Lepage Associates Newsletter
Mental Health Matters
October 2011
Lepage Associates
Call: (919) 572-0000
In This Issue
Noise and Quality of Life
Back to School for LGBTIQ
Hatha Yoga




Please click on each group for a flier with complete information to include description.

Noise and

Quality of life


Is your home or workplace noisy? Have you ever wondered how the sounds around you might be affecting you?


First, it's important to define what we mean by noise. Often a sound is considered noise based on the context. For instance, the sound of water gently dripping onto a surface may be soothing if the sound is originating with a fountain. But the same sound may be considered as irritating 'noise' if it is originating from a leaky faucet and interfering with your sleep. In addition to context, sound can be considered noise simply as a matter of personal taste or preference. Music is a great example. Finally, noise can be defined on the basis of volume. Even a pleasant sound can become noise when it reaches a certain volume. So by definition, sound can transition into noise based on volume, context, or personal preference.



The majority of research on noise has been focused on volume, specifically the connection between noise exposure and hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most common preventable form of hearing loss. One-time exposure to extremely loud noise (sound at or above 120 decibels) can cause damage to the ear. More commonly long term exposure to loud noise (sound at or above 85 decibels) causes damage that can result in hearing loss over time. To gain a clearer understanding of the presence of noise in your home or workplace, begin listing all the things in these environments that generate sound. The list might include things such as television, telephone, refrigerator, microwave, fax machine, air conditioner, radio, hair dryer, toys, etc.  


The potential impact of environmental noise on quality of life extends beyond that of merely losing hearing. Considerable research has been conducted over the last forty years to determine if environmental noise negatively impacts people's physical health.


For instance, a review of prominent studies from 1970 to 1999 found a significant association between levels of environmental noise and blood pressure. Higher noise correlated to higher blood pressure in the research samples. Increased exposure to environmental noise was also correlated to significant increases in the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine.



We've already considered the contextual differences of a leaky faucet and a water fountain. These water sounds may be identical in quality and volume, but the differing contexts lead to different interpretations of the sounds as either restful or stressful.


One of the clearest examples of contextual noise is the difference between day and night.


For instance, many studies conducted in hospitals have shown that environmental noise occurring during the night can disturb patients who need sleep. The noise level may be quite acceptable for hospital workers, but for those recuperating from injury or illness, the interference with sleep quality and quantity can negatively impact the quality of care.


Recent reports on the impact of fatigue on healthy adults underscores the importance of sleep and the challenges associated with sounds that interfere with sleep. Getting to sleep can take up to 20 minutes longer if noise levels reach 45 decibels, the level of sound generated by a refrigerator hum. Studies have also shown that if night time noise exceeds 55 decibels, most people will be awakened. These noise thresholds become lower after five hours of sleep, so early morning awakenings can occur at even lower decibel levels. So your spouse's snoring may not prevent you from going to sleep, but it may significantly hinder your ability to remain asleep.


Numerous studies have been conducted on the impact of noise on children's learning. Quiet environments have been shown to promote better learning. So, acceptable sounds in a cafeteria would be considered "noisy" in a classroom or library.


Personal Preference

As mentioned earlier, music is a great example of sound being defined as noise based on personal preferences. To the classical music lover, acid rock may be physically and psychologically distressing---even if the volume is low. But, even preferred music can become harmful if the volume exceeds safe thresholds. Hearing loss has been demonstrated among both classical and contemporary musicians.


Some musicians have incorporated every day sounds into their music. Everything from trash can lids, broomsticks, typewriters and automobile horns have been incorporated into western music. There is even a genre of contemporary music known as "noise music." To some people the bustling busy sounds of a city are pleasing while these sounds may stress others who yearn for the sounds of nature.


The 2007 movie, Noise, starring Tim Robbins and William Hurt highlighted the potentially devastating impact of stressful sounds of everyday city life.


It is important to periodically take stock of the sounds around us. Is the volume dangerously high? We could be compromising our hearing and increasing our blood pressure. Is the sound out of context or occurring at the wrong time? We could be compromising our sleep, our physical health, and our psychological health.


We could be undermining our children's learning. Is the sound annoying to us? We could be increasing our stress levels and compromising our physical and psychological well being.


Perhaps it's time to listen and take stock of the sounds around you.




With the winding down of summer and back into the swing of school and work, people often use the fall as a time to refocus on themselves. Here are some strategies for self-care and community support this fall.



Dr. Tina Lepage


Back to School for LGBTIQ

By Amy Glaser



People have different reactions to going back to school. Some are excited or happy while others are anxious, sad, or indifferent. For youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning (LGBTIQ) these feelings can be compounded by concerns about how schoolmates will respond to their sexual orientation or gender identity. In many schools, LGBTIQ youth face harassment and bullying by other students, and hostile teachers and administrators.


Here are 10 ways you can be an ally to youth who are LGBTIQ:


1. Join or Start a Gay-Straight Alliance

Gay-Straight Alliances provide safe spaces and a support network to LGBTIQ youth, which can literally save lives.


2. Come Out

If you are LGBTIQ, the most effective thing you can do to increase acceptance for LGBTIQ people is to come out. Learning that someone they know or love is LGBTIQ can have a powerful impact on a person's attitudes.


3. Step in When you Witness Harassment or Bullying

It may take a lot of courage to speak up when you see someone being mistreated, but it can transform attitudes and make someone feel less alone.


4. Stop Saying "That's so gay."

Think about the meaning of the words you use, and stop using words to describe alternative sexualities or gender identities in derogatory ways.


5. Don't Make Assumptions About Someone's Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Sometimes it's hard to tell a person's sexual or gender identity. Don't make assumptions based on clothing, hair length, behavior or some other arbitrary feature. If you are unsure of which pronoun a person prefers to be called, ask.


