Meditation can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions

“Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement said: “Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.

The research, published today in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, reviews over a decade of studies analysing how the behaviour of our genes is affected by different MBIs including mindfulness and yoga. […] When examined together, the 18 studies — featuring 846 participants over 11 years — reveal a pattern in the molecular changes which happen to the body as a result of MBIs, and how those changes benefit our mental and physical health.

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future

When I share something here, I try to include a paragraph or two to give the reader a sense of what the piece is about and some feel for what I thought was interesting/important. It’s difficult to know what to excerpt with this… I don’t even know what to call it… “explainer” by Tim Urban. At 38,000 words it is the longest thing I’ve ever read on the Internet (not counting books). He explains the brain. Where it’s been and where it might be going. That I was able to read such a long piece is a testament to a) the subject matter and b) his writing style. I said I wasn’t going to include any excerpts but here’s a couple:

“Die Progress Unit (DPU) – How many years one would need to go into the future that the ensuing shock from the level of progress would kill you.”

“Putting our technology into our brains isn’t about whether it’s good or bad to become cyborgs. It’s that we are cyborgs and we will continue to be cyborgs—so it probably makes sense to upgrade ourselves from primitive, low-bandwidth cyborgs to modern, high-bandwidth cyborgs.”

Second opinion nets different diagnosis 88% of time

“A new study finds that nearly 9 in 10 people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor are likely to leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they were first told. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one’s likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis.”

“Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what their first physician concluded.”

The study was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Be Impeccable with your Word

While waiting for my car to be serviced yesterday morning, I watched a few minutes of a CBS News feature on how patients in the early stages of ALS are preparing (to the extent that’s possible) for the later stages of the disease.

“Before her speech becomes severely impaired, Hubner turned to speech pathologist John Costello at Boston Children’s Hospital. He gives patients a voice recorder and tells them to think of phrases that reflect who they are.”

As I watched the woman making notes and recording simple statements I found myself thinking about all the things I say during the course of a day (“Hey, Lucy. You want to go outside?” “Hattie! Come sit to the couch and get some loving’” “Have I told you today how much I love you?”) and what it would be like if I could no longer say those things.

In the CBS piece they entered the patient’s recordings into a computer so she could play them back with a keystroke. As I watched I wondered what would I want to say if I could no longer speak the words. Whew.

A list of things I take for granted would be too long to list here, but the simple act of speaking would be high on the list. How many spoken thoughts have I wasted? What would I say if today was my last day to speak?

The woman in the news story was writing down things she wanted to record. Not a lot of negative or mean things on that list, if I had to guess. Probably not a lot of political comments or complaints about waiting in line.

In an ancient blog post I imagined getting a printed transcript of every word I uttered in during the course of the day. With a red pencil I crossed out everything that didn’t need to be said. What would I be left with? If I could say only 20 things tomorrow, what would I choose?

Brain shape linked to personality differences

“Florida State University College of Medicine Associate Professor Antonio Terracciano joined a team of researchers from the United States, United Kingdom and Italy to examine the connection between personality traits and brain structure. […] The traits include neuroticism, the tendency to be in a negative emotional state; extraversion, the tendency to be sociable and enthusiastic; openness, how open-minded a person is; agreeableness, a measure of altruism and cooperativeness; and conscientiousness, a measure of self-control and determination. As people get older, neuroticism goes down — people become better at handling emotions — while conscientiousness and agreeableness go up — people become progressively more responsible and less antagonistic.”

Science News

Missouri highways are encrusted with nasty-ass billboards from border to border. Our claim to shame. Yesterday we spotted a board for When I got home I got curious and clicked around a bit until I found a list of procedures. A few that caught my eye:

  • Body Contouring – Removes loose, hanging skin from the body, after gastric bypass surgery, stomach stapling or gastric banding (gastric bypass).
  • Buttocks Augmentation – This procedure is designed to enhance the size of the buttocks. Buttock augmentation can be done by using silicone implants or fat from a person’s body, known as fat transfer (or “fat grafting“).
  • Eyebrow Lift (for the person who questions everything)
  • Fat Grafting – This procedure will remove a patient’s own fat to re-implant it where needed.
  • Jaw Implant – sounds painful
  • Forehead Lift – This procedure softens the angry or tired look caused by a wrinkled brow. Most forehead lift patients are between ages 40 and 60 years old.
  • Threadlift – Although a threadlift can raise droopy areas of the brow, cheeks, jowls, and neck, it will not produce the same dramatic results as a facelift or brow lift.

Five most restful activities

“The survey asked people to choose the activities that they find the most restful. The results show that the top five most restful activities are those often done alone:”

  • Reading (58 per cent)
  • Being in the natural environment (53.1 per cent)
  • Being on their own (52.1 per cent)
  • Listening to music (40.6 per cent)
  • Doing nothing in particular (40 per cent)

More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness.

Meditation: 271 Days

After 271 consecutive days of meditation practice, I missed on Saturday. I was attending my 50th high school class reunion and just spaced it off. My previous streak of 371 days (starting on December 4, 2014) ended during a bout with pneumonia (December 5, 2015). I don’t get hung up on the quality of my practice or the duration but I do try to be consistent in sitting every day, if only for 10 minutes. Which is the only reason I keep track of my sessions. As I’ve noted previously, missing once a year might not be a bad thing if it keeps me from focusing on the string instead of today’s session. So today is two in a row!