Tag: Body

Backwards Thinking

Backwards Thinking

bffff3fc7ca8ab3fcb9ff07f7e7e1bc6The sun streamed through the kitchen window this morning, it’s warm inviting tendrils wrapping themselves around me like a lost lover. The relief I felt, the fullness of my appreciation for what I had been missing and the cavernous desire to take in as much of its energy as I could was  not dissimilar to the way I felt when my boys returned home after their first weekend camping trip, or my husband from a business trip.

I’ve become increasingly aware of the vast array of sensory healing that is available to us, and how little we are shown the way in a culture that focuses on illness and pathology more than it does on sustenance and healing.  We are taught to focus on what is wrong with us, not on the amazing power to heal and thrive that is inherent in the gift of life.

This is especially true when it comes to mental and emotional issues. Although the tide is changing, many of us are currently suffering the ill effects of a lifetime of living in an environment that neither feeds us nor teaches us how to manage our gifts and challenges. Furthermore, we were taught to ignore the very signals our bodies naturally gives us to guide us through these challenges.

In the simple example of the sun shining after three days of rain we are shown many things. My body told me loud and clear that it needs warmth, sun, and the loving sustenance of nature. It needs these things as much as it needs water and food.  If I had not been fortunate enough to be in a home facing the sun when it came out and had instead been in a cubicle facing a computer screen, a very real need would not have been met and my awareness of it would grow dull over time.

I remember sitting in many a classroom longing to be outside. I forced myself to go to work in an office day after day because that was the thing I was supposed to value, not the needs of my body, mind and spirit for nature. I told myself that cleaning my house and making money was more important than any signals my body might be sending me to the contrary.

We have it backwards. I had it backwards. When we work in cooperation with our body we do not become the unhealthy sloths we think we will become. Quite the opposite. We find renewed energy, renewed health, renewed focus and activity.  When we follow our instincts, our intuition, our yearnings and desires, we give ourselves what we need and energy begins to flow and health begins to blossom.

Coming back to my original self from a lifetime of backwards thinking and backwards living has been a long and not always easy process, but it has been a glorious one, a life-affirming one and one I would like to see everyone have the opportunity to experience.

Learning to fill ourselves with what we actually need rather than trying to fill ourselves with that which will never nurture or sustain us is a life long process. I experience hurdles and bumps and drift away from those things I’m learning to be true. The difference now, however, is that I stay true to who I am more often. I live in closer proximity to my soul self and perhaps more importantly I am learning how to get back there when I wander off.

The path I took may not be for everyone. We each have our own unique sensibilities, but we all also have an inner self that will speak to us when we choose to tune in and listen.  It is this inner guide that will lead you on your path of healing. It will lead you to exactly what you need and take you to the place where the sun will heal your hurts and fire up your energy and a sense of well-being will become more real than ever before. The abundance of life and love lives within each of us regardless of circumstances. It is our birthright. This I will always believe.

 

One More Hour of Peace

One More Hour of Peace

c33ce167d791d319f9af4a186ee0272bOn the mend from dental work performed last week, I’ve been  feeling a bit blue and lethargic. The gloomy weather hasn’t helped a bit! This morning, after three days of antibiotics I felt just enough better to force myself into motion. It’s difficult to know for certain whether it’s better to rest, or to move. I decided it was time to find out, so I took off for a long walk with my eagerly awaiting companion. He too was long overdue for some sustained motion.

It was  absolutely the right move. Walking, even on misty, cold days restores my soul and adjusts my perspective on life. Breathing in the moist air fed more than my soul! It seemed to vacate the cobwebs in my breathing apparatus and fired up my imagination.

Our imagination is so essential to the healing process. It expands our world view and allows us to see beyond our pain and whatever it is that is plaguing us in the here and now. Trauma forces us into a dark cave. It shuts us off to possibility. As wounded individuals, the fear and pain that is too often our constant companion takes over our imagination and turns it into a manufacturer of worse case scenarios of the highest order.