6. Don't Ask Someone About Their Identity

Though inquiring about a person's preferred gender pronoun may be appropriate, someone's sexual or gender identity may be a private matter. Let them share this with you if they wish. Don't inquire yourself.


7. Make it Clear to Your Friends that You're an Ally

Let your friends know that you support LGBTIQ people's right to be who they are.


8. Report Incidents

If you see someone being bullied or harassed, report this to a teacher or administrator.


9. Talk to Your Teachers

Let them know you support LGBTIQ students and discuss ways they can make their classes and their classrooms inclusive. Hanging a rainbow poster, or a sign that says "safe space for LGBTIQ students" can make a big difference.


10. Discuss LGBTIQ Issues in Other Clubs

Discuss how to make your other campus organizations accepting of LGBTIQ students. You can even partner your club with your school's Gay-Straight Alliance and run a program together to increase awareness.


iNSIDEoUT Resources for LGBTIQ Youth

*If you are an LGBTIQ person seeking support, attend the iNSIDEoUT LGBTIQ Support Group, Thursdays from 4:30-6:00 pm in downtown Durham.


*If you or your child is between the ages of 7 and 12 and struggling with these issues, get involved in our new group for children - make new friends and do fun things in an environment that accepts and supports everyone.


*Check out our events page for ongoing events (like our upcoming writing workshop) planned by and for LGBTIQ and allied youth.


Call Amy at 919.923.7884 or check out our website for information. www.insideout180.org 




Yoga - Mind and Body in Harmony

By Michael Dorman


Through its long history, the practice of yoga has attempted to address, in various ways, the question of the connection between mind and body.


Different schools of thought within the yogic community have dominated the discussion of this question at different times. The earliest sages spoke of transcending both mind and body to reach a state of pure consciousness where the demands of the physical and mental worlds no longer applied. Hundreds of years later, other sages suggested that perhaps the proper place of yoga was to cultivate and strengthen the connection between mind and body--to achieve greater harmony between them, and to allow the practitioner to move more skillfully and effortlessly within the world, not just with the body but with the mind as well.


Hatha Yoga

This latter school of thought forms the underpinning behind many schools concerned with the physical practice of yoga. More accurately referred to as Hatha yoga, this is what is generally thought of as "yoga" in the West (though in fact the practice of yoga can take many forms, many of which have no relationship to the poses and movements we perform on a mat in our homes or a classroom).


Take a moment. Sit on a park bench, stand on a busy street corner, and walk through a crowded mall. Watch the people passing by you.


Notice what these individuals' bodies seem to show you about their state of mind. The person with the narrowed eyes and jutting chin moving in a staccato stomp seems angry. The person who moves lightly, whose eyes are open wide with a smile on her face seems happy. The person who hugs his shoulders forward, keeps his eyes on the ground, and shies away from any contact with another person seems fearful.


It doesn't take long to realize a person's internal state and external expression are inextricably connected. Whether we realize it or not, for most people that internal state is on full display. The way a person's mind moves, the paths it takes, the state it occupies, shows in how the person holds them self, how he or she moves, how they engage with the world. Even small children are able to recognize these signs--they are able to pick up even subtle nonverbal cues of others' states of mind.


Even when a person is aware of this connection, they do not always recognize it for the opportunity it represents. The practice of Hatha yoga, though, supposes that just as a person's internal state influences their external state, a person's external state can also influence their internal state.


Although there are a multitude of ways that Hatha yoga can influence a person's internal state, some of the more significant ones are:


1) Relief from pain: This is often the first and foremost benefit of Hatha yoga--the simple relief from chronic pain.


If our body is in constant pain, our internal state is going to reflect this. Chronic pain often leads to limitations in our ability to enjoy activities we might once have loved, so we abandon them. Chronic pain can change the shape of our body, creating restrictions in how we are able to interact with the world. Chronic pain can begin to restrict our ability to engage or enjoy our lives often leading to depression and further withdrawal. Even small levels of chronic pain can have surprisingly deep effects.


If we are able to relieve this pain, our internal state is free to once again have a healthy relationship with the world around us.


2) Grounding in the body: To live in Western culture is to live in a very intellectualized milieu. Most of people's day-to-day activities are very focused on the use of the mind. Many people find the constant demands of multitasking or the pervasive presence of hard-to-ignore media to be very overwhelming, stealing focus from things of import or significance.


When the mind is awhirl like this, Hatha yoga asks the practitioner to try to move the body in a consistent fashion by drawing his or her attention to that most concrete of acts, breathing. By working to maintain attention and establish a consistent rhythm with the breath, the practitioner's thoughts can become quieter and more focused. The visceral quality of the action reminds us to stay engaged.


3) Feelings of agency and creativity: In our post-industrial culture, many people work in jobs that do not let them have an experience of their own agency, at tasks that do not provide them with a clear sense of having a creative outlet, or even the ability to be creative. Evidence of the drive of human beings to have creative expression is among the earliest artifacts of our existence.


The practice of Hatha yoga gives the practitioner the ability to see the power of the choices they make reflected in their own body, as it becomes stronger and more flexible, as they find a path of greater calm or relief from pain. There is also the potential to have the experience of creating beauty in the practice--to have the experience of letting one's own personal expression of a pose shine, if only for a short moment.


By giving practitioners the opportunity to experience these benefits and many others, Hatha yoga strengthens the connection between the mind and the body. This deeper, richer connection allows people to approach their lives with a greater sense of intention and possibility.


Michael Dorman is a dedicated student and teacher of Anusara Yoga. He can be contacted at mdorman@ironicdesign.com



Monthly Reader

Each month we will recommend a book that someone at our practice has found useful.
This month's book:  
 Don't Eat the Marshmallow Yet!




Joachim de Posada and Ellen Singer


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