The Global Stress Summit, Day 1
Ian Roberston, PhD
Professor Ian Robertson Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He has a long list of accomplishments but one that stands out to me is: “He is currently a lead PI on the Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) programme and also on the TCIN-GlaxoSmithKlein Neurodegeneration Programme.”<—does that mean into pharmaceuticals? That wasn’t really the vibe I got from his talk, so I was surprised to read that on his college bio.
The stated objectives for this talk:
My takeaways were:
At around 7 minutes in he says something extremely important about the fairly recently discovered paradigm shift that is ‘Neuroplasticity‘ and how this has completely changed the way people understand the brain and psychology i.e. basically our brain can heal and new neural pathways can grow and it is alive! That may seem like an obvious point, but all of medical science sort of believed once x happens y can never happen and it’s a downhill spiral…not so!
Take a Pill vs Take Control
Again at 12.20-ish he says something really amazing that has wider implications to the whole of health than the conversation here, but he is talking about the medical model of medicating the mind and having you take a pill rather than taking action – like they believe things can be fixed and everything is outside of your control…
Herbert Benson, MD
Herbert Benson was originally a cardiologist out of Harvard who was impressed in his research by the link between blood pressure and stress, in particular how it could be reduced with things like meditation, and therefore he thought about what was going on in meditation and extended those principles out to other techniques. He went on to found the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at MGH.
The stated objectives for this talk:
My takeaways were:
How to Evoke the Relaxation Response
- Just before the 11-ish minute mark: Benson had people think regular thoughts for 20 minutes, then meditate for 20 minutes, then think regular thoughts 20 minutes and noticed a huge connection between thoughts, energy and metabolism.
- He also saw that evoking the relaxation response had profound effects on genes, energy, blood sugar regulation, methylation and epigenetics.
- Even though he first studied this in Transcendental Meditation he reduced the underlying principles behind TM down to two steps, and found those two steps to be present since ancient times in all the major religions.
- These two steps basically amount to doing any ‘mindless’ activity repetitively, so for some people it is TM, for others it is the rosary, for others it is Tai Chi, or jogging, or gardening, etc, etc.
- He said any technique will work, whatever is comfortable for the person and it will work immediately – but to anchor it you must repeat it for 10-20 minutes every day. The summit host also brought up ‘progressive muscle relaxation’ as a technique. They even said an athlete in the zone is there. And my red flags started popping up…
Potential Problem: Staying Hypnotized and Suggestible = ‘Loser Syndrome’?
The problem I see, having trained as a Master Hypnotist, is Dr. John Kappas identified something he termed ‘loser syndrome’, especially in people who do TM, where people engage in activities like these but don’t come out of them and it is the job of the Hypnotherapist to bring them out! So make sure you ‘count yourself out’ of these types of things, unless it is just before sleep as awakening is a natural way to come out of hypnosis – just make sure you don’t stay in a trance state.
Sports Hypnosis Counts People Out of ‘The Zone’ After the Game!
Even sports athletes who train with hypnotists are trained how to go into trance / the zone, but just as importantly they are trained to come out. There is an example a teacher of mine gave where an athlete client after the event did not count himself out and a couple of days later was still ‘high’ in the same focused zone as during his game, fully of anxiety with that as it didn’t fit his normal daily routine to be in ‘the zone’. He was told how to bring himself out quite easily, but it is a case of not omitting that step [more on hypnosis later].
Why are Hypnotic Inductions Used as Common ‘Stress Reduction’ Techniques
I also see that some of the techniques mentioned eg the progressive muscle relaxation is a standard hypnotic induction! Unless you do this directly before going to sleep, then you remain hypnotized and highly suggestible – that is why some people develop what Kappas called ‘Loser Syndrome’ and often don’t maximize their potential in life – they become too suggestible and dependent on their environment to succeed, if that environment is excellent then fine, but our environments usually are not ideal…
Ignoring the Reality of Hypnosis
Again the indiscriminate use of hypnotic inductions in ‘stress relief’ is another example of ‘science’ ignoring the experience of the ages and the premier accredited Hypnosis training school in the US, and the American Hypnosis Association, www.hypnosis.edu founded by one of the legends of hypnosis, Dr. John Kappas.
