Take a Break #2

Camera+Doodle 1
Camera+Doodle 1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
the harder we try
the more evasive the problem
try by not trying
>>:::<<

We all need to take breaks, regardless of what we are doing.  I’ve experienced the mental blocks at work where I needed to walk away from a problem and come back to it later with a different perspective.  I’ve had the “creativity block” where I just cannot think of a haiku to write, a subject for a blog post, or an image I wanted to work on and what to do with it.  Sometimes trying to get rid of anxiety and giving it attention makes the anxiety even worse.  With chronic pain, sometimes meditation or a diversion will help temporarily reduce the pain.

There are countless examples where we need breaks. Getting an answer is part of trusting, without being critical, that putting it aside for a while will bring an answer.

I created this image above, which is a combination of a doodle and a photo of a Western Scrub Jay that visits us daily for peanuts.  This is my first attempt at what I have been calling a Camera+Doodle.  I have more in mind and it is the result of something different I wanted to do.  In fact, it was the result of “try by not trying.”

This scrub jay does come very close to us, but I noticed the harder I try to get him to come closer, the more distance he leaves between us.  If I just ignore him and go about my business, he usually comes closer.  He has yet to take food from my hand, but one of the squirrels here will gently take peanuts from me.  Also, a chickadee landed on my hand last fall, picked up a peanut, paused and looked at me for a few seconds before leaving.  The closest this scrub jay came to me was recently when I was feeding the squirrel. He landed beside me, looked right at me and squawked as if to say, “Hey!  That’s MY peanut!”  The squawk made the poor little squirrel jump, and he scampered away.

Some day this scrub jay will take a peanut from me, just like in the image above.  I just have to be patient and “try by not trying.”

Do you have examples of “try by not trying” that you would be willing to share?  I’d love to know about it!

Linking up with:
WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY

Addressing Emotional Pain #6 – Flashbacks

Squirrel Spinning
Squirrel Spinning, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
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>>:::<<
a sudden rewind
engulfs me in a whirlwind
flashback
>>:::<<

Do you experience flashbacks of traumatic, sad or other painful events?

A description of flashbacks is:

a psychological phenomenon in which an individual has a sudden, usually powerful, re-experiencing of a past experience or elements of a past experience. These experiences can be happy, sad, exciting, or any other emotion one can consider. The term is used particularly when the memory is recalled involuntarily, and/or when it is so intense that the person ‘relives’ the experience, unable to fully recognize it as memory and not something that is happening in ‘real time.’  Flashbacks are the ‘personal experiences that pop into your awareness, without any conscious, premeditated attempt to search and retrieve this memory.’  (Source: Wikipedia)

I have grouped painful flashbacks as part of  the “addressing emotional pain” category because I’ve learned through my pain psychology sessions that they are handled similarly to emotional pain.  In previous postings, I included some of the tools that can help with painful emotions, including having an awareness of the body and how it is feeling, physically and emotionally.

Certain situations (events, places, smells, comments, time of year, etc.) can trigger flashbacks.  They can be very uncomfortable and lead to feelings like fear, sadness, anxiety, panic attacks, etc.  There are a few situations that trigger flashbacks for me.  They can go as far as feeling anxiety, and a couple even resulted in panic attacks.

A flashback can feel very real, and your body may think it is a real event.  When a flashback occurs, what are some things we can do to get through it?  The key thing to remember is that the traumatic event in the flashback is not happening now even though the emotions, fears, and physical responses may be the same.  Over time, the reactions to the flashbacks will diminish.  Some with take more work than others.  The goal is to get to the point where they are “just memories” and that’s it.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Breathe and practice relaxation techniques
  • Allow your body to feel what is happening and have a curious acceptance about those feelings.
  • Use some of the tools I’ve talked about to address emotional pain like mindfulness meditation, body awareness, guided imagery, etc.  Click here to see more examples.
  • Have empathy for yourself and coach yourself through it calmly and objectively.  For example, some of the things I’m learning to say to myself are:
    • “I wonder what this means.”  (This is an important one for me because it involves seeking guidance from our inner advisor, which I’ve also posted about before.)
    • “What was the trigger?”
    • “I am remembering things very vividly, but it is not happening to me now.”
    • “This is uncomfortable, I hate it, but I got through this before and I will get through it again.”
    • “It will not kill me.”
    • “I have the skills and tools to help me, and I know how to use them.”

Although coping with some of my flashbacks still need more work, there are a few that now carry no emotion, no hurt, and no anxiety if the memories occur…they have gradually become “just memories!”

If you have experienced painful flashbacks, what methods have helped you get through it?

More

Emotion: Feeling Angry?

Squirrel Anger
Squirrel Anger, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
volcano surges
lava guided to safe path
disaster averted
>>:::<<

Feeling angry?  Have you ever been so angry that you felt like punching something (like this little squirrel appears to be feeling)?

Feeling angry is not bad.  Remember, experiencing a variety of emotions depending on our circumstances, is a fact of life.  They are going to happen and they need to happen, and are a natural occurrence.  Anger is an intense emotion and can carry a great deal of force and energy with it.  If we bottle this energy inside us, it will come out later in one way or another, such as lashing out at others or as health problems, for example.  A number of tools exist that can help us analyze and express negative emotions, including anger, in a safe and healthy way.  Trying to stop the energy from anger may feel like trying to stop a hurricane, but, no, punching someone is NOT ok.

