If you haven't read What is CPTSD, insights on the way to recovery, that blog is worth reading first.
I have CPTSD from childhood trauma.
My CPTSD would have had a significant impact on my business, how I hired, fired, worked with clients, collaborated with others, priced my services and managed the day-to-day. It would of course, permeate all areas of life, my blog focuses on how childhood trauma expressed in the workplace, as such, I tend to speak to the business side of things for the most part.
I would have spent most of my life consuming left brain content to help myself be 'normal' only to find minimal change actually take place.
What I mean by left brain content:
books, workshops, conferences, mentors, coaches,
and in therapy talking about the stories over and over and over.
So basically, the pursuit of information and knowledge that I believed at the time would be the thing that would help me be better, do better.
Only it wasn't.
Sure, I knew a lot more than I had the prior month, and sharing some of the hidden stories helped a lot, yet my life still demonstrated I was still very much living and operating through a CPTSD filter.
In the last few years, I stumbled across a few powerful insights that re-directed my pursuit of 'normal' into the right brain.
Right brain is also referred to as:
the unconscious self
the feeling self
Some Right Brain Resources for those just setting out in this direction:
[BOOK] Dr. Gabor Mate
When the body says no. An exceptional read that deepened my awareness and understanding of why the right brain was so critical in the change I was after.
[BOOK] Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
The body keeps the score. IMO, this is a must read for adults with CPTSD, and for adults who are also parents.
This book introduced that not only was I looking to resolve unconscious legacy programs installed in childhood, but that I also wanted to engage right brain resources to repair my physiology from the effects childhood trauma had on it.
Childhood Trauma effects the brain and central nervous system in the third trimester of pregnancy, when the 'brain comes online', through to age 5 when the brain is considered fully formed.
Childhood trauma imprints on the brain and nervous system and that imprint directs the formation, development and operations of that network.
By age 6, it is set - and it won't change without deliberate intervention. I was floored, relieved, and once I was able to collect myself, I was more open to right brain activities to support the impact early childhood experiences would have had on my physiology.
[BOOK] Dr. Steven Porges - Polyvagal Theory
IMO, a must read for anyone who has CPTSD and pursuing ways to make it more manageable. A flagstone book that really needs to be digested to understand the role of right brain practices for recovery.
[BOOK] David Richo - How to be an adult.
Just one of his books from a series of awesome books that I think every adult should read, full stop.
This is the quintessence of what a healthy, grounded, stable adulting is - the perfect container for sustainable and profitable growth in business.
[BOOK & VIDEO] Dr. Bruce Lipton - The Biology of Belief.
It is a book, but it is also a 2.5hour lecture on YouTube. This material was and is a cornerstone in my learning, understanding and ability to design and implement Right Brain Practices, that I describe below.
Right Brain Practices for those who already know the way out, is in:
It was about 2019 when I discovered something I will call the Right Brain route. Once I got it - I immediately set out to find (and design) right-brain practices that suited me best.
Through that process, I ended up creating a distinction between what was basic right brain care and maintenance, and what was right brain practices for healing and recovery.
For those from healthy and loving homes, this basic care list is just part of everyday life. It is normal and probably not often thought about as anything other than 'life'.
For adults with CPTSD, this list is foreign, new and can be a struggle to embrace, particularly if they are operating in full blown survival mode. Basic care is also fundamentally important to recovery; specifically, healing the brain and central nervous system. contributing to optimum self-regulation function, and minimising the effects of overwhelm in the body.
Adults with untreated CPTSD often face inflammatory disease, auto immune disease and a shorter lifespan as this trauma informed physiology simply remains, till death do us part, or until we deliberately intervene to change the programs.
Some basic care and maintenance of the Right Brained Self includes:
Quality nutrition daily. I used a mix of high grade supplements, organic produce and sparkling water.
30-Min Shine: Physical activity that would cause a shiny sweat. All we want here is a slightly elevated heart rate, exercised lungs, and the entire body moving for 30- continuous minutes.
Good night's sleep: I changed my room around, slept with windows open to ensure room temperature was cool with an abundance of oxygen. I got a quality duvet to ensure my body was really warm.
Gratitude Practice: It's kind of like tonic for the healthy brain. A hydrating facial for the brain. So is breath work. I like box breathing most just now.
Yoga & Stretching: Amazing for the supporting and nourishing the body.
Open Water Swimming: I love sea swimming so much, I've now designed a life around the coast. I'll add that Dungarvan, Co. Waterford is my favourite coastal town in the entire country.
Connection: Healthy people are connected to meaningful relationships. Not easy for some people with CPTSD, myself included, but as part of regular maintenance, this is a really important one.
Hobbies: And organising life so they show up regularly. For me that was learning, researching and organising information into frameworks. As i moved deeper into my recovery process, my hobbies are moving from solo participation in hobbies, to hobbies done with others. Eg. Open water swimming at 7am with the rest of the town swimmers.
Recovery and healing of the Right Brained Self includes:
From what I've researched over the years, and thanks to Dr. Bruce Lipton's work, my conclusion this far in has been that the 5 senses are the doors into healing the brain function, central nervous system function and minimise the effects of overwhelm.
When we begin to heal, our experience of the world improves..
- We can filter better,
- self regulate better,
- and perceived threats start to diminish.
Allow me to emphasise that this is no over night solution, it certainly hasn't been for me.
