Month: March 2018

The Mind-Body-Soul Connection By: Seima Diaz, Ed.D, LMFT

Posted on Updated on

As the idea of holistic healing becomes more popular and socially embraced within the United States, many people are left with questions regarding the mind-body-soul connection. Exactly what is it? Where is it? What are its benefits? Current research has found a correlation between the integration of spiritual interventions such as mindfulness and forgiveness and positive therapy outcomes with reduced chance of relapse (Bonelli & Koenig, 2013). We have an extraordinary opportunity as therapists to really help people heal through the maintenance of a solid mind-body-soul connection.

Being a firm believer in the idea that, we as therapists cannot influence others past the degree in which we ourselves have evolved, it is imperative that clinicians first explore their own mind-body-soul connection before implementing spiritually oriented interventions in their work with clients.  The exciting news is that this connection already exists inside each of us; we are born with this connection intact (Miller, 2013).

Most of us are aware of the body that we live in. When it gets sick, we really become conscious of it. Most of us are also aware of the mind- that “thing” in your brain that projects an endless stream of thoughts throughout your day (Chaudhary, 2013).  You may have even noticed that when you are stressed out, you are more vulnerable to catching a cold (2013). The soul is the intangible part of the mind-body-soul system that connects us to something bigger than what we just see in front of us. The soul is consciousness, who you are in essences beyond form. As Deepak Chopra (2012) describes it, “The soul is the core of your being. It is eternal. It doesn’t exist in space/time. It’s a field of infinite possibilities, infinite creativity. It’s your internal reference point with which you should always be in touch.”

It has been my experience that as we mature and evolve spiritually so does our thinking, decision making, and behaviors. This is because the soul resides at the core of the mind-body-soul system. Being conscious of this ever-present connection allows you to use it to your healing and transformational benefit, becoming grounded in your authentic self by embracing your truths and life purpose. Below I am going to discuss how silence can be used as a tool to tap into and deepen your own mind-body-soul connection.

It is through the act of silence that we can shift frequencies and tune into our mind, body, and soul, both separately and collectively. When we shut off all stimulation and distractions and simply sit in silence we allow the space for our soul to speak up and be heard. This is where the greatest insights and “aha” moments occur. Within the silence your soul will answer your deepest prayers and guide you in the direction of your best interest. The more you listen to this inner guidance, the stronger its influence will become in your life.

Through silence we are able to tune into our mind and redirect our thoughts into the present moment. Silence allows the opportunity to become mindful of your thinking patterns so that you can reprogram your mind to work in ways which serve your highest good. When we are overly stimulated and distracted, our minds tend to fire off irrational and unproductive thoughts, causing us to manifest by default. We wonder why we keep attracting more of what we don’t want into our life. Silence helps you to calmly choose good feeling thoughts that serve you, so you can raise your vibrational frequency.

Silence also allows you to become grounded in your body. Within the silence your body will speak to you, letting you know where emotional pain is being held and toxins are needing to be released. Unbalanced energy centers within the body needing healing cannot reveal themselves amongst turbulent conditions. Our bodies can truly be heard, rest and rejuvenate within the calm that is silence.

Goldstein’s (2007) study found that cultivating sacred moments in one’s daily life can have significant effects on an individual’s overall well-being. Silence is more and more being looked at and considered as a new intervention into the field of clinical psychology. You can access the full study to learn more by following the link below.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jclp.20402/pdf

Another article you might enjoy written by Carolyn Gregoire (2016) on why silence is good for your brain can be accessed by following the link below. Gregoire offers four science-backed reasons why in a loud and distracting world, finding pockets of stillness can benefit your brain and body (2016).

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/silence-brain-benefits_us_56d83967e4b0000de4037004

Silence is to our mind-body-soul connection as the sun is needed for plants to grow. It is my hope that you will find clarity, self-awareness, and healing within each silent moment that you gift yourself. Our divine energy is released when we are connected with ourselves, mind, body, and soul.

Advertisements

Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope

Posted on Updated on

February 9, 2018

It was a hit! RSVPs were coming in at a rate like almost every day or so. We would not have expected close to a full room for the documentary screening event that featured the film, Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope, but all we could say was, [AMAZING] each time someone wanted to sign-up for the showing.

The following is a synopsis of what the film was about: Researchers have recently discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. As the new documentary Resilience reveals, toxic stress can trigger hormones that wreak havoc on the brains and bodies of children, putting them at a greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison time, and early death. While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune. Resilience, also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back.

