Insight Mind Body Talk

Most Downloaded Episode #1: The Mind-Body Connection

June 05, 2022 Jessica Warpula Schultz, LMFT Season 1 Episode 34
Insight Mind Body Talk
Most Downloaded Episode #1: The Mind-Body Connection
Show Notes Transcript

We at Insight Mind Body Talk have decided our official season will run September – May, taking each summer to re-visit our “most downloaded” episodes. Why most downloaded? Jess may have her favorites, Jeanne too, but what matters most to IMBT is listening to your voice. And we heard you loud and clear through the number of downloads each episode received.  What does re-visiting mean? Well, basically, that you’ll be hearing the original episode again. But this time, prior to the episode, Jess will giving inside information about her thoughts on the content, highlighting key moments, and sharing additional tips not mentioned during the episode. 

In "The Mind-Body Connection", Jess and Jeanne begin a conversation about what the mind/body connection is and why it's important. You'll learn how the brain differs from the mind, how the body works in relationship to our brain and nervous system, as well as how the body influences our mind, emotions, thoughts, and memories. 


Continue Learning

  • The Polyvagal Theory 
    • The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.  Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. 
    • www.stephenporges.com 
  • Deb Dana
    • Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation.  Deborah A. Dana, LCSW Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of the Polyvagal Theory. Deborah A. Dana, LCSW 
    • www.rhythmofregulation.com 
  • Pat Ogden
    • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy 
    • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Trauma and Attachment. Pat Ogden & Janina Fisher
    • Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy. Pat Ogden, Kekuni Minton, Clare Pain
    •  www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org 
  • Neuroscience 
    • Neuroscience for Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation. Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.  



Produced by Jessica Warpula Schultz
Edited by Jessica Warpula Schultz

Music by Jason A. Schultz

[00:00:00] Hi, it's Jess your friendly body centered marriage and family therapist. And cohost of Insight Mind Body Talk. I'd like to take a moment to thank you for your support. Insight mind, body talk has been on the air. For an entire year now. When we started, we could only imagine the type of guests, topics and mind, body information we could pass on to our listeners. 

And now as we look back. We couldn't be prouder of the content we have produced for you in large part because of the amazing guests who have so willingly donate their time and talents. To better our community and spread awareness about the importance of mental health. I sincerely thank each one of them. 

As you've heard on previous episodes, we've been growing and changing at Insight Counseling & Wellness. [00:01:00] The mothership of insight, mind, body talk. We have a new aerial yoga studio, a new branch office in Verona, Wisconsin. And we took a mindful pause to think about the growth and direction of the podcast. 

With that we've decided Insight Mind Body Talk's, official season we'll run September through may, each year. Taking every summer to revisit our most downloaded episodes. Why most downloaded? I may have my favorites. Jeanne does too. But what matters most to us is listening to your voice. And we heard you loud and clear through the number of downloads each episode got. 

What does Reavis. Revisiting mean. Well, basically. You'll be hearing the original episode again. But this time prior to every episode, I'll be giving inside information about my. My thoughts on the content. I'll highlight key moments and I'll be [00:02:00] sharing additional tips not mentioned during the. Episode. 

So it will be definite. Definitely worth tuning. Tuning in on the. The first and third Monday. Of June, July. In August, I promise. Promise. 

Again is my greatest joy to produce and cohost Insight Mind Body Talk and I thank you for coming back week after week. I look forward to bringing you season two in September. 

Uh, for now. Let's get into our first, most downloaded episode. The Mind Body Connection. I'm so happy. This is the first episode we're featuring because it's an introduction of sorts, at least an introduction through Jeanne and my eyes of body centered practices in psychotherapy. We set the. Stage for answering how. Can you improve your mental health? By listening to the wisdom of the body. We discussed trauma. The brain and nervous system and work hard to de-stigmatize through education, a [00:03:00] person's responses to difficult events. The episode is really about the mind and body and how strongly they are connected. 

