Natural Healing for the Flu

This has been one of the worst flu seasons in decades. As bad as it has been there are a number of natural healing approaches to help reduce the symptoms. I often use Chair Massage to reduce the respiratory symptoms.

Let’s start with the basics. Influenza, commonly known as “the flu“, is an infectious diseasecaused by an influenza virus.

 

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Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: a high feverrunny nosesore throatmuscle painsheadachecoughing, and fee

This has been one of the worst flu seasons in decades. As bad as it has been there are a number of natural healing approaches to help reduce the symptoms.

Let’s start with the basics. Influenza, commonly known as “the flu“, is an infectious diseasecaused by an influenza virus.

Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: a high feverrunny nosesore throatmuscle painsheadachecoughing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks.[1] In children, there may be nauseaand vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Nausea and vomiting occur more commonly in the unrelated infection gastroenteritis, which is sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or the “24-hour flu”. Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumoniasinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.

Three types of influenza viruses affect people, called Type A, Type B, and Type C. Usually, the virus is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes.[1] This is believed to occur mostly over relatively short distances. It can also be spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus and then touching the mouth or eyes. A person may be infectious to others both before and during the time they are showing symptoms. The infection may be confirmed by testing the throat, sputum, or nose for the virus. A number of rapid tests are available; however, people may still have the infection if the results are negative.  A type of polymerase chain reaction that detects the virus’s RNA is more accurate.

Frequent hand washing reduces the risk of viral spread. Wearing a surgical mask is also useful. And of course there are  vaccinations against influenza which are recommended by the World Health Organization for those at high risk but are a source of controversy.

 

Symptoms of influenza may include:

It can be difficult to distinguish between the common cold and influenza in the early stages of these infections. Influenza is a mixture of symptoms of common cold and pneumonia, body ache, headache, and fatigue. Diarrhea is not normally a symptom of influenza in adults,  although it has been seen in some human cases of the H5N1 “bird flu  and can be a symptom in children.The symptoms most reliably seen in influenza are shown in the adjacent table.

 

A few tips recommended by various healers include the following:

  • Oregano Oil
  • Olive Leaf Extract
  • Ester C
  • Zinc
  • Homeopathic remedies

If you have an interest in having a basic understanding of personal development and natural healing (and you need to) here is an interview I did with James Selman, a pioneer and innovator in Leadership research.

 

Just click below to watch the entire interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRf87puZPY

 

oooooooooooooooooo

Listen here as Lewis explain how we can give up unnecessary struggle through visionary thinking in this insightful interview with award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project

 

Here is a great book on hands-on healing

 

http://realuguru.com/products/printed-books/hands-on-healing/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison is the director of the Academy of Natural Healing at the International Association of Healing Professionals.

 

To learn more about our classes self-healing and personal development go to: http://healingassociation.com/ and click on “Certification Courses”

 

Lewis is also founder of the RealUGuru Project Think Tank is a is a life coach, peak performance expert, writer, mentor, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to study with Lewis Harrison. Begin by reading  Lewis’ books.

If you are an entrepreneur you will want to begin with his books on game theory and business success.  Here are two basic ones to start with:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

The offerings on RealUGuru.com focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

This blog is sponsored by the New York City Chair Massage Company at  www.eventschairmassage.com, supplying stress management services to event and meeting planners for trade shows throughout the United States.

The New York City Chair Massage Company  offers stress management as well as the best chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Problems

 

If you have digestive challenges caused by abnormal yeast, bacteria or parasites there are many botanical and nutritional therapies that can be of help.

 

Among the first approaches suggested one may wish to take:

  • Assess specialized issues such as allergies or sensitivities to wheat, gluten, corn, dairy eggs, chocolate.
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Increased soluble fiber intake
  • Fermented probiotic rich foods (Sauerkraut, Kefir, Tempeh, Yogurt, Kombucha).
  • Remove highly processed and junk food replacing them with whole foods, fewer carbohydrates, and a plant-based “organic” diet.
  • Get some “energy” or “Qi” based bodywork like Reiki, polarity therapy, or acupressure.
  • Explore Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Explore emotional and stress sources for your symptoms by going to a Holistic Doctor or naturopath.
  • Explore emotional sources for the symptoms and consider working with a somatic therapist
  • If none of this seems to make a difference consider an in depth medical evaluation including an endoscopy, blood work etc. If necessary see a gastroenterologist.
  • Go on a low FODMAP diet.

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They include short chain oligo-saccharide polymers of fructose (fructans) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS, stachyose,raffinose), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and sugar alcohols (polyols), such as sorbitol,mannitolxylitol and maltitol

The term FODMAP is an acronym, derived from “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. Although FODMAPs are naturally present in food and the human diet, FODMAP restriction has been found to improve symptom control in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). Prior to the formation of the FODMAP concept, diet was seldom used as first line therapy for management of IBS and other FGID.

Over many years, there have been multiple observations that ingestion of certain short-chain carbohydrates, including lactose, fructose and sorbitol, fructans and galactooligosaccharides, induced IBS-like symptoms. These studies also showed that dietary restriction of short-chain carbohydrates was associated with symptom improvement in some people with IBS.

These short-chain carbohydrates (lactose, fructose and sorbitol, fructans and GOS) behave similarly in the intestine. Firstly, being small molecules and either poorly absorbed or not absorbed at all, they drag water into the intestine via osmosis. Secondly, these molecules are readily fermented by colonic bacteria, so upon malabsorption in the small intestine they enter the large intestine where they generate gases (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane). The dual actions of these carbohydrates cause an expansion in volume of intestinal contents, which stretches the intestinal wall and stimulates nerves in the gut. It is this ‘stretching’ that triggers the sensations of pain and discomfort that are commonly experienced by IBS sufferers.

The FODMAP concept was first published in 2005 as part of a hypothesis paper.  In this paper, it was proposed that a collective reduction in the dietary intake of all indigestible or slowly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates would minimise stretching of the intestinal wall. This was proposed to reduce stimulation of the gut’s nervous system and provide the best chance of reducing symptom generation in people with IBS (see below). At the time, there was no collective term for indigestible or slowly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates, so the term ‘FODMAP’ was created to improve understanding and facilitate communication of the concept.[1]

The low FODMAP diet was originally developed by a research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The Monash team undertook the first research to investigate whether a low FODMAP diet improved symptom control in patients with IBS and established the mechanism by which the diet exerted its effect.  Monash University also established a rigorous food analysis program to measure the FODMAP content of a wide selection of Australian and international foods. The FODMAP composition data generated by Monash University updated previous data that was based on limited literature, with guesses (sometimes wrong) made where there was little information.

As a result of this program of research and FODMAP food analysis, a comprehensive and accurate database now exists describing the FODMAP content of food; scientists now understand the mechanism by which the diet works and there is sound evidence indicating that a low FODMAP diet improves symptom control in approximately three out of every four people with IBS and other FGIDs (such as simple bloating).

The basis of many functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) is distension of the intestinal lumen. Such luminal distension may induce pain, a sensation of bloatingabdominal distension and motility disorders. Therapeutic approaches seek to reduce factors that lead to distension, particularly of the distal small and proximal large intestine. Food substances that can induce distension are those that are poorly absorbed in the proximal small intestine, osmotically active, and fermented by intestinal bacteria with hydrogen (as opposed tomethane) production. The small molecule FODMAPs exhibit these characteristics.[

Poor absorption of most FODMAP carbohydrates is common to everyone. Any FODMAPs that are not absorbed in the small intestine pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. The resultant production of gas potentially results in bloating and flatulence. Most individuals do not suffer significant symptoms but some may suffer the symptoms of IBS. Restriction of FODMAP intake in the latter group has been found to result in improvement of symptoms.

Fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance may produce IBS symptoms through the same mechanism but, unlike with other FODMAPs, poor absorption is found only in a minority of people. Many who benefit from a low FODMAP diet need not restrict fructose or lactose. It is possible to identify these two conditions with hydrogenand methane breath testing and thus eliminate the necessity for dietary compliance if possible.

The significance of sources of FODMAPs varies through differences in dietary groups such as geography, ethnicity and other factors. Commonly used FODMAPs comprise the following:[

  • oligosaccharides, including fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides;
  • disaccharides, including lactose;
  • monosaccharides, including fructose;
  • polyols, including sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol.
  • Sources of fructans include wheat, rye, barley, onion, garlic, Jerusalem, and globe artichoke, beetroot, dandelion leaves, the white part of leeks, the white part of spring onion, brussels, sprouts, savoy cabbage and  prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS),  (oligofructose and inulin, Asparagus. fennelred cabbage  and radicchio radicchio contain moderate amounts but may be eaten if the advised portion size is observed.

Sources of galactans

Pulses and beans are the main dietary sources (though green beans, canned lentils, sprouted mung beans,tofu (not silken) and tempeh contain comparatively low amounts). Supplements of the enzyme supplement alpha-galactosidase may reduce symptoms (if brands containing other FODMAPs are avoided).

Sources of polyols

Polyols are found naturally in some fruit (particularly stone fruits),including applesapricotsavocados,blackberriescherrieslycheesnectarinespeachespearsplumspruneswatermelon and some vegetables, including cauliflower, mushrooms and mange-tout peas. They are also used as bulk sweeteners and include isomalt, maltitol, mannitolsorbitol and xylitolCabbagechicory and fennel contain moderate amounts but may be eaten if the advised portion size is observed.

Fructose and lactose

People following a low-FODMAP diet may be able to tolerate moderate amounts of fructose and lactose, particularly if they have lactase persistence.

Sources of fructose

Main article: Fructose malabsorption § Foods with high fructose content.

 

Sources of lactose

Main article: Lactose intolerance § Avoiding lactose-containing products

Low-FODMAP diet suggested foods

Below are low-FODMAP foods categorized by group according to the Monash University “Low FODMAP Diet”.

  • Vegetables: alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, chives, fresh herbs, choy sum, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, the green parts of leeks and spring onions
  • Fruits: orange, grapes, melon
  • Protein: meats, fish, chicken, tofu(not silken), tempeh
  • Dairy: lactose-free milk, lactose-free yoghurts, hard cheese
  • Breads and cereals: gluten-freebread and sourdough spelt bread, crisped rice, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, and quinoa
  • Biscuits (cookies) and snacks: gluten-free biscuits, rice cakes, corn thins
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds(no more than 10 nuts per serving), pumpkin seeds; not cashews or pistachios
  • Beverage options: water, coffeetea

Other sources confirm the suitability of these and suggest some additional foods.

Effectiveness and Nutritional Adequacy

Evidence from randomized trials indicates that a low FODMAP diet might help to treat irritable bowel syndrome in adults and in children.  A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis supports the efficacy of this diet in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS although the evidence is less good for constipation.

There is only a little evidence of effectiveness in treating functional symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease from small studies which are susceptible to bias.

In common with other defined diets, the low FODMAP diet can be impractical to follow, and risks imposing an undue financial burden and worsening malnutrition

 

 

 

If you have an interest in having a basic understanding of personal development and natural healing (and you need to) here is an interview I did with James Selman, a pioneer and innovator in Leadership research.

 

Just click below to watch the entire interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRf87puZPY

 

oooooooooooooooooo

Listen here as Lewis explain how we can give up unnecessary struggle through visionary thinking in this insightful interview with award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project

 

Here is a great book on hands-on healing

 

http://realuguru.com/products/printed-books/hands-on-healing/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison is the director of the Academy of Natural Healing at the International Association of Healing Professionals.

 

To learn more about our classes self-healing and personal development go to: http://healingassociation.com/ and click on “Certification Courses”

 

Lewis is also founder of the RealUGuru Project Think Tank is a is a life coach, peak performance expert, writer, mentor, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to study with Lewis Harrison. Begin by reading  Lewis’ books.

If you are an entrepreneur you will want to begin with his books on game theory and business success.  Here are two basic ones to start with:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

The offerings on RealUGuru.com focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

This blog is sponsored by the New York City Chair Massage Company at  www.eventschairmassage.com, supplying stress management services to event and meeting planners for trade shows throughout the United States.

The New York City Chair Massage Company  offers stress management as well as the best chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

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http://digg.com/video/gymnastics-whip-nae-nae-dab?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg

 

 

If you have an interest in having a basic understanding of personal development and natural healing (and you need to) here is an interview I did with James Selman, a pioneer and innovator in Leadership research.

 

Just click below to watch the entire interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRf87puZPY

 

oooooooooooooooooo

Listen here as Lewis explain how we can give up unnecessary struggle through visionary thinking in this insightful interview with award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project

 

Here is a great book on hands-on healing

 

http://realuguru.com/products/printed-books/hands-on-healing/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison is the director of the Academy of Natural Healing at the International Association of Healing Professionals.

 

To learn more about our classes self-healing and personal development go to: http://healingassociation.com/ and click on “Certification Courses”

 

Lewis is also founder of the RealUGuru Project Think Tank is a is a life coach, peak performance expert, writer, mentor, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to study with Lewis Harrison. Begin by reading  Lewis’ books.

If you are an entrepreneur you will want to begin with his books on game theory and business success.  Here are two basic ones to start with:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

The offerings on RealUGuru.com focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

This blog is sponsored by the New York City Chair Massage Company at  www.eventschairmassage.com, supplying stress management services to event and meeting planners for trade shows throughout the United States.

The New York City Chair Massage Company  offers stress management as well as the best chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Most of my blog posts are  extracted from one of the books I am working on or a guest “Blog” from one of my peers, friends or guests on my radio show at WIOX 91.3 FM.

My radio show broadcasts every Thursday 4-6 PM (EST) at:

 

 

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

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Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, clarity of thought, emotional balance, human potential, stress reduction business excellence, and love and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. Picture, 43

Opinion 26

Status of what you are doing 26

Links to articles 26%

Personal recommendations 25%

News items 22

Links to other website 21%

Video clips.

Lists

 

 

Strategies and Techniques For Handling Resistant or Reluctant Clients

I have learned that no matter how good a healer or chair massage therapist

 

If you enjoyed this blog I recommend this book.

Order it by clicking below.

 

eBOOK

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/winning-the-game-of-life-a-primer-on-lewis-harrisons-applied-game-theory/

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Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a master lifehacker, writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

Today’s stress management blog is supported by a grant from Events  Chair Massage –www.EventschairMasssage.com –  a company that offers Corporate Chair Massage and Stress Management Services to meeting planner, event planners, party planners and HR for Trade show booths throughout the United States.

 

NYC Chair Massage reviews

 

Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNSDH-0bZk

 

 

 

 

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For more tips like this please “Like” my page

https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality, OpiodAddiction and Chair massage

 

 

http://digg.com/2017/virtual-reality-pain-relief?utm_source=digg&utm_medium=email

Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their  clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNSDH-0bZk

If you enjoyed this blog I recommend this book.

Order it by clicking below.

 

eBOOK

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/winning-the-game-of-life-a-primer-on-lewis-harrisons-applied-game-theory/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a master lifehacker, writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

Today’s stress management blog is supported by a grant from Events  Chair Massage –www.EventschairMasssage.com –  a company that offers Corporate Chair Massage and Stress Management Services to meeting planner, event planners, party planners and HR for Trade show booths throughout the United States.

 

 

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Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their  clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNSDH-0bZk

 

 

Use these words in blogs – New, easy, bargain, guarantee, shown to, you

Jan .3 DONE

Laughter Therapy

I learned about a new and easy approach to healing recently. This healing technique has been shown to have miraculous results for many people.

I learned about Laughter Therapy a few weeks back at  a Holistic Wellness Conference with The New York City Chair Massage Company – www.eventschairmassage.com

 

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We recently had a chair massage conference at out B & B in Stamford NY. Some of the attendees we on gluten free diets and wanted to eat cakes breads and pastries. Nut flours came to the rescue.

When you bake you don’t have to use wheat flour or the gluten-free rice or potato based flours. An alternative are nut flours especially almond or hazelnut flour.

Almond meal, almond flour or ground almond is made from ground sweet almonds. Almond flour is usually made with blanched almonds (no skin), whereas almond meal can be made both with whole or blanched almonds. The consistency is more like corn meal than wheat flour.

Almond meal has recently become important in baking items for those on low carbohydrate diets. It adds moistness and a rich nutty taste to baked goods. Items baked with almond meal tend to be calorie-dense.

If you are looking to lose weight or reduce your cholesterol levels nut flours are great. They are low carb and almonds have high levels of polyunsaturated fats in them. Typically, the omega 6 fatty acids in almonds are protected from oxidation by the surface skin and high vitamin E content. When almonds are ground, this protective skin is broken and exposed surface area increases dramatically, greatly enhancing the nut’s tendency to oxidize so the flour needs to be refrigerated and used quickly..

Nut flours work best in pastry and confectionery  especially in the manufacture of almond macarons and macaroons and other sweet pastries, in cake and pie filling, such as Sachertorte – and is one of the two main ingredients of marzipan and almond paste. In France, almond meal is an important ingredient in frangipane, the filling of traditional galette des Rois cake.

 

many people get confused by the difference between Many are confused by the difference between almond flour and meal. Both are ground up almonds. Almond flour is most often made with blanched almonds (the skin has been removed through blanching), whereas almond meal can be made either with whole or blanched almonds. In both cases, the consistency is more like corn meal than wheat flour. Most cooks use them interchangeably, although using flour from blanched almonds will produce a more “refined”, less “grainy” result.

Some chef’s find that they can make a bread with nut flour if they mix the flour with very high gluten wheat flour. This can produce a high protein, low carb bread. This super-fine almond meal is not easy to fine but can be ordered on-line at specialty shops.

Almond flour is best used  in “quick-bread” type recipes, like nut breads, muffins, waffles and pancakes and some cakes. It’s not good for foods such as bread that require a real dough (you can’t knead it) unless you mix it with wheat flour and gluten. Usually, more eggs are will be added when baking with almond meal to provide more structure. This would  normally be provided by the gluten in wheat flour. Almond meal can also be used in breading fish and other fried foods, but it will burn quicker than Panko bread crumbs or other grain based crumbs.  If you are looking to add protein to recipes almond flour is also good since almonds are more nutrient-dense than grains.

As far as almond flour goes for increasing the quality of your nutrition intake, half a cup of ground almonds contains about 10 grams of total carbohydrate, 6 of which are fiber, for a net carb count of 4 grams of carbohydrate. That half cup also contains 10 grams of protein, 23 grams of fat, and 273 calories.

Many choose to make their own nut flour at home with a  blender or food processor. It takes a few tries to get this right since if you grind the almonds too long you will end up almond butter!

 

To get the relationship your seeking read the e book.

 

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/the-realugurus-guide-to-creating-maintaining-and-sustaining-healthy-relationships/

 

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For more articles like this as well as books, courses and seminars on how to be more efficient, effective and productive go to http://www.RealUGuru.com

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Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

Lewis more about Lewis work at www.RealUGuru.com

 

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

 

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/how-to-hack-your-life-through-game-thinking/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building Your Immunity with Probiotics

 

There are two aspects to dealing with a Cold.

 

There are a number of ways to do both. One of the most effective ways to build immunity is through the use of probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms  provide health benefits when consumed. Most people buy these products in a pharmacy or natural food store but there is a much more effective, potent and cost effective approach. Live probiotic cultures are available in fermented dairy products and probiotic fortified foods. Many fermented products are reported to contain lactic acid bacteria – a form of probiotic. These products  include pickled vegetables, fermented bean paste such as tempeh, miso, kefir, buttermilk (karnemelk,) yogurt, kimchi, pao cai, sauerkraut, and soy sauce.

 

Since I can easily and inexpensively make pickled vegetables, kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut with simple low cost ingredients I have a number of inexpensive health building hacks available to me. Why are probiotics so important to building immunity?  Probiotics work in the digestive system which house about 70% of your immune system. As the first line of defense the stomach produces the gastric acids that keep destructive bacteria under control. In is in the intestinal tract, an important part of the digestive system where probiotics support immune function, preventing pathogenic bacteria overgrowth and restore balance.

Recent studies have even shown that the healthier the bacteria in the gut the better cognitive function is possibly even reducing the chances of an individual being afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Get 100s of health tips, shortcuts and strategies in Lewis Harrison’s  new Ebook.

 

 

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/how-to-hack-your-life-through-game-thinking/

 

 

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Lewis Harrison – The RealUGuru, is a writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving, troubleshooting and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the “Life Hack Guru Radio Show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory, and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness, and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme health and healing challenges and problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

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The work of the International Association of healing professionals is supported by generous grants from Events Chair Massage a company

 – www.eventsChairMassage.com –  a company that offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Artist’s Way and Joseph Campbell’s Concept  – “Live Your Bliss”

 

I have a friend who is a very passionate Jazz musician. She lives in New Orleans and e-mails me interesting articles.

 

She sent me one today I’m going to share with you. It is about being kind, bringing out the best in others and living your passion.

 

Joseph Campbell always talked about living “your bliss”.

 

He derived this idea from the Upanishads , a sacred Hindu text. Here the word Ananda is often mentioned. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture.  Campbell saw this not merely as a mantra, but as a helpful guide to the individual along the journey that each of us walks through life:

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

Campbell began sharing this idea with students during his lectures in the 1970s. By the time that The Power of Myth was aired on PBS in 1988, six months following Campbell’s death, “Follow your bliss” was a philosophy that resonated deeply with the American public—both religious and secular.

While I was speaking at a stress management event I sat down in a corporate onsite chair massage book in the exhibitor area. Run by www.eventschairmassage.com I took the break time to read the article Estelle had sent me. It was about a

 

simple fellow named  Sunny who died a few months back at 81 years of age. He had seen the world lived in India, came home to Brooklyn and took over his families old bar. He was an artist and clearly “Lived His Bliss!”

 

He was a pure artist and brought joy to people who were sad. When he passed on it created a ripple so great that it became a story in the New York Times.

 

Enjoy, Live your Bliss, be kind and help sad people to be happy.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/12/nyregion/a-reluctant-barkeep-mourned-on-the-brooklyn-streets-that-called-him-home.html?emc=eta1

 

About the RealUGuru

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the senior teacher in the Wisdom Path Community,  an international network of practical philosophers, strategists, contemporary spiritual teachers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, corporate consultants, educators and social activists. An independent scholar in Applied Game Theory and a shaman’s apprentice through the 1970s and 80s Lewis began integrating his knowledge of creativity, philosophy, and mindfulness to the creation of wealth and success. Any profit made from his teachings goes to support various philanthropic projects including the International Association of Healer Professionals (www.Healing Association.com), The Catskills Art and Culture Festival (and the Maydolong Relief Fund.

 

If you have an interest in Lewis work beyond the scope of “The RealUGuru Guides” you may wish to explore his many published books including those in the 24 volume series “The Teachings of Lewis Harrison”.

 

Lewis can always be reached by E-mail. At LewisCoaches@gmail.com

 

He offers “RealUGuru Wealth and Success Retreats in his upstate NY Mansion and also coaches individuals long distance by phone and through on-line programs.

 

Lewis is often sponsored by small groups and large organizations around the world to share his unique tools, tips, techniques, and strategies from game based thinking.

 

Lewis offers many other Ebooks on wealth, success, healing and personal development and also posts regular blogs on wealth and success at www.RealUGuru.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the limit of human potential?

 

Is Simone Biles really unbeatable? Breaking down the physics behind her gymnastics

 

CORPORATE WELLNESS

Game Theory, problem solving, Corporate Wellness, The cycle of life, serving others, volunteerism, applied compassion, Lewis Harrison’s Spiritual, Not Religious book, Corporate Wellness massage, Investments in Wellness,  happy and healthy workforce, Corporate Wellness Programs to quit smoking and lose weight, Group incentive travel rewards in wellness and safety. Corporate fitness wellness programs, avenues of information for wellness programs, company sponsored wellness programs,  Incentives and social recognition, health and wellness incentive programs, Stress management, How to be happy, Leadership DevelopmentLife CoachingMind, motivational speaker, peak experience, Life Coaching,  Coaching, Emotional health, Mental health, Chair Massage in Baltimore and Washington DC, Stress Management, events Chair Massage, Corporate Chair Massage NYC, Events Chair Massage Los Angeles, Meeting Planners Chair Massage,  Party Planners Massage,  Corporate Massage. The best chair massage in NYC, Human Potential Classes, Personal development Courses, Mental health

 

More important I have been studying how to use “Periscope”. Essentially “Periscope” is like having your own television show on any smart device and you get to broadcast to whoever you want and to who wants to connect to you.

 

I needed to transcend the limitation of unopened newsletters, and many who follow my work feeling that the newsletters where too short or too long. Periscope solves that problem. I “scope” 4-5 times a day going from simple to deep as I can feedback from my Periscope followers 4-5 times a day.

 

So down load Periscope, sign up (it’s free), and type in Lewis Harrison  or RealUGuru (my moniker) and enjoy new ideas on visionary subjects.

 

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Watch this short video of two baby pandas keeping a worker from cleaning their cage.

 

It makes your heart warm up.

 

If there was a Noble Prize given for “Cuteness” this video would win.

 

I hope you had a lovely, inspiring and joyous weekend.

 

 

http://digg.com/video/baby-pandas-trouble-cage-cleaning-staff?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg

 

Here is a bit more about giant pandas.

 

Thanks for reading this,

 

Lewis

 

 

 

 

CORPORATE WELLNESS

Religion, Joseph Campbell, “Live Your Bliss”, Corporate Wellness, The cycle of life, serving others, volunteerism, applied compassion, Lewis Harrison’s Spiritual, Not Religious book, Corporate Wellness massage, Investments in Wellness,  happy and healthy workforce, Corporate Wellness Programs to quit smoking and lose weight, Group incentive travel rewards in wellness and safety. Corporate fitness wellness programs, avenues of information for wellness programs, company sponsored wellness programs,  Incentives and social recognition, health and wellness incentive programs, Stress management, How to be happy, Leadership DevelopmentLife CoachingMind, motivational speaker, peak experience, Life Coaching,  Coaching, Emotional health, Mental health, Chair Massage in Baltimore and Washington DC, Stress Management, events Chair Massage, Corporate Chair Massage NYC, Events Chair Massage Los Angeles, Meeting Planners Chair Massage,  Party Planners Massage,  Corporate Massage. The best chair massage in NYC, Human Potential Classes, Personal development Courses, Mental health

 

 

 

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

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A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

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If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including:

 

 

“Winning at the Game of Life: A Primer on Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory

 

 

 

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is a great article on creating love and compassion through service and Taoist based thought. The word “Tao” is never mentioned in the article. It doesn’t matter.

 

 

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Flow

http://digg.com/video/most-satisfying-video-in-the-world?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg

 

 

Start here

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

SENT TO PRIVATE NEWSlETTER

 

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Here is a short video interview of Lewis with award winning journalist Phyllis Hayes:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page athttps://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Avoiding Isolation and loneliness

I was recently thinking about social networking and how we connect to each other authentically.

My Facebook “Friend”  isn’t really my friend. They are are a digital connection.

 

Media, the main means of mass communication, is supposed to bring us closer but does it really?

In early days the most basic mass media was drumming and smoke signals. By the late nineteenth century there were newspapers,  the telegraph and the telephone.  By the mid- twentieth century  television, radio, newspapers, and the early internet had become predominant.

 

Now in 20017 we have webinars, podcasts, video conferences, social and business networking sites, and myriad portals for accessing facts, figures and data.

Of course the downside of all this is that it is easier than ever to use technology to avoid human interaction. Yes we save time and money but at what cost. We ultimately dumb down our social intelligence and lose the opportunity to build trust, rapport connections and all the surprising benefits that come about from face to face interactions.

 

The solution? Make human contact a priority.

  • Go to a museum and strike up conversations with strangers;
  • Have lunch with a friend; go to a networking breakfast;
  • volunteer for a not-for profit;
  • have a pot-luck party and invite your friends and their friends

 

Do something!

You’ll live longer, you’ll be healthier and you’ll be happier.

 

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——-We explore these ideas at out distance learning program in Holistic Nutrition at Lewis Harrison’s Natural healing Academy and at our Bed and Breakfast and spa at The Harrison Center in Stamford NY.

 

 

 

 

 

For more postings and links to articles and blogs on human potential, personal development, Taoist thought and service please “Like” our page at: https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/

Here is the article: Here is the link to the full article.

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/25/463567685/today-we-are-his-family-teen-volunteers-mourn-those-who-died-alone?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20160131&utm_campaign=bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews is posted at

 

As you may have noticed these newsletters have gotten shorter of late. It seems that many of the readers of the “AskLewis” newsletter like them short and sweet while others like them with great depth and exploration.

If you are of the later type please go to my website at www.AskLewis.com for in depth article on game based thinking, spirituality, human potential and such.

I have a personal interest in ways that we can live more loving, compassionate and empathetic lives.

Every once and a while a come across an article or blog that addresses this very concept.

Today I came across one called

“’Today We Are His Family’: Teen Volunteers Mourn Those Who Died Alone”

As the title implies a group of Boston teenagers are making a difference in their own way. They seek out those who died alone with no family to comfort them in their last days. They attend the funeral of the deceased “anonymous” person and act as pallbearers at the funeral. They create community for those who seem to have none or to have lost whatever community they had.

