Mind-Body Therapy in New York City

Mind-body therapy enables people to experience healing of their pain points in new and different ways, including viewing pain not as an obstacle but as an opportunity for personal growth and transformation. Mind-body therapy leverages the mind’s capacity to affect the entire body, its physiological responses and thereby influence health. The mind’s reaction to stress (the “fight or flight” response) is automatic and though the mind and body are designed to function as allies working in sync, sometimes they work against each other – like when the central nervous system is out of homeostasis and stuck in stress response mode.  It’s commonplace to find ourselves stuck or frozen in an anxious, fearful space without being able to see our way out of the stress response.

The good news is that adjusting and pivoting the central nervous system toward the “relaxation response” and balance can be learned through mind-body therapeutic techniques and self-regulation. The relaxation response is a self-manifested state of deep rest that shifts a person’s physical and emotional responses away from stress. It’s a protective mechanism originating in the mind, enabling us to subdue harmful effects of stress through personally controlled adjustments that calm and thereby return the body to a healthy state of balance or homeostasis. 

 

What is mind-body therapy?

Sometimes referred to as relaxation therapy, mind-body therapy is a series of non-invasive techniques and treatments that optimize the bidirectional relationship between the mind and the body to forge a balance or homeostasis between all the body systems.   Everything from body temperature to our respiratory system and much more must be kept within a particular range so that your central nervous system, including the brain, and vital organs can function correctly.  No single organ system of the body acts alone and for example, regulation of body temperature cannot occur without the cooperation of the integumentary (skin) system, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.   Should any one of these body systems fall outside of specific ranges, the entire body system is vulnerable to dysfunction, shutting down, and if extreme enough possibly dying.  Since it’s through homeostasis, an inner balance,  that we function optimally, mind-body therapy focuses on managing stress (disruptions to homeostasis) and achieving physical and mental relaxation.  

 

The Mind-Body Therapy “Bidirectional Relationship” 

Simply put, how we think affects how we feel, and how we feel can affect how we think.   The brain and body have a bidirectional reciprocal relationship.   How we think and our mental state has a physiological effect felt in the physical body.  For instance, anxiety fueled thoughts release stress hormones that are meant to be a temporary phenomenon. However a surging of stress hormones released and sustained in your biochemistry long enough can disrupt nearly all your body’s systems and processes and put you at a greater vulnerability for health problems like insomnia, weight gain, anxiety, depression, digestive issues, heart disease, concentration and memory impairment and more.

But the reverse is all true and the proper mind body therapeutic technique can calm and relax the mind.  As another example, there are several breathing techniques to shift the central nervous system (including the brain) away from the stress response and toward the relaxation response. Breathing is both automatic and self-controlled, as though we breathe unconsciously, the technique we use to breathe can be manipulated.  Breathing exercises, particularly those that emphasize extended exhalation stimulate the vagus nerve, causing decline in heart rate and blood pressure and activate the relaxation response.  Generally breathing slowly, evenly, and gently through the nose is an indication of a relaxed state.  Deliberately mirroring relaxed breathing can calm the central nervous system and effectively return the body to homeostasis.

 

How Does Mind-Body Therapy Work?

The objective of mind-body therapy is to focus on the stress response activity taking place and reduce it.  The stress response, also known as the “fight or flight” response occurs naturally by our central nervous system (including the brain) when it perceives excessive pressure or duress, and it positions us to be on high alert and protects us from bodily harm.  The stress response physiologically places our body in overdrive, boosting all aspects of our respiratory and cardiovascular system,  flooding our body with stress hormones and more.  Those experiencing the stress or fight-or-flight response are experiencing the automatic imbalancing of the central nervous system as the “stress response” is more active and dominant over our “relaxation response”.  

Chronic stress sufferers commonly describe uncomfortable physiological changes such as muscle tension,  stomach problems,  headaches, racing heartbeat, and shallow breathing.  While this imbalance is beneficial in the short-term,  over the long term it’s limiting the function and performance of our organ systems and can be excruciating mentally (headaches).    For example, enduring elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline,  can damage blood vessels and compromise immune system function.   

Thus mind body therapy aims to turn off and counteract the harmful effects of stress, calm and shift the imbalance within the central nervous system to where the relaxation response brings the body back into balance or homeostasis.  As for example a reduction in blood pressure and the body systems facilitates the uptake of oxygen.  Improved oxygenation and the accompanying nutrition it brings to the tissues improves nerve fibers, sensory function – ultimately resolving nerve pain issues.  

Mind-body therapy rebalances our stress and relaxation systems and while it has been found to be effective as the lone treatment for those with stress, anxiety, depression,  fibromyalgia, other chronic pains and more, the treatments are natural, holistic and each a “team player” in a variety of recovery journeys.  What this means is that since with mind body therapy you acquire a robust set of self-empowering wellness skills and tools, many people turn to mind body therapy to supplement or complement another therapeutic protocol they have in place, be it with medication or behavioral health.

Some of the benefits of a mind body therapy include:

  • Reduced depression, anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia & stress, addictive cravings
  • Alleviated symptoms associated with arthritis & aging
  • Reduced Fibromyalagia
  • Deep relaxation
  • Decreased oxygen consumption
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Slower breathing and heart rate
  • Increased nitric oxide levels
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Genetic changes associated with inflammation and metabolism (chemical processes)

Mind Body Therapy: Trapped & Hidden Pain

“Stress does not cause pain, but it can exacerbate it and make it worse. Much of chronic pain is ‘remembered’ pain. It’s the constant firing of brain cells leading to a memory of pain that lasts, even though the bodily symptoms causing the pain are no longer there. The pain is residing because of the neurological connections in the brain itself.” – Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind & Body Medical Institute and the term “Relaxation Response

All events the body experiences are perceived through the sensory network of nerves, then recorded in the body’s tissue, and continue on into the brain.  Isolating and trapping physical and or emotional trauma is the body’s protective action to minimize its effect so that the afflicted person can resume carrying on with their life.  However eventually the load of trauma accumulated exceeds what we can bear and surfaces in the form of  pain, fatigue, other ailments or what is called an ‘energy cyst’. Though we may even forget about the traumatic event, our bodies remember and future encounters with similar details of past trauma such as smells, sights, feelings, sounds, circumstances, logistics, and more can trigger re-living in full the past traumatic episode.  This is known as post-traumatic stress —  and may show up in the body as feeling overwhelmed, muscle tension, trouble sleeping, brain fog or trouble focusing, anxiety, depression and more.  

Research has shown that trauma affects both the brain and body causing the central nervous system to stay on high alert in flight or fight mode, unable to focus on rest or self-healing and remaining ‘on-duty’ poised to combat the next threat.  Hence trauma is not only expressed in musculoskeletal physical pain but also in the emotional centers of the brain – able to be activated thereby exacerbating conditions like chronic pain, headaches and other ailments. 

Physical pain is inextricably linked to emotions and more research has demonstrated emotions are integral to the assessment and treatment of persistent pain.  In fact, emotional pain and physical pain exist on very similar circuitry within the central nervous system, and over the course of evolution our bodies decided to use a single neural system to detect, process and feel pain, be it emotional or physical. 

 

Mind Body Therapy Treatments

Mind-Body therapy is not any one singular treatment or protocol but a series of non-invasive techniques and treatments that optimize the bidirectional relationship between the mind and the body to forge a balance or homeostasis within the central nervous system and all the body systems.   Below is a partial listing and description of treatments and techniques in the Mind Body Therapy portfolio.   The components of any one Mind Body Therapy program are custom tailored and tightly aligned to symptoms being experienced thus require an in-depth conversation to precisely “fit”.  Call me if you have questions about how craniosacral therapy and or chiropractic care can comprise an effective mind body therapy protocol.   It’s important to be mindful that everyone’s circumstances are unique and I would have to know circumstances and details about what you’re coping with to be more insightful of which mind body therapy treatments are ideally suited for you.    Nonetheless the listing below are some of the more popular treatment components of a mind body therapy program. 

Somato Emotional Release:  is a therapeutic response that enables the processing and releasing of physical and emotional pain that has been lodged in the body at some point in the past. This treatment does not require re-visiting the traumatic event, but is rather an exploration of current emotions in context to the body today and any restrictions in tissues that are emotional in nature.  Somato Emotional Release treats the body and emotions in the brain, simultaneously with the intent of opening pathways for the central nervous system to fully process and expel the lingering negative energy of trauma – away from the body. Somato Emotional Release works by leveraging the innate nature and ability of the body to heal itself through craniosacral bodywork and assessment of the body’s craniosacral rhythm and fascia.  

Craniosacral rhythm:  The natural flow and motion of the cerebrospinal fluid that feeds, lubricates,  and detoxifies the central nervous system.  Cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the spinal cord and brain and its rhythm yields insight on how the body is processing, moving through and releasing stored emotions.  Trauma, both energy cysts and fascia restrictions, can disrupt the craniosacral rhythm.

Fascia:  a  whole-body continuous connective tissue sheath surrounding every single component of the body, including all organs, bones, blood vessels, nerve fibers, right down to all individual cells.  Fascia restrictions can be identified and cleared through craniosacral therapy which balances the body’s natural hydraulic forces and encourages the inherent natural healing abilities of all the tissue restrictions holding emotional memory.  Click here to learn more.

