Mind-Body Connection: Free Resources

National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM) offers free mind-body connection resources. Learn brain training for free and get other mind body connection resources.

Source: Mind-Body Connection: Free Resources

Somehow I happened across this resource, apparently from a newsletter subscription and I’d like to pass it around as I think it offers great (free) resources and seminars as to understanding and addressing symptoms in the aftermath of trauma, commonly referred to as post-traumatic stress (PTSD). I myself am not too convinced of prolonged exposure-approaches or those based on CBT/DBT, but as I saw Bessel van der Kolk on the team as well as Dr. Peter Levine as a contributor as well as Dr. Stephen Porges, whose work takes the focus more to the domain of the (autonomous) nervous system (which I think is where trauma responses “live”), I was becoming more interested and so far, I find the information valuable and useful for anyone dealing with PTSD (and/or complex PTSD).

Viewer’s discretion is advised as with all things “exposure”, there’s always a risk of getting triggered.

The Soothing Vagus: How Our Wandering Nerve Returns Us To Calm – Reset.me

The Soothing Vagus: How Our Wandering Nerve Returns Us To Calm – Reset.me.

I think, this can be a true life saver for everyone suffering from (C-) PTSD, anxiety, depression. And it doesn’t require medication.

Tapping The Vein – LSD Psychology & The Structure Of The Unconscious – YouTube

via Tapping The Vein – LSD Psychology & The Structure Of The Unconscious – YouTube.

As it’s becoming more and more obvious that I’m very very unlikely to ever find help in the conventional medical/therapeutic system (for reasons too numerous to detail), I seem to turn to the unconventional and even illegal realm of medicinal treatment in order to get to continue to navigate this earth plane. Because my life got stripped of everything that should make life worthwhile to continue.

So, this “morning” over my usual coffee, I happened upon another interesting article on Amber Lyon’s reset.me-platform and found the above linked young man, whose own project called “The True Light of Darkness” is the follow-up of a two-part book about his a) research into and b) sharing of experiences with psilocybin mushrooms and the insights and behavioral modifications gained from that. In the context of this work I came across this video, where he talks about “COEX Systems”, a term coined by Stanislav Grof in his book LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into the Realm of the Human Unconscious. Right away it strongly resonated with my own somewhat jiggery introspection into the root cause of my own trauma and strife with ongoing emotional pain that won’t let up one bit so far (despite my very committed efforts and some help from a compassionate therapist).

There are more and more experienced and legitimate researchers and therapists coming out of the closet of conventional in-the-box-thinking in regards to so-called “mental” illness – a misnomer IMO – and their causes and how to address them. Just recently, I linked to a video with Dr. Gabor Maté, who clearly identifies trauma as the root cause of all kinds of addiction according to his experience with thousands of patients he has treated.

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t seem to have other options left as to tap into the realm of psychedelics, most notably psilocybin, in order to continue my own path. Because frankly speaking, it’s come down to either this or …. in the very near future as the pain has become utterly unbearable and conventional options fall away one after another.

The Backwards Brain Bicycle – Smarter Every Day 133 – YouTube

The Backwards Brain Bicycle – Smarter Every Day 133 – YouTube.

OK. This – is awesome!!! Treat yourself to these slightly under eight minutes in order to see living proof of how incredibly hard it is to unlearn something embossed in your neural pathways and try to relearn it in a different way! I’m now consciously taking this example totally out of context in order to illustrate how cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectic behavioral therapy with patients of PTSD are almost destined to fail. “It’s as easy as riding a bike, you’ll never forget how to ride a bike”. We all heard this saying before. This movie proves how profound the concept behind this saying actually is. It’s even more profound and spot on when your neural pathways have been trained to respond to fear in a heartbeat – over and over and over again. Think about the fear response system in survivors of PTSD as an ultra-strong muscle: You’ve been going to the gym for years on end, going from the smaller weights to the middle range ones and ultimately to the very heavy lifting. And you’ve been doing this for years and years and years. What’s the result? You’re likely to have become your own version of the “Incredible Hulk”. The brain is no different in that regard: It strengthens those neural pathways that get the most exercise. And now some treatments expect us to “reprocess” those patterns that got almost literally set in stone from reliving traumatic situations by way of getting triggered any number of times? Ridiculous!

I’ve always felt that these concepts are poorly designed to say the least – and coming from people, who simply fail(ed) to have a good understanding of what trauma actually does to a person. I feel corroborated on this “gut instinct” of mine. (I put it in quotes, because it is less of a gut instinct, but rather the – rather bitter, disillusioned – conclusion after so many failed attempts at any number and shape of conventional therapy I’ve undergone earlier in my life…).