Many of the comments after the article were poignant, and often critical of the motivation, purpose, intention or benefit of this activity.

Here is the link to the full article.

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/25/463567685/today-we-are-his-family-teen-volunteers-mourn-those-who-died-alone?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20160131&utm_campaign=bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews is posted at

He are a few comments posted on about the article.

“All acts of kindness and volunteerism should be appreciated, no doubt. But I wonder about this in perspective relative to other potential actions by these well-intentioned young men. Clearly, the deceased can’t appreciate their good will. To wit: he’s dead. Even in life, many who live alone chose to do so; sympathy for their isolation is mis-guided. And what if he was atheist — who benefits from a prayer in his honor? With the fact that there simply aren’t enough volunteers, wouldn’t these guys’ time be better served visiting an elderly shut-in who is alive and does crave the opportunity for a conversation? Or how about visiting a shelter and playing fetch with a dog who will be euthanized tomorrow due to no fault of its own? Volunteering to somehow improve another’s quality of life has real value IMO. This somehow seems like nothing more than free labor.”

 

“Just say ‘thank you’. This deed obviously meant a great deal to these young men, and a critique of their good intentions is not necessary. Just say “thank you”.

 

“Tell me this — other than making them feel good (which, be definition, would be selfish), what good did it do? What did it accomplish that resulted in benefit to others?”

 

“Actions such as these send a message to the living, that each life if worth something.”

 

“We should take every chance that we can to reaffirm that we are decent human beings. Many times the persons or animals we are performing a last act of kindness for are beyond caring or can not care, but the act selfishly helps us to maintain a feeling that we are decent members of humanity.”

 

What are your thoughts about what they are doing here and why.

 

Here is a recording of Ray Charles about the cycle of life.

 

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

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A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

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If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

 

 

START HERE

Start here

 

Laughter Yoga

A handful of small-scale scientific studies have indicated that Laughter Yoga may potentially have some medically beneficial effects, including benefits to cardiovascular health and mood. Benefits to mood in depressed patients have been found to be as good as exercise therapy. A study by Oxford University found that pain thresholds become “significantly higher” after laughter, compared to the control condition, and saw this as being due to laughter itself, rather than the mood of the subject. The study suggested that Laughter produced an “endorphin-mediated opiate effect” which could “play a crucial role in social bonding”. This effect acts on the nervous system in a similar way to opiates such as morphine and codeine. Opioids are primarily used in medicine for the treatment of pain and this effect like chemical opiods can incude sedationrespiratory depression,  and a strong sense of euphoria without the negative . side effects of these drugs.

 

With this important research there has been a movement to increase the use of human and laughter as therapeutic tool. One of the great breakthroughs in this area was in Argentina.

In the August  2015  Argentina passed a new law for treating children in hospitals that requires doctors to literally send in the clowns.

The groundbreaking law — the first in the world — for Argentina’s largest province, Buenos Aires, was inspired by the “laughter therapy” of American physician Hunter “Patch” Adams and was implemented in August. The laws required that all public hospitals in the province that have pediatric services work jointly with specially trained clowns.

The project is “complementary medicine to bring joy to sick children in hospitals, their families and the medical and non-medical personnel,” according to the Argentine Senate.

José Pellucchi, a physician who is director of Payamedicos, an organization of medical clowns, said professional clowns have already been working in more than 150 hospitals in Argentina and neighboring Chile since 2002.

When the clowns arrive at Hospital Piñero, they first write down each child’s name, age and disease they will visit. They also consult with the pediatricians to know which patients they can entertain without disturbing them — or getting exposed to a disease.

 

 

A great influence for this new approach to healing can be laid at the feet of one Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams (born May 28, 1945) the American physician,comediansocial activist, clown, and author. Adams founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humor to orphans, patients, and other people and influence health care policy..

 

 

In the late 1960s one of his closest friends (a man, not a woman as depicted in the Patch Adams film) was murdered. At this point he became convinced of the powerful connection between environment and wellness. Adams promoted the idea that  the health of an individual cannot be separated from the health of the family, community, and the world. Soon after graduation, Patch, and other founded  Gesundheit! Institute (originally known to many as the Zanies), which ran as a free community hospital for 12 years.

 

For decades Adams has been urging medical students to develop compassionate connections with their patients. His prescription for this kind of care relies on humor and play, which he sees as essential to physical and emotional health.

Though the 1998 film Patch Adams was based on Adams’ life and views on medicine. Adams has heavily criticized the film, saying it eschewed an accurate representation of his beliefs in favor of commercial viability. Still the film has been extremely influential in spreading his message as can be seen in the new Argentina law.

 

His message was further spread in South Asia  through the The 2003 Bollywood film Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. which  was inspired by the movie ‘Patch Adams’. The film brought his methods to the forefront in India and Pakistan where conventional methods were predominant.

As a speaker, Adams travels around the globe lecturing about his medicine methods.[16]

 

In Argentina the goal is not just to focus on using clowning and humor with patients but with every person involved with the hospital including cleaning employees, security officers and doctors. The goal is to generate well-being throughout environment. Some of the clowns have academic backgrounds relevant to the concept.  One, named  Gustavo Iribarne, a  Puente Clown professional and also an anthropologist.

In influence science it is common knowledge that  anything a bit off kilter in a positive way changes one sense of reality. Imagine “someone comes into a sick room  with a white medical coat and a red nose saying the same things (as a doctor) but with a unique positive loving and supportive language. Everything changes.  Daniel Rivero, a physician who heads the pediatrics department at Hospital Piñero stated “Health issues are not just related to our body. Determining factors include our sensations and human contact, which can change how our body works … called the placebo effect….It is important to work with clowns because “the hospital’s environment is very strict with white doors and aggressive people who put needles in children’s veins, tell them bad news and make them swallow awful medicine,” he added.

As important as laughter is to healing so is the sense of community, that one is not alone. The doctors support this by creating a bridge between sick children. The clowns give two children in neighboring rooms each end of a rope. The clowns then move from one room to the other, relaying messages and jokes to each child. In this way, one child can communicate with a hospital neighbor.

 

The power in this approach is that it transcends the idea of clown, humor as just to tools to produce laughter. It goes much deeper than that.

 

With some patients, like Sofia who just had abdominal surgery, the clowns know that laughter isn’t always the best medicine.

“We don’t necessarily want to make people laugh. Although laughter is always curative, we want people to reconnect with their childhood’s world, dreams and fantasies,” said Smink, who has worked as a clown four years.

To learn, more about Patch Adams and the Gesundheit

Institutes please send a request by mail to:

Gesundheit! Institute

Hospital Foundation

P.O. Box 98072

Washington, DC

20090-8072

http://www.patchadams.org

 

 

The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor was created to: educate health care, business and education professionals about the values and therapeutic uses of humor and laughter.

 

Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor

1951 W. Camelback Rd.

Ste. 445,

Phoenix, AZ

85015

 

Telephone 602-995-1454

FAX 602-995-1449

E-mail: office@aath.org.

 

 

Learn more about Laughter Yoga at http://www.laughteryoga.org/english

 

 

 

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Lewis explores the History of Psychology

 

Its past the holidays so if your depressed it should have passed by now. If not here’s a chance to read about the history of psychology. I thought the whole thing started with Freud. I was wrong.

 

I was reading a book about the history of the mental health professions and was fascinated by the different beginnings of psychiatry, psychology, social work, and the new profession of “Life Coaching”

Early movements in the history of American psychology can explain the importance our modern culture places on the field of mental health. Beginning late in the 19th century, and largely influenced by German scholar Wilhelm Wundt, Americans including James Mckeen CattellG. Stanley HallWilliam James, and others helped to formalize psychology as an academic discipline in the United States. Popularity in psychology grew as the public became more aware of the idea that the  studying of normal human behaviors and experiences could very well have strong applications to everyday life. At the time the pubic did not have much distinction between ideas drawn from spiritualism and metaphysics and the ideas of these early pioneers.

 

It was James who was most influential in drawing public interest to these idea through his 1890, book The Principles of Psychology, and his 1892 book, Psychology: The Briefer Course.

 

Joseph Jastrow (January 30, 1863 – January 8, 1944) and Hugo Münsterberg (June 1, 1863 – December 16, 1916) made an attempt to introduce these new ideas In 1893, when they  led a public exhibit on psychology in the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago as an effort to celebrate psychology, offer information to the public, and correct popular misconceptions. The exhibit provided catalogs of information on equipment, research topics, and purposes of psychology.

 

Jastrow  was a Polish-born American psychologist, now noted for inventions in experimental psychologydesign of experiments, and psychophysics. He was a ioneer in the study  of optical illusions, and a number of well-known optical illusions (such as the Jastrow illusion) were either discovered or popularized in his work. Jastrow believed that everyone had their own, often incorrect, preconceptions about psychology.  One of his goals was to use the scientific method to identify truth from error, and educate the layperson, which he did through speaking tours, popular print media, and radio. His associate, Münsterberg, was a German-American psychologist and a pioneer in applied psychology, later extending his research and theories to Industrial/Organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings.

 

Without the work and dedication of these two visionaries the exploration of the mind and emotions and how to heal them would have advanced much slower than is has.

 

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Jan 10

 

Two years later (1895)   E. W. Scripture, another American psychologist, published a book, called Thinking, Feeling, Doing, that was adapted for the average reader.

In spite of these important works the ordinary person still, for the most part, believed that psychology was mind reading, a psychic practice  and spiritualism and that it had no real application in everyday life.

 

Over the ensuing years a number of  similar attempts to inform the public about this new field of “healing, tool place including the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis which included (among others) presentations from G. Stanley Hall, Edward B. TitchenerMary Whiton CalkinsJohn B. Watson, and Adolph Meyer. The exhibits also included public testing and experimentation.

 

Still  regardless of the mass interest in psychology, an accurate account of psychology for the layman was rare. Many psychologists became concerned that their profession was failing appropriately to reach the public.

 

 

In spite of their best efforts  public approval failed to make a significant impact, often because the idea of meeting with a stranger and telling him your personal problems on a regular basis was foreign to most people on every level. At times the negative public reaction to psychologists was so strong that  they became deeply concerned about their public image. In 1900, Jastrow wrote a book entitled Fact and Fable in Psychology that aimed to resolve popular psychological misconceptions by clearly discerning fact from fable. In preface to his book, Jastrow states, “It is a matter of serious concern that the methods of genuine psychology, that the conditions of advance in psychology, that the scope and nature of its problems should be properly understood.”

 

It seemed that this movement might become completely marginalized or disappear as some new pseudoscience. Then a breakthrough came about and Hugo Münsterberg’s ideas where essential elements to why that happened. This breakthrough came to be known as  “Applied psychology.”.

 

Applied psychology gave these mental health pioneers tools for  using of psychological methods and linking them to the scientific method. Some of the guess-work was now removed from the processing of  solving practical problems of human and animal behavior and experience and the specialized language of the scientist could be used to explain it all.

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Jan 17

 

One founder of applied psychology was Hugo Münsterberg. Invited to America by William James Münsterberg had many interests in the field of psychology such as purposive psychology, social psychology and forensic psychology. In 1907 he wrote several magazine articles on various aspects of psychology. Many psychologists had been exploring the applications of these ideas and in 1908  the Division of Applied Psychology was adjoined to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory. Within 9 years Münsterberg had contributed eight books in English, applying psychology to education, industrial efficiency, business and teaching. Eventually Hugo Münsterberg and his contributions would define him as the creator of applied psychology. In 1920, the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) was founded, as the first international scholarly society within the field of psychology.

 

Before World War II  few professional psychologists had private practices. This was primarily the domain of Freudian Psychiatrists.  Professional psychologists were relegated to academic settings and some government positions especially connected to the military. During the war, the armed forces and the Office of Strategic Services hired psychologists in droves to work on issues such as troop morale and propaganda design.  After the war, psychologists found an expanding range of jobs outside of the academy and the military. Since 1970 the early 1970s, the number of college graduates with degrees in psychology has expanded dramatically while, degrees in the related fields of economics, sociology, and political science have remained constant.[

Today applied psychology has become an import tools for understanding human behavior and is applied to many professions and environments:

Advertising: Business advertisers have long consulted psychologists in assessing what types of messages will most effectively induce a person to buy a particular product. Their research includes the study of unconscious influences and brand loyalty.

 

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Jan 24

Over the last century applied psychology has become very specific it applications  and numerous specialties have been defined with specific training for each specialty.

Clinical psychology: This  includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development.[6]Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration.[7] Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury—this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.

Counseling psychology: This is an applied specialization within psychology, that involves both research and practice in a number of different areas or domains. There are some central unifying themes among counseling psychologists. These include a focus on an individual’s strengths, relationships, their educational and career development, as well as a focus on normal personalities.[11] Counseling Psychologists help people improve their well-being, reduce and manage stress, and improve overall functioning in their lives. The interventions are often problem focused and goal-directed. There is a guiding philosophy which places a value on individual differences and an emphasis on “prevention, development, and adjustment across the life-span.”[12]

Educational psychology: This is devoted to the study of how humans learn in educational settings, especially schools. Psychologists assess the effects of specific educational interventions: e.g., phonics versus whole language instruction in early reading attainment. They also study the question of why learning occurs differently in different situations.[5]

Another domain of educational psychology is the psychology of learning and teaching. Educational psychology derives a great deal from basic-science disciplines within psychology including cognitive science and behaviorially-oriented research on learning.

Environmental psychology: Environmental psychology is the psychological study of humans and their interactions with their environments. The types of environments studied are limitless, ranging from homes, offices, classrooms, factories, nature, and so on. However, across these different environments, there are several common themes of study that emerge within each one. Noise level and ambient temperature are clearly present in all environments and often subjects of discussion for environmental psychologists.[13]Crowding and stressors are a few other aspects of environments studied by this sub-discipline of psychology.[14] When examining a particular environment, environmental psychology looks at the goals and purposes of the people in the using the environment, and tries to determine how well the environment is suiting the needs of the people using it.

Evolutionary psychology:  (EP) seeks to determine which psychological traits are evolved adaptations – that is, the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection. Some evolutionary psychologists apply the same adaptionist thinking as is applied in evolutionary biology, to psychology, arguing that the mind also has a modular structure similar to that of the body. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that have evolved over thousands of years to provide solutions to recurrent human problems.

 

 

 

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SENT ASK LEWIS

Lewis asks “What is the Maximum of Human Potential?”

 

I  was teaching a master class this week on shamanism, Quantum Realities (QR) and altered states of consciousness at our spa and retreat center in the Great Northern  Catskills Catskills Mountains of NY State..

 

One of the students, a very logically thinking mathematician said the whole thing sounded kind of new age and “fluffy”. She asked if there was any history of this kind of thinking in academia.

 

Actually there is and I shared two important concepts concerning an understanding of QR with her and the class – Omega Point and the Noosphere.

 

The Omega Point refers to the Idea that there is a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe is evolving. This idea was articulated by a number of important thinkers though  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (1 May 1881  – 10 April 1955) a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as apaleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man seems to have explored it to the greatest depth.

 

Chardin’s work was so powerful and still so influential especially concerning the concept of original sin in the Catholic Church that  that during  his lifetime, many of his writings were censored by the Church hierarchy.

In recent decades  his work was praised by Pope Benedict XVI, and he was also noted for his contributions to theology in Pope Francis‘ 2015 encyclical Laudato si’.  Later in his life after hearing a talk by Vladimir Vernadsky‘s Chardin developed the  concept of noosphere.

 

Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (12 March [O.S. 28 February] 1863 – 6 January 1945) was a RussianUkrainian, and Soviet mineralogist and geochemist who is considered one of the founders of geochemistrybiogeochemistry, and of radiogeology.  His ideas of noosphere were greatly influential in the development of Russian cosmism and he is most noted for his 1926 book The Biosphere in which he inadvertently worked to popularize Eduard Suess’ 1885 term biosphere, by hypothesizing that life is the geological force that shapes the earth.

 

The noosphere (/ˈnoʊ.əsfɪər/; sometimes noösphere) is the sphere of human thought. The word derives from the Greekνοῦς (nous “mind“) and σφαῖρα (sphaira “sphere“). It was introduced by de Chardin in 1922 in book Cosmogenesis.

 

 

 

Teilhard perceived a directionality in evolution along an axis of increasing Complexity/Consciousness. For Teilhard, the noosphere is the sphere of thought encircling the earth that has emerged through evolution as a consequence of this growth in complexity / consciousness.

 

This is visionary thinking and important for our times. I will go into this in greater depth next Sunday (The December 20 “AskLewis” Newsletter)

 

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Why You may Not Be Allergic to gluten but feel better on a gluten free diet.

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/12/09/459061317/a-protein-in-the-gut-may-explain-why-some-cant-stomach-gluten?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20151213&utm_campaign=bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews

 

 

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Last week I had mentioned that I  was teaching a master class on shamanism, Quantum Realities (QR) and altered states of consciousness at our spa and retreat center in the Great Northern  Catskills Catskills Mountains of NY State; and one of the students, a very logically thinking mathematician asked about engaged me in a conversation about altered states of reality, Omega Point and the Noosphere.

 

A noosphere as much part of nature as the barysphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. As a result, Teilhard sees the “social phenomenon [as] the culmination of and not the attenuation of the biological phenomenon. These social phenomena are part of the noosphere and include, for example, legal, educational, religious, research, industrial and technological systems. In this sense, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere thus grows in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. Teilhard argued the noosphere evolves towards ever greater personalisation, individuation and unification of its elements. He saw the Christian notion of love as being the principal driver of noogenesis. Evolution would culminate in the Omega Point – an apex of thought/consciousness – which he identified with the eschatological return of Christ.

One of the original aspects of the noosphere concept deals with evolutionHenri Bergson, with his L’évolution créatrice (1907), was one of the first to propose evolution is “creative” and cannot necessarily be explained solely by Darwinian natural selection. L’évolution créatrice is upheld, according to Bergson, by a constant vital force which animates life and fundamentally connects mind and body, an idea opposing the dualism of René Descartes. In 1923, C. Lloyd Morgan took this work further, elaborating on an “emergent evolution” which could explain increasing complexity (including the evolution of mind). Morgan found many of the most interesting changes in living things have been largely discontinuous with past evolution, and therefore did not necessarily take place through a gradual process of natural selection. Rather, evolution experiences jumps in complexity (such as the emergence of a self-reflective universe, or noosphere). Finally, the complexification of human cultures, particularly language, facilitated a quickening of evolution in which cultural evolution occurs more rapidly than biological evolution. Recent understanding of human ecosystems and of human impact on the biosphere have led to a link between the notion of sustainability with the “co-evolution” and harmonization of cultural and biological evolution. In biology, coevolution is the change of a biological object triggered by the change of a related object”. In other words, when changes in at least two species’ genetic compositions reciprocally affect each other’s evolution, coevolution has occurred.

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

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Mind, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, Somatic Education and dance, Gymnastics, Somatics, Feminism and Art, peak experience, Life Coaching,  Coaching, Emotional health, Mental health, Chair Massage in Baltimore and Washington DC, Stress Management, events Chair Massage, Corporate Chair Massage NYC, Events Chair Massage Los Angeles, Meeting Planners Chair Massage,  Party Planners Massage,  Corporate Massage. The best chair massage in NYC, Human Potential Classes, Personal development Courses, Mental health,

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AskLewis Q. How do I deal with arguing and fighting at family gatherings?

Lewis Answers: In my book “Relationships” (Volume IX – The Teachings of Lewis Harrison”

 

FB – https://thecatskillsbandb.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=535&action=edit&postpost=v2

 

 

 

 

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Relationships with a Mentally or Emotionally Challenged Person:

 

If you are in romantic  relationship, related to or close friends with a person with severe mental and emotional challenges  here are things you need to know:

  • Chronic mental and emotional challenges act like a magnifying glass to deep rooted thought patterns that all of use must deal with now and then. For the chronic sufferer of these challenges thoughts  such as “I’m a failure” or “I don’t deserve affection”. can cause them to be distant or fearful of intimacy.

 

This can be very stressful for an individual seeking to give love, support or form an emotional connection with this person.

Still there is much than can be done to transcend this limitations and form deep and positive connection with the person who suffers from chronic mental and emotional challenges.

Below are a few things you should be aware of if  you care about someone or are “in love”  with an individual who suffers from chronic mental and emotional challenges.

 

  • Basic mental challenges are often defined as mental illness when they are not. Often a mental challenge can be addressed through self help techniques, motivation, and inspiration. Mental illness on the other hand is not something one can simply “get over.”
  • As with any illness healing takes time, professional guidance and the acknowledgement that there is a serious challenge that needs to be managed.  A mental illness usually has many complex elements including changes in brain structure, brain chemistry , hormonal issues, physical  and emotional trauma and other related factors.
  • A person with a mental illness is more often than not, suffering and wishes they could just “snap out of it.” Unfortunately they can’t. One does not just wish mental illness away. It requires love, support and professional skills.
  • It is natural and a deep rooted cultural pattern to say that someone with a mental illness is “crazy.” This is a misunderstanding of what mental illness is. “Crazy” is a general term, a label for unconventional thinking or behavior. Mental illness is a disease like arthritis, extreme back pain, or tuberculosis. Mental illness is just as important as physical illness and is often connected to or caused by a physical illness.
  • There are few patterns that can be isolated concerning good or bad days. Some days seem great and the hope is that similar days will follow but often they do not. There is just no pattern. *
  • They’re moody and it isn’t personal. Their mood isn’t because of you. Many mental health challenges are characterized by mood swings, including feelings of anger, depression and mania. It is important to learn to live with these patterns and support them to heal.

 

 

  • Mental and Emotional Challenges and Illnesses can be Managed…
    The list is endless of ways to help individuals suffering from mental and emotional challenges. There are many forms of counseling and psychotherapy that can help as well as exercise, the arts, through group support and when necessary medication. There is no one best approach. What may work for one person may not work for your friend or relative.

 

 

  • Some days it all seems like it is all too much to handle.

At times a person may be un able to muster the strength to begin yet another day struggling with emotional and mental challenges. The best one can do here is to  encourage the individual to do what needs to be done, whether this is  going to their appointments or whatever else is on their schedule. Don’t give up on them on those days where they’ve given up on themselves.

 

  • Avoid Accepting Negative Stereotypes Associated with Whatever Condition the person You care About Has. There’s a great stigma attached to mental health disorders. A large percentage of those with a mental or emotional challenge or illness feel that others are compassionate , empathetic or understanding of their condition. Your compassion and patience means more than you’ll ever know.

 

 

  • Compassion, Love and Nurturing are Invaluable.
    This can include hugs, phone calls, texts, and anything else shared – even a comedy movie or ice cream. The key is to let them know that they’re not alone. All these things remind them that how they feel is temporary helpful to remind them that the feelings are temporary and you are right there with them.
  • Have a sincere interest in their mental or emotional challenge. It’s OK to ask them questions. The more you learn and understand about their condition, the easier it is for you to get closer to them. Still be sensitive. If they don’t want to talk about what’s going on in that moment, move onto something else. Often those with these types of challenges are constantly attempting to make sense of things that seem normal to others. If they are quiet that  doesn’t mean they don’t want your help, they just may be doing their own processing.
  • It’s physically draining. 
    Psychiatric illnesses don’t just assault the  Conditions like depression and anxiety can cause extreme fatigue as well as produce a wide range of physical symptoms including  headaches, soreness, upset stomach and more.
  • Be sensitive to their sensitivities.  It is easy to become impatient and pretending to sympathize. Avoid saying things such as ‘grow up’,  ‘it’ll get better,’  ‘toughen up,’, ‘you are acting so immature,’ etc. this is not helpful even if you think it is.

 

Unless you have a narcissistic disorder get out of yourself and what you think you know about mental and emotional challenges. If you can’t make the stretch don’t get involved.

 

 

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Resiliency

One of the keys to dealing successfully with life’s challenges is the ability of an individual to bounce back to a greater state of wellness.  All human beings are confronted time to time with stressful situations that seem to be beyond control. We’ve all had the experience of a dark moment in our lives, some so dark that they drive us to a state where we can barely function.

As difficult as these times may seem humans have a natural resilience, the ability to bounce back even when all seems lost..Part of my work in applied game theory is to always looking to strategize through the “human factor” whenever possible.

Resilience is a state of being defined by the ability to choose, and being at choice means you have the power to define and create your life as you see fit. Any time one perceives of oneself as a victim of circumstance and is paralyzed by a medical diagnosis, a health crisis,  a toxic relationship, an unfulfilling job, or a life filled with boredom and despair one is essentially giving up ones power. By increasing ones resilience, one can become stronger and act to make the difficult choices while creating ones best life.

One of the keys to preventing and healing from mental and emotional challenges is learning resiliency skills.

Research indicates that there are four primary elements to nurturing and enhancing resilience. These are.

-Meaning, purpose or spirituality but most importantly she suggested that indeed resilience can be nurtured and enhanced.

-Mindfulness which being in the moment. No regrets about the past and no expectations for the future. “Be Here Now”. It doesn’t require that you mediate, chant or do any special ritual.  It means doing what needs to be done and doing so with full intention.

-A Personal Wellness Program –  This is a basic program that deals with body mind and spirit. It needs to include the following:

  • 150 minutes weekly of aerobics exercise of moderate intensity, which is slightly elevated heart rate that also makes you a bit short of breath. (Consider walking, running, biking or dancing.
  • 15 – 20 minutes of stretching daily
  • 15-20 minutes of light weights with 15 repetitions per exercise.
  • Whole food nutrition. Lot’s of fruits vegetables, whole grains, beans, raw nuts and seeds, some dairy unless you are a vegan. Avoid junk food, soda, and artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
  • Community support: We all need community; it is what human beings thrive on. We are meant to live in tribes, families, and groups with common interest. When in despair we often isolate which aggravates the situation. The key is to find a trusted few you can share you challenges with. When we are vulnerable we need empathy and compassion. Ignore that dysfunctional voice in your head that says “you’re pathetic” and reach out to others.

 

  • Serve others: The quickest way out of a despair and hopelessness is to realize that someone somewhere has it worse than you. No matter how resistant you may be it is a great thing to serve others. It doesn’t have to be a big thing; write a letter to a person in need, volunteer, start a not for profit group. Any of these will help you tap into your inner momentum. When you are serving others from a place of genuine love, kindness, caring and compassion guilt and shame falls away.

 

So if time seems rough don’t lose hope, focus, or your momentum. Take a few deep breathes, call a friend for support, if you need clarity read my book “Spiritual, Not Religious” or any other wisdom based book and take a half hour to sing, laugh and dance for no reason.

 

There are certain things one must keep in mind when remaining resilient.

 

  • Emotional and mental challenges are not always medical problems. Often they are simply a health issue to be addressed.
  • It’s important to open up about your anxiety and mental and emotional challenges. This is especially so for men who often see themselves as “weak”. We al need to be vulnerable and discuss what is going on.
  • It is difficult to be resilient in isolation. It is important to get out and do things. Join support groups, make new friends, create a spiritual practice
  • Bad habits don’t disappear by themselves. Do things differently and create positive reasons for doing so.
  • Create a Positive Environment around yourself. It’s can be a a vicious cycle. When you’re suffering a mental or emotional challenge, one negative thought, event or interaction can be enough to send you into a downward spiral. Surround yourself with motivational, inspirational and enlivening thoughts, ideas and people.

 

 

 

 

START HERE

 

Workplace Wellness Programs,  Reducing obesity through Workplace Wellness Programs, workplace programs promoting chair massage, healthy eating and exercise, good nutrition in office cafeterias,

Fewer calories and smaller portions, healthy recipes,

 

Work spaces are self contained environments,

 

Tracked worker’s body-mass index

 

Reduces health insurance costs.

 

 

 

 

 

nt J Health Policy Manag. 2013 Sep; 1(3): 193–199.

Published online 2013 Sep 6. doi:  10.15171/ijhpm.2013.36

PMCID: PMC3937880

Corporate Wellness Programs: Implementation Challenges in the Modern American Workplace

Bahaudin G. Mujtaba * and Frank J. Cavico

Author information ► Article notes ► Copyright and License information ►

See commentary “ Financial Incentives: Only One Piece of the Workplace Wellness Puzzle Comment on “Corporate Wellness Programs: Implementation Challenges in the Modern American Workplace” ” on page 311.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

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Abstract

Being healthy is important for living well and achieving longevity. In the business realm, furthermore, employers want healthy employees, as these workers tend to be more productive, have fewer rates of absenteeism, and use less of their health insurance resources. This article provides an overview of corporate “wellness” efforts in the American workplace and the concomitant challenges which employers will confront in implementing these programs. Consequently, employers and managers must reflect upon wellness policies and objectives, consult with professionals, and discuss the ramifications thereof prior to implementation. The authors herein explore how employers are implementing policies that provide incentives to employees who lead “healthy” lifestyles as well as ones that impose costs on employees who lead “unhealthy” lifestyles. The distinctive contribution of this article is that it proactively explores wellness program implementation challenges and also supplies “best practices” in the modern workplace, so employers can be better prepared when they promulgate wellness policies, and then take practical steps to help their employees become healthier and thereby help to reduce insurance costs. The article, moreover, addresses how wellness policy incentives—in the form of “carrots” as well as penalties—in the form of “sticks” could affect employees, especially “non-healthy” employees, as well as employers, particularly legally. Based on the aforementioned challenges, the authors make practical recommendations for employers and managers, so that they can fashion and implement wellness policies that are deemed to be legal, ethical, and efficacious.

