Aaaaand we're back!! After a summertime hiatus, I'm so excited to be bringing this lovely new pod episode to the airwaves. It's a goodie!
Gaylene Simmons, OT is a dear friend from my former hospital days, and I think you'll adore her and all the wisdom she brings to her day-to-day. We met at a training through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in 2017, and it's been inspiring to see how she's brought mindfulness practices into her occupational therapy practice since.
Gaylene has developed and facilitated health & wellness groups for 6+ years on topics like mindfulness, mind body skills, acupressure, leisure, and health & wellness promotion. She is a qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher, a mindfulness faculty member at a major hospital system, certified in Mind Body Medicine, a trained Health Coach and has been educated in Lifestyle Redesign.
Join us as we discuss the following (links to source information highlighted below):
5:33 - The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction paradigm by John Kabat-Zinn
10:18 - Mindful communication and "right speech"
19:25 - Guided imagery and its numerous medical benefits on post-surgical pain management, mood improvement & quality of life, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis outcomes, and more
20:23 - The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and the evidence-based health & wellness benefits that their mind-body skills groups bring patients (a PDF of the research benefits summary can also be found HERE)
30:02 - The origin of occupational therapy in the US, and the Japanese Kawa Model of OT
44:33 - The power of self-compassion and Kristin Neff, PhD's groundbreaking work
46:04 - "Whole enchilada" living and John Kabat Zinn's Full Catastrophe Living
I can't wait for you to tune in! Click the above links for sources/more info about some of these juicy topics. And for questions, comments, feedback, or to work together, reach out below!
Learn more and work with Gaylene:
Email | GayleneS@gmail.com
Work with Charlotte:
Connect with Charlotte:
Instagram | @_charlottesuzanne
Email | firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more Charlotte’s integrative coaching at CS Wellness
Recorded and produced by Charlotte Herring, AGNP-BC, RN
Music by Neftali Navarro Jimenez
The opinions expressed in this presentation do not represent the official position of the US Department of Veterans Affairs or the Veterans Health Administration.
[00:00:00] Hi, y'all and welcome to once you see it, a mental health podcast with an integrated vibe that helps you look at mental wellness and a balanced light posted by me, Charlotte herring, a board certified nurse practitioner and mind body connection coach with over a decade of clinical experience, my coaching work blends evidence based Western medicine with mindfulness spirituality, energy work, and.
So join me and my tribe of growth oriented colleagues on once you see it, as we chat about personal development, the intersection of Western medicine and integrative healing, spirituality, and all things, mental health related.
Hi, y'all and welcome to once you see it, a mental health podcast. Hope y'all are having a great week so far. And I am so excited today to be joined by my former colleague and friend Galen [00:01:00] Simmons. Galen is an integrative occupational therapist with over a decade of experience and acute sub-acute and outpatient settings.
She served as an integral member on interdisciplinary teams that address chronic pain pre-operative care. Post COVID and integrative health and wellness promotion, and she's developed and facilitated health and wellness groups on topics related to mindfulness, mind, body skills, leisure, and health and wellness promotion.
So all things we love over here on this podcast, Galen is a qualified mindfulness based stress reduction teacher. She's also certified in mind, body medicine. Is a trained health coach and has been educated in lifestyle redesign and she enjoys utilizing the broad scope of occupational therapy to help clients focus on what matters most in order to enhance their quality of life and Galen.
It's so good to have you on today. How are you doing this Saturday? Madeira. Oh, it's such a pleasure to be here. Charlotte, just, just sitting here with you is like calming [00:02:00] to me. So thank you so much for having me on. Thank you. You know, like so many people on this podcast, Gaylene and I go, we go way back.
We met about. A little five and a half years ago. I believe it was, we were both working at a large hospital out in the bay area and did a training program together in mind, body medicine. And she's gone on to become certified in mind. Body medicine has done all of these other amazing things and Gaylene.
I'm just so excited to have you here. You're the first person I've had on who's qualified in mindfulness based stress reduction, which is this. Space of knowledge and information, and I'm just so pumped to have you here to chat about everything. Great. Yeah. And so I wanna just start off and just, you know, we, we talked about mind, body medicine, mindfulness based stress reduction.
There's a lot of terms that we're throwing around about different kind of ways that we bring mindfulness into medicine or into our therapies. And I'd love if you could share a little bit about. Got you into this more integrative role and kind of [00:03:00] what, what your trajectory was as you came to this place today.
Yeah. Thanks for asking. It's always so fun to hear people's like back stories. Because I, I can sort of trace back both the, sort of my mind, body skills roots, and my mindfulness roots to two different things. When I was in high school, I took a program called upward bound. I grew up in Humboldt county and there was this great program at the college.
One of the classes was called creative tools for self-esteem and there were these really amazing dynamic kind of quirky ladies who ran this class and they would do. Drumming. And they would have us do guided imagery and like get on our pastel crayons and like draw and, you know, sort of help us see things in the drawings and the students loved it.
These were, you know, high school students from around Humboldt county and Del Norte county who either their parents didn't, hadn't gone to college or they were coming from low income and it was a program to sort of. Kids get a, a foothold to go to college. So this, it was a really moving class for us where we got to sort of use these.
What, [00:04:00] what, you know, later I learned were mind body skills. So that was sort of my introduction then. And for the mindfulness based stress reduction, I would say it started. And I was an undergrad. I went to India and did a Buddhas studies program and we lived in a monastery in B Gaia, which is where the Buddha was enlightened.
So we. You know, meditate twice a day. And so that was, you know, all the way back. I'm letting you know my age now that was all the way back in 1996. So then when I went to grad school for occupational therapy at San Jose state in 2010, We had an amazing professor, Rochelle McLaughlin who had, who was trained herself in mindfulness based stress reduction.
So she offered a class that was sort of, I forget the title of it, but it was bringing mindfulness into the profession of OT, both for ourselves as practitioners and as a therapeutic approach for our clients. Mm-hmm so that sort of cemented the path forward for me, seeing how I could bring these tools into my professional skill.
Awesome. And so with mindfulness based stress reduction, what I, I feel [00:05:00] like I should know this, but I'd love to hear about kind of what that training is like and just sidebar how cool that you went and studied at a monastery where the Budha was enlight and that's so
yeah, I know it's fun when we kind of look back at like the paths our lives have taken. Yeah. So, so I, I. You know, when it comes to working in healthcare? I, I believe that the MBSR training is considered the gold standard, but certainly it's not the only path to, to teaching mindfulness. The program itself was started by John Katzin in the seventies and he, the.
Some kind of a scientist that who worked in the healthcare system and he himself would go to meditation retreats and practice a keto and, and knew about yoga. And he thought, you know, this is so helpful to me. What would it look like to bring this into the healthcare system? So he went back to. To the healthcare system and just said, you know, would you let me offer this class and give me your patients that have [00:06:00] tried everything and you cannot help.
So it started out as a class for people that had chronic pain. I believe if I remember correctly mm-hmm and then he started the mindfulness based stress reduction program in the seventies where it was a two hour, two and a half hour class they'd come for eight weeks. And then they would be asked to do 40 minutes of meditation each day, if they could.
And this program just developed. He knew that in order to gain validity, they would need to do some quantifiable, you know, statistics. So they did questionnaires and it showed that people actually reported, you know, improvement in their pain scores and in their quality of life. And, and so it gained traction from.
And I think by the time I learned about the MBSR program, again, in 2010, people were starting to do research into mindfulness based on people who had gone through that program. And since then, there's a lot of research that shows that engaging in, in that particular program, [00:07:00] you know, people report things like improvement in symptoms, changes in biomarkers and even changes in brain structure as well.
Yeah, so fascinating. I've heard of John Kabat Zin and I've heard of mindfulness based stress reduction. And it's interesting how, you know, there there's different sort of inroads, as you said. Yeah. Where people kind of bring mindfulness into their clinical practice and oftentimes, you know, and it sounds like maybe this was similar with you.
I know when I. Heard about mindfulness in nursing school. For example, I was like, oh cool. Meditation. Like, that's great. And then in my own mental health, it was when I was feeling like the Western model or the plane talk therapy or just medication. I was like, I need something else to give me that boost with my own mental health.
And that's where I found mindfulness and bringing that in, then starting to do training, you know, with mind being in the center for mind, body medicine. And just again, it's very interesting. It doesn't matter how. You enter into the world of mindfulness. I think once you're there and you're like, [00:08:00] oh, there's evidence for reduction of chronic pain symptoms or lowering blood pressure or reducing depression scores or all of these things.
You're like, oh my goodness. I can't believe that we aren't putting more emphasis on this, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard it said if this was a pill, all doctors would be prescribing it because of the, the efficacy. Yeah, oof. I love that quote. Cause it's it's true. I had an old therapist once that said to me, she said, look, meditation or meditation are the two things that we know are gonna change brain chemistry.
So just this idea yeah. That, that meditation and mindfulness can be as effective as pharmaceuticals in many interventions. And when we say mindfulness and mind. Based stress reduction. So is it always meditation or is it other forms of mindfulness? What in MBSR? What does that look like? Yeah. So in MBSR it's so again, this is like a, a curriculum [00:09:00] based eight week class that if you were to attend it in the class, you would practice mindful movement and like a mindful meditation seated practice, whether that's a body scan, if that's awareness of breathing, if it's awareness of thoughts and emotions.
And so. Predominantly those two things, plus a bit of what might be considered like psychoeducation, perhaps looking at, looking at the science behind stress. And then what happens when we are in chronic stress and then looking at what happens when we bring a mindfulness to that stress and we learn how to respond instead of just always react mm-hmm and giving people a chance also to look at mindful communication.
So giving people a chance to practice it and then try it out in their own life. So, yeah, I think that that's pretty much the three components and then there's a home based practice as well. So asking people to start out by listening to maybe some, some mindful recordings, like the body scan, mindfulness of breathing and doing that at home, and then sort of setting that experience [00:10:00] up and learning for themselves, like what's happening.
How, how is this working for me? I love the idea of mindful communication. Could you speak on that for a second because that's something new that we've not talked about on this podcast, how to communicate mindfully, that feels like such an important interpersonal skill. Absolutely. Absolutely. So if you go back to Buddhism, I think it goes to like right speech.
And not that you have to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness or mind communication. And I think the idea is just bringing that present moment awareness. To your conversation so that when you're listening, you are not listening to respond. You're listening to, to just take in what the other person is saying.
And then hopefully when you're speaking the other, person's also just mindfully listening to you. So for example, in the class, we ha break people off into pairs and they, they do a little practice where they'll sit quietly for a minute. One person will talk on a particular topic. Like, like perhaps it's like happiness or joy, or maybe it's like anger or fear.
So they get one or the other they'll speak for three minutes. The other person just [00:11:00] mindfully listens. They'll take a minute. Pause. And then they'll swap. And so they have a chance to share, like, how was that? And usually it's, it's kind of profound. It's a rich experience that a lot of times we don't have a chance to experience because we're often in our heads thinking about how we're gonna respond or, you know, assuming something.
