Mind, Body and Spirit
Achieving Wellness of Mind, Body, & Spirit
The Meehl House places a strong focus on helping our residents live happy, healthy lives.
We prioritize emotional stability, balance, and wellness planning, along with personal discovery. We work with each resident, and his or her family, to create realistic goals for each individual. Medication and a wholistic healing approach are the ideal care for achieving wellness of mind, body, and spirit.
FREEDOM TO BE YOU
One of the primary reasons for pursuing counseling, whether spoken or unspoken, is a lack of freedom to be you. We desire to feel a sense of purpose-life purpose to know why we are here. To feel good by having serenity and peace on the inside while being empowered to reach our potential on the outside. That’s why worry, despair and addictive behaviors, to name a few, are so distressing. They assault our capacity to appreciate life and keep us from coming to our potential. Finding and being you is what life is about. Everyone else is already taken
One of my favorite quotes is by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” We have a natural longing and drive to experience purpose. We forget that life is to be lived. Life is about full self-expression and self-fulfillment. Most of us don’t feel fully alive and on purpose, we’re at a loss on how to cultivate it. Frequently, bad habits and addictive behaviors, are the person’s attempt to fill a vacant void in their lives. Many clients have said that they feel an empty hole inside themselves The individual’s pursuit of pleasure or the momentary adrenaline rush becomes an artificial (and destructive) substitute for an important need: to feel fully present in the moment. One of the main goals in a DBT Team is to help clients develop a life structure that generates a healthy awareness and behaviors that lasts. To live fully, you must expand and grow, and that requires risk. Fear is the only thing that stand in your way. Emotional mind keeps you unwilling to risk anything new or scary. To transcend fear you must be willing to experience risk and new possibilities.
The word honesty additionally strikes a chord in light of the fact that self-improvement and recovering presumes speaking the truth with oneself and with others. AA explains it this way:
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path….usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. …they are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.”
In our work at the Meehl Foundation, we create a safe, nonjudgmental environment where people are free to express their authentic thoughts & feelings and examine self and life with openness and honesty. There is an emphasis on speaking the truth in unconditional love. We understand that is takes great courage to be honest, open and willing to share with another person. To tell the truth about who we are, to take the mask off. All DBT trained therapists and ministers at the Meehl Foundation consider this a sacred privilege
When it comes to working with families and couples, the three words that come to mind are:
MINDFULNESS IN RELATIONSHIPS
Most, families I work with have reoccurring patterns that can be identified. It can go something like this: A frustrated spouse makes a comment that feels like an attack to the other. The spouse who feels attacked and unfairly blamed withdraws, which only makes the resentful angry family even more upset and the cycle continues. The key to creating change in the relationship is developing awareness of these cycles as they are happening and introducing a new behaviors, learned in DBT therapy, to break the cycle. It is only through fear that we might not approve of the other person-thus invalidating them and our experiences with them that we use guilt to control them.
Openness is also important because a healthy relationship isn’t about winning or being right. It’s about learning how to love the other and encouraging him/her to reach his/her full potential as a person. Terry Cole-Whittaker says it best,
“Most of us fear at some level that other people wouldn’t be with us if they could really choose freely. Relationships must come from the position of: I love you and support you to be all that you are and all that you are not. I love and support myself to be all that I am and all that I am not. We are in this relationship because we choose to be and not because we have to be.”
This requires patience, a healthy dose of humility and a mutual trust that there is space in the relationship for everyone to get their healthy needs met.
Some of the ingredients of intimacy are good communication, healthy connection rituals and physical intimacy. There are many forms of bonding; words of affirmation, physical contact that is non-sexual, act of service, are at the top of the list everyone feels loved when their language of love is connect to the way they receive love. (Just because you like cards does not mean that your loved one will like cards.) Intimacy has three legs;
- The relationship has to be mutual: They must be able to choose to stay, and not out of guilt shame.
- There must be reciprocal empathy: it must be present on both sides of the relationship, meaning that both people are willing to try to understand the others’ feelings and emotions.
- There must be a balance of power: seldom is power ever equal, but it cannot swing too far in either direction. Not ever taking what the other person say seriously, telling the other person that do like something when they don’t, always being righteous, and pointing out the others faults constantly. Dolling out money like a parent, treating adults like children. All of these cause unhappiness and resentment. In sexual relationships discontent and anger taken to bed every night rarely produce passionate, wild sex, which is a number 1 complaint with couples.
