Therapists tell us that we are more than our physical bodies. We are emotional. We are physiological. And many agree that we are spiritual too. When something traumatic happens to us physically, (like leaking at the most unfortunate moment) it affects the whole being. It can cause women to stop themselves from going places or doing things they once enjoyed. Has that ever happened to you?
There are ways to tap into the mind-body connection to restore a sense of calm. Guided imagery is one method that can be used to help retrain the busy chattering mind of a woman who is feeling embarrassment to help her to not feel upset, stressed or embarrassed. “When we’re feeling stressed it’s telling the body that we should be in a state of fight or flight, also called in medicine the stress response,” said Gail Evo. Gail is a Guided Imagery specialist, Reiki practitioner and the Corporate Director of Integrative Medicine at Beaumont Hospitals in Michigan. She filled me on her holistic approach to helping women. It starts with understanding how the mind works with the body. You’ve probably heard remarkable stories of women in an accident who have torn car doors off to get a baby out of the back seat. This is a state of fight or flight. “The reason this happens is almost everything in that woman’s body shut down except for hormones needed for this feat or action like adrenaline or norepinephrine ,” said Gail, “The problem is that the body can’t look up to the mind and say, ‘Hey mind, are you needing me to do something amazing or are you just extremely stressed out?’”
Instead we get what Gail calls the “monkey-mind chattering around in our heads.” When that irritating monkey is chattering, it tells the body that we should be in a stress response. When you learn to calm the monkey-mind, your body can relax. “That’s when you can digest your food, sleep, and more importantly that’s when all healing takes place in your body,” Gail said, “So everything we do in integrative medicine first and foremost is to elicit the relaxation response in a woman’s body. Giving a woman Reiki, massage, or acupuncture can help with that.”
You can also teach yourself how to quiet the monkey-mind and tap into a calm state by using practices like meditation, guided imagery or yoga. Gail knows this from personal experience. Not only does she play an active role in the Woman’s Urology Center, but she’s also a patient. “I’m in my mid 50’s, menopausal, and I’ve been waking up many times at night to go to the bathroom,” Gail said. “Oh my gosh Gail, how do handle staying awake so much?” I had to ask. “I feel fortunate that I have practiced mediation and relaxation exercises enough that I’m not allowing my mind to be active,” said Gail, “When my bladder is telling me I need to get up to go to the bathroom, I get up, but I do not think of all the work I have to do, or the calls I have to make. So, when I lay back down, I easily go back into a sleeping state,” Gail said.
She was quick to add, “It takes practice. And obviously, in addition to my relaxation techniques I am getting excellent medical care for this problem.” When women discover some of the holistic methods available to them, many say that they actually have fun with it. Things that they hadn’t thought about like Reiki, or Qigong, end up enriching their lives. It’s important to know that what’s right for someone else isn’t necessarily what’s right for you. You may love yoga or hate it. You may find tai chi profoundly relaxing or boring. Try a variety of methods until you find one that resonates with you.
What about you? How do you quiet your mind and calm your nerves to better manage LBL?