So giving people a chance to bring that mindful awareness into their conversations. Yeah. I mean, how many times I think this is something that a lot of people can identify with, right? How many times are we communicating? And either we are thinking about what we're going to respond next, or we're having a conversation, we're sharing something.
And we are aware that the other person is perhaps not, not fully present or fully listening. And I love that idea of just holding. Holding space. I think holding space is this buzz term that we hear all the time now. Right. But I think that truly that's what, when we're mindfully communicating, we're able to hold space for the other person's experience and story, which I just love.
I, I did a little bit of work through there's a small [00:12:00] organization based actually out of the bay area. It's called circles international, but they do these contemplative circles for healthcare workers. So you get a lot of people from, you know, You see the, a Kaiser, all of these different, big organizations who come in and basically it's a support group.
And I had just never experienced anything like it when I did it for the first time. And it sounds similar to MBSR, mindful communication where every time we got together, we'd have an hour. We'd have two point people and they would each get, I think it was 15 minutes to just speak about whatever they were going through.
And the responsibility of the other five or six group members was to do nothing. But listen, it was to not give advice. It was to not try and fix. It was to not do anything other than either validate their experience or ask clarifying questions. About their experience. And that was only after the 15 minutes were up and that they had all of that time to, just to just speak.
And I, I remember doing it as a participant and [00:13:00] just feeling profound. It was a very profound experience because that, that, wow. When I'm talking and I'm just able to, to say what's on my mind with people just holding space, that's a, a really powerful tool in the toolkit, active listening. Absolutely.
Absolutely cuz it allows for better connect. Which we need more of . Oh my God. Absolutely. I feel like, yeah, active listening, I think is one of those skills that we could all utilize more in our lives. And I, I think of it as an important tool in the toolkit right up there with mind movement with meditation and mindfulness based stress reduction.
Sounds like it has quite. Different yet similar curriculum to the center for mind, body medicines, curriculum, just different packaging of similar tools. Would you say that that sounds more or less accurate? Yeah, I would say I, God, they're both so valuable. And, and I think that some have like one area has strengths where the other one [00:14:00] has different strengths.
I think the MBSR really helps people develop. The muscle of mindfulness that coming back to the present moment, the neuroplasticity of coming back to the present moment and developing that. And I feel like the mind body skills groups, and this is just my personal reflection on it. I feel like with mind, body skills, I got, I always feel more like community building with that, whereas yes, there's some of that in the MBSR, but I feel like the focus is more on the practic.
Mm. And with mind body skills it's so like celebratory and connecting. So I feel like they are both similar in that they're both eight week groups and you do learn mind, body skills and, and they both teach you to kind of come back to yourself, come back to the moment, use your tools, but they're, they're just sort of a different manifestation.
I love that just to back up Galen and I did a mind body medicine training. We did that together in 2017. I believe you just sent me a photo of us to all doing it together. And I was like, oh my gosh, we've lived so many lives [00:15:00] since then. but yeah, there is. So the center for mind, body medicine has a training program to become eventually certified, which Galen is in mind, body medicine.
I am on my way to certification right now. I'm about to, I just started the process of trying to find a facilitator to do certification. Start that training. So pretty excited. But yeah, so we met in the initial training for mind, body medicine five years ago. And I think one of the things that struck me above all was how supportive and communal I think that the group work.
Felt when we teach mind body skills groups. It's an eight to 10 week group where we incorporate different skills with each week. But the thing that Galen touched on that I found really, really profound with the mind body skills groups is that we have a really long, almost half of the session. In many cases is simply a check-in for people to explore how they're feeling to express what's coming up for them.
And for again, for that supportive space to just provide. [00:16:00] A comfortable place to reflect. And I think that that's something that again, many of us have not had before if ever. Yeah. Yeah. And I, so with mind, body medicine, it's, you know, we go through and, and teach a number of tools, meditation being one of them mindful movement, similar to MBSR being one of them.
We also teach things like guided imagery and visualization work, and that's something that I've really brought into my clinical practice. So guided imagery, right? The idea of. By tapping in to the power of our imagination and our present moment awareness, visualizing ourselves in a safe space, for example, that that can be an incredibly powerful tool to help reregulate our nervous system help to reduce some of that fight or flight response.
Because when we visualize things, we actually have a physiologic response just to our thoughts. One really great example. And Galene, I'm sure you use this all the time in your groups as well, [00:17:00] but I'll have people imagine standing at a kitchen sink, cutting a lemon and imagining cutting a lemon wedge and bringing it to your mouth and taking a bite.
And if you visualize that exercise, you can actually feel your mouth start to pucker and starting to salivate more. And it's a really good just way to tag. That physiologic response that oftentimes happens at the onset of our thoughts. And I think that, that I remember doing that five years ago in our group and being like, whoa, like that's crazy.
Well, there really there's a lot of, a lot of bodily processes happening behind the scenes that we're not aware of most of the time and galley. And I I'm, I'm curious how if guided imagery or visualization work is something that you bring into your practice as an occupational therapist and how that shows up.
So it is so not only do I offer it as part of the, if I happen to do a mind body skills group, but I do offer it in my practice as tool for stress or pain management. [00:18:00] And so that's, if somebody wants to learn guided imagery, then that's something that I can walk them through it and then provide them with resources where they can later come back to it and, and listen to a recording themselves.
Sometimes I'll make a recording for people. And I recently had somebody who. Someone passed away. And she was feeling stressed about that and she wanted to do guided imagery. And then we did one that's called wise guide. So you sort of imagine that you are somewhere in nature, you bring all of your senses into it when you close your eyes.
