I have a dear friend who is my age (60+) who sn’t worried about getting sick from the coronavirus. She is a naturopath and a homeopath and is trained in a lot of other alternative health care modalities.
She has absolute faith that her immune system is so robust that she will not get sick.
I don’t quite have that much faith, even though I’m doing a lot to stay healthy, but it made me curious about immunity.
One question I have is this: how many people are positive for the virus but have no symptoms? Is this because their immune systems are so robust that the virus keeps trying to make headway, but it just can’t?
Or, possibly, could it be because they were exposed to very little of the virus, just enough to test positive, but not as much as people who get sick?
I believe the tests are binary: either you test positive or negative. (I wish everyone could be tested frequently.) The threshold for testing positive may be low if people are carrying it but symptomless.
I’m also assuming that people in close or frequent contact with those carrying or sick with the virus would have more virus in their body and be more likely to get sick. So, nursing homes. Prisons. Cruise ships. Mardi Gras. Spring breakers packing the beaches.
Packed churches at Easter?
I want to learn more about the immune system. We’re all interested now!
I’m going to investigate that and report what I find here in plain language.
Today is Day 3 of shelter in place in Austin, Texas, USA. As of last night, we have 137 known cases and no deaths.
Interestingly, the majority of cases are in people under 40. Only 19 cases are in people 60+.
Sometimes I have second thoughts. My wild mind gets half-baked ideas that are so exciting, and the next day they don’t look that good. I took down my most recent post that was like that. It’s just not ready for public consumption.
So. New day, new topic. Please note I am not saying what follows to brag. I hope saying it gives those who need it encouragement.
For someone who was traumatized by a sudden, tragic, violent loss in childhood, who as a result had PTSD for decades before it was even a diagnosable malady — life can be good again.
I wake up happy to greet a new day, on most days. I feel balanced, grounded, centered, open, resilient, buoyant, strong, like a fountain constantly replenishing and renewing. I have more than enough.
Perhaps these good days are even sweeter because of the past. Trauma survivors, please savor and enjoy every good day, every good hour even, that comes your way.
It’s not as if the trauma in this bodymindfield is gone, over, done. Even when you’ve done a lot of work to remember, sort, get perspective, feel, self-soothe, reconcile, and heal that wounded self, a scar still resides in your nervous system. But it can disappear for long stretches of time.
You can work with your autonomic nervous system to rebalance it so that you read and respond to actual threats and to safety appropriately, but in reading what psychotherapists with 40 years of experience have to say, trauma is scar tissue in the psyche. Scar tissue will never be as healthy and resilient as unscarred skin. It’s more fragile. It’s not organized the same way at the cellular level. You can work with it to make it more pliable and reduce the scarring, but it will never be as if the trauma never happened, the skin unscarred.
Also, obviously, trauma resides in your memories, which are connected to your ANS. How often do you need to revisit those memories? Not that often for me, any more. I want to mention that some of the memories from the time of the trauma remained veiled from my conscious mind for a long time, and sometimes a memory shapes our behavior, unbidden.
Trauma is definitely something you want behind you on your timeline, not in the way of denial but in the healthy manner of moving on with your life, because healthy life beckons after trauma, if you let it. It may start with one peaceful hour.
Investigate peace, and savor it.
Facing forward, sometimes trauma from the past sneaks ahead and gets right in your face. Boo! Your ANS, which is instinctual and not really all that smart, interprets something as a threat that simply isn’t. Something happens in the present that unconsciously reminds the part of your brain that’s trying to keep you safe of a time when you were unsafe in the past, and you react sharply, as if past were present, get flooded with stress hormones, experience the fight-or-flight dance going on.
Hopefully, the thinking part of your brain will kick in to help you evaluate the situation! Are you actually in imminent danger? If the answer is no, then you get to wait it out while your system rebalances itself, recovering from the dump of stress hormones. Acupuncture and supplements for adrenal depletion can be very helpful.
Beautiful self-care is required when a memory hijacks the ANS and there is no actual threat. Be ever so kind to yourself. Rest as much as you can. Make beautiful cups of tea. Slow down. Light a candle and watch it burn. Take a long fragrant soak in the tub, preferably with Epsom salt. Just breathe. Listen to lovely music. Move your body with care. Do restorative yoga. Walk in nature. Spend time with a loving friend.
Afterwards, trauma resides in memories and the ANS. Build yourself a vast toolkit of self-care resources for the activated times.
