Author Archives: admin

Don’t let the cold weather drag you down! The 21-Day Bodyweight Jumpstart

21 Day Workout

These 3 workouts can be easily modified and progressed for every fitness level. The workouts in this series are geared toward starting your fitness routine. Each workout trains your entire body, including your lower body, upper body, abdominals and core.

The exercises here only require bodyweight to begin, so if you don’t have any fitness equipment or a gym membership, you will still be able to get a great workout in. Each workout also has some type of cardiovascular exercise in it to help bring your heart rate up.

As you progress into your fitness routines, add in more workouts from our fitness archives and increase the intensity by adding in resistance or weights to the exercises.

For the next three weeks, complete these workouts allowing one day in between each structured workout. For example, on Mondays complete Workout 1, Wednesdays complete Workout 2, and Fridays complete Workout 3. The day following each workout (so for example, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) try to perform some light exercise, like a long walk or easy jog. Perhaps even some light stretching if your muscles are sore. Make sure that you have at least one full day of recovery each week (this could be Sunday).

After these three weeks, we’re sure you will feel stronger and more confident to take your training to the next level.

Workout 1

Bodyweight Sets

Complete this workout as a circuit, moving from one exercise to the next. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise, depending on your ability.

Jump Squats


Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and knees and shoulder very slightly turned out to the side. Lower down into a squat keeping your weight in your heels. With power, drive through your heels to propel yourself up into a jump straight up. Land softly, rolling from the toes down to the heels and sink down into your squat to repeat. Perform 15 jumps and as you get stronger, progress to 20, then 25.

Narrow Push Ups


Come down to your mat in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs engaged and lower down into a push-up, keeping your elbows in by your waistline.

Press through your palms to push up, making sure to keep your abs engaged and don’t let your back arch or hips sink down. Perform 10-20 push-ups, depending in your strength. To modify this exercise, you can drop to your knees, but be sure to keep a plank position and your abs tight.

Single Leg Deadlift


Stand with feet together and holding dumbbells by your sides. Shift your weight into your RIGHT foot, making sure to keep most of the weight in the heel. Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight and lift your LEFT leg so that your torso and leg are parallel to the floor.

You should feel a stretch in your RIGHT hamstring and the crown of your head should be reaching forward. Pressing through the heel and engaging the hamstring, straighten back up to standing. Repeat all repetitions on one side, then switch legs.

Mountain Climbers


Start in a plank position on your hands. Keeping your abs engaged and your shoulders directly over your hands, drive your RIGHT knee in towards your chest, using your abs to pull it in. Quickly reach that leg back and drive your LEFT knee in towards your chest. Go as quickly as you can while maintaining abdominal strength. Complete for 30 seconds to a minute.

Tricep Dips


Sit on the edge of the chair or table and place your hands on the edge so that your fingers are hanging off, facing towards you. Lift your hips of just in front of the chair, with your shoulders over your wrists. Bend your elbows and lower down, making sure to keep your elbows pressing back and your chest lifted (don’t “sink” into your shoulders). Press back up using the backs of your arms. Complete 15 repetitions.

Wall Sit


Find an open, flat wall and stand next to it with your back flat against it. Walk your feet forwards about 2 feet or so (about your own thigh-length away from the wall) and lower down into a squat position with a 90 degree bend in your knees.

Make sure to keep your knees in line with your toes, press your tailbone into the wall, and keep your shoulders back. To make this more advanced, you can hold a dumbbell in each hand or on your thighs. Hold for 30 seconds to start, and progress to 60 seconds as you become stronger.

Workout 2

Bodyweight Workout

Complete this workout as a circuit moving from one exercise to the next. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise depending on your ability.



Start standing with feet together, lower into a deep squat position to bring your hands down to the floor. Jump your legs backwards into a full plank position on your hands. Jump your feet back into your low squat position and jump up reaching your hands overhead. (For a modification, take out the jump and just stand up.) Complete 10-15 burpees.



Start by standing with feet together and your weight in your RIGHT leg. Step your LEFT foot back, keeping the weight in your front heel. Your knees should be bent at about 90 degrees, and be sure to keep your torso upright. Powering through your front heel, use the glutes and hamstrings to press up to standing. As you progress, you can add dumbbells in each hand for an extra challenge. Complete 15-20 repetitions on each leg.



Start by standing at the end of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend forward to reach your hands to the mat in a forward fold, reaching your hands flat on the mat (your knees may bend slightly). Walk your hands out about a foot at a time all the way out into a full plank position. Hold in the plank for a second or two and walk your hands all the way back into the forward fold, and repeat. Complete 10-15 repetitions.

Wide Push Ups


Come into a full plank position on your hands, but position your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower down into a push-up and at the bottom of the push-up, you should have a 90-degree bend in your elbows. Press back up to the plank and repeat 15-20 times. This can be modified by lowering down to the knees if needed.

Prisoner Squats with Calf Raises


Bring feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and knees and toes slightly turned out. Place your hands behind your head and retract your shoulders together to open the chest. Squat down, sitting back as if sitting into a chair, keeping the weight in the heels and the chest open. Power through the heels to come back up to standing and then lift the heels off the ground, squeezing the glutes at the top. Repeat 15-20 times.



Laying on your stomach on your mat, extend your arms over your head with your palms facing down. Reach the crown of your head forward and let your nose hover an inch off the ground. Draw your shoulder blades down your back as you lift your arms and legs a few inches off the ground. Think about squeezing your glutes and pulling your shoulders together to engage your entire back. Lower your arms and legs, and repeat 15 times.



Staying on your stomach on the mat, tuck your toes under, placing the weight in the balls of your feet. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders, keeping your forearms parallel to each other. Brace through your abdominals and lift your hips up so that you’re in a straight line from the crown of your head to your feet. Be sure not to let your lower back arch and keep your abs tight the entire time. Hold for 30 seconds for beginners and work your way up to 60 seconds.

Workout 3

Bodyweight Sets

Complete this workout as a circuit moving from one exercise to the next. Perform 2-4 sets of each exercise, depending on your ability.

Walking Lunges


Making sure you have enough space (about a 15-foot hallway is enough), start with your feet together and hands on your hips or by your sides. Step your RIGHT foot forward far enough so that when you lunge down, your RIGHT thigh is parallel to the floor. You should feel a stretch through the front of your LEFT hip, in the hip flexor. Press though your RIGHT heel and power up to bring your feet together and stand up. Repeat, stepping the LEFT foot forward. Complete 10-15, then turn around and lunge back to your starting point.

Plank Rotations


Starting in a full plank position on your hands, rotate so that your weight shifts to your RIGHT hand as you lift your LEFT arm up in the air above your shoulder. Lower back down and place the LEFT hand back on the floor and rotate to the other side, lifting the RIGHT arm up. Make sure to keep your shoulders steady, and don’t lift your hips too high.

Figure 4 Squats


Start by standing, and slightly shift your weight into your RIGHT leg. Raise your LEFT leg and cross your ankle over your RIGHT thigh, making a “figure 4”. Carefully bend your RIGHT knee and lower into a single leg squat, keeping your hips back and weight in your heels.

