Archive for January, 2018

Photo: GIC

Mindfulness and meditation are all about cultivating an intimate relationship with yourself and the present moment, but these practices also boast transformative benefits for intimacy with your partner. Relationship intimacy involves emotional closeness, which is a key component of maintaining a meaningful relationship. In an age when busyness is our modern-day epidemic, and hyper-connectedness is the norm, mindfulness and meditation become lifelines for the success of our relationships.

The research is in! A meta-analysis published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Human Sciences and Extension found that mindfulness can be linked to profoundly satisfying, connected relationships. This meta-analysis looked at the results from 12 studies, including two mindfulness intervention studies. Overall, mindfulness was shown to enhance relationship connectedness and satisfaction. The practice of presence starts from within, but the benefits extend far beyond ourselves. Here are three reasons mindfulness and meditation will make you a better partner:

1. Meditation will help you be less reactive.

Neuroscience now validates what ancient yogis have known for years: that brain change happens through practices that connect the mind, body, and spirit. A consistent mindfulness practice decreases the amygdala’s density (the amygdala is a small part of the brain that acts as an alarm system, detecting threat), thus increasing our capacity to regulate our emotions in the face of anger, agitation, and fear. How does this translate to relationships? Think about a moment when you’re reacting to something your partner said or did, a moment when you’re feeling rejected, invalidated, or unloved. In these micro-moments, emotions such as anger, sadness, or fear often arise instantaneously in the nervous system. A mindfulness practitioner, however, can witness these emotions with objectivity, experiencing less reactivity due to changes in their brain. Reactivity is released through mindfulness and self-observation.

2. Mindfulness teaches us to speak from our hearts.

Viktor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” That space is mindfulness. Most of us lead perpetually busy lives of inundated inboxes, endless texts, and social media scrolling; we have little to no space to actually slow down to take in this life we’re living alongside our loved ones. The practice of presence (whether we’re talking about formal meditation or a mindfulness practice such as belly breathing) guides us back home to our loving, compassionate heart. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education did a study on the neurobiology of love; their findings showed that through mindful presence, romantic partners are able to deactivate parts of their brains associated with negative emotions and criticism.

3. Meditation will help you stay calm—and it will rub off on your partner.

Research shows that meditators begin to value an embodied sense of calm and become more likely to engage in thoughtful, mindful, interpersonal connections with others. A study led by Birgit Koopmann-Holm of Stanford found that meditators placed a higher premium on calmness than non-meditators. Neuroscience tells us that mirror neurons (brain cells that “mirror” the behavior of another) act as catalysts for calm interactions with our partner. In other words, if we choose to embody a calm presence with our loved one no matter what is unfolding around us, our partner will likely mirror this very behavior in response. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to meet the moment with full acceptance and without judgment. When we gift our presence to the people around us, we enhance our capacity for joyful living, interconnectedness, and meaningful relationships.

In a world where distraction is pervasive, living in the present moment is the greatest gift me can give ourselves. Mindfulness and meditation are there to teach us that health is about You. We. All and help us find what we seek most: partnerships full of love, depth, and joy.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/relationship-meditation-makes-you-a-better-partner?utm_term=pos-3&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180131

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While a cesarean delivery is sometimes necessary and can be lifesaving, it may have serious long-term disadvantages for both mother and child, researchers report.

The analysis, in PLOS Medicine, pooled data from 80 studies including almost 30 million subjects.

Compared to vaginal delivery, C-sections were associated with a significant reduction in the risk for urinary incontinence and for pelvic organ prolapse, a dangerous weakening of the muscles that hold pelvic organs in place.

But for a pregnancy following a cesarean, there was a 17 percent increased probability of miscarriage and a 27 percent increased probability of stillbirth. The researchers also found nearly triple the probability for placenta accreta, in which the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall, and an increased chance of other placental problems.

Children delivered by cesarean had a 21 percent increased probability of asthma by age 12 and a nearly 60 percent increased likelihood of obesity up to age 5.

Still, the absolute risks of delivery-related problems were small. “Both kinds of delivery have very low risks of complications,” said the senior author, Dr. Sarah J. Stock, an obstetrician at the University of Edinburgh. “With placenta accreta, for example, the risk is one in 3,000, and it goes up to three in 3,000 with cesarean. These are rare but serious risks.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/well/family/cesarean-delivery-can-pose-long-term-risks-to-mother-and-child.html

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Credit: Shutterstock

Drinking probiotic-rich milk during pregnancy may decrease a woman’s risk of developing two pregnancy-related problems, a new study from Norway suggests. But the stage of pregnancy in which a woman consumes these probiotic-rich beverages appears to play a role.

