Kindred Media http://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Sat, 18 Apr 2015 02:59:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Quest For Wisdom: The Elixir Of Innersight http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/the-quest-for-wisdom-the-elixir-of-innersight/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/the-quest-for-wisdom-the-elixir-of-innersight/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 23:09:56 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16331 Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of modern life is the loss of the instinctual wisdom-self. No where is this more evident, than in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico where droves of pale and pasty tourists arrive each day during the summer months to bear the dust and heat, and peer reticently into things […]

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Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of modern life is the loss of the instinctual wisdom-self. No where is this more evident, than in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico where droves of pale and pasty tourists arrive each day during the summer months to bear the dust and heat, and peer reticently into things more ancient.

Known for its Anasazi origins, Santa Fe is surrounded by Indigenous communities with names that echo ancestral embrace—names like Puyé, Tesuque, Taos, Ohkay Owingeh, Pojoaque and Cochiti.

Most visitors remain outside these communities, preferring the less confronting safety of Santa Fe’s new synthetic side — the margarita-drenched bars, the shops with faux Indian crafts, and the Anglo-cowboy musicians. Those more curious, arming themselves cameras, hats, maps and sunscreen, load into tour buses and rental cars and venture up canyons and washboard back roads to behold what they don’t even know they have forgotten—the taproot into wisdom’s wellspring, our collective human legacy.

It is here, in these pueblo communities, that their members dance themselves back into mountain spirits, into bear, deer and buffalo. They dance themselves back into their ancestral lineage—two legged, four-legged, and winged.

Standing for hours, arms folded, eyes behind sunglasses, the outsiders watch the corn dancers, the buffalo and deer dancers. They hear the jingle of ankle bells, the beat of the drums, and feet pounding the dusty earth, calling to spirits, announcing their place on the common ground of this earth. There is, among the outsiders, at best a mild interest, at worst a kind of unnamable malaise and ennui, a sense that something is missing for us as modern people. But what it is, we cannot say.

While the dancers before them call out to those they remember, drum to the stories still alive in their bloodstreams, honor the wisdom gleaned through centuries of tradition, they are left with only forgetfulness.

We are wisdom-starved and have forgotten our way back in. We find substitutes instead—productivity, efficiency, data and metrics. The twenty first century is abundant with ways to access such information. At the touch of a screen we can know the stocks, the weather, the trends, the timing of our flight, our optimal sleep, and the best most efficient route through Chicago during traffic.

What is wisdom and how does one cultivate it? It has been defined as the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, intuition, common sense and insight. Wisdom is a disposition to find the truth coupled with an optimum judgment as to what actions should be taken in order to deliver the optimal outcome. What makes wisdom elusive are certain elements within that definition such as insight, truth and intuition.

In preparing to write this essay, I was overcome with uncharacteristic procrastination. Why was I so resistant? I realized it was because the subject matter intimidated me on some level. Who was I to write about wisdom? What I realized is that the very word implies some kind of authority, or dominion over. And in my striving for wisdom in my own life, I’ve felt anything but.

In fact, contrary to external impressions of what wisdom must look and feel like, my experience is that wisdom feels extremely vulnerable, unclear, and at times lonely.  So the very conjuring of the topic, and how I might write about it, and invite you the reader to explore it with me, placed me in a state of uncomfortable unknowing. The place, in fact, where wisdom is born. So let’s start there — in that dark, murky and mysterious place of the unknown.

Knowledge, in our culture, is valued over not-knowing. And even though the more obscure and lets say esoteric ways of decision-making elbowed their way into blockbuster business books with titles such as Trust Your Gut and Predictably Irrational, big data soon eclipsed the fad. ‘The gut is dead,’ announced a recent New York Times article on data optimization, ‘Long live data.’

Data is a way we can be certain, and when questioned, be backed up by reams of facts and figures. Data unites us, in an odd, cold kind of way, in the same way scientists might hover together over a petri dish. And to that end, it keeps us from feeling alone. Who’s to argue with the data?

In, 2007, when Barack Obama first visited Google’s headquarters as a candidate, he announced himself as less a torchbearer than a data connoisseur. “I am a big believer in reason and facts and evidence and science and feedback,” he said. But I wonder if Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King or Aung San Suu Kyi were data connoisseurs, would they have been as effective, inspired and inspiring?

There’s a crack in the data trance and it has to do with things innately living, the un-measurables. How does one, for example measure kindness? Delight? Joy? Grief? Trust? Depth and meaning?

Enter parenthood—where the hubris of our knowingness and certainty trips right over the extended foot of wisdom herself. I remember landing hard, face-planted in my own confidence, facts, figures and ideals. Parenthood brings us right to the bone marrow of existence. Why? Because, in the creation, protection and raising of another being, we place ourselves right at the heart of life-force itself, the home of the un-measurables, the home of mystery and the unknown. Perhaps nowhere in our lifetime is the opportunity to cultivate wisdom more available than in the formation of ourselves as parents.

Paradoxically, parenting is where we most want knowledge, and resist less than certainty. A simple search for parenting books on Amazon reveals over 103,000 unique titles. We want the data. And while being informed and knowledgeable is a commendable and necessary undertaking as a mother or father, knowledge without insight and intuition leaves us strident and righteous at worst, and impotent at best.

Perhaps that is why mother nature designed parenthood to be the ultimate and noble hero’s journey—an adventure rife with trials, temptations, thresholds, pitfalls, halls of mirrors, friends and foe. Because to parent a child, one must cultivate wisdom. And to cultivate wisdom, one must strike out on the journey. To survive the journey, wisdom must be won. The journey is nothing less than a return to your own wild and undomesticated self.

I created Kindred in 2002, because in embarking on such a journey I was astonished to discover how few resources were out there to support wisdom. We were given experts. We were given data. We were scolded and patronized. But few turned us towards ourselves. And fewer still acknowledged the heroism involved.

The trivializing tone through which media approached parenting and parents also shocked me. Like the Disney we watched with our children, we became cartoon characters of ourselves. We traded our leather filo faxes for cotton bags adorned with pastel ducks, our red stilettos for sneakers, and our degrees for Mommy-and-Me.

And in the lack of any honor and respect, any real community, or lineage of wisdom from our grandmothers and our grandfathers, we began hand wringing about every tooth, every word, every letter and every ounce.

So where along the way of this tumultuous voyage do we find our resources for wisdom-making? And how, if not backed by data, will we know it’s the real deal? What if we make a mistake? What if something gets broken along the way? What if what is wise in one moment, proves to be folly the next?

 

Culture as a Trance

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All heroes’ journeys begin with crossing a threshold. We have to leave one world and enter another. That threshold requires us to walk out of our current culture. To understand why we must cross that threshold, and look back at what we call ‘culture’, it’s important to understand what culture is, and why, to gain wisdom we have to begin to orient ourselves outside of it—to be in it but not of it.

Joseph Chilton Pearce describes culture in his book Biology of Transcendence. “Culture is a body of knowledge concerning learned survival strategies that are passed on to our young through teaching and modeling,” he writes. “It becomes the living repository of our species’ survival ideation and is at the root of every issue of survival. Culture, then, is a mutually shared anxiety state, a powerful catalyst of thought that converts all events into its own nature.”

While at its best, culture includes the highest achievements of humankind — art, music, poety. But at it’s worst, it breeds war, despotism and tyranny, as seen when certain cultures clash. Culture is the water we swim in and cannot see. When not seen for what it is, culture becomes a highly influential force in our choices and decision-making. Many imagine themselves to be free thinkers, yet their mindset is still confined within their cultural constructs.

Terrible twos, adolescent angst, pain in childbirth, early childhood ‘education’, birth as a medical condition, stranger danger, homework—are all cultural assumptions that remain intact and wield enormous influence over our lives, and our children’s lives, when unexamined.

Culture is a fundamental deviancy of intellect from intelligence (or wisdom), because of its massively unnatural, arbitrary and illogical nature. It values data over everything else. It domesticates us from intuitive vibrant beings, to dull-eyed beasts of burden.

