FLIP365 Newsletter (3). A Week in the Life of a Contrarian Psychiatrist

On Monday 23rd July, I drove to Pretoria to speak to a full house of medical students eager to learn about brain Health. It was part scientific, part personal journey, part lessons learnt along the way.

The interest hook was that I was in their exact positions, over forty years ago. 1977, to be precise.

No death by PowerPoint; no notes; just speaking for an hour from the heart of medical experience and current views on well-being; providing a life map to improve quality of life; of making better decisions; about mitigating risk; and possible strategies to reflect upon.

Med school teaches you how to heal patients; and assumes you will look after yourself. That is a very, weak assumption.

Overall, most medics self-care is meeting basic needs, not optimal health.

Physician, heal thyself, daily, in many ways, throughout your career, so you can best treat your patients.

It was a week that began the big clean up of the seven ponds, and surrounds at Huddle Park; and all the tensions that a project manager endures.

I fell and bumped a couple of times; a double parallel gash to my forehead, and abrasions to wrists and shins. It looks great (that is is the ponds) and is a world class site, ready for launching my shinrin yoku (“forest bathing”) project.

In over thirty years in psychiatry I have never felt so excited, my belief in its value add never deeper, its potential to heal relationships in all four directions, profound and intuitive.

I sourced a major review article published in an international accepted scientific journal about shinrin-yoku.

Confirmation of my reading and experience of how nature calms and restores.

Longitudinal studies are still required as in all decent research – about lifestyle interventions: exercise, food, sleep, relationships, stress reduction, brain challenges.

But the evidence is clear! Go for it! Powerful healing mechanisms released when you deliberately front the natural; consistently, continually. Letting be. Letting go. Letting in.

It is time to launch the Mindfulness-In-Nature project.

When I reflect back on my life, precipitated by so many good questions asked by the varied audience of people I meet at talks, or places I visit (internal and external), there are three interconnected personal themes that combine to make a formidable three ply cord:

– my intense curiosity about the brain, nature and teaching.

Over sixty years worth of contemplation clearly inform my passion, skills, and solving problems. Trying to make the world a better place.

For there is so much negative stress, burnout, suffering, disconnection; all around.

It is time to launch shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), locally. It is about healing relationships through a slow deliberate reconnection with nature: the breath of air; the warmth of the sun; the firmness of the soil; the texture of water.

Nature is just above your lips; fragrance on the tip of your tongue; a smorgasbord of smells in front of your nose; birdsong in your earlobes; the wind touching your skin; your feet standing firmly on the earth.

It is about activating all your senses in hundreds of ways, tech-free. It is about stimulating your embedded DNA resilient genes. It is about you being in control of your destiny. It is about personal responsibility.

It is, seriously, about linking your inner forest to the outer one. It is all concerns relationships. Inwards. Outwards. Upwards. Downwards.

Let me help get you started on the most adventurous journey of yourself!

Dr Jonathan D Moch
Contrarian Psychiatrist
Special Expertise In Optimizing Brain Health

Mindfulness in the Park. Sundays 90 minutes before dusk (July 4:15pm)

Book of the week

 

 

 

 

 

FLIP365 Weekly Newsletter (1). A week in the life of a contrarian psychiatrist.

Another exciting, reflective week in the life of a contrarian psychiatrist.

Sunday 15th I was invited to address a large audience of semi-retirees, known as Second Innings. My talk centered around the Seven Adventures in Wellness. My ad was to invite volunteers to help develop parts of Huddle Park into world class natural settings to Detox from screens and plugin into the healing powers of silence, stillness, and mindfulness. Well organized event. A number over age 90 years, asking good questions. Also the entire talk was filmed so soon will be available on YouTube.

On the morning of Friday 13th July, Sandra and her father, Wendell Bole hosted me at Thaba Trails in Mulbarton on the southern border of Johannesburg. There are beautiful well-maintained walking paths and forests to explore. Another site for Mindfulness in the Park events. Wendell is a keen designer and builder of walking and cycling tracks. My role is to find sites; his is to build the necessary tracks; and Samantha will drive the operating side of the venture. Already Samantha has created a website domain. www.mindfulnessinthe park.co.za Go check out the trails – walk or cycle.

Thursday 12th July was spent cleaning out more of the Mindfulness area at Huddle Park. I have decided to sponsor a private firm to remove trees that have fallen into the main pond (full permission by Huddle Park management). This will allow for better aesthetics and flow of the water as it cascades down through the seven ponds; and attract different bird species. Although the weather last Sunday was cold, blustery and a bit wet, it was a magnificent setting for walking silently and sitting under the forest canopy, and listening, with eyes closed, to at least six different bird songs. Join us on Sundays 90 minutes  before dusk. (Jan Coetzer is driving the Whats App Mindfulness in the Park group.)

Wednesday 11th July was a day filled with searching for articles, links, books or videos about two key writers about nature and health: the contemplative Henry David Thoreau of Walden Pond fame, and the Scot, John Muir, who was instrumental in finding and protecting wilderness areas in the USA. My takeaway message is that Nature asks for nothing, but gives everything.

Tuesday 10th July, after morning groups, allowed me free-time to spend walking, slowly and silently, and pausing often along the green and blue trails at Huddle Park. From 3:30pm to dusk, with a few dog walkers and cyclists dotting the landscape. The paths are in good shape, as are the bridges and signage. Special treats are the paths through forests, where the light dims considerably, but the leaves underfoot squel with delight as you trample through their winter ground cover population.

