One of the key elements of Mind Stimulation Therapy that we describe in our book: Mind Stimulation Therapy: Cognitive Intervention for Persons with Schizophrenia (Mohiuddin Ahmed and Charles Boivert, Routledge, 2013) involves Body Movement Relaxation ( BMR )exercises. Mind Stimulation Therapy has application to a variety of clinical populations as we describe in the book, such as persons with severe and persistent mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia), persons with persistent substance abuse history, and physically and or psychiatric compromised adults in nursing home settings. The BMR exercise that we describe can by used not only by clinical clients but also by the general population at large,
The BMR exercises that we present are of a shorter duration than most relaxation-mindfulness exercises used. It can be practiced at different times of the day, including even while one is lying on a bed. In my four years of work with varied disabled nursing home clients, many of them were wheelchair bound. I was impressed how readily these clients learned to practice the short version of BMR exercises and learnt to use the exercise to redirect themselves away from “negative thoughts and moods,” which is often a common occurrence in many of these people, with or without any clinical diagnosis of depression.
Some of the typical such exercises may involve moving two hands slowly in a clapping manner without touching the two hands or moving one hand up and down without stopping at any time , while looking at the hand/s, or squeezing with one or both hands the handle of the wheelchair or bed support in a slow rhythmic continuous movement, and learning to admire the feeling of being alive by acknowledging awareness of one’s movements of one’s body. The central theme of all these movement-awareness exercises is the continuous movement of a specific part of one’s body, anticipating the next moment of movement of the body, and keeping the specific body movement flow continuous, (not stopping even for a second at the end of a range of motion, similar to Tai Chi type of exercise) ,while the rest of body is still. This has to be done without inducing any discomfort or pain. as such the range of movement may vary from person to person depending upon his or her movement restrictions due to physical health. This kind of exercise promotes a total concentration to one’s body movement, across clinical and normal populations, displacing any negative thoughts and feelings that one may have at the time, and giving a sense of feeling “high” or “elated” by noticing one’s body movement and being aware that one is alive in this moment of one’s existence. After all, the criteria of being alive is being able to notice one’s movement of the body as well as movements in others or sensing changes (movement) in the physical world. We may take these experiences for granted in our daily life. But by focusing on this type of exercise intimately, this experience may promote relaxation, mindfulness, and displacement of our “negative thoughts and feeling” , and help us to practice affirming and reaffirming the value of our existence, giving a sense that “I am still alive in this World….How beautiful my body is moving…This experience is real…The Unknown World that I may face just like all other human or living beings on earth is not there yet,… None of us will know when and how it will end …”
Everyday’s productive life for most people contain many discrete events of goal setting and goal attainment experiences. This may be lacking in many people with “severe and persistent mental illness” or in people who have long-standing psychological problems or have physical disabilities associated with physical illness or with the aging process. They may have lost the habit of daily goal setting and goal attainment experiences for whatever reasons. It is important, therefore, to practice BMR exercises with a specific count number, such as 10 or 15, with the idea of having goal setting and goal attainment experience, and to promote experience of being in the present (analogous to practicing mindfulness). This aspect can be integrated in counseling with clients independent of whatever model or therapeutic practice one chooses to follow.
One may use one’s own religious faith or science based knowledge to complement this feeling of “affirmation of being alive,” or “grateful to be alive,” “being in the present moment of existence,” and in the process of connecting spiritually or existentially to the World, one may displace “any negative thoughts and feelings” that one may be experiencing at the moment, and thus may be positively energized. And this effect may last for sometime, or for a longer periods of time depending on our mood, activities, and social support we have. For some it may have a booster spiral positive effect on our daily life that may last for a long period of time. For some we may have to repeat this process more frequently on a daily basis.
Please note, this is a blog posting by Mohiuddin Ahmed, Mind Stimulation Therapy, 2014. Any unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links can be used provided full and clear credit is given to Mohiuddin Ahmed and Mind Stimulation Therapy with appropriate and specific direction in the original context.