I joined a free online 30 minute Meditation Group

Jennifer Lakhmi Chand Kelly

Yoga & Meditation Teacher, Functional Nutrition, Reiki Master, Sound Healer, Hypnotherapist

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Since leaving the Zen center, I have been doing my own meditative practice. Recently I joined a unique meditation group that has expanded my PTSD centered practice.

Jennifer leads the group with a deep base of practice and study into kundalini yoga and the Suttras.

She uses the flame of a candle as a focus object for part of the period. We also move our hands at times scooping up healing water as a haunting chant plays in the background.

I was surprised how easy it was to focus with my eyes open, locked onto that dancing flame.

She gives great insight while connecting to our inner light. I have to admit, it feels great having someone else lead the group.

My mind feels much better after her class. My 30 minute meditative sit afterwards, let’s me appreciate the silence I took for granted.

There is a collective healing energy that happens when you sit together.

I highly recommend checking this out. Here are the details:

https://inlightencollective.com/yoga/#classes

Topic: 40 Day Meditation Join Zoom Meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/229287318

Meeting ID: 229 287 318

Jennifer Lakhmi Chand Kelly began her journey when she became pregnant with her oldest son in 1998. During her pregnancy she was introduced to whole food nutrition, homeopathy, herbs, essential oils and kundalini yoga. The experience was so transformative that it changed her life path.

She left a 16 year career in film and TV to become a Post Partum Doula, Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master, Functional Nutritional Wellness Specialist, Certified Hypnotherapist, Wellness Life Coach and is CARE Certified in Raindrop and Vitaflex Technique.

Today she owns and operates The Yogi Tree Center for Growth in Toluca Lake, CA and Healing Talents bringing the gift of yoga, nutrition and wellness to the LA area.

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Managing the anxiety PTSD brings

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I inherited an over active nervous system from my mother. Serious childhood abuse finished the job, I would struggle with PTSD triggers.

My initial mistakes were like yours, avoidance, denial, isolation, and way to much thinking.

Thinking about my trauma, my triggers, my judgments and cognitive solutions brought emotional and physical suffering.

Anxiety was a very familiar companion. So familiar, I was not aware of low levels always agitating my body.

My Solution: I targeted lower level anxiety issues at first.

Someone cutting me off in traffic, an aggravating discussion with a workmate, or waking in the morning with unattached anxiety flowing, were prime targets.

Practice was needed before facing my triggers exploding.

Each time I became aware of agitation, anxiety or nervous energy, I would focus, then slow my breath.

Each event, each practice strengthened my ability. I would focus, breathe slowly until calm returned.

I would not give up until my nervous system calmed. My nervous had to know I was dead serious.

In due time, I was ready to dissipate a full blown trigger firing.

Same adrenaline and cortisol, just a bigger volume.

By this time we are familiar with our anxiety and body sensations.

PTSD provides anxiety tests for us each day.

This physical part we can control with practice and application.

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PTSD MAY BE PHYSICAL AND NOT ONLY PSYCHOLOGICAL

Hippocampal volume on MRI in PTSD. Smaller hippocampal volume in a representative patient with PTSD (right) relative to a non PTSD subject (left).

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The American Academy of Neurology

Brain’s Emotional Control Center Shown to be Physically Larger

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The part of the brain that helps control emotion may be larger in people who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after brain injury compared to those with a brain injury without PTSD, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Sports Concussion Conference in Jacksonville, Fla., July 14 to 16, 2017.

“Many consider PTSD to be a psychological disorder, but our study found a key physical difference in the brains of military-trained individuals with brain injury and PTSD, specifically the size of the right amygdala,” said Joel Pieper, MD, MS, of University of California, San Diego.

“These findings have the potential to change the way we approach PTSD diagnosis and treatment.”

In the brain there is a right and left amygdala. Together, they help control emotion, memories, and behavior.

Research suggests the right amygdala controls fear and aversion to unpleasant stimuli.

For this study, researchers studied 89 current or former members of the military with mild traumatic brain injury. Using standard symptom scale ratings, 29 people were identified with significant PTSD.

The rest had mild traumatic brain injury without PTSD. The researchers used brain scans to measure the volume of various brain regions. The subjects with mild traumatic brain injury and PTSD had 6 percent overall larger amygdala volumes, particularly on the right side, compared to those with mild traumatic brain injury only.

No significant differences in age, education or gender between the PTSD and control groups were found.

“People who suffered a concussion and had PTSD demonstrated a larger amygdala size, so we wonder if amygdala size could be used to screen who is most at risk to develop PTSD symptoms after a mild traumatic brain injury,” said Pieper. “On the other hand, if there are environmental or psychological cues that lead to brain changes and enlargement of the amygdala, then maybe such influences can be monitored and treated.”

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Right Hemisphere is where I healed

Pixabay: geralt
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My healing after exhausting many therapies, stagnated helplessly as my cortisol levels reached dangerous levels.

Intrusive thoughts accompanied every trigger, haunting me for days.

Trying to figure out the meaning of the trigger first, then how to think my way out took over my existence.

After a while, I feared what my mind would do after a trigger, more than the trigger itself.

Relief came when a mindfully based therapy, Accecptance and Committment Therapy appeared.

Meditation was the only practice or therapy that made significant improvement for me.

I learned to focus intently, to let thoughts fade, to be the observer of my body sensations.

This skill transported me to my right hemisphere.

It is a place where PTSD can not exist.

Our right hemisphere has no intrusive thoughts, in fact, it has no thought, judgment, right or wrong and it knows no past or future.

PTSD dies in this space.

PTSD heals in this space.

Trauma memories can be integrated to present moment.

Our left prefrontal cortex is repaired from traumas damage.

It is the fastest way to improve, heal.

During meditation, I will take my breath to my right hemisphere, silently observing that space.

Thoughts signal I have lost my focus.
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Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.” (PTSD)

Pixabay: www_slon_pics

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“Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. . . .

Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”

—Bessel van der Kolk

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My two cents: Let the storyline fade away, take the breath to the middle of the unrest, the body sensations.

Know where trauma manifests in your body.

Know where fear and anger reside, become familiar with the body sensations.

Does anger and fear manifest in the same spot?

We spend so much time worrying, doubting and fearing, why not connect these emotions with body sensations.

Mine manifest in my solar plexus.

That big cortisol jolt, paralyzes the center of my chest, violently.

My fight or flight roares with a vengeance when triggered.

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How to minimize Dissociation

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The most damaging PTSD symptom is Dissociation, leaving this present moment in thought, entering the past or future.

https://cptsdawayout.com/dissociation/

This is jet fuel for trauma. Any skill we can develop to stay present brings improvement.

Here are a few grounding exercises: Pick out a visual subject, maybe a flower, a building or a picture. Study it in detail for thirty seconds.

Now draw as much detail as you can remember. Yes, we did not study our object like we can.

Now do it again, see how much deeper you view the object the second time. We look but really do not see, a lot.

I practice being observer. Going in a public place, I observe people and try not to judge. If I judge, I vacate the judgment, then reset. This takes practice.

I use my eyes to be present. I look closely, in detail, to the landscape in front of me. Maybe a mountain, trees or a interior wall, but all of them exist only in this moment.

Exercise: Oh yes, I have used aerobic exercise for many benefits.

When my mind is frozen from trauma fears, my legs can still move, gaining achievement and exhilaration. My mind gets to share my bodies achievement, expelling of poissons and aerobic focus.

Next, practice entering mundane chores everyday. Slow your movements, focus. Preparing a meal, I become the knife slicing the vegetables,

Let time fade away, we are preparing the best meal with current ingredients.

The second highest person in a Zen center is the cook.

Watch a Zen Buddhist monk, see his deliberate movement, mindfully orchestrated.

Thoughts hardly tempt these superstar meditators. Staying present has become an easy habit for them.

Yes, meditation will help heal our PTSD.

Takes daily practice. PTSD practices daily in my head.

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Body and Mind: a partnership

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Let’s look at life in a different way. We are granted a body at birth, sometimes parents are part of the package. A mind comes with that body, the organ that will decide if we find wellbeing, suffering or something in between.

The body deteriorates at a much faster pace than the mind in normal times. Think of the needs of your body, then your mind.

The body is never satisfied for long, desires are never fulfilled for long. Constantly fulfilling desire leads to addiction not wellbeing.

