When people struggle emotionally they see a psychologist. They trust us so it’s our responsibility to understand our own limitations. There’s more than treating mental health than just psychology. A psychologist can certainly help heal the mind but when the body and spirit are injured or broken healing can only reach a certain point, which is why it’s imperative to treat the whole person– mind, body and spirit.
One person can’t do this. Believe me, I’ve tried! When I first started my private practice I was spending about 45 minutes of each session doing therapy with clients and spending the last 15 minutes guiding them through grounding techniques, guided meditation, breathing exercises, mindfulness, etc. There was just not enough time and it was taking away from what I do best... the therapy. Plus, it was just not my area of expertise, which is when I I knew I had to team up and collaborate with professionals who treat the body and spirit.
How Treating the Body Treats the Mind
Treating the body helps treat the mind. Our symptoms are held within the body and we need a way to physically release them. I think about the last time you were angry or stressed. What was happening in your body? Common physiological symptoms include increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle contraction and shallow breathing. we must be able to counteract these physical symptoms so that we can calm ourselves down.
if a client is distressed just by talking about their history of trauma or possible causes of their depression or anxiety then we’re going to have a lot more work to do in therapy. The goal now becomes to get the client to be able to physically handle talk therapy before we can even engage in talk therapy. This can sometimes be a challenging goal to achieve, as many clients fear they’re going to open up a can of worms they can never close again, that they’re going to breakdown or never stop crying. They fear their physical safety will be in jeopardy if they allow themselves to feel their pain. Our physical safety is the key to progress! PTSD Study
In fact, there’s been studies done to find out why some people get Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and others do not when they’ve experienced the same sort of trauma. The answer lies in their childhood. Researchers found that people who generally felt safe as children were less likely to experience PTSD than those people who didn’t feel safe as children. This research demonstrates the importance of our physical safety and its impact on our emotional health.
When we’re able to open ourselves up physically it leads to us being able to open up emotionally. One of the most common psychological treatment modalities is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Simply speaking, it’s a way we‘re able to learn how to manage our behavior in response to our thoughts. To do this, it requires a mind/body connection. This connection is necessary to have physical control when we feel out of control mentally or emotionally, because our body determines the trajectory of our mind. For example, when we’re angry we think of all kinds of inappropriate, out of control things that we want to do (yell, curse, break something, make impulsive decisions, etc.) and we need to trust that our physical body will not listen to us and control itself until our mind settles. Yoga and Meditation are the best ways to achieve a mind/body connection!
We live in a world of constant stimuli which leads to impatience, intolerance, poor attention and concentration and impulsivity. We rarely give ourselves alone time or even moments of quiet time. Actually, many people don’t like to be alone because, in the absence of stimuli, their brain continues to create stimuli by overthinking, over-analyzing and excessively worrying. How will we ever truly no what we want or don’t want or what decisions to make when we can’t quiet our mind long enough to hear the answers or check in with our body to figure out how we feel about something? Meditation allows us to do this. Meditating is often difficult at first but the benefits are well worth the practice! You’ll find you make better decisions and react to situations much more gracefully and compassionately, which leads us to a life of happiness and peace.
Yoga... More than a Workout
Yoga forces us to stay present. If you’ve practiced yoga before then you know that you can’t hold a pose and balance without staying present. It’s just not possible. This reminds us to stay present in our everyday life so that we’re not stressing about the past or worrying about the future.
Breath work is a key aspect of yoga and also a key aspect of regulating our emotions. In all workouts were taught to breathe along with our movement to make the movement easier. When we stretch we’re taught to breathe and lean into it while deepening the stretch. This emulates exactly how we should be feeling emotions. Most of us feel an uncomfortable emotion and immediately back away from it. The problem with this is when we don’t allow ourselves to feel what we feel then we pack it along in our proverbial baggage and carry it with us. Over time, the weight of this baggage becomes too much for us to bare and we break. Whereas, if we take the time to feel our emotions as they happen we can process them, move them through the body and let them go. Additionally, when we back away from our emotions our defense mechanism such as avoidance, repression and denial kick in, which means we now have even more work to do in therapy. Instead of just having our emotions to deal with we first have to breakdown those defense mechanisms before we can get to the emotions, which is sometimes more challenging than dealing with the emotions themselves. Proper breathing techniques helps lessen the intensity of what we’re feeling so it doesn’t hurt as badly. It’s the same concept of teaching pregnant women breathing techniques to help them through child birth. If proper breathing can help a woman suffer through the immense pain of child birth than it can certainty help us through our emotions! One More Reason to Get a Massage!
