Monday, May 15, 2017

The “Brain Buttons” – Acupressure points for releasing stress

I was delighted to be invited by Green Living Arizona, a magazine based here in Phoenix, to contribute a "brain health" article for their May, 2017 publication.

I wondered, "What single aspect of Brain Gym® could their readers put to use immediately, and notice a difference?" And further: "What can I share, simply and clearly, in just 500 words?"

The perfect answer emerged: the Brain Buttons! I modified a portion of what I'd written about this wonderful activity for my book Educate Your Brain - and the magazine publisher loved it. 

Now, I'm imagining each magazine reader pausing, bringing her hand up to find and massage her Brain Buttons, noticing that she's more relaxed and comfortable, breathing more deeply, and even reading more easily! 

I invite you to find out what your own response is to the Brain Buttons! 

The "Brain Buttons" 
Acupressure Points for Releasing Stress

Imagine having one simple movement that you could do almost anytime to bring more clarity to your vision and the feeling of energy and coordination to your whole body. You do—and it’s right at your fingertips!

Take a moment and notice how you’re feeling right now. Is your body tense, or relaxed? Are your thoughts troubled, or calm? Is your breath shallow, or slow and deep? 

Now I invite you to experience what comes of massaging your "Brain Buttons" - one of 26 movements from the Brain Gym® program. 

The Brain Buttons
At the top of your ribcage are your collarbones. Find these horizontal bones and then let your fingers slip downward about an inch or so, until they’re resting over your uppermost ribs, just on either side of your sternum, or breastbone. These spots may feel like slight indentations, or softer than the surrounding area. 
Make a large “U” with your hand and place the thumb on one of the spots, and the fingertips on the other. Massage these points gently but firmly as you rest your other hand over your navel, and allow your eyes to track gently side to side. Do this for perhaps twenty to thirty seconds. (If you experience tenderness, rub gently until it is released or reduced.) Then switch hands for another twenty to thirty seconds. 
What do you notice now in your body – your thoughts – your breathing? 
The Brain Buttons are potent spots in the world of acupressure. They’re the “K-27s” – the 27th points on the Kidney Meridian; massaging them can help to correct imbalances in the entire meridian system. 
When I rub my Brain Buttons on a stressful day, I often find myself exhaling deeply as I feel my body relax. I may notice my shoulders dropping and my posture straightening. Sometimes I feel a release of tension at the back of my neck. Then even my eyes relax, and it’s easier to scan lines of print, or more fully see the world around me. Typically, I feel more awake and focused. 
One evening, after a very demanding day, I was sitting in a theater with my husband, listening to a classical chorale performance. It was wonderful—and long. And the room was dark. Before long, my head was nodding and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Then I thought about Brain Buttons. I quietly brought my hand up and gave those spots a bit of a rub and instantly found myself wide awake! I felt completely alert and refreshed throughout the rest of the evening. 
Brain Buttons Article in Green Living AZ Magazine
While a truly remarkable occurrence like this may not happen every day, I continue to experience smaller, helpful shifts all the time. I often use this movement (sometimes nonchalantly) during long meetings, and in a wide variety of similar situations, to maintain a clear focus and remain at my best.

This article is a modified version of a portion of Educate Your Brain, Kathy Brown’s book about the basics of the Brain Gym® program.

Kathy Brown, M.Ed., is a Licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant. She teaches courses, consults with school districts, writes books and articles, and sees clients in her office in Phoenix, Arizona.
Click here to see the entire May, 2017 issue of Green Living Arizona.

Enjoy coming back into physical comfort and postural alignment, with the Brain Buttons!

