Your Pet Loves You – More Than You Know!

For many of us, there is a furry-footed loved one that we call family. Or perhaps it is a feathered friend or fish that we love. We know that our heart warms at the thought of them and that we find ourselves comforted and soothed in their presence. In fact, we might find ourselves marveling at the ways that they know just how to brighten our day, especially when we are stressed.

Research suggests that many animals have an innate knack for connecting with others, often making them impeccable pets. Not only this, but many of these animals go on to become adept healers through their innate traits. Pets who provide a unique comfort for those they live with are referred to as Emotional Support Animals, or ESA’s.

Because of this unique impact that many animals offer to us, research has gone on to explore the ways that pets can enhance the lives of those living with PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. Pets who serve as ESA’s differ from service animals in that they are not trained to assist the struggles in any way, yet their presence and interactions do offer assistance that can facilitate healing and recovery for their human companions. In my Goodtherapy.org article on this process, I explain some of the benefits that ESA’s can offer for those living with PTSD. Click HERE for details:

With this notable impact, it is no wonder that so many of us feel better at the mere thought of spending time with our interspecies loved ones… in fact, many people report that they miss their pets as much or more than other family members! One of the reasons for this is that their pet offers them support and comfort for the challenges that they are facing with anxiety, depression, or the aftermath of a trauma.

If you find yourself benefiting from the ways that your pet enhances and contributes to your emotional well-being, you might be wondering how to go about registering your pet as an Emotional Support Animal. I have recently created a package to facilitate this so that more people can go on to experience the healing benefits of living with a beloved pet! For details, visit HERE to see how you can get started.

In what ways do you love to spend time with your pet?? Share with us in our social media pages to connect with other pet lovers who are finding their lives that much more meaningful with their furry-footed, feathered, and aquatic loved ones present!

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How Would You Save Your Life?

Have you thought about what your Iife depends on? Or have you thought about the things that you do on a day to day basis that keep you going and preserve your safety? How about any situations you might have been in where you have thwarted danger?

If you’re asking yourself these questions and reflecting on the answers, you might have noticed that you have a set of default and automatic things that you say to yourself. You might also have a pattern of criticizing yourself or thinking that you can’t handle what comes next or that you’re just not good enough to get through. You might find it hard to focus or feel like you’re being judged.

It can be overwhelming and we might find ourselves shutting down even further.

There is a more effective way for us to find clarity so that we can maneuver difficult situations in a way that’s helpful to us. With the confidence and clarity to navigate terrifying situations, we give ourselves permission to show up and shine in our lives!

I share openly in my Mindfulness groups that I believe Mindfulness can change the world. Now I can say very frankly that Mindfulness can save our lives. I’d like to share an example of how this played out for me recently.

Of course, Mindfulness has physiological benefits that not only extend our lives but that also improve the quality of our lives. Yet, there is a more immediate impact that refers to a way that use of a variety of Mindfulness skills can help us escape terrifying and even, in the case of my example, potentially life-threatening situations in that moment it’s happening.

Recently, I attended a training in Fort Lauderdale. As a lover of the water, I was happily practicing Mindfulness skills while enjoying my time in the beautiful, calm, and warm waters along with several other trainees on the evening of the first day.

We noticed the water begin to move very differently along with a very distinct shape appear next to me just a few feet away. The thoughts running through my mind were that there is no way it could be possible for a shark to to be so close to me in water that is less than four or five feet deep.

Yet, my Mindful observation clearly depicted the one, along with the shift in the movement of the water.

I quickly removed my awareness from the judgments in my thoughts and looked to observe again. It was unmistakable – both the shark fin and body as well as the flow of the water with such a buoyant creature so close by.

In the next second, I observed where the water was easier to move through. Now drawing upon Mindful movement skills, I quickly and deliberately led the group of us laterally away from the shark before we began to Mindfully wade our way back to the shore.

In doing so, we struggled a bit and one of the other trainees began falling. Our Mindful focus helped us to keep taking steps forward while the LovingKindness mindset of Mindfulness allowed me to reach out to help steady the falling member.

When we finally reached the shore safely, we started to feel the full scope of what a potentially terrible situation we had just escaped. Rather than panicking, we reached for our Mindfulness of feelings skills and began notifying other beachgoers calmly.

Several commented that our calm approach helped ward off their panic and help others take responsive and effective actions. We also notified the property staff so additional safeguards could be taken.

Once all the appropriate actions had been taken, I spent a bit of time reflecting on what had happened:

+I realized that I had made use of the Wise Mind, where an integration of both Reasonable and Emotional Mind informed my interpretation of the situation and the actions we took

+I knew that a reaction embedded in the Emotional Mind, while understandable could have put me in greater jeopardy

+I also knew that everyone’s safety was of paramount importance, a mindset that has been nurtured with the compassionate Mindfulness practices of nonjudgment and LovingKindness.

+I also remembered both my initial wave of shock and panic along with the exhaustion in my legs as we were working our way back to shore and knew that my practices of Mindfully noticing my experience without judgment and coming back to the present helped me, rather than getting stuck in them and struggling more, to instead choose with awareness a set of actions and responses that would best serve me in this moment.

THIS is the essential benefit of Mindfulness of our lives.

Luckily, I was not harmed – nor was anyone else – and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for the reminder of the value of Mindfulness in my life.

Each of the skills I drew upon are ones I teach and practice in my Mindfulness Matters group. I even shared this story in our final session of the most recent round of the group and am looking forward to sharing it in the upcoming cycle of the group beginning in just a few weeks. Of course, my hope is that no one is in such a jarring situation but that they have the skills to take the kinds of actions that will best serve their lives no matter what kind of shocking, scary, or upsetting situation they are in.

If you are curious about what skills you can learn to help you keep moving toward what you want to celebrate in your life, hit reply and let me know! Or click on the button below to learn more about it.

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A Closer Look at Reiki, Part 2

Last week, we looked a bit more thoroughly at understanding Reiki on the heels of my recent interview regarding how Reiki can impact our healing from compassion fatigue. Today, I wanted to further explore some questions about the impact of Reiki on our mental health.

Let’s begin with looking a bit at navigating overwhelming, stressful, and traumatic situations. An experience of trauma really takes a toll on us, particularly when there might be a greater sense of powerlessness and horror. In addition to the ways that Reiki can help to contribute to a greater sense of relief from the sadness and pain in secondary trauma and the stress and anxiety that accompany it, Reiki can help us stay more resilient when we are met with difficult situations and to also bounce back from them more readily and quickly. Another way that Reiki can help is that it can help us remain focused and think clearly which can help to navigate a difficult situation with more ease and set into motion factors that can bring on a better outcome. That on its own helps to cultivate a sense of empowerment and control which can really aid in combatting trauma.

We can also explore the ways that Reiki impacts depression. According to a study published in Alternate Therapies in Health and Medicine, patients who received regular Reiki treatments showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of psychological distress and depression. This symptom reduction continued for one year after the treatment regimen was complete.

The way that this works is that Reiki helps restore a person’s overall sense of balance, both in the mind and the body. This may help to improve the person’s mood and help him or her to overcome feelings of guilt and/or sadness that typically accompany depression.

We mentioned a few minutes ago that Reiki helped to slow down a person’s sympathetic autonomic system. This is the system that is activated when we experience anxiety and stress. It’s the primary mechanism in the fight or flight response. While the fight or flight response is valuable for us in the instant of a major stressor, over time, it begins to weaken us emotionally and physically. This then makes us more vulnerable to the negative impact of stress and anxiety. With this mechanism slowed down, our physiological responses to stress and anxiety begin to subside as well and provide us relief. In the Reiki mindset, there is a mind-body component to any kind of ailment whether it is physical or emotional and, in this case, there is an element of both present. Reiki works to restore the balance and harmony in both the emotional and physical body which can help us get back on track. Sessions provide a relaxing, soothing healing environment that ensures comfort and peace during the healing process. It’s this relaxed, peaceful state that helps to contribute to our emotional, physical, and mental well being.

Often, insomnia and fatigue come about as a result of something else going on – for some it’s stress, others anxiety, and we also often see it with depression and PTSD for example. In most cases, fatigue and insomnia tend to have an underpinning that indicates some kind of disharmony. Because Reiki works to restore balance by clearing away energetic or electrical blockages that get in the way of this harmony, it works to address the root cause of insomnia and fatigue.

I hope the last two weeks have given you a greater understanding of how Reiki can contribute to enhancing your life. You may still have questions or just be curious what it can offer you – just hit reply and let me know what you’re wondering!

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Feeling Fatigued??

For many of us, there is often a feeling of giving and sharing so much of ourselves that there may be a chronic sense of fatigue, depression, or even anxiety. In particular, there are those of us that are giving so much of our empathy and compassion on a constant basis that we may be experiencing compassion fatigue.

While it can be so meaningful for us to share and give of ourselves in this way, it can leave us feeling too depleted, drained, and out of sorts to continue to do so – or even to continue on in our regular activities as before. This is what can make compassion fatigue so difficult.

Jennifer Blough’s The Compassion Fatigue Podcast addresses this same issue. When she reached out to me to discuss the ways that Reiki can help us through this dilemma, I was excited to share information. Reiki can be such a powerful tool in helping us to rebalance our physical, emotional, and psychological needs – which are the things that compassion fatigue depletes.

You can access more information about compassion fatigue here. If you find the show valuable, please feel free to share it with others, rate, review, and subscribe. That way, more people who need it can benefit from it. You can also read more about Reiki here and listen to my overview of it here as well.

What was your top takeaway from the show? Share your thoughts and reactions in our Facebook and Twitter communities!

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Exploring the Impact of Mindfulness, Part 3

Over the last two weeks, we have begun examining the benefits and scientific underpinnings of Mindfulness. We resume the findings studies noted regarding the highly beneficial impact of Mindfulness over a short term period of regular practice.

