Grappling with PTSD

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Flea

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I'm intrigued by you country dancing! what sort do you do?
It's called Contra Dancing ... from http://www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis/ ...

A caller, usually working with a group of live musicians, guides new and experienced dancers alike through a variety of dances. A dancer and his or her partner dance a series of figures, or moves, with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same figures with another couple, and so on. The figures are similar to those of old-time square dancing. The figures are combined in different ways for each different dance.

** EDIT ** to add this Youtube link for any contra geeks or punishment gluttons:

I wound up not going though ... I went down my icy steps yesterday ****-first and it just didn't bode well for two hours of jumping and spinning. I used to be a hardcore regular, traveling to other cities many Saturday nights just to jump and spin. It's one thing that made me fall in love with Systema - some of it feels downright ballroom. I have a hard time occasionally with not suddenly dipping. I don't think the teacher would appreciate high heels on the mats though. :wink1:
 
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shesulsa

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Just a side interjection. MT prides itself on trying to be as accessible to everyone as it can be, and as was mentioned earlier, we have a private Womans Only forum. We take it's sanctity seriously, and validate access to ensure it's private and womans only. Even I don't have access to it. On that note, if any of the ladies ever feel harassed, stalked, or otherwise made to feel "wrong" on here, notify our staff immediately.

What he said.
 

Tez3

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It's called Contra Dancing ... from http://www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis/ ...

A caller, usually working with a group of live musicians, guides new and experienced dancers alike through a variety of dances. A dancer and his or her partner dance a series of figures, or moves, with each other and with another couple for a short time. They then repeat the same figures with another couple, and so on. The figures are similar to those of old-time square dancing. The figures are combined in different ways for each different dance.

** EDIT ** to add this Youtube link for any contra geeks or punishment gluttons:

I wound up not going though ... I went down my icy steps yesterday ****-first and it just didn't bode well for two hours of jumping and spinning. I used to be a hardcore regular, traveling to other cities many Saturday nights just to jump and spin. It's one thing that made me fall in love with Systema - some of it feels downright ballroom. I have a hard time occasionally with not suddenly dipping. I don't think the teacher would appreciate high heels on the mats though. :wink1:


My daughter used to do ballet and when she started karate she seemed to have a head start over me! I've only know country dancing as in Scottish country dancing or Morris dancing. I think it's a shame that people don't dance very much anymore, lively music, good company and physical movement go a long way to lifting the spirits!

Sounds like you to need to do a bit of Judo for the breakfalls if you are going tumbling! I'm sure there's a thread on here that shows how people have used their break falling skills in situations like icy roads! I shall have to look up Systema, I've heard of it but not seen it in action as it were!.

Training in high heels would be fun lol, my daughters only five foot so when she goes out she wears huge high heels lol! She can run in them even, amazing!
 
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I shall have to look up Systema, I've heard of it but not seen it in action as it were!.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbvzFXwHJnU&feature=related

The guy with the shaved head is me. (Riiiiiiiiight ...)

One thing I like about Systema is that there isn't much in the way of "technique." It's more about improv; the idea being that if someone comes at you with a movement not addressed by a particular technique, you're out of luck. I'm still wrapping my head around the basic movement style, but after 4 months it's starting to get a little intuitive. Last week I threw someone off balance a few times without realizing it. The teacher said "You've got the timing down! Great!" At this point my rational mind kicked in and I couldn't figure it out. So I gave up and decided not to try, and got it perfectly again. :cool: Systema is very zen that way, and as a Buddhist that also helps me understand. The constant reminders of that zen has also been excellent for my own spiritual practice too.

I've decided to talk to my teacher about all this and initiated a round of phone tag. I'm not exactly sure what I'll say, but I just don't want to let this sit for too long in case I can't go on Thursday. It's not rational, but I'm starting to get a "clear the air" feeling to all this. I know I didn't do anything wrong and nobody has any reason to be mad at me over it. I guess I just don't want to give that feeling a toe-hold. Like I said, the whole thing has been embarrassing.
 
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Mea culpa. Sorry about the double post!
 
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A quick update - I went back to class last night. Results, naturally, were mixed.

