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Brain Structure Changes After Meditation
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Brain Structure Changes After Meditation

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 24, 2011

Brain Structure Changes After Meditation Emerging research suggests participation in a mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators said the changes occurred after a relatively brief intervention of eight weeks; their findings are reported in an upcoming issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The discovery is the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” said Sara Lazar, Ph.D., the study’s senior author.

“This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration.

But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.

For the current study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to document the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness.

In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation – which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind – participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day.

A set of MRI images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.

Meditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses.

The MRI analysis, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.

Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress.

Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area.

None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” said Britta Hölzel, Ph.D., first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany.

“Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”

Amishi Jha, Ph.D., a University of Miami neuroscientist who investigates mindfulness training’s effects on individuals in high-stress situations, said, “These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training.”

According to Jha, who was not involved in the current study, “They demonstrate that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on MBSR’s potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Source: Massachusetts General Hospital


 

Anxiety, Brain and Behavior, Featured, General, Health-related, LifeHelper, Memory and Perception, Mental Health and Wellness, Neuropsychology and Neurology, PTSD, Professional, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Research, Stress —>

I’d like to see a similar study done with mindfulness mediation and Network Spinal Analysis.

Network Spinal Analysis helps the brain and nervous system move from fight or flight to safety. As this happens processing moves from the Primitive Brain to the Prefrontal Cortex. The prefrontal cortex has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and moderating correct social behavior.

Imagine the social, health and wellness implications of Mindfulness Meditation combined with Network Spinal Analysis. Could this combination be even more effective in treating stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder? You can read more about mindfulness meditation and the wellness practitioner here http://www.wellnessrhythms.com/network-care-articles/mindfulness-and-the-well…

Examining Exercise For Treatment Of Adolescent Depression

stress relief denver chiropractic Examining Exercise For Treatment Of Adolescent Depression

By Dr. Andrea Dunn

Adolescent depression has become a major public health problem with one in 33 children having clinical depression (Mental Health America).  According to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, the age at first symptom is around 11.  However, the first diagnosis of depression is typically not until the age of 15.  Depression left untreated is linked to school failure, impaired social functioning, teen pregnancy, and suicide.

This means that it is important for parents to pay attention to changes in their children’s behavior and to listen to what they are saying, especially since it has been shown that counseling and resilience training have been found to prevent the onset of depression disorders.  By catching the signs of depression early, parents can advocate for preventative measures, which will enhance their child’s coping skills and resilience.  It may also prevent the development of poor health outcomes and functional impairments, such as lower grades.

Adolescents may not show these signs of depression in the same way as adults and each child is different.  Some adolescents may show signs of hopelessness, have a lack of interest in the things around them such as friends or family, or are unable to concentrate.  Other adolescents may express their symptoms through their irritability and agitation.  These expressions of irritability and agitation can manifest themselves in the form of being fidgety, restless, or moving around more or less than normal.  Or a child’s depression can be expressed through isolating him or herself from others and spending hours watching TV, playing video games, or being on the Internet.  While most adolescents display some of these behaviors, symptoms of depression are usually longer lasting.

Pediatricians, primary care providers, and trained providers at a local community Mental Health Center http://www.cdhs.state.co.us/dmh/directories_cmhc.htm can guide individuals through the treatment process.  Two of the most studied forms of treatment are medication (SSRIs) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  While both are common treatment options and have the most scientific evidence to support their effectiveness, neither is guaranteed.  It is important to remember that treatment is a process of trial and error.  If one option does not work, do not give up.  Instead, pursue another option until the best match is found for your child.

Another option that is being studied more is exercise.  Exercise may help to reduce depressive symptoms and may be a useful coping strategy for adolescents.  Studies have been conducted with adults and found a reduction in depressive symptoms in participants who were receiving the exercise treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about an adolescent depression study in Denver examining the role of exercise to treat depression, please contact the Project Coordinator at (303) 565-4321 x3673 or visit www.DOSEforTeens.org The study is being funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Comment by Dr. Jeffrey Parham: This is an interesting study about examining the role of exercise to treat depression. I like the idea of exercise as an alternative to medication. I would like to see the study expanded at some point to include dietary changes as well as Network Spinal Analysis to reduce Nervous System tone and to improve Nerve energy flow for improved health and wellness. The effects of both diet and improved nerve system balance in the treatment of depression warrant more investigation.