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Clarissa Pinkola Estés provides the perfect recipe for such wisdom-depriving domesticity:

  1. Take an original.
  2. Domesticate her early, preferably before speech or locomotion.
  3. Over-socialize her in the extreme.
  4. Cause a famine for her wild nature.
  5. Isolate her from the sufferings and freedoms of others so she has nothing to compare her life with.
  6. Teach her only one point of view.
  7. Let her be needy (or dry or cold) and let all see it , yet none tell her.
  8. Let her be split off from her natural body, thereby removing her from relationship with this being.
  9. Cut her loose in an environ where she can over-kill on things previously denied her, things both exciting and dangerous.
  10. Give her friends who are also famished and encourage her to be intemperate.
  11. Let her injured instincts for prejudice and protection continue without repair.
  12. Because of her excesses (not enough food, too much food, not enough sleep, too much sleep, etc), let Death insinuate itself close by.
  13. Let her struggle with “good girl” persona restoration and succeed at it, but only from time to time.
  14. Then, and finally, let her have a frantic involvement in psychologically or physiologically addictive excesses that are deadening in and of themselves or through misuse (alcohol, sex, rage, compliance, power, etc.).
  15. Now she is captured.

(Reverse the process, and she will learn to be free.).

So, to invite wisdom into your life, requires going feral. The word feral derives from Latinfer meaning ‘wild beast’. In common usage, a feral creature is one who was once wild, domesticated, and then reverted back to a natural or untamed state. Wisdom resides in those natural and untamed states. It requires you to constantly cross that threshold, into that ‘crack where the light gets in’, and look back to see culture for what it is—nothing more than a mental creation, held together by tape and string. Only then can you be free to feel, access and participate in a hidden language as ancient as the stars, whispered between the lines in every moment.

We cannot, and should not, throw culture away. We have to live wisely and freely within it, while releasing its stronghold on our beliefs and values.

 The Ecology of Body, Community and Spirit

Once we wake up to culture, and its unnecessary grasp, then we are open to listening to the ways wisdom yearns to take a foothold in our lives. To do this, we must befriend a trinity of forces…our bodies, our communities and spirit. Together they create a potent ecology that mutually supports, nurtures, informs and protects.

Through this three-way support system, we can set up for ourselves a perpetual means to cultivate wisdom.

 

Our Bodies

The body holds, through its DNA, an ancient remembering and intuition informed by all who came before us, our ancestors and the ways they walked this earth. Each cell holds a wisdom way of knowing forged through millennia. That is why the drum beats in Indigenous ceremony around the world, so as to wake up the body through a vibrational resonance that each cell carries.

It is interesting to note that most religions, theologies and cultures vilify, objectify or mechanize the human body. “Our body are the horse our head rides around on,” writes Linda Kohanov in The Tao of Equus in her calling to refer to our bodies as a living wisdom-system, available to inform us in every moment. We treat our bodies like beasts of burden, or worse, like machines. We dull our emotions; we avoid the mess of sweat and blood; we place shame over our sexuality.

“Our culture fears all natural processes: birthing, dying, healing, living,” writes Christiane Northrup in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. “Because our culture worships science and believes that it is ‘objective,’ we think that everything labeled ‘scientific’ must be true. But science as it is currently practiced is a cultural construct rife with all the biases of the culture in general.” One of those biases is against the body, the female body in particular, and all that it feels and senses.

“Ultimately,” she continues, “I’ve found it enormously empowering to realize that no scientific study can explain exactly how and why my own particular body acts the way it does. Only our connection with our own inner guidance and our emotions is reliable in the end. That is because we each comprise a multitude of processes that have never existed before and never will again.”

She goes on to say that our entire society “functions in ways that keep us out of touch with what we know and feel.”

In this societal view, we tend to think of our internal organs as refined machines that do a particular job. The heart pumps blood. The stomach digests food. The brain thinks. However our amazing bodies are an elegant sensing, intuiting, mystery-knowing organism. A relatively new field of neuroscience called ‘neurocardiology’ and ‘neurogastroenterology’ uncovers the actual brain-functioning of the heart and gut. Both have their own independent nervous system.

Back in the 1960s, research conducted by John and Beatrice Lacey—pioneers in the field of psychophysiology—showed that the heart has its own reasoning that is not determined by directives from the brain. Subsequent investigations revealed an actual pathway and mechanism allowing the heart to send influential messages to the brain. Neurocardiology research led to the development of the concept of the “heart brain” in 1991.

The heart at least 40,000 neurons, as many as are found in various subcortical centers in the brain. The heart and brain have a two-way communication and yet, between the two, it is the heart that has final influence over the brain and not, surprisingly, the other way around. The heart is actually a governing system of the body and brain function!

The stomach also fires off signals to the brain via its own extensive network of neurons. According to Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, there are 100 million neurons in this “second brain.” This arsenal far outnumbers the neuron supply in the spinal cord or the rest of the nervous system outside of the brain. So the stomach has plenty to tell the brain as well. Research shows that about 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve—the main nerve for the gut—carry information from the gut to the brain.

Since the body—the part below the neck—has dominion over our discernment, attitudes, actions and decision making, it is time we start putting our presence and attention there. Listening to what those actual physical places in your body are ‘saying’ befriends how wisdom wants to be born inside you.

Joseph Campbell’s famous line ‘follow your bliss’ might better comprehended in a slightly less dramatic, more practical tone. ‘Go with what feels right’ might feel more graspable. It is an essential navigation tool moment to moment. My invitation to you is that you use it in parenting, in business, and in all relationships.

Invariably when I work with men and women to help them reclaim their sovereignty through their bodies’ knowing, someone always says, ‘but what if I’m wrong?’ It’s a worthy question. Fear of doing something wrong gets at the root of one of our greatest fears—doing something wrong, and because of it, I will be abandoned.

But consider for a moment, what if your body, and all of its legacy of wisdom, is trustworthy? We are told we are broken, damaged. That we were raised with attachment deficiencies, and therefore we cannot trust ourselves. And so we cling to data, formulas, cultural norms. But which would you rather trust, an elegantly synchronized anciently informed living cellular system, or a historically created fear-based mental construct?

Indeed, living from authentic wisdom instead of culturally accepted formulas, does require a radical vulnerability.

Community

Here’s where community comes in. And when I say community, I don’t mean those caught in the cultural trance, who would only encourage you to ‘stay safe’, or ‘not rock the boat’. I mean a carefully cultivated group of people that you have created who are, like you, aspiring to walk through that cultural crack and claim a wisdom-informed life. Kindred is such a community. Wise friends who believe in you and really see you are such a community.

There’s a certain freedom with letting go of constructs. How free are we within it? How must space is there to truly be ourselves? To what extent can we play? Wisdom requires listening with both inwardly and outwardly directed ears that listen not for just any whim or urge, but for our deepest, highest, most soulful desires. People who really know us, our community, know those desires, and can reflect back to us if we have strayed off track.

Good friends cheer on our authentic, bold and wise selves, and encourage us to push past our comfort levels and explore new ground, but will be there with a raised eyebrow if we’ve hit some strange extreme.

In the 90s I spent a good while with an old Indian sage. He used to say it was important to ‘surround oneself with good company.’ He meant exactly this. Systems theory reveals that a system (for example, a friendship, family or company) is influenced, either positively or negatively, by its parts. But there is a kind of irresistible gravitational pull towards lower performance. For example, take a small class of adults—if the instructor’s expectations are that each person do their projects, and he or she upholds that expectation, the class will for the most part fall in line with that expectation.

If, however, one person does not do their project, and the instructor gives no overt consequences, then the entire class will begin to slide into the vortex of that low performance, in spite of their individual high standards. Over a few days, most will not complete their projects, regardless of their intention to succeed.

Systems are very powerful.

The same is true of the system of people with whom you surround yourself. If you surround yourself with lots of engaged, accountable, wise people, but also have a few not-so-wise around you, your life will remain compromised. It’s just physics. So get rid of the low hanging fruit (there’s only so many relationships you can honestly take care of).

