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February 2, 2018

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Breathing Life Into Relationships

Pacific Quest’s Young Adult Family Program: Breathing Life Into Relationships

By: Dr. John Souza, Young Adult Family Program Therapist

Ohana

In Hawaiian culture the taro plant symbolizes family or “Ohana”.  The word Ohana itself comes from the taro.  The “Oha” are the new growth emerging from the corm, an underground storage organ that is the foundation of the taro.  Adding the word “na” pluralizes the Oha, thereby creating a group growing together or an “Ohana”.

Dr. John Souza

Within the word Ohana are the words “Ha” and “Hana”.  “Ha” is the sacred breath of life carried by all and which joins us.  “Hana” is the work into which we breathe our life; and in which we engage with joy knowing it is through our shared work that we make our family relationships healthy and vibrant.

Breathing Life Into Families

Pacific Quest’s Young Adult Family Program has become a haven in which families come to practice joyfully breathing life into their relationships. In 2017, our Family Program had the privilege of hosting 316 students and caregivers. With over 90% of our students participating in Family Program, PQ is an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) program that continues to emphasize integration and diversity, something the garden teaches us is essential for resiliency.  In a time of environmental and social stress, the opportunity for families to have such a place of respite is essential for them to engage in what we call the Corrective Relational Experience.

The Corrective Relational Experience

The Corrective Relational Experience (CRE) is about rebuilding trust and increasing mutual empathy. During Family Program the CRE is achieved by students, parents, and staff embracing two main responsibilities: Practicing Differentiation and Congruence.

Differentiation is being able to separate one’s own thoughts and feelings, both intra-personally (i.e., within one’s self) and interpersonally (i.e., between one’s self and someone else). Additionally, differentiation involves the ability to enter into or exit from a given emotional relationship by choice. Differentiation means not losing one’s emotional self in a relationship, yet also not cutting one’s emotional self off from a relationship: to stay flexibly connected, yet separate.

Congruence is how reflective your values/beliefs (intra-personal) are in a given relationship (interpersonal). That is to say how closely does what you say reflect what you actually want, need,, and feel in a given relationship? For example, if you don’t like a behavior, do you say, “I don’t really like that” or do you only think that, but actually verbalize, “That’s great!”? To be congruent increases authenticity, a critical component of trust and accurate empathy, the heart of the Corrective Relational Experience.

Professional to Personal: Being Part of a Larger Change Process

As a research-informed clinician, I often wonder about the application of research in practice and practice in research. What I’ve found is that the research on Wilderness Therapy and OBH that continues to point to the importance of family involvement in the development and maintenance of gains made by youth in such programs is spot-on. These gains are being supported by the development of mutual trust and empathy between parents and their sons and daughters. Moreover, for me as a clinician, being able to work with entire families in person only enhances the sense of shared trust and empathy within the therapeutic/clinical relationship (between therapist, student, and parents), itself a major predictor of successful therapeutic outcomes.. This mutual influence between clinician and client becomes the nucleus of a much larger change process.  As I the professional, experience greater trust and empathy, it becomes part of my personal experience, which I take home to my family and to my community. As parents experience this CRE, they too take it back to their families and communities. In this way we become like the taro or Ohana, breathing life into our relationships, born of the same source of trust and empathy.

Having Your Own Corrective Relational Experience: Breathing Life Into Your Relationships

There are many ways to have a Corrective Relational Experience. Below are just a few suggestions of specific skills PQ families have used to foster their own CRE’s. Feel free to modify these or make up your own!

  • Breath: It sounds simple, but this rhythmic, sensory-based activity will help keep you regulated and better able to relate to another person. I like to inhale for four counts, pause for one, exhale for eight, pause for one, and repeat. Feels great!
  • Listen: Again, it sounds simple, but really listening to someone with total openness and suspension of judgment or an agenda is challenging. Try inviting someone to share with you for five minutes while you listen; fully open yourself up to hearing whatever they have to share. Be sure to thank them for sharing!
  • Reflect: This is a great skill to use in tandem with listening. However, try to limit your reflections to only those words used by the speaker. Not only will this minimize you inadvertently inserting your own opinions or judgments about what the speaker was sharing, but will also let the speaker know the correct message was conveyed and received.
  • Share: Related to listening and reflecting (and essential for building trust and empathy) is the art of sharing your own struggles. This involves knowing if you need to share more or if you need to share less. If you need to share, be sure that what you share is focused on the relationship in the present moment and involves feeling words such as happy, mad, scared, confused, etc. If you need to share less, let the listener know that you’re practicing creating more space for them to share.
  • Ask for Feedback: A great way to not only practice vulnerability, but also truly honor your relationship with another person, is to ask them for feedback on the relationship. Ask them to share how they feel in the relationship, if there are realistic ways they see that you could more effectively support the relationship, if they have ways that they want to better support the relationship. The key is to remain curious and focused on improving your bond with the other person. Should you find yourself struggling to do either of these two things, repeat the above skills, beginning with breathing or simply request to take a break and return to the conversation at an agreed upon time in the not-too-distant future.