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  • A Family Guide: What Families Need to Know about Adolescent … – A Family Guide: What Families Need to Know about Adolescent Depression NAMI January 5, 2011 Adolescence is a time of many changes and challenges. Developing bodies and social and academic stresses.

References

Birmaher B, Ryan ND, Williamson DE, Brent DA, Kaufman J, Dahl RE, Perel J, Nelson B. Childhood and adolescent depression: a review of the past 10 years. Part I. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1996;35:1427-39

Burke KC, Burke JD, Jr., Regier DA, Rae DS. Age at onset of selected mental disorders in five community populations. Arch Gen Psychiatry 47:511-518, 1990.

Dolgan JI. Depression in children. Pediatr Ann 1990 Jan;19(1):45-50

Dunn AL, Trivedi MH, Kampert JB, Clark CG, Chambliss HO. Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response. Am J Prev Med 28:1-8, 2005.

Harrington R, Fudge H, Rutter M, Pickles A, Hill J. Adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent depression. I. Psychiatric status. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1990 May;47(5):465-73

Kessler RC, Avenevoli S, Ries MK. Mood disorders in children and adolescents: an epidemiologic perspective. Biol Psychiatry 49:1002-1014, 2001.

Kovacs M. Presentation and course of major depressive disorder during childhood and later years of the life span. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1996 Jun;35(6):705-15

McCauley E, Myers K. The longitudinal clinical course of depression in children and adolescents. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 1992;1:183-96

Rao U, Ryan ND, Birmaher B, Dahl RE, Williamson DE, Kaufman J, Rao R, Nelson B. Unipolar depression in adolescents: clinical outcome in adulthood. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1995 May;34(5):566-78

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Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders
Home » News » Stress News  » Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders

Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood Disorders

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 4, 2010

Stress as a Predictor of Adult Mood DisordersEmerging research suggests daily stress may be more dangerous to our health than previously believed.

In a series of studies, Canadian investigators have found there may be a link between the recent rise in depression rates and the increase of daily stress.

“Major depression has become one of the most pressing health issues in both developing and developed countries,” says principle researcher Mark Ellenbogen, a professor at Concordia University.

“What is especially alarming is that depression in young people is increasing in successive generations. People are suffering from depression earlier in life and more people are getting it. We want to know why and how. We believe that stress is a major contributor.”

From parent to child, Ellenbogen and colleagues are particularly interested in the link between childhood stress and the development of clinical depression and bipolar disorder.

His team is evaluating the stress of children who are living in families where one parent is affected by a mood disorder.

“Previous studies have shown that kids from at-risk families are at higher risk of having a psychiatric disorder in their lifetime,” says Ellenbogen.

“We know that they’re not just inheriting these traits but they are also being raised in an environment that is stressful, chaotic and lacking in structure. Our goal is to tease out how this type of environment influences these children’s mental health in adolescence and adulthood.”

To assess stress levels, Ellenbogen is measuring the levels of the stress hormone cortisol which is present in saliva. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the body in response to stressful life events and challenges.

Ellenbogen’s recent findings have shown that the adolescent offspring of at-risk families have higher salivary cortisol levels than kids from families without disorders. What’s more, he found these elevated levels persist into young adulthood.

“Although there may be many causes to the rise in cortisol, this increase may be in part due to exposure to family stress and parenting style,” says Ellenbogen.

“We have not yet confirmed that these children then go on to develop mood disorders of their own. However, we have some exciting preliminary data showing that high cortisol levels in adolescences doubles your risk for developing a serious mood disorder in young adulthood.”

Source: Concordia University


 

Anxiety, Bipolar, Brain and Behavior, Children and Teens, Depression, Featured, General, Health-related, LifeHelper, Memory and Perception, Mental Health and Wellness, Parenting, Professional, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Stress —>

Stress effects the nervous system and can cause disturbance in nerve energy flow resulting in more stress and dysfunction of body function and health.

Use Breath, Focus And Awareness To Reduce Holiday Stress
Denver Chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Helps Locals Find New Possibilities For Health And Wellness

Denver Chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Helps Locals Find New Possibilities For Health And Wellness

September 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Press Releases | Leave a Comment

Denver Chiropractor, Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Helps Locals Find New Possibilities For Health And Wellness

PRESS RELEASE: Denver, CO, 9-September-2010 – Wellness Rhythms and Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Denver Chiropractor are pleased to announce the addition of new health and wellness programs for locals seeking a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Parham has developed a series of programs that address the health and well-being of individuals in a holistic manner.

