When you are where you are
And not elsewhere
In the breath of being
Just now my darling
A universe at it’s centre
The boy who hangs his story from the bridge.
As if in fairy tale told in detail to a desperate lover.
The bulging eyes of his spine
staring out a broken neck;
his story told in the lingering art of death. Or
he who faces the train to Ferny Hills
and each commuter who remembers
that day’s monotony interrupted as bits of him
slapped against the carriage like
someone throwing wet fish. Or
the pass-over traffic
grumbling at the fall of tragic demonstration – a
boy not welcomed anywhere except by the earth
that took him in with a kiss of bitumen. Or
balanced on needle point, a
thousand thousand weights pressing death
into an arm embracing the tv-cable guide and
a torn photograph of jennifer the mud wrestler.
And all this waste
sending little statistic waves of shock that don’t anymore.
Gone to sleep like the boys who left us.
Early sleep. Early rise and forget the
sons who disappear in a magician’s finale.
The cloak of social history that accepts this. And the magic
abra-cadabra of unhappy youth
The way the stomach detects and tells the brains it’s full becomes desensitised in people with high-fat-diet-induced obesity and doesn’t return to normal once the weight is lost, according to a study my colleagues and I recently published in the International Journal of Obesity.
When we eat, nerves within the stomach wall signal to the central nervous system, indicating how much our stomach needs to distend and that we feel satiated or full.
Our previous laboratory experiments showed that these nerves are desensitised in mice that became obese via high-fat diets. As a consequence, their stomachs need to be a lot fuller before they feel full.
In the latest study, we found this dampening of nerve signalling is not reversible, which may explain why it’s so hard to maintain weight loss after reaching your goal weight.
Obesity is a serious risk to both physical and mental health, increasing the likelihood of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some types of cancer. It is these health risks that often prompt obese or overweight individuals to modify their diet and lose weight.
But the experience of most obese people who lose weight through modifying their diet, is they return to at least their previous weight within two years. In fact, 80% of people who use a diet regime regain the weight (plus some extra) within two years.
So far, drug treatments mainly aimed at appetite control in the central nervous system have had limited efficacy or come with unacceptable adverse effects.
Targeting the initiation of the satiety signal in the gut – which tells the brain we’re full – is an attractive therapeutic option. However, before we can develop therapies for the treatment of obesity we need to fully understand how satiety signals in the gut are initiated; this is the research we are undertaking.
It’s a complex process, but in summary, the satiety signal from the gut involves the integration of both gastric and intestinal feedback signalling. Vagal nerves are a major pathway by which food-related signals, from the stomach and small intestine, access the brain to modulate food intake and associated behaviour.
Our brain’s perception of fullness following food intake depends on activation of these vagal sensors via two principle routes:
mechanical distension of the stomach (in other words, the stomach stretching)
the presence of nutrients which trigger hormone secretions from the stomach and small intestine.
A hormone in the body, leptin, known to regulate food intake, can change the sensitivity of the nerves in the stomach that signal fullness. In normal conditions, leptin acts to stop food intake. But in the stomach of those with high-fat-diet-induced obesity, leptin further desensitises the nerves that detect fullness.
These two mechanisms combined suggest that obese people need to eat more to feel full, which in turn continues their cycle of obesity.
We aimed to focus on how the nerves in the stomach respond to stretching of the stomach, how this is changed in high-fat-diet-induced obesity and importantly, whether any changes were reversible.
We designed an experiment with three groups of laboratory mice. Group one, the control group, was placed on a standard diet (with 12% of its energy derived from fat) for 24 weeks. The second group was placed on a high-fat diet (60% of the total energy of the food was from fat) for 24 weeks. And the third group was placed on the high-fat diet for 12 weeks and then put back onto the standard diet for a further 12 weeks.
At the end of the 24-week diet period, we tested the stomach’s response and found the high-fat diet group’s nerve response was dramatically reduced compared to the control group. In the group that was initially fed a high-fat diet then put back on to the standard diet for an equivalent amount of time, the response was still dramatically reduced. There was no sign of reversal.
In addition, this group ate considerably more food than the other two groups and though they initially lost weight, by the end of the 24-week diet period, they were on a trajectory to regain all of the weight lost.
Although we studied animals, the results help explain the lack of success of weight-loss management. This leaves one key conclusion: prevention is better than cure.
The fundamental mechanisms involved in the activation of these sensors are just beginning to be understood, with more work to be done in investigating the role of these physiological processes in appetite regulation.
Further studies by myself and colleagues aim to determine how early this desensitisation occurs and thus whether it is the high-fat diet or the obese state that is causing the changes in nerve responses. We also need to investigate whether nerves regain their sensitivity in longer experiments.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to determine what is causing this desensitisation and whether it can be targeted as a therapy for obesity.
Amanda Page receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
This answer This search This elusive entity upon which knowledge attempts to triumph as a theist reaching epiphany.
This in all of us.
This beast hungering for answers to questions the natural world never needs to ask.
