Good Morning America Uncovers the Truth About Getting Your Prescription Online

Obtaining your prescription online has been a hot topic as of recently. Good Morning America tested the online 'vision test' and concluded that it can pose a threat to the patient's health.

Some of the reasons why you should not use the online vision test are:

  • Receiving the wrong RX
  • Pathology being missed
  • "It would be analogous to taking a picture of your teeth and sending it to someone, and having a filling sent to you," Dr. Thau told "GMA."

 

Read the entire article below:

Convenience at the expense of proper, quality care puts Americans' eye health at risk, and a national morning show popular with millions illustrated as much in its own investigative report.

"Good Morning America" delved into the online "vision test" known as Opternative with a "GMA" Investigates segment, aired Aug. 5, that took the company's claims to task and confirmed AOA's concerns that such an inadequate service can pose a threat to patient health.

"There's potential for missing things that can be very significant to your eye health and your systemic health."

What the "GMA" segment uncovered completely validates patient safety alarms, and drew a strong response from viewers who saw optometry on the side of the public, fighting for the highest quality eye care.

In rebuttal to Opternative's claims, AOA President Andrea P. Thau, O.D., succinctly summed up optometry's concerns, noting that the unproven technology does not completely cover any one of the 12 components of a multi-faceted comprehensive eye examination necessary to ensure patients' complete eye and vision health. The one aspect that Opternative does purport to provide—a refractive measurement—is based ontenuous-at-best data to back up its accuracy.

"It would be analogous to taking a picture of your teeth and sending it to someone, and having a filling sent to you," Dr. Thau told "GMA."

"This is really foolhardy and really dangerous. It is taking a risk because you're doing one small fraction of the whole eye exam with a potential for missing things that can be very significant to your eye health and your systemic health."

Opternative misses significant disease marker

And, in fact, Opternative did miss the important early signs of a potentially serious eye condition. In an independent evaluation led by "GMA" Investigates, eight volunteers used the refraction-only test and were then examined by an unaffiliated ophthalmologist. One volunteer's risk factor for glaucoma—elevated intraocular pressure—was completely missed by Opternative, prompting the participating ophthalmologist to acknowledge the public health threat caused by delaying timely care: "Anybody who has a risk factor for disease should be screened out and probably not given a prescription online," she noted. 

Furthermore, three more participants of the "GMA" Investigates trial were issued prescriptions "slightly different" from those determined by the ophthalmologist.

However, this is not the first time that an investigative media report independently expressed doubts about Opternative's test. Earlier in May, the producer of a Michigan news outlet compared the online test's results to that of an eye exam provided by a local eye doctor. The ABC news affiliate concluded:

  • "[The producer's] visit to the eye doctor takes about the same amount of time as her online eye exam but yields vastly different results.
  • 'We determined that she was a little bit farsighted and had a little bit of astigmatism, and I believe her online analysis suggested she might have been a little nearsighted—the opposite of what our outcome was,' [the eye doctor] said.
  • And [the eye doctor] doesn't think [the producer] needs glasses.
  • Which once again is different from the online exam which 24 hours later sent [the producer] a prescription for nearsightedness ... Had [the producer] filled her online prescription, it may have done her more harm than good—the doctor said the eyes have to work harder." -WZZM 13

 

Perhaps more troubling, the news segment points out that this comparative test took place after Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs issued Opternative a cease and desist order on Feb. 12, 2016, to immediately halt actions violating the state's Eye Care Consumer Protection Law. According to the law, Opternative's "prescriptions" do not constitute a legal prescription for contacts and/or eyeglasses because the service's rudimentary refractive data provides no ocular health and visual assessment, and was not conducted by a Michigan-licensed doctor.

AOA, affiliates continue advocacy

These examples clearly underscore why AOA has taken such a resolute stance against online "vision tests" and their marketing tactics that appeal to the public's sense of convenience while sweeping very real health concerns under the rug. Despite Opternative's rhetoric, AOA contends that it's not only the inferior accuracy that's a problem, but also the misleading and ambiguous marketing that critically delays patients from accessing timely care for asymptomatic, sight-threatening diseases.

That's why AOA filed an expansive, formal complaint to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Center for Devices and Radiological Health on April 4, citing Opternative's continued marketing to consumers without federal approval—and without the FDA's formal review of the product's claims—under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Although Opternative attempts to mislead consumers, saying it is "FDA–registered," the AOA maintains this device has not cleared premarket approval and is being marketed unlawfully. The Chicago Tribune recently cited the FDA as commenting "anyone can self-list as registered."

With members of Congress working in their districts throughout August, AOA and state associations have launched a summertime full-court press aimed at updating key U.S. Senators and House members about the information the FDA has about Opternative.

On Aug.3, AOA Trustee and Federal Keyperson, Jim DeVleming, O.D., briefed his congressional representative, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chair of the House Republican Conference, about AOA's concerns and the complaint itself. For added impact, Dr. DeVleming was joined by Steven A. Loomis, O.D., AOA immediate past president, who oversaw the complaint's drafting and formally submitted it to FDA officials.

"Leaders of the Optometric Physicians of Washington have provided me with a copy of their complaint to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding Opternative's new testing device," said Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. "They have outlined why they see the potential for the public to be misled and why they've asked for enforcement action. While we must continue to support technological innovations in the medical field, the health and safety of patients should be our number one priority. I believe it is of the utmost importance to fully understand how the FDA intends to respond, and what actions they may take in the future to ensure compliance with the law." 

