Well, we’re delighted to tell you that the very gifted Traci Stein PhD has recorded yet another terrific hypnosis/guided imagery audio for Health Journeys – this one to help people get unstuck from old patterns and ingrained, dysfunctional behaviors that no longer make sense (if they ever did).
Creating Positive Change
should be ready as a download by April 10, and as a packaged CD in the warehouse by April 30. Stay tuned and we’ll let you know.
This week’s Ask Belleruth, submitted for a friend whose health and well-being apparently fell apart after what turned out to be a cardiac scare, highlights some key points about traumatic stress that may be useful for some to know.
Sometimes it explains some baffling goings-on for some people. Because, even though this person wound up not having suffered a heart attack after all, she was horribly scared, and that’s what can create the conditions for posttraumatic stress – the scare and the response generated by our built-in survival mechanisms.
The Hot Research for this week illuminates a simple point, seems to me – that for smoking cessation, a single group session of anything – whether it’s relaxation or hypnosis - isn’t going to get a whole lot of traction.
Each week we get queries from practitioners with a product they’d like to sell – an audio or video – wondering if we’d review it for possible inclusion in our catalog.
We’re always on the lookout for stellar mind-body resources to add to our list. We focus on guided imagery, hypnosis and meditation materials, but we also carry a limited amount of yoga, qigong, energy psychology, acupressure and acupoint tapping guided materials as well.
It’s got to be high quality content – psychologically and/or medically sophisticated, respectful, non-cheesy and based on sound principles. It has to be spoken in good English (or Spanish). It also has to be well produced and well packaged.
We send people back to the drawing board if they’ve got what we think is excellent content but poorly made, and ask them to do it again if they’re serious about us carrying it.
This Wednesday, there's a
free teleseminar by Helen Fisher (author of Why Him? Why Her?) on The Brain in Love.... a short course on the neurobiology of romance, and
why a break-up can be akin to withdrawal from narcotics. (Yep - been
there, done that, in my misspent youth.... definitely not a day at the
beach, and this explains why...)
You can get the intriguing science behind our not-so-rational behavior when
we're besotted, along with some practical insights and useful approaches to
attachment and detachment, by clicking here.
Last week I gave a workshop on guided imagery for the Integrative Medicine in Residency Training at Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona – this is the institution created by Andrew Weil MD to train docs in what used to be called the CAM therapies, and built up beyond recognition by Executive Director Victoria Maizes MD and her talented colleagues.
The people in the audience were their town’s local champions in integrative medicine – the ones who train residents in primary care and pediatrics at 47 major hospitals around the country. (The program started 5 years ago with only a handful of hospitals participating).
The field is growing by leaps and bounds, mainly thanks to this Center, which has trained over 1000 fellows over the past several years. Chances are there’s a hospital near you that has a new Integrative Medicine Dept, run by somebody trained here. In fact, I chatted with a doc from the Cleveland Clinic whom I’d never met at home.
Well, February is Heart Month, and we’re featuring our 2 popular heart kits: Heal Your Emotional Heart is designed to help those burdened by heartache, to remediate all the emotional wear and tear that goes with being disappointed in a relationship.
Broken hearts are especially hard on people around Valentine’s Day, with all the lovey-dovey promo and romanticized advertising going on everywhere.
I’m struck by the windfall of guided imagery and hypnosis studies that drop weekly into my virtual cubby at the National Library of Medicine these days.
I remember when I was hard pressed to find even one new research citation a month for this blog, and I’d scour and email every source I could find to come up with something – anything – to post on our research page.
Now I can’t keep up with it all. I’m hard pressed to choose which abstracts to use. Entering the search terms “guided imagery, hypnosis, meditation, relaxation, visualization, biofeedback”, I’ll easily get a hundred studies each week to choose from.
We now have thousands of abstracts of mind-body studies for you to flip through, archived by topic, on our Hot Research pages.
For me personally, this past week has seen the death of three close friends – two expected and one a complete surprise.
All of this reminded me that January is a month that seems to appeal to the Grim Reaper – at least in colder climes, it does.
So I guess it’s once again time to post these tips. Some are for people who are grieving. Others are for friends, family and even random acquaintances.
