All posts by RichardB

I am trained and work as a Creative Arts Therapist. I have passionately studied, worked, and taught as a hands on practitioner of the Creative/Expressive and Healing Arts since 1983. I have integrated training’s in modalities which include Swedish Massage, Jin Shin Do, Trager Work, Hatha Yoga, Gestalt Therapy, Halprin Method, Group Creative Arts Therapy, Tai Chi, Meditation, Motional Processing, Rituals, Interfaith Celebrations, Progressive Early Childhood and Adult Education, Addiction and Recovery Services, Counseling and Psychotherapy, Dance/Movement Therapy. I currently provide Creative Arts and Counseling services to a local nonprofit agency as well as teaching local classes and workshops. I use compassion and acceptance to create an environment that is safe and nurturing for individual clients and/or groups.

barren field

Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow. Langston Hughes



Yoga Benefits

Many people hear “yoga”, and think Zen gardens, meditation, and free spirits. But you may be surprised to find that one recent study showed that those who incorporated yoga into their life had improved stress levels and lower blood pressure. Yoga was ultimately developed to combine controlled breathing and poses to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual strength and unity. In fact, Michelle Obama even attributes her sleek physique to frequent yoga sessions. There are multiple types of yoga, but Hatha Yoga is the most commonly practiced type in the United States.

Here are some surprising health benefits of practicing yoga that you may have never known!

Relief of Back Pain: More than 60 million Americans suffer from chronic back pain. Yoga is one of the best exercises to help alleviate pain. This is due to the increase in core stability (abdominal muscles) and the reduction of pressure across the lower back and surrounding muscles. Yoga also helps to release endorphins throughout the body that can calm inflammation. Practicing yoga for just two sessions a week may reduce or even eliminate back pain. Many individuals also report an increase in pain tolerance after attending sessions for only three weeks.

Heart Healthy: Further research also demonstrates that even one yoga session can produce a calming effect on the body, and individuals in one study showed reduction in their systolic blood pressure after only 12 weeks of two yoga sessions per week. Additionally, incorporating yoga into a cardiac rehabilitation program after a heart attack or bypass surgery has also shown promise in maintaining lower levels of stress and healthy blood pressure levels.

Increased Flexibility: You may be thinking, “No Duh”, on this one, but the benefits may be surprising. Practicing poses like downward dog, and tree pose can improve balance and flexibility. This can directly strengthen and protect your larger joints (knees, hips, back, neck) from injury and reduce inflammation in the smaller joints (fingers and ankles). This can also help reduce falls in the elderly, and ultimately avoid fractures in this age group.

Mood Booster: In addition to mental clarity and relaxation, yoga has been shown to improve depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. A small German study reviewed in the Harvard Mental Health Letter demonstrated that at the end of a three-month period, women perceived less stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. A few yoga classes could leave you happier and less stressed. Increased happiness alone is reason enough to give it a try!

As with any new exercise, always consult your physician before you begin. This is to ensure your body can safely complete the activity. I also recommend you attend a beginner class or view a video with some common poses. This will make you feel more confident during your first class and ensure you obtain the most benefit.

Setting boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential skill in life, especially for people in recovery. Addicts often grow up in dysfunctional homes, where boundaries were either too rigid (leading to suppressed emotions or distant relationships) or too enmeshed (depriving them of a sense of personal identity). Later in life, their interpersonal relationships may continue to be defined by old roles and patterns, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety and addictive or compulsive behaviors.creativity-e1352824581399.jpg

As part of recovery, addicts learn how to set boundaries and to respect other people’s boundaries in return. In the addiction field, treatment providers often refer to this process as embracing the authentic self. While it may sound like psychobabble, it is really a process of discovering who you want to be, how you want to interact with other people, and taking responsibility for the consequences of your choices.

Why are boundaries important? They keep you safe from being manipulated, abused or taken advantage of, while also protecting other people from harm you may consciously or unconsciously inflict. They prevent both parties in a relationship from blurring the lines between self and others, which can lead to enmeshment and codependency. With healthy boundaries in place, you can begin to tune in to your inner voice and trust your own thoughts and feelings, and then communicate those to other people.

Distinguishing Healthy and Unhealthy Boundaries

Without a healthy role model, it can be difficult to know what healthy boundaries look like. First, let’s cover what healthy boundaries are not. They are not threats or attempts to control or manipulate others into doing what you want. They are not rigid rules or “walls” designed to keep people out or shield you from expressing your emotions.

Healthy boundaries are simply a delineation of what type of treatment is acceptable to you, and what consequences will result from violating a boundary. People with healthy boundaries share their thoughts and feelings, take care of their own needs, and are able to say no when necessary.

By contrast, people with weak boundaries often:

• Sacrifice their personal values, plans or goals to please others

• Allow others to define who they are and make decisions for them

• Expect others to fulfill all their needs

• Feel guilty when they say no

• Hesitate to share their opinions or assert themselves if they are being treated unfairly

• Frequently feel used, threatened, victimized or mistreated by others

• Frequently offer unsolicited advice, or feel pressured to follow someone else’s advice

• Take responsibility for other people’s feelings

• Tell others how to think, feel or act

A Boundary-Setting Roadmap

Every individual is called upon to set their own boundaries. What works for some may seem either too intrusive or too distant to others. When laying out your boundaries, work through the following steps:

Create a Personal Bill of Rights. Before you can start setting boundaries, you have to recognize your right to have your own feelings, values and beliefs and to express to others how you want to be treated. For some, this requires a colossal leap in self-worth.

Identify Your Emotions. Our parents always admonish us to “think before you act.” When you have a strong response, take a time-out to identify the underlying emotion and figure out what you want to convey. Doing so allows you to interact with other people in an honest, direct way rather than blaming or lashing out.

Set Limits. Once you have a few guidelines in place for how you expect to be treated, practice setting limits with people in a clear, direct way. Examples of healthy boundaries are: “I choose to be around sober people” or “I’ll be happy to talk with you when your voice is calm.”

Assert Your Needs. If you feel that your boundaries are being violated, speak up. This doesn’t mean lashing out or blaming others, but rather assertively communicating your needs. Ask for what you want and say no, politely yet firmly, if something isn’t right for you.

Listen to Your Instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable or inappropriate, chances are a boundary is being pushed. By tuning into your instincts, you’re more likely to respond in ways that are true to your authentic self.

Defend Your Boundaries. Once you set boundaries, expect that they will be tested. Before this happens, set consequences that you are willing and able to enforce (e.g., “If you continue this behavior, I will…”). Know that by setting limits, you may disappoint the other person, especially if they have weak boundaries themselves. While you should always act with dignity and respect, you can’t control other people’s feelings and behaviors.

If someone continually violates your boundaries, you may need to minimize contact with them, or if they are toxic to your recovery, cut ties altogether. By choosing not to let people violate your boundaries, you stop being the victim, stop blaming others and start reclaiming responsibility for your own life.

Respect Other People’s Boundaries. Just as important as honoring your own boundaries is respecting other people’s, even if they are different from yours. If they don’t have defined boundaries, show them the respect you know they deserve anyway.