Heal your Trauma with Loving Words

 

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Another world is not only possible,
she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing
.
—Arundhati Roy

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A few years ago, I had a wonderful dream. I dreamt that I was walking around my neighborhood and two brown squirrels scurried up my legs. One perched itself proudly atop my head, while the other one lazily draped itself across my shoulder. They made little happy squeaky sounds.

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For me, this was a moment of incredible bliss! Squirrels are my absolute favorite animals! They represent so much that I love: cleverness, playfulness, and intuition. I felt like an absolute queen with these two beautiful beings adorning my body.

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So, in the dream, I am walking around, asking my friends to take a photo of this amazing moment. I am trying to hand them my phone, saying, “Please, please will you take a picture?” But no one is saying yes. Everyone is shaking their heads, looking at me like I’m crazy. No one else understands the magic of the moment.

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After many failed attempts, I realize finally that no one is going to help me. So, I breathe and just forget about the picture. I settle into the present, feeling grateful. I know I will remember this moment forever—I don’t really need a photo of it anyway.
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When I awoke in my bed, I allowed myself to contemplate the meaning of the dream. I realized that it was a message about how to love myself. The truth is: No one else needs to believe my reality. No one else needs to endorse my viewpoint. The only viewpoint that matters is mine. This is not selfishness—rather, this is the ultimate act of self-love!

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In that moment, I bonded with the squirrels and was in total bliss…who cares what anyone else thought!!
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Similarly, when we are in the process of healing trauma, we learn to appreciate our own words as the most important words.

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At first, it’s a difficult lesson to learn. It seems very counterintuitive. We are raised in a culture that tends to say, “What matters most is what others think about you. What matters most is what the community says.”
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The truth, however, is that the deepest healing happens when we can tune out all other voices and tune into the loving words that we create for ourselves.
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When we talk to ourselves in a compassionate, generous, supportive, unconditionally-loving way, deep restoration happens. We reclaim the vitality that we seemed to have lost in the moment of trauma.
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There are many ways of practicing positive self-talk. One way that I particularly love is called Mirror Magic.

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When you wake up in the morning, before doing anything else, go to your bathroom mirror and look into it. Take a deep breath. Gaze into your own eyes. Then, begin to shower yourself with praise. Tell yourself all the things that your caregivers never told you (or rarely told you) when you were a child. Tell yourself all the things that you wish your past friends and old lovers would have said to you. Tell yourself all the beautiful things that you’ve longed to hear.
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When I practice Mirror Magic, these are some of the things I love to say to myself:

  • You are strong, Anya.
  • You are beautiful, Anya.
  • You are powerful and courageous, Anya.
  • You have so many gifts to share with the world, Anya.
  • You are wise, Anya.
  • I love you no matter what you do, say, or think.
  • I love you unconditionally.
  • You will always have my love and support.
  • I’ve got your back.
  • I’m your best friend.
  • It’s ok…You are doing the best you can.
  • You are perfect, just as you are right now.
  • I love to watch you grow.
  • You’re doing an amazing job, Anya.
  • I like you, Anya.
  • I love you, Anya.

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Please note that when you begin experimenting with Mirror Magic, it may feel very uncomfortable. You may feel like you are doing something wrong or even lying to yourself. Please know that it’s okay to feel this way…and, in fact, it’s totally normal to feel this way!

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When we have undergone trauma, our brains are wired to believe negative statements rather than positive ones. So, when we hear words of praise, we may feel—at first—like something is “wrong.” When we hear beautiful, life-giving words, we may get a stomach ache or we may cringe. We may even begin to cry.

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Even though it might be difficult at first, I encourage you to keep practicing. What you are doing is slowly and gently moving yourself toward a different accepted reality.

 

Through each affirmation, you are constructing a more positive way of viewing yourself and all of life.

 

When I first began to do Mirror Magic on a daily basis, it was so beautiful and also so challenging! First thing in the morning, I would stand in front of my mirror, my hair a mess and my eyes still blurry from sleep. I would set an alarm on my phone for ten minutes. And then, for the next ten minutes, I would gaze into my own eyes, telling myself as many wonderful statements as I could. Another after another after another. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Sometimes spoken softly, sometimes loudly. Oftentimes, I would break down sobbing. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I would maintain eye contact with myself.

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In those moments, watching myself cry, I would feel such immense compassion for the little girl who tended to hear only complaints from her parents. I felt such warmth for the little girl who had few friends as a youngster and was often bullied in school. I felt such tenderness for the young woman who tended to cling onto toxic boyfriends out of desperation and loneliness.

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An important aspect to this practice is how we phrase our statements. In particular, it’s powerful to talk to yourself as “you.” When I say “I love you, Anya” (rather than “I love me”) it creates a powerful dynamic of connection within our brain. By creating our sentences this way, we are subtly tapping into the spiritual source within us.

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Who is the “I” that speaks to the “you”? The “I” is the deeper self, the wiser self, the self that already knows about unconditional love. And who is the “you”? The “you” is the frightened self, the part of you that has been traumatized and hurt. This “you” is like a child: it is longing for affection, warmth, and comfort.
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Through this kind of loving, mothering language, we are creating a sense of connection between the various parts of ourselves that have been disconnected. Yes, fear is a reality that all human beings feel from time to time. However, when we’ve been traumatized, we feel we are drowning in an ocean of fear. It’s too much fear.

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By offerings ourselves loving words, we are throwing out a life preserver for ourselves. It is something that will help us float in this world. It will save us. Even if it feels foreign or scary to do at first, we can learn to do it. And in time, the practice will become easy and even enjoyable. We savor our appreciative words. We thoroughly relish these moments of praise.
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Healing our Trauma, Healing our World

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“Our spiritual journey occurs not in spite of the ambiguous
and problematic experience
of our actual life,
but because of it.” -Reggie Ray

 

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Trauma is a universal experience. It’s something that unites us.
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As human beings, we all have some amount of unprocessed tension, fear, or grief stored within our bodies. This is the challenge of incarnation, the challenge of physical life.
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There’s trauma because there’s immense suffering happening on our planet. Wars, economic inequality, destruction of ecosystems, and racial prejudice are only a few of the most pressing matters. We all feel these horrors, to various degrees: their ripples are felt within our own bodies, as somatic sensations of discomfort and anxiety.

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On a smaller scale, in each of our lives, there’s also the countless moments of heartbreak and shattered trust. For example, emotional neglect from parents is a subtle, often hidden form of trauma that many of us do not even recognize as being trauma. Childhood bullies also leave the wounds of trauma. Even being subjected to a competitive grading system in school can leave a deep, negative imprint, a profound sense of “I’m not good enough.”

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As adults, coping mechanisms serve to hide our unresolved trauma. We drink alcohol or use drugs. We’re constantly texting or on social media. We overeat. We buy lots of things we don’t need. These activities seem normal because everyone else does them. But are they healthy? Are they the most conscious way of living? As we progress on our spiritual journey, we begin to see that we can become more aware of these shadowy coping mechanisms and find alternative routes.

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We can find freedom from the patterns that used to enslave us. We can find joy.

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On one level, it’s quite sad that trauma is a basic human problem. On the other hand, though, it’s a situation that unites us. No matter what country we live in, no matter what language we speak or religion we profess, we all have to deal with grief, sorrow, and pain. We all need to learn how to cry. We all need to learn how to process our emotions and express our needs in a healthy way. So, in a sense, we can feel gratitude that all of us are in this together. We can have empathy for each other and do what we can to help each other.

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We are truly living in ascension times. More people than ever before are waking up to the fact that they are a spiritual being. More people than ever before are realizing that the old-paradigm values of violence, greed, and competition need to die, and we need to be reborn on a planet that values peace, compassion, and sharing.

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We all desire healing. We all hope for a better world. So, how do we get there? A powerful way to move forward is to challenge our stories, our ingrained ways of thinking that have led us to this point.
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To heal our trauma, we must question the stories we have been told by others.
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We can ask questions such as: Is violence really an inevitable part of being a human? Is scarcity the truth of life on this planet, or is there, actually, enough for everyone? Does it feel better for me to compete and “win” over others, or does it feel better in my heart to share?

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As we ask questions and create new stories, we tap into an inner courage. If some others don’t understand us, that’s okay. If others mock us, that’s okay too. We let them go their own way, trusting that they will discover whatever they need for their own journey.

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Healing does not happen overnight. It’s an awakening process that takes time. For many of us who have undergone unspeakable events in life, that process may take many years. (For me, I’ve healed my PTSD, but I still have some very difficult, anxious days.) It can be tempting to want to rush the process, but the key is to allow healing to unfold at its own pace.

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As you heal, know that you have good company along the way! You have community. Mental health professionals, humanitarians, climate activists, and spiritual teachers of all creeds are talking more and more about the amazing potentials of healing trauma. Solutions are being found. Progress is being made. We are coming together. We are doing it.

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Indeed, in the collective healing of trauma, it all begins with conversation. Opening up to each other about things that may have, previously, been too terrifying to discuss. Being vulnerable. Listening.

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Along those lines, let’s open up some dialogue here now. I’d love to see your comments shared below. What’s your definition of trauma? What traumatic event(s) have you healed or would you like to heal in your life? What tools or techniques are helpful for you? What insights have you learned along the way?

Healing Trauma with Rest

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In our fast-paced modern culture, we have a need for speed. The collective psyche is a blur of BusyBusyBusy.
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To put it bluntly, this is insane behavior. It’s harmful for all of us. And, for trauma survivors in particular, the impulse to rush and push ourselves is incredibly destructive.
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In order to fully heal our trauma, we need plenty of rest.
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If you are a survivor of trauma, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than rest on your to-do list. In fact, I invite you to make it your number one priority.

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After resigning from a promising academic career due to sheer exhaustion, I remember so many days of just sleeping. There was literally nothing else I could do. A blue couch became my home. My partner Robert cooked my meals and rubbed my sore, aching head. I had PTSD, migraines, depression, anxiety, candidiasis, adrenal fatigue, leaky gut syndrome, severe food/environmental allergies, eczema, and other chronic illnesses. However, somewhere inside, there was a gentle, loving voice. She was telling me that I could recover, with patience and time. She was telling me that rest was a crucial part of my healing journey.
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I’m so glad I listened.
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Learning the art of rest has been one of the most valuable lessons of my life. I cured myself of PTSD and most of my chronic conditions. (I’m still working on healing my lungs). I feel so much freedom and joy. With each year that passes, I seem to be getting younger! Each year brings more vitality and health. It’s incredible.
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And yes, I still do have difficult days on occasion. When that happens, I give myself full permission to stop what I’m doing and rest.
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I have learned the delicate art of cancelling appointments and saying “no” when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
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I wasn’t always so easygoing and relaxed, though. The healthy Anya who writes this article today is a very different person than the sick Heather who I was back then. (During my healing journey, I changed my name from Heather to Anya as a symbol of my spiritual awakening.) Back then, as Heather, I was a classic Type A personality: impatient, competitive, stressed, and constantly planning and micromanaging life. I was constantly seeking validation from the outside world. I felt little inherent worthiness inside myself. And, because of this, sleeping often felt like failure because I was judging myself by the standards of Western culture. In the West, we judge our worthiness not by our spiritual wisdom but by our ability to “get things done” in the world. Our success is judged by how productive we are. Unfortunately, in my recent travels to India, I discovered that this mindset is slowly seeping into the East as well, which is a true tragedy.
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Success means not how much money you make, but rather listening to your body. Success is not about how popular you are, but rather being brave enough to stop and sleep when you are tired. Success means not building an impressive resume, but rather being brave enough to step outside the box and learn the miracle of self-care.
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If you are on the path of healing trauma, I want you to know you can do it. I thought I would be an anxious mess forever, and now I am happy, with a thriving healing business and a circle of conscious friends who support each other. Life is good.
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As we heal from our past, we can question standard societal definitions of success. We can rewrite the standard scripts and reach for something more deeply fulfilling. We can tune into our own sense of self-worth, regardless of the opinions of others. We can find we love ourselves.
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And it is this love, this unconditional self-love, that is the core of healing trauma.

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My dear love, release the guilt and shame. That’s society’s bullshit—and you don’t need to carry that anymore!
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Please know that are not lazy if you need lots of rest right now. You are not lazy at all… in fact, you are one of the bravest people in the world. You are doing what so many do not yet have the courage to do. You are lighting the way. As you heal your trauma, you allow others to heal their trauma, too.
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Sleep is vital in the trauma healing journey. If what you need right now is 14 or 15 hours of sleep at night and lots of naps during the day, then I invite you to do so. Have compassion for yourself. Listen to your body and soul.
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I invite you to not only give yourself permission to rest but also to find a way to enjoy it. And who knows?…you just might find that rest is a delicious medicine.

Healing Trauma by Listening to Your Body

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This topic is important for everyone.  Chances are, we ALL have some layer of information that our body is carrying that doesn’t feel good.  

 

Trauma can manifest in the body in many different ways: tightness, discomfort, pain, and dis-ease to name a few.  

 

The word “trauma” may evoke immediate thoughts of abuse and molestation. However, trauma may also have been a time in sixth grade when a bully knocked your books out of your arms and laughed; it may have been when a parent yelled at you to stop singing because they had a headache; or maybe it was a time when you were told you were ugly or not good enough.  Any of these types of experiences, and many more, can cause your body to hold onto stuck energy.

 

Trauma is when we have stuck energy in the body. 

 

Trauma can be initiated by many circumstances, including:

  • Rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse
  • Experiences in war
  • Being bullied
  • Car accidents, falls, surgeries
  • Sports accidents
  • Being shamed, yelled at, teased
  • Having emotional or physical support withheld; parents not physically present;  parents present but not emotionally available

 

Having these events happen does not automatically mean your body will hang onto it as trauma. It’s all about how it is met in the moment and how the body and brain responds.  An event that has no long-term effect for one person can create trauma in another, or an event that causes one type of response in one person can cause a completely different type of response in another. (An excellent example of this is the car accident story with Ute and Stan in Chapter 14 of van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.)

 

The events that happen in our life intensely shape our bodies and our minds and drive our actions into adulthood.  Sometimes the events that are particularly mysterious or terrorizing are the ones that happen in the early stages of life as our brains and bodies are newly developing, often before we have a way to verbalize what’s happening. 

 

Peter A. Levine, PhD, pioneer in the field of trauma and developer of the Somatic Experiencing method, describes how we can heal trauma through simple awareness of body sensations:

 

“I learned that it was unnecessary to dredge up old memories and relive their emotional pain to heal trauma. In fact, severe emotional pain can be re-traumatizing. What we need to do to be freed from our symptoms and fears is to arouse our deep physiological resources and consciously utilize them. If we remain ignorant of our power to change the course of our instinctual responses in a proactive rather than reactive way, we will continue being imprisoned and in pain.” (from Waking the Tiger, page 31)

 

I have seen in my work with my own body, and in my work over the years in thousands of hours with clients, a new way of looking at trauma.  I’ve seen over and over that all it really comes down to is this:

 

  • Are you in your body?
  • Are you in the present moment? Is your body on-line? (Brain research by van Der Kolk has shown that certain areas of the brain shut down during trauma. These areas must remain on-line to be able to heal from trauma. Therapy won’t work if we keep being pulled back into the past.  We must be grounded in the present moment: this opens up the possibility of deeply knowing, at a body level, that the horrible events belong in the past.)
  • Are you listening to your body?  (Slowing down)
  • Would you like to make a change? (Honoring free will)
  • Are you willing to feel? (To balance the feeling-heart with the thinking-mind)

 

When all of those answers are a “Yes,” then we can release patterns and rewrite the old scripts that we have been reliving. It often initially helps to have some guidance from someone who can hold safe space for us; but, in time, much of the work can be done alone.

