The Earth Plays music
for those who listen
I “stumbled” onto one of their introductory workshops in the 1980’s. I had already been certified in hypnosis but was never comfortable with the idea that as the hypnotherapist I held the key, I had the power, to create change.
When I attended that first AGI workshop it was a eureka moment for me. The process and technique of Interactive Guided Imagery(sm) Marty and David were teaching was how I intuitively did hypnosis: The client held the key, the power, I was the guide. Marty and David are brilliant and innovative. I was hooked and went on to study with both of them and served as an AGI faculty, teaching other health care practitioners how to do Interactive Guided Imagery(sm) since 1988.
I “stumbled” across this video of Marty Rossman and want to share what he teaches about the mind and how you hold the key and the power to create calm.
“Physician, author, speaker, researcher, and consultant Martin L. Rossman, MD, discusses how to use the power of the healing mind to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, change lifestyle habits, and live with more wellness.” THE HEALING MIND.org
In Part I we described ways the Pandemic has created massive amounts of loss and how it can manifest itself in physical symptoms we don’t always ascribe to grieving. OUR COMMENTS ARE IN RED
Here are excerpts from a WEBMD article on Normal vs. Pathological Grief
“Depression is not a normal part of grief, but a complication of it. Depression raises the risk of grief-related health complications and often requires treatment to resolve, so it’s important to know how to recognize its symptoms. Sidney Zisook, MD, a grief researcher and professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, says people can distinguish normal grief from depression by looking for specific emotional patterns.”
“In normal grief, the sad thoughts and feelings typically occur in waves or bursts followed by periods of respite, as opposed to the more persistent low mood and agony of major depressive disorder,” Zisook says.”
“He says people usually retain “self-esteem, a sense of humor, and the capacity to be consoled or distracted from the pain” in normal grief, while people who are depressed struggle with feelings of guilt and worthlessness and a limited ability “to experience or anticipate any pleasure or joy.”
“Complicated grief differs from both depression and normal grief. M. Katherine Shear, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and director of its Center for Complicated Grief, defines complicated grief as “a form of persistent, pervasive grief” that does not get better naturally. It happens when “some of the natural thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that occur during acute grief gain a foothold and interfere with the ability to accept the reality of the loss.”‘
Symptoms of complicated grief include:
(NOTE: Rumination has also been show to be our cognitive brain and our emotional brain locked in a feedback loop which is set to protect us from further harm. Negative, ruminations are not because of personality or intelligence but a function of brain processes. We can break into this process by forcing our thinking into neutral or positive thoughts but it takes effort to do so and over-ride the brain’s natural stress response.)
“Rumination and other forms of avoidance demand energy and block the natural abilities of the body and mind to integrate new realities and heal. Research by Stroebe, and others shows that avoidance behavior makes depression, complicated grief, and the physical health problems that go with them more likely. Efforts to avoid the reality of loss can cause fatigue, weaken your immune system, increase inflammation, and prolong other ailments.”
This Pandemic has created loss of the most essential kinds – identity, connection, income safety, isolation from support systems and people, even loss of our daily routines and conveniences.
Initially, we are mobilized to find new ways of coping, new ways of living within the confines of an unseen threat. At some point grief follows, the natural response to loss of any and all kinds. We typically think of grieving as an emotional response but the first signs can sometimes appear in ways we don’t label as grieving.
What causes these physical symptoms? A range of studies reveal the powerful effects grief can have on the body:
“In normal, situational grief, the sad thoughts and feelings typically occur in waves or bursts followed by periods of respite. People usually retain “self-esteem, a sense of humor, and the capacity to be consoled or distracted from the pain” in normal grief.
What Can You Do to Cope With Grief?
Emotional and physical self-care are essential ways to ease complications of grief and boost recovery. Exercising, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep, and talking to loved ones can help with physical and mental health.
“Most often, normal grief does not require professional intervention. Grief is a natural, instinctive response to loss, adaptation occurs naturally, and healing is the natural outcome,” especially with “time and the support of loved ones and friends.”
For many people going through a hard time, reaching out is impossible. If your friend is in grief, reach out to them.
Grief researchers emphasize that social support, self-acceptance, and good self-care usually help people get through grief.
And if you feel like your whole life has fallen apart, It has. Now you haven’t lost your ability to decide how to respond.
Part II will follow explaining the difference between “Situational Grief” and Compounded Grief.
Research suggests that social isolation can trigger increased heart rate, muscle tension, and lead to chronic conditions such as hypertension
“Just after a few weeks of social distancing and self-isolation because of COVID-19, we have noticed the decline in our social interactions and might have felt the change in our mental and physical health. It is being called the ‘social recession’ — a collapse in our social contacts, matching the economic recession that is looming beyond COVID-19.”
“Usually when things get tough, we tend to lean towards our personal relationships to seek their advice and support. Ironically, that is the very thing we cannot do in the current crisis. While there are no quick fix solutions to deal with increasing anxiety due to social isolation, there are ways we can smarten our approach to deal with it.”
“Begin by acknowledging that these are unprecedented times, unlike what we have seen before, hence, it is quite normal to feel anxious and lonely. It is important to know that the whole world is in the same state as us, and we are all in this together. Use this time to establish forgotten connections via technology and catch up with friends and family whom you may have been putting on the back burner because of your busy schedule. Most importantly, put the focus back on your self-care, eat well, exercise regularly, find ways to calm and focus yourself.”
With a viral epidemic encircling the globe this information may not quell fear, it won’t make those who are ill feel better but it will explain how our miraculous mind-body is ultimately trying to keep us safe.
1. Activating the immune system, however, costs your body a lot of energy. This presents a series of problems that your brain and body must solve to fight against infection most effectively. Where will this extra energy come from? What should you do to avoid additional infections or injuries that would increase the immune system’s energy requirements even more?
2. Fever is a critical part of the immune response to some infections, but the energy cost of raising your temperature is particularly high. Is there anything you can do to reduce this cost?
3. To eat or not to eat is a choice that affects your body’s fight against infection. On one hand, food ultimately provides energy to your body, and some foods even contain compounds that may help eliminate pathogens. But it also takes energy to digest food, which diverts resources from your all-out immune effort. Consuming food also increases your risk of acquiring additional pathogens. So what should you eat when you’re sick, and how much?
(“Of course these changes depend on the context. While it may make sense to reduce food intake to prioritize immunity when the sick individual has plenty of energy reserves, it would be counterproductive to avoid eating if the sick person has malnutrition or on the verge of starvation.”)
“This kind of coordinating program is what some psychologists call an emotion: an evolved computational program that detects indicators of a specific recurrent situation. When the certain situation arises, the emotion orchestrates relevant behavioral and physiological mechanisms that help address the problems at hand.”
Some of these coordinating programs line up nicely with our understanding about what makes up an emotion. We understand the emotion of fear when in reality or imagination we think we are threatened by a threat OUTSIDE our body. For example:
“Imagine you’re walking through the woods, thinking you’re alone, and suddenly you are startled by sounds suggesting a large animal is nearby. Your pupils dilate, hearing becomes attuned to every little sound, your cardiovascular system starts to work harder in preparation for either running away or defending yourself. These coordinated physiological and behavioral changes are produced by an underlying emotion program that corresponds to what you might think of as a certain kind of fear.”
“This way of thinking has helped researchers understand why some emotions exist and how they work. For instance, the pathogen disgust program detects indicators that some potentially infectious agent is nearby. Imagine you smell the stench of feces: The emotion of disgust coordinates your behavior and physiology in ways that help you avoid the risky entity.”
“These coordinated physiological and behavioral changes are produced by an underlying emotion program that corresponds to what you might think of as a certain kind of fear.
Some psychologists suggest these emotion programs likely evolved to respond to identifiable situations that occurred reliably over evolutionary time, that would affect the survival or reproduction of those involved.”
The next time you “feel” sick try to remember your mind-body wants you to survive.
This article was originally published on The Conversation by Joshua Schrock.
If you are irritable, less motivated, sad, or even angry, depressed,you are not alone. With loss there is a grief reaction. Not only are we dealing with loss of life, loss of mobility, choice, sense of safety, during this current time our emotional reactions are compounded by anxiety & fear.
It’s easy not to recognize less obvious, existential and secondary lossesbut important to honor our own losses even if those losses seem small compared to others. Left unrecognized grief can negatively impact our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
We can’t deal with, or heal, what we aren’t aware of
Consider how you feel when you think of these losses:
Grief is not a problem to be solved
Before I was licensed I was the director of a Rape Trauma program. It proved to be wonderful training and in private practice I went on to successfully treat people with all manners of traumatic experiences from being in airplane crashes to being buried alive. However, one of the hallmarks of trauma is disturbed or disrupted sleep. No matter what suggestions I had or what the clients tried, including sleep medications, didn’t often help.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst asked more than 100 healthy adults to rate their emotional responses to a series of images, some depicting unsettling scenes. Twelve hours later, they rated the images again. The difference: Half of the subjects slept during the break; the other half did not.
“Not only did sleep protect the memory, but it also protected the emotional reaction,”said Rebecca Spencer, a neuroscientist at UMass Amherst and co-author of the study that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Study subjects who stayed awake for 12 hours had a weaker emotional response to the unsettling images the second time around, suggesting sleep serves to preserve and even amplify negative emotions. Their memories were also weaker than those of their well-rested counterparts, as they struggled to remember whether they had seen the images before.
“It’s true that ‘sleeping on it’ is usually a good thing to do,” said Spencer, citing evidence that sleep boosts memory and other cognitive functions. “It’s just when something truly traumatic or out of the ordinary happens that you might want to stay awake.”
Spencer said people often find it difficult to sleep after a traumatic event.”
“This study suggests the biological response we have after trauma might actually be a healthy,”she said. “Perhaps letting people go through a period of insomnia before feeding them sleeping meds is actually beneficial.”
While the findings may have implications for post traumatic stress disorder, Spencer emphasized that daily emotional ups and downs are not grounds for sleep deprivation.
“Just because we have a bad day doesn’t mean we should stay awake,” she said. “We need to maintain some memories and emotional context to know what to avoid. We do learn something from them.”
This post was originally posted on Curious to the Max. Click here to see other Curious posts.
This stress and anxiety QUICK technique is my favorite. I’ve taught it, shared it, used it for years and it just occurred to me, why not post it! So for those of you who suffer from anxious thinking or under stress here’s a simple technique that works.
Sound too simple!? A brain is easily fooled in that it can NOT tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) and when we perceive danger through thoughts or other cues.
Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of – Your brain will register “danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear/anxiety. Watch a sad movie – Your brain will flood you with sadness and if you are like me, you’ll sob like a baby. Neither are real but your brain doesn’t know and reacts to protect you as if it is actually happening.
Soooooooooo, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop flooding you with the neurochemistry related to fear and anxiety.
Originally posted on Curious to the Max.Click here to see more from Curious to the Max
During our 30+ years as psychotherapists we never had to address the fear and uncertainty the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic has created. The disruption to individual lives and society is surreal.
I’m so relieved to know that my urge to read the Tabloid Headlines at the check-out stand means I’m highly adaptive in the food chain . . . if not the food market.
Psst! The Human Brain Is Wired For Gossip
by Jon Hamilton
“Hearing gossip about people can change the way you see them — literally.
Negative gossip actually alters the way our visual system responds to a particular face, according to a study published online by the journal Science.
“Gossip is helping you to predict who is friend and who is foe,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University and an author of the study.
Barrett is part of a team that’s been studying how gossip affects not just what we know about an unfamiliar person but how we feel about them. The team has shown that getting second-hand information about a person can have a powerful effect.
But Barrett and her team wanted to answer another question: Once hearsay has predisposed us to see someone in a certain way, is it possible that we literally see them differently?
It makes sense when you consider that the human brain has lots of connections between regions that process visual information and areas involved in our most basic emotions, Barrett says.
Volunteer subjects looked at faces paired with gossip. Some of these faces were associated with negative gossip, such as “threw a chair at his classmate.” Other faces were associated with more positive actions, such as “helped an elderly woman with her groceries.”
Participants in the study were shown a neutral face paired with (A) negative gossip, (B) positive gossip, (C) neutral gossip, (D) negative non-social information, (E) positive non-social information, and (F) neutral non-social information. When the study participants viewed the faces again, their brains were more likely to fix on the faces associated with negative gossip.
Then the researchers looked to see how the volunteers’ brains responded to the different kinds of information. They did this by showing the left and right eyes of each person very different images. So one eye might see a face while the other eye would see a house.
The finding suggests “we are hardwired to pay more attention to a person if we’ve been told they are dangerous or dishonest or unpleasant.”
“If somebody is higher than you in the food chain, you want dirt about them. You want negative information, because that’s the stuff you can exploit to get ahead.”
“Even when primitive humans lived in small groups, they needed to know things like who might be a threat and who was after a particular mate, McAndrew says. And learning those things through personal experience would have been slow and potentially dangerous”, he says.
