By Dr. Viktor Paul Giangrasso
Children need us. This goes without saying. However, they need us more than ever in 2023 America. According to multiple major media sources and the Centers for Disease Control, rates of obesity, depression, and suicidal thoughts continue to rise in children. The most tragic example of this, which can no longer be denied, is emergency room visits by families with children expressing suicidality.
Stories of emergency-room doctors “begging for assistance” because they are overwhelmed by the volume of children experiencing these symptoms are on the rise. Professor of Psychiatry, Chief of the Division of Mood Disorders, and Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, was recently quoted saying: “By the time someone needs to see a child psychiatrist, the illness is quite severe and significant… We need to become much more vigilant in schools, in primary care pediatric practices, [to] identify these kids much earlier so we can intervene before they get to this severe state.”
What can the average person do to aid in stemming the tide? Parents, grandparents, educators, clinicians, and government officials can provide the most empowering human quality we all have the capacity for: a compassionate and curious presence. To listen to a child with an open, compassionate heart is the most powerful force on the planet. We must arrive at a deep understanding that children are not the ones who require change; and dismissiveness, condemnation, or judgment regarding their feelings does not help them.
The Change Starts with Us
The citizens, along with the current conventional systems in place must change. We must shift our beliefs from historically inadequate “top-down” approaches (think: dysfunctional family patterns, more technology, additional financial resources, or increasing pharmacological interventions) to “bottom up” beliefs and approaches. Put another way, we must reconnect with and empower ourselves first to positively impact the children of America who need us.
How do we do this? We must question our fundamental assumptions regarding what we believe is an effective use of our time and look critically at our definition of being “productive”. You and I must understand it is our responsibility to guide children in making healthier choices that impact their mental and physical wellbeing. We must not rely so heavily on conventional medical and educational institutions to protect, educate, and heal our children. As adults, we must learn to be fully present in body/mind and demonstrate healthy habits for our children so they learn how to properly self-regulate and nurture themselves from our example.
Regardless of culture, socioeconomic status, or historical context, when a human being is first born and before we are capable of verbally articulating our needs with words, we must first breathe independently and move as we are able. At birth, we are pure potential and move in our own unique way.
This is our primal statement, and thus, the foundation of The R2E Method.
A Three-Pronged Approach
In the forthcoming BioBites webinar on November 7th, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. ET, I will briefly discuss each of the three components of my method, and we will practice these basic techniques together. The R2E Method consists of: mindful meditative breathing, bodily postural awareness, and positive thought affirmations.
Mindful meditative breathing is a practice thousands of years old whose health benefits have been well documented by science. You will learn basic practices and will be able to utilize them throughout your day for healthy nervous system regulation.
Bodily postural awareness is an absolute necessity for healthy human movement at any age. There are four specific postural muscle groups that you will learn to reconnect with in your body to incorporate in daily movement practices immediately. Healthy movement is essential for mental wellbeing.
Positive thought affirmations impact how we interact with ourselves and others in the multitude of environments we find ourselves in each day. I will not tell you what affirmations to think in this webinar, however, I will provide some that I use, and you will have the opportunity to choose or continue to use those that work for you.
When mindful breathing techniques, bodily postural awareness, and positive thought affirmations are practiced simultaneously, first with me, then in solitude, and ultimately within each moment of our daily lives, you and I reconnect with ourselves in deeply profound ways.
When we as adults reconnect more deeply with ourselves with presence, we are exercising curiosity and compassion in our individual body/mind. We are then empowered to be more present with one another. This is the greatest treasure we can provide ourselves, other adults in positions of influence, and for the future of America, our children.