Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dawn Gluskin: 37 Life Lessons in 37 Years

By Dawn Gluskin

Today is my 37th birthday. And, I must say, it's been a pretty interesting ride so far. As I look back over the years and many phases of my Iife, I realize how each stage, success, stumble, triumph and heartache has had a significant impact on where I stand right now. And despite the rough patches, I love it all.

From a shy yet studious little girl, to an artsy and somewhat rebellious teenager, to a happy-go-lucky big-dreaming 20-something with a bit of a wild side, my metamorphosis were plentiful in my early years. Now into my 30s, my heart has grown a few sizes larger and overflows with motherly love as I've discovered what matters most in life. And my entrepreneurial experiences have been a crash course in lessons of life, business and self that, at times, brought me to the brink of what I thought I could handle, only to be rewarded nicely for sticking it out and seeing it through.

As I continue to step more fully into myself each day and bring to light my mission of helping others build their own dreams with joy and ease, I've racked my brain to think of my top 37 life lessons so far. On this day of celebrating another trip around the sun, I share these with you and hope you find inspiration as I have. 

Top 37 Life Lessons So Far

Happiness comes from within. We spend way too much of our lives looking for outside validation and approval that eludes us. Turns out, it's been an inside job all along. Go inward.

Be grateful for everything. The good, the bad, the ugly. Our entire life is a precious gift. The pleasure, the pain -- it's all part of our path.

Subtle shifts in perception will transform your entire life. When feeling fearful, angry, hurt, simply choose to see a situation differently.

In being true to yourself, you can't possibly make everybody else happy. Still, it's better to risk being disliked for living your truth than to be loved for what you are pretending to be.

The world is our mirror. What we love in others is a reflection of what we love about ourselves. What upsets us about others is a strong indication of what we need to look at more closely within ourselves.

Everybody comes into our life for a reason. It is up to us to be open to the lesson they are meant to teach. The more someone rubs us the wrong way, the greater the lesson. Take notes.

Trust. In troubled times, just know that the Universe has your back and everything is going to be alright. If you're not there yet, trust in hindsight you will understand. Your higher good is being supported, always.

Never take things personally. What others do is a reflection of what's going on in their own life and probably has little or nothing to do with you.

A walk in nature cures a lot. Taking in some fresh air and the beautiful landscape of this earth is amazingly head-clearing, grounding, and mood-lifting. Bonus: You can learn a whole lot about life in your observation of the awesomeness which is nature.

Hurt people hurt people. Love them anyway. Although, it's totally okay to love them from a distance.

You have to feel it to heal it. Bring your fears and weaknesses front and center and shine a blazing spotlight on them because the only way out is through. The hurt of facing the truth is SO worth it in the long run, I swear.

Perfectionism is an illusion. A painful one at that. Ease up. Strive for excellence, sure, but allow yourself room to make mistakes and permission to be happy regardless of outcome.

Take the blinders off. Don't become so laser-focused on your own goals and desires that you miss out on the beauty in life and the people around you. The world is stunningly beautiful when you walk around with eyes wide open.

Celebrate the journey. It's not all about the destination. Savor all of your successes, even the small ones.

Forgiveness is not so much about the other person. It's about you and for you so that you can gain the peace and freedom you deserve. Forgive quickly and often.

We are all incredibly intuitive. When we learn to become still and listen, we can tap into some pretty amazing primal wisdom. Listen to the quiet whisper of your heart. It knows the way.

Let your soul shine! Be authentic. There is nobody else on this earth just like you. Step into your truth wholeheartedly and live and breathe your purpose.

We are powerful creators. Seriously, bad-asses. With intention, focus, and persistence -- anything is possible. Know this.

I am full of light. You are full of light. We are all full of light. Some cast shadows on their own brightness. Be a beacon of light to others and show them the way.

Don't take life too seriously! Nobody gets out alive anyway. Smile. Be goofy. Take chances. Have fun.

Surround yourself with people who love and support you. And, love and support them right back! Life is too short for anything less.

Learn the delicate dance. Have big beautiful dreams and vision. Chase them with much passion. But, also hold on to them all ever so lightly. Be flexible and willing to flow as life comes at you.

Giving is the secret to receiving. Share your wisdom, your love, your talents. Share freely and be amazed at how much beauty in life flows back to you.

On that note, be careful not to give too much. If you empty out your own cup completely, you will have nothing left to give. Balance is key.

Say "YES!" to everything that lights you up. Say "no", unapologetically, to anything that doesn't excite you or you don't have the bandwidth for. Time is one of our most precious resources that we can never get back. Manage it wisely.

Sometimes we outgrow friendships. It doesn't mean they're bad or you're bad. It just means you're on different paths. Hold them in your heart, but when they start to hurt or hold you back, it's time to give space or let go.

Fear is often a very good indicator of what we really want and need in our life. Let it be your compass and enjoy the exciting adventure it leads you on.

Overcoming your fears is one of the most empowering things you can ever do for yourself. You'll prove to yourself you can truly accomplish anything! Major self-confidence booster.

Our bodies are our vehicle to our dreams. Treat them with love and fuel them with the best health to feel vibrant and energized. But, never obsess over image. Looks are subjective and will fade in time, anyway. Feeling good, healthy, and comfortable in our own skin is what matters most.

Let those that you love know it often and enthusiastically. You can never say it or show it too much. Your time, total presence, love, and genuine concern for their wellness is the greatest gift of all.

The present moment is where it's at. It's the only one promised to any of us. Learn from your past and enjoy the beautiful memories, but don't cling or let them haunt you. And, dream big and be excited about the future, but don't become obsessed. Love this moment, always.

Life is full of highs and lows. We need them both to grow to our fullest potential. Just hang on tight and enjoy the ride.

