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Science  Supports  Our  Intuition  about  the  Importance  of  Deep  Breathing:  

Breathing  Slows  Down  Heart  Rate;  Blood  Pressure  is  Lowered  or  Stabilized;  Calmness  Prevails  

Shallow  breathing  limits  the  diaphragm’s  range  of  motion,  limiting  the  lowest  part  of  the  lungs  
from  getting  its  full  share  of  oxygenated  air.  This  can  make  you  feel  short  of  breath  and  anxious.  

Deep  abdominal  breathing  encourages  full  oxygen  exchange  —  that  is,  the  beneficial  trade  of  
incoming  oxygen  for  outgoing  carbon  dioxide.  The  heartbeat  is  slowed  down  and  
blood  pressure  is  lowered  or  stabilized.  

Esther  Sternberg,  physician,  author  of  several  books  on  stress  and  healing,  and  researcher  at  
the  National  Institute  of  Mental  Health,  says  rapid  breathing  is  controlled  by  the  sympathetic  
nervous  system  that  is  part  of  the  "fight  or  flight"  (freeze  or  faint)  response  —  the  part  
activated  by  stress.  

In  contrast,  slow,  deep  breathing  actually  stimulates  the  opposing  parasympathetic  reaction  —  
the  one  that  calms  us  down.  

"The  relaxation  response  is  controlled  by  another  set  of  nerves  —  the  main  nerve  being  the  
Vagus  nerve.  Think  of  a  car  throttling  down  the  highway  at  120  miles  an  hour.  That's  the  stress  
response,  and  the  Vagus  nerve  is  the  brake,"  says  Sternberg.  "When  you  are  stressed,  you  have  
your  foot  on  the  gas,  pedal  to  the  floor.  When  you  take  slow,  deep  breaths,  that  is  what  is  
engaging  the  brake."­‐breathe-­‐body-­‐has-­‐a-­‐built-­‐in-­‐stress-­‐reliever  


©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   1  


Science  Supports  Our  Intuition  about  the  Worthiness  of  Affirmations:  

Self-­‐Affirmation  Can  Boost  Grade  Point  Averages  
Research  from  a  team  led  by  Carnegie  Mellon  University's  David  Creswell  found  that  people  can  
boost  their  ability  to  solve  problems  under  pressure  by  using  self-­‐affirmation.  
Published  in  PLOS  ONE,  it's  the  first  evidence  that  self-­‐affirmation  —  the  process  of  identifying  
and  focusing  on  one's  most  important  values  —  can  protect  against  the  damaging  effects  of  
stress  on  problem-­‐solving  performance.  
The  findings  will  help  guide  future  research  and  the  development  of  educational  interventions.  
"An  emerging  set  of  published  studies  suggest  that  a  brief  self-­‐affirmation  activity  at  the  
beginning  of  a  school  term  can  boost  academic  grade-­‐point  averages  in  underperforming  kids  at  
the  end  of  the  semester,"  said  Creswell,  assistant  professor  of  psychology  in  CMU's  Dietrich  
College  of  Humanities  and  Social  Sciences.  "This  new  work  suggests  a  mechanism  for  these  
studies,  showing  self-­‐affirmation  effects  on  actual  problem-­‐solving  performance  under  

In  addition  to  Creswell,  the  research  team  consisted  of  Janine  M.  Dutcher,  who  participated  as  
a  Carnegie  Mellon  undergraduate  student  and  is  now  at  UCLA;  William  M.  P.  Klein  of  the  
National  Cancer  Institute;  Peter  R.  Harris  of  the  University  of  Sheffield;  and  John  M.  Levine  of  
the  University  of  Pittsburgh.­‐of-­‐self-­‐affirmation.shtml  

 Self-­‐Affirmation  Enhances  Performance,  Makes  Us  Receptive  to  Our  Mistakes  

Research  published  in  Psychological  Science,  a  journal  of  the  Association  for  Psychological  
Science,  explores  the  neurophysiological  reactions  that  could  explain  how  self-­‐affirmation  helps  
us  deal  with  threats  to  our  self-­‐integrity.  

