Keith Coleman helps residents alleviate mental pressures and challenges at the Ocean City Stress Transformation & Wellness Clinic
Of course, stress is not something new. Hans Selye and Walter Cannon of Harvard Medical School began talking about it back in the 1930s and 1940s, with the theories of “homeostasis” and “general adaptation syndrome,” respectively. But mind/body medicine did not begin to enter the mainstream lexicon until Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson wrote The Relaxation Response in 1975, which led to the Mind/ Body Medical Institute at Harvard Medical School (where I did most of my training).
Benson stated that medicine was basically a three-legged stool, with pharmaceuticals and surgery as the first two legs and mind/body medicine as the third. This spurred the development of two more fields of medicine: psychoneuroimmunology and neurocardiology. Psycho-neuroimmunology is the study of how the mind/cognitions/attitudes affect the brain and autonomic nervous system, and, subsequently, immune-system functioning. The balance between the sympathetic (arousal) and parasympathetic (quiescent/quieting) systems became critical in understanding health. The second area, neurocardiology, recognizes that the heart, through the vagus nerve, sends about 80% more messages to the brain than it receives from the brain. This communication highlights the importance of consistent and coherent Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in transforming stress from negative energy to positive energy. Thus, stress, except in acute and traumatic situations, doesn’t just have to be “managed”; instead, it can literally be transformed, much like an electrical transformer.
The importance of all of this information is that we now know we can be partners with our medical caregivers in our own health. In fact, it is essential. We do not have to be victims of our genetics (epigenetics teaches us that our attitudes also impact how our genes are expressed) or the events that have occurred in our lives. Studies of brain plasticity teach us that not only can we change our own brain chemistry but also the way its wired. The expression “Neurons that
fire together, wire together” is true, and this process occurs throughout the cycle of life.
There are time-tested techniques and programs that can dramatically facilitate this process of wellness through effective stress management, ones that have the potential to actually transform one’s life for the better and that we offer at the Ocean City Stress Transformation & Wellness Clinic. Some of these are:
• Individual Sessions: Private one-hour sessions are available for people who are dealing with particularly difficult situations or who would prefer either not to work in groups or to supplement the group experience.
• Six-Week Stress Transformation Class: A half-dozen 90-minute sessions based on teaching people stress transformation skills, including focused meditation.
• Courses on Specific Topics: “Weight-Loss & Stress” (Cortisol and weight gain), “Lights Out” (transforming insomnia), “Disorders of the Stomach/GI system” (IBS/Crohns disease) “Cardiology” and “Cancer.”
• Brain Kamp: The Kids Awareness and Mindfulness Program (ages 6-12), which addresses ADD, hyperactivity, behavioral issues, etc.
• Neurodynamic Sports Classes: These classes show how to improve sports performance (tennis, golf, baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, etc.) by learning to transform your emotions during competition.
There are other techniques we use at the Ocean City Stress Transformation & Wellness Clinic to resolve the plague that stress represents in American society. Give us a call or schedule a visit to learn what we can do together to improve your health and quality of life.
Editor’s note: Keith Coleman spent 20 years practicing traditional psychotherapy in a variety of mental-health environments before entering the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which enabled him to work with cancer patients and their families. He founded what is now called the Ocean City Stress Transformation & Wellness Clinic in 2010 and currently shares office space with Dr. Bill Greer in West Ocean City. The clinic’s mission is to bring Mind/Body Medicine and stress transformation to the people of the Lower Eastern Shore.
THE OCEAN CITY STRESS TRANSFORMATION & WELLNESS CLINIC
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