A Therapist’s Survival Guide to Love and Dating

Over the last few years, I have become both personally and professionally fascinated by the topics of love, relationships and dating in our increasingly app-enabled world. My exploration began with jotting down comedic notes about the people and situations I encountered while dating as a single, mostly cis-female in the late 2010’s. Over time, I began to notice specific themes arising around elements of personal development, self-esteem, and self-love.

As you might imagine, some of these dates were fun, most were disappointing, but each experience elucidated gems of transpersonal wisdom. Albeit painful at times, exploring the digital dating landscape through the psychological lens of a therapist led me to not only learn deeply about myself, it inspired me to think about how I could help others navigate this often perilous process with more ease and grace.

I’m currently writing a book on the subject and I would love to get a wide range of perspectives of relationships in the modern world. Whether you’re single, actively dating, or in a committed partnership, I welcome your insight!

If you’re interested, below is a link to a survey where you can share your thoughts. Your participation will be anonymous, but you can submit your email address to enter a drawing for a free bodywork, healing, or somatic psychotherapy therapy session valued at $220.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

With deep gratitude and warmest wishes,

Romi


 

Open to Gratitude

Effective Self Care Practices during Challenging Times

Welcome to my website and I hope this finds you well. There is so much going on in the world right now and it is especially important to focus on self care, especially when we feel pulled into a phase of depression, anxiety, or despondency. Although these are not simple times, there are simple things you can do to support yourself. There is currently a short waitlist for psychotherapy and bodywork, but feel free to message me here if you are interested.

 

1. Create a Gratitude Practice

 

What are you grateful for? Think of three things every morning and every evening and write them down, think about them consciously, or journal about them if you have more time. This is an extremely powerful self care practice. One client I worked did this every day for a few months while he was job-searching. He reduced his anxiety and was chosen out of 365 people for a coveted sales position. Granted, he’s a bad-ass and earned that position, however the positive mindset helped him shift out of negative cognitive patterns. In his book “Tools of the Titans”, Internationally known author and podcast host Tim Ferris suggests adding the following:

 

Morning

  • Three things you are grateful for

  • One thing that could make this day better

  • Three affirmations that speak to you (“I am kind”, “I am whole”, etc.)  

Evening

  • Write down anything amazing (or good) that happened that day

  • How could you have made that day better?

 

2. Consider a Cleanse or Gentle Detox

 

 

These are challenging times and the world is experiencing ecological and social disasters like never before. We are a global community and even those of us fortunate enough to have supportive resources may be persistently inundated with external stimuli, or internal preoccupation that gets in the way of self care.

 

Feelings of overwhelm, exasperation, and fear can be debilitating and may lead to unhealthy coping strategies, like consuming excess sugar, alcohol, processed food, or drugs. Disassociating with TV or gaming is also an unhealthy coping mechanism when done in excess.

 

The body will tell you when you are ready for a cleanse. It is important to desire change and be ready to limit or remove unhealthy behaviors. Now when I say “ready”, I don’t mean doing cartwheels ready. Cleanses may be difficult.  And in my experience, once I get going, joy and balance are provoked through the process of consciously honoring and clearing out the body.

 

Cleanses support us to slowly (or rapidly) eliminate things that are bad for us, and through the detoxification and rebuilding process, we are better able to feel the positive effects of healthy food, movement, supplements, and clean water. When the body starts to recognize what healthy and normal is, we build healthier habits for the long-term.

 

I am inspired by a product line that supports and nourishes the cleansing process and increases good self care habits. I have been using these products and have seen amazing results. There are so many benefits, but I’ll list just a few. The all-organic, GMO-free green shake and amino acid/gut health supplements have regulated my moon, cleared my skin, and supported motivation and productivity.

 

If you are interested in beginning your own transformational cleanse and would like to learn more about these products and receive support, message me here.  It is an amazing experience that may transform your life and wellbeing.

 

3. Move Your Body Every Day

 

 

This is not rocket science, but unfortunately the mind loves to paint it that way, or recruit the inner critic instead of the inner bad-ass. If you’re out of practice, do something every day that moves your blood and body. Start with twenty minutes and slowly increase. Or, commit to a hour, three to four times a week and notice how you feel. If you miss a day or a week, don’t beat yourself up and try again. 

 

Movement supports the production of dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, testosterone, and increases endorphins, so there is no question that movement, alongside therapy (and in some cases medication), is crucial for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that a brisk walk combats depression and when done regularly, increases the efficacy of therapy by 75% (Scientific America, 2015).

 

Some Ideas: Walking in Nature, Yoga with slow, deep breathing, Stretching (add music or a podcast if you are easily distracted), Ride your bike, Strength-training, Dance, etc. Youtube has an awesome free fitness channels as well.

 

Go-to stress relieving breath practice         

*If you do not meditate, try this instead in the morning Set a timer for 5-15 minutes

 

Inhale for a count of 4
Hold your breath for 4-8 counts
Exhale 5-7 counts

 

 

4. Social Support

 

 

Developing a healthy social support network is crucial for mental health and self care. Make sure to be in regular contact with your closest friends and family members. Schedule activities, phone calls or videos chats weekly, especially when you know you are having a hard week. My out of town friends and I love the app “Marco Polo” for video exchanging. It works better than Face-time if you’re busy and can’t get to your phone in real-time.

 

Click here to read my article on trauma fatigue and how to better understand the body’s fight/flight/freeze response. Additional video resource for empaths below.

 

Sending healing wishes your way,

 

-Romi

 

 

Being an Empath Today: Surviving and Thriving with the Gift of Sensitivity: I appreciated this Video by Dr. Judith Orloff  which offers insight into what empaths experience, as well as some basic tools. 

Trauma Fatigue: Responding to Stress During Difficult Times

Trauma Fatigue

We have entered a time in history when traumatic occurrences are happening so frequently, there is hardly time to process one event before another is shoved into view. After the world revolted to protest the death of George Floyd and support Black Lives Matter, more lives continue to be threatened by human ignorance and brutality. Observing the current political climate is painful and for many of us, intolerable. And over the last month, and ahead of a fire season that no longer exists, the West has seen unprecedented destruction due to climate change-driven wildfires, with over two and a half million acres already destroyed. On top of all of this, a global pandemic continues to affect the health and economic strength of the world, and leaders in science and medicine are continually vilified in order to fulfill political agendas. 

