Meditation and Brainspotting

Meditation means a lot to me. If I remember correctly, I started it at a time I was working with kids every day. While I loved the little beings, the job also held an enormous amount of stress for me. Being me, I couldn’t start without reading several books about how it was supposed to be done (I guess, the “wanting others to tell me how to do things right” has always been engrained in me).

For a while I tried all kinds of different approaches and techniques. Since I kept a journal in which I noted my observations, I now have proof of how much I worried about my thoughts. And when I didn’t worry about the type of thoughts I was having, I worried about having thoughts and not being able to push them away, like “I was supposed to do”.

It took several months until it sunk in that scolding myself for “meditation mistakes” actually was against the spirit of meditation itself. So I tried to be more forgiving with myself. I can read in my notes from 2005 that it wasn’t an easy task.

Over the last 12 years meditation has woven its way in and out of my life.

Recently meditation has taken yet another turn in my life and is helping me to become more WHOLE.

For the last 3-5 years I have meditated between 10-20 minutes on a daily basis. Most of the time this consisted of sitting on my meditation cushion, in a simple cross-legged position, trying to feel my breathing in different parts of my body and observing my thoughts. Once in a while I experimented with Mantras, sounds, or a candle. On days, when I was already stressed, I often had to keep a headache at bay and found my meditation to linger in my head. I do attribute my ability to stay calm and fairly rational throughout my whole divorce to my daily meditation. But I wasn’t consistent. On days, when I would have needed meditation the most, I found myself checking the timer every minute and finding reasons to get me off the cushion to end the session early and get on with my life.

The thoughts that were the hardest for me to sit through, were of the planning variety. I am a total planner. Most of my thoughts are future-based and I can go through grocery lists, task lists, and birthday present ideas all at the same time. When I took on a job in which I was planning events, I would sit in meditation and visualize the whole event front to end. While that helped me be a good planner (after all visualization is a great tool for success), it didn’t actually help me calm down in my meditation, but rather made me jump off the pillow, because in 20 seconds I had a whole list of things that I had yet to accomplish.

Three-weeks ago, I realized that if I wanted to learn more about the person behind all the planning, I needed to truly dedicate myself to my meditation. I figured that there would never be a better time to establish a routine than now. So I declared to myself (no fanfares or microphone announcement, just an internal “you got this, girl”) that I would commit to sitting in meditation for 90-minutes each day.

This time, it was important to me to find a way to get out of my head and into my body, while I meditate. So many circumstances in the last year had shown me that the answer to my healing lay in the connection between my mind and body. When my therapist introduced me to the technique of “Brainspotting” (A technique developed by David Grand) and I integrated it into my daily meditation practice, I was suddenly introduced to a world that I had not realized existed in that way.

The way I interpret the technique for myself is to sit down in meditation and after observing my typical “planning thoughts” for about 3 minutes, I consciously begin to scan my body for any aches or pains. Most of the time one area in my body screams the loudest to be heard. With my head facing straight forward, I then move my eyes on eye level from left to right, sensing if any particular spot make the pain sensation stronger or weaker. Once I find the spot, where the pain has its highest threshold, I hold that spot and scan up and down to see if there is a difference on the vertical level. Sometimes looking near or far can also have an impact on the amount of sensation that is experienced. Once I have identified the spot (and my body always knows exactly when I have), I keep looking at it with my eyes. It doesn’t matter whether my eyes are open or closed for it to work, but for me personally, I have discovered that having my eyes open makes it harder to hold in any emotions that come up.

I then continue meditation with my head facing forward, while me eyes are fixated on the spot I have identified. What has happened for me over the last weeks is that I discovered that different parts of my body contain the different parts that make up who I am as a person. I uncovered that my 12-year old self hides out in my right lower back, while my spunky energetic 6-year old self has a prime spot in the middle of my left upper arm. I was able to identify, who I have lovingly named the “Guardian of Emotions” on the right side of my neck. And many more parts are revealing themselves in different locations each day. What is the most fascinating to me, is that now that I have identified the different locations and associated them with the different PARTS that make up my WHOLE, it so often happens that I go through the rest of my day and suddenly become aware of a sensation in my body only to realize that what I am going through at that moment, coincides with the part I have identified in that area.

For example, I identified “discomfort” and “trust” in different body parts. When I found myself in an unfamiliar situation, where I was surrounded by new people those to areas lit up with sensation indicating my usual mistrust and unease, whenever I first step into a new situation.

Suddenly, my WHOLE being is not always the same, but is determined by the different stories of the PARTS of me that show up in any given moment.

I have to admit that this is exciting to me and every morning now I look forward to my 90-minutes, hoping to meet someone else or simply to find out who is present today. I am learning that some of my parts are exhausting to be with (discomfort and trust surely made me feel like I needed a nap after having been with them for almost an entire meditation session), while others make me leap of the mat and feel like dancing for the rest of the day.

But I am not just one, I am ALL of these PARTS. And that as a WHOLE is exciting.

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