The mind is so powerful, it can reverse aging

Written on September 18, 2016 at 10:22 am, by Ellen Wood

When you read the headline, did you believe it? A very small number of us think it’s true; the rest of us don’t. Many people think that aging can never be reversed and certainly not with positive thinking. The whole idea would be laughable if it weren’t for Professor Ellen Langer and her Counterclockwise Study conducted more than three decades ago.

The first woman to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University, Dr. Langer has written extensively on the illusion of control, mindful aging, stress, decision making and health. But it is the ground-breaking experiment she organized and carried out in 1979 that rocked the world of psychology.

Dr. Langer designed her Counterclockwise Study to find out if turning back the clock psychologically could also turn it back physically. In other words, if we mentally become younger, will our bodies also become younger?

To explore this provocative question, Langer enrolled a group of men in their 70s and 80s to participate. The men were divided into two groups and each group was taken by bus to live for a week in a secluded location about two hours north of Boston.

The first group arrived and stepped into a virtual time-warp – back into the 1950s. They were instructed to live as though they were actually in that time – with Life and Saturday Evening Post magazines from that era, a black-and-white TV and old movies that were new then. They listened to radio news from the ‘50s and discussed “current” events such as the launch of the first U.S. satellite, Castro’s victory ride into Havana, Nikita Khrushchev and the need for bomb shelters. Dr. Langer believed she could reconnect their minds with their younger and more vigorous selves by putting them in an environment connected with their own past lives.

The men also found themselves in a place that wasn’t adapted to their infirmities – no ramps or hand rails and they weren’t assisted with anything. Langer wanted them to be totally self-reliant during their stay. She insisted they carry their own suitcases, even if it meant scooting it along an inch at a time.

Dr. Langer almost abandoned the study as she observed, “When these people came to see if they could be in the study and they were walking down the hall to my office, they looked like they were on their last legs, so much so that I said to my students, ‘Why are we doing this? It’s too risky’.”

However, during that week, Langer and her team observed many changes in the participants. They were standing more erect, walking faster and some even decided they didn’t need their walking sticks.

After a week, they returned home and the second group of men arrived. These men, given a slightly different set of instructions, were told to simply spend the week remembering their experiences of the ‘50s and reminiscing.

During each week, on one evening the men sat by the radio, listening as Royal Orbit won the 1959 Preakness. For the second group it brought back a flood of memories; for the first group, it was a race being run for the first time.

None of the participants was told they were part of a study about aging. Before and after the experiment, both groups took a battery of cognitive and physical tests, and after just one week, the test results had changed significantly – for the better.

Langer points out in her book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, published in 2009, “any positive results would be meaningful…old age is taken to be a one-way street to incapacitation.”  However, she and her team were amazed by the changes evidenced in the tests. Both groups were stronger and more flexible. Height, weight, gait, posture, hearing, vision – even their performance on intelligence tests had improved. Their joints were more flexible, their shoulders wider, their fingers not only more agile, but longer and less gnarled by arthritis.

Perhaps the most remarkable finding was that the men in the first group – those who acted as if they were actually back in the ‘50s showed significantly more improvement. After spending a week pretending to be younger, they seemed to have bodies that actually were younger.

The physiological results provided evidence for a simple but invaluable fact: the aging process is indeed less fixed than most people think. In Langer’s words, the study showed conclusively “that opening our minds to what’s possible, instead of clinging to accepted notions about what’s not, can lead to better health at any age.”

And to satisfy that part of your mind that still may be muttering some doubts, I’ll just share with you a part of what the American Psychological Association said in their citation to Dr. Langer when she received their Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest. The award reads, in part, “…her pioneering work revealed the profound effects of increasing mindful behavior…and offers new hope to millions whose problems were previously seen as unalterable and inevitable. Ellen Langer has demonstrated repeatedly how our limits are of our own making.”

Please comment below to share your experience/ideas for using your mind to reverse aging. Affirmations? Exercise? Watching your thoughts? Something else? Thanks.

Love,
Ellen

Thoughts are sneaky.

