Self-regulation and the baby steps to joy

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Why do we hurt? Why is trauma so emblazoned in our memory that to touch it with thought is to relive it, moment by torturous moment, until we sink under the weight of the memory. The loss of a grandparent, the loss of a friend, a miscarriage, a rape, a breakup with the person you thought was the one. Why do we hurt until we break, even years after the moment of pain has passed? Whoever said time heals all wounds was never traumatized, and never felt a loss so acute that sixty years later just a fragment of the memory is a punch to the gut.

Two people can witness the same traumatic event, a car crashing into a pole at high speeds. The first viewer is troubled, talks to the police, talks to his family and friends and lets the incident slip into his past. The second viewer is traumatized, cries when he talks to the police, can not discuss the incident with his family or friends, avoids the place where the accident occurred and is shaken every time he sees a car similar in color and type to the one in the accident.

Why did both people come to such different places in terms of how they reacted to the incident? First is the preconditioning of the nervous system. The first viewer has self-regulation, few past traumas and a set sense of self and the world around him. The second viewer has a dysregulated nervous system, lives in high alert, and has a poor sense of self and the world around him. He has been traumatized before, and the world is a scary and uncertain place for him.

What makes the memory so physically painful for viewer two is the amount of emotion he was flooded with when the incident occurred. His preprogrammed heightened arousal to danger, his low self-regulation, and high sense of uncertainty etched the car crash into his memory in horrifying detail. It is the amount of emotion experienced by the perceiver that decides whether an incident is traumatic or just simply troubling.

Self-regulation is key to managing trauma and stopping new trauma from forming. We self-regulate by talking to a qualified trauma specialist, doing deep breathing work to regulate the nervous system, going regularly to yoga or tai chi classes, managing stress, practicing prayer and meditation, and above all by surrounding ourselves with people and environments that help us feel calm and supported. Calming and regulating the nervous system is key to self-regulation and regulating the emotional brain.

So, turn off the news, cut out toxic people that leave you feeling weakened and drained, do not watch movies that are fear based, and lastly have faith in the creator who made you. Dr. Brene’ Brown says, we dress rehearse tragedy to beat vulnerability to the punch, meaning we live in a constant state of expecting our next trauma because it is too terrifying to believe that joy just might be our next great experience. To experience joy, we must first be vulnerable and willing to be open to change. I ask you to lean into your Creator, lean into healthy love, lean into gratitude, lean into your healing work, and prepare yourself for joy; After all, joy was once your natural state of being.

Keep going-You got this-I love you

The Traveling Now

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The way forward is not in the past. To look back is to be trapped in Ego’s memory loop. The memory loop is a Ground Hog Day of unending memory where you fight people who are not there, argue a point with the dead, and wage a battle that was lost years ago, only to fight, argue and battle the same people again the next day, on and on until death. The battle field is small; It’s only in your head, but the pain the memory causes is real and taxing to your mind and body. Letting the past go will heal you on many levels.

Mindfulness practice asks us to live in the now, to quiet the ego mind through meditative practice and prayer, and become one with what Terry Pratchett called the traveling now. How is the now ever traveling? It is traveling because the moment you are in it, it is already passing like a stream you wade through. the traveling now washes around your ankles and past you into the distance, into the past. Is it still the same stream you stepped into moments ago? As a body of water, yes, it is the stream, but the water is different with each passing moment. Here goes a leaf, a twig, a fish, a piece of water grass. This is your life ebbing and flowing around you. When we are lost in Ego’s memory loop we miss the sparkle of sunlight on a ripple, the jump and splash of a fish as it catches its dinner.

When we choose to stay in the traveling now with our minds clear, understanding that thoughts, like twigs and leaves, will come and go, we see the sunlight sparkle, we see the fish jump, we whiteness our lives. Thoughts will come and go; When we learn to observe them and release them with detachment and without resistance, we remain present, embodied and whole. We surrender to the beauty of the moment, missing nothing.

In this now in which I write to you, lives your observer consciousness. Your conscious self reads these words, witnesses your life, and sees all the magic in every moment you experience. Living in the now is where life has flavor, scent, taste and texture because by stepping into your life you are free to savor it. Let go of the memory loop. love and allow your ego to become an obedient servant that whispers instead of shouts. With mindfulness practice, the ego will become the helpful tool it was built to be, handling the small stuff while you enjoy your life.

