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Enjoy listening to a selection of the music available in Tropical Heat.

In Tropical Heat you can choose between 3 different music stations and enjoy a wide variety of music as you race through the 15 beautiful tropical island courses.





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Turning self-criticism into dynamic positive change

I just read a wonderful post about countering self-criticism by Robert Leahy, Ph.D., who is the Director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. I wanted to share it with you:

Quiet your inner critic

Here's a [big] excerpt:

Millions of us find ourselves battling a self-critic that we can never get away from. It makes you feel sad, hopeless and helpless. It makes you feel stuck in regret. You dwell on all of your past mistakes and think the future will be even worse. You can never get away from your own worst enemy: yourself.

Well, the good news is that you can defeat your self-critic and take back your life. You can stand up and put down the voice that puts you down. Here are five steps for answering the voice within you that has made you feel so bad.

Replace Self-Criticism With Self-Correction

You may think that you are being realistic or that criticizing yourself will help you correct your mistakes and motivate you to do better. But it doesn't make you better; it just makes you want to give up. Replace self-criticism with self-correction. If you think you could do better, don't put yourself down. Look for a solution. Change your behavior. Rather than hit yourself over the head with the tennis racquet, correct your swing and hit the ball over the net.

Look At The Positives, Too

You probably don't need any training to pay attention to the negatives. In fact, you might win a prize for being the most negative person who talks about you. But even if some of the negatives are true, why not consider the positives also? One woman criticized herself for choosing the wrong man and thought, "I must be stupid." But when she looked at all the evidence, she realized that she was quite competent and had accomplished a lot. Besides, how could she know the relationship was wrong until she had all the facts?

Be As Kind To Yourself As You Are To A Stranger

We are often much more harsh with ourselves than we are with a friend, or a total stranger. Recognize this double standard, and when you start criticizing yourself, stop and direct the kindness and compassion that you feel for your best friend toward yourself. Just as you need your friends on your side, you need yourself in your corner. Ask yourself, "If my best friend had this problem, how would I support her?" And then treat yourself as you would treat your best friend.

Let Yourself Be Human

Sometimes we say, "I did something stupid," or, "I was really nasty," and then we are off and running with a litany of negatives, and we sit for hours criticizing ourselves. But we all make mistakes, and we all have flaws and defects. Think of all the people you know, and think about their imperfections, their weaknesses and their mistakes. And you still accept and love them! We are all part of the same flawed human race. We all have some unlovable, stupid and nasty qualities at times. We are all fallen angels. You can recognize your shortcomings without digging a hole and climbing into it. You can rise above your self-critic and say, "Yes, I am human. Deal with it!!"

Focus On Your Goals, Not On Your Self-Critic

No matter what you do, that voice will still be chattering away, telling you that you can't do anything right. Wave to it, say, "Hello, I hear you," and then politely say to your self-critic, "I know that criticizing me is your job, but I have to get on with my life." Tell your self-critic that it is welcome to chatter away, but you are going to the gym to work out, getting your work done and making your relationships better. Just because there is noise in your head telling you what you can't do doesn't mean you can't get on with things. In fact, once you focus on acting in spite of the critic, you will find that it is irrelevant what this voice says. You have made the most fundamental decision: to live your life fully, with all the ups and downs, with the noise faintly disappearing in the background. You have taken control.

Answering your self-critic is the best way to fight for your self-esteem. You need to have yourself on your side. You must be willing to give yourself credit for what you do right and improve what you do wrong.

I am especially drawn to being as kind to yourself as you would be to a stranger. All the practices and perspectives above are incorporated into the Alive experience, as they are very much proven to create positive change in one's life and effectiveness. Would love to hear your comments!

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Insomnia be gone!

biofeedback for insomniaRecently, Everyday Health tackled the widespread problem of insomnia.

Amonng many great recommendations, they include a section on biofeedback to help combat a busy mind.

Relaxation techniques For some people with insomnia, a racing or worried mind is the enemy of sleep. In others, physical tension is to blame. Fortunately, there are ways to release physical tension and relax more effectively. Relaxation techniques that can quiet a racing mind include meditation, breathing exercises, and progressively tensing and relaxing your muscles starting with your feet and working your way up your body — a technique known as progressive muscle relaxation.

In biofeedback, people use equipment that monitors and makes them aware of involuntary body states (such as muscle tension or hand temperature). Immediate feedback helps people see how various thoughts or relaxation maneuvers affect tension, enabling them to learn how to gain voluntary control over the process. Biofeedback is usually done under professional supervision. Other relaxation techniques — such as progressive muscle relaxation or meditation — can be learned in behavior therapy sessions or from books, tapes, or classes.

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Afraid of memory loss as you age?

If you fear or are experiencing memory loss as you get older, you're not alone. Polls by Research America and Parade Magazine indicate that for most aging people, the fear of losing mental capacity is much greater than fears of losing physical abilities.

According to Karen Lawrence writing for Suite 101, experiments show that even though stress and depression can damage memory, treatment encourages regeneration of brain cells responsible for long-term memory function.

