At Connexus, we support and treat the entire person in order to create the most sustainable change possible. We believe that, as humans, our experience is created and manipulated through the extraordinarily complex interactions between thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and physical sensations. While there are several healing modalities available, each highly specialized to diagnose, treat, and intervene (e.g. biomedicine, talk therapy and its many types, acupuncture, meditation, religious practices, etc.), each of these can only provide answers and solutions from their respective fields of study and expertise. Our core approach to counseling is to develop awareness of how the multitude of ways we experience ourselves are inter-related and cannot be treated solely in their segregated parts. It is only through the body that thoughts, feelings, memories, physical sensations, spirituality, intuition, insight, social behavior, and choices all continually intersecting and connect with one another, much like a giant spider web. When an emotional strand is stretched in one part of the web, it impacts multiple strands elsewhere, regardless of whether we acknowledge the link at all. When we learn to track and work with our own experiences in a more holistic and systemic way, we develop a deep and empowered capacity to enact the changes you want for your life.
Our culture predominantly promotes a “mind over body” approach to negative feeling states. When we feel stressed, insecure, afraid, stuck, avoidant, or guilty, for example, we have learned to believe something must be wrong and it must be fixed. We then jump all too quickly to assign the cause for our negative feelings and, without pause, attempt to remove that source of our bad feelings. If the cause we identified is within our power to remove, change, or resolve, we put the solution in place and immediately feel better.
The problem with this strategy for making ourselves feel better is that it uses a “trained” portion of the brain, designed only to recycle assessments and choices based on what it has known. This part of the mind, in other words, is only as good as it has been successful in the past. It is totally incapable of understanding or strategizing in ways it hasn’t experienced. In fact, this part of the brain, when left in charge, actively resists change and unfamiliar experiences. New perspectives, beliefs, habits, or routines are inherently stressful because there is no pre-made neural pathway available to process the change.
The greatest challenge occurs when the nervous system and brain must process emotions or physical sensations the mind has never successfully mastered. With the “mind over body” strategy, the body feels like it is a broken fire hydrant, gushing with uncontrollable feelings and physical sensations that fill the body far more quickly than they can be successfully released. The mind, like a small funnel, attempts to drain the dangerously rising waters by forcing all the water through a tiny channel of old beliefs, perspectives, and solutions. The more the mind demands that it has to be charge, the more rapidly it is limited to old approaches for managing unconsious feelings and sensations. Because it believes the flood of feelings and sensations are a real threat to the entire system, it does not have any choice but to apply old meanings, reactions, and attempts at solutions to any new problem that comes along.
Any unconscious sensation or emotion that doesn’t make sense or can’t be tolerated is “forced” onto an old template for handling similar situations, and immediately the old strategy for coping with the identified problem is enacted. It does not matter if the solution really works, or if the identified problem is truly the real problem (or even a problem at all!), the mind-over-body ultimate goal is to come up with something it can do. Not being able to come up with something to do is far less tolerable then having something to do. Unfortunately, this strategy only works to keep us trapped using meanings and reflexes learned a long time ago, and doubles down as it locks us in to defining the problem merely so that it will know what to do. Mind-over-body, though highly successful when in crisis, becomes a liability if we feel we have no choice but to use it again and again. It works to temporarily relieve the most severe of our stressful and overwhelming feelings; yet when the next surge in the body hits, we are doomed to repeat the same temporary strategy all over again. Just like cleaning up a flood with a funnel, we are doomed to constant effort that essentially never changes much at all.
We cannot merely find new fixes, therefore, and not also explore whether we are defining the correct problem in the first place. If we cannot step back and learn new ways of diagnosing the causes of our negative feeling states, we will be trapped in continually defining the wrong problem. At Connexus, our core approach to counseling is that your body is built to heal, repair, and grow itself, and that it is has at its disposal all that it needs to do to this end. It is the socially “trained” mind that is what gets in the way.
Our counseling approach helps you discover and use a “body before mind” strategy that allows you to unlearn and relearn much about yourself and your experience. When you understand and begin working with the interconnectedness of body sensations, thoughts, feelings and intuition, you will unlock your potential, liberate yourself from old, stuck ways of defining problems, and create solutions in new and highly effective ways.
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