Clinical Psychologist, Mindfulness Teacher and Yogini Kristin Skotnes Vikjord
Interview by The Inner Peace Conference, 11 August 2016
We interviewed Kristin Skotnes Vikjord
A Clinical Psychologist, mindfulness teacher and yogini
Kristin has spent the last decade applying Mindful Yoga for mental health, as body oriented psychotherapy, together with other evidence based mindfulness interventions in clinical settings. Kristin facilitates processes to engage, creating a warming and compassionate environment, focusing on the individual experience.
So you’re a clinical psychologist, a mindfulness teacher, meditation and a yoga teacher at the same time.. That’s not very common is it?
Well, this field of yoga, meditation and mindfulness is multi disciplinary thus colored by the backgrounds and educations of its practitioners. Indeed, more and more clinician’s acquire these practices, and also apply it as supplements to therapy interventions. Body based or body oriented psychotherapies such as yoga or embodied mindfulness are definitely on the rise at this moment.
How did you get in touch with all these different things?
Well, long story short: I was always interested in philosophy, existentialism and studying life, and studying psychology was a natural choice. One of my professors was a yogini, and there my formal yoga and meditation practice started.
What is the biggest difference between ‘a regular clinical psychologist’ and you, also integrating teachings from different lineages?
I don’t see it so much as a difference, more as a supplement of perspectives. In the end it gives a more nuanced language on the human experience, and how it is to be a human, living a life with all its different experiences. When that is said, there are however distinctions that clinical psychology embody the knowledge of psychopathology, neurology, diagnostics, nurture/nature and social perspective, and when working in institutions and as GZ you oblige to health care laws and principle declarations as a professional. All therapists specialize within certain methodology, and you can see mindfulness and yoga as body oriented psychotherapy as such. Being a clinical psychologist simply means there is a standard towards evidence based methodology, and that there are guidelines for documentation. Also, it involves helping people that are not able to function fully in their lives, to puzzle the pieces together. Psychology is the science of understanding the mind, yoga about transcending it. Though to transcend the mind stuff we need to understand it first. “Naming it to tame it” as referred to in the insight tradition. It´s all about knowing yourself a little bit more, and then being able to make more skillful choices for yourself, both in actions, thoughts and emotionally.
How do you think we can decrease the number of burn outs and depressions these days within the tools your working with?
These methods are inviting in life style changes, and work long term au contraire to many treatment interventions that are symptom oriented. Its low threshold as well, and can be practiced despite cognitive impairments, language differences, physical states and more. And when you learn them, you can integrate them in your everyday life as a tool to manage challenging times. Long term it can also support attitude change towards how to live your everyday life. Burn outs also carry a strong societal component, the tones of constant achievement, perfectionism and production. The natural pauses, both in every day life and in a life time seem to be diminished. Feeling intensely exhausted, or depleted in energy is a natural reaction when the gap between what you put out compared to what you feel received feels less meaningful. When the content of your days, or life feels less meaningful, unease or disease is higher. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness all have fantastic practices which are great tools to help us rewire our brain circuits, supporting us towards being more integrated individuals.
Mindfulness is all about (re)connecting with yourself, why is this self-connection so important?
Contact inwardly gives more perspective, and more awareness on what your needs for living more skillfully is. In return it might strengthen your emotional stamina, or tolerance towards difficult thoughts or feelings, which therefor can lead to the ability to be kinder to your self. Inviting in more self care, or generosity and loving kindness supports us towards leading a more sustainable life. For ourselves, and for our fellow beings. Minding our self, is minding others.