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Mindfulness and the Mind’s Cycle of Stress

The Downward Spiral

Mindfulness is not a linear process. It’s not about getting anywhere or achieving a particular outcome. It’s a process, which some describe as a spiral. 

On autopilot, we tend to spiral downward into a self-perpetuating cycle of reactivity that goes something like this:

We encounter some event or stimulus, and it has a feeling tone: it’s either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral

If it’s neutral, the tendency is to dismiss or ignore it, but if it’s a strong feeling tone, it hijacks our attention and the mind fixates on it – giving rise to thoughts and emotions about it.

If it’s pleasant, the tendency is to try to hang on to it, while if it’s unpleasant, we tend to push it away or try to make it stop.

If we react un-skillfully, we may get temporary relief, but in the long term we develop maladaptive coping strategies and our resilience to discomfort dwindles. 

This self-perpetuating cycle can lead to chronic stress, depression and anxiety.

The Upwards Spiral

However, with Mindfulness, this downward spiral pattern can be disrupted. 

When we’re not in autopilot we can begin to spiral upward instead:

We encounter some event or stimulus and we are more awake, open and receptive to the internal and external experience of it.

As a result, we are more aware of strong feeling tones as they arise. With increased awareness, we are able to bring in attitudes of mindfulness (like a beginner’s mind, patience, kindness, etc.) which help prevent us from being hi-jacked.

There is room for choice as to where and how to place our attention and we understand that we are not our experiences.

This understanding creates space to observe experience objectively and to make choices about how to respond with more intention and skillfulness. 

Facebook Live Event

Tune in to our Facebook Page on Monday, Sept 14th at 7pm MT

Join Dr. Alda Ngo, Registered Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturist and Mindfulness Instructor to explore how to stop the downward spiral of the mind’s self-perpetuating cycle of stress.

photo: Angela Glajcar

Mindfulness for Fertility: Fall Online Program

Mindfulness has many proven benefits for those struggling with fertility issues.

It has been shown to reduce the emotional burden of fertility treatments, increase resilience and wellness while decreasing anxiety and depression.

The MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) Program is the most well established and scientifically tested mindfulness program.

Join Dr Alda Ngo and Stephanie Curran for this 8 week Online MBSR for Fertility Program.

They have over 35 years combined clinical experience supporting fertility patients and they have both had their own experiences struggling to grow their own families.

When:

Mandatory Orientation: Mon, Sept 28 (6-730PM PT | 7-830 MT)
Weekly classes: Mondays, Oct 5 – Nov 23 (6-830PM PT | 7-930 MT)
Day of Mindfulness Retreat: Sun, Nov 8 (9AM-3PM PT | 10AM-4PM MT)

Cost:

By Donation
(during these uncertain times and with many experiencing significant financial strain)

To register: www.mindfulnessforfertility.com

Prenatal YogacuPressure

When

Sundays
11:00am – 12:00pm

May 3 – June 7

Who

Instructor: Sarah Kent
BA. Psychology
Certified Yoga Teacher

Why

Studies show that yoga postures and acupuncture points help to decrease pregnancy pain and benefit pregnancy, labour and birth outcomes.

Join us for this special on-line 6 week series of Yoga and Acupressure to support mom’s changing body throughout pregnancy and to help prepare the body for labor.

This practice will focus on:

  • strengthening and energizing
  • relief of pregnancy pain
  • increasing flexibility
  • breathing & relaxation techniques
  • creating a calm environment for you & your growing baby

This class welcomes all stages of pregnancy and all levels of yogis, including beginners.

Registration

6 Classes: $120
drop-in: $25

Register on-line
A secure link will be sent to you upon registration.

Canadian Infertility Awareness Week | Free Events

April 19-25
2020 theme | We See You

We know that many of your fertility treatments have been put on hold.

We want to help you transform it into an opportunity to continue to optimize your overall health and fertility.

Throughout the week, we will offer free resources on our Social Media to support you through this uncertain time.

You can keep nourishing the soil before planting that seed.

You and your body will be ready when your treatments can resume.  

FREE Facebook Live Events Schedule


Monday, April 20th
7pm
MINDFULNESS | NOURISHING LIFE
w/ Dr. Ald
a
Registered Doctor of TCM | Acupuncturist | Mindfulness Instructor
Mindfulness decreases stress, calms the mind & helps you recover a sense of peace. All of which supports hormone balance and nourishes life.

