The Top 10 Good News Stories of 2014

The Top 10 Good News Stories of 2014

by Good News Network – December 30, 20140


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2014-graphic

In many respects 2014 was a rough year, with Ebola, the Islamic State, and deaths in Ukraine, but it was also one in which social media-inspired kindness, numerous health breakthroughs and positive trends took center stage at the Good News Network.

In Poland, for instance, where a paralyzed man re-grew nerve connections that let him walk again, doctors declared the day had come when spinal cord injuries became repairable. . . Here then, is our countdown of the Top Ten Good News stories of 2014:

10) Entertainment: Global Phenomenon Spurs “Happy” Dancing

80-odd-years-of-happy-YouTube-Pharrell-cropped

First released on November 21, 2013, the Pharrell Williams song, Happy, became a contagious interactive mantra of positivity in 2014. The bubbly song reached #1 in 24 countries and became one of the best selling singles of all time. However, it was the music video that Pharrell made showing people in L.A. dancing and miming to the lyrics that galvanized groups in cities across the world to create their own versions, like these from anelderly home, from engineers in London, and citizens in Belfast. Pharrell partnered with the United Nations to promote their annual International Day of Happiness in March, and by May, more than 1,950 videos from 153 countries had been created with people dancing and proclaiming, “I’m Happy”.

9) Business: A Polar Vortex of Generosity

snowed-in food deliveries for stranded driversWith bitter cold weather and snow hammering the usual northern cities but also places that don’t know how to handle icy roads, the “Polar Vortex” of 2014 brought out the best in businesses and citizens who wanted to help strangers who were stranded. A Pennsylvania pizza shop owner contacted the media to advertise his willingness to make deliveries of prescriptions or food to the elderly and disabled. After 39 inches of snow (100 cm) stranded cars near Tokyo, the driver of a bakery truck decided, since the delivery could not likely be completed by the sell-by date, he would give away all the pastries and breads to those stuck on the roadway. Snow blowing gangs of men in Detroit and aMissouri 12-year-old cleared the way for the elderly and a hero in Illinois was driving around jump-starting cars for free. Sweetest of all, Atlanta residents hearing reports of stranded motorists, brought hot cocoa and sandwiches to stunned drivers.

8) Science: Drones for Good

NASA-video-shows-drones-to-monitor-forestScientists and entrepreneurs are transforming the scary idea of drones into a service that can save lives. Aerial drone technology is being used in Europe to create flying ambulance toolkits that can speed a defibrillator to the scene of a cardiac arrest victim within a minute, when it would take an ambulance ten. An Iranian team have put their robotics expertise to work developing a lifeguard drone for use along the Caspian Sea coast, where more than a thousand people drown every year. Humanitarian drones are now delivering medical supplies and lab test specimens over roadless areasin Africa. And, a NASA engineer has created an unmanned vehicle to fly over great expanses of forest in Virginia searching for tiny wildfires before they blow up.

7) Sports: Twin Gives Up Olympic Spot So Sister Can Compete

skiing bianthlon Barnes sistersOf the many heartwarming Olympics stories this year, including Bode Miller making history as oldest skiier to ever win a medal, our favorite was the story of American Tracy Barnes who has competed together with her twin sister in world class biathlon events for 15 years. But this year, luck dealt Lanny Barnes a brutal blow as she fell ill and missed the qualifying races that could have earned her a spot on the five-person team. Tracy earned a spot but declined it, giving the chance to her sister.

6) Philanthropy: Charitable Nominations Go Viral on Social Media

kindness coffee to a homeless guy-RAKNominations-FBThe ALS ice bucket challenge caused a social media fundraising explosion this summer inspiring donations of $115 million for efforts to cure and treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). But because the trend wasted precious water, we liked the #RAKnomination craze that surfaced in February better. Out of a dangerous binge-drinking nomination game on Twitter that claimed the lives of several youth came an adaptation where a person would post a video, not of them drinking, but of doing a random act of kindness (RAK) and then nominate two friends to do the same. The #RAKnominations that inspired youth in Europe and Canada began in South Africa when Brent Lindeque decided to break the drinking game cycle, in favor of something that might show how powerful social media can be if used for good. He gave a huge sandwich, chocolate and a coke to a panhandler on the street. He filmed it, nominated two people and challenged them to do the same within 24 hours.

train-car-commuters-subway-rescue5) World: Commuters Use People Power to Push Trains and Lift Cars to Free Strangers

In August a commuter whose leg had disappeared into the space between a train and the platform was freed by his fellow passengers in Perth, Australia. Surveillance video shows dozens of passengers as they gathered around andtip the train enough to release his trapped limb. In November, a video from China documented the goodness of strangers when 20 people rushed to the aid of a woman run over by a car following a motorbike crash.

