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?