Archive for the ‘Assorted’ Category

How much of mental life occurs outside of Consciousness?

Pixabay: geralt
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“Much of mental life (over 99%) occurs outside of conscious awareness, and this is true for feelings and emotions too.”

Excerpt from Arnie Kozak, Dukkha (Suffering)
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My two cents: I find that percentage way to high, but it must be very high, very subversive to our wellbeing.

Neuroscientists tell us 60,000 thoughts cross our paths every day, emanating from this unending subconscious source. Netherland, maybe.

 

My next question would be, how much does our mental life impact our real life, our moment to moment existence, decisons, wellbeing, our ability to be happy?

 

For me, my childhood trauma lived entirely in my subconscious for five decades, dormant but alive subconsciously.

 

At 55 PTSD burst into my consciousness while experiencing a family crisis.

 

Mental disorders are definitely anchored in our subconscious, ghosts of memories past.

 

Time for me to get on my Bandwagon: Meditation, focusing intently on the breath, explores our subconscious, thoroughly in due time.

 

Healing was a process of uncovering the hidden source of my traumas, then integrating them to current time.

 

Without my meditation practice, I would not have healed.

 

It was not the only source of healing but it made it possible for therapy to work, for me to face my fight or flight mechanism and to explore my subconscious (inner) world.

 

Some of my subconscious has become known to me, the massive pile has shrunk and with that came freedom, not complete freedom but some.

 

Chasing our hidden fears is not a challenge for the faint of heart, courage and daily action are required to succeed.

How many people devote any time exploring their mental condition?

 

Surely not 99%!


If 99% occurs outside of conscious awareness, how can we not explore What shapes our life?
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Peeling the Onion: A meditative journey

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Think about the traumas in your life, it maybe one horrific accident or a complete childhood, as an onion, each one different than the next in size, taste, color and texture.

Our Onion grew as we aged, more layers added over the years.

Think of some of our awkward or embarrassing moments in life as smaller onions or scallions, much less formidable or detrimental than our big trauma Onion.

PTSD and our onion open up the same way, peeeling back the outer layers, exposing deeper trauma (Layers).

Meditation helped me first become aware of the subtleties of each layer, then helped me peel back the outer layer.

The process like meditation is repetitive.

I meditated everyday, observing my traumas storyline from a distance, becoming familiar with my fight or flight mechanism.

Our trauma Onion is extremely strong, capable of making us cry and suffer if not handled properly.

If we assume healing is the peeling away of all the layers until we hit our core, meditation was the scalpel that made the cuts.

We peel the onion by surrendering to the fear it lays at our doorstep. The deeper layers cause us to stop peeling, the fear is more formidable at these inner layers.

I have healed by sitting prone, focused, while surrendering to my fears, being vulnerable in the face of perceived danger.

Conclusion: That trauma Onion is a mirage, a past traumatic event, stored as an implicit memory with all the fear and emotion of that moment.

No real danger existed in any of my triggers.

The same external triggers exist, however my same mind does not react to them now.

I figured out organically, sitting quietly observing my trauma it was benign.

PTSD is the rerun of a traumatic event that we watch on our personal trauma T.V.

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A closed circuit showing of a past horrific event.

So why did ptsd live after my abuser, my father, died?

The memory does not need him being alive to exist. The onion has grown and now has a life of its own, inside our head unfortunately.

I have never seen an Onion peel itself or PTSD to heal with time.

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Do thoughts sabotage your meditation practice?

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I went to zen center for five years. We would meditate for a half hour, then do a three minute walking meditation, followed by another half hour of meditation.

Most of us fought for an hour for a few seconds of an empty, focused mind. Counting my breaths did not work for me or anyone but the Zen monk.

Being a visual person, I created a breathing model. It resembled an upright infinity symbol with four distinct parts.

Inhale, pause, exhale, pause. The pauses were the weak link, a sort of door for thoughts to proliferate.

First, I performed exercises highlighting my pauses.

I would take a deep inhale, then pause, a long, concerted pause where no exhaust leaks out. As I resisted the pressure in my lungs, I intently scanned my internal organs for agitation or energy.

Feel your whole chest cavity, give these pauses a purpose, an activity to accomplish.

Our pauses are the doors to our inner world. The pauses are as important as the inhales and exhales, treat them that way.

The mind and body work together like our inhales and exhales work with the pauses.

The breath does not flow without pauses, music is noise without pauses between notes.

The second pause is different from the initial pause.

The first pause is like a balloon we just inflated, the air inside creates pressure looking to be released.

It takes force to hold the first pause.

The pause after the exhale has no pressure to resist.

