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Meditation holds the potential to help treat children suffering from traumas, difficult diagnoses or other stressors – a behavioral neuroscientist explains


Meditation and mindfulness techiques are becoming increasingly common in school settings. Alexander Egizarov/EyeEm

Hilary A. Marusak, Wayne State University

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Children actively meditating experience lower activity in parts of the brain involved in rumination, mind-wandering and depression, our team found in the first brain-imaging study of young people under 18 years old. Over-activity in this collection of brain regions, known as the default mode network, is thought to be involved in the generation of negative self-directed thoughts – such as “I am such a failure” – that are prominent in mental disorders like depression.

In our study, we compared a simple form of distraction – counting backward from 10 – with two relatively simple forms of meditation: focused attention to the breath and mindful acceptance. Children in an MRI scanner had to use these techniques while watching distress-inducing video clips, such as a child receiving an injection.

We found that meditation techniques were more effective than distraction at quelling activity in that brain network. This reinforces research from our lab and others showing that meditation techniques and martial arts-based meditation programs are effective for reducing pain and stress in children with cancer or other chronic illnesses – and in their siblings – as well as in schoolchildren during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This study, led by medical student Aneesh Hehr, is important because meditation techniques such as focused attention on the breath or mindful acceptance are popular in school settings and are increasingly used to help children cope with stressful experiences. These might include exposures to trauma, medical treatments or even COVID-19-related stress. https://www.youtube.com/embed/SpjWb9teKSY?wmode=transparent&start=0 Here’s what happened at one elementary school that made meditation part of its curriculum.

Why it matters

Researchers know a lot about what is happening in the brain and body in adults while they meditate, but comparable data for children has been lacking. Understanding what is happening in children’s brains when they meditate is important because the developing brain is wired differently from the adult brain.

These findings are also important because caregivers and health care providers often use distraction methods like iPads or toys to help children cope with pain and distress, such as medical procedures. However, those techniques may largely rely on the prefrontal cortex, which is underdeveloped in youth.

This means that stress and emotion regulation techniques that rely on the prefrontal cortex may work well for adults but are likely to be less accessible to children. Meditation techniques may not be dependent upon the prefrontal cortex and may therefore be more accessible and effective for helping children manage and cope with stress.

What’s next

We still have a great deal to learn about how meditation affects brain development in children. This includes what types of meditation techniques are most effective, the ideal frequency and duration, and how it affects children differently.

Our study focused on a relatively small sample of 12 children with active cancer, as well as survivors who may have experienced significant distress over the diagnosis, treatment and uncertainty about the future. Future studies with larger sample sizes – including children with a wider diversity of diagnoses and exposures to early adversity or trauma – will help researchers like us to better understand how meditation affects the brain and body in children.

Our findings underscore the need to understand precisely how meditation techniques work. Exciting recent studies have begun to examine how participating in mindfulness and meditation-based programs can shape brain functioning in children.

Understanding how these techniques work is also essential for optimizing how they could be applied in health care settings, such as coping with needle-related procedures or for helping children manage the negative effects of stress and trauma.

Hilary A. Marusak, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Wayne State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Random thoughts 9/11/202


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The world seems to be going through a time of turmoil and division, these are the times in which poets, authors, musicians, and artists are needed. We need voices of reason out there, images, words, songs, and creativeness to inspire peace and unity.

The world is in need of something that inspires unity, peace, and compassion. And that inspiration can come from all of us in the community that blog, vlog, podcast, and/or make music and art. Right now there are too many people out there pushing distrust, anarchy,, and negativity. We need more positive and constructive influence out there.

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I hope that my fellow bloggers and content creators pick up the torch of positivity and put out content that helps heal our society and stamp out the negativity that seems to have a grip on this world we now live in. We all must learn to put our differences aside or at least learn to accept our differences in order to bring this world towards a world of peace and compassion.

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A dreamer I may be, but I rather believe we all can come together and make a positive impact than surrender to the thought we all are doomed and there is no hope for humankind.

Blessings to all

Ray Barbier

Random Thoughts 4/20/2022


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People wonder why there is so much low self-esteem in the world, if you take a good look at television shows, commercials, social media, movies, and even the news on cable news stations you just may see some of the reasons for low self-esteem, but then there is also how one’s family treats them, their peers and the educational system.

