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Recent research: mind-body & body-mind effects for cancer, allergy, dementia, & mental health

Here are five studies on the loose theme of how the mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind ... and that the distinction between mind and body is pretty arbitrary anyway.  Using meta-analysis, Chida & colleagues highlight considerable evidence suggesting that stress-related psychosocial factors have an adverse effect on cancer incidence and survival.  Andersen & colleagues report a randomized controlled trial to respond to this in women diagnosed with breast cancer.  Women in the stress management arm of the study received an initial one-year, 26 session intervention in groups of 8 to 12 people.  The aim was to reduce distress and improve quality of life, improve health behaviors (diet, exercise, smoking cessation), and facilitate cancer treatment compliance and medical follow-up.

Barbara Fredrickson’s recent research study on loving-kindness meditation (second post)

I have already written an initial blog post about Barbara Fredrickson and colleagues' interesting recent research paper (Fredrickson, Cohn et al. 2008) on the effects of teaching people loving-kindness meditation.  So what are some possible implications of this research for people in general, for using forms of mind training (meditation, imagery, breathing techniques, self-hypnosis and relaxation) for ourselves, and for people who teach these approaches?

Personality, extroversion & compassion 2

Having written the first blog posting on Personality, extroversion & compassion yesterday, I realized I wanted to add one or two further comments.  These comments are mainly about scores on the Big five aspects scales (BFAS) and about "personality" in general.  I've also made these comments downloadable as a BFAS background information sheet. 

Recent research: egosystem & ecosystem

In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.   Beatles

This is essentially the Beatles closing statement. It is the last lyric on the last album they recorded.
(Let It Be was the last album they released, but it was recorded earlier).

Peer groups: Wiston autumn group – second reflection

Yesterday was a normal day's work for me.  The group is getting a bit more distant.  In writing the reflection yesterday, I skipped past the structure of the final morning.  Waking, writing, tea, fruit, greeting, breakfast.  We negotiated details of the final morning timings.  The start was the last meeting of our small foursome support group.  Then we moved to a session in our groups of 12 or 13, and we ended with 45 minutes in the full group of 37.

Precious.  I deeply appreciate how I can be randomized - names out of a hat - to pretty much any other 3 to form a small support group, and if we work to be honest/authentic, sensitive/perceptive, caring/kind (see the communication scales) nearly always the time we spend together becomes hugely rich.  Yes, this is partly because our experiences in the wider group changes us and help us to be more and more open with each other in these small support groups - and it's partly because the quality of our interaction and mutual support in these small groups helps us be more true and courageous in the larger groups.

Peer groups: Wiston autumn group – first reflection

When I woke this morning I lay for a few minutes, asked myself how I felt, went inside, and there's sadness, a sense of tears in my chest.  And when I touch the sadness, try to sense what it's about, it seems about "missing", missing warmth, the hugs, a sea of kindness and smiling faces (and, of course, there's my mother's illness too).  I guess that's what it was like for me at the group.  In the morning, every single one of the other 36 men seemed more than happy to greet me with a big caring smile and a big hug too.  A sea of kindness, smiles, warmth.  And I return from the Men's Group to a very loving family, a very loving wife, a phone call with a dear son, time with a loving mother - but I still feel this sadness in my chest.  Something partly about brotherhood, and I know I can touch this kind of feeling too after the four day Spring Mixed Group.  Something about warmth and love and acceptance and kindness.  A sea of it.

Peer groups: Wiston autumn group – fourth morning

Yesterday I was away from the group for most of the day.  I started as usual - got up, wrote, met others, breakfast.  Then we came together briefly as the full 37 standing in a big circle outside the house on the gravel.  OK, we had already been the full 37 having breakfast, but coming together in the big circle helped me (and probably many others) feel part of the bigger group.  The circle was used for practical housekeeping around timings during the day and other issues, but there also seemed to be another important function in physically creating the holding circle of the full group.

We'd agreed to have breakfast ½ hour earlier than usual at 8.30am, so having the circle for twenty minutes or so at 9.15am still allowed our small support groups of 4 to meet for well over an hour up to 11.00am.  We'd agreed then to have a tea break and run the groups of 12-13 from 11.15 to lunch at 1.30.  Then a post-lunch period which people use to walk, talk, play, rest, and also for optional special interest groups - with the themes being offered by various people who wanted a chance to explore various issues more deeply.  We were then to meet again as the full group at 4.30.

Peer groups: Wiston autumn group – third morning

So yesterday was the second full day of the group and it went roaring along - like holidays where initially time moves slowly and then seems to accelerate.  Here the "train" of group memories seems to gather pace for me by this second day.  My sense has been that for all three of the mid-size groups of 12-13, the first day was at times quite a struggle - what are we here for?  Do I really emotionally trust these other people?  Do they like and accept me?  Is it safe to take risks and be vulnerable here?  Might I end up feeling rejected, humiliated or abandoned?  All of these seem totally sensible questions to me, and I think they need to feel answered on a gut, not just a head level.

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