Mindfulness

Michael Shea Loving Kindness

May basic goodness dawn
May the confidence of goodness be eternal
May goodness be all victorious
May that goodness bring profound, brilliant glory

This is a supplication chanted every morning in the Shambala lineage that I am part of.  Over the past week, I have spoken with many people, health professionals and mental health professionals about the emotional challenges faced by many people.  One common theme is a rather deep sense of fear leading to an edge of despair. So first of all it is important to point out that these are important and basic human emotions.  So the feelings and emotions we are having (I include myself) are basically good and an expression of our humanity.  I also believe that they are an expression of a deep sense of caring which is the foundation of compassion.  I just finished writing an article on caring which I think some of you might enjoy reading.  CLICK HERE to read.

I would like to propose three ways in which we can all work with the current state of our mind, feelings and emotions.  We must turn inward and stabilize our mind in order to see clearly what is necessary for our own inner healing first.  One of my favorite Buddhist publications called Tricycle sent out a care package of articles last week reflecting this necessity of inner peace and inner stability.  Of course, I like Pema Chodron the most and here she is. CLICK HERE to read.

Secondly, it is important to take care of our loved ones and especially our children who may be confused by all of the emotionality and energy of the moment.  I, myself am doing some deep bonding with my wife as we are simply spending more time holding each other and allowing our breathing and hearts to synchronize and settle together.  Of course, we have always loved to do this, but especially now.

Thirdly, I would like to point out some important research from the University of Michigan.  Pregnant women who experience racism or fear of racism are more prone to have babies with birth defects and other long term health problems.  It is extremely important that all of us find time to help these mothers whether it be in low income communities or ethnic communities to reduce their fear and anxiety. The promotion of social events and connection through churches, community centers or even your own personal initiative to form community groups to share food and stories is vital at this moment, if not all other moments as well.

I went to the ocean last week and created 5 new meditation videos relating to the fluid body.  Because I have talked to many people who have had a strong activation of their PTSD symptoms, it is also important to spend time in nature so the nervous system and heart have a much larger space to heal. Here are the links to the You-Tube videos.

Fluid Body 1
Fluid Body 2
Fluid Body 3
Fluid Body 4
Fluid Body 5

Finally, I recommend the following prayer of loving kindness be memorized and used repeatedly both verbally and nonverbally:

May all people be safe and protected
May all people be healthy in body and mind
May all people be happy
May all people live with ease and in peace

Attunement, Biodynamic Terminology, Coherence, Embodiment Practices, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Presence

Release Based Cathartic Therapy: Cautions and Considerations

CONCEPTUAL OVER SIMPLICITY

Catharsis therapy is based on the idea that bringing painful memories to consciousness with emotional discharge is the best way to recover from old wounds. Deliberately re-living a traumatic event by dredging up memories or releasing emotions through catharsis is more likely to re-traumatize the body/mind than to heal it…the body/mind cannot distinguish between re-living and the real thing. Each time it will summon its defensive mechanisms in the same way that it would if the event were real. The cathartic approach perpetuates the effects of trauma (Levine 1995).

Some body centered therapists although well intentioned have adopted an old belief called the hydraulic theory of mind (Nichols and Zax 1977). This theory postulates that there is an excessive amount of fluid behind a client’s eyes that needs to come out and it’s up to the therapist to facilitate that release. But viewing clients as having pathologically dammed up unexpressed emotions only impedes the therapeutic process (Warme 1980).

Catharsis was historically associated with both purging the body and spiritual purification. The founder of the cathartic method, Aristotle, wrote about the catharsis of one’s passions, especially pity and fear, through music and tragedy. It was not until the 19th century that psychologists began to reinterpret what Aristotle meant by catharsis, and it is there that the roots of the current practice of provoking emotional release can be found. Pierre Janet (1859-1947) created a treatment for the mental disinfection of traumatic memories by mental liquidation (Jackson 1994). These treatments were specifically designed for discharging emotions. He also called this a moral fumigation.

