Meet Dr. Belaga, PhD
Licensed Psychologist, Certified Yoga Teacher
Certified Hippocrates Health Institute Educator
Irene (Irah) Belaga began her graduate work in psychology in 1998, which included the study of mindfulness meditation and its healing effects on headaches and anxiety disorders. In 2003, Irah went on to study the neuronal pathways of transcendental meditation and the brain mapping of “feeling at one with the universe.” It is at this time that Dr. Belaga was introduced to yoga and began to explore the symbiotic links between yoga, the meditative process and psychology. She has maintained a personal meditation and yoga practice since that time and went on to use meditation techniques in interpersonal skills groups, anxiety treatment and while working in hospitals and mental health clinics. Throughout her training and work, the importance of developing and sustaining a healthy lifestyle has remained paramount to healthy emotional functioning. In 2005 she became a Licensed Psychologist, in 2010, a Certified Yoga Teacher and in April, 2014, a Hippocrates Health Educator, enabling her to teach others about the benefits of organic plant based living.
Why Holistic Psychology?
When we think about psychology, our focus typically moves to the human mind, to the measurable origin of perception, emotion, thought and behavior. There is a substantial and impressive breadth of research available attempting to shed light on the brain’s makeup and on the predictive antecedents to emotion, cognition, behavior, and their mechanisms of action. Yet a holistic theory of psychology and a holistic approach to improving psychological functioning continues to elude us. The complexity of human experience, within which psychological functioning is weaved, cannot be explained without taking into account a broader view of the existential sphere.
Researchers are integrating the tenets of quantum theory into the study of neuropsychology, which looks at the brain in relation to psychological processes and behaviors. Tang & Dai (2011) support the presence of measurable energy particles, light energy, in brain function. They note that while “traditional theories seem to give valuable explanations for the basic functions of the nervous system,” they are inadequate in describing “higher brain functions and mental activities, such as perception, learning and memory, emotion and consciousness (p. 71).” They confirm that electromagnetic movement, not only bioelectrical and chemical in nature, is critical to the transfer of information in the brain. Integrating quantum theory principles into the study of psychology enables us to begin to consider the similarities between us and the universe at large, both governed by similar principles. It brings us closer to conceptualizing a holistic viewpoint. It also compels us to consider how to provide interventions that keep up with current research.
Schwartz, Stapp, & Beauregard (n.d.) also integrating quantum theory concepts into understanding neuropsychological function, suggest that during information transmission in the brain, there is a vast potential of possible outcomes which are dependent upon the will of the person within whom these processes are occurring. The transmission of light energy is both present and can be self determined. Biofeedback approaches and their efficacy (Schoenberg & David, 2014; Peria, Fredrikson, & Pourtois, 2014; among many others) lend additional support to our ability to act upon our own minds. When individuals are made aware of their brain’s EEG patterns, heart rate, breathing rate and sweat reactions, they are able to exert control over these mechanisms over time. Muscle relaxation, the slowing of the breath, visualization and meditation enhance our ability to make such changes and are commonly taught to those undergoing biofeedback treatments (Schoenberg & David, 2014). Coaching individuals on how to meditate and how to reduce their heart and breathing rates through relaxation training are two ways of implementing available research into psychological work.
As referenced in the biofeedback findings, it is not only the brain that is of interest when discussing human experience and the psychological elements imbedded within. Dr. Armour, M.D., Ph.D. has been working since 1991 in the field of Neurocardiology. He describes a system entitled the “heart mind,” which details how the heart has its own ability to encode and process information, first independently of the brain and then interactively (Kember, Armour, & Zamir, 2011). Also, McCraty (2004) found that the heart is acutely linked to not just physical, but also psychological and spiritual experiences, without the brain playing an intermediary role. Taking it one step further, he showed that electromagnetic energy emitted by a person’s heart influences brainwaves of those around him. The brain, in its chemical, bioelectrical and electromagnetic processes, the heart and our awareness of physiological markers such as the beating of our hearts, and our breathing and sweat reactions are all powerful tools for understanding and acting upon our psychological worlds.
We are moving toward a more integrated system of understanding ourselves and quantum principles are enabling us to do so. Photons are the energy particles found in quarks, the smallest unit of matter described in quantum physics thus far. Biophotons are the energy in living things, which are a weaker form of photons introduced by Dr. Alexander Gurvich and his wife (1944) and confirmed by Fritz Alpert Popp and others (Popp, Becker, Konig, & Peschka, 1977). Biophotons have been found to originate predominantly in our DNA (Rattemeyer, Popp, & Nagl, 1981; Popp, Nagl, Li, Scholz, Weingärtner, & Wolf, 1984), which punctuates their importance and our developmental reliance upon them.
