gets you moving most of the day. I myself try to keep moving by taking the stairs in the hospital instead of the elevator, park my car further away as possible from the store and my job also requires me to keep moving by having to go to see patients from one room to another in my office and in the hospital. Part of my activity to be on my feet is intentional and part of it is built into my job. I augment my bodies movements by cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer because I enjoy these activities. 8521471342_1368219b13_m8523614874_b70333cb71_m The main physical benefits of exercise include increases in strength in muscles, bone, ligaments, and tendons; endurance; flexibility; and balance. Side benefits include weight control, improvements in the serum lipid profile (exercise raises HDL cholesterol), and reduction in blood pressure. Exercise can also reverse and possibly prevent type-2 diabetes. Exercise stimulates brain cells and tends to make people more relaxed. It creates opportunities for social connections and for connection with nature. In addition, exercise increases the muscle-to-fat ratio…[and weight-bearing exercises strengthen your bones].  Exercise is absolutely the single most consistent factor in staving off cognitive decline that occurs with aging. …Professor Anthony A. Goodman, Montana State University If you haven’t been exercising where should you begin? If you haven’t been active at all and you should start slow. You may even want to talk to your doctor before starting . Good indicators of fitness level can be your resting pulse rate, average is about 70. The other indicator is the recovery time. You exercise to 80 percent of maximum heart rate for your age and then see how long it takes to return to under 100. With low-level of fitness the longer it will take to recover. You can monitor your fitness improvement with this measurement over time. The maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. You can get more details on the recovery time on these sites :-

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/difference-heart-rate-recovery-time-after-workout-8281.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/260805-the-recovery-heart-rate-time-after-cardio-exercise/

Set realistic goals. Consider your work schedule and other commitments you have. The aim is to move as much as possible everyday and then, at least three days a week, include some strenuous activity that gets your heart rate up and gets you sweating. During aerobic exercise, aim for about 80 percent of the maximum heart rate for you age group. In general, avoid training hard more than three times a week or every other day. Exercise and may you live long and with vitality.

Resources

Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age Course Guidebook Professor Anthony A. Goodman Montana State University

Related articles

Eating The Right Food – Part 4

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Vitamins and Supplements. 

Vitamins are nutrients that our bodies can’t manufacture, so we need them from external sources. There seems to be no difference between natural and synthetic vitamins. The difference seems to be in the fact that when you get them from food they are more effective. It is thought that maybe other chemicals (phytochemical) from the plants are acting with the vitamins to make them more effective; and further we get vitamins from food in the right proportions to these chemicals. To put it in another way; taking vitamins in pill form doesn’t allow our body to use them synergistically with other nutrients under optimal conditions.

The functions of vitamins include acting as a hormone messengers (vitamin D), regulators of tissue growth and cell differentiation (Vitamin A), and antioxidants (vitamin A, C, and E).

You may have heard that people who take supplements and vitamins are generally healthier than the rest of us. That maybe true but it’s not from taking supplements. Michael Pollen in his book “ In defense of food” suggests that these people are healthier not because of them taking the supplements but because they are typically more health conscious, better educated and more affluent. This means they eat healthy diet mentioned in my previous posts, they sleep at least seven hours, exercise and manage their stress more effectively. Studies certainly confirm that taking vitamins in a form of a pill does not confer the benefit. Taking Vitamins in high doses may actually do more harm.

Dietary Supplements are nutrients and chemicals that when added to a diet might lower the risk for some health problems and might improve overall bodily function.

Antioxidants are major category of supplements. They protect the damage to the cells by neutralizing free radicals and their intermediates. The sources of destructive free radicals include ultraviolet and other forms of radiation, toxins, and pollutants. Free radicals contribute to the development of many diseases. We have both internal and external naturally occurring antioxidants. Glutathione is one, along with vitamins C and E and numerous enzymes. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are dietary sources of antioxidants. Recent research suggests that mega-doses of antioxidants taken, as supplements cannot prevent heart disease or diabetes as it was hoped. Large doses may actually be harmful. Rather, it is better to pig out on carrots, sweat potatoes, chard, asparagus, papaya, prunes, oranges. …and the whole vast arrays of foods that are delicious and are good for you

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Calcium is used to prevent osteoporosis, it has also been suggested that it may have value for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. Conclusive evidence in this regard is not yet available but we do know that too much calcium may actually be bad for your heart. This is unlikely to happen if we relay on food as a source of calcium, such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.

