We all need a breather from time to time. We believe that everyone should have access to effective, evidence-based resources for self care. As part of our commitment to help people and communities develop the tools they need to heal trauma and build resilience, we’re proud to offer these guided mind-body practices at no cost.
Soft Belly Breathing
Soft Belly, a “concentrative meditation,” quiets the stress response, making it easier for us to accept and put our emotions in perspective. It enhances activity in the hippocampus and frontal cortex, which allow us to gain perspective on our emotions, to integrate them more easily with our memories and our ongoing experience. When our brain function is restored by Soft Belly, we are able, little by little, to quiet the flood of painful memories and fearful anticipation. We react less and respond more.
Mindful Eating is a “mindfulness meditation” designed to bring relaxed, moment to moment awareness into every aspect of eating.
The focus and appreciation that accompany mindfulness will enhance your pleasure in food, your thoughtfulness about which foods to eat and how much of them you really want. Eating mindfully will maximize the nutritional value of the foods you eat. Over time, it will exert a positive influence on your choice of foods and on the way you combine and prepare them.
Mindful eating also opens the door to bringing mindfulness into every activity in our lives.
You’ll need fifteen minutes for this experiment in mindfulness.
Body Scans focus relaxed attention on the various regions of our body.
The inner journey we’re going to take in this experiment begins with the awareness and relaxation of a Body Scan. It then guides us into a deeper, shamanic territory that includes active exploration, inquiry, and dialogue with the parts of our body to which our intuition guides us. This inner journey may bring you surprising, trauma-healing, life-changing discoveries.
Give yourself twenty to thirty minutes for this experiment. You may want to give yourself some extra time after the experiment to think about what you’ve learned, and record it in your Journal.
Shaking and Dancing
Shaking and Dancing, an “expressive meditation,” uses intense, disruptive effort and free movement to help us shed stress and tension and bring up and release emotion. Shaking and Dancing uses activity to bring us to a place of relaxation, balance, and acceptance that is similar to the one we find when we do Soft Belly.
Imagery is the language of our unconscious mind. When we create mental images, the areas of our brain associated with that sense light up with activity, just as if we were actually seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing, or smelling something in the outside world.
The brain centers where images are formed are intimately connected with the limbic or emotional brain, which includes the amygdala and hippocampus, and with the hypothalamus, which controls the autonomic nervous system and its fight- or- flight and freeze responses, as well as the endocrine and immune systems. These connections make possible imagery’s remarkable power to improve physical and mental functioning, reverse the damage done by trauma, and help us chart a path to ongoing healing and happiness.
Imagery reawakens right-brain activity that trauma has turned down or off, and allows us to use our imagination to become aware of concerns that had eluded our conscious mind, and to solve problems that had resisted purely rational thought.
In this module, we’ll do two experiments with imagery.
This first experiment with imagery will give you a direct experience of how images can affect your autonomic nervous system and, through this, your physiological functioning. Lemon Imagery is a good place to start if you’re new to Guided Imagery: it gets you comfortable with using imagery and gives you an immediate felt sense of imagery’s power.
Safe Place imagery can be particularly important in giving you relief when troubling memories are surfacing, when you’re facing an experience that evokes previous trauma, or when you’re just living through a stressful time. When you create a Safe Place, you draw on happy memories—or the imagined end of distress—to create a place and a feeling of calm and peace.
Once you’ve cultivated a sense of calm and peace in your Safe Place, you’re ready to meet your Wise Guide to access your intuitive wisdom.
For aboriginal healers, the Wise Guide’s words are a communication from the Spirit World. Some people are sure, when they meet their Guides, that they are contacting a Higher Power. Most scientific researchers believe the Wise Guide is an Inner Guide, a manifestation of our own unconscious wisdom, the creative right hemisphere of our brain, our intuition.
Set aside twenty or thirty minutes for visiting your Safe Place and meeting your Wise Guide.
Explore a new science-based approach using nutrition to support optimal brain health and to address personal health challenges.