Meet Anthie, My New Plantie

I heard a knock on our door last week and opened it to find our upstairs neighbor holding out a Spirit Anthurium. She was giving us a gift for no other reason than to be wonderful. God bless her. I looked down at Anthie and said, “Hello Anthie!” She was positively bursting with joy.

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I never had an anthurium before. I looked it up and they represent new beginnings and celebration. How perfect for us with Jack getting better (“Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music”) and the beginning of our new life here in AZ.

We couldn’t bring any of our plants from Chicago. They would’ve died in the mover’s truck. It was hard for us to let them go, but we found them good homes. I’d done their portraits in colored pencil before we left and immediately hung them in our new place.

***

I read my first book by a shaman about eight years ago. He said plants (along with trees and stones and everything in nature) have spirits. Not only that, but he said the spirits of plants want to help us if only we’d ask. I’d never heard of this worldview, but it resonated.

Not long after, I was up in the wee hours buzzing with hypervigilance, buckling under from a bad tummy and buried-trauma-energy manifesting in pain every which way. I wandered from window to window in the dark of our high-rise apartment and finally stood in the kitchen where we had several plants on a ledge. I’d bought one of them at a grocery store a couple months before and it was not doing well. I repotted her, gave her fresh soil, misted daily, trimmed the dying parts, but she was fading fast. It was upsetting. She was clearly dying. I couldn’t think of anything more I could do to save her.

I remembered what the shaman said and, even though I felt a little foolish, kneeled down and whispered to her, “If you can heal, so can I.”

Within two days, that plant turned around. Her leaves turned dark green and she multiplied so fast I had to buy a larger planter. I couldn’t believe it. I also began to get better through various non-traditional means. (See PTSD: Frozen in Time.)

img_1315-2(Healing plantie third from right.)

***

When I got off the meds years ago, I was utterly discombobulated by incredible physical pain and energy shooting through my arms and legs every day. I meditated a lot, not just for stillness at the center, but for answers and help.

One day, I’d gone deep into a feeling of relaxed floating inside of a wave. Many times, when I was in that state, a sort of screenshot would open up in my head, startling me out of the trance mode. The screenshots were always helpful or epiphanic. So this day, I’d been in a kind of despair, needing comfort and assurance I wasn’t dying. (All my pain and bizarre symptoms made me feel like I was dying, even though the doctors could find nothing.) I floated in a deep relaxed blank when a screenshot slowly appeared. It was of the leaves of the first plant I’d ever gotten. They were around me in a gentle embrace. There was so much love. My eyes quickly opened. I was incredulous.

***

I read a book about plant spirits and the author suggested you invite the spirit of a plant to join you on a walk. Since they’re grounded all the time, they appreciate the opportunity to move. It was my habit at that time to dance to music in the living room when Jack went out. I walked over to Little Mama (see below), the plantie that held me in meditation, and invited her spirit to hop on mine and dance with me. I started the music and let loose. I was swinging around and doing my thing. I lifted my arms up and out and suddenly felt long tendrils reaching beyond my fingers into the air. I kept dancing, but I have to tell you, it freaked me out! It’s one thing to read this stuff, but when you experience non-ordinary reality happening, it really blows your mind. At least it did mine.

 

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My dancing partner, Little Mama.

***

A wonderful book called The Secret Lives of Plants details one scientific case study after another showing plants have some kind of consciousness. The more you bond with a plant, the more love you show it, the more it is connected to you. I love that stuff.

I’ve been getting back to meditating again now that Jack is better and free time is opening up. I laid me down the other day, thinking of Anthie and wishing my ability to meditate and blank my mind was better developed so I could communicate with her. I fell into one of my old-time deep floats and, lo and behold, I got a screen shot of her. She was sitting next to our dining table and beside her stood what I think was her spirit–a soft, misty, yellow energy emanating light in a sort of stalk-like shape.

***

I am glad my worldview changed ten years ago. I’d been cynical all my life after losing my faith in a loving, interventionist Supreme Being because of genocide, molestation and slavery, not to mention what felt like a complete lack of response to my prayers as a child.