In seeking the meaning of things in seeking the meaning of meaning. This endless relentless pursuit to capture the ultimate metaphor upon which somehow everything might turn, and somehow be held or be understood.
And then within all the pontificating The blunt fact slaps, that: There can be no return to the cocoon to the cradle to the womb to re-curl magically into unknowing pre-form.
And eventually the wisdom to see and perhaps only after exhaustion, in the nothing more for it, in the I’ve got nothing left, of it, to cease the relentless pursuit,
to live longer in the question
And quite simply To find the wisdom To live within what is
It was a Sunday in September. The afternoon breeze fresh from the south. The sun gently warming. It was the kind of afternoon where one might pause and feel good with the world. The streets of Eagle Junction were quiet and mostly empty, occasionally a child’s voice could be heard or some distant chatter from the neighbour’s radio three doors down. All the Sunday mowers had long since been retired for the day, their drivers resting in the shade with a cold ale and contentment.
She and I were resting. Lazing. Relaxing. It was a peaceful time and did not often occur in the days of raising a young family. For all our struggles and battles, for we had many, it was a moment as I remember where all else was put aside. There was no conversation. Simply two people lying side by side, resting.
I recall feeling at the time, that if that moment could somehow be extended and built on, it might mean our marriage could improve and regain some stability and balance. It was even possible to pretend that it had always been so.
She rolled over and asked me where our youngest son had got to. I said I wasn’t sure but I thought he was across the road playing with some friends. She said she was worried and asked if I would go and check. I said it would be OK to leave it for a while and I would go check a little later. I was not ready for the moment we were sharing to end. She said she was worried and I said she needn’t. All was OK.
Before I knew it, the next few exchanges had gone from mere conversation to accusation. She became very concerned about his safety. I could not see any reason for this as he often played across the road with friends. It was a quiet street with many families with young children like ours. She accused me of not caring for his safety. For being a negligent father, for always resisting doing what she requested, and on it went.
I became incredulous and deeply disturbed that in such a short time our peaceful, everything is OK with the world afternoon, had been shattered. As it turned out before I could get half way down the stairs and up the street to look for him, he had decided to come back from playing with his friends. He must have wondered why his parents were shouting at each other again. And I can only imagine how heavy his heart grew with this. My heart aches even now, some 15 years later when I think of it.
My judgment about her then and until very recently was that she had catastrophised and wrecked a perfectly beautiful moment and that this was typical of the way our marriage had gone right up till the time we separated. Which occurred some 18 months after this particular day.
I have always acknowledged my part in our marriage failure but until recently had never quite understood the occurrence of events such as the one I describe. And I have always judged her for it. I have judged her for her anger, for her rage, for the moments where in an instant she would turn form loving wife to hateful accuser. I have judged her and in some way judged myself for being the cause of this behaviour.
I judged her until yesterday.
In a teary and honest phone call she informed me that as a young girl she had been sexually abused. She was attending counseling and felt she had lifted an enormous burden by naming it and sharing it with her children and now me. She felt free. However she felt great pain and regret for past events.
I explained to her that from my point of view the past must be let go and that our work in the here and now is to look at everything with love and understanding. The past is useful to us now if we see the benefits of the journey and the benefits of the learning, no matter how painful they might be. Our focus now was to work with love and let go all else. She was grateful for my words and I was grateful for hers.
The information she shared put a lot into perspective. It helped me understand many things. With this knowledge and as I reflect on that Sunday in September something is different. I don’t hear a nagging, overly stressed wife berating me. I hear a little girl, terrified that harm will come to the little boy just as it had come to her. She doesn’t know exactly where he is so she panics, she imagines the worst. She can’t share this of course because as an adult she probably does not know shy she is worried. The little girl inside her is terrified.
Had I known, what might I have done with this understanding and insight? How differently might I have reacted? How much less defensive and self righteous might I have been? At the time I could only see the manifested behaviour and judged her for it. Knowing what I now know I can piece together possible causes for this event and others that occurred. And I can see that some of her actions were informed by deeply enmeshed and subconscious fears.
With this insight and reflection I look to myself. I look to others around me.
How often do I judge a person for their behaviour? How often do I make these judgments of another? When might I alter my perspective to simply judge the behaviour and seek more to understand the person? Is it possible to understand the person, to simply love the person and separate them from their behaviour? Perhaps the simple answer is to do this through the love of oneself and the love of others. And to understand that the cause of disruptive and destructive behaviours can never be healed by judgment.
With the benefit of hindsight and a little insight what might I say now to the little girl who panicked? “Sure hon I’ll go and check on him and when I come back after finding him let’s go back to that lovely rest we were sharing.”
In a genuine relationship there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever. That alert attention is Presence. It is the prerequisite for any authentic relationship. The ego always either wants something, or if it believes there is nothing to get from the other, it is in a state of utter indifference. It doesn’t care about you. [It only cares about itself]. And so, the three predominant states of egoic relationships are: wanting, thwarted wanting (anger, resentment, blaming, complaining), and indifference.