Tuesday, April 21st
7pm

DETOX YOUR HOME & YOUR BODY 
w/ Christina

Registered Acupuncturist | FABORM | Fertility Specialist
Learn simple ways to detox your home & body from harsh chemicals and hormone disruptors.

Wednesday, April 22nd
7pm

YOGA-PRESSURE FOR HORMONE BALANCE
w/ Mykayla

Registered Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
Balancing postures & acupressure points to support hormone balance.

Thursday, April 23rd
7pm

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SUPERFOODS 
w/ Alicia
Holistic Nutritional Consultant
A simple superfood approach to reducing inflammation in the body to support hormone balance. 

Friday, April 24th
7pm

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: CONNECTING WITH YOUR PARTNER 
w/ Sandra MacLean
Registered Clinical Counsellor | Masters in Counselling Psychology | Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist
Join Dr. Alda & Clinical Counsellor, Sandra in their conversation about how to connect with your partner under the extra pressures of home quarantine.
 

Click the links below to watch Live Events on Facebook or the Replays:

Facebook
Instagram
YouTube

 

Together While Socially Distancing: Free E-Health Events

We are aware that it’s extra important for our WELLBEING as humans to remain socially CONNECTED as we are physically distanced.

Especially as we are collectively experiencing the stress and anxiety of this extraordinary time.

We really are in this
TOGETHER.

Please join us for the following  

FREE
Facebook Live Events:


March 23rd & 30th
7pm

YOGA-PRESSURE
FOR ALL THE PEOPLE 

Calming postures & acupressure points
for everyone. 

w/ Mykayla
Registered Acupuncturist & Yoga Teacher 



March 24th
7pm

YOGA-PRESSURE
FOR FERTILITY

Balancing postures & acupressure points
to support fertility.

w/ Mykayla
Registered Acupuncturist & Yoga Teacher



March 25th & April 1st
7pm

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION 
FOR ALL THE PEOPLE 

Breathing & bringing presence & resilience into these times.  

w/ Dr. Alda
Registered Doctor of TCM, Acupuncturist & Mindfulness Instructor 



March 31st
7pm

SUPPORTING FERTILITY 
What you can do during home isolation to keep supporting your fertility.  

w/ Christina
Registered Acupuncturist & Fertility Specialist 


April 2nd
7pm

IMMUNE BOOSTING FOODS  
Learn what foods help to boost your immune system. Alicia will share an easy recipe that you can prepare at home.  

w/ Alicia
Holistic Nutritional Consultant


Click on the Link Below to Access These Events
Facebook

Movember Massage

Why relax guys?? 

Seriously! What is all this hype about anyway? I’m relaxed….right? 

It actually hasn’t been too long that massage therapy has begun to be recognized as more than just a spa treatment for women, and don’t get me wrong I love a good spa day, but what you may not know is how much massage therapy can benefit all bodies and genders, including you guys! Here are some reasons why more men are seeking therapeutic massage:

Sports Massage

Active and do sports? Massage therapy can target your specific muscle groups to increase flexibility, decrease post workout pain, and aid in rehabilitation for injuries that keep nagging. We can even show you exercises and stretches that will help pre and post workouts or games to maximize your muscles’ capacity and recovery.

Desk job?

Guess what! Massage can help with tensions and strains you have at work. Chronic shoulder and neck tension, headaches, carpal tunnel, sciatica, and chronic tendonitis are just a few of the conditions that many suffer from working a desk job. Massage can ease and sometimes even eliminate these conditions. Saint Mary’s University research on massage therapy indicates that desk work strain can be reduced by 33% and blood pressure by 7% in just 4 weekly treatments.

Relaxation is key

With increased education around healthy living, many men are becoming more health conscious, attending to both physical and mental health.  Massage is the perfect blend of both. Let’s face it, stress is the worst! It disturbs sleep, wreaks havoc on relationships, raises blood pressure to unhealthy levels, depresses our immune systems, and diminishes productivity which in turn decreases our sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.  

Try it out! Book with us today. You tell us what you experience. 

Yoga for Fertility

Does Yoga Help Fertility?