You should feel a stretch in your LEFT hip and work to keep the knee open and out to the side. If you feel unsure about this exercise, you can always place a chair behind you for support. Complete 10-15 repetition on each leg, and as you progress, you can hold dumbbells in each hand for an extra challenge.

Military or Dynamic Plank


Starting in a basic plank position on your elbows, you will be pressing yourself up to a full plank. Place your RIGHT hand directly where your RIGHT elbow was to lift up, and as you do so place the LEFT hand where the LEFT elbow was. You should now be in a full plank. To lower back down, bend the RIGHT elbow and place it on the floor where the RIGHT hand was, and repeat with the LEFT. Aim to complete 10 repetitions with the RIGHT arm leading the movement, then repeat starting with the LEFT arm leading.

Single Leg Bridge


Lay on your back on a mat and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. Bring your feet parallel and hip-distance apart. With your heels, close in towards your glutes. Extend your LEFT leg up to the ceiling. Using the RIGHT leg, press into the heel to lift the hips up, creating a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. Be sure to keep the hips parallel to the floor and squeeze the glutes. Lower the hips back down and repeat. Switch to complete all repetitions on the other side.

Dolphin Push Ups


Come down onto your mat, place your elbows on the mat, and have your weight in the balls of your feet. Lift your hips high to come into a downward dog position, only on your elbows. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Try to get your back as flat as possible. Shift your weight forward to bring your chest over your hands, almost getting your back in a flat line. Using your abs and your shoulders, lift your hips back up to your dolphin pose. Complete 15-20 repetitions.



Lay on your back on the mat and place your hands behind your head. Bring your knees up in a 90-degree bend, with your knees directly over your hips. Using your abs, lift your chest and your head off the mat a few inches and rotate to the RIGHT, reaching your LEFT elbow to your RIGHT knee, and simultaneously reaching your LEFT leg out straight to hover off the mat. Come back into the center with your knees over your hips and repeat on the other side. Complete 20 repetitions total.



Deanna is an ACE® certified personal trainer, Balanced Body® Pilates instructor, and NASM® Fitness Nutrition Specialist. She is passionate about inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle through fun workouts and healthy food. When she’s not creating new workouts and recipes for her blog The Live Fit Girls she enjoys running with her two dogs and traveling.





The Vagus Nerve “the caretaking nerve” in your body.

The vagus nerve, one of the great mind-body nexuses in the human nervous system.

The cranium has many openings called foramina through which the 12 cranial nerves exit the skull.  Muscle pressure on the bones of the skull may change the shape and size of the foramina compressing or stretching the cranial nerves as they pass through these openings. Tensions anywhere from the top of the head to the bottom of the spine may produce an array of symptoms, such as impaired vision, headaches, difficulty with hearing and balance, nausea, digestive upset, impaired speech, difficulty breathing, and many more.

Craniosacral Therapy is well known for it’s subtle and profound effects. It can work on the relief of chronic stiffness and pain releasing tension on muscles, tendons and connective tissue. A great advantage of this is also the release of cranial bones and therefore of the spinal and cranial nerves.


Any trauma to these 12 cranial nerves will result in dysfunction of the structures that they innervate, as well as pain or discomfort.

Here there is a video depicting the importance of the vagus nerve where is described as “a key nexus of mind and body, and a biological building block of human compassion.”


How Childcare Boosts Social Capital

New research says mothers using childcare can reap social, psychological, and financial rewards.


Every weekday morning, Christie Henry went through the same simple routine. She would drop off her two young kids at the childcare center near her home in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, unwrapping them from their puffy snowsuits and scribbling their names on the sign-in board by the door.

Henry wouldn’t linger long, since she was always on her way to work. But during the few minutes that she spent at the center each morning, she’d frequently chat with the other parents who bustled in around her—about their children, usually, but often the talk would turn to work, or families, or other issues that happened to be on their mind.

Before long, they’d head back out into the cold and on to work. These conversations were small, uncomplicated encounters, soon forgotten in the bustle of the rest of the day.

But how small were they? New research suggests that Henry’s morning routine might have had more impact on her well-being than she realized. In fact, as incidental as her childcare stops seemed, at least one scientist believes she was doing far more than dropping off her kids and chitchatting.

According to research by University of Chicago sociologist Mario Small, Henry was also building “social capital,” the complex system of interpersonal ties and networks that scientists have linked to a host of benefits, from better health to stronger job prospects.

This is an unusual way of thinking about childcare, especially since the national debate over it usually concerns its impact on children’s emotional, behavioral, and intellectual development.

Research conducted by psychologists John Bowlby and Jay Belsky, for instance, as well as studies published by groups such as the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), do suggest that under some circumstances, kids in full-time childcare settings may be worse off than their stay-at-home peers. Yet these negative findings have been contradicted by other studies finding that kids in childcare aren’t at a disadvantage.

But what hasn’t been well studied, at least until recently, is the hidden benefits childcare may bring to parents, especially mothers. In a provocative line of research, Small has found that mothers using childcare reap social, psychological, and even financial rewards; these rewards are especially pronounced for low-income mothers. Even when mothers make few friends through a childcare center, they still benefit from the resources they find there.

Small’s work has profound implications beyond childcare. It suggests that at a time when many are lamenting the decline of strong social connections, many of us may actually be building valuable social capital without realizing it—and these “invisible ties” may carry real rewards.

The perks of friendship

For years, studies have found that enjoying greater social capital can improve quality of life for breast cancer survivors, reduce dropout rates for high school students, and increase the chances that job-seekers find employment, among other benefits. At the same time, researchers such as Harvard University’s Robert Putnam, author of the book Bowling Alone, warn that Americans have been experiencing a steady decline in social capital, with most people having fewer friends, participating in fewer civic organizations, and engaging less with their neighbors than they did fifty or sixty years ago. In other words, we’re learning both how vital our connections with each other are, and how elusive.

It was against this scientific backdrop that Small and his colleagues explored how childcare centers broker social capital for mothers. They drew on rich and varied data sources, including a national survey of 3,500 mothers in 20 large U.S. cities, a survey of 300 childcare centers in New York City, 67 in-depth interviews with mothers who had enrolled their children in childcare, and 23 case studies and observations of specific childcare centers.

When the team compared mothers who used childcare with those who did not (controlling for income, race, age, education, employment, and marital status), they discovered that mothers with children in childcare experienced fewer incidences of financial hardship—events such as having insufficient funds to see a physician, falling behind on rent or mortgage, or borrowing money to cover utility bills—than their counterparts. In fact, poor mothers who were struggling financially before they started to use childcare saw their risk of such events decrease after their child’s enrollment.

What’s more, the analysis revealed psychological benefits: Mothers who enrolled a child in childcare were less likely to experience non-clinical depression than those who did not.