With warmest regards,

Kathy Brown, M.Ed.
Educational Kinesiologist
Licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant
Author of Educate Your Brain

Brain Gym® movement photograph Copyright© Laird Brown Photography. All rights reserved
©Copyright 2017 Kathy Brown. All rights reserved.
Original article from Educate Your Brain. Phoenix: Balance Point Publishing LLC. 2012. 17-20.  
Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation  •  Ventura, CA  •
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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Balancing for Reading Success

If you follow this blog, you likely know how much I care about supporting children in reading easily, and how much I value the tools and techniques offered through the Brain Gym program that are so effective in doing just that. If this is new information, you can refer to these links for a start:
You may also know that I dedicated an entire chapter of my book, Educate Your Brain, to the topic of reading. In that chapter, titled "Ready for Reading," I cover many challenges to fluent reading: issues with eye-teaming, eye-tracking, reading comprehension, and more – and and how using Brain Gym can help to overcome them. 
I’m posting here the concluding portion of this chapter, which brings together many of the topics I've covered, and offers a compassionate perspective on those who struggle to read.
And at its end, I share some exciting news about my next writing project, and ask for your feedback, stories, and suggestions, as well.
An excerpt from “Ready for Reading”
In my own practice, I work regularly with clients of all ages who want to address reading issues. Many adults have struggled their whole lives with these challenges, and their outcomes from balancing may be life-altering. And the same changes can turn around a child’s experience of school, and of life, as well.
When I work with youngsters, I always have the parent on hand to observe and participate. It’s often a real eye-opener for a parent to see how much difficulty her child may have with the Cross Crawl, for example, especially once I explain the correlation between lack of coordination and academic challenges. And if we discover that he leads with his left eye, or has other eye-teaming issues, it puts a whole new perspective on the battles over reading she may have had with him, for example.
Then the parent is amazed to see how easily the child may be
 Cross Crawling after his session, and how his reading improves. She is in a perfect position to appreciate changes in her child’s academic performance and attitude in the days that follow and to do Brain Gym movements with him at home.
A very concerned grandmother brought Clark, age eight, for a Brain Gym balance session. Nightly reading practice had become quite a battle at his house. His parents said they could hardly get him to sit and read at all. So I turned to Clark and asked, “Why don’t you like to read?” Clark told me it made his stomach and head hurt.
When I asked Clark to read out loud from a very simple storybook, he read haltingly, miscalling several simple words and completely ignoring the punctuation. He was extremely awkward in the Cross Crawl portion of PACE, and almost fell down as he did it.
At the end of his balance (which included Dennison Laterality Repatterning and a few additional Brain Gym movements), perhaps forty minutes later, Clark picked up the book again and read without hesitation, and without stumbling over the words. He even read with inflection, pausing or stopping at the appropriate punctuation—indicators of true comprehension.
I heard later from the grandmother that when Clark came home that night he had his nose in his book until bedtime, and the next day he enthusiastically read thirty more pages! A note from the grandmother concluded, “His self-esteem is so much higher now. I have never seen such a turnaround in my life. I am a very enthusiastic believer in Brain Gym. Thank you for giving Clark so much hope and help.”
I love telling this story for several reasons. First of all, it shows the profound effects that one Brain Gym balance can have.
Secondly, this is a perfect example to share with teachers. When I finish telling this story, I often mention, “I did no reading practice with Clark; he did no comprehension worksheets. We simply did Brain Gym movements and processes after Clark set his goal to improve his reading. The reading ability and comprehension were waiting to emerge, once his mind-body system was truly prepared.”