So what do you see? What do you see? Smell. What do you hear? And then with wise guide, it's like a chance to sort of tap into your intuition for those who wanna do it. It's not for everyone, but she found it to be like really calming and really profound for her. And she said it was like just a total shift in how she was feeling afterwards.
So, so that I was thrilled, that that was a helpful experience for. That's such a beautiful example of the power of visualization, the power of guided imagery. I see almost this like [00:19:00] merging of the guided imagery right up there with meditation and with mindful movement that these are practices that we're starting to see no matter where you're seeking care, it finds someone who's who's provides these services or who is a proponent for.
Interventions. And, and, and I think part of the reason you're seeing it in the Western is, again, you know, now people are starting to research these practices. So I know with guided imagery, there's at least mild to moderate evidence for things like guided imagery, being helpful for rheumatoid arthritis, pain, and I think decreased pain after surgery.
When they, when people practice it either like a pre-surgery or post, or I, I forget, but so there's evidence behind it, which is, I think why we're starting to see it in the Western model, too. Yeah. And all of these, you know, again, I think I had a friend on a couple episodes ago who we were talking about this idea of very hard science and like, is there evidence we need to have randomized control trials and we need to have systematic reviews and we [00:20:00] need to have meta analyses before.
We're going to make any recommendations on the utilization. Let's say of guided imagery or of meditation. And I love to see that whether it's via observational studies or whether it's via more quantitative evidence with things like pain reduction or blood pressure reduction, I know at least with mind, body medicine, those groups, there's quite a bit.
I mean, I. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'll have to look this up. But I thought I read over 200, there's over 200 evidence based studies of some capacity that look at mind, body medicine in various practice settings. And that includes as healthcare providers looking at whether or not utilizing things like meditation, guided imagery, mindful movement, that those think can actually.
Healthcare workers become less, burned out, be more present at their job, have higher job satisfaction. And that's actually how, when Galen and I did our first mind body training, it was through work because [00:21:00] they were trying to help reduce burnout rates with clinicians. And so, you know, both from the standpoint of helping our patients, but also helping ourselves to help our patients.
Because we always say here that you have to fill your own cup first, you know, that it's a two pronged benefit from the utilization of these skills. Yeah. It's like heal or heal myself. absolutely. Absolutely. I'm curious what your mind, body practices, what are your favorite things to integrate into your day to day?
And yeah. What, what kind of mind body skills do you bring into your day to day to stay balanced? I think that my most utilized skill is like the informal mindfulness. So just sort of trying to drop into the present moment when I'm working with patients or in my life with my loved ones, or if I'm on a walk, I'm having my tea.
So just kind of coming back to that. And then I think the other ones that I use would be. A mindful meditation. Also, I love to do the drawings out of the mind body skills, [00:22:00] where you close your eyes and then you do the series of three drawings. That's one of the things that I've like carried forward ever since we started it in 2017.
And then I also do sometimes practice guided imagery as well. How about you? I love that the, the drawings are actually one of my favorite things to bring into the groups that I've taught, or even just one-on-one client sessions and just for everyone listening. So in mind, body skills groups, we'll oftentimes start off and finish with a set of drawings.
And those three drawings that Galen alluded to one is how you see yourself. Now, I believe the second is how you see yourself with your biggest problem. And the third is how you see yourself with your biggest problem solved. And it's this really beautiful exercise because oftentimes when we utilize drawing, it activates a different part of our brain than language and, and writing.
And so oftentimes, and I remember feeling this profoundly the first time I did it and continue to feel like this every time I do [00:23:00] drawing exercises, that what comes up is not always exactly what I expected because, oh yeah. We're tapping into that like creative power and more of that subconscious mind via our drawing exercises.
Right. It's really cool. Really cool. Always so surprising because that's sort of, the idea is like, don't plan it, just do whatever comes out. And I think that's why I love it. And that's why it's so powerful is I, I think they say you can get messages from your intuition, whatever that means like that part of you, that is sort of aware of, of everything.
And yeah, it's always surprising and fun too. It's a fun. Yeah, I think, I mean, again, we don't, we don't play enough as adults. And I think that drawing or artwork can be such a healthy form of play. And so a lot of to answer your questions about what kind of mindful practices I. Use the most. It's, it's really interesting because I think a lot of my mindfulness, the places where I'm most mindful are places that might not seem the most mindful on the outside mindful movement to me is the absolute [00:24:00] number one end all like, I mean, that is the thing that has changed my life more than anything, specifically dance.
And in mind, body skills groups, we do dancing. We also do shaking exercises and they use the analogy that when, if you see two dogs, for example, that get into a fight. As soon as they are done fighting to reregulate their nervous systems. As soon as they walk away, you'll see a dog shake off. And that shaking is helping to reregulate the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest or relaxed response.
And so when he as humans, right, because we do our animals, shaking can be so beneficial to activate that rest and relaxed response. And also dancing can be so powerful. And for me, I have found dance to be one of the most therapeutic tools ever. I always thought I was a terrible dancer. And I think what I'm realizing is it.
Flip and matter, your nervous system. Doesn't care if you're a good dancer or a bad dancer, it just cares that you're moving around. But you know, going to [00:25:00] concerts, going to shows, going out and, and listening to live music, especially music that feels like you're hearing it from all sides. That to me has been, I mean, one of my.
Powerful tools in the toolkit. And if you would've asked me, you know, 10 years ago, like, what's your number one mindfulness tool, like going to concerts and dancing probably wouldn't have been what I thought thought I'd say, but, but yeah, it's just, it's been really profound. That makes me think of too, like also the mental health of doing things you love, you know, and of being socially engaged and celebrating and having fun and.
