Mindfulness seems to have become a type of buzzword in the health community over the past few years, but what is mindfulness exactly? The easiest way I have found to describe mindfulness is as follows – mindfulness is systematic attentional training and it is a psychological and scientific technique.
There is a growing body of scientific literature showing that when people practice systematic attentional training, or mindfulness, they experience desirable changes in their sense of well-being, in their ability to manage difficult emotions and in handling challenging situations in life. Because many people’s experience with mindfulness is positive, in that the practice of mindfulness produces the sought-after results, mindfulness is increasingly becoming recognized for what it can do.
So, what can mindfulness do for you? The short answer is, a lot, especially if you’re working with a licensed mental health practitioner.
Generally speaking, mindfulness is focusing attention on an object or thought and when the mind wanders away to something else, you consciously bring attention back to the thought or object being focused on. With practice, the ability to specifically focus attention and shut down unrelated thoughts boosts things like creativity, productivity, creates feelings of relaxation and provides the capacity to think through complicated or complex feelings without becoming overwhelmed. There are also many variations of mindfulness making it easier to adapt to your own needs.
In a professional therapeutic environment, psycho-sensory techniques - particularly Havening®, encapsulate the potential for healing by combining thoughts, attention, touch and imagination to accomplish a wide array of outcomes such as:
- Diminish long-term psychological and physiological impacts of adverse childhood experiences
- Moderate the impacts of panic attacks, anxiety, phobias and PTSD
- Curtail blocks in achieving personal goals
- Cultivate real-time resilience
- Lessen the impact of chronic negative stress
- Decrease emotional reactivity while broadening and building capacity to respond to challenge and adapt to change
- Boost performance in sports, business, as well as creative and performing arts
- Mitigate the emotional roots of chronic pain
- Subdue present-moment emotional discomfort
Our minds are incredibly complex and have the ability to enable us to lead amazing lives. In our fast-paced culture with increasing pressures and stresses coming at us in every direction, our minds can become overloaded. And this is without us experiencing trauma, abuse or any other significant overwhelming events.
Gaining skills to help regulate the overload of information and overwhelm of emotion which most of us experience at least at some point in our lives, and others experience regularly, grants us the ability to move through life with less stress, which in turn allows us to maintain a better sense of balance in our physical bodies, with our emotions and thoughts.
Whether you are already experienced at practicing mindfulness, or a total beginner, it has something to offer to everyone. Talk to a licensed mental health professional to find out how mindfulness can help you specifically.
Originally Published: May 28, 2018
The winter blues, the January blahs, depression. We’ve heard about them, but how do they happen?
On a conscious level, people don’t choose these things. No one wakes up one day saying, “I think I’d like to have the winter blues this year, or I’d like to be in a clinical depression for the next five years”. Our conscious minds never choose symptoms. Consciously, we all choose health, wholeness, joy and vitality. But there is something else at work in us that manifests symptoms and causes us various problems. And that something else is our subconscious mind.
There are times when change cannot be effected through conscious effort. No matter how hard we’ve tried or how many times we’ve tried to beat our subconscious mind into submission we remain stuck in the same place.
The subconscious mind is fear-based and quite infantile in its judgement. It is the subconscious mind that chooses faulty coping strategies and self-sabotage in all kinds of creative varieties. This is the part of us that presents our symptoms.
Symptoms that can indicate the presence of a depression include things like the following:
- Diminished interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Weight loss or weight gain along with decreased or increased appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, hopelessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
When the symptoms are minor to moderate, activities like exercise, yoga, massage therapy, meditation and acupuncture can be effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms.
However, if the symptoms are moderate to severe, a more rigorous approach is needed.
Unfortunately, most of the traditional therapeutic tools do not access the subconscious mind and medications have little impact on the workings of the subconscious mind.
Typical antidepressants known as SSRIs – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors- are prescribed to correct an imbalance of serotonin levels, believed to contribute to depression, poor mood, anxiety, stress, and OCD.
SSRI antidepressants are believed to help increase serotonin levels by limiting the reabsorption rate of serotonin in the brain.
A recent study completed at McMaster University ranks Canadians among the most prolific users of antidepressants. Lead study author and university professor, Paul Andrews said there are alternatives to taking antidepressants such as psychotherapies that don’t have negative physiological effects and work just as well.
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that psychotherapies and psychosensory therapies, such as Havening Techniques, that combine specific intention with sensory input produce a number of beneficial physical results such as increased production of serotonin, opioids, and GABA, regulation of cortisol, pain reduction, slowed heart rate, decreased anxiety, and an increased sense of calm.
It’s these beneficial physical results that effect lasting change in the subconscious mind.
If you find yourself struggling a bit or a lot this winter, take steps to remedy the situation as soon as you can, because help is available. Whether its exercise or a massage, or psychotherapy and psychosensory therapy, there is hope and a way back to mental vitality.
Originally Published: December 30, 2017
For decades now, medication along with talk therapy have been the go-to for treating mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and more. Psycho-pharmaceuticals such as anti-depression medications and anti-anxiety medications take weeks - sometimes months to start making a difference for people. Often times the side effects necessitate adjustments in dosages before arriving at a suitable outcome. But, with our human brains being electro- chemical organs, are chemical treatments (medications) the only way or even the most effective way to help?
Through recent studies on brain function and greater comprehension in neuroscience, it’s been shown that neurons in the brain that fire together, actually wire together. All of our life experiences are recorded in our brains, but, the negative experiences are remembered indefinitely. Likely to keep us from further harm or trauma in the future, they are actually encoded in great detail in our memories.
These detailed, encoded memories are pulled up during our most vulnerable moments and can interfere with our ability to function day to day. Messages from our pasts such as ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘you’re stupid’, ‘you’re fat’, ‘you’re worthless’, or ‘nobody loves you’ leave a lasting impact that can affect not only our present, but also our future.
The ability to engage with the brain’s neurons that have encoded negative experiences and to de-link the emotional charge associated with the experience has been made possible utilizing Havening Techniques ®, which is a psycho-sensory technique. Sensory input creates an electrical wave in the brain which changes the circuitry of the brain altering the way the brain accesses and utilizes negative memories and traumatic events.
As a therapist, the opportunity to witness the lift that happens and the different perception of self that occurs as a result of Havening Techniques is a wonder and a privilege to behold.
Havening Techniques can help with a wide variety of issues from phobias, grief, cravings, panic attacks, distressing memories, PTSD, anger or fear of abandonment to name a few.
This past June, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Richard Oakley, a UK Police Officer diagnosed with PTSD after being first on scene of a deadly terrorist attack in London and he told me the tremendous difference Havening has made in his own life.
Neuroscience is providing new and better ways to find healing from mental health issues. Healing doesn’t always come in the form of a pill. A new paradigm has arrived.
Originally Published: October 28, 2017