 

We can let ourselves go into the wisdom of our body. All the wisdom’s in there.

 

We also don’t need to feel like we’re stuck in the box of a diagnosis forever. Our body’s capacity to heal itself, to align with its original template of well-being, is immense.

 

It’s really about listening to the guidance and wisdom of the body, and the willingness to be in it.

 

So, no matter what name we give our past pain, I invite you to slow down and take note. When your body gives you a message, listen to it.

 

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Leslie Blackburn, MS, RCST® woke up from a lifetime of “holding on, numbing out and keeping people out” to reconnect with her body, her power and deepest authentic purpose in life.  In that journey from fifteen years in corporate engineering to now ten years as Sacred Sexual Healer & Transformational Guide, she birthed her own unique medicine informed by the wisdom of a wide array of teachers and experiences. Leslie has worked with and inspired thousands of people on the path of Sacred Sexuality, she’s honed ways to liberate others through her story, spiritual teachings and deeply embodied experiential practices. She now offers a path of connecting with your own deep clarity and soul purpose through sexual empowerment.  Leslie bridges the realms to bring deep mystery teachings back into our world from a place of clarity, joy, wisdom and giggles so that we create a culture of love and respect for honoring ourselves, our bodies, each other and the planet.  Love in Action!

 

Leslie offers private sessions to support you to connect with and listen to your body.  She also offers a 3 month leadership and sexual empowerment program supporting sexuality educators and somatic professionals to feel joy and clarity on their soul purpose, learn new tools and build their skills in supporting other’s sexual empowerment.

 

Also, for more about this topic and much more, stay tuned for her upcoming book “Sacred Sexuality: Listening to Your Body.” Subscribe at her website for notice of its release at http://www.LeslieBlackburn.com

 

Releasing Alcohol and Caffeine in the PTSD Healing Journey

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Trauma survivors often struggle with alcohol. We turn to this substance because we desire relief. We hope to numb overwhelming emotions.
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Also, trauma survivors often become addicted to caffeine. We turn to this coping method because we want increased energy. We want to feel happy, alert, vital, and alive.
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However, there comes a certain point in our journey when we realize that our coping mechanisms are causing us more harm than good.
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Embarking upon the path of holistic healing means we will inevitably have to release certain behaviors, in order to bring peace and harmony into our minds and bodies. This is especially true of individuals with PTSD, whose endocrine and nervous systems are overly-stimulated.
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In this article, we will discuss how PTSD survivors can find balance and true, deep, lasting healing. PTSD is not a life sentence. It is absolutely and totally curable. (I speak from experience!)
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One of the ways we can soothe our overly-stimulated endocrine and nervous systems and bring ourselves back into balance is by gradually reducing our intake of alcohol and caffeine.*
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The Harmful Effects of Alcohol
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I think most of us know, in some vague sort of way, that alcohol is bad news for the body. But…why is it bad? Do we really understand the mechanisms behind that feeling of being “drunk”?

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The ethanol content found within alcohol causes blood pressure and heart rate to increase. This bring a sense of giddiness and euphoria…but, also, a difficult time getting a good night’s sleep. For individuals with PTSD, getting plenty of deep, rejuvenating sleep is utterly crucial to the healing process. Sleep is the time when the body is most able to cleanse the negative effects of trauma.
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Let’s not beat around the bush, dear ones. Alcohol is a poison. True, it may help us temporarily relax, but only by sending toxins to the brain that dull our senses. Even a single alcoholic drink can do considerable damage because it puts strain on our liver and immune system. For traumatized individuals, our systems are already severely compromised. Adding alcohol into the mix only impedes our healing.
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During my years as a college undergraduate and then, later, during my PhD program, I consumed vast amounts of alcohol. I was drunk every weekend and many weeknights. At the time, I had no idea that I was suffering from PTSD.
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Looking back, I can see that my refuge into alcohol was simply my way of escaping the pain of the past. I didn’t want to face the memories; I didn’t want to face the terrifying anger that was bottled up inside of me.
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However, my physical and mental health deteriorated as I neared my doctoral graduation and I knew I had to change. I realized that I had a serious problem with alcohol. So, I began to research mind-body connections. I also began to practice Reiki: a form of energy healing that helps many people heal addictions.
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Now, five years later, alcohol is no longer a part of my life.
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I do not miss it.
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The Harmful Effects of Caffeine
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When I released the habit of drinking coffee and caffeinated tea, my body made an astoundingly rapid, positive shift. My panic attacks were greatly reduced and my sleep was vastly improved. I found that I had greater concentration, focus, and balance throughout the day. I felt happier. And to my great delight and surprise, I discovered that I actually had more energy than I ever had while I was consuming caffeine! Unbelievable, but true!
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Contrary to popular opinion, caffeine is not a harmless substance. Just like alcohol, caffeine is a poison. It’s a toxin. It’s harmful not only for trauma survivors, but for everyone.
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When caffeine is ingested, it prompts our bodies to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which then cause our bodies to enter an artificial fight-or-flight mode.
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In addition to being mentally-emotionally addictive, caffeine is incredibly difficult to digest and puts a strain on the liver. This type of constant stress exhausts the endocrine and nervous systems, depleting our bodies of natural energetic resources. For those of us in trauma recovery, this is the last thing we want!
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Just like popping a pill is (usually) not the best solution for lasting healing, so too is turning to caffeine to “gain” energy. When we are feeling tired, it may seem like the smart solution is to go to Starbucks or eat a chocolate bar; however, the long-term effects on the body are horrendous.
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Back in 2011, I remember waiting nervously in the waiting room of my first-ever holistic doctor. (I’d seen dozens of traditional doctors and had undergone very expensive surgery, but nothing had worked to cure my chronic sinus infections.) After scanning my test results, she announced that I had an endocrine system that was functioning at levels normal for a 70-year old person. I was 30 at the time. She looked me squarely in the eye. She said, “If you really want to recover from this, the first thing you must do is to give up caffeine.”
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I wanted to burst into tears right in her office. Give up caffeine???? How in the world would I get through grad school????? For the past three years, I had been surviving chronic illness by drinking 2-4 lattes from Starbucks, daily. How would I make it through my classes? How would I get out of bed in the morning? As my mind raced with these frightening questions, the full impact of my addiction became clear. I had, somehow, begun to equate drinking coffee with the very ability to live my life.