UNEP-image-ozone-layer-Earth4) Earth: Scientists Confirm Global Victory in Ozone Layer Recovery

“It’s a victory for diplomacy and for science,” and for the fact that all the nations in the world worked together, said the Nobel Prize chemist who first forecasted the ozone depletion in 1974. All the 197 nations of the UN pledged in 1987 to ban the chemicals that were destroying the Earth’s protective ozone layer, the first time anything was unanimously adopted by all members of the United Nations.

3) Community: Tiny Houses for the Homeless Catch On

Communities of tiny houses for the homeless have been popping up around the US. One opened in November in downtown Madison, Wisconsin — built by the very homeless individuals who will benefit, alongside members of Occupy Madison, who became aware of the homeless problem when they were encamped locally during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Six formerly homeless men now live at Second Wind Cottages, a cluster of tiny houses in Ithaca, New York set on property donated by an auto body shop next door. Even a fraternity is getting involved. The young men of Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Alabama have raised thousands of dollars for their initiative to create a communal villageof tiny homes somewhere in Huntsville. Other initiatives are popping up in Austin, Syracuse, New Jersey,St. Cloud, and Portland, Oregon.

2) Family: Girl Swept Away in Tsunami 10 Years Ago Reunited With Family

Raudhatul_Jannah-Indonesian-girl-reunited-w-familyRaudhatul Jannah was just 4 years old when the catastrophic tsunami roared into the Indonesian town of Aceh and swept her away. In August, the girl, who was by then 14, was reunited with her family after being raised by a fisherman’s elderly mother and spotted in a crowd by her uncle. In the days following media reports of the reunion, a woman recognized the resemblance to a homeless boy, which turned out to be their son Arif, who also rejoined his family after he was washed out to sea at age seven with his sister.

insulin-in-treating-diabetes1) Health: Diabetes Breakthrough-Scientists Coax Human Stem Cells Into Making Insulin

Since his infant son Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 23 years ago, Harvard scientist Doug Melton has dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease. On October 9 he announced that he and his colleagues had taken a giant leap forward, for the first time producing massive quantities of human insulin-producing cells. In trials with mice, he said, “We can cure their diabetes right away — in less than 10 days.”

We hope you agree that 2014 was a pretty good year. Please SHARE if you think so…
May good bless us even more in 2015.

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New Glasses Help the Color-blind to See Reds, Greens for First Time; Plus the Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week!

Happy New Year, Karah! So many opportunities to look forward to… I hope you make all your dreams come true. These stories are sure to inspire your way. xxoo, Geri

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Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Garbage Man Returns Gift Card, Family Repays His Kindness
    A sanitation worker in Colorado returned a Christmas present to a family who accidentally threw it out. And they rewarded his honesty in a way that really touched his life.
  2. New Glasses Help Color-blind to See Greens, Reds for the First Time
    New high-tech eyewear made by EnChroma, a Berkeley, California startup, is changing the worldview for people who suffer from color-blindness by allowing them to see reds, greens and violets accurately for the first time.
  3. Mysterious Notes Lead to Neighbor in Need – and Kindness Delivered
    A desperate woman was surprised when neighbors she’d never met showed up at her door bringing bags of groceries. It all started with a cryptic note left in several mailboxes around the neighborhood.
  4. Woman Spends 14 Years Photographing Earth’s Oldest Trees
    San Francisco based photographer Beth Moon has spent fourteen years capturing haunting images of ancient trees around the world. The pictures include some that are more than a thousand years old–like these fantastical dragon’s-blood trees found only on an island off the Horn of Africa.
  5. Soldier’s Letter Details WWI Christmas Day Truce 100 Years Ago
    "Dearest mother, I have seen one of the most extraordinary sights…" So begins a letter from a WWI soldier in 1914 who witnessed the 2-day Christmas Truce. The letter just published confirms a Christmas Day football match 100 years ago today, between warring sides, England and Germany, as seen through the eyes of a soldier for the first time.
  6. Customers Buy a Car For Their Favorite Bagel Shop Employee
    Shirley Ratliff, who always has a smile for every customer, takes three buses to get to her job — opening a Raleigh, North Carolina bagel shop at 5 a.m. each day. Recently, twenty of her customers showered her with appreciation for that dedication, surprising her with a car. (WATCH)
  7. Jazz Greats Converge on Hospital to Play for 94-yo ‘Maestro’s’ Birthday
    Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trekked for four hours from Fayetteville, Arkansas to surprise the great trumpet player Clark Terry. An emergency had landed Terry, who is blind and ailing, in the hospital days before a planned 94th birthday celebration, but the band was determined to pay homage to their "maestro", no matter the location. (Video)
  8. Racer Turned Quadriplegic Beats Odds With Triumphant Recovery
    Fifteen years after a motocross accident, Aaron Baker lives a life that medical professionals never believed possible. The professional racer deemed a complete quadriplegic after a training accident in 1999, Baker is now fully independent, walking with just a cane, and accomplishing feats of endurance, from riding a tandem bicycle across the country, to independently walking 20 miles across Death Valley.
  9. Letter Mix-Up Leads To Boy’s Trip of A Lifetime With Kind Sheriff
    A little boy whose mom is "too sick to do stuff" desperately wanted to go hunting with anybody who might want to teach him. So when he saw an invitation from the Chester County Sheriff on Facebook, he jumped at the chance and wrote a letter. But there was one problem: The sheriff lived in Chester County, South Carolina — not Chester County, Pennsylvania. Alex was heartbroken until some big-hearted folks stepped in to provide an "awesome" 2-day trip. (Watch)
  10. 27-Year-old Donates Lottery Ticket Winnings to Animal Shelter
    Bryce Vucekovich surprised workers at the Dallas animal shelter, arriving with a pickup truck loaded down in food, litter and other necessities for the dogs and cats living there.