The most important element in any CRE is a genuine desire to improve the relationship. This includes listening, sharing struggles, and setting clear boundaries.

I wish you and your relationships all the best.

A Hui Hou (until we meet again)!

For more information on Pacific Quest’s Young Adult Family Program, please email drjohn@pacficquest.org.

April 19, 2017

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Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep

By: Pauli Richardson, Wellness Coordinator

It’s not unusual for students to come to Pacific Quest and have difficulty with sleep. It’s a combination of jet lag, anxiety, poor sleeping habits at home, inability to relax, among other factors. Most students are not familiar with “sleep hygiene” or what proper rest looks like. For this reason, sleep is my favorite Pillar of Wellness to teach the students. Sleep hygiene is your lifestyle routine that helps promote sleep. Without it our bodies would not be able to get the sleep it needs naturally. During sleep the body heals itself and balances hormones.

The first question I ask the students is what their sleep routine looks like at home. Then we compare that list to a list of healthy sleeping habits and see how it differs. After taking a closer look, many students realize, they do not have a consistent sleep routine.

Tips for Healthy Sleep Hygiene

CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

For good sleep, it’s important to strive to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. At Pacific Quest, the students wake up at 6:45 AM and they are in bed by 8:30 pm. We teach that this habit is important in helping reset the body’s circadian rhythm, the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.

For some of our students this is the first time they have gone to bed before midnight in a long time. The later you go to sleep the less likely you are to reach deep restful REM sleep.

PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT

In addition, it’s essential to create an environment that promotes sleep. Our bedroom needs to be a place that helps us relax. There are many people that eat on their bed, look at phones while in bed, watch TV, play video games, etc. Your bed should be for rest only. When it is not, your brain won’t instantly know it’s time for sleep and the screens may interfere with the brain’s production of melatonin, an important sleep hormone.

At PQ, students get a break from electronics but we discuss what to do once they face those temptations outside of this environment.  I encourage them to journal or color right next to their bed if they need to, and then get snuggled under the covers once they feel sleepy. Students can also request a calming tea to help them relax or learn to make their own with herbs from our garden! Drinking lavender, lemon balm,or chamomile tea is soothing for the body.

HEALTHY HABITSHelpful Tips to Improve Sleep - Pacific Quest Wilderness Therapy

  • Avoid Caffeine after 12pm
  • Use essential oils before bedtime
  • Listen to relaxing instrumental music
  • Exercise during the day
  • Close your eyes and visualize a calming nature scene
  • Eat foods with Tryptophan (banana,yogurt,turkey)
  • Get a massage

Meditation is an important aspect of our program and it’s key for preparing students’ minds for sleep. It can look very different from day to day. For example, we have staff play guitar, teach deep breathing, read a poem, do soft yoga poses and sometimes students like to lead their peers in their own guided meditation.  I enjoy teaching the students Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This is where students start at the top of their head and work all the way down to the feet squeezing and relaxing each muscle group.

It takes effort and dedication to develop good sleep hygiene habits. It is my hope that students will take what they have learned at Pacific Quest and continue to practice taking care of themselves. Quick fixes are not sustainable, and when students learn this they are on their way to living a healthier life. Sweet dreams!

March 7, 2017

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Pacific Quest Video Series :: Dr. Robert Voloshin, Integrative Psychiatrist

“Happiness, fulfillment, and joy in everyday life should be the bar we set… instead of taking an extreme view, I strive to take a wise, balanced, and integrative approach.” -Dr. Voloshin

Pacific Quest has an incredible new member of our Clinical and Wellness teams, Dr. Robert Voloshin, Integrative Psychiatrist. Dr. Robert Voloshin is leading the Integrative Psychiatry team at Pacific Quest with the goal of cultivating mental health for our students. The Pacific Quest integrative psychiatric model is unique in its methods of treatment.  It combines psychiatric care with naturopathic medicine allowing treatment to be individualized to the needs of each student, achieving a dynamic and comprehensive treatment approach.

