Research

Research Underlying The Now Technique®

The Now Technique® comes out of a multidisciplinary background and is grounded in research in neurobiology, meditation, bodywork, developmental psychology, and psychotherapy. It is an integrated life practice that addresses body, heart, mind, shadow, and spirit, and draws from research in all these fields.

The Relationship of The Now Technique® to Neurobiology

Neuroscientists tell us that there are nine differentiated realms that define the mind. Each of these nine domains describes a different system by which we learn and organize information and each can be developed through mindful awareness. When one of these domains is out of sync – not integrated – it affects our functioning in that area, and, of course, the functioning of our entire system. When trauma overwhelms our mind, brain, and relationships, fragmenting us and impairing the linkage between them, the result is chaos and rigidity in our system1. Most of us are out of sync in one or more of these  domains due to past conditioning. The Now Technique® helps us to regulate, integrate, and reorganize these domains so that they are fully functional. When all parts are integrated and feeding the center of our person, we are able to experience the peace of non-dual consciousness, our natural state.

When we use The Now Technique®, we use conscious attention to cultivate self-regulation and inquiry to allow integration and self-organization to emerge.

Self-regulation

As we apply the skills of “I FOCUS” and “I INQUIRE,” we practice focusing attention on bodily sensations, emotions, images, and thoughts while in a relaxed yet alert state. By doing this, we activate the different parts of the brain responsible for sensations, emotions, images, and thoughts. We also become aware of the beliefs, goals, and societal expectations and other influences that we have internalized and the conclusions we have drawn about them. When any of these are in conflict with one another, our internal processes become chaotic or rigid, and we cannot act in an integrated way. Practicing the skills of I FOCUS” and “I INQUIRE” allows us to observe these aspects of our being from a place of peace and acceptance which leads to integration.

The first step in this process is self-regulation. As we cultivate the state of alert relaxation, we increase communication between the middle prefrontal cortex, and the brainstem and limbic system (the amygdala), thereby regulating our body and our emotions. As we continue to access this state, an increased internal sense of safety and trust in our body, brain, and heart develops.

As we continue to practice, we more easily access the positive resources supported by the prefrontal cortex, including the ability to learn more rapidly. We experience increased clarity in intention and a strengthening of attention, and thus develop more effective and efficient problem-solving and decision- making strategies. Focusing attention in a mindful way leads to the development of neural fibers which assist in modifying the experience of the emotions (for example, fear)2. We begin to weaken the hold of the “uncontrollable emotions” that run our lives, which demonstrates the principle of neuroplasticity whereby the brain can change throughout our lives. This new research contradicts prior research that the brain is fixed and cannot change.3

In general, self-regulation increases flexibility and adaptability and allows people to adjust more easily to daily societal and situational demands. It can reduce impulsiveness and allow us to do what we choose to do rather than what we are driven to do.

Integration

The Now Technique® teaches us to observe our body sensations, emotions, images, and thoughts in a holistic way thus providing us with an opportunity to reintegrate these various parts of our psyche, linking together the distinct modes of information processing into a functional whole. Daniel Siegel, a neuropsychiatrist at the leading edge of neurobiology and neuroplasticity research, has postulated that this process of integration is the fundamental mechanism of health, “a core process essential for mental well-being within the individual and the family, and perhaps fundamental for the healthy functioning of a nurturing community”4.

The Now Technique® paves the way to coherent functioning in the brain and, because this process includes multiple aspects of ourselves – affect and emotion, physiology and motor movement, and communication and interaction with others – it leads to coherence of brain, body, and heart. The result of this integration and subsequent coherence is increased self-organization.

When we use The Now Technique® we flow from self-regulation to integration to self-organization in a continuous loop of healing.

The relationship of The Now Technique® to Meditation Practices.

In meditation a practitioner may attempt to get beyond the reflexive, “thinking” mind into a deeper or more relaxed state. The Now Technique® encompasses both “thinking” and “meditative” states. “I FOCUS” cultivates a parasympathetic, more meditative response, and “I INQUIRE” cultivates a sympathetic, more aroused response. The use of “I FOCUS” concurrently with “I INQUIRE” leads to a balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic responses.  Thus, we use a meditative state (“I FOCUS,”) to cultivate fluidity, openness, relaxation, and alertness. When we use the skill of “I INQUIRE” in this state, we are able to calmly investigate (instead of avoiding) different aspects of our experience and transform our relationship to them.

