How Mindfulness expands Freedom

Die to the future
Using mindfulness practice to improve the story of self is like trying to fill a leaky bucket. Can we lose the bucket and be the water?

Mindfulness is a term used to describe paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment. In most definitions it includes being aware of passing thoughts. In this post I explore how mindfulness increases freedom and the ability to choose our actions.

Mindfulness Increases Sensitivity while Decreasing Reactivity

The opposite of mindfulness is to be unaware of ones present situation. The opposite of freedom is to be unable to select our actions.

When we become emotionally upset the chemistry of our blood changes, our physical posture and tension levels change and the way we see ourselves and our circumstances change also.

Not only do we experience ourselves and our situation differently but others experience us differently also. This alters both the options available to us and our perception of what is now possible.

Emotional Freedom through Mindfulness

We experience emotions as either pleasant or unpleasant feelings within our bodies. The more certain we are about how things ought to be, the more often reality is going to challenge those assumptions.

When our beliefs or assumptions are challenged we feel a tightening or contraction in our tissues. This can escalate into a full blown threat response with adrenaline and cortisol and may lead to harsh words or actions.

In situations which are truly threatening, these automatic responses can save our lives. In situations where only our opinions, ideals or values are threatened, these reactions damage relationships, waste energy and limit the range of actions available to us. They cost us our freedom.

We can either desensitise ourselves to these feelings of tension and “negative” emotion or we can do the opposite, which is to practice mindfulness.

Mindfullness is about Identity, how we see ourselves determines our level of Freedom

Mindfulness is a state of alertness to our senses. Our senses provide real time information about events occurring both externally and internally.

Much of what we notice internally is the result of how we perceive external events. It is our stories and assumptions that determine these inner sensations of emotion.

What happens externally is largely outside of our control, the greater part of mindfulness is being aware of the inner sensations and what is triggering them.

Mindfulness is the art of objectivity, of being able to recognise both inner events, (emotions), and external events, (sensations) as seperate from our assumptions and the meanings we place on them.

Compassion
relationship is possible when we see each other without the veil of meanings.

Meanings and Kindness alter our Freedom

When we are able to experience emotions and sensations as seperate from any story or perception, then we avoid making them mean anything. If we can accept what is happening without measurement or comparison then we remain free to choose our next action.

If we compare each feeling and sensation to what happened in the past or project what that may mean for our future, then our actions will be limited by our beliefs. Our meanings will determine and limit our actions.

While we are remembering past events or considering possible future impacts our attention is largely in our thoughts so we have reduced our sensitivity to real relationships in the present moment.

If we are able to remain present with the feelings and sensations as they arise, we remain fully sensitive, fully aware of our situation and all the rich possibilities it presents. We notice tiny differences and what creates them, we begin to understand the relationships between events with greater clarity.

This understanding of relationship and our own inter-relationship with everything and everyone usually results in us being more kind. We recognise the commonality of both joy and suffering and see ourselves in others.

Doorways into Mindfulness

Be the act of observation, rather than the observer.

The observer is the aggregation of comparisons and judgements, of values and stories, comforts, fears, pride and shame. The observer who has created an identity out of their likes and dislikes is full of assumptions.

Observation without judgement is curiosity itself. It is perhaps the reason that trillions of cells work together to produce a nervous system capable of abstract thought. Sensitivity to reality rather than to meanings allows Mindfulness.

Inappropriate tension is inappropriate memory
Contractive Emotions correct behaviour, they are useful and unavoidable. To release them, we need to release the story binds them into our body’s.

Identity determines Mindfulness

Simply being aware of the rich sensation pouring into our bodies gives rise to a felt sense of self. Developing talents, skills and traumas differentiates how we “feel” and come to know ourselves.

When our identity is determined by the quality of attention that others give to us, how we feel, and who we feel ourselves to be, will be dependant on those other people. Attention seeking behaviour emerges from this part of our identity.

The perception of threat keeps us reacting with inappropriate emotions and thoughts. The threats are most often to our stories of self, to all the assumptions, likes and dislikes that form our identity. The more stories we have, the more we depend on others to validate us, the more often we will feel emotions that have nothing to do with reality.

Much of thought itself is an inappropriate reaction that further de-sensitizes us to current happenings, making graceful action impossible.

To be mindful, I release the “I” of my Identity and allow all my biology to resonate with what is happening. The Christian cross is the Letter I with a line crossing it out.

To identify through the reality of biology and its current situation rather than through stories of how and why things should be is called “acceptance”.  Our biology is interdependent with all the biology that coats this planet. The self as seperate is a perspective that can be set aside and a great deal of fear goes with it.

 

Why movement is the best medicine and how it makes us smarter

Our senses operate through resonance, by allowing ourselves to be moved, we gain information, and may play wiht grace.

You will not find these ideas in books on neuroscience and psychology, rather than hard facts, my explanations better resemble metaphors.  They are my attempt to rearrange fragments of knowledge and allow a fresh picture to emerge. One that better matches biology and the possibility of greater bio-diversity.

Relax to receive – Information as movement

Emotions lend power and texture to communications. As discussed in depth in my previous post, although emotions come in many flavours, perhaps it is useful to see them as being either: based in physical contraction or expansion. Notice, that I chose to write expansion rather relaxation.

When cells, tissues, organs and bodies are relaxed they are able to resonate or be moved more freely they are receptive to in-comming signals. They gather, transmit and move with more information, expanding their inter-relationship.

Do our Intentions determine our intelligence?

Intelligence can be defined either as pure information, for example, to gather intelligence. Or the ability to recognise and store repeating patterns. To sense and make sense of what is happening.

In nature, which encompasses everything, all is interrelated, even chaos or the dissolving of order happens predictably. We tend to hang onto or memorise the repeating elements or pieces of this larger pattern that we see advantage in.

Those broken of pieces of the greater pattern become our intentions. How we store or memorise these fragments determines both what we are able to feel and how we feel.

There are ways to make sense of the data that allow us to move gracefully and effectively in the flow of what is happening. When we cling to patterns that seem to bring personal advantage, but do not flow with what  is happening we experience and perpetuate turbulence.  Lets explore this.

Synapses form loose connections like sea grass swaying in the currents, like Ram they are up-datable. Hard memories are stored elsewhere, like ROM these determine how we react to inputs with less flexible responses.

Virtual Reality of the Synapses – The Mind Field

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the our nerve endings to make and break connections like trees waving together in the wind. As we have more  rich and engaging experiences we make more connections, we come to understand what is happening and how to move with it. These types of connections are flexible and update readily. They begin to form an inner map that resonates with our environment and circumstances.

Our instincts shuttle resources away from this part of the brain, away from healing, rejuvenation and protection of the DNA. Into our muscle memories for fast life saving actions. Our muscle memories are a collection of learned skills that provide moving experiences. But skill are not the only patterns stored in our bodies.

May the Force be without you for a while

We need to contract to transfer or generate force. Applying less force for less time not only saves energy, it allows us to return to greater sensitivity faster.

Grace, elegance and efficiency are measures of how effectively we apply force. All of these are determined by how well our cells move in relation to each other and how well our bodies move in relation to their surroundings.

Friction is a cost of moving things, (like Inertia) it is a force that must be overcome in order create movement. In our bodies, non useful stored tension wastes energy as it hinders our ability to move and be moved.

Sensitivity is the ability to resonate or be moved by incoming energy, be it, sound, light, heat, magnetism or another expression of force, (they are likely all one anyway).

So if Neuroplasticity is in fact, all wavy and tree-like, how dow we come to be so tense and why do we have the ability to not be moved?

How do we store these patterns that do not “resonate” or move nicely with the passing energy, like leaves in the wind and waves in the ocean?

So glad you asked 🙂

Tension is what we think, Sensation is what can not be thought.
Fascia is stores and releases energy. If not released tension becomes memory that we experience as emotion. Is this tension who we are, or who we think we are?

The Spring within – Fascia is the tissue of Connection or is it?

A cell, much like an amoeba, is an individual unit of life, as such it can move (contract/relax), produce energy from food, and sense its environment and reproduce. It senses its environment predominantly, through its membrane or surface.

To increase access to information from environment it can increase its surface area, if it gets too big it will become unstable and fragile. At some point it is just easier to “join forces” with adjacent cells to create a more complex organism.

Cells become tissues, different tissues join to become organs, organ systems, organisms and eventually organisations of organisms. Yet binding this all is the tissue of connection – the fascia. Yes even our societies are bound by fascia.

is freedom proportional to acceptance?
We are hard wired for validation, the more threatened we feel, the more alone we feel, the more seek attention and validation. Is leadership the art of relaxing people or creating tension?