Also, Peter Theo, Wisconsin Optometric Association executive director, whose leaders have been actively educating the public about inaccurate claims about online vision tests, participated in a roundtable discussion with the Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Eleven states (member login required) have enacted critical patient protection laws that reinforce the benefits of in-person, comprehensive eye exams, including GeorgiaIndianaNebraska and South Carolina, among others.

Click here to watch the full "GMA" Investigates segment.

 

 

Warren Buffett: Do This Every Morning to Be Successful

We are so happy to be a Graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10K small business program!!! 

Every entrepreneur wants to know how to succeed in business. Fortunately, luminaries like Warren BuffettMichael Bloomberg, and Jack Dorsey are here to help.

Speaking at the 20th graduation of  program at LaGuardia Community College on Tuesday, the billionaire businessmen discussed a variety of issues, including regulation, talent acquisition, and cybersecurity. But perhaps the most useful bit of advice--particularly among the program's 33 new entrepreneurial graduates--had to do with where they think the business magic happens.  

For his part, Warren Buffett, the 85-year-old Berkshire Hathaway CEO, doesn't think you should just satisfy your customers; he wants you to delight them.

"Tomorrow morning, when you look in the mirror, write--or just put it in lipstick or whatever you want--'delight my customer,' not satisfy my customer," said Buffett.

"I don't remember how much I paid for my last car, but I remember the experience," Buffett continued, explaining that any business that delights customers can count them as an unpaid sales force. They'll be back to buy your product, and they'll talk about it with other people, he says.

The billionaire investor also pointed to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the "classic example" of someone who knows how to delight his customers. "Here's a guy who 20 years ago had a very, very small business," Buffett said. "But he set out every day to delight his customer by fast delivery, by lower prices, whatever it took. And, today, he is still thinking about how to delight his customer. He never quits."

Michael Bloomberg, the founder and CEO of the eponymous financial software company, agreed with Buffett: "Customers are everything." But, he added, employees are a company's greatest asset.

"You should be sitting in the middle of your employees; get rid of any offices," the former New York City mayor advised. "Rip down the walls; make an open plan ... I've done it in the company and it's gone from one person to 20,000, and I think that's one of the big reasons."

With that in mind, you need to constantly encourage your team, suggests Jack Dorsey, who founded Twitter and Square. "Attracting great people means you have to keep an understanding of what your purpose is," Dorsey says.

You also need to be able to clearly articulate your company's purpose, and identify alignments and misalignments. To suss this out, the tech founder will often ask job candidates one question: Why are you here? "If I see passion for our purpose, I know that any skill can be taught," added Dorsey.

 

See article here: http://www.inc.com/helena-ball/warren-buffett-secret-to-success-entrepreneurs-startups.html

Through The Eyes of a Visionary Wonder Woman: A Look At Veronica Ruelas’ Mission of Ambition

Whenever I think of what a real-life Wonder Woman embodies, concepts like bravery, determination, purpose, strength, focus, fearlessness, resilience, selflessness, and adaptation each come to mind. But rarely does any single person exhibit each of these characteristics. Despite those odds, I’m about to introduce you to one who does!

In 2007, Vero Ruelas’ life steered itself in an exciting and unpredictable direction right in front of her own eyes. It was the year she had lost her job and her relationship. It was also the year she embraced her restless soul, in classic Eat, Pray, Love style. Her autumn immersion in that modern memoir of transcendence left her at a personal crossroads, and eventually led her all the way to Machu Picchu by ‘08. Her aim was to take her talent as an optometrist to those who were most desperately in need of eye care, and to tour this magical part of the world with the inspiration of her newly-embraced practice of meditation. This exploration found Vero as part of an eye care missionary team….the catalyst to the founding of her own mission.

Setting Up Shop

When Vero returned to NYC from Machu Picchu, she resumed her yoga and meditation research, with the intention to combine her vocation with her new passion. She just knew her foray into meditation wasn’t going to be a one-off, and longed to learn more. She discovered the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, which has a NYC center, a Catskills location, and many Ashram’s in India. Attending a meditation weekend in the Catskills inspired her to buy a tent and invest in a 6-week intensive training in the Bahamas. This proved a brief stint since, upon the realization that she had the ability to help people “see” (a fateful play on words, indeed), it became clear that the ideal place to offer her services was India. The Himalayan village of Uttarkashi, an ample journey from the capital of Delhi, is the destination that called to her. It is here that her passion for yoga could be fulfilled, along with her mission towards service, for this was home to a Sivananda Ashram and an existing medical care facility where she would be able to set up shop.

See more here.

Inspiration

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be. - Patanjali - the Father of Yoga.

 

Tears of...

Such a cool thing we just learned!  Why the tears we shed has an impact on how they look.

Sept 9th Live Workshop: 3 Easy Steps Towards a Stress-Free Life

Here’s a rhetorical question: Are you stressed out? “Overwhelmed” seems to be the perpetual state of being for most professionals, and with that comes stress and exhaustion. And contrary to the popular notion, this predicament is NOT entirely the result of a flood of activities, assignments and appointments. It’s partly “in our heads”, as our brains are perpetually bombarded with more information than they can absorb.

The antidote? Consider meditation! We’re not talking about the pseudo-scientific “magic fix” dispensed by new-agey gurus. We’re referring to a real, tangible approach to staying in the present, clearing space in our brains, and accomplishing more work in less time.

Join our DRIVEN Professionals workshop on September 9th, presented by certified yoga and meditation practitioner Veronica Ruelas, and learn how mediation benefits us mentally, physically, emotionally. She’ll speak about different types of meditation, and teach you the basics of how to meditate. We’ll end the session with a group meditation. You’ll come away seeing time and energy management as a mental “cocktail” to sip slowly throughout your business day, keeping you focused.

