Tag Archives: health

Flow: The Key to Happiness

Flow: The Key to Happiness
How and Why Students Should be Involved
Eric Zielinski, DC Student

Proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD – Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, the concept of flow has been widely referenced in the field of positive psychology where researchers measure things like states of happiness, values, strengths, virtues, and talents. Intrigued by people who perform very difficult and demanding tasks for no financial incentive or social status benefit, Csikszentmihalyi began to study this phenomenon that led him to a career’s worth of research. For no apparent reason other than the fact that they thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing, these people subjected themselves to strenuous physical, mental, emotional, and even financial stress to accomplish their goals. According to Csikszentmihalyi, what motivated people to do these activities, was Flow_Key to Happiness_Go With the Flow“not anything that came from outside, but it came from the activity itself.”

Csikszentmihalyi coined the flow experience as a “synergy of different aspects of consciousness where you wish you could go forever because it feels like you are completely fulfilling something that you can do you well and see it happening and feel that nothing else matters.” Flow is a place where people have a very clear goal and is what athletes commonly refer to as “the zone.” Moment-by-moment, people who flow, know exactly what they have to do in an almost surreal, out-of-body experience where life-purpose and satisfaction are at the pinnacle. Outside of pitching a perfect game or bowling a 300, other tasks commonly experienced as flow are playing music, painting, writing, sewing, or any other sequence-oriented task where you can let your mind go and simply allow your innate intelligence to operate in full capacity. Flow_Key to Happiness_BookAccording to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand.

It may be of interest for you to note that the ability to experience flow is oftentimes related to our ability to overcome adversity. According to Richard J. Davidson, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, one of the keys to happiness, and subsequently being able to experience flow, is being able to recover from adversity quickly. Contrary to popular belief, adversity is a very healthy part of happiness. To be happy, people must experience sadness. To experience a sense of achievement, people must experience challenges. Even tragedy has a role in helping people be happy.

The following six factors encompass an experience of flow:

1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
2. Merging of action and awareness
3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness
4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
5. A distortion of temporal experience, a person’s subjective experience of time is altered
6. Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience

Those aspects can appear independently of each other, but only in combination they constitute a so-called flow experience.

Chiropractic: Health Care or Sick Care?

Chiropractic: Health Care or Sick Care?
Vince Methot, DC Student

There are four forms of care for the human body: health care, sick care, emergency care, and symptom care. Obviously, the best of these is health care. Health care is care for a healthy person to optimize their health and bring the person to their full potential. The next best care is sick care. This is care for a sick person to find and remove the cause of the sickness or to bring them from sickness to health. Emergency care is needed, time-critical care. Of the four, the worst is symptom care, where the cause is either unknown or is not sought after and relief of the symptoms is the only goal.

Chiropractic care is not health care because a person with a vertebral subluxation is a sick person. If a chiropractic patient is not sick (no vertebral subluxation) then no care is needed and, therefore, not given. If care is not given unless they are sick, then it is not health care; again, sick care gets the person healthy, but no longer cares for the person once they are healthy. Chiropractic care focuses on and succeeds in restoring a person to health. This doesn’t make it health care, by definition, but it makes chiropractic care better than most care out there. I won’t go into the tragedy of symptom care or the need for emergency care.

The ideal care for health of the body is self-care, where we take responsibility for our own health, realizing that life without sickness is possible, even if it is limited by time. There also comes a time when this ideal falls short and the best of our abilities is not enough to keep us healthy. In this sick state we should seek out care, to have done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

The ideal doctor to see in this state is a doctor who can see and understand our whole state of health, correct what we cannot, and then teach us how to never return to that state of sickness. Unfortunately, this doctor does not exist and cannot exist with our current limitations. I also do not believe that any person or profession should aspire to such a lofty position, except to the degree at which the limits are removed. Rather, there should be a network of doctors and professions who work hand in hand to approximate this ideal.

The chiropractic profession is uniquely positioned to provide primary care physicians in this network because of our focus on the control center of healing. I use the phrase “primary care physician” with my own definition, separate and distinct from other definitions of the day.  Chiropractors should be primary care physicians because they should be the first doctor that a sick person should go to, not because they should be able to care for all sicknesses. To try to change our profession to include other modalities, when we have so many tools which enlighten the brain and inspire our bodies to heal powerfully, would water us down to the point where we would be powerless. We just need to learn these tools, refine them, and then trust them. This takes hard work.

So, if we shouldn’t change the profession to be able to care for all sickness, what happens to a patient if they still have problems after ChiropracticHealthCareOrSickCare2_Methot_Vince_May_2013removing their vertebral subluxation, or more likely, their vertebral subluxation cannot be removed for long periods of time? At this point they would go to see a secondary care physician in this network of doctors. Chiropractic is a profession that I call an enlightenment profession because the brain is “enlightened” by care. Secondary care physicians would come from professions that I call nourishment and sociality professions. Addressing these two areas correctly will help the majority of sickness that chiropractic care does not resolve completely.

