Partnership

Partnership

Partnership

Conversation hearts that read “QT Pie” can be adorable at the beginning of a relationship, but after 15+ years of marriage, messages that say “I went ahead and cleaned up the dog poop” actually go further to add vitality to a partnership. “We don’t fall in love and then get married; instead we get married and then learn what love requires,” says theologian Stanley Haurwas. Romance has its place within a relationship, but experience tells us that people want a living situation that supports their individual contributions to the world with companionship. We’re looking for partnership.

Mind Body Health Associates co-owners and therapists Landon Dunn and Holly Schweitzer Dunn work to create partnership in marriage and in their work-world. Having healthy systems and structures within their personal relationship has enhanced their work life because they’re practiced at looking for one another’s natural gifts and allowing that person to lead from their competence.

Both Holly and Landon recognize it’s not just about the role they play. They each complete tasks to keep the business – or the household – running smoothly.  Trust makes the relationship, business, and household systems work. Each person believes the other is capable to meet and overcome the challenges that arise.

“Landon and I are somewhat unique in that we split everything in terms of household responsibility down the middle,” Holly said. “We know this arrangement does not work for every family, but for ours it is key to things running (mostly) smoothly. There really aren’t male or female-specific roles.  We both raise our children, fold the laundry, work in the yard, and run the business. ‘Everything together’ is our motto.”

This lifestyle also depends on dedication to structures to help keep the balance. They keep a routine splitting dinnertime responsibilities and school drop-off duties 50/50. In this way, Landon and Holly each are afforded a few evenings to come home, sit down, and enjoy dinner after work. The key, the couple agrees, is seeking to understand and meet their individual needs as well as their partner’s needs as equally important as his or her own. “When the seven day structure is balanced, there is less need to keep score,” Landon said.

A family structured on partnership has allowed both Landon and Holly to function in patterns that lead to better individual and relational health. With less energy focused on who is doing what, or wondering if their partner is doing enough, both individuals find space to work on their own wellbeing. Less attention goes toward “what needs done” and instead is directed toward working through their own “stuff.” From that place of health, they can support and encourage their partner and children, feeding a healthier cycle of living.

In honor of love, Landon and Holly revere the wisdom of Khalil Gibran on the spaces between lovers:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

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Recipe: Golden Milk

Recipe: Golden Milk

Recipe: Golden Milk

You can find a few of us in the office starting the day with this delicious, nourishing, and warming start to the day. It has its roots as an Ayurvedic staple (Ayurveda is the sister-science to yoga, rich with ancient wisdom), but functional health experts tout its benefits, too. The herbs and spices involved are great for warming the body, decreasing inflammation, and amping up your immunity – perfect for these seasons when you spend more hours indoors, sharing air (and germs) with other people. 
You can search variations of this recipe, but here’s what our yoga instructor, Michele, puts in her cup:

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (if you tolerate dairy well, then using cows milk is fine, especially when warmed)
1-2 tablespoons honey or real maple syrup
1-2 tsp. ground tumeric (if you can find fresh or dried, even better!)
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced open
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. black pepper (or one turn of your grinder)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp. ghee (or coconut oil)

Bring this to slight boil and let simmer. Pour it through a strainer into your mug and enjoy as a start or an end to the day. 

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“Unproductive” As A Means To Connection

“Unproductive” As A Means To Connection

"Unproductive" As A Means To Connection

So, once you get yourself to slow down and ignore the to-do list, how do you spend the evening? A Netflix binge of crime shows won’t exactly bring a sense of ease, so think critically about how you would like to spend your hours of restoration. Try not to be productive about it, but you can still use your time to engage in activities for enjoyment. 

One of our households uses “Quite Hour” on a regular (but not nightly or even scheduled) basis. The electronics are turned off and the fire is going. Kids and adults choose from games, puzzles, books, handwork like crotchet and knitting, to fill the time. We can engage in these activities without the sense of winning or accomplishing and tune in to the enjoyment. It’s a practice of doing something not because you’re good at it or because you want to do it better. 

