The Flu, Colds, Corona: Practice is Caring for Ourselves and One Another Effectively & Generously When Here

Dear Folks;  Most of you may not know that my academic and early career background was in  biology and ecology.  As this flu and corona virus season has unfolded I have been very interested and mindful about global and local situation, our classroom space, our presence with one another in the classrooms, and the ecology of contagion in a science-based way.  While it is true that we cannot isolate ourselves into hermetically sealed units, we can minimize our exposure to the these difficulties in very effective and common-sense ways.  What I am doing in our classrooms and recommending for you in this post are based on the best science, medical advice, and epidemiology from the Washington County Health Department, the Oregon Health Authority, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  You can be assured that I continue to be up-to-date on all this as a way of supporting us when we are in our classrooms.   I invite you to care for yourself and care for all of us in class by learning and modifying your way of life in a positive and caring way during this challenging time.

CLASSES HERE WILL BE ONLINE THIS SPRING AS WE DEAL WITH THIS CHALLENGE BEFORE US.  

  • Governor Brown’s Stay-at-Home Order is now in place as of March 23rd
  • One of my students, Jani, provided this excellent and thorough perspective on the jog ahead for people around the globe manage this difficult disease.  Corona Virus Can Be Stopped.

Encouragements from Recent Research:  A recent comprehensive study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that the lethality of the corona virus, COVID-19 is less than had previously been thought.  As we learn more there will be less fear and panic and more effective ways to meet this challenge.  We have become accustomed to and learned how to live full lives in the presence of the seasonal flu which results in tens of thousands of fatalities each year in the US and we will learn and live with corona virus and find ways to live and work well with this new challenge in the months ahead.  Let’s support one another.

Very recent and credible research notes that folks who have few symptoms or no symptoms may carry the virus without knowing it.  This makes it doubly important for all of us to practice hygiene that is very proactive; wash hands often, sanitize if you can’t wash, wipe down restroom fixtures after use, and the notes below.

MEETING THIS CHALLENGE AS PRACTICE

Can this be another opportunity for practice?  Rather than pushing to get, avoiding reactively, fighting without need, can we meet this difficulty honestly and face-to-face and lean forward to live generously, openly and be actively engaged?

I have been preparing our classroom spaces and teaching methods for common sense, science-based, and effective cleanliness and interpersonal safety.  Likewise I am asking that we all learn how to take care of ourselves and one another during this season of uncertainty.  Here is what I am asking of myself and every student so we can meet the challenges together in a effective and caring way this spring term:

SANITATION IN OUR CLASSROOMS WHEN IT IS TIME TO RETURN TO IN-PERSON CLASSES: 

  1. Before my classes I sanitize the frequently touched surfaces; switches, door knobs, bathroom fixtures, hard surfaces.  Check with your teacher to see what they are doing in this regard.  Fortunately most flu, cold, and similar viruses generally live only a short time outside the body.  They can remain viable on hard surfaces listed above for more than a day in cool temperatures hence those are sanitized frequently here.  
  2. Research has shown that dry, porous materials like fabric at warmer temperatures (60 degrees and above) are generally very inhospitable to such viruses and they will generally perish in minutes or at most a day.  Blankets, yoga straps, blocks, and even the fabric-based yoga mats here are porous and the classrooms are kept at 60 to 75 degrees.  I be miming the use of props here and, moving classes from upstairs to downstairs to minimize exposure and modifying my teaching methods so props are unused for at least 72 hours between uses.  As I mentioned above, I advise that you bring your own yoga set (Here is a highly rated and affordable yoga set at Amazon).   
  3. There are numerous hand sanitizer/tissue stations in the classrooms.  Feel free at anytime before, during, or after class to use them.  Likewise, the restrooms have hand soap and sanitizer always available. 
  4. I am setting up options to pay online and via my new credit card device. I prefer that you pay with check though don’t be concerned if that is inconvenient.  Just pay electronically or when you have your checkbook with you.  I will gladly accept cash and keep a supply of crisp, new unhandled bills to provide change. As usual, I will not be concerned if you happen to forget your payment and we’ll take care of it later in some kind way. 

