Can neurofeedback be a “Nudge” to a Stuck Nervous System Due to Early Life Stress?

Growing up in a single-mother household created a lot of stress and fear that stayed with me even as an adult.  Such a household dynamic brings a greater risk of poverty, which creates challenges in securing a safe place to live and putting food on the table on a consistent basis.  Fear in childhood from stressful experiences can change the trajectory of a person’s health over the entire life span if not addressed, specifically an elevated vulnerability to addiction in all of its forms.  Now, with the advent of the pandemic, we might need to add this to the long list of stressors that children struggle to adapt to as it might be years before the impact and lingering effects of the fear and isolation it has caused to be fully understood.  Is it possible that neurofeedback might be able to “nudge” the fearful nervous system back in the direction of health?

What we have learned about adverse childhood experiences and the traumatizing effects of such, is that talking about it may not be enough to move through the fear and calm the emotional centers of the brain.  More is needed and not everyone is willing to tolerate the side-effects of prescription medication, such as suicidal thoughts.  Therefore, research into alternative and complementary non-invasive, non-medication treatments, such as yoga and neurofeedback, has increased over the past couple of decades, with very promising results.

A recent review focused on neurofeedback to determine if it might help move the autonomic nervous system away from fear toward homeostatic equilibrium in people who experienced early life stress.  The researchers conclude that neurofeedback can increase the efficacy of other training protocols and more traditional talk therapy techniques.

Hybrid (On-site/In-person and Online/Virtual) Reiki-infused Sound Healing and Meditation Class!

On-site/In-person Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that, during this transitional time, some of us are more ready than others to slowly re-enter into the experience of small social gatherings.  For this reason, we have created a hybrid service model, where a small number of (no more than 4) participants will be able to join us in-person.   If you are interested in this option, let us know and we will provide further guidance, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment (to ensure your spot is saved)
  • Masks will be required before and after the class
  • Bring your own props (e.g., mats, blankets, pillows, bolsters, eye pillows, intention cards, etc.)
  • Come at least 15 minutes early to settle in and allow physical distancing while doing so (doors will open at 6:30 pm)

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

For those that would prefer to stay in the comfort of home – whether due to physical distance, family participation and/or even the enhanced sense of privacy – we will continue to provide the option to connect with us through Zoom.

Once you let us know that you are interested in attending, we will send you an email that will include details around what is needed from you, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment
  • Checking your email for the Zoom link to join the class
  • A few minutes before the class, simply clicking the link within the email to be sent straight to our meeting room

To facilitate the benefits of such a virtual community practice at home, below we have provided some helpful hints:

  • Set up your mats at least 3 giant steps from your device.
  • Elevate your device 21-24″ from the floor and have it tilted forward slightly.
  • Have your props nearby.
  • Although not required, having a headset or ear buds to listen when the singing bowls are playing may enhance your listening pleasure.
  • Please know you will not need to have your audio/video camera on during the practice.  If you would prefer to reduce the number of distractions or increase the sense of privacy, we invite you to turn off your audio and video once the class starts.

Restorative Yoga Tips and Props

On the day of the class, here are some additional recommendations to create a more sacred space in advance for your practice:

  • Make sure you’ll be in a space where there won’t be any background noises, distractions or interruptions.
  • Adjusting the lighting in the room to your liking, perhaps turning off any overhead lighting and minimizing outdoor light and instead turning on a room lamp or lighting your favorite candle(s).
  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing including socks.
  • If available, bringing your favorite deck of intention cards and essential oil to your mat.
  • Placing your props (see below) to the side of your mat so they are within an easy reach during the class.

 In home prop ideas:

  • Bolster:  couch cushions or a tightly rolled comforter, towel, or blanket (can be secured with 2 ties, scarfs or belts)
  • Pillows:  couch, chair or bed pillows will do
  • Blankets:  your favorite blanket to cover yourself and either 2 additional blankets or bath or beach towels (no sheets)
  • Yoga blocks: books, either paper back or hard cover, stacked
  • Eye pillow:  hand towel, tie or scarf

Can focusing on emotions when talking with your therapist improve symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder (BED)?

