PTSD - Healing and a Spiritual Perspective
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PTSD - Healing and a Spiritual Perspective

Mar 21, 2019

The experience of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a great challenge. It encompasses your whole life because the mind is traumatized. A person going through PTSD is left feeling quite helpless as their reactions are mostly unconscious, so it’s difficult to predict what can be a trigger. As I shared in my previous blog on PTSD, if you’re dealing with PTSD, you’re on high alert!

Research has shown that in the brain of someone who is going through PTSD, the brain is actually fine anatomically, but what is wrong is that the brain is communicating too much. Specifically, when someone experiencing PTSD is asked to recall a traumatic memory, the brain shows that there is a heightened level of activity going on within the brain. There is an overreaction to the memory.

It is important to note here that the brain and the mind are different. The brain is an effect of the mind, just like the body and the whole physical world is an effect of the mind.

It is helpful to measure how the brain is functioning when someone is thinking about certain events. What these brain measurements show us is that those working through PTSD are highly sensitive to the world and the circumstances which make up daily life.  

Personally, I am overcoming Caregiver’s PTSD, a form of PTSD which occurs during and after having taken care of someone who is unable to care for themselves. In my case, my beloved dog. As mentioned, a person diagnosed with PTSD will experience hypersensitivity, where they have hair-trigger reactions to the simplest things. As I can only share from my own experience, here are some of the sensitivities I had and some of which I still do experience. Perhaps some of them may correlate with your experience... 

Sensitivity to...

  • Heat – Being in a hot shower too long caused me to feel claustrophobic and anxious.
  • Cold – On two separate occasions, I almost went into panic from being cold due to the winter weather.
  • Hunger – The feeling of hunger resembles the visceral physical response of fear and led to many panicky moments. I am presently still working on overcoming sensitivity to hunger.
  • Conflict – Watching others argue or be in distress led to panic. This sensitivity was quite strong that on one occasion I had to stop watching the movie Jurassic World because I couldn’t handle the final scene where the dinosaurs were fighting each other. You read that right! I was so wound up that I couldn’t watch computer animated dinosaurs fight… yikes!
  • Sound – Any sound which was sudden and/or loud triggered me and still does to some extent.
  • Light – Very bright lights or flashing lights still make me uncomfortable.
  • Fast talking – Someone mimicking a panicky person or just speaking too quickly led to some major overwhelm. I still need to ask my husband not to speak in a rushed manner.
  • Rushing around – Too many things going on at once, being in a rush or moving too fast is overwhelming.

When you are sleeping, the mind is still active and so you may also experience, like I did, the following…

  • Nightmares
  • Night terrors (panic attacks while you’re sleeping which cause you to awake in a panic)
  • Sleep paralysis

Essentially, a person going through PTSD sees the world through a filter of fear and if this is you, you want to be careful not to let the fear become your perception. You want to be very gentle with yourself as you learn to let the fear go. Reflect upon where you seem to be reacting differently than you used to. As an example, the slightest negative opinion at this point still stirs up a well of emotions for me and because I cannot live in a bubble, I have to learn how to cope. The same goes for you or the person you know who is going through PTSD. We can be careful about setting a healthy tone for our environment, but negative things are still going to trickle in, so we do have to learn how to manage and create some amazing coping mechanisms to support us!

To overcome Caregiver’s PTSD and PTSD, you have to practice calming your nervous system down. It’s been overstimulated which is why you are on high alert, irritable and fearful. Ways you can calm your nervous system down are…