Top Video: Amazing Artist With Cerebral Palsy ‘Paints’ With a Typewriter


A man who lived with a severe disability for decades in an Oregon nursing home created a collection of amazing artwork using only a typewriter. Paul Smith was born in 1921 with cerebral palsy, but could still type using one finger, and the ‘paintings’ he created are extraordinary. (WATCH the inspiring video)

Christmas Giving Top 10 Good News of the Week!

Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Employees Donate From Paychecks for 6 Months to Help Strangers
    A group of 55 employees donated money from their paychecks for six months to buy a wheelchair accessible van for someone they didn’t even know, a family of seven who has a little boy with a rare genetic disorder. They surprised the family with a big, new MV-1 parked outside their home two days before Thanksgiving.
  2. She Invented Amazing Car That Wheelchair Users Can Just Drive Away
    A woman in a wheelchair wanted to help people like her to become more independent, so she designed and is now manufacturing an innovative electric car that provides easy access and drivability, without ever getting out of your chair. Stacy Zoern, an attorney in Texas, quit her job to build her new company, Kenguru.
  3. Troopers Drive 87-year-old Across Utah to See Her Ailing Son
    An 87-year-old woman rushing to see her son, who was in critical condition in a Salt Lake City hospital 350 miles away, got pulled over for a traffic violation by a Utah State Trooper — and then she backed her vehicle into his patrol car. It turned out to be a blessing for the white-haired mother, and one that set off a chain reaction of professional courtesy.
  4. ‘You’ve Gotta Be Kidding,’ Server Told Man Who Replaced Her Old Car
    Her car was barely drivable after multiple run-ins with deer on roadways, but as a server at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, she didn’t know how she would pay for repairs. Then, her boss asked her to drop her tray and come outside. A couple from Arkansas who’d seen her come to work in the shabby car was standing next to a silver Ford with a red bow on it.
  5. Generous Stranger Pays Off Every Layaway Debt at Toys-R-Us
    At the Toys-R-Us store in Bellingham, Massachusetts a complete stranger became an angel for 154 customers. A woman this week walked into the store and told a cashier she wanted to pay off a layaway balance. "Which one?" she was asked. "All of them," she replied. For a total of $20,000.
  6. Tortoise Fitted With Lego Scooter to Help Him Walk
    Not content to see him living in a terrarium, a German pet owner took her tortoise to a veterinarian when he was having mobility issues. The doctor used Legos belonging to his son to fashion a temporary device with wheels to help the animal propel himself forward. (WATCH)
  7. Kind Off-duty Cop Takes Elderly Widow on Her Weekly Shopping Trips
    Officer John Holder and a 73-year-old widow formed an unlikely friendship six months ago, after multiple surgeries left her recovering on her own. Every week, the cop, who is white, took the black woman to doctors appointments and to run errands, mostly while off-duty. No one knew about this until a shopper snapped a photo and it went viral.
  8. Tampa Lawyer Holds Contest to Give Free Home to Family in Need
    A Florida attorney who helps families fight foreclosure, wants to help a family in a major way this holiday season. Mark Stopa plans to give away a home to a Florida family in need.
  9. Company Gives Boy Who Loves UPS a Mini Brown Truck to Drive
    A 4-year-old Colorado boy who is crazy about trucks, for some reason became enthralled with the big brown delivery truck and the UPS driver, "Mr. Ernie." A strong bond of friendship grew to the point where the boy would hear the truck coming and be waiting on the curb, each time with the same wild excitement. Recently the man in brown delivered a dream come true for the boy. (MUST-SEE Video)
  10. Ala Police Deliver 2 Truckloads of Groceries to Woman Who Stole Eggs
    An Alabama police officer is being hailed for his kindness after he not only bought the eggs that a woman tried stealing to feed her family, but surprised her at home with two truck loads of groceries. (Video)

