Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter June 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons,

The problem with all of these innovations and improvements to the newsletter format, and presumably its content, is that I now feel obligated to actually come up with something that people are interested in reading every month. It's definitely a challenge that requires some work.

Tonight, I ran into a fella at the Marina Dock who just returned from a 16-month run. He told me that during the time he was out there, the Marina Dock newsletter arrived monthly, like clockwork, at his house. He said sometimes he looked forward to reading it and other times it really p***** him off, depending on whether he was hung-over or not on of A.A. and a belly full of booze make strange bedfellows. that particular day. More evidence - not that we need it - that a head full

I welcomed him back, and pointed out to him how grateful he should be for still having a roof over his head after 16 months of holding on to old ideas. It really is all about gratitude, no matter how much time we have or how many changes we undergo, we must continue to cultivate that attitude of gratitude.


The Marina Dock requires the support and input of all its members and patrons, even those who don't always agree with how we do things. I try to be flexible when it comes to making decisions and allowing others to get involved. Recently, a couple of Members decided we should have our interior doors refinished and/or painted and new door hardware installed as well as paint and soundproof the bathrooms. It was an excellent idea and brought about a subtle but obvious transformation to areas that needed some serious cosmetic surgery.

Sometimes people ask me how we are doing financially and I tell them we are a Higher Power-based operation; we turn everything over to a power greater than us, and for some reason it always seems to work out. We seem to get just what we need when we need it. I would however, like to point out for those of us who still believe that "man does not live on bread alone", that we are still amenable to donations in any size, shape or form. The summer is seasonally a slower time for us financially, so if you are considering a donation, this would be a good time to do so. Of course, it goes without saying, "thank you", to all our dedicated supporters who come through for us consistently every month - rain or shine.


According to the contemporary Irish writer and poet John O Donoghue, stress "is a perverted relationship with time". It's about as far removed as one can possibly get from the term "mindfulness" - a concept that has its roots in the Buddhist tradition which refers to being aware of and paying attention to what is taking place in the present.

All of us to some degree or another are subject to the treadmill of overworking and over- consuming. In a recent book by celebrated author, psychiatrist, and director of UCLA's Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Peter C. Whybrow, the author theorizes that we are, in a way, victims of our own success. Primatology and genetics, he claims, are to blame for our frenzied pursuit of all things pleasurable. Genes that were programmed to crave material rewards on the Serengeti 20,000 years ago have literally gone haywire in our economy of superabundance. Our excessiveness, Whybrow asserts, is the result of an imbalance between biologically driven rewards and socially driven satisfactions. We live in an age of extraordinary affluence and extraordinary choice, constructing a set of conditions that do not fit with our neurobiology or our evolutionary behavior. In other words, we have become too complex and too big.

When you consider the huge number of choices we have to confront every day - bearing in mind that we cannot pay attention to more than 114 bits of information per second - this amounts to about half a million bits per day. When you consider we use up about 60 bits to decode one person talking and understand what they are saying, it's probable that you can't really understand two people speaking to you at the same time. The author points out, that "all the things that we need to do that require any kind of attention have to be prioritized and arranged in a way that they won't interfere with each other." So how successful are we, especially those of us who are committed to living our lives "one day at a time", at living in the moment? It's hard not to be distracted by what the world throws at us on a daily basis. How many of us can actually spend five minutes or so in a quiet space and focus exclusively on what is happening around us right now. Try not to think about what you are having for dinner tonight, or the argument we had yesterday, with a person we love. Am I making a mistake by allowing our youngest daughter to drive alone for the first time to an A.A. convention in Toronto? If I do, will she max out my credit card on some cute guy she met, buying him lunch and dinner everyday, trying to impress him? Will I have enough money to live on after I retire? Will Jim and I break up someday? Will I end up lonely and alone? It's difficult isn't it? Having said this, there is however, a lot of evidence to support the idea that a mindful state of mind can have emotional and psychological benefits, including the reduction of stress.


The University of Rochester conducted a formal test on the psychological benefits of mindfulness. The research showed that people who reported being "more in the moment" also reported more positive psychological traits like high self-esteem, better life satisfaction, more positive feelings, less anxiety, and less depression. Another test focused on whether inducing a mindful state can alleviate stress during an extremely stressful period - the time following the diagnosis of cancer or surgery. What they found was that patients who had cultivated a more mindful state of being, in fact, did report lower levels of stress. More evidence suggests that being more mindful, "living in the moment", can reduce stress, even for those of us undergoing the most stressful times of our lives. The researchers concluded that mindfulness can have powerful psychological benefits. The fact that it appears to reduce stress in cancer patients suggests that it may have even more far-reaching "therapeutic applications".


"A landmark UCLA study found that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause them to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning finding that has turned five decades of stress research - most of it on men - upside down." This study discovered that women appear to have more in their behavioral repertoire than just "flight or fight." In fact, it appears that part of the stress response in women involves the release of the hormone oxytocin, which buffers the flight or fight response in women, encouraging them to tend children and gather with other women instead. The study goes on to say that when a woman engages in this tending and befriending, that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in men because testosterone - which men produce in high levels when they are under stress - seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin, whereas estrogen seems to enhance it. This discovery, that women responded to stress differently than men apparently had a classic "aha!" moment shared by two women scientist who were talking one day in the lab at UCLA. They joked that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded. When the men were stressed, they isolated, holed up somewhere on their own. These two women researchers knew instantly they were on to something. Before this discovery, nearly 90% of stress research was conducted on men. They now realized that not including women in stress research was a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has profound implications for health research in general. It may take some time for new studies to reveal how the hormone oxytocin encourages women to care for children and bond with other women, as a response to stress. This propensity in women to "tend and befriend" may however, explain the long unanswered question, as to why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has shown that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, hearth rate, and cholesterol. "There's no doubt," says Dr. Laura Klein, PhD, now an assistant professor of behavioral health at Pennsylvania State University, and one of the study's authors, "that friends are helping us live longer." For example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a six month period. Additional studies concluded that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical ailments.

This is a summary of an article that was published in psychological review: Psychol Rev 20000 Jul; 107 (3): 411-29.


Is the Marina Dock doing its share to nurture social friendships and promote a healing experience? We think so. Although the findings of the aforementioned research are definitely groundbreaking, we, who are longstanding members of 12-step programs, have known for years of the positive aspects of "living in the now." A fundamental axiom of the A.A.way of living being "Together we can do what we cannot do alone." This simple statement is comforting in a world that can make us perpetually anxious and confused, appearing powerless, maladaptive and inept, when facing a crisis. Maybe someone among us is currently undergoing some personal mind/body crisis or emergency, so why don't we take a moment to support that anonymous person. Let's designate June 10th, Founders Day, as a day of mindfulness, a day when we take time out of our busy schedules, to reflect on our own, as well as others, gifts and blessings - a moment of quietude and gratitude, where we are for about five minutes or so, alone with ourselves, secure in the knowledge that the Universe is divinely arranged. Let us take this time to replace fear with faith, and envelop our being in the exquisiteness of the blissful now. I look forward to positive feedback from this experiment? E-mail us at:

We, the Marina Dock, must continue the good work, with your help of course.

With Gratitude,

Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"


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