Keywords: Wellness Programs, American Workplace, Carrots and Sticks, Healthy Lifestyle

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Background

American employers are very concerned about the increase in healthcare costs, which they believe will be exacerbated by the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Due to the rising cost of health insurance, many people do not have health insurance. Texas is the state with the highest number of individuals without health insurance and Florida is the second largest state with 25% of its population under the age of 65 without health insurance since it costs too much. Accordingly, many employers have been looking for measures to lower healthcare costs (1). Employers also want healthy employees in order to avoid absences, enhance productivity, and improve morale. So employers are looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs and to help enhance the health and productivity of their employees. One perceived beneficial measure is in the form of “wellness” programs in the workplace, which encourage, or at times attempt to “force,” employees to lose weight, stop smoking, reduce health risks, and overall improve their health. However, employers have to be very careful in creating and implementing wellness programs since there are a variety of laws—statutory, regulatory, and common law—that can apply to wellness programs.

One initial problem with any examination of wellness programs in the workplace is that there is no statutory, regulatory, or uniform definition of the term “wellness program.” There simply is no single definition of a “wellness program” from a legal, healthcare, or management perspective. One court stated that “wellness plans are incentive programs offered by companies to their employees to reduce insurance premiums, and often include biometric testing such as recording the medical history of participating employees, taking their body weight and blood pressure information, and testing the glucose and cholesterol levels of their blood. Those blood tests, in turn, typically involved a trained examiner drawing a drop of an employee’s blood with a prick of the finger and placing the blood onto a ‘cassette,’ which was then placed in a machine that measured blood glucose and cholesterol” (2). One general definition would mean programs that are sponsored by an employer and seek to improve the physical and/or mental health of an employee (3). Another definition is a program designed “to encourage individuals to take preventative measures, through education, risk assessment and/or screening, or disability management to avert the onset or worsening of an illness or disease” (4). Yet another definition of a workplace wellness program is “an employment-based activity or employer-sponsored benefit aimed at promoting health-related behaviors (primary prevention or health promotion) and disease management (secondary prevention). It may include a combination of data collection on employee health risks and population-based strategies paired with individually focused interventions to reduce those risks” (5). Nevertheless, “a formal and universally accepted definition of a workplace wellness program has yet to emerge, and employers define and manage their programs differently” (5). The diversity of definitions demonstrate that companies have different needs and may clarify the boundary of their wellness program by having a clear definition and purpose for it based on their mission, vision, values, and work culture.

Employers, of course, have the discretion in formulating wellness programs. Some programs focus on employees with specific health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. Others take the form of incentives to the employees to undergo physical examinations or to take health assessments as well as incentives to lose weight and stop smoking (6,7). All these programs have an educational component that seeks to inculcate to the employees the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and thus to increase awareness of how lifestyle choices can impact one’s physical and mental health (4). Common features of wellness programs can encompass the following: providing healthcare and medical information by means of health fairs, seminars, classes, lectures, and newsletters; online health and wellness resources; nutrition counseling; lifestyle and risk factor analysis; health and exercise coaching; gym and health-club memberships or membership discounts; heath risk assessments; stress management programs; disease management and control programs (concerning heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, for example); biometric testing and screening, maintenance, and control for heart disease, blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol, and weight loss); smoking cessation programs; and immunization programs; and on-site clinics (35).

In addition, it should be noted that the challenges related to health concerns are not limited to the United States or just the developed nations. Researchers and political leaders in other countries are just as concerned about unhealthy lifestyles as well. For example, according to Eyal, the prevalence of obesity in Iran has also reached epidemic proportions since about 40% of the adults in Tehran were found to be overweight and 23.1% were assessed to be obese (8). In general, Eyal estimates that the prevalence of obesity among Iranian adults appears to be around 21.5%, and obesity seems to specifically affect Iranian women (8). To change such patterns, some medical experts are even supporting measures to deny non-emergency treatment to those who are considered obese or those patients who do not lose weight. Eyal agrees that we should proactively deal with the obesity challenge “head-on,” but conditioning medical access on weight loss is fraught with ethical concerns and thus is not the best way to move ahead to healthfulness. Of course, it must be emphasized that healthcare is a basic and an inalienable right for everyone in society. Accordingly, Eyal states: “Doctors, health managers, and health policy makers can help us lose weight and remain thin by using carrots and sticks. They may want to offer prizes such as iPods or museum tickets or maybe even cash to patients who lose weight” (8). Yet, denying overweight or obese individuals’ medical treatment, regardless of the approach to any wellness program, is not an ethical approach.

This article, therefore, succinctly explores some of the legal, ethical, and practical ramifications of employers adopting such wellness programs; and then provides appropriate recommendations. Specifically, the authors make appropriate recommendations to managers on how to set up and implement legal, moral, and practically efficacious wellness programs in the workplace.

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Wellness programs

Employers definitely want lower health insurance costs and more productive employees; and one way to achieve these goals is to have more healthy employees. The question, and one with legal, ethical, and practical ramifications, is how to attain these laudable objectives. Should the employer in adopting a wellness policy take a voluntary “carrot” or a more coercive “stick” approach? Should employees who adopt healthy lifestyles be rewarded? Or should employees who lead unhealthy lifestyles by penalized by the employer? In some wellness programs, an overweight or smoking employee may have to confront certain “sticks,” for example higher monthly healthcare premiums and no discounts, if the employee does not avail himself or herself of the wellness program. Regarding the “sticks” approach, Sizemore noted that “such programs stand for the idea that individuals making poor health decisions should not have their decisions subsidized through an insurance program by those making good health decisions” (9).

A wellness program can consist of a health or health-risk assessment offered by the employer, which is usually an annual, or semi-annual, medical exam that ascertains the employee’s weight, height, blood pressure, and cholesterol and sugar levels. The employee also may be asked questions about his or her lifestyle, especially in regards to smoking and alcohol consumption. Some assessments even go further and seek to delve into the employee’s mental and emotional state. Of course, some employees may be hesitant about taking part in these “free” health assessments for a variety of reasons. They may be concerned with how the results of these medical exams will be handled and used and what will happen if they are not successful in improving their health and achieving a healthier lifestyle. They naturally will be concerned if there is any perceived “penalty” for remaining unhealthy.

Initially, it must be noted how “very common” wellness programs have become: Mattke et al.report that 92% of employers with 200 or more employees offered wellness programs in 2009 (5). Moreover, the most frequently targeted behaviors are exercise (addressed by 63% of employers with programs), smoking (60%), and weight loss (53%). Mattke et al. also report on a 2010 Kaiser/HRET survey that 74% of all employers who offered health benefits also offered at least one wellness program (5). Program costs, which typically are expressed as cost per program-eligible employee (as opposed to per actual participant, range between 50 to 150 US dollars a year for typical programs. Employers have begun to use incentives to increase employee’s participation in wellness programs; and estimates indicate that the average annual value of incentives per employee typically ranges from between 100 US dollars to 500 US dollars. However, as will be discussed, there are a variety of laws that impose limits on the use of financial incentives by employers as part of the wellness program.

Mattke et al. vividly illustrate how people in the U.S. “are in the midst of a ‘lifestyle disease’ epidemic,” (5) to wit:

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified four behaviors that are the primary causes of chronic disease in the United States—inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and frequent alcohol consumption; and these activities are causing an “increasing prevalence” of diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pulmonary conditions.
  • Chronic diseases have become a “major burden” in the U.S. leading to “decreased quality of life,” accounting for severe disability in 25 million people in the U.S., as well as being the leading cause of death, claiming 1.7 million lives per year.
  • Treating chronic diseases is estimated to account for over 75% of national health expenditures.
  • The number of working-age adults with a chronic condition has grown by 25% in ten years, nearly equaling 58 million people.
  • A 2008 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that the “indirect” costs (for example, missed days at work) were approximately four times higher for people with chronic diseases compared to healthy people.
  • A report by the Milken Institute indicated that in 2003 the cumulative indirect illness-related losses associated with chronic diseases totaled 1 trillion US dollars compared with 277 billion US dollars in direct healthcare expenditures.

According to Stafford as well as Cavico and Mujtaba, one in four people in the United States aged 18 years and older, amounting to 66 million people, are defined as obese (or approximately 30 pounds over their ideal weight) (7,10). Moreover, about three in ten adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure; and almost one in ten has diabetes. Obesity, combined with lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle, contributes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as increasing healthcare expenditures. Specifically regarding obesity, it is reported that obesity increases Americans’ healthcare expenditures by 1,723 US dollars per year per person (10). There are, therefore, benefits to be accrued from wellness programs and not “merely” saving money for employers but also by improving the health of employees and job applicants, thereby benefiting families, local communities, and society as a whole. This article, of course, is focusing on the benefits to the employer to be obtained from wellness programs, notwithstanding the implementation challenges. There are commentators, accordingly, who have emphasized the more utilitarian societal benefits that wellness programs can produce. The authors in fact have addressed the morality of wellness programs from a utilitarian ethical and stakeholder perspective (7,11). Moreover, a broader approach to wellness programs has been taken by the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Amarta Sen, who has argued that “development should be assessed less by material output measures such as Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and more by the capabilities and opportunities that people enjoy” (12). Having a healthy population is important for economic prosperity of a nation. Sen viewed development in countries as an expansion of freedom. Also certain things should be removed from poorly developed countries such as poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, social deprivation, and neglect of public facilities. Naturally, all of this would involve politics, management and effective leadership. Sen believed that countries should give the people a “voice” so they can partake in important decisions involving the community; and this input would naturally include means of overcoming health problems and effectively dealing with the rising insurance costs. Sen also emphasized healthcare and education, saying that these types of initiatives would lead to people getting better jobs and making more money which would in turn help the economy become more prosperous. Most experts agree and believe that this is a much better way to measure the development of a country than just income generated from high exports. If the people are healthy, educated, and happy they will be better able to increase productivity and enjoy going to work which will help everyone in the country (12).

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Carrot and sticks of wellness programs

Wellness programs, therefore, can result in many benefits for many stakeholders. One key, as well as contentious, issue, as emphasized, is for the employer to ascertain which approach to take in implementing a wellness program—“carrots” or “sticks” (or perhaps a combination thereof). Table 1 provides a brief overview of some examples of “carrots” or incentives and “sticks” or penalties that employers might offer or impose as part of their wellness programs to encourage or “force” employees to become healthier.

Table 1

Incentives and penalties in wellness programs

Most employers, based on the authors’ judgment, would prefer the “carrot” approach, principally because it does not alienate employees or cost jobs and promotions, especially due to any preexisting chronic health conditions. Nevertheless, one legal commentator questioned if even the “carrot” approach was a truly voluntary one (9). Yet if the “carrot” approach does not work, and employees cannot, or will not, “voluntarily” become or stay healthy, and consequently employers continue to see healthcare costs rise, employers may consider “forcing” employees to be healthy by penalizing unhealthy employees. Furthermore, support for a more punitive approach to changing lifestyles is found, as Kwoh reported, “the findings of behavior economists showing that people respond more effectively to potential losses, such as penalties, than expected gains, such as rewards” (13). To illustrate, Kwoh pointed to two studies: one, which is a study of 800 mid- to large-size firms, showing that 6 in 10 employers tend to impose penalties in the next few years on employees who do not take actions to better their health; and the other indicates that the share of employers who plan to impose penalties is likely to double to 36% by 2014 (13). Furthermore, a human resources survey indicates that 60% of the employers stated that they plan to impose penalties in the next three to five years on workers who do not improve their health (14). Nonetheless, Kwoh predicted a “murky” future—legally, ethically, and practically—for these increasing, and increasingly punitive, “stick” wellness programs (13).

There are many critics, however, of a punitive “stick” approach to wellness in the workplace. Sizemore fears that “the potential for discrimination and harassment at the workplace for failure to participate in the program also exists” (9). Lamkin fears that wellness programs, particularly with penalties, will erode the informed consent of the employee-patient in medical decision-making (11). The labor organization, the AFL-CIO, is opposed to mandatory health tests. A spokesperson, as indicated by Mathews, declared that health tests are a personal matter that should not be brought into the workplace and tied to benefits (15). Workers’ rights advocates, as indicated by Kwoh, condemned the penalties as “legal discrimination” and “essentially salary cuts” by a different name (13). There is also a fear that these wellness programs—whether voluntary or mandatory—are giving employers too much control over their employees’ lives (13). Kwoh reported on another critic of wellness programs, a university chair and professor of health policy, who condemned wellness programs as “unethical” because the employer’s main motivation is not to improve the employees’ health but to get smokers and other employees with “unhealthy” lifestyles “off their health bill and pass on the costs to someone else” (13). Another critic, expressed concern that wellness programs might become a “tool for shifting health-care costs” to sick people, especially under the Affordable Care Act, which will allow employers to charge employees who do not meet certain health standards more for insurance premiums, and thus “you might undermine the whole idea of workplace wellness”(16). And another professor of public health called wellness policies a “slippery slope,” and expressed concern about what actions of employees would be penalized next, such as going out for fast-food, drinking alcohol, and even, the professor said, unsafe sex (14).

In addition to labor union, employee rights organizations, and academic objections; there are many potential legal problems for employers in adopting and implementing wellness programs. As such, and especially due to legal concerns, some employers have shied away from any wellness policies. One potential legal problem for an employer when it comes to weight provisions and height and weight indexes is that some employees may contend that their weight is based on a medical condition or genetics, and in the latter case tied to racial or ethnic background, and thus the employee is protected by federal discrimination law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act. To illustrate, some critics of wellness programs state that tobacco penalties or bans on hiring smokers are discriminatory against poorer and less-educated segments of society, who tend to smoke more (13); and these people may be minorities who are protected by the Civil Rights Act against discrimination in employment. Moreover, all these health issues must be kept very confidential so as not to trigger lawsuits based on the common law tort of invasion of privacy as well as federal and state statutory confidentiality laws. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper (14) quoted a statement from a private non-profit Patient Privacy Rights organization based in Texas, which condemned wellness programs as “coercive” and “invasive,” and which expressed deep concern about the privacy of the wellness information collected, because “it doesn’t give patients any control over the extremely sensitive health information they are required to submit. Not only they can be certain whether their employer will see this information or not, but also the data can be collected, sold and used in different circumstances without their knowledge or consent.”

Regardless of legal compliance and laudatory objectives, other critics assert that wellness programs, even incentive-based ones, are unfair because they can disadvantage some people most in need of healthcare and also they, in effect, penalize employees who legitimately struggle to attain wellness objectives, but who fail or regress, particularly since it is recognized that major lifestyle changes are difficult to achieve (17). As such, employers must be careful when it comes to implementing wellness programs so they can be in legal compliance and fair to their employees (18).

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Legal challenges

One of the most daunting challenges to the implementation of wellness programs in the United States is the wide variety of laws—federal and state—statutory, regulatory, and common law (case law)—that arguably could apply to wellness programs in the workplace, including the recent Affordable Care Act (that is, “Obama Care”) of 2014 (though which legal effect has been partially postponed for employers, but not yet for individuals, as of this writing, until 2015 due to the statute’s own implementation problems). Though it is beyond the scope of this succinct work to examine all these statutes in detail, mention and brief discussion must be made of the following critical ones, to wit: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), the Affordable Care Act, state Lifestyle Discrimination statutes, and the common law intentional tort of invasion of privacy. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the paramount civil rights law in the United States. Title VII, which applies to employment, prohibits discrimination against an employee or job applicant based on the protected categories of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion (19). Consequently, if an employer’s wellness program or its implementation treats employees differently based on their race or any other protected category, there is a legal violation. Moreover, pursuant to civil rights law, if a wellness program, though neutral on its face and applying to all employees, has a disparate or disproportionate adverse impact on a protected group then a Title VII violation will occur too. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibits discrimination in employment based on age (if the employee or job applicant is over 40 years of age). As such, the employer must ensure that its wellness program or the implementation neither treats employees differently based on their age nor has any disparate adverse impact on older workers or job applicants. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination in employment against job applicants and employees with a legally recognized disability. Moreover, the ADA requires that an employer makes a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability unless it would an undue burden to do so. The ADA, however, does not prohibit wellness programs in the workplace. Nonetheless, if an employee’s or job applicant’s weight problem or addiction to nicotine or other health issue is deemed to be a disability, then the employer’s wellness program cannot act to discriminate against or otherwise penalize this disabled employee or job applicant. The ERISA of 1974 is also a federal law in the United States that governs healthcare and pension plans in the private sector. Pursuant to ERISA, an employer wellness program that provides healthcare, medical, or sickness benefits, directly through reimbursement or other monetary incentives, or indirectly, for example, by means of health counseling, is covered by ERISA; and as such the employer is subject to detailed disclosure and reporting requirements (20). The HIPAA of 1996 is another federal statute governing the provision of health care benefits. The law has extensive provisions dealing with the confidentiality and security of healthcare information. HIPAA also prohibits discrimination in health plans; but, it is important to note, an important exception pertaining to wellness programs. If a wellness program is deemed to effect only “benign discrimination,” that is, providing rewards, discounts, and reimbursements for voluntary actions that promote good health, such a program is permissible under HIPAA. However, if the wellness program is “results-based,” that is, a health standard must be met to qualify for a reward or incentive, the program is deemed to be discriminatory but nevertheless still permissible under the law if several factors are met, most importantly the total reward in the program is limited to 20% of the total cost of the employee-only coverage under the wellness program. Note, too, that the percentage will be raised to 30% by the Affordable Care Act when it is fully implemented). The GINA of 2008 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on genetic information. Moreover, GINA makes it illegal for the employer to request, require, or purchase genetic information. There are, however, several exceptions in GINA. The main one pertinent to the discussion herein is that an employer can obtain genetic information from an employee or job applicant pursuant to a wellness program on a voluntary basis, the employee participating in the wellness program gives prior, knowing, voluntary, written consent, and only the employee (or employee’s family member) and a certified genetic counselor or licensed healthcare professional receives the information. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2014 (with those provisions impacting employers are now postponed until 2015) has several provisions that apply to wellness programs. As noted, the maximum permissible reward for participating in a wellness program will be increased to 30% of the cost of health coverage; and the maximum reward will be increased to 50% for wellness programs designed to prevent, reduce, or stop tobacco use. Moreover, the ACA requires that wellness programs be available to all similarly situated employees. However, wellness programs also must offer alternatives to certain employees to qualify for rewards even if they cannot meet healthcare standards if it would be unreasonably difficult or medically inadvisable for them to do so. The preceding statutes are all federal laws in the United States.

On the state level, a brief mention must be made of certain state Lifestyle Discrimination statutes that protect the rights of employees to engage in lawful activities outside of the workplace, such as smoking or otherwise having an unhealthy lifestyle. However, these statutes typically say that if an activity by the employee harms the business interests of the employer, then the employer can discriminate based on that activity. Employees’ legal actions challenging their employers’ wellness policies as violating these lifestyle statutes ultimately have to be decided by the courts on a case-by-case basis. Finally, the common law intentional tort of invasion of privacy may also arise in a wellness context if the implementation of the employer’s wellness policy is deemed to be in impermissible intrusion into the employee’s private life or private or personal “space” or if there is an improper disclosure of the employee’s personal healthcare information. The employer, therefore, in adopting and implementing a wellness program, surely will be confronted with a wide array of laws that could impact wellness programs and thus subject the employer to legal liability.

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Practical recommendations

First and foremost, an employer must be cognizant of the many federal and state statutory and regulatory laws as well as the common law of tort that can apply to wellness programs in the workplace. There is, literally, a patchwork of laws that could apply to workplace wellness programs. The employer has, of course, discretion in adopting a wellness plan, but this discretion must be exercised very carefully, especially since there is not yet a great deal of legal guidance as to the applicability of key laws to wellness programs. The wellness plan must be properly structured to be legal, moral, and efficacious. Legally, let us emphasize the following basic points about wellness programs:

  • Avoid any direct or indirect discrimination when creating or implementing the wellness program.
  • Make sure the wellness program does not treat similarly situated employees differently based on the protected characteristics of civil rights laws.
  • Make sure the wellness program, though seemingly neutral and applying to all employees, does not have any illegal disparate adverse impact on a protected group.
  • Make sure health-related rewards or penalties do not exceed 20% of the cost of the employee’s health coverage based on current U.S. laws (and, as noted, this percentage will increase to 30% as per the ACA enacted by President Barack Obama’s administration).
  • Do not reduce an employee’s pay for any healthcare issue; rather, connect what the employee pays for healthcare to whether the employee meets or fails to meet certain healthcare standards based on the applicable law.
  • Provide alternatives or offer exemptions for employees who cannot for underlying medical reasons participate in a wellness program or meet certain healthcare goals.
  • Do not request health records before extending an offer of employment.
  • Keep employee’s healthcare information strictly confidential.

Mattke et al. suggest that the “three common themes” and strategies for workplace wellness programs are 1) internal marketing, 2) program evaluation and improvement, and 3) leadership and accountability (5). Regarding the first—internal marketing—companies should actively engage their workforce in health promotion, including face-to-face interactions, mass disseminations, explaining the program during the new hire orientation process, and providing multiple communication channels. Regarding the second—program evaluation and improvement—companies should have a “needs assessment,” consisting of surveys, HRA data, and using voluntary employee committees; then engage in data collection, storage, organization, and integration; and next conduct performance evaluations based on performance measures to determine the success of the wellness program. Finally, regarding the third component —leadership and accountability—a strong commitment to the wellness program by all levels of the organization is required, especially by senior and middle-management, as well as by external stakeholders, such as unions, is required. For example, concerning senior-management support, some points to the example of Johnson & Johnson, where a “champion,” who is a senior level manager, is identified for each component of the wellness program; and this wellness “champion” is responsible for taking the lead in developing and promoting his or her wellness component. Mattke et al. emphasize the “alignment with mission” factor, that is, “a characteristic of many successful programs with an explicit linkage between the goals of these efforts and an overarching organizational mission” (5).

A “carrot” incentive-based approach makes more sense for the prudent employer because it encourages and motivates the employee to achieve a healthier lifestyle, perhaps by seeking medical assistance to attain that goal. Pursuant to an incentive-based approach, employees should be more forthcoming about their health issues, particularly if they are assured of confidentiality, so that they can strive to receive the rewards and benefits from changing their “bad” habits to become healthier. A good wellness program should be able to motivate employees to take preventative health measures which are customized to their personal well-being (21). Confidentiality is a critical component of any wellness programs as some evidence shows that an employee is meeting wellness standards and goals will be required without discriminating against them based on non-relevant dimensions of diversity (22).

The employees should have the option to participate in the wellness program. Based on the authors’ judgment from a legal paradigm and a human resources perspective, it is best if such a program is a “carrot” based one. Although, we acknowledge that the “stick” approach can also motivate behavior toward becoming healthier and employers should implement it with a positive tone to minimize resistance and increase its acceptance by employees in the most efficient manner possible. As such, the rational and egoistic employee will certainly take heed of the “sales pitch”—Get healthy, feel good, and save money! Such an approach if carried out in a legal and ethical manner, in the authors’ judgment, would be a “win-win” scenario for the employee and employer as well as society as a whole.

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Summary

Creating and implementing a wellness program can be beneficial to the employer as well as the employee. The goal is to have an efficient, effective, legal, and moral wellness program that helps the employee to attain and keep good health as well as help the employer to manage and reduce healthcare costs. Furthermore, beyond legality, the employer must be cognizant of the ethical issues involved and consequently must strive to have a moral wellness program and not one perceived as coercive, manipulative, demeaning, or punitive by the employees. The goal, as always, is to be fair to all employees and to always act legally and ethically.

The employer’s ultimate objective, therefore, should be to create a “wellness culture” in the workplace by means of its legal and moral wellness programs and other healthy-lifestyle measures. A company’s investments in its employees’ health and wellness will “pay off” for the company in the long-run and naturally will benefit the employees, their co-workers, families, communities, and society as a whole. Encouraging and motivating employees to get involved in work wellness programs using “carrots” and “sticks” will produce positive feelings on the part of the employee as well as positive interaction among employees who, for example, may share wellness “tips,” anecdotes, and most importantly, “success stories.” The employees, employer, as well as all the stakeholders affected, will benefit from such a “good” wellness program.

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Notes

Citation: Mujtaba BG, Cavico FJ. Corporate wellness programs: implementation challenges in the modern American workplace. International Journal of Health Policy and Management 2013; 1: 193–199.

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Footnotes

Ethical issues

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

The authors have had equal contributions in this article.

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References

  1. Cavico FJ, Cavico NM. Employment At-Will, Public Policy, and the Nursing Profession.Quinnipiac Health Law Journal. 2005;8:161–238.
  2. Examination Management Service, Inc. v. Kersh Risk Management, Inc., 367 S.W.3d 835 (Tex. App. 2012).
  3. Walter Haverfield LLP. Employee Benefits. Wellness Programs. [cited 2013 February 22]. Available from: http://www.walterhav.com/practice_areas/index.htm
  4. Juergens JL. Gallagher Sharp Attorneys. Wellness Programs: Issues Employers Must Conquer To Avoid Legal Consequences. 2009.[cited 2013 February 23]. Available from:http://www.gallaghersharp.com/useful_tools/Wellness%20Programs.pdf
  5. Mattke S, Schnyer Ch, Van Busum KR. A Review of the U.S. Workplace Wellness Market. Rand Corporation, U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012 July. Document Number.: OP-373-DOL.
  6. Mujtaba BG, Cavico FJ. Employee Wellness Programs’ “Carrots” and “Sticks”. Academy for Global Business Advancement Proceedings; June 15–17, 2013; Bangkok, Thailand.
  7. Cavico FJ, Mujtaba BG. Health and Wellness Policy Ethics. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 2013;1:111–13. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  8. Eyal N. Denial of treatment to obese patients—the wrong policy on personal responsibility for health. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 2013;1:107–10.[PMC free article] [PubMed]
  9. Sizemore SC. A Fatter Butt Equals a Skinnier Wallet: Why Workplace Wellness Programs Discriminate Against the Obese and Violate Federal Employment Law. Wyoming Law Review.2011;11:639–72.
  10. Stafford D. With more obese Americans, healthcare costs rise. The Miami Herald. 2013, April 11. p. 10B.
  11. Lamkin M. Health Care Reform, Wellness Programs, and the Erosion of Informed Consent.Kentucky Law Journal. 2013;101:435–82.
  12. Hill C. International business: Competing in the global marketplace. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2013.
  13. Kwoh L. Shape Up or Pay Up: Firms Put in New Health Penalties. The Wall Street Journal. 2013, April 6–7. p. A1–10.
  14. Santich K. The price of poor health. Sun-Sentinel. 2013, April 28. p. 4D.
  15. Mathews AW. When All Else Fails: Forcing Workers Into Healthy Habits. The Wall Street Journal. 2009, July 8. p. D1.
  16. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The Doctor Will See You Now. And Now. And Now. [updated 2013 May 20–26; cited 2013 July 10]. Available from:http://resourcecenter.businessweek.com/reviews/the-doctor-will-see-you-now.-and-now.-and-now
  17. Schmidt H, Voigt K, Wikler D. Carrots, Sticks, and Healthcare Reform—Problems with Wellness Incentives. N Eng J Med. 2010;362: e3. [PubMed]
  18. Cavico FJ, Mujtaba BG. Managers Be Warned! Third-Party Retaliation Lawsuits and the United States Supreme Court. International Journal of Business and Social Sciences. 2011;2:8–17.
  19. EEOC [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2013 February 22]. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Available from: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm
  20. Employee Benefits Legal Blog [homepage on the Internet]. 2008. [cited 2013 February 22]. Is a Wellness Program an ERISA Plan? Available from:http://employeebenefits.foxrothschild.com/2008/08/articles/welfare-plans/is-a-wellness-program-an-ERISA-plan/
  21. Noll E. Good-Intentioned Wellness Programs Need Rules Too. Corporate Wellness Magazine [serial on the Internet]. [updated 2010 July 8]. [cited 2013 February 22]; Available from: http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/intentioned-wellness-programs.html
  22. Muffler SC, Cavico FJ, Mujtaba BG. Diversity, Disparate Impact, and Ethics in Business: Implications of the New Haven Firefighters’ Case and the Supreme Court’s Ricci vDeStefano Decision. SAM Advanced Management Journal. 2010;75:11–9.

 

 

 

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CORPORATE WELLNESS

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

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Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

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A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

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If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

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HELP PLS

Your Therapist Is Typing…

Laura Turner

 

Jul 14 2016, 9:34 PM

67 diggs  Save Share  Tweet

Amy Overgaard thought she was going to die. It was December 2014, and the 26-year-old freelance writer from Minnesota was getting ready for a morning meeting when she felt her body betray her.

“It came totally out of the blue, just hit me like a truck and bowled me over,” says Overgaard. “I remember getting hot and my mind started racing. I had thoughts flashing in my head that were the worst-case scenario of my life, like I was alone and a burden. It was a horrible reeling of my mind. I started breathing really fast, and my heart was racing.”

