Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rough Patches

Right now, I'm facing some pretty rough moments in life. It is all things that are hitting me physically and are connected to some things that I really am not strong enough to discuss with anyone right now. I thought going through the paralysis was hard in 1991 but what is happening to me at this moment makes that look like child's play.

Please keep me in your positive, healing thoughts and prayers if you can. I can use all the support I can get right now to see me through this and to find the courage to get through this. Wish I could say more about what it is but I'm just not at that point. I am keeping a journal though of all that is going on.

We're headed to Miami on Sunday so I can work intensively with Dr. Canali and hope to push past some of these things.

I know there is hope and I'm clinging to that right now. I know I have a lot of support around me and that helps me greatly to even face this.





Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
  • Permission required before any part of this blog post is reprinted, reworded or used in any form. 
  • You are welcomed to share the LINK to this blog post.  


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Itchy Skin and Oatmeal Bath


Lately, I have been going through some rough emotional times and of course, they are showing up physically as a rash and as itching. While it is showing up as a physical manifestation, the underlying cause is abuse memories that are trying to find a way to the surface. With the help of Dr. Paul Canali at Evolutionary Healing Institute, I am going through treatment to help release these things at the core. We've been able to produce all the symptoms on the table in a session and then watch them dissipate right before our eyes.

However, in between the sessions, I'm still dealing with all that is coming up and trying to process it as quickly as I can. In the meantime though, I still get the itching and rashes. In fact, this morning when I woke up, I had a red rash over much of my entire body and itchy little bumps on my skin. In order to get some temporary relief, I researched online about oatmeal baths and then did this for myself.

How Do You Make Colloidal Oatmeal?
Everything I read, stated to use colloidal oatmeal and from my understanding, you can make this from regular oatmeal. I used Quaker Oats (1 minute oats) without any flavorings or additional ingredients. It was just straight oatmeal like you would use to cook with. Since we have a high powered Blend Tec Blender, I dumped the oatmeal in it and ground it to a fine dust. That is supposedly the same thing as Colloidal Oatmeal from what I am reading. If that is not true, please feel free to comment and help me understand this.

How Much Do You Add To The Bath?
After I had the oatmeal ground to a fine dust, I put about 1 to 1.5 cups of it in the bath. I'm not sure if that was too much or not the right amount because I saw so many different recommendations being from 1/3 cup to several cups. I have a big garden style tub and this amount seemed to work. Most of it mixed up fine in the water but there was a small amount that did not.

What Should The Water Temperature Be?
Another thing I was reading was to not make the bath water very hot because this actually opens up the pores on the skin to much and sort of draws the moisture out of your body. It leaves the skin dried out which of course leads to more itching. I can't prove if this is true or not but just in case, I made the bath water warm instead of hot.

What Was The Result Of The Oatmeal Bath?
I soaked in it for probably 30 minutes and it was soothing to me. The itchiness did go away but then water tends to do that for me. I wasn't exactly sure though if the oatmeal would live up to the expectations I read about until after I got out of the tub and dried off. By the way, when you dry off, blot dry - don't rub because you don't want the friction to irritate the skin.

After getting out of the oatmeal bath, I noticed that my skin and body felt very warm. As I sat there for a few minutes, I began to feel very tired and sleepy. This led me to laying down which I fell into a very deep sleep for a couple of hours. It was some of the best sleep I've gotten lately.

While the itching is not completely gone, it helped drastically and give me some temporary relief that I have not had in many days. I noticed though that my skin was not as red as it was earlier in the day and the tiny little bumps had somewhat disappeared. I just got to a point where I could take no more and when the rash covered my entire body, I was desperate to try anything. If you are suffering from this, give it a try. Do a Google search online to how others do this as well but hopefully what I've shared here will help take some of the guess work and questions out of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Am Stronger Than You

I am stronger than you - I really am.

Maybe right now, you're kicking my butt -

Soon, however,

I hope to reverse the tide.


- - Don Shetterly

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Symptoms Of Anxiety


In my internet searching, I ran across a site about anxiety and in it was symptoms of anxiety. It looks like their website is a very good resource for people suffering from anxiety. While I am no endorsing their site, I encourage any who are reading this to check it out. I have only included a few brief symptoms of anxiety from their long list. The entire list can be found at http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml

I myself have suffered from anxiety for much of my life with it becoming very intense and debilitating after I was recovering from the conversion disorder in 1991. At the time, I required Xanax to manage in life but have since found much more long lasting help through the work of Dr. Canali at Evolutionary Healing Institute. His methods work and I can make that claim because they have helped me tremendously. My life have traveled through hell and back a few times and so any healing from anxiety is a wonderful thing to me. As I continue to heal, it allows for deeper levels of healing to emerge so that they to will no longer rob me of so much in my life. As I have learned, true healing comes in through the body and the connection of the body to the mind. Without both parts, it is only partial healing and healing is a process, not just a one time event.

Remember this is a partial list from website: http://www.anxietycentre.com. Visit this website for further explanation and for the complete list.
  • Allergy problems
  • Back, neck, shoulder pain, stiffness, tension, spasms, soreness
  • Body jolts
  • Body temperature - change as in increase/decrease
  • Burning skin - itchy and crawly feeling
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Choking
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Clumsiness
  • Cravings that are unusual like sugar, sweets, chocolate
  • Dizziness
  • Excess energy as in you feel like you can't relax
  • Fainting or feeling like you're going to faint
  • Feeling like you are coming down with the flu
  • Heart palpitations
  • Change in sex drive
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Night sweats
  • Lack of energy
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Shooting or stabbing pains
  • Startle easily
  • Floor feels like it is moving
  • TMJ
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Find it hard to breathe
  • Fears become overwhelming
  • Fears about irrational things, objects, circumstances or situations
  • Need to sit near exits
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Altered state of reality
  • Desensitization
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short term memory loss
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Nightmares, bad dreams
  • Feeling spaced out
  • Always feeling angry
  • Lack of patience
  • Depression
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of appetite or taste
  • Stomach upset, gas, belching, bloating
  • Teeth grinding
  • Skin problems, infections, rashes
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Dry, watery or itchy eyes
  • Eyes sensitive to light
  • Pins and Needles feeling when being touched

Note: Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing any health related issues, visit your medical provider to be checked out. This post is meant as information only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult your physician for appropiate medical advice relating to health issues you may be facing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sleeping With Night Sweats and Fears


Note: Picture from Don Shetterly's, "A Journey Through Words" (used by permission)

For some time, I’ve been dealing with all kinds of physical realities at night. Almost every night when I go to bed, in spite of the room temperature being very cool, I experience an overall feeling of a very warm room. As I often say, the room feels like it is a thousand degrees even though it is not. This is something I have experienced on and off for many years and more off than on. It is a companion to me.

Most of the time, I can manage this and within a short time of going to bed, I can fall asleep with the temperature issues not affecting me to much as I go into the night. Usually by mid night time hours, I will feel somewhat cool as if the room temperature is normal. I’ve always just lived with this and sort of guessed that fear is at the cause of this condition for me.

Going to bed at night is never something I look forward to. It is a must do exercise that in order for me to function the next day, I need to get myself to sleep. Without a night light on in an adjacent room or some type of background noise like a fan, sleeping is almost out of the question. If there is any activity or noise around, there is no way I can sleep. At some points in my life, I have actually had to sleep with every light on in the house.

As I write this, I am so exhausted from lack of sleep over the past week or several days. I have lost count when the last time was that I got decent sleep. Lately, before going to bed, I have been getting dull headaches. And by the time I get ready to get in bed, I’m just wishing there was something else I could do besides subjecting myself to the activity of trying to sleep.

Sometimes I am fortunate enough to fall asleep and then an hour or two later, I am awakened with a startling force. Things such as body memories where I feel like something is being shoved up my anal region, or feeling like I am being pinned down or even feeling like I am being slapped around, hit me with full force. It feels as if there is something in the room attempting to haunt me or just watch my every move. I shake and tremble out of fear as I try to hide within my blankets. I’m on alert as I hear every sound or feel like I notice any movement even if there is nothing I can see with my eyes. I feel like prey being hunted and having to outsmart the predator at every turn. It is as if, one simple mistake would land me in a state of failure succumbing as prey to my predator. My predator is an imaginary creature but one that I seem to know very well.

Out of all of this, my eyes try to close but my mind and thoughts race as if there is no tomorrow. I’m not only constantly evaluating all that is going on around me, but I am working to solve every problem, situation or concern I am facing or may face. Even with breathing exercises or working with the enteric brain energy ball or listening to relaxing music, I am met with an incessant barrage of brain thoughts. I feel like I could compute more calculations than any computer are able to do and yet, my brain never seems to find the right solutions. It just keeps attempting to process the same information over and over as if it is stuck in a loop.

