Cultivating Calm

Mindfulness has become a popular approach in mental health counselling. Stemming from Eastern philosophies and spirituality, practitioners have adapted and secularized therapeutic aspects of deep focus, stillness, reflective introspection, and purposeful breathing.

The evolution of Mindful practice first began in heart attack recovery, pain management and rehab services, and now in mental health.

A calm lake is priceless imagery.

There are several relaxation videos and recordings that teach mindfulness techniques. In simple terms, you learn to really pay attention to what you are doing every moment of the day.

Mindfulness practices help you to be more aware of what you do and feel each day. It helps to draw you from states of distraction or busyness that can contribute to stress and overwork. It also helps you to connect to activities that cause you stress and what to do differently.

Some people infuse a prayerful element to mindfulness practice, rather than using affirmations or triggering words. There is a lot of evidence that cultivating a sense of calm each day heals the heart and your overall wellness.

Yoga is another simple way to grow your awareness between your movement and breath, as well as stress and any lingering aches and pains in your body. It helps you to notice damage caused by repetitive motions at work, lifting heavy objects, workload issues or emotional problems.

Mindfulness used in mental health counselling is not a spiritual practice. You are not expected to pray or learn a new religion. Instead, mindfulness strategies will help you to be more aware of the way you go about the business of your day and how it impacts you.

Speak up if you feel weird or awkward in your psychotherapy session. Feel confident to express that you have your own spiritual practice or religion and that you are interested in therapeutic mindfulness strategies only.

Mindful eating and now mindful alcohol-use are growing in popularity as harm reducing activities. Are you aware of the amount of beer or wine you are consuming or do you fail to count or notice how many drinks you have had before feeling unwell?

A skilled clinician can help you become more mindful of your habits, words, and behaviours that are automatic to you, yet harmful to your health in the long run. Enjoy the benefits that stem from lower blood pressure, diaphragmatic breathing, and alert mental acuity. This investment to your wellness is guaranteed!

#mindfulness #counselling #wellness #psychotherapy

Is marriage a Sacred Bond?

Marriage is a commitment like no other

All politics aside, marriage is a commitment between two people that requires nurturing, time, and care like no other. Often pushed to the edge of everyday living, it is quite miraculous when two people are able to remain together committed in and to marriage over the long term. What is the secret to a “happy” marriage many people ask? How is it possible that the two of you are still going along so well together – after all this time?

Of course as a therapist, I have firsthand experiences working with many people over the years who encounter serious and unexpected events in their marriages. Many times, perhaps too often, marriages do fall apart due to neglect, distraction, and perhaps, ingratitude. Mostly, marriages end when new relationships have been given permission to begin. In other words, people will often stay in very unhappy unions until they open their heart to another caring ear, wandering eye, or helping hand. Sadly, some relationships grow apart emotionally, physically and spiritually. It may feel easier to move forward with someone new instead of continuing to try with a partner who no longer meets your needs for love, affection, fun, personal growth, intellectual advancement, and sexual fulfillment.

There are many important dimensions to a happy and healthy marriage. These areas of personal wellness become increasingly apparent when married couples decide to have children together and to grow a family. The presence of children certainly changes things! Priorities, timelines, behaviours, sacrifices, everyday duties, and responsibilities grow and change in relation to the beautiful and blessed gift that children bring to married couples in love. Brought forth into this world through a healthy marital bed, children dramatically change the lives of couples in the most uplifting and happy ways. As two people age together, and have the blessed experience of becoming grandparents, the “tough” days seem irrelevant cast in the light of hope that new life promises to bring.

I am definitely not qualified to discern whether marriage is in fact a sacred union. But, when I meet two married people who demonstrate deep love, affection, and respect for one another – the glow of something more powerful and larger than even the couple can explain seems very real to me. There is no doubt in my mind that marriage is truly a sacred bond between two people in love. A bond so deep, powerful, and beautiful that it can last a lifetime. Deciding to hold a traditional marriage ceremony that seeks a holy blessing can only help in our world riddled with loneliness, sadness, and despair.

How do you congratulate newly married couples, parents, and grandparents? What are some of the important ways you deliberately nurture your marriage and honour the power of your holy union everyday? Do you think your marriage will last? What proof do you have? Make it your daily habit to remind yourself about how lucky you are to have a lifelong companion with whom you share laughter, joy, sex, and just ordinary stuff!

BE THINK AND DO WELLNESS

Healthy Touch

Resilient children grow into caring & compassionate adults softening hearts of stone.

This past May, I attended the Annual Roots of Empathy Symposium here in Toronto sponsored by Mary Gordon and her team of dedicated staff and volunteers https://rootsofempathy.org/2019symposium/. Mary’s work has a strong hold in most schools in the Greater Toronto Area, surrounding regions, and across Canada. She also has research affiliates in Ireland and the USA. Her work, career, and extraordinary dedication to children and early prevention strategies is inspiring. Having started a clinical social work career in early years services, I was very fortunate to learn theoretical and practical approaches to parenting that really work to grow healthy and resilient children over the long term. Dr. Clinton, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, division of Child Psychiatry reminded everyone about the essential nature of human touch and infant development.

Close to thirty years ago, the Hanen Approach was just beginning to reap the benefits of its piloted projects across this city. A unique blend of psychiatry, speech and language pathology, and social work, the Hanen Approach aimed to support healthy attachments between moms and babies. Research showed that a consistently caring and nurturing response style, eye contact, touching, and communication improved overall health and wellness in all children and adults, but especially in children with identified developmental delays in areas of speech, behaviour, and pretend & cooperative play http://integratedtreatmentservices.co.uk/our-approaches/speech-therapy-approaches/hanen-programme/.

Healthy human touch is essential and natural to human growth and emotional wellness. There are countless studies that reveal the negative impacts of significant caregiving relationships impoverished of human touch. People with histories of early trauma, emotional neglect, sexual, or physical abuse often develop problems with creating healthy boundaries in relation to personal body space. Some people may be overly vigilant and self-protective becoming touch adverse. Some people have loose boundaries standing too close to people waiting in line, rubbing a woman’s breast or a man’s bottom while standing or sitting next to them on public transit, or touching someone’s arm, baby-bump, or face without permission for example. There are social and cultural norms as well as professional training that shape how, when, why, and where people engage in human touch. The key here is speaking up honestly when you feel uncomfortable about someone’s unwanted touch.

More research is being explored about the prescribed use of touch therapy with patients suffering severe PTSD and other debilitating health conditions. It is imperative that clinicians feel comfortable with setting appropriate professional boundaries created with clients seeking counselling therapies from you. Clinical practice with children, adolescents, and adults do not require deliberate practices of human touch. There are other effective strategies such as voice tone, eye contact, and humour that help to reassure and co-regulate human emotion as people talk and/or process feelings about experiences or situations with you. Referring clients to therapeutic massage is suggested for people you assess would benefit from healthy human touching in a clinical milieu.

#wellness #healing #health #hugs #parenting