Mind & Heart: A Mindful Path to Wholehearted Living

f7abac252ae5ed68121b92ba7a669d87_LThis workshop for professionals is a 3-day intensive for individuals who want to further their own healing and for those who assist others in the healing journey. This workshop acknowledges that many people have encountered difficult situations as children and as adults: trauma, abuse, neglect, break-ups, betrayal, disappointment, failures, illness, loss, and grief. Yet, humans are resilient creatures – they generally find ways to survive. However, surviving isn’t the same as thriving! Indeed, many times the very adaptations that helped people to survive get in the way of really living life wholeheartedly.

Psychiatrist, researcher, teacher, and workshop designer, Jon Caldwell, DO, PhD, will personally facilitate the workshop. The Mind & Heart workshop is a scientifically researched intervention that entails a mixture of highly informative material and experiential exercises using mindfulness and compassion. Because these ancient practices will be applied in unique ways to heal past wounds, people of various skill levels with mindfulness can benefit from the workshop. Also, the practice of mindfulness and compassion does not need to interfere with workshop participants’ spiritual beliefs, but can serve to deepen existing belief systems. All that is needed is a curious mind, a willing heart, and an intention to heal!

16.0 Continuing Education Credits or NBCC Clock Hours Available

Cost: $1500 per person, all inclusive of two meals on Friday, three meals Saturday, one meal Sunday, lodging at Rio Retreat Bunkhouse, and ground transportation from and back to the Phoenix Airport.

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Rio Retreat Center Brain Spa is OPEN

0e09527b0f5edaa60cf5702119e6a0a2_LThe WHY of biofeedback has been incorporated into the Monday psycho-educational lecture. There has been a  big response with workshop participants using the brain spa,  mornings, evenings and during lunch breaks!

The Brain, Heart, Body connection at RIO:

  • CES  – Cranial Electro- Stimulation –  the  CES stimulates ALPHA WAVES, increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain
  • HRC – Heart  Rate Coherence  –  Reduces  stress,  Develops self-awareness of internal reactions
  • Chi Machine most beneficial to the heart and lungs.  Increase lymphatic flow and improves the immune system.

WHY?  These machines support a positive feedback loop between positive emotions and good physical health.

We need to teach ourselves how our brains and bodies work; being in control of ourselves requires becoming familiar with our inner world and accurately identifying what scares, upsets, or delights us.

You can be fully in charge of your life only if you can acknowledge the reality of your body, in all its visceral dimensions.”
― Bessel A. van der KolkThe Body Keeps the Score

For more information call (866) 816-0139.

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New Focus on Childhood Trauma and Healing for Adults


I recently came across a blog written by ACEs Connection member Elizabeth Prewitt titled, For the first time, SAMHSA’s annual children’s mental health event focuses on trauma.”  In the article, Ms. Prewitt writes, “It is both remarkable and natural that the theme of the 2018 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) May 10th Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event was “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma”. It was remarkable to hear “ACEs” and “trauma-informed” roll off the tongues of all the federal officials (some seasoned, some new appointees in the Trump Administrsation). And natural as the awareness of ACEs science grows at lightning speed…at least it feels that way.”

It was certainly exciting to learn that the SAMHSA event aligned so closely with the mission of ACEs Connection: to accelerate the global ACEs science movement, to recognize the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in shaping adult behavior and health, and to promote trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies in all communities and institutions. Strategies for making child-serving systems more trauma-informed is a subject near and dear to my own heart.

Before coming to work for Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows as a Survivors Workshop facilitator, I worked with children and adolescents in residential treatment for seven years. The agency was amazing and provided consistent, compassionate, therapeutic and psychiatric long-term care for kids in the residential program. The agency also provided services for children and families in several equally effective programs. It was very rewarding and fun to work with the team, the children, and their families. Even though the children and adolescents returned to better home situations, I imagine that there are effects in their lives as adults because they had high ACEs scores (click here for your ACEs score).

