Saturday, November 11, 2017

Minding the Mind

     WHILE feeling safe & loved, WE ENGAGE in exploration, play, & cooperation.
     WHILE feeling frightened & unwanted, managing feelings of fear & abandonment TAKES OVER. 
       Underlined words from: Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015.

       How rarely we feel completely safe & loved! Perhaps even more sad is being so used to feeling frightened & unwanted, that we assume this to be "normal".

     Safe & loved feels like: 
while hugging someone you love & who loves you; 
while looking after a 2-year-old grandchild; 
while holding a puppy's face in your hands & staring into each other's eyes; 
while doing work that you find very meaningful & rewarding eg preparing a delicious, healthy meal for loved ones; 
while "struck speechless" by the beauty of nature;  
while quietly reading a book that you love; etc.

      Frightened & unwanted feels like: 
"craving" - lacking, unloved, lonely, alone, small, vulnerable, afraid, anxious, longing, empty, hungry, thirsty, impotent, needy, wishing "if only I could have / do / be X, THEN I would be happy"; 
"aversion" - angry, bitter, hating, intolerant, judgmental, disgusted, cynical, rigid, violent, wishing "if only I could avoid / prevent / eliminate X, THEN I would be happy"; 
"delusion & confusion" - not being able to see things as they are, but only from the heavily biased perspective of our own troubled mind-heart. We feel disoriented, confused, troubled, bored, forgetful, hopeless, nihilistic, sick-and-tired of our repetitive thoughts / self-talk, moods & how our mind works, wishing for clarity, to wake up from what feels like a nightmare. 

     It's critically important for our own & others' quality of life, and even safety & survival, that we detect as early as possible, when we feel frightened & unwanted or any of it's many manifestations. 
     If this "life-or-death" alarm bell is a false alarm or gross exaggeration - and in modern times it almost always is - then we can, and I humbly suggest that we must, intentionally train ourselves to quickly shift back into feeling safe & loved with its associated wise, kind, conscious behavior.

     Of course we all tend to think that most others certainly behave from this primitive survival-based (frightened & unwanted) level of consciousness, we ourselves are, if not consistently, then mostly reside in the evolved wisdom-based (safe & loved) level of consciousness & behavior. 
     So how do these statements sound?: “No one to be, nothing to do, nowhere to go” and: "Whatever appears in the mind, just say ‘This isn’t my business. It’s impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.’" 
     If these sound strange, if not irritatingly "against the grain" of all that we know, then we are usually in survival mode, and WHILE we are, survival mode is at least distorting if not completely controlling all our thoughts, emotions & behavior. We've all had varying amounts of trauma in our lives, but few of us think we've had enough to cause PTSD. But what if ALL of us suffer from some degree of PTSD?

    Mindfulness training involves learning practices with which we intentionally, consciously, continuously, notice as soon as we're in this primitive survival-based (frightened & unwanted) level of consciousness, accept it as our natural biological heritage, then effortlessly shift back into our natural evolved wisdom-based (safe & loved) level.

Katie Hoffman      "TU"

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