How to help others (and yourself)

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It can be very annoying when people talk about doing something good for others, because sometimes we know that it`s good, but just not WHAT to do. So, what about making a list over small things one can do for others ? Feel free to supplement this list. More parts are coming later

1. This girl donates her hair for people with cancer.

In the next few weeks, I will cut off 8-12 inches of my hair and donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. This is an amazing cause where women grow strong, together. Check back for pictures by summer’s end. I originally donated my hair to honor CMD who was diagnosed with spinal cancer when I was in high school. This will be my third time donating to Pantene Beautiful Lengths and it is my way of changing someone’s life, for the better. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much hair I have or how I look without it. What matters is that someone is benefiting from the wig that my hair contributed to and feeling beautiful again (

write a donate organ card! Or donate blood

Stories about people saved by organ donation:

  • A little six-year-old boy regained his eyesight and an ex-fireman has a younger and healthy heart.
  • I have corresponded by mail and e-mail with the 37-year-old man who has one of James’ kidneys.  I hope someday we can meet each other, but right now we live too far away to do that.
  • Last year at the annual Giving and Living Celebration at the Southwest Transplant Alliance, we met a woman who was 47 and near death when she received James’ liver and other kidney.  She told me when she was in her coma for over two months, she felt like she was on a ship in the middle of an ocean alone.  She could hear people talking but they were far away.  How can I adequately describe the feeling when we met?  She was like meeting a long lost relative that I had never met before. It was wonderful and overwhelming.  She is a precious lady who has had to battle with a tremendous amount of physical problems and has a young child at home.

 Small Changes Which Can Make a Big Difference

small changes
Photo by Shermeee

 Set Your Alarm Half an Hour Earlier

The next tips by Ali Hale

There’s never enough time in the day – especially when you want to start something new. Maybe you’d love to write a novel, take up exercise, or have time to pray or meditate.

simply setting your alarm half an hour earlier? An extra 30 minutes in the morning, before you go out to work, could make all the difference. Write a plan about how you can do something good for someone that day. If 30 minutes is to rough, get up 15 min. before

One of the simplest tricks for drinking more water is to keep a bottle of it on your desk. It’s easy to take a swig regularly if you’ve got water in arm’s reach – and if you keep the cap on the bottle, there’s no chance of a spillage.

Hide the Television Remote (and Keep a Book by the Couch)

reading a book on the couch
Photo by Helga Weber

There’s nothing wrong with watching television. But for many of us, the TV becomes a default activity. It’s all too easy to come home, slump on the couch, and reach straight for the remote without even thinking. Increasing knowledge really can help you become more aware and conscious, which in return will make you more able to think for yourself

If that’s a habit you’re trying to break, put the remote somewhere else. Hide it in a cupboard or on a high shelf. That way, you’ll have to make a real decision to watch television.

You can go even further with this by putting a book that you want to read, or something else you want to get on with, next to the couch.

1. Say “Good morning” to a person standing next to you in the elevator.
2. Put a coin in an expired meter.
3. Help a mother carry her baby stroller up the subway stairs, or hold a door open for her. Read more:
4. Pay the toll for the driver behind you.

5. Vote. While the Presidential election comes around only once every four years, elections happen every year. Check out the candidates for local and state elections.

6. Encourage your employer to sponsor local events, join a civic organization or allow employees to volunteer during work hours. Many businesses have volunteer programs to reward employees for volunteering. Local news

 Switch Your Light Bulbs for Energy-Saving Ones

Suffering eco-guilt? A lot of us want to do our bit for the planet – but we don’t know where to start. One of the simplest steps is to switch all your standard light bulbs for energy-saving ones. It’s not only much better for the environment, it’ll also save you money on your electric bill.

Be a good example!

(  Last year millions of people took the challenge proposed by Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister, to go 21 days without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. To help condition the participants to stop complaining, they each wore a purple No-Complaint wristband. Several authors in the self-improvement genre have suggested that people do something similar to help condition themselves to be constantly aware of the things in life that they’re grateful for.

How EMDR opens a window for traumatized people

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This is from one of the developers of EMDR (treatment of trauma) 

F. Shapiro

How EMDR Therapy Opens a Window to the Brain

Posted on September 19, 2012 by admin

by Francine Shapiro, PhD

Over the past two decades, the use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has provided researchers and clinicians with the ability to observe how symptoms develop and can be rapidly treated. Over 20 randomized studies have demonstrated positive treatment effects, and EMDR has been declared an effective trauma treatment by organizations worldwide, including the American Psychiatric Association and the Department of Defense. Three randomized studies have demonstrated that 84 to 100 percent of those suffering from a single trauma no longer had posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an average of three 90-minute sessions. Changes that typically took months or years with other forms of therapy occurred within weeks. This rapidity allows both clients and clinicians to observe firsthand how the brain’s internal connections are made.

