Welcome to Mind Over Matter -- bringing you inspiration, hope and practical tools for your return to well-being. Whether seeking recovery from depression, anxiety, or stress, or looking for a greater peace, happiness and personal satisfaction with life, we can offer some light in the dark.
More than just ideas to help you during times of crisis and trouble, Mind Over Matter has something for everyone - to help you on your journey towards becoming more conscious, empowered, successful, and joyful.
Announcing: The upcoming release of my new e-Book "Natural Cures for Depression." This book contains all of the most effective and powerful, drug-free methods I've found for overcoming depression, and living a life of joy, peace and purpose. I had planned to release this book in March, but due to some delays, I hope to have it available by end of April. Stay tuned!
"The purpose of our lives is to be happy."
-The Dalai Lama - Exiled head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people
Here Comes the Sun
Sunlight is one of the most powerful anti-depressants available. The solar-phobia that has gripped us due to fears of skin cancer, have unfortunately given sunshine a bad rap. Use common sense. Don't get sunburned, and don't tan yourself like a baked potato - but for goodness sakes, please, get some sun on your body! Every day if possible. On your bare skin.
Meditating, or doing Yoga in the morning sun are a wonderful addition to your self-care routine.
For more information about the benefits of Sunlight and Solar Meditations, visit:
May we all find peace. May we all know joy. May we all be liberated from fear, and released from illusions. May we all return to the Truth of our inner Light.
Light Therapy Technology
There is a growing popularity in the use of light-therapy boxes - specifically designed to treat depression and Seasonal-Affective Disorder (Depression that is triggered by the dark winter months).
One of several companies that has a good reputation, is Apollo. I've seen some impressive results with a cute little portable model that isn't too outrageous in price. What makes it interesting, is that instead of it being a full spectrum light, it is only Blue light. Blue light is the only part of the spectrum (normally invisible to us), that actually activates the brain to produce more of the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
It's called the "Golite." Available for around 150 dollars. If you buy through Cosco Online, you can get it for a discount.
Warning: If you have Bipolar Disorder - use this only for depressive episodes. There is a high risk of inducing mania by using light therapy when it is not needed (when you are not depressed), or from using it for too long a period, or during the summer months when there is already an abundance of sunlight. Chart your mood and sleep daily. If you experience any symptoms of mania (racing thoughts, insomnia, sharp increase in energy, grandiose thoughts or delusions, etc), then discontinue use and talk to your psychiatrist immediately.
I have found no psychological healing technique more effective than EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), when it comes to treating depression, (as well as anxiety, traumas, and phobias), in my own clinical practice.
The wonderful thing about EFT is that anyone can learn the technique and use it on themselves once they become proficient at it. It can be very helpful to work with a therapist first.
EFT is incredible - I could even say miraculous - for treating a wide array of different psychological/emotional and even physical ills. But it's use for treating Depression is one that I'm particularly interested in. There are millions of people in the world with depression. I wish they could all know about this technique!
The method involves simple tapping on a sequence of acupressure points on yourself (or someone else can tap on them for you), while keeping the mind focused on the specific symptom or disturbance that you are wishing to eliminate. The is an art to doing this effectively, but even beginners can achieve incredible results immediately.
The developer of the EFT technique, Gary Craig, notes that he's observed three basic categories of depression:
1) Depression that is fairly uncomplicated, and disappears within a few minutes of applied EFT.
2) Depression that is more complex, connected to multiple unresolved emotional issues - such as guilt, shame, grief, anger, past abuse, low self-esteem, and so on. This also is highly treatable with EFT, but requires more skill to weed out the various core issues, and apply the EFT to each one separately.
3) Depression that is due to a toxin, or other type of allergic reaction to a substance. I would include in this category, any type of biological or chemical factor, including inadequate nutrition, substance abuse, and other unhealthy life-style issues. Even this type of depression can be treated with EFT, but usually the offending substance must be removed in order for recovery to be successful.
Any therapy or technique that is simple, unexplainable, profoundly effective, inexpensive, and fast, often has the potential to arouse suspicion, distrust, and even ridicule or anger from the "mainstream." A therapist or doctor who has invested thousands in their education, and poured their heart and soul into a way of treating patients, that may be expensive, and/or take months or even many years of therapy, may feel threatened by a method that claims to achieve positive results in minutes.
