Posts Tagged ‘breath’

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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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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If our Ego disappeared would we have PTSD?

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We create this character for identity, adopting the name our parents gave us. So my “Ego” is named Marty.

Marty never feels equal to another “Ego”, always better or worse. If we walk into a room of people sitting around a big table, our “Ego” judges others and assesses our rank, our status in the group.

We decide by things we hold important. A group of athletes would give me a high ranking, while entering a group of knitters would send me to the basement.

How we rate ourselves within our peer group and how the opposite sex sees us are two important areas.

Our “Ego” is in charge when strong emotions are present. Our “Ego” feels the outrage not our observer (true self, soul).

If someone cuts me off on the freeway, it is my “Ego” that is pissed, feels disrespected or threatened.

If I take a breath, focus, and let go, the anger dissipates. That anger needs my “Egos” energy to stay alive.

PTSD goes away when I focus, let my mind empty of thought, and observe life in this present moment.

It’s like seeing everything in my landscape without judgment (observer mode).

My “Ego” takes a place in the back, in the far reaches of my mind for a minute.

I asked my therapists one day, Doc, if I can be free of trauma for five minutes while meditating, then I can increase that time more and more with practice?

She said of course.

I have learned to meditate, a space where I travel to the right hemisphere of my brain, it is “Egoless” over there.

No words, sentences, right or wrong, good or bad.

Words are pixels on this side.

Think of the “Ego” as a ventriloquist dummy on our lap.

He/She is kind of us, but can say things we never would think of.

Just think of how common sense disappears when we get really pissed.

Look at that dummy on your lap, and say Hello to your “Ego”.

We need less “Ego” and more Observer for balance and wellbeing.

Next time you get pissed, follow the “Ego” back to its source.

Trick question. Who knows the answer?

Our true self (soul) can exist without the “Ego”, the “Ego” can not be exist without our true self.

Out deep in the woods, our “Ego” loses his/her powers.

The answer: The “Ego” has no source to find, it is made up without a center.

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Practice Building Concentration this way

Boxed breath model: inhale, pause, exhale, pause, 4 sides

Each phase of the breath is equal using this model

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Start with three breaths.

Keep constant contact with each inhale, pause, exhale and pause for three slow breaths.

Set aside 15 minutes a day to increase your focus powers.

It develops like a muscle reacts to weight training.

Devote time everyday to practice and you will improve.

Make a game out of it, have a reward at the end of each week.

Keep a journal and chart your improvement.

When you can stay in constant contact for 3 breaths, expand the goal to 5 breaths.

By the time we reach 10 breaths our concentration powers will heighten the meditative sits

Being able to steady the mind, allows us to meditate at a deeper level.

Build concentration first, then the power of meditation can be enjoyed.

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Start at right lower corner and move with the arrows. Keep constant contact for 3 breaths

We can vary the pauses, lengthen or shorten their duration. It is like a sheet of music, a rhythmic smooth flow of inhales, exhales with pauses connecting the breath as a continuum.

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Peeling the Onion: A meditative journey

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Think about the traumas in your life, it maybe one horrific accident or a complete childhood, as an onion, each one different than the next in size, taste, color and texture.

Our Onion grew as we aged, more layers added over the years.

Think of some of our awkward or embarrassing moments in life as smaller onions or scallions, much less formidable or detrimental than our big trauma Onion.

PTSD and our onion open up the same way, peeeling back the outer layers, exposing deeper trauma (Layers).

Meditation helped me first become aware of the subtleties of each layer, then helped me peel back the outer layer.

The process like meditation is repetitive.

I meditated everyday, observing my traumas storyline from a distance, becoming familiar with my fight or flight mechanism.

Our trauma Onion is extremely strong, capable of making us cry and suffer if not handled properly.

If we assume healing is the peeling away of all the layers until we hit our core, meditation was the scalpel that made the cuts.

We peel the onion by surrendering to the fear it lays at our doorstep. The deeper layers cause us to stop peeling, the fear is more formidable at these inner layers.

