To learn more about Our BEST Space, click here.
BEST Space Summer Hours: 1 pm to 4 pm Tuesdays, 10 am to 6 pm Wednesdays, and 12 pm to 4 pm Thursdays.
Address and directions, click here.
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) was honored to participate in the event, An Athlete’s Journey: Sports and Traumatic Brain Injury, held at the Spokane Public Library in Spokane, Washington on Tuesday, July 9, 2019. It was an evening of connecting, sharing, and important conversations about the impact of brain injury in the sports world.
Highlights of the evening included athletes who shared their personal stories and journey forward; a special screening of the video, Crash Course, from TeachAid.org, on athletes and concussion that was shared by the Concussion Alliance; expert panelists who shared their knowledge; and organizations who provided information, resources and tools to the community.
We’d like to offer our gratitude for the event panelists who were a wealth of information, inspiration and support. Thank you, Ryan Baker, Megan Lusk, Heidi Peterson, Christine Guzzardo, and Ramona Pinto.
BEST was also delighted to partner with event sponsors Northwest Brain Injury Symposium, the Spokane Public Library, Brain Injury Alliance of Washington, Spokane Chapter, Concussion Alliance, and the TBI Council of Washington.
Along with sharing our deep appreciation for the organizations that supported the event by sharing critical information and resources to the public.
Perhaps it is a bath in a forest, literally?
As amazing and interesting as that sounds, forest bathing is indeed different, but in amazing and interesting way, too.
Forest bathing is the holistic experience of simply being in the forest. The activity and health practice was developed in Japan during the 1980’s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
In the United States, it can also be known as nature therapy, ecotherapy or forest therapy.
In studies, forest bathing has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well being.
Following is how you practice forest bathing and some additional resources and links.
How to Practice Forest Bathing
· Put aside a good amount of time for this activity and then find a location in nature that speaks to you.
· Enter the forest, stand still, and recognize your body in space. Don’t be in any hurry. Take in the sights, smells and sounds. Really breathe in the forest and take in the scene around you.
· Proceed with the bath by walking forward mindfully. This is not a fitness walk. This is a meditative stroll. The pace is slow.
· Reflect to yourself (or reflect out loud if you wish) what you are noticing around you.
· Find a good place to sit (if possible) and sit in that location for reflection (try to aim for 15 to 20 minutes if possible).
· You needn’t go very far. A small distance will do. Some forest bathers only trek a quarter to half a mile maximum.
· Don’t be afraid to use the sense of touch in your forest bath. Run your hand gently over the bark of a tree. Touch a delicate leaf on a shrub. Think about the experience and reflect on what you’ve learned.
· Even though it sounds simple at first, forest bathing takes a little practice and time to be able get the best benefits. Be patient and gentle with yourself and practice often!
· A good book on forest bathing: Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature by M. Clifford Amos.
· A great overall website for forest bathing (including information on forest bathing guides/therapist): Association of Nature & Forest Therapy Guides & Programs
BESTies, what do you think of forest bathing? For local BESTies in Washington State, our area has LOTS to offer the forest bather. Would this be an activity that you would be interested in? Let us know your thoughts by emailing Kim T. at email@example.com.
We’d love to seek your input. Thank you!
What are superheroes made of?
Now, what if we had the opportunity to answer that question and explore the answers through art?
How would that look like?
This painting above has vibrant colors. We could consider it bold (bold, just like a superhero).
Why are we talking about superhero characteristics?
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) is thrilled and honored to share that we have that very opportunity coming this fall.
BEST is going to be participating in a community art installation at the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM). Work displayed in Tacoma Art Museum’s TAM Local: Community Art Space for the Superhero show from October 16, 2019 to December 26, 2019.
We will have an opening reception Thursday, October 17, 2019 in the TAM Community Art Space.
To learn more about the community art installation program and the museum, please click here.
We are calling all BEST artists throughout Washington State to share your art with us!
Here’s everything you need to know:
WHO: The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) in partnership with the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM).
WHAT: A community art show at the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM). Work displayed in Tacoma Art Museum’s TAM Local: Community Art Space for the Superhero show from October 16, 2019 to December 26, 2019.
We will have an opening reception Thursday, October 17, 2019 from 5 pm to 7:30 pm in the Community Art Space at TAM.
BEST is seeking art from BEST Artists to share in the following forms: paintings, drawings, mixed-media collage, photography, 3D art, or sculpture.
WHEN: October 16, 2019 through December 26, 2019.
WHERE: Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), 1701 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington.