Paying attention to stress levels in the body by incorporating soothing and healing practices into one’s lifestyle may prove to be one of the best defenses against a deteriorating brain. While stress is certainly an inevitable part of life, adding simple measures to not only slow cell damage by reducing the production of cortisol, but also by encouraging the regeneration of cells can be another easy step towards keeping an aging brain sharp.

User Guide Download

In fact, consider these effective techniques:

Deep Breathing. Deep breathing is an ancient and simple way to induce the relaxation response.

Guided Imagery and Visualization. Guided imagery is following the guidance of a soothing voice that is suggesting scenes of inner focus to elicit the relaxation response like “see yourself on a beautiful beach.”

Classical Music. The complex textures and harmonies of classical music can help usher one into a meditation state.

These techniques and benefits are just a few of the many that have always been incorporated into Alive, and they help with much more than getting better performance from an aging brain. Beyond the fun computer games and environments, Alive also includes off-screen exercises you can practice easily in the course of your busy life. They can be found in the Alive User Guide, and you don't even need to buy Alive to try them out!

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Coffee helps women cope with stressful meetings but has the opposite effect on men

Caffeine affects the sexes differently

This just in from Research Digest:

If a meeting becomes stressful, does it help, or make things worse, if team members drink lots of coffee? A study by Lindsay St. Claire and colleagues that set out to answer this question has uncovered an unexpected sex difference.

For two men collaborating or negotiating under stressful circumstances, caffeine consumption was bad news, undermining their performance and confidence. By contrast, for pairs of women, drinking caffeine often had a beneficial effect on these same factors.

The researchers can't be sure, but they think the differential effect of caffeine on men and women may have to do with the fact that women tend to respond to stress in a collaborative, mutually protective style (known as 'tend and befriend') whereas men usually exhibit a fight or flight response.

Click through to read the whole thing, and especially the comments which are insightful.

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6 keys to changing almost anything

Tony SchwartzComputer breakAs part of his work, Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project has put together a great short list of steps to making change that lasts. Lasting change is something we promote at Somatic Vision, and is essentially the goal of Alive and our other work. Ton's list perfectly complements our work, so I am including some highlight below:

  1. Be highly precise and specific. Imagine a typical New Year's resolution to "exercise regularly." It's a prescription for failure. You have a vastly higher chance for success if you decide in advance the days and times, and precisely what you're going to do on each of them.
  2. Say instead that you commit to do a cardiovascular work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m., for 30 minutes. If something beyond your control forces you to miss one of those days, you automatically default to doing that workout instead on Saturday at 9 a.m.
  3. Take on one new challenge at a time. Over the years, I've established routines and practices, from weight training and running to doing the most important thing first every morning without interruption for 90 minutes and then taking a spending 90 minutes talking with my wife on Saturday mornings.
  4. In each case, I gave the new practice I was launching my sole focus. Computers can run several programs simultaneously. Human beings operate best when we take on one thing at a time, sequentially.
  5. 3. Not too much, not too little. The most obvious mistake we make when we try to change something in our lives is that we bite off more than we can chew. The only way to truly grow is to challenge your current comfort zone. The trick is finding a middle ground — pushing yourself hard enough that you get some real gain, but not too much that you find yourself unwilling to stay at it.
  6. What we resist persists. Diets fail the vast majority of time because they're typically built around regularly resisting food we enjoy eating. Eventually, we run up against our limited reservoir of self control. Instead, keep food you don't want to eat out of sight, and focus your diet instead on what you are going to eat, at which times, and in what portion sizes. The less you have to think about what to do, the more successful you're likely to be.
  7. Competing commitments. Think about a change you really want to make. Now ask yourself what you're currently doing or not doing to undermine that primary commitment. If you are trying to get more focused on important priorities, for example, your competing commitment might be the desire to be highly responsive and available to those emailing you. For any change effort you launch, it's key to surface your competing commitment and then ask yourself "How can I design this practice so I get the desired benefits but also minimize the costs I fear it will prompt?"
  8. Keep the faith. Change is hard. It is painful. And you will experience failure at times. The average person launches a change effort six separate times before it finally takes.
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Betty Ford Clinic uses biofeedback to help drug rehab be more effective

All the best wishes to Lindsay Lohan on her path to recovery!

Thanks to an article in the Press of Atlanta City, I learned that even the most prominent facilities that help people recover from drug addiction have been including biofeedback in their programs. This comes as no surprise!

From the article:

Scientists define addiction as a chronic illness characterized by relapses during recovery, such as diabetes or hypertension. As with those health conditions, managing addiction requires a sustained lifestyle change, and most rehab centers — regardless of cost and amenities, and some of these are quite deluxe and expensive — aim to bring about that change through counseling, education and community service.

Because addicts share key things in common, they need care, understanding and hope as they work toward recovery — whether it's in a fancy facility or a simple one.

