Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kate Bartolotta - What Happens When Our Emotions Stay in Our Bodies

This is an excellent article from Kate Bartolotta, posted at the Good Men Project, on what happens to us when we keep emotions locked in the body rather than letting them flow through us as they arise.

For boys and men, this often means sadness, sorrow, grief, rejection and all of the other "soft" emotions that men are taught not to feel - "boys don't cry," "shake it off," or "c'mon, be tough," as just a few examples of the many ways boys are taught not to feel. For men, there are cliches such as "man up," "stiff upper lip," "put it behind you," or "suck it up."

In the words of the AA folks, what we resist persists. We need to stop resisting the feeling and expression of human emotions.

What Happens When Our Emotions Stay in Our Bodies

May 27, 2013
by Kate Bartolotta

It’s never too late to address unexpressed emotion stored in the body as pain, tightness, and discomfort.

When we look at the language we use to talk about emotional reactions, there is often a physical sensation associated as well: a lump in the throat, butterflies in our stomachs, a gut feeling, the weight of the world on our shoulders. This isn’t coincidental! Those visceral reactions are messages from our body.

We hear this referred to as “the mind-body connection.” It’s often associated with using the mind or positivity to help boost the immune system or physically feel better. While that is certainly a helpful boost, we shouldn’t ignore what our bodies can do to help heal our emotions.

Most of us can recall a time growing up where we were discouraged from releasing a painful emotion by well-meaning adults. Parents tell little boys to “be a tough guy” or “shake it off” when they get hurt, while women are encouraged and socialized to discuss their feelings. Our bodies hang on to what happens with our emotions—even if we’ve “talked ourselves out of it.” The physical and emotional impact of unexpressed pain is one that lasts. Unexpressed pain sticks around.

Below are some typical patterns of stored emotion in the body as recognized within the bodywork community. Each person has their own patterns as well, but these are some common patterns :

Infographic courtesy of Nutritional Solutions

Our bodies are aware of the things that our minds would like to push aside. The things that we have forgotten at a conscious level are still present all the time in our bodies. The good news is that it’s never too late to address these issues, and that the results can help with both physical and emotional pain.

A few steps we can take to release unresolved emotion:
  • Find a daily physical practice you enjoy. Notice I didn’t say “exercise.” Caring about our health and fitness is important, but the intention here is a physical activity that we love. It helps to choose an activity that quiets your mind a bit. For me, this is yoga. Many people find running to have a meditative quality. It could be as simple as a ten minute quiet walk where you pay attention to your breathing and the sensations in your body. 
  • Receive regular bodywork. Therapeutic massage and bodywork are some of the most effective ways I’ve seen (and experienced) for releasing stored emotion. When someone works on those knots in your shoulders you have from long held anger or stress, sometimes emotions will come up. I’ve had clients cry on my table—and sometimes they’ve known and shared why; other times, the pain is old and just hanging on in the muscles, waiting to be released. It’s important to remember that a massage therapist is a facilitator for these things—not a psychotherapist. Through bodywork, we can tap into these stored emotions and begin to process them ourselves, or if needed, with another professional. 
  • Make touch a part of your primary relationships. This sounds simple, obvious even. Unfortunately, we have become a very hands-off culture. Fewer and fewer of our daily interactions involve touch. As we rely on social media and smart phones for the bulk of our communication, our relationships often involve less physical contact than we need. Make a point of touching people on the arm or shoulder as you speak with them. Greet friends with a hug. Play a pick-up game of basketball instead of just watching the game. When we begin to remember that we are not just minds stuck inside a body, but body and mind working in concert, we can begin to heal old hurts in a deeper and lasting way.

~ Read more of Kate Bartolotta’s men’s health column, Body Wisdom, on The Good Life

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Son Learns About Life Through His Father's Death

Over at his Psychology Today blog, Going Out Not Knowing, David B. Seaburn, Ph.D., L.M.F.T. discusses being with his father the day he died, and the lessons he learned on life from being with father as he died.
I was forty-eight when he died. I am sixty-three now. I carry his pocket knife with me every day. At one time I lost his knife for two years so my brother bought me another one exactly like it. Now I can carry two. I have his watch on the night stand beside my bed.
Fatherloss is one of the most difficult experiences in many men's lives. One of the better books on this topic is Fatherloss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Deaths of Their Dads by Neil Chethik - you can read the introduction here.

The Day My Father Died

Being with my father when he died taught me more about life than death.

Published on November 9, 2013 by David B. Seaburn, Ph.D., L.M.F.T. in Going Out Not Knowing

November 11, 1998 dawned grey and cold. I had been staying with my brother and mother in Ellwood City, Pa. off and on for six weeks since my father had been diagnosed with acute leukemia. The doctor had given him six to eight weeks to live. It had been a long twenty-two years since my father had had a heart attack, years littered with health problems, years of caregiving for my mother. My father was eighty years old and proud of it. His brothers had all died before him, mostly of heart disease, one at the age of thirty-six. The day before he died was my parents’ fifty-sixth wedding anniversary, something that he was unaware of. We crossed our fingers that day, hoping he would live through it.

A few days before his death, my mother and I received a call in the middle of the night from my father’s nurse. She said he was restless and afraid and that we should come to the hospital. When we arrived, he was not afraid at all. In fact, he was smiling and more alert than he had been in many days. My mother and I stood by the bed talking with him. He joked that a beer would taste good about now. At one point he asked my mother to kiss him, which she did. Then he asked me to say a prayer, so the three of us held hands while I prayed.

That was his last lucid moment. He was unconscious most of the time after that.

I knew he was dying, but I did not recognize this as his goodbye. We had been making daily trips to the hospital for weeks and had fallen into the dying routine with its waiting, and watching, and remembering, and lunches at the hospital café, and stories, and laughter, and sadness, and silence. I realized later that I had assumed that my father would just go on dying, but never actually die.

On the morning of November 11 I took my dog, Abby, for a walk in the school yard near my parents’ house. We stopped and talked to a neighbor who asked all about my father. When I got back to the house, it was a little after 9am, a later start than usual. My mother wasn’t quite ready. My brother was on the road, his trucking job not allowing him time to be with us that morning, although he was with us emotionally throughout. I told my mother that I would go to the hospital, see how things were, and then come back to pick her up.

When I got to hospital, I checked in with the nursing staff at the desk to see how my father’s night had been. Then I went to his room where he lay on his back, his mouth open, his breathing slowed. I spoke to him as I always did, reporting on the weather, talking a little about how the Steelers were doing. I put some water on a tiny sponge and dabbed his lips. I cleaned his nose. Then I sat on the naugahyde lounger beside him. His breathing was labored. I listened to him exhale and waited anxiously for his inhale. I counted the seconds between each breath. One, two, three, four, more anxious now, five, six, seven, finally another inhale and I felt relieved. Again, and again, and again. This went on for several minutes. Around 9.20am----one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine--- I stood up and looked at Dad. I listened and watched. I placed my hand on his chest. By then I knew he had died. I held his hand, his fingers still soft and warm.


I had the strangest sensation (perhaps my last moment of denial) that my dad would wake up and tell me all about dying, what it was like, how it had gone, as if having triumphed over the last of life’s challenges, he could give me some wisdom about what to expect.

I was forty-eight when he died. I am sixty-three now. I carry his pocket knife with me every day. At one time I lost his knife for two years so my brother bought me another one exactly like it. Now I can carry two. I have his watch on the night stand beside my bed. When my wife and I watch our two little granddaughters (ages four and two), they love to play in our bedroom. The two-year old, Makayla, always stands on the bench beside my nightstand and puts my father’s watch on. It slides up to her armpit as she holds her arm up high. When she is done, she puts it back exactly where she found it.

When I was forty-eight, I hoped my father’s death would teach me about dying. At sixty-three, I think it has taught me mostly about living; that life is short but beautiful; that even though time is measured, there is enough, if you pay attention; and that everything that matters in life is here, now.

David B. Seaburn, Ph.D., L.M.F.T.