Written on August 27, 2016 at 9:36 am, by Ellen Wood

There they are, taking up a big chunk of our energy. And we don’t even notice. Like a busy city whose noise is so familiar we don’t hear it anymore. But that constant buzz is still going on. Cars. People. Construction. Sirens. Trains. And we wonder why we’re stressed. If mental stress were physical stress it would be like carrying around a huge, heavy backpack. Filled with things we don’t even enjoy. For years. And we carry it for so long we forget it’s even there, but we wonder why our body is achy and tired. And just like that our thoughts are taking up our energy. Lots of it.

I’m not referring to the kind of thoughts used to solve a problem or contemplate beauty. I’m talking about the unintentional thoughts that seem to sweep us away, enticing us to worry about the future or regret the past. Sadly, those worrisome and regretful thoughts are what take up most of our mental space. And they don’t feel good.

Not only do they block our happiness, they actually block the natural flow of energy in our physical body. Scientific studies show that when we concentrate on a thought backed by emotion our brain sends a rush of chemicals through the nervous system and to all our cells.

Troubling thoughts produce cortisol and other stress hormones that compromise and weaken our bodies. We get tired. Or even sick. And old. (Well, we all age, but we don’t have to be old, if you know what I mean.)

When we focus on thoughts that feel good, our brain sends a rush of oxytocin  – that’s the love hormone – throughout our body. Our cells, tissues, and fibers are soothed and strengthened. We are relaxed, alert and aware. All because of our thoughts.

The cornerstone of my entire program for reducing stress and growing younger is changing your thought patterns. No matter what else you do to live happy and grow younger, it cannot be sustained without a well-tended mind.

According to the National Science Foundation, the number of thoughts we have each day ranges between 12,000 and 50,000. Often these repetitive thoughts are negative – full of what we don’t like about ourselves or someone else, or what we’re afraid might happen in the future.

This negative mind chatter stops us from living up to our full potential as powerful, magnificent, joyful beings. And the dis-ease in our minds often becomes the disease in our bodies. You can change that! All you need is a willingness to form a new habit and a second or two to remind yourself to observe your thoughts.

One of the best times to practice is when you brush your teeth since you don’t need your conscious mind to brush your teeth. It’s all muscle memory – the action of brushing your teeth is automatic. So use that time to watch what’s going on in your mind. Don’t judge your thoughts but try not to get taking away with them either. In the beginning you just want to increase your awareness and simply notice that you are thinking.

I promise that if you make observing your thoughts a practice, it will raise your consciousness, the process of becoming aware of negative thoughts will become automatic and you’ll feel healthier and more joyful.

Here’s an effective way to get started.

  1. Write on an index card or sticky note: What am I thinking right now?
  2. Put it on or near your bathroom mirror as a reminder.
  3. While you’re brushing your teeth, notice your thoughts.
  4. Don’t judge them – just notice that you’re thinking.
  5. Once a week, change the position of the card.

You are what you think! My suggestion? Form a habit of becoming aware of what’s going on in your mind.

If you have a good idea for reminding yourself to practice watching your thoughts, or any other good idea to share with our online community, please comment below. Thanks!

Love and Blessings,
Ellen

 

“Miracle Gene” discovered that can potentially wipe out any disease

Written on July 16, 2016 at 8:53 am, by Ellen Wood

This startling news is from my friend, David Kekich, who founded Maximum Life Foundation. You too can sign up for his free newsletter at www.maxlife.org. And if you have some extra dollars, you might contribute to his foundation to help this wonderful work he’s doing.

David writes:
Do you remember the team of molecular biologists that won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of a dormant gene with the amazing ability to potentially wipe out any disease? More than 16,200 independent studies confirm its disease-reversing power.

Scientists from prestigious institutions like Harvard and Stanford have conducted these studies on the “miracle gene.”  Their conclusions are simply astonishing.

My associate, Michael Fossel, MD, PhD, estimates this revelation could help push human lifespan as far as 200. That’s a HEALTHY lifespan too!

Mike adds: “We should be able to extend the human life span indefinitely.” He goes on to say that this single gene can, “postpone or prevent the onset of diseases associated with aging.”
Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn recently led a team of University of California and Stanford researchers who found the “miracle gene” could reverse Alzheimer’s.

