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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition caused by events which overwhelm the mind body system beyond its ability to cope. People with PTSD often try a lot of methods to reintegrate traumatic experiences so that they become more manageable. One popular method for healing PTSD is meditation.
Meditation is the art of training the mind to become more present with moment to moment experience as it arises into consciousness. The more proficient you are with the art of presence, the easier it is to process experience as it occurs. This is true for processing and “digesting” present moment experience as well as the memories and subtle energy patterns of past existence.
We usually tend to go through our lives without fully utilizing our inner digestive system. The ego shuts down uncomfortable experience and clings to pleasant experience. The inner gunk builds up and creates a lot of havoc in our lives. One method that the ego uses to accomplish this is restriction of breath.
Most of us, by default, tend to breathe erratically. When we breathe erratically, we are not allowing ourselves to fully process experiences in the moment. Whenever you can remember to do so, breathe through the nose. Allow the abdomen to inflate like a balloon. You should feel a slight massage in the lower back and groin as the abdomen expands. When you exhale, try to focus on completely emptying the lungs. This increases the amount of oxygen intake on the next inhale. Make this your habitual breathing pattern and you discover much greater peace as you digest your experience more efficiently. If you have a regular meditation practice, this type of diaphragmatic breathing will enhance it.
Have you tried meditation? If so, there are many techniques you may have tried. Some are complicated and some are not. Meditation is actually quite simple. Let’s break it down into its basic nuts and bolts.
Meditation is the art of falling in love. There is usually an object of focus that you “fall in love” with. That is, you relax into the experience of your chosen object of focus as if you are merging with it. The object of focus can be the breath entering and leaving the nostrils, a visualization of a waterfall, a spiritual figure, a word or set of calming words or just about anything that is either constant or repetitive. Anything that you can become easily and lovingly absorbed with works well.
This is the concentration element of meditation, which is not always easy. To set the stage for deep concentration, you generally begin either with warm up exercises, relaxation techniques, yoga stretches, prayers of gratitude or kindness or by taking a few deep breaths.
There is another element of meditation called variously: Equanimity, Vipassana and Mindfulness. All these things mean to see things clearly with relaxed, nonreactive consciousness. When you practice concentration, thoughts and unprocessed emotions will inevitably come up. The idea is not to shut them out, but to be present with them. You are the sky. Thoughts are the clouds. You are the ocean. Thoughts and emotions are the waves. Take note that you are thinking or feeling, perhaps by uttering a word such as “thinking” or “feeling”. Let them be, then bring your attention back to the object of focus.
Do this at the same time of day every day, even if just for 10 minutes, and you will notice profound results. You’ll notice immediate results in the form of greater peace. You will also notice cumulative results in the way you relate to yourself and the rest of the world. It is like the river that carved the Grand Canyon.
People with PTSD could use some added momentum to accelerate this process. Do you have favorite scriptures, poems, inspiring songs, yoga stretches, peaceful memories or breathing exercises? I’m sure you have some of these things. Find out all these calming and centering activities and slip them into the downtimes of your day, such as your “elevator time”. You have 20 seconds in an elevator to engage yourself wisely. Create some more downtimes by claiming between 30 seconds and 5 minutes out of each hour for these activities. Relax, recharge, tune in and go within.
The cumulative results of the wise use of elevator time are very profound, even if your 30 seconds did not seem that peaceful. Try it for 30 days or 60 days. It will creep up on you from behind the scenes and greatly contribute to your ability to distress yourself in any given moment. It will also create a healing trance that melts away the factors that contribute to PTSD. Meditation will also become a whole lot easier.
Tom Von Deck is an international workplace meditation trainer, stress management speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. Through a book, an audio course, classes and seminars, Tom helps unique individuals to discover their unique routes to that place of deep inner stillness within. His programs are designed to make meditation a much easier and more customized process for busy people of all religions and lifestyles. His website is www.DeeperMeditation.Net.
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