WHY: What are the characteristics of a superhero? What it is about these traits that make superheroes special? The local artists of the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) explore these questions through their art, along with their personal stories of the journey forward after traumatic brain injury. We cordially invite you to join us to celebrate finding our own superpowers, individual empowerment and the ability to thrive through art and artistic expression.
Okay, BEST Artists, let’s see your creativity!
HOW: Here are the steps to get started:
Step 1: Look at the Need to Know section below first to review this project. Requirements met? Great! Move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Think about superheroes. What are the traits of a superhero that stand out to you?
Step 3: Decide how you would answer that question through your art (see words and examples above for a little inspiration).
Step 4: Create your art (or if you have a piece of art that is ready that you’d like to share, feel free to share that with BEST).
Step 5: Tell us about your art. Email Kim Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know what kind of art you’d like to share for the show. Kim will assist you in answering your questions and providing additional information.
We can’t wait to hear about your work!
Need to Know:
BEST Artists, here’s what you need to know to participate!
1. Participating BEST Artists must be affiliated with the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) in one (or more) of the following ways:
a. support group participant
b. support group facilitator
d. board member
e. Our BEST Space participant
f. BEST team member
g. Second Life (PEER Center/BEST) participant
h. BEST primary community partner/supporter/contributor
2. BEST artists must be a brain injury survivor, caregiver of a brain injury survivor or closely work with brain injury survivors in a support capacity.
3. Participating BEST artists must be a Washington State resident.
4. BEST artists will submit artwork to BEST via personal delivery to Our BEST Space in University Place, Washington, or by mail to the BEST mailing address on or before the submission deadline of Thursday, September 12, 2019, 3 pm.
5. BEST artists will provide an artist’s statement and specific details of the artistic medium and materials to BEST along with a photo of their work which may be used for promotional purposes.
6. BEST Artists must agree to have their work(s) displayed for the duration of the show which is October 16, 2019 to December 26, 2019.
7. BEST Artists will understand that BEST reserves the right to not accept an art submission for any reason.
8. BEST Artists understand that they are responsible for framing and having artwork display ready for any submitted artwork as appropriate and within the guidelines outlined by the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) that will be included in the instructions when you contact BEST.
9. For artists outside of the Greater Puget Sound area that wish to submit their work by mail, art must be prepared appropriately for mailing and sent to BEST at the following mailing address: Brain Energy Support Team 3800A Bridgeport Way W. #393 University Place, WA 98466.
10. Need assistance in submitting your work to BEST? Have any questions or concerns about getting your art ready? Please reach out to BEST (Kim Thompson at email@example.com) no later than July 1, 2019 for assistance. We are happy to help you!
11. If artists have 3D works (mixed media collage, sculpture, large works), artists must contact BEST with art project information (size, materials, weight and other pertinent details) at least FOUR WEEKS prior to the art submission deadline of Thursday, August 1, 2019 5 pm. To note, due to space limitations and other guidelines established by TAM, these pieces of artwork must be approved by BEST and TAM in partnership first before submission to the show.
12. After the show, artists are welcome to display their works at Our BEST Space in University Place, Washington, for a time duration that they choose. If the artist would like their work returned to them right after the show, they will need to specify this preference to BEST any time after December 27, 2019. If artists wish to have their work returned, it will be available for pick-up after December 27, 2019 during BEST Space hours of operation or BEST will return works by mail to the artist if requested and the cost is reasonable and sustainable (large and/or heavy works, sculptures or other 3D art will not be eligible for return mail).
Want to feel better and healthier?
Consider tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.
What is tai chi?
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced
as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series
of movements performed in a slow, focused
manner and accompanied by deep breathing.
Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive,
self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching.
Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your
body is in constant motion.
Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may have its own subtle
emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods. There are also
variations within each style. Some may focus on health while
others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.
Who can do tai chi
Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is low impact, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise. You may also find tai chi appealing because it’s inexpensive, requires no special equipment and can be done indoors or out, either alone or in a group.
Interested in checking out tai chi further?
Here are two videos for beginners. Enjoy!
(Editor’s Note: Writer and BEST Guest Blog Contributor, Isaac Peterson returns with a compelling essay on the importance of the human touch. It’s a wonderful reminder for everyone. Thank you, Isaac! KT).
Maybe you remember the time I wrote about how sometimes ideas for a new essay just come to me out of the blue while I’m out walking? Well, it just happened again, about 20 minutes ago.
Let’s see how it goes.
I was thinking about how technology has changed pretty much everything in everyday life. And I thought about how there are people, particularly older people, who haven’t gotten into the swing of things with modern technology. And then it hit me: could it be the lack of human contact? The human touch? It can be so cold and impersonal.
