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Resources for Healthy and Authentic Living

As we’ve learned in an article entitled Enhancing your Connections, it’s not just the physical and biochemical connections but the simultaneously intimate and emotional connection of our heart and mind. The mind/body connection is an essential constituent in order to have healthy functioning and positive wellbeing, which ultimately lays a path for an enhanced spiritual connection.

It is in connecting with our feelings and our true selves at the critical time of life’s transition and periods of acute and chronic stress that enables us to seek the answers and address matters with more clarity in a healthy way. Tools 4 Life assists in learning to move from just merely coping with life’s challenges to having the freedom of living a much fuller life.

Massage therapy is an effective way to address stress. For sustained stress relief however, Enhance Connections has developed a series of workshops that focus specifically on mind/body connections to build emotional intelligence. Tools 4 Life is an experiential workshop offering resources in navigating the future by understanding the past so that the participant can live more authentically in the present. The tools are simple, direct and fulfilling.

The workshops deliver resources that can be practice in order to heighten awareness in living consciously and to be more congruent with integrating mind, body and spirit; so that life and relationships can work better and you have healthy wellbeing and authentic living.

How can I incorporate this in my life?

Tools 4 Life is an experiential workshop where you will be able to learn about:

  • Living and being more connected
  • Building resilience through emotional intelligence
  • Getting our needs and wants met
  • Effective communication techniques
  • How to have healthy boundaries
  • Confronting our truth
  • Protecting our reality
  • Understanding loss and grief
  • How we mask unmanageable issues
  • Healthy and unhealthy relationships
  • Traits of a healthy family
  • Strategies that work

What will I get out of it?

You are provided with course materials and the information is presented in an interesting manner within a supportive environment. The concepts are discussed and work-shopped to make it real in your life’s circumstances.

Tools 4 Life is a confidential process, for further information or to read feedback and comments from previous participants or to register your interest in participating in a workshop – please provide your details by following the link below. We will forward you an info pack with pricing and contact you to discuss the next available workshop.

Tools 4 Life


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Enhancing your Connections

Healthy connections in the human condition is the key to healthy functioning, emotional intelligence and overall positive wellbeing.

At Enhance Connections, we recognise and acknowledge that when it comes to the intricacies of the human body, it’s the connections that are important. But it’s the integration of the mind that creates the spark to make a life! Not just the natural functioning of the brain but the reasoning that our mind brings with it.

Purely from a physical point of view, it’s the interconnection between our fascial trains and the compartmented musculature contained within, even down to the muscle spindle at cellular level. Proprioceptors which are triggered by sensory and motor neural transmitters to and from the brain affect action, mobility, stabilization or even the manifestation of pain. Science continues to explore and have a more comprehensive understanding through evidence based research of these connections, which ultimately has beneficial health outcomes with these findings being incorporated into a positive preventative health regime.

Proprioception Anatomy and the Muscle Spindle

Just as each moment of every day our homeostasis in the physical realm is dependent upon a system of constant feedback, so too in our emotional realm. The often subconscious yet constant exchange of emotion-based signals between our inherent feelings and the brain determines what chemicals are released into our bodies as a consequence of that emotional state. For instance, when we experience times of stress the body interprets this and sets into motion mechanisms to help us respond appropriately.

Situations stimulating an emotional response based around fear, anger and pain, are felt in bodily sensations and subsequently connects with the autonomic nervous system stimulating the brain to release the appropriate hormones, such as increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bloodstreams. These stress hormones prepare us for a quick and powerful reaction to whatever is causing us this stress. The emotional mind/body connection has a reaction that includes redirecting the blood supply from the organs deep within our bodies to the places where it’s most needed in such times: the muscles, limbs, and extremities that we use to either confront the source of our stress or flee from it—this is our instinctive freeze-fight-or-flight response. The key here is that the stress response is designed to be temporary and brief. When it kicks in, our brain infuses our body with the chemistry needed to respond quickly and powerfully to the threat. It’s all about our survival.