Top Video: Cops Pull Over Drivers to Give Them Gifts On Their Wish Lists


A Michigan police department used a hidden microphone to summon Christmas presents out of thin air during traffic stops with unsuspecting motorists. And the video is so beautiful, you’ll want to hug your screen. The shocked looks on people’s faces when they realize they are not getting a ticket, and instead see gifts appear from their shopping lists, is amazing.
(This had us crying for joy!)

Top 10 Good News of the Week :) Curry Power: Turmeric Compound Boosts Brain Cell Growth

Depending on where you are in the world, you may be able to view a full lunar eclipse tomorrow. Called a "Blood Moon", it will appear early Wednesday morning for North Americans and in the evening for Australians and East Asians. Check out the times here (and see the April eclipse photo by Christian Ronnel). Happy Full Moon in Aries! xxoo – Geri

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Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Quadriplegic’s Recovery Could be a Medical Breakthrough
    Russ Evans, 25, was a quadriplegic 10 weeks ago, the former athlete can now move his feet, fingers and arms. He received a drug that may be a breakthrough for treating spinal injuries.
  2. Instead of Issuing a Ticket, Michigan Cop Buys Car Seat for Family
    When a family in Battle Creek, Michigan couldn’t pay their bills after falling on hard times, their car was repossessed with the daughter’s booster seat still inside. While traveling in a friend’s car, the young mom was pulled over by an Emmett Township officer. After hearing her story, instead of writing a ticket, he told her to follow him to a Walmart, and bought her a new car seat. (w/ Video)
  3. Football Star More Proud of His Reading Than His Playing
    One of the best wide receivers in US college football met Kathy Rackley by chance at a bookstore. She had no idea who he was and began telling him about her book club. Malcolm Mitchell, who was trying to improve his reading skills, insisted on joining, even though the club members were all older women. (Great Video)
  4. Scientists Create Crystal That Would Allow You to Breathe Underwater
    Bulky oxygen tanks and face masks may no longer be needed to breathe underwater, thanks to the creation of the "Aquaman Crystal" at the University of Southern Denmark. Just one spoon of the substance is enough to store all the oxygen in a room and then release it again when and where it is needed.
  5. London’s Red Phone Box Goes Green as Solar Charging Station
    Some of London’s iconic red telephone boxes are being transformed into free solar-powered mobile phone charging stations painted green, the brainchild of two graduates of the London School of Economics.
  6. Curry Power: Turmeric Compound Boosts Brain Cell Growth
    Scientists have found that a chemical component in the spice turmeric–commonly used in Indian cuisine and curries–increases the regeneration of new brain neurons. Previous studies have shown that a chemical found in turmeric and curry has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that may be useful in treating a variety of diseases.
  7. The First Ever Baby Born to a Woman After Uterus Transplant
    In a historic first, a baby was born to a woman after she received a womb transplant from a post-menopausal donor, the successful outcome of a fertility project at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
  8. Firefighters’ Simple Act of Kindness Helps Elderly Woman Stay Safe
    After responding to a call on September 20 to assist an elderly resident who had fallen in her yard, a crew from City of Santa Barbara Fire Department had an idea of how to prevent future tumbles. The Mesa, California woman tripped on the the overgrown shrubs lining the walkway, so Engine #6 returned a few days later to do some yard work.
  9. High School Football Coach Loans Quarterback to the Opposing Team
    When a Brandon, Mississippi high school football team lost their quarterback to injury during a game, the opponents’ coach offered up one of his own quarterbacks, who led them back from a 21-0 deficit with 2 touchdowns, demonstrating sportsmanship to everyone on the field and stands. (w/ Video)
  10. Baby Elephant Falls in a Ditch – Herd Races to the Rescue
    A cute video captured by visitors to the Switzerland zoo in Zurich shows a two-month-old baby elephant falling into a ditch. She can’t get up, but within seconds, the adult herd rushes to her aid, turning her upright like a toy.

Top Video: World’s First Surviving Panda Triplets Thrive in China

The world’s only surviving panda triplets to be born in captivity are now out of danger having reached the two-month-old mark. They are growing quickly — and more cute — every day. [This photo shows them at just 1 month old.]

(Watch them visit with the Today show)

Join Patricia Anne Davis in an interview with The Shift Network Radio August 31!

Karah Pino:

Hope you can enjoy this talk by Navajo Wisdom Keeper, Patricia Anne Davis, a powerful teacher about Peace and the Wisdom of the Natural World.

