You’ve probably heard about the mind-body connection, but do you ever wonder exactly what neuroscience is proving in regards to healing from stress, trauma, and burnout?

It’s hard not to be stressed and anxious while living in a culture of gadgets, looming deadlines, endless social feeds, and 24/7 emails and texts. According to Harvard’s Marlynn Wei, stress-related health problems are responsible for up to 80% of visits to the doctor and account for the third highest health care expenditures, behind only heart disease and cancer. A team of Harvard researchers studied an 8-week mind-body relaxation program which taught a mix of approaches: meditation, yoga, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral skills, and positive psychology. The researchers found that participants used 43% fewer medical services than they did the previous year.

A combination of modalities can give us a variety of tools to reduce the stress response and trigger the relaxation response. The Center Method is a one-stop wellness studio because we believe in the power of a safe space where healing can take place on many levels. TCM offers psychotherapy, EMDR, acupuncture, nutrition, meditation, breathwork, trauma-informed yoga, and movement classes. Along with the range of services, it is beneficial to be around other people in small classes in an intimate environment.

We are social beings and positively affected by being in a room with other meditators…even if we are not ourselves meditating! M. Mala Cunningham, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia says, “When someone is in the environment where a certain vibration is activated, such as in a chanting session or in a group meditation, these mirror neurons respond to what’s going on in the environment. So we start activating in positive ways even if we’re not actually sitting and doing the chanting or the meditation. We start to pick up the vibrational effects, and it’s shown in the brain that that is what is happening.”

When we learn something new, we create new connections between our neurons. We are rewiring our brains all the time – we can use this to our advantage. When we are wired for anxiety, however, it will be there waiting to be triggered. So we also need to create competitive wiring. “We need to create specific wiring of what we want to achieve which is ‘competitive wiring’ to the problem. Without this we loop endlessly in anxiety with no neural pathway to take us forward,” according to Ian Cleary.

When we engage in yoga, mindfulness, or meditation, we are resetting the default of our brains. We’ll find ourselves reacting to life with more ease, calm, and joy.

The relaxation response even changes the activity of genes. It switches off genes associated with chronic inflammatory responses that contribute to chronic ailments, such as heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes. It also turns on genes that are linked with a variety of positive functions, including the release of insulin which helps regulate blood sugar. (Research by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.)

The science is fascinating and comforting news. We do not need to be stuck in an endless loop we can’t get out of. We can rewire, reprogram, and reclaim our health. We can cut down on diseases and doctor’s bills. We can trigger the relaxation response and pick up other’s vibrational effects. It can be hard to know where to start when we feel like we’re in survival mode. We need to be compassionate with ourselves and take time to prioritize healing. Check out our memberships which include multiple modalities (https://thecentermethod.com/memberships/).

Bessel Van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, writes, “As I often tell my students, the two most important phrases in therapy, as in yoga, are “Notice that” and “What happens next?” Once you start approaching your body with curiosity rather than with fear, everything shifts.”

The mind and body are incredible systems sending us constant messages.

Listen. Be curious.

We have the capacity for great resilience and self-healing.

Author: Kimberly Sheridan