5 Intention-setting Ideas to Honor the New Normal

National Mental Health Month

The COVID-19 virus has taken a lot away from how we experienced the world in the past, so there is much to grieve.  And grief is heavy.  It can make us feel like we are walking in quicksand or moving through molasses.  Our thoughts lost in a thick fog.  It takes time to navigate all the emotions that present themselves and sort through the thoughts that grow from the uncertainty.

So to help us all move through the collective conscious grief the world is currently experiencing, I thought it was important to honor National Mental Health Month by looking for the silver linings Mother Earth is calling on us to see at this time.  After destruction, comes construction.  After the rain, comes the sun and rainbow.  After the dark night, comes the light of day.

So, take a moment to consider the following intention-setting ideas being offered to us by Mother Earth to honor the silver linings that may define our new normal moving forward:

  1. Better public health hygiene.  Consider the benefits of the international attention given to the proper way to wash your hands.  This ongoing world campaign has raised the collective consciousness to a new level.  Back in 2008, October 15th was designated Global Handwashing Day to raise awareness that washing our hands with soap is a key factor in disease prevention, specifically to reduce respiratory and intestinal diseases by 25-50%.  With the heightened level of fear currently, perhaps we are taking this advice more seriously and will continue the practice of frequent, proper hand washing or using the hand sanitizers that are being installed in more public spaces.
  2. Healthier greeting rituals.  Do you know the history of the handshake as a greeting?  Perhaps take a moment to do a little research on it.  From there, consider how you might want to begin your own ritual for greeting someone you meet for the first time without physical contact to reduce the spreading of germs.  I personally always struggled with hand shaking, especially when I had to be taught how to do it right!  I much prefer to use Namaste, the age-old traditional greeting in India.  Namaste simply invites the palms together at the heart center with the thumbs close to or touching your heart center (aka Anjali mudra) as you tilt your head forward and say ‘Namaste’.  Perhaps you might prefer the traditional Japanese greeting of bowing.  Either option will allow us to maintain the physical distance recommended while also demonstrating through our body language that we honor the connection to others.
  3. Respecting Mother Earth.  Someone shared something with me recently that moved me deeply.  I was reminded that the trees are the earth’s lungs, as they inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen (aka photosynthesis) for us to breathe.  With the increased worldwide number and severity of fires we experienced last year, we burned Mother Earth’s lungs.  So is it really so surprising that she would push back with a respiratory disease that brings us high fevers and shortness of breath?  She is crying out for our collective attention and respect.  And when we could not figure out ourselves how to work together to reduce climate change, she created a situation that no country could ignore and forced our hands to join forces.  With the drastic reduction in cars on the roads, airplanes in the sky, and boats on the water, look how she is rewarding us with cleaner air and clearer water.  And, although these observations will be temporary, might they be drastic enough to support major infrastructure and/or societal changes to support Mother Earth’s intention to help us thrive?  Might we all agree to set this as a collective intention?.
  4. Working from home.  The benefits are many, running the gamut from more individual flexibility to less traffic on the roads.  As we have seen through this crisis, we are finding news way of doing our jobs remotely.  There has been a significant reduction in severe car accidents, so much so many car insurance companies are giving people refunds.  Might companies embrace letting (us) introverts remain working from home on a permanent basis?  If this became the new normal, we would reduce all costs associated with onsite work by somewhere between 25-50% (the guestimate of the number of introverts), such as the wear-and-tear on our roads, pollution (both air and noise) office space, gas, and car repairs, none-the-less the boost in our mental and emotional health from eliminated time stuck in traffic and away from our families.  Productivity and job satisfaction has been shown to increase in an environment that supports less distractions and sick time is reduced.  And, oh by the way, less people in the office means less sick people in the office which equals less spreading of germs! What do we really have to lose?!
  5. Back to Basics.  This time has challenged all of us to really reflect on what we will end up missing in our lives by being forced to pause for longer than a moment.  It brings to mind the mantra, less is more.  It provides each of us an opportunity to create a new baseline measurement of what we sense feeds our souls versus simply filling our lives with distractions.  As we are finding ourselves getting back to the basics of what is needed for good physical health, including regular sleep, conscious eating and daily exercise, we can give ourselves permission to decide for ourselves what truly nourishes our mental, emotional and spiritual health,  Doing less and being more supports Mother Earth, reduces our stress, invites peace of mind, and supports a deeper connection with ourselves and others.  When we can learn to simplify our lives, living with less and loving the freedom it brings, we can truly understand that less is more!

