Tag Archives: spirit

Memories: Changing the Cycle of Pain and Automatic Reactions

Sometimes we hold ourselves back from certain people, places, dates and times, experiences and other aspects of life because of a painful or traumatic memory.

Unconscious intrusive triggers might inhibit us from participating in good aspects of life because we get hung up on the somatic (physical) and psychological (mental) effects of remembering. We don’t want a repeat of a painful “last time,” and try to avoid such occurrences. Such memory recall often triggers episodes of reliving an experience adding to and even reinforcing the negative experiences we had.  THis may also act as a reinforcer unhelpful belief patterns. When this occurs, PAIN becomes our counsellor, and even sometimes, our governor. What can we do? 

One thing you often can do is to overwrite an old memory by making a new memory with the present opportunity you have. We are constantly overwriting old memories with new material unconsciously. We can consciously do so too with some intention and belief it is possible. Hope is a strong motivator.

images-3

 

The Brain is powerful in the cognitive function of plasticity. Scientists used to believe that memory was hardwired and once formed, permanent. However, since then it has been discovered through neuroscience and cognitive psychology that each time we recall a memory, it changes in subtle ways. We unconsciously edit a memory with minute subtractions and additions, and the memory becomes re-consolidated (reconstructed and saved) in a new way. 

This is in part why some parts of memory stand out more than others, some parts fade, others increase in intensity and quality, and sometimes other people’s recall of a same event is different than our own. Occasionally our minds even fill in the blanks with color or other details we have forgotten, aren’t true or didn’t actually occur. E.g. “I could swear that motorcycle Joe had was red, not blue.” 

Particularly salient parts of memory are more likely to stand out and last longer. However, even memories of traumatic events such as 9-11, are, and can be, edited as we remember them. An interesting area of study on salient events involves eye-witness cases, which have high inconsistencies and are now considered as somewhat unreliable evidence in courts of law. We can embellish memories or micro-delete aspects unconsciously or by deliberate choice. Memory is influenced by numerous variables and is an interesting study on its own.

This fact also means we be active in choosing how we want to remember by reconstructing a memory association.  I am not advocating telling ourselves lies or myths to cope. This is what I do mean…

images-2

Memory works strongly with associations such as taste, smell, touch, sight, sound, and other senses such as feelings/emotions. E.g. people may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how they felt when you said it.

I rephrased this popular saying because, regarding emotions (which differ from our physical yet are interconnected) we have power and responsibility in part for our feelings and how we manage or act on them even when another is an initiator of negative events. We may be on a learning curve on how to do this, but ultimately, its within our power to decide how we will allow things effect us long term, and what we will do to begin the process and fulfillment of healing.

When pain and fear anchor as primary emotions in our memory consolidation process, it can create a reinforcement cycle of the memory like a well worn path. Further, painful social situations activate the same nerve and brain areas as physical pain does. This is why we experience heartache as a physical pain, or get pain symptoms in various parts of our bodies (soma-symptoms). However our bodies can learn to release trauma and pain from soma and muscle memory as well.

images-1
dendrites flickr.com

We usually have understanding of the problem of our pain, but are often uncertain how to get our minds out of memory holding patterns. This pattern is what needs changed to heal. By the same principle of the well worn path, a pathway barely used becomes overgrown. In the case of brain patterns and memory, when dendrites and synapses (our brain’s tree branches and leaves, or highways and intersections) are not in frequent use, the brain prunes our memory tree, closes road.

Then as we learn or adapt our thinking, it regrows new branches or paves new roads or adds an overpass, which function differently.  This principle of use and disuse is quite noticeable in things like second languages, directions, or placing a name to a face.

We don’t have to revisit every painful memory for this to happen, like scientists and therapists used to believe. We can actively make new memories in place of the old. It is like overwriting old code. This removes old triggering associations, by creating new ones.

This memory flexibility and resilience underlies certain professional psychological treatments for trauma, phobias, and general cognitive restructuring. The brain gets rewired as to what our focus is on, connects to new associations, forming patterns in our memory, which then re-consolidates into a new framework, or schema. Thus we can remember events or other things without pain or triggers when this change occurs.

images
What we focus on expands and magnifies.