Although violence and destruction are part of the human experience, traumatic occurrences are pummeling humanity like a persistent over-head swell. We are not wired to repeatedly experience trauma and function efficiently, therefore there has never been a more important time to tend to our emotional shores. I realize the word trauma carries a lot of charge and is relative to the experience of the individual. So for the sake of this article, I will place trauma into three categories: Big-T trauma, little-t trauma, and debilitating external stimuli, all of which may affect an individual’s equilibrium by limiting functioning and blocking much-needed relational connection and healing.

The current influx of environmental and social destruction is affecting the global psyche and for many of us, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see the forest from the burned trees. Tending to our emotional shores means committing to staying present in the moment, sensing tension in the body, and nurturing awareness practices that honor our precious time here on earth. When we pay greater attention to our inner structure of defense and protection (fight/flight/freeze response), we become more capable of reacting to the world in a way that is beneficial to well-being. Constantly panicking about the world, feeding fear, and consuming excess media leads to a dysregulated nervous system. Choosing to operate in this manner is not helping you, nor anyone else stay healthy. We all go there at times because we are mammals wired to defend ourselves. It is important to have compassion for the part of the brain that is conditioned to anticipate predation, real or imagined. That being said, committing to daily practices that regulate the nervous system supports health by reducing cortisol and promoting healthy immune-response in the body. The more we become aware of how thoughts, feelings, and body sensations negatively affect us, the better armed we become to attenuate negative response patterns driven by fear and anxiety. When you are confronted with an internal or external crisis and feel unable to utilize supportive resources, think about your patterns of defense and how to work with them. 

Withdrawal

Withdrawal, also know as the “freeze” response, is a primitive defense function deeply wired in the brain to increase the likelihood of survival. When the system becomes flooded with negative information and uncomfortable feelings or emotions, many people unconsciously enter a state of physical or emotional immobility. We distance ourselves from the input we are unable to tolerate and in doing so, also distance ourselves from good feelings and experiences that are there to support and regulate us. The body may feel closed off, and interpersonal connection becomes limited or nonexistent. In this peculiar era of social distancing, it is important to pay attention to the part of ourselves that wants to shut down and tune out, especially since social contact is already limited.

The first step in healing patterns of withdrawal is noticing your behavior. 

When you feel sad, angry, or frustrated, do you shut down? Do you limit social contact and go quiet instead of reaching out to a friend or family member? Do you turn to substances to numb the pain? How does your mood change? Do you stop engaging in activities you would otherwise enjoy? Do you stop exercising or move less? If so, you are most likely attempting to protect yourself, yet are doing so in a way that may be disconnecting you from the healing your body, mind, and spirit so desperately needs for balance. 

When you withdraw, do you feel disconnected from your body? How does the breath feel? Is it shallow, tight, heavy, or barely there? Is there less sensation in your legs and feet and more in the upper centers of the body? Is there no sensation at all? It is through the recognition of darkness that we are able to look towards the light and disarm unhealthy patters of avoidance, somatic tension, and withdrawal. If you tend to withdraw when you feel compromised, do what you can to feel more embodied and connected to your thoughts and feelings.  After conducting extensive research on interpersonal neurobiology, contemporary psychiatrist Dan Siegel M.D. coined the phrase, “If you can name it, you can tame it”. By naming our experiences, we acknowledge what is happening in the here and now and become more able to reclaim a sense of self and belonging. By naming our experiences, we acknowledge what is happening in the here and now and become more able to reclaim a sense of self and belonging. 

When practicing somatic (body) awareness, individuals who withdraw or freeze often say things like: 

“I feel numb”

or,

“I am having difficulty identifying sensation”

“I feel like I am floating upward”

“I feel walled up”

What does walled up feel like? 

“…it feels dull, dense, and cold”

 

Anxiety (Fight or Flight)

When the system becomes flooded with negative input and uncomfortable feelings or emotions, many people enter a state of moderate to extreme anxiety. This response is often associated with what is known as the “fight or flight” response, instigated by the sympathetic nervous system branch, and frequently associated with states of heightened anxiety. Similar to an immobility response (withdrawal/freeze), this defense mechanism is neurologically wired in the primitive part of the brain, and was designed to help mammals move away from, or fight their adversaries. As the nervous system becomes flooded, it feels natural for people experiencing a fight or flight response to react to stimuli, rather than withdraw from it, although sometimes there is a fluctuation between all three response patterns. When the flight or flight response is in full-swing, it can feel as though we are being carried away by an internal storm that crashes over everything and everyone in its hyper-aroused path. Although what we desperately need is these moments is regulation and support, what we exhibit often ends up pushing away connection, therefore sabotaging the likelihood that deeply vulnerable needs get met. 

In this era of heightened arousal and anxiety, the first step in easing symptoms is acknowledging them. 

When naming the sensation, thought, or feeling, we are better able to disarm unhealthy patterns of reactivity, anger, and anxiety. From this place, it becomes more feasible to seek support, develop coping skills, and start moving towards connection.

If you struggle with symptoms of stress and anxiety, try slowing down and checking in with yourself. How many hours, days, or weeks have you been aware of the symptoms? Do you react quickly rather than pause, and take a few mindful breaths? Do you feel unsafe in your environment even when there is no tangible threat? Do you feel distrustful of others or demand that they listen to you? Where does anxiety manifest in your body? How would you describe it? Do something every day to get in touch with these feelings. 

 

Common things said by individuals who feel anxious or are operating from a fight or flight response:

 

“My shoulders and back feel tense and tight”

“I feel like something is pinching my chest”

“My mind won’t stop racing”

“It feels like there is a ball bouncing around in my head” 

“It feels like there are butterflies under my skin”

“I want to escape”

“I don’t feel safe” 

What makes you not feel safe? 

“…I feel like walls are closing in on me”

 

Few humans become nervous system-regulating Jedis by practicing stress reduction occasionally. Take time each day for either self-care or somatic (body-centered) awareness. It is a practice that needs to be cultivated. Your nervous system and loved ones will thank you. 

Quick and powerful breath practice: Antara Kumbhaka

Antara Kumbhaka aids relaxation, decreases stress, improves concentration, and increases physical and mental energy.

  • Set a timer for 5-10 minutes
  • Inhale through your nose
  • Hold your breath for a few seconds (or more)  
  • Exhale slowly through your nose (a bit longer than your inhale)

Although these are challenging times, we have an abundance of resources at our finger tips. You owe it to yourself and your cause to continue taking loving care of yourself and others. 

