Thursday, August 6, 2015

 

BLESSING ABOUND IN OUR FAMILY 
Today I visited my mother and father. I visit them weekly. My mother is 86 and my father is 89. He will turn 90 on November 10th this year. They both live in their home. Two weeks ago my mom was in the hospital and when she was released, the doctor ordered a home health care nurse for her, two days a week. She has her vital  signs monitored, blood drawn, and her medications organized. We agreed it was time for my father to see his doctor to review his need for a home health care nurse as well. He qualified, and today the nurse visited them both. It was a 2 and a 1/2 hour visit to establish their needs in the home. Having this care in the home brings such relief for us as they will be able to discuss their health concerns regularly with their nurse. My brothers installed a beautiful walk-in jacuzzi and bath tub a few years ago for them. They installed hand rails and guards where appropriate, inside and out.  As the nurse reviewed their needs, she did not need to add any updates to the home related to their safety at this time. There are many blessings running through our family. The most significant is the love and care the family is demonstrating for our parents as they grow older and their health needs increase due to their age. Strong, determined, independent souls, struggling to accept the reality of their life at this time. Blessing abound within our family and the strongest is our love. Strong, determined, independent children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren standing together in behalf of our parents.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Art Design by Chuck Britt

 Choosing my Experiences through Mind/Body/Sensate Awareness:
A Five Step Self Time Out Perspective

July 28, 2015

Throughout our lifespan our experiences create neural patterns within our brain and nervous system. Our experiences determine how and why and when we make the choices we do, each and every moment. Dr. Daniel Siegal stated, “The mind is the process of the regulation of energy and information flow.” From birth, experiences occurring in our bodies creates energy and information necessary for us to make decisions about what we are feeling and needing. We experience the sensations of the experiences we are having moment by moment within our bodies through the information that flows through the nervous system of the body/mind. It is this awareness of the sensations flowing within the body/mind that develops the genetic process of the maturation of the nervous system. We make choices for ourselves based on this incoming information. Am I safe? I need to know. The information guides my choices. How do I determine what is safe? How do I know when I am free of harm?  Before the cognitive mind, sometimes called the executive function, can play and learn and create, the emotional mind needs to know I am safe within my surroundings. 
As the growing individual learns to evaluate the risks of safety for themselves, the feelings that represent the question of “Am I safe”, do not change the risks of safety within the environment or whether it is safe or not. Developing internal and external boundaries supports the ability to notice if I am comfortable or not within my surroundings. It is the sensate awareness of the body/mind that alerts me to the risk factors involved within the environment. Sometimes called situational awareness, we learn to monitor the risk factors and determine needs and plans, based on feelings. The more opportunities we have for determining risk factors of safety through having role models and opportunities for developing appropriate feeling language and internal boundaries, the more we are able to use the information in our bodies to set limits and boundaries externally for ourselves.

The development of language is necessary to express feelings and needs the crucial part of being able to express what is going on within the body/mind. The more I am able to assess risk, determine the safety factors, pay attention to my feeling and needs, and label them,  the more likely I am able to develop plans that support healthy cognitive, physical, and social and emotional development for myself. I must have the language to be able to communicate my feelings and needs. The Five Step Self time Out process helps provide a pathway for developing feeling language to be able to label or name feelings.
 I learn to regulate and express my emotions from the role models in my life. As we grow and our nervous system develops, it is shaped by our ongoing experiences. When I have adult models in my life that show me how to love myself and care for myself, day by day, year by year, I learn that the body/mind flow of information and energy regulation, becomes how I care for myself. We have developed a way to share these common sense ideas which is based on the science of neuro-plasticity. We call the process a Five Step Self Time Out. You can find more about this at www.selftimeout.org When I learn language to describe what I am feeling and needing, I am learning to identify, label and process my feelings and needs (name or narrate the flow of the information and energy within my body/mind). Research in brain science now tells us that the brain can develop new neural patterns through our experiences, and throughout our lifespan, this is know as neurogenesis. Each time I take responsibility for regulating and expressing my feelings and needs, I am developing patterns within my body that determine the information needed to make plans to take care of myself. I can learn not to shame or blame or place anger on others or myself.  I can evaluate the risk factors for myself, I can create plans that take care of me.
Through the process of neurogenesis, the awareness and response to the sensations within the body/mind create new neurons, new patterns, and new connections, potentially replacing old patterns that may have caused harm to the nervous system. Because these neuronal patterns are created moment by moment throughout the lifespan, my ability to touch into my feelings continues to  grow and guide my ability to evaluate the risk factors within my surroundings. When feelings are clouded and are not identified, it leads to unsafe choices based on impulse and escalation. trauma nd confusion also creates neuronal patterns in the brain. Without awareness of my feelings and needs, I may not be able to evaluate safety for myself and therefore may inadvertently place myself or others at risk of harm. Through the healthy patterns developing within the nervous system, self-awareness and self-alertness continues to present information for understanding and evaluating my surroundings. As I develop the ability to monitor my surroundings through my sensate awareness, I can more consciously choose plans based on the incoming information and and less on escatlation and create new experiences for myself. Old habitual neural patterns are replaced with new neural patterns within the nervous system, allowing for movement out of stuck old frames of harmful, habitual choices and unwanted consequences. Over time, my cognitive and emotional body/mind is supported by the practice of these self-guided principles and tools. www.selftimeout.org  This type of practice, over time and from a neuro-science perspective, allows unresolved trauma and loss, specifically memory trauma, to heal.

