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Spend some time exploring social media from the perspective of self-compassion. Choose to follow accounts that are inspirational and affirming. If you find yourself being pulled down by negative thoughts and feelings while scrolling through social media, recognize that this could be an opportunity for you to practice self-compassion versus indulging in hurtful social comparisons. Celebrate personal achievements, both big and small, and count your blessings. Cultivating gratitude and appreciating our achievements helps us avoid the trap of overidentifying with negative emotions or exaggerating difficult circumstances. This oft-repeated quotation attributed to the Dalai Lama derives from his reflections in The Art of Happiness: So, first, if we look at the very pattern of our existence from an early age until our death, we can see the way in which we are fundamentally nurtured by other's affection. It begins at birth. Our very first act after birth is to suck our mother's or someone else's milk. He'd likely find that tart cherry does indeed reduce inflammation biomarkers. You should be very cautious of clickbait titles, sensationalized news headlines, and anything heralding the discovery of a new miracle cure. Instead, it'd be better to become your own experiment (a la Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Body) and approach all potential solutions to a specific issue (like inflammation, poor sleep, or lethargy) with healthy skepticism. Many technologies help fix a single issue at best, and many more merely cover up symptoms without resolving the root of the problem. Efficacy and Elixirs of Life The trouble comes when we try to extrapolate the efficacy that science supports. So if Andy publishes his study showing that tart cherry juice reduces inflammation and the company making the extract, which funded the research, incorporates this into the marketing for their new product, that's fine. But if they use Andy's work to try to justify the claim that tart cherry extract reverses the effects of aging and can make you look ten years younger after just two weeks, they've gone too far. Unfortunately, this is often what happens with wearables, supplements, and other products promoted within the fitness industry and on the mass market. Their makers effectively become the same kind of snake oil salesmen who promised cure-alls to people in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. The focus on inadequacy also takes you away from your present. You miss out on a lot of life.

So how does meditation practice help with addiction or addictive-like tendencies? Research shows more neural density, cortical thickness, and overall activity in the prefrontal cortexes of regular meditators. Their thinking brains more readily come online, leaving them less susceptible to cravings. Meditation allows you to witness your impulses, giving you the opportunity to make choices. Meditation also stimulates endorphin release. Endorphins make you happy and stimulate dopamine release, another excursion down the pleasure pathway. Several research studies scanning the brains of experienced meditators may have identified another mechanism by which meditation tamps cravings. Part of this network, called the posterior cingulate cortex, is activated not necessarily by craving itself but when we get caught up in it. That is an act of affection, of compassion. Without that act, we cannot survive. Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler, The Art of Happiness: A Handarticle for Living (Norwalk, CT: Easton Press, 1998). Breines and Serena Chen, Self-Compassion Increases Self-Improvement Motivation, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 38, no. Christopher K. Germer and Kristin D. Neff, Self-Compassion in Clinical Practice, Journal of Clinical Psychology 69, no. Kristin Neff, Definition of Self-Compassion, Self-Compassion, last modified March 22, 2011, https://self-compassion. Auchincloss, Samberg, and the American Psychoanalytic Association, Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts. Until a class action lawsuit pops up in the news, there's little restriction on such wild claims, as long as the manufacturer is careful to attach the relevant disclaimer (such as These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration) on the label. It's the responsibility of manufacturers to stay within the boundaries of reality with how they market and label products, but it's up to you as the consumer to set your BS filter to high and question what appear to be sensationalist claims.

