Archive for the ‘Psychology’ category

Trust in Health

September 4, 2014

~Evil fast food worker LoL~

This recent research has been all over the news since late August because it is so interesting! For the normal peeps who need easy reading, there is this article published on Science 2.0~Mom Was Almost Right: Junk Food Will Spoil Your Appetite, Except Permanently.

If you aren’t scared of scholarly words, check out the real journal article published by Frontiers in Psychology. This is what all other articles are based on. Cafeteria diet impairs expression of sensory-specific satiety and stimulus-outcome learning by Reichelt, Morris and Westbrook is an informative read.

Yes…maybe some people can justify the “new school” diet methods which allow the consumption of junk food to grow abs. I’m not saying getting abs eating greasy shit and cake isn’t possible. In the end, the “old school” way is indeed best. Eating junk food will make you sick, lower your energy level, make you moody, and clog your heart and veins.

Organic whole foods are always best for your body and mind! Premium fuel baby! Trust me…it’s organic.

Fitness Inspires Fitness

June 13, 2014


Mike and an inspired woman running in sync at Mandrills Gym.

Today it was awesome to see this woman inspired by a fit man to run. She would stop and then go and stop and go. It was hard for her, but she worked. She was really trying. I love to see that! I started to think about how fitness inspires fitness. If people around you don’t care about fitness, it can be easy not to care. Fitness inspires fitness. I love that!

I quickly took of photo as I walked out of the gym. My analytical mind started contemplating the psychology of inspiration. Where does it come from? I know what inspires me, but maybe others haven’t explored the psychological realm of inspiration? I came across an interesting article tonight on one of my favorite web sites…Psychology Today.

In 2011, Dr. Barry Kaufman wrote Why Inspiration Matters. Here is a lovely excerpt from that piece.

“Inspiration matters. Inspiration allows us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations and is a strong driver of the attainment of our goals, productivity, creativity, and well-being. In this current educational climate of standardized tests and a focus on ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration transforms a person from experiencing a culture of apathy to experiencing a world of possibility. This all happens without any shift in ability or skill, and in fact propels the level of ability that the person thought they were capable. The underemphasis of inspiration in education is partly a result of the seemingly elusive nature of inspiration, but as recent research shows, inspiration can be activated, manipulated, and captured, and has an important effect on important life outcomes.”

The Unification of Fantasy and Reality

March 29, 2014

Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”
~•••••Francisco De Goya
(Male~Romantic Artist)

“Fantasy is not escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
~•••••Lloyd Alexander
(Male~ Fantasy Author)

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
~•••••Albert Einstein
(Male~ Theoretical Physicist)

“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.”
~•••••Sir Terry Pratchett
(Male~Fantasy Author)

“I believe dreams represent the purest form of fantasy we unleash through our subconscious. They represent the truest freedom we can experience. Totally unrepressed and totally creative.”
~•••••Miguel Jontel Pimentel
(Male~ RnB Artist, Songwriter and Producer)



The wish I found today while I was outside. Wishes, dreams, fantasy, reality…they are all relative and important to humanity.

There is no separation between fantasy and reality. These are not two different lands. They are both realms of one land…the mind. What differentiates these two realms of the mind is our ability to move from one into the other successfully when we want fantasy to become reality. We are inspired by fantasy. In essence, this is moving from theory into practice…mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, artistically, and sexually.

Kim Elizabeth once said “my imagination completely controls me, and forever feeds the fire that burns with dark red light in my heart by bringing me the best dreams.” She is an award-winning dark fantasy author and poet among other things. As a woman, she actively engages her fantasies to bring her writing to life. Her fantasies have made fame a reality. However, the use of fantasy to understand and eventually act in the real world is not a uniquely feminine practice.

Just above you can read quotes from five unique men. They are all very different, yet these quotes show at least one common thread running through the psyche of each. Yes. It’s true. Women use fantasy, but so do men. Another man, Dr. Edward Vockell with Purdue University examines the real world application of fantasy in Educational Psychology: A Practical Approach. His studies look at factors “influencing individual motivation” with regard to fantasy.

Dr. Vockell’s studies show a correlation between fantasy and intrinsic motivation. As a man, he says that fantasy “plays a role when learners use mental images of situations that are not actually present to stimulate their behavior.” His studies show that we use fantasy to learn so “learners may use their imaginations to meet challenges, satisfy curiosity, exercise control, or experience interpersonal motivations without directly participating in the imagined activities themselves.”

These studies are particularly interesting because intrinsic motivation is spurred by fantasy. Dr. Vockell’s research proves that the “emotional elements” of fantasy “can make learners more willing to engage in an activity…” Like doing something they have never done or going somewhere they have never gone. He also attaches the cognitive elements of fantasy which can “make learners more willing to engage in an activity by enabling” them “to imagine themselves actually” bringing fantasy to life.

This made me want to learn about what motivates us to move from fantasy to reality. After reading Intrinsic Motivation in Psychology: Definition, Examples & Factors, I learned about how fantasy can “stimulate intrinsic motivation” because as learners, we can practice doing what we want before going live! Call it a mock life. This white paper said that fantasy is a motivating factor because “behaviors can be encouraged by the use of imagery.”

The other factors I found interesting were challenge and curiosity. With regard to a challenge, this study says “we’re highly motivated when we’re working toward goals that are personally meaningful to us and require some amount of difficulty to achieve.” This factor helps us meet our goals and fulfill our dreams. According to this study, curiosity “can motivate us to take action.” So…fantasy enables motivation and “motivation is what drives us to take some action.”

Both men and women live in a fantasy land. They live simultaneously in fantasy and reality. Fantasy land is where we practice things we want to bring life to. I mentioned six men and one woman in this piece who value fantasy. These people understood/understand how fantasy relates to reality. This understanding brought each fame and fortune, but more importantly it made their dreams come true.

The Romantic Artist of the Spanish Crown said it best. Francisco De Goya said that “fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.” Don’t rely on reality and reason alone. Don’t abandon fantasy. Don’t produce impossible monsters. In time, if fantasy is nurtured and united with reality, something marvelous may happen.

Desirous: Objet Petit A

January 7, 2014


Removed from heat
and craving warmth,
the impossible remains.
Longing for what’s
faraway, only chilled
distance can sustain.

