How Fear Can Be Our Friend

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt
Stress has been getting a bad name.

Almost daily, we read about another research study demonstrating the destructive effects of stress on our bodies and minds. So, the common response is to try and eliminate any inkling of fear. 


Social Anxiety and On-line Communication: Pros and Cons

If you suffer from social anxiety, is chatting with people on-line or posting a status update on Facebook preferable to face-to-face interaction?
Two recent research studies indicate that it’s a mixed bag.

Social anxiety is characterized by fears of being judged by others in an unfavorable light. Such concerns can become debilitating and lead someone to shun most or all social interactions. A person can consequently become caught in a catch-22, in which they deny themselves the chance to receive positive feedback from others, often increasing their sense of inadequacy.


A Gut Feeling: Probiotics and Changes in Brain Activity

Give yogurt some more brownie points.
It’s been known for some time that one’s gastrointestinal tract functions in essence as one’s “second brain”, lined with hundreds of millions of neurons. In fact, the gut manufactures more dopamine and serotonin, important neurotransmitters that powerfully influence mood and motivation, than does the “head” brain.

The accepted view has been that due to the blood-brain barrier, hormones produced in one’s g-i tract can’t travel to the brain. Nevertheless, the gut can generate nerve signals that can communicate with the brain and thereby influence mood.


Lessons From The Happiest Man on Earth

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have dubbed the French-Tibetan monk and molecular geneticist Matthieu Ricard “the happiest man in the world”.

Over the past decade or so, at the prompting of the Dalai Lama and prominent neuroscientists in the field of neuroplasticity, Ricard has joined numerous other advanced meditation practitioners in research on the effect of mind-training and meditation on the brain. In addition, “novice” meditators have participated in studies requiring the relatively modest time commitment of 30 minutes meditation a day for three months.