Happy 2018! To start 2018 we will look at some social networks of a different kind, social networks of forests. Now, I know some might think this is an unlikely comparison. However, as you will see and read, forests do communicate. They communicate and create social networks much like humans. They nurture their young, they give information to other trees, and share their space. They do things very similar to human communities.
This is important to understand because humans need social networks to thrive, to be healthy, and to be happy! One researcher, Suzanne Simard, always believed trees communicated. Maybe not like humans, but she believed they communicated through their roots with help from fungi.
Heres her story,
"Two decades ago, while researching her doctoral thesis, ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees communicate their needs and send each other nutrients via a network of latticed fungi buried in the soil — in other words, she found, they “talk” to each other. Since then, Simard, now at the University of British Columbia, has pioneered further research into how trees converse, including how these fungal filigrees help trees send warning signals about environmental change, search for kin, and transfer their nutrients to neighboring plants before they die."
Simard used radioactive Carbon 13 & 14 to conduct tests to see if trees communicate through these root systems. What she discovered is truly remarkable. Trees send carbon along with other vital information to other trees to help them grow and prosper. Much like human communities. See the video for full details of her experiments she has conducted.
Suzanne SimardSimard’s work has helped change how scientists define interactions between plants. “A forest is a cooperative system,” she said in an interview with Yale Environment 360. “To me, using the language of ‘communication’ made more sense because we were looking at not just resource transfers, but things like defense signaling and kin recognition signaling. We as human beings can relate to this better. If we can relate to it, then we’re going to care about it more. If we care about it more, then we’re going to do a better job of stewarding our landscapes.” "By using phrases like “forest wisdom” and “mother trees” when she speaks about this elaborate system, which she compares to neural networks in human brains,
I hope you enjoy this video and I hope you continue to build your social bonds like our forests.
I listened to a fantastic podcast the other day. It was about Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, taking me right back to college my freshman year. I listened and was intrigued. Maslow proposed the theory that people go through stages of growth throughout life. These stages motivate individuals to progress through to the next tier so that they reach enlightenment.
"Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "belonging" and "love", "esteem", "self-actualization", and "self-transcendence" to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. The goal of Maslow's Theory is to attain the sixth level of stage: self transcendent needs."
(M.,, Wills, Evelyn. Theoretical basis for nursing)
Maslow didn't feel psychology was for the ill, he felt it was critical for the wellness of the healthy too. Understanding these stages
could assist individuals with finding happiness. and self exploration.
So this got me thinking about firefighters. The base of this pyramid is physiological needs; SLEEP, SHELTER, NUTRITION. These are the physical requirements needed to fulfill the base of the pyramid. With call volumes increasing, many of these can be challenging on a daily basis. Sleep is an unlikely A LOT of the time. Please remember sleep is essential for your body and you mind. We can't survive without it. Nutritional needs, water, warm clothing...All these are challenging this time of the year.
The next is Safety and Security. When we show up to work, we show up to people's worst days. Unfortunately there has been more violence in our society which leaves people, and especially firefighters, concerned for their own safety. This is a problem. Firefighters have to feel confident and secure to do our job with the professionalism and accuracy.
The third is Love and Belonging. After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third level of human needs is interpersonal and involves feelings of belongingness. "According to Maslow, humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless whether these groups are large or small. For example, some large social groups may include clubs, co-workers, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, and gangs. Some examples of small social connections include family members, intimate partners, mentors, colleagues, and confidants. Humans need to love and be loved – both sexually and non-sexually – by others. Many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and clinical depression in the absence of this love or belonging element. This need for belonging may overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure."
(Maslow, A.H. (1943). "A theory of human motivation". Psychological Review. 50 (4): 370–96.)
The fourth is self esteem. ""All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. These activities give the person a sense of contribution or value. Low self-esteem or an inferiority complex may result from imbalances during this level in the hierarchy. People with low self-esteem often need respect from others; they may feel the need to seek fame or glory. However, fame or glory will not help the person to build their self-esteem until they accept who they are internally. Psychological imbalances such as depression can hinder the person from obtaining a higher level of self-esteem or self-respect."
Lastly, Self Actualization.
