Archive

Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Book Review: Mindfulness and Grief: With Guided Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Restore Your Spirit by Heather Stang

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

Book Review: Mindfulness and Grief: With Guided Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Restore Your Spirit by Heather StangSummary:
Mindfulness & Grief is an eight-week guide using meditation, yoga, journaling and expressive arts, plus inspirational stories, to help you reduce suffering and emerge transformed on the other side of loss.

Review:
Most of my readers know that I lost my father suddenly and unexpectedly last November (my eulogy). I reached out for books to help me, as I have my whole life. I reviewed the first one I read here. The first book I reached out to was a more raw experience, and I think that’s reflected in that review. For the second book, I was particularly seeking something to guide me so I didn’t become stuck in any one feeling or place. I’m not religious, but I do consider myself to be both science-minded and spiritual, and I know mindfulness holds a lot of esteem in psychology. So when I saw this book offering basically an 8 week course in mindfulness specifically for grief, I thought it’d be a good match.

It’s obvious that it took me much longer than 8 weeks to complete the book. I think putting 8 weeks on there is a bit unrealistic. I often found at the end of the week in question that I wasn’t yet ready to move on to the next phase or that I hadn’t had time to do the activities in the book yet. I think the book often fails to consider how busy the person who is also grieving might be. There is much more going on in your life than the grief and so it must be compartmentalized and dealt with only periodically. That said, I did find the phases to be appropriate and in the right order, and once I gave myself permission to do them at whatever pace I deemed appropriate, I found working through them helpful.

Each chapter talks about where you might be emotionally at this point and offers stories from others who’ve gone through the grief process to help you feel less alone. Each chapter ends with some activities to do. Some of them are guided meditations, others are prompted journaling and still others are activity suggestions such as specific types of yoga or walking. I found the journaling prompts to be the most helpful. They were straight-forward and often pushed me to encounter an uncomfortable feeling I was trying to avoid in my grief and work through it.

The book said that the guided meditations could be accompanied by recordings on the partner website but at the time I was trying to do them I could not find them. It’s not easy to do a guided meditation that you must repeatedly open your eyes and read. I suppose I could have made my own recordings based on what the book said but my energy level was low at the time (due to the grief) and I instead tried to use them with the book, which wasn’t particularly helpful. I think this book could work really well if it came with a digital download of the meditations and maybe even some guided yoga sessions. There were a few written out yoga sessions as well, which I always find difficult to follow.

In spite of the shortcomings, I still found this book helpful in my grief. It wasn’t exactly the program to follow that I was expecting but it did provide timely journaling prompts and stories from others that helped me feel comforted.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

Friday Fun! (August: Yoga and Gratitude)

September 3, 2014 2 comments
My view reading next to the Charles River (including my book, of course!)

My view reading next to the Charles River (including my book, of course!)

Hello my lovely readers!

My, it’s been quite a busy summer for me, and August is always the busiest, as anyone who works in post-secondary academia will tell you.  On top of students coming back to campus and teaching orientations, I also started a new project at work and took on more responsibility in another one.  In my personal life, my partner and I threw our first party together, which was a smashing success, and I finished out the month with some vacation time to get to go to the track with him again, something that I always really enjoy.  It makes me so happy to get to see him race and also camp out and be in sunbeams all day on top of it!

Two things I’ve discovered this month that I’d like to tell you about.  The first is something you may have heard of, MyYogaPro.  Basically MyYogaPro features videos done by Erin Motz (one of my favorite online yoga instructors).  The videos both break down poses step-by-step for you and also feature full-length programs, organized for various goals (flexibility, power yoga, backbends), progressing from easy to advanced.  Even better, you earn badges for completing videos, which makes it like achievements in a videogame but for doing something physical.  You can register for lifetime access for only $45 right now.  I know this sounds a bit like an ad, but no one asked me to talk about MyYogaPro.  I chose to sign up for the account, and I’ve found it really has enhanced my yoga practice.  I’m learning and progressing in a way I never have before with yoga.  I’m quite passionate about how the website enhances home practice.  If you’re into yoga, if you’ve dabbled your toes but never got serious, or if you’re brand-new to the concept, there’s something for everyone.