The Role of the Hypothalamus in Stress Response

As a result of this surge, it correspondingly shuts down the release of other chemicals that support important functions in our body. The release of vital chemicals that support functions of growth, immunity, and anti-aging is dramatically reduced during times of fight or flight. When we are placed under stress through any number of life experiences, the consequences of this stress can be found in headaches, back pain, neck and shoulder spasms, in fact a whole range of physical manifestations which in turn adds to and compounds the stress levels we are already enduring. If indeed the emotional trauma that we experience is severe or extended over long periods of time, even lifetimes, the illness or disease that we may suffer impact on us with the degree of severity that it can result in more complex, life threatening circumstances.

The Autonomic Nervous System

Clearly, we were never meant to live with constant stress as a way of life. Yet this is precisely the situation that many of us find ourselves experiencing today. The rise in stress related conditions, including heart disease and stroke, eating disorders, immune deficiencies, and some cancers, is less of a surprise when we take into account the relentless stress that many people experience in their daily lives. Even more so if we recognise how the human experience tries to self-medicate through addictive vices to numb the pain associated with the stress, this in turn has a multiplying effect that can be detrimental to our overall health and well-being.

Chronic Stress moves hormone levels to a new elevated normal

Chemical Connections as a result of Chronic Stress

In a lesson entitled How Stress Affects your Brain from TedEd, Madhumita Murgia shows how chronic stress can affect brain size, its structure, and how it functions, right down to the level of your genes.

He describes how the stress response process engages with human systems and demonstrates how the effects of stress may filter right down to your brain’s DNA having detrimental generational impacts. You can view the lesson below or read the following transcript:

“Stress begins with something called the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis, a series of interactions between endocrine glands in the brain and on the kidney, which controls your body’s reaction to stress. When your brain detects a stressful situation, this axis is instantly activated and releases a hormone called cortisol, which primes your body for instant action. High levels of cortisol over long periods of time wreak havoc on your brain. Chronic stress increases the activity level and number of neural connections in the amygdala, your brain’s fear centre. As levels of cortisol rise, electric signals in your hippocampus – the part of the brain associated with learning, memories, and stress control, deteriorate.

The hippocampus also inhibits the activity of the HPA axis, so when it weakens, so does your ability to control your stress. That’s not all, though. Cortisol can literally cause your brain to shrink in size. Too much of it results in the loss of synaptic connections between neurons and the shrinking of your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that regulates behaviour like concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction. It also leads to fewer new brain cells being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress might make it harder for you to learn and remember things, and also set the stage for more serious mental problems, like depression and eventually Alzheimer’s disease.

The effects of stress may filter right down to your brain’s DNA. An experiment showed that the amount of nurturing a mother rat provides its newborn baby plays a part in determining how that baby responds to stress later in life. The pups of nurturing mums turned out less sensitive to stress because their brains developed more cortisol receptors, which stick to cortisol and dampen the stress response. The pups of negligent mums had the opposite outcome, and so became more sensitive to stress throughout life. These are considered epigenetic changes, meaning that they effect which genes are expressed without directly changing the genetic code. These changes can be reversed if the mums are swapped. But there’s a surprising result. The epigenetic changes caused by one single mother rat were passed down to many generations of rats after her. In other words, the results of these actions were inheritable.

It’s not all bad news, though – there are many ways to reverse what cortisol does to your stressed brain. The most powerful weapons are exercise, meditation and an awareness of not only these physical connections but the mind/body connection. These involve breathing deeply and being aware and bringing focus to your surroundings, interactions with others and yourself. These activities decrease your stress and increase the size of the hippocampus, thereby improving your memory.”

Living Authentically

As we’ve learned, it’s not just the physical and biochemical connections but the simultaneously intimate and emotional connection of our heart and mind. The mind/body connection is an essential constituent in order to have healthy functioning and positive wellbeing, which ultimately lays a path for an enhanced spiritual connection.

The World Health Organisation has defined health as follows:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Health is a process of becoming, experienced by the individual. It is a person’s unfolding as they co-create patterns of relating with people and environments, not a person’s adapting or coping. Health is a person’s lived experiences, arising out of a synthesis of values – or to be authentic with one’s self.