The latest in this round of wartime struggles has been the excessive sweating. From what I can read, night sweats are common in situations where stress is over the top. It can be a result of the nervous system being in a sympathetic state or a state of anxiety. The sweating may start as I go to bed or more commonly, it begins around an hour or two later. Generally, it is my low back and my groin area where it takes place. There have been times, when my bed sheets were soaked from sweat. Keep in mind the room temperature is not warm and even on the coldest of nights, I still go through this. The night sweating wakes me up with severe itching and if I try to ignore it, it attacks me with full strength until I can no longer stand it. I then end up getting into the shower and running water on my groin area with a shower massager in order to find a momentary level of comfort. Due to all of this, I have endured the moments when I begin to scratch myself and while it initially feels good and offers relief, it has become something that is now causing skin issues. Even if I could convince myself that scratching is not in my best interest, my body cries out for relief in any form that scratching becomes as normal as breathing.

The areas affected have changed as the days wear on. What first seemed to be the hot area has not changed and moved on for the most part. Although there are times when the scratching and itchy feeling revert back to where things were in previous days, generally it has moved on to other locations within my groin area. Sometimes in addition to the groin area, I feel an overall itching across my body like little electrical impulses that bounce from one area to the next.

Even though I drink plenty of water throughout my day, I have found myself extremely thirsty at nights when all of this happens. I don’t drink much caffeine at all but if I do, this situation is much worse. After two glasses of water tonight, I am still thirsty which is very strange and odd for me. It is not normal behavior that I experience.

The past few nights, the only thing I could do, in addition to getting in the shower, was to get out of bed and come downstairs. I have found a comforting place in our family room. It provides me some calmness and almost an escape from the predators of the night. The itching usually stops for the most part or reduces down to such a low level that I barely notice it. The sweating stop and I almost feel somewhat cool from the room temperature. If however, I decide to go back upstairs into the dark bedroom, the symptoms come back very quickly.

I feel like I’m at the end of my proverbial rope. I’m not sure how much more of this I can take because these symptoms are draining and exhausting. They have robbed me of precious hours of sleep while leaving me to feel as if I am a zombie. I fear there is some medical condition that gives rise to my early death but that too is fear and anxiety more so than anything founded in reality. Reality is difficult to understand these days because there does not seem to be any relevant reason for the progression of these things to take place. I feel as if my mind is losing the last remnants of sanity or enjoying playing one of the all time greatest tricks on me. I feel as if there is no end in sight, only the torment I feel each and every night. I try to tell myself that this too shall pass and things will get better but the skepticism at hearing this grows exponentially.

Yet, I know that body memories, nightmares and all types of unexplained events have plagued my life in one form or another. They seem more abundant than anything I know. While I know these rough periods of life have moved on and I’ve experienced profound moments of healing, going through these things are beyond the concept of difficult. I know that many of these things are part of a nervous system dysregulation, yet my mind fails to convince my body of that as it is experiencing all of these things. So I am faced once again, with a night of torment, a lack of sleep and unexplainable events. I long for true relief but I long for just a moment of comfort, peace and just some plain sleep.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We Impose Limitations Upon Ourselves


Our fear of making mistakes, our belief that we have no talent, and our comparisons with others all keep us from engaging any creative activity, and they do so without our realizing that the terms of engagement are ours to impose. - On Becoming An Artist by Ellen Langer, Pg 210

How many times do we sit there and wish we could do something about our situation only to draw the conclusion that there are a hundred zillion reasons why this cannot happen? Have you ever done this? I'm sure if you are like most other humans, you probably have at some point in your life. Yet, do we even notice that we do this or has it just become common place for us?

When we were born, we were given all the tools we needed to do whatever it is that our lives were meant to do. With time and through the influence of our caregivers, we began to doubt many of these abilities. As we carried on in life, we began to let these limitations build up on one another, preventing us from living our full potential in life.

Many times we go through our day, not even aware that we are placing these limits on ourselves. It can be through self talk, or even the activities that we allow ourselves to participate in. It could be in the choices we make that keeps us extremely busy from morning to night so that we inadvertently limit our choices of what we really want to do. Sometimes these things that limit us are beyond our visible comprehension and even if someone points it out to us, we do not have the frame of reference to fully understand that which we cannot see.

My challenge to each person reading this and to myself is that we begin to become acquainted with all the limitations we put on ourselves. Once we become aware of them, than it is up to us to choose to let these limitations go and embrace something greater within ourselves.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Language Limits Our Control

"Language has the interesting property of being able to increase and decrease our perceptions of control. We aren't very aware of how language limits our control." - Ellen Langer, On Becoming An Artist (Page 205).

All too often, our mouths are engaged at a high rate of speed as we fail to stop and listen to what is either being said to us or what we are saying to others. My mother used to have a good saying that we have two ears and one mouth. We should use them appropriately. Yet, as humans, we feel it is our necessity and our right to expound to everyone what we think the situation should be of whatever we are addressing. We fail to stop and consider all facets of the equation.

The internet has brought us further into the deep recesses of communication that is not helping to advance the cause of humanity. For it is too easy for people to just read something the screen and begin typing a response without even taking a moment to think about it. If you don't follow me, just take any news article posted on the internet and see the comments that immediately follow. It doesn't take but a minute to begin seeing the behavior I am talking about. And how many times do we do this in our own lives? We may feel proud that we do not do the same as others do in this regards but I'll be willing to bet that at some point during your day, you do the same through emails or other ways. Regardless if you agree or disagree, try to monitor a day in your life and see just how much this rings true. If you have to, monitor it for a week.

The one thing I find so disturbing in our world and culture is that everyone feels their opinion and view is valid no matter what. They will defend that to the end. It is great to have beliefs and view points and to state these but so many times, we just need to stop and listen. Imagine for a moment, that the news stations with all the talking pundits would go silent? How would that change our day, our lives and our world, or would it? Have you ever stopped to consider just how much these talking pundits (regardless of political beliefs) are influencing each person's life through a medium that has us mindlessly engaged rather than mindfully engaged? Think about that for a minute and see if you can connect with it.

Our language is powerful. We have so many inflections for the same word in our language. How we use those words can either better us as individuals and as a culture, or it can continue to degrade us into the depths we are traveling towards. It is our choice of course in what direction we choose to travel. Yet, our choice impacts the greater good of humanity it ways that seem so insignificant.

May our words bring about the highest good for everyone we meet, including ourselves.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Body Memory And Trauma - Part 3 of 3

Note: This is Part 3 of 3. Please click here for PART 1, and Part 2 to read this in sequence.


As I write this, I can feel the intense anger, pain, hurt, betrayal and heat in my body. It is as if I want to lash out and hit a punching bag. I want to scream out at this moment and just go, “Stop – I’ve had enough! What part of that don’t you understand?” Yet, the words seem to have no influence or power for me. They seem to be merely sound uttered with no result.

Part of the entire ordeal lately has left me not wanting to be physically close to anyone (not even myself). Imagine going through the roughest moment of your life and then repeating it every day. If you can picture yourself not wanting to be connected with relationships or others, than you’re beginning to get the picture. How I didn’t just give up during this time, I do not understand. This is far more than any person should ever have to face in their life and recover through.

So as the day wore on, I grew tired and the body memories came at me with a full force of vengeance. They would not let up and so I knew I had to find a way to help move through this. I decided to take a bath that night with some sea salt and peppermint essential oil that I had. It just seemed like the thing to do. The warm water felt soothing to me, and so I just soaked in the tub for some time while trying to notice how my breath felt in the water. I could sense my body move in the water as my breath went in and went out. Each inhalation and exhalation was a safe and comforting feeling to me. As I continued to soak in the warm water, I just kept connecting myself to my breath, and I could feel tiny little trembling in my arms as they were submerged. I knew that the trembling was connected to my nervous system discharging stored up energy as it looked for a way out. I stayed with my breath until I was able to extend the inhalations and exhalations, trying to allow the issues I was facing an opportunity to exit. As I stayed with this, I noticed that a lot of the tension in my body had dissipated and there was a greater calmness to my body. At that point, I just felt much more relaxed than I had all day long.

As I went to bed that night, I laid down wondering what the night was going to be like. Up until that point, I had several weeks of very little sleep and the exhaustion was wearing on me very hard. Little did I realize just how powerful my bath had been, for when I laid down to sleep, my eyes went shut easily and I think I slept the entire night without waking up once. It was the first night in many where I actually could sleep.

Waking up the next morning, I still felt somewhat tired but felt more refreshed than I had in quite some time. My body felt more relaxed and a lot less tense. Throughout the day, I noticed that the itching on my skin had dramatically reduced and overall I felt much more at peace. It was then that I realized something had shifted in me. I began to understand at that moment that the Yoga had just pushed the fears and sympathetic nervous system up into arousal, but the bath and breathing had allowed the full pendulation of my nervous system into the parasympathetic mode so that my body could heal itself and nourish itself in the way that it needed to. This was the resolution to what got kicked up in Yoga.