I urge you to suspend your disbelief, keep an open mind, and try it for yourself. If it doesn't give you significant results, don't blame the technique. Although it is "simple," it is also subtle, and there is an art to making EFT work for you. Be persistent, and "tap on everything." Try it on any and all issues - physical or emotional. And when in doubt, work with a therapist who is trained in EFT.
I highly recommend this very short video about EFT:
Meditation: Beyond Mind and Body
"THE FINEST EMOTION OF WHICH WE ARE CAPABLE IS THE MYSTIC EMOTION"
"Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenatrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men."
Most of us find it difficult to sit still, let alone to still the restless mind. When I first teach my students about meditation, the first misconception that they often have is that in order to "do it right - you have to clear the mind."
This is both unrealistic and unhelpful to yourself to hold on to such a goal. Do away with all judgments of "right" and "wrong." The mind is like the weather. It changes constantly. You can't predict which way the wind will blow, or how hard. If you become attached to the idea of controlling the mind -- the mind will always win.
The mind, with all it's random, repetitive, upsetting, disturbing, mesmerizing, tantalizing thoughts, desires, regrets, wishes, desires, and fantasies -- will never bring you any true or lasting joy. Thoughts are a useful tool, but will never show you your true self. We become so identified with our thoughts and beliefs that we become imprisoned by them.
Consciousness -- the real Self -- is a limitless source of bliss. It is not dependent on others, or on anything outside of yourself. Because nothing exists outside of Consciousness.
Consciousness is not confined to the body or the mind.
So, the first and most important step in learning to meditate, is to give up the goal of clearing the mind. The clouds of the mind will clear, just like the sky will reveal the sun -- without your effort. Be patient, be consistent and be compassionate with yourself.
Meditation is the practice of concentration. You may focus on passively observing the thoughts, feelings and sensations as they pass by. Or you can focus only on the breath, or on a mental image, or sound. Don't resist your thoughts, or you give them too much power. Accept them, but don't react to them. Get absorbed in the breath...
Learn more about yoga and meditation for health, happiness and vitality.
A Few Words of Caution:
If you have any family history of psychosis, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder - or have any of these issues yourself - then I'd be more inclined to suggest Mindfulness Meditation - in moderation - to gradually develop an inner observing consciousness, and to become more aware of the inner landscape of your mind and body. Some yogic practices are very powerful and can trigger mania or psychosis in those with a vulnerability to this.
Anyone with persistent suicidal ideation, dissociative episodes, or severe self-critical or disturbing thoughts or unresolved traumatic memories should work with a therapist and/or qualified meditation teacher to provide close guidance and safety. Sometimes intensive meditation can seem to worsen these symptoms before improving them, and can increase the tendency to dissociate more.
The Best Place to Start is Here and Now
Meditation may free you from many self-imposed limitations, fears, and unhealthy attachments, but the results come gradually, and only through regular practice. With practice, the results can be more far reaching than just about anything else you might do for yourself.
Try meditating right now. Put on some headphones and click play to listen to my guided meditations. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit as you listen. These two gentle 15 minute meditations should give you a good start (sorry they're not downloadable at this time):
The Dirty Truth About Drug Companies
Big drug companies have been accused of putting profits above patients, spinning false PR campaigns and more. Here are some of the most shocking facts about the pharmaceutical industry:
The price of drugs is increasing faster than anything else a patient pays for: The prices of the most heavily prescribed drugs are routinely jacked up, sometimes several times a year. Some medications have a mark-up of 1,000 percent over the cost of their ingredients.
Your doctor may have an ulterior motive behind your prescription: Drug reps often give gifts to convince doctors to prescribe the medications that they represent. These drug reps usually have no medical or science education.(I've seen this first hand).
Pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than research: Almost twice as much!
Prescription-drug advertising has driven a third of Americans to talk to their doctors about specific drugs, and many of these people got a prescription from their doctor as a result.
Guilty of Medicare fraud: Pharmaceutical companies are being tried in federal courts as a result of their exploitation of Medicare. AstraZeneca had to pay more than $340 million in penalties for coaching doctors to cheat Medicare.
