Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Brain's Negativity Bias

The Brain has what many scientist call a "negativity bias.".  This is portrayed by Dorothy in the Land of Oz as she glances about nervously saying "... lions and tigers and bears - Oh My."

You may remember a time in your life when your brain was in overdrive scanning for the next "tiger."  Many of us need a daily exercise of brain fitness to keep our brains clear of the distorted perceptions and exaggerated threats that disconnect us from our solid sense of self.  You have to wonder if our brains were designed to function in our modern hi - tech, low movement world. 

Hypervigilance and excess reactivity turns us inward creating a false sense of isolation and a defensive life posture.. When we learn to exercise our minds (and bodies) and challenge the distortions, we become more flexible and expansive. Through this integrated mind view referred to as  "Mindsight" by Dr. Dan Siegal - we experience connection, vitality and an energized way of skipping along the yellow brick road.


Mindful breath work, meridian tapping and brainwave music are just a few of my favorite mind exercises that help to dampen hypervigilance and reduce stress.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Progressive Relaxation Technique

Sometimes we don't have time to engage in one of our favorite activities for creating inner peace.  Kayaking on the Palmer River shown in this photo is a delight for me.  But life usually happens on the run and requires "easy to use - while on the go" techniques.  Progressive Muscle Relaxation is one of those easy to access and use mind/body interventions.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a method for mentally rebooting and reducing tension by progressively tensing and relaxing your muscles.  Credit goes to an American physician during the 1920’s by the name of Edmund Jacobson.  Jacobson figured that since muscular tension coincided with stress and anxiety, a focus on relaxing muscular tension would reduce anxiety. 

Some folk prefer this method because it primarily focuses on the body sensations and is more active than the more internal and mental techniques.  Physically you tense and relax muscle groups over the legs, abdomen, chest, arms and face.   Focus on a muscle group and tense for ten seconds and then release for twenty before continuing with the next muscle group.

It is helpful to close your eyes to center your focus on the sensations of tension and release.  If your anxiety is high and thoughts plague you like, “this will never work!”  Gently return your focus to the sensation of the muscular tension and release.  Usually, you will experience a feeling of warmth or heaviness in the body that will also result in a more relaxed mind.

The following script was designed for college age kids and tends to be shorter.  For a longer script that begins with the feet and moves toward the head clink on this link.

The Recipe
1.  Scan you body areas for tension.

2.  Inhale deeply.  Hold your breath for a few seconds.  As you exhale, allow the tension to leave your body.

3.  Clench right fist, notice tension in fist, hand, and forearm.  Relax – feel the looseness in your right hand.

4.  Clench left fist.  Tight.  Tighter!  Now, gently release.  Feel the tension leave your hand.

5.  Clench both fists.  Clench them tightly.  Now relax.  Let the tension flow out of your hands.

6.  Bend elbows, tense biceps; now straighten out your arms, and relax.

7.  Bend your elbows again, now release and relax.

8.  Turn your attention to your head; wrinkle your forehead as tight as you can.  Now relax, smooth it out, imagine your forehead and scalp becoming smooth and at rest.  Now frown and feel the strain throughout your face ad brow; allow your brow to become smooth again.  Breathe deeply, fill your lungs full and enjoy the healthy feeling.

9.  Continue practicing progressive relaxation with all the major muscle groups in your body.

My Experience
I ran across this technique during my college years (decades ago).  My struggle with this technique back then was finding the patience to stick with it to the end (particularly with the longer script).  Today, I might add relaxation (brainwave music) sounds alongside this technique to enhance relaxation of both the body and the mind. 

This technique works well with folk who are more kinesthetic in their learning style or who need to be “doing something physical” in order to relax.  When the internal/mental techniques fail to work, give Progressive Relaxation a try! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Autogenic Relaxation

Autogenic Relaxation Training is a relaxation method that was developed by a German Johannes Heinrich Schultz and around 1932.

Autogenic training is telling yourself to create feelings of heaviness and warmth in different parts of your body. If you're successful, you will have used the power of your mind to experience heaviness and warmth as blood flow increases. This can be very relaxing.