We are all connected as one human family. Nobody is better or worse than anyone else -- just at different stages of our journeys and dealing with life the best way we know how. Recognize that the other person is you.

Practice daily gratitude for all the blessings in your life, large and small. Not only is this a high vibe practice that feels amazing, in practicing regularly you are creating space for even more abundance -- of joy, love, health, and prosperity.

We are not the center of the universe, although our ego can make us feel that way at times. Step outside of that way of thinking and see the world and other people's perspective in a whole new beautiful light.

The world needs more love, light, and laughter. Go be love.

You are the guru. For much of our lives, we have been told what do, how to think, what looks good, what "success" is. You don't have to buy into any of it. Feel free to peel back the layers. 

Think for yourself. Break the mold. When you stop doing what everybody else wants you to do and start following your own intuition, you will be ridiculously happy.

In looking back at your own life, realize that every high and low is all part of your amazing story. Own it! 

Take cues and guidance from the universe and you will continue to go on an incredible ride as you fully step into your truth and power.

Age is just a number, but the higher it gets, the more wisdom and life experience we've amassed. You are never going to be younger than you are in this present moment again. So embrace it, love it, and enjoy it fully.

Here's to many more beautiful years of seeking-truth, questioning all that does not sit right, and making your greatest impact in the world.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kate Bartolotta: Four Things That Make the Difference BetweenSurviving and Thriving

By Kate Bartolotta

What makes the difference between people who get knocked down by life and stay down, and those who get back up?

In his book The Resiliency Advantage, Al Siebert wrote that:

... highly resilient people are flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly, and thrive in constant change. Most important, they expect to bounce back and feel confident that they will. They have a knack for creating good luck out of circumstances that many others see as bad luck.

While defining the characteristics of highly resilient people is helpful, what habits can we cultivate to strengthen our ability to respond to the difficult parts of life?

We cannot change our innate personalities. We cannot change how we were parented. We also cannot choose many of the circumstances we will encounter in our lives. In light of those things we cannot change, it makes sense that we would do everything in our power to choose habits that will serve to strengthen our ability to bounce back in difficult times.

The following habits can make the difference between getting up in the morning to face the day when life gets hard and wanting to crawl back under the covers:

1. Choose connection.

It can be tough to reach out when we are going through difficult times -- even if we crave connection. For those of us who tend to be introverted, it can be even more difficult.

Like all of the physical and mental resilience factors, this is a habit that we can cultivate; like building muscle, it gets stronger the more we do it. We don't have to become extroverted social butterflies to reap these benefits. Reaching out to a single friend or family member on a regular basis to touch in about how things are going is sufficient.

In our social media-saturated world, it might seem like this isn't an area that needs work, but consider how short and often superficial these interactions can be. Making the effort to have a genuine connection with a few friends or family members on a regular basis can help create that habit, so that when things are hard, it's already second nature to reach out instead of collapsing inward.

It will also help in difficult times, because those you are connected with will be in the habit of checking in with you and may notice you've withdrawn.

2. Be present.

Our brains have an area called the "default mode network." We are in this mode when we are distractedly thinking about the future, or re-hashing a conversation we had yesterday.

While entering into this distracted default mode may sometimes be helpful for creative inspiration, too much time functioning at this default mode level keeps us from being fully present and engaged with what's going on.

Constantly being in this state of self-referential examination can make us unhappy -- if not neurotic.

One simple activity that can help us find balance here is developing a meditation practice. When we practice stilling our minds and being present, we shift from default mode and experience greater focus, even when not meditating.

3. Be positive.

This doesn't mean becoming an idealistic Pollyanna or just wishing your troubles away.

What it does mean is choosing to look for the good in life and cultivating gratitude.

Studies indicate that those with a spiritual practice reap physical and emotional benefits from having faith. This doesn't mean that you need to start going to your church or synagogue in order to be emotionally resilient, but connecting with others and a higher power is a huge boost for many people.

For those who don't feel drawn toward a particular spiritual path, belief in the goodness of humankind and having hope may have similar effects. Einstein may have said it best, "The single most important decision any of us will ever to make is whether or not to believe that the universe is friendly."

4. Give back.

The choice to give back and be of benefit to others and the world strengthens us as well.

Recent research shows that even practicing small acts of kindness raises levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the body as well as boosting the immune system.

As with number one on this list, when we feel connected to the greater whole of humanity, we strengthen our own ability to respond to life with resilience.

On a final note, another piece of emotional resilience is being gentle to ourselves.

Being emotionally resilient doesn't mean that we keep our chins up and paste on a smile when we feel rotten. It's okay not to feel okay.

Choosing these habits that help keep us connected can make the difference between having a "not okay" day and a "not okay" year.

If we can cultivate habits that create resilience during low stress times, we will have a greater chance of accessing them when things are difficult.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Make Time to Bask in What You Enjoy About Life

People Who Enjoy Life Actually Age Better, Study Shows. Love life and it will love you back, a new study says.

A British study found that older adults who enjoy life also enjoy better physical abilities as they age. 

Researchers at University College London spent eight years following nearly 3,200 men and women aged 60 and over in England to monitor their physical function and assess their enjoyment of life. 

Participants were asked to assess their contentment, by rating their agreement with the following statements, on a four-point scale:

I enjoy the things that I do.
I enjoy being in the company of others.
On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness.
I feel full of energy these days.

The researchers also interviewed the subjects to find out if they had any physical impairments when performing simple daily activities like getting dressed and also measure their walking speed.

"The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age," researcher Andrew Steptoe said in a release. 

"They are less likely to develop impairments....and their walking speed declines at a lower rate than those who enjoy life less."

The participants with lower well-being were over three times as likely to develop problems than their more contented counterparts. "Our previous work has shown that older people with greater enjoyment of life are more likely to survive over the next eight years," Steptoe said.

