Thread: Meditation
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Old 02-24-2011, 07:19 PM
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Actually, this doesn't really help (though I appreciate the spirit in which you've offered it) - and the reason why is that body and mind are not separate, but mutually causal.

One of the things that goes on with PTSD is that the part of the brain that is active when cultivating mindfulness is exactly the same part that does hypervigilance in PTSD. It's a well recognised issue for people with PTSD who also want to meditate, because they pretty much can't do it - it's not just me - the biomachinery is too locked in 'safe mode'.

So in a certain sense, when I read what you wrote it felt a bit like being told "Broken leg? You just have to set it and let it knit and then it'll be fine" - true, but not at all relevant to dealing with being someone with a broken leg right now. For sure, as the 'observer' you can be unattached to the pain, but that still doesn't mean you can walk on it. I can know full well that the panic I experience is a product of neurochemistry, but I still experience it fully and somatically, because panic of this kind is designed to function on the amygdalic level and get you out of fatal danger before your 'reason' gets you killed by hesitating. In practice, what happens when I sit with my panic is that I become more aware of it, and it increases (like listening to your tinnitus).

Now I know that's not what you were saying, that's just how I responded - but it's kind of like those Balans office chairs that are only good for your back if your back is already pretty healthy. Your advice would be useful if I were dealing with much more attenuated symptoms than I am (a charley horse instead of a fracture ).

So. I'm doing what I can to retrain my mind/body chemistry out of the PTSD behaviour it's got into (bearing in mind that it has a 42-year head start on me, since that's when the situations that brought this on originally began to program my mind and body); but in the meantime, I'm having to find a completely different approach to getting around on mind-crutches, and this recent approach I mentioned above seems to be bearing fruit. This is a creative development for my meditation in any case, so I'm happy with what I've got, since it's way better than nothing, and way better than trying to sit with the panic and getting overwhelmed by it. I am confident that what I'm doing will aid my other approaches to overcoming the PTSD symptoms. And my background of practice and way of living in general has enabled me to contain the worst excesses of what the panic wants me to run towards/away from. Even at its worst, it hasn't been a complete nightmare, just the best part of one - and it's eased off a lot since its peak in September, when I spent a month feeling like I was on bad speed.

If this sounds a little defensive/aggressive (I can't tell if it does, but knowing what I'm like at the moment, it seems pretty likely ), then don't take it personally, please! It's just that since all this really kicked in last summer (and since I realised I've been living with PTSD Lite for decades already), I've had a lot of well-meaning advice from people who have never experienced this, a lot of which boiled down in the end to "you should just do whatever my favourite theory/practice is, and you'll get over it" and has been given to me by people who are largely uncomfortable with what I'm going through and haven't been able just to sit with the reality of it with me, instead of trying to "fix" it. And since that also describes my own relationship to it until recently, I've tried to follow their suggestions and just got more alienated instead (and felt worse for 'failing'). So I'm keeping a certain safe distance from others' suggestions thee days, since my own creative approach is still a delicate sapling at the moment.

I'm very lucky to have a good friend who has been dealing with worse PTSD symptoms than me for over 20 years now, because we both "get" each other's experience, and can help each other negotiate it when we get too overidentified with one particular aspect of it - without competing, and without trying to fix each other.

To me, the middle way, then, is to be able to experience what's really happening: to neither push parts of it away (try to fix the parts I don't like) nor get swamped/overwhelmed by it (overidentify with just one part of my experience). The "what's really happening" is that my neurochemistry has me in a state of constant mild-to-medium panic, and I can't turn that off, and I need (and now newly have) something good and spacious and loving running alongside of that experience, as and when moments arise where I'm able to cultivate that. Good enough .

Last edited by yoxi; 02-24-2011 at 07:23 PM.
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