mind-body connection

From HuffPo: Review of ADDicted, A Sensitive Film About Adderall Abuse
5 star review | anarchy | errors | hard work | healing | maturity | mind-body connection | movies

From HuffPo: Review of ADDicted, A Sensitive Film About Adderall Abuse

This is my review of ADDicted, first posted on the Huffington Post.

In the way that synchronicity happens, I received an email about the film ADDicted one week after my middle daughter and I had discussed “performance enhancing drugs.”

My beautiful daughter, who is now a straight A student at college, was diagnosed with a Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (LDNOS) in 8th grade. Her grades had dropped precipitously; her behavior was execrable. She was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin.

It was a long, twisty, agonizing road before my daughter’s journey led her to double-majoring at a well-regarded university. I’m fascinated with her study choices, which are highly intellectual. I’m proud of the responsible, mature young woman she’s become. But we had some moments of despair and heartache along the way.

I wondered what she thought of the medications she had been prescribed as a teen. She doesn’t take them now.

“So many college kids go around asking for Adderall,” she said. “I’m so glad I developed strategies for studying that don’t depend on performance enhancing drugs.”

She commented on the prevalence of Adderall use at college. “Kids who are not ADD take them to get through exams and papers,” she stated, in a matter-of-fact tone, as if everyone knew about Adderall use. She went on to tell me that part of the problem, for her, had been that she wasn’t interested in the classes she was assigned in high school. “Now I love my courses. I love what I’m studying.”

It made me smile. I’m not sure Latin is everyone’s cup of tea. I’m pretty sure she would have thrown a Latin book at me in 9th grade if I’d tried to get her to take it then. But now she’s acing it. She came to it authentically, through her own choices.

The pitch for the movie arrived in my inbox and I was intrigued because of our recent conversation.
The movie ADDicted, written and directed by Dan Jenski, dramatizes what my daughter had told me: college kids who aren’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD try to score the drug in order to cope with the overwhelming stresses of exams, papers, and extracurricular obligations.

The protagonist is a young man negotiating personal and academic stressors. Drew is likable, relatable, engaging. He’s barely hanging on in the face of an overly full life and the demands of classwork, football, his girlfriend, and his ambitious and widowed mother.

A tough but fair-minded professor fails Drew’s paper on the basis of plagiarism, that most heinous of academic crimes. Drew pleads for a second chance and is granted one. Unfortunately, he entrusts this crucial paper to the girlfriend with whom he recently broke up. She’s desperate to win him back after betraying him. She snags some Adderall from him to get her through his paper and three others, though she is not diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Even with the enhancement, she fails to give him the paper on time. Drew is suspended and barred from playing football.

Drew faces his team and admits to his mistakes. His speech is a fine moment of taking ownership. There’s not a whiff of self-pity in this character, just an acknowledgment that he’d made poor choices and now the whole team must suffer the consequences. It’s a poignant moment that makes Drew even more sympathetic.

Drew’s ex-girlfriend isn’t the only person hitting him up for “Addies.” A teammate on the path to pro football begs some off him, as well. Drew the good and empathic friend, wanting his buddy to succeed, obliges.

Drew’s teammate fares well but the former girlfriend ultimately pays a steep price for using Adderall without a prescription. Note that the girlfriend did not suffer from ADD/ADHD, nor was there a doctor overseeing her use of Adderall. She prescribed herself by way of a stolen bottle.

Some viewers might take from this film a cautionary tale that warns against the use of ADD/ADHD medication altogether. However, that’s not the point of this sensitive, well-constructed story.
The point is that abuse of Adderall is common. It’s also dangerous. People who aren’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and who aren’t under the care of a physician should beware. These drugs are addictive, they have strong side effects, and they are very, very dangerous.

In the way it goes when you’ve raised a bunch of children in a city, I know kids who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, who are under the care of a physician, and who greatly benefit from Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs can truly help people who struggle with ADD/ADHD. Not every person with a learning disorder can do as my daughter has done and develop non-pharmaceutical strategies for succeeding at academic work.

In the end, Drew’s way out of his predicaments mirrored my daughter’s way out. He had to still himself, to turn within and to listen to his heart. Once he did that, he started making good choices.
I sent a draft of this piece to Dan Jenski, asking if he had any comments. He sent back a quote and it’s perspicacious enough that I’ll give it pride of place, punctuating my review of ADDicted at the end.