 It hits home the point that we are not floating hands walking around this world And we talk about why we need to bring the body into the healing process Behind the mic i remember Being incredibly nervous because it was not only our first episode but When you listen you'll hear the topic is very vast and so important to our work as somatic therapists. I just remember worrying you know how are we going to cover it all But really we couldn't we had to decide This is what we've learned and this is how we've conceptualized the information And now we have to hold hands with the universe and hope it comes across to you the listener In an approachable and meaningful way And personally i mean i was petrified i wouldn't [00:04:00] explain things right I wouldn't get it right i would let our field down and i would let you our listeners down So when i listen back to this most downloaded episode I can hear these parts of me who weren't quite ready to set a script down yet and maybe maybe you'll hear it too. maybe not But that's okay I love growing with Insight Mind Body Talk, and with you That being said Thank you again for listening This episode talks a lot about safety the felt experience of being safe Within ourselves within relationships And within our healing process until next time Take care Welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-based mental health podcast. We're your hosts, Jessica Warpula [00:05:00] Schultz and Jeanne Kolker. Whether you've tried everything to feel better and something is still missing or you've already discovered the wisdom of the body. This podcast will encourage and support you in healing old wounds, strengthening relationships, and developing your inner potential- all by accessing the mind body connection. 

Please know, while we're excited to share and grow together. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. It doesn't replace the one-on-one relationship you have with a qualified healthcare professional and is not considered psychotherapy. 

Thanks Jess. And thank you for listening. Now, let's begin a conversation about what happens when we take an integrative approach to improving our wellbeing. Welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk. Today's episode is the first part of a conversation between myself and my cohost Jeanne Kolker. We began exploring the min- body connection and how we can [00:06:00] improve our mental health by listening to the wisdom of the body. 

Jeanne, I'm excited to share this adventure with you. Thanks Jess. It's really wonderful to be here. 

Jess (2): I appreciate your passion for this 

I think that's how we found each other. After all these years, we've known each other for quite some time. We have, we have. Our listeners might not know this, but Jeanne and I met, maybe 10 years ago, volunteering at Briarpatch Youth Services here in Madison. And now the universe has brought us body-centered minds back together.

Yes. Yeah. I think it was meant to be okay. I agree. I agree. Well, great. Okay. So today we get to have a conversation about how the mind and body are connected. What causes the mind body to disconnect at times and why our lives are richer when we take a mind-body perspective to mental health. Let's begin by talking [00:07:00] about "What does the body have to do with problems?". Often when we're thinking about the difficulties we experience in life and the things that we're working through, it may not come to the forefront of our thought process. THat the body's actually also involved and that there's a innate wisdom there that we can tap into.

 How would you describe how the body gets involved in those difficulties that we experience in life? Yeah, that's a great question. Just, I think, our medical model typically looks at things just from a symptom perspective, right? So you've got a broken arm, you go to the doctor and you get it set.

You've got symptoms of depression and anxiety. You go and you talk about it, right? And it's, it's very separate. But we know that's not the case. Our bodies are where we experience life and we have to go through the body door in order to really work on healing, our [00:08:00] whole person.

Our thoughts, our emotions, and our physical self too, it all is connected in that way. And I think that it's emerging, you know, obviously we're here standing on the shoulders of a lot of recent research from all sorts of sources that are proving sematic approaches are evidence-based. They are the way to heal a lot of what we would call problems.

Right. It's not necessarily just about. Talking about what's going on in our lives. That doesn't necessarily help us heal. We actually have to embody it. We have to create safety in our bodies in order to heal whatever traumas we've experienced. And we might not even think, "Oh, I don't have trauma" but we all have some.

You know, yeah . Just walking around in the world is traumatic sometimes. I totally agree. Yes. I, I often say that, I used to [00:09:00] tell people that I was a trauma therapist and then it dawned on me one day that actually every therapist is a trauma therapist because every person we've all, if you're human, you've experienced some form of trauma at some point.

And it's not just our mind or our brain, that experiences that, our body's always with us. It's always a part of the initial event and it's also a part of the solution. So, I love that as a marriage and family therapist, we talk a lot about how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

If you think of a family system. How all of those interactions come together to create a family, you think about the body, the mind, the brain, digestive system, you know, everything--our muscles, bones, how it all comes together to create this holistic system. I really like how you're considering how the body is the key to healing. I believe that to as a body-based therapist. 

Jeanne, from your perspective, as a licensed professional counselor, a yoga [00:10:00] teacher, a yoga therapist, how have you witnessed the healing capacity of the wisdom of the body? Yeah, that's, that's a great question that I could talk about for hours. You, you know, our ultimate goal in therapy and, in our own lives is, is empowerment, right?

