Sunday, February 9, 2020

Unconditional

In the realm of the book world, my apartment complex manager mentioned to me about three weeks ago that our little community room library had too many books. In the meantime, I had been going to the Senior Center (Multipurpose Center) on Tuesdays for a class on Powerful Tools for Caregivers.

In my natural want-to-help way, I suggested she save small boxes to pack them in and ask someone to take them to various places... the Mission, the local library, the Salvation Army, etc. Then I decided I could fill a small box tote I had for transporting things on my mobility scooter to take with me to the Center Thrift Store along with other items I wanted to donate.

Two weeks ago, I brought the box tote to the community room to fill up. Have you ever had a book jump out at you and call your attention? I don't remember this happening to me since 2010. I spotted the title Unconditional, was intrigued by the cover and back cover description, and took it home to read. It is based on the motion picture with the same title. Remember, I rarely read fiction these days. I was in for a real tear-jerker. Perhaps it was a good time to do some crying. This last week's class for Caregivers was about emotions and what happens when you hold them in. One can erupt like a volcano.

As I read the book, cleansing tears washed over me. I found numerous synchronicities to situations I had dealt with in my own life... and the numerous times just when I believed the worst, an obvious divine presence showed up to intercede.

The story begins with a woman named Samantha, Sam for short. She is young, married to her first love, and living on a wonderful ranch that his parents gave to them. I must include here that the author writes what I can only describe as artistically and poetically. I was immediately captured by her writing.

My first burst of tears erupted with the compassion I felt toward her grief when her perfect life is shattered by the murder of her husband in a dark alley of a bad neighborhood where he went to repair lights that were out. No, I didn't have a husband who was murdered. But many relationships and marriages had died. Similar grief. It was about the obvious presence of the divine when three years later, as Sam was about to pull the trigger to end her own life in the same place her husband had been murdered, the final moment is interrupted by a child yelling because his little sister had been hit by a car.

In addition to tears of sadness and compassion, I kept bursting into tears about the divine interventions weaved into the story. I knew there was no coincidence that the children were out there during a time she was intending to end her life. I never actually followed through with ending my own life during two periods of despair. I was just obsessed with suicidal thoughts. Memories of these situations rose while I was reading about someone else's experience. (Read my post about Talking Myself Out of Suicide.) I didn't go as far as Sam did with putting a gun to her head.

In the story, Sam comes out of her daze and rushes the two children off to a hospital where the unconscious child could be treated... and hopefully saved. At the hospital, a man shows up regarding the children... a man she hadn't seen since grade school... a man who had been her very best friend. I was sad at that point about not having any childhood best friends. Then I kept reading.

Joe was the only one on the planet who could pull her out of her grief. What an incredible synchronicity that the same children who were in the alley were connected to this man. I recalled the time I had shouted to God: "If you want me to go" (to my son's wedding in California), "send someone to help me and give me a reason to come back!" followed by meeting a man who succeeded in pulling me out of my personal despair.

The story has one arc after another, expertly interweaved like a suspense novel with none of the characters knowing what the other had been going through until the end of it all. It's a murder mystery (Who murdered Sam's husband?), riveted with suspense (Will Sam commit suicide? Will Joe die?), a love story, and contains many beautiful miracles.

In one scene, Joe tells Sam how he ended up in prison for doing something on a dare. He gets into an altercation which results in 40 days of solitary confinement. Sam later reveals to him her self-imposed solitary confinement during the previous three years of despair. I paused while remembering when I lived in the trailer park in Bakersfield and the day I found out it was filled with ex-convicts and drug addicts. In my innocence, I befriended Blondie (not her real name)... a woman who told me about the people who lived in the park and the 20 years in prison she did which included solitary confinement. She had given me the book We're All Doing Time to read, and I had realized I had been in prison, too, just one without bars.

Sam's husband's parents had given them their ranch when they moved to a warmer area. In the midst of her grief, she couldn't appreciate all that she had. I remember during years of depression, I could not appreciate what I had, either, compared to life in third world countries and slums. Sam gets involved with all the underprivileged children Joe had taken under his wing who nearly always were happy despite their circumstances, and suddenly she realizes she had been discounting the positive (one of many cognitive distortions I discovered I had).