I would suggest I am very much a work-in-progress. And, persistent work in this area has dramatically transformed my experience of the world allowing me to point to evidence over the last 3 years that shows significant progress. For example, it's only in the last few years that I have been able to shift from survival mode. It's only in the last 2 years do I know what it is like to not live every day inside constant and ever present fear. It is only in the last year that I am now able to form meaningful connection with others, and talk about this subject from a place of inspired curiosity, as opposed to a desperate need to help myself not want to check out early. In many ways, I am a student and a practitioner.
Let me start with the 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, - the physical body.
It is our environment, that is being always, and forever unconsciously read by our 5 senses, with information sent to our Central Nervous System, which in turn interprets this information to then instruct 50 trillion cells in our body to animate accordingly. <-- this is a really important insight.
Which has often made me think of Einstein's comments in regards to this area. "The environment is the governing agent of the particle." All of this resonated so much with me that my dominating question was simply this,
What can I do to curate an environment that deliberately feeds my 5 senses information that is received by my CNS and interpreted as I am safe, I am healthy, I am good which in turn, will be relayed to 50 trillion cells in my body instructing them to breathe and chill?
What I literally mean by working with the 5 senses:
The Visual Senses:
My living space has colours, imagery, textures, objects - everything that I associate with well being, balance, stability. My space is fun, creative and perfectly organised to support my human to feel safe. As time went on, and I shifted out of survival mode, I curated my environment to feel safe-and-inspired.
I have designed a few pieces of art for my walls. Ganesha, Mary and Confucius are in the image below. My environment holds symbolism, imagery and messaging that my unconscious self takes in always and forever and uses this information to instruct 50 trillion cells accordingly. For me, my home feels like a place of rest.
When I am in this space, my environment is consistently feeding information to my 5 senses that I am well. In turn, my 50 trillion cells, sink into their proverbial pillows and lounge around, enjoying the moment. Game changer for me.
The Sound Sense:
I have tried and tested all sorts of frequency based music to sleep to, to play in my workday, and to listen to when I'm walking the beach.
963Hz aka The God Frequency has its place for me at work, but I feel much better with 432 Hz music at night, and recently, I've been using Green Noise to sleep to. Green Noise has been getting me to sleep fast, and keeping me in a deep sleep for longer. You need to try a few to see what suits you, best.
Jim Donovan is doing some cool things with sound and polyvagal theory. It is on my list to try out.
Emilano Toso is a cellular biologist and music composer. His work has experienced fame as he discovered that music has a healing effect on cells. His music can be heard playing in hospitals, particularly wards with cancer patients. Check out his music on Spotify.
The Touch Sense:
I have used a variety of stones and shells gathered from the beach, and would simply hold one while I was doing breath work, or practising mindfulness. They were great for me.
As I began to move out of survival mode, the objects that I resonated with, changed.
Now I have fun, colorful objects in my space. These items were selected based on their meaning, symbolism and because I think they are fun. For example, this is Ocho my octopus, a plush toy.
Octopuses have a lot of meaning attached to them that can change significantly pending culture, timeline and social influence. Carl Jung's work on symbolism, imagery and colour - the language of the unconscious mind has heavily influenced my research in this area.
These days, the meaning and symbolism of the octopus appeals to me most. Creativity, agility and problem solving. I have him in my space as a prompt to myself of engaging in more creativity, enjoying more agility and focusing on better problem solving.
Some Right brain resources to consider:
While I am a firm believer that deliberately curating your environment to ensure your 5 senses are pulling in information that serves you, is so important, I also have had a lot of value from engaging other resources and related qualified practitioners.
What we are looking for with these resources, are ways to heal and support the brain, central nervous system and the associated functions: self-regulation, perception and filtering our world.
This is not an exhaustive list - it's simply a list of where my own research has taken me. Feel free to ping me any you have found to be successful. I am aware there are hundreds of modalities out there just now.
Art Therapy is available in 1-to-1, Groups, Classes, Online, Offline, There is an abundance of Art Therapy options out there if this is for you.
You could also consider: art classes, photography, sculpting, crafting, metal work, wood work, jewellery making, Think of this area as giving your innate creativity form and expression.
There are adult coloring books. ;) I have published 15 books to date, available on Amazon worldwide, and as a digital download on this site. There are three categories of books: #ShouldersOfGiants #TimelyReminders #MindfulPractices - they are workbooks, coloring books, journalling, and inspirational, designed specifically for adults who want fun ways to engage right brain recovery.
Writing and Journalling
One of the most effective tools to see, learn and more deeply understand one's self. I found writing and journalling enormously helpful last year - so weaved this element into my series of books, and then later this year, I transformed how I write, from that form, into this form here. Moody Cow Blog. ;) Writing and Journalling can be private, public or change form every so often.
EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
This is a therapeutic approach that was developed by psychologist Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. It is primarily used to treat trauma-related disorders, particularly Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but it has also been applied to a range of other mental health conditions.
EMDR is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can lead to the formation of maladaptive memories that are not properly processed by the brain. These memories can continue to cause distressing symptoms and emotional reactions. EMDR aims to help individuals process these memories in a way that reduces their emotional charge and associated distress.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):
DBT incorporates mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness skills to help individuals manage overwhelming emotions and behaviors resulting from trauma. Licensed and skilled practitioners can be engaged for this approach.
Trauma-Informed Yoga and Movement:
These practices integrate yoga, mindful movement, and body awareness to help individuals reconnect with their bodies and release tension stored as a result of trauma.
This approach focuses on how the body responds to trauma and aims to release trapped energy or tension through guided bodily awareness and movement.
Mindfulness-based therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), teach individuals to be present in the moment and develop skills for managing distress.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a widely used approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT) specifically targets trauma-related symptoms and often includes cognitive restructuring and exposure techniques.