Autogenic training restores the balance between the sympathetic (flight or fight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches of the autonomic nervous system. This has important health implications as the parasympathetic activity reduces inflammation, blood pressure and slows the heart rate - strengthening our immune system.

The Technique (adapted from the original method)

Start by taking 3 deep breaths, close your eyes and repeat slowly to yourself: "I am relaxed, I am calm, I am quiet."  Repeat each phrase to yourself, slowly, leaving time between each one to experience the sensation (taking 1 - 2 deep breaths inbetween each phrase).

•   My right leg is heavy.
•  My right leg is heavy and warm.
•   My right leg is warm and relaxed.
•   I am calm and quite relaxed.
•   My left leg is heavy.
•   My left leg is warm and relaxed.
•   I am calm and quite relaxed.
•   I am quiet and at peace.
•   I am relaxed.
•   My right arm is heavy.
•   My right arm is heavy and warm.
•   I am calm and quite relaxed.
•   My left arm is heavy.
•   My left arm is heavy and warm.
•   I am calm and quite relaxed.
•   My body is warm and relaxed.
•   I am quiet and at peace.
•   I am relaxed.

Once your body feels relaxed, allow an image to emerge that connects to this feeling of calm.

When you are first learning autogenic relaxation try it when you are calm to see if you can deepen your state of relaxation. Beginning when stress is mild or moderate is better than waiting until you are in a state of high anxiety. It may take several repetitions to achieve the sensations of heaviness and warmth, but the results are worth it.

Autogenic Relaxation is a more mental and sensate technique for inducing calm. Try adding light tapping rounds with this technique to achieve faster results for reducing anxiety and achieving deep relaxation.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

EFT & Wt. Loss

...for more information on the EFT & Wt. Loss workshop being held on Friday on April 8th at 6:30 - 8:30 pm click on...
http://www.gcarpenter.net/2011/01/workshop-eft-weight-loss.html

Friday, March 4, 2011

Practical Methods for Changing your "Mind"


Challenging our free floating – automatic negative thoughts and feelings is key to managing stress and staying connected to our best self. In Dr. Herbert Benson “The Wellness Book” his colleagues write, “When governed by strong emotions, the mind becomes a filter, letting into consciousness only those thoughts that reinforce that mood. Little else is allowed through.” (p.274)

Our own self- justification for feeling angry, worried or stressed strengthens the mental filter. Notice your reaction to shifting your emotional state next time you are angry, stressed or anxious. Most folk will experience some form of inner protest in the form of “…but this is how I really feel… this is me!” The answer isn’t to deny or repress these feelings (sometimes they are quite helpful and necessary). Rather, we want to notice them and reflect on whether they are needed. If not then we move to create a gentle shift.

Dr. Benson has a four step process that he recommends for stress relief (p. 184-5)…

Next time you are stuck in traffic and feel you blood pressure rise try this…

  • Stop – as soon as you catch yourself feeling stressed simply saying “Stop!” can interrupt the Negative Stress Cycle. This prevents your thoughts from going in the “awfulizing” where you mind jumps to the worst possible scenario.

  • Breath & Release Physical Tension – During times of stress most folk hold their breath, physiologically creating even more stress. Taking a diaphragmatic breath can elicit the relaxation response.

  • Reflect and ask yourself these questions: - Stopping the escalation of the stress hormones allows you to actually think about your situation. You can sift through helpful thoughts and feelings versus irrational beliefs and distortions.
    - “What is going on here?”
    - “Why am I so distressed?”
    - “Am I late or just racing against time?”
    - “Is it really a crisis that I am late?”
    - “If I am late what is the worst thing that will happen?”
    - “Will worrying about it help?”

  • Choose not to think so anxiously – now that you have stopped the stimulus – response cycle, taken a breath to divert your attention from the stress, reflected on the cause of stress, you can now choose how to respond and reboot your thoughts and feelings.

This four step process: Stop, Breathe & Release Physical Tension, Reflect, and Choose – can be turbo-charged by tapping several rounds on the Emotional Freedom Technique points as you go through each of the steps (click for The Basic EFT Recipe and points http://www.gcarepnter.net/search/label/EFT%20Instructions)


An additional way to spice up Dr. Benson Four Step Model is to add what I call The Dimmer Switch. As you go through the four steps, just hold your hand over the correct eye while keeping both open. Here are the instructions for this technique...


The Dimmer Switch (One Eye Technique)

This is based on a bi-lateral theory of the brain (left is logical - right is emotional). That is an oversimplified explanation. Rate your stress or feeling intensity on a scale of 1 -10 (SUDS) Keeping both eyes open, place your hand over your left eye to block input. Hold for 60 seconds(or as you go through the four steps for stress relief. Relaxation breathing during this time will create added benefits. After one minute, rate your feeling intensity on the same scale. Most persons report a reduction of 2 - 4 in intensity. Repeat to bring further down in intensity. Combine this technique with Relaxation Breathing for best results. Some folk find covering the right eye to be more relaxing. Experiment and see which works best for you.

Last but certainly not least, simply put on your favorite relaxation or brainsync music and go through the four steps with the added benefit of sounds triggering the relaxation response (“What’s In Your Wallet? Stress and Music - http://www.gcarpenter.net/search/label/The%20Brain) Relaxations sounds or music is the easiest of the all the techniques. Just slip on the headphones and run the four steps.

Each of these techniques are highly effective individually. But in various combinations they quicken the results and multiply their effectiveness. Experiment with various combinations for customizing your own relaxation - stress buster toolbox.


Let me know how these work for you. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Changing Your "Mind."


I am one of the few person in New England who looks forward to snow (except for the shoveling part). But a couple of weeks ago my enthusiasm limit was reached for the white powdery "stuff." I showed up for work to find my parking lot covered in eight inches of slush from the previous days snow. My irritation spiked. I fumed internally, "How can I expect my clients to show up and slosh through this "stuff?"

The landlord was called and I got the word on when the parking lot would be plowed. Mind you my aggravation was valid. But after addressing the problem, my irritation didn't abate. Internally my conversation went like this...

Observing Self: "You are still angry...is that helpful?"
Irritated Self: "No, but this is real! I deserve to be annoyed. This impacts my work."
OS: "But do you need this feeling? Does it assist you in any way at this time?"
IS: "No, but it is authentic and anyone would feel this way!"

Eventually, I practice what is taught to my clients and remembered "the way your brain fires is the way it wires." My favorite brainwave music was turned on and a little Emotional Freedom Technique tapping created the needed shift. But I noticed that there was a definite tug of resistance to letting go of my irritation. Internally, there was an objection, "but you are entitled to this feeling."

Often when we feel entitled to our negative feelings, we fertilize them and let them take root. Occasional pedestrian irritations like mine do not rewire your brain. But when repeated over days, months and years we create an entitlement and a mind that is hard wired for negative feelings.

Yesterday I was breezing through a book written by Dr. Herbert Benson MD. He wrote "Timeless Healing: The Power and Biology of Belief" back in 1996. Benson is a pioneer in mind/body medicine and in bringing spirituality and healing into medicine. He explains how even innocuous internal chatter over time can create dire consequences neurologically. He states....

“Because the brain is ever changing, we have the ability to rewire and modify those automatic reactions in a process sometimes called “cognitive restructuring.” ... Every new experience, every new fact entered into your brain changes its configuration and your awareness and understanding of who you were, who you are, and who you will be. Because of the brain’s intrinsic malleability, you have the opportunity to literally “change your mind.” (p. 272)

We can change our "mind" toward the positive and we can also negatively condition our brain to scan for distorted threats and negative input. Dr. Benson goes on to state...

“..we develop what Dr. Donald Meichenbaum of the University of Waterloo calls a “confirmatory bias” in which we seek out only the information, people, and situations that match our mood and feelings of self-worth. To break this chain of events, you must change you internal dialogue.” (p. 275)

One of the first steps to changing your internal dialogue is to commit yourself to what I call "noticing" exercises. Experiment over a couple of weeks and check in morning, afternoon, night and notice whether your internal thoughts and feelings are focused on something positive or negative. It can be helpful rate you brief internal check with a low, medium or high rating.

If a pattern of negative thoughts or feelings is discovered, you could blame it on people, places or things (one part of me shouts, "that works for me!). But if you want to restructure your "confirmatory bias," what you are hardwired to notice, then look for ways to create a shift in what you are feeling and thinking.

Some negative feelings and thoughts are a wake up call to create changes or to take action. These are a gift. Of concern is when our internal chatter and negative feelings are excessive, distorted or unnecessary. In our modern high tech multi-tasking world - there is a tremendous amount of destructive mental chatter.

My favorite shifting techniques are...
  • "positive reframes for negative perceptions
  • meridian tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique
  • sound work through vocal toning, brainwave music, Tibetan Singing Bowls or drumming.

More in my next blog on practical and easy ways to create a shift!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Workshop: Friday April 8th - EFT & Weight Loss












"EFT & Weight Loss" Workshop

Begin your journey toward
permanent weight loss by eliminating the emotional underpinnings of overeating.

I'll show you how to use Meridian Tapping and Energy Psychology to reach your Wellness Weight. Use EFT to stop food cravings, tame your resistance and resolve core emotional issues that contributes to overeating.

Friday April 8th 2011 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

• LEARN THE Basic EFT Recipe & APPLICATIONS FOR REACHING YOUR WELLNESS WEIGHT
• LEARN HOW TO STOP FOOD CRAVINGS
• Identify & Eliminate Emotional Overeating
• Resolve Limiting Beliefs & Release Motivation

Location:
Positive New Beginnings
873 WATERMAN AVE.
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI 02914

$35 per person

TO REGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP, OR TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EFT, PLEASE CONTACT: GREG CARPENTER LMFT @
PH. #401.265.2951 OR GDCCONSULTING@COMCAST.NET

Emotional Freedom Techniques is a simple yet remarkable healing system that reduces the mind/body stress that is connected to disease, negative emotions and the engines that drives overeating.

Through tapping on cravings and core issues you can learn how to "eat to live" instead of "live to ear." I have personally experienced this shift through EFT.

During this past year I have lost 50 lbs. through using EFT to handle cravings and underlying issues connected to overeating. I can speak from experience about issues of resistance, hitting plateaus and the power of self sabotage. EFT has made the difference and I am still tapping my way to my wellness weight.

Workshop: Healing Vibrations: Your Soul (Psyche) on Sound"



Thursday Feb. 17th 6:30 - 8:30 pm. $35/person
Leader: Greg Carpenter

Location:
My Office
546 Arcade Ave. #6
Seekonk, Ma. 02771

more info: contact gdcconsulting@comcast.net or call #401.265.2951

Surround yourself with the healing sounds of ancient Tibetan Singing Bowls. Experience deep relaxation, balance your energy system and open up to the flow of your spiritual self.

Experience…
Tibetan Bowl Sound Bath
• Sound as a Path to Inner Peace
• Deep States of Relaxation
• Experience different sound paths like, rattling (yes I said rattling), drumming, vocal toning, brainwave music and Singing Bowls. You will be amazed at their power to tone the mind, body and spirit.


Over five years ago I rediscovered the power of sound and it has clearly expanded my mental renewal tool box. Currently, I am listening to hemi-sync music while I create this post. Brain sync music and other healing sounds are an excellent way to acknowledge negative emotional states and gently shift to a balanced brain.

I have experiemented with the sounds produced by Tibetan Singing Bowls, rattles, cd's, drums and our own vocal chords. Singing Bowls are my personal favorite. The transcendant sounds they produce have been astounding. My collection has multiplied from one bowl purchased over one year ago to twelve and still growing. The antique bowls produce harmonic and rich tones that pull you into a brain entrainment of deep relaxation.

Through these ancient methods for producing healing sounds clients have experienced deep states of relaxation, the removal of emotional blocks and a return to a less stressed - more authentic self.

In this workshop we will learn about the healing paths of sounds, experiment with group soundings and experience a meditative "sound bath" from playing multiple singing bowls. If you haven't experienced the healing sounds of the singing bowls you are in for a physical and mental treat.

Backfull Info. or Why Sound?
Your perceptions are negatively altered when your body and brain is “jazzed up” on excessive worry. Every anxious thought floods your brain with “worry” chemicals causing a neurological equivalent to someone yelling fire at a movie theater. This cascade of electrical and chemical responses can over time hard wire your brain to be addicted to worry and anxiety.