We want to be empowered to make choices that support our growth, our health, to be empowered, to own the things that we've done, that we're carrying, that have been done to us. To be able to really be in a space of making choices that support our growth. And somatic treatments and yog a, when we talk about somatic treatments, that's the body, right? That's just fancy word for the body. Yep. Somatic treatments. They help us reconnect to our bodies and that's where then we can regain a sense of control. Because when we've experienced trauma, it's the ultimate lack of control. It's the ultimate lack of choice.[00:11:00] 

It's, it's an overwhelming thing that has stolen our ability to make choices and to take action in an empowered way. So we use yoga, I use yoga, especially. I feel like it's just, it's the treatment that resonates with me. It is. It is the medicine that I have found the most useful in my own experience.

 I have a lot of history with yoga because it is something that's been very resonant for me in my healing journey. When I was a child, I was sick a lot. I had a lot of physical issues and it turned out I had an autoimmune disease that was very rare in little kids. And it was misdiagnosed and I just, I spent a lot of my childhood sick and in a body that I couldn't trust. I couldn't do what everybody else was doing. There was no way for me to even do any like physical exercise. My body just wouldn't support it.

So [00:12:00] I developed this really unhealthy relationship with exercise. It felt like punishment. It felt like danger because my body wasn't equipped to do it. And I healed, you know, eventually as I grew. And I didn't really start to heal until I stepped on a yoga mat and started to actually pay attention to the cues and the signals in my body. It was not something that I had ever learned before through no fault of anyone's. It's just, it wasn't a relationship that was able to develop. I found a lot of healing for myself through yoga and I wanted to share that with people. And of course you start teaching yoga. That's what you do. Right. You're you know, you do personal training. I became a fitness instructor. I saw how it was helping people. And I don't mean that, I'm not helping them develop a six pack abs. Right, right. Yup. It was, I'd see people in [00:13:00] my classes crying at the end of class or coming up and saying something. Something happened in that class. Something shifted for me. So I really wanted to be able to do that work one-on-one and the tools of yoga are so powerful. They helped me so much and it's not just the physical poses. It's the breath work. It's the mind body connection. It's the philosophy, yoga really is a psychology of mind. If we dig deep, if we, if we pay attention, if we, if we find the safe space to heal. And that's why Insight is so important to me. We're showing people that yoga is a trauma-informed intervention that has evidence behind it. It's being studied. Right. We know meditation is evidence-based practice.

All of these things come together. And the body is the setting. We have to understand what's happening in our bodies and change our [00:14:00] relationship with our bodies in order to heal. And we can only do that if we have a safe space to do so. So when somebody works with me or somebody works with you, Jess, the first thing we do, right? Safety, sacred space deal. Long answer to that question. 

No, I love it. It reminds me a little bit of my story and my experience with becoming a body centered practitioner in that, I started having panic attacks when I was in the fifth grade. And I didn't even know what they were. I didn't even know that I should be telling my mom. I think I told her when I was like 30 something years old. And she was really surprised. And in my brain, my, my little meat just kind of adjusted around it. I tapped into my body, not even knowing when I started feeling panicky or overwhelmed and I was at home.

If I went outside and I opened the screen door and it's cold, I'm from Minnesota. So it's [00:15:00] usually kind of cold and I would take these deep breaths and I would feel the cold air on my face, who knew that I was using , the temperature to shift my nervous system, that I was using the long breath out to regulate and feel safe again.

 I had my own experience with exercise where I tried it, I would try out for teams and I would join, I'd be super excited and then I would quit a week or two into it.

And so it started being this narrative that I was a quitter or that I couldn't handle it, a little bit of a shame story started right around that experience. But. What I now know is that I was experiencing somatic symptoms. That very much felt like overwhelm and very much felt like panic.

And I didn't have that capacity to tolerate them yet. So I did what was best for my little me. I had a great survival system. I decided not to do that anymore. And, but, you know, then of course, Finding my own wonderful therapist as a young adult and beginning to observe my [00:16:00] thoughts and my feelings that naturally transitioned to this area of knowing something was missing, that I wanted to observe my body and be present with my body and explore this.

Full holistic healing, the whole self feeling integrated and healed. And I found weightlifting. And what didn't happen when I lifted weights was that I didn't get overwhelmed. I didn't get trauma related triggers and cues of panic it's very mindful there's a lot of weight on your body. So when you, push out energy through your system, it's controlled and regulated. It helped me build my tolerance to feeling distressed. Cause it was so structured. It was like here's five more pounds.

I will be safe. I even have a spotter it became this way of increasing my capacity to tolerate things that were overwhelming. 

 Yeah, that's a beautiful story. You really befriended yourself in a very powerful way. Weightlifting is it's very grounding, right? Because it's [00:17:00] like gravity, there's the weight that's really pulling you down, but then you're also discharging your energy with it too.

And just taking control. That's that's wonderful. Yeah. I love it. Let's talk a little bit more when I say mind, what do you think about mind within the mind body? I think about our thoughts, it's our emotions.

I tend to think about, like I said, yoga is a psychology of mind and the ultimate purpose of yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind, to still the monkey mind, the chit of Rooty as the San script. Great. I like that. That's the monkey mind. It's chatter.

Yeah, it's our chatter. It's that thought? You know, body, you know, he's really see that as like a sheath, a layer of our being our mental being has, a texture and a tangible quality to it. So [00:18:00] it's our thoughts, our emotions, the way that we experience our world, it's something that is.

Constructed for us in childhood. And then we either live through that construction or we kind of reconstructed as we, go through life and mature. Yeah. When I think about the mind, it's, more are thoughts, feelings, memories, how we shape our identity, our sense of consciousness, who we are as a person. you know, that is our mind. 

When we talk about the brain, I shift more into .

It's a part of the body and there's different parts of the brain. And they influence the different systems in our body, our nervous system, your digestive system, hormones, all sorts of different parts of the body 

when you're working with clients or even today, having our listeners hear more about this mind, body connection how would you describe what the brain is and its role in mind, body healing? Absolutely. So it depends on really, where we're [00:19:00] at in therapy, but I do, I like to do a lot of psycho-education and I have my little brain model that'll get out and, show people the lobes the different structures of the brain that operate in trauma.

How they're so connected to the body's response. Then we talk a lot about the thinker, the thoughts happen in the brain, right. They're neurons that are firing, but then we also have the observer, right. The witness to the thinker. And so that's often where I'll take people to more understand that mine Who's watching the thoughts, is there a compassionate witness there that we can tap into?

 And unless we start noticing that observing mind, you're talking about noticing, we may be really confused about why our body is reacting the way our body's reacting.

Right. Have you seen that or. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. It's just that automatic, when people will say, I have no idea why I reacted that way. Of course [00:20:00] not because it's something was triggered and stuck in your nervous system. 

Yeah. Yeah, and something I remind clients about MSF. I love to remind myself this, the ancient brain wins it's been around a lot longer. Let's not take it personally that we get hijacked and shifted into our reptilian brain, whose job is to just help us survive.

The next 10 seconds. And then the next 10 seconds, it's not a personal failure on our part that we're overwhelmed or we shift into survival mode. It's really natural. And when we can observe it, we can engage with it very differently versus feeling like it's consuming. Yes.

 Let's transition into talking about how the mind body connection influences our mental health. How would you explain that this connection, this powerful experience, this integration of both our mind, our brain and our [00:21:00] body. How does that influence thoughts? Emotions, behaviors.

Well, just like you were explaining, we live in our lizard brain and our reptile brain and we tend to, react to certain things and then not understand necessarily why we're reacting that way. And, you know, nobody says, well, I want to be really depressed today. Yeah, I wanna, I wanna have a hard time getting out of bed.

I wanna not have joy and the things that I normally take joy and yeah, no, we don't choose this, and I think that's a big part of what's so brilliant about somatic therapies is there is no room for stigma whatsoever. Mental wellness is not a choice. We don't have any of this. And there are so many categories of medications that work on the brain.

If mental wellness were a choice, then those medications wouldn't work. So we have learned so [00:22:00] much about. What happens in our brains that, cause these symptoms, anxiety, depression, compulsion addiction. We now know that there are so many chemical messengers involved in that and those chemical messengers don't exist just in your prefrontal cortex.

Right. Neuro-transmitters. Hormones, that's in the body. So our bodies are the key because we're talking about, you know, serotonin dopamine, GABA, which these are all neurotransmitters that affect our mood and they are all affected by what's happening in our bodies. The serotonin is produced in our guts.

It's not just produced in our brain. Tap into that. We have to use the pathways between brain and body, like the vagus nerve, which I know we'll be talking about a lot on this cast. [00:23:00] Yeah. Those nerves are the key, that's the pathway between mind and body. And we cannot just work on one part.

We can't just work on the structures in the brain, we can absolutely use cognitive. Techniques to identify our thoughts. We can use talk therapy, insight therapy is so important, to be able to process this with another person, but we can only do that when our body feels safe with that other person.

Yeah. So it's, it's all connected. It is, I was just reading an article by Dr. Kelly McGonigal. She also has a book I found really transformative. It's called neuroscience for change. She was talking about if you think about how the mind body are connected, our hormones, right?

Our endocrine system, our hormones influence our thoughts and feelings. I work with a lot of women. Especially in their mid thirties to fifties,[00:24:00] there's a lot of different shifts in how they think, how they feel what's happening for them, because hormones are really changing. Or if you have a teenager who, or an adolescent who's growing and changing.

Earlier you talked about the gut, right? The neuro-transmitters, we're learning so much about home. Mental health is connected to gut health. And there's the reasons why we say I have a gut feeling about something.

There are messengers happening all over in our body and right now in the middle of the pandemic the social isolation and worrying about our health and wellbeing, even our immune system, it's really responding to stress. Let's talk about the polyvagal theory we get so excited about, we get so excited about the polyvagal theory. I saw this D O in Madison, and he actually, my vagus nerve was tight on the right side Oh, yes, it's fantastic.

I should get him on this podcast. I won't say his name. Cause I don't know if he's accepting new clients. He's awesome. So he's like, yeah, [00:25:00] we're going to work on your vagus nerve. And I was it's my favorite nerve? And he laughs out loud. I'm like, no, I'm serious. He has no idea what I do or who I am. But he said that my right side of my vagus nerve is tight.

And he actually through multiple different sessions, relaxed it, and I have felt such a decrease in activation since that modality. It's, it's really phenomenal, but that was a side note, everybody. So vagus nerve polyvagal theory. Why don't you begin by explaining genie? That'd be great. Absolutely.

The polyvagal theory came about in the nineties. A guy named Dr. Stephen Porges started to write about this nerve. It's our 10th cranial nerve. So think about the cranium. It's right at the base of the skull there. And it's called the Vegas nerve after the Latin vagabond or Vagrant for wander, it's a wandering nerve.

It is huge, right? It's basically the brain and its root system. When you look at it, [00:26:00] that's a great way. I never thought to describe it that way. Yup. Yeah. And it, it runs all the way down into her viscera, so right. Like we were talking about the gut brain. It enervates our digestion, it also has a branch that intervates, through our respiration and our heart and then a more.

Advanced or a newer branch of the Vegas that enervates our face or throat social engagement system. This has been a real game changer for those of us in the world of body centered there lately. This, this wandering nerve and that there's so many different pathways. Our body communicates with our brain pain. There's many more pathways that go from the body up into the brain then from the brain down. Through into the body and in traditional talk therapy, which I completely agree.

There's such a place for it, and it can be very healing, but often traditional talk [00:27:00] therapy does what we call top down processing, where we're processing through the front of our brains, where we're logical. We can think we're human. Decision-making cognitive capacities are online. 

But if you think about the Vegas nerve.

That's connected to all of our organs. It's the highway that connects the brain to everything the body's experiencing. How communication is really happening in our bodies, there is worry more information coming up through the body. 

The polyvagal theory. For me is one of the key concepts I review with clients. And that I've even found in my own healing to be really transformational I love thinking about how my nervous system comes online and is helping shape my experience. Because when we talk about de-stigmatizing mental health, often we associate our problems or difficulties with who we are like personally. And when we look at the polyvagal theory and we [00:28:00] bring our body online, the polyvagal theory says, Hey, your body is actually doing really cool things to keep you safe, to protect you. It's communicating to you. Every mammal does this, you think that your neighbor doesn't have, you know, a nervous system?

They do. If you think who you see on social media is calm all the time. They're not , even watch our pets, you can start seeing everybody's nervous system. Okay. Everywhere. I liken it to, this is a side tangent, which maybe I'll let everybody listen in on how my brain works. I liken it to the matrix when Neo has that moment where he starts seeing these ones and zeros come down and suddenly like everything opens up and there's just so much more information.