First, the negative ... I took the teacher aside beforehand to talk, got all flustered and babbled something or other. I did decently well for most of the class, occasionally sitting down. By the last half-hour I couldn't focus anymore and kept defaulting to things I had learned in my first couple classes. By the end I was time-traveling like Doctor Who, with my visual memory even superimposing itself right onto the classroom. Trippy - never had that happen before. Once is enough for me.

The positive ... Above all, I stuck it out. I even learned something, and while I still relatively lucid, it was fun. After I got home I thought back and realized that the teacher went to great lengths to keep me comfortable. The usually loud and boisterous atmosphere was very quiet and subdued. The teacher worked with me almost exclusively, and gave me barely discernible pressure at every turn. I didn't say anything, but I really appreciated it.

The other day I went back to the shelter and found myself with a different therapist, who kept repeating the canned answer that I need therapy, therapy, therapy. Finally she told me about a support group meeting. I'll hold my nose, but clearly I need something so I'll give it a try. Even the teacher suggested that I "find someone to talk to." *sigh*

I'm still determined to stick this out. I've only been at MA for a few months, but I've already overcome some other obstacles. This is just another one ... a really big one ... but just another one. I've decided on a specific circuit-breaker to give myself permission to quit. Until then? I'll take it day by day.

Thanks for reading, everyone.
 

Tez3

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I'm not putting down therapy but it does seem to be almost a national sport in America! It's not nearly as common in UK and Europe. What that means I'm not sure!
A friend of mine, an RAF psychiatric nurse did a tour in Iraq a couple of years ago and worked with his American counterparts, he was amazed at the fact that nearly everyone was in therapy, therapists included. He was told the theory is that everyone has problems so needs therapy and if you think you don't, you need it more than most! This nurse is a good friend and a martial artist, he swears more by MA than he does the uncertain 'science' of psychiatry. I was talking to him recently and he said certainly talking to friends (or maybe better people who don't know you but are sympathetic) is good but you can dwell on things too long that way and prolong your problems. Physical activity is brilliant he says especially martial arts.
 
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Thank you Tez.

This morning I left a message with the teacher thanking him for being so helpful on Thursday night. I didn't say anything at the time because I was still buried pretty deep in my head and didn't notice. <blush> It wouldn't surprise me if he shrugged it off as "just doing my job." But everyone needs to feel appreciated, and he moved mountains for me the other night. On many levels.

he swears more by MA than he does the uncertain 'science' of psychiatry.

I get it!! :ultracool Not that I was ever a big fan of therapy, but in some circles in the US it's practically a social requirement. I don't begrudge anyone their success with it, but it's never done much for me. I've found that I've made more progress in 4 months of Systema than I'd made in almost 20 years on the couch. Amazing. For me, it's the honesty of producing results - either I can knock someone off balance or I can't. If I can't there's no shame in it, I just need more practice. "Results" in therapy are so nebulous that you can go for decades without knowing whether you've gotten anywhere. I'd call it masturbation, except that you can masturbate for free. :whip1:
 

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Flea wrote:
tonight I'll try some folk-dancing.

Once I think it was in 2003 or so after an all day training event Mikhail was answering some of our questions about this and that. One of the attendees asked something about if there is no Systema training available in my location which Art (insert a couple of Martial Art styles) should I practice to get good at Systema or words to that effect. Without hesitation other than caused by the need of the translators he replied "Ballroom Dancing". The body awareness and sensitivity you develop as well as the awareness and sensitivity to others around you and your partner are great skills to process. I'll add a note here...want to learn some interesting throws and breaks...when your dance partner spins you Flea grip his hand (or thumb LOL) and don't let go while you do the spin or other movement umm or not.

" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbvzF...eature=related

The guy with the shaved head is me. (Riiiiiiiiight ...)

LOL! Alex Kostic is a GREAT guy and has great movement as well. He is a lot of fun to work with and have discussions with. Very philosophical in his intellect and a very honest worker that assures good training and good times any time he is around. We had him out here in 2006/2007. Good times.

Like I said, the whole thing has been embarrassing.