Betty Ford Center, on 20 acres in the desert east of Los Angeles, offers acupuncture and biofeedback as part of their recovery program. Residential patients share double rooms with views of the local mountains, enjoying meals shaped by the staff dietitian and personalized exercise plans designed by the onsite fitness trainer.

It is our hope at Somatic Vision that more substance-abuse programs will incorporate biofeedback, since we have seen first-hand how effective it is at teaching people to:

  • - Find healthier ways to cope with ongoing stress from any source
  • - Change ingrained habits for better wellbeing
  • - Use the mind to control the body
  • - Insert conscious self-management into the tumult of life

And this is why we have created and keep building Alive: People need effective tools to help them improve their life experience and move from troubled points in time to better living. People are stronger than they know, and the right tools can very frequently help them to achieve anything they really want.

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Practical tip for stress management: Drink water

Benefits of drinking water

A friend sent this to me, and because of my own longtime delight in drinking lots of water (for me, the bubbly kind!) I thought I'd share! The following is by Dr. Neill, Registered Psychologist.

After breathing oxygen, drinking water is the second most essential step in maintaining life. So drink lots of water.

It is estimated that 75% of Americans suffer mild chronic dehydration. Many would be drinking enough water were it not for the fact that they also use diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol which cause dehydration.

A host of problems have been associated with dehydration, but how does dehydration relate to stress? The brain is composed of 95% water. A mere 2% drop in body water will begin to shrink your brain and cause fuzzy short-term memory, difficulty focusing and daytime fatigue. The cluster of symptoms is sometimes called the brain fog.

Brain fog makes thinking harder and life more stressful. Therefore, avoiding or minimizing brain fog is a part of any good [tag-tec]stress management[/tag-tec] program.

Of course, chronic dehydration also leads to a host of physical problems such as hypertension, under-functioning kidneys and joint pain. Physical problems tend to create more chronic stress.

The solution is obvious: drink lots of water to keep your brain and the rest of your body working optimally.

Drink extra water under circumstances of increased body-water loss; for example, when you drink alcohol or coffee, exercise, fly or are under stress.

Drinking lots of water is key to good [tag-ice]stress management[/tag-ice]. It is important in avoiding the buildup of chronic stress, and it is a central tool in reducing stress when it arises.

Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill maintains an active practice on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. He focuses on healthy relationships and life after addictions. He is the author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic – A Woman’s Survival Guide


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Inviting silence to quiet stress

inner quiet

Especially during the crazy holiday months, it's important to remember how we can cultivate and use inner quiet to combat the frenetic pace of the season and all its attendant tasks. In a recent piece, Arnie Kozack explains:

Four AM is an auspicious time of day in many contemplative traditions. The world used to be quiet at 4 AM, long before 24-hour stores and the ongoing hum of our electrical and now electronic world. Still, Four AM is relatively quiet as are the other early morning hours. The children are not yet awake, traffic has not started piling up, the press of the work day not yet begun.

Of course, we can be in the relaxing silence of the early morning hours and not have inner silence, and this is why we practice mindfulness — to cultivate that inner quiet. And if you’ve tried mindfulness practice you’ve discovered that this quiet is not always so. We move in an out of quiet and this IS the practice. The goal should not be to make the mind quiet for this only sets us up with expectations. Rather, the practice is retrieve the mind back from noise and allow it to be quiet for a moment or however long it is before it is drawn back out of silence. Again, the practice is to keep coming back.

When we can create this space of returning to silence within ourselves we can take this space anywhere. Now when we are in the noisy world of cars, people shouting into cell phones, construction, and just the hum of daily life we can enjoy an inner quiet.

It’s important to spend some time each day cultivating this sense of inner silence. Ideally, you’ll devote a good 30 to 45 minutes in sitting or walking meditation (see the Guided Meditation links below in this entry). If you can’t devote this time, carve out a few minutes to do a mini-mindfulness practice. Just three minutes can punctuate your day with a soulful silence that disrupts the mounting stress of the typical day.

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What happens when you imagine the experience of eating food before having any?

thinking about eating chocolate as a diet technique

According to a new study reported by the New York Times, you eat less of a particular food if you spend time before you eat it imagining the act and sensations of eating and tasting the food. Very interesting and delightful way to curb one's tendencies to overindulge in favorite foods!

Call it the Imagine Diet. You wouldn’t have to count calories, track food points or memorize rules. If, say, some alleged friend left a box of chocolate truffles in your home this holiday season, you would neither throw them away nor inhale them all. Instead, you would start eating imaginary chocolates.

You would give yourself a few seconds to imagine tasting and chewing one truffle. (If there’s a picture on the box, you could focus on it.) Then you would imagine eating another, and then another and another...until at last you could open the box of real chocolates without making a total pig of yourself.

So far, the Imagine Diet exists only in my imagination, as does any evidence of its efficacy. But there is some real evidence for the benefits of imaginary eating from experiments at Carnegie Mellon University reported in the current issue of Science. When people imagined themselves eating M & M’s or pieces of cheese, they became less likely to gorge themselves on the real thing.

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