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Fiber is another commonly used supplement, which keeps bowels soft and may help to eliminate toxic wastes.  There is some evidence that it may offer some protection from heart disease, colon and breast cancer, and lower blood sugar in diabetics.

Herbal supplements commonly used include ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and Echinacea; however there is very little science to back up their claims.

Polyphenols are organic chemicals that belong to a family of several thousand compounds referred to as flavonoids. They are found many fruits, berries, pomegranates, grapes, wine, walnuts, olive oil, chocolate, cocoa, coffee, and tea. Their antioxidant properties can reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Garlic has allicin and turmeric has curcumin , both are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Recent studies suggest allicin improves lipoprotein balance and may reduce arteriosclerosis and fat deposition in blood vessels.

Finally, probiotics are active bacteria found in yogurt and are sold as supplements. Their active bacteria is good for you but you may not need it all the time.

There are situations when supplements can be helpful, but not everyone needs a supplement and they may not need them all the time. Probiotics are useful when you take antibiotics or have diarrhea. As we age our ability to absorb supplements, vitamins and minerals from food decline. It is suggested by some that its probably is a good idea and it certainly can’t do hurt to take multivitamin and mineral pill after age fifty.  It would not be a good idea to take more than twice the Recommended Daily Allowance.

This is a very general guideline about vitamins and supplements. The specifics can be different for everyone and one should discuss them with a dietician and your doctor.

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Resources

The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

In Defence of Food – by Michael Pollan

Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well- Being at Any Age  – By Professor Anthony A. Goodman.

 

Eating the Right Foods – part 3

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Food allergies and food sensitivities.

When people are allergic to some food, they may experience mild to severe allergic reaction ranging from mild rash, tingling of mouth, swelling of lips or eye, to the other extreme of a severe anaphylactic reaction when the whole face may swell up, with generalized rash, choking, inability to breath and death. This type of reaction happens quickly.

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There are lots of people who may not be allergic to a particular food but are sensitive to them. This causes chronic irritation and inflammation. It may manifest itself by a person experiencing vague symptoms such as fatigue, trouble sleeping, mental fogginess, mood changes, irritability, anger, skin irritation or a skin rash. Joint pain, gas , bloating, nasal congestion, post nasal drip, recurrent ear or sinus infections can also be related to food allergies.

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If you have any or some of these symptoms then there is good likelihood you have food sensitivity. The most common food groups implicated to food sensitivities are: dairy, gluten, corn, soy, peanuts and eggs.

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Elimination diet.

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How does one find out what you maybe sensitive to? There are no good laboratory tests that can identify what you maybe sensitive too. The only way to sort it out by a process called elimination diet. First you eliminate all food groups from the diet for two weeks. Then you reintroduce one food at a time for one day and notice if the symptoms come back when a food group is reintroduced. If the symptoms come back during the following two days then you are likely sensitive to that food group, continue reintroducing new food group every third day until all are tested one at a time.

Those food group identified as causing symptoms are then eliminated from the diet forever and hopefully you feel lot better. One generally work with a dietician when going on an elimination diet.

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Resources:

The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

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Eating the Right Foods – part 2.

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Why inflammation matters.

There are some foods that cause inflammation and some food stop the inflammation. Why should inflammation matter? It matters because medical science is starting to understand inflammation maybe the starting point for all diseases. Take heart attacks for example, we are beginning to understand that lowering high cholesterol is only part of the prevention. First the inflammation starts in the walls of coronary arteries, that triggers the cholesterol to be deposited on the walls of the arteries that are inflamed, these deposits build up until eventually the flow of  the blood completely stops and thus causing a heart attack. It is thought Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Heart Disease are all linked to the inflammation. There are many other diseases in which inflammation is present but it is not clear where in the process of disease formation the inflammation happens, at the beginning or end of the disease process. These diseases, to mention some, are Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, ankylosing spondylitis, SLE,  dermatomyositis, sacroiliitis etc. It doesn’t matter where in the process the inflammation happens, if it is causing harm it makes sense to turn it off.

The causes of inflammation.

There are number factors that cause bad inflammation, these include some foods I have listed below, stress, polluted air, chemical irritants, second hand smoke, pesticides, chronic infections such as Helicobacter pylori, fat around the midline of your body, chronic sleep disturbance and sleep apnea. To turn the inflammation off, correct as many of the above as possible.

Inflammation causing foods.

