Posts Tagged ‘Focus’

Forgiveness: fertile ground for healing

Pixabay: BenteBoe

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The zoom kundalini groups focus this next 40 days is forgiveness.

My long held trauma wants to punish or take revenge on offenders in my life. Do we not want some to pay, to suffer for betrayals or damage done to us?

So this mantra, I forgive everyone for everything they have done to harm me, startled my inner world. Forgiveness is my most fertile ground, ready for healing.

Forgiving everyone first for harming us, then asking for forgiveness and receiving from anyone we have harmed, followed by forgiving ourselves for all we have done to harm ourselves.

I was taught my Zen meditation practice was better than all others, my Ego relished that feeling of superiority.

Now, I have stumbled on another form of meditation, that is better at healing trauma and much easier to practice for beginners or experienced meditators.

The lesson: Always be open to new ideas and paths, life offers a myriad of new choices.

Healing has only happened when I was able to take action.

I had to be humble and vulnerable to heal.

It is not like we are riding on a white horse conquering the vile enemy, it is being scared to death, vulnerable but still exhibiting the courage to lean into what scares us the most that brings the soothing touch of healing.

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Is Meditation The Reason Why This Monk’s Brain Is 8 Years Younger Than His Body? By Natasha Ishak Published March 18, 2020

Edward Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty ImagesYongey Mingyur Rinpoche (left) and Richard Davidson (right), who runs the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin.

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Over the course of 14 years, a group of scientists from the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison followed the brain development of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a Buddhist monk and meditation teacher who has been practicing since he was nine. 

According to Live Science, the study discovered that Mingyur Rinpoche’s brain appeared to slow in its aging over the course of a decade. Mingyur Rinpoche is 41 years old but researchers found that his brain matter seems to be eight years younger than what it should be. 

“The big finding is that the brain of this Tibetan monk, who has spent more than 60,000 hours of his life in formal meditation, ages more slowly than the brains of controls,” said Richard Davidson, a senior researcher on the study and a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the university.

Believed to be the seventh incarnation of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, the meditation guru has been practicing since he was nine.

But how can you tell how old a brain is? Davidson said that it’s all in the brain’s grey matter.

“Grey matter is the neural machinery of the brain,” Davidson, who is also the founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds, explained. “When the brain atrophies, there is a decline in grey matter.”

The study, published last month in the journal Neurocase, examined the changes in Mingyur Rinpoche’s brain over 10 years beginning when the monk was 27 years old.

Mingyur Rinpoche was the perfect subject to test the long-term effects of meditation on the human brain because of his remarkable life.

Believed to be the seventh incarnation of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, Mingyur Rinpoche has guided other senior Buddhist practitioners in the methods of Buddhist meditation since he was a teenager.

As such, his brain experienced routine — even intense — exposure to meditation. Other past studies have suggested that there is some connection between routine meditation and the slowing of biological aging and the discovery by Davidson and his team seems to add to the growing evidence. 

During the course of the study, researchers scanned Mingyur Rinpoche’s brain four times using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the changes in his brain over time. The brain scans of a group of 105 adults sharing the same age as the Buddhist monk were also monitored and routinely compared to Mingyur Rinpoche’s test results. 

Then, using a machine learning tool called the Brain Age Gap Estimation (BrainAGE) framework, researchers were able to take the brain scans to estimate the age of the brain through its grey matter.

When they scanned Mingyur Rinpoche’s brain at 41 years old, his brain tested as if it belonged to a 33-year-old. In addition, the BrainAGE analysis found that the meditation guru’s brain had also “matured” early. Researchers are still trying to figure out what this maturing means but they do have a working theory.

There are areas of the brain that come online in the mid to late 20s, for example, regulatory regions of the brain that play an important role in self-regulation, in regulating our attention,” Davidson said. “It may be that these areas are maturing earlier in the meditators, and that would make sense, because we believe that meditation can strengthen these areas and these kinds of functions [in the brain].”

While these findings are certainly remarkable, there’s still a lot of possibilities that could explain Mingyur Rinpoche’s “young” brain. For one, researchers have yet to definitively determine whether it was solely his meditation practice that caused his brain to age slower. 