  • Meditation – Train your mind to focus instead of wandering from fear thought to fear thought. Meditation also induces moments of stillness and relaxation, which is what you are trying to get your nervous system to do – relax.
  • Deep Breathing – The simple practice of a few deep breaths is incredibly relaxing and even life changing! Oxygenating your cells and releasing the old CO2 out of your system improves your physical well-being and it has also been proven that deep breathing sessions taken throughout the day help to lower inflammation (if you’ve been stressed out from PTSD then your body will reflect that tension as inflammation), turn off cancer cells and boost immunity, amoung so many other amazing benefits!
  • Smell Something Pleasant yet Potent - If you are really wound up, I find taking a deep breath while smelling something potent is extremely helpful. Personally, I like to smell eucalyptus oil to help me out of a stressful or fearful moment. I take a big deep breath in with the bottle of eucalyptus oil held up to one nostril, then I do the same with the other nostril. I find the potency of the smell helps the mind to focus on the breath and the smell itself which helps to navigate the mind away from fear. You can do this with anything you choose like lavender oil, flowers, a lemon or even coffee beans! Whatever smell you jive with is perfect.
  • Mindfulness – This beautiful practice helps to slow down the mind and also focus it to the present moment. Doing each task with heightened awareness prevents your thoughts from straying fearfully. Whatever task you are doing, practice doing it with full presence. Slow down and enjoy what fills your daily life.
  • Laughter – My favourite! Lighten up your world. Put on a favourite comedy show and watch funny movies. Laughter is truly the best medicine as it switches your energy from being negative to positive. From a spiritual perspective, PTSD has occurred because we have taken fear seriously, and laughter helps to relieve that seriousness and replace it with light-heartedness.
  • Tai Chi – Another favourite of mine! When the PTSD was kicking in for me, I was experiencing some strong anxiety in the morning, so to help myself relax I would do a few Tai Chi moves. Tai Chi is ideal for someone working through PTSD as it involves deepening your breath while doing slow, physical moves which involve your whole body. Highly therapeutic! I would do this while waiting for the kettle to boil or for my bread to toast. It doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming, it can actually be quite easy! Just a few simple moves aligned with deep breathing can greatly support you in shaking off those morning jitters or fearful moments. I suggest looking on Youtube to search for some easy introductory Tai Chi moves.
  • For those who are spiritual, I also highly suggest implementing the True Forgiveness Process of A Course in Miracles when you recognize that you are reacting negatively like when you’re feeling irritable or if you're beginning to feel anxious, angry or sad. If you are in the throes of a challenging moment, don’t worry about the forgiveness, just get yourself to a better feeling place by using your favourite coping mechanisms. True Forgiveness is best used when you are feeling calm or when you begin to sense that you are feeling out of sorts. Follow your inner guidance system as to what feels best for you! You can find the True Forgiveness Process on page 90 of the text of A Course in Miracles (third edition published by the Foundation for Inner Peace) or described in great detail on pages 23 and 24 of Gary Renard’s book, Love Has Forgotten No One.
  • I suggest using the healing meditation from Gary Renard’s book, Love Has Forgotten No One – it’s on page 79. I use this meditation every night before I go to sleep and what it does is it places your mind in a healing state before you sleep. I have found this meditation to be highly effective and a great support in overcoming challenging times.
  • Finally, you can also do Lesson 136 of the Course, Sickness is a Defense against the Truth. This exercise also opens your mind to healing.

Here is a link to a great article which elaborates on what I've shared above: https://www.livestrong.com/article/526883-how-to-relax-the-nervous-system-naturally/

~

Now, here is an overview of PTSD from a spiritual perspective; how it comes to be and what sustains it...

Essentially, PTSD from a spiritual perspective is no different than any other form of illness (mental or physical). It begins as an acute experience of the guilt held at the level of the unconscious mind and is sustained by the belief that you are a vulnerable body. It is important for you to know that any idea of the ego is to convince you that you are a body. It needs you to think this because the ego uses the body as its home and so in order for it to survive, it needs you to think that you are a body.

Another aspect of sickness is the belief that the world and the body are the cause of illness and upset. This belief that the world and the body are the cause of things is a thought reversal, where the effect is put before cause. We mistakenly put the cart before the horse. In Truth, the mind is the cause and everything else (body, feelings, universe) are effects. The reason for this confusion is because the ego mind doesn’t want us to know that our minds are very powerful because if we did know, we would walk away from the ego and the ego would die. The ego needs us to be dim to the fact that we are incredibly powerful and always creating via our minds. It needs us to be victims. It needs us to believe that the body can create sickness and that we are vulnerable to a scary world. In Truth, the world is coming from us. This Truth is a powerful and necessary switch in our thinking! 

“What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenseless and in hell.” ACIM - T.31.VIII.6:2

To overcome PTSD or any form of sickness, you need to put your focus at the level of cause, the mind. If your mind has been traumatized, you can absolutely heal. In fact, we are taught in the Course that healing is natural. I always share that healing is an attitude, you don’t need to settle for the pain of the ego. On that note, one of the most powerful ways to heal is to remember the Truth frequently, that you are innocent, peaceful and loving Mind, not a conflicted and vulnerable body. We are taught in the Course that as we repeatedly think, we will experience ourselves as such. Therefore, if you want to overcome the idea of being a body or the idea that you are suffering, practice repeating the Truth. Replace fear with the Truth and watch your perception change. Remember also to think of others this way, not just yourself. One of the easiest ways you can expedite your healing is by changing how you see others. See the Truth in all things and the Truth will become what you believe again, and the ego will be undone in your mind and suffering will end.

Love and Healthy Thinking,

Fiona

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