And Harvard graduate Dr. Dean Ornish concluded that, the miracle gene could actually not only prevent but even reverse chronic diseases, like heart disease, early-stage prostate cancer, Type 2 diabetes, etc.

The bottom line is, this discovery could expand our life expectancy and make so-called “incurable” chronic diseases a thing of the past.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

In fact, the “miracle gene”, called hTERT won’t just lengthen our health span, it will…
… to be continued.

Note from me: I’ll send the next installment after I get it from David.

Joy and Blessings,
Ellen

How Muhammad Ali Affected My Life

Written on June 7, 2016 at 11:00 am, by Ellen Wood

“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.” Muhammad Ali said those words and he lived by them. He became an extraordinary man and a person we can all look up to and learn from. Believing in yourself is a vital part of living an extraordinary life. But the second part of what he said is even more freeing: believe in the goodness of others.

Sometimes I forget that it’s not all about me. My challenges. My successes. My difficulties. When I catch myself with that kind of thinking – with the aid of my little sticky notes – I remind myself to focus on other people. Ah, it’s like a breath of fresh air. I relax, turn my attention to the goodness of others and say my little prayers of gratitude.

I’ve been blessed with an incredibly diverse and loving family. Let me tell you about my grandson Sam. He’s a very smart 20-year-old, a happy guy, talks a lot, laughs a lot, works at Subway in Denver, Colorado. Thank goodness he’s alive during this time in our history, rather than when I grew up. Ali also said, “I had to prove you could be a new kind of black man. I had to show the world.” Sam is black.

A little more about my family? This is a true story that happened to my father in the early 1970s. His name was Nicholas Bilansky and he came to the United States from Czechoslovakia when he was 19 years old. He started his own business as a shoemaker, married my mother and raised three kids in a loving household.

Daddy loved heavyweight boxing matches and revered the champions. I remember as a child going to the local beer garden with my parents and sister and brother. We would sit in the back room with other families listening to the championship fight on the radio. We kids had fun sipping soda and coloring in our coloring books or playing games. Daddy was glued to the radio – he didn’t want to miss a word.

Even after I grew up and left home, Daddy was in awe of heavyweight champions so imagine his excitement when Muhammad Ali walked into his shop one day. Ali had just set up his training camp in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, a small hamlet about ten miles from where we lived in Pottsville.

“I hear you’re the best shoemaker around and that you could put weights in my boots so I can strengthen my legs, and that you could do that for about fifty dollars,” Ali said to my father – in just those words. I know the exact words because the story has been told hundreds of times in our family.

“I no can do,” my father told him in his broken English while shaking his head from side to side. Yet he was so thrilled he could hardly contain his enthusiasm and excitement.

“What?!” Ali exclaimed. “I was told you’re the best shoemaker in Pottsville. And you tell me you can’t put weights in my boots for about fifty dollars!”

“I no can do,” my father told him again. “I do for twenty-five dollars!”

And he did. Ali gave him fifty dollars anyway.

Muhammad Ali died last Friday, June 3. His was a rewarding yet often difficult life, but I’m grateful that he paved the way for others like my grandson and gave Daddy a story he told proudly for the rest of his life.

So today, as I turn my attention to the goodness of others, I’m going to do it in honor of Muhammad Ali.

Alzheimer’s research shows meditation can reverse memory loss

Written on May 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm, by Ellen Wood

There’s scientific evidence that meditation can prevent and even reverse cognitive decline. Yay! To those of us with the Alzheimer’s gene this is good news! Since our genes are only potentials that are activated based on lifestyle, my Alzheimer’s gene APO-e4 doesn’t stand a chance of expressing itself.

Meditation is also receiving a lot of attention in the Alzheimer’s community as a technique for lowering many risk factors for the disease, such as hypertension and depression. In 2012, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation published a report stating that meditation has been shown to lead to enhanced cognitive function, reversed memory loss, reduced cortisol levels and reduced stress. If a pill promised all those things with no negative side effects it would be considered a miracle pill.