But even a great community has its imperfections. That’s where the third part of the wisdom trinity comes in.

Spirit

Whether you call it God, Goddess, the universe, consciousness, life-force, mystery, higher power, or soul, it doesn’t matter. Something’s there, and that something is in concert, every moment, with you, as you. It abides in places that require conscious dedicated effort and discipline to access. And like any muscle, your spirit muscle has to be worked, and tended to, on a regular basis in order to strengthen its voice inside you.

This tending-to is called devotion.

Meditation, journaling, art, time in nature, solitude, prayer, poetry, dancing and music are all devotional practices. And they need time, but a special kind of time.

Something about our modern culture’s framing of time drives this artificial sense of emergency, which is at odds with creating space for devotional practice. We find ourselves in a widening gap between chronos and kairos—the ancient Greeks’ two words for time. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, and the latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature.

Chronos is a stopwatch. Kairos is a compass.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, Ecclesiastes assures us. In other words, relax, it’s taken care of. We don’t have to be the guy at the control panel every second of the day. We can pause, we can let the greater mechanism at work handle things.

Kairos, meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment), begs the question—right for whom? Therein lies the key, for the ‘rightness’ is governed by something more universal than your idea of how busy you are. As collateral damage in this modern age, its disappearance means we lose a kind of divine leverage.

Chronos feeds fear and data. Kairos feeds wisdom.

All this to say, you don’t need lots of time, the chronos kind of time, to have devotional practices. Five minutes of meditation, ten minutes of journaling, pausing after a phone call to drink in the sound of the birds—all of these moments allow you to hear a more subtle call.

Wisdom as Liberation

If we are going to create a better world for ourselves and for our children, we have to take that leap into the unknown, away from efficiency, productivity, proof and data. We have to be willing to tap into that source of wisdom available in our bodies, in mature perceptive enlightened communities, and through practices that put us in touch with the mystery.

Wisdom is available to each and every one of us. It is our birthright. It is our imperative if we are going to survive. It is there, every minute, waiting for you patiently, waiting to be born through you. The ways in are numerous and, like all things mysterious, have no formula. So just start, start anywhere.

Dare to be different. Dare to follow your gut and your heart. Expect to be challenged and confronted. Expect for there to be onlookers, arms folded, their eyes behind sunglasses. But remember, just like the deer dancers of Ohkay Owingeh, all you need to do is listen.

 

Resources:

Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The Biology of Transcendence, by Joseph Chilton Pearce

The Heartmath Solution, by Doc Childr

The Awakened Heart, by Gerald May

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, by Christiane Northrup

 

Featured photo Shutterstock/Wasu Watcharadachaphong

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Psychiatry Must Stop Ignoring Trauma, with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/psychiatry-must-stop-ignoring-trauma-with-dr-bessel-van-der-kolk/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/psychiatry-must-stop-ignoring-trauma-with-dr-bessel-van-der-kolk/#comments Sun, 12 Apr 2015 17:37:59 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16320 Acclaimed psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, explores his field’s long, complex, and stubborn history with trauma. Dr. van der Kolk explains how psychiatry as a whole avoided progress, often misdiagnosing trauma as hysteria or, in the case of shell-shocked soldiers, malingering. The experiences of abused women and children […]

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Acclaimed psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, explores his field’s long, complex, and stubborn history with trauma. Dr. van der Kolk explains how psychiatry as a whole avoided progress, often misdiagnosing trauma as hysteria or, in the case of shell-shocked soldiers, malingering. The experiences of abused women and children were more or less ignored for a century. They’re still being ignored in ways, he says. Psychiatry is still too focused on abstract diagnoses and not cognizant enough of the traumatic experiences that lead to them. His latest book “The Body Keeps the Score” (http://goo.gl/0xyBfp) was written to draw attention to how traumatic disorders can be avoided.  Read the full transcript here.

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In the video above, Bessel van der Kolk says:

“So now we live with weird diagnosis like Oppositional Defiant Disorder where people don’t ask why did these kids become defiant or cold and dark disorder where these kids behave strangely, Bipolar Disorder; kids being mentally unstable; going up and down on their emotions. And people don’t really – psychiatry doesn’t really want to look at what’s behind there. And as a consequence instead of looking at social conditions as being at the origin of these disorders, these kids get drugged up. Last year in the U.S. kids got $18.1 billion worth of psychotropic drugs and these drugs actually do calm people down, but they also work on the reward system in the brain and decrease curiosity, openness, experimentation, engagement with people. And I am extremely concerned that all these medicated children in America are likely to grow up having a deficit in the capacity to engage, a deficit in the capacity to learn, to be original, to be engaged, to be a useful member of the workforce. So the neglect of the issue of trauma in the U.S. in particular is a very serious public health issue.”

 

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SAFEMINDS Funded Research Discovers That Increased Biome Diversity Produces Healthier, Smarter Immune Responses http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/safeminds-funded-research-discovers-that-increased-biome-diversity-produces-healthier-smarter-immune-system-responses/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/safeminds-funded-research-discovers-that-increased-biome-diversity-produces-healthier-smarter-immune-system-responses/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 17:44:01 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16309 Allergy and Autoimmunity Decreases, Without Compromising Immune Response (April 8, 2015, Huntington Beach, CA)—Conventional wisdom in modern medicine has assumed that a necessary consequence of blocking allergies and autoimmune reactions is immune system suppression, which in turn causes patients to be more vulnerable to other infections and cancers. A new study published today in PLOS […]

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Allergy and Autoimmunity Decreases, Without Compromising Immune Response

(April 8, 2015, Huntington Beach, CA)—Conventional wisdom in modern medicine has assumed that a necessary consequence of blocking allergies and autoimmune reactions is immune system suppression, which in turn causes patients to be more vulnerable to other infections and cancers.

SmartVax is the philosophy of taking a balanced, scientific, and safe approach to vaccination.  This website, by the Coalition for SafeMinds, is intended to provide information and promote discussion on a smarter approach to vaccines.
SmartVax is the philosophy of taking a balanced, scientific, and safe approach to vaccination. This website, by the Coalition for SafeMinds, is intended to provide information and promote discussion on a smarter approach to vaccines.

A new study published today in PLOS ONE by Duke University researchers, and funded in part by the Coalition of SafeMinds, found that increasing biodiversity in the body via biome enrichment, known to decrease allergies and autoimmune reactions, is not immune suppressive. This discovery holds great promise to treat autoimmune diseases successfully without compromising appropriate immune responses.

William Parker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Surgery at Duke and lead researcher for the study, Increased biodiversity in the environment improves the humoral response of rats said, “Modern medicine suppresses the immune system to treat disease but biome enrichment treats allergic/autoimmune disease and, at the same time, can actually enhance immune function to make a healthier, smarter immune response. This means that organisms such as helminths can potentially help the immune system produce a more robust response to dangerous things like infectious organisms or cancer cells, and at the same time, decrease the response to innocuous things like peanuts and pollen. We found that enhanced biodiversity was associated with better immune responsiveness in general. Specifically, we found better T-cell responses and much higher levels of ‘natural’ antibodies, which have been shown to be important in fighting cancer.”

“This new study is helping to put critical pieces of the immune system puzzle together in a way that SafeMinds hopes will lead to successful treatments for autistic individuals who suffer from immune and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Research has found that many individuals with autism have vastly different microbiomes than healthy controls. Biome enrichment with helminths shows great promise in treating immune dysfunction by helping to modulate aberrant immune responses without suppressing the immune system, which in turn may lead to better health and developmentally appropriate behavior. As abnormal immune responses have been linked to autistic behavior, modulating immune response with helminths, if possible, can lead to significantly improved outcomes for our children. I’m excited to see where this research will lead us,” said Laura Bono, SafeMinds Board Member.

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About SafeMinds:  SafeMinds is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to pursue justice, accountability, and integrity in science and public policy as a means for preventing childhood autism and the disabilities that accompany autism in future generations.  The organization educates and empowers people, focuses on prevention, and funds research to find treatments that will lead to recovery for those living with autism.  For more information, visit www.safeminds.org.