What had just happened? She wasn’t sure, and with her meeting coming up and the need to piece together income from her various jobs, she didn’t have time or money to see a therapist.

“In the tradition of my stoic Norwegian upbringing, I just shoved it down and pretended it didn’t happen,” she recalls. “That was my rapid introduction into the world of anxiety.”

With some financial help from a nearby clinic, Amy was able to see a therapist, but they never clicked. So she turned to something she always has with her: her phone.

“It was my doctor who introduced me to Calm,” she says. “The moment I click into that app, it’s like, relaxation.” At $39.99 per year, her subscription is just a fraction of what she would pay to see a therapist. Thanks to the internet, Amy has what she describes as “a resource that’s targeting when I’m feeling stressed, or when I can’t sleep or when I’m filled with anxiety.”

America has a mental health problem. Anxiety is the most common disorder in the country, affecting around 40 million Americans over the age of 18. Add to the mix the 14.8 million Americans with major depression, and you’re looking at 17 percent of the total US population who live with those afflictions.​

It’s a crisis, but not a unique one. Humanity has been trying to cure mental health disorders since time immemorial — you only need look to Hippocrates on melancholia or the author of 1 Samuel on David. In the grand view of history, therapeutic treatment for mental health is a blip — a helpful, professional, governed blip.

Today, as the rate of depression increases in America, we are increasingly turning to the internet to provide treatment options that are customizable, omnipresent and social. Almost everyone has a phone that’s connected to the internet, so it should follow that almost everyone has access to mental health therapy. But what do we lose when we gain increased access? Can the same internet that notoriously breeds contempt also foster personal growth and compassion?

That question has been driving Ricardo Muñoz ever since he began his career in psychology. And the answer might lie in, of all things, a pamphlet.

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Muñoz was ten years old when his family left the small river valley town of Chosicá, Peru, to move to San Francisco’s Mission District in 1961. At the time, the Mission was receiving an influx of Latino immigrants due to economic and governmental instability in Central and South America. Initially, Muñoz wanted to be a therapist and provide services to the low-income, Spanish-speaking population in the Mission, but a fateful encounter with a college professor changed all that.

“You sit in your offices and you wait for people to suffer enough to come see you,” the professor said in a lecture at the University of Oregon, where Muñoz was a student. “You should go out into your community and teach the skills you have.”

Muñoz, an excitable gentleman now in his 60s with a penchant for beginning his sentences with “heck,” was sold. And so began his unusual career in psychology that would lead him to be both a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a researcher out of San Francisco General Hospital — a vital part of the city’s social safety net. Instead of solely focusing on treatment, Muñoz chose to specialize in a little-researched part of psychology: Depression prevention.

Almost everyone has a phone that’s connected to the internet, so it should follow that almost everyone has access to mental health therapy.

This is one of Muñoz’s greatest passions: Helping people help themselves before they require help from others. “Most mental health services, including health services in general, are consumable,” he explains. The hour a patient spends at a therapist’s office can never benefit anyone else. Once used, it’s over. The non-consumable intervention, however, is the perpetual motion of psychiatry — a single pamphlet, or recently an app, can reach a near-infinite amount of people, seemingly forever.

“That’s one of the reasons why our health care system is so expensive,” he notes. “We rely almost entirely on consumable interventions that are used up as soon as we administer them to somebody.”

Muñoz’s first major breakthrough in the non-consumable interventions came in 1997, treating not the mentally ill, but chronic smokers. Muñoz and his colleague Eliseo Perez-Stable mailed brochures to people who had requested information about how to stop smoking. They included a two-page mood-management intervention explaining that “if you can keep your mood healthy you’re more likely to remain” a nonsmoker.

And it worked. After completing a study linking mood management with smoking cessation, Muñoz came to a realization: “If you can do this through the mail, why not try to do it through the web?”

An internet-based non-consumable intervention is what Muñoz and his colleagues created with the Massive Open Online Intervention, or MOOI. While the best way of doing therapy is face to face, says Muñoz, “There’s a part of therapy that involves teaching.” And with the internet, teaching can be done across space and time.

In 2012, Muñoz and his colleagues created an online resource for MOOIs, the Institute for International Internet Interventions for Health, or as it’s known on the web: i4Health. Anyone with an internet connection can visit i4Health and download manuals on depression prevention, maternal mental health and mood management.

“Heck, I mean, the site is up. If I’m on vacation, if eventually I retire, the site could still be providing the intervention. I mean, if I die, the thing could still be up there,” he says. “That’s an amazing thing! That’s why I’m so captivated by this idea.”

Muñoz is especially aware that not everyone can afford face-to-face therapy. For many years, while Muñoz ran the Depression Specialty Clinic at SF General, patients could come and see a psychiatrist for free. “But some of our patients, even those who lived in the Mission, didn’t have the money to pay for the Muni bus ride to get them here,” says Muñoz. “So the internet takes that place.”

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More people are going online to deal with their mental health issues than ever before. According to Google Trends web searches for “anxiety” were at their worldwide peak in April 2016. And with the introduction of the smartphone app, the internet is taking a more active role in mental health treatment. There are some 3,000 mental health apps on Google Play and Apple’s App store according to the Wall Street Journal. Our access to online mental health resources is unprecedented with a smartphone in hand.

Though we might consider ourselves an advanced society when it comes to access to and caliber of treatment, there is still a stigma attached to anxiety and depression. But if mental health resources come primarily from the privacy of your own device, rather than a counselor’s office or a pill, you might more likely to accept some help.

That was the case for Josh B., a 27-year-old college student and freelance marketer who lives in San Francisco. “Even within my own family there are people who don’t believe in mental health as a concept,” he says over coffee in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Josh, who asked that we not use his last name so future employers can’t find his mental health history, has lived with depression for as long as he can remember. Four years ago, while moving to San Francisco, Josh went through one of the worst bouts he ever experienced. “I couldn’t sleep very well and I was bummed out all the time and had no energy… I spent a lot of time in bed,” he says. It was during this time he spotted an ad on a bus for a clinical trial at the University of California San Francisco.

The study, called Marigold, sought to “evaluate the safety and effects” of a new medication on people who had tried two or more kinds of antidepressant medications. “I knew some of those studies are paid, so I thought it was worth it to see what the study was about,” says Josh. Despite the study’s stated nature, the internet was about to play a large role in Josh’s recovery from depression.

For four months, Josh, who was in the control group, got a regular check-in on his phone from an app developed by UCSF researchers. Josh and the other participants used the app (and later, after some technical difficulties, a website) to register their experiences with depression on a scale of 1-7. The questions varied. One survey asked Josh to quantify how much he had felt (selecting from six set emotions: scorn, boredom, awe, sadness, stress, and loneliness) in the last week. The study also had participants check in about their levels of activity, sleep and self-perception — asking participants things like: “Do you currently think of yourself as depressed?” These questions are standard things a therapist would ask you to help track your moods, but delivering them through an app meant that people who didn’t have to have access to therapy could still treat their depression.

“[The survey] was something I had to do. I was responsible for participating in the study,” says Josh. “And if I didn’t do the survey at the times I was supposed to then someone would know and send me an email.”

Psychologists suggest that accountability is key to successfully treating depression in Internet-based interventions — exactly what the Marigold study did for its participants. “I found the study really helpful,” Josh says. “I’ve had a mixed bag experience with therapy… for the first time in years, I found myself being mindful of how [I was feeling].”

If mental health resources come primarily from the privacy of your own device, rather than a counselor’s office or a pill, you might more likely to accept some help.

Accountability is built into most new mental health treatment apps. 7 Cupsbills itself as an “on-demand emotional health and well-being service.” Kokois “a social network that calms your mind.” Calm opens onto a relaxing scene of an Alpine lake, complete with ambient bird noises, where it offers to give you “7 Days of Calming Anxiety” — for a fee.

Many of these apps offer a freemium model, where you can get access to a limited number of resources like guided meditations or chat rooms. Prices vary from $39.99 for an annual subscription to Calm to $25 a week forTalkspace, an app that connects users with licensed therapists for text-based conversations.1 These are all less expensive than paying out of pocket for an hour with a therapist, which usually runs between $75 and $150.

Premium app services aren’t a necessity to receive treatment, however. This was the case for Caitlin David, a 23-year-old editor living in Southern California. Diagnosed with ADD in high school, David found that her medication made her depression “ten times worse.” “I usually won’t get out of bed… I won’t do much of anything,” says David. “I’ve never been suicidal, but there have been points when I’ve thought, I don’t know why I’m here.”

Her parents went to counseling throughout their adult lives, so David followed suit and went to see a counselor. That counselor recommended a paid app, something that David, a broke college student, couldn’t afford. So she found the free-to-use Pacifica, and has been using it ever since.

“I’m particularly fond of Pacifica because it directly deals with a problem I call ‘phase blindness’ — the inability to remember that I’ve ever felt anything other than what I’m feeling right now,” says Esmé Weijun Wang, a writer. Wang lives with multiple diagnoses, including schizoaffective disorder, anxiety and PTSD. “With Pacifica, I can look at the mood log and see that I was, in fact, happy five days ago,” she says. “Even though I might feel like I’ve only ever been anxious and panicky.”

Founded by entrepreneurs Dale Beermann and Chris Goettel, Pacifica draws from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, asking users to track their moods and thus escape from cycles of anxiety.

Not having the funds to pay for regular therapy, David depends on Pacifica to see her through some of her worst bouts of depression and anxiety. It may not be as good as regular counseling, she admits, but it’s better than nothing.

Nothing in therapy is easy. The point is to pay attention to the most painful parts of your inner life, learn from them and change them. An app can help one understand some of the pieces of the puzzle that is mental health — like mood tracking and self-reflection — but they are limited in their ability to fully address it. A therapist can offer something more personal than the one-size-fits-most solutions offered by apps; medication can address neurochemistry. An app can only help as much as the user will allow it, and those who struggle with anxiety or depression may find it difficult to use an app that requires regular attention and input.

Everyone I spoke with also mentioned this downside of having such easy access to treatment: You have to go through your phone to get there.

Opening Twitter on my phone is a series of almost unconscious swipes and presses; it is contemporary atavism. The same thumb that finds meditations when I need to sleep can also open up the apps that make my thoughts swirl and incite dangerous levels of envy and comparison. The very device that can bring relief can easily, with a single tap, trigger social media-born bouts of anxiety and depression.

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Efficacy aside, apps designed to work with anxiety and depression find themselves in an identity crisis: Are they a technology platform? Or are they mental health care providers?

In their Terms of Service, Talkspace says, in bolded caps, “TALKSPACE DOES NOT OFFER THERAPY DIRECTLY OR SELL THERAPY SERVICES.” It’s the same caveat that Uber makes — they aren’t a transportation company, just a matchmaking service.

Talkspace co-founder Oren Frank and his wife, Roni, found themselves at a crossroads in their marriage several years ago in their native Israel. Separated and ready to file for divorce, they went to counseling as a last resort. “It was a very powerful experience,” says Oren Frank. Buoyed by the insights gained from therapy, the couple moved to New York and started to research why therapy hadn’t moved online in the same way that things like dating and travel reservations had.

“Most people don’t book travel via live agents, most people find their matches and their dating elsewhere,” Frank says. “So how come [therapy] didn’t migrate to a digital distribution platform? Before you know it you’re in a start-up.”

The very device that can bring relief can easily, with a single tap, trigger social media-born bouts of anxiety and depression.

Last year, Talkspace raised $9.5 million in their Series A funding round. According to Frank, Talkspace currently employs over 600 therapists (as contractors) and are onboarding “a couple hundred more.” Over 300,000 people have gone through their free consultation. “It’s a very big clinic if you look at it in that terms. I would assume it’s probably the largest in the world,” says Frank.

I press him on the 300,000 — does that mean people who have completed the program? Frank says no. “That is everyone who came in, and many of them just did a free consultation, so they talked to the intake therapist and didn’t really go into treatment.” And the therapists — are they bound by state licensing laws only to practice in their states? “No one knows,” he says. “It’s completely unregulated. There’s no law, rule, or regulation whatsoever — and we got very extensive legal advice on that.”

I asked Danielle Schlosser, an assistant professor of psychology at University of California at San Francisco about this. “This is an area that the Board of Psychology and states haven’t touched yet,” she says. “The laws have not caught up to the technology.” According to the California Board of Psychology, “California residents may only receive treatment from someone who is licensed within California.”

When I signed up for a trial, I saw that my Talkspace therapist was from Florida. She sent me an informed consent form before we got started, and a careful read revealed that I was essentially signing up to therapy by Florida rules: It seemed strange to have to agree that our location was Florida when I was sitting at my computer in California, but it was the only way to move forward.

I posed the question of cross-state therapy to Frank. “The licenses are not bound by state,” he says. “If you’re a therapist you’re a therapist.” But a moment later, he clarifies, “The boards in the states are the ones issuing the license, and they require that you practice in your state only.” Has Talkspace found a loophole to exploit? They are in the business of remote therapy, Frank says.

Schlosser sees things a little differently. “[D]ifferent states have different laws for practicing across state lines,” she says. State licensing boards are in place to ensure that mental health professionals are accountable to someone other than their clients, and requirements vary from state to state.

In California, for example, in order to be a licensed professional clinical counselor students must receive training on state-mandated topics such as child abuse, recovery-oriented care and human sexuality, according toCounselor-License, a website that tracks state-by-state licensure requirements.

Out-of-state students have to document that they have been trained on those topics before they are licensed. In an article addressing distance therapy, the American Psychological Association wrote, “[T]here is little consistent guidance across states on how psychologists should use” technology to treat clients across state lines, but, “you may need to be licensed both in your own state and in your clients’ state in order to practice.” California is one of three states that has passed laws about online therapy, and according to the APA it “requires that providers obtain both written and verbal informed consent before providing telehealth services, including a description of the potential risks, consequences, and benefits of telemedicine.”

What’s more, there are no standards of treatment when it comes to apps, so the internet ends up being a little like the Wild West of self-help. The FDA will regulate anything that makes a claim about a specific disorder, but it doesn’t have any oversight over apps like Calm, which simply offers a way to “meditate and relax with guided mindfulness meditation.” In a recent white paper, the FDA said it “intends to apply its regulatory oversight to only those mobile apps that are medical devices and whose functionality could pose a risk to a patient’s safety.” This means that apps like Calm, which are designed as a stand-in or supplement to therapy, will not be regulated.

The stigma of mental illness and lack of resources are two of the major obstacles people face in addressing mental health, and apps can play a role in overcoming both: They’re significantly less expensive than traditional talk therapy, and they can be used in private.

And this isn’t just in theory, it’s something that therapists are noticing here and now. “I have a lot of male clients [on Talkspace], and I had zero male clients in my private practice,” says therapist Shannon McFarlin. “Our culture has shamed men about showing emotion. Men feel more comfortable on this platform because there’s no stigma,” she says. “They’re using technology so it doesn’t necessarily feel like therapy, but I have had these incredible conversations and breakthroughs with my male clients.”

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I signed up for a Talkspace trial and was introduced to Gina. Gina would not be my therapist, but would match me with the person who would be. Gina responded quickly to my in-app text messages, but the communication often felt clumsy and impersonal, like it was pasted from a template.

I am so glad that you have subscribed. We will start the matching process, so that i make sure you get the therapist who is right for you. Everything we have talked about so far gives me a good idea already, but if you don’t mind I will leave some more questions for you to answer which will help me even more.

I shared my age, gender and location in the initial chat, but they got lost somehow, and Gina asked me again for my basic biographical details. “Female, age 30, San Francisco, freelancer writer,” I wrote. I highlighted the phrase and copied it for future reference, which came in handy when I was finally matched with a therapist. In addition to being a Talkspace therapist, Nicole Amesbury is the head of their clinical development — which may have been part of why, as a reporter, I was matched with her. Her bio read, in part: “It is my experience that my clients know themselves better than anyone… a good therapeutic relationship includes trust, authenticity, freedom and positive outcomes.”

Building trust over the internet is something I’m familiar with. As I’ve written extensively about my own experience with anxiety, I’ve been invited into other people’s experiences with depression, medication, and anxiety disorders. Cultivating a healthy relationship with a therapist I’d never met didn’t seem so foreign in a world where most of my long-distance relationships are kept up over text message.

Your online therapist can’t hold you accountable to any degree more serious than sending a couple of emails.

The promises of online therapy are lofty, but not entirely unrealistic. In some cases, the technological advances that have enabled online or text-based therapy have been life-saving. “One client I have is a new mom with a little baby and she has post-partum depression,” McFarlin says. “She can’t leave the house to go to an appointment right now, but we talk every day.”

Brooklyn-based journalist Rebecca McCray tried Talkspace when she got a discount code and her former therapist no longer took her insurance. “Talkspace seemed like it could be a decent alternative,” says McCray. But she’s had mixed results. “I imagine the feeling of anonymity could make it easier [for some people] to divulge painful personal issues,” she says. “For me, the most valuable in-person sessions are those in which a conversation pushes me into a really uncomfortable place. But with Talkspace, I can put down my phone and not open the app if I feel even vague discomfort.”

That ability to quickly check out of a therapeutic relationship is harder to do in person, where you can’t delete an app or ignore your therapist without at least a voicemail or email. Your online therapist can’t hold you accountable to any degree more serious than sending a couple of emails, or, in the case of Talkspace, sending a few messages if you disappear for several weeks.

My Talkspace therapist didn’t even have my phone number, and no one knew that I was talking to her — I didn’t have to explain to any of my friends that I couldn’t meet them for happy hour because I was seeing my therapist, something I have had to do in real life. To be held accountable online is an inconvenience easily done away with in the space of a few clicks; a quick cancellation; the act of deleting an app. The ease of access that makes distance therapy so desirable in the first place can also be its downfall.

On the face of it, Talkspace isn’t doing anything revolutionary. Phone calls with therapists have existed almost as long as phone calls and therapists — The VA, in particular has been practicing telehealth for almost two decades. The field of telehealth is robust and is still growing, especially in psychiatry. Talkspace is harnessing new technology — smartphones, not phones — in service of an old practice, but this time, it’s not just the therapist who is making the money.

We’re all independent contractors and we get paid a percentage of the subscription price,” McFarlin said. Instead of the client paying the therapist directly, he or she pays Talkspace, who then cuts a check to the therapist. Distance therapy has its advantages for the therapists too. Most Talkspace therapists either maintain an in-person practice or have in the past, but the serve allows them to expand their client base outside of their immediate area. To borrow a tired analogy, it’s similar to Uber, but for therapy.

McFarlin wouldn’t comment on whether this made Talkspace therapists eager to add more clients to their roster, but she did say that as a mentor to other Talkspace therapists she makes an additional stipend.

The ease of access that makes distance therapy so desirable in the first place can also be its downfall.

While apps like Talkspace repackage traditional therapy methods into an app, others begin with lofty ambitions. Joyable, a platform that connects users with “coaches” to guide them through activities meant to help alleviate social anxiety, states its mission is to “cure the world of anxiety and depression.”

I spoke with Dana (not her real name), a former employee at Joyable. When she joined in 2015 Dana was excited about the possibilities Joyable held for working with people with social anxiety. Specifically, she was interested in the model Joyable uses — that it relied heavily on the tools Dana had previously found so useful in her own experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

“CBT is well-studied and well-regarded; it’s also short-term, which is great for a program like Joyable,” says Dana. Different from psychoanalysis, CBT addresses an acute issue or set of issues and, eventually, helps you make your way off the therapist’s couch (or, in this case, the chat room) and back into the real world.

At Joyable, a person signs up for a relationship with a coach who walks them through a series of questionnaires and exercises designed to deal with social anxiety in different settings — at work, at parties, with friends. The client might set goals with their coach, like “Give a presentation at a work meeting.”

Their website has a section that defines social anxiety, complete with inspirational quotes in the header. “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes,” one header reads. On the one hand, this quote reflects classic CBT beliefs: If you work hard enough to change your thoughts, you will overcome your unwanted mental patterns. On the other hand, it could be read as a condemnation of those who aren’t happy. If changing your attitude were that easy, wouldn’t we all do it?

According to Dana, social anxiety wasn’t Joyable’s initial target. “Their idea was to do something more broad, [but] the clinical advisor told them that CBT is especially effective for social anxiety,” says Dana. “The story was more that, we know anxiety and depression are very prevalent, and we’re business folks, and we’re going to take this on.”

That business-minded approach led to a rapid expansion. Dana was one of the first employees at Joyable when she was hired as a coach in 2015. Now, there are around 30 coaches, many of whom are coming straight from college.

A coach’s job at Joyable is to check in with users and remind them to work through the online module. “A client load can be very high,” Dana says. “I had as many as 120 clients at once because I started very early. Newer coaches probably hover around the 40-60 client range.”

I wondered what their training was like. Dana pauses. “There’s no requirement for any sort of mental health credential or background,” she says. “Although the hiring criteria changed a bit while I was there.” Dana’s training consisted of “about a week… not just on CBT and the program, but all coach functioning. The actual amount of training on CBT is pretty minimal. I would say during onboarding there are maybe 2 or 3 hours devoted to CBT.”

One of the difficulties with any kind of mental health treatment is that a person who presents with one issue — like social anxiety — might also be dealing with concurrent diagnoses. The difficulty at Joyable was that coaches wouldn’t know about a concurrent diagnosis unless their client also knew and reported it. “Sometimes coaches would get messages or calls from people who would be having thoughts of suicide or would be actively using alcohol or drugs in a way that was harmful to them,” she says. “So you have coaches who are just out of college and haven’t been given any training on what other mental health conditions look like.”

Dana also mentioned that users would occasionally make passes at coaches, but since coaches are rated on feedback from their clients, they were reticent to set strong boundaries.

“The philosophy of the leadership of the company was basically, ‘We don’t need mental health professionals as coaches; the coaches are not doing any sort of mental health service,’” Dana says. Joyable coaches occasionally ended up as crisis counselors, despite not having much training for dealing with people in crisis. This is the danger: young, inadequately prepared people on the phone with clients who are suicidal or having a manic episode or deeply depressed.

This is complicated, and not entirely Joyable’s fault. They are clear about what they do, which is address social anxiety. Their homepage, which explains the program, refers to coaches several times but never explicitly says they are not licensed mental health professionals. However, their FAQdoes say so, and coaches are trained to state this during initial calls with clients.

This is the danger: young, inadequately prepared people on the phone with clients who are suicidal or having a manic episode or deeply depressed.

Dana found this approach alarming. “Their mission to ‘cure the world of anxiety and depression’ — you just don’t cure those things,” she says. From her perspective, the company’s leadership paid lip service to the idea of feedback but didn’t actually take it. “I was concerned about the potential that Joyable ads were potentially misleading to clients,” she says. “We already had enough clients who were experiencing suicidal ideation and coaches weren’t trained on that.” Dana asked if the company was going to hire an in-house medical advisor and was repeatedly told no. “They have this very, ‘move fast-break things’ mentality that’s very tech-centric,” she says. “And it doesn’t work well with mental health.”

I reached out to Joyable for comment on each of the specific points Dana mentioned. Joyable co-founder and CEO Peter Shalek didn’t address the allegations, and instead sent a statement about how he and his co-founder, Steve Marks, “have family members and close friends who’ve suffered from anxiety and depression. We’ve seen how hard it is to get help, and we don’t want anyone else to suffer that experience.”

Shalek also says the company “works with leading experts” to deliver mental health care, and that they have “an escalation protocol designed by Dr. Lanny Berman,” the former President of the International Association of Suicide Prevention. Shalek says they intend to bring on a full-time Chief Medical Officer and are proud of their “incredibly talented team of coaches and the role they play in supporting our clients as they overcome social anxiety and dramatically change their lives.”

Even with her experience at Joyable, Dana doesn’t count out the utility of the internet for addressing mental health. “Being able to talk to a licensed mental health professional in a way that is low-cost would be excellent. One thing I’m watching with interest is the expansion of provider networks for mental health care services.”

Joyable might embrace the tech industry’s outsized ambitions, but Pacifica takes a different approach. “We don’t have any intention of replacing therapy,” says Chris Goettel, Pacifica’s co-founder. Goettel struggled with social anxiety in his teenage years, and his background in consumer apps led to investigate what kinds of online help might be available.

It was October 2014, and he found “meditation apps that had really nice designs, but they didn’t use the same clinical tools I had learned from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” he says. “Then there were CBT apps, but they had a very clinical feel.” So Goettel got in touch with Dale Beermann, his former colleague at an educational startup called StudyBlue, and together, they entered the app market. They hired Christine Moberg, then a Stanford postdoc and now a psychologist at the Palo Alto VA Hospital, as an advisor and content consultant.

Like a handful of similar apps, Pacifica aspires to be FDA-approved as an evidence-based tool, and thus covered by insurance. “The long-term vision has always been to get to a place where Pacifica is a reimbursable part of approved treatment plans,” says Beermann. There are no official guidelines at the moment as to how an app can be incorporated into an insurance plan, but that isn’t stopping apps from trying to be the next best moment in mental health. The therapist’s office is still an option, but the avenues to address mental health are manifold.

Pacifica doesn’t connect users with coaches or listeners, as some apps do, because “if you think about the end user’s mindset, if they’re working with an individual to address their mental health, there is an assumption that that individual is qualified to be working with them,” Beermann says. “It honestly scares the hell out of me that there are companies like Joyable that are providing mental health services without a licensed medical professional doing it,” Beermann says.

The tradeoff is that increased access — to other people, to mental health resources, to less expensive treatment — often come at a cost.

Ambitious as they might be, most of the apps springing up to address mental health aren’t suggesting they will replace talk therapy, which is generally considered to be one of the most effective forms of treatment for anxiety and depression. Traditional, in-person therapy will always be a better way to address mental health than clicking through an app to do a ten-minute meditation.

But despite their limitations and caveats, everyone I spoke with saw their own smartphone-led path as one that led to increased empathy, and ultimately, healthier living.

“Anxiety made me feel completely alone and hopeless,” Amy Overgaard says. “The only way you can not feel alone in that, is to share your experience and realize how many people in your life around you are dealing with the same things. You see people with more compassion when you know what it feels like to feel broken and hopeless.”

Living with depression often saps a person of energy, but a 2002 study found that “People who are depressed are more likely to be highly prone to… an empathetic response to the distress of others.” Being aware of and working on your depression or anxiety daily, even through the help of an app, can make a person more tuned in to the depression or anxiety of the people around them.

The tradeoff is that increased access — to other people, to mental health resources, to less expensive treatment — often come at a cost. These can be small and literal, like when a person downloads a $5 app. They can also be unknown, like when a person who has never tried face-to-face therapy opts to see a counselor online. Or they might be enormous, and life-altering. What happens when a suicidal person expects an app to lift themselves out of depression? Is it their fault for having unrealistic expectations, or the app’s fault for making outsized promises or something else altogether?

Anyone with a smartphone can seek help with relative ease. The barrier to entry is low, but considering the cost and quality of the treatment — from Pacifica’s low-risk meditations to Joyable’s questionable ambition — when it comes to mental health, there might not always be an app for that.

 

For more Digg Features, check out our archive.

1 You can even buy your loved one a Talkspace gift card to “Give the Gift of Happiness!” 

Laura Turner writes from San Francisco about the intersection of religion and culture.

IMAX-ING OUT ON AWESOMENESS

Korean Movie Theaters Blow American Ones Out Of The Water

60 diggs Video Movies World

Color changing beer machine? Your own surround-sound headphones? Massage chairs? Actual beds? You name it, they have it all.

60

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF TUBES

How The Internet Was Invented

53 diggs The Guardian Internet HistoriesTechnology

In 40 years, the internet has morphed from a military communication network into a vast global cyberspace. And it all started in a California beer garden.

53

POKÉMON OH NO

‘Pokémon Go’ Players Cause A Literal Stampede In Central Park Over A Vaporeon

51 diggs Vimeo Video Gaming

Mind you, this is a literal stampede for a virtual Pokémon.

51

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ling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks.[1] In children, there may be nauseaand vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Nausea and vomiting occur more commonly in the unrelated infection gastroenteritis, which is sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or the “24-hour flu”. Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumoniasinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.

Three types of influenza viruses affect people, called Type A, Type B, and Type C. Usually, the virus is spread through the air from coughs or sneezes.[1] This is believed to occur mostly over relatively short distances. It can also be spread by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus and then touching the mouth or eyes. A person may be infectious to others both before and during the time they are showing symptoms. The infection may be confirmed by testing the throat, sputum, or nose for the virus. A number of rapid tests are available; however, people may still have the infection if the results are negative.  A type of polymerase chain reaction that detects the virus’s RNA is more accurate.

Frequent hand washing reduces the risk of viral spread. Wearing a surgical mask is also useful. And of course there are  vaccinations against influenza which are recommended by the World Health Organization for those at high risk but are a source of controversy.

 

 

Symptoms of influenza may include:

It can be difficult to distinguish between the common cold and influenza in the early stages of these infections. Influenza is a mixture of symptoms of common cold and pneumonia, body ache, headache, and fatigue. Diarrhea is not normally a symptom of influenza in adults,  although it has been seen in some human cases of the H5N1 “bird flu  and can be a symptom in children.The symptoms most reliably seen in influenza are shown in the adjacent table.