Avoid or eliminate the following :-

Sugar in the form of corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, and sucrose.

Oils that is very high in omega-6, such as grape seed oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.

Trans fats, they are found deep fried foods, commercially prepared baked goods, fast foods and they usually appear on the label as partially hydrogenated oils.

Cow’s milk can also lead to inflammation.

Cured meats and red meats contain substance called neu5Gc which causes inflammation.

Excessive alcohol consumption.

Consumption of refined grains, such as white bread and white rice.

Artificial food additives such as monosodium glutamate and aspartame.

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Preventing inflammation with food and Herbs.

Use these foods as much as possible:-

Eat  whole foods and avoid anything processed.

Eat fish high in Omega-3

Eat Kelp ( seaweed)

Eat whole fruits and vegetable.

Use olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil; these all have better ratio of omega-3 : omega-6

Avoid drinking from plastic bottles.

Drink black and green tea

Eat broccoli, shitake mushrooms

Have Tulsi or Holy Basil

Use Tumeric, Ginger, Basil and rosemary in your cooking.

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Resources:

The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

Eating The Right Foods- Part 1.

Hypocrites said,  “Food is Medicine.”

In ayurvedic medicine there is proverb that says, “ With the right food medicine is of no use and with the wrong food medicine is of no use.”

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There is still truth in this ancient wisdom and science is confirming the same.

Studies comparing Rural Chinese diet with USA diet shows what we eat matters if we want to avoid ill health. In the USA it was noted that the fat intake was twice as much, fiber intake was three times lower and animal protein (beef, pork, lamb) was ninety percent higher when compared with the Rural Chinese diet. In the USA the heart diseases was 16 times higher in men, five times higher in women and higher Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Cancer and Hypertension when compared with Rural Chinese. These differences in the diseases were attributed to the difference in the food people eat in the two countries.

Scientists are now also discovering how these foods affect and change our physiology when we eat them. High fat meal for example can impair the blood flow to the heart muscle for up to six hours, in addition to the long term narrowing of the blood vessels. Its is not uncommon that if someone has a poor blood supply to the heart muscle they will get heart pain or a heart attack after a high fat meal; because the fat doesn’t allow the blood vessels to dilate up to six hours.

Red meat and cured meats are linked to colon cancer according to one study completed in 2010. Other evidence comparing indigenous Africans with USA Africans shows that African living in Africa who eat very high fiber diet have 1 in 100 000, where as USA Africans the cancer rate is much higher, 1 in 2000. This is linked to having higher red and cured meats; and low fiber in the USA diet.

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Another study in 2010 showed women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and were on high red and cured meat diet had poor clinical outcome compared with those who were on low red meat diet.

There is also some evidence linking obesity to having more cancer. The obesity is related to eating too many simple carbohydrates and sugars in the North American diet.

The good news is that there are foods that keep us healthy. Study done on people who already had coronary artery heart disease and who were put on Mediterranean diet for five years showed seventy percent reductions in cardiovascular events, eighty percent reduced spread of cancers and people developing cancer later in life was also reduced. The Mediterranean diet consists of more beans, veggies and lentils. To use canola oil or olive oil, eliminate saturated fats from beef, pork, and lamb and also eliminate butter and cream.

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Other research confirms the above findings and healthy eating is never too late to start. Another study shows benefits in older people, from age seventy to ninety year olds who were told to follow Mediterranean diet and walk one to one and half miles a day; there was fifty percent reduction in cardiac events and mortality.

Science is discovering what is in the Mediterranean diet that makes it so good for us to eat. It has to do with the right fats, right carbohydrates and the right micronutrients. We will look at these in more details in the future post.

Resources:

In Defence of Food – by Michael Pollan

The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri

The strength of your soil is crucial if you are to stay healthy and live a long life.

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When the trees in our yard or the houseplants in the house are not doing well, the leaves dry, turn brown and fall off. When we stop to wonder what the cause might be, our usual response is to check the soil, make sure there is right amount of moisture in the soil, check its getting the right amount of exposure to light and we may even provide the proper plant food. After we checked and corrected the conditions for the plants they usually thrive.

