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  • Re: I really, really hate it when....

    We actually do in San Francisco still have quite a few places where smoking is allowed, though they are rapidly diminishing in number. I have thought about it from that perspective before you brought it up, though, and I do have sympathy, which is why I don't complain about it (except privately). The only long term solution is to continue investing in public initiatives that discourage people from ever starting smoking in the first place -- without making it taboo, since that always backfires. The numbers clearly show that these initiatives actually do work, but it takes time. Decades, usually.

    dhammachick
  • Re: What are intoxicants in buddhism?

    Agreed -- especially with respect to mental consumption. I've stopped reading comments on news articles, and my mental health has definitely improved. :awesome:

    chrispche
  • Re: What are intoxicants in buddhism?

    I would agree with the assessment that to summarily lump all drugs, as defined as any substance affecting an alteration in brain chemistry, under a single category so broad as "intoxicant." If indeed we were to do such a thing, then we would have to include sugar in our list of intoxicants because consuming sugar alters brain chemistry. As a matter of fact, reading these words right this very moment is altering your brain chemistry. All kinds of things are happening at the molecular level as you parse and understand these words.

    Consider too substances that alter brain chemistry but are not considered classical intoxicants. Antidepressant medications come to mind, especially the most commonly prescribed class, the SSRIs. Do these drugs alter brain chemistry? Oh yes. Profoundly so. Not only do they modify brain chemistry, they modify its very structure.

    But then, so does experience. What we often see in the depressed brain are structural abnormalities where the amygdala, the center for fear response and emotional regulation, shows increased synaptic density and activity, and the hippocampus, the region responsible for learning and memory, shows reduced activity. Antidepressants, along with things like exercise, can reverse this structural difference to varying degrees and increase the rate at which the brain can create new neural pathways.

    So when it comes to drugs, defined as anything that affects the brain's function, there is no clear cut answer. It is up to every person to make up his or her own mind about what is or is not good for them. I think that deep down, people know their own truths.

    lobsterJeffreyFosdickchrispche
  • Re: Do you speak Emoji?

    @Kerome

    You took that waaaaaayyy too seriously. <3

    It's pretty evident that emojis aren't a symbolic language all on their lonesome; they lack all the requisite features of any self-contained writing system. The comparison to cueiniform is merely for humorous effect.

    Nevertheless, in response to your valid point, I personally find the overuse (i.e., non-skillful use) of emojis obnoxious and disingenuous. A string of emojis doesn't add any value to any conversation that isn't surface-level chitchat. When it comes to substance, I trust a man who smiles too much very little; I trust a man who does nothing but send "haha" and happy faces even less.

    The key difference between nonverbal cues and using emojis is that most people really aren't that great at hiding what they're genuinely feeling, at least if you're attuned to such things. Smiling from the wrist down, however, is easy. Emojis or no, I refuse to have any important conversation about anything unless it's face to face. It's really frustrating trying to find people my age who understand this. It's a whole generation who grew up on the Diet Coke of communication mediums.

    lobsterkarasti
  • Re: Mental Health and Emotions.

    I would like to echo @lobster's recommendation for physical exertion. I've been working against chronic depression and anxiety for years, and I've spent thousands of hours researching the mechanisms by which it occurs and perpetuates itself.

    Aerobic exercise is akin to Miracle Gro for the brain. Is it a cure all? No. Reliably, though, aerobic exercise over time increases brain volume, white matter density, boosts the size of the hippocampus, and improves scores in executive function, focus, and problem solving. Antidepressant medications (SSRIs in particular) are now thought to work by the same mechanism, i.e., increasing growth factors in the brain. The whole "chemical imbalance" thing you see in ads is a load of hogwash that hasn't been academically supported for more than ten years now.

    (If you want to go do some Googling, the most promising antidepressant I've ever seen is now in phase II clinical trials. The compound is NSI-189. A company called Neuralstem took the neurotrophic theory of depression and ran with it, searching Edison-style for a compound that directly increases hippocampal volume. They found one. In rats, it increased hippocampus size by 20%!)

    Aerobic exercise on top of regular meditation practice has compounding benefits. As your brain is pumping out BDNF and NGF and laying down myelin sheath, forming new synapses, and even growing new neurons, it is highly likely that you will progress faster in meditation due to your brain's neuroplasticiy. The more malleable the brain, the faster it learns. There is one study I read that showed that aerobic exercise combined with concentration meditation outperformed either treatment alone.

    I highly encourage you to research this topic on your own. There is an ever-growing mountain of evidence showing how beneficial exercise is in depression and anxiety management.

    Best wishes.

    lobsterHozanmosquito