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Counselor Morgan Randall's blog, bookstore and more. A place to explore the paradigm shift to systems thinking that views body and mind as one

Poison is poisonous

Most corporate pesticides work by destroying the nervous systems of bugs, good and bad, and do a lot of collateral damage to other critters, large, small and itsy bitsy. They probably hurt your nervous system too, because the nervous systems of all animals are VERY similar. The largest part of the human nervous system is called “the brain.” For good mental health, it is common sense that eating organic food is a pretty good idea.—MR

Vital soil organisms being harmed by pesticides, study shows

by Damian Carrington, The Guardian US, May 4, 2021

Tiny creatures are the ‘unsung heroes’ that keep soils healthy and underpin all life on land. Researchers found the measured impacts of farm chemicals on organisms such as earthworms were overwhelmingly negative.

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May 4th, 2021 | Permalink

Food is medicine

How wonderful is this?—MR

Help Curate This Vast Trove of Kitchen-Table Remedies

By Reina Gattuso, Atlas Obscura, April 21, 2021

The Archive of Healing includes hundreds of thousands of folk healing traditions from six continents.

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April 28th, 2021 | Permalink

To do or not to do

Every week, I witness patients who make choices to change their behaviors. In counseling, they learn about  psychological forces inhibiting free will. These are the knee-jerk reactions fueled by emotions called “psychological patterns” learned in childhood from family or society. As a counselor, I point out the patterns I see. Then, after the first day, the first month or the first year, they decide these patterns are causing behaviors that are undesirable, dysfunctional and/or unhealthy and they choose to do things differently. Once a pattern is exposed to the light of consciousness, they can choose to practice to change it. Kind of like learning to ride a bicycle. Try, fall off, try, fall off, try, ride off into a new life. Free will is what separates us from other animals—the ability to choose change. I am not saying it is easy. In fact it is generally difficult, but with intent, practice and support, change is possible. Some patients leave counseling because they choose not to change, yet…—MR

The clockwork universe: is free will an illusion?

by Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian US, April 27, 2021

A growing chorus of scientists and philosophers argue that free will does not exist. Could they be right?

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April 27th, 2021 | Permalink

The alcohol industry wants you to drink

While the alcohol industry happily rakes in billions of increased profits during the pandemic, many people do not realize how dangerous drinking daily can be to their physical, emotional and family health. Particularly, drinking to cope. While alcohol calms down an agitated amygdala while the drink is in hand, this emotional center in your brain becomes more upset between drinking sessions than it would have been without the alcohol. Drinking is exacerbating your anxiety, not curtailing it. If you wish to calmly face your problems, begin slowly cutting back now, so you don’t go into emotional withdrawal, and find a counselor to teach you how to cope in a healthy way. Besides, her office is a good place to leave your messy worries, not splattered all over the living room.—MR

April 21, 2021

The past year has changed alcohol use patterns, especially among women. The impacts probably won’t be fully known for years.

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April 24th, 2021 | Permalink

Who knew?

Back in 2004 after four decades of struggling with poor health, I was introduced to a probiotic protocol and lifestyle by an independent researcher and dear friend. Cleaning up my diet, eliminating unhealthy substances such as alcohol and adding probiotic supplements to my daily nutritional intake resulted in the abatement and, in many cases, complete elimination of literally dozens of major disorders and minor irritants over the next few years. Turned out to be one of the most effective remedies to lifelong anxiety and depression I’d discovered and was the primary inspiration for my becoming a mental health counselor. The profound realization through experience that mind and body cannot be separated is foundational to my approach. It is simply impossible to feel good mentally if you are off balance physically. Once a patient is in balance physically, mental health counseling is much more effective, if necessary at all.–MR

Microbes are “unknown unknowns” despite being vital to all life…

by Patrick Greenfield, The Guardian US, April 19, 2021

A new study has highlighted how little is known about microbes—the hidden majority of life on Earth.

