The Healing Trinity: Special Approach to Safeguard your Mental Health

Emotions in Hong Kong  

What draws the line between humans and machines is the ability to express and sense emotions. In this era, most people are forced to neglect their instincts due to the urge to fulfill social norms and expectations.

Hong Kong, a metropolis renowned for its economic development and state-of-the-art infrastructure, should have been a utopia for citizens. However, according to the World Happiness Report 2022 released by the United Nations, Hong Kong is ranked 81 out of 146 countries. Countries that share similar rankings with Hong Kong are Nepal, Libya, and Armenia. Those places are objectively less developed and are under the effect of wars.

The social advocacy of elitism is one of the culprits contributing to the sadness lingering in the city. Because of the financial landscape of Hong Kong, people living in the city are expected to be result-oriented, efficient, and competitive. Hongkongers are the cogwheels that support the city to keep functioning. Children strive to get into great schools, students strive to get good grades, and workers strive to get promotions. People of all ages are constantly competing.

This suffocating social atmosphere has led to the dreadful statistic that every 1 out of 7 Hongkongers is battling with common mental illnesses. Over 60% of citizens claimed to be self-aware of experiencing poor mental conditions.

An advertisement released by the Advisory Committee on Mental Health is stuck on the door of an MTR train at the. 6th of November,2022. The words on the leaflet mean “Mental illness is not rare. 1 person suffers from mental issues every 7 adults. (Photo Credit: Christina Lai)

Louis Chan, a year 3 university student who looks no different from his peers, has been suffering from bipolar disorder since he was in secondary school. Before the diagnosis, Louis thought being easily triggered emotionally was only a typical reaction. He has realized his mental condition might be in severe condition after losing the ability to learn and handle daily routines.

He is now under medication, such as camcolit, APA-lamotrigine, venlafaxine, loans, and cyprodinil to restrain his illness. Besides medical assistance, he also adapts traditional counseling every month to help improve his mental state.

Medicine Louis needs to take on a daily basis. (Photo Credit: Louis Chan)

“Depression is addictive nature is its hardest aspect. Not being depressed starts to feel awkward. You feel bad for being joyful.”

——Louis Chan

The story of Louis may be representing many others in the city. Ignoring or underestimating the signals conveyed through our emotions could lead to damage caused to our mental well-being.

What is Body Mind Spirit?

Like our body, our state of mind deserves to be nourished and taken care of regularly in case it becomes overloaded.

The term “Body Mind Spirit” has become more and more recognizable in recent years. The question which provoked this philosophy is “Who am I?” It is believed that humans get upset and feel lost because they do not fully understand themselves. Fear, anger, and other negative emotions would pop out when the mystery remains unsolved.

The practice promotes the idea of how every person is made of 3 layers: Body, Mind, and Spirit. The idea explains how these distinct layers function and how they work together seamlessly to complete the identity of “me”.

“Spirit” is known as the “Higher Self”. It is the part inside our bodies that is the closest to the higher power.

“Mind”, the “Lower Self”, is the personality built by ourselves through our lives, mindsets, and faiths.

“Body” is the container of “Spirit”. Our bodies are built to allow us to experience life through our 5 senses.

A graph illustrating the relationship between Body Mind Spirit. (Photo Credit: Rachel Mok)

It is considered that only taking care of the 3 elements and linking them together properly can lead to a fulfilling life. Any events or figures that can help you enhance your energy, cause inspiration or even improve in any aspect of life are related to the subject.

Candy Yau is a citizen who has a regular basis to connect her body and spirit through meditation.

“I think people in Hong Kong nowadays do not seem to care about their mental condition due to the absurdity of our society. But I think all the chaos happening right now is the wakeup call for us to comfort our inner-self.”

——Candy Yau

Special Tools Related to Body Mind Spirit

Haley Li is the founder of City in the Cave, a mental healing institution located in San Po Kong.

Haley is the founder of City in the Cave, a mental healing institution. (Photo Credit: Rachel Mok)

“When I was in secondary school I was trapped with depression and anxiety, I had no one to seek help from. After entering university, I coincidentally ran across Body Mind Spirit and found it extremely helpful. It makes me want to learn more about this practice and use it to help people,” said Haley.

She wishes to comfort the pain and insecurities through her own experience and the knowledge she gained throughout her journey of spiritual growth.

As a Tibetan Survival healer, NGH Registered Hypnotherapist, past life regression interpreter, angel card reader, and Reiki healer, her many identities and professions are all related to Body Mind Spirit.

Services she offers cover many types of treatments, including Singing Bowl, meditation, hypnotization, and Angel Card reading.

Video introducing different spiritual healing tools. (Video Credit: Christina Lai)

The outlook of a Singing Bowl. (Photo Credit: Rachel Mok)

The Singing Bowl originated in India but soon spread to Tibet and the Himalayas. It is made of 7 metals, such as gold, tin, silver, iron, mercury, lead, and copper. Singing Bowl healing has adapted the theory of resonance vibration in sound healing.