Sam had been writing a children's book ever since she and Joe were in grade school, including drawing the illustrations. After her husband was murdered, she abandoned the dream. All her drawings lived in a room she couldn't bear to enter. I wondered if I had abandoned any particular dreams. Yes, one of many topics I've contemplated on, is what I may have dreamed as a child I would do when I grow up. Interweaved in this amazing book are the bits, pieces, and synchronicities of how Sam's inspiration comes back, including the discovery of finding all the drawings that child she saved had been doing...  just as she had done when she was a child.

Sam forgets about her grief by becoming actively involved with caring for the children. When she realizes how blessed she is with having the ranch, she invites them all out there for a weekend... realizing she had just found a purpose in life. I reminisced about how Nancy with Reaching Beyond Words had walked into my life in January 2018 with the desire to get children's stories she wrote published. I had asked God what I was to do next after becoming wheelchair dependent and letting go of two stressful volunteer jobs. Months later, Nancy had texted me if I knew any bookkeepers which led to my volunteering as theirs. Both organizations are doing similar things. Perhaps my future includes underprivileged children?

Sam is absolutely sure the man who lives in the projects next to the two children she had rescued that day in the alley was the man who murdered her husband. This scene is one of many that reveals a surprising conclusion toward the end. I reminisced at the number of times I had been sure of certain things in my life which turned out to be false conclusions (another cognitive distortion I had).

The book I had read just before this one was Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette. I feel certain Unconditional was meant to find me. I've been logging every synchronicity I notice in a journal... and the number has been mounting.

Earlier in the week, I dreamed a woman I had met in Toastmasters (moved away) came to visit with two small children. (There were two small children in Unconditional, too.) Sonia wrote that many times, guides will urge you to call someone who needs support. She remained on my mind the entire day, so that night, I called her. She surprised me with the question, "Why did you call?" Odd question, I thought. I told her about the book I read, the dream I had, and my urge to call. In case one of her guides urged me, I decided to follow through. It turned out she had been thinking about me as well as a book project she was still struggling with. I thought about Sam in Unconditional.

One of the many things I think about is this blog. I never know what I will write about next or when I will write it. I tell myself not to worry about it. When it is time, the divine will whisper the topic to me, and my fingers will write it. This is one of them.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Contraction and Expansion


These words came to me while I was in the midst of a recent bout of sadness which often happens when I feel fatigued along with spending too much time alone. True to the words, I realized I have almost always experienced creative inspiration (such as this one) after what I figured out feels like the labor of contraction (fatigue, grief, depression). The contractions were necessary when it came time to deliver my son 36 years ago... an unforgettable event in which I experienced unconditional love for the first time I could ever remember. It is an example of the contrast that exists in our lives here on Earth. If I can adopt the belief that every bout of sadness opens space for a divine message, I could meditate in the quiet and wait for the message... which I will write about and share.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sabbatical


Here it is the year 2020. In the midst of thoughts of feeling sad… homesick... and missing the relationship I had with my son when he was young… the word sabbatical was telepathically whispered into my ears. Sabbatical? I am reading Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette, and it seems more than coincidental that I got this message.

What if I could view my time in Texas as an extended sabbatical for the purpose of recreating myself? Because I’ve stayed in one place now longer than ever before (8 years in the same apartment complex, 4 years in my current unit), I feel content with a touch of homesick. While I miss seeing my mom, siblings, son, granddaughter, and all the places I used to go, time away allowed me to leave behind parts of myself that were not healthy. The feeling of emptiness when this happens can be unbearable. I must admit that time brought with it a maturity I didn’t know was possible... even though I can still sense more is coming.

I like the sound of sabbatical. It feels like there is a purpose to it.

I drove 1,500 miles to Texas with just what fit in the back of my GMC Sonoma with a camper shell at the end of 2006… to run away from everything that hurt, only to encounter more things that hurt. Feeling beat up and battered, I had not thought of myself as a warrior princess... which may have made a huge difference in how I dealt with my circumstances. 

Lately, I've been watching some Studio Ghibli warrior princess movies as well as The Shannara Chronicles with young female warriors. What if I could be as strong as they are? I even felt the thrill of playing my first video game in which I chose a princess who wore a long pink gown. I experienced a healing thrill as I pressed the buttons on the console which made her punch and kick her enemies. When the enemy knocked her off, she came back to life again to fight another battle. She was INVINCIBLE.

One of many definitions of sabbatical I found is: “The purpose of the sabbatical leave is to provide faculty members with an opportunity for further professional growth and development so that they may serve more effectively on their campuses and in their field of specialization.” It can also be a break from some type of career. I even read a book about a housewife who took a year sabbatical from her marriage.