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It was at that moment that a quiet, peaceful voice came into my mind. The voice said, “Don’t worry. You can do this.”
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New Life Patterns
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Since I have released alcohol and caffeine from my life, I have felt healthier and happier with every passing year. I am thirty-five years old today, and I can honestly say that I feel better today than I have ever felt in my entire life! (I was a very sickly child.)
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Saying goodbye to these coping mechanisms was incredibly challenging at times. Yet it was a crucial part of my recovery journey.
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I no longer suffer from PTSD and I live a relatively happy, balanced, peaceful life.
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One of the secrets of releasing something is to replace something old with something new. If we only focus on “quitting” something, then our efforts can often backfire: we can often feel a sense of lack or depravation. However, on the other hand, if we intentionally add in new habits, patterns, or practices, we can often feel a growing sense of abundance and excitement about our new path.
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For me, I have replaced my coffee habit and alcohol habit with positive, healing practices, such as meditation, yoga, and Reiki. I not only look forward to the benefits that I receive from these practices, but I have added motivation to always learn more and dive deeper and deeper, so I can teach them to others.
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My life looks so different than it did even four years ago. Today I have a fulfilling career in the holistic health field. I offer Reiki healing and meditation workshops in a domestic violence shelter, and coach women one-on-one about how they can heal themselves from PTSD.
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And, let me be very clear about something. I am a natural intellectual. I love to think. So, when my team of holistic healers suggested I bring the spiritual practices of Reiki, meditation and yoga into my life, I struggled at first. Because these practices are based on silence and the surrender of thought, I found it difficult to embrace them or have faith in their benefit. However, over time, I have observed the many benefits resulting from these practices and have formed what I call positive addictions to them! For example, when I skip meditating for a day or two, I feel off-kilter and sad! I truly adore meditating now; it brings me such joy.
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And, my taste buds are not complaining, either. Instead of my afternoon latte or weekend wine, I now love to sip organic sparking waters, homemade raw juices, and unsweetened almond milk with cinnamon and raw honey (iced or hot). I also adore caffeine-free herbal teas, such as chamomile, lavender, bergamot, dandelion, and spicy ginger. Yum Yum!
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Slow and Steady Wins the Race
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Dear friends, I know how scary it can be to make big changes.
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My advice is to take it slowly, gently. If you are drinking three cups of coffee or caffeinated tea per day, see if you can reduce your daily intake down to two cups per day, and then one, and then half a cup, and then, eventually, zero.
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A great way to reduce your coffee habit is to blend Teeccino in with your coffee, a blend of rich herbs that taste and smell every bit as delicious as coffee but is absolutely caffeine-free. (Seriously, thank God for Teechino…if it didn’t exist, I probably would miss coffee very much.)
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If you normally drink a bottle of wine every weekend, see if you can have just a glass with dinner once or twice a week.
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If we make changes gradually, then the pain of change is not so intense. If we are gentle with ourselves, then we are free and excited to make the changes we know we want to make.
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As we make wise choices that help us heal from PTSD, we remember that the comfortable or easy choice might not always be the best choice. Sometimes, what our bodies need may be different from what our emotions are craving. And, sometimes making changes can require a certain amount of discipline.

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Change takes patience. There will be setbacks sometimes. Healing takes time.

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Ultimately, when we set the intention to heal our body, mind, and soul from trauma, we choose to prioritize self-love and self-compassion. We listen for the loving voice within, the one that says: “You are a survivor. You can do anything.”
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Ultimately, it is our own inner guide that will guide us, every step of the way.
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*Please note: I am not a medical doctor. I am not a medical professional. I am not a psychologist or nutritionist. In no way does this article constitute a prescription or official medical advice. Rather, what I am gently suggesting here is simply personal opinion, based upon my own personal experience and research.

Feeling Safety: A Guided Meditation

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This is a guided meditation for when we are struggling with anxiety and negative thoughts.

 

The underlying cause of anxiety and negative thinking are false beliefs. These false beliefs are fear-based. Quite simply, we don’t feel safe in the present moment. We don’t feel safe in our bodies. We feel that, just around the corner, there is probably a menace, a terrible awful thing that is about to happen—and so we stay on guard.

 

This is where anxiety comes from. This is where worried, dark thoughts come from, as the brain tries to save itself by imagining and planning for worst-case scenarios.

 

This meditation, “Feeling Safety” is very simple. We can practice anywhere, anytime. We can do it during a meeting at work. We can do it while you’re with your children or at the grocery store. It can be done with our eyes open and while we are standing or moving.

 

The meditation brings a feeling of peace, ease, and safety because it draws our attention away from the vicious loop of negative thinking. It places our attention squarely on three simple things: hands, feet, and mantra.

 

Through this meditation, we replace the negative thinking with a positive truth that will instill confidence to return to our daily life. Understanding that we are, ultimately, safe and protected within the home of our bodies gives us a sense of ease and confidence. The fact that our bodies are firmly rooted to the Earth through our feet is a metaphor for what is true on a spiritual level: we are always connected, we are always safe.

 

As with any meditation, please make this your own. Feel free to add your own elements, and/or skip parts of this meditation that don’t make sense for you. Play with it. Feel it out. Take what works, and discard the rest.

 

Step One

Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious and having negative thoughts. In your mind say, “Okay, now I will do the Feeling Safety Meditation.”

 

Step Two

Begin to gently tap your fingertips against the palms of your hands. You can start with your left hand. Simply observe the sensation of it—the physical sensations of your fingertips tapping against the palm of your hand. Are your fingers hot? Cold? Sweaty? Sticky? Is the skin of your palm soft or rough? Are your joints flexible or stiff? Is the movement fast or slow? Are there sounds? Are your nails sharp? Simply notice, on a physical level, how it all feels. After you’ve done this with your left hand, repeat the same process with your right hand. Do this for a few minutes.

 

Step Three

In unison, with both hands simultaneously, tap your fingertips against your palms. Try to coordinate the movement so that both hands are perfectly in tune.

 

Step Four

While continuing to tap your fingertips against your palms, repeat the mantra: “I am home in my body. I am safe in my body.” If you are with others, you can say the mantra silently in your mind. If you are alone, you can say it out loud. Say this mantra as many times as you need to until you begin to feel calmer and more peaceful.

 

Step Five

Now stop tapping your fingertips against your palms. Begin to gently tap your feet against the ground. If you are in public amongst others, this can be a very subtle thing—just a very light tapping will do. If you are alone, you can tap more forcefully, if you wish. You could even stomp on the ground, feeling the vibration rise up through your leg. As you tap or stomp your feet, continue to the say the mantra “I am home in my body. I am safe in my body.” Do this as many times as you wish until you feel better and ready to continue your day.

♥♥♥

 

How did this meditation go for you, dear ones? I’ve love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Heal Your Trauma with Nutritious Foods

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Many of us are familiar with a few popular methods for healing trauma: counseling, exercise, meditation, and hypnotherapy. But what if we were still missing a key piece to the healing process? What if there was another powerful tool?
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For over a decade, I struggled with panic attacks, chronic fatigue, severe allergies, and other PTSD-related symptoms. I constantly felt sick and had trouble maintaining my energy levels. I tried various methods of healing, but it wasn’t until I changed my diet that I noticed significant changes.
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Quite simply, the food we put into our mouths is one of the core elements of healing.
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Since I changed my diet, I have felt healthier and healthier with each passing year. I am thirty-five years old today, and I can honestly say that I feel healthier than I have ever felt in my entire life!
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I currently work as an intuitive life coach in a variety of therapeutic settings, including yoga/wellness studios and in a domestic violence shelter. In addition to my own healing journey, the work I’ve done with traumatized individuals has proven to me that food plays an ENORMOUS role in how quickly we can recover.
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In this article, I’ll discuss 3 keys to a trauma recovery diet that promotes deep, lasting healing.*

 

  1. NOURISH YOUR BODY WITH PLENTY OF ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS.
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Antioxidants are natural substances that promote healthy circulation of energy through increased blood flow. Healthy circulation helps the body cleanse itself of toxins as well as reduce out-of-control inflammation.
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As you can imagine, getting enough antioxidants is important for every human being… but for PTSD and trauma survivors, antioxidants are especially crucial. Antioxidants help us by uncoiling tension and stuck energy within the body. This promotes peace and relaxation, which helps us feel safe in the world.
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Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans are all rich in antioxidants. Some specific foods that have the highest levels are: blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, pecans, artichokes, elderberries, kidney beans, cranberries, cilantro, basil, ginger, and any type of dark leafy green.

 

  1. INCREASE YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE.
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The intense experience of trauma forces us to adapt. In response to the wounds, we learn coping mechanisms that allow us to numb or even energetically flee our bodies altogether. In soul healing methods, such as those discussed in the peer-reviewed article “Trauma and Dissociation“, deep-rooted healing happens when there is a reunion between body and spirit.
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Common symptoms of unresolved trauma include the reoccurring sensations of feeling floaty, shaky, dizzy, unbalanced, or ungrounded. Protein helps us resolve these symptoms.
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Protein calms the nervous and endocrine systems. On a spiritual/energetic level, protein helps us to connect more solidly with Mother Earth. Protein helps us to come back into our bodies and to feel strong and safe there.
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Some foods that are high in protein are: nuts, seeds, beans, peas, lentils, brown rice, tempeh, kefir, mushrooms, and spinach.
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A Note on Eating Meat

