Coping, healing, meditation, Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Trauma Recovery

3 Reasons to Meditate

It’s More Than Just a Stress Reducer

Meditation came into my awareness because it was suggested to me as a way to quiet my mind and body once I found my way to Addo Recovery.  Shortly after I found out about my ex-husbands affairs my body went into such a high level of panic that I entered the ‘fight, flight and freeze response’ almost immediately, and because of his lying and gaslighting me, I stayed there for nearly two years.  I blew out my adrenals and my body was just in a constant state of panic. I was flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function, and I could not get my mind to shut up as it tried desperately to make sense of what had happened to me.

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Addo Recovery suggested I take a yoga class to learn to quiet my mind so that I could give my body a rest from the flooding of chemicals I was experiencing.  I learned that, over time, this constant state of stress was dangerous for my mind, body, and spirit. Intuitively I knew all of these things, but I did have the knowledge I needed to pursue a solution and had no idea how to make it stop. Meditation was the solution. It was a solution that was so profound that I began practicing meditation twice a day, morning and night, almost immediately.  I have been meditating daily for almost two years. In the very beginning it was the only peace I got during the day. But, over time, I learned to bring my meditative mind with me through the day, and into a peaceful, restful sleep at night, with no medication.

The reasons we meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In America, most people are drawn to meditation to quiet the internal chatter of the brain and to reduce stress. Meditation is, indeed, a very effective stress reducer, but its benefits – sometimes mysteriously hidden – are far more plentiful.

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According to the Chopra Center for Meditation there are 3 reasons meditation is not only good for us, but it is necessary, especially for those who are suffering from betrayal trauma:

1. Because It’s Good for Our Bodies

According to Scientists gathering data on meditation have found that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies bear out that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain, and support the immune system, better enabling it to fight disease.

The mind-body connection between stress and disease is abundantly apparent as science is finding that meditation can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means meditators are better able to adapt to stress in their lives and its common physiologic responses, which can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Skin conditions

2. Because It’s Good for Our Relationships

Paradoxically, while meditation helps us tune in and turn inward to our true essence, it also helps us detach from our own egos to connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couples counselors have found when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective, and more loving.

When we become aware of – and honor – our interconnection with other beings, we are able to recast our perspectives, see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude, which is the heart’s memory.

3. Because It Can Change Our Lives

In a world rife with never-ending fast fixes, crash diets, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s nice to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life (or at least bring about dramatic effects) in just a little time each day.

Yogis and doctors both agree: meditating – even just a few minutes of deep breathing – relaxes the brain, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. When we feel as though we can’t afford the time to meditate, the truth is we can’t afford not to.