Garjajev & Poponin (1997) confirmed that our DNA molecules communicate in the form of ultraviolet photon transmissions and not only receive and transmit information, but also absorb and interpret the information presented. The same energy that is associated with brain and heart activity, that is found in and originates from our DNA, is also emitted by our bodies. “The human body literally glimmers. The intensity of the light emitted by the body is 1000 times lower than the sensitivity of the naked eye. Ultra-weak photon emissions are known as the energy released as light through changes in energy metabolism… The human body directly and rhythmically emits light” (Kobayashi, Kikuchi, & Okamura, 2009, p. 1).
As we observe how our system functions, we also see the potential for how we can affect one another at the quantum level. The electromagnetic energy of one entity has been found to affect the electromagnetic energy of another (McCraty, 2004). It may not be visible to the naked eye, but energy is being transferred between people. Roe, Sonnex, & Roxburgh (2015) confirmed in their analysis of 106 studies that a practitioner’s intention to heal is powerful enough to produce “positive effects on the recipient’s wellbeing (p. 11)” while controlling for both placebo effects and expectation. Again, light energy has a measurable effect. In our movement toward a holistic understanding of psychology, recognition of the far-reaching presence of light energy compels us to wonder about the interconnectedness within us (in our minds, brains and bodies) and between us.
Schwartz, Stapp, & Beauregard (n.d.) note that one example of how people can directly impact their neuropsychological functioning is through meditation. The act of meditating has been found to produce changes in biophoton emissions, the energy particles of quantum theory, as well (Van Wijk, Koch, Bosman, & Van Wijk, 2006; Van Wijk, Ackerman, & Van Wijk, 2005). How does this translate to our psychological experiences? Research supports that the ability to sit in silence, in contemplation or with focused attention is helpful in improving emotional well-being (Murphy, Donovan, & Taylor, 1997). Meditation is also described as an emotional regulator (Guleria, Kumar, Sri Kunai Kishan, & Khetrapal, 2013). Brain centers associated with the regulation of the emotional states, attention and working memory were all found to be altered during a state of meditation among experienced meditators.
It is not surprising that yoga, a physical, and for some, a spiritual practice which integrates meditation, increases mindfulness and slowing of the breath and has been gaining prominence in the field of mental health because of its ability to help regulate emotional states (Novotney, 2009). Essential to yoga theory is the presence of seven chakras or “integrated energy centers that are considered to affect physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being… These energy [centers] are positioned or embedded in the spinal column at various locations starting at the coccyx and rising to the crown of the head” (Deshpande, Madappa, & Korotkov, 2013, p. 982). These authors studied the electromagnetic measurements of individuals before and after a three-hour program teaching breathing exercises, a loving-kindness intention exercise and meditation. Biophoton measurements revealed an over-all change in bodily photon emissions after the intervention as well as improvement in the alignment of the subjects’ chakra systems along the spine. There is a similar structure within Kabbalistic teachings also elaborated upon with quantum theory concepts (Afilalo, & Schipper, 2012-13), building another interesting bridge between the scientific and the spiritual.
Nonhuman biological systems, such as the food we eat also emit electromagnetic energy in the form of biophotons (Popp, Becker, Konig, & Peschka, 1977; Yan, Popp Sigrist, Schlesinger, Dolf, Yan, Cohen, & Chotia, 2005). These researchers found that the more alive the food, the closer it is to its natural state, the higher its biophotonic energy. Freshly picked vegetables have the highest measured biophoton emissions of all foods while cooked foods, meats and meat derivatives such as eggs and milk have the lowest. Given that light energy is found to interact between biological systems, contemplating the effects of eating raw foods from a quantum particle perspective is worth considering. Interestingly, Gabriel Cousens, M.D., in his book, Creating Peace by Being Peace (2008), notes that a person eating mostly junk food displays a biophoton reading of approximately 83,000 times less than those consuming raw foods. It appears that the energy particles found in the body are reinforced by the eating of raw fruits and vegetables and alternatively, depleted when raw foods are not eaten.