In 2014, Frontiers In Psychiatry published a study titled Meditation as a Therapeutic Intervention for Adults at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease – Potential Benefits and Underlying Mechanisms. The authors, Dr. Kim E. Innes and Dr. Terry Kit Selfe, point out that Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly, usually preceded by signs of cognitive decline, and that this early period offers a potential window for therapeutic intervention. In my own journey with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s I was terrified of the devastating future I imagined based on my mother’s cognitive decline. Regular meditation is one of the first things I added into my life to reverse the memory loss and other signs of the disease. And it worked.

Innes and Selfe reviewed numerous studies involving meditative techniques and their therapeutic effects. They determined that these techniques not only reduce stress, anxiety and depression, they also promote beneficial changes in several neurochemical systems, increase blood flow, oxygen delivery and glucose utilization in regions of the brain associated with mood elevation and memory. In addition, recent research suggests that meditation enhances immune response, reduces blood pressure and inflammation, and improves oxidative stress. The same study reveals that meditation may also affect specific gene expression pathways implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s.

In a 2015 study researchers determined that damage to the hippocampus, which is central in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, could be prevented or delayed by mindfulness-based intervention. They concluded that meditation showed great potential in preventing the neurodegenerative cascade leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

So what does all this mean for you and me?

For me – wow! This explains why my short-term memory loss and stumbling on words disappeared about six months after I began practicing meditation twice daily. Before I meditated regularly, I had less energy, less vitality, less desire to do anything. My ability to accomplish things has skyrocketed since making meditation a daily habit.

In August 2010, when Dr. Terry Grossman told me that my test showed I have the Alzheimer’s APO-e4 gene, I was not really alarmed. By then I was half a dozen years into my self-developed program to grow younger and the symptoms had disappeared. I knew all about Dr. Bruce Lipton’s work with genes and how the expression of genes is determined by the signals genes get from their environment. I knew that even though I had the gene, as I had suspected, it didn’t have to express, and with my daily practices I was on the right track for keeping my Alzheimer’s gene in the ‘off’ position.

So what does this mean for you? Well, if you don’t already have a meditation practice, I highly suggest you start one now. In addition to all the benefits science has identified through research, the eventual – and sometimes immediate – benefits of peace of mind and a heart overflowing with love are, in my opinion, the nectar of life and the essence of happiness.

Your skin CRAVES this!

Written on March 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm, by Ellen Wood

 

Your body’s largest organ – your skin – craves dry brushing.

When you treat your skin to the simple act of dry brushing, you’re doing more than just helping your body eliminate toxins. It also makes your skin healthier and cleaner by increasing blood circulation, removing dead skin cells, stimulating your skin’s natural oil glands and helping absorb the nutrients you apply with oils or lotions.

Not only that – it feels good, invigorating your whole body.

The most important reason to dry brush your skin, though, is to help the fluid of your lymphatic filtration system clean up the toxins, poisons and metals.

Skin is one of the first things we notice in another person and when we look in the mirror. Dry brushing your skin is one of the things that makes you want to look in the mirror.

Tips for Dry Brushing Your Body

  • Use a natural bristle brush with moderately stiff bristles – never one with synthetic bristles. Most likely you’ll be doing your own dry brushing (a lover might get distracted), so get one with a long handle that’s part of the brush, not glued on, to reach all areas of your body. Body brushes are usually found in health food and herb stores.
  • If you’ve never brushed your skin, or haven’t in a long time, brush softly and gently every other day for the first week. Your skin needs some time to get used to the rough feeling and you don’t want to stir up the toxins too vigorously when first starting.
  • Do not brush your face or nipples with the body brush. Do not brush skin rashes, wounds, cuts, infections or other skin problems.
  • Your body and the brush should be dry. Why not wet brush while in the shower or tub? Because wet brushing stretches your skin so always brush before bathing.
  • Every few weeks take your brush into the shower with you and wash it in soap and water. Then let it dry.
  • Have fresh, pure water ready to drink.