Could that be what holds some people back?
Let me explain what I mean by the human touch with a couple of examples from my own life.
Do you remember the days when you could call a company and a real live human would answer the phone, not some voice mail that often does doesn’t list your problem in the menu options? .
I’m old enough to remember when people pretty much had to go into a music store to buy music or a book store to buy books. I loved doing that.
Now, most people seem to download songs or books from the internet. And that leaves out the part of buying books or music in person.
I loved going into a store and spending hours browsing and shooting the breeze with the clerks in those stores. Finding things I’d never heard of, exchanging recommendations with people who were really into books or music; I found tons of great stuff that way. Online recommendations of stuff based on what you’ve bought before just don’t take the place of those experiences for me. There isn’t an algorithm that can really account for my tastes and preferences.
Those are examples of what I mean by the human touch. (I know, I know I’m using a technological device to criticize technology.)
But Isaac, what does that have to do with traumatic brain injuries?
Hold on—this is going somewhere, I promise.
One of the most important things families, friends and caregivers can do is to interact with the brain injury survivor in their lives; reaching out and making a connection. Making the effort to just get to know you and really understand who you are as a person, what you need, what you go through, and so on.
We all know how important that is, that validation of our humanity and worth that helps us in our recovery.
But it’s also important that we reach back, that we make the sincere effort to understand them as much as we want them to know and understand us. Those kinds of connections are important for anyone, not just brain injury survivors. Making ourselves vulnerable by opening up and letting someone else in leads to deeper, more satisfying and healthy relationships and puts us in a better frame of being that helps ease the way to recovery.
What if you don’t really know anyone who reaches out to you, or who you can reach out to for that human contact? Don’t worry: reaching out works with people you don’t even know, and that I can tell you from personal experience. In line at the store, waiting in a lobby for an appointment, with the pizza delivery guy, you name it, there are all kinds of ways to reach out and have people reach back.
For example, I’ve found that when I’m in public situations and my brain injury brings out my inner klutz, or my short term memory fuzzes out in the middle of conversation, it’s helpful to let somebody know I’m a stroke survivor and have a traumatic brain injury. If I’m holding something and it slips out of my hand and falls, for example, I can say something like, I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to do that. Since I had a stroke, it’s kind of hard to keep focused and not have things like that happen sometimes.
I’ve just let that person know something personal about me. And that just about never fails to start a conversation with somebody I’ve never seen before and will likely never see again.
I’m not looking for sympathy or special treatment; I’m revealing something personal about myself to a stranger and establishing myself as human in their eyes. In my psychology classes they called that self-disclosure, and that human level of discourse helps build bridges with people. I’ve never had anything but a positive reaction from the other person in those situations. Some will tell you about a stroke survivor they know, some will tell you about something they themselves have a problem with, all kinds of things. But it’s never failed to be a positive, life affirming experience, however brief the encounter was.
Sometimes people seem to think I’ve suddenly become interesting and really want to do more than shallow small talk; in doing so, they are establishing their own humanity to you.
That’s one thing you can do. There are others, where you can actively seek out people to connect with.
One such place I recommend is Toastmasters. Have you heard of them?
Toastmasters is a place where a few people meet and everyone is encouraged to speak and there are chapters are all over the country. Sometimes you are given a topic and asked to speak on it right there on the spot. That can be an overwhelming prospect if you’re in the majority of people who are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of dying. I think what’s likely behind that is the fear of being laughed at.
But no matter the topic, if you are nervous, I recommend admitting your nervousness to the group. You might find that after you say that, you can kind of settle into a groove and make it through. But what will likely happen is the audience will relate to you as a real person and give you credit for having the nerve to stand there and take your chances on being laughed at. And people will admire you for reaching out in that way and will reach back. There will be people who will want to know you better.
Yet another place to reach out and make connections with real live humans is a support group. I’ve written about support groups before. They’re great places for (obviously from the name) support and are a great platform for the human contact give and take I’ve been talking about. It’s a great place to reach out and have people reach back.
Being with a group of individuals mutually sharing their pain, challenges, triumphs and all manner of personal information, is a great way to build those deep connections with others and help you come out of your own shell. The more you share, the more people will share with you. The bigger your world will become and the more it will be populated with people who care and understand. It’s also energizing and deeply satisfying.
That’s the point, right?
Those are just two examples of places I could think of to experience human contact. No doubt you can come up with others of your own.
I hope you’ll do more reaching out; your recovery will love it and thank you for it.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.