A 2011 study conducted by Steptoe found that people who were the happiest were 35 percent less likely to die compared with those who were least happy. 

This could be because they're less likely to suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and other painful conditions like arthritis. 

Plus, research from Carnegie Mellon shows happy people are also less susceptible to colds and flus.

All the more reason to see the glass half full.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dr. Cynthia Thaik: Don't Be Paralyzed by Fear

At some point or another, we've all experienced fear -- that feeling when your heart is racing out of control, your palms are sweating, you're short of breath and your digestive track goes into spasms.

Fear has very real effects on the body, and these effects are meant to protect us from danger.

In day to day life, a small amount of fear or insecurity can be beneficial, in that it keeps you on your toes and motivated.

However, when fear and insecurity eclipse common sense, these unhealthy thought processes can cloud your judgement and prevent you from realizing your goals.

Moreover, constant anxiety, self-doubt and irrational fear can cause a myriad of health problems, including digestive ailments, headaches, depression, high blood pressure and even cardiovascular issues.

It is important to be aware of your own fears and insecurities, and to recognize if and when they are preventing you from living the life that you truly deserve.

How to Let go of Fear and Insecurity

1. Identify your fears and insecurities. Make a list of all your fears. The first step to eliminating fear is recognizing exactly what it is that makes you afraid. Is it a fear of failure? Rejection? Looking foolish? Once you pinpoint your fears, think about why you are afraid of those things. Are your fears rooted in logic or are they a product of your own emotions?

2. Stop overthinking everything. Sure, it is good to think a situation through before you make a major decision, but too much thinking prevents you from actually doing anything. And if you never act on anything, you'll never get ahead. So stop over-analyzing every single little thing, don't talk yourself out of making decisions and instead, just act.

3. Find your strengths and play those up. When you remind yourself of what you are good at and what you like about yourself, you gain more confidence and start to let go of your fear. The next time you feel that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, try to think about at least three strengths that you have that make you unique.

4. Exercise and eat well. We all know that exercise and a healthy diet are good for our bodies, but a healthy lifestyle can also improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed, balanced and confident. This in turn, is a surefire way to vanquish anxiety and insecurity.

5. Set goals. Without a plan it is very easy to get lost and feel as though you have no purpose in life. Goal setting can give you some direction and force you to rise above your fears to achieve the things you want in life. In addition, every for milestone or goal that you reach, you will gain that extra boost of confidence that will help you to get over your insecurities.

When it comes down to it, fear is very much a product of the mind and more of an internal struggle than anything to do with the reality of the outside world.

If you look within yourself, trust your decisions and learn to love yourself, you will find that your fears will dissipate and you can get on with enjoying everything that life has to offer.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gogglefest 2013

Don Mangus, Herb in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Bobby in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Vicki in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Dorin in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Tracy in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Philomena in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Lauren in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, David in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Kimberly in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Don in Googles, iPhone photo, 2014

Pattern Seeking iPhone Photo Gallery I

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 1, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 2, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 3, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 4, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 5, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 6, iPhone photo, 2014

Don Mangus, Pattern Seeking 7, iPhone photo, 2014

Meditation Apps To Calm Stress And Boost Mood

By Natasha Baker

TORONTO (Reuters) - In a bad mood but not sure why? New smartphone apps provide short guided meditations designed to help users return to a positive state of mind.

Stop, Breathe & Think, a free iPhone app, prompts people to check how they are feeling mentally, emotionally and physically and will recommend three guided meditations between five and 10 minutes long.

"We wanted to give people a friendly and accessible tool to develop these skills - something they could easily integrate into their daily routine," said Jamie Price, executive director of Tools for Peace, a California-based non-profit which developed the app.

It aims to help people feel more grounded, calmer and happier, he added, and to recognize emotions and impulses and to react positively.

"The recommended meditations are meant to be a support, to help you deal with whatever is going on from the perspective of kindness and compassion, and with a greater sense of being positively connected," Price said in an interview.

It includes 15 guided meditations based on Tibetan teachings. Users can track their progress including how long they have meditated and how settled they feel every day.

Canadian singer k.d. lang, who serves on the group's board, said she used the app as a reset button for stressful days.

"Our goal is that after using this app people learn how to become calm, and approach their everyday life from the perspective of kindness and compassion," she said.

A similar free app called Headspace, which is available for iPhone and Android, also teaches meditation and provides a free ten-day program that leads users through short guided meditations.

It also features specialized meditations to improve sleep or reduce stress or other problems, as well as paid programs. Users can track their progress day-by-day in a dashboard and set reminders to keep on top of their practices.

Studies have shown the positive benefits of meditation, including research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that it may be helpful for reducing anxiety and depression.

Human Brain Can Process Image Seen For Just 13 Milliseconds, Study Shows

By Tanya Lewis

The human brain can achieve the remarkable feat of processing an image seen for just 13 milliseconds, scientists have found. This lightning speed obliterates the previous record speed of 100 milliseconds reported by previous studies.

In the study, scientists showed people a series of images flashed for 13 to 80 milliseconds. Viewers successfully identified things like a "picnic" or "smiling couple" even after the briefest of glimpses.

"The fact that you can do that at these high speeds indicates to us that what vision does is find concepts," study leader Mary Potter, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement. "That's what the brain is doing all day long — trying to understand what we're looking at.

The eyes shift their gaze three times per second, so the ability to process images speedily may help the eyes find their next target, Potter said.

When a person looks at something, the retina sends that information to the brain, which processes shape, color and orientation. Potter and her team aimed to increase gradually the speed at which people could identify images until they were no more accurate than they would have been if they had guessed the image. The viewers had never seen the images before.

