Posts Tagged ‘Happy’

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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Attention is the ⛽️ fuel!

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With all the humility I can muster, I am an expert on PTSD. This was never my intent, a byproduct acquired fighting for my life, a cure, a way out.

To lend more credibility to this claim, my experience is not limited to books or knowledge, I climbed out of that dark whole in real life.

First, we have to face our trauma, stay present when our triggers erupt. Avoidance and denial cloak our trauma as a Darth Vader like character.

It takes an inner strength to stay present, focused, when trauma explodes, when imminent danger appears. Know this fear is a mirage, a bluff , however the cortisol and adrenaline are real.

Second, we starve trauma. No attention, no thought. A Simple, specific, concrete goal, that is important.

Action is needed. Practice with passion, intensity, brings results so much faster. Blend in the courage this takes and improving is on the fast track.

If you do the work, expect to improve.

We have numerous tools to assist us. Substitute our affirmation (repeat out loud), a physical action, tapping each finger to your thumb while saying release, release, release, release.

I also bring intense awareness to what I see, hear, smell, feel and sense around me.

For me, intense focus on my breath has become habit. Easy to let thoughts fade when I focus on my breath, slowing the pace, elongating my exhales.

Thoughts rarely survive ten breaths.

This tool is available anytime, anywhere.

We have to make starving trauma (thoughts) a well practiced habit.

Simplify your plan for healing, improving.

Make starving your PTSD the goal.

Practice when things are calm.

When all hell breaks lose, you will be ready.

How many ways will you develop to starve PTSD?

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PTSD: Can we ever be happy?

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Being abused in childhood, impacted my mind permanently. I am not saying this abuse rules my mind but it will at least lay dormant until I die.

Happiness was impossible, imminent danger lived inside my home and I was his only target.

Survival and shame dominated my thoughts, helped formulate my unworthy self image and destroyed my nervous system.

I always knew something was wrong, like I was flawed, unworthy, not like other people.

Then one day in my 50’s a family crisis ignited my childhood trauma. It was alive, bringing that terrifying jolt to my solar plexus, cortisol and adrenaline, PTSD’s scare drugs.

Took me 6 years to heal or improve, for the suffering to curtail and life to have a little lightness, some contentment.

When I improved or healed, the suffering dissipated, the intrusive thoughts lost power without attention.

For 60 years I enjoyed momentary joy from accomplishments, however happiness was a stranger.

To heal or improve, I had dedicated five hours a day to meditating and healing.

On this journey, while entering into mundane tasks, (a mindful practice) I found happy moments.

Moments free of any deadline or time apparatus, where thought had curtailed, where things unfolded naturally.

These moments calmed my being beyond any prior feeling.

Looking at nature one day, I saw perfection, was it out of body or was I just one with it?

I believe if I can find some happiness, then you can also.

It is not easy, it takes courage and daily action.

Thoughts?

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Healing Pain from the Past: “The Self Compassion Skills Workbook”:

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If we imagine a 100-year-old tree, we can see that the 50-year-old tree is contained within it. We could count the rings and point to the exact place where the 50-year-old tree is present in the 100-year-old tree.

We can see that the 20-year-old tree and the 10-year-old tree are all concretely present in the 100-year-old tree. It is the same with us.

Every experience we have is recorded in the shapes of connections in the neural networks in our brains.

If a past experience is still impacting us in any way, it’s because the connections that were made during that experience are still concretely present in our brains.

Someday brain imaging technology may become so accurate that we will be able to identify the exact place where our brain stores the experience of our 5-year-old self being humiliated by an older sibling, or our 10-year-old self being bitten by a neighborhood dog.

This is why healing the past is possible. We cannot change what happened in the past, but we can change how it impacts us.

The metaphor of the rings in a tree illustrates how the past can be accessed in the present because its marks remain within us.

We can access how those experiences are stored in our brains and change them.

In fact, neuroscientists have demonstrated that the key to transforming pain from the past is to get in touch with that pain while experiencing compassion at the same time.

This triggers a process in your brain called memory reconsolidation that literally rewrites your emotional response to a past experience.

The memory isn’t erased; it is simply changed so that it doesn’t cause distress anymore.

For this type of deep transformation to occur, all we need to do is to get in touch with pain from our past as well as our compassion for ourselves—both at the same time.