It’s important to recognize that anger is generally a secondary emotion, which I discussed in a previous posting.   Anger is usually a response to a primary emotion or situation, and when we analyze our anger, we may discover that there are different emotions and feelings at the core, such as shame, fear, worry, guilt, embarrassment, etc.  (If we assume the little squirrel above is angry, what could be it’s primary emotion?  Fear, perhaps?)

Previously, I listed a number of tools that I keep in my toolbox to help analyze and address emotions.  There are numerous other ways that also exist, and each of us needs to find the tools, or combination of tools that work for us.  I’ve listed these before, but here is a handful of tools that may help:

  • Managing symptoms by expression:
    • Talk out your emotions with a good friend or relative who is willing to listen
    • Write about your feelings in a journal or through poetry
    • Cry.  It is “part of a healthy emotional healing process”
    • Express your feelings through art, photography or crafts (like I did with the squirrel photo above)
  • Do some kind of exercise like walking, jogging, aerobics, etc., that can use the emotional energy associated with the anger and move it out of your body
  • Practice deep breathing exercises; meditate
  • Addressing Emotional Pain #2 – Tools
  • Addressing Emotional Pain #4 – Secondary Emotions

Finding safe and healthy ways to release painful and negative emotions from our bodies creates space for more positive emotions to move in, and more peace within our life.

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What are some of the ways you have found to help manage anger?
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Related article(s):

  • Anger – Recovery Thru My Lens

More

Listening to Your Inner Advisor

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The Master observes the world 
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.
~ Lao Tzu

Conversation with myself
Conversation with Myself, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
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>>:::<<
a resonating voice
soundless yet influential
listen and trust it
>>:::<<

Have you ever looked inside yourself to find answers to your questions, whether it’s help with a problem, a project, making decisions, finding out what’s behind some of our health issues and what we need to heal, determining the reason for certain recurring memories, or even why some situations seem to trigger strong emotions, etc.?  Our questions can involve a variety of issues, and sometimes the answers you receive can be very surprising, as depicted in my photo above.

Those who understand or practice mind/body exercises like meditation or guided imagery probably understand how important it is to consult and trust our inner voices, ie., tapping into our subconscious for help (also referred to as our “inner advisor” or “inner physician” – I like to use the term “inner advisor,” which I introduced in my posting here about a year ago ).  This also helps build and strengthen our intuition. More

Quotes From The Masters: Plato

Encouraging
Encouraging, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
~ Plato

>>:::<<

Check out the left foot on this scrub jay.  It is deformed but he carries on regardless of how limiting it may be.  I’ve noticed he has more difficulty perching on the bird feeders than his mate.

As for me, I am gradually healing.  It is slow and there have been bumps in the road, both large and small, but there is still progress.  Even small successes are definite reasons to celebrate.  Also, sorry for the long delay since my last posting, and thank you for being patient.

This post is in response to a blogging challenge by Robin in her blog, “Bringing Europe Home” where she hosts a periodic blogging challenge called “Quotes from the Masters.”  These quotes can be used as inspiration for your own interpretation whether it be a photo, story, poem, song, etc.  I thought the Plato quote fit well in this blog.

Linking up with:
MACRO MONDAY
WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY
NATURE NOTES

Acceptance

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
no fences to confine
yet unable to soar great heights
acceptance
>>:::<<

Recently, we visited a local aviary that had two resident golden eagles, this being one of them.  At first, we found it odd that their exhibit was in the open, with no fencing to keep them from flying away.  There was only a short fence to keep visitors at a distance.  Then we read the information posted about them.  Both eagles had lost one of their wings in the wild and were unable to fly, and unable to leave.  The eagle in this photo kept trying to fly, though.  Each time, it would position itself for takeoff, spread it’s wing, jump off the log, crash hard to the ground, and clumsily pick itself up and jump back on the log.  The other eagle did not attempt to fly while we were there.  These eagles will never be able to soar majestically to great heights again…at least not on their own.

Regardless of how hard we try, there are things we may never be able to do again, whether the restriction is physical, or the risk of physical or emotional injury far exceeds the benefits of persisting.  There may also be other stressful situations in our life that are out of our control and that we are unable to change.  Although difficult, acceptance is key.  Then we can decide what to do about the situation, and determine the best course of action that allows us to move forward in a healthier way.

What are some things you have had to accept?

Pasque Flower

Pasque Flower
Pasque Flower, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

Recently, we visited at a local botanical garden where we saw these lovely, colorful Pasque flowers in it’s Medicinal Garden section.  The blooms and seed heads were mingled with each other creating a nice contrast to me.  As I was taking photos, we saw the following sign next to the flowers:

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Interesting.  I had not heard of Pasque Flower before, so later, I looked it up on Wikipedia.  Pasque refers to Easter, and the flower blooms in early spring.  It also states Pulsatilla have been used to treat reproductive problems, and that the plant “is highly toxic, and produces cardiogenic toxins and oxytoxins which slow the heart in humans…”  Also, Drugs.com refers to Pasque flower as “extremely toxic and should not be ingested or applied to the skin.”  Such a pretty flower, and it sounds like one needs to be very careful around this plant.

Related articles:  

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