Archive for October, 2013

What Really Happens In Our Brains When We Have Spiritual Experiences?

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

According to a study at the University of Chicago, about half of all Americans say they’ve had such a [transcendent] experience, which might range from a sense of well-being while watching a sunset to a classic near-death journey. These occurrences are, necessarily, deeply personal and hard to articulate.. “What one person calls a religious experience — which could be intense and life-changing—another might call a simple 10-second prayer,” explains Patrick McNamara, PhD, director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine.

But no matter what they’re called, these events share certain characteristics. Andrew Newberg, MD, director of research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, is one of a new breed of “neurotheologians” studying the intersections among our brains, religion, philosophy, and spirituality. Newberg surveyed about 3,000 people who’d had spiritual experiences and identified a few common elements. Number one was a strong sense of what he calls realness. When you wake up from a dream, he explains, you know it wasn’t real, no matter how vivid it felt. Not so with transcendent experiences, which feel authentic not only at the time but years later.


8 High-Protein, Nutritionist-Approved Snacks To Keep You Full

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

. . . If you’re not careful, the snacking never stops. Unless you pick the right snack, that is — something tasty enough to quell your cravings and satisfying enough to keep you from coming back for more.

The key may be protein. In a 2012 study, University of Missouri researchers found that among healthy women, those who ate a high-protein snack (defined as one containing 24 grams of the good stuff) felt full for longer than women who ate medium- or low-protein snacks.


Corporations Have Personhood. Why Not Dogs?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

For better or worse, corporations are considered to be people in certain ways. So why not dogs?

A wildly popular recent New York Times story posits that MRI scans of dogs’ brains show that dogs’ ability to experience emotion is about equal to that of a human child.


Think Dogs Are Just Animals? These 14 Pups Are About To Seriously Prove You Wrong

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Gregory Berns, a professor of neuroscience at Emory University, recently published a column in The New York Times explaining the results of an ongoing study that suggests dogs have human-like emotions. By examining MRI scans of dogs’ brains, Berns found that the structure of their caudate nucleus is very similar to that of humans. The caudate activity spikes in humans when we anticipate receiving things we enjoy, like food or love. It appears to react similarly in dogs.

While Berns stressed that this doesn’t conclusively prove dogs experience love or other emotions, at least as we understand them, we would like to challenge that notion — not with science, but with real-life stories and cute dog pictures. Below, 11 examples of dogs that have surpassed many humans in their ability to show emotions. They are, at least in our minds, superhuman canines.


‘Mind-Reading’ Skills Boosted By Reading Literature

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey may be a fun read, but it’s not going to help you probe the minds of others the way War and Peace might. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that, compared with mainstream fiction, high-brow literary works do more to improve our ability to understand the thoughts, emotions, and motivations of those around us.


Ways to Stop Worrying

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Corrie ten Boom once said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

Indeed, numerous studies have shown that worry not only puts a strain on our mental health, but on our physical health, too. While worry in and of itself is not bad — it spurs us into action, after all — too much of it can lead to anxiety, which can have a lasting impact on health and happiness. For instance, research has shown that anxiety can take a toll on sleep, tax your immune system, raise your risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, and even affect your risk of dying from disease.

The problem with worrying is that it becomes a cycle of self-perpetuating negative thoughts. In a new review, University of Surrey researchers described worry as “a chain of thoughts and images that are affectively negative and relatively uncontrollable.”


Great introductory video on Tai Chi

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

I’ve personally found Tai Chi really helpful over the past few months that I’ve been taking classes twice a week. My balance and energy are better, but even more important is less pain in my behind, back, neck, shoulders, knees and other body parts damaged by being rear-ended twice in the past four years, both accidents six months apart. Talk about a double dose.

Watch video.

Dog takes herself to emergency room after attack by another dog

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Pretty doggone amazing. Watch video.

Golden Retriever puppies enjoying fall

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Dogs everywhere are loving fall, but there’s something extra special about Golden Retriever puppies experiencing the season for the first time.

Watch video.

Parisian Cafe Offers Purr Therapy

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

PARIS, Sept 24 (Reuters) – Customers braving the rush at Paris’s newest cafe to order their coffees and croissants, are now able to enjoy them in the company of a dozen resident cats.

The “Cafe des Chats” in the heart of the capital’s chic Marais district is home to a dozen felines who weave in between the tables or curl up on armchairs as diners tuck in.

The establishment is aimed at Parisians unable to keep pets in cramped city-centre apartments and though the idea may seem eccentric, cafe manager Margaux Gandelon says the potential health benefits of “purr therapy” are real.


Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.