Haley thinks Singing Bowl therapy is suitable for people who are not aware of their mental condition as it is considered a passive healing method. Through the vibration and sound emitted by striking the bowl, energy inside the soundwave would flow into the recipient’s body.

Haley also holds regular meditation workshops in her institution. She thinks this ancient practice is particularly useful for many Hongkongers who feel suffocated from work and life.

The setting of the meditation workshop at City in the Cave. (Photo Credit: City in the Cave)

Mediation workshops in City in the Cave are usually held around 8 pm, the time when participants have just checked out from work. Haley mentioned most visitors seemed intense when they first arrived at the venue because some of them might even be dealing with working duties at the same time.

Operation of electronic gadgets are forbidden after the commencement of the workshop as cutting off the linkage between human and technology can remove people’s mind from the hectic lives they have been sticking with during the day.

“I feel like meditation is a tool of guiding your focus back to your inner-self and reconnecting your mind and body.”

——Haley Li

Visitors who feel ready to face their emotional traumas would opt for hypnosis to confront their vulnerabilities. A hypnotherapist can soften the conscious and unlock the subconscious of a patient through standard hypnosis procedures. When soothing the defense mechanisms of the patients, a hypnotherapist can unveil the constrained thoughts in them.

There was a special case about hypnotherapy that Haley encountered not long ago. She said, “usually, during a regular hypnosis session, patients would follow my verbal guidance and tell me the images that appear in their mind. But there was a time when I was hypnotizing a patient of mine, there were no images at all.” She explained this case is an example of inconsistency between consciousness and subconsciousness.

“The patient’s consciousness wanted to resolve her issues but her subconscious is not yet ready,”

The last appliance is Angel Card. Although it is similar to Tarot Cards, it is believed that the power source behind the paper cards is infused by angels. Angels are presumed as celestial beings that could offer proper guidance to believers. Users can either ask open-ended questions or simply draw one card from the batch.

Haley sees Angel Card as a part of healing since the answers offered by the higher power could spark reminding users that there are many other alternatives and possibilities regarding their emotional dilemmas.

Despite her work, Haley sees herself as a companion rather than the “healer” of her patients.

“Always believe in your inner strength. After all, you are the one who can save yourself.”

——Haley Li

Easy Ways of Self-healing 

While you are busy coping with the rapid changes in life, have you ever realized you have been neglecting your mental state for a while? If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions, anxiety, and so on. Here are 5 ways to help improve your inner well-being. 

1. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

Hayley recommended a breathing method named Diaphragmatic Breathing. Your breathing alters while you are under stress. Stress and anxiety are coping strategies that “encourage” us to leave situations that the brain regards as harmful.

Stress and anxiety trigger powerful reactions from the sympathetic nervous system and the human neurological system. The risk of developing heart disease, angina, and even a stroke can increase when experiencing stress or anxiety.  The mentioned feelings can make your heart race, your pulse quicken, and irregulate your breathing. A shortage of oxygen in your body might worsen existing harm if you have poor breathing habits. Maintaining good breathing, therefore, means a healthy life.

It simply takes 5 to 15 minutes a day to practice deep breathing and focus your concentration between inhaling and exhaling to help you turn your attention away from tension or stress.

This video shows how to learn Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique. (Video Credit: Cioffredi & Associates Physical Therapy)

2. To Relax, Start with Fragrance.

The sense of smell is a shortcut to emotion because it is the only one of the five senses that does not pass through the optic thalamus (the nerve center of the brain, responsible for receiving sensory information) and sends messages directly to the glands in the brain that are related to emotions and instinctive reactions. The sense of smell is a factor that directly affects emotions. It controls happiness, sadness, sorrow, and even dreams and memories unconsciously.

These are dried lavender flowers, which are placed indoors to give off a lavender scent and make you feel relaxed. (Photo Credit: Rachel Mok)

In everyday life, there are many applications of scent to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other related psychological disorders.

The scent of lavender can make people feel relaxed. Lavender is known as the “queen of aromatic herbs”, which shows her extraordinary status in herbology. The lavender essential oil can help relieve stress or anxiety in life and is suitable for people who are emotionally up and down. The natural fragrance of lavender helps to relax the body and mind and can be used in daily life to relieve headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms.

In addition, many psychological counselors in the treatment of depression will light up the aromatherapy burner and drops sweet orange essential oil.  A sense of sweet orange is associated with a cheerful mood since it leads our brain to imagine the warmth of the sun in life through its scent.

However, sweet orange has a small “side effect”. It stimulates the appetite of the receiver. The sweet orange essential oil has a sweet orange scent that calms the nerves, reduces stress, keeps the body and mind happy, and increases vitality. It can drive away tension and stress and improve insomnia caused by anxiety.