“Self-­‐affirmation  reduces  threat  and  improves  performance,  Lisa  Legault  of  Clarkson  University.  
and  her  colleagues  Michael  Inzlicht  of  the  University  of  Toronto  Scarborough  and  Timour  Al-­‐
Khindi  of  Johns  Hopkins  University  

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   2  


Legault  and  her  colleagues  Michael  Inzlicht  of  the  University  of  Toronto  Scarborough  and  
Timour  Al-­‐Khindi  of  Johns  Hopkins  University  posed  several  hypotheses.  They  theorized  that  
because  self-­‐affirmation  has  been  shown  to  make  us  more  open  to  threats  and  unfavorable  
feedback,  it  should  also  make  us  more  attentive  and  emotionally  receptive  to  the  errors  that  
we  make.  Participants  in  the  self-­‐affirmation  condition  made  fewer  errors  of  commission  –  
pressing  the  button  when  they  shouldn’t  have  –  than  did  those  in  the  non-­‐affirmation  

Science  Supports  Our  Intuition  about  the  Power  of  Touch:  
Improvements  in  the  pulmonary  functions  of  children  with  asthma  

Kim,  J.,  Wigram,  T.,  &  Gold,  C.  (2009).  Emotional,  motivational  and  interpersonal  
responsiveness  of  children  with  autism  in  improvisational  music  therapy.  Autism,  13,  389-­‐

Thirty-­‐two  children  with  asthma  (16  4-­‐  to  8-­‐year-­‐olds  and  16  9-­‐  to  14-­‐year-­‐olds)  were  randomly  
assigned  to  receive  either  massage  therapy  or  relaxation  therapy.  The  children’s  parents  were  
taught  to  provide  one  therapy  or  the  other  for  20  minutes  before  bedtime  each  night  for  30  

The  younger  children  who  received  massage  therapy  showed  an  immediate  decrease  in  
behavioral  anxiety  and  cortisol  levels  after  massage.  Also,  their  attitude  toward  asthma  and  
their  peak  air  flow  and  other  pulmonary  functions  improved  over  the  course  of  the  study.  The  
older  children  who  received  massage  therapy  reported  lower  anxiety  after  the  massage.  Their  
attitude  toward  asthma  also  improved  over  the  study,  but  only  one  measure  of  pulmonary  
function  (forced  expiratory  flow  25%  to  75%)  improved.  The  reason  for  the  smaller  therapeutic  
benefit  in  the  older  children  is  unknown;  however,  it  appears  that  daily  massage  improves  
airway  caliber  and  control  of  asthma.  

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   3  


Improvements  in  the  behavior  of  children  with  autism  

Escalona,  A.,  Field,  T.,  Singer-­‐Strunk,  R.,  Cullen,  C.,  &  Hartshorn,  K.  (2001).  Improvements  in  
the  behavior  of  children  with  autism.  Journal  of  Autism  and  Developmental  Disorders,  31,  

Twenty  children  with  autism  ranging  in  age  from  3  to  6  years  were  randomly  assigned  to
massage therapy and reading attention control groups. Parents in the massage therapy group were
trained by a massage therapist to massage their children for 15 minutes prior to bedtime every
night for one month while the parents of the attention control group read Dr. Seuss stories to
their children on the same time schedule. Conners Teacher and Parent scales, classroom and
playground observations and sleep diaries were used to assess the effects of therapy on various
behaviors including hyperactivity, stereotypical and off-task behavior, as well as sleep problems.

Results suggested that the children in the massage group exhibited less stereotypic behavior and
showed more on-task and social relatedness behavior during play observations at school, and
they experienced fewer sleep problems at home.

Improvements  with  preschool  children  with  Behavioral  Problems  

Escalona, A., Field, T., Cullen, C., Hartshorn, K., & Cruz, C. (2001). Behavior problem
preschool children benefit from massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 161,

Twenty preschool children with behavior problems were randomly assigned to a massage group
or a story reading attention control group. The sessions occurred for 15-minutes twice a week for
a month. Pre and post session ratings were made on the first and last days of the study by
teachers who were blind to the child’s group assignment.

These revealed that the children in the massage therapy group: 1) were more drowsy, less active,
less talkative and had lower anxiety levels after the sessions; and 2) were less anxious and more
cooperative by the end of the study­‐research  

Science  Supports  Our  Intuition  about  the  Significance  of  Mindfulness  

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   4  


Over  the  past  2  decades  hundreds  of  studies  and  research  projects  have  been  done  on  
mindfulness  practices.    Fortune  500  companies  provide  mindfulness  instruction  to  their  
employees  to  reduce  stress.    Hospitals  refer  patients  who  suffer  from  emotional  and  physical  
pain  to  mindfulness  courses.    Schools  in  the  USA  are  using  mindfulness  practices  to  help  
students  succeed.    