Your generous donation will help Safeminds in our mission for better research and treatments for individuals with autism. To donate, please go towww.safeminds.org.

Contact:  Laura Bono 919-423-4749

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TIGERS – A New Film & True Story Of Pakistani Infant Formula Whistleblower http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/tigers-a-new-film-true-story-of-pakistani-infant-formula-whistleblower/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/tigers-a-new-film-true-story-of-pakistani-infant-formula-whistleblower/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 03:38:01 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16302 Reda Kateb, Yasmine Motarjemi & Caricaturistes… by fifdhgeneve, the TIGERS trailer begins at 2:09 mark Tigers is a new film by Oscar-winning director Danis Tanovic based on the true story of a former Nestlé baby milk salesman called Syed Aamir Raza taking on the industry with the help of IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) […]

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Reda Kateb, Yasmine Motarjemi & Caricaturistes… by fifdhgeneve, the TIGERS trailer begins at 2:09 mark

Tigers is a new film by Oscar-winning director Danis Tanovic based on the true story of a former Nestlé baby milk salesman called Syed Aamir Raza taking on the industry with the help of IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) when he realises that babies are dying as a result of his work pressuring doctors to promote formula. One character in the film embodies some of the IBFANers who helped Aamir, including Tracey Wagner-Rizvi, Andreas Adelberger and Baby Milk Action’s Patti Rundall and Mike Brady.

The Formula Problem, From Baby Milk Action

Tigers is a based-on-fact drama about a formula company salesman.

Formula companies continue to routinely break UN marketing rules – except where they are regulated and held to account.

For some current concerns about how formula companies promote their products, see the Breaking the Rules 2014: In Brief report, produced by the International Code Documentation Centre (ICDC), part of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).

Breaking the Rules 2014 was launched in May 2014 prior to the World Health Assembly by ICDC and Baby Milk Action.

The full Breaking the Rules 2014 report profiles 23 formula and feeding bottle and teat companies.

Irresponsible marketing undermines breastfeeding. Breastfeeding saves lives – and could save more. A breastfed child is less likely to suffer from gastroenteritis, respiratory and ear infections, diabetes, allergies and other illnesses. In areas with unsafe water a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea.

Estimates in 2013 suggest 11.6% of under-5 deaths could be prevented by breastfeeding. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says:‘Globally, breastfeeding has the potential to prevent about 800,000 under-five deaths per year if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed.’

Baby Milk Action acted as one of the Consultants to the film makers. We are confident that the story they will tell will shine a light on the baby milk issue and the power of corporations, and we encourage everyone to see it.

Please explore our website to learn more about the way baby food companies push infant formula and other products – and find out what you can do to help protect babies and their families.

 

SYNOPSIS

Two filmmakers return from a research trip to Pakistan, troubled by inconsistencies in the story they are writing. They ask their subject, Ayan – a young Pakistani salesman – to tell his story to their financiers’ lawyer, on the record. If his story is true, and he can prove it’s true, they can make the film. If not, the huge corporation whose methods they are attacking, could destroy them. Ayan’s story begins with his marriage to the beautiful Zainab. Seeing him struggle to sell unbranded local pharmaceuticals, she persuades him to try for a job with a prestigious multinational – Lasta Foods, known for their infant formulas. To his amazement, and despite his lack of a college diploma, he’s hired. It’s a dream come true for a common local boy without a college degree. Ayan takes Lasta’s fighting tiger attitude training to heart and his “growl” gets stronger everyday. He uses all his skills – and incentives – to persuade doctors and other health professionals to recommend his products. Soon he’s the star salesman and life is good.

A son is born and soon another child is on the way. Faiz, one of Ayan’s new doctor friends, goes off to Karachi to study public health issues. When he returns, a couple of years later, he’s a changed man. He hauls Ayan into a children’s emergency room. Babies are dying and the doctor says it’s all Ayan’s fault. Faiz reveals a startling truth: Most of his patients don’t have access to clean water. They mix infant formula in filthy water and give it to their babies, who get diarrhoea. Or because it’s so expensive they dilute it and malnutrition follows. Breastfeeding would pass on natural immunities but mothers are persuaded to use formula instead. These babies are dying because of Ayan’s work.

Devastated, Ayan visits a slum area and sees unsafe water being used everywhere. He is a father himself; he must stop these babies from dying. He is shocked that his Lasta supervisor is aware of everything, but simply blames the government for not solving the water problem. He mocks Ayan for complicating his good life for nothing. Ayan quits his job and vows to divulge the scandal behind the corporation’s infant milk formula. With the help of his legalese-friendly father, Ayan gives notice to his former employers, telling them to stop marketing breastmilk substitutes in Pakistan and presenting evidence of how he was authorised by them to breach their own rules. It’s David versus Goliath but this underdog will barely get the chance to fight. The other salesmen in the town hear he is threatening their livelihoods and go after him. Two men come to Faiz’s home in the middle of the night and warn him that no-one on Ayan’s side will be spared. Alone and desperate, Ayan fears his desire to do the right thing has brought his family to ruin.

Then the head of a local action group shows him evidence that people in the west have, for years, been protesting over infant deaths in the third world. He realises he must take a stand. A western TV crew make a documentary about his story and take him to Germany to promote it. He’s promised he will return to Pakistan as a hero, but on the night of transmission, his former employers reveal a dark secret and suddenly it seems Ayan’s story must go untold. Shaken by the true complexities of Ayan’s experiences, the filmmakers realise they must tell the whole story, warts and all. But they too will soon discover the real power of a multinational corporation. Can the truth ever be told?

DIRECTOR

His previous feature, AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF AN IRON PICKER, won two Silver Bears at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor for Nazif Mujic, who made his debut re-enacting his own story in the film. Tanovic´’s 2001 debut feature NO MAN’S LAND won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Set in the midst of the Bosnian war in 1993, NO MAN’S LAND also won Best Script prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and European Film Awards. The film received over 40 international awards, making it one of the most awarded first feature films in history. Tanovic´ has made two other films about war and its consequences. CIRKUS COLUMBIA is set in the period just before the conflict reaches his native Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the Englishlanguage TRIAGE, starring Colin Farrell, dealt with post-war trauma. Tanovic´ was born in 1969 in Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and raised in Sarajevo where he studied film directing at Academy of Perfoming Arts Sarajevo. When Sarajevo fell under siege, he spent two years on the frontline filming for the army. The material that Tanovic´ and his colleagues produced on these dangerous missions has been seen in many films and news reports about the Bosnian war. In 1994, Tanovic´ emigrated to Belgium to continue his film studies at INSAS film school and he began making shorts and documentaries. In 2005, Tanovic´ made the French-language feature HELL (L´ENFER), from a script co-written by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski. The film starred many of France’s finest actors, including Emmanuelle Beart, Guillaume Canet, Jacques Gamblin, Carole Bouquet and Jean Rochefort.

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Digitally Connected Babies Are Not Emotionally Connected Babies http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/digitally-connected-babies-are-not-emotionally-connected-babies/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/digitally-connected-babies-are-not-emotionally-connected-babies/#comments Sat, 04 Apr 2015 01:48:11 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16281 Image Shutterstock/RYGER You could easily have missed the newest trend underway out there in the virtual world. We have now entered the Age of the Digitally Connected Baby. We have all become familiar with baby monitors: the device released as early as the 1930s that let parents listen in on babies from another room, in […]

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Image Shutterstock/RYGER

You could easily have missed the newest trend underway out there in the virtual world. We have now entered the Age of the Digitally Connected Baby.

We have all become familiar with baby monitors: the device released as early as the 1930s that let parents listen in on babies from another room, in order to know if they were sleeping. The subsequent development of technologies like Skype and Facetime made it unsurprising when monitoring moved to the visual level. Lots of parents now have cameras installed over their baby’s crib, so that they can check their phones to see if the baby is sleeping.