I have healed by sitting prone, focused, while surrendering to my fears, being vulnerable in the face of perceived danger.

Conclusion: That trauma Onion is a mirage, a past traumatic event, stored as an implicit memory with all the fear and emotion of that moment.

No real danger existed in any of my triggers.

The same external triggers exist, however my same mind does not react to them now.

I figured out organically, sitting quietly observing my trauma it was benign.

PTSD is the rerun of a traumatic event that we watch on our personal trauma T.V.

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A closed circuit showing of a past horrific event.

So why did ptsd live after my abuser, my father, died?

The memory does not need him being alive to exist. The onion has grown and now has a life of its own, inside our head unfortunately.

I have never seen an Onion peel itself or PTSD to heal with time.

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Do thoughts sabotage your meditation practice?

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I went to zen center for five years. We would meditate for a half hour, then do a three minute walking meditation, followed by another half hour of meditation.

Most of us fought for an hour for a few seconds of an empty, focused mind. Counting my breaths did not work for me or anyone but the Zen monk.

Being a visual person, I created a breathing model. It resembled an upright infinity symbol with four distinct parts.

Inhale, pause, exhale, pause. The pauses were the weak link, a sort of door for thoughts to proliferate.

First, I performed exercises highlighting my pauses.

I would take a deep inhale, then pause, a long, concerted pause where no exhaust leaks out. As I resisted the pressure in my lungs, I intently scanned my internal organs for agitation or energy.

Feel your whole chest cavity, give these pauses a purpose, an activity to accomplish.

Our pauses are the doors to our inner world. The pauses are as important as the inhales and exhales, treat them that way.

The mind and body work together like our inhales and exhales work with the pauses.

The breath does not flow without pauses, music is noise without pauses between notes.

The second pause is different from the initial pause.

The first pause is like a balloon we just inflated, the air inside creates pressure looking to be released.

It takes force to hold the first pause.

The pause after the exhale has no pressure to resist.

Our body is truly at a suspended animation, an opportunity to know our inner world.

Know where fear manifests in your body, where anger raises its powerful head, where trauma resides, and where contentment and joy spring forth.

The breath is the tool I used to explore my inner world, the tool used to release body trauma and the tool I used to integrate my PTSD.

Until I gave my pauses the attention they needed my meditation practice languished.

I always broke things down to smaller pieces, then worked on those pieces.

I worked on my pauses exclusively for a while, then went back to meditating with increased focus.

Where do thoughts enter your mind when meditating?

Inhales starts bottom right moving upward. The pauses are the short arches.

Inhale, pause, exhale, pause, one breath cycle

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Quickest way to improve from PTSD!

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My healing lacked direction, wasted precious time everyday. Confusion, fear and intense anxiety placed me in survival mode again and again.

Now I would approach healing entirely different. The sequence of what to address first, would be changed.

I looked for help inside and outside the box. Intuitive, holistic healers were used along with many therapies.

The one constant that I relied on was aerobic exercise. Pushing myself to near exhaustion brought exhilaration to my body and mind. This practice would stay.

Next, all effort would be invested in calming the nervous system. Stop the fight or flight mechanism from firing erroneously.

Our triggers firing give PTSD the mirage of power, potency, the ability to cause harm. That huge jolt in the solar plexus (cortisol) can freeze us, numb our bodies in terrifying fear.

This is survival mode, we need to fix this, our broken nervous system first. Yes, our adrenal stress response is out of whack, spotting danger everywhere, even in mundane situations.

Meditation/Mindfulness can be simplified, the big connotation and complexity dropped.

If I were helping someone improve from PTSD today, all effort would be directed at mastering focus on ten breaths.

Ten slow, focused breaths, where thought has faded, can calm that trigger exploding.

Ten breaths can Escort us out of survival mode, relieve the biggest fear PTSD brings us.

Avoidance, hyoervigilance, flash backs, anxiety and fear lose massive power. Symptoms weaken, PTSD loosens it’s grip when we calm down.