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April 19th, 2021 | Permalink

Born to run

All patients who walk through my mental health counseling office door want to feel better. They ask, “where do I start?” My answer is invariably the same for all. “Start by exercising.” Even if you are in a hospital bed or a wheel chair, waving your arms around, twirling your hands, looking up and looking down, pointing your toes and then your heel are way better activities than doing nothing physical. For those of us who are able, walking 20 minutes a day as briskly as possible, will do more for our state of mind than sitting in a counseling office an hour a week, but not exercising.—MR

This Is How To Have A Long Awesome Life: 5 Secrets From Research

By Eric Barker PhD, bakadesuyo.com, April 15, 2021

Daniel Lieberman decided to do an informal — and very sneaky — study. While at an academic conference, he counted how many people took the escalator vs the stairs. In ten minutes, 151 people walked past him and only 11 used the stairs. That’s just 7 percent.

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April 15th, 2021 | Permalink

Step by step

Hallelujah! It’s about time! Twenty-five years ago I realized that for many folks, myself included, the moralistic AA-style of recovery that is employed in most treatment centers and taught by substance abuse certificate programs doesn’t obtain lasting recovery. When I became a mental health counselor in 2005, I offered an alternative to its suddenly “just say no” model that medical providers call “titration.” It allows my patients to naturally quit a little bit at a time while learning healthier ways to regulate their emotions and take better care of their bodymind. If you are weary of dancing to the rhythm of your addiction and are seeking lasting change, give me a call. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.–MR

Recognizing the rhythm in addiction offers new ways to escape it

By Eana Meng and Johannes Lenhardis, Psyche, July 2019.

…‘Treatment’ and ‘recovery’ are often understood in numerical terms – through the decreasing “titration” of methadone doses over time, the number of times a person shows up to medical appointments, the number of days since they last used. This standardized calculation of recovery is a direct successor to forms of regulation, surveillance and racism that forms part of the so-called “war on drugs”.

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April 14th, 2021 | Permalink

A better way

Chronic pain is one of the primary reasons patients’ give for the addiction that has ruined their lives. In the moment, being hooked on pain relievers seems less of a problem than experiencing unremitting pain. People get hooked on the various oxys, alcohol or cannabis all in the name of chronic pain relief. The sad fact is while the pain may recede for a few hours, it comes back worse than it would have been if these addictive substances were not used at all. One way to reduce or eliminate pain is through dietary change, as the below article explains, without all the social, familial, financial and mental health problems addictive substances create.–MR

Solving chronic pain via the kitchen, not the medicine cabinet

When Peter arrived at our pain management clinic, he’d been suffering with low back and neck pain for years. He was on high doses of strong painkillers but, as with so many people with chronic pain, the pain was still intense and significantly interfered with his life, leaving him unable to work. He was also unwell in other respects: he was obese, and had high blood pressure and digestive problems. On top of that, he reported ‘brain fog’, which often appears alongside chronic pain – difficulties with memory and trouble staying focused on daily tasks. Unsurprisingly, considering his level of pain and other symptoms, he was also anxious, depressed and unable to sleep.

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April 7th, 2021 | Permalink

Sharing is caring for yourself

Stress is an event or object outside of ourselves that causes anxiety within. Anxiety is a normal response that helps us get away from the stressor to protect ourselves. It has to come with a host of negative feelings and bodily responses or it wouldn’t motivate us to escape the threat. Our hormones go haywire trying to tell us to escape. The problem in modern times, and right now in particular, is we can’t get away from the stressors, so the anxiety builds up to physically and mentally dangerous levels. Visiting a mental health counselor is one way to escape the stress for an hour to release anxiety by sharing your story with her. A caring physical presence is calming and she can teach you how to relax and even enjoy your daily stress-filled life. You might wish to do ths before you find yourself doing something unhealthy to cope.—MR

Pandemic periods: why women’s menstrual cycles have gone haywire

By Eleanor Morgan, The Guardian US, March 25, 2021

A majority of menstruating women have experienced changes to their cycle over the last year, surveys suggest. One of the main culprits? Persistent stress.

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March 25th, 2021 | Permalink

Hmmm, what’s this about?

No matter what a person is experiencing in the moment—fear, hatred, pain, or whatever—being curious about how you feel helps your mind shift to a more positive state of being.—MR

Why Curiosity Is the Key to Unwinding Your Anxiety

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March 11th, 2021 | Permalink

What’s in a name?

