Every meeting at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine starts with a minute or so of Soft Belly Meditation, which is deep breathing with the simple mantra, “soft….belly”.
Most interns and guests look a little wide-eyed at the first meeting here when the meditation is announced. Perhaps they’re thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” or “Who are these people?!” I know I did, when I started working here. But after attending meetings at other companies and meetups, where you launch into business without the benefit of a meditation, I definitely notice a difference.
Would you like to help the special children in your life cope with worry and anxiety?
We’re thrilled to announce the publication of Bye-Bye Butterflies: Seven Ways To Breathe Out Worry, written by our Mind-Body Medicine faculty member Lilita Matison, LCSW. As a K-5 children’s counselor for 5 years, Lilita became familiar with the children’s worries and creative about helping them mindfully cope. This book is a marvelous result. Publicity for the book describes it as teaching “self-regulation, stress management and mind-body techniques”, and it certainly does; but it’s really just the cutest, most empowering and practical gift you could give any young child.
It was our last mind-body skills group meeting, alas. We added a little movement to our repertoire of acquired tools, with some Osho Kundalini for shaking followed by dancing to the glorious Bob Marley, singing his Three Little Birds. As I was preparing to fade the music, the woman who had tears streaming down her face as she danced caught my attention. We’ll call her “Margaret” for privacy reasons. I watched as Margaret sat back down, wiping tears from her rose colored cheeks. She grabbed the heart stone, our “talking stick,” and spoke with pure joy, “I use to belly dance to stay in shape, but ever since my cancer diagnosis I disconnected from everything below my neck. Ovarian cancer does that to you. It robs you from feeling your abdominal area, or worse yet, it instills fear that you can harm yourself by moving. Today after shaking and dancing I feel that I’ve come home, back to my body. I feel whole for the first time in years.”
Our signature mind-body medicine technique is something Founder and Director James Gordon, MD calls “Soft Belly”, by way of encouraging each of us to relax — which few of us instinctively do these days.
We sit quietly, breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth, which both calms the sympathetic nervous system and awakens the parasympathetic nervous system, creating a feeling of relaxation in the mind and body. Dr. Gordon suggests we think “soft” as we breathe in and “belly” as we breathe out, reminding ourselves to relax our belly so we can take in full, healing breaths rather than shallow, tense ones.
Last week the esteemed British journal The Lancet Oncology published remarkable new research showing that healthy lifestyle changes may lengthen our telomeres — i.e., may begin to reverse aging on a cellular level — the first time anything has been shown to do this.
I love taking my dog, Stella, to our local dog park. Sometimes I think I enjoy the experience even more than she does. Nothing makes me laugh more than seeing her zipping around the park at top speed, ears flat against her head, eyes wide, tongue hanging out of her mouth in that expression of pure joy that dogs master so well. Whatever trials and tribulations my day has wrought go right out the window when I watch her play.
Dogs are “man’s best friend,” a name earned not just for their loyalty but also for their unconditional love for us—and we love them back. People in the U.S. spend an increasing amount of money each year on their animals. And it’s not just dogs; we’re spending more and more money on all of our pets, from fish, rodents, and reptiles, to cats, and even horses. In 2012 Americans spent $53.3 billion, and that number is expected to hit $55.5 billion this year. If the cost of owning an animal is so high, how exactly does this relationship benefit us?
In the beginning, I was cautioned that most elderly veterans would be too debilitated, distressed, or lack the focus and cognitive ability to participate in a group program using CMBM techniques. It has been my experience, however, that CMBM groups are very effective in addressing the primary issues that elderly group members present with, including physical pain, grief, and sensory and cognitive limitations. Continue reading →
Join Mind-Body Medicine faculty member Kathy Farah, MD, a family doc from western Wisconsin, in this very brief guided visualization in which we appreciate our breath in a different way, as it travels deep into our lungs, giving us oxygen at a cellular level. Wonderful. Love her voice! Editor
Since my first Mind-Body Medicine Professional Training Program in 2006, there have been so many moments in which I have given quiet thanks for all that I have learned and experienced with the Center. The moment captured in this photo is but one of many. Having facilitated mind-body skills groups in all kinds of places with all kinds of people, young and old, I have noticed so many common themes, including one I’ve heard Jim refer to as the “equal opportunity group experience.”
Yoga is NOT just for people with beautiful bodies or those that have flexible bodies. Yoga offers tools that can be adapted to your unique needs. Are you stiff? Have joint problems? Pain? Overweight?