Tag Archives: Tara Brach

Tapping (EFT) 2 of 2

Tapping Points 2015 Nick EBook diagramI’ve used Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), aka tapping for years, as I wrote in Part 1 on  “what is tapping.”

Now for how to tap. “Focus on the negative emotion at hand: a fear or anxiety, a bad memory, an unresolved problem, or anything that’s bothering you,” says Nick Ortner, author of “The Tapping Solution.”

Then, “while maintaining your mental focus on this issue,  use your fingertips to tap 5-7 times each on 9 of the body’s meridian points.”  (Click on “Where to Tap” diagram above from TheTappingSolution.com)  [FN1]

“Tapping on these meridian points, while concentrating on fully feeling and accepting the negative emotion, will allow you to resolve and displace those learned, habitual reactions this feeling would ordinarily trigger,” he writes.

You said it, brother Nick. “Fully feeling and accepting the negative emotion” is an incredibly key point; see below.

But please: if you have severe trauma, do not tap alone!  Do it with a therapist or trained practitioner, or don’t tap.  “Your mileage may vary.”

Tapping starts with 3 “prep steps” which take 5-10 minutes once we get used to it.  Here we take the time to become fully Present with ourselves, our body, and our emotions.  Actual feelings, and relief of feelings, occurs only “in the Now.”  To do it, we’ve got to be Present in the Now.

1. Identify what’s troubling you. It can a specific feeling or situation, or just general anxiety or “I feel lousy.”  Try to figure out “what bugs me the most and how do I feel about it now?”  Try to put yesterday and tomorrow out of your mind.  Just ask this “now” question until you feel some sort of answer.

2. Write down the intensity of your feeling on a scale of 0 (doesn’t bug me) to 10 (makes me jump out of my skin).  This “Subjective Units of Discomfort Scale” (SUDS) is useful because often we feel so much better after tapping that we simply can not remember how bad it felt beforehand.

3. Create a one-sentence “set-up statement” which says: I’m going to accept myself and practice self-compassion. I’m deciding to fully accept me as I am, the emotions troubling me, even my worst feelings.  Because, as Dr. Tara Brach says, “it’s only when we accept ourselves completely exactly how we are, that we become free to change.

Anxiety

Let’s take as a sample, the feeling of general anxiety – we’ve all had it, and when it gets bad, it can cause panic and illness.  1: Think of something that makes you feel anxious.  2. Write down the intensity on a scale of 0 to 10.

3. Here are “set-up statements” about anxiety I’ve found most useful, from Nick Ortner’s e-book 2012 edition: “Your set up statement should acknowledge the problem you want to deal with, then follow it with an unconditional affirmation of yourself as a person,” he writes:

–“Even though I feel this anxiety, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
–“Even though I’m anxious about [__ situation], I deeply and completely accept myself.”
–“Even though I’m feeling anxiety about [__ person] I deeply and completely accept myself.”
–“Even though I panic when I think about [ __ ] I deeply and completely accept myself. ”

We only need one set-up sentence. Create one or try the samples above.

At the end of my set-up I often add  “and all my traumatized emotions.”  I’ll say, “Even though I feel anxious and panicky, I deeply and completely accept myself, and all my traumatized emotions.”  ( My therapist applauded this. If we accept that our “crazy” trauma is not crazy, but it’s to be expected, given the nasty experiences we’ve had, that really helps heal it.)

Start Tapping:  

tapping karate-chop-pointThe rest of the tapping should take about 10 minutes more, again, after we get used to it:

A.  Tap the Hand for Set-up and Self-Affirmation:  Start by tapping on the Karate Chop point, the outer edge of the dominant hand on the opposite side from the thumb, using the four fingertips of the other hand.  While tapping, repeat the one-sentence set-up statement three times aloud. (Photo from Patricia Hope, http://www.towards-happiness.com/natural-treatment-for-insomnia.html )

To me, the Karate Chop feels very steadying, and I’m glad this is where we repeat our self-affirmation. When I feel really bad, I might repeat my set-up affirmation while tapping three times on each hand, alternating hands.

B: Tap through all the other Acupressure Points:

–“Use a firm but gentle pressure, as if drumming on the side of your desk or testing a melon for ripeness,” says Nick Ortner.
–“You can use all four fingers, or just the first two (index and middle fingers). Four fingers are used on the top of the head, collarbone, under the arm… wider areas.  On sensitive areas, like around the eyes, use just two.
–“Tap with your fingertips, not your fingernails.”

I learned to start tapping the top of the head; Nick likes to start at the eyebrow and end at the top of the head.  They call him the Tapping King and he’s got a bestselling-book The Tapping Solution.  But I stick with what works for me.  It  doesn’t matter as long as we tap most or all the points.

Next, we just flat out say what hurts.   I tap on my head, then my eyebrow, then the side of my eye, going through all the 9 acupressure points.

At each spot, in the anxiety example, I’d say:  “I feel so anxious. I feel so anxious and panicky.  I feel anxious and panicky about living alone (for example).”  Say what you feel, keep it short, authentic, and blunt.

As many tapping youtube videos show, when we tap from one tapping point to the next, what we feel can start to morph.  If we don’t feel our feelings, they can stay frozen for decades, but once we start to feel them, emotions are by nature fluid;  they start to release and change. As we feel them, they begin to dissipate. Then the next feeling underneath may bubble up.

Here are Nick’s names for the remaining tapping points,  to help read his diagram.   I tap on each of these  points and say several times at each point: “I feel anxious and panicky about living alone.”