There is an equally rich history in religion, theater and music for the release of emotions (Scheff 1977). However, even Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung came to the conclusion in the later stages of their careers that catharsis and emotional release were not primary factors in the therapeutic treatment, but rather a secondary component (Jackson 1994). There are four categories of catharsis: abreaction, integration, inclusion and significance or spiritual catharsis (Blatner 1985). The catharsis of abreaction is the experience of re-living a traumatic event along with its associated memories. An essential principle in facilitating catharsis is that the client is not simply re-experiencing the original trauma by abreaction. The therapist must anchor the awareness in the context of right here and right now. Hyperarousal from past trauma is experienced in the nervous system as a current event, even if a memory is present. When I work with a client during a catharsis, I look to see if he can be anchored; can he witness his experience from the inside rather than over-identifying or being totally in the emotions? “Can the adult in you see the experiences you are having right now?” This is a question I often ask my clients. “Where are you within all of that?” is another question. The focus of contemporary therapy is helping the client self-regulate their emotions from the inside rather than releasing them.

Integration is an expansion of one’s sense of self to include new experiences that were previously incompatible. I cannot reject my past or get rid of it by surgery or therapy. I can only integrate it to a higher level of functioning. To thoroughly understand integration requires knowledge of the variety of coping and defense mechanisms that clients use to shield themselves from experience.

The catharsis of inclusion includes the need to feel love and friendship. It is a deep and powerfully significant part of psycho-social functioning. Any therapist, whether psychology- or body-oriented, should never underestimate the need for inclusion as a source of motivation for all sorts of behavior. My sense of self naturally expands beyond my skin to include whatever groups or individuals I identify with in my life. For many reasons, people often feel alienated from others and this brings them to therapy. The therapeutic exchange of “helping and being helped, self-disclosure and empathy and forgiving and being forgiven are some of the components of the greater process of inclusion” (Slavson 1951).My experience has taught me that many of the currently popular approaches to healing trauma provide only temporary relief at best. Some cathartic methods that encourage intense emotional reliving of trauma may be harmful. I believe that in the long run, cathartic approaches create a dependency on continuing catharsis and encourage the emergence of so-called false memories. Because of the nature of trauma, there is a good chance that the cathartic reliving of an experience can be traumatizing rather than healing (Levine 1997, p 10).

Spiritual catharsis is the fourth type of catharsis. It occurs when a client feels a greater degree of wholeness, unitive consciousness, God, a higher power, a deeper power, etc. These states have historically been referred to as religious conversion, ecstasy, receiving the Holy Spirit, being Saved, mystical, an epiphany, etc. However, these states must be integrated into daily life and the ordinariness of existence. I may have an extraordinary realization and still abuse my kids when I get home. It is important to help clients work through or discover the meaning of such events and how to evoke deeper consciousness of the numinous on their own (Scheff 1977).

Emotional release work has two aspects to it. The first is the somatic element and the second is the cognitive element (Le Doux 1989). When a therapist focuses only on somatic sensate level, the work is only half done. The same can be true in psychotherapy, which tends to focus only on the cognitive (abstract) aspect of the emotions. Ideally then, a therapy that offers deep insight into change processes would offer somatic and cognitive integration. However, emotional release work is sometimes viewed as a quick fix and as a substitute for ongoing psychotherapy or more sophisticated body-centered approaches such as Somatic Experiencing, Bodynamics, Hakomi Integrative Somatics, Somato-Sensory Integration and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. This is especially important in the case of repetitive shock trauma and deeper psychophysical problems.

The expression of affect in therapy becomes an end in itself, rather than a welcome by-product of the process of resolution of intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts. Patients are encouraged and even exhorted to vent their feelings and express their impulses. At worst, unconscious conflicts and urges unacceptable to the patient are exposed triumphantly as soon as they are recognized by the therapist; partly in an attempt to elicit as much affect as possible and thereby drain the psychic abscess. The highly questionable implicit assumption is that catharsis contributes to internalized, lasting change.

