Archives for June, 2012
In the first Healing Your Thoughts post, we talked about Imagination and Belief. Here, we want to talk about Being and Flowing. Being and Flowing is a good place to begin Healing Your Thoughts. The first part of the Being and Flowing Sequence is a basic relaxation session where some (or several) of the techniques of guided imagery or meditation can be used. In fact, for this type of relaxation, you can use new techniques or techniques that are familiar to you and that have worked for you in the past. If you do the sequence regularly, you can switch between techniques if you like. One caveat: We find that general medical/therapy techniques, specifically those that are not associated with a particular spiritual path, work best for the Being and Flowing meditation in this context. (We link to some general relaxation techniques from the University of Maryland Medical Center, below). Being and Flowing First Step: Basic Relaxation Session One: Position If you are outdoors, find a quiet, safe place in a garden, park, beach or woods. Remember, safety comes first. If you are indoors, find a place where you won't be disturbed. Sit on a floor cushion or in a chair with your feet on the floor, or lie down in a comfortable position. Whatever position you choose, try to remember, you might choose not to move or shift while being and flowing, so make sure it's really comfortable.
You are wherever your thoughts are. Make sure your thoughts are where you want to be. —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, excerpted from The Empty Chair. Every so often, there's a debate about whether people are able to change, direct, or heal their thoughts. With some mental illnesses and addictions, this idea seems to be challenging, at best. But healing our thoughts is essential to healing ourselves.
C.R. writes: You can read our first post on trauma, here. One of the factors that might make an adult susceptible to the experience of trauma is if he or she was traumatized in childhood. Many things that seem, on the surface, to be unpleasant but not traumatic, can be very painful, even traumatic, to adults who've lived through childhood trauma. The basics: Why are children more likely to have a traumatic response to events? Obviously, children tend to be more vulnerable than adults. They have little physical or autonomous power, and must rely on their parents, teachers, or other guardians to protect them. Children living in unstable or dangerous environments, children who are abused in any way, children who witness abuse or violence, children who are neglected, children of divorce, or children who must endure invasive medical procedures, generally have no power to change their situation. Even events that we see as ordinary, or at most annoying or difficult, can be traumatic for a child.
Have you experienced trauma? Most people actually have. So we need to really ask: What is trauma? Physical trauma is trauma to the body—it can be an accident, a blow, an illness. Psychological trauma, trauma to the mind, is more complex. In essence: trauma is an emotional/psychological response to an event or events which are shocking, violent, painful and so on. Although there can be one-time events such as 9/11, rape, natural disaster and crime, which can cause some people to experience trauma, often trauma is the result of ongoing painful situations which a person has to live with.
C.R. writes: I'm blogging my thoughts "out loud," so bear with me. This past Sunday a good friend of mine who is the advising psychiatrist to a program for adults with developmental and learning disabilities, told me she witnessed an unusual scene. Her youngest client, a woman in her late 20s (I'll caller her "Ellen"), suddenly presented with an immense, gushing nosebleed, or epistaxis, as it is called medically. The staff nurse and a counselor came in to calm her (she was very upset as soon as she realized she was bleeding), and made her sit with her head tipped forward while they pinched the bridge of her nose and applied ice to the nose, face, and even back of the neck. After a few minutes, as suddenly as it came, the nosebleed stopped.
Therapy Soup readers know that we believe body, mind and soul are intricately linked and that a holistic approach to treatment for mental illness and/or addiction (or any health or personality issue) is truly necessary. We've posted quite a few articles on the importance of nutrition in the treatment of mental health issues (most recently, this piece on Martha Herbert's revolutionary whole-body treatment approach for autism). Now we'd like to tell you about a nutritional approach for the treatment of anxiety. Trudy Scott has had her own personal journey with anxiety, starting in her mid-thirties. She says, "My anxiety was just awful and I had feelings of doom for no reason, a pounding heart in the middle of the night and at various times during the day, excessive unfounded worry and feelings of being overwhelmed, avoidance of social situations, panic attacks (I had three in total and would not wish one on my worst enemy) and one throat constriction episode. I had hormone imbalances and suffered from terrible PMS. I also experienced adrenal burnout. Of course, I had all the sugar cravings (I was a huge chocoholic) that so often go with mood and hormonal problems."
Elizabeth Bewley, like most people, has experienced various health issues in her life. Also, like many of us, she's sought medical advice and found that while there were well-intentioned professionals out there, much of the time the medical advice and care she received was confusing, concerning or even downright negligent. That's why she wrote a book about it. Ms. Bewley is an MBA and a Six Sigma black belt who worked for twenty years for Johnson and Johnson. After nearly dying in a bike crash, she began to identify serious flaws in the health care she was receiving. Since then, she's become a patient advocate. In her book, "Killer Cure," Bewley quotes Rahul Parikh, who describes the doctor-patient relationship in terms that are reminiscent of a dysfunctional marriage: "The physician-patient compact basically states that a doctor will care for the patient in exchange for compensation and that the patient will heed the doctor's advice. Patients who disagree with their physicians...are free to go elsewhere."
C.R. writes: On the surface, life does look like a cherry pie. You have eight or ten slices—and then it's gone. But the pie metaphor applies mostly to our life span. And if, like me, you have strong belief in the afterlife, well, then you might agree that even our existence isn't totally finite. In fact, I feel that even material resources— money, food, fuel, human-power, natural resources and stuff, are only, in some circumstances, a zero-sum game. Personally, I believe that faith, time, hard work and ingenuity are contributing factors that can often change even solid material "fact." That being said, there is such a thing as a budget and credit limit, and so on. But if you believe in the cherry pie scenario, you deny that we humans can sometimes do the seemingly impossible—travel the galaxy, beat the favorite, or invent the computer chip.