Carefully hidden
within a burned out
star★, objet petit a.
Remote, unmoved
in thickest dark, never
seeking light of day. 

by Felicia Lujan

Unbound Time: The Study of Opposites

October 23, 2013

••• Aion~ God of Eternity •••

Today many would consider Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) a man of science. Throughout history, some have described the Swiss man as a mystic. The professional psychiatrist/psychotherapist is the father of analytical psychology. He explored the collective unconscious and the archetypes of our psyches. His mind was naturally intrigued by human development, go or stay, on or off, and black or white.

I believe some of his greatest work was tied to the psychological commingling of opposites. As a master of analytical psychology, Jung took the concept of individuation as far as he could before he died. He truly believed opposites would naturally integrate, yet retain respective uniqueness. Jung’s studies looked closely at the anima and animus, extraversion and introversion, as well as the conscious and the unconscious.

One of the things I love about Jung was his respect for symbols. Understanding and analyzing symbolic content was one thing that did make him a mystic. I believe his study of symbols is still unmatched today. Princeton University Press published Aion: Reseaches Into the Phenomenology of Self in the 1950s. In his work, Jung’s focus on Aion can be seen as a symbol of that which is all encompassing.

After reading through his book, I started to wonder if Jung became interested in studying how opposing forces join because of his interest in astrology. He talks about the union of opposites in astrology “in the year 7 B.C.” Apparently a “famed conjunction took place no less than three times in the sign of the Fishes.” Astrologers felt that this conjunction was extremely significant as it was the joining of complete opposites~ Saturn and Jupiter.

Jung’s selection of Aion is interesting. Aion is the God of Eternity or unbound time and is a prominent figure in the work of Jung. The Mithraic deity is said to encompass the universe. This god is often portrayed with a snake in the form of a circle with the mouth and tail connected. This is a symbol for infinity, no end, no beginning. Now we see why Aion is a perfect reflection of the union of opposites. If the is no start and there is no end, we are left with continuity.

A religious site says that Aion was a sexless, “master of the heavens.” This site also says that “his body was covered with zodiacal signs and the emblems of the seasons.” The God of Eternity indeed represents the merging of opposites. As Jung says in his book, “when anima and animus meet, the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction.” Jung seemed to indulge in analyzing the commingling of female and male energies.

Though Jung’s studies would lead me to believe that opposites attract for a reason, I would like to learn more. Aion was gifted with unbound time, still I’m not sure if this god had time to recognize that anima and animus “live in the illusion that they are related to one another in a most individual way.” Maybe if I pray to Aion, in due time I too will understand the union of opposites?

The Strongest Weakness

August 13, 2013

Weakness Leads to Strength
Would you describe yourself as a strong person? Many of us prefer to identify with our strengths, but it is easy to forget that in order to be strong, at times we must be weak. Strengths and weaknesses can be both mental and physical. Most of us were raised to think that showing weakness is unacceptable. Maybe it is sometimes? The brawniness of our mind is interlaced with stimulation from the world around us which further complicates things. An interdisciplinary look at how scholars, philosophers, psychologists, and writers have studied strength and weakness is somewhat enlightening. Voltaire once said “we are all full of weakness and errors,” so when is weakness acceptable?

Depending on the source and subsequently the discipline, the definition of weakness varies. Wikipedia says that weakness is a medical “symptom” or condition which affects the muscles or body. It can be argued that mental weakness can also physically manifest or settle in our bodies. Have you ever been “weak in the knees” because of strong emotions? That idiom is a perfect example. I became interested in reading the Wikipedia explanation of “true weakness vs. perceived weakness,” but quickly moved on when I realized that this was still focused on medical conditions. I am interested in learning about how weakness assists or afflicts us. This is one reason interdisciplinary studies become so important to me.

The dictionary says weakness is a noun. A thing called weakness is defined as “a defect” and “self-indulgent fondness.” That definition is closer to my views on weakness. But is weakness really a defect? Do we need to be weak sometimes? If weakness causes more harm than good, it needs to be addressed. Still, to some extent, weakness lets us feel and experience good and bad things. They will either make us happy, or break us in the end. The word weak as an adjective in the dictionary says the weak have “little physical strength.” They are “lacking force” or are “morally feeble.” Here we can see the word enveloping the mental and the physical characteristics of the human condition. Ernest Hemingway once said that “the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

In 2012, Alfred R. Mele a professor with the Florida State University, Department of Philosophy published Backsliding: Understanding Weakness of Will. Mele is a very interesting man who is looking at the connection between the mind and body in new ways. He believes that “people backslide,” and “freely do things they believe it would be best on the whole not to do.” In his new book, he attempts to explain why this happens using traditional and experimental philosophical methods. It is important to study and then attempt to explain the “weakness of will.” In order to have strength and be strong, we first need the will to do so. Mele believes that exercises of self-control are key to understanding weakness of will.

Professor Mele is also the director of a contemporary project called the Big Questions in Free Will Project. These scholarly studies are intriguing and break down the aged silos of research collaborations. It is possible that free will is indeed the key to understanding strength and weakness. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) says that the philosophical term free will is a “course of action.” According to SEP, philosophers have come to believe that “the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility.” The encyclopedia partners the “rational deliberation” of free will with desires and values. It is possible to acquire strength and weakness from both.
Strong and Weak

I like to think that I’m a strong person. I have many strengths, still at times I feel plagued by weakness. Sometimes I do forget that in order to be strong, at times I must be weak. I need weakness just as much as I need strength. Weakness is not a defect. It is a means by which we can improve our mental and physical strength. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “our strength grows out of our weaknesses.” Weakness can drive us to our knees. It can make us feel like we are not in control. It can change us in ways that we may never understand. Emerson was right. When we feel weak, we must remember that one day we will feel strong again.

Define and Attain Happiness

June 26, 2013
~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

~The Joker is a perfect symbol of both happiness and sadness.~

Have you ever thought about what makes you really happy? As humans, we need to be happy sometimes. We deserve to feel genuine happiness, but what is happiness? Is it a smile? A thought? Laughter? Can it be bottled or made? Defined? Extracted? Invented? Analyzed? These are tough questions to answer.

