bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: science

Meet your best friend and worst enemy.

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Say hello to cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands, two triangular-shaped organs that live just above your kidneys. At the risk of oversimplification, cortisol is the reason you are here today. If not for this quick-acting hormone, your primitive ancestors would have been gobbled up by bears and tigers thousands of years ago.

Cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” shuts down nonessential bodily functions and provides the body with everything it needs to fight, flee or freeze. Cortisol overrides your immune and reproductive systems (you’re not worried about healing a cut or making babies when you’re about to be someone’s lunch) and temporarily disables bone and muscle growth. It increases gastric acid production in the belly and stimulates sebum oil production in the skin. (Maybe if you taste really disgusting you’ll turn off that predator.) Cortisol raises blood sugar and insulin levels for a big burst of energy. It sends lactic acid to your muscles so you can pump those arms and legs, and it forces the oxygen you inhale into your lungs so you can run top speed. All of this and more happens in milliseconds, without any conscious effort from you. Pretty amazing, right?

 

Cortisol is designed to hang out in your body for short stints. If you walked around jacked up on cortisol all day long you’d look and feel absolutely INSANE. Can you imagine feeling stressed all the time? Feeling like you’re always running away from something or chasing something or hiding from something?

 

Hmmmm… Come to think of it, this is exactly how your life may look some days. Traffic, money, terrorists, deadlines, relationships, work, sordid pasts, kids, over-scheduling… all stimulate cortisol production. And those are just the obvious stress triggers. Your life may be filled with other complexities that people couldn’t even imagine! If this describes you, cortisol may overproduce in your body a dozen times a day or more. This is not good. Here are just a few reasons why:

 

1. When cortisol floods your hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for memory and emotional responses), it kills brain cells. Fortunately, the hippocampus protects itself with something called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF. Unfortunately, when cortisol secretes chronically, BDNF cannot keep up with demand and your brain cells bite it.

 

2. Cortisol thins the skin by depleting it of hyaluronic acid, a moisture retainer, stripping it of elasticity and suppleness. Additionally, it triggers inflammation resulting in damaged skin cells. The stress hormone also produces more sebum in your skin. Sebum is an oily substance that mixes with your dead skin cells and clogs up hair follicles. Clogged follicles leads to… you guessed it. Acne, pimples, cysts. Ugh.

 

3. Cortisol interrupts the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that relays messages in the brain, including messages about mood, sex drive and function, appetite, and memory among other things. Serotonin is called the “feel good” hormone, and an imbalance may severely influence your mood and drop you into depression.

 

4. One in ten people experience the discomfort of a peptic ulcer. While ulcers are believed to be caused by a bacteria, stress aggravates them. Remember that increase in gastric acid production provided by your friend coritsol? Yup. Not helping. Especially when it’s triggered multiple times daily.

 

These conditions are often self-induced or self-exacerbated. They’re created through habitual negative thought patterns, unreasonable expectations, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

 

You may think that tolerating stress is necessary for your survival: it makes you feel needed, important, alive. And if so, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans interpret stress the same way. The fact is, stress is toxic and has become America’s number one killer.

 

Here’s the good news. It’s not too late to reverse some of the chaos you’ve created in your body and mind. Those dead cells in your hippocampus? They’ll grow back. Those pimples and cysts? They’ll go away. That ulcer? It’ll heal. Depression? You can get through it. But not if you keep doing the same harmful things you’ve been doing. In order to create beneficial change, you need to change your stressful conditions or learn how to live above them. This begins with intentional, compassionate awareness of self and surroundings.

You may have heard of this thing called mindfulness? It can reduce your active cortisol production by 30%. Meditation researcher and expert Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” He also calls it “a radical act of sanity,” and never before have we needed such a radical act. This planet is suffering, threats of terror and destruction pierce daily life, and you don’t have time or resources to fix the problems created by the entire human race. Instead of taking on the burden of healing this collective disaster, you have permission to just work on healing yourself.