TEACHING METHODS:

  1. SOCIAL DISTANCING:  Class size will be limited to 10 students and spacing between students will be generous and in line with CDC and WHO guidelines (do our best to keep 6 feet distance with a minimum of 3 feet always.  Folded blankets will mark the wide spaces between mats.
  2. During this season of uncertainty I will omit partner-supported and close contact or touching activities.  This will not effect the vitality of learning with one another and will reassure you that your time here will be appropriate, safe, and helpful.
  3. This term I will focus more generally on stress reduction, softening the sharp edges of anxiety and fear as well inviting a generous sense of openness and extension outward from the tensions that my hold us inward as we encounter the difficulties around us;  politics, financial system uncertainties,  COVID-19, and more.  Liberal applications of emotional and practical assurances as I speak the cues in class as well as a generous application of guided progressive relaxation for stress relief. 

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF & OTHERS: This will require all of us to change many of our unconscious behaviors in daily life.

  1. If you have cold or flu symptoms stay home to recuperate, consult your doctor, and minimize exposing others.  You will be credited all classes you miss without question.  I will provide you with a link to my recordings of yoga class so you can practice at home.
  2. While here in the classrooms make ample use of the many hand sanitizer/tissue stations.  When you wash your hands do so for at least 20 seconds as health authorities suggest.
  3. When you use the restroom wipe down those fixtures (knobs, faucet, sink, switch, etc) you touch with the nearby sanitizer or wipe.
  4. Before you flush put the lid down.
  5. If you sneeze or cough do so into a tissue or your clean shirt sleeve and dispose of the tissue.  Many of us simple turn our head or cough into our hand.  That will not work to halt the spread of these viruses.  There are tissue boxes all around the rooms.  I recommend wearing clean long-sleeved and long-legged garments as an added layer of cleanliness for you and others.
  6. Practice patient social distancing when arriving or leaving.  Shoe can be placed on the shoe shelf, beneath the bench, or on the floor nearby as you practice social distancing of 3 to 6 feet as the World Health Organization and CDC advise.
  7. Bring your own yoga props or a full set; mat, yoga towel, strap, blocks. (Here is a highly rated and affordable yoga set at Amazon).   If you borrow one of the classroom’s mats use a yoga mat towel.  There will be some here if you need one.  The available props to borrow have been untouched for at least 72 hours by rotating classes upstairs and downstairs and setting aside used props after each class so they are not touched for those 72 hours.
  8. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. These are the principle routes of these viruses into our bodies.  We do this unconsciously and many times an hour so good practice can include noticing the tendency and choosing another mode of action perhaps with a tissue or a cleansed hand.
  9. When greeting one another substitute a handshake or hug with firm, reassuring eye contact or verbal greeting.. 

Winter MBSR Courses Begin on Thursday, January 23rd & Saturday the 25th: Saturday is excellent for commuters

 

 

I have opened registration for winter’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses  Thursday evening  starting January 23rd as well as the January 25th  Saturday afternoon MBSR Program.  The Saturday, 2pm training is an excellent choice for greater Portland area commuters with good traffic and Max nearby.  

Also, my classroom is an easy 2-block walk from both downtown Hillsboro Max stations.  There are a number of excellent restaurants, shops, and parks downtown near my classrooms.  Here are more general details about MBSR.

A rich background of scientific research and books has made MBSR one of the most effective and respected methods of helping people though the most stressful challenges of life: heart disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, sleep problems and much more.  Read a summary of my MBSR program’s clinical results.  You may want to read the review paper about my MBSR program and mindfulness in the Journal of Participatory Medicine coauthored by my colleagues, 15 local referring physicians, therapists, teachers and MBSR participants: Mindfulness in Participatory Medicine Context & Relevance.

