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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.


March 26, 2010

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Blogging live from the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in Washington DC…

Currently attending a workshop called Buddha’s Brain: Neuroscience by Rick Hanson. The message of the workshop highlights the relationship between mindfulness and brain structure.  Essentially, the neural networks in our brains are quite plastic and can be manipulated by specific mental activities.  By using ones mind in a particular way one can actually grow healthy neural networks, which in turn shifts the structure of how one uses the mind.  This has implications for how to use the mind to cultivate positive attitudes and beliefs.  Gotta love the neuroscience that supports the mind-emotion connection and the application in psychotherapy.

Stay tuned for more blog updates on the provocative topics here in DC ….

March 22, 2010

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Goethe quote

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.  It is my personal approach that makes the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

I possess tremendous power to make a life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a person humanized or dehumanized.

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.  If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them to become what they are capable of becoming.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

German poet, writer, philosopher


November 6, 2009

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Dr. Zimmer’s Wellness Topic on Strong Immune Systems

This week we discussed the pillars of health and how they contribute to strong immune systems. The pillars of health are:

1.The Mind/Body Connection

2. Digestion / Nutrition / Water

3. Sleep

4. Breathing

5. Exercise / Movement

At Pacific Quest all five of these pillars are reinforced daily leading to healthier and happier students.

Stay tuned for a more in depth bloq about these five pillars.

With the arrival of flu season in the northern hemisphere a discussion about the swine flu was sparked.  Receiving the vaccination and proper hygiene are important and seem to be the main focus of the news reports regarding the swine flu. But how about also emphasizing a healthy, robust immune system to lessen your chances of contracting the swine flu and to mute the course of the flu if you happen to catch it.

I asked the students what weakens the immune system and their answers were:

Sugar, Stress,  Poor sleep, Eating junk food, Not exercising, Stuffing your emotions, Smoking,  Alcohol

That’s Correct!

They have learned about the negative effects of these elements over the course of their wellness classes.

I asked them what they are doing here at Pacific Quest on a daily basis to keep their immune systems strong and healthy and they replied:

Exercising every morning, Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, Talking about our feelings, Sleeping at least 7 hours a night, Breathing fresh air, Drinking a lot of water,  Breathing exercises, Eating garlic, Getting vitamin D from the sun and Not eating all of our favorite junk foods.

A Recipe for Health!

I was very satisfied with their answers because one, they have learned these concepts during their stay here and two, they are engaging in these activities daily- creating healthy immune systems ready to withstand the flu season back on the mainland.

Yours in health,

Dr. Britta Zimmer