Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Guest Post by The Brilliant Shawngela Pierce

Meditation and Mental Health Issues

Before we get into our discussion about meditation and mental health issues, let’s first discuss meditation and its many benefits. While there are many ways to define meditation, I like to define it as focus. It is focus to the extent that all external stimuli diminish outside of where your focus is directed. Whether you are focused on your breath, a mantra, a visualization, your movement, a scripture, etc., you are still focused on just that.

Now, what is the purpose of this “extreme” focus. This extreme focus causes your mind to quiet. Now why is that important? Well, your thoughts affect your health, physically and mentally. Your body doesn't know the difference between what it sees and what it is experiencing. If you are lying in bed or just wake up in the morning thinking about a stressful situation, your body is undergoing physiological changes. Your heart rate is increasing, your blood pressure is rising and other sympathetic events are occurring. The same physiological reaction occurs if you were actually in the situation. As you can clearly see, your thoughts are affecting your health. Which means all of your thoughts from the moment you awaken to the moment that you fall asleep.

Meditation affects the body in exactly the opposite ways that stress does. When you meditate on a regular basis, your body will be restored to a calm state, your mind clears, the body will repair itself, your immune function will increase and new damage due to the effects of stress is prevented. As you meditate, your heart rate and breathing slow down, your blood pressure normalizes, you use oxygen more efficiently, you sweat less and your adrenal glands produce less cortisol. When you meditate, you learn to ground yourself and literally get out of your mind. This releases you from the borage of negative thoughts that cause a stress response. Overtime, there is a shift into a more quiet, focused and tranquil mind.

In addition to all of these benefits, there is recent evidence that meditation effects your gene expression. In the study a group of experienced meditators practiced mindfulness over an 8-hour period while the control group simply engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. The genes of both were tested beforehand with no differences, however, after the 8-hour period, there was a decrease in expression of inflammatory genes for the experienced meditators. Despite having the same genetic makeup the expression in the region associated with inflammation was decreased. That is pretty amazing to me and something I have held as true for many years. Meditation can affect your genes. Now that is something you cannot bottle in a pill.

It is in my opinion that all mental health issues can benefit from meditation. The extent to which one will benefit can, of course, be debated. Despite this, meditation should definitely be in your "toolbox" that you use to treat your mental health issue. Meditation does not have to be the soul treatment, it is a good idea to use meditation as a complement to whatever treatment you are undergoing or that you plan to undergo. Many causes of mental health are exasperated by your thoughts and stress. If you learn to dissipate those thoughts, you will feel a tremendous benefit in your mental health.

I will caution though that people with depression, past experiences of trauma or mental illnesses that often lead to addictions, may find themselves feeling increasingly anxious during meditation, no matter how much they try to focus on the moment. Or they may be plagued by intrusive thoughts, feelings and images of the past during their meditation exercises. For these individuals or for those who feel they need more guidance, it is best to find an experienced meditation instructor. There are ways and techniques that you can use to help guide you through these moments of getting “stuck” in ruts like rumination. An expert can let you know what to expect and offer emotional support to help you get through the rough spots.

About The Author
Shawngela Pierce is an educator, author, reiki practitioner, business owner and meditation instructor who specializes in mindfulness meditation and qigong (chee gong). She is an avid meditator with a daily meditation practice of over 2 hours. She has a masters degree in the field of education with 3 1/2 years of post-masters education in naturopathic medicine. This includes mind-body therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), botanical medicine, nutrition, hydrotherapy as well as other healing modalities. She loves teaching, which is something she has done for over 15-years. She designed the Meditation for Health Program to help people utilize the benefits of meditation as well as other holistic lifestyle changes to live a harmonious and care-free life. 

You can find Shawngela at +Seek Within You | Meditation for Health


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Guest Post Monday by Shawngela Pierce

Do you remember when I told you that someone had suggested adding Omega-3 Fatty Acids to my diet to help with my arthritis pain. If you did not have the opportunity to read that was brilliant :)
Omega-3 Post The person that had given me that little bit of advice, little meaning it absolutely changed my entire quality of life, was Shawngela Pierce. I had hoped that we would be able to have Shawngela join us at some point as she is just an absolute font of information.  Shawngela has been extremely busy with her own business but graciously agreed to pop by Monday for a discussion on the benefits of meditation.  If you have not tried meditation yet you should. It is extremely hard at first but with time you will find it gets easier and pays huge dividends in your well being. Please stop by next Monday and be sure to leave Shawngela a comment about your experience with meditation. I am sure if you post any questions she will be glad to answer. Have a wonderful weekend, take care of yourself out there! My thoughts and prayers are with you always.
If you want to learn more about Shawngela Pierce or meditation please visit her +Seek Within You | Meditation for Health

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Doctor's Office

Oh come on, really? You believed that title? I am disappointed in you.  You should know by now that I hate, hate, hate the drive to Hotel Dieu. That being said, i did like my new therapist. His approach to the entire first appointment made me know that he and I would work well together.  First of all his office was not all plush and overly designed to make you almost forget someone was picking your brain,. I like that. There were no fluffy pillows or plump chairs that you sink way to far into. He did however sit in a regular chair, not in front of his computer screen taking notes or checking email. Another plus. Ok, so the man had a leg up on the situation since he already knew that I am very interested in learning about Acceptance Commitment Therapy and he is an expert in that field. We will overlook that for now.  I think that I had set myself up to think that this Dr. was going to dispel my enthusiasm for this therapy by somehow popping the bubble of hope I had been allowing to build in me since learning a tiny bit about ACT during my summer reading.  He didn't! He seemed to think that I was a very good candidate for it. So now I have to wait until there are enough people with anxiety disorders to run a group. That should be easy right? If you know of anyone with these disorders in my local area please send them to this guy!!...(just kidding)...So he is projecting February should be the start date of the group. This is the best part. He gives homework! That means that I will have an organized path to recovery. Whatever that recovery may look like.  So once again I feel that I am moving in the right direction. I will share anything that I learn as we progress through the program. He mentioned that the book that the therapy is based on is "Get out of your mind, and into your life" by Stephen C.  Hayes. I am hoping that your life is heading in the right direction today. If it's not, tomorrow you will have the chance to try again. My thoughts and prayers are with you.-Tracy

Steven C. Hayes (born 1948)[1] is Nevada Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is known for an analysis of human language and cognition (Relational Frame Theory), and its application to various psychological difficulties (his work on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).