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!

Online Reiki-infused gentle movement and meditation class!

This online class will be conducted using WebEx’s video conferencing, which provides the option to turn off your camera at any time, supporting your privacy and facilitating a reduction in distractions.  For first-time attendees, we will need to secure a signed release of liability form, which will be sent to you via email.  Once we have these forms, along with payment via PayPal, an email will be sent to you with the link and meeting ID to join us on Sunday, June 28th at 4 pm PST.  We look forward to being of service to you!

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that this is not the ideal way to come together to practice and how sometimes just the thought of more technology might bring shivers down our spines.  Accepting that it’s OK to feel intimidated is the first step. We are doing our best to make the connection simple and easy.  Harnessing the warrior energy within will help you to face any tech fears you might have and join us!

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)
  • Downloading of the WebEx application onto a laptop or device (it’s free!)
  • Checking your email for the WebEx 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.
  • Please know you will not need to have your 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 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.
  • We will not be playing any music or instruments through WebEx due to sound quality, so if you prefer to have some music, we encourage you to play your own using a separate device.  Consider choosing something soft and soothing, such as  instrumental music or sounds of nature.  You will be muted once class begins so it won’t disturb 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

Online Restorative Yoga Classes In June

These online classes will be conducted using Zoom’s video conferencing, which provides an option to turn off the video at any time, supporting your privacy and facilitating a reduction in distractions.  For first-time attendees, a signed release of liability form will be needed, which you can access by clicking here.  Once this form has been received, along with payment via PayPal (click here), an email will be sent to you with the link and meeting ID to join the class.  I look forward to being of service to you!

Virtual Community Gathering Practice Tips

We understand that this is not the ideal way to come together to practice and how sometimes just the thought of more technology might bring shivers down our spines.  Accepting that it’s OK to feel intimidated is the first step. We are doing our best to make the connection simple and easy.  Harnessing the warrior energy within will help you to face any tech fears you might have and join us!

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)
  • Downloading of the WebEx application onto a laptop or device (it’s free!)
  • Checking your email for the WebEx 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.
  • Please know you will not need to have your 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 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.
  • We will not be playing any music or instruments through WebEx due to sound quality, so if you prefer to have some music, we encourage you to play your own using a separate device.  Consider choosing something soft and soothing, such as  instrumental music or sounds of nature.  You will be muted once class begins so it won’t disturb 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

Online Reiki-infused gentle movement and meditation class!

This online class will be conducted using WebEx’s video conferencing, which gives you the choice to turn off your camera to support giving yourself permission to make this practice your own and to facilitate a reduction in distractions.  For first-time attendees, we will need to secure a signed release of liability form, which will be sent to you via email.  Once we have this form, along with payment via PayPal, we will email you the link and meeting ID to join us on Sunday, 26th at 4 pm PST.  We look forward to be of service to you!

Does including music in a yoga class add to the healing benefits?

When I first started taking yoga classes years ago back in New Jersey, the teachers did not play music in the background.  There might have been some chanting, as I do remember learning about chanting “Om” and “Shanti” to start and end classes.  However, it wasn’t until I attended a class where the teacher played the quartz crystal singing bowls while we stayed in comfortable, supported shapes that sound caught my attention!  I left that class sensing that something deep inside of me had shifted, although I could not put it in to words at that time.  After moving to California, I noticed that most yoga teachers included music in their classes.  So once I became a yoga teacher, I began to include music in my classes while setting the intention to manifest a set of those singling bowls so I too one day would be able to offer that deeper experience to others.

After a few years, I acquired a set of Tibetan singing bowls which were made out of metal and generated different sound frequencies depending upon their size and thickness.  The belief was that the frequency of each bowl was tuned to the seven major chakras, or energy centers, in the body, causing the human body to begin to vibrate at the same frequency as the bowls, referred to as entrainment.  The process of entrainment of the body’s frequencies to the sound frequencies of the singing bowls was thought to help the body recover and align with its natural, dominant vibration of wellness (versus illness).  At the time, I didn’t have any evidenced-based research to prove such claims, I only had my own personal anecdotal experiences.  Although I think most of us would not argue how music impacts us, research is now starting to show how these specific vibrations from the singing bowls impact mood and Heart Rate Variability, a physiological measure of health.

Now, you have to understand, that although I love music, I do not have any musical talent.  I sing, but not well and only when I am alone and I have no musical instrument training.  I also avoided group exercise classes (before yoga) because I always felt I was a step behind everyone else – yes, I believed I had no rhythm or coordination, instead of knowing I simply vibrate at a different frequency!  It wasn’t until my yoga practice expanded my awareness to the fact that sound, vibration, rhythm, resonance and dissonance permeate the universe.  Those sounds start for us in the womb, where we hear our mother’s heartbeat, pulse and breathing (and entrain with these vibrations) and we remain rhythmic beings until we take our very last breath.

The intention behind the physical movement and shapes of a yoga practice on the mat is to soften the mind’s activity, by helping it to focus on the body and breath and releasing the tight grip of the thoughts that keep us distracted.  As we practice yoga, the brain waves of the mind change.  The higher frequency brain waves (i.e., Gamma and Beta) begin to slow down.  These higher frequency brain waves are associated with stress, anxiety, and fear.  When the singing bowls are included in the physical practice of yoga, in addition to the physically felt vibrations, the bowls emit measurable waveforms that sound pleasant and soothe the mind and emotions by promoting the slower, more meditative alpha and theta brain wave states.  So, over 15 years later, I couldn’t be happier that I have manifested a beautiful colored set of quartz crystal singing bowls to include in my yoga and meditation classes!

And I’m also excited to learn that therapeutic sound and music is permeating other healing spaces too.  The recent increase in research on the use of music in healing has shown a strong effect on the brain, including rebuilding neural connections, increasing neuroplasticity, balancing brain activity in the emotional centers such as the amygdala and hippocampus, and enhancing reward (e.g., release of dopamine) circuitry, which helps to regulate mental and emotional responses.  The research is compelling enough that music therapy is being integrated in military treatment facilities, such as the Walter Reed Medical Center, to treat combat-related traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.  So, the next time you are in a movement class and sense the enjoyment of the music, know that the sounds and vibrations are working at a deeper, subconscious level to invite the body to entrain to its natural vibration of health.  Nothing for you to do, simply enjoy!

If you would like to read more about how music is being integrated into military treatment facilities for trauma-induced mind-body dysregulation, click on the link below:

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Spread Hope

National Month of Hope

At the time of this writing, most of the country has been instructed to follow physical distancing guidelines and/or an order to “stay-at-home” to battle the unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Although such mandated imposed physical isolation guidelines may be critical to the physical safety and health of many during such a pandemic, it is wrecking havoc on the mental health and well-being of all of us.As humans, we all have a basic need for connection, as connections have been essential for survival historically.  We also have a need for meaning in our lives, having a purpose or reason to get us up in the morning and move us forward, no matter what chaos may be swirling around us.  Some of these basic human needs are being challenged right now.

So, I thought it might be helpful at this time to highlight the fact that April is the National Month of Hope and offer some intention-setting ideas to spread hope.  At some level, I don’t think the timing of these two events is ironic.  Mother Nature has always been the great equalizer and demands our respect.  It seems that when there is an extended period of a lack of respect, she stirs something up to create a global shift to wake us all up!

Now, more than ever, might be a time to re-invite such respect into our lives as it can be a powerful guide to our ever evolving purpose and subsequent behaviors.  Perhaps we might recommit ourselves to such purposes as a healthier world, a more diverse, interconnected community, or a more just society that works towards reducing the suffering of others.  When we are able to clearly define our purpose, it brings hope as it can anchor and steer us in establishing and working toward goals that bring more meaning to our lives.

In addition, there has been much research on the impact of connection, purpose, meaning and hope on our health and well-being.  Hope is the spark that ignites our internal fire, while having a purpose that brings deeper connection and meaning is the gentle breeze that fans the flames of that fire, keeping our light vibrant and bright.  Hope keeps the collective light on during the dark times of such a global shift.  So, what can we do to spread hope now to increase the current of connective energy needed to move us through these dark moments in time?  Below are some intention-setting ideas to try this month:

  1. Use Social Media.  Consider setting an intention to post words of hope on your social media outlet of choice.  Perhaps challenge yourself to see if you can do so for the next 30 days. Or you might share a personal story when you overcame a difficult time, providing a source of inspiration to others that might be experiencing an increased sense of fear and anxiety at this time.
  2. Write Cards or Letters to Loved Ones.  If you are not a big social media user (like me!), perhaps set an intention to write a card or letter containing words of hope to someone you care about that you are unable to see in person at this time.  Personal, heart-felt written words may provide a longer-lasting effect, as they are a more tangible representation of your connection, that is available to be read again anytime that person might need a reminder that they are not alone.
  3. Reach Out to Keep Others Informed.  Stress can tend to make us focus on the negative and fear can make us withdraw even more from the world.  The simple act of reaching out to someone to keep them informed signals to them that they are important to you, that they are not alone, and provides you with an opportunity to express your concern for their well-being.  Even if the information may be considered negative, the act of sharing it demonstrates that you are not only thinking about yourself, but are thinking of them.  During this time, if you come across some news that brought you a sense of hope, consider sharing it with others in order to remind them that not all hope is lost and this too shall pass.
  4. Contribute Kindness and Encouragement.  Say “thank you” often.  We are being asked to rely more on virtual communication at this time to stay connected, so consider setting an intention to demonstrate the power of a sincere ‘thank you’ in each connection you make.  Feeling heard and valued by others can bring comfort when we are feeling unsettled, lonely or scared.  Hearing words of appreciation encourages us to continue what we are doing and reinforces our sense of purpose, inviting hope (Helping Others by Providing Encouragement), acceptance and meaning.
  5. Take Care of Yourself.  The world needs us at our best right now, which demands us to step up our self-care efforts.  Taking care of ourselves empowers others to do the same.  Because many of our sources for connection and well-being are closed right now, consider returning to the basics of health and well-being, which includes sleep, eating healthy, exercising the body and mind, and deep breathing.  When you take deep breaths, it facilitates the reduction of negative stress chemicals in the body and supports an increase in the positive ones the invite calmness into your entire system.  From the emotional shift that is a result of your own deep breathing, you are in a better position to help others who might need some support in making that same emotional shift.  So, if you are one of the many of us that struggle to prioritize our self-care, perhaps set an intention to spend some time reflecting on what self-care means to you.  Unfortunately, many of us were taught to think that self-care is selfish.  However, as the airlines inform us during each flight’s physical safety instructions, we must put on our own oxygen mask first, before helping others to ensure we are available to help others.  So, when you are able to maintain your own health (emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical), it is much easier to support and spread hope to others!

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!

Online Reiki-infused gentle movement and meditation class!

This online class will be conducted using WebEx’s video conferencing, which gives you the choice to turn off your camera to support giving yourself permission to make this practice your own and to facilitate a reduction in distractions.  For first-time attendees, we will need to secure a signed release of liability form, which will be sent to you via email.  Once we have this form, along with payment via PayPal, we will email you the link and meeting ID to join us on Sunday, 26th at 4 pm PST.  We look forward to be of service to you!

Can direct neurofeedback help individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia?

The effects of the unprecedented coronavirus will be felt by all for a currently unknown period of time.  The fear-driven behavioral responses that this pandemic has been producing is a reflection of how deep and strong our survival response goes.  And, yet, at some point, relief will come in the form of a vaccine.  However, there is another health challenge that stirs fear in the hearts of many, the life-long diagnosis of the severe mental disorder of schizophrenia.