–Top of Head (TH)  Crown of  head. Use four fingers.
–Eyebrow (EB)  Inner edges of the eyebrows near the bridge of the nose. Use two fingers.
–Side of eye (SE) The hard ridge between the corner of your eye and your temple. Use two fingers. Feel out this area gently; don’t poke your eye!
–Under eye (UE) The hard bone under the eye that merges with the cheekbone. Use two fingers, stay in line with the pupil.
–Under nose (UN)  between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip.
–Chin (CH)  centered between the bottom of the lower lip and the chin.
–Collarbone (CB)  Tap just below the hard ridge of your collarbone.
–Underarm (UA) On your side, about four inches beneath the armpit.

That’s it for Round 1.  Next: take a deep breath, and check if your SUDS number went down, because you might be finished.

But most of the time, I go through all the tapping points about three rounds.  For example, if after Round 1 you feel roughly the same and still feel bad, that’s normal; you’ll need a second or third round.  I need three, almost every time. In traumatic fear, I need four rounds or more.

If the number has risen or skyrocketed because we really “got in touch” with the feeling, that’s called spiking. *If you get overwhelmed, stop now.  Call a friend to help you calm down, breathe deeply, and drink some water.

I learned over time that spiking is a good result, as horrible as it feels in the moment – because in the next few rounds I can feel that nasty feeling so thoroughly that I pretty much get rid of it.

What very often happens to me is that I’ll do Round 1 and then Round 2, but I feel like nothing’s changing. It’s so boring that I start to feel like a jerk for wasting my time with this nonsense.  But I persevere.

Then sometime in Round 3 I’ll get a huge spike, and feel so horrible that I start bawling and must force myself to stay with it.  Then just as suddenly, the whole bad feeling is gone.  It simply disappears, to where I start thinking about my hairdo, or laugh and say “OK, done, what’s for breakfast?”

If I’m up at night anxious and I tap to get to sleep, very soon after the spike, my anxiety will evaporate and I’ll fall deeply asleep.

———————————

Kathy’s blogs expand on her book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder—How I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  Nick Ortner’s website has a free e-book on tapping:  http://www.thetappingsolution.com/free_tapping_ebook.html I’m ever grateful to Nick and Jessica Ortner for popularizing tapping and making it so accessible to us, diagrams and all. But I’m troubled by how their site has grown so commercialized.  To me, any pitch to become rich, thin, famous, etc. feels bad; it says we’re not good enough as we are; got to get out there and perform harder and faster.  To me that’s a recipe for more cortisol, stress and panic.  I’d rather focus on being a human being, not a human doing (to paraphrase Jon Kabat-Zinn).

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Fire Up the Right Brain

Dan Siegel Website PicWhen we last left Stewart the 92-year-old lawyer in Dan Siegel’s office June 25,  “the presenting problem was:  his wife got sick, and he became more socially withdrawn… losing himself in his books,” Siegel said. “Rather than confronting what the illness of his wife of 65 years brought up in him, this unbelievable sense of vulnerability which he wasn’t prepared to sit with, he withdrew into his law books.”  [FN1]

Stewart could handle and remember lots of facts, like his or others birth dates, a left brain function.  But he had little or no emotional response, nor could he recall much about his fleshed-out lived experiences, like what he did on his son’s first birthday, a right brain function.  Pure dissociation.  “I think you’re living with half a brain,” Siegel told him.

So Dan set out to grow Stewart’s right brain.

“Our right human hemisphere is all about this present moment,” says brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor. “Information, in the form of energy, streams in through all of our sensory systems, then it explodes into an enormous collage of what this present moment looks like, what this present moment smells like and tastes like, what it feels like and sounds like.” [FN2]

Here’s what Dan did: “I told Stewart that I thought if we could drive energy and information flow through the right hemisphere of his brain, over a three to four month period, I believed we could stimulate neuronal activation and growth: we could get new synapses to form in the right brain that had never formed before.”

Dan gave Stewart a series of exercises which only the right brain could handle, so the neurons in Stewart’s spectacularly developed logical left brain would have to just stop firing awhile.  His right brain would have to step up. [FN3]

Fire the Right Brain Neurons

Brain_superior-lateral_viewFirst, Siegel said, the right hemisphere specializes in non-verbal responses, facial recognition and imitation, and other mammal to mammal relational expressions and body language – as distinct from verbal language and logic which are left brain actions.

So Dan started miming emotions with his face and body, only — no words. And Stewart had to try to mimic back his face and body motions — no words. “I would make a face, and he would imitate it—not name it because that would be bilateral integration, ” said Dan. “We wanted to get his right hemisphere going, and the right specializes in non-verbal response and facial recognition.”   Stewart watched while Dan demonstrated an emotion non-verbally, with face, with hands and body, and gradually Stewart found he could make his own face, hands and body imitate Dan — all without logic or speech.

Then Dan reversed it, having Stewart mime something without words, while Dan tried to imitate him. “It kind of became fun actually, like a game,” Dan said. “For homework, I would have him watch television with the sound turned off, so that his left hemisphere, which does language, wouldn’t get stimulated. The right hemisphere had to start watching the shows, and he had to get his right hemisphere to work.”

Second, Dan knew that emotions, as the word implies, arise  first as bodily sensations — motion in the body parts — which is communicated as raw data via body nerves to the brain, and finally analyzed and interpreted by the mind as “feelings.” But emotions, like most bodily data, are shunted to the right side of the brain for interpretation, as Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor describe the way incoming sensory data goes to the right brain, above.

Dan thought Stewart didn’t have that right brain function of assembling a map of how his body felt — which was why he didn’t have emotions. So he taught Stewart to create in his mind, an integrated map of his body, which only the right brain can do.

Dan taught Stewart to do “body scans,” in which attention is focused strongly and willfully (“mindfully”) on what is going on first in our head, then our face,  neck, chest, belly, legs, and so on, for prolonged periods of time — something Stewart had never spent 10 minutes on in 92 years. “He couldn’t check into his body to say, my heart is pounding, my stomach is churning, I’m breathing fast,” said Dan, so how could he know he was feeling an emotion?

Third, Dan gives Stewart autobiographical exercises. “I asked him, ‘before you came to the office, you woke up. How did you wake up?’  He said he got up, he had breakfast, and he got in the car. I said ‘Let’s back that up, which foot got out of the bed first?’  He had to go from factual memory, to having a sense-of-self in time. That’s a right hemisphere specialty. Obviously your sense of self, if you don’t have an autobiographical sense of self, is pretty thin.

“Now you would say: hold on, my left foot got up, and then I had breakfast. How? You didn’t fly to the kitchen…Well I went to the toilet first, then I washed my face, then I took a step, etc…  Then he would start making a map of what he experienced that morning…

“And over time, with autobiographical memory exercises, non-verbal exercises, bodily exercises, and starting to then name feelings, we would put on facial expressions of these feelings — and then he started to change.  It was actually quite startling.

“One moment is telling…  He had mentioned that his brother had lost his leg in a skiing accident, but it didn’t matter, you know, because of his dismissal of relationships. He knew the facts of it, but not the feelings of it. A few months later, he was saying something about his grandchildren going skiing, and I thought there was something related to his brother, so I brought it up and he started to get tearful. I asked him if it was about his brother, he said no.

“I asked him what he was feeling and he looked at me and said that he couldn’t believe that I had remembered what he’d said, and that I really knew him. He said, ‘I can’t believe you remember who I am.’  And there was this shift of the feeling of his presence in the room.  He began to be able to articulate that he felt sad, that he could feel heaviness in his chest, that he was aware of his body in new ways.

“It was a moment of connection with him that didn’t exist before. And from that time onward the feeling in the room was like I had a whole person with me. There was this natural unfolding.  Once you allow these areas to be differentiated and honored, they can naturally find a linkage often.  And that’s what happened with Stewart.

“Empathy became something he did. With the right hemisphere focused on his interior, it also naturally began to focus on the interior of other people — me, his wife, his friends.  And that Presence you have when you’re interested in the interior world of other people, is a totally different way of being on the planet.

“His son reported that his presence around his grandchildren really changed. There was even one time Stewart came in and told me that I wasn’t going to believe what happened. He said they were saying goodbye to some people, and his wife put her hand on his shoulder, and he told her it felt good. Then she asked him if he wanted a back massage because in 65 years of marriage, he never let her do that. So she gave him a shoulder massage, and he said it felt fantastic. I asked why he’d said no for 65 years, and now at 92, he said yes.

“He said that he had been so terrified his entire life of needing anyone because he was never able to need anyone in his childhood, and that now he felt as if he could be that vulnerable to his wife and he could say that he needed her.

“His wife actually called me and asked me if I had given him a brain transplant because he had become a different person.  It wasn’t just that he was more present with relationships; internally, he felt this sort of playfulness. So, that’s how we could tell that something shifted with him.

“It was incredible and I have to say if it were just Stewart, I’d feel really nervous about reporting such a thing in a book, but I’ve worked with a lot of people with avoidant attachment histories, who as adults have dismissed attachment with the same paradigm, and it comes out the same way almost every time. [FN5]

“Now I get these beautiful cards from Stewart every winter. The last one said, ‘Dan, you cannot believe how much fun I’m having. Thank you’.”

——————

Next Friday August 15:  Special guest blog on how the ACE Study is finally being put to good use in pediatrics

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Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder—How I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes
Bio, website, and more of Dan’s books in Footnotes at end of http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/Daniel-Siegel-3/

FN1    Siegel, Daniel J., MD, “The Developing Mind,” National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), Apr 6, 2011 p.20-22   www.nicabm.com Apr 6, 2011 p.20-22

FN2   Jill Bolte Taylor,  “My Stroke of Insight,” Ted Talk of Feb. 2008,  http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight

FN3   Siegel, Daniel J., MD, “How Mindfulness Can Change the Wiring of Our Brains,” NICABM, www.nicabm.com; 2010 Webcast; my first NICABM webinar, downloaded March 31, 2011; rebroadcast October 11, 2011. http://www.nicabm.com/nicabmblog/meditation-medication/ and http://www.nicabm.com/mindfulness-2011-new/

FN4   Siegel, Daniel J., MD, “The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are,” (Guilford, 1999).  How attachment in infancy and childhood creates the brain and the mind.

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Stardust 2

Tara Smile smaller fr Reacting Wiesely 8-10-11Last week, after the video class by therapist Dr. Tara Brach (left), I said that for one day, I’d try to be Present with What Is.  Hey, I struggle with a regular meditation for 45 minutes, so this’ll be a stretch.  [FN1]

On Day 1, when the alarm rings, instead of growling, I lie there and take as many deep breaths as I need, until I can greet the alarm with wonder: “Wow, I have a cell phone that works; look, it’s even got an alarm.”  I sit up, and my back hurts, so I take as many breaths as needed until I can say “Hello Back, let’s stretch” and feel the wonder that I still have a sturdy back.

Seeing my calendar for today, I take as many deep breaths as needed until I can relax the rising stress about all those calls and emails. Instead, I delight that my bed is supporting me as I stretch, that the floor is supporting my bed, and the Earth is supporting us all, as Peter Levine points out (these hints have a reason). [FN2]

What’s really amazing is that I have this tofu between my ears known as a human mind which can perceive all that. And “all that” is organized, oddly enough, so that it supports my back and my body (if I just take a moment to feel into them). All without my doing anything except paying the el cheapo movers $150 to move the bed up the stairs back in 2010 when I was suicidal and got this place thinking it would be my mausoleum.