Venue: McGladrey
1185 Avenue of the Americas
NYC, NY 10036 United States

Date: September 9

Time: 6:00 pm - 8:45 pm

Cost:$75

Click her to book.

Health Tips: Protecting a Precious Sense

 "The eyes are the window to the soul" ― Old English Proverb

 

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It has been estimated that up to 80% of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision.  Additionally, most activities, whether work-related or for pleasure, are enhanced by visual input.   Since vision is such a precious sense, problems affecting the eyes are some of the most worrisome that people experience.  Some eye conditions, such as presbyopia, the aging-related condition associated with a diminished ability to read fine print or see close objects,  will affect almost all of us. Others can be avoided with attention to the eye-protective measures below: 

1. Undergo a formal eye examination.  The best way to evaluate the eyes is with a comprehensive eye exam.  In their earlier stages, some eye conditions including glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease can only be detected with a dilated eye exam.  Also, many people do not realize how much they can benefit from vision correction until the improvement is demonstrated during an examination. 

2.   Eat for eye health.  Research has shown that foods containing certain nutrients can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in this country.  These nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon), lutein (spinach, kale, broccoli), vitamin C (citrus fruits) and vitamin E (nuts, vegetable oils). 

3. Keep your weight in a healthy range.  Obesity is the primary risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes and a diabetes-related eye condition called diabetic retinopathy.  This is the leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults.  Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important measures in preventing the development of Type 2 diabetes. 

4. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports.  Sports participation causes thousands of eye injuries each year.  Some activities, including hockey, baseball, lacrosse, and racquet sports are at particular high risk for causing eye injuries. Most of these injuries can be prevented with appropriate protective eyewear. Depending on the sport, eye protection can be provided with polycarbonate eyewear, sports goggles, or protective face masks. 

5. Stop smoking. Smoking has been associated with the development of several eye conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration. Smoking is also thought to accelerate the development of retinopathy in diabetics. Quitting smoking can reduce this risk.   

6. Wear sunglasses.  Long-term exposure the ultraviolet radiation from the sun (UVA and UVB) is a leading cause for the development of cataracts. Protection against UV-induced damage is provided by sunglasses that are rated to block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. 

7. Disinfect and replace contact lenses. Improper maintenance of contact lenses can lead to the development of eye infections.  Thorough hand washing prior to putting contacts in or taking them out can reduce this risk.  Also contact lenses need to be disinfected and replaced as recommended.

8. Practice workplace safety.  The organization, Prevent Blindness, reports that up to 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day.  Common causes for work-related injuries include the eyes being damaged by flying objects (metal bits, glass, etc.), tools, and chemicals. Ten to twenty percent of these injuries result in temporary or permanent vision loss.  Fortunately, most of these injuries can be prevented by wearing safety glasses, eye shields or protective goggles.

19. Give your eyes a break. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end is a major cause of eye strain and dry eyes.  Measures that can reduce eye fatigue include use of an anti-glare screen, corrective eyewear, eye lubricants, and periodic eye rest.  One trick for reducing eye strain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule----every 20 minutes that you are working on the computer, look away at something that is approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. 

Written by eDocAmerica.com

Have Insomnia? A better night's sleep is all in your head.

Do you toss and turn at night, yearning for a good night's sleep?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 50 million to 70 million American adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder that can affect their lives in serious ways. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity are linked to poor sleep, as are car accidents, industrial disasters, occupational and medical errors as well as reduced quality of life and productivity. It's so bad that the CDC has pegged insufficient sleep as an American public health epidemic.

Read the rest of the article on CNN here

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ThirdEyeChic Optometry Is Grateful For Our Patients

Dear Friends;

Here at ThirdEyeChic Optometry, we are committed to providing you with the highest quality and compassionate care. We strive to always provide the newest discoveries in wellness, while enforcing our values of respect, integrity and excellence for your vision and beyond. One of our beloved patients sent us this beautiful arrangement and we couldn’t be more appreciative.

We are so grateful you continue to choose us to care for your sight and health.

Thank you, Dr. Veronica Ruelas

SHORT FILM ‘JUST BREATHE’ HELPS KIDS DEAL WITH EMOTIONS

Article on Amy's Smart Girls:

We all live, first and foremost, on the inside of our human bodies. But that doesn’t mean that rich inner life we all have doesn’t project itself outward into the everyday world. Quite the opposite: our emotional responses are hard to navigate at any age. Figuring out how and what you are physically feeling is particularly challenging when you’re feeling things like rage, sadness, disgust, and confusion for the first time. Heck, this particular Smart Girl is 29-years-old and I still have a hard time understanding what it all means. Sometimes, though, the best thing to do is just breathe.

Which is exactly what’s at the heart of the matter in this short from filmmakers Julie Bayer Salzman and Josh Salzman titled “Just Breathe.” In the 4-minute long video, the duo spoke to several young Smart Girls and Boys about how their emotions affect them and how they physically feel. But rather than just opening up the conversation — which is great and also, hint hint nudge nudge, part of what we’re doing with #BeEmotionalInsideOut — the duo show how helpful the practice of mindfulness is in keeping kids emotionally healthy.

From the short’s description, “the inspiration for ‘Just Breathe’ first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how emotions affect different regions of the brain, and how to calm down by taking deep breaths — all things they were beginning to learn in Kindergarten at their new school, Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. I was surprised and overjoyed to witness first-hand just how significant social-emotional learning in an elementary school curriculum was on these young minds.”

How do you deal with your emotions when you’re upset? Have you found any tricks and tips that help you be emotionally healthy and honest? Let’s hear ’em in the comments (or on Twitter — but make sure to tag them #BeEmotionalInsideOut)!