One of my very first clients that I saw as a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee carried a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  My client challenged me to learn more about this disorder in order to provide the best quality of service I could at that point in my training.  I learned that schizophrenia, although not as common as other mental disorders, affects feelings, thinking, and behaviors and the symptoms can be very disabling.  Symptoms of schizophrenia are categorized using the medical terms of either positive, negative, or cognitive.  Positive symptoms add and negative symptoms take away.

For example, positive symptoms might include hallucinations, delusions, or repetitive movements that are hard to control.  Negative symptoms include reduced feelings of pleasure, reduced speech, apathy, reduced social drive and social interest, and loss of motivation.  The underlying cause or causes of this severe mental disorder are still unknown and available treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease.  The first line of attack as far as treatment is concerned is antipsychotic medications.  Once a medication is found to work, then psychosocial treatments, such as therapy, is offered to help individuals learn and use coping skills.  Research has shown that participating in such psychosocial treatments reduces relapses and/or hospitalizations; however, the most challenging aspect of treatment is nonadherence to medication.  Therefore, a focus on increasing treatment adherence could have a positive effect on all impacted by this severe mental disorder.

Individuals with schizophrenia struggle to live life independently and improving this situation is a significant mental health priority.  It seems as though the negative symptoms of this disorder are associated with poorer functional status and quality of life than are the positive symptoms and this may be because primary negative symptoms generally do not respond well to the antipsychotic medications currently available.  Research has suggested that up to 60% of patients may have prominent clinically relevant negative symptoms that require treatment.  With this information it then becomes more easily understandable why these individuals may not be compliant with their medications – because those medications don’t work for them.  The question now is what is being done to support these individuals and address this unmet medical need?

Well, there is hope on the horizon.  An article recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry looked into the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (AKA direct neurofeedback) as an add-on therapy for negative symptoms of schizophrenia.  In this double-blind randomized clinical trial of 100 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia with predominant negative symptoms, results showed that this non-medication treatment was effective and safe in ameliorating negative symptoms.

If you would like to read more, click on the button below:

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Reduce Inflammation During Times of Transition

The experience of the season of Spring seems to reflect Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote above – and, no wonder, Spring might be the most eagerly awaited change of seasons of the year for many of us!

At the same time, did you know that it is also the time of year when suicides peak?

Researchers are beginning to uncover why this world-wide trend might exist.  Adam Kaplin, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, suggests that there is overwhelming evidence that links inflammation to depression and suicide.  One of the sources of inflammation is seasonal allergic reactions, with chances of depression being 42% higher for people with rhinitis.  So, although Spring may, at first glance, seem full of rebirth and like a welcomed time of transition, it too comes with the reminder that all transitions come with challenges.

So, although you might not be currently experiencing depression (or suicidal thoughts), becoming aware of the impact that inflammation has on the body and mind can help to support you through this seasonal change, as well as other times of significant change, such as navigating the stress of moving or from the loss of a job.

Please consider the following intention-setting ideas to support your immune system, especially when navigating transitional times which tend to increase the experience of inflammation in the mind and body:

