My name is Gabriel Kram, and I’m grateful that you are here. I am the Founder of Applied Mindfulness, Inc., the Convener of the Restorative Practices Alliance, and the Co-Founder of the Academy of Applied Social Medicine. My team and I have developed this course to support health professionals in deepening their own self-care practice, to support greater resilience, and in support of more effective work serving clients. At the deepest level, our work and organizational mission is about re-establishing safety and connection as the foundation of human culture. Modernity itself arose through systematic disconnection from Self, one another, and the living world. Though this formulation was most directly asserted by Descartes, when he stated that, I think, therefore I am, this line of European thought was the logical extension of a movement away from reciprocal connection and location of identity in the Felt whose imprint is in the very founding stories and mythologies of western civilization. If you'd like to more deeply understand this deviation from the ancestral baseline in safety and connection in its long evolutionary context, watch the first film in the Restorative Practices Film Series, entitled Turning on the Connection System (48 minutes). If you'd like to better understand who we are, and why we do what we do, watch our short film entitled The Origin Story (6 minutes).
Once you are ready to dive into this class, the framework that you are about to be introduced to has emerged in our work over the course of more than twenty years, in working with 40 advisors in 20 disciplines of wellbeing ranging from applied mindfulness to neurophysiology to somatics to anti-racism to deep nature connection to cultural linguistics to indigenous lifeways. It has arisen through the delivery of thousands of trainings for mental health providers, physicians, and frontline staff. For about seven years my primary focus was in delivering applied-mindfulness-informed self-care and resiliency trainings to wellness providers and front-line clinical staff. During this period of time, while we worked with clinics, hospitals, universities, and government systems, we crowd-sourced approaches to self-care and wellbeing from nearly 5,000 providers.
Meta-analyses of successful outcomes in mental health teach us that the relationship between the client and the provider is the single most important determinant of beneficial outcomes for the client. It is important to point out that this relationship is, in fact, more important to outcomes than the modality. Although at first counter-intuitive, this is in fact a deeply hopeful sign, because it illustrates the incredible power of human connection and healthy relationship to heal. Dr. Vincent Felitti, Co-Principal investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) study, likewise notes an incredible increase in wellbeing in patients whose doctors prioritize non-judgmental relationship and support their patients in relation to their ACES.
As a provider, your ability to attune to and connect with your clients is going to be based on, in addition to your relational and tracking skills, your own ability to stay centered, connected, resilient, and in balance. If you are able to do so, if you are able to maintain and transmit a body-based feeling of calm, connection, and equilibrium to your clients, this will support their wellbeing deeply. Yet since you are human, subject to many of the same stressors and challenges that are pushing your clients out of balance, this means that you need profound restorative practices of wellbeing, just like they do. You need a conceptual framework for understanding 1) how your own stress accumulates through overwhelm and encounters with high acuity patients, which drives different neural platforms of behavior in you. You need to understand 2) once these defensive platforms are activated, how you can down-regulate them (the path down from the fight response is different than the bath back from the flight response). And once you've done that, you need to understand 3) how to evoke your own Connection System, and how to train it as your baseline state. Lucky for us all, our nervous systems are neuroplastic, and you've come to the right place, as we may have assembled the world's most sophisticated training system for your Autonomic Nervous System. We are an ancestral neurotechnology cooperative, and we are about to become your personal (neural) trainers.
This course provides you a Polyvagally-informed blueprint that will teach you:
We hope you find the course exceptionally useful. Because this course is introductory in nature, we are not going to assess your performance along the way, yet we encourage you to actively engage in these sessions. If possible, carve out some space and time free of distractions to watch them. Watch them several times. Jot down notes. Reflect on what you are learning, and how it might make its way into your daily routines. The litmus test for this courses' efficacy is whether or not it changes your mind deeply enough to change your behavior. We invite you to think of this course as a restorative practice.
Wishing you, and those you serve, wellness.