When an individual visits Wellness Rhythms, the chiropractor will conduct a series of tests and examinations to determine which aspects of your current lifestyle are contributing to allergies, illness, or fatigue. During the examination, the doctor will determine if there are any nerves being pinched by compressed bones in the body and the level of physical activity you are currently involved in.

The doctor will discuss past medical history, injuries, lifestyle, diet, and exercise programs. After compiling the information and analyzing the results of the tests, the doctor will be able to determine the most effective way to help an individual achieve their goals and objectives quickly and begin living a healthier life.

Diet and exercise play a big role in the body’s ability to heal and regenerate. Beginning a healthy lifestyle often requires that an individual change their eating habits and add foods that contain vitamins and nutrients that are very important to a person’s overall health. Dr. Parham develops individualized programs that meet the needs of people wishing to achieve health and wellness.

You can find more information, details and articles on the methods and techniques by used Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Denver Chiropractor to address the health and wellness goals of individuals by visiting http://www.wellnessrhythms.com today. The following contact information is available to members of the press who would like additional information with regards to this specific release.

Contact Person: Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Denver Chiropractor

Company Name: Wellness Rhythms

Address: 184 S. Pennsylvania St., Denver, CO 80209

Contact Number: (303) 722-1104

Email Contact: http://www.wellnessrhythms.com/contact-dr-jeffrey-parham-html

Website: http://www.wellnessrhythms.com

Dr. Jeffrey Parham, Denver Chiropractor and Wellness Rhythms have been recognized for addressing the health and wellness needs of locals in the Denver community. The individual programs that are developed for each patient address their immediate and long-term needs to assure that they are able to fully enjoy their lives is the focus of all plans that are developed.

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Use Breath, Focus And Awareness To Reduce Holiday Stress
Five Things You Must Know About Network Spinal Analysis
The Top 10 Ways To Reduce Stress This Holiday Season

Nov 10
30

holiday season The Top 10 Ways To Reduce Stress This Holiday Season

By Dr. Jeffrey Parham, DC

Are you feeling pulled in many directions this holiday season?  Are you feeling stressed out about the holidays? Well you’re not along.

It’s that time of year when many people shift gears and the holidays take center stage.

Often, the holiday season is not all comfort and joy. It can be a time of great emotional and physical stress.

Here are some suggestions for reducing stress so that you and yours enjoy the holiday season.

1-     Take a break each day for yourself. Try mediation, prayer, a nap or read a book.  Exercise go for a walk or do some yoga. These are ways of reducing stress and energizing the body.

2-     Eat properly and drinks lots of water. Don’t use the holidays and stress as a reason to over-eat. Although the holidays bring with them sweet treats and extra appetizers, try not to make food the prime focus. And remember, just because someone offers you something, you do not have to accept.

3-     Maintain your regular exercise routine and get to bed at your usual time or earlier.

4-     Watch your alcohol consumption. Although some people believe alcohol decreases your stress, it is only a temporary solution.

5-     Don’t overdo work, eating, drinking or being merry. Overindulging in any of these areas is draining afterward.

6-     Plan ahead and allow extra time for shopping and travel. Stores airports and highways are extra busy this time of year.

7-     Breath is great for reducing stress and anxiety in the moment especially when dealing with difficult people, crowds or standing in line. Breathe in your nose and out your mouth. Place one hand on top of the other resting them on your chest or belly as you feel the breath under them. This short video shows how to use breath, focus and awareness to reduce Holiday stress.

8-     Getting a massage is a great way to reduce stress and relax.

9-     See your chiropractor  for a healthy spine and to improve nerve energy flow. The chiropractic adjustment helps relieve stress, improve function and increase energy.

10-  Remember to be thankful for everyone in your life. Take time to smile as you connect with them. With all the additional stress that can be added this holiday season it’s important to practice some de-stressing activities so your holiday is the festive and joyful time you really want it to be.  I hope you have the best holiday season ever!

Here are some other articles you might find helpful:

  • Be The Duck – The expression goes, like water off a duck’s back. Often it’s used when talking about taking criticism. If you don’t let criticism affect you, then.
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The Top 10 Ways To Reduce Stress This Holiday Season

holiday season The Top 10 Ways To Reduce Stress This Holiday Season

By Dr. Jeffrey Parham, DC

Are you feeling pulled in a million directions this holiday season?  Are you feeling stressed out about the holidays? Well you’re not along.

It’s that time of year when many people shift gears and the holidays take center stage.

Often, the holiday season is not all comfort and joy. It can be a time of great emotional and physical stress.

Here are some suggestions for reducing stress so that you and yours enjoy the holiday season.

1-     Take a break each day for yourself. Try mediation, prayer, a nap or read a book. These are ways of reducing stress and energizing the body.

2-     Eat properly and drinks lots of water. Don’t use the holidays and stress as a reason to over eat. Although the holidays bring with them sweet treats and extra appetizers, try not to make food the prime focus. And remember, just because someone offers you something, you do not have to accept

3-     Maintain your regular exercise routine and get to bed at your usual time or earlier.

4-     Watch your alcohol consumption. Although some people believe alcohol decreases your stress, it is only a temporary solution.

5-     Don’t overdo work, eating, drinking or being merry. Overindulging in any of these areas is draining afterward.

6-     Plan ahead and allow extra time for shopping and travel. Stores, airports and highways are extra busy this time of year.

7-     Breath is great for reducing stress and anxiety in the moment especially when dealing with difficult people, crowds or standing in line. Breathe in your nose and out your mouth. Place one hand on top of the other resting them on your chest
or belly as you feel breath under them.

8-     Getting a massage is a great way to reduce stress and relax.

9-     See your chiropractor to maintain a healthy spine and to improve nerve energy flow. The chiropractic adjustment helps relieve stress, improve function and increase energy.

10-  Remember to be thankful for everyone in your life. Take time to smile as you connect with them. With all the additional stress that can be added this holiday season it’s important to practice some de-stressing activities so your holiday

is the festive and joyful time you really want it to be.  I hope you have the best holiday season ever!

Here are some other articles you might find helpful:

  • Be The Duck – The expression goes, like water off a duck’s back. Often it’s used when talking about taking criticism. If you don’t let criticism affect you, then.
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Mindfulness And The Wellness Practitioner

denver wellness chiropractor Mindfulness And The Wellness Practitioner

Relax into the present moment to experience Passionate Ease

by Dr. Lawrence S. Conlan DC, ND (TIME IN TRAINING by Dr. Jeffrey Parham)

Paying close attention to life through mindfulness helps us discover a world that was always there, but with immense enrichment. Without it, we miss many of life’s pleasures, like recognition of the serendipitous support from life (known to many as Grace), the subtle impulses of nature, our beloved’s voice, or the caress of the breeze on our skin. Through mindfulness we can perceive ever-greater connection to others and ourselves, and to the interconnectivity of all things.

When someone places their attention on how things should be, or are trying to figure us or anything out, a contraction in the giver and receiver of this attention occurs. When both are happening within the same person in the form of self-judgment and doubt, it’s especially difficult to bear.

Attention is an essential aspect of love and some of us are so desperate for it that we seek it in all the wrong places. Or we give it to ourselves the only way we usually received it growing up—with conditions. This creates contraction in the body and eventually leads to those parts of the body breaking down in some way.

When we’re hurting, we have the option to suffer or not. A lifetime of programming may make it seem as if there’s not much of a choice. We feel unable to meet our pain, (give it attention), without the conditioned, harsh approach that formed our mental habits from early on. Pain is usually an indicator of a part of us that has been denied, abused, unloved, disowned.

It’s amazing how just the slightest dose of attention without trying to change anything can be an act of great kindness. Mindfulness, our own unconditioned presence, can create a deep healing on all levels of one’s body-mind. Yet to the ego structure that was created before we even had a choice, (and therefore quite innocent), it can seem very challenging to let go of an oppositional approach to discomfort.

We feel most loved when we’re fully met with another’s attention without any agenda about who we are to be. We’re allowed to be just as we are, including our humanness, ego and divinity (if we must separate our ego from our divinity). This is quite a different kind of acceptance than just allowing things to be as they are in a distant, uncaring way.  We already do this with most of the strangers we pass on the street.

Mindfulness adds depth to the quality of our attention. By simply sensing without the filters of how we want things or others to be, we are not trying to manipulate ourselves or others. A natural relaxation into the moment occurs and we more easily access delicate impulses of the heart with our entire Being. It’s through our heart, without it needing to be emotional, that we sense the beauty in the moment, the beauty of the person in front of us and our connection to life itself. We experience Passionate Ease.