Our body is truly at a suspended animation, an opportunity to know our inner world.

Know where fear manifests in your body, where anger raises its powerful head, where trauma resides, and where contentment and joy spring forth.

The breath is the tool I used to explore my inner world, the tool used to release body trauma and the tool I used to integrate my PTSD.

Until I gave my pauses the attention they needed my meditation practice languished.

I always broke things down to smaller pieces, then worked on those pieces.

I worked on my pauses exclusively for a while, then went back to meditating with increased focus.

Where do thoughts enter your mind when meditating?

Inhales starts bottom right moving upward. The pauses are the short arches.

Inhale, pause, exhale, pause, one breath cycle

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ANS part two

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Generally, the sympathetic division does the following:

Prepares the body for stressful or emergency situations—fight or flight

Thus, the sympathetic division increases heart rate and the force of heart contractions and widens (dilates) the airways to make breathing easier. It causes the body to release stored energy.

Muscular strength is increased. This division also causes palms to sweat, pupils to dilate, and hair to stand on end. It slows body processes that are less important in emergencies, such as digestion and urination.

The parasympathetic division does the following:

Controls body process during ordinary situations.

Generally, the parasympathetic division conserves and restores. It slows the heart rate and decreases blood pressure.

It stimulates the digestive tract to process food and eliminate wastes. Energy from the processed food is used to restore and build tissues.

Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions are involved in sexual activity, as are the parts of the nervous system that control voluntary actions and transmit sensation from the skin (somatic nervous system).

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My two cents: If we can stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system our fight or flight mechanism will stop firing.

Ptsd is a bluff, it is a stored memory, a reaction to a overwhelming dangerous event we could not tolerate.

Every time my fight or flight mechanism fired, no harm or threat materialized.

In 10 minutes my nervous system calmed but I never realized it was invisible fear, not real.

I became more afraid of my fight or flight firing than the triggers.

How about you? Triggers are usually confusing, stored trauma is inaccurate and incomplete.

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Overview of the Autonomic Nervous System part one (excerpt) part of the fight or flight mechanism along with the brakes

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By Phillip Low, MD, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic

The autonomic nervous system controls internal body processes such as the following:

Blood pressure

Heart and breathing rates

Body temperature

Digestion

Metabolism (thus affecting body weight)

The balance of water and electrolytes (such as sodium and calcium)

The production of body fluids (saliva, sweat, and tears)

Urination

Defecation

Sexual response

Many organs are controlled primarily by either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic division.

Sometimes the two divisions have opposite effects on the same organ. For example, the sympathetic division increases blood pressure, and the parasympathetic division decreases it.

Overall, the two divisions work together to ensure that the body responds appropriately to different situations.

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My two cents: Ptsd upsets this balance as our sympathetic nervous system fires our fight or flight mechanism over and over. Real danger never arrived during all my fight or flight episodes.

It must of been many mirages, even spécial agent Gibbs from NCIS could not survive this much danger.

Our breath has great influence, a great power to calm the body, using the parasympathetic nervous system.

As always, I encourage everyone to learn to meditate, it helps all aspects of our emotional wellbeing in a positive way.

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Thoughts can be our Prison: add intent listening and feeling to your meditation practice

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I spent six months isolated in my garage huddled in fear, agorophic from avoiding my trauma.

My crime was trying to think my way out of PTSD, cognitively outsmart it.

Thinking (dissociating) fueled my trauma, symptoms intensified, my nervous system sensed imminent danger constantly.

Solution: I learned a specific way of focusing my mind, using hearing, the breath, somatic feeling (sensing my heart) and a visual model as a useful guide.

The visual guide is a continuum, a sort of upright infinity symbol. We see the breath has four distinct parts each as valuable as the other, it can flow like a sheet of music some days.

Then I am inside my nostrils when inhaling and exhaling. The cool air is the inhale, the exhale the warmer exhaust.

The pauses, for me, were the spaces where thoughts entered my consciousness.

My solution was to prioritize these pauses with present moment sensing. Pauses are like suspended animation, the body is as still is it will ever be.

The body makes noises inhaling and exhaling, expanding the lungs then contracting them.

So I used a somatic present moment sensing and intense hearing for my focus objects.

At my pauses I spend time sensing my chest cavity and heart, getting to know my inner world at this most frozen of times.

I may enter my heart and feel it slowing, then listen for its silent beat.

I use hearing as much as focus on the breath along with feeling my internal

machinations.

Be like a Geiger counter sensing agitation, tightness, pain, anxiety, calm, contentment or unrest during a pause.

Now my pauses had purpose, I would switch from being inside my nostrils for inhales and exhales, to listening and sensing at the pauses.