Dr. Robert Voloshin: Pacific Quest Integrative Psychiatrist

“Integrative psychiatry is a way of approaching adolescents and young adults from multiple different perspectives. We use the perspectives of modern psychiatry, naturopathic medicine, developmental psychology and family systems to understand the young people and families we work with …”

As a lifelong observer of the human condition, he was innately curious about “what makes us well and what makes us sick.” Through medical school, residency, fellowship and beyond, his training in psychology and psychiatry led him to the conclusion that the origins of our mental health or lack thereof stems from our early years and our family systems, which led to his pursuit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Read More

January 31, 2017

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Pacific Quest Video Series :: Travis Slagle On Horticulture Therapy

“What I find in horticultural therapy that I couldn’t find when I worked in wilderness therapy, adventure therapy and even ropes courses, was the sense of purpose: A sense of purpose and adventure in creating a more sustainable life.” -Travis Slagle, Horticulture Therapy Director

What is Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture has been used as a therapeutic discipline since ancient times. As far back as 2000 BC in Mesopotamia horticulture was used to calm the senses and around 500 BC, the Persians began creating gardens to “please all of the senses.”

“Horticultural Therapy” is based on an ancient practice and has a relatively new title that combines horticulture and rehabilitation disciplines. It employs plants and gardening activities in therapeutic and rehabilitation activities to improve human wellness, showing tremendous positive results for troubled teens and young adults. However, despite its long use in the fields of physical therapy, psychiatric occupational and recreational rehabilitation, awareness about the efficacy of horticulture therapy is still limited.

Since human beings actually evolved from and in a natural environment, an intrinsic physiologic and psychological positive reaction to nature has developed that is involved in maintaining our homeostasis. As Travis says in his video, “One of the most challenging things in our world today is Read More

December 8, 2016

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Thanksgiving Blessings: Gratitude and Grace

As I sat in my dining room with my seven guests for our annual Thanksgiving meal, I recounted what I was grateful for in my life. Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday, not because of what it represents in terms of American history, but because it is a day that I am able to celebrate my friends and family without the messy pressure of gift giving that comes with the Christmas holiday. As I sat down with my family and we exchanged our thoughts of thankfulness, I realized that I am most thankful for grace. The grace that gives me forgiveness when I have screwed up, that has taught me to be a better person, the grace I was given as I learned table etiquette and proper socialization (though I rarely employ those strategies these days), the grace to stumble as a daughter, wife, and mother, and finally the grace to be a human. I realize the amount of grace I have been given as I have navigated the years of my life and think about the students with whom I work and the amount of grace that they need.

Thanksgiving Blessings: Gratitude and Grace - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Theresa Hasting, LMHC

I am grateful for the students and families I get to work with and feel honored to have the privilege to help these young people start the process of reworking their lives. It doesn’t always take on the first try, but the courage and bravery that I see when I am working with teens and their parents often amazes me. To allow themselves to be vulnerable about their deepest pains, even if they do in the messiest of ways, earns the right to given the same amount of grace I have been given in my life.

At Pacific Quest, we work hard to provide them with the grace they need to explore their inner experience, their family dynamics, and how they can learn to give themselves graces. Through my own years, I have realized that grace must ultimately come from within. To do this, we have to offer our students a firm but loving hand, working to join with them through creative, fun and meaningful interactions. The work in our gardens offers such a wonderful medium for this relationship to grow in. We are able to destroy and create whatever needs to be for the student to find meaning. At our fingertips is the ultimate metaphor for destruction and creation, death and renewal, loss and rejuvenation; the island itself, formed by the very fertile Pele.

The idea of grace is at the very core of what we do at Pacific Quest. We must give grace to our students having their process and acknowledging that change does not occur because we simply will it or give insight to it. Change happens because someone gave us the grace of their time and energy so that we could then transform our own inner grace into accepting cognitive change.

