MW: 2015-2

Issue 120

Happiness and Health: One of the studies coming from Marty Seligman’s Happier.com website shows that 92% of people felt happier and 94% who had said they were depressed felt less depressed after simply counting their blessings for one week. It seems that gratitude is as powerful as antidepressants and therapy. But it isn’t just gratitude that’s been found to have such positive effects, positive emotions, including learned optimism, generosity and hopefulness also change our lives.

Barbara Friedrickson, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has demonstrated that a three-to-one ratio of positive to negative emotions creates a life in which we thrive. (unc.edu/peplab/people.html#aaron)

From the article: “From research done on Buddhist monks’ brains, we are beginning to believe that when we think positive thoughts — about gratitude, kindness, optimism and the like — we activate our left prefrontal cortex and flood our bodies with feel-good hormones, which give us an upswing in mood and strengthen our immune system. Conversely, when we think negative, angry, worried, hopeless, pessimistic thoughts, we activate our right pre-frontal cortex and flood our body with stress hormones, which send us into fight or flight mode, depressing our mood, and suppressing our immune system. In other words, we are bathing our body/minds/spirits in good or bad chemicals based on our thoughts.”

From: “How Random Acts of Kindness — and Lots of Practice — Made Me Happier,” by M.J. Ryan, EveryDayHealth.com. Ryan is one of the creators of the New York Times bestselling book Random Acts of Kindness, and the author of How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For, The Power of Patience, The Happiness Makeover and Attitudes of Gratitude

eva-carriere
Eva Carriere

Mistaking Evidence as Fraud: According to the Wikipedia article about researcher Charles Richet (1850-1935): “In 1954, the Society for Psychical Research member Rudolf Lambert published a report revealing details about a case of fraud that was covered up by many early members of the Institute Metapsychique International (IMI). Lambert … discovered photographs depicting fraudulent ectoplasm…. Various ‘materializations’ were artificially attached to Eva Carrière’s hair (photograph right) by wires. …[IMI] members … knew about the fraudulent photographs but were firm believers in mediumship phenomena so demanded the scandal be kept secret.”

This Wikipedia article was actually written in December of 2014. It is clear that it is written to make it seem that fraud did occur, when in reality, there is no evidence of fraud. Some of the pictures appear to show threads and faces with a flat appearance. These ambiguities were used as evidence of trickery, even though no mechanisms for proof of the trickery were found. A number of rebuttals were published in the IMI, including an eyewitness report by the photographer. Nevertheless, the Wikipedia article cites no such alternative views.

Modern examples of ectoplasm frequently show threads of the sticky material stuck to surfaces as if fastened there. Author Renaud Evrard asks at the end of his report about the article, “Was it appropriate to base a charge of fraud on hard-to-check testimonies, a long time after the death of the main protagonists, rather than on concrete available evidence”?

From: “Wikipedia, Lambert , and IMI’s “Concealed Fraud” by Renaud Evrard, Mindfield, December 2014, Parapsychological Association, parapsych.org. Also see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Richet

Spirit Shows Light: Well-known mediumship researcher Gary Schwartz has developed a technique whereby faint light can be detected in a totally dark box. Measurements are taken at the beginning of an experimental session, and then a specific “hypothesized spirit collaborator” is asked to show a “spirit light” in the box and a second reading is taken. The conclusion that “It appears that instructions for specific spirits to enter a light sensing system can be associated with reliable increases in the apparent measurement of photons” suggests those communicating from the other side are able to hear, respond and produce light in an otherwise dark enclosure.

From: The Sacred Promise: How Science Is Discovering Spirit’s Collaboration with Us in Our Daily Lives, by Gary E. Schwartz, PhD., Atria Books, 2011. See:  Photonic Measurement of Apparent Presence of Spirit Using a Computer Automated System” by Gary E. Schwartz, PhD. 2011, drgaryschwartz.com

death-makes-life-possibleDeath Makes Life Possible: This film looks at how popular culture deals with the ever-present fear many have about our own mortality. Interviews with mental health experts, cultural leaders and scientists explore the meaning of death and how we can learn to live without fear. The interviews and evidence presented are interwoven with personal stories of people facing their own death as well as those who report encounters beyond death.

Death Makes Life Possible features some of the leading scientists, anthropologists, philosophers, spiritual teachers and thinkers of our time including Deepak Chopra Michael Bernard Beckwith, Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake and Dr. Jim Tucker to name a few. Hospice Maui wrote, “Our Spiritual Care Counselors are particularly attuned to the existential suffering that is often present as someone faces their last days in this world. The film ‘Death Makes Life Possible’ is a very welcome and very powerful new tool. We will be using it for years to come, not only to help relieve the suffering in some of our patients, but also, and sometimes much more importantly, with their families to ease their grief and distress before and after the death.” To view go to imdb.com/video/wab/vi1744543769/

Retrocausal Effects: Volunteers were given a questionnaire designed to determine if they were intuitive or rational thinkers. They were then presented with randomly chosen shapes and instructed to either respond or not respond, depending on the shape. In a second task, participants only had to respond to one shape. This shape was randomly chosen from the two that were used in the first task.

After the second task, reaction times to the shapes in the first task were compared and the reaction time for the one selected for the second task was about 2% shorter. The reaction time in the first task would normally have been the same for each shape. According to the researchers, the study seemed to “… confirm the growing literature on retroactive influences on cognition and emotions, where future events seem to have an anomalous, retroactive influence on responses and behavior in the present.”

The participants scoring the highest in intuitive thinking accounted for virtually all of the effect.

From: Dick J. Bierman and Aron Bijl, “Anomalous ‘Retrocausal’ Effects On Performance in a Go/Nogo Task,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 28, 9/30/2014

afterlifefilesThe Afterlife Files: Documentarians Todd Moster and Nancy Williams are working on a television docu-series titled: The Afterlife Files. Most information on TV about survival has been produced by mainstream media in what are really “for entertainment only” programs. Factual exploration of paranormal subjects is not always exciting, especially when science is involved and therefore it is often very difficult for this type of program to get funding. Many people are turning to public funding to fund these factual programs.

This is perhaps the best hope of the Spiritualist community to see a balanced presentation to the public about what is known about survival. You can see the pilot video for the program, which will be launched on the crowd-funding website at kickstarter.com on January 28, here: vimeo.com/115815330.

A Successful Life: Arianna Huffington was named by Forbes magazine in 2014 as the 52nd most powerful woman in the world. Huffington launched The Huffington Post in 2005. It was sold to AOL in 2011. Huffington writes that “More and more people are realizing we’re living our lives in a way that’s not sustainable.” She says that, in our working culture, busyness and sleep deprivation are held up by some as a badge of honor. She cites a study from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, showing that sleep deprivation reduces our emotional intelligence, self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, empathy toward others, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, positive thinking and impulse control. She writes about how stress affects our rates of disease and about how “It’s not an exaggeration to call meditation a miracle drug” A key path towards fulfillment, she argues, is through empathy and giving. “If our life’s journey is to evolve as human beings, there is no faster way to do it than through giving and service.” The view of “man as an exclusively material being” has dominated how we live our lives and what we consider success, Huffington says. “But today this is all changing. We have increasingly come to realize that there are other dimensions to living a truly successful life.”

From: “Arianna Huffington: ‘New science is validating ancient wisdom’” by Seán Dagan Wood, 2014, positivenews.org.uk/2014/wellbeing/16269/arianna-huffington-new-science-validating-ancient-wisdom/

othersidepressThe Otherside Press: A new initiative to unify the paranormal community has begun with publication of The Otherside Press Magazine. Because of the amount of unreliable information about things paranormal, there is a growing need for a reliable, authoritative source for “the real story” and real answers about The Otherside.”

Even in the first issue, you will find excellent and informative articles about a wide range of paranormal subjects. Tom Butler will be contributing a column titled “All Things Etheric” as the token philosopher. You can read the first issue at theothersidepress.com/.

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