Posts Tagged ‘AWARENESS’

5 Vagus Nerve Stimulation Exercises

vagus nerve stimulation Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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From https://drarielleschwartz.com/natural-vagus-nerve-stimulation-dr-arielle-schwartz/#.XvjaxSUiclQ

Unless you have a surgically implanted device you actually cannot directly stimulate your vagus nerve; however, you can indirectly stimulate your vagus nerve to relieve keyed up or shut down nervous system states.

Remember, your vagus nerve passes through your belly, diaphragm, lungs, throat, inner ear, and facial muscles.

Therefore, practices that change or control the actions of these areas of the body can influence the functioning of the vagus nerve through the mind-body feedback loop. You can try these from the comfort of your living room:

  • Humming: The vagus nerve passes through by the vocal cords and the inner ear and the vibrations of humming is a free and easy way to influence your nervous system states. Simply pick your favorite tune and you’re ready to go. Or if yoga fits your lifestyle you can “OM” your way to wellbeing. Notice and enjoy the sensations in your chest, throat, and head. (Learn about Vagus Nerve Stimulation with Yoga here).

  • Conscious Breathing: The breath is one of the fastest ways to influence our nervous system states. The aim is to move the belly and diaphragm with the breath and to slow down your breathing. Vagus nerve stimulation occurs when the breath is slowed from our typical 10-14 breaths per minute to 5-7 breaths per minute. You can achieve this by counting the inhalation to 5, hold briefly, and exhale to a count of 10. You can further stimulate the vagus nerve by creating a slight constriction at the back of the throat and creating an “hhh”. Breathe like you are trying to fog a mirror to create the feeling in the throat but inhale and exhale out of the nose sound (in yoga this is called Ujjayi pranayam).

  • Valsalva Maneuver: This complicated name refers to a process of attempting to exhale against a closed airway. You can do this by keeping your mouth closed and pinching your nose while trying to breathe out. This increases the pressure inside of your chest cavity increasing vagal tone.

  • Diving Reflex: Considered a first rate vagus nerve stimulation technique, splashing cold water on your face from your lips to your scalp line stimulates the diving reflex. You can also achieve the nervous system cooling effects by placing ice cubes in a ziplock and holding the ice against your face and a brief hold of your breath. The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces anger and relaxes your body. An additional technique that stimulates the diving reflex is to submerge your tongue in liquid. Drink and hold lukewarm water in your mouth sensing the water with your tongue.

  • Connection: Reach out for relationship. Healthy connections to others, whether this occurs in person, over the phone, or even via texts or social media in our modern world, can initiate regulation of our body and mind. Relationships can evoke the spirit of playfulness and creativity or can relax us into a trusting bond into another. Perhaps you engage in a lighthearted texting exchange with a friend. If you are in proximity with another you can try relationship expert, David Snarch’s simple, yet powerful exercise called “hugging until relaxed.” The instructions are to simply “stand on your own two feet, place your arms around your partner, focus on yourself, and to quiet yourself down, way down.”

Hidden trauma resurfaces, opening up the deepest cut of my life

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My healing journey always followed my inner guide. I trusted this guide would bring forth trauma that needed integrated when I was ready.

Access to my inner guide needed meditation as the vehicle to enter into my subconscious world.

At times even following the inner guide PTSD was still overwhelming when it exploded.

I believed total healing was possible. For a two year period, I was free of doubt and worry, triggers never fired and intrusive thoughts had subsided.

This was a euphoric time for me. The cessation of suffering felt miraculous.

Then one day my symptoms reignited from a side effect of a prescribed blood pressure medicine.

No new trauma had surface with this event, it was all nervous system exploding. It took a while but I settled my nervous system down.

Stunned this week, a powerful and shameful trauma exploded into my consciousness.

No way did I think any incident in my life could be stronger that a whole childhood of abuse.

Hidden below my childhood, the event that emotionally killed my trust popped forward.

This event keeps presenting itself in vivid color without any input from me. It runs on its own with an emotionally charged storyline.

I am bombarded with horrible images of public betrayal when I was 19. The imagined scene is so embarrassing and demeaning, it takes my breath away.

It has haunted me this week and stole my sense of value in life.

Without my fight or flight firing, this event brings ridicule and shame in force.

Emotionally it has numbed me, I feel the hurt like I was 19 again.

There is no danger of ptsd gaining power again, however it has brought a great sadness from it’s deep grave.

My “Ego” was emotionally scarred for life from this event. My childhood gave me trust issues and this event extinguished what was left.

I did not know this was the source of my lost trust until this week. This event never entered my consciousness, never had this trauma memory see the light of day until this week.

PTSD has been much more complex, more secretive than I ever thought possible.

Hard to believe anything is below this disaster.

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Meditation is a matter not of theory

Pixabay:Pexel

This is a very healing action!