Thoughts had a much harder time entering my space.

Nothing is full proof and meditating is easier some days then others but even the bad days heal.

Remember, Meditation is not about influencing anything, achieving or overcoming anything, it is not an attack, it is learning to surrender.

Our first goal in meditation is build our focus to the point where thoughts clear and the mind is empty.

The body and mind start repairing and healing around this no thought space.

No cancer will not be cured but optimum mental health can be attained on this journey.

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What is the mind?

Pixabay: Gadini

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From Meditation for the Love of it:

According to the tantras, the phenomenon we experience as “mind” is actually a particularly vibrant and subtle kind of energy.

An ocean of energy, in fact, in which waves of thoughts and emotions arise and subside.

Your thoughts and feelings—the difficult, negative, obsessive ones, as well as the peaceful and clever ones—are all made of the same subtle, invisible, highly dynamic “stuff.”

Mindenergy is so evanescent (passing out of sight quickly) that it can dissolve in a moment, yet so powerful that it can create “stories” that run you for a lifetime.

The secret revealed by the tantric sages is that if you can recognize thoughts for what they are—if you can see that a thought is nothing but mind-energy—your thoughts will stop troubling you.

That doesn’t mean they’ll stop.

But you’ll no longer be at their mercy.

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Looking back, assessing the arduous journey

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For some of us abuse started around five, way before a little mind had developed. I did not have the skills to even discern it was abuse. Criticism replaced encouragement, achievement was expected not rewarded.

I thought everyone was raised like me. Perfection was demanded of all kids and met with harsh physical punishment when it was not attained.

Fear, anxiety and a stomach that ached and was prone to vomiting often followed me. Never figured out, it was my abuse that was the culprit. My nervous system was in survival mode quite often.

Everyday life had real danger, verbal threats, physical harm and suffering.

I was shocked to find other kids had a much different experience.

They could not relate to me and I sure as hell had no idea what love, support and kindness looked like. I did not fit in at home or school.

Looking back, it seemed I needed to suffer a tremendous amount in my life before death would grace my door.

One of the biggest joys of my life was healing (improving) the first time.

For two years life was free of intense anxiety and suffering.

At 68, I see I fought a lifetime to earn two short years. But those two years meant everything to me, a magnificent triumph.

Now another trauma has returned and upset the delicate balance between suffering and being free.

In spite of my plight, I meditate and practice as hard as ever.

For my life, I had to find some peace of mind, some happiness in my ability to endure my suffering and not slack off my effort.

That was happiness for me.

Happiness is much different for me than normal kids.

I have gratitude because I know other kids had it much worse than me.

Self pity is something I loathe and rarely practice.

This recent trauma has clarified why I am like I am.

It was not easy to sit and accept everything about myself.

How about your journey and challenges?

Never give up, never give in.

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The Ego versus Self

 

Pixabay: Janbaby

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From Meditation for the Love of It:

 

“One way you know you are experiencing the ego and not the Self is that the ego (ahamkara in Sanskrit) always experiences itself in comparison to others.

 

The ego never feels fully equal to others: it sees others as higher or lower, as better or worse, as friendly or potentially hostile.

 

The Self, on the other hand, just is. 

 

The Self sees everything and everyone as equal to itself.

 

The ego bears the same relationship to the Self as does a lightbulb to the electrical current coursing through it.

 

The bulb looks as if it gives light independently, but in fact it doesn’t.

 

It is just a container.

 

The true source of illumination is the electrical current that runs through the bulb.”

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I am Responsible: first three words of healing


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We are Responsible for our life, our behavior, our reactions and our attitude.

 

Realize excuses are failures to take responsibility.

 

My father was an abusive, violent narcissist.

 

In spite of my father, I am responsible for how I live my life, treat other people and treat myself.

 

If you want to heal this bridge needs to be crossed.

 


We need not forgive but we must take total responsibility for our life.

 


Next, Wellbeing will be harder for me to achieve, it is the challenge I was born into.

 

My responsibility let me accept the challenge of changing it.

 

The buck stops with us, we are the captain of the ship, the quarterback of the offense, the one who is responsible for our actions.

 

Hard to avoid giving all out effort, if you take responsibility.

 


If you do not take responsibility, victim will be the label you earn.

 


Conclusion: Do not compare your challenges with another, think of your challenges as a heavy sled, we are tasked with pushing a certain distance everyday.

 

Focus intently on moving the sled, distractions will find it harder to break through.


Responsibility brings the gift of purpose.

 

My father wins if I fail.

 

That’s all the incentive I have ever needed in the dark times of doubt and helplessness.

 

What is your incentive.

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