“I was almost put on Ritalin as a kid and was able to find my true calling without taking pills. If every child received a customized education where he/she got to choose their own path, at a point earlier than college, based on their individual wants and desires, there wouldn’t be an ADD/ADHD epidemic or the need for Adderall. These disorders exist because less and less people are fitting into an archaic, underfunded, one-size-fits-all education system. We need to let children lead the way with their education.”

review of ADDicted movie

From the HuffPo: Review of HEAL Documentary
5 star review | beauty | excellence | gratitude | happiness | healing | Huffington Post | mind-body connection | movies | special

From the HuffPo: Review of HEAL Documentary

This is a recent piece on the HuffPo, a review of the HEAL Documentary by Kelly Noonan Gores

When I was 15 or 16, I developed asthma. My mother took me to a doctor who duly prescribed medication.

I took the medication for a few days. I hated it. The drug made my insides race. Perhaps I was breathing better, but it didn’t matter. The trembling and hyper-adrenalized feeling, the out-of-control, careening-downhill sensations eclipsed the benefits—for me. There was a moment, and I still remember it vividly, when I decided, I will not have asthma.

This was no ordinary frisson of will. It was a moment of translucent intention. I felt no emotions, just a laser line of unadulterated purpose, and I felt it in every angstrom of my being.

The asthma left my body. I stopped taking the medication. That illness has never returned.

This was a visceral, undeniable experience of the power of the mind-body connection. It stayed with me.

Years later, in graduate school, I took up meditating. I experienced esoteric phenomena that is written about in many ancient texts but isn’t part of the usual discourse of our culture. I perused every book I could find on the topic, from the Vedas and The Yoga Sutras to The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and A Course in Miracles. Eventually I picked up books about spiritual healing.

After graduate school I started having babies. I also attended a four year hands-on-healing school and opened a practice as a spiritual or energy healer. The basic premise of this form of healing is that the human being is a psychosomatic unity—mind-body-spirit-psyche are indivisibly one—a concept well articulated in John Pierrakos’ ground-breaking work Core Energetics: Developing the Capacity to Love and Heal (Pierrakos, John C. Core Energetics: Developing the Capacity to Love and Heal. Core Evolution Pub., 2005.)

Affect one part of a human being and you affect the whole; that is, affect the body and you affect the mind, spirit, and psyche; affect the spirit, and you affect the body, mind, and psyche. This is a powerful iteration of the mind-body connection that I experienced so powerfully as a teenager.

During the decade that I practiced energy healing, I saw miracles. I had especially good results with women who wanted to conceive. Fertility in women has many roots in the mind-body connection. A number of women came to my healing table and then went home and got pregnant. But not all of them.

Healing isn’t curing. Not every woman who came into my healing room seeking a resolution to her infertility was able to conceive. There is a great mystery at the heart of everything, and the body isn’t solely a machine in the Newtonian model where if a biochemical lever is depressed, or if a current is introduced, a result is generated.

This is a lengthy introduction to the screening I attended last night of the film Heal. A new documentary from Kelly Noonan Gores, produced by Adam Schomer, this documentary explores the new-old field of the mind-body connection and the impact of that connection on illness. It also surveys a few modalities of healing that people can utilize during their journey of healing from a serious illness.

I spoke with Adam before the screening. He’s a serious, friendly, poised man with a background in meditation. Longtime meditators emit a palpable peacefulness and I felt that as I stood beside him. He said, “The intent of this film is to empower people, that’s the through line.”

Lovely Kelly Noonan Gores told me something similar. “There are options in the treatment of illness, I want people to know that. I want people to have the information.”

The film follows a few people as they engage, poignantly and bravely, with the spiritual and psychological dimensions of healing. One is Kelly herself, the healthy seeker whose fascination with this rich topic is the engine of the story. Eva, however, experiences harsh dermatologic outbreaks. There’s also Liz, struggling with cancer and chemotherapy.

Luminaries in the field speak on the topic of the mind-body connection. Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Joan Borysenko, and Michael Bernard Beckwith touch on the spiritual dimensions of healing and wellness. Dr. Kelly Brogan, a Cornell University trained psychiatrist, discusses her foray into integrative and wholistic medicine as a result of her own illness.

Of particular interest for me was Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief (Lipton, B. H. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc., 2016.). Dr. Lipton works with epigenetics, a science of understanding why some genes are turned on and others are turned off. This field has all the potential to empower people far beyond a simple biological destiny.

Author Anita Moorjani spoke of her miraculous remission from cancer. She was healed within hours of death.

The film is inspiring and informational. Quietly yet dramatically, it presents possibilities and alternatives. People who already know the field will enjoy the fresh presentation, and people new to these concepts will find themselves intrigued and uplifted. Heal approaches the great mystery that I encountered as a healer, and it doesn’t shrink. It blossoms like a rose opening.