Researchers found that women’s intake of probiotic milk during early pregnancy was linked with a lower risk for preterm delivery (delivery before the 37th week of pregnancy), compared with the risk for pregnant women who did not consume probiotic milks at all. They also found an association between probiotic-milk intake during late pregnancy and a lower risk for preeclampsia, according to the findings, which were published today (Jan. 23) in the journal BMJ Open.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication in which pregnant women have high blood pressure and a high level of protein in the urine. The condition can have systemic, or body-wide, effects.

Both conditions — preeclampsia and preterm delivery — are associated with a higher degree of inflammation in the body than can be expected in a normal pregnancy, said lead author Dr. Mahsa Nordqvist, an OB/GYN at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden.

Probiotics — or “good” bacteria — might help reduce inflammation in the body and, therefore, potentially reduce the risk of these pregnancy complications, Nordqvist told Live Science. [8 Tips to Be a Probiotic Pro]

In the study, the researchers looked at data collected from about 70,000 pregnant women in Norway, who were participants in the long-running Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. As a part of that study, the women completed questionnaires about their health history and lifestyle habits at the 15th and 30th week of pregnancy, and provided information about their diets at the 22nd week of pregnancy.

The lifestyle questionnaires asked women about their intake of probiotic milk products before pregnancy, as well as during early and late pregnancy. Probiotic milk products are popular and widely available in Norway, Nordqvist noted.

Products such as kefir, milk containing the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, and yogurts with added probiotics might be considered comparable products to the probiotic milks described in the study, Nordqvist added. However, the researchers did not look at probiotic supplements because only a very small percentage of the women in the study said they used them.

About 23 percent of the women in the study reported that they drank probiotic milk before becoming pregnant, about 38 percent drank it during early pregnancy (meaning up until the 13th week of pregnancy) and 32 percent consumed probiotic milk during late pregnancy (between the 13th and 30th week of pregnancy). The women drank about 1.5 cups a day, on average, of milk products containing the live active bacteria.

The researchers found that drinking probiotic milk during late pregnancy was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of preeclampsia, compared with not drinking probiotic milk during late pregnancy. [9 Conditions Pregnancy May Bring]

The results appear to suggest that consuming probiotics late in pregnancy can lower the risk of preeclampsia by reducing symptoms, such as high blood pressure and protein in the urine, which tend to occur in the third trimester, Nordqvist said.

The timing of probiotic-milk intake also appeared to make a difference for premature delivery: Drinking probiotic milk in early pregnancy was linked to a 21 percent lower risk of preterm delivery, compared with not drinking probiotic milk during early pregnancy.

One explanation for this result is that preterm delivery can often be related to infection, which leads to inflammation in the body, Nordqvist said. The results suggest that if the body’s inflammatory response can be lowered at an early stage of pregnancy, this may lower the risk of giving birth too early, she said.

The researchers noted that the study had limitations. For example, the researchers weren’t able to evaluate which of the probiotic milk products or which strains of bacteria in them may have inflammation-lowering effects. In addition, the study did not prove cause-and-effect; instead, it showed an association between probiotic milk and these pregnancy complications.

Dr. Susanne Bathgate, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., said that the study was ambitious and that one of its strengths was that it looked at dietary information from a large number of pregnant women. Bathgate has researched preeclampsia but was not involved in the study.

Doctors currently recommend that pregnant women at high risk of preeclampsia take a low dose of aspirin daily in their second trimester, which is thought to help reduce inflammation, Bathgate said. As Nordqvist noted, many of the pathways involved in both preeclampsia and preterm birth are thought to be influenced by inflammation, and some inflammation may originate from the placenta, Bathgate said.

So, the idea that reducing inflammation might change pregnancy outcomes makes sense, but more research is needed before doctors can make recommendations that pregnant women drink probiotic milk to help prevent complications, Bathgate told Live Science. Probiotic milk may be a fairly common part of people’s diet in Norway, but it’s not in the United States, she said.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/61506-probiotic-milk-pregnancy.html

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If your new acquaintance does any of these things, you should probably stay away.

You know how damaging it can be to have a toxic person in your workplace, or in your life. Unfortunately, most of them don’t come with warning labels the way toxic chemicals do. Many of them seem very likable at first. After all, most toxic people are good manipulators, so getting you to like them is part of their toolkit.

