A Typical Mind-Body Medicine Session
In each session, students are introduced to a new mind-body skill and have the opportunity to practice and learn the theory behind its practice. This process may vary somewhat, depending on the size of the group and issues that are raised in relation to the practice of the technique. Of critical importance is the atmosphere of generous listening, confidentiality, safety, and respect that is facilitated by the group process.
All sessions begin with a five-minute opening meditation. Following the meditation, faculty requests updates on progress with assigned experiential exercises through a “check-in” process. During this weekly “check-in,” students are invited one at a time to discuss their progress, successes and challenges that come from practicing the assigned techniques. Faculty members also participate along with students, sharing their week’s experiences, reactions, and perceptions with the group. Following the check-in, a new mind-body skill is introduced by the faculty leader. At this time, techniques are explained and demonstrated, and if relevant, equipment is distributed for use. Students practice and process their understanding of this new skill and have an opportunity to reflect and ask questions. Sessions end with a closing meditation, followed by reminders for home practice assignments.
Expectations of students are that they will do “home practice” of the skills as they are learned, including the following for the duration of the course: write at least one journal entry each day, practice a form of meditation (sitting, walking, eating) for at least 10 minutes a day, three to five days per week, participate in one physical activity each day (walking, jogging, playing a sport), and complete additional assignments as they are distributed.
Mind Body Modalities
Autogenic Training is an approach to relaxation that uses specific verbal commands to bring about the relaxation response. Images of heaviness and warmth and attention to breath are used to evoke specific physiological responses. The autogenic techniques should be approached with an attitude of passive concentration for optimal results.
Biofeedback is the use of a measuring device to detect physiological changes and report these changes by means of auditory or visual aids. Biofeedback instruments typically measure behavior of the autonomic nervous system. A simple example of a biofeedback instrument is the thermistor. This device measures skin temperature and displays the results as a simple digital readout.
Studies show that group experience is beneficial in maintaining both physical and mental health. The experience of social connectedness enhances an individual’s ability to cope with physical illness and is suggested for a wide variety of physical and emotional conditions.
Imagery refers to the images that spontaneously arise from the subconscious mind to help the mind, the body and the spirit heal. Imagery may involve using symbols to imagine that the changes you desire in your body are actually happening. For example, you might imagine that pain is melting away and dripping like a warm liquid out of your fingertips. Or you might develop an image of your immune cells actively subduing and preying on cancer cells or viruses. This is a highly personalized method and it is most beneficial for each individual to use images that are uniquely meaningful for him/her.
Keeping a written journal of thoughts, feelings, and ideas helps to integrate and organize our complicated lives. Several proven benefits of journal writing include helping to resolve traumas that stand in the way of important tasks, remembering and healing significant events and turning points in our lives, capturing creative stories, poems and ideas, and helping to discover and define values and purpose in our lives.
Meditation is a process by which we go about deepening and focusing our attention and awareness intentionally and non-judgmentally in the present moment. Through careful systematic self-observation, we learn to live our lives with greater satisfaction, wisdom and harmony. Meditation may provide periods of stability, clarity, inner peace, balance, and perspective, while reducing pain, anxiety and depression.