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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Improving Gut Health Using the Somatic Reflection Process to Influence Both Physical and Mental Health

You  have most likely read the latest news of the study at UCLA linking good gut health, including eating yogurt with probiotics daily, to affect brain functioning and to have positive effects upon mental health (study was with women). For some time, scientist have understood how the head brain effects the gut in development. As early as the 1830’s, William Beaumont, an army surgeon who is known now as the “Father of Gastric Physiology", found an association between changing moods and gastric secretions. The classical view of top-down control with the head brain’s ability to control gut function has been supported by evidence revealing that the brain influences body systems, like the gastro intestinal tract, particularly when the person is under stress. Now there is new evidence to show also a bottom-up control with the gut, the microbiota in the gastro-intestinal tract, can influence head brain functioning and is linked to behavior, depression, stress, and stress-related diseases. Neuroscientists are now evaluating the role of gut microbiota modulation on emotional processing in the brain and its functioning. This “good” bacteria, the “good” flora in your gut, may be instrumental in how your brain develops, you behave, and react to stress.

We propose that there is much more you can do in addition to building up the good flora in your body to assure good gut health that effects positive mental health. Based on our clinical studies and research findings,  we propose that the more a person uses the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings and unites body-mind, the happier their gut is, the more positive signals will flow from gut to head brain, and the person’s mental health will be vastly improved, as well as a stress reduction that has positive effects upon the physical body and the elimination of dis-ease. It seems sensible that if we have a gut knot, a feeling of tenseness in our gut, we are cutting off the flow of vitality from our gut that we depend upon for health and well-being.

A wise doctor once said that "if your eyes can not cry, then your gut will". He was describing the reason your gut might be in pain physically in relation to emotional pain of which your head is in denial. Your head and even your heart may be in denial, but your gut can't be. That you can count on! Seems that we all have had the experience of laughing or crying until our gut feels it. But if our thinking brain and our heart are in denial of our feelings and needs as human beings, our gut will cry or signal us (ie, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach pains, dis-ease, etc) like a red flag to be aware of ourselves and our instinctual human needs of freedom and acceptance until our thinking brain gets the communication. We have found that the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings is vital for improving the emotional immune system and mental health, as well as developing gut feeling awareness to follow in healthy decision-making. We recommend it's use daily along with any probiotic diet plan to work hand-in-hand. Make your gut happy with both good bacteria and gut feeling awareness to send the maximum signals of happiness to the thinking brain.

"If your eyes can not cry, then your gut will."

In our book What’s Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct we have included a protocol for the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings and a number of verbatim counseling sessions using it. We hope you will make daily use of the protocol included in the book and ask yourself the questions outlined to help you get in touch with your own gut feelings and feel back in time to reassess your stored feeling memories into positive influences upon your mental health. We do hope UCLA and other research centers studying the head-gut connection and the affect of the gut on childhood development and on both mental and physical health, will look at the psychological needs that our gut feelings monitor and gauge for us through our gut feelings, and then will collaborate a combination of medical and psychological approaches to gut health.

We have submitted a complete protocol in our book for the purposes of individual use as well as further research on gut health. As you use it, you will see that we started from the gut in our exploration of intelligence rather than from the head,  a bottom-up approach to counseling and healing, and found the gut feeling memory to hold the record of the impact of life upon the person. We found that the awareness of this impact through gut or somatic reflection is the key to positive development and both physical and mental health and well-being. In fact, we have theorized that just as the body repairs cells during deep sleep, the Somatic Reflection Process centering on gut feelings has the same cell repair possibility as REM sleep or at the least enhances this process to occur. Our research (evaluated in out book) at SSU found that participants, with whom we used the Somatic Reflection Process, reported sleeping better after the process, felt less stress that reduced the gut knot feeling, and experienced a renewed clarity of thought, hope, decision-making, and somatic awareness.

Here is a short excerpt from chapter eleven of our book What’s Behind Your Belly Button? on the importance of using the Somatic Reflection Process on gut feelings as a medical intervention to effect both positive physical and mental health with an integrative approach:

The Somatic Reflection Process as a Medical Intervention

“Twentieth century medicine led with the philosophical idea of the organ system model of dis-ease and diagnosis; and this lead to increasing specialization and breakthroughs in imaging processes, as well as complex biochemical pathway advances. However, by the end of the 20th century, systems oriented life science emerged in the forethought of modern medical thought. And with this new growing orientation toward the non-linear in both physics and medicine, physicians using an integrative, functional medicine paradigm are now struggling in science to embrace the uncertainly that goes with it. Both the doctor-patient relationship and communication is changing to utilize heuristics of a healing partnership when time and information on dis-ease are limited and when the outcome of treatment is uncertain.”

