HOPE: RECOVERY FROM EMOTIONAL STRESS

ANXIETY: can feel overwhelming, and it is something I have learned how to master at different stages in my life… that I was prescribed valium as a teenager to “calm me down” is another story…about what not to do…but this gateway drug became one of the drugs I used to numb the the pain of existence with…

Because until I came in to recovery from addiction in 1988 when I needed to learn new ways to eventually stop an internal “ringing bell” from causing mental and physical agitation/overthinking.

Panic. Reactivity. Impatience. Frustration. Procrastination. Perfectionism.

Behaviours plus trauma triggers worked to disconnect me from reality… and I needed in my early recovery to learn how to feel safe, boundaried and present….A lifetime of habitually abandoning myself…people pleasing, enmeshment, fusion…velcro relationships based upon trauma bonds were tricky to stay in and and hard to leave behind….in part because my hardwired childhood coping mechanisms fired off to quickly and caused conflict my only available coping mechanism was to run…

Based upon my personal experience in the various stages of recovery that began with a medically supervised inpatient detox and continues with an evolved in spiritual practices and humanistic psychotherapeutic disciplines my “who am I?” easily answered to day: I am a person in longterm recovery.

I recommend to people beginning a recovery process that they ask for help in finding therapist in addition to connecting with a sustainable recovery tribe to support the process between meetings etc… isolation is a trigger and the sense of being that get from my recovery tribe is just beautiful…a small group pf men and women who love me unconditionally but keep my honest. committed to recovery and authentic…

I could not have done this alone…my friends in recovery are still my friends today…without the flow of reciprocity I would not have learned how to grow up..because the first time around in my childhood one did not ‘grow or thrive” …

Enduring a childhood in which chaos was a normal, nurturing rare, and happiness fleeting meant I survived rather than thrived…it has taken many hours in therapy, unpacking my soul’s exquisite pain.. became the building blocks that signify the foundation of my personal recovery.

…this is due to staying current with my recovery tribe, morning and evening meditation, breath work and a mantra…that begins with I am…

I learned the value of breath work when the stress from being in early recovery was overwhelming…to help I began attending immersive retreats to learn how to be comfortable with uncertainty, reduce the free-floating fear of the unknown and be present…. practicing in silence was an advantage that I promptly forgot when I returned home to the frantic pace of 21st century urban living…

The universe, my family and friends have my back..so it is easier to be mindful of how I am showing up, constantly observing myself with the intention to be the best version of me helps silence negative thinking……I do this by continuously affirming and empowering ways to reduce the stress and anxiety that occurs comes from overthinking…

Throughout the day I make the time to pause, step away from the computer, and begin with bring attention to the breath…the first sign I am stressed is when my breathing becomes shallow…so it makes sense to do a few deep belly breaths…this helps reduce tightness in the neck and shoulders…opens up the diaphragm, and on the exhale reduces carbon dioxide levels within the body…

I find visualising being gently pulled up from the crown chakra, from a loving “higher-self-golden thread” straightens my spine, opens up my shoulders, which releases any mind/gut tension and increases oxygen into the body, gently…and soon calmness is restored…and I feel positively grounded in integrity…

Mindful awareness helps me be the best version of me… authentic, autonomous, boundaries and naturally at peace within myself… How important is meditation? For me..it it is essential…I have been practicing meditation for over 40 years, and I consider meditation a way of life…

In the 70’s I spent time training in Transcendental Meditation in the 70’s using a mantra and breathwork. This practice changed my life, but did not stop me from progressing someone with a problem with drugs and alcohol to an addictive personality whose daily dependency upon drugs and alcohol had devastating consequences in all areas of my life……I hurt people, family and friends. It states in the “BIG BOOK” of alcoholics anonymous that prisons, institutions and death await people who use to their detriment…

that I escaped from hell on earth is a miracle…I did not want to get sober for the first time I went to rehab…it was only after a five month relapse and a medical intervention that I surrendered…and stopped self medicating, sabotage and engaging in the slow-suicide that is active addiction..

I am in longterm recovery (over 30 years) my world stopped for a few moments 12th October, 1988, in the moment I heard a voice say…”addiction will not kill you, it will make you lose our mind” and I knew that there was another way and I had to return to 12steps fellowships to find my way out of this living hell on earth…

It is story for another place and time…suffice to say I am a work in progress…with a healthy measure of humility I remain teachable, willing to change, and be the best version of me…my personal recovery is a journey that has taken me to many places…one that proved to be profound was a year spent living in a rural Indian village in 1998.

During this timeout time I had the opportunity to travel to visit sacred sites, ashrams and meet with remarkably spiritual people. I am grateful for this time because of the abundant lessons that helped my in my quest for meaning… I added to my knowledge of meditation by studying Vipassana meditation: “The Art of Living” which means to see things as they really are, and is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.

This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind.

It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

1998, Life in rural India with the local villagers whose love, laughter and hard work imprinted within me the need to be present, aware, autonomous and happy!

BREATHE. BE STILL. BE YOU.

A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.

Source: Northwestern University.

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior. 

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.

Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures.

This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.

This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.

When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.

In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function.  m— tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.

The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said:

“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.ABOUT THIS MEMORY RESEARCH ARTICLE

Other Northwestern authors include Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Dr. Stephan Schuele and Dr. Joshua Rosenow.

Funding: The study was supported by grants R00DC012803, R21DC012014 and R01DC013243 from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Marla Paul – Northwestern University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Video Source: The video is credited to NorthwesternU.
Original Research: Abstract for “Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE