Meet the Mind: A Professor Explains the Mind-Body Connection

Theresa Garcia’s Commentary —

Theresa Y GarciaI attended a talk at the Osher Center in October of 2012 where the speaker talked about her research about how we frame things in our minds impacts our behavior.  Rosen Method helps people reframe their experience by helping them to allow space for their experience and recognizing/remembering that they are not their experience.  From the invitation to that talk: “Wendy Berry Mendes is the Sarlo/Ekman Associate Professor of Emotion at UC San Francisco.  She obtained a Ph.D. in social psychology from UC Santa Barbara in 2003 and then completed a post-doctoral training program in psychology and medicine at UC San Francisco.  In 2004 she became an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University and was promoted to associate professor in 2008.  She accepted her current position at UCSF in 2010.  Her research questions sit at the intersection of social, personality, and biological psychology and primarily concern questions regarding embodiment – how emotions, thoughts, and intentions are experienced in the body and how bodily responses shape and influence thoughts, behavior and emotions.  Some current research areas include coping with stigma and discrimination, dyadic intergroup interactions, affect contagion, mind-body relations across the life course, influence of emotional labeling on emotional experience, and effects of stress on decision-making.  Professor Medes won the Gordon Allport prize in 2008 for the best paper on intergroup relations, the Sage Young Scholar Award for early career contributions in social psychology in 2009, the Janet Spence Award for early career transformative contributions in psychological science in 2011, and for five consecutive years (2006 – 2010) she was named one of Harvard undergraduates “Favorite Professors.”

Meet the Mind: A Professor Explains the Mind-Body Connection:  How Dr. Wendy Mendes’ Dance Injury Inspired A Career in Psychology
Published on March 13, 2012 by Jessica Gross in

balletAt 21, Wendy Berry Mendes was coming down from a ballet jump, slipped on a wet spot on the floor and fell, tearing the ligaments in her right foot.

It was a career-ending injury. Until then, Mendes had ascended steadily up the ladder of professional ballet. She started taking classes at six years old and went on to perform professionally, first in a Los Angeles company and then with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, where it all ended.

Ballet, like any intense sport, is grueling. “You have to be so strong in terms of your mental state. There is an awareness of your body but there is also lots of suppression—you may be in great pain, but you dance through it,” Mendes said. “There’s somewhere you have to get mentally where you keep going when your body simply does not want to go anymore.”

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