A Brief Introduction to the Practice of Integral Ethics for Healthcare Professionals: Honoring the Ken Wilber ModelJuly 19, 2013 at 2:32 am | Posted in Mind Body Medicine, Mindfulness, Self-Regulation, Stress Management | Leave a comment
Tags: Durwin Foster, Ethics, Integral Ethics, Ken Wilber, Tim Black
(The author, Durwin Foster, M.A. is a Canadian Certified Counselor, Researcher and Professional Presenter who has worked directly with Ken Wilber, a pioneer of integral theory)
In this article, I will provide a brief introduction to the practice of integral ethics for healthcare professionals.
One way to define the word “integral” is as “comprehensive.” Therefore, the benefit of taking an integral approach to the ethical dilemmas we may face as healthcare professionals is that an integral approach allows us to honor the complexity of the situations we face. When we make decisions that embrace and honor complexity, we are more likely to experience positive outcomes for both us and our clients.
The integral ethical-decision making model and process that Dr. Tim Black and I developed, with guidance from Ken Wilber, facilitates the wise embrace of complexity by parsing ethics into four key domains that correlate to the interior and exterior of reality, as well as its individual and collective aspects. Analyzing ethics in this way gives us ethics itself, as well as morals, behaviors and laws. The relationship between these four domains is perhaps best understood with the assistance of visuals, as follows:
The integral ethical-decision making process then guides you through the four domains using four different lenses in order to make an optimal decision in resolution of any ethical quandary you may be facing. Here are the lenses:
Here is an illustrative example:
I am at my workplace as an Employee Assistance Counsellor where the context requires me to keep in mind multiple clients, not only including my immediate client who is the person sitting in front of me, but also the client’s employer is a client of my employer. This creates a complex stakeholder arrangement which can lead to tricky ethical decision-making.
Then let us say I have a client who brings up a case of bullying by her manager. This client is regularly being “put down” in a way that she experiences as demeaning. She has become depressed and her health is suffering as she is eating less and sleeping more fitfully. She wants to speak up for herself in a straightforward way, but fears that doing so may jeopardize her job. The situation is serious enough that she has started looking for other work, but has not yet been successful in finding alternative employment.
Trained in social justice and advocacy work, my first desire — coming from the moral virtues view — is to do what is right. The client ought to be able to go to her Human Resources department, file a complaint, and something should be done by Human Resources to reprimand the manager. Right?
However, in looking through the systems-regulatory view that both she and I are members of, the reality becomes clear of how difficult this could be to enact without putting both of us at considerable risk. By working through all four lenses, I decide to focus on the power of relationship — the “relational-contextual view” — to assist this client. I surmise that by building a strong relationship of mutual trust, unconditional positive regard, and “mattering”, I can support her to maintain her self-esteem in this challenging situation. Also, I can support her by giving her specific behaviors — called the “video-camera view” because behavior is observable — to try out around assertiveness and non-violent communication that she can use to “test the waters” with her manager.
I trust the above overview of two of the main components of the integral ethical-decision making model, as well as an example of the model being applied, helps to wet your appetite for learning more about how this model can help you serve your clients and patients in the most ethical manner possible. You can participate in “the rest of the story” by registering for my Mind Body Medicine Network’s webinar on Sunday, August 25th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. on “Integral Ethics for Health and Helping Professionals.” The webinar will be interactive and participants are welcome to share any hypothetical ethics situations that can be processed through the integral ethics model. 1.5 Ethics CE’s will be awarded to Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors and Social Workers by either participating in the live webinar or watching the webinar recording and taking the post-test. For more information and to register for the webinar, please click on: http:///www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/Webinars.html. The cost is $30.
Mindfulness: If Not Now, When?
Larry Cammarata, Ph.D.
Introduction to Mindfulness
John Lennon’s apt quote that, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” is a very accurate statement for so many of us who are caught up in the rapid pace of our busy lives. We plan our day while brushing our teeth, obsess about the conflict we had at work earlier in the day while lying in bed at night, think about what clever reply to make as our friend or partner expresses their thoughts to us—the list goes on and on, exemplifying how life offers us one thing while our minds are often focused elsewhere. This is a common state of affairs for many people. While multitasking and simultaneously processing various bits of information might be advantageous for “getting the job done”, something is lost in the experience. This “something” that is lost is the full experience of the present moment. To fully experience the present moment, our mind and body must be focused upon what is happening in the present moment, not our story, expectations, thought, or plan about what is or should be happening. The practice of mindfulness is a process that trains the mind and body to be fully present to the reality of the present moment, without the added thoughts, fantasies, and images that obscure the moment.
Mindfulness has been succinctly defined as, “…awareness…of present experience…with acceptance” (Germer, 2005, p. 7). Mindfulness informs you about the present state of your mind, body, and actions. Mindfulness is an antidote to “mindlessness”, the state of mind that is likely to result in actions and speech that are ineffective at best and harmful at worst.
Floodlights and Laser Beams
The “awareness” component of mindfulness can be compared to the light emanating from a floodlight that illuminates everything in its field. To illustrate this floodlight analogy, take a few moments to be still and just observe your surroundings, noticing what you hear, see, and smell. You might be acutely aware of the sound of your neighbor mowing their lawn, the sight of gently swaying trees outside of your window, or the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting from the kitchen. Mindfulness allows you to receive the sensory impressions of these objects within your field of awareness while also knowing what you are doing or experiencing in the present moment. Instead of getting “swept away” by the experience, you’re able to have a conscious relationship with the object of your experience while also “minding your mind”, knowing where it is in the process. While mindfulness can be compared to a “floodlight”, the related mental process of concentration can be compared to a “laser beam”. As a floodlight illuminates everything within the field of its range, a laser beam pinpoints a narrow focus, essentially illuminating a single point within the wide field of potentially observable phenomena.
Concentration and Mindfulness
Concentration focuses the mind on a single object and mindfulness “remembers” the object and notices when our mind strays from it. Mindfulness allows us to return to the object that we are concentrating upon when we move away from it because of distraction, boredom, or tiredness. Concentration and mindfulness work together; a concentrated mind is typically more mindful and being more mindful allows us to stay concentrated for longer periods of time.
Popularity and Scientific Credibility of Mindfulness
Mindfulness can be practiced formally as “mindfulness meditation” and can also be practiced informally through the process of paying close attention to whatever one is doing, whether washing dishes or enjoying a beautiful sunset. The formal practice of mindfulness meditation has gained popularity and scientific credibility through the writing, teaching, and research efforts of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). An MIT-trained molecular biologist, Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founding Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founding director of the renowned Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Mindfulness, Health, and Healing
The practice of mindfulness meditation has been associated with several cognitive and emotional benefits, including emotional regulation (Chambers, Lo, & Allen, 2008) and enhanced information processing speed (Moore & Malinowski, 2009). Mindfulness appears to support the empathy, acceptance, and compassion of therapists (Fulton, 2005), qualities that enhance the effectiveness of therapy. Some of the health benefits of mindfulness meditation include improved cardiac functioning, enhanced immune system functioning, and improved sleep for those suffering from chronic insomnia (Shapiro & Carlson, 2009).
In the field of psychotherapy, there are now several empirically validated therapeutic modalities incorporating mindfulness as a therapeutic process:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Mindfulness-based treatment approaches have been successfully applied to anxiety, depression, personality disorders, psychotic symptoms, stress symptoms, chronic pain, and substance abuse (Shapiro & Carlson, 2009).
One way to understand the difference of approach between a purely cognitive method of dealing with distressing thoughts vs. a mindfulness-oriented approach is through the following simple example.
