Choose the topics of most interest to you to follow under "My Headlines".
For Best Health, Talk To Your Body
Durham, NC - Benetta Walker sat with her eyes closed as the seminar leader instructed participants seated in a circle to take a deep breath.
"And let it out slowly," said Jeanne van Gemert, a mind/body therapist at Duke Integrative Medicine. "Now, say thanks to the feet that brought you here. And to the legs that support you. Say thanks to the internal organs that keep you functioning - to all the body parts we normally take for granted."
Walker, a learning consultant for the Duke Clinical Research Institute, felt her breathing become more even and her shoulders relax.
"It was quite profound to focus on the majority of things that work well in my body," she said.
The exercise was part of the recent seminar, "For Best Health, Talk With Your Body," the first in a series of free health and wellness talks for 2012 sponsored by DukeWell, Duke's health improvement program. DukeWell helps employees create a personal health plan with a focus on chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes and includes medication co-payment incentives for qualified members.
The seminar included demonstrations of exercises to strengthen the connection between mind and body with the aim of slowing down, relieving stress and maintaining health.
"Cultivating an attitude of awareness and gratitude toward the body improves the immune system," said van Gemert, the presenter. "The body likes it."
To illustrate a simple way to reconnect mind and body, van Gemert asked the group to inhale and exhale for the same duration. She then asked participants to extend their exhale longer than their inhale.
"For every moment you focus on your breath, you are not distracted by a different habit such as worrying," she said.
Van Gemert also led participants through a mental body scan. Individuals sat quietly as she asked them to notice parts of their body, from feet and fingers to cheeks, eyebrows and head.
The body often talks to us, most notably telling us when we're hungry or tired, she said.
"But we don't always pay attention," van Gemert said. "We often allow our minds to follow distractions rather than calming our bodies internally."
© 2013 Office of Communication Services
705 Broad Street, Box 90496, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 681-4533; FAX: (919) 681-7926