Trauma can also play a huge role in your beliefs. We are run by our beliefs, and some of them are outside our awareness. Feeling cursed? Been there. Having bad luck with relationships? Been there. So many questions. Why me? Am I being punished? What did I do to deserve this? How can anyone love me? How could God let this happen? Does God love me?
What are some things you have believed about yourself, your life, your character, your worthiness, after a trauma?
At this point, all I can say about belief is to frame it in the healthiest way you can. If that means you acknowledge that you encountered misfortune — something that has happened to a lot of people throughout human history — and understand it’s just the way life as a human can sometimes be, and don’t take it personally, that seems like a great start. You didn’t cause this, you didn’t deserve it, you are not being punished, you are not cursed. You ran into some bad luck, that’s all.
This is how you build resilience and move on. If you need a little healthy delusion, I say go for it. If rocks or essential oils or photos of Ramana Maharshi soften the harshness, use them. I do.
Beliefs are about what’s important. Identity is who you are. By working with your beliefs, you start to change your identity.
We live our lives inside a huge mystery. Theoretical physicists say that two thirds of all existence consists of dark energy, and no one knows what it is. I just love this, my favorite new factoid! We.Don’t.Know.What’s.Going.On.
So feel free to make something up that works for you, that gives you strength and courage and takes the weight of oppression or unworthiness off you, so you can rise up to meet the rest of your life. Why not?
By all means, take credit for and celebrate the good stuff — for taking right action, or coming to understand what that means or if that was even possible then. For persisting in the face of hardship. For recovering some of your mental health. For those who understand and accept you, or are willing to make that attempt. For self-care and self-compassion. For bonding with all of humanity through your compassion for all suffering. For finding your path.
After trauma, you get to work with your autonomic nervous system, your memories, and your beliefs. Exploring and reframing your beliefs are where you can make the most difference. Have courage. You’re worth it.
People ask me about this because I’ve worked on it and continue to work it, in my personal life and as a professional in healing arts. I’ve documented bits of my own healing processes in this blog: from a severe childhood trauma, 20-year-old injury to my sacroiliac joint, a hiatal hernia, leaky gut, and more. I guess I have a little bit of street cred.
P.S. I’m still learning.
We live in a world with broken people and broken behaviors in it, including us and the things we ourselves do. Sometimes you know you’ve healed. You’re done. Sometimes it’s more like a spiral that you revisit as you get on with your life, mature, and find the resources to heal even more deeply.
You need breaks — because healing can be intense and you need to rebalance and integrate, which happens mostly in the non-conscious and is part of the process.
Even on your deathbed, the possibility for healing exists. We are all works in progress. It is a hero’s/heroine’s journey complete with allies, mentors, obstacles, blind alleys, discoveries, expansion, adversaries, stages/gates, divine aid, a transformative learning experience every step of the way.
Healing is multifaceted. It can be physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, seemingly by itself or in any combination, or all of the above, as well as outside of these realms beyond our capacity to understand. Everything is hitched to everything else, and we don’t know what “everything” is. Two-thirds of the universe is dark energy and no one knows what it is. We live inside a huge mystery.
It’s not necessarily linear. We can use linear strategies — I want to get from Point A to Point B — and it’s always a good idea to leave room for quantum changes, because they happen. People get visited by angels, get messages in dreams, recognize signs that provide direction in mundane life, health issues spontaneously disappear. And more. Always, and more.
Healing takes skill, and you can learn to do it, from your own experiences, from experts in it (healers, therapists), from non-professional others who’ve healed themselves, from getting informed about it (please be discerning, don’t believe everything you read, and maximize what’s helpful to you — if it’s hurtful, minimize it, but denial is generally not a good strategy).
Sometimes healing doesn’t work, or it is partial. It’s not exactly something we control. We are all mortal. The body wears out eventually, no matter how well you take care of it. Accidents, epidemics, natural disasters, unhealthy people with agendas or weapons or leadership roles exist. Accepting that anything can happen, that everything living has a lifespan, gives us a deadline, so to speak, and can prompt us to do some of our finest healing work. Who do you want to be next year?
There are issues that we simply don’t yet have the knowledge to heal. We are creatures of habit, conditioned by the past, and often those habits detract from healing. Examining and releasing your dysfunctional conditioning — beliefs, habits, patterns that don’t serve — is important.
Waking up is a synonym for healing. What is your place in the universe? Who are you? Why are you here? What’s your purpose? What do you bring to the table? What do you want to bring to the table? How can you make the world a better place, one day at a time, one conversation at a time? What is real? What is delusion? How do you know?
Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life.
~ Dogen Zenji
You may think you’re alone with your suffering, but you’re actually not alone. Someone, somewhere, has gone through something very similar and come through to the other side. Seek them out, learn from them, learn from each other, share resources. Shame keeps you separate. I like Brene Brown’s work on shame.
Everyone gets wounded. Everyone is vulnerable — although, word to the wise, find people to share with who are compassionate, who can empathize. Not everyone is. Develop your compassion, including self-compassion.
There are some prerequisites: first, you need to believe that healing is possible. Beliefs are powerful. They run deep. They often run the show without your conscious awareness until you make it your business to become aware of them and question them. Is it true? Check out Byron Katie’s The Work to dive in.
Next, in order to heal, you have to allow yourself to heal. This is important, even when you are going to a healer. Yes, healers can “do stuff” to you, but you are the one who lets it work. This is a skill. Surrendering is a skill, and it has to do with allowing yourself to be open to change that’s beyond your control. , and it
This can be quite scary for some. Please recognize that needing to be in control may be exactly the thing that keeps you from healing. Healing is bigger than the you that you know, and it’s mysterious. Healing means taking risks to allow the unknown to happen, and it also means expanding into a bigger version of you that you’re not familiar with yet.
If you could heal using only what you can control, how’s that working for you? Wouldn’t you already be healed?
Finally, you already are a healer. When you get a scratch, it bleeds, scabs over, the scab falls off, and the skin has knit itself back together. Hurts and disappointments diminish over time and possibly, with perspective, may even come to be seen as blessings in disguise that called on you to grow and heal.
As long as you are alive, life wants you to heal and provides some resources. You can get familiar with and cultivate those resources.
This Tricycle Daily Dharma quotation reinforces Byron Katie’s work:
We suffer because we marry our instinctive aversion to pain to the deep-seated belief that life should be free from pain. In resisting our pain by holding this belief, we strengthen just what we’re trying to avoid. When we make pain the enemy, we solidify it. This resistance is where our suffering begins. ~ Ezra Bayda, “When It Happens to Us”
Next time you’re feeling emotional pain, I invite you to examine whether a “should” is involved. “Shoulds” are always beliefs, as far as I can tell.
Imagine (that is, make up stories about) what you believe should happen.
Now think about what you believe shouldn’t happen, and create two stories. In one, imagine having no resistance to what shouldn’t happen. Just let it unfold and witness it. In this scenario, if there’s pain, there’s pain, but there’s no drama or story.
Then create a worst-case scenario, complete with lots of drama and a compelling story!
Just see if you can do this. Now you have three options.
The point is, how much do you add to your own suffering? Without the story, the pain can just come and go, and that’s it. It hurts. You move on.
How we got the idea that life should be free from pain is something to be curious about. It seems to me that if you have a nervous system, pain is inevitable. (Although I have gone to great lengths to avoid it myself!)
Yesterday was a very busy day. I didn’t have an opportunity to work another question, but I did notice that I was applying The Work.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a presidential election coming up. There is a lot of talk in the media about it. I notice myself hearing soundbites from the candidates and their supporters or opponents and asking myself, when someone says something disturbing (that is, full of fear, contempt, hatred), “Is that true?” and “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?”
The third question to apply to the statement “My father didn’t care about me” is this:
How do I react when I believe that thought?
Okay, I’m thinking the thought and believing it’s true. Something happens. My state changes. I feel very, very contracted. I feel sad. I feel hurt. My shoulders round into a forward slump. My head drops. I feel heavy, slow grief. I feel like I want to cry.
My self-talk adds, “…and that means I’m worthless, if my own father doesn’t care about me. I feel ashamed of who I am. Something must be wrong with me.”
It also reminds me of other times when I felt hurt that someone didn’t care about me. Images of a few faces pop into my mind.
My dad died years ago, but if he were still around and lucid, given who I am now, I’d want to tell him, “Do you know that for much of my life, I felt like you didn’t care about me?” It wouldn’t necessarily be angry, accusatory, or blaming on my part. He’d be a very old man, after all.
I imagine he’d ask why, and I’d tell him “because you didn’t make eye contact. You didn’t look me in the eye, and I felt like you didn’t really see me, like I was invisible, like you could not ever give me your full attention, and therefore, I was unimportant to you.”
Honestly, I have no idea how a conversation like that might have gone. If he were still around, he would know whether he had Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspies have difficulty with eye contact and social norms. But even if he didn’t have it, that all of his children think he probably did says something about his social skills.