Making friends with other parents through childcare was especially beneficial. Poor mothers who formed friendships at childcare centers were more than 40 percent less likely to be depressed than those who made no friends; for mothers of higher income, the figure was nearly 60 percent. And for mothers of higher income, forming friendships through childcare reduced their likelihood of facing material hardship by more than 40 percent—a benefit that disappeared if they made no friends.

University of Chicago researcher Mario L. Small, above, found that mothers benefit from their relationship to childcare centers, not just to other mothers.
University of Chicago researcher Mario L. Small, above, found that mothers benefit from their relationship to childcare centers, not just to other mothers.

“At first,” Small admits, “I assumed mothers would only make superficial friends through childcare centers. Who has time to sit and gossip when more often than not, mothers need childcare in the first place because they work outside the home?

“Surprisingly,” he continues, “many made strong friendships—they used the word ‘family’ to describe them—in which they would go to the theater and plan trips together out of state.”

This makes sense to Sarah Diwan, who runs BabyPhd, a childcare network comprising 18 home childcare providers and 60 families in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. “There’s a shared vulnerability when mothers wonder what’s going to happen to their relationship with their child when they go back to work,” says Diwan. “They often come together over the emotional aspect of dropping off a child.”

Henry, who enrolled both her children in a Baby PhD childcare center, agrees. “The immediate empathy formed through that shared experience,” says Henry, “made it easy for friendships to start.” Today, Henry regularly emails and meets for coffee with three other mothers who used the same center.

“Hi and bye” relationships

Other discoveries about social connections emerged from Small’s study. For instance, many mothers formed relationships that were deeply personal, but only within the domain of childcare. These “compartmentally strong friendships,” as Small calls them, extended mothers’ support systems, even though they rarely resulted in meetings outside the center.

Mothers also made weak “hi and bye” relationships that were nevertheless valuable, because they were made trustworthy by the mothers’ shared ties to the center. “If I were to ask if you would hand your child over to somebody whose name, address, and job you didn’t know, any rational person would answer no,” adds Small. “In the context of childcare centers, many mothers were willing to do just that.”

These types of connections wouldn’t necessarily show up in a survey of social networks, because they aren’t what comes to mind when respondents are asked to list their ties—yet they, along with traditional friendships, dramatically increased mothers’ available social capital. “There’s a kind of psychic safety net,” says Small, “that comes from knowing an extra three or four people in this context. You can stay late at your meeting. You can miss your bus. And you have someone you trust to call. It takes the edge off a lot of things.”

This kind of practical support has been invaluable to Virginia Pace, who also found childcare through Diwan’s network. “It’s really nice to be able to compare notes about things like discipline,” she says, “or what to do when a child is sick.” Although Small could not say quantitatively how long after they enroll their children mothers might begin drawing on this kind of social capital, his interviews with mothers suggest that benefits often appear after as little as six months.

But one of the study’s most striking discoveries was that, for poor mothers, the benefits of social capital accrued regardless of whether they made friends at a childcare center. How could this be? Social capital, it turns out, doesn’t just emerge from relationships with people. It can also be the result of relationships with institutions.

For many mothers, enrolling a child in childcare opened up a world of other resources: access to free healthcare through referrals to government-funded health programs that they might not otherwise have known about, help with finding housing and filing taxes, domestic abuse counseling, museum discounts, and referrals to resources like learning disability experts. By plugging into childcare centers that were themselves connected to other nonprofits and government organizations, mothers effectively multiplied the size of their support networks with no effort required on their part.

In a twist that overturns traditional social network analysis—which predicts that neighborhood poverty reduces access to resources—Small found that childcare centers located in poor neighborhoods were more connected to valuable resources than those in affluent areas. “Government organizations and non-profits that offer social support reach out more to childcare centers in poor neighborhoods,” he explains, “inviting them to inform their clients about the services they provide.”
How to choose childcare

Importantly, not all childcare centers do a good job of brokering social capital—they don’t all try to introduce parents for the sake of friendship, for instance. Instead, when social ties form, they tend to do so as an accidental result of center policies.

One surprising factor has to do with timing. “Some centers allow you to drop off your child anytime in the morning and pick them up anytime in the evening,” explains Small. “Others want you to do so within a certain strict window, with cash penalties for being a few minutes late. So everybody beelines to the center after work. And naturally, they sit and talk to other parents.” Furthermore, parents in these centers have an incentive to get to know each other immediately. They exchange numbers, agreeing to help each other out if one of them has a meeting that runs late.

Another factor that encourages social ties is the existence of frequent field trips. In the classroom, one adult can easily supervise ten children. “But,” Small points out, “when you’re at a museum with vases that break or at the zoo with monkeys that bite off toes, you simply need more adults per child. And most centers are not lucrative enterprises. So they need volunteers—and the most obvious ones are parents.”

In both these cases, friendships result unexpectedly—first, from a seemingly burdensome rule, and second, from financial constraints that require childcare centers to rely on parents for practical assistance.

Small, who has no children of his own but has become an expert on childcare by default, suggests the following tips for parents in search of a childcare center that fosters social capital.

  • Look for a center that holds yearly elections for its parent association, rather than one that’s been led by the same parent for several years in a row.
  • Look for one in which parents are expected to participate in activities such as fundraising.
  • Scout around for centers that go on a lot of field trips.
  • Though it’s counterintuitive, look for a center that sets strict windows for drop-off and    pick-up times.
  • Figure out whether a center is well-connected to other local organizations. This can be  tricky—but one sign to look for is a frequently-updated bulletin board full of flyers, posters, and notices advertising local resources.

Grab a coffee, make a friend

This research has implications even for those who take care of their children at home or don’t have children at all, as it reveals a broader truth about how we build social networks. Policymakers and scholars argue passionately for fostering civic engagement as a tool against crime, poverty, and inequity; business experts say who you know is more important than what you know; and self-help writers are eager to teach “networking” for happiness and success. But most of these voices focus on the consequences of social connections, and ignore how they’re formed.

Small’s research points to the fact that many of our most valuable social ties are made in the context of our involvement with institutions. We connect with others, almost without noticing it, in the coffee shops we visit, the churches, synagogues, and mosques at which we pray, and the gyms in which we exercise.

“These are not incidental aspects of our connections,” says Small. “They are the core. To the extent that we are our social networks, we are also the organizations we participate in.”



By Meera Lee Sethi





Tracker Pixel for Entry

Striving for Happiness vs. Prioritising Positivity, A Better Way to Pursue Happiness

This essay describes the differences between ardently striving for happiness and making deliberate choices day in and day out, choices that enable you to have more experiences that are known to be sources of happiness.

As you read, consider: How does your daily life give rise to opportunities for positive vs. negative emotions? Could you rearrange things, or engage in different behaviors that would permit more positive emotion eliciting experiences?

A Better Way to Pursue Happiness

We all want to be happy. And science shows that happiness not only feels great but also predicts better physical health and even a higher paycheck.