It is good to be able to admit that you are embarrassed but to also be able to accept it is what it is and to drive on and do what needs to be done regardless of whatever emotion felt/experienced. Poznai Sebia applies here as this is a great opportunity for you to explore your understanding of who and what you are and why you feel or experience as you do. This is invaluable in my opinion and should be a very big part of your Systema training. You are not the first nor will you be the last to feel embarrassment during your training nor will this be the last time you feel embarrassment, it happens to all of us and should be enjoyed. One of our students was in Japan for a Systema seminar with both Mikhail and Vladimir and while walking across the gym floor stumbled tripped and fell to the floor then looked up and to see both Vladimir and Mikhail about five feet away looking at her. So total was the embarrassment that even getting off the floor was difficult as the body and mind seemed to fight for control. The embarrassment only lasted a brief moment as all three soon burst out in honest laughter and enjoyment of the moment. The student understood that they (Mikhail and Vlad) were laughing not at the student only but also at the knowledge that we all fall and that they themselves have fallen in the past and will do so in the future. It is good and required medicine for the ego and the pride as is honest laughter.

Regards
Brian King
 

Brian King

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Flea wrote:
A quick update - I went back to class last night.

Good for you Flea! I will also say it cause you may not yet understand it, but it is not only you that benefited from your going to class but the class also benefited as much if not even more than you did and the instructor benefited most of all.

By the last half-hour I couldn't focus anymore and kept defaulting to things I had learned in my first couple classes.

LOL welcome to the club LOL. If you are training honestly and pushing your understanding this will sometimes happen, kind of an information overload default mechanism. Another thing you will sometimes experience is the onset of not being able to do even the simplest of movements that even a short while ago were simple and mindless. My theory is this is often caused when you learning a new concept or principle and your mind is reconnecting the (neuron) pathways creating new shortcuts and detours that like driving thru a construction site can leave the old pathways confused. Both the confusion/clumsiness of movement and the fall back to earlier learned behavior/movement as well as the getting stuck doing the same movement over and over can also be the result of the stress of the situation(s).

By the end I was time-traveling like Doctor Who, with my visual memory even superimposing itself right onto the classroom

I am Doctor Who challenged other than knowing it is a T.V. show I know nothing about it so I am not sure what you are saying in the above quote.

Even the teacher suggested that I "find someone to talk to." *sigh*

For thousands of years Flea soldiers would sit around campfires after a long days battles and rehash what happened long into the night. Under extreme stress our memories should be held suspect and only by rehashing it out with others that were also there can we reasonably reconstruct the chaos of what was not only happening to us but also around us. This discussion of the events is necessary not just to get a better handle of what the situation is/was, and not just so that others may learn from our experiences and that we can learn from their experiences, but positive honest reinforcement is necessary and provided. That reinforcement can often be a shared look of mutual understanding, a shared cry of relief or frustration, shared anger or feeling of helplessness. Modern soldiers no longer have the luxury of a nights shared campfire as battles now are fought continually for days at a time. Yet they still find a means of communicating with each other, helping to cleanse and free themselves and their comrades of a shared memory. Law enforcement officers, fire fighters EMT/Rescue workers as well as the soldiers have to fill out reports. These after action reports are so those higher up in the chain of command can better understand what happened and help the individual also come to an understanding of what happened, Even with these reports you will still see the police officers/fire fighters/emergency personnel clustered around each other after a high stress response rehashing what happened and getting and giving positive encouragement and feedback.
The same thing with bouncers and door workers. Either right after a ruckus or after the last customer leaves they gather and rehash the events and get positive encouragement and feedback. This shared laughter and perhaps tears strengthens them as both individuals and as a team/unit. This is commonly understood and experienced by violence and other action professionals, It is only the child and the adult civilian that does not automatically have this resource. In fact not only do they not have this resource but they are often given the exact opposite treatment. Their family and friends do not know how to respond so they stay away giving someone distance to heal. The child or adult civilian may not have anybody in their immediate family or close friends who have the shared experiences to offer them honest positive encouragement or understanding. Worse yet they may have a family member or friend that does have the shared experience but have never themselves been able to heal and move on and rather than positive feedback and encouragement get the opposite with both negative encouragement and self destructive anger and poor modeling of what it means to be a survivor, Talking it out is one means of gaining understanding and moving towards closure. It is not the only way but it has proved effective for thousands of years. Your posting on this forum Flea is a way of sounding it out and perhaps getting some better understanding or meaning from it all and I am sure has helped others or will in the future. The who you talk to is less important than the questions you ask yourself and hopefully the answers/understanding that you gain from asking them in my opinion.