…Furthermore there is danger that some patients’ defenses will not be merely penetrated but totally overrun, with adverse therapeutic results; the defenses may not reconstitute in adaptive fashion since the interpretative focus has been on the unconscious impulse and not on the coping mechanism; to deal with high levels of affect there may be prolonged regression, such as emergence of paranoid or schizoid symptoms or intense dependency upon the therapist. Even where these do not occur the message is transmitted to the patient that free expression of feeling and gratification of sexual and aggressive impulses are in themselves therapeutic. This encourages various forms of acting-out which often have adverse consequences for the patient and for others (Lowy 1970).

I would like to invite you to my next couple of trainings that I will be doing.  The first is called Biodynamic Work with CVS: The Heart, Face and Circulation.  This course will take place in Austin, Texas, February 18-21, 2016.  Please contact Ryan Hallford at ryan@cranioschool.com to reserve your spot.

The next opportunity will take place at Cortiva Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona.  This course is called Craniosacral Therapy for Head Injuries: Rebalancing the Cerebrovascular System.  The course will take place February 26-28, 2016.  Please contact Kallie Gough at kgough@cortiva.com for registration information.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

Attunement, Biodynamic Terminology, Coherence, Embodiment Practices, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Presence

Release Based Cathartic Therapy: Cautions and Considerations

Today I would like to start posting on emotional release work. I wrote this as part of my dissertation a few years ago and it is still relevant. All of the references will be posted in the final blog of this series.

Since the days of Mesmer, certain forms of therapy in the West have also mobilized intense emotions. In mesmeric sessions, the female patients sat about the baquet (a container filled with magnetized water) holding hands and pressing their knees together to facilitate the flow of magnetic fluid, and , touching the diseased parts of their bodies from time to time with iron rods that had been dipped into the baquet. Then the assistant magnetizers entered, strong handsome young men who massaged the ladies in various ways and stared intently into their eyes, to the accompaniment of “a few wild notes on the harmonica…or the piano-forte, or the melodious voice of a hidden opera singer…Gradually the cheeks of the ladies began to glow, their imaginations became inflamed; and off they went, one after the other, in convulsive fits.” Some of the convulsions lasted more than three hours. Then Mesmer, dressed in an elegant silk robe, would solemnly enter and touch each patient with his magnetic white wand, quickly restoring them “to sensibility and sometimes to health” (Frank 1961, p. 251).

INTRODUCTION
Emotions have many meanings. They represent a visceral change in terms of the physiology of the gastrointestinal system (Donaldson 1971). Emotions are neurological events (Ekman et al. 1983, Heller 1990). Emotion is an observable behavior. It is a feeling. It is a need. It is an instinct, and many people are instinct impaired. It is an intelligence (Goleman 1995). It is a significant experience. It is an energy. It is meaning (Hillman 1971). It is a developmental process. Emotions are both organizing and disorganizing forces. Emotion is a hypothetical construct (Lewis & Haviland 1993). Emotions are posture and structure (Keen 1970, Rolf 1980, Feldenkrais 1948). Emotions are social interactions (Schacter & Singer 1962). Clearly, there are many meanings to emotions, how they are constructed and their purpose.
Emotions are vital sources of information about self identity and individual needs as well as behaviors necessary to get those needs. Emotions can motivate us to act in self-correcting ways as long as they are expressed appropriately rather than holding on to them. Whatever emotions might be, they are certainly a source of connection between the mind, the body and the stimulus to act (Dafter 1996). Theorists have suggested that the number of primary emotions vary from six to nine, from which there is a wide range of more subtle affective experience (Plutchnik 1980).
It is important to make distinctions between emotional release and an affect. An affect may be an emotion, a behavior, a feeling, a mood linked to an image usually from a traumatic experience. Further distinctions must be made between those terms and abreaction which is the short form of saying emotional release. Catharsis is a stronger form of abreaction that includes specific memories and reliving an event. Emotional release is usually accompanied by crying and/or body movement. Emotional release or abreaction also has an equally important cognitive component (Safran & Greenberg 1991). I am neurologically wired to experience sensations and generate feelings. Cognition is one link between sensation and emotions. I constantly sense the physicality underlying my emotions. Next it is necessary to communicate what I feel. Processing my feeling states with others is crucial to healing. Finally I am driven to understand the meaning of my feelings/emotions. There are no negative emotions. There are only blocked emotions which are considered an impediment to health and healing. (Spiegel, Bloom & Kraemer 1989).
Any single act of emotional release or catharsis only provides temporary release or pleasure. It is important to understand how physical energy stagnates in the body and that there are sophisticated processes for redistributing and organizing it. This process corresponds to the complex of motivations, values and beliefs that clients have and the many situations in which they would be involved (Schafer 1970). Please bear in mind during this chapter that the point of view being presented is that the majority of health professionals question the validity of catharsis (Biaggio 1986).
Massage therapists often witness their clients releasing emotions, which may lead them to want to facilitate such releases. This would be a dual relationship—massage and psychotherapy–which may be challenging without some depth of training and knowledge of the psychology of client/therapist relationships. Recently, techniques such as holitropic breath work, rebirthing and somato-emotional release (SER) have given massage therapists an opportunity to intentionally invite emotional responses in clients. These therapies are the vestiges of the pop psychologies of the 1960’s. When the culture turned the corner in the 1960’s, it dramatically entered the information age in which the stability of the 50’s and 60’s changed to chaos, speed and a world economy or global village. This chaos resulted in significant body adaptations and compensation. These are syndromes, viruses, anxiety, depression, rare diseases, cancer, and many other physical problems. Catharsis therapies were an important part of therapy in that era, especially for the rigid minds and bodies of the 1950’s, but they’ve lost their relevance for the post-modern contemporary client struggling with deep metabolic problems. Today what is greatly needed is a training of gentleness and kindness rather than release and catharsis.

