February 23, 2009

SDSU 25th Annual Writers's Conference - Editor's Choice Award

I received this award (much to my surprise) for the first 10 pages of my manuscript I had submitted for an advanced reading session with Katherine Nintzel.
Ms. Nintzel is an editor with HarperCollins.

February 18, 2009

How To Turn Into Wolverine (without the adamantium skeleton) -- X-MEN Series ½

Mens sana in corpore sano.” (Juvenal, The Satires )

A healthy mind in a healthy body.

Have any of you heard this one before? No? Yes? Well, either way I’m gonna talk about it (or should it be write?). I want to address what this is all about. Okay, not all per se, but, you know . . . talk about what it could potentially mean. Uh, one of its potential meanings anyway. According to my interpretation that is . . . Uh . . . How 'bout we start over?

*Cough. Cough.*

Today, I’d like to talk about how we could use our super powers to heal ourselves. Kind of like Wolverine in X-Men. You know, the one with the wacky hair and long pointy thingies coming out of his hands? (You can see him on the picture on the right. I know, I know. He’s easy to miss when you’ve got your eyes on Gambit. I mean, who can notice anyone else when you’ve got that hot guy being all sarcastic in that cute, Cajun voice?).

Uh. Getting sidetracked again. Oh. Yeah.
Before we go any further, I need to put in a disclaimer: Anything said in today’s post is what this author’s discovered in her research on the topic and, occasionally, her own belief. It doesn’t mean that any of you should ever forego going to the doctor’s entirely (no matter how much this author distrusts them. Really!).

So I’ve talked in past blogs about how our thoughts have a very strong influence on our lives, that, depending on how strong our faith/intent is, we can make things happen according to our wishes.

Now, what if that wish were to make ourselves heal? (See the Wolverine connection here? Huh?)
Here's a story I read about a man who managed t cure himself of a terrible heart disease:

“It involves a man in his 20s who’d been diagnosed with a rare heart condition that his doctors believed was fatal. [He was m]arried with two small children. By the time Neville (a 20th century visionary from Barbados who described our ability to make our dreams a reality and bring imagination to life) was asked to speak with him, the man had lost a tremendous amount of weigh and “shrunk to almost a skeleton.” He was so weak that even conversation was hard for him, but he agreed to simply listen and nod his understanding as Neville shared with him the power of his beliefs.
. . .Neville asked the man to experience himself as if his healing had already taken place. (...) He suggested that, in imagination, he see the doctor’s face expressing incredulous amazement in finding him recovered, contrary to all reason, from the last stages of an incurable disease . . ..
Well, . . .the fellow did get better. Months later, the visionary received a letter telling him that the young man had, in fact, made a truly miraculous recovery.
. . .The secret, the man revealed, was that rather than simply wishing for his health, since the day of their meeting, he had lived from the ‘assumption of already being well and healed.’” (Gregg Braden, The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles, and Belief).

A true miracle, as his doctor said. But was it? Was it truly a miracle?
What this guy did was change his way of thinking about himself. He saw himself healthy and he became healthy. Could it be that all the people who go to, say, Lourdes to get cured get cured because in their own minds they know they will be healthy again in some kind of placebo sort of way?

This would mean that positive thinking (again) is the key to self-healing. (OK, don’t see how Wolverine did it then, since he’s always so cranky, unless he’s always been a really peppy guy deep inside but hid it so people would take him seriously?)

This idea isn’t a new one (I'm not talking about Wolverine anymore, I'm talking about positive thinking. Follow, people!). In fact, it’s a really old one (I’ll talk about this later, in another, non-X-Men post). Even the United States’ founders (or some of them at least) believed in the fact that “because mind and body were assumed to be closely connected--as physician and Declaration-of-Independence signer Benjamin Rush had . . .indicated in 1811--it was taken for granted that harmonizing one’s emotions in a positive way would, unquestionably, improve one’s physical well-being.” (United State National Library of Medicine)

But why is this possible? What’s going on behind the scenes? How is it that our thoughts, our will, have such power? If it is all an 'energy thing,' how does it work?

Any ideas?


PS: Did you know that it’s out of this type of thinking that Alcoholics Anonymous was created? Yep, yep. Pretty nifty, huh?
PS2: Don’t know where or when you’re going to use that fact, but I thought it was cool.
PS3: For those of you who like Gambit as much as I do, here's a picture of him too! (Wow, I just rhymed!)
PS4: OK. Signing out for real now. Bye.

February 2, 2009

Meditation - A Way Of Life

In response to a comment made on my previous post, I would like to address the topic of meditation. The definition from Wikipedia reads:
Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflexive, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.

Turns out, it is a practice that transcends all religions and beliefs, and there are so many ways to meditate that it would be impossible for me to describe them all.

Yet, they are all supposed to help us tune out the constant chattering in our minds thereby increasing our awareness of the here and now, of ourselves, and our environment. I believe that the practice of Qi Gong summarizes the basic workings of meditation pretty well: meditation allows you to regulate your own flow of energy, or qi.

The practice of meditation has gained popularity all around the globe, including the Western world, and more scientists are looking into its physical benefits:

“Research has shown that consciousness can be altered by meditation, resulting in greater creativity, peace of mind, and health. In tests done at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, those who meditated showed markedly more electrical activity in their left prefrontal cortex - the area of the brain associated with positive emotions.” (Lost Star of Myth and Time, Walter Cruttenden).

“The random-effects meta-analysis model for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively, indicated that Transcendental Meditation, compared to control, was associated with [a drop in blood pressure].” (American Journal of Hypertension, 2008).

Another study, held by Richard Cavisdson of the University of Washington, showed that those who meditated created more antibodies to a flu vaccine than others who didn’t.

Granted, there are many who doubt these results and it will probably take many more tests before most of mainstream scientists accept them. However, it appears there is a true, solid link between meditation and the positive health effects seen here (amongst many others not named), including effects on our own brain.

Antoine Lutz at the Waisman Lab for Brain Imaging & Behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that meditation causes immediate changes in brain waves, and can also cause longer-term alterations in the structure of the brain itself. These brain structure changes include, according to Sara Lazar of Harvard Medical School, a thicker cortex (outer layer of the brain).

It certainly looks to me like meditation does have its merits and I may get into it one of these days. After all, being a cloistered monk sitting down all day long is not the only way to meditate like I once believed, but it is more than just “simple” exercises too. It is a way of life.

Now, all this makes me wonder: is it possible to consciously control your own energy, your own qi, through meditation? And how far can it go, how much can one accomplish through it? What do you think?