This network of professions I envision does not end here, but suffice it to say, as we advance chiropractic in effectively allowing the sick to return to health, let’s not dilute it or try to be more than we are capable of being. Rather, let us build a system of care for the sick people who need help healing. Let us find the other vitalistic professions and join them into a network of doctors and professions to bring about the change needed. This will result in minimizing the current prevalence of symptom care, building a proper sick care system, and then allow the world to focus on true health care.

The Power of Positivity

The Power of Positivity:
Countering Negative Self-Talk
Lisa Stafford, DC Student

Under the burdens of responsibility, it is easy to lose focus and view the world around you through a filter of negativity. College students, dealing with the pressure of juggling classes and life, are particularly prone to the insidious effects of pessimism, which often contributes to feelings of exhaustion and burnout. A study conducted by Reichel, Neumann, and Neumann, identified this as a common phenomenon on the college campus: “college students may… experience the burnout phenomenon due to learning conditions that demand excessively high levels of effort and do not provide supportive mechanisms that would facilitate effective coping.” The pressure to excel drives many individuals to critically assess themselves, decrying their faults in a manner that tears down their self-esteem and feelings of confidence. Negative self-talk, is a derisive and dangerous practice to fall into. Negative self-talk is the habit of constantly berating oneself, whether verbally or by allowing unspoken words of self-contempt to stream through your thoughts. image 2 - Self TalkCalling yourself “stupid,” saying “I’m not good enough,” or repeatedly declaring you cannot achieve something, is a corrosive practice that undermines your will and determination to succeed. Negative self-talk also decreases our ability to cope with stress, which can invariably affect our emotional and physical health over time.

In contrast, positive words and thinking are powerful and infectious. When we find ourselves slipping into a pattern of negative thinking and self-talk, it is important to make a conscious effort to counter those destructive words with positive, uplifting ones. Words are powerful, and the things we say are often a precursor to actual events. The things we declare both verbally and internally are frequently a self-fulfilling prophecy, either for our benefit or our detriment. What you think influences your feelings, actions, and the things you attract into your life. Therefore, it is important to replace negative self-talk with powerful ways of speaking, thinking, and being.

One means of countering negative self-talk is by taking an inventory of the things in your life that you are grateful for. Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness. Having a grateful attitude expands our capacity for love and generosity, raises our energy level, and helps us to connect with what is good and positive in our lives. It makes us more conscious of the fundamental things that are linked to our wellbeing, happiness, and contentment. When we sit back and think of all the things we have to be grateful for, it is impossible to contain the need to express our appreciation and thanks by engaging in some specific action.

A very practical way to express or gratitude is by making a gratitude list. Making a daily gratitude list is a small but powerful expression of thanks that we can do privately or share with others. This is something we can do for a few minutes every day, which will help us to take stock of our lives, and identify the gifts and blessings we may take for granted. Making a gratitude list is a tangible reminder of how fortunate we are. When you are depressed or frustrated, looking at your gratitude list helps to put everything into perspective. Whether you are grateful for the love of your family, the beauty of the changing seasons or for successfully making it through finals – there is nothing that cannot be included on your gratitude list.

Another way to circumvent negative self-talk is by incorporating an empowering mantra into your daily routine. Mantras are words or a phrase, repeated internally sometimes in a prayerful or meditative state, that shifts our consciousness. image 1 - Negative Self TalkMantras have been used for thousands of years originally in Hinduism and Buddhism, and are an effective tool that harnesses the power of words to shape and transform our thoughts. It is important to remember that our words initiate our thoughts, and the thoughts we focus on become reality. Our mantras should reflect the happiness, success, love, and abundance we seek in our lives. Your mantra can be as simple as saying, “I am capable of accomplishing anything!” You can be creative, and adapt your personal mantra according to your circumstances and goals.

Surrounding yourself with positive people is another way of offsetting negative self-talk. Enthusiasm is contagious. It is difficult to be cynical when your time is spent with friends who embrace life with exuberance, and are optimistic, cheerful, and encouraging. Spending time in the company of sanguine individuals, who share your vision and dreams, will help to alter your perspective, outlook, and internal dialogue for the better.