A  randomized-­‐controlled  study  done  during  the  2011-­‐12  school  year  demonstrates  the  social  
and  emotional  benefits  that  occurred  over  a  6  week  time  period.    Children  showed  an  increase  
in  attention,  calmness,  social  compliance,  and  caring  towards  others.  

Research  has  found  that  Mindfulness  Training  for  children  increases  attention  and  social  
emotional  awareness.  

• Students  are  able  to  stay  more  focused  and  pay  more  attention  in  class.  
• Awareness  of  their  body,  thoughts,  and  emotions  increase.  
• They  experience  less  test  anxiety.  
• Classroom  management  improves  because  mindfulness  improves  impulse  control  and  
interpersonal  skills.  
• Executive  function  increases,  a  key  predictor  of  academic  success.  
Science  Supports  Our  Intuition  about  the  Benefits  of  Laughter:  
Immune  response.    
Increased  stress  is  associated  with  decreased  immune  system  response.  Some  studies  have  
shown  that  the  ability  to  use  humor  may  raise  the  level  of  infection-­‐fighting  antibodies  in  the  
body  and  boost  the  levels  of  immune  cells,  as  well.  
Blood  flow.    
Researchers  at  the  University  of  Maryland  studied  the  effects  on  blood  vessels  when  people  
were  shown  either  comedies  or  dramas.  After  the  screening,  the  blood  vessels  of  the  group  
who  watched  the  comedy  behaved  normally  -­‐-­‐  expanding  and  contracting  easily.  But  the  blood  
vessels  in  people  who  watched  the  drama  tended  to  tense  up,  restricting  blood  flow.  

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   5  


Relaxation  and  sleep.    

The  focus  on  the  benefits  of  laughter  really  began  with  Norman  Cousin's  memoir,  Anatomy  of  
an  Illness.  Cousins,  who  was  diagnosed  with  ankylosing  spondylitis,  a  painful  spine  condition,  
found  that  a  diet  of  comedies,  like  Marx  Brothers  films  and  episodes  of  Candid  Camera,  helped  
him  feel  better.  He  said  that  ten  minutes  of  laughter  allowed  him  two  hours  of  pain-­‐free  sleep.­‐your-­‐body-­‐boost-­‐with-­‐laughter?page=2  
Relieves  Pain,  Brings  Greater  Happiness  and  Increases  Immunity.    
Research  has  shown  that  the  health  benefits  of  laughter  are  far-­‐ranging.  While  more  studies  
need  to  be  done,  studies  so  far  have  shown  that  laughter  can  help  relieve  pain,  bring  greater  
happiness,  and  even  increase  immunity.  Positive  psychology  names  the  propensity  for  laughter  
and  sense  of  humor  as  one  of  the  24  main  signature  strengths  one  can  possess,  and  laughter  
yoga  clubs  are  springing  up  across  the  country.­‐stress-­‐management-­‐and-­‐health-­‐benefits-­‐of-­‐laughter-­‐

Stress  Reducer.  

Laughter  reduces  the  level  of  stress  hormones  like  cortisol,  epinephrine  (adrenaline),  dopamine  
and  growth  hormone.  It  also  increases  the  level  of  health-­‐enhancing  hormones  like  endorphins.  
Laughter  increases  the  number  of  antibody-­‐producing  cells  we  have  working  for  us,  and  
enhances  the  effectiveness  of  T  cells.  All  this  means  a  stronger  immune  system,  as  well  as  fewer  
physical  effects  of  stress.  

Social  Benefits  of  Laughter.  

Laughter  connects  us  with  others.  Just  as  with  smiling  and  kindness,  most  people  find  that  
laughter  is  contagious,  so  if  you  bring  more  laughter  into  your  life,  you  can  most  likely  help  
others  around  you  to  laugh  more,  and  realize  these  benefits  as  well.  By  elevating  the  mood  of  
those  around  you,  you  can  reduce  their  stress  levels,  and  perhaps  improve  the  quality  of  social  
interaction  you  experience  with  them,  reducing  your  stress  level  even  more!­‐stress-­‐management-­‐and-­‐health-­‐benefits-­‐of-­‐laughter-­‐

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   6  


Science  Supports  Our  Intuition  about  the  Value  of  Movement  &  Music:  

Movement  in  Utero.  

