Creating the Present

As we adjust to life under a settle in place order, many of my patients have reported a sense of being in limbo. They’re bored, confused, and unsure how to proceed. Not eactly suffering, but certainly out of sorts. COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it, and there’s no going back. While we cannot predict with any certainty the length of time we’ll be confined to our homes, we can control how we use our time while settled in. In fact, this is a great time to learn a new language or skill. In my blogs alone I’ve recommended enough books and lecture series to keep you busy for weeks. Always been interested in the great pyramids? Take an online class. Want to learn how (fill in the blank) is made? There’s a video or lecture series for that.

Where to begin?

Start with your local library. Many offer ebooks, audiobooks and movies for check out.

Khan Academy offers free courses for children and teens, as well as adults. https://www.khanacademy.org/

Universities throughout the world offer free classes via edX: https://www.edx.org/

Several universities offer free lectures and course content via their own platforms:

Cornell University eCommons@Cornell

Massachusetts Institute of Technology https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

Pepperdine University https://pepperdine.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/

University of Oxford https://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes-u?wssl=1

Others have created YouTube channels:

Carnegie Mellon University https://www.youtube.com/user/carnegiemellonu

Columbia University https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChzhFUxUZFAQSJZ_Tp4B1fA

Duke University https://www.youtube.com/user/Duke

Emory University https://www.youtube.com/user/EmoryUniversity/videos

Harvard University https://www.youtube.com/user/Harvard

Northwestern University https://www.youtube.com/user/NorthwesternU

Seton Hall University https://www.youtube.com/user/setonhall

University of Chicago https://www.youtube.com/user/UChicago

University of Notre Dame https://www.youtube.com/user/NDdotEDU

Vanderbilt University https://www.youtube.com/vanderbilt

Yale University https://www.youtube.com/user/YaleCourses

2020 is already going to be a year to remember. How about, rather than accepting it as the year COVID-19 took you down and stomped on you, you make it the year that you learned French, or developed that hobby, or conquered the Medieval Icelandic Sagas. Life is what you make it.

Live well!

This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.

Managing Pain

Many of my patient report that they have difficulty relaxing and meditating due to pain. How ironic that they cannot practice the very techniques that are designed to assist in pain reduction due to their pain! Both physical and emotional pain are a part of life. How we respond to and manage pain can affect our quality of life, our sense of self, and our roles and relationships with others. The Mayo Clinic, in conjunction with The Great Courses, offers a twelve, thirty minute lecture series that addresses this. In this lecture series, Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D., L.P, an Associate Professor of Psychology and the Clinical Director of the Fibromyalgia Treatment Program and the Chronic Abdominal Pain Program at Mayo Clinic discusses the following topics related to chronic pain:

Why pain matters
What is pain?
Common causes of chronic pain
Medication for chronic pain: why and why not
How exercise helps with chronic pain
Manage your stress to manage your pain
Social support for pain management
How to sleep when you have pain
The vicious cycle of pain and mood
Building a pain management team
Creating a pain management plan
Active sessions: exercise and relaxation

Offered for purchase by The Great Courses, which also sells on Amazon, this lecture series can also be rented from various libraries.

This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.

 

A New View on Suffering

It is often said that life is suffering. Why, then, do some people weather the sea of suffering with composure while others fall victim and sink into it? Again, I like the writings of Thích Nhất Hạnh as they are relevant, relatable and easily understood. In his book, No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering, Thích Nhất Hạnh provides suggestions as to how to frame and relate to suffering so as to not succumb to it. Per the publisher, “The secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not to run away from it. In No Mud, No Lotus, Thích Nhất Hạnh offers practices and inspiration transforming suffering and finding true joy.

Thích Nhất Hạnh acknowledges that because suffering can feel so bad, we try to run away from it or cover it up by consuming. We find something to eat or turn on the television. But unless we’re able to face our suffering, we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us.

Thích Hạnh shares how the practices of stopping, mindful breathing, and deep concentration can generate the energy of mindfulness within our daily lives. With that energy, we can embrace pain and calm it down, instantly bringing a measure of freedom and a clearer mind.

No Mud, No Lotus introduces ways to be in touch with suffering without being overwhelmed by it. “When we know how to suffer,” Nhất Hạnh says, “we suffer much, much less.” With his signature clarity and sense of joy, Thích Nhất Hạnh helps us recognize the wonders inside us and around us that we tend to take for granted and teaches us the art of happiness.”

This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.

Staying Fit as You Age

As a Generation Xer, it is not uncommon for me to wake up with an ache here or a pain there. I’m just glad everything doesn’t ache at the same time! As I look around the studio while doing yoga or pilates, I can’t help but notice that there are few participants my age or older. Although I understand the reluctance to exercise while in pain, I know that I will continue to lose strength, flexibility and balance if I do not. I encourage my patients to continue to exercise to the best of their ability throughout the entire life span.  Now, more than ever, is a great time to reassess your physical condition and begin to consider ways to improve upon your physical health. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, Ph.D. is an educational psychologist and Fitness and Wellness Consultant. She developed a series of eighteen thirty minute videos designed to assist you to do so. In this series she covers the following topics:

Aging with optimism—a holistic approach
Getting and staying motivated
Self-care fundamentals
Fitness fundamentals—choose your activity
Fitness beyond the gym—active daily living
It’s not just physical—mindful fitness
Motivation—goals and willpower
Friends, fitness, and social support
Accepting a new reality
Challenges—illness and chronic pain
Small steps—a path to big benefits
Making it work—the right plan for you
Relaxation strategies
Foundational fitness
Core strength and balance
Workplace fitness
Chair yoga
Qigong—practicing fluid movement

Again, this lecture series can be purchased through The Great Courses, which also sells on Amazon, or rented from various libraries.

This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.

 

Mastering Tai Chi

I have to admit, I’m not that coordinated and take a little extra time to develop a motor skill set. For those of you who also need some extra help mastering tai chi, I recommend Mastering Tai Chi by David-Dorian Ross, B.A., International Master Tai Chi Instructor. Mr. Ross developed this twenty-four thirty minute lecture series in conjunction with The Great Courses. In this series he covers the following:

The path toward mastery
Harmony is the ultimate goal
Walking like a cat
Mind over muscles
Taming the monkey mind
The bow and arrow
Practicing in a small space
Hips and waist: the center is the commander
Feet: separate empty from full
Shoulders: finding reasons to let go
Inside reflects the outside
Chest, posture, and the natural curve
Bring out your flow
Transitions as smooth as silk
Legs to arms: connecting upper and lower
A movable meditation
Bouncing away conflict
The peaceful warrior
Qigong breathing
Partners: the whole body is the hand
Five stages of mastery
Lotus kick and laughing buddha
Conserve your energy
Another river to cross

Again, this lecture series can be purchased through The Great Courses, which also sells on Amazon, or rented from various libraries.

This blog is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent illnesses or trauma, and Dr. Emick is not responsible for your use of this educational material or its consequences. Furthermore, reading this blog does not create a doctor-patient relationship. The information contained within this blog is not intended to dictate what constitutes reasonable, appropriate, or best care for any given physical or behavioral health issue, nor does it take into account the unique circumstances that define the health issues of the reader. If you have questions about the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a condition or illness, you should consult your personal health care professional. As always, consult with your personal health care professional before beginning or changing any fitness or nutrition program to make sure that it is appropriate for your needs. Dr. Emick reserves the right to modify her positions on a subject based upon new research or data as it presents.