Previous studies suggested the brain takes at least 50 milliseconds to send visual information from the retina to the "top" of the brain's visual processing chain and back again in loops that confirm what the eye saw, so the researchers expected people would get worse at seeing images shown for less than 50 milliseconds.

But Potter's team found that although people's performance declined on average as the time was reduced, they still performed better than chance when identifying images flashed for as little as 13 milliseconds, the speed limit of the computer monitor they used.

The findings, detailed online Jan. 16 in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, show that people were processing the images much more quickly than scientists believed was possible. One reason may be that the study participants became faster with practice, and also received feedback on their performance, Potter said.

The findings support those from a study of macaque monkeys in 2001 that found the animals respond to specific kinds of images — such as faces — flashed for just 14 milliseconds.

These studies demonstrate that the information only needs to flow in one direction, from the retina to the visual brain areas, in order to identify concepts, without needing feedback from other brain areas.

This ability could give the brain the time it needs to decide where to point the eyes, which can take only 100 to 140 milliseconds. (It might also explain why some people report a "sixth sense," when they unconsciously pick up on visual cues in a scene.)

In addition, even though viewers saw the images for only 13 milliseconds, part of their brain may have continued to process them, because sometimes, participants weren't asked about the image until after they saw a sequence of images.

Next, the researchers want to see how long the brain can hold visual information glimpsed for such a short time, and which brain regions are active when a person correctly identifies what they saw.

In the News: Why must we waste so much time sleeping?

By Maria Konnikova

Sleep seems like a perfectly fine waste of time. Why would our bodies evolve to spend close to one-third of our lives completely out of it, when we could instead be doing something useful or exciting? Something that would, as a bonus, be less likely to get us killed back when we were sleeping on the savanna?

“Sleep is such a dangerous thing to do when you’re out in the wild,” Maiken Nedergaard, a Danish biologist who has been leading research into sleep function at the University of Rochester’s medical school, told me. “It has to have a basic evolutional function. Otherwise it would have been eliminated.”

We’ve known for some time that sleep is essential for forming and consolidating memories and that it plays a central role in the formation of new neuronal connections and the pruning of old ones. But that hardly seems enough to risk death-by-leopard-in-the-night. “If sleep was just to remember what you did yesterday, that wouldn’t be important enough,” Nedergaard explains.

In a series of new studies, published this fall in the journal Science, the Nedergaard lab may at last be shedding light on just what it is that would be important enough. Sleep, it turns out, may play a crucial role in our brain’s physiological maintenance. As your body sleeps, your brain is quite actively playing the part of mental janitor: It’s clearing out all of the junk that has accumulated as a result of your daily thinking.

Recall what happens to your body during exercise. You start off full of energy, but soon enough your breathing turns uneven, your muscles tire, and your stamina runs its course. What’s happening is that your body isn’t able to deliver oxygen quickly enough to each muscle that needs it and instead creates needed energy anaerobically. And while that process allows you to keep on going, a side effect is the accumulation of toxic byproducts in your muscle cells. Those byproducts are cleared out by the body’s lymphatic system, allowing you to resume normal function without any permanent damage.

The lymphatic system serves as the body’s custodian: Whenever waste is formed, it sweeps it clean. The brain, however, is outside its reach — despite the fact that your brain uses up about 20 percent of your body’s energy. How, then, does its waste — like beta-amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease — get cleared? What happens to all the wrappers and leftovers that litter the room after any mental workout?

“Think about a fish tank,” says Nedergaard. “If you have a tank and no filter, the fish will eventually die. So how do the brain cells get rid of their waste? Where is their filter?”

Until a few years ago, the prevailing model was based on recycling: The brain got rid of its own waste, not only beta-amyloid but other metabolites, by breaking it down and recycling it at an individual cell level. When that process eventually failed, the buildup would result in age-related cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s. That didn’t make sense to Nedergaard, who says that “the brain is too busy to recycle” all of its energy. Instead, she proposed a brain equivalent of the lymphatic system, a network of channels that cleared out toxins with watery cerebrospinal fluid. She called it the glymphatic system, a nod to its dependence on glial cells (the supportive cells in the brain that work largely to maintain homeostasis and protect neurons) and its function as a sort of parallel lymphatic system.

She was hardly the first to think in those terms. “It had been proposed about 100 years ago, but they didn’t have the tools to study it properly,” she says. Now, however, with advanced microscopes and dyeing techniques, her team discovered that the brain’s interstitial space — the fluid-filled area between tissue cells that takes up about 20 percent of the brain’s total volume — was mainly dedicated to physically removing the cells’ daily waste.

When members of Nedergaard’s team injected small fluorescent tracers into the cerebrospinal fluid of anesthetized mice, they found that the tracers quickly entered the brain — and, eventually, exited it — via specific, predictable routes.

The next step was to see how and when, exactly, the glymphatic system did its work. “We thought this cleaning process would require tremendous energy,” Nedergaard says. “And so we asked, maybe this is something we do when we’re sleeping, when the brain is really not processing information.”
In a series of new studies on mice, her team discovered exactly that: When the mouse brain is sleeping or under anesthesia, it’s busy cleaning out the waste that accumulated while it was awake.

Modern society is increasingly ill-equipped to provide our brains with the requisite cleaning time. The figures are stark. Eighty percent of working adults suffer to some extent from sleep deprivation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should sleep seven to nine hours. On average, we’re getting one to two hours less sleep a night than we did 50 to 100 years ago and 38 minutes less on weeknights than we did as little as 10 years ago. Between 50 million and 70 million people in the United States suffer from some form of chronic sleep disorder.

When our sleep is disturbed, whatever the cause, our cleaning system breaks down. At the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, Sigrid Veasey has been focusing on precisely how restless nights disturb the brain’s normal metabolism. What happens to our cognitive function when the trash piles up?

At the extreme end, the result could be the acceleration of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. While we don’t know whether sleep loss causes the disease, or the disease itself leads to sleep loss — what Veasey calls a “classic chicken-and-egg” problem — we do know that the two are closely connected. Along with the sleep disturbances that characterize neurodegenerative diseases, there is a buildup of the types of proteins that the glymphatic system normally clears out during regular sleep, like beta-amyloids and tau, both associated with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

“To me,” says Veasey, “that’s the most compelling part of the Nedergaard research. That the clearance for these is dramatically reduced from prolonged wakefulness.” If we don’t sleep well, we may be allowing the very things that cause neural degeneration to pile up unchecked.

Even at the relatively more benign end — the all-nighter or the extra-stressful week when you caught only a few hours a night — sleep deprivation, as everyone who has experienced it knows, impedes our ability to concentrate, to pay attention to our environment and to analyze information creatively. “When we’re sleep-deprived, we can’t integrate or put together facts,” Veasey said.

But there is a difference between the kind of fleeting sleep loss we sometimes experience and the chronic deprivation that comes from shift work, insomnia and the like. In one set of studies, soon to be published in The Journal of Neuroscience, the Veasey lab found that while our brains can recover quite readily from short-term sleep loss, chronic prolonged wakefulness and sleep disruption stresses the brain’s metabolism. The result is the degeneration of key neurons involved in alertness and proper cortical function and a buildup of proteins associated with aging and neural degeneration.

It’s like the difference between a snowstorm’s disrupting a single day of trash pickup and a prolonged strike. No longer quite as easy to fix, and even when the strike is over, there’s likely to be some stray debris floating around for quite some time yet. “Recovery from sleep loss is slower than we’d thought,” Veasey notes. “We used to think that after a bit of recovery sleep, you should be fine. But this work shows you’re not.”

If you put her own research together with the findings from the Nedergaard lab, Veasey says, it “very clearly shows that there’s impaired clearance in the awake brain. We’re really starting to realize that when we skip sleep, we may be doing irreparable damage to the brain, prematurely aging it or setting it up for heightened vulnerability to other insults.”
In a society that is not only chronically sleep-deprived but also rapidly aging, that’s bad news. “It’s unlikely that poor sleep as a child would actually cause Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s,” says Veasey, “but it’s more likely that you may shift one of those diseases by a decade or so. That has profound health and economic implications.”

It’s a pernicious cycle. We work longer hours, become more stressed, sleep less, impair our brain’s ability to clean up after all that hard work, and become even less able to sleep soundly. And if we reach for a sleeping pill to help us along? While work on the effects of sleeping aids on the glymphatic system remains to be done, the sleep researchers I spoke with agree that there’s no evidence that aided sleep is as effective as natural sleep.

There is, however, reason to hope. If the main function of sleep is to take out our neural trash, that insight could eventually enable a new understanding of both neurodegenerative diseases and regular, age-related cognitive decline. By developing a diagnostic test to measure how well the glymphatic system functions, we could move one step closer to predicting someone’s risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia: The faster the fluids clear the decks, the more effectively the brain’s metabolism is functioning.

“Such a test could also be used in the emergency room after traumatic brain injury,” Nedergaard says, “to see who is at risk of developing decline in cognitive function.”

We can also focus on developing earlier, more effective interventions to prevent cognitive decline. One approach would be to enable individuals who suffer from sleep loss to sleep more soundly — but how? Nedergaard’s mice were able to clear their brain’s waste almost as effectively under anesthesia as under normal sleeping conditions.

“That’s really fascinating,” says Veasey. Though current sleeping aids may not quite do the trick, and anesthetics are too dangerous for daily use, the results suggest that there may be better ways of improving sleep pharmacologically.

Now that we have a better understanding of why sleep is so important, a new generation of drug makers can work to create the best possible environment for the trash pickup to occur in the first place — to make certain that our brain’s sleeping metabolism is as efficient as it can possibly be.

A second approach would take the opposite tack, by seeking to mimic the cleanup-promoting actions of sleep in the awake brain, which could make a full night of sound sleep less necessary. To date, the brain’s metabolic process hasn’t been targeted as such by the pharmaceutical industry. There simply wasn’t enough evidence of its importance. In response to the evolving data, however, future drug interventions could focus directly on the glymphatic system, to promote the enhanced cleaning power of the sleeping brain in a brain that is fully awake. One day, scientists might be able to successfully mimic the expansion of the interstitial space that does the mental janitorial work so that we can achieve maximally efficient round-the-clock brain trash pickup.

If that day comes, they would be on their way to discovering that all-time miracle drug: one that, in Veasey’s joking words, “could mean we never have to sleep at all.”

Maria Konnikova is the author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” Her email address is maria@mariakonnikova.com.

Laban Movement Analysis

A Möbius strip representing the theme of "Inner and Outer" used throughout Laban Movement Analysis

From Wikipedia:

Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is a method and language for describing, visualizing, interpreting and documenting all varieties of human movement. It is one type of Laban Movement Study, originating from the work of Rudolf Laban and developed and extended by Lisa Ullmann, Irmgard Bartenieff, Warren Lamb and many others. In addition many derived practices have developed with great emphasis on LMA methods.

Also known as Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, it uses a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating contributions from anatomy, kinesiology, psychology, Labanotation and many other fields. It is used as a tool by dancers, actors, musicians, athletes, physical and occupational therapists, psychotherapy, peace studies, anthropology, business consulting, leadership development, health & wellness and is one of the most widely used systems of human movement analysis today.

Laban Movement Analysis is generally divided into these cagetories:

Body (Bartenieff Fundamentals, total-body connectivity)

Effort (Energetic dynamics)


Space (Choreutics, Space Harmony)

On a more macro level LMA looks at the categories in terms of Phrasing and themes of opposites. The themes are:





Labanotation (or Kinetography Laban), a notation system for recording and analyzing movement, is used in LMA, but Labanotation is a separate system, regulated by separate professional bodies.

Laban Movement Analysis practitioners and educators who studied at LIMS, an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), are known as "Certified Movement Analysts" (CMAs). Other courses offer LMA studies, including Integrated Movement Studies, which qualifies "Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysts" (CLMAs).

On a stylistic note, terms which have specific meaning in the system are typically capitalized (though this convention is not universally adhered to). Thus there is a difference between "strong weight effort" and "Strong Weight Effort". The former is an English phrase with a variety of connotations. The latter is LMA specific vocabulary referring to one of the two configurations of Weight Effort, a qualitative category of movement expression.


Main article: Bartenieff Fundamentals

The body category describes structural and physical characteristics of the human body while moving. This category is responsible for describing which Body parts are moving, which parts are connected, which parts are influenced by others, and general statements about body organization. The majority of this category's work was not developed by Laban himself, but developed by his student/collaborator Irmgard Bartenieff, the founder of the Laban/Bartenieff Institute in NYC, through the "Bartenieff Fundamentals."

The Body category, as well as the other categories, continue to be further developed through the work of numerous CMAs, and applied to ever extending fields, such as: fitness, somatic therapies, rehabilitation, dance technique, and more.

Several subcategories of Body are:

Initiation of movement starting from specific bodies;

Connection of different bodies to each other;

Sequencing of movement between parts of the body; and

Patterns of body organization and connectivity, called "Patterns of Total Body Square Connectivity",
"Developmental Hyper Movement Patterns", or
"Neuromuscular Shape-Shifting Patterns".

Bartenieff Fundamentals are an extension of LMA originally developed by Irmgard Bartenieff, the Founder of the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS) – NYC, who trained with Laban before moving to the USA and becoming a physiotherapist and one of the founding members of the American Dance Therapy Association.

Laban Effort graph

Laban Effort graph with effort elements labeled
Effort, or what Laban sometimes described as dynamics, is a system for understanding the more subtle characteristics about the way a movement is done with respect to inner intention. The difference between punching someone in anger and reaching for a glass is slight in terms of body organization – both rely on extension of the arm. The attention to the strength of the movement, the control of the movement and the timing of the movement are very different.

Effort has four subcategories (Effort factors), each of which has two opposite polarities (Effort elements).

Effort Factor

Effort element (Fighting polarity)

Effort element (Indulging polarity)



Indirect (Flexible)





Sudden (quick)





Laban named the combination of the first three categories (Space, Weight, and Time) the Effort Actions, or Action Drive. The eight combinations are descriptively named Float, Punch (Thrust), Glide, Slash, Dab, Wring, Flick, and Press. The Action Efforts have been used extensively in some acting schools, including ALRA and LIPA, to train the ability to change quickly between physical manifestations of emotion.

Flow, on the other hand, is responsible for the continuousness or ongoingness of motions. Without any Flow Effort, movement must be contained in a single initiation and action, which is why there are specific names for the Flow-less Action configurations of Effort. In general it is very difficult to remove Flow from much movement, and so a full analysis of Effort will typically need to go beyond the Effort Actions.


While the Body category primarily develops connections within the body and the body/space intent, the way the body changes shape during movement is further experienced and analyzed through the Shape category. It is important to remember that all categories are related, and Shape is often an integrating factor for combining the categories into meaningful movement.

There are several subcategories in Shape:

"Shape Forms" describe static shapes that the body takes, such as Wall-like, Ball-like, and Pin-like.

"Modes of Shape Change" describe the way the body is interacting with and the relationship the body has to the environment.

There are three Modes of Shape Change: Shape Flow: Representing a relationship of the body to itself. This could be amoebic movement or could be mundane habitual actions, like shrugging, shivering, rubbing an injured shoulder, etc.

Directional: Representing a relationship where the body is directed toward some part of the environment. It is divided further into Spoke-like (punching, pointing, etc.) and Arc-like (swinging a tennis racket, painting a fence)

Carving: Representing a relationship where the body is actively and three dimensionally interacting with the volume of the environment. Examples include kneading bread dough, wringing out a towel, avoiding laser-beams or miming the shape of an imaginary object. In some cases, and historically, this is referred to as Shaping, though many practitioners feel that all three Modes of Shape Change are "shaping" in some way, and that the term is thus ambiguous and overloaded.

"Shape Qualities" describe the way the body is changing (in an active way) toward some point in space. In the simplest form, this describes whether the body is currently Opening (growing larger with more extension) or Closing (growing smaller with more flexion). There are more specific terms – Rising, Sinking, Spreading, Enclosing, Advancing, and Retreating, which refer to specific dimensions of spatial orientations.

"Shape Flow Support" describes the way the torso (primarily) can change in shape to support movements in the rest of the body. It is often referred to as something which is present or absent, though there are more refined descriptors.

The majority of the Shape category was not developed during Laban's life, but added later by his followers. Warren Lamb was instrumental in creating a significant amount of the theoretical structure for understanding this category.


Space Harmony

One of Laban's primary contributions to Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) are his theories of Space. This category involves motion in connection with the environment, and with spatial patterns, pathways, and lines of spatial tension. Laban described a complex system of geometry based on crystalline forms, Platonic solids, and the structure of the human body.

He felt that there were ways of organizing and moving in space that were specifically harmonious, in the same sense as music can be harmonious. Some combinations and organizations were more theoretically and aesthetically pleasing.
As with music,Space Harmony sometimes takes the form of set 'scales' of movement within geometric forms. These scales can be practiced in order to refine the range of movement and reveal individual movement preferences. The abstract and theoretical depth of this part of the system is often considered to be much greater than the rest of the system.
In practical terms, there is much of the Space category that does not specifically contribute to the ideas of Space Harmony.

