I’m in Arlington, VA at a conference put on by the Mind-Body Institute. James Gordon started the institute about 20 years ago after realizing his Western medicine training was just not enough. It’s a long story, but I highly recommend reading his books. Specifically, the new one, Unstuck, and a previous one, A Manifesto for a New Medicine. He explains, physiologically, how the body systems interact (think: being stressed out reduces your immune system’s ability to fight illness, etc.). It’s riveting. No, I’m not kidding. The people here, all 270 of them, are here because they want to explore the connections and then use the knowledge and experience to help people.
When I’m in a place like this, with people like this, I realize that I’m not quite the island I often think I am when I’m at home trying to “sell” wellness. Obviously, the people who read my posts already either (1) like me or (2) have some interest in wellness. So, I’m not saying that no one I know has the same outlook on health that I have. But, to be in the middle of this many people who care this much is just awesome.
We’re learning techniques for helping people explore and make connections to improve their health, reduce their risks for disease, and to ease and “cure” disease itself. The most interesting thing I’ve learned so far is that it’s only status quo that prevents us from using mind-body techniques in all medical/health efforts—it’s not for lack of research showing that these “alternative” techniques work. They’ve been proven. I suppose they don’t, however, have pharmaceuticals on their side…just some really freakin’ smart people who want nothing more than to spread the word and help people take ownership of their own wellness.
I’ll leave you with one tip and one task.
Whatever you know about meditation, let that go and start over.
We, as a culture, don’t meditate because it’s hard to stay focused and empty the head of thoughts. I’m learning that the problem really is that we have the wrong idea about what meditation is.
One way you can meditate that is super easy? Dance.
Turn on the music in your living room, move the coffee table, and dance. The physiological occurrences in the body impact the endocrine system and the immune system. They release tension and take away the usual inhibitions that your subconscious mind blocks you in with. Ultimately—you increase your health and happiness and decrease your disease risk factors.
I didn’t realize I was already doing this when Matthew was a baby—but he and I spent several months essentially alone together. Twenty-four hours a day, we cuddled and napped and it’s possible the only time I put him down was when he was sleeping (and not always then). One of our favorite things to do, anytime of the day or night, was to turn on the Mozart for pregnancy cd that I had bought my sister when she got pregnant. Then we danced. The most prevalent memory I have of this was in the middle of the night when we danced around the living room while the rest of our world slept. Later, at my Mom’s house, we danced to the Sesame Street cds whenever we were feeling blah or down in the winter, when we needed a boost to our day, or when we just felt like it—our favorite song? I Love Trash, covered by Aerosmith. Now, we pick and choose our songs, and also rely heavily on the radio—we even have dance parties in the car (still in seat belts, of course) at red lights and in parking lots. When my almost-seven year-old boy is bordering on grouchy…I coax him back to his lovey self with dance. When he’s ready to play, and I’m lacking the gumption, I rev myself up by dancing with him.
In my living room, we take turns doing dances for each other, and we dance together—and both of us dance terribly, but it’s ok because it’s fun, freeing, and inadvertently we both developed this meditation practice together. I guess we don’t have to call it meditation, but apparently that’s what it is—I highly recommend it!