Some researchers think it’s possible that the brains of those who were born in the high altitudes of Tibet like Mingyur Rinpoche might naturally age slower due to the environment. There’s also the possibility that his Buddhist lifestyle — practicing a healthy diet and living in the low-pollution area of the Tibetan mountains — could have contributed to his “young” brain.

Nevertheless, the study does reveal that meditation provides some sort of health benefit for the body.

It kind of makes sense biologically, because stress is a thing that causes aging,” said Kiran Rajneesh, a neurologist who was not involved in the study. “Not just psychological stress, which is definitely a part of it, but also stress happening at the cellular level.”

Until scientists know for sure we’ll just have to be content with our “old” brains for now.

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Narayan Maharjan/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty ImagesBelieved to be the seventh incarnation of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, the meditation guru has been practicing since he was nine. 

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Another look: 18 Characteristics of Codependents and 9 Truths to Support Recovery By Carmen Sakurai

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Excerpt:

“What Is Codependency?

Also knows as “relationship addiction,” the codependent is addicted to relationships and the validation they get from them. They will do whatever it takes, including sacrificing their own personal needs and well-being, to keep receiving this validation.

Root Cause of Codependency

Codependency is usually rooted during childhood. The child grows up in a home where their emotions are ignored or punished because the parent (or parents) suffer from mental illness, addiction, or other issues. This emotional neglect results in a child having low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, and shame.

Common Characteristics of Codependents

You are hyper-aware of other people’s needs so you become a caretaker to avoid being blamed for other people’s unhappiness and/or to feed your self-esteem by making them happy.

You believe that love and pain are synonymous. This becomes a familiar feeling so you continue to allow friends, family, and romantic relationships to behave poorly and treat you with disrespect.

Your self-esteem and self-worth are dependent on those you are trying to please. Your self-worth is based on whether or not other people are happy with what you can do for them. You over-schedule yourself with other people’s priorities to prove you are worthy.

You people-please. As a child, having a preference or speaking up resulted in being punished. You quickly learned that letting others have their way spared you from that pain.

You’re afraid to upset or disappoint others, which often leads to over-extending yourself to avoid negative feedback.

You always put others’ needs before your own. You feel guilt if you don’t follow through even if it means sacrificing your well-being. You ignore your own feelings and needs, reasoning that others are more deserving of your time and help.

You lack boundaries. You have trouble speaking up for yourself and saying NO. You allow people to take advantage of your kindness because you don’t want to be responsible for their hurt their feelings.

You feel guilty and ashamed about things you didn’t even do. You were blamed for everything as a child, so you continue to expect everyone to believe this about you now.

You’re always on edge. This is due to growing up in an environment lacking security and stability. While healthy parents protect their children from harm and danger, dysfunctional parents are the source of fear for their children and distorts their self perception.

You feel unworthy and lonely. You were always told you are not good enough and everything is your fault. The dysfunctional parent conditioned you to believe that you are of no value to anyone, leaving you with no one to turn to.

You don’t trust anyone. If you can’t even trust your own parents, who can you trust? Your unhealthy childhood conditioning lead you to believe that you do not deserve honesty or to feel safe.

You won’t let others help you. You’d rather give than receive. You try to avoid having to owe someone for the help they give you, or have the favor used against you. You’d also rather do it yourself because others can’t do it your way.

You are controlling. You were conditioned to believe that you are a “good boy/girl” if those around you are OK. So when life feels overwhelming, you try to find order by controlling others instead of fixing what needs repairs in your own life.

You have unrealistic expectations for yourself as a result of the harsh criticism you constantly received as a child.

You complain about how unhappy your life has become then quickly take it back to protect your ego, trapping you in an unending cycle of complain/deny.

You melt into others. You have difficulty separating yourself from other people’s feelings, needs, and even identities. You define your identity in relation to others, while lacking a solid sense of self.

You are a martyr. You are always giving without receiving, then feel angry, resentful and taken advantage of.

You are passive-aggressive. You feel angry and resentful and complain about “having to do everything” – while you continue doing everything on your own.

You fear criticism, rejection, and failure so you procrastinate on your own dreams and goals. Instead, you manage and control people’s plans and extract fulfillment when they succeed.

These self-destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are based on distorted beliefs that developed as a result of emotional abuse during your childhood. As a helpless child, it was necessary to adapt these behaviors in order to survive.”

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Childhood trauma and the brain

Pixabay: OpenClipart-Vectors

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From https://www.blueknot.org.au/Resources/Information/Understanding-abuse-and-trauma/What-is-childhood-trauma/Childhood-trauma-and-the-brain

Excerpt: How does childhood trauma impact on brain development?

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Our childhood brains develop from the ‘bottom up’ i.e. the brain stem first. The survival functions develop before those for planning and impulse control. Our brainstem works fully when we are born. It controls basic survival functions such as heart rate, breathing, sleep and hunger.

We are also born with a functioning ‘threat detection’ system. In fact the amygdala can register a fear response in the final month before we’re born (Cozolino, 2006). We can develop a ‘memory’ of fear before we have language (i.e. this is pre-verbal), or can understand where the fear comes from. These ‘memories’ are stored in our body as body memories and emotions.

The hippocampus develops in response to our world into adulthood (Cozolino, 2006). Before the hippocampus develops we can’t consolidate ‘autobiographical’ memories. The pre-frontal cortex only matures in our mid-twenties.

Some parts of the brain grow and develop rapidly at certain ages. Overwhelming stress in childhood affects the way the brain develops (Gunnar and Quevedo, 2007; Pechtel and Pizzagalli, 2011). During critical periods of development, trauma can badly affect different areas. Positive experiences can help development. Negative experiences impair development (Wilson et al., 2011).

What changes occur in the brain in childhood trauma? What are their effects?

Childhood trauma can affect different parts of the brain. This helps explain many of the challenges survivors experience.

• Reduced activity in Broca’s area (this is the area for speech). This can make it difficult to talk about trauma and describe it with detail (Hull, 2002). This is additional to trauma which is pre-verbal.

• The hippocampus becomes smaller and its structure is interrupted (Wilson et al., 2011; McCrory et al, 2010). This can affect attention, learning and memory (Hedges and Woon, 2011; Pechtel and Pizzagalli, 2011).

• The corpus collosum which connects the left and right sides of the brain, is reduced. This prevents the two sides of the brain working in a coordinated way (Wilson et al., 2011)

• Changes to amygdala function (Wilson et al., 2011; Pechtel and Pizzagalli, 2011). This can make a person more likely to react to triggers, especially emotional ones. People can experience emotional extremes and struggle to regulate their emotions.

• Reduced activity in different parts of the cortex- frontal lobes (McCrory et al, 2012). This can mean a survival response/s is triggered in absence of danger (Ali, et al., 2011).

• Changes in ‘reward pathways’. This can mean that survivors anticipate less pleasure from different activities, and may appear less motivated (Pechtel and Pizzagalli,)

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Was you birthright peace, contentment and joy?

Pixabay: SarahRichterArt

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This morning in the meditation group, it was said our birth right was peace and contentment, joy.

Wow, it that really true, then what happened to those of us who were abused.

I love hearing others talk about how things should be, it gives me insight into my childhood, why I am like I am.

My birth right was violent abuse, criticism and fear.

My fathers goal was to never let me feel comfortable or content, he wanted to produce the ultimate athlete.

Wonder where forced feeding falls in the contentment scale.

PTSD is the farthest thing from contentment my being has experienced.

Contentment does not mix with abuse and trauma, the last thing we experience is contentment.

I have to scour my memory to find contentment, I do not remember a time.

These sentiments, feelings or emotions others describe, I have no clue what they are.

How about you?

Was you birthright peace, contentment and joy?

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PTSD fears: avoid or face?

27 Deep Dark Fears That Will Make Your Skin Crawl

Animator Fran Krause

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We can not be afraid of our pain, of our triggers, of our thoughts, unless we can still take action and face them.

In the beginning I was petrified of triggers firing violently, albeit I was frozen, paralyzed with the biggest jolt of cortisol ever experienced.