It’s true there are horrible things that happen in the world and sometimes no one intervenes, or what interventions there are appear fruitless, at least temporarily. There are also wonderful, miraculous things that happen that give me a sense of awe and wonder. As I always say, it’s a great mystery

I want to take action, if I’m able, when bad things happen. I also want to focus on those phenomena that give me a sense of awe and wonder.

Welcome Anthie!

P.S. Check out the coolest blog with gorgeous pictures of the faces of flowers. Don’t they look like they’re smiling and posing? From My Garden – Patricia Grace

 

PTSD and the Rain

It’s a cold, windy, rainy night here in Arizona. I go out onto the covered patio often because I love to hear the sound of the rain. I love the smell in the air. I love to feel the cool mist and feel the breeze on my skin and see the glistening light on the trees.

I don’t know what the architects were thinking when they designed the Chicago high-rise we used to live in. It was as if they forgot the windows and at the last minute added tiny two-inch openings at the bottoms of each, which allowed very little air through. I couldn’t hear the rain at all and if I went downstairs on the deck to watch it, I’d have to run half a block to the cabanas for shelter.

I’m so grateful to be out here and have Jack recuperating in what is normally gorgeous weather. I shudder at the thought of us back in downtown Chicago, boxed in by high-rises, unable to take leisurely walks over the wintry, rushing, crowded sidewalks, and navigating icy cement every time we’d go to see a doctor.

But I LOVED it for many years. It’s a great place when you’re young.

Jack, by the way, gets better and better. We go outside for walks every day. He’s off the rolling-cart and today walked without a cane. I know his echocardiogram will show improvement next month. He had a vivid dream with two angel mechanics restoring the left side of his heart!

As for me, surprise: I still have PTSD! But I feel I’ve healed so much with all I’ve done to release the trauma energy (described at length in my book: PTSD: Frozen in Time.)

My symptoms are much better. I sleep every night, for one. That’s huge.

But I still unconsciously bury feelings. The good thing is I’m aware of it now versus decades of being completely oblivious to what went on inside me.

When Jack asks me how I am in the morning and I say, “I don’t know. I can’t feel anything”, that always means I’m blocking something. Lately, it’s been frustration and anger. Understandable with the stress of the last few months when I didn’t know if Jack would live or die. With me as the sole caretaker, I felt a lot of pressure.

The fastest fix for me is doing Trauma Releasing Exercises, which literally always brings up tears. It’s vital I do this daily because if I go a few days without letting out what’s inside, I can go from calm to rage in an instant over something trivial. I catch it fast and apologize immediately, but then comes the remorse. It’s like I lose my mind for a few seconds. I hate when I do that.

Working out helps, too, but lately taking care of Jack, plus shopping and outside errands, my days are pretty full. I’d love to get back to work-outs again. And meditation.

I’ve been reading an interesting book called Stumbling Down the Shamanic Path by Michele Burdet. It’s a well-written, sometimes fascinating, memoir of, well, stumbling into shamanism. She starts out with meditation and had such fabulous results, it’s re-inspired me to get back into it. She also writes a lot about traveling internationally, dowsing and climbing mountains. I’m at the point where she (at the age of 70-something!) was climbing the Alps, (which she had been doing for years,) slipped and began sliding to the edge of a cliff and certain death when a companion grabbed the strap of her backpack and saved her. Once pulled to safety, she felt a “towering rage”, but in ten minutes, was back climbing the mountain feeling fine. Shortly thereafter, she’s in America visiting a friend on the East Coast when she wakes up feeling utterly depressed. This is so uncharacteristic of her. She’s a dynamo, always on the go, in great physical shape, filled with enthusiasm, passion and fire.

My first thought was she didn’t release the trauma energy when she nearly died. She felt the towering rage and the flood of stress hormones afterwards, but they were almost immediately buried.