Binge-eating disorder, although not formally recognized until added to the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), is the most common eating disorder in the United States.   Having experienced the suffering from this diagnosis myself in the past, I used to refer to it as an emotional eating disorder.  Simply put, I used food to soothe and comfort myself.  I had not learned any healthy coping strategies when I experienced emotions, so I did my best to stuff them down with food.  It wasn’t until I took the journey of befriending my emotions and honoring their intelligence that I even became aware of my unhealthy relationship with food and eating behaviors.

Once I was able to accept my emotional beingness as a human, so many more things began to make more sense to me.  With the support of a good therapist, I came to learn that what I had experienced as a child was traumatizing and I disconnected from my emotions to survive.  However, living life from only the logical intelligence perspective was so limited.  And, even though I disconnected – or dissociated – from my emotions, it didn’t mean they went away.  They wanted to come out and be heard, so they knocked on the door loudly, sometimes bursting in when I least expected or wanted them.  So I used food to try to quiet them down, like you feed a baby when they are crying.

When I learned how to recognize my emotions and allowed them to have some air time, I was able to engage in a dialogue with them so they could inform me what I needed in the moment.  I then needed to learn how to give myself what I needed.  My personal journey towards valuing my superpower – my emotional intelligence – is the reason that my psychotherapy services include emotion-focused therapy (EFT).  Prior to EFT being researched to the point of becoming an evidenced-based practice, most research and treatment for BED aligned with cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs).  Unfortunately, these approaches could not address efficacy, failure to abstain from such unhealthy eating, and high drop-out rates from treatment, because powerful emotions are among the most accurate predictors of BED.

This realization led researchers to consider exploring other psychological treatments with a focus on emotions.  A recent research study looked at EFT as an alternative treatment approach for BED other than CBT.  The results validate my own personal journey.  The findings provided additional evidence that individual EFT might be beneficial in the treatment of BED, as it supports clients in processing uncomfortable emotions instead of relying on food as an emotional coping mechanism.

To read the full article, click the link below:

Might Yoga Help Prevent Teacher Burnout?

The pandemic caught most of us off guard and added significant stress to our lives, asking us at times to think out of the box to come up with creative ways to do what we did in the past differently.  In a flash, life went virtual!  Teachers, in particular, who, as a profession rank high amongst those helping professions that are predisposed to mental health challenges due to stress on the job, were asked to convert in-person curriculums to remote learning overnight.  Teachers were already at risk of burnout before the pandemic, with a significant percentage of teachers leaving the profession within the first 5 years.  The pandemic has simply added salt to an already open wound.

Past research has looked at the benefits of bringing yoga into the schools for the students.  This research has shown the positive effects on the developing minds of children, including but not limited to reducing stress and anxiety, improving memory and attention span, enhancing coping skills, and increasing self-confidence and self-esteem.  By building yoga into the students’ curriculum, it was accessible to everyone and was not designated as an optional, after-school activity.  By supporting students in this way, it certainly indirectly helps the teachers.  However, with such a high burnout rate in this profession, it is just as important to look at what might prevent such teacher burnout more directly.

More recent research is now looking at bringing yoga to the teachers at school.  One such recent quasi-experimental study looked at the connection between improving the mental and emotional well-being of teachers through a twice-a-week yoga class, including gentle meditation exercises, and a reduction in burnout.  Yoga, and is contemplative practices, was considered for this research because it is a discipline that has been shown to enhance body awareness and encourages equanimity in the mind.  The design of this research included concern for the need to adapt to the working environment, so that no particular setting would be required, making it easy to replicate.

The research was able to identify a significant, positive effect of yoga on the psycho-physical well-being and resilience response on the job of the teachers.  The program was short, only 8 weeks, and did not identify any risks.  The conclusion suggests that schools would benefit by offering yoga to the teachers to reduce burnout.

If you are interested in reading the full article, click the link below.  If you are a teacher or know a teacher, consider sharing this article with those that might benefit, including the principal of your school.

Free Informational Sessions on the Upcoming In-depth Yoga Study and 200-hour Basic Yoga Teacher Certification Training

Can direct neurofeedback provide hope to those experiencing post-stroke fatigue?

As a direct neurofeedback provider, I am continually amazed at the positive effects it has on people’s lives.  I am in awe of the human body’s natural ability to heal itself, especially when it is supported naturally.  I feel privileged to work directly in supporting the brain’s neuroplasticity and its innate ability to organize itself towards health.  I feel excited every day to learn how this treatment modality is being utilized to address so many different body-mind symptoms of disease, to improve quality of life and well-being.  A recent exploratory study took a look at a very common symptom post-stroke, fatigue.

According to the CDC, stroke:

  • Is a leading cause of serious long-term disability;
  • Reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over;
  • Impacts someone in the US every 40 seconds.

With such statistics, anything that we can do to support the brain-body recovery would be a significant development.  As someone who has a family history of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, I feel excited about the possibilities.

With fatigue being one of the most commonly reported symptoms after a stroke, the study looked at using transcranial direct current stimulation (aka direct neurofeedback) to support the activity of the brain on its road to recovery.  The study only included a single session of direct neurofeedback and the results indicated that such treatment may be a useful tool for managing post-stroke fatigue.  I can only imagine the results if more sessions were offered, but I guess we will have to wait for that study!

In the meantime, if you or someone you love is suffering from post-stroke symptoms, especially fatigue, consider reading this study (click below) and looking for a direct neurofeedback provider in their area.

Hybrid (On-site/In-person and Online/Virtual) Reiki-infused Sound Healing and Meditation Class!

On-site/In-person Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that, during this transitional time, some of us are more ready than others to slowly re-enter into the experience of small social gatherings.  For this reason, we have created a hybrid service model, where a small number of (no more than 4) participants will be able to join us in-person.   If you are interested in this option, let us know and we will provide further guidance, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment (to ensure your spot is saved)
  • Masks will be required before and after the class
  • Bring your own props (e.g., mats, blankets, pillows, bolsters, eye pillows, intention cards, etc.)
  • Come at least 15 minutes early to settle in and allow physical distancing while doing so (doors will open at 6:30 pm)

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

For those that would prefer to stay in the comfort of home – whether due to physical distance, family participation and/or even the enhanced sense of privacy – we will continue to provide the option to connect with us through Zoom.

Once you let us know that you are interested in attending, we will send you an email that will include details around what is needed from you, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment
  • Checking your email for the Zoom link to join the class
  • A few minutes before the class, simply clicking the link within the email to be sent straight to our meeting room

To facilitate the benefits of such a virtual community practice at home, below we have provided some helpful hints:

  • Set up your mats at least 3 giant steps from your device.
  • Elevate your device 21-24″ from the floor and have it tilted forward slightly.
  • Have your props nearby.
  • Although not required, having a headset or ear buds to listen when the singing bowls are playing may enhance your listening pleasure.
  • Please know you will not need to have your audio/video camera on during the practice.  If you would prefer to reduce the number of distractions or increase the sense of privacy, we invite you to turn off your audio and video once the class starts.

Restorative Yoga Tips and Props

On the day of the class, here are some additional recommendations to create a more sacred space in advance for your practice:

  • Make sure you’ll be in a space where there won’t be any background noises, distractions or interruptions.
  • Adjusting the lighting in the room to your liking, perhaps turning off any overhead lighting and minimizing outdoor light and instead turning on a room lamp or lighting your favorite candle(s).
  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing including socks.
  • If available, bringing your favorite deck of intention cards and essential oil to your mat.
  • Placing your props (see below) to the side of your mat so they are within an easy reach during the class.

 In home prop ideas:

  • Bolster:  couch cushions or a tightly rolled comforter, towel, or blanket (can be secured with 2 ties, scarfs or belts)
  • Pillows:  couch, chair or bed pillows will do
  • Blankets:  your favorite blanket to cover yourself and either 2 additional blankets or bath or beach towels (no sheets)
  • Yoga blocks: books, either paper back or hard cover, stacked
  • Eye pillow:  hand towel, tie or scarf

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support LGBTQ+ Communities

June is Pride Month!

This month we all have an opportunity to reflect on and perhaps learn more about the challenges endured by our LGBTQ+ communities and show our support.  To kick off this journey, perhaps start by reading the POTUS’ Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month, 2021.

According to the American Psychiatric Association‘s Mental Health Disparities data:

  • LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetime.
  • LGBTQ individuals are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with heterosexual individuals.
  • The rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and two times greater for questioning youth than that of heterosexual youth.
  • Transgender individuals who identify as African American/black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Multiracial/Mixed Race are at increased risk of suicide attempts than white transgender individuals.
How might we support these communities and more actively align with our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.?  Below are some intention-setting ideas for your consideration:
  1. Act as a Scholar.  Educating ourselves is always a good first step when venturing into spaces of diversity.  And when interested in engaging in conversations, it is vital to understand any unique terminology that might impact our ability to effectively communicate.  If you don’t know where to start, The Trevor Project created an online glossary to help us out with the rapidly expanding terminology.  Consider taking a look at this glossary and perhaps sharing the link with others.
  2. Take and even deeper dive.  Perhaps consider watching a documentary or series that presents queer history and current struggles to connect to the LGBTQ+ community.  Below are a few suggestions:
    • Before Stonewall
    • Stonewall Uprising
    • Pride Docuseries
    • Disclosure
    • Tongues Untied
  3. Display a Pride Flag It not just the rainbow anymore.  There are a multitude of flags that can be flown in support of the LGBTQ+ community.  Not familiar with them?  No worries, this USA Today article will bring you up to speed.  After reading the article, perhaps intentionally buying one of choice and putting it out to increase visibility and build the momentum of this movement.
  4. Join a Pride March.  Consider participating in a Pride March this month as an opportunity to show support, to observe, listen and be educated.  You can do a simple Internet search to find one in your local area.  Perhaps invite a friend or two to go along with you!
  5. Be a Confidant.  As an Ally, when someone from the LBGTQ+ trusts you enough to have the courage to share a part of their story with you, listen with the sole/soul intention to understand.  Be curious and ask questions when someone describes an experience you have not had.  Don’t follow up with your own story that you think might be similar to try to demonstrate your understanding.  Instead, simply believe their story and thank them for sharing it with you!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

Hybrid (On-site/In-person and Online/Virtual) Reiki-infused Sound Healing and Meditation Class!

On-site/In-person Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that, during this transitional time, some of us are more ready than others to slowly re-enter into the experience of small social gatherings.  For this reason, we have created a hybrid service model, where a small number of (no more than 4) participants will be able to join us in-person.   If you are interested in this option, let us know and we will provide further guidance, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment (to ensure your spot is saved)
  • Masks will be required before and after the class
  • Bring your own props (e.g., mats, blankets, pillows, bolsters, eye pillows, intention cards, etc.)
  • Come at least 15 minutes early to settle in and allow physical distancing while doing so (doors will open at 6:30 pm)

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

For those that would prefer to stay in the comfort of home – whether due to physical distance, family participation and/or even the enhanced sense of privacy – we will continue to provide the option to connect with us through Zoom.

Once you let us know that you are interested in attending, we will send you an email that will include details around what is needed from you, including:

  • Signed Releases/Waivers of Liability forms (one time, for new students only)
  • PayPal information to facilitate payment
  • Checking your email for the Zoom link to join the class
  • A few minutes before the class, simply clicking the link within the email to be sent straight to our meeting room

To facilitate the benefits of such a virtual community practice at home, below we have provided some helpful hints:

  • Set up your mats at least 3 giant steps from your device.
  • Elevate your device 21-24″ from the floor and have it tilted forward slightly.
  • Have your props nearby.
  • Although not required, having a headset or ear buds to listen when the singing bowls are playing may enhance your listening pleasure.
  • Please know you will not need to have your audio/video camera on during the practice.  If you would prefer to reduce the number of distractions or increase the sense of privacy, we invite you to turn off your audio and video once the class starts.

Restorative Yoga Tips and Props

On the day of the class, here are some additional recommendations to create a more sacred space in advance for your practice:

  • Make sure you’ll be in a space where there won’t be any background noises, distractions or interruptions.
  • Adjusting the lighting in the room to your liking, perhaps turning off any overhead lighting and minimizing outdoor light and instead turning on a room lamp or lighting your favorite candle(s).
  • Wear warm, comfortable clothing including socks.
  • If available, bringing your favorite deck of intention cards and essential oil to your mat.
  • Placing your props (see below) to the side of your mat so they are within an easy reach during the class.

 In home prop ideas:

  • Bolster:  couch cushions or a tightly rolled comforter, towel, or blanket (can be secured with 2 ties, scarfs or belts)
  • Pillows:  couch, chair or bed pillows will do
  • Blankets:  your favorite blanket to cover yourself and either 2 additional blankets or bath or beach towels (no sheets)
  • Yoga blocks: books, either paper back or hard cover, stacked
  • Eye pillow:  hand towel, tie or scarf

Can practicing self-compassion reduce shame?

I describe shame as that toxic, black mold that grows in dark, damp places that can make you sick when you don’t even know it is there.  In order to get healthy, first we must become aware of the mold’s existence and then we need to invite air and light into the space, because mold can’t survive in the light.  It is the same with shame.  Shame on the surface functions as an internal regulator to discourage us from violating moral and social norms.  However, when small seeds of shame are planted, especially when we are children, it grows just like toxic mold, creating a very unhealthy internal state of being.  From these toxic seeds of shame grow weeds, such as feelings of ‘less than’ and thoughts of ‘not being good enough’.   What if there was a simple internal cleaning solution that could eliminate that toxic shame?  Well, research on self-compassion is becoming the light that is needed to kill off those weeds at their very roots!

When I was little I had a lot of things happening to me that brought shame, including my parents getting divorced and being poor due to being raised by a single mother.  With no money to spare, we found ourselves pulling things out of the Good Will bins, instead of putting things into them, so often our clothes did not fit right (I remember high-water pants before they were a fashion item).  In such a vulnerable place, my mom was taken advantage of by men and I witnessed domestic violence.  These types of circumstances were out of my control, but that didn’t stop the seeds of mold from taking hold and sprouting nasty weeks.  And those weeds, always present, drove my behaviors for many years.

Finally, when my body began to show signs of disease, I realized I needed to change something.  With the help of a good therapist, I was able to gain insight into how traumatizing those events were to a child and how the shame guided my behavioral responses, such as trying to be perfect all of the time and taking responsibility for ‘out-of-scope’ tasks and events.  Add my people-pleasing part and I had the trifecta for anxiety, exhaustion, depression and many other symptoms of trauma.

When I was able to offer myself the same compassion I would offer others that were experiencing some sort of suffering, I began to feel a sense of relief.  My thoughts changed from ‘What is wrong with you’ to ‘What happened to you’.  And I was finally able to move into a space of understanding, opening the door to choice when it came to how I wanted to act in this world.  Offering myself compassion by shining light on the toxic mold of shame opened the door to true peace of mind.  Cultivating compassion has been shown to reduce the negative chemicals (e.g., cortisol, etc.) and increase the positive ones (e.g., oxytocin, etc.) in the brain.  And with this data, new models of therapy are emerging within the field of trauma-informed care.  One of the most recent and promising ones, Somatic Self-Compassion® training is a trauma-informed self-compassion training that was designed to combine interoception (how we feel on the inside) and sensory modulation (adaptive responses to external changes) in order to teach individuals more effective coping with current and past stress.

One of the most recent feasibility research studies utilizing Somatic Self-Compassion® included shame as a variable to better understand how stress, shame and self-compassion might be related.  What this study showed was that combining trauma-informed care with the increased focus on somatic/body intelligence (i.e., interoception and sensory modulation) reduces shame, including body shame and that such training would be a good fit for trauma survivors.

To read the full study, click on the link below: