Posts Tagged ‘Focus’

PTSD was embarrassing, demeaning and humiliating for me

Pixabay: KELLEPICS

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I understand the mechanism of PTSD, how trauma fires the fight or flight mechanism. How my childhood trauma, activated in mid 50’s, then manifested in an embarrassing, mundane way.

Knowing my father never said a kind word, used criticism as a way of raising me, explains some of my triggers.

My fight or flight mechanism was firing over ten times a day. Cortisol levels had to be extreme as my nervous system turned upside down.

I would shake uncontrollably, hiding in my dark garage during the day. Avoiding triggers narrowed life until I was agoraphobic.

Going out in public felt live threatening. However our trauma manifests itself, even in mundane things, it feels life threatening.

My father shamed and ridiculed me, I was branded internally.

PTSD fear feels like life and death. Along with the fear, our mind freezes, we feel numb, vulnerable, helpless.

I felt at my core, I did not have the right to be alive. This is difficult to write but true.

I knew this was highly erroneous and illogically, no real danger existed.

My nervous system disagreed. I feared what my mind would put me through after a strong trigger.

At least a week of ruminating about the incident, which was surely a confused memory with the scariest emotions possible.

The what if’s proliferated. The desire to avoid becomes stronger than the desire to go out.

At its core, it feels like survival, when in truth it is the opposite.

Much of this suffering could have been avoided, I did not have the correct tools or direction.

With the knowledge I have now, healing would of been a couple months instead of five plus years.

I tried to think my way out, be the strong jock I identified as. Common sense and talk do not reach our stored trauma, implicit memories.

Learning to focus, to explore my body sensations instead of traumas storyline, calmed my nervous system.

I simplified my entire approach.

I worked on one symptom, Dissociation. That meant letting all thoughts go.

All my effort was invested in being mindful, present, feeling every body sensation as I explored the inner world.

This post was hard to write, hard to admit how mundane my triggers were. Embarrassed at how they controlled my life and brought suffering.

Hope they give insight into your battle with PTSD.

Finally, I improved and have peace of mind and self worth and so can you.

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Responding to a follower, how monumental is our task?

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Part of a response from a follower: “Almost all of the traumatic thoughts are hardwired to the nerves that it is almost beyond control.”

Consciously, it is almost beyond our control, our trauma is stored in the Amygdala on the right side of the brain. No access consciously to this side of our mind.

Mindfulness/Meditation reaches our right hemisphere.

This is the reason Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was combined with meditation/mindfulness.

The path to healing does not have to be a monumental struggle.

Those hard wired traumatic thoughts can be integrated, one at a time, using ten, slow, focused breaths.

I have helped people, triggered and ready to avoid, use their focus practice to integrate their trauma.

If we can stay present, focused on the breath intently, for ten breaths, our nervous system will calm.

These ten slow, focused breaths, activate our parasympathetic nervous system. Like applying the brakes at a stop light.

Cortisol dissipates in two ways, aerobic exercise and meditation.

Using this technique, our nervous system calms, our symptoms and fears start to recede.

In time our nervous system will calm and not react to these triggers.

Make friends with your nervous system and half the battle is accomplished.

When I finally had success staying present, focused when triggers exploded, life changed.

I had found something more powerful than my trauma.

With this new found power, I hunted down my triggers.

I would visit places where I was triggered, situation and people.

Now I became the hunter.

Become the hunter, master ten, focused, slow breaths.

Remember we are trying to describe an action with words, an action in a place where no words exist.

You have to sit and experience what I am describing.

It seems mundane and weak on the surface but holds our greatest power.

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My relationship with my mind

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For sufferers of PTSD, the mind becomes an adversary. Its behavior drastically changes.

Out of my conscious influence, imminent danger proliferates, igniting my defense system, the fight or flight mechanism.

Fear dominated my life.

Symptoms complicate and confuse us. We avoid, deal with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and memories. We are hyper vigilant, on the look out for emotional triggers.

Now, my relationship with my mind has changed.

I made friends with my nervous system. Staying focused and present when my fight or flight mechanism fired, exposed the mirage of trauma.

My nervous system calmed.

Next the thoughts and patterns were an issue.

The solution was quite simple.

I watch my thoughts now.

Unworthy or negative thoughts fade.

If I choose to give attention to any thought, it will be constructive or at least interesting.

My mind has changed its habits.

I have learned to keep my mind focused in this moment.

I have found that, this moment is all that exists, whether it is mundane, exhilarating or scary.

I have only experienced happiness in the present moment.

I have worried and doubted in the present moment, but it was about the past or a prediction.

You improve by not thinking, not ruminating!

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Updated: Mindfulness from Breath by Breath

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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Mindfulness is unbiased. It is not for or against anything, just like a mirror, which does not judge what it reflects. 

 

Mindfulness has no goal other than the seeing itself. 

 

It doesn’t try to add to what’s happening or subtract from it, to improve it in any way. 

 

It isn’t detached, like a person standing on a hill far away from an experience, observing it with binoculars. 

 

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. 

 

It can be used on a simple process like the breathing, or on highly charged and unpleasant emotions like fear or loneliness. 

 

It can also follow us into the ordinary life situations that make up our day.

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My two cents: When I meditate, there are no goals, no exertion of Influence, we observe and explore our inner world.

Like a mirror, it does not change the image it reflects.

When the image moves away, the mirror does not keep a copy.

Can we be that mirror in daily life when needed?

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Where are the peacemakers in our midst?

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We are on this journey together, in harmony, granted a short period of time on this planet.

We all die, you can be pharaoh, build a pyramid for the afterlife, but these possessions stay on earth.

All those possessions we have attained have no impact after we die. You may have a giant headstone, but that is to impress the living, who will be dead soon enough.

Our goal of being happy, is not a life of chasing pleasure or avoiding the unpleasant.

Happy people are givers with a highly developed gratitude practice, people who are kind and caring of others.

In this time of turmoil, where violence, hate and fear dominate our country, how do we heal and live a worthwhile life?

Politics are so divisive, journalists have taken sides as media becomes as biased as democrats and republicans.

One side hates the other side, believing they are evil.

No one wins in a society like this, especially the needy.

Where are the peacemakers in our midst?

Do no harm has changed to, do the most harm possible, eviscerate your enemy.

Disrespect and intolerance are the norm these days.

How do we change our present condition?

Thoughts?

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Self-Compassion and Your Brain from “The Self Compassion Skills Workbook”:

Pixabay: BM10777

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Dr. Richard Davidson, one of the leading neuroscientists in the world, has studied how compassion training affects your brain.

He’s concluded that anyone can develop greater compassion and self-compassion, but that it requires practice.

If you practice a little, you can develop a little self-compassion.

If you practice a lot, you can develop a lot.

According to Davidson’s research, there is no limit to the amount of compassion and self-compassion that we can develop if we dedicate ourselves to practice.

In fact, when he studied Buddhist monks who had undergone decades of intensive compassion training, he reported that they had developed a level of inner peace and freedom beyond what most people would believe possible.

In other words, the sky is the limit.

If you are willing to train yourself in the practices that make up the Map to Self-Compassion, you can transform your life.

All humans (in fact, all mammals) have a Care Circuit in their brain.

Every time you feel warmth and love, that brain circuit is active.

If we could take a detailed image of your brain, you would see it.

Your Care Circuit releases oxytocin (sometimes called the love hormone) and natural opiates to give you that warm fuzzy feeling.

As you begin training in self-compassion, your Care Circuit is going to be your best friend.

You’ll be learning different practices that can activate it, strengthen it, use it for emotional regulation, and to become kinder toward yourself.

Developing self-compassion is relatively simple.

It is about strengthening the Care Circuit in your brain and learning how to use it when you need it.

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Intrusive Thoughts and PTSD

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Intrusive thoughts were unknown to me until my trauma exploded one day during a family crisis.

It is like thoughts, emotionally terrifying thoughts, triggering thoughts, arriving at a rate similar to a gatlin gun firing.

My fight or flight mechanism would fire violently 15 times a day, because of these nasty thoughts, paralyzing me.

That cortisol dumped would light my solar plexus up enough to scare the hell out of me. That jolt was terrifying and intense, powerful in fact.

It sure felt like I was facing an imminent threat.

Now, healed, or much improved, the intrusive thoughts are still alive.

My nervous system is my friend now and does not fire unless a real threat appears.

This has given me the ability to discount, not letting these intrusive thoughts get an audience.

Without an audience thoughts wither and fade.

I use other focus tools when these thoughts arrive.

I touch my thumb with each finger, saying release, release, release, release, release.