New Webster’s Dictionary defines happiness as a “feeling of joy or pleasure.” According to the dictionary, the word happiness is a noun. So in that case, is happiness a thing? If happiness is a thing, maybe we can just buy some? I think not. How does the word “feeling” come into play in that definition? The word feeling is a verb tied to an emotional state. That kind of washes up the noun right?

Another online source says “happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.” That seems like a better, still not perfect definition. Can we even define the word happiness? Maybe it’s something we just can’t explain. Maybe it is something we can only feel?

For years psychologists, biologists, philosophers, and religious groups have attempted to understand what allows us to attain happiness. Maybe this is why we have such an ambiguous definition and understanding of happiness? In my humble opinion, the study of happiness should actually be cross-discipline. I believe happiness comes from the mind, heart and spirit. There should be a Doctrine of Happiness which incorporates all three.

For about 15 years, “positive psychologists” have been striving to understand happiness. Positive psychologists believe happiness is fundamentally important, and this contemporary branch of psychology has made efforts to understand the science of happiness. The psychological theory behind positive psychology includes things like pleasure, strength and talents. These are then tied to positive experiences and relationships. These psychologists also recognize that there are two sides to every coin with regard to the human condition. Maybe harnessing negative thoughts and emotions in useful ways works best? For instance, I write what I see as some my best poetry when I am upset.

So what makes me happy? Things that feed or replenish my mind, heart, and spirit make me happy. Intellectual, intimate and spiritual connection to humans who care to connect with me brings me happiness. I like to give of myself and help others. Seeing my son and those I care about smile because of my actions makes me happy. Making others feel good, brings me feelings of warmth, purpose, and happiness.

Maybe you should think about what makes you really happy? Each of us deserves and needs to be happy. It is possible that all the dissertations in the world will never pinpoint a definition of happiness. It does include smiling, pleasure and good thoughts. If it could be extracted and bottled, I would be rich. What it comes down to is simple. Happiness is a choice. When it rains, we can be riddled with misery or we can choose to be happy even in the face of adversity. We must choose to take control and understand that we all deserve to be happy.

Of Kisses: The Story of Tongues

February 13, 2013

Of Kisses by Felicia Lujan
Kissing has been an essential part of relationships further back than many can remember. I am interested in how the passionate kiss and views on kissing have changed roughly over the last century. After being inundated with Valentine’s Day imagery, the timing for writing such a piece seemed appropriate. Is kissing a necessary part of falling in love? Can you love someone you have never kissed? What happens if couples stop kissing? Those are just a few of the questions which came to mind when I began to write this piece.

I believe that kissing is an important human need. I was able to identify several scientific and psychological studies which officially confirm this, but it isn’t really necessary to use these to agree with something all of us can simply feel. I’m not sure how many people would agree with me when I say that I find a kiss more erotic than sex itself. The mouth is a fascinating orifice. When we kiss we are face to face. There is no hiding. We are physically and psychologically connected in ways which uniquely identify us.

Over the last 100+ years the kiss and views on kissing have changed in thought-provoking ways. For the last couple of weeks my mind has been flooded with things romance marketing experts think will make me feel wanted and loved. The real question is what do I think makes me feel wanted and loved? I think that all the candy, jewelry, cards, gifts, and dinners are bizarre when it comes to romance. Why aren’t there more classes on the art of kissing? Why don’t we see ads encouraging lovers to make love? It’s because there is little money to be made by marketing those things. We have started to indulge more and more on chocolate and we are beginning to forget about psychological and fleshly indulgence.

Soldier Kissing Girlfriend Goodbye_Washington DC

“Washington, D.C.~ A soldier kissing his girl goodbye at Union Station” 1942~
Image No. LC-USW3- 011367-C
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

A kiss can indeed be integral to falling in love, especially when we are young. It’s not merely for physical reasons, it’s just that young people tend to have idealistic and preconceived notions about love and romance. Mature adults develop a deeper understanding of intellectual and carnal pleasures. The older I get the more my perception of these things changes, thus affecting my understanding of the kiss, love, sex, and that which I find sexy. At one time I did believe that you needed to kiss someone to fall in love with them. I can say without a doubt that education has stimulated my appreciation of that which is platonic. Not that I think those with platonic relationships should never or would never kiss, but my thoughts on that would only complicate this piece.

Between 1895 and 2012, the kiss has gone from conservative to liberal on the “osculating” rate scale. The Eau Claire Evening Telegram called kissing “osculation” in an 1895 article titled “Art of Kissing.” How many of you have heard that word before? My guess is not many! I prefer the word “frenching” myself. That 1895 news article claimed that the “kiss plays an important part in history.” A kiss was considered “commingled feelings of lovers,” or “a seal on the union of souls,” or “a signature to the contract of hearts.” I did find that the 1895 article confirmed my thoughts on the eroticism of the kiss. The author said that “on the whole, poets have been more enthusiastic over kisses than oven love itself.”

The Daily Iowa Capital newspaper published “The Delight of the Kiss” in 1896 and called “osculation a theme of the great poets and writers.” One writer goes as far to say that kissing isn’t really kissing at all. Dr. Taylor “declares” that tribes “rub noses” and he says that the “prevailing salute” used by “over half the world” is actually “smelling” or “sniffing.” I find it funny that after quoting Dr. Taylor and discussing the “prevailing salute,” the author quotes Aristanetus the ancient Greek epistolographer. Aristanetus once said that a kiss was “the sweet mingling of souls.” Here we can again see the deeper connection which surpasses that which is physical.

In the 1940s, journalists were still referencing the kiss with that mechanical word. In 1941, Walter Winchell speculated that there were “still people who” didn’t “know the joys of osculation” in the Daily Mirror. At this point I had to wonder if most didn’t know the joy because they were straight scared of that word? It doesn’t exactly push my mind into romance mode. What about you? He then goes on to talk about how a “Chicago gent once sued his wife for divorce because she kissed another man over the telephone.” Hum? Maybe it was actually a connection of minds that man was more troubled by? I’m sure Winchell didn’t exactly encourage others to kiss by saying that people were in legal trouble for kissing in parked cars, on doorsteps, or God forbid in “broad daylight!”