I can attest to the deep breathing thing.  Learning to breathe deeply and properly was life saving for me.  I was so stressed out in the beginning of this journey that my resting heart rate was over 100 beats per minute.  It was as if my body thought I was running, even if I was sitting still!  I literally felt like I would climb out of my own skin.  I was jittery and nervous and I felt scared…all…the..time. This was the state of my body and mind for 2 years without a break. I even started to wear a device to measure my heart rate because my doctor was so concerned about me.  She told me that if I could just take deep breaths and count them I could lower my heart rate and calm my mind. Breath in, 1, Breathe out, 2, Breath in, 3, Breath out, 4, and so on, until you get to 10 and then start over.  After a couple of minutes of this I could lower my heart rate down to 80 beats per minute, a more acceptable rate, still too high, but better.  At least it gave me a little bit of control over my mind and body, something I desperately needed because my whole life was out of control. It helped. Breathing became a saving grace. I took a breathing timeout all day long.  Now I am so in tune with my body I recognise the signs of stress immediately and I can just take a minute to stop and breathe to bring it all back down before I spiral out of control.  But it takes practice. Everyday.
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What I can tell you is that there is no fast fix for betrayal trauma.  It will take you making some permanent changes in your lifestyle to feel good again.  There is no way around it.  So just wrap your brain around the idea that you will have to do some things differently, probably for the rest of your life.  Meditation is one of those things. But I have found that isn’t a bad thing necessarily.  I know that if I skip a day of meditating, I pay for it the next day.  Heart rate goes back up, anxiety drops by for a visit, and I quickly find myself not in a good place. So I agree, with what is at stake, we cannot afford to not meditate! I am happy to report to you that there is hope to be found, a quiet mind is possible again, and a calm body is within your reach. My resting heart rate is now somewhere between 60-70 beats per minute.  That is physical, hard evidence that mediation and deep breathing (which is part of it) works! It works for me, and it will work for you too. And the good news is that you can get started… right now, today.
You do not have to take a class to learn to meditate, although I highly recommend it in order to learn from someone who is experienced and knows how. However, YouTube is a wonderful place to get tons of guided meditations for free.  Some of my favorites are:
Jason Stevenson (has a cool Australian accent.)
Joe Tracey (his voice is very calming.)
Kenneth Soares (is Norwegian, and I like his voice, some people don’t though.)
Check them out. See if you like them, if you don’t try someone else!  It will ruin the meditation if the person you are listening to has an annoying voice.  Find one or two that work well for you to start with and explore more options.  Many of them have meditations for anxiety, letting go, fear, and sleep. You can start there. I recommend that you do the 21/90 rule.  21 days to form a new habit and 90 days to make it part of your lifestyle. Most of the meditations are 20-45 minutes. So it’s not a huge time drain. Start out small.  I will warn you though,  I have loved this so much that I now will frequently do 1-2 hour meditations. Once you are able to do well with guided mediations then you can branch out on your own. There are a lot of ways to mediate and the internet is full of good information on this topic.  Just google “beginner meditation.”
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I can give you suggestions but if this is something that interests you then it is best to go on your own journey of discovery and enlightenment. At some point I will write about my personal meditation practice, but I would rather you do you.  It will be more helpful to you and more fulfilling if you find what works for you.  For example; I really, really like Tibetan Singing Bowls, but it took me forever to find a video that I loved.  Some of them were too high-pitched for me, some of them had drum beats I couldn’t stand, others had certain Binaural Beats* that made me feel more anxious. Until one day I found one that really is perfect for me!  I love it!  But the point is, you may not love it, you may hate it, and it could cause you to hate mediating as a result because I told you that you should love it, and you really hate it.  So go find what works for you, trust me, there is something on YouTube for everyone! Find what speaks to your body, mind, and spirit. Meditating is deeply spiritual and personal. If you don’t like something, don’t give up, find something else that works better for you.  I save videos all the time that I end up deleting a week later because they just were not as good or helpful as I thought they would be.
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I usually meditate sitting up in the morning and lying down on my bed at night. At night I use mediations that are meant for sleep so I don’t feel like I am missing something if I fall asleep, because that is the point.  So do what works best for you.  That is the great thing about meditating, you don’t have to worry about getting it right, just do it.  I also mediate with my headphones on so that I can benefit from the sounds many of them use in their mediations.  Here is some information about the sound frequencies and beats.  I love the idea that different frequencies can entrain our bodies to resonate with that frequency and helps our bodies to heal.  I need all the healing I can get so I opt for the headphones. There are meditations that are meant for deep healing with the Rife Frequencies**.  Some of them get on my nerves, but I learned from reading in the comment that listening for 10 minutes a day was enough to reap the benefits.  So read the comments too, it helps to learn from others who are also in the process.
Here are some of the meditation YouTube Channels I subscribe to:
I have also found this meditation program that is not very expensive from EOC Institute. They have a list of 141 Benefits of Mediation  to show meditation is a very good thing.
I hope this will get you started on your own mediation journey.  It is something that has made a life or death difference in my life and that is not an exaggeration.  It is one reason I chose to start with sharing mediation, it is something you can do immediately and see tangible results in a matter of days, or even hours, depending on how much you do it. All I can say is try it, you’ll like it.  You will like how you feel, and it will give your mind and body a break so you can cope with the un-cope-able.
Share with me in the comments your own experiences of meditating. I’d like to know what works for you or if you have any cool tips, tricks or meditations you have discovered.
Stay Strong, Be Sweet
chocolate cupcake warrior
The Cupcake Warrior
* “Binaural Beats” is a term given to playing one sound frequency in one ear, and another sound frequency in the opposite ear, creating a two-tone effect in the mid-brain that is actually perceived to be one tone. This causes an “Entrainment” effect in the brain that has a variety of results depending on the frequency.
** These frequencies are based on the work of Royal Raymond Rife was a 20th century inventor who through frequency was able to cure many ailments of the body, including most common illnesses that we seek medical assistance for today.
abuse, Becoming, divorce, healing, My Story, PTSD, Self Care, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