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“Meditation is a matter not of theory but of practice, just as it does not satisfy your hunger to read a restaurant menu if you are not going to eat something from it.“

Matthew Richard

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My two cents: Meditation is not an intellectual property, reading a book or taking a class helps little.

Our healing will happen internally by our own action.

This action for me was meditating and integrating.

If this does not work for you, then find an action.

As one therapist told me, if you have to limp, get out on the dance floor.

The conditions for those of us with ptsd are never going to be perfect.

Each trigger, I forced myself to stay present for one breath before I avoided, denied or froze. In time that one breath grew to two, then five and eventually ten.

By that time panic had calmed and I guess I ate the elephant a bite at a time. Small actions work.

I could of labeled those stepping stones failures instead they were valued as successes.

We need Little Successes and that happens with daily activity and direction.

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Trauma Victims deal with sensations in the body

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“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. . . . Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”

Bessel van der Kolk

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My two cents: Trauma is stored in the mind and body, we have certain areas where our trauma manifests.

Mine is around my solar plexus.

The secret is learning to observe these sensations without judgment or reaction.

If we do not sit still with our awareness intently focused, how will we ever know our internal world (reality).

The more familiar I became with my trauma, the more I understood its mechanism.

Trauma needs fear to exist.

When my fight or flight mechanism lost power, life took a giant step towards healing.

Takes practice and courage to face our adrenal stress response, calmly.

If you are like me, looking to the past brings agony, making any comparison to others can drive us nuts and predicting the future has to much worry.

The only place that is free for me is this moment, empty of thought, empty of loss and most of traumas impact.

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A trauma memory, my worst, surfaces after 50 years!

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Trauma feels dangerous when it explodes.

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The last two posts have detailed how fear and shame add strength and confusion to our symptoms.

To heal, we must face these past traumas that have ruined our life.

For me, it was an entire childhood raised in violence and criticism.

My abuse occurred before my brain developed.

My abuse was intertwined with the development of the mind.

We heal by observing our trauma when it explodes or the intrusive thoughts start rolling.

Integration happens when we stay present, accepting and then surrendering to what terrifies us.

I thought mine was over but an incident burning beneath my childhood resurfaced.

When trauma surfaces, it arrives at the age it occurred.

This happened when I was 19, in college.

The intensity and rage connected to this memory depresses me.

This is unresolved and stronger than my childhood trauma.

My traumatized 19 year old needs comforted and the ability to feel self worth return.

He needs to know it is long over and it is safe now.

The shame connected to this trauma destroyed my ability to trust for 50 years.

I have found the source of the betrayal, always running well hidden below what I thought was the worst culprit, my childhood.

Hard to separate my 19 year old ego from present day 68 year old Marty.

Our trauma fears resemble our greatest terror we can imagine.

Now, my fight or flight mechanism stays calm, saving me untold suffering.

What is left are the intense shameful emotions, thoughts, judgments and the desire for revenge.

That is the 19 year old who is stuck, suffering all this time.

It is a burden I hid so deep, it has stayed buried 50 years.

Our work is never done.

This is not an easy life.

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Petrifying sensations and emotions. From Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness

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But here are two factors that are immediately relevant to trauma-sensitive mindfulness.

The first is fear.

Trauma can make us terrified of our internal experience.

Traumatic events persist inside survivors in the form of petrifying sensations and emotions.

Understandably, survivors become afraid to feel these again.

Van der Kolk described it this way: Traumatized people . . . do not feel safe inside—their own bodies have become booby-trapped.

As a result, it is not OK to feel what you feel and know what you know, because your body has become the container of dread and horror.

The enemy who started on the outside is transformed into an inner torment. (Emerson & Hopper, 2011, p. xix)

This is one of the most haunting, visceral costs of trauma: being forced to continually cope with gut-wrenching—often terrifying—sensations that live on inside.

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How do we impact our Window of Tolerance

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From Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness:

“This brings us to the window of tolerance—a zone that lies between the two extremes of hyper-and hypoarousal.

The window of tolerance is tied to cognitive processing.

With hyperarousal, our cognitive processing tends to be disorganized and in disarray. There’s too much stimulation, and it often becomes difficult to pay attention.

  

With hypoarousal, our cognitive processing becomes disabled. It’s hard to think clearly, and people often report feeling spacey, removed, and unable to concentrate.

This is one reason trauma survivors can have difficulty functioning in their daily lives: disorganized and disabled cognitive processing makes everyday tasks difficult, especially those that involve executive skills such as planning, decision making, and organizing daily activities.

I’ve worked with clients who, in the aftermath of a traumatic experience, felt like they’d lost their ability to manage and control their minds and lives.”

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My two cents: How can we impact our window of tolerance?

One full proof way is to engage in vigorous aerobic exercise, pushing yourself.

Go swim, hike, run, etc. The achievement and exhilaration are shared with the mind. For hyperarousal, it calms us down, for hypoarousal, it gets a stationary body moving.

The endorphins are icing on the cake for our effort.

Meditation was my main weapon. Slowing my breath, focused and empty of thought, dissipated the cortisol and adrenaline.

It is a process, a subtle daily progression away from suffering.

I practiced when I was calm, to be ready when all hell broke loose.

You can build confidence and become friends with your nervous system.

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A. Viewers response: “Perserverence so they do not win”

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A response from Tuckle:

“Thank you for your perspective and this wonderful post. I had never thought about perseverance so they do not win. I will have to write about that one in my journal.”

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My two cents: “Perseverance so they do not win”

My challenge from birth was to survive my father.

In childhood it was alive and real, in adulthood it became Complex PTSD, a mental disorder that threatened not only to take my peace of mind, but my life.

At my lowest, fight or flight firing all throughout the day, suffering making a day seem like a week, the critical moment had arrived.

I can not describe serious PTSD or how awful an upside down nervous system impacts the body and mind.

Life was completely full of suffering, intense anxiety, hyoervigilance, terror, worry.

Life did not have little light moments or happy events. No joy in Mudville!

I have never experienced a more devastating period, death seemed easier, life took real courage.

Somewhere deep inside, a part of me refused to give up, to let my father win.

That day I promised to endure whatever came next, to live in spite of my father’s cruelty.

I think we all have that moment, when we either take responsibility or become a victim for life or death.

This battle is an internal struggle.

On the surface, all the trauma symptoms occupy our consciousness, however below the surface an internal battle wages for control.

When my “Ego” was in control, I felt hurt, injustice, anger and a little sorry for myself. These injustices and anger thoughts made PTSD grow stronger.

When I could stay present, focused, below traumas influence, life had opportunity.

These glimpses gave me hope.

We do not pick the challenges that arrive, self inflicted or without a clue.

It is always our reaction that determines life.

Do not let your abuser win.

Fight for your happiness.

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Father’s Day not a happy day for some

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I twinge at all the hoopla, all the examples of great father son relationships in the sporting world. Touted as key to many professional athletes success, what about the rest of us.

Maybe that is why fear of failure drives so many to perform above their skill level.

Wonder if your father was your violent abuser?

I wonder what foster kids feel as the media tells you the value, the significance of this most important attachment.

Actually, I have gratitude for having a father, narcissistic and abusive but in his way he loved me.

Took me a long time to have gratitude for having a father, flawed as he was.

As the oldest male child, we become the narcissists project.

Much later in life, some of the skills learned Surviving childhood, willpower, ability to endure pain, and the strength to take action (perform) helped me heal.

My journey to heal turned into a spiritual journey, one where my struggles with PTSD were shared to help others improve.

Unless you believe in reincarnation, where we pick our parents to learn lessons of life, how do we get over childhood abuse.

For me, helping others on this path, being a mentor, has brought great joy. Maybe you would say a purpose later in life.

No matter our challenges, accepting the circumstances, then taking action to live life fully is our reprieve.

Hard not to think about your father on Father’s Day.

Turn the negative into positive action.

Contemplating suicide when I hit bottom, I rationalized my father would win.

No way would I ever let that happen.

Even if I had to suffer each day, life would run its full course.

My childhood had built a kid with great will power and strength.

Maybe feeling unworthy but willing to fight for his existence.

Happiness looks and feels different for each one of us.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Value and loss or lost in thought.

Thank you Dar for this pic

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Scarcity seems to give value to things. Gold, gems and jewels are rare, valued with exorbitant price tags.

Emotionally, approval, status, power and control are highly prized possessions.

Not really possessions, however coveted on equal terms.

After basic needs, shelter, safety, sustenance and a little attachment, what is most valuable to you?

Kids, family, a mate, or BFF would be many first choices.

After those, what brings us closer to being happy, content or equanimous?

The space between my ears is the most important, most valuable possession for me.

Whatever I let percolate in this space decides my attitude, my personality, my life.

My mind has been filled with intrusive thoughts from PTSD, which brought enormous suffering.

Confusion, worry, doubt and fear link up with thought to make a misery soup for dinner.

During this pandemic, thoughts of being bored, unthinkable to imagine a meditator to be depressed, entered my head.

My next decision decides whether suffering or freedom rules. We do not decide which thoughts arrive but we do choose to engage or stay present.

My mind focused, empty of thought, observing life without judgment, experiences joy, freedom.

That is a calm, content, deep feeling of wonderment some days, mundane joy on other days.

My bad memories, childhood abuse and all the loss disappears when I let my mind empty out all its thoughts.

Life has opportunity if I let these distractions go.

Worry and doubt are judgments, negative future erroneous predictions.

Living in the moment eliminates many, many, many issues.

Remember our attention, that is where we aim it, is the most power we possess.

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