Article:  https://amysmartgirls.com/short-film-just-breathe-helps-kids-deal-with-emotions/

 

Because we believe that true health includes our relationships as well

The Power of Connection - Hedy Schleifer at TEDxTelAviv

Downtowners Doing Good: Dr. Veronica Ruelas Local Optometrist Bestows Gift of Sight on the Far Side

A Battery Park City eye doctor is traveling around the world several times each year to provide free optometric services to impoverished residents of developing nations. Dr. Veronica Ruelas, who has been practicing at Artsee Eyewear (on North End Way, opposite Shake Shack) since 2011, returned on Monday from the most recent of these trips, to Haiti. “I flew down on Friday night and spent the weekend at an orphanage in a place called Hinche, about two hours outside of Port-au-Prince, where I examined and treated around 40 children, and then got back on Monday evening,” she recalls. “I decided to go because a friend is adopting a child from Hinche, so she travels there once a month. When she described the conditions there, like rampant pink eye, I knew I had to try to help. I brought medication, and also spent some time training local caregivers.”

This was Dr. Ruelas’ first trip to Haiti, but her eleventh journey to remote locations in Third World countries where optometric services for poor people are either unheard of, or else in gravely short supply.

“I began doing this six years ago,” she recalls. “I went to India by myself in 2008, to see if I could help people.” This desire to serve sprang from a personal and professional reevaluation, she says. “I was ten years into practicing optometry at that point, and was thinking about giving it up. I was studying to become a yoga instructor, and going through an intense program, during which I lived in an ashram in India and studied yoga philosophy.”

“One of the paths to yoga is called karma yoga,” she explains, “and is focused on people who devote their lives to service. This is viewed as a way to train the mind and to help purify the soul. And when I realized, because of karma yoga, that I could use optometry to help people, that reenergized my professional life.”

Dr. Ruelas began by setting up a temporary clinic in the town of Uttarkashi, in northern India, near the borders with China and Nepal. This town, which was also home to the ashram where she was studying, is several days’ travel time from Delhi. “In that area of India,” she notes, “there is one optometrist serving 70,000 people.” She started by bringing medications and used eyeglasses, which she gave to people whose prescriptions matched the lenses on the donated pairs of glasses.

On subsequent trips to India, she brought more sophisticated equipment, along with other eye doctors. “Now we have multiple optometrists and ophthalmologists on each trip,” she says, “which means we can do everything from eye exams up to cataract surgeries.”

On her last trip to India, “our team of five doctors saw 750 people in three and a half days. We have to work hard and fast because it takes three days to get there and three days to get out. So we need to pack in as much work as we can in a short time. And even at this pace, we didn’t get to see everybody who wanted our help. Many of these people walked for hours to get to us, and waited many hours more in line. And for all of the patients we saw, this was the first eye exam they’ve ever had.”

In the years since the first trip, Dr. Ruelas has returned to India four more times, with additional sojourns to Brazil, Peru, and Lebanon. “I haven’t done this in Africa, yet,” she says, “but I’m hoping to go there soon.” The most moving experience she has had on any of these journeys, she says, “was in a small town in the Peruvian Andes. I was treating a young mother who was so severely nearsighted that she couldn’t see anything more than an inch or two away from her eyes. Once we gave her the appropriate glasses, she was able to see her infant child for the first time, after months of holding the baby in her arms. She couldn’t stop crying.”

The most discouraging aspect of her work abroad, Dr. Ruelas says, “is the red tape, the bureaucratic bottle necks, and the corruption that are everywhere in the developing world. These things make it much harder to do this work than it should be.”

Looking to the future, Dr. Ruelas is hoping to build a permanent clinic in Uttarkashi, which will function year-round, instead of only when she and the teams she leads travel to India. “If I can get that up and running with permanent equipment and trained staff,” she says, “I’d like to use it as a template to create similar facilities in other countries. Then, I’d like to launch an online portal where medical professionals can browse volunteer opportunities in different countries and sign up for times when they are available.”

In the meantime, she is planning another trip to India (with a smaller team) in November, followed by a larger trek in March of next year. “I’m hooked,” is Dr. Ruelas’ answer to why she undertakes these pilgrimages, which are funded from her own savings. “It’s really very selfish, because anybody who does this kind of work gets so much out of it. The people I treat are happy,” she reflects. “By American standards, they have nothing, but they love life. So they are onto something that very few people here get.”

The article can be found at: http://ebroadsheet.com/Entries/2014/10/1_Local_Optometrist_Bestows_Gift_of_Sight_on_the_Far_Side_of_the_World.html

Battery Park. Eye Doctor. ThirdEyeChic.

How Successful People Stay Calm

Successful People Stay Calm: The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

If you follow our newsletter, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress.

Click here to continue reading about how successful people stay calm.

Are meditation teachers the new career coaches?

Blog Post From Well+Good.

A high-level fashion executive was in a panic. A report was supposed to be on her desk by Monday morning, and it wasn’t. She was angry at the employee and couldn’t let it go. Now, her whole week was thrown off.

So, Jeff Cannon told her a story. Not about how to manage your subordinates, but about a monk carrying a geisha across a river, with a “leave it behind” moral at the end.

His approach to working with CEOs might sound unorthodox, but for the meditation teacher and author, it’s par for the (karmic) course. Cannon’s put the ancient practice into powerful service as a tool in the modern (and often fashionable) work place.

“What I’m doing is teaching people how to leverage this wonderful practice in the real world, so that in the short-term, they can reduce stress, increase focus, and manage distractions,” says Cannon, who’s coached executives at Gucci, Armani, and Harper’s Bazaar.

