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We are having a Full Moon in Aries on September 24th/25th, depending on where you’re located in the world. This marks the peak of the Lunar Cycle that began on September 9th with a New Moon in Virgo. The energies of a Full Moon gradually build up earlier in the Moon cycle and become more noticeable on the day of and days surrounding it. It is also a part of the backdrop of the other astrological energies over the following 2 weeks.

The Sun entered Libra a few days prior which is always at the Equinox as per the Tropical Zodiac. The Equinoxes and Solstices are powerful points of transition which are the beginning of the next quarter/season of the astronomical year. Considering that the Full Moon is so close to this Equinox, it amplifies the transitional energy of this period.

At every Full Moon we experience a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case it is the Sun in Libra opposing the Moon in Aries. As mentioned, Libra season just began and will last until October 23rd. Ruled by Venus, it is about relating/relationships, aesthetics/beauty, creativity, balance, diplomacy, equality, cooperation, and consideration. It can also be indecisive, superficial, vain, lack action, and can be overly co-dependant in many ways yet emotionally detached at the same time. As an Air sign, it is socially and intellectually oriented.

Aries, ruled by Mars, is about self-initiation, action, assertiveness, boldness, independence, self-interests, and taking the lead. It is also a ‘quick’ energy. Negatively, it can be hot-tempered, aggressive, restless, impatient, and lack consideration. As a Fire sign, it is energetic and instinctual. During this time we should see the energies of both of these opposing signs playing out either through us and/or around us.

Full Moon Conjunct Chiron, Square Saturn, and Opposing Mercury With The Sun

This Full Moon is really close to Chiron (also in Aries) while moving towards a square with Saturn in Capricorn and an opposition to Mercury (also in Libra). This period may highlight anything connected to our wounds, blockages, traumas, and/or it may also bring up our gifts in relation to those.

Chiron has a holistically healing quality, and perhaps this period can reflect taking action towards healing. It is also a ‘bridge’ energy, especially between the physical and the spiritual, but can also bridge other things as well. Chiron is also currently retrograde and is changing signs (to Pisces) less than 24 hours after this Full Moon. This reinforces how Chiron themes can be coming up strongly at this time, and perhaps it could be connected to our wounds and issues that have come up sometime in the last 7-8 years.

Saturn in a T-square with this Full Moon can bring up themes around limitations, challenges, responsibility, or discipline. These can be in connection with the Libra-Aries opposition as well as Chiron themes mentioned above. In some cases, we may need to get real and put effort towards fixing our blockages. Mercury in the equation could have to do with issues around the way we think or communicate.

The Sun is Aligned with The Super Galactic Center

The Sun is aligned with the ‘Super Galactic Center’ which is what our galaxy rotates around along with other galaxies. The SGC, along with the GC (our galaxy’s center) are points in the sky that have to do with higher consciousness, spiritual evolution, and tapping into new ideas and concepts that help to push humanity forward.

This SGC amplifies some of the Libras qualities around relationship and creativity, but has deeper meaning around them. It can also be connected to soul retrieval and healing, similarly to Chiron. These themes may also be connected to some of the other stuff mentioned throughout this article.

Aries Ruler Mars In Aspect With Full Moon While At The South Node, Returning From Being ‘Out Of Bounds’

The ruler of this Full Moon, Mars, is aligned with the South Node and a trine/sextile with the Sun and Moon. It is still in its post-retrograde period for the next two weeks as it begins to pick up speed. On the day of this Full Moon, Mars also returns from being ‘Out of Bounds’ which isn’t a common occurrence. This is when a planet orbits outside of a space of where it normally is from our Earth based perspective, outside of the ‘Ecliptic and Celestial Equator’. This began on July 7th during its retrograde.

When a planet is ‘out of bounds’, it is generally a time when a planet explores new territory beyond the normal constructs of how it usually expresses itself. It can be in unusual, unique, independent, unconventional, innovative, and even creative ways. Mars has to do with how we use our willpower, our actions/assertiveness, our motivations, our desires, sexuality, and how we deal with aggression and anger. With the ‘out of bounds’ ending now, it can be a time of integrating more of what we learned or experienced over the last 2.5 months.

This combined with the Mars retrograde indicates a re-orientation of how we apply Mars. Being near the South Node, it also brings themes in relation to the past (perhaps karmic) and could also be connected to Aquarian areas of friendships, ideals, and collective efforts. Perhaps a need to release something in terms of how we apply our Mars energy and/or in relation to Aquarian areas. The South Node connection also reinforces some of the Chiron and Super Galactic Center themes mentioned above.

Libra Ruler, Venus, Going Retrograde Soon

Venus is currently slowing down and will go retrograde on October 5th while in Scorpio. Since early September, we have been in a period in which shifts and new developments around Venus areas of love, relationships, sex, values, beauty, creativity, and even financially can start to play out. Or certain things that have been going since then may lead to changes and adjustments to these areas which will occur during and after the retrograde from October to December.

Prior to and during the retrograde, Venus interacts with Mars in a square. This could be about our recent Mars lessons and re-orientations having an effect on Venus related areas which will undergo its own recalibration process of its own.

Things To Consider During This Period

What are your self-interests at this time and how can you balance this with the consideration of others? What areas of your life require healing and what has been coming up to show you this? How can you apply better effort and discipline towards dealing with your blockages, limitations, and wounds? How can you take on more of a holistic approach? What aspects or relationships of your past do you need to address? What behaviors do you need to release from? What did you realize or explore in the last 2.5 months and how can you incorporate this to achieve greater harmony and fulfillment in your life.

These are just some examples of what may be coming up for you, however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following, when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on September 25th at 2:52am Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

Looking for insight on how this period is affecting you? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order.

 

Waking Times

Paul Davis joins Dylan on in conversation about awakening, activism, racism and the choice to be happy in this messed up world.

Paul is a 5th Degree black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu, teaching in Fayetteville, AK. He is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, political activist, student of hidden history, and a master organic gardener.

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Redesigning Reality #030 – Modern Spiritual Warrior w/ Paul Davis was last modified: September 24th, 2018 by WakingTimes

Since I wrote about Targeted Individuals a while back, I have heard from several people who themselves are being targeted, and their common message has been one of gratitude, for speaking about this phenomena without the scorn and skepticism that so many of them have had to put up with–this in addition to the pain and disorientation caused by the targeting itself.

The impact of being targeted is often associated with attempts made to alienate friends and family from the target in subtle but powerful ways, often leaving the victim not only with varying forms of physical and psychological torture, but also without trusted friends or family members to help them come to grips with and process these insidious attacks on them. In fact, those people who the victims once considered as friends and acquaintances can often be persuaded through false information, coercion and/or bribery, to distance themselves from the victim or even participate in the targeting tactics.

As members of the Awakening Community, it is incumbent upon us to come to understand the breadth of this phenomena, so that we can become a support mechanism for all these individuals affected, and join in to super-charge the vehicle of change for those Targeted Individuals who band together to challenge the powerful forces that are behind these covert actions.

An Essential Part Of Our Awakening

In his comprehensive article entitled ‘In the Post 9/11 Era, Understanding the Targeted Individual Phenomenon is No Longer Optional,’ Thomas Fontanez McFarlan delivers a broad overview of what he labels as ‘Security-Service-Stalking’ which includes several videos, and is certainly recommended in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding on the subject. The main thrust of this article–and it hearkens to many other phenomena that we try to bring to light here at Collective Evolution–is that we will not get to where we are going, to the creation of a new world founded on freedom, love, and unity, unless together we acknowledge, inform ourselves about and challenge Deep State tactics meant to control and enslave us like the organized targeting of individuals. As McFarlan states,

In the post September 11th era, the security-service-stalking situation represents a state-of-emergency that requires people from every walk of life — including those with integrity within our intelligence agencies and all security-service organizations — to see through the very fear that arises in the face of such a grotesque problem, and leverage that seeing, to let this fear give wings to your innate evolutionary impulse to evolve to your truest, deepest, most genuine self. The self within you that knows no fear.

The Targeted Individual phenomena thus is founded not only on the ignorance of the public at large, but also with the complicity of people in the know who ‘are forced to “stand-down” while these stalking crimes occur,’ out of fear or having been compromised themselves. Hence, the engagement of the Awakening Community can also serve to push those of integrity within law enforcement and surveillance agencies to take the brave step of ending their complicity, whether by commission or omission, and accept whatever consequences a new choice to act with integrity may bring upon them.

What Is A ‘Targeted Individual’?

A Targeted Individual is someone who has been chosen to be the target of a varied and growing list of social, physical, and psychological attack tools which include stalking, blacklisting, harassment, surveillance, just to name a few, as well as ‘Electronic Frequency Weapon Attacks’, of which there are several types outlined by McFarlan. These attacks are conducted, sometimes 24/7, for one or more purposes, including personal vendettas, attempts to impede an individual’s positive impact on society, or simply as experimentation to further an understanding of how to control and dominate a society at large. Hence this seemingly eclectic group of people that McFarlan observes as the main targets:

It is perpetrated against people who live their life with a high-level of integrity; people who have a progressive or libertarian political and cultural orientation; people who possess extraordinary atypical talents and potential that is seen by a security-services leader to be a threat to their fascist notions of how society should be run and shaped; people who are sexually attractive to a security-services leader; people who become the victims of medical, police, city or state government fraud — especially if they pursue litigation and activism; people who have an independent and genuine interest in philosophy and spirituality; people who are famous that represent and advance a cultural and/or social-political perspective that is at odds with a security-services leader’s fascist cultural and social-political orientation; people who run a business that is seen as a threat or desirable prey for intellectual property theft to a security-services leader; people who are perceived by a security-services leader as expendable for any number of arbitrary and fraudulent reasons; people who are vulnerable because of a handicap, isolation or poverty; or people who arbitrarily happen to rub-up against a security-services leader amid the course of their everyday life in a way that is perceived to be offensive by this leader.