Staying healthy through regular exercise and eating the right foods can improve your mood and the quality of your sleep. Sleep and mood are closely connected; poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress. On the flip side, stress can cause poor or inadequate sleep. This type of interdependent relationship creates the risk of falling into a vicious cycle of poor quality sleep and negative mood. How can one avoid this debilitating cycle? The most recent scientific research suggests that perhaps exercise and healthy eating Glutton Free -can be used as powerful tools.
How does exercise help improve my mood?
When you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, exercise is often the last thing you will think of, but that is probably the time when your brain needs it the most. Once you manage to motivate yourself to get up and move, physical activity can have a major impact on reducing symptoms of anxiety and improving mood.
From a physiological standpoint, research has demonstrated that exercise increases the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters that activate the pleasure centers in our brain, giving us an immediate sense of satisfaction and well-being. Moreover, a depressive state can cause a chronic increase in the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Exercise can help break the depressive state and eliminate chronic elevation of cortisol.
From a psychological standpoint, exercise can also boost self-confidence, through consistent goal striving and achievement, as well as through improvements in our physical appearance. Anxiety and depression are often a result of a cycle of negative thoughts, exercise can serve as a daily distraction that will break this cycle. While researchers have yet to discover all of the physical and psychological benefits of exercise, it is slowly becoming clearer that a healthy mind exists in a healthy body.
How does exercise improve the quality of my sleep?
The direct improvement in mood that results from exercise can have far-reaching benefits on an individual’s lifestyle. Exercise-induced improvements in mood and anxiety are closely related to improvements in sleep quality. A recent study demonstrated that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they follow the national guideline of at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, that’s less than 25 minutes of exercise per day. The study was based on a national sample of 2,600 men and women of all ages. The results showed a 65 percent of the sample showed improvement in sleep quality and felt less sleepy during the day Recent studies have shown that about 40 percent of Americans have problems falling asleep or with daytime sleepiness. If you are among that 40 percent, then perhaps exercise and improving your physical health can be a long-term solution that doesn’t involve the use of prescription drugs.
What does food have to do with this?
Over the last 40 years, people have become more accustomed to eating foods that contain gluten. Gluten in combination with carbohydrates (sugar) is linked with dementia and many other common neurological problems. It is a known fact that inflammation is the basis for Alzheimer disease and multiple sclerosis. In fact all of the neurodegenerative disease is in one or the other ways linked to inflammation. Dr. Perlmutter, certified neurologist and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, wrote in his book that diet is fundamentally important in reducing the degeneration of the body, especially the brain. He goes on to label gluten as a “modern poison”. Alzheimer is a disease that is primarily based on life style choices, especially with consumption of high amount of carbohydrate that western culture has got so used too.
Gluten sensitivity is involved in most chronic disease which even involves affecting brain. That’s because gluten affects your immune system. According to Dr. Alessio Fasano at Massachusetts General Hospital, full blown celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) affects around 1.8percent people in Western culture. Zonulin is produced in our intestine in response to gliadin which is a protein found in wheat, rey, barley and makes our gut more permeable making it easy for the protein to get into our bloodstream which would otherwise have been excluded. This sensitizes our immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity. Even antibiotic and chlorinated water causes this kind of gut permeability.
Several brain disorders are directly associated with gluten and sugar. Patients have seen dramatic improvements on a gluten-free diet. Though gluten primarily impacts gut performance, it has severe effects on the brain. Many cases of neurological illness are linked to gluten consumption, known as gluten sensitive idiopathic neuropathy. Rather than starting the day with a gluten-containing bagel and a glass of orange juice, it makes much sense to start the day with healthy breakfast that includes eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados and the foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids that protect the brain.
Eating a well-balanced diet consisting of protein and non-processed carbohydrates (Glutton Free) can lead to more tryptophan entering the brain. Tryptophan is a non-essential amino acid that increases serotonin production in the brain, which is responsible for regulating our mood and keeping us happy. Many extreme low carb diets and calorie-depleted diets don’t allow for adequate nutritional intake, which can cause constant feelings of lethargy and increased irritability regardless of how much you sleep.
