Discovery Finds Link Between the Brain and the Immune System

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In a stunning discovery made by the University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, researchers have overturned decades of textbook teaching by determining that there is a direct correlation between the brain and the immune system. For years scientists have been trying to correlate the relationship between the two, yet they lacked the evidence to show how our thoughts and feelings (or neurochemistry) could affect our overall health. This groundbreaking finding could have significant implications on our understanding of how the brain and immune system interact, as well as enable scientists to target the immune system for the benefit of the brain.

What this correlation hopes to uncover is the understanding of how inflammation begins to create—and is responsible for—certain diseases. For instance, with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and autism, when the immune system is suppressed and inflammation goes up, either diseases are activated in the body or the symptoms of the existing diseases are exacerbated. Why? Because when we’re living by the hormones of stress for extended periods of time, inflammation diminishes and compromises the function our immune system.

“It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system. Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system,” said Jonathan Kipnis, chair of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience.
This exciting new breakthrough in science could explain why we’re seeing so many amazing healings in our workshops. In meditation, as our students move into elevated states of being by embracing feelings of love, joy, gratitude, their future, etc., these feelings drive new modes of thinking. This in turn creates new brain chemistry, brings our brains into coherence, and engenders new synaptic connections—which then influences our bodies in very immediate and direct ways.

As people begin to overcome emotional states that keep them connected to past experiences—as they break out of redundant habits and automatic programs, as well as change certain self-destructive attitudes and beliefs—aspects of their immune system up-regulate genes. This means that their thoughts and feelings are signaling cells within the body’s internal defense system to turn on healthy genes to make better proteins—otherwise known as healthy anti-bodies—as well as a host of other beneficial chemicals to balance and regulate the body. This process in turn reduces inflammation, suppresses tumors, mobilizes enzymes, and so on.

So the next time you sit down to create a better life, a healthier body, or a new experience, just remember that your brain and body have never been separate and the bridge between them is your immune system. You see, your body has always been spying on your brain. So why not use your nervous system—the greatest pharmacist ever—to activate your body’s internal army to create order for you every day? You don’t even need a prescription.

Photos by LuciaJoy

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Kettles Boiling Over – A Time for Growth

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We are living through a summer of pots boiling over.  It may feel as though personal and public spaces have become cauldrons of unrest.  In America, we witness this in overheated political rhetoric, violence on our streets, and turmoil in public institutions from local police departments to the Supreme Court. This season of flaming pots […]

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New Map Of The Brain Identifies 97 Previously Unknown Areas

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by Bahar GholipourIf you ask a neuroscientist to show you a map of the brain, chances are they’ll pick one that’s more than a century old…


In 1909, a German anatomist named Korbinian Brodmann published an intricate map of the brain’s surface. He painstakingly stained brain cells of many kinds to find the anatomical features that set them apart and the rules that governed their layered organization. We now know that neurons that sense a touch on the skin are found in Brodmann area 1; those allowing you to read this article sit in area 17.

Now, scientists have built an updated map of the brain that further refines those areas. Published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the map reveals 97 previously unknown areas of the brain’s surface (the cortex), in addition to 83 areas that were described before.



Unlike Brodmann’s and other brain maps built using just one property (how the cells looked under a microscope, for example), the new atlas is made by combining several types of data that capture multiple properties of these brain areas: their anatomy, their function and the connections between them.

The data was gathered using multiple non-invasive brain imaging measures from 210 people in the NIH Human Connectome Project, and the accuracy of the resulting map was confirmed on another group of 210 people.

The study authors hope that “researchers who have previously used Brodmann’s map to identify brain areas will use this new map from the Human Connectome Project instead,” said Matthew Glasser of Washington University in St. Louis, the study’s lead author.

According to Glasser and his colleagues at six other research centers, combining anatomical data with functional data from fMRI brain scans has allowed for more precise delineation between brain areas.

For example, an area that may look indistinguishable from its neighbor under the microscope or on MRI scans may light up on fMRI scans that measure brain activation during a specific mental task and thus stand out as a distinct region.

“The situation is analogous to astronomy where ground-based telescopes produced relatively blurry images of the sky before the advent of adaptive optics and space telescopes,” Glasser said in a press release.

An example of a map of brain activation used in building the brain atlas. The image shows brain areas that activate (red, yellow) and deactivate (blue, green) as people listened to stories while in the fMRI scanner. 

Researchers hope that a more precise division of the brain can prevent potential confusion in neuroscience studies that may be looking at overly broad areas ― and lead to new discoveries.

The map is a “long-awaited advance,” said B. T. Thomas Yeo and Simon Eickhoff, two neuroscientists not involved in the study, in an accompanying article in Nature. They added that it creates a reference atlas that allows neuroscientists studying various aspects of the brain to work within a common framework.

Source: The Huffington Post

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Creating Your Future – One Step at a Time

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There are four types of meditations that most traditions embrace; seated, standing, walking, and laying down, and in our work we practice all of them.

After our workshops, many of our students continue doing their seated meditations at home. They wake up in the morning and the first thing they do is sit down to meditate. This is an ideal way to start the day. But does this sound familiar? You just had a great meditation, felt like you really connected, you overcame an aspect of yourself, and emotionally embraced a new future. You shifted your energy, you’re feeling powerful, and ready to have a great day.

There’s just one problem—the moment the meditation is over, it’s off to the races and you find yourself rushing to get out of the house, taking the kids to school, answering calls and returning emails, hustling to appointments, and so on. In other words, you fell back into the habitual programs and emotional states of your past.

When this occurs, we wind up leaving the energy we created right where we were sitting, as opposed to carrying it with us throughout the day.


So why a walking meditation?

I wanted to create a meditation that included standing and walking so that people could take their energy with them, first in their meditation, but ultimately embody that energy throughout the day. I wanted our students to be able to reinvent a new self and to be able to walk consciously in a new state of being with their eyes open—to be able in their waking state to shift into an elevated state that maintains and sustains an energetic, biological, neurological, chemical, hormonal, and epigenetic change during their day.

When we can tap into or embody this state with our eyes open, it begins to form new habits and change our personality. Then, after practicing it over and over, we become more mindful of not returning to autopilot where we go unconscious and miss the present moment. This is important because if the body is the mind, the moment we go unconscious and start living on autopilot, we miss the present moment. And when we’re not in the present moment, we’re keeping our dreams, visions, and goals at arm’s length.


How we do it

We start the walking meditation by anchoring ourselves in the present moment and closing our eyes to disconnect from our external environment. We acknowledge the heart center—the center of oneness, wholeness, creativity, and where the soul and heart intersects with the unified field—and bring to the center elevated emotions such as gratitude, joy, inspiration, love, etc.

By resting our attention and creating an elevated emotion within our heart, we begin to change the energy field surrounding our bodies. While our lower centers are all about consuming and turning energy into chemistry, our higher energy centers are about creation, and in this state we become more energy than matter. Now we’re contributing to our field instead of drawing from it. This is important because this is how we begin the creative process.

After a few minutes of centering ourselves in our hearts, we hold a clear intention in our mind’s eye, thus changing into a new state of being and broadcasting a new electromagnetic field. We then ask our students to begin walking with their eyes open and embodying the energy they created, as well as the frequency of whatever they’re creating in their future. If we can begin to take this energy with us during our waking, daily lives, we are activating the same neurological networks and producing the same level of mind as when we meditate with our eyes closed. So now we’re firing and wiring new circuits while connected to our external environment, and our brains are creating order between our inner and outer world.

By walking in the new energy we create, we’re embodying the energy of our meditation, and with every step we take we’re taking one step closer towards our destiny. In this process we’re not only modifying our behavior, we’re laying down new neurological networks and signaling new genes in new ways. If we practice this enough times, then we’ll begin to not only carry that energy with us throughout the day, but embody it. This type of repetition will make us more mindful in waking hours, and before we know it we’ll start behaving, thinking, and feeling differently, thus we are reprogramming a new personality self.

The walking meditation is a great way for us to begin to not only embody our future while living in the present moment, but to start practicing living in that energy—living in that future behavior, living in those future choices, living in those future thoughts, and living in the feelings that create our future.

Eyes open or eyes closed? It’s your choice.


Photo by LuciaJoy

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Reiki Restores Our Authentic Self

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by Colleen Benelli 

First Published – Reiki News Magazine, Summer 2016

Download the Article PDF

DO YOU EVER FEEL as if there were two different people
living inside of you—one who looks to the outside for
direction and approval and another who beckons you to
follow a path that is more self-directed? Who or what can you
rely on to help you discover which one is the real you? Through
my personal experiences and those of my Reiki clients, I have
found that Reiki can help us identify these two very different
parts of ourselves and then help us choose the one that helps us
live our lives with truth and authenticity. This is our authentic
self, the core and the source of who we were born to be.