Adults who have faced adverse childhood experiences such as physical, sexual and verbal abuse; physical and emotional neglect; a family member with addiction or mental illness; witnessing abuse; or losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason can find help in The Meadows family of programs and services. Adults with a history of childhood trauma may be resilient and have learned to adapt but often times they have problems with health, relationships, addictions, anxiety, or mood disorders.

Specifically designed to address childhood trauma, The Meadows signature workshop, Survivors,  is a five-day experience conducted in a group format. Survivors has been in existence for over 30 years and has served many thousands of inpatients as well as outpatients.

Prior to attending Survivors, participants complete a questionnaire covering the basics of their family while growing up. On the first day of the workshop, participants learn about Pia Mellody’s Developmental Immaturity Model.  I think Pia’s model is genius, and like to call it “the guidebook for life that we never got.” Participants gain insight into how the relational trauma and abuse during childhood affect their relationship with themselves and others.

From a very young age, even before we acquired speech, we learned to take the energetic pulse of our home. We learned to be sensitive to the moods, desires, and expectations of those around us. Being dependent on our caregivers for our survival, we often developed more sensitivity to the feelings of others than to our own. We also took in the messages that were given to us about who we needed to be and who we could not be.

As adults, we can feel confused about who we are or believe that we need to have another’s approval to feel okay.  We can think and feel that our value and worth is based on looking pretty or being the highest achiever. We can think that we have to achieve in specific ways to have value, and if we don’t, then we feel worthless. We can even believe that nothing we do is ever good enough. These painful struggles are a result of relational trauma and abuse.

The healing recovery work done is Survivors is not about blaming or bashing parents or other caregivers. It is truly about healing from the past in order to be more balanced and functional. Often the parenting styles are generational. The definition of abuse we use is “anything less than nurturing or experienced as shaming.”

The Survivors workshop is popular because it is effective. People walk away feeling lighter, more open, and connected with themselves after releasing the energy surrounding the trauma experiences. We often have individuals come to the workshop who have been referred by a family member or friend after having noticed the changes. Frequently, we hear workshop participants say, “Everybody should do this! Everyone can benefit from this!” and “This should be taught in schools.” People walk away with a sense that they have made a difference, not only in their own lives but in the family legacy that they pass on to future generations.

All of The Meadows programs provide trauma-informed treatment specific to the specialized program. It is a privilege to be a part of this premier provider of leading-edge trauma treatment. I feel very hopeful knowing that SAMHSA’s annual Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day spotlighted the need for trauma-informed and resilience-building practices and policies for children. This is a great step forward for the field of trauma treatment and future generations of children will benefit from this increased focus and funding.

If you are interested in attending a Survivors workshop, please call our intake department at 1-866-457-3202.  For more information, click on the following link:


By Nancy Minister, MC, Survivors Therapist

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5 Ways To Make Your Home More Peaceful During National Stress Awareness Month

105018191-GettyImages-182964964.1910x1000For Americans working hard to perform well at their jobs, the cost of success may come in the form of poor health, stress and burnout, an issue many can tackle during National Stress Awareness month in April.

Roughly 63 percent of U.S. workers said they regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, to combat work-related stress, according to a Statista survey of over 17,000 adults.

Though leaving stress behind at work may seem difficult, happiness expert and Fortune 100 adviser Michelle Gielan says having a more positive and optimistic life at home only requires minor tweaks to your day-to-day habits.

“I don’t think you need a major overhaul in your life. You just need consistent, small habit changes to make a difference,” Gielan tells CNBC Make It. “If we don’t stop to think about the culture at home, there is a chance we’re not creating an environment that is actually the best it can be and make us the happiest possible.”

Gielan founded the Institute for Applied Positive Research along with her husband Shawn Achor, a former Harvard University lecturer and fellow researcher on positive psychology. Over the past 11 years, they’ve trained companies and schools to be more positive through their work as consultants at GoodThink.

In addition to writing several of their own books, they have also worked with Oprah Winfrey for an OWN Lifeclass course on happiness.

Even as renowned happiness experts, Gielan says she and her husband recently felt stressed at home because of work.

