Introduction by: Justin Mckibben
We have shared some excellent stories of Palm Partners Alumni who have done some amazing things. Recently I had the privilege of speaking with one of our Palm Partners Alumni, Jeff Salinas. We spoke about how his recovery has helped him achieve some incredible things in the last few years. Jeff attended treatment with Palm Partners back in 2015. Ever since getting his second chance he has been on an inspiring journey to an astonishing transformation. Today, we are all so proud to share his story.
When I reached out to Jeff, it was in regards to the Indialantic Boardwalk Triathlon he is set to compete in this weekend. After connecting on Facebook, I sent Jeff a message asking if he would be interested in sharing his story with our blog on Palm Healthcare Company’s website, so we could share it with the world! Jeff replied that he had been writing quite a few things about his transformation that we would like to share. He told me he would happily help us spread his “ongoing recovery stories as a beacon of hope for others still continuing with the struggles of any addictive behavior”.
In one message Jeff offered up an awesome story he wrote about the power of healing through yoga. As a yoga teacher with Palm Partners, I was elated to hear someone talking about the physically and mentally restorative practice of yoga. I thoroughly enjoyed this writing, and I surely hope someone else will too. Here is what Jeff has to say:
“The Wound is the Place Where the Light Enters You”
April 14, 2016
How Yoga Saved My Life.
It was a little over a year ago as I was wallowing away in despair in a detox center for treatment. I mean, you can only do so much in there. After I had enough in my room trying to read or watch tv, I decided to wander around the cafeteria. Hmmm.. The bulletin board. Blah… Blah… For lunch..blah.. Blah… For dinner… Hmmm.. Yoga.. later this evening. I signed up for it right away.
I for one had a huge amount of anxiety while in detox. Nonstop pacing, walking aimlessly around the center, like I said one can only do so much, so you can see the anticipation I had when I found out they were having a Yoga Class in there. And there she was, her presence alone can calm a crying baby, pretty much what I was in there. As I helped her lay out the mats and prep the library/sitting/TV room, I asked her if she was in recovery. She said 21 years.
Throughout that moment in practice, that hour and some minutes I was taken to a different place. You want to know where that was? I was taken to me, in my present moment, my breath, my physical posture. I was in me. For so F’n long I escaped me every waking moment I had either that was alcohol/chemically induced or complete utter destruction of self through physical fitness. But that calm and serene moment, I felt, well, I felt me; completely whole and organic, Non-GMO what have you.
From then on I continue the practice of Yoga, as it truly has a mystical and magical way of healing. By no way at all am I cured from my addiction, I am simply aware that a next drink for me will definitely be the kiss of death. So I continue to do what has been working for me, as well as to engage myself to forego the ultimate endurance challenge; The Ironman Race as I now train for this level headed and clear with with acknowledgment to my body learned through the practice of Yoga. On another note which explains my nightly yoga picture post in my Tri-shorts apparel.
So, this was my #Transformation #Throwback
May you all have peace within yourselves and find the solace that’s needed through our struggles in whatever they may be.
To follow up on what Jeff has written, the integration of the mind, body and spirit through yoga is one way holistic healing changes lives, and sometimes even saves them.
Mindfulness and meditation are a powerful forms of holistic treatment for people struggling with substance use disorder or addiction, and even the most basic meditation techniques can have a significant influence to ease severe pain, reduce anxiety and other symptoms of depression, and even improve heart health. Yoga and transformational breath work help to promote self-awareness, and align the body and the mind with a new healthy pattern. The philosophy of yoga speaks a lot about self-study, discipline and compassion. Yoga also teaches people how to let go and seek love and connection. The power of yoga cannot be overstated.
Thanks again to Jeff for spreading some empowering and enlightening truth with us. We look forward to more insights into your adventures.
