As you approach the new year, you may be making resolutions for positive health behavior changes. Birthdays and other anniversaries also prompt us to take stock and vow to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Two of the most common promises we make to ourselves are to increase our physical activity level and our stress management skills. Research is now showing that combining mindfulness meditation and physical activity can dramatically improve physical and emotional health.
In addition to cold weather, winter sometimes brings sadness and depression. Some people experience depression only during the winter. Others with year-
A mindfulness student recently experienced her body as beautiful during a body scan in class. You may already have a positive self-
Both my parents experienced the sudden change in life’s priorities associated with the diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Suddenly, things that have occupied our mind, time and energy are reappraised in light of a stark reminder of life’s uncertainty and our mortality. Hope is kept alive by modern medicine’s remarkable results with conventional treatments and the fact that some individuals do much better than expected, even with serious and advanced cancer.
Most people say the gift of sight is their most valuable sense perception – and almost everyone experiences decline in visual function with aging. B One of the most common symptoms of aging is the decline in accommodation, the process by which the eye changes (accommodates) focus to maintain a clear image of objects at different distances. This decline often begins before age 50 years. Accommodation acts like an automatic reflex, but it can also be consciously controlled.
The holiday season is filled with emotion for most people. While this emotion is often happy, positive and loving, for many people it can be very unhappy and even depressing. Holiday music can trigger emotional associations with the absence of a loved one or unhappy memories from the past. The gap between the smiling faces of holiday ads and one’s unhappy emotional experience can actually lead to a deepening of the emotional darkness that often accompanies this season of lights.
Being disconnected from or being self-
Anger can be a healthy emotional response or a serious health risk. Managing anger appropriately does not require that we deny it, repress it or get completely rid of it. Brief, mild-
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is the world’s premier nutrition education resource. Harvard Medical School and the Department of Nutrition at HSPH developed the Healthy Eating Plate to provide the general public with up-
Surely one of the best things about modern science is the discovery that chocolate can actually be good medicine! Chocolate As Preventive Medicine? Cocoa contains phytonutrients (plant chemicals) called flavanols that may help protect you against coronary heart disease (heart attacks). Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains two to three times the amount of these beneficial plant chemicals. A possible mechanism by which flavanols protect the heart may be enhancing.....
Yoga can be fun and healthy for you and your kids – physically, mentally and emotionally.What is yoga? The word “yoga” means to yoke, unite, connect or join together. Yoga helps connect the body, mind, heart and emotions. It can also help connect you to other people, animals, trees and all of nature. We tend to think of physical movements and body postures when we think of yoga. Yoga looks like exercise, but its intent is very different. Physical hatha yoga is traditionally performed as a means of .....
Where is your attention when you eat? Do you love the pleasure of eating so much that you overeat from sheer enjoyment rather than from physiologic hunger cues? Do you overeat as a self-
I will never forget my patient who developed Type 1, insulin-
For many people, there is a relationship between stress and oral health. The presence of oral disease and dental disorders can cause stress from low self-
The three primary domains of your overall fitness are physical activity, healthy eating and emotional well-
What to Eat? The world’s leading nutrition researchers are sending a very clear public health message based on the best scientific evidence available: To promote health, prevent disease and extend life, half your food servings should come from fruits and vegetables. For more than 70 years, the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has conducted rigorous scientific research on the relationship between food and health.
A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life. Modern medical, radiation and surgical treatments have led to a growing population of cancer survivors, who now number over 12 million, or one in 25 Americans. Lifestyle choices such as health-
Is it necessary, or even safe, to take an antibiotic for your next illness? This question is becoming a routine part of conversations between consumers and health providers. The way we answer this question has serious implications. Consumers and health care providers are both being urged to help achieve the goals of good medicine and public health: making a correct diagnosis, using antibiotics only if the diagnosis war-
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Most people say the gift of sight is their most valuable sense perception – and almost everyone experiences decline in visual function with aging.
One of the most common symptoms of aging is the decline in accommodation, the process by which the eye changes (accommodates) focus to maintain a clear image of objects at different distances. This decline often begins before age 50 years. Accommodation acts like an automatic reflex, but it can also be consciously controlled. It occurs by the contraction and relaxation of the tiny ciliary muscles attached to the lens. This allows the lens to change shape to focus on objects at varying distances from near to far. When functioning properly, this focusing process can occur almost instantaneously.
Presbyopia is the formal term for age-
tension of meeting deadlines can create neck pain, jaw clenching and muscle contraction throughout the body – all from the unskillful use of your eyes and your attention.
Here are some mindfulness practices for your eyes. They do not take the place of professional advice for eye problems, but they can help you manage stress-
We hurry around all day being busy and ignoring the wonder of our sense of sight and the wisdom of our bodies. Try keeping a gratitude journal. Writing down three things (or more) for which you are grateful each day can increase your awareness of the many gifts in your life, including the gift of sight. You might use the question, “What went well today?” as a guide to these journal entries. When I do this regularly, I find my eyes are wide open to gratefulness for little things throughout my entire day.
Begin this self-
Focusing near and far
A classic eye exercise from the yoga tradition involves alternating your visual focus between near and far objects. While reading or working at the computer, periodically rest your eyes by looking into the distance. This is one advantage of situating your workspace with a window view. Alternate your focus between a distant object and a near object, such as the thumbnail of your outstretched arm, keeping your focus on each object for a few seconds before shifting focus. See how close you can bring the thumbnail and maintain sharp focus. Stop there. Allow the eye and facial muscles to soften and relax in each position, far and near, before shifting. Allow the sense of relaxation to spread throughout your body. Practice for one to 10 minutes at least once daily as your time allows.
Mindfulness of your senses
To create a foundation of mindful awareness throughout your day, take a few minutes to formally sit and simply be aware of your breathing, your body and your senses. Sitting comfortably in a tall, dignified posture, feel the breath coming into and out of your body. Feel the sensations of the breath in the nose, back of the throat, chest and belly. Feel the physical tactile sensations of your body touching the chair and the floor. Open your senses wide to include sounds, tastes, smells and the sense of sight, whether your eyes are open or closed. Notice colors, shapes, light, shadow, moving objects and still objects, welcoming all of them into your visual field.
Cultivating mindfulness and gratitude can enrich your sense perceptions and your entire life. The gift of sight can be more deeply appreciated, even as it changes over time. I have recorded a five-
Dr. John Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Saybrook University’s School of Mind Body Medicine (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, D.C.). He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative medicine consultations