Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

Understanding why I have been a loner

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Trying to heal has given me insight into the causes of my suffering. In childhood my naricsstic father tried to control every attachment.

Actually, he controlled every aspect of my life, trying to fulfill his desire of me playing professional baseball.

Any friend or acquaintance had to meet his standards, then their influence over me would be limited or cut off by good old dad.

Assessment: This week it dawned on me that I did not attach to either parent or anyone else beyond a shallow friendship.

My father would severe any relationship that he thought diluted his control. The natural desire to connect with others was cut off for me many times.

After you tell a couple of guys you can not be their friend anymore, word gets around. Oh, having a girlfriend was out of the question around my father, he owned me.

This means my social network lacked connections and attachment was unfamiliar to me. Social emotions lacked experience in my consciousness while athletic willpower and strength dominated my development.

When my first real attachment in college betrayed me, I had no one to confide in.

This week is the first time I became aware of this. I guess it was normal facing life alone for me.

I did not feel loss, I never experienced love, or kindness in my childhood. Criticism and fear dominated my existence.

Trusting someone was a foreign emotion for me.

Being a loner was so natural for me, in fact I never felt safe around people.

I did not know why, now I do.

It will be a massive undertaking rewiring 69 years of life.

With meditation and years of healing, my empathy center is open, I am a giver at my core.

For a loner, I ran a mindfulness group. Somehow that was a safe space while around people.

A triumph in my life, I have helped others heal in spite of my suffering and fears.

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healthy and unhealthy Desire

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The Buddha made a useful distinction between two kinds of desire.

First, there is healthy desire, such as trying to be more patient and loving.

Second, there is an unhealthy desire–the craving mentioned in chapter 2–that causes so much suffering.

For example, this kind of desire is active when we run away from or fight with what is painful, get driven about or addicted to what is pleasurable, or keep trying to impress other people.

So the issue is not desire per se but rather:

.Can we desire what is beneficial for ourselves and others?

.Can we pursue it with skillful means? For example, there might be a positive aim, such as helping a child read, but if a parent goes about it yelling, that’s not skillful.

.Can we be at peace with what happens? Different parts of the brain handle liking—-enjoying or preferring something—-and wanting, in the sense of craving.

This means it is possible to aim high and be ambitious without being consumed by pressure and drivenness.

Sure, there could be disappointment about not achieving a goal, but there can also be acceptance— and enthusiasm for the next opportunity.

from “Neurodharma” Rick Hanson

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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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Part 2: Combining Neuroscience with Meditation (Mindfulness) Practice

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Rick Hanson from “Neurodharma”

“Further, what is not compassionate and kind–such as hurt, resentment, or contempt–can loom large and persist in a persons mind

The Brain is designed to be shaped by our experiences–and especially those in childhood…...particularly if they were painful and involved other people.

The traces linger and can shadow your days.

These physical changes in your brain are not reversed just by watching your mind.

It takes deliberate practice to heal and to find new ways of being with others.

So let’s see how we can grow compassion and kindness for others–and ourselves.”

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My two cents: Our childhood abuse has built strong negative neural networks of suffering for us.

I have healed twice but have not changed my negative neural network.

My mind lacked kindness,approval and support as a child, it is prone to worry, doubt, anxiety and worthlessness.

I can only imagine how constant criticism from my father wired during childhood.

We need to alter our neural networks, well I do!

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Sustained Attention, focus, concentration

The boys at pumpkin patch

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When you commit to meditating, can you concentrate for ten breaths with sustained attention?

Sustained attention example: The Breath is our focus object.

I keep constant contact with the breath, with each inhale, pause, exhale and pause.

My breathing track model offers a visual representation of the four parts of a breath cycle.

Using this model, it is like tracing my breath with my finger through each inhale, pause, exhale and pause. As I breathe my finger moves around the model.

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Start bottom right with the inhale moving upward and to the left. Then pause, exhale and final pause.

If your a beginner, trace your breath with your eyes open first, feel the transitions, the flow of your breath.

Find a focus object you can keep constant contact with for ten breaths.

I also listen intently for the slightest sound, then feel the tiniest body sensations.

Distractions make meditating difficult.

Thoughts, thinking, the monkey mind disrupts our concentration. A thought can expand, last for minutes or more and destroy focus.

Sustained attention (constant contact) trains the mind to concentrate at a deeper level.

Our goal is to be focused, mind empty of thought, extremely relaxed and aware.

Meditation trains the mind to concentrate, to let the cognitive hemisphere rest and the creative side to flourish.

Remember no right or wrong, good or bad, no words, sentences, worry, doubt or fear on the expansive side.