You know, I mean, I think those kind of things are, as OTs would say, engaging in those occupations through our lens, but that can be the most fun and the most healing. Right? Yeah, absolutely. And I love that when I was reading off your bio, that leisure is a really important topic that you bring into any of your mindfulness or occupational therapy work.
Because again, I think that. We can oftentimes think [00:26:00] that mindfulness or self care or self-development that it's either bubble bass and chocolate and very kind of this passive, this indulgence, or we think it's like hard work. We think we have to like do the work and do our journaling and go to our therapist and, you know, dig deep.
And that oftentimes on my self development journey, the times I've gotten. Burned out from self-care is when I put too much pressure on myself to do too much. And I don't know if that's ever something you've experienced, but I, I don't know, just this pressure of feeling like I need to make sure I get eight hours of sleep, drink, 64 ounces of water.
Do my meditations, go to the gym, do this, do that. And it can get really overwhelming. You're like, oh my gosh, this is becoming, becoming a job, essentially. yeah. You know, and we are holistic beings. We're human beings and our lives are. Dynamic and vast, and they're not just following all those check boxes.
Right. And so we have to look at the big picture. [00:27:00] And how about our relationships? How about our environment? How about, you know, are we learning enough to be engaged? Are we getting exercise, looking at the whole wheel and you know, what matters to one person might not matter to someone else? So maybe it's not mindfulness.
Maybe it's not. One part of the wheel, maybe it's more engaging in family or just broadening the perspective of what it can be. And then I was also reflecting on the social or the socioeconomic kind of things that affect our wellness too. So there's so many factors that can affect our, we well, that, that include these practices as tools, but they're just, they're part, just part of the whole.
Think you bring up a really important point that I might have touched on before in other episodes, but I, I think bear. Some time. And it's this idea that especially within American culture, we're, we're hyper individualistic, right? Mm-hmm we think that our, if we are depressed, it's because of us, [00:28:00] right?
It's because there's something wrong with us. Or if we're anxious, it must be something that's on the individual. And I think that as we start to look more holistically at our health, looking at systemic factors is so. God damn important. And I think maybe one of the most important things, because if you go back to what we learned in nursing school, we've got Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
This pyramid of needs. And at the base are things like food, shelter, safety. Do you feel safe in your home? Do you feel safe where you live? All of those things? And at the top is what Maslow called self-actualization. And I see self-actualization as a synonym for self development, self growth, all of those things.
And the argument that is, is if the base needs of the pyramid are not met, how can you expect people to self-actualize? Yeah. And that. Just in turn is what makes a lot of the wellness world. I think it's a privileged place to sit, right? There's, there's a lot of privilege [00:29:00] in being able to do this work. And I, I don't know, you know, starting this podcast, I was really cognizant I'm like, I don't wanna be just another.
Privileged white girl with a nose ring talking about the importance of meditating because I . Right. I think that that's just, we've got enough of those. And I think, I think that it's important to, to tie in socioeconomic pressures. Yeah. You know, racism, sexism, like all of these things, it's so important because if we're not acknowledging the impact, those things have on our mental health, we're spiritually bypassing them.
And I think that that's really dangerous, right? Yeah. And I, and thank you for saying all of that. And I, and I think while broadening the lens to include all of that, it's, there's still a place for mindfulness and these tools that people can use as tools to calm the nervous system, come back to their body, all these things that are so important.
And I, and yes, we do need to, to widen the lens and look at what is happening upstream. Right. And it, if I can just like riff on another arm, slightly [00:30:00] coming back to the OT lens, OT. I think it came out of the Western culture. I think it might have began in the us, like with world war, I veterans helping them after they've become disabled, helping them reengage in life.
And there's one, one part of OT that originally helped people in mental institutions by giving them things, to occupy their time with so that they, that really helped with their, their mental health symptoms. And then there's the other. Side that helped the world war. I veterans regain abilities to engage in their occupations, whether that was work or things they enjoyed.
But, but that being said, I think the OT lens is very Western and it puts the individual in the center and it's like, can you be independent? Right. Mm-hmm and there is a. Professor of occupational therapy, who was from Japan originally. And he said, let's create a new model because he was saying that the Japanese OTs, while very dedicated to occupational therapy, their cultural lens didn't match.
Yeah. So they created a whole way of [00:31:00] looking at a person, a way of doing an assessment where you look at them as a river. And so they tried to create an assessment where it was something that people around the world could relate to. So if your life is a river, How is it flowing? The banks of the river?
Are your surroundings or your social support? Is it built up well, is it not built up box in the river? Are your obstacles? Driftwood could be helpful. And then also sort of looking further downs. I just love the idea of trying to think about things from a different perspective, and then thinking about coming back to wellness and what are all the factors that affect wellness?
Ooh. I love that. I got like shivers, as you were explaining that life is a river. Yeah. And seeing your life as a river. Because again, I think that taps into a different part of the brain, just like those drawings that we were saying, right? Yeah. That, that creative visualization. And, you know, I think it, it brings up a point.
As well to go back to something you mentioned earlier about the importance of community and how, you know, these mind body skills groups that you and I both lead, how that communal [00:32:00] aspect is so important. I hear that with what you were saying about this individualistic model in the American occupational therapy world, but.
In other parts of the world, the importance of community and family and your sort of your place as not just the individual, but as part of a unit is so profoundly important. And I'm curious in your occupational therapy practice is have you seen a. Relationship between isolation or lack of community and, and poor mental health outcomes.
I know in my nursing practice, I definitely have seen that before. Oh, absolutely. A hundred percent. And especially gosh, during the pandemic with so many people and elderly as well, like sort of isolating themselves for safety and then having people come and participate in groups and just hearing from them how much they are.
Getting out of it and then just even seeing it in their face. I think we're social beings. We're kind of hardwired in that way. Yeah, totally. And I think it it's really interesting in my coaching and mental health [00:33:00] work that I've done during the pandemic. I don't know if I even shared this with you. I, I started working in primary care psych, like one minute before the pandemic got really bad, it was like the end of February, 2020.
I got the job. And so really just seeing this explosion of, you know, mental health crisis of people in, I N I see patients in New York, California. DC and Illinois or Chicago. And if you remember those, those were a lot of early places of a lot of COVID. Hmm. And just that isolation and that panic. And I think, again, we are social beings just as you said, isolation is not good for us.
And I, I remember seeing it in the, that acute. Panic at the beginning, we're right where we were in our apartments, 24 hours a day. And not able to even go outside many parts of the world to take a walk around the block. You know, I had a partner who was living in Italy and I remember a really scary story about how people were taking stuffed animal dogs and pretending to take them for walks just so they could get outside for 10 minutes.
Wow. [00:34:00] And when you, when you think about now, so now we're two and a half years later. And in my clinical practice, I'm seeing so much more social anxiety than ever. And I think that that fear of coming out and a reintegrating in a community based way, uh, I don't know. I think that the last couple years it's highlighted how important community is.
Yeah. While also I think a lot of people are really out of practice with that idea of going back out into the community and integrating because yeah, I just, I've been seeing a lot more, a lot more fear around that maybe. Yeah. And I think there's that sort of getting over the hump to, for some people, I mean, I don't know, this is a smaller thing, but getting back into the office, that feeling the resistance and then, and then it's okay.
But I mean, that's just one small arm of it. , you know, it is, but it isn't because I, I think, especially in American culture, think about how much time we spend at work. And for so many people work is their identity. I. Coaching colleague on my last episode, who does burnout prevention and was [00:35:00] talking, she lives in New York city.
And she was talking about this grind culture that, you know, you just see this, this work, work, work, and your identity. is what you do for work. Right. And so in that case, if we think about, they say, it's like, you've got home as your first space and work is your second space. And so what's your third space.
And I think if work is your second space that you're spending so much of your time, the idea of, yeah. After two plus years needing to go back into the office, I think for some, that's an incredible, oh my gosh, thank the Lord. I can't wait. Or for some like myself, I'm like the thought of going into an office now after a couple years of not.
Not a very welcoming thought so yeah. You know, But I think it goes back to what you were saying about just being able to witness and assess and take an assessment of where you're at right now. And I think that that's something that our society does not do a good job at facilitating or fostering, like a reflective mind.[00:36:00]
And that's that river analogy. I, I just wanna go back to that again. Cause I love that is that's such a reflective activity of where am I right now? What are. Thanks. What are my rocks? What are my driftwood? Where does the river look like? It's going, what, how, where would I like it to go? And I think, yeah, so I love this conversation.
I wanna bring it back to this idea of how can we integrate more mindfulness or more of these skills into our. Occupational therapy programs into our clinical visits into our day to day lives. And I'd love to hear a little bit about how you've talked a little bit about bringing guided imagery into your OT practice.
What are some other things that you bring in? So, I mean, I would start by saying that. Just like I learned in my OT class, in, in college was the idea that as a practitioner, I can bring mindful awareness into, to my practice so I can slow [00:37:00] down. And between clients take a deep breath, right? I can, while I'm either in the room with the, the person or over the video with the person, I can try to drop into the present moment.
Mm-hmm and just be here with them, just be in this conversation, just be in this moment. Every time I do that. It's so rewarding. Like I can just drop down into myself and suddenly be there with them. And mm-hmm so a lot of times, especially when I was working in the hospital as an OT, You know, yes. I'm helping people get out of bed.
You know, here's some devices, so you can get a shower chair at home and be safe and not fall. I never felt like what I was doing was that profound. Maybe it was sometimes, but a lot of times I felt like secretly, even though this isn't what I was being paid for. My value was being present with them. My value was being like a person that was there with them as they were in this healthcare journey.
That was maybe scary, you know, and just, that was where I felt the most valuable. So incorporating the skills for myself, I think [00:38:00] is number one. But number two, As an OT, I can offer mindfulness as a therapeutic tool or as a means to an end. So uniquely I'm trying to help people engage in whatever occupation of daily living they want to.
From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep, including sleep. So if they want to meditate and set a routine for that and have that be something they engage in. We can work on that. Like I can show them here's where you could find something to listen. And what time of day do you wanna set up your, your routine and how do you wanna do that?
So that would be sort of to help them engage in it as an occupation, or, you know, there might be a therapeutic approach. So let's say they have high amounts of stress or pain, you know? So, so maybe they want to practice that a 10 minute mindful meditation. So that would be a way to incorporate that into my hour long session would be to guide them through.
And then one other thing, working with the post COVID population, one of the side effects is brain fog that some people experience, and one of the ways that [00:39:00] manifests is people are not creating new memories. They don't remember where did I put my keys or with too many things going on? They can't be in the present moment cuz they're so distracted.
So helping people use mindfulness, use a breathing strategy. To get grounded can help them be in the present moment, focus on what they're doing. Yeah. And if they're focusing on what they're doing, then they can actually lay down a memory and then be able to like retrieve it later. Whereas if they're really scattered, they're not even paying attention to what's happening, or if they're in a really scattered work environment.
So teaching them to slow down so that they can attend to what's happening. These are skill like bringing, teaching them to bring mindful skill. Into their daily life to help with cognition. I've found that to be, have really good results. So those are just a few examples. I love all of those. And I love all of them.
They don't sound like they're things that take hours out of our day. And I think that's a really important point [00:40:00] to make that mindfulness. I forget what you said. Unofficial mindfulness or unstructured. Mindfulness is like your fair that's that's that's mine as well, but this idea that mindfulness doesn't have to be something where we sit on the mountaintop, like Buddha for hours and hours on end.
I did a presentation recently on mind. Skills and specifically how it relates around test taking anxiety for a group of social workers who are preparing for their board exams. Mm. And it was a really illuminating, great conversation. I had so much fun just chatting with these students. And one of the things that came up was this idea.
We talked about like, yeah, great. I'd love to meditate. I'd love to do yoga, but like, I don't even have time to brush my teeth sometimes. So like, how am I supposed to bring these practices in? Yeah. Because I. So much going on. And I think so many of us, we are overscheduled overstressed and we are busy from sunup to sundown.
And so one of the things that's beautiful though, about mindfulness is that we can incorporate it in 10, second bursts, 32nd bursts, five [00:41:00] minute bursts. And that it's not something that we need to set aside hours of our day. So we were thinking, you know, in that context in test taking, you know, what about taking 10 deep breaths before you sit down at the computer?
And you inhale through the nose and you exhale out the mouth. We can visualize the feeling we wanna have walking out of the test and imagining just, you know, absolutely kicking butt and walking out and saying like, yes, I absolutely know. I crushed that. Right? These are, these are little things that take just a couple seconds, but stacked really have that profoundly positive ability to just.
Bring us back into that present moment. And I think that, you know, we've mentioned present moment awareness a number of times, but at the end of the day, that's the point of all of this it's to bring us back to the now because we are, so we spend so much time in the past, in the future, right? Yeah. We spend so much time as someone with anxiety.
God, like so much of anxiety is just a [00:42:00] rumination of what we have. No idea is actually if it's gonna happen or not. . Yeah. You know, and any time that you realize that you're ruminating, like, and you do bring yourself back to the present moment, that's your moment of mindfulness, you know, and there's that whole neuroplasticity.
Idea that cells or neurons that fire together wire together. That's why people practice. That's why people sit down and do a mindfulness practice for five minutes, 10 minutes. 45 minutes is because you are training your brain. You're training those neurons to fire together so that you can bring yourself back to the present.
Mor moment more frequently. We don't meditate to become better meditators. We meditate to become better in our lives so that when the stuff hits the fan, which it does, cuz that's a part of humanity and being alive, we have the tools to stop, take a breath, observe proceed. We have the tools to take it down, take that breath and then think about how do we want to respond to this?
Stop. Take a breath. Observe. Proceed. I love that [00:43:00] because I think, yeah, it's strengthening those muscles. I literally say this in my coaching work all the time that it's the workout, it's the exercise that we're doing. And it's that mental fitness that we're building up that emotional, spiritual fitness that we're building up that ability to come back to the now.
And I think the base of so much of that is the ability for us to self witness or to observe our thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they arise and not. Immediately identify with them and become wrapped up in them. Right. But the ability to say, ah, I'm thinking again about the argument I had with my partner or what to make for dinner, or, you know, whatever that is.
Oh, I'm feeling anxious about this podcast episode or whatever it is. Right. like, oh, and just being able to tag and to. Those sensations, those things as they come up with again, without I identifying immediately, I think that's where a lot of the magic happens. [00:44:00] Yeah. Just bringing that awareness like so that you understand what's kind of happening and the other wing of the bird, cuz it takes two wings to fly.
So one is the awareness and the other is the compassion. Part of it too. Right? Mm-hmm so bringing that awareness that like, okay, I'm doing this again. And this is uncomfortable. And then bringing that compassion and I haven't studied much on compassion, but I was just reading last night that it has been studied too.
And it's been shown to be helpful for things like depression. So we're trying to bring that present moment awareness and then compassion for ourselves too. That's like such a big part. Yes. I believe her name. Kristen Neff is a researcher who does a lot on the importance and the power of self-compassion and the show notes.
I'll tag some of her resources because she's got, I believe it's a book it's got self-compassion in the title, but yet just looking at how profoundly powerful it is when we turn compassion onto ourselves and towards others. I don't know it, it's funny [00:45:00] before this call Gaylene. And I actually had to reschedule a couple times because at first she had to reschedule and then yesterday I had to reschedule and it was so funny because we were joking about it before the call, when Gaylene said, Hey, I'm not feeling great.
Do you mind if we reschedule. I was like, absolutely. Oh my gosh, I don't mind at all. And then yesterday I was having technical difficulties. It was a long day and I'm like, crap. Not sure if I can show up right now and do an hour long podcast recording on mindfulness and it was so funny because we give so much compassion to others oftentimes, and we don't give it to ourselves.
And I was like, you should be able to do the mindfulness, like podcast recording and I'm like, oh, here's the, should I hear you? It was an opportunity to then reframe and say, Okay. Let's have some compassion for ourselves that same compassion that you'd show to others. And I, I just, I bring that up because I think God, we all go through that where we are, we're harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else.
And we're so human. Every time I teach any of these [00:46:00] classes, it's like, I need the class as much as anyone who's in it. Right. And you know, John Capits Zen book is called full catastrophe living. And I just think of that. I also call it whole Ench lot living. I don't know why, but I just feel like. It's the whole bunch, a lot.
