Many roads to wellness, many paths to change
There is much research supporting the mind-body connection, much evidence that perception directly affects reality, and thus many ways to alter our experience.
MINDFULNESS: Resting in the present moment
Meditation is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. When we say we are "practicing meditation" we are literally practicing being mindful. We are practicing resting in the present moment, learning to let go and accept the ever-changing nature of reality. In this way we can relax into a deep sense of connectedness with all that is. Research has shown mindfulness reduces anxiety and stress, increases memory, enhances performance, and creates lasting brain changes. Click here and here, for research updates and overviews, including a study conducted at MGH, showing that in just 8 weeks, a mere 25 minutes of meditation a day leads to structural changes in the brain.
SOMATIC AWARENESS: The Mind-Body Connection
You can learn much by simply getting centered and listening to your body. Where do you carry tension? When you are angry, where do you feel it? And when you're happy, what does that feel like? Across cultures, people report feeling the same emotions in the same parts of their bodies (read about it here). It's also true that the way we carry ourselves and the expressions that we wear effect not only how others feel about us, but also how we feel about ourselves (watch Power Posing, here), and cause changes in cortisol levels, a physiological measure of stress. There is research demonstrating that something as simple as holding a pencil between your teeth will force your face into a smile, tricking your body into releasing "feel good" neurotransmitters, and this alone can improve your mood. Walking with your head lifted, looking forward or slightly up, will do the same. Try it!
EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE (EFT): Quieting the primitive brain
EFT combines cognitive restructuring and relaxation with physical stimulation (tapping) and repetition of key phrases, while reviewing current feelings and past trauma. There are a number of recent studies that show positive effects of EFT on depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, and food cravings. From an eastern perspective, the effect comes from restoring energy balance by stimulating acupuncture meridian points. From a western perspective, the physical stimulation reduces arousal in the amygdala, the brain's "fear center" - home of the fight or flight response and the powerful subconscious and serves to interrupt the nueronal sequence that causes the maladaptive response. There is substantial research that shows statistically significant positive effects of EFT on depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, and food cravings. Click here to watch a video depicting the remarkable effectiveness of EFT as an intervention with Veterans suffering severe, treatment-resistant PTSD.
MOTIVATIONAL ENHANCEMENT: A path to sustained change
Motivational Enhancement is one of very few evidence -based practices that has proven successful in the treatment of substance abuse and addictive behaviors. And while it was developed as an addiction-specific treatment tool, its principles are universal. It aids in clarifying perceptions and beliefs that stand in the way of change. Strength-based, short- term and goal-specific, it is useful in addressing a wide spectrum of unproductive patterns of thought and behavior.
REIKI (RAY-kee): Universal life force energy
Reiki is just one form of energy work. It is a gentle, hands-on technique that utilizes the meridian points and energy flow you may be familiar with from acupuncture and other eastern healing practices. The movement of energy allows the body to release stress and triggers its own natural healing response, Reiki has been shown to improve and maintain general health and increase overall well-being. It appears particularly effective in the reduction of stress, anxiety, depression and pain. A formal Reiki treatment typically lasts an hour, is conducted while you lie fully clothed on a massage table and leaves you feeling refreshed, restored, and renewed. In addition to stand-alone Reiki sessions, I frequently incorporate Reiki and other energy practices into my work in a more integrated way. See what Dr. Oz has to say about Reiki here.
HYPNOTHERAPY: A step into your own strength
Hypnosis is a state of absorption, heightened focus and concentration. It circumvents the conscious mind to allow direct access to the unconscious mind, enabling you to rid yourself of unwanted behaviors and emotions. Under hypnosis you will feel calm and relaxed and, while more open to suggestion than usual, you cannot be made to do anything you do not wish to do. Hypnotherapy allows you to harness the power of your unconscious mind, to reverse negative thought patterns and long-held limiting beliefs.
QI GONG (chee-GUNG): Cultivating energy
Qi gong is two words: qi meaning energy, and gong meaning the cultivation of a skill. It can be called "cultivating universal energy". It has its roots in Chinese philosophy, medicine, and martial arts, and is an integration of three parts: moving and static physical postures; breathing techniques; and awareness focused on moving energy through the body. Spring Forest Qi gong (SFQ) is a simplified style of the much more complex practices of traditional qi gong,. You can watch a brief video of one of the SFQ movements ("Harmony of the Universe." on the Cool Things page here, and the Spring Forest Qi gong webpage (here) is a good source of information.