Monday, 23 April 2018

May You Live with Ease

     "To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders." Lao Tzu

      For many of us, our minds are far from being still. One example:

     “Though it was a divine trip, I remember often being impatient and jittery, perhaps from culture shock, perhaps from not knowing how to live without grinding and studying. This sense of not feeling comfortable in my skin plagued me during my early adulthood. From the outside I was doing splendidly: I had married the woman I loved, I had gained admission into medical school and was performing well in every way, but deep inside, I was never at ease, never confident, and never grasping the source of my anxiety. I had some unclear sense that I had been scarred deeply by my early childhood and felt that I didn’t belong, that I was not as worthy or deserving as others. How I would love to repeat that trip now with the serenity of my current self!”
        Irvin D. Yalom. “Becoming Myself. A Psychiatrist’s Memoir.” Basic Books, 2017.

     “While we all want to move beyond trauma, the part of our brain that is devoted to ensuring our survival (deep below our rational brain) is not very good at denial. Long after a traumatic experience is over, it may be reactivated at the slightest hint of danger and mobilize disturbed brain circuits and secrete massive amounts of stress hormones. This precipitates unpleasant emotions intense physical sensations, and impulsive and aggressive actions. These posttraumatic reactions feel incomprehensible and overwhelming. Feeling out of control, survivors of trauma often begin to fear that they are damaged to the core and beyond redemption. 
     Research … has revealed that trauma produces actual physiologic changes, including recalibration of the brain’s alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity, and alterations in the system that filters relevant information from irrelevant. We now know that trauma compromises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive. These changes explain why traumatized individuals become hypervigilent to threat at the expense of spontaneously engaging in their day-to-day lives. They also help us understand why traumatized people so often keep repeating the same problems and have such trouble learning from experience. We now know that their behaviors are not the result of moral failings or signs of lack of willpower or bad character – they are caused by actual changes in the brain.
     This vast increase in our knowledge about the basic process that underlie trauma has also opened up new possibilities to palliate or even reverse the damage. We can now develop methods and experiences that utilize the brain’s own natural neuroplasticity to help survivors feel fully alive in the present and move on with their lives."
     Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015.

      “Be curious, not judgmental.” Walt Whitman

Christi Belcourt - "Quiet Moment of Gratitude" -

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