Finding Inner Calm and Deeper Wisdom

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Archive for the ‘trauma’ Category

Prison or Paradise?

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I live day-to-day inside a paradise or a prison—depending upon what day it is. And/or what conditions I’m living in at the time.

The body can be a wonderful place. Its joys and pleasures are the subject of much of the world’s music and art. Eating a delicious meal, being intimate with a lover, spending time in nature—I could fill up the rest of this page with the joys of living life.

The body also can be a torture chamber. It is subject to sickness and diseases that inflict horrible pain and suffering. As soon as you reach adulthood, the body has already begun breaking down from aging. Its various failures begin to limit the joys and pleasures you otherwise might enjoy. Organs and limbs no longer work like they once did. You can’t eat this or that, and you can’t do many things you used to do. If you’re fortunate, your slowly deteriorating body gives you good days and bad days. Your chief focus is to get through the bad days and taste the joys—as much as possible—of the good days.

It gets worse. The older you get, the more bad days you have, and the fewer good days. Dammit, old age sucks. On some of the baddest of the bad days, you think about how nice it might be to be released from your body. To be free of your bodily pain and limitations. How wonderful it might be to move on to whatever comes after this. Of course, you don’t know for sure what comes afterward—if anything. But the chances are good that you would at least be released from this bodily torture.

So now, after all this whining and complaining, what am I offering you in return for reading my blathering? I always feel compelled to offer something useful—something positive—in return for reading my stuff. Okay, here it is: It’s Zen.

More specifically, it’s the Original Zen that was taught by Bodhidharma.

So here’s a question: What if I had to make a choice between all the pain meds and anti-inflammatories the doctor could give me—versus my Zen practice? Which would I choose? If you’ve read much of my stuff, you know the answer to that.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

August 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Ease Your Troubled Mind

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I’ve discovered a new inner mechanism—a mental resource for inner development—that I hadn’t known about. Perhaps hundreds of people may already have discovered the same thing. A few of them may even have written about it. But let me explain it this way:

People have difficulty being present in the moment because of their noisy, non-stop minds. From my experience working with people, the worst of the worst are people who have unresolved issues with past trauma. And that covers the majority of our population.

Recent research shows trauma is not merely remembered by the mind, but it actually changes brain structure. Trauma changes the way a person thinks and feels. Trauma reprograms people’s behaviors, often forcing them to react in the same way as the time the original trauma happened. As a result, a person’s mind can be hijacked over and over by something that happened in the past.

This is known as Post Traumatic Stress, or PTS. Previously it was called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But the psychiatric community decided to quit calling it a disorder, so the “D” was dropped.

Perhaps the most significant thing to know about PTS is it damages your your mind. Most significantly it damages your ability to control your mind.

For example, there you are, sitting on your meditation cushion, trying to calm your out-of-control conscious mind. But stress from some past trauma (that you may not even remember) is forcing your mind to go round and around like a rat in a roundhouse.

What to do?

In the short-term, improve your skills in Zen meditation. Then, the long-term solution is using your Zen practice to stop those rat-in-roundhouse thinking patterns, allowing you to be fully present where you are.

Each time you feel fear and anxiety forcing your mind into those round-and-round, out-of-control thought patterns, you must relax, breath deeply, and pull yourself back into the Zen state. As you do that repeatedly, over and over for many meditations, you can gradually undo the programming damage that was done by previous trauma.

The magic is this: Each time you feel threatened by your PTS, put yourself into a peaceful present-to-the-moment state of mind . You will gradually, over time, change your programmed responses. Instead of reacting with overwhelming fear and suffering from whatever stimulus formerly caused stress, your mind will react instead by creating a peaceful state. All it takes is practice. Lots of practice.

You can use the Zen state in almost any conceivable situation. You can use it to put yesterday and tomorrow out of your mind, and allow yourself to be in the peaceful experience and awareness of now.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

June 17, 2015 at 7:46 pm