After reading What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson, the wheels began to turn in my mind with possibility. What many people end up doing with their life is nothing like what they set out to do. You can have a Ph.D. and choose to become a farmer.

Mmmm. Faculty members. I could think of myself as a professor with a Ph.D., couldn’t I? I hadn’t seen moving here as an opportunity for further professional growth and development because I haven't been employed, but what if I could see it as one? After all, I've learned quite a bit in various volunteer roles since I moved here, adding them to my resume. I could view my campus as the town I now reside in along with the internet. As for a field of specialization, as I self-educate on the topics I’ve become interested in, I feel like at some point a common ‘specialization’ will emerge. I read many stories about this in Po's book.

Granted I’ve been gone for going on 14 years now, even though I was able to make a few trips back to visit over the years. Somehow the idea of sabbatical feels important and less permanent. Perhaps I can make up and even print some certificates for additional college-level degrees to stroke my ego. Since that time, I have:
  • endured and survived quite a few more life challenges.
  • taught myself how to format and self-publish my own books… and completed about 15 of my own plus some for other authors.
  • created two websites, one with a blog, and wrote a lot of blog posts… and even created websites for others.
  • learned how to produce my own songs at home.
  • volunteered for multiple non-profits as a bookkeeper, treasurer, secretary, and more.
  • learned about CBT, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other matters pertaining to the mind.
  • learned a lot about holistic health and ways to improve my own.
  • learned about alternative treatments for chronic pain.
  • read a lot of books and internet articles.
  • participated in a number of local educational programs.
  • accumulated a lot of personal possessions along with giving some away.
And this last year, I have:
  • endured and survived more life challenges and made it to the age of 64.
  • made some new friends.
  • experienced a surge of abundance.
  • received the therapies and services I desperately needed.
  • realized that resentment was still lingering and holding me back.
  • watched a lot of inspiring movies.
Another aspect of sabbatical can be applied to the times in between going out into the world and days of hibernation. I could view my apartment being located anywhere in the world, couldn't I? A cabin in the mountains. A chateau on the ocean. A suite at a resort. A 42-foot motor home in a trailer park by a lake. France. Italy. Germany. One of the many beautiful places on our planet.

Some people go to another country for a year or more for such a sabbatical. I feel like I live in another country here in Central Texas vs. either east or west coasts. The distance to the closest family member feels like I'm in another country, too. It would be nice if I could astral travel to wherever I wanted to go, just show up, no need to pack anything, and forget about all past feelings of abandonment and the resulting resentment because none of them could come to visit me. In the meantime, the above list can remind me of how much I have accomplished even though I kept getting lost along the way. I wonder what 2020 will bring.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Talking Myself Out of Suicide

Don't be alarmed... I am out of the woods. What I'd like to write about is the turning point when I stopped thinking about death as a way out of pain and despair.

For a brief recap, I've had suicidal urges twice. When I was 43, the pain in my body became so overwhelming, I could no longer work. I had no one who could take care of me, and I lost all hope. I was a single mom of a teenage boy. How would I support him? In addition to the usual amount of depression I endured, I decided I couldn't live with intense muscular-skeletal pain, and my son was independent and could survive without me.

I never got as far as figuring out how I would end my life. I just had a death wish. The new pain management doctor I found nipped this in the bud with a cocktail of medication. The trouble was, without a sense of purpose besides being a patient to my doctors, and without meaningful relationships which I lacked the skills to develop, I lost the will to live on this planet in a physical body. Medication could not provide those for me. They only sedated me, further separating me from the people I wanted to be in relationship with.

In 2011, the year after I stopped taking 11 medications cold turkey, I began to accept medication again. After swallowing the first Cymbalta tablet, I disassociated and became suicidal in addition to everything else. All I could think about was walking up to the road at night and getting hit by a truck. (I was able to walk at the time.) The only thing that stopped me was the possibility I might survive and be in worse pain than I already was.

With bouts of depression consuming huge chunks of my life with no access to adequate counseling or solutions along with relentless chronic pain, I began a personal quest for solutions of my own in 2013, once I became aware there was another way of BEing.

I could not forget how I felt during the three-month manic high I experienced in 2010, when I felt no pain, could walk, enjoyed going to social events, and saw a vision of the amazing life I could have... one that provided me with PURPOSE. I could not forget the spiritual voice that telepathically told me to use the talents I was blessed with, and I've been writing about what I discover ever since. I also could not forget the experience I had when I totaled my GMC Sonoma (more below).