By 1962 the “public” paranoia about kissing was peaking. Gazette Mail ran an article which was simply titled “Public” and the headline was followed by a big question mark. It would be interesting to look at intimacy issues of the time period to see if there is any correlation to anything other than “how people are brought up.” This makes me wonder if the roots of candy and all the other Valentine’s Day junk got their start here? Dr. Robert O. Blood was questioned for this gem. The article says that “some people who might otherwise be disposed to show affectionate regard in public have learned not to do so through bitter experience.” The article features a large image with a caption which reads “Hello Kiss at airport between JFK and Jackie on her arrival home from Greece embarrassed him.” Really?

She Gets The Kiss

“She Gets the Kiss”
c1898~ Image No. LC-USZ62-66319
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

It wasn’t until 1978 that I was able to see that the views on kissing had really transformed. The Winnipeg Free Press ran an article titled “A kiss is just a kiss…or is it? Kissing customs changing.” I was happy to see the change, though that damn mechanical word was still there. The article read “kissing has gone through several metamorphoses through the years. The on-screen style of smooching has progressed from proper, closed mouth kisses and a let-your-imagination-be-your-guide fade-out to today’s erotic open-mouthed osculation, which leaves little to your imagination.” But isn’t this what everyone needed? In this piece we can even see a few pointers~ one of which recommends that we kiss with our eyes by “giving the object of your affection a loving, longing look across a crowded room.” There is that mind connection again.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph published “The Kiss” in 1994. This is where it gets interesting because we start to see references to psychology. A quote in this article would seem superficial to most, but we must remember we are talking about a master of the mind. The “uniquely Freudian thought” which is quoted says “the kiss between the mucous membrane of the lips of two people is held in high esteem among many nations, in spite of the fact that the parts of the body involved do not form part of the sexual apparatus but constitute the entrance to the digestive tract.” Here we see Freud separate sex from the kiss and the mind. In the articles I found between 1895 and 1978, this had not been done.

Meet Me at the Fountain

“Meet Me at the Fountain”
c1908~ Image No. LC-USZ62-58857
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Today kissing and the connection of love, sex, and pleasure has been studied by neurologists and psychologists worldwide. In 2012 an article by William Loeffler was published in the Monessen Valley Independent. The article had the words science, psychologist, scientific, biologists, anthropologists, and historians. I loved this one! The word osculation is only in the dictionary now! It has been replaced by scientific or psychological terms, which I am ok with. Loeffler interviewed a woman who wrote a book on the science of kissing for this piece. Her name was Mary Kirshenbaum. He asked her “but does all this scientific analysis take all the romance out of the kiss?” She responded to Loeffler by saying “it really doesn’t take the magic away at all, but it gives us a better understanding of ourselves.”

When it comes to a holiday which is intended for romance and “magic,” we should remember what is really essential to our happiness. The mind is what is actually behind the art of a kiss and the “seal on the union of souls.” If our minds are not in it a kiss is indeed just a kiss, sex is just sex, candy is just candy, and we lose the face to face intimacy that makes us feel wanted and loved. A kiss~ even if it is only in the mind can be more sensual and satisfying than the most expensive box of chocolates~ so indulge.