But how do we pursue happiness effectively? After all, some recent scientific research actually cautions us against the pursuit of happiness. For instance, a study led by Iris Mauss, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people instructed to feel happier while watching a pleasant film clip ended up feeling worse than people instructed just to watch the clip. Findings like this are echoed in the popular press: Writer Ruth Whippman argued in a recent New York Timespiece that the pursuit of happiness is a “recipe for neurosis.”

But is this the whole story? Are we doomed to fail at the pursuit of happiness?

It depends. The difference between effectively and ineffectively pursuing happiness may all be in how we go about it. Research suggests that people who strive to feel happy all of the time may suffer disappointment, and people who pursue happiness as if it were the only thing that matters may, ironically, chase happiness away.

But these are not the only ways you can go about pursuing happiness. Another approach involves what I call “prioritizing positivity”: deliberately organizing your day-to-day life so that it contains situations that naturally give rise to positive emotions. This way of pursuing happiness involves carving out time in your daily routine to do things that you genuinely love, whether it be writing, gardening, or connecting with loved ones. Prioritizing positivity also involves heavily weighing the positive emotional consequences of major life decisions, like taking a new job, which have implications for the daily situations in which you will regularly find yourself. This way of pursuing happiness means proactively putting yourself in contexts that spontaneously trigger positive emotions.

For years I’ve studied prioritizing positivity, and through scientific research, I’ve found that it goes hand-in-hand with optimal mental health. That is, the people who pursue happiness by seeking out pleasant experiences as part of their everyday lives are happier. In stark contrast, people who strive to feel good every possible moment, as if it were possible to will oneself to be happy, appear to be following a recipe for unhappiness.

To test whether people are happier if they proactively seek out pleasant experiences as part of the framework for their everyday lives, I developed a prioritizing positivity scale to measure this tendency. The scale asks people how much they agree with statements such as, “What I decide to do with my time outside of work is influenced by how much I might experience positive emotions,” “My major decisions in life are influenced by how much I might experience positive emotions,” and “A priority for me is experiencing happiness in everyday life.” Together with Barbara Fredrickson and Sara Algoe, both professors of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, I hypothesized that people who scored higher on prioritizing positivity would be happier and less depressed.

Why did we predict this? One reason is that prioritizing positivity involves monitoring one’s daily itinerary, not one’s moment-to-moment emotional experience. As research has revealed, the mere act of monitoring one’s happiness from one second to the next may get in the way of positive emotions. By contrast, we thought a more effective strategy would be “situation selection,” which involves approaching (or avoiding) situations that naturally trigger certain emotions. Going for a walk with your partner after dinner is one way you might use situation selection to experience a feeling of tranquility. The tendency to prioritize positivity draws upon this strategy.

We also predicted that prioritizing positivity would predict greater happiness and fewer symptoms of depression because of its relevance to daily life. The “highs” we get from one-time events like going on vacation or winning a prize wear off over time. As a result, effectively pursuing happiness may require engaging regularly in behaviors that promote happiness. By its nature, prioritizing positivity increases the chance that we will weave these positive behaviors into our daily lives rather than just maintaining a general desire for happiness or expecting it to come from a few isolated events.

To test our hypothesis that people high in prioritizing positivity would be happier and less depressed, we ran a study surveying more than 200 adults, ranging in age from 21 to 87. The adults completed the prioritizing positivity scale, as well as questionnaires measuring their levels of positive emotions, negative emotions, symptoms of depression, and life satisfaction.

We also administered a questionnaire measuring the extent to which they value happiness to an extreme, obsessive degree—they had to indicate how much they agreed with statements such as, “How happy I am at any given moment says a lot about how worthwhile my life is” and “I value things in life only to the extent that they influence my personal happiness.” This scale measures a way of relating to happiness that previously has been shown by Iris Mauss and her colleagues to predict less happiness and more symptoms of depression. Our team wanted to replicate this effect and also pit prioritizing positivity against the extreme valuing of happiness. Would only one of them be positively related to emotional well-being?

Indeed, that’s what the data told us. Our results, published recently in the journal Emotion, show that people who scored higher on the prioritizing positivity scale felt more positive emotions, fewer negative emotions, more life satisfaction, and fewer depressive symptoms than people who scored lower on that scale. People who scored higher on valuing happiness to an extreme showed the opposite pattern: They felt fewer positive emotions, more negative emotions, less life satisfaction, and more depressive symptoms. Both tendencies place a premium on happiness, yet one appears to be effective and healthy whereas the other does not.

So what are the real-world implications of these findings? The science on the deliberate pursuit of happiness is young, so any prescriptions for happiness must be offered with the caveat that the research is still evolving and conclusions might be subject to change. So far, however, I do have some speculations, based on my research, about how people might more effectively pursue happiness.

First, let go of extreme ways of relating to your happiness. Don’t set the unrealistic goal of feeling positive emotions all—or even most—of the time. Just because you’re striving to experience happiness doesn’t mean you should be striving to feel joy, contentment, gratitude, peace (or any other flavor of positive emotion) every second of the day. This is unrealistic, because life invariably contains hassles and disappointments—and, for many, chronic stress. The negative emotions that arise from negative life events, big or small, are natural and help us better understand ourselves—they provide vital information about what we value and what might need to change in our lives. For instance, feeling a wave of anxiety about your physical health may actually motivate you to improve your dietary habits.

Letting go of wanting to feel happy all the time also encourages less self-consciousness about happiness. This may be helpful because many peak, pleasant experiences, characterized by total absorption in an activity, a phenomenon known as “flow,” are marked by a lack of self-awareness.

Second, reflect on the activities that give you joy or contentment. This thought experiment should be highly personalized. For some, the activities that spark happiness are cooking elaborate meals and attending public lectures. For others, the activities are watching basketball and going to their children’s soccer practices. (If you have trouble coming up with ideas, here are two activities that, research has shown, elicit positive emotions in most people: connecting with a loved one and doing something physically active.)

Finally, once you think of a couple of activities, schedule them into your upcoming week. To ensure that you actually do them, consider transforming the activity into a social obligation. If running is something you enjoy, set up a specific time to go running with a friend, so that you’re more likely to follow through. Repeatedly incorporate these activities into your daily life; they don’t have to assume large blocks of your time. If carving out even 20 minutes each day to read a novel inserts a dose of tranquility into your life, then incorporate this ritual into your daily routine.

The pursuit of happiness is not easy. If people attempt it with unrealistic expectations and too much attention, they risk sabotaging it. But this doesn’t mean you should give up on trying to be happy. It may be more effective to adjust your daily routine so that it includes activities that naturally spark interest or contentment. Seeking happiness, although a delicate art, may still be a worthwhile pursuit.

By Laura Catalino




Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?

By Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh

Philosophers, researchers, spiritual leaders—they’ve all debated what makes life worth living. Is it a life filled with happiness or a life filled with purpose and meaning? Is there even a difference between the two? Think of the human rights activist who fights oppression but ends up in prison—is she happy? Or the social animal who spends his nights (and some days) jumping from party to party—is that the good life?

These aren’t just academic questions. They can help us determine where we should invest our energy to lead the life we want.