I start to faintly believe Tara’s wild idea that all of it, like me, is made of stardust.  It feels really, really good.  I’m likin’ this…

“Stardust… stardust” I mutter to myself and my normally anxious cells as I get up, brush my teeth (amazing Procter and Gamble can put stardust in a tube), and drink a liter of liquid stardust, er, water.  The water is the best part; drinking slowly and with deep breaths, I can feel it flowing down my throat and my happy little digestive cells just soaking it in.

I make it to the kitchen; what a quandary.  A friend has left a vase of flowers on the counter.   The sight, the scent intoxicate me; the fact that someone did this for me overwhelms my heart; my eyes well up.  Then there’s my kitchen window: sunlight and tropical foliage and the bright blue California sky, has this denizen of the New York underground gone to heaven?  Can I go swing on my deck swing?

But I haven’t even opened the fridge to see what avocado or fruit treat awaits me… Just walking into the kitchen, I’m like the cat in the delicatessen: he couldn’t decide whether to eat the ham, the salami, or the baloney, so he starved to death.

Yikes, how long is it going to take me to be Present and really taste breakfast (oh, yum), choose a dress from my closet (all so gorgeous) and get outside?  Then how do I make it past all those flowers and trees and birds in the parking lot to my car?  How do I not drop to my knees (bad for the panty hose) in awe of the cherubim of Infiniti, that they could forge such a steed?  How do I choose from a dozen uplifting musical recordings for my soul while driving?  Drive?  What a concept…  By the end of the day, I’m in happy but exhausted shock.  Good God, God is time-consuming!

Day at the Beach

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Saturday I’m exhausted and not feeling so mahvelous dahling anymore.  I walk to the beach listening to that same Tara class again on my mp3, dejected that I’m so tired and by the way, walking to the beach alone.

If you recall, Tara starts with the need-fear dilemma: being deeply present with other human beings is love, and we need that kind of love for our brains to develop.  But once we’re born, “the primal mood of the separate self is fear.”  [FN3]   No birth or parenting process is perfect, so we get “conditioned” by painful experiences to fear love.  And coming from infant brain stem trauma, I’ve had boatloads of fear and its stand-in, anxiety. (Details in Stardust 1)

Again Tara makes her biggest leap (right after minute 19):  If we only wake up out of our bad conditioning, she says, “The basic principle…  is that love is intrinsic to what we are.  In the most real way possible, we belong to this living world.  We’re made of stardust, we all are composed of the same stuff.  We’re breathing in this world, we’re breathing out into it; everything effects everything else.  We belong, that’s the basics. ”

Just as she says this I emerge from the trees onto the beach at my favorite picnic bench.  I’m looking at a 180-degree view of the ocean about 70 feet away, tropical foliage with huge birds of paradise flowers, the seagulls, the sun on the water, the most gorgeous weather possible, and it hits me smack in the chest:  Do I have a question about whether I intrinsically belong to this world?!

I pause the audio.  Tara says I belong.  Tara says I belong.  Wait,  I said it makes no sense, this shrink’s crazy!  “No, remember, it’s physics and biochemistry that we’re made of stardust.  So we’re loved 24 x7, by the Creator of the stars, no less.  Except we don’t feel that way ‘cos of our bum programming.”

Now I’m back full steam in my comfort zone of head talk.  “Wise men have written about this forever.  Swami Muktananda says when a fountain becomes still, we can see a bright penny at the bottom; just so, as we meditate and still our mental noise, at the bottom of our heart, we can see the face of God. Gospel singers say: “Way down in the bottom, Way down in the bottom, you can find the love of Jesus, in the bottom of your heart.”  (Click here, then scroll down to song list and click Play arrow to left of #3, “Way Down.”) [FN4]

Oh, nuts to reasoning why!  Tara says I belong.  Tara says I belong, and I want to believe her, in fact I long deeply to believe her – No damnit, I DO believe her.  Tara says I belong!

Sitting there staring at the sun on the ocean, suddenly I’m sobbing full-body heaves of joy and sorrow and who knows what — a wave of astonishment too big to contain so that it shakes me from head to toe or maybe vice versa.  This has hit me often when I’ve gone to the ocean;  I’ve always been moved by it;  I’d stand in the water or sit by it for hours or days at a time.  Because something within me said: this is here for you.  Something deep that goes to the core of my being, without having a word for it.

It all subsides; I take deep breaths and restart Tara’s audio. “And when the heart experiences that truth — in a visceral, vivid way — the experience is love,” she says.  “Awareness, when it’s awake, when our awareness is aware of our own Presence: we belong to the world, and the world is part of our heart.  It’s intrinsic.

The love we need is already inside us.

Visceral?  Did you say visceral?  Damn right it’s visceral, it hits me in the chest and the gut.  I have no rational explanation but every cell in my body is suddenly singing at the top of their little cellular lungs “We BeLO–NG” and yes, Virginia, they believe it. This goes way beyond anything head talk can manage; this is a physical experience. No other way to put it.

Mendelssohn No. 4

Kathy Gown Messiah IMAG0671And then I remember the Mendelssohn.  I remember Thanksgiving 2012 after singing Handel’s “Messiah” when I had to drive home alone in despair in a ballgown, hairdo and jewels, singing “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” at the top of my lungs down Interstate 5 for an hour. (That’s my pic at left, but here’s Lynn Dawson singing; she really captures the wonder).

I got home and put on a favorite, Mendelssohn’s 4th Symphony,  3rd movement — and began sobbing for the sheer beauty of it.  “Oh, this is what love feels like!” I said into my mp3’s record button. “This is what Mom should have felt like. This is what God love feels like; this is what people love should feel like — platonic, romantic, I don’t care! Yeah, I like this, this is what I like.” [FN5]  (To play Movement #3 now, left click on “Download file,” then click “open.”)


To download mp3, click below: (Firefox users: right-click link, select ‘Save Link As…’   Internet Explorer users: right-click link, select ‘Save Target As…’ )  Mendelssohn Nr4 Tr3 Con moto

“But ‘it’s just not happening for me’!” I cried, still quoting Dan the first rebound guy.  “What’s up, Lord, why is it always No?”  Then I simply had a really good sob about it, it was so painful to let it go through me, but when it was over, I felt better and better, then fell asleep in my clothes, exhausted but oddly happy.

“Maybe it started with you marinating so long in ‘My Redeemer Liveth’,” said a friend next day. “Sounds like an experience where we are so much in God’s presence, that it’s ok that it all sucks.  It’s ok you’re alone, again, that it hurts so bad – because there is a comfort here which you and I have a hard time putting words to.  God spoke to you in that Mendelssohn, God knows you well enough to know that if He speaks to you in music, to say ‘I’m with you,’ you’re gonna get it.  This is what Pure Love feels like.”

I thought that was nutty in 2012; how could an unseen etherial being make me feel better, when what I needed was a flesh and blood husband?  Still I had to admit: I did for no reason feel a whole lot better.

So a year later on my bench, I switch from Tara to Mendelssohn’s 3rd movement, still on my mp3.  And here it comes again, I feel it all over again: Oh my God, He’s right there with me, all the time!  “The Lord is my shephard, I shall not want… I shall fear no evil.”  I can hear Mendelssohn, I can see the sun on the ocean -– and the sobbing starts in overdrive. I get it, Tara, thank you, thank you: We ARE Made of Stardust.

I’ve been pondering this mystery for a year, so this time when the physical wave starts, I remember a yogi who says “Whatever happens, let it be OK and Just Watch.”  I sit for ten minutes letting it all slam over my body and out again, and the less my head gets in the way asking why, the deeper and wider the bodily reaction gets.  Then suddenly it’s done, and I feel like a million bucks, just like Thanksgiving 2012.  Is there a pattern here?

At that point my body just took off down that beach running for the ocean like there was no tomorrow; I almost was not in control of it.

Salt Creek sun Monarch_Beach_Xmas 051I hit the water and then I was dancing all over the beach sobbing for about an hour, playing the third movement a dozen times, running the length of the entire two mile strand, dancing and singing and skipping and jogging. People were staring at me, I didn’t give a damn, I never felt so much flat out joy in my life.

Then I danced my way through the whole symphony, starting with the first movement. It didn’t matter how tired I was, that first movement just leaps out at you and there I was leaping and running again like a madwoman.  The physical reaction was huge.  (Click “Play” arrow at left below for Movement #1:)

To download mp3, click below : (Firefox users: right-click link, select ‘Save Link As…’   Internet Explorer users: right-click link, select ‘Save Target As…’ )  Mendelssohn #4, Movement #1 Allegro

Eventually I crawl off the beach to my bench with a huge grin across my face.  Gosh, this Presence thing sure is time consuming!  Who’d believe that just spending a week practicing being Present With What Is for every little ordinary thing, could lead to such a wave of physical emotion of belonging and being loved?

Physical Experience

Salt Creek long Monarch_Beach_Xmas 082No matter what the people were doing, I’ve known that something in me had some deep connection to this world since I was little, without knowing to use the word “belong.”  It was bizarrely simple.  I connected to the beauty of nature, and that’s what’s resonating now.

It puzzled me no end as a kid.  I remember thinking from grade school, “Seeing that tree over there really moves something inside my heart.  But that tree is 20 feet away, and my eyes are over here; why should I feel any connection? Why should that be?”  The question has no tangible answer, none; in fact at times it seemed downright impossible to me.

And yet as a kid I had this physical experience over and over, every time I saw trees or stars or the ocean. It was just too beautiful for me, so I felt it as “visceral.”

There was little religion growing up; I learned Psalm 23 from the recitations in school whenever they thought the Russian bombs were about to drop.  Still even as a kid I could only find one answer:  Someone made this for me!  Then I would start to cry and I didn’t know why.  Despite all my anxiety and loneliness, all the wounding in my brain stem, there was a very strong sense that this was made for me.

Now Dr. Tara Brach has put a word to it: Belong.  Just the word sets off an earthquake in my heart.  Something deep inside me, without reason or logic, has felt all my life a desperate need to belong, and when I got that in nature, it hit me hard.  It’s a big deal to have that big a physical experience of belonging, even if I only had it with a tree.

Eventually I wander home in a state of shock, trying to be present with the sunset and how beautiful is the path back to my place.  I try not to go into sensory overload or fall asleep en route.  Below is a video mp4 of sunset there and my path home.

Sorry, it may only work with Internet Explorer. After you click the Play arrow, watch the moving bar because that may show how long it will take to load.   Or better, forget the electronics, close your eyes, lean back and just imagine.

Look at all the stuff I didn’t get done today!  I missed five crucial emails, didn’t make a pile of calls, and now it’s dark and I won’t even get to the gym until really late.  Darn.  Does anybody really have time for all this?

Oh well, consider the alternative.