But we’ve moved way past the monitoring of mere sleeping. Parents can now use digital technology to check up on all sorts of things: their baby’s heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, blood oxygen level, whether they are sleeping on their stomach or back, if they are likely to be fussy upon waking, and even if their nappy needs changed. You no longer have to check your baby’s body for these things. Instead, you can just check your phone.

If you want a clear sense of the excitement driving these technological developments – as well as the money that stands to be made – there is no better source than the video released in December 2014 by the New York Times. It is significant for me that it is entitled ‘The Connected Baby’.

There are a growing range of ‘smart devices’ to choose from. They come complete with electronic sensors and downloadable software, with the sensors encased in cute baby-appropriate forms, including anklet bracelets adorned with hearts, arm bands in pastel colours, and clip-ons shaped like turtles and owls.  Once you’ve fixed these to the baby’s clothing or body, you can monitor their internal functioning from hundreds of feet away.

In fact, you don’t even have to go to the effort of clipping on. You can purchase ‘wearables’ that have the electronic leads already sewn into the cloth. Yes, that’s right. Parents can now purchase electronic pajamas. For example, the Mimo Baby onesie boasts not only the endearing turtle clip-on, but also two attractive green stripes running across the tummy. Those stripes aren’t just for decoration. They contain respiratory sensors, powered by an Intel chip sufficient to run a PC computer. You can buy a starter pack of three onesies plus turtle for about £150, and thereafter they cost only £15 each. And yes, they’re organic and machine washable.

If you want to see even more of what’s on offer in this new world, you can find animated descriptions on a whole range of technology sites, including Latest Gadgets UK and Wifi Baby, as well as in mainstream newspapers. The ‘smart nursery’ is catching up with the ‘smart kitchen’ and ‘smart garage’.

One wonders how parents survived up until now! I say that so we can laugh. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves, at parenting fashions, at the relentless march of technology. For the whole of human history, parents have been able to raise their offspring without the help of electronic pajamas and nappy pee detectors. Yet marketers and fans are arguing that these tools can provide lasting peace of mind. What a tempting promise that is, for anxious parents of new babies.

When we laugh, we’re better able to stay in a curious place, even if we feel troubled. And I think we need to be troubled about these latest technological developments. We should not let the language fool us. Digitally connected babies are not happier babies. They are not healthier babies or safer babies. More importantly, digitally connected babies are not emotionally connected babies.

In fact, we could pause to ask: might there be any risks to babies’ development caused by digital connection? The marketing of these products certainly doesn’t suggest so. But the science of attachment does. These products will change the way that parents relate to their children. That’s what they are designed to do. This means that digital products will inevitably alter the development of infants’ brains and self-regulatory capacities, in ways we have not begun to consider.

Parent Liberation Project Graphic 12-8-14I don’t know how major the impact of these devices might be. But I do think parents deserve to be aware of the risks, so that they can make informed choices. Every time a parent allows digital connection to replace physical connection, they change their child’s developmental course.

I think the manufacturers should be obligated to explain that risk to their customers. The trouble is that the technology is way too new for such legal regulations, and also too new for gathering data that would assess the developmental impacts. The manufacturers probably don’t even know about the science of attachment. They may have no idea that what they are doing could carry long-term impacts for children’s development.

So what does the science of connection tell us that might be relevant? A long history of attachment research has yielded four key insights on this front:

1.  Babies are born with immature brains. This means they cannot regulate their own emotional and physiological states. They are dependent on other people to help them do that. Babies are biologically dependent on the presence of another person in order to feel safe, calm, and reassured.

2.  Babies are born connected to other people. That means every single physiological system within their body is attuned to the adults they spend their day with. Their gaze monitors, their heart rate synchronises, they breathe in parallel, even their body temperature converges.

3.  The growth of neural synapses in a baby’s brain is shaped by experiences of connection. If a baby has enough early experiences of emotional safety and reassurance, then their brain grows synaptic networks that let them recreate those experiences later on in life. If they don’t have such experiences, they have greater difficulty recreating them for themself. They become overwhelmed by strong emotions.

4.  Early emotional experiences are so influential that they predict all sorts of adult outcomes, including mental health, physical health, smoking and drinking, the happiness of marriage, and even the symptoms of dementia. Humans are incredibly social creatures. For us, relationships matter for everything.

Digital technology is designed to alter the relationships of parents and babies. That means it risks undermining babies’ developing self-regulatory capacities. The fact that infant humans have such a strong biological need for the physical presence of adult humans is the result of 100,000 years of primate evolution. Babies cannot feel safe unless their brain has learned that there is always another person nearby, ready to come to the rescue when they feel anxious.

Indeed, it is more than just a baby’s brain that notes that presence. The same systems being monitored with smart devices do too. That’s why kangaroo care, with its emphasis on skin-to-skin contact, is now recommended for all premature babies; the parent’s body temperature regulates the baby’s. That’s why co-sleeping is supported by its advocates: the parent’s breathing rate regulates the baby’s respiration. That’s why smiling with a baby is so pleasurable: it instantly synchronises the heart beats of both partners.

Harry Harlow’s controversial research in the 1950s with infant monkeys made discoveries that were entirely unpredicted at the time. He showed that the drive for touch is stronger than the drive for food. Humans are descended from the primate line, and our babies, born so very early in the gestational process for mammalian species, need to be raised as much as possible in the embrace of human flesh. Every infant benefits from kangaroo care, not just the ones born prematurely.

The problem for the digitally connected baby’s body is that it doesn’t know it is connected to anyone. It is emotional connection that matters to a baby, and it is only the physical presence of another human being that tells a baby they are emotionally connected. My prediction is that digital con-nection is likely to foster emotional dis-connection.

The manufacturers don’t seem to fear that. Carson Darling, one of the founders of the company who created the Mimo Baby, said: “You can look at your smartphone and know that everything is okay.” Okay, as the parent, YOU may know everything is okay, but the baby doesn’t. The baby will only know that everything is okay when you bring your warm, biological arms and pick him up.

I find myself thinking of a story told at a lunch I recently attended:

“I still remember the trips we used to take by car to my grandparents, even though I was very little. We would arrive back at home late at night, and I can remember my father reaching in to unbuckle me, and then lifting me into his arms. He would carry me up the stairs, all warm and smelling wonderful. I always slept best on those nights coming back from my grandparents.”

 

Today’s children are less likely to experience such ‘wonderful’ memories than were the previous generation. Young children are now transported in travel systems, the technological device that enables a parent to lift the whole car seat out of the car, avoiding any need to wake a sleeping child by lifting them into your arms.

Digital connection removes even the need to check on a sleeping child, let alone lift them into your arms. Today’s children have less and less occasion to sense the presence of their parent. Digital technology is specifically designed to separate parents even further from their children.

The fashion website Cute Munchkins is worried about this. They have said of the Mimo Baby onsie that it “seems to replace parenting with science, turning the whole process [of parenting] into something robotic.” The tech site Wareable argues that, while technology may not harm, it is still important to know when to switch it offPaediatrician Mark Nethercoate, an avowed techy who runs Kidspot, believes that while smart devices have been designed with the best of intentions to help, in practice “they will do the exact opposite.”

Owlet Smart Sock
Owlet Smart Sock

 

This, then, is the discussion we should be having right now, while the ‘internet of infants’ is still in its own infancy. We should be drawing on the science of attachment to help us think about the long-term consequences of this technology. However, that is not the discussion we are leaning toward. We have tended so far to focus on what it is like to be a ‘connected parent’.

Some parents believe that these products will indeed bring peace of mind, just as the marketers promise. For example, here is what @andrewoutlaw had to say on Engadget’s site, in response to the news in January 2014 that Mimo Baby was soon to be released:

“I’m seriously considering buying this for a child that me and the wife are expecting this spring. The wife thinks I’m nuts. I am thinking its peace of mind. We were going to buy a monitor anyway and spend about $200 on it. But when the kid is in daycare (even if its the one at my wife’s job), this device will let us know what’s going on. We couldn’t have that with a traditional or video monitor. I’ll need to rethink my presentation of why we need this, to sell her on the idea. But I do think it’s a good idea.”