Imagine a therapy client complaining of the following thought to their therapist:
“I am worthless”.
A cognitive therapist would be inclined to use Socratic questioning to support “cognitive restructuring” of the thought, helping the client to disprove the thought. A mindfulness-oriented therapist using an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approach would likely facilitate the client towards cognitive “defusion” (Wilson & DuFrene, 2008), resulting in the client’s acknowledgement that, “I am having a thought that I am worthless”. The awareness of the “thinker” in relation to the “thought” can create emotional distance from the thought without having to change it. Defusion can diminish and remove the stress that can be the consequence of distorted or reactive thoughts, while “fusion” with our thoughts, invests, “…them with authority and consequence…” (Wilson & DuFrene, 2008, p. 51).
Notice how the first statement, “I am worthless”, is a statement of identity, while the second statement, “I am having a thought that I am worthless”, recognizes the distinction between the thinker and the thought. This distinction can be labeled as an example of cognitive defusion, which refers to a process that allows an individual to, “…look at…thoughts rather than from them” (Hayes & Smith, 2005, p. 70). The practice of mindfulness supports cognitive defusion, and is more about the “observation” of thoughts than deconstructive “analysis” of them. When we are aware of our thoughts, we can be free from their literalized constraints. Then, we can choose to act based upon our values and intentions, rather than react to people and situations that activate potentially stressful thoughts.
You don’t have to change your thoughts and feelings to create peace with your thoughts and feelings! Changing your relationship to your thoughts and feelings can result in making peace with them.
Mindfulness on and off the Meditation Cushion
Mindfulness can be practiced formally, as in mindfulness meditation, where the practitioner is seated in a stable position, with the mind focused upon an object of concentration such as the breath. When distracted, the practitioner gently returns their focus back to the object of concentration.
Mindfulness can also be practiced in a more informal way, outside of the structure of a meditation practice. Each waking moment allows us an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Standing and waiting in a long line at a grocery store when we are pressed for time provides a space for practicing patience, an important attitude in support of mindfulness. When we are stressed by conflict at work or home, we have another opportunity to observe the physical or emotional tension that arises, applying mindfulness to our thoughts, speech, and actions, which can prevent unskillful communications and other actions that might impair our relationship with a spouse, partner, friend, client, or co-worker.
The A-B-Cs of Mindfulness
A simple way of remembering the essential components of mindfulness practice involves what I call the “A-B-Cs of Mindfulness”:
Acceptance of all experiences, the essential attitudinal stance that supports the practice
Body awareness, which refers to posture and is related to physical accommodations (e.g., a comfortable chair or cushions) that support the practice
Concentration upon an object of awareness, such as the breath
Acceptance infuses mindfulness practice with an open attitude that meets reality (e.g., thoughts, feelings, perceptions) on reality’s terms, without avoiding or opposing our present-centered experiences.
Body awareness creates stability for the practice of mindfulness through proprioceptive feedback about our posture and level of muscular relaxation. Body awareness establishes a conscious connection to our body that is supportive of acceptance, concentration, and a sense of being grounded.
Concentration cultivates sustained, focused attention upon an object of awareness. In the context of mindfulness meditation, a typical object of concentration is the sensation of the breath upon inhalation and exhalation. The point of focus for the breath is usually at the level of the diaphragm or at the nostrils.
Acceptance supports a sense of peaceful openness, body awareness promotes a stable connection to the body and physical environment, and concentration cultivates mental stability and calmness. Mindfulness allows us to know when we have strayed from acceptance, body awareness, and concentration.
The practice of mindfulness can be applied to our mind, body, and emotions, essentially anything that we encounter internally or in our outer world, including stressful situations and difficult relationships.
Mindfulness and Intention
Just as attention and an accepting attitude are essential components of mindfulness, so is intention (Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, & Freedman, 2006), which is a reflection of the purposeful nature of mindfulness practice. Individuals have various intentions for practicing mindfulness. Some use mindfulness as a form of stress or pain management, others practice mindfulness to enhance specific abilities such as concentration, emotional regulation, and self-awareness, while the primary intention for many spiritually motivated practitioners is to liberate the mind and care for others with acceptance, kindness, and compassion.
If Not Now, When?
Regardless of one’s intention, the practice of mindfulness is a pathway for making peace with self, others, and the world. Whatever circumstances that you face, now is the time to breathe mindfully, relax, and open to yourself and others with acceptance, appreciation, and kindness. If not now, when?
Please join the Mind Body Medicine Network’s next webinar on “Mindfulness for Health, Healing, and Mind-Body Integration” with Larry Cammarata, Ph.D. on June 16, 2013 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. Learn how to apply the skils of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation to enhance personal and professional effectiveness. The benefits of mindfulness meditation include improved cardiovascular health, enhanced concentration, increased self-awareness, anxiety reduction, decreased stress and chronic pain, and improved sleep. Larry Cammarata, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist practicing in Asheville, North Carolina who specializes in mindfulness-oriented psychotherapy and education. He is a Lead Faculty Area Chair of Psychology for the University of Phoenix. Larry is a regular speaker for FACES Conferences, an organization that brings together leaders and experts in mindfulness and psychology. He is a published author who was designated as an “Author-Expert” by IDEA for his writing, teaching, and practice in the field of mind-body health, fitness, and wellness. Along with Jack Kornfield, Dan Siegel, Marsha Linehan, and other leaders in the field of mindfulness-oriented psychology, Larry co-authored a book entitled, “A Year of Living Mindfully: 52 Quotes & Weekly Mindfulness Practices”. Larry is an instructor of the Chinese martial and healing arts of Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong. He has authored a DVD entitled, “Qigong for Health and Vitality: The Eight Pieces of Brocade.” He has presented his work on mindful movement at Investigating and Integrating Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, an annual international scientific conference hosted by the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He can be contacted via his website at http://www.Mind-BodyWellness.org.. Cost $30. For more information and to register for Dr. Cammarata’s webinar go to:
Chambers, R., Lo, B. C. Y., & Allen, N. B. (2008). The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect.
Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32, 303–322. doi:10.1007/s10608-007–9119-0
Fulton, P. R. (2005). Mindfulness as clinical training. In C. K. Germer, R. D. Siegel, & P. R. Fulton (Eds.), Mindfulness and psychotherapy (pp. 55–72). New York: Guilford Press.
Germer, C.K. 2005. Mindfulness: What is it? What does it matter? In C.K. Germer, R.D. Siegel, & P.R. Fulton (Eds.), Mindfulness and psychotherapy (pp. 3-27). New York: Guilford Press.
Gunaratana, H. (1991). Mindfulness in plain english. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.
Hayes, S. C., & Smith, S. (2005). Get out of your mind & into your life: The new acceptance and commitment therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Delta.
Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 176 –186. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2008.12.008
Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, John A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(3), 373-386. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20237
Shapiro, L. & Carlson, L. E. (2009). The art and science of mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness into psychology and the helping professions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Wilson, K. G. & DuFrene. (2008). Mindfulness for two: An acceptance and commitment therapy approach to mindfulness in psychotherapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Helping You or Your Clients to Develop More Resilience
Resilience is our ability to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward after a setback — to snap back into place after being stretched to our breaking point. When our difficulties include chronic illness and/or pain, the challenges can be both psychological and physical. Let’s explore some ways we can develop more resilience.
The Perception of Failure
The first ingredient involves our perceived shortcomings and our own definition of failure. Did a chronic illness diagnosis make it necessary to leave behind a career or an athletic interest we loved and enjoyed? Did our ongoing symptoms prove to be something a spouse or partner could no longer cope with?
Our perception of failure is critical to developing resilience. The lens through which we view our life experiences casts a certain tint to what has taken place and what will occur in the future. Are we viewing life through a pair of dark, gloomy glasses, or do we see things through more optimistic, rose-colored ones?
An optimistic perception is hard-earned for many people. It takes some cognitive retraining, positive affirmation and other conscious behavioral changes to shift our patterns of thinking. And for those of us with chronic illnesses and painful conditions, our distressing physical symptoms can erode optimism.
If we nurture our ability to find value and success within our current physical reality, then we are well on our way to unlocking one of the secrets of resilience.
Conversely, if we perceive life experiences as meaningless and futile, then we won’t have confidence in our ability to survive them and thrive despite them. This is the reason we need those rose-colored glasses – to help us move forward and achieve some positive outcomes for ourselves.
Accepting Some Truths and Creating a New Path
Another aspect of resilience is our ability to accept reality and to find ways to be creative within it. Sometimes we will need to explore new paths altogether. As a little child with juvenile arthritis, I readily accepted many aspects of my physical reality. For example, I knew that my chances of being a ballerina were quite remote, therefore, I didn’t spend much time pondering what I knew was outside of the scope of my physical ability at that time.
What I did instead was to build upon some of my attributes and pursue interests which were within my realm. My brain worked like a flowchart with the standard, “if not, then” logic. I always had a “then” in mind since I knew there would be some “nots.”
It definitely is more difficult to handle the “nots” as adults, though, since we tend to be more set in our ways and have more previous experiences with which to compare our current reality. But it’s still vital to our level of resilience to avoid getting caught in the trap of thinking only about what we cannot do. There are still plenty of things we can do.
Something Bigger Than Our Illness to Connect With
Looking to the world outside of our skin and connecting with something that holds more power than our illnesses can boost our levels of resilience. Whether it’s the overwhelming natural beauty of our planet, the love we feel in the company of other human beings, or a higher power, we have an array of choices when it comes to these larger-than-life concepts.
How do these connections help with resilience? We can gain strength and energy from them. They help us to not feel quite so alone in our struggles and can provide us with something to focus on that makes our illnesses seem smaller in comparison.
Now that we have focused on 3 key ingredients to resilience, let’s explore some ways to implement them:
- Redefine what failure means. Even in the midst of the most painful life situations, you have still managed to do something successfully. Identify it and celebrate it. Plan to achieve more success in the future.
- Is there an aspect of your physical reality that you have not yet accepted? Is it because you equate acceptance of some limitations with destroying what you’ve dreamed of accomplishing? Dream a different dream. Sure, it may be painful to dismiss or delay the achievement of a dream, but you have the power to revise your dream accordingly and in a way that will ensure success.
- What lies outside of your skin that is “larger” than your illness? A body of knowledge, a higher power, the love of your family, an activity in which you can completely lose yourself…the list is infinite. Pursuing these connections and interests can provide you with additional strength and positivity and will help you to look forward to what lies ahead.
Even if your natural level of resilience is limited by your life experiences, your personality or other factors, you can still work toward the goal of becoming more resilient. It may take practice and some time to instill the necessary habits that foster resiliency, but it will be well worth the effort.
Tina will be the featured presenter on our next webinar entitled “Using Intrinsic Skills and Traits to Help Overcome Chronic Illness and Pain.” Join us on Sunday, March 3, 2013 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST. In addition to her experience as a counselor and healthcare advocate, Tina has lived well despite chronic illness since she was a young child. Learn some of her strategies to help you, your clients, and patients live a more vibrant, peaceful life that includes improving physical symptoms as well. Cost is $30. 1.5 CE’s available for most mental health and healthcare providers. For more information and to register for the webinar, please go to:
Self-regulation has been succinctly defined as, “processes that maintain the functioning of the individual in optimal ways” (Siegel, 2012, p. AI-73). Self-regulating practices contribute to the health and wellness of individuals, couples, families, and communities. At the individual level, self-regulation can be as simple as taking time out for slow, intentional, conscious breathing. Self-regulation practiced in a community setting can involve singing, dancing, praying, chanting, mindful walking, and drumming.
The Five Rs of Self-Regulation
The Five Rs of Self-Regulation comprise a framework for understanding and applying some of the essential mechanisms of self-regulation. Let’s now review each of these principles as they relate to self-regulation for sleep, noting that these points can also be applied to problems of chronic pain, stress, and illness.
Rooting refers to being harmoniously connected to your body as well as sources of social and environmental support. An individual who is “rooted” experiences a stable and safe connection to their body, social relationships, and the environment. Methods that facilitate rooting include body awareness practices such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, and some forms of meditation. As applied to the sleep environment, rooting is exemplified by a comfortable connection to one’s bed and pillow that allows for “surrendering” into sleep.
Rooting is about relationship, which can include the relationship to one’s body, others, and the environment. When you are in opposition to your body, other people, or the world, you are likely to experience conflict and tension, which can challenge your ability to maintain harmonious connections. The antidote for this stressful oppositional stance is creating peace through “acceptance”. Acceptance, however, is different than a feeling of resignation and self-defeat. Acceptance is about being aligned with reality on reality’s terms, which can feel energizing, joyful, and uplifting.
With regard to sleep problems such as insomnia, although you or your clients naturally don’t “like” the problem, a lack of acceptance of the problem can result in additional stress, shame, guilt, anxiety, or denial. As with so many other chronic conditions (e.g., pain), for those suffering from sleep disorders, acceptance is a powerful first step towards creating peace and opening the door to receiving help. Acceptance is further reinforced by belief, which creates a positive expectancy that your efforts will relieve suffering and result in healing. Rooting supports stability, acceptance creates peace, and belief provides the nourishment necessary for healing to occur. Practice: As you enter your bed, allow yourself to yield to gravity as if your body was sinking deeply down into your mattress. Let yourself feel the comfortable connection between your body, mattress, bedding, and pillow as a welcoming invitation to the realm of sleep.
Relaxation involves letting go of tension, a softening or loosening from a prior state of constriction. The process of relaxation is more easily facilitated when an individual feels stable and safe. Therefore, the deeper the stable “roots” (connection) you have to your body, relationships, and environment, the more effortlessly you can let go and relax. The opposite of relaxation can be seen in states of hyper-arousal, as when an individual suffering from severe PTSD is continuously “on-guard” and vigilant against external dangers. Practices and methods that can facilitate a state of relaxation include biofeedback, self-hypnosis, relaxation training (e.g., progressive muscular relaxation and Autogenic Training), and various breathing exercises. In relationship to sleep, relaxation of the musculature is often experienced as a sense of heaviness and softness. Practice: One relaxing self-suggestion that can support sleep is, “My body is heavy and relaxed”. Silently repeat this statement several times as you lie upon your bed, without trying to feel heavy or relaxed.
Respiration as a self-regulatory process refers to more than simply breathing. Respiration refers to breathing in a way that is natural, unimpeded, and slow. Just as rooting supports relaxation, relaxation supports self-regulating respiration. Practices that facilitate self-regulating respiration include yogic breathing exercises, tai chi, qigong, and various forms of meditation. In the ancient Chinese healing art of qigong, practitioners are often trained to breathe in a manner that is slow, long, deep, smooth, calm, and fine. Breathing in this intentionally self-regulated way can induce profoundly deep states of relaxation. Breathing with an emphasis upon an extended exhalation can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, providing a tranquilizing effect without the use of sleeping medications! Over time, the practice of intentional self-regulated breathing results in a respiration pattern that is naturally calming without conscious control. Practice: Take 5 to 10 slow, long, deep, calm inhalations and exhalations throughout the day and prior to bedtime, allowing your relaxed belly to expand upon inhalation and contract upon exhalation.