If our triggers fail to ignite the fight or flight mechanism, not much left to fear.

In my opinion this is the fastest way to heal and quickest way of having some peace of mind.

Ten slow, focused breaths can change your life.

Simple, specific, concrete and bulletproof.

I have done this, have helped others sit still and focus when triggered.

It is scary and having a mentor to encourage and reassure your safety are very helpful.

Can you master ten breaths?

You can practice anytime, anywhere.

What stands in your way?

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It takes a different kind of courage to heal. .

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Being courageous athletically meant enduring pain, overcoming psychological challenges and competing fiercely.

Playing professional baseball was like a battle every night, competing for a prize, sacrificing my body for success.

Being courageous with PTSD is completely different.

The battle is non action, passive acceptance and surrender.

I learned to wage war with PTSD by surrendering completely to the storyline as an observer.

I learned to focus on my breath, staying present as my fight or flight mechanism exploded.

My personality was the opposite. Professional Competitive sports is about skill, hard work and intimidation.

In golf most of the field can shoot 62 on a given day. The six inches between their ears is what separates the champions.

Surrendering felt weak, a place of weakness.

I was terrified to surrender when feeling so vulnerable. My heart would pound, that cortisol jolt rocked my being, my nervous system shocked me with electrical impulses and my amygdala spotted imminent danger.

Summoning the courage while meditating one day, I gave up all resistance to my adrenal stress mechanism firing.

I opened my arms wide, exposing my heart, visualizing it as a butterfly net, gently catching my fears, observing, then releasing.

Their was ultimate power in surrendering in the face of the scariest moments, when our nervous system erupts violently.

Staying present, intently aware of my body secreting cortisol and adrenaline, revealed the reality of my triggers.

Observing my trauma from a distance, surrendering to their virtual power, integrated some of my trauma.

Surrendering felt unnatural at first, I was an avid overachiever, a doer.

Well that is how I viewed my creation, my “Ego” at the time.

I had to let go of that mirage of the fighting overachiever.

Funny how PTSD led me on a spiritual journey.

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The contents of our conscious mind (Bandwidth)

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In the TV series “Elementary” Holmes decries, resist filling your mind with unimportant data. It works much better using less bandwidth.

For some reason we try to fill our mind constantly, avoiding being alone with our mind empty at all costs.

We will binge on TV, a hobby, constant worry or anything else than be alone with our mind.

Why?

Worthless trivia clogs the mind, think what trauma thoughts do to the minds ability to focus.

We can only focus on a finite amount of data at one time (bandwidth).

Think of our conscious ability at any moment as the contents of a glass container.

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Some basic functions are always present during waking hours, our defense mechanism, balance, motor skills, breathing and bodily functions, there to keep us alive and safe.

From here our choices decide how our life unfolds.

Anxiety, worry, doubt, resentment and fear take up valuable space.

These emotions can attract enormous amounts of thought and judgment filling our glass to capacity.

I know, my childhood PTSD filled my mind with constant worry and irrational fear.

No room was left for anything else.

Good emotions, joy and then happiness have no room to visit.

This described my suffering for decades.

Now, I have room, my glass rarely overflows.

My happiest time during the day is when I am focused, empty of thought and emotion, just observing what me eyes see.

Funny, a cool breeze, a perfect flower or a massive tree can bring a big grin and a peaceful feeling.

I like to think, but only when I am aware and directing where my thoughts go.

I refuse to ruminate or judge and am quick to let go of any judgment that happens automatically.

With my mind empty and focused in this present moment, I have an opportunity to be happy.

What fills your glass today?

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Little Things

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One of the tiniest things is a simple breath, a couple of seconds in time.

At times almost imperceptible by to the human eye.

Our Breath happens without thought, automatic like a reflex.

The breath is taken for granted, ignored, its power invisible to the masses.

The happiest humans on this planet use it to reach stages of the mind where rapture has been experienced.

Such a divide, such a contrast in how we value the breath.

If you want to enhance your life, following your breath has the most power of our organism.

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