Posts Tagged ‘MEDITATION’

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

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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 2: narrative based and immediate based selfs

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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).

Using neuroimagery, which can detect which “self” people are operating from, this study compared novice meditators to people who had participated in an eight-week program in mindfulness meditation.

When participants shifted from a narrative focus to their immediate experience, fMRIs indicated that the experienced meditators had less activity in the region associated with the narrative-based self.

In other words, through the practice of mindfulness meditation we can disidentify from the self we’ve created with our stories and discover a new sense of self based in the present moment.

The narrative-based self lives in a continuum of past and future, and as such is the source of wanting, dissatisfaction, and judging—in short, suffering.

The immediacy-based self exists only in the here and now.

These two orientations in the world are fundamentally (and neurologically) different.

The immediacy-based self lives with the inescapable emotional pain of being human, yet it is also present for the breeze on your face or the birdsong that you cannot feel or hear when you’re preoccupied with thoughts and stories.

The narrative-based self can help you avoid much of the emotional pain that’s inevitable when living in the here and now, but you pay the price, as you must instead live with the suffering that self-limiting stories create.

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The Spirutual path in times of turmoil

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If you have a serious mindfulness practice, trying to do no harm, trying to enhance gratitude, kindness, compassion and giving, the current turmoil in America is depressing.

The opposite has been happening in America, hate and divisiveness rule our cities.

Loving kindness, wanting others to be secure and happy, wanting others suffering to lessen has been our spiritual goal.

Tricycle Magazine describes metta this way:

“In metta meditation (Loving Kindness), we direct lovingkindness toward ourselves and then, in a sequence of expansion, towards somebody we love already. Somebody we are neutral towards. Somebody we have difficulty with. And ultimately toward all beings everywhere without distinction.”

I believe every life is as valuable as every other life.

Poverty and suffering exist in the midst of extravagant wealth and opulence in America.

Caring and giving to others without regard for reward, seems to have faded from our country.

Hate and violence are the opposites of loving kindness.

Thoughts?

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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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