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mind/body healing

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The subject of mind/body dynamics came up in another thread http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=28220

(post # 38)in relation to how our eye/brain "sees". That discussion was about art and Alan mentioned the concept of visual "short-hand" wherein we don't actually need to see total infused detail for the brain to register that we're looking at a specific object, in that case a feather. In fact, in art the oft repeated adage "Less is more", suggests that a well-done simple image may carry more emotional content than a super detailed one.


James made a very interesting post(#38) outlining his experience and knowledge of how information gets processed from the eye through the brain. He was relating this process to our art discussion, by drawing on his knowledge and experience from his psychology/counseling profession, which has given him a lot of access to current research into mind/body dynamics, specifically related to trauma and PTSD.


I find it fascinating how an art discussion relating to how we see dovetails with trauma research and what it teaches us about the mind/body connection.


I have hesitated to write about the healing aspect of James' input as my experience with trauma therapy is largely second-hand through my wife and obviously it is a very sensitive issue. However, the research James mentions seems to validate some things that Jean and I have discovered in our personal lives around healing trauma, and seems too valuable not to mention.


James explains how under hypnosis or guided meditation a repressed memory of trauma can be remembered and, hopefully with skilled professional help, carefully reintegrated into an unrepressed mode that reconciles body, mind, brain and social connections. Obviously it is of utmost importance to find the best possible practitioner who is willing to move at the pace you are comfortable with, and who is a "fit" for you personally.


My wife has found, beyond talk therapy(which can certainly be helpful) some current therapy models that, as well as hypnosis, use specific body-work techniques to facilitate post-traumatic reintegration.


An excellent resource is the work of Bessel van der Kolk:


http://www.traumacenter.org (near Boston)


And the book(fairly technical): Trauma and the Body: A Sensory Motor Approach to Psychotherapy


by P. Ogden, K. Minton and C. Pain with forward by B. van der Kolk

"A variety of psychosomatic approaches to traumatized individuals that, in focusing on both physical("fixed"

sensory-motor patterns) as well as psychological manifestations of the trauma, result in a more integrated healing."



What my own personal experience reveals is that nature immersion, meditation, satisfying hand work, and exposure to uplifting art, music and literature have their own healing properties. I suspect that many here will have experience in the healing aspects of nature/craft/art. I wonder how these practices may intersect with the research that James is drawing from.


Perhaps James will have more to say, drawing on his experience in the therapeutic arts, about how the brain/body/mind work together and perhaps how we can move toward further integration. Certainly anyone else is welcome to weigh in as well.

Edited by Jim Kelso
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Thank you for bringing this subject back up Jim. My main reason for beginning blacksmithing and bladesmithing was as a way to quiet my mind after returning from Viet Nam. I found that working with my hands gave me a whole new way to see the world. Line and form, texture, color, light, a whole new language presented itself. I began to meet others who were exploring like me. Having a community of good people who were learning and sharing helped me make my way through life.


I am struggling for words this morning, but I do hope that others will jump in and explore this thread. We are learning and changing as we pursue our craft on a deep and profound level.

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I agree with Mr Fogg, as a vet myself I only found peace when doing something creative, I gave up trying to work for people, the bordome of sitting in an office just made me edgy, the last time I worked for someone ended in my 'going bush' for 6 months, just wandering the subtropical forests of east coast south africa, fishing and hunting. Eventualy my tolerance of people returned, but I can not go back to doing any thing that isn't creative and sanctioned by myself, blades fit the bill perfectly, the physical aspect gives me a feeling of having done a good days work, and the finished project imense satisfaction, the cherry on top is the smile I see on the new owners face as he sees his knife in the flesh for the first time! Sorry if I'm rambling here...

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I have been slow to join this thread, not because I don't have thoughts to share, or don't care to share them here, but because I can easily get lost in the obscurity of obfuscation if I don't temper the impulse to say everything at once.


I too got into bladesmithing for a combination of the creative challenge and the theraputic effect of the work. My deamons are not instilled by war, just the complexities of my work, clients lost because I was unable to protect them from themselves, and my own personal madness.


On a clinical note, Bladesmithing really is physiologically theraputic because it actively engages multiple areas of both sides of the brain simultaneously. That cross brain engagement facilitates integration, or re-integration of our recent memories or experiences. You might say it keeps the pieces of ourselves connected and self aware. This is actually the same brain phenomina responsible for the effect of EMDR therapy, one of the most widely used therapy techniques for treating PTSD.


Stepping away from "research", I find that I do my best bladesmithing work when I plan out every detail, visualizing, drawing, calculating, living the piece, but then set it all aside as soon as I pick up the hammer. Working the steel intuitively towards the idea in my head rather than forcing calculated motions. As I approach completion, I can compare it to the drawings and make final adjustments, but even then, comparison is calculated, but adjustment must be intuitive or the piece will never "live".


It is astonishing to me how true that holds with how I relate to people too. It is distorted to some degree in a Client relationship as there are some aspects there that must always be calculated. Yet the intangibles of personality fit and a willingness to trust intuition are critical to forming effective relationships with clients and peers alike. I can "get along" without that fit by following social or theraputic expectations, guidelines and filters, but those relationships will rarely develop the spark of life that promotes true growth.


Well this post managed to slide a little sideways from where I intended, but I think it fits with the thread well enough to submit. I appreciate the oportunity to explore this without getting bogged down in "evidence based practice" or theoretical support.


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Thanks very much guys.


James it's interesting to hear a non-technical but informed take on why it is that being at the bench has a healing effect.


Thanks again



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