Mind-body medicine helps during these trying times

Susan Stewart

This is the fifth in a series of articles submitted by Allegany College of Maryland and its Tackling the Opioid Epidemic: A Community Resilience Approach project partners. This column will focus on building strong people and a stronger, connected community during these difficult times as we deal with addiction, the COVID-19 and other challenges. Tackling the Opioid Epidemic project is supported by the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, and the views presented here are not those of the grantee organization and not necessarily those of the OOCC, its executive director or its staff.

I’m proud to be a passionate advocate for the teachings of mind-body medicine. Two years ago, I was invited to participate in a training through Allegany College of Maryland’s partnership with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. I loved it so much that I became certified in the instruction of mind-body medicine techniques.

Going through the training and gaining my certification changed my life for the positive. It helped me to transform my perspective on many aspects of my personal and professional life. I’m much more at peace than ever before, even during this time of great uncertainty.

Since then, AHEC West has trained four other staff members through this partnership with ACM. As one of three Area Health Education Centers in Maryland, we’re now working to infuse the teachings of mind-body medicine into our programs because we see the value in building resilience and coping skills and bringing the message of hope and connection to the Western Maryland Region.

I’m personally facilitating my third group for community members and teaching evidence-based strategies for self-care. We meet virtually for two hours a week for eight weeks. Mind-Body-Skills Groups (MBSG) like the one I’m leading are especially valuable in these trying times. The opioid epidemic, COVID-19 pandemic, and the nation’s deep political divisions have left many people stressed as never before.

Today’s current events are a regular topic of conversation at the MBSG sessions. The groups, now online out of concern for the health and safety of our participants, offer a safe space for facilitators to share a wide array of coping tools. Using self-help techniques such as relaxation breathing techniques, guided imagery, various writing experiences and meditation can empower individuals from all backgrounds to better weather the storms of life. These sessions give me hope for our collective future.

I believe community wellness begins with individual members of the community. One helpful exercise that I like to share you is Dialogue with a Symptom, a unique writing exercise that helps you solve a problem or understand an issue or physical ailment in ways that tap into your inner wisdom, ultimately reducing stress.

If techniques like this appeal to you, I’d like to personally invite you to register for an upcoming Mind-Body-Skills Group. It really can change your life and perspective as it did my own.

Information about free 8-week online Mind-Body-Skills Groups (the core of the CMBM Model of Self-Care and Group Support), facilitated by grant participants, is available at www.allegany.edu/mind-body-connection. These groups provide a great opportunity to connect with others and learn coping skills. To register, contact Kathy Condor at kcondor@allegany.edu.

Susan Stewart is the executive director of AHEC (Area Health Education Center) West.


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