Life at Spring Lake Ranch offers a rich and healing environment that includes exposure to and immersion in nature, work crew, community-based lifestyle, and clinical interventions. As a Clinician here at the Ranch, I enjoy finding ways to help Ranchers integrate their daily work crew and community life with their mental health and wellness.
Recently, I created an educational, leader-driven Wellness Group that brings awareness to the three components of body, mind, and soul and how they connect.
The first few modules of the 10-week long group centered on nutrition and exercise. There are many recommendations in the mental health field about nutrient-rich diets and their impact on mood, which we explored in depth. In our first meeting we discussed nutrient-dense foods while creating a delicious guacamole which everyone loved. People were genuinely surprised to see how easy it was to make and enjoyed learning about the health benefits of the humble avocado. We also explored information regarding systemic inflammatory disease, discussing its impact on brain and neurological function and how diet can help manage that.
Working within the Polyvagal Theoretical approach, we focused next on the central nervous system and its impact on reactive behaviors, state of mind, and finding ones’ balance. We worked through the three components of vagal, sympathetic, and dorsal nervous systems and the practice of self-regulation. I introduced both yoga and Pilates as practices which can help access the connection between body and mind.
The final sessions explored spirituality, ethics, and life purpose. During this stage we engaged in active discussions around spirituality and the formation of an ethical perspective. The participants were asked to use any form of communication – visual art, music, physical expression, or writing to portray their spiritual connection. Each person took a turn teaching their perspective to the group and we had some amazing results! One of the final projects was a rap performance that had us all feeling it and, with some encouragement, was shared with the whole community at our next open mic.
Wellness Group in its formal iteration concluded after 10 weeks but left behind a continuing interest in yoga among the group. Months have passed and we still meet at the mat and practice yoga together with intention. We enjoy having this casual time to spend a meaningful hour together and continue some of the teachings we learned.