The Dalai Lama says, “World peace begins with inner peace.” He’s saying, Listen, y’all. You just do you. Fix your life. Deal with your drama. Everything else will fall into place around you. So say “no” to work. Say “yes” to play. Make time for silence. Spend time in nature. Hug someone. Care for an animal. Eat real food. Listen to your breath. Truly be with your children. Smile at strangers. Forgive your mother. Do nothing and be okay with it. Connect to yourself and others with full presence and compassionate awareness, and see how your world changes.

And when and if you feel compelled to engage a formal meditation practice, your friends at Chrysalis Meditation Center are here to support you. We are intimately familiar with your friend cortisol, because cortisol is our friend, too. In fact, we are so intimate with cortisol that we can see it before it arrives, and a lot of times we can even lower the gate before it floods in. Not because we are especially talented, but because we’re watching it closely. On purpose. Right now. Without judgment.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

http://www.insidethechrysalis.com

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Vanessa Gobes has been researching, reporting, and writing for 20 years: from spotlights on war heroes for her local newspaper, to the history of women’s golf fashion for 19th Hole Magazine, to mindful parenting for Mallika Chopra’s Intent.com. No topic has enthralled her more than mental and spiritual health. In response to this passion, she cofounded Chrysalis Meditation Center, Winchester, Massachusetts in September 2015.

a hard pill to swallow

I love writing about my spiritual awakening.  And I love reading about other people’s spiritual awakenings.  What tickles me most about it all, is how we all seem to feel as if we’ve just discovered uncharted new insight or invented a revolutionary technique that can help not only us, but anyone who is willing to try to think like us or act like us or serve the world like us.

We’re Utopians in that respect – so sure that if the pained people of the world could just drop their weapons, feel gratitude for their challenges, treat others with kindness, be mindful of the environment and eat healthier food, that a giant wave of tenderness would wash over the planet and soothe humanity’s woes.

I’ve had a revelation or two of my own following a particularly meditative and pensive week.   I’ve realized that, while world peace is the goal, it is simply impossible.  Earth is designed to be a place of learning.  And without suffering, there’s little opportunity to understand the incredible depth of love.

Though this tiny shift has been simmering quietly in my being for quite some time, I’ve been unable to accept it.  Unable to accept that man is robbing the earth of her heartbeat; unable to accept that our children are being taught to value competition over collaboration; unable to accept that national leaders are so angry and disturbed that they truly believe nuclear attacks will heal their pain; unable to accept that children are abused and people are starving and corporate greed rules the world and there’s very little a peace-yearning person like me, like you, can do about it.

I cannot change the world.  I can only change myself and, as Gandhi said, “be the change [I] wish to see in the world.”

This whole planet spins for us.  So we can learn.  The Universe lives only in our own hearts, and there we can find peace.  This tormented planet serves our human existence so we can learn and elevate and evolve.   It’s all so clear to me today.  I get it.

Heal thyself.

The Universe in Krishna’s mouth.

Work hard to gain your own salvation.

Instead of wishing that the world were different, I’m replacing that wish with a feeling with gratitude.  I’m thankful for the existence of this place of learning, grateful for the opportunity to serve my soul as a human experiment, joyed with moments – the highs and the lows – knowing that each experience is a valuable addition to my soul’s journey.  I see that the best thing I can do to create peace in my heart is to love unconditionally and serve others as much as I can.  I don’t have to fix the world, in fact I can’t.  I just have to fix myself.

Honestly, I’m a bit weepy typing out these thoughts.  I feel like I’m mourning a lifetime of misdirected thoughts, but I’m also relieved to come to grips with what I believe is truth, even though it’s a hard pill to swallow.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

Baudista1

what the frack????

Hi friends, I actually wrote this for my other blog, but this topic is so fracking scary, I wanted to promote the conversation here on BUBs, too.  There are tons of hyperlinks in this, here for you to learn more about this very important topic today.

I’ve heard tidbits here and there about hydraulic fracturing, fracking, but this morning Tom Ashbrook of NPR’s On Point hosted a program dedicated to the topic.  If you haven’t heard it, click here and listen.

Basically, fracking is using a high-pressure flow of sand and water to fracture shale stone far below the earth’s surface in order to extract oil.  Here’s a video.  Big oil companies like Chevron and Chesapeake are using this technique in attempt to find other ways of extracting the earth’s resources and staying in business.