Another wonderful treatment option is massage. Because we hold our symptoms in our body we need a way to physically release them. Massage helps us open up physically, which in turn helps us open up emotionally. It allows us to breakdown our metaphorical “walls” that we build in an effort to protect ourselves from being hurt by others. It also allows us to release tension and become more comfortable with physical touch. People with more severe symptoms are often uncomfortable with people touching them in even if it’s something like a hug that’s meant to nurture and show love. There could be several reasons for not wanting physical touch but the most common reasons are that people don’t think they deserve love and affection or that if they lower their wall to allow that love and affection in they will be more susceptible to being hurt. What they don’t realize is that by doing so they end up being imprisoned inside their own wall and they’re the ones that end up hurting themselves. In addition, physical touch is extremely healing. There is a lot of research that shows that when somebody is gently touched in a comforting, Supporting way like on the shoulder hand or leg the pleasure centers of our brain are immediately activated. Even more encouraging, when someone is hugged the pleasure centers in our brain light up like a Christmas tree! People unable to withstand physical touch are denying themselves this basic human need for connections and healing. Sometimes just a single hug from someone we love can heal our heart.
At Free Spirit, we offer Thai Massage in our teepee! Thai massage is quite different from a traditional Swedish massage. If you’ve ever had a real time massage than you know it can be rather aggressive and the masseuse is not necessarily concerned with your comfort. Our Thai massage therapists are trained to perform this type of treatment in a much more gentle, comforting and relaxing manner for the specific purpose of releasing the physical stress of our emotional symptoms.
One of the most common treatment modalities is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps us learn how to manage our behavior in response to our thoughts. To do this requires a strong mind/body connection. We need to know that our body can remain in control physically even when we may feel out of control emotionally. Think about the last time you were angry and what you wanted to do in that moment. It’s usually not a pretty picture and definitely not us at our best. In these moments, our body’s job is to prevent our mind from taking over and acting out what our mind is telling us to do. Our body determines the trajectory of our mind. This is why treating the body as part of our treatment for the mind is essential.
Treating Our Spirit Through Energy
Having strong spiritual or religious beliefs I can often help through difficult challenges and struggles in life. These beliefs can help us believe in something greater than ourselves. It helps us get out of our immediate situation and find a greater purpose for our pain. But treating our spirit doesn’t have to have anything to do with spirituality or religion. Treating the Spirit involves treating the energy in and around us.
Proper Energy Functioning Explained
Eastern medicine refers to the Energy within us as our chakras and the energy around us as an aura. Western medicine has recently acknowledged this energy field but refers to it as a bio field. Call it what you want but there’s no debate that energy exists and that all living things need energy to survive. this energy needs to be able to flow through us and around us with ease in order to function properly. When we are distressed it creates blockages within this energy. Think of it as a drainage pipe. When the pipe gets blocked with debris the water (which would be the energy) backs up with too much pressure while the front part of the blockage doesn’t get any water causing the system be to become imbalanced. These blockages create physical and emotional distress. Physically, we can feel muscle aches and pain, fatigue or headaches. Emotionally, we can feel sad, angry, anxious or fearful. By unclogging these blockages through energy work we can find relief from these symptoms. Some examples of energy work are Reiki and Sound Healing. What’s Reiki & How does it Work?
There is now scientific evidence that Reiki helps release tension and heal us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Reiki works on our biofield or you can call it our chakra system and aura. This energy work shifts our body from a fight/flight response into a state of relaxation. Imagine how this can help in talk therapy? One Reiki session could accomplish what it could take months to accomplish in therapy. Because remember, we need to feel physically relaxed and safe in order to psychologically dig and challenge the mind.
Because Reiki works with the energy in and around us we are rarely touched by the person providing Reiki called a Reiki Master. Participating in a Reiki session is quite relaxing. at the start of the session you’ll be asked to lay down on a massage table fully clothed. Are you have to do is close your eyes, breathe, relax and let the Reiki master do the rest. It’s one of those experiences that when you leave you’ll say, “I don’t know what just happened but something definitely did!” People usually begin to notice a shift in their physical, mental and emotional well-being. When I’ve done it I feel a lightness and ease about my mood and attitude.
Healing Through Sound
Sound healing operates in a similar manner. It’s no secret that sound affects us all. Think of how you feel when you hear your favorite song or a baby cry. Sound invokes an emotional and physical reaction. Participating in a sound healing session is also similar to Reiki whereas you’ll be asked to lay comfortably, fully clothed with eyes closed. Only this time there will be sound healing instruments placed around your body. These instruments can include crystal singing bowls, Tibetan singing bowls, chimes, drums, gongs, etc. Each instrument emits a different frequency. Each frequency affects a different part of our physical body and emotional and spiritual energy. physically, this vibrational energy sinks our brain waves and puts us in a deep relaxed state similar to sleep which allows our body to heal itself and restore our energy. This vibrational force forces our energy to flow properly and removes any blockages.
For true healing and growth to occur we need to treat all parts of us, the mind, body and the spirit.
To schedule an appointment for any of these services please go to: https://www.freespiritcoaching.org