That rare and only manic high I experienced included a huge vision that dissipated after a few months and hasn't returned. In my big dream mind, I was going to be a famous (well-known) author who traveled, got paid to speak, met other famous people like Louise Hay and Greg Braden, had the ability to donate to many different charity foundations, and was a catalyst for enriching the lives of many people. The vision also included meeting famous singers who wanted to sing the songs I wrote. I yearned to do much more in making a difference on the planet.

Stress, depression, pain, and fatigue put the breaks on. Losing my ability to walk again did, too. Lack of adequate transportation didn't help, so I became isolated. As time went by, I withdrew into myself and developed phobias of the outside world.

In the meantime, because I am a perfectionist and have unrealistic expectations, I've been hard on myself for being a 'slow learner.' I have at my fingertips a wealth of knowledge to absorb via the internet and all the books I read and have read... all of which I can do from the comfort of home. Perhaps there is an alternative vision I am to pursue. What will I do with all this knowledge besides blogging about it?

In 2014, I found the book, God Is A Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism. What I still remember in this book is the part about our purpose: RAISE HOLY SPARKS... in any way we can. Even one person can do this. Even me. Even from bed. But how?

Meditation.

In 2015, I found Dr. David Burns' book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy which gave me an introduction to psychology with the ten cognitive distortions. I learned how to challenge my thoughts once I became aware of them and reframe, but it didn't help with pain, fatigue, and the limitations I was faced with. Maybe there would be something I could do that didn't require as much energy.

Meditation.

At some point I realized I had guardian angels who were keeping me alive... so I concluded I must have a purpose for being here. But what? Religion didn't give me reasons to be here... and most described heaven as the place I'd rather be. No amount of medication alleviated the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain I was suffering from. No amount of medication alleviated the isolation and loss of purpose when I spent most of my life in bed.

In 2018, I came across the book, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers. I found a new friend who was experiencing what I had been experiencing. She had learned Buddhist principles which helped her deal with her challenges. I learned more about acceptance and surrendering through...

Meditation.

(By the way, I resisted meditating in case you haven't figured that out yet. I only did relaxation exercises to fall asleep at night and fall back to sleep when I woke up in the middle of the night.)

When I found videos on YouTube by Abraham-Hicks, followed by reading two of their books, I came across this reason for being here:

"It is with clear and deliberate intent that you decide to project Consciousness into this time-space reality--and it is with great enthusiasm that you come forth into these bodies. You are filled with eager anticipation for a number of reasons: (including) You are a master creator, and you know it. You like the experience of creating. You know that this is an environment with a tremendous variety of interesting components. You enjoy the sensation of a fresh new desire. You know that is is through your interaction with contrast and variety that your own desires will be formulated."

I must admit, I do enjoy creating and how it feels when I manage to complete something. And every so often, I experience creative explosions. Words such as clear and deliberate intent; with great enthusiasm; eager anticipation; master creator; tremendous variety of interesting components; enjoying the sensation of a fresh new desire all resonated true for me. There was also the part that because of these reasons, if we commit suicide, we will just choose to come right back again. Sigh.

If I'm going to come right back again after I die, I might as well study, learn, and evolve as much as I possibly can, so when I DO come back, I don't have to start in the same place I am now, or worse, all over again from scratch. Even if reincarnation isn't real, I'm not going to take a chance.

Making this decision was followed by new books, new courses, more videos, meeting new people, and taking on new uplifting volunteer assignments I can do from home at my own pace... so I can continue to feel like I can make a difference in small ways between creating.

I completed the iRest Yoga Nidra program which includes...

Meditation.

It alerted me to the disconnect I still have between my body and my emotions. The task of differentiating the difference between feelings and emotions... and coming up with its opposite has me feeling like I am trying to learn physics. I wanted to reach beyond the examples listed in the workbook. I still don't get it. I sense this concept is a key to cut through the anxiety I experience... so I am determined to figure out what it is. But I couldn't figure out the difference between a feeling and an emotion, so I Googled it. I found:


So far, the explanation is just words. Between iRest and this article, I got that feelings are created by the senses; learned behaviors that are usually in hibernation until triggered by an external event. Emotions are physically measurable, physically-based reactions (like when my pulse starts racing, and I am so anxious I can't think straight). 