Lastly, and most importantly for me, this story illustrates the belief I strongly hold: all children really do want to learn, do well, and get along in school. Think of Clark’s headache and stomachache when he tried to read. Of course he avoided it—wouldn’t you? How many of us sign up to do things that make us feel ill? I would certainly be surprised if someone with motion sickness said, “Oh, boy! We have a long driving trip coming up. I think I’ll sit in the middle of the back seat!” We’d think that person was crazy. But if a child avoids something, we may call him “contrary” and just make him do more of it, because it’s so “good” for him. Perhaps not. Perhaps it’s time to look at why he’s avoiding it and do something about that.
Exactly what shifted for Clark?
It’s impossible to know for sure, but I can certainly make a guess or two based on what Clark told me, what I know about learning challenges, and what I observed in his session.
If someone’s eyes aren’t teaming properly, he can feel uncomfortable (stomachache, headache) trying to bring them to focus on a specific object, like a letter or word. Trying to follow a line of print that seems to move around on him would be extremely disorienting. Think: vertigo.
If the two sides of his brain aren’t sharing information easily, it’s hard for him to create meaning out of words on the page. Attempts at this would require a tremendous amount of effort, leaving him frustrated, confused, exhausted, and with a tendency to avoid it at any cost.
With Clark’s two hemispheres now sharing information more fully, his eyes would find it much easier to cooperate with each other. His right eye would be a stronger lead, or a strong blending partner, and focusing with both eyes would be much more comfortable and require less energy. The “squiggles” of written language would automatically become the meaning of the story.
Just like that, reading can be so much easier. And what’s easy is often fun or rewarding, so we end up doing lots of it. Sometimes, it’s actually just that simple.
So imagine this scenario: you’re the student who simply can’t read (or comprehend, or understand math—and on and on) when others all around you can. How long will your good nature hold before you stop trying and start doing something that’s easy for you? So you begin to draw (or play with your shoelace, or fidget, or find patterns in the ceiling tiles—anything!) and you get into trouble—again, and again, and again. And you keep getting farther and farther behind. Your self-esteem is in shreds, but your energy has to go somewhere; you end up acting out and reap the consequences.
Before long, you begin to think that you really aren’t intelligent, that all the negative messages you’ve received over time must be true, that the wonderful confidence, imagination, joy, and dreams you had as a young child must be false. Years of this create students who end up in alternative schools or juvenile detention, on drugs or alcohol, or pregnant. What career choices does life hold for them? Only the most unusual of students are able to rise above these circumstances.
Now imagine this scenario: again, you’re the student who simply can’t read, when others all around you can. Your teacher recognizes your struggle and introduces integrating movements that help you build the inner capacity to make sense of what’s on the page in front of you. As your ability grows, so does your sense of accomplishment, and you see yourself as someone who can overcome challenges and confidently pursue your studies. Now what’s available to you? A whole world filled with career choices and the means for a happier, more fulfilling life.
The “aha!”
Perhaps now you see why I was so incredibly excited to learn about all the elements that comprise reading and, especially, learning to read. Once I understood the elegant complexity of the systems involved, I had a greater appreciation for where so many learning challenges originate, and I valued the Brain Gym movements and Edu-K balance process even more.
Now, when I explain these concepts during workshops, I love seeing the “aha!” on participants’ faces as they begin to realize just why some of their students or children are having such difficulties. I’m happy knowing that this new perspective will change forever how they view these learners and the issues they’re struggling with, holding the door open for greater patience and compassion in working with them.
I hope your new awareness of these key concepts will inspire you to use simple Brain Gym techniques to begin addressing the source of reading challenges. I look forward to the day when all children read easily—and naturally—because integrating movement has prepared them for learning and achievement.2
I have long considered this chapter on reading to be perhaps the most pivotal of the entire book. 

