Thursday, March 24, 2011

Calming Your Bipolar Symptoms

You Can Learn to Sooth Bipolar Symptom Expression?

Improve Your Self Soothing & Self Attachment Needs?

Let Go the Distancing of Mind & Feel Your Inner Self?

Your Brain, Heart, Lungs & Nervous Systems?

'Enough, with the theories, give us some practical applications,' wrote a facebook friend.

So this post is the first of a series describing how I use the insights gained from the last five years of reading, to carry on a daily re-conditioning of my autonomic (animal) nervous system. I chose the picture of a baby to convey my belief, that my Bipolar Disorder is in fact a dis-order of autonomic nervous system function, caused primarily by birth trauma.


Alarm! the innate 'affect' - Distress?
The alarm of innate distress shown by this baby, is stimulated via the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and can create an unhealthy level of activity within that system. In my case this innate alarm was not soothed by close contact with mothers skin, warmth and heartbeat, the alarm state only subsided with exhaustion, leaving a residue of unhealthy ANS activation, a negative tone became resident within this fundamental survival system. A 'tone' manifest in heart rate, respiration rhythm and muscular tension.

For most of us this sensation of alarm (innate distress) is our first reaction to life, an evolved, instinctual response that is one of nine such hard wired responses we are born with to maximize our chances of survival. Unfortunately in my case this alarm was also mixed with another innate affect, namely fear! After a three day struggle in the birth canal I was forcefully dragged into the world with metal forceps that left me so badly scared and distressed I was whisked away and had no contact with my mother for a week.

Here was the genesis of a dis-ordered nervous system response to life, of habitual avoidance with a sense of threat remaining insidiously active deep within my nervous system. Distress/Fear has been the unconscious background 'vagal tone' that energized, firstly my autonomic motor movements with a hesitation, a reluctance, an inexplicable avoidance and secondly a negative tone of worry & concern in my overactive thinking patterns.

Imagine distress/fear combining as a 'tone', a frequency of neural oscillation & heart beats. A tone that also manifests as 'tensions' within the heart, lungs and skeletal musculature.

Individuals with anxiety disorders and depression
have compromised social behavior; difficulties in regulating
the heart rate, as reflected in measures of vagal
control of the heart; and reduced facial expressiveness.
University of Illinois at Chicago


Lay down on your tummy like the lady here, sinking down into the bed or floor as much as you can. It is important you try to feel as much of the fabric beneath you as possible, Try to feel your internal organs dropping or pressing down against the fabric texture.
Now feel the area of your heart, feel the muscular tension there in your chest. As you make contact with body sensations notice any tingling in your toes & finger tips. Try to feel and not think, let go & sink deeper into your body, falling down, way down. As you let go of tensions in this area of your chest relax any tensions in your face.

Focus awareness on your chest, the area around your heart, let go and sink down, letting go any tension around your mouth, your jaw and in your tongue. If you can focus on sensing your heart and the muscles in your chest, you should notice an involuntary deepening of your breath. Notice the increased awareness of feedback sensations from your limbs, your fingers and toes.

As you continue to feel your heart, letting go of muscular tensions, notice any slowing & deepening of your breath. Notice any further relaxing of regions of your body where contact has been outside your awareness. You should notice an increased awareness of your limbs and your posterior, with the sphincter muscle of your anus letting go of autonomic constriction there.

Notice the temptation to escape body sensations and return to a thought based energy discharge, while you're trying to feel your body. Practice for a few minutes the sensations of coming into relaxed body states, and the habitual flight into mind of an unconscious, autonomic response, your comfort zone. This gradual experiencing of unconscious defense, the tensions, the habitual thinking, will bring you into contact with your autonomic nervous system's response, caused by innate affect stimulating the vagal tone of your heart.

On first introduction to this approach, try for a few minutes each day to get a feel for the difference between your habitual autonomic nervous system tensions, and the more relaxed heart tones possible through thoughtless relaxation? As you go about your daily routine try to spend a few seconds now and then, relaxing every muscle you can feel within your face. Relax any tension in your jaw, around your eyes and let your tongue lie relaxed in your mouth, your lips allowed to part as you inhale with relaxed chest muscles. Feel the feedback signals from your muscles that have maintained this autonomic activity below your conscious awareness.

Its important to visualize the underlaying activity in your brain & nervous system, stimulating the sensations you experience during these exercises. Electrochemical activity that cannot be sensed by the objective thinking we use to describe the external world. Here it is wiser to feel yourself, not think yourself.
The sympathetic & parasympathateic nervous systems are like two rivers of neurochemical activity, the sympathetic flowing UP & OUT while the counteracting parasympathetic flows DOWN & IN. These are the mediators of manic excitement and depressive collapse.

These heart tone and muscle tension awareness exercises will bring you an awareness of the systems of your brain/body with its instantaneous interactions and reduce the confusion of 'objective,' linear cause and effect thinking.

Neuroception?-An Unconscious Perception?