What is Mind-Body Medicine?

Mind-body medicine is based on the scientific understanding of the inextricable connection among our thoughts, sensations and feelings, and our mind, body, and spirit – between ourselves and the social and natural world in which we live. It focuses on the interactions between mind and body; and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly relieve stress and improve health. It is used with individuals, groups, and entire populations.

Mind-body skills are scientifically validated to reduce stress and restore physical and psychological health. The mind-body approach heals individual trauma and builds community-wide resilience.

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) approach to wellness is grounded in practical, evidence-based skills for self-care, self-awareness, and group support. It emphasizes an approach that respects and enhances each person’s capacity for self-knowledge and self-care.


What’s the science behind it?

Mind-body approaches use the conscious mind to directly affect the workings of the brain and the rest of the body. The techniques exert their effect on the hypothalamus, the switching station in the brain, which exercises control over the autonomic nervous system (which controls heart rate, blood pressure etc.), the endocrine (glandular) system and the immune system.

The scientific literature on these approaches is now rich and robust. Studies dating from the late 1960’s have shown the power of mind-body techniques to balance the over-activity of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (“the fight or flight” and “stress” responses) which is implicated in many physical and emotional diseases and conditions, with parasympathetic nervous system stimulation that promotes relaxation.

More recently, these techniques have been demonstrated to create beneficial changes in many of the body’s physiological responses (including blood pressure, stress hormone levels, pain response and immune functioning) and to make a significant clinical difference in conditions as diverse as hypertension, HIV, cancer, chronic pain, and insomnia as well as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Who is the Center for Mind-Body Medicine?

The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) was founded in 1991 by James S. Gordon, MD, a former researcher at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, a clinical professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and former chair of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Over the last 25 years, CMBM’s 160 global faculty members and 5,000 trained clinicians, educators, and community leaders have successfully brought programs of self-care and group support to schools and universities, hospitals and clinics, social welfare agencies, and community-based organizations around the world. Programs have been implemented in areas touched by conflict, terrorism and natural disasters abroad in Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Israel, Gaza, Haiti, as well as in post-Katrina southern Louisiana and with US Military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The CMBM’s work has easily been integrated into and is compatible with different cultures and their belief systems.


Who is the The Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative?

The Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative, which has been endorsed and adopted as a part of Health Action, is a three-year, community-wide initiative that will implement an evidence-based resilience program utilizing CMBM’s curriculum and deep expertise. The vision for the Collaborative is to develop our local capacity for healing, empower lay people with comprehensive tools, build the social connections that are the number one predictor of community resilience, and prevent the progression of stress and trauma into more serious social, mental, physical, and social impacts. The train-the-trainer model will reach over 8,000 residents and ripple out to tens of thousands more as we integrate this shared language into our work and personal lives.

The Collaborative is led by a steering group, which is also expanding its membership to ensure diverse engagement with all our target communities. Santa Rosa Community Health is providing leadership and administrative backbone for the Collaborative. Current members include:

The Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative has been endorsed and adapted as a part of Sonoma County Health Action.


What is the commitment I’m making?

This is a professional training program and full attendance is required. Participants commit to 100% attendance at the 4-day (June 2019) Initial Training Program, as well as the 4-day Advanced Training Program ( July 2019). Please expect that the training days will last from about 8 AM – 5:30 PM. The training will be offered in Spanish.

Participants also commit to running at least one workshop and one mind-body skills group during the year under the supervision of Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) faculty. Supervision involves approximately one-hour weekly calls for twelve weeks with your small group and CMBM faculty lead. This ongoing support and small group connection is cited as one of the most valuable aspects of the training by past participants.

Organizations sending people to the training are asked to support trainee attendance through paid time off, professional development time, and other accommodations as possible.

50 stipends of up to $100/per day are available to support those who cannot take paid time off or to help with additional childcare or travel expenses. Apply here. [link to application]


Am I right for this program?

Since space will be limited in this program, we have developed the following guidelines to identify applicants who will be best positioned to work with local communities, institutions, organizations or underserved populations in Sonoma County. The training will be offered in Spanish. Together, the Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative and Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) will make the selections based on the following criteria.