Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure Workshop Available for Purchase

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Couldn’t make it live to our Body Talks workshop Series in April? It’s not too late! If you’d like access to an edited recording of Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure, shoot me an e-mail at info@bodytalkstherapy.com, and I’ll send you a private link to the video on YouTube. You can send payment via Venmo to @Allison Brunner or simply look for the PayPal button and pay $15 here in advance. You can also mail a personal check or money order to Body Talks Therapy, 237 N. Prince St., Suite 303, Lancaster, PA 17603. (By next month, I’ll have created a storefront where you can find additional workshops and guided meditations. Stay tuned for that.)

Those who attended live may request free access to the recording. In fact, I’ve added a couple of segments we didn’t have time to include last week due to our limited time together.

I’ve discounted the cost for purchase significantly for a few reasons: your experience will vary greatly from those of the in-person participants. The vibe is quite different when you’re working solo. You’ll also need to acquire some items to appeal to your five senses in order to engage in the exercises as they were intended. (These include flowers or other beautiful objects, a candle, something delicious to taste, some essential oils, fresh ground coffee or tea leaves, a soft blanket or something that feels pleasurable to touch, and some of your favorite music tracks.)

If you afford yourself the time (about 90 minutes) and space (either alone or with a fried) to engage in the experiments fully, I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

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Invite Your Anxiety to Tea

Much of this article by Allison Brunner, LCSW, is reprinted from Natural Awakenings magazine’s (Lancaster/Berks edition) November 2016 issue.

Many of us know it well: a gnawing in the pit of the stomach, an ache in the chest, shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat or a lump in the throat. Roughly 40 million Americans (or 18 percent of the population above the age of 18), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, experience anxiety as a full-blown disorder.

Most of us encounter the symptoms from time to time. Hardwired to avoid pain, we do everything we can to self-distract or problem-solve our way out. We try to convince ourselves we’re “worrying about nothing”. In cognitive approaches to psychotherapy, too, we examine the validity of the thoughts that create suffering and attempt to assuage our fears by labeling them irrational.

But how effective has that been for you?

Running and thinking (or arguing with our thoughts) exacerbate angst. The worse we feel, the more afraid we tend to become, wondering how long the discomfort will last or whether it may worsen and turn us crazy. Our minds are adept at tricking us into believing that what’s really a mouse in the closet is a six-foot monster with fangs.

What if we tuned into our bodies when the symptoms, like little lights on an automobile dashboard, indicated distress? What if we pulled up a chair and invited our anxiety to tea, so to speak? When we take the opportunity to face it, feel it and get to know it a little better, it calms. We can drop beneath it and find that where it was trying to turn our attention is an emotion that is far more tolerable than panic or fear. There may be sadness, grief, disappointment or anger—only a mouse when compared to the anxiety monster.

Try the following next time the body-mind gets noisy.

Find a safe, quiet space where you can turn your attention inward. It’s best to sit on the floor and allow yourself to feel the support of the earth beneath you. Squeeze all of the breath out of your belly, if you can; then fill it first, before your lungs, with fresh air. Notice whether your body is holding tension and relax if you’d like.

Let go of thinking. There is no future, not even a few minutes from now. There is only this moment. Breathe.

Enhance your feeling of safety by focusing on an object in the room that gives you pleasure. Notice the quality of light where you’re seated. Feel the texture of your clothing against your skin. Notice any sounds, smells, the taste in your mouth.

Where in your body are you feeling anxious? What are the physical sensations that accompany it? Place your awareness in that area. How much space does it take up? Does it have a shape; is it solid or diffuse; does it have a temperature?

Stay out of story. Remove the labels (good, bad, awful, terrified) from what you’re feeling. Simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.

What does your body want to do? Does it want to curl into a ball while wrapped in blankets? Do you need to cry into a pillow or scream? Do you need to shake, punch or kick? Allow the release.

Emotions move like waves; they don’t last forever. Give yourself 15 to 30 minutes to ride this one, rather than being pummeled by it, and know that the nervous system will calm again. When we resist, anxiety persists and either somaticizes or intensifies.

Once the waters still, ask your body what it needs. Reconnect to your five senses and where you’re situated in time and space. Soothe yourself with a warm bath, lit candles, low lights or relaxing music. Make yourself a warm cup of tea. After you’ve braved this storm, those in the future will feel more manageable.

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Body Talks Therapy owner, coach, healer, and facilitator of a community of Highly Sensitive People, Allison Brunner, LCSW, will facilitate a workshop on Thursday, May 11, 7:15pm to 8:45pm, at Mulberry Art Studios’ Mulberry on King, 253 W. King St., Lancaster (off-street parking is available against the side of the building, near the entrance. Join us for a combination of psychoeducation, hands-on learning, and experiential practice of tools for coping with and minimizing or even eliminating your symptoms of anxiety as a way of protecting yourself against the emotions that scare you.

Bring a pen and paper or journal. If you prefer to express yourself through art or music, bring the tools to do so. We’ll engage in body awareness and somatic work (grounding and resourcing), mindfulness practice and strategies, guided visualization, “parts work,” and journaling.

RSVP and pay here in advance. For questions, contact info@bodytalkstherapy.com.

Allison Brunner, LSCW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure: Be Mindful of What You Love vs Resisting What You Don’t—and Impact the World in a More Positive Way

How often do you have a thought similar to “When this happens, then everything will be alright,” or “I’ll be happy when I have x, y, or z”? You may even worry about something real or imagined to come.

Meanwhile the sun shines over a bright-blue sky, a chorus of songbirds whistle, and the temperature is perfect. In addition, much of your life is going quite well, and there is much to celebrate. But you don’t notice. You’re busy thinking about how you wished your life could be better or how to avoid the thing you fear.