I put ‘science’ in inverted commas because true science is not supposed to ignore data or erase a giant part of history to rewrite itself as sole and center…as with herbalism today too, btw, Functional Medicine and many of the new neutraceutical companies [companies where big pharma switches to producing supplements too, to catch that profit train] just comes along and plagarizes and plunders the age old herbal solutions to health as if it originated in the latest double placebo randomized clinical trial or came down with the last shower of rain! But that’s a whole other axe to grind… 🙂
Any Technique Can Be Used to Evoke the Relaxation Response…
This point was underplayed a bit in the talk when the speaker emphasized ‘the spiritual’ and chanting OM or the Rosary or other religious things, along with hypnotic inductions, though they did also mention things the person found comfortable like jogging or gardening, that was almost missed, placed at the end.
What David Wolfe Uses to Invoke the Relaxation Response
He tends his garden! He loves being among his vanilla plants, he can just switch off his mind and go on autopilot. Now that shows you just how simple this whole process is! Let’s not over complicate it or over spiritualize it! For some people it will actually be doing the ironing, though for other people ironing is a stressful event 😀
Bruce McEwen is a neuroendocrinologist, and to give a tiny glimpse into this mega-star’s career: Dr. Bruce S. McEwen is Head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at Rockefeller University. The McEwen lab has been at the forefront of research on the impact of stress hormones on the brain
Stated objectives for this talk:
My Takeaways were:
- This talk had so much in it that I actually want to listen to it again and give it my full attention [confession, I was doing the dishes during this] but no wonder this guy is quoted so much!
- As regards ‘Allostatic load’, I’ve actually heard Jeffrey Moss lecture on this in much more useful detail and wider application at FMU.
- McEwen said something about cortisol that people in the comments tended to run with – the use of it in PTSD type conditions – well whatever the good uses of cortisol may or may not be, we have to be careful not to just run with something like that without getting expert advice, whether it is a good hack or not, it still needs the bigger picture here..
Functional Neurology vs Neuroendocrinology
And personally I’d like to compare the new work in Functional Neurology with this Neuroendocrinology, and explore all the mechanisms and options, not to mention the phenomenal results old timers like Dr. Christopher were getting with specific herbal nutrition <—remember, the top researchers and scientists don’t actually explore all the data when it comes to herbs etc., they act like ‘alternatives’ don’t even exist and that they never did – but then with GSK already in the frame for one of the speakers today, I guess they would be mutually incompatible – but that would not be science at the point they start ignoring data that doesn’t suit…<—that’s a whole other blog, back to enjoying McEwen.
Sapolsky is a student of McEwen’s, and has written a famous book called Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
Stated Objectives for this talk:
I haven’t yet listened to this talk [will catch it at encore day] and have not read the book yet, but I have heard so many functional medicine speakers at the summits quote it – they start to whine about the stresses of the modern age being way more than our grandparents or ancestors HOWEVER it was much worse for them – they did not have social welfare, mine lived in poverty, in stress and strife and hunger, you name it – my dad even described how uncomfortable it was to have to go outside to the field across the way to go to the toilet. And the previous generations were extremely openly violent, people carried weapons, someone stronger than you fought you for your stuff – you needed to be in a protected community with an army – it was real pecking order stuff! So I wonder if he just is being misquoted all the time…
Stated objectives for this talk:
Remember, this is just a taste of the summit, for the full summit and all the speakers, you can buy the talks and transcripts for The Global Stress Summit and see everything they had to say for yourself. And maybe let me know YOUR opinion 🙂
Day 4 Review and Commentary <—my review coming soon! Assaraf and Waldman were excellent! You can get the full transcript of John Assaraf’s talk by merely signing up to the summit.
Day 5 Review and Commentary<—my coming soon! Arielle Ford’s talk was hilarious [decide for yourself whether relationships are worth the effort!]
Day 6 Review and Commentary<—Colonel Bart Billings is one to watch.
Day 7 Review and Commentary<—Have you tried Heart Math, what do you think?