The method explained in his book The Simple Truth, applies particularly well to business, a group that’s embracing meditation despite lingering New-Agey stereotypes. “You don’t have to start shaving your head, wearing sandals, and dedicating two hours a day,” Cannon emphasizes. “You can still wear Prada and meditate.”

Click here to continue reading.

To Make a Killing on Wall Street, Start Meditating

After two decades as a trader, Ford credits his serenity to experience — and to the 20 minutes he spends in his pajamas each morning repeating a meaningless mantra bestowed on him by a teacher of Transcendental Meditation two years ago.

“I react to volatile markets much more calmly now,” Ford, 48, says. “I have more patience.”

He also has more money. Latigo Partners LP, his event-driven credit fund, climbed 24 percent last year. He almost beat the surging stock market with a bond fund. Ford is part of a growing number of Wall Street traders, including A-list hedge-fund managers Ray Dalio, Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Novogratz, who are fine-tuning their brains — and upping their games — with meditation. Billionaire investor Daniel Loeb, who once likened a chief executive officer to a drug addict during one of his frequent public rants, in February praised meditation while sharing a stage with the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C.

The idea that Type-A traders are seeking profit with the same tool that Buddhist monks use to achieve enlightenment might seem like sacrilege. Yet most people misunderstand meditation, says Jay Michaelson, author of “Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment.”

Samurai Practice

“Meditation used to have this reputation as a hippie thing for people who speak in a particularly soft tone of voice,” Michaelson says. Not so. “Samurai practiced meditation to become more effective killers,” he says. So too did kamikaze pilots. “It’s value neutral,” Michaelson says.

Workers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) are folding into the lotus position in droves, says Elizabeth Sudler, an instructor the firm retains. Classes where students breathe and monitor their wandering minds have waiting lists several hundred long, Goldman spokesman David Wells says. One trader there gets a twinge in his gut when he senses a move in the markets, Sudler says. Meditating gives him an edge, he told her, by tuning into that sensation more reliably. Others report downshifting more easily after work and sleeping better at night.

“Goldman employees are under a lot of pressure to produce,” Sudler says. “No one wants to be left behind.”

Click here to continue reading the blog post on Bloomberg.com.
 

Union Through Others

The state of “yoga,” or “union,” is when the individual self reunites with the infinite, undifferentiated, eternal Self. Yoga has been described as samadhi, or blissful ecstasy, because it is such a relief to finally reconnect with your whole being after so many lifetimes of wandering in the illusionary world of disconnection. The methods of yoga help to bring together that which appears to be separate.

Enlightenment is the goal of all yoga practices. Perceiving others—that is, perceiving ourselves as separate from others—is the biggest obstacle to enlightenment. For a yoga practice to work, it must address how to dissolve the others in our lives. Yoga teaches us that in truth there is only oneness; others are an illusionary projection coming from our own minds, from our own pastkarmas (actions). The practices help us to purify our karmas, which involve our relationships with others, so that we may perceive the oneness of being.

In the ancient text, the Yoga Sutra, the sage Patanjali suggests a few practices that may help us dissolve otherness and bring us closer to union. Patanjali is speaking to those who are still seeing others but who are interested in dissolving the disconnection between self and other.

He suggests that if we are still seeing others and not the divine oneness of being, then: Number one—don’t hurt them (ahimsa); Number two—don’t lie to them (satya); Number three—don’t steal from them (asteya); Number four—don’t manipulate them sexually (brahmacharya); and Number five—don’t be greedy, taking so much that you impoverish them (aparigraha). He gives these directives in the second chapter, the chapter on practice, and he refers to them as the five yamas (restrictions)—five ways to restrict your behavior in regards to the others you may encounter in your life.

On an immediate practical level, how we treat others will be reflected in our own experience of life. The others in our lives are a reflection of us. If we ourselves desire happiness and liberation from suffering, then our relationships with all beings and things should be mutually beneficial. No true or lasting happiness can come from causing unhappiness to others. No true or lasting freedom can come from depriving others of their freedom.

Patanjali tells us what we can expect to see happen in our lives when we become established in the practices of the five yamas. When we stop harming others, others will cease to harm us. When we practice telling the truth, we will be listened to. When we stop stealing from others, prosperity will come to us. When we treat others respectfully and don’t manipulate them sexually, we will enjoy good health and vitality. And when we let go of tendencies toward greed, we will come to know the reason we were born, and with that our destiny will be revealed to us.

If we want to know who we are, it will have to start with how willing we are to look at the way we are treating others, because how we treat others determines how others treat us; how others treat us determines how we see ourselves; and how we see ourselves determines who we are.

The simple but powerful gesture of placing our two hands together in front of our hearts when we greet or acknowledge others (namaste mudra) speaks without words of the magic of union. Two hands coming together: the left and the right, the sun and the moon, the ha and the tha, the self and the other. This is the gesture that describes yoga: union, the ultimate truth.

—Sharon Gannon via http://jivamuktiyoga.com/

To view the article, click here.

An Interview With Brian Wendel on Live Your Vie: Forks Over Knives

Posted on Live Your Vie.

Brian Wendel: Founder and President of Forks Over Knives. Creator and Executive Producer of the documentary Forks Over Knives.

The two Forks Over Knives books have been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 90 weeks. Many doctors and prominent celebrities have hailed the documentary Forks Over Knives as a must-see.

“I saw it, I loved it, and I need all of you to see it too. This could be the Hail Mary of medicine.” –Dr. Oz
Forks Over Knives is a provocative documentary that explores the idea of using food as medicine.” –Oprah Winfrey

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Brian.  He shared some thoughts on his powerful film and explained how a plant-based diet transformed his life.

    • Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today about well-being. Your message is so important and powerful, everyone needs to see it! Let me begin by asking, what was your well-being “aha moment”?

      It was around February 2001, when I was living in New York. I was always trying to do things that were on the healthy side. So, for several years, I had really focused my diet on eating a lot of fish, thinking that doing so was healthy.
      I went to a conference in New York City that had different nutritional experts from different disciplines. There was a panel discussion among representatives from The Zone Diet, The Atkins Diet, and so on. There was a person espousing a vegan diet for health, and I found his arguments intriguing and persuasive.
      The information continued to ring in my head as I went back home. I said, “Is it possible that all of the arguments about needing animal products for protein and calcium are really false?” I decided to just give a vegan diet a try for a week and see what happened. In just a couple of days, I knew that I was never going to touch animal foods again. I felt so much better in just a few short days. I became a little angry, too, as I began to realize a lot of what I had previously learned was false. I even question if I had been lied to. I soon decided I was never going to eat animal foods again and haven’t looked back.

    • It’s so amazing that you completely changed overnight. Did you find it hard to do?

      No, I didn’t. Actually, I thought it was pretty easy. I know a lot of people have stories of struggle and all that, but for me it really wasn’t. I was very confident in what I was doing. I felt better doing it.

    • I think one of the hardest things for people getting into a more vegan lifestyle is not always themselves, but other people who say, “Just have a little bit of this or just a little bit of that.” They mean well, but at the same time, they’re literally trying to force-feed you.

      Yes, that’s true. Your friends and family might say, “This is just a phase,” and try to create some doubt in your mind. I would just say this is something I enjoy doing and I’m going to do it. As long as you hold your convictions and you’re polite in return, over time, most of the negative feedback goes away.

    • Tell us about your journey to get Forks Over Knives made.

      In 2008, I had several people tell me that I had to read The China Study. When I finally did, it blew me away. I had known about some of the research in this field, but the book really brought it to another level. The scientific evidence for this lifestyle and its ability to prevent and reverse chronic diseases was even more powerful than I had imagined. I really began to wonder, “Why is this not a bigger news story?” Consider how, for example, heart disease is the number-one killer in the United States. Yet there’s convincing evidence that it need not exist at all. So if the mainstream media wasn’t going to cover what seemed to be a big news story, then I needed to do something. The one thing I really felt that was missing in making the case for the lifestyle was a strong visual presentation. It’s one thing, for instance, to read about Dr. Esselstyn’s patients in a book, but I thought it would be really different if you could see them on the big screen. When you see an elderly woman thriving when she was told more than twenty years ago that there was no hope to live, it’s pretty powerful.
      I had been so passionate about nutrition and had been thinking about going back to school to study it. But the idea of being in a chemistry lab really was [laughs] keeping me up at night. Once I thought about making a documentary, a light just went off. I was then able to bring in some talented people and together we pulled it off.

    • Your message is simple and clear, and the research is all there to back it up: a more plant-based diet equals a healthier and happier life. Why, then, do you think it’s so hard for us all to change?

      I think there’s always a percentage of the population that really just doesn’t care. But that’s a very small percentage. More significantly, I think that we have certain things ingrained in us that are really just cultural. The meat and dairy industries, in particular, have pushed a false message. As a result people still think – even today – they need meat for protein and dairy for calcium. This really goes back over a hundred years now. These industries compel people to look at food as individual nutrients. That’s why it seems like nutrition is so confusing, because we end up getting pushed on this message that you need one food for protein, another for calcium, and something else for omega 3s. When nutrition is thought of as individual nutrients, almost anything can be considered healthy. And this is what food companies do: they find the one nutrient that’s abundant in a given food and say, “Our product has a lot of X nutrient, therefore you should eat it.” In reality, a food is a package of countless nutrients working synergistically; and those foods whose nutrient packages are consistent with our needs are the healthy ones to choose. These, of course, are whole, plant-based foods.

    • Do you think it all comes down to education?

      Yes, it does come down to education. We’re going to always be drawn to unhealthy foods. As we explain in the film, the artificially rich foods in our current world hyperstimulate the dopamine chemicals in your brain. The pleasure mechanism that ensures that we would choose healthy natural foods, say, bananas, works against us in an environment where the foods are richer than we’d find in nature. Since the lure to unhealthy foods is so strong, we have to educate our way out of the mess.

I do think it’s so interesting that when you go to the doctor, they never mention anything about diet, unless you are morbidly obese.

It’s not a part of their training. It’s well known that in medical school you’re lucky if you get one or two classes on nutrition.

Continue reading this article here.

Mindfulness for People Who Are Too Busy to Meditate

Mindfulness has become almost a buzz-word. But what is it, really?Mindfulness is, quite simply, the skill of being present and aware, moment by moment, regardless of circumstances.

For instance, researchers have found that mindfulness can reprogram the brain to be more rational and less emotional. When faced with a decision, meditators showed increased activity in the posterior insula of the brain, which has been linked to rational decision making. This allowed them to make decisions based more on fact than emotion. This is good news since other research has found that reasoning is actually suffused with emotion. Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive and negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds. We push threatening information away and hold friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators but to data itself.

In order to reap the benefits of mindfulness, there are specific techniques that you can practice to improve your skills. You may have heard about a mindfulness-enhancing technique where you sit in stillness and practice meditating for a period of time before going about the rest of your day. This is definitely valuable. But I have a bias for being able to practice mindfulness all day, in every circumstance. In essence, you start living all of life mindfully and over time there is no distinction between your formal practice and making a presentation, negotiating a deal, driving your car, working out, or playing a round of golf.

