June 18, 2013

Taking a Time Out from PTSD

This week, I am pleased to bring you part two of Jolynn's series in which she will take you through the rise and fall of the segments of your day and how mindfulness can lead you ‘out ‘through the ‘in’ door. In today's post, she shares with us techniques for connecting to our environment as another step in recovery from PTSD.

Last week we tapped into focusing on the mindful practice of paying attention to your language, which most importantly tips you off to what is under the language you’re using: and that would be your beliefs.

So that being said, I believe a few things could have happened after you engaged with our blog last week. Some of you took the ‘attention’ exercises to heart and began to journal, with full devotion and enthusiasm, in the morning hours and at night right before retiring to bed. You dove in to discover what the heck is going on under the surface of all your ramblings. 

Perhaps though, and more than likely you found yourself noting mentally: “I will try that someday. I will re-engage in a journaling practice, for now I will just notice what I am noticing about what’s swirling in my mind and what’s coming out of my mouth.” Some of you, yes maybe you in fact, thought that it was a ridiculous idea to journal and just blew it off completely, and yet here you are back for more answers on mindfulness, monkey-mind and feeling better, whether you have PTSD or not.

Here’s the good news. No matter what you did or didn’t do after the suggestions offered last week on awareness and noticing your language patterns, today is a new day, and I am here to offer you more musings on how to operate through life as a human who will make choices each day, gather feedback on those choices, and make new choices based on that feedback. I love to hold firm to a guiding principle in my belief system that no one--not even you--is broken or fundamentally flawed. That you and I and all of the beings on this planet have amazing resources within themselves. Sometimes, they are out of conscious awareness, sometimes they are budding and just beginning to be expressed. Sometimes those resources are in full operation and serving us well. Discovering and developing those resources to leverage our lives into full joy and minimal discomfort is the goal...well it is for me anyway. Hopefully to you as well, even if you are in disbelief at this moment that it’s possible to live in full joy and minimal discomfort. I will hold the belief and possibility of you experiencing that--the space for you to believe it if you so choose-=until you can grasp it.

Paying attention to the feedback our environments, external conditions and our experiences are offering to us is equally important in ranking alongside the language tip offs.

So as you pay attention, peacefully, mindfully and curiously to what is happening around you, how about taking a few minutes to note it, and consider what you’d like to experience differently next time, and what you’d like to keep the same.

If journaling isn’t your thing right now, let’s try another mindfulness practice that is equally daunting at first, yet delicious and rewarding after it becomes a habit. Let’s look at meditation as a means to discover more about ourselves and how we are experiencing life. What will this do for you? What will considering and hopefully engaging in a simple meditation do for you? A few, well a few thousand, things. 

For starters, it will give you a natural much deserved time-out from daily businesses. Eventually all we do, really for the most part, can become a meditative, present-moment mindful experience. All we do as in our work or house cleaning, our shopping, our recreation time, our time with our loved ones. Present, grateful, aware--even if that moment of minimal discomfort is happening, or even if we are fresh out of a shock or crisis or in a state of confusion over an event that occurred. 

If that is not what you are experiencing currently, practicing a ‘sit-down’ meditation practice is a great way to start. Truth be told, early days of starting a habit, as you may know, can be uncomfortable. You are changing, shifting, trying something new or something you tried to start before and maybe discontinued. Ease into this mindful practice with reasonable expectation and you may find yourself enjoying it more than you could have imagined.

Before we dive into how to start this practice I want to make sure you understand the importance of that last tip. Setting reasonable expectations for yourself, is one of the most rewarding gifts you could ever give yourself, in my opinion. Think about it, when you set an expectation that is way too oversized, or way too out of your control, you set yourself up for disappointment, frustration, anger, fear, self-abuse. Stop and pause, and mindfully pay attention to your expectation around any new habit you are starting. Right-size it and notice how you can ease into it, approach it with a tenderness that is much the same as approaching perhaps a butterfly sitting on a flower that you don’t want to alarm. 

Approaching this meditation experiment can be like that. Like: “I am going to sit on my butt for five minutes and observe my thoughts and my breath. I’m going to notice what I notice and see if that old inner critic in me has more microphone time than the inner-supporter/genuine self in me.” And that is it. Notice that those thoughts, those banners of words and emotions and such that are swirling around in there are just that, noticeable. See if you can notice them without getting caught up in their meaning or story lines. See if you can notice how you breathe, how you feel in your body. I am going to write a simple script here at the end that will allow you to practice. Even if you are a seasoned meditator, these back-to-basics reminders can feel good and useful.

So yes, I am suggesting that as part of operating your life in a mindful way, as a person who embodies joy and wakes up looking forward to the day versus resistant of the day, begin the day sitting down.

Here is my RX for morning meditation.