My next Yoga class was with a different instructor that was very low level, and while my body needed the relaxation, I wish it would have been kicked up a little than given more rest. However, the Yoga class did allow me to focus more in on my body and my breath, which of course helped take me deeper into the healing that was going on.

Tonight was my next Yoga class with the main instructor I usually go to. It is a respectful, honoring state of Yoga that we practice. The instructor is good about inviting us to do as much as we can, while listening to our bodies and remembering to breathe. Before Yoga, my resting pulse rate was again in the low to mid 90’s. However after Yoga, I once again used the Finger Pulse Meter to check my pulse and surprisingly it was 54. That is one of the lowest readings I have ever had since I’ve been checking it.

My body feels at peace tonight and not as tense. I can feel the shift and I can feel like maybe it is ok to once again inhabit my body. There are still the body issues and memories that are surfacing but for now, I’ve just chipped a major chunk away from them. The itching and pain is not completely gone but it is not as intense as it has been.

This is the holiday season and it usually pushes things up for me, so I am trying hard to take care of myself and give myself things that will help reregulate my nervous system. While the body issues are still there, they have greatly subsided since that major shift in me. For the first time since they flared up several weeks ago, I feel like maybe it is true, that this too shall pass and that I will once again regain my power over my body. Part of me says that this is still a dream but deep down, I know it is possible and hold that intention along with my courage and strength to continue on through another day.



NOTE: Due to the length of the article, this is the end of Part 3 of 3.





Definitions:
1. Somatoform Disorder/Body Memory: The presence of physical symptoms that suggest there is a underlying medical condition, when in fact the situation cannot be explained. These situations most likely represent an unconscious reaction of psychological situations and show up as a medical condition with or without any physical manifestation.

2. Body Memory (Somatic Memory): Sensations in the body that often link to some portion or aspect of trauma that the individual has been through. Body memories may occur in many ways.

Definition Source: http://www.sidran.org/

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Body Memory And Trauma - Part 2 of 3

Note: This is Part 2 of 3. Please click here PART 1, to read this in sequence.


Over the past few weeks, I had been diligent about going to Yoga. I knew that this would help resolve the issues that I was facing. To remember some things that I have recently been taught has helped me to stay grounded in my life. One such concept is Pendulation. Pendulation of the autonomic nervous system between the sympathetic and parasympathetic allows us to communicate through the language of the subconscious. It is through this communication that allows the amygdale (low brain) and the prefrontal cortex (high brain) to resolve their differences. Yoga is one way that does this, by connecting the mind and body through breath and movement to help us become more conscious and aware while giving us the power to heal our bodies. Our bodies know exactly what they need to heal, but often our fears and misperceptions get in the way of allowing them to do as they need to. We are often our own worst enemy. Pendulation of the autonomic nervous system is a natural healing process to our bodies that can be accessed if we know how to go in and do this.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Yoga even though my body did not feel like it. Life had gotten very intense for me, and I found myself just trying to hang on in spite of all the body memories coming up. That night in Yoga, we went through some pretty intense moves that I had never experienced before. Most of the moves that were involving the hip/pelvic region were extremely difficult, challenging, and almost to the point of being too painful. However, I allowed myself to go as far as I could knowing that if I honored and respected my body as I pushed into the pain, that there would be the possibility of freedom on the other side. I was not expecting miracles or anything spectacular but I was allowing myself the opportunity of staying in the moment.

Before Yoga, I had taken my pulse and saw that it was in the mid to high 90’s, which is high, but lately that is where my pulse seemed to find a resting state. Through the use of the Finger Pulse Oximeter OctiveTech 300PRO, I have been monitoring my pulse in hopes of understanding my body to a greater degree, and helping move myself to a higher state of calmness, awareness, and healing. After this particular Yoga session, I checked my pulse and it was actually at 112. It had gone up instead of coming down, and this was even directly at the end of final relaxation time. I felt the agitation in my body and so it was no surprise to me. I could have panicked but I realize that this is evidence that my autonomic nervous system had been kicked up into arousal (the fear state) and so I just allowed myself to be there. It wasn’t easy, because I was discouraged that it had gone up instead of down, but I knew deep within me how the principles of the nervous system work, and that helped me to just allow myself to stay in this state.

That night, I could barely sleep. I was beyond restless and could not find a way to stay calm or still or even find a moment’s peace. I tossed and turned that entire night as I watched the clock tick by like no other night ever in my life. I have had some pretty rough nights throughout my life, but this one was intense. The body pains would come and go; the itching would get intense and then go away as quickly as it came on this particular night. I tried so hard to shut my eyes, but the fears of a predator trying to hunt me down were as big as the tallest building in the world. It seemed like the room was over a thousand degrees and I wished for more air just to breathe. The darkness seemed like a blanket that was smothering me as the predator continued his hunt. I wanted to hide in the blanket, but the room was too hot. The only thing that I took solace in was that soon it would be morning and the daylight would fill the room. For as I had been finding out, daylight was my friend in order for me to get anything close to the resemblance of sleep. The predator and the fears did not like the daytime hours and the daylight.

Morning came and I finally was able to fall asleep. I felt much safer because the predator had once again hidden. The predator never comes out during the day, but if he is going to show up, it will be at night. I slept as long as I could but soon it became necessary for me to arise and go about my day. The last thing I wanted was to face the world or anyone in any way. I did not even want to face myself. I pretty much hated every part of myself at that moment.



NOTE: Due to the length of the article, this is the end of Part 2. Please come back tomorrow for Part 3.




Definitions:
1. Somatoform Disorder/Body Memory: The presence of physical symptoms that suggest there is a underlying medical condition, when in fact the situation cannot be explained. These situations most likely represent an unconscious reaction of psychological situations and show up as a medical condition with or without any physical manifestation.

2. Body Memory (Somatic Memory): Sensations in the body that often link to some portion or aspect of trauma that the individual has been through. Body memories may occur in many ways.

Definition Source: http://www.sidran.org/

Friday, December 11, 2009

Body Memory And Trauma - Part 1 of 3


Over the past several weeks, I have been experiencing “body memories” (somatic memory). This is not the first time I have been through these things and as usual, they are difficult to go through. Anyone that has been through them, knows exactly what I’m talking about. This time, it has been something totally different for me. Most of it involves intense itching all over my skin (itchy skin) and especially in the groin region. Sorry, but that’s as informative as I’m going to be because it isn’t easy to talk about. However, this is not all-the-time itching, but it just happens when you’re least expecting it and when there is no apparent reason for it. It comes and goes almost as quickly as rain starts and stops.

More importantly, there are moments when the pain starts in (not to be confused with the itching) and the pain gets so intense, I just want to cry and scream out. Keep in mind that this is not pain from some injury or other physical abnormality. If you viewed my skin and my body, you would see nothing that would lend itself to these types of reactions. However, they feel as real as if some pain or some condition was being inflicted upon my body in that moment.

These moments have seemed to focus more on the night time hours than the daytime, yet sometimes the time of day makes no difference. Usually, when these times hit, my anxiety level is through the roof and it feels as if it is 1000 degrees in the room, when the temperature is actually on the chilly side. In addition, there is a feeling of despair and anger that accompanies these times that is unexplainable. No, it is not because of the body issues going on, although that adds to it. These are things that seem to appear as entities with their own existence.

I’ve had several nights when I was awakened from a deep sleep with itching that would make me want to remove every body part I could. Fortunately a knife was not in close proximity. The pain would start coming from somewhere deep within me and pushing me to the brink of feeling like I could not take any more. It left me tired from the nights of hardly any sleep while I would struggle to shut my eyes. Even though I was tired, my eyes would almost have to be forced to close so I could sleep. It was as if they were watching out for a predator that was hunting me down.

While this may sound intense, it has gone on for several weeks. At the moment, the duration feels like an eternity. It has pushed me to the point of really wondering whether I wanted to keep going at times. Between the lack of sleep, exhaustion and the physical realities, it seemed as if there was no way through this. Even though I’ve been through body memories in the past, it still does not prepare you for when you come up against new ones. There is nothing that I have found to this point that puts me in control. It is as if this entity must run its course, and I have no say in it.

While I know that these things will pass and that there is more going on which is trying to find a place of resolution, it still takes determination, courage and strength. The body sometimes plays these past events in a continuous flow until it finds an exit route. No matter what, until these things are released from the body in such a way that the past events no longer loop in a continuous circuit, they will continue. That does not mean that we are able to get through these events in some easy fix it event, but that they often take time. Many of these body memories are well rooted and fixed within our bodies, our minds and our consciousness. So to take them on, a small piece of them is sometimes all we can handle at any one given moment. As long as we allow ourselves to go into these things and be with them, we are taking back the power from them and giving ourselves the much needed power we so deserve. It isn’t about just releasing some emotions or bringing emotions up, but it is about chipping away at these body memories one piece at a time. These are the things I remind myself of right now as I progress through these difficult times.



