This week we had an important advancement in our work bringing the healing power of mind-body medicine to US military and veterans. The New York Times published a strong article that features our work as the focal point in discussing effective new approaches to treating trauma and preventing suicide in the VA.
In the article, “For Veterans, a Surge of New Treatments for Trauma”, published yesterday online, author Tina Rosenberg says “The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program…is the most comprehensive of all [treatments], giving participants a variety of different strategies to choose from: breathing, meditation, guided visual imagery, bio-feedback, self-awareness, dance, self-expression, drawing. And it is the one with the strongest evidence that it works to cure PTSD.”
My first introduction to mind-body healing was 25 years ago when I experienced excruciating migraine headaches. After many unproductive doctor visits, I was referred to biofeedback relaxation exercises. At first I was skeptical as my fingers were gently taped to wires to gauge my body temperature and blood flow. However, I came to appreciate and understand the impact of constricted blood vessels and oxygen deprivation, caused by stress and tension, on my body. To this day, my simple awareness of tension and stress has eliminated the migraines.
Ten years ago, I began having back pain that virtually debilitated me for almost a year. I was taking enormous amounts of drugs, including epidural shots, and was hospitalized on Morphine IV. I went to top doctors who all said that I MUST have spinal fusion surgery for my so-diagnosed herniated, bulging disc. Three days before the scheduled surgery, I cancelled. I was fortunate to find Dr. John Sarno, author of The Mindbody Prescription, and discover that there was a safer, healthier, more effective option. Through readings, psychotherapy and a lot of hard work, I learned that psychological factors (e.g., difficult emotions, repressed anger/rage in the unconscious mind) were causing the pain.
Recently I spent a morning in the midst of a crowd awed by the release of seven rehabilitated sea turtles on the coast of South Carolina. The largest at 600 pounds was missing a flipper; several were “cold shocked” and/or suffered fungal infections. We chuckled as two turtles reversed gear towards the dunes and those who’d restored them to health before all eventually swam away to elated cheers.
The majority watching were locals– many knew the turtle’s stories or donated to their care. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to witness this restorative connection of man and creature. Later reflecting on the almost surreal delight I experienced, the correlation to my personal quest and engrossment in healing work surfaced.
The people you see in this video are our brothers and sisters. We bring them hope for healing the terrible losses they experienced in the January 2010 earthquake. Their unaffected courage, their warmth, joy and humor as they learn to heal themselves give me hope for all of us.
I very much look forward to reading your comments.
This is the first of a new series of videos that we’ll be sharing about our work in Haiti.
Donate now! Your help means the world to us.
Relax and re-center with Dr. Gordon in this 11-minute guided imagery podcast:
Guided imagery is a powerful technique that uses the imagination to create a relaxed state that can help with healing, learning and performance.
This mind-body technique, which Dr Gordon has taught at professional trainings around the world for over 20 years, is effective at reducing stress, relieving trauma and increasing creativity.
As a frequent meditator, armed with new skills of awareness, I was recently struck by how noisy my Washington, DC surroundings actually are. Noticing my own internal reactions, I started to wonder if pervasive noise in the environment could cause me harm. Research is now saying that I am right to question.
Maria and her children waited in line with 400 others for our clinic gate to open at 8 AM. Our 5 doctors and 2 nurses were each waiting with their interpreter at 7 little tables in the one room church.
Maria was quiet and looked very sad. Her unhappy marriage was causing serious sleep problems. Medication made her feel bad and didn’t help. Her 7-year old daughter had warts on her hands and her 4-year old son was grinding his teeth during sleep.
This was my first mission trip. I had been told that our main service would be touching and loving our patients since our medication supply was insufficient to meet the needs of the people in this impoverished community. Stress-related conditions are common among these farm workers raising bananas, cocoa and other tropical foods. Maria and her children had symptoms often associated with stress.
As a longstanding educator and researcher in the field of aging, I have seen a dramatic transformation from a focus on “what’s wrong” as we grow older to “what’s possible”! I see this not only in my professional life but in connections with amazing elders such as 91 year- old Erica Leon, a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to Los Angeles from Hungary in her 70s and started painting when she re-connected with her long-lost fiancee from before WWII who was an art instructor! Now arthritis inhibits her ability to paint, but not to write poetry or to Skype her family daily in Hungary.
To paraphrase a CMBM alum, “When I heard The Center for Mind-Body Medicine would be offering a seminar called ‘Mind, Mood & Food’ at Kripalu, I felt like the heavens were bringing all my favorite things together.” The “trifecta”, as I like to call it, was a beautiful blend of relevant material taught by engaging faculty in a setting where what was being taught could be practiced. Imagine learning about foods that support brain health and then going to Kripalu’s dining hall where those foods are waiting for you on an abundant buffet. Picture completing a moving meditation with Jim Gordon and then going to Yoga Dance during a seminar break. Kathie Swift spoke about the benefits of being in nature for brain health, and I’m convinced Mother Nature was a seminar participant as the weather was perfect for walks to the lake. It was seventy degrees in mid-March in the Berkshires!
Mark Pettus, Jay Lomard and Chuck Parker offered a wealth of knowledge and fantastic synergy as they fed off each other’s energy and complemented each other’s work. A big round of applause goes to the hard-working staff at Kripalu. They were wonderful to work with and jumped right in to run the program like a well-oiled machine. Mind, Mood & Food at Kripalu is definitely worth a repeat!
Food As Medicine Executive Chef Rebecca Katz, MS, just shared this lovely video, “Nourish means….” from the folks at NourishLife.org.
What nourishes you?