One can surmise from this description that security-services leaders are the local eyes and arms of the Deep State within their particular regions of influence and responsibility. We can note that while there may be an overall mandate that dictates the types of people who will be targeted, there may be some level of arbitrariness in terms of the types of people that get attacked, based on some personal connection to the security-services leader in everyday life.

9/11 And The Increase In Surveillance Agency Spending

One of McFarlan’s main observations about Security-Service-Stalking is that after the September 11th attacks it has grown from a very serious problem that was perpetrated against hundreds of thousands of people around the world, into a wildly out-of-control and monstrous war — now carried out in an almost unimaginable high-tech extreme way against millions of people in the United States, and millions more around the world.’:

After the September 11th attacks, all intelligence agencies’ budgets and staff doubled or tripled within about a year, and have secretly merged at the highest levels, and become networked under one global organizational super-structure for most of their activities. Additionally, the passage of numerous laws that suspend citizens’ fundamental rights under the pretense of protecting citizens from terrorists, as well as, extraordinary advancements in technology, internet connectivity and applications have networked and empowered these entities in previously unimaginably powerful ways.

One could imagine that after 9/11, the Deep State garnered a vast surplus of money and human resources for their surveillance/intelligence agencies, and with this surplus they would have been able to dramatically increase their experimentation with unsuspecting individuals within society by empowering local leaders to carry out these attacks on whomever they chose. They literally must have gained the funds to pay a dozen people or more at various levels within an operation to target single individuals full-time. And these operations were not simply about surveillance or intimidation. As McFarlan notes, these coordinated attacks would often serve ‘to virtually imprison, incapacitate and ultimately drive the victim to insanity, suicide or murder.’

Likely many Targeted Individuals have been driven to suicide without even being aware that they were being attacked by someone. These attacks are often done completely covertly, in ways that many targets actually have doubts whether or not they are actually being targeted. This can be very disorienting, and it would be difficult for a victim to be truly sure if the incidents are real and intended, or figments of their imagination and paranoia. Fear of embarrassment and ridicule surely prevents many victims from even talking about it. And this is why an awareness and comprehension of these activities is widely needed.

What We Can Do

For Targeted Individuals, it may be instructive to look over the spiritual approach to self-protection that L. Grace Christian speaks about in my previous article ‘Meet A “Targeted Individual” – Woman Shares Her Experience With Directed Energy Weapons & More‘. Others have found that banding together for individual support or even collective litigation is a way to deal with it. Of course, there are currently very few champions of this cause either in government, law enforcement, the judiciary, or the mainstream press. All efforts need to align with removing the stigma associated with this phenomena and bringing credibility to it, whereby victims will be widely listened to, believed, and respected.

As for the rest of us, the main tool at the disposal of the Awakening Community is consciousness. We need to be the ones listening and paying attention. It is important for each of us to incorporate the testimony of the many credible self-identified Targeted Individuals (McFarlan lists many in his article) into our broader understanding of the kind of tyranny and enslavement we are up against, as well as spreading information and having discussions about this phenomena.

We can all use this phenomenon as a way to come together, and as another instigator to our collective awakening, which can eventually become powerful enough to dissolve all the veils of deception and put the fate of our lives and our civilization back in our hands.

Anna Hunt, Staff Writer
Waking Times

The ketogenic diet is definitely getting lots of attention from health trendsetters. But does the keto diet really stack up to the hype? Let’s take a look at some of the most recent research to help us discern fact and fiction.

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Ethan Weiss, M.D., and Raymond Swanson, M.D., researchers at University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), put the keto diet to the test. They set out to explore the claims that this high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet helps the body shed excess weight and benefits heart health. The researchers also researched the impact that “going keto” has on the brain. Finally, they considered the potential health risks.

What’s Happening When You Eat Keto

The ketogentic diet calls for a reduction of carbohydrates down to five percent or less of your caloric intake. This means no more sweets, grains, fruit, legumes or starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Instead, you replace the calories that you’d typically get from carbs with calories from fat.

This switch from carbs to fat is a drastic change for most people. Most Westerners get more than 50 percent of their calories from carbs!

The near-elimination of carbohydrates requires the body to seek out a different source of energy. Thus, to make up for the loss in carb-derived glucose, the body starts to produce ketones from fat. When a person stops eating carbs for a few days, the ketones become the body’s primary energy source. This is called the ketogenic state.

Researchers Dissect Keto Diet Claims

It’s become common knowledge that the ketogenic diet has been used to help patients with seizures. As such, for decades now doctors have recommended the diet as a treatment for certain types of epilepsy. Swanson and Weiss set out to see if the benefits really go beyond this.

Dr. Swanson specializes in neurology and has examined how the ketogenic diet affects the brain. Some of his research on mice with stroke injuries confirmed that the ketogenic state suppresses inflammation in the brain. (This is the reason why it works so well on seizures.) UCSF reports:

[Swanson] said, “I was overwhelmed by the effect.” Blocking glucose metabolism worked to suppress inflammatory genes, which in turn helped stroke healing.

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Dr. Weiss is an associate professor at the Cardiovascular Research Institute. He’s explored how the ketogentic diet impacts heart health and overall wellness. As well, Weiss has been exploring how using the keto diet can help control blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. He states:

It’s incredibly powerful. Cutting back on carbohydrates, there are so many metabolic benefits. The body processes the remaining carbohydrates more efficiently, and so it requires much less insulin.

Finally, another M.D. at the UCSF Center for Integrative Medicine, Frederick Hecht, has also indicated that the ketogenic state may benefit type 2 diabetes patients. In his controlled trails, Hecht was able to show that the human body improves its glucose control function when in a ketogenic state. This may lead to patients needing less medication to manage the disease.

Final Thoughts

Please keep in mind that the scientists at UCSF conducted all of their trials on mice. Aside from established human clinical trials on seizure patients, very little study has been done on the impact that the keto diet has on people.

Furthermore, the scientists were not able to prove any of the other claims about the effects of the ketogenic state. The common ones include euphoria, improved cognition and cancer treatment.

But of course, there are plenty of anecdotal stories: from weight-loss success among Hollywood stars, to reversal of Weiss’s pre-diabetic state, to using keto diet as a non-toxic approach to cancer. Consequently, even if you aren’t 100% committed, it is very likely that the ketogenic diet will have a substantial impact on your physique and overall health.

There are many free and very low cost resources to help you get started with a keto diet. If you want to try going keto, here’s an offer for a free copy of The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet cookbook.
There are also programs that will help motivate you to stay away from your cravings for carbs. Try a 28 day challenge here.

There’s just one last thing. When you’re ready to to try the keto diet, heed Weiss’s advice below:

If you have any medical condition, if you take any medicine at all – there are lots of things that change how medicines work in our bodies, and nutrition is definitely one of them. If you’re making a real change in your nutrition, you really should talk to your doctor.

 

Read more articles by Anna Hunt.

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About the Author

Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.

Source of all quotes and research findings: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/keto-diet-gains-popularity-scientists-explain-what-we-do-and-don-t-know

This article (Researchers Break Down Keto Diet Claims) is copyrighted by Awareness Junkie, 2018. You may not copy, reproduce or publish any content therein without written permission. Feel free to share this article on social networks and via email. If you have questions, please contact us here.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.

Researchers Break Down Keto Diet Claims was last modified: September 24th, 2018 by WakingTimes

Article was originally published on karamariaananda.com/ and is being re-published here by the author.

One of the greatest growing threats to women’s health today is the environmental and social devastation caused by fracking.
The landscape of the United States is changing irreversibly and rapidly. Over the past 20 years I have driven back and forth across this country from coast-to-coast 7 times and have seen first-hand the increasing devastation caused to our environment from the boom in gas and oil wells, and 95% of new wells are being fracked.

Hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, is on the rise in the United States in a shocking way. This is the process of injecting pressurized water, sand, and a dangerous cocktail of hundreds of industrial chemicals deep into mined gas or oil wells in the Earth to stimulate greater production.

Over 12 million people in the United States currently live under a half-mile from active gas and oil wells, facilities, and processing plants today, in the highest threat radius, including nearly 3 million children in schools and daycares.

Modern high-volume hydraulic fracturing was only developed 20 years ago, and in the past decade it’s increased at a rapid fire rate due to advanced fracking technology and horizontal fracking practices, that even run right under the homes and neighborhoods of communities around the country.

The long-term repercussions of fracking on our health are unknown and may take decades to truly reveal themselves, as diseases like cancer can take many years to develop, and the consequences of pregnant women being exposed to extreme toxins will be passed on to the future generations.

What A Waste

A single fracking operation can use more than 9 million gallons of freshwater, and there are over 1.3 million active drilled gas and oil wells in the US today.
Over 700 chemicals are used in the drilling and fracking process and most are undisclosed due to proprietary trade secrets, yet many of the detected chemicals are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and cause environmental pollution.

The wastewater from fracking is even more toxic and dangerous than the process itself, as it creates an enormous volume of radioactive toxic fluid that must be disposed of somewhere, and is not safe for humans, animals, or the environment.

The water is usually either trucked to treatment plants to filter it, or dumped back into the earth through deep well injection at high pressures which can lead to earthquakes and groundwater contamination, while a small amount is recycled into other fracking operations.

In addition, there can be contamination of the environment by the leaking of fracking fluids from the thousands of trucks used to transport the toxic liquid from the drilling sites to the treatment plants and disposal wells. In some cases, these trucks travel extensively between states, such as how much of Pennsylvania’s used fracking fluid is being trucked to Ohio, which has more deep injection wells. In other cases, such as in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, used drilling liquids are actually sprayed directly on public roads for de-icing.

There have been many recorded incidents of wastewater spills and explosions, as well as illegal dumping of wastewater and radioactive “filter socks”, which are used to separate solids from the post-fracking liquids.

The irreversible and immediate pollution of our water resources by fracking causes devastating environmental impacts, and effects all life and future generations, while the operations also cause significant air and noise pollution, as well as a myriad of health concerns.

We are facing a global water crisis today, and billions of gallons of water are being destroyed and removed from our water system by fracking. Yet, the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act, a federal law to protect public drinking water, does not apply to fracking operations, and fracking wastewater is exempt from federal hazardous waste regulations.

Water is the blood of the Earth that sustains all life, all plants, all people, and is recycled through our whole planet’s biosphere. Our health depends upon access to clean fresh water for drinking, food, and washing.

Hormonal Havoc

One of the biggest dangers to human health from the byproducts of fracking is reproductive and developmental toxicity, which disproportionally impacts women’s health in communities near gas and oil wells.
Due to the sensitivity of women’s reproductive organs to environmental triggers, exposure to industrial chemicals may lead to increased breast cancer, infertility, and fetal abnormalities, among other complex systemic health issues.

The toxic soup created by fracking is full of endocrine disruptors which mimic female sex hormones and disrupt hormones. This can result in not just reproductive and developmental problems, but also interfere with immune functioning and cause neurological disorders.

Fracked Up

Fracking negatively impacts women’s health on many levels from the destruction of our homes and environment, the polluting of our water, air, food, and land, to the wide-scale sex trafficking, assault, and prostitution happening in “man camps” in large oil production sites.
It’s noteworthy that the term “frack” has also become a slang word for having sex with or taking advantage of someone. This exemplifies the connection between the violent raping of the Earth’s natural resources and fossil fuels, to the abuse of women’s bodies, health, sexuality, and lives even in the name itself.

Intensive oil and gas drilling and fracking operations bring thousands of workers to the areas, who are mostly single young transitory men, and many registered sex offenders, which results in drastic increases in violence, murder, rape, prostitution, and sex trafficking in the local regions.

The male workers are housed in vast “man camps”, which are often huge areas of mobile houses, RV’s, and barracks set up by the energy corporations.

In North Dakota, over 100,000 men have flooded in recent years to set up home in the man camps of the Bakken Shale, resulting in skyrocketing violence and sexual assault, particularly targeting the indigenous women and youth from the region, many who have become victims of rape, assault, and sex trafficking.

Native women and children are being murdered and disappearing at devastating rates, due to the complacency of the oil companies, and the government is doing nothing about this.

Sex trafficking is crime upon humanity, that affects women, children, families and communities, and disproportionally effects the indigenous population. Due to the man camps proximity to reservations, and the reduced legal prosecutorial abilities of Native governments, cases are less likely to be tried, even if a sexual abuser is known and identified.

Studies have also shown increased rates of sexually transmitted infections in areas with fracking. Research at the Yale School of Public Health has shown that Ohio counties with large-scale fracking have 21% higher rates of gonorrhea and 19% higher rates of chlamydia than the same state’s counties without high shale gas activity.

Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

New research has been released showing that prenatal exposure to fracking chemicals caused abnormal mammary gland development and pre-cancerous lesions in the female offspring of mice (Endocrinology). The scientists tested various levels of chemical exposure on the mice, from the potency that would be found in drinking water in areas near fracking, to the level found in wastewater pools on sites, and every level resulted in breast abnormalities.

In Texas, there are highly elevated breast cancer rates in the counties that have active fracking sites, despite statewide reductions in the overall breast cancer rate. Yet this is considered inconclusive evidence to show direct causation, and the Texas Department of State Health Services insists there is no reason to be concerned.

Pregnancy Problems

Proximity to fracking operations has been associated with multiple challenges with fertility, menstruation, pregnancy, and infant health. Exposure to fracking chemicals, has been linked to decreased sperm count, miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

Studies in Pennsylvania have found a 25% increase in low-birth weight and decreased infant health with babies born to mothers living near active fracking sites. In response, a spokesperson for the Marcellus Shale Coalition insisted that “It’s dangerously misleading and inflammatory to suggest that natural gas development has done anything but improve public health.” (Science)

Tragically, the health problems from exposure to these chemicals during gestational periods aren’t always evident during pregnancy, birth or infancy, as seen with the mice in the breast cancer study, whose offspring didn’t develop breast lesions from prenatal exposure to fracking chemicals until puberty and maturation.

Pass On The Gas

It’s absolutely essential that the United States government and concerned citizens work together to stop this violent destruction of our environment and health due to fracking. Otherwise, we are set to experience an increasing boom of oil and gas fracking, that will destroy our land, homes, water, air, health, and future, and spread into new states.

Women are leading the way in environmental activism to address the concerns about fracking, yet are more likely to be dismissed, belittled, and threatened.

A study in the UK showed that 58% of men supported fracking, while only 31% of women did. In response, the chair of UK Onshore Shale and Gas made the claim that the reason more women were opposed to fracking than men were because they were more likely to be uneducated and lacked understanding of the science. This kind of belittling sexism is rampant from fracking proponents.

We must stop the spread of fracking in the US and invest into renewable forms of energy, divest money from big banks that support fossil fuels, and demand that the U.S. government protects our water, air, and communities now.

It is clear that fracking disproportionally affects the health and lives of women, and women’s health is a vital marker for the health and future of a nation. If we seek to grow a thriving country, we must prioritize the wellbeing of women and protect the children who are the future of this land.

This boom has been lauded by the energy companies and lobbyists as an answer to cheap and domestic energy production, reducing our dependency on foreign oil, as well as causing less air pollution than the coal industry. But is cheap energy today worth thousands of years of radioactive waste, the destruction of our precious water resources, and the compromising of the health of our people?

Sources

2017 Map of Oil & Gas Activity in the U.S. – Fractracker Alliance

Water Use Rises as Fracking Expands – Scientific American

Fracking Fact Sheet – Honor The Earth

Don’t Frack With Our Health – Breast Cancer Action

Are Breast Cancer Rates Elevated Near Texas Fracking Sites? – EcoWatch

Prenatal Exposure to Unconventional Oil and Gas Operation Chemical Mixtures Altered Mammary Gland Development in Adult Female Mice – Endocrinology

Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA. – Epidemiology

Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania – Science Advances

Fracking Women: A Feminist Critical Analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania – International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics

Extreme Extraction and Sexual Violence Against Indigenous Women in the Great Plains

Counties With Fracking Have Increased Rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections – Yale School of Public Health

State Policies on Use of Hydraulic Fracturing Waste as a Road Deicer – OLR Research Report

Fracking Chemicals Linked to Serious Reproductive, Health Risks – Center for Environmental Health

Women Linked to Fall in Support for UK Shale Gas Extraction – The Guardian

Fracking? Women “Don’t Understand the Science” – The Times

This article was originally published on http://karamariaananda.com/ and is being re-published here by the author.

Alabama Power said last week that the utility is seeking proposals to meet future energy and reliability needs, including proposals for potential renewable energy projects.
Alabama Power said last week that the utility is seeking proposals to meet future energy and reliability needs, including proposals for potential renewable energy projects.

It is not a big stretch to say that we know ‘intuitively’ that being near the ocean can lead to improvements in our health and well-being, because so many of us have had the actual experience when we have gone to the beach. Feelings of serenity, calm, happiness and balance seem to arise in us as naturally as the waves that crawl rhythmically onto the shore and immerse our toes with refreshment.

There is some science to support this. An English study analyzed data from 48 million people ‘which indicate that good health is more prevalent the closer one lives to the coast.’

Water Is Essential To Life

To say that water is essential to life, as we know it, is not an overstatement, it is a fact. That’s why NASA’s motto in the hunt for extraterrestrial life has been “follow the water.” And here at home, water is the conduit for many of the processes essential for complex biological life. For human beings, it makes up over half of what we are physically. Up to 60% of the adult body is water, with the brain and heart at 73%, and the lungs at about 83%.

It’s no wonder that we are drawn to water, even as being fully immersed in it would cause us to drown. We have the need to be close to water at times just to feel good, to see it, to touch it, to drink it, to have it splash upon our body. If I ever get blocked or feel my thoughts getting confused while writing, my healing salve is a warm shower. It inevitably returns me to calm clarity, where my ideas become more supple, integrated, and ultimately creative.

The Ocean

Being in the presence of the ocean, then, would seem to be the quintessential place of healing and rejuvenation. It’s why people have always flocked to the beach. Yes, many like to lie on the sand and take in the sun, but far fewer people would take the trouble to go to the desert to do that. There is a feeling that sun-worshipping usually goes hand in hand with a refreshing plunge in the water, if only a brief one.

And even if one is laying down with eyes closed, there is the rhythmic sound of the waves advancing and receding, that attunes us to the in-and-out cadence of our breathing, our source of life. This immense presence is there, and we can feel it even when we don’t look at it. There is a gravity, a pull from the center of this big body, and the feeling that we are resting with this gentle pull upon us is both relaxing and energizing.

By The Shore

Many, many go to the beach to simply walk for miles and miles along the shore, the meeting point of earth and water. This meeting point seems like home for many of us, as we experience our human lives as occurring in a meeting point between conscious and unconscious, between matter and spirit. The water inside of us is put into calm and balanced movement, and entrains itself to the rise and fall of water on the shore that we see and feel.

Just looking out at its immensity seems to give us comfort, a feeling that we are part of something much bigger, something that connects us all. It both reminds us that we ourselves are not as significant as our worries would have us believe, and yet confirms that we are much deeper and more vast than we appear.

Then of course there is the deep blueness of the ocean, which of all the colors in the spectrum is known to most evoke happiness and creativity. Ernest Hemmingway loved to look out at and be near the ocean to help foster his creativity and imagination. Marine Biologist Wallace J. Nichols also notes that looking out on the ocean,

“…the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re sitting in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second.”

If You Can’t Reach The Ocean

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of living Oceanside or even has the means to visit the ocean on a regular basis. Still, we can take many clues from what the ocean provides us and how it makes us feel to understand what we need in our lives to live in a balanced and happy way. Lakes, rivers, even ponds have something to offer us, and we may want to take more opportunities in our busy lives to sit quietly near them and gaze upon them, in a state of openness and curiosity about what the experience has to offer us.

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California’s ambitious push for clean energy will be a tough lift for utilities and potentially their bondholders.
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It is no secret that life can sometimes feel like a limited paved road laid out before us that we feel the need to stick to. Look at how we are brought up. Most of the time we come into the world and begin gaining our perceptions from those closest to us –our parents. As time goes on we find ourselves in school. Throughout that time we also begin watching what others do around us, what we see on TV and in movies.

What is happening is we are observing and creating an idea of how life should be; the best way to play the game. But what is ‘best?’

How many times have we heard “That’s not the best decision” or “That’s not the best decision for the whole family.” When you look at either statement you realize that “best” is subjective. What the “best” is to one person may not be the “best” to another. Even further, both of the perceptions of “best” are created from whatever belief systems each have created in their own lives. This is the key factor to realize.

We Get Trapped in Belief Systems

In either case, both scenarios have one thing in common, a belief system of what the “best” choice or decision is. When we create a belief system like this, we limit how we view things. We no longer feel what is “best,” but instead we analyze and define “best” based on a story; often a story from the past, based on entirely different times than the present moment.

Let’s take the example of a child coming out of high school today.  9 times out of 10, that child will be told, and may even believe, that the “best” decision they can make for their life is to continue their education at university or college. It does not matter that they do not know what they want to study, or that the education system will potentially cost them $100,000+, many will state that is best -and even have pride about it.

Next, they would be told to get a job so they can buy a house, as owning and buying a house is a smart decision. Should this child begin their life based on these belief systems, more often than not they will take this idea of what is “BEST” throughout the rest of their life. They will judge their decisions by this, express emotions based on this, develop self-esteem based on this and so forth. From then on, every decision they make will be based on this belief system handed down and taught to them.

Even getting specific, what to study in school, what type of job to get, what type of car to buy, how to spend and save money, what type of house to buy and so on. What is really happening with all of this? We are defining the ideal life or what’s “best” and then we limit our life to a small scope of how things should be.

The Deep Truth

Here is the absolute truth, ready? None of it has any real truth to it. It’s just all a belief system. Perception, ideas! But we often live by this and it becomes so real in our minds that we become stuck thinking this is the way to do it. Then when depression and anxiety follow, as we may believe we are stuck, we forget to look back on the belief system that is often caging us and our reality into a small tight space we often don’t deeply resonate with.

Look at our world. We often all chase the same thing, the same stuff because that is what we have been sold as the ideal life. Each area of the world has its own version of this. Who’s life are you really living? Whose dreams are you chasing and carrying out? We take on these beliefs and we begin to sacrifice ourselves, our health, and our soul desires so we can carry out someone else’s idea of “best” that we grabbed onto.

Back to the child from the example above. Now they have grown into a young man or woman and are in a job they don’t truly like. But it pays the bills and lives up to the idea of “best” that has been given to them. Most of the time, people around them will all reinforce that their decisions are the “best” because they have all been sold on the same belief system. “You have to make sacrifices, you have to work really hard to have a good life!” is what we are told. But who says what is “good?” Even when that grown up child is expressing their sadness or frustration for the reality they are in, we continue to reinforce it to protect the idea of ‘the best.’

We take this entirely expansive creative individual playing in an expansive playground called Earth and we confine them to this tiny little narrow path of what the “best” is. Instead of spending their life being able to make any choice they choose, they stay limited to what they have been sold as the “best” even if they don’t truly love it.

Even Deeper

Then you have the even deeper part, we then look upon and judge others when they make “the wrong decisions.” Look at how we view those who change their minds about what they want to play with all the time. What do we say about those people? “They need to make up their mind and get their life on track.” What track? There is a track? Says who? “They didn’t make a smart decision with their money or their house so they are going to pay for it later.” Who says some decisions are better than others? Is it not an experience either way?

You are the creator of your life and reality. You can choose to play and create whatever type of life you choose. And guess what? If you make a decision and start creating a particular life then you realize you want to create something new, you are free to do this!

No matter what story we tell ourselves like: “it’s too late, I can’t change this now, it’s too costly” etc. know that these are all egoic illusions. You are never limited to whatever life you have created even if you have been doing it for 30 years. Remember to ask yourself: the life you are chasing, the goals you have set, who’s goals are they really? Where did you first hear of them? Are they from your heart? Or are they what you have been sold?

Look inside yourself at what YOU TRULY want and how you wish to express yourself and create. Start there, and create from that space. You will see very quickly that you can create anything you choose.

Remember, there is no right or wrong path here. It’s about looking back on what we choose, where we are at and saying “Is this where I want to be? Am I feeling peace? Expressing my deepest self? Am I inspired about where I am at?” and if you aren’t, you create a new path and see how that feels. Follow how you FEEL, not what you seek as right or wrong. Our life reflects our state of consciousness.

The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.

But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?

In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.

It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.

Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.

So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.

The Videos

Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.

In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.

Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.

Apple quietly updated their privacy policy with a new controversial ploy stating they will now collect user and behavioural data from iPhone users and claims it will be used to prevent fraud.  But is this really what’s going on? Let’s have a look.

We live on a great planet, and there are a lot of incredible people here. Let’s not forget that. At the same time, there are some serious concerns that are rising and need to be brought to light regarding the people that basically control our planet, this powerful conglomerate that sit atop the financial pyramid control everything, including politics. This group is often called the Deep State or cabal.

This is something that can be seen given many examples, one basic example is the power that corporate America has on government and how decisions are really made. It’s not the people deciding what happens, and what happens is hardly even ever disclosed to the public, and if it is, it’s hardly done so in a truthful manner.

We’re living in an age of mass surveillance and data connection, one which the global elite claims is for our own protection in the “fight against terrorism,” a fight and a war that’s been based on lies and completely fabricated, as emphasized, shown and explained by many politicians, academicians and researchers around the world. It’s an important narrative to share, given the fact that it’s one mainstream media refuses to touch.

If the reasons for mass surveillance are not actually for our own safety, and truly for ‘national security’ reasons, then what is it for? Why are they doing it, and why are they doing it in such a secretive, sneaky, and powerful manner?

“At least 80% of fibre optic cables globally go via the US, this is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores. The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.” – William Binney, a former high ranking intelligence official with the National Security Agency (NSA). He is one of the highest placed intelligence officials to ever blow the whistle

Bribery is also used, multiple politicians have explained how ‘men in dark suits,’ perhaps representatives of the Deep State that runs corporate America, and imposes its will on a global scale. When a president is elected into office, if they are elected, and not “selected” as Rosevelt once said, then they are most likely confronted with every piece of dirt that the Deep State has on them.

There are many things to consider, but ultimately, the agenda of those who control global politics remains intact no matter who is president, and those that become president are usually just puppets and ‘partners’ with this powerful group of international people.

All of this is important to mention whenever it comes to any type of surveillance or data collection activity. At lower levels of the spectrum, it’s also being used for profit, and our data, online habits, phone conversations and more are collected and sold to various corporations. There are even corporations teaming up with pharmaceutical companies to sell data related to your DNA. You can read more about that here.

We all know about data collection and Facebook, and other social media platforms…

Apple’s New Policy

The latest news comes from Apple, who just added a new addition to their privacy policy, stating that users of their devices will now receive individual scores based on the number of phone calls they make and emails they send. As they state:

To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase. The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers.

All we get from these corporations are justifications for taking such action, and we buy into it. At the end of the day, we have a choice, and we can choose to support these products, or opt out for some better options.

The explanation seems too vague, how does knowing how many phone calls or emails one sends combat fraud? Is this just a complete lie for something else that’s really going on? The truth is, transparency in our world, especially our corporate world, has gone completely fell down the drain. Big corporations have become a political tool. Take a look at Facebook, which basically became a tool of the intelligence agencies, and agencies like DARPA used to collect massive amounts of data and spy on people.

Now, it’s being used as a tool to censor information and shut down a narrative that doesn’t agree with ‘them.

Facebook also convinced users and businesses to bring all of their people and practices over to Facebook to create a community, only to see that community ripped out from under them as Facebook essentially said “You can’t reach your community anymore, pay us to reach them.” Yet Facebook profited billions off the data of your people. Good old bait and switch.

The Takeaway

Are these corporations acting in a way that protects us? Or are we simply customers that represent billions in profit? Why do we continue to support corporations that these companies and what they do if we have other options? While we don’t yet know what this new data collection will be used for, can we not learn from the recent Facebook data scandals?

Clinical anxiety and depression (“A&D”) are often terrifying experiences, especially when we don’t know what’s happening to us and don’t have support. An overview and relatively comprehensive information guide to self-treatment and professional support can be invaluable and what I will try to share with you here. When I was caught in the vortex of A&D, I searched long and hard for insider information to help me. I couldn’t find very much and the therapists I initially saw didn’t help much either, until I found the right kind of therapists with experience in A&D.

This article shares some of what I learned on my successful journey through A&D out to the other side (which at one time I thought I’d never see). It contains much of what I wish I had known when I was in the midst of that storm. I also share some facts and commonly misunderstood aspects of these conditions. Part of the reason for much of the conflicting information out there is the many ideologies and limited understanding perpetuated by people who had mild events, who haven’t been through serious A&D themselves, and who have not been in close contact with others who have A&D.

I have been through extreme anxiety and depression myself, had A&D sufferers as patients, and lived intimately with sufferers while I was in treatment. With this said, I am a Chinese medicine physician, not a psychotherapist, and this article is not intended to substitute for professional psychotherapy or psychiatry help, which I think are crucial for anyone in severe A&D.

So, I speak both personally and objectively about these extremely challenging conditions. My hope is that you will be saved some of the grief I suffered and this writing will help wisely inform your choices.

The Stigma

The most common mental illness in America is anxiety; this is followed by depression, the latter which affects more people worldwide than any other mental illness. I call A&D “evil twins” because they were nothing short of hell to get through, more so than any experience I’ve ever had, including massive grief and nearly becoming paralyzed as a teenager.

The stigma—a societally perpetuated fear, attack, and mischaracterization—on mental illness has developed because of a lack of understanding, fear, and perpetuating false perceptions that serve no one, especially not the sufferers. When your brain goes out on you, as your knee or hip might, it’s devastating because you no longer can guide your life in the way you once did. Except our brains affect every aspect of our lives, not just gait and movement. When we lose our inner world to A&D, we simultaneously lose our outer world because nothing makes much sense anymore and it can become impossible to navigate the simplest tasks.

Most recover from mental illness, just as we do from other illnesses. In fact, between 70 and 90 percent of the individuals who are treated for their illness have a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life. So, getting proper and prompt treatment is crucial.

We have a long way to go in our understanding, acceptance, and treatment of these disorders, all of which will undoubtedly help the victims of these hellish diseases receive more compassionate care and financial assistance.

Mental illness is not usually some scary monster that makes us “crazy.” And no, mental illness is not well-correlated with mass shootings; this false meme only increases the stigma on mental illness; insightful and revelatory articles on the subject are here and here.

It’s also helpful not to describe mental illness sufferers with pejorative, vague terms like “crazy” that offer little meaningful information and are more judgmental than anything else. Mental illness is a disease process, like the flu or diabetes. The latter affect the lungs and pancreas, respectively, and mental illness affects primarily the brain, endocrine and nervous system, also parts of the body.

While we can learn from A&D, and important “messages” and psychological growth can be gleaned from them, this may not be the best perspective to take when afflicted. Sometimes we just have to get through them, as we would the flu, and get our physiology balanced again, encompassing both psychological and physiological treatment (mind and body). Most often, some combination of both cognitive and emotional learning, as well as good old-fashioned biomedical help, are in order.

Because of the stigma, we might resist identifying, admitting, and therefore seeking help for mental illness for fear of being marginalized, embarrassed, or ridiculed. But, as with most other disease processes, the sooner we get treatment the better for recovery. So, if you or a loved one is suffering from mental illness, try to cut through the misinformation and fears that sabotage healing and get help. Usually those who have suffered mental illness are able to understand and empathize with other sufferers, as can an experienced therapist.

Yin & Yang ‘Evil’ Twins

There are different types of anxiety, just as there are different types of depression.

In this article, I refer to anxiety primarily as severe anxiety that is more than everyday worry or anxiousness that comes and goes. Clinical anxiety is persistent anxiety that is considered an “anxiety disorder.” It usually doesn’t go away on its own, can get worse without proper treatment, and can be accompanied by anxiety or panic attacks.

I discuss depression primarily in the context of severe depression which is known as clinical depression, or major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression is more than low mood and normal sadness. It’s more than being bummed out that it’s raining or  that you missed a movie date, or feeling “off.” In fact, depression causes us to perceive extreme negativity in things that would normally cause us only mild discomfort. This is consistent with the well-known adage among sufferers that “depression lies.” Well, anxiety also causes us to believe the worst, and it also lies. Both evil twins distort our beliefs about most of reality that we otherwise wouldn’t when we are regulated (“normal” and manageable) in mind and body.

Depression and anxiety are neurological partners and often co-occur, just like Yin and Yang. Anxiety is Yang (outward, activating) and depression is Yin (inward, quiescent). True to the interdependence of Yin and Yang, depression gives rise to anxiety. And anxiety can give rise to depression, especially when it begins to exhaust our resources. Both usually affect normal sleep patterns and cause insomnia. In atypical depression, one may actually sleep longer than usual. In either case, these evil twins are a menace and in my own battle with them some years ago I could hardly determine which was worse.

Depression and anxiety also often affect relationships, ability to make even the simplest decisions, ability to work and carry out once ordinary daily tasks, and otherwise live a normal life. Suicidal ideation and suicidal plans are also common symptoms. A&D can become utterly crippling and can totally consume us, especially without proper treatment. Again, the sooner they are treated, usually leads to quicker and better recovery. A more complete list of symptoms for depression can be found here and for anxiety here.

Not Necessarily A Reason

If you are anxious or depressed, you might think there is a reason for this beyond genetics and physiological imbalance, and that this reason can be identified. Like many, you might think there is a psychodynamic reason for this, which refers to some aspect of your psyche beyond its mere physiology. Examples include past trauma, lifestyle circumstances, childhood issues, unconscious forces, or other inter-relational events that affects your state of mind. This is not always the case, and it can be impossible to determine what caused your downfall.

In most cases, focusing on what is going on rather than why it’s happening is more helpful for recovery. In other words, first just try to get better by any means and leave any inquiry into why for later. An exception to this is if your A or D has actually been precipitated by a cause, which I address just below. With this said, recovering from depression often takes action, not a lot of thinking, except to trust what others in the know encourage you to “reframe” (think about from a different perspective). As one good therapist said to me, “Jack you won’t be able to think your way out of this.” Boy, did I learn the truth of that as time went on.

Anxiety and depression, like other mental illnesses, often have a genetic component, meaning you inherit the predisposition (called a “diathesis”). If any, or several, family members suffer, you might carry the genetics, making you more likely to sustain either. Often, a stressful life event can trigger genetic predispositions and even epigenetically activate (alter genetic expression of) these syndromes. Many stressful factors and physiological changes acting together and compounding one another can precipitate A&D episodes.

Once we are more regulated (balanced and homeostatic), we will likely have a clearer perspective on our condition. We may then understand more of the why. With this said, sometimes the primary reason we fall into anxiety or depression is due to an identifiable cause, and learning about and working through the issue(s) can help us recover. It’s best to talk to a good therapist with A&D experience to determine the best course of treatment.

If we are very anxious or depressed, it’s only logical to think that something is making us anxious or depressed. In other words, if I am depressed I might think that I must be depressed about something. After all, our emotions are signals of something, right? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no, and often some of both. Feeling of anxiety or depression often have no meaning and value other than to make us suffer, so it’s helpful during either to not take our feelings or thoughts too much to heart.

Clinical depression and anxiety are disorders, and there is not necessarily a psychodynamic cause behind them. In fact, depression is thought to be some 50% attributable to genetics, according to studies at Stanford. This means that in many cases it’s truly not your fault (not that it is anyway), and depression is not easy to control or navigate on our own, any more than we would be able to heal from cancer or a heart attack on our own.

We need help, and in a fiercely independent culture where we think we are supposed to be able to manage everything on our own, we might try to go it on our own, which can compound our distress. It’s especially important to have support through mental illness, not only from professionals but from supportive family and friends. This necessity poses a bit of a catch-22 because depression and some forms of anxiety cause us to want to retreat and isolate ourselves. While this can feel good in the short-term it’s often not advisable, which is why in A&D we often have to act counter-intuitively…to go against what feels good in the moment in service of what is going to help us heal little by little for the long run.

Feeling understood, accepted, and genuinely supported are crucial for healing from A&D. It’s just as important that we treat ourselves with ultimate kindness, that we become our own best friend.

Recovery

Very often, and more commonly among some popular online psychology gurus, unconditional acceptance is offered as a way out of any troubling psychological dynamic. Some even promote shadow work as the proper psychological medicine for such ails. While I consider shadow work crucial for becoming a human being of integrity, it’s not necessarily the best way through clinical anxiety and depression, or at least not initially.

Some degree of unconditional acceptance is helpful in any therapeutic process, but it must also be carefully integrated with tough love when it comes to healing from mental illness. This is because healing from mental illness often requires what’s called opposite action: that we do the opposite of what seems intuitively right, that we do what we don’t feel like doing. Opposite action is usually what is counter-intuitive. Opposite action is doing what we don’t feel like doing, or don’t think will help, but which indeed is helpful. For example, unconditionally accepting that a depressed person doesn’t feel like exercising, and therefore won’t, may not help him get better. This is because exercise is considered important medicine for recovery from anxiety and depression and it’s usually best to get some, any, exercise even though a depressed person—and less frequently, an anxious one—doesn’t feel like it.

Weaving compassion and tough love together, we might respond this way, in a compassionate yet clear tone, to someone who is depressed: “I hear you don’t want to exercise and you feel that you can’t do it, but it’s important that you try to move around, even for a few minutes.” We can also speak to ourselves (self-talk) this way if we have depression. If anxiety is predominant, we might legitimately need to rest (possibly in addition to exercise), because anxiety taxes our resources and tires us out. So does depression. Please remember to speak gently and kindly, even when firm, to anyone with A&D; you just can’t imagine how horrendous it is if you haven’t suffered it yourself.

Curiously, and contrary to popular belief, stress hormones are usually raging inside someone who can’t seem to get off the couch. Because depression causes real biological fatigue, a person with severe depression may truly not be able to exercise at all. In this case, pure unconditional understanding is helpful.  Maybe the next day, encouragement to walk even a few steps is a good idea, and the next hour or day, a few more. When I was in recovery, I began with 3 minutes of walking, which I increased from there. Prior to falling ill, I was exercising every day and could hike for hours. When I feel into depression, 3 minutes seemed like a marathon. Often, a depressed person needs to override real or perceived inertia in order to feel better in the long run, while not overdoing it. Slow and steady usually wins this race.

While anxiety or depression might cause us to feel like we’re going to die, it’s not a good idea to freak out about this feeling, which is to become “anxious about being anxious.” Feeling as if you’re going to die is how the brain automatically interprets intense fear. Again, these diseases “lie,” making us believe a reality that is not real except in our temporary perception of it. And this is key: the perceptions and imaginations we have while ill are temporary, just like it can feel like we will never get better, or that we will be forever bedridden, if we have the flu. We can and do get better. Life can turn around on a dime, and we need others to hold this hope and reasonable reality for us if we are unable to, which is often the case because it’s very, very difficult to believe this when in the midst of severe anxiety or depression.

While empathy can be generated, only those who have been through the gauntlet of A&D truly know what it’s like. If you have not experienced them, trust me, it’s virtually impossible to fathom, and it’s worse than you can imagine. Prior to my bout, I worked in a medical clinic treating people with these disorders. While I sensed their distress, as I do with anyone suffering, in hindsight I see that I could never have truly understood their experience. After having passed through them, I am back at work in the clinic and my empathy and compassion are much deeper, and I can relate on all levels to the utter confusion and terror of these states. While I can never know precisely what another is feeling, suffering from the same disorder gives a new order of relatability.

When clinically depressed and anxious, I responded best to those who spoke slowly and gently and who actually heard what I was saying and were able to understand me. Even if you don’t understand what it’s like to have clinical anxiety or depression, you can still empathize to a degree by remembering times you have suffered greatly. Indeed, part of why I have written this article is to give an outside’s perspective if a loved one of yours is suffering.

Disclaimer: while I have written about the dangers of the happiness and positivity craze and not ignoring our difficult thoughts and feelings, this approach is usually not helpful during the distorted experience of A&D , anymore than it’s helpful to give too much weight and attention to our difficult thoughts and intense feelings when we are upset or melancholy due to a bad night’s sleep, an argument, feeling excessively stressed, being hungry and having low blood sugar, or being sick with the flu, as examples. Hint: Getting poor sleep, common during A&D, can make depression feel worse. So, when I didn’t sleep well, I would remind myself throughout the day, “Don’t take anything you think or feel today too seriously.” I was already not taking things too seriously, and when I wouldn’t sleep well, this was especially the case.

A&D are distorted states and a Catch-22: it’s virtually impossible to think clearly about anything in these states because the very brain we think with is imbalanced, and this imbalance affects the quality of our thinking. But it’s not black and white: there are usually some thoughts and moments of intuition or revelation that you can recognize as more sane than others, that more resemble “the old you.” Attach to these, trust these, even if they are short-lived; use them as anchors.

It’s crucial to leverage any positive experience, any foothold we have, to regain regulation and better functioning, so we spiral upward and not downward. This leverage might be the hope someone else holds for us, the part of our thinking that does realize we are distorted and can let go of these distortions more easily, the ability to exercise, to laugh, to quiet our mind, to do anything rewarding and fulfilling, a medication or supplement that helps us feel and/or think better. Whatever. We use any leverage we can to gain more of ourselves back. During A&D, we try to invest our attention in the things that help us recover in the same way we would invest money wisely in order to grow our profits. Sometimes we don’t have any leverage, which is just one more reason it’s valuable to have others who can hold us (up) and remind us when we can’t.

Meditation & Mindfulness

I have been a meditator for years. However, I found that sitting meditation with eyes closed (mindfulness style) was not helpful for me during A&D. My mind was so disturbed and distorted that I couldn’t help but get stuck ruminating on my negative automatic thoughts and perceptions. Such rumination made me feel worse and is actually contraindicated in depression and anxiety. What I needed was a break from these thoughts, and sorry, but while suffering anxiety and depression I did not have the regulation and mental resiliency to just “let the bad thoughts go.”

Indeed, the vaunted capacity and quality for “awareness” is not constant and immutable; it varies with physiological and neurochemical changes. I was not in a place to be any closer to my negative thinking and feeling; I needed a break from them, as far away as I could get from them actually, so that my psyche could begin to find its balance again by way of the “mind healing the mind,” as I discuss below. For me this meant letting my mind get a break from itself.

So, silent, eyes-closed, sitting meditation just wasn’t my medicine. But it might be yours, especially if you are suffering from mild depression, also known as “subthreshold depression,” and anxiety. Therefore, disregard what I say if it doesn’t fit for you for whatever reason. I just want those who suffer from meditating during A&D to know they are not alone and to feel empowered to ditch it if they want to and not suffer more than they have to.

In researching this topic I came across a bold and helpful article by Therese Borchard, echoing my sentiments about mindfulness meditation. She quotes the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the “Dalai Lama” of the mindfulness meditation world, who says in his book:

“It may be wise to not undertake the entire program while in the midst of an episode of clinical depression. Current evidence suggests that it may be prudent to wait until you have gotten the necessary help in climbing out of the depths and are able to approach this new work of working with your thoughts and feelings, with your mind and spirit unburdened by the crushing weight of acute depression.”

In response to this statement, and how her depression wasn’t really helped by mindfulness meditation, she reflects:

In hindsight, I wish there was more than one paragraph in Zinn’s book about when mindfulness isn’t the solution, about when it’s better to swim laps or ride your bike into town or call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. I still would have taken the course — and I do feel like I benefited immensely from it — but I would have been more forgiving of myself that it didn’t “work” like everyone else’s magic.

And in response to her meditation teacher finally agreeing with her, she goes on to say:

He confirmed what I was thinking during that moment and what has been my experience: mindfulness is better at keeping a person from getting depressed than from pulling a person out of depression.”

Indeed, this is the result of a study that found this to be true: that MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy), which “revolves around mindfulness meditation,” can help to prevent a depressive relapse. And anxiety too.

We now know that via neuroplasticity (re-wiring the brain) we can use our minds to heal our minds; this happens because the quality of our thoughts affects the biological functioning of our brains to, among other functions, produce a more balanced flow of neurochemicals. The trick in A&D, however, is to have enough good mind (mental leverage) to be mindful enough to affect our impoverished mind back into balance. This is one way that CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) therapy is crucially helpful in A&D. It’s this good thinking that helps us do the right things for ourselves (self care), such as distraction to give ourselves a break from the onslaught of negative thoughts and feelings that are both symptoms of A&D and causes for it worsening.

Thinking positive thoughts actually has a corresponding positive physiological effect. So does smiling, even if we don’t feel happy. In other words, merely by thinking positive thoughts (very tough during severe depression and/or anxiety) can make us feel and think better. Similarly, the mere act of smiling can make us feel happier by changing our neurophysiology.So, it’s generally a good idea to try to smile during depression, and to do so counter-inuitively and in opposite action to what we feel like doing—namely, not smiling.

Many meditation practitioners might tell you it’s fine to feel worse and this is part of the “meditation process.” When I was not ill (and presently), I agree, sitting with distressing thoughts and feelings is difficult yet still helpful. But not during A&D. I also remember feeling worse about myself because meditation would bring me intimately closer to my distorted thinking (including suicidal thoughts), which was tough to get away from even with eyes open and active. This was not okay, and when I finally gave up trying to meditate my way to health, I felt relieved and fared better.

What I did find helpful, however, was ordinary mindfulness: being mindful of my distorted negative and anxious thoughts. And, I didn’t need to sit with my eyes closed for this. As alluded to above, this is the basis of CBT therapy, which helped immensely. I found it easier to let go of distressing thoughts (“thought defusion“) and feelings (“emotional defusion“) while active. To do this, I practiced not spinning stories or buying into the apparent importance and truth of my thoughts and emotions, which are distorted during A&D. “Distraction,” which I mentioned also helped, is a DBT technique. As for Therese Borchard, walking with friends, exercising, writing, watching TV and listening to music, reading, playing games—anything that took me away from ruminating—was helpful. By giving my mind a break from itself, after some time my physiology and neurochemistry became more balanced and I could see my disturbing thoughts and feelings more accurately for what they were: distorted, unhelpful, and largely meaningless.

In sum, be as mindful as you can and let go of beating yourself up if you can’t or don’t want to sit and meditate—it’s okay. Ironically, this can help your mind heal your mind, which is supposed to be a benefit from mindfulness meditation.

Medicine

I am a holistic physician practicing Chinese medicine. I and many of my colleagues, even M.Ds, try to stay away from pharmaceuticals. When I was in the early days of A&D, I never imagined I would need to be on anti-depressants. I was mortified by the thought of it and resisted them for months, until it got so bad that I welcomed anything that would help. Lesson: just as Western medicine is helpful for many conditions that holistic therapy cannot tackle, such as surgery and life support, pharmaceuticals can be life-saving to those with A&D. And, yes, I tried just about every holistic treatment available. So did a wise and now level-headed elder friend of mine who said this to me during a recent discussion:

I tried all the alternative prescriptions for A&D recovery . . . like diet and herbs and acupuncture and supplements and exercise and massage etc., etc . . . and I tried them with enormous commitment and dedication, and yet I STILL had to end up taking antidepressants. Im sure the other stuff helped . . . but alone it was NOT enough to save my life . . . it was ‘Big Pharma’ and a couple of awesome Psychiatrists who saved my life.

In the end, I don’t know if the medication helped me, and I don’t regret taking the pills. Just like Western medicine generally, pharmaceutical companies gets a bad rap, and often for good reason. We therefore might conclude that all their medications are unnecessary and useless. This is not only unfair, but unwise. While many more people are on antidepressants than should be, for many sufferers these drugs offer relief from an illness as debilitating as any around. You can listen to what world-renowned professor and depression survivor Robert Sapolosky has to say about depression. Adding insult to injury, many who take antidepressants are further shamed or stigmatized in addition to the stigmatization they already endure. Alternative medicine’s propaganda and stigmatizing of pharma medications likely causes more damage and additional suffering than necessary.

With this said, I tried every means possible to relieve my symptoms by natural means and none worked well enough, not even close. I felt like a failure for this, which added (unnecessarily) to my distress. Finally—and too late in the game—I had to go to the big guns. So, by all means, give the natural remedies a try. In the case of severe A&D, this decision should be made with the aid of your health care professional/s. But if nothing works well enough, don’t be afraid to consult with a psychiatrist for meds. Antidepressant and other medications, even with their potential side-effects, can provide much-needed relief. Yes, it can get so bad that any relief is desired as soon as possible.

With this said, anti-depressant medications don’t always work the first time around. In fact, for moderate to severe depression, they are effective about 50% of the time. A period of trial and error is often needed to find medication that works best for any individual, and they usually take between 4 and 8 weeks to take effect. I encourage you to partner closely with your doctor and mental health professionals. You are the expert on your symptoms and you doctor needs to hear what you’re experiencing. This will help you work together to find the right medication, or combination of medications.

For some, and by no means all, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety meds) and antidepressants help resolve anxiety and depression, respectively. Remember, there isn’t always a psychodynamic reason why we get anxious or depressed. Medication can also be helpful to help us get a foothold and begin to dig ourselves out of the trenches. They can help regulate us so that our prefrontal cortex (the rational, self-reflective part of the brain that shuts down in depression) comes “back on line” enough that we can absorb, remember, and comprehend crucial information and gain necessary perspective on our illness to be able to navigate it in ways that support our recovery. In these cases, medication does not mask mental illness or act as a harmful crutch, but helps us recover from it. Once we make strides and are able to exercise and function more normally, we may not need the medication. The choice to come off or get on medication, however, should be made with the help of a doctor.

Even if a person’s depression or anxiety is due to psychodynamic issues, medication can help to regulate the mind so that any identifiable issues that precipitated the illness can be productively worked through. Again, in acute A&D it’s difficult, to say the least, to perceive anything clearly enough to make strides. But again, it can be helpful to do so, especially with the help of a good therapist. Indeed, medication in combination with psychotherapy has been shown to be more helpful than medication alone for recovery from major depression (which often presents with its evil twin sister, anxiety).

Again, antidepressants are not for everyone, and the research literature clearly states this. But for some, they are an invaluable component to recovery. Since suicidality is a symptom of depression, medication literally saves lives. With this said, and ironically, antidepressants have been shown to increase suicidal ideation and behaviors in a “small number of children and teens,” so specific precaution and monitoring is needed for this age group. These are specifics to discuss with a qualified health professional.And, if you’ve been severely clinically anxious or depressed, you likely know the desperation to do anything to get out from the dark shroud of severe depression and the relentless inferno of anxiety. From my own experience, witnessing others go through the gauntlet, as well as from researching the subject, I endorse whatever helps someone get through without creating a bigger problem.

Psychoterapy

Two of the most helpful therapies for depression and anxiety are CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy). Here’s the classic DBT handbook authored by its developer, though my experience is that the book is not a substitute for working with a therapist, even a DBT-trained therapist. Part of this reason, is that in severe A&D, it can be tough to read a single line, much less a chapter or a book, make any sense of them, identify the proper advice for you and then, after all that, put the suggestions into action.

As mentioned previously, acting counter-intuitively, or what is called “opposite action” in DBT terms, can make a big difference. This includes not listening to our warped feelings and cognitive distortions (faulty perceptions and bad ideas). This is also why “intuition” and “trusting our feelings” as guides for how to act during A&D can be counter-productive and outright disastrous. An ordinary example we can all relate to is not wanting to get outside or get out of bed to take a shower or go for a walk. But once we do we feel better. Same for depression, unless we truly can’t get up for physiological reasons not due to an apparent lack of motivation.

As mentioned, psychological depth work is not usually appropriate in severe depression unless a significant cause of the disorder is due to these psychodynamic causes and one is regulated (functional) enough to undergo the process of hashing through past hurts and the emotional upheaval this causes. In severe A&D, depth work is usually not a recipe for success because bringing up more dysregulation and intense emotion when balance and stability are needed can sabotage recovery. Again, it’s difficult to see any issue accurately during A&D. Getting counsel from a good therapist with experience treating these conditions is invaluable and usually best to help assess what is appropriate to guide treatment.

Lastly, I want to mention that when medication and talk therapy don’t help enough, other treatments for depression you can consider include: ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and rTMS (repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). Even psilocybin mushrooms seem to have helped some, but opinions vary and the evidence is yet scant.

Other Factors

Biochemistry shifts with age, stress, diet, hormonal changes, environmental factors, genetic/epigenetic expression, and anomalous brain wiring. All these can cause significant mood changes. So, if you are anxious or depressed, it might not be due to something you are doing or have control over—that you can put your finger on and fix. It might be largely genetic and triggered by a stressful life event. OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), for example, is an anxiety disorder that causes anxiety for no logical reason (other than anxiety!). OCD and other anxiety disorders amplify usually mild issues or events and make them seem multiple times worse than for a person with more common responses to everyday anxiety.

OCD, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and depression cause us to think that events themselves are causing our distress and they are responsible for our feelings and perceptions. It’s actually more our highly distorted response to events that causes our suffering. Anxiety and depression latch onto whatever we might think about. Our mind is “latches onto” and spins tornadoes from what would otherwise be mildly distressing events. This is why therapy in general, and specifically being able to witness and be aware of our reactions (a key tenet of CBT), is so helpful to recovery; it allows a more regulated and balanced version of us to guide our responses to disturbing thoughts and feelings, rather than being so caught up in our negatively-generated and alarming thoughts and feelings that they take over and own us.

Psychodynamic triggers can indeed trigger unpleasant emotional states but are not the cause of all, or even most, of anxiety, depression, and other mood changes. With this said, sometimes our anxiety and low moods are signals for real-life issues, past or present trauma, lifestyle, coping, and other unhelpful dynamics that need to be addressed. Often, it’s some combination of both real-life events and underlying anxious or dysthymic (low mood) tendencies to which we are genetically predisposed and/or triggered into that cause anxiety and depression.

In cases of mild and even moderate A&D that have their source in life issues, sorting out the impacts of such dynamics with a trained and sympathetic therapist and/or psychiatrist is a good way to learn more. When psychodynamic issues are at the root of depression or anxiety and go unaddressed, chances are that suffering will continue, even if temporarily masked by medication. Again, skillful timing and personalized treatment are key here. If the cause is more biological in nature, medication is a modern miracle that can help recovery.

Anxiety and depression are illnesses like any other biological illness, it’s just that they occur primarily in the brain. We are more familiar with less stigmatized diseases such as diabetes, migraines, or Alzheimer’s and cancer. These are diseases that largely happen to people, just like mental illness. But with mental illness, somehow we have the idea, in whole or in part, that someone with depression or anxiety can just snap out of it and that they have control over their condition. We wouldn’t say this to someone with diabetes or cancer; neither should we address an anxious or depressed person this way. An astute friend recently commented this in response to an on-line post I made about A&D:

“There is a mountain of stigma, judgement, opinionating and misinformation to be overcome by people who are trying to live with and manage their Anxiety and Depression (as though just being afflicted with these dreadful conditions it isn’t hard enough already.) No need to take on the shame or misinformed projections of people who ‘think they know’ what these illnesses are, and where they come from and what you should do to manage them. Beware of rejecting what modern medicine has to offer you, and double beware of people who think they know what is best for you. Take any lifeline that is offered to you, and relinquish your attachments to romantic notions of recovery entirely through excessive self examination and compulsive scab picking of deep emotional wounds (which can be extremely dangerous for people who are very unwell). The causes of your illness might be extremely complex, and your recovery is likely to require a multi-faceted and uniquely personal set of strategies, which may well include medication. Hugs to anyone out there wrestling with A&D.”

—Darielle Bydegrees

Time For Compassion

For all our similarities, we are complex biological organisms with many nuanced differences. Just like other animals have personality types, oddities, seeming imperfections, and unique gifts, so do we. Yet, we seem to think that just because we are conscious and self-reflective creatures that we should be able to fix our anomalies, or even that they are in our control, especially when it comes to the mind. This myth perpetuates suffering, violence, and abuse when we treat others with judgement, condemnation, and meanness according to this flawed perception. People with severe depression and anxiety can’t just snap out of it or get over it, at least not quickly, the way you or I (when well) would normally shift a low mood or worry. Clinical depression and anxiety are different animals and sometimes lifelong events.

If we are significantly anxious or depressed this does not necessarily mean that something is complexly wrong with us, or that we can fix our predicament by digging into our current or past issues or venting our emotions. It might mean we need medicine, just as we would for any other less stigmatized form of physiological illness towards which we are culturally less judgmental. Because mental illness happens in the brain, it effects our thoughts and emotions more than other biological illnesses. Usually it means that we need both medicine (pharma, herbal, and/or nutraceuticals) and the support of caring, informed, and understanding health professionals who aren’t pigeon-holed and attached to a one-size-fits-all approach.

Images and stories of “crazy” and “unpredictable” people with anxiety, or even depression, perpetuate our irrational fears and judgement of these debilitating conditions. Such people are usually not violent unto others. Those who carry unresolved pain and trauma are more likely candidates for this.

Most people with mental illness suffer in shame and silence and are some of the most vulnerable, tender, compassionate and empathic people I know. So, let’s break the mould together, lift the mythic curse of judging mental illness due to our usually innocent ignorance of these menacing and crippling invisible illnesses. We do this in part through opening our minds and humbly learning about them so that our beliefs about these conditions can match reality. This in turn informs how we help sufferers and those who love them.

Some resources for Depression & Anxiety:

Books:

The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb, CBT for healing through depression

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon, on depression

The Imp of the Mind: on OCD and intrusive, bad thoughts

Videos:

“The Refugees” by Andrew Solomon at The Moth

Depression, Too, Is a Thing with Feathers by Andrew Solomon
Depression Talk at Stanford by Robert Sapolsky
Sam Harris and Robert Sapolsky: from 48.00 minutes to the end

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, or substitute for professional help. It is based on the author’s personal and clinical experience, research, and direct observations. The author is not a psychotherapist.

Jack Adam Weber, L.Ac., MA, is Chinese medicine physician, having graduated valedictorian of his class in 2000. He has authored hundreds of articles, thousands of poems, and several books. Weber is an activist for embodied spirituality and writes extensively on the subjects of holistic medicine, emotional depth work, and mind-body integration, all the while challenging his readers to think and act outside the box. Weber’s latest creation is the Nourish Practice, a deeply restorative, embodied meditation practice as well as an educational guide for healing the wounds of childhood. His work can be found at jackadamweber.com, on Facebook, or Twitter, where he can also be contacted for life-coaching and medical consultations.

Jonathan Davis, Uplift
Waking Times

In November 2014 the peak psychology body in the UK, the British Psychological Association, released their new flagship report Understanding Psychosis and SchizophreniaIt was a watershed moment in the mainstream treatment of mental illness, containing statements such as this:

Hearing voices or feeling paranoid are common experiences which can often be a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation. Calling them symptoms of mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia is only one way of thinking about them, with advantages and disadvantages. ~The British Psychological Association: Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

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With mental health problems reaching epidemic proportions in the UK and throughout the western world, this document reads as no less than an admission that the current model of mental health treatment has failed; and a cry for help to anyone with an approach that may be useful. There are indeed a great many cultures who have had, and still carry, a deeper understanding of mental illness. While these perspectives don’t fit within the boundaries of rationalist reductionism, this has little relevance to their efficacy.

From American Indian shamanism* to esoteric judaism, this concept has dominated for millennia. As it has now become clear, western civilisation is unique in history in it’s failure to recognise each human being as a subtle energy system in constant relationship to a vast sea of energies in the surrounding cosmos.
– Dr Edward Mann, Sociologist

What Is The Shamanic View Of Mental Health?

Broadly speaking any form of awareness around mental health that includes spiritual, mystic and/or mythic considerations could be included in a shamanic view of mental health. This ranges from ancient indigenous shamanic practices to yogic methods involving kundalini awakening, through to Jungian and transpersonal psychology (which draw heavily from ancient cultures). Jung, for example, characterised schizophrenia and psychosis as a natural healing process.

When conscious life is characterised by one-sidedness and false attitudes, primordial healing images are activated – one might say instinctively – and come to light in the dreams of individuals and the visions of artists… Schizophrenia is a condition in which the dream takes the place of reality. – Carl Jung

Another foundation stone of this perspective is the phrase made famous by Joseph Campbell: ‘The schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight’ (an idea borrowed from Jungian psychiatrist RD Laing).  There has been a long history throughout human culture of people having mystical experiences, and then becoming ‘weller than well’ as Dr John Weir Perry put it.  The key here is that in these instances the person completed a process that western medicine would have labelled as sickness and then medicated. They instead passed through it and went on to lead lives without relapse into ‘psychosis’, instead living a more fulfilled existence than if they had never gone though their temporary break with consensus reality. Throughout history there have been examples of people who have gone on to use their visionary insights, newly found drive and focus to create great social reform for the benefit of all.

Psychospiritual Crisis / Spiritual Emergence

Proponents of transpersonal psychotherapy, like one of its founders Prof. Stanislav Grof suggest that ‘spiritual emergence’ experiences are often misdiagnosed as psychosis and medicated unnecessarily. Grof sites 11 different types of spiritual emergencies, including the classic initiatory experience of the shaman, unitive experiences of oceanic oneness, kundalini awakening, the crisis of psychic opening, and the messianic experience common within what John Weir Perry called the ‘renewal process’.

Interpreted from this point of view, a schizophrenic breakdown is an inward and backward journey to recover something missed or lost, and to restore, thereby, a vital balance. So let the voyager go. He has tipped over and is sinking, perhaps drowning; yet, as in the old legend of Gilgamesh and his long, deep dive to the bottom of the cosmic sea to pluck the watercress of immortality, there is the one green value of his life down there. Don’t cut him off from it: help him through. – Joseph CampbellSchizophrenia: The Inward Journey

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John Weir Perry, who put these ideas into practice in a medication free facility called Diabasis, suggests these experiences are a dramatic re-ordering of the person’s psyche from a distorted state to an more ordered one.  To me this is like cleaning a messy house, sometimes it needs to get messier in order to sort everything out. Perry also said that ‘it is justifiable to regard the term “sickness” as pertaining not to the acute turmoil but to the prepsychotic personality…  the renewal process occuring in the acute episode may be considered nature’s way of setting things right.’ This is echoed by Jiddu Krishnamurti‘s statement that ‘it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.’

The Problems Of Pathology, Symptom Suppression, Stigma and Trauma

Pathology: A fundamental difference between the approach of calling these experiences mental illness, psychosis or schizophrenia and ‘other ways of thinking about them’, is the very act of pathologising them. The labelling of something as a sickness, when working in the realms of the psychospiritual can have a dramatically negative effect on what happens next. Like a person experiencing an overwhelming psychedelic experience, a person in this kind of state is highly influenced by their surroundings including what they are told, for good or for ill. A suggestion that the experience is a sickness can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Having been encouraged to see the voice, not as an experience, but as a symptom – my fear and resistance towards it intensified. Now essentially this represented taking an aggressive stance towards my own mind – a kind of psychic civil war, and in turn this caused the number of voices to increase and grow progressively hostile and menacing. – Eleanor Longden

Symptom Suppression: The next big challenge is symptom suppression. Critics of the current model of care (who now seem to include the British Psychological Association) argue that psychiatric medication merely suppresses symptoms.

Many people find that ‘antipsychotic’ medication helps to make the experiences less frequent, intense or distressing. However, there is no evidence that it corrects an underlying biological abnormality. Recent evidence also suggests that it carries significant risks, particularly if taken long term. – The British Psychological Association: Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

Those of the shamanic or transpersonal persuasion go further in suggesting that medication tends to ultimately prevent the person from completing a natural experience such as the ‘process of renewal’ John Weir Perry describes. Instead this process keeps trying to complete itself and symptoms keep reappearing, and then drugs suppress it again in an endless cycle.  It’s unsurprising that the phrase ‘you have a mental illness, and you will have it for the rest of your life’ is so often heard by people experiencing psychosis.

Stigma:

They [shamanic cultures] have a cultural context. The physiological crisis, although it’s difficult, it’s believed to be… they put it in a positive light.  It’s something the person’s going to come out of and be stronger in the end, and have more abilities in the end.  The other thing that’s a big advantage is – it’s not stigmatized. – Phil Borges, maker of upcoming film CrazyWise

Trauma: Thankfully, even in the western model there is a strong surge of recognition occurring around the fact that trauma and neglect in childhood (and in adulthood) can lead to serious mental health crisis.

We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave. They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave. – A Rwandan talking to writer, Andrew Solomon

The Bridge Between Two Worlds – Sickness or Acute Sensitivity?

Dr Joseph Polimeni states that ‘In most traditional societies those persons who were overcome by hallucinations in young adulthood were more often than not destined to become shamans’. If someone presented with symptoms we would call psychosis, the people of their tribe or village would send them for training with someone who had learned a level of mastery over the sensitivity that once overwhelmed them. Phil Borges states that ‘they have a mentor; they have somebody who has been through this process that can take and hold their hand and say listen, I know what this is all about and this is how you manage it’. In cultures around the world, before western civilisation the idea of schizophrenia as a disease was, quite simply, non-existent.  The assumption was that a person experiencing the challenges known in modern times as psychosis was in fact experiencing things that were actually real, but only able to perceived by those who were gifted.

They have a community that buys into what they’ve gone through, and not only that, they have an outlet for their talents – and many of these people have specific talents that the normal person doesn’t have. Phil Borges, maker of upcoming film CrazyWise

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To me it is clear that we live in a culture that immediately labels these moments of crisis as sickness, and our culture has almost no level of acceptance for the people that go through it.  When face to face with a person experiencing involuntary states of non-ordinary consciousness, most of us – to put it bluntly – just want them away from us.  It’s almost as if we fear that ‘crazy’ is contagious and we want it quarantined.  It’s unfortunate that this approach may be compounding the problem, however another way forward is re-awakening.  When I look at a person in such a crisis, I see a future potential mentor for others.  The more we can assist people in passing through their dark night of the soul, the more guides we will have with lived experience to help others come through in the future. In an upcoming article I’ll be writing about how shamanic training can assist people going through ‘spiritual emergency’.

For peer support and further information of this kind you can join The Shamanic View Of Mental Illness on Facebook.

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About the Author

Jonathan Davis is an Australian writer focusing on shamanism and alternate modes of healing.

This article (The Shamanic View of Mental Health) was originally posted at Uplift Connect, and is reposted here with permission.

Like Waking Times on FacebookFollow Waking Times on Twitter. The Shamanic View of Mental Health was last modified: September 22nd, 2018 by WakingTimes

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