Learn more background about MBSR training here at this link:  MBSR at the Stress Reduction Clinic.  Please feel free to contact me with any and all questions about MBSR and my trainings:  Contact Brant.

 

Courage to Stand For . . . Our New Year’s Day Retreat; 9am – Noon

What do you stand for?  

Let’s navigate this question together: Generously, openly, compassionately.  With no right answer yet with our unique answer. Each of us.  This calls for courage.

The root word in early forms of Latin and French for the word courage meant, “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

In the face of life’s difficulties and amidst society’s overwhelming changes  let’s explore the  courage to love more fully, to meet this challenge, to stand for this:  For your life.  For what and who you cherish.  A sturdy way to begin the year.

We will spend the morning in contemplative practice, restorative practices, and encouragement.   Bring your heart, your thoughts,  your emotions, you concerns, your enthusiasms, and perhaps something to share that has inspired you toward courage.  Details

 

FROM THE PHOTOS ABOVE:  Greta Thunberg is a school girl who addressed the United Nations and talks to people all over the worlds about seriousness of climate change.   in 1955 Rosa Parks refused to relinquich her seat on a public bus for a white passenger encouraging people to peacefully resist racism.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister who spoke out agains tne Nazis and was executed for doing so.   Fr. Maximillian Kolbe was a priest and opponent of Nazism who volunteered to die in place of a stranger at a Nazi death camp.   Mahatma Ghandi employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign to end British rule in India and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.   Malala Yousafzai is Pakistani advocate for female education.  As a 15 year old girl she was attacked and shot in the head by a Taliban fundamentalist. She survied and has thrived while becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize.   Lt. Ehren Watada  was discarged from the US Army for refusing to deploy while saying he believed the Gulf War to be illegal and that it would make him party to war crimes.  Ryan White was an Indiana teenager diagnoed with HIV/AIDS from a transfusion.  He and his family faught to have him be able to attend school while the district refused his admittance without proof that his attendance would endanger others.  Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat in World War II who saved the lives of 6,000 Jews though it put him and his family in danger.   Helen Keller was a deaf-blind author, activist, and lecture promoting women’s sufferage, workers’ rights, antimilitarism, and other causes.  Elenor Roosevelt was a tireless advocate for the rights of minorities, the poor, and womens rights even though first ladies were seldom so committed.  Anne Frank was a young Dutch-Jewish Diarist who wrote about her and her family’s experiences while hiding in occupied Netherlands.  She died in a concentration camp.  The first responders on 9-11 offered themselves for others in incredible ways.  Of the nearly 3000 people who died in the twin towers over 400 were firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel.  Hundreds of the surviving first responders have lingering health problems as a result of their selfless acts that day.

Meeting Despair with Fierce Roaring Compassion

 

In feeling overwhelmed with the sharp edges of change gripping life,  I am like so many of us; my friends, students, colleagues and family.  Whether this change is deeply personal or broadly social, the seeds of despair can spout and grow.

It might be insanity of our current national politics that throws you into despair.  Perhaps it’s the reality of climate change alongside people, even loved ones, who deny the truth.  Perhaps it’s the veracity of the mass extinction of species happening across the planet, the ‘sixth extinction’ mankind is causing, rivaling the extinctions of dinosaurs and the other mass extinctions of life on our planet over the millions of years.  Perhaps it is a personal loss you’ve experienced that shattered the life you knew.  Despair arrives hand-in-hand with our ability to remember, imagine, and long for something other than this difficulty, this terrible occurrence.

Despair doesn’t need to run the show.  Consider the possibility that despair is a way of avoiding the sharp edges of change that shatter what we cherish; our health, a bright future for our children, loved ones.  In her recent article Searching for a Cure  writer Cara Buckley recently described her enquiry along the path of despair and found what she describes as a ‘fierce roaring compassion.’  A willingness to  meet what is before us, however terrible, and allow it to be part of life to be worked with even in the smallest ways and during each of these unfolding moments.  To embrace life in a fierce way no matter our urge to despair, avoid, or fight.