As a wellness practitioner, I find that I’m in a great position to support a new way of being for the clients in relation to themselves, though I rarely need to do any talking for this to happen. In fact, the main focus while I work on people with my hands is to have my own awareness rest inside, noting, through my heart-felt sensing, my own state. I do not try to change my state. Rather, I relax and open as best I can even though it’s rarely perfect, all loving or fully relaxed.

Being present with what’s not perfect is a great softener to the ego that thinks it can find perfection. Just a little of this unconditional acceptance is enough to open my heart and its deeper clarity to perceive where the client is having difficulty finding their own kindness toward themselves. By navigating my own awareness through my heart, I then find I am easily guided where to go and what to do with my hands.

It is a daily moment-to-moment miracle to see how the person on the table opens without even seeing me. Then when I touch them with a mix of learned healing practices and intuitive guidance, spontaneous and profound healing occurs for both the practitioner and the client.

I believe that by using this approach we’re literally touching, with our awareness, the deepest, most reflexive part of the nervous system. The part that senses beyond the five senses into the world, feeling for what is safe and what is not. Before we speak our first words, the acculturation process begins, downloading societal norms into this part of the nervous system. It’s this part of the brain that rarely gets to feel unconditional love in our culture. However, when brought into Presence with unconditional awareness, something deep inside relaxes and is affirmed as a way of being that we have just forgotten. Once this “Loving Kindness” is anchored in the body through touch, it seems the nervous system at a reflex brain level begins to unwind distortions, tensions and pain, both physical and emotional.

The greatest commodity we have as a human is our ATTENTION. Whatever we put our attention on grows. It seems we need our attention to grow ourselves, and we need the attention of others to reflect our true beauty. It’s incredibly supportive to offer it as a gift to ourselves and from there, to another while both of us are held in an ever-bigger circle of inclusion, and thus intimacy. Unless we cultivate the experience of attention by itself through mindfulness practices, our attention then remains filtered through the powerful habits of our survival based separation thinking. Thus we experience a deep loneliness from this sense of separation from the world and ourselves. In other words, we suffer. Perhaps we are ready to try something different.

by Lawrence S. Conlan DC, ND

For more information on cultivating this approach towards yourself, or for Passionate Ease retreats, go to www.NetworkSpinalAwakening.com and look up retreats.

TIME IN TRAINING
Wellness practitioner Dr. Jeffrey Parham relates his experience being in both the client and helping roles

Spending time on the table as a client helped me see more of the defended self and observe with awareness the associated physical holding patterns I’ve used to keep defense in place without trying to change them or push them away. From that place of awareness I saw that I was able to choose to either participate or let those patterns rest in peace. I experienced the old distortion pattern frozen in time and space. It was my choice to replay the pattern over and over or observe the pattern without trying to change it. From this place of acceptance I can connect to love and gratitude and accept the healing, love and transformation available in the moment.

When the practitioner approached the table I felt intense desire to have my sacrum touched. When the practitioner instead placed her hand on my upper back behind my heart there was a feeling of Loving Kindness while at the same time a feeling of disappointment at not having my sacrum touched.

After sharing that feeling with the practitioner, she placed her hand on my sacrum and for a short time that felt just right. However it wasn’t long before my defended self felt threatened, responding by trying to take control, “You’re using too much pressure. Lighten up.”

At that time our teacher, Lawrence, told the practitioner to ignore what I’d just said. And in that moment I realized that was my defended self-speaking. I then allowed opening to occur, yet I started to sense something was lacking—like some sort of blockage. That’s when Lawrence pointed out to the practitioner that in her putting all of her compassion towards me there was none left for her. That to me on the table came across as a blockage, a holding back, in what I describe as lack. Once the practitioner shifted and began to feel compassion for both of us, there was the sense that the practitioner was “loving herself through me.” That safety helped me experience a deep unwinding, emotional release and connection of my sacrum to my heart, creating an opening into love, healing, and transformation. As the tears flowed, the feeling of immense gratitude and openness touched every part of my being.

When working as a practitioner, I focused on loving myself through the client by breathing the other into my heart, merging with the other while feeling love for both of us. I felt how I wanted to be touched and touched the client likewise. In that way a vortex of abundant safety, connection, love and healing was created.

Dr. Jeffrey Parham is a practitioner of Network Spinal Analysis at Wellness Rhythms a Denver chiropractic wellness center.

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