 If you find certain places, people, objects etc are triggers for you, you might want to give making new memory associations a chance. It may not happen the first time you try, you may feel very uncomfortable at first. It may even feel worse to begin with, but with persistence and support from others, the memories, experiences,  relationships, etcetera that you want to keep but with new healthy associations, can happen for you. I have shared this concept with personal friends and have started receiving good feedback about its affects.

In reality, we don’t ‘unlearn’ things- we learn again- the overwriting aspect. This plasticity is also a mechanic of the spiritual reality of renewing our minds to truth, and shifting belief patterns. You can be free of negative past associations. Let’s get creative.

*Not every memory is one we want to keep; some we are better off losing completely– I don’t mean repression. Depending on the severity of trauma and our personal experiences, this type of overwriting may work great without other’s involvement, or, people may find they need assistance in this process, whether a friend, counsellor, or by supernatural means.

For those of you whose hope has been crushed by being told you have a disorder that can’t be healed, only managed, I encourage you to seek counsel and wholeness through Jesus our Healer. The greatest helper, Jesus Christ, is the master physician and counselor for memories that have crushed one’s spirit. I, and, many others can personally attest to His healing power and loving process to heal memories.

For further interest, this book was recommended to me by my oversight (a practicing psychiatrist) in my undergrad course Abnormal Psychology  regarding my course project: investigating  DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and Depersonalization–Derealization Disorder (DDD–which is in fact more common than generally realized by practitioners). For those who like a little more scientific info, or wonder about the mechanics of how focus affects any number of our systems including spiritual focus see:

New York Times Bestseller, FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman.

 

Advertisements

Prophetic word: Losing your Song

I gave this word at my local church assembly this last Sunday, but it is an evergreen type of word, as various people in different places and seasons will experience this type of thing. Feel free to share it so others may receive comfort and encouragement.

Some people, through their experience, have not been singing as they have before, but there is more to this- it is a stratagem to try to steal your song.

Joy brings a song, but sorrow can stifle it or occlude it’s sound in your heart and mind.

(Sorrow can be a place for your song too, for grieving and healing, as long as we don’t let go of our song or lose it there)

Your song of worship is a crucial factor of your experience & connectedness with God. It comes out of our joy of Him, of our victories and belief. It’s also what we offer Him in response and gratitude.

Your song is a part of you, like an essence or matter.

David van Koevering (who made the first digital synth/piano keyboard), & his colleagues discovered that if they took a person’s DNA pattern and put it digitally into the keyboard it played a beautiful song. Each person’s DNA plays a unique and beautiful song.

You don’t just have a song,

You are a song.

I’ve read some various word studies of scripture, and a number of people concluded & interpreted Genesis 1, when God began to speak,

Let there be…” that He actually sang it.

We see this concept again in Zephaniah 3 17, that He sings over us. The song of the Lord resonates in our very molecules as He sings over us with rejoicing. (And He dances -spins or whirls around us singing, more precisely)

Without your song to the Lord, a vital part of you goes into in stasis-you can feel the difference, though not always recognize right away, that it’s your song that’s missing.

If you feel you’ve lost your song, then go into that place with Him- your devotions, prayer closet, etc, and listen until you hear Him singing it back to you. Worship helps bring your song back.

Others, may we guard our hearts with diligence, keep the heart fires of our song well tended, and sing a new song.

The Word Opens Up Encounters

By faith we inherit…Therefore inheriting the promises is the outcome of faith and depends entirely on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guarenteed to all his descendants… Romans 4 (Amplified).

Grace, Faith and Promise

By grace through a promise we receive. Takes a load of performance pressure off doesn’t it? Whatever point of our journey, God is anticipating using our experiences as opportunities to reveal Himself to us that we might know Him- not just doctrinally, but experientially. One of my favorite things is noticing a verse or paragraph and then experientially understanding it, or having some encounter with God and then finding a verse that affirms it. This is a story about that. Encountering God experientially after meditating on a passage of scripture for a time- Romans 4.