"An emotion is a physiological experience (or state of awareness) that gives you information about the world, and a feeling is your conscious awareness of the emotion itself."

"Many people are honestly unaware that they're having an emotion. For them, the emotion and the consciousness of it are not strongly connected, and they don't even realize that they're fearful, or angry, or depressed. Their emotional state has to become so persistent that it drags them into a severe mood, and then they can realize, 'Oh, I guess I've been really sad about...'"

I downloaded Your Emotional Vocabulary List from this site. You experience the emotion first, then determine what feelings are involved (naming), and act on the information the emotion provides. 

Intrigued? Read the rest of the article.

I suspect this is the missing link for me as I would just get overwhelmed with the emotion and haven't been able to 'name' the feelings involved in order to act on the information the emotion provides, never mind identify where in my body I feel it.

Like a treasure hunter, I 'felt' the anticipation of stumbling on a new clue to what to seek next. My goal is to name what comes up for the sake of information vs. shutting down (with overwhelm, illness, and adrenal fatigue). I've only listed the ones I identify on the list pertaining to Depression and Suicidal Urges: 

Soft Depression and Suicidal Urges: Apathetic; Depressed; Discouraged; Disinterested; Feeling Worthless; Helpless; Isolated; Purposeless; Withdrawn
Medium (or Mood-State) Depression and Suicidal Urges: Desolate; Empty; Hopeless; Miserable; Overwhelmed
Intense Suicidal Urges: Anguished; Bleak; Devastated; Suicidal

Noted at the end of this section: "If you can learn to catch your suicidal urges when they're in the soft state, you can often stop yourself from falling into the pit of anguish. In the territory of the suicidal urge, your capacity for emotional awareness and sensitivity can literally save your life!"

In the meantime, I've been reading, Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience. I don't think I've had any NDEs as defined in books of when you remember leaving your body when you die and see what is going on from the ceiling... such as when a surgery goes wrong... or you've been a car accident... or suffer a fatal heart attack... followed by a decision you make to come back after you're told by a divine being it is not your time. I wondered if I could have been close to dying during one of many apnea episodes... or one of several surgeries I've had. 

While reading about NDEs, I thought about the trip to somewhere I went to when I totaled my GMC Sonoma in 2008. At the time of the accident, I was depressed as well as lethargic due to being over-medicated. There was the block of time that disappeared while I went from being in motion on the road to resting in the ravine. When the truck came to a full stop, everything in it came flying at me... and I was filled with a sense of awe, surprise, and joy. I felt like I had gone somewhere in another dimension... I felt like I was told everything would be OK. If I had a life review, I felt like I had seen an amazing future. The truck was totaled, but I didn't even get a scratch. Was this some type of NDE? If so, why can't I remember where I went? What I do know is I didn't lose consciousness... at least the physical kind. 

After writing this draft, I continued to read more of the book. Something told me I might find an explanation in one of the next chapters. There on page 229, I found what I needed to read:

"It is important to realize, however, that the healing balm of the Light is available not just to NDErs, of course, but to anyone who finds him or herself in a deep spiritual crisis or on the verge of suicide. In my years of researching NDEs, I have in fact heard from many persons who, though they clearly were not physically near death, nevertheless had a kind of NDE, which in its properties and effects was indistinguishable from those that are triggered by an actual condition in which one's life is at risk. Thus, the Light seems to come to those who need it, regardless of the individual's physical state."

Then this in a letter the author received... "My experience happened at a time in my life when I wanted to die."

Bingo. At the time of the accident, I did. But unlike the time before, this time something magical happened. I wish I knew where I went.

I believe I have learned enough with all my studying to keep myself out of getting suicide urges again in the future. In the meantime, what if my life purpose is merely to learn how to be HUMAN? 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Haunted

About two weeks ago, I felt haunted... by the spirits, emotions, and voices of many children tugging on my invisible sleeves. The sensation began to overwhelm me. 

In the meantime, I continued to do the work of recovering from past trauma, wrote about the discovery of parts, and did an iRest Yoga Nidra program for two months. The meditations were different than other meditations I had done. 

Based on Buddhist principles, everything in life--both joy and sorrow--are impermanent. The goal is to refrain from getting attached to either one... and stop the cycle of making up stories about your experiences. In the practice, you identify feelings, emotions, beliefs, and images along with their opposite, somehow feel each one, then merge these opposites together while meditating. 