NOTE: Due to the length of the article, this is the end of Part 1. For Part 2 of 3, click here Part 2




Definitions:
1. Somatoform Disorder/Body Memory: The presence of physical symptoms that suggest there is a underlying medical condition, when in fact the situation cannot be explained. These situations most likely represent an unconscious reaction of psychological situations and show up as a medical condition with or without any physical manifestation.

2. Body Memory (Somatic Memory): Sensations in the body that often link to some portion or aspect of trauma that the individual has been through. Body memories may occur in many ways.

Definition Source: http://www.sidran.org/

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Post-traumatic stress may harm kids' brains


This is an excellent article from CNN.com about a study led by Dr. Victor Carrion and the senior author was Dr. Allan Reiss, both at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University School Of Medicine.


Article Link: Post-Traumatic Stress May Harm Kids' brains

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mike Lew - Upcoming 2010 Events

I've had the pleasure of getting to know Mike Lew through a workshop and an interview I did for an organization a few years ago called Voices In Action. There are many out there that could benefit from one of his workshops and so I am posting this message I received from from his email list in hopes that if it helps one person, than it is worth it. For more information, please check out Mike Lew's website at http://www.nextstepcounseling.org

Mike Lew is also the author of the books "Victim No Longer" and "Leaping Upon The Mountains" They are excellent resources, help and encouragement especially for male survivors of child abuse. I am actually quoted on Page 199 of Leaping Upon The Mountains.



Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We have many interesting events on the 2010 calendar. For more information, please visit our Web site at http://www.nextstepcounseling.org

This email contains a quick rundown of currently scheduled events. We hope to see you at one or more of them.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There will be 2 weekend workshops at Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center in Bangor, Pennsylvania.

The first, Healing Together: A Recovery Weekend for Female and Male Survivors, will be held January 22-24, co-led by Louise Kindley and Mike Lew. This is the first such event at Kirkridge.

August 13-15 2010 will mark our 20th annual LEAPING UPON THE MOUNTAINS: A MEN'S RECOVERY WEEKEND co-led by Thom Harrigan and Mike Lew.

For further information and/or registration, contact Kirkridge at http://www.kirkridge.org/welcome/homepage/kirkridge-programs-176-166.html or 610-588-1793

---------------------------------------------------------------------

March 18-21, 2010 New York, NY - MaleSurvivor Conference

Mike will be facilitating a day long workshop for male survivors on March 18th 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM as a pre-conference institute. It is open to non-offending adult male survivors. The cost of the workshop is $100.

He will also be moderating and international plenary panel on Friday, March 19th 6:15-7:45 PM, and will offer a workshop on new directions for male survivors in recovery that is open to all on Saturday, March 20th 3:30-5:00 PM. For further details about this and other conference offerings, visit: http://www.malesurvivor.org/conference-2010.html

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

April-May 2010, Australia and New Zealand

Following on the successful recent events for professionals and male survivors in Australia, plans well along for Mike's return visit to "Oz" and New Zealand. Events will be co-sponsored by South East Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA), Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), and Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT)

Planned events are as follows:

April 8th - Professional Training Day in Sydney

April 9th - Day long Male Survivor Workshop in Sydney

For information about the Sydney events, contact Susan Leith-Miller at susan@asca.org.au

April 15th - Professional Training Day in Melbourne

For information about the above event, contact Peter Pa'aPa'a at Peter.PaaPaa@southernhealth.org.au or Carolyn Worth at Carolyn.Worth@southernhealth.org.au

April 16-18th - Our 4th Male Survivor Residential Weekend Workshop in Maldon, Victoria

For information about the weekend, contact Max Clarke at Maxwell.Clarke@southernhealth.org.au

April 23rd - Professional Training Day in Perth/Fremantle

April 24th - Day long Male Survivor Workshop in Perth/Fremantle

For information about the events in Western Australia contact Peter Wright at pwright@asca.org.au

April 27th - Professional Training Day in Darwin

April 28th - Day long Male Survivor Workshop in Darwin

For information about the Darwin events, contact Geoff Bahnert at gbahnert@asca.org.au

April 30th-May 2nd - our 3rd Male Survivor Residential Weekend Workshop in Christchurch.

For information about the workshop, contact Ken Clearwater or John Prince at mssat@survivor.org.nz

May 5th - Professional Training Day in Hamilton.

For information about the training day contact Mike Hollway at smaffezs@xtra.co.nz



ASCA (Adults Surviving Child Abuse) in collaboration with SECASA, is pleased to announce the Mike Lew 2010 Tour Downunder. Mike Lew is a world authority in men’s recovery from childhood abuse.

In April 2010 Mike will be running several one-day workshops around the country as well as a three-day residential retreat for male survivors of child abuse in Melbourne.

Mike will also conduct a series of one-day workshops for health professionals working with male survivors of child abuse.

For more information and/or to register please visit www.asca.org.au/mikelew

For sponsorship opportunities please email Susan Leith-Miller at susan@asca.org.au

Susan Leith-Miller
Executive Officer
Adults Surviving Child Abuse
ph: 02 8920 3611
www.asca.org.au


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Events in early planning stages:

Thom Harrigan and Mike Lew will be giving a series of lectures in Japan during the Fall, 2010. Details will be posted on the Web site as they develop.

Please help spread the word about these events. I hope to see you at one or more of them.

All the best,

Mike

Monday, December 7, 2009

Piano Christmas Music

I've been working hard lately on a new website called Christmas Piano Songs . So maybe the title for this blog entry should be "Christmas Piano Songs" instead of "Christmas Piano Music". Of course, it probably does not matter for a blog because it is all Christmas music and it is all piano music. I've been running some advertisement as well to see if I can increase sales on it. This has kept me very busy trying to learn and understand how to do this. Tis the season of the year to be advertising for this. I normally do not try to advertise on here but this is the reason I have not posted much lately. I'll be resuming posting very soon.

Anyway, I plan on adding much more to the website than is already there. But here are a few things it has:

1. Downloadable Christmas Sheet Music through Virtual Sheet Music
2. Lyrics to many of my favorite Christmas carols that is in a pdf format so you can print it!
3. An iTunes imix of my favorite Christmas carols including the ones from my Christmas CD.
4. The history of many of the Christmas carols listed on the website
5. Many places to download the Christmas Songs online
6. The story of the Birth Of Jesus
7. Words to Twas The Night Before Christmas
8. Miscellaneous facts and trivia that I'll be adding to as I go.

So anyway, if you want to check it out, the website is www.christmaspianosongs.com

Make sure you pass the website on to all your friends!

Please feel free to give me feedback as well or other things you might think of that I can include. As long as I don't run into copyright issues, I will consider adding your ideas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mindless Humans


Often in our day, we have so many influences that determine the course of our actions, our thoughts, our consciousness and in general just how we view our day. Yet, we fail to see the totality of these individual events as they dramatically impact our lives. We often see them as unconnected events without any significance to the higher purpose of our self or of the universe as a whole.

What events am I referring to? These events are the moments in our every day existence that we barely notice yet they account for the many tasks we do. They are things we have to do in order to take care of ourselves or family members in any given day. It may be a job that we go to, running our kids to daycare or after school events or dealing with a myriad of mundane tasks. Yes, all these tasks are important and critical to our lives. For if we stopped doing them, there would be serious repercussions for us. Even watching TV shows and news, while appearing to inform or entertain you, may actually result in you being disconnected and not conscious or mindful.

So if these mundane tasks are important than what is your point? When was the last time, you walked out the door in the morning and just listened to the birds sing with joy? When was the last time you went to lunch in your day and stopped to pause for a moment to feel the sun hitting on your face giving you a warmth and energy that felt so invigorating? When was the last time, while taking your child to daycare or an activity that you truly listened to what they were saying and not just thinking about all the things you needed to get done? When was the last time, you just stopped for a moment and noticed your breath and your body and just how good it felt to do that?

We all have our mundane tasks in sometimes our mundane life that we have to do. That is a fact of life unless you are a lottery winner and can pick and choose everything you do in life. However, even people who are wealthy have mundane tasks that they must do. All of us have to get out of bed at some point during the day and eat, groom ourselves and do whatever it is that we feel is important. No matter how fortunate or wealthy we are, these things are a given for our day. Since we can't escape these normal tasks, can we not enjoy them in a mindful way?

As stated by Ellen Langer in her book, On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity (page 11), "In many small ways we have learned to become mindless without questioning why we do so.". This is a powerful statement and is what I'm referring to as I talk about being mindless during our mundane tasks that we do each day. We all do it, no matter who we are or how advanced we are. Some people are better than others at bringing mindfulness into their days instead of just being mindless.