Originally posted on Native American Concepts:

Please listen to my Interview with The Shift Network Radio Interview

Spirituality & Peace Sunday: The Blessing Way is Living The Loving Way with Patricia Ann Davis, MA ~ lInternational Teacher and Traditional Healer

Teleseminar date: Sunday Aug 31, 10:00am to 10:45am US Mountain time

Join the Webcast to listen to the live call! »

Your dial-in number and PIN for all of the Summer of Peace Summit sessions are:

If you’ll be listening over the internet instead of on the phone, click on the links in the schedule above – or you can always click through to the webcast from the program page or cut and paste this url in your web browser for program information: http://summit.summerofpeace.net/program

LINK to my Interview: http://summit.summerofpeace.net/program/123

LINK to website: http://summit.summerofpeace.net/

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Lion, Tiger and Bear Are Best Friends, PLUS, The Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week!

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Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Knitters Answer a Call for Nests to Save Baby Birds
    A California nonprofit that treats a thousand wild baby birds each year, made a request in April for local knitters to weave bird nests for the orphaned chicks the organization cares for every spring. Knitters went wild, donating 540 nests to keep the orphans warm with the soft feeling of a natural nest. (Photos)
  2. Dutch Man Leads Dehydrated Swan Family to Pond
    A 63-year-old Dutch man was surprised but worried when he awoke to find a family of nine swans drinking from the ditch. A local drought had dried up most of his yard so Jos Maas decided to help. Believing them to be lost, he asked them to follow as he walked toward the road. Father, mother and seven chicks waddled after him.
  3. Foster Families Find Support with Elders in Housing CommunityAbout 15 percent of seniors in the U.S. live near the poverty line and many struggle to find affordable housing. But a unique community in Oregon is offering low-income seniors reduced rents, in exchange for volunteering their time with foster families.
  4. Photo of the Day – Lion, Tiger and Bear Are Best Friends
    A lion, a tiger and a bear (oh, my!) have all become best friends at Noah’s Ark Animal sanctuary in Georgia, since being rescued as cubs from a drug dealer’s basement. The trio is known collectively as BLT.
  5. Restaurant Owner Pays $144K to Employees Out of Pocket After Fire
    40 employees of Culver’s restaurant in Platteville, Wisconsin wondered if they would still have a job after the building was destroyed by fire last November. Bruce Kroll owned Culver’s for 19 years. Instead of forcing all his employees to find new jobs, he made the decision to continue paying them.
  6. Orphaned Elephant Thrives With Buffalo Family That Adopted Her
    An elephant named Nzou, orphaned when poachers killed her parents for their ivory, has become the towering gentle giant among her adopted family, a herd of water buffalo. For years Nzou eschewed the nearby elephant herd, preferring to stay with the buffalo.
  7. Oyster Shell Recycling Program Opens for New Orleans Restaurants
    A new oyster recycling program for restaurants in New Orleans will be helping to restore oyster reefs and shoreline habitat along the the Louisiana Gulf coast.
  8. Teen Creates Backup Emergency System for Local Fire Station
    An 18-year-old in Palm Harbor, Florida came up with a project to earn his Eagle Scout rank that also will provide critical backup communications for emergency responders should 911 communications ever fail.
  9. The YMCA Changes One Family’s Life Forever
    The local YMCA summer reading program did much more than help 7-year old Joy to improve her reading skills. Involvement in the Tampa, Florida Y gave her courage to come out of her shell and to let people know about the hardship that she, her mom, and brother, were facing.
  10. Kind Woman Pays for Diapers in Mom’s Cart After Price-Match Fails

    An energetic grandmother decided to step in and help a thrifty young mother who had been ‘counting her pennies’ at a South Dakota Walmart store. It was a random act of kindness, a private moment between the two women, but a watching stranger caught the scene on video.

Top Video: Guy Pretends to Be Homeless, Then Rewards Whoever Gives Money



A young man with a YouTube channel wanted to reward people who were handing money to homeless people because, he says, "Thousands of people give everyday and it goes unnoticed." (Watch them get their rewards)

Inspiration Point


"Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."

– J. Willard Marriott

Man Drives Truck Across Country Rescuing Dogs; Plus, Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week!

Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Family Comforted By Mystery Letter After Home is Burned Down
    They lost their dream home in the San Diego fires this week but found something in the rubble left by a stranger that restored their spirits and their community’s hope as well.
  2. Man Drives Truck Across Country Rescuing Dogs
    Twice a month Greg Mahle leaves his home in Zanesville, Ohio to drive a semi-trailer through Texas and other southern states picking up dogs set to be euthanized. He sleeps on a mattress among the dozens of dogs until he reaches states like Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont, where loving families are waiting to adopt them.
  3. Viewer’s Generosity Changes Afghan Boy’s Life
    Caught in an Afghanistan firefight, 12 year-old Obaid lost both his legs, but refused to give up. He was being measured for prosthetic limbs by the Red Cross when NBC News first featured his story in a televised report. A Boston-area grandmother was touched by what she saw and decided to help from 7000 miles away.
  4. Border Collies Help Reduce E. Coli on Beaches
    Booming gull populations near Lake Michigan has led to swim advisories and beach closings because of the abundance of E. coli bacteria in the sand and water. A team of Central Michigan University students have devised an environmentally friendly solution involving border collies. The success is a win-win.
  5. Teachers Left Speechless As Stranger Picks up Tab for Autism Students
    A school trip to a local restaurant turned into an emotional and wonderful experience for a group of students with autism this month, thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
  6. 7 Body Pains You Should Never Ignore
    Pain management specialist Dr. Houman Danesh of Mt. Sinai Hospital says there are some pains that you should never ignore. Here’s how to recognized them.
  7. Firefighter Who Saved Infant Finally Meets Girl, Now 18, at Graduation At graduation, for the first time, 18-year-old Skyler James got to meet the firefighter who, on a bitterly cold November morning in 1995, found her — a newborn baby — abandoned beneath a snow-laden pine tree in an Illinois cemetery.
  8. Quadruple Amputee Stuns TV’s Mike Rowe: ‘I’m not a victim’
    American soldier Travis Mills served three tours in Afghanistan until he lost his arms and legs in a bomb explosion. The retired US Army staff sergeant spent months recuperating, but don’t dare call him a wounded warrior. (You must see this man’s attitude!)
  9. Community Pours Love on Family of 6 Who Lost Everything
    After the wildfire outbreak in Southern California last week, NBC shared the story of one family who escaped with their lives. Everything they owned was destroyed, but their community rewrote the script.
  10. US Airmen Adopt Little Girl with Special Needs From Ukraine
    The Air Force couple expressed strong feelings about the need for good homes for orphans, especially in Eastern Europe. So, Tech. Sgt. Jamie Meadows-Valley traveled to a Ukrainian orphanage, even dodging street protests, to adopt a 2-year-old girl with special needs. Since then, the tiny girl named Oleksandra has made remarkable strides.

Top Video: Mama Bear Plucks Baby Cub From Highway (Don’t Miss!)


Ricky Forbes was driving through Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, when he spotted a black bear cub sitting dangerously close to the highway. He stopped to record video of the cub and suddenly the mother popped up from behind the concrete barrier to rescue the baby.
(Good Mama – Looks Both Ways)

Research method integrates meditation, science: the meditation experience does not have to be subjective.

[Brown University] —

Mindfulness is always personal and often spiritual, but the meditation experience does not have to be subjective.

Advances in methodology are allowing researchers to integrate mindfulness experiences with brain imaging and neural signal data to form testable hypotheses about the science — and the reported mental health benefits — of the practice.

A team of Brown University researchers, led by junior Juan Santoyo, will present their research approach at 2:45 p.m on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the 12th Annual International Scientific Conference of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Their methodology employs a structured coding of the reports meditators provide about their mental experiences. That can be rigorously correlated with quantitative neurophysiological measurements.

“In the neuroscience of mindfulness and meditation, one of the problems that we’ve had is not understanding the practices from the inside out,” said co-presenter Catherine Kerr, assistant professor (research) of family medicine and director of translational neuroscience in Brown’s Contemplative Studies Initiative. “What we’ve really needed are better mechanisms for generating testable hypotheses – clinically relevant and experience-relevant hypotheses.”

Now researchers are gaining the tools to trace experiences described by meditators to specific activity in the brain.

“We’re going to [discuss] how this is applicable as a general tool for the development of targeted mental health treatments,” Santoyo said. “We can explore how certain experiences line up with certain patterns of brain activity. We know certain patterns of brain activity are associated with certain psychiatric disorders.”

Structuring the spiritual

At the conference, the team will frame these broad implications with what might seem like a small distinction: whether meditators focus on their sensations of breathing in their nose or in their belly. The two meditation techniques hail from different East Asian traditions. Carefully coded experience data gathered by Santoyo, Kerr, and Harold Roth, professor of religious studies at Brown, show that the two techniques produced significantly different mental states in student meditators.

“We found that when students focused on the breath in the belly their descriptions of experience focused on attention to specific somatic areas and body sensations,” the researchers wrote in their conference abstract. “When students described practice experiences related to a focus on the nose during meditation, they tended to describe a quality of mind, specifically how their attention ‘felt’ when they sensed it.”

