Posts Tagged ‘breath’

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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Quickest way to improve from PTSD!

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My healing lacked direction, wasted precious time everyday. Confusion, fear and intense anxiety placed me in survival mode again and again.

Now I would approach healing entirely different. The sequence of what to address first, would be changed.

I looked for help inside and outside the box. Intuitive, holistic healers were used along with many therapies.

The one constant that I relied on was aerobic exercise. Pushing myself to near exhaustion brought exhilaration to my body and mind. This practice would stay.

Next, all effort would be invested in calming the nervous system. Stop the fight or flight mechanism from firing erroneously.

Our triggers firing give PTSD the mirage of power, potency, the ability to cause harm. That huge jolt in the solar plexus (cortisol) can freeze us, numb our bodies in terrifying fear.

This is survival mode, we need to fix this, our broken nervous system first. Yes, our adrenal stress response is out of whack, spotting danger everywhere, even in mundane situations.

Meditation/Mindfulness can be simplified, the big connotation and complexity dropped.

If I were helping someone improve from PTSD today, all effort would be directed at mastering focus on ten breaths.

Ten slow, focused breaths, where thought has faded, can calm that trigger exploding.

Ten breaths can Escort us out of survival mode, relieve the biggest fear PTSD brings us.

Avoidance, hyoervigilance, flash backs, anxiety and fear lose massive power. Symptoms weaken, PTSD loosens it’s grip when we calm down.

If our triggers fail to ignite the fight or flight mechanism, not much left to fear.

In my opinion this is the fastest way to heal and quickest way of having some peace of mind.

Ten slow, focused breaths can change your life.

Simple, specific, concrete and bulletproof.

I have done this, have helped others sit still and focus when triggered.

It is scary and having a mentor to encourage and reassure your safety are very helpful.

Can you master ten breaths?

You can practice anytime, anywhere.

What stands in your way?

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It takes a different kind of courage to heal. .

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Being courageous athletically meant enduring pain, overcoming psychological challenges and competing fiercely.

Playing professional baseball was like a battle every night, competing for a prize, sacrificing my body for success.

Being courageous with PTSD is completely different.

The battle is non action, passive acceptance and surrender.

I learned to wage war with PTSD by surrendering completely to the storyline as an observer.

I learned to focus on my breath, staying present as my fight or flight mechanism exploded.

My personality was the opposite. Professional Competitive sports is about skill, hard work and intimidation.

In golf most of the field can shoot 62 on a given day. The six inches between their ears is what separates the champions.

Surrendering felt weak, a place of weakness.

I was terrified to surrender when feeling so vulnerable. My heart would pound, that cortisol jolt rocked my being, my nervous system shocked me with electrical impulses and my amygdala spotted imminent danger.

Summoning the courage while meditating one day, I gave up all resistance to my adrenal stress mechanism firing.

I opened my arms wide, exposing my heart, visualizing it as a butterfly net, gently catching my fears, observing, then releasing.

Their was ultimate power in surrendering in the face of the scariest moments, when our nervous system erupts violently.

Staying present, intently aware of my body secreting cortisol and adrenaline, revealed the reality of my triggers.

Observing my trauma from a distance, surrendering to their virtual power, integrated some of my trauma.

Surrendering felt unnatural at first, I was an avid overachiever, a doer.

Well that is how I viewed my creation, my “Ego” at the time.

I had to let go of that mirage of the fighting overachiever.

Funny how PTSD led me on a spiritual journey.

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The contents of our conscious mind (Bandwidth)

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In the TV series “Elementary” Holmes decries, resist filling your mind with unimportant data. It works much better using less bandwidth.

For some reason we try to fill our mind constantly, avoiding being alone with our mind empty at all costs.

We will binge on TV, a hobby, constant worry or anything else than be alone with our mind.

Why?

Worthless trivia clogs the mind, think what trauma thoughts do to the minds ability to focus.

We can only focus on a finite amount of data at one time (bandwidth).

Think of our conscious ability at any moment as the contents of a glass container.

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Some basic functions are always present during waking hours, our defense mechanism, balance, motor skills, breathing and bodily functions, there to keep us alive and safe.

From here our choices decide how our life unfolds.

Anxiety, worry, doubt, resentment and fear take up valuable space.

These emotions can attract enormous amounts of thought and judgment filling our glass to capacity.

I know, my childhood PTSD filled my mind with constant worry and irrational fear.

No room was left for anything else.

Good emotions, joy and then happiness have no room to visit.

This described my suffering for decades.

Now, I have room, my glass rarely overflows.

My happiest time during the day is when I am focused, empty of thought and emotion, just observing what me eyes see.

Funny, a cool breeze, a perfect flower or a massive tree can bring a big grin and a peaceful feeling.

I like to think, but only when I am aware and directing where my thoughts go.

I refuse to ruminate or judge and am quick to let go of any judgment that happens automatically.