Showing very little courage describes the first couple of months when trauma exploded. Hell, I did not understand anything about PTSD or how it worked.

It took time to face my fears, but my meditation practice headed directly at the center of my abuse. My meditation practice worked like a big auger, whatever sludge trapped inside was going to come up in due time.

Exposure therapy became one of the bravest things I repeatedly practiced every week.

Real courage is taking action in the face of our PTSD fears. Have you ever faced your PTSD fears?

I was scared to death, the monster inside is powerful and invisible to others, so my words fall on ears that do not understand.

You have to face these PTSD fears to get better.

No pill is going to do it.

I would run into a person suffering from PTSD who was desperate.

They had hit bottom, the decision to take action had been made.

Their current life was unacceptable, all they needed were tools and direction.

Please be desperate, everyday PTSD rules your life, it grows more powerful.

You can take action in the face of your fears.

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The Pauses……… are the weak points of the breath cycle.

https://pixabay.com/users/990609-990609/

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Meditation seems to scare many away, crazy connotations of monks in a cave, others find it extremely boring in the beginning.

So here is a crazy way my mind describes it.

Meditation for me, is just focusing on the four parts of the breath intently, as my listening skill becomes super sensitive to the tiniest sound, inside or exterior.

We are using at least two senses, ever present without thought needed.

Now let’s make it simpler to start. We will only use five breaths, easier to focus on small time frames as we get better.

It is easier to follow the the inhales and exhales inside our nostrils. The inhales are cooler than the warm exhales, the body is in motion, the chest expands or contracts.

The pauses are everyone’s weaknesses. They are like suspended animation, nothing is in motion. With practice these pauses can be the vehicle to the other side.

So here goes. Get an timer app, make the pauses 5 seconds. As long as we focus intently, the time frame can vary, maybe 10 second pauses feel more natural to you.

During the inhales and exhales, prepare for the upcoming five seconds, the key, the pauses. Anticipate the pauses like your finding buried treasure, this silence is golden for us.

So meditation has come down to us being able to focus for two five second periods on the pauses, during a full breath cycle. Inhale, pause, exhale, pause.

Five breaths, then take a break, assess and adapt and try again.

If you can can focus for five breaths like this, you are meditating. You will improve with daily practice.

In due time you can meditate for longer periods or use the focus you have built to unplug anxiety and panic during the day.

It’s not that complex, but your Ego will want to deter you from getting better, he/she never wants to give up any control.

Be aware of your inner critic, he /she is a pain in the ass.

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Sounds like PTSD to me

Breaking Barriers Australia (@breakingbarriersau)

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Sounds like PTSD to me.

Go visit a PTSD discussion board and you will see many self destructive behaviors.

Handling our trauma, dissociating into the middle of the storyline is jet fuel for PTSD.

Be aware, trauma thoughts are dangerous for us.

A technique using a large Circle, a big Zero 0

https://pixabay.com/users/analogicus-8164369/

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Find a quiet spot, focus on the breath intently, slow way down, calm your being.

After the body calms, Visualize an enormous circle in front of you.

Bring all awareness to your body sensations, be extremely sensitive, explore the inner world.

Now let your trauma thoughts and feelings have an audience.

We are just observing them from a short distance. Next start filling the big circle, that zero with your trauma.

Every exhale, shovel some more inside the ⭕️ circle, all the worry, doubt, humiliation, loss and unworthiness we carry like an anchor.

When you have shoveled all you can, every exhale moves the circle farther away as it begins to shrink.

In a couple of minutes the circle is so far away, it looks like a period.

Do you notice any change?

We are trying to build some space, some distance between us and our trauma, between stimulus and response in waking life.

Remember, it takes repetition to handle trauma, to enjoy wellbeing.

My Wednesday meditation group leader, Cam, introduced this technique today.

I adapted it to trauma, fill that ⭕️ circle, it is like a door, an opening to jettison our PTSD.

Being able to focus on the breath and visualize things has helped me get better.

As usual, new things are awkward and we are not very good at it in the beginning.

You can do all this in private, avoidance is a big symptom.

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3 tools for calming the nervous system

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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.

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