Posts Tagged ‘breath’

It takes action, practice, hard work and guts to heal

First class menu


“Meditation is a matter not of theory but of practice, just as it does not satisfy your hunger to read a restaurant menu if you are not going to eat something from it.”

Matthew Ricard from “Happiness”




My two cents: Healing is not a spectators sport, reading heals nothing, it takes daily action.

We PTSDers avoid and isolate, go numb and sedentary.

Taking action in the face of fear and anxiety is a necessity.

It takes great desire, focus and persistence, besides courage to heal.

It is a moment-to-moment battle with our thoughts, anxiety, and fear.

Know the playing field, be prepared, have an attack plan, and finally develop your tools.

Healing is not for the faint of heart, victims find it difficult if not nearly impossible to take action.

We must prepare and accept PTSD’s suffering, then take healing action in the face of this fear.

We start with small actions and small incremental gains with daily work.

Sedentary is closer to death, action closer to life.

Your decision, your life.

happy Healing!

Third class menu not so elegant!

Shaila Catherine: Mental Absorption (jhana states)

“When the mind abandons its contact with the senses, including discursive thinking, the concentrated absorption of jhana begins.

The mind is utterly still and focused on its object.



The specific object of focus becomes progressively refined in the development of concentration, from the physical sensations of breathing, to a perception of light.

Rapture, pleasure, and equanimity may accompany the bright radiant mind, while attention is continually directed toward the place where the breath is known.

As these perceptions grow increasingly subtle, attention remains connected and the subtle perception of breath is recognized as a perception of stable brightness in mind.

In jhana, attention is virtually merged into its object, creating an impression of complete unification.

Even if there is sensory impact from sounds and sensations, the mind remains completely unmoved.

Sensory contact—even strong pain or loud noise—does not disturb the tranquillity or affect the unification of the mind with its object of concentration.

It is as though you don’t hear anything, yet the capacity of hearing is not impaired.

It is as if you don’t feel pain, and yet the bodily processes are functioning.

There may or may not be subtle awareness of the impact of a sound or physical contact, but the mind lets go so automatically that there can be no sensory residue to disturb the concentration.


Updated: 3 tools for calming the nervous system



I know of three ways of depleting cortisol and adrenaline.

First is our diet, what we eat and how much body fat around our belly is influenced by our cortisol levels. Certain foods help deplete cortisol.

Second tool is Slowing the breath, focusing intently, activates our parasympathetic nervous system, applies the brakes.

This calms us, settles us down and lowers cortisol and adrenaline. It’s called meditation, it has many variations.

The third way is purely physical, aerobic exercise works like a charm.

Aerobic exercise to near failure works like a miracle. Start slow and adapt, then build up so you can exert maximum energy.

We have to want to heal more than any desire we entertain. I have never read that in any psychology book.

Therapy and my two therapists, one in San Diego then another in Eugene , helped me on my journey. I was encouraged to explore and try new things outside therapy.

Aerobic exercise and meditation were my two most valuable skills. Being a former pro jock, aerobic exercise was easy for me.

All my friends doubted I could ever meditate, I was always amped up, excitable and kind of high strung.

Do not let other people’s judgments rule our behavior. We get lost and run over by others because we are different, stay strong and try like hell in the face of worry and doubt.

I laughed at my friends, you think focusing on the spin of a baseball while hitting with 25,000 screaming fans can not be turned internally.

For a jock, being told we can not do something, is not something you want to bet against.

When my mind was frozen from trauma, my legs could still move and my willpower drove me to exhaustion.

Mechanically I can calm my body completely down.

We can not separate our mind from our body, they work as one.

There are many skills or tools we can learn to improve.

Yesterday, I started hiking to exhaustion again.

It’s half mental and half physical. It builds willpower.

How bad do you want to heal?

What is your level of commitment, are you in a little, a medium involvement or are you all in.

Intensity is a necessity for optimum results.



..One skill can be used a million times.


One skill can be used a million times.

Some skills are that valuable.

My meditation practice is my Swiss Army knife.


The ability to focus when all hell breaks loose can not be understated in importance.

Along with that benefit, I can sit silently focused on my breath, shutting down PTSD Completely for 30 minute periods.

We need all the power and the safe spaces to battle PTSD.