Recently some researchers have explored these questions in depth, trying to tease apart the differences between a meaningful life and a happy one. Their research suggests there’s more to life than happiness—and even calls into question some previous findings from the field of positive psychology, earning it both a fair amount of press coverage and criticism.

The controversy surrounding it raises big questions about what happiness actually means: While there may be more to life than happiness, there may also be more to “happiness” than pleasure alone.

Five differences between a happy life and a meaningful one

“A happy life and a meaningful life have some differences,” says Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University. He bases that claim on a paper he published last year in the Journal of Positive Psychology, co-authored with researchers at the University of Minnesota and Stanford.

Baumeister and his colleagues surveyed 397 adults, looking for correlations between their levels of happiness, meaning, and various other aspects of their lives: their behavior, moods, relationships, health, stress levels, work lives, creative pursuits, and more.

They found that a meaningful life and a happy life often go hand-in-hand—but not always. And they were curious to learn more about the differences between the two. Their statistical analysis tried to separate out what brought meaning to one’s life but not happiness, and what brought happiness but not meaning.

Their findings suggest that meaning (separate from happiness) is not connected with whether one is healthy, has enough money, or feels comfortable in life, while happiness (separate from meaning) is. More specifically, the researchers identified five major differences between a happy life and a meaningful one.

    • Happy people satisfy their wants and needs, but that seems largely irrelevant to a meaningful life. Therefore, health, wealth, and ease in life were all related to happiness, but not meaning.
    • Happiness involves being focused on the present, whereas meaningfulness involves thinking more about the past, present, and future—and the relationship between them.In addition, happiness was seen as fleeting, while meaningfulness seemed to last longer.
    • Meaningfulness is derived from giving to other people; happiness comes from what they give to you. Although social connections were linked to both happiness and meaning, happiness was connected more to the benefits one receives from social relationships, especially friendships, while meaningfulness was related to what one gives to others—for example, taking care of children. Along these lines, self-described “takers” were happier than self-described “givers,” and spending time with friends was linked to happiness more than meaning, whereas spending more time with loved ones was linked to meaning but not happiness.
    • Meaningful lives involve stress and challenges. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness, which suggests that engaging in challenging or difficult situations that are beyond oneself or one’s pleasures promotes meaningfulness but not happiness.
    • Self-expression is important to meaning but not happiness. Doing things to express oneself and caring about personal and cultural identity were linked to a meaningful life but not a happy one. For example, considering oneself to be wise or creative was associated with meaning but not happiness.

One of the more surprising findings from the study was that giving to others was associated with meaning, rather than happiness, while taking from others was related to happiness and not meaning. Though many researchers have found a connection between giving and happiness, Baumeister argues that this connection is due to how one assigns meaning to the act of giving.

“If we just look at helping others, the simple effect is that people who help others are happier,” says Baumeister. But when you eliminate the effects of meaning on happiness and vice versa, he says, “then helping makes people less happy, so that all the effect of helping on happiness comes by way of increasing meaningfulness.”

Baumeister’s study raises some provocative questions about research in positive psychology that links kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—activity to happiness and well-being. Yet his research has also touched off a debate about what psychologists—and the rest of us—really mean when we talk about happiness.

What is happiness, anyway?

Researchers, just like other people, have disagreed about the definition of “happiness” and how to measure it.

Some have equated happiness with transient emotional states or even spikes of activity in pleasure centers of the brain, while others have asked people to assess their overall happiness or life satisfaction. Some researchers, like Ed Diener of the University of Illinois, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, have tried to group together these aspects of happiness under the term “subjective well-being,” which encompasses assessments of positive and negative emotions as well as overall life satisfaction. These differences in definitions of happiness have sometimes led to confusing—or even contradictory—findings.

For instance, in Baumeister’s study, familial relationships—like parenting—tended to be tied to meaning more than happiness. Support for this finding comes from researchers like Robin Simon of Wake Forest University, who looked at happiness levels among 1,400 adults and found that parents generally reported less positive emotion and more negative emotions than people without kids. She concluded that, while parents may report more purpose and meaning than nonparents, they are generally less happy than their childless peers.

This conclusion irks happiness researcher Sonja Lyubormirsky, of the University of California, Riverside, who takes issue with studies that “try too hard to rule out everything related to happiness” from their analysis but still draw conclusions about happiness.

“Imagine everything that you think would be great about parenting, or about being a parent,” says Lyubomirsky. “If you control for that—if you take it out of the equation—then of course parents are going to look a lot less happy.”

In a recent study, she and her colleagues measured happiness levels and meaning in parents, both in a “global” way—having them assess their overall happiness and life satisfaction—and while engaged in their daily activities. Results showed that, in general, parents were happier and more satisfied with their lives than non-parents, and parents found both pleasure and meaning in childcare activities, even in the very moments when they were engaged in those activities.

“Being a parent leads to all of these good things: It gives you meaning in life, it gives you goals to pursue, it can make you feel more connected in your relationships,” says Lyubomirsky. “You can’t really talk about happiness without including all of them.”

Lyubomirsky feels that researchers who try to separate meaning and happiness may be on the wrong track, because meaning and happiness are inseparably intertwined.

“When you feel happy, and you take out the meaning part of happiness, it’s not really happiness,” she says.

Yet this is basically how Baumeister and his colleagues defined happiness for the purpose of their study. So although the study referred to “happiness,” says Lyubomirsky, perhaps it was actually looking at something more like “hedonic pleasure”—the part of happiness that involves feeling good without the part that involves deeper life satisfaction.

Is there happiness without pleasure?

But is it ever helpful to separate out meaning from pleasure?

Some researchers have taken to doing that by looking at what they call “eudaimonic happiness,” or the happiness that comes from meaningful pursuits, and “hedonic happiness”—the happiness that comes from pleasure or goal fulfillment.

A recent study by Steven Cole of the UCLA School of Medicine, and Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that people who reported more eudaimonic happiness had stronger immune system function than those who reported more hedonic happiness, suggesting that a life of meaning may be better for our health than a life seeking pleasure.

Similarly, a 2008 article in the Journal of Happiness Studies reports several positive health effects that have been associated with eudaimonic happiness, including less reactivity to stress, less insulin resistance (which means less chance of developing diabetes), higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, better sleep, and brain activity patterns that have been linked to decreased levels of depression.

But happiness researcher Elizabeth Dunn thinks the distinction between eudaimonic and hedonic happiness is murky.

“I think it’s a distinction that intuitively makes a lot of sense but doesn’t actually hold up under the lens of science,” says Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Dunn has authored numerous studies showing that giving to others increases happiness, both in the moment, as measured by positive emotions alone, and in terms of overall life satisfaction. In a recently published paper, she and her colleagues surveyed data from several countries and found supporting evidence for this connection, including findings that showed subjects randomly assigned to buy items for charity reported higher levels of positive emotion—a measure of hedonic happiness—than participants assigned to buy the same items for themselves, even when the spending did not build or strengthen social ties.

