Upstairs Brain vs. Downstairs Brain

Feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, and other emotions are generated in a part of the brain called the limbic system. This ‘downstairs’ portion of the brain is only interested in three things: Fighting, fleeing, or freezing. In ‘fight’ mode, the downstairs brain wants to protect you from harm by fighting against the threat. When it is triggered, your heart may race, your palms may get sweaty, and you may have a sharp increase in irritability and anger. In ‘flee’ mode, you may experience a similar adrenaline rush, but in this instance your brain is preparing your body to run away from the danger. In ‘freeze’ mode, we tend to retreat inside ourselves. This is the deer-in-the-headlights feeling of “If I’m very quiet and still, the bad thing won’t see me.”

Whether you’re in fight, flee, or freeze mode, your downstairs brain is preparing you to deal with a real or perceived threat in the only way it knows how. When your downstairs brain is engaged, the upstairs part of your brain tends to get overwhelmed. The upstairs brain, which consists of the neocortex of the brain, is the part responsible for thinking things through, figuring things out, and solving problems. When the downstairs brain takes over, the upstairs brain is out to lunch. That’s why when you’re emotionally overwhelmed it is nearly impossible to figure out a way to deal with it. Upstairs brain is all about finding solutions to problems, but downstairs brain is all about fighting, fleeing, or freezing. When your upstairs brain is overwhelmed, thinking things over isn’t going to work. That’s because at that point your downstairs brain is in charge. For those times when your downstairs brain is running the show, mindfulness is a way of disengaging from the thinking cycle for a while so that you can re-center yourself and reconnect with yourself and the world around you.

Scholarships Available – Earn up to 25 FREE CEUs!

If you are a mental health professional interested in earning up to 25 FREE continuing education hours in Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy here’s your opportunity!
In July and August of 2017 the Mindful Ecotherapy Center will be hosting a series of four seminars on Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy. We currently have 6 openings for volunteer assistants to help out with the seminars. Volunteers will have light duties like distributing handouts, assisting with activities, and otherwise assisting the facilitator. All volunteers receive free continuing education credit for any seminars in which they assist, as well as a free copy of the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is a blending of Mindfulness and Ecopsychology.
MBE is used as a framework for helping individuals and families to find deeper connections in their own lives, and to give more meaning and enjoyment to the activities of daily living. By re-integrating ourselves with nature, we are able to tap into nature’s healing power and to heal the earth as we heal ourselves.

The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook and the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workshop series were developed by Charlton Hall, LMFT/S, RPT-S, CHt as a 12-week program to help individuals re-connect with the healing power of nature. This four-part training for Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy for mental health professionals teaches you all the basic skills you need to facilitate the 12-session Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) workshops. It is the central component of the MBE Facilitator Training Program for certification in Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy.

SCHEDULE

Part A
Saturday, July 15 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Mindful Ecotherapy Center

Part B
Saturday, July 29 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Mindful Ecotherapy Center

Part C
Saturday, August 12 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

Part D
Saturday, August 26 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

Bald Rock Heritage Preserve

The first two of the four sessions in this training (Part A and Part B) will be held in the Mindful Ecotherapy Center at 12 Pelham Road, Suite B, Greenville SC for classroom instruction. The second two sessions (Part C and Part D) will be held at the Bald Rock Heritage Preserve near Caesar’s Head State Park in upstate South Carolina. The course will be taught on four Saturdays in July and August. Each of these four sessions is a stand-alone CEU opportunity offering 6.25 hours of continuing education for a total of 25 hours of education. Certificates of completion good for 6.25 hours will be awarded at each session. You do not have to attend all four seminars in order to get credit for any of the seminars.

Click here for details about the seminars

REQUIREMENTS AND QUALIFICATIONS
Volunteers will be required to work a maximum of 2 hours per seminar. Most of the volunteer duties involve setting up and tearing down after each seminar, including carrying supplies and equipment to and from the site. No heavy lifting is involved.

Each volunteer scholarship recipient receives a Certificate of Completion good for 6.25 hours of continuing education credit for each seminar in which they assist. There are four seminars in the series. If you volunteer to assist at all four you will receive credit for 25 hours of continuing education. Please specify in your scholarship application how many seminars you wish to attend.

