Welcome to this week’s Meditate or Die newsletter.
In this week’s edition, I go into how our past colors your present, before talking about a bottom-up approach to psychological health, and end with a tip to help you not fall asleep while meditating.
1. We All Live with Something from Our Past
Did you know that up until around the age of seven we operate mainly within the range of theta brain states?
The reason for this is the brain has not developed to the point where rational thought is fully operational.
(Obviously, there is a range of ages here, and I am making wide generalizations about child development but there is now enough research to make this claim into the zeitgeist.)
As a result of this children are like sponges, soaking up anything and everything within their environment. This is how we learn.
Now, if the environment is dirty, a sponge will soak up the mess and everything will be nice and clean but, if the family environment is dirty this toxicity will be soaked into how the child sees themselves and the world around them.
Now the family environment does not need to be completely dysfunctional for this to take place.
Indeed, family dynamics live on a spectrum. No one gets out of being affected in some manner because all parents are human.
And like all humans, they have their own likes, fears, hopes, dreams, and history that colors the present that will impinge on their children. And what comes as a result of the natural process of child development, is what I call dispositional narrative.
Dispositional Narrative is the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and they have been hugely influenced by our childhood.
You may think that what you think reflects “reality.” But the truth is probably stranger than you can ever imagine!
So the question then becomes, if I don’t know what I don’t know (or can remember) is there anything I can do about this?
Yes, there is!
2. Bottom-up Approach to Overcoming Our Past
For over a hundred years psychology has advocated looking at the past in order to fix the present. But it has done so and continues to do so, from the top down.
Be it Freud, Jung, or the present-day Mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy crowd, these schools of thought are all about fixing mental health by thinking about what happened and trying to analyze the “stuff” that comes up.
This approach is both slow and for some people, ineffective because it takes place mostly in beta states.
But there is a different approach emerging in the field of psychotherapy, and that is one in which a bottom-up approach is advocated.
This approach, it seems to me, is far more holistic insofar as it treats trauma as both a physiological and psychological issue to be solved.
That is, our nervous system plays a large role in keeping people tied to the past that influences behavior, and in turn, perpetuates the cycle of suffering.
This makes a lot of sense to me, as it gets at the seat of past trauma that manifests in fear, anxiety, depression, addiction, and removes it from the source.
If you or someone you know suffers from depression, anxiety, or similar mental health issues, there is something real and lasting that can be done.
The best candidates for this will be anyone suffering from trauma-related symptoms such as depression, anxiety, chronic fear, or similar issues.
For the magic of meditation to really take place and not just be a nice way to relax it is vital you do not fall asleep. This can be difficult.
So here is a tip to give you the best chance of moving into a theta state without losing consciousness.
TIP – Increase the intensity of your attention by looking closely at the experience of meditating.
By looking closer, just look when we look closely at the meaning of a sentence, or a piece of art hanging on a wall, there is a little effort that is required to do so.
And this is what will prevent you from falling asleep. but not too much effort or the vividness that is generated will cause you to move up into alpha states and become distracted.
Until next week.