Try a technique I call “micro meditations.” These are meditations that can be done several times a day for 1-3 minutes at a time. Periodically throughout the day, become aware of your breath. It could be when you feel yourself beginning to become stressed or overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time, or perhaps when you feel yourself becoming increasingly distracted and agitated.

In becoming aware of the breath, notice how you are breathing. Is it shallow or deep? Are you holding your breath and in so doing perhaps also holding your stomach? Or hunching your shoulders?

The next step is to start breathing so that you are bringing the breath into the belly. Do not strain. If it feels too unnatural to breathe into the belly, then perhaps bring the breath down to the lower chest. If the mind wanders, gently come back to the breath — without judging yourself for momentarily losing focus.

You will notice that by regularly practicing this micro-meditation you will become more aware and more calm. By practicing this regularly you will train yourself to be more and more mindful, and increasingly calm and focused. You can create reminders for yourself to practice these meditations two-to-four times a day; every hour or so; or before you go to a meeting — whatever is feasible. You can also use them on an ad-hoc basis to prepare for a meeting or a presentation, when you are stressed, or when multi-tasking is eroding your concentration. Micro-meditations can put you back on track, an help you develop your mindfulness muscle.

A second technique I use is “mindfulness in action.” Instead of adding a new routine to your day, you just experience your day a little differently by paying attention in a particular way, for seconds at a time.

For instance, if you have ever found yourself in a meeting and suddenly noticed that you missed what was just said or that you were “somewhere else” for the last few minutes, chances are you stopped listening. You could have been thinking about your next meeting or everything on your to do list, or perhaps you just zoned out or were focused on an incoming text message. This is incredibly common. Unfortunately, it is the cause of huge misunderstandings, missed opportunities and wasted time.

When in a meeting, try, to the best of your ability, toonly listen for seconds at a time. This is harder than it sounds, but with practice you will be able to do listen continuously, without a break in concentration. Whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, come right back to listening to the voice that is speaking. You may have to come back dozens of times in a single meeting. That is extremely common; we don’t actually realize how often the mind wanders. Always bring yourself back gently and with patience. All you are doing is training the mind to be right here, right now.

These techniques quite literally train the mind and rewire the brain. And as a result, three critical things happen. First, your ability to concentrate increases. Second, you see things with increasing clarity, which improves your judgment. And third, you develop equanimity. Equanimity enables you to reduce your physiological and emotional stress and enhances the chances that you may find a creative solution.

Practicing mindfulness – and reaping its benefits – doesn’t need to be a large time commitment or require special training. You can start right now – this momento.

For a Restful Night, Make Your Smartphone Sleep on the Couch

Article from The New York Times by Nick Bilton:

We’ve all been there. You wake up in the middle of the night and grab your smartphone to check the time — it’s 3 a.m. — and see an alert. Before you know it, you fall down a rabbit hole of email and Twitter. Sleep? Forget it.

Well, I’ve found a $7 solution: an old-fashioned alarm clock. My smartphone has been banished from the bedroom.

Sure, you can flip your phone to quiet mode. But the draw to roam in the early hours is powerful. Sleep researchers say this isn’t good for you. You might as well get up and drink a shot of espresso.

“It’s a very slippery slope, once you’ve picked up your phone, to see what time it is, to checking your email, to lying awake with anxiety,” said Dr. David M. Claman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. “If you wake up in the middle of the night and check your phone, you will inevitably get frustrated and worried by something you’ve seen, leading your body to tense up.”

Then it’s game over. You’re tossing and turning, thinking about an email, a text or a meeting in six hours.

Dr. Claman said smartphones in the bedroom have led to a rise in sleep-related complaints from his patients. “For people I see in their 20s and 30s, the phone is becoming a more common contributing factor to insomnia,” he said.

Some large, long-term studies on sleep disorders in the United Kingdom and Finland have found that stress-related issues have led to a rise in insomnia over the last decade. In the United States, according to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Healthas many as 40 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia in a given year. Ten to 15 percent have chronic insomnia.

All these sleep interruptions lead to work problems. A 2011 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that insomnia costs $2,280 in lost productivity per American worker every year. That adds up to $63 billion a year for the nation.

The draw of the smartphone is understandable. The alarm clock is a free feature. It’s also incredibly convenient — who doesn’t like being able to speak to their phone and say, “Wake me up at 7 a.m.”?

Many Americans do like it, and they increasingly have brought their smartphones into their bedrooms. A 2013 Facebook-sponsored study by IDC Research found that 44 percent of the people who own a smartphone said they use it as an alarm clock. That number rose to 54 percent for people 18 to 24.

Device makers are helping the trend along and hoping these figures rise. Most new alarm clocks made today are designed to be married to a smartphone.

This goes against years of research showing that screens, in any capacity, do everything but help us fall asleep. In 2012, the American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health said that “exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders.”

Sleep researchers say that looking at a blue light, which is produced by smartphone and tablet screens, sets off brain receptors that are designed to keep us awake and interferes with circadian sleep patterns. Experimental research has found that if people use a tablet for up to two hours before bed, it takes an extra hour to fall asleep.

Orfeu M. Buxton, a neuroscientist and assistant professor in the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the phone in the bedroom could set off what he called “threat vigilance,” which is a type of anxiety that keeps you awake. “This means that you’re never off, you’re always watchful, which is a hallmark to insomnia,” he said.

Teens fare the worst. Some children in middle school not only bring their phone into the bedroom but also leave the ringer on. “I have found that 10 or 15 percent of teens in middle school are hardened insomniacs that not only sleep with their cellphones on but feel they have to be responsive to intrusion, in case a friend is in need,” Mr. Buxton said.