The human condition can learn to move from merely coping with life’s challenges to have the freedom of living a much fuller life. Actively living our ethics through our relationships is also the modelling that our children need and addresses the generational gift that we can give, to them and ourselves!

The Key to Personal Resilience is Emotional Intelligence

When we feel a sense of well-being, the level of stress hormones in our bodies decrease, while the life-affirming chemistry of a powerful immune system with anti-aging properties increase. The shift between the stress response and a feeling of well-being can often happen quite quickly.

Studies documented by the Institute of HeartMath (IHM), a pioneering research organisation based in California, have shown that cortisol levels can decrease as much as 23 percent, and levels of DHEA, a life-affirming precursor to other vital hormones in the body, can increase 100 percent if we spend as little as three minutes using focused techniques designed to produce such responses. You can view the study here:

(The Impact of a New Emotional Self-Management Program on Stress, Emotions, Heart Rate Variability, DHEA and Cortisol)

The techniques that are found to have such benefits upon our health are the same ones that create the resilience in our hearts. This is the key to personal resilience in life. The quality of our emotions determines the signals our hearts send to our brains.

Psychology Today says, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

Emotional intelligence possess the following skills: awareness of our own feeling state, along with being able to identify the emotions of others; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to activities like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to regulate emotions, including the ability to control our own emotions, and the ability to empathy for another person.

The connection of heart and mind is the balancing act of emotional intelligence

To live mindfully with emotional intelligence is to feel more competent. Competency and confidence in our ability to think, ability to cope with the basic troubles that arise in our personal lives or in our careers – it allows for life to work better. The more solid our self-esteem, the more disposed we are to form nourishing rather than toxic relationships.

The value lies not merely in the fact that it allows us to feel better but that it allows us to live better – to respond to challenges and opportunities more resourcefully and more appropriately. With mind/body congruency in our life, the more resilient and better equipped we are to pick ourselves up after a fall; the more energy we have to begin anew.

“If our self esteem is low, we feel powerless and we become aware of the lack in our lives. As we find ourselves more confident on the recovery road we begin to find value and power within and abundance all around us.”

Pia Mellody, therapist, lecturer and author. Director of The Meadows Arizona, USA

Emotional Tools for Life

Massage therapy is an effective tool in reconnecting and a means to address many of the conditions that result from stress, chronic or acute, and has both increased psychological and physical benefits.

In addition to massage solutions, Enhance Connections has developed a series of workshops that focus specifically on mind/body connections to build emotional intelligence. Tools 4 Life is an experiential workshop offering resources in navigating the future by understanding the past so that the participant can live more authentically in the present. The tools are simple, direct and fulfilling. You can learn more about what the workshops offer in a further article entitled Resources for Healthy and Authentic Living.

It is in connecting with our feelings and our true selves at the critical time of life’s transition and periods of acute and chronic stress that enables us to seek the answers and address matters with more clarity in a healthy way. Tools 4 Life assists in learning to move from just merely coping with life’s challenges to having the freedom of living a much fuller life.

It can be seen that for the human condition to perform at its optimum best, it relies on an integrated multifaceted and intrinsic series of connections. Enhance Connections provides solutions to assist you enhance your own connections in order to facilitate healthy functioning, emotional intelligence and overall positive wellbeing.


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Why Everyone Needs to Meditate

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(via breakingmuscle.com)

Meditation is a practice with a slight image problem. It gets nothing but praise from health and psychology literature, and from our most elite performers. But most people see meditation as a bizarre first step towards a life of Volkswagen vans and Birkenstocks. Meditation undeservedly suffers from many negative connotations and labels. It conjures associations with a battery of pseudo-sciences and weird superstitions: hypnotism, tarot cards, and people who make their own soap and feed their dogs a purely organic diet of free range unicorn meat sourced from a land of zero pollution and no conflict where the national anthem is Kumbaya.