Boutique Fitness

Boutique Fitness
One Workout Packs a Punch
Carla Gibson, DC Student

In the past ten years, Pilates and yoga studios—and most recently, CrossFit gyms—have popped up everywhere to meet the exercise needs of our ever-sedentary population. All of these venues have a few things in common. They offer a specialized fitness routine, have a boutique feel, and they appeal to people who want to be fit and healthy, but need additional structure to fit a workout into their daily routines. Another commonality is they are all based on fitness routines that may have only been available to elite groups in the past. For example, yoga was originally practiced by priests in the Eastern spiritual traditions to get them ready to sit still for hours to meditate and attain enlightenment. Pilates routines only needed to be practiced by the ballerina who wanted to secure her role in Swan Lake, and it’s obvious that only a Navy SEAL needs the training provided by a CrossFit workout.

While other types of self-defense arts such as karate, tae kwon do, and jujitsu have been lining the urban and suburban strip malls of America for quite some time, I was surprised recently to notice clubs dedicated to the world’s oldest fighting sport—boxing. Boxing FitnessMaybe this surprise stems from my only childhood memories of boxing, which are of watching it with my crude uncles on a Saturday afternoon, and I would like to believe the world has become more politically correct since then, but I never considered that boxing would gain popularity among the mini-van-driving, soccer-mom crowd. This is a sign of the times, and a function of the neighborhoods and patterns we’ve created. While many of us would have never imagined our mothers lining up and paying money to train like a green beret, we probably also never thought we’d see the day when “women of a certain age” would put down good money to don boxing gloves. But, here I am, a woman of a certain age, entering a profession where I will use my historically non-existent upper body strength in some capacity for hours a day, and so, I have done just that.

This Groupon-induced fitness experiment began when a “group fitness cardio boxing” class was offered just 7 minutes from my house. After practicing yoga 2-4 times a week last quarter, I was looking to add some cardio and weights to my routine. Originally, I thought the Groupon said “kickboxing” and I was imagining a group class like you might find at LA Fitness or the YMCA—you know, the kind where you sort of look pretty and just kick and punch an imaginary opponent for 45 minutes. However, when I walked into the gym, Sweet Science Fitness Boxing Club – Atlanta’s Boxing Boutique, I was greeted by a full-size boxing ring and a variety of punching bags. On top of that, I was told I would need to wrap my hands. With an instant pang of regretful uncertainty, I thought, “Oh dear, what have I done?”

Luckily, the group class was attended by a variety of people. Some were burly guys with obvious aplomb in the boxing arena, CarlaBoxingsome were teenage athletes looking for conditioning, but the majority was comprised of ladies around my age, looking for a workout that was new and different. Coach Marty, a former executive search consultant turned entrepreneur and boxing trainer, greeted the class with a no-nonsense, boot camp approach. Unlike my yoga classes, where I was urged to take breaks whenever I needed to and go at my own pace, the mantra here is “Don’t PACE yourself—PUSH YOURSELF!” Despite the tough standard, by the end of the class, it was easy to see that he is a talented coach with a big heart and the interests of his students at the forefront.

The class consists of a fifteen minute warm-up, thirty minutes of training in various boxing moves (usually completed with a partner), and then a vigorous 15-minute drill on the punching bags. That may sound tame, but the combinations keep it fresh and different muscle groups are targeted in different ways at each class to ensure that you get full body conditioning. In addition to building physical muscle, boxing builds brain muscle too. The basic drills consist of five different moves and the coach will call out the moves in different combinations. At first, I can tell I am using my conscious brain to process the information and perform the move, but at some point, muscle memory and verbal cue combine and my body begins to do the motion before I am consciously aware of what was said. Obviously, boxing is a sport that involves an opponent and your brain needs to be constantly processing information and making adjustments to ensure you are protected at all times. This is a skill that has applications to so many other tasks in life and provides both the mental and physical workout that science keeps telling us is the spigot on the fountain of youth.

No matter what type of chiropractic technique you plan to use in practice, it’s likely you will find yourself in need of a workout to build and sustain your core. Whether you plan to deliver 300 full spine adjustments a day or you work in some of the non-force techniques such as Network and BEST, all require you to stand for some length of time, in positions that are not normally practiced by most, especially if you’ve spent the majority of your life in a classroom. Even if you’re not on the path to a DC career, developing upper body and core strength is an asset to the health of your spine. If you’re looking for something new, consider giving boxing a try.

Exploring Sorbitol

Exploring Sorbitol
Is it Worth the Risk?
Eric Zielinski, DC Student

Sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, was Sorbitolonce widely accepted as a sugar alternative for diabetics. It is also produced in the body when glucose is metabolized. The dangers of sorbitol, however, have been in medical literature for over two decades. Today, there is increasing controversy over the merits of this popular sweetener.