Names are important to ones sense of identity. When I think of myself, I think of Morgan Randall. But that was not always who I was. Randall was my dad’s last name which I kept instead of taking my husband’s when I married at age 37. I was a professional business writer and did not want to start over with name recognition. Clients hired PJ Randall. Why mess with success? When I became a mental health counselor at age 55, I changed my first name to Morgan. Would you hire a counselor called PJ or one named Morgan? But more importantly, by taking the name Morgan, I honored my mother’s Welsh family. All the men in her family bore the first name Morgan going back for hundreds of years. When I identified as Morgan, I felt more balanced, professional and connected to wonderful things I learned from Mom. No matter your gender, if you want to a new life, a name change can help as much on the inside world as the outside.–MR

What’s in a surname? The female artists lost to history because they got married

A new biography of the painter Isabel Rawsthorne highlights how talented women have often missed out on the recognition they deserved.

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February 19th, 2021 | Permalink

Turn it off to get it up

Lots of guys struggle with obtaining or maintaining an erection during sex for various reasons, but one big reason is often overlooked as it is in the below article—the use of pornography. Chemicals in the brain are responsible for triggering an erection. It’s pretty simple really. If those chemicals are overused with highly explicit porn, their ability to fire up in the face of the real deal diminishes. If you don’t believe me, prove it to yourself. Stop using porn and watch yourself rise to new heights!—MR

I have never struggled to get an erection – until now. What’s going on?

By Pamela Stephenson Connolly, The US Guardian, February 17, 2021

“My partner and I have a great relationship, but my inability to perform makes her think I am not attracted to her.”

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February 17th, 2021 | Permalink

What do you really need?

Yesterday, I spent an hour searching for a new (well, pre-owned) camel hair coat at online resale sites. Then, I reminded myself I already own two. I asked myself, Morgan, what do you really need? The answers I wrote down were: calling a friend, exercising, reading a good book, writing a poem to help with emotional processing. Lookin over my list, I decided to do qi gong with an online teacher for 20 minutes allowing the craving for a coat to subside. How about you? What do you really need?—MR

I thought buying things would make me feel better. It didn’t: The rise of emotional spending

By Sirin Kale, The Guardian US, February 9, 2021

Many of us are living for the buzz of the doorbell – spending billions we can’t afford on stuff we don’t need. Here is how to recognize the problem and regain control.

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February 11th, 2021 | Permalink

Warning: biochemically addictive!

Social media should come with a warning label, “May be hazardous to your health.” There are two kinds of opioids, exogenous (outer) and endogenous (inner). An inner opioid is triggered in your brain by a modern behavior that mimics a natural behavior, one that enhanced species survival back in caveman days. In the case of social media use, you get this reward because we are social animals who survived better in groups. The problem is the dose is bigger than normal because you can socialize with way more people in one minute than when our brains evolved. Your brain gets overstimulated, awash with endogenous opioids. You actually may get addicted with the same consequences to your health as an outer opioid addiction. Tolerance is created causing you to use more and more. Real people become less interesting, interaction with family and friends sags because you don’t get a big enough hit of your drug. Some folks are biologically or emotionally more vulnerable to this kind of addiction than others, so try not using social media for a day and see how it goes. If you find you can’t put it down easily, you’ve got a problem.—MR

I get better sleep: the people who quit social media

by Soo Youn, The Guardian US, February 10, 2021

The author is considering giving up the apps. She speaks to those who have already taken the plunge – with liberating results.

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February 10th, 2021 | Permalink

How about a hug?

This may come as a surprise, but you are a mammal. That’s right, a warm fuzzy animal. And mammals are wired to crave touch arising from the fact we must nurse for the first little bit of our lives to survive. Hugging, holding and petting stimulate feel-good chemicals in the brain that all of us could really use right now to feel sane and safe. Even a foot massage given by a masked massage therapist or a manicure may help. If you can’t find someone willing to hug, consider adopting a puppy or a kitten. Even hugging yourself, saying some kind words to yourself in the mirror is better than nothing in a hugless world. And check out the charming photo article below. Just looking at people hugging made me feel better!—MR

“Hugging is like medicine, it gives us hope”: friends and lovers on the joy of touch

by Deborah Linton, US Guardian, February 6, 2021

Longing for a cuddle? Newlyweds, siblings and housemates hug the people they can – and look forward to being close with those they miss.

