October 5, 2013
Mind Body Medicine Training/Conference, Day 1: Time for a Dance Party
The future is in how we care for ourselves now. Your happiness and quality of life starts with your awareness of the interconnectedness between the physical body and your emotions.
As a life and wellness coach, I believe it is my duty to provide clients with credible and evidence based knowledge and tools to achieve their goals, so I made the quick flight from Beverly Hills to San Francisco to spend five days at the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s annual training/conference. The purpose is to educate (so we can then teach others) on how the conversation between the various aspects of our body (physical, biological, chemical, psychological, and spiritual) effect our wellbeing and how we can take an active role in our own health through mind body practices.
Mind body practices (meditation, exercise, self-expression, art, journaling, prayer, bio-feedback, acupuncture) are intended to induce relaxation, reduce stress, and decrease the possibility of long term illness such as heart conditions and cancer. When mindfulness strategies were used with cancer patients over an 8 week period, studies proved a dramatic decrease in stress, anger, depression, anxiety and confusion. The stress hormone, cortisol decreased, which indicates that the body biologically responded to the mind body practices. Studies have also shown that brain regions associated with attention, interoception (perception of internal sensation) and sensory processing were thicker in people who have a consistent meditation practice than people who don’t meditate at all. (For all of you “busy” people out there, some of the subjects in the study were meditating for less than 20 minutes a day).
If cancer patients are the extreme example of a person under stress, what could mind body medicine do for you? Do not negate the stress you are experiencing at work, with your family, and in social settings as insignificant in relation to your long term health.
I participated in a group activity where we used crayons to draw three pictures. The first: how I see myself now, the second: how I see myself with my obstacles/problems, the third: how I see myself when the obstacles/problems are resolved.
I was not expecting the amount of unconscious and conscious feelings that revealed themselves on my paper. I also was not expecting to see that how I see myself now, and how I see myself after my obstacles have been resolved are not that far apart. The take home message? We engage in a therapeutic, self-care process when we allow feelings and emotion to come out through art.
Without getting into too much detail, the experience left me feeling lighter, bouncier, energized and connected to how we are all intended to be: happy and peaceful.
I’d have to say that my favorite part of the day was when we “shaked and danced.” Several hundred attendees all stood up and shook from our knees, to our hips, to our shoulders, to our head, then broke out in dance, however the music moved us. Turns out that dancing is quite the opposite of frivolous; frozen feelings came bubbling out and there was a light heartedness to the entire lecture hall after this 7 minute practice.
Can you imagine the impact at your office and home life if for 7 minutes everyone took the time to shake that ass and dance-party-it-out?
I’m no expert (yet), but I bet you could expect a flow of creativity, an ability to stay calm under stress, an increase in laughter, and an overall sense of life being just a little more awesome.
RELIsh Life is Arielle's healthy lifestyle website/blog. Arielle is a certified life and wellness coach who helps you find balance in life by creating practices for the mind, body, and spirit.