So what can we do? One of the things that each of us can do is just taking a moment out of our day and being with ourselves. We can do this by spending a few moments (30 seconds would be enough for this exercise) and noticing our breath. Feeling the rise and fall of our breath, how shallow or deep it is and even how rapid or slow it is will connect us to our breath. By connecting to our breath, we will connect our mind with our body and if you stay with this exercise for a few moments, you'll begin to feel the effects of it on your body in how centered you feel, how at home you feel and even the tension within yourself. You need not pay anyone for an experience like this because you can do it with yourself at any time of the day or night. It is simple but effective. Eckhart Tolle in his book discussions with Oprah Winfrey on A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Oprah's Book Club, Selection 61) did a very powerful example of this. He just had everyone sit there for 30 seconds wherever they were at and focus on their breath. It was an amazing experience for many and I once again saw the power of something that was this simple.

Another simple thing we can do is when we are walking out the door in the morning, just stop and listen to all that we can hear. Some of you may have many noises such as cars and city sounds but see if you can listen beyond that. How many different birds do you hear singing? How fast are the chirps coming from the birds? Is the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees and how does that sound? You may hear a dog barking in the background or a cat meowing. What other sounds do you pick up?

If sounds do not work for you, try picking up on the colors you see as you walk out of your house. Can you notice the different colors of the landscape around your house or your neighbors? What if you look at the trees and see all the colors on the tree? How many different colors are there and how many different shades of the color green can you see? I'm only scratching the surface with all that you can see because the same things can be applied if you just look at the sky and clouds.

There are many ways you can be mindful in your day including feeling the warmth of the sun as you step out of a building or staring at the clouds and creating cloud images in your mind. You could even take a moment when you're in the shower and feel the sensation of the hot or cold water on your skin. Giving yourself plenty of time to eat so that you can actually taste and enjoy your food without having your daily tasks flooding your conscious mind. These are a few examples and if you practice being mindful instead of mindless, you'll find many more.

Please don't stop here thinking this is all that mindfulness is for it is much more than that. Try to take all that you pick up in these exercises and see how it makes you feel within your body. Do you get a warm glow or tingle? Do you feel goosebumps on your skin? Do you feel your body sink down into a state of relaxation? Do you sense your breath slowing down and becoming fuller?

There are so many ways that we can be impacted by becoming mindful and when you feel it in your body, you have truly crossed over from being a mindless human to being mindful of your life, your day and your moments. At this point, life will be much more rewarding and abundant for you while becoming more conscious.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Stress

Yesterday, I woke up with many things on my to do list that needed to be accomplished. So I started working on them not giving a thought to where my mental and emotional state were. After all, I had just come off of a very peaceful and fabulous weekend, so I thought - things are lookin up!

But as Tuesday wore on, I was in frantic hyper mode trying to get 50 things done at once and growing ever impatient with myself. Without even realizing it, I really did not want to see any other living person around me and so I buried myself in more of my to do lists. It was a vicious cycle and one which has played out before but the thing was, while it was going on, I did not notice it. I did not notice what was flying under the radar hidden from my vantage point.

By the afternoon, I had almost exhausted myself from the stress I was putting myself under. Yet, I did not even realize that I was even doing this. Feeling very tired and worn out, I laid down on my massage table to just let go of everything and rest my eyes. During that time of rest, I began to become aware of what was going on. And then - it dawned on me - Thanksgiving was this week.

Thanksgiving used to be a wonderful time for me as a kid. There was all this food and we often got to travel to my relatives house where everyone enjoyed spending time with each other. Playing pool on the pool table at my uncle's house or just smelling the cooking from the kitchen. Waiting ever so patiently for the meal to be served which always seemed to take longer than expected while the football games would blast from the living room TV. Even if we did not travel on that day and stayed home, it was such a peaceful time, full of memories and we especially got the day to just be inside and maybe watch some TV or sleep in - you know - the stuff kids do. It was such a wonderful time.

Hold on one darn gosh minute! The above "wonderful time for me as a kid" was nothing like what I experienced. I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me! Thanksgiving was anything but this. If we had to travel to our relatives house, there was plenty of bitching and squabbling going on and oh the gossip would flow - all in catching up with one another of course and trying to talk about what was best for each family member. Yeah Right - as I roll my eyes a few times! The TV was so darn blasted loud that one could hardly hear anyone talk and maybe for good reason. After a few hours of this, my head would begin pounding because of the noise, the bitching and the squabbling. And since we were going to have a big meal for the day, we would often not get to eat anything until this point. Most of the time, it would be sometime in the mid afternoon before the meal was ready and by that time, I was so hungry, I didn't care what the food tasted like, I just wanted to stuff food in my belly.

And if we did stay home, it wasn't like we got to be kids and sleep in. There was always things to do and work to be done on our stupid little 3 acre ranch! And if my Dad couldn't think up something for us to do, there was always his moment of enjoyment which meant we went out and cut wood in the cold and snow. While he enjoyed it, I could have wanted to find something else to do for just one day of the year. And to not forget this momentous occasion one thanksgiving where my Dad felt we all needed to drink wine. Consider growing up in a home where everything was a sin including drinking wine and yet my father belittled me into trying to get me to drink the wine. The guilt trip he laid on me for exercising my right to say no to this was horrendous.

These were the memories of Thanksgiving that I have. While I would like to think they were the "Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving Memories" and as much as I would like to play like they were, Thanksgiving was anything but this. It was stressful and too many times, I witnessed my mother feeling sick or having a migraine during this day. Too many times, I witnessed my father wielding the rod of child rearing during this time. Too many times, I worked my butt off out in the cold and snow just so we didn't have to be one happy family around each other.

So yesterday, it was no surprise to me when I started to become aware of just how Thanksgiving was impacting me. In the past, I've almost laid a few big tough guys and ladies on the ground in stores because the anger of my own pain had consumed me. I still remember one year trying to pick a fight with two guys that were twice my size and to this day, I'm glad they just walked on and ignored me. It is amazing what the unresolved pain and hurt can do to a person. I'm also aware that so many others go through similar reactions like I do when it comes to the holidays.

While so much has improved for me, the stress of this time builds up. I've worked on building my own memories and while that does help, the pain of the past is still there as a foundation to my life. You can often do things to forget, but it doesn't mean everything ceases to exist.

Fortunately yesterday, I was smart enough to go to Yoga. When I got to the fitness center, my resting pulse was around 112 which is very high and even high for me. I did the Yoga and took my pulse reading again with the Finger Pulse Oximeter and my pulse had come down around 92. While that is still high, it had dropped 20 points. This morning when I woke up, my pulse was actually down to 68.

I'm glad I did Yoga because it helped reset and reregulate my autonomic nervous system. When we are out of balance and in the sympathetic mode of our nervous system, it is not uncommon for our pulse to be very high. If we can find a way to reset our body's nervous system and get back into parasympathetic mode, our pulse should come down. Yoga is just one way to help with this but the way I have found which works very well and very quickly is through the practice of Unified Therapy. I've seen my pulse rate drop from the high 90's down to the high 50's in just a matter of an hour on the table with Unified Therapy. Yoga is a good complement to this particular work and helps to maintain the work on the table. It is through the breathing and mindful connection of the body that we are able to make physical changes within our bodies.

If you are like me and struggle through the stress of Thanksgiving, I want you to know you're not alone. I've been there, done that and have far too many tshirts to show for it. If you can find things to do on that day that help ease your pain, do them! Don't feel like you have to do what society says you must do on this day just to appease people! Take care of yourself and give yourself the good memories and good experiences you deserve. Finding ways to help others can often be a good source of a soothing balm to help comfort your own pain.

And if you're one that has had happy memories, my hat is off to you. Consider sharing that with others who don't have those memories and being understanding of those that struggle through these times. Just thinking happy thoughts or whatever advice you may have just might not necessarily help the people who deal with intense pain during this time. Allowing them to just be in whatever way they need to and letting them know that they aren't alone, can be one of the greatest blessings you could give to those in pain. It might not seem like much to them but believe me, those thoughts given with the purest of love is a great and wonderful gift.

I'm happy that I was able to spot the stress beginning to show itself in my life like I did this year. In years past, it would have just completely pulled me under. While it is still difficult to some degree, I do try to do things that help take care of myself. The pain is not as difficult as it once was but it is still there.

So I'll end this on a happy note that I am thankful for how far I've come, that I survived this far into my life and that I'm beginning to really separate the joy from the pain of my past. I'm also thankful that I am able to write about this so others out there maybe won't feel so all alone on holidays such as this. May we all reflect on all that we have, not what we feel we don't have and may we all be extra sensitive to those who are still struggling to see this.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do We Change or Do We Hunker Down?


Many of us from the species called humans come up against big obstacles in our life and in our day. We all know what these things are if we have not completely become numb to them. I'm sure each one of us could think of a zillion obstacles or at least one in our life right at this moment.

These obstacles are put in our path for many reasons. Sometimes they are to get us to stop and look at the direction we are traveling. Other times, they are put there so hopefully we will gain something new from observing the obstacle. They might be put there for many other reasons from bringing new insight to us, a warning for our lives or just to get our attention. I'm sure each of us could come up with many reasons for these obstacles being put in our path.

We as humans are meant to evolve and grow and become more than we were the day before. When in the busy hustle of life, evolving and growth towards things higher than ourselves often get put on the back burner. There are just too many things we tell ourselves that we must do and stopping to look at the obstacles in our life just requires too much time, work and energy. Ok, it may not be that direct that we do this but I'm not telling anyone something new. We all are well aware of what we do, even if we don't own up to it.

So my question is reflective for each person who is reading this to consider. Do we change or do we hunker down? Hunkering down can be a good thing sometimes when the hurricane force winds are bearing down upon us but if we stay hunkered down, we'll never see the sunlight of the new day. Once again, I ask, Do we change or do we hunker down?

It is up to each one of us to not be content with the status quo in our lives and to not just accept our life as the means to an end or this is the way it has been and always will be. It is up to each one of us to go forward in our lives, reaching for that higher purpose within ourselves and becoming all that we are not only meant to be but that we are capable of becoming. There is so much that lies within each one of us and we often forget this. We all must realize just how much we do have in spite of the obstacles we see before us.

So one final time I ask the question again: Do we change or do we hunker down when we come upon obstacles in our lives?

It is an answer only you can give and hopefully you are honest with yourself because no one else will do that for you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dreams - Tornado, Cows and a Barn


Waking up with what seemed to be my heart racing and wanting to hide under the covers from some unknown frightening source, I finally convinced myself that I was dreaming. The dream that was taking place in my mind was not actually happening. However, it was difficult to convince myself of this. As I found myself needing to make a trip to the bathroom, my trusty cat was there to help give me some comfort and protection from this unknown frightening source. The frightening source is a mystery to me but all I know is that I was trying to hide from it.

Isn’t it amazing just how dreams can become so real to us or feel like they are in every way real with every emotion that accompanies them? While I don’t try to analyze every dream and make it describe in detail what it may or may not mean, I do pay attention to the emotions and fears that surface for they tell me something. In this particular dream, there were familiar things mixed in with strange events and people that I know. However, there are so many explanations that could fit this dream and like I was saying, the important part may be to not pick apart and analyze the dream but to see how the emotions and fear come up within me. Some of the symbols are important I assume but as to what they mean, I do not know at this time.

I wish I would have had my pulse meter close to me because I would have liked to check it to see if it matched what I was feeling in my own body with my heart racing. However, it was not available so I could not verify this.

So here’s the dream: (just for the sake of writing it down).

There was a big dairy barn and somehow everyone knew that a gigantic tornado was coming and would be hitting the town. So at the right time, we as a town (the town’s people) made our way to the barn. This barn was old and rickety with many air holes and leaks throughout. Everyone gathered in the upper level of the barn lying side to side on the bales of hay. Down below were the cattle and they were all shut up in the barn. While most of the people seemed very familiar in the barn as if I knew them all, the only person there from my family was my dad. No other family members were present and I have no idea where they were. It was not like we were in close proximity to each other but I just knew my dad was there.

As the tornado got close and began to hit the barn, we all realized that the tornado was much smaller than everyone thought. It was a sigh of relief to all. As the tornado was unleashing its fury on the barn and rotating the barn in a slow paced circular motion, I sat down on the stairs going to the lower level of the barn. Just before, one of the cows was standing there. It was a very big bull which was very fat and had a black, shiny, coat of hair. In a very firm stance and stare, it looked at me as if to try and intimidate me but I just stared back not flinching for a minute.

As the tornado withdrew and vanished, the barn stayed together without any damage. No one was hurt and so everyone left to go back to their homes or wherever they needed to go in the town. My dad vanished and I did not see him again. I have no idea where he went.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Startled By The Startle Reflex


As part of the last couple of workshops I’ve attended, I am beginning to understand just how powerful the startle reflex can be in releasing stored energy (trauma, stress or whatever word you want to call it). So today, I wanted to work with that more in myself and understand it a little further. Working on it within yourself gives you firsthand knowledge.

Laying out by my pool in the morning sun, the heat of the sun’s rays felt very comforting. For some time, I had been reading a book and just relaxing and meditating. I began thinking about the startle reflex but also doing something where I was holding some control over myself in doing this. I checked the water temperature of the pool and it was 66 degrees. That is rather cold water and not anything you would want to swim in for very long.

As I began to formulate in my mind as to dipping myself in the water to create the startle reflex, the fears started to come up big time. Fears of what if I freeze up and can’t get back out or the water is too cold and it is going to feel bad, etc. So I decided to just go gently into it and only submerge half of myself in a section of the pool where I could get back out of it easily. That way, it helped alleviate some of the fears.

With all of this in mind, I proceeded to put myself in to the pool. I felt the cold water rush in around my legs and upper thighs along with all the sensations that were part of that. It was not as scary as I thought it would be and while the water didn’t exactly feel as soothing as a warm bath would feel, it had a refreshing quality all to itself. I stayed in there for a very short time (maybe only a couple of minutes) but enough to feel the full effects of the coldness and the water.

Going back to the nice poolside lounging chair we have, I laid down and let the sun’s rays of warmth cover me. As I did this, I could begin to feel my legs go through the trembling. This was not a trembling as if I was cold like one would experience if you were in a cold environment and began shaking. This was a different trembling from the inside out where the muscles and the body were releasing. The intensity of the trembling would come and go as my breathing began to feel that of apprehension and fear. I then, decided to just allow my legs to move in an ever so slightly and simple way connecting with the trembling and all that I was experiencing. As I did this, the trembling would increase then let up slightly. The entire time, I was staying connected to my body with my mind.

After a few moments, I let my legs back down to a resting position and my body took a deep breath than exhaled into a moment where I felt very relaxed and more at peace. I allowed the sun to warm my body as the air helped to dry my skin from the pool water. For several minutes, I just allowed my body to rest and be with all that had gone on. Even after getting up and going back inside, the body temperature in my legs had come back to normal but yet, I could still feel the tiny trembling within me. As I know from experience, these trembling are just the release of stored energy and so I am completely ok with them.

There was a sense of peace and calmness in my body that stayed with me throughout the day. I am once again reminded of just how innate and simple of a process this is for humans, yet we tend to make it difficult or impossible. Our bodies have a built in healing mechanism that knows what we need. If we allow this to happen, we can transform our own bodies from the current state they are in.



Note: Photo by NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Pulse Is Too High - FOLLOW UP




This is a follow up post to previous entries that I wrote about.


Since I last wrote this blog entry "My Pulse Is Too High" on Oct 19, 2009, I have had much improvement on my pulse rate. Instead of being in the high 90's at a resting state, I have actually come down to the 80's.

The things I have been doing include Yoga, mediation and relaxation along with a technique called the "Enteric Brain". I have been monitoring my pulse with the Finger Pulse Oximeter pictured above. This has helped me to truly know and understand what is going on within myself.

In addition, I had a session with Dr. Canali and attended the latest workshops. As usual there was a lot that came up but during this session and workshop, I began to go into the fear and emotions that were coming up instead of letting them over take me. The last time I was worked on during the workshop, I could really feel my body come down into a deeper sense of calmness and so we checked my pulse. Sure enough it was down in the 50's which is as low as I've seen it for some time. A day after this, it is still in the 70's so I'm on the right track. I'm sure it will fluctuate but as I'm seeing, there is a lot that we can do to control this.

Never in my life did I realize my pulse was so high on a daily basis until the Oximeter came along. I'm sure doctors and nurses probably recorded a high pulse rate all these years but since I get so nervous in a doctor's office setting, they probably just chalked it up to anxiety and tension. I never once heard a doctor address this with me which I find strange. Here I've been walking around with a ticking time bomb in me and if I would have let this continue, who knows when my number life would have been called.

More importantly though through re-regulation of the autonomic nervous system with Dr. Canali, I can see that it is possible to drop my pulse rate. What is nice also, is that I did not even need medication to reduce my pulse rate. Just think of the energy that has been robbed of me as my heart is beating so fast and hard. What if I am able to reclaim that wasted energy in myself and use it for positive things instead of being tired and worn out all the time. This is life changing for me. Maybe now, I've added a few years to my life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Plan I Dream About


From My Journal

The Plan I Dream About
As Recorded on Nov 12, 2009

In my life, I enjoy having plenty of free time to myself. Most of my life, I spent many hours a day and almost every day seeing how much I could work. Work was my passion, my drug, and my lover. It consumed me while I consumed it. It was my escape from a world I did not want to be involved with. It was my mistress yet it was my partner. No longer do I have a desire to see how many hours I can put in for any given day or week. I enjoy my down time way too much.