Wim Hof Method Treatment: Empowers the body to harness a higher level of control over the central nervous system’s “fight-or-flight” stress response.  Learning the foundation of the Wim Hof Method (breathing, cold therapy, and a commitment) will enable you to control pain, stress responses and become a master of your own body and mind.  In simple biological terms, the Wim Hof Method is a teachable systematic approach to nervous system regulation and stress resilience. The combination of cold therapy, controlled breathing, and commitment  enables you to connect more deeply to your body.  The breathing component is referred to as the Wim Hof Breathing Method and involves powerfully inhaling, relaxed exhaling, and extended breath holds.  The objective is to train you on developing command of your nervous and immune systems, as well as your cardiovascular system, all to help you be stronger, happier, and healthier.  Click here to learn more

Treating Migraines with Craniosacral Therapy: migraines arise from a vascular, hormonal, or neurological disturbance within the brain itself overreacting to stimuli causing a wave of brain activity leading to migraines.  In sum, migraine headaches are nervous system disorder thus the key to gaining relief is to treat the underlying triggering mechanisms of the central nervous system holistically, something accomplished through craniosacral therapy.  Click here to learn more.

Treating Fibromyalgia with Craniosacral Therapy: With fibromyalgia the central nervous system’s ascending and descending pain pathways operate abnormally, resulting in central amplification of pain signals, similar to the “volume control setting” being turned up too high.  In fact the world-renowned Mayo Clinic has published findings that pain in patients with fibromyalgia is the result from neurochemical imbalances in the central nervous system that lead to a “central amplification” of pain perception.   Simply put, fibromyalgia sufferers have elevated levels of neurotransmitters in their cerebrospinal fluid that increase central nervous system pain processing; and diminished levels of neurotransmitters in their cerebrospinal fluid known to reduce pain transmission.  One of the core benefits in receiving craniosacral therapy to treat fibromyalgia is how it directly improves the integrity and circulation of cerebrospinal fluid, the watery fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord with 3 critical functions: 

  1. Protect spinal cord and brain from trauma; 
  2. Deliver nutrients to nervous system tissue; and 
  3. Transport waste products from cerebral metabolism.   

Cerebrospinal fluid that lubricates the brain and spinal cord is central in maintaining the healthy functioning of all of the major organ systems of the body, and is the hydraulic, energetic function of the body.  Craniosacral therapy eliminates disturbances to cerebrospinal fluid circulation and how the central nervous system processes pain and other sensory information.  Click here for more information.

Vagus Nerve Treatment: Craniosacral therapy directly treats the cranial nerves (the vagus nerve being cranial nerve #10) and can shift the nervous system out and away of the fight or flight stress response dominant state.  Over a few therapeutic sessions this can help in ‘rewiring’ the nervous system by increasing vagal tone, relaxation response and balance or homeostasis. The vagus nerve functions as the relaxation response control center of the body to counteract excessive stress response and any dysregulation of the central nervous system producing mental and physical ailments including brain fog, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, stomach problems, increased bodily inflammation and more.  Click here to learn more.

Lymphatic Drainage Therapy: When the lymphatic system is not functioning well and draining lymph properly, fluid will build up in the body’s tissues and inflammation can emerge within your body without your immediate awareness. You only become aware when the inflammation produces visible swelling and or pain, and or dysfunction.   It’s the accumulation of toxins and metabolic waste that have not exited your body that produces these health ailments. The benefits of lymphatic drainage therapy center around the many outcomes that come with granular detoxification of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), which essentially controls all body organs and systems.  Lymphatic drainage therapy allows the body to heal itself, which can range from reducing swelling to resolving headaches, enhancing skin and improving digestive health. If you’ve never tried it before, here is a partial description of what lymphatic drainage therapy can offer. Click here to learn more.

Insomnia Treatment with Craniosacral Therapy: Since insomnia emerges from an imbalanced central nervous system operating in stress response mode and triggering brain activity during sleep, people have been turning to craniosacral therapy for relief.  Craniosacral therapy effectively treats insomnia at its foundation, calming the central nervous system away from being imbalanced and in high alert, and shifting it to align with the body’s need to maintain a certain state of equilibrium or what’s called homeostasis.   Craniosacral therapy helps achieve sleep-wake homeostasis based on the concept that the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and central nervous system fluctuates in pressure causing a subtle rhythmic motion of the cranial bones. This rhythm is known as the cranial rhythm and is palpated by hand to assess the movement, any variances or restrictions in flow of the cerebrospinal fluid throughout the body. Properly targeted therapeutic mobilizations can relieve flow restrictions and tensions in the central nervous system, shift the body away from the fight-or-flight or stress response and elicit a physiological relaxation response.     Click here to learn more.