The message she found was that when we are free of the desparing reaction that saps us of our vitality we can move more fiercely and powerfully to make positive change in our lives and the lives of those around us.  We offer compassion and find courage  in response to these difficulties.

The writer Joanna Macy shares this view of meeting the insurmountable with such fierceness in her recitation of one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s sonnets Let this Darkness Be a Bell Tower.  The passage ‘Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell.  As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength’ seems to capture the message Cara Buckley found.

A few years ago without Cara Buckley or Joanna Macy’s inspiration, this poem welled up for me in the face of a very sharp edge in life.  Perhaps this will encourage you to know that compassion comes forth in difficult times without so much effort and with a willing openness to experience the difficulty:  Allowing

Let’s practice fierce roaring compassion in the midst of these difficulties.  Let’s inspire one another.

Kindest Regards  —  Brant

 

Healing and Staying Well; An evening with a physician, nutritionist, and organic farmer. Saturday, October 5th; 5:30-7pm

We have a profound capacity for healing and balanced well-being for ourselves, our loved ones, and those in our communities.  This is an early evening conversation with some clinicians and food growers.  These are folks who know the arc of self-care and community well-being will turn your heart and life toward that profound capacity of yours.

Kristin Kinnie MScN, MSW: As a nutritionist, I work with people to explore their questions, emotions and goals surrounding food and nutrition.  Good nutrition provides the building blocks our body requires and desires as we strive for optimum health.  I believe everyone’s journey towards optimum health is personal – you know your body best!  I work with people to tune into their own body and discover what truly nourishes, nurtures, and heals them.


Laura Rogers ND: As an integrative physician, Dr. Rogers strives to use the best of naturopathic and allopathic medicine in her practice. She believes that the foundation for health is a healthy lifestyle: healthy eating, regular physical activity, connection with nature and learning how to stay balanced amidst the inevitable stressors of life.  She provides naturopathic primary and adjunctive care with a focus on improving your mental and physical vitality. Her expertise includes family medicine, mental health, women’s health, and GI and endocrine imbalances.

James Brougham of Sparrowhawk Farms will share his experience of sustainable farming and explain it value to our community, our health, and our wellbeing.

We’ll touch upon your ability to nourish yourself toward vibrant health, to find your way of healing from the inside out, to source foods that hold compassion for our land, our community and your personal health.

You are invited to attend and share the evening  Saturday, October 5th; 5:30-7pm.  More details at this link.  Free and RSVP

 

 

I have opened registration for fall’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses  Thursday evening  starting October 3rd as well as Saturday afternoon MBSR Programs.  The Saturday, 2pm training starting October 5th, is an excellent choice for Portland area commuters with good traffic and Max nearby.  And it is just after the Saturday Market; nice food, market goods, city fountain!  Just a few yards from my classroom’s front door.  Also, my classroom is an easy 2-block walk from both downtown Hillsboro Max stations.  There are a number of excellent restaurants, shops, and parks downtown near my classrooms.  Here are more general details about MBSR.

A rich background of scientific research and books has made MBSR one of the most effective and respected methods of helping people though the most stressful challenges of life: heart disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, sleep problems and much more.  Read a summary of my MBSR program’s clinical results.  You may want to read the review paper about my MBSR program and mindfulness in the Journal of Participatory Medicine coauthored by my colleagues, 15 local referring physicians, therapists, teachers and MBSR participants: Mindfulness in Participatory Medicine Context & Relevance.

Learn more background about MBSR training here at this link:  MBSR at the Stress Reduction Clinic.  Please feel free to contact me with any and all questions about MBSR and my trainings:  Contact Brant.

 

How We Love; Fall Retreat on Sunday September 15th; 2-5pm


Begin fall with pondering our way of loving.  We all so so though often we don’t enquire how and discern who we love. Together let’s learn something helpful about loving; romantic, familial, brotherly/sisterly, with community, and more.

