Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Gets in the Way of Change: Forbes Part II

Summary of Bo Forbe's "Yoga for Emotional Balance". Bo is coming to Eyes of the World April 1st.


Forbes describes a “grand canyon -sized gap between knowing what to do and doing it, between mental understanding and the real like experience of change.” So why is this? “The mind-body network constantly patterns and refines our emotional experiences in a particularly powerful way. Whatever we’re aware of it or not, this network uses repetition to strengthen the patterns of anxiety and depression.” p.35


Forbes acknowledges that there is a reason for habits. They help us navigate our lives using as little energy as possible, not having to expend a huge amount of energy every time we come across a new experience. However, these habits are not always positive and many times get in the way of positive change. That said, Forbes describes a capacity for change that must include awareness of the body. Amazingly “we can rewire the mind and the body … which is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the brains extraordinary capacity to transform with experience.” p.37

And “although you might think that intense emotions are not the same as life or death situations and stress, to your nervous system they are.” p. 41. She describes scientifically how the body and mind interact through hormones and neurotransmitters - embedding the memory within the body itself, like setting an alarm code ready to go off the next time the treat is even perceived. We then feel our way through the experiences, and the tension builds on itself from within. And then consider how many years it took to build up that tension, to reinforce those habits. A one-time, fleeting insight during a yoga class isn’t enough to make lasting change.

“Mental insight, no matter how profound or earth shattering turns a light on in the mind but leaves the body in the dark. Change requires new embodied experiences that differ from our customary anxious or depressed ones. Yoga brings us directly into o the body. It grounds our insight into experience. Yet a onetime embodies insight isn’t enough: We need to repeat these embodied experiences of change (a relaxed body, a balanced nervous system) to grow healthier emotional patterns.” p.45

Forbes, a psychotherapist herself, goes even further suggesting that “verbally processing anxiety and depression can actually rehearse and reinforce in the mind and body the very experience we’re trying to change.” p. 45 For true healing to occur, Forbes says one needs repetition (the how), sequencing (the what), time and patience. Indeed, it’s not if you practices yoga but the “how and what” you practice. She describes her book as the “how and the what”. p.56

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