Did u hear about the Rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving natures laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!
As we grow through the concrete (work through the trauma) the end result is beautiful….
For many of us, internal sensations are the enemy~ We spend most of our time doing anything and everything to avoid sensations. A heart flutter, butterflies in the stomach, hot or cold flashes, chills, burning in the abdomen can send us straight to panic or worse a panic attack. When the sympathetic nervous system has been activated enough that we fight or flight, it is in this state that we are not in touch with our sensations because we are busy abandoning the threat in our environment. The same is true for our reptilian response of freeze. In the freeze state our heart is racing, our ears are tuned for the predator and our body is in a frozen state waiting for the right moment to wake up and run or in the very worst case scenario die. Repeated episodes of attacks on our nervous system can reap havoc in our lives and on our nervous system making the baseline state nearly impossible. It’s no wonder then, that our internal sensations become a foreign and sometimes terrifying experience.
The techniques that are helpful in gently bringing us back into the body are mindfulness strategies. Mindfulness means = Doing one thing at a time un purpose without judgement. The most famous exercise that exemplifies this is eating a raisin mind fully.
How to practice mindfulness to prevent panic or anxiety attacks
Mindfulness is helpful in preventing anxiety when a body sensation triggers anxiety or panic. When a body sensation triggers panic, simply engage fully in what you are doing without allowing your thoughts to dominate. For example if you are cooking when you experience a body sensation and begin to feel anxiety, engage fully in the cooking activity while noticing the anxiety but not allowing the feeling to dominate by staying fully present and engaged in the activity of cooking. You might verbally say out loud what you are doing. ” Right now I am stirring the soup in this steel pot. ” “I am noticing the hot steam on my hand and I am smelling the spices in the soup,” I am feeling anxiety and at the same time I am stirring this soup, and feeling the heat on my hand and noticing this pot on the stove.”
When a negative thought comes in, just notice the thought and immediately return to the activity participating fully in the activity without getting distracted in another activity. This mindfulness practice usually dissipates anxiety. You may have to return to the activity over and over again but eventually the anxiety will pass. As you get better at practicing mindfulness you will find this to be a very powerful strategy for grounding all distressing body sensations and emotions.
Example of eating a raisin mind fully.
First put the raisin in your mouth and see how the raisin feels, the texture, shape, and taste. Observe how the raisin feels in your mouth to suck, and chew. Observe the amount of times you chew the raisin. When a thought comes in that judges this experience such as ” oh this is delicious, or ” this is sour,” just notice that thought and let it go, remembering the object of mindfulness is to just notice, staying fully present in the activity without judgement about the activity. No matter how many times a thought comes in to your mind, return to chewing the raisin, participating fully in the experience of chewing the raisin until it is swallowed.
What Mindfulness is not.
There are many spiritual practices that incorporate mindfulness activities, and what is called mindfulness meditation. In the Buddhist philosophy mindfulness meditating is simply focusing on your breath and when your mind wanders, without judgement, noticing the thought and bringing the mind back to your breath. This kind of mindfulness practice is considered an advanced strategy. Unfortunately mindfulness practice is also confused with religious meditations and other spiritual practices which can make it confusing for people. Mindfulness sometimes gets put in the same class as meditation practices.
Mindfulness is not chanting, closing your eyes and meditating until you leave your body. It is not a religious practice. While mindfulness is borrowed from Buddhist practice, Buddhism is not a religion, rather is it a philosophy.
Regardless, mindfulness has been backed up by science and has proven to be very effective for integrating both the right and left side of our brain. Daniel Siegel in his book, Mindsight, speaks to this and his research that he has done at Harvard on how mindful practice affects the brain. The exciting facts are that mindful practice can not only help integrate the brain, hence helping the nervous system achieve a calm state, but such practice has shown to change brain function in positive ways. Neurons that fire together (for better or worse) also wire together. We can actually grow our brain through mindfulness practice!
- Keep Calm & Stimulate Your Vagus Nerves. ~ Kimberley Luu (elephantjournal.com)
Making Sense of Trauma
Making Sense of complex and post traumatic stress injury.
Making Sense of Trauma Group is back by popular demand.
Every Wednesday evening starting
October 11th from 7:00pm – 8:30pm for seven weeks.
There are six seats available with the possibility of another group running on Thursday’s should the group fill up fast.
- An educational skills building group for those who are interested in learning how to contain distressing symptoms caused by past traumatic events or PTSD like symptoms.
- In this seven week closed group you will learn how traumatic experiences affect the nervous system, and brain.
- You will learn types of treatment available.
- You will learn the difference between complex developmental trauma and PTSD.
- You will learn skills to manage and reduce distressing symptoms, i.e. dissociation (zoning out) anger, avoidance of people or places, mood swings, hypersensitivity to sounds, attention…
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When our amydgala is lit up in the limbic system of our brain, our ability to see the big picture – dissappears. The fight flight freeze response takes over. We literally suffer from tunnel vision. If we are outside the window of tolerance, ( Ogden & Fisher 2015) and in hyperarousal, we become irritable, edgy, angry, -ready for a fight or ready to flight – take off.
When in hypoarousal we get foggy, fuzzy, dissociate, depressed, unable to move, numb, frozen.Either way, we are ready for the worst case scenario. Outside of the window of tolerance we catastrophize, awfulize, distort reality to fit our negative beliefts.
I bet you are reading this thinking, “wow, why do we even have an amydgala?” Bottom line, we can’t be thinking about a paying our credit card when a threat actually occurs. For example, if we hear a rattlesnake within our proximity,our thinking brain needs to shut off – it needs to be offline so that our fight flight freeze response can do its job! But what about when there isn’t a threat in our environment and we go out of the window of tolerance alot? When Post Trauma Stress is the concern, we can get triggered alot. (Think that the past is in the present when its not). To get back into the window of tolerance where are thinking brian is ON, first ground yourself. Orientate yourself to the present.
The following skills will help you ground yourself :
Temperature: ice in hand, face in cold water.
Drinking cold water slowly
5 – 1 grounding Five things you see, Five things you hear, Five things you feel. Four things you see, Four things you hear …
Listen to a kitty purr
Spend time with a horse
Once you are grounded then ask yourself where is the evidence that supports my negative belief? What was the trigger ( Where was the past in the present)? Keep a journal so that you can get familiar with your triggers and obtain some control over these triggers.
Adapted by Crystal Arber CC 2017
Yoga is a powerful way to release trauma held in the body. Research from Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk has shown that participation in yoga on a regular basis can actually be just as helpful as other trauma or PTSD treatments. I recommend yoga as part of a daily diet in combination with EMDR therapy.
Sadly, yoga has become a trend, which means that if you want to enjoy yoga, you might feel pressured to join a club. This is not yoga. Look for a yoga class where the instructor isn’t worried about the their image. Look for low profile classes in your community center or gym. The more bling bling, loud, or in your face the yoga center, the more likely the focus is on business rather than healing.
To obtain the benefits, you do not need to spend a lot of money. I was doing yoga in the seventies with my mother in our living room. It didn’t cost either of us a dime, other than the cost of the video.
To obtain the benefits of yoga, you do not need a trauma yoga instructor who will charge you more money. In my opinion, this is ridiculous. While a yoga instructor who understands the principles of trauma healing might be helpful, it isn’t necessary that your yoga instructor be trauma trained. The benefits of healing that comes from yoga happen whether or not your yoga instructor got their Phd in trauma treatment.
Hot yoga can be dangerous for some people. Do you have high blood pressure? Asthma, or diabetes? Hot yoga is a fad of this decade. You do not need to participate in hot yoga to obtain the healing benefits of yoga. One can easily enjoy the benefits of yoga in their own home with a video and a mat in their living room. If you want to begin healing now begin yoga today.
Crystal Arber CC 2017