EMDR Therapy Intake Appointment

I took a break from therapy over the holidays. For anyone who is recovering from betrayal trauma you will understand why I would need a break. It’s grueling. I was doing something related to recovery every.single.day. I was just exhausted. I needed a break. So I went through the holidays, therapy free. It was glorious. And horrible.  I felt like all of my support was cut out from under me.  Cold Turkey. I did my best to pretend I was a normal person.  I wasn’t.

I quickly learned I still needed it. I was far from healed. And…I was out of money to pay for it.  I knew I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing either. I loved LifeStar but it had become painful to just walk into a building that reminded me of how much my Cheater did not love me. How awful he was to me. How he berated me after every appointment. I still can see the hatred and disgust he had on his face when he looked at me when we went to our sessions.  I now know that hatred and disgust was probably directed at himself…not me. He didn’t want to be there because he still had not given up on all his other relationships. (I found out later that he NEVER stopped cheating on me, not once.) But it felt like he hated me. In some ways, he did.  He hated me for reminding him how disloyal he was to me.

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During my 3 month-long retreat from therapy,  I started hearing about EMDR. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. The first time I heard about it what from the therapist at the ER a year ago when I was so distraught over my husband’s behavior it sent me to the ER. Yeah. There is that. The next time I heard of it was from Scabology, I follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You know how something God wants you to do will usually come up, over and over, from several different sources in a short period of time?  This was like that.  I know it was a God thing, a tender mercy. I started hearing about it  from other trauma survivors I knew in person, and those I follow on Instagram and Facebook. It seemed that this was actually helping them overcome their trauma! So I started to research it, because that is how I roll. Here is an awesome site to help you get a feel for it. You can read a FAQ here.

All I know is I do not want to feel like this anymore! I am tired.  I am exhausted. I am wrung out. I slug through everyday feeling like I am swimming in a pool with concrete weights around my wrists and ankles. It’s hard. Too hard. Nobody should feel this way because of something someone else did to them.

My angel Bishop agrees and so do my kids. So, together,  we are all starting on “Operation Recover Me.”

Friday I went to my first Intake Appointment at Addo Recovery.

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Here is me waiting for my first appointment, feeling small and vulnerable…again. I hate it when I have to tell the story all over again. I wonder how many more times I have to do this? As I think about everything that’s happened to me I start to cry again. I hate him for what he has done to me!

They are very thorough. I am impressed by their approach to healing – an overall wellness approach dealing with my entire life.


Before I ever got there they had me do a 48 page assessment online to measure my trauma.

Before I share any of the results, I knew my trauma was high. It’s nice to have that validated. I like charts and graphs and they had plenty of those. A stark picture of where I am now.  More importantly, they have a clear road map of where I need to go from here and how to get there! That is such a relief!  I can’t even tell you how amazing that is to me!