The spirits and voices of these children got louder. In a moment of exasperation, I asked them how many they were... and felt the answer of 9. OK. I asked how old they were... and felt the answer of 5. Five is a good age. I have a photo of myself when I was 5 on my bedside table. I asked if any of them had died... and felt the answer of 4. How sad.

Suddenly, I felt the urge to take down the box of little dolls and other doll-house size objects I had been saving for my grand-daughter... and for my inner child. I counted them out... and found I had exactly 9 of them! 

My intention was for each doll to represent one of the feelings (or emotions) I had suppressed, to allow them the freedom to express themselves... and to find a way to love and accept them. I could pretend I was in charge of a class of kindergarteners. 

 And yet... I even wondered if it was possible these 9 dolls simply wanted out of their box.


They are now sitting in a circle in a red plastic open-top container facing each other with a little cat in the middle.

It amazes me how much better I felt after I did this. With all my inner children out of their box, free to BE with both joy and sadness and a cat to play with, all is well. When something comes up from the deep abyss, I look and ask who is upset and what they need to feel better.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Let-Down Effect and Expansion

Last week, I experienced another adrenaline rush followed by what I learned is called The Let-Down Effect. On my way home from an iRest Yoga Nidra meditation held in the building that was previously the fire station, I encountered a pole extending across the side-walk while I was riding my mobility scooter... didn't see it until it was in front of my face... barely stopped in time. Two days later, I decided to call the fire department to report the hazard as it had been their building. I was told the new owner would be contacted.

As soon as I hung up from this call, my heart began racing and fireworks of shooting spasm-like pain started in my lower back and shot all the way up to my neck. BREATHE. BREATHE. You know what this is now. It's adrenaline letdown. It will pass. BREATHE. At least this time, I didn't get the exhaustion followed by getting sick.

Once it subsided, I Googled "remedies for adrenaline letdown" and found this article. (Click on the link to read more.) The Let-down Effect.

"It's long been known that stress can lead to illness but only recently has evidence emerged that some people tend to get sick after a pressure-packed period has ended." "During acute stress, the body releases key hormones – including glucocorticoids (like cortisol), catecholamines (like norepinephrine) and adrenaline – to prepare itself to fight or flee from danger and to trigger the immune system to step up certain types of surveillance. In the process, "glucocorticoids can reactivate latent viral infections such as herpes simplex 1 [which causes cold sores] and Epstein-Barr virus [which can trigger fatigue, fever, sore throat and swollen glands], for which symptoms are only obvious after a few days,"...

The Let-Down Effect explains why I have gotten sick after stressful situations occur!

Since my last post about 'parts,' my quest brought more results to add to my collection.

I had Barbara Ann Brennan's two books: Hands of Light and Light Emerging on my bookshelf. They caught my attention when I was looking for the next thing to read while peddling on my recumbent bike (30 minutes at a time). For me, reading and digesting what I read can be miles apart, but even if I get just one thing out of it, that one thing is more than I had before. Thirty minutes of reading this material is all I can handle at one time. I finished Hands of Light and opened Light Emerging.

Meanwhile, I had purchased the book Transforming Anxiety: The HeartMath Solution for Overcoming Fear and Worry and Creating Serenity. HeartMath was one of many therapies suggested in the book The Body Keeps The Score, and I wanted to learn more about what this was. In addition to a book I read (reeeed) while cycling, I always keep a book to read by my bed. (The rest of the time, I read stuff on the internet.)

"HeartMath technology is an innovative approach to improving emotional wellbeing. Learn to change your heart rhythm pattern to create physiological coherence; a scientifically measurable state characterized by increased order and harmony in our mind, emotions, and body." You can read more on heartmath.com.

I'm still reading the book. So far, I've learned about something called 'overcare' (caring too much) which results in anxiety. There are exercises and meditations to do to become AWARE of thoughts, feelings, and the stories you tell yourself about your experiences. Trauma often affects heart rhythms, and HeartMath relates to becoming aware of your heart rhythm and 'regulating' it consciously through meditation. I must have over a dozen recorded meditations so far... and can't decide which one to listen to. Sigh...

Meanwhile, someone I knew from past involvement in a writer's group contacted me about iRest Yoga Nidra. He was doing a series of four classes in my town and thought I'd be interested. YES. Especially when I learned it was a method of trauma therapy. He also provided me with a link for a four-week clinical study on iRest Yoga Nidra. I applied and was accepted into a program for aging adults. I couldn't wait to find out how to alleviate my anxiety about getting older... getting older with chronic pain. There are four videos to watch, a study guide to download, and homework to do.