Okay now, here’s where we start the process:

How to Dry Brush Your Skin

  1. Get naked.
  2. Always brush towards your heart. This is so important because brushing away from your heart can cause the little valves in your veins to become blocked or damaged, leading to varicose veins. Your veins are loaded with actual valves that are meant to open in the direction leading back to your heart.
  3. While you brush, feel what you’re doing. That means put your consciousness on the part of your body that you’re brushing. This will help keep you in the present moment, and while you’re feeling the sensation of the brush against your skin, your mind chatter will begin to quiet down.
  4. Treat the act of dry brushing your skin like a sacred ritual – stay attentive to what you are doing and adopt an attitude of love and gratitude. Get into the habit of telling your body you love it. And thank each part as you’re brushing it. Loving and thanking your body are extremely important aspects of the process because your body’s chemistry will react one way if your attitude is love and another if your attitude is fear or loathing. The loving way will enhance your immune system.
  5. Start brushing the sole of each foot. For the rest of your body, use smooth, upward strokes – always toward your heart. Brush up each leg starting at your toes; then brush up your belly, butt and lower back, your arms from your fingertips up to your shoulders, and then brush down your neck, chest and upper back.
  6. After you finish brushing, your skin will glow. Take a warm, short shower to wash away the dead skin cells.
  7. Drink at least 8 ounces of water to flush away the toxins.
  8. Apply a good moisturizer.

Dry brushing has become a daily ritual for me the last twelve years. I’m on my third body brush, having completely worn out two others.

The best thing about this simple act of skin stimulation and conscious gratitude is that it has helped me relinquish negative judgments about parts of my body. After all, how can you dislike a buddy you’ve gotten to know and love and who sticks with you through thick and thin?

Go ahead and try dry brushing. You’ll be amazed at what a loving relationship with your body can do for your health and wellbeing and besides, it sure feels good!

Not worry about anything? Is that realistic?

Written on February 28, 2016 at 9:50 am, by Ellen Wood

I was driving home from Albuquerque a couple months ago and realized how grateful I was to have cruise control on my car (no heated seats though – bummer!) Driving is so much easier when I don’t have to control the gas pedal on long rides – I just let the car do that for me.

And then I got to wondering about the mystery of life and how unexpected difficulties happen. Unexpected fabulous things happen too, but we handle them just fine with a smile on our face and thrill in our heart. What if we could approach all the events of our life with that joy?

Imagine sailing along on Cruise Control, being present and doing what needs to be done – but not worrying about anything – trusting our inner self (you can substitute the word God or the Universe for inner self) to handle the whole shebang while we cruise along enjoying the fun and adventure of living.

Sounds like a good idea, but is it realistic? It might work for a day or maybe only a few hours, or minutes, but then something out of the blue hits us and we get mired in the muck and ditch the Cruise Control. Yep, we get to thinking that we can do a better job when we control the gas and brakes, and we end up jerking along through rough roads.

I’ve been doing that recently (maybe you read my last blog) even though I know that stress is the number one aging factor. So, to start turning over some of that control and stay consistently aware of my current state of being, I created some affirmations and put them on sticky notes around the house. When I see the affirmations I remember to move my focus to Cruise Control and I watch for signs that it’s happening. A couple of the sticky notes say:

  • I am on Cruise Control. I let inner self drive and I enjoy the ride.
  • I watch thoughts go by and I listen for promptings from my inner self.

Then I designed a weekly checklist, with a column for each day, listing the affirmations I want to say and ponder every day. I also added a few more goals:

  • Meditate at least 15 minutes twice a day, 5 days a week.
  • Work on my new book for at least 6 hours a week.
  • Work on lining up speaking gigs at least 1 hour a week.
  • No TV before reading at least 30 minutes of inspirational material.

But how do I keep myself motivated to accomplish these goals? I decided I needed a reward if I did all of them for the week and a penalty if I didn’t. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you my reward/penalty because it involves ice cream and political-junky TV so let’s just say I’m very diligent about keeping up my checklist.

For the first two weeks I did have to endure the penalty because my twice-a-day meditations didn’t happen five days those weeks. So, I decided to go easier on myself and changed it to meditating at least four days a week. Funny thing is, since I changed it to four days, I’ve been meditating twice a day seven days a week. And since “entertainment politics” no longer amuses me, I drastically curtailed TV.  But promptings are coming to me now so I’m writing them down. Amazing how it all works!

If you’d like to put yourself on Cruise Control, try this method and feel the freedom. Send me an email and I’ll reply with a Word doc of my checklist so you don’t have to make one up from scratch. You can put your own goals and affirmations about surrendering to your inner self on the checklist and then… just cruise away.