Our Foreign, Modern World

The human organism is not designed for most of the fast-paced developments of life in post-industrial revolution society. From our unbelievably full calendars, to the tyranny of the clock over our lives, to daily traffic jams, to the ever-growing list of threats the news assures us will kill us next, we are constantly in a state of mental constipation and thought whack-a-mole. It all takes a mental toll. From all this overload, we grow numb to the challenges that really matter.

There is a visible difference in the current generation to the last, and it is most noticeable at school. Freshman and sophomores emerge from their parents’ vehicles without so much as a wave goodbye. They walk across the street, unaware of traffic as they scroll through their phones. Halls are quieter now. There is very low risk of fist fights or pranks, as kids wait for class by finding a seat and becoming lost in the isolation of social media and phone games. Why flirt with a girl in person, when you can control the delivery with a perfect snapchat? When class starts, the itch is felt and many students hardly realize they’re checking their phone every two or three minutes. I could go on, but you get the drift. Many adults aren’t doing any better; they’re just slower to adopt the technology.

Mobile phones are not the only unnatural development of our world; they are just the most obvious. Most people really have no control over their thoughts and actions. They are guided by the whims of advertisements and popular trends. They thoughtlessly satisfy their habitual cravings for sugar, information, and possessions that are supposed to bring fulfillment. They’re in a constant state of superficial desire.

The confluence of ubiquitous media and a life largely free of the challenges of humanity’s past have resulted in unrealistic expectations that create disappointment and a bizarre epidemic of victimhood. Anxiety and depression grow at epidemic rates. Our reaction, as with everything, is that we must need something—a pill, a new car, or a cupcake. We don’t deal with the causes; we simply seek a mask for the symptoms, and make ourselves oblivious whatever side effects come with it.

The Universal Utility of Meditation

We cannot persist with the notion that we don’t need any guidance on how to navigate or properly insulate ourselves against the massive issues presented by the drastic changes of the last century. We all struggle at some level with at least some of these challenges.

Many will say, “I’m not anxious or depressed. I don’t need meditation.” But like exercise, meditation is not a punishment. It’s a training process that provides an essential antidote for the unnatural patterns of our day, while giving a structured approach to improve any undesirable behavior. Are you angry, depressed, overwhelmed, and at the whim of every craving? Meditation trains you to dispassionately observe thoughts and let them pass. It trains emotional control, discipline, and focus. Similar to stoicism, it orients the mind for clarity and practicality of actions. You learn to focus on what you can control, and not be swept away by every fear and impulse.

For the chronically anxious, it’s a practice in feeling anxiety without feeding it. It’s a discovery that strong emotion requires a lot of thought fuel, and that these patterns can be stopped at any moment. So whether you are a parent who can’t stop worrying about their kids, or a student who is always anxious about social perception, meditation offers great utility. The parent can begin to allow their kids to live and make some mistakes that will help them grow. The student can begin that glorious process towards truly not caring what everyone thinks.

For the chronically unhealthy, meditation is a practice in discipline and noticing impulses. The first step to stopping mindless overeating is mindfulness. When we notice our cravings and identify them for what they are, they become far less powerful. Meditation also offers the perspective of a process-oriented approach. We can drop the worries of having to give up all these future sweets, and instead enjoy the process of trying something new here and there. For the physically wimpy, meditation allows one to stop sensationalizing future workout pains, and instead apply an appropriate attention to each moment of the training. It offers discipline not to let emotions talk us out of the actions that will bring real fulfillment and self-worth.

For the chronically impatient or angry, meditation offers a strategy to lower our stress level and reframe each situation in a neutral or even positive light. It allows us to get some distance from what’s upsetting us, and realize that the patience was within us all along. Andy Puddicombe, creator of Headspace, explains that meditation allows us to step back and see moments of stress, anxiety, and anger as if they are a storm we are watching from inside. It’s far less intense from the safety of your own home. The result of this mental training is that we drop labels like “I’m an impatient person,” and learn that these are simply feelings.

For the chronically negative or the persistent victim, meditation allows one to notice the negative pattern as soon as it starts. In his book, Hard Optimism, Price Pritchett explains that training a more optimistic mind is far less about forcing a phony positivity, than it is about noticing negative thought patterns and stopping them.