When I think that thought, “My father didn’t care about me,” I don’t like how I feel. I don’t feel much like going out and being sociable myself. It puts me in a funk.
Can you see how I’ve spun off into my own little mental and emotional world here? I’m deep in my story about “my father didn’t care about me.” I am not present.
I’ve already answered question one, “Is it true?” No, it’s not true. But when I try on believing it’s true, I understand that my belief that my thought is true causes me to pain.
Wow. I can really use this tool. Any time I am feeling unhappy or stressed about something, I can investigate what I’m thinking and do inquiry on it.
Before I started writing this post, I gave a massage, and that felt really good. I was peaceful and happy. Now, believing this thought has brought me down, disturbed my peace, brought unhappiness into my day. I’ve entered a world that isn’t real, that’s in the past or the future, that’s anywhere but here, sitting here in my trailer on my sweet new sofa with my laptop, drinking delicious cold homemade pomegranate ginger kombucha, feeling the fan blowing.
A follow-up question to this is:
Can you see a reason to drop that thought? (And please don’t try to drop it.)
Yes. Before the thought, I felt peaceful and happy. After I believed that thought was true, I felt unhappy. Reason enough.
I don’t need to drop the thought. The thought drops me because I know it’s not true.
Another follow-up question is:
Can you find one stress-free reason to keep the thought?
The only stress-free reason I can think of for keeping it is to put it on a shelf in my Museum of Old Beliefs, where it can gather dust peacefully.
My NLP practitioner training included the presuppositions of NLP. They are the central principles and ethics underlying the body of work that is NLP. I’ve found them to be very handy guidelines in life.
NLP training does not require anyone to believe them.
Rather, it invites you to try them on as if they are true and discover what happens. If you like the results, you continue to act as if they are true.
For instance, the first six presuppositions as Tom Best taught them are:
People are like mapmakers.
People’s maps are made of pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, and smells.
The map is not the territory.
People respond primarily to their maps of reality, not to reality.
If you change your map, you’ll change the way you think, feel, and act.
Many of our maps are out of our conscious awareness.
I just attended a workshop with Byron Katie this past weekend, perhaps my fourth or fifth. I thought it might be useful to look at The Work and figure out what its presuppositions are.
This, of course, is a work in progress that I will be revising as I get more clarity, and I invite anyone to add to the list and to clarify anything that isn’t clear. Just post your thoughts in the comments. I am re-reading Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, and I will be clarifying these presuppositions as I progress.
Thoughts flow through the mind because that’s a function of the mind.
My thoughts produce my reality.
When my mind is silent, it experiences pure awareness.
My true nature is pure love.
Knowing what is true and real is important.
Only I cause my suffering.
Suffering is optional.
Just because I think a thought doesn’t mean it’s true.
When I believe a thought is true, I feel and behave in certain ways.
What I believe is what hurts me.
Questioning my beliefs is a way to relieve my suffering.
I can know whether a thought is really true.
I can notice what happens when I believe a thought.
When I drop a thought that causes me suffering, I can change my experience of who I am.
There are three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.
Suffering comes from living outside of my own business.
God’s business includes anything that’s out of my control, your control, and every else’s control.
Other people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are their business.
My thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions are my business.
When I pay attention to my business, my life runs perfectly well on its own.
Everyone including me is innocent.
Everything that happens is for my own awakening, enlightenment, and joy.
This weekend I got to experience the wonderful presence and work of Byron Katie again. I’ve lost track now of how many times I’ve seen her. I love The Work, her four questions and three turnarounds that you can apply to any thought you have that causes you to suffer.
This time my friend Glenda drove down from the Metroplex to attend with me, and I reconnected with several friends who also hold Katie’s work in high esteem. I remembered to bring my copy of her book Loving What Is: Four questions that can change your life. She signed it for me, and we chatted a bit about using The Work in trauma recovery. (She says it works well.)
My dear late Neuro-Linguistic Programming teacher Tom Best included The Work in his master practitioner training. Even though The Work is not NLP, it is very NLP-like in that it uses questions to induce profound shifts at the belief and identity neurological levels of experience. Tom thought very highly of it, and I cannot think of any other non-NLP techniques that made it into his practitioner and master practitioner trainings.
I’m feeling inspired to start a new 21-day challenge: 21 days because that’s how long it takes to develop a new habit, because I would like for The Work so become so ingrained that as soon as I even start thinking a thought that is less than loving, I can ask “Is that true? Nope! What happens when I believe the thought? Who am I without the thought?” and immediately shift my state.