The ability to distill a rigorous distinction between the experiences came not only from randomly assigning meditating students to two groups – one focused on the nose and one focused on the belly – but also by employing two independent coders to perform standardized analyses of the journal entries the students made immediately after meditating.

This kind of structured coding of self-reported personal experience is called “grounded theory methodology.” Santoyo’s application of it to meditation allows for the formation of hypotheses.

For example, Kerr said, “Based on the predominantly somatic descriptions of mindfulness experience offered by the belly-focused group, we would expect there to be more ongoing, resting-state functional connectivity in this group across different parts of a large brain region called the insula that encodes visceral, somatic sensations and also provides a readout of the emotional aspects of so-called ‘gut feelings’.”

Unifying experience and the brain

The next step is to correlate the coded experiences data with data from the brain itself. A team of researchers led by Kathleen Garrison at Yale University, including Santoyo and Kerr, did just that in a paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in August 2013. The team worked with deeply experienced meditators to correlate the mental states they described during mindfulness with simultaneous activity in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). They measured that with real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging.

They found that when meditators of several different traditions reported feelings of “effortless doing” and “undistracted awareness” during their meditation, their PCC showed little activity, but when they reported that they felt distracted and had to work at mindfulness, their PCC was significantly more active. Given the chance to observe real-time feedback on their PCC activity, some meditators were even able to control the levels of activity there.

“You can observe both of these phenomena together and discover how they are co-determining one another,” Santoyo said. “Within 10 one-minute sessions they were able to develop certain strategies to evoke a certain experience and use it to drive the signal.”

Toward therapies

A theme of the conference, and a key motivator in Santoyo and Kerr’s research, is connecting such research to tangible medical benefits. Meditators have long espoused such benefits, but support from neuroscience and psychiatry has been considerably more recent.

In a February 2013 paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Kerr and colleagues proposed that much like the meditators could control activity in the PCC, mindfulness practitioners may gain enhanced control over sensory cortical alpha rhythms. Those brain waves help regulate how the brain processes and filters sensations, including pain, and memories such as depressive cognitions.

Santoyo, whose family emigrated from Colombia when he was a child, became inspired to investigate the potential of mindfulness to aid mental health beginning in high school. Growing up in Cambridge and Somerville, Mass., he observed the psychiatric difficulties of the area’s homeless population. He also encountered them while working in food service at Cambridge hospital.

“In low-income communities you always see a lot of untreated mental health disorders,” said Santoyo, who meditates regularly and helps to lead a mindfulness group at Brown. He is pursuing a degree in neuroscience and contemplative science. “The perspective of contemplative theory is that we learn about the mind by observing experience, not just to tickle our fancy but to learn how to heal the mind.”

It’s a long path, perhaps, but Santoyo and his collaborators are walking it with progress.

Meditation: Our Quest for Love

Bruce Davis, Ph.D From Huffington Post

Some people are always in their worldly life. They say they either do not have time for meditation or they do not believe in sitting, breathing,paying attention to the moment. The idea of an inner life is like a foreign country that does not interest them to travel to.

In recent years, however, more and more people are trying meditation. After experiencing the tastes and delights of an inner landscape they find this foreign travel is not so foreign. In fact, meditation is just the opposite. It is an experience of coming home within ourselves. With less worldly distraction, our awareness finds its own essence, an innocence of simply being. When the details on our mind are not so busy occupying and stirring up our attention, an experience of our heart is naturally present. Love comes forward in our awareness. People who meditate discover love is their true awareness when all the stuff of daily life is not mixed in.

Every day, meditation and the calming, centering effects call more love from within us and into our lives. Yes, meditation invites love into our lives.There is no magic here. A brief time of morning meditation including simplicity, being, silence becomes an anchor for more simple being and peace in our lives. Love attracts love. As meditation becomes a priority so does love become more front and center.

As we take time for meditation, our awareness learns to rest in our heart. We are thinking less and being heartfully more present. In the silence of meditation, our noisy thoughts dissolve in an inner quiet. So much thinking welcomes peace and quiet. Our awareness naturally grabs the stillness of meditation like a child grabbing candy! The sweetness of no thought is just too good to pass by. Of course the world keeps tugging on us. But with our meditation practice, the way to the candy store becomes clearer, easy, and fun. We know it is there. We just have to take the time, close our eyes, and go there.

The simplicity of our journey into meditation becomes a lesson in simplicity in other parts of life. Simplicity is love’s best friend. There is no limit to where simplicity and love, where this relationship can lead us.

