If you also have a resource you would like to share, please add it to the comments below.
One of the eye opening resources I saw as part of my learning was a movie called 13th, which is on netflix, however the full feature film is also on Youtube and can be viewed there for free. It is very thorough and mind blowing.
If you also have a resource you would like to share, please add it to the comments below.
The more you know and notice, the more power you have.
I know I have been quiet for several months.
I have started countless posts to you, but every time I was near sending it, something else happened on the world stage that made me need to go inside to find my feelings, my bearings, and my words.
I don't want to rehash all the horrible events that have come to play in such rapid succession against the backdrop of something that was(and continues to be) equally difficult.
All I can say is that as as horrendous as these events are and have been, there is something about this time in our world history, with our technological connectivity, the number of people being home and not working, and being in such uncertainty about almost every aspect of our lives, where it feels like our hand is being forced to make a permanent, lasting and sustainable change.
In my opinion, there really is no "fixing of the system" that is possible here.
They system was built on unstable ground and the whole thing needs to be reimagined and rebuilt from the ground up. But just as these systems took time to build, it is going to take a lot of energy, focus and time to overhaul and rebuild.
I can only pray that this is all divinely orchestrated and that it's all leading to actual change, BUT ONLY IF WE KEEP AT IT.
So knowing what I know about the brain, and knowing the goodness of the hearts and minds of the people who are reading this, I wanted to make this newsletter as useful as possible in moving forward and keeping at it.
What we are all seeing coming up to the surface right now in our nation, is our beliefs. All of them that run the whole gamut. I say ours, only because even if some of them are not my own personal beliefs, it is a part of my nations beliefs and if we are to operate as a unified nation, those beliefs need to be acknowledged honestly without defensiveness if there is any possibility of dismantling and reconciliation.
This is a very uncomfortable place to be, where we are looking at a lot of things we do not like. It's very difficult in this place to not to want to separate from these uncomfortable spots and get into the "us vs them" dichotomy. That feeling of separation is a sign of a stressed brain, and a brain in that state does not have access to any kind of meaningful solution.
I just want to take a short detour just to say that social media and the media in general these days, is set up in a very "us vs. them" way. "We people who believe X would never do what those people Y do." Each side has their agenda and it's all about getting the most clicks and likes.
Conflict is very neurologically engaging to watch because it triggers our amygdala and reptilian brain. It makes us feel "GLUED" to the TV and "UNABLE TO TAKE YOUR EYES OFF" of the issue because the brain is trying to manage the danger it feels.
If at all possible, please stay informed as you need, but limit the time watching all the people giving their opinion on what is right and wrong. There is a component of media that is just intent on getting clicks and likes to make money and sometimes this is done by sensationalizing certain aspects of reality.
This is a time when reality itself is sensational enough. Just recounting the facts these days feels unbelievable. Therefore, this is not a time to participating in divisiveness no matter how right or justified you feel you are, because if you are in that dynamic at all, it's still part of the problem. This is a time of learning, introspection, reading, writing, and connecting with other people(safely), and taking actions towards trying to find the common ground in our humanity.
So back to the brain.
When it comes to helping us move forward in this world at this time, the buzzword out there in neuroscience circles seems to be about understanding our "unconscious biases".
I heard one neuroscientist call unconscious biases "snap judgements"-that the brain quickly comes up with a explanation or category to describe or judge something so it can understand it and move on. Some unconscious biases are useful so that you are not needing to recategorize and figure everything out each time, while others, because they are unconscious, can get in the way of us changing and being able to grow into new possibilities.
Just imagine your conscious vision as the windshield of a car. When there are a lot of unconscious biases, it is like mud that is covering the windshield and blocking your full, clear, conscious vision. Because it's unconscious, the mud is invisible to you, and therefore you can't do anything about it. You just get in the car and drive, finding yourself in frequent accidents or at least feeling very, very stressed while driving but not knowing why.
The value of looking at unconscious biases is that once something unconscious becomes conscious, you can make an informed choice about it, rather than just react reflexively. It allows you to know exactly where you are on the map and why, and then also know clearly where to go next.
The thing about unconscious biases that is confusing is that it is so closely tied into the emotional part of the brain that it can frequently be mistaken with "instinct" or "intuition".
"I just didn't like that person" or "It just felt like the right thing to do" can be unconscious bias and not intuition or instinct. It takes some time and focus to tease this out.
The challenge here is that the brain, by nature, hates change.
It is loss averse, and status quo oriented.
It would rather hold onto and defend the thing that is known that is not working, because it's familiar, rather than go into the unfamiliar.
Even if the new thing has the potential to be better.
(And in this case, it can be a whole lot better.)
I can see, in the reactions that some people are having to the protests and all of the changes that are taking place, that they are stuck in their amygdala, as well as their survival based reptilian brain, feeling the need to exert control over their 'territory", or reducing these events to "needing to protect my stuff", reverting to stereotypes, or making sweeping generalizations about a whole group of people and getting into an "us vs them" dynamic.
When a person is in this state, access to the frontal lobe or prefrontal cortex of their brain is literally not available. You cannot reason with people in this state. Let me repeat that,
"YOU CANNOT REASON WITH PEOPLE IN THIS STATE".
Imagine a scene from Charlie Brown where the teacher is speaking but the words are not clear.
If you are attempting to reason with someone in this state, YOU are the teacher.
Any attempts to reason can make the situation worse because it will cause the lizard brain of the person dig their heels in deeper and defend harder.
Blame, fear, and shame, are also tactics that lock a person right back in their lizard brain.
Have you had the experience of speaking with someone about recent events, where you or the other person is overcome with emotion or exasperation or some other impasse where all you can seem to agree on is to disagree and not talk about it ever again? Worse yet, you lose some aspect of the relationship that you had because you cannot believe someone would believe something as ridiculous as that belief you are opposed to.
If this scenario is coming up between family, friends and loved ones, where there is actually a desire to connect and understand each other, imagine what is ahead of us when there are opposing parties, not only with unconscious biases, but sometimes VERY conscious biases that they would like to hold on to.
We have our work cut out for us.
How do we build resilience in this situation?
How do we set up the greatest possibility for progress and change?
First is to begin to dig into and understand our own unconscious biases, and understanding better what triggers them.
The next step is to take the new understanding into new situations. This means being willing to be in the unfamiliar, not-knowing place to have those potentially uncomfortable interactions, conversations.
I think what may be helpful here is to reframe the discomfort in a different light. What if the discomfort could be viewed as growing pains? What if we could see the discomfort as bringing us more freedom from being boxed in by your own ideas about other people and other people's ideas about you?
By examining our biases and beliefs, we can get ourselves into the greatest level of neutrality and curiosity about the other person, and draw out from them a greater understanding.
The more we do this intentionally, the harder it is to have our "buttons pushed", reflexively go into reactions and lose our cool. This grounded-ness is not to be emotionless. Rather, its embodying our beliefs and emotions in an integrated way.
This will not be easy. But there is no turning back at this juncture. It may be idealistic, but with patience and continued pressure and persistence, I think(and hope and pray) that something better is possible for all of us.
With the greatest respect and intention for a better tomorrow for all of us,
This morning I signed on to my telesession with a child, and I was greeted by a giant stuffed tiger.
Then my student poked his head out from behind.
I asked him, "Who is this tiger?" and he said, in all seriousness,
"He is my emotional support animal".
It has been so much fun to sign on to sessions and meet these objects of love and comfort, like the distinguished Mr. Tygee.
I have also immensely enjoyed sessions and exercises classes recently where pets have photobombed the screen, sticking their face in the camera, or in the case of the kitty above, their caboose.
It's so sweet to see these parts of people's lives we don't always get to see.
I myself have a whole couch full of stuffies for my kiddo clients, but for me personally, I like to have a little crystal or a rock I like to hold in my hand. For me, there is something so calming about holding a piece of earth that has gone through extreme heat conditions to end up as a clear piece of beauty like quartz, which is my favorite kind of crystal.
What brings you emotional support these days?
If you're feeling open to it, please post below!
One of the questions asked most frequently about brain gym is what to do, how many sessions it takes, and how often you need to do a balancing session for the changes to last.
As with any kind of work that involves working with individuals of differing skill levels, ages, challenges, innate abilities, and support systems(to mention only a few), there is no one umbrella answer or prescription to cover all possibilities.
In the case of this high school student who made a pretty significant pencil grip transformation the month previously, there was a one month gap between his last session and the day when I took this video. Over the course of the month, he had AP exams, school field trips, absences, and final exams which made it so that I could not see him for his regular weekly sessions in his school.
So approximately one month after I had worked with him, I saw him and we did some brain gym and I had him write again, and his handwriting grip had actually improved without any additional support.
The basic foundational skills in his hands were improved, therefore when he was using his hands for his daily life tasks such as typing on his computer, dressing himself, eating, playing basketball, the new patterns were getting reinforced and strengthened.
As you can see in the video below, his hands have increased in ease and his non dominant hand has relaxed and become more supportive without working harder.
It does not always happen like this in every case, however these kinds of results happen more often than not. When you break down the activity you're trying to master whether it be pencil grip or learning a new language, down into its component parts and assess and work on the skills that that activity entails, dramatic changes can happen in a short time.
I have been working with a high school student since January who has many sensorimotor challenges which lead to difficulty with organization, completing work on time, focus, and energy level regulation.
He also had a pretty terrible pencil grip.
He hated writing and could not do it for long because he got tired.
At his age (a sophomore) the likelihood of changing his grasp is pretty slim.
Mostly because he is pretty proficient on his laptop, and does the bare minimum of writing and is getting by. Sometimes even when something is terrible, if you can get by, there is no inner motivation to work on it.
So for the time being I worked a lot on his other challenges rather than work on his grasp.
I worked on his posture, his endurance, his organization, his reading comprehension, ability to prioritize work and study. I also worked on handwriting speed(despite the grasp) and it did improve.
Many of his challenges have decreased so it felt like it was the time to work on his grasp and he was actually game to do it because he hadn't thought of another goal.
I lead him through a bunch of grasp pattern exercises, opposition exercises and did some reflex checks for palmer grasp reflex and babkin reflex. Then I had him do a writing sample for me, and then took him through a brain gym balance process with some additional movements, all of which took about 20 minutes.
Then after we were done we did the same exercises as we did before and I could see that it was different.
I told him how to separate the two sides of his hands and rest the pinky side of his hand down on the paper for support, and then I just had him write.
When he started writing again that BOTH OF US were shocked!
He was looking at his own hand like he couldn't believe what he was seeing or feeling.
I asked him how it felt and he said, ".......better.......than.....it's ever felt.......when I have tried it in the past".
The invisible thought bubble over his head actually read, "WTF?!?!?!"
I asked him if he would practice this normal regular grip during the week between our sessions. Still looking at his hand, he said, "yeah....probably"--which is teenager speak for "yes totally!" The brain and body is so amazing in its capacity to learn and re-learn!
Much like the buds that are breaking through the surface of the soil to reach for the sun, this is the time of year when I see the culmination of regular, consistent work in many of my clients.
One of my kindergarten kids made a very clear shift in his baseline brain functioning last week.
I have been seeing him twice a week for 45 minutes in his school since January.
When he was an infant he had an illness that severely affected his absorption of nutrients and he was sick and malnourished for many years. The parents and doctors finally figured out what was wrong and was able to help him get better but unfortunately it affected his brain development.
He is absolutely adorable, but he unsettled and in constant motion and talking all the time in a random, garbled, and disorganized way.
His mom said that one of the old school teachers from the country where they came from called him "eccentric".
He was totally marching to a different drummer, but that drummer, rather than keeping a constant beat, was always changing it before he could sink into that new rhythm.
He couldn't write or consistently recognize any letters and didn't really like writing at all. He could not write his name and would lose his place when counting to 10. He was clumsy in his movement and couldn't figure out how to cross the middle of his body, and naturally had a lot of difficulty learning to run, ride a bike, throw and catch a ball.
He also frequently drifted away into his thoughts or imagination, and when you talked to him, you had to repeat it a minimum of 3-4 times with some sort of tactile cue.
I often felt like he was a kite and I was reeling him in back to earth.
I had been doing tons of brain gym movements, balances, as well as reflex integration with him, and he was definitely changing but still very disorganized and all over the place.
On most days, by the end of the session, the racing thoughts would relax and he would start yawning.
Yawning is one of the signs that the nervous system is relaxing and this relaxed state is when new and organized learning can happen.
He felt better to me, but sometimes I wondered if I was changing some essential part of him that made him uniquely him.
We had been working on this handwriting program called handwriting without tears, which are many different parts and multisensory ways to learn and write the letters.
I started most sessions with an assisted brain warm up, additional movements, and once he was more organized, set up the handwriting program and go through the different sensory practice pieces in the same consistent order.
In the last few sessions, he had been saying, "I want to do it by myself" and I had been letting him.
The day I noticed the breakthrough was when we were working on the letter V, and he went through almost the whole process of set up and clean up by himself.
I also noticed that when asked him about his week, he gave me an answer that made sense. He was still the excited and curious boy that he has always been, AND his brain felt calm, organized, alert, and happy.
We went back to his class, I showed his whole kindergarten class how to do some of the exercises and he was right next to me, proudly demonstrating the movements for all his friends.
I often think about my kids in the future. I imagine how some of the behaviors I see would impact real life adult situations if they did not change.
Random thoughts, disorganized thinking and and garbled speaking in a 5 year old is kind of cute and endearing, but on the first day of a college school year, a job interview or a first date it could be a source of ridicule or rejection from peers, bosses, potential life partners and pain for this "one-day-will-be-older -but-right-now-tender-little-being".
I guess there really is no need to worry because my personal experience with brain gym has been that doing it and calming my brain and changing my compensations and survival patterns actually make me feel more like my true self.
I remember years back, sitting in the front row of a class with the founder of brain gym, Paul Dennison, and he said something softly, almost under his breath, which I think only a few of us heard.
"We are teaching kids to live lives they haven't lived yet."
That thought sticks with me to this day.
And if I had any part in helping this child to have good relationships, good coping skills, independence, self-reliance stemming from an organized brain, then I am happy.
In a brain integration session, there is always a goal/intention that is set.
It is usually stated in the present positive, as if it is already happening because the language the brain responds to is in the present.
When you say, "I hope....", "I want...", "I'm going to..." that language automatically puts whatever you are working towards in the future, where you'll get to it "someday" but there's nothing to do right now.
The brain and body stays in idle and doesn't kick into action.
Let's take the example of making money.
"I will make more money" has a distinctly different feel than "I am making plenty of money doing what I love".
The second one creates this sense of discomfort, almost like you're lying and creates the energy in you to close the gap.
Try this out for yourself.
Say out loud, "I hope" and notice how that settles in your body.
Then say, "I am" and notice the difference.
One feels more active and the other more passive.
The language of Victory is NOW.
Half of creating change is mindset.
As Einstein has been credited in saying,
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result".
Victory begins with making the decision that whatever has been lingering and creating stress has no place in your life anymore.
Then begins the process of practicing acting differently.
The word resolution, when you break it down, is "re-solution".
Once you have decided you are Victorious over your challenge, it is time to go about finding re-solutions to the things that cause you pain and consistently practicing that.
I am so thankful for Brain Gym and Brain Integration for helping me and so many people become Victorious in so many areas.
I am looking forward to aiding your Victory this coming year!
This is the year that I am Victorious over my stress
This is the year that I am Victorious over my relationships
This is the year that I am Victorious over my addictions
This is the year that I am Victorious over my weight
This is the year that I am Victorious over my purpose
This is the year that I am Victorious over my money
This is the year that I am Victorious over my social anxiety
This is the year that I am Victorious over my dating life
This is the year that I am Victorious over my fear.
What are you Victorious over this year?
Share your Victory in the comments below!
It's that time of year, where you review what happened and think about what you would like to welcome in the new year.Regardless of who you are, this year was a tumultuous year on many fronts; politically, economically, racially, gender equality-wise. Even if you were personally not impacted,
I am sure that your family members, friends, and other people in your personal spheres were impacted by these things.
As human beings possessing a limbic brain(the part of the brain responsible for emotional intelligence and empathy) we are impacted by the emotions and well being of those around us.
The goal is not to isolate and feel less, but find ways to maintain our emotional center and have a great set of tools in our toolbox to come back to center when life happens.
One of my teachers has a phrase I love,
"Unconditional freedom is freedom in all conditions"---which I take to mean, that freedom is a mindset and I am in charge of it. It is up to me to free my emotional state from being impacted by what is going on around me.
It is not to be numb, but to feel more, but be anchored in who we are in what we believe in.
Taking charge of my nervous system, and having a close network of friends and loved ones helps me to keep coming back to center.
What I wish for you, at the end of the year and moving forward, is freedom from worry, stress, and the power to come back to your center. Who you are meant to be when you are not just managing or dealing with life.
I wish you all the best holiday season of your making.
I look forward to being able to share more with you in the new year.
The journey of alleviating or curing chronic pain continued....
I knew a woman in one of my dance classes, who danced beautifully, and woke up one day with debilitating pain in her hips. She kept coming to class, but after the warm up, would sit out and watch because the pain was so great. She was in her early 40's and had had no injury or concrete reason for her pain to begin. She had been to physical therapy and acupuncture treatment to no avail. She told me in class that she was going to stop dancing until she could figure out what was happening or the pain went away.
I don't usually speak to people in my social circles about work, but I really felt that her pain was not physically based and that my work could help her. She was such a beautiful dancer and I saw that dancing did so much for her spirit, I didn't want her to be stopped by pain that could possibly be alleviated relatively easily.
I spoke to her and asked her to contact me if she still had pain after all her scheduled acupuncture appointments were done.
She called me a week or so later and agreed to try three sessions with me.
As we delved into her pain, it was reveals that it was being caused by unprocessed emotional pain and anger. Over the three sessions, she had complete resolution of all her hip pain. There was work done between the session such as writing exercises and specific integrating exercises that were found to be effective for her brain/body system.
Now that her pain is resolved, the writing exercises she did during the treatment time and the movements she learned are now tools in her toolbox if she ever has anger or resentment come up in her life. But she is happy to report that she has had no recurrence of the pain since.
This supposition that there is sometimes an emotional component to pain, is not original to me and my thought process. There are countless books by different MD’s such as Dr. Sarno and his book, “Healing Back Pain” and Dr. Daniel Seigel “Healing Power of Emotion” which talk about the connection between our emotions and our bodies. It is also mirrored in the many sessions I have done with people over the years to help address their pain, as well as my own exploration of chronic pain.
My experience with working with people with chronic pain conditions, such as back pain, jaw pain, foot/leg pain, headaches, is that there is some combination of unprocessed emotions along with some form of unintegrated reflexes in the body and miscommunication or poor communication between body systems such as vision and/or vestibular system challenge.
In my training in craniosacral therapy, my teacher had a saying, "The tissues hold the issues".
When another student in class asked how that was possible, she responded, "VHS tapes are pieces of plastic with magnetic particles on them which can hold visual and auditory information. If something as simple as tape and magnetic particles can hold that much information it is not too farfetched that human cells and tissues, which are infinitely more complex than that, can hold much more detailed and complex information.”
Are you suffering with chronic pain that is draining the energy out of your life? Have you tried many things to help your pain to no avail? Life is too short to suffer in pain needlessly.
Contact me today for a free consultation call or to set up an appointment.
What are your favorite books on emotions, the body, and healing pain? Please contact me and share them with me!
Changing the brain is the new frontier to changing your life. I am not only the practitioner but also a continual client. My own brain as well as those who entrust me with their brains, never ceases to amaze me in its capacity to change, re-learn, and create!