Self-care ideas: Exercise, nature exploration, camping, meditation, getting more sleep, calling a friend, gardening, yoga, writing, cooking, creating or listening to music, being of service, activism, reading, sitting with feelings, reducing media consumption, learning something new, podcasts, educational videos, hot baths, sunshine, crying, resting.

Romi Cumes LMFT, CMT is a leading professional in somatic psychotherapy, intuitive healing, bodywork, and yoga. She has been passionate about healing work for over twenty years and created Transformative Healing Arts in 2005. Her private practice is located in Santa Barbara, California.

Connect with Your Calling

Connect with your Calling

Isn’t it interesting how we can spend years and years dedicating ourselves to something, yet still self-scrutinize? I am here right now to remind you, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE (of your inner critic). 

It takes diligence and attentive action to make sure you are on the path that is in alignment with who you truly are. We may feel immensely challenged when we question and confront what our calling actually is, especially when it is not crystal clear. Connecting with your calling can feel extremely confusing, therefore sometimes surrendering to the moment is the best strategy.

Surrender and Observe

Sit with yourself. Feel the sensations in your body and pay attention to them. Where do you feel space and ease in your body? Where does it feel tight or agitated? Breathe into it. It only takes five to ten minutes to explore what how the body is responding to what is happening in the moment. Exploring body-centered (somatic) awareness is profoundly simple. It doesn’t take a four-week course. It doesn’t require an expert yogi or therapist, and when utilized effectively, it can assist you to clarify what drives you, both conscious and unconscious aspects. So next time your inner critic rears its ugly head, observe it, just as you so easily observe all the things you love in life.

Can you enter each day knowing that you are being more of who you are meant to be without judging yourself, blaming others, or wishing you were someone else? It’s hard, I know. It’s so easy to lean towards self-deprecation, even for the most confident of souls. What will it take to truly accept where you are and who you are? Can you move in the direction your higher self intends, and at the same time cut yourself a little slack? My sense is that this is the ultimate mission and ultimate quandary.

It is quite easy to ignore everything I am saying right now. It is easier to live in a comfortable bubble, absorbing the status quo and exhaling normalcy. However if you are like many of us and seek answers, if you want to squeeze out every drop of life you can because you realize life is fucking short, I encourage you to explore – like I am awkwardly doing – what you’re made of. If you have a calling to do something out of the ordinary, do it. If you feel you are in a dead-end situation at work or in your marriage, change it.

Being a bereavement counselor for two years taught me so much about the swiftness of life. Tomorrow is NOW and it’s all going to be over before we know it. There is profound beauty in being in touch with our mortality and the fragility – and dynamism – of life. Every waking second we are alive is a miracle and there is absolutely no reason you should hold back from doing what your heart longs to do (while being responsible and honoring your obligations of course, says my inner Capricorn…).

Keep being you. And, if there is a part of that you that isn’t being fully expressed, get curious about it. And if you feel you need support on this journey, feel free to schedule an appointment or reach out.

With love,

-Romi

The Neurobiology of Mindfulness

Cultivating Interpersonal Attunement through Sensory Awareness & Mindfulness Practice: The Neurobiology of Intimate Relationships

Abstract

Current research shows that individuals who practice mindfulness meditation on a consistent basis improve their quality of life through the cultivation of inner attunement, loving kindness, and empathy (Seigel, 2007).  The benefits of meditation are not dependent on religious belief systems alone, and research supports the viability of myriad approaches (2007).  Emotional dysregulation plays a significant role in interpersonal discrepancies experienced between two people in an intimate partnership.  Current neuroscience has revealed that mindfulness-based meditation practices are able to effectively regulate mood disturbances due to significant neurological pathway alterations in the brain (Hanson, 2009).   This paper posits that neurobiological changes induced by mindfulness meditation are beneficial, and support individuals to sustain healthy, romantic relationships.  Inner attunement will be observed as a barometer for interpersonal success.  Emotional regulation, communication, receptivity, attention, empathic awareness, and proprioception will be examined through the somatic lens of mind/body holism, in order to illuminate how mindfulness practice is a gateway for interpersonal health and longevity.

Key Words: Mindfulness, Meditation, Sensory Awareness, Inner Attunement, Empathy, Attention, Relationships, Neurobiology, Mirror Neurons, Emotional Regulation

 

Cultivating Interpersonal Attunement through Sensory Awareness & Mindfulness: The Neurobiology of Intimate Relationships

For thousands of years, human beings have struggled to maintain stable intimate relationships.   Emotional dysregulation plays a significant role in how people interact in an adult partnership.  Relational dynamics can evoke a wellspring of neurobiological responses that inhibit inner and outer attunement.  According to Siegle, an individual’s inner attunement is defined as the ability to be mindfully centered, with integrated left and right brain hemispheres (2007).  Interpersonal attunement relates to a felt sense of empathy for another person, as well as an experience of “coherence”    (2007, p. 164).  When human beings experience coherence, they feel more connected, harmonious, receptive, compassionate, and empathic (2007).  Mankind has not yet discovered a universal panacea to heal all relational challenges, however we have fostered ancient esoteric methodologies to support health and wellbeing.   Neuroscience supports the hypothesis that individuals who meditate are able to effectively regulate mood disturbances by way of neuropathy modulation (Hanson, 2009).  According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the operational working definition of mindfulness is, “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (2003, p. 145).

The roots of meditation can be traced back to many cultures, and most world religions adopt the belief that it is important for human beings to stay present in the moment (Siegle, 2007).  Meditation is interconnected with the religious context within which it is practiced.  Written records of meditation date back to 1500 BC in Hindu Vedantism, and it is believed that from 500-600 BC, Taoists in China and Buddhists in India began to develop culture-specific practices (Hanson, 2009).  Although meditation is often associated with a religious orientation, mindfulness-based skills can be taught outside of any particular group affiliation (2007).