“I think my own work really supports the idea that eudaimonic and hedonic well-being are surprisingly similar and aren’t as different as one might expect,” says Dunn. “To say that there’s one pathway to meaning, and that it’s different than the pathway to pleasure, is false.”

Like Lyubomirsky, she insists that meaning and happiness go hand-in-hand. She points to the work of researchers who’ve found that positive emotions can help establish deeper social ties—which many argue is the most meaningful part of life—and to University of Missouri psychologist Laura King’s research, which found that feeling positive emotions helps people see the “big picture” and notice patterns, which can help one aim for more meaningful pursuits and interpret one’s experience as meaningful.

In addition, she argues that the measurements used to distinguish eudaimonic from hedonic happiness are too highly correlated to separate out in this way—statistically speaking, doing so can make your results unreliable.

As University of Pennsylvania psychologist James Coyne—according to Dunn, a statistical “hardhead”—wrote in a 2013 blog post, trying to distinguish eudaimonic well-being by controlling for hedonic well-being and other factors leaves you with something that’s not really eudaimonia at all. He compares it to taking a photo of siblings who look alike, removing everything that makes them resemble each other, and then still calling the photos representative of the siblings.

“If we were talking about people, we probably couldn’t even recognize a family resemblance between the two,” he writes.

In other words, just because it’s statistically possible to remove the influence of one variable on another doesn’t mean that what you end up with is something meaningfully distinct.

“If you parcel out meaning from happiness, the happiness factor may go away,” says Dunn. “But, in terms of people’s daily experience, is it actually the case that people face genuine tradeoffs between happiness and meaning? I don’t think so.”

Can you have it all?

Baumeister, though, clearly believes it is useful to make distinctions between meaning and happiness—in part to encourage more people to seek meaningful pursuits in life whether or not doing so makes them feel happy. Still, he recognizes that the two are closely tied.

“Having a meaningful life contributes to being happy and being happy may also contribute to finding life more meaningful,” he says. “I think that there’s evidence for both of those.”

But one piece of warning: If you are aiming strictly for a life of hedonic pleasure, you may be on the wrong path to finding happiness. “For centuries, traditional wisdom has been that simply seeking pleasure for its own sake doesn’t really make you happy in the long run,” he says.

In fact, seeking happiness without meaning would probably be a stressful, aggravating, and annoying proposition, argues Baumeister.

Instead, when aspiring to a well-lived life, it might make more sense to look for things you find meaningful—deep relationships, altruism, and purposeful self-expression, for example—than to look for pleasure alone… even if pleasure augments one’s sense of meaning, as King suggests.

“Work toward long-term goals; do things that society holds in high regard—for achievement or moral reasons,” he says. “You draw meaning from a larger context, so you need to look beyond yourself to find the purpose in what you’re doing.”

Chances are that you’ll also find pleasure—and happiness—along the way.




The Science of Happiness. A free eight-week course on living a happy and meaningful life.


Register now for the acclaimed online course, re-launching September 8, 2015

A free online course exploring the roots of a happy, meaningful life. Co-taught by the GGSC’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas.

Enroll here  :


imgresThe Science of Happiness

The first MOOC to teach positive psychology. Learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life.

“A free eight-week Science of Happiness course that will offer practical, research-backed tips on living a happy and meaningful life.”  – The Huffington Post

Because the sun will shine again! How to Burn Major Calories in 6 Minutes before Breakfast

6-Minute Morning Workout

6 minute morning workout!

Morning workouts don’t just have an impact on your health, but it also helps you set the tone for the rest of the day.

University of Michigan reported that working out in the morning not only elevates your metabolism, increasing the amount of calories your body burns but also improves your sleep cycle and boosts energy by getting an endorphin rush.

With all the added benefits morning workouts provide, squeezing in your sweat session before jumping into shower is not just about exercise, it’s a way of life that supports weight loss, optimum health and positive outlook on the day (and life!).

If that’s not enough for you, how does burning major calories in 6 minutes before breakfast sound?

Too good? Check this out.

Science says 4 minutes is enough for burning major calories.

Dr. Tabata who studied training protocols to effectively train an Olympic skater found that 4 minutes of HIIT can increase both your aerobic and anaerobic capacity and boost your resting metabolic rate more than long and steady cardio workouts.

The secret to this staggering result is in the workout intensity.

Tabata protocol (yes, you guessed it! That same doctor ended up coming up with his own protocol and it’s widely used amongst professional athletes and fitness gurus.) is done in a way that you alternate high intensity exercise with a little rest and complete several rounds.

The result is, you trigger the affterburn effect. It’s the effect you only get to achieve when you max out yourself.

Your body simply gets a heavy load of work that it takes energy to come back to the pre-exercise state.

This means, you burn major calories during the 4 minutes up to 48 hours post workout.

To sum up, your calories burned from this extremely short workout is greater than some 45 minute cardio workout that only burns calories while you are on the treadmill, not after.

Whether you are looking to kick start your energy for the day or jump start your metabolism to burn more and lose fat, this workout is definitely worth giving it a try.

This 6-minute morning workout is a HIIT style workout that uses 4 best bodyweight exercises that target various parts of your body including your most stubborn body parts: butt, thighs, abs, and back of your arms (triceps).


Let’s take a look at each exercise and what body part it works to tone and slim down:

Squats: Squats are the secret weapon to slimmer thighs, firmer butt and leaner legs.

Almost all workout routines that have squats burn more calories than the ones without! and we are not exaggerating. Squats are that effective at burning major calories and toning the butt, hips and legs.

When considering squat’s primary target, the gluteus maximus (gluteus) being the largest muscle out of over 600 skeletal muscles in your body, it’s no surprise that squats burn more calories than others that target smaller muscles by expending the most amount of energy.

Push-ups: Pushup is a classic bodyweight exercise that strengthens your body and sculpts your upper body. Push-ups are often considered an arm or shoulder workout, but in fact, it has a high core engagement.

It engages the entire core just as planks do, but more intensely than a simple plank hold (because of the pushup motions).

It’s a great way to get a stronger core, melt your body fat and lose the stomach rolls without actually doing an “abs workout”.

Push-up, by the way, is by far the best full-body or upper body exercise you can do just with your bodyweight. You can’t go wrong with it.

Plank: The plank does everything from engaging the abs to sculpting your entire midsection. It is excellent at working every part of your stomach and not leaving a bit of stomach flab on the table.

It wipes out your stomach fat and gives you a stronger core if you incorporate planks into your daily routines.

As effective as it can be, its simplicity tends to get people underestimate the power of an isometric hold.

While most abs and core exercises involve dynamic movements, plank is done by simply holding the plank position for 30-60 second.

By doing so, it has the benefit of reaching the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and strengthening them.

According to Dr. Jinger Gottschall, assistant professor of Kinesiology at Penn State University, the plank is a superior core exercise to the crunch or sit-up because it provides “more three-dimensional activation, from hip to shoulder, whereas the crunch is an isolated move that hits just your abs.” She came to this conclusion after researching the benefits of planks and comparing them with other popular and most widely performed exercises such as sit-ups and crunches.