In order to thrive after trauma, we must take control of our imagination and point it in the right direction. Those who suffer the most as a result of abuse and trauma may just be the ones with the most powerful imaginations! If this is so, and I believe that it is, then the future bodes well for them as well, as when they are able to unleash this power in a more promising direction, the joy will be as high as the pain was deep.

It is difficult to understand sometimes, particularly when we have had a life long habit of trauma induced negative thinking, that we can harness our thoughts and use them to pull us out of the darkness. While it is important to understand our trauma from a psychological perspective, to grow in self-esteem and self-love, it is equally important to begin practicing a different way of imagining every chance we get.

For example, I recently submitted a few articles for publication to an agent that admittedly was a bit above my “pay grade” – but one can dream, can’t one? To make a long story short I received a rejection letter.  I wasn’t surprised and yet it triggered a spiral of negative thinking. My monkey mind went to work on me…over time! Of course, it didn’t help that I was fighting an infection and  was physically  off my game, but the fact remains it all added up to my overactive imagination turning on me.

It is in these moments, precisely in the midst of a downward spiral, that we must learn to grab hold of our imagination by a force of will and yank ourselves back from the brink. It is a choice. It doesn’t feel like one, but it is.  The trick is to catch ourselves in the act and then break the cycle. The more we are able to do this, the better we will become at doing it, and ultimately the better control we will have on how our past trauma impacts our present lives.

Going for a walk this morning was just one more step in breaking the power that trauma and abuse still has on my life. My choice to walk not only changed but it also interrupted my thought flow, it opened me up to the powerful imagination stimulus of nature. that readily available gift that always reminds me of all that is life-giving and sustaining. It grounds me in a way that nothing else does. As I walk my thoughts go, out of habit, without effort I fall into a more receptive mode. I listened to the damp woods, the trees, the rocks, the rushing stream and was able to take in their message, their gift, their strength. I was able to reconnect with my own positive imagination and I returned home renewed and restored, one more battle won, one more fear conquered, one more hour of peace.

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REACHING

REACHING

ANTON PAVLENKO LANDSCAPE OIL PAINTER

REACHING

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my mind,

I found a tiny girl child, wrapped like a mummy

in wordless memories weightier than her

tiny shoulders could carry. Though carry she did.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my soul,

I found an embryo who bargained with the devil,

who gave up choice in order to live, an uneven exchange

that lasted nearly a lifetime. She kept her promise.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my will,

I found a stomping mad two-year old who knew

her own mind, and suffered the consequences

for the knowledge. She stomped anyway when she could.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my heart,

I found an innocent, carefree child with

a passionate love for all things seen and,

a deep reverence for that is unseen.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my body,

I found a source of energy and flow

that I never knew existed, for it had been

traded at birth…or before.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my spirit,

I found light and power, guidance and vision,

angels and guides  a thread through my life

never to be broken.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I put down the yoke of fear, set aside the sorrow,

and abandoned the dark rivulets of despair.

I cancelled the bargain with the devil.

*

Now, I no longer bend down. I reach up instead.

Outstretched arms, fingers pointing toward the sky.

I stand anchored, connected, grounded in the earth,

heart wide open, assembled.

All the important pieces collected.

Getting to Know Our Body

Getting to Know Our Body

Holly Sierra
La Paloma – The Yogi Goddess Of Peace by Holly Sierra Click on image for more information.

I have learned so much from working with Crystal on the dietary dimension of my healing process. We have completed our work together for now. I will touch base with her in August, and of course before if needed. Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

1. Our dietary habits have an enormous impact on all areas of our lives, from energy level, mood, severity of the symptoms of PTSD, mental focus and clarity, weight control and overall sense of well-being and health.  Equally important is the health of our emotions and our spirit.