"This level of need refers to what a person's full potential is and the realization of that potential. Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be. Individuals may perceive or focus on this need very specifically. Maslow believed that to understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them."
Here's the Ted Talk, Listen and enjoy.
Fall is an amazing time of year. My favorite season! The retirement of a garden, the brilliance of the trees, the crunch of leaves, cinamon candles, cooking soul food, football season..etc. What's not to love! There are some things to consider as the days get shorter. For example, our vitamin D absorption goes way down as a result of shortening days and lack of sun light. Did you know Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression? So is Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to muscle cramps, heart arrhythmias, mental health issues and even sudden death. It is something that is rarely tested when a patient goes to the doctor for depression. This patient is then put on an antidepressant!
This month we will discuss some things we can do to combat depression as the days get shorter.
First off, let's talk about endorphins.
"Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. At least 20 types of endorphins have been demonstrated in humans. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system."
Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.
In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. Endorphins have been suggested as modulators of the so-called "runner's high" that athletes achieve with prolonged exercise. While the role of endorphins and other compounds as potential triggers of this euphoric response has been debated extensively by doctors and scientists, it is at least known that the body does produce endorphins in response to prolonged, continuous exercise.
Endorphin release varies among individuals. This means that two people who exercise at the same level or suffer the same degree of pain will not necessarily produce similar levels of endorphins. Certain foods, such as chocolate or chili peppers, can also lead to enhanced secretion of endorphins. In the case of chili peppers, the spicier the pepper, the more endorphins are secreted. The release of endorphins upon ingestion of chocolate likely explains the comforting feelings that many people associate with this food and the craving for chocolate in times of stress.
You can also try various activities to increase your body's endorphin levels. Studies of acupuncture and massage therapy have shown that both of these techniques can stimulate endorphin secretion. Sex is also a potent trigger for endorphin release. Finally, the practice of meditation can increase the amount of endorphins released in your body."
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR
Forest Bathing is not what the literal thought might be. This isn't "skinny dipping". It is in fact a natural immersion that has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve immunity, boost mood, and reduce stress all in the natural elements. Forest Bathing started in Japan in the 1980s. They coined the term Shinrin-yoku — which translates roughly as forest bathing. There is a growing body of evidence that is proving this is a powerful therapeutic tool.
How it works:
A forest bathing trip involves visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees, such as α-Pinene and limonene. Incorporating forest bathing trips into a good lifestyle was first proposed in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan. It has now become a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan.(wikipedia.com)
"It's not a big surprise that researchers were able to document a decrease in blood pressure among forest bathers. As people begin to relax, parasympathetic nerve activity increases — which can lead to a drop in blood pressure. There's another factor that might help explain the decline in blood pressure: Trees release compounds into the forest air that some researchers think could be beneficial for people. Some of the compounds are very distinctive, such as the scent of cedar. Back in 2009, Japanese scientists published a small study that found inhaling these tree-derived compounds — known as phytoncides — reduced concentrations of stress hormones in men and women and enhanced the activity of white-blood cells known as natural killer cells ."www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/17/536676954/forest-bathing-a-retreat-to-nature-can-boost-immunity-and-mood
The aim of forest bathing is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment. To allow your senses to take over and allow your body to recover from stress. We live in a beautiful area. I hope you all get a chance to explore the PNW this summer. Here's to forests, cedar smells and fresh air!
By: Ryan Swobody
“Fight or Flight!”… This is typically what we, as EMS providers, think of when referencing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. We were taught through EMT/Paramedic school about how our body reacts in these two different states. This knowledge is incredibly important when treating a patient in the field and delivering them safely to the emergency department. We can also look at these systems in a more personal way. Having a very basic understanding of how our nervous system works, we can leverage its functions and set ourselves up for a long, healthy career.
Culturally, as well as professionally, we live an incredibly up-regulated lifestyle. As a society, we are chronically busy and stressed. Then, we layer this career on top of that. Long hours, increasing call volumes, reduced resources, emergency environments, lack of sleep and mental/emotional trauma keep us chronically “On.” In this state, we are biasing our sympathetic nervous system. This is the system designed to prepare us to “Fight!” Our heartrate goes up, we start moving faster, our focus becomes narrowed…. We feel amped! This is useful when we are preparing to go to work at a structure fire, cut a victim out of a car or anytime we enter a life-threatening atmosphere. A sympathetic response is quick and easy to access. It happens in an instant and is difficult and time consuming to come back down from. The problem here, is that we are not designed to be in this state for a prolonged or chronic timeframe. This is designed to be an acute response to an acute situation. This is not to say that we shouldn’t train for these situations, we just need to be aware that living in this state is detrimental to our health and leads to a host of physical and mental ailments.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the parasympathetic nervous system. This is our down-regulated, relaxed state. A parasympathetic state is the only time that we can recover, regenerate and restore our bodies systems. This is our body searching for homeostasis. Accessing our parasympathetic system is a much slower process and takes a level of focus to initiate and maintain. Sleep, meditation, proper nutrition, quality relationships, light physical activity and developing a positive mental space are the building blocks of a restorative state.
Due to our inherently up-regulated occupation and lifestyle, we must put more of a focus on restorative practices. In order to achieve homeostatic balance, we need to take an introspective, individualized approach. Consider your unique lifestyle and how you can adopt some restorative practices to access your parasympathetic system. When you get back to the station after a run or back home after shift, put a focus on restorative practices. After you have identified a few things that help to bring you back down and feel more centered, practice maintaining that state and developing some endurance in that down-regulated state. Harnessing this ability will lead to improved mental & physical health, decreased stress, improved decision making, stronger focus, ability to cope and healthier relationships. It is easier to refine and control your actions during times of up-regulated scenarios (sympathetic) by developing a more down-regulated lifestyle.
With the current societal climate and the inherent stresses of our occupation, we are already behind the eight-ball. We are at work nearly 1/3 of our lives. Attempting to maintain a sympathetic state over a duration of 20-30 years is a recipe for disaster. If you do not address this imbalance now, you will have to address your broken systems in the future. Take a proactive approach and put a focus on restoration and down-regulation now to avoid excess stress and medical bills in the future.
The month of July we will be looking at the autonomic nervous system, or Sympathetic/Parasympathetic system. They are crucial to our survival and are fascinating to learn about. This might be the key to healthy longevity. By understanding the balance these two systems play it will allow you to identify certain stress triggers and learn about ways to decompress.
The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old old. Yoga has evolved like people, and more and more cultural groups are using it for psychological and physical improvement! Yoga increases body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms and centers the nervous system. Yoga's positive benefits on mental health have made it an important practice tool of psychotherapy (American Psychological Association ).May 23, 2013
Other physical benefits of yoga include:
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much to learn about this amazing practice.
Enjoy this video from LAFD.
This interview is brought to you by Dan Schwartz.
An excellent read about non traditional approaches to keeping us healthy both in combat, emergency responses and life beyond emergency deployments.
This article discusses, through an interview, some of the research and training that the military is engaged in that is working to make soldiers more efficient combat warriors and better able to re-integrate into a non-combat setting when they get home. The parallels to what we emergency responders deal with are striking. It is a good way to begin looking at what we might consider non-traditional ways of making ourselves more efficient when we “deploy” and feel better after the calls are over.
Taken from BrainlineMilitary. Beyond Chanting “OM”: The Power Behind Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training for Soldiers, by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Brainline.
BrainLine: What is Mindfulness-Basted Mind Fitness Training (MMFT, pronounced “m-fit”)?
Dr. Elizabeth Stanley: MMFT provides skills training in two key areas — mindfulness and stress resilience. In essence, it cultivates mindfulness through specific exercises that train the ability to pay attention and notice what is happening while it is happening, without the mental filters of judgment, elaboration, or emotional reactivity.
BL: How is it different from other kinds of mindfulness like meditation that simply focuses on the breath?
ES: The mindfulness skills taught in MMFT are specific exercises that train attentional control and interoceptive awareness — which is awareness of sensations in the body. Resilience self-regulation skills are developed with exercises to monitor and regulate the physiological and psychological effects of extreme or prolonged stress in the body and mind. These body-based self-regulation skills make MMFT distinct from other mindfulness-based approaches. The MMFT exercise sequence has unique exercises to build interoceptive awareness gradually, to support the re-regulation of the body and mind after prolonged stress or trauma. If someone has experienced a lot of prolonged stress or trauma, too much interoceptive awareness too fast can actually increase symptoms of distress, before someone has developed the capacity to tolerate and regulate those symptoms.
BL: How did you get involved in this work in the first place?
ES: I originally came to mindfulness through my own health issues. As a former US Army captain, I began practicing mindfulness to deal with my own PTSD after two challenging deployments. [She served in Bosnia, Germany, Macedonia, Italy, and Korea as a US Army military intelligence officer.] I first found yoga, then started practicing mindfulness meditation. Eventually I went on a week-long retreat. The first two days were so difficult, but by the third day something truly shifted in me. The next year, I went on a much longer retreat where I had a vision to create a training for people who may have had prolonged exposure to stressful environments. That’s how MMFT came into being.
BL: Before we get to what that vision catalyzed, tell me about nervous system dysregulation that can occur from trauma or ongoing stress to the body and mind.
ES: Well, as I continued my extensive training in mindfulness, I learned about automatic nervous system dysregulation, from which I was suffering.
We all know about the fight-or-flight response that occurs when we perceive that we are under threat, such as in a life-or-death situation. Think about a caveman. Suddenly, there’s a tiger chasing him, wanting to eat him and the caveman has to run away to save his life. He is reacting, with flight, to a mortal threat. But once he is safe in his cave, his central nervous system can calm down and re-regulate. Humans are wired to fight against or flee from a life-threatening situation, a process which mobilizes a lot of energy in the body and mind, but we are also wired to let that stress go after the threat is no longer present. However, we experience this same stress response to threats that may not be life-or-death situations, and often we do not fully down-regulate after the stress response even though we are wired to do so. Sometimes, there is no time in the cave after a blast or fire fight for a soldier’s nervous system to re-regulate. Other times, because of prolonged exposure to stressful environments or situations and the fast pace of multiple stressors, we never fully down-regulate between stressors and our system becomes dysregulated.
There are three versions of automatic nervous system dysregulation. The first one can show up as hyper-arousal — panic attacks, hypervigilance, hyperactivity, insomnia, those types of symptoms. The second type is hypo-arousal with symptoms like depression, disassociation, spaciness, chronic fatigue, and low energy. And the third can involve both types. I was definitely the first type, on overdrive 24/7 … I completed coursework for a PhD and an MBA at once. It was insane.
BL: So once you learned all this and you had your vision to help others who were suffering from PTSD and nervous system dysregulation as you had, what did you do?
ES: Well, I began to think of the relevance of mindfulness to the particular challenges that service members are exposed to. And as an academic who studies what makes militaries effective, I thought that providing mindfulness and resilience training before deployment might help soldiers function more effectively while in combat and help with symptoms from trauma after they returned.
BL: So being an academic, you launched a research study.
ES: Right. In 2007, things started to come together. I found my first research partner, Dr. Amishi Jha, and was approached by several funders. In 2008, with funding from the John Kluge Foundation and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), we put together a pilot study with about 60 Marine Reservists preparing for combat deployment to Iraq. Some Marines would receive the eight-week MMFT program I designed, and some would not. Again, I was especially interested in looking at how this training would impact troops pre-deployment because I knew that building up people’s resilience before facing challenges would help them during and after their experiences, almost like building up your immunity so you are less apt to succumb to the flu.
We were blown away by the results; they were far better than we expected! Earlier research with military stress inoculation training (such as pre-deployment training) had shown that such training is associated with declines in cognitive performance, in terms of attention and working memory capacity (WMC), which is the ability to retain and use task-relevant information while holding distracting information at bay. We hypothesized that MMFT would help to counteract such cognitive degradation, if the Marines practiced the exercises daily. We also expected that Marines who did not receive MMFT, as well as Marines who did not practice consistently outside of class, would likely show this pattern of cognitive degradation seen in earlier research. So, in our study, we had three groups: Marines who received no MMFT training before their deployment; civilians who received no MMFT training but were not preparing to deploy; and Marines who received MMFT.