There are 8 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis according the DSM-5.  They can test for 7 of them in this assessment, the 8th one is evaluated by a therapist. I present significantly in all 7 of them. PTSD has the following 4 diagnostic clusters:

  1. Re-experiencing spontaneous memories of the event, recurring dreams, flashbacks, or other episodes of prolonged psychological distress.
  2. Avoidance – refers to upsetting thoughts, feelings or memories that are reminders or are associated with the upsetting event.  (See criteria C)
  3. Negative cognitions and mood represent and infinite number of feelings such as isolation from others, a marked diminished interest in activities, or a distorted sense of self. (See Criteria D)
  4. Arousal is marked by restlessness, aggressive, or self-destructive behavior; sleep disturbances; hypervigilism; or other related behaviors.  This is the “fight” of the body’s innate fight or flight response.

This chart shows how my ex husband’s addiction has affected the different areas of my life, past and present. Anyone who thinks that addictions only affect the person, need only look at these charts.  Addiction has a severe and profound impact on those who have relationships with the addict! The denial and blame criteria are how my Ex’s denial and blame impacted me.  What is significant here is the therapist says that this is so bad that it is what amounts to a prisoner being tortured.  I was tortured.  The lying, gaslighting, denial, minimizing, rationalizing, blaming that my Ex did to me amounts to torture.  Awesome.  No wonder I am where I am. I am messed up!  But at least I am smart enough to know it so that I don’t drag someone else through my crazy before I get myself put back together!

This next chart shows the impact on me in having an intimate relationship because of what my Ex did to me. Relational sexual difficulties is that I do not trust enough to be that vulnerable again.  As you can see, I am most impacted by issues associated with trust, body image, and I really, really want revenge!  I have always been a very trusting person, sometimes to the point of being a little naive.  Those days are long gone and I doubt they will ever return.  I fear I have swung too far the other way and I am not likely to swing back anytime soon.

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The part of the test that was most concerning to me is my stress, anxiety and depression scores. I will not show those results because they are not presented in a chart form.  However, 8 months after the divorce, my stress is still moderately high. I am not too surprised, because I have a lot of difficulty managing my stress.  I feel stress, even when there isn’t a reason to be stressed. But my anxiety and depression are still categorized as extremely high. Off the charts high. That concerned the therapist. She said people who present that high are a high risk for suicide. I don’t feel suicidal most of the time, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind more often than it should. I have panic and anxiety attacks ALL.THE.TIME.  Sometimes, I have them because of a triggering event, but I also have them for no visible reason. Out of the blue something will just reduce me to a hot mess!  I don’t know what could happen to me under the wrong conditions. That scares me. But it’s also why I need to do this. My ex isn’t worth it. I know that now, more than ever. He is, well, not good enough to tie my shoes. The reason I divorced him was to save myself.  I best be starting that process.  It is past time.

This is why I am where I am now. The saving of me. Let “Operation Recover Me” begin! It’s time!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

betrayal, PTSD, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Trauma Response Rescues

Do you know what a “Trigger” is?

A “Trigger” is any event that brings up old feelings of panic and danger even if there is no danger around.  It is a PTSD response very similar to what war veterans experience.  One minute you are fine and the next you are not.  the emotional response happens immediately and without warning when a Trigger presents it’s self. Triggers can be places, people, times of year, events, holidays, weather, smells, sounds, music, memories; anything can be a Trigger. And because of this it is nearly impossible to avoid your Triggers! Triggers bring up past trauma unexpectedly and with such force that often it can feel like you are actually reliving a traumatic experience. This really sucks!

The part about my Triggers that angers me off the most is my ex-husband doesn’t give a flying flip that he has done this to me or his family.  He doesnt care in the least.  If he did care at all then he would be working to alleviate the triggers and the pain that comes with it.  Instead, he is off chasing his new girlfriend because he “deserves some happiness.”  I know I am not alone in this.  My kids suffer, and my grandkids suffer.  We all suffer the devastation while all he cares about is his own happiness.  So here we are having to deal with these difficult emotional responses without any assistance (even financial assistance) from the perpetrator. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I have a triggered response everytime I drive by the hotel where my daughter caught my husband in a hotel room with another woman.  When I drive by this hotel I burst into tears and re-live the whole ugly experience again and again.  Because of a series of business meeting I have had this week I have had to drive by this particular hotel 6 times this week. It has been brutal!  I could have gone out of my way to avoid it, gone another way, but I am determined not to let these experiences run me or my life.  So I chose to just power through it this week. But how do you do that?  How do you face something so painful head on?