No past or future exists in the right hemisphere.

Unlimited opportunity is available for each one of us over here.

Sustained focus strengthens our concentration power.

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Sustaining a steady mind

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“If awakening is like a mountain, in some moments you may find yourself far up the slopes– but can you stay there, on firm footing?

Or do you keep slipping back down again?”

Rick Hanson

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My two cents: My meditation practice has been deep and powerful at times, then at other times I get lost in endless thought, worry and doubt.

I reach that special place at times meditating, my issue is slipping back into the abyss an hour later.

My concentration steadies my mind and allows serene moments, fleeting contact without the bias of my ego.

Sustaining this space is my current goal.

How about you?

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The mind has causal power of it’s own.

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Neurodharma by Rick Hanson

“Imagine a conversation today with a friend about a funny event with her dog. As you talk, flows of information that have a logic of their own cascade through your nervous system, enlisting underlying neural activities for their representation.

Suppose you speak again tomorrow about the same event: any information that is the same as today’s will be represented by a different pattern of neural activity. Even a concept as simple as 2 + 2 = 4 will be known tomorrow via a different neurons than it is known today.

This means that many of our experiences proceed in ways that are causally independent of the underlying physical substrates that represent them.

The mind has causal power of it’s own.

More to come

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Neurodharma by Rick Hanson

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“Neurodharma is rare book, perhaps the most stunning marriage of ancient wisdom and modern science ever written. Only Rick Hanson could weave impeccable scholarship of core Buddhism texts together with the latest neuroscience to reveal an exciting, practical, and accessible path to human happiness that anyone can follow. The Dalai Lama once told me that he loves neuroscience, but that western psychology is still in kindergarten. With this brilliant synthesis psychology just took a giant leap forward.

Joan Z. Borysenko, PhD.author of “Minding the Body, Mending the Brain”

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“This is an ambitious book, and only a few people in the world could attempt it. Rick Hanson is one of them. A brilliant and practical synthesis of wisdom and science, a must-read for anyone who is interested in deep personal growth or making this a better world, which hopefully is everyone.”

Shawn Achor, Happiness Researcher and New York Times best selling author of “Big Potential”

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“Rick Hanson’s brilliance is the capacity to offer practical, powerful, scientifically grounded practices that lead to true happiness and a loving heart. This is an illuminating and transformational book.”

Tara Bach, PhD., author of Radical Acceptance and Radical Compassion

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There are 7 plus pages of praise in the beginning of this book just like these three. Hanson’s first book “Buddha’s Brain helped me heal, changed my life.

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Take the Power away from your Triggers

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The skills learned to heal from PTSD are accumulative.

They are similar to lifting weights. If you build a solid foundation over a long period of time, you can stop for a while, then return and muscles have memory.

A daily meditation practice calmed my fight or flight mechanism.

My triggers lost the power of cortisol, adrenaline and the physiological changes.

Triggers did not explode anymore, the storyline stood by itself for the first time.

If my fight or flight mechanism did not fire, trauma had lost its most powerful weapons, fear and panic.

No need to run or avoid triggers anymore.

The thoughts were isolated now, vulnerable, ready to be integrated.

Calm your nervous system using your breath, meditate and learn how to dissipate cortisol and adrenaline.

Practice when it is calm, then apply when all hell breaks lose.

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Me and Victimhood

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I have waged a battle, an intense effort to never be a victim for long.

Realize we have no way of protecting ourselves completely from being traumatized.

My traumatizing childhood did not stop me from becoming a professional athlete.

My chronic pain did not take my life away for long. In front of 15 group members, I said we need to throw away the opioids and exercise. One guy followed me out.

Being paralyzed with Guillian Beret, I got up and took three steps when doctors and specialists told me I would be in a wheel chair for a couple years.

For the last two plus months with my college trauma exploding, I have been a victim.

I HATE THAT!

All my tools and skills have not slowed the onslaught of fear and humiliation.

Now, my flag is planted against feeling sorry for myself, being numb or feeling worthless.

It takes me awhile to recognize where the real battle is being fought.

The battle is inside my head, not external.

Physical challenges are second nature to me, the emotional, betrayal trauma is my kryptonite.

While in rehab, paralyzed with intense pain, I thought why me.

No way to heal when, Why me is our mantra.

I was a pro jock and a seasoned meditator, Why not me.

Once you accept the challenge in its entirety, the battle of wills begins.

Victimhood ends. We do not have to win but keep battling.

Some periods of my life are filled with times of never giving up.

Playing defense, not making decisions and increasing my effort every time trauma enters my space, is the way I exist.

This usually leads to more wellbeing.

How about your experiences?

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