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How bodywork helps us heal
Black bean and almond soup recipe
Resources for more on the body-mind connection
Simple breathing meditation
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Clear Your Emotional Clutter!

In the fields of neurobiology and psychophysiology, there is new research to explain the workings of the homeostasis (equilibrium) of our organism. It has been shown that connection of the body, mind and emotions is enhanced by increasing body awareness. Peter Levine, the developer of Somatic Experiencing and author of “In An Unspoken Voice - How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness” refers to body awareness as our "felt sense”. Alan Fogel, professor of psychology at the University of Utah, and Rosen Method Practitioner, refers to "embodied self awareness" as an awareness of specific emotion-feeling states and an awareness of self in the act of feeling those states.
 

With the amount of external stimulation we are exposed to, and the speed at which information travels, slowing down enough to feel in the moment can be challenging. Difficult experiences, accidents, and trauma easily overwhelm the senses and shut down access to feeling as the sympathetic nervous system goes into survival mode. Muscles tighten to prepare for fight or flight and cortisol increases. Feelings and expression are thwarted. During these times, our ability to soothe and regulate (function of our parasympathetic nervous system) is off-line. If this response becomes habitual, neuromotor pathways develop that reinforce the suppression and patterns of behavior form that impede our natural flow and dampen our aliveness. Feeling heavy, depressed, anxious and congested are examples of resulting states.
 
Bodywork helps us reconnect with feeling and emotion, and increases feelings of strength, balance and well-being. Healing physiological changes occur with bodywork such as lowered cortisol levels, resulting in decreased stress and pain. Endorphins increase, lessening anxiety and improving mood. Breath deepens, improving circulation, immunity, and endocrine response. Research shows that receiving sensitive, gentle touch, increases oxytocin, referred to as the "bonding hormone", and helps us build trust and bond with others. Gaining greater access to feeling through the body helps us feel more connected.

Practices, such as bodywork, helps you regulate your system to stay clear of emotional clutter and its' resulting congestion. Slowing down, relaxing, listening to your body, and releasing held energy that is no longer useful, creates space for your body to do what it does best - maintain balance and good health. Your movements can then be made from a conscious and connected place. So, remember to include your "main house", your body, in your spring cleaning schedule!

Simple Breathing Meditation

Sit in a comfortable position, either on a cushion on the floor, or in a chair.  Make sure your back is relatively erect and the room is free of distractions. You can also do this in a quiet outdoor location.

 

Focus your awareness on the sensation of the breath as it moves across the skin just below the nostrils and above the upper lip. Don’t change how you breathe. Just observe your natural breath, where it seems free and relaxed and where it feels held and constrained.

 

If your attention drifts, thank yourself for noticing and bring yourself back to your breath and how it feels on your skin.  Notice which parts of your body move as you breathe. Can you feel the breath move your belly? Your chest?  Your shoulders?

 

As you feel the air moving in and out of your body, notice how that connects you with other organisms that also breathe. 

Black Bean and Almond Soup (Delicious and nutritious!)

Makes 5 cups; Serves 4
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped red onion (from one large onion)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1 rounded tablespoon)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken both
½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted, plus more for serving
Sliced avocado, for serving
Plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream, for serving.
 
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add 1 ½ cups onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and broth; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer until beans are heated through and creamy, about 10 minutes; let cool 10 minutes.
 
Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender and add some cilantro and almonds.  Pulse until beans are coarsely chopped but not pureed (do not over process).   Season with salt and pepper and rewarm in pot.  Divide soup among 4 bowls and serve with remaining ½ cup onion, cilantro, almonds, avocado, and yogurt.  Soup can be made 3 days ahead and stored in refrigerator.

If you are interested in reading more on the subjects of neurobiology and psychophysiology, here are some great reads:

 
THE  PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY OF SELF-AWARENESS
REDISCOVERING THE LOST ART OF BODY SENSE

ALAN FOGEL
 
IN AN UNSPOKEN VOICE-
HOW THE BODY RELEASES TRAUMA AND RESTORES GOODNESS

PETER A. LEVINE, PHD
 
THE MINDFUL BRAIN    
REFLECTION AND ATTUNEMENT IN THE CULTIVATION OF WELL-BEING

DANIEL J. SIEGEL
 
Restorative embodied self-awareness as a pathway to well-being. Article by Alan Fogel:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/body-sense


YOU TUBE VIDEO OF JOHN KABAT-ZINN, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, “COMING TO OUR SENSES”  Approximately 1 hour long.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvXFxi2ZXT0
 

 

Daniel Siegel from article on iThou.org, "Mindfulness, Psychotherapy and the Brain"
 
"As two individuals share the closely resonant reverberating interactions that their mirror neuron systems make possible, what before may have been unbearable states of affective and bodily activation within the patient may now become tolerable with conscious awareness. Being empathic with patients may be more than just something that helps them "feel better"- it may create a new state of neural activation with a coherence in the moment that improves the capacity for self-regulation."
 
Copyright © 2014 Resonant Touch Bodywork, All rights reserved.


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