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Overwhelmed by texts and emails?

Overwhelmed by texts and emails?

It is an understatement to say that the frequency of text messages and emails overwhelming our phones and inboxes leave many of us anxious and distracted. Our evolutionary history has not equipped our brains to respond to and then relax from these interruptions (and at times wonderful connections) in our lives. I have found that my need to create space away from these notifications has become a staple of my mental health. Even better than simple time away, spending time in nature brings the kind of calm that my nerves wait for while I respond to the next email.

Newer research is continuing to discover the profound impact that having or not having connection to the natural environment plays in our mental and physical health. As I cope with the everyday distractions of my technology connected life, I find myself longing for a place where I can hear myself think, allow my body to calm down, and connect to all that is around me. As research about the impacts of nature on our health unfolds, it is becoming clear that nature plays this important role in a way that other interventions are trying to keep up with.

I am grateful that I am able to spend part of my time as a therapist leading others to discover the beauty and calm of the mountains, ocean, and lakes of the Northwest. The picture shown is an image from one of our trips to Mt. Baker last year.

May you, too, discover your sense of calm and plan your next adventure to our home in nature.

#bodymindconnection

#bodymindconnection

Body-Mind Connection?

“Begin to tune in to that body-mind connection…” urged the Lulu lemon-clad instructor at the start of my group exercise class. Shortly followed by, “ . . .  remind yourself why you came today.”

As a counselor and dance/movement therapist, I am no stranger to these buzzwords but, today, they gave me pause. What are we really talking about when we talk about the body-mind connection?

Intrinsic Connection

More and more in recent years, mainstream society’s understanding of mental health seems to be waking up to a reality that dance/movement therapists and somatic practitioners have been aware of for years:the notion that the mind and the body are intrinsically connected. So much so, that a change in one influences a change in the other—a concept that movement therapy has used to facilitate psychotherapeutic treatment for over half a century. Of course, the awareness of a unified mind and body is an ancient one in Eastern philosophies, but in the 17th century René Descartes famously reinforced the old Greek notion of a mind-body split, which has dominated mainstream thinking until recently. Now as our Western society attempts to integrate ‘somatic’ or ‘embodied’ practices, it seems we run the risk of shaving them down to fit into the cerebral boxes with which we’ve become so comfortable.

But What is It, Really?

I often hear the mind-body connection defined as our ‘thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc.’ affecting our physical and biological body. While not inaccurate, separating our cognitive processes from the physical seems to be at the root of this great body-mind divide that we experience as a culture. As Christine Caldwell, PhD, puts it in her recent book Bodyfulness, “Eastern traditions typically don’t separate the mind from the body,but treat mind-body unity as an achievement rather than an essential state. This unity must be physically as well as intellectually cultivated . . . The issue is about coming home. The body isn’t a thing we have, but an experience we are.”

At Home in Your Body

When we attempt to solely control our cognitive and physical processes through intellectual means, we lose this experience. Our mind does not control the body; rather is it housed within our bodies-part of the greater whole. What we typically think of as products of the mind, our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, are constantly occurring and moving within the body. When we recognize our bodies as a container for the movement of emotion we can release some of our society-wide desire for control and begin to familiarize ourselves with the feeling of being at home in our bodies—become curious, even, about their non-verbal language!

Tuning In

As I attempted to “remind myself why” I had gone to my boutique workout class this morning, (amidst the cues for ‘tiny pulses’) I noticed myself cognitively filtering through various reasons and stumbling over rationales for why I ‘should’ or ‘should not’ use them as motivators for engaging in physical exercise. I had become completely absorbed in my cerebral functions just moments after being asked to “tune in to that body-mind connection.”I decided to ask my body what she felt about all this. She continued to breathe, and move, and pulse, and lengthen, and shrink, and explore; grateful to be host to the mind’s inquiry. Ina world in which our intellectual skill are increasingly favored through technology and media, and heavily influenced by the external stimuli of those platforms, an integrative dialogue with the feeling wisdom of the body is more important than ever.

Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

Unraveling the Meaning of Intimacy Disorder

What is intimacy?

People have different ideas about the word “intimacy”. For many, it’s a code word for sex. We at reSTART do not think of it this way. We subscribe to the ideas put forth by Drs. John and Julie Gottman, Dr. Brene Brown and Dr. Patrick Carnes. The Gottmans, through their 40+ years of research, say that intimacy is: “. . . the feeling that grows out of knowing another person’s past, present, and future in great detail (“love maps”) and they know the same about you. Intimacy requires the development of respect and admiration.”Dr. Brown talks about the sense of intimacy and trust that grows out of allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person, risking and “daring greatly” to be known. And Dr. Carnes talks about how, over time, two people come to know one another in an increasingly open way that develops trust. In the context of romance, he calls this “courtship”.

Friends With Benefits?

These ideas clearly overlap and get at the notion that intimacy is not sex. It really is the development, over time, of an open, honest, trusting relationship. This sounds like friendship, doesn’t it? And, indeed, it is that. In their study of satisfying, long-term relationships they found that the core of success was friendship, characterized by trust, respect, love and admiration. Between romantic partners there will be sex, of course, added into the mix.

Distorted Reality

The clients who come to reSTART have, for the majority, little notion of healthy intimacy. They have spent their growing up years playing video games, watching porn, and whatever other online activities they found interesting. The content of video games and porn was largely what informed their ideas about relationships. The more time they spent online and how early its overuse began influenced the ways their minds came to bewired.It is safe to say that most of our clients come to us with an intimacy disorder. They rarely know how to build and maintain close, intimate relationships, face to face,either with those they would like as friends, or those they would like as romantic partners.

Not Always As It Seems

Gamers often believe that their online friendships count as intimate, and, it is true that they may feel close to those they game with and talk to in their online communities. Sometimes these online relationships are mutual and sometimes gamers meet these friends in person and deepen their friendships or romantic relationships. But, here’s the thing, however close you feel to someone you only know online, the reality is that you have no way of truly knowing who they are. You may feel trust in this person and then have the trust betrayed either by them disappearing one day (a common occurrence) or meeting them one day in person and they are different from the person they presented to you online. We know, for example, of a 22 year-old man who had been having a romantic relationship for 10 years with an older man, pretending to be a grown woman when he was just 12+ years old. At 22 he was committed to never meeting this man, as he didn’t ever want to be discovered for whom he really was.

Shifting the Intimacy Paradigm

So, in conclusion, the online lives of our clients have, for the most part, not allowed them to develop the skills of intimacy-building. Their intimacy disorder can change within the safe, close environment of our program where they learn how to risk being vulnerable with one another. The change takes time, but many of them find that the investment in this growth is worth it. They, like all of us, need and want intimate relationships. As they discover a path toward it, their hopes for the future develop.