In their studies isolating the unique benefits of Mindfulness, scientists also found significant changes in the amygdala, or the brain’s center for fight, flight, and freeze responses, following Mindfulness practices. During and after stressful, overwhelming, scary, and traumatic situations, the natural tendency of the amygdala is to increase in size. This prepares us for survival in whatever way is possible. However, in their studies, scientists saw the amygdala shrinking amongst practitioners of Mindfulness. In fact, the greater the stress reduction they noted, the smaller the amygdala become. Such a finding is valuable because it points to the resilience and clarity that Mindful awareness can bring on, particularly useful during difficult experiences. It is important to note that, in these studies, the changes noticed were documented to be independent of any other factors in the environment or personal characteristics of participants.

With this in mind, the studies show that Mindfulness does more than just help us to feel better in the moment. While participating with an improved state is valuable, there are greater benefits with Mindfulness. Understanding this physiology reflects the cumulative impact of Mindfulness. Furthermore, these findings show that not only are the benefits beyond a mere placebo response, but the benefits literally provide changes to our brain.

From a greater quality of life to facilitating depression and anxiety recovery, reducing stress, lowering pain, increasing concentration, cultivating creativity, reducing insomnia, and improving energy levels, the benefits of Mindfulness practice can easily enhance our lives. Furthermore, these findings show that not only are the benefits beyond a mere placebo response, but the benefits literally provide changes to our brain. This positions us to more effectively enact changes in our lives that will cultivate more fulfilling experiences.

One reason I offer the Mindfulness Matters Challenge to the community is because I think everyone can benefit from improving their quality of life through this practice. With the understanding of the scientific and neurobiological underpinnings of Mindfulness, we can see there are a number of benefits from Mindfulness – a practice that helps us to better structure the 50-70 thousand thoughts we have each day. It can be a powerful tool in helping us to restructure what we are looking to build in our lives.

In fact, each of the graduates of my 8 session Mindful Monday group has shared powerful life changes during and after the group. In particular, these practitioners found that, over time, it became easier to practice Mindfulness, that it got easier to bring their awareness back to the present experience, and that the time between their mind wandering was prolonged. In addition, they also noted that it became easier to simply accept that their minds would wander throughout the practice. In conjunction with the physiological benefits, they noticed significant changes in their lives upon the completion of the series. Some still reach out to me to share further gains and triumphs.

Over the last several weeks, we have explored the neurophysiological changes we see as a result of a consistent, brief Mindfulness practice. In conjunction with that, we have investigated some of the noted and unique benefits that this powerful practice can bring into our daily lives. I further discuss these practices with Deborah Turner in her weekly show. Feel free to listen here for additional information.

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“Beyond the Couch” Explores the Benefits of Group Therapy!

The newest episode of the “Beyond the Couch” podcast is here!

Today, we look at the benefits of group therapy, different formats of group therapy, and how we can gain the most benefit from group therapy. You can listen to the episode here!

Don’t forget: If you missed the first few episodes, they are always available via iTunes, on my website, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and YouTube.

If you’ve found these episodes helpful in some way, please be sure to read a rating and review so that 1.) I know what helps you and 2.) so that others in the same boat can find what they need.

Enjoy these first few episodes before the next one on Thursday – we’ll be focusing on Mindfulness!

LAST CALL: Mindful Mondays Enrollment Closing!

You may be finding yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed and run-down. You might be having a hard time catching your breath and feel rushed from one thing to the next without a moment to slow your racing mind down. There are tools and strategies to help you focus, find your footing again, and even feel the relief in your body and mind.

I have been so excited about bringing back the Mindful Monday 8 session series! We recently had a brief glimpse into Mindfulness with our Mindfulness Matters 5 Day Challenge + 3 Bonus Days where people joined us from seven US states and four countries! In fact, people have shared with me that they are revisiting the challenge yet again on their own! Several people have also requested that I run the challenge again, too!

The exciting news is that we can broaden this practice in our Mindful Monday 8 session series! Our last round of the series brought so much benefit to our community. Here are some of the comments from group members:

“It was a really nice way to get myself into the mindset for a productive and calm week.”

“I learned so much about my body and mind and how my feelings showed up around them from these groups.”

“Sharing this with the others in the group made it a more deep experience for me. I gained a lot from each of the other people!”

This is one of my favorite practices and I am so thrilled about bringing it back to help people who are feeling stressed, unfocused, and overwhelmed get back on track.

Mindfulness offers so many benefits and ways of enhancing our lives – from Mindful eating to improving our mood, focusing, and increasing our productivity to building better relationships, this practice brings with it so many opportunities to deepen the experiences in your life. Learn a bit more in my interview with Rockland World Radio’s “Connections with Deborah Turner.”

I will be closing enrollment for this group on Saturday, April 1st. If you’re ready to get information on how this series can benefit your life, just click below for more access.

Don’t forget to read more about this exciting group at Inner Realm magazine.