“It was hard to watch him be stressed and under the pressure of deadlines while also keeping up with things he had going on in his life both professionally and personally,” Gielan says. “And then me as a spouse, to watch him feeling stressed, I felt helpless oftentimes.”

Here are the five simple steps Gielan says they followed to create a stress-free environment at home.

Discuss the issue with those you live with

Whether you, your partner or someone you share a home with is stressed, Gielan recommends getting everyone together over dinner or beers to sit and talk.

“This is a really important first step because, through this conversation, you’re identifying a challenge that everyone is experiencing,” Gielan says.

Today, 51 percent of Americans turn to their family or friends when they feel stressed, while 38 percent try to withstand the stress alone, according to another 2017 Statista survey.

This conversation will help those living together create a new culture at home. For example, Gielan and her husband decided there would be no more work talk after 5 p.m. or over the weekends.

“Talking through what that new culture would look like can involve everyone in the process and invest them more deeply in creating a more positive outcome,” Gielan adds.

Use positive visual cues

Whether it’s the photos by your desk or an inspiring quote by your nightstand, Gielan notes that visual cues are a low-effort way to cheer yourself up.

“We often underestimate the value that visual reminders can play in our lives,” Gielan says.

These cues trigger your brain to think of a good memory, she explains, which then elicits a positive emotion. The practice can also help you form positive habits through anchoring, or creating an automatic connection between two pieces of information.

For example, Gielan wanted her son to think “I love reading,” so she posted photos around the house of him smiling while reading books. This eventually helped her son visually reinforce the thought “I like to read.”

Visual reminders can also show that you’ve accomplished a goal in the past and are capable of doing so again.

Put the tech away

Gielan’s favorite step in decreasing stress at home was putting tech away.

“Shawn and I both realized we unconsciously grabbed our phones and were checking our email or social media, which we didn’t need to be doing at that moment,” Gielan says.

To keep her from automatically reaching for her phone, Gielan placed the device in a zip-top bag and tied a rubber band around it.

“Every time I went for my phone, there was more activation energy needed to be able to look at it and it served as a reminder that hey, this isn’t what you wanted to be doing, so just leave it in the bag,” she says.

On your laptop, you can put a sticky note on it that says, “How about journaling?” or “How about going for a run?” to put your mind toward that habit you want to create instead.

‘Take a break’


Gielan says it’s key to take some downtime when you get home from work.

“Take a break — from the moment you walk in the door through dinner — and be fully present,” Gielan says. “Engage in some rejuvenating activity because if you have to go back to work later in the day, you’re going to go back with a better mindset.”


For example, Gielan says to avoid complaining about work and recommends beginning a more positive conversation.

Instead of asking, “How was your day?” where the response can head in any direction, Gielan says to ask a leading question such as, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What is the coolest thing you learned?”

“This prompts them to look for an answer to fit the kind of question you’re asking,” Gielan says. “It also encourages their brain to scan for the most positive or meaningful part of their day and doesn’t result in what a lot of us do, which is starting off with the negative.”

Get the right amount of sleep

Gielan says sleep is crucial to avoiding feeling stressed at home.

By getting more sleep, “you’re setting yourself up to have a better day,” Gielan points out, given “the brain processes things differently when it’s low on resources.”

“Unfortunately, corporate America tells us that we need to work tons of hours all the time, but the reality is that our bodies need to rest and rejuvenate in order to perform at its best,” she says.

Although getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night might lessen time spent on work, Gielan says it’s actually an investment in our performance.

Once Gielan made these small changes in her life, she says she experienced a greater sense of control over her life and connection to her husband.

“It did wonders all around,” she says. “It led to an improvement in our relationship because his stress decreased and I felt like I was being helpful.”

Gielan adds, “He, in turn, helped me feel accountable when I was not bagging up my technology and I felt like it was good for our son as he watched the changes we were undergoing.”

The changes may not have been huge, but “they had huge results.”


“I wasn’t just subject to the demands of the external world, I was more consciously creating the life that I wanted to live,” she says.


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