In recent years, she’d discovered Sedona, Arizona and met a shaman there who performed soul retrieval on her. I suspect a bit of her soul slipped out on the Alps. Maybe the shaman will help her or maybe what was pressed down (depressed) in her comes out. We’ll see what happens.

I began reading an interesting book about PTSD a couple weeks ago. It was called The Evil Hours by David J. Morris. I didn’t get very far, just read the Kindle sample, but he mentioned how PTSD people talk about the before and after of trauma, how the quality and experience of life is never the same again.

How true that was for me.

When I remember my earliest years, it’s as if I looked at the world with something of the eyes I had in heaven, before I came into this life. Everything was beautiful to me, the sublime and the prosaic—unforgettably gorgeous. I was in love with life, thrilled to see a grasshopper, a seedling struggling out of the earth in spring, to run down the block, jump fences, eat a Popsicle. I loved the trees and bushes and flowers, the rain and snow, the clouds and sun. I loved the ice cold water out of the city fountain across the street, the side of our building where my cousin and I were digging a hole to China. I loved the library and music and paper and pens and our apartment and the church and every building on our street. Sunsets stopped me in my tracks. I felt God in the stars at night. I loved books and school, my family, my aunts and uncles and cousins. So many times, I’d lay on my bed with my arms behind my head and think I was the luckiest girl in the world. I was so happy. The world was beautiful. I was in love with life.

And then, of course, it all changed with trauma and I never again saw the world as I once did.

Though we moved to a beautiful home with a backyard full of cottonwood trees and rose bushes and all kinds of extraordinary foliage, I didn’t feel safe enough to relax and absorb it. I didn’t stop to look at the night sky. There was no space and time for reverie or dreaming. I was focused only on survival and all that entailed. When it was all over, it was as if I didn’t have the means of experiencing life anymore. I was so far removed. That little girl I once was had gone so far inside of me, she was a infinitesimal speck.

But when I was forty-nine and the meds stopped working, I began to feel again. And though it was often terribly painful and I cried almost every day for years, I also began to feel joy, and safe enough to relax and see and experience life a little like I did long ago.

Think I’ll go back outside and see what the rain is doing.

PTSD: The Long and Winding Road

I’ve felt so tired lately, and for good reason. In addition to unpredictable trouble sleeping, IBS-related stomach discomfort, the hangovers of cortisol flooding (after fight-or-flight triggers), and hypervigilance, there have been major health crises in my primary family since last September. I won’t go into all the tedious details, but these events included three life-threatening operations with complications and attendant caretaking.

And then, my dear husband, Jack, and I decided a couple months ago to relocate from Chicago to Arizona at the end of this summer.

We are super excited to move, but because of my husband’s heart condition and other health issues (he’s decades older than me), I’m doing a significant portion of the preparatory work (packing, scouting for homes, streamlining finances, finding homes for our planties and the furniture we won’t need, researching and interviewing movers, etc.).

Doing all this suits me fine really. I like to organize. Also, as an adult child of an alcoholic, one of the roles I unconsciously took on long ago was “caretaker” and it’s still second nature to watch over others and manage complex situations, especially emergencies. (I think a lot of us PTSD’ers are great in emergencies when, at last, our insides match our outsides!)

So originally, I was going to write a blog solely focused on the issue of PTSD and fatigue.

But then I thought about where I was at when I got off the meds three and a half years ago, (and was shocked to discover myself riddled with all the symptoms I’d had twenty-five years before, pre-meds) and instead decided to contemplate how far I’ve come.

(I write in detail about this in my book Frozen in Time: Adventures in Releasing Buried Energy and all I did to alleviate or get rid of PTSD symptoms.)

I wouldn’t have been able to take care of my beloved uncle, brother and husband during their health crises or even go alone on a scouting expedition to Arizona a couple weeks ago, if I hadn’t found ways of alleviating or getting rid of debilitating PTSD symptoms.

The most disabling symptom to reemerge off the meds was physical pain. First, it was in my feet, then my right gluteal muscle and lower back, then it spread in sciatica down the back of my left leg, then pain hit my neck. There was a time I couldn’t sit due to pain. I could only lie down, knees up, feet flat or stand, leaning on one leg. And then there was this incredible, indescribable pain in my solar plexus, unrelated to my digestive cycle.

I was so sure I was dying, so positive, not just from the mystery pain (the doctors could not definitively find anything organically wrong with me), but from the surging energy that woke me, speeding up and down my arms like mice running as fast as they could from my biceps to my hands, the terrifying overwhelming nausea that would bring me to my knees and had no relation to stomach acidity, and the feeling of imminent physical collapse that would strike out of nowhere.

I began reading books on PTSD like crazy. (I list a lot of them in my blog post on Recommended Books on Healing.)

I discovered Peter Levine and Somatic Therapy and came to understand all about trauma energy–the original trauma energy mobilized to deal with the threat of annihilation or equivalent that essentially froze in my system when I couldn’t fight or run or later shake out and release, which is the body’s natural response after trauma and would have rebalanced my system and prevented PTSD symptoms.

I realized that for decades I’d also buried most strong emotions that my survival brain, meds, and later narcotics, were unable to block. I can only remember crying a few times between my twenties and fifties. (On occasion, I did feel overwhelming anger and rage beginning in my early-twenties, and released it, most successfully, through work-outs.)

I had so much inside of me that needed to come out and until I found ways to release it all, I was apparently going to feel it as manifested in physical pain, nausea, near-faints, and feelings of bizarre energy manically buzzing through my body.

I discovered all this talk about buried energy and pain was true one morning, when my feet woke me with burning pain. I went into the bathroom to give my poor little feeties a sea salt soak. I put my earbuds on and began listening to a new sixties playlist I’d created, and suddenly began sobbing like a baby. I couldn’t believe how much I was crying–and without any idea what exactly I was crying about. When I was done, to my surprise and delight, I realized my feet didn’t hurt anymore. And I hadn’t put them in the sea salt bath!

I think the Other Side gave me the paradigm for my future healing that morning. I had to begin releasing the sadness–the feelings of anguish, abandonment, loneliness, and grief from my childhood, and in response to the sad waste of numb and despairing decades alone that followed.

In the last three and a half years, some of the things I did to release that old buried trauma and emotional energy included Somatic Therapy, soul retrieval with a shaman, Trauma Releasing Exercises, mindful meditation, and sessions with an energy healer and chiropractor.

And I cried.

I cried me a river day after day after day. Then one day, all the physical pain was gone, all the nausea, near faints and bizarre buzzing energy were gone, and the sadness became very faint.

And man, it was just in time! As soon as I got rid of all those symptoms, the family emergencies hit the fan. And, of course, we made our decision to move cross-country.

So I am tired. There’s no doubt about it. I still have sleep issues, but they’re better. I usually sleep every night now. I am frequently hypervigilant, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. And although I have digestive-related discomfort, that seems to be improving rapidly, too.

Today I feel so grateful for how far I’ve come. I like this new feeling of hope for the future.

Hooray!!

 

Introducing My Plant, Minty

I was feeling down late last night. I knew spending time with Minty would be just the ticket, so I put on an old movie, took out my paper and coloring pencils, and got to work on her portrait.

Minty smells good, especially when I play with her long, curly tendrils. When I spray her with water or give her a bath, she laughs and laughs and splashes me back with cool fragrant currents of minty-ness.

She is very beautiful and knows it, yet she is not conceited.

She’s laid back and relaxed. She accepts people, places, things and situations as they are, and is, therefore, very serene.

She was a sixties flower child in San Francisco in her previous incarnation. She wore flowers in her hair and dressed in long, soft, tie-dyed cotton maxi dresses and sandals. She wrote poetry and drew flowers. She was at the first Love-In and Be-In. Sometimes, when I’ve played “Abraham, Martin and John”, I’ve seen a little tear slip down the side of her planter.

That’s not to say she is a sad plant. Far from it. She just has feelings, and lets them come out. It keeps her healthy.

It cheers me up to see her each morning because she is so happy to be alive.

One day, I was dancing in the living room. Something moved me to dance over to Minty. I asked her if she wanted to leap her spirit onto mine and dance with me. As I continued twirling and dancing through the room, I felt her tendrils flowing from the ends of my fingers.

Last night, she told me it is part of my soul’s journey to learn to create a sense of wellbeing on my own, independent of other people’s opinions and treatment of me. I also need to learn to trust my own reality, even if the whole world denies it.

I said, “It’s so tough to do sometimes, Minty.”

She said, “For sure.”

I said, “I survived as a kid by pretending my family’s version of reality was real and true, and then almost coming to believe it–when the truth was my family was not reflecting reality at all. As an adult, it’s still hard sometimes to trust my own reality when others vehemently deny it.”

She said, “That’s how you know it’s a life lesson. It keeps coming up over and over again.”

I said, “It’s a drag, man.”

She said, “I hear you, sister. Just remember, it’s all about love in the end. It’s the only thing that matters. All else will fall away one day, but that. When you are feeling down or wake up in the night empty and sad, focus on love. Think of the things you love, the people you love. See them in your mind’s eye.”

I said, “You are so wise, Minty. But I just have to say—you are such a flower-child! Did you like that song, the one that goes, ‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’?”

She said, “He wrote that for me, you know.”

I said, “No way!”

“Way!”

Isn’t Minty the coolest?

My Portrait of Minty

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Minty in Real Life

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Sleep, Sleep, Sleep

“Take Sominex tonight and sleep, safe and restful, sleep, sleep, sleep.”

I remember seeing that commercial for Sominex in the sixties. Oh, were there only something safe and non-addictive that worked to help me sleep, sleep, sleep!

Tranquilizers are the worst. You take them every day for two weeks and they stop being as effective as they were initially. Up the dose, two more weeks go by, up the dose again and so on. And they rewire your brain big-time–not in a good way. Getting off them when I was twenty was hell. But it can be done. You just have to accept the discomfort of withdrawal. (It can be dangerous, so only do this under a doctor’s supervision. I, unfortunately, did not. It could have been so much easier.)

Imipramine worked for about twenty years, and then it didn’t. Ditto Zyprexa (for seven years).

When I was 49, I averaged about an hour of sleep a night. Man, did I start hallucinating!!! Or seeing ghosts…or worse. (I wrote about this in Startle: A True Story of PTSD and the Paranormal.)

Anyhoo, eventually I stopped taking all meds prescribed for my PTSD because they weren’t working anymore.

Sleep has since been a challenge, although it’s getting better.

I usually put together six hours within a twelve hour period. If I’m going through a stressful period, I sleep for half an hour, then wake abruptly–hypervigilant. I’m up for an hour or two before I fall back. Sometimes I wake early morning and am up for a couple hours, then back to sleep for two. I’m lucky I can do this since I’m not working nine-to-five anymore. Sometimes I get six solid. It’s getting better, but s-l-o-w-l-y.

I’ve been tired since I was a teenager. I couldn’t sleep until dawn back then. I thought that meant I was a night owl. Now I know it had more to do with my childhood. I was programmed. My body associates nighttime with bad things. There are many nights I still don’t feel safe enough to sleep until the sun comes up.

So it’s tough trying to relax to go to sleep.

There is one surefire way for me to drop off and that is if I blank my mind, which is hard to do. But if I can do it, if I can keep all thoughts at bay for about ten or fifteen seconds, I will fall asleep.

I get so tired of being tired.

One good thing about being tired, though, is my mind slips into the alpha or theta brain states faster and then it’s easier to have shamanic-type experiences.

Last week, I read John Perkins’ book about shapeshifting. One of the shamans he spoke with advised him to listen to his heart. He said the heart is connected to the Universe and will help you if you ask questions and listen. So I asked my heart to show me what’s going on. Why am I so tired? What can I do to get my energy back? Then I put my hand over my heart and blanked my mind.