Lately I have been coming across many people that are interested in the benefits that yoga may have for them on their fertility journey. From the direct experience of my personal yoga practice, I have noticed positive changes in my own stress levels and emotional well being. So, what are the benefits that a fertility focused yoga practice has you ask? Here are some interesting facts:

A 2015 study looked at the effect yoga had on anxiety and women going through fertility treatments. The researchers found that after taking a 6 week yoga program, anxiety scores of participants were significantly lower in the yoga group than in the control group.

This 2018 study found the full scope of yoga postures, breathing techniques, and meditation to be beneficial in stress management as couples went through assisted reproductive techniques. The same study found yoga was helpful to reduce pain and decrease anxiety and stress in couples going through IVF.

Yoga taps into the parasympathetic nervous system and our “rest and digest” functions. Throughout the yoga practice, the body is able to relax and this allows for a shift in the nervous system that increases circulation throughout the body which is so beneficial in all aspects of health.

Fertility focused yoga emphasizes a slower and more restorative practice that provides the space for the body and mind to connect on a more subtle level. It’s a beautiful combination of body, breath, and mind that will leave you with a deep sense of comfort!

I would love to see you on the mat!

Register now!
For our upcoming 6-week YogaPuncture for Fertility series
Thursdays, Sept 19 – Oct 24
6:15 – 7:15pm
$150

Help for IVF Anxiety

In my own clinical practice, as well as in my own life, I have had the honour to witness acupuncture’s positive effects on anxiety. Nothing beats the feeling of melting into a treatment table and allowing your body to relax under the effects of the needles. All of the whirling thoughts tend to slow down as you feel listened to, cared for and supported. 

Anyone who has been in the vicinity of the life creating processes of IVF know that emotional support can be of huge benefit to the couple undergoing the procedure. For centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine physicians have observed and recorded how excessive emotions and overthinking can contribute to the progression towards imbalance. What could cause more deeply felt emotions and excessive rumination than the suspense associated with expanding your family through IVF? 

Indeed, previous studies have indicated that 25 percent of women are at risk of clinical distress following an IVF cycle. However, a clinical trial involving over 800 women, aged 18 – 42 and across 16 different IVF clinics, studied how anxiety associated with IVF responds to acupuncture treatment. The study, spanning from 2011 to 2015, showed that acupuncture during an IVF cycle significantly reduced the feeling of anxiety on the day of embryo transfer. (1)

Acupuncturists have a variety of treatment protocols that can help to calm the mind, balance the nervous system and relax the body. Spending time on the treatment table can cultivate your sense of calm and thus help to improve the ease and success of your cycle.

If you are experiencing anxiety associated with your IVF cycle, we can help you. At Whole Family Health, we combine the time tested truths of ancient medicine with cutting edge modern medical knowledge.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners please give us a call to book in for a free Q & A

Reference: 

1. Smith, Caroline A., et al. “The Effects of Acupuncture on the Secondary Outcomes of Anxiety and Quality of Life for Women Undergoing IVF: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, vol. 98, no. 4, 2019, pp. 460–469., doi:10.1111/ aogs.13528. 

My Favorite Resource For Pregnant Mothers To Be

By Christina Pistotnik

The time between that positive pregnancy test and holding your newborn in your hands can be filled with a mixture of emotions. On one hand you are so excited that you are going to be a mother but on the other hand you can’t help but feel anxious because it is hard to know what you can and cannot do. Some of you invested time, energy, and financial contributions in order to get to this place, and of course you want to do everything you can to safely maintain this pregnancy.

One of my favorite resources that I refer to and suggest to newly expectant mothers is called Motherisk. It is a Canadian site and program facilitated by the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children and they provide evidence-based information about what is and is not safe during pregnancy. I really enjoy it because it is easy to use and contains a vast array of information all on one site. Plus they have a toll free number (1-877-439-2744 ) that you can call and speak directly to a nurse that will help you out with any concerns you may have.

Having reliable resources and specialists to support you during pregnancy is important because it can help ease uncertainty surrounding an important time in your life.

What about acupuncture, is it safe during pregnancy?