Until learning of Rachel Hope and her story and her stunning case and recovery I had become more and more sceptical that events so profound that they impact your entire being from the ground up can be healed. I had rather been leaning towards a burgeoning assumption that dramatic events – particularly when happening very early, e.g. in infant ages – rather leave irreversible outcomes. Luckily not! So the good news is: You can be healed 100% from very unfortunate events in your past life! But it takes almost equally dramatic healing approaches in order to give the brain an opportunity to be relieved from outcomes of drastic events in a person’s life that sort of “switched” their nervous system into ongoing survival mode, which it can’t snap out of by itsself or by approaches that hinge on the prefrontal cortex as a prime lever for change. According to Rachel’s story, her recovery happened by way of a dramatic reset of the brain in that she set out on rewiring those brain areas that stored the traumatic content.

Anyway. I wish, all CBT/DBT therapists made this small video a must-see content of their education. I don’t mean to say that CBT/DBT can’t have good effects in regards to a person’s concept of self and other, emotional issues. But I’ve always felt it’s just not the appropriate angle to come from when actually an entirely different area of the brain – the fear response system, the amygdala etc. – is at the root of the problem. To me, it always sounded like fighting a giant fire with a water gun …

But apart from all that and if for no other reason – it’s still an educating and as such entertaining little clip. Enjoy!

Dr. Gabor Maté: Emotional Loss & Trauma Are the Root Cause of Addiction – Reset.me

Emotional Loss & Trauma Are the Root Cause of Addiction – Reset.me.

On Friday night, I had written a longer blog along with this video. For some reason, it vanished into the recesses of the server cloud at wordpress.com – or I was too drunk at the time to actually hit the “publish” button and closed that text window prior to saving. I don’t think this was actually the case as far as I remember, but maybe this was the universe’s/internet’s funny way of saying that my blog post sucked to begin with… 🙂 So here I am, trying to capture the thoughts and sentiments again that were sparked by this clip. First off, upon watching above linked video, I realized without a shred of a doubt that Dr. Maté is right. What he says about pain and the role it plays in an addict’s life resonates strongly with me. How am I being an addict? Well, I think, I’ve become an addict to food by way of recurring bouts of binge eating accompanied by the “bright” choice of washing said food down with fairly sizable quantities of alcohol. (they feel sizable to me, as my constantly overclocked, overheated, overcharged nervous system – a “gift” from a lifelong existing C-PTSD as I learnt in 2013 – doesn’t require large amounts of any substance to produce even wilder modes of altered consciousness). So in admitting to the fact that I have become addicted to food and quite a bit of alcohol, I just mean to say that I think I get the “addict” part of his monolog here (and since I am aware of the health risks coming from that behavior I think about replacing these choices of self medicating with cannabis, which I believe to go easier on the system according to the research I’ve done on it – and maybe even produce some welcome positive side effects in regards to physical and emotional health). The urge to soothe the pain by overeating and then slipping into a quite comfortable sedation, the latter amplified by alcohol, is a way of using these substances as a pain killer – or to drive out utter depression from sometimes feeling completely void, empty, destroyed inside. At those times, the feeling is that the sentient part of me is irreversibly shattered. (By now, I think I have come to understand this as a false assumption brought on by lingering outcomes of experiences from my early and later past growing up, which seem to have dominated my inner monolog and thought process for … well forever. But realistically speaking, for as long as I can feel anything, if even just for fleeting moments, the sentient part of my being can’t be dead. I try to remind myself of this during times of severe distress serving as an anchor for not losing sight of the goal and perspective).

When I had sat down that night to link to the video and add my personal comments, I had gone through a series of strong, negative emotions that brought me to the brink of completely freaking out with red rage over spending a couple of days at my former home. I say “former home”, because I feel that I have made a new home for myself where I currently live – and I think I did so more or less consciously, because that former home never felt much like a good home to begin with. For reasons too mundane to go into detail about, I had to accept help with money from family in recent years and in order to make it acceptable for me in some way, I tried to talk myself into the idea that this might also be an opportunity to regrow a relationship that has wreaked havoc on my very being from pretty much the get-go. So I guess I’m saying that spending those two, three days there exposed me to XXL-sized triggers, the nature of which I even believe the Buddha to have driven beyond any measure of impulse control, not to mention preserving the “sweet spot” of that heartspace of balanced and centered awareness. Needless to say that I have to make quite the effort to get more control over my life and my actions and decisions again, if I’m not to keep betraying myself completely and thus sabotage any serious attempt at healing the still lingering, deep wounds from the past and their outcomes. But I’m digressing.

Emotional loss and trauma – I think, I can say from plenty of years of personal, felt experience that Dr. Maté nails it here. There were brief moments in my more recent past and in an attempt to heal myself all by myself when I gave myself permission to feel that loss, be with that pain of having lost true connection with my former caretakers from early on, brought on by being seperated from them and then later for all the abuse that went on and prevented me from expressing the true nature of self or even getting seen and maybe even loved for it. Those things definitely didn’t happen in healthy ways and it became never more evident to me than over those recent few days.