Suppose all of the above is claptrap.  Perhaps we humans are in charge of all that we see?  Not only did we make my bed and my floor and the toothpaste, but we’re pretty much responsible for everything?  Well then, obviously we don’t have time to sit back! We’ve got our achievement programming to obey! Step on it -– we’ve got to get out there and make the world run, get all those emails out, go sell things, phone clients, write even more programs (this time with computers), or go do whatever it is we do all day.  We’ve got to achieve!  We’ve got to hustle and tote that barge, lift that bale.  No time for this stardust hooey, forget it.

I guess free will means it’s up to each of us to choose.  I don’t like that second alternative.  It doesn’t feel good; it doesn’t even make sense.  Me, I’m developing a taste for stardust (yum).

————————-
Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME:  The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.”  Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1 Brach, Tara, PhD, “Releasing  Barriers to Unconditional  Loving” – Part 1A  (5-15-13) at:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHiEAykuvvY&feature=player_embedded
Books: Brach, Tara, PhD: “True Refuge,”  Bantam Books, 2013 and “Radical Acceptance,” Bantam Books, 2003
Biography: www.tarabrach.com/about.html
Website Audio & Video page:  www.tarabrach.com/audiodharma.html

FN2  Levine, Peter A., PhD, “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body,” ‘Sounds True, Inc.,’ Boulder CO, 2005; ISBN 1-159179-247-9

FN3  Need-Fear Dilemma:  “We have a need in our heart for love, but when it’s wounded or hurt or unavailable, something very bad happens.  We don’t just sustain need.   If my Mom dies when I’m age 7, I can’t just wait 20 years and say  ‘OK now I’ll find someone nice to love me.’  Instead, when we have unmet need or injured need, something bad develops called the need-fear dilemma.  What we need the most, we begin to fear.  If it’s needing love, then we’re uneasy around love.  If we need understanding of our weaknesses, we get very uneasy about being weak.”
–  Cloud, Henry, PhD, “Getting Love on the Inside,” Lecture, April 2002 (CD),  www.Cloud-Townsend Resources.com
“The insecure resistant ambivalent child shown in the video is experiencing what has been referred to as the need-fear dilemma; he both needs the mother for comfort, but something in his history with this mother has instilled fear, and distrust whether he will find what he needs.  The video is of the Strange Situation, developed by  psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to describe secure and insecure attachment. These two attachment patterns are vividly seen in the interaction of two mother-child pairs: http://youtu.be/DH1m_ZMO7GU  ”
— Gerson, John, Phd, “Understanding Secure and Insecure Attachment,”  www.theravive.com/research/understanding-secure-and-insecure-attachment

FN4  Marty Stuart, “Souls’ Chapel,” #3. “Way Down.”  Scroll down to song list and click on arrow to right of #3 at www.amazon.com/Souls-Chapel-Marty-Stuart/dp/B000AA7I14

FN5  Felix  Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90,  “Italian”  was composed from 1829 to 1831.  Its inspiration is the color and rich history of Italy, where Mendelssohn wrote: “This is Italy! And now has begun what I have always thought… to be the supreme joy in life.  And I am loving it.  Today was so rich that now, in the evening, I must collect myself a little, and so I am writing to you to thank you, dear parents, for having given me all this happiness.”

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Stardust

Tara Brach 1I’m going to tell you the cure for Attachment Disorder and its many related ills  in this simple two-part blog.  But as the good witch Glenda told Dorothy,  you won’t believe me until you experience it for yourself.

I recently spent several weeks absorbing an astonishing talk by therapist Dr. Tara Brach (above), “Releasing Barriers to Unconditional Loving.”  A good way to start experiencing cure would be to watch  this.   [Click here for video]

“Enlightenment,” she begins, quoting Zen master Dōgen, “is just Intimacy With All Things.” [FN1, FN2]

“Just,”  Tara laughs.  This shrink’s crazy, I say to myself.  Yikes, I’m supposed to let All That inside me and be intimate?  “Intimacy!” she dances on, “Intimacy with the Life inside you.  Intimacy with someone at work… Intimacy with a cousin or a sister… with the person sitting next to you even if you don’t know them.  What does it mean?  What’s the quality of heart?

“Intimacy with the squirrels that eat the bird seed at the feeder… intimacy with the weeds…intimacy with the wind. Can you begin to sense the quality of openness, of awake-ness, of tenderness, that unconditionally makes room?  The “heart space” where Everything That Is, is welcome?  Intimacy is our potential to realize, and trust, and live from, Loving Presence.

“It’s also a need.  We need Love, to develop in a healthy way.  We need a certain amount of loving attention, intimacy, loving presence from others, for our neurons to grow.  Research shows that even rat pups who don’t get enough attention, don’t grow as many neuron synapses.

“So we have a longing for love and we flourish when love is there, when there’s a sense of belonging.  The poet Hafez says:  ‘The subject tonight is love, and tomorrow night as well. As a matter of fact there’ no better topic to discuss, until we all die ‘.”   “When you figure out love is all that matters after all,” says Carrie Underwood, “it makes everything else seem so small.”

Tara Smile smaller fr Reacting Wiesely 8-10-11Yikes again, did she just put meditation together with attachment love from a good mom, as if it were the same thing?  This shrink’s crazy.  She doesn’t bother to say we need someone else to do it, or specifically with us. She just says we need loving intimacy and she’s calling that Attachment. To her it’s the most natural transition in the world – but to me it’s like jumping over the Grand Canyon.

OK,  I have a regular meditation practice, I’m used to the meditation concept “be present with my breath, the sounds, the flowers, with my friends at the restaurant and the calamari.”  But it never occurred to me to draw a comparison between Present on the one hand — and loving another human being on the other, let alone to say it’s identical.  Astonishing.  Simply being present with another person constitutes loving them?  Whu Nhu?  I guess the words “loving” and “intimate” get sexualized too much?

