Sleep, a Natural Way to Reset Your Sympathetic Nervous System

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Your body does more than you can even imagine when you are asleep. During your nightly rest and repair your brain collates and processes information, it lowers your cortisol levels, moves you from REM to Non-REM, and it even locks your muscles during REM so you don’t accidently hurt your partner while you’re fighting your dragons. Ever have sleep paralysis? This is when your body forgets to unlock those muscles and leaves you in a half sleep half waking state where you can’t move, wake or sleep but you get the joy of acid free hallucinations you will not forget in a hurry. But I digress.

Sleep is a huge part of your mental health in that it allows your Sympathetic Nervous System to relax, let go, and rest. Your sympathetic nervous system is in charge of your fight, flight, freeze, and fawn trauma responses. When the sympathetic nervous system resets, these four trauma responses also have time to rest, giving your brain and body a much-needed respite from your daily high alert trauma response. What can ruin this sleep generated relaxation response come morning is a harsh alarm or any other startling or high-speed morning activity. Get an alarm that plays something pretty on a soft volume and grows in volume so you are awakened slowly and without a startle response. By avoiding a morning startle response, you avoid releasing adrenaline and will have a calm, more productive day. Another tip is to move slowly through your morning. I pray, meditate for half an hour and then slowly move through my house, doing all the things I need to do to get myself up and out the door with a mindful calm. Think, “I am meditatively walking into my day and I set the intention to remain calm and relaxed.”

Eight hours is the doctor recommended number of hours of sleep the human body needs each night. Personally, I like to sleep for nine hours each night. I’ve found that nine hours is the perfect number for me. If you have a history of trauma, it’s highly likely that you will need more sleep then next door’s Suzie, who had nice parents and a cute dog to pad her perfect childhood. And a good sleep hygiene protocol will tell you to go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Also, avoiding caffeine is just a good rule of thumb if you have trauma. All stimulates will help keep you in high alert and help activate you four trauma responses causing your body to spiral through aggressive hormone flooding and the shaky aftermath were taking care of yourself feels next to impossible. And if you have a partner who thinks it’s fun to scare you…find someone new. Anyone who thinks triggering your trauma responses is funny doesn’t deserve you.

I love you. Get a good night’s sleep. Walk and move with calm. Be peace to know peace.  

Solitude, Why the Crazy Cat Lady is the new Guru

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Remember when we were kids and we’d see that lady checking out at the grocery store with 20 cans of cat food, one bag of kitty litter, ten lean cuisines, and a bottle of wine? I remember thinking, “Please God, don’t ever let me become a Crazy Cat Lady.” Well, here I am and all I’m missing is a cat. Thing about cats is that there’s always one that needs a home and they can smell out a solitary cat-less person from ten blocks away. Cats are magical, that’s why they are our masters. But I digress.

The thing about slowly becoming a Crazy Cat Lady is that there is no one around to disturb you. You have all the time in the world. You can spend hours talking to God, talking to shrubs (see my last blog post), meditating, working out, buying yourself a yummy gyro, and talking to friends who are also slowly evolving into Crazy Cat Women. The other perk is that you never have to share your wine.

Solitude has been sold to us as this terrible state of loneliness that eats the soul and withers the mind when in fact it’s a great place to heal, set internal boundaries, face down your personal demons, and really get to know yourself. You can’t know yourself in a crowd, but sit quietly alone and all of YOU will show up, the good and the troubling. I no longer fill my days. I wander through them. I cry, I reach out, I go to therapy, I see where I went wrong, and I see where I went right, I savor, I take deep breaths, and I simply exist. This is the most Zen I have been allowed to be in my entire life.

I no longer believe that time is money, that I need to keep my nose to the grindstone, or that the person with the most toys wins. Instead, I believe in watching squirrels hide nuts and chase each other up trees, I believe I can hear God in the wind when it blows through the forest, I believe in random miracles and intentional miracles and…just all miracles. I believe in appreciating mountains while not feeling the need to climb them. I believe in the magic of pedestrians who don’t look when they cross and I believe in the drivers who manage not to hit them everyday in this beautiful metropolis I live in. I believe in God because I see God in every person and structure and breeze that lifts every leaf in every tree.

The first step to following the teachings of the Crazy Cat Lady is to let go of social norms, stop caring about what the neighbor thinks, and just coexist. Meet your friends at the corner café and talk about art and music, or physics and spirituality if you’re feeling particularly saucy, and definitely talk about your cats because they’re magical, remember? Lastly, love yourself and all the people you come into contact with because in truth, everyone is fighting their own battles and no one gets off this planet alive.

Cheers my beloveds. Everyday is a new adventure. Meet it with all the grace and authenticity you can muster.

Wear your comfy shoes. Your fantastic just as you are. There is nothing you need do…except feed the cat.

Bring your Darkness to the light

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“If you bring forth what is within you,

what you bring forth will save you,

If you do not bring for what is within you,

what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

-The Gnostic Christ- Dead sea scrolls

Healing your stored trauma can be a scary undertaking. You have glimpses of what lays beneath the surface of your everyday life, but reaching down into the depths and grasping onto your painful past may be too much to bear. Healing is not for the weak. That’s why there are choices. You can stay in your disturbed normal, constantly triggered, depressed, plagued by nightmares and memories. You can smile through the pain and keep your nose to the grind stone. Or you can act out, making your pain everyone else’s pain, screaming in unwary people’s faces because they dare to wear the same kind of coat the man who raped you wore, or do their hair the way your violent mother did. Lastly, you can choose to dive deep and grasp onto your trauma and raise it into the light.

If you choose this last path, you are choosing healing, a release from pain and a path to self-discovery more beautiful than anything you could ever imagine. I have grasped this last path and I swear to you it is worth it. Your greatest hardship will probably be finding a good trauma therapist. I have yet to find one but have found that through meditation, talking to friends with trauma, and working with the 13 therapists I have gone through, I have gained an insight into what it is to drag your past into the light.

Begin with a trigger, sit down with the trigger and meditate on it. If you don’t know how to meditate learn on YouTube. Once you are able to sit with the trigger try to feel where it sits in the body. If this is too much, STOP! Some trauma cannot be processed alone. If you are managing to maintain self-mastery continue. Sit with the place where the trigger rests in the body and ask, how old was I when this happened, who was there, what happened, and finally, how can I release this. If it is a childhood trauma, comfort your little child, take the child away and take them to a safe place. I have a sacred place where my children recover until they are ready to reintegrate with me. This sacred place is a Disneyland of wonder watched over by angels.

We release trauma by crying and shaking it out, by coughing it up, by sobbing, by screaming into pillows, by journaling page after page as we feel and see what happened and offer it up to the light. Then share it in group, with your therapist, or if your lucky to have trauma informed friends, share it with them. What is done in the dark will come to the light-Genesis:4. And what you bring forth will save you- Gnostic Christ-Dead Sea Scrolls.

Healing takes time but the parts of you that will return are incredibly beautiful: Self-worth, creativity, righteous anger, adventure, emotional regulation, and so much more. If fear is what is standing in the way, remind yourself that fear is only the absence of faith. Faith in your creator to always have your back will unravel fear. Fear is not real. It only exists in the ego mind. You don’t need it. Choose faith and you will conquer fear, become fearless, step outside the power of the fearmongers, and become truly and completely you. YOU are the person you were meant to be. YOU are the person you have been waiting for. Dare greatly, live boldly, surrender your burdens to divinity, and reclaim your place on the world stage.

You are needed, you are wanted, you are deserving. Go forth and be great.

I love you.