The issue becomes healing the damage rather than quelling the unrest.

My damage is internal and perceived as extremely shameful.

For me the beatings and physical abuse have long faded, it is the emotional pain that endures.

We need to perfect a few skills, I used daily repetitive practice to hone my tools.

Learn to focus on the breath while letting go.

You will use this skill over and over and over again for relief.

We can add other skills, reframing, aerobic exercise, chanting, affirmations, etc..

We need places of strength, where we are confident in our abilities to protect and feel safe.

Acquire as many skills as you can, then use them everyday.

Pure wisdom From Focused and Fearless by Shaila Catherine:

Shaila Catherine


“I have a deep love for silence.

It has been an indispensable asset on my own path of inner discovery.

At the age of forty-three, I have spent approximately seven years in silence.

Not everyone will need to or have the opportunity to undertake extended retreats, and concentration can still be developed in active social settings—but spiritual satisfaction is something you must discover alone.

You might stay in a monastery, reserve a room at a retreat center, go camping in the mountains, sit in a city park, or abide comfortably in a quiet room in your own home.

The place does not matter, although retreat centers offer the advantage of skilled teachers and safe conditions for the settling of the mind.

Unable to imagine the exquisite joy that arises from a quiet mind, many people presume a silent retreat would be boring, but when you enter retreat you leave behind your array of projects, distractions, and entertainments.

You can allow the mind to unwind in a secluded shelter without the need to defend your safety or maintain your social roles.

When you can arrange for a spiritual retreat, it is important to make the most of it by putting your worldly affairs in order before entering the silence.

Don’t bring entertainments with you. Give your mind a real vacation from your daily life routines.

Let silence reveal a depth of knowledge that is usually unseen in the rapid swirl of daily personal achievements.

Concentration states depend upon the “protected” conditions of a retreat. They are, like all things, impermanent—and they dissipate after the retreat.

Even so, the insights that arise due to the purity of concentration remain accessible long after the states of concentration have ended.

Concentration does not need to be permanent to be important.

In the transition back to your ordinary routine, worldly activities may seem to be moving ridiculously fast. “



With tremendous precision, the meditator experiences a multitude of fleeting sensations:


Excerpt From “Focused and Fearless” by Shaila Catherine

“When the breath is used to develop mindfulness, emphasis is placed on clear perception of changing sensations through the full duration of an inhale and exhale.

With tremendous precision, the meditator experiences a multitude of fleeting sensations: tingles, vibrations, pressure, heat, for instance.



Pressure may increase or decrease.

Pulsing may vary in rhythm. The intensity of heat or cold may fluctuate.


This meticulous sensitivity to physical variations brings the mind to a state of exquisite clarity that allows you to see the impermanent and empty nature of phenomena and witness the relationship between the mind and body.


You can observe how sights and smells can trigger vivid memories, how intentions affect physical movements, and how emotions manifest in the body.

As the momentum of mindfulness increases, concentration correspondingly strengthens.

The concentration that develops through a continuity of mindfulness with changing objects is called “momentary concentration.”

The mind momentarily collects, but then it disperses as the flow of sensory experiences ebbs and alters.

Thinking can arise, but the thoughts do not diminish the concentrated state.

Mindfulness inhibits proliferations of thought because it meets the experience of thinking immediately.

The content of thought relates only to the phenomena at hand.”

Calming the Exhales

Excerpt From “Focused and Fearless” by Shaila Catherine





“CALM THE EXHALE: If you find yourself agitated at the beginning of the meditation session, you might intentionally use the breath to calm the body and mind.

For several breaths, focus on the exhale, slowly extending the exhale.

Gently and smoothly control the exhale—as though you are breathing through a straw—to facilitate a smooth, slow, and even release.

Enjoy this for several breaths and then return to a natural rhythm of breathing, bringing interest to the point of occurrence at the nostrils.”
My two cents: They teach Navy Seals to take action when experiencing fear by slowing and extending the exhales.

Fear, our adrenal stress response can be calmed using the breath.

Doubling the length of our exhales, Doubles activation time of our parasympathetic nervous system (the brakes).

The breath is our life force, the connection between our body and the external world. We breathe or it breathes without input or thought.

Our breath is the most powerful tool we possess.