2. We can learn to live in a cooperative relationship with our body. When we learn what our body needs to function efficiently and happily, and cooperate with what we learn, we feel better. As we feel better, it becomes easier to recognize the ups and downs of our body, mind and spirit and figure out which is which; then we can learn what we need to do to auto-correct before things go too far in the wrong direction.

3. Most health and diet plans create an adversarial relationship with the body. Rather than getting to know our body and its unique needs and characteristics, we too often force an external plan upon it, one that may actually end up sabotaging the very thing we’re trying to achieve.

4. What’s healthy for me is not necessarily healthy for you. What works for you may not work for me. Health is in the details and one size does not fit all.

5. Physical health cannot be separated from emotional and spiritual health. They must all work together in unison. When they do not, one can sabotage the other.

A few examples:

I learned while working with Crystal that dairy and sugar in large quantities are detrimental to my health. Prior to beginning our work together I routinely had plain Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit for lunch thinking that this was a very “healthy” meal. For some people it may very well be. For me, it led to afternoon crashes, an inability to lose weight, and fogginess. Now I generally have either a large salad with chicken or chick peas or vegetable/beef soup. I’m satisfied. I no longer have the afternoon crash and all the symptoms I was experiencing that went along with too much dairy and sugar have dissipated. I do not feel in any way deprived, in fact, I feel more focused than ever and energized.

In the past I lived for my bowl of cereal and milk in the evening before bed. I always ate sugar-free cereal and skim milk. I was trying to lose weight and stay healthy. This, however, is not a good choice for my body. Now, I have either an apple and almond butter and maybe a square of dark chocolate or left over oatmeal with walnuts and almond milk (I know that’s weird but I like it!), or a handful of walnuts or almonds and a square of chocolate. Calorie content is probably about the same, but for me the new foods keep my sugar in check and I’ve lost 15 pounds. Again, I don’t feel deprived.

Getting to know ourselves is crucial in achieving wellness. This means getting to know our body, as well as understanding our emotions and habit of thought and uncovering and expanding a deep connection to our spiritual center.  This is a process that takes time and attention, but one well worth undertaking.

Where are you on your path toward healing and wholeness? What is helping you? What is tripping you up?

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

FINDING YOUR INNER GUIDE

 

A Grounding Place

A Grounding Place

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Winter Birch and Grasses, Southern Upland Way, Near Yair Bridge, Scottish Borders by Iaian MacClean

I remember so clearly the first day I sat in the therapist’s office after the accident. I think it was almost a year later, and it was my husband’s therapist, not mine. We needed to work on our marriage. He was working on it. I was there trying to work on it. All i remember was telling her I felt like I was dreaming most of the time. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to engage with therapy, I couldn’t seem to find a way to do so. I had no feelings, no emotions, no desire for forward motion…about anything!

Numbness is a common symptom of PTSD. When we can’t handle the pain, the stress, the fear, the anguish, our body, mind and spirit does what it can to protect us. It shuts down. Smart therapist that she is, Dr. B simply suggested that I close my eyes and focus my attention on my feet. “Feel the weight of your feet against the floor…the sensation of the firm, flatness of the surface holding them up, pushing back against them,” she said. “When you have a clear sense of this, move on to feel your thighs against the chair, your arms against the arm rests, your back against the back of the chair. Feel the weight of yourself being supported by the chair.”

The exercise calmed me that day.  It also surprised me. I had not realized how physically  and emotionally disconnected I had become.  This is known as “dissociation” in the world of psychology  and often accompanies trauma. Depending on the degree and severity of the trauma, dissociation can be as mild as staring mindlessly out of a window or forgetting what you just did,  to isolating a part of yourself from yourself and others and withdrawal, such as amnesia, or flashbacks. Learn more.