Rhythm refers to a repetitive pattern over time. Rhythm can be expressed by internal and external actions. With regard to the internal process of respiration, it’s easy to see how the rhythm of one’s breath can be relaxing (e.g., characterized by slow, long, deep, soft-bellied, evenly spaced inhalations and exhalations) or contributory to tension (e.g., characterized by a constricted abdominal region with rapid, shallow, unevenly spaced inhalations and exhalations). Rhythm can also be expressed through your external movements and speech. For example, when walking and talking, you express movement and sound in a patterned way. This pattern can be relaxing or activating, depending upon the pace and intensity of your behavior.
The pace of your behavior creates a metaphorical space in your mind and body that reinforces the process of slowing down or speeding up. Self-regulating rhythms can therefore be slow or fast. Practices and activities such as tai chi, yoga, meditation, drumming, dancing, singing, chanting, spoken prayer, poetry recitation, running, and walking can all potentially activate the power of self-regulating rhythms. It’s important to keep in mind that slow is the fast route to sleep-inducing rhythms. Slowing down will get you to sleep more quickly!
Just as the sleep state involves a slowing down of physiological processes, slow rhythms are supportive of sleep. In preparation for sleep, it’s advisable to speak slowly and softly, move slowly, and breathe slowly, allowing this slow rhythm to follow you into the bed in preparation for sleep. After all, when have you ever heard of the admonition, “hurry up and get to sleep”? Practice: Take time to walk slowly, allowing for one slow inhalation of your breath to be coordinated with one stride of your left leg and one slow exhalation coordinated with the stride of your right leg. Let this breath-movement rhythm be supported by firmly rooted footsteps, a relaxed body, and calm breathing.
Remembering refers to mindfully integrating the principles of “rooting”, “relaxation”, “respiration”, and “rhythm” that are described above. Integration takes practice; consistent repetitive practice leads to self-mastery over time.
A famous saying tells us that, “repetition is the mother of skill”. Although a highly skilled tai chi master might not have to remember to relax, most people can benefit from reminders such as “soften your belly”, “relax your shoulders”, and “breathe calmly”. Reminders can be received in the form of external instruction (e.g., guidance from a tai chi teacher, yoga instructor, or therapist) and can also be a result of ongoing self-regulating practices. For example, an advanced tai chi practitioner knows when their shoulders are holding excess tension because of the refined body awareness cultivated through the intensive practice of their art. In this way, “the practice becomes the teacher”.
Being mindful can help you to remember what is supportive of healthy sleep. Mindfulness has been succinctly defined as, “…awareness…of present experience…with acceptance” (Germer, 2005, p. 7). Mindfulness informs you about the present state of your mind, words, and actions. The formal practice of mindfulness meditation has been associated with several physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits, including emotional regulation (Chambers, Lo, & Allen, 2008).
The practice of mindfulness is like a clear reflective mirror that allows the practitioner to learn about the state of their mind, body, and emotions through the process of non-judgmental observation in the present moment. Mindfulness helps you to remember the intention, focus, practices, and attitudes that can support you in your journey into restful sleep. Mindfulness supports self-regulation and can be practiced formally as a meditation or “organically” through self-reflective awareness throughout your waking day.
A mindful daytime can contribute to comfort and ease during the nighttime, paving a royal road to sleep and dreaming. The invitation to you, dear reader, is to practice “remembering”.
Please join Larry Cammarata, Ph.D., Linda Cammarata, RN, RYT, Heather Butts, JD, MPH, MA, and Ed Glauser, M.Ed., N.C.C., LPC for a lively, interactive and informative webinar entitled “Eight Keys: A Pathway to Natural Sleep,” on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST. This webinar will be an introduction to the upcoming online Mind Body Medicine Sleep Training that will be starting in Spring 2013. For more information and to register for the January 13th webinar, please go to http://www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/Webinars.html.
Chambers, R., Lo, B. C. Y., & Allen, N. B. (2008). The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32, 303–322. doi:10.1007/s10608-007–9119-0
Germer, C.K. 2005. Mindfulness. In C.K. Germer, R.D. Siegel, & P.R. Fulton (Eds.), Mindfulness and psychotherapy (pp. 3-27). New York: Guilford Press.
Siegel, D.J. 2012. Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology. New York: W.W. Norton.
Infertility. Those who find themselves in the midst of this challenge consider it a scourge. Just as couples feel ready to start a new phase of life, they feel at the end of life in the mainstream now their peers have moved on to parenthood. They feel lost. Traversing through the infertility challenge ranks way up there as a major stumbling block. The flow of life feels frozen in time and space.
Mind/Body/Spirit. The unity of mind/body/spirit is not the first thing that people think of as a way to address the inordinate stress of this stumbling block. But mind/body/spirit coping skills can convert this stumbling block to getting on with life into a building block.
How, you might ask? Let’s start with the concept of what I call “The Three A’s.” Nothing can change without Acceptance. Most people assume that they will conceive and find it hard to believe that it’s not happening. Once the situation is accepted, Awareness can expand as to how you react rather than respond to stressful situations. As awareness builds, options for Adaptation can become clear. Here’s where mind/body/spirit coping skills can go far to teach people to survive and even thrive through this challenge—eventually entering the land of parenthood, by hook or by crook, as a new, improved version of themselves.
So what are these adaptive skills? The tendency is to want to run from adversity. It is counter intuitive to go into what feels like a minefield. Yet, the key to health and healing is to honor what the body, mind and spirit (intuition) communicate to us. We either ignore the messages of body or mind, or we don’t quiet ourselves sufficiently to listen to our inner wisdom.
Nature loves the truth. And the truth is that we have a built-in tranquilizer called our breath. The heart of mind/body/spirit techniques involves paying attention to our breathing. Letting go of the frenzy of life and just being with our breath is a simple concept, but in this fast-paced world, many find it difficult. It’s a skill worth developing (reclaiming would be more accurate) because it will break the physical and mental spasm of stress, providing reprieve.
Other mind/body/spirit skills involve doing things that also have the potential to put distance between frenzy and relief. Seeking social support, distraction with a predictably pleasant pastime, yoga or tai chi or mindfully engaging in creative endeavors are just a few examples. It is important to know that it may feel impossible to enjoy life in these ways, but you have a choice about letting the voice of negative prediction pull you down, or deciding to invest in positive activities which have the power to provide an attitude adjustment.
As a psychotherapist, I’d be remiss if I left out the power of self-reflection in the face of adversity, which is often difficult if not impossible because of the subjective involvement. A trained professional can help to unearth stumbling blocks that are rooted in past experiences or in underlying belief systems.
Infertility creates an enormous need. It is important to know that no matter how lost you feel, the way out is through. Sooner or later, everyone arrives at a place in their lives where what they need to cope exceeds their coping repertoire. And it can be sweet to know that what else you need to know is available, as are people who can figuratively hold your hand through this difficult time. Mind/body coping skills can make all the difference in getting to feel competent in the face of life’s most challenging tribulations.
(Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD, the author of this blog will be joining the Mind Body Medicine Network for her webinar on “Finding the Fertility in Infertility” on Sunday, December 16th at 7:00 p.m. EST. For more information and to register for Helen’s webinar, please go to: http://www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/Webinars.html
Ed Glauser, M.Ed., N.C.C., LPC
Owner and Principal Clinician
Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC
Five Fundamental Principles of Mind Body Medicine: An Integrative Approach for Optimal Psychological and Physical HealthNovember 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Insomnia, Migraine Headaches, Mind Body Medicine, Pain Management, Pain Relief, Sleep Health, Stress Management | 4 Comments
Published on November 29, 2012 by Ed Glauser, M.Ed., N.C.C., LPC
There are five fundamental principles that account for the effectiveness of using an integrative mind body medicine approach in teaching people how to self-regulate symptoms associated with numerous psychological and physical conditions. So much of what I have learned about mind body medicine comes from my mentor and friend, Mark Weisberg, Ph.D., a well- known health psychologist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Whether you are a clinician, client, patient or just interested in the power of mind body medicine in bringing healing to health related issues, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover how learning and applying just a few of Dr. Weisberg’s five fundamental principles in mind body medicine can affect the power of your mind to confidently self-regulate and even alter pain and distress pathways.
Dr. Weisberg is one of the leading experts in the United States in the fields of mind body medicine, clinical hypnosis, and health psychology. He is currently in private practice as a health psychologist and operates an integrative pain clinic in partnership with physicians in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Dr. Weisberg has published scholarly articles, books, and presented at many national and international conferences on integrative mind body medicine, clinical hypnosis, and health psychology. Being able to have Dr. Weisberg as one of my primary supervisors as I worked on and received a certification in both mind body medicine and clinical hypnosis was one of the most valuable learning experiences of my professional life as a clinician. It was due to Dr. Weisberg’s outstanding affirmation and guidance that eventually led me to establish the Mind Body Medicine Network, an international online educational webinar provider for clinicians and the lay public.
I believe that you and the people you would like to share these mind body medicine principles with will discover effective and easy to use tools for self-regulation that can contribute significantly to life-long health, vitality and wellbeing. Dr. Weisberg often cites the following five fundamental principles as the foundation for mind body medicine practice.
First: Believe in the power of mind body medicine and your ability to heal. We all have the internal healing resources necessary for healing or to significantly lessen any suffering that comes from many health related conditions.
Second: Our internal healing resources can be found both within and outside of our conscious awareness. We can access these resources through the visceral belief and confidence in our capacity to heal by tapping into experiential and evidence-based mind body medicine principles. Dr. Weisberg states that a mere cognitive understanding of these mind body medicine principles is not enough to bring about healing. To heal, we need an internal experience of change that is experienced experientially, emotionally, and viscerally. A neurobiological explanation that affirms this deeply felt experience is demonstrated by both understanding our brain architecture and confidently engaging the parts of our brain that will bring about mind body healing. When we experience a novel and visceral experience, the pre-frontal cortex of our brain fires up and allows us to over-ride the amygdala that often triggers emotional suffering and physical discomfort including inflammation. We can all benefit from an understanding of the tremendous capacity of the power of the mind to influence the healing of the body. Further validation of these mind body medicine principles comes from exploring the latest research that documents the neuroplasticity of the brain and the burgeoning field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).
Third: Each of us has our own unique set of psycho-physiologic triggers that communicate early warning signals that distress or illness is approaching. Being mindful of our intrinsic power to recognize and heal these triggers as they arise early on can help us to more confidently and effectively bring down symptoms of distress or pain.
Fourth: Focus on noticing the little changes of improvement to our health to gain more confidence along the way. Even if the minor improvements are temporary or the pain or illness manifests in another part of our mind or body, we can see how to self-regulate. This will play an important role in changing pathways from pain and illness to resilience and confidence. We all have the capacity to be mindfully aware of all the subtle ways to self-regulate and slowly titrate down any physical pain or psychological discomfort. If we can appreciate even the smallest improvements to our health issues, we will eventually be on the path to significant healing.
Fifth: From Dr. Weisberg, I learned the efficacy of honoring each person’s unique path to healing. The notion of allowing people to heal in their own time, in their own way, and at their own pace gives both clinicians and people who suffer with pain and illness the freedom to discover their own terms for healing and at the right time. This individual perspective alleviates the pressure on the clinician to be the expert in picking the “perfect” time, way, and pace for their patient’s healing to occur.
In my own clinical practice, I do my best to honor all of these fundamental principles of mind body medicine practice that I learned from Dr. Weisberg. Whether I am engaged in talk therapy or sharing any experiential mind body medicine modality like clinical hypnosis, I am consistently reminded of the beauty and healing power found within each client to heal in their own time, in their way, and at their pace.
It is an honor to host our next Mind Body Medicine Network webinar with Mark Weisberg, Ph.D. on Sunday, December 9th at 7:00 p.m. EST during a 90-minute interactive experience where all of us can engage in a deeper learning of these mind body medicine principles for change and healing. For more information on Dr. Weisberg’s webinar and to register, please go to:
Ed Glauser, M.Ed., N.C.C., LPC
Owner and Principal Clinician
Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC
Healing the Mind in Order to Heal Chronic Pain in the Body (by Howard Schubiner, MD and Ed Glauser, LPC)November 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Migraine Headaches, Mind Body Medicine, Pain Management, Pain Relief, Stress Management | 10 Comments
An epidemic of chronic pain and related disorders is occurring in the United States and around the world. Investigators estimate that 113 million individuals have chronic pain in the United States, and this number is increasing.
The traditional biomedical model attempts to identify an underlying local and structural cause of pain. The efficacy of this approach has not been demonstrated for these chronic painful conditions however, as is clear when one considers the number of people who suffer with these conditions on a regular basis. The disorders considered in this article exclude those with objective evidence of structural disease, such as cancer, fractures, and inflammatory and infectious conditions.
Little doubt exists that genetic predispositions occur with many conditions, such as migraine, anxiety and depression. However, studies have shown that life events are required to trigger these conditions, that is, to cause expression of underlying genetic predispositions. Because of the inability to identify and treat the underlying cause, attention has shifted to pain management. However, biomedical approaches to pain management, including pain medications, injection techniques, and surgical and chemical ablations, have also not been shown to be efficacious. Clearly, a new model for these disorders is needed. This article will describe a mind-body model in which these disorders are considered to be related to individual reactions to stressful (and even traumatic) events and unresolved emotions.
Clear evidence indicates that pain can originate in the absence of a tissue disorder in the area where pain is being felt as seen in phantom limb syndrome. A study by Derbyshire et al confirmed that pain initiated by the brain is identical to pain originating in peripheral tissues.
Learned pain pathways can develop after an injury (even a mild one) or can be created during times of significant stress and emotional reactions. Although most injuries heal within a reasonable amount of time, pain pathways can persist (become “wired”), thus creating chronic pain that is often refractory to medical therapies. These pain pathways are often very specific and can involve discrete or large areas of the body. Pain induced by psychophysiological (PPD) processes frequently moves or changes, as opposed to the pain caused by a specific injury or disease process.
Once a biomedical condition has been ruled out, the next step is to understand the linkages between priming and triggering (bio-psycho-social) events and the onset of PPD symptoms. Howard Schubiner, MD, who is the author of the article this blog is recreating, as well as his book, Unlearn Your Pain provides an evidence-based protocol that can assist clinicians and the lay public to become educated regarding the nature of PPD’s. The Unlearn Your Pain program consists of a mixture of cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and emotional expressive techniques. The author’s program has been shown to increase an internal locus of control (i.e. participants begin to believe that their thoughts and actions are capable of reversing their PPD symptoms). Finally, individuals who have endured significant childhood and adult stressors and who have suffered with chronic pain often have a negative view of themselves and low levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy. Therefore, an overarching theme for guiding individuals with PPD to health is the development of love and kindness toward oneself. This can be accomplished by positive affirmations, by meditations and visualizations, and by encouraging participants in the program to stand up for themselves and take time to do things for themselves.