I got an involuntary screenshot of someone on a wild horse in a rodeo. The horse keeps trying to buck them, but they’re holding on. I figure the message meant I’ve been riding the wild waves of primitive instinct, up and down, up and down, holding on—and that comes at a cost.

The extreme states of PTSD are exhausting. The anger, fear and sadness—not to mention the flooding of cortisol and other stress hormones related to the fight-or-flight states.

Peter Levine says the process of releasing buried energy is slow. It happens in bits and pieces. The body will heal naturally, at its own rate, as long as we don’t block it with drugs and alcohol.

Lima Bean reminds me I’m so much better than I was three years ago. All the physical pain (except IBS-related) went away. The unbearable feelings of grief dissipated completely. And…

What’s that?

Who is Lima Bean?

Forgive me. Allow me to introduce Lima Bean. (See picture below.)

I adopted her five years ago. She was a wee young thing then. Pretty soon, she’ll be taller than me. She’s a cool hipster and night owl. She’s mostly dug jazz since I’ve known her, but she recently discovered B.B. King’s “Live at the Regal” album and can’t get enough of it. She keeps asking me to take her to the South Side (of Chicago) to hear some real blues. She says since I’m usually up anyway, what’s the prob? I tell her if I were still single, yes, but it’s more complicated now. I gave her a Christmas ornament to groove with in the meantime. The Christmas ornament hasn’t given me his name yet, but his favorite song is “Big Noise from Winnetka” (original instrumental version). When I play it, he vibrates round the roots of Lima Bean and she nods along to the rhythm in a cool modified way. At least when I can’t sleep, Lima Bean and Christmas Ornament are wide awake with me.

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What Gives You a Sense of Wellbeing?

I watched a documentary online last week called The Sacred Science. The filmmakers followed the journey of eight people with serious health conditions who traveled to the Amazon Rainforest to be treated by indigenous healers (after Western Medicine proved ineffective). One of these people was a woman who’d been sexually abused as a child. By the time she left the rainforest, she had such a tangible sense of wellbeing, you could feel it. She was practically luminous. That was my perception anyway.

For most of my life, I have not felt very relaxed or peaceful inside. Neither have I had much of a sense of wellbeing. This is understandable since I have PTSD and one of my main symptoms has been hypervigilance. My body/brain has rarely felt safe enough for me to feel at peace.

Drinking gave me a synthetic sense of wellbeing in my teen years. After I quit drinking, I got into tranquilizers. They certainly gave me a peaceful, easy feeling, but I bottomed out on them fast. In my late 30’s, early 40’s, painkillers were my “solution”. They made me feel just dandy for maybe two years. I quit a daily habit after five.

Anti-depressants and anti-psychotics never gave me a sense of wellbeing. Imipramine and Zyprexa made me sleepy at night, though, which was helpful when I had a career. I needed my sleep. They stopped working eventually, too.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking, If only we could win Little Lotto, we could go on a trip to C__ B__ in Wisconsin. Every time we’ve gone to this gorgeous resort, I’ve felt so wonderfully relaxed, at peace, filled with wellbeing. It’s a marvelous place in the middle of 300 acres of forest. There are lakes and streams and wildlife, a fabulously stocked library, the dinners are out of this world and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cabins are beautiful. But it’s terribly expensive and I don’t know when we’ll have that kind of dough again.

Going someplace like I described might make it more conducive for me to relax and feel good, but in the end–it’s an inside job really. Theoretically, I don’t have to go anywhere to change the way I feel.

But with my crazy hypervigilance, unpredictable fight-or-flight surges and sleep issues, feeling peaceful has been somewhat of an elusive state of being for me.

The last two nights, as I closed my eyes to fall asleep, I asked myself, What relaxes me? What gives me a sense of wellbeing?

I sometimes feel relaxed after vigorous exercise.

