Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mind-Body Connection Exercises

One effective exercise is simply to bring your attention to the present sensations in your body. For example, right now, as you sit reading this article, take a moment to close your eyes and see what you are aware of on a “body level.” Sense the weight of your body—how is it resting against the chair? How is the floor supporting your feet? Notice your breathing—how does your breath move your body? What else do you notice? Are there areas of discomfort? Are some parts of you harder to sense? Do some areas feel pleasurable and peaceful? Try to notice what is there without judgment or needing to change anything. Just be open and curious.

Simply witnessing and acknowledging what arises is a mind-body connection. Practicing this activity can help you become aware of—and maybe even let go of—reactive thoughts or sensations. It’s easier to let go of unhelpful feelings and reactions if we can first recognize them.

Try this exercise in different situations—for example, when you are stuck in a traffic jam. Instead of succumbing to growing anger and frustration, see if you can get into the felt-sense of that situation. Is your grip on the steering wheel tighter? What about the feeling in your gut? Perhaps your brow is furrowed and your jaw or teeth clenched. Once you experience these bodily sensations and realize they cannot improve the situa¬tion, you are in a position to release them.

Or perhaps you find yourself lying awake at night with racing thoughts. The more you try to shut down your brain, the more anxious you become, and the cycle intensifies. To calm your mind, try sensing what is happening below your head. You may notice physical sensations like your heart pounding in your chest or tightness in your solar plexus. See if you can notice how your body is making contact with the mattress and pillow, and try to feel your breath. Or see if you can recall the sense of total relaxation you have experienced at the end of a yoga class, during a massage, or while watching ocean waves lap at the shoreline. Bringing background information/sensations to the foreground results in a different perspective. This new viewpoint can slow down your reactions and cre¬ate more space, allowing for options beyond your usual conditioned responses. In this case, it may be the key to falling back to sleep.

This awareness can be beneficial in many life situations. By simply witnessing events, experiencing our environment, and observing our physical and emotional sensations in response to whatever arises, we can become more open and curious, and awaken to life and to our selves.

Donna Waks: Registered Craniosacral Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Movement Analyst has a private practice in Washington, DC where she offers individual and group sessions in bodywork and movement fundamentals. Her clientele includes, athletes, pre- and post-natal, elderly, acute or chronic health issues and people dealing with day to day stress.

Friday, March 7, 2008


We all know that the incidence of obesity is increasing dramatically in children and adults, but how do we stop it? The answer is simple- Focus on Five and Exercise. Focus on eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetable a day and exercising daily. Make up you mind and focus on health.

We, as a nation, are accustomed to eating fast and frequent, and our waistlines, knees and hips are screaming in agony because of it. Fresh fruits and vegetables are either nonexistent in our meals or poured from a can. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are usually heavy on simple carbohydrates and fats. The end result: Metabolic Syndrome.

This syndrome affects 58 million people in this country. The hallmarks of this syndrome are: increased cholesterol(LDL) and triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, high C-reactive protein levels (proinflammatory state), and elevated fibrinogen levels (excess clotting). Abnormal glucose levels round out this disorder. The end result of metablic syndrome is diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke. Recent research also demonstrates that Alzheimers is probably related to this syndrome as well. All of us want to live long and prosper, but how many of us will be healthy in our old age. How are you living?

As a mom, I realize that it is my responsibility to see that my family legacy is one of health and wellness-not metabolic syndrome. I truly believe that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. As such, I have taken a pledge:
1. I choose to expose myself and my children to a variety of food choices which incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. I choose to cook and to teach my children to cook for themselves as well.
3. I choose to incorporate physical activity into my daily life.
4. I choose to “Focus on Five and Exercise”

Join me and take the pledge. Rock and Rule!

Vicki Reese, M.D.

5 A Day CSA was started to provide locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals and families. Studies have shown that those who eat more fruits and vegetables have lower rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and hypertension.