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Totally love this guys’s blog

I found this quote on a cool blog. Check it out-http://reachingawe.comhttp://reachingawe.com

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”Albert Einstein

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Four Concrete Steps for Working with Trauma

with Bessel van der Kolk, MD and Ruth Buczynski, PhD

Editor’s note: These people are top of their field and always worth the time!

Step 1: Start with Self-Regulation

Dr. van der Kolk: I would say the foundation of all effective treatments involves some way for people to learn that they can change their arousal system.

Before any talking, it’s important to notice that if you get upset, taking 60 breaths, focusing on the out breaths, can calm your brain right down. Attempting some acupressure points or going for a walk can be very calming.

Dr. Buczynski: So this is learning to modulate arousal?

Dr. van der Kolk: Yes, and there’s alarmingly little in our mainstream culture to teach that. For example, this was something that kindergarten teachers used to teach, but once you enter the first grade, this whole notion that you can actually make yourself feel calm seems to disappear.

Now, there’s this kind of post-alcoholic culture where if you feel bad, you pop something into your mouth to make the feeling go away.

“The issue of self-regulation needs to become front and center in the treatment of trauma.”

It’s interesting that right now there are about six to ten million people in America who practice yoga, which is sort of a bizarre thing to do – to stand on one foot and bend yourself up into a pretzel. Why do people do that? They’ve discovered that there’s something they can do to regulate their internal systems.

So the issue of self-regulation needs to become front and center in the treatment of traumatized people. That’s step number one.

Step 2: Help Your Patients Take Steps Toward Self-Empowerment

The core idea here is that I am not a victim of what happens. I can do things to change my own thoughts, which is very contrary to the medical system where, if you can’t stand something, you can take a pill and make it go away.

The core of trauma treatment is something is happening to you that you interpret as being frightening, and you can change the sensation by moving, breathing, tapping, and touching (or not touching). You can use any of these processes.

It’s more than tolerating feelings and sensations. Actually, it is more about knowing that you, to some degree, are in charge of your own physiological system.

There needs to be a considerable emphasis on “cultivating in myself,” not only as a therapist, but also as a patient – this knowing that you can actually calm yourself down by talking or through one of these other processes.

So, step number two is the cultivation of being able to take effective action. Many traumatized people have been very helpless; they’ve been unable to move. They feel paralyzed, sit in front of the television, and they don’t do anything.

“Programs with physical impact would be very, very effective treatments.”

Programs with physical impact, like model mugging (a form of self-defense training), martial arts or kickboxing, or an activity that requires a range of physical effort where you actually learn to defend yourself, stand up for yourself, and feel power in your body, would be very, very effective treatments. Basically, they reinstate a sense that your organism is not a helpless (tool) of fate.

Step 3: Help Your Patients Learn to Express Their Inner Experience

The third thing I would talk about is learning to know what you know and feel what you feel. And that’s where psychotherapy comes in: finding the language for internal experience.

The function of language is to tie us together; the function of language is communication. Without being able to communicate, you’re locked up inside of yourself.

“Without being able to communicate, you’re locked up inside of yourself.”

So, learning to communicate and finding words for your internal states would be very helpful in terms of normalizing ourselves – accepting and making (the communication of internal states) a part of ourselves and part of the community. That’s the third part.

Step 4: Integrate the Senses Through Rhythm

We’re physical animals, and to some level, we’re always dancing with each other. Our communication is as much through head nodding and smiles and frowns and moving as anything else. Kids, in particular, and adults, who as kids were victims of physical abuse and neglect, lose those interpersonal rhythms.

“Rhythmical interaction to establish internal sensory integration is an important piece.”

So, some sort of rhythmical interaction to establish internal sensory integration is an important piece that we are working on. With kids, we work with sensory integration techniques like having them jump on trampolines and covering them with heavy blankets to have them feel how their bodies relate to the environment because that’s an area that gets very disturbed by trauma, neglect, and abuse, especially in kids.

For adults, I think we’ve resolved rhythmical issues with experiences like tango dancing, Qi Gong, drumming – any of these put one organism in rhythm with other organisms and is a way of overcoming this frozen sense of separation that traumatized people have with others.

Dr. Buczynski: These are four keystones that can make healing from trauma faster and more effective. In order to give patients the best chance for recovery, consider these steps as you plan your interventions and treatments.

Pema Wisdom

“At the root of all the harm we cause is ignorance. Through meditation, that’s what we begin to undo. If we see that we have no mindfulness, that we rarely refrain, that we have little well-being, that is not confusion, that’s the beginning of clarity”

from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

From This Day Forward

Is it so wrong to wake each day and rewrite the plan? I think the folly is waking each day only to go through the motions you went through yesterday without asking the questions:

  • How can today be better (based on your measure) than yesterday?
  • What can I do today to create a life more reflective of my values?
  • When do I begin the authentic life?
  • How will I hang on to my own truth today?
  • Where will I find joy today?

Otherwise you will wake in 30 years and wonder what you’ve been doing. You will look behind you and sadly surmise you’ve been asleep. You might even see years of unconscious avoidance of the journey worthy of your greatness. But that’s OK because today is a brand new adventure. You will make the most of each moment and you will begin anew, again. But it’s the conscious mindfulness that will set you apart today and all the other days you choose to live in the present. And this worthy of deep respect for the self.  This honesty empowers you to do the same tomorrow and there-in lies the path to authenticity. Isn’t this what grounds us and allows more and more days like this where we develop a deep respect for ourselves?