To apply for a scholarship, please complete the application below

What is Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE)?

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Do you enjoy nature? Have you ever been camping, hiking or canoeing? Do you enjoy hunting and fishing? If so, you are probably already aware of nature’s power to relax and heal. A large and growing body of research demonstrates that nature is good for the mind as well as the body.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the moment in which you find yourself by focusing on your immediate experience rather than on ruminations that may be producing stress depression, or anxiety. The benefits of mindfulness as a tool for stress reduction and self-improvement have been thoroughly researched. Mindfulness works so well in this capacity that it has been referred to as the “penicillin of mental health.”

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is a blending of Mindfulness and Ecopsychology. MBE uses nature to facilitate mindful awareness, the first skill of MBE.

MBE is used as a framework for helping individuals and families to find deeper connections in their own lives, and to give more meaning and enjoyment to the activities of daily living. By re-integrating ourselves with nature, we are able to tap into nature’s healing power and to heal the earth as we heal ourselves.

Think about the last time you were stressed out or depressed about something. Hold that thought in your mind and ask yourself, “Was the stress due to something that happened in the past? Was it about something that may or may not happen in the future? How much of what I was anxious about has to do with right now, at this very moment, as I read this sentence?”

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to what is happening right now, in this moment.

By focusing on our experiences in the now, from moment to moment, we come to realize that we are free to choose which thoughts and feelings to pay attention to, and which thoughts and feelings not to focus on. This doesn’t mean that we’re trying to stop thinking or feeling. It means that we’re just making a conscious choice on how much attention to focus on those thoughts or feelings.

The past only exists in our memories. The future is only a projection of the past. Anxiety about future events is the result of playing the odds based on past experiences and expecting similar occurrences to happen in the future. Mindfulness is a way of using the present moment to choose what to believe about the past and the future. We can choose which memories to pay attention to, and which projections about the future to focus our attention on. Mindfulness isn’t about trying to make anxious or depressing thoughts and feelings go away. It is about choosing whether or not to dwell on such thoughts and feelings.

Try this: Imagine that everything that has ever stressed you out or depressed you is written on a sheet of paper. Now imagine holding this sheet of paper about six inches from your nose, or as close to your face as you can while still being able to read the words on this page.

With the page this close to your face, how much of your surroundings can you see? If you’re like most people, you probably can’t see much of anything in the immediate environment. If your stressful thoughts and feelings were written on this page, they’d be in the way. They’d be blocking your view. When we let our stressful thoughts and feelings occupy all of our attention, then like this page, they tend to block our view of anything else that might be going on in our lives.

Now instead of having all your stressful and depressing thoughts written on this page, imagine that they’re written on a boomerang. If you tried to throw that boomerang away, it would eventually come back to you. If you weren’t careful, it might actually smack you in the head on its return trip!  The harder you try to throw this boomerang away, the faster it comes back to you. When we try to “throw away” stressful and depressing thoughts and feelings, they tend to come right back at us as well. That’s because, like it or not, stressful and depressing thoughts and feelings are just as much a part of us as happy thoughts and feelings. Trying to throw them away is trying to throw away a part of ourselves.

What if, instead of trying to throw that boomerang away, you simply set it in your lap? If you did this, those negative thoughts and feelings written on the boomerang would still be with you, but they wouldn’t be blocking your view. You could still see and interact with the world, but you also wouldn’t be trying to throw away a part of yourself.