People usually think about meat when they think of protein. The question of whether or not to eat it is entirely up to your judgment.
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Eating meat is your choice and no single rule works for everyone. At certain phases of a person’s healing journey, meat can be beneficial. At other phases, though, it can be destructive.
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Listen to your body. Eat a bite or two of meat and then observe your body and emotions for the next few hours afterwards. Do you feel renewed? Grounded? Queasy? Sluggish? Angry? Be open to the messages your body is telling you, whether positive or negative.
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If you feel that eating meat is good for you at this time, I encourage you to think about what’s easiest to digest. Allowing your digestive system the lightest possible amount of “work” frees up more energy that is then available to your body for healing. Typically, red meat and pork are the most difficult for people to digest. Fish is often the easiest.
Also, if you are going to eat meat, I suggest limiting yourself to eating only happy meat—meat that comes from grass-fed, free range, organic, humanely-treated animals.
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Why? The answer is about energy. As trauma survivors are quite often energetically sensitive souls, it is not advised to consume meat from an animal that has suffered greatly. An animal that has been tortured (what happens in factory farms) will have vibrations of fear, pain, and terror imprinted into each cell. When a human being then eats the meat from such an animal, they are—quite literally—ingesting those difficult emotions as well.

 

As we eat increased amounts of protein, in whatever form our bodies ask for, we connect energetically to the Earth and we re-enter our bodies in a more balanced, grounded way. We have the energy to complete our daily tasks without overwhelm, and we build the functionality of our muscles. We become strong in the world again.

 

  1. AVOID TOXIC, STRESSFUL FOODS
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We survivors can often become addicted to certain unhealthy foods. We do this as a kind of coping method. We want to find relief from negative emotions.
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However, when we are working on healing trauma, it is so important that we do everything we can to calm our physical body. To put our body in certain conditions that will promote peace and tranquility. When we are traumatized, our fight-or-flight mechanisms have gone haywire, and so our bodies are typically poised at the edge of fear on a constant basis.
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Unhealed trauma means an overly-adrenalized endocrine system and an overly-stimulated nervous system.
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In trauma recovery, there is a core group of substances that cause more stress on the body. These substances need to be gradually released for a full healing process to occur. In general, it is wise to avoid: processed sugars, processed white flours, foods laden with artificial chemicals, foods with pesticides (non-organic foods), GMOs, alcohol, and caffeine.
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The last two on the list—alcohol and caffeine—are the most toxic, stressful substances of all for trauma survivors. For more information, please see my article “Releasing Alcohol and Caffeine in the PTSD Healing Journey.”

 

♥♥♥

 

Dear friends, as you walk this beautiful path to wellness and to a vibrant, peaceful life, please know that you are not alone. There are countless others who walk this path.
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I have healed myself, and now I’m here to tell you that you can heal yourself, too.
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Trauma is not a life sentence. You can heal. You will heal.
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As you make choices about what’s most nourishing for your body, remember that the comfortable or easy choice might not always be the best choice. Sometimes making changes can require a certain amount of discipline. And, it takes gentle patience. There will be setbacks sometimes. Healing takes time.
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Ultimately, when we set the intention to heal our body, mind, and spirit from trauma, we choose to prioritize self-love and self-compassion. By listening for what is the most loving, compassionate choice, we then naturally begin to make better choices that promote our long-term health and vitality.

 

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*Please note: I am not a medical doctor. I am not a medical professional. I am not a psychologist or nutritionist. In no way does this article constitute a prescription or medical advice. Rather, what I am gently suggesting here is simply personal opinion, based upon my own personal experience and research.

 

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How to Heal Your Panic Attacks

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By Anya Light

 

It is easy to heal panic attacks once you understand what a panic attack truly is.
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A panic attack is simply a message from the universe. It is a wake-up call.
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The next time you feel panic coming on, if you can remember the words I’m writing to you here, I assure you that the feeling of panic will begin to dissipate.
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I am here to tell you that you can heal your panic attacks, permanently and completely!
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Before I share the details of how to heal, please know that I deeply empathize with what you’ve been going through. I struggled with panic attacks for over a decade, stemming from a long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have now reached the point in my life where I no longer have panic attacks.
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So, my friends, what is a panic attack?
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Well, on a surface level, a panic attack appears to us as a seeming loss of bodily and mental control: rapid heart rate, sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shaking, unexplainable feelings of paranoia and impending doom, racing thoughts, and a wish to retreat from others and hide in a cave.
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Panic attacks feel awful and scary. They make us feel like we are our own worst enemy—like we can’t even trust our own bodies or our own minds.
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It’s a feeling of total distrust. It is fear and horror.
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But what is a panic attack, really? What is a panic attack at the deepest level?
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Dear friends, a panic attack is a message. It is an invitation from the universe to go deeper into ourselves.

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Quite simply, a panic attack is the universe’s way of saying:
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Dear one, it is time for you to come back into your body.
Dear one, it is time for you to come back into your body.
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Yes, my friend, it is indeed time for you to come back into your body. That is why you have been drawn to this article. You have reached the point where you are ready to heal.
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Panic attacks happen when our spirit (some people also call this “soul” or “life spark”) has been living primarily outside of our body for a period of time, and the pressure has built up. When the pressure builds to a certain extent, the universe brings us a panic attack, so that we are forced to retreat from the company of others and go be alone. It is through this aloneness that we begin to feel ourselves, from the inside, for the first time in a long while—or perhaps for the first time in our lives.
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A panic attack signals we have lost our mind-body connection.
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A panic attack reminds us to bring mindfulness into our lives.
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Through the seemingly “negative” experience of a panic attack, we are forced to bring our attention inward to the body.

