The Relief of Oblivion:
A Clinical Perspective

Mindfulness has indeed become an industry. Slowly gaining credibility in psychological sciences, mindful practices began as an “alternative” therapeutic approach borrowed from Eastern spiritual traditions. Coupled with growing interests in Yoga and Buddha breathing techniques, mindfulness practices have greatly impacted the mental health and wellness industry.

As a loyal proponent of self-care, I quickly adopted Yoga and mindful breathing techniques in the 1990’s while providing front-line mental health services and growing my own family. I was accutely aware of the vicarious stress created by social work in mental health, child and family, primary health, education and child protection roles. At the time, I opted to take Eli Bay’s Beyond Stress Course offered through his Relaxation Institute in Toronto. The course attendees included Medical Doctors, Lawyers, School Administrators, Business Leaders, and parents.

Eli’s work on biofeedback and visualization enhanced the medical credibility of integrative breathing work in heart-health and post-trauma care. Research demonstrated that individuals recovering from heart attacks or tragic accidents held “memories” of this trauma in their bodies for years. For more information on Eli’s pioneering career, please see https://www.innercalmonline.com/. Since this early research, more science has been conducted on the deep experiences of trauma in the body even at the cellular level. The advent of neuroscience further illuminates links between trauma on the body and human emotion.

There is ample evidence that the mastery of deep diaphragmatic breathing and visualization strategies helps people to better manage or “regulate” emotions such as anxiety and anger. The popularity of these strategies is mostly due to the effective impact of conscious breathing on your ability to control your emotions.

However, there is also the possibility that with increased mindfulness you experience a type of behavioural paralysis, such that the analytic-rational parts of your mind oppress your intuition or broadly speaking intuitive/organic feelings and movements. It is possible to overly self-regulate and to forget to allow the easy intuitive flow of your inner emotional life to occur.

Once again, the clinician occupies this space of in-between the rational and intuitive spheres of being human.

It is in this very experience of being human that you are reminded about the need for balance and called to a fundamentally important concept in systems theory in social work referred to as homeostasis. In clinical social work terms, homeostasis is the ever-present desire to experience stability, balance, contentment or emotional calm.

In this light, there is a gift of oblivion – moments where you trust your auto-pilot or intuition when it is turned on. Ironically, you are less likely to notice when you engage your world in a less mindful, oblivious, and automatic fashion. An experience like brushing your teeth and forgetting whether you used the bathroom cup to rinse out your mouth or the cup of your hand in absence of the cup in the room. In the end, the cup itself does not really matter to your overall teeth-cleaning experience. However, noting whether or not the cup was acutally present in the room may indicate your level of awareness during the activity.

Sometimes, it is very important to be mindfully aware of the cup in your teeth-brushing routine, and at other times, it is okay to be oblivious to it. In my view, oblivion is a gift when life is extremely stressful. Moments of feeling completely lost in your intuitive creativity such as being fully engrossed in painting, guitar strumming, piano playing, writing, or dancing are examples of healing oblivion.

The artisit in many ways has this gifted sensibility of uninterrupted intuition and sustained creative focus that both, best, represents and captures that which we view as being human or simply put, the human experience. It is in this space of cultivating creative human hobbies that we offer this gift of oblivion to our children and ourselves.

You deserve moments of intuitive mindlessness. Perhaps, during this Covid19 pandemic you are more aware than ever about the demands placed on your cognitive functioning. Unlike any other time in history, your brain is procesing and multi-processing information at a rate and level that traditional literacy did not expect. Of course, artisitic creativity involves cognition and cognitive processing. However, free-flowing creative experiences feel differently, and clinically speaking are healing.

In the words of Eli Bay – enjoy your time of just being and find what the space between your thoughts feels like to you!!!

Dr. Lisa Romano-Dwyer PhD, RSW Sunny dispositions deserve to shine.

#wellness #healing #healthy #Covid19 #isolatecreate

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