Eye 2 Eye

January 29, 2013

Eye 2 Eye by Felicia Lujan
Why does the eye see a thing
more clearly in dreams than
the imagination when awake?”

~~~Leonardo da Vinci

When Leonardo da Vinci contemplated the clarity of his visions he must have wished he was always asleep. Surely the genius of the Italian Renaissance was afforded the luxury of unrestricted creativity in his dreams. There he could perceive alternate realities. There he could understand complexity. Why? I believe that Leonardo was able to open his third eye of knowledge through his dreams. In a spiritual dream state his ideas were clear.

Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye with others. It can be difficult to understand when seeing eye to eye is so desired. In college I took many traditional courses in psychology, philosophy, and religion. Today I was reminded of the three eyes of knowledge, as well as the information that they are able to capture and convey. If we take a look at the eyes of knowledge, each level, each function, we can get a better understanding of why people disconnect or lose eye contact if you will.

In the thirteenth-century there was a religious philosopher named St. Bonaventure. By all accounts, Bonaventure was a great man. He was respected by the church and became one of our greatest philosophers. The Western mystic developed the concept of “three eyes.” The “eyes” were the three methods that men and women utilized to attain knowledge. In his book Breviloquium, St. Bonaventure discusses knowledge and wisdom at length.

The first eye is associated with physical phenomena. The second eye with mental phenomena, and the third eye with spiritual phenomena. Numerous individuals within the humanities believe that we do not only see with our eyes. The larger part of that which we are able to see derives from the mind’s eye. Philosophers, psychologists, and theologists also believe that many may never see with the third eye of knowledge. I myself feel that I see regularly with the Eye of Reason, which is also called the mind’s eye.

1st Eye… Eye of Flesh is the eye we use to see the outside world. Here we actually employ physical sight to see material objects and gain knowledge from those objects.

2nd Eye… Eye of Reason or the mind’s eye is used to attain knowledge associated with the flesh. We also use this eye to analyze abstract thoughts and ideas. This eye includes, but transcends the Eye of Flesh so it is a combination of physical and intellectual knowledge. This has also been referred to as intellectual sight.

3rd Eye… Eye of Contemplation or the Eye of the Spirit is only open when we become fully illuminated with spiritual insight. Most people still have this eye closed. It is said that only true mystics see with this eye.

It is hard to understand why seeing eye to eye in a world of knowledge is difficult. Maybe it is simply that your eye is closed while my eye is open or vice versa? Maybe like Leonardo da Vinci, we should rely on our dreams? Maybe doing so would allow us to open each eye and perceive alternate realities or even reconnect? Why? Because in our dreams, ideas are clear.

In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake said “if the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” Apparently Blake also contemplated translucent eye lids.

Consciousness and Brain Waves

November 27, 2012

I really liked this article. Of course it was published online by my favorite~ Psychology Today. Dr. Brogaard and the researchers at MIT and Boston University ​ are exploring the intersection of the mind and consciousness.
I love this!

Brain Waves as Neural Correlates of Consciousness

by Berit Brogaard, D.M.Sci., Ph.D
November 23, 2012

When we are thinking, thoughts flicker in and out of our minds. What does that mean on the level of the brain? Recent research, conducted by researchers at MIT and Boston University, suggests that when thoughts are in our minds, corresponding groups of neurons are oscillating in synchrony in a high frequency range, around 30 or higher, whereas thoughts that are no longer in our minds oscillate at lower frequencies. When several, distinct thoughts are held in mind simultaneously, several oscillating bundles are out of sync with each other.

The normal waken brain has brain activity that fluctuates between 8 and 100 Hz. An alert and active brain will tend to have neural oscillations, roughly, in the 40 Hz range in at least some parts of the brain. These brain waves are also known as gamma waves. Alpha waves—oscillations in the 8 to 12 Hz frequency range—and beta waves—oscillations in the 12 to 30 Hz range—become more prominent when you are inactive, for example, when you are passively watching television. Brain dead people and coma patients can have oscillations that approach zero. And in seizure patients the brain oscillates even faster and more regions of the brain vacillate in the same frequency range. In a grand mal seizure large areas of the brain flicker in synchrony at extremely high frequencies.

To find out how neurons oscillate when we think or perform tasks, the research team, led by Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT​, first identified two groups of neurons in monkeys that encode specific behavioral rules by oscillating in synchrony with each other. The research animals were trained to respond to objects based on either their color or orientation. When the animals switched between the tasks encoded by the rues, the researcher measured brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, where working memory is located. The researchers found that the neurons associated with orientation oscillated in synchrony at higher frequencies when the monkeys were completing the orientation task, whereas the neurons associated with the color took over when the animals switched from thinking about orientation to thinking about color.

The team also found that the brain uses lower-frequency brain waves to inhibit neurons when they are not needed. For example, when the monkeys engaged in the color task, the neuron group corresponding to the orientation task would oscillate at a lower frequency, in the lower alpha range. This would inhibit these neurons sufficiently to enable the moneys to engage consciously in the color task.

It appears, then, that consciousness associated with working memory, the ability to keep a few pieces of information in mind at a time, correlates with groups of neurons oscillating at a high frequency but out of sync with each other. Its the brain’s ability to keep bundles of neurons simultaneously oscillating at 40 Hz that determines how much information you can hold in mind at any given time.

The findings, published in the November 2012 issue of Neuron​, are consistent with the so-called 40 Hz theory of consciousness. British molecular biologist and neuroscientist Francis Crick​, better known for his co-discovery of the structure of DNA, argued that consciousness arises when certain brain regions fire in synchrony in the 40 Hz frequency range. The researchers didn’t locate gamma-range activity in the moneys during task completion, but this could be because different frequencies are required for consciousness in humans and monkeys.

This 40 Hz theory of consciousness explains some of our findings in the St. Louis Syn Lab​. In our lab we have worked with several people who developed special abilities as well as obsession as a result of traumatic brain injury​ (TBI). TBI occurs when the brain is injured by an external force. TBI can occur either as a result of blunt force trauma or shock waves from a blast. In both situations, the inside of the accelerated skull comes into contact with one side of the brain, generating a secondary shock wave throughout the soft tissue. If the force is strong enough, it can cause the brain to “bounce” off the other side of the skull, resulting in another shock wave. The waves emanating through the brain twist and pull on the connections between neurons, tearing them apart, causing damage to different areas. Depending on the severity of the shock wave, TBI can be very extensive, and multiple TBI incidents can have compounding effects. It is a particularly devastating problem for soldiers who repeatedly sustain mortar shell attacks at close to mid range. Many of them report memory coordination problems years later.

Physical force to the head triggers a centralization of brain activity in local areas, causing a concussion. During a concussion the nerve function of several distinct brain regions become paralyzed as a result of the brain bumping into the skull as it shakes inside the head. When this happens, positively charged potassium ions inside the nerve cells rush outside the nerve cells and calcium ions replace them inside the cells. This shuts down the neuron’s internal engine preventing the nerve cells from burning energy sources (primarily glucose) and giving rise to huge uncontrolled release of neurotransmitters, which bombard or “frag” neighboring neurons. This neuronal fragging causes the affected neurons to die off, leading to scar tissue, whereas other affected neurons gradually regain normal function.