Singing a Love Song

I love to sing. More to the point I love to worship through song. Since I was a child, who discovered she could carry a tune and do a half decent rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolleen, I have sung my way through life’s joys and sorrows. I grew up on Country and later imagined myself singing Jazz and Blues in the nightclubs (it was the only place I knew where crooners would be welcome).

To hone my craft, I joined school and church choirs, moved on to duets and finally “solos” then on to weddings, christian ladies brunches, and funerals. For a very short stint, I was the singer for a band called Sweet and Nasty– I was the sweet, and other members were the nasty. We had one gig at Klondike Days (K-Days) in the Christian Motorcycle Group’s tent and then I faded into obscurity. I was later invited to join another band that had some small time tour plans but by that time I had a beautiful 5 month old son, and my priorities had shifted. My band days were behind me.

At some point I decided my voice had been given by God and belonged to purposes that put the spotlight on Him alone, so I never did croon the jazz and blues as I had dreamed. But He was attentive to my heart desires and opened up a place for me to lead worship in the church, something that I had prayed secretly for but had not voiced. I was delighted! This is the background upon which my personal encounter with Him became staged…

Trial and Pain

Somewhere between singing and diapers I began to experience pain on the right side of my jaw. I ignored it as long as possible until I began getting headaches as well and sharp biting pains that would move from my jaw up the side to the top of my head, and my jaw began to click when it opened and closed. A little trauma at the dentist as a child made me anxious-avoidant but the pain became too frequent to ignore, so I made an appointment. The x-rays showed my wisdom teeth on both sides were turned and impacted. One tooth kept trying to move up into place but because of its orientation it was pushing against the molar in front of it instead. This was what caused the jaw and headache issues.

At the time I didn’t know much about the authority and power given to believers for intervention or how miracles came about, so I made my next appointment with the specialist, and began scrimping to save the cost of the surgery, around $1500 dollars. The day arrived and the doctor came out to speak to me as a preview to surgery. He asked a number of medical questions and what I did for hobbies. I shared with them that I was a singer, I sang in the church and a few other places.

He left and returned after a short examination of the x-rays with some unhappy news. One of the teeth was oriented in such a way that it appeared to go through the nasal cavity. This would mean that when they removed it, it would change my airways and my sound when I sang. Basically it might ruin my singing. Further, because it was an awkward surgery, it would be about $300 more than they had quoted me. I’ve heard this is the same reason Barbara Streisand chose to leave her nose as it was, the nose or the song. If it’s true, I’d say she chose well. Wind Beneath My Wings is a great song.

Laying it Down, Choosing Faith, Believing

This became a hard decision to make in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have more money- not in paper or plastic. And I loved to sing- I couldn’t imagine not singing. But this pain was becoming somewhat debilitating and I couldn’t see myself trying to live with it any longer. As I sat in the waiting room I turned to the Lord and offered Him back His gift I had used for His glory, as best I knew how. I said simply, “You gave me this ability to sing, and I really don’t want to lose it–but this pain is too much. I’m going to have the surgery and I’ll leave it to you whether I can still sing or not when I wake up.” I had an expectancy, and I was willing to entrust it all to Him.

An Encounter with my Beloved

I remember waking up from my own cry feeling drugged and nauseous, the nurse assuring me of where I was, that I was okay, but I must “breathe deeper”. Others had come after me and left before me, and I was having a difficult time waking up from the anesthetic. Yet before the fog lifted from me and consciousness returned, I experienced something that feels just as profound to me now as it did in that moment. It’s a little hard to describe, but I’ll attempt it and hope you can imagine how it would feel to you.

The thick cloaking presence of God was moving over and around me- I imagine like in Genesis, where it says the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. Simultaneously I heard the most masculine, deep, strong with authority, voice speaking to me saying, “Abraham believed God”. Then I woke with a start by my own cry of pain. Please, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sense of God’s spirit hovering and moving over you and hearing a deep voice speak the Word you have been studying back to you. It is a sense of sacred, of holy, and of power. I was in wonder and awe. I still am.