 

Mind/Body Holism

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, perspectives began to evolve in psychotherapeutic and holistic communities (Benz & Weiss, 1989).  The somatic theory of Mind/Body

Holism suggests that people relate to themselves and each other as a unified and integrated whole, not separating mind and body as disparate entities (Kurtz, 1990).  According to Selver et al., (2009) the body is an instrumental part of meaningful, lasting psychological change.  Mind/body holism postulates that there is not something intrinsically wrong with a person, nor something that needs to be fixed.  Similar to Eastern spiritual philosophers, Charlotte Selver, Ron Kurtz, and many other body-centered therapists believed that people strive for wholeness by way of reorganizing the core material that is no longer appropriate for them in the present moment (1990).  Mind/body holism is theoretically congruent with mindfulness-based approaches.  It suggests that when individuals observe their experiences, their interactions with others, and their feelings during such experiences, they are more capable of seeing themselves holistically, and more likely to cultivate inner attunement and interpersonal equanimity (1990).

Despite the theoretical benefits of mind/body holism, approaches reflected through its proverbial lens are not widely promulgated across most cultures (Kurtz, 1990).  In the United States for example, life is fast-paced and production-oriented.  It may be challenging for a person unfamiliar with mind/body holism, to actively pursue a mindfulness practice for personal or interpersonal enrichment.  Although mindfulness is represented through mainstream media, and various cultures embrace ancient approaches, a majority of the world’s population does not view mind/body holism as an intrinsic way of life (Hölzel, 2008).

In order to elucidate the relationship between mindfulness, inner attunement, and relationships, I will review literature relating to neurobiology and emotional regulation. The first section will describe benefits of mindfulness practice as they pertain to intimate relationships, including: emotional regulation, communication, receptivity, attention, listening skills, empathic awareness, and proprioception.  In the second section, the neurobiological implications of mindfulness practice will be applied to a somatic-based approach called Sensory Awareness, which is considered a vehicle for interpersonal development.  The intrapersonal limitations of Sensory Awareness will also be examined.

 

The Benefits of Mindfulness: Using the “Right” Brain in Relationship

It is said that what moves through your mind can sculpt a person’s brain (Hanson, 2009).  According to Schore (2007), unconscious emotions drive all human emotion. Being able to regulate emotion supports balanced living and increases intrapersonal attunement and interpersonal ease (Hanson, 2009).  Mindfulness practices directly shape the activity and growth of the parts of the brain responsible for relationships, emotional regulation, and psychological response to stress (Siegle, 2007).  Areas of the brain activated during meditation include the limbic regions, temporal lobes, medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulated cortex, and the precuneus (Brefczynski-Lewis, Davidson, Johnstone, Lutz, 2008).  In their meditation study, Brefczynski-Lewis et al. (2008) confirmed that there is stronger activity in the right hemisphere than in the left hemisphere.  Mindfulness practice supports individuals to experience the moment for its own sake, without judgment or analysis, by activating the more self-reflective part of the brain, also known as the right cortex (Levine, 2011).  Right brain function cultivates inner attunement by supporting people to attend to feelings without the neurobiological disadvantage of emotional dysregulation (Siegel 2007).

When we operate from a place of mindfulness, we balance the verbal and non-verbal sections of the brain, are less driven by fear, and are more capable of experiencing inner attunement (Windinger, 2011).  According to Levine (2011), non-verbal [right] vs. verbal [left] parts of the brain function individually.  Life occurrences, including trauma, can consistently activate a person’s limbic system, also known as the “animal” part of the brain.  Limbic activation can lead to emotional dysregulation and can give a person the feeling that the world is not a safe place (2011).  In terms of intimate relationships, nervous system modulation becomes a valuable asset when a lover is provoked by inter-personal disputes.  What ordinarily would set off an aggravating limbic system response, can be dealt with in a more regulated manor when an individual is more attuned with themselves.

Neurobiological imaging studies of empathy have shown that by observing another person’s emotional state, part of the neural circuitry underlying the same state becomes active in oneself, whether it is disgust, pain or social emotions (Brefczynski-Lewis, 2008).  Mirror neurons in the brain inform the social engagement process, and suggest that we are able to perceive intentional states of others (Iacoboni & Siegel, 2006).  This perception supports the notion that an individual may become positively or negatively affected by the intentional state of those around them, and that interpersonal quality of life may be improved when inner attunement is evident.  Moreover, the well being of one partner in an intimate relationship is inextricably linked to the well being of the other.

A larger interpersonal field of intimacy is able to bloom when people become more mindful.  The emotional awareness of the right brain can support a person to tune into subtle emotional changes, a beneficial tool for preventing interpersonal miscommunication and strife (Siegle, 2007).  Mindfulness practices support couples to become more attentive, therefore ameliorating communication and attenuating ineffective defensive structures. According to Selver (2009), mindfulness nourishes the attention centers of the brain and opens people up to their inner indicator, also known as intuition.  One study held by the National Academy of Sciences analyzed how attention is mapped throughout the brain.  The main control center is located in the intraparietal sulcus, and is what gives people the ability to shift their attention  (Anderson, J., Ferguson, M., Lopez-Larson, M., Yurgelun-Todd, D., 2010).

Increased attentiveness also supports individuals to improve their listening skills.  In terms of an intimate relationship, Selver believed that most people want to, “do something to or for their partner, instead of just being there for him or her” (2009, p. 36).  She believed that this kind of effort leads to negative reactions within relational exchanges. When individuals are able to compassionately receive their partner’s words, and can empathize with their belief systems, mindfulness practice becomes a tool to soften the arrows of verbal attack (2009).  Daniel Levison, a staff researcher in the psychology department at the University of Wisconsin, meditated for three months as part of a study about brain phenomenon.  After three months, Daniel stated, “I am a much better listener. I don’t get lost in my own personal reaction to what people are saying” (Hölzel, 2010, p.1).  A female client of Charlotte Selver, the pioneer of a somatic-based approach called Sensory Awareness, had a similar experience after committing to a mindfulness practice.  After working with Selver for a few months, Selver’s client “Joan” noticed an improvement in her ability to listen to her husband (Selver, 2009).  Joan would ordinarily interrupt her husband when he spoke slowly and could not wait for him to finish his sentences.  After practicing Sensory Awareness for consecutive months however, her attention span increased and she felt more patient.  When Joan’s capacity for retaining and receiving information increased, her husband also became a more effective listener (2009).  Consistent mindfulness practice supported Joan and her husband to restructure their communication patterns and experience more ease in their relationship.

Integrating sensation-based awareness practices also improves connectedness by awakening the propriocetive capacity of an individual (Selver, 2009).  Proprioception is defined as the awareness of the position of one’s body (http://dictionary.com).  Carmodyc, J., et al. (2011) implemented a study on the positive effects of meditation on the brain. Seventeen individuals without meditation experience underwent Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs for eight weeks.  This was a controlled longitudinal study that investigated gray matter concentration in various areas of the brain, both before and after the MBSR programs occurred.  Results showed an increase in gray matter concentration and increased function in the areas involving the regions of their brains involving learning, memory processes, and emotional regulation (2011).  These areas include the left hippocampus, posterior cingulated cortex, temporal-parietal junction, and the cerebellum.

Overall, one of the most important benefits of meditation is an increased sense of empathy, love, and sensitivity (Psychiatry Research, 2011).  Such prolific changes in the brain, when present in a close interpersonal exchange, can improve the quality of connection between two people and increase the longevity of a relationship.  When an individual is able to regulate her emotions, and retain and receive information with greater ease, she is more likely to empathically interact with her companion.  One study revealed that when a person feels a sense of compassion, the insula cortex becomes activated and its function improves (Brefczynski-Lewis,Davidson, Johnstone, Lutz, 2008).

Compassion for our own fear and shame opens us to others… Love is our true nature, but as we have seen, it is covered over by a protective layer of fear. Even though this love is innate, the [Buddhist] path also uses systemic trainings to cultivate this love. They strengthen our capacity for love, compassion, joy, and peace. (Kornfield, 2009, p. 386)

 

Sensory Awareness

Various modalities share the core intention of supporting individuals to feel more in balance with their inner selves. Holzel describes mindfulness practice when stating,

The main idea is to use different objects to focus one’s attention, and it could be a focus on sensations of breathing, or emotions or thoughts, or observing any type of body sensations…But it’s about bringing the mind back to the here and now, as opposed to letting the mind drift. (2011, p. 1)

Included in the global amalgam of mindfulness-based approaches is Sensory Awareness, developed by the late Charlotte Selver in the mid 1950’s (Selver, 2009).  Sensory Awareness is a body-centered meditation approach that draws from the spiritual principles of Taoism and Buddhism (Benz & Weiss, 1989), and is an effective healing tool that addresses somatic dysregulation, including mood and anxiety disturbances.  Similar to Buddhist meditation traditions, Sensory Awareness assists people to cultivate mindfulness and bring awareness into everything they experience (Kabat-Zinn, J., 2003).  Selver, like many other body-centered practitioners, strived to shift the old paradigm of psychological understanding.  Her method theoretically drew from mind/body holism, and was bolstered by new forms of social expression that supported independence and mutuality (1989).  Selver believed that allowing things to “take their course” assists couples to work creatively and patiently (2009, p. 36).

Embodied mindfulness practices can shift perspectives from self-oriented to other-oriented  (Brefczynski-Lewis, Davidson, Johnstone, & Lutz, 2008).  One of the fundamental principles of Selver’s work was to “learn to give up this doing” (Selver, 2009, p.36).  Rather than teaching people spiritual rhetoric that emphasized the process of ‘letting go’, Selver was interested in the process of ‘taking in’ (2009).  Based on the work of Elsa Gindler and Heinrich Jacoby, Sensory Awareness advocates various body-centered experiments to assist people to get in touch with their most authentic state of being.  Just as Buddhist practitioners focus on “Loving Kindness” (Kornfield, 2009), Sensory Awareness practitioners focus on “Conscious Sensing” (Selver, 2009).

Similar to other mindfulness practices, Sensory Awareness also utilizes sitting and breathing practices. Practitioners can close their eyes and become receptive to whatever they experience.  The key intention of this practice is to allow sounds and sensations to enter freely, so they can be experienced in a holistic way, rather than being analyzed and immediately identified (2009).  In almost all contemplative practices, there is an initial use of the breath as a focal point, which aids in the centering of the mind (Siegel, 2007).  According to Siegel (2007), breath is a major factor contributing to brain activity and regulation.  With as little judgment as possible, a Sensory Awareness practitioner observes, notices, brings awareness, and attempts to accept things in the present moment.

Despite current research that advocates somatic-based mindfulness practices, there is a global avoidance of sensation awareness that has reached epidemic proportions.  Humanity’s pervasive disinterest in sensing has become a limiting factor for this work to be effectively utilized for interpersonal development on a global level.  Trauma trains the body to avoid feeling processes (Kurtz, 1990).  Given the high number of traumatized people on this planet, mind-body disconnection is commonplace (1990).  Disembodied individuals are perfect candidates for Sensory Awareness, however their willingness is imperative. For individuals unwilling or unable to practice on their own, facilitation may be necessary, as it can create a safe environment for people to address core issues.  Group-based Sensory Awareness work can take participants to a deeper level of healing given the interpersonal context (Selver, 2009).

Some may argue that sensation-based meditation approaches are limiting for some bodies, including immobile individuals, or individuals incapable of movement altogether.  Sensory awareness is indiscriminate, and is an innate practice of conscious being.  It is a mindfulness practice that asks people to experience life from a space of receiving and allowing.  Participants can delve as actively or inactively as they choose, as long as they are experiencing themselves from the inside out.  Similar to various meditation approaches, observation is the key, however the participant is also not limited to sitting alone.  Sensory Awareness is active and inactive all at the same time.

 

Discussion

Humanity is more affected by emotional regulation and attunement than we may have previously thought.  Current research now confirms that individuals can markedly improve their quality of life when they are committed to a mindfulness-building routine.  Neuroscience confirms that the processes of the mind extend beyond the individual, and that our perception is part of a large interconnected matrix (Weininger, 2011).  Our efforts to become more attuned can be profoundly received by the people most close to us, and mirror neurons remind us that we are implicitly connected to other human beings.

Mindfulness meditation improves romantic relationships by nurturing: emotional regulation, communication, receptivity, attention, listening skills, and proprioception.

An individual’s ability to be empathic and sensitive to the needs of their partner plays an important role in the longevity of any relationship.  The mindfulness practice of Sensory Awareness can support balanced, attuned living and is an effective tool for interpersonal communication.  Individuals who practice Sensory Awareness are more likely to experience supportive intimate relationships, and to have positive interactions with others. There are limitations to mindfulness practices such as Sensory Awareness, due to the fact that awareness practices are not commonplace, nor unilaterally accepted by many cultures. Sensory Awareness requires a willingness to feel and experience sensations and this process can be difficult for traumatized individuals.