Monday 11th July allowed me to digest my dream of creating free Mindfulness in the Park events throughout the nation. Similar to the popular weekly Park Run concept. Inspired by the idea that what you aim at, determines what opportunities you see. A one pager is available as a PDF. Send me an email if would like a copy.

Links.

1) Video About Henry Thoreau

(24). On Walden Pond video. Henry David Thoreau

2). Video Interview of Tim Noakes

(21). Update on Low Carb Healthy Fat dietary options

3). Wiki Link about John Muir

Search Wikipedia John Muir

4). Book details about The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

5). This weeks posts on www.flip365.co.za

Click on link LATEST FROM FLIP365

6). Recommended book of the week.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions.

7). Picture of the week.

 

(22). Mindfulness in the Park. Your best antidepressant!

A FLIP365 project.

Join us for a Mindfulness in the Park event. Click  on this link in the Category section, alongside this post.

From Harvard Medical School publications.

Question. Sour mood getting you down?

Answer. Get back to nature.

Research suggests that mood disorders can be lifted by spending more time outdoors.

Looking for a simple way to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and maybe even improve your memory?

Take a walk in the woods.

Many men are at higher risk for mood disorders as they age, from dealing with sudden life changes like health issues, the loss of loved ones, and even the new world of retirement,

says Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance.

They may not want to turn to medication or therapy for help, and for many, interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use.

Your brain and nature

Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.

It is not clear exactly why outdoor excursions have such a positive mental effect.

Yet, in a 2015 study, researchers compared the brain activity of healthy people after they walked for 90 minutes in either a natural setting or an urban one.

They found that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

When people are depressed or under high levels of stress, this part of the brain malfunctions, and people experience a continuous loop of negative thoughts, says Dr. Strauss.

Digging a bit deeper, it appears that interacting with natural spaces offers other therapeutic benefits.

For instance, calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the bodys fight-or-flight response.

The visual aspects of nature can also have a soothing effect, according to Dr. Strauss.

Having something pleasant to focus on like trees and greenery helps distract your mind from negative thinking, so your thoughts become less filled with worry.

Bringing the outdoors inside.

If you cannot make it outside, listening to nature sounds can have a similar effect, suggests a report published online March 27, 2017, by Scientific Reports.

Researchers used an MRI scanner to measure brain activity in people as they listened to sounds recorded from either natural or artificial environments.

Listening to natural sounds caused the listeners brain connectivity to reflect an outward-directed focus of attention, a process that occurs during wakeful rest periods like daydreaming.

Listening to artificial sounds created an inward-directed focus, which occurs during states of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

Even looking at pictures of nature settings, your favorite spot, or a place you want to visit can help.

Find your space

How much time with nature is enough?

Anything from 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week, to regular three-day weekends in the woods is helpful, says Dr. Strauss.

The point is to make your interactions a part of your normal lifestyle.

Your time with nature could be something as simple as a daily walk in a park or a Saturday afternoon on a local trail.

You can even try to combine your nature outings with your regular exercise by power walking or cycling outdoors, says Dr. Strauss.

The type of nature setting does not matter, either.

Focus on places you find the most pleasing,

says Dr. Strauss.

The goal is to get away from stimulating urban settings and surround yourself with a natural environment.

And do not feel you have to go it alone.

A 2014 study found that group nature walks were just as effective as solo treks in terms of lowering depression and stress and improving overall mental outlook.

In fact, the researchers noted that people who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, or unemployment had the greatest mental boost from a group nature outing.

Nature can have a powerful effect on our mental state, says Dr. Strauss,

and there are many ways to tap into it.

(19). What’s App Group – Mindfulness in the Park

Jan Coetzer has kindly taken on the admin of a Whats App group for the Mindfulness in the Park events. The idea is to remind people of times, news, special classes, formation of a  community of like minded people ….

The long term objective of FLIP365 is to roll out Mindfulness in the Park classes throughout the country. Similar to the Park Run phenomena where runners/walkers cover 5kms. Every Saturday morning at 8am. It is free, and organized by volunteers. Over 80,000 runners/walkers so far. (Can google, Park Run.)

Remember that, currently, Mindfulness in the Park sessions are held on Sundays 4:15pm at Huddle Park, Linksfield, Johanessburg. Please forward this blog to your data base. You never know who will benefit deeply from connecting mindfully to nature.

So please send me your full name and what’s app number. I will forward the info to Jan. Go to Contact Dr Moch in main menu. Or

jonathandmoch@gmail.com

 

… Sunday session was AWESOME…..

… beautiful, safe, quiet, natural settings. Did not know it existed in Johannesburg…

…. I loved it. Count me in for every Sunday …

… earth, wind, fire, water! Enjoyed every minute …

…. a MultiSensory delight…..

 

 

(17). Join Mindfulness in the Park events.

Please send me your full name and what’s app number so we can send you direct messages about Mindfulness in the Park events. (Go to contact Dr Moch, in website menu.)

My long term aim is weekly (Sunday afternoons, ninety minutes before dusk) Mindfulness in the Park sessions across the nation. Watch this space.

Volunteers most welcome to help roll out the dream.

Photo Shoot

1) Park at Acro Branch, Huddle Park

2). Begin start up walk at start of Trail Run Sign

3). Follow Blue Arrow Signage (about 300 meters)

4). Stop at this signpost.

5). You now can see the Mindfulness Nature site.

6). Follow short path and take your seat.

7). Your greatest gift to yourself. 90 minutes of full immersion in nature.

Sundays 90 minutes before dusk. July times 4:15pm until 5:45pm