I mention these things, because – quite naively – I believed that if I could access this deeply rooted pain over isolation and loss, and feel it and let it come out, a natural consequence would be that I’d thus release that pain from my bodymind. But I now have to admit to myself that this was indeed a short-sighted approach. “No man is an island”, the saying goes and I had to find out that this is true. In order to truly release the still largely unaddressed and unprocessed pain from my earliest days on the planet, someone has to be there with me when I’m with my pain, as Maté points out from his experience as a therapist. Apparently, it doesn’t suffice to just feel that pain and then let it come out (in quite violent emotional break- and meltdowns that sometimes lasted for hours). Apparently, the witnessing part is an important component I had overlooked and which seems necessary to experience some sort of natural bonding that should have happened much earlier and feel a sense of connection with someone in order to truly have a healing effect. And the other aspect I realize about this loss is that the need to fill that void left behind by initial emotional loss doesn’t vanish over time. Time doesn’t heal those deep wounds from the past at all. Only compassion does. At least, I hope so.

I would have preferred to do the healing all by myself. But apparently it doesn’t work that way. In terms of taking pragmatic steps, I am now happy to report that I have contacted researchers conducting clinical trials for MAPS.org and made it on a wait list for another round of phase III clinical trials some time in late 2016/2017. Frankly speaking, I have no idea how to keep going until then. I can only hope that my innate wish to live and become healthy, which has kept me going for 50 years, won’t let me down so close to the actual first-time ever prospect of experiencing a potential true recovery from those deeply engraved wounds from day one… Wish me luck, if so inclined!

Huachuma Documentary | Aubrey Marcus

Insomnia. Found this. Watched it way into sunrise. Gave it just the right feel. I must find a way to go there and get the healing I have been needing for as long as I’ve been living on this planet. I will find a way. I’ve held out this long.

Huachuma Documentary | Aubrey Marcus.

▶ Why We Need Goatherding in the Digital Age: Doug Fine at TEDxABQ – YouTube

Just watching Doug Fine speak and hear him exhale with bliss from envisioning the next morning tells me that a lot of healing potential is in this kind of lifestyle. And I’ve always been drawn to the big outdoors for as long as I can think, even as a young boy. A buddy would come by and we’d spend hours on end venturing out into the surrounding woods and communities on our bicycles, oftentimes finding fields of corn, sneaking in and treating ourselves to a little mid afternoon post-dessert snack while chatting and dreaming away, never thinking any longer into the future than the time we were expected back for supper. To be a child again… 🙂 Oh, I found this line of Doug’s presentation to ring very true for me: “We are every human being that’s ever been.” I think, he touched upon a very profound truth here. But see for your kindly inclined selves 🙂 (He’s quite entertaining!)

▶ Why We Need Goatherding in the Digital Age: Doug Fine at TEDxABQ – YouTube.

The Music Never Stopped (2011) – Plot Summary – IMDb

I’ve never had a brain tumor and from what I hear – God forbid I’ll ever contract one. But I can’t help but think that this story isn’t all too different from trauma, at least until you’ve managed to move into a spot where you feel safe enough to start processing the bad shit of the past and form a new self.

The Music Never Stopped (2011) – Plot Summary – IMDb.

(On a side note: Little did I know that music would be[come] the only accessible vehicle to me to navigate life.)

f.lux: software to make your life better (i.e. Your Sleep)

As most of us suffering from one or the other emotional condition – I reject the term “mental” disease – can attest to, impaired sleep is often a crucial aspect of our condition and not exactly helping things. To me, finding enough healthy sleep has become almost the number one priority right after breathing and other basic body functions… So I was immediately on high alert (ooops, lame pun, sorry… 🙂 ) when coming across an article advertising this nifty little piece of software today called f.lux, which filters most of the blue light from your computer’s screen according to daytime, thus simulating the natural lighting conditions and being less offensive to your brain’s melatonin production. Apparently, latest research yields strong evidence for impaired sleep in people using tablets, smartphones and computers screens later at night or right before falling asleep (and I take it us “bloggerites” make no exception there). More specifically: The blue light emitted from many of nowaday’s commodity devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops is responsible for altering the body’s circadian clock, which regulates sleep and waking time patterns. Study results indicate that it is particularly the high percentage of blue light coming from those screens that has the body “think” it was looking into the sun at mid day. In using such a device in the hours before falling asleep – which is most likely true for a lot of people working from home or needing to check their inbox one last time before going to bed – we literally seem to “program” our bodies into staying alert at a time, when the body is meant to wind down and get ready for sleep. (I know, I’m guilty as charged in that regard….). F.lux – I love the clever naming, b.t.w.! – is a little piece of software – temporarily, non-destructively – manipulating the color profile of your computer screen in such a way that most of the blue light is filtered away according to daytime and geo location.

I’ve become aware of this software and the science behind it today and immediately headed over to test drive it. Even upon first use I think I can say that I find the mellow warm light when working on the computer later at night a lot less aggressive and offensive to the eyes than the computer display’s regular blend of colors (unless it’s daytime, of course). I switched off F.lux for a moment to see the difference and it’s really an almost “tangible” one. Anyway, if you’re a person aware of your health and caring about it, you might want to try this thing (free of charge, at least for now). Follow the link below to download it for your computer.

f.lux: software to make your life better.