Okay so you might ask yourself, what is my body actually communicating to me? How do I practice these principles to take care of the mood shifts occurring within my body?  Consider taking the opportunity to be open, curious, accepting, and loving of yourself and what your body is telling you through your feelings and moods. The process of mental well-being comes from the integration of mind/body awareness. Episodes of increased awareness of our experiences give us the information we need to make choices. This includes either explicit factual episodic memory, or implicit non-declarative forms of memory; both are affected by the process. This is called autonoetic: To be aware of one’s own existence as an entity in time. Autonoetic memory is defined as the process of remembering an experience or event, as well as the emotion/s that occurred, at the same time. Episodic memory or narrative therapy (telling your story) is the linear telling of the sequence of events and the mental experience of the characters within the event. Left hemisphere of the brain uses its assembly patterns to make since of and create a cohesive picture = coherence of an experience. Telling your story is an opportunity or loop for bringing cohesion to decision making by connecting to a part of the implicit or explicit memory. If this process can be practiced enough and become an enduring part of our self-care, it will serve the role of allowing us to live our lives with coherence and congruence. Creating many opportunities for healthy development throughout the lifespan.

Making plans and decisions based on feelings and needs, not on is happening outside of my body, creates a coherent process for continued body/mind/sensate awareness. As new neuron patterns develop, the opportunity for creating healthy safe choices based on risk factor evaluation matures.
Great News: Science is confirming that the process of neurogenesis continues throughout the lifespan. The hippocampus can grow new neurons and new synapses as we develop throughout our lives. The amygdala alerts us when we do not feel safe through our body/mind sensate awareness. Both of these portions of the brain work together (neuro-biological) to formulate information that is expressed in the sensate awareness of the body. Dr. Taylor states, “we are not thinking creatures who feel, we are feeling creatures who think.”  I love this statement because it confirms the purpose of the Five Step Self Time Out process. Awareness of the feelings within my body allows me to determine my needs and make new plans and decisions based on my current feelings and needs, different outcomes and experiences will occur as I move through my surroundings.
I can pay attention is where the neural firing will occur. Awareness, not just the reaction of the experience, permeates firing connections of the development of new neurons, thus altering the very structure of the brain, this is called neuro-plasticity. Physical exercise also promotes neuro-plasticity. Therefore it is important exercise as much as the body can adjust to doing. Exercise is a very important part of mind and brain health.
I am responsible for my choices and experiences throughout my lifespan. I can choose to take a Five Step Self Time Out based on my current feelings and needs. New experiences, new information means energy regulation of body/mind sensate awareness is flowing and not stuck. This process allows for the connections in the brain to change, i.e. neuro-genesis. It allows for the development of congruent (something that agrees with or is in harmony with another) and cohesion (how well something fits together) life choice experiences to occur in calm, safe neuro-network patterns. The more I am aware of my mood, the more defined my language will become and my ability to identify, label and process what I am feeling and needing will guide the process of making plans based on the current data in my body/mind. The more I choose to evaluate the risk factors within my environment and surroundings, the more I am able to choose safe, calm plans based on my mind/body sensate awareness (feelings and needs) and not on what or who I think is irritating me outside of myself.

Definitions

Executive function: (also known as cognitive control and supervisory attentional system) is an umbrella term for the management (regulation, control) of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving as well as planning and execution.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_functions
 
The emotional mind: The knowledge and skills that you develop to accurately identify and express your emotions are essential to living a long and healthy life. Your physical health is directly related to your ability to regulate and express strong emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness. Although you may not be able to choose your emotions, you can learn to choose how to express them. Regulating the intensity and duration of your strong emotions is a necessary life skill”. http://www.pearsonhighered.com  

References

Dr. Daniel Siegal, Author and speaker. Book, “The Developing Mind.” Psychotherapy Networker audio course, “Psychotherapy from the Inside Out: The Brain of The Mindful Therapist Fullfillment.”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: Author and speaker. Book, “My Stroke of Insight”. TED talk “My stroke of insight”. And “The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain.”
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science; April 2011. “Increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis is sufficient to improve pattern separation.”