Draining the body of anxiety and stress

One of the best and most recent Ptsd books is “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.”

Brain, mind and body are connected, those trauma thoughts correspond to sensations held in our body.

Triggers bring extreme anxiety along with corresponding drugs of cortisol and adrenaline.

Usually, we have a spot, a special location inside our bodies where trauma pools or concentrates.

Mine is the solar plexus, tightness, twitching, vibrating and pulsating sensations rock my nervous system.



My triggers fired violently, a sudden numbness, a paralyzing jolt started my adrenal stress mechanism firing (fight or flight mechanism).

Our challenge is to befriend these body sensations, bring our focused, slow breath into the solar plexus.

One more time, our focused breath practice (Meditation) is the perfect fit for exploring our internal world.

I take my breath into the center of my heart, trying to make it stop.

Not really but I am trying to slow it down as much as humanly possible.

First, a thorough body scan discovers any stress points, twitches, or uncomfortable sensations.

Where does fear, anger, and trauma manifest in our body?

Hard to unplug the body’s impact on PTSD symptoms without great awareness of this minefield.

Know where your PTSD manifests in your body.

Become familiar with the sensations every day.

Familiarity makes it easier to overcome and integrate.

My fight or flight mechanism no longer fires for trauma triggers.

I practiced trying to sit calmly when a trigger exploded.

I failed over and over, however in due time I could sit a little longer as my nervous system exploded.

One day I found myself in the middle of a trigger exploding, focused breath, calm and determined.

After a while the cortisol and adrenaline dissipated, I had won, a trigger was nullified.

It is a mechanism that can be calmed and returned to near normal.

Explore your inner world, integrate old trauma and heal a little each day.

Our PTSD fear is invisible to others


Others see our fear (triggers) like this, they see no danger while our fight or flight mechanism explodes.

Ptsd fear: When a past event elicits fear, a deep, deep fear, a special memory is stored in a special place, beyond our cognitive reach.

We will have to learn skills enabling us to stay focused, calm and aware when the fight or flight erupts to access these memories

When fully activated by a current visual, a certain smell, maybe a confined space, or the backfiring of a car can fire our adrenal stress response, better known as the fight or flight mechanism.

It’s that sudden, paralyzing jolt in the solar plexus, we humans experience this as fear.

The fight or flight mechanism: Physiological Effects; Tunnel vision, hearing loss, fine motor skills disappear, time is distorted along with blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse spike, finally the stimulants cortisol and adrenaline are secreted.

Thinking can be many things from, unable to think at all, confusion and numbness, frozen unable to move or think, the proverbial deer in the headlights scenario.

I won this battle with Ptsd, the calming of my fight or flight mechanism. The emotional and cognitive healing still eludes me.

With daily practice and application, slowly I started becoming more familiar less afraid of the mechanism.

Over time I could sit in the middle of my triggers exploding.

This is only half the war, integrating the cognitive and emotional part are much easier with the fight or flight acting normal.

Use your strengths, adapt things to maximize healing.

How to use our Meditation to heal



“Pray for yourself to find peace and healing, pray for them to do the same, pray for forgiveness to release yourself and forgiveness to release them. Pray for an opening in your ego to allow the heart to temper it all with love and grace.”

My two cents: How do I go about accomplishing these goals?

First by setting intention before meditation.

I was taught to ask for information, knowledge not solutions in my intention.

Asking for different ways, different ideas, outside the box that will help me succeed, has helped me in the past.

It uses the law of attraction and the basic building block of neuroscience, where we place our attention grows, where we withhold withers and dies.

There must be many ways to find peace and healing.

It’s like climbing a ladder, each rung we ascend expands our horizon, our visual reality.

How many ways are there to open our hearts that I have never entertained.

The big issue for me is forgiveness. Praying for the ability to forgive is a unique approach.

Trying to just forgive has not worked for me yet.

The hurt and shame feel alive, present, oh PTSD is so irrational.

That’s why the phrase “Pray for an opening in your ego to allow the heart to temper it all with love and grace” gives me hope.

Cognitively or rationally forgiveness feels impossible, opening the heart seems the only path.

What has worked in your attempts at forgiving the abuser or abusers?

Next post we will craft an affirmation around our goals.



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