There is a breadth of data that supports eating fruits and vegetables for the promotion of physical health (Takaoka & Kawakami, 2013; Cousens, 2008; Clement, 2007) and emotional health (Blanchflower, Oswald, & Stewart-Brown, 2012; McMartin, Jacka, & Colman, 2013; Jacka, Mykletun, & Berk, 2011). Now, we can begin to understand these findings from the perspective of quantum principles and, in so doing, continue to move toward a holistic framework. We are made of light energy, we transmit light energy and we are most nourished by foods that emit light energy.
The integration of a healthy lifestyle through meditation, yoga and living foods into our emotional development is a powerful way to address psychological functioning from a naturally holistic perspective. To lend additional support to the inclusion of meditation, yoga and living foods consumption into psychological programs, lifestyle improvement has also been found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression. This includes: exercising more, improving relaxation, mindfulness meditation, as well as improving sleep and social interaction (Sarris, O’Neil, Coulson, Schweitzer, & Berk, 2014). The researchers note that poor air, water and noise quality as well as pollution also negatively impact depressive symptoms. It is no surprise that the health of our environment affects our emotional health. What is fascinating is that the way we choose to nourish ourselves can impact our environment. Eating live, plant-based foods, while certainly nourishing our minds and bodies, also dramatically reduces our carbon footprint (Scarborough, Appleby, Mizdrak, Briggs, Travis, Bradbury, & Key, 2014; Soret, 2011).
The healing of our earth is an example of the far reaching effects of our actions as our self-awareness deepens through psychological growth and our minds and bodies heal. There is a natural expansion of the drive to improve oneself that translates into healing others and also to the healing of the world around us. As we grow introspectively, we begin to see more of what is around us with developing ease. Our connection to one another, while expanding to include our physical globe does not end there. There is a universe beyond us, undefined realms still beyond that and of course the unseen energy between us. Quantum theory supports the absence of clear physical boundaries among all forms of matter. While we may appear to be separate beings, gazing upon a person or object, speaking to someone or simply passing someone in the street alters our physical makeup as we exchange properties at the subatomic level. Likewise, we affect and are affected by the trees, plants and animals around us. “An act of observation here and now can affect not only the object being observed but also an object far away… the universe is characterized by interconnectedness… [there is a] feature of wholeness inherent in atomic physics, going far beyond the idea of the limited divisibility of matter (Sokal, 1996, p.221).”
The concept of holistic psychological health, given cited research and perhaps an element of intuitive knowing, also researched and defined scientifically (McCraty, Atkinson, & Bradley, 2004), seems more representative of reality than the compartmentalization of wellness. Our psychological and physical worlds, the foods we eat, the way we choose to exercise our bodies, our internal meditative space and the universe at large are ultimately connected. Let’s explore human experience and improve it while maintaining keen awareness of this reality.
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Clement, B. (2007). Hippocrates Life Force Superior: Health and Longevity, Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publications.
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Cousens, G. (2008). There is a Cure for Diabetes, The Tree of Life 21 Day+ program, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
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Kember, G., Armour, J.A. & Zamir, M. (2011). Neural control of heart rate: The role of neuronal networking, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 277, 1, 21, 41–47.
Kobayashi M., Kikuchi D, Okamura H. (2009). Imaging of ultraweak spontaneous photon emission from human body displaying diurnal rhythm. PLoS One. 16, 4, 7. 1-4.
McCraty, R. (2004). The Energetic Heart: Bioelectromagnetic Communication Within and Between People. In Rosch, P. J. and Markov, M.S. (Eds.), Clinical Applications of Bioelectromagnetic Medicine (pp. 541-562) New York: Marcel Dekker.
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McMartin, S.E., Jacka, F.N., & Colman, I. (2013). The Association between fruit and vegetable consumption and mental health disorders. Evidence from five waves of a national survey of Canadians, Preventive Medicine, 56, 3-4.
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Through the process of psychological introspection, meditative stillness enhanced with yoga and the integration of detoxification and immune system boosting organic living food, your journey begins. Initially, you retreat from the fast pace of your daily life and the stresses that abound in order to ultimately return to your world with greater clarity and enhanced emotional well-being. As you progress through the MindHolistic program and awaken to what is most essential for you, you may come to find that your renewed outlook will benefit not only you, but those around you and the very world in which you live. It is my honor to guide you through this extraordinary process.
Through Mindholistic I offer you an innovative coaching program that enables you to address your emotional struggles holistically, whether they are momentary intrusions into a rich and meaningful life or long standing struggles that affect many aspects of your personal world.
