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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

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

Get happier naturally

We all know exercise makes your body healthier and helps you live longer. A growing body of research shows exercise is also linked to a wide range of mood-based and social benefits.

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January 22nd, 2020 | Permalink

Strike up the music!

This 5-minute TED animated video will explain why you may wish to learn to play a musical instrument or play more if you already know how. It’s the best work out your brain can have! Just listening to music is helpful, but playing is over the top with healthful brain benefits.

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January 13th, 2020 | Permalink

Privacy guaranteed

If you go see an “in-network provider” recommended by your insurance company, your chart notes (the things you say confidentially to your counselor) are typed up and uploaded to the Internet so your insurance company, and god forbid, a hacker, can access them. At Bodymind Counseling, chart notes are written on paper and stored in a locked file cabinet, because I am an “out-of-network provider.” Once a month, I provide you a statement of paid sessions to turn in to your company for reimbursement. All it says is what you have paid and a diagnosis. What you have shared is locked in a drawer. Privacy guaranteed.

Inside Google’s Quest for Millions of Medical Records

By Rob Copeland, Dana Mattioli and Melanie Evans, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 11, 2020

The company has struck deals that grant it access to troves of patient data; ‘We want to be helpful.” Roughly a year ago, Google offered health-data company Cerner Corp. an unusually rich proposal. Cerner was interviewing Silicon Valley giants to pick a storage provider for 250 million health records, one of the largest collections of U.S. patient data. Google dispatched former chief executive Eric Schmidt to personally pitch Cerner over several phone calls and offered around $250 million in discounts and incentives, people familiar with the matter say.

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January 13th, 2020 | Permalink

Feel better slowly

Yesterday, a police person called from another state. A former patient was in jail. I had to tell the detective, I couldn’t say whether or not this person had been my patient because of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so I got off the phone. But having known this patient, I can only imagine that in a drunken rage, there has been a screw up that may have ruined a life. Quitting drinking is not easy, but it’s the simplest thing anyone can do, even light drinkers, to improve their health and happiness.

Alcohol can cause long-term changes in the nervous system, and the brain needs time to adjust to a life without booze… It took me awhile to break my two-a-day cocktail habit. But now I never feel the urge to drink, not even when I’m sitting in a bar. That’s not something I could say for the first year of my sobriety. And my indifference toward alcohol has become the best part of giving it up.

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January 11th, 2020 | Permalink

Think before you drink

Reducing your consumption of alcohol is the most important thing you can do to not only improve your physical health, i.e. it’s been implicated in cancer and various heart diseases, but also your mental health. It causes insomnia, anxiety and depression in most people to various degrees. 

For people with atrial fibrillation, abstinence from alcohol may make the heart beat better.

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January 10th, 2020 | Permalink

Begin at the beginning

At Bodymind Counseling, counseling begins with a survey of a patient’s addictive substance use. The reason we begin here is because poor mental health is a problem in the brain. Substances that effect how the brain works need to be considered before we can begin to know if there are other mental health issues. For example, alcohol causes depression, so if a patient says “I’m depressed,” I say, “How much are you drinking weekly?” If a person says “I’m stressed out, having anger management issues and suicidal ideation,” I say, “How many cigarettes are you smoking?” If a person says, “Nothing makes me happy. I’m stressed out and lonely. I don’t feel like doing anything to change my life.” I ask, “How much cannabis do you use?” Once patients deal with chemical inputs affecting their minds, we can see if they still need help. The bottom line is any substance that can kill you like alcohol with liver disease and cigarettes and cannabis with lung cancer, can make you unhappy and stressed out. Some people much more than others…

The cancer death rate in the United States fell 2.2 percent in 2017 — the biggest single-year drop ever reported — propelled by gains against lung cancer, the American Cancer Society said Wednesday.

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January 8th, 2020 | Permalink

As they say…

It didn’t take rocket science to figure out my brain is effected by the chemicals I consume. Eating carcinogenic neurotoxins in the form of pesticide can’t be good. Most pesticides kill by disrupting a bug’s nervous system which isn’t that different from ours. You many wish to give your brain a chance to think and feel without dousing it with the toxics and toxins contaminating nonorganic foods. Yes, I realize they are more expensive, but so is cancer. I don’t know what is your brain is worth, but mine’s worth a lot.—MR

Understanding what makes a food ‘organic’

By Consumer Reports, November 25, 2019

No doubt you’ve seen the organic label on a variety of foods — from produce and meat to bread and cereal — even in the smallest grocery stores. But how can one little word like “organic” cover all those different foods?

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December 1st, 2019 | Permalink

Life is short

Why make it shorter? The below report shows America’s life expectancy has decreased for the third year in a row. The primary drivers of this trend are liver disease (due mostly to soda pop and alcohol), obesity (due mostly to processed/fast food), DWT (driving while texting) and suicide (due to unsafe gun storage). You may wish to protect yourself and your loved ones by addressing these four areas causing spiraling death rates of people under 64. —MR

Death rates from suicide, drug overdoses, liver disease and dozens of other causes have been rising over the past decade for young and middle-aged adults, driving down overall life expectancy in the United States for three consecutive years, according to a strikingly bleak study published Tuesday that looked at the past six decades of mortality data.