The real reason I’m so shocked is: I can’t even begin to imagine my mother being Present like that.  Tara says: “And that’s all we need from Mom, to simply feel she is Present.”  But what a leap from Presence with my breath, to intimacy from my mother!  She was so compelled to performance, doing something, getting somewhere.  I can’t imagine my mother just sitting and being gently Present with me. Just saying it sounds like a stark staring mad idea.

Then I notice what’s going on in my gut.

“Ahhh, Yes!” every jangling, anxiety-ridden cell in my body cries out, “this is the source of our attachment disorder, all us cells down here need Love! We don’t feel loved or wanted, we’re terrified of being alone. Skip the new age Intimacy blather, we need love and we need it now!  Hey, what’s playing on Match.com?  Let’s get this Search for Love on the road!

“Us anxious cells were programmed from birth to be practical and to get things done, Skeeter.  Yeah, we read that “General Theory of Love” book by the three shrinks who say “Too many Americans are spurred to achieve, rather than attach.” [FN3]  You said it brother – we cells were programmed to achieve. We’ve got to get to work and get things done! If we don’t perform, nobody will ever love us.”

The Separate Self and Fear

Hold on, I tell my cells, Tara’s only at minute 4:25 of an hour talk. OK she’s a little nutty but let’s see where she goes next.

It’s another whopper. “Then,” says Tara, “We have Rilke, who says: ‘For one human being to love another, this is the most difficult of all our tasks.’  The human realm is filled with misunderstanding, conflict, hurt, anger and insecurity — because we have a basic perception of separation.

“The primal mood of the Separate Self is fear.  It’s core in our conditioning to feel separate, to have all the fight/flight activity from separation.  We start with fear, and due to that, we don’t trust belonging easily.  To the degree we don’t feel a sense of belonging, we don’t trust anyone really loves us… It brings a real deep mistrust… A core wounding that appears… is a basic sense that “I’m not loveable for who I am.  I don’t belong, I can’t trust belonging, I’m not loveable in a real way.”

I Need Love-he's-just-doing-that-to-get-attention-Harry Bliss New-yorker-cartoon“The primal mood of the Separate Self is fear,” I walk around muttering for a few days.  OK, this one’s definitely is not crazy.  Everyone in brain science says that being born is absolutely terrifying; it was warm, now it’s cold; it was dark, now it’s blinding; it was hushed, now it’s scary loud;  “and what’s this stuff in my lungs?” says Bruce Perry.

I know that fear, I’ve felt it all my life, because Dr. Perry also says the baby is designed to feel stress chemicals when this shock hits, so that it cries until the mother holds it, because if it didn’t and she didn’t, the baby would die.  And when she does, the stress chemicals stop and they both get a flood of reward (feel-good) chemicals like oxytocin. [FN4]

Or not.  If mom doesn’t respond, or the baby’s locked up in a glass box in incubation for a few weeks and then after that mom doesn’t respond, the stress chemicals never stop, and the fear continues unabated until it’s overwhelming.  Which is how I lived my entire life until I found that Peter Levine book.  [FN5]

“Conditioning” in Buddhism refers to the false beliefs imprinted on each living thing from birth by external culture and family, the habit patterns of the unconscious.

“The biggest way conditioning gets solidified is the imprint of parenting,” Tara continues. “I’ve kept a long time this cartoon, a little boy with goggles on a ladder spraying paint onto the wall. It says ‘I need love!!’ But his mother and her friend are talking and she says ‘He’s just doing that to get attention.’ [audience laughs] ‘I need love!!’

“But when the love doesn’t come, when there’s neglect, major criticism, abusive behavior, even just a lack of attunement, then the child has to protect from the pain of that. A lot of our personality becomes how we protect ourselves from that raw pain of ‘I’m not loveable as I am.’

“So the fear of love, the fear of intimacy, is also a universal conditioning. We have this perception of separateness, and our nervous system is wired for it, we’re kind of stuck with it.”

“Omigod” say my wounded cells, “we need love, we can’t live without love – but the basis of our entire central nervous system is to FEAR love. You thought we were freaked out before, now we’re really screwed!”  “Wait a minute,” I say, “Didn’t Henry Cloud identify that as the ‘Need-Fear Dilemma’ and explain in depth how to get out of it?   [FN6]

Intrinsic Love

Zen Master DogenBut Tara’s just getting started, and she sees a way out.  If we study this need-fear mess we make of love and see how we’re creating the mess, she says, we can use Dōgen’s “intimacy with all things” to stop messing, heal our bad conditioning, and find the love we need. Let’s explore, says Tara, “what makes Love so difficult… and how to bring our practices of awareness and heart so we can wake up from our conditioning.”

Huh?  I say.  This shrink’s crazy.  So why do I trust her so much?

Then she makes another gigantic leap and says:  “I’ll name the basic principles at the root of any inquiry into waking up in relationships, and one of them is that love is intrinsic to what we are.

“In the most real way possible, we belong to this living world.  We’re made of stardust, we all are composed of the same stuff. We’re breathing in this world, we’re breathing out into it; everything effects everything else. We belong, that’s the basics.

“And when the heart experiences that truth -– in a visceral, vivid way — the experience is love.  Awareness, when it’s awake, when our awareness is aware of our own Presence: we belong to the world, and the world is part of our heart.  It’s intrinsic.

“The yearning to realize love is universal.  Just like a flower wants to bloom, each of us wants to unfold into our wholeness, realize who we really are, and live in that, that’s universal.”

