Study: How Religion Affects the Brain Compared to Taking Drugs

A new study out of the University of Utah says that religious experiences can produce effects on the human brain that are similar to what happens when taking drugs.
To measure these effects, researchers asked 19 devout Mormons to perform a series of tasks that included resting, watching financial report announcements from the church, praying, reading quotes from non-Mormon theist leaders, and reading from the Bible. During these activities, researchers measured each individual’s brain activity using MRI scans.
Scientists conducting the study chose young Mormons who had performed at least two years of missionary work. The seven women and twelve men were asked to press a button whenever they “felt the spirit” during the tasks they were asked to carry out.
What researchers found was that certain areas of the brain would “light up” whenever an individual pressed the button to record a spiritual feeling or thought. The areas of the brain that became active upon pressing the button are the same areas of the brain that lit up in previous studies when individuals listened to music, reported feelings of love, or taken recreational drugs.
The particular portion of the brain that is seen to be stimulated in each of these studies is called the nucleus accumbens, and acts as the “reward center” of the brain. This is also the region of the brain that regulates dopamine, as well as highly influences addiction.
Neuroradiologist Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, leader of the study, told CNN:
"These are areas of the brain that seem like they should be involved in religious and spiritual experience.
“But yet, religious neuroscience is such a young field – and there are very few studies – and ours was the first study that showed activation of the nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain that processes reward.
“Billions of people make important decisions in life based on spiritual and religious feelings and experiences. It's one of the most powerful influences on our social behavior. Yet we know so little about what actually happens in the brain during these experiences. It's just a critical question that needs more study.”
source and courtesy:  Independent

8 Signs A Marriage Won’t Last, According To Divorce Lawyers

For the best relationship insight and advice, turn to a divorce attorney. After all, every day they have a front-row seat to the kinds of petty drama and missteps that lead couples to split up. 
With that in mind, we asked family law attorneys from across the country to share some of the most obvious signs that a couple is likely to divorce. 

1. They give each other the silent treatment

"It's a bad sign if a couple bickers and it results in the silent treatment. Sure, fighting is healthy in a relationship but when it turns from playful to serious on a regular basis -- and it ends in stonewalling -- that doesn't bode well for long-term success." -- Jason Levoy, an attorney and divorce coach in New York City

2. Their sex life is lackluster.

"This seems obvious and it is. People can go without sex, but the bottom line is that we are living creatures and sex is a natural desire. Yes, there are relationships that endure without sex, but as a divorce lawyer, it's not a shock when a client tells me they have gone years without having sex with their partner." -- Randall M. Kessler, an attorney in Atlanta, Georgia

3. They have very little in common. 

"While it's true that opposites attract, don't assume that the qualities you fell in love with are going to keep a marriage together. For example, if someone is an extrovert and loves going out until the wee morning hours and the other spouse likes a warm bath at 7 p.m. followed by a glass of milk and a good book, there is no way the couple can sustain this lifestyle distance." -- Lisa Helfend Meyer, a divorce attorney in Los Angeles, California 

4. Their careers always come before the family. 

"It can be a problem when a partner always puts his or her career above everything else, including the relationship. This tends to be true, regardless of the agreement the couple has come to during the marriage. For example, my firm has represented laser-focused military members, whose partners initially agreed to take a backseat and raise the family so the military member could advance. But over the years, the stay-at-home spouse begins to resent the situation. Even the strongest relationships decay over time when one person puts their career aspirations ahead of the relationship." -- Christian Denmon, a divorce attorney in Tampa, Florida 

5. They have contempt for one another

"Eye-rolling, belittling and treating each other with disdain are key indicators that a relationship will eventually disintegrate. While spouses don’t have to always see eye-to-eye to have a happy marriage, they do have to respect each other and appreciate their differences, rather than viewing those differences as being signs that the other spouse is stupid or wrong." -- Karen Covy, an attorney and divorce coach in Chicago, Illinois 

6. They don't respect each other's love language. 

"Knowing your partner's love language -- being aware of how he or she feels appreciated -- is crucial for long-term success in marriage. Although spouses may love each other, they may not feel loved if they have different love languages. For instance, if one spouse shows love by doing helpful things or by buying gifts, but the other receives love through verbal affirmations, loving touch or quality time together, the love may not really be received." -- Dennis A. Cohen, an attorney and mediator in Marina del Rey, California 