The second thing I’ve discovered that I’m really enjoying is an app called Gratitude 365.  It gives you a notebook page every day to put down however many things from that day you want to that you are grateful for.  It also lets you attach a photo to that day.  You can password protect the app if you want.  You can both view a snapshot of your last few days and a calendar of all your pictures.  It also keeps track of how many days you’ve journaled for and your average number of gratitudes.  A lot of people talk about how taking a moment to be thankful each day enhances mood and reduces stress and anxiety, but even if that’s not your goal, it’s a great little journaling app that is easy to use in the day-to-day.

In spite of being so busy this month, I still managed to read 5 books.  I currently have a back-log of three book reviews, so they should keep coming at a steady pace.  I also created a new cross-stitch pattern. The test stitch is completed, I just need to hoop it for the recipient and create the pdf pattern.  Keep your eye out for it.  It’s geeky!

My partner is always wonderfully supportive during my most stressful month of the year, and I honestly think his support is part of why I handled this August with as much relaxation tossed in as I managed to grab, whether that was sneaking in 10 minutes of yoga, journaling gratitude, going for walks together, laughing at old Twilight Zone episodes, or reading outside flopped on a blanket together.  When I think about my August, I don’t just think about the stress, and that’s quite the gift.

Happy reading, everyone!

 

Evidence, Bias, and Use…Oh, My! (MLA12 Seattle: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Section)

So at the meeting, librarians present their papers that were accepted to the conference.  These are organized into groups of four sponsored by one of the MLA’s sections.  I’m pleased to say that on Monday I made it to an entire session.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine includes everything from yoga to special diets (veg*nism, gluten-free) to acupuncture to traditional Chinese medicine to etc….  I appreciate CAM because it tends to look at the patient as a whole instead of just the diseased body part.  Plus I was curious as to what the presentations would have to say.  One thing that it is important to know.  Cochrane is a database of systematic reviews.  A systematic review is a study of the studies done.  It then summarizes what we know so far.  Think of it as centralized scientific study information.  The other thing to know is that in Western medicine, a treatment is come up with and then tested before it is used with people.  In CAM, the treatments are already in practice, so traditional randomized control trials (RCTs) used in Western medicine aren’t super-applicable.

“Cochrane Complementary and Alternative Medicine Systematic Reviews: An Analysis of Authors’ Comments on the Quality and Quantity of Evidence and Efficacy Conclusions” by Robin A. Paynter

  • CAM limited by RCT-driven evidence-based practice
  • 10% of database are CAM topics
  • Cochrane has a project to develop a classification scheme of CAM topics.
  • 47 out of 53 Cochrane groups have at least one review on a CAM topics
  • Treatment ares cover everything from vitamins to yoga
  • dietary intervention has 37 studies
  • Cochrane expresses concern over poor study designs.
  • Difficult to determine active content in plant-based meds
  • Significant groupage of comments around insufficient evidence and no effect.
  • cross-cultural issues

“Alternative Research Education in a Post-R25 World: Assessing Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) Student Attitudes Toward Research and the Scientific Method” by Candise Branum

  • Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine–AOM
  • R25 grants intend to develop research literacy and view research as a bridge between Western medicine and CAM
  • Acupuncture Practitioner Research Education Enhancement (APREE)
  • AOM student interest in research declined with years in school, a 2006 study found
  • Do students recognize the benefits of AOM research? Overwhelming yes.
  • Students at schools without dedicated research departments were very unsure about the impact of research.
  • Feelings about research slope toward the negative over time.
  • Students see the benefits of research but that doesn’t necessarily mean they like it
  • A lot of students want to stay alternative and not become complementary
  • If they don’t want to be attached, they’re not gonna want to use the bridge of research.

“Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (CAM’s) Research Agenda and Its Unique Challenges” by Jane D. Saxton

  • In 2007: 38.4% of adults used CAM over the previous 12 months.  Also, adults spent $33.9 billion out of pocket on CAM.
  • NIH funding to CAM is only 0.5% of the overall budget.
  • CAM is individualized not standardized.  (It’s adjusted to fit the patient not one standard applied to all patients).
  • Whole Systems Research (WSR) is a term coined in 2002.  It is an approach to studying non-linear, whole systems of care.
  • Use of pragmatic RCTs: measure effectiveness, don’t use placebos, patient-centered outcomes (transformational change)
  • CAM is the opposite of Western meds.  The treatment is already in use, whereas Western medicine is proposed, tried, then used.
  • You don’t need to know the biological mechanism in order to know its effectiveness.
  • MeSH terms currently available: complementary therapies, nonlinear dynamics, systems integration
  • We need more funding, different approaches, Whole Systems Research!
  • Please take a moment to check out the libguide of this presentation.

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to One Corner of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Universe” by  Ron LeFebvre

  • Vitalists are more interested in information (they “know” it works).
  • Empiricists value EBM but may not be great at finding what they’re looking for.
  • Chiropractors don’t like to be associated with medicine.  Use terms like “health care” and “practice” with them.
  • A good chiropractic search string: spinal manipulation OR chiropractic OR manual therapy
  • New graduates are more likely to be EBP savvy.
  • “There’s nothing that makes you more skeptical about research than studying it.”
  • There is no widely-used, well-regarded point-of-service tool to serve chiropractic interests specifically.  They do use Dynamed though.
  • PEDRO–database for physical therapy/exercise therapy that is also useful to chiropractors

Q and A

  • Diet is odd.  Sometimes it is viewed as an alternative medicine, sometimes not.  If it’s a non-western diet, though, it’s considered alternative.
  • NIH funded PROMIS is focused on patient-reported outcomes, particularly in treating anxiety/depression.
  • N-CAM databse has outcome scales and measures

Friday Fun! (Yeah, I’m Kind of All Over the Place Today)

November 4, 2011 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  I am sitting here with sore ribs from my work-out last night.  Do not ask what happened.  I have no idea.  I think I might have to blame the Roman Chair though.

The deadline for Tova Gallagher 2 is fast approaching.  Like, I’m starting to get a little panicky about it.  It’s a Thanksgiving story, so I absolutely need to finish it like yesterday.  Then I need to design the cover.  *breathes*  Finishing the draft is my major serious for REALZ goal for this weekend.  I refuse to let ya’ll down!

I am currently obsessed with the admittedly horrible but still frighteningly addictive “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO.  It’s my favorite post-workout song for this section, “Girl look at that body. Ah. Girl look at that body. Ah. Girl look at that body. I work out!”  Ridiculous, I know, but it matches my after workout celebratory spirit so HAH.

This weekend I will be:

  • Writing Tova 2
  • Yoga-ing it up
  • Training with my trainer
  • Getting smoothies from the new smoothie place near me
  • Watching nerdy shit with my friend K
  • Making something in my crockpot
  • Writing Tova 2

Look, I made bookends! Happy weekends all!

Friday Fun! (What Goes Up Must Come Down or I Order Zen Flesh Zen Bones From My Library)

October 21, 2011 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Those of you who follow me on twitter know that this week turned into a doom week from hell for me after my cheerfulness last weekend.

I really need to learn to stop tempting the fates thusly, DAMMIT.

It’s not that any one horrible thing happened; it was just one of those weeks.  First off, I’ve been seeing a guy for a couple of months who I was really liking, but I wound up having to break up with him on Tuesday.  Let’s just say, he wasn’t treating me the way I deserve to be treated, and I’m older and wiser and don’t put up with that shit anymore.  But still!  It’s sucky.  It’s sucky to be backed into a corner and have to do something that sucks.  It’s sucky to think you’ve met someone who might be right for you, and it turns out they’re not. It’s just sucky.  It’s also sucky to have that happen and currently be working on a paranormal romance novella then discover that you’ve written the last 3,000 words without the male love interest showing up because you’re just not into that right now and have to write just short stories all week.  That sucks too.