Love is intrinsic, it’s already inside me?  This shrink’s crazy!!  Now even my cells are blowing a raspberry, all in unison.

“Oh phooey! We don’t believe we’re made of stardust for a New York minute,” my cells yell — at me, Tara and the general public. “Everyone knows we’re made of 98 cents worth of chemicals, meat and bones.  Plus we’re all drenched in anxiety and stress from all that fear that we ain’t getting no love, which floods us with cortisol poison at the drop of a hat.”

Hmmm… Wait a minute, dear cells, I say, now perhaps that’s circular reasoning?  Why all the cortisol?  Maybe it’s our bad conditioning?

Maybe our brain stem received bum programming from conception to 36 months, when nobody remembers anything? Forty-five months is a long time to be in adversity for helpless cells. Plus Bruce Perry says that the brain stem gives rise to the rest of the brain and nervous system, which drives the development of our viscera – so if our brain stem got fried, significant parts of our insides got fried in development.

Tara’s got a plan for us to Feel Loved 24×7:  we start to really get it that we are stardust.  Hey, now I think of it, it’s physics and biochemistry that we’re made of stardust.  So obviously we are loved 24 x7, by the Creator of the stars, no less.  No small deal.

Except we don’t feel that way; we often feel like cr–p, ‘cos of our bum programming.  So much happens every day to cause my cortisol to rise.  Bad news from the doctor or the bond market, no time for a good breakfast, traffic, freeways, meetings, hordes of emails in my in-box.

So here’s the plan: let’s take Master Dōgen at his word and try this Intimacy with All Things bit.  Let’s try to be intimate – be Present – with everything and every one we encounter, and do that more and more moments of the day.  Tara says the more we do that, the more loved we’re gonna feel.  Ultimately if we want to feel Loved 24 x 7, we need to be Present with everything and everyone we encounter 24 x7 – they’re all stardust, too.  Sound’s crazy but what have we got to lose?

Tomorrow for just one day, let’s try to implement the Dōgen Plan. For one day, or as big a part of a day as we can hack, we will put 100% of our effort into being Present with What Is.  Come what may.

————————-

Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME:  The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.”  Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  Brach, Tara, PhD, “Releasing  Barriers to Uncondtional  Loving” Pt 1A  (5-15-13) www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHiEAykuvvY&feature=player_embedded
Books:  Brach, Tara, PhD: “True Refuge,”  Bantam Books, 2013 and “Radical Acceptance,” Bantam Books, 2003
Biography:  www.tarabrach.com/about.html
Audios & Videos:  www.tarabrach.com/audiodharma.html
Some of my favorite videos:
1.  Learning to Respond, Not React  8/3/2011 (46 min)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar-L41QMYCM#at=1908
2.  Reacting Wisely to Desire  8-10-11 (50 min)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hka8c4OteYA&feature=player_embedded
3.  Releasing  Barriers to Uncondtional  Loving – Pt 1A  (5-15-13)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHiEAykuvvY&feature=player_embedded
4.  Releasing Barriers to Unconditional  Loving – Pt 1B  (05/15/13)   www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5-AC3re9Ak
5.  Being to Being: Loving Beyond the Trance – Part IA (5-22-13)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha30OPZ_-OI
6.  Being to Being: Loving Beyond the Trance – Part IB  (5-22-13)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqiUMCohJXQ&feature=player_embedded

FN2  Dōgen Zenji: “Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others’ faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others’ faults, then naturally seniors are venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others’ faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha prohibited unwholesome actions, but did not tell us to hate those who practice unwholesome actions.”   Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher born in Kyōto (1200 – 1253).

FN3  Lewis, Thomas, MD; Amini, Fari, MD; Lannon, Richard, MD; “A General Theory of Love”, Random House, 2000. Great link (check it out): www.paulagordon.com/shows/lannon/

FN4  Perry, Bruce, MD,  “Born for Love: The Effects of Empathy on the Developing Brain,” speech to Annual Interpersonal Neurobiology  Conference “How People Change: Relationship & Neuroplasticity in Psychotherapy,”  UCLA Extension, Los Angeles,  March 8, 2013
  Perry, Bruce, MD, “Overview of Neuro-sequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT),” www.childtrauma.org, 2010

FN5  Levine, Peter A., PhD, “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body,” ‘Sounds True, Inc.,’ Boulder CO, 2005; ISBN 1-159179-247-9

FN6  Need-Fear Dilemma in my blog Excommunication Blues
“We have a need in our heart for love, but when it’s wounded or hurt or unavailable, something very bad happens.  We don’t just sustain need.   If my Mom dies when I’m age 7, I can’t just wait 20 years and say  ‘OK now I’ll find someone nice to love me.’  Instead, when we have unmet need or injured need, something bad develops called the need-fear dilemma.  What we need the most, we begin to fear.  If it’s needing love, then we’re uneasy around love.  If we need understanding of our weaknesses, we get very uneasy about being weak.”
–  Cloud, Henry, PhD, “Getting Love on the Inside,” Lecture, April 2002 (CD),  www.Cloud-Townsend Resources.com
“The insecure resistant ambivalent child shown in the video is experiencing what has been referred to as the need-fear dilemma; he both needs the mother for comfort, but something in his history with this mother has instilled fear, and distrust whether he will find what he needs.  The video is of the Strange Situation, developed by  psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to describe secure and insecure attachment. These two attachment patterns are vividly seen in the interaction of two mother-child pairs: http://youtu.be/DH1m_ZMO7GU  ”
Gerson, John, Phd, “Understanding Secure and Insecure Attachment,”  www.theravive.com/research/understanding-secure-and-insecure-attachment

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