The greatest meal on earth keeps hunger pains away for maybe 8 or 10 hours. One meal does not sustain us forever.

I mean look how often we need oxygen, four breathes a minute, every 15 seconds of so.

Then the body starts deteriorating if we reach maturity. We wither and die, no one has escaped.

What does the mind need. Well it uses 25% of the bodies oxygen and is dépendant on the body being healthy.

The mind has the option of grasping our desires, then judging success or failure on how we fulfill them.

The mind can also discount the Ego’s needs, making decisions in an unbiased observer mode.

Wellbeing happens when these two forces are balanced.

We have to fulfill certain desires but we need balance and perspective.

One banana split is wonderful, the second damn good, the third brings stomach pains.

Substitute drugs, alcohol, sex, power, status or approval for the banana split.

More desire does not quench desire, it promulgates more and more.

“Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little.”

—Venerable Cheng Yen!!!

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Ego versus true self, divine presence, soul

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“Ego, the self which he has believed himself to be,

is nothing but a pattern of habits.”

Alan Watts

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My two cents: Our true self, soul, divine presence, is the same since birth, our shining light.

He/She stays mostly hidden because we concoct this identity figure, our “Ego”, that hogs the conscious stage.

Common sense and neuroscience tells me, he/she is a created myth.

How do we know this?

In observer mode, I can watch the thinker work.

Who is it that is observing the thinker?

Not the thinker (Ego), must be the power of our being.

Our true self, soul, divine presence is the Observer.

A healthy Ego is essential for wellbeing in limited quantities.

Our “Ego” was made for identity, a way of differentiating us from them, not the captain of our ship.

Do not promote an Ego, who behaves like a petulant adolescent at times to supreme leader.

Observer does not judge, he/she exists in present moment, empty of thought.

It is our default position, so we can take an unbiased look at our “Ego’s” latest judgments.

We see reality, clearly in observer mode.

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PTSD’s schedule

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PTSD has its own schedule, seemingly its own power source and strong stress hormones.

A trigger can explode at any time releasing cortisol, adrenaline and Norepinephrine into our blood stream.

High anxiety ensues.

The breath has great influence on our nervous system.

Until we learn to dissipate a trigger firing, we are at PTSD’s mercy.

I use ten, slow, focused breaths to accomplish this task.

Let the storyline fade, feel where your triggers manifest in the body.

Take your breath into the middle of your body sensation.

Know your fears physical manifestations.

Mine always jolts my solar plexus.

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Demystifying Meditation for Depression and PTSD

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Take the robes, lineage and all the rules out of your meditation practice. Our goal is not enlightenment, it is improving, healing or wellbeing.

I may meditate for 30 minutes but my goal is to focus on ten breaths with very specific intention. How, you may ask?

We use a combination of our senses. Thought is the enemy, thinking is the opposite of meditating. Actually these two actions happen in different hémisphères of the brain.

So let’s start: Visually; I use a model a continuum so getting lost in the pauses becomes much harder. There are visual models, the boxed breath and my breathing track. I also monitor what my eyes see with eyelids closed.

Auditory: A plethora of stimulus here. Pick out the quietest sound in the room, then go beneath it. Listen for the sound of your inhales and exhales. For me, I hear my inhales and exhales, as my focus stays inside my nostrils. For those experienced, a symphony plays inside our head, listen inside your ears.

Tactile: During the pauses, internal noise stops, it is a special opportunity to search for agitation, tightness, fear in the body. Focus on your inner world, intently. I , also focus on my third eye, or my upper lip close to my nostrils, feeling the cool inhales pass followed by the warmer exhale.

Smell: At the zen center form was important, incense and repeating phrases were staples. Incense can tell the brain it is time to meditate.

Mindset: No goals. We influence nothing, try to exert no energy, we observe and focus. We always set for others first.

Again, we are the ultimate observer, detached from thought and judgment, existing totally in this moment, unencumbered by the past.

We let thought clear, and hold an empty, focused space so our mind and body can repair as neuroscience tells us.

Know that ten focused breaths can deliver us to a no thought space, and active meditation. Once we are there time stops and the body repairs itself.

Question?

Inhale starts at bottom right corner traveling up and to the left.

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