When you are constantly bombarded with images of thin, fit, and muscular actors, advertisements aimed to push miracle vitamins and supplements to fix all your shortcomings, it is very hard to hold on to a good self-image and even harder to build it up. Constantly being told that having a perfect body weight, toned muscles, the right clothes, and accessories makes one beautiful and successful is making it hard for most people to maintain healthy self-esteem.

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Unfortunately, fashion, the newest electronics, and possessions play a big part in teenage self-image, which makes it hard for those who don’t have the money to compete with their peers. Combining that with parents that have to work 2 jobs or inconvenient hours to maintain the quality of life they have only makes it harder on teenagers and kids.

The ones that seem to suffer the worst during school years are those that don’t quite fit the norm, the overweight, the below-average to average looking, and the sensitive passive individuals. Bullying from those who think they are cool, tougher, and better than others does not help the situation at all. The consequences of bullying are usually mild and it seems it’s hard to catch kids bullying or maybe some just overlook it.

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Parents and siblings also play a large part in the development of a child’s self-esteem, they can be either a positive or negative force when it comes to a child’s self-image. Siblings usually are competing for the parent’s attention, love and favor so they tend to be very mean to one another. Parents on the other hand usually are trying to do what’s best for the child but don’t realize what works for one child does not always work for the other. Each child is a unique individual, they have different needs and need help in different ways. Some parents, unfortunately, don’t know how to deal with their children at all so they try to treat them as if they are adults way before the child or teen is emotionally and mentally ready to do so. This usually results in conflict and the child/teen becomes rebellious and has a poor self-image.

If the low self-esteem is not addressed and corrected during the child/teen years then it is carried into the adult years. That makes it very hard for the Adult to achieve a healthy relationship with a significant other and even harder for them to become successful in the work world.

Raising kids is not an easy task, being a parent means you have to be a caregiver, advisor, instructor, friend, leader, cook, counselor, and of course an ATM for the children lol. Helping a child navigate the battlefields of youth and preparing them for the many challenges they will have to face in the future is not an easy thing to accomplish. All you can do is give it your best shot and always be there for them when they need you.

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I myself have had self-esteem issues throughout my life, I have been battling low self-esteem for many decades. I could go down a list of all the things that caused my low self-esteem but what is the use of that now that it now falls squarely on me to repair the damage and improve myself. Plus the first step in moving on and building up your self-esteem/self-image is to forgive those who helped in destroying it and letting go of your own contributions to the whole mess as well.

Just know this, there is no one better than you, but then there is no one lesser than you. We all are unique, we all have our own gifts to embrace and shortcomings that we need to deal with. There is no one on this planet that does not have some emotional or psychological baggage to deal with. How much money you have, and how many toys you have has nothing to do with who you are or how good you are. What defines you is how you live life, and how you treat others and yourself.

Being successful sure feels good, being financially well off does make life easier in many ways, but money, possessions, and success are fleeting, they can be gone in an instant. Family and friends to me are far more important along with how I treat others, and how I live my life. Those things will be with me throughout my life.

Well, I wish you happiness, remember it does not matter what others think or say about you, it is what you know about yourself that matters the most.

Random Thoughts 4-17-2022


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During the last few years, it has really come to my attention that humanity tends to cling to hatred, fear, and selfishness far more than it should. The Ideal is that being compassionate, caring, showing love, and being nice in general are signs of weakness that are slowly destroying our societies. Too many hold on to the belief, that in order to be strong you must be callus, cold, and show no mercy.

I ask you this question, which takes more courage, which takes more effort and strength to achieve and maintain? Being a person who lets his fears, anger, and lack of trust guide his decision, being callous and uncaring so that you can achieve a goal, or the person who conquers his fear and puts aside all his anger and distrust in order to achieve his goal?

To me it seems far easier to give in to anger and fear, takes less courage and effort to follow the path of war and destruction. Takes a very strong individual to put themselves out there and do the right thing, to do the things that benefit others more than themselves. Regardless of which way you do things, you will have critics and naysayers, but I would rather be disliked for doing good and being kind than for being a warmonger or a bringer of hate and distrust.

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There is some hope for Humanity through all this pandemic and war business going on nowadays, look at those who have opened their hearts and homes to refugees, the people going out of their way to help protect others from the pandemic, and aid in keeping those infected alive. We have seen the worse of humanity and the best of humanity through the last few years and I really hope in the end, the best of humanity will outweigh the worse and become the light to guide the way for future generations to follow.