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November 26th, 2019 | Permalink

A rose, by any other name…

Dopamine fasting is Silicon Valley’s hot new trend. Is it backed by science?

By

In the far reaches of the country, tucked away near the ocean, some people are going out of their way to avoid the many pleasant things life has to offer. Online movies. Rich foods. Friendly conversations. Eye contact. No, these people are not monks. They’re adherents of a different gospel: a hot new Silicon Valley lifestyle trend called dopamine fasting.

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November 14th, 2019 | Permalink

Grow up!

We are constantly growing and changing, but society says a person is an adult at 21. Not true. The human brain is not fully mature until age 25. After that, it continues to change reaching for developmental milestones. Our brains aren’t completely neurologically integrated until we are in our fifties, a stage commonly called wisdom. After that, it is triggered to remain healthy and increase in compassion by the natural relational interactions of caring for grandchildren or others in our communities. It’s why grannies and grandpas can be so nice. Our species needed them to take care of kids while moms and dads gathered and hunted. The below article is about how to teach kids about their brains. Everyone can use its insights. Just replace the word “children” with “people” when you read it.—MR

“A boy at my table made fun of me during math today,” my second-grader told me one evening after bedtime. Worries tend to spill out after lights out.

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October 27th, 2019 | Permalink

Uncaring system

One reason I became an “out of network” provider who will give a patient a statement of paid sessions for reimbursement from her company, but not submit a bill to a company myself, was because some insurance companies can deny me payment if I do not refer a patient to a provider who prescribes medications. Three times in fifteen years I did refer for meds, but only as a last resort. There are many effective interventions that don’t require getting addicted to a drug which can have a spring back effect (called withdrawal) making matters worse requiring a very slow titration to stop. Many psych meds stop working in a few months or few years or, in many cases, never work at all but DO cause addiction. Do you want your counselor referring for potentially harmful medications? These companies aren’t mental health counselors. How can they insist on certain protocols for treatment? Answer: it costs them less for someone to take meds than talk to a professional. Reimbursement gets around the denial of payment issue apparently as none of my patients have been denied when they submit my statement for payment themselves.—MR

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October 23rd, 2019 | Permalink

Way beyond ouch!

Chronic pain is a very difficult to understand concept until you experienced it. It’s there eating away at the days of your life 24/7. No wonder so many folks with this horrible problem try to escape through the use of drugs and/or alcohol! Sadly, what many sufferers do not understand is that opioids, alcohol and cannabis make pain worse in the long run. That many of them are escaping from the pain exacerbated by daily low or high-grade withdrawal from their drug of choice, not their injury that actually healed or isn’t as bad as it seems. Until patients try a drug-free approach, they will not know how much of the pain is caused by chronic withdrawal wrecking their nervous systems. Maybe even all of it! There are big corporations making money off the chronic pain industry. Ultimately, they want you to stay a customer. Is that what you want?—MR

Chronic pain is a widespread problem in the United States. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain; nearly 20 million of those people have high-impact chronic pain , which is persistent and affects a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities, resulting in a lower quality of life. Chronic pain is also frequently associated with a higher prevalence of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

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October 16th, 2019 | Permalink

Live long and prosper!

Turns out behaviors that increase the quality of your mental health increase longevity too! Oh, that’s right, this is Bodymind Counseling, the place to learn you just can’t separate the two… These seven fundamental behaviors for good physical and emotional health include lowering external stress factors, doing exercise daily, getting 7 or 8 hour of sleep a night, eating less overall with more fruits and vegetables/less processed foods and red meat, avoiding all drugs including alcohol, enjoying social engagement and having a purpose in life helping others.—MR

So you want to live to a healthy old age. But how?

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October 6th, 2019 | Permalink

Happy bugs make happier people

When I rebalanced my microbiome 15 years ago by supplementing with homeostatic soil organisms, my mood markedly improved and anxiety markedly decreased from the previous five decades. For the story, see my page BEINGnBALANCE. Glad to see popular science is beginning to catch up for the sake of everyone’s emotional health.—MR

When Bill Robertson, a soil scientist at the University of Arkansas, wants to check whether a field is healthy, he doesn’t reach for some high-tech gadget. He grabs a pair of men’s 100 percent cotton underwear.

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October 2nd, 2019 | Permalink

It may be all in your brain

Chronic pain is a feedback loop. The bottom line is that for some people, the physiological source of the pain is gone, but the pain persists. They, and too often even their docs, don’t realize their bodies have healed, but their brains still register the pain. Psychotherapy can help change behaviors to rewrite neuronal structures that hold phantom pain in place. If you are tired of the same old pain, you may wish to try a different approach to get a different result. You won’t know if your pain is only in your brain until you do.—MR

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September 24th, 2019 | Permalink

Put on a happy face!

This article is an example of how cognitive behavioral therapy works. Change your mind to change your life. Imagining happy outcomes makes them more likely and makes you happier! Look in the mirror every morning, smile and your day will go much better. If only from your point of view. But let’s face it. It’s the only point of view you have.—MR

Here’s a new reason to be an optimist: You’re likely to live longer

By Marisa Iati, Washington Post, August 29, 2019

In the tug-of-war between the world views of cheery optimists and dour pessimists, the happy people just got a big boost. Those who see the glass as half full, according to a new study, live longer.

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September 1st, 2019 | Permalink

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