She adds that planks not only strengthen the core, but also the shoulders and hips—and you can improve your balance if you do variations with your arm or leg.

Bicycle Crunch: Although the basic crunch may not be as strong of an exercise as the plank, it’s variant, the bicycle crunch is a different breed.

According to a study sponsored by ACE, the bicycle crunch is one of the top abdominal exercises among 12 other abs workouts.

The bicycle crunch not only works the six-pack muscles (the outer layer abdominal muscles) but also the obliques, giving you a slimmer waistline.

For all your love handle problem, leave it to the bicycle crunch.

It can make it disappear by melting all the fat away from the sides of your stomach.

HIIT, short for high-intensity-interval training not only burns calories and fat during the workout but also continues to burn calories hours after your session (unlike a typical low to moderate 30 minute cardio workout.)


6 Minute Morning Workout Routine by Fitwirr

Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat or gain lean muscle tone, this HIIT total-body workout will rev up your metabolism and make body more efficient at burning fat.

Not having enough time to workout is no longer an excuse to skip your routine, get up 6 minutes earlier every morning to crush calories and burn fat before breakfast and shower.

“Get this 6-Minute Morning Workout in. You’ll have a reason to shower.”

It’ll not only give you a reason to shower but also set your day right before heading out the door.

Do this short yet intense workout before your morning shower to get fit and lean.

Complete all four moves in sequence with minimal rest in between the exercises. Do 1-3 sets.

6 Minute Morning Workout Routine

A1: Squats

How to Do Squats

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Contract your abs and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  3. Pause, and return back up to the starting position. Continue for the prescribe number of repetitions.

A2: Push-ups

How to Do a Push-up

  1. Get down on all your fours in a pushup position with your arms straight and your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  3. Pause, and then push back up. Continue for the prescribe number of repetitions

B1: Plank Exercise

How to Do a Plank Exercise

  1. Get down on the floor and lay face down on your stomach and bend your elbows and rest your weight no your forearms and not on your hands.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles. brace your abs and Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine.?

B2: Bicycle Crunch

How to Do Bicycle Crunches

  1. Lie flat on the floor with lower back on the ground. Put your hands behind your head, without locking your fingers together then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blade off the ground.
  2. Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee.
  3. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows. Now switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep.
  4. Continue alternating from side to side until completing the prescribed number of reps.

If you enjoy this 6-minute morning workout, then you’ll love performing our 6-Minute Daily Workouts for the next 30 days. Each day you’ll do the Workout of the Day for 6 minutes to burn calories and burn fat before jumping into the shower. You’ll love the results after the 30 days!





by Misato Alexandre In Beginner’s Workout Guide


23 Natural Alternatives for Depression

Help combat depression the natural way
23 Natural Alternatives for depression

Many people unfortunately have struggled and continue to struggle with feelings of depression, general sadness, or intense sorrow and grief.

Plant products have historically been consumed and utilised for their nutritive and holistic benefits. Many plant materials are being researched for their therapeutic value for our mental health. Here are 23 natural substances, which can help to optimise our biochemistry, neurotransmitters and address nutrient deficiencies.


  1. Kava is safe and effective in treating anxiety disorders and depression.
  2. L-tryptophan is as effective as imipramine in treating depression.
  3. Saffron may be of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mild to moderate depression and has similar efficacy as the drug imipramine.
  4. St. John’s Wort is as effective as Selective Serotoin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) in the treatment of Depressive Disorder, with a greater safety rating.
  5. St. John’s Wort’s cortisol reducing effect in brain may contribute to anti-depressive effect.
  6. Blue-green algae improves quality of life, mood, anxiety and depressive attitude in menopausal women.
  7. The omega-3 fatty acid EPA is as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in treating major depressive disorder.
  8. Goji improves sense of well-being and other indicators of good health.
  9. Homeopathic medicine is as effective and better tolerated than Prozac (fluoxetine) in the treatment of acute depression.
  10. Lavender fragrance had a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression in women college students.
  11. Lion’s Mane mushroom intake results in a reduction of depression and anxiety in mice by 4 weeks.
  12. Motherwort improves symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with arterial hypertension.
  13. Omega-3 fatty acids were shown to be more effective than placebo for depression in both adults and children in small controlled studies and in an open study of bipolar depression.
  14. Rhodiola shows anti-depressive potency in patients with mild to moderate depression.
  15. Dietary intake of zinc was inversely associated with depression.
  16. Curcumin exhibits antidepressant properties.
  17. Lobelia has antidepressant properties.
  18. Nutmeg demonstrates antidepressant activity.
  19. Onion powder has an antidepressant-like effect in a rat behavioral model of depression.
  20. Panax ginseng extract exhibits antidepressant activity.
  21. Rosemary exhibits antidepressant action probably through the monoaminergic system.
  22. Valerian extract has anxiety-reducing and anti-depressant effects, but is not a sedative and does not interfere with muscle function.
  23. Folate may have a therapeutic role in treating depressive symptoms.



Chronic Pain and Craniosacral Therapy, Part 2

Can you recall a time you experienced a paper cut or were pricked by a thorn? Remember how sensitive your finger was to touch or perhaps to the slightest movement? The pain receptors in the area became easily stimulated, even with slight pressure. Yet, in a few days, the sensitivity decreased.

With chronic pain, the sensitivity does not decrease. Entire areas of the body might stay in a state of overwhelming sensitivity and pain. Nervous system tissue reacting in this way is referred to as being “facilitated,” which means the pain cells and pain pathways are overly reactive. Excessively reactive pain cells will tend to lose their ability to modulate input. It’s as though a magnifying glass is amplifying a vast and abnormal amount of sensory information into the area. This can then cause abnormal changes in the structure and function of the tissue innervated by the area of the affected spinal cord neurons, thus maintaining the sensation of chronic pain.

The facilitated sensory input might even cascade into other regions of the spinal cord and brain. The overflow of signals can irritate brain regions, leading to the ongoing perception of pain and the symptoms that often accompany chronic pain. Disturbance of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (sympathetics) often will lead to widespread bodily dysfunction. The sympathetic turmoil also contributes to chronic pain. “The sympathetics control the caliber of most of the vessels of the body. When the sympathetics are hyperirritable in a given area, in a given segment or in a peripheral distribution, there is a tendency for either exaggerated vasoconstriction or vasodilation. This contributes to chaos and the perpetuation of pathology. When you control the blood supply to a given area, you control its life; you control its capacity for recovery, its capacity to survive and maintain its integrity as a tissue.”7

Table illustrating path of chronic pain. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The vascular stress caused by sympathetic nervous system imbalance can lead to more tissue aggravation and pain signaling. Also, “the sympathetic nervous system is an important participant in the maintenance of splinting.”8 Splinting is one way the body tries to avoid feeling pain – by rigidly contracting the muscles so minimal movement will occur. In these many ways, the unbridled responsive region(s) of the central and autonomic nervous systems might maintain the feeling of pain. This process also can produce a vast adverse affect on tissues such as nervous system cells, vascular structures, skeletal muscles, smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, glands, connective tissue, fascia, osseous tissue, skin and viscera.