 

I would like to invite you to my next couple of trainings that I will be doing.  The first is called Biodynamic Work with CVS: The Heart, Face and Circulation.  This course will take place in Austin, Texas, February 18-21, 2016.  Please contact Ryan Hallford at ryan@cranioschool.com to reserve your spot.

The next opportunity will take place at Cortiva Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona.  This course is called Craniosacral Therapy for Head Injuries: Rebalancing the Cerebrovascular System.  The course will take place February 26-28, 2016.  Please contact Kallie Gough at kgough@cortiva.com for registration information.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

Attunement, Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Biodynamic Terminology, Coherence, Coherent Breathing, Embodiment Practices, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Metabolic Syndrome, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Presence

What is Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Part 8

Question: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers that I have forgotten?

Answer: The important thing in all of this is for the practitioner to feel the movement of his or her heart. I probably should have said this at the very beginning but the biodynamic process starts with mindfulness of the therapist’s body especially the heart. This is a very direct and personal relationship I have with my body called interoceptive awareness. Research clearly says that sensing the movement of our own heart changes our brain structure. It reinforces the self-regulation capacity of our brain and consequently our heart. So for me biodynamic practice is about rebuilding a strong connection between the heart, the brain and the body. This connection is based also upon the perception of PR and Stillness. Strengthening this connection builds resilience so that we stop wasting emotional and physical energy. In this way our natural biological instinct for compassion becomes stronger. PR and stillness are the ground of compassion. The heart is the path.

And that means compassion for ourselves and others. It also means a greater sense of contentment and happiness can be achieved. All of which are qualities rooted in our biology and can start to wake up with attention on PR, Stillness and the heart. They are located in such small seeds in the ground of our heart, brain and body at the moment. So if we can decrease the compulsive thoughts and disturbing emotions we can water the seeds of happiness and compassion with PR and Stillness.

NOTE:  This is the final posting in this series.  I hope that you enjoyed it.  Next week I will begin a series called:  Release Based Cathartic Therapy: Cautions and Considerations. Thank you for being a part of this community.

 

Once again, I wish to invite you to join me in NYC for this weekend’s free lecture and next week’s class on Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy.  This course will instruct on new cutting-edge research on the embryonic development of the heart and blood and changes in the field of cardiology with light touch manual therapy as a mindfulness-based practice.  In this introductory course we will focus on applying craniosacral therapy skills to the cardiovascular system and learn new techniques to reduce systemic inflammation and reduce cortisol and stress levels.  I hope to see you there.  Click here for info and to register.