The Word Is Reality

I no longer would merely muse about Romans 4, and what that might look like in my life. I had a living encounter with my Lord, who using a short phrase and a foreknowing of circumstance chose to personally reveal Himself and His word to me in a deeper way. When I was conscious enough, the dentist informed me that although it had been scrupulously close to the nasal cavity, the tooth was not through it; I could continue to sing to, and about, the one I love. As an odd sort of bonus, a cyst was found on one of the teeth which would allow them to file a type of claim and reduce the cost of the surgery back to the original amount. I was given more than I thought to ask for.

Mediating on the Word sets us up for personal encounters with Him. Believing Him is our most basic need, and our glory. Years later I’m still singing, sharing how faithful He is to watch over His word to perform it, and that He is no respecter of persons. He will meet with each of us and perform His word.

Father, You are amazingly Good. We anticipate meeting you in both typical and unusual places and circumstances. The everyday life is a doorway to encountering your loving kindness. Thank you that your written words are gateways to meeting You, the living Word. Help us to honor your Word, make it alive to each of us, that we may intimately know you, and love you more.

 

No Hold On You

I became aware…

Not aware of dreaming, but of being carried by eight or more beings who walked side by side in rows of two or three, assigned to each of my appendages. 
Their appearance was, head to foot, as though they were garbed in silhouettes, even their faces seemed clothed in black; they didn’t seem to be men exactly. I heard no sounds, not even footfalls, nor felt their grasp. 
The area was already shadows but an eye mask was swiftly put over my eyes, like they had become attuned to my becoming conscious and that I was searching my surroundings. 

Then darkness and only the sense of movement, of being carried. I began to thrash, attempting to loose myself from their nexus. 
Then I simply cried loudly from my inner being, “Daddy! Daddy!”

As the whoosh of a door, I was sucked out of their midst, as if I had become intangible…then I woke. Saved. And grateful, because dream or not, it felt intensely real. 

[For it is He] Who rescued and saved us from such a perilous death, and He will still rescue and save us; in and on Him we have set our hope (our joyful and confident expectation) that He will again deliver us [from danger and destruction and draw us to Himself]...   2 Corithians 1:10

This season I’ve been focussing on greater intimacy with God as DAD. Abba, daddy.

 I’ve determined in my heart for some time now, to feel vulnerable to nothing but the goodness of God because in the past, feeling vulnerable to the inner and the outer was my greatest awareness and suffering. 

Our soul enemy desires to intimidate and make us feel vulnerable to life and to death, to feel overwhelmed and powerless, captive to the unseen and the seen. Producing fear and trauma by sidelining us through the unexpected, are a favorite M.O. 

I believe this experience/dream is really about Dad reminding He is present in all things and if we are overwhelmed in our own capacity, beyond what we presently are or feel equipped for, He hears our cries and saves us. He really does hear, He really does come through, though we may not see Him, though we may only see the enemy.

We play many roles and functions as we mature. We may get used to being toughened soldiers and taking care of business. We may even try to “fake it til we make it” but Dad remembers what we may forget-the warrior is a child; His child. He is always present and ready to help. He attends to the voice of our cry. What we believe and feel about Dad, what we believe He thinks and feels about us is our tipping point, yet He is ever faithful.

“…and they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”            Luke 4:29, 30

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”                John 10:27-30

There’s no hold on you except His. Feelings and appearances matter not, he’s a good, good father and He is mighty to save.

Communicating Spirit to Spirit

Communication is a vital part of our lives- we tend to acknowledge that most when it’s difficult. Approximately 7% of our communication is oral, the rest comes in nuances and through attributed cultural meanings. However, there is an ease of communication we find in the spirit, different from our natural spoken words.

A key about this type of communication is that it is spirit, not simply mental or psychic transference which are heard about and described more often. New age and spiritualists typically call unspoken communication telepathy or psychic.
The broad idea is a mental energy mind communication, due to a higher conscious awareness.

However, spirit to spirit communication involves more than simple mental energy or thought. It involves our whole being; we are spirits intertwined with a physical body.