 

A few tips recommended by various healers include the following:

  • Oregano Oil
  • Olive Leaf Extract
  • Ester C
  • Zinc
  • Homeopathic remedies

If you have an interest in having a basic understanding of personal development and natural healing (and you need to) here is an interview I did with James Selman, a pioneer and innovator in Leadership research.

 

Just click below to watch the entire interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRf87puZPY

 

oooooooooooooooooo

Listen here as Lewis explain how we can give up unnecessary struggle through visionary thinking in this insightful interview with award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project

 

Here is a great book on hands-on healing

 

http://realuguru.com/products/printed-books/hands-on-healing/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison is the director of the Academy of Natural Healing at the International Association of Healing Professionals.

 

To learn more about our classes self-healing and personal development go to: http://healingassociation.com/ and click on “Certification Courses”

 

Lewis is also founder of the RealUGuru Project Think Tank is a is a life coach, peak performance expert, writer, mentor, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to study with Lewis Harrison. Begin by reading  Lewis’ books.

If you are an entrepreneur you will want to begin with his books on game theory and business success.  Here are two basic ones to start with:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

The offerings on RealUGuru.com focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

This blog is sponsored by the New York City Chair Massage Company at  www.eventschairmassage.com, supplying stress management services to event and meeting planners for trade shows throughout the United States.

The New York City Chair Massage Company  offers stress management as well as the best chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Problems

 

If you have digestive challenges caused by abnormal yeast, bacteria or parasites there are many botanical and nutritional therapies that can be of help.

 

Among the first approaches suggested one may wish to take:

  • Assess specialized issues such as allergies or sensitivities to wheat, gluten, corn, dairy eggs, chocolate.
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Increased soluble fiber intake
  • Fermented probiotic rich foods (Sauerkraut, Kefir, Tempeh, Yogurt, Kombucha).
  • Remove highly processed and junk food replacing them with whole foods, fewer carbohydrates, and a plant-based “organic” diet.
  • Get some “energy” or “Qi” based bodywork like Reiki, polarity therapy, or acupressure.
  • Explore Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Explore emotional and stress sources for your symptoms by going to a Holistic Doctor or naturopath.
  • Explore emotional sources for the symptoms and consider working with a somatic therapist
  • If none of this seems to make a difference consider an in depth medical evaluation including an endoscopy, blood work etc. If necessary see a gastroenterologist.
  • Go on a low FODMAP diet.

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They include short chain oligo-saccharide polymers of fructose (fructans) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS, stachyose,raffinose), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and sugar alcohols (polyols), such as sorbitol,mannitolxylitol and maltitol

The term FODMAP is an acronym, derived from “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols”. Although FODMAPs are naturally present in food and the human diet, FODMAP restriction has been found to improve symptom control in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). Prior to the formation of the FODMAP concept, diet was seldom used as first line therapy for management of IBS and other FGID.

Over many years, there have been multiple observations that ingestion of certain short-chain carbohydrates, including lactose, fructose and sorbitol, fructans and galactooligosaccharides, induced IBS-like symptoms. These studies also showed that dietary restriction of short-chain carbohydrates was associated with symptom improvement in some people with IBS.

These short-chain carbohydrates (lactose, fructose and sorbitol, fructans and GOS) behave similarly in the intestine. Firstly, being small molecules and either poorly absorbed or not absorbed at all, they drag water into the intestine via osmosis. Secondly, these molecules are readily fermented by colonic bacteria, so upon malabsorption in the small intestine they enter the large intestine where they generate gases (hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane). The dual actions of these carbohydrates cause an expansion in volume of intestinal contents, which stretches the intestinal wall and stimulates nerves in the gut. It is this ‘stretching’ that triggers the sensations of pain and discomfort that are commonly experienced by IBS sufferers.

The FODMAP concept was first published in 2005 as part of a hypothesis paper.  In this paper, it was proposed that a collective reduction in the dietary intake of all indigestible or slowly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates would minimise stretching of the intestinal wall. This was proposed to reduce stimulation of the gut’s nervous system and provide the best chance of reducing symptom generation in people with IBS (see below). At the time, there was no collective term for indigestible or slowly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates, so the term ‘FODMAP’ was created to improve understanding and facilitate communication of the concept.[1]

The low FODMAP diet was originally developed by a research team at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The Monash team undertook the first research to investigate whether a low FODMAP diet improved symptom control in patients with IBS and established the mechanism by which the diet exerted its effect.  Monash University also established a rigorous food analysis program to measure the FODMAP content of a wide selection of Australian and international foods. The FODMAP composition data generated by Monash University updated previous data that was based on limited literature, with guesses (sometimes wrong) made where there was little information.

As a result of this program of research and FODMAP food analysis, a comprehensive and accurate database now exists describing the FODMAP content of food; scientists now understand the mechanism by which the diet works and there is sound evidence indicating that a low FODMAP diet improves symptom control in approximately three out of every four people with IBS and other FGIDs (such as simple bloating).

The basis of many functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) is distension of the intestinal lumen. Such luminal distension may induce pain, a sensation of bloatingabdominal distension and motility disorders. Therapeutic approaches seek to reduce factors that lead to distension, particularly of the distal small and proximal large intestine. Food substances that can induce distension are those that are poorly absorbed in the proximal small intestine, osmotically active, and fermented by intestinal bacteria with hydrogen (as opposed tomethane) production. The small molecule FODMAPs exhibit these characteristics.[

Poor absorption of most FODMAP carbohydrates is common to everyone. Any FODMAPs that are not absorbed in the small intestine pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. The resultant production of gas potentially results in bloating and flatulence. Most individuals do not suffer significant symptoms but some may suffer the symptoms of IBS. Restriction of FODMAP intake in the latter group has been found to result in improvement of symptoms.

Fructose malabsorption and lactose intolerance may produce IBS symptoms through the same mechanism but, unlike with other FODMAPs, poor absorption is found only in a minority of people. Many who benefit from a low FODMAP diet need not restrict fructose or lactose. It is possible to identify these two conditions with hydrogenand methane breath testing and thus eliminate the necessity for dietary compliance if possible.

The significance of sources of FODMAPs varies through differences in dietary groups such as geography, ethnicity and other factors. Commonly used FODMAPs comprise the following:[

  • oligosaccharides, including fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides;
  • disaccharides, including lactose;
  • monosaccharides, including fructose;
  • polyols, including sorbitol, xylitol, and mannitol.
  • Sources of fructans include wheat, rye, barley, onion, garlic, Jerusalem, and globe artichoke, beetroot, dandelion leaves, the white part of leeks, the white part of spring onion, brussels, sprouts, savoy cabbage and  prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS),  (oligofructose and inulin, Asparagus. fennelred cabbage  and radicchio radicchio contain moderate amounts but may be eaten if the advised portion size is observed.

Sources of galactans

Pulses and beans are the main dietary sources (though green beans, canned lentils, sprouted mung beans,tofu (not silken) and tempeh contain comparatively low amounts). Supplements of the enzyme supplement alpha-galactosidase may reduce symptoms (if brands containing other FODMAPs are avoided).

Sources of polyols

Polyols are found naturally in some fruit (particularly stone fruits),including applesapricotsavocados,blackberriescherrieslycheesnectarinespeachespearsplumspruneswatermelon and some vegetables, including cauliflower, mushrooms and mange-tout peas. They are also used as bulk sweeteners and include isomalt, maltitol, mannitolsorbitol and xylitolCabbagechicory and fennel contain moderate amounts but may be eaten if the advised portion size is observed.

Fructose and lactose

People following a low-FODMAP diet may be able to tolerate moderate amounts of fructose and lactose, particularly if they have lactase persistence.

Sources of fructose

Main article: Fructose malabsorption § Foods with high fructose content.

 

Sources of lactose

Main article: Lactose intolerance § Avoiding lactose-containing products

Low-FODMAP diet suggested foods

Below are low-FODMAP foods categorized by group according to the Monash University “Low FODMAP Diet”.

  • Vegetables: alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, chives, fresh herbs, choy sum, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, zucchini, the green parts of leeks and spring onions
  • Fruits: orange, grapes, melon
  • Protein: meats, fish, chicken, tofu(not silken), tempeh
  • Dairy: lactose-free milk, lactose-free yoghurts, hard cheese
  • Breads and cereals: gluten-freebread and sourdough spelt bread, crisped rice, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, and quinoa
  • Biscuits (cookies) and snacks: gluten-free biscuits, rice cakes, corn thins
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds(no more than 10 nuts per serving), pumpkin seeds; not cashews or pistachios
  • Beverage options: water, coffeetea

Other sources confirm the suitability of these and suggest some additional foods.

Effectiveness and Nutritional Adequacy

Evidence from randomized trials indicates that a low FODMAP diet might help to treat irritable bowel syndrome in adults and in children.  A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis supports the efficacy of this diet in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal symptoms of IBS although the evidence is less good for constipation.

There is only a little evidence of effectiveness in treating functional symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease from small studies which are susceptible to bias.

In common with other defined diets, the low FODMAP diet can be impractical to follow, and risks imposing an undue financial burden and worsening malnutrition

 

 

 

If you have an interest in having a basic understanding of personal development and natural healing (and you need to) here is an interview I did with James Selman, a pioneer and innovator in Leadership research.

 

Just click below to watch the entire interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRf87puZPY

 

oooooooooooooooooo

Listen here as Lewis explain how we can give up unnecessary struggle through visionary thinking in this insightful interview with award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project

 

Here is a great book on hands-on healing

 

http://realuguru.com/products/printed-books/hands-on-healing/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison is the director of the Academy of Natural Healing at the International Association of Healing Professionals.

 

To learn more about our classes self-healing and personal development go to: http://healingassociation.com/ and click on “Certification Courses”

 

Lewis is also founder of the RealUGuru Project Think Tank is a is a life coach, peak performance expert, writer, mentor, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to study with Lewis Harrison. Begin by reading  Lewis’ books.

If you are an entrepreneur you will want to begin with his books on game theory and business success.  Here are two basic ones to start with:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

The offerings on RealUGuru.com focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

This blog is sponsored by the New York City Chair Massage Company at  www.eventschairmassage.com, supplying stress management services to event and meeting planners for trade shows throughout the United States.

The New York City Chair Massage Company  offers stress management as well as the best chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://digg.com/video/gymnastics-whip-nae-nae-dab?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg

 

 

If you have an interest in having a basic understanding of personal development and natural healing (and you need to) here is an interview I did with James Selman, a pioneer and innovator in Leadership research.

 

Just click below to watch the entire interview.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRf87puZPY

 

oooooooooooooooooo

Listen here as Lewis explain how we can give up unnecessary struggle through visionary thinking in this insightful interview with award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes about the RealUGuru Project

 

Here is a great book on hands-on healing

 

http://realuguru.com/products/printed-books/hands-on-healing/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison is the director of the Academy of Natural Healing at the International Association of Healing Professionals.

 

To learn more about our classes self-healing and personal development go to: http://healingassociation.com/ and click on “Certification Courses”

 

Lewis is also founder of the RealUGuru Project Think Tank is a is a life coach, peak performance expert, writer, mentor, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to study with Lewis Harrison. Begin by reading  Lewis’ books.

If you are an entrepreneur you will want to begin with his books on game theory and business success.  Here are two basic ones to start with:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

The offerings on RealUGuru.com focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

This blog is sponsored by the New York City Chair Massage Company at  www.eventschairmassage.com, supplying stress management services to event and meeting planners for trade shows throughout the United States.

The New York City Chair Massage Company  offers stress management as well as the best chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Most of my blog posts are  extracted from one of the books I am working on or a guest “Blog” from one of my peers, friends or guests on my radio show at WIOX 91.3 FM.

My radio show broadcasts every Thursday 4-6 PM (EST) at:

 

 

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

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Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, clarity of thought, emotional balance, human potential, stress reduction business excellence, and love and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. Picture, 43

Opinion 26

Status of what you are doing 26

Links to articles 26%

Personal recommendations 25%

News items 22

Links to other website 21%

Video clips.

Lists

 

 

Strategies and Techniques For Handling Resistant or Reluctant Clients

I have learned that no matter how good a healer or chair massage therapist

 

If you enjoyed this blog I recommend this book.

Order it by clicking below.

 

eBOOK

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/winning-the-game-of-life-a-primer-on-lewis-harrisons-applied-game-theory/

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Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a master lifehacker, writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

Today’s stress management blog is supported by a grant from Events  Chair Massage –www.EventschairMasssage.com –  a company that offers Corporate Chair Massage and Stress Management Services to meeting planner, event planners, party planners and HR for Trade show booths throughout the United States.

 

NYC Chair Massage reviews

 

Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNSDH-0bZk

 

 

 

 

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For more tips like this please “Like” my page

https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality, OpiodAddiction and Chair massage

 

 

http://digg.com/2017/virtual-reality-pain-relief?utm_source=digg&utm_medium=email

Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their  clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNSDH-0bZk

If you enjoyed this blog I recommend this book.

Order it by clicking below.

 

eBOOK

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/winning-the-game-of-life-a-primer-on-lewis-harrisons-applied-game-theory/

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a master lifehacker, writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

Today’s stress management blog is supported by a grant from Events  Chair Massage –www.EventschairMasssage.com –  a company that offers Corporate Chair Massage and Stress Management Services to meeting planner, event planners, party planners and HR for Trade show booths throughout the United States.

 

 

Tags;

Catskills bed and Breakfast, Stamford New York Accommodations, Low Carb Diet, Almond flour in cooking,

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Catskills bed and Breakfast, Stamford New York Accommodations, Low Carb Diet, Almond flour in cooking,

 

 

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Below is a chair massage demo that shows techniques our corporate chair massage therapists use to massage their  clients’ upper back, shoulders, and neck — using elbows and forearms, with minimal use of the thumbs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNNSDH-0bZk

 

 

Use these words in blogs – New, easy, bargain, guarantee, shown to, you

Jan .3 DONE

Laughter Therapy

I learned about a new and easy approach to healing recently. This healing technique has been shown to have miraculous results for many people.

I learned about Laughter Therapy a few weeks back at  a Holistic Wellness Conference with The New York City Chair Massage Company – www.eventschairmassage.com

 

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We recently had a chair massage conference at out B & B in Stamford NY. Some of the attendees we on gluten free diets and wanted to eat cakes breads and pastries. Nut flours came to the rescue.

When you bake you don’t have to use wheat flour or the gluten-free rice or potato based flours. An alternative are nut flours especially almond or hazelnut flour.

Almond meal, almond flour or ground almond is made from ground sweet almonds. Almond flour is usually made with blanched almonds (no skin), whereas almond meal can be made both with whole or blanched almonds. The consistency is more like corn meal than wheat flour.

Almond meal has recently become important in baking items for those on low carbohydrate diets. It adds moistness and a rich nutty taste to baked goods. Items baked with almond meal tend to be calorie-dense.

If you are looking to lose weight or reduce your cholesterol levels nut flours are great. They are low carb and almonds have high levels of polyunsaturated fats in them. Typically, the omega 6 fatty acids in almonds are protected from oxidation by the surface skin and high vitamin E content. When almonds are ground, this protective skin is broken and exposed surface area increases dramatically, greatly enhancing the nut’s tendency to oxidize so the flour needs to be refrigerated and used quickly..

Nut flours work best in pastry and confectionery  especially in the manufacture of almond macarons and macaroons and other sweet pastries, in cake and pie filling, such as Sachertorte – and is one of the two main ingredients of marzipan and almond paste. In France, almond meal is an important ingredient in frangipane, the filling of traditional galette des Rois cake.

 

many people get confused by the difference between Many are confused by the difference between almond flour and meal. Both are ground up almonds. Almond flour is most often made with blanched almonds (the skin has been removed through blanching), whereas almond meal can be made either with whole or blanched almonds. In both cases, the consistency is more like corn meal than wheat flour. Most cooks use them interchangeably, although using flour from blanched almonds will produce a more “refined”, less “grainy” result.

Some chef’s find that they can make a bread with nut flour if they mix the flour with very high gluten wheat flour. This can produce a high protein, low carb bread. This super-fine almond meal is not easy to fine but can be ordered on-line at specialty shops.

Almond flour is best used  in “quick-bread” type recipes, like nut breads, muffins, waffles and pancakes and some cakes. It’s not good for foods such as bread that require a real dough (you can’t knead it) unless you mix it with wheat flour and gluten. Usually, more eggs are will be added when baking with almond meal to provide more structure. This would  normally be provided by the gluten in wheat flour. Almond meal can also be used in breading fish and other fried foods, but it will burn quicker than Panko bread crumbs or other grain based crumbs.  If you are looking to add protein to recipes almond flour is also good since almonds are more nutrient-dense than grains.

As far as almond flour goes for increasing the quality of your nutrition intake, half a cup of ground almonds contains about 10 grams of total carbohydrate, 6 of which are fiber, for a net carb count of 4 grams of carbohydrate. That half cup also contains 10 grams of protein, 23 grams of fat, and 273 calories.

Many choose to make their own nut flour at home with a  blender or food processor. It takes a few tries to get this right since if you grind the almonds too long you will end up almond butter!

 

To get the relationship your seeking read the e book.

 

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/the-realugurus-guide-to-creating-maintaining-and-sustaining-healthy-relationships/

 

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For more articles like this as well as books, courses and seminars on how to be more efficient, effective and productive go to http://www.RealUGuru.com

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Lewis Harrison – RealUGuru, is a writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the RealUGuru Radio show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness,  and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

Lewis more about Lewis work at www.RealUGuru.com

 

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

 

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/how-to-hack-your-life-through-game-thinking/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building Your Immunity with Probiotics

 

There are two aspects to dealing with a Cold.

 

There are a number of ways to do both. One of the most effective ways to build immunity is through the use of probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms  provide health benefits when consumed. Most people buy these products in a pharmacy or natural food store but there is a much more effective, potent and cost effective approach. Live probiotic cultures are available in fermented dairy products and probiotic fortified foods. Many fermented products are reported to contain lactic acid bacteria – a form of probiotic. These products  include pickled vegetables, fermented bean paste such as tempeh, miso, kefir, buttermilk (karnemelk,) yogurt, kimchi, pao cai, sauerkraut, and soy sauce.

 

Since I can easily and inexpensively make pickled vegetables, kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut with simple low cost ingredients I have a number of inexpensive health building hacks available to me. Why are probiotics so important to building immunity?  Probiotics work in the digestive system which house about 70% of your immune system. As the first line of defense the stomach produces the gastric acids that keep destructive bacteria under control. In is in the intestinal tract, an important part of the digestive system where probiotics support immune function, preventing pathogenic bacteria overgrowth and restore balance.

Recent studies have even shown that the healthier the bacteria in the gut the better cognitive function is possibly even reducing the chances of an individual being afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Get 100s of health tips, shortcuts and strategies in Lewis Harrison’s  new Ebook.

 

 

http://www.realuguru.com/products/ebooks/how-to-hack-your-life-through-game-thinking/

 

 

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Lewis Harrison – The RealUGuru, is a writer, mentor, success and wealth coach, content-rich, motivational speaker, and an entrepreneur specializing in problem solving, troubleshooting and strategizing  based on game thinking, applied game theory and Game Thinking.

He is the author of over twenty-two books published in five languages.

  

Don’t forget to tune to the “Life Hack Guru Radio Show every Thursday 4-6 PM EST  at WIOX 91.3 FM or on your smart device at WIOXRadio.org.

WIOX is a diverse station that broadcasts original programming including presentation from NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now etc.

If you are interested in business success in the 21st Century in the arts or in any other endeavor you need to read Lewis’ recently published business books.

You can find books on game theory, and business success here:

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/building-your-business-in-the-new-digital-reality/

http://www.realuguru.com/products/printed-books/gamification-for-business/

This course and all the offerings on http://www.RealUGuru.com  focus on the application of applied game thinking, gamification, decision science, positive psychology, happiness, and visionary thinking to solve basic, complex and extreme health and healing challenges and problems. He is the creator of a free course on business success and human potential.

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

Here is a short interview with Lewis;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

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The work of the International Association of healing professionals is supported by generous grants from Events Chair Massage a company

 – www.eventsChairMassage.com –  a company that offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Artist’s Way and Joseph Campbell’s Concept  – “Live Your Bliss”

 

I have a friend who is a very passionate Jazz musician. She lives in New Orleans and e-mails me interesting articles.

 

She sent me one today I’m going to share with you. It is about being kind, bringing out the best in others and living your passion.

 

Joseph Campbell always talked about living “your bliss”.

 

He derived this idea from the Upanishads , a sacred Hindu text. Here the word Ananda is often mentioned. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture.  Campbell saw this not merely as a mantra, but as a helpful guide to the individual along the journey that each of us walks through life:

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

Campbell began sharing this idea with students during his lectures in the 1970s. By the time that The Power of Myth was aired on PBS in 1988, six months following Campbell’s death, “Follow your bliss” was a philosophy that resonated deeply with the American public—both religious and secular.

While I was speaking at a stress management event I sat down in a corporate onsite chair massage book in the exhibitor area. Run by www.eventschairmassage.com I took the break time to read the article Estelle had sent me. It was about a

 

simple fellow named  Sunny who died a few months back at 81 years of age. He had seen the world lived in India, came home to Brooklyn and took over his families old bar. He was an artist and clearly “Lived His Bliss!”

 

He was a pure artist and brought joy to people who were sad. When he passed on it created a ripple so great that it became a story in the New York Times.

 

Enjoy, Live your Bliss, be kind and help sad people to be happy.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/12/nyregion/a-reluctant-barkeep-mourned-on-the-brooklyn-streets-that-called-him-home.html?emc=eta1

 

About the RealUGuru

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the senior teacher in the Wisdom Path Community,  an international network of practical philosophers, strategists, contemporary spiritual teachers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, corporate consultants, educators and social activists. An independent scholar in Applied Game Theory and a shaman’s apprentice through the 1970s and 80s Lewis began integrating his knowledge of creativity, philosophy, and mindfulness to the creation of wealth and success. Any profit made from his teachings goes to support various philanthropic projects including the International Association of Healer Professionals (www.Healing Association.com), The Catskills Art and Culture Festival (and the Maydolong Relief Fund.

 

If you have an interest in Lewis work beyond the scope of “The RealUGuru Guides” you may wish to explore his many published books including those in the 24 volume series “The Teachings of Lewis Harrison”.

 

Lewis can always be reached by E-mail. At LewisCoaches@gmail.com

 

He offers “RealUGuru Wealth and Success Retreats in his upstate NY Mansion and also coaches individuals long distance by phone and through on-line programs.

 

Lewis is often sponsored by small groups and large organizations around the world to share his unique tools, tips, techniques, and strategies from game based thinking.

 

Lewis offers many other Ebooks on wealth, success, healing and personal development and also posts regular blogs on wealth and success at www.RealUGuru.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the limit of human potential?

 

Is Simone Biles really unbeatable? Breaking down the physics behind her gymnastics

 

CORPORATE WELLNESS

Game Theory, problem solving, Corporate Wellness, The cycle of life, serving others, volunteerism, applied compassion, Lewis Harrison’s Spiritual, Not Religious book, Corporate Wellness massage, Investments in Wellness,  happy and healthy workforce, Corporate Wellness Programs to quit smoking and lose weight, Group incentive travel rewards in wellness and safety. Corporate fitness wellness programs, avenues of information for wellness programs, company sponsored wellness programs,  Incentives and social recognition, health and wellness incentive programs, Stress management, How to be happy, Leadership DevelopmentLife CoachingMind, motivational speaker, peak experience, Life Coaching,  Coaching, Emotional health, Mental health, Chair Massage in Baltimore and Washington DC, Stress Management, events Chair Massage, Corporate Chair Massage NYC, Events Chair Massage Los Angeles, Meeting Planners Chair Massage,  Party Planners Massage,  Corporate Massage. The best chair massage in NYC, Human Potential Classes, Personal development Courses, Mental health

 

More important I have been studying how to use “Periscope”. Essentially “Periscope” is like having your own television show on any smart device and you get to broadcast to whoever you want and to who wants to connect to you.

 

I needed to transcend the limitation of unopened newsletters, and many who follow my work feeling that the newsletters where too short or too long. Periscope solves that problem. I “scope” 4-5 times a day going from simple to deep as I can feedback from my Periscope followers 4-5 times a day.

 

So down load Periscope, sign up (it’s free), and type in Lewis Harrison  or RealUGuru (my moniker) and enjoy new ideas on visionary subjects.

 

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Watch this short video of two baby pandas keeping a worker from cleaning their cage.

 

It makes your heart warm up.

 

If there was a Noble Prize given for “Cuteness” this video would win.

 

I hope you had a lovely, inspiring and joyous weekend.

 

 

http://digg.com/video/baby-pandas-trouble-cage-cleaning-staff?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg

 

Here is a bit more about giant pandas.

 

Thanks for reading this,

 

Lewis

 

 

 

 

CORPORATE WELLNESS

Religion, Joseph Campbell, “Live Your Bliss”, Corporate Wellness, The cycle of life, serving others, volunteerism, applied compassion, Lewis Harrison’s Spiritual, Not Religious book, Corporate Wellness massage, Investments in Wellness,  happy and healthy workforce, Corporate Wellness Programs to quit smoking and lose weight, Group incentive travel rewards in wellness and safety. Corporate fitness wellness programs, avenues of information for wellness programs, company sponsored wellness programs,  Incentives and social recognition, health and wellness incentive programs, Stress management, How to be happy, Leadership DevelopmentLife CoachingMind, motivational speaker, peak experience, Life Coaching,  Coaching, Emotional health, Mental health, Chair Massage in Baltimore and Washington DC, Stress Management, events Chair Massage, Corporate Chair Massage NYC, Events Chair Massage Los Angeles, Meeting Planners Chair Massage,  Party Planners Massage,  Corporate Massage. The best chair massage in NYC, Human Potential Classes, Personal development Courses, Mental health

 

 

 

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

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A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

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If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including:

 

 

“Winning at the Game of Life: A Primer on Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory

 

 

 

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 

A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is a great article on creating love and compassion through service and Taoist based thought. The word “Tao” is never mentioned in the article. It doesn’t matter.

 

 

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Flow

http://digg.com/video/most-satisfying-video-in-the-world?utm_medium=email&utm_source=digg

 

 

Start here

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SENT TO PRIVATE NEWSlETTER

 

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

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Here is a short video interview of Lewis with award winning journalist Phyllis Hayes:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

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A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

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If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page athttps://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

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He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Avoiding Isolation and loneliness

I was recently thinking about social networking and how we connect to each other authentically.

My Facebook “Friend”  isn’t really my friend. They are are a digital connection.

 

Media, the main means of mass communication, is supposed to bring us closer but does it really?

In early days the most basic mass media was drumming and smoke signals. By the late nineteenth century there were newspapers,  the telegraph and the telephone.  By the mid- twentieth century  television, radio, newspapers, and the early internet had become predominant.

 

Now in 20017 we have webinars, podcasts, video conferences, social and business networking sites, and myriad portals for accessing facts, figures and data.

Of course the downside of all this is that it is easier than ever to use technology to avoid human interaction. Yes we save time and money but at what cost. We ultimately dumb down our social intelligence and lose the opportunity to build trust, rapport connections and all the surprising benefits that come about from face to face interactions.

 

The solution? Make human contact a priority.

  • Go to a museum and strike up conversations with strangers;
  • Have lunch with a friend; go to a networking breakfast;
  • volunteer for a not-for profit;
  • have a pot-luck party and invite your friends and their friends

 

Do something!

You’ll live longer, you’ll be healthier and you’ll be happier.

 

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——-We explore these ideas at out distance learning program in Holistic Nutrition at Lewis Harrison’s Natural healing Academy and at our Bed and Breakfast and spa at The Harrison Center in Stamford NY.

 

 

 

 

 

For more postings and links to articles and blogs on human potential, personal development, Taoist thought and service please “Like” our page at: https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/

Here is the article: Here is the link to the full article.

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/25/463567685/today-we-are-his-family-teen-volunteers-mourn-those-who-died-alone?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20160131&utm_campaign=bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews is posted at

 

As you may have noticed these newsletters have gotten shorter of late. It seems that many of the readers of the “AskLewis” newsletter like them short and sweet while others like them with great depth and exploration.

If you are of the later type please go to my website at www.AskLewis.com for in depth article on game based thinking, spirituality, human potential and such.

I have a personal interest in ways that we can live more loving, compassionate and empathetic lives.

Every once and a while a come across an article or blog that addresses this very concept.

Today I came across one called

“’Today We Are His Family’: Teen Volunteers Mourn Those Who Died Alone”

As the title implies a group of Boston teenagers are making a difference in their own way. They seek out those who died alone with no family to comfort them in their last days. They attend the funeral of the deceased “anonymous” person and act as pallbearers at the funeral. They create community for those who seem to have none or to have lost whatever community they had.

Many of the comments after the article were poignant, and often critical of the motivation, purpose, intention or benefit of this activity.