dissociation-triggersI have learned that when triggers come it is because your pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) has been hijacked by your limbic brain (emotional brain).  To beat back the trigger you must access the  pre-frontal cortex and put it back and charge.  As you learn to do this you can quickly disarm the lymbic brain, redirect the thought patterns, and put the pre-frontal cortex back in charge.  This works for any kind of panic or anxiety response.  The idea “control your thoughts, control your destiny” is really very true.  Gaining power over Triggers is getting back the power over your mind.  Triggers won’t go away, but you can lessen their effects, and with practice, stop them as they are happening.

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My ex-husband is a dementor. He sucks all the happiness out of his family members and leaves them for dead.

I was reminded of what triggers are like while watching Harry Potter with my daughter last week.  Triggers are like Boggarts, they are not real, they look real and they feel real, but they are just your worst fears manifest. The students of Hogwarts were able to fight them with a spell… “expecto patronum!”  The Boggart was vanquished and thrown back into the box by most of the students.  Except some Boggarts are scarier than others.  Demetors are the scariest. I have come to think of Triggers as Dementors, they suck all the happiness right out of you! For a while Harry had to have help fighting against the Dementors.  At first, he couldn’t do it alone.  It took practice!  But when he eventually needed to rely on himself to do it, he was able to becuase he practiced. Beating back Triggers, especially the scariest ones, is a lot like that, it will take practice and patience with yourself.

So here are a few tips and tricks for putting your thinking brain back in charge:

Breathe – deep, mindful breathing. Breathe in, hold it for the count of four. Breathe out slowly whild counting to four.

Affirmations – Repeat your affirmations over and over until the trigger subsides. Make sure you have a list of daily affirmations that support areas where you are struggling.

Count and tap – cross your arms over your chest and touch your hands to your shoulders.  Begin counting.  As you count tap every other shoulder.  Do this for a count of six and then start over.  Continue until the fear and panic subside.  It will usually take about 15 to 20 sets of these.  It also really helps if you deep breathe with tap.  Breathe in , 1, Breathe out, 2, and so on.

Count your blessings – it is surprising how simple this is and how well it works.

Prayer – Prayer is a powerful antidote to Triggers.  Use it to pour your heart out to your Heavenly Father  and ask for help in overcoming your Triggers. He will tell you what will work best for you!

Read an interesting book –Keep a book around for this purpose.  In times of triggers I often open up my scriptures.  Its the book that works the best for me!

Work on a project – keep a craft or other project handy you can work on.  Crocheting, knitting or cross-stitch are all great for anxiety because of the counting aspects to them.

Workout – working out does wonders for releasing endorphines that will lift your spirit and improve your mood and outlook.

Go for a Walk – Walking outdoors and breathing in fresh air does wonders for the mind and the soul!

Mindful Meditations – there are a number of Apps that will help you with this.  Search the app store for mindful meditations, self hypnosis and meditation.  You will find plenty of free and paid apps.  Some of them you can try before you buy.  I have used Surf City apps, Happify and Head Space with lots of success.

Call a friend – sometimes you just need to talk things out with a trusted friend.  Call her. It will help.

Call your sponsor – if you are in a 12-step program then you will have a sponsor you can call when you are having a tough time. She will be a great listening ear and resource.  Your sponsor often understands in ways a friend can’t because she has traveled the road you are now on.

You can see that these remedies for trigger responses are also self care.  As you make an effort to do your “dailies” of self care you will build up a muscle memory response to triggers.  Over time you will automatically start to respond to the triggers in more helpful and healthy ways.  This is one of the reasons that self care is so important to do everyday!

What are some of the things you do to help overcome your triggers?

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior