EMDR, Mind/Body Approach, Weight Loss and Eating Disorders (http://www.mindfulyoutherapy.com)

To really understand what is vital to weight loss, we have to take a holistic mind/body approach. Current research provides more evidence that our physiological health, immunity and mental well-being are interdependent. For example, the neurochemicals responsible for emotional processing bind to receptor cell sites all over our body. Renowned researcher Candace Pert suggests that this means our body is actually our subconscious mind! When you consider that our gut is populated with huge clusters of receptors for emotional processing, the importance of a mind/body integrated approach to healing becomes ever more clear.

Dr. Bruce Lipton is leading the way in the field of ‘epigenetics, ’ which is showing that unlike previously thought, our DNA is not ‘locked’ in a predetermined mode in our cells. Rather, it is affected by external stimuli–including thoughts–which shape how genetic cellular information is released. In other words, we don’t necessarily inherit our body shape, disease or other factors genetically!

When it comes to a psychotherapy approach to addressing weight issues, it is crucial to examine how our current perception/feeling about ourselves is being ‘distorted’ by past experiences. While we tend to think of ‘trauma’ as being involved in life-threatening situations, psychological research is also now confirming that disorders such as depression and anxiety are the result of cumulative negative small ‘t’ traumas built up over time. Our system experiences trauma as any overwhelm to equilibrium, and when we face these situations, our natural response is to go into a limbic or ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Unfortunately, when this happens, we lose the ability to ‘finish’ with the event, and it stays ‘frozen’ in our nervous system, getting continuously re-triggered by present situations. Thus, our ability to shed old overwhelm to the system is often reflected in our physical condition–sometimes it simply means we ‘armour’ ourselves unconsciously with layers of extra body fat.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly effective mind/body approach that heals these past traumas, and quickly allows for self-healing in the present. Simply put, by safely connecting to past events pinpointed by the therapist, the client can ‘finish’ processing the stuck physiological experience and come back to equilibrium in the present. Thus, their entire system can come back into balance–shutting off the old alarms (stress hormones, etc) and letting their body function normally. One crucial element involved is the stress hormone Cortisol. When a person is triggered into an old trauma state, the Cortisol is activated–this hormone causes a person to not only crave carbohydrates to compensate for feelings of panic or depression, but also stores fat in the body!

EMDR is the most researched and clinically tested therapy approach to date for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When you consider this, applying it to body weight/image issues makes it a very powerful tool for helping a person connect with positive beliefs and to take action to better their life in every way.

Michael Gordon, MSc, EMDR
Director, Mindful You Therapy Clinic
Vancouver, BC

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Experts say “popping” kids can do more harm than good. A new study of more than 2, 500 toddlers from low-income families found that spanking may have detrimental effects on behavior and mental development.


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From: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18524911.600-13-things-that-do-not-make-sense.html?full=true

Don’t try this at home. Several times a day, for several days, you induce pain in someone. You control the pain with morphine until the final day of the experiment, when you replace the morphine with saline solution. Guess what? The saline takes the pain away.

This is the placebo effect: somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful. Except it’s not quite nothing. When Fabrizio Benedetti of the University of Turin in Italy carried out the above experiment, he added a final twist by adding naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of morphine, to the saline. The shocking result? The pain-relieving power of saline solution disappeared.

So what is going on? Doctors have known about the placebo effect for decades, and the naloxone result seems to show that the placebo effect is somehow biochemical. But apart from that, we simply don’t know.

Benedetti has since shown that a saline placebo can also reduce tremors and muscle stiffness in people with Parkinson’s disease. He and his team measured the activity of neurons in the patients’ brains as they administered the saline. They found that individual neurons in the subthalamic nucleus (a common target for surgical attempts to relieve Parkinson’s symptoms) began to fire less often when the saline was given, and with fewer “bursts” of firing – another feature associated with Parkinson’s. The neuron activity decreased at the same time as the symptoms improved: the saline was definitely doing something.

We have a lot to learn about what is happening here, Benedetti says, but one thing is clear: the mind can affect the body’s biochemistry. “The relationship between expectation and therapeutic outcome is a wonderful model to understand mind-body interaction, ” he says. Researchers now need to identify when and where placebo works. There may be diseases in which it has no effect. There may be a common mechanism in different illnesses. As yet, we just don’t know.

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Taming The Wild Horse:
A Talk On Moving From Fear and Agression To Calm In Daily Life with Michael Gordon
Sept. 3rd 7pm

Sponsored by Awake In Action, a program of the Vancouver Shambhala Centre.
Vancouver Shambhala Center
3275 Heather Street
Vancouver, BC

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Please visit http://www.mindfulyoutherapy.com for online therapy now.

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Winston Churchill famously used them. So did the Dalai Lama. So what are they? Not, as you might have suspected: “I love you.” However, they are equally if not more powerful. So here they are, three simple words that contain a lot of power: NEVER…GIVE…UP. This credo, certainly in the context of WWII and Churchill’s fireside calls-to-arms to the beleaguered British nation might seem self-evident in difficult moments, even the direst of circumstances. When it comes to our own ‘blind spots, ’ however, its meaning is easily lost amidst a cacophony of negative beliefs, emotions and sensations.

Somewhere in your life is a partner, coworker, family member, pet or a situation that seems hopeless. It may regard health, finances or the success of a venture. Certainly, with any one of those things, we may not have the control we desire over the outcome. Situations can be extremely disheartening. And here is an interesting word. Did you know that the root of the word “courage” is coeur, from the french word for “heart.” So, to have courage literally means to have “heart.” This is a profound notion, because it belies our conventional association with bravery and courage, that of resolve, strength, conviction, force. While these elements hold true, at the center is the strength and will of the heart. More specifically, it is the ability to keep an open heart, to risk being wounded and feeling uncertainty in tough times, one which allows us to remain undaunted and fully human in the most heinous situations.

Often in difficult moments, there is a sense of injustice or injury. Certainly, there are times (think of Nelson Mandela in prison, or the exiled Dalai Lama) where there is persecution. The key to our own humanity and strength is not in bolstering some kind of internal fortitude from anger or resistance, but from, as the Dalai Lama reminds us, that even in the face of the most objectionable and injurious behaviour from others, even our enemies, on some level, seek happiness. This is a profound realization, and the ability to see how another’s humanity–not to mention our own instinct for understanding–has seemingly gone awry, is mediated by this ‘intelligence of the heart.’

The next time you feel angry, misjudged or even insignificant in the face of trying times, let the hardness of your heart soften, and notice the pain, for under it and all the associated hopes, fears and fantasies is essentially the vibrant open spaciousness of open-hearted compassion. As Gandhi so bravely pointed out: “Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.”

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(Click on photos to enlarge)

It was a magical day from the start. I took my Max for a walk while the moon–full and silvery in the early morning twilight–slowly made its descent for the rising of Great Eastern Sun. And so, with an auspicious beginning, the sky opened, the rain gave way, and 20 good-hearted volunteers gathered at lunch hour in the Downtown Eastide to serve warm baked potatoes freshly prepared in their home kitchens.

We served roughly 300 potatoes with full trimmings to hundreds of very grateful people from the community. It was a heartwarming event for the volunteers, and the people congregated at Pigeon Park alike, sharing in the spirit of human-to-human kindness and sharing.

The event was co-sponsored and organized by Mindfulyou.com and Awakeinaction.org–many folks from the Vancouver Shambhala Center attended.

My sincere thanks to all the volunteers for making this first event an easy and outstanding success. My special heartfelt thanks to Lisa Hill from awakeinaction.org, for her unwavering enthusiasm and generosity of spirit, and to Ben Harapat (thegranolaking.com) for bringing his tent awning!

A huge and heartfelt thank you goes to http://www.greenearthorganics.com, who donated 50lbs of organic potatoes; and Stong’s Market on Dunbar Street in Vancouver, for donating another 50lbs!

