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What Do EMDR, Running, and Drumming Have in Common?

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• September 1, 2015 By Lisa Danylchuk, EdM, LMFT, E-RYT, GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert

Nope, this isn’t a strange riddle where someone is found in the desert in a scuba suit. The answer to the question posed above is actually pretty simple: brain integration.

What is that? Excellent question; I am glad you asked. As you may know, we have two hemispheres of the brain. Neuroscience is a relatively young field, and we are continuing to learn more about the complexity of the brain and its function with time and as research evolves. We do know that there are different roles played by different sides and areas of the brain, and that integrating neural networks appears to be helpful in resolving traumatic memories.

The success of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in treating trauma and mental health challenges teaches us that alternating right- and left-brain stimulation, via visual, auditory, or tactile experience, helps facilitate emotional processing. Through the simple act of holding something that buzzes between your right and left hand, or listening to something shifting from your right to left ear, a memory that was once charged with emotion can become less distressing. During the process, it is common for relevant associations to arise, for memories of thoughts and body sensations to arise. With support, this process can facilitate lasting and integrated healing.

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Right-left brain stimulation may sound like a scary, science fiction-like process, but I assure you there is no electricity involved in this type of therapy. Your body receives input in the form of sound, touch, or sight, without any added energy.

Along with helping us process emotions, EMDR can help build up positive memories, experience, thoughts, and feelings. We call this resourcing, and use imagined or real resources to cultivate feelings of peace, nurturing, protection, and wisdom. In addition to and as part of processing negative experiences, it is crucial to cultivate the positive, sometimes the opposite of what occurred in the experience of trauma.

Think about your life for a moment and ask yourself: when do I engage in an activity that engages my right and left brain in alternating rhythm? How do I feel before, during, and after the fact? How can I incorporate this information into my healing path?

How do walking, running, and drumming factor in? Think about it for a moment. When you walk, run, or drum, you are using your body in a rhythmic way, alternating the stimulation or use of your right and left brain throughout the activity. Have you ever gone on a hike or run and felt that you were sorting through your thoughts, developing new insights, or becoming less distressed about something? We know that exercise has many benefits; EMDR highlights for us some of the mental and emotional benefits.

There are a million ways to alternate right- and left-brain activation, including dance, yoga, and some tai chi moves. People have naturally gravitated toward right-left movements in many healing rituals across the world. Think of how many sacred rituals involve drums, movement, or voyages on foot. Understanding brain integration, plasticity, and resilience gives us some insight into why these rituals have been effective and why they continue to be passed down through generations.

Think about your life for a moment and ask yourself: when do I engage in an activity that engages my right and left brain in alternating rhythm? How do I feel before, during, and after the fact? How can I incorporate this information into my healing path?

If you are looking to heal from specific traumatic memories, I highly recommend working with a skilled EMDR professional who can provide structure and guide you toward health and resolution. Consider how your own choices outside of therapy can support your process as well. Perhaps you will choose to walk or bike to your therapist’s office this week, or do a little dance after your session. Whatever you choose, may it serve your healing and integration.

© Copyright 2007 – 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org.

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That’s all I need

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I Need

Meredith Brooks

I need some good luck; I need a best friend

I need a rough dog; I need a mountain

I need some new clothes, a TV, a cause

A trip to Nirvana, the thrill of applause

I need a wet kiss, I need to confess

I need a vision, religion

The right to be silent, and then to be heard

A week on an island, a diet that works

I need a dose of the Bible

Another course in survival

Just talkin’ ’bout the essentials

It makes me feel alive

That’s all I need, see how easy I am to please

That’s all I need, see how easy I am

I need some money, more money, and more time

A strong cup of coffee, a haircut, a lifeline

A stranger to trust me, my father to love me

Seattle, a sunburn, and lots of Todd Rundgren

I need a guitar, to do it on all fours

Cool friends, weekends, and someone to die for

When I’m alone on my couch, nothing can settle me down

I’m adding on to my list, it makes me feel alive

That’s all I need, see how easy I am to please

That’s all I need, see how easy I am

I need a Guru, I need to chill

I need a Mercedes 280SL

Yeah, that’ll fix it, I’ll be complete

I need a, I need a, I need a

That’s all I need, see how easy I am to please

That’s all I need, maybe then I will be complete

That’s all I need, I’m not asking for everything

That’s all I need, see how easy I am, I am

Låtskrivere: Joseph A. Bereal Jr. / Brandon Alexander Hodge / Durrell Babbs / Elgin B. Lumpkin / James Rayshawn Smith