And he's really tapped in. That's how I feel about watching the nervous system, because suddenly there's reasons for things that don't have to do with personal failure or success. It really has to do with this beautiful system. [00:29:00] Since in utero, that's helping us stay safe and we get to work with it.

So that's how I feel about the polyvagal theory. It's a beautiful thing. It removes the judgment, the shame from this, and we get to go back and look we're we made to feel safe when we were. Little kids. Did we have a face that we could look at and see love? Could we see ourselves reflected in another person's eyes where we've seen and heard and held, and we can start there and recognize how impactful those early experiences in our bodies are.

And then start to recognize that we are not broken. We can work with the system to correct. Things that have maybe not been serving us through no fault of our own. It helps to remove that sense shame. I agree. The [00:30:00] nervous system can be shaped. The brain is plastic.

There are things we can do when we bring the body into treatment. That can shape the response. It's natural for our nervous system to shift into a flee or a fight response, or even shutting down.

There's there's no shame in that that's natural, but we can help that system leave those responses sooner.

Or not kind of ping pong back and forth between anxiety or depression responses ,but go to, what we call ventral bagel where we feel connected and safe the goal isn't to not feel stressed or not have those responses, it's just to.

More easily go back to feeling safe afterwards and more easily. Go back to feeling connected to who we are and we can shape that. That's possible. That's very powerful. 

Thanks Jeanne. I'm a sensorimotor psychotherapist. Sensorimotor psychotherapy is a body centered talking therapy developedy Pat [00:31:00] Ogden. As a sensorimoto therapist, I approach treatment using the body's experience as the primary entry point in trauma therapy rather than the events, thoughts, or feelings. By attending to how the body's processing information, and then looking at how the body, the mind, the emotions, and thoughts all come together we can start to treat the whole person. 

Jess (2): So when we think about our nervous system, our brain, the symptoms we're experiencing, the trauma related symptoms that can be activated in our body. When we do a body centered approach, we actually just give space to treating the effects of trauma or the effects of the difficulties we're experiencing versus the events.

I think that can be really healing . There's so much research out there about how mindful separation, that observing sense of self, when we observe we can create space. And healing can happen in that space. We don't need to revisit [00:32:00] events repetitively. We can heal just through being present with the body and helping the body process out what maybe got stuck at one point or another. 

And that's, I think what's so important too. When I do yoga, when I work with people, even in small groups, it's a healing environment for so many reasons but also in this intangible way that we don't necessarily see the nervous system can retune itself over time in ways that we can't even script.

Right. So we just create the space for it. And the healing happens in these ways we can't necessarily describe them, but it is so powerful. It is. It is, that co-regulation, we would call it. You know, in our therapist minds. That coagulation when we feel safe and tune in together, that shifts our nervous system's [00:33:00] response.

And if I was going to give any sort of suggestion or tip for someone thinking about their nervous system, well, if this is possible, where do I even begin? Right. I would say spend time feeling safe. Who makes you feel safe? What things in your life make you feel safe? What are the, some of the things you do that you feel safe and calm? Where can you go? Or even the act of calling upon a memory where you felt safe. Being safe is just, it can be very healing. It can be so supportive and regulating. So I would start there. I think that's great. 

we're kind of going into the idea of talking about different practices that are trauma-informed body-centered When we're talking about polyvagal and sensorimotor and the act of creating safety for ourself, what are some trauma informed practices you think can help create, [00:34:00] mind-body connection, this, this healing. I usually start people with the breath. Yeah. It's so simple. Right? It's so simple. We're all doing it. You know, we've been doing it since the moment we were born but it's something that is very connected to the systems to the state.

You were talking about. When we're in a sympathetic state. Well, how do we know? Well, of course we don't really know our blood pressure is increasing we might feel our heart racing a little bit, but we can definitely tell if we're hyperventilating. Yeah. So pretty clear.

Yeah. We can start there and start to do a mindful exercise of noticing the breath, just watching the breath and maybe lengthening out the exhale. Maybe just starting there just a little bit longer exhale, which taps into our diaphragm, which is a very sympathetic part of our body. Right.

And then we can start to get into the [00:35:00] parasympathetic nervous system with that polyvagal, vagus nerve that's innervating our viscera below the diaphragm that can get us into A much more relaxed relaxed state able to be present with the breath That's usually where I start people It's just let's practice breathing.