Fascia becomes the tissue that determines if there is an issue.

Fascia forms a moving, sliding, gliding three dimensional web that binds us to together. It is elastic and stretchy, combined with muscle and nerve fibres it both receives and transmits force. Fascia takes on the role of the membrane in that simple amoeba model, it is all about inter-action.

Due to the elastic nature of fascia, it can store and release tension like a rubber band.  Imagine a cheetah running, as its foot absorbs the weight of its body returning to Earth, that force is stored, as it springs of the ground, that stored energy is released. Together with powerful muscle contractions the combined force is enormously effective.

For this to work, the fascia must release all non relevant tension, (friction) and get out of the way. The cheetah’s nervous system must coordinate muscle contractions and relaxations in perfect timing to the changing circumstances. Total and perfect sensitivity to environment though the senses is required.

Sensitivity is a function of softness, of suppleness of the membrane of the fascia of the organism to “allow” what is to be.

Threatened with extinction

When we perceive a threat, the emergency part of our brain selects a spontaneous instinctive response. Enormous resources are sent to move us out of danger. If there is in fact no real and present danger those resources remain unspent.

Precious bio-chemicals, electrolytes, endorphins, neurotransmitters, hormones, ATP remain in the system, we get a rush.  The fascia gets wound up ready to spring.

We experience these minor and major tensions as the emotions of contraction. If not released, the spring remains wound up, that stored tension becomes a kind of body memory. The corresponding emotion is un-pleasent, unbearable in fact, as it keeps us blind un-easy, threatened and vulnerable. It makes us feel alone.

When we repeat this many times, fail to move and feed our bodies poorly, the fascia gets stuck in the prepared state and we loose both agility and sensitivity. We embody the fear response and as we become increasingly deadened, we get scared more easily. This turns us back to the tribe for comfort, re-assurance and validation. Attention seeking.

Stories Kill the possibility of life.
Can we work together without controlling each other, with out squeezing the life out of the biosphere? Yes – but first we must accept our fears and sense what is real. We must let go of our stories.

Swell times ahead – inflammation vs information

In the animal kingdom, animals that move poorly become lunch, their molecules are recycled early. In the world of Sapiens, we have learned how to re-direct the forces of nature, we can create swelling in the environment and harvest from it, saving our energy.

We no longer need to be graceful and sensitive, so long as we are up-stream of the swelling we can harvest easily. We are taught how to behave and what is valuable. We play the game of squeezing nature and competing for a place up-stream. Those downstream in the land of lack, are obviously un-educated or lazy.

These stories that maintain the status quo and are not fluid and wavy at all, they are all about fear, contraction, swelling and control. Perhaps we can not store these kind of memories in our synapses, maybe they are stored in the fascia, in the skin within. They are transmitted and re-enforced via stories empowered by tone of voice and body language, via the emotions of contraction.

When action arises out of understanding, there is beauty and grace. The possibility of Abundance returns. Fear is the opposite, can we move beyond fear? what is the alternative?

Movement as Medicine

Movement brings awareness to both tension and relaxation, to where we are stuck and swollen and to where we are fluid, alive and sensitive. All movement happens in relation to the energy or forces that are present in our environment.

To free ourselves from the stories that are anchored in our fascia with emotion we need to return our focus to sensitivity. This is the most difficult task their is and very few succeed totally.

Most of us have fleeting experiences of the alive connected, timelessness and selflessness of these “states”. We call them altered states, but I wonder if they are our birthright and it is our collective culture that alters us?

The purpose of these writings and illustrations is to explore letting go of non-relevant tension. Allow our synapses to build better models, to understand the flowing biology that coats this planet. To return to Information, accept our vulnerabilities and release inflammation.

 

Spinal Hack – break in formation

break in-formation, allowing biology to con-from to gravity.

Balance demands focus

Instead of letting my mind wonder while trying to burn calories. I use a nutrient dense diet and use movements that demand that I pay close attention to my posture.

By training in un balanced situations, such as on Stand Up Paddle Boards and body weight games, I learn to keep my head aligned over the base of my support.

This requires that my total focus be anchored in the signals streaming into the nervous system. My body follows my head, which follows my eyes, which follows my thoughts. In other words if I think I fall.

Trillions of human and bacterial cells work together to form my tissues and organ systems. I am pretty sure that did not happen just so they could listen and respond to replays of my last argument.

More likely, they want the vital environmental data so that they can allocate energy and resources gracefully.

Getting my head I the right place.

Simply by leaning your head forward you can feel the weight shift to the balls of your feet, notice also how this affects tension in the back of the neck and pulling into the sides of knee joints.

SUP training is fantastic, as the energy moving through the water continually shifts the ideal place for our hips to be. In order for our heads to remain situated over our feet, we sway, we embody the wave-form that is moving through the water. We un-wind, just as the ocean is “un winding”.

Conforming to the effects of the sun and the moon on water is a great healthy way to reset our base tension levels. The more tense we are the less we can feel, and the more likely we are to operate from reactive programs.

Do not try the experiment in the photo, without the advice and supervision of a chiropractor. I use the rings and my feet to gradually increase the load on my occipital ridge, de-compressing the vertebra and allowing my body to soften and “swing” back underneath my head.

Wellness remains a possibility and a choice to the degree that we understand, through direct experience, the relationships that run through biology in real time.

 

The shape we’re in – pathology as an expression of tension

force and resononce
play to discover the impossible or work to enforce it?

It is the nature of words to divide for the purpose of comparison and valuation. Can these implied meanings ever match the nature from which we arise?  Does this create conflict and emotional turbulence, interfering with our cells ability to sense and adjust to the real situation at hand?

Force vs Resonance

How does the way we receive and process both energy and information determine the quality of our lives, relationships and actions?

In any one moment an organism can contract or relax. To simplify, let’s think of this as a YES of acceptance, permeability or even leakiness. Or a NO of contraction, tension, defence or even inflammation. We need both, for without movement and interaction, there is no life, and that’s a drag.

All of our sensory organs receive information by resonating with the frequency of the incoming data. Energy moves in waves, our senses receive These “waveforms”as either resonance, force or a combination of both.

When you push on a blade of grass, It moves away, little force is transferred to the roots or other blades of grass.
When you push on a twig, force is transferred to the branch, which will be moved by the twig.
Force is transferred to the degree that movement is not possible, to the degree that there is tension in the receiving tissues.
Movement contains information about the energy source, do we embody that information to the degree that we resonate with it?
Force appears to me as the energy of the source without the full information of its qualities.
If we squash a waves pitch, amplitude and frequency does it become a flatline?

Do we pass on (“passion”) information or force to the degree that we resonate, to the degree that our tissues resist or allow?

When we are tense, rather than ebb and flow, the force crashes into us and we loose balance. We receive the energy but not the information. This is like saying “No” to the possibility of life. We are constantly moving through the equilibrium of balance, swaying across the centreline, the closer to the centre we rest, the less energy we need. The easier it is for us to change direction as required.

When we match our base tension to the waveform we are receiving, accepting. We sway with the force, returning to center without losing balance. We feel the amplitude, pitch and frequency, we retain the information, allowing most of the force to pass. Is this a “Yes” to life?

When we apply constriction or opening to the capillaries, tubes and pumps of our tissues and organs, we begin to see how emotion effects health.

What if we imagine emotions as the feeling of our tissues responding and holding a “No”. What If we imagine our senses in the absence of opinions, assumptions, comparisons as a “Yes”.

We may start to see non-useful inflammation as the inability to resonate, in rejection of information do we absorb even more force. It may be that emotions are the feeling of turbulence created by applying memories rather than understanding to current events?

Ratios in the balance

*Omega 3 to Omega 6. Vitimin K2 to Vitiamin D3. Magnesium to Calcium. Potassium to Nitrogen, Insulin to Glucose, Acids to Alkalinity, amino acids to fats. The organisms that we are: must receive and balance ratios against the backdrop of what is actually happening. In thinking we send additional signalling, such as threat and support, pride and shame, confusion and assurance, allowing and resistance. We come to embody a shape that is formed by both our nutritional inputs and our base assumptions of who we are. Both food and thought shape our tissues, organs, bodies, societies and the biosphere.

* The author is being playful here, not exact or even accurate by any stretch of the imagination. The idea here is not to create fresh meanings, rather to explore the possibility of trusting action to arise from sensing life directly.

The author uses SUP coaching sessions to bring real life experience to the possibility of balance, to feeling gravity and the graceful application of force.

2 – Attunement – learning the interface

Attunement - the dance of life

The key take-away here is: We begin learning our key beliefs about how safe we are, how valuable we are, and which strategies and communication techniques alleviate and manage fear from the moment sensations begin. Feelings of pain and fear strengthen the sensation of self as seperate and in danger. Feelings of acceptance and curiosity strengthen the sensation of self as connected, safe and valuable. Which do you suppose feels more playful and creative? Events in our lives tilt us more towards fear or towards expansiveness. Healing is about learning to create a lifestyle that reinforces safe connections. Attunement is a life-long quest to communicate without fear and neediness.

 

In the first blog I talked about aliveness, connection and worthiness. In this post I briefly discuss trauma and how processing sub-optimal experiences affects the way we communicate and the choices we make.

Over time, resistance to the feelings in our own bodies alters our body language, our posture, and our faces. Apart from driving how we spend our income and much of the free time we do get, I suspect it is the most overlooked cause of inflammation and disease. Which makes it worth understanding.

When we are less “reactive” it is easier to remain focused on the things that we are good at. Those things that make us feel alive, valuable and included. Our behavior is affected by the signals we receive from each other. We begin learning how to send and interpret those signals from when we are in the womb. Without a healing practice, we tend to become less receptive yet more “touchy” as we get older. Out most creative work is often done in our younger years.
I suspect that we store resistance to life, (fear covered by opinions) as tension in our bodies, which is why a practice of conscious un-winding, like Yoga, helps us to remain kind and effective members of our families and communities.
My personal favorite is SUP and animal type movements with body weight exercises. Eat right and repetitive motion such as “cardio” is un-nessecary.

 Getting with the program

Attunement is the name that arose from the work of the psychiatrist John Bowlby and his contemporary Donald Winnicot in the 1940’s. It describes a process that happens between newborns and their primary caretaker.

Newborns begin learning about safe and appropriate action and communication by making sounds; actions and gestures, building neural connections that mirror their caretaker. It is also when the baby begins building a “felt sense” of self. Attunement begins in the womb, and when it happens “normally”, forms the foundations for an adult who will grow up to feel safe and be well integrated into their community.

Attunement is where we begin to build our sense of self as being part of a group or tribe. It is where our nervous system first starts creating the automated responses that will shape our lives.

As we grow from baby, to child through our teenage years and into adult hood, the chances of us integrating healthily decrease with each exposure to a traumatic experience.

Contrary to popular belief, (part of the John Wayne legacy) it is not something we can tough out, instead we tend to suppress or avoid the triggers. Suppressing causes us to loose the higher emotions along with the low ones. This tends to kill our feelings of aliveness and effect our on going attunement.

Being Defensive

Automatic responses can save us from injury or death. Fight and flight reactions are given priority over other bodily functions. When something happens that over-loads our ability to understand and assimilate, when we are overwhelmed by an experience, we experience trauma and it becomes wired into our future.

Trauma’s from the past, when re-triggered, create physical reactions that range from subtle uneasiness to complete shutdown.
The key thing here, is that the experience of trauma changes both our internal and external communications. Experiencing trauma is part of ordinary life, we usually only address it when the dysfunction it creates becomes unbearable for those around us.

Healing Trauma with Focused Movement

Traumas may trigger thoughts, images and even flashbacks; but they are stored in the body. They exist because they have become part of our autonomic nervous system, below and before our prefrontal cortex. It seems that focusing on movement can reset those pathways and re-map how we are wired. There are many modalities for re-attuning ourselves. If we can understand their core principles, we may be able to develop extremely powerful, yet simple routines for returning to full aliveness.

Simply exercising has benefits. What really empowers movement, is focus in a state of acceptance, especially in situations that require balance and reward optimal posture. I will be exploring this in depth, these early blogs are background information so that we understand the challenges to freedom.

 

Waxing lyrical

The ocean can never replace your mother, but she is moving to the heat of our sun, and the beat of our moon. From the gravity of heavenly bodies to a passing cloud, myriad forces form coherent lines. To be cancelled in turbulence against the constraints of distant shores. Both oxygenating the sea and allowing the possibility of stillness and serenity to return.

Research notes:
Trauma is a vast subject and a rather intimate one to discuss. I can not do it justice in a few paragraphs, nor am I qualified to. Bessel van der Kolt MD, in his book, “The body Keeps the Score” presents the most comprehensive overview that I have read so far. Peter Levine also has an understanding built on a wealth of experience. Both of these doctors continue to study, try new things and publish their findings. Freemocean is not about trauma, it is about receiving clean data from nature, so that we may use energy more effectively.