All of these participants completed a battery of computer tests to measure their attention skills and working memory capacity skills before and after the eight-week MMFT training period. Those Marines who received MMFT also kept logs of how much mind fitness practice they did outside of the MMFT class sessions. Through their logged practice, Dr. Jha’s lab divided the MMFT Marines into a “high-practice group” (who practiced on average 12 minutes of MMFT exercises each day outside of the MMFT class sessions) and a “low-practice group” (who practiced on average about three minutes each day outside of class). The data mostly supported our initial hypotheses. As we expected, the civilian group did not see any cognitive declines, because they were not experiencing any stress inoculation training. Likewise, the Marines who did not receive MMFT and the “low practice group” Marines showed the expected cognitive declines that usually accompany stress inoculation training. In addition, these two Marine groups showed an increase in their perceived stress levels, an increase in negative emotions, a decrease in positive emotions over the course of the pre-deployment training period. In sharp contrast, the “high-practice group” Marines not only preserved their attention skills and working memory capacity but they actually improvedtheir cognitive performance, despite the stress inoculation training. This was a great surprise to us! In addition, the “high-practice group” Marines neither experienced the increase in perceived stress or negative emotions, nor the decrease in positive emotions that the other Marines experienced — even though the pre-deployment training period was objectively quite stressful. It’s important to note that we use working memory capacity both to manage “cold” cognitive tasks like reading and writing, but also to manage “hot” emotional tasks like down-regulating negative emotions and stress activation. Working memory capacity can be depleted in both ways, as well as through fatigue and stress from which we have not recovered. The pilot study showed the “high-practice group” Marines had higher WMC levels to manage the stressors in their lives, giving them a bigger “bank balance” of cognitive and emotional resilience. So, to use a trivial example, if members of all three Marine groups had a high-stress day and had to sit in traffic at the end of it, the “control group” Marines and “low-practice group” Marines would be more likely to overreact at the traffic, while the high-practice group Marines would be more likely to manage their emotions and not let the traffic set them off. A well-regulated nervous system is more able to remain present and oriented to what is happening right now, rather than triggered by past traumatic experiences that can impede effective decision-making.
BL: And there have been other studies that came because of the success of that first pilot study?
ES: Yes, we’ve conducted three other studies — one with the Army in 2010, with soldiers preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, another with the Marines in 2011, preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, and a third embedding MMFT into a course at the USMC School of Infantry. Some of the data from the 2011 Marine study were recently published, documenting changes in blood biomarkers, heart rate and breathing rate during stressful military training, with MMFT Marines demonstrating a more efficient stress response during military training and more efficient recovery from the stress response after the challenge was over. In addition, brain imaging showed changes in the firing of brain regions related to self-regulation, emotion regulation, and impulse control — after eight weeks of MMFT, compared to Marines who did not receive MMFT. The brains of the Marines who did MMFT were firing in a manner that matches the brain activation patterns of “elite performers” — such as elite athletes and special forces military troops.
BL: So, describe the kinds of exercises you use to teach MMFT.
ES: There’s no technology, no scans, just using the mind and body together. We use a series of exercises that 1.) develop the ability to deploy and sustain attention in the present moment, and 2.) develop the ability to tolerate whatever is occurring in the body and mind without needing for it to be different. With practice, these two skills come together and the body recalibrates naturally. Awareness in the body is like an alchemical agent; it allows the body and mind to re-regulate at its own pace. MMFT supports this re-regulation process to happen from the bottom up. But at first, of course, it’s hard because we don’t like to sit with our physical sensations, intense emotions, or racing thoughts. So many of us push them away with drugs or medication or television or whatever and return to the past or the future instead of staying in the present.
We might use the analogy of a roller coaster. The rollercoaster is designed to go up and from there, naturally come down. Being at the top, in between up and down — like sitting with painful thoughts or nightmares or intense physical pain — is difficult. But if we don’t get to the top, and allow things to shift on their own with awareness, we can’t get back down. With MMFT, we help get the body and mind re-calibrated so that self-regulation becomes the default mode once more. And, of course, the re-regulation process will happen at different rates depending on each individual and his or her experiences.
BL: Can you describe a soldier before and after MMFT?
ES: Well, I’ll use a composite soldier to describe the process. So, let’s say Steve the Soldier’s early life experiences were hard because we know that a high percentage of young people entering the military come from backgrounds that may have included abuse, gang violence, a lost parent, parents who had their own issues, that type of thing. So, Steve already comes into the military with some dysregulation present in his system, because he may not have fully wired in the capacity for self-regulation. The parts of the nervous system and brain that support self-regulation are actually wired after we are born, and that wiring happens through our relationships with our early care providers. If our early care providers are suffering from dysregulation from prolonged stress and trauma themselves, it hampers that wiring process. In addition, Steve may have never fully recovered from earlier life experiences that were stressful or traumatic for his system.
After his first deployment, let’s say, he’s tired. He’s feeling less gung-ho, he’s experiencing less meaning and connection in his life. He hangs out with his friends and family a little less, and he is somewhat jumpy and hypervigiliant.
After his second deployment, he can’t really sleep and to function at work, he starts drinking tons of coffee. He loses his temper more. He is more disconnected from his spouse. He needs 3-4 drinks to settle down and get to sleep at night, but then he wakes up in the night with insomnia and nightmares. On the weekends, he disconnects entirely from his family and friends. Maybe he buys a motorcycle because he misses the adrenaline rush of combat and riding is the only way he feels alive.
After his third deployment, his marriage is over. He’s angry and violent sometimes. Maybe his wife gets a restraining order against him. He is taking a huge mix of meds for his PTSD, insomnia, anxiety, and maybe he has a TBI, and chronic back pain from a motorcycle crash. He’s still incredibly resilient because he is disciplined from his military training, but he is having a difficult time holding it together at work or in social situations, which he avoids. The push-pull of everything is making his life excruciating.
He gets to MMFT. Initially, he thinks it all sounds ridiculous and believes it won’t help. How will noticing where his mind has wandered and bringing it back to the target object of attention in the exercise help? How could this make any difference? But after he starts learning about the flight-or-flight response and how prolonged exposure to a stressful environment without adequate recovery can affect the automatic nervous system, a light bulb goes off. Steve hears about some of the symptoms he’s experiencing and thinks, this is me!
He begins to take the training seriously and does the exercises. Slowly, he sees changes in his body and mind as he moves towards re-regulation, and he can start making choices that stop masking the symptoms and feeding the vicious cycle of dysregulation. He feels himself rising to the surface of his life again.
BL: What have you learned from men and women like Steve?
ES: I see people transform. I see them forgive themselves. I see people who have been exposed to long-term trauma or prolonged stress finally understand that there was nothing weak about them or wrong with them, but that they were coping as best they could, without any help. I have learned what some people have gone through and I am in awe at how resilient they have been in the face of it all. I am incredibly grateful to be doing this work.
BL: Where do you see this work going?
ES: We are working with more military folks, also with other professions of arms like law enforcement and first-response organizations. But anyone can benefit from these skills to optimize their biological wiring for today’s high-stress world (and we offer MMFT to individuals in an intensive weeklong format, too). In the same way the research and understanding of neuroplasticity took off in the last two decades, I believe that the ability to rewire our brains and nervous systems through mindfulness-based training will become better understood so that we can help more people who are suffering unnecessarily from exposure to prolonged stress and trauma.
As we teach in MMFT, there are two foundational qualities which are the cornerstones of warrior traditions through the millennia. These are wisdom and bravery. Wisdom is the ability to see clearly how things are right now, not how we want them to be or expect them to be, but how they actually are. And bravery is the ability to stay present with any experience, no matter how intense, without needing it to be different. MMFT cultivates these two qualities in a very concrete way. Tapping into these qualities, people have the capacity to reclaim their true selves
This article I found interesting and uplifting. In short, don't be afraid to fail. Embrace all outcomes and know that we are all HUMAN. We will make mistakes, own them and move on. ENJOY!
Beyond the Gear is a informational place where firefighters and their families can read and take steps at living a healthier life. Healthy body starts with a healthy mind. I hope you enjoy.