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Mindful #1: Intro to Inner Focus

This orientation to Mindful Awareness exercises is designed to increase and enhance your inner focus. Those who relate to my Iceberg Model have been trying NOT to do that most of their lives.

Now, here is where the rubber meets the road… You have a lot of information and new learning about the intricate workings of the brain and central nervous system in the Core Courses section. You now know we need to recondition our nervous system, so I want to remind everyone of Heebs law (Part 3: Neuroplasticity):

  1. Neurons that Fire together, wire together

  2. Use it, or lose it

It is also critical to remember that change and all new learning comes with Intensity and Repetition. This is how to use the Core Courses section… with intensity and repetition. Study these Core Courses so that you know them so well you could almost present them yourself. The more able you are to do that, the more your neural circuitry will have been transformed!

The ability to focus inward has usually been so neglected by those who carry emotional wounds that they find it very difficult to identify and pay attention to their feelings in a healthy way. The Mindful Awareness exercises will help you develop and enhance your ability to turn your focus inward and soothe your feeling brain and those reactive survial oriented parts that get triggered.

The third video in the Basic Neuroplasticity post shows a secret about chemistry of thoughts and feelings. “We think the way we feel, then we feel the way we think, then we think the way we feel…”, and so forth. That is because your thoughts signal the brain to make and release chemicals consistent with those thoughts, then your thoughts tell stories about why you feel that way.

The Flashlight of Awareness shows us what happens when we focus our awareness in the wrong direction. The Neurological Group Home Analogy goes into detail about the role the Medial Prefrontal Cortex has in soothing the feeling brain when we allow it to simply be mindfully aware, just noticing thoughts and feelings in the present moment.

These Mindful Awareness Exercises will outline several interventions that help us stay mindfully aware of what is happening inside me and around me, right here-and-right now, rather than leaving the present moment behind and being transported back into the there-and-then, or entertaining disaster fantasies about what may happen in the future.

Video Transcript

Being “in script” means to be under the influence and control of our subconscious programming (Also known as those third-tier Reactive Parts on the LSPM card). The phrases “getting triggered” and being “in script” are almost synonymous; but not quite, because getting triggered refers to the stimulus that “triggered” our move into those “scripty” or reactive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of our fight, flight, freeze, submit, and attach survival responses.

So, in this sense the word “trigger” refers to any stimulus that becomes mentally linked to a certain inner state & behavior.  For example, the sound of ice jingling in a glass may trigger the Flight Part to create a strong urge for the alcoholic to have a drink. The tearful cry for help or cry for rescue from the wounded Attachment Part of that same alcoholic calling to get bailed out of jail may trigger the codependent partner to come to the rescue “one more time”.  

Or a disapproving look from a partner or spouse may trigger a fear of abandonment in the Submit Part of one person, but an angry tirade in the Fight Part of another. Any stimulus may be linked to any Reactive Part; it could be absolutely anything. Each Reactive Part has its own beliefs about the self, others, and life in general, its own familiar emotional themes, and its own collection of behavioral choices.

All it takes to make such a link is intensity and/or repetition. Let’s say there are two teenage girls in the same auditorium when the person giving a speech mentions the word “fire”. One of the girls quietly begins to cry while on the other side of the auditorium, another girl radiates with a happy glow and a big smile. The one who is crying was “triggered” into a memory of losing her favorite pet in a house fire recently – very intense. But the one who is glowing is triggered into a series of memories of all the happy times she had in Campfire Girls.

The death of a loved one in a house fire was intense enough to produce one-trial learning, instantly associating the word fire with enough emotional pain sufficient to cause a Freeze Response. But most other less intense associations take repetition such as those many outings with the Campfire Girls. The only difference between the two girls is their database of experience.

Words, gestures, smells, and facial expressions are examples of stimuli that may become triggers for our survival oriented, Reactive Parts.  These triggers get linked to the core beliefs, emotional states, and behavioral responses of the Reactive Part of us that had the original experience – usually one of our wounded Inner Children. When that state is triggered, if the subconscious programming is allowed to run from start to finish, we will think, feel, and behave in the same way we thought, felt, and behaved at the time of that original imprint experience.

When we encounter a trigger and mindlessly react by letting a wounded Inner Child “drive the bus of our life”, we are acting-out the Life Script of that wounded inner child. The only alternative to being “in script” is to be “autonomous” of script…which simply means maintaining our composure & staying in our Growth-Oriented, Self-Actualizing Adult Ego-State.

This requires developing the ability to stay Mindfully Aware of what is happening inside me and around me, right here-and-right now, rather than leaving the present moment behind and being transported back into the there-and-then. (A useful tool for learning this critical skill is the Functional Ego-State Map)

What do I mean by “Going into script is mindless?” - Mindlessness means, you don’t have to remember to do it, you don’t make the effort to do it, and many times you are not even aware of acting-out a script until after the fact. But choosing to be autonomous of these scripts requires conscious effort to remain Mindfully Aware… and in the present moment… just curiously noticing our experience of what is happening… internally and externally… right-here-and-right-now. From this position we can be pro-active rather than reactive… In other words, “we can choose our behaviors, instead of letting our behaviors choose us.”

Again, our choice is to go through life mindlessly unaware… and to continue acting-out the life scripts written during childhood… or we can learn Mindful Awareness and proactively choose our response after considering all of the available healthy options.

The following exercises are to help experience and develop the ability of Mindful Awareness. When preparing for hypnosis, I often tell people I am not trying to put them into a trance…I am trying to help them get out of one! When we get transported to the past where we re-feel trauma, pain, and anger over and over again… we are in a negative hypnotic trance.

Mindful Awareness Exercises

These three exercises are meant to be used with intensity and repetition in order to develop your inner focus. This is required for healing emotional pain and being able to have authentic relationships with others. It is best if you learn and practice them in the following order:

The Awareness Continuum

The Curious Observer

The White Room.

Internet of the Mind Podcast
The Oasis
The resources here are from the Oasis @ Serenity Cafe. Topics include online course videos, meditation, guided imagery, self-hypnosis, mindfulness, and brainwave entrainment. Taking time out to reset your nervous system has never been so easy. I'm showcasing some of my audios and videos here. If you would like to support my work, become a member at my Oasis @ Serenity Cafe.
Don Carter MSW, LCSW