Teksten for I Need © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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The sound of spirituality

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Yesterday I chatted with a friend about God. He is a Christian, in addition to having a logic mind like no other. Many years ago, he told me about some things he had seen that he just could`t explain with reason. Those experiences related to ghosts, but he was not so interesting diving a discussion about their existence. What he wanted to talk about, on the other hand, was the reality of a “creator”. He did not want to use the name God, as this is just a label we have given to something we can`t explain. When I asked him what convinced him the most, he told me: “Science”. I have also read about other bright scientists, who have arrived at the same conclusion, and I find it intriguing. But, for me there still is a logical flaw: If there had to be a creator behind the big bang, who created the creator?

I have prayed for a power like you
To see deep down in my soul

Katy Perry, Spiritual

I am no closer to an answer. But maybe I don`t need to. Right now it`s enough to know that there are things I can`t explain. And there certainly is more to life than we can see or hear. If those things are phenomena we still can`t explain, or if there really is somebody “out there” does not really matter. What matters is embracing it.

Flying high as a kite on your love
Lost in sweet ecstasy
Found a nirvana finally

Katy Perry, Spirituality

 

 

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The sound of Autumn Leaves

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I’ve always loved the autumn. When I drove home after work today I had to force myself to not look too much around me. The temptation of being sucked into the red and yellow colors, did not go together very well with my ability to drive. But I looked out at the trees caressing the mountains as often as I could. 

   

beautiful Jølster

 On Sunday, I will go kayaking for the first time in many years. I look forward to sitting inside the tiny kayak resting on the water, looking around me. Feeling the calm settle inside me. Putting my warm clothes on, feeling safe and at home. Because sometimes being outside is like being at home. 

The sound of spinning around

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Have you noticed the fact that many of the most famous songs, are about circles. A song is actually the same: A wheel turning, back to the chorus like a boomerang. Have you heard “spinning around” by Kylie Minogue? “Round round” by Sugababes, “Circles” by christina aguilera? “Circle the drain” by Katy Perry? Or why not roll through the river, sit down on a burning ring of fire, while what goes around, comes around? Or do you just sit there, waiting for the circle full of life?

Life is a cycle. From one period of time, the wheel turns. We are born, grow up and die. Our bodies sink into the earth, where we are transformed to something else. The universe turns around itself, creating new worlds and stars. It expands and creates at the same time as it collides and destroys. We have spiral galaxies, with forces that hold the parts furthest away, in their place. In that way, you can be turned and twisted and still stand safe in one place. You can be in the eye of the storm, and look up at the sun and moon that turns around you, showing you how everything continues even when you feel it has all stopped.

The-Circle-of-Life-is-Neverending
the neverending circle

In our lives, we repeat patterns, afraid of getting stuck or getting into something that hurts. But what we don`t see, is that even if things go around and around, even when it feels like nothing changes, we bring things with us everytime we go around in circles. We find objects that can catapult us forward, that can bend the neverending rollercoster and let us travel in a safe line. We learn to fly, to soar and look down at where we are and where we need to go. We meet people on our way going through the same recycling pattern, but in the other direction, showing us that it is possible to go back and forth. That there is so much we can see around us even when we feel everything is the same.

Every time another cycle begins, there are slight changes. Animals and nature changes through evolution, until something new and stronger is created.

Yin and Yang?:

Dropping a stone in a calm pool of water will simultaneously raise waves and lower troughs between them, and[citation needed]this alternation of high and low points in the water will radiate outward until the movement dissipates and the pool is calm once more. Yin and yang thus are always opposite and equal qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

260px-Yin_yang.svg

Sometimes the natural cycle is completely halted as a mutation or catastrophe in the environment change the direction, that smooth turning of the wheel. When this happens, adaption is necessary. It is a chance to create something new, to put a new vehicle on the wheel, making it go faster and further than before.

These thought keep going around in my mind. Spinning before they stop on the same idea that has been circling in my mind for three years now. What if we started a new cycle? What if we all tried to set a date to do one good thing for another human being and see where the cycle leads us? What if we jump unto the wheel all of us, using the force of many to drive forward?

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