“The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)5 describes the basic principles of their integrative model as using a patient-centered rather than dis-ease-centered approach to treatment with an interest in the web-like interconnections of internal physiological factors and the identity of health as a positive vitality. This approach views the human organism as a whole with countless points of access to affect the organism and, thus, makes intervention at any one point as possibly having a beneficial influence over the entire system. For instance, increasing the T cell lymphocyte levels has been found to beneficially influence the immune system, as we previously discussed, and stress reduction can reduce the cortisol levels, reducing the risk of cancer cell growth. With this 21st Century model of medicine and healing, we have the opportunity to move toward an integrative approach that views the imbalance of the mind-body integration as one of the pathways of disease.”

“Besides bringing psychotherapists and other somatic practitioners on board with the medical team to apply integrative mind-body therapies, physicians embracing the integrative approach are employing some of the mind-body techniques in the doctor-patient communication and as a diagnostic tool. Successful results are being reported by physicians, particularly in finding the trigger or circumstance at the beginning point of the illness. The Institute for Functional Medicine relates a success story with a patient who had a gastrointestinal disorder. This story serves as an example of their use of a mind-body reflection technique that asks the patient to center on the feeling in her gut to find the time she did not have her “gut problem’ as the patient called it and what circumstances she experienced during the first appearance of the problem. The IFM reports that the patient was able to find the experience in her past when she first started having pain in her gut region, and it began when she lied to her mother who asked her if she had been sexually abused by her father, saying that she had not. Because this was the first time that she realized the emotional origin of her dis-ease, it was considered by her medical team as an “aha” moment and insight for her that was an initial experience of healing her GI by bringing the split between her body and mind in balance.”

“This clinical experience is comparable to the experiences that we have had with clients using the Somatic Reflection Process to bring awareness and resolution to a current unresolved issue that was causing the patient confusion, stress, lack of energy, and sometimes medical physical symptoms. One such client sticks out in our minds. A middle aged man we were both counseling in a Behavioral Science Class (BE 100), a mandatory group encounter college orientation class in the 70’s at Santa FE Community College, was complaining of low energy due to his lack of sleep. The feeling that he got in touch with around the issue was fear and he said it related to a reoccurring nightmare that was keeping him from sleeping night after night and had for some time, although it had gotten more intense since he returned to college as an adult student.”

“When asked to tell the dream, he began to express that he was afraid and there was a large lady in the dream that was coming toward him. After having him get in touch with how he felt as he looked at the large lady in the dream, we had him trace the feeling of fear he expressed back to an early time when he felt that way before. He was surprised to find that he found a direct link in his feelings to coming home on the ship while he was serving in the Armed Forces in World War 2 and seeing the Statue of Liberty. He had an ‘aha’ moment as he felt the link of the fear in the dream to returning home and to our knowledge, he did not have the nightmare again. After further sessions of the Somatic Reflection Process, the body-mind connection he made opened a door of further somatic reflection in which he was able to understand the difficulties he was having dealing with the loss of the war heroes he served with and in integrating back into society as a vet with this personal loss. Many of the same issues he faced returning home after war were similar to what he was now experiencing returning to school as an adult college student. He was able to deal with these issues with far less fear and far more effectively having sorted the past from the present impact of his experiences. His vitality also returned and we often wondered if this therapy evaded further medical problems for him had this stress been allowed to continue and sleep deprivation continued.”

“We bring these two stories to the reader’s attention in order to demonstrate how doctors who use an integrative model in the diagnostic and healing process can successfully employ the Somatic Reflection Process. “

If you have found the above excerpt meaningful and would like to order our book, please see:

What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct by Martha Char Love and Robert W. Sterling available though Amazon on both the Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

Also you may want to read some of our other posts on gut health:

1. What are the Instinctual Needs That are Often Confused for the Need of Food in Gut Feelings of Emptiness and Fullness?
MARCH 27, 2013

2. Why Is Reflecting Upon Our Gut Feelings So Important to Our Immune System and Well Being— Distinguishing the "You" and "Not Truly You" for Excellent Mental and Physical Health!

or go here to view a list of all our older post on gut intelligence and read more excerpts from our book to learn more about the Somatic Reflection Process technique:

Click on one of our book covers below to go to Amazon:

"Increasing Intuitional Intelligence" is available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK
as well as Amazon,de and  other international Amazon sites

"What's Behind Your Belly Button?" is also available on Amazon USA and Amazon UK

as well as Amazon,de and and Amazon.CA and other international Amazon sites

and it is on The Book Depository with free international shipping.

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