Not all customers agree. Here is how PegCityNerd responded to that comment:

“It will NOT bring you piece of mind. Trust me. Having a simple audio baby monitor, let alone one with a video, adds to the stress and lack of sleep….Suddenly, silence becomes worrisome. You lose even more sleep when the baby sleeps longer. You’re always listening. With this new invention, you’ll end up staring at your phone all night….Take it from me, a parent of two young children, this won’t give you peace of mind.”

This debate is important. It speaks to parents’ needs and parents’ stress levels. Maybe digitally connected parents really will feel calmer. My point is that this can never be the case for digitally connected babies. Digitally connected babies are likely to feel lonely.

Wow. Parents can pay hundreds of pounds to help their baby grow up feeling lonely. The fact that no parent intended that, and that no manufacturer probably did either, is no guarantee against it. It is only our wisdom that guarantees against that.

We can’t stop what’s happening. The digital wearables industry is now being described as a gold rush, predicted to be worth $23 billion worldwide by the year 2020.

What we can do is educate people, especially parents, about the science of human connection. If we let our excitement about digital connection interfere with our babies’ need for emotional connection, then we shoot ourselves in the foot. Both they and we will suffer.

All you have to do to help in educating others about that science is to forward this article to someone you love.

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“Having The Guts” To Harden Parents’ Hearts http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/having-guts-to-harden-parents-hearts/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/04/having-guts-to-harden-parents-hearts/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 01:49:16 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16271 “Do you have the guts? You’re chicken if you don’t!” Remember such taunts to do stupid things in childhood? Apparently they are common in adulthood too.Taunting has not gone away. Some doctors reportedly are taunting their patients(link is external). The PhillyVoice had a story that broke my heart. Based on the advice of a pediatrician […]

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“Do you have the guts? You’re chicken if you don’t!” Remember such taunts to do stupid things in childhood? Apparently they are common in adulthood too.Taunting has not gone away. Some doctors reportedly are taunting their patients(link is external).

The PhillyVoice had a story that broke my heart. Based on the advice of a pediatrician (see *note below), parents were high-fiving each other over “having the guts” to let their 5-month-old baby scream himself to sleep (total extinction method).

The developmental psychology evidence is clear:

The MOST important parent behavior linked to virtually all good outcomes for children is being warm and responsive to a child’s needs, especially in the early years.

Pediatricians who tell parents to ignore their baby’s cries at night are encouraging nonresponsiveness, a poison that can infect the relationship.

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Why are pediatricians encouraging parents to harden their hearts against their children?

  • Pediatricians who recommend such baby neglect seem to be unaware that babies are born 9-18 months early compared to other animals and should be having an “external womb” experience in early life as their brains develop rapidly during that time. Babies evolved to need to be kept on or near the caregiver‘s body to keep growing well.
  • Pediatricians are not well-versed in the effects of leaving a social mammal, especially a very immature human, in isolation and extensive distress (see Dangers of Crying it Out). A child facing the kind of toxic stress described will likely havehealth problems, not ever feeling safe or “right,” undermining sociality and learning–the types of problems increasing across the country. The child’s body remembers.
  • Instead medical personnel are exposed to lousy research about sleep training (seehere, here and here).

Doctors who advocate neglecting baby needs (e.g., to be with caregivers) might reexamine their ethics. They seem to have forgotten the “do no harm” principle. But because the baby cannot speak up for herself, it’s easy to minimize effects on her welfare instead of affirming her rights.

Doctors bully parents and parents pass the bullying onto their babies. Being a bully does not take guts.

Doctors who mess with parental instincts also seem to have forgotten that a profession serves, not commands. Facing the mysteries of life and child development requires humility, not grandiosity. It takes guts to be humble and surrender to the primal needs of a baby.

But it’s not just pediatricians that encourage hardening hearts against children. It is widespread. The governing cultures of science, medicine and business are flowing against kindness, compassion (although there are moves in the other direction). It’s rationalized as “being objective.” It emerges from the mythological views of world-as-mechanism, baby as conditionable machine–behavioristic psychology in medical disguise.

PAHJ Karen Brody QuoteThat is not all. By putting most of its citizens under excessive stress, adults in the USA are prone to think and act from a survival mindset. When the stress response kicks in, compassion and good thinking are less available as you are just trying to get back to feeling safe again through aggression or withdrawal.

In this self-protectionist mindset, everything is viewed as adversarial: be tough, unyielding, not a sissy! Zero tolerance. You are either in control or controlled by others. One up or one down. When applied to parenting, it’s about who is “in charge” –you or the child? Parenting is set up as a power struggle. The focus is on winning. “Don’t let the baby control you!” You are a lousy parent if “you lose.”

If we succumb to taunting, what do we get? Survivalist behavior. It is usually about not following your heart or your head but your ego—‘I’m not chicken. See how strong I am’.

When parents shift into power playing, both parents and baby lose. Both learn to distrust their instincts, their feelings, infecting the relationship with distrust. They give their power to the “experts” who tell them that the experts know better than the instincts. Not true. The instincts have been honed over tens of millions of years into what works for the baby’s survival and thriving.

“Playing chicken” with babies can undermine the child for a lifetime and certainly sets back any trust that had been developing between baby and parent. We and others find that the responsive relationship settles in the first 4 months or so of the child’s life. Just think, adult advisers who undermine responsiveness are setting a different trajectory for the relationship and for the child.

Parents should think twice about doctor advice that goes against their instincts. The child’s body will remember what happened even if their conscious mind does not. Parents should ask themselves: What do I want my child’s body to remember–affection and love, or tortured loneliness and fear? Parents who “surrender” to their instincts to protect, guard and be with the baby– meeting the baby’s basic needs for their presence and affection– will not regret it. Let’s support the parents who have these guts.

*Note: Michel Cohen, M.D. is quoted in the article cited. He advocates total extinction (full cry it out) sleep training at 8 weeks old. Be forewarned if you come across his parenting book.

Photo Shutterstock/Chameleon’sEye

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Touch As Nutrition http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/touch-as-nutrition/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/touch-as-nutrition/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 20:17:56 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16184 Touch could properly be regarded as a form of nutrition. We mistakenly think that touch occurs on the periphery of our self, a skin thing. But truthfully each surface stimulus travels far into the most hidden interior landscapes of our self, traversing long nerve cells right through the buried spinal core to enter and gather […]

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Touch could properly be regarded as a form of nutrition.

We mistakenly think that touch occurs on the periphery of our self, a skin thing. But truthfully each surface stimulus travels far into the most hidden interior landscapes of our self, traversing long nerve cells right through the buried spinal core to enter and gather in the deep folds of our brain. It’s not by accident that our skin and brain each are generated from a single ectodermic substance, cascading outwards and inwards as we grow in the womb, because right at the very root and origin of us, we are built to connect the inner and outer worlds.

TouchingThe necessity of nurturing touch is very clear when we are at our youngest. Without it, young children have the potential to wither and even die, though they are provided with food and medicine.

Slightly older children typically find ways to build a huge, varied diet of touch into their lives. From, at the rough end of the spectrum, tumbling unexpectedly onto their parents’ shoulders, rolling on the floor with siblings, wrestling with friends, to cuddling, sitting on knees, being carried, stroked and gently soothed at the other. Children actively shape their sense of self, not just mentally, but with their hands, elbows and knees, their bellies and mouths, inside the frequency, textures and intensities of this constant, rich field of contact.

(This is why non-nurturing, violent or invasive touch can be so devastating for a child, because it does harm right in the deep heartland of a child’s emerging identity.)

As we grow up we exchange this banquet of physical contact, all that rough and tumbling rolling around for…. well, often for very little.

For most of us, growing up coincides with a reduction in the range and quality of our tactile life. Our diet of nurturing physical contact thins out and narrows down. Ask yourself how your tactile day went today?

In fact, if we do assign a nutritional value to touch, it is clear that many, perhaps most adults, regardless of whether they are alone or in partnership, suffer from significant degrees of starvation in this arena. While some adults participate in contact sports or practices, seek out massage or physical therapies, most do not. While some adults have relationships that offer them a range of healthy touch, including but not confined to sexual, most relationships do not. Instead, we have a state of widespread tactile famine, a malnourishment that is so entrenched as normal we cannot even see that it exists.