It's like part of the contract of being a human being is that you're gonna have ups and downs, whether it's like out things happening outside of your body or things happening inside of your body. Right. That's just part of the experience. Nobody has a perfect life. And so how, how do we bring these skills for ourselves?
And isn't it interesting how it shows up for us time and time again? Don't they say? We teach what we need to know for ourselves. Yeah, dude. Yeah. And that's, you know, that's one of the things I've loved about this mindfulness based clinical work is that it really takes the clinician off the pedestal.
That's something I really like in the mind body skills groups is as a facilitator, you are also a participant. Yeah. Because again, agree with you a hundred percent that every time I sit down with a client, [00:47:00] every time I sit down in a group, every time I do a presentation on mind, body skills or on mindfulness or on the neuroscience of, of mental health or, you know, what have you, I need to hear what I'm saying as well.
And I learn so much from my clients. I learn so much from my patients and I think that that bilateral. Exchange of energy and of growth and of learning. And oftentimes when you show up and you're like, Hey, like I'm. I have a knowledge base that I went to school to study this. And I, I understand maybe, you know, more about the neuroscience of, of mind body work, but at the end of the day, I am whole Ench, lot of living to use your word right.
Like right here with you. And it is not to say I don't go through the shit. It's not to say I don't show up poorly sometimes or get reactive or upset or anxious or depressed or any of these things. It's to say that showing. With authenticity and self-compassion and awareness that [00:48:00] that's, again, I I'm gonna use whole Ench lot of living now, wherever I go.
Oh, good. I have a
amazing. So, and, and that. It's so beautiful. Like our messy lives are so beautiful and our lives are precious. And like, unless there's some strange advance, none of us are on this planet forever. We're here for a fixed amount of time. And I think in our Western culture, we don't acknowledge that, that we are here for a short time.
There's gonna be a time where all of us are gone and even listening, you know? And it's like, how do we show up for this whole experience? And. You know, it's more than just mindfulness. It's our lives, you know, it's everything we don't even grasp. . Yeah. I mean, I think of mindfulness and, and the ability to come back to the present moment.
I mean, my whole journey kicked off after doing our mind body training in 2017, you know, Galen, you were my group, I think, and I don't mind talking about this, but I was like two minutes out of a six and a half year breakup and about [00:49:00] to go traveling and had no idea what the hell I was doing with my life.
I was so just anxious. And I remember being. Oh, wow. Like this is, this is profound. And as I brought more and more present moment awareness in it's almost, it just makes life more sparkly. Yeah. In that moment, experiencing that fully, you know, we, as you said, we are humans who have gotten so hyper accustomed to having our attention in 46,000 directions at once.
And what happens when we come back to the now and I. It's yeah, it's profound. And you know, now is the only time that we are alive right. In this moment. We're not living in the future of the past or at least that's one way of looking at it. There's that when you said something about the shit, it made me think of, there is an expression, no mud, no Lotus.
Right? Cause the Lotus is that beautiful flower. And it comes out of like, like. Yeah. crap, right? Yeah. So can we [00:50:00] transmute or, yeah, be alchemists in our lives by coming back to the present moment. And it's not always fun. A lot of times we're just sort of holding awareness that this is really uncomfortable and I really don't like it, but that's, what's present, I think.
And then the next time you tune in, it might be different. A hundred percent. I think that to move through, especially those lower energy emotions. So things like grief, depression, despair, that those are profoundly painful experiences. They physically hurt. Right. We physically, when we are grieving, we are in physical pain so much of the time.
And I think allowing ourselves. The space to feel and to move through those heavy and hard emotions rather than over or under them. I always say, mm mm. It takes bravery. I think it takes bravery. I think that that's where support groups, mind, body groups, coaching therapy, a community just in general, right?
Having, having community support with [00:51:00] loved ones or friends that when we sign up, when we make this sole contract to walk through life, being present and being aware of our experience, Again, it would be spiritually bypassing to only focus on the love and the appreciation and the gratitude and the joy.
The other side of the coin exists as well. And being able to hold all of that again, it starts with those 30 seconds of mindfulness. It starts with the building up and strengthening those mental muscles of, of being present. But I just, I did wanna tag that. It is, it's not always pleasant just as you were saying, and it's not always comfortable.
And that's where the compassion comes in. I think yes, a hundred percent Kaylene. Gosh, I just love talking to you so much. It's been such a joy and I'm, you know, as we're wrapping up, I'm curious if there are any last nuggets of wisdom or anything that's just coming through in regards [00:52:00] to mindfulness or what we've talked about for anyone.
Listen. Maybe just sharing the common agreed upon definition of mindfulness, which is paying attention in the present moment. Non-judgmentally I feel like there's another part to it, but that's the definition that people have agreed upon for mindfulness. And I also wanted to mention, I don't know if I said that that that assessment is called the Kawa model that comes out of OT.
If anyone wanted to look that up, I love. Well Galen, my dear. It was such a joy speaking with you. I will include contact information. If you wanna get in touch with Galen, chat with her about any of the amazing integrative OT work that she's doing, her health coaching work. She's just an absolute wealth of knowledge, and we are lucky to have her on today.
Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, Charlotte. It's been such a gift. I'm glad your voice is out there and I'm looking forward to hearing more podcasts. Thanks so much Madea. All right. Y'all this is once you see it, hope you all have a great rest of [00:53:00] your day. Any question? Shoot me a DM on Instagram at Charlotte, Suzanne, or an email at Ola CS, wellness.co.
Thanks so much and have a great day.