7. They're not honest about their spending. 

"A marriage is a partnership and each person should be accountable to the other for their family’s finances. When the finances are split, it's easy for both partners to overspend. A couple can keep separate or joint bank accounts, but when there is no transparency on how money is being spent and saved, it's nearly impossible to set and reach financial goals like buying a home or planning for retirement. It becomes a growing frustration." -- Puja A. Sachdev, a divorce attorney in San Diego, California 

8. They never fight.

"Many spouses tend to avoid awkward situations and problems by either 'shading the truth' or ignoring something that has been on their mind. This leads to resentment. This person is your best friend, confidante and lover. You should be able to say anything to them. You should be able to to accept one another's comments without destroying the bonds of matrimony." -- Douglas S. Kepanis, a divorce attorney in New York City 

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Life can throw unexpected curve balls that seem to break everything. We can make mistakes that land us in hotter water than we imagined was possible. Thankfully, life is about the journey, not the destination. We are made to suffer, so we can learn and grow from the experience. I know that seems like a thin blanket on a cold night, nut maybe the reminder that all things are impermanent is more helpful.
This pain, this unhappiness, this mistake, will not plague you and yours forever, though I know it seems like it could. Below are four suggestions to help you speed up the pace of this ‘lesson’. I don’t presume to know your situation to the ‘t’, but I have suffered before and know it’s no fun. I would recommend that if you follow these suggestions, you do them in the order presented but you know your situation best so you do what you feel is best.

Realize And Acknowledge the Truths In Your Situation

The first step is going to be one of the hardest. No matter what, life continues to march forward at a seemingly cold hearted pace. Acknowledging that here isn’t where you intended to be, is the first step to getting back on your path and to your pace. So breathe and acknowledge some facts. You aren’t where you want to be, but why?
Where would you rather be? What about your current situation is causing you suffering? Is your current situation leading towards a happy and productive resolution or more suffering?
Ask yourself questions about the fundamental aspects of your life. It may help to write them down. Honestly acknowledge that this is your current reality. Without fear name what is wrong with the current picture. Those negative elements are already doing you harm, calling them out by name brings positive focus to them.

Love, Forgive, And Reach Out

Love yourself for realizing you are in a pickle. Not everyone can always realize when they are in a bad place, and this lack of sight prevents them from moving forward. You are taking the bull by the horns, and you should be proud of this fact. If you are in this negative space with the help of others and their careless influence, forgive them. Send them waves of love and forgive them with the deepest love you can muster.
It’s ok if the first round of compassion and kindness isn’t that deep. With emotions bubbling all over the place you’ll do it again, and with each round of forgiving and love, the magnitude will grow and the sincerity more easily projected. This person or institution was ruled by fear or ego when they wronged you. More negativity won’t break the cycle.
Don’t forget to forgive yourself. I always have to actively not beat myself up for making similar mistakes every couple of months. As you compassionately acknowledge life and willingly forgive start to reach out to those you trust and who love you greatly. Even if it seems you’ve got your recovery neatly in your hand, there is no reason to do it alone.
Some would argue that braving a storm by yourself builds character, I doubt that person ever stood in a true monsoon. While you probably could do it alone, if you allow others to help you, everything associated will benefit and recover faster.

Come Back To The Present

In acknowledging and forgiving you probably started to slide into the past. You also, very well started to deviate to the expected and feared future. You don’t know what the future holds for you, no matter how clever or well informed you are. Your expectations will be direct answers to your current fears and plight.
Do you really want your future to be dealing only with negativity? YOU DESERVE MORE THAN THAT.  Don’t let the past continue to hurt you either. Acknowledge what happened, forgive, respect and love. Then release. Back in the present you have your work cut out for you. Gather your wits and support team.

Remove And Replace

In the present moment, start understanding what is causing you harm or preventing you from doing necessary tasks. Some elements of life aren’t actively negative but can hold up resources better suited for the task at hand. Remove what doesn’t need to be in your life or anything that is causing you pain. If your unsure at any point in time confer with your support group.
source and courtesy: Spirit Science

Coconut Oil Can Make You Look 10 Years Younger In 2 Weeks. This Is How

Okay, I can tell what you're thinking already. "10 years younger? How can oil do that for me?" You, my friend, are underestimating the power of coconut oil. By the time this article is through, you're going to be tossing your name brand shampoos and lotions and stocking up on coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a powerful cosmetic tool. Unlike mass-manufactured lotions and conditioners, it penetrates deeper into the skin and hair and moisturizes in a more natural way, all while delivering key nutrients to your skin cells.

There are just a few simple treatments you need to do in order to reap the benefits of this delightful oil.

1. Before bed treatment.

This is one you should do each and every single night before you go to bed. Take a dab of coconut oil and warm in your hands. When coconut oil is cool, it's solid. As it warms, it turns into a liquid. Once in its liquid form, rub gently onto your face.
Typically I'll let the coconut oil sit on my skin for a while. Maybe 30-60 minutes. It's amazing how much of it ends up being absorbed into your skin. When you're ready to remove it, wet a towel with water as hot as your skin can tolerate. Wipe the oil off of your skin, then dry with a dry towel.

2. For hangnails:

Problems with the cuticle can be cured with coconut oil too. Before you reach for some expensive lotion that doesn't even work, massage a bit of melted coconut oil into your nail beds. Doing this every day for a month should clear up dry, cracking skin around the nails. Your nails will also be stronger than ever.

3. For cellulite:

Cellulite is a tough thing for many women (and men too!) to cure. Coconut oil is easily the best way to deal with it. I take a tablespoon of coconut oil, warm it on a low setting on the stove, then add a teaspoon of honey. I let it melt down and mix together well then apply to my skin.

Like with the above facial mask, I leave it on for a half hour to an hour. Then I wipe off with a hot towel. You should expect results in a couple weeks.

4. For dry hands:

I'm sure you can guess what you have to do. Take a hearty amount of coconut oil, warm it up, and rub thoroughly all over your hands. This is going to make your hands oily (duh) so if you don't have time for an hour of not using your hands, you can throw on some latex gloves.

Latex gloves aren't a bad idea anyway. They help trap in the heat and moisture of the coconut oil, improving the effectiveness of the treatment. This helps get rid of not just dry spots on the hands but also age spots and other blemishes.

5. For shaving:

Pitch your shaving cream in a can and try this instead. Take a bit of coconut oil, warm until it's melted, and rub on your face, neck, armpit, legs, or wherever it is that you're shaving.

If I really want the frothiness of a more traditional shaving cream, I'll sometimes add a little bit of diluted castile soap. Don't add too much though, it can dry out your skin.

6. For conditioning your hair:

This one takes the most work but it's so worth it, I can't even begin to tell you. Melt down about a tablespoon of coconut oil just using the body heat from your hands. Once melted, apply to the hair and scalp.

Really take the time to massage it in thoroughly. If you have a lot of hair, you may need a little bit more. It's not just for head hair too. I apply it to my husbands beard when it's starting to get bristly and it softens it right up.

Let the coconut oil stay on your hair for up to 2 hours. The longer the better. Getting it off is tricky and usually requires quite a bit of time running it under hot water. Just remember: heat causes it to melt down. So a hot shower will do the trick. It usually takes me only 10 minutes to rinse it all out, then I just shampoo like normal.

Your hair will be softer than you've ever felt in your life. Give it a try!

source and courtesy:

3 Reasons You Should NEVER Use Your Phone In The Bathroom

These days it's practically impossible to get away from people using cell phones. They're on the bus, train, in restaurants and coffee shops, and, yes...even in the bathroom!

One of the biggest pet peeves that I've recently developed is going into a public restroom and hearing someone talking on their cell phone. I guess some people don't mind having someone they know hear them poop or pee, but I like my privacy in those moments, thank you very much!

Well, as it turns out, not only is it annoying to some people (me!), but taking your cell phone into the bathroom with you can be a dangerous habit.

Director of Biomedical Science at Queen Mary's University in London, Dr. Ron Cutler, strongly advocates that people leave their cell phones elsewhere when using the bathroom. Here's why:

No matter how often bathrooms are cleaned, they are dirty places! The germs E. coli, C.diff and Salmonella can be found in every bathroom and can hide in places that you might not think to clean regularly, like the toilet paper holder.

And, if after wiping, you pick up your phone before you wash your hands, don't bother washing! The germs you get on your hands from wiping will transfer to your phone where they can stay for hours!

Cell phones are perfect breeding grounds for germs since they heat up when being used. And, if you eat sweets and then get that stickiness on your phone, you have created an even better home for germs.

Of course, the level of germ contamination depends on where the bathroom is located. If it's your home or office bathroom, it won't be as contaminated as a grocery store, restaurant or other frequently used public restroom.

Cell phones aren't the only things that can be contaminated by being in the bathroom. I've already mentioned that toilet paper holders are easily contaminated due to their proximity to the toilet and by people touching them after wiping.