If a product's promises seem too good to be true, they likely are. If you want to fact-check the maker's claims, skip the scientific journal articles that read like they've been written in Klingon. Rather, try to find a blog post or podcast that features the scientist whose research supposedly proves the efficacy of the product you're curious about. See what they have to say about its usefulness and limitations, and then make up your own mind. Also remember that any supplement--whether it's tart cherry extract or anything else--should be a short-term fix for a specific problem. If you stop taking it after a while and the symptoms--inflammation or poor sleep, for example--return, then you haven't addressed the real issue and need to try changing your lifestyle or training habits. Another way that we misinterpret scientific studies and the resulting media hyperbole is that all too often we fundamentally misunderstand how our bodies function. For example, many people don't realize that the inflammatory response is critical to survival and progress. This same brain region quiets down when we let go--when we step out of the process by exercising curious awareness of what's happening In other words, a regular meditation practice may be teaching the brain not to get sucked into a craving. This is quite different from typical addiction recovery: rather than teaching you to just say no, a regular meditation practice may lessen your desire for the addictive substance or behavior. MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL CONTEXT When I was studying for my master's degree in contemplative psychotherapy at a school with Buddhist roots, I asked about the relationship between the mindfulness techniques we were taught and larger social change. How could mindfulness better the world? I got the same facile response from every teacher: Meditate on it. As if meditating alone was enough to transform society. Meditation was presented as an individual, personal practice, meant not to address a flawed world but to mute my personal reaction to it. Well, that's not Buddhism. Buddhism, from which mindfulness was derived, seeks to address systems of oppression that cause human suffering. American Psychological Association, What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, APA.

Paul Gilbert and Chris Irons, Compassion Focused Therapy, in The Beginner's Guide to Counselling & Psychotherapy, ed. Stephen Palmer (London: Routledge, 2015), 127-39. Sara Santarossa and Sarah J. Woodruff, #SocialMedia: Exploring the Relationship of Social Networking Sites on Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Eating Disorders, Social Media + Society 3, no. Neff, Definition of Self-Compassion. Robert Lemieux, Sean Lajoie, and Nathan E. Trainor, Affinity- Seeking, Social Loneliness, and Social Avoidance among Facearticle Users, Psychological Reports 112, no. It's the only way that your body knows how to adapt to a training stimulus. So if you deploy technology that focuses on reducing or delaying your natural inflammation response, you'll never truly progress. The research on muscle hypertrophy (growth) shows this quite clearly, and we now know that taking supplements that have some anti-inflammatory benefits, like resveratrol, can actually shift our muscle fiber profile. Because we don't fully understand these yet, you should embrace any new technology slowly and not look at it as a magic bullet. One piece of technology that can help you improve your understanding (and fine-tune your BS filter) is the internet. Websites like www. Other sites, like www. In addition, sites like Dr Chris Beardsley and Dr Bret Contreras's www. The pioneer in this area is Alan Aragon, who has been interpreting research for the masses for years on his popular blog, www. We Can't Wait for Tomorrow to Arrive Its teachings are grounded in notions of interdependence, recognizing that we can't separate our personal healing and transformation from that of our larger culture. When all we do is focus on self-awareness, without a simultaneous emphasis on social consciousness and taking action, we are disconnected from our environment.

Mindfulness aimed exclusively at improving the lives of individuals misses the whole point. There's a term for that, cultural appropriation, that refers to a dominant group borrowing a cultural practice from a marginalized group and changing it for its own benefit, ultimately erasing its origins and meaning. Other traditions do honor the culture surrounding Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism, for example, a term credited to Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, draws the connection between personal and collective liberation. During the Vietnam War, Nhat Hanh and his community of monks and nuns had to decide how to react to the bombing of villages surrounding their monastery. Should they stay put and continue to meditate (for the greater good of humankind) or should they go out into the streets to help the wounded? They decided to do both, to practice mindfulness while helping people. BREATHE IN SOCIAL JUSTICE Auchincloss, Samberg, and the American Psychoanalytic Association, Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts. Tolstoy's exact words were, There can be only one permanent revolution--a moral one; How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy, Some Social Remedies: Three Methods of Reform, in Pamphlets (Christchurch, Hants. Finding Your E-Tribe Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. Though the gulf between scientific research and practical application is closing, coaches and athletes can't wait for science to give a definitive answer before we act. Otherwise we'd have to tell everyone, We're not certain what's best, so just sit on your couch until we figure it out.