This category also describes and notates choices which refer specifically to space, paying attention to:

Kinesphere: the area that the body is moving within and how the mover is paying attention to it.

Spatial Intention: the directions or points in space that the mover is identifying or using.

Geometrical observations of where the movement is being done, in terms of emphasis of directions, places in space, planar movement, etc.

The Space category is currently under continuing development, more so since exploration of non-Euclidian geometry and physics has evolved.

Centers for education and information

A number of centers exist around the world, dedicated to Laban's work. Most offer certification programs. See the individual websites for more details:

The Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (New York): LIMS NYC was established by Irmgard Bartenieff in 1978 as an organization for Laban & Bartenieff movement studies in all walks of life and offers the title of CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) through graduate level Certification Programs

Integrated Movement Studies (California): Certification programs available in Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals in various through-the-year and intensive formats

EUROLAB (Europe): Certification programs available in Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals in various through-the-year and intensive formats Integrated Movement Studies

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (London)(Trinity Laban does not offer any courses leading to qualifications of "Certified Movement Analyst" (CMA) or "Certified Laban Movement Analyst" (CLMA).

Centro LABAN-Rio (
http://www.centrolaban-rj.org): Located in Rio de Janeiro, the Center offers an Interdisciplinary Program in Laban System, leading to a Brazilian Certificate of "Specialist in Laban/Bartenieff System".

The Master Pacemaker

Why Do I Wake Up Minutes Before My Alarm Goes Off?

By Sarah Klein, The Huffingtonpost

Why do I wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off?

"If you're waking someone up from sleep, it means they haven't slept enough," Dr. Lawrence Epstein, M.D. told HuffPost Healthy Living in 2012. The alarm, then, is "the best way to sleep deprive yourself," he said, meaning waking all on your own could mean you're simply well-rested.

But why, when this pre-alarm wakeup occurs, does it always seem to happen just before the buzzer sounds?

Like apps that promise to wake you gently from your slumber, the body tries to gradually rouse you. In anticipation of the start of the day, certain stress-related hormones are produced during the later stages of sleep, Jan Born, Ph.D., behavioral neuroscience professor at the University of Tübingen in Germany tells Healthy Living.

In his 1999 study, Born and his fellow researchers found that one particular hormone, adrenocorticotropin or ACTH, was found in higher levels in the blood when sleepers had an expectation they'd be woken up at a certain time. In the experiment, 15 volunteers who went to sleep at midnight were told they would be woken at 6 a.m. one morning and 9 a.m. on two other mornings. When they knew they'd be up at 6, "then there is an additional increase on top of this gradual increase in ACTH within the period before this expected awakening," says Born. The subjects who expected to be woken at nine didn't have the same additional increase in ACTH.

It's easy to imagine a desk jockey becoming habituated to a routine who rises at the same time every day before her morning commute. But in Born's study, the students weren't accustomed to the early wakeup call. "In these studies, we used students who were not in any way habituated to wake up at 6 o'clock," he says. "They were habitually waking up sometime between 7 and 9 o'clock, so 6 o'clock was earlier than they were used to." Why, exactly, wakeup expectations increase stress hormone levels in the early morning is unknown, he says.

Humans, insects, plants, some bacteria -- we all operate on internal clocks, says Luciano DiTacchio, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics at the University of Kansas Medical Center. These circadian rhythms synchronize to the natural light-dark cycle of our environments, he says, helping us to wake up every morning and fall asleep each night. But just because every human has a clock doesn't mean every human clock is the same. Variations in certain genes, one of which was identified in DiTacchio's 2011 study, dictate why some of us are natural early risers, he says.

In the study, the gene KDM5A was pinpointed as the so-called "alarm clock" gene, the gene responsible for when our own personal "It's morning!" switch is flipped. "This particular gene is actually part of a gene network that essentially works as a clock," he says. "It's not made out of mechanical parts, they are molecular components, but it functions exactly like a clock." The KDM5A gene in turn encodes a protein called JARID1a to creates slight variations in the way the alarm clock gene is expressed, much the same as a clock will wind differently with a tight or a loose coil, he says.

Why you habitually seem to rise mere moments before it's time to get up, then, is a highly-personal mix of individual expressions of the alarm clock gene as well as individual levels of early-morning stress hormones. These are just pieces of the puzzle of what DiTacchio calls "the master pacemaker, the specialized clock in the brain."

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Quantified Self" Data

How to Make Better Use of Your Tracking Data
Tech  by Jeremey DuVall 

With more fitness watches, technical gear and health apps on the market than ever before, users have every opportunity to gain deeper insights into their daily habits, a revolution known as the “quantified self.” But while these tracking devices might be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the amount of data they provide can seem limitless. In fact, between steps taken, calories burned, hours slept, and many more metrics, sifting through the numbers can be more overwhelming than navigating the gym in January.

So which metrics are most valuable when it comes to changing habits and getting closer to your health and fitness goals? To help you make the most of your data, we’ve broken down the four main metrics measured by most fitness trackers, what they actually mean, and how to start putting them to better use.

Made to Measure

1. Steps Taken

Are you reliant on the bus, car or train to get from point A to B to C each day? You’re not alone. Americans, on average, take only about 5,117 steps per day, just over half the recommended 10,000 steps to qualify as “active.” To help increase overall movement throughout the day, most fitness trackers measure total steps taken (similar to a pedometer).