In iRest, one must identify feelings and emotions AND THEIR OPPOSITES. Decide on your heartfelt desire (????), set an intention (????), and find your inner resource (????). In meditation, you go back and forth between the feelings and emotions you came up with. The goal is to sense where in the body you feel them and cease reacting to any of them... to make it all neutral. Even be OK with PAIN. We get to choose two sets of opposites in each category.


Information overload... frustration... I must figure this all out... and my brain tells me, "I feel so stupid," because I can't make the connections I'm supposed to in all of this... then I remember that this is the point of the course... to learn HOW... and now I have a negative emotion I can use in this exercise. Feeling stupid.

I'm used to doing things like this in a group where I can hear what everyone else is doing and get ideas. I could take a break and MEDITATE... and listen to what comes up... but I'm too wired to do that... the whole point of meditation is to SLOW DOWN.

In addition to Jay Shetty (found him on Facebook), who used to be a Buddhist Monk, in this iRest program, I now meet Michael Sapiro, PsyD, who also used to be a Buddhist Monk. I remembered how years ago, after meeting a woman who was studying material (can't remember exactly what) with a group who met at an Eastern Medicine doctor's house.

Meanwhile, one of the pages or friends I have on Facebook posted something by Michael Cupo. Michael wrote It's Monday in Your Mind: You Are Not Your Thoughts. I read some of the pages from Look inside on Amazon and also explored his website. He was teaching the same concept.

And meanwhile, I came across posts from Byron Katie: A Mind At Home With Yourself. I read some Look inside pages from her book on Amazon and explored her website. She was teaching this concept, too.

In 2008, I totaled my GMC Sonoma. When the truck came to rest in the ravine, everything in it came flying at me. I feel like all this information is flying at me in the same way. But the message began to get clear. One must develop the ability to observe all they experience without reacting to any of it... no matter how good it is or horrible.

Can someone like me... who can be an emotional rollercoaster... from excitement to despair and back up again... learn how to do this? Do I want to? I was just getting the gist of raising my vibration by focusing on pleasure with all of my senses... and pushing out everything else. But according to all this other material, doing so causes RESISTANCE. And resistance contributes to anxiety. Even Teal Swan teaches this.

It feels like a vicious circle. I have anxiety just thinking about the process. All the feelings and emotions have minds of their own. There are DOZENS of them. Each lives in their own little compartment. They don't even know how to be friends. All I feel is the result of resisting them when more than one decides to surface and declare war on my field (my physical body)... which contributes to anxiety. But in order to conquer the anxiety, I must be able to identify and feel where in my body each of the feelings and emotions reside.

Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

I'm waiting for all this information to CLICK. Assimilation. It did for all the teachers who are now teaching this stuff. I know because I read their bios. Each and every one of them started out with one situation or another that resulted in trauma, anxiety, and/or depression. They found a program that helped them and are now teaching. Some have expanded the program they found into one of their own.

Maybe it is like a murder mystery... and requires an investigation... after all... I did attempt to murder my other 'parts' (read the previous blog post) when I suppressed them.

I feel like I am being followed... by a stalker... by many stalkers... parts of myself I abandoned a long time ago. Maybe I feel threatened because I have been stalked by a human stalker in the past and my brain is mixing them up.

Maybe I resist studying... and if I change the task to doing an investigation, I will enjoy it more.

I want to feel safe inside my body. I don't remember when I decided I wasn't. I want the courage to face the other parts of me that threaten my peace of mind. Perhaps these other parts have the answers I seek... I'm sure they do... but there are so MANY other parts! And I haven't learned how to listen to only one at a time... yet...

I'm good at staying busy and distracting myself... and many others do the same. We are human BEings. But very few people want to just BE. Mmmmmm. Perhaps that bee that hovered around me (I wrote a post about it) had this message for me, too. BE.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Parts: Internal Family Systems

The journey of self-discovery continues after I read the book: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. This book was recommended to me by Frankie Perez of Frankie Perez's Mindgym after I commented on one of his Facebook posts regarding trauma recovery. Bessel includes information about many different therapies... including IFS... Internal Family Systems... the PARTS of us that as a whole makes us human.

As a seeker, I feel there is still much more to learn about myself and how my mind works. In understanding more about myself, I can understand more about other people, including family, which opens up my world as I realize their behaviors are/were never about me. As a seeker, intense curiosity rules. I am forever surprised at how much more there is to learn.