By: Theresa Hasting, LMHC
Primary Therapist

July 11, 2016

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The Power of Water, The Practice of Ho’oponopono

By: Jenny Stulck, MS, LPCA
Primary Therapist

In my early twenties, I fulfilled a dream of mine and became a raft guide on the New and Gauley rivers of West Virginia. Last month the areas surrounding those rivers have been severely flooded. On social media I watched as friends in West Virginia posted photos of people who had lost their homes, lost their cars, and some lost loved ones. I am reminded, again, how powerful water is. I grew an immense respect for the waters as a raft guide. I believe the waters are a teacher of ancient lessons. In my journey to the Ganges River in India, I watched as people prayed day and night at the banks of the river. In West Virginia I learned how to read the water, how to respect it, how to work with it. In India I learned how to be in sacrament with it. One has to work with the water, never against it. Water must be accepted.

Jenny Stulck, MS, LPCA

Jenny Stulck, MS, LPCA

Water is our life force. We cannot survive as humans on this planet without it. We need it for our bodies. We use it for our washing. We use it to move our sewage. We swim in it when we are hot. We play in it because it’s fun.

A therapeutic group I like to run is based around water and the practice of Ho’oponopono. Ho’opononpono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness. It essentially means: I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

For this therapy group, I bring a singing bowl full of water and play the singing bowl to center everyone. I show them the patterns that emerge in the water as the singing bowl rings. We discuss water, the mystery, the need, the beauty and the destruction it serves. I ask the students, “What is your relationship with water?” Invariably, students describe a relationship where they are receiving from water, rarely are they giving to water. I ask them, “Is there any other relationship in your life, like the one you have with water?” Often, someone in the group says the relationship with their parents is like that of the one they have with water. We talk about the similarities of these relationships. The ways in which parents have provided them with food and shelter, love, lessons, and how as children they were unable to take care of themselves. They needed their parents for survival. This is often an emotional group for students, as they reflect the ways they have been ungrateful in the past. I share with them a song that are the words: Ho’oponopono, Ho’oponopono. I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, thank you.

We talk about the practice of Ho’oponopono. The practice starts with yourself, and then ripples out to the other people in your life. The practice is to find within yourself the love and ability to forgive and accept that forgiveness. Ho’oponopono starts with the willingness to love and be loved. Many students arrive at Pacific Quest who have lost a connection with their inner self love. Water, and our relationship to it, is a reminder of the reflection we need to take in order to find peace within ourselves.

June 20, 2016

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Sometimes Our Students Are Our Best Teachers

Pacific Quest is supporting Mike Sullivan in his 2016 race and triathlon training. In this series of posts, Mike will share insights and perspectives throughout his races and training, and drawing parallels between the mind-body connection and wellness – important themes at Pacific Quest Wilderness Program. In his first two posts, Mike shared his insights before and after the Hilo Marathon. Mike parallels navigating transitions in racing, wilderness therapy, and life in his third post. Today he looks at acceptance, on and off the course.  

By: Mike Sullivan, MA, LMHC
Alumni and Family Services Director

I recall a Pacific Quest student highlighting pertinent lessons from the book The Knight in Rusty Armor – “Mike, the most important theme of the book revolves around acceptance. See, right here, it says ‘accept; don’t expect.’ This is a critical message for me at this point in my life.” And later that day, the student painted a rock with the message “Accept; don’t expect,” and placed it carefully as a centerpiece in a garden bed.

The past two months have largely been hallmarked by acceptance, particularly as it applies to triathlon and life. I awoke before the sunrise on Thursday, May 5th, eager to learn my fate related to competing in the 2016 Kona Ironman World Championship. A quick glance at the newspaper revealed that my name was not one of 24 lucky island residents selected through a random lottery system. Although somewhat disappointed, I had practiced the art of keeping my expectations realistic, and not placing too much emotional investment in the outcome of a lottery I had no control over. I sighed, moped around the house for twenty minutes, honored how fortunate I was to race in 2015, and set my sights on other challenging races I had approaching on the 2016 race calendar. Accept and move on.

The Kona Half Ironman, aka “Honu” as it known in the triathlon circuit and amongst locals, is still quite challenging, and satiates any athlete’s desire to compete. The race is exactly half the distance of a full Ironman, and Hawaii boasts one of the most challenging courses in the world. Given that I had raced the “Honu” the previous year, I knew how brutally hot and humid the conditions could be. I got mentally and physically prepared and I tried to keep my expectations in check. I wanted to race very well and finish with the top tier athletes.