But, toothbrush holders, lotion bottles and other items left on the sink vanity can also get contaminated. So, avoid leaving your toothbrush out on the vanity. Put it away in your medicine cabinet or linen closet. And, clean the other items on your vanity on a regular basis.

And, please people...PLEASE stop taking your cell phones into the bathroom with you! Leave them in your purse, in your car or with a friend while you use the facilities.

source and courtesy:

New “Suicide Game” On Social Media Has Taken The Lives Of 17 Teenagers

Social media trends among teenagers are nothing new. But a new “game” called “Blue Whale” encourages youths to “win” by doing the unthinkable: committing suicide.

The sinister challenge started to spread in Russia and multiple Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and is believed to have led to the suicides of over 130 teens.
Although the origins of the game are difficult to trace, authorities from Russia’s Investigative Committee say that one of the sources is an online social networking website called Vkontakte.
Teenagers “sign up” for the game by making a profile on the Vkontakte site, at which point a “curator” is assigned to them.
Investigators decided to create their own fake profile, impersonating a 15-year-old girl, to see what would happen if they played the game.

The following is a transcript of conversations between the “15-year-old girl” and a “curator”:
GIRL: “I want to play the game.” 
CURATOR: “Are you sure? There is no way back,” responded a so-called curator of the Blue Whale game.
GIRL: “Yes. What does that mean — no way back?”
CURATOR: “You can’t leave the game once you begin.”
GIRL: “I’m ready.” Then the curator explained the rules.
CURATOR: “You carry out each task diligently, and no one must know about it. When you finish a task, you send me a photo. And at the end of the game, you die. Are you ready?”
GIRL: “And if I want to get out?”
CURATOR: “I have all your information. They will come after you.”
According to investigators, the first task assigned by the curator was to carve “F58” into her arm.
By using photoshop, investigators created a fake picture of an arm with the letters/numbers scratch in. Once the photo was sent, however, the curator ceased to respond.
Numerous other curators were contacted by investigators, including one curator who wrote:
I am your personal whale. I will help you take the game all the way to the end. The last day is the end of the game. If you die, you win. If you don’t, we will help you. Are you ready?
Russian authorities eventually managed to make an arrest: Filip Budeikin, the man they believe to be primarily behind the trend.
Despite being charged with coaxing at least 15 teenagers to kill themselves, Filip admitted during an interview that the actual number was 17.
Justifying his actions, Filip said that the teens “died happy. I gave them that which they did not have in their real life: warmth, understanding, connection.”
According to one report:
Currently, authorities in Kazakhstan have blocked access to the “death groups” on social media, and in Central Asia, Kazakh Interior Minister Kalmukhanbet Kasymov has called for creating a national database of social-media users.
In the capital of Kyrgyzstan, police have begun searching through schools to check children for signs of cutting or for suspicious messages on their phones.
Suicide is a serious issue and if you or anyone you know is considering suicide, please contact a credible suicide prevention hotline for support:

These People Live For 120 Years, Look Twice As Young And Haven’t Been Sick For One Day: HERE'S THEIR SECRET

Their living habitat is called ‘The oasis of life’, and these are their everyday habits which bring them the elixir of youth ad health. The Hunzakuts are an old nation of people, prospering on the border between Pakistan and India, and these same people have been known for a magnificent longevity of about 110-120 years.

They are almost never ill, and thanks to their genetic system, they always look young. They are a true example of what an ideal life really is. The Hunza people bathe themselves in ice cold water at temperatures reaching 15 degrees below zero and have children even when they are 65.
During the summer, they eat fresh vegetables and fruit and when winter comes they consume die apricots, corn and sheep milk cheese. There is a time when the Hunzakuts eat nothing, a period known as ‘starving spring’. The name is derived from the fact that during this period fruits are not ripe yet, so they only drink dried apricots juice. This period lasts 2-4 months and is considered a cult in their history.