Attunement, Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Biodynamic Terminology, Coherence, Coherent Breathing, Embodiment Practices, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Metabolic Syndrome, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Presence

What is Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Part 7

Question: You have been the student of a medicine man on the Navajo reservation in Arizona for a long time. In the workshop you have compared the 3-dimensional perception of our physical body and the perception of Primary Respiration and Stillness with the medicine wheel, bear skin and rattle of a traditional healer. All these therapeutic “tools” support “containment” for the – sometimes lively and intense – healing processes, you said. What do we need this containment for? Why is it so important and helpful?

Answer: Containment is the therapeutic model that I teach in biodynamic practice. Containment specifically relates to the self-regulation that I mentioned earlier and it has a traditional meaning from these ancient healing rituals. First from a contemporary context, our culture has had a long fascination with emotions and releasing emotions. This includes some quite strong cathartic therapies. It is interesting to note that there is no research validating the efficacy or value of emotional release therapies for the long-term health and wellbeing of the person. It’s very strange to me that even in our field of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy there is still such a misunderstanding around this need for containment rather than for a release.

I certainly myself practiced and taught emotional release therapy early in my career until I noticed exactly what the research was saying: my clients and students for the most part were not improving in whatever dimension of their mind-body continuum that they were engaged with. Containment requires a lot of patience and a lot of attention to the whole theater of healing. This includes the table, the room, the props we use, the symbols we have on the walls and shelves of our office, and especially the availability to see and hear and maybe even smell the natural world outside the office. Each of these layers of the container participates in the therapeutic process with the client. This is where the contemporary and traditional models of containment start to merge. I am not that exclusive person that delivers health and healing to the client at all. The Greek word for therapist originally meant “the manager of the healing space.”

So I see myself as a manager much like John Nelson the medicine man I studied with. A manager is also a conductor of a symphony as different tones begin to occur during a session whether that’s thunder and lightning, bird song, a cell phone going off, or a car horn blowing outside, and so forth. Everything influences the therapeutic relationship as a basic principle of containment. The therapist as manager has to make choices about what’s relevant and not relevant by the quality of their attention and palpation. It is important to develop the palpatory skill of sensing the environmental influences occurring during the session in the client’s body. Otherwise, a bear skin, a rattle and eagle feathers are nothing more than museum pieces.

These tools are used to connect the client with the healing power of the world of nature. We are using our perception of PR and stillness in the natural world of our bodies and the environment as the bear skin, rattle and so forth. You can feel the effect of the natural world in the client and the improvement in the healing trajectory of the session. Traditionally, since their effects could be strong in combination with the prayers being said by the medicine man, the medicine man had to help “contain” these effects so they did not overwhelm or injure the client.

In a contemporary biodynamic practice, containment is the perception of PR and Stillness as the major influence on what the therapeutic and transformational process occurs in the client. This of course includes motion present in the fluid body, vascular and nervous system of the client. PR and Stillness operate best in a container of wholeness built by the perceptual process of the therapist. Containment then means the place to remember wholeness. It needs a place to observe the whole container from a palpatory point of view and that point of observation is the surface of the client’s skin via the hands, as well as the practitioner’s own heart and body. This is coupled with a perception that is attuned to the environment or the larger whole of the natural world. In this way perception and palpation dance back and forth all session. Containment also means that the client learns how to self-regulate internally without any demands to perform emotionally because at a deep level it is impossible to know what the client is working with spiritually. This means that ultimately containment is a spiritual principle.

It sounds easy but our minds can get in the way and I for example frequently fantasize about what I might want to purchase on Amazon that evening. So it’s a constant process of coming back to the ground of the container of my own body, the office and the natural world as one living whole that contains the transformational energy of PR and Stillness in the healing process of the client.