When we live through our authentic self, we are thriving, feel
fulfilled, inventive, satisfied, content and able to manifest our
daily life in the way that we want. When we live through the fictional
self, the one that has us seeking outward approval of our
actions, we run into many roadblocks. Let’s look at these two
“selves” more closely to see how they differ and why living from
the authentic self can change your life for the better.

Through my Reiki clients, I have observed that when we
sustain spiritual, emotional and mental injuries to our authentic
self, we often express parts of our lives in the fictional self,
living the life the world tells us to live. Some symptoms of this
are misdirection, unhealthy choices and behaviors, dissatisfaction
and depression. In my clients, these states of being affect
their authentic identity, intellect, authority, personality, imagination,
spirituality, inspiration, creativity, passion, talent,
curiosity, interests, desires, choices, discernment and judgments.
Reiki brings back these qualities in my sessions so often
that I have come to realize that my clients are part of a collective
healing on the planet.

This is especially noticeable with Holy Fire II Reiki energy. It
seems to focus on restoring the authentic self in the individual
and in the collective. The authentic self resides in the spirit.
Holy Fire brings in the glory of God and merges the fragments of
our soul in the wholeness of our spirit. The glory merges into our
soul, and we remember the glory within us in our daily life and
perceptions. It is important to understand that Reiki does this
work spontaneously. As practitioners, our job is to simply activate
Reiki and invite it in to heal without directing it toward any particular
healing goal or expectation of observing one.

External and Internal Factors
We can fragment from our authentic self as a result of both
external and internal factors. The external factors can change our
belief system about ourselves so that we no longer know who we
were meant to be. They are sourced in circumstances mostly out of
our control and may include childhood training, ancestral belief,
peer pressure, cultural beliefs, negative spirit attachments, past
lives, well-meaning people, trauma, etc. They create the stories we
tell ourselves about who we are. And out of these stories comes our
fictional self, who begins to make our daily life decisions based on
someone else’s story. Our beliefs shape who we become; if we
believe we are happy and thriving we will experience that story or
if we believe that we are sad and tragic that will be our story.

When we have been injured we may lose touch with our
authentic self. If the injuries are great, it can be exceedingly difficult
to resist living according to someone else’s version of us—
the fear of rejection by those who want to control us can over
power our need for authenticity, choice and freedom.

Internal factors are usually within our control and arise from
the perceptions we have of the circumstances that we face. We
base our choices and actions on these perceptions. But while it
may seem that we have the power to change our reaction, it may
be difficult to identify the authentic choice because we are still
reacting from the mind of the fictional self.

Psychologist Phillip McGraw (Dr. Phil) has a helpful blog on
this subject 1 that defines the authentic self, offering tips and solutions
from an intellectual view. However, as a Reiki practitioner
I often see that while people can intellectually know they need
to change and want to change, the fictional self’s stories are based
in injuries so ingrained that the life skills needed to make that
change seem impossible to achieve.

This is why Reiki is so practical and where it can help. It heals
at the level of the original injury by unifying the fragments of our
soul with our spirit and with God. Now our internal self is based
in the authentic part of us and has real influence over our external
reality, making it easier to utilize the life skills outlined by
professionals like Dr. Phil.

Once Reiki has released the trapped fictional self and restored
the qualities of our authentic self to our soul it also helps us align
our authentic self and inner guidance with divine guidance, giving
us a greater ability to follow our true path. Amazingly, it can
often do this automatically.

Identity: The most common injury I see to the authentic self is the
alteration of our authentic identity through life experiences, choices
and the expectations of others. Reiki often shows that the original
cause of the injury occurs around 14–16 years of age. This is
the time when we decide who we are as individuals separate from
our parents. We question authority and adopt self-determination.
Parents, peers, teachers and the present day culture can influence
us at this impressionable age when we want to fit in, so we
become who the world expects us to be, rather than who we are.
However, as we get older, we may suffer from discontent and try
to find our true identity.

Authority: Our authentic authority is often lost in very early
childhood, particularly with extremely domineering parents,
teachers or religions that have authority over a child and it can
also be influenced by unhealthy experiences from past lives and
ancestral history. When the authentic authority is lost, people
may look for it outside of themselves, not knowing how to access
or speak their own truth.

Intellect: Our authentic intellect is more than just intelligence,
although that is an important part of our intellect. It includes our
beliefs, talents, curiosities, interests, desires, etc. The loss of
authentic intellect affects our belief about our possibilities and
how we express ourselves through our lifestyle.