What if?

What if I have the potential to discover much more than what I already know? Can I stop comparing myself to others? If I could go back in time, would I have continued my formal education? Would getting a masters and doctorate degrees have made a difference? Would I still feel intimidated by people who have "Dr." in front of their name?

I often felt 'split' depending on who I was with and what was going on in my life. I've felt the bliss of being in love with either a person, a cat, an idea, a song, a book, a piece of art, and more. I've also felt the depth of despair and hopelessness... when I completely disassociated. Among other things, I've come to know I am an introvert with some extravert characteristics. I've come to know my 5-year-old still lives inside of me... both the happy girl and the frightened one.

When I read about humans being made up of PARTS, I sighed with relief. While I like the idea of being a mystery, I feel much more comfortable when I understand what is going on.

Yes, I know about arms, legs, eyes, ears, and all the internal organs as parts. I learned about the different parts of the brain. I fell in love with the term "Amygdala Hijack." The amygdala stores the emotions, and when you feel out of control, it is the amygdala that hijacks you, so you can't think clearly.

I've been learning about how various parts of the brain store different parts of memories. In the case of severe trauma, the reason we can't remember exactly what happened is the memory splits up into different parts of the brain. With the right types of therapies (vs. drugs), the fragmented parts become integrated, and a coherent story begins to form. Then with further steps, the brain can be trained that what happened took place in the past vs. memory hijacking you back into the past resulting in symptoms such as a racing heart, panic, anxiety, and more.

With each growing stage of my life: infant, toddler, grade-schooler, middle-schooler, teenager, high schooler, adult, and every role I've played, I often felt like I was different people. Hormones got their way with me as well as depressive episodes.

Parts? Yes, parts. "The mind is a mosaic. We all have parts." Now my intense curiosity leads me to investigate these parts and become familiar with them. "The mind is made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities, each with its own viewpoint and qualities." "Parts are not just feelings but distinct ways of being, with their own beliefs, agendas, and roles in the overall ecology of our lives." "Each split-off part holds different memories, beliefs, and physical sensations."

Parts include the manager, the firefighter, and the exiles.

Who is the manager? What characteristics does she have? The manager's job is to "prevent humiliation and abandonment and to keep her organized and safe." The manager part was (and still is) competent, held responsible positions, and produces quality work... all while doing an outstanding job at sending all the other parts into exile. The manager told me to grin and bear it because no one wanted to hear about my pain. If I did talk about it and felt the discomfort of the listener, there was embarrassment and shame as well as feeling invisible. The parts I sent into exile were, indeed, invisible... until an amygdala hijack brought them out from hiding.

But it wasn't just me. "It emerged that, as children, nearly all of them were supposed to be seen and not heard--safety meant keeping their needs under wraps."

Who are the exiles? "Exiles are the toxic waste dump of the system. Because they hold the memories, sensations, beliefs, and emotions associated with trauma, it is hazardous to release them." "When exiles overwhelm managers, they take us over--we are nothing but that rejected, weak, unloved, and abandoned child."

I love reading the description that shines a light on all of the unidentified suppressed confusion in my mind and emotions.

Are there any other exiles beside the happy child and the frightened one? How can I retrieve the happy child? Why did I exile her? How can I retrieve more happy memories and FEEL the happiness of those experiences? I'm sure in reality there were many happy moments, yet in one of many cognitive distortions, I discounted the positive and dwelled on the few negative experiences.

Why did I make that decision? Why does ONE demeaning statement take control of your entire life? Why does witnessing ONE act of violence do the same thing? Who is the critic I also sent into exile who is quick to judge both herself and others... and then get overwhelmed by guilt when she realizes she was thinking a critical thought?

Who is the firefighter? What does she do when a threat appears? How does she react? Is she really putting out the fire or building a tomb?

Who is my true Self: the Self that is confident, curious, and calm? The one writing this post? How do I make friends with the 5-year-old, the 9-year old, the 13-year-old, and the 17-year-old who demand attention when I want to read yet another book about recovering from past traumatic experiences that are programmed into my nervous system and feels like dead weight keeping me from going where I want to go?

Where, exactly, DO I want to go? Once I figure myself out, then what?

True Self knows the thrill of life is NOT always knowing where you are going... and take one day at a time. But... the 5, 9, 13, and 17-year-olds say...

WHAT ABOUT US?