Here is the link to the full article.

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/25/463567685/today-we-are-his-family-teen-volunteers-mourn-those-who-died-alone?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20160131&utm_campaign=bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews is posted at

He are a few comments posted on about the article.

“All acts of kindness and volunteerism should be appreciated, no doubt. But I wonder about this in perspective relative to other potential actions by these well-intentioned young men. Clearly, the deceased can’t appreciate their good will. To wit: he’s dead. Even in life, many who live alone chose to do so; sympathy for their isolation is mis-guided. And what if he was atheist — who benefits from a prayer in his honor? With the fact that there simply aren’t enough volunteers, wouldn’t these guys’ time be better served visiting an elderly shut-in who is alive and does crave the opportunity for a conversation? Or how about visiting a shelter and playing fetch with a dog who will be euthanized tomorrow due to no fault of its own? Volunteering to somehow improve another’s quality of life has real value IMO. This somehow seems like nothing more than free labor.”

 

“Just say ‘thank you’. This deed obviously meant a great deal to these young men, and a critique of their good intentions is not necessary. Just say “thank you”.

 

“Tell me this — other than making them feel good (which, be definition, would be selfish), what good did it do? What did it accomplish that resulted in benefit to others?”

 

“Actions such as these send a message to the living, that each life if worth something.”

 

“We should take every chance that we can to reaffirm that we are decent human beings. Many times the persons or animals we are performing a last act of kindness for are beyond caring or can not care, but the act selfishly helps us to maintain a feeling that we are decent members of humanity.”

 

What are your thoughts about what they are doing here and why.

 

Here is a recording of Ray Charles about the cycle of life.

 

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

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Click below to observe a nine minute video interview Lewis  did with the Award winning journalist Phyllis Haynes on why  people suffer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4DtXpPBeM

 

 

Lewis Harrison is the author of sixteen books including

“Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times” a book of  concerned with personal development, human potential, stress reduction and business excellence.

 

  

 

 

Order his book by clicking below:

http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Not-Religious-Sacred-AskLewis-com/dp/1499150547

 

 

Or type these words on you search engine subject line “spiritual not religious Harrison amazon”

 

You can reach him at LewisCoaches@gmail.com

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A NOTE FROM LEWIS HARRISON ABOUT HIS FREE COURSE

 

 

 

I have been contacted by many people who have studied with me over the last four decades. Many have an interest in my current ideas on  personal development and human potential. These notes are being organized into a series of books titled the”Teachings of Lewis Harrison” of which Volume One is “Spiritual, Not Religious: Sacred Tools for Modern Times.

 

based on the positive response to this first Volume in the series I have organized a free course from my 20,000 plus pages of notes on:

 

How to Make Choices, Zen, Mystic Taoism, Game Based Thinking, Quantum Thought, Holistic Medicine and Healing and other areas of interest.

 

 

If you want to receive the course just send me an e-mail toLewisCoaches@gmail.com and write “Send Me the Free Course” in the subject line. If you like it and ask for the next lesson I’ll send you another one weekly.

 

 

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If you are a social networker please “Friend” me, Lewis Harrison on face book “Like”  my page at https://www.facebook.com/AskLewis/ and invite others who might benefit.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

 

 

START HERE

Start here

 

Laughter Yoga

A handful of small-scale scientific studies have indicated that Laughter Yoga may potentially have some medically beneficial effects, including benefits to cardiovascular health and mood. Benefits to mood in depressed patients have been found to be as good as exercise therapy. A study by Oxford University found that pain thresholds become “significantly higher” after laughter, compared to the control condition, and saw this as being due to laughter itself, rather than the mood of the subject. The study suggested that Laughter produced an “endorphin-mediated opiate effect” which could “play a crucial role in social bonding”. This effect acts on the nervous system in a similar way to opiates such as morphine and codeine. Opioids are primarily used in medicine for the treatment of pain and this effect like chemical opiods can incude sedationrespiratory depression,  and a strong sense of euphoria without the negative . side effects of these drugs.

 

With this important research there has been a movement to increase the use of human and laughter as therapeutic tool. One of the great breakthroughs in this area was in Argentina.

In the August  2015  Argentina passed a new law for treating children in hospitals that requires doctors to literally send in the clowns.

The groundbreaking law — the first in the world — for Argentina’s largest province, Buenos Aires, was inspired by the “laughter therapy” of American physician Hunter “Patch” Adams and was implemented in August. The laws required that all public hospitals in the province that have pediatric services work jointly with specially trained clowns.

The project is “complementary medicine to bring joy to sick children in hospitals, their families and the medical and non-medical personnel,” according to the Argentine Senate.

José Pellucchi, a physician who is director of Payamedicos, an organization of medical clowns, said professional clowns have already been working in more than 150 hospitals in Argentina and neighboring Chile since 2002.

When the clowns arrive at Hospital Piñero, they first write down each child’s name, age and disease they will visit. They also consult with the pediatricians to know which patients they can entertain without disturbing them — or getting exposed to a disease.

 

 

A great influence for this new approach to healing can be laid at the feet of one Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams (born May 28, 1945) the American physician,comediansocial activist, clown, and author. Adams founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humor to orphans, patients, and other people and influence health care policy..

 

 

In the late 1960s one of his closest friends (a man, not a woman as depicted in the Patch Adams film) was murdered. At this point he became convinced of the powerful connection between environment and wellness. Adams promoted the idea that  the health of an individual cannot be separated from the health of the family, community, and the world. Soon after graduation, Patch, and other founded  Gesundheit! Institute (originally known to many as the Zanies), which ran as a free community hospital for 12 years.

 

For decades Adams has been urging medical students to develop compassionate connections with their patients. His prescription for this kind of care relies on humor and play, which he sees as essential to physical and emotional health.

Though the 1998 film Patch Adams was based on Adams’ life and views on medicine. Adams has heavily criticized the film, saying it eschewed an accurate representation of his beliefs in favor of commercial viability. Still the film has been extremely influential in spreading his message as can be seen in the new Argentina law.

 

His message was further spread in South Asia  through the The 2003 Bollywood film Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. which  was inspired by the movie ‘Patch Adams’. The film brought his methods to the forefront in India and Pakistan where conventional methods were predominant.

As a speaker, Adams travels around the globe lecturing about his medicine methods.[16]

 

In Argentina the goal is not just to focus on using clowning and humor with patients but with every person involved with the hospital including cleaning employees, security officers and doctors. The goal is to generate well-being throughout environment. Some of the clowns have academic backgrounds relevant to the concept.  One, named  Gustavo Iribarne, a  Puente Clown professional and also an anthropologist.

In influence science it is common knowledge that  anything a bit off kilter in a positive way changes one sense of reality. Imagine “someone comes into a sick room  with a white medical coat and a red nose saying the same things (as a doctor) but with a unique positive loving and supportive language. Everything changes.  Daniel Rivero, a physician who heads the pediatrics department at Hospital Piñero stated “Health issues are not just related to our body. Determining factors include our sensations and human contact, which can change how our body works … called the placebo effect….It is important to work with clowns because “the hospital’s environment is very strict with white doors and aggressive people who put needles in children’s veins, tell them bad news and make them swallow awful medicine,” he added.

As important as laughter is to healing so is the sense of community, that one is not alone. The doctors support this by creating a bridge between sick children. The clowns give two children in neighboring rooms each end of a rope. The clowns then move from one room to the other, relaying messages and jokes to each child. In this way, one child can communicate with a hospital neighbor.

 

The power in this approach is that it transcends the idea of clown, humor as just to tools to produce laughter. It goes much deeper than that.

 

With some patients, like Sofia who just had abdominal surgery, the clowns know that laughter isn’t always the best medicine.

“We don’t necessarily want to make people laugh. Although laughter is always curative, we want people to reconnect with their childhood’s world, dreams and fantasies,” said Smink, who has worked as a clown four years.

To learn, more about Patch Adams and the Gesundheit

Institutes please send a request by mail to:

Gesundheit! Institute

Hospital Foundation

P.O. Box 98072

Washington, DC

20090-8072

http://www.patchadams.org

 

 

The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor was created to: educate health care, business and education professionals about the values and therapeutic uses of humor and laughter.

 

Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor

1951 W. Camelback Rd.

Ste. 445,

Phoenix, AZ

85015

 

Telephone 602-995-1454

FAX 602-995-1449

E-mail: office@aath.org.

 

 

Learn more about Laughter Yoga at http://www.laughteryoga.org/english

 

 

 

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Lewis explores the History of Psychology

 

Its past the holidays so if your depressed it should have passed by now. If not here’s a chance to read about the history of psychology. I thought the whole thing started with Freud. I was wrong.

 

I was reading a book about the history of the mental health professions and was fascinated by the different beginnings of psychiatry, psychology, social work, and the new profession of “Life Coaching”

Early movements in the history of American psychology can explain the importance our modern culture places on the field of mental health. Beginning late in the 19th century, and largely influenced by German scholar Wilhelm Wundt, Americans including James Mckeen CattellG. Stanley HallWilliam James, and others helped to formalize psychology as an academic discipline in the United States. Popularity in psychology grew as the public became more aware of the idea that the  studying of normal human behaviors and experiences could very well have strong applications to everyday life. At the time the pubic did not have much distinction between ideas drawn from spiritualism and metaphysics and the ideas of these early pioneers.

 

It was James who was most influential in drawing public interest to these idea through his 1890, book The Principles of Psychology, and his 1892 book, Psychology: The Briefer Course.

 

Joseph Jastrow (January 30, 1863 – January 8, 1944) and Hugo Münsterberg (June 1, 1863 – December 16, 1916) made an attempt to introduce these new ideas In 1893, when they  led a public exhibit on psychology in the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago as an effort to celebrate psychology, offer information to the public, and correct popular misconceptions. The exhibit provided catalogs of information on equipment, research topics, and purposes of psychology.

 

Jastrow  was a Polish-born American psychologist, now noted for inventions in experimental psychologydesign of experiments, and psychophysics. He was a ioneer in the study  of optical illusions, and a number of well-known optical illusions (such as the Jastrow illusion) were either discovered or popularized in his work. Jastrow believed that everyone had their own, often incorrect, preconceptions about psychology.  One of his goals was to use the scientific method to identify truth from error, and educate the layperson, which he did through speaking tours, popular print media, and radio. His associate, Münsterberg, was a German-American psychologist and a pioneer in applied psychology, later extending his research and theories to Industrial/Organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings.

 

Without the work and dedication of these two visionaries the exploration of the mind and emotions and how to heal them would have advanced much slower than is has.

 

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Jan 10

 

Two years later (1895)   E. W. Scripture, another American psychologist, published a book, called Thinking, Feeling, Doing, that was adapted for the average reader.

In spite of these important works the ordinary person still, for the most part, believed that psychology was mind reading, a psychic practice  and spiritualism and that it had no real application in everyday life.

 

Over the ensuing years a number of  similar attempts to inform the public about this new field of “healing, tool place including the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis which included (among others) presentations from G. Stanley Hall, Edward B. TitchenerMary Whiton CalkinsJohn B. Watson, and Adolph Meyer. The exhibits also included public testing and experimentation.

 

Still  regardless of the mass interest in psychology, an accurate account of psychology for the layman was rare. Many psychologists became concerned that their profession was failing appropriately to reach the public.

 

 

In spite of their best efforts  public approval failed to make a significant impact, often because the idea of meeting with a stranger and telling him your personal problems on a regular basis was foreign to most people on every level. At times the negative public reaction to psychologists was so strong that  they became deeply concerned about their public image. In 1900, Jastrow wrote a book entitled Fact and Fable in Psychology that aimed to resolve popular psychological misconceptions by clearly discerning fact from fable. In preface to his book, Jastrow states, “It is a matter of serious concern that the methods of genuine psychology, that the conditions of advance in psychology, that the scope and nature of its problems should be properly understood.”

 

It seemed that this movement might become completely marginalized or disappear as some new pseudoscience. Then a breakthrough came about and Hugo Münsterberg’s ideas where essential elements to why that happened. This breakthrough came to be known as  “Applied psychology.”.

 

Applied psychology gave these mental health pioneers tools for  using of psychological methods and linking them to the scientific method. Some of the guess-work was now removed from the processing of  solving practical problems of human and animal behavior and experience and the specialized language of the scientist could be used to explain it all.

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Jan 17

 

One founder of applied psychology was Hugo Münsterberg. Invited to America by William James Münsterberg had many interests in the field of psychology such as purposive psychology, social psychology and forensic psychology. In 1907 he wrote several magazine articles on various aspects of psychology. Many psychologists had been exploring the applications of these ideas and in 1908  the Division of Applied Psychology was adjoined to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory. Within 9 years Münsterberg had contributed eight books in English, applying psychology to education, industrial efficiency, business and teaching. Eventually Hugo Münsterberg and his contributions would define him as the creator of applied psychology. In 1920, the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) was founded, as the first international scholarly society within the field of psychology.

 

Before World War II  few professional psychologists had private practices. This was primarily the domain of Freudian Psychiatrists.  Professional psychologists were relegated to academic settings and some government positions especially connected to the military. During the war, the armed forces and the Office of Strategic Services hired psychologists in droves to work on issues such as troop morale and propaganda design.  After the war, psychologists found an expanding range of jobs outside of the academy and the military. Since 1970 the early 1970s, the number of college graduates with degrees in psychology has expanded dramatically while, degrees in the related fields of economics, sociology, and political science have remained constant.[

Today applied psychology has become an import tools for understanding human behavior and is applied to many professions and environments:

Advertising: Business advertisers have long consulted psychologists in assessing what types of messages will most effectively induce a person to buy a particular product. Their research includes the study of unconscious influences and brand loyalty.

 

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Jan 24

Over the last century applied psychology has become very specific it applications  and numerous specialties have been defined with specific training for each specialty.

Clinical psychology: This  includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development.[6]Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration.[7] Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury—this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.

Counseling psychology: This is an applied specialization within psychology, that involves both research and practice in a number of different areas or domains. There are some central unifying themes among counseling psychologists. These include a focus on an individual’s strengths, relationships, their educational and career development, as well as a focus on normal personalities.[11] Counseling Psychologists help people improve their well-being, reduce and manage stress, and improve overall functioning in their lives. The interventions are often problem focused and goal-directed. There is a guiding philosophy which places a value on individual differences and an emphasis on “prevention, development, and adjustment across the life-span.”[12]

Educational psychology: This is devoted to the study of how humans learn in educational settings, especially schools. Psychologists assess the effects of specific educational interventions: e.g., phonics versus whole language instruction in early reading attainment. They also study the question of why learning occurs differently in different situations.[5]

Another domain of educational psychology is the psychology of learning and teaching. Educational psychology derives a great deal from basic-science disciplines within psychology including cognitive science and behaviorially-oriented research on learning.

Environmental psychology: Environmental psychology is the psychological study of humans and their interactions with their environments. The types of environments studied are limitless, ranging from homes, offices, classrooms, factories, nature, and so on. However, across these different environments, there are several common themes of study that emerge within each one. Noise level and ambient temperature are clearly present in all environments and often subjects of discussion for environmental psychologists.[13]Crowding and stressors are a few other aspects of environments studied by this sub-discipline of psychology.[14] When examining a particular environment, environmental psychology looks at the goals and purposes of the people in the using the environment, and tries to determine how well the environment is suiting the needs of the people using it.

Evolutionary psychology:  (EP) seeks to determine which psychological traits are evolved adaptations – that is, the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection. Some evolutionary psychologists apply the same adaptionist thinking as is applied in evolutionary biology, to psychology, arguing that the mind also has a modular structure similar to that of the body. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that have evolved over thousands of years to provide solutions to recurrent human problems.

 

 

 

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SENT ASK LEWIS

Lewis asks “What is the Maximum of Human Potential?”

 

I  was teaching a master class this week on shamanism, Quantum Realities (QR) and altered states of consciousness at our spa and retreat center in the Great Northern  Catskills Catskills Mountains of NY State..

 

One of the students, a very logically thinking mathematician said the whole thing sounded kind of new age and “fluffy”. She asked if there was any history of this kind of thinking in academia.

 

Actually there is and I shared two important concepts concerning an understanding of QR with her and the class – Omega Point and the Noosphere.

 

The Omega Point refers to the Idea that there is a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which the universe is evolving. This idea was articulated by a number of important thinkers though  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (1 May 1881  – 10 April 1955) a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as apaleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man seems to have explored it to the greatest depth.

 

Chardin’s work was so powerful and still so influential especially concerning the concept of original sin in the Catholic Church that  that during  his lifetime, many of his writings were censored by the Church hierarchy.

In recent decades  his work was praised by Pope Benedict XVI, and he was also noted for his contributions to theology in Pope Francis‘ 2015 encyclical Laudato si’.  Later in his life after hearing a talk by Vladimir Vernadsky‘s Chardin developed the  concept of noosphere.

 

Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (12 March [O.S. 28 February] 1863 – 6 January 1945) was a RussianUkrainian, and Soviet mineralogist and geochemist who is considered one of the founders of geochemistrybiogeochemistry, and of radiogeology.  His ideas of noosphere were greatly influential in the development of Russian cosmism and he is most noted for his 1926 book The Biosphere in which he inadvertently worked to popularize Eduard Suess’ 1885 term biosphere, by hypothesizing that life is the geological force that shapes the earth.

 

The noosphere (/ˈnoʊ.əsfɪər/; sometimes noösphere) is the sphere of human thought. The word derives from the Greekνοῦς (nous “mind“) and σφαῖρα (sphaira “sphere“). It was introduced by de Chardin in 1922 in book Cosmogenesis.

 

 

 

Teilhard perceived a directionality in evolution along an axis of increasing Complexity/Consciousness. For Teilhard, the noosphere is the sphere of thought encircling the earth that has emerged through evolution as a consequence of this growth in complexity / consciousness.

 

This is visionary thinking and important for our times. I will go into this in greater depth next Sunday (The December 20 “AskLewis” Newsletter)

 

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Why You may Not Be Allergic to gluten but feel better on a gluten free diet.

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/12/09/459061317/a-protein-in-the-gut-may-explain-why-some-cant-stomach-gluten?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20151213&utm_campaign=bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews

 

 

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Last week I had mentioned that I  was teaching a master class on shamanism, Quantum Realities (QR) and altered states of consciousness at our spa and retreat center in the Great Northern  Catskills Catskills Mountains of NY State; and one of the students, a very logically thinking mathematician asked about engaged me in a conversation about altered states of reality, Omega Point and the Noosphere.

 

A noosphere as much part of nature as the barysphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. As a result, Teilhard sees the “social phenomenon [as] the culmination of and not the attenuation of the biological phenomenon. These social phenomena are part of the noosphere and include, for example, legal, educational, religious, research, industrial and technological systems. In this sense, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere thus grows in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. Teilhard argued the noosphere evolves towards ever greater personalisation, individuation and unification of its elements. He saw the Christian notion of love as being the principal driver of noogenesis. Evolution would culminate in the Omega Point – an apex of thought/consciousness – which he identified with the eschatological return of Christ.

One of the original aspects of the noosphere concept deals with evolutionHenri Bergson, with his L’évolution créatrice (1907), was one of the first to propose evolution is “creative” and cannot necessarily be explained solely by Darwinian natural selection. L’évolution créatrice is upheld, according to Bergson, by a constant vital force which animates life and fundamentally connects mind and body, an idea opposing the dualism of René Descartes. In 1923, C. Lloyd Morgan took this work further, elaborating on an “emergent evolution” which could explain increasing complexity (including the evolution of mind). Morgan found many of the most interesting changes in living things have been largely discontinuous with past evolution, and therefore did not necessarily take place through a gradual process of natural selection. Rather, evolution experiences jumps in complexity (such as the emergence of a self-reflective universe, or noosphere). Finally, the complexification of human cultures, particularly language, facilitated a quickening of evolution in which cultural evolution occurs more rapidly than biological evolution. Recent understanding of human ecosystems and of human impact on the biosphere have led to a link between the notion of sustainability with the “co-evolution” and harmonization of cultural and biological evolution. In biology, coevolution is the change of a biological object triggered by the change of a related object”. In other words, when changes in at least two species’ genetic compositions reciprocally affect each other’s evolution, coevolution has occurred.

 

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Lewis Harrison speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.

 

His company www.eventsChairMassage.com offers chair massage services to meeting planners, event planners and incentive travel programs.  Massage groups in his massage network offer services in all areas of the United States including: Chair Massage Chicago – Trade Show Massage Washington D.C. – Stress Master Massage Las Vegas – Castro District Corporate Massage San Francisco – Los Angeles Stress management Massage – and The Javits Center Chair Massage Company – Capital Chair Massage Albany NY

 

He also offers private fee based coaching programs. 

Call him at 212-724-8782 for more information.

 

 

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Mind, Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, Somatic Education and dance, Gymnastics, Somatics, Feminism and Art, peak experience, Life Coaching,  Coaching, Emotional health, Mental health, Chair Massage in Baltimore and Washington DC, Stress Management, events Chair Massage, Corporate Chair Massage NYC, Events Chair Massage Los Angeles, Meeting Planners Chair Massage,  Party Planners Massage,  Corporate Massage. The best chair massage in NYC, Human Potential Classes, Personal development Courses, Mental health,

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AskLewis Q. How do I deal with arguing and fighting at family gatherings?

Lewis Answers: In my book “Relationships” (Volume IX – The Teachings of Lewis Harrison”

 

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Relationships with a Mentally or Emotionally Challenged Person:

 

If you are in romantic  relationship, related to or close friends with a person with severe mental and emotional challenges  here are things you need to know:

  • Chronic mental and emotional challenges act like a magnifying glass to deep rooted thought patterns that all of use must deal with now and then. For the chronic sufferer of these challenges thoughts  such as “I’m a failure” or “I don’t deserve affection”. can cause them to be distant or fearful of intimacy.

 

This can be very stressful for an individual seeking to give love, support or form an emotional connection with this person.

Still there is much than can be done to transcend this limitations and form deep and positive connection with the person who suffers from chronic mental and emotional challenges.

Below are a few things you should be aware of if  you care about someone or are “in love”  with an individual who suffers from chronic mental and emotional challenges.

 

  • Basic mental challenges are often defined as mental illness when they are not. Often a mental challenge can be addressed through self help techniques, motivation, and inspiration. Mental illness on the other hand is not something one can simply “get over.”
  • As with any illness healing takes time, professional guidance and the acknowledgement that there is a serious challenge that needs to be managed.  A mental illness usually has many complex elements including changes in brain structure, brain chemistry , hormonal issues, physical  and emotional trauma and other related factors.
  • A person with a mental illness is more often than not, suffering and wishes they could just “snap out of it.” Unfortunately they can’t. One does not just wish mental illness away. It requires love, support and professional skills.
  • It is natural and a deep rooted cultural pattern to say that someone with a mental illness is “crazy.” This is a misunderstanding of what mental illness is. “Crazy” is a general term, a label for unconventional thinking or behavior. Mental illness is a disease like arthritis, extreme back pain, or tuberculosis. Mental illness is just as important as physical illness and is often connected to or caused by a physical illness.
  • There are few patterns that can be isolated concerning good or bad days. Some days seem great and the hope is that similar days will follow but often they do not. There is just no pattern. *
  • They’re moody and it isn’t personal. Their mood isn’t because of you. Many mental health challenges are characterized by mood swings, including feelings of anger, depression and mania. It is important to learn to live with these patterns and support them to heal.

 

 

  • Mental and Emotional Challenges and Illnesses can be Managed…
    The list is endless of ways to help individuals suffering from mental and emotional challenges. There are many forms of counseling and psychotherapy that can help as well as exercise, the arts, through group support and when necessary medication. There is no one best approach. What may work for one person may not work for your friend or relative.

 

 

  • Some days it all seems like it is all too much to handle.

At times a person may be un able to muster the strength to begin yet another day struggling with emotional and mental challenges. The best one can do here is to  encourage the individual to do what needs to be done, whether this is  going to their appointments or whatever else is on their schedule. Don’t give up on them on those days where they’ve given up on themselves.

 

  • Avoid Accepting Negative Stereotypes Associated with Whatever Condition the person You care About Has. There’s a great stigma attached to mental health disorders. A large percentage of those with a mental or emotional challenge or illness feel that others are compassionate , empathetic or understanding of their condition. Your compassion and patience means more than you’ll ever know.

 

 

  • Compassion, Love and Nurturing are Invaluable.
    This can include hugs, phone calls, texts, and anything else shared – even a comedy movie or ice cream. The key is to let them know that they’re not alone. All these things remind them that how they feel is temporary helpful to remind them that the feelings are temporary and you are right there with them.
  • Have a sincere interest in their mental or emotional challenge. It’s OK to ask them questions. The more you learn and understand about their condition, the easier it is for you to get closer to them. Still be sensitive. If they don’t want to talk about what’s going on in that moment, move onto something else. Often those with these types of challenges are constantly attempting to make sense of things that seem normal to others. If they are quiet that  doesn’t mean they don’t want your help, they just may be doing their own processing.
  • It’s physically draining. 
    Psychiatric illnesses don’t just assault the  Conditions like depression and anxiety can cause extreme fatigue as well as produce a wide range of physical symptoms including  headaches, soreness, upset stomach and more.
  • Be sensitive to their sensitivities.  It is easy to become impatient and pretending to sympathize. Avoid saying things such as ‘grow up’,  ‘it’ll get better,’  ‘toughen up,’, ‘you are acting so immature,’ etc. this is not helpful even if you think it is.

 

Unless you have a narcissistic disorder get out of yourself and what you think you know about mental and emotional challenges. If you can’t make the stretch don’t get involved.

 

 

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Resiliency

One of the keys to dealing successfully with life’s challenges is the ability of an individual to bounce back to a greater state of wellness.  All human beings are confronted time to time with stressful situations that seem to be beyond control. We’ve all had the experience of a dark moment in our lives, some so dark that they drive us to a state where we can barely function.

As difficult as these times may seem humans have a natural resilience, the ability to bounce back even when all seems lost..Part of my work in applied game theory is to always looking to strategize through the “human factor” whenever possible.

Resilience is a state of being defined by the ability to choose, and being at choice means you have the power to define and create your life as you see fit. Any time one perceives of oneself as a victim of circumstance and is paralyzed by a medical diagnosis, a health crisis,  a toxic relationship, an unfulfilling job, or a life filled with boredom and despair one is essentially giving up ones power. By increasing ones resilience, one can become stronger and act to make the difficult choices while creating ones best life.

One of the keys to preventing and healing from mental and emotional challenges is learning resiliency skills.

Research indicates that there are four primary elements to nurturing and enhancing resilience. These are.

-Meaning, purpose or spirituality but most importantly she suggested that indeed resilience can be nurtured and enhanced.

-Mindfulness which being in the moment. No regrets about the past and no expectations for the future. “Be Here Now”. It doesn’t require that you mediate, chant or do any special ritual.  It means doing what needs to be done and doing so with full intention.

-A Personal Wellness Program –  This is a basic program that deals with body mind and spirit. It needs to include the following:

  • 150 minutes weekly of aerobics exercise of moderate intensity, which is slightly elevated heart rate that also makes you a bit short of breath. (Consider walking, running, biking or dancing.
  • 15 – 20 minutes of stretching daily
  • 15-20 minutes of light weights with 15 repetitions per exercise.
  • Whole food nutrition. Lot’s of fruits vegetables, whole grains, beans, raw nuts and seeds, some dairy unless you are a vegan. Avoid junk food, soda, and artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.
  • Community support: We all need community; it is what human beings thrive on. We are meant to live in tribes, families, and groups with common interest. When in despair we often isolate which aggravates the situation. The key is to find a trusted few you can share you challenges with. When we are vulnerable we need empathy and compassion. Ignore that dysfunctional voice in your head that says “you’re pathetic” and reach out to others.

 

  • Serve others: The quickest way out of a despair and hopelessness is to realize that someone somewhere has it worse than you. No matter how resistant you may be it is a great thing to serve others. It doesn’t have to be a big thing; write a letter to a person in need, volunteer, start a not for profit group. Any of these will help you tap into your inner momentum. When you are serving others from a place of genuine love, kindness, caring and compassion guilt and shame falls away.

 

So if time seems rough don’t lose hope, focus, or your momentum. Take a few deep breathes, call a friend for support, if you need clarity read my book “Spiritual, Not Religious” or any other wisdom based book and take a half hour to sing, laugh and dance for no reason.

 

There are certain things one must keep in mind when remaining resilient.

 

  • Emotional and mental challenges are not always medical problems. Often they are simply a health issue to be addressed.
  • It’s important to open up about your anxiety and mental and emotional challenges. This is especially so for men who often see themselves as “weak”. We al need to be vulnerable and discuss what is going on.
  • It is difficult to be resilient in isolation. It is important to get out and do things. Join support groups, make new friends, create a spiritual practice
  • Bad habits don’t disappear by themselves. Do things differently and create positive reasons for doing so.
  • Create a Positive Environment around yourself. It’s can be a a vicious cycle. When you’re suffering a mental or emotional challenge, one negative thought, event or interaction can be enough to send you into a downward spiral. Surround yourself with motivational, inspirational and enlivening thoughts, ideas and people.