In my downtime, I enjoy writing for my blog or just writing whatever is on my mind. That isn’t work to me. In my downtime, I enjoy playing my keyboard and not specifically to record anything but just to do this. It is enjoyment, not work. In my downtime, I love to create whether it is finding a better way to do something, growing things in my garden, painting, or taking pictures. These are times of enjoyment and wonder for me. If I could use my creativity to sustain my life, these things would account for much of my week.

However, I’m faced with the reality that while I make limited money from these endeavors, they do not sustain my life or give me any flexibility in living throughout my day. I can’t help but think of the term we often hear about artists who struggle, calling them “starving artists”. If I was on my own and not with the person I love, I would be most likely living out of a cardboard box begging for food. That is a harsh reality that makes me shudder from the inside out and even though I would rather not think about this, I know how much of a reality it could be. I long for the day when I can contribute much more than I am able at this moment, to the relationship with my partner that I have.

Throughout my past and my years growing up, I lived in a family that struggled to put food on the table. I remember going to bed hungry many times and if it weren’t for free lunches through the government at school or the food giveaways, I would have truly starved as a child. Extras to us were buying clothes we needed (not wanted) and possibly the biggest treat we got was buying a candy bar once a year. I don’t remember ever going out to eat other than when I got gift certificates given to me for McDonalds and then that was about the only time. I remember the cold houses we lived in with barely enough heat to make it through the cold Iowa winters only warming up a bathroom with a space heater on Saturday nights so we could take a bath. We had very little in possessions but I was always creative so I managed to create my own fun and adventures without ever spending one penny.

So now, I stand in front of that gigantic mountain which lies before me having no idea of how to cross it. It seems too big in front of me and the cliffs seem too steep to climb. I see the snow covered tops as the winds howl with force. I feel as if I’m not prepared to climb it nor do I have the energy needed. I see people beckon from afar drawing my attention to take the challenge of the climb, but as I get ready to initiate the first step, I am stopped by a tree directly in front of me. My face is so pressed against that tree, that I am not able to turn my face to either side to realize I can go around it as I begin to climb. I am so afraid of taking a step backwards toward what I am fleeing in my life that it renders my movement motionless. It appears that I can go nowhere. It appears that this is my destiny no matter what I try to tell myself or others try to tell me. I become exhausted. I become disillusioned. I desire to give up for the challenge seems too difficult.

I’m not a stranger to challenge or difficulty in my life. It has been more abundant than any other thing I’ve ever known. It seems as if it is my partner, my soul mate and my passion. Yet, that seems about as ridiculous as one can get. This does not make logical sense to a logical mind but it feels like a long lost friend I will forever be connected with. And how I so desire to once and for all, flee from this friend.

As I let my mind dream and wander which it so likes to do, I know there is more out there for me and this keeps me going! While I can picture so many images in my mind of all that can be, I’m haunted by the fears and horrors my life faces. It is not a comforting thought but one of complete fear and trepidation.

So if I could remove all fears, all obstacles and all old patterns to my life, here is what I think life would be. At least this is the view from the cheap seats of the concert hall. I’m writing this of course to mark this moment in my life so that it will not slip away unnoticed and to give credibility to the thoughts and forward motion of my mind.

There is a building close to where we live that used to be a “Hollywood Video Store”. It sits on one of the main roads into town with easy access. The building has large ceilings in it with a feel of landscaping and glass windows. I have driven by this building so many times wondering how I could own it and make it into my dream I am dreaming about. It is empty now and has been that way for some time but somehow I want ownership of that building. Yet the fears of failing in a business venture are all too real.

For you see, I would remodel that building into a healing center complete with one of those rotating display lighted signs out by the road. My goal would be to offer my healing work (which is another part of myself I’m still coming to terms with). However, I would not offer my healing work at a price unless someone could truly afford it but I would offer it to those who I feel need it most that have absolutely no way to pay for these services. It would be a free based service to most while accepting donations to help sustain it. My hope would be to somehow get a grant for this. My heart longs to help those who are struggling like I am and need help, hope and a way forward even though they have no resources to do this.

As part of this healing center, there would be a big meeting room where book discussions of all kinds, or lectures from various healing modalities could come in. The meeting room would offer a way for people to share their talents through hands on type activities, relaxation ways including Yoga, Qi Gong, poetry readings, and musical sharing and just about anything one could dream up here to do. It would offer a place for other body workers to have trade days so they could share their work with each other and help renew themselves. Support groups and all kinds of experiential workshops would help fill this big meeting room.

Others doing healing work would fill the remainder of the healing center space offering them a way to rent space at a lower cost. This would include a psychiatrist/psychologist, a chiropractor or other health professional, acupuncturist, and all types of body workers. The rent generated by this would help to pay the overall operating costs of the place. It would provide for a wide variety of experiences and energy to come together and be part of something bigger. Each person that used this location would also be part of the experiences for the big meeting room giving many different events a home for this healing center.

While I know that you can’t always give the ship away and in order for anything to sustain itself, income has to come in, my hope is that some grant or lottery winnings or investment source could come along and pay for this. I have absolutely no money to even begin this process let alone have a clue where to begin. I could care less if I ever become wealthy but again, a modest income to help support basic functions in life is something that I desire. I am a very simple person and can live on a lot less than most people in life do.

So this is the shell around what I dream about. How this is accomplished, I don’t know. At this point, I am not even sure how to take the first step in making this a reality. I just want to create a place where those who have nothing can heal. There are too many out there that see healing as something beyond their comprehension and resources. I would like to remove that obstacle.

And for now, I’m committing this to paper in hopes that it connects with the resources of the universe to bring it into reality. Of course, I know that my own healing needs to progress in order to do this because right now, I struggle to find my own way forward in the midst of this stormy sea.

That is my hope and goal. That gives me hope.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Your Child Remembers


Note: This is an article that I stumbled across while doing some research and the author, Robin Grille, has given me permission to reprint this in the blog. It is excellent information and make sure you check his books and his website out.




WHAT YOUR CHILD REMEMBERS
New discoveries about early memory - and how it affects us

Most of us have been told at one time or another that children aren’t supposed to remember anything that happens to them before – roughly – the age of two. Emotionally painful experiences during infancy will therefore have no lasting impact. These words might have been reassuring, if they didn’t also imply that our infants don’t remember the love we have given them, and so our love at this time has no lasting impact either. As science continues to throw open the mysteries of the brain, and the nature of memory, this kind of advice will gradually vanish. Every emotionally meaningful experience - whether joyous or painful - is stored in memory and has a lasting impact on a baby’s developing nervous system. The way our world feels to us as babies influences our unfolding personality, emotionality and relating styles profoundly, for the long term. There are different kinds of ‘memory’, beyond the stories we can recount. And we ‘remember’ a lot more than we realise.

Within the limbic system of the brain - an area concerned with processing emotions - are the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala processes highly-charged emotional memories, such as terror and horror. The hippocampus processes narrative, chronological memory. The amygdala is mature at birth, so babies are able to feel a range of intense emotion, even though they cannot understand the content of the emotion and its relation to what is going on around them. The hippocampus on the other hand, does not mature until sometime between the second and fourth years. Until then, babies are relatively unable to organise memory meaningfully in terms of sequences of events. Only rarely does anybody consciously recall the events of infancy. However, the storage of the emotional content of memory is facilitated by the amygdala. We therefore remember every emotion and physical sensation from our earliest days, and even if we have no clarity about the events that took place, these memories imbue the way we relate to each other as adults.

Just as memory can be divided up into the dual categories of ‘Short Term’ and ‘Long Term’, there are also two qualities of memory: ‘Explicit’ and ‘Implicit’. The capacity for ‘explicit’ memory reaches full maturity at around three years of age. This is the kind of memory that is conscious and enables us to tell a story that makes sense of what happened. ‘Implicit’ memory is available from birth or earlier, it is unconscious, and is encoded in emotional, sensory and visceral recall. In other words, what we don’t remember with our minds, we remember with our bodies, with our hearts and our ‘guts’ – with lasting implications for our thinking, feeling, and behaviour.

The process of ‘forgetting’ is more superficial than we once thought: it only rubs out conscious recall. Even as adults we are mercifully capable of deleting any record of traumatic events. If we are unlucky enough to face a situations of panic or terror which we feel helpless to escape, the brain secretes endogenous opioids in order to numb us to overwhelming emotional or physical pain. These brain chemicals also interfere with the storage of explicit memory, though implicit memory of the trauma remains available. Experiences that are emotionally too overwhelming to deal with are stored somatically, as a body memory. Thereafter they are expressed as an unconscious response to stress. When we over-react to mildly stressful or even innocuous situations without knowing why, this might be the result of implicit, traumatic memories dating back to childhood or infancy.