Now I find myself inspired to begin a new writing project: expanding all these concepts into a whole new book, to be titled Educate Your Brain for Reading

My goal is to create a single volume that focuses entirely on reading, which will include more explanations, more stories, and more specific ideas for movement activities that can truly make a difference for struggling readers. 

To that end, I welcome and request your participation and feedback, in response to any or all of these questions:
• What have you read in my blog or my book that means the most to you?
• If you’ve used Brain Gym yourself, or with your own children or students, what has the result been? Could you share a story that illustrates your experience? 
• If you haven’t noticed positive changes, or have had challenges using Brain Gym, would you consider sharing that story with me as well?
• What questions do you still have?
• What would you like to see included in a volume about using Brain Gym to improve reading?  
• What message would you offer to parents, administrators, and teachers – or to the children themselves?

You are most welcome to use the Comment feature below, or to send your thoughts by email, at

I truly look forward to your comments. You are part of a growing community of people who understand how vital physical movement is in developing the capacity to read, and I deeply value my connection with you. 

Thank you for being here, and for spreading this important information, so it can transform the lives of children everywhere.

With warmest regards,

Kathy Brown, M.Ed.
Educational Kinesiologist
Licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant
Author of Educate Your Brain
1] Dennison, Paul E. Brain Gym® & Me. Ventura: Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc. 2006. 119. 
2] Brown, Kathy. Educate Your Brain. Phoenix: Balance Point Publishing LLC. 2012. 112-115. 
Brain Gym® movement photographs Copyright© Laird Brown Photography. All rights reserved
Photograph of wooden figures with acupuncture points Copyright© Claudio Curro, through iStock/Getty Images
©Copyright 2017 Kathy Brown. All rights reserved.
Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation  •  Ventura, CA  •
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Friday, January 6, 2017

Introducing Touch for Health

This blog posting is a departure for me – not a client story,
but sharing information about a wellness technique that every home
should have on hand – right alongside the alcohol wipes and bandages!
And there's a course coming up where you can learn all about it:
Touch For Health, Level One
February 4-5, 2017
Details below! 

What if I told you that there was a simple technique that you could use to greatly diminish or even resolve many aches and pains?

What if it was easy to use and can take just minutes? And anyone could learn it?

Well, there is! It’s called Touch for Health


• Your child has a headache. A few quick muscle checks indicate which regions along the spine to rub, then spots on the head to gently hold. Soon her headache is completely gone. 
• Your spouse has finished a construction project, and has some aches and pains to show for it. A few muscle checks indicate which areas of the body to deeply massage (surprisingly, perhaps not the aching muscles themselves), and which points to hold. Soon he can move much more comfortably. 
• You've learned some upsetting news and you're now experiencing tension or anxiety. You do some muscle checks - on yourself - and learn just where to apply a bit of gentle rubbing, and then which meridian line to trace your hand along. Soon you find yourself feeling much more emotionally balanced. 
• No pills, no trip to the doctor - just a very natural way of maintaining health for your family! 

How could these changes come about so simply and easily? 

I'll be sharing exactly that with you in this article: principles behind these Touch for Health techniques, what you learn when you participate in a course, and what a Touch for Health session looks like. 

I’ll also share some stories, including the one my husband tells about the time I “saved his life” while on holiday in Germany. Yes, this is an exaggeration, but the truth is, I really thought we would need to get him to a hospital. Touch for Health absolutely saved the day – and it took only about ten minutes.

What is Touch for Health, and how is it learned?

Touch for Health (TFH) is a system for quickly identifying the source of physical and emotional challenges – from postural misalignments and aches and pains, to feeling out of sorts or even experiencing deep emotional distress – and then using simple touch techniques to resolve them.

The entire TFH program is taught in a series of four courses, but many people take only the Level One course and simply use those tools forever. I used the Level One work with great success for years, before I ever had a chance to take Level Two, and I have yet to take Level Three! I use what I know all the time.

Many Brain Gym® instructors are also trained in Touch for Health; in fact, these techniques are so very helpful, and mesh so beautifully with the Brain Gym work, that the Touch for Health course qualifies as part of the curriculum for becoming licensed as a Brain Gym instructor. It was actually through his contact with TFH that Paul Dennison (Brain Gym co-founder) experienced many aspects of the mind/body connection, so once you learn Touch for Health, you'll see its techniques throughout the Brain Gym work.

Where did Touch for Health come from?

In the 1960s, renowned chiropractor George Goodheart began exploring the relationship between muscle response, postural alignment, and specific health issues. He eventually developed an entire system that would come to be called Applied Kinesiology. 

In the 1970s, chiropractor John F. Thie began creating a way to share the simplified basics of Applied Kinesiology with the layman – so it could become a tool for health and wellbeing in every home. This became Touch for Health.