The workshop included a pre- and post-discussion on resilience presented by Isabel Velazquez, a Professional Development Coach with Western Youth Services. She supervises and trains other providers through school-based mental health program. She has a vision for creating access to supportive services in the unserved and underserved communities where at-risk children, youth, and families live. She does whatever it takes to help those in need. We were very fortunate to have her as our guest speaker for the screening documentary and workshop, and we thank her for the valuable opportunity!

The workshop introduced a heavy and intense subject–childhood trauma and toxic stress. Toxic stress is chronic activation with no buffering.

The Sundance Festival of 2016 prominently showcased the Resilience Documentary. 2 doctors, Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda created the ACEs study that was conducted at Kaiser Permanente in California and in partnership with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ACEs stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. As a child, you are at higher risk for physical health issues. If you score 4+ on the ACEs questionnaire, you are more likely to be exposed to one or more traumatic experience during your lifetime. ACEs affect everyone. Scary isn’t it.

We participated in an activity where us attendees partook in the ACEs questionnaire and answered the questions on a personal basis. A comparison table was shown between adults in California and the Pepperdine Community. It was interesting to see a table of the Pepperdine community’s ACEs results, and they were as followed: 0 ACEs = 14%, 1-3 ACEs = 52%, 4+ ACEs = 34%.

The film shown was impactful!

According to the film, ACEs is a risk factor for physical health issues. 28% reported physical abuse, 13% witnessed their Mom in a domestic violence situation, and 1/5 were sexually abused. Now imagine this, a 3/10 ACE score can result in heart disease whereas 4/10 ACE score can result in depression, in later life. In addition, four ACEs score can lead to learning and behavioral problems in school. As you can see, ACEs can literally affect performance such as grades.

Only 5% from the U.S. healthcare budget is spent on preventative medicine–which is saddening to hear.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and the founder of the Center for Youth Wellness from San Francisco is also involved in ACEs when examining her patients. Bayview, a neighborhood in San Francisco is reported to have the highest homicide rate and ambulatory care—wow, that is shocking. ACEs is really big in the Bay Area. It is also introduced in medical schools. I think we should have them introduced everywhere, what do you think? Especially in the mental health field—I wonder why we do not see this used more often with our clients and in mental health clinics overall. I highly recommend watching her TEDtalk on How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime

I also recommend reading her new book on this topic if this subject interests you. The book is titled, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity

Drama therapy is an intervention that can be used to help individuals such as children to acquire good mannerism/etiquettes. One drama therapy technique is called: Miss Kendra Curriculum. It consists of a Miss Kendra’s List where for example it states that, “No child should be punched or kicked.” The film showed children repeating this statement after the drama therapist. Another technique under Miss Kendra is writing to Miss Kendra about things that worry them, and they receive replies. By schools using this particular curriculum, the film reported that 75% of office referrals went down and 95% of fights went down in one high school. How amazing is that!

Resilience is not something you are born with, but something that gets built over time. Something we may not be aware of is that many people with trauma are in fact, resilient individuals. You may ask, how can we develop resilience or how can we become a resilient individual? Just by having a stable and caring adult relationship.

The presenter mentioned some strategies we can use to apply when helping those who are needing skills or tools to coping with day-to-day struggles, and they are as follows: 1) making the shift from “What’s wrong with you” to “What happened with you?”; 2) No blame/shame/punishment; 3) Understanding, nurturing, and healing; and 4) Compassion/resilience/empathy. Dr. Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who studies on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, tells us of 4 steps for creating empathy. In her short video clip on empathy, the 4 steps are as follows: 1) perspective taking (i.e., meeting clients where they are at); 2) being non-judgmental and curiosity; 3) recognizing emotions in others (their feelings); and 4) communicating that you recognize their emotion. You can watch her video on youtube, and the link is as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

Connection, connection, connection—to connect with others is crucial! It is one of life’s most essential sustainer in keeping us going in life, healthily. ☺

The attendees very much enjoyed the film! To learn more about the film, please visit: resiliencemovie.com.

So, the question for all of us to ponder about is: what do we do next? We would like to hear your ideas/suggestions/feedback about this and how we can better help those who are struggling in today’s society. By doing so, I believe we should remove the stigma of–‘not talking about it’ (not talking about our problems to others).