A  fetus  begins  to  learn  language  in  utero!  
Dr.  Alfred  Tomatis  used  fiber  optic  cameras  to  observe  the  movement  of  the  fetus  in  regard  to  
sound.  Though  the  particular  muscle  moved  varied  in  each  child,  each  time  the  same  phoneme  
was  sounded,  the  same  muscle  responded!  This  sensory-­‐motor  response  allows  the  fetus  to  
begin  learning  language  in  utero.  This  information  suggests  that  prenatal  exposure  to  music  can  
be  used  to  enhance  a  baby’s  development,  and  perhaps  alleviate  or  minimize  some  
developmental  delays.    
(Campbell,  D.  2001.  The  Mozart  Effect:  Tapping  the  Power  of  Music  to  Heal  the  Body,  
Strengthen  the  Mind,  and  Unlock  the  Creative  Spirit.  New  York:  Harper  Collins.)  

The  ear  is  the  most  fully  developed  of  the  sense  organs  at  birth  and  the  last  sense  to  stop  at  
death.  Much  of  the  previous  information  is  a  result  of  the  work  of  Dr.  Alfred  Tomatis  who  is  
credited  with  ‘discovering’  that  the  voice  only  represents  what  the  ear  can  hear,  also  known  as  
the  Tomatis  Effect.  His  research  has  done  much  to  help  with  developmental  delays  and  
disabilities  including  autism.  A  person’s  ability  to  hear  affects  abilities  and  emotion.  It  is  
believed  it  is  because  the  music  stimulates  a  part  of  the  brain  related  to  memory.  Having  this  
information,  we  need  to  implement  it  in  early  childhood  by  providing  activities  that  encourage  
active  listening  skills.  These  activities  can  include  rhythm  stick  activities,  imitating  vocal  sounds,  
and  marching  

Movement  and  Rhythm  Stimulate  the  Frontal  Lobe  of  the  Brain  Important  in  Language  

The  brain  works  by  electrical  current  thereby  needing  oxygen  and  water  to  function  well.  
Movement  helps  to  provide  one  of  these  two  elements,  oxygen.  With  movement,  the  brain  
produces  a  neuro-­‐chemical  called  endorphins.  This  chemical  causes  a  feeling  of  energy  and  
makes  the  brain  more  conducive  to  learning.  This  portion  of  the  brain  grows  between  the  ages  
of  two  and  six.  It  has  another  growth  spurt  at  around  the  age  of  twenty-­‐two.    

(Brewer,  C.,  &  Campbell,  D.,  1991.  Rhythms  of  Learning:  Creative  Tools  for  Developing  Life  Long  Skills.  
Tucson:  Zephyr  Press.)

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   7  


The  vestibular  system  (part  of  the  ear  related  to  balance  and  movement  must  be  activated  for  
learning  to  take  place.  (Hannaford,  C.    2005.    Smart  Moves:  Why  Learning  Is  Not  All  In  Your  
Head.  Arlington  Virginia:  Great  Ocean  Publishers.)  

Music  Improves  behavior  of  children  with  autism.  

Kim,   J.,   Wigram,   T.,   &   Gold,   C.   (2009).   Emotional,   motivational   and   interpersonal  
responsiveness   of   children   with   autism   in   improvisational   music   therapy.   Autism,   13,   389-­‐

Children   with   autism   were   randomly   assigned   to   improvisational   music   therapy   and   toy   play  

Improvisational  music  therapy  produced  markedly  more  and  longer  events  of  'joy',  'emotional  
synchronicity'  and  'initiation  of  engagement'  behaviors  in  the  children  than  toy  play  sessions.  In    
response   to   the   therapist   interpersonal   demands,   'compliant   (positive)   responses'   were  
observed   more   in   music   therapy   than   in   toy   play   sessions,   and   'no   responses'   were   twice   as  
frequent  in  toy  play  sessions  as  in  music  therapy.    

©Dr.  Elaine  Fogel  Schneider,  2016   8