The Catalyst of Success

Becoming aware of the thoughts that drive our perceptions is very powerful. Almost all the labels and feelings we attach to things in our lives are just different interpretations and manifestations of the same challenges. It is from this awareness that change is possible. Often, what needs to change is our expectation of the world and where we choose to focus.

Meditation is a practice in mastery of the paradox. I accept myself as I am, and then I am able to change. I live more fully in this moment, and am more productive than ever, creating a better future. By trying to do less, I’m able to be far more productive in those pursuits that matter. Society has forgotten that inspiration rarely strikes without action. We all need the right actions; first a physical practice, and second a mental training practice: meditation.

Perhaps you’re blessed with abundant happiness and drive, balanced with high emotional intelligence. People need meditation to varying degrees. It certainly isn’t the only way to train the mind, and it isn’t a magical quick fix. There are tons of happy, successful people who’ve never meditated, and daily meditation does not preclude you from being a jerk. However, it is an extremely effective method that, over time, can become a catalyst for positive life changes and success.

If we can help erase the negative connotations of meditation, more people might be motivated to experiment with this mental training. Let’s redefine commitment to meditation as a marker of tenacity and strength, rather than hokey and soft. This pursuit is tough, and requires SEAL-like discipline.

There are mental training approaches out there that make foundational change possible. A new respect for meditation might open you up to more reflection and less distraction. It might help you see that there is no reason to empower any one thought, and that often the solution lies in returning your focus to the moment and what you can control.

Read from source: http://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/why-everyone-needs-to-meditate


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The Healing Power of Love

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Through his clinical trials and research at the University of California and at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute that he founded, renowned cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish maintains that emotional and spiritual heart dis-ease can be as damaging to our health as physical heart disease.

Dr Ornish has scientifically substantiated that the most powerful intervention is the profound healing power of love, and intimacy and the emotional and spiritual transformation that often result from these to heal the body and the soul. The results of his research have led to the publication of his latest book, Love and Survival: 8 pathways to Intimacy and Health. This book is based on a simple but powerful idea: Our survival depends on the healing power of love, intimacy, and relationships. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. As individuals. As communities. As a country. As a culture. Perhaps even as a species.

In his book Dr Ornish describes the increasing scientific evidence from his own research and from the studies of others that cause him to believe that love and intimacy are among the most powerful factors in health and illness, even though these ideas are largely ignored by the medical profession. He reviews the extensive scientific literature that supports these ideas, and describes the limitations of science to document and understand the full range of these implications — not only in our health and illness, but also in what often brings the most joy, value, and meaning to our lives.

Dr Ornish says, “Medicine today tends to focus primarily on the physical and mechanistic: drugs and surgery, genes and germs, microbes and molecules. I am not aware of any other factor in medicine — not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery — that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.”

“Love and intimacy are at a root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads us to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for their patients. It would be malpractice not to prescribe it — yet, with few exceptions, we doctors do not learn much about the healing power of love, intimacy, and transformation in our medical training. Rather, these ideas are often ignored or even denigrated.”

“I am a scientist. I believe in the value of science as a powerful means of gaining greater understanding of the world we live in. Science can help us sort out truth from fiction, hype from reality, what works from what doesn’t work, from whom, and under what circumstances. Although I respect the ways and power of science, I also understand its limitations as well. What is most meaningful often cannot be measured. What is verifiable may not necessarily be what is most important.”

In today’s accelerated evolution of scientific understanding of meta physics and quantum theory we may still not yet have the tools to measure what is most meaningful to people, but the value of those experiences is not diminished by our inability to quantify them. We can listen, we can learn, and we can benefit greatly from those who have had these experiences. When we gather together to tell and listen to each other’s stories, the sense of community and the recognition of shared experiences can be profoundly healing.


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OMG, you’re texting your way to back pain

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The average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds when it’s in the upright or neutral position. However, because of that pesky thing called physics — gravitational pull — the cranium becomes heavier the more you bend your neck. Several times heavier in fact ….. Read from Source


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