Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

How Emotional Abuse in Childhood Changes the Brain by Leonard Holmes, PhD


Effects on Brain Structure

“Childhood abuse and neglect can have several negative effects on how the brain develops.

Decreased size of the corpus callosum, which integrates cortical functioning—motor, sensory, and cognitive performances—between the hemispheres

Decreased size of the hippocampus, which is important in learning and memory

Dysfunction at different levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is involved in the stress response

Less volume in the prefrontal cortex, which affects behavior, emotional balance, and perception

Overactivity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions and determining reactions to potentially stressful or dangerous situations

Reduced volume of the cerebellum, which can affect motor skills and coordination”

PTSD: Belief System

In the Kundalini online group, Jennifer had us look at our belief system, our thought patterns, and the attached feelings.

When I am inside my head, judging, using my cognitive prowess, my belief system locks onto my PTSDs feelings.

Lack of trust, fear, and worry fuel intrusive thoughts.

I am not a victim but I am lost, almost depressed, trying to escape this invisible prison.

How do I handle this incessant flood of trauma thoughts?

How do I dissipate the fear, anxiety, and resentment these thoughts bring?

I ignore as much as possible, focusing on my breath as a countermeasure but some get thru.

My life is consumed by PTSD at times, am I failing?

I feel like a soldier trying to escape the gore of war, it seems to never be over, never leave.

My mind never tires of running intrusive thoughts by my consciousness.

PTSD wants to control.

It is so frustrating.

PTSD changes with time

My most polished skill as a kid was spotting, then avoiding danger.

My nervous system was always a wreck, my stomach always upset, and fear was my dominant emotion.



Now, my nervous system has calmed, gone is my fight or flight mechanism firing multiple times a day.

PTSD changed from frightening with intense anxiety to depressive with shame, and anger.

Intrusive thoughts took center stage without the fear of cortisol and adrenaline being dumped into my bloodstream.

Which form of PTSD is worse? Choose between an out-of-control nervous system or shameful intrusive thoughts causing depression.

What a choice? This damage happened in early childhood.

Both bring pain and suffering. We have to heal one to isolate the other or we have no chance at healing.

Hard to function with our fight or flight mechanism out of control.

I have faced my fears, my triggers, integrated and processed, why do I still suffer.

I have been diligent, persistent, and brave.

No bonus points for the effort I guess.

I am stuck after a decade of therapy, meditation and self-healing under my belt

I am currently trying to open my heart and heal the rest spiritually.

Trust can sneak up on you

I was triggered yesterday in the online Kundalini group. We have a daily online group at 7 am During the week and at 8 am on weekends.


We have a WhatsApp group chat to facilitate sharing and community.

I experienced the PTSD upset, a sense of danger, the physical reaction, intense sweating, and intrusive thoughts.

Instead of isolating myself, I shared my experience with the group.

Inside this group, I feel respected and safe.

That sounds like trust.

It can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Sometimes we have to lean in more, risk a little more and do the opposite of what PTSD wants us to do.

Instead of the usual aftermath of being triggered, isolated and upset, I feel part of the group, calm, and included.

They supported me and gave me great feedback and empathy.

PTSD still rages at times but as Rudid96 says, I will continue swimming upstream for a while.

P.S. What a pain in the ass I must be. I am a lightning rod for discussion, never at a loss for topics.

Happy Easter: A Kindness Post


Photo by Adam Nemeroff on Unsplash

Kindness strengthens the brain: Study shows it helps boost the entire family’s cognitive health

By Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Doing an act of kindness can make you feel good about yourself, and a new study suggests it also benefits the brains of everyone living under one roof. Researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas report that teaching and practicing kindness at home improved parents’ resilience and children’s empathy.

Because both resilience and empathy use different cognitive skills such as responding well to stressors or considering different perspectives, the researchers suggest kindness can improve a person’s cognition.

The Children’s Kindness Network is an online kindness training program that enrolled 38 mothers and their 3- to 5- year old children. The program included “Kind Minds With Moozie” with five modules featuring a digital cow who explained creative exercises parents can use with their kids to learn about kindness.

“We aim to encourage parents to engage in practical, brain-healthy interactions with their children that aid in a better understanding of one another, especially during times of stress,” says Maria Johnson, MA, director of Youth & Family Innovations and coauthor of the study in a media release. “Research shows that kindness is a strong potentiator of vibrant social engagement, which in turn is a critical component of overall brain health.”

The team studied the impact on the program and children’s empathy. Parents filled out a survey on their own resilience and their kids’ empathy before and after the training program. Results showed that after the program, parents reported being more resilient and preschool-aged children were more empathetic. 

One surprising finding was that children’s empathy levels were below average despite showing improvements after training. The team explains this is likely because of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns that limited children’s social and emotional development.

“In times of stress, taking a moment to practice kindness for yourself and model it for your children can boost your own resilience and improve your child’s prosocial behaviors,” says Julie Fratantoni, PhD, cognitive neuroscientist and head of operations for The BrainHealth Project. “Do not underestimate the power of kindness, because it can ultimately change and shape brain health.”



PTSD: accepting our fate

You reach a point, I have met others with my same pathology, abused kids, suffering at 50, 60, 70, etc, where we accept our fate.



We adjust, fight the daily battle, accept healing is a mirage, and reality is overwhelming.

We have improved but PTSD still has power as a disruptive force.

I need to survive, so PTSD is alive but so am I.

It is a duel, a daily battle, a game of variant intensities of highs and lows.

Mood swings were unavoidable, and devastating to all relationships.

We must survive, endure this part of our life and continue to improve.

I feel like an extreme introvert one minute, near-normal the next, other times, an extrovert, a confident scoundrel.

Who am I?

A split personality, me and PTSD me?

It’s so strange, a plethora of woes.

What a quandary of drama called life.

I need to suck it up, take my risks, and live as fully as I can.

Help, ideas, comments, opinions?

PTSD: Morning Routine

I wake up early, anxiety flows, and thoughts of navigating the day enhance those anxious feelings.

During coffee, my writing process kicks in.

The topic is something I have read or a current challenge.

Writing seems cathartic, a creative distraction, wished I played a musical instrument.



Meditation is next, every morning a 30-minute sit.

Meditation dissipates anxiety, calms the nervous system plus contributes to our wellbeing.

We carry more anxiety drugs, our nervous system idles much faster, and we are prone to the quick escalation of panic.

Worry and doubt arrive early, I sit in the middle of this unrest to quell the storm.

We can be caught off guard and overwhelmed by situations.

I concentrate on calming my nervous system in the morning.

Slow focused breaths have worked wonders for me.

Chores and hiking round out the morning.

updated: A Path in sequence: ..Awareness, Acceptance, Surrender, Gratitude, Giving, Healing and then Happiness

Sands of Time: Photograph by Bonnie Flamer
Awareness: We have to see reality, the real world, how we fit in. Attention is placed on how our mind functions, how it interacts with our body mechanisms. We need to see ourselves without the bias of the “Ego’s” judgments. With 60,000 thoughts passing through our consciousness daily, awareness is key for perspective and proper navigation.
Acceptance: Optimum acceptance would have us accepting everything about us right here, right now. There is nothing we can attain, accomplish or possess in the future that has any permanence or connection with happiness. We are complete, whole, capable of experiencing enormous happiness right now. Everything we need is available in this next breath.

Surrender: Acceptance always had some resistance for me, some residual fear that kept parts of me closed off. Surrender is me opening my arms out wide opening my chest, my heart to catch what I fear. Surrender presents us vulnerable to our trauma fears. Once you have learned acceptance take the next step, surrender. It takes courage, guts to surrender.


Gratitude: When our spirit fills with enough gratitude, desires deflate into proper perspective. Unless we can let go of the need for approval, the need for status and the need for importance, gratitude will wither. Awareness illuminates the path, acceptance frees the soul, and gratitude opens the door to our expansive side.
Giving: I believe giving altruistically without regard for reward, distances the “ego” farthest from our consciousness. Giving allows us to escape the ego’s grasp and go deeper into our spiritual journey. Giving melts unworthiness and fear, moves the frozen with ease into action. In my opinion, giving is connected directly with happiness.
Healing: On this journey, healing has been slowly underway, however at the giving stage, healing is accelerated, emotionally and physically. Focus on the breath while letting go of what scares you, liberates the mind, frees the spirit,, and expands consciousness.
Happiness: Happiness, real happiness endures, it is a peace of mind we carry with us. It exists when difficulty, stress,,loss, joy and positive experiences unfold. In my experience, happy lives where thought does not exist, where the ego is dormant, where self fades for this moment.

Can you identify where you are on the healing path?

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.


Thoughts and how to deal with Them


From Shaila Catherine: “Focused and Fearless”

“You do not need to get rid of thoughts, just cease to believe them.

If you are not seduced by the story that they represent, the thoughts will not disturb your mind.

Tenzin Palmo, a nun in the Tibetan tradition wrote:

There is the thought, and then there is the knowing of the thought.

And the difference between being aware of the thought and just thinking is immense.

Normally we are so identified with our thoughts and emotions, that we are them.

We are the happiness, we are the anger, we are the fear.

We have to learn to step back and know our thoughts and emotions are just thoughts and emotions.

They’re just mental states.

They’re not solid, they’re transparent.”



My two cents: As I have said, thoughts are air without action, an appendage compared to our true self, our core.

You can not see my thoughts, so they do not exist in the world until I act on them in some way.

60,000 thoughts cross our path daily.

I would guess 55,000 plus are unknown to even us.

Why do we pick negative, trauma thoughts to grasp?



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