JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS - September 2018 - Kansas City
Journey to the Center of You
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
The most rewarding journey you may ever take is the one to the quiet center of your being. This has been a quest of mine since my teen years. In thinking about this topic, I found an article entitled “Sit Still,” which I had written for my high school news magazine. I was urging my fellow students to “stop the mad rush of vacillation among the petty worries of today” and to “…stop…sit and think.” The theme of looking within and asking others to do so began decades ago and the journey continues to this day. I have learned so much along the way and would like to share some parts of that with you.
Many people have been disheartened as they try different approaches to meditation or mindfulness practices. They report feeling like failures in this endeavor. I think learning about our brain and how it naturally wants to go to that state of consciousness can be very helpful.
In The 20 Minute Break: Using the New Science of Ultradian Rhythms, Ernest Rossi, Ph.D., a psychologist, author, and lecturer, gives us information that could be life-transforming. He introduces us to this amazing cycle called the ultradian rhythm. In the 1950’s it was discovered that, when sleeping, people experienced 90-120 minute alternations of dreaming and deep sleep. Researchers observed that when people’s eyelids fluttered, indicating rapid eye movement (REM), they were often dreaming. It was then theorized that about 20 minutes of every 90-120 minutes each night is spent dreaming.
About twenty years later in the 1970’s, researchers began to uncover the fact that this 90-120 minutes mind/body cycle occurs night and day. You may notice that you can work for an hour or so, with an energetic mental and physical alertness. Your skills, memory and learning ability seem to be at a peak for dealing with the world around you. Rossi calls this the “Ultradian Peak Performance Period.”
Then you may find your attention wandering. You may yawn, doodle, want to stretch, become absent-minded, get a far-away look in your eyes, take deeper breaths, become aware of hunger, want to go to the restroom, feel sleepy and just generally “space out.” You are experiencing the “Ultradian Stress Syndrome,” and your body-mind is asking for a break.
At this point, you may drink a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soft drink, eat sugar or some other food. You might talk to a colleague, or if you are a very diligent worker, you tell yourself to ‘pay attention’ and try to get back to work. Much of the time, due to the high-speed nature of this culture, you will probably override this cycle and continue your activity. What would be the advantage of recognizing this cycle and taking a break? What are the consequences if you override this cycle and push your body-mind to keep going?
If you respond to the “stress” signals and take a break, your brain-body cycles will go into the “Ultradian Healing Response.” This phase of the ultradian rhythm “signals fundamental patterns of communication between mind and body that coordinate many physiological and psychological processes a dozen times each day.” (P.13, The 20 Minute Break) This is the window of opportunity for the mind, body and psyche to regain balance and health. You are in an expanded state of consciousness, ready to problem solve intuitively, renew and refresh yourself, transform stress to health and inefficiency to productivity.
If you ignore this cycle, you will be at risk for stress-related health problems like headaches, backaches, stomach or digestive problems, asthma, high blood pressure and skin problems. You may create or exacerbate depression, anxiety, loss of self-confidence, memory loss, mood swings, tendency to cry, anger, impatience or addictive behaviors. You may find yourself being more clumsy, missing social cues, misunderstanding people, and finally having trouble falling asleep or waking up feeling tired after a night’s sleep.
There are some simple ways to access the Ultradian Healing Response. Deep diaphragmatic breaths assist you in moving from stress to healing. Adding phrases that encourage calming like, “My whole body is feeling warm, heavy and relaxed” are helpful. Mindfulness exercises that focus on the sensory process in the moment leads us to that inner place.
John Leonard’s Neuro-behavioral Program teaches people simple biofeedback signals along with phrases like, “I want my stress to go to zero.” (neurobehavioralprograms.com)
This program teaches you how to reduce stress, negative emotions and pain, and to release trauma.
Physical exercise also invites us into this state of consciousness. Think about how you feel after walking, running, swimming, doing yard work or playing a sport. Your mind is more alert. Quieter activities like yoga are also great.
When we take time to journey within, we can find ourselves in new ways, explore new solutions and return to our outer lives refreshed. Marcel Proust says it very well, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
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Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to