Thus you create your own suffering.

I’ve noticed that people who have struggled with depression and worked hard (and successfully) to heal hurt parts of themselves seem to have a default setting (an identify, even) for the blues. Joy has been out of their realm of experience for so long, they’re not sure how to access it when it’s right within their reach.

I empathize, because I’ve been there. The good news is that we just need to do a little rewiring of our brains. All it takes is a slowing down and a willingness to notice the marvelous in the mundane.

Come experiment with a group of us (and have some fun in the process) on Thursday, April 13, 7:15pm to 8:45pm in a workshop called “Rewire Your Brain for Pleasure: Be Mindful of What You Love vs Resisting What You Don’t.”  Join us online via Zoom or in-person at Mulberry Art Studios’s Mulberry on King location, 253 W. King St., Lancaster, PA.

Bring or have handy some paper and a pen (and as a list of a few other objects I’ll e-mail to you in advance), as well as a willingness to sing (or lip sync if you’re shy) a few tunes as a group. For this won’t be just an ordinary workshop. Nope, this will be mostly hands-on with a little teaching of Quantum physics and brain neuroplasticity that I guarantee will neither bore nor mystify you.

During our time together, we’ll also do the following:

  • Experience the effects of sharing pleasurable experiences vs misery with others.
  • Connect to all five senses in the present moment to experience increased pleasure.
  • Create “quantum moments” in the brain in order to rewire to default settings of well-being and joy.
  • Learn how to use positive visualization in a more powerful and effective way to bring about desired outcomes in life and to create shifts in your subconscious beliefs.
  • Realize the power you have (and how to) impact the world with your thoughts and emotions.
  • Become familiar with your home “frequency” and learn how to dial it up to impact the world positively.
  • Shift your focus to create more of what you want vs more of what you don’t.

Call (717) 340-2096 for more information, or RSVP and pay here in advance. Cost is $25.

I look forward to spending the evening with you!

Allison Brunner, LCSW, RM, Body Talks Therapy

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Movement Medicine: a Somatic Approach to Personal Transformation

When the music started, I lay on the hardwood floor. Heaviness spread from my abdomen to my chest. I’d come to dance class to begin mending my heart, aching from a recent loss. But I wasn’t yet ready to move.

At the corner of the room, a friend yelped. And as the beat quickened, another dancer stomped and grunted. I realized I wasn’t alone. This was a venue where all feelings—and a variety of expressions, no matter how primal or odd-looking—were welcome.

So I closed my eyes, connected to my physical sensation of grief, and played with all of the ways it wanted to move (and not move).  Noticing the tears in my eyes, peers stepped near and around me, smiled and bowed, then allowed me space to process my feelings on my own. The group provided emotional support and a container for my emotions. With each song and successive rhythm, I experimented with tightening my body to resist the pain then expanding and breathing long, full breaths to allow it more space to be felt.

“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.”  —Ruth St. Denis

Most of us know the physical and mental health benefits of dance: it stimulates the release of endorphins, thus reducing pain, lifting our mood, burning calories, increasing metabolism, and prompting our lymph system to flush toxins. More intriguing to me as a licensed therapist and psychospiritual healer is the opportunity authentic movement affords us to reconnect with our spirit through somatic (or body) awareness. In a culture more inclined to process life challenges through the mind or to approach personal growth via intellect, dance offers a deeper, more transformative experience: aligned with our true selves, we can transmute thought-induced suffering and shift long-term our limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world.

Human beings need time for self-contemplation, meditation, or any sort of activity that helps us get in touch with our subconscious or inner process or to see how or where we get stuck. Through mindful movement, we can meet ourselves in a new (and perhaps more enjoyable) way, noticing the postures and gestures that hint at our deeper patterns. We can also decide where we’d like to break free or choose a new way of walking in the world.

A ballet teacher pointed out to a peer when we were younger dancers that she tended to move along the sidelines or fold her shoulders shyly when in the center of the room. In a 5Rhythms class years later, she explored why it was important to stay small and noticed what happened as she experimented with taking up more space by making larger, more dramatic movements. Memories buried since childhood surfaced, and she reconnected with her younger, more creative self who once believed in her greatness. In time, her style became less rigid, more expressive, and thus began years of positive transitions for her in her career and relationships.

Movement Medicine, a transformational dance class starting Thursday, February 16, in downtown Lancaster, will encourage you to connect with what within you longs to be acknowledged, healed, and transformed. We’ll center and become present to ourselves first, noticing where in our bodies we experience our emotions. We’ll then go deeper, aided by carefully chosen tunes and rhythms, and dance with the parts of ourselves that are afraid or feel unworthy and the parts that long to thrive and align with our full potential and higher selves.

No previous dance experience is required and is in fact preferred, because you won’t have to unlearn any rules. If your aim is to look professional, graceful, or even “good” at it, you may perhaps reconsider your deeper motivation for this approach to inner alchemy. For, as a professional who is trained in body-centered depth work, I invite you to come as you are, with all of your shadow, your light, and everything in between. Allow genuineness and sincerity to guide you.

We’ll meet every first and third Thursday of the month at Mulberry Art Studios21. N. Mulberry St, Lancaster, PA, 7:15pm to 8:30pm. Off-street parking is available behind the building.

Drop-ins are welcome! Bring a new participant, and you each pay half so we can grow our community. To pay by credit in advance, RSVSP here. Cost is $20.

I look forward to meeting you on the dance floor.

Allison Brunner, LCSW, Body Talks Therapy