One: After awakening and going to the bathroom find a tiny clear spot that you can sit comfortably and undisturbed (Note: if you have pets, children or spouses this may just be in the bathroom!) Eventually you can create a lovely meditation area, but for now, a reasonable expectation is to just park your butt somewhere.

Two: Set a timer (so yes grab a phone or something to do this with, like a kitchen timer or a mini hour glass from a child's board game) for five minutes (reasonable expectation) and sit with yourself. This can be nerve wracking at first, and if you can only do it for a minute, that is better than nothing. If five feels too long, one is great.

Three: Begin the practice by allowing your mind to scan inside your body from head to toe. Notice what parts of you feel tense, cold, warm, soft, firm, light, heavy ... just notice. Do your best not to judge, and as you do this, notice how your body breathes without you ‘thinking’ about breathing. You are so amazingly built. Really, notice the breath. The breath eventually becomes a place for you to shift your attention to, much like a home base. A focal point.

Four: When your timer goes off, just note your experience.

There are many excellent books on meditation, and if you have further questions feel free to email me directly for a free seven week outline of how to practice meditation for beginners.

I love that if you begin with the intention of sitting with yourself for five minutes each morning, you can retrain yourself to begin to really operate your physical being from your point of peace and that is from your Parasympathetic nervous system. From a place of natural proactiveness versus the place of unconscious reactivity. This simple practice is a great step to creating focus and attention on all that brings you joy and peace, and less on that which causes you turmoil and upset. As you learn even more about how to re-nurture, re-program, re-operate your life, your days will flow, and you will look back at times of discomfort with a new understanding. Meditation and the journaling you learned last week coupled together will give you strong foundational habits that open the doorways to further success, peace and happiness. Until next week, practice, take it easy, and be well!

First Five Minute Meditation
Record this slowly into your phone or computer to listen to while learning this habit:

Sitting still, allow your shoulders to relax and sit up nice and straight. As straight as you can. Settle in to this seated position. You are safe. You are just practicing. Take in a nice, slow, deep breath, and let it go. Again, just breathe in and breathe out. Check your shoulders for tension. Is your tongue plastered to the roof of your mouth? Let it relax. Let your scalp, forehead, brows, cheeks, jaw, neck relax. Notice if your breath is shallow or in your belly. Let it be. Just notice it. Begin to make a mental scan with your mind's eye, your imagination, and start inside at the top of your head right under your scalp, just scan through from head to toe. Are there spots that are tense? Muscles tight? Muscles relaxed? Notice for coolness, warmth, tingling; whatever you notice that’s fine. Notice it and do your best to not label it or judge it. Notice how inside you there are many parts, muscles, bones, organs and even emotions, feelings, thoughts and sensations. This is just a scan to notice. You may even notice thoughts, words, stories, sounds in your mind. Can you allow yourself to observe them as though they are distant from you? As though they are separate from you? As though you can pull back and witness them, as though they are on a screen, like a T.V. screen and you are in a chair. Notice how you can be the observer. This is a useful tool. It comes in handy from time to time. To notice things from afar. Notice your breath now. Shallow? Deep? Chest? Belly? Re-scan through your body. Allow yourself to relax even more. There is no one you need to tend to except for you right now. You are important. No one needs anything from you in this moment. Notice how you are in a moment. This moment. Here, now, breathing. Sit in silence for a moment. When the bell rings, breathe, and go about your day. All is well. All is well. All is well.”

Check back next week for the final post from Jolynn!


Jolynn Van Asten M.Msc, M.NLP is a solid and dynamic leader, seasoned Master Business and Personal Transformational Coach who is dedicated to teaching women entrepreneurs and leaders how to create businesses that pay them over six figures annually while working less, and spending more time enjoying their other life passions.
Jolynn has worked with 1,000’s of entrepreneurs in elevating their business  success and assisting them in clearing their personal  inner and outer roadblocks quickly at the unconscious and conscious level.
She has a passion for training women in  entrepreneurial leadership  how to heal their emotional wounds around finances, prosperity,self worth. How  to restore their authentic divine connection, intuition, confidence and creativity while  increasing their profit and productivity; their bliss.
She holds many degrees and certifications in Transpersonal Psychology and Brain Based process and believes her clients and students seek out and appreciate how she’s able to lead and teach from her own healed heart business wisdom. Jolynn imparts intuitive guidance and grounded practicality to guide them on a journey to richness, wellness and wholeness.
She  is the forthcoming author of : Procrastinate your way to prosperity, turning your weaknesses into gold. She conducts womens wisdom workshops on prosperity and time-energy management.
To book her to speak to your group you may contact support@expertbreakthrough.com 


  1. Thank you for the article. I didn't read all of it, but it was perfect for where my head is at. Thanks again.


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