Archives for September, 2010


Kabbalistic Meditation: Magic, Religion, or Healthy Boundaries?

Kabbalistic meditation deserves the same kind of examination we applied to other meditative disciplines (here and here). Perhaps even more so because there is so much confusion about what Kabbalah is.

As with Zen, yoga, TM, and so forth, it is valid to ask if Kabbalistic meditation has religious content. It doesn’t do to equivocate—authentic Kabbalah meditation is absolutely a type of Jewish religious practice.

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Transcendental Meditation and Kabbalah: The Great Meditation Debate Continues

In our first post on the Great Meditation Debate we briefly introduced yogic and Zen meditation styles and mentioned TM and Kabbalistic meditation as well. We'll get to Kabbalistic meditation shortly but want to continue with one of the most popular meditative techniques, TM.

In America, where passions run high when discussing religion (both pro and con passions), there is still debate about whether or not Zen, yoga, TM (Transcendental Meditation), and other types of meditation are religious. The vast majority of American practitioners and teachers of these meditation techniques say not.

However when we spoke with with a formerly Hindu acquaintance, Josthna from Kerala, India, she fervently disagreed. She told us that both yoga meditation and TM are unequivocally religious practices. This was news to us -- we didn't realize TM had any formal religious roots -- but according to a Wikipedia entry, indeed it does and has even been called a religion--and a cult--by the courts.

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Diet Pills and Weight Loss: Weekly Poll

A greatly anticipated diet pill has once again been shot down by the FDA. Arena Pharmaceuticals' magic bullet, lorcaserin, is simply too risky, say government officials.

Look, I am open to all kinds of medical treatments, especially for life-threatening health concerns such as clinical obesity. But when it comes to weight loss I personally believe education, retraining, active support, and values-based interventions are mentally and physically healthier "weighs to go" in the quest to lose weight. Perhaps for some, appetite suppressants are a necessary first step in getting a diet off the ground. But eventually, without addressing the inner issues, weight will pile back on.

Even though this isn't my area of expertise, as someone who has lost over 120 pounds by eating healthier and rethinking and renegotiating my relationship with food, I feel I'm entitled to an opinion!
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Zen, Yoga, TM, and Kabbalah: The Great Meditation Debate

Zen, Yoga, TM, and Kabbalah: Meditation Styles

Meditation for the masses has been around for nearly 50 years—and that’s pretty much a good thing. Even the American Psychological Association touts the benefits of meditation, which are widely accepted and include: relief from stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, feelings of well being, and much more.

Since meditation became acceptable in the West (beginning in a big way in the 1960s with the Beatles’ introduction of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, their soon-to-be dumped guru), the types of meditation available to even the most casual seeker have multiplied rapidly. A variety of meditative techniques are on offer in even small towns in the U.S. and other Western countries.

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Funny On Demand: Cartoonist Mark Hill

We continue our conversation with cartoonist and illustrator, Mark Hill. How did you get interested in cartoons? How many cartoons do you generally draw/write a month?

I fell into my passion for cartoons while in college. I was pre-med at the University of Illinois, and during my sophomore year, a drawing I had done for a friend caught the eye of the editor of the student newspaper. (It was the first cartoon I had ever drawn…I had always loved art, but had only drawn and painted in a realistic style). I started doing cartoons for the paper, and gradually became enthralled with it.

During my senior year, I was selling my cartoons to some larger papers in the Midwest, and upon graduating; I pursued cartooning as a career. At the time, my parents were not exactly thrilled. Fortunately it worked out.

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ADHD Medication News: Weekly Poll

In a recent Business Week article, a new ADHD study was brought to light. Researchers at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in NY says that by paying more attention to dosing and taking the time to get just the right dosage, ADHD medications such as Ritalin can "significantly reduce or eliminate aggressive behavior" in at least 50 percent of very aggressive kids.

A skilled psychiatrist will spend many weeks, months, or if necessary longer, adjusting dosages and medications to make sure that symptoms are managed--and suffering is lessened.

Lately, though, psychiatrists have been prescribing anti-psychotic medications to extremely aggressive kids with ADHD. While it is extremely challenging for parents and doctors (and the kids, too), we don't know the long-term effects, or even all the short-term effects of these strong medications used in this way.
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God in Therapy

Kabbalah’s Secrets of Creation and the Therapy Process

Everyone loves the story of their own birth—ask any five year old (they tend to be openly enthralled by their own, magical beginnings). Many of us, perhaps even or especially, those who profess not to care, are intrigued by the mysteries of humanity’s origins, too.

In the Bible*, creation features heavily — creation of the world, of humankind, and of a people. Naturally enough, creation is a hot topic in Kabbalah, which is basically a collection of mystical explanations of the Bible.

Judaism, (Christianity and Islam agree), says that God didn’t just create the world and then settle down to watch the show, but that He is continually and actively involved in the world He created.  In fact, God's  involvement, according to the Kabbalastic sages, has a stunning and profound component that actually has implications for the therapy process: Creation is ongoing, constant, and continual.
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The Cartoonist Is In: Therapy Soup Interviews Mark Hill

It seems that therapy is a frequent subject for cartoons—the most famous perhaps being Charles Schultz’s “The Shrink is In” cartoons which really hit home with so many mental health professionals and patients, even to this day.

Cartoonist and illustrator Mark Hill*, whose work has been published in over 100 magazines and newspapers including Time Magazine, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and others has created cartoons about our favorite Therapy Soup topic.

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Google Balls Vs. Bubble Wrap: Weekly Poll

A lighthearted look at stress relief seems in order as the September rush is now in full swing.

We are a divided household. Not so much on the big issues such as political party, religion, or life philosophy. No, we're divided on the really big issues: One of us is a "Bubble Wrap" popper and the other, well, let's say shrieking cats scratching their untrimmed claws on a blackboard in a construction work zone would be soothing compared to the effect those little plastic poppers have. (And we're not telling who's who). In fact, the household popper has to hide the bubble wrap in one of the closets (not telling which one), or make late-night visits to this nifty site where one can virtually pop to one's heart's content.

Meanwhile, we heard about the new Balls app. and "Bubble Wrap" sprang to mind. You can get lost for hours, pointing at the balls and watching them react. Or not. One of us finds them annoying and stressful, and the other thinks they're really cool. (The "Bubble  Wrap" popper loathes the balls and the plastipoppin' phobic, loves 'em. Go figure).

What about you?
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