So here goes:
If you’re grieving:
Take care of your energy. Rest. Don’t overdo. You’ll be more tired
and more vulnerable to illness during this time if you don’t. So pick
and choose priorities, and treat yourself gently and well.
Pay attention to what you feel like doing and what you don’t feel
like doing, and, if it’s not too outrageous or expensive, follow suit.
Don’t be afraid of your sadness. It won’t kill you. It’s just a
feeling, after all, and you’ll feel better and more energized for
letting it move through you. Besides, you will use up tons of energy
avoiding it, and it will catch up to you and bite you on the butt
anyway. In the beginning it will come and go in waves, and, just like
labor contractions, there’s relief in the in-between times. Later on it
will be more like a flavoring that seeps into the day. This softens over
Be patient. This takes longer than most of us think. Trust that people who think you should be over it already are clueless.
The update was written by Maggie DeMellier - filling in for Belleruth this week.
I used to be hungry, lazy and in a bad mood from fall until spring. It took mindfulness and a move to California and back to Ohio for me to arrive at an appreciation of winter. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I hated winter. I would hide out and count the days until spring. I moved to California more than 15 years ago, and learned you can actually live where ice does not fall out of the sky and you don’t have to scrape it off your car for half of the year. When I had to move back to Ohio, my dislike of winter turned to abject hatred. I refused to buy a winter coat for the first two years I was here, because I felt that would mean I was staying here and I longed to return to Berkeley.
Not having a warm coat made winter even more brutal (a great example of how it is your resistance to ‘what is’ that causes your suffering). I cursed the snow and ice and gloomy days. My kids and pets seemed to have no problems with the transition. My California cat jumped from my deck into a snow drift during our first winter here. I fretted and fished her out, placed her safely on the deck and she did it again. In an attempt to make my world more Berkeley-like, I began regular meditation and found some groups to join and classes to take. I read everything I could find on meditation and being in the moment. Then came the acceptance and realization that winter is as necessary in life as spring and summer - and every breath, like every moment, truly is precious and should not be wished away. With that acceptance came a different lifestyle and relief from my symptoms of SAD.
I just got an email from a good friend, Priscilla Warner (author of Learning to Breathe, a beautifully written, carefully researched but fun-to-read bestseller on how she overcame her panic attacks and fear of flying…) This, by the way, was something she really needed to do, being as how she was scheduled to go on a 52-city, international book tour to promote an earlier bestseller, The Faith Club. Learning to Breathe is simply a terrific book, with great practical value for anyone who suffers from debilitating fear of any kind. So if you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to check it out.
But I digress. She sent me this picture of her puppy, Charlie, enjoying some guided imagery, one of the early tools Priscilla used to overcome her panic attacks.
Hello again. I trust you’re all remembering to write “2014” now, on your checks and letters. I’m not – never do. But I should get the hang of it by April or May.
Word from the office is that we’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from folks who are feeling pretty overwhelmed by life in general, and wondering what might help get them back on track. The staff has been throwing around suggestions on what to recommend.
I think that for feeling overloaded and overwhelmed, the best thing to do is to get centered and grounded. There are so many simple practices that can very quickly help us tune out all the noise and overstimulation that surrounds us, and instead drive awareness inward, to the peaceful stillness at our center.
I want to wish everyone the happiest and most satisfying of new years!
Thanks for all the support, suggestions, encouragement, critiquing, good wishes and thoughtful feedback you gave us in 2013. Please keep those indispensible comments coming in 2014. We need them. They keep us on track and remind us of what we’re all about.
Somehow I’d neglected to check my messages on Facebook for a while, so imagine my surprise when I came across a cache of 371 birthday wishes, many from trauma survivors, veterans, active duty service people, and folks battling anxiety and panic. They were expressing their thanks for the help they’d gotten from guided imagery. What a birthday present!
It’s so easy to lose touch with the impact we’re having on a day to day basis, especially when dealing with large, slow-moving organizations and unwieldy bureaucracies. Then you get a dose of heartfelt gratitude from a bunch of individual people, mostly strangers, and all the hard work makes sense. Wow!