70.3coralRace day arrived. While I felt an overarching sense of confidence, I found myself grappling with personal expectations. I have been teetering on an overuse injury. My last several runs and bike rides have been painfully slow. I can barely comment on my swimming, as I have only been to the pool a handful of times this spring, and certainly didn’t show my face around there in the freezing temperatures this past winter. What could I expect of myself in this race? How would my body perform? Ugh… there is that sneaky self doubt sensation arising.

I knew I had my mental skills honed and ready. First things first, I had to put expectations to the side and let go. As the Pacific Quest student said, “Accept, don’t expect.” I acknowledged my lack of training and the injury I am working through. I told myself I was just going to go out and have fun. Second, I acknowledged that the race is largely mental. While being physically fit is important, it is the mental process of remaining calm in the swim, cajoling those positive self-affirmations on the bike, and pushing through the intense adversity in the run. Knowing that I have been honing my mental game throughout my life gave me a sense of confidence that cannot be eroded with a tickling echo of self-doubt.

The race started at Hapuna State Beach, an idyllic white sand and palm tree laden Kohala beach. Everything seemed to go rather smoothly for the swim and bicycle sections of the race. The run is where things intensified. I had to face the personal expectations I had tried not to create. As much I was working to accept and not expect, running is my strongest leg of the race, and I wanted to run the half marathon in under one and a half hours. I battled with the thoughts of my past month of running- my training times were in the tank and far from where I wanted them. The voices of self-doubt and skepticism emerged. I toyed back and forth with it with each stride. I wanted to scream out with frustration.

I then chose to surrender, and fight the negative thinking with acceptance. All I can do is my best, and nothing more at this point. I endured the mental agony of watching my pace slowly creep from 6:40 minute miles to 7:00+ minute miles. I stuck with it. I accepted and pushed. I smiled and gave high fives to children spectating on the sidelines. I passed hundreds of people, moving from 306th place to 75th place overall. My run was 1:32:28, and while not as fast as I would have liked, is competitive within the upper echelon of athletes competing in the race. I crossed the finish line in 5:01:47 and smiled ear to ear, knowing that I channeled my Peak Self throughout every aspect of the race.

The old cliché saying amongst teacher seems applicable here, “Sometimes our students are our best teachers.” I have learned tremendous lessons from the students at Pacific Quest, and the vivid memory of the boy who emphasized acceptance still rings as inspiration.

swimming acceptance

March 18, 2016

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PQ Staff Spotlight: Mike Sullivan on Mindfulness and Marathon Preparation

Pacific Quest is supporting Mike Sullivan on his “2016 Road to Kona.” Yes, you heard correctly, Mike is taking another stab at the World Championship Ironman, assuming he is selected to participate through the Hawaii Resident Lottery on May 5, 2016. Mike will share insights and perspectives throughout his 2016 races and training, and drawing parallels between the mind-body connection and wellness – important themes at Pacific Quest.

Up first, Mike’s reflections as he prepares for the Hilo Marathon this Sunday:

By Mike Sullivan, MA, LMHC

Mike Sullivan raceIt turns out that I ran 300 miles during the month of February – something that came as somewhat of a surprise to me. I wasn’t entirely aware that I was putting that kind of mileage on my body during the month. I ran the stats on my computer and learned that my total running time was­­ 40.5 hours, a significant commitment to say it lightly. It begs the question, and I hear this all the time, “What do you think about during all those hours?” The truth is, although I have been asked this question many times, I don’t exactly know how to answer, as it isn’t entirely clear to me.

Mindfulness Training and the Brain

This much is clear though- I have observed my personal thought process and studied the neuroscience of exercise to better understand my experience. I seek to find if my experience may be congruent to others. In fact, my Peak Self project analyzes various athlete’s mental experiences by interviewing them and featuring an “Athlete of the Month” on the Peak Self blog. I have learned that many athletes encounter similar mental phenomena in training.

Here are the top three phenomena I’ve noticed in myself and the mental tools I have employed to maximize the experience:

Mindfulness Training and Perseverance

My mind tends to ruminate on unwanted thoughts or uncomfortable emotions. Without distraction, the mind is left to its own devices to latch onto thoughts or feelings that are left unaddressed, and become a point of focus. One naturally assigns judgment and in my case perseverates, allowing unwanted thoughts to persistently gnaw at me.