Psychologist David Feinstein writes, “For better or worse, your expectations release a flood of chemicals in your brain. Every sensation, emotion and passing thought causes millions of neurons to fire together, shaping your next response to whatever life presents (The Promise of Energy Psychology)”

Sound Therapy is a new name for an ancient practice. Recent brain research can explain what the healers and mystics of old knew all along. You can now re-program your brain through brain entrainment by playing different types of sounds and music. In effect, it can liberate your own brain’s inner resources to function at an optimum capacity. Sacred or healing sounds return your brain and consciousness back to a place of syncronicity and balance.

Join with us on the 17th to “taste” different auditory delights and custom designing your own healing sound toolbox. Music and instuments exists that increase brain waves which correlate with energy, focus, relaxation, creativity and even a good night's sleep.

Sunday, January 23, 2011



Workshop: EFT Practitioner Essentials - Level 1

Date: Saturday Febraury, 2011
Time: 10 - 3 pm
Cost: $95
Instructor: Greg Carpenter LMFT
Location: Positive New Beginnings Holistic Center
873 Waterman Ave. East Providence, RI 02914

Workshop Description:
Learn how to use EFT and Meridian Tapping Techniques
*The Discovery Statement
*The Basic Recipe and Setup
*Being Specific
*Aspects
*Borrowing Benefits
*The Need for Persistence
*Demonstrations
*Hands on Practice

Workshop Comments
"What a teacher! (OR WHAT A SKILLED INSTRUCTOR!) Greg's concise and humorous style made EFT instantly accessible and immediately useful. The experience we shared during the workshop was profound. We witnessed the healing powers of EFT and Greg made it a pleasure to learn. Highly recommended. I'd do it again.

Christina Berard, RPh, MEd,
Mind-Body Therapist

Instructor's Comments

With 25 years of experience as a therapist, nothing has energized my practice like EFT over the past five years. I have been working with groups and leading workshops for over twenty years. You will receive valued content, experiential learning and energy from our time together! My goal is for you to experience that "aha!" moment when EFT works in a very deep way. This class will be fun, profound and an opportunity to master personal use and to begin to learn how to use EFT with others. Feel free to contact me for more information.

peace,

Greg
I have a few openings left for this workshop. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Greg


"EFT & Weight Loss" Workshop

I'll show you how to use Meridian Tapping and Energy Psychology to reach your Wellness Weight. Use EFT to stop food cravings, tame your resistance and resolve core emotional issues that contributes to overeating.

Thursday January 27th, 2011 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

• LEARN THE Basic EFT Recipe & APPLICATIONS FOR REACHING YOUR WELLNESS WEIGHT
• LEARN HOW TO STOP FOOD CRAVINGS
• Identify & Eliminate Emotional Overeating
• Resolve Limiting Beliefs & Release Motivation

6:30 to 8:30 pm @ Postive New Beginnings
873 WATERMAN AVE.
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI 02914

$35 per person

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY TOWARD PERMANENT WEIGHT LOSS

TO REGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP, OR TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EFT, PLEASE CONTACT: GREG CARPENTER LMFT @


PH. #401.265.2951 OR GDCCONSULTING@COMCAST.NET

EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUES IS A SIMPLE YET REMARKABLE HEALING SYSTEM THAT REDUCES THE MIND/BODY STRESS THAT CONNECTED TO DISEASE. NEGATIVE EMOTIONS ARE THE ENGINE THAT DRIVES OVEREATING.

BY TAPPING ON CRAVINGS AND CORE ISSUES YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO "EAT TO LIVE INSTEAD OF LIVE TO EAT." I HAVE PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED THAT SHIFT THROUGH EFT.

OVER THE PAST YEAR I HAVE LOST 50 LBS. BY USING EFT TO HANDLE CRAVINGS AND UNDERLYING ISSUES CONNECTED TO OVEREATING. I CAN SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE ABOUT ISSUES OF RESISTANCE, HITTING PLATEAU AND THE POWER OF SELF SABOTAGE. EFT HAS MADE THE DIFFERENCE AND I AM STILL STILL TAPPING MY WAY TOWARDS REACHING MY WELLNESS WEIGHT.