We are happy to cheer for our Palm Partners Alumni, and excited to share the message Jeff shared with us about the power of yoga and the importance of finding peace and setting your own path in recovery. Real recovery is possible. Drugs and alcohol do not have to keep you from the life you dream of having. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
When we think of meditation and mindfulness we often have a certain image or experience in our mind. Some people think it must be a profound and extremely disciplined experience every time. Our misconceptions about what meditation really is often deter us from actively practicing it. However when we do practice, we realize the benefits of mindfulness. Regardless of how you imagine meditation should be, give yourself plenty of opportunity to try it out and see what is could be.
Here are 4 meditation tips for more mindfulness.
You’re NOT “bad” at meditation
When the concept of meditation is suggested, some people immediately assume they are “bad at it.” They allow their preconceptions of what meditation is supposed to mean tell them can’t successfully use it to find serenity. The very simplicity of meditation can itself present a challenge because the mind’s habitual nature prefers stimulation through distraction over intense focus.
It is as if you find yourself in a quiet space, sit in silence and then continuously ask yourself- “am I meditating yet?” or “Is this how I’m supposed to do it?”
The reality is meditation is not strictly limited to sitting in full-lotus with candles everywhere and yogi music playing. Meditation is about the practice of drawing awareness to the present, and some people meditate through activities or exercise.
Yoga, for example, is described by many as a moving meditation. So, don’t trouble yourself with wondering if you’re meditating ‘right’ or if you are ‘bad at it,’ because your practice is yours. The more you practice, the more it will grow into whatever you need it to be.
The goal is NOT to be “good” at meditation
Just like with the assumption that you can be ‘bad at it,’ if you approach meditation with the goal of “I want to be good at this” you’re probably going to be disappointed. There are no gold medals for meditation… at least, not that I know of. But anyone can just go buy a gold Buddha if it’s really that important to them.
Sometimes meditation can be boring. In our world on smartphones and constant connection, we rarely have to be bored anymore. Just because you get bored doesn’t mean you have to be better at meditating, it is just a thought we all feel. Recognize it, reflect and move on. Even people who have been meditating a long time can still get bored with it.
When meditation is offered to many of us in early recovery we may have this thought that once we ‘master’ meditation we will begin to see results right away. We are the type to thrive off instant gratification after all. We want it to help us get well right away, but it doesn’t always work like that. Just remember, there are no trophies for meditation… I think.
Don’t criticize your mind
We utilize the practice of meditation to set an intention and focus, but also to notice when the mind loses focus, and to see where it goes. The mind is good at wandering, but you should never criticize yourself for it. Being the witness to the wandering mind is part of the practice. If you begin to think on other things, just be aware of those things as they present themselves.
Just as a random example- If my intention in meditation is on my gratitude, and suddenly my mind has drifted off into the dynamics of my relationships with my family, I should take notice. Maybe my mind is trying to tell me how grateful I am for my family. Maybe it is telling me how gratitude brings them to mind. I acknowledge the thought and come back into focus. I should not criticize my mind for drifting off topic, or criticize the thoughts themselves.
Sometimes we beat ourselves up because the mind will take us so far from our intention we forget how we got there. We begin to feel we are ‘bad at it’ again, or that we are wasting time. Don’t let these frustrations or the nature of the wandering mind make you critical. Be present to your mediation without judgment.
Let go of the outcome of your meditation
Once we’re aware of the benefits of meditating, we might set expectation on every experience. You might trick yourself into thinking you must feel a certain way, but expectations can be down-payments on disappointments. We may expect to feel calm and relaxed; clarity and serenity, and when we don’t get the outcome we anticipate we can get frustrated.
In reality meditation will lead you to several different experiences. Sometimes the experience will change multiple times within a single session. Part of the practice is letting go of the outcome. Approach your meditation with an open heart and mind. Waiting for a specific result can also distance us from the present moment.
Again, meditation is about being aware and in tune with the present. It is not about judging our experience. Meditating to be “good at it” is like saying you watched TV for hours just to make sure the remote works. Your mind and the present are already there, meditation is just about taking the time away from your overactive or analytical mode to notice them. Don’t expect answers all the time, just be aware and listen.