Sorbitol is often used to sweeten processed foods. Some tissues contain sorbitol dehydrogenase, an enzyme that converts sorbitol into fructose. Tissues lacking this enzyme run the risk of sorbitol accumulating within the tissue. Moreover, an enzyme known as aldose reductase converts glucose into sorbitol. This process occurs in everyone to a degree, but in those with diabetes, the conversion of glucose to sorbitol is greatly accelerated. When it does, it depletes the body of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Sorbitol is osmotically active, drawing water into cells, in turn causing those cells to swell, eventually resulting in serious diabetic complications such as vision problems (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney problems (nephropathy) and blood vessel damage. This osmotic characteristic makes it especially useful as a laxative, which would explain the common compliant of gas, bloating, and other digestive issues after eating foods sweetened with the alcohol-sugar.

Because of its chemical constitution, sorbitol is not used by the body, so it takes a long time for the body to rid itself of the sugar molecule. As more food items are made with sorbitol and consumed by diabetics, combined with the accelerated conversion of glucose, sorbitol can build up over time. Diabetics and those counting calories should give serious consideration to the dangers of not only sorbitol, but all artificial sweeteners. Like many medical interventions, sorbitol and artificial sweeteners were initially recommended by diabetes organizations and MDs globally only to be retracted as “dangerous” due to the inherent risks. Sadly, millions of people have been affected by this misguided advice with irrevocable negative effects. Organizations like American Diabetes Services are now stating that, “In general, you should try to avoid eating or drinking too many products with artificial sweeteners. Opt for those with natural sugar substitutes instead.” The irony of it all is quite disheartening because all the damage following artificial sweetener consumption was directly caused by organizations like this who once heralded these toxins as safe. The question begging to be asked is, “What’s next?” What new chemical invention today is being widely accepted and recommended, only to be shunned later on at the risk of millions of naïve and unquestioning people?

There are, however, very safe and natural options diabetics and those counting calories can utilize. For example, increasingly gaining popularity and becoming more common in processed foods and non-milk substitutes, stevia is a zero-calorie herbal sweetener that will not increase blood glucose levels and has a delightfully pleasant flavor. Now, ubiquitously available in health and generic grocery stores in processed, powdered forms, the plants themselves are very easy to grow in most climates and are do not require much maintenance.

Sources for this article include:

Wellness Center Spin Classes

Wellness Center Spin Classes
Pat Banks, Director

For those looking to add some variety to their workout, spinning may be the exercise to consider. Created in 1987 by world champion cyclist Johnathan Goldberg, spinning is an aerobic workout that involves pedaling a stationary bike while using different techniques, speeds and incline levels. The benefits of spinning include lung and heart strengthening, as well as abdominal, hamstring, calf, and quadriceps sculpting. The wide variety of challenging and fun spin workouts help minimize the possibility of boredom. Attending an indoor cycling class can help you burn more calories by being motivated and pushed by an instructor. Research conducted on subjects who attend indoor cycling classes show that you can burn 7.2 to 13.6 calories per minute. Throughout a 40-minute class you can burn around 475 calories. Results vary based upon your age, gender, and intensity level. Come join us and Spin for Life.

Publisher News – February 2013

Publisher News
Carla Gibson, Student Publisher

As the student newspaper, we are committed to sharing news and views of students on the Life University campus affecting not only our daily lives but also our futures. While there are more ways to communicate on a college campus today, we feel print publications are still relevant in our media-saturated world. There is a bigger commitment from both the reader and the writer when something is in print versus electronic media, and that commitment builds valuable bonds for the community.

And speaking of keeping our community vital, there are exciting events on the horizon for Life University with the initiative to change our collective “lens” and enhance our campus culture. Dr. Riekeman unveiled this plan and shared a TEDx talk by Shawn Acor about the newest research in the budding field of Positive Psychology during a recent chiropractic assembly. Our new feature, “Five Hundred Words”, is a collage of quotes from the assembly and the TEDx video. Dr. Riekeman’s message and vision are exciting for our campus and I hope everyone can glean some inspirational points from this format.

I am also excited about the word collage as a regular feature of the Vital Source as a way for students who feel pressed for time or don’t feel their essay skills are up to par to share something of value with other students. If you’re interested in contributing to the Vital Source this way, please submit your own word collage in .pdf format or submit your 500 words and we’ll have our top notch editing team put them into a graphic format for you.

This issue also features several articles about Dynamic Essentials (DE). For those who may not know, DE was here in Atlanta even before Life College, and we are grateful to have these submissions as a way to continue to honor and remember our founder, Dr. Sid Williams. We welcome your submissions about any events you are attending, on- or off-campus.

As always, we are here for you. Did you know that students can place FREE classified ads? Consider submitting your ad to sell those books that are warping your bookshelf, sub-lease your apartment, send words of encouragement to a fellow student or find a hot date for Saturday night… it may just work better than Hollerbach’s pickup lines. Just email ads.vs@life.edu and your ad will be placed in the next issue as space allows.