Yeah. Yeah, I like that. And just to clarify sympathetic, when we're talking about sympathetic is this activation of the system and we have to mobilize to decrease the threat. And then you're talking about parasympathetic or ventral vagel is more when we feel safe and connected and calm.

Even taking that a little further. I think that a lot of practitioners are starting to use body centered approaches. We've talked about meditation, you've talked about yoga therapy. Can you explain a little bit what is yoga therapy?

Absolutely. Yoga therapy is typically working [00:36:00] one-on-one with somebody where, in a lot like psychotherapy, there's an assessment where we want to know what's going on in the physical body, the emotional body, the mental body, the spiritual body, we look at all of those things. If you have an imbalance in your body, Physically we'll see that.

And then we'll also look at maybe how that's affecting your your breath, your movement patterns. Often with depression, we see people who are kind of closed, their shoulders might round up They might be kind of protecting their heart space We call that closed heart syndrome. That's a Bo Forbes term. She's a psychologist and yoga therapist as well. And that's where we can start to see that . And then start to work on f inding a balance there. We're not going to blow the lid off something and open people up. This is where we start to find a balance and we do that through creating a safe space, [00:37:00] allowing people to make choices and take action that corrects whatever balance they have.

We work to get people in the present moment. Trauma is very past and future oriented. It's got us thinking about the past or it's got us worried about the future. When we tap into the present moment, we do that in our bodies and we can do that either individually or in groups. We really think that group energy is very healing.

Yoga classes are therapeutic just in themselves without any special tricks, honestly. Because it's, it's rhythmic. It's soothing. In trauma-informed yoga. We're in an inclusive environment. So we're all in this together. It's very connected. We're creating a space that we can heal in our bodies by tapping into some discomfort. So yoga should be a little bit uncomfortable. You know, we might move into a lunge [00:38:00] or a downward facing dog even something that is that requires strength and requires awareness and requires a little discomfort And we breathe through that and tolerate it and then move into the opposite Action Something that that feels powerful that maybe feels relaxing So we're really letting people embody their whole experience just in, any yoga class. IN maybe a half hour, 45 minutes or an hour yoga practice. And it truly is that's where the healing happens.

I, of course, fully believe in the one-on-one. I think that therapeutic relationship, that interpersonal process that we create in our yoga therapy is very healing. BUt also it's incomplete if there's not some sort of group practice as well too. And that's why we offer that at insight and other places do as well.[00:39:00] 

Yeah. I can really appreciate that. There's many yoga therapists out there, trauma informed yoga therapists and there's so many wonderful psychotherapists as well. I T makes me just really appreciate the idea of yoga therapy as a compliment to traditional talk therapy as well, where there's parts of ourselves who maybe need our story to be heard and supported. To look at our thoughts and feelings, and through a modality like trauma informed weightlifting or meditation or yoga therapy, we can tap into that body centered approach. Really however someone's path to healing happens.

I think the important part is we remember there's wisdom in the body there's so much to learn and that they all can be connected in whatever way feels safe, whatever works best for ourselves. Agreed.

As a marriage and family therapist. I talk a lot about the different systems in place that impact an individual. [00:40:00] When you're thinking about the different external conditions a person may be experiencing what do you talk about with your clients? How do you honor what's happening around us as well as what's happening within us? Yeah, that's a great question. It's really it's come to the fore in the last year. Obviously we've had to process a lot of, of societal trauma because we've had to adjust the way that we, that we treat people because now we're doing tele-health in order to contribute to the greater good. So that we're protecting people from the dangers of a pandemic. So we're working, we're working on, you know, how we fit into that society and how we can use these tools to heal. Even as we're experiencing this collective trauma. We're not going to know for years, the impact of this pandemic and we're seeing it s o acutely right now at Insight. And also everything that we've gone through, [00:41:00] politically in the last year, we've been dealing with the systemic oppression of people of color. We're dealing with just so much distress and imbalance in our world because of racism, sexism, classism, and we want to, we want to honor that in our treatment as well. Because the nervous system is very much affected by that too. So when we think about, you know, childhood trauma, we think about t hose who may not have the privilege of therapy and connection and yoga and all those things in childhood, or even in adulthood. We have to, we have to look at that. We have to honor that. That's why at Insight we really, really believe in cultural humility and yoga for all. We do monthly pre karma classes just to [00:42:00] try to get access for people. We provide yoga therapy through our comprehensive community services here in Madison, which is a program that allows consumers with Medicaid to have access to different types of therapy- what we'd call skill development.