Mindfulness is a way of setting that boomerang of stressful and depressing thoughts in your lap so you can see the world around you. It’s not a way of trying to throw those thoughts and feelings away. Remember, if you try to do that, the boomerang may come back with a vengeance! Instead, mindfulness is about learning to accept that such thoughts and feelings are a natural part of existence, and accepting that we don’t have to let them keep us from interacting with the world unless we consciously choose to do so.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice LIVE Seminars

25-hour continuing education seminar
Starting July 15, 2017

Do you enjoy nature? Have you ever been camping, hiking or canoeing? Do you enjoy hunting and fishing? If so, you are probably already aware of nature’s power to relax and heal. A large and growing body of research demonstrates that nature is good for the mind as well as the body. Ecopsychology is the study of nature’s ability to heal. Ecotherapy is the application of ecopsychology in a therapeutic setting.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the moment in which you find yourself by focusing on your immediate experience, rather than on ruminations that may be producing stress depression, or anxiety. The benefits of mindfulness as a tool for stress reduction and self-improvement have been thoroughly researched. Mindfulness works so well in this capacity that it has been referred to as the “penicillin of mental health.”
Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is a blending of Mindfulness and Ecopsychology.
MBE is used as a framework for helping individuals and families to find deeper connections in their own lives, and to give more meaning and enjoyment to the activities of daily living. By re-integrating ourselves with nature, we are able to tap into nature’s healing power and to heal the earth as we heal ourselves.

The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook and the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workshop series were developed by Charlton Hall, LMFT/S, RPT-S, CHt as a 12-week program to help individuals re-connect with the healing power of nature. This four-part training for Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy for mental health professionals teaches you all the basic skills you need to facilitate the 12-session Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) workshops. It is the central component of the MBE Facilitator Training Program for certification in Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy.

Each of the four sessions in this training begins in the Mindful Ecotherapy Center at 12 Pelham Road, Suite B, Greenville SC for classroom instruction. After a break for lunch, each session will then resume on one of the hiking trails at or near Table Rock State Park in Pickens County north of Greenville. The course will be taught on four Saturdays in July and August. Each of these four sessions is a stand-alone CEU opportunity offering 6.25 hours of continuing education for a total of 25 hours of education. Certificates of completion good for 6.25 hours will be awarded at each session.

SAVE BY REGISTERING FOR ALL FOUR SEMINARS IN ADVANCE!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR ALL FOUR SEMINARS AT ONCE FOR $200
A savings of over $40 when you register for all four seminars in advance (no refunds if you cannot make the seminars except in case of extreme emergency)

Session schedule is as follows:

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice Part A

Saturday, July 15, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Topics covered:
Mindful Awareness
Radical Acceptance
Wise Mind and Wise Body

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR PART A

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice Part B

Saturday, July 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Topics covered:
Letting Go
Living in the Now
Centering

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR PART B

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice Part C

Saturday, August 12, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Topics covered:
Connecting
Nature as Metaphor
Nature as Teacher

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR PART C

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice Part D

Saturday, August 26, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Topics covered:
Nature as Nurture
Nature as Healer
Living in True Self

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR PART D

HOW TO DRESS:
Dress casually for hiking trails. Comfortable dress and sturdy boots and/or walking shoes. You may also wish to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, hats, and water bottles. We will meet at the office for the first part of the day, then move to a hiking trail for the remainder of each training, so dress appropriately.

WHAT TO BRING:
Sunscreen, insect repellent, notebook, pens or pencils, water bottles, snacks (like trail mix, etc.) and a portable chair or blanket for sitting.

RECOMMENDED TEXT:
The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook
or
The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Facilitator Manual
(The text of the workbook is contained within the facilitator manual, so there is no need to purchase both books. If you intend to pursue certification as a facilitator, you may wish to purchase the facilitator manual, which contains tips and instructions on how to run a successful group).

SCHOLARSHIPS
There are 12 scholarships available for interested participants. If you are awarded a scholarship you get free tuition for any of the four seminars you assist in, plus a free copy of the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook. Scholarship recipients will be assigned light duties assisting the instructor during each workshop. Scholarship recipients also receive free continuing education credit for each session attended.

The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice series is a requirement for certification in MBE. The full list of requirements for certifications is as follows:

The MBE Facilitator Training Program is a 50-hour program that includes the following courses:
Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice – 25 hours (Parts A-D)
Mindfulness: An Introduction – 10 hours
Ecotherapy: An Introduction – 10 hours
Group Dynamics and Facilitation – 5 hours

Click here if you are interested in learning more about certification as a Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Facilitator

Click on the links below to register for the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice series.