Dr. Schubiner’s webinar on the Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC entitled “Chronic Pain and Associated Symptoms: Healing the Mind in Order to Heal the Body,” on Sunday, November 11, 2012 will be an ideal way for clinicians and the lay public to more specifically learn and apply these effective chronic pain reduction (and in many cases, pain eliminating) and life enhancing techniques in an interactive format. For those people that register for the webinar, a free audio and video recording will be available as an unlisted URL link on YouTube. To get more information and to register for the webinar with Dr. Schubiner, please click on the following link at:
(Blog was taken from excerpts from Dr. Howard Schubiner’s article in the Expert Consult Book, wwww.expertconsultbook.com, Chapter 100 – Emotional Awareness for Pain, In Rakel, Integrative Medicine, 3rd Edition, 2012. Ed Glauser, LPC developed blog from this article)
I recently came across a quote that was attributed to the Buddha. The quote reminded me of how everything we do really does matters. Everyday life experiences influences our health, our well-being, and our ability to let go into the sacred night of sleeping and dreaming.
The quote reads: “My actions are my only belongings: I cannot escape their consequences. My actions are the ground on which I stand.” We repeat our actions over and over again and again everyday some are positive and some are negative actions. Building the bridge of “awareness of our actions” can be a direct practice of cultivating a life with peaceful sleep.
Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery is educational in nature and can be used in conjunction with your current healthcare providers approach in treating your insomnia.
Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery explore practices that strengthen your awareness in relationship to your actions, reactions, daily habits, rituals, and your beliefs resulting in deeper peace, increased relaxation and improved sleeping patterns. The eight keys offer teachings in self-regulation. Self-regulation is a mindfulness practice that leads to healthier days and healthier nights.
In our revved-up culture many of our actions have become reactions, resulting in habitual unhealthy stress referred to as “hyper-arousal”. Chronic “hyper-arousal” can lead to overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. That overstimulation can interfere with our natural rhythms that lead to states of healthy deep sleep. Thinking we “escape” what we do during the daytime is an illusion. Our life does not stop when we get into our bed at night. Our day can follow us into bed at night. Perhaps you can recall a recent event that haunted your restless sleep. Remembering these restlessness nights helps to craft a healthier daytime life, one that is more reflective of peace, acceptance, and equanimity. The good news is you can learn how to decrease hyper-arousal through self-regulation practices.
Learning how to manage daytime stress can reduce the frequency of interrupted sleep. Feeding the pattern of “hyper-arousal” with reactive negativity may result in anxiety that can keep you awake at night. Your body and mind is attempting to toss and turn away the state of hyper-arousal. The first practice is to discharge the pent-up energy that has been stored throughout the day prior to sleep at night. The practice that follows is to learn how to self-regulate the amount of energy you take in and give out throughout the day. Your body is very intelligent and will “hunt” for ways to release, relax and let go into deeper states of sleeping and dreaming.
You can think of hyper-arousal as overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Overstimulation may result in sleeplessness, middle of the night ruminating about the past and up the next day feeling fatigued and frustrated. Night after night we rob the body of specialized natural healing that occurs only during sleep. Learning skills of “self-regulation” paves the way to healthier sleep, a healthier body and a healthier mind.
Natural Sleep Recovery offers Eight Keys for understanding and exploring the art and science of “self-regulation”. Natural Sleep Recovery defines “self-regulation” as mindfulness-based practices that influence a healthy relationship to sleeping and dreaming. Though mindfulness roots come from the study of Buddhism it is to not a religious practice. Mindfulness is educational in nature. Mindfulness can be simply defined as: experiencing your life with an attitude of acceptance while cultivating a relaxed, present-centered awareness.
The Eight Keys of Natural Sleep Recovery assist you in making the shifts that are required to experience deeper states of relaxation, sleeping and dreaming. The Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery provide a clear understanding of what habits and challenges keep you from deep restorative sleep. Today, we understand that healthy food, adequate exercise, positive relationships, and healthy attitudes of equanimity lead to deep restorative sleeping and dreaming.
Within each of the Eight Keys there are a number of specific skills that you can explore. Each key point will help you learn how to improve your sleeping and dreaming. Natural Sleep Recovery opens your life to reclaiming deep sleep.
Key # 1: Recognize: Rhythms and cycles are essential to all life on our planet. Our fast-paced lifestyle has pulled us away from our natural rhythms and most people today are “simply out of synch with their circadian rhythms”. Being out of synch with your circadian rhythms can result in serious health challenges. Circadian Rhythms are our biological internal clock that regulates physiological changes necessary for maintaining health. Circadian Rhythms are influenced by light and the darkness found within a 24-hour period. Along with light and darkness our habits have a direct influence on the health of our natural rhythms. Daily habits can be healthy and many daily habits are simply not healthy, we have lost touch with our rhythms. Circadian Rhythms are essential to our body being able to have a natural sleep-awake cycle. Take a few moments to explore your daily habits. Recognize that what you do during the day influences how well you rest at night.
Key Points to Remember:
- How much natural light are you exposed to during the morning and the evening?
- 20 Minutes of being outside in natural morning light and 20 minutes of late afternoon natural light will help to set your Circadian Rhythms.
- How much blue light exposure do you consume during your awakened hours? Blue light is basically our electrical lights, TV, computer screens etc.
- Blue light exposure is a concern in the evening. Too much TV/Computer exposure in the evening can delay Melatonin production.
- To decrease blue light exposure in the evening wear Blue Blocker glasses after 7 pm. Reduce the amount of blue-light exposure beginning with 10% less exposure. Turn you house lights to a dim setting in the evening.
- Is your room completely blackened with no light exposure at night?
- Blocking out all light in your bedroom will influence Melatonin production resulting in healthier Circadian Rhythms.
Key 2: Examine: Examine your natural rhythms in an honest, open manner. Examining your patterns and habits in this honest, natural manner can strengthen your ability to deep states of sleeping and dreaming.
Key Points to Remember:
- What is your nightly pattern of retiring to bed?
- Conditioning a pattern of nightly bedtime in a healthy relationship to sleep that supports your overall mental and physical health.
- Begin by going to bed by 10 pm 5 nights a week, eventually extend that time to 6 nights per week. Your body will naturally signal you that it is time to go to bed. Be patient it can take several months of practice to synch with your circadian rhythms.
- Examine your thoughts throughout the day. Remember what we think, how we respond to our life and how we utilize our daytime energy influences how well we can let go at night. Thoughts carry powerful messages into our mental and physical body. Begin to mindfully catch yourself prior to a knee-jerk pattern of communicating.
- Allow and cultivate more friendliness in your personal life, begin at home with those closest to you.
Key 3: Explore: Explore your relationship to sleep and allow your relationship to become loving, patient, appreciative, and compassionate. One of the greatest challenges with chronic insomnia is that you may have developed a pattern of anxiety in relating to your living life. This can be a result of chronic hyper-arousal. Hyper-arousal stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, which is over-stimulating, tiring, and conflicts with deep relaxation and sleep. Explore the possibility of learning to let go of your habits of reaction that may include: anxiety, frustration and anger. Replace those reactions of hyper-arousal interference with caring, patience and appreciation. We can learn to fall back in love with sleeping and dreaming.