This I know: Little good comes from looking at your phone at 3 a.m. So for now, my bedroom rule is this: No gadgets allowed.

Except my new alarm clock. It has no apps or Wi-Fi, but it wakes me up in the morning, not in the middle of the night.

Deep Breaths

Read this interesting article written by Rachel Louise Ensign for The Wall Street Journal.

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new record this past March, Brent Kessel awoke at 3:30 a.m.

But the financial adviser, who co-founded a firm that manages more than $800 million, wasn’t up early because he was giddy about the market. He was hopping on a motor scooter in Mysore, India, to stand on one leg with the other leg behind his head and chant in Sanskrit at the school where a branch of modern yoga has its origins.

Mr. Kessel, who devoted himself to responding to emails from his clients and colleagues later that day, shrugs off the bull market.

“Everything is impermanent, especially the market’s level,” says Mr. Kessel, whose firm is Abacus Wealth Partners in Santa Monica, Calif.

Spencer Sherman, Abacus’s other founder, teaches his clients a breathing technique called “the Money Breath,” to get through tough financial situations: clients typically inhale for three counts, hold the breath for one count, and exhale for six counts.

Non-clients can buy “the Money and Spirit Workshop” home study course from the duo, available for $66.97 on a website that sells New Age products.

Some clients come to the firm through its advertisements in Yoga Journal, which in its April 2001 issue featured a bare-chested Mr. Kessel on the cover balancing on his hands with his legs tucked behind his arms in a perfectly executed “crow” pose.

“I think the very common reaction, even 15 years ago, would have been, ‘These guys are California quack jobs,'” says Mr. Kessel. “But if you actually came in and were a client, you’d find that we’re much more disciplined than a lot of the firms out there.”

He is one of a breed of financial advisers who are taking yoga and meditation out of the ashram and putting them into Excel spreadsheets. The values and teachings of these Eastern-inspired traditions, proponents say, impart a special kind of financial wisdom that, among other benefits, allows them to stay calm in crises and make holistic financial plans for clients.

George Kinder, a certified financial planner and Buddhist teacher who spends his time in Maui, Hawaii, London and Littleton, Mass., is widely considered the guru of this financial “mindfulness” movement, which has guided financial advisers seeking to add a spiritual element to their practices.

Mr. Kinder’s 1999 book, “The Seven Stages of Money Maturity,” applies ancient Buddhist principles known as the Six Perfections, which include patience and generosity, to contemporary money management, among other things. Mr. Kinder later developed “financial life planner” training, which teaches advisers to focus on the client’s life goals and use empathic listening skills when working with them.

The tradition is older than it might appear. The integration of yoga and money is seen in Eastern history, says Mark Singleton, who wrote his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Cambridge on the history of modern yoga.

While many ancient yogis renounced material possessions, others used yoga to gain money and influence. “They were the power brokers of medieval India because of these powers you can accumulate by doing yoga,” says Mr. Singleton.

The number of planners who have gone through at least one of Mr. Kinder’s programs, which always include a group meditation, has more than doubled in the past five years to more than 2,000, he says. So far, 307 have obtained the top “Registered Life Planner” designation, up from about 100 five years ago.

“People leave our training exhilarated,” says Mr. Kinder. “That’s very similar to a very deep yoga or meditative retreat. You go so deep inside yourself you’re sparkling.”

Messrs. Kessel and Sherman use a Kinder-influenced financial-planning approach at Abacus, and say they buy stocks and bonds based on research instead of “emotions and hot tips.” They typically prefer passive index funds to actively managed ones, and unlike panicked investors who fled equities during the financial crisis, they say they bought stocks the day the market hit its bottom in 2009, a move the firm attributes to disciplined rebalancing.

Jeff Bogart, like Messrs. Kessel and Sherman a Kinder disciple, launched Yogic Investing, a yoga-inspired branch of his Cleveland-area financial-advisory firm last year. “George Kinder’s stuff is groundbreaking and fascinating. Sometimes it makes me aware if people are stuck in the root chakra with their money issues,” says Mr. Bogart. The root chakra, an energy point located at the base of the spine, is associated with primitive survival needs, he says.

Those interested fill out a brief questionnaire online to “find out if you are a yogic investor!” He presented a workshop on yoga and money at the Finger Lakes Yoga Festival in New York state last summer.

Some financial advisers revel in yoga’s revelations.

While standing on one leg and attempting to lift his other leg perpendicular to the ground, Rick Salmeron, a certified financial planner who is president of Salmeron Financial in Dallas and who practices Bikram yoga, a type of yoga traditionally practiced in 105-degree heat, says, “I’m thinking of my clients who can’t help but be attracted to Apple at $600 a share or oil at $140 a barrel.”

Mr. Salmeron recently considered holding a Bikram class for his clients, though only a fraction of them are regular yoga practitioners. “Investing is very emotional. Yoga keeps it all balanced,” he says.

He recommends Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana, a pose in which he stands with legs spread wide and grabs his feet in an effort to pull his head to the floor. “It gives my brain a tourniquet effect. It clears out a lot of the dead brain cells,” Mr. Salmeron says.

Other advisers try to be discreet about the New Age influence on their work. Nicholas Lee of Worcester, England, who trained with Mr. Kinder, meditates and faithfully uses a notepad with “Breathe in” printed on top of the pages and “Breathe out” at the bottom.

Still, he says, “you can’t put a sign outside your office that says, ‘Hello, I’m a financial life planner. I do yoga and meditation.’ I’m always a little bit cautious talking about it. You can very quickly appear flaky.”

A link to the article can be found here.