Posts Tagged ‘C-PTSD’

A Question from a viewer, Nik, how do I begin, where do I start????

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This post is three years old but just as relevant today.

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Nik, has recently experienced a full blown trigger with a big cortisol shock and panic feelings. Also he inquires how to deplete cortisol and begin healing.
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let me set the stage by describing our attitude towards healing, our practice; No right or wrong, good or bad, judgments or dialogue is involved. Cognitive thought and dissociation are the culprits of strengthening PTSD.
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Print out this simple model, a continuum of inhales, exhales and pauses without any counting, abstract thought or places to get lost. We will address this as a focus skill for the moment, no more no less. Mindfulness brings many connotations and judgments, so we practice this focus skill for now.
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Place your finger on the bottom right corner, starting the inhale, followed by the arched pause, where we hold our breath, before exhaling slowly. Then we pause again before starting a brand new cycle.
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The goal is to train the mind to slow down and let go of thought. The mind wants to go fast, activate the sympathetic nervous system, fill with adrenaline and cortisol, as usual.
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At first keep your eyes open, focusing on the rhythm of the breath as you slow it down. The inhales and exhales are equal, as are the two pauses, a sort of music symphony of the breath.
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Feel the cool inhales, feel the warmer exhales, and balance the body and breath with equal pauses. The inhale sets the pace, speed and duration of the balancing exhale. The first pause after the inhale, is matched by second pause after the exhale, giving the breath a sort of slow melodic feel.
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If a thought emerges, come back to the model, that is it. practice ten minutes twice a day for a week without judgment or goals, except to practice everyday.
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Let us round off the start with “Affirmations” said out loud and recorded everyday. In the shower, driving, working or before bed.
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I strive to accept all of me, the human strengths and frailties, the flawed and exceptional me, as well.
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I strive to accept my current position in life with gratitude, staying present to live fully today.
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I strive to take action in the face of distraction and thought, today!
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good luck, act, give up thinking for a while.
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WHAT IS MEDITATION?

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Meditation is a practice
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that makes it possible to cultivate
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and develop certain basic positive human qualities
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in the same way as other forms of training
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make it possible to play
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a musical instrument
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or acquire any other skill.
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Matthew Ricard
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Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

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These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.
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In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.
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“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
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The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.
Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures. This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.
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This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.
The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing.
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Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.
When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.
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In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function — tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.
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The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said.
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“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”
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Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.
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“Breath by Breath” : A Mirror

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Mindfulness is often likened to a mirror; it simply reflects what is there. It is not a process of thinking; it is preconceptual, before thought.
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One can be mindful of thought.
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There is all the difference in the world between thinking and knowing that thought is happening, as thoughts chase each other through the mind and the process is mirrored back to us.
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The only time that mindfulness can happen is in the present moment; if you are thinking of the past, that is memory.
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It is possible to be mindful of memory, of course, but such mindfulness can only happen in the present.
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Mindfulness is unbiased.
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It is not for or against anything, just like a mirror, which does not judge what it reflects.
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Mindfulness has no goal other than the seeing itself.
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It doesn’t try to add to what’s happening or subtract from it, to improve it in any way.
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It isn’t detached, like a person standing on a hill far away from an experience, observing it with binoculars.
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It is a form of participation—you are fully living out your life, but you are awake in the midst of it—and it is not limited to the meditation hall.
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It can be used on a simple process like the breathing, or on highly charged and unpleasant emotions like fear or loneliness.
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It can also follow us into the ordinary life situations that make up our day.
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MINDFULNESS SKILLS WORKBOOK FOR CLINICIANS AND CLIENTS 111 Tools, Techniques, Activities & Worksheets by Debra E Burdick, LCSWR,

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Cultivate a Witnessing Awareness THEORY:
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“Being “aware of awareness” is a revolutionary idea for many people.
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The idea is to notice what’s arising as it is arising.
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This includes awareness of thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and physical surroundings.
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It involves paying attention to what is happening in this moment and acknowledging and dismissing distractions.
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The goal is to remain aware without trying to change anything.
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Observe and accept what you observe.
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Awareness is the first step in eventually being able to change unwanted patterns.”
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Letting go

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Storm Clouds, Utah
Photograph by Steven Besserman, My Shot
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.We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned,
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so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
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– Joseph Campbell
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Exploring Our inner World

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Tulip Farm, Tasmania
Photograph by Anthony Crehan, Your Shot
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Mindfulness is a tool, a focus exercise that allows us to explore our inner world.
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The two pauses, after the inhale and exhale, bring our bodies into a sort of suspended animation stage.
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The mind and body are still, nothing moving, a pure opportunity to notice, to observe any sensation, tightness, agitation, sound, twitch or inner feeling.
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Maybe we observe complete silence, a deep quiet, or extreme agitation, or internal anxiety or mild tingling sensations.
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We are detectives, tasked with mapping our emotions internally.
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Where does fear, worry, anxiety, and anger reside, manifest themselves in the body.
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Some  emotions maybe acute, sharp, while others are dull or diffuse, while other are choppy, scary and others agitate the nervous system.

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It maybe the throat area, solar plexus, between the shoulder blades or in the groin area.
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Become friends with your fear, your fight or flight mechanism and life will calm down.
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Mindfulness has far more power and application than you could ever imagine.
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If happiness is an internal condition, it follows we should explore and become familiar with our inner world.
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