Dr. Jane Ely Guest Post: Coming into Balance book
5 star review | authors | book promotion | healing | interview | mind-body connection | spiritual teachings | wholeness

Dr. Jane Ely Guest Post: Coming into Balance book

This is a guest post by healer and author DR. JANE ELY on the publication of her book COMING INTO BALANCE by Parvati Press.

***

In my first book, Remembering the Ancestral Soul: Soul Loss and Recovery, I addressed the global epidemic of soul loss, defining it and interviewing elders who shared wisdom and insights. My new book, Coming into Balance: A Guide for Activating Your True Potential picks up the theme of soul loss bringing tangible skills for soul retrieval through recovering our true self by activating transformational change from the inside out. I wrote this book to provide a tool kit for personal transformation that is accessible for everyone. I am passionate about the subject because I practice the skills in the book everyday and I know they work.

One of the basic premises of Coming into Balance is that we are all responsible to change that which is out of alignment within us. The first act of self-responsibility arrives when we become aware of being uncomfortable or in pain, then move internally toward it exploring the deeper meaning of what is arising. External discomfort always relates to what is being activated internally and is a catalyst that opens opportunity for deep shifts and realignment within. Another principle of the book equally important is that when one person cleans up their debris it affects the whole—the entire collective consciousness of the planet moves forward with more light and clarity.  I introduce the concept of ecopsychology in the form of a universally recognized mandala known as the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel is a spiritual mandala found in many cultures most notably Native American Indian, Tibetan, Mayan, Celtic, Hindu to name only a few. The Wheel of Life reconnects us with the inherent, powerful intuitive sensate experiences of our body, mind, heart and spirit. We learn to activate the ‘insightful healer within’ which leads to self-discovery and a keener sense of awakened consciousness. The ancient wheel of spiritual evolution has four principles: Trust, Truth, Discernment and Faith, each direction of the Medicine Wheel reconnects us with a healing medicine. Using the Medicine Wheel as a template, we learn how to access our empowered higher self, connected to the soul agreements we made in our Life Between Lives. We get free from old “story” that keeps us stuck in the past to go beyond it into a state of awakened freedom. We find and activate the spiritual birthright or blueprint we have come here to live. We do this by practicing what I call ‘skillful means’ which are tools that change how we think, feel and act on a daily basis.

Ecopsychology is the practice of soul healing and of growing the soul to your next level of consciousness. Eco means the environment in which we are living, our internal and external ecology. Psycho means the soul in Greek. Ology means the study of and practice of learning. All together, ecopsychology is the daily practice of conscious soul evolution. Within the book skills, insight questions, exercises and graphics support you as you take the journey of self-awareness and transformation.

–Dr. Jane Ely

jane ely guest post
Interview of Dr. Jane Ely
[sc_embed_player_template1 fileurl=”http://tracilslatton.com/janeelyinterview.mp3″]

Myers-Briggs Personality Test
friends | happiness | healing | holidays | kindness | language | life model | mind-body connection | special

Myers-Briggs Personality Test

My lovely stepdaughter Julia entertained us over a lazy, happy Christmas morning by administering the Myers-Briggs Personality test to all of us.

It didn’t work so well for my 9-and-a-half-year old. Some of the questions didn’t apply. As she put it, “How do I know if I’m soothed by a solitary walk? I’ve never walked anywhere by myself.”

Otherwise, the test was spot on. It turns out I am an INFJ, a diplomat type. I’m not sure I’d call myself a ‘diplomat,’ but the lengthy description otherwise fit me very well indeed.

The career paths for INFJs on the website 16personalities.com was especially pertinent:

INFJs often pursue expressive careers such as writing, elegant communicators that they are, and author many popular blogs, stories and screenplays. Music, photography, design and art are viable options too, and they all can focus on deeper themes of personal growth, morality and spirituality.

INFJ strengths are their creativity and their insight, their ability to be convincing, inspiring, and decisive, and their passion, determination, and altruism.

INFJ weaknesses are their sensitivity and perfectionism, their deep seated need for privacy, their need to have a cause, and the way they can burn out easily.–But I have discovered that when I burn out, I can still be productive by cleaning and organizing something, like my awesomely messy desk or my office with its piles and stacks of books.

My husband tested as an INTJ, and the description was jaw-droppingly accurate. Maybe they interviewed him before defining this type? He certainly has a strategic, imaginative mind and high self confidence, and he is determined, hard-working, decisive, judgmental, analytical, and sometimes arrogant.

I laughed out loud when I saw “Rules, limitations, and traditions are anathema to the INTJ personality type…” and INTJs are “Clueless in romance.” I could only nod and grin when I read,

A paradox to most observers, INTJs are able to live by glaring contradictions that nonetheless make perfect sense – at least from a purely rational perspective. For example, INTJs are simultaneously the most starry-eyed idealists and the bitterest of cynics, a seemingly impossible conflict. 