 

 

 

 

START HERE

 

Workplace Wellness Programs,  Reducing obesity through Workplace Wellness Programs, workplace programs promoting chair massage, healthy eating and exercise, good nutrition in office cafeterias,

Fewer calories and smaller portions, healthy recipes,

 

Work spaces are self contained environments,

 

Tracked worker’s body-mass index

 

Reduces health insurance costs.

 

 

 

 

 

nt J Health Policy Manag. 2013 Sep; 1(3): 193–199.

Published online 2013 Sep 6. doi:  10.15171/ijhpm.2013.36

PMCID: PMC3937880

Corporate Wellness Programs: Implementation Challenges in the Modern American Workplace

Bahaudin G. Mujtaba * and Frank J. Cavico

Author information ► Article notes ► Copyright and License information ►

See commentary “ Financial Incentives: Only One Piece of the Workplace Wellness Puzzle Comment on “Corporate Wellness Programs: Implementation Challenges in the Modern American Workplace” ” on page 311.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

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Abstract

Being healthy is important for living well and achieving longevity. In the business realm, furthermore, employers want healthy employees, as these workers tend to be more productive, have fewer rates of absenteeism, and use less of their health insurance resources. This article provides an overview of corporate “wellness” efforts in the American workplace and the concomitant challenges which employers will confront in implementing these programs. Consequently, employers and managers must reflect upon wellness policies and objectives, consult with professionals, and discuss the ramifications thereof prior to implementation. The authors herein explore how employers are implementing policies that provide incentives to employees who lead “healthy” lifestyles as well as ones that impose costs on employees who lead “unhealthy” lifestyles. The distinctive contribution of this article is that it proactively explores wellness program implementation challenges and also supplies “best practices” in the modern workplace, so employers can be better prepared when they promulgate wellness policies, and then take practical steps to help their employees become healthier and thereby help to reduce insurance costs. The article, moreover, addresses how wellness policy incentives—in the form of “carrots” as well as penalties—in the form of “sticks” could affect employees, especially “non-healthy” employees, as well as employers, particularly legally. Based on the aforementioned challenges, the authors make practical recommendations for employers and managers, so that they can fashion and implement wellness policies that are deemed to be legal, ethical, and efficacious.

Keywords: Wellness Programs, American Workplace, Carrots and Sticks, Healthy Lifestyle

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Background

American employers are very concerned about the increase in healthcare costs, which they believe will be exacerbated by the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Due to the rising cost of health insurance, many people do not have health insurance. Texas is the state with the highest number of individuals without health insurance and Florida is the second largest state with 25% of its population under the age of 65 without health insurance since it costs too much. Accordingly, many employers have been looking for measures to lower healthcare costs (1). Employers also want healthy employees in order to avoid absences, enhance productivity, and improve morale. So employers are looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs and to help enhance the health and productivity of their employees. One perceived beneficial measure is in the form of “wellness” programs in the workplace, which encourage, or at times attempt to “force,” employees to lose weight, stop smoking, reduce health risks, and overall improve their health. However, employers have to be very careful in creating and implementing wellness programs since there are a variety of laws—statutory, regulatory, and common law—that can apply to wellness programs.

One initial problem with any examination of wellness programs in the workplace is that there is no statutory, regulatory, or uniform definition of the term “wellness program.” There simply is no single definition of a “wellness program” from a legal, healthcare, or management perspective. One court stated that “wellness plans are incentive programs offered by companies to their employees to reduce insurance premiums, and often include biometric testing such as recording the medical history of participating employees, taking their body weight and blood pressure information, and testing the glucose and cholesterol levels of their blood. Those blood tests, in turn, typically involved a trained examiner drawing a drop of an employee’s blood with a prick of the finger and placing the blood onto a ‘cassette,’ which was then placed in a machine that measured blood glucose and cholesterol” (2). One general definition would mean programs that are sponsored by an employer and seek to improve the physical and/or mental health of an employee (3). Another definition is a program designed “to encourage individuals to take preventative measures, through education, risk assessment and/or screening, or disability management to avert the onset or worsening of an illness or disease” (4). Yet another definition of a workplace wellness program is “an employment-based activity or employer-sponsored benefit aimed at promoting health-related behaviors (primary prevention or health promotion) and disease management (secondary prevention). It may include a combination of data collection on employee health risks and population-based strategies paired with individually focused interventions to reduce those risks” (5). Nevertheless, “a formal and universally accepted definition of a workplace wellness program has yet to emerge, and employers define and manage their programs differently” (5). The diversity of definitions demonstrate that companies have different needs and may clarify the boundary of their wellness program by having a clear definition and purpose for it based on their mission, vision, values, and work culture.

Employers, of course, have the discretion in formulating wellness programs. Some programs focus on employees with specific health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. Others take the form of incentives to the employees to undergo physical examinations or to take health assessments as well as incentives to lose weight and stop smoking (6,7). All these programs have an educational component that seeks to inculcate to the employees the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and thus to increase awareness of how lifestyle choices can impact one’s physical and mental health (4). Common features of wellness programs can encompass the following: providing healthcare and medical information by means of health fairs, seminars, classes, lectures, and newsletters; online health and wellness resources; nutrition counseling; lifestyle and risk factor analysis; health and exercise coaching; gym and health-club memberships or membership discounts; heath risk assessments; stress management programs; disease management and control programs (concerning heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, for example); biometric testing and screening, maintenance, and control for heart disease, blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol, and weight loss); smoking cessation programs; and immunization programs; and on-site clinics (35).

In addition, it should be noted that the challenges related to health concerns are not limited to the United States or just the developed nations. Researchers and political leaders in other countries are just as concerned about unhealthy lifestyles as well. For example, according to Eyal, the prevalence of obesity in Iran has also reached epidemic proportions since about 40% of the adults in Tehran were found to be overweight and 23.1% were assessed to be obese (8). In general, Eyal estimates that the prevalence of obesity among Iranian adults appears to be around 21.5%, and obesity seems to specifically affect Iranian women (8). To change such patterns, some medical experts are even supporting measures to deny non-emergency treatment to those who are considered obese or those patients who do not lose weight. Eyal agrees that we should proactively deal with the obesity challenge “head-on,” but conditioning medical access on weight loss is fraught with ethical concerns and thus is not the best way to move ahead to healthfulness. Of course, it must be emphasized that healthcare is a basic and an inalienable right for everyone in society. Accordingly, Eyal states: “Doctors, health managers, and health policy makers can help us lose weight and remain thin by using carrots and sticks. They may want to offer prizes such as iPods or museum tickets or maybe even cash to patients who lose weight” (8). Yet, denying overweight or obese individuals’ medical treatment, regardless of the approach to any wellness program, is not an ethical approach.

This article, therefore, succinctly explores some of the legal, ethical, and practical ramifications of employers adopting such wellness programs; and then provides appropriate recommendations. Specifically, the authors make appropriate recommendations to managers on how to set up and implement legal, moral, and practically efficacious wellness programs in the workplace.

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Wellness programs

Employers definitely want lower health insurance costs and more productive employees; and one way to achieve these goals is to have more healthy employees. The question, and one with legal, ethical, and practical ramifications, is how to attain these laudable objectives. Should the employer in adopting a wellness policy take a voluntary “carrot” or a more coercive “stick” approach? Should employees who adopt healthy lifestyles be rewarded? Or should employees who lead unhealthy lifestyles by penalized by the employer? In some wellness programs, an overweight or smoking employee may have to confront certain “sticks,” for example higher monthly healthcare premiums and no discounts, if the employee does not avail himself or herself of the wellness program. Regarding the “sticks” approach, Sizemore noted that “such programs stand for the idea that individuals making poor health decisions should not have their decisions subsidized through an insurance program by those making good health decisions” (9).

A wellness program can consist of a health or health-risk assessment offered by the employer, which is usually an annual, or semi-annual, medical exam that ascertains the employee’s weight, height, blood pressure, and cholesterol and sugar levels. The employee also may be asked questions about his or her lifestyle, especially in regards to smoking and alcohol consumption. Some assessments even go further and seek to delve into the employee’s mental and emotional state. Of course, some employees may be hesitant about taking part in these “free” health assessments for a variety of reasons. They may be concerned with how the results of these medical exams will be handled and used and what will happen if they are not successful in improving their health and achieving a healthier lifestyle. They naturally will be concerned if there is any perceived “penalty” for remaining unhealthy.

Initially, it must be noted how “very common” wellness programs have become: Mattke et al.report that 92% of employers with 200 or more employees offered wellness programs in 2009 (5). Moreover, the most frequently targeted behaviors are exercise (addressed by 63% of employers with programs), smoking (60%), and weight loss (53%). Mattke et al. also report on a 2010 Kaiser/HRET survey that 74% of all employers who offered health benefits also offered at least one wellness program (5). Program costs, which typically are expressed as cost per program-eligible employee (as opposed to per actual participant, range between 50 to 150 US dollars a year for typical programs. Employers have begun to use incentives to increase employee’s participation in wellness programs; and estimates indicate that the average annual value of incentives per employee typically ranges from between 100 US dollars to 500 US dollars. However, as will be discussed, there are a variety of laws that impose limits on the use of financial incentives by employers as part of the wellness program.

Mattke et al. vividly illustrate how people in the U.S. “are in the midst of a ‘lifestyle disease’ epidemic,” (5) to wit:

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified four behaviors that are the primary causes of chronic disease in the United States—inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and frequent alcohol consumption; and these activities are causing an “increasing prevalence” of diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pulmonary conditions.
  • Chronic diseases have become a “major burden” in the U.S. leading to “decreased quality of life,” accounting for severe disability in 25 million people in the U.S., as well as being the leading cause of death, claiming 1.7 million lives per year.
  • Treating chronic diseases is estimated to account for over 75% of national health expenditures.
  • The number of working-age adults with a chronic condition has grown by 25% in ten years, nearly equaling 58 million people.
  • A 2008 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found that the “indirect” costs (for example, missed days at work) were approximately four times higher for people with chronic diseases compared to healthy people.
  • A report by the Milken Institute indicated that in 2003 the cumulative indirect illness-related losses associated with chronic diseases totaled 1 trillion US dollars compared with 277 billion US dollars in direct healthcare expenditures.

According to Stafford as well as Cavico and Mujtaba, one in four people in the United States aged 18 years and older, amounting to 66 million people, are defined as obese (or approximately 30 pounds over their ideal weight) (7,10). Moreover, about three in ten adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure; and almost one in ten has diabetes. Obesity, combined with lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle, contributes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, as well as increasing healthcare expenditures. Specifically regarding obesity, it is reported that obesity increases Americans’ healthcare expenditures by 1,723 US dollars per year per person (10). There are, therefore, benefits to be accrued from wellness programs and not “merely” saving money for employers but also by improving the health of employees and job applicants, thereby benefiting families, local communities, and society as a whole. This article, of course, is focusing on the benefits to the employer to be obtained from wellness programs, notwithstanding the implementation challenges. There are commentators, accordingly, who have emphasized the more utilitarian societal benefits that wellness programs can produce. The authors in fact have addressed the morality of wellness programs from a utilitarian ethical and stakeholder perspective (7,11). Moreover, a broader approach to wellness programs has been taken by the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Amarta Sen, who has argued that “development should be assessed less by material output measures such as Gross National Income (GNI) per capita and more by the capabilities and opportunities that people enjoy” (12). Having a healthy population is important for economic prosperity of a nation. Sen viewed development in countries as an expansion of freedom. Also certain things should be removed from poorly developed countries such as poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, social deprivation, and neglect of public facilities. Naturally, all of this would involve politics, management and effective leadership. Sen believed that countries should give the people a “voice” so they can partake in important decisions involving the community; and this input would naturally include means of overcoming health problems and effectively dealing with the rising insurance costs. Sen also emphasized healthcare and education, saying that these types of initiatives would lead to people getting better jobs and making more money which would in turn help the economy become more prosperous. Most experts agree and believe that this is a much better way to measure the development of a country than just income generated from high exports. If the people are healthy, educated, and happy they will be better able to increase productivity and enjoy going to work which will help everyone in the country (12).

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Carrot and sticks of wellness programs

Wellness programs, therefore, can result in many benefits for many stakeholders. One key, as well as contentious, issue, as emphasized, is for the employer to ascertain which approach to take in implementing a wellness program—“carrots” or “sticks” (or perhaps a combination thereof). Table 1 provides a brief overview of some examples of “carrots” or incentives and “sticks” or penalties that employers might offer or impose as part of their wellness programs to encourage or “force” employees to become healthier.

Table 1

Incentives and penalties in wellness programs

Most employers, based on the authors’ judgment, would prefer the “carrot” approach, principally because it does not alienate employees or cost jobs and promotions, especially due to any preexisting chronic health conditions. Nevertheless, one legal commentator questioned if even the “carrot” approach was a truly voluntary one (9). Yet if the “carrot” approach does not work, and employees cannot, or will not, “voluntarily” become or stay healthy, and consequently employers continue to see healthcare costs rise, employers may consider “forcing” employees to be healthy by penalizing unhealthy employees. Furthermore, support for a more punitive approach to changing lifestyles is found, as Kwoh reported, “the findings of behavior economists showing that people respond more effectively to potential losses, such as penalties, than expected gains, such as rewards” (13). To illustrate, Kwoh pointed to two studies: one, which is a study of 800 mid- to large-size firms, showing that 6 in 10 employers tend to impose penalties in the next few years on employees who do not take actions to better their health; and the other indicates that the share of employers who plan to impose penalties is likely to double to 36% by 2014 (13). Furthermore, a human resources survey indicates that 60% of the employers stated that they plan to impose penalties in the next three to five years on workers who do not improve their health (14). Nonetheless, Kwoh predicted a “murky” future—legally, ethically, and practically—for these increasing, and increasingly punitive, “stick” wellness programs (13).

There are many critics, however, of a punitive “stick” approach to wellness in the workplace. Sizemore fears that “the potential for discrimination and harassment at the workplace for failure to participate in the program also exists” (9). Lamkin fears that wellness programs, particularly with penalties, will erode the informed consent of the employee-patient in medical decision-making (11). The labor organization, the AFL-CIO, is opposed to mandatory health tests. A spokesperson, as indicated by Mathews, declared that health tests are a personal matter that should not be brought into the workplace and tied to benefits (15). Workers’ rights advocates, as indicated by Kwoh, condemned the penalties as “legal discrimination” and “essentially salary cuts” by a different name (13). There is also a fear that these wellness programs—whether voluntary or mandatory—are giving employers too much control over their employees’ lives (13). Kwoh reported on another critic of wellness programs, a university chair and professor of health policy, who condemned wellness programs as “unethical” because the employer’s main motivation is not to improve the employees’ health but to get smokers and other employees with “unhealthy” lifestyles “off their health bill and pass on the costs to someone else” (13). Another critic, expressed concern that wellness programs might become a “tool for shifting health-care costs” to sick people, especially under the Affordable Care Act, which will allow employers to charge employees who do not meet certain health standards more for insurance premiums, and thus “you might undermine the whole idea of workplace wellness”(16). And another professor of public health called wellness policies a “slippery slope,” and expressed concern about what actions of employees would be penalized next, such as going out for fast-food, drinking alcohol, and even, the professor said, unsafe sex (14).

In addition to labor union, employee rights organizations, and academic objections; there are many potential legal problems for employers in adopting and implementing wellness programs. As such, and especially due to legal concerns, some employers have shied away from any wellness policies. One potential legal problem for an employer when it comes to weight provisions and height and weight indexes is that some employees may contend that their weight is based on a medical condition or genetics, and in the latter case tied to racial or ethnic background, and thus the employee is protected by federal discrimination law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act. To illustrate, some critics of wellness programs state that tobacco penalties or bans on hiring smokers are discriminatory against poorer and less-educated segments of society, who tend to smoke more (13); and these people may be minorities who are protected by the Civil Rights Act against discrimination in employment. Moreover, all these health issues must be kept very confidential so as not to trigger lawsuits based on the common law tort of invasion of privacy as well as federal and state statutory confidentiality laws. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper (14) quoted a statement from a private non-profit Patient Privacy Rights organization based in Texas, which condemned wellness programs as “coercive” and “invasive,” and which expressed deep concern about the privacy of the wellness information collected, because “it doesn’t give patients any control over the extremely sensitive health information they are required to submit. Not only they can be certain whether their employer will see this information or not, but also the data can be collected, sold and used in different circumstances without their knowledge or consent.”

Regardless of legal compliance and laudatory objectives, other critics assert that wellness programs, even incentive-based ones, are unfair because they can disadvantage some people most in need of healthcare and also they, in effect, penalize employees who legitimately struggle to attain wellness objectives, but who fail or regress, particularly since it is recognized that major lifestyle changes are difficult to achieve (17). As such, employers must be careful when it comes to implementing wellness programs so they can be in legal compliance and fair to their employees (18).

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Legal challenges

One of the most daunting challenges to the implementation of wellness programs in the United States is the wide variety of laws—federal and state—statutory, regulatory, and common law (case law)—that arguably could apply to wellness programs in the workplace, including the recent Affordable Care Act (that is, “Obama Care”) of 2014 (though which legal effect has been partially postponed for employers, but not yet for individuals, as of this writing, until 2015 due to the statute’s own implementation problems). Though it is beyond the scope of this succinct work to examine all these statutes in detail, mention and brief discussion must be made of the following critical ones, to wit: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), the Affordable Care Act, state Lifestyle Discrimination statutes, and the common law intentional tort of invasion of privacy. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the paramount civil rights law in the United States. Title VII, which applies to employment, prohibits discrimination against an employee or job applicant based on the protected categories of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion (19). Consequently, if an employer’s wellness program or its implementation treats employees differently based on their race or any other protected category, there is a legal violation. Moreover, pursuant to civil rights law, if a wellness program, though neutral on its face and applying to all employees, has a disparate or disproportionate adverse impact on a protected group then a Title VII violation will occur too. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibits discrimination in employment based on age (if the employee or job applicant is over 40 years of age). As such, the employer must ensure that its wellness program or the implementation neither treats employees differently based on their age nor has any disparate adverse impact on older workers or job applicants. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination in employment against job applicants and employees with a legally recognized disability. Moreover, the ADA requires that an employer makes a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability unless it would an undue burden to do so. The ADA, however, does not prohibit wellness programs in the workplace. Nonetheless, if an employee’s or job applicant’s weight problem or addiction to nicotine or other health issue is deemed to be a disability, then the employer’s wellness program cannot act to discriminate against or otherwise penalize this disabled employee or job applicant. The ERISA of 1974 is also a federal law in the United States that governs healthcare and pension plans in the private sector. Pursuant to ERISA, an employer wellness program that provides healthcare, medical, or sickness benefits, directly through reimbursement or other monetary incentives, or indirectly, for example, by means of health counseling, is covered by ERISA; and as such the employer is subject to detailed disclosure and reporting requirements (20). The HIPAA of 1996 is another federal statute governing the provision of health care benefits. The law has extensive provisions dealing with the confidentiality and security of healthcare information. HIPAA also prohibits discrimination in health plans; but, it is important to note, an important exception pertaining to wellness programs. If a wellness program is deemed to effect only “benign discrimination,” that is, providing rewards, discounts, and reimbursements for voluntary actions that promote good health, such a program is permissible under HIPAA. However, if the wellness program is “results-based,” that is, a health standard must be met to qualify for a reward or incentive, the program is deemed to be discriminatory but nevertheless still permissible under the law if several factors are met, most importantly the total reward in the program is limited to 20% of the total cost of the employee-only coverage under the wellness program. Note, too, that the percentage will be raised to 30% by the Affordable Care Act when it is fully implemented). The GINA of 2008 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on genetic information. Moreover, GINA makes it illegal for the employer to request, require, or purchase genetic information. There are, however, several exceptions in GINA. The main one pertinent to the discussion herein is that an employer can obtain genetic information from an employee or job applicant pursuant to a wellness program on a voluntary basis, the employee participating in the wellness program gives prior, knowing, voluntary, written consent, and only the employee (or employee’s family member) and a certified genetic counselor or licensed healthcare professional receives the information. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2014 (with those provisions impacting employers are now postponed until 2015) has several provisions that apply to wellness programs. As noted, the maximum permissible reward for participating in a wellness program will be increased to 30% of the cost of health coverage; and the maximum reward will be increased to 50% for wellness programs designed to prevent, reduce, or stop tobacco use. Moreover, the ACA requires that wellness programs be available to all similarly situated employees. However, wellness programs also must offer alternatives to certain employees to qualify for rewards even if they cannot meet healthcare standards if it would be unreasonably difficult or medically inadvisable for them to do so. The preceding statutes are all federal laws in the United States.

On the state level, a brief mention must be made of certain state Lifestyle Discrimination statutes that protect the rights of employees to engage in lawful activities outside of the workplace, such as smoking or otherwise having an unhealthy lifestyle. However, these statutes typically say that if an activity by the employee harms the business interests of the employer, then the employer can discriminate based on that activity. Employees’ legal actions challenging their employers’ wellness policies as violating these lifestyle statutes ultimately have to be decided by the courts on a case-by-case basis. Finally, the common law intentional tort of invasion of privacy may also arise in a wellness context if the implementation of the employer’s wellness policy is deemed to be in impermissible intrusion into the employee’s private life or private or personal “space” or if there is an improper disclosure of the employee’s personal healthcare information. The employer, therefore, in adopting and implementing a wellness program, surely will be confronted with a wide array of laws that could impact wellness programs and thus subject the employer to legal liability.

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Practical recommendations

First and foremost, an employer must be cognizant of the many federal and state statutory and regulatory laws as well as the common law of tort that can apply to wellness programs in the workplace. There is, literally, a patchwork of laws that could apply to workplace wellness programs. The employer has, of course, discretion in adopting a wellness plan, but this discretion must be exercised very carefully, especially since there is not yet a great deal of legal guidance as to the applicability of key laws to wellness programs. The wellness plan must be properly structured to be legal, moral, and efficacious. Legally, let us emphasize the following basic points about wellness programs:

  • Avoid any direct or indirect discrimination when creating or implementing the wellness program.
  • Make sure the wellness program does not treat similarly situated employees differently based on the protected characteristics of civil rights laws.
  • Make sure the wellness program, though seemingly neutral and applying to all employees, does not have any illegal disparate adverse impact on a protected group.
  • Make sure health-related rewards or penalties do not exceed 20% of the cost of the employee’s health coverage based on current U.S. laws (and, as noted, this percentage will increase to 30% as per the ACA enacted by President Barack Obama’s administration).
  • Do not reduce an employee’s pay for any healthcare issue; rather, connect what the employee pays for healthcare to whether the employee meets or fails to meet certain healthcare standards based on the applicable law.
  • Provide alternatives or offer exemptions for employees who cannot for underlying medical reasons participate in a wellness program or meet certain healthcare goals.
  • Do not request health records before extending an offer of employment.
  • Keep employee’s healthcare information strictly confidential.

Mattke et al. suggest that the “three common themes” and strategies for workplace wellness programs are 1) internal marketing, 2) program evaluation and improvement, and 3) leadership and accountability (5). Regarding the first—internal marketing—companies should actively engage their workforce in health promotion, including face-to-face interactions, mass disseminations, explaining the program during the new hire orientation process, and providing multiple communication channels. Regarding the second—program evaluation and improvement—companies should have a “needs assessment,” consisting of surveys, HRA data, and using voluntary employee committees; then engage in data collection, storage, organization, and integration; and next conduct performance evaluations based on performance measures to determine the success of the wellness program. Finally, regarding the third component —leadership and accountability—a strong commitment to the wellness program by all levels of the organization is required, especially by senior and middle-management, as well as by external stakeholders, such as unions, is required. For example, concerning senior-management support, some points to the example of Johnson & Johnson, where a “champion,” who is a senior level manager, is identified for each component of the wellness program; and this wellness “champion” is responsible for taking the lead in developing and promoting his or her wellness component. Mattke et al. emphasize the “alignment with mission” factor, that is, “a characteristic of many successful programs with an explicit linkage between the goals of these efforts and an overarching organizational mission” (5).

A “carrot” incentive-based approach makes more sense for the prudent employer because it encourages and motivates the employee to achieve a healthier lifestyle, perhaps by seeking medical assistance to attain that goal. Pursuant to an incentive-based approach, employees should be more forthcoming about their health issues, particularly if they are assured of confidentiality, so that they can strive to receive the rewards and benefits from changing their “bad” habits to become healthier. A good wellness program should be able to motivate employees to take preventative health measures which are customized to their personal well-being (21). Confidentiality is a critical component of any wellness programs as some evidence shows that an employee is meeting wellness standards and goals will be required without discriminating against them based on non-relevant dimensions of diversity (22).

The employees should have the option to participate in the wellness program. Based on the authors’ judgment from a legal paradigm and a human resources perspective, it is best if such a program is a “carrot” based one. Although, we acknowledge that the “stick” approach can also motivate behavior toward becoming healthier and employers should implement it with a positive tone to minimize resistance and increase its acceptance by employees in the most efficient manner possible. As such, the rational and egoistic employee will certainly take heed of the “sales pitch”—Get healthy, feel good, and save money! Such an approach if carried out in a legal and ethical manner, in the authors’ judgment, would be a “win-win” scenario for the employee and employer as well as society as a whole.

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Summary

Creating and implementing a wellness program can be beneficial to the employer as well as the employee. The goal is to have an efficient, effective, legal, and moral wellness program that helps the employee to attain and keep good health as well as help the employer to manage and reduce healthcare costs. Furthermore, beyond legality, the employer must be cognizant of the ethical issues involved and consequently must strive to have a moral wellness program and not one perceived as coercive, manipulative, demeaning, or punitive by the employees. The goal, as always, is to be fair to all employees and to always act legally and ethically.

The employer’s ultimate objective, therefore, should be to create a “wellness culture” in the workplace by means of its legal and moral wellness programs and other healthy-lifestyle measures. A company’s investments in its employees’ health and wellness will “pay off” for the company in the long-run and naturally will benefit the employees, their co-workers, families, communities, and society as a whole. Encouraging and motivating employees to get involved in work wellness programs using “carrots” and “sticks” will produce positive feelings on the part of the employee as well as positive interaction among employees who, for example, may share wellness “tips,” anecdotes, and most importantly, “success stories.” The employees, employer, as well as all the stakeholders affected, will benefit from such a “good” wellness program.

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Notes

Citation: Mujtaba BG, Cavico FJ. Corporate wellness programs: implementation challenges in the modern American workplace. International Journal of Health Policy and Management 2013; 1: 193–199.

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Footnotes

Ethical issues

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

The authors have had equal contributions in this article.

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References

  1. Cavico FJ, Cavico NM. Employment At-Will, Public Policy, and the Nursing Profession.Quinnipiac Health Law Journal. 2005;8:161–238.
  2. Examination Management Service, Inc. v. Kersh Risk Management, Inc., 367 S.W.3d 835 (Tex. App. 2012).
  3. Walter Haverfield LLP. Employee Benefits. Wellness Programs. [cited 2013 February 22]. Available from: http://www.walterhav.com/practice_areas/index.htm
  4. Juergens JL. Gallagher Sharp Attorneys. Wellness Programs: Issues Employers Must Conquer To Avoid Legal Consequences. 2009.[cited 2013 February 23]. Available from:http://www.gallaghersharp.com/useful_tools/Wellness%20Programs.pdf
  5. Mattke S, Schnyer Ch, Van Busum KR. A Review of the U.S. Workplace Wellness Market. Rand Corporation, U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012 July. Document Number.: OP-373-DOL.
  6. Mujtaba BG, Cavico FJ. Employee Wellness Programs’ “Carrots” and “Sticks”. Academy for Global Business Advancement Proceedings; June 15–17, 2013; Bangkok, Thailand.
  7. Cavico FJ, Mujtaba BG. Health and Wellness Policy Ethics. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 2013;1:111–13. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  8. Eyal N. Denial of treatment to obese patients—the wrong policy on personal responsibility for health. International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 2013;1:107–10.[PMC free article] [PubMed]
  9. Sizemore SC. A Fatter Butt Equals a Skinnier Wallet: Why Workplace Wellness Programs Discriminate Against the Obese and Violate Federal Employment Law. Wyoming Law Review.2011;11:639–72.
  10. Stafford D. With more obese Americans, healthcare costs rise. The Miami Herald. 2013, April 11. p. 10B.
  11. Lamkin M. Health Care Reform, Wellness Programs, and the Erosion of Informed Consent.Kentucky Law Journal. 2013;101:435–82.
  12. Hill C. International business: Competing in the global marketplace. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2013.
  13. Kwoh L. Shape Up or Pay Up: Firms Put in New Health Penalties. The Wall Street Journal. 2013, April 6–7. p. A1–10.
  14. Santich K. The price of poor health. Sun-Sentinel. 2013, April 28. p. 4D.
  15. Mathews AW. When All Else Fails: Forcing Workers Into Healthy Habits. The Wall Street Journal. 2009, July 8. p. D1.
  16. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The Doctor Will See You Now. And Now. And Now. [updated 2013 May 20–26; cited 2013 July 10]. Available from:http://resourcecenter.businessweek.com/reviews/the-doctor-will-see-you-now.-and-now.-and-now
  17. Schmidt H, Voigt K, Wikler D. Carrots, Sticks, and Healthcare Reform—Problems with Wellness Incentives. N Eng J Med. 2010;362: e3. [PubMed]
  18. Cavico FJ, Mujtaba BG. Managers Be Warned! Third-Party Retaliation Lawsuits and the United States Supreme Court. International Journal of Business and Social Sciences. 2011;2:8–17.
  19. EEOC [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2013 February 22]. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Available from: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm
  20. Employee Benefits Legal Blog [homepage on the Internet]. 2008. [cited 2013 February 22]. Is a Wellness Program an ERISA Plan? Available from:http://employeebenefits.foxrothschild.com/2008/08/articles/welfare-plans/is-a-wellness-program-an-ERISA-plan/
  21. Noll E. Good-Intentioned Wellness Programs Need Rules Too. Corporate Wellness Magazine [serial on the Internet]. [updated 2010 July 8]. [cited 2013 February 22]; Available from: http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/intentioned-wellness-programs.html
  22. Muffler SC, Cavico FJ, Mujtaba BG. Diversity, Disparate Impact, and Ethics in Business: Implications of the New Haven Firefighters’ Case and the Supreme Court’s Ricci vDeStefano Decision. SAM Advanced Management Journal. 2010;75:11–9.