Who are you?

Written on December 19, 2015 at 5:35 pm, by Ellen Wood

You are not your thoughts, but so often the mind chatter takes over to the point where you begin to believe you are your thoughts. In truth, you are a powerful, magnificent being – a spark of the infinite. By taking regular breaks from our own thoughts we can begin to open to inspiration from the divine.

Easier said than done, especially when life sends us challenges. I know. My last challenge was a doozy: someone I had been close to decades ago sent me a mean, hurtful letter. Although I decided not to respond, I could feel the vibration of anger seething through my body as my mind kept chewing on those words over and over.

I prayed: I can’t carry this any longer; take it from me – but it wasn’t working. That’s because, I soon realized, my prayer wasn’t truthful. While one part of me was saying I want to ‘let go and let God’, another part was saying: this really hurt and I want to keep playing this movie.

Why do things happen that we seem to have no control over? Things that anger us or make us fearful or cause us physical pain. Maybe it’s so we can realize that we can’t control life’s distressing situations – they just happen. To everyone. Or maybe it’s to discover that they are enormous gifts helping us surrender our personal agenda in favor of the greater truth. Or maybe it’s so we can understand that the only thing under our control is how we react to what happens. Perhaps it’s all of these.

I stayed close to home so my emotions wouldn’t spill onto anyone else. Weighed down by what seemed like anvils on my shoulders, I went for long walks on a deserted path near my house to be swaddled by nature. Soon I felt prompted to practice releasing toxic emotions: allowing my anger to spill out by focusing on the intense feelings, then dropping the story. Over and over – focusing on feelings, dropping the story – until I could actually feel the release of that negative charge and I became lighter. I said prayers of gratitude. Then little by little, I could detect the subtle sensation of loving energy activating my body – and a whisper of peace. That was when I realized that this is what the shift in consciousness is all about. It’s a coming home to our true self.

            Have you read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle? That book spoke to the core of me – it lifted me up and inspired me to pay attention to insights and intuition. In fact, there was one section that I found so profound and touched me so deeply, I wrote it on a card that I have on my desk: Be absolutely present and sense Alert Awareness in the background. Every time I see that card I rest my thoughts and listen. (The trick is to distinguish whether it’s the divine or ego responding.)

            We are all born with intuitive capability but as we identify with the mind, which breeds feelings of separation and individuality, we gradually override our intuitive sense. Observing our thoughts objectively, in a detached manner, helps us regain that gift. It just takes lots of practice and Grace.

Have a blessed holiday season.

I love you.

Ellen

Eat your way young

Written on November 23, 2015 at 11:27 am, by Ellen Wood

We all need nourishment in the form of food; we just don’t need as much of it as some of us eat. Especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukah/New Year’s season, we tend to stuff ourselves, stretching our stomachs so more food is required to be satisfied after the holidays are over. That’s one way to get old and unhealthy fast.

The one well-studied and proven technique you can use to turn back the clock is calorie restriction. That’s something that all the scientists and researchers who study anti-aging agree upon, based on the results of numerous studies.

I’m definitely not talking about starving yourself, or leaving the table still hungry – I am suggesting, though, to stop before you’re full. There’s a Japanese practice called ‘hara hachi bu,’ translated ‘belly 80 percent full.’ Since it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to communicate its ‘fullness’ to the brain, it’s best to stop when you feel 80% full. (You can take a guess as to what 80% feels like.)

Have you ever eaten until full, only to find yourself feeling over-stuffed twenty minutes later? This Confucian teaching is designed to keep the belly from being too full. It’s practiced by the Okinawans in Japan, who are documented as having incredible longevity. So next time you sit down to eat, play with the experience of what it feels like to be 80 percent full.

Another way to eat a sufficient but not excessive amount of food is to take your time and chew thoroughly. By slowing down and chewing thoroughly you get more of the nutrients than if you gobble your food, and your stomach has a chance to tell your brain that it’s had enough.

Of course, even though calorie restriction for greater longevity is widely accepted by scientists, the average person doesn’t seem motivated to cut down on calories. Changing your diet to a healthier one, however, can also help you grow younger. More scientific support for just how significant dietary changes can be in helping us grow younger comes from Cynthia Kenyon, PhD, geneticist and director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of California San Francisco.