One shortcut would have been gossip.
“People who had an intense interest in that — that constantly were monitoring who’s sleeping with who and who’s friends with whom and who you can trust and who you can’t — came out ahead,” he says. “People who just didn’t care about that stuff got left behind.”
“And it makes sense that our brains pay special attention to negative gossip”, McAndrew says.
“If somebody is a competitor or somebody is higher than you in the food chain, you want dirt about them,” he says. “You want negative information, because that’s the stuff you can exploit to get ahead.”
Originally posted on Curious to the Max. Click here for more on Curious to the Max
This information is from http://theworrysolution.com by Dr Marty Rossman.
Togetherness, particularly if it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week can create stress and unresolved, unrelieved tension.
The rosy pictures of family harmony isn’t always rosy. As psychotherapists we were privy to the fact that being cooped up with family, whether in a family business or on-demand family functions, often brings out the worst in people and interpersonal relationships.
When you ____________________ Fill in with a SPECIFIC, identifiable, VISIBLE, concrete BEHAVIOR. No generalizations or blame, like “you hurt me”.
I feel _________________________ Fill in with an emotion – angry, happy, sad, frustrated, mis-understood, devalued . . . etc. Do NOT BLAME and say “I feel that YOU ________”
I want you to ________________ Fill in with a SPECIFIC, identifiable, concrete BEHAVIOR
Example: When you walked away when I was talking. (WALKED AWAY is a behavior)
I felt devalued. I want you to stay, listen
“Repeated studies have found that people prone to depression can get worse if they excessively dwell or ruminate on a stressful incident such as a quarrel or a loss. But experiments by Exeter University psychologists have found that when individuals practised running emotional incidents through their head, focusing on sensory details and recalling exactly what happened, how it happened, and even where it happened, it helped them respond constructively and stopped them becoming so upset about a future or past stressful experience.“
“Psychologists at the University of Exeter have found that recalling (imagining, NOT vocalizing) the detail of shouting matches and disagreements, including exactly who said what to whom and how, may not be destructive and prolong the tension, but could help people keep incidents in perspective and stop the triggering of self-doubt and even depression.”
“After training to recall the details of an upsetting incident including the tone of a voice, the words used and how the event happened, people became more resilient and put the upsetting incident into context, stopping a downward spiral into low mood.”
“The same exercise of focusing on the sensory details of sad experiences and asking “How did it happen?” “How can I do something about it?” was also found to speed up recovery from doing badly on a test in undergraduates, and to improve interpersonal problem solving, such as finding a way to make up with your partner after an argument, in people who were currently or formerly depressed.”
I JUST ADDED THIS: Some of these tips are general, suggesting a mindset to cultivate. Others are more specific in advising you what to do in the moment.
We’ve picked out some Curious Critters that lend themselves for for quick & easy coloring. Embellish them, add patterns, squiggles and make them your own.
Scroll down for more posts in this series.
I (Judy) have taken 2 of the courses and they were excellent. Since I don’t need any more degrees or certifications I never did the papers or took the tests . . . just watched the lectures and did the reading. There is a large catalogue of classes from colleges and universities all over the WORLD. Fabulous resource.
The at-home workouts are streaming on the company’s Facebook page, open to anyone, including non-members.
Because I love all of you I (Peggy) sacrificed myself and tried two Planet Fitness on-line workouts.
The workouts were actually great! The instructors made it easy to follow all the exercises, all of which could be modified to easier levels.
To make sure all of you could do the routines I did the easier levels, even though I didn’t NEED to, of course . . .
I am recovering from a sprained ankle and didn’t want to jump on my foot, so I was clever enough to figure out ways to keep both feet on the ground. (I couldn’t think of other excuses to modify more exercises but carefully watched how they were done.)
Instructors do warm ups and cool downs. Have a chair handy and water. You get 15 second rests in between the exercises.
Another thing I liked is the instructor stopped exercising in order to continue talking. That allowed me to stop early too so I could hear what he was saying without the distraction of exercising. . . The workouts are scheduled for 4pm PST. I was late but no one said anything. There are many workout videos on the Planet Fitness Facebook page so if you’re late I’m positive they’ll let you in the class.
“NASA’s website has a plethora of opportunities for kids and adults alike to learn more about astronomy and spaceflight. Whether you want to be an astronaut, kill some time learning about the universe or help the agency work on future space exploration activities, there’s no lack of things to do.”
“So, if you’re looking for a little out-of-this-world escapewhile you’re stuck at home, There is a list of free space-themed activities from NASA to keep you occupied.”
For the Foodie
If you don’t know what a “foodie” is you are probably around the same age as Peggy & Judy. For all you “oldies” . . . “gastronome” and “epicure” define the same thing. If you don’t know what gastronome and epicure mean it’s a person who enjoys food for pleasure.
Scroll down to see other posts in this series.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you. Here’s today’s bit of my wisdom.
Get out of the house. Just remember to keep 6 feet of distance from other people, Find an area where you won’t encounter crowds.
Sports fans are going bonkers since all the games are canceled or have no spectators. Don’t go bonkers, it’s not becoming, unless you are in a parking lot, eating hot dogs and drinking beer from the back of your pick-up truck. Do these things instead:
The constant flood of precautions and warnings, whether it’s from the medical authorities or recirculated, dubiously-sourced information on social media, can take a toll on our mental health.
The uncertainty of what a pandemic portends for our future, the drastic changes it means for the present can be unnerving.
It’s ok, it’s normal, to feel anxious and stressed when everything familiar has seemingly come to a halt in the entire world and when experts, whom we normally turn to, have no answers, no treatments and are impacted in the same way we are. We feel helpless and our fears are heightened when we can’t see or predict where the threat may strike.
A virus can’t be seen by the naked eye. It’s threat is abstract. Writing things down makes the worries concrete and stops your brain from going over and over the worries. Here’s what to write to reassure your brain that you’ll remember everything it’s been reminding you of. You may do all steps at once or over several days.
1. List what specific threats worry you.Do you think you will catch the coronavirus and die? (The fear of death taps into one of our core existential fears.) Someone you love falls ill? Would you need treatment? What would happen if self quarantine was necessary? Not able to work? No access to support or childcare?
Keep writing small fears, big fears, rational and irrational, until you can’t think of anything else.
2. Mark the ones that are REALISTIC. Consider your personal risk and how likely it is that you will actually come in contact with the virus, lose work, etc.
3. Write down what you are in CONTROL of – what you are currently doing and what you might consider doing.
4. Make a plan – Brainstorm options and write them down even if they seem out-of-reach or impractical. Being prepared for your fears will help keep them in scale.
5. Review and add, delete, rearrange, update all the steps frequently to keep your brain in the know.
There are ways to reach out that don’t demand a lot of time or energy. Examples: Double the recipe you are making and give half to a neighbor, donate money, (if you have the means) to a reputable charity, write a letter or a note to someone in quarantine, e-mail friends who are isolated . . .
Talking to friends about the latest news, outbreak cluster or your family’s contingency plans is a good idea so you don’t feel alone. However, if you are overwhelmed, don’t seek out someone who also is overwhelmed. Find someone who does not support or inflame you on your anxiety and can provide some advice. Always consider professional help which can be short-term. Most psychotherapists and doctors are offering phone sessions. There are community agencies or religious clergy that are free or low fee.
Pay attention to your daily basic needs- healthy practices that affect your wellbeing.
If you haven’t practiced self-care, NOW is the time to create healthy habits that will last after this crisis is over.
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you.
CULTURED: characterized by refined taste and manners and good education.
cultivated, artistic, enlightened, civilized, educated, well read, well informed, discerning, discriminating,
sophisticated, urbane, intellectual, scholarly, erudite
Dear Freddie Fans,
Because I’m not allowed to go anywhere without a leash I KNOW how to cope. This week I will share what you humans can do. Since I’m Editor-in-Canine-Chief for several blogs I have a trove of posts to share with you. Each day I’ll share a bit of my wisdom.
Here’s my first recommendations for HUMANS
Ya Gotta Take Care of your Mental Health.
Keep your paws busy:
See ya tomorrow.
In uncertain times we all need help to calm our fears so that our bodies are not flooded with stress hormones & neurochemicals.
A placebo is NOT imaginary but creates biological changes in the brain that actually ease our symptoms and are very similar to the biological changes when we take drugs.
There are many DOCUMENTED placebo effects, depending on what we think a treatment is going to do for us. Examples:
Stress and anxiety — if we feel that we are in danger or under threat, the brain raises its sensitivity to symptoms like pain. Whereas, if we feel safe and cared for and things are going to get better soon, we relax and are not so alert to symptoms.
