Category: Blog

The rhythms of your life

Greetings everyone,

This is an invitation to set aside a little time, and reflect on your life.

How is it going? How does its pace feel to you?

My new article at GoodTherapy.org explores exactly these questions, and ties them to the innate rhythms of our nervous systems.

Enjoy! And as always, feel free to leave a comment if you would like.

Living in an Age of Eco Anxiety

Greetings everyone,

Do you ever find yourself worrying about the state of our natural environment, and its ecosystems?

Do you find the topic pretty overwhelming, feel helpless, so you turn away and try to think about something else?

In my most recent article at GoodTherapy.org, I explore this topic, as well as what we can do to begin to create change.

Please feel free to check it out, and as always, to leave comments at the bottom of the article!

Why Do I Do That?

Pleased to announce the publication of another article on GoodTherapy.org.  This one is about how the threat response subtly impacts our behaviors, in ways we can’t always consciously explain.

Read it here, and as always, feel free to leave comments!

The Felt Sense: Our Inner Vitality

Hello everyone,

What is the felt sense? How do we access it? Why is it important–not only in healing, but in daily living? You can find out by reading my new article at GoodTherapy.org.

Feel free to leave a comment, on the website or here! (Spam, of course, is always filtered out.)

The Biology of Calm Well Being

Why do I frequently encourage my clients to stop talking for a moment, and notice what’s happening in their physical experience?

Well, because I’m a somatic therapist, of course….and that’s what somatic therapists do!

Okay, that’s kind of a non-answer.  So then, why do somatic therapists do this? Why do they always interrupt when we just want to unload what’s on our mind?

Ultimately, as my new article explains, the goal is to cultivate a state of calm well being!

Now, on our way there, we might have to go through some waves of really not feeling so great, or calm, or well.  In fact, most people do. But developing this ability to “put on the brakes” is hugely important in the long run.

You can read about it and my other articles at GoodTherapy.org.  (My articles are linked at the bottom of my therapist profile.)

Self Regulation and Why It’s Important

In my latest installment published on the GoodTherapy.org blog, you can read about self-regulation.

What is it, why is it important, and how do we start working towards improving this internal balance?

Check it out, and, if you’d like, feel free to leave a comment!

 

How to Help Someone with Post-Traumatic Stress

I’m pleased to announce the publication of an article I wrote!

My article is published at GoodTherapy.org, where they have recently invited me to become a topic expert on somatic therapy and post-traumatic stress.  The article provides basic education about how to help someone who has post-traumatic stress.

Here’s the link! Feel free to share it with anyone who might find it helpful.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of an Icelandic waterfall, to hopefully brighten your day just a bit.

Iceland UK 2016 615

Being Healthy

….isn’t only about what we eat, or how often we exercise.

Our emotions have a huge role to play in our physical health; but many don’t realize that, and so this is often overlooked.  

Emotions are electric charges in the sympathetic nervous system. The body’s creation of them requires considerable energy. They are intricately related to the fight/flight impulses arising in response to threats to our survival. So yeah, there can be a great cost to the body in neglecting them. 

Here, in this article, Dr. Gabor Mate spells it out for us. His writing is eloquent and backed by decades of research and clinical experience:

How To Build A Culture of Good Health

What You Do Is What You Get

Somatically, at least.

What I mean by that is, our bodies are incredibly adaptive.  They tend to form themselves according to how we use them.  

Of course, disabilities and chronic illnesses are a major exception to this rule.  For example, if someone has Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, their bodies are going to weaken despite exercise and superior care.  I consider this one of life’s profound unfairnesses. 

But for the most part, our behaviors are incredibly important in determining our long term physical and mental health.  If we put a consistent demand on our bodies to do something, they will strengthen themselves very specifically to adapt to this demand. Unless the demand is too much, beyond its capacity to adapt; in that case, the body part tends to break down.  I think this is one reason why runners have a high incidence of injury (besides the high potential for poor biomechanical form). It’s because running can become so fun and gratifying on so many levels, that it’s easy to put too much demand on the body, too quickly or with insufficient recovery time, resulting in overuse injury.

Of course, the capacity of a specific body part to strengthen/adapt, varies widely, according to genetics, history of injury/illness, etc.  This is why people with a history of heart disorders have to strengthen that muscle very carefully, and under medical supervision!

I think this tendency towards specific adaptation even includes our reflexes. Here’s a very interesting article about how myopia (nearsightedness) has been dramatically increasing. Apparently, its incidence has basically doubled in about 30 years. This is far too short of a time for it to be attributed to evolution. This is a major change within our lifespans–and not a good change.  

The article says that scientists can’t agree on why this is happening.  However, it’s already known that agricultural nations, whose citizens spend more time outside and physically active, tend to have less myopia and (I think) fewer eye disorders overall. I feel that while the scientific community is busy investigating research protocols (perhaps a little myopically?)  it wouldn’t hurt most of us to use a little common sense: If we sit inside all day and look at things that are close, like computer screens and cell phones, which tend to cause eyestrain, then our bodies will try to adapt, that is, improve their capacity to see close things, potentially at the expense of seeing farther things under a variety of light conditions.  Furthermore, if we push our eyes too much to strain all day at these screens, particularly under conditions of emotional (hence somatic) tension, our eyes might begin to break down. So following that (non-scientific, common sense) hypothesis, perhaps a deliberate effort to get outside, move our bodies and expose them to all sorts of visual distances and natural light conditions, would be a good investment of our time and effort. I mean, a little more balance in our lives couldn’t hurt, right?

Now, consider how this might apply to the ways in which we think and feel.  Thoughts and emotions can actually be considered behaviors. I know I’m kinda pushing this use of the word “behaviors” a little bit, in that an outside observer can’t directly observe thoughts (hence Skinner’s famous “black box”) or emotions–although a trained observer can certainly see evidence of various thoughts and emotions in process.  

However, thoughts and emotions are indeed things that we do, and they are usually habitual. This is why persons with post-traumatic stress often find themselves in a survival panic, when there is nothing currently threatening. Or else they might find themselves numb, even though it’s a beautiful day, and it would be great to be able to be present and take it all in. Here is a great article about how our attention can cause neural pathways to form, pathways that either harm us or help us.  For my clients: This article pretty much explains why I’m always bugging you to direct your attention to pleasant experiences, and feel into them! We’re trying to hardwire a sense of good into your system! Attention + consistent repetition = changes in hardwiring and neural pathways.  

So think about it. How are you using yourself today? 

If you don’t like the way you are using yourself, what are you willing and able to do about it?

If your efforts fail, don’t be quick to blame yourself.  Hardwired patterns can be very difficult to change, especially when trauma or overwhelm has been involved in the formation of the patterns. Efforts to change might become even more difficult when society and/or the demands of life seem to support the old pattern (e.g., too much computer work and no exercise; stress eating; too much caretaking others and little self-care time; etc.). This is where the support of a good somatic therapist can be extremely helpful! 

In any case, I am frequently amazed by our bodies, especially their consistent efforts to protect and help us.  Somatically and neurologically informed therapies help us learn to “speak” the “language” of our bodies and unconscious minds, so that we can be internally consistent, all parts of us learning to work together, instead of pitting ourselves against ourselves.  

 

The rhythms of your life

Greetings everyone, This is an invitation to set aside a little time, and reflect on your life. How is it going? How does …

Living in an Age of Eco Anxiety

Greetings everyone, Do you ever find yourself worrying about the state of our natural environment, and its ecosystems? Do …

Why Do I Do That?

Pleased to announce the publication of another article on GoodTherapy.org.  This one is about how the threat response subtly …