Her lab research has shown that reducing carbohydrates influences two key genes in the body that govern longevity and youthfulness. Limited carbohydrate consumption proved in the lab to turn down the gene that controls insulin production, and when that gene was ‘off’ another gene was switched on – one that acts like an elixir of life.

She said this second gene, DAF 16 (which she dubbed Sweet Sixteen), brings many anti-aging benefits such as boosting compounds that make the skin and muscle-building proteins work properly, and stimulating the immune system. Reducing carbohydrates and increasing antioxidants also lessen the impact of free radicals. Those are the rascals that lead to inflammation, which is a key component in most common diseases associated with aging today.If you need scientific evidence to believe we can impact our health and aging now and that totally reversing aging is a possibility in the near future, this is one study to boost that claim. You’ll find many more research studies at www.maxlife.org, a website of Maximum Life Foundation. They have a free newsletter so you may want to sign up for it.

Reducing carbs and calories can be an important step to growing younger, but not if it takes the JOY out of the season. So on the day of the holiday, go ahead and feast – eat as much as you want. It’s the rest of the holiday season and afterwards that it’s a good idea to practice ‘hara hachi bu.’

Why negative experiences stick like Velcro® and what to do about it

Written on November 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm, by Ellen Wood

It all started in the days of our caveman ancestors. According to neuroscientists, the magnetic pull to the negative is a function of the most primitive parts of the human brain. People acutely aware of danger were more likely to stick around long enough to procreate and there’s where the reptilian brain comes in. It is responsible for both our self-preservation instincts and our aggression. Prior to modern times, self-preservation was the name of the game. Back then we needed a strong fear-response to be alert to real and immediate dangers, like the threat of being a lion’s lunch.

“Your brain evolved a negativity bias that makes it like Velcro® for negative experiences and Teflon® for positive ones,” says neuroscientist Rick Hanson. In his book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, Hanson states, “Much as your body is built from the foods you eat, your mind is built from the experiences you have. The flow of experience gradually sculpts your brain, thus shaping your mind.”

Notice the next time you have a wonderful experience. See how it slips away quickly, as though it landed on a Teflon® wall. On the other hand, note when you experience something not-so-wonderful, maybe even dreadful. Rather than slipping away from the mind, it’s more likely, due to the design of our brain, to stick like Velcro® for days, weeks, years, decades. Our brain logs the experience as a source of threat, and works to preserve the self by being hyper-aware of other events that could get us crippled or killed. But in our time, we’re not usually fighting for our lives, protecting ourselves from wild animals and warring tribes. We’re getting pulled over for speeding, or we’re insulted by something someone said, or we’re just plain stressed out from life’s roller coaster ride.

You can do something about it! By building up your reservoir of positive experiences you can change, upgrade, evolve the function of your brain and in so doing, change your life. According to Dr. Hanson, one way to maximize the effect of positive experiences is by making each one last. Savor the experience by keeping your attention on it for up to half a minute, without allowing your mind to jump to something else. This can be as simple as enjoying the food you’re eating or holding gratitude in mind after a wonderful conversation.

I’m well aware of the Velcro®/Teflon® effect on my own life and here’s an example. At my talks I give the attendees an evaluation form for comments – pats and pans – to refine my presentation. I’m very grateful that the reviews are outstanding but every once in awhile there’s one that’s not a rave review, like this one from Portland, Oregon: It was great, a bit slow at times.

Sure, you guessed it! That’s the one my mind clung to. “What did he mean? When was it slow? Did he really mean it was great or did he just put that in to soften the blow?”

Since observing my thoughts is a regular practice, I caught myself. “Hey, wait a minute! Of the last several hundred comments, you got ONE that’s negative. And only slightly negative,” I told myself. “Read the others and savor them.” And so I did. But I have to admit that that one came into my mind for a few seconds from time to time for several days, whereas the others did not.

Yep, our primitive brain is still operating. The good news is that most of us don’t need to operate in survival mode – we just need to remind ourselves to ‘accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.’

Please comment below with ways for handling negative experiences that work for you. You just might change someone’s life. Thanks!