Imagination: This is where I first observed the injury to the
authentic self in my clients. Over and again, Reiki healed my
client’s authentic imagination. I questioned this with Reiki and
was shown that almost everyone in our culture has challenges
with their imagination. Its value has been deminished and
assigned to that “place where we make things up.” But it is much
more than that. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more
important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now
know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire
world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”2

Sovereignty: Authentic sovereignty is the “moral or natural right of
a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of
his own body and life.”3 Not only do we have the legal right on earth
to our body, we have the legal right of creation to be the only one in
control of our body and our soul. Our sovereignty can be violated in
our body and our soul, sometimes from life trauma and abuse and
sometimes because of possession by negative spirits. Restoring the
spiritual right of sovereignty to a person has one of the most profound
healing effects of all. It can be life changing in dramatic ways.

Spirituality: Like our authentic authority, our authentic spirituality
is commonly diminished when a person is dominated or influenced
by a particular belief system based on an outside authority such as
well-meaning parents, teachers, cultures and religions. Reiki teaches
us to access God directly and have our own personal relationship
with the divine by giving us access to our inner guidance and aligning
it with divine guidance to find our authentic spirituality.

Self-Worth: Our authentic self-worth is affected by the loss of
any of the authentic qualities of our spirit. It is one of the most
damaging of all of the losses to our authentic self. In my Reiki sessions,
God always says, “How could you be anything less than
worthy? You are so beautiful.” As the glory of God fills the spirit
and the spirit remembers its glory, the client sees herself through
this light inside and outside and her self-worth becomes divineworth.
I watch as people are restored to trust in life and a new and
greater sense of belonging on the earth.

Restoring the authentic self can be profound and life changing.
At first, it can even be a little disorienting. It affects a person’s
daily life and choices, offering new paths and changes. I
watch how Reiki provides this healing gently and at the pace a
person is able to thrive in.

Reiki heals and empowers the authentic self. I have seen this
deep level of healing in my Reiki work since receiving Holy Fire.
However, it is an aspect of all of Reiki to return us to our true self.
Reiki is a tool that helps us actualize this. It gives us assistance
from God to heal the fictional self-created by the external and
internal influences of life. Reiki empowers us to live as our
authentic self, our spirit, who still remembers the beautiful light
of God within us, and to act from this inner truth.

1 Defining Your Authentic Self,


3 G. A. Cohen,

© Reiki News Magazine • Summer 2016 •
Restoring the Qualities of the Authentic Self

Colleen is the founder of Reiki Lifestyle and a Senior Licensed Reiki Master Teacher for the ICRT. She teaches all levels of Usui/Holy Fire Reiki including Holy Fire Karuna Reiki®. She is also an Associate Teacher for the LightSong School of Shamanic Studies. Colleen lives in Portland, Oregon. Join her on ReikiChat™, a free, monthly Q & A teleconference call, by going to For all other information, Colleen can be reached by email at, through her website at or by phone at  (503) 912-0664.

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A Mindful Shift of Focus

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By Leo Babauta

Throughout the day, we get frustrated, irritated, angry.

We are frustrated in traffic, when a loved one doesn’t behave the way we like, when someone tells us we’re wrong, when technology doesn’t work the way we want, when dinner is ruined, among many other daily stresses.

These frustrations can build up into unhappiness, relationship problems, work problems, built up stress, blowing your top at someone when you lose your cool. Not always helpful stuff!

I’m going to suggest a mindful shift in focus to deal with frustrations.

It’s a mindfulness practice, and I highly recommend it. We’ll start by talking about where frustration comes from, then how to mindfully shift.

Mindfulness of Frustration

The next time you experience frustration, just notice it. Just be mindful that you’re unhappy with something or someone, that you’re feeling frustration in your body somehow.

Pay attention to your breathing, to tightness in your chest or shoulders, to how it feels in your body. Stay with the feeling for just a couple moments, if you have the courage to do so. Normally, we run like hell from paying attention to this feeling, and try to resolve it by fixing the situation, making people behave differently, distracting ourselves, etc. But stay with it if you can.

Now notice what it is in this moment that you wish were different. What is missing from this moment that is frustrating you? Frustration stems from what you don’t have.