The memory centres that govern narrative recall, emotional memory and body memory can operate independently of each other. Despite being in a coma, one man went into physiological anxiety states when exposed to a smell that was associated with a personal trauma. It is possible to have strong emotional reactions without conscious recall, even without consciousness! Another man whose damaged brain had lost all capacity for short term memory, still reacted aversively to specific doctors who had conducted unpleasant tests on him, without any recollection of having met them. A brain-damaged woman who had also totally lost her short term memory refused to shake the hand of a doctor who had earlier hidden a sharp pin in his hand. She was bewildered by her own refusal, since as far as she was aware, each time she met him was the first. So, much of what we think, feel and do is induced by implicit memories ‘written’ into muscle, sinew, fascia and viscera. Not one of our experiences is lost to us. Each experience, particularly those that are charged with emotion, adds to the complex mosaic of our personality.

Our brain has an amazing capacity to make associations. Something or someone that ‘reminds’ our brains of a traumatic situation - a smell, a song, a person that looks like someone from our past – triggers our automatic, self-protective ‘fight, flight or freeze’ responses. This reflexive reaction occurs too quickly; before the information reaches the cortex where it can be evaluated rationally. That is why we sometimes over-react to things, people or situations reminiscent of a traumatic event, without any conscious recollection of the event in question.

There are occasions when implicit memory can be made explicit. Since implicit memory is ‘stored’ in the body, repeating certain movements, gestures, breathing patterns, or assuming certain postures associated with highly-charged emotional memories can bounce these memories into explicit, conscious awareness. It is as if the body releases its secrets to the mind. Many individuals have been able to retrieve traumatic memories, both from adult and infant experiences, when induced by strong emotions associated with the original experience. In certain states of consciousness, in psychotherapy or meditation, people have spontaneously recalled things that happened to them as babies. Many have remembered how it felt to be a baby, howling for a mother who would not come. In reconstructing a particular body posture, or talking about a similar emotionally charged event, the contextual memories of unbearable longing, rage or terror come back into focus. It is equally possible for sweet, joyous memories of a parents’ loving face to resurface. This phenomenon is called ‘state-dependent memory retrieval’, and while it is not essential, it can bring healing under certain conditions.

But even if not consciously remembered, early memories show themselves indirectly through behaviour. It is intrinsically human to re-enact defensive reactions to forgotten traumas, though our reactions are no longer relevant. Often early memories become evident through persistent feelings that don’t seem to relate to a present situation, or through bodily sensations that don’t seem to make any sense. More commonly, these early memories of emotional pain or hurt are indirectly evident through persistent difficulties in relationships, particularly in intimate relations.

Implicit memory - or body memory - explains why, for instance, a woman who was molested as a child remains fearful of intimacy - at least with men that ‘remind’ her of the perpetrator – even without a trace of conscious memory of the traumatic episodes. A man fears being alone because it triggers an emotional memory of terror as he cried in the crib, and no-one came to comfort him. He has no recollection of the event, and all around him find him likeable and congenial. He has no understanding about his compulsive avoidance of solitude. Though successful and functional, many people can be avoidant, clingy, or perhaps insensitive in relationships. These are just some of the problems of relationship that have their roots in hurts we felt at the advent of life. To some extent, most of us suffer from some behavioural manifestations of painful implicit memories.

Unbeknownst to our ‘rational’ minds, we sometimes respond mistakenly to current challenges as if they were the hurts we suffered originally. This dynamic holds true in our relationships with our children. There are many reasons why, for instance, we might find our children’s expressions of need aversive and overwhelming. Here is a common scenario: when a baby screams, our bodies react the same way as when our parents screamed at us as children, we are neurologically conditioned to escape or push away, rather than to respond with spontaneous compassion. Alternatively, our baby’s cry might trigger in our bodies an implicit memory of a time when our own cries, as infants, were not met with a loving response. Either way, our baby’s cries evoke our own painful memory, and so we seek refuge. We are all biologically capable of a wellspring of spontaneously loving responses toward our children, and toward each other. Sometimes this love is blocked by automatic defensive reactions to unresolved, implicitly remembered hurts. We are not insensitive nor neglectful; we are wounded.

When a child is reprimanded, an image of the scolder’s looks of disapproval gets stored in the lateral tegmental limbic area of the brain. The growing child and adult judge their own behaviour through the lens of these stored inner representations, which are imprinted as images charged with feelings of shame. These inner visual and auditory records of the shamer usually – but not always - operate beneath conscious awareness. The experience of parents setting healthy boundaries literally grows the child’s orbitofrontal brain, whose purpose it is to contain and regulate raw emotion. But when the parent imposes limits, for some time following the symbiotic time of infancy, the toddler feels a degree of hurt and betrayal. This developmentally necessary change in the parent-child relationship is emotionally stressful. It is important that the parent soothe the toddler after imposing restrictions on him, to help him cope with his ‘shame-stress’. Reassurance of the parent’s love repairs the child’s wounded ‘self’ and restores his self-confidence. If parents diligently assist with their child’s shame–repair, he soon learns to take over, and based on his parents’ role modelling, repair his own shame when needed. Inner representations - stored as emotional and narrative memory in the brain - of a soothing and reassuring parent are used later in life as a template for shame-repair. This internal portrait of a reassuring adult is essential so that as an adult the individual won’t be disabled or overly inhibited by experiences of shame. Though this process is usually unconscious, it secures our ability to self-soothe, and to recover from shame when needed.

Psychological and social problems arise when a child grows up with too many images of a disapproving face stored in the brain centres that store implicit memory, without the subsequent images of a soothing and reassuring adult. A child that lacks these positive images, stored in his emotional memory centres, is at risk of slipping into depression, becoming overly inhibited, or defensively hostile.

From the earliest moments of life, parental nurturance shapes the child’s emotional make-up, literally altering the course of brain-growth. One of the key elements of secure parent-child attachment is affectionate eye-contact. A parent’s sustained, loving gaze and smile suffuses infants with indescribable joy. What ensues is a cascade of dopamine, endogenous opioids, enkephalins and endorphins in the baby’s brain - all feel-good chemicals associated with loving relations. This joy-precipitated surge of brain chemicals promotes the maturation of precise regions of the cortex, which are concerned with healthy regulation of emotion later in life. Every baby requires this kind of nourishing experience regularly and frequently, for healthy brain development.

By the end of the first year, the infant has stored an internal representation of her mother’s loving face in the area connecting the anterior temporal and the orbitofrontal cortices. These images, though rarely consciously remembered, form the basis for an internal working model of relationships. It is as if the child has filed a video-clip of her mother in her brain’s ‘hard-disk’. Henceforth, these inner representations will animate her core emotional responses, forming the basis of her fundamental relationship style. When she feels her emotional needs are consistently attended to, this engenders in the child an enduring expectation of a supportive world. This attitude is pervasive and unconscious, and it inclines the child toward friendly and considerate behaviour.

Just as we might not remember learning to walk, yet our legs and feet seem to play their parts perfectly, some of our most pivotal lessons in human relations were learnt at a time that our bodies, but not our minds, can remember. The greatest gift in these discoveries is the knowledge that every loving moment we share with our children, from the very beginning, will stay with them for life.



Robin Grille is a Sydney-based psychologist, and author of: Parenting for a Peaceful World (Longueville Media, 2005) and: Heart to Heart Parenting
(US edition, LifeTime Media, due in April 2010).
For more information see: www.our-emotional-health.com


References

Damasio, Antonio (2000) ‘The Feeling of What Happens – Body, Emotion, and the Making of Consciousness’. Vintage.

De Bellis M, et al (1999) ‘Developmental Traumatology Part II’. Biological Psychiatry Vol 45, pp. 1271-1284.

Patten-Hitt, Emma (2000) ‘Childhood Abuse Changes the Developing Brain’. Cerebrum, Fall 2000, pp. 50-67.

Perry B.D., Pollard R.A., Blakley T.L., Baker W.L. and Vigilante D., (1995) ‘Childhood Trauma, the Neurobiology of Adaptation, and Use-Dependent Development of the Brain: How States Become Traits’. Infant Mental Health Journal Vol 16(4), pp. 271-291.

Perry, B. D. (1997) ‘Incubated in Terror: Neurodevelopmental Factors in the Cycle of Violence’. In: Osofsky JD ‘Children in a Violent Society’. The Guilford Press.

Perry, B. D. (1999) ‘Memories of Fear: How the Brain Stores and Retrieves Physiologic States’. In: Goodwin J. and Attias R., ‘Splintered Reflections: Images of the Body in Trauma’. Basic Books.

Rothschild, Babette (2000) ‘The Body Remembers – The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment’. WW Norton & Co.

Schore, Allan (1994) ‘Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self: The Neurobiology of Emotional Development’. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. NJ.

Teicher, Martin H (2002) ‘The Neurobiology of Child Abuse’. Scientific American, March 2002, pp. 68-75.

Van der Kolk, Bessel (1994) ‘The Body Keeps the Score: Memory and the Evolving Psychobiology of Posttraumatic Stress’. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, Vol 1, pp. 253-265.