Intrapersonal harmony can ensue when we slowly and attentively allow the waves of mindfulness to roll through our daily lives.  People can make a dramatic difference in their social environment when they commit to healing themselves at an intrapersonal level.  The importance of mindful development cannot be stressed enough and it is humanity’s duty at this juncture to improve holistic infrastructure, develop effective psycho-educational environments, and cultivate the courage to look within.

 

References

 

Anderson, J., Ferguson, M., Lopez-Larson, M., Yurgelun-Todd, D. (2010) Topographic maps of multisensory attention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1011616107

Baumeister, R., Masicampo, E., (2007). Psychological Inquiry; 2007, 18 (4), 255-258

Benz, D. and Weiss, H. (1989). To the core of your experience. Charlottesville, Virginia: Luminas Press.

Brefczynski-Lewis, J., Davidson, RJ., Johnstone, T.  Lutz, A., (2008). Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation: Effects of meditative expertise. PLos One, 3(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001897

Carmodyc, J., Congletona, C., Gardab, T., Hölzelab, B.K., Lazara, S.W., Vangela, M., Yerramsettia, S.M. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimagine, 191(1). 36-43.

Hanson, R. (2009). The practical neuroscience of buddha’s brain: happiness, love & wisdom. Oakland, CA: Harbinger Publications.

Hölzel, B. (2011, January 28). Meditation and the Brain. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/how-meditation-may-change-the-  brain/?scp=1&sq=meditation%20and%20the%20brain&st=cse

Lacoboni, M., & Siegel, D. J. (2006). Mirror neurons and interpersonal neurobiology in psychotherapy. Presented at The New York University Biology of Mind Conference, New York.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psycholog y: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144-156.

Kornfield, J. (2009). The wise heart. New York: Bantam Books.

Kurtz, R. (1990). Body-centered psychotherapy. Mendocino, CA: LifeRhythm

Selver, C. (1999). Sensory awareness and our attitude toward life.  Mill Valley, CA: Sensory Awareness Foundation, Collected Writings, Volume 1. 17-38.

Schore, J. & Schore, A. (2007). Modern attachment theory: The central role of affect regulation in development and treatment. Clinical Social Work, J. DOI 10.1007/s10615-007-0111-7

Siegel, D. (2010). The mindful therapist. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Siegel, D. (2007). The mindful brain. New York: Mind Your Brain, Inc.

Weininger, R. PhD, MD & Karney, M. M.D. (2011). [Revisiting Empathic Engagement: Countering Compassion Fatigue with Exquisite Empathy]. New Beginnings Counseling Center Trainee/Intern Training. Santa Barbara, CA. Unpublished raw data.

Winter Solstice Reflections and 2019 Healing Retreat to Peru

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Winter Solstice Reflections and 2019 Healing Retreat to Peru

I hope this finds you well. As we rapidly approach the winter solstice this week (December 21st), nature offers us an opportunity to take a deeper look at the inner layers of our being. The winter solstice marks a sacred time in the seasonal cycle; it is the longest night of the year and offers us many symbolic and earthly blessings. For centuries, indigenous societies have revered this poignant turning point. Rituals were practiced, and in places like the high Andes of Peru, sacred temples were constructed in perfect alignment with the rising and setting sun, or other celestial bodies.

Winter lends itself to inner well-being and balance. Self-care becomes paramount, as we are given nippy nudges to promote nurturing activities, eat warming foods, and quiet down the buzz of life. We are reminded of the importance of parasympathetic nervous system regulation. This is the part of the autonomic nervous system that supports the “rest and digest” function, therefore aiding in relaxation, self-care, and relational connectivity. To learn more about relaxation and the nervous system, view my last blog post to read a presentation by polyvagal theory expert, Stephen Porges, Ph.D. Presented at Pacifica Graduate Institute, November 2018.

This time of year, our coats become literally and symbolically thicker, as we protect ourselves from both the elements, and from the negative thought patterns that often accompany darkness. One can imagine how important fire was back in the days of old, when people huddled together by warm hearths, preparing hot stews for life-saving nourishment. Moving into present time, most of us reading this newsletter are lucky enough to have food on the table and heaters in our homes. And yet even with our basic needs met, darkness may still penetrate the emotional and psychological field. When this happens, the lighter aspects of the self need additional tending. For a quick tip article on self care, click here.

Right now can be a sacred time to pause in quiet reflection, slow down, and find your own proverbial nest of light and warmth. Give yourself nurturing through healthy activities and nutritious foods. Visit a beautiful site in nature, book a massage, or take a yoga class. If darkness has a bit of a hold on you, being present with sensations in the body for just minutes a day can help clear negative emotions.

And lastly, accepting nature’s law of impermanence can lend much comfort during times of stress, grief, pain, and limitation. As the short days begin to stretch open with each beautiful sunrise, we are given the opportunity to experience the transience of darkness. And no matter how much that darkness feels all-encompassing, we can always make a choice to move forward and towards the light.

Healing Retreat to the Peruvian Andes
June 27th-July 4th, 2019
with Romi Cumes LMFT, CMT

 

Join me this June for a special travel opportunity that will guide retreat-goers through Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley of Peru. For the last twenty years, Peru has been like a second home to me, and is where my mother Carol created one of the most beautiful retreat centers in South America, Willka T’ika. I have been leading yoga a cultural retreats to Peru since 2014 and am excited to facilitate the next journey this June. Located in one of the most stunning places on earth, the beauty of Pachamama (mother earth in Quechua) radiates throughout Willka T’ika’s grounds. From the hand-crafted guestroom design, to the breathtaking Chakra Gardens, organic vegetarian farm-to-table meals, Andean ceremonial spaces and devoted service by the local Quechuan staff, WillkaT’ika is a model of authentic artistry and sustainability.

Below you’ll find a brief overview of what we have to offer. For additional information, contact Romi

Retreat Overview

• Total Days: 8 days / 7 nights
• 2 days and 1 night in Cusco
• 1 day at Machu Picchu
• 5 days, 6 nights at Willka T’ika
• 7 days guided service
• Quality buses and tourist train
• Guided tour and enjoyment of the Seven Chakra Gardens
• Gourmet vegetarian meals
• Daily Movement and Meditation
• Authentic Andean offering and fire ceremony with Q’ero Pakko healer
• Visit to an Andean Mountain School (Willka T’ika Children’s Fund)
• Hiking the P’isaq ruins, ceremony, and shopping in the famous market
• Visit to Urubamba’s authentic market, Seminario Pottery Studio, and alpaca factory store

Total Cost Excluding Airfare: $3000

• $100 off if you register with deposit by February 1st, 2019
• $750 additional supplement for single-room accommodations

Peru 2014 from Romi on Vimeo.