What do I mean by this? There’s something you don’t have right now, that you wish you had, and that lack of what you want is frustrating you. A few examples:

  • My child isn’t behaving the way I want her to … what I don’t have is “ideal” behavior from her. (Actually, it’s my ideal, not hers.)
  • My computer keeps crashing, and I’m frustrated … what I don’t have is a computer that behaves ideally.
  • People are saying things online that irritate me … what I don’t have is a bunch of people who agree with me or behave in the way I want.
  • Traffic backed up and stressing me out … what I don’t have is a stress-free, peaceful drive home.
  • My spouse criticized me … what I don’t have is someone who thinks I’m an awesome husband right now, or their praise.

Those are just examples, but in all cases, there’s something that’s missing that I want. Usually it’s an ideal.

To start with, just be mindful that you’re frustrated, try to experience the feeling in your body, and then notice what it is you’re missing that’s frustrating you.

Mindfulness of Your Story

When we’re missing something we want, and we’re frustrated, irritated, angry … we often spin the story around in our heads for awhile. “It’s so irritating when he acts this way,” or “Why can’t she just be more …”

We get caught up in this story, stuck on it, attached to it. We wish things were different, wish other people would behave differently, wish people could see that we’re right.

It’s easy to get caught up. It’s not so easy to notice that we’re caught up, when it happens. But if you can notice it, just notice that you’re telling yourself a story about this situation. It’s a story about how you wish things were different, how things aren’t how you want them to be.

Sit and watch yourself get caught up in this story. Sit and stay with the feelings it produces.

Then see if you can notice that the story isn’t so solid. It’s not so real. It’s more of a dream that you’re in. Can things lighten up if you notice the dreamlike nature of this story?

Mindfulness of What Is Already Here

If we’re focusing on what we don’t have, and it’s frustrating us … then the opposite just might help us.

The antidote to frustration is appreciating what’s already here, in this moment.

That might not seem true when frustration arises, because the truth is, we just want things to be our way. We just want other people to act the way we think they should act, or want life to go the way we want it to go.

Unfortunately, that is usually not going to be the case. Sometimes we can force people to act the way we want, if we have power over them, but that will create a bad relationship with them, and in the end, neither person will be happy.

What I’ve found to work is focusing on what I can appreciate about this moment. Let’s take the examples from above:

  • I’m frustrated by my child’s behavior … I can breathe, and appreciate things about this moment: my child is actually a wonderful person, who might not behave perfectly all the time (who does?), who is alive! And in my life! And I love her deeply.
  • My computer keeps crashing … I can breathe, and appreciate the fact that I have a computer at all, that all my needs are met, that I have people in my life who love me. I can appreciate the break from the computer and stretch, notice the awesome things around me.
  • People say irritating things online … I can breathe, and appreciate: I get to read amazing things online! I’m alive! People are diverse and interesting and messy, and I love humanity for that precious fact.
  • Traffic is backed up … I can breathe, and appreciate the fact that I can listen to some beautiful music in the car, or that I have some transition time between work and home when I can reflect on life, or that I have a home to come back to, or that I’m driving past some beautiful scenery.
  • My spouse criticized me … I can breathe, and appreciate: she’s a great spouse, and a person with a different way of doing things, and I’m happy to have her in my life. And maybe she’s frustrated herself, and could use a hug.

This doesn’t mean we should only “think positive thoughts” … quite the contrary, noticing our negative thoughts and staying present with them is important. We can’t avoid the frustration, but we can be mindful of it, and this mindful shift to appreciation of what is can be helpful.

Frustration in the Midst of Injustice

I should note that none of this means we should accept abuse or injustice as “OK.” I know that there are incredibly frustrating things about the world today, and that violence, protests, anger, and strife are all around us.

This mindful shift I’m suggesting isn’t a solution to all of that. It isn’t a suggestion that you should just be happy with your lot, or accept the world as it is without wanting change.

No, I think if there is abuse or injustice, we should compassionately try to correct these tragedies. But learning to deal with our frustrations, in the midst of all this, can actually help the situation. If we can’t deal with our frustrations, then we’re increasingly likely to act in anger and violence, and that isn’t useful.

There’s another way: recognize the injustice, be mindful of your frustrations, appreciate life in the present moment to calm your frustrations … then compassionately engage with everyone else to work on righting the injustice. Have a love-driven dialogue with everyone else, rather than fear-based or anger-driven interactions. Stand up to abuse, but that doesn’t mean throw a brick in anger.

I don’t have the answers, and my heart goes out to all who are grieving, afraid, hurt, feeling helpless, fed up, frustrated or angry. My only hope is that in the middle of all this sorrow, we can appreciate the gift of life that we’ve been given, and find love for our fellow human beings despite all their flaws and messiness.

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