Stephanie Fungsang

Occupational Therapist (OTR/L)

September Update: Learning new things, especially about my process of not knowing

Back to School Fever... 

"The Revolutionary Practice of Mind Body Medicine"

Actively seeking out new knowledge and education is something I respect and always strive to make a constant habit, either by reading and research (books, articles, and blogs) or by attending workshops and trainings. I even consider the weekly classes that I take with my teachers part of my continuing education; all of these experiences inform my work as an evolving student, teacher, and human being.

Last week I took a slightly bigger step and traveled to Boston to immerse myself in a week-long continuing education course titled "The Revolutionary Practice of Mind Body Medicine," which was held at Harvard Medical School and presented by the Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine at MGH (Mass General Hospital). For anyone who is interested in learning more about any subject or field, regardless of occupation, I would highly recommend continuing education courses. Many universities have a department of continuing education and often the courses do not require a semester-long commitment.  
Check out these links for more info:

Harvard Medical School's Continuing Ed:
The Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine:

The course/conference I fortuitously came upon while doing some education research was a Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm intensive, which made it a dense but exciting week of lectures, workshops and networking. I met people from all over the country and world, in all different medical professions, who were interested in incorporating more mind body medicine aspects into their practices. You can imagine I spent every free moment trying to pick peoples' brains about their professions and work/life styles. The professors and lecturers were all incredibly knowledgeable, and of course most importantly, the content was fascinating and had me on the edge of my seat every moment.  I have over 600 pages of documents to go through and am still processing all of the information inside my brain!

The Benson Henry Institute (BHI) is directed by Herbert Benson MD, who coined the term, and wrote the book by the title, The Relaxation Response.  This is an important biological process that is elicited by various techniques, and counters the harmful results of too much stress.  Stress is a normal and important thing that all organisms experience: essentially it is what we experience in response to an external or environmental threat. As humans we developed this ancient survival technique/ability called the Stress Response, also known as the "fight or flight" response, in case we had to flee from a predatory animal or a dangerous situation.  However, stress becomes unhealthy when the constant loading of stress becomes unmanageable, and essentially, leads to disease and other physical, mental, or emotional ailments.   

Throughout this course we learned about what happens on a cellular and cognitive level (lots of science!) when the human brain/body is under stress, and also what happens when it is relaxed.  There are many studies that show that relaxation techniques (meditation, focused breathing, yoga, etc.) can reverse the negative effects of stress, and also establish positive results regardless of the presence of stress.  There were presentations by psychiatrists, nurses, nutritionists, sleep specialists, naturopaths, and more.  Other than learning about these subjects, one of the most rewarding things about the week was having evidence-based studies to refer to that said this really works
It's inspiring for me as I continue to research and feel out what area/field I'm interested in pursuing to develop my career, and carve out a space for my passion to help people to feel good.  I'm also excited to integrate some of the information and skills that I learned into my current yoga classes.  Check back soon for an updated teaching schedule!

The Uncomfortable but Fruitful Process of Self-Exploration, Searching, and Taking the Next Right Step...

For those of you out there who might--like me--be seeking out an area of real passion, feeling uncertain as you make life and career transitions, or quite simply, just don't know what you're doing, you may be comforted or inspired to know that you are not alone, that it isn't hopeless, and that good things happen to those who seek it out.
I was almost at my wit's end in August when I was seeking out various health/wellness-related career paths and trying to negotiate within myself and to those around me how I could manage this supposed 'career transition', while continuing to dance and pursue this vague but present desire to create and perform with my body. I've known for a while that I won't be doing dance as a career for my whole life, or even much more beyond the near future, but at the moment I also don't feel ready to stop.  It's a difficult place to be--in between professional worlds and personal goals.  

I decided at the very least that I needed to take the step to do something that would help me feel in motion, productive, in a process, etc (perhaps please my parents or those pressures from within and without myself) and I sat down to find some continuing education (at the suggestion of a friend), courses, volunteerism, internships, whatever I could find, in the health/wellness field. One thing led to another on this magical thing we called the internet, and I discovered the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine (I had been told vaguely of some organization in Massachusetts, and with only a few google combinations of words I found it). With some more digging, I found that they offered training programs (through MGH/Harvard), and then I finally found this course which was to happen in a matter of weeks. I took the dive to find out if I could even take it, as it lists only tuition for "MD's and Healthcare Professionals", and as I am neither, even if they accepted me I didn't know if I'd be able to keep up with the material. 
Well not only was I able to register, when I took a leap of faith to ask for the possibility of tuition assistance (asking for things has never been easy for me), I was able to fill a partial scholarship spot that I wouldn't even have known existed had I not inquired.
I was beyond thrilled and grateful for this opportunity, and couldn't believe how things had somehow fallen into place when I thought things were just going to keep falling.  And I knew that I had gone through one of those challenging moments when "the next right step" is unclear, or even discouraging, and yet I put my intention out there and took a step anyway. Easier said than done, but this has taught me that things are possible if we can get out of our own way, and take a risk without taking it so seriously.

Well who knows where it'll lead me to now. But at the very least I had the privilege of absorbing an amazing week of education in a field I'm interested in working in; I now have a new source of information and resources to turn to; I have a handful of new contacts; most importantly, I've gained the confidence to know that if I simply ask for it, good things can happen (ie, don't be afraid to ask). 

One of my favorite lecturers of the week reminded us that at each moment, our minds have the ability to decide whether to feel negative or positive about the situation we face (unfortunately it's the negative pathway that's easier for most of us); that in the morning when you wake up, you can either crawl back into bed, or you can say, "bring it."


Thanks for taking the time to visit!
Questions? ---->