Try to remember, that we all are brothers and sisters on this earth regardless of our skin color, or religious or political beliefs. We all desire a peaceful and happy world for our children and the future children to come. Be compassionate, caring, and live in harmony, if not for yourself, then for your children and the future.

That said, May peace come soon to the Ukraine conflict, may the pandemic pass for us all, and Happy Easter, Passover, and Ramadan to you all. Happiness and peace to all of my Brothers and Sisters across the world.

Random Thoughts 4-9-22


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There are those in life that serve themselves and never serve others, they get so self-absorbed they lose the ability to feel empathy. They lose focus on the importance of life, the blessings of compassion and charity. The lust for power and greed consume them to the point nothing else matters beyond acquiring more wealth and power.

I do not know if it is that they believe more power, possessions, and money will bring meaning into their life or that through such they can find some sort of happiness. To have some power and some wealth to give one security is something I can see all of us desiring to one degree or another, but it is hard to see it being more important than the well-being of others around us.

People like Putin that have way more than they need still seek more and put their dreams of a Legacy to leave behind above the worth of human lives around them. They see their own desires and ambitions as more important than the lives of others. Putin unfortunately has the power to take the lives of others, and it has cost the lives of thousands all in the name of his vision for his country and vision of a legacy.

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There is always a diplomatic solution to every political situation as long as both parties desire peace and stability. Unfortunately, diplomacy is a long game strategy, something that takes time, and some world leaders do not have much patience. Diplomacy also usually requires some give and take and a lot of the time one or both sides only want to take and never want to give. So diplomacy, the best solution to most political problems is not always the most desired because it takes too long and it means both sides must give something up in order to bring things to a close.

World leaders should be more focused on serving humanity as a whole than serving just their own ambitions, desires, and only the interests of their piece of the globe. We all should be focused on helping one another to be happier, healthier, and successful as well. Sometimes you serve yourself best by serving those around you, strengthening your community, and making a better world for everyone.

Just imagine if all the nations of the world were to work together to combat hunger, poverty, disease, and climate change. If they poured all their resources into improving the world we live in instead into weapons . We would probably see an end to most of those things fairly quickly and the rest in the short term future. Only if we could put aside all our political and ideological differences and combine our strengths to build a better future for all of humanity.

Well, enough Rambling on from this old midwesterner. Peace be with you all and may you create meaning in your life.

The Meaning of life or The Meaning of your life


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As one grows older they contemplate the meaning of life, what it all means, and what was the purpose of one’s existence in the grand scheme of things. The desire of having meaning in one’s life increases as you near the autumn and winter of your life.

Some fall into the trap of possessions and wealth, thinking life is all about what one can obtain for one’s own pleasure and comfort. Sure having plenty of money and nice trinkets and objects around you makes life a bit more pleasant in some ways, but do they really bring you happiness or do they just give you a temporary sense of achievement?

As long as you do not allow wealth and possessions to control your life and you avoid the addictive thing called greed you are fine. Having nice things and money is not wrong, just when you put more value on possessions and wealth than on human life and wellbeing you are walking a dangerous and addictive path.

Far as the meaning of life, or more precisely the meaning of your own life, it is something you create and chose. What you do, say, and how you live your life is what gives meaning to your own life. Being compassionate, charitable, and loving to others is one way to give your own life meaning. Far as the meaning of life in general, I believe it is to live, learn, love, and experience all life has to offer.

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The biggest challenge I have found in my life is keeping the self in check, the side of myself that is selfish, self-serving, and constantly viewing life as if it was only mine. It is hard not to think everything said or done around you isn’t somehow aimed at you or done for your sake one way or another. It is part of the way the human mind works to a degree.

So I must remind myself daily, that I am but one of the many, just another passenger on the great spaceship we call earth. Though I am just a grain of sand on the beaches of life, I am a part of those beaches so I am neither greater nor lesser than the rest. I do my best to remove the shackles of individualism while in turn, I try not to get lost in being a part of the great wholeness of life. The Great balancing act of being a sentient being in the universe.

So instead of trying to find meaning in life, go out and create meaning in your own life. Serve others more so than just serving yourself in life, and find a balance between being an individual and being a part of the whole. Be yourself and accept both yourself and others as who they are without condition.

