Lose your mind with HOPE4PTSDVETS.ORG and "The Art of Healing from War" by Kevin Taylor
When I first started down the path of meditation and mindfulness I initially confused the word “Mindful” with meaning “Mindfull”. I felt like one of the major issues was that my mind was already full; full of pain and shame based thoughts and emotions. Dealing with my PTSD on a daily basis was exhausting and sometimes even cultivating my new awareness through observing my mind with the mindfulness practice was difficult. People talk about losing their minds as if it were a bad thing. To me the thought of losing my mind sounded awesome! I was so tired of PTSD’s constant bombardment of thoughts and emotions. I needed to find a way to give my mind some R&R; a way to take a break from the daily battle I was fighting with combat trauma. Fortunately I met a local university professor with extensive experience in what I like to call a “MindLESSness Practice”. He taught me a couple of techniques that allow me to leave the battlefield of my mind and get that Rest and Relaxation I so desperately needed. I would like to share these two techniques with you.
Mindless Maneuver: One of Sun Tzu’s tactics to defeat the enemy in The Art of War is with deception. You can utilize this tactic with the following simple maneuver. Ask your mind, “What is your next thought going to be?” and then simply wait with anticipation for that thought. When the mind tries to think about its next thought it stops for a couple of seconds before starting again. It is like hitting control/alt/delete on your computer. You will experience a wonderful silence for those couple of seconds while your mind resets. Become familiar with that peace that exists in that silence. Try this practice once an hour or as often as you can remember to do it. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you. It takes several weeks depending on how often you practice but you can develop the ability to go to that peaceful, silent place whenever you choose.
Mindless Meditation: This meditation practice differs from the “Recon Meditation” we discussed earlier in the book. This meditation does not have to be practiced daily but obviously the more you do the more R&R you get. Remember with the Recon Meditation we are observing our thoughts. With Mindless Meditation we are ignoring thought and eventually even stopping it altogether. This meditation can be practiced anywhere and, if possible, is best performed outside. Simply sit in your meditation position or in a chair, utilizing the same posture for Recon Meditation, straight back, open airway, etc. With this meditation you are going to keep your eyes open but not looking at anything. This is very important. Your mind is going to want to focus on something in front of you because that is its job. When you become aware that your mind is focusing on something, simply look at everything in your field of vision at once. One thing I do is look at what is in my peripheral vision both on the left and right simultaneously. This has the same effect as asking your mind what its next thought is going to be. The mind is not sure what it is supposed to focus on so it simply doesn’t.
With the MindLESSness Practice you can find a temporary place of peaceful rest from the battlefield in your mind. You may ask, “Why can’t I just stay there?” We need our minds to function as a parent, partner, spouse, employee, etc. so we must return to battle until the enemy of PTSD has been defeated.