Though we don’t yet fully know the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury, it is possible that the uncontrolled release of neurotransmitters from dying neurons massively enhances brain activity in neighboring brain regions, giving rise to syncronized brain oscillations in the gamma frequency range, and that the brain activity in these regions remains abnormally high on a more permanent basis.

Visual imagery is far the most common way for the brain to represent the world. So it is unsurprising if brain waves in the high frequency range were to yield visual images corresponding to the hyperactivity. After being beaten up Jason Padgett experienced visual images are complex mathematical patterns, and Derek Amato experienced visual images of black and white musical notes after the impact with the pool floor. The visual images appear to make it possible for the two unschooled geniuses to act on excessive brain activity in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

Creativity and Wandering Minds

October 31, 2012

I absolutely love Psychology Today— definitely one of my favorites. This is such a great article by Dr. Beilock, which features a very interesting study.
Want To Be Creative? Let Your Mind Wander
by Sian Beilock, Ph.D.
October 2012

There is no denying it, whether at work, school, or in everyday life, we often encounter situations where thinking outside-the-box is necessary. It’s also true that sparks of insight can be somewhat hard to pin down. You just never know when creative thought will arise.

Fortunately, new research published in the journal Psychological Science changes this. Psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have uncovered the very conditions that give rise to creative thought. As the researchers point out, there are countless anecdotal accounts of creativity happening when people take a break from whatever they are working on. The question, however, is whether any sort of break sparks creative thought or whether there is a certain type of activity that is best to perform during the break period. The answer, it turns out, is the latter. When stuck on a problem that needs a creative solution, turning your attention to another task that requires just a little bit of focus (but not too much) is the best way to jump start the creative process.

The UC Santa Barbara researchers began by having university undergraduate volunteers solve the Unusual Uses Task (UUT). The goal of the UUT is to generate as many unusual uses for a common object, say a brick, in a few minutes time. People are graded on the number of unique uses they generate and the originality of response – an index of creativity thinking.

Next, volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three incubation conditions where, during a 12 minute break period, they did something unrelated to the UUT. People either (1) performed a demanding memory task requiring them to juggle multiple items in their head at once – demanding group; (2) did an undemanding task where they were simply asked to respond to a signal that popped up on the computer screen every so often – undemanding group; or (3) sat and rested – rest group. Then everyone tried their hand at the UUT again. A fourth group (no break group) went straight into the second round of the Unusual Uses Task.

So what did the researchers find? Volunteers in the undemanding group showed a significant improvement in their ability to generate new uses for the objects from their first to second UUT attempt – improving in their generation by about 40%. In contrast, people the demanding group, the rest and no rest groups showed no improvement in their creative thinking.

But, here’s where the results get really interesting. Everyone filled out a self-report measure of mind wandering during the incubation period. The researchers wanted to know how often volunteers engaged in thoughts unrelated to the creativity task, like personal worries or future and past events. And, what they found was that people’s thoughts were much more likely to wonder off-task when they were doing something that required just a little bit of focus (this means that the minds of folks in the undemanding group wandered the most). Moreover, the more people had a propensity to mind wander in general, the more creative they were.

The legendary Greek philosopher, Archimedes, may have been the first to demonstrate the power of taking a break. Asked to determine whether or not a new crown made for the King was solid gold, Archimedes was stumped. He couldn’t melt down the crown or break it open to determine its contents because that would destroy it. And because the crown was in the irregular shape of a laurel wreath, there was no object of a similar shape to which to compare it. Interestingly, as legend goes, Archimedes didn’t come up with the answer until he stepped back from his task and stopped thinking about it altogether. As Archimedes was getting into the bath one day, he noticed that the level of water rose as he got in. He figured out that he could use the amount of water displaced by an object (either himself or the crown) to determine its volume and, with a little math, it’s density (whether the crown had dense gold or a less-dense silver inside). According to tradition, Archimedes was so excited by his “ah-hah” moment that he forgot to get dressed after he got out of the bath and ran through the streets naked yelling, “Eureka!”

Now we know that it’s not just any break that gets our creative juices flowing. Rather, when we are stuck on a problem and need an outside-the-box solution, turning to an activity that engages our attention just slightly so that mind wandering is maximized is the answer. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods (as I have blogged about before), surfing the sports scores, or even a bath that does it. Regardless, uncovering the conditions under which our most creative ideas will arise can help us function at our best.

Baird et al. (2012). Inspired by Distraction: Mind Wandering Facilitates Creative Incubation. Psychological Science.

11*****Posted using WordPress for BlackBerry*****11

Tough: Training Your Mind for Battle

May 22, 2012


All men can see these tactics whereby
I conquer, but what none can see is the
strategy out of which victory is evolved.
=>=>=>=>=>=>=>=>Sun Tzu

Almost every morning as I drive off to work, I pass several members of the New Mexico National Guard running. The look on their faces would not be described as effortless. I am familiar with the difficulty of the path they run, and it is far from easy. The guardsmen and one guardswoman continuously trek the dirt path along the frontage road in the early hours of the morning. Today was the first day in many, many, many days that I have seen these people run with a fully loaded military backpack. While I was driving by each (and I may have passed three or four), I tried to imagine how hard running like that would be? I mean the packs had to weigh at least 80 pounds? I glanced into the rear view mirror to look at my son, and I noticed he too was in awe. There we were, both amazed. Being the nerd I am, I used the time to slip in a bit of education, because I felt inspired. I asked Daryn “why do you think they are training like that?” Though he is very aware of the importance of fitness, he responded questionably “because they don’t have cars???” Hum? I laughed and then I went on to explain.

After I dropped him off for his last day of 1st grade, I continued on to work. During the drive, the word battle came to mind. Daryn and I had talked about the need for these men and women to prepare. This is one reason they were running with the heavy packs. We had talked about the preparation for a war- physical battle, but I realized what I had not told my son was that the guardsmen were also preparing for mental battle as well. All battles start in the mind, and if our minds are strong, we shall endure any war. So what is the definition of the word battle? The physical definition of the word is captured by a noun, but the mental definition of the word can be captured by both a noun and a verb. Battle as a “thing” (or noun), is defined as “a sustained fight.” Battle as an “action” (or verb) is defined as a “fight or struggle tenaciously to achieve or resist something.” The Nation Guard motto is “Always Ready, Always There.” What a great motto! The guard is “the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation’s longest-enduring institutions.” The guards were preparing for battles, with each beginning in the mind.

New Mexico National Guard Building in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I took this photograph on the way home from work today.