My stepdaughter says that the test is based on Carl Jung’s original personality types as interpreted by Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, and I took it as a sign that my recent interest in the Carl Jung Institute in Zurich is well-founded.

Briggs Personality Test

Writing Eros in BROKEN
art | blogs | book promotion | Broken | love | marriage | mind-body connection | romantic fiction | sex | special | vicarious thrills | vulnerability | writing

Writing Eros in BROKEN

[This short article originally appeared on If These Books Could Talk Blog. ]

I’ve been married with children for my entire adult life, so, technically, I don’t know anything about sex. (Or, perhaps, birth control….) It’s true, I’ve had two different husbands, but I think it’s fair to say that I fall under the vanilla category.

As smooth, satisfying, and delicious as vanilla is, sometimes, as an author, I need something more tangerine, or more pungent. Luckily I have a good imagination, and a husband who’s willing to experiment with me. In the name of art, of course.

Broken, set in occupied Paris from 1939-1942, is the story of a fallen angel who struggles to save her friends and lovers as the Nazis exert ever more lethal control over the city. The angel Alia falls from heaven because of a personal loss which shocks her out of unity thinking. As soon as she falls, she is beset with sensual desire, with temptation, with the lust that is embedded in flesh. She throws herself into the cornucopia of carnal delights offered by Paris on the eve of the second world war. Paris in 1938-1939 was a feast of entertainment, parties, and revelry, with many intellectuals, writers, and artists openly living a licentious lifestyle.

But I imagined that Alia didn’t start out completely human. Broken is also the story of her journey into her own humanity. So the sex scenes in this novel document her incarnation. They aren’t just gratuitous titillation. Alia begins the novel with a free-wheeling, casual attitude about sex and lovers because she hasn’t yet fully identified with her body. It’s a plaything for her, it’s not herself. So I thought of these early sex scenes in the vein of sex-as-frivolous-fun.

Sex changes as she begins to care for the bullfighter Pedro and the musician-mathematician Josef. Her heart is part of her body, too—her heart goes along with what her body embraces.

Alia also has a horrifying experience of sex used against her. She is manipulated into gratifying a Gestapo agent, and it sickens her. But sex as a power play is part of the human condition, so as an author, I chose to include it.

Finally she comes to be a partner with one man, and she experiences deep intimacy with him. The eroticism they share ripens. It’s based on a heart-connection as well as sensual pleasure. It’s not just about ecstasy anymore, it’s also about love; Alia has become fully human, fully identified with her physical being. She has experienced the full range of sexuality as she has evolved into the woman who would make the ultimate sacrifice for her beloveds.

Eros in BROKEN

Florence, the Medici Chapels, the Uffizi, and Social Media
art | gratitude | healing | hope | life model | love | mind-body connection | sculpting | travel

Florence, the Medici Chapels, the Uffizi, and Social Media

There are too many tourists in Florence. Plenty of them are dreadful.

Today I overheard an American as he stood in front of Leonardo’s sublime Annunciation and wondered aloud in a nasal voice if he would be “done” with the museum by 2:00.

I wanted to spit at him.

Some of us go to the Uffizi and we show up. We bring ourselves to the art, not so we can cross if off some list, but so we can participate in something larger than ourselves: great art, the finest art humankind can create. Beauty, truth, and love.

The Botticelli room does it for me. It grabs my internal organs and squeezes and uplifts me and forces me into transfiguration. I want to kneel and pray in front of the Primavera. Every time I go to the Uffizi, every time I pass through that room with its dazzling paintings, I am a different person than when I entered. I am a better person. I am someone who has been weeping with joy and grace.

Sabin the classical figurative sculptor loves Michelangelo, and Sabin in his own right is a master artist, so he’s earned the right to his opinions. He’s also read every book in English or Italian written since 1750 on the Renaissance, so he’s educated.

But for me, it is Botticelli. Botticelli understood women, he understood beauty, he loved femininity, he conveyed grace like no one else, he got it.

This is a debate Sabin and I have every time we discuss Michelangelo and Sandro Filipepi. It is hard for me to relate to Michelangelo who just didn’t like women. Michelangelo’s female figures wear coconut boobs and the most butch arms this side of construction work. OK, I understand, his architecture of the body is unparalleled. But still.

Then there is Leonardo il Maestro. The golden-ringleted angel in the Verocchio painting. That stunning Annunciation, and was that the only painting naughty, restless, genius Leonardo ever finished? Holy god.

And now we are allowed to take photos in the Italian museums. Why? Free advertising. Joe Schmoe American in front of the David on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram will bring in 20 other Schmoes, and Italy needs their $. Gotta love social media.

Florence