Key Points to Remember:
- Develop a morning ritual that may be a simple reading that helps you remember your loving-heart.
- Get outside in the morning light to get a dose of self-regulation.
- Pace your energy throughout the day to include brief periods of deep, slow, long breaths. This will activate the parasympathetic nervous system resulting in conscious deep restorative relaxation.
- Self-regulate your emotions during the day by increasing peaceful and thoughtful responses to your personal daily challenges.
Key 4: Track: Track your patterns with a mind and body of curiosity and interest.Practice inviting your observing mind into your life. Your observing mind is open to opportunities that will lead you to managing your mental and physical well-being. Tracking your life practices leads you into healthier, deeper and more restful sleeping and dreaming.
Key Points to Remember:
- Track your daily habits like: caffeine, nutrition, alcohol and exercise. Begin with realistic goals:
- Decrease your caffeine consumption by 20%.
- Decrease your sugar consumption by 20%.
- Decrease process food consumption by 20%.
- Decrease alcohol intake by 20%.
- Add 20% more water, fruit and veggies and natural foods into your daily intake. Know what you consume makes a difference in how you sleep.
- Everyday make a commitment to 20 minutes of exercise that moves energy in your body and mind. A good 30-minute walk is ideal. Morning light or late afternoon light is also ideal while exercising.
- Historically we tend to repeat our patterns. Connect yourself everyday to being aware of tracking your habits and patterns.
- Track how your attitude may be contributing to building up fatigue and stress.
- Releasing the stress during the day contributes to how well you can rest, relax and sleep at night.
Key 5: Allow: Invite and allow guidance that you are learning with an open mind. The attitude of “allowing” provides a receptive way of learning and retraining our patterns thus experiencing self-regulation. Inviting the practice of mindfulness can open your life to acceptance and cultivate relaxation. This invitation can increase your ability to be more aware and living gracefully “in-the-moment.’
Key Points to Remember:
- Begin everyday with an attitude of gratitude and acceptance.
- Allow time to get out of bed with ease and relaxation.
- Take a moment to remember your dream. Simply take notice of the dream. Do not try to figure it out. Be grateful for any dreaming. Cultivate an attitude that all dreams are healthy.
- Begin your day with a ritual that helps you to remember maintaining an open-spacious attitude will support your mental and physical health throughout the day.
- Allow time to pace your energy throughout the day, this creates a healthy pattern of not “pushing your energy” throughout the day and into the night.
- Allow deep breathing throughout the day. Extend your exhalation to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system for increase relaxation.
- Allow others to have their opinions, judgments and attitudes; they are going to have them anyway. Allow space for what has historically created contraction or judgment for you.
Key 6: Knowledge: Empowerment comes through knowledge. Become your best personal advocate for better sleep. Focus on a natural integrative approach that includes creating healthy lifestyle patterns and habits. Know that there are many ways to reclaim your sleep! Do not give up, and explore all possibilities.
Key Points to Remember:
- Review articles that provide knowledge of integrative and allopathic approaches to sleep.
- Review research findings on evidence-based integrative approaches. Notice how the study has been funded. This helps to determine if the study is objective or biased.
- Be open to exploring new sleep ideas that support healthy lifestyle practices for improving sleep. Stay away from gimmicks with a quick fix promise.
- Review all possibilities with your healthcare provider.
- Remember that sleep medication is best used on a short-term basis.
- Go to bed earlier than usual, and get up early to reset your natural rhythms.
- Learn new eating habits that reduce sugar, fried, and processed food. Learn why your body and brain requires healthy whole low carbohydrate food choices.
Key 7: Believe: Believing is a very powerful healing attitude. Research findings reveal that our beliefs and expectations influence the effectiveness of healthcare practices and treatments, supporting our ability to heal faster. Your body is always at work establishing a sense of internal balance. The body’s innate intelligence can lead you back to balanced, natural sleep rhythms.
Key Points to Remember:
- Believe in the intelligence of your circadian rhythms; honor your rhythms with practices and habits that support them.
- Maintain healthy bedtime and awakening routines to support your natural rhythms.
- Believe in your ability to heal with the support of your inner and outer resources.
- Believe in your ability to get back to a healthy sleeping pattern.
- Awakening in the middle of the night is not something to worry about. Believe that your body can get back to sleep.
- Know that when you are chronically sleep-deprived, your judgment can be impaired, mood may become depressed and energy can become depleted. Believe that you can restore your health by being mindful about how you are experiencing and living your daily life.
Key 8: Remember: Remember that you can learn how to reclaim deep sleep and dreaming. There may be a number of issues keeping you awake. There are many ways to effectively address your sleep issues.
Key Points to Remember:
- Review your attitudes and ideas about sleeping; explore any conditional sleep attitudes and beliefs that you can modify.
- Conditional sleep attitudes and beliefs may include ideas about what you think you cannot sleep without (e.g., alcohol, the sound of music).
- Remember that sleep is natural; the more you normalize ideas around sleep, the more relaxed you will become.
- Remember to take the drama out of sleep, and recall how to live with the daily cycles of daytime and nighttime.
- Practicing kindness during the daytime will lead to more peaceful nights, including the nights that you awaken with worry about getting back to sleep.
- Remember that you are not the only person awakening during the night; many people wake up and then go back to sleep, which is a natural process.
Join us on Sunday, October 21st at 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. for a FREE Beta Test experiential webinar on “The Circadian Rythms of Sleep Recovery,” with Linda Cammarata, RN, RYT to explore the Eight Keys to Natural Sleep Recovery through hatha yoga, qigong, mindful autogenics, breath work, and guided meditation. Click HERE for more information and to register today!
Again, the URL to register for the FREE Beta Test webinar is:
Written by Linda Cammarata, RN, RYT (For more information on Linda’s approach to Natural Sleep Recovery, please go to her website at http://www.mind-bodywellness.org/)
Tags: mind body medicine, Stress Management
Mind/body techniques take into consideration that the body is the historian. The body holds information that perhaps the mind wants to forget. In its determination to keep us honest, the body nags at us in the form of anxiety or gastrointestinal problems, head aches or muscle tension until we pay attention. Talk therapy provides mental relief and sometimes the body lets go, too. But mind/body interventions can add another dimension to our work.
How? Good question. Many of you may recognize that the attitude of separation of mind and body is passé. And so you may already have sought training in interventions that keep “the body in mind” like Somatic Experiencing, EMDR or Hypnosis. Others of you may have been trained in approaches to therapy in which mental health is considered mental. In either case, there are some simple but powerful and easy-to-learn ways to help people reverse the physiology of stress.
Talk therapy is the most reasonable place to start. We converse with our patients and they guide us so we can guide them through their anguish and confusions. By bringing cognitive understanding of life’s problems to awareness, and by building on their resources, there can be great relief from suffering.
But the body may not fully let go, even when there is great mental relief from our work. In addition, we need to consider that given all of the stress in life, we are all likely to arrive at a place sooner or later where our coping skills fall short of the demands of a stressful situation. Whether left-over residue or new stressors, with mind/body techniques we can use the mind to trick the brain (body) to let go of stress—often with very few words.
We can learn ourselves, and then we can teach patients that the body, which can be as uncomfortable to live in as the mind, is our ally. We can show them how to honor the body’s demand for recognition. We can teach them tools which bring balance and homeostasis to the body-mind. The key reason to learn mind/body skills is so we can set our patients up to feel a deeper, perhaps more permanent relief from suffering. Of most importance is our patients get to feel in the driver’s seat of their own lives. To feel empowered with mind/body skills is to have the power to heal as needed. And what can be more satisfying for us as therapists than to empower our patients?