 

Once again, I invite you all to attend a course I will be teaching titled:  An Introduction to Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy: A Training for Health Practitioners. This course will take place in New York City at the New York Open Center, February 1-3, 2016.  In this introductory course we will focus on applying craniosacral therapy skills to the cardiovascular system and learn new techniques to reduce systemic inflammation and reduce cortisol and stress levels.  I invite each of you to join me.  Let’s hope the snow stays to a minimum! 

Visit this link for details and registration:  http://www.opencenter.org/events/an-introduction-to-biodynamic-cardiovascular-therapy-a-training-for-health-practitioners/  I look forward to seeing you in the Big Apple.

Attunement, Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Biodynamic Terminology, Coherence, Coherent Breathing, Embodiment Practices, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Metabolic Syndrome, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Presence

What is Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Part 6

Question: If we look at the heart-to-heart connection of a mother with her child from the embryological view as being the basis for our treatments, meaning we look at our hands and arms being the connecting stalk or umbilical cords, we invite a kind of prenatal symbiotic relation.
a.) Is this appropriate for a therapeutic situation and helpful? Where are the risks?
b.) How can we still feel, appreciate and support our independence and also the one of our clients?
c.) How can we let go of this symbiotic experience at the end of a session, or how can we support our clients to let go of the therapeutic container and become independent, empowered adults.

Answer: I like to think of the therapeutic relationship as a biological metaphor. There are so many ways especially in early development that we have a shared biology and a shared physiology. It’s natural that sometimes we might feel as if we are a parent loving a child, a mother recently conceived, or like a mother carrying a full-term child that might be kicking her diaphragm. I see no risks at all when I inhabit these biological metaphors from early development. This is because my perception is focused on PR and Stillness. At the level of early development, PR and Stillness is more related to love as a living part of our biology than anything else.

Of course, we live in the age of numerous prenatal therapies associated with early trauma. But biodynamic practice in the long-tide model of PR does not focus on prenatal trauma at all but rather the health experienced with PR and Stillness. I know that it is not easy sometimes with clients to focus on love rather than on trauma.

It’s also important to understand the emerging science of interpersonal neuro-biology (IPNB). This field states that the therapeutic relationship is a two-person-biology, in which our nervous and vascular systems start to synchronize. From this point of view we are already connected regardless of our therapeutic intent. I remember earlier in my career when I was taught that I need to shield myself or protect myself from the clients’ energy. Now I know that’s not possible. Once again, I employ the movement of PR heart-to-heart, in which I allow the client in their totality to move through me and for my heart to expand and transform the pain and suffering of the client into a sense of well-being. This requires that the therapist spend more time sensing their own body and staying in resonance with PR and Stillness.

One teacher of mine said “Breathe in the bad, exhale out the good”. This speaks to the constant exchange that is happening between a therapist and client at an unconscious level. In biodynamic practice we want to bring that whole unconscious biological domain to conscious awareness through the body first. Sometimes that’s difficult to do when we are tired or stressed. The critical factor in creating differentiation between the client and therapist, is for the therapist to spend the majority of the session sensing his or her own body. There is a natural cycle of attunement in which the therapist moves their attention towards the client, and then away from the client. It turns out that we are both experiencing the two-person-biology and two autonomous human beings at the same time. This is called self-regulation, in which I regulate via relationship and I also regulate autonomously. Resonance through attunement then is a critical piece to the therapeutic and I might say any human relationship. Animal lovers also speak about such resonance with their pets.

Both developmental vectors are present from conception onwards through the lifespan with obvious differences in the ratio of one to the other. It depends on one’s age and to a certain extent, on one’s spiritual aptitude and development. But the direct application of this information is accomplished in the therapeutic relationship by the therapist moving their attention between themselves, the client, and the natural world in the tempo of PR, waiting for an oceanic stillness and then abiding in that stillness until PR beckons the therapist. I call this the cycle of attunement. It couldn’t be simpler for achieving therapeutic benefits and much deeper sense of resilience and self-regulation.

So then how do I feel at the end of the day after all of this exchange with clients? When I practice with PR I usually feel better or clearer at the end of the day. But I always take time at the end of the day to give it all up, first through prayer and meditation, which I do every evening as a gratitude for being given the opportunity to be with other people in this way. Secondly I like to pick weeds and work with my mango trees. Once my hands get into the earth whatever is left from the client drains immediately out of my mind and body. It is important for every therapist to find their own cleansing ritual at the end of the day or between clients. When I was doing tissue work for many years I always put my hands under ice-cold water after every session. Some people like to burn incense. Whatever works!

 

I am looking forward to a course I will be teaching titled:  An Introduction to Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy: A Training for Health Practitioners. This course will take place in New York City at the New York Open Center, February 1-3, 2016.  In this introductory course we will focus on applying craniosacral therapy skills to the cardiovascular system and learn new techniques to reduce systemic inflammation and reduce cortisol and stress levels.  I invite each of you to join me.  

Visit this link for details and registration:  http://www.opencenter.org/events/an-introduction-to-biodynamic-cardiovascular-therapy-a-training-for-health-practitioners/  I look forward to seeing you in the Big Apple.

Attunement, Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Biodynamic Terminology, Coherence, Coherent Breathing, Embodiment Practices, Interpersonal Neurobiology, Metabolic Syndrome, Mindfulness, Therapeutic Presence

What is Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy, Part 5

Question:  We can enhance the power of Primary respiration (PR) by synchronizing it with secondary respiration. How does this function? And does this connect with the discovery of Steven Porges that slow exhalation supports the parasympathetic nervous system as well as slowing down the heart rate?

Answer:  There are really two questions here. The first answer is to understand that secondary respiration or diaphragmatic breathing is in direct relationship with PR. One of the therapeutic evaluation tools in biodynamic practice is to determine whether or not the potency of PR has increased by the end of the session. This is not the potency referred to by teachers of the mid-tide model in biodynamic practice. The potency or amplitude of PR is an expression of Health in the osteopathic system. So in order to generate more potency of PR, it is vital that the practitioner be able to synchronize their primary and secondary respirations. Typically when PR changes phases to its expansion cycle, there will periodically be a spontaneous full inhalation with the respiratory diaphragm. This can be coordinated in a way that the practitioner can enhance the amplitude of PR by using his or her breath especially the inhalation cycle. This requires the ability to feel that relationship between the two breaths. It takes practice and can be used in clinical practice by the practitioner, which will reflect into the clients PR and potentially enhance it and thus create more health. The bigger issue with this type of synchronization is ignition taking place within the phase change and amplification process with secondary respiration, but that is another big story for later.

Regarding the second part of the question, Porges did his early work on what is called heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a measurement of the resilience of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) at the atrioventricular node (AV) in the right atrium of the heart. Every heart beat is different because of the constant metabolic changes in the body and the ANS must have the flexibility to adjust the heart beat accordingly or the heart can become overworked by staying the same. It turns out that breathing slowly especially at five cycles per minute can greatly enhance HRV and thus lower the heart rate if it is too high. This is called coherent breathing and there is very good research about it and its impact on not only slowing the heart but allowing the heart to open up to more subtle emotions like gratitude, equanimity, empathy, compassion and so forth.

That’s pretty good for six seconds of an inhale and six seconds of an exhale. The researchers recommend 5-20 minutes a day of coherent breathing. I find that I can do it more frequently lying in bed when I wake up in the morning or when I go to bed at night. I also practice it when I am a passenger in a car or in a plane. I have found it very beneficial in creating much more resilience in my ANS and consequently more of a felt sense of embodied wholeness. This is a practice I teach in class because it is also very subtle and coaching helps a lot.

 

I invite you to join me for a course I will be teaching titled:  An Introduction to Biodynamic Cardiovascular Therapy: A Training for Health Practitioners. This course will take place in New York City at the New York Open Center, February 1-3, 2016.  In this introductory course we will focus on applying craniosacral therapy skills to the cardiovascular system and learn new techniques to reduce systemic inflammation and reduce cortisol and stress levels.

Visit this link for details and registration:  http://www.opencenter.org/events/an-introduction-to-biodynamic-cardiovascular-therapy-a-training-for-health-practitioners/  I look forward to seeing you in the Big Apple.