I used to find the still point within with mindful meditation, but when I got off the meds three years ago, my buried trauma energy came pouring out like nobody’s business. The result was when I got quiet and focused on mindfully meditating, I’d usually sob like a baby or fall asleep due to sleep deprivation. But as a rule, mindful meditation increases my sense of wellbeing.

Sometimes I relax when I color. Although I’ve seen adult coloring books in the drugstore, I prefer the old fashioned kids’ kind. I love the big box of Crayolas.

Although I am not naturally gifted at drawing, I get really focused and quiet when I draw and color something simple. When I drew and colored my plant “Basie” late one night, I noticed she had the cutest face on one of her leaves—two eyes and a big smile. When my husband woke the next morning, I told him he had to see this. But the face was gone! Maybe Basie was smiling posing for the picture. I’ve read a couple books on plant spirits. The shamans say plants and trees are here to help us if we’d only ask politely.

I wrote a couple novels under a different name. They’re sort of urban fairy tales. I definitely went into solid Alpha Brain Wave states writing them, if not full-blown Theta.

When I’d finish that day’s writing and take a walk afterwards, I’d put on my iPod and be lost for an hour or two imagining what would happen next in the fantasy world I created. That was super enjoyable and made me dreamy.

I asked my husband when he’s seen me relax. He reminded me of a period when I’d spend hours every day arranging and gluing little pictures I’d cut out of magazines onto paper, trying to make beautiful designs.

What I notice about these things which quiet me down, make me feel good or peaceful or relaxed, is that they are activities in which I focus on something in the here and now, engage in some activity enjoyable in and of itself.

What works for you?

Here is Basie (pronounced BAY-zee). She is a basil plant. Her favorite song is “Corner Pocket” by Count Basie. When I play it for her, I see her dancing out of the corner of my eye—but if I look directly at her, she stops due to shyness. She loves to soak up the sun and enjoys frequent misting. She’s very loving, kind and perceptive. Even though she is tiny, she’s very strong. I sometimes sing “Bicycle Built for Two” to her, substituting “Basie” for “Daisy”.

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My Favorite Books on Healing

I’ve been crazy about books all my life. Loved fiction when I was little through to my early thirties. Then I started reading a lot of non-fiction: biographies, memoirs, history.

Since I got off PTSD meds in 2012 and all the symptoms I had in my twenties came back, I’ve been mostly reading books related to healing.

I usually avoid memoirs detailing trauma because I get triggered too easily, but I downloaded Untangled by Alexis Rose on my Kindle yesterday and was riveted. This is one engrossing book. What a spirit she has. And what a story! Written beautifully, I could not put it down.

Next on my list to read is Peter Levine’s Trauma and Memory. I only hesitate because of the price ($16.99 on Kindle), but since his books have been vitally important to my understanding of PTSD, I’ll no doubt buy it.

Anyhoo, please add any books you’ve found helpful in healing. It doesn’t have to be literally about healing PTSD. Just books that have helped for whatever reason. I’m always looking for recommendations. Thank you.

Anatomy of the Spirit—Caroline Myss, Ph.D

Best book on chakras I’ve read.

Believe and It Is True—Deborah K. Lloyd

Inspiring. The author gets post-polio syndrome in middle-age. She tries alternative methods of healing with Reiki and a shaman and has surprising results.

The Body RemembersThe Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment—Babette Rothschild

Fantastic and illuminating. Case studies of PTSD clients, written by the therapist author. I loved how she kept her patients safe as they released trauma.

Buddha’s BrainThe Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom—Rich Hanson, Ph.D. with Richard Mendius, MD

How to stimulate, strengthen and rewire your brain for greater wellbeing.

Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation—Boon, Steele, Van der Hart

Revelatory. Includes workbook material. Very helpful.

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse—Ellen Bass, Laura Davis

Although I am not an incest survivor, this book gave me one epiphany after another when I first read it in my thirties.

Dance of the Four WindsSecrets of the Inca Medicine Wheel—Villoldo, Jendresen

All the books I list by Villoldo have to do with shamanism and healing. He frequently explains how the brain responds to trauma and the involuntary fragmentation of the self/soul in order to survive.