Designing Therapy Spaces: Part 3

In part 1 & 2, we looked at some general aspects of healing spaces: the need for orderliness, supportive environments for practitioners themselves, and some color tips. This time we’ll discuss lighting the space. Most practitioners understand warm lighting with table lamps but because of the expense, we often cut corners and an unsteady, cheap lamp is not advised. Natural light is always an excellent choice.

Recently, I read a book that included personality traits the general public assigned to their favorite brands. Out of 300 descriptors, researchers distilled the list to 5 and I think these could be helpful when considering how others would describe our space. The 5 words (in no particular order) are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.

77b861e5d3b3964f98a90696c04c08c9Competence and sophistication might be your credentials,education, and your experience. Sincerity might be covered by your orderly and carefully appointed work space. Ruggedness might be the sturdy furnishings that are slightly masculine – see part 1 & 2. But excitement might need to be covered by a bit of dramatic flair in your office. Although folks feel less exposed with softer lighting and overheads with dimmers, this may be an opportunity to have a bit of fun with illumination of a different sort. A gas fireplace is an awesome touch but not always practical or appropriate however you have some creative license here. Be playful and have some fun. Remember, you spend the most time in your office and your well-being is a top priority!

Is This Really What We Want?

UnknownThe US seems to be having a will power crisis. Those in power are running amok, and the people seem to have lost their will to do anything about the situation. We have elections coming up soon so we will hear a boat load of screaming and shouting about what is wrong and how useless and ineffective and blah blah blah. But we won’t hear much about workable plans for change. We can examine the records of most of these people and notice they did almost none of what they promised yet they still went home with paychecks 52 weeks of the year.

But what about our will people? What’s become of self-determination? The strength of character to walk onto a boat when you don’t know what’s on the other side of the ocean. The courage to climb into a covered wagon and ride for months through known dangers to reach a better place. The guts to put your life in danger to stand up to white supremacists. This is our 1collective past – our ancestors found the will to leap into the abyss which created better lives for us. Are we different from them? Are we no longer willing to take to the streets to demand change? Surely the majority of us realize our leaders aren’t paying as much attention to what we want but far more attention to what they want. Don’t we all wish we could make six figures doing what we want while telling the people who pay our salaries what they want to hear!! Wowza!

We have to create a collective vision and demand change rather than waiting for elected officials to do this for us – the few good ones we have are inundated with the many more that are worse than worthless. We can only do this if we successfully build stronger tribes of like-minded people. We are all waiting for ‘the shift’ with many young people even claiming to ‘have awakened’. Well what the heck, you have to be dead to not see that something will change!! So what? I’ve been listening to people like that for the last 30 years. We need really clever people to lead us there- is that you? Your mind is clever but we require more. Do you have what it takes to do the work, every day, to affect the change that needs to happen? As Gandhi said l “be the change you wish to see in the world”? Sometimes it’s easier than other times.

Is this is simply a problem looking for a solution? Are we approaching this like we would any other difficulty in our lives – a broken motor, or ‘whats for dinner’? Have we applied all of the skills learned from thinking outside the box to remedy this? Are we making the most of our leadership skills? Have we been beaten down to the point of inability? Can we pull ourselves back upright, use all of our charisma, passion, intelligence, persistence, leadership, and creative problem solving to remedy what we see that isn’t working in our world to affect positive change?

Or is it, as Paul Levy asserts in his book Dispelling Wetiko, group psychosis?

There is a contagious psychospiritual disease of the soul, a parasite of the mind, that is currently being acted out en masse on the world stage via a collective psychosis of titanic proportions. This mind-virus─which Native Americans have called “wetiko”─covertly operates through the unconscious blind spots in the human psyche, rendering people oblivious to their own madness and compelling them to act against their own best interests. An inner cancer of the soul, wetiko flavors and manages our perceptions by stealth and subterfuge so as to act itself out through us while simultaneously hiding itself from being seen. Not constrained by the conventional laws of third-dimensional space and time, this ‘bug’ in the system deceives us by working with the intrinsic projective tendencies of our mind so as to appear external to and other than ourselves, utilizing the seemingly outside world as the canvas for its full-bodied revelation of itself. Wetiko nonlocally in-forms, gives shape to and configures events in the world so as to synchronistically express itself, which is to say that just like in a dream, events in the outer world are symbolically reflecting a condition deep within the psyche of humanity. Drawing on insights from Jungian psychology, shamanism, alchemy, spiritual wisdom traditions, and personal experience, author Paul Levy shows us that hidden within the venom of wetiko is a revelation as well as its own antidote, which once recognized can help us wake up and bring sanity back to our society. How wetiko manifests─will it destroy our species, or will it catalyze a deeper process of global awakening?─depends upon recognizing what it is revealing to us about ourselves.

Are we really satisfied with what we’ve settled for? In this world of ‘being grateful for what we do have’, we’ve mistakenly forgotten what we don’t have and that it’s OK to identify what isn’t working and strive for change. Can we do more than sit here, day after day while ignoring the enormous mountain of problems we face in the world?