We begin with a discussion about how you would like to see yourself improve and thrive, exploring your life experiences and self impressions. We then move into the role that diet and exercise plays in your routine since the way we enervate our bodies, the foods we eat and why we make specific food choices directly impacts our psychological state. What follows is an introduction to meditation and an evaluation of the type of meditation that is best suited for your interests and needs. In order to help develop your meditation practice, yoga is integrated as a key to releasing physical barriers to optimal relaxation and self-awareness. More times than not, as we proceed through the evaluation process together, your spiritual world, defined entirely by your own beliefs, naturally emerges and becomes an important aspect of growth. To further support your emotional, physical and spiritual development, specific foods will be introduced that can ignite the immune system and support brain function.
Your introduction to the Mindholistic Program begins with Level One and consists of four Signature Series sessions with Dr. Belaga, approximately two hours in duration each. Services include: a psychology evaluation, a personalized meditation introduction, a discussion about your food lifestyle and its relationship to your emotional well-being and a yoga evaluation to support your developing meditation practice and psychological needs. These four modalities are weaved together within each of the four sessions to promote your own unique strengths and goals. No two protocols are the same. All services are available in the comfort of your home and virtually. If desired, we will work closely with your nutritionist and medical doctor to ensure an integrative approach.
During your fourth Signature Session, detailed recommendations will be made pertaining to your continued psychological, meditative, yogic and food lifestyle development. At this time, you will be offered a comprehensive plan of action to help you gradually integrate psychological work, meditation, yoga and a healthy food lifestyle into your daily routine. Suggestions made by your medical doctor and nutritionist can also be integrated at this time.
You have several scheduling options depending upon how quickly you would like to progress through Level One. It can be completed in just two days or within a month's time. Please wear or bring comfortable clothes as you will be invited to sit in meditative and yogic postures. No experience is necessary. Sometimes the most transformative moments in meditation and yoga occur with the least amount of experience.
You're welcome to complete the Four Course evaluation process in a two-day retreat (four sessions across two days) or take as much time as you'd like, completing the evaluation process in two days, one week, two weeks or a month's time.
Are you from out of town? No problem. You can choose from a variety of lovely hotels in the area, stay as long as you'd like and choose the package that works best for you. Since we're near the Florida coast, you may find that time by the ocean will be a natural complement to our services. Your accommodations can be arranged or you may choose your own.
Once your unique recommendations have been made, which includes specific meditations, yoga sequences, psychology practices and food lifestyle options that cater to your needs, we begin to explore how to best implement changes and deepen your emotional development. Weekly and biweekly sessions are recommended for optimal results.
The New Path: This package entitles you to one psychology session, one meditation session with integrated yoga postures and an organic living foods coaching session per week.
Awareness Immersion: This program includes all of the services in the New Path package for two days and includes a guided personalized Holistic Yoga practice.
Sustaining Spirit: This package entitles you to experience all of the services in the Awareness Immersion for three days and includes a follow-up pantry evaluation and supermarket visit. The latter will allow us the opportunity to address any questions and challenges that arise when integrating what you've learned into your daily routine.
Food To Go: Throughout your time with MindHolistic, you may order organically grown greens to help you incorporate organic living foods into your daily routine with greater ease.
Daily personalized retreats
Retreats can be scheduled on a daily or weekly basis. Your personal needs will be integrated into the schedule described below. Nourishment protocols incorporate teachings from the Hippocrates Health Institute and most current research on brain health and optimal immunity.
The retreat begins in the morning with a nourishing juice and a discussion about mindful living and eating. A signature guided meditation follows, which naturally extends into your morning psychology session. Journaling is recommended after the morning events.
In the afternoon you will be offered lunch, which will be followed by a discussion about mindful psychological healing. A yoga session will be next, followed by your second psychology session. An additional nourishing juice will be served. Dinner will be held in the early evening hours. The evening meditation will follow. You will be offered a detailed itinerary, complete with times upon arrival.
If you are interested in attending the full day program and are from out of town our retreats are held within walking distance to beautiful beachfront or waterfront boutique hotels. Your retreat package includes your hotel stay and will be based on the number of days you attend and your room choice.
"The frequent therapy sessions were very helpful. I think I gained a lot of insight into my issues at an accelerated pace and hope to put to use what I've learned."
— Anonymous, Gulf Coast, FL
"The things I found most meaningful were the chance to speak for two hours each day, the holistic approach to focusing on in-the-moment needs, connecting body with mind and all it's implications and the yoga and meditation postures."
— Anonymous, Brooklyn, NY