Full Body PresenceWe participate in this under-nourishing of the body in many ways. The abundance of touching we once offered to others, for example, soon becomes rationed out, reserved for appropriate moments with appropriate people. Unlike the sometimes chaotic, improvised and spontaneous interactions of children at play, almost all of these moments, a handshake, a friendly hug, a pat on a colleague’s back, are highly stereotyped too, habitual and fairly unconscious exchanges of brief physical contact. Most of these moments also require a highly muted intensity. Sex therefore, for many adults, whether regular or infrequent, loving or casual, ends up carrying the entire burden of our need for intense nurturing touch. It’s a heavy task it often fails at.

Equally, our ascension into adulthood is often accompanied by the acquisition of goods and services that reduce the tactile shock of the world on our system. Comfortable furniture, convenient transport over smooth highways, and clothes and shoes that protect us from bumps or holes in the land or temperature: all conspire to soothe and dull the senses, especially touch. We are not numb, but we have arranged the world to induce a kind of torpor compared to what we could experience.

Touch cannot be talked about in polite society. No index of well-being seems to have measured it. But sometimes the absence of touch is acknowledged by proxy. Loneliness is one of its stand ins. Loneliness has many dimensions, but the absence of being held, stroked and touched is surely one of its most painful characteristics. The U.K. has a particular crisis here, coming 26th out of 28 European countries in a survey of who has neighbors or friends to turn to. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, lacking social connections has the equivalent on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The loneliness which blights the last years of so many elderly people in our culture is based just as much on a physical deprivation as an emotional one. Two fifths of elderly people report that the television is their main company. And we know that loneliness can kill just as assuredly at this end of life as physical isolation killed at the beginning end. Solitary elderly people are almost 50 percent more likely to die early than those who have family, friends or community.

We could talk about poverty of touch just as validly as poverty of wealth, and although this is not confined to this area, frequently the two go together. Walk around a poor estate, and along with cramped and frayed housing, you will see many people, perhaps adults more than children, for whom reliable and consistent nurturing touch is but a memory, a yearning, perhaps an inflamed wounding, rather than a daily sustaining occurrence.

I am sure that for some people turning to aggression and physical violence is an ill judged act of substitution, motivated by a desperate need for the deep, meaningful contact that is missing. The shoving, grappling and hitting provide a perverse reminder, a tragic hint of the intense physical significance we all depend on for our sense of mattering in the world.

Individually and collectively, we need to recover a world that will nurture us, build a society that will sustain rather than erode us. Social and economic policies that prioritize real human need are priorities. But part of this task will also be to regenerate the possibilities of healthy nurturing touch in our lives and in our culture.

There are many reasons to think this is possible, because a good half of the work here is to simply pay attention to our already existing tactile experience, and to edge it forward just a little. As we pick up the mug of tea, we notice the weight and shape, the particular balance between strength and delicacy the porcelain has achieved, the contrast between the experience of the fingers and the experience of the lips. We can ignore the signs, step off the path and walk on the bumpy grass, among the trees, trail a hand across its trunk. We can once more hold our partner’s hand with some portion of the attention we brought to the miraculous first time we felt those fingers wrap around ours.

Key in the front door at the end of a stressful day, we can appreciate the ability of children to restore us. Because they plunge us back into a universe of sensation and tactile experience. They climb on us, tumble over our head or shoulder, jump on our backs, elbow us and knee us and rough us gloriously up. They break through the crust we have carefully built around our nervous system. They speak to us at a level we have forgotten about, but thirst for: the elemental dimension of physical contact.

 

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Shame Resilience And Authentic Being In A Shame-Based Culture http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/shame-resilience-and-authentic-being-in-a-shame-based-culture/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/shame-resilience-and-authentic-being-in-a-shame-based-culture/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:59:53 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16254 Shame Resilience 101 from soundarya on Vimeo. Shame Resilience Theory Explained: The grounded theory of Shame Resilience by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW consists of four elements. As Dr. Brown discusses, these elements are not necessarily linear but for the sake of format and easy discussion they will be presented in a linear way. Recognizing Shame […]

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Shame Resilience 101 from soundarya on Vimeo.

Shame Resilience Theory Explained:

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The grounded theory of Shame Resilience by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW consists of four elements. As Dr. Brown discusses, these elements are not necessarily linear but for the sake of format and easy discussion they will be presented in a linear way.

  1. Recognizing Shame & Triggers
  2. Practicing Critical Awareness
  3. Reaching Out
  4. Speaking Shame

Each part of the process is indispensable but does not necessarily happen in this order. Each step in the shame resilience model is placed on a continuum with dualities represented on each end of the continuum.

About The Project

The “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” website is intended to create awareness about the theory of Shame Resilience. Everyone feels shame about something at some point in their lives. Acknowledging that shame without jeopardizing one’s authenticity is key to a well-rounded personality. Building this resilient spirit toward shame and not allowing it to take over your life is Shame Resilience.

About The Project Creator

soundarya1Soundarya Varma is a graduate student of Journalism at the Michigan State University. She is also a Communication graduate assistant for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at MSU. When not writing or reading, she enjoys spending time with friends and family. A former State News reporter, she is a curious person by nature and loves to learn something new every single day. Her interests lie in writing, storytelling and communications. Find her personal blog and website here.

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The Well-Rested Parent: Surrendering To The Call, Chucking Perfect And Awakening Your Vital Force http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-well-rested-parent-surrendering-to-the-call-chucking-perfect-and-awakening-your-vital-force/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-well-rested-parent-surrendering-to-the-call-chucking-perfect-and-awakening-your-vital-force/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:13:00 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16246 I want you to answer this question by raising your hand: are you exhausted? If you raised your hand, keep reading. If you didn’t raise your hand, keep reading, you may be in for a surprise. Parenting today is exhausting. Our child needs us, their school emails us all the time, then there’s work, keeping […]

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I want you to answer this question by raising your hand: are you exhausted? If you raised your hand, keep reading. If you didn’t raise your hand, keep reading, you may be in for a surprise.

Parenting today is exhausting. Our child needs us, their school emails us all the time, then there’s work, keeping up on social media or going on the learning curve to understand keeping our kids safe on social media. Life is full and often there’s a high level of this feeling of overwhelm in the modern parent.

PAHJ Karen Brody QuoteIronically we spend so much time tending to our child’s needs, and making sure they get enough rest and as they get older helping them find their calling, that suddenly we can’t find ours or we know it but we’re too exhausted to follow it. The call keeps knocking on our door – whether it’s a book we know we must write or a friendship we need to end –  but we resist the call. We say “yes” and “no” so many times without taking a breath that we’ve lost that connection to our deep knowing.

Parenting today is so exhausting we often are left thinking: I want my brain back. But in reality, to truly surrender to one’s calling we need our heart back. We need to take back feeling.

And that’s where yoga nidra meditation can help.  If you’re exhausted and feel unable to take that first step towards the life you desire, yoga nidra is your “home girl.”

Yoga nidra is a sleep-based meditation technique where all you have to do is lie down, do nothing, and be guided. It’s easy to do and activates the relaxation response in your body allowing your nervous system to balance. It turns your life force back on using a combination of breathwork, body sensation,  affirmations, and pairing opposites.

Yoga nidra takes you from the crazy-busy time bound state of consciousness that we live in every day to a delicious timeless state of being. It’s catnip for the busy modern parent. Why? Because when have you last been given permission to lie down and  do nothing – consciously? When have you been given a moment of stillness, for your body to deeply restore and a moment to tap into your heart’s deepest desires? Who doesn’t want more of that?

Have you ever noticed in films, and life of course, that hero’s always deny their calling at least once? Very rarely will we wake up in the morning and follow our calling. And this applies even more when you’re exhausted.  Fear multiplies when we run from it.  Absolutely, we’ve got obstacles in our way. Parents can spend years writing lists of all the obstacles, but have you ever noticed that some parents are on their Hero’s journey despite the obstacles? The reason for this is quite clear: they have surrendered.

