Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

Somatic Experiencing

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Dr. Levine: When I first started developing my approach to trauma, I noticed how many different kinds of seemingly ordinary events could cause people to develop symptoms that would be later defined as trauma, as PTSD.
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I also was really curious why animals in the wild don’t develop the same symptoms – because the parts of the brain that respond to stress are quite similar in all mammals, including humans. And if animals became so easily traumatized, they probably would never survive because they would lose their edge. They wouldn’t survive, nor would the species survive.
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So I realized there must be some powerful innate mechanism that helps people rebound; that sort of resets our nervous system after highly arousing encounters with stress. And I discovered that these reactions that reset the nervous system are identical with animals and with people. The difference is that we learn to override it because of our fear of powerful sensations.
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“I discovered that these reactions that reset the nervous system are identical with animals and with people. ”
I know it is an oversimplification, but the basic idea is to guide people to help them recapture this natural resilience. We can do this through helping them become aware of body sensations. And as they become aware and are able to befriend their body sensations, they are able to move out of these stuck places.
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I realized that trauma was about being stuck in these high levels of arousal or in low-level, shut-down levels of arousal and dissociation. So it really became a matter of learning how to help the people to contain these sensations and help them to move through, back into life, to discharge, as it were, these high-levels of activation.
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“It really became a matter of learning how to help the people to contain these sensations and help them to move through, back into life, to discharge, as it were, these high-levels of activation.”
In animals – and in humans – I noticed that trauma has a particular type of sequence involving shaking and trembling.
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We can help move these people out of these high states of hyper-arousal back into balance, back into equilibrium, and how to help people come out of shut-down and dissociation, and come back into life. We discovered that it was possible to do this in a safe way; in a way that really largely ensured that people weren’t overwhelmed.
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Back in the 1970’s, there were some cathartic therapies that would lead to really big reactions, and often people would feel better after that – probably, at least in large part, because there was a releasing of endorphins and catecholamines, adrenalin-like hormones, and neurotransmitters, and so people, in a way, felt a tremendous relief, even a high. But then they would go back into the same trauma patterns afterward.
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So I realized that, if you just overwhelm the person, the nervous system really can’t tell the difference between the trauma and just being overwhelmed/overloaded in the same way.
“If you just overwhelm the person, the nervous system really can’t tell the difference between the trauma and just being overwhelmed/overloaded”
So that really is the basis of the core aspects of somatic experiencing. And because it was a naturalistic way of approaching things – learning from animals in the wild, from ethology (I actually called my first book Waking the Tiger, dealing with trauma) – to awakening those resilient instincts that exist within us because we are mammals.
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Lifes challenges

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King Bird of Paradise, New Guinea
Photograph by Tim Laman, National Geographic
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Life’s challenges are endless, our ability to let go must mirror that.
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Set backs, struggles, losses, and suffering visit all of us at different times.
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Resilience is needed.
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Daily Mindfulness practice builds a resilient soul.
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We practice when things are going well, to endure when things blow up.
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Mindfulness therapy works as well as anti-depressant drugs, major new study finds

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Ian Johnson:
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Therapy based on the controversial concept of ‘mindfulness’ works as well as some anti-depressant drugs, according to a major new study.
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Inspired in part by Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness involves training the brain to deal with negative emotions using techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.
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Some critics have claimed mindfulness techniques can bring on panic attacks and lead to paranoia, delusions or depression.
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But the new study – the largest-ever analysis of research on the subject – found mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helped people just as much as commonly prescribed anti-depressant drugs and that there was no evidence of any harmful effects.
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People suffering from depression who received MBCT were 31 per cent less likely to suffer a relapse during the next 60 weeks, the researchers reported in a paper in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
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Professor Willem Kuyken, the lead author of the paper, said: “This new evidence for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy … is very heartening.
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“While MBCT is not a panacea, it does clearly offer those with a substantial history of depression a new approach to learning skills to stay well in the long-term.”
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Professor Kuyken, an Oxford University clinical psychologist and director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, and other experts around the world have set themselves an ambitious target.
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“We need to do more research, however, to get recovery rates closer to 100 per cent and to help prevent the first onset of depression, earlier in life,” he said.
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“These are programmes of work we are pursuing at the University of Oxford and with our collaborators around the world.”
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He stressed that while mindfulness may share a “lineage” with Buddhism and other “contemplative traditions”, the way it was used in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was “entirely secular”.
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“It makes complete sense to me that this wonderful faculty of thinking can both get us into trouble and also get us out of trouble,” Professor Kuyken said.
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“It’s a sort of mental training. It’s about training the mind so people can see negative thoughts, negative feelings, the early signs of a depressive relapse, and learn the skills to respond to those in a way that makes them more resilient.”
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A woman in one of his classes would start to have thoughts such as “I’m no good, I’m not a very good mother, I’m going to mess up my children and they are going to suffer from depression as I do”, he said.
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But, after the training, Professor Kuyken said the woman was “able to recognise her negative thoughts as negative thoughts not facts, and not engage with them as much”.
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“She developed a metaphor of a wrecking ball. Instead of being knocked over, she’d stand back and let the wrecking ball swing through her mind,” he added.
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Mindfulness has won the backing of NHS advisory body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), and the Mental Health Foundation research charity. A study published in the Lancet last year also found mindfulness could be as effective as drugs.
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Nothing can be changed, altered, improved until awareness arrives

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Beech Forest, Germany: Photograph by Martin Hertel, Your Shot
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“Awareness is the greatest alchemy there is.
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Just go on becoming more and more aware,
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and you will find your life
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changing for the better in every possible dimension.
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It will bring great fulfillment.”
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Osho

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The Self

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Pieter de Molijn, Dutch, 1595-1661
Prince Maurits and Prince Frederik Hendrik Going to the Chase, 1625
Oil on wood panel
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“Buddhas Brain”
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“The point is to see through the self and let it relax and disperse.”
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We look before and after, .

A Summer Night

WINSLOW HOMER: “Summer night” – 1890 – oil on canvas, 76.7- 102 cm. – Paris, Musée d’ Orsay
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We look before and after,
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And pine for what is not;
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Our sincerest laughter
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With some pain is fraught;
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Our sweetest songs are those
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that tell of saddest thought.
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~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode to a Sky Lark”
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Asleep or Awake?

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ARMAND GUILLAUMIN: “Soleil couchant à Ivry (sunset at Ivry)”, 1873 – oil on canvas, 81-65 cm. – Musée d’Orsay, Paris
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Human suffering,
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while it is asleep,
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is shapeless.
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If it is wakened
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it takes the form
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of the waker.
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Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin
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We are what we perceive and accept.
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Our judgments become reality, engulfing every waking moment.
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All that exists in this life is this next breath.
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Accept the next seemingly boring, mundane moment as the entire universe.
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