David B. Seaburn, Ph.D., L.M.F.T., served a rural country parish, worked in community mental health, was an assistant professor of psychiatry and family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center for twenty years, and directed a public school-based free family counseling center. He co-authored two professional books, Family-Oriented Primary Care (1990) and Models of Collaboration (1996), over sixty articles, and four novels: Chimney Bluffs (2012), Charlie No Face (2011—Finalist in General Fiction, National Indie Excellence Awards), Pumpkin Hill (2007), and Darkness is as Light (2005). He and his wife live near Rochester, NY. They have two adult daughters and two wonderful granddaughters.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Matthew Hoffman - When Being Thankful for Next to Nothing, Means Everything

Here is a nice post from Matthew Hoffman at the Good Men Project on being thankful when we have very little in the way of possessions for which to feel thankful. It's not about things . . . .

When Being Thankful for Next to Nothing, Means Everything

November 28, 2013 by Matthew Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman finds joy in a life uncluttered by material possessions.

Money, money, money! That’s what it’s all about, right? Or is it good looks? Washboard abs? How about being and staying young? Having a sweet car? What makes you happy? What are you thankful for?

Me? I’m thankful for nothing. OK, to be fair, I should say I’m thankful for almost nothing.

I grew up poor. Not living-on-the-streets-poor, but we were pretty bad off for a long time. And we never had extra. Until I was in my 20′s, almost everything we had was used, hand-me-downs, or something basic that mom and dad had struggled to save up for.

There are so many stories I could tell, so many examples I could give. Here are a couple of the more colorful ones:
The family legend has it that my father, who once owned a prosperous ambulance business in Bethlehem, PA, went bankrupt and the creditors came after everything we had. As the story goes my mother, a nurse by trade and a young mother of a four year old boy, and a newborn (me), was home when police and movers came into the house and took everything— including the crib I was sleeping in. Not surprisingly, my parents split up for a year or so after that. It was a real low point.

When the family came together again, we landed in Kutztown, PA, in a skinny, drafty little mobile home. We still called them trailers in those days, because ours could have been towed with a big pickup truck. On a particularly cold morning I found the dog’s water frozen on the kitchen floor. And yes, the heater was running. I’m pretty sure my chronic dislike of the cold comes from spending years in that awful trailer.

One Thanksgiving while living in that trailer, all my parents could afford to feed us were hamburgers. No turkey. No fixings. This was another low point, and my father vowed to always put a turkey on the table, one way or another.

Finally, I have some pictures of myself as a little boy in grade school wearing the most horrible fashions the 70′s had to offer. Since almost all our clothing was given to us, we were often given what others didn’t want to wear. To this very day paisley turns my stomach because I had to wear a stupid brown paisley button-down shirt over and over. Well, I shouldn’t complain. I had a green paisley button-down shirt, too. Sigh.
So yeah, we were poor.

Eventually things got better, but those experiences when I was three, five, ten, they’ve stayed with me. I remember at Christmas getting just a few presents, most of them fairly cheap, and sometimes one larger item. A refurbished bike. A large toy truck. Something like that. And for my birthday, which is less than a month after Christmas, I usually got a card, a song, and a homemade cake after dinner. No party. No friends over. Certainly no inflatable bouncy-house and a clown. That’s it, and it’s that very austerity of which I am thankful today.

My wife also grew up without much, being the daughter of Bible translators in a foreign land. We both know what it’s like to not have much, and to be thankful for what little we have.

Our family has one car. We rent a small house and make four people and three cats live in it. We grow some of our own food every summer. We don’t have cable. We recycle everything we can. Just this year we got our first iPhone—and only because it was a free upgrade. And even that feels like an opulent extravagance. We wash zip-lock bags and we don’t even buy tin foil or paper towels. And you know what? We’re happy with that.

I’m not trying to make my family sound good. We’re not the Hipsters of Humility trying to make you feel bad. Honest. We just grew up without much, so that’s actually how we choose to live. We find more joy in life by not being focused on ‘stuff’. I only wish others could have the same experience. To be able to reject materialism because it just isn’t something you need, that’s a true blessing. It’s liberating in a way that’s difficult to explain, but there are some plusses.

We live simply, so we have more energy, money and time to spend on family, faith and hobbies. We’re making a tiny little difference in the war to save the planet. We’re not comparing ourselves to others’ things, so we don’t feel like we’re inferior or missing out on something. And we’re not giving much money to big business, which makes us happy for different reasons.

And so I am thankful for nothing, or next to nothing. Because I grew up with so little, it’s like an old friend. And you can become friends with nothing as well. If the constant pursuit of “success” —whatever you think that is—has begun to seem futile, then join us.

Give in to the Null Side. We don’t have much, but we’re happy with what we have.

Photo: Flickr/Evelyn Lim

Being Truly Thankful

Beyond Counting Blessings
Being Truly Thankful

by Madisyn Taylor

Our gratitude deepens when we begin to be thankful for being alive during this time and living the life we are living.

Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.

It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.

We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mark Greene - The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer

Mark Greene, over at the Good Men Project, has written an excellent article on the lack of non-sexual (Platonic) touch in men's lives. This is a complicated issue. Men are often raised to believe that all touch with a female is sexual or should lead to sex. On the other hand, the same applies to same-sex touch, and the fear is that (1) a guy might actually enjoy it, and (2) it might mean he is gay.

All touch with women is not and should not be sexual - learning to make that distinction is important in relationships. Likewise, it is perfectly fine to receive a hug - a real hug, not the AA type hug or men's group hug - and enjoy it; it does not mean you are gay.

Greene gets into these issues below - it's worth the read.

The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer

November 4, 2013 by Mark Greene

In American culture, men avoid all contact rather than risk even the hint of causing unwanted sexual touch.

In preparing to write about the lack of gentle touch in men’s lives, I right away thought, “I feel confident I can do platonic touch, but I don’t necessarily trust other men to do it. Some guy will do something creepy. They always do.” Quickly on the heels of that thought, I wondered “Wait a minute, why do I distrust men in particular?” The little voice in my head didn’t say, “I don’t necessarily trust people to not be creepy”, it said, “I don’t trust men.”

In American culture, we believe that men can never be entirely trusted in the realm of the physical. We collectively suspect that, given the opportunity, men will collapse into the sexual at a moment’s notice. That men don’t know how to physically connect otherwise. That men can’t control themselves. That men are dogs.

There is no corresponding narrative about women.

Accordingly, it has become every man’s job to prove they can be trusted, in each and every interaction, day by day and case by case. In part, because so many men have behaved poorly. And so, we prove our trustworthiness by foregoing physical touch completely in any context in which even the slightest doubt about our intentions might arise. Which, sadly, is pretty much every context we encounter.

And where does this leave men? Physically and emotionally isolated. Cut off from the deeply human physical contact that is proven to reduce stress, encourage self esteem and create community. Instead, we walk in the vast crowds of our cities alone in a desert of disconnection. Starving for physical connection.

We crave touch. We are cut off from it. The result is touch isolation.

How often do men actually get the opportunity to express affection through long lasting platonic touch? How often does it happen between men? Or between men and women? Not a hand shake or a hug, but lasting physical contact between two people that is comforting and personal but not sexual. Between persons who are not lovers and never will be. Think, holding hands. Or leaning on each other. Sitting together. That sort of thing. Just the comfort of contact. And if you are a man, imagine a five minutes of contact with another man. How quickly does that idea raise the ugly specter of homophobia? And why?

While women are much freer to engage in physical contact with each other, men remain suspect when they touch others. There is only one space in our culture where long term platonic physical contact is condoned for men, and that is between fathers and their very young children.

I found this kind of physical connection when my son was born. As a stay at home dad, I spent years with my son. Day after day, he sat in the crook of my arm, his little arm across my shoulder, his hand on the back of my neck. As he surveyed the world from on high, I came to know a level of contentment and calm that had heretofore been missing in my life. The physical connection between us was so transformative that it changed my view of who I am and what my role is in the world. Yet it took having a child to bring this calming experience to me because so few other opportunities are possible to teach men the value and power of gentle loving touch.


As a young child and as a teenager, contact between myself and others simply didn’t happen unless it came in the form of rough housing or unwelcome bullying. My mother backed off from contact with me very early on, in part, I think, due to her upbringing. I can only guess that in her parents’ house physical touch was something for toddlers but not for children past a certain age. Add to that, the fact that my father was absent due to my parents’ divorce and years of work overseas, and it meant I grew up without being held or touched

This left me with huge insecurities about human contact. I was well into my twenties before I could put my arm around a girl I was dating without first getting drunk. To this day, I remain uncertain about where and how to approach contact with people, even those I consider close friends. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that it remains awkward, odd. As if we all feel like we’re doing something slightly… off?