The combined wealth of the top 5 pharmaceutical companies outweigh GNP of sub-Saharan Africa: In fact, the combined worth of the world’s top five drug companies is twice the combined GNP of that entire region.
Americans pay more for prescription meds than anyone else in the world: $200 billion in 2002 alone.
"New" Drugs aren't really new: Two-thirds of “new” prescription drugs are identical to existing drugs or modified versions of them. They just change the names to sell more.
Drug companies are taking advantage of underdeveloped countries to perform clinical trials: In developing countries, government oversight is more lax.
For many more shocking facts, click the link below.
Regulate and Balance The Rhythms of Your Life
Regularity of routines is extremely helpful in decreasing the frequency and intensity of both depressive and manic episodes, and can even prevent mood swings from happening.
Going to bed at the same time (preferably well before midnight), and waking at the same time (preferably before 9:00 am) is one of the most important elements of mental hygiene.
Exercising at the same time every day, eating at regular intervals and taking time each day to do activities that decrease stress, connect with loved ones and feed the soul - will go a long way towards a more balanced mood.
Likewise, taking your medication (or supplements) daily, at the same time, is very critical for keeping your brain chemistry at a stable, consistent level. The difficulty for many people taking medication however, is that certain meds have a cumulative effect
- gradually building to higher levels in the body over time. Therefor, there will come a point where an adjustment may need to be made. Keeping a daily mood log, and seeing your doctor and therapist on a regular basis will be valuable in monitoring your day to day needs.
Bipolar Disorder or "manic depression" affects about one in 70 people, across all cultures, and is equal for men and women.
The most successful approach that I've found for treating Bipolar Disorder is holistically -- from all sides -- to achieve optimum health on all levels. Some of the most influential artists, musicians, poets and entrepreneurs have been Bipolar. By getting comprehensive treatment, the creative genius of the Bipolar mind need not be lost in a haze of medication. Medication can often be minimized by learning to reduce stress, manage relationships, recognize warning signs of depression or mania, getting optimum nutrition for a healthy brain, and building a reliable support system.
"A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part."
Desire, passion, yearning, craving -- these are all part of the human experience. There is nothing wrong with any of them. But when longing turns to frustration, despair, hopelessness, pessimism and fear, we suffer and become trapped in our own inner prison.
The way out of this prison is detachment. Detachment is the opposite of drama. Some people thrive on drama. It makes them feel that they matter - that they are connected with others, and that they are on an adventure - maybe a tragedy, or a heroes journey that will end in victory. But creating drama does not bring real happiness, because drama is completely dependent on your circumstances, your environment, and on other people.
Real, and lasting happiness - true Bliss - only comes from that which is eternal and ever-present within us: Pure Consciousness - pure awareness, the only thing that never changes - the core of the Self.
To become fixated and over-concerned with the body or the mind, is to forget one's true identity. Only by looking within and observing the mind's activities, can this inner awareness of the essential Self be obtained.
Detachment does not mean giving up desires, dreams or hopes. But the inner consciousness must be the ground zero - the foundation - the source of all worldly experiences.
The ironic thing about learning to be detached, is that just when we let go, we often receive the object of our desire!
Don't Give Up
Every life challenge is an opportunity to awaken. There is no situation that is hopeless. Something positive, healing and transformative is possible in all circumstances, even when we can't recognize it at the time. Sometimes we forge ourselves out of the fire of suffering and loss, and it isn't until the end that we realize what a beautiful work of art has emerged within.
Be sure to look out for my upcoming e-Book - Natural Cures for Depression - due for release this month!
I value your opinions and your feedback! Please let me know if this newsletter was helpful and feel free to ask questions. I update my website regularly, so check the site for new information, and if you like what you see, let others know about it.
Wishing you health and great joy!
Ben Schwarcz, MFT is licensed psychotherapist (#mfc35606) and meditation teacher with a private practice at 3452 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA. He can be reached at 707-326-5566
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. As with any drug, not all supplements are safe for all individuals and there may be risks and contraindications for people with certain conditions. Always consult a professional healthcare provider before before trying to treat a serious condition on your own.
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