Physiological mechanisms like conditioning* – We can all be conditioned to have physiological responses to a stimulus, even immune responses. For example, take a pill that suppresses your immune system and on another occasion take a similar looking placebo pill, with no active drug, your body will mimic same immune response. Astonishingly, it doesn’t even matter if you know it’s a placebo.
Like a muscle, the more you exercise any part the stronger it gets.
Brains are shaped by our thoughts and behaviors. Research shows your brain structure, neurochemical and electrical activity responds to and reflects how you think throughout your life. For example: If you play a musical instrument, speak a second language, train for athletics for eight hours a day – the parts of your brain responsible for performing those activities gets more active and larger.
If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day parts of the brain involved in the stress response get larger and other parts of the brain actually deteriorate. Consequently, the very brain circuits we need to counter stress no longer work as well as they should.
It’s not as simple as saying, “I’m going to change how I think now. I’m not feeling stressed.” It takes a long time to change your brain.
When stressed, the brain influences your body AND the body influences your brain. The stress response speeds up your breathing to pump more oxygen when your brain perceives danger, either real or imaginary. If you deliberately speed up your breathing when not stressed you’ll start to feel more aroused and on edge. The opposite is true: Slow your breathing down, forcing your body into a more relaxed state. Your brain responds with more calming thoughts and feelings.
* Ivan Pavlov, a physiologist, conditioned dogs so that whenever he gave them food he made a noise, like ring a bell. Eventually the dogs associated the bell with their food and they would salivate just to the sound of the bell.
Non-stop writing, stream of consciousness, free writing . . . it doesn’t matter what you call it – it can change your brain, change your day.
It can be anything in the past, the present or the future.
Don’t use a keyboard since the act of writing with your hand is important. Your small muscle movement is expressive (much like artistic expression, your handwriting is unique to you). It doesn’t matter if it’s legible or beautiful as your hand movement registers with your brain in ways that tapping out letters on a keyboard do not.
If you’re constantly and chronically stressed out, sleep-deprived, malnourished, or dehydrated over time your immune function will weaken.
Repeat these steps several times for best results.
With continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing becomes easier, Easier, EASIER.
After you get the hang of it, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing . . . without using your hand.
I’m not a worrier by nature but during the past weeks and all the uncertainty about Covid-19 spreading throughout the world plus the fact that I have underlying medical conditions (I’m not mentioning my age!) I have had trouble falling asleep.
Tossing and turning, it took me 2 hours to realize my entire body was tense.
I relaxed my muscles. They tensed up again. I relaxed again. Muscles from head to toe tensed up again and again as if I were a trained athlete who had practiced so many times my muscle memory was so strong practice was no longer needed.
Flashing before my eyes was every therapy session I’ve ever had with anyone who had anxiety, PTSD, was a caretaker, had a sick loved one, experienced loss of any kind, anticipated loss, was in pain or had a medical condition. . . .
I know that our brains automatically perceive danger in any emotional, physical or imagined threat and sends signals to our bodies to ready us to flee or fight off our enemy. Muscle tension is needed for running like hell or slugging it out – now’s not the time to relax if you want to live.
I’ve taught one of the very best, easiest mind-body techniques that calms the brain hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. It absolutely works and only took me an hour of tossing and turning to remember to use it myself.
1. Take a deep breath through your nose.
2. Hold the breath for just a moment
3. As you release the breath, through your nose, very gently, silently say: “Thank you brain, I’m safe.” (Be kind to your brain. It’s just trying to keep you from being eaten alive)
Our brains are relatively simple in that brains can not tell the difference between when we are actually in danger (anxiety is our brain’s way of keeping us on alert for danger so we can survive) or when we imagine danger through thoughts or other cues.
Imagine a snake, a spider, anything that you are afraid of. Your brain will signal “danger! danger!” and flood your cells with the neurochemistry of fear. Watch a sad movie and your brain will flood you with the neurochemistry of sadness and, if you are like me, sob like a baby.
So, tell your brain you are safe and it will stop the neurochemistry of fear and anxiety.
Yoga, meditation, mindfulness prayer, listening to relaxation recordings all help. However, to break into a CHRONIC cycle you need to chronically signal your brain to stop sending the neurochemistry of the stress response to your body. Let your brain know that no one is throwing grenades at you, animals are not trying to eat you alive, you are SAFE.
You HAVE to breathe anyway so you’ve got nothing to lose — except your stress response!