 We do our best to attempt to serve from this place of real cultural humility inclusion. We welcome all. The LGBTQ population. We really want to try to help people understand that systems of oppression affect the nervous system. And, that we cannot necessarily, you know, individually change those systems. We're working on it, of course in our own, but we want to make sure that people have tools and understand that their system is responding to something that is insidious and intangible and that here's where that's story follows state, right? We, in this state, [00:43:00] and then we create a story around it. Well, with a lot of these isms, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, we've been told a story and we can work to heal our state and shift that story. If that makes sense. Mmhm I think you're right. I think it's very important as a white cisgendered female straight therapist I create an environment that allows clients to be seen and heard in the way of honoring when we work through the mind body connection, there are factors that have influenced clients for years, if not their life, if not through multiple generations, h onoring there's such a thing as transgenerational trauma and systemic oppressors people are experiencing are real and that they truly do influence their mind and body. Different things like trauma that can happen in the medical [00:44:00] system, fatphobia, look and sizeism, transphobia, heterosexism, different systemic oppressors, and not just following the one size fits all strategy to health and healing. Honoring a lot of people along the way have caused harm and it's our job to be accountable to that and do what we can best do to help serve people be allies instead of being part of the problem.

That's where we use our tools of empathy and being able to put ourselves in other people's shoes and approach with curiosity and no judgment. We want to approach from a place of humility to try to understand what that person is going through then help them to regulate in their nervous system by getting regulated in our own.

And we can only do that [00:45:00] if we are curious, if we're open, if we're willing to just be humble to that person's experience. IT's a very powerful way to help shift people into a state of healing. I agree. 

We've had such a wonderful conversation about the mind body experience and our mental health. I'd like to share a little bit of information for our listeners on how they can begin to perhaps, honor, their mind-body connection. Begin exploring how the wisdom of the body is present with them.What do you think Jeanne Yeah, absolutely. I always encourage people to begin with a little bit of meditation. You know, oftentimes people are scared off and they say, "I can't meditate. I can't clear my mind. What are you nuts?". That's a really hard thing for people to do. And especially now we know when [00:46:00] our traumas are stuck in our body, we cannot just be in stillness, in quiet in darkness and feel safe.

So I typically ask people to just give themselves five minutes a day. To do a somatic based meditation. And that might mean just feeling the soles of your feet as they touch the floor. Yeah. Maybe feeling you're the chair underneath your seat and maybe just maybe counting your breath, maybe counting five breaths. Just to start to introduce a relationship with the body in a very incremental and safe way. I often suggest starting slow bringing in compassion. Tapping into that innate wisdom held within the body.

Wherever you're at in your relationship to your body, whether you're feeling this is a place you want to be, or because of [00:47:00] past injury or illness or current medical conditions it's maybe a little scary or even dysregulating to be present in your body, I think having an attitude of befriending. And it can be a big leap, you know, it really, if we ask someone to say, "Let's start to, let's honor the wisdom of your body. Can you say that? I honor the wisdom of my body." That's a lot for people to say, and I might even start a lot slower and softer and say, "I am willing to consider someday honoring the wisdom of my body." So just like that, it's a leap for some of us who've felt unsafe in our bodies or who have that adversarial relationship that unfortunately media, society, messaging has fostered. So we can't just suddenly go to "Oh, we're friends now". Yeah. [00:48:00] Yeah, but maybe we can start to consider the possibility that someday maybe we could be friends with our body. 

 When someone's ready to begin that relationship, I encourage them to start observing, observing our mind body experience. As you talked about noticing the breath, even being aware of if there's any tension in our bodies. Or what physical sensations we're experiencing, listening and observing can start helping us shift from being consumed by the body's experience or feeling overwhelmed by the body's experience to engaging with it differently. I think that starts to create a level of safety within. Absolutely. I have loved having this conversation with you Jeanne This has been such a pleasure. Thanks Jess I have nothing but gratitude. I am so excited for this opportunity to share. So thank you so much for [00:49:00] organizing this. Of course. Thank you 

 

 Thank you again for joining us on Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-centered mental health podcast. 

We're your hosts, Jeanne and Jess. Please join us again next week as we continue to explore integrative approaches to wellbeing. Until then, take care.