At this point there are 6,000 wells dedicated to fracking, and this number is only increasing.  Oil companies are not only drilling in Texas and Alaska, they’re drilling wells in 18 states and on the hunt for more.  This is happening in everyone’s backyard.  Here’s a map I found on Earthjustice.  The skull and crossbones represent accidents, suspicious pollution levels and animal deaths that have occurred near the wells:

The fracking process requires lots and lots (and lots) of water.  2-3 million gallons per well.  The first question is, do we have enough water to operate these many thousands of wells and still have a clean supply for drinking, crop irrigation, etc?  No one can answer that question because it is completely dependent on climate and rainfall, which we New Englanders know all too well is anything but predictable.

100% of the water that is used in the process is poisoned – contaminated with biocides and carcinogens and bi-products.  A high percentage of that water (85%, I think) ends up buried in the earth, which these big oil companies consider “safe”.  The poisoned water fills crevices in the earth, previously occupied by natural oil deposits.  But it’s also filling up old manmade oil wells, many of which are super old and have been lost underground over the years, in which case they may potentially leak into ground water supply.  15% of the water shoots back up to the earth’s surface and is absolutely positively unusable.  In other words, big oil needs to get rid of it.

Wanna know how they’re dealing with it?  Well, in a few ways.  Some are trying to recycle the water.  Though there is no circumstance in which the water can be used to drink or irrigate after the fracking process, it can be used to do more fracking.  This is the best really crappy option out of several much crappier options.  At this point there is no state mandate on recycling fracked water b/c fracking was made legal before policy had a chance to regulate it.  In fact, the only reason it got through at the federal level was because in 2005 Dick Cheney and his crew of money hungry nature haters exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Believe it or not, in some states, this poisonous water is being pumped through sewage plants or sprayed on roads for dust control.  (((ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????)))

Water use and contamination isn’t the only problem.  Fracking requires the use of heavy diesel trucks.  One thousand truck trips per site to be exact, and that’s just to haul in the water.  Thousands more will be required to remove waste.  If there are 8-12 wells per drilling site…  well, you can do the math.  That’s a whole lotta trucking in your backyard.  Yep.  Don’t forget.  This is happening in your community.

Another problem is earthquakes.  This is a fact.  Lubricants are pumped into disposal wells, greasing up quake vaults and resulting in earthquakes.  There have been more earthquakes reported near fracking wells.  My concern here is this.  In that video that I shared above, produced by fracking supporters, you can see that steel tunnel coated with concrete boring into the earth.  If fracking causes earthquakes, do these people really think that steel tunnel is going to protect our drinking water during a big shake?  One crack in that concrete and our drinking supply is toast.  Plus, look at all the cracks oozing out of each fracture.  You think poisonous water can’t slip through there???

Looks like Dick Cheney is going to be very rich and very thirsty.  I’m going out to buy 10 palates of Poland Springs TODAY.

I just don’t understand why we’re taking this risk.  Why we continue to rape the earth when there are other energy opportunities available to us that need exploring.  As Tony Ingraffeasaid On Point today, “A corporate business plan is not a national energy strategy.”  Amen, brother.

We need laws.  We need regulation.  We need to use our voices to let our local and state politicians know that we DO NOT WANT FRACKING HERE IN OUR BACKYARDS!!!

THEY WORK FOR US.  NOT BIG OIL.  IF YOU REMEMBER THAT, THEY WILL.

Every state needs to work locally to stop this.  I’m in Massachusetts, and the news for us is good.  According to Atty. Peter Vickery, “Communities in Massachusetts have one important advantage over their counterparts in Pennsylvania and New York: Exploration is not under way yet, never mind extraction. That means towns like Amherst have time to design bylaw amendments that will both safeguard clean air and water and stand up in court.”

Do it, people!  Call your reps, your mayors, your state senators today!  Let them know you do not want hydraulic fracturing in your backyard or in MASSACHUSETTS!!!!!

Peace, love, gratitude…  AND ACTION!

v
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