Yoga nidra meditation is actually not a solution to your problem. It will not make gold happen in your life. Only you can. Instead, yoga nidra helps lead you to the gold. It helps you surrender to your Hero’s journey by awakening your vital force.

 

Awakening Your Vital Force

PAHJ Will You Answer The Call with site addressYour vital force is never asleep within you, but exhaustion can make it feel like it’s gone forever.  In yoga nidra we begin to clear the layers of karma holding you back from that part of you that’s not allow your vibrant, healthy multi-dimensional self to shine through.

When you surrender to your vital force you open space for the power to let go of what doesn’t serve you, so that your True Self has space to grow. Using yoga nidra meditation – a form of conscious sleep where you’re taken into deep brainwave states even below delta brainwaves to a place yogis call turiya – you will be able to relinquish old habits, patterns and beliefs making room for creativity, change, and abundance. This will affect all aspects of your life and help you strengthen loving relationships within your family, discover your purpose, know your self-worth, heal old habits, and find an unshakeable peace within you.

But you must surrender. That’s why often we need a push, which is the beauty of yoga nidra. It’s the mentor with few words, taking you to a wordless place of unity inside of you, a deep harmony that modern day living in waking state consciousness cannot provide.

Yoga nidra massages your divine feminine wisdom, that place where fear and faith reside together. Yoga nidra shows you that you don’t have to choose fear or faith. Life is always a dance of holding everything just as it is. In order to cross over to the other side and begin your Hero’s journey towards your power you have to surrender to fear and faith – attaching to neither – and in that surrender where you’ll find the courage to take a leap.

 Chuck Perfect

There’s one more opportunity to surrender that yoga nidra will give you: the opportunity to chuck perfect. Oh, how perfect parenting or any level of striving for perfection holds us back. Yoga nidra invites you to welcome your fear – and other emotions and beliefs – and it’s in this welcoming where we release our tight hold on perfection. It’s only then that you can give birth to optimal mind, body, and spirit wellbeing.

This is why rest is crucial.  When we’re tired we beat ourselves up with “shoulds” and “I’m not enough” and “shame” that holds us back from seeing our truest self. When we rest we give our body deep restoration and when we consciously rest, which is yoga nidra, we allow ourselves to be seen – the beauty and the flaws – and this ends the loop of perfection and opens the doorway to begin your journey home,  re-energizing your entire being. This is good medicine not only for us, but also for our children.

Studies today clearly show that when parents are stressed this can alter not only our DNA but our children’s DNA too. So while I’d like to tell you to go on this journey for yourself, if thinking of the impact your stress has on your children is what motivates you then let this be the juice to get you to the other side of the Hero’s Journey, on the path to discover your gold.

Rest is used to heal in virtually all modalities. When we’re sick, we are told to rest (and we tell our children to rest, right?). When we’re depressed we’re advised to get some rest. Why they don’t we give ourselves this permission to rest?

It’s time to start paying attention to the message you’re given when you get on an airplane: put your oxygen mask on first and then secure your child’s. Imagine if we followed this simple advice? Be good to yourself, so you can be good to others. This is the ultimate surrender because when we nurture ourselves that’s when our vital force awakens and we are ready to find our gold and use it to change our life for the better.

Yoga nidra ultimately awakens what’s asleep inside of you. It gives you the deep restoration and focus you need to surrender and it’s in the surrender that you discover all the answers you need to change your life are within you; you just didn’t recognize them yet.

The Way Home to Your Calling

In yoga nidra an important facet that we uncover is your sankulpa – the deep heartfelt commitment you want to make to yourself. I like to call this your big dream. It’s a vision you have for how you want to be living your life. In yoga nidra your sankulpa is repeated when you are in the turiya state – a brainwave state that is below delta brainwaves where you are virtually thoughtless.  It is here where you are open to rewiring and repatterning emotions, thoughts, and situations that are self-defeating.

If you have a child who is spirited you may feel anger toward them. In the state of turiya this is your opportunity to shift out of that place, not to perfection – there is no perfect relationship and remember we’re chucking perfect – but to a place that accepts everything just as it is. This is when you are truly free. You aren’t denying your anger or trying to make the situation perfect, you are creating harmony and balance within yourself.

Setting an intention in yoga nidra – sankulpa is the Sanskrit word for this –  means surrender and sets you up for stepping into your Hero’s Journey from a deeply authentic, conscious place.

The important point of all of this is that most of us as parents feel we don’t have time to get the rest we need and we’re running around hiding behind ‘busy’ like a shield of armor to protect us from feeling. As a result we’re tired, we judge our parenting, we feel others are judging us and we stop creating our best life. Yoga nidra invites you to leave your fickle, judging self behind and let your intuitive power take over, to not let your life revolve around what your mind or other people’s minds think of you, and to experience your deeper, truer self. When you do you’ll find you can finally break out of a way of life that’s not serving you and unleash a more conscious parenting and lifestyle.

And here’s where I really shake my yoga nidra pom poms: as you surrender to the Hero’s journey using yoga nidra you’ll begin to feel your power return. You’ve always had this power;  you just forgot how to use it. So ultimately yoga nidra just reminders you of what you already know. How sweet is that?

Your inner goddess will thank you for yoga nidra and so will your children. Heal thyself, heal others.

Featured Photo Shutterstock/Holly Clark

 

Parenting As A Hero's Journey Paper Li Ad

 

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The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible – Charles Eisenstein http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible-charles-eisenstein/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible-charles-eisenstein/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 02:50:04 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16232  Quote from the video “I think what is happening is that underneath the surface our ideological core of our civilization is hollowing out.  The elites no longer believe their own ideology. They are just going through the motions. Everyone participates, but nobody believes.  In order to find your way, you must get lost. There’s a […]

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 Quote from the video

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“I think what is happening is that underneath the surface our ideological core of our civilization is hollowing out.  The elites no longer believe their own ideology. They are just going through the motions. Everyone participates, but nobody believes.  In order to find your way, you must get lost.

There’s a vast territory between what we’re trying to leave behind, and where we want to go.  And we don’t have any maps for that territory.  People are always talking about how do we turn an organization into a movement.  A movement is not something we do or create.  A movement creates us.”  — Charles Eisenstein

 

About the video

This video was produced as a gift to humanity by Sustainable Human (sustainablehuman.me). Visit us to find out how you can support and create videos like The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible in collaboration with a global team of volunteers. Together, we can change the story of the world.

Visit the official landing page for more information on this incredible story: http://sustainablehuman.me/the-more-b…

“There is a vast territory between what we’re trying to leave behind, and where we want to go – and we don’t have any maps for that territory.” – Charles Eisenstein

Filmed in the fading light on the shores of Northern Scotland, this short film captures Charles Eisenstein in a moment of grief and reflection. The familiar story of the past is crumbling, while the new story has yet to arrive. In a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we as individuals do in this space between?

An African proverb states “sometimes you must get lost in order to find your way.” Eisenstein invites us to embrace a radically different understanding of cause and effect, sounding a clarion call to surrender our old worldview of separation, so that we can finally create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

Learn more about the book and Charles further work at http://charleseisenstein.net/project/…

Credits:

Director/Editor: Ian MacKenzie
(http://ianmack.com)

Producer: Chris Agnos
(bit.ly/1bmB8KK)

Sound Design – Jeremy Therrien
http://www.jeremytherrien.com

Transcription – Matthew Watrous
http://www.gifttranscripts.com/

Music Credits:

Linger
Let Me Go, Set Me Free – Oniero https://soundcloud.com/oneiro-music

Other sources:

Into the Streets (People’s Climate March + Flood Wall Street) https://vimeo.com/107789364

Vancouver People’s Climate March https://vimeo.com/106974162

Dolphin’s Die in Record Numbers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKZ9D…

Marine’s Capture Taliban Fighters After Firefight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQxuO…

Paris Attacks – 3 Days of Terror https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnyZ_…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.

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