Keep going-you got this-I love you

Cultivating Silence

I love silence. It’s a rare and beautiful thing. Silence eludes me at times but is easily cultivated once I let go enough to let it wander free. I love drifting through my silenced house with nothing to do. It’s these empty spans of nothingness that feed my soul in a profound way. I put on silence like an old coat, one that holds me close with its friendly warmth. I like the way silence buffers away the complicated storm swept world as it soothes my mind into quiet order.

In those rare moments when silence is accompanied by nothing to do I invariably finger a book I have no intention of reading or better still I pet my cat and break silence into a raucous flow of vibrational joy. My cats purr is deep and throaty. It is a cultivated purr won from silence, the silence of never having known love. That was not a nice silence. My cat has the purr of a feral cat dumped high on a hill top farm. It is the purr of courage which sings, “I dared to trust and in trust found love.”

Sometimes in my silence I contemplate at my toes. I have brave toes. I like to think of all the places my toes have led me. To the crib where my baby boy slept, to the door of my mother’s house, to the airport where together, toes and I boarded a plane. Finally I like to think of the moment my toes stepped to the top of Wearyall Hill. In this place the silence listens, builds and grows into a sort of spiritual wonder I can scarce find words to express.

One of the sweetest silences I know is barn silence. That’s right…barn silence. I have known barns filled with the slow breaths of big horses and the silent swoop of swallow’s wings. I have cupped my hands to catch gold bright dust particles suspended for a moment in the gleaming perfection of sunset; my horses quietly chewing in their darkening stalls. Barn silence is the best silence because it is filled with contentment. It whispers, well done, everyone is stalled, blanketed, fed, happy and safe. You’ve done your job, your free to find your bed but linger a while because contentment like this only comes to rose sniffers, day dreamers and those who understand and love the richness that comes with the knowledge that all is right with the world.

Silence gives rise to contemplation, the birthplace of epic daydreams. Epic daydreams become manuscripts upon which I labor hour after hour day after day. I nestle down happy with the certainty of my well spun plot, the depth of my characters,  enjoying the peace of knowing that everything will end as I wish it. What if life could be as conveniently orchestrated?

In Silence I disconnect from the global mind, allowing myself to once again become unique to my surroundings. In this great disconnect, I go off-line into silence and am again the girl I was, quiet and shy, no longer forced to brave a world which feels too big.

In silence I hear my heartbeat. In silence I’m glad I’m alive. In silence I am able to set aside my humanity, drink in the sublime and let go of all the petty rages which injure only me. In silence I am home, I am free and I am at peace because silence asks for nothing. It simply gives me space to be.

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Boosting your Cognitive Creativity

I’m an active writer. I write every day and when I’m not writing I’m thinking about writing. I’ve found however that my mind is never so clearly creative as when I’m out walking in my neighborhood. It’s during these walks that my characters find their true voice, my scenes gain in depth and color and my plot takes on a shape which far exceeds the bare bones structure I was originally given to work in. So what is it that is so powerful about walking? Is it the increase in oxygen to the brain? Is it the stimulation of the nervous system? In 1997 the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that a group of scientists had proven that cardiovascular exercise improves creativity independent of mood. Whether walking, dancing or running you are not only improving your body, building a stronger heart and overall strength, but you are also unleashing the cognitive creativity in your brain.

 
I propose that when you are feeling creatively blocked go for a walk, dance, or do any type of cardo-exercise to open your mind beyond its current creative level. Let go of your worries, release all the limitations you or others have placed on you. Breathe deeply and focus inwardly on the world which you alone can create. Whether you compose music, prose or paintings there is a reason why you were put on this planet. There is a reason why your individual art is so very important to the world. The reason is that only you can see and create what is being expressed within your heart and mind.

 
Another exercise I use to open my mind creatively is prayer or deep meditation. Going close to the source which created me and asking for guidance is a powerful way to open the mind and heart to new thoughts and ideas. This very grounding and liberating practice has helped shape whole sections of my books which had before given me trouble. Regardless of your beliefs the simple act of sitting silently with the source or deity you hold dear can work miracles in your mental makeup. There is limitless possibility in silence, in being present in the moment, in listening to that creative well spring from which all things are nourished.

You are a sacred being and your words, ideas, and creative expression are as important as the house which shelters you and the good food you eat for without human creativity and expression we could not relate to one another on a deeper level and without relationship one cannot expand and evolve. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” Insignificants is relative…creativity is imperative…go forth and create.