Meditation can reform the mind in the most incredible ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. It can be used for mental, emotional and even physical fitness. Holistic recovery is about a lot more than removing drugs and alcohol; it is also about rewiring our thinking. If you or someone you love is struggling, find out how holistic healing can help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
In the past, eastern medicines, theologies and practices have been observed by the western world with a heavy hint of speculation. There was a time science was limited as to what it could and could not prove through technical studies what scriptures like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or the Bhagavad Gita, both sacred and valued text in connection to Indian and Hindu philosophy, told us about the mind, body and spirit. However as time and science has caught up with the claims made in the ancient manuscripts we have discovered more of the remarkable catalogs of evidence to support eastern medicines and practices… especially yoga.
Yoga has become more mainstream over the last decade plus, and it would seem that since its inception into western culture there have been compiling examples of how gurus from hundreds or even thousands of years ago have actually been telling us all along about the healing power in the science of spirituality.
Today, health and human service providers across America have shown a mounting interest in using yoga as a form of holistic healing, especially as an option for treating people with mental health problems. There is a multitude of reasons why the aspects of yoga would benefit those struggling with depression.
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Exercising physical health promoting mental well-being
- Emphasis on detachment from negativity and connection to higher self
The list goes on and on… let us make a few points about how yoga can be amazing medicine for depression.
UNC Yoga Study
A recent study published in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found there are some exceptionally encouraging benefits to using yoga to help address mental health disorders, specifically when coupled with other forms of holistic healing and intervention.
Rebecca Macy is a researcher who works with violence and trauma survivors. She also helped lead the study at the UNC School of Social Work on utilizing yoga to treat mental health disorders. In a statement about the study Macy said she was especially interested to really know what the evidence said; is yoga something healthcare providers should be suggesting to people who struggle with various mental health problems, such as:
Overall, the researchers determined that yoga holds a high potential for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma.
Depression, Posture and the Heart Chakra
Truthfully, any asana (posture) from the yoga practice has the potential to make a drastic difference when trying to overcome depression. Yoga engages the physical body to focus the mind and create space for intuitive introspection or spiritual reflection. Every pose can make a strong contribution to rewiring the patterns in the brain, while systematically utilizing an individual’s biology to alter their mindset.
That being said, I will promote one of my favorite types of asana when it comes to changing the mood- Heart Openers!
Research does show that sudden emotional stress can actually release hormones in the body that prevent the heart from pumping normally, which of course has an adverse ripple effect. So if we can scientifically say that emotions affect the body so acutely, it would only seem logical that the body could in fact be used to influence our emotions. If you open your heart, give it space to breathe and be beat, it might just surprise you.
Back-bends are some of the simple heart-opening poses that ease breathing and reduce stress by releasing tension held in the tissues of the whole chest and lung region of the body. A variety of back-bending postures are great heart-openers, here are just a few examples:
- Bhujangasana- Cobra
- Ustrasana- Camel
- Anjaneyasana- Low Lunge
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana- Upward-facing Dog
- Dhanurasana- Bow
Physiology has a very real impression on our psychology, and it has been said that opening the heart in some yoga poses has a way of letting positive energy make its way into our system. Warm up your body, warm up your heart and start to change the language of your life by engaging in yoga that heals.
Of course a yoga teacher and a believer in the power of yoga, I am a little biased… but that’s besides the point…
In yogi traditions the heart chakra, Anahata in Sanskrit, is located in the center of the chest at the heart level. Anahata is thought of as the wellspring of love, warmth, compassion, and joy that moves love through our lives. It is said to act as an integrating focal point of energy and as love is often thought of in most spiritual practices as the ultimate element of healing, the heart chakra is thought of as the healing center of the body. So when we talk about opening the heart we are tapping into the healing inside us all.
Mindfulness is Medicine
There has also been past research suggesting that mindfulness and meditation could be considered as alternatives to anti-depressant medications, or could also be used to combat the side-effects of medications.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may now offer a welcome alternative for people wishing to avoid long-term use of anti-depressants, and mindfulness and meditation are bread-and-butter with the practice of yoga.
The list goes on and on as to the benefits of practicing yoga for the individual struggling with mental health disorders such as severe anxiety or depression, and I could sit here and write all day about studies and strategies closely connecting yoga to incredible outcomes in recovery from mental health and addiction issues.
My personal experience itself can support the idea of using yoga to overcome depression, as I am someone who has struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction chronically in my lifetime. As someone now in long-term recovery I can say that one of the most amazing experiences I have been given is to practice yoga and cultivate an intimate understanding with how unifying the mind, body and spirit has helped me dramatically reduce anxiety attacks, overcome suicidal ideation, and even helped me find new passion and serenity while rebuilding a life devastated by drugs and alcohol. My testimony is just one of countless accounts of how yoga transforms lives in recovery, so if depression is an obstacle in your life yoga can be a means to overcome it.
At Palm Partners, we believe in treating and healing the mind, body and spirit as equally important and unified parts that make up the whole person, and yoga is one opportunity offered as part of an innovative and restorative personalized treatment plan to creating lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Mindfulness meditation has been practiced by Buddhists for thousands of years, and cultivating mindfulness is often considered the key to overcoming suffering and recognizing the natural wisdom of both ourselves and others. It is typically sought through the practice of meditation, and mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are, but it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by beautiful moment.
In this modern age of electronic stimulation and digital distractions many would believe these ancient practices would be lost in the clutter of social media and constant connection to the online world. But it seems that meditation is having an unlikely moment of trendiness.
In fact it has become so popular that it’s the focus of a new app designed to help establish what it describes as ‘meditation made simple.’
Healing with Headspace
The new meditation app has been cleverly called Headspace and it claims by emphasizing attention on the present moment a regular mindfulness practice achieved through meditation is an effective treatment for various everyday concerns including:
As much as most would look at this kind of claim and label it some half-baked pseudoscientific sales pitch, there is actually quite a bit of scientific evidence that some of these claims are very authentic.
The site claims that 163 different scientific studies have shown mindfulness meditation practices have a positive effect on people struggling with anxiety disorders, with 90% of people with stress levels reaching clinical anxiety issues experiencing a significant decrease in their anxiety while meditating.
The sites main page also makes the boast that according to neuroscientists, meditation actually allows the brain to reshape itself without you even knowing.
Specifically they say neuroscientists have found practitioners had structural changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is a part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control, and they saw this after just 11 hours of meditation (not all at once, but all together).
The Headspace Program
The first step the app developers explain in their tutorial video is a 10 day trial program where you are taught the basics of meditation with daily sessions set for 10 minutes.
Once someone chooses to subscribe to the rest of the program, they are given access to “hundreds of hours of original Headspace content” which is said to include:
- Guided meditation exercises lasting from 2 minutes to 1 hour
- Special meditation series collection for specific areas of focus
- S.O.S. feature for quick moments of meditations in case of emergencies
The app also comes loaded with other helpful features to try and provide incentive for continued meditation and mindfulness such as:
- Tracking progress and stats
- Connecting with friends on their profiles
- Bonus points for meditating several days in a row
One other awesome thing that the Headspace site has committed to is that for every subscription purchased, they will donate one to someone in need. For me that seems like a pretty cool selling point. The fact a tool that develops mindfulness and promotes better mental health would add in some charitable action and help those who could benefit but can’t afford it seems like a pretty self-aware attribute in my opinion.
So far it seems Andy Puddicombe, the man behind this exciting new app, has now become a global phenomenon with his invention being valued at a worth of £25 million. Andy himself narrates the app, and so far it has been downloaded by people in 150 different countries and even has an army of celebrity devotees including Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Any Puddicombe is a man who says he did everything from teach English in Russia to work as a videographer on a cruise ship to sustain himself financially for 10 years while training to become a Buddhist monk, and now he has turned one of his greatest passions into a million dollar idea that is helping people all over the world.