With my mind empty and focused in this present moment, I have an opportunity to be happy.

What fills your glass today?

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Little Things

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One of the tiniest things is a simple breath, a couple of seconds in time.

At times almost imperceptible by to the human eye.

Our Breath happens without thought, automatic like a reflex.

The breath is taken for granted, ignored, its power invisible to the masses.

The happiest humans on this planet use it to reach stages of the mind where rapture has been experienced.

Such a divide, such a contrast in how we value the breath.

If you want to enhance your life, following your breath has the most power of our organism.

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Failure is impossible.

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Failure is impossible.

We control two things, effort and attitude. Effort and Attitude can be enormous anchors in life.

Results are far beyond our control and miles above our pay grade. Life happens, suffering will visit your doorstep, happiness will arrive as a choice.

Remember failure is impossible if we give all out effort with a good attitude. My PTSD melts away when I am present, focused and living fully.

We can not change the past, my childhood abuse sabotaged my life until I reached 60.

In my mind, I decided that was enough, “No more” was my mantra.

In this moment, my past has died, unlimited opportunity is available.

Rick Hanson in “Buddha’s Brain” shares this: “The number of possible combinations of 100 billion neurons firing or not is approximately 10 to the millionth power, or 1 followed by a million zeros, in principle; this is the number of possible states of your brain.”

Sounds like at the cellular level we have unlimited opportunity available.

I can be sad for the suffering of others, along with being able to experience happiness within my inner world.

Death is inevitable, our journey is where we get to choose suffering or thriving under any circumstance.

We all have bad moments, weak moments, the trick is to limit their duration.

I give intention before meditating for all sentient beings, those suffering.

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Can we not worry, not think?

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Similar to not thinking, trying to not worry is near impossible.

An example: On the tee at a short par three, one of my buddies shouts out, don’t worry about that water.

It is impossible to not think about that water. During my backswing or right before I hit the ball, the anxiety about the water impacts me.

We can not, not think, not worry, or not doubt, but we can focus and take action. Back to that tee box, I visualize my fight path and landing zone.

Now I can do that, focus and absorp the current moment. That water gets no attention when I focus intently on something else.

Look at how professional athletes stay focused and calm under extreme pressure with millions watching.

Put a superstar athlete under tremendous pressure and you will see a gem.

Place Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or a Lionel Messi under extreme scrutiny and you will see a transformational performance.

They thrive when you force them to focus more intently.

Their minds are calm, like they see things in slow motion from their intensity.

They also have supreme confidence and trust they will prevail.

Doubt does not exist when you get enthralled in the present moment, whether competing for a Super Bowl or just meditating alone at home.

We do not have to be superstars to focus and eliminate negative thought and emotion.

We only need to focus on our breath, on our purpose and our actions.

Live in the moment, do not entertain thoughts like, can I do this for a month. Suffering follows negative thought and judgment.

Just be ok right now and leave it alone.

We need to use our minds to help not hinder us.

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What our mind conjures up during times like this… ….”Focused and Fearless

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“Look into the stories, fantasies, fabrications, desires, aversions, reactions, and doubts that periodically occupy your thoughts.

Notice what your mind conjures up in the first moments after waking up in the morning—that period between waking and breakfast is a fascinating window into your habitual thought patterns.

Where does your mind go when you sit down for a few moments to rest without the distractions of radio or TV?

Take ten minutes now and lie down on your bed watching the mind without falling asleep.

What patterns of thought dominate?

Where does your mind wander when it is not directed by the structure of a task?

Can you identify your habitual thinking pattern?

Is it blame? memory? fantasies of success? complaining? worry? insecurities about finances, relationships, opinions, self-image? are you planning your next activity?”

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Can you Concentrate during this Pandemic???

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Focused and Fearless by Shaila Catherine:

“Concentration brings with it a natural joy that arises as the mind settles and is absent of distraction.

A surgeon may love surgery, not because the operating room is a pleasant place to be, but because the task demands such complete attention that the mind is filled with the delight associated with concentration.

Kayakers are often enveloped in rapture even though their bodies are cramped in little boats and splashed by frigid water.

A concentrated mind is focused, unified, and stable, regardless of whether the conditions are uncomfortable or luxurious.

In the Pali language of the early Buddhist scriptures, samadhi is the term that has most often been translated into English as “concentration,” yet samadhi describes something more than the narrow focus implied by “concentration.”

It is a calm unification that occurs when the mind is profoundly undistracted.

Samadhi is the beautiful state of an undistracted mind, described in the Pali texts as “internally steadied, composed, unified, and concentrated.

These four qualities indicate that samadhi is not merely focused on a single object.

It is a state of profound serenity that encompasses a balanced, joyful composure, expressing the natural settledness of undistracted awareness.

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My two cents: Shaila Catherine’s book seems so much more immediate and essential now.

Focus enables us to be aware and nothing changes without awareness.

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