Can Love & Prayer Save 2 Small Boys?

My friends Susan and Andy Nelson threw over successful careers (his in law, hers in corporate America) some time ago to join the foreign service. They spent two years in Managua, Nicaragua, two years in Hanoi, and are now representing our country — the very best of our country — in Delhi, India. Susan posted the following on her Facebook page recently. It’s been tugging at my heart every day since; I hope it will tug at yours:


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting and food
Chandan and Nandan

Last Friday we received the devastating news that the High Courts of India decided to reunite these two beautiful boys with their physically abusive parents, for a one month trial. Our family sponsors Chandan and we do monthly play dates at the children’s home where they live. The father is out on parole after serving a shorter than expected sentence for murder. And the mom is violent, threatening, and unrelenting in her struggle for power. The boys were forced by their parents to beg as street dancers, like trained monkeys, which is what led to their rescue and move to the children’s home two years ago. The parents will be back in court on Nov 14, fighting for permanent custody. If they win, these kids will slip through our fingers – likely forever. Between now and Nov 14, Andy and I are trying to do anything we can to influence the Court’s decision that day. We’ve reached out to lawyers, reporters, clergy, friends, child welfare advocates, even a Nobel Peace Prize winner – and now I’m reaching out to you. I believe in the power of prayer. And even if you don’t, hopefully we all believe in the power of LOVE. Please shine your love and light into the world for Chandan and Nandan – every day, several times a day, when you lay your head down on your pillow each night, when you wake up and have your morning coffee….PLEASE!

Image may contain: 3 people, including Susan Johnson Nelson, people smiling, people sitting, people eating, table, child, food and indoor
The Nelsons with one Nelson son & his playmates

Please keep these boys in your heart for the next 3 weeks – and send love to them, to their parents, to the courts, to the children’s home where they are loved and where they were safe, to the child welfare watchdogs….to everyone involved! Our love can influence this decision on Nov 14. I believe that. Andy and I are working every angle, chasing every lead or creative idea we can think of, here in Delhi. If you could do the loving part – HARD – we would be forever grateful! Please don’t stop!


Seems like prayer, if you’re into praying, and hard loving wherever you stand on prayer,  are easy things to do.

You and your brain are in the crosshairs of neuromarketing

Why does this not seem altogether good news? Details have recently been revealed about new insights into the human brain — and how marketers can make use of them to sell more stuff.

Just in from Daily News & Analysis — which reportedly “has fast entrenched itself in the lives of a young and dynamic readership in India’s commercial capital Mumbai” and from that position offers its readers “a composite picture of India and the world” — is a story about new discoveries in neuroscience that are expected to revolutionize the marketing world. How? By using tests to measure, with a high degree of accuracy, your brain’s responses to whatever catches your eye. Well, maybe not your brain, but focus groups of brains enough like yours that sellers will be homing in on you as never before. It’s called EEG-based neuromarketing.

It’s all covered in a new book titled The Buying Brain: secrets for selling to the subconscious mind, by A.K. Pradeep, founder and CEO of NeuroFocus Inc and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose MySpace page says that his brain research company is going to change the world as we know it forever.

“Companies around the world, including the largest and most successful global giants”, reports DN&A, “are increasingly turning to EEG-based neuromarketing that measures the whole brain because it offers far more accuracy, reliability, and actionable results than conventional market research methods.” That “actionable results” business refers to you and me, Mr. & Ms. Target Market.

But to move from the Daily News & Analysis over to, here are a couple of tips from its Product Description segment which says “The Buying Brain is your guide to the ultimate business frontier – the human brain.”

1) Your brain gets scared in some stores. Your conscious mind doesn’t know it, of course, but your subconscious mind views sharp corners as a threat. Who knew?

2) Too much of one thing can make your brain go blind. “Repetition blindness” sets in when we see too many of the same objects. (The TV department of Best Buy either has not figured this out yet, or has found that TV buyers like to buy blindly.)

3) Men and women are hard-wired to shop differently. Men shop by looking for targets; women shop by looking for landmarks. Women explore their territory; men make maps.

There are fewer and fewer secrets. You may indeed be able to improve your memory or strengthen brain function, but marketers are probably going to be one step ahead of you. That caveat emptor phrase has morphed from “buyer beware” to Be Very Afraid.

Healthcare coding for Ayurveda – Why not?

Having taken up brain fitness (see below) a few days ago, this space today offers a few notes on Emotional Vibrancy and Wellbeing in this modern day and age. They come straight from a lecture of the same title by Sudha Prathikanti, MD presented by the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Prathikanti, UCSF Professor of Psychiatry, Consultant in Integrative Medicine and an exceptionally lovely young woman, clearly has achieved balance in her mind/body systems. Plus, she has a power-point lecture clear enough for lay listeners within her mostly-medical-professional audience to comprehend.

Emotional vibrancy and well-being, Dr. Prathikanti explains, “spring from a life lived in balance where one’s spirit is strong and resilient, with the capacity to embrace and grow from the pain and loss which are a natural part of human life.” Whereas western medicine tends to approach disease as a battle to be joined and conquered, she says, almost all other cultures from Native American to Asian have a more holistic approach. If you’re feeling a little out of balance, these glimpses into Ayurveda — the wisdom tradition of India — might help.

Ayurveda, Dr. Prathikanti explains, is a full medical system based on the concept that we humans are made up of the five basic elements (5 Great Bhutas) — earth, fire, water, air and space. We embody three life sources (3 Great Doshas): Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each dosha has specific expression; we come with all three in unique individual constitutions, and they are initially in balance. It’s when they get out of whack that trouble comes.

OK, perhaps this is sounding obtuse, but stick with it; you may discover something useful.

Vata (air, space, water) is all that moves — the beating heart, the blinking eye, the wandering mind. Pitta (mostly fire, a little water) has to do with heating — those digestive enzymes busy cooking up dinner, the fiery intellect. Kapha (earth/water — think clay) involves all that binds, the joints, body mass, memory. Ayurveda will seek to determine at what point your mind/body function was at its best — say, that summer you worked as a lifeguard on the beach and were doing graduate school classes at night — and keep you in that good balance.

Dr. Prathikanti conjured up three sample people and gave them a case of severe grief to illustrate how the different doshas work when things get out of balance. Vata, slightly built and having a quirky, creative mind, under such stress might wind up jumpy and restless, change jobs too much, have trouble making decisions. Pitta, owns her own business, the fiery mind etc, could wind up smoking and drinking and eating too many hot tamales. Kapha, earthy homemaker, might eat and sleep too much, become listless and withdrawn. The process of recovery would address each of these issues in ways to regain balance.

None of this is likely to make it into the health reform bill. But since we have finally begun to acknowledge that AMA-guided traditional American medicine may not know everything there is to know — Kaiser, when I considered acupuncture recently for a chronic pain issue promptly sent me to their Chinese Medicine class — perhaps a little ancient Indian wisdom will be useful.

By the end of the lecture I had figured out I’m a predominant Vata married to a definite Pitta, and is that good? Dr. Prathikanti assured me that understanding one’s doshas and keeping them in balance is indeed advisable, but she rather gently suggested that having a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner for starters is wise.

In other words, it’s a good idea to know what you’re talking about. Still, we offer the above as a toast to your health.