Meditation can reshape and reform the mind in the most incredible and cathartic ways, and it is often one of the best medicines for people in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. While we can a get long lasting benefits from meditation and mindfulness, but sometimes the recovering addict or alcoholic overlooks the usefulness of this practice.
Now you have the option of combining your love for all things smartphone with a spiritual practice that changes lives.
Being mindful is just a piece of the intricate puzzle that puts us back together once we have survived our addiction, and the whole process starts with the willingness to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Depression is a mood disorder that most people know to be characterized by extreme fits of melancholy, grief or despair. It can come at random or be developed over time, ranging from moderate to severe, and it can also manifest itself in physical afflictions. Recent science has even suggested that there are blood markers that can identify depression, and there is a suspected genetic pattern to the problem.
There have been several strategies established to combat depression, and anti-depressant medication is a pretty general tactic. But is there a form of mental training that can help people recognize the onset of depression, help them control it, and that actually works as well as anti-depressants in preventing relapse?
The Magic of MBCT
Mindfulness can be defined as the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness is practiced in Buddhism, and while it is not the easiest practice, it can be achieved through meditation and improve drastically on your mental health. So it is no surprise that mindfulness is being considered such a powerful tool for fighting depression.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) may now offer a welcome alternative for people wishing to avoid long-term use of anti-depressants. According to a study in The Lancet medical journal such kinds of medication can have unpleasant side effects such as:
- Sexual problems
Not to mention the risk of substance abuse. Prescription drug abuse has become a huge issue in recent years, and avoiding the negative impact from developing any kind of dependence on a drug (legal or not) can mean a world of difference to a lot of people. MBCT proposes another route.
Testing the Impact of MBCT
To better understand the effectiveness and usefulness of mindfulness for those battling depression there was a two-year trial conducted in England with 424 people suffering from depression. This study claims to be the first-ever large-scale assessment concerning the efficiency of MBCT as it stands up against the anti-depressant medication method. During this study period researchers found that MBCT users faced a “similar” risk of relapse to those on anti-depressants.
The volunteers for the survey were divided into 2 groups at random.
- Half continued taking their medication while the rest were tapered off the drugs in favor of MBCT training.
- The MBCT training had participants attending 8 group sessions, each session was 2 hours and 15 minutes.
- MBCT participants were instructed to also use daily home practice.
- MBCT participants were also given the option of follow-up sessions over the following 12 months.
Using a diagnostic tool used to measure the mental state called the “structured clinical interview” all of the 424 volunteers were assessed for a period of two years. Once the data had been collected the researchers determined:
- The MBCT group had a 44% relapse rate
- The group taking anti-depressants had a 47% relapse rate
Due to these numbers being so close many we disappointed that the MBCT did not technically prove to be more effective than medication. However the study leader Willem Kuyken, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford said that this information still suggested an effective alternative to those trying to get away from drugs.
Then again, mindfulness does not come with any adverse side-effects, it has no potential to be abused or toxic to your system, and practicing being mindful has got to be a whole lot cheaper than prescription medications. So maybe it is better than anti-depressants when you consider all its benefits.
Meditation is not just an alternative to medications, it can be also be used to combat issues with medications. Back in December of 2014 one associate professor at the University Of Utah College Of Social Work stated in a press release that the desensitization of opioid drug users can actually be reversed through mindfulness, and that it may even be able to keep them off the drugs.
So when talking about depression, it seems like instead of people relying too heavily on drugs (illegal or prescription) maybe they should consider the vast variety of benefits they can ultimately be rewarded with through practicing mindfulness. Learning to appreciate the present moment instead of measuring it against others is vital. Overthinking and stress can be faced head on with non-judgmental reflection and observation of the present moment. Depression can be very serious, and it is easier said than done to simply ‘think’ it away, but learning and engaging in MBCT can be a powerful influence.
Mindfulness is not only an alternative to drugs, but can also be a way to work through your issues with substance abuse and defeat your depression. Meditation and mindfulness are often promoted in a holistic healing setting, so if you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135