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Humans are not that different. They too need the right conditions to thrive. Yet when we are not doing well our immediate impulse is to take a pill for the problem. It would be nice if we were to ask the question, “I’m I living under the right conditions?” Is the moisture of my soil ok, have I got enough light, I’m I eating the right food, I’m I living in the right environment etc. If we don’t provide the right conditions for ourselves its unlikely we will ever feel our optimal best. Its only in the recent years we are beginning to see the strong link between the ‘conditions we are under’ and whether a good or bad genes that’s going to get turned on; under optimal conditions for example, lot of the cancer genes get turned off. Under horrible conditions lot of the cancer genes get turned on. Just as for the plants, we need to make sure we are living under optimal conditions.

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So what are the right conditions? What strengthens our soil? Here is the basic list: –

1.Eat the right food.

2.Exercise.

3.Get enough sleep

4.Live in the right community.

5.Orientation of having the glass half full not empty.

6.Connect with your spirituality.

7.Choose your parents wisely!!!!! …. Just kidding. …They do provide us with the genes we carry and the early environment, both of which are important, as we will see in the future posts.

I have covered some of these before but its no harm in reviewing them again in the up coming posts.

You may also want to review the past posts too.

https://drchana.com/2011/11/

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Love found, love lost, love reclaimed and the role for self-compassion.

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Movies only tell us half of the story when couple fall in love, then lose love and finally somehow reclaim love. In the movies there is usually some obvious logical explanation for each step. In real life it’s not so simple and usually the couples themselves don’t fully understand how their “dream lover” turns out to be “worst nightmare.” Couples typically convince themselves that the cause of the problem is sex, money, work, poor communication, extended family, etc; and to be sure in some situations this maybe the case. Certainly, this is the sort of explanation that is usually given in the movies; unfortunately this is not the whole truth.

We may glimpse at the truth if we start from our childhood or babyhood, when we learn from our caretakers a sense of safety and emotional availability in time of distress. It is this crucial interaction with our caregivers that organizes the experience of our inner state and this will stay with us for the rest of our lives. With positive experience from our caregivers, the inner state gives us sense of ourselves, teaches us how much we can count on others to keep us safe, we learn to accept ourselves as we are, without pretending to be someone we are not, just so we may receive their love and security. When there is an intense feeling we respond appropriately, we know when to get anxious, when to get angry and how to deal with our emotions. We know how to receive care and later how to give care.

However, our inner state goes wrong when there are repeated separations from our caregiver, prolonged stress, or traumatic experiences in our early beginnings. The young child then uses whatever defenses are available, including denial, dissociation, projection of emotions to others, and many other defenses designed to protect him or her from being overwhelmed by dangerous emotions. The emotions are particularly frightening and painful if there is no one present to understand or to give comfort. These defense circuits get stored in our subcortical region of the brain that is hidden from our consciousness and it gets triggered automatically in certain situations. The defense mechanism may show up as anxiety or acting out with a pathological anger. They usually cover hidden core emotions that are too primitive for words. Sometimes by triggering emotional arousal from the past person or situation and mixing it with the current person or current situation it becomes extremely confusing to understand how powerful emotions can be generated by trivial events. It does not mean we are crazy or we are abnormal, it just mean we were unlucky and our circumstances lay down circuits that do not serve us; but we can change them.

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Couples generally seek therapy when they are caught in repetitive, bewildering, painful patterns of highly emotional interaction. They both have a narrative explanation of the problems between them each viewing the problem as lying within the other. Yet, as they describe their dissatisfaction and discomfort in the relationship, their account often reflects self- blame and inadequacy. When pressed to clarify, a partner may express numbness, bodily pain, or vague feeling of something wrong or may simply walk away from the interaction.

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This cycle can be broken and YES there is hope of turning from intimate enemies to intimate lovers.  There are studies indicating that with help, relationship can change from an insecure to secure attachment.  So even if we missed out in our childhood there is hope in our adulthood with proper help. Start with simple self-compassion and self-forgiveness. Remember, most of this is not under our control. It takes a millisecond for the subcortical process to merge past and the present emotional reactions, giving rise to intense feeling that influences reasoning and decision-making ability.

The goal is to contain the feelings rather than try to get rid of them or defend in ways that elicit destructive reactions. With the therapist’s help, partners can learn (1) to ask themselves if their perceptions are accurate for the present situation; (2) to take time out when emotions are overwhelming; (3) to question whether their behavior is getting them what they want; (4) to honor/ understand the meaning of what is happening in terms of terms of what happened in the past; and (5) to try out new ways of responding.

Resources:

The Healing Power of Emotion, Edited by Diana Fosha, Daniel J. Siegel and Marion F. Solomon

Interchange Blog

Interchange Blog

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