“If people know what moving more looks and feels like, they will come to know what too little movement looks and feels like as well.”
What It Really Means: While a higher number of steps taken per day has been correlated with a more favorable body composition, users shouldn’t take on the “10,000 or bust” philosophy for a few reasons. For one, fitness trackers can vary in accuracy with error percentages ranging from three to 30 percent, making it hard to nail down exactly how many steps you’ve taken throughout the day. Driving along bumpy roads or even just fidgeting at your desk can tally unearned steps as well. Differing opinions also exist as to exactly how many steps are recommended for optimal health, as that target will vary based on age, fitness level and other factors.

Make It More Meaningful: Rather than equating success with a particular number, use this metric to compare activity levels from one day to the next. Joe Vennare, personal trainer and co-founder of Hybrid Athlete, says that while he doesn’t necessarily factor steps per day in a training program, it can certainly help. According to Vennare, “If people know what moving more looks and feels like, they will come to know what too little movement looks and feels like as well.” He suggests using steps per day as a benchmark to become more active — not as a definitive measure of success. While 10,000 might be a great eventual goal, aim to take a few hundred more steps each day, and climb your way up from there, Vennare says.

2. Sleep Quality

Sleeping might seem simple enough — just crawl into bed at the end of the night, and snooze away until morning, right? Not if you’re one of the 40 million Americans suffering from sleep-related disorders each year. Even if you would consider yourself a normal sleeper, chances are you have had at least a few restless nights. But lack of sleep does more than just jack up your caffeine requirements the following day. Difficulty sleeping has been linked to an increased risk of obesity in adults. To make matters worse, individuals suffering from lack of shut-eye are more prone to poor decision making, including snacking on higher-calorie foods.

The end goal is to develop a sleeping routine that fits your needs and lifestyle.
What It Really Means: Unfortunately, fitness trackers can’t exactly tell whether you’re asleep or not (that would require measuring brain waves). Instead, most trackers rely on measuring movement and associate a decrease in movement with sleep. However, it’s possible to lie perfectly still in bed and still not get a wink of shuteye. While this feature might not offer a direct measurement of your time spent catching zzz’s, it can help you determine when you’re sound asleep or tossing and turning by monitoring movement levels.

Make It More Meaningful: Don’t fret over the actual number of hours slept during the night as that metric can vary in accuracy. Instead, use the sleep tracker data to identify how many times you tossed and turned once you hit the hay. While you might think you were out cold, the data might show otherwise. The end goal is to develop a sleeping routine that fits your needs and lifestyle. Whereas some individuals might be able to eat a full meal directly before bed, it might cause you to toss and turn all night. By looking at how many times you moved around while sleeping, you can help to solidify a routine and be on your way to a better night of rest. For starters, try removing the TV from your room and eliminating electronics from your nightly routine 30 minutes prior to bedtime.

3. Calories Burned

The “calories in vs. calories out” equation for obtaining a lean physique can make this metric a major focus point. To determine this number, trackers take into account overall activity along with the user’s height, weight and age. All of this information is then plugged into an equation that estimates the total calories burned throughout the day. Similar to the readings on exercise equipment, these measurements can vary in accuracy. A true measure of caloric burn requires a heart rate monitor (missing from most trackers). While the algorithms used by fitness trackers have improved over the past several years, users shouldn’t rely on this data as the definitive source for how many calories they have burned.

What It Really Means: Whereas fitness trackers can’t nail down the exact number of calories you burned in a given day, the number can be used to gauge overall activity. In general, a higher amount of calories burned implies a higher activity level whether that’s by exercising or just doing more household chores and taking the stairs.

Make It More Meaningful: Track your diet for several days and find out how many calories you’re taking in on average. If you’re consuming well above the amount your tracker indicates you’re burning, you’ll likely want to curtail your eating habits or bump up your activity. Outside of simply helping to match your input to your output, use the metric to help increase your movement throughout the day. Try riding your bike to work or walking places whenever possible. Then, check out how many extra calories you burned. Seeing how much that extra half a mile at lunch influences your bottom line can have a big boost on motivation! 

4. Minutes of Activity/Inactivity

You might not notice when you’ve been inactive for 30-plus minutes in a row, but most fitness trackers can. Since longer periods of inactivity are associated with a potentially shortened lifespan, tracking devices — at their best — can encourage users to get active, and thus minimize the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Eric Bach, personal trainer and founder of Bach Performance, adds that inactivity (especially long periods of sitting) can also wreak havoc on your posture, causing issues like back pain and shoulder dysfunction.

In the end, it’s up to you to translate the information into action.
What It Really Means: Fitness trackers use motion sensors to determine when you’ve been sitting for too long. A consistent dip in motion is associated with inactivity (meaning it’s time to move!). To keep you off your seat and on your feet, many trackers will even vibrate after a certain timeframe of inactivity.

Make It More Meaningful: While trackers might offer a great resource to help keep you honest, you don’t need one to tell you when you’ve been sitting for too long. If you have access to a tracker, you can use it to alert you when you’ve been inactive or seated for 30 to 45 minutes. When the device sounds off, that’s your signal to get up, take a walk around the block, do some deskside burpees (fitness first!), or whatever your 9-to-5 will allow. Outside of the obvious health benefits that come with greater activity, these mini-breaks can also boost productivity making you more successful when you do sit back down. For those who don’t have access to a fitness tracker, Bach encourages the use of timers or phone alarms for the same effect.

Fitness trackers offer up an overwhelming amount of data translating our daily lives into colorful charts and graphs that can help us better understand patterns in our health. But while the gadgets — and the data they provide — might be cool to have, on their own they’re far from a quick fix for poor health habits. In the end, it’s up to you to translate the information into action. Rather than just relegating your fitness to a slew of numbers, focus on a small handful of metrics and create meaningful strategies to directly improve your health. After all, you aren’t a character in the Matrix so it’s impossible for a tracker to quantify all of the things that make you… you!