The Relationship of The Now Technique to Somatic Understanding.

The “I FOCUS” skill that we use in The Now Technique® is based upon of the Relaxation Response as defined by Herbert Benson and research findings from mindfulness practices5. The Relaxation Response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress. Elicitation of the relaxation response results in decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension. All of this results in the reduction of the stress response. We come into a state of balance and are able to focus on the present moment instead of being paralyzed by it or trying to avoid it.6

The “I INQUIRE” and “I FOCUS” skills of The Now Technique® also draw from the work of several other somatically-oriented researchers who have concerned themselves with how a history of trauma can lead to suppression or dissociation of body sensations and suppression or escalation of emotions.7 Accurate processing of body sensations may be overshadowed by emotional arousal, and may leave the person confused as to whether he or she is experiencing an emotion or a body sensation in any given moment. When this happens, the body does not have a chance to process and integrate the experience. “Traumatized individuals are plagued by the return of dissociated, incomplete or ineffective sensorimotor reactions in such forms as intrusive images, sounds, smells, body sensations, physical pain, constriction, numbing and the inability to modulate arousal”8. When sensation and emotions are not fully assimilated, in addition to the consequences of dysregulation in the body mentioned above, body patterns based on triggers for trauma or traumatic events may be developed to protect one from perceived danger. These patterns can lead to avoiding or being avoided by others.9

The “I INQUIRE” and “I FOCUS” skills bring body sensations, and emotions back into awareness so that the unhealthy body patterns can be identified, integrated and reorganized.

The Relationship of The Now Technique® to Developmental Psychology and Psychotherapy

The Now Technique® uses research from developmental psychology (especially attachment theory) to create practices that help people to go from a state of insecure attachment to a state of secure attachment and thereby develop more healthy relationships.

The role of attachment in early life is critical to how people learn to experience and regulate their emotions, and how well they can modulate stress and trauma.10 How we interact with others depends upon the kind of attachment that we experienced as a child.

Parents who create secure attachment tune in to the child’s state of mind, are present and consistent for their child, communicate in ways that are predictable and sensitive, and provide a positive environment for their child to create a basic sense of trust in the world. They continually bring the child back into a sense of well-being and help the child to relax.11

Insecure attachment (which can be developed in response to parents who are distant, absent, emotionally unavailable, neglectful, rejecting, hostile, dissociated, emotionally inconsistent and unpredictable, disoriented, frightening and/or chaotic12) can result in children being withdrawn, disengaged, isolated, dissociated, ambivalent, and/or shut down.

The skills of “I FOCUS” and “I INQUIRE” help us to bring up and integrate patterns underlying the kind of attachment we learned in our childhoods.

Psychotherapeutic research tells us that interpretation of current situations depends upon networks of physically stored memories13. Subsequent perceptions incorporate earlier dysfunctional emotions, thoughts/beliefs, and sensations.

Other psychotherapeutic approaches attempt to bring unconscious material, unresolved issues, suppressed memories, childhood (and other) trauma, shadow, etc. to the surface, so that work can be done to treat, resolve, release or integrate this material. The skill of “I INQUIRE” gently elicits the sensations, emotions, images, and thoughts that have risen from repeated experiences. These experiences have been stored as memories in the body and become interwoven as patterns. When we bring these patterns to awareness through The Now Technique®, we gain greater functionality and coherence.


1 Siegel, D. J. M

2 Siegel, D. J. The Mindful Therapist:  A Clinician’s Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration.  Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology.  W.W. Norton & Company, 2010

3 Ibid. p 70

4 Benson, MD http://www.relaxationresponse.org/ Benson, H., and Proctor, W., 2011; Siegel, 2010; Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are.  New York:  Hyperios.  1994:4.

5 Ogden, P. Trauma and the Body:  A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy, 2006.

6 Levine, 2010; Ogden, P. and Minton, K. “Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:  One Method for Processing Traumatic Memory” Traumatology, Volume VI, Issue 3, Article 3, October, 2000

10 Ogden, 2000, pp. 1-2

11 Ogden, 2000; Levine, 2010

12 Ogden 2000

13 Poole Heller, D.  How Attachment Affects the Treatment of Trauma.  The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine, Trama Teleseminar Series, June, 2011

14 Siegel, 2010