Is there a way to tell early on–ideally the first time you meet–that someone will turn out to be a toxic person? While there’s no foolproof method to tell right away if a new friend or colleague will be a drag on your energy, mood, or productivity, there are some early warning signs many toxic people display. If you encounter any of these when meeting someone for the first time–and especially if you encounter several of them–proceed with caution:

1. They badmouth someone else.

I once went for an interview at a company where the CEO told me about the deficiencies he saw in his second-in-command. That seemed like a big red flag to me, and I was right–I tried working there on a part-time basis for a couple of months but quickly left when the CEO proved much too toxic to work with. If someone you meet criticizes or complains about a third party who isn’t present, that may be a sign that you’re dealing with a toxic person–and when you’re not around they’ll say bad stuff about you. (The exception is when the comment makes sense in context, for instance if someone criticizes the Democratic candidate when you’re at a Republican fundraiser.)

2. They complain.

Most toxic people are championship-level complainers. Listening to them gripe can be bad for your mood, your productivity, and maybe even your health. Plus, if you’re like many people, you’re in danger of getting sucked in, trying to fix whatever they’re unhappy about. That’s almost always a losing proposition. So if someone starts off your acquaintance with a lot of complaining, think hard about whether you want that person and their many dissatisfactions in your life.

3. They ask for special treatment.

You know who I mean. The person who expects you to accept their submission even though it’s a day or two past the deadline. The person who absolutely must get into your event for free even though everyone else is paying admission. If someone asks you for a special favor when you’ve only just met, just imagine what they’ll ask for once they get to know you better.

4. They boast.

If you’re meeting someone for a (formal or informal) job interview, it’s natural for them to talk about their accomplishments. In other situations, someone who bends your ear for five minutes about how successful their last project was or how high their revenue is trying too hard to influence your thinking. Be wary.

5. They put you on the defensive.

Sometimes this happens so subtly that you can’t even say for sure how it was done. But you suddenly feel the need to explain to this person you’ve barely met why you made the choices you did, or why your organization isn’t so bad after all. Someone who makes you feel like you have to constantly defend yourself, your company, or your beliefs is going to be exhausting to spend time with.

6. They make you work to please them.

This happens to me all the time, and I bet it happens to you, too. Someone tells you they just can’t find the app they need for what they want to do. Or they’ve put together a proposal, but it just isn’t quite right. Or all their hopes ride on their child getting into that one special school. Before you know it, you’re trying to write an app for them, or seeking out inside tips to improve their proposal, or calling all your friends to see if anyone you know happens to know someone on the admissions committee for the school they want.

Stop right there. Anyone who has you tying yourself in knots to help them when you’ve only just met will only manipulate you into greater and greater efforts as time goes on. And you already know they’re extremely difficult to please.

7. They don’t show interest in your concerns.

You’ve just had a 10-minute conversation with a new acquaintance and you already know where they grew up, that they got divorced six months ago, and that they just landed a promotion. Meantime, they don’t even know where you work or what you do for a living.

Someone who expects you to be interested in every aspect of their life but has zero curiosity about yours is highly likely to be a toxic person. Be on your guard.

8. They don’t make you feel good.

Do a gut check. How do you feel after talking with this person? How would you feel at the prospect of, say, spending an hour with them over lunch or coffee? If spending time with someone makes you tense or unhappy, there’s a decent chance that this is a toxic person. So if you feel negative, it’s worth trying to figure out why. Maybe this is someone from a different culture, or you feel intimidated by their intelligence or success, in which case you should probably try to overcome your resistance. But it could also be that this is a toxic person, and you should follow your instincts when they tell you to walk away.

Source: https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/heres-how-to-tell-if-someone-is-a-toxic-person-in-first-5-minutes.html?cid=cp01002cnbc&__source=facebook%7Cmakeit

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Photo: Elsa Noblet

We often hear about the importance of creating a vision board as a means of achieving our dreams, but what is a vision board really? Quite simply, it’s a tool for manifestation. We live in an intention-dependent universe where thoughts become things. Instead of letting another year just happen, how can you best use your time on this planet? You’ll want to make sure you’re being clear and deliberate about what you want to create in your life.

Here are three steps to creating a top-notch vision board:

1. Get clear.

Can you imagine sitting down in a restaurant and asking the waitress for “some food”? You’re technically following directions. You’re pleasant, you’re in an establishment where food is served, and you’re willing to wait and pay for the service—but you’re not being specific. So you won’t actually get what you want.

