PTSD

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Every moment offers us the gift of transformation.  We can choose to respond to life by tightening up, hardening, resisting or we can choose to soften, relax into the moment.  The first doesn’t seem like a real choice.  Our bodies naturally tend to tighten when a blow comes at us.  It seems only natural to protect against harmful infiltration.  Softening into the moment feels wrong, silly, stupid. 

Dealing with trauma often seems to me the ideal training ground for personal and spiritual transformation.  We are buffeted by internal and external activation every day.  We have no where to flee to get away from incoming danger,  Our internal world is more akin to a pinball machine than the usual image of a calm, relaxed monastic experience.

One of the people in the SEOC shared this quote from Pema Chodron who writes,  “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us.  We always have this choice.” 

What do  you think?

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A nightmare woke me. I have them rarely at this point in my life (thank goodness.) But this horrid dream was with me, lingering. I felt myself at odds, disrupted, not wanting to sleep, afraid I would reinhabit that world.

Rattled I could think of nothing to do, so I sat and watched the chaos of my mind.

How hard it is at times to find this simple moment. I get completely pulled into all the important contents. I think of Sharon who wrote asking me to blog more frequently and realize with slight panic that I didn’t reply back after asking how she was doing. My heart fills when I think of a client who is in a disastrous situation with colleagues at work, I think of the husband of a couple I work with who is struggling with whether to leave his relationship. Tears flow as I digest their stories, holding their struggle with them, knowing there is nothing to do but to be with them.

My mind begins to unclutter as I allowing each thought, each person, each heart filled moment to pass through. As I acknowledge the presence of each moment I return, softly, finally able to grab hold of the thread of my breath as the moments and experiences of a full life metabolize.

For a fragment of a moment I release the grip of my mind and clarity illuminates so gloriously I struggle to receive it – and it recedes. I am aware, once again, of how my meaning making mind lays yet another filter on this moment, this simple precious moment of being.

This is what I want. Nothing compares to this utterly uncomplicated longing to find what’s there between each to-do, each filled moment of life. This is what I want – to connect with this brilliant emptiness.

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I’m doing a lot of reading and learning as I prepare to bring the Becoming Safely Embodied Skills into an online format.  In the last few years I have been fascinated with the new thinking and research on brain development and neuroplasticity.  Huh?  Basically that means that the brain can change – we can change.

What that means for those with a trauma history prone to patterns of depression, anxiety, fear, terror, distress – it means we can change those patterns.  It is so absolutely important not to get defined by these patterns.  If we do, we’re stuck. 

What’s possible though is to live the life we want to live.  You can change.  The distress you are in can be adjusted and shifted.

Where does this lead?  Practice (smile!)  Yes, the more we practice something new and different the more we are changing and altering our own internal experience. 

That’s why I’m always looking for new ways to reinforce new patterns.  The Safely Embodied Online Community is one way to do that and the new Becoming Safely Embodied Basic Skills Course will do the same.

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from the movie Avatar

What a way to start out the New Year — or this new decade — by seeing Avatar.

I saw it on New Year’s Eve. It completely opened up my world. It was like I popped by head outside the Cosmic Egg (a la Joseph Chilton Pearce) into a rich, vibrant, dynamic world that was utterly captivating and hard to leave.

This morning still entralled in the movie world I realized how important a vibrant imagination is in healing a trauma history.

As long as we’re caught in the painful world of our trauma we continue to re-enact and relive that pain. What if we create an imaginal alternative that becomes as real and life like? When we do that, as my attachment teacher Daniel Brown, PhD (www.danielbrownphd.com) suggests, we create new internal representations, a new world, in which to live. We shift our perception, shift our experience and free ourselves up.

This is what Jake Sully did when he entered his Avatar’s world. It was many times more vibrant, multiple times more powerfully compelling. It captures with is intense devotion to detail and rich, luminous content.

Now what if we did the same with our inner world? What if we created with such compelling detail the world in which we want, or wanted, to live? Where we are loved – in exactly the way we want to be loved. Where someone is exquisitely attuned to us so when we are hurt they know instantly what we need.

This repairs the fundamental structures of attachment and allows us to deal with the everyday, real life complications of interaction with greater ease and fluidity.

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