Immune System Boost: The central nervous system (brain & spinal cord) is responsible for our immune systems’ functioning and chiropractic care has proven effective in strengthening the immune system in both children and adults.   Your immune system is thrown off from any type of dysfunction within your body and a subluxation in your spine (a spinal vertebra out of position compared to the other vertebrae) produces an adverse ripple effect on your immune system’s ability to fight off harmful substances.  Unfortunately, subluxations are rarely considered when it comes to a weakened immune system, and that’s because most healthcare care providers are unfamiliar with how to detect or treat subluxations.  Chiropractic adjustments have not only resolved subluxations but have also been shown to improve both blood and cerebral fluid flow to the brain.   Here’s 3 ways a chiropractic adjustment will boost your immune system: Click here to learn more.

About Dr. Kaminsky & Craniosacral Therapy

Dr. Kaminsky is a 1999 graduate of the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic. He is licensed to practice in NY and has completed close to three thousand hours of professional continuing education since becoming licensed in March of 2000.

The primary approach used in his office is Craniosacral Therapy (CST) which is a method focusing on the cranium (head) and sacrum (a large bone at the base of the spine) scientifically proven to control life sustaining fluid flow throughout the body.

Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive, hands-on manual therapy approach that brings about healing via the fluidity of the body. The existence of the Craniosacral System was first discovered by Osteopath Dr. William Sutherland in the early 1900’s, calling it Cranial Osteopathy.  And later rediscovered, validated, and developed by Dr. John Upledger in the late 70’s early 80’s, who renamed it Craniosacral Therapy after doing five years of research at the Michigan State University, School of Medicine. In 1983 Dr. John, as he was fondly called, established a teaching institute in Palm Beach, Florida, to teach this cranial sacral method to all healthcare providers. The Upledger Institute is still very active today.

The craniosacral mechanism pumps fluid which is produced in the brain, called cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), through the fascial network of the body, the purpose of which is to lubricate joints, muscles, organs, all cells and all tissues. It is the driving life force for your body’s systems to function properly, CSF also carries healing properties to bodily traumas, injuries and past surgeries.

The proper function of your cranial sacral mechanism, via CSF flow, maintains the normal tone of your muscles, provide nutrients to your organs, and keeps you out of pain. It sustains human life and allows your nervous system to stay responsive to challenges of daily living and your mind-body life experiences. The better your craniosacral mechanism functions, the better the flow of this life sustaining fluid, the better your body can handle physical and emotional stress. The uninhibited flow of this fluid throughout your body allows you to thrive, opposite of survival mode.

CSF is part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) brain and spinal cord), which is physically encapsulated within the dural membranes of the spine and head.

One of the functions inside of your brain is to automatically generate energetic rhythmic impulses that function to pump CSF throughout your body, regulating your peripheral nerves, nervous system and organ systems, which in turn, sustain your function (physiology) and life. It is an important force that maintains everything functioning in your body. This is what we call the Craniosacral System, or Craniosacral Mechanism. It is the hydraulic, energetic and rejuvenating system of your body.

This measurable life force of moving fluid is palpable to a trained craniosacral therapist, like the heart rhythm, pulse rhythm, breathing rate, that can all be felt, so too can the Cranial Sacral Rhythm (CSR) be palpated and measured. It is the foundational diagnostic tool in real-time used to evaluate your current state of well-being (or lack thereof), and potential for health improvement and healing.

Compromises of your rhythmic impulse, correlates to CSF flow restrictions in the system which the body is unable to self-correct or overcome on its own. This is the reason why over time we develop pain, dis-ease, symptoms, conditions, mind-body disconnect and basically all human physical and psychological ailments.

When the fluid isn’t flowing optimally, your bodily rejuvenation is affected, and this is where the skill of an experienced craniosacral therapist becomes valuable. By placing his or her hands on your body, most commonly on your head and sacrum, for diagnostic purposes, the practitioner can detect, feel, evaluate, and rate the SSQAR (strength, symmetry, quality, amplitude, rate) of the rhythm; then bring forth correction of any limitations with subsequent experienced hand placements on different parts the body during a session.

A craniosacral therapist helps your rhythm reset, restore and renew allowing for healing to take place of the mind-body connection, musculoskeletal tightness and spasms, neurological deficits, autoimmune issues, organ function, many common conditions, and of course pain. Through a practitioners properly focused and attuned touch, your body is facilitated to release channels of fluid stagnation and flow restriction, which ultimately breakthrough, overcome and improve CSR and the function of vital fluid flow.

Dr. Alex Kaminsky is an advanced practitioner of Craniosacral therapy, having studied up to advanced levels including SER and pediatric courses. He has built a solid foundation with many years of experience, treating babies, children and adults.

To learn more, visit the other pages on this website. Call to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kaminsky.