There was no “therapy” to be done that day.  I did not feel safe enough to begin the hard work of uncovering, unearthing, revealing, exposing. I was barely able to breathe, let alone trust the world with my hurting places.  I remember thinking, “I can’t. I won’t. There is no safe place.”  What lay just beyond those fleeting thoughts, and as yet unspoken was, “I am terrified and this is all I know how to do right now to take care of myself.”  Dr. B. sent me home with instructions to do this little exercise every day, several times a day if possible and come back in a week. That I could do.

Recovering from trauma is not a simple task, nor does it follow a desired timetable.  The healing process takes place only when we show up and cooperate with it. It must be undertaken at a pace that feels manageable to the individual, in a manner that is unique to each individual. It may proceed from the inside out or the outside in. We may learn to feel anchored again by feeling our feet against the floor, or structuring our days in a way that minimizes stress, or by finding a safe place inside of ourselves. For me this came later through guided imagery. First I had to reconnect myself at a very conscious level to the world.

The healing process cannot be accelerated by will, it can only be facilitated by cooperation, by learning to hear the signals the body and spirit are sending to us and following their lead. It is an intuitive, groping in the dark sort of process that we can learn to trust a little more every day.  When we are wounded we must first and foremost learn, perhaps for the very first time,  to be kind and decent and good to ourselves.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

Through-the-rabbit-holeLast week I fell down the rabbit hole. I’ve been working my out ever since. I wrote a blog post toward the end of the week and lost it! I don’t know about you, but sometimes my computer has a mind of its own and decides that what I’ve written doesn’t need to be read.

Crystal changed my supplements and I crashed hard. We’re still trying to figure it all out. I’m learning so much about the adrenal system and the ongoing effects of stress and trauma. The difficult thing is that we are treated differently depending on the type of treatment we seek or have available. It’s a source of great frustration for those of us who feel every ebb and flow that takes place in our bodies.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but depression has been a constant in my life, and I’ve pretty  much been a guinea pig for the changing face of treatment. I will be forever grateful for antidepressants and for what they did for me thirty years ago, but there have been consequences. Every day the growing body of knowledge regarding the body/mind connection gives us better and better alternatives or additions to treatment.

One of the consequences of who I am, my life experiences, and less than ideal medical treatment has been adrenal fatigue/adrenal burnout, a term that I throw around like it’s the answer without really having a firm grasp on the complexities of the adrenal system. It just makes some kind of sense to me, and one of these days I’ll get Crystal to explain it all here.

After caring for my mother, and getting through my husband’s heart attack and two hospitalizations, my kids’ high school graduations and college enrollment, 9/11, and my own stress induced health issues, I discovered “compassion fatigue”. It fit like a glove, and I began to take action to reduce the stress in my life. But, despite my efforts, it was the beginning of the collapse of my adrenal system and I was unaware of how exactly to give it the support it needed. Time went by and as did a level of stress, until the accident put me on my butt again.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when we come to midlife from a stressful first fifty years, getting things right takes more effort and focus than I know I recognized.  And, we may never be able to recover the adrenal functioning we have lost, or the quality of life we had hoped for. That’s not to say that there isn’t hope, because I will always believe we can learn to do the best with the hand we’ve been dealt.

Crystal cut back on a supplement that contained thyroid support and I went into a deep depression. The one place I fight with every thing I have to avoid. It’s just too incredibly painful. The PTSD returned as well. However, in the process, I did learn how intricately connected our emotions are to our bodies and its proper functioning. I can’t help but ask, “Has my depression always been tied to my thyroid health?” Of course, I’ve had my thyroid tested regularly throughout my life because I’ve always struggled with my weight, and that’s one of the first places doctors go when you say “weight gain”.  A problem was never detected,  but there are so many variables that can be overlooked in a blood test.

She upped the thyroid support and I feel better but not as good as I did before. I’m trying not to feel discouraged. All I want is to be able to take the trip to see my boys in Missouri we tried to take a few weeks ago. That requires getting the PTSD under control, so I can manage the four days on the road without medication.

How has stress affected your life, and what do you do to counteract it?

Dorothy 2014

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