  1. Nasal cleansing.  Consider investing in a Neti pot and trying a daily practice of washing out the irritants from your nasal passages.  Using a sterile water and salt mixture has been shown to reduce sinus inflammation and the symptoms of an itchy nose, sneezing, sinus headaches and the long dreaded sinus infections.  This practice can also be used to prevent and treat symptoms of colds and the accompanying inflammation, since it takes 8-12 hours for a cold virus to replicate within your nose.  If you are hesitant to try out this practice (and who wouldn’t be a little scared to fill your nose with water as we are humans for goodness sake and not fish!), check out some of the videos on YouTube to get tips on how to overcome the fear.  My suggestion would be to start a practice now before the pollen levels grow even more!
  2. Legs-Up-The-Wall.  Known as Viparita Karani in Sanskrit, this restorative yoga shape supports and strengthens your immune system, among many other benefits.  It can be done anywhere, including the back of any door in your home or office.  The longer you hold it, the greater the reduction in stress (AKA inflammation), in both the mind and body.  Perhaps holding this shape for 10 minutes each day for a week and sense into the difference it might make in your energy levels, clarity of thoughts, and quality of sleep.
  3. Alter what you eat. There is much written about the impacts of the types of fuel you add to your body, so it is not my intention to promote any specific “diet” out there.  I’m offering the suggestion to consider adding one or perhaps two new “premium” sources of energy to your existing routine.  For example, adding foods that are rich in antioxidants, known as polyphenols, has been shown to reduce inflammation.  These foods include onions and red grapes, the spice turmeric, and green tea.  Consider simply adding one of these each day for one month.  Another example is adding more omega-3 fatty acids, which includes olive oil, ghee, flaxseed oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel into your meals.  Now you can’t convince me to eat sardines, but I have switched over to ghee, so perhaps you might too!
  4. Immerse yourself in a Sound Bath.  What is a sound bath you might ask?  Well, it is an experience where you listen to sounds that are soothing to the nervous system.  Music has been shown to ‘speak’ to the body’s autonomic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that controls the unconscious functions of our bodies, such as our heart beat, and reduce the level of cortisol (i.e., the stress hormone).  It has also been shown to improve the body’s immune system functioning, have a positive effect on the brain, and enhance cognition.  Perhaps take a moment now and do a search in your area for the next Sound Bath event at a local yoga studio, health spa, or holistic practitioner’s office space and schedule it in your calendar.  If you are sensitive to sounds, consider trying a one-instrument sound bath, such as Crystal Singing Bowls or Gongs first.
  5. Practice meditation.  Both meditation and self-compassion practices have been shown to reduce stress-induced inflammation.  Consider finding an online self-compassion meditation that resonates with you and implement a daily practice, perhaps each night before going to bed.  If you would like to read a little bit more about how meditation reduces inflammation, check out this article from HuffPost.

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!

Compassion for Survivors of Trauma – a New View of Substance Use Disorder/Addiction!

I remember being assigned to read the book by Dr. Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, while in graduate school and simply feeling gratitude, compassion and validation afterwards.  I never believed in the medical model of addiction that describes the symptom of addiction as a chronic disease of the brain, even suggesting a genetic component to the disease, implying that if my parent(s) had addictions, most likely I would too.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the brains of people who struggle with addiction are different, yet those changes are created as a response to the adverse childhood experiences (AKA TRAUMA) these people survived.  And if your parents suffered from addictions when you were growing up, that experience is traumatic to a child!

I’ve written before about the impact of adverse childhood experiences, especially on physical health later in life as well as addiction; however, I felt compelled to revisit it again when I learned of research that found over 96% of the study participants suffering from substance use disorders, including prescription opioids, nicotine, and cocaine, had trauma histories.  When comparing the groups based upon their drug of choice, the prescription opiate group reported more traumatic childhood experiences than the other groups and a younger age of their first adverse childhood event.  So, when you learn about the underlying dynamics associated with substance use, the thought of “Just Say No” to drugs seems crazy!

Trauma comes in many packages and I’m grateful that the new California Surgeon General (Dr. Nadine Burke Harris) is focusing on early childhood, health equity and Adverse Childhood Experiences and toxic stress as her key priorities. (For more information on the ACEs Aware initiative, visit www.ACEsAware.org.)  It is time to stop blaming the victims and participate in bringing this information forward in order to educate.  What we don’t know, we don’t know.  However, once we know better, we can do better.  With this knowledge, we can bring more empathy and compassion in our interactions with people that struggle with substances.  We can take extra steps to explain this new research to them, validating their experiences and bringing them hope that they can heal from these past traumatic experiences and release their attachment to something that is harmful to them.  We can empower them to explore various healing modalities, such as psychotherapy, neurofeedback, meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery, and expressive arts, such as yoga, writing and drawing, all of which have been shown to support post-traumatic growth.

To read more about this research, click on the box below: