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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

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

Stick it!

Get a sturdy walking stick and stick that step counter in a drawer. It doesn’t measure how long your heart rate is up or the benefit of being outside breathing fresh air. There is NOTHING you can do, no medicine better for your mental health than taking a walk for at least 20 minutes at least three times a week. Think bodymind. If your body feels better, your mind feels better and vice versa. The longer the walk and the more times per week, the better you will feel! A counselor cannot do this for you. You are the one who will decide to take the first step toward good health and inner peace. Step counters are a gadget someone sold to make money. Walking is nature’s free remedy. You can begin to walk toward good mental and physical health today!—MR

How 2020 became the year of the walker

by Alan Franks, The Guardian US, December 18, 2020

First we could only go out for an hour a day, so relished that escape. As the year wore on, walking came to represent life, liberty and health, both physical and mental.

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December 28th, 2020 | Permalink

Need some good advice?

Growing old ain’t for sissies,” actress Bette Davis famously quipped in her eighties. Aches and pains, forgetting names, being ignored by your family members are things that are hard to suffer. A scientific fact many don’t know is that the human brain moves into its final developmental stage around 60. Neurologically, while the brain has become smaller, it becomes more integrated. The myriad brain parts become more and more connected via neural pathways over a lifetime—the neurological hallmark of wisdom. Nature intended the grandmothers to care for children and guide the tribe. While, due to isolation, early retirement and poor lifestyle habits (sugary diet, little exercise, drugs and alcohol) some modern elders have succumbed to dementia, many elders are wiser and more compassionate just as nature intended. We are here to give open-hearted caring and good advice. All you have to do is ask.—MR

The age of wisdom: why our elders were the best of us in 2020

By Andrew Anthony, The Guardian US Edition, December 20, 2020

Among the many effects of the pandemic is the attention that has been given to senior citizens, who have been disproportionately affected by death and illness from Covid-19. Broadly speaking, the focus has revealed two opposing impulses: to protect and to abandon. But neither reaction necessarily involves respect for the older population.

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December 20th, 2020 | Permalink

Write for your life!

Natalie Goldberg, famous author and writing teacher, once said, “Keep writing. You are swimming across a deep blue lake with a soul of your own making.” Writing is certainly not for everyone but, for those inclined a life long habit of journaling, keeping a diary, blogging, writing poetry or prose or even emails to friends, it can be profoundly therapeutic. Writing helps connect the two hemispheres of the brain by metabolizing emotion, i.e. bringing your feelings into the light of day (right hemisphere) and dealing with them on paper through written expression (left hemisphere). Kind of like a therapy session with yourself, but you end up with a beautiful work of art—one called a poem and one called you!—MR

How writing saved my life – twice

by Chris Whitaker, The Guardian US Edition, December 11, 2020

I’ve always struggled with the concept of asking for help. To me it seems like acknowledging a failure, raising a hand and declaring myself inadequate. Mental health is in the news every day; in theory it’s never been more acceptable to talk about it, yet I still feel nervous as I write this. On the surface I am eternally positive. I’m someone who likes making people laugh. I joke around a lot. That’s the me I like people to see, and to remember. But I also have the ability to self-destruct in spectacular style.

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December 13th, 2020 | Permalink

Think systems

There are almost eight billion people alive today. Plus trillions of other plants and animals. Together, we constitute only one percent of life on the planet, the rest of which are microbial. Together, we all are one system out of which subsystems of consciousness emerge. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show. We’ll never be in control of anything, but an individual can learn to regulate its emotional reaction to what emerges out of “the system.” That’s how a counseling can help. Contentment is a state of mind.—MR

A Brief History Of “The System”

by Jackson Arn, 3Quarks Daily, October 19, 2020

Slurs have a way of mellowing into labels. History is full of Yankees and Cockneys, Methodists and Jesuits, Whigs and Tories, who steal a term of abuse and apply it to themselves as an act of sardonic revenge. Sometimes the tactic works too well, and people forget that the word was ever tainted. And sometimes the definition changes so many times people lose count, and the word is left to drag a muddle of meanings behind it.

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December 11th, 2020 | Permalink

Grow good mental health

Any living thing that is not growing is dying. One way to grow your mind, heart and soul is to learn to grow a garden–a natural healthy thing for a human being to do. Community gardens, called allotments in the UK, are a great way to be able to get outdoors in the fresh air, have fresh organic vegetables for your table and connect with others while maintaining social distance. It’s win–win–win–win!—MR

It’s official: allotments are good for you – and for your mental health

Tending your own patch boosts wellbeing and connects you with others, study finds. Jen Anderson managed to grow five “small but tasty” melons in Glasgow this summer, and she is not alone in finding her allotment a godsend during the pandemic. For the four years she has owned it, she says, it has “absolutely 100%” made her happier.

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November 12th, 2020 | Permalink

Silent night

Good sleep is one of the four foundations of good mental health. Along with sufficient oxygen, water and exercise you can ensure a restful night’s sleep and your depression or anxiety will likely abate. Adding white noise is just noisy and keeps you from truly relaxing to obtain the deep rest your brain needs and the dreams your mind requires. I recommend using ear plugs when there is ANY noise in the sleep environment to not risk a poor night’s sleep. They may seem uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to them. A separate bedroom may be necessary if you have a snoring spouse. Don’t worry! You can see your honey in the morning. Sleeping in separate rooms has been shown to improve relationships too!—MR

White noise as sleep aid may do more harm than good

Whether it is nature sounds, the whine of a hairdryer or the incessant hum of a ceiling fan, white noise apps have been downloaded by millions of people around the world in the hope of getting a better night’s sleep. However, research suggests there is no good evidence that they work, and may even be making things worse.

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October 18th, 2020 | Permalink

Drink up!

You can still hang out with alcohol-drinking friends, enjoy yourself and enhance your mental and physical health by not using alcohol with these cool drinks!—MR

Good Drinks: non-alcoholic cocktails get their moment on the craft scene

By Stephanie Gravalese, The Guardian US Edition, October 5, 2020

Julia Bainbridge was very thoughtful when selecting the title of her upcoming book, Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason. Cocktails without alcohol go by many names – mocktails, zero-proof or spirit-free drinks – and stakeholders are unable to agree on a name for the category. Bainbridge, a former Bon Appétit editor, simply wanted for her book to be a resource to anyone interested in the topic while shining a light on a category neglected in the craft cocktail scene.

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October 6th, 2020 | Permalink

Challenge yourself

Sober October is a great way to determine if you are an alcoholic or just a habitual drinker. Alcohol stays in your system for four days, so if on the fourth or fifth day you find yourself reaching for a glass or bottle, look squarely in the mirror and say, “Hi. My name is (your name here) and I am an alcoholic.”—MR

Sober October: 17 ways to unwind after a stressful day – without hitting the booze

By Tim Dowling, The Guardian US Edition, September 30, 2020

Thousands of people will attempt to give up alcohol next month and for many it will be the hour after work that ruins their plans. Here’s how to relax without reaching for alcohol.

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September 30th, 2020 | Permalink

Ocean of emotion

Emotion is the body’s reaction to stress in the environment that gets its person to do something. I think of it as an ocean that sometimes is calm, sometimes stormy, and sometimes has big swells. Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes out. If I’m standing on the beach and a big wave is about to crash, if I rigidly try to push it away, I might get smooshed. If I move toward it and dive into it, I’ll feel it move past. I’ll come out on the other side in calmer water. It’s all about learning to swim. Below is a link to a book review about a new way of looking at emotion that talks about cultural and familial interpretations of them. In your family, does a heightened stress response mean “Smoke some pot and ignore it?” or “Blow up and scream at the kid for having a different point of view?” Or does it mean “here’s a communication challenge to be worked out so we can move forward with love?” Or something else altogether? Good question to explore!—MR

‘I’m extremely controversial’: the psychologist rethinking human emotion

How we interpret our feelings depends on where and how we’re brought up, says professor Lisa Feldman Barrett. Not understanding this is making our lives harder.

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September 27th, 2020 | Permalink

Relational healing

Attaining mental health is rarely achieved by ingesting a pharmaceutical to “rebalance imbalanced brain chemistry.” A balanced contented mind is created over time by reshaping the system of your being into a healthy wholeness—one that sleeps more easily and awakens smiling in the morning. To do that requires making healthier lifestyle choices. For example, by adding exercise or refusing addictive substances like cannabis or alcohol, you’ll feel better. By looking at your thoughts and rejecting voices that echo untruths such as, “You’re not good enough,” you’ll feel better. Cherish your psyche by attending church, symphony concerts or art museums that inspire you, and you’ll feel better. By taking up photography, poetry or gardening, or whatever soothes your soul, you’ll feel better. But most importantly, feeling better requires healing relationships. Getting to know and love yourself, your family, your neighborhood or Nature will definitely make you feel better. Because we are social mammals, healing oneself means healing ones relationships. Granted, this takes time and attention, but what else better to do with your one sweet life?—MR

Bringing beaches back to life: the First Nations restoring ancient clam gardens

By Adrienne Matel, The Guardian US Edition,

In the Pacific Northwest, local people work the shoreline, creating conditions for useful species to thrive.

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September 23rd, 2020 | Permalink

Don’t call in the Ghostbusters

It’s perfectly normal to feel hurt if someone fades out of your life and ignores you. Here’s a super 10-step article on how to respond to being ghosted.—MR

How to respond to ghosting

Co-authored by Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D, Wikihow.com, January 15, 2020

Whether your romantic interest or friend is ignoring you, being ghosted always hurts. Don’t beat yourself up if your calls and texts start going unanswered. Try to stay calm, and avoid pleading for an explanation or sending angry messages. If an online dating match or casual acquaintance blew you off, don’t sweat the small stuff. If someone closer intentionally ignores you, it can really hurt.

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September 20th, 2020 | Permalink

Breathe!

At Bodymind Counseling you learn good mental health is the top stone on the pyramid of good physical health. Good physical health is built upon the corner stones of four healthy behaviors. 1. breathing well, 2. sleeping well, 3. drinking enough water, and 4. getting enough exercise. The reason breathing comes first is just common sense. If you aren’t breathing, you’re dead. So if you are not getting enough oxygen, no matter what else you do, your frightened body will will alert you with feeling anxious! In other words, your anxiety may stem from a lack of oxygen, not simply freeway traffic or taking care of your kids.–MR

How to take the perfect breath: why learning to breathe properly could change your life

By Emine Saner, The US Guardian, August 26, 2020

It is claimed that “breathwork” can help improve our sleep, digestion, immune and respiratory functions, while reducing our blood pressure and anxiety.

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August 26th, 2020 | Permalink

Bone health is mental health

Who knew? Turns out a hormone, osteocalcin, produced by healthy bones protects against dementia and depression as we age. What we knew already is that exercise is key.–MR

Does the key to anti-ageing lie in our bones?

Gérard Karsenty was a young scientist trying to make a name for himself in the early 1990s when he first stumbled upon a finding that would go on to transform our understanding of bone, and the role it plays in our body.

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July 5th, 2020 | Permalink

Waking life

In my personal experience, life is so much more enjoyable when I’m consciously aware of it. Living in a haze of cannabis and alcohol put uncrossable distances between me, my family and friends–with life!–for 25 years. Learning to experience the nuances of each waking moment in the ongoing process of emotional existence is so much more interesting than having than having my thoughts and feelings controlled by biochemical substances.—MR

‘No downside’: Johnny Marr, Best Coast and Jason Isbell on how sobriety improves music

By Lior Phillips, The Guardian, June 11, 2020

My sobriety began with a jump, falling into murky water. That’s not a metaphor: swimming in the middle of nowhere in my native South Africa in 2012, I picked up a parasitic disease called bilharzia; my subsequent weakened immune system and a summer of binge-drinking led to a case of hepatitis. Both diseases required prolonged hospital stays and strict admonishments against drinking alcohol. My nightly drinking and smoking were replaced with green tea and rest.

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June 3rd, 2020 | Permalink

Doing good, being healthy

Once I found a job I loved, it made all the difference in the world to my enjoyment of life, an important component in good health. Back in the seventies, after having been conferred with an undergraduate degree, I thought I would love being a writer for a living. But in fact, I found being a feature article writer and photographer for magazines to mostly be a drudgery—though I did enjoy the interview process. Once my job was doing psychotherapy everything about my life became better. Both jobs do not pay very well, so they are equal in that regard, and since I wrote for nonprofit magazines, it could be argued that I was being helpful to others in both jobs. The key difference is that counseling better fits my personality. Now I help others create a healthy narrative for their lives through face-to-face therapeutic relationships, instead of being alone in my head creating educational narratives for invisible readers. The second career lights up my life with living presence and the joy of seeing others lives become happier and healthier. My experience of the former was that it mostly paid the rent. The bottomline is:  we need to know ourselves to be able to find or create a job that is not a job, but daily joy.—MR

The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love

By July 22, 2016

Social scientists have been trying to identify the conditions most likely to promote satisfying human lives. Their findings give some important clues about choosing a career: Money matters, but …not always in the ways you may think.

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May 26th, 2020 | Permalink

Take your body for a walk

Each of our bodies is in grief for the life it is cannot at the moment live. Be kind to it. Conscious movement, whether dance, gardening or vacuuming, sends the message to it that all is well. Kind of like how the dog seems to feel when you take it for a walk. If your body is moving, your mind will not feel stuck. Particularly if you pay attention to the movement itself. Doing the movements below take close attention. Try it! I guarantee you’ll feel better.–MR

Twist, Bend, Reach, Step: A Merce Cunningham Solo…

By April 21, 2020

These days, thanks to the cornucopia of online dance classes and tutorials, you can almost imagine yourself to be a dancer. Go ahead, take morning class with Sam Black of the Mark Morris Dance Group, or follow along with New York City Ballet’s Megan Fairchild, even if you don’t have her marvelous turnout. I’ve been doing both. In the real world, it might feel intimidating; online, why not? After all, no one can see you.

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April 25th, 2020 | Permalink

We are all only human

We all take mental shortcuts in our thought processes. Understanding how our mind works is called “mindsight,” a term coined by Dr. Dan Siegel, my hero. Being able to choose our behavior based on knowledge instead of knee jerk reaction is one of the helpful things a counselor can provide by teaching a person about their own mind. Even docs could become better docs if they learned a few things.–MR

By Anupam B. Jena and 

It’s tempting to believe that physicians are logical, meticulous thinkers who perfectly weigh the pros and cons of treatment options, acting as unbiased surrogates for their patients. In reality, this is often far from the case.

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February 20th, 2020 | Permalink

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