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Even though it seems negative, a panic attack is actually a good thing, because it forces a moment of mindfulness. Even though it feels scary, we are suddenly paying a lot of attention to our body’s physical sensations. We are noticing our rapid heartbeat. We are noticing our fast and shaky breath. We are noticing our dry mouth and queasy stomach. We are noticing the weakness in our limbs. We are noticing all these different sensations.
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It is the sheer act of noticing that begins to heal the disconnection from our bodies.
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Perhaps, at first, it may seem nonsensical to hear that your spirit has not been fully living inside your body. How is that possible, you ask? If I have been alive and walking around, how have I not been in it?
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Well, if you have experienced any form of abuse, trauma, chronic illness, or severe pain in your life, there is a good chance that your spirit (the indwelling spark that is uniquely you) has felt very unsafe and has tried to protect itself by not fully occupying your physical vessel. You have been, instead, hovering near and around your body. You have been near your body, but not often fully in it.
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Another scenario that can provoke the spirit fleeing the body is our genetic or karmic histories. If you have suffered in an extreme way in a past lifetime—or if your genetic heritage includes extreme trauma such as war or violence, and those core wounds have not yet been healed—then those past energetic wounds have led you to not feel safe enough to fully occupy your body. Genetic and karmic histories explain why some people who’ve had easy, pleasant, or even wonderfully pampered life experiences still have unexplainable anxiety and panic attacks.
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Another reason why you may not have felt safe inside your body is that you are an empath or a naturally gifted intuitive, but you were raised in an environment where your gifts were suppressed rather than nurtured. Thus, when you were a child, you unconsciously shut down certain chakras and partially fled your body.
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There are many, many reasons why we don’t feel safe in our bodies. Your reason(s) may be one of the ones I just listed, or it may be totally unique to you.
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Regardless of the reason, however, the point to understand is this: if you’ve been experiencing panic attacks, then, most assuredly, for some reason or another, your spirit has not been fully dwelling inside your body. In other words, your mind-body connection has been severed.
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So, how do we move forward?
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What does it mean to fully occupy the body?
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To be firmly rooted in the body is to have attention focused into the body consistently and at various intervals throughout the day. This is what mindfulness is all about: feeling the sensations of our bodies without mental judgments or mental labeling.
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To be firmly rooted in the body is to feel you are truly safe there, to feel that it is your home.

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When a panic attack strikes—or if you feel anxiety building—you can prevent a panic attack, and you can heal your anxiety. Simply take a few deep, slow breaths and say the following mantra yourself:
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I am safe to come back into my body.
I am safe, here, inside my body.
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And, then, simply look down at your body. Notice your hands and feet, your legs. Notice your arms and torso. Gaze at your body while breathing slowly. Bring your attention to all the various sensations within your body: the aches, the pains, the shivers, the tingles, everything. Imagine in your mind’s eye that your soul is entering your body and fully occupying it. Imagine that you are taking up residence there, inside your body, and that it is fully safe to do so.
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Our culture teaches us to neglect our body. It teaches us to poison ourselves with unhealthy foods and unhealthy lifestyles. Our culture teaches us that what others say or think about us is more valuable than what we feel within.
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Our mainstream culture is a fear-based culture. It wants to enslave us with thoughts of lack, competition, scarcity, and violence. No wonder we have panic attacks! It can feel pretty scary living on this planet right now. Even if we did not experience any major abuse in our childhood, all of us were raised on a planet where there are some people who starve to death while some people live in mansions. That is emotional abuse, plain and simple. And this emotional harshness affects us deeply and creates lasting (often subconscious) feelings that it is not safe to be here in our bodies here on planet Earth.
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All of us, to some extent, leave our bodies from time to time. We get carried away in daydreams. We sit in front of the computer for hours at a time and lose all connection with our breath and the sensations in our limbs. We stay indoors watching television and forget to go out into the rivers and forests for exercise and deep replenishment.
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We all get disconnected from time to time; we all get disembodied from time to time.
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So, when a person has a panic attack, it is a very clear and loud wake up call from the universe.
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Yes, panic feels frightening; it feels awful, yes—but that’s only the universe doing its best to grab our attention.
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My friend, you are being protected and cared for by the universe.

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Because of your panic attacks, you are reading this article and pondering deeply about what it means to be a human being and what it means to be alive in a body. These are deep issues. These are issues that not everyone has the courage to explore.

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And while this may seem odd to hear, I want to congratulate you for reaching this stage of your evolutionary journey. You have now thoroughly explored the land of anxiety and panic, learned all its corners and routes and territories, and now you are ready to emerge from it: deeper, wiser.
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Eventually, you will grow so confident in the fact that panic attacks are a past issue that you will feel an urge to share your wisdom with others. You will teach. You will help humanity heal.
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Thank you for being you, and blessings on your journey back into the body.
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Many thanks to the awesome folks at elephant journal, who also published this article.