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.”
In the bucolic community of Sandy Hook, the air hangs thick with grief and anxiety. I visited with Dr. James Gordon at the end of July, as CMBM’s new Global Trauma Relief Coordinator, seeing and talking to people who had been profoundly affected by the December 14th shootings at their elementary school. I had followed these events from afar, of course, but now I was actually listening to how people’s lives had changed, and realized that it’s not just the people who lost family and friends who are suffering. Everyone in the Newtown area, perhaps across the state, now sees life differently. Some heard the gunshots. Some saw children flee—and didn’t know why. Some saw the dead, and painfully realized they couldn’t restore life. Tragedy has visited others since then, but in the shadow of December 14, they grapple with it quietly. And how to celebrate? Babies are born; there are birthdays. I worried about being seen as an interloper.
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?
Our colleague Tim Eden, MSW, Assistant to Dr. Gordon, is bicycling across the country right now, from Seattle, WA to his mom’s home in New Jersey. Whew. But before he left, we asked him to share what are, in his opinion, the top 5 studies showing the efficacy and validity of mind-body medicine– the ones you can use to convince your boss– or yourself– to finally put it on your calendar to attend our legendary Mind-Body Medicine Professional Training program, coming up October 5 – 9 in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With me in Haiti is Kathleen deLaski, a former journalist and AOL executive, whose father Don has made possible everything we’ve done in Haiti. Since Don’s death a year ago, she has headed up the family foundation, and now wants to experience firsthand the program that Don so generously and lovingly funded. Her daughter, Catherine Grubb, who is studying neuroscience, is with us, as are Lee-Ann Gallarano, who manages our Global Trauma Relief program, and Laura Milstein, our Development Director. It’s Laura’s first trip to Haiti, as well as Kathleen and Catherine’s. Linda Metayer, the psychologist who leads our Haiti program, has organized our visit.
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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.”
When did you begin meditating and why?
Which meditation practice(s) did you choose?
How has meditation affected your life?
I began meditating in 1974 right after medical school.
I was a psychology major in college and deeply influenced by Albert Schweitzer, who had doctorates in music and theology when he went to medical school as a path to lifelong service in Africa.
So, with this mind-body-spirit perspective, I was thrilled to read two groundbreaking articles that Herbert Benson and Keith Wallace published when I was in medical school. In both studies, practitioners of Transcendental Meditation (TM), silently repeating their word (‘mantra’), demonstrated physiological changes of deep rest while awake. Those changes were often even greater than those found during sleep. Benson called these changes the Relaxation Response, which has formed the basis for his work ever since.
Not long afterwards, I discovered that one of the pathology faculty members was meditating behind his closed door for 20 minutes each afternoon. He referred me to his TM teacher and I learned to meditate.
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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.
Financial stress can be one of the most painful and debilitating experiences— something with which many Americans have become intimately familiar.Often, when we are dealing with financial stress, we feel the dual burden of shame for having gotten where we are and a lack of control over how to get out.
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.