Archive | February, 2019

Daily Walks Make Kids Healthier

Posted on 14 February 2019 by Douglas Merrow

Thanks to a program called The Daily Mile, Scottish schoolchildren have shown improvements in their fitness and body composition, researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Sterling report. Started by a teacher in 2012, the initiative encourages children to run, jog or walk around their school grounds during a 15-minute recess from classes in addition to normal activity and physical education lessons.

For the study, 391 pupils between 4 and 12 years old wore accelerometers to record their activity and were checked for body fat and overall fitness. Compared to a control group, they increased their physical activity by 9.1 minutes a day, lowered sedentary time by 18.2 minutes, ran 42 yards farther and significantly lowered their body fat.

“[The study] suggests that The Daily Mile is a worthwhile intervention to introduce in schools, and that it should be considered for inclusion in government policy, both at home and abroad,” says study author Colin Moran, Ph.D.
To date, the Scottish Government has extended it to half of the country’s primary schools, plus nurseries, colleges, universities and businesses. The Daily Mile Foundation reports that 3,600 schools in 35 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Jamaica, the Netherlands and the U.S., have embraced the program.

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The Science of Self-Compassion

Posted on 14 February 2019 by Douglas Merrow

 by Deb Rodney

The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education in a 2014
study showed that self-compassion is
an important resilience tool. It gives us strength in difficult times, the ability to learn from mistakes, and to re-bound with a greater zest for life.

The research suggests that self-compassion is a far superior alternative than trying to be perfect, work harder, compete with others for approval or resist making mistakes.

Here are some of the findings: 

• When our self-worth depends on out-competing others, we become more insecure, anxious, and self-critical.
• When we fear making mistakes we feel anxiety if criticized and become defensive.
• In competition, people see others as obstacles to overcome, which separates us from them.
• Self-criticism and competition get in the way of our primary goal to belong and be loved.

On the other hand:

• Self-kindness reinforces the understanding that we are intrinsically deserving of care and concern just like everybody else.
• Self-compassion helps us understand that making mistakes is intrinsic to being human and that they are a normal part of everybody’s life.
• Self-reflection with kindness is likely to improve one’s performance after failure.
• When one remains calm in the face of failure, rejection or criticism, people experience a higher sense of well-being and are more productive.
• Meditation has been shown to loosen the grip of self-critical thoughts and emotions.

Health Benefits:

Self-compassion can activate our biological nurturance and natural soothing systems, which leads to greater feelings of well-being. Conversely, harsh self-criticism activates our sympathetic nervous system and elevates stress hormones.
So, those who have more compassion for themselves and their mistakes are less at risk for anxiety and depression.

Deb Rodney has spent her career writing about change, empowerment and resilience. Sometimes she hosts soirees or leads workshops. Please contact her at with your thoughts and comments. They would be gratefully appreciated.

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What if Love Powers The Universe?

Posted on 14 February 2019 by Douglas Merrow

By Deb Rodney

What if it is LOVE that powers the universe with an energy that sustains and nourishes everything? I think it’s what the new physicists are struggling to describe with different words because the word “love” has been cheapened, diluted and stuffed into syrupy cards, fairy tale romances and television commercials. And in our world of logic and measurement, the word “love” is just not substantial enough.

What if LOVE is a force like gravity or the wind? What if it keeps the planet spinning and causes birds and butterflies to migrate? Love, as a creative impulse, ALWAYS leads us toward genuine connection, balance and wholeness. War, poverty, jealousy, fear, competition and division are expressions of the resistance to LOVE. This resistance creates suffering.

Love is operating at full power now as everything that resists LOVE is being called out from the shadows.

LOVE is a pulse that beats through everything we know. It is pointing out what we can’t see, so it can be healed and transformed. It is operating at full power now as everything that resists LOVE is being called out from the shadows. This is happening out in the world, and inside ourselves. Countries are dividing, relationships are failing. LOVE is diligently enticing us to observe, be curious, and awaken. Seen from this perspective, this is a time of love’s light revealing what is stuck and has been festering under a thick cover of darkness.

Hating or fearing  the darkness won’t make it go away. It only blocks the light.

LOVE keeps knocking on our door asking us to wake up. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy. There is so much blocking LOVE’s creative power that we have grown used to living without it. Our collective resistance to LOVE is greater than our ability to act as if LOVE is all that matters. LOVE keeps tapping, though. If we embrace the creative power of LOVE, we get new opportunities to see how and why we resist, miss or try to use love to feel superior.

Powerful stories about LOVE have been told by poets, musicians and freedom fighters. Atheists hid Jews. A Palestinian gave a kidney to an Israeli stranger. A lone man stood in front of a tank. Elephants in Africa are being protected from poachers. Weeds instead of lawns are being grown for bees. Women are leaving men who power over them. LOVE is being expressed in many ways. Sometimes at great risk. But what is more important to defend than LOVE?

The point of being human is to get better at LOVE.

The point of being human is to get better at LOVE. It isn’t one-size fits all. Everyone is capable given their ability to choose either to wake up to what LOVE is showing them (no matter how painful), or to be dulled by denial and resistance. Welcome the light of LOVE as it pierces the darkness. What has been hiding in ourselves and in the world, is being revealed with big, red, blinking lights.

We can’t heal what we can’t see. Take full advantage of this powerful opportunity to witness and awaken to LOVE, as a vital force that powers cells, stars, beauty, gravity and the human heart.

Take full advantage of this powerful opportunity to witness and awaken to LOVE, as a vital force that powers cells, stars, beauty, gravity and the human heart.



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Silver Thread and Golden Opportunities – 25 Years of Natural Awakenings

Posted on 14 February 2019 by Douglas Merrow

by Jan Hollingsworth

The year was 1994. America Online opened the first gateway to the World Wide Web; Jeff Bezos founded the fledgling behemoth Amazon; and Deepak Chopra installed the first bricks on his path to enlightenment with the publication of his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams.

Perhaps not coincidentally, genetically engineered tomatoes entered the U.S. food supply that year, spawning a GMO food revolution that transcended the age-old debate between pesticides and organics. Frankenfoods, as they are called, were the leading edge of a cultural awakening.

Meanwhile, in the sleepy, sundrenched beach town of Naples, Florida, Sharon Bruckman—a dreamer and entrepreneur in her own right—was quietly laying the foundation for what would become the largest franchise publishing network in the natural health industry: Natural Awakenings magazine. “America’s natural wellness and sustainability movements were in their infancy when we started,” says Bruckman. “Now the seeds that were planted in fertile soil are benefiting people nationwide, as well as throughout our precious planet.”

Woven from the threads of grit, inspiration and perhaps serendipity, the magazine was a tapestry of health, healing and mindfulness. Its successful Naples debut was quickly followed by a second edition in Sarasota.

By 1999, it was clear that Americans had a voracious appetite for well-researched, practical information about the latest natural approaches to nutrition, fitness, personal growth and sustainable living.

The Natural Awakenings franchise was born that year, conceived as a local magazine in many different communities—now 74 markets in the U.S.—anchored by a national editorial team that explores and anticipates the latest trends in mind, body and spirit. Readership of the print magazines is 2.8-million strong, plus a broad online and digital reach.

Bruckman’s holistic-minded passion for health, wellness and integrative therapies has awakened in like-minded entrepreneurs a desire to embrace her mission. As Paul Chen, publisher of the Atlanta franchise puts it: “Awakenings of the heart speak to our desire for deeper and stronger personal relationships. Awakenings of the mind speak to our desire to learn more, faster, and optimize our mental capacities. Awakenings of the soul speak to our desire to develop greater love and compassion for all living beings equally and an increasing understanding of and connection with whatever it is we believe lies beyond our small, individual human selves.”

The magazine, in turn, has awakened its readers to new ways of connecting both with their communities and each other. Natural Awakenings has become a go-to guide for local community events, products and practitioners in all of its markets.

“We love to spread light,” says Bruckman. “Natural Awakenings has played a significant role in fueling the wellness revolution I saw emerging all those years ago, propelled by the kindred spirits who read, advertise and contribute to our magazines. Our publishers are torchbearers aligned with the vision of a healthier world and the mission to facilitate that transformation.”

During a lifetime of holistic-minded entrepreneurship, Bruckman, a constant gardener, continues to personally tend each new crop of ideas that germinate on the pages of her magazines which bear the imprint, “Healthy Living, Healthy Planet.”

By identifying and responding to a simple need in one community, she has tapped into a universal spirit that exceeded her wildest expectations. “If you have the heart, vision and enthusiasm to help make the world a better place, a greater force just might step in to enable success beyond anything you imagined. The real ‘natural awakening’ is about each of us waking up to who we truly are and the kind of world we can create together.”

We can’t always be shaded by the trees that we grow, yet after 25 years, the seeds Bruckman planted have branched across a nation and borne fruit that will make a difference in countless lives for many years to come.

It is my honor to join her on this journey as Natural Awakenings celebrates its silver anniversary.

Jan Hollingsworth is the national editor of Natural Awakenings magazine.

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