If you ever feel stressed next time, give plant essential oils, aromatherapy, and candles a try!

3. Food Therap

Stress levels may rise due to poor eating. Caffeine and theobromine, which activate the nerves and heighten sensations of stress, are found in tea, coffee, and energy drinks. Stress makes you feel uneasy, and additional stimuli might make you further irritated.

When we are too busy to cook, comfort junk food is often our lazy first choice. But this can lead to a vicious cycle as these foods are frequently high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates and lack essential nutrients. You ought to stay away from fast food as result.

The three food listed below are not only more nutrient-dense but also stress-relieving. 

Dark chocolate boosts the production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins. (Photo Credit: Christina Lai)

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains a neurotransmitter called Anandamide which can block pain and repressed emotions from being transmitted in the brain. Studies have also shown that dark chocolate can lower the level of cortisol in the body, thus achieving the effect of lowering blood pressure. It is recommended to choose dark chocolate with 70% or more cocoa content to have sufficient nutritional value and not to consume too much sugar.

Salmon is cooked by Christina and it is very easy to cook. (Photo Credit: Christina Lai)

Salmon

Salmon is rich in animal omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that help you maintain a good mood.

A study published in the journal Brain Behavior and Immunity showed a 20% reduction in anxiety among medical students taking omega-3s. Past studies have also shown that omega-3 fatty acids are as effective as drugs in preventing depression, with no side effects.

The video teaches people how to cook salmon in an easy way and this recipe can make sure the salmon you cooked is delicious and it will not fail. (Video Credit: Natashas Kitchen)

Banana

Banana contains dopamine, which helps the body to produce feelings of happiness. Bananas are also rich in vitamins, especially Pyridoxine and Vitamin B6. According to a study published in Medical Hypothesis in 2000, pyridoxine effectively promotes the body’s release of serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid, which in turn helps the body control depression, receive pain, and anxiety.

4. Exercise More!

Undergoing 10 minutes of physical activity every day can reduce stress. Given how stressful the modern lifestyle can be, it is advised to establish a regular exercise routine and work up to a particular level of intensity. This can help to ease stress-related tension and promote physical and mental harmony.

Walking

Walking is a simple stress-relieving workout that does not require any particular abilities or expensive equipment. All you need are some walking shoes, a place to walk—parks or riverbanks work well—and the ability to alter your pace by your physical capabilities. After 30 minutes of walking, the brain will generate feel-good chemicals that can help with stress relief.

This video is teaching people how to fast walk 30 minutes every day to keep healthy. (Video Credit: Walk at Home)

Swimming

Swimming is a powerful method of controlling stress. Swimming is a total-body workout that helps with breathing control, muscle toning, and body and mind relaxation. After entering the water, a person’s body will be affected by the water’s temperature, which will activate their brain’s hippocampus and keep them from feeling depressed or worn out. Additionally, the brain will trigger a variety of reactions during swimming since the entire body’s muscles and breathing must work together to achieve balance, coordination, and other responsibilities. The brain also secretes dopamine, a joyful hormone that promotes both physical and mental wellness.

This video demonstrates how to swim in a relaxing way. (Video Credit: Swim Smooth)

5Open your Mind to Music

 In fact, the brain would release a happy-making neurotransmitter called dopamine when people listen to their favorite music. According to studies, listening to music can lower stress levels, offer happiness, and calm the body and mind. Slow, bass-heavy, lyric-free music in particular can improve our health and sense of well-being by lowering stress and anxiety.

You can reduce stress by listening to your favorite music for 20 to 30 minutes each day. Your favorite music is the most stress-relieving one.

If you concentrate on the music, you can lessen the anxiety and put the worry down. Music has the power to evoke strong emotions, open up the imagination, transform negative brain images into positive ones, boost creativity, and inspire people to see beyond their difficult circumstances.

More Pages about Mental Health 

Cityinthecave.healing

City in the Cave aspires to offer a setting that could be compared to a “safe base” where individuals can safely and comfortably express any emotion to unlock the door to healing and recovery.  It is important to walk together to confront our deepest personal and societal wounds together and to witness the miraculous process of wound healing, especially in this traumatized society.

Shall We Talk

The Mental Health Advisory Committee has been promoting and educating the public about mental health through the “Shall We Talk” project since July 2020. To increase public awareness of mental health, the project asks singer Eason Chan to serve as its ambassador and adopts the concept of his timeless Cantonese pop song “Shall We Talk”.

Jockey Club Mind Tour Guide+ 

To add to the options for mental health support in Hong Kong, the Guides+ team is dedicated to fusing psychology and technology. Before recommending the right support, the platform evaluates the user’s mental health.

This website of Jockey Club Mind Tour Guide+. (Photo Credit: Screenshot of the website)

(Feature image by Rachel Mok.)

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