Think of it this way: Coping can be broken down into two categories: “Problem-solving coping” is a cognitive, left brain approach to dealing with adversity. Cognitive behavioral therapy is famous for matching solutions to problems. So is seeking social support, discharging emotions into a journal, exercising and various healthy distractions such as humor or creative projects.
But another category of coping has been measured to provide empowerment in a statistically significant way. It has been called “letting-go coping.” This is different from problem-solving coping because it is about “being” rather than “doing.” “Letting-go coping” takes the patient under the turbulence—into their body. These techniques have in common focus on the breath. Conscious breathing helps us use our breath to enter our body.
Yogic breath work, the field-tested Relaxation Response™, guided imagery, the Labyrinth™, Mindfulness, Self-Hypnosis, Creating Affirmations—and more—will round out your repertoire of offerings to your patients, especially if talk therapy stalls. Join me in a two-day training seminar in New York City, co-sponsored by the Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC. You will learn how these approaches have evolved from the context of cutting edge brain science and how to apply these techniques in various circumstances. For more information on our two-day training seminar in New York City this coming November 16th and 17th, please go to the homepage of the Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC at http://www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/index.html.
Helen Adrienne, LCSW, BCD
Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist,
Practitioner of Mind/Body Therapy
Author, On Fertile Ground: Healing Infertility
Tags: Behavioral Pain Relief, Chronic Pain, Holistic Health, Insomnia Treatment, mind body medicine, Stress Management
Stress is a significant contributing factor in 80% of visits to Primary Care Physicians and accounts for an inordinate amount of suffering, illness, chronic pain, fatigue, and personal and professional setbacks. Joan Klagsbrun, Ph.D., a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice in the Boston area will be sharing a 90-minute webinar through the Mind Body Medicine Network, LLC on Sunday, September 9th at 7:00 p.m. EST on “Clearing a Space – A Brief Focusing Practice for Cultivating Resilience in Your Clients (with particular attention to patients in crisis or coping with illness).” Through this effective and evidence-based modality that can be used by clinicians or by the lay public, one can metaphorically find and place aside each stress-producing concern, and put it outside the body –bringing relief to body, mind and spirit.
WHAT IS CLEARING A SPACE?
The practice of ‘Clearing A Space’ is a method of finding and placing aside each stress-producing concern that is currently being carried by the body. it can be utilized by therapists as way to center and connect with oneself before seeing clients and it can be used with clients as way to begin a session of therapy.
One by one, each stressor is acknowledged, named, and visualized as being placed aside. This practice then invites you to imagine how your body would feel if you could truly be released from all these problems and concerns. For a few moments you get to experience who you would be—and how your life would want to go–without the weight of your issues.
We often feel stress as an undifferentiated, overwhelming burden. By identifying each stressful situation that we are carrying in the present moment, at first experienced as an indistinct murky sense in the body, we can discover the particular strands that make up our stress “knot.” The whole mass seems to weigh more when it is tangled together. Simply naming and untangling the elements allows us to get a little distance from the issues, and to find a sense of aliveness and well-being that lie beneath our current problems.
HOW CLEARING A SPACE ORIGINATED
Focusing, a mind body practice from which Clearing A Space evolved, came out of research done by Carl Rogers and Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago. The object of their research was to ask the question, “When is psychotherapy effective, and when is it not?” They found, that the effectiveness of therapy was not directly related not to the therapeutic method, nor to the skill of the therapist, but to the client’s ability to discover answers within himself. Successful clients, it was found, waited until they got an internal, body sense of a problem or issue, and then “listened” to the answer that unfolded from this body sensation. Those clients who accessed their implicit bodily experience– their’ felt sense’– were more likely to benefit from psychotherapy than those who did not.
Gendlin, intrigued by this result, developed a systematic way to teach individuals how to get a body sense of a problem. Focusing is basically a formalization of the process that “successful” clients naturally use in psychotherapy.
Although Focusing was originally developed to help in the resolution of problems, Gendlin found that for Focusing to be most successful, it was initially helpful just to identify each concern and not try to solve the problem it posed. (Gendlin, 1979) Each concern is labeled and then “placed outside the body.”The individual imagines taking that issue and placing it at the right distance away from her body. Each succeeding issue is treated in the same way, until there are no more issues left. The end result is that the Focuser achieves a “clear space” inside the body. This technique of “Clearing a Space” became formalized as the first step in the Focusing method.
Over time, it became apparent that Clearing A Space had value in its own right. The “clear space” a person created by naming and letting go of each issue or problem is an active, fully conscious state. It differs from other meditation or relaxation states in that the individual does not have a narrow field of attention. It is an active rather than a passive state, developed not by diverting one’s attention, but by at first paying full attention to what is in the way of feeling all clear inside.
•Remembering and visualizing a time and place where you felt relaxed, at peace or had a deep sense of well being. I have found it helps to begin by remembering positive memories and experiences as resources for reducing stress.
•Naming the Stressors We often feel stress as an undifferentiated burden. By entering the present moment, and identifying each stressful situation that we are carrying, that is contributing to this indistinct, unpleasant, and murky sense in the body, we can learn to perceive the particular strands that comprise this stress “knot.”
•Separating the Stressors The whole mass of our troubles seems to “weigh” more, and be less manageable, when they are tangled together. Simply naming and “untangling” the elements that make it up, allows us to get a little distance from our mind-body burdens.
•Putting The Stressors “Aside” The client finds and places aside each stress-producing concern that is currently being carried by the body. One by one, each stressor is acknowledged, named, and visualized as being placed aside or released from the body. After letting the stressor go, the focuser is then asked to notice any change in her body. Typically, a sense of lightness, diminishment of tension, and overall relief is the result. One sets down each of these issues, until there are no more issues left.
•Noticing the Background Sense and placing it aside The background sense is like the wallpaper in our minds… that flavor or mood we carry right beneath our thoughts and feelings. It often brings great relief to bring attention to the background sense, name it, and imagine placing that aside as well.
•Dwelling in the “Cleared Space” Once the present-time stressors have been “cleared,” the individual is asked to spend 30 seconds or a minute in her “cleared space.” This step of the practice often results in a state of wellbeing, spaciousness, and sometimes a change in perspective or awareness.
•Finding the symbol (a word, phrase of image) that captures the experience of the cleared space By finding a handle for the experience, there is often a sense of being connected to one’s whole self—body, mind and spirit. This often gives rise to an experience of balance, centeredness, clarity and unity. An explanation for this experience is that it enables the left and right brain to become integrated—linking the right brain’s’ felt sense ‘ and the left brain’s verbal account, thus allowing the maximum information to flow freely between the hemispheres.
Clearing a Space is a wonderful brief and yet powerful tool to have in your tool kit, both for your own self-care, and to share with clients. It gives you an active way to achieve a sense of well being, spaciousness and peace; it integrates body mind and spirit; it teaches us to have a compassionate relationship to our issues, and it helps us to take a few minutes to dwell in a larger space where we are not constrained by our problems and limitations. What a good use of 10 minutes!
Enjoy learning, applying and mastering this brief focusing technique with Dr. Klagsbrun during our interactive 90-minute webinar on Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. EST. For details, please register at http://www.mindbodymedicinenetwork.com/Webinars.html. Even if you can not make the webinar, you are welcome to register anyway, and be sent a video recording of Dr. Klagsbrun’s presentation.