After looking into the fitness programs with the guard I found a regimen published in 1998. The regimen is called “Battlemind Training.” The program is specifically designed for “Building Soldier Resiliency.” The regimen was designed by Carl Andrew Castro of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He is with the Department of Military Psychiatry, in the Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. Battlemind training ha? I like that. Apparently this is a very tailored kind of training, which prepares the guard for combat (physically), as well as for a return home following combat (mentally). What a great program! Castro defines battlemind as “a Soldiers inner strength to face adversity, fear, and hardship during combat with confidence and resolution.” He says that “in essence it is psychological resiliency.” The intensive training was designed to “develop psychological resiliency which contributes to a Soldiers will and spirit to fight and win in combat, thereby reducing combat stress reactions and symptoms.” There are two criteria associated with this training and they are “self-confidence” and “mental toughness.”

In 2008, Graham Jones published an article titled Managing Yourself: How the Best of the Best Get Better. The article was published in Harvard Business Review. A business review you ask? Why would an article about fitness be published there? It is because athletes and intellectuals all face the same battles. The differences between the athlete and the intellectual may be: the environment (in the office and/or on the track); the methods (how we fight and/or weapons used); individual thresholds for stress and pain; and commitment to a goal and/or end result. All of these things play a key role in the physical and mental battles each of us face. In many cases, (more cases than some are willing to admit) intellectuals and athletes are one in the same. It is just that the smarts that an athlete chooses to employ as a weapon of choice are focused differently. In his article, Jones says that the main obstacle to achieving “the impossible” may be a “self-limiting mind-set.”

*****Digital composite by Felicia Lujan*****
“Mental toughness” backpack we should all
run with. The backpack composite has an
image of neurons, and words that enhance
the “mind-body connection.”

The author is a sports psychologist who consults with Olympic and other world champions in various sports. During a time when Jones “teamed up with an Olympic gold medal swimmer,” he compared sports to business. This is obviously why his article was published in Harvard Business Review. He said “sport is not business, of course, but the parallels are striking. In both worlds, elite performers are not born but made.” This is so true. He goes on to say that “the real key to excellence in both sports and business is not the ability to swim fast or do quantitative analyses quickly in your head; rather, it is mental toughness.” Jones also says that “elite performers in both arenas thrive on pressure; they excel when the heat is turned up. Their rise to the top is the result of very careful planning- of setting and hitting hundreds of small goals. Elite performers use competition to hone their skills, and they reinvent themselves continually to stay ahead of the pack.” Maybe while running with a backpack!?

The Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology published a white paper by E. Bhambri, P.K. Dhillon and S.P Sahni in 2005. The paper was titled Effect of Psychological Interventions in Enhancing Mental Toughness Dimensions of Sports Persons. I loved that these three researchers of the mind referred to something they called the “mental toughness dimensions of sports persons.” It is great to see academics acknowledge the mental fortitude of athletes. This team’s research found that “sports persons who enter the competitive arena soon realize that there is more to competition than simply learning the physical skills. It is one thing to possess the physical and mental skills and yet another to be able to use them when needed. Every athletic contest is a contest of control. Control of the delicate mind-body connection, which is dramatically clear within the competitive arena.” I love these guys! Yes- yes- the mind-body connection. Do you think that it takes just as much mental toughness to write a white paper as it does to run 14 miles? Of course it does! These researchers even acknowledge the fact that some athletes “spend so much time on physical practice to get an edge in the competition, yet they ignore one of the basic aspects of the game that is mental skill.”

Battles… We all have all sorts of wars to win. Some of our battles will be quick and painless, but others will be long and difficult. The battles we face can bring us to our knees. If our “backpacks” in this life get really heavy, there are a few things we can do. The choice is ours and ours alone. We can drop the backpack and walk or stop completely. We can ask a friend for help carrying a load that is hard to handle alone. Or…. we can trek on and endure by making the most of our innate ability to utilize the mind-body connection. Be inspired… Trek on…

Battlemind Training: Building Soldier Resiliency by Carl Andrew Castro, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Department of Military Psychiatry, Division of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 1998

Managing Yourself: How the Best of the Best Get Better by Graham Jones, Harvard Business Review, 2008

Effect of Psychological Interventions in Enhancing Mental Toughness Dimensions of Sports Persons by E. Bhambri, P.K. Dhillon and S.P Sahni, Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 2005

Smoke and Mirrors: My First Lucid Dream

April 20, 2012

This morning it was very hard for me to get out of bed. The second I opened my eyes, I could feel an indescribable ache in my head. I couldn’t understand why I felt so horrible? In my moment of contemplation, I realized that I was smoking in my dream. I am not a smoker, but yet I was blowing smoke like my first name was Puff (yes the Magic Dragon). But it was just a dream? Wasn’t it? I laid around for awhile. I tossed, I turned, I debated calling in to work because I literally felt sick. When I finally got out of bed, I rushed over to the bottle that I felt would give me some hope for the day. I popped an 800 mg Ibuprofen, washed it down with some caffeine, and then convinced myself that the headache would disappear. By the time I darted out the door for the day, my headache was gone. I thought about it all morning… I mean how strange is it to have a headache from smoking in my dreams? I did dream about many other things, but I knew the smoke caused my head to ache. As the day progressed, I wondered… Did I ever really have a headache at all? Or was it all in my head? No pun intended! I know in my waking life any kind of smoke often causes me to get real headaches, but can it cause a headache in the dream world as well, or did last night mark my first concrete proof of a mind-body connection?

Let Me Dream- Bookplate of Anita Herriman Vedder (ca 1870-1923)- Item No. LC-DIG-ppmsca-15533- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The more the day went on, the more I believed that my experience was purely metapsychological. Now I know that I was likely still asleep when I believed I awoke with a headache. I know that I had the first lucid dream that I can actually recall. It was a lucid dream with something that is called a false awakening. Metapsychology is basically the psychological connection between mind and body. Many say that metapsychology is “beyond what can be studied,” but am I not studying it right now? “Meta” is derived from the Greek word for transcendence and/or going beyond something. For example… Have you ever had a dream where you were doing anything physical and then really woke up with soar muscles? Apparently I am not the only person who has experienced this type of phenomenon. There are some extreme cases out there. Some people wake up with scratches, bruises, and other serious injuries. Just look for yourself, and follow some of the subject threads available online. Since I am a woman who prefers well rounded research, I prefer to look at four things to make my own conclusion. Those four things are: my personal experience; the experiences of everyday people; scholarly approaches; and scientific studies.

In lucid dreaming, the person dreaming can control what they do in a dream. The dreams are often realistic, but are still fluid enough to be influenced by the dreamer. Maybe because I love writing and being creative, I am able to control some of the data which infiltrates my mind (to some degree)? If I was indeed having my first identifiable lucid dream, then it is highly likely that I experienced a false awakening from that dream. If this is the case then it makes total sense that I was in my own room when I opened my eyes and discovered I had a headache. During a false awakening, the dreamer almost always thinks they are awake because they are in the exact place where they originally drifted off to sleep. Some scholars would say that if I had a lucid dream last night, it would make sense that I was not even awake when I thought I woke up! I probably actually woke up just seconds before I actually got out of bed.

A Study in butter the dreaming Iolanthe- butter sculpture of sleeping woman by Caroline S. Brooks (c1878)- Item No. LC-USZ62-93747- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