Second, I somehow wound up working both of my jobs three days in a row, which means that I’ve been gone from home from 7:30am to 11pm.  Not. Fun.  I need to learn how to say no to the part-time job sometimes.  It is, after all, part-time.  At the very least I need to never do three days in a row again.

Suffice to say all this stress and emotions (damn them) added together to lead to me walking home from work in the rain. Crying.  I was a walking, eye-roll inducing scene from an overly dramatic movie.  Only I ended my walk with whiskey and whining to @bitchylibrarian on gchat.

It’s ok though. Really, it is.  One huge thing I’ve been working on in my 20s is accepting reality for what it is.  Which leads me to why I ordered Zen Flesh Zen Bones from the library this week.

The day that I was preparing myself to accept the fact that, yes, dude I was seeing wasn’t treating me right and I needed to stand up to that shit, I saw this excerpt from the book on tumblr:

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

That’s all there is to it, isn’t it?  If someone really cares for you, everyone will know.  It won’t be in secret, and it won’t be something hidden.  If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.  Here.  In front of everyone.  And you know what?  That’s what all my lovely friends do, which is why they stay my friends.  They tweet me encouragement when I have a shitty week.  They tell jokes to try to get me to laugh.  They text me to check in.  They are just generally awesome, and that’s the kind of people we should want to have in our life.  People who ease the stress of living, not people who add to it.  And I’m pleased to say that tomorrow I get to see at least some of them for an awesome fall potluck I’m hosting.  I can’t wait!  Although I will miss those who can’t make it.

As my yoga instructor says:

Shanti Shanti Shanti Namaste

Or as myself and Regretsy like to put it:

Namaste, Bitches.

 

Friday Fun! (The Gym and Body Image)

April 1, 2011 8 comments

Hello my lovely readers and a happy April Fool’s Day to you!  There’ll be no tricks on my blog, but if you want to have some fun, be sure to check out ThinkGeek‘s home page today.  🙂

In any case, today I want to talk to ya’ll about body image and the gym, because I think it’s something that keeps a lot of folks out of the gym when it shouldn’t.  When I joined the gym one of the things I was the most nervous about was exercising, changing, showering, sauna-ing (is that a word?  It should be) around other people who might be judging me.  Yes, I have fairly good body image, but I’m still a person and struggle with it periodically.  I mean really, who doesn’t?  Beyond not wanting to have men hogging the weights and hitting on me, I also joined a women only gym purely because I wanted to be in the company of other women who hopefully wouldn’t be judgmental pricks like certain girls in highschool tend to be.  But I was just like “Fuck it.  I won’t let the possibility of some women being bitches to me keep me from being healthy,” so I joined.  And you know what?  It has been the best body image experience of my life, and no, that is not just because I’m getting more confidence in my body’s abilities.

I have not once heard a single woman say a single derogatory thing about another woman in my gym.  Not once.  The women are astoundingly kind.  The women are universally thoughtful of each other and profusely kind at sharing equipment and amenities.  I have never once heard a personal trainer say the f-word (fat).  I have never seen a trainer yelling at a woman.  I have never seen a class instructor without a smile on her face.  I’ve only heard trainers and instructors encouraging women, telling them, “Society tells you you can’t do this because you’re a woman, but I’m telling you that your body is amazing, and you can.”

But it goes beyond that.  I see women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, races in the locker room, and you know what?  That has just totally opened my eyes to the fact that the Hollywood ideal, society’s mantra of what a woman *should* look like just simply does not reflect reality.  And I find every woman I encounter in the locker room and sauna beautiful in her own unique way.  And I got to thinking, if I find them beautiful, if they’re here doing their thing with their body, then why should I ever diss my own body or get down on it or not embrace it?  My body is amazing.  It can do seriously amazing things.  I can bench press weights.  I can hold the dancer’s pose.  I can run.  I can do chin-ups.  I can almost touch my forehead to the floor.  Plus, my body can nurture life or not, as I see fit.  My body can do all these things and is simultaneously uniquely mine, and that is what makes it so awesome.