DenialA Memoir—Jessica Stern

Riveting. How normal a dangerous life feels to the survivor of trauma! Our body/mind will recreate scenarios of potential trauma again and again in order to release the energy trapped in our nervous systems.

Energy Medicine—Donna Eden

The “bible” of energy medicine. Lots of techniques and simple healing exercises.

Energy Work: The Secrets of Healing and Spiritual Development—Robert Bruce

A good book about moving energy through your body to heal your body. Lots of exercises. The narrative isn’t a laugh a minute, but the book is thorough and informative.

Focusing—Eugene T. Gendlin, Ph.D.

Incredibly powerful healing technique. To me, focusing is sort of a deep, focused mindful meditation of the body’s felt-sense leading to all sorts of amazing experiences, including revelations and release of pain. Warning: Body memories came up so quickly for me that I advise anyone with missing blocks of time to approach this method with caution. You may not remember, but your body does. You can always slow down or stop it if it gets too intense. Also, keep in mind some things might feel like body memories, but may instead be metaphors for what happened in lost time.

The Gift of Shamanism—Itzhak Beery and John Perkins

Absolutely fascinating account of Mr. Beery becoming a shaman and his adventures as a shaman. A lifelong atheist born on a kibbutz, he picked up a book by Hank Wesselman to read on a flight from Manhattan to Hawaii and it changed his life. He writes beautifully and the vignettes of healing are awe-inspiring.

Eight Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery—Babette Rothschild

Good basic information.

Healing Back Pain—John E. Sarno, MD

Dr. Sarno discovered that most of his patients’ back pain was unexpressed emotion.

Healing StatesA Journey into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

Companion to the 12-part documentary. Visits with different kinds of healers and shamans in South America. Details experiences apprenticing to Peruvian shaman.

Healing the Folks Who Live Inside—Esly Regina Carvalho, Ph.D.

Explains EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy. Thought provoking.

IlluminationThe Shaman Way of Healing—Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

He sees crises as initiations giving us the opportunity to become illuminated or awakened to our divine nature. Includes shamanic healing techniques and related discoveries in neurobiology. Talks about trauma and the brain.

Invisible HeroesSurvivors of Trauma and How They Heal—Belleruth Naparstek

A must-read. So inspiring. So illuminating. Simply wonderful.

In an Unspoken VoiceHow the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

He wrote this after his classic Waking the Tiger so it has updated and additional material. Great book.

Many Lives, Many Masters—Brian L. Weiss, MD

Fascinating account of skeptical Yale-educated psychiatrist stumbling upon the reality of reincarnation. A lot of healing stories, ideas and wisdom to contemplate as to the mystery of tragedy in human life.

PTSD Frozen in Time (Adventures in Releasing Buried Energy)—Ann E. Laurie

That’s me! I’m sneaking my book in here. Details what I did to heal my PTSD when the meds stopped working and all hell broke loose. Plus musings on PTSD.

The Power of Now—Eckhardt Tolle

Inspiring reading for living in the moment. Since the original trauma energy continually cycles through our bodies, it cannot be found in the past. Dealing with it in the now is the only way out. Gives helpful, easy-to-do techniques.

Shaman, Healer, Sage—Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D.

Well-written book detailing techniques to heal the imprints of disease and trauma in our energy field. Fascinating true accounts.

Soul Retrieval—Mending the Fragmented Self—Sandra Ingerman

I read this cover-to-cover in one sitting. This is the book that first inspired me to meet with a shaman for soul retrieval.

The Tapping Solution—Nick Ortner

Excellent explanation and clear directions for this simple healing practice with many inspiring case studies.

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political TerrorJudith Herman

A classic.

Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma—Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

If you read only one book on PTSD, I vote this be the one.

What Every Body Is Saying—An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People—Joe Navarro

Mr. Navarro interprets body language based on his knowledge of the survival brain and how it involuntarily controls body movement and positioning. Fascinating.