"the Universe turns up the heat that's just right for us. Each new situation comes along with predictability of greater severity."
by Juliette Gamble
Mental resistance increases our suffering and decreases our chances of survival. When we get stuck or looped in our heads, we don't often realize what we're doing. Fear and negativity are keeping us repeating the same old song and dance -- failing to see the insanity.
We're not listening. We fail to listen to our most reliable source of help -- the body.
Einstein has been telling us the definition of insanity -- "doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
But, we're not listening. We seem to need to learn the hard way.
We're not meant to suffer unnecessarily, we're supposed to learn and adapt.
Stress and anxiety occur with increasing severity so that we can feel great distress and get motivated to do something about it. However, situations that stress our nervous system beyond its usual coping ability cause more serious responses whose effects don't leave us so easily.
Stepping out from the mind by learning how to listen to the body can help us find relief.
We need to connect the mind with the body -- the body will help the mind to find space, to find peace.
Learning how to re-inhabit the body helps us learn how to become fully present, to become aware of our interior landscape. As we learn to trust the body, we become the "observer," able to take a step back in order to "see" what's going on within -- to become aware of the mind's incessant chatter, to be able to notice how our thinking affects how we're feeling -- we become aware of the pain/body experience.
By stepping back, we can recognize what we keep saying to ourselves so we can change it -- we can notice repeating negative messages like, "I'm stupid, "I can't do it," "I wish I had a different life" "I wish I had more money, a different job," "I wish life was more exciting," "I wish I was smarter, prettier, thinner, richer, stronger, happier, more creative, more loving . . . " More. More. More.
Wanting something else makes us feel anxious. We miss out on living fully in the moment when we spend most of our time and energy looking backwards, depressed, or looking forwards, nervously anticipating the future.
Changing what we're saying to ourselves will change how we feel. But to make change last, we have to recruit the body to help. The body can release residual energetic build up from years of fearful thinking. A calm, relaxed body sends the message to the brain (to the neurology) that everything is good . . . that we're safe. When the coast is clear, the mind can stop sending stress hormones and give the go-ahead to send the appropriate relaxation response chemicals for healing.
Learning how to respond to our experiences can put an end to our suffering.
We can choose to remain helpless or we can do something different.
According to Paramahansa Yogananda, Man's Eternal Quest, seventy five percent (75%) of our behavior is driven by past life tendencies; the other twenty five percent (25%) is up to us. So, we must work at change. We have a twenty-five percent shot at overcoming our prenatal tendency in this life time; to conquer our moods, our personality, our genetics, and our environment.
Change takes hard work and it takes faith. Lasting change is not a quick fix strategy, it's not a result of some cheap external intervention. For change to occur and last, it must be intentional, gradual, step-by-step -- with a process that is gentle, which allows for each incremental step to get integrated.
To seek lasting change, you must:
1. really want it
2. work with someone you trust
3. be in an atmosphere where you feel safe.
Bessel van der Kolk, professor of psychiatry at Boston University, has spent forty years studying and treating people haunted by stressful experiences and has found that children need to feel safe before doing physical activities like jumping on trampolines or walking over balance beams. This helps them generate an elementary self awareness, tuning into their bodies and their sensations, feeling what pleasure is and what sensations they want to avoid.
We all must find safe space to mend our wounds, to pick ourselves up and get back into the game.
Fear keeps us operating with ego, with the mind, not with the heart. When we feel threatened, real or imaginary, we react to fight, to compete -- to flee -- or freeze. But modern society makes these options almost impossible. It's not typical to jump across the desk and punch the boss square in the jaw when we're angry. When we fight with our spouse, running away isn't the best option. So instead we store it all up. We accumulate stress and tension . . .
We're so conditioned to keep racing towards that imaginary finish line -- only to acquire another dust-collecting trophy, adding to an already-cluttered collection. Our race to nowhere gets us layered up with "stuff," so much so that we can't accurately identify the true source of our distress and unhappiness.
To cope, we have to "forget." It's just how our brain is designed. The brain grasps a concept -- let's say, tying our shoes -- and then it sends that info down to the gut -- to our hardware, where it all gets stored. All of that "stuff" the brain "forgets" gets stored in our body, stored at our core.
The body is left to store everything our brain is forced to push aside.
The body can only maintain so much "stuff." In time it gets over-cluttered, weighed down with unreleased energetic build up.
Stress constantly reminds us of how things should've been while anxiety instigates the urge for how things ought to be. In both cases, we clearly want to be somewhere other than where we are right now.
Each perceived good that happens helps us "forget" what it is that "should be happening" or "ought to be happening.
The problem with "forgetting" or "getting past" a stressful or anxious time is that although life appears to move on, nothing has changed!
As the body holds onto undischarged emotional energy, it creates a fearful, resistant body; one that's unable to allow energy to flow in a forward life-enhancing manner -- like the jellyfish who pulsates in a slow, steady fashion when the environment is safe enough for it to do so.
Our body is designed to pulsate in a healthy, regular fashion. Our amazing body does its job beautifully -- automatically -- our heart beats, our lungs take in oxygen and regulate breathing; our organism operates well -- without our conscious help.
When our organism is threatened, we have a system in place to deal with that. Our body is designed to react and protect itself. Our autonomic nervous system alerts the executive brain functioning to turn off so that the more primitive brain stem can allow our instincts to take over. Like when we fall off of a ladder, our frontal cortex or rational part of the brain gets shunted so that our instinctual brain can allow us to grab onto the edge of the roof to survive the fall.
Our autonomic nervous system operates in fight/flight mode as a way of protecting us and shortly after the threat has passed, when we feel safe, our system goes back to normal or back to homeostasis.
However, if our stress is chronic or we experience something traumatic such as divorce, death, or serious injury, our system may not go back to normal and stays on high alert. In this heightened state of arousal, anything may threaten our safety, whether real or imaginary.
When we stay on high alert, much of our energy is expended in protection, and we're always in a state of contraction. An overtaxed nervous system cuts us off from rational thinking and makes us unable to accommodate any new information. The brain needs to identify the source of threat. So like most systems, it labels what appears to be the source of threat in order to move on. These labels get stored as emotions. And emotions have company. Anger may force us to react uncharacteristically and as people witness our violent outbursts, we feel embarrassment and guilt. Arriving home, feeling terribly about bashing in the windows of that car that just cut us off, invites shame to join the party.
As you can see, our emotions are not singular, but a constellation; and this is where trauma plants it's seed.
Learning ways to self-regulate, such as TRE (tension/trauma releasing exercises), empowers us with a healthy tool for releasing stress. TRE helps us learn how to use our body as a means for accessing the self and for transforming stress and trauma -- giving it a way out. FAQ about TRE
TRE stops the cycle of hyper-arousal so that our system can regain equilibrium. The nervous system alone is incapable of discharging energy and will become overloaded if a self-perpetuated cycle of activation continues. We must find a way out and failure to do so leads to pathology and debilitation. Symptoms of Stress
Somatic experiencing, known as body-based therapy such as TRE, is best when taken in small steps. Each small step is a resource that can be used to enhance and support the healing that will unfold when we align with our natural self. Benefits of TRE
By practicing regularly, we will experience how it feels for our body to relax, allowing our mind to have space to think rationally.
A relaxed body and a settled mind invites room for Spirit to awaken. Mind-body-spirit integration is the foundation for feeling grounded, thinking positively, and becoming available for our self and for others.
When we're not so preoccupied with surviving, we're free to be present. Real healing only comes about when we feel safe enough to take fear/ego out of the picture.
Confidence results from experiencing, enduring, and surviving stressful episodes.
Mastery occurs when we realize that we can learn from our experiences and adapt in ways that allow us to allow them to be as they are.
Acceptance allows us to flow with life so healing and magic can happen.
Read More: Mind-Body Skills For Help Regulation The Autonomic Nervous System.
CONTACT ME to learn more about TRE or to schedule a one-on-one or group session.
Our fast moving world is full of ego, judgment, and blame. We listen to the media to define our reality. We believe what we hear without questioning. We accept and tolerate more than we should. Truth is spun and re-spun and takes on many disguises.
FEAR or LOVE, The Choice Is Yours