Random Thoughts 4-5-22


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Democracy, In Greek, is demokratia which comes from 2 Greek words Demos which means people, and Kratos which means power. Thus, demokratia means rule by the people. This is where what we see as modern democracy from. Though the U.S. is a democracy of sorts, it is more of a democratic republic than just a simple democracy. We could get into all the details about how our nation works as a democratic republic but most people have a good grasp of the concept.

What seems to have happened in the last century is slowly but surely the people started losing their power in the U.S. to the big industries, corporations, and those with the money to lobby congress. For example, Big Pharma as we call it spends a big chunk of money lobbying congress in hopes of keeping pharmaceutical prices high to keep their profits high. They claim it’s all for research and development costs, but insulin as one example costs around 30 or so dollars outside the U.S. but costs Americans a hundred or more dollars. Of course, this is an oversimplified example when it comes to Big Pharma or any big industry Lobby campaign is about.

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The point is, if any citizen group were to lobby for something that any big industry or wealthy lobbyist group disliked, the outcome would be more than likely in favor of those with the money to lobby congress and not for the lobbyist group with the most beneficial ideas. The question is how do we level the playing field between big money / big industry and the non-profit or civilian lobbyist groups?

Since it is supposed to be the will of the people of the United States and not just the rich and or powerful such as big industry etc. it is an issue that should be dealt with. I feel most of the time it is the ideals and agendas of the big money lobbyists that are being heard and acted upon and that the voices of the people the congress is supposed to serve are usually ignored or downplayed. It is all about the money I believe in the end and not about democracy or good politics.

In the end, I feel there should be some heavy regulation of the political lobby groups and term limits in congress as well. When people stay in power too long they lose focus and eventually lose touch with the people they are there to serve. Unfortunately, the house and senate both are starting to resemble the roman senate in their worst years before Rome’s demise.

Senators and Representatives are too focused on getting sound bytes and tv time, too rigid and uncompromising to get anything done that benefits the people they were elected to serve. But give them something to do to help their lobbyist buddies and their political supporters, then you will see things get pushed through. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are catering too much to the extremism and radical base of their own party which is not good politics.

I just find it funny, that if I were to act like some of those in congress, I would be viewed as a villain of some sort or someone that needs to be on medication. Oh, and more than likely I would have been fired from my job for some of the actions displayed and words uttered by those in congress. I guess I am just disappointed in how some of those folks are behaving and can not fathom why there are no consequences for such.

Maybe I will just chuck it up to the pandemic and trying times we are living in being too much for them to bear. Who knows, but they do need to remember they represent us all and the World is watching them and so are the voters.

Random Thoughts 1-5-2022


Seems the world is full of anger, fear and distrust now days, Hard to know where to turn for the facts and truth. We have such a vast array of sources of information but unfortunately very few are reliable and the majority is opinion based far more than fact.

The Covid-19 pandemic has done far more than caused the illness and unfortunately death across this planet, it also has caused financial problems across the globe as well. Along with the financial issues there is also the cost of food and other goods increasing along with inflation to boot in the USA. Add the cost of gasoline going up and the supply chain issues it is a recipe for certain financial chaos.

Then you have the political chaos happening across the globe as well, the politicization of almost every issue involved with the pandemic, Racial tensions and all the conspiracy theories floating around causing nothing but trouble. On top of all that you have the major super powers playing sabre rattling games on top of it, seems to be times of uncertainty to say the least.

Times like these, we should not waste time pointing fingers or fighting with each other . We should instead do the right or better thing and reach our hands out to help others in need, spend time talking to people and letting them know they are not alone. Right now there are many people suffering from mental and emotional stress along with other problems due to the covid-19 pandemic and from the state of our world. Each one of suffers some what mentally or emotionally I believe from the lockdowns, financial worries and the fear associated with pandemics.

I know of quite a few of my friends that are homeless, living in their car or in the street due to financial problems caused by the pandemic. I have seen the fear in the eyes of friends and family throughout the last few years. I even experienced fear to the point of being glued to the television looking for hope of the end of the pandemic, cures and vaccines (prior their release). I finally had to tell myself to turn off the tv and focus on my family and etc. Once I turned off the tv I returned to normal for the most part.

I now rarely ever watch the news , since most of it is about political issues or the pandemic and opinions. Very little news to be had now it seems, keeping people scared of the virus, vaccines and keeping them upset over political issues is good for ratings I guess. My suggestion is turn off the tv, read a book, do something nice for your neighbor (safely of course). Live Life, make the best of the situation and learn to channel that fear or anger into more constructive things.