John Thie published his first Touch for Health manual in 1973. He and his authorized instructors have trained thousands of people around the world in this system, who use it to improve the lives of friends, family, and clients. Since John Thie's passing in 2005, his work has been carried on by his son, Matthew Thie.   

What are the principles behind Touch for Health?

First, I want to say that it’s really not necessary to understand all these principles in order to learn Touch for Health. When I took my first Touch for Health course I didn’t understand much of this at all, and learned it a bit at a time over the years. My intention here is to show you how elegant the system is, and how the pieces fit together. Consider this your “first taste” of these concepts, so that when you hear them mentioned in class, you’ll already have some familiarity with them.

So, as an introduction, here are five basic concepts behind this technique:

1) Subtle energy flows throughout the body along lines called meridians, which were first identified by the ancient Chinese. It is at specific points along these meridians that acupuncturists may insert needles to treat various health conditions. 
     More recently, meridians and acupuncture points have been scientifically mapped.[1] Acupuncture is now accepted in the modern medical world, and is even covered by many insurance programs.
     Touch for Health is not acupuncture, but does use touch or massage techniques on some of these same points, as well as light tracing along the meridian lines themselves.

2) There are fourteen principal meridians. Each meridian is named (for the organ or body system it's associated with) and identified separately, and has a specific beginning and ending point; however, each one ends near to where the next one begins, so these individual sections become a continuous flow. 

3) The flow of subtle energy throughout the body can become blocked when we experience stressful situations such as illness, physical accidents, or challenging emotional events. When these blocks are identified and released, people often experience improvements in their physical and emotional wellbeing, and they function more comfortably in life.

4) Each meridian is related to a specific muscle of the physical body. For example, the quadricep (thigh muscle) is associated with the Large Intestine meridian. A facilitator can use muscle checking (seeing if the muscle “holds” against slight pressure) to assess the state of each meridian, and determine which are “flowing” and which are “blocked.”

5) When a block is identified, the facilitator can use specific touch processes (ultra-light touch or deeper rubbing on a specific points, tracing along the meridian line, etc.) to release the block in that meridian.

What does a Touch for Health session look like?

Using the simplest (Level One) protocols, a Touch for Health session looks like this: Just like in Brain Gym balancing, the facilitator supports you in creating a goal for the kind of change you’d like to see, and you get a current baseline for it by acting it out in some way (pre-check). This “pushes the button” so the blocks to energy flow in your meridians will show up clearly.  
     Then the facilitator begins with the first meridian and checks the muscle associated with it. If  the muscle check doesn’t hold (indicating blocked flow in the meridian) the facilitator does one or more simple touch options (which are clearly shown in the manual). At a certain point, checking the muscle again will show that it is now “on,” indicating that energetic flow has been restored in that meridian.  
     The facilitator then goes on to the next meridian and repeats the process. Some meridians may require no intervention at all; others may require two or three techniques. When the facilitator has taken you through the entire meridian system, having checked and resolved any blocks in all fourteen meridians, the session is complete. At this point, a replay of acting out your goal (post-check) will likely feel much more comfortable and integrated.  
     I have done full Touch for Health sessions with someone in as little as a few minutes; more often it takes a bit longer, especially if several meridians need to be addressed. It all depends on how strongly the person's mind/body system is experiencing the stress of his issue.

Learning the process

When you take a Touch for Health course, you’ll learn these concepts a bit at a time, and apply them with increasing ease. When I took Touch for Health, I was surprised to realize that over two days I’d not only learned how to muscle check someone, but I’d learned all fourteen muscle checks for the fourteen meridians. The instructor had made the learning simple and fun, and I'd had plenty of opportunity to practice in class.