When I discard painful thoughts, I always feel “returned to myself” with a sense of peace, pleasure, wonder, and expansion. Imagine: We could live from that state nearly all the time!
Katie is onto something of huge importance, in my opinion, with her distinctions between what’s my business, someone else’s business, and God’s business. If what I cannot control is either someone else’s business or God’s business, then what is my business? It is being present in my own life, attending to my own experience, knowing and doing what is right for me, letting go of all stories about how things “should” be.
For my challenge, I need to make 21 copies of her Judge Your Neighbor worksheet (available online if you would like to participate too — I invite all readers willing to do the inquiry of The Work to join me). I plan to blog about it occasionally.
Today I am feeling grateful for the job interview I had yesterday. I interviewed for a three-month contract job at a big technology company yesterday.
The feedback I got from the placement agency connection afterward was that (1) I was the last person they talked to (always a good thing when interviewing because you’re fresh in their memory when they are making the hiring decision) and (2) they really liked me and my writing sample, concluding that I was capable of doing the work and would be a pleasure to work with. Apparently others they interviewed had the skills but not the attitude.
I hope to be offered this job.
My strategy during the interview was to understand their point of view and how I can do what they need to have done. I grasped it well: a custom software provider didn’t provide them with a user manual, and they needed this manual three months ago. This happens more often than it should, but that creates nice lucrative short-term job opportunities for technical writers like me.
So I step in, document what they’ve been able to figure out so far, and working with this big company’s IT department and the software developers in California, figure out and write procedures for how to do everything else.
I suggested that the user manual I write could be desirable to the software provider, and that they use that in future negotiations with the software provider.
This software provider might consider hiring me to work remotely and produce user manuals for their custom software solutions.
I might get a gig at this big technology company teaching lunchtime or after-work yoga. It’s a lot more fun than technical writing!
Will let you know what I hear!
I am grateful for insights, those little snippets of emerging knowledge that help me evolve. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my future work, refining my ideas about what I’ll do and the training I need.
Last night two alliterative words came to mind about the work I want to do with people. Blockages and beliefs.
You know the beautiful energy that infants, toddlers, and young children have, so open-hearted, present, playful, engaged, and full of life? We lose that — in essence, life teaches us that it’s not okay to be like that. We make painful trade-offs and then suppress the memories. These unconscious beliefs and blockages keep us in bondage, keep us from REALizing that our true nature is full of light, just like those beaming babies
I would like to help people recover that beautiful life-affirming energy in two ways: by learning the bodywork skills to help people release their blockages (because blockages are in the bodymind and often more accessible via the body) and working with people at the belief level to let go of beliefs that keep them in darkness and help them open up to life itself.
These two words, blockages and beliefs, are helping me identify the training I need to do the bodymindheartspirit work I want to do.
I’m thanking my bodymindheartspirit for letting those two words bubble up into my conscious mind.
I’m grateful for shared dreams. Yesterday I was introduced by a mutual friend to someone on Facebook who shares my interest in vintage trailers. I have ogled them online for months now. My new friend goes to the same websites I do and ogles the same trailers, plus ones I hadn’t considered!
A couple of days ago, I did an NLP session with a new friend, again someone I met on Facebook and looked forward to meeting in person. We had a nice long session over tea, with my cat curling up with each of us in turn.
From my perspective, we hit it off well. The rapport was good. I like this person and am learning a lot from working with him. I believe that I am helping him refine his thinking and hone his positive energy for moving in a whole new direction career-wise.
Let me clarify that. I don’t read as much as a few other people read, or as much as I read in the past, but I am a reader. I’ve been an avid reader from a young age, at times indiscriminate but now much more discerning.
It’s that Buddhist saying: “Don’t waste time.” If a book doesn’t hook me early on, I set it aside and try later. It doesn’t mean it’s not good. It just means it’s not relevant enough to what I need to learn in that moment to make the effort feel alive. Energy flows where attention goes. If there’s no energy there, why bother?
The following is a list of books I read in 2010, plan to read in 2011 (plan, not commit), read before 2010 (and mentioned on this blog) that have shaped my world, and reference books that I dip into but will probably not read cover to cover. Links are included to the books’ pages on Amazon.com; if you buy a book from clicking a link here, I’ll get a very small financial reward — which I appreciate, because blogging takes time.
I’ve mentioned a few of the 2010 books prominently, namely, The Open-Focus Brain, A Symphony in the Brain, Buddha’s Brain, The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process, and What Really Matters. You can do a search for those posts and read what I wrote if you want.