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November 2015 Updates

The World Health Organization says that your "health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (emphasis mine) and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

As a health psychologist, I provide monthly updates of resources for individuals and families that support well-being.
Cheers, Marilyn Wilts Click on Read More below.

Note: I am not responsible for the content, claims or representations of the listed sites and post these links for informational purposes only.

" All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."
-- Julian of Norwich, an English mystic, who wrote the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.

How Meditation Works
The following is courtesy of Ken Pope's list. Dr. Pope is a psychologist who selects articles from journals, newspapers, etc. that be believes are worth knowing about and posts them on his list. This article, from the November issue of "Harvard Business Review," describes how meditation works: "To Improve Your Focus, Notice How You Lose It."

The author is Michael Lipson, who notes that he is “a clinical psychologist practicing in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and a former associate clinical professor at Columbia University's medical school. He is the author of 'Stairway of Surprise: Six Steps to a Creative Life.'"

Here are some excerpts:
[begin excerpts]

We've all been there. You try to focus on a task and soon you're looking out the window, wondering about dinner, analyzing your golf game, fantasizing about your lover. How did your mind end up in Cancun, when you were supposed to be thinking about first-quarter strategy?

The normal act of concentration or attention is a mess, but it's a mess with a specific structure. To learn to sharpen your focus, you can start by understanding this "structure of distraction" - how, exactly, your concentration strays in the first place.

What follows is my reformulation of wisdom that has been around since people first noticed they have minds -- and simultaneously noticed that the mind could be distracted from its intentional focus. Most writers, like Plato, not only complain about distraction, but point implicitly or explicitly to ways to address its downsides. In the meditative traditions, everyone from Gautama Buddha to Andy Puddicombe of Headspace has said that the prime way to deal with dis traction is first to be OK with it, which means noticing it. You notice the distraction and bring your mind back.

The approach I use summarizes and condenses the wisdom from these disparate traditions. You begin by simply noticing that there are four phases of attention and distraction that happen every time you try to focus:

1. First, you choose a focus. It might be anything, from any sphere of life. At work, it's supposed to be some aspect of work - let's say, whom to include in an important meeting.

2. Sooner or later your attention wanders. This isn't what you plan to do. It just happens. (If it were a plan, it would be another focus, not a wandering.)

3. Sooner or later you wake up to the fact that your mind has wandered. You notice the distraction. You realize how far you are from the thing you first wanted to focus on. Again, you can't exactly plan or choose this.

4. Having woken up, you may choose to return to the original theme - like whom to invite to that meeting. Then again, you may choose to give up and do something else. It's up to you; it's a choice. If you do return to the original theme at Step 4, the whole thing tends to begin again. Sooner or later your mind wanders.

Reviewing these four steps, you'll notice that Steps 1 and 4 are conscious choices. Steps 2 and 3 are unconscious -- they just happen. The unconscious force at work in the second step, when your mind "just wanders," seems to be hostile to the project of focusing; the force operating in the third step, when you notice your distraction, is not exactly friendly to your focus, but it is friendly to your freedom. It wakes you up to the fact of having wandered from your theme, then leaves it up to you to return to that original focus or not.

Just by noticing these stages over and over as they play out in real time, you'll find that the pattern changes (emphasis is mine) . At first you may simply note that these four stages occur. With repeated attention to the process, you will tend to stay with the original focus longer before distraction sets in. You will wander less far away from the theme, and for a shorter length of time, before waking up. And having woken up from a distraction, you will choose more often to return to the original theme rather than give up and stretch your legs.
[end excerpts]

The article is online at:
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Meditation Resources in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area
The following is courtesy of Dr. Gina Murrell, Psy.D. psychologist, who solicited these resources from other members of the Alameda County Psychological Association and posted them as a resource list for members. I am posting only those provide by nonprofit organizations.
Spirit Rock Sitting Groups
East Bay Meditation Friday Open Sitting Group
Insight Meditation Community of Berkley
Berkeley Shambhala Center
Berkeley Zen Center
Metta Dharma Foundation
Lifelong Ashby Health Center at the Ed Roberts Campus (located by Ashby BART) has a Friday AM group meditation. Free or sliding scale but call to ask.

102 y/o Dancer Sees Herself on Film for the First Time
Alice Barker is an amazing woman and I think this video captures her spirit then and now.
Here are some excerpts from the Youtube description:
[begin excerpts]

Alice Barker was a chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance of the the 1930s and 40s. She danced at clubs such as The Apollo, Cotton Club, The Zanzibar Club, and on Broadway—with legends including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Although she danced in numerous movies, commercials and TV shows, she had never seen any of them, and all of her photographs and memorabilia had been lost over the years .

"We" are friends of Alice who searched for the films and made this video. I'm David Shuff, a volunteer who visits the home with my therapy dog Katie, and have known Alice for 8 years. The woman in the video is Gail Campbell, a recreation therapist (and an amazing one at that!). She never gave up on finding Alice's films, and uncovered the first piece of the puzzle that lead to us finding them — which was Alicia Thompson; a historian of black female performers who had been looking for Alice for years. She told us that Alice was in films called 'soundies'.

Using that clue I found jazz historian Mark Cantor and he was able to send us three of Alice's soundies from his collection. Shortly afterwards Alicia got us a few more films. This video was filmed on cellphones (and almost as an afterthought!) by my friends Darin Tatum and Tom Hunt. We're so thrilled that it's brought so much joy to everyone and attention to Alice, who is loving it!

102 y/o Dancer Sees Herself on Film for the First Time

Here's Alice with Gail and all her cards (so far!) — many still yet to be read but they're working their way though. And could only fit a small fraction of the flowers on the table!
[end excerpts]

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