Morning download, 3.1.19

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 this 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 had undiagnosed PTSD for decades — 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. Savor and enjoy them when they come.

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 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. ,

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 include that some of the memories from the time of the trauma remained veiled from my conscious mind for a long time.

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.

Facing forward, however, 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 now that unconsciously reminds you of your trauma in the past, and you react sharply, get flooded with stress hormones, have 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 safe? Are you in imminent danger? If the answer is no, then you get to wait it out while your system rebalances itself. Acupuncture and supplements for adrenal depletion can be very helpful.

Beautiful self-care helps 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 poetry or music. Do restorative yoga. Walk in nature. Spend time with a loving friend.

So afterwards, trauma resides in memories and the ANS. Build yourself a vast library 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!

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 at least 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.

Beautiful movements: murmuration, Northern lights, primary respiration

When birds do this, it’s called a murmuration, and it’s a wonder of nature.

 

Love this beautiful video below of the Northern lights.

In biodynamic craniosacral therapy sessions, we get in touch with movements like these within and around the human body. Called primary respiration, the long tide, or the breath of life, these are the movements of the fluid body (emotional body) healing itself according to its own agenda, called the inherent treatment plan.

It arises from stillness and silence.

Experiencing this in your body is a mysterious, beautiful miracle of nature.

Letting the light in

Christmas morning, 2012. I’m house- and pet-sitting Mango. It’s going to be a quiet day of solitude — I accidentally left my phone at my trailer last night. So be it. Today it can wait.

My family is gathering on the 27th, when more of us are able to gather. Hospitals are open every day of the year and someone has to care for those sick people, and children of divorced parents usually split their holidays, and sometimes people move over the holidays. I am grateful to have a family to connect with at all.

Last night I attended a warm, lovely Christmas Eve potluck and jam session in a friend’s magical backyard. Sitting outside watching the waxing, near-full moon behind a big, ever-changing, cloud-studded sky, a few stars playing peekaboo, was quite enjoyable.

So much of this season is about darkness and light. It must have been a mystery to our ancestors, especially in the far northern latitudes of Europe where mine lived for so long, to observe the days growing shorter and shorter, the life-giving light and heat of the sun retreating while the cold and dark established themselves firmly. Would the sun return? Was this the end? The warmth of family and community gathering in spite of the backdrop of long, cold nights must have been especially meaningful in the face of this big cold mystery. It was to me, last night.

This must have been mysterious enough that ancient investigators began to measure changes in day length and discovered a pattern that included the winter solstice, the turning point in which the days begin to grow long again, that happened year after year. The predictability must have lent considerable order to chaos and thus been worthy of great celebrations, once they figured it out.

No wonder this time of year is celebrated by so many cultures, that the birth of God’s son was moved to this powerful time of year.

I had an urge this Christmas morning to open all the blinds at the house where I’m staying, to let as much light in as possible.

Today the skies are partly cloudy, here in Austin, TX, where winter exists but only in spurts. Today the sunshine comes and goes. The bare branches of the deciduous trees appear silhouetted against that sky.

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I’ve always appreciated winter for the way it strips away the leaves, exposing the bone structure of trees. Perhaps that’s a reason I’m drawn to giving massage — to feel through the soft tissues to the solid bone within — or to investigating and appreciating the power of the season.

The wind is blowing. The branches are waving, the remaining leaves fluttering and quivering. Hello.

I’m having a breakfast of cooked quinoa with currants, a little ghee, and honey, along with a new favorite, a delicious three-ginger tea (ginger, galangal, and turmeric from Pukka, a British purveyor of organic and Ayurvedic herbal products), a clementine and grapefruit juice. I forgot to buy special food for Christmas morning, and I’m not missing it. Oh, I’ll indulge in tamales and eggnog and sweets for a few more days and then gladly clean up my diet again. January is good for that.

Mango has been offered a bit of sockeye salmon roasted in butter, which he turned down in favor of cat treats. Go figure. Maybe we’ll sit in the sun or snuggle in a Christmas nap together later. And later I will go out, to offer chair massage to the staff at the hospital where my daughter is working, then off to another potluck and jam session with friends.

I enjoy the connections and celebrations of the season, but the most special part of this holiday to me is waking up knowing it’s Christmas, knowing it’s a holy day, a special day unlike any other, and feeling the joy of that.

Even without a gift given or received, without the feasting, without the camaraderie of my beloved family and friends, without church, music, lights, and all the traditions of the season, it’s truly just a day to be awake and to marvel in this big mystery, to be filled with gratitude and wonder for this amazing life.

As is every day!

Knowing and Mystery walked into a bar…

The Curse Of Certainty In Science And Religion : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.

Thought-provoking essay on an NPR blog (Cosmos and Culture) by Adam Frank about the only constant in life being change, and how we hunger for certainty, solidity, knowing.

Religions try to provide certainty:

Scriptures are transformed into unwavering blueprints for an unchanging order.

Science might seem the antidote to the constrictions of religion:

Science, in the purest forms of its expression as a practice, holds to no doctrine other than that the world might be known.

But:

When science as an idea is used to push away the tremulous reality of our lived existential uncertainty then it … becomes just another imaginary fixed point in a life without fixed points.

So how about “spiritual but not necessarily religious”?

The world’s history of spiritual endeavor contains many beautiful descriptions of authentic encounters with uncertainty. Ironically these often serve as gateways to the most compassionate experience of what can be called sacred in human life… Dig around in most of the world’s great religious traditions and you find people finding their sense of grace by embracing uncertainty rather than trying to bury it in codified dogmas.

For science, embracing uncertainty means…

… embracing the fuzzy boundaries of the very process of asking questions. It means embracing the frontiers of what explanations, for all their power, can do. It means understanding that a life of deepest inquiry requires all kinds of vehicles: from poetry to particle accelerators; from quiet reveries to abstract analysis.

So how can we live with so much uncertainty? We become patient, forgiving, generous, and inclusive. We find humor, good will, and compassion.

We embrace the mystery of ourselves and these lives we live. A little humility goes far.

I like knowing, or rather, believing I know. I’ve spent much of my life wanting to know, trying to know, believing if I just knew, then … I’d be protected from misfortune, or something like that.

Misfortune happened anyway.

Yet can I really know? Can I really know you? Can I really know truth? Can I even really know myself? No, I cannot.

I operate on assumptions that involve temporary (fictional) certainties. I cling to certainty from moment to moment as I go about my life, taking this-that-the other for granted, and it could all change in any given moment. Yes, tomorrow will come. Yes, I’m going to take that trip, do that thing in the future. I’m going to arrive safely on the other side of the street. I’m going to get home again. I’m going to be emotionally intact at the end of the day. I will see the people who have been important to me again.

And I don’t really know.

Knowing is a convenient truth that works better for me when I understand that it is always accompanied by something much bigger and more powerful, The Mystery. This is the sea of the Nagual.

The most abandoned TRE experience yet

Wow. I just got up off the floor after the most abandoned TRE experience yet.

I wasn’t paying that much attention as I did the exercises. I’ve learned them pretty well by now and was doing them by rote. I actually was watching, and then just listening to, a crazy Werner Herzog video called Even Dwarves Started Small, which is in German (with English subtitles), and the cast — as far as I can tell — is entirely composed of dwarves. Boisterous, noisy, German-speaking, laughing, cackling, yelling dwarves.

Whew.

So the theme tonight was chaos, and chaos I got.

The real releasing started with the last step of Exercise 7, when I placed my feet flat on the floor. It started out with my usual leg shaking. Then pelvic rocking.

Then my left hand started quivering, then my left arm was shaking, then it was wildly flapping like a crazy bird! My left shoulder got involved and at times was pounding into the floor.

It just went on and on and on. Two separate times I went through wildly chaotic lengthy releases of my left shoulder and arm.

My whole body released in a way it hadn’t before. I was not only rocking vertically, but I began to roll horizontally as well! I had some big neck releases.

Tonight as soon as I slowed and one movement ended, another one started up elsewhere in my body.

My legs got wild again, knees slamming into each other.

Now, as I type this, my whole left arm feels different, buzzing with a kind of energy I don’t ever remember feeling there.

Left shoulder. What is that? I had a rotator cuff injury several years ago that didn’t go away until months later when I finally got treatment for it. Maybe living with that pain was trauma I stored, and even though my injury healed, my energy didn’t. And now, through these exercises, my energy body is healing itself.

Then again, I’ve had many issues that these exercises could be helping me recover from: birth injury to a sacral nerve, scoliosis, PTSD.

Who knows? It’s a mystery. We’re a mystery.

I just know it’s good to release tension.

And…it’s very sexual without being sexual at all. It’s pure tension release, with that same element of abandonment and surrender to the body’s processes that really good passionate sex has.

I have a feeling that doing these exercises for a couple of months may add passion to my sex life when I have a lover again!

I wonder if distracting my conscious mind with the crazy video helped my unconscious mind let go even more.

Hmm.

My left hand just wanted to do some more releasing.

Okay. That’s better.