Their protein intake is brought down to minimum, taking 1933 calories per day out which 50g are proteins, 36g are fat and 365g are carbs. Many visitors in this exquisite area have all concluded that the secret to their long lives is the healthy nutrition.
Experiments as proof
The Scottish doctor, Mac Harrison, has conducted an animal experiment right upon returning to England. He gave one group normal food of average London-based families composed of white bread, herring, refined sugar, canned food and cooked vegetables. As a result of such nutrition, many animals have suffered several human diseases.
The second group of animals has been fed the Hunzakuts food and remained in perfect health. In 1984, a Chinese magazine has described a very interesting event. One member of the Hunza people, named Said Abdul Mobuda, had confused all employees in the Department of Immigration by showing them his passport. He was born in 1832 and was 160 years old. He was considered a protector of the Hunza folks and had memory of events dating from 1850.
The book ‘Hunzakuts- people who do not know of illness’, by R. Bircher points out the basic characteristics of their nutrition, claiming they are essential for a healthy life:
‘The vegetarian nutrition is based on large amounts of fresh groceries, dominated by fruits and vegetables, organic products without additional chemicals and groceries which are prepared in such way that all their biological characteristics are preserved.   Alcohol and sweets are on the list of rarely consumed ingredients- instead, a regular period of starvation is enforced.’
In 1977, at the International Congress for Cancer Diseases in Paris, experts announced that ‘According to the geocancerology (a science which explores cancers in different regions of the world), a total cancer-free zone is only noticed in the Hunzakuts.
For these people, walking 100-200 kilometers a day is the same as it is for us to walk around the house. Also, their constantly smiled faces and excellent moods only enhance their well being, both physically and mentally.

The Eightfold Path Of Buddhism

The Eightfold Path of Buddhism (outlined by Buddha thousands of years ago), also called the Middle Path or Middle Way, is a system designed to achieve spiritual enlightenment and cease suffering.
It’s simple, direct, and profound all at the same time.

1) Right view (“right understanding”)

This is the right way of looking at life, nature, and the world as they are — not as we want them to be. This is embracing reality. It means understanding that the Four Noble Truths are noble and true.
It explains the reasons for life existence, suffering, sickness, aging, death, the existence of greed, hatred, and delusion. It gives direction and efficacy to the other seven path factors.

2) Right intention

Determining and resolving to practice Buddhist faith. The practitioner should constantly aspire to rid themselves of whatever qualities they know to be wrong and immoral. These are:
  • I. intention of giving up satisfying sensory organs
  • II. The intention of all living beings’ happiness.
  • III. The intention of avoiding/harming all living beings.

3) Right speech

Right speech deals with the way in which a Buddhist practitioner would best make use of their words. what is right speech?
  • Abandoning false speech- He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, not a deceiver of the world…
  • Abandoning divisive speech- What he has heard here he does not tell there to hurt others.
  • Abandoning abusive speech- He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing, and pleasing to people at large…
  • Abandoning idle chatter- He speaks in season, speaks on what is factual.

4) Right action

Right action can also be translated as “right conduct”. The practitioner trains himself to be morally upright in activities, not acting in ways that would be corrupt or bring harm to himself or to others. And what is right action? Abstaining from:
  • Taking life
  • Stealing
  • Illicit sex

5) Right livelihood

This means that practitioners shouldn’t engage in trades or occupations which, either directly or indirectly, result in harm for other living beings.
These five types of businesses should be avoided:
  • Business in weapons- trading in all kinds of weapons and instruments for killing.
  • Business in beings- slave trading, prostitution, or the buying and selling of children or adults and animals.
  • Business in meat- “meat” refers to the bodies of beings after they are killed. This includes breeding animals for slaughter.
  • Business in intoxicants- manufacturing or selling intoxicating drinks or addictive drugs.
  • Business in poison- producing or trading in any kind of poison or a toxic product designed to kill.

6) Right effort

The practitioners should make a persisting effort to abandon all the wrong and harmful thoughts, words, and deeds. Instead, they should be persisting in giving rise to what would be good and useful to themselves and others in their thoughts, words, and deeds.
  • Prevent the unwholesome that has not yet arisen in oneself.
  • Let go of the unwholesome that has arisen in oneself.
  • Bring up the wholesome that has not yet arisen in oneself.
  • Maintain the wholesome that has arisen in oneself.

7) Right mindfulness (Satipattana)

Here, practitioners should constantly keep their minds alert to phenomena that affect the body and mind. They should be mindful and deliberate.
What is right mindfulness?
  • Focused on the body in and of itself—aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
  • Focused on feelings in and of themselves—aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
  • Focused on the mind in and of itself—aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.
  • Focused on mental qualities in and of themselves—aware, and mindful—putting away greed and distress with reference to the world.

8) Right concentration (Meditation)

This is probably the most important rule! Using meditation to reach the highest level of enlightenment.
The practice of concentration, also known as right meditation, the practitioner concentrates on an object of attention until reaching full concentration and a state of meditative absorption. From this, the practice of samadhi can be developed. This leads to self-awakening.

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