Recognize also these moments of un-productivity are hugely beneficial in the realm of connection to loved ones. Time spent snuggled on a couch with a book or laughing during a lively family game floods our brains with dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps wire our brains for attention and emotional response. Gradually we can rewire our brains to crave the quiet and intimate as much as the sense of accomplishment from producing and achieving. 

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Preparing to Go Fallow

Preparing to Go Fallow

Preparing to Go Fallow

If you sense a desire to amplify the experience of coziness that goes with a good winter’s hibernation, but – like most of us – have been socially trained to be constantly productive, you might endure some challenges as you attempt to downshift. Perhaps family or work schedules prohibit you from truly relaxing in the evening in the timeframe you desire. Or once you’ve arrived at home, the mental hurdle of the to-do list keeps you moving. As a collective group, here are some of the things our staff practice to help us enjoy the benefits of a sleepy winter’s night:

  • Make a cup of tea to take in the sensory experience of shifting gears
  • Change your clothes, Mr. Roger’s style – a house sweater or comfy slippers will help attach hibernation focus. 
  • Start a fire in the fireplace to keep you close and prevent you from running one more errand
  • Cover up with a heavy scarf or weighted blanket, which makes it harder to get up and move around

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Pairing Treatment with Yoga

Pairing Treatment with Yoga

Pairing Treatment with Yoga

Yoga can help you manage symptoms of a taxed nervous system and give you tools for relaxation. Our EMDR-based approach leads us to recommend individuals to take up a yoga practice, either at home, in a local studio, or privately for several reasons:

  1. It’s bi-lateral movement, which calms the nervous system and preps the body to be able to better process our experiences, past and present. Mindful movement helps us dislodge our belief patterns in a way that sit-and-talk therapy doesn’t do by itself.
  2. It teaches us to notice sensations in the body. Thanks to a well-developed nervous system, our bodies are always able to tell us something about how we feel at the current moment. Sometimes the simplicity of a yoga practice helps us to tune into how we’re feeling in a way that a more complex activity, such as playing sports, does not.
  3. It’s breath-centered. Nothing brings you into the present moment and reaffirms your safety like a deep breath. Just 60-90 seconds of deep belly breathing can calm the hyper-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system “fight or flight” response. An hour or 30 minutes of mindful, breath-based movement brings your body and your mind into a calmed state to more easily process events.

Talk to your therapist about the benefits of pairing your treatment with yoga. Michele, our in-house yoga instructor, has worked with individuals dealing with issues of trauma, grief, addiction, and disordered eating. A season of private sessions might give you the confidence and the tools to take your practice into a studio setting, or set you up for a simple home practice. If you’re already wanting a studio-based practice, Peggy at Hot Yoga Findlay uses EMBER, a trauma-sensitive approach to yoga.


What Now?

Perhaps this new understanding has you wondering if you could benefit from EMDR, and this might be the case. Another option is to explore ways your body can help you navigate stress.

  1. Sleep more. A minimum of 8 hours, and more when necessary. Sleep is when the brain flushes most effectively, so give it ample opportunity to release unhelpful memories.
  2. Move more. Engage your whole body through walking, running, hiking, yoga, biking, swimming, or even simply bi-lateral movements or stretches. Let your body give your brain the nudge to process the days’ sensations and memories.
  3. Sit more. A practice of sitting comfortably and noticing your breath and the sensations of your body quiets the bodily systems. Here you can shift away from the problem-solving side of your brain. You’ll decrease the amount of stress hormones washing through the body and find a sense of relaxation needed to help your overall processing of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

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The Mind Body Connection: Explained

The Mind Body Connection: Explained

The Mind Body Connection: Explained

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a form of mental health treatment that has primarily been used to address the effects of trauma.  At Mind Body Health Associates, all of our clinicians are trained in EMDR and use it in their office as a form of therapy. While this treatment modality has been effective for a subgroup of our clients, it’s important to know that at MBHA, EMDR is more than a form of treatment – it’s a philosophy that undergirds our treatment approach with all.  Every session is held with the understanding that the body and the mind work together to restore health, which affirms the starting point of EMDR.

The brain, all day, every day, takes in sensory information. As it takes in our surroundings and daily events, the mind establishes a narrative around it. Essentially, we each tell ourselves a story about our life and this forms or supports the pieces that make up our identity.

While sleeping, those events and that narrative is processed; essentially they are broken down, made sense of, and either stored as longer term memories or flushed through our system. The important pieces of information find a home within our mind, forming memories. The unessential flow outward. (Research is still new in this area of how these moments get removed from our system, but we have some indication that it’s through the lymphatic system of our bodies.)

People who have survived trauma have experienced moments so terrifying that the mind does not know how to process or make sense of them. By definition, a trauma is something life threatening that does not make sense, is unpredictable, and is out of our control.  Instead of getting processed and “flushed out” during our nightly REM stage mental clean up, these moments essentially get stuck and processing is left unfinished. The presence of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline contribute to the “sticking” of these experiences.  The brain continues to take in new information about each day, but all of these new moments pass by the the traumatic reference on their way to finding their home as memories. Some new memories can accumulate around the stuck experience, slowing the process of brain function.

However, it’s not just Traumatic experiences (commonly involving loss of person or power, such as grief or abuse) that can clog up the nightly flushing process. Holly Schweitzer Dunn refers to these as “big T Trauma” and explains that most people experience “little t trauma” at different moments in life. Jayne Williams chimes in: “we all have moments in our lives that are hard, and it depends on how we are able to process them that determines how they affect us.” Some “little t trauma” moments that aren’t able to be vocalized with close friends or family members in a supportive environment can also get lodged into our minds in a similar manner. This creates negative beliefs about ourselves and/or the world.

Usually, there comes a point where the brain becomes so overwhelmed that daily experiences cannot be processed appropriately. A person in this state cannot sleep, sees changes in appetite, experiences difficulty functioning in daily life, sometimes with symptoms of depression or anxiety. This is often when someone will call the office for help.

But as humans, we have amazing capacity for healing, and our bodies and our minds constantly work towards health. Our cut skin will grow back together and heal – unless it’s blocked, like when we experience a splinter. Even that small shard will prevent healing until it’s put in its appropriate place.

Similarly, our experiences and the way they are processed into our bodies are programmed for healing. Until the problematic experience is fully processed, our body and our subconscious mind will keep returning to it in an attempt to process it. It could be through the rumination symptom of depression, when our minds keep playing it over and over. Or, at a level less obvious to our awareness, we could simply be attempting to process an experience as we take on negative beliefs about ourselves and our world. For example, perhaps you were told at a young age that yellow was an ugly color. You might not have outward feelings toward the color yellow, but you might regularly have moments where you avoid the color yellow when given a choice, because the color yellow is that unprocessed memory coming to the surface, asking to be stored or discarded.

As a therapy tool, EMDR re-processes the memory with a different emotion or belief about the self. In a safe and supportive setting, we use the calming effect that movement has on the nervous system, such as moving the eyes, to begin to move the experience through channels of the mind. Much like a car stuck in the ruts of mud, we use movements to get the neural networks of the brain moving.

By keeping one proverbial foot in the present moment and recalling the past, we are able to attach new meaning to our experiences that draw up different emotions and beliefs about ourselves and the world. Working with a therapist to notice the sensations of the body when thinking about the color yellow, for example, we can notice the way these sensations also show up in other ways. Perhaps our belly clenches and our jaw gets tight when we think about the color yellow, but we also feel those sensations when we hear loved ones argue. Through the act of noticing, we can begin to tell ourselves a new story – not just about the color yellow, but about what is true when we feel these sensations. A clenched belly and a tight jaw can be translated, and we begin to say, “oh, I feel that thing again. What is happening around me that I might not realize is causing me to react?”

Whether or not your therapist and you agree to get out a light board or utilize sound tones in a formal EMDR session, much of your work with any clinical issue in our office centers on the function of past experiences and present sensations. We bring awareness of our body into treatment because it helps us to understand the story we’ve been telling ourselves about who we are and the world around us. And once we understand that story, we can address the negative and positive elements of it.

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