There will be gentle mindful yoga practice, sitting meditation practice, progressive relaxation practice, kind group exercises, periods of reflection and conversation and more this Sunday afternoon.  Poetry and readings will be offered.

Please RSVP so we have enough space for all!  Tuition is $20. Sunday, September 15th; 2-5pm.  Details

I look forward to sharing the morning with you  —  Brant

Dr. Zach Bush MD: A breathtaking perspective on health and wellbeing. Let’s pay attention.

Dear Folks;  Those of you who have been in my classrooms or spent time sharing the learning and practice here know that my style, though often playful , is very down-to-earth and pointed toward what is effective for your health and well-being; heart, mind and body.  What I share with students is anchored in science, practicality, and direct experiences of my students and me.  I am a scientist by academic training and seldom a true believer in  any orthodoxy or personal opinion of some famous teacher.  About twenty years ago Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work, research, and teaching of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction captured my interest and offered a straightforward, effective, and directly experiential mode of learning I found extremely effective and straightfoward.  Eventually trained to teach MBSR and have done so for over a decade with reams of tangible positive results with hundreds of students here.  Studies conducted in my classrooms document these helpful consequences of the system that Jon assembled.

Encountering Dr. Bush in my recent research I have been stunned by the incredible breadth, depth, and spirit of his medical and social perspective and outreach.  He reminds me of a younger Jon Kabat-Zinn in his insight and practical wisdom.  Given the state of our personal health, medical care system, social and political dynamics,  and the state of our planet’s biologic and climatic systems I urge you to listen and learn from Dr. Bush in a few of his videos and on this website listed below.

His insights are both stark and unyielding to any naive notion that we aren’t at a dramatic tipping point personally, environmentally, socially, and as a species. Equally though he offers a rich and wise personal path toward meeting the immense challenges we face.  His perspective on how to approach personal and community health is a powerful form of changing the direction of our species current trajectory toward immense difficulty.  Doubt this?  Learn below.

Please make time to review some or all of these.  I know you will find realistic hope for personal, family and friends, community, society, and humanity here.

Kindest Regards  —  Brant

For Folks in Greater Portland: Two MBSR Programs this Summer; Thursdays & Saturdays

 

 

I have opened registration for summer’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses  Thursday evening as well as Saturday afternoon MBSR Programs.  The Saturday, 2pm training, is an excellent choice for Portland area commuters with good traffic and Max nearby.  And it is just after the Saturday Market; nice food, market goods, city fountain!  Just a few yards from my classroom’s front door.  Also, my classroom is an easy 2-block walk from both downtown Hillsboro Max stations.  There are a number of excellent restaurants, shops, and parks downtown near my classrooms.  Here are more general details about MBSR.

A rich background of scientific research and books has made MBSR one of the most effective and respected methods of helping people though the most stressful challenges of life: heart disease, cancer, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis, sleep problems and much more.  Read a summary of my MBSR program’s clinical results.  You may want to read the review paper about my MBSR program and mindfulness in the Journal of Participatory Medicine coauthored by my colleagues, 15 local referring physicians, therapists, teachers and MBSR participants: Mindfulness in Participatory Medicine Context & Relevance.

Learn more background about MBSR training here at this link:  MBSR at the Stress Reduction Clinic.  Please feel free to contact me with any and all questions about MBSR and my trainings:  Contact Brant.

 

Student Shares His Enthusiams for Golf & Yoga!

 

I was so very delighted when Dan D’Amario found that his yoga practice was improving his golf game as well as his attitude on the course especially when balls fly in the wrong direction!  He was more that surprised because he thought attending yoga class with Linda would be relaxing and a nice thing to share with her then low and behold his golf game improved!

Acknowledging that enthusiasm Dan and Linda assembled a fun and engaging short video about Dan’s journey with golf and yoga side-by-side.

Here is the video they created!

Kind Regards  —  Brant