Similar to advanced meditation practitioners, learning how to deal with the minds tendency to latch onto negative thoughts is critical, and a necessary step in reaching a higher level of calm and feeling of contentment. In fact, this process of allowing thoughts and feelings to emerge and dealing with them, is a healthy process of mindfulness practice, and supported widely within the therapeutic community. I have enjoyed the process of incorporating mindfulness into running:

Mindfulness Training Tool #1

Tool 1: the practice of acknowledging when certain thoughts appear (or reappear), refrain from assigning judgment (just noticing that the thought is there), and letting it go. Developing this practice has allowed me to find larger moments of calm and content, increasing the spans of attaining a presence in the moment. When one asks me what I think about on those long runs, the reality is that it is an ongoing project, where I continually practice this basic mindfulness technique.

I often find that a wandering mind and “mindless” running leads to sloppier running and less effective workouts. It also leads to dissatisfaction with the experience, as running starts to feel more like a hamster wheel, than actually getting anywhere. For many, the process of becoming present requires more than just acknowledging thoughts and letting them go, it requires one to focus attention on one simple thing (Tool 2). I hone focus on the rhythmic nature of my breath, as well as a mental cycle of checking in repetitively on my running form. This is a cycle starting with my head and working my way down to the bottoms of my feet. I first notice the angle I am holding my head, the tension in my shoulders, how I am holding my abs/core, the rotation within my hips, the size of my strides, and the nuances with my feet (foot strike, roll, etc.). This mindfulness technique engages focus in the experience.

Problem Solving & Mindfulness Training

As the miles add up in any particular workout and I find myself in longer stretches of “being present,” which in turn seems to lead to another important aspect of “what I think about” during all those training hours. The combination of endurance exercise and the mindfulness techniques leads to increased problem solving and clarity in my thinking. I find myself regularly encountering “aha” moments, where I will encounter a novel idea or solve a problem I haven’t otherwise been able to solve. With a clear mind my subconscious is able to make connections that it isn’t otherwise able to.

It seems that the unique chemical environment produced in the brain, catalyzed by exercise and mindfulness, fuels problem solving. According to Bruce Perry, MD, Ph.D., and founder of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), the higher level operations of the brain (i.e., the neocortex and the limbic system) are only functional when the more primitive parts of the brain are regulated (i.e., the brainstem and diencephalon). Patterned, rhythmic behavior stimulates and soothes the lower parts of the brain (responsible for nervous system functioning), establishing a critical foundation for the more complex aspects of the brain to fire. Running is a perfect medium for problem solving! The nervous system is nurtured from the bottom up, allowing the brain to problem-solve in a more effective manner.

While I utilize endurance athletics to access a higher level of mindfulness and problem solving, others seek out a parallel experience through other activities. Gardening, yoga, walking, painting, writing, and other hobbies serve to find presence in the moment and soothe the nervous system. Through working at Pacific Quest, I’ve recognized the powerful role that gardening can play in regulating the nervous system and problem solving. Tending to a garden requires patterned, rhythmic behavior of tilling the soil, weeding, pruning, and planting. There is also significant exercise-like movement in tromping around with tools, building garden beds, hauling wheelbarrow loads, and stirring the compost. Mindfulness and problem solving opportunities abound!

September 20, 2010

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Implications of simple mindfulness practices

Implications of simple mindfulness practices - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and without judgement.

Mindfulness practices help people develop a deeper and more compassionate connection to experiences.  Mindfulness practices that focus on aspects of the body help root us in our bodies, in the here and now, and cultivate the connection between mind and body.  In this day and age people are very disconnected from their bodies and dwell in various mental states.  Many people have created a clear distinction or boundary between mind and body.  Mindfulness practices can help dissolve that boundary, one that is assumed in the first place (according to Buddhism and other Eastern philosophical approaches).

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Marsha Linehan teaches about “Radical acceptance,” accepting “what is, as is.”  Mindfulness practices require a process of “turning the mind” from “willfulness” (fighting what is) to “willingness” (accepting what is, as is).

This process has important implications for developing physical and emotional resilience.  Research indicates that mindfulness practices have positive physiological effects on heart, blood pressure, muscles, and more.  Mindfulness practices serve people emotionally, countering anxiety, thoughts, worries and concerns.  Improves people’s ability to self regulate, feel calmer, and increase compassion for self and others.

For more information on mindfulness visit the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS, the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and Dan Siegel.

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