Another great nutrient that can improve mood is omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Omega-3 is known to function similar to an insulator that facilitates neural transmission in the brain, thereby making your brain function optimally. Studies on depression have suggested a lack of omega-3 metabolism among those with depressive symptoms. The same has been shown in studies that examined the role of folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D, three nutrients that when lacking are associated with increased rates of depression. Folate can be found in legumes, nuts, and dark green vegetables. Vitamin B-12 can be found in all low-fat animal products, and vitamin D can be found fortified milk or from sunlight. These food suggestions explain the recent trend towards Mediterranean style and Glutton Free diets to improve mood and overall health.
As a person awakens spiritually, he or she may be inclined to use a practice during the course of a day which helps in bringing relaxation, peace and presence into the moment. It is like using a reset button on your mind to retreat from the hustle and bustle of your life and feel grounded in yourself. There are numerous techniques of meditation, yoga, tai-chi and other mind-body practices people follow to bring comfort.
Apart from the above-mentioned practices, we can include practices in our daily life that help us in being present and savor the moment. They can also be called meditation, but they don’t necessarily involve any body posture, mantra, etc. These practices are mentioned in all spiritual and religious traditions in one way or the other. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy uses the “Skill” of Mindfulness to explain them all. The goal in DBT is to create a life worth living.
- Breath Awareness
Being aware of the flow of air as it enters and exits the body is a direct way to calm your mind. Just feel the life in the breathing, no need to try to make it longer than usual, as the breathing naturally tends to get slower and gives the calming effect. Doing this for even a span of 2 minutes helps the mind’s serenity.
- Body Awareness
This is one of the most enjoyable parts of one’s life though many of us are unaware of it. Just try it right now. Close your eyes. Extend your hands in any direction. Now are you aware of where your hands are? Though you don’t see your hands, you know because you can feel the life energy vibrating through the bones and tissues. Now you know what awareness of a body part feels like. Whenever free, put your attention on different parts of your body, one part at a time and enjoy the life energy. You may not feel the energy with same intensity everywhere but its gets better with practice.
- Sense Perceptions
Life seems dull and boring when we spend most of our time in our heads and miss the wonder of the things around us. When was the last time you enjoyed seeing the designs on a piece of cloth, texture of a piece of wood, light reflecting off a car, sensed the softness/hardness of objects as you touched them. World is rich in content and we miss that and tend to look into our gadgets for enjoyment. Place your attention on objects in front of you one by one, feel the gratitude towards life for creating the beauty in that object. Enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and touches. World is a banquet.
- Mindful Awareness
All spiritual traditions have the practice of looking at the mind. Ego is the spiritually unconscious part of our mind and its existence depends on either being superior or inferior to something in the world. Complaining, Anger, Resentment, Non-forgiveness make it feel superior. Guilt, fear or having something less compared to others make it feel inferior. Becoming free of the ego is to look at our mind patterns and so release them. Not to put a fight but to shine the light of our attention on them. When the light shines on darkness, darkness fades.
When possible in your daily life, sit and watch the thoughts your mind creates objectively and enjoy it like reading a book. Being aware of your breath or body helps you to be an observer instead of being taken over by the mind patterns.
- Radical Acceptance
Inner complaining being one of the favourite ego strategies to take in more of your attention, we can voluntarily do the opposite at any given moment “Acceptance” For example, you are in the middle of a traffic jam. Your mind immediately tends to complain about the roads, other drivers, government etc. Instead we can enjoy the breath, body or sense perceptions in that moment and accept the present situation as it is. Radical Acceptance doesn’t mean you put up with bad quality. For the same traffic jam example, you could take the following actions. Take a different route next time, start at a different time next day, inform the traffic authorities, etc. without any negativity. If any action is not possible due to whatever reasons find ways to enjoy the traffic jam. Sing your heart out in the car. Complaining in the head only makes matters worse and greatly diminishes our life enjoyment. Accept and then act.
Here is a list of a few more practices we can include to reach that tranquil space in us. Come up with your own list of what you would like to do to feel more at peace.
- Reading a page from your favourite book or scripture and then letting it sink in
- Pausing in between tasks. Take a break of at least 30 seconds and reach your calm centre by following any of the practices mentioned in this article
- Find ways to laugh more. I watch a funny YouTube clip every few hours and laugh out loud.
The main intention of these practices is to open up spaces in your daily life and so reduce the unnecessary mind interference. There is less dissipation of your energy and thus we feel life to be richer, grander and fuller. We start being more authentic, letting go and letting god into our lives and be more responsible beings. Peace be with you.
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