Contact with male friends is always brief, a handshake, or a pat on the back. Hugs with men or women are a ballet of the awkward, a comedic choreography in which we turn our groins this way or that. Shoulders in, butts out, seeking to broadcast to anyone within line of sight that we are most certainly not having a sexual moment. We’re working so hard to be seen as sexually neutral that we take no joy in these moments of physical connection.

Not only do we men distrust others in this muddled realm of physical touch, years of shaming and judgement have left us distrusting ourselves. Did I enjoy that too much? Am I having taboo thoughts? This distrust leaves us uncertain about touching another human being unless we have established very clear rules of engagement. Often we give up and simply reduce those rules to being in a relationship. We allow ourselves long-lasting comforting touch with our girlfriends or boyfriends. The vast universe of platonic human touch is suddenly reduced to the exclusive domain of one person and is blended into the sexual. That’s a lot of need to put on one person, however loving and generous they might be.

Which leads to the question, how do we teach our sons to understand how touch works? How to parse out the sexual from the platonic? Is the pleasure of human contact inherently sexual to some degree? I doubt its a question the average Italian man would ever ask himself. But here in America, generations of Puritanical sexual shaming have made it a central question. By putting the fear of the sexual first in all our interactions, we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, avoiding all contact rather than risk even the hint of unwanted sexual touch.


Many parents step back from physical contact with boys when their sons approach puberty. The contact these boys seek is often deemed confusing or even sexually suspect. And, most unbelievable of all, all opportunity for potential physical touch is abruptly handed over to young boys’ female peers, who are suddenly expected to act as gatekeepers to touch; young girls who are no more prepared to take on this responsibility than boys are to hand it over.

And so boys are cast adrift with two unspoken lessons:
  • All touch is sexually suspect
  • Find a girlfriend or give up human contact
A particularly damning message to boys who are gay.

American culture leaves boys few options. While aggression on the basketball court or bullying in the locker room often results in sporadic moments of human contact, gentleness likely does not. And young men, whose need for touch is channeled into physically rough interactions with other boys or fumbling sexual contact with girls, lose conscious awareness of the gentle, platonic contact of their own childhoods. Sometimes it’s not until their children are born that they rediscover gentle platonic touch; the holding and caring contact that is free from the drumbeat of sex, sex, sex that pervades our culture even as we simultaneously condemn it.

Is it any wonder that sexual relationships in our culture are so loaded with anger and fear? Boys are dumped on a desert island of physical isolation, and the only way they can find any comfort is to enter the blended space of sexual contact to get the connection they need. Which makes sexual relations a vastly more high stakes experience than it already should be. We encourage aggressive physical contact as appropriate mode of contact for boys and turn a blind eye to bullying even as we then expect them to work out some gentler mode of sexual contact in their romantic lives.

If men could diffuse their need for physical connection across a much wider set of platonic relationships, it would do wonders for our sense of connection in the world. As it is, we can’t even manage a proper hug because we can’t model what was never modeled for us.


We have seniors in retirement homes who are visited by dogs they can hold and pet. This does wonders for their health and emotional state of mind. It is due to the power of contact between living creatures. Why are good hearted people driving around town, taking dogs to old folks homes? Because no one is touching these elderly people. They should have grandchildren in their laps every day, or a warm human hand to hold, not Pomeranians who come once a week. And yet, we put a dog in their laps instead of give them human touch, because we remain a culture that holds human contact highly suspect. We know the value of touch, even as we do everything we can to shield ourselves from it.
  1. We American men, have a tragic laundry list of reasons why we are not comfortable with touch.
  2. We fear being labeled as sexually inappropriate by women.
  3. We live in a virulently homophobic culture so all contact between men is suspect.
  4. We don’t want to risk any hint of being sexual toward children.
  5. We don’t want to risk our status as macho or authoritative by being physically gentle.
  6. We don’t ever want to deal with rejection when we reach out. (And in our touch averse culture that is the most likely outcome.)
But at the root of all these flawed rationalizations is the fact that most American men are never taught to do gentle non-sexual touch. We are not typically taught that we can touch and be touched as platonic expression of joyful human contact. Accordingly, the very inappropriate over-sexualized touch our society fears runs rampant, reinforcing our culture’s self fulfilling prophecy against men and touch. Meanwhile, this inability to comfortably connect via touch has left men emotionally isolated contributing to rampant rates of alcoholism, depression and abuse.

And what if the lack of platonic touch is causing some men to be far too aggressive toward women, who, as the exclusive gatekeepers for gentle touch are carrying a burden they could never hope to fully manage? Women, who arguably are both victims of and, in partnership with men, enforcers of the prohibition against platonic touch in American culture? The impact of our collective touch phobia is felt across our society by every single man, woman and child.

BrenĂ© Brown, in her ground breaking TED Talk titled The power of vulnerability talks at length about the limitations men face when attempting to express vulnerability in our culture. She notes the degree to which men are boxed in by our culture’s expectations about what a man is or is not allowed to do. I would suggest that the limitations placed on men extend to their physical expression though touch. And are just as damaging in that realm.


But here’s the good news.

There are many reasons why full-time stay at home dads are proving to be such a transformative force in American culture. One powerful reason is the awakening of touch. As full time dads, we are presented with the absolute necessity to hold our own wonderful children. We are learning about touch in the most powerful and life affirming way. In ways that previous generations of men simply were not immersed in. Once you have held your sleeping child night after night or walked for years with their hand in yours, you are a changed person. You gain a fluency and confidence in touch that you will never loose. It is a gift to us men from our children that literally has the capacity to transform American culture.

Accordingly, now, when I am with a friend I do reach out. I do make contact. And I do so with confidence and joy. And I have my own clear path forward.

The patterns in my life may be somewhat set but I intend to do everything I can to remain in contact with my son in hopes that he will have a different view of touch in his life. I hug him and kiss him. We hold hands or I put my arm around him when we watch TV or walk on the street. I will not back off from him because someone somewhere might take issue with our physical connection. I will not back off because somehow there is an unspoken rule that I must cut him loose in the world to fend for himself. I hope we can hold hands even when he is a man. I hope we continue to hold hands till the day I die.

Ultimately, we will unlearn our fear of touch in the context of our personal lives and in our day to day interactions. Learning how to express platonic love and affection through touch is a vast and remarkable change that has to be lived. But it is so important that we do it. Because it is central to having a rich full life.

Touch is life.

Follow Mark Greene on Twitter

For those who are interested, here are a few sources on the issues I raise here:

In an article in Psychology Today Ray B. Williams writes about the central role of touch in living happier, healthier lives:
Daniel Keltner, the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, says “in recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.” Keltner cites the work of neuroscientist Edmund Ross, who found that physical touch activates the brain’s orbitfrontal cortex, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion. Keltner contends that “studies show that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassion response…”
A clear indication of how central touch is in our emotional and cognitive development can be seen in the range of studies examining touch and infants (both human and animal), here summarized in an article titled The Importance of Touch in Development found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s web site. The article notes:
Developmental delay is often seen in children receiving inadequate or inappropriate sensory stimulation. For example, orphaned infants exposed to the bleakest of conditions in eastern European institutions exhibited impaired growth and cognitive development, as well as an elevated incidence of serious infections and attachment disorders (1) Much evidence now points to the importance of touch in child development and suggests the possibility that these orphaned infants are not suffering from maternal deprivation, per se, but from sensory deprivation, and more specifically a deprivation of mechanosensory stimulation.
Read more about the central role touch plays in human communication in this amazing article in Psychology Today titled The Power of Touch.

SEE ALSO: Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men of Touch

and Insisting Boys Learn Independence Creates an Isolating Trap for Men

Photo from the Comic Shop

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christian Thibaudeau - Built for Bad: Strength Circuits

From T-Nation, strength coach Christian Thibaudeau offers up a simple program based on percentages of one-rep-max (1RM) that combines low-rep/heavy weight with enough volume to stimulate muscle growth alongside increases in strength.

This is a five lift, five set, five days a week program - no variety other than reps and percentages of 1RM. But the volume is a bit high for most people, so be sure that you have at least five consistent years of weight training under your belt and some solid nutrition. Recovery is more about proper rest and proper nutrition than it is about supplements.

I did not include the final section of the article - it's little more than an advertorial for Biotest products, which are good products. You can see his supplement protocol at the link below.

Built for Bad: Strength Circuits

by Christian Thibaudeau | T-Nation   

Here's what you need to know . . .
• Coach Thibaudeau is always physically impressive, but he was at his all-time most muscular condition using strength circuits.
• Strength circuits provide the perfect balance of heavy loads, rep volume, and work density to produce the very best gain in strength, size, and leanness.
• The plan consists of 5 sets of 5 big lifts, performed 5 days per week as a circuit, using a progressive-intensity 5/4/3/2/1 rep scheme.
Using this program, I ended up weighing 232 pounds with veins on my abs. At five-foot eight, that's not bad. And it's definitely the biggest and most muscular I've ever been. The gains came so fast and consistently that every week, even every workout, I could feel myself growing and getting stronger.

I attribute a large amount of the gains I made from this program to Plazma.™ There's simply no way on earth that I could ever perform heavy whole-body workouts 5 days a week and recover without it. But beyond recovery, you still have to grow, and Plazma™ delivers gains like nothing I've ever experienced.

The Methods

The most important loading zone for building strength is sets of 1-3 reps using 88-100 percent of your max. The problem is, training in that zone lacks the rep volume required for making optimal size gains — but not by much. To achieve the added effect of maximum muscle growth, without limiting strength gains, simply add two sets of 4-5 reps using 80-82.5 percent of 1RM.

Performing strength circuits using a 5/4/3/2/1 rep scheme — each round decreasing the reps and increasing the weights on all exercises — provide the perfect mix of load, density, and volume for maximizing strength and hypertrophy, as well as shredding up.

With these strength circuits, you're going to finish strong every workout, which will lead to the greatest workout-to-workout progression. Your metabolic rate, insulin sensitivity, and recovery capacities will all be sky-high, while minimizing inflammation. This will put slabs of muscle on you while at the same time allowing you to perform at a high level on a daily basis.

Expect circuit number three (3 reps) to be the hardest. Get tough and power through it, because after that is when the magic happens. The last two sets will actually feel easier, so much so that you'll wonder if you forgot to add weight.

The set of 3 reps is where the activation of the nervous system surpasses the muscle fatigue. During the sets of 3, 2 and 1 there is partial muscle recovery occurring at the same time as neural activation. The result? At the end of the workout you are stronger than when you started.

Always chase performance, not fatigue.

Program Notes

1. This is a 6 week program designed to help you create maximal muscularity: a combination of size, strength and leanness.
2. You will train 5 days per week, Monday through Friday.
3. Each workout consists of 5 full-body strength circuits, using a 5/4/3/2/1 rep schedule, performed with minimal rest between sets and circuits.
4. A circuit consists of 5 exercises where you move through the circuit by performing one set of each exercise.
5. If your workout lasts over 40 to 45 minutes, you aren't trying hard enough.
6. Every week you will add weight to each exercise or die trying.
7. Move to another program after 6 weeks or when you stop progressing, whichever comes first.

The Program

Warm-up: Perform 3 sets of 3 reps on every movement, gradually increasing the weight on each set.

Monday / Wednesday / Friday

A1: Dead-Squat
A2; Bench Press
A3: High Pull
A4: Military Press
A5: Lat Pulldown

Circuit 1: 5 reps x 85%
Circuit 2: 4 reps x 87.5%
Circuit 3: 3 reps x 90%
Circuit 4: 2 reps x 95%
Circuit 5: 1 rep x 100%

• Perform 1 set of each exercise per circuit.
• Rest 30 to 60 seconds between exercises.
• Change weights between circuits in 2 minutes.
• Add 5 lb to exercises each new week.

Tuesday / Thursday

A1: Dead-Squat
A2: Bench Press
A3: High Pull
A4: Military Press
A5: Lat Pulldown

Circuit 1: 5 reps x 80%
Circuit 2: 4 reps x 82.5%
Circuit 3: 3 reps x 85%
Circuit 4: 2 reps x 90%
Circuit 5: 1 rep x 95%

• Perform 1 set of each exercise per circuit.
• Rest 30 to 60 seconds between exercises.
• Change weights between circuits in 2 minutes.
• Add 5 lb to exercises each new week.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The 75 Things Every Man Should Do (According to Esquire)

Okay, I don't put a lot of validity in lists like this one, but I scored myself anyway - 31 out of 75. Most of the ones I have not done I have no plan of every doing. Well, maybe a couple.

How many have you done? How many are now on your bucket list

The 75 Things Every Man Should Do

All the escapism a man might resolve to experience while living on this planet. And then some.

By Tom Chiarella

daily planner with writing on it

At least once in his life, a man should...

There is no checklist. Nothing on this list is that automatic. Every element here is a matter of the choices you make, the chances you take, the courage you are willing to show. You can trick yourself into thinking bungee jumping somehow satisfies those criteria, but willfully falling off a crane in a mall parking lot is more or less a rite of passage by now, isn't it? Maybe you call that a big moment. The trick is choosing to experience them all that way.

No. 1: Play rugby.
No. 2: Repair an appliance.
No. 3: Fly the red-eye from Vegas.
No. 4: Fly a Cessna.
No. 5: Make a list of seventy-five things you want to do before you die. It's hard.
No. 6: Fast for three days. Drink water.
No. 7: Drive the Great Ocean Road in southern Australia. Or the Pacific Coast Highway.
No. 8: Make a perfect omelet.
No. 9: Drive by yourself from coast to coast.
No. 10: Recognize the accomplishments of others.
No. 11: Do a flip off a diving board. Nail it.
No. 12: Leave yourself a letter in a library book. Look for it twenty years later.
No. 13: Watch a bad movie so often that when you see it by accident...
No. 14: Toboggan, aggressively.
No. 15: Scuba dive.
No. 16: Drink mescal in Mexico.
No. 17: Cultivate a reputation.
No. 18: Learn three to four chords on the guitar, until you can play one song.
No. 19: Live in a hotel suite for a week.
No. 20: Milk a cow. Drink that.
No. 21: Build a fence.
No. 22: Carry a totem in your pocket.
No. 23: Help someone dig out.
No. 24: Pick an animal. Something cool like a wolverine. Go see it in the wild.
No. 25: Shoplift.
No. 26: Throw a real party.
No. 27: Live outside the homeland.
No. 28: Start something that scares you.
No. 29: Choose a word or a phrase and actively work to never use it again.
No. 30: Eat mussels in Bruges.
No. 31: Break a sheet of plate glass with a ball-peen hammer.
No. 32: Cook the same thing (over and over) until you are known for it.
No. 33: Overspend.
No. 34: Have a threesome.
No. 35: Quit something you love.
No. 36: Take care of someone else's three-year-old for a day.
No. 37: Get very good at a sport that isn't a sport.
No. 38: Listen to war stories.
No. 39: Tell war stories.
No. 40: Write someone else's life story without mentioning yourself.
No. 41: Sing in public.
No. 42: Sell everything you don't need. Once.
No. 43: Play golf at Carnoustie.
No. 44: Play chess until you beat someone you shouldn't, then quit forever.
No. 45: Give up your seat.
No. 46: Kill, dress, cook, and eat wild game.
No. 47: Attend the funeral of someone you didn't know that well.
No. 48: Take a vow. Keep it.
No. 49: Eat a six-course meal that you prepared.
No. 50: Live at a high altitude.
No. 51: Spend some time working for tips.
No. 52: Overeat for a week.
No. 53: Make a movie, even a short one.
No. 54: Give a panhandler all of your money.
No. 55: Make beer, wine, or moonshine.
No. 56: Read Lolita.
No. 57: Have sex in a body of water.
No. 58: Ride a horse.
No. 59: Eat congee. Eat haggis. Eat tongue. Eat kidneys. Eat brain. Eat testicles.
No. 60: Walk twenty miles. Bring water.
No. 61-63: Go to the desert. Take long-lasting drugs. Drink water.
No. 64: Watch television for twenty-four hours uninterrupted.
No. 65: Save something from the dump.
No. 66: Climb something you are afraid of.
No. 67: Get a manicure.
No. 68: Eat a two-course meal that you grew.
No. 69: Get a deep-tissue massage.
No. 70: Sleep outside for a week.
No. 71: Put a hundred bucks on a long shot. To win.
No. 72: Go to Paris. Tell no one where you are. Stay there for two weeks.
No. 73: Raise a dog.
No. 74: Peg the speedometer.
No. 75: Bungee jump.