With meditation, each of us find our own special way to uncover our ground of being. A candle, ocean view, sacred altar, mantra, or simple silence and meditation begins. Underneath our complicated personality, our likes, dislikes, fears, and self importance, our awareness can just be. As we grab onto inner silence, our thoughts are untying. As the rope of our mental life loosens, meditation opens the heart. As we enter, we are free. The inner quiet washes our personality. The deep silence of meditation is perfect therapy, healing, restoring love into the very structure of our personality and life.

There is an inner vault. It is a place where our daily world cannot enter. I use the word “vault” because even though there are actually no walls, the boundary to this place is so true, nothing but silence, being, awareness can be present. This place is available to all of us. This inner vault is a solid place of complete quietude. Here God is absorbing us and we are absorbing God. There is no separation. Meditation is the most direct route. As we leave our daily world behind, the gentle wind of our breath and stillness of heart take us. An inner space opens. Meditation lessens the weight of our personality as we embrace this vault of inner stillness. There is an emptiness which is actually a warm, pure presence. Deep silence and this inner vault comes forward. Deep silence and the landscape of the heart inside our heart unveils. Here there is a vastness and quality of love that is other worldly yet very natural, as if always waiting for us.

As where before we would chase riches in the world, in meditation we begin to unearth inner riches. In our ground of being is real treasure. Here is an abundance which gives us generosity, humility, and gratitude. Our patterns, routines in worldly life begin to change. Much of who we think we are, what we do is only a habit of thought and doing. The treasure inside us changes all of this and that, changing much of what we think, feel,strive for, and hold onto as important.

This inner treasure is our source of more honesty, humor, patience, and kindness for ourselves and others. Our normal identity and priorities are transforming. Vacations, retreats, retirement is planned around life’s real treasure.It is rather easy to step aside from the distractions in daily life, at least for some days. Getting by our own mental distractions is more of a challenge. Compulsive thoughts, our ever wandering mind can seem so overwhelming. Here our intention is important. Lets seek real peace and quiet. Our focus and concentration helps tame our distractions. Lets practice receiving our heart essence. This gentleness within tames our nervous energy. The peace around us supports us to find and receive deep inner silence. Step by step, meditation is breaking habits of thought and compulsively doing for the special love of simply being.

Follow Bruce Davis, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/silentstay

More doctors embrace meditation as medicine

As evidence of its effectiveness grows, more doctors are prescribing meditation to help boost the body’s healing powers.

The stress of caring for her ailing parents, then grieving their deaths eventually caught up with Sharyn Resvick.

She suffered from shooting pain in her shoulder from a pinched nerve. Worse, she could feel her heart pounding and battled feelings of panic.

“My body just crashed,” said Resvick, 55, of Plymouth.

Instead of going on medication, she took a different tack: meditation.

Her remedy of choice was endorsed by her doctor, who scanned her heart to rule out other issues, then suggested she use mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) — a popular meditation program — to manage her symptoms.

As with yoga a decade ago, meditation is slowly expanding beyond its fringe following, appealing to a wider audience, even in the data-driven medical world. More doctors are prescribing meditation to help treat anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure and manage pain, according to a recent study by the Harvard Medical School. It’s one of several studies showing that meditation can actually alter how the brain works.

“It’s that kind of scientific research that really changes physicians’ minds,” said Dr. Henry Emmons, a Minneapolis psychiatrist and author of “The Chemistry of Joy” and “The Chemistry of Calm.”

The trend has gained a foothold especially among health professionals, some of whom practice meditation themselves to cope with the demands of their stressful occupations. Ever so gradually, they’ve moved from practicing the technique to preaching it.

For a long time, doctors who meditated were quiet about it, said Dr. Selma Sroka, medical director of Hennepin County Medical Center’s Alternative Medicine Clinic.

“It wasn’t professional. It wasn’t medical to talk about it,” she said. “I think things are getting more open.”

The mindful revolution

Sroka is a big believer in meditation’s healing powers.

The body’s stress response, also known as “fight or flight,” is aggravated by emotional or physical stress, she explained. The opposite of that reaction is the body’s relaxation response. Meditation triggers that response.

“Any chronic illness can be benefited from emptying one’s mind and not thinking, and breathing more deeply,” Sroka said. “That’s all part of meditation.”

She often recommends that her patients give their minds a rest for a few minutes each day to help their bodies heal. Getting a patient who has suffered a heart attack, for example, to see the importance of the mind-body connection to their recovery is the first step.

“Then, right there in the exam room, I will teach them a simple deep-breathing technique and have them do it for three to four minutes,” Sroka said. She instructs her patients to aim for meditating for 10 minutes a day. “I’m trying to plant seeds,” she said.

Like Sroka, Dr. Debra Bell, a family medicine doctor, regularly prescribes meditation to her patients.

She works for Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minneapolis and recommends several meditation resources to her patients. She suggests classes and books to help them learn different techniques and gives some basic instructions herself.