Happy Holidays,

-Romi

 

Just Say ‘No’ and Other Ways to Live Your Best Life

Just Say ‘No’ and Other Ways to Live Your Best Life

By Brad Krause

“Just say no” is a popular mantra when it comes to walking away from drugs, alcohol, or peer pressure. However, this sentiment flies straight out the window when it’s time to deny other activities that can harm our health. Keep reading for insight on why you should put this handy two-letter word, as well as other self-care practices, to good use in your daily life.

The Power of ‘No’

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, business executive, father, mother — your time is rarely your own. Between work, family, friends, and other obligations, it can be difficult to find time to participate in our own self-care. When you learn to say “no,” however, you give yourself the power to tend to your own needs instead of everyone else’s.

Full Body Relaxation

Once you say “no” to the things cluttering up your day, you will have the time to focus on your own health and well-being. One way to do this is to relax your muscles and mind. Spend a day at the spa once a month, or book a massage.  Better yet, create a spa-like environment at home. For example, if your job involves being on your feet all day, a warm Epsom salt bath can help relax your muscles. If you have children, you could take them out for some fun at a nearby park or spend some time shooting hoops in the backyard. Whatever you do, it’s important to take these moments to enjoy life without the daily stress and headaches. Yoga is also an excellent way to offer your mind, body, and spirit some healing.

Sleep on It

Sleep is such a simple thing, but it’s one we often overlook as we get wrapped up in our busy lifestyles. Unfortunately, without ample sleep, our bodies are unable to function properly. Sleep deprivation affects your body and mind in many ways, including amping up your appetite and changing how you display and perceive emotions. Sara G. Miller, a staff writer for Live Science, further reports that chronic sleep deprivation may cause delirium, which is a state of complete disorientation. Take steps to ensure that your bedroom is set for sleep. Install room-darkening curtains, add a sound machine, and outfit your bed with warm but breathable covers to help you relax through the night. If you can, exercise during the day, and consider adding a sleep-inducing yoga session to your nighttime ritual.

The ‘Do It’ Diet

It’s no news that you have to eat, but Western diets, which often include fast food and pre-packaged snacks, aren’t going to give you the right kind of energy. If you want to truly care for yourself, you have to pay close attention to the food you put in your body. Start by drinking enough water — approximately 60 ounces per day — and include plenty of green, red, and yellow vegetables into your diet. Eliminate foods that are not in their whole and natural form. By changing your diet, you give your body the fuel it needs to do what it must each day.

Give

It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving more of yourself in more meaningful ways can be an effective part of your self-care routine. Volunteering for a cause near and dear to your heart has a positive effect on your mental health. Not only can it satisfy your need to be needed, but volunteering also gives you an opportunity to have an impact on the world and to be proud of something you’ve done to help others. Taking control of yourself care needs doesn’t mean you have to leave everyone else out in the cold. It simply means that you need to restructure your time – and your frame of mind – so you can be the best version of yourself and enjoy your life.

 

Brad Krause created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he has found on his self-care journey. For one-one one support and healing, contact Romi Cumes for a somatic bodywork or counseling session. Online somatic counseling sessions also available. Email or call us for upcoming information on Romi’s Healing Retreat to the Sacred Valley of Peru June 27th -July 6th, 2019.

The Healing Power of Somatic Wisdom

Transformative Healing Arts is offering a special yoga and somatic healing workshop this Thanksgiving Thursday. Join us at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center 9am-11am. Sign up Here

Join us Thanksgiving morning for a gratitude-filled yoga and somatic healing journey. Yoga in essence, is a somatic healing practice, as it is profoundly healing and regulating for the body, mind, and spirit. Somatic Psychology is the study of the lived experience of the body as it pertains to psychological exploration.This workshop will assist you to get in touch with your most authentic state of being. From a place of somatic authenticity, we become more present, and can therefore show up in the world in a more peaceful and powerful way. We will do some experiential work to tap into innate body wisdom, and work with some yoga postures to explore how somatic awareness is inextricably linked to yoga and other mindfulness practices.

Neuroscience now proves how important it is to not only be in touch with our bodies, but to be in touch with how we relate to others while sensing and being in our bodies. Somatic and relationally-based awareness practices can support us to elucidate innate body wisdom, while uncovering valuable insight about emotional processes. Similar to yoga, such practices assist us to ease protective or adaptive mechanisms, often manifested as body armor, tightness, pain, and emotional distress. These techniques are distinct from specific yoga and cognitive therapies however, in that there are no scripted asanas or directive protocols utilized to observe the body. We sense into the body, and listen to what it says.  Join us next week for a unique, body-centered  exploration.

 

Do Something for Its Own Sake: Living with Authenticity

healing, somatic, somatic healing, somatic psychology, yoga, santa barbara healing, somatic psychology

Authenticity

Writing blog posts and staying connected to clients and friends virtually is an interesting process. I want to stay connected and remind people of what I offer, all the while trying not to bombard them with extraneous articles or self-promoting spiritual rhetoric. It can certainly feel inauthentic and counter-intuitive to “sell” healing-focused services, yet people do it every day and business is business, right? Not really. I think a lot about authenticity and what it means for each of us. I especially ponder this in the morning, just before having coffee and figuring out how much time I have to either meditate, stretch, or frantically run around and get shit done. My father has more integrity than anyone I know and he always tells me to “do something for its own sake”.  Even when my ego puts a banana peel underneath my integrity, I strive to have that statement be my life-mantra.

Attempting to market something as intimate as psychotherapy, bodywork, and healing can feel like inter-psychic tight-rope walking. Authenticity is important and it cannot always coexist with ego-driven marketing approaches; at least not for me. I have an enormous amount of respect for individuals who are able to professionally put themselves out there while operating from the heart. It is a meaningful skill and something to be proud of.

There are so many ways to express meaning in our day-to-day experiences, yet often authenticity seems to slip through the cracks of good intentions and productive life goals. Have you ever found yourself moving along the path, mostly in alignment with what you are meant to do, yet somehow forgetting how you got to that path in the first place? Or do you wonder what would have happened if you took a different route? It is natural to question things and challenge ourselves to do better and be in alignment with our destiny. It is also important to stay in touch with the lived experience of life in the body, as not to get swept away by critical thinking or mental confusion.

In other words, challenge yourself to be authentic every single day, but also cut yourself a little slack.

Some steps to tap into AUTHENTICITY and support LIFE FLOW.

Gratitude

Take a moment to pause and be grateful for what you have. Visualize what you’re grateful for, honor it, and be thankful for it.

Breathe

One great practice is taking slow breaths for a minute or so, and then doing an easy pranayama: Inhale 4, hold 8, Exhaling 4. Practice for five + minutes.

Sense

Where do you feel sensations? What do they feel like? Assign adjectives to the sensations. Are there emotions you can associate with those sensations?

Write

After taking some minutes to do the above, write out your goals or authenticity-driven plans for that day, week, year. Then check back in with your body. Does it feel spacious and connected to what your are writing? Or restricted and lacking resonance? Usually our bodies will inform us of what we need to know and if what we are working on is in alignment with our path. This isn’t to say everything we do professionally or personally must always feel peachy. Life is full of ups and downs and it’s our biologically job to ride the wave as long as we can; ideally guided with compassion and insight. Body awareness and mindfulness enable us to live with more authenticity and grace. It’s that simple. The next time you are questioning what is going on in your life, or how to be more authentic, slow down and sense; and then maybe grab a pen and get curious about your next steps.

Other tidbits about Romi can be found on Facebook or Instagram @romicumes

Dreams, the Election and a Breath Practice

For the last three elections I have been offered several dreams that have subversively displayed the results of a major election about four to six months before November. Last night I received a second of two dreams that may be clarifying the end result of the election. I received the first dream about six months ago, which circuitously referenced both a mass shooting and Mrs. Clinton in the same sequence. Various points in the dream showed her “being in charge” after this terrible shooting. How she presented to me in the dream was not ideal, but it was what it was and she was in the lead. My intention for her is that she will choose to work with other democratic leaders, such as Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, so we may evolve into our next global phase of consciousness.

I received an additional dream last night which leads me to feel certain Trump will not win in 2016. The metaphor was that he is on a lower floor, he is not on top. As many of us sense, he is young spiritually and at an introductory level with much to learn. And, when observing another’s spiritual path or “flaws” if you will, it is also important to remember how we each have our own lessons to learn in this lifetime, many of which are about growing away from operating systems fueled by ego and power. Regardless of the level or floor we are on, we still need to treat others with kindness, hear their story, listen to their needs, and work together rather than separately to serve humanity and meet goals. There is no “better” and “higher” and my sense is when we really get that on a body and soul level, we will see great changes in this world. And yes, some people just aren’t on the top floor yet, and have a lot more work to do, no matter how many penthouses their portfolio can afford. We still need to be humble, kind, and accepting of others. This dream also showed me that on a soul level, Mr. Trump knows about his narcissism and that it will limit his development. A part of him is choosing to be below right now. Election-wise my sense is he will not end up on top.

And lastly, although I don’t usually write so much about politics, I do want to take a moment to honor Bernie and all he represents for humanity. He has been leading with authenticity and love for decades and whether he is president or not in this lifetime, his efforts are being received by the Whole. He is another keystone in building a more conscious, expansive, and unified future; one where violence and greed will no longer be what guides people of power. Thank you for that Bernie, you have helped so many and I hope you get to take a nice long vacation before your next circuit of inspirational speeches.

Mindfulness and Somatic Inquiry

I will end this with a question for you. What are you doing each day to support yourself to feel more balanced, loving, and centered? If time is an issue for you, remember that even a ten minute mindfulness practice can reset negative thinking, calm your nervous system, and support you to show up in the world in a more peaceful way. Those minutes you take not only impact you, but positively impact the world around you. Studies have shown that twenty minutes or more of daily mediation can shift grey matter in the brain, so the more minutes the better. That being said, five or ten is still better than zero, so remember to do something today to mindfully take care of yourself. If you don’t have a favorite meditation or yoga teacher, there are many free guided resources on You Tube, as well as free and low-cost guided meditation Apps. For a brief yoga session, go to “Yoga Anytime” online. I will be posting a free guided audio/video meditation in the next few days. See below for the written version.

In addition to being physiologically beneficial, breathing exercises (pranayama) are especially helpful if you have an active mind and need something to focus on while meditating. Breathing exercise can support you to feel more balanced and physically spacious, as well as regulate the nervous system and sooth the sympathetic branch of the nervous system (fight/flight/freeze response).

Ten Minute Mindful Breath Exercise (set a timer)

Breathe in slowly through the nose for four counts, then breathe out for four counts. Repeat that 5-10 times until you sense a rhythm and flow. Make sure you are comfortable in a seated or supine position.

Next: Inhale through the nose for four counts, hold (retain) your breath for four counts, and exhale out your mouth slowly (also about four), as if you are fogging up a window with your breath. Relax your mouth and face and visualize tense energy moving out of you and also imagine energy grounding down towards your feet and the earth. You don’t have to understand this cognitively, just feel your breath and imagine energy moving in and out and in and down (grounding).

Repeat the above for the next eight minutes.

Practitioners can also hold the breath double the amount of time (for eight counts) before exhaling. Start with holding 4 and move on to 8 after practicing this a few times.

This practice focuses on utilizing a clearing breath (exhaling out the mouth), however exhaling out of the nose also works well here and has a calming effect. Exhaling out the mouth more directly assists the jaw to relax and clears stuck energy. Feel out which type of exhale feels right for that day’s practice. In Yoga, exhaling out the mouth is often referenced as a “cooling” breath.

Beginners please note: When practicing additional Hatha Yoga with asanas (poses), not just pranayama, it may be beneficial to discuss your practice with an instructor. Feel free to message me with any questions. 

Adding a somatic focal point can also be helpful here. Choose an area in your body that needs some extra support, space, and love and focus there while you breathe.

Notice how that area feels when you begin; is it tense, tight, loose, tender, hot, cold, dense etc.? As you approach the end of the session, notice how it has changed. If your somatic awareness wants to travel to another area in your body, allow it to.

Taking just ten minutes to do this each day, or any other mindfulness practice you reasonate with, is a powerful step for creating more ease and joy in your life. I will be posting videos of these practices soon on this blog. Stay tuned, literally 🙂

Have a beautiful day,

Romi