Have fun with your training and stay honest to yourself and your training partners and you will have a great journey LOL not easy but a positive life changing journey.

Regards
Warmest wishes
Brian King
 
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Flea

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they (Mikhail and Vlad) were laughing not at the student only but also at the knowledge that we all fall and that they themselves have fallen in the past and will do so in the future.
Right. Since starting Systema I've heard embarrassment referred to as "false pride." I didn't quite understand that - it seems like it would be the opposite - false humility for seeing oneself as diminished when that's not the case. I guess it could be false pride if one expects never to fail in the first place.

Without hesitation other than caused by the need of the translators he replied "Ballroom Dancing". The body awareness and sensitivity you develop as well as the awareness and sensitivity to others around you and your partner are great skills to process.
Oh good, so it's not just me! Last month I simply couldn't take the ballroom resemblance anymore and told my partner "here, let me try something. Now hold your arms out like this and follow my lead ..." He got all flustered and embarrassed himself and I quickly gave up once I realized he had absolutely no context to fit that into. (besides, his form was terrible. :lol: Hasn't he ever watched Dancing With The Stars? Hmph! Men!!) Too bad - it would have been fun, and I would have picked up on that particular Systema movement much more quickly.

Back to the PTSD theme ... the other night the therapist hooked me up with a support group, and it's a good fit. Shesulsa suggested keeping a Systema journal, and I may just incorporate my thoughts from this group in there too. It seems to be the same journey. Who knew a simple moment of urban paranoia could evolve into something so complex and rich? I am a big believer in things unfolding as they're meant to ... so I'm riding it out on faith. Somewhere in the New Testament it says that the Divine doesn't give us more than we can handle. I don't always agree with that, but it's amazed me how the universe has come together to uphold me through this just when I've needed it most. (I include everyone who's offered me their support on this thread too. It got me through a very rough spot last week and I thank you all.) It gives me courage to take the next step, and the next.
 

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Good for you Flea! I expect now you're in shock like me that there's someone who doesn't know about Doctor Who lol!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who

Funny thing is it seems I've watched the Doctor all my life and I can equate things happening in my life over the years with which ever actor was the doctor at the time, when I was younger and things were painful I'd pretend I was one of his assistants and I could leave with him and have adventures, at the moment the programmes are rather sombre as he faces being the last of his people and losing the assistants and people he loved which at the moment I can totally idenify with. Strange how a television programme can resonate in your life. Perhaps we all need a little escapism sometimes.

I can't remember who but I do know it was one of your president's wives who said a woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she can be until she's in hot water! flea, I predict that you are going to be the finest English tea with the exact strength you need!(and maybe some left over)
 
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Thanks Tez.

For the last few days I've had an Ani DiFranco song lodged in my head (not unusual for me.) This song resonates especially for me these days, so I'll take this excuse to act like a swooning fangirl :dramaqueen: (or would that be fangrrl?) and post the lyrics ...

i am not a pretty girl
that is not what i do
i ain't no damsel in distress
and i don't need to be rescued
so put me down punk
maybe you'd prefer a maiden fair
isn't there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere

i am not an angry girl
but it seems like i've got everyone fooled
every time i say something they find hard to hear
they chalk it up to my anger
and never to their own fear
and imagine you're a girl
just trying to finally come clean
knowing full well they'd prefer you
were dirty and smiling

and i am sorry
i am not a maiden fair
and i am not a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere

[ ... ]
and i have earned my disillusionment
i have been working all of my life
and i am a patriot
i have been fighting the good fight
and what if there are no damsels in distress
what if i knew that and i called your bluff?
don't you think every kitten figures out how to get down
whether or not you ever show up
Wow.
 

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Wow Flea. I don't think I would've had the courage to openly going through PTSD, but you have my utmost respect and kudos. I'm currently going to counseling for an apparently unresolved issue that's resulted it me going through PTSD as well.

