Components of Healing
Mind-Body Connection is so important that it accounts for much of our physical and mental health. When we glimpse its power, we begin to understand the steps we need to take to make significant changes in our lives. It affects/causes stress, anxiety, depression, and disease as well as relaxation, health, happiness, creativity, and joy. Our psychobiology determines our inner harmony. Our biology and biography are interconnected.
The Brain and its Neurons, which are firing all the time, form the substrate of our experience. The brain is always changing. Yet, we have some control over that process. We can reinforce harmful neural pathways or form healthier ones by being aware of and changing negative thinking. This is like reprogramming the “software” of the brain. Again, there is an interactive feedback loop between physical brain activity and the “mind,” the subjective experience of the self. However, there is also a “hardware” component of the brain--- how the brain works is inherited from our ancestors. Mental and emotional tendencies may be partially hardwired. That’s why intervening at the level of the neurotransmitters with medications, natural supplements, and behavioral interventions can be helpful.
Energy flows through our bodies. Freud called psychic energy “libido”. In the East, life energy has been called chi, qi, or prana. It enters the body through our breath. In Greek, it is called pneuma; in Hebrew, ruah; in Latin, spiritus, as in the word inspiration or respiration. In all religions, it is associated with the breath of God as an animator of life. Breath and spirit and life are inextricably connected. Current research converges with ancient teachings, suggesting that we have energy fields within and around our bodies. We create thought fields and emotional fields with our experiences. The interconnectivity of our thoughts, feelings, and body means that we can affect all systems with our intention.
Breathing is one of the most important mechanisms that humans have for changing and controling our feelings and thoughts. We teach people how to breathe in ways that calm down primitive brain centers that react instinctively, based on fear and perceived threats. Such automatic reactions often interfere with higher order thinking, like reflection, rationality, problem solving, and creativity. We teach you how to achieve the relaxation response, a physiological effect associated with oxygenating the body and brain. Many clients report immediate and long-lasting effects on anxiety, depression, and insomnia as well as increased self-control and well-being.
Brainwaves are operating all the time. The amplitude at which they operate also influences our level of consciousness. Einstein stated that “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Research has shown that using slower brainwaves, alpha and theta, facilitates deeper change and enhances happiness. Therefore, relaxation, meditation, and hypnosis promote solving problems at a higher level.
Conscious and Unconscious Minds. We are aware of only a small part of our mental functioning. One goal of psychotherapy is to increase awareness or consciousness. There are hidden determinants of behavior which are often based in past experience. When we are aware of our internal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and motivations, we can better control and choose our behaviors, based in the present. Our unconscious mind exerts tremendous influence on how our lives evolve, in positive and negative ways. Our conscious intention is a powerful force to help align our healthy goals with our unconscious motivations.
Developmental Unfolding. “Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional.” As our bodies age and our lives evolve through the stages of life, we are presented with many opportunities to grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. By “spiritually,” we are not necessarily referring to a religious sense (although, for some people, that is definitive) but to a deeper connection to oneself and to something that transcends the self, an experience that can provide life with a greater sense of meaning. Meaning has been found to be important to personal health and satisfaction. In development, each new level of maturity reveals areas that require letting go of earlier, younger ways of understanding, responding, and having. Holding on to those outdated ways of being can conflict with demands of the present. Many stage theories of development demonstrate that thinking becomes more complex and able to handle contradictions and ambiguities. Optimally, there is a rise in relativity of thought and compassion in response. Emotions become more available for representation to the self, allowing for more genuine communication with others. Definitions of psychological maturity typically include the following dimensions: being self aware; having emotional control; having a wide perspective (also called detachment); showing empathy and being able to take another's perspective (leading to more compassion and forgiveness); valuing and caring for yourself; having honesty and integrity; being able to love others; and ability to take responsibility and be productive.