Well it has been a while since I have blogged a random thoughts post, figured today was a good day as any. I hope that you all are doing well and may you all be blessed and stay healthy

Pandemic: Rough Road Traveled


Pre Pandemic Possibility

Like a few i have talked with in the past year, I suspect that I may had had the Corona Virus in late dec 2019 / early Jan 2020. I suffered a Flu like ailment that peaked with the main symptom of Covid, Shortness of breath. I couldnt walk 4 feet without being out of breath.

I was fortunate though, this symptom started to subside with about 4 days but it seemed like it took me many months to feel close to back to normal. To this day I am unsure if I had Covid-19 or a severe Pneumonia like infection, though I had others around me in my family whom also suffered the same problems in the same date range.

Pandemic Panic

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During the early months of the pandemic I did not seem to feel much emotional / mental anxiety or panic. But as the months passed I did start getting overwhelmed by both the News media hyping it up and the politicization of the pandemic itself.

I found myself glued to one news channel or another like most people, looking for some hope of it coming to an end and some unity in the congress to get things rolling towards getting the pandemic and its many problems it caused in our economy and society.

Between the Battle over mask wearing, lock downs on public gatherings and the unfortunate problems of our society being amplified during the pandemic, I was finding very hard to find any peace or tranquility within my own mind.

Fear of infection, loss of hope and the political madness that was gripping our nation both in the public and in the government itself was getting to the point I was losing most of my ability to think rationally.

Eventually I chose to turn off the TV, stop watching the news for a while. That gave me time to refocus and think about things rationally and logically. That choice of ending the binge watching of the news lead to me returning to my normal self mentally and emotionally.

This pandemic panic was short lived mind you, not even a month in time but i do believe it could have and probably would have lasted longer if I continued being glued to the tv watching news channels.

Pandemic Magnifying Glass

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The pandemic has brought to light and caused a magnification of many social injustices along with amplifying the polarization of a already dysfunctional government.

Civil Rights, Civil Justice and equality has been in need of being addressed not only in the United States, but in most if not all of the world. A person should never be judged by religion, color, nationality , Financial status, sexual preference or even their political party.

Democracy or in our case a Democratic Republic is not a failed experiment like some world government leaders has stated, It is a on going ever changing and growing thing. Change is always hard and usualy is feared by most people, reason why there is always polarization and opposition when change comes.

Right now our congress is playing the partisan games, both sides doing what they need to to gain votes more so than to do what it right. The congress seems dysfunctional and only interested in fighting one another.

One side wants to spend and put the nation in debt, though spending is needed to fix the the nation up with such things as infrastructure. The other side don’t want to spend anything hardly at all and will do anything to stop the former side from succeeding.

Conclusion:

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Times of trouble always brings out the best and worst in people and governments. This pandemic is no exception to that rule. Being Glued to News is not a good way to deal with the problems at hand and usualy leads to some kind of emotional problems if not brain washing lol. In the end it is what you do during this time that will make the most impact

How you treat others, Resect their opinions and position on topics at hand and if you are a helper or a watcher will determine how we get through this pandemic and troubling times.

Respect, Compassion and doing your part in being a helper in society and not just a bystander who watches will make a positive and large impact on our world and society.

Stay Safe, Be good and kind to others.

Raymond Barbier

Random thought 7/30/15


When I Look at the smile on my niece’s face it reminds me of a time when I believe in humanity. It brings back the hope and wonder I once felt as child. It also makes me think about the world we are living in today and if as a whole we all don’t change course the world she will inherit will be one full of turmoil, fear and hate.

Hope is still in my heart that one day humanity will learn to get along with itself and all other living beings, creatures alike. Maybe one day we will learn to look beyond the illusion of separation and the misconception that one person can be above or below another. We all come into this world the same way and we all have only one way out. So between the miracle of birth and the certainty of death we should find the strength and courage to put aside all our differences to make a better world for the children of today to inherit as well as the future generations yet to come.

Truthfully most of the so-called differences between each of us is superficial or non-existent. We all desire happiness and peace within our lifetime. We all want a better world for the children and a happier existence for both ourselves and those around us. Only when we put aside such things as greed, fear and hate will we as a species be able to survive and flourish.

When I look at the smile on my niece’s face I see the hope of humanity, in the eyes of every child I see humanity’s salvation. The Children are the key to our future and we are the ones who decide what direction this world will be heading when those children inherit it from us.