Please drop a line and stay tuned for future dharma events…

Michael Gordon

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It is with sadness that the world has lost Anita Roddick, a tireless advocate for social, economic and environmental change. Roddick had only recently been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, contracted from a blood transfusion during childbirth in 1971.

Roddick leaves an incredible legacy as anĀ  ethical entrepeneur and global citizen, and has transformed the awareness of masses of people worldwide, while giving them alternatives to mindless consumerism.

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An article by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, From the OCT/NOV 2005 issue of Seed proposes a partnership that may advance our understanding of the experience of consciousness to help us alleviate suffering.

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mykheadsmall.jpgYou’ve taken the first step, which is having the courage to admit to yourself that what you are doing, the way you are living, isn’t working for you, and that you need help. Before this awareness has really sunk in, you are faced with the daunting task of filtering through the haze of therapists and practicioners out there to find someone suitable. So how do you go about it?

There is no magic solution when it comes to finding the right therapist. However, one thing stands out among all other considerations: TRUST. I don’t mean confidentiality, as this is a professional requirement, liability and ethical standard. What I mean is that first and foremost, no matter how you come across your potential therapist, do your due diligence. Were they referred to you? By whom, a trusted friend? Someone with whom you share intimate feelings/insights, a family member, or a work acquaintance? What was it about this counsellor/coach that moved the person to recommend them?

Remember, this is a unique relationship. As my mentor told me when I begain working with him: “Welcome to the most honest relationship you’ve ever had.” He was right, and what made it honest was that I trusted him–his feeling, his empathy, his directness and unwillingness to put up with nonsense responses, his care and his brilliant insights and interventions.You are paying for this service, so you want to choose someone who will give you not only value for their fee, but also for your hard work emotionally, and your investment of trust in them. No number of university degrees or qualifications can make up for the connection you find with the right therapist. Don’t get me wrong, qualifications are very important–they are an indicator of professional credibility and training. At the same time, no one can train someone to be a great therapist–this is a quality that is relative to the client’s experience, and also an innate ability to imbue trust, vulnerability and willingness to share openly. Without this feeling between you, you might progress intellectually while remaining emotionally stuck. Therapy is not an intellectual process. My mentor also hipped me to that. Intellect for me was a survival tool, and part of the problem!

I once went to a psychotherapist whom I found out a good friend had also seen. My friend had recently ended a tumultuous relationship with a woman, and was confused and distraught in a number of ways, as happens. However, he only lasted a single session with this therapist. Why? Because the therapist made a rash suggestion that my friend say something to his now ex-girlfriend in a confrontational manner, which my friend thought inappropirate, unrealistic and just not correct. “I can’t say that!” said my friend. He said the therapist got very uncomfortable, defensive and his eye started to twitch involuntarily, saying “Well….why not!?” The point of this story is that while this therapist was for the most part very suitable and helpful for me, he was just so wrong for my friend. There’s no right or wrong, just what’s right for you. That said, a good therapist will screen clients as well, saying no thanks to the ones who are not ready to change or do the work. So it goes both ways.

If you are dealing with specific issues, such as addiction, eating disorders, sexual orientation and so on, you are best to find someone whom specializes in the issues at hand. Perhaps the most liberating aspect of therapy–apart from emotional growth and release–is the self-affirmation that one has finally chosen a truthful, respectful and mutual relationship. If fees are an issue for you, any good therapist will offer a sliding scale. However, a word of caution. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Better to ask for a reduction in fee from someone whom is skilled, experienced and/or accredited than to go low-balling for fees. There is no greater investment than yourself, so whatever your budget, you want to make sure your choice reflects a conscious decision to get the best value you can–with the above hints in mind–rather than the best deal. Trust your intuition–it’s what guides us, and what has guided you on your journey through life to this crossroads. Once you commit, no matter if you change course (or therapists) along the way, you’ve already begun the long journey that begins with a single step.

Michael Gordon May 16th 2007, Vancouver

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