While we’re nearly a month into 2018, if you haven’t gotten clear on your goals for this year yet, trust me—there’s still time! Think of the Universe as a cosmic restaurant full of endless possibilities, but you have one very important job: You must get clear on your order. I created an exercise specifically for this reason: Finish Strong, Start Stronger. In this powerful guided visualization, I will walk you through each step, from celebrating your successes from the year behind you all the way through full a visualization of all that you want to achieve in 2018. You can even use this handy Design Your Dream 2018worksheet to keep track of your answers.

I’m also going to challenge you to pull the lens back and set some goals this year that are a little more big-picture than how many zeros you want in your bank account. How can you contribute to the greater good? Maybe it’s a charity you want to devote some time to or an impact you want to make on your community. Whatever it is, it should feel charming, not like work.

2. Get creative.

A vision board is quite simply a visual representation of these desires, and now that you’re crystal clear on those, it’s time for the fun part. You will need:

  • Any kind of board—a pin board, cork board, or simple poster board from the drugstore.
  • Double-sided tape or a glue stick.
  • Scissors.
  • 3-5 magazines to cut images and quotes from. (I like a mix of travel, international, fashion, home, yoga.)
  • Mementos and/or photos. Things that inspire you.
  • Your filled-out Design Your Dream 2018 worksheet.
  • Time. Carve out an hour or more to spend creating your board and envisioning your year.
  • Extra credit: Any art supplies that make you happy. Watercolors, stickers, or even crayons.
  • Double extra credit: Get cozy. Pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Light a candle if it makes you feel fancy. Relax and enjoy.

Photo: Emily Fletcher

First you’re going to want to go through the magazines and cut out words, photos, and images that are inspiring to you, and then go through and get really specific about everything else. There are things you can’t find in magazines (maybe a podcast you want to be a guest on or a charity you want to raise money for), so you would need to find digital images of those, put it all in a document, and print it out.

You could do categories if it feels charming, or you could just do it in a way that feels visually inspiring. Make it a real art project, and let nature and creativity flow through you. Place it all first, and then, instead of using a glue stick, go ahead and use some double-sided tape. This is a little pro tip, because the double-sided tape lasts a little bit longer and the glue stick can wear off.

3. Get lost.

My favorite vision-boarding tip might go against everything you have ever heard on the subject, but what I recommend is that you hide it. Burn it up in your fire pit, or take a gentler approach and hide it under your bed or in your closet somewhere.

Hear me out: You don’t need it anymore because you have already placed the order. After you order your food in a restaurant, you don’t keep pointing at the menu every time the waitress walks by. You don’t keep telling her how hungry you are or asking to see the chef—you trust that your order has been placed and that it is on the way to you. The same thing applies here. Surrender and trust that it is on the way. Or something more beautiful that you could not even yet imagine is on the way to you.

Detachment is paramount to successfully manifesting things in your life. It is the realization that your happiness does not lie on the other side of any of these things on your vision board. This is one of the most fundamental concepts from the Vedas: Our happiness, our bliss, our fulfillment always exist in one place and that’s inside of us, and they always exist in one time, and that is right now. We’re not making these vision boards so that we can go and acquire all these things to acquire happiness—instead, we meditate to access our bliss and fulfillment internally, and then we use our desires; we use these inspirations as an indicator of where nature wants to use us to deliver our fulfillment.

This is exactly why I founded Ziva Meditation: We are living in challenging times, and it’s more important than ever to get quiet and tap into that least excited state of awareness because that is where nature communicates to us most clearly. Where we’re able to hear all these beautiful little whispers, our intuition, our inspiration. This is divinity; this is nature; this is our higher self talking to us.

Want more ideas for how to build a vision board? Here’s a guide.

Souce: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-create-a-vision-board-to-help-you-get-exactly-what-you-want-in-2018?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180127

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What role does Instagram play in your life?

I decided to start @Vanillacooldance while my 27-year-old self was illegally residing in a flat with 17 roommates, unemployed and recently dumped. While I was not drowning my sorrows in a massive tub of ice cream, let’s just say I wasn’t at my best. By beginning to doodle, I was able to look at the comedic side of my ridiculous situation, and life.

I’m constantly on Instagram as both a comic artist and an art director. Looking for inspiration and new talent.

Nothing makes the world feel like a bit smaller, than when one of my posts takes off and I can see how many people – primarily women – relate to my stories. I hope the comics encourage my followers to laugh at themselves and their own insecurities.


What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

I would be grabbing my day-bag from a hostel in a foreign country and spending the day exploring.


What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?

In 2014 I quit my Advertising job in New York to solo backpack around Southeast Asia – where I ate lots of questionable street food and met people from all over the world.
I then swapped rice fields for windmills and moved to Amsterdam. Deciding to break from convention and to move abroad was a significant choice that has affected my life in many positive ways. I hope to encourage others to do the same.


If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Teleportation. That way I could instantly get from a man’s bed back to my own. Kidding…kinda! I would use this amazing superpower to travel all over the world. Especially to visit my friends and family back in the U.S.


What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Leaving my life in America to start completely from scratch in Amsterdam, with zero plan and an adventurous spirit.
I also successfully launched a fun and creative Ad-agency-inspired line of Bloody Mary’s perfected over a few tipsy afternoons in my kitchen. Created to restore creativity after a night out. This was a really fun project and led to my current job.


Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

To be honest, up until this point in my life I have been taking steps to achieve and do all of the things I dreamed of. That is except for marrying Gerard Butler, but I fear he would need to know who I am first before I can make that happen.


Where do you find inspiration?

From daily life, the funny situations I get myself into and way too many Tinder dates.


The best way to relax?

A glass…I mean…a bottle of red wine, and binge watching a new TV series.


If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?

Eleven from Stranger Things. First off, it would be a really easy dinner to make considering she loves Eggos. And, could you imagine all of the comic content I would get out of meeting a telekinetic?


A book or a film that transformed your life?

Before my travels, I read the book “A House in the Sky” – a memoir by Amanda Lindhout about her experiences traveling the world, often as a solo female traveler. As I read about all of her wonderful journeys, I thought to myself ‘I have to do this’…minus the part of being held hostage. The first half of the book, in which she is traveling to new countries and experiencing different cultures truly inspired me, so I decided to set off on the first backpacking adventure of my own through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. To find out how her story ends you have to read the book yourself. And to find out how mine ends, well I guess you have to follow my comics!


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The IQOS “heat-not-burn” tobacco product by Philip Morris.

Credit: Akio Kon/Bloomberg/Getty

A new tobacco device by Philip Morris, known as IQOS, shouldn’t go to market with the claim that it reduces disease risk compared with traditional cigarettes, a panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded today (Jan. 25), according to news reports.

But how exactly do these products work, and why did the FDA make this call?

The IQOS is a type of “heat-not-burn” tobacco product. These products could be thought of as “in the middle between [traditional] cigarettes and vaping products,” said William Shadel, associate director of the Population Health Program at Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization.

The devices use disposable tobacco “sticks” that are heated to give off an aerosol, but do not burn. Specifically, these tobacco sticks contain processed tobacco along with a few other components, including water, glycerin and cellulose fibers, according to Philip Morris. The sticks are placed into a holder, which heats the tobacco through an electronically controlled “heating blade,” the company said.

The tobacco is heated up to a temperature of 662 degrees Fahrenheit (350 degrees Celsius), which is enough to create an aerosol, but not enough to burn it. (Tobacco in traditional cigarettes burns at a temperature of about 1,110 degrees Fahrenheit [600 degrees C], according to Philip Morris.) The product also comes with a charger to recharge the electronic holder. [10 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking]

Heat-not-burn products are different from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), because the latter heat up and vaporize a liquid, which usually contains nicotine, Shadel said, while the former heats actual tobacco.

Philip Morris claims that, because IQOS doesn’t burn the tobacco, the product releases much lower levels of the harmful chemicals typically found in tobacco smoke. The company wants to sell the product with the claim that using the products reduces the risk of tobacco-related disease, compared with using traditional cigarettes.

But the FDA panel voted to reject this claim, saying that the company hadn’t provided enough evidence to show that its product lowers disease risk compared with cigarettes, according to Reuters. The panel did, however, endorse the claim that the product releases lower levels of toxic chemicals compared with traditional cigarettes.

Shadel said that this conclusion “seems about right based on the evidence available so far.”

In theory, heat-and-burn products could be safer because they don’t lead to the combustion of tobacco, Shadel said. But “there’s just not enough evidence that users will incur less risk” from using the products, Shadel told Live Science.

Shadel noted that most of the studies on IQOS have been conducted by Philip Morris, and much more research is needed by independent researchers who are not associated with the company to determine the safety of the product.

In addition, it’s “unclear whether or not enough smokers would actually switch to these products” to have a public health benefit, Shadel said.

The panel’s conclusion is just a recommendation, and in the coming months the FDA will make a final decision on whether Philip Morris can sell IQOS in the United States, and what claims the company will be able to make about the device, according to Reuters. The product is already available in 29 countries, according to Philip Morris.


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