EMDR therapy places the information-processing system of the brain first and foremost in both the development and treatment of pathology. This system functions to take disturbing events and make the appropriate connections that allow a return of emotional equilibrium. For instance, a fight with a family member may cause us to have negative emotions, thoughts and body reactions, but they are usually resolved through thinking about it and during the period of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. We may end up feeling, He must have been having a bad day. We’ve had good experiences before and can resolve this glitch. This resolution occurs because our brain has made the appropriate connections, and our negative reactions disappear. But when an event is too disturbing, it can overwhelm the information-processing system, and this negative experience is stored in memory along with the unpleasant emotions, physical sensations and beliefs. Since everything that happens in the present links into the memory networks to be interpreted, any future encounter with the person can trigger these unprocessed memories and the negative responses arise.

Rather than rely on the deliberate manipulation of beliefs and behaviors as occurs in cognitive behavior therapy, or the use of the relationship as in psychodynamic therapies, EMDR therapy identifies the earlier life experiences that are the basis of current problems and, after accessing the memories of the events, activates the brain’s information-processing system. This is done by means of standardized procedures that include the use of bilateral eye movements, taps or tones. The eye movements have been found to cause an immediate decline in negative emotions and imagery vividness, as well as increased memory accuracy and episodic retrieval. These observations support two theories: that the eye movements disrupt working memory, and that they link into the same processes that occur in REM sleep.

In EMDR therapy, it is during the sets of eye movements—each of which lasts approximately 30 seconds—that the brain makes the associations and neural connections needed to integrate, or digest, the disturbing memory. What is useful is incorporated and what is useless is discarded. For instance, a rape victim may begin by feeling, I’m useless and shameful. I should have done something. At the end of treatment, she feels, The shame is his, not mine. I’m a strong, resilient woman.

Since the client is asked, “What do you get now?” after each set of eye movements, the clinician is able to witness firsthand the often startling connections that have caused the client’s problem. For instance, one of the cases reported in my recent book, Getting Past Your Past, involved an earthquake victim (“Lynne”) who had come for treatment to the Mental Research Institute. Although she had not had any problems after previous earthquakes, she developed PTSD after a recent one. After preparation, she targeted the disturbing image of hiding in a doorway with her son and after a few sets of eye movements, she made the following associations after consecutive sets:

Lynne: Yeah I was thinking about my sense of betrayal with my brother that he molested me, and how I really admired him (crying).
Lynne: Yeah. (crying) Something occurred to me like, “Duh”: How much—that it shook my sense of reality.

Here we can see how unexpected and significant the different unconscious memory associations of the brain can be. The ground is literally shaking during an earthquake, and this is connected to a major event in childhood when Lynne’s trust was betrayed. In both instances what should have been a firm foundation became shaken.
After further sets:

Lynne: What comes really clear—is getting sick when I was around the same age.…I had a really bad pain in my side, and then they just decided that I had some kind of mental problem. I guess that was the only way that I could express it.

Lynne knew she had a bad pain, but no one believed her, and they concluded that she couldn’t trust her own perceptions. Once more there was no firm ground to stand upon.

Subsequent sets of eye movements brought her to associations of hiding in bed under the covers while her parents fought. The chaos of her troubled childhood and this scene seemed clearly linked with the chaos of the earthquake and hiding with her son. It helps explain why this particular earthquake resulted in her getting PTSD. At the end of the processing session, the appropriate connections had been made and the earthquake no longer troubled her. At one-month and one-year follow-ups, she no longer had PTSD.

Traumatization is a widespread problem. In fact, recent research has demonstrated that general life events can cause even more symptoms of PTSD than major trauma. Many of the negative emotions, thoughts and body reactions people have are caused by unprocessed memories stored in the brain. In Getting Past Your Past, readers can identify the basis for their own problems and learn EMDR self-help techniques to immediately change negative responses. For instance, if you are troubled by a negative image, try imagining it on top of paint in a can and stir it up. This disrupts working memory and can help get rid of the image. Other techniques will help you change negative thoughts, emotions and body reactions. There are also guidelines to know when you need full memory processing. The clinical work with EMDR therapy has clearly shown that unprocessed memories of all kinds are the basis of a wide range of pathologies.

Brain scans have clearly demonstrated pre-post changes after EMDR therapy, including increases in hippocampal volume, which have implications for memory storage. The bottom line of EMDR outcome research is that clinical change can be both profound and efficient. It also shows how mental problems are actually caused by physiologically stored, unprocessed memories. Hopefully, this recognition will help remove the stigma of receiving mental health treatment. We have no hesitation about getting a broken leg realigned by a physician so that healing can take place. If self-help techniques are not sufficient, we should likewise not hesitate to receive professional help to allow the information-processing system of the brain to resolve our mental health issues.

Dr. Francine Shapiro is the originator and developer of EMDR therapy and the recipient of numerous awards, including the International Sigmund Freud Award for Psychotherapy of the City of Vienna. Her most recent book is Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy (Rodale Books).

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the sound of dreams

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A lot of my posts have been rather dark and gloomy, but now I want to light that up a bit with some pictures of places I dream about. I will probably not go to them this year, or maybe never, but the point is to remind myself of the good things out there, and I hope it inspires some of you too. I have so many places to still see, even if I have travelled as much as I can to countries in Europe, Asia and some in Africa (Marocco and Egypt, not sure if the last counts as it was in Hurghada). I am going to America in the autumn, and then have South-America and Australia left. Can`t wait!

Do people have recommendations for places to visit?