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Building Self Compassion

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The Self Compassion Skills Workbook”:

1. “There is a specific circuit in your brain that scientists call the Care Circuit, which creates the experience of compassion, warmth, and love.

2. Self-compassion training strengthens your Care Circuit—like exercising a muscle.

3. With enough compassion training, your Care Circuit can literally grow in size so that the increase is visible on a brain scan.

4. The Care Circuit is one of the primary emotional circuits in the brain that creates happiness and well-being.

5. Activating the Care Circuit through self-compassion training reduces every form of emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and anger.

6. Compassion training for 30 minutes a day for 14 days creates significant changes in the brain and leads to more prosocial and altruistic behavior.

7. Eight weeks of compassion training can make your temperament or personality significantly more positive.

8. Scientists have documented that Buddhist monks with intensive training in compassion have the strongest markers for happiness in their brains that have ever been recorded.”
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There is no limit to the amount of compassion (for yourself and others) that you can develop in your life if you are willing to practice.

Your body and your brain are designed to feel compassion, and the more you engage your Care Circuit, the stronger and bigger it becomes.

There is nothing stopping you from developing a radically new way of relating to yourself—with kindness and love.
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My two cents:  This is a roadmap made by Neuroscientists, pointing out the road less traveled, “The Happy Path”.

 

If you want to be happy, adopt a daily mindfulness/meditation practice.

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Does wanting to be Happy take daily work, action?

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Ask anyone, Do you want to be happy. Of course. the overwhelming response will be an enthusiastic yes.

Next ask, What does happiness look like to you? That answer will be incorrect 95% of the time. True happiness is very elusive, hidden to us.

What are the physical and mental actions you take everyday to be happy?

Not many actions taken, the usual response.

Remember, one definition of happiness is being in harmony with our inner nature.

If I want to be in better shape, a plan is developed.

The way I eat changes, daily exercise routines are formulated.

I may research, inform myself better, raising my chances at success.

Matthew Ricard in “Happiness” says our goal in life is to be “Happy”.

I wholeheartedly endorse this view.

Happiness has nothing to do with chasing pleasure, or getting hooked on dopamine.

If happiness is harmony with our inner nature, what actions help me with my inner nature?

Affirmations, meditating, practicing awareness, entering a mundane task, letting negativity go, etc., are a few actions available.

Happiness is surrounded by gratitude, giving and humility!

Just wanting to be happy does not work.

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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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Authentic Happiness

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“Authentic happiness is not linked to an activity; it is a state of being, a profound emotional balance struck by a subtle understanding of how the mind functions.

While ordinary pleasures are produced by contact with pleasant objects and end when that contact is broken, sukha (happiness) —lasting well-being—is felt so long as we remain in harmony with our inner nature.”

Matthew Ricard in his book “Happiness”

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My two cents: So long as we remain in harmony with our inner nature, seems to inform us pleasure objects, possessions, power, approval, or status are temporary imposters.

Being in harmony with our inner nature is the goal of our Meditating/Mindfulness practice.

For me, being in harmony happens when I am focused, aware of everything around me, observing without judgment, or maybe entering fully into a task.

The less I depend on possessions, power, approval and status, the better chance I have of being in harmony with my inner nature.

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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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’YOU are NOT your THOUGHTS’

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Those with PTSD, anxiety, depression or another mental disorder, live with a constant, seemingly unending flow of negative, maybe even scary thoughts.

In a strange way I honored these thoughts as reality, as true.

It was all I had ever been exposed to. The totality of my experience yielded an extremely unworthy self image (Ego).

My Mindfulness/Meditation practice helped me explore my inner world, the place these unworthy thoughts hide.

Mindfulness teaches us to observe our thoughts without judgment or influence.

Look how fixated we become when someone angers us, disrespect us, or tries to harm us.

The more I identity with with my unworthiness, the more biased and violent my response will be.

My thoughts stole forty plus years of my life, so do not underestimate there power.

Now, I have learned to let thoughts fade.

I have learned my best chance at a happy life is multiplied a 1,000,000,000,000,000 times if I can stay present, observing the now.

It is true. My life sucks if I allow trauma thoughts to percolate for any amount of time.

Any thoughts?

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