In 2007, the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association published a white paper by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target. The paper examined Theory and Psychoanalytic Thought, and was titled The Rooting of the Mind in the Body: New Links Between Attachment. Fonagy and Target studied “the relationship between psychoanalysis and attachment theory” and they described that relationship as “complex.” The scholars researched the “whole idea of the mind comprehensively expressing itself exclusively through bodily referents,” and state that this expression derives from Sigmund Freud’s studies of the “ego” and “body-ego.” According to the paper, “any separation between cognition and physical manifestations at the level of brain, bodily sensations, or actions is an artifact of the cognitivists’ computer metaphor, which implies that cognitive processes can be independent of the body, just as software exists more or less independent of hardware. In general, it is the link of brain and body that generates mind and consciousness. Emotion, mood, and motivation act in concert with cognition, primed by evolution to ensure the survival of the person as a whole.”

Dr. Donald DeGracia published his study in 1997 out of Wayne State University titled Paradigms of Consciousness During Sleep. In his study, Dr. DeGracia attempts “to conceptualize conscious sleep experiences.” His paradigm research confirms that “the most common conscious sleep experience is dreaming.” The paper goes on to say that “dreams are a form of conscious awareness during sleep, and that “when we dream, we are consciously aware of visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and emotional content, as well as thought (both cognitive and metacognitive) and to lesser extents smells, taste and pain.” Hum?? Very interesting. This PhD has discovered that “in a lucid dream, the brain undergoes some kind of change that gives the dreamer metacognitive access to their waking memories. Hence, it may be that a lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer can compare their present condition with their waking life. It is this ability to compare the dream experience to waking experience that really appears to distinguish lucid dreams from nonlucid dreams.”

The dream of Pilate's wife by Alphonse Francois (c1879)- Item No. LC-DIG-pga-01296- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

So here is my conclusion… I am 99.9% sure that I had my first recognizable lucid dream. Amazing… It seems that I may have been dreaming I had a headache because I was tapping into latent memories of my experiences with things that cause my head to ache! I had a headache because my mind caused my body to believe it should. I would even go as far to say that muscle memory could have been at work here. I can thank the long gone love of my life, Sigmund Freud for a few things today. Some of those things include: his beautifully sexy brain; the ability of his once lively mind to spark my contemporary mind; his amazing breakthroughs in 1895 relative to the philosophical study of the relationship between the body and the mind; and his still unmatched 1899 study on the Interpretation of Dreams.


Theory and Psychoanalytic Thought,
The Rooting of the Mind in the Body:
New Links Between Attachment (2007)
Peter Fonagy and Mary Target
Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

Paradigms of Consciousness During Sleep (1997)
Donald J. DeGracia, PhD
Wayne State University

Reveal…by Felicia (colored pencil)

March 19, 2012


This piece has taken me since January to complete. I will still need to matte and frame it. I have titled the colored pencil piece Reveal. The drawing includes the symbols of water (as hair) and spirals (as shells). This could be interpreted as a representation of rebirth. A rebirth to reveal the true self, and to shed the persona.


Carl Jung Quotes on the Persona

Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own face. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.

*****Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (1935)

Every calling or profession has its own characteristic persona. It is easy to study these things nowadays, when the photographs of public personalities so frequently appear in the press. A certain kind of behavior is forced on them by the world, and professional people endeavor to come up to these expectations. Only, the danger is that they become identical with their personas-the professor with his text-book, the tenor with his voice. Then the damage is done; henceforth he lives exclusively against the background of his own biography. . . . The garment of Deianeira has grown fast to his skin, and a desperate decision like that of Heracles is needed if he is to tear this Nessus shirt from his body and step into the consuming fire of the flame of immortality, in order to transform himself into what he really is. One could say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is.

*****Concerning Rebirth (1940)

Dragon Heart-Tiger Mind: Working Through the Pain

March 14, 2012
*Baby Doll from Sucker Punch* Her character embodies the mind/body connection with regard to pain.

*Baby Doll from Sucker Punch* Her character embodies the mind/body connection with regard to pain.


I assess the power of
a will by how much
resistance, pain, torture
it endures, and knows
how to turn it to its

…Friedrich Nietzsche


The infamous poet and philosopher Nietzsche (1844-1900) recognized the necessity of will power. Enduring pain is a major part of being human. At times, pain can seem unbearable, still without pain, true pleasure can never be experienced.

Yesterday I made a stop by Sunflower Market to pick up a few snacks, water, and some Tiger Balm. Over the years I have relied on the balm to get me through some of my physical injuries. Like many, I have a demanding life. Between the gym, home, and work, it seems like I gotta lube up with the extra strength every night. In passing through the line, my Tiger Balm caught the attention of the woman ringing me up. She asked what I was buying, and I explained. I told her I have been working out for years, and that this stuff “was the best.” The little man sacking my snacks happily added “people swear by the stuff!” The woman looked again curiously at the small glass container, shrugged her shoulders, and insisted that she would “just work through the pain.” And so we must. On my drive to work I thought about how I work through the pain. I wondered how others worked through theirs? We all have pain. In my bag, I had some balm to rub on my wrist, but there is no balm for the mind…

The extra strength Tiger Balm I picked up yesterday...

The extra strength Tiger Balm I picked up yesterday…

So what is pain? defines “pain” as “physical or mental suffering” or “to hurt.” On the contrary, the phrase “feel no pain” means “to be intoxicated.” Intoxicated by what? Drugs? Alcohol? Maybe… That can work sometimes for a temporary fix, but the pain remains. What is the true intoxicant and natural painkiller? If you want to kill pain, endorphins can help you work through. Bring on some heart, and some endorphins, and you could be a painless super hero! The natural pain killers are similar to opiates (peptides our bodies produce). They can alter, and can even block the perception of pain. The word endorphin is actually a combination of two words- one of which is morphine. I guess the natural painkiller thing makes sense right?

Now that we can sort of define pain, how do physical and mental worlds fuse and/or diffuse to promote or demote pain? The September 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind featured an article titled MIND on Pain: The Psychology of Pain. The article was written by Howard L. Fields. The author talked about how “pain reaches into our psyches.” Ouch! Yeah- it does… Fields said that “our expectations, mood and perspective on pain powerfully influence how much something actually hurts—and the decisions we make every day.” I couldn’t agree more. In his research, Fields discovered that “most people think of pain as resulting from physical injury or disease, but psychological factors play a huge role in pain perception.” Anybody ever seen the movie Sucker Punch? I love me an amazingly strong, still beautifully soft woman. The Baby Doll character completely embodies the mind/body connection. If you want to see a hot movie about displacing mental and physical pain, that is one to watch.

Oh- and what about the US Pain Foundation mission? The foundation is on a mission, “empowering fulfillment, despite the pain.” I use the heart of a dragon, the mind of a tiger, endorphins, and Tiger Balm to work through my pain. In the end, I respect and appreciate my pain. Pain makes me a better person. The steady sting makes me run faster, push harder, inspires my creativity, and makes me a better writer. That’s how I work through my pain. How do you work through yours?

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