 

 

 

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HELP PLS

Your Therapist Is Typing…

Laura Turner

 

Jul 14 2016, 9:34 PM

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Amy Overgaard thought she was going to die. It was December 2014, and the 26-year-old freelance writer from Minnesota was getting ready for a morning meeting when she felt her body betray her.

“It came totally out of the blue, just hit me like a truck and bowled me over,” says Overgaard. “I remember getting hot and my mind started racing. I had thoughts flashing in my head that were the worst-case scenario of my life, like I was alone and a burden. It was a horrible reeling of my mind. I started breathing really fast, and my heart was racing.”

What had just happened? She wasn’t sure, and with her meeting coming up and the need to piece together income from her various jobs, she didn’t have time or money to see a therapist.

“In the tradition of my stoic Norwegian upbringing, I just shoved it down and pretended it didn’t happen,” she recalls. “That was my rapid introduction into the world of anxiety.”

With some financial help from a nearby clinic, Amy was able to see a therapist, but they never clicked. So she turned to something she always has with her: her phone.

“It was my doctor who introduced me to Calm,” she says. “The moment I click into that app, it’s like, relaxation.” At $39.99 per year, her subscription is just a fraction of what she would pay to see a therapist. Thanks to the internet, Amy has what she describes as “a resource that’s targeting when I’m feeling stressed, or when I can’t sleep or when I’m filled with anxiety.”

America has a mental health problem. Anxiety is the most common disorder in the country, affecting around 40 million Americans over the age of 18. Add to the mix the 14.8 million Americans with major depression, and you’re looking at 17 percent of the total US population who live with those afflictions.​

It’s a crisis, but not a unique one. Humanity has been trying to cure mental health disorders since time immemorial — you only need look to Hippocrates on melancholia or the author of 1 Samuel on David. In the grand view of history, therapeutic treatment for mental health is a blip — a helpful, professional, governed blip.

Today, as the rate of depression increases in America, we are increasingly turning to the internet to provide treatment options that are customizable, omnipresent and social. Almost everyone has a phone that’s connected to the internet, so it should follow that almost everyone has access to mental health therapy. But what do we lose when we gain increased access? Can the same internet that notoriously breeds contempt also foster personal growth and compassion?

That question has been driving Ricardo Muñoz ever since he began his career in psychology. And the answer might lie in, of all things, a pamphlet.

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Muñoz was ten years old when his family left the small river valley town of Chosicá, Peru, to move to San Francisco’s Mission District in 1961. At the time, the Mission was receiving an influx of Latino immigrants due to economic and governmental instability in Central and South America. Initially, Muñoz wanted to be a therapist and provide services to the low-income, Spanish-speaking population in the Mission, but a fateful encounter with a college professor changed all that.

“You sit in your offices and you wait for people to suffer enough to come see you,” the professor said in a lecture at the University of Oregon, where Muñoz was a student. “You should go out into your community and teach the skills you have.”

Muñoz, an excitable gentleman now in his 60s with a penchant for beginning his sentences with “heck,” was sold. And so began his unusual career in psychology that would lead him to be both a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a researcher out of San Francisco General Hospital — a vital part of the city’s social safety net. Instead of solely focusing on treatment, Muñoz chose to specialize in a little-researched part of psychology: Depression prevention.

Almost everyone has a phone that’s connected to the internet, so it should follow that almost everyone has access to mental health therapy.

This is one of Muñoz’s greatest passions: Helping people help themselves before they require help from others. “Most mental health services, including health services in general, are consumable,” he explains. The hour a patient spends at a therapist’s office can never benefit anyone else. Once used, it’s over. The non-consumable intervention, however, is the perpetual motion of psychiatry — a single pamphlet, or recently an app, can reach a near-infinite amount of people, seemingly forever.

“That’s one of the reasons why our health care system is so expensive,” he notes. “We rely almost entirely on consumable interventions that are used up as soon as we administer them to somebody.”

Muñoz’s first major breakthrough in the non-consumable interventions came in 1997, treating not the mentally ill, but chronic smokers. Muñoz and his colleague Eliseo Perez-Stable mailed brochures to people who had requested information about how to stop smoking. They included a two-page mood-management intervention explaining that “if you can keep your mood healthy you’re more likely to remain” a nonsmoker.

And it worked. After completing a study linking mood management with smoking cessation, Muñoz came to a realization: “If you can do this through the mail, why not try to do it through the web?”

An internet-based non-consumable intervention is what Muñoz and his colleagues created with the Massive Open Online Intervention, or MOOI. While the best way of doing therapy is face to face, says Muñoz, “There’s a part of therapy that involves teaching.” And with the internet, teaching can be done across space and time.

In 2012, Muñoz and his colleagues created an online resource for MOOIs, the Institute for International Internet Interventions for Health, or as it’s known on the web: i4Health. Anyone with an internet connection can visit i4Health and download manuals on depression prevention, maternal mental health and mood management.

“Heck, I mean, the site is up. If I’m on vacation, if eventually I retire, the site could still be providing the intervention. I mean, if I die, the thing could still be up there,” he says. “That’s an amazing thing! That’s why I’m so captivated by this idea.”

Muñoz is especially aware that not everyone can afford face-to-face therapy. For many years, while Muñoz ran the Depression Specialty Clinic at SF General, patients could come and see a psychiatrist for free. “But some of our patients, even those who lived in the Mission, didn’t have the money to pay for the Muni bus ride to get them here,” says Muñoz. “So the internet takes that place.”

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More people are going online to deal with their mental health issues than ever before. According to Google Trends web searches for “anxiety” were at their worldwide peak in April 2016. And with the introduction of the smartphone app, the internet is taking a more active role in mental health treatment. There are some 3,000 mental health apps on Google Play and Apple’s App store according to the Wall Street Journal. Our access to online mental health resources is unprecedented with a smartphone in hand.

Though we might consider ourselves an advanced society when it comes to access to and caliber of treatment, there is still a stigma attached to anxiety and depression. But if mental health resources come primarily from the privacy of your own device, rather than a counselor’s office or a pill, you might more likely to accept some help.

That was the case for Josh B., a 27-year-old college student and freelance marketer who lives in San Francisco. “Even within my own family there are people who don’t believe in mental health as a concept,” he says over coffee in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

Josh, who asked that we not use his last name so future employers can’t find his mental health history, has lived with depression for as long as he can remember. Four years ago, while moving to San Francisco, Josh went through one of the worst bouts he ever experienced. “I couldn’t sleep very well and I was bummed out all the time and had no energy… I spent a lot of time in bed,” he says. It was during this time he spotted an ad on a bus for a clinical trial at the University of California San Francisco.

The study, called Marigold, sought to “evaluate the safety and effects” of a new medication on people who had tried two or more kinds of antidepressant medications. “I knew some of those studies are paid, so I thought it was worth it to see what the study was about,” says Josh. Despite the study’s stated nature, the internet was about to play a large role in Josh’s recovery from depression.

For four months, Josh, who was in the control group, got a regular check-in on his phone from an app developed by UCSF researchers. Josh and the other participants used the app (and later, after some technical difficulties, a website) to register their experiences with depression on a scale of 1-7. The questions varied. One survey asked Josh to quantify how much he had felt (selecting from six set emotions: scorn, boredom, awe, sadness, stress, and loneliness) in the last week. The study also had participants check in about their levels of activity, sleep and self-perception — asking participants things like: “Do you currently think of yourself as depressed?” These questions are standard things a therapist would ask you to help track your moods, but delivering them through an app meant that people who didn’t have to have access to therapy could still treat their depression.

“[The survey] was something I had to do. I was responsible for participating in the study,” says Josh. “And if I didn’t do the survey at the times I was supposed to then someone would know and send me an email.”

Psychologists suggest that accountability is key to successfully treating depression in Internet-based interventions — exactly what the Marigold study did for its participants. “I found the study really helpful,” Josh says. “I’ve had a mixed bag experience with therapy… for the first time in years, I found myself being mindful of how [I was feeling].”

If mental health resources come primarily from the privacy of your own device, rather than a counselor’s office or a pill, you might more likely to accept some help.

Accountability is built into most new mental health treatment apps. 7 Cupsbills itself as an “on-demand emotional health and well-being service.” Kokois “a social network that calms your mind.” Calm opens onto a relaxing scene of an Alpine lake, complete with ambient bird noises, where it offers to give you “7 Days of Calming Anxiety” — for a fee.

Many of these apps offer a freemium model, where you can get access to a limited number of resources like guided meditations or chat rooms. Prices vary from $39.99 for an annual subscription to Calm to $25 a week forTalkspace, an app that connects users with licensed therapists for text-based conversations.1 These are all less expensive than paying out of pocket for an hour with a therapist, which usually runs between $75 and $150.

Premium app services aren’t a necessity to receive treatment, however. This was the case for Caitlin David, a 23-year-old editor living in Southern California. Diagnosed with ADD in high school, David found that her medication made her depression “ten times worse.” “I usually won’t get out of bed… I won’t do much of anything,” says David. “I’ve never been suicidal, but there have been points when I’ve thought, I don’t know why I’m here.”

Her parents went to counseling throughout their adult lives, so David followed suit and went to see a counselor. That counselor recommended a paid app, something that David, a broke college student, couldn’t afford. So she found the free-to-use Pacifica, and has been using it ever since.

“I’m particularly fond of Pacifica because it directly deals with a problem I call ‘phase blindness’ — the inability to remember that I’ve ever felt anything other than what I’m feeling right now,” says Esmé Weijun Wang, a writer. Wang lives with multiple diagnoses, including schizoaffective disorder, anxiety and PTSD. “With Pacifica, I can look at the mood log and see that I was, in fact, happy five days ago,” she says. “Even though I might feel like I’ve only ever been anxious and panicky.”

Founded by entrepreneurs Dale Beermann and Chris Goettel, Pacifica draws from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, asking users to track their moods and thus escape from cycles of anxiety.

Not having the funds to pay for regular therapy, David depends on Pacifica to see her through some of her worst bouts of depression and anxiety. It may not be as good as regular counseling, she admits, but it’s better than nothing.

Nothing in therapy is easy. The point is to pay attention to the most painful parts of your inner life, learn from them and change them. An app can help one understand some of the pieces of the puzzle that is mental health — like mood tracking and self-reflection — but they are limited in their ability to fully address it. A therapist can offer something more personal than the one-size-fits-most solutions offered by apps; medication can address neurochemistry. An app can only help as much as the user will allow it, and those who struggle with anxiety or depression may find it difficult to use an app that requires regular attention and input.

Everyone I spoke with also mentioned this downside of having such easy access to treatment: You have to go through your phone to get there.

Opening Twitter on my phone is a series of almost unconscious swipes and presses; it is contemporary atavism. The same thumb that finds meditations when I need to sleep can also open up the apps that make my thoughts swirl and incite dangerous levels of envy and comparison. The very device that can bring relief can easily, with a single tap, trigger social media-born bouts of anxiety and depression.

Giacomo Bagnara

Efficacy aside, apps designed to work with anxiety and depression find themselves in an identity crisis: Are they a technology platform? Or are they mental health care providers?

In their Terms of Service, Talkspace says, in bolded caps, “TALKSPACE DOES NOT OFFER THERAPY DIRECTLY OR SELL THERAPY SERVICES.” It’s the same caveat that Uber makes — they aren’t a transportation company, just a matchmaking service.

Talkspace co-founder Oren Frank and his wife, Roni, found themselves at a crossroads in their marriage several years ago in their native Israel. Separated and ready to file for divorce, they went to counseling as a last resort. “It was a very powerful experience,” says Oren Frank. Buoyed by the insights gained from therapy, the couple moved to New York and started to research why therapy hadn’t moved online in the same way that things like dating and travel reservations had.

“Most people don’t book travel via live agents, most people find their matches and their dating elsewhere,” Frank says. “So how come [therapy] didn’t migrate to a digital distribution platform? Before you know it you’re in a start-up.”

The very device that can bring relief can easily, with a single tap, trigger social media-born bouts of anxiety and depression.

Last year, Talkspace raised $9.5 million in their Series A funding round. According to Frank, Talkspace currently employs over 600 therapists (as contractors) and are onboarding “a couple hundred more.” Over 300,000 people have gone through their free consultation. “It’s a very big clinic if you look at it in that terms. I would assume it’s probably the largest in the world,” says Frank.

I press him on the 300,000 — does that mean people who have completed the program? Frank says no. “That is everyone who came in, and many of them just did a free consultation, so they talked to the intake therapist and didn’t really go into treatment.” And the therapists — are they bound by state licensing laws only to practice in their states? “No one knows,” he says. “It’s completely unregulated. There’s no law, rule, or regulation whatsoever — and we got very extensive legal advice on that.”

I asked Danielle Schlosser, an assistant professor of psychology at University of California at San Francisco about this. “This is an area that the Board of Psychology and states haven’t touched yet,” she says. “The laws have not caught up to the technology.” According to the California Board of Psychology, “California residents may only receive treatment from someone who is licensed within California.”

When I signed up for a trial, I saw that my Talkspace therapist was from Florida. She sent me an informed consent form before we got started, and a careful read revealed that I was essentially signing up to therapy by Florida rules: It seemed strange to have to agree that our location was Florida when I was sitting at my computer in California, but it was the only way to move forward.

I posed the question of cross-state therapy to Frank. “The licenses are not bound by state,” he says. “If you’re a therapist you’re a therapist.” But a moment later, he clarifies, “The boards in the states are the ones issuing the license, and they require that you practice in your state only.” Has Talkspace found a loophole to exploit? They are in the business of remote therapy, Frank says.

Schlosser sees things a little differently. “[D]ifferent states have different laws for practicing across state lines,” she says. State licensing boards are in place to ensure that mental health professionals are accountable to someone other than their clients, and requirements vary from state to state.

In California, for example, in order to be a licensed professional clinical counselor students must receive training on state-mandated topics such as child abuse, recovery-oriented care and human sexuality, according toCounselor-License, a website that tracks state-by-state licensure requirements.

Out-of-state students have to document that they have been trained on those topics before they are licensed. In an article addressing distance therapy, the American Psychological Association wrote, “[T]here is little consistent guidance across states on how psychologists should use” technology to treat clients across state lines, but, “you may need to be licensed both in your own state and in your clients’ state in order to practice.” California is one of three states that has passed laws about online therapy, and according to the APA it “requires that providers obtain both written and verbal informed consent before providing telehealth services, including a description of the potential risks, consequences, and benefits of telemedicine.”

What’s more, there are no standards of treatment when it comes to apps, so the internet ends up being a little like the Wild West of self-help. The FDA will regulate anything that makes a claim about a specific disorder, but it doesn’t have any oversight over apps like Calm, which simply offers a way to “meditate and relax with guided mindfulness meditation.” In a recent white paper, the FDA said it “intends to apply its regulatory oversight to only those mobile apps that are medical devices and whose functionality could pose a risk to a patient’s safety.” This means that apps like Calm, which are designed as a stand-in or supplement to therapy, will not be regulated.

The stigma of mental illness and lack of resources are two of the major obstacles people face in addressing mental health, and apps can play a role in overcoming both: They’re significantly less expensive than traditional talk therapy, and they can be used in private.

And this isn’t just in theory, it’s something that therapists are noticing here and now. “I have a lot of male clients [on Talkspace], and I had zero male clients in my private practice,” says therapist Shannon McFarlin. “Our culture has shamed men about showing emotion. Men feel more comfortable on this platform because there’s no stigma,” she says. “They’re using technology so it doesn’t necessarily feel like therapy, but I have had these incredible conversations and breakthroughs with my male clients.”

Giacomo Bagnara

I signed up for a Talkspace trial and was introduced to Gina. Gina would not be my therapist, but would match me with the person who would be. Gina responded quickly to my in-app text messages, but the communication often felt clumsy and impersonal, like it was pasted from a template.

I am so glad that you have subscribed. We will start the matching process, so that i make sure you get the therapist who is right for you. Everything we have talked about so far gives me a good idea already, but if you don’t mind I will leave some more questions for you to answer which will help me even more.

I shared my age, gender and location in the initial chat, but they got lost somehow, and Gina asked me again for my basic biographical details. “Female, age 30, San Francisco, freelancer writer,” I wrote. I highlighted the phrase and copied it for future reference, which came in handy when I was finally matched with a therapist. In addition to being a Talkspace therapist, Nicole Amesbury is the head of their clinical development — which may have been part of why, as a reporter, I was matched with her. Her bio read, in part: “It is my experience that my clients know themselves better than anyone… a good therapeutic relationship includes trust, authenticity, freedom and positive outcomes.”

Building trust over the internet is something I’m familiar with. As I’ve written extensively about my own experience with anxiety, I’ve been invited into other people’s experiences with depression, medication, and anxiety disorders. Cultivating a healthy relationship with a therapist I’d never met didn’t seem so foreign in a world where most of my long-distance relationships are kept up over text message.

Your online therapist can’t hold you accountable to any degree more serious than sending a couple of emails.

The promises of online therapy are lofty, but not entirely unrealistic. In some cases, the technological advances that have enabled online or text-based therapy have been life-saving. “One client I have is a new mom with a little baby and she has post-partum depression,” McFarlin says. “She can’t leave the house to go to an appointment right now, but we talk every day.”

Brooklyn-based journalist Rebecca McCray tried Talkspace when she got a discount code and her former therapist no longer took her insurance. “Talkspace seemed like it could be a decent alternative,” says McCray. But she’s had mixed results. “I imagine the feeling of anonymity could make it easier [for some people] to divulge painful personal issues,” she says. “For me, the most valuable in-person sessions are those in which a conversation pushes me into a really uncomfortable place. But with Talkspace, I can put down my phone and not open the app if I feel even vague discomfort.”

That ability to quickly check out of a therapeutic relationship is harder to do in person, where you can’t delete an app or ignore your therapist without at least a voicemail or email. Your online therapist can’t hold you accountable to any degree more serious than sending a couple of emails, or, in the case of Talkspace, sending a few messages if you disappear for several weeks.

My Talkspace therapist didn’t even have my phone number, and no one knew that I was talking to her — I didn’t have to explain to any of my friends that I couldn’t meet them for happy hour because I was seeing my therapist, something I have had to do in real life. To be held accountable online is an inconvenience easily done away with in the space of a few clicks; a quick cancellation; the act of deleting an app. The ease of access that makes distance therapy so desirable in the first place can also be its downfall.

On the face of it, Talkspace isn’t doing anything revolutionary. Phone calls with therapists have existed almost as long as phone calls and therapists — The VA, in particular has been practicing telehealth for almost two decades. The field of telehealth is robust and is still growing, especially in psychiatry. Talkspace is harnessing new technology — smartphones, not phones — in service of an old practice, but this time, it’s not just the therapist who is making the money.

We’re all independent contractors and we get paid a percentage of the subscription price,” McFarlin said. Instead of the client paying the therapist directly, he or she pays Talkspace, who then cuts a check to the therapist. Distance therapy has its advantages for the therapists too. Most Talkspace therapists either maintain an in-person practice or have in the past, but the serve allows them to expand their client base outside of their immediate area. To borrow a tired analogy, it’s similar to Uber, but for therapy.

McFarlin wouldn’t comment on whether this made Talkspace therapists eager to add more clients to their roster, but she did say that as a mentor to other Talkspace therapists she makes an additional stipend.

The ease of access that makes distance therapy so desirable in the first place can also be its downfall.

While apps like Talkspace repackage traditional therapy methods into an app, others begin with lofty ambitions. Joyable, a platform that connects users with “coaches” to guide them through activities meant to help alleviate social anxiety, states its mission is to “cure the world of anxiety and depression.”

I spoke with Dana (not her real name), a former employee at Joyable. When she joined in 2015 Dana was excited about the possibilities Joyable held for working with people with social anxiety. Specifically, she was interested in the model Joyable uses — that it relied heavily on the tools Dana had previously found so useful in her own experience with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

“CBT is well-studied and well-regarded; it’s also short-term, which is great for a program like Joyable,” says Dana. Different from psychoanalysis, CBT addresses an acute issue or set of issues and, eventually, helps you make your way off the therapist’s couch (or, in this case, the chat room) and back into the real world.

At Joyable, a person signs up for a relationship with a coach who walks them through a series of questionnaires and exercises designed to deal with social anxiety in different settings — at work, at parties, with friends. The client might set goals with their coach, like “Give a presentation at a work meeting.”

Their website has a section that defines social anxiety, complete with inspirational quotes in the header. “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes,” one header reads. On the one hand, this quote reflects classic CBT beliefs: If you work hard enough to change your thoughts, you will overcome your unwanted mental patterns. On the other hand, it could be read as a condemnation of those who aren’t happy. If changing your attitude were that easy, wouldn’t we all do it?

According to Dana, social anxiety wasn’t Joyable’s initial target. “Their idea was to do something more broad, [but] the clinical advisor told them that CBT is especially effective for social anxiety,” says Dana. “The story was more that, we know anxiety and depression are very prevalent, and we’re business folks, and we’re going to take this on.”

That business-minded approach led to a rapid expansion. Dana was one of the first employees at Joyable when she was hired as a coach in 2015. Now, there are around 30 coaches, many of whom are coming straight from college.

A coach’s job at Joyable is to check in with users and remind them to work through the online module. “A client load can be very high,” Dana says. “I had as many as 120 clients at once because I started very early. Newer coaches probably hover around the 40-60 client range.”

I wondered what their training was like. Dana pauses. “There’s no requirement for any sort of mental health credential or background,” she says. “Although the hiring criteria changed a bit while I was there.” Dana’s training consisted of “about a week… not just on CBT and the program, but all coach functioning. The actual amount of training on CBT is pretty minimal. I would say during onboarding there are maybe 2 or 3 hours devoted to CBT.”

One of the difficulties with any kind of mental health treatment is that a person who presents with one issue — like social anxiety — might also be dealing with concurrent diagnoses. The difficulty at Joyable was that coaches wouldn’t know about a concurrent diagnosis unless their client also knew and reported it. “Sometimes coaches would get messages or calls from people who would be having thoughts of suicide or would be actively using alcohol or drugs in a way that was harmful to them,” she says. “So you have coaches who are just out of college and haven’t been given any training on what other mental health conditions look like.”

Dana also mentioned that users would occasionally make passes at coaches, but since coaches are rated on feedback from their clients, they were reticent to set strong boundaries.

“The philosophy of the leadership of the company was basically, ‘We don’t need mental health professionals as coaches; the coaches are not doing any sort of mental health service,’” Dana says. Joyable coaches occasionally ended up as crisis counselors, despite not having much training for dealing with people in crisis. This is the danger: young, inadequately prepared people on the phone with clients who are suicidal or having a manic episode or deeply depressed.

This is complicated, and not entirely Joyable’s fault. They are clear about what they do, which is address social anxiety. Their homepage, which explains the program, refers to coaches several times but never explicitly says they are not licensed mental health professionals. However, their FAQdoes say so, and coaches are trained to state this during initial calls with clients.

This is the danger: young, inadequately prepared people on the phone with clients who are suicidal or having a manic episode or deeply depressed.

Dana found this approach alarming. “Their mission to ‘cure the world of anxiety and depression’ — you just don’t cure those things,” she says. From her perspective, the company’s leadership paid lip service to the idea of feedback but didn’t actually take it. “I was concerned about the potential that Joyable ads were potentially misleading to clients,” she says. “We already had enough clients who were experiencing suicidal ideation and coaches weren’t trained on that.” Dana asked if the company was going to hire an in-house medical advisor and was repeatedly told no. “They have this very, ‘move fast-break things’ mentality that’s very tech-centric,” she says. “And it doesn’t work well with mental health.”

I reached out to Joyable for comment on each of the specific points Dana mentioned. Joyable co-founder and CEO Peter Shalek didn’t address the allegations, and instead sent a statement about how he and his co-founder, Steve Marks, “have family members and close friends who’ve suffered from anxiety and depression. We’ve seen how hard it is to get help, and we don’t want anyone else to suffer that experience.”

Shalek also says the company “works with leading experts” to deliver mental health care, and that they have “an escalation protocol designed by Dr. Lanny Berman,” the former President of the International Association of Suicide Prevention. Shalek says they intend to bring on a full-time Chief Medical Officer and are proud of their “incredibly talented team of coaches and the role they play in supporting our clients as they overcome social anxiety and dramatically change their lives.”

Even with her experience at Joyable, Dana doesn’t count out the utility of the internet for addressing mental health. “Being able to talk to a licensed mental health professional in a way that is low-cost would be excellent. One thing I’m watching with interest is the expansion of provider networks for mental health care services.”

Joyable might embrace the tech industry’s outsized ambitions, but Pacifica takes a different approach. “We don’t have any intention of replacing therapy,” says Chris Goettel, Pacifica’s co-founder. Goettel struggled with social anxiety in his teenage years, and his background in consumer apps led to investigate what kinds of online help might be available.

It was October 2014, and he found “meditation apps that had really nice designs, but they didn’t use the same clinical tools I had learned from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” he says. “Then there were CBT apps, but they had a very clinical feel.” So Goettel got in touch with Dale Beermann, his former colleague at an educational startup called StudyBlue, and together, they entered the app market. They hired Christine Moberg, then a Stanford postdoc and now a psychologist at the Palo Alto VA Hospital, as an advisor and content consultant.

Like a handful of similar apps, Pacifica aspires to be FDA-approved as an evidence-based tool, and thus covered by insurance. “The long-term vision has always been to get to a place where Pacifica is a reimbursable part of approved treatment plans,” says Beermann. There are no official guidelines at the moment as to how an app can be incorporated into an insurance plan, but that isn’t stopping apps from trying to be the next best moment in mental health. The therapist’s office is still an option, but the avenues to address mental health are manifold.

Pacifica doesn’t connect users with coaches or listeners, as some apps do, because “if you think about the end user’s mindset, if they’re working with an individual to address their mental health, there is an assumption that that individual is qualified to be working with them,” Beermann says. “It honestly scares the hell out of me that there are companies like Joyable that are providing mental health services without a licensed medical professional doing it,” Beermann says.

The tradeoff is that increased access — to other people, to mental health resources, to less expensive treatment — often come at a cost.

Ambitious as they might be, most of the apps springing up to address mental health aren’t suggesting they will replace talk therapy, which is generally considered to be one of the most effective forms of treatment for anxiety and depression. Traditional, in-person therapy will always be a better way to address mental health than clicking through an app to do a ten-minute meditation.

But despite their limitations and caveats, everyone I spoke with saw their own smartphone-led path as one that led to increased empathy, and ultimately, healthier living.

“Anxiety made me feel completely alone and hopeless,” Amy Overgaard says. “The only way you can not feel alone in that, is to share your experience and realize how many people in your life around you are dealing with the same things. You see people with more compassion when you know what it feels like to feel broken and hopeless.”

Living with depression often saps a person of energy, but a 2002 study found that “People who are depressed are more likely to be highly prone to… an empathetic response to the distress of others.” Being aware of and working on your depression or anxiety daily, even through the help of an app, can make a person more tuned in to the depression or anxiety of the people around them.

The tradeoff is that increased access — to other people, to mental health resources, to less expensive treatment — often come at a cost. These can be small and literal, like when a person downloads a $5 app. They can also be unknown, like when a person who has never tried face-to-face therapy opts to see a counselor online. Or they might be enormous, and life-altering. What happens when a suicidal person expects an app to lift themselves out of depression? Is it their fault for having unrealistic expectations, or the app’s fault for making outsized promises or something else altogether?

Anyone with a smartphone can seek help with relative ease. The barrier to entry is low, but considering the cost and quality of the treatment — from Pacifica’s low-risk meditations to Joyable’s questionable ambition — when it comes to mental health, there might not always be an app for that.

 

For more Digg Features, check out our archive.

1 You can even buy your loved one a Talkspace gift card to “Give the Gift of Happiness!” 

Laura Turner writes from San Francisco about the intersection of religion and culture.

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