The Body-Mind Connection
I vividly remember the first time that mindfulness was presented to me. It was about 9 years ago and the presenter was talking about how emotions are stored in our body, in our muscles. I believe that the best words to describe my reaction were incredulous, aghast, and frustrated. I had never heard of anything like this before and I was in a graduate seminar learning about therapist self care. At that time, I was in the throws of school and I was exhausted and truly craving new ways to self care. The idea of emotions being stored in my muscles and that by focusing my attention on my muscles and breathing deeply I could invite stress relief to my body, at that time, felt like folklore and to be against my strongly scientific background.
Since that time, I have continued to explore mindfulness and the mind-body-spirit connection. Though I was not impressed by my introduction to the concept, I'm naturally very curious and a perpetual student, so I have spent these past 9 years of clinical practice learning, growing, and exploring. Some of my learning process has involved continued exploration of diversity and growing to genuinely appreciate differences in perceptions, backgrounds, and understandings of others. Yoga and mindfulness is rooted in more eastern cultures than my own western culture, so as I've increased in true cultural humility, it has allowed me space and openness to these ideas.
Another turning point for me in embracing mindfulness and yoga was my training in EMDR. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is another therapy of which I was dismissive when I was first introduced to it in graduate school- and before I had learned much about it. It seemed like voodoo that healing could be invited into someone by having them follow my fingers with their eyes. EMDR is a very experiential therapy and is rooted in two concepts. One, it is based in the theory of sleep; that during Rapid Eye Movement sleep the brain is sorting and processing information. Two, that the body is made to heal itself and that that healing can be blocked- much like an infection- by traumatic life experiences. When those experiences are intentionally brought forward and "cleaned" the brain and body will continue the healing as they are made to do. In clinical practice, the power of this therapy is undeniable. I have seen so many clients, from children to adults, set free through the use of this therapy that simultaneously invites healing to memories, thoughts, images, emotions, and the physical body.
Breathing techniques, mindfulness of the body and its place in the present space, gentle movement, and the location of emotions stored in the body are now staples of my therapeutic treatment.
If you're interested in more information about the science, Bessel van der Kolk released a text called The Body Keeps the Score which is a thorough scientific exploration of the mind-body-spirit connection.
Breathing techniques, mindfulness of the body and its place in the present space, gentle movement, and the location of emotions stored in the body are now staples of my therapeutic treatment. My current clientele age range is 2-years-old to 94-years-old and it is beautiful to see these interventions invite healing and freedom to all of these ages, cultures, and diversities of background.