This CMBM webinar was broadcast on August 4, 2016 and presented by James S. Gordon, MD, founder and executive director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine with an introduction by Rosemary Murrain, the managing director. We have provided the audio for you and answered the most common questions below. If you have questions about the webinar series, please contact Brian Jacobson at [email protected].
Questions & Answers by James S. Gordon, MD
During the webinar, several people had questions for Jim. We have consolidated the questions and had Jim provide answers.
How easy it is to become involved in what you are doing so we can begin teaching and sharing mind-body techniques in our schools, work places, etc.?
It’s actually fairly simple. We have many people who have brought our work and training to schools, hospitals, businesses, places of worship, and community organizations. People first come through our training program, then go back to their community and begin sharing what they’ve learned. They often begin by working where there is the most interest in mind-body medicine, and the most need. For example, you may start to work with colleagues who are stressed out, with children who are having difficulty concentrating, or with people who fall between the cracks of other healthcare or welfare agencies, and others that welcome thoughtful attention and practical mind-body techniques—the elderly, the homeless, etc. Many first responders who have high levels of stress are also interested in mind-body skills. We suggest that you bring at least one other person in your community to attend the training with you. And, in the beginning, the two of you team up to offer mind-body skills groups, which you will experience and learn at the training. To begin sharing mind-body skills, the key elements are your experience of our approach, the respect you have in our community, and the practical, non-stigmatizing way the work unfolds. We’re deeply committed to helping the people we train develop programs that are appropriate for their communities, and our faculty can also provide mentoring when you start implementing mind-body skills groups.
What plans are there for the Center to continue reaching traumatized children in the US, due to disease, abuse, and/or having experienced peripheral crises at schools in their neighborhoods and communities?
We’re extremely interested in reaching traumatized children. All of us recognize that it’s even easier for kids than adults to use mind-body approaches. The imagination, particularly of young children, is not constrained by ideas of what is or is not possible. In the second, Advanced Training phase of our professional training program, we have a track that is specifically focused on working with children. We also have a training manual that’s specifically devoted to adapting a wide-range of mind-body techniques to the needs of children and teens. We use the manual in our training and share it with everyone who comes. A number of our US faculty have worked with children traumatized by abuse and neglect, as well life threatening illnesses, shootings, and natural disasters, so you will gain first-hand knowledge from their experience working with traumatized children.
How do I know which mind-body techniques are best for me to use?
All of our work is about experimentation and self awareness. Ordinarily, I suggest that people choose one quiet technique (for example, soft-belly breathing) and one active technique (perhaps shaking and dancing or fast, deep breathing), and then do them daily devoting about 10 minutes to each. My suggestion is to stick with this approach for at least 3 weeks — notice the benefits and also the challenges and difficulties, including your resistance to doing them at all. If a technique is serving you well, keep up with it. If it no longer seems valuable, let it go and try another. Remember, no one technique is good for everybody. This is all about finding what works best for you.
Whenever you run up against a situation that’s troublesome and not easily dealt with, you may want to explore mind-body techniques that mobilize your imagination, such as guided imagery, working with drawings, dialogues with a symptom, problem, or issue,. It’s good to save your “work product” (this means writing down the results of your guided imagery) and to notice the changes over time.
All of these and many other techniques are described in detail in my book, Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression, and we also teach them all in our Professional Training Program in Mind-Body Medicine. The goal is to find a technique that works well for you.
How do you envision doing outreach to men?
What an interesting question. The question implies that men are less likely to be interested in self-care and in the process of self-awareness that makes it possible. Men seem to prefer solutions that are definitive and implemented by professionals. There’s certainly truth to this. From the beginning, women have played a leadership role in the movement for self-care, and it’s important to remember the popularity of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Men are more likely to come to use a mind-body approach if they feel they’ve come up against the limits of conventional treatment for physical conditions. Still, you can strongly encourage men as a clinician. Michelle Hamilton, a psychologist at the New Orleans’ Veterans Affairs, does it as follows: instead of prescribing a treatment, as she normally does with cognitive therapy and group therapy, she tells her male vets, “this approach changed my life, I use these techniques every day. I teach them to my family. Are you interested?” It’s an invitation based on powerful and persuasive personal experience.
I have ADHD. Sometimes I find that my mindfulness and relaxation techniques can go on for longer than I intend…sometimes being in the moment ends up being in the 20 minutes. I struggle to get back on task. Do you have any recommendations?
One simple and practical recommendation is to use a timer to set an appropriate period for your meditation. There are many other approaches that may be helpful for ADHD, including physical exercise, nutritional counseling, and neurofeedback. A number of people we’ve trained have used our approach, which includes basic guidance and nutrition, as well as exercise and mind-body medicine with great success in treating children and adults with ADHD.
Are there any mind-body trainings in Jordan?
We’ve been doing mind-body workshops in Jordan for the last couple of years, primarily with Syrian refugees and the aid workers who serve them. There’s tremendous interest across Jordan in having trainings facilitated by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM). We have an Arabic speaking faculty and all of our materials are translated into Arabic (as well as other languages). The limiting factor, now, is funding–and, we’re working on it. I’d be very grateful for any leads that you or anyone else might have.
What are the future dates of trainings in 2017? Are you coming back to the Midwest? Could you consider coming to Madison, WI?
Our next cycle of trainings begins with Mind-Body Medicine Fundamentals in Portland, Oregon, October 14-18, 2016, and the Advanced Training also in Portland. Completing the fundamentals course is a prerequisite for joining the Advanced Training. Information about these trainings and, also, our Food As Medicine nutrition training program, is available on our website at cmbm.org.