Psychology has long debated the Mind-Body Problem. Are our thoughts and feelings an organic by-product, our physical brain? Or is there something beyond the brain our thoughts and behaviors are composed of-the Mind.

Mainstream psychology is based on empirical evidence. Therefore any phenomena that falls outside empirical evidence, that by which anyone could study or make observations, is an unknown and often taken up by the somewhat embarrassing relative, Parapsychology (although there are still some mainstream cognitive branches attempting to study consciousness and certain phenomenon reported more consistently).

Psychology has a long history of alternatively accepting and rejecting non-empirical data and study. Depending on the era, non-observable data has most often been sought out by occult practices and/or metaphysical studies as more discoveries are made. One thing mainstream psychology generally does not directly acknowledge or study, is Spirit.

The Church, for the most part, has acknowledged spirit, but has been deeply conservative in exploring how fearfully and wonderfully we are made, in the image of God, a spirit. Thus the possibilities available to us, being children of God, have often been avoided, stymied, or labeled demonic or new age.

Regardless of which group/s a person may identify with, spirit to spirit communication has always existed. Spiritual/mental communication is not something new or belonging solely to the spiritualists or new age type groups. It is a natural means of communication for the body of Christ. God is spirit and He speaks to our spirit.

Our mind is not separate from our spirit as some might think, who relegate this type of communication as mental, psychic or telepathic-which all are generally defined as: the ability to know another’s thoughts or to perceive by the senses.
Rather our spirit communicates through our thoughts, “mind”, “heart”. They are unified. If we were to die, our soul: mind, will, emotions, does not get left behind apart from our “spirit”. They are eternally one.

Some people may feel they hear God more in their head, in their thoughts, and others may sense they hear Him in their heart, lower within. There are many ways God communicates to us and mostly we consider this “NORMAL”.

What some find unusual is hearing God as though He were standing next to them and spoke out loud, with a physical mouth and voice, audible, so that the “physical ears” seem to have heard. We also communicate to God by our heart or thoughts, often in prayer. This too we accept as normal–the normal spiritual/christian life.
With this sense of normalcy, that God communicates to us spirit to spirit and we communicate back to Him often in our thoughts or heart–spirit to spirit–we can understand it is also normal for us to be able to communicate to one another spirit to spirit.

Here is often where people shut off or wave a red flag. Honestly consider, after what we likely just agreed on as normal between us and God, how is it so foreign to consider that we, who are made in His image, are not to communicate spirit to spirit? Heart to heart or thought to thought?

If your background is like mine–you were warned early that anything that “the others” (non-Christians or maybe even other church denominations) talked about or experienced was of the devil. Period.

There is one big problem. Almost everything supernatural would or could fit in that category! No wonder the next generations are enraptured by fantasy, Harry Potter’s world of magic, spiritual based gaming, role playing and similar spiritual interests. How did the devil get so much of the good stuff? And the power? And when did God and his people supposedly lose theirs?

We desire the unusual because we weren’t created to be mundane.

God of the bible is Awesome! Unusual! Even Strange and mystical and peculiar. Signs and wonders and the fantastical are the norm in the word and worlds of God. Yet out of fear and perhaps puritan values, we have largely settled for the mundane, given over our dominion to those who had more “faith” than we did as a collective or corporate group. We settled mostly, except for the few we’ve idolized as “special” leaders, for a form without power.

How deeply sad to abdicate or reject one’s inheritance.

Yet many in the body of Christ are beginning to recognize that there are many aspects of spirit available that we have not understood or grown up in as the body of Christ. Much of what the Father desires for us to inherit has been unrealized. The Holy Spirit is revealing the heights, depths, widths, all dimensions of who we are and what we are capable of.

In part 2, I’ll explain how I’ve come to understand communication spirit to spirit is meant to be our “normal” and give examples of this type of communicating from my own experiences (as well as another’s), such as my grocery store experience, when my young son answered my thoughts, when I was recognized spirit to spirit, when a prophetess came to my church & directly responded to my “inquiry via thoughts”, “texting” by the spirit, and more.