What does all this mean to the bodywork practitioner? Simply put, normal tissue mobility is essential for this healing process, which is critical in addressing chronic pain. Enhanced mobility can help normalize vascular flow, decrease metabolic waste buildup, aid normal neural structure and function, de-facilitate affected spinal cord and brain areas, decrease adaptive body patterns that might be maintaining chronic-pain signals, and normalize autonomic nervous system function, thus decreasing abnormal strain on the associated somatic and visceral structures.

All this can help the body decrease the enormous strain chronic pain places on it, and help free the body from related suffering. In this highly individualized way, CranioSacral therapy might enhance the body’s ability to naturally correct the imbalance and dysfunction that might be contributing to painful patterns. CranioSacral therapy can assist the body in changing abnormal tissue-strain patterns residing in the depths of the brain and spinal cord, throughout the musculoskeletal system, and in the body as a whole. CST also can be used in combination with massage and other manual therapies as an effective treatment for chronic pain conditions.

References (for parts 1 and 2)

  1. Sternberg, S. “Chronic Pain: The Enemy Within.” USA Today, May 9, 2005.
  2. Purves, D., et al. Neuroscience. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland Massachusetts, 2001.
  3. Lidbeck, J. “Central Hyperexcitability in Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Conceptual Breakthrough with Multiple Clinical Implications,” Pain Management Clinic, Helsingborg, Sweden, Winter 2002.
  4. Torsney, C., and MacDermott, A.B. “A Painful Factor.” Nature, Vol. 438, December 2005.
  5. McCleskey, E.W. “New Player in Pain.” Nature, Vol. 424, August 2003.
  6. Upledger, J.E. “The Facilitated Segment.” Massage Therapy Journal, Summer 1989.
  7. Peterson, B. “The Collected Papers of Irvin M. Korr.” American Academy of Osteopathy, 1995.
  8. Peterson, B. “The Collected Papers of Irvin M. Korr.” American Academy of Osteopathy, 1995.



Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D, is a certified instructor for The Upledger Institute, where he was a staff clinician for more than five years. He earned his diploma in massage therapy in 1987 from the Swedish Institute of Massage and Allied Health Sciences in New York City. He currently runs a private practice in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area specializing in CranioSacral Therapy.




Chronic Pain and Craniosacral Therapy, Part 1

Craniosacral Therapy has proven to be a powerful complement to massage therapy in addressing chronic pain.

While massage can effectively address abnormal somatic patterns through the musculoskeletal system, CST approaches somatic disturbances through the craniosacral, fascial and central nervous systems.

Chronic pain can range from mild tissue irritation to intense suffering and disability affecting an individual’s entire body, psyche and life. What’s more, the perception of pain often persists long after the injured tissue has healed. This can cause compensatory patterns that continue to maintain the sensation of pain, eventually leading to abnormal somatic and visceral changes that frequently mask the primary cause of the chronic pain. “Nineteen percent of American adults, almost one in five, suffer from chronic pain.”1

CranioSacral Therapy can be used to identify and help the body change core patterns contributing to chronic pain. It also effectively addresses its associated symptoms, such as musculoskeletal imbalance, trigger points, myofascial dysfunction, chronic fatigue, immune system dysfunction, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, endocrine system dysfunction, stress, anxiety, hypothalamic dysfunction and sleep difficulties.

Irritation and abnormal activity of pain-processing elements and circuits throughout the body and nervous system contribute to chronic pain. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Figure 1:

Irritation and abnormal activity of pain-processing elements and circuits throughout the body and nervous system contribute to chronic pain.Chronic pain has a multitude of causes, including congenital disorders, spinal disorders, musculoskeletal imbalance, compensatory patterns, surgery, scar tissue, disease processes, trauma, infection, overuse, disuse and misuse. “The common denominator of conditions that cause chronic pain is irritation of the nociceptive (pain cell) endings, axons, or processing circuits causing abnormal activity that is interpreted as pain.”2

Recent research points to central nervous system adaptation as a common contributor to chronic pain. “Many chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes – including regional myofascial pain syndromes, whiplash pain syndromes, refractory work-related neck/shoulder pain, certain types of chronic low back pain, fibromyalgia and others – essentially might be explained by abnormalities in central pain modulation.”3

Body tissue often responds to pain through habitual muscle tension, postural distortion, diminished tissue mobility, thickening and congestion of the fascia, decreased blood flow to painful areas, a build-up of metabolic waste products, adverse strain on the peripheral, central and autonomic nervous system tissues, and an overall sense of fatigue.

Persistent peripheral nerve strain due to muscular imbalance, tension, injury or infection might lead to a flood of chronic activity and excessive sensitivity of local nociceptors. This can cause a continual bombardment of signals into the central nervous system. It’s as though there is a constant roar of pain information focused on the brain and spinal cord.

Body Response to Chronic Pain. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Figure 2:

Body Response to Chronic Pain.The central nervous system tissue might respond by undergoing any number of adaptive changes. Thickening and inflammation of the membrane layers surrounding the spinal cord and brain might occur, leading to irritation and lack of normal motion of central nervous system tissue, imbalance and restricted mobility of the spinal column, or adverse strain on the peripheral nervous system.

Spinal cord neurons receiving chronic pain signals from the periphery also can undergo long-term change due to the activation of microglial cells (central nervous system immune cells), because abnormally increased sensitivity (sensitization) of the nerve cells might occur. This can maintain a state of overwhelming activity of the pain pathways, thus causing constant pain sensation.

Normally, there is a balance of inhibitory and excitatory stimulation where the pain cell synapses (communicates) with the spinal cord neuron. However, decrease of inhibition at the synapse might occur. When this takes place, the neuron will tend to stay in a state of stimulation. This is another cause of excessive sensitivity and activity of pain pathway and chronic pain sensation.4

The spinal cord neurons and glial cells normally produce neurotrophic (vitalizing) elements that are transported to the innervated tissue. A distortion in this supply might occur, leading to tissue devitalization and irritation.5 This can lead to a further decrease of normal tissue mobility, which can increase irritation and chronic-pain signals. The nociceptor cells also produce elements secreted by the nerve cell endings (terminal ends) when they’re stimulated. These elements create inflammation and heightened sensation of the endings which, in turn, cause the terminal ends to overreact to stimulus and increase the area they receive stimulus from.

This might further create abnormal activity of the pain pathway, which can cause a loop of pain signal dysfunction from the periphery throughout the spinal cord, the autonomic nervous system and the brain. “A very small stimulus which might otherwise be censored out may cause an inappropriately large and indiscriminately wide-ranged neuronal response.”6



Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D, is a certified instructor for The Upledger Institute, where he was a staff clinician for more than five years. He earned his diploma in massage therapy in 1987 from the Swedish Institute of Massage and Allied Health Sciences in New York City. He currently runs a private practice in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area specializing in CranioSacral Therapy.