What I can tell you is that if you do love training, don't walk away from it. Take babysteps if you have to, but don't walk away from it. I made the mistake of running away from all of it, and as a result, I have to take even smaller steps to get back into it. For myself, I let the strain of it pull me away from martial arts, which resulted not only in me not having the confidence to teach martial arts anymore, but quietly going through a downward spiral. I'm currently dealing- and luckily overcoming- issues that I never thought I'd have, such as violent outbursts, suicidal thoughts, using alcohol as "a way out", etc.

When I started trying to get help, I went to past teachers (not in the arts) and old training partners, and they all concluded what the counselor told me. Which was to get back (slowly) into martial arts training. she said not to get caught up with the style, or get attached to the instructors or fellow students, but just to let myself start moving in a way I was trained. If martial arts allows you for that one "Zen" moment- even if it's once a week- don't let it go.
 

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Hi Flea, Many people have brought up good points.

One of the things I have said is italicized in one of the earlier posts that one will absolutely go a long way for you.

Part of the healing process is getting physically stronger, doing all the things you need to do. Not just for your instructor but for yourself too.
 
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We did grappling again today, and I had a radical shift. I went as far as pinning one guy for about a minute, and then stepped back. That was enough ... but it was a peaceful enough. No angst, and better yet, I stayed though the rest of class! Who knew?

:bangahead:

So this may be the key for me - gradual exposure in tiny increments. Slllllooooooowwwww desensitization. I see nothing wrong with that, and nobody else seemed to today either. Of course I usually have a delayed reaction to this stuff, so the real test may come tomorrow or Monday. But I refuse to borrow trouble - I'll worry about that if I get there.

At any rate, I'm not sure how appropriate it is to prattle on about oneself at MT, so I may quit after this unless someone expresses an interest. But I wanted to offer some good news, if only as a positive way to end the thread. I hope y'all enjoyed it.
 

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Baby steps, Flea. ;)

Baby steps.
 

Brian King

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Flea wrote:
Slllllooooooowwwww desensitization.

Flea, I am glad that you went back to training and have noticed improvement both in physical movement as well as the strengthening of your psyche and your ability to maintain your comportment. I might encourage you to take a look at the word desensitization. While it is a way of dealing with issues I personally do not think that it is the best way. I am likely dealing with mostly semantics here so of course your mileage and the mileage of anyone one else reading this might vary. To me desensitizing implies deadening sensitivity. I think this is a mistake. One needs to separate the emotional arousal from the physical act or the memory of an event/trauma I agree but rather than deadening sensitivity I think that a better method is to increase the sensitivity to the beginning of the emotion/arousal and to practice the learned cleansing methods to control the emotion. Deadening, ignoring and toughing it out only help to a point but if the emotions get to be too much they suddenly erupt when the deadening ignoring toughing it out methods fail. Consider fear. An analogy I once heard during a physically mentally and spiritually difficult Systema seminar was to look at fear as an avalanche of rocks (it helped that we were in the mountainous outdoors). If we try to stop an avalanche once it has started and the rocks are all sliding and bounding down the mountainside it will prove to be very difficult, but how much easier if we can catch it at the very beginning, when that first little pebble starts to shift and put it back into place before its actions cascade into the full avalanche. If we can become sensitive enough to feel the first stirrings of fear, if we can become sensitive enough to feel that invasive tension and stress while it is still at skin level (or t-shirt level), if we can become sensitive enough to feel the beginnings of strain and exertion then we can use the cleansing and strengthening methods ( I am referring for this discussion to primarily some of the breathing skills as well as the permeation work) to help us understand and deal with whatever the situation is and its effects on our psyche non-destructively.

Tez3 wrote:

I'm not putting down therapy but it does seem to be almost a national sport in America! It's not nearly as common in UK and Europe. What that means I'm not sure!
A friend of mine, an RAF psychiatric nurse did a tour in Iraq a couple of years ago and worked with his American counterparts, he was amazed at the fact that nearly everyone was in therapy, therapists included. He was told the theory is that everyone has problems so needs therapy and if you think you don't, you need it more than most! This nurse is a good friend and a martial artist, he swears more by MA than he does the uncertain 'science' of psychiatry. I was talking to him recently and he said certainly talking to friends (or maybe better people who don't know you but are sympathetic) is good but you can dwell on things too long that way and prolong your problems. Physical activity is brilliant he says especially martial arts.

Great post Tez3
One of the problems with many therapists is that they came into the field broken and seeking healing but became experts while remaining broken as it were. They have not been able to fix their issues even if better able to cope with them and since they are broken and it seems natural then everyone else must also be broken. Add to that since they had to change what is normal over the years as a coping mechanism their truth has now become that it takes years or decades to heal. Another danger that they often have is that as healers they become too empathetic to others around them and both assume some of the illnesses and learn that everyone is ill as that is who they see all the time.

but you can dwell on things too long that way and prolong your problems.

Absolutely true in my opinion. People can become identified with their victim hood or their illnesses. If they start to get their identity from their issue, if they get attention sympathy and other benefits they can lose the desire to regain the normalcy and balance that a healthy life requires. It can also become an easy excuse to fail at an attempt (losing the chance to learn from failure) or worse an excuse to not even attempt and can also justify laziness and self-pity.

Physical activity is brilliant he says

Again I absolutely agree with him. LOL in the spirit of Dr. Who and comparing life to TV we have a show on TV over here called Dog Whisperer This show has Cesar the expert go to peoples homes and help them with their canine issues. One of the big issues is that the animals (human owners as well as dogs LOL)do not get enough exercise. One of the best ways he helps dogs with their issues is to get the owners to walk them. People and their issues are not much different. Many primitive societies have had dance and chants as a main ingredient of their healing traditions. Breathing and moving. Modern medicine is finally catching up.

Ronin 74 wrote:

I'm currently dealing- and luckily overcoming- issues that I never thought I'd have, such as violent outbursts, suicidal thoughts, using alcohol as "a way out", etc.

That you are making progress is great news and puts you leaps and bounds ahead of many others who are struggling with the issues without even noticing or acknowledging that they even have the issues. So many deal with lifes daily tensions and stressors by self medicating with alcohol nicotine caffeine and or narcotics. They often cannot even feel the accumulative effects of tension and stress until they erupt in self destructive outbursts often at the slightest little thing (straw that broke the camels back). It is even more difficult for those that are facing unresolved trauma in their past again often not even knowing it. It is great Ronin 74 that you are getting professional help and making progress, the downward spiral has to be terrifying for both you and your loved ones. Please feel free contacting me if you feel the need although not a professional shrink I do believe as E.E. Smith wrote pain shared is pain divided and Joy shared is joy multiplied

Ronin 74 I do not know if your counseling and/or your martial arts training and background included the exploration of different breathing skills or not. Breathing IS a bridge between your somatic and autonomic nervous systems allowing you to help control stress, heart rate etc and is a great tool in learning to deal with trauma (physical mental and spiritual traumas) I highly recommend the book and/or the DVD Let Every Breath by Vladimir Vasiliev and Scott Meredith. It is not difficult but has changed for the positive many many peoples lives.

Thank you again Flea and Ronin 74 for your honesty and openness in your dealings with your past traumas. I hope that the thread has helped you and perhaps helps others as well. I wish you both God speed on your healing journey and recovery.

Warmest wishes
Brian King
 

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We did grappling again today, and I had a radical shift. I went as far as pinning one guy for about a minute, and then stepped back. That was enough ... but it was a peaceful enough. No angst, and better yet, I stayed though the rest of class! Who knew?

:bangahead:

So this may be the key for me - gradual exposure in tiny increments. Slllllooooooowwwww desensitization. I see nothing wrong with that, and nobody else seemed to today either. Of course I usually have a delayed reaction to this stuff, so the real test may come tomorrow or Monday. But I refuse to borrow trouble - I'll worry about that if I get there.

At any rate, I'm not sure how appropriate it is to prattle on about oneself at MT, so I may quit after this unless someone expresses an interest. But I wanted to offer some good news, if only as a positive way to end the thread. I hope y'all enjoyed it.

Flea, one of the things I really enjoy about MT is that you can find support when you need it, you can vent when you have to, and it's perfectly acceptable to do it. MT is a community like any other, you have people to laugh with, th argue with, and to vent to, and who's strength you can borrow, and whose knowledge and support they generously give. Feel free to take advantage, you're contributing more than you might realize.
 
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