Monday, May 28, 2007

Good GABA!!!

Study Finds Yoga Associated With Elevated Brain GABA Levels

(Boston) - May 22, 2007-- Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.

The findings, which appear in the May issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, suggest that the practice of yoga be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels. The World Health Organization reports that mental illness makes up to fifteen percent of disease in the world. Depression and anxiety disorders both contribute to this burden and are associated with low GABA levels. Currently, these disorders have been successfully treated with pharmaceutical agents designed to increase GABA levels. Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, the researchers compared the GABA levels of eight subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga, with 11 subjects who did no yoga but instead read for one hour.

The researchers found a twenty-seven percent increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after their session, but no change in the comparison subject group after their reading session. The acquisition of the GABA levels was done using a magnetic resonance spectroscopy technique developed by J. Eric Jensen, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate physicist at McLean Hospital. According to the researchers, yoga has shown promise in improving symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and epilepsy. “Our findings clearly demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM and a research associate at McLean Hospital.“This study contributes to the understanding of how the GABA system is affected by both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and will help to guide the development of new treatments for low GABA states,” said co-author Domenic Ciraulo, MD, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at BUSM.“The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage,” added senior author Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.

This study was supported in part by grants from the national Institute of Drug Abuse; the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; the National Center for Research Resources, and the Gennaro Acampora Charity Trust to the Division of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Om! Orange!

In yoga, there has been much quoting of Thich Nhat Hanh. The first time I had read him was in Dr. Wattles' Intro. to Philosophy class freshman year of college. I had no idea what it was really about or even how to say his name. I was 18 and not very well read. But it spoke to me the most. It wasn't worded like Western Philosophy. It felt more like poetry in a way, more rooted in nature. It wasn't preachy and it didn't over simplify.

My practice today was full of ease. For the longest time, I didn't think I could bind because my arms seemed short to me---at least shorter than everyone else's. But lately, I've been able to do this pose here!
I'm learning that ancient wisdom of that little engine, that if you chug a little each day, you'll get there. Today we were reminded not to be tied up in the sorrows of the past, or to think too far into everything we have to do in the future. But to be in the moment and enjoy it.
Mark emailed me and told me were chugging along with the anthology and perhaps I'll even have a sample cover to post soon. And finally, good food and even better company in Chicago. Len and Jenn took Jonathan and I to Orange where I got to mix juice combinations to Ramona's heart's content.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chi-Town, The Next Round!

Here's a picture of mom and I at Hot Chocolate in Chicago---check out my new 'do! Tomorrow I'm off to Chicago again---went with mom last week for Mother's Day and these are the pics...the dessert looks good, but the company was better. Though today, it was all about the dark chocolate cake at Leopold's. Sorry Hot Chocolate, the hometown takes it!
Reb and I will be reading here at 7 p.m. on Tuesday May 22nd. I haven't done a reading in a while---seems as if I've almost forgotten about the book with teaching, writing fiction, wwph stuff---did a little bit of grant work so hopefully we'll get a small projects grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Maybe then we can afford an ad in Poets and Writers or get a table at AWP---though it always seems like these "big" and "established" places are more resume builders and I'm not sure if this is the best way to spend money. As I was running back from the "meeting" in Elizabeth's Ford Aspire, parked illegally outside the Mansion at O Street---I actually ran out in my pajama pants and had a college flashback---but I'm digressing---I ran into my neighbors across the way and we talked about how much work artists put in and it being such a labor of love. Luckily for me, I still love what I do and the bartending pays the bills.

Though as much as I like getting propositioned by drunks, getting tequilla spilled on me, and sweeping up broken glass, I wish for more big tips for writing---maybe that just means submitting to more contests and grants though! Ok, I'm ready for the next round.

Bottoms up!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Good News!

WWPH in the City Paper!

Larry Larry Bo Berry....

Last night was the awards ceremony for the Larry Neal Writing Awards. I really felt like I was taken back to high school speech and debate competitions. While it was exciting to be there, it just didn't seem like it was a night geared at all for adults. Sarah Browning and I took Honorable Mention while Regie Cabico and Fred Joiner took third and second respectively. Some woman none of us knew snagged the big prize. The best part was that my cousins were there cheering me on and we had dinner at Cafe Belga afterwards.

Sometimes I wonder about how much we have to go through as writers. There are so many contests and awards and it feels like there is always more you could be doing to promote yourself and get your work out there and garner enough fellowships and honors so that you're perceived as "qualified" and "talented." Though I know this is something everyone laments, that we all could do more, no matter what our professions are. What ever happened to Art for Art's sake?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not all bent out of shape about this---this is a minor ding in the frame, means it's time for me to just write and not think about sending things out, except for that big NEA grant :)

Now, if only I lived in Portland, I could have one of these ice cream sandwiches and feel better. Maybe I'll stop by Larry's on the way to Rouge---get out the bad Larry and in with the good Larry!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Law Prom Cat and Mouse!

While we were off dancing the night away....

Frank was throwing wild cat parties at home!!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Prose by Any Other Name

What I just realized about my fiction is that it is most often autobiographical in some nature--which is how I started writing poetry in the first place. Now, there's not so much "I" in my poetry. I think this is how writers begin. You start with the nucleus of yourself and move outward. This makes sense as my fiction writing is much younger than my poetry. I've been feeling guilty that it was National Poetry month and I was deep into my affair with prose. On Friday I told Jonathan I wanted to write a novel that made it into airport bookstores. I never had that ambition as a poet. That world was so much smaller---more sacred in a way. Or at least, less ambition. I keep turning out prose, but so far am keeping most of it to myself or at least only letting friends and family read it.

Last night we had a wonderful Burlesque--pictures will be up soon so check them out. I finally got to meet Alison Stine! Her chapbook came out of Kent State and she was a year older than me and for the longest time I wanted to be like her. Her poems reminded me of the narratives I wanted to tell. And watching them grow---they slip more into the surreal now---moving away from that epicenter of truth, meaning easy facts, stories, and memories. I wonder if this is how we all journey as writers. Starting out more grounded and tentative and then off into the swirling and twirling regions that lack the characteristics that compelled us to write in the first place. Jordan Davis and Mairead Byrne made me laugh, taking seemingly boring and daily objects and infusing them with humor and life. I had needed some good cheer and they really worked their magic on me. I also watched Jordan and Ali hold hands much of the night. It was their first reading together as a married couple. *Awww!*

This week is the big LAW Prom. This year my dress was on sale, but it's still designer and I can wear those fabulous silver shoes I bought on impulse because of the brand name, United Nude.