Since the majority of my patients start seeing me while in the process of trying to conceive, I get this question quite a lot in my practice and the answer is; Yes, acupuncture is a safe and effective form of treatment in pregnancy. This is because it utilizes the body’s own healing process to help maintain pregnancy by keeping the uterus calm and stabilizing progesterone which keeps the lining secure until the placenta takes over. Plus it helps to minimize uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms which include; nausea and vomiting, aches/ pains, insomnia, and energy issues.
Plus, an added bonus when receiving acupuncture treatments is that it has a very calming affect on the body. Therefor, it can help with stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing during this time.

As an acupuncturist specializing in fertility and pregnancy, I am happy to safely treat you for any of your pregnancy concerns. Call Whole Family Health to book your appointment or learn more about our Fertility Services today!

Moving Forward From Pregnancy Loss: 4 Things That Help

October is Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, and in honor of heartbroken parents, blessed little lost ones, and all dear folk touched by this grief, we recognize this all too commonly shared experience.

We all process this kind of loss in our own way, and in our own time. One of life’s humbling mysteries – sometimes there is an explanation, and other times there is not. Either way, we are left to grapple with that which we don’t have control over, and to practice with somehow making peace with it, while sorting out how to move forward.

Often losses can be isolating, held close and private, locked in the silent hope of the first trimester. Hopefully to be spoken of later, perhaps when a little less emotionally raw.

While later term losses or stillbirths may be collectively grieved; empty-armed parents, navigating how to move forward at the mercy of often unpredictable waves of emotion. Moving through a life unchanged and yet forever changed – buoyed or sunken by the community’s varying depth of understanding and expectation.

It is said that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage by age 35, and once we start talking about it, we realize that everyone knows at least one person who has suffered a loss- if they haven’t experienced one themselves.

What does life after loss look like? There is no right or wrong way to grieve, we all do it in our own way and in our own time. Some of us are de-railed for a short time, and others of us never quite ‘get over it.’ Some of us need potato chips, while some of us need long walks, or both. Whatever it may be, allow the time and space to be with it in whatever way works best.

Here are some things that will help in the wake of pregnancy loss:

1. Breathe. Studies show that Mindful breathing exercises shift us out of fight or flight and activate our pre-frontal cortex- which is responsible for higher executive functioning. This supports our recovery from traumatic events and helps us to be present with and to integrate these experiences in a healthy way.

Mindfulness allows us to have the perspective we need to see our way through difficult times, without avoiding or being completely high-jacked by the negative impacts of the associated stress. Accessing resources like a Mindfulness class or a Mindfulness App like Headspace have far-reaching benefits.

2. Nourish and renew. Pregnancy loss and stillbirth can be draining both physically and emotionally. Eat replenishing foods, that are nutrient-rich and tonifying. Try to stay away from refined and processed foods, while gravitating toward a whole foods diet.

Stick to warm and cooked meals, especially in the colder seasons. These are more easily digested, and your body doesn’t have to work as hard to metabolize them. Bone broths, which are rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals are easily absorbed, rehydrating, and fortifying.

3. Follow up. Follow up with your doctor. Especially if bleeding or pain persists or if your energy levels are slow to recover. Your doctor can run standard blood-work to check on hormone and iron levels after a loss. He or she can also determine if there is any indication for ultrasound imaging to ensure that no pregnancy products remain and/or that healing from any procedure is going smoothly.

If you have had more than one loss, your doctor will likely want to run a Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Panel, to rule out any potential contributing physiological factors.

4. Acupuncture. Acupuncture promotes blood flow, regulates inflammation, supports hormone balance, and decreases stress. It helps with recovery from both spontaneous miscarriage, procedures and stillbirths, as well as supports regulation of your cycle after loss.

Treatment plans are individualized, based on factors relevant to your particular case, and can include regular acupuncture, customized Chinese herbs, and a review of recommended supplements, diet and exercise.

If a Western diagnosis has been identified, and/or Western Medical treatment is necessary, we make modifications to support this process. The primary aim is to help your body re-set. Should you plan to create and carry another healthy pregnancy, then we also help to prepare for this, while supporting the mental-emotional process and doing what we can to prevent another loss.

Pregnancy and infancy loss is not uncommon, and the more we speak to it, the better
we are able to understand and support one another. Bless the hearts of those who know
this kind of loss first-hand and bless the hearts of those who love and support them.

 

Dr. Alda Ngo

For more information on how we can support recovery and prevention of pregnancy
loss, please feel free to contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

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