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February 6th, 2021 | Permalink

It’s not love

One in four women have been, are or will be domestically abused. If you are not sure whether you are or not, you quite possibly are. Please go to a mental health counselor for a chat to find out. If you must go secretly, go secretly, but go now. Abusive or controlling behavior is not love. It’s a psychological problem for both people and a behavior pattern that grows worse over time. Most women who are murdered are murdered by significant others. This IS a matter of life and death. —MR

The prevalence of domestic violence is staggering. It’s time to bring it out of the shadows

By Moira Donegan, The US Guardian, February 5, 2021

The issue remains deeply misunderstood, shrouded in shame and judgment of the victims, enabled by excuse-making for the perpetrators.

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February 5th, 2021 | Permalink

Break on through to the other side

Below is a list of things to do during a lockdown from Great Britain. It also works as a list of things to do if you have decided to kick an addiction to alcohol, cigarettes or cannabis. One of the reasons addictions are hard to kick is because they are not only biological, but behavioral illnesses, i.e. really bad habits. Smoking a cigarette or having a beer everyday after work is a behavior that must be replaced with some other activity if you are going to achieve mental, emotional and physical wellbeing in your life. If nothing on this list interests you, create your own to replace the one that is hurting you, your family and your friends.—MR

Lockdown cabin fever? 56 tried, tested and terrific ways to beat the boredom

The Guardian US, January 27, 2021

Shaun Ryder keeps chickens, while Mel Giedroyc organizes chutney tastings. These small, affordable suggestions won’t end lockdown misery – but they might help.

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January 27th, 2021 | Permalink

Put on a happy face

This is real tricky stuff. If you have a friend, coworker or relative who is chronically unhappy it can really bring you down. True, this helps the down person feel better as she spreads around the weight in her bad-feelings backpack, but what about you? It can bum you out and ultimately ruin your mental and physical health. One way to handle this situation is to let your friend know you think a counselor may help, because counselors know how to deal with sad vibes and you don’t. Inviting the person for a walk in fresh air is another angle. If she won’t go, go yourself. Maybe next time she will and if she does, she WILL feel better from the uptake of endorphins. At least you’ll feel better and that may rub off on her.—MR

The five: emotional contagion

by Ian Tucker, The Guardian US, January 24, 2021

The idea that emotions can spread from one person to another seems to be taking hold in the psychological world. Studies have apparently found that women are more vulnerable to emotional contagion than men.

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January 24th, 2021 | Permalink

Who’s in charge of your thoughts?

You aren’t crazy. It’s normal to have a voice or three in your head. Since human beings are children longer than most mammals, to keep us safe we evolved a way to always have Mommy and Daddy with us when they are out of sight. Their voices get stuck in our heads, i.e. “parental introjects” in psychological terms. It may sound like your voice, but it’s not. “Look both ways before you cross the street,” exhorts Mom. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” says Dad. It’s not god. It’s not the truth. It’s your parents. Now that you are an adult taking care of yourself, it’s time to decide whether their advice is something you wish to keep or something to which to say, “Thanks for sharing. Now beat it.”—MR

Silence your inner critic: a guide to self-compassion in the toughest times

By Elle Hunt, The Guardian US, January 6, 2021

Is your internal monologue friendly, calm and encouraging – or critical and bullying? Here is how to change it for the better.

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January 6th, 2021 | Permalink

What do you want to do?

One of the most effective ways to find happiness is to find your unique niche. For Ms. Thunberg, it’s working tirelessly to combat climate change. For my best friend, it’s sewing patchwork coats from recycled material. For another friend, it’s volunteering to help developmentally-disabled children have an experience riding ponies. For another, it’s walking her three poodles everyday in a beautiful place. One patient decided to become expert at harvesting and cooking wild-growing food. A 75-year-old neighbor gives private Spanish classes and vows never to retire! Since we are social animals, the trick is to help others by being who YOU are. First you differentiate, then you connect. You grow more satisfied with life and have more solid self esteem. Working with a counselor can help you figure out who you are and what would make you feel whole. It’s called “having a purpose in life.”—MR

Greta Thunberg at 18: “I’m not telling anyone what to do”

By Haroon Siddique, The Guardian US, January 3, 2021

Greta Thunberg says she has stopped buying new clothes but does not sit in judgment on others whose lifestyle choices are less environmentally friendly than her own, in an interview to mark her 18th birthday. Thunberg, whose solo school strike in 2018 snowballed into a global youth movement stopped flying several years ago, traveling instead by boat. She is vegan and said she had stopped consuming “things.”

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January 3rd, 2021 | Permalink

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