My senses take over, sight gets total awareness first, then I listen intently, searching out sounds in an order of loudest first. Finding the lowest decibel sound in the room gives me a goal to focus on.

I feel my skin, register the temperature, then smell for any aromas.

Another tool is reciting my affirmation out loud, In this moment, right now, I feel my body overflowing with Kindness, Aprroval, and Safety.

When negative thoughts arrive, replace them with our focus tools, be prepared, practice when things are calm.

Thoughts needs attention to live.

Thinking is the opposite of what we should do when negativity or trauma arrives.

Extra credit: https://ptsdawayout.com/2018/05/24/this-is-known-as-dysregulated-arousal/

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Part 1: narrative based and immediate based selfs

Pixabay: ToNic-Pics

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“Living with your Heart Wide Open” by Steve Flowers

“The hunger from unmet needs can form a central theme in the story you repeat to yourself, creating a narrative of a wounded self.

As described above, the narrative-based self exists across time and continuously creates itself through the stories it repeats.

We mistakenly believe this “self” is a somewhat permanent entity that endures through the constant changes of life.

(my two cents: this self is our created “Ego”)

Psychologist William James characterized the narrative-based self as a construction of narratives woven together from the threads of experiences over time into a cohesive concept we reference as “me” to make sense of the “I” acting in the present moment (James 1890).

The immediacy-based self, in contrast, is a creature of the here and now.

It is grounded in the experience of who you are in each moment.

This sense of self exists only in the present moment and therefore is ageless and timeless.

It is the primary orientation from which awareness is experienced and thus is not characterized by concepts such as gender, race, religion, and personal history.

As such, the immediacy-based self is not a thing but rather an active center of awareness from which you can acknowledge moment-to-moment experience.

From this perspective, Descartes’s famous dictum becomes “I experience what’s happening, therefore I am.”

Neurological research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that these two forms of self-awareness—narrative-based self and immediacy-based self—are located in two separate areas of the brain (Farb et al. 2007).

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A few prerequisites for happiness

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First, we must have a worthy self image, a healthy ego. We must love (approve of) ourselves to be truly happy.

Our awareness must be focused in the present moment. Happiness does not exist in our memories or future predictions.

Desires and needs must be in perspective. To many needs or constant desire eliminates our chance for happiness.

Worry, doubt, Dissociation, fear etc. must be at a minimal.

When my PTSD was active and strong, being happy was impossible. Fear and anxiety stole much more than just my happiness.

If we have a disorder, we must take action or happiness will never visit us.

Happiness must be earned in spite of all the challenges we all face.

Happiness does not arrive easily or with half effort.

I believe we all can find happiness with practice.

It will look entirely different for some.

Extra credit: https://ptsdawayout.com/2017/03/14/ricard-happiness-2/

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Happiness seems elusive for most of us!

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Growing up being happy did not seem to be our goal. Being raised Catholic, I had responsibility to the church and God.

My parents demanded proper behavior at home, school and in public. Somehow out of this indoctrination and proper behavior, happiness would be attained.

Well that never worked out. I studied hard, accomplished a college degree, added seven years as a professional baseball player, before a successful working career, but lasting happiness was a complete stranger.

Now I knew possessions, accomplishments, power or approval were not connected with true happiness.

Happiness is hidden, in some of the simplest thing we do.

Hidden in the mundane, clouded by bias and thought, happiness eludes us.

Emotions lead us away from happiness. Try being angry and happy at the same time. Many emotions are connected to negative thought and judgment.

I have found peace and happiness inside mundane chores at times.

Happiness only exists in this current moment, so we need to be present first to enjoy.

Thought seems to chase away happiness for me.

There is a time to think but continuous thought like we get involved in, is destructive.

An example: I have found peace doing laundry.

My purpose: Make my grandkids look as good as possible.

How: Enter the chore completely. Each piece of clothing I pick up, receives total attention and energy. I feel like part of each piece of clothing when my focus is strong.

Time ceases, thoughts fade while a quiet calm envelopes me.

I have felt my nervous system dissipate all its anxiety and aggravation in this space.

Being totally present with laundry, has settled my being and brought a grounding, a smile to my being.

Is this a happy moment?

For me it has the correct elements.

We are Ever present while focused, observing and acting without thinking.

Happiness does occupy spaces like this.

Thoughts?

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