Also - there’s no need to memorize everything because there’s a clear, simplified "level one" manual. You’ll learn the process, with which you’ll become increasingly familiar, and you’ll learn how to refer to your manual for whatever details you need. For a long time, I used the manual for everything. Through repetition over the years I now know the muscle checks and meridians, but I still use the manual to be sure I know which points to hold or massage.

Experiences using Touch for Health

I love how this information can help me understand my life.

When my husband and I were planning the remodeling of our kitchen we had many significant decisions to make over a period of months, about things that were to be permanent, expensive elements of our home. Key word here: stress. At certain points I’d feel completely drained and overwhelmed – like I just couldn’t make one more choice. Not only that, I was feeling increased tension in both sides of my head! I checked my meridians and found that my Gall Bladder meridian was off. This made total sense because...
    One more thing you'll learn is that each meridian also has an associated metaphor - related to an aspect of how we move through life. When the meridian is flowing, then so is that metaphoric aspect. The metaphor for the Gall Bladder meridian is (would you believe it?) decision making! Plus, this meridian begins on the sides of the face and tracks repeatedly through the head, before running down through the torso to its endpoint on the foot.
    Through the simple techniques of Touch for Health, I was able to continually release blocks I was experiencing. I’d get back into the flow of decision making, and the tension in the sides of my head vanished. And I love our new kitchen! 
But my most amazing experience with Touch for Health was this one:

My husband and I were on holiday in Germany on 9/11, a day of shock and trauma. Three days later my husband developed stomach pain so severe he couldn’t eat. Fearing the worst, and ready to ask at our hotel about the nearest hospital, I somehow thought to take out my travel-size Touch for Health folio. My husband’s stomach meridian (key concept: digesting/processing what is coming in) was blocked and I used the techniques I’d learned to release that energy flow. (We realized later that “what he’d taken in” was the overwhelm of traumatic news.) Within a half hour he was feeling 80% better and could actually eat a light dinner; by the next morning he was 95% better. Needless to say, we were both incredibly relieved. We continued to use Touch for Health along with Brain Gym balancing throughout what remained of our time in Germany and travel home, under exceedingly stressful circumstances. These are truly indispensable tools.

I have had the good fortune to learn Touch for Health from someone who has been using and teaching it for 30 years Colleen Carroll Gardner. It was during her involvement with the Touch for Health foundation that she came in touch with Paul Dennison, and was captivated by his Educational Kinesiology work, and eventually became the first member of the Edu-K international faculty. She not only brings decades of both areas of her training to every class she teaches, but has used Touch for Health throughout her years as a parent and world adventurer. She says:

My Touch for Health skills have been invaluable throughout my life — from dealing with my children’s aches, pains, and sports injuries, to keeping everyone healthy as I trekked through Nepal with college students, to balancing for health and wellbeing, for myself and others, through life’s biggest emotional challenges. These tools are incredibly helpful to have at hand.
Ready to learn Touch for Health?
You'll have tools forever, that will literally be at your fingertips!

Licensed instructors for the Touch for Health program offer courses around the world. 
Click here to find courses in the United States.

And – If you live in or near Phoenix, Arizona 
or would like to visit, 
Touch for Health is coming to YOU!

I’m delighted to say that I’m sponsoring 
Touch for Health, Level One, 
taught by Colleen Carroll Gardner
February 4-5, 2017
No prerequisite – everyone is welcome!

and click here for the flyer, with registration form on Page 2. 

I hope you can join us for this wonderful learning opportunity!

Kathy Brown, M.Ed.
Educational Kinesiologist
Licensed Brain Gym® Instructor/Consultant
Author of Educate Your Brain

[1] There are many articles about the science behind meridians. This one is from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health:
Brain Gym® movement photographs Copyright© Laird Brown Photography. All rights reserved
Photograph of wooden figures with acupuncture points Copyright© Claudio Curro, through iStock/Getty Images
©Copyright 2016 Kathy Brown. All rights reserved.
Brain Gym® is a registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation  •  Ventura, CA  •
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If you don't see a comment space below, 
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