“Can You Imagine?” and “What If?”
Imagine traveling through the mountains, valleys and rivers of your country to survey the landscape, making sure that the air is clean, the trees and other plants are growing, animals and humans are thriving and that the waters are flowing with clean and abundant water.
Would that be a job you’d like to do? It seems challenging and filled with adventure and activity. It seems that you would need an awesome command center and a reporting system. Perhaps, you would need a network of teams available continually to bring the systems into a healthy mode. And the part that would provide job security for you, is that once you finished your tour, you’d need to start it all over again.
Now, imagine that all systems in the environment are flowing and growing as needed to sustain each other, except one. You see the gnarled mess of growth at the mouth of a river as it enters the ocean and your heart stops, your anxiety goes up, and you can picture the help that is needed to get that cleaned up and flowing well. On the other hand, you know that you’ve received messages from this state, that have signaled you to leave their problems alone. If you interfere, they have threatened your life. Fear fills your heart and your body reeks with pain. It doesn’t make sense. You can’t control it, so you decide to covertly try to help this area out without “the messengers” knowing. You ask the residents to chip in and help to improve the problem and you even send resources for them to use. They do their best, but the problem persists and seems to get progressively worst over the years.
As years go by, you come to that same area, repeatedly. The area floods. The ecosystem has changed, and the once rich soil is now depleted. The fish are dwindling. Other members in the society have moved into the hills of the region and opened plants to help the region repopulate, but without fixing the original problem, things get worst since the plants spill toxins into the soil and water. And the story goes on from year to year. This once beautiful area sags and hobbles on. The traumatic event that started long ago, lives on deep beneath the surface.
Your once fun and challenging job has now been overshadowed by this massive fault. Instead of feeling proud of what you do, you hang your head, you’re unable to sleep, your neck and shoulders are in constant pain, and you look like you have the weight of the world on your back.
Your happy, carefree nature has turned into one of aggression and fear. You simply want this job to end. But you can’t. You have been responsible for so many positive outcomes and so, your job is secure. You will be doing this forever! Each time you make your rotation, you speed through the other parts of the country, and when you come to this area of gnarled, polluted isolation, you stop and cry. This depression and anguish reflect on the rest of your travels, increasingly with each rotation.
Does this sound like something you’ve heard about? I see you nodding your head.
Well, now internalize this whole process. Your “job” is your brain’s job. It scans your entire system, mind, body, and spirit constantly. Keeping you happy and healthy is its priority. Then, a dark force enters your life, a trauma of some kind. (the death of a loved one, a sexual or other type of physical abuse, extreme poverty, war, divorce…). This is an incident that you can neither control nor understand. It is a huge trauma for you. Your brain continues its job of scanning your system, except now, when it gets to that trauma point, it circles and tries to examine, understand, and heal it. It is unable to complete that task, even when it delegates other parts of your body, spirit, and mind. A person in this situation may bring in a protective image in her brain and associate it with her back muscles. This is her “shell,” a protective part to keep her safe. Or she may enlist an angry monster who resides inside her hands, who will dish out punishment to those who hurt her in some magical way. She may develop an imaginary curtain or waterfall between herself and others to protect her feelings and her spirit. These parts have good intentions, but they are not enough. While the trauma is real in her life, she continues to use these coping mechanisms. She is inhibited because the origin of the trauma is unresponsive to her coping attempts and unwilling to change. They only give her temporary respite. She continually tries to enlist these coping parts to protect her during the trauma. They have important survival jobs, so when the trauma ends, the mechanisms stay to protect her forever.
Notice all the positive intentions.
At some point in her life, she will feel exhausted. Her body, mind and spirit are using a lot of energy to help protect her. She will know deep inside that she has a broken part and that it has not healed. In fact, those protective mechanisms, may have made it worse. (Like the people in the village who moved up to the hills and opened the plants to revive the community, and eventually spilling toxins) Now, her ‘shell’, back, neck and shoulders hurt constantly. She notices arthritis in his hands, even though she may not remember the angry monster that she pretended to use her hands to create. And that waterfall or curtain between herself and others has kept her relationships distant and impersonal. What started out as protection, has turned into physical and emotional pain; a spirit closed to healing.
Oh, you think, now we’re in the land of “What If’s.” Yes, let’s entertain that concept for a few minutes. What if we could travel to the subcortex of the person that holds this pain and trauma. If we could reach it with our ocular system, our eyes, could we heal it? (Similar to a miracle in the story of the toxic village when we could go back in time and make repairs). “Well, this isn’t a Christmas story where the Grinch goes back in time and fixes all his mistakes and the village lives happily ever after,” you’re thinking. I understand your cynicism. Believe me, I felt the same way. I would not be writing about this if I hadn’t experienced it, watched it, and read about it from professionals in mental health, along with 42 hours of training, several professional consultations, and 50 practicum sessions in this method of healing.
Do you know that your brain is a magnificent organ! Our brains contain about 100 billion neurons, which are connected through 100,000 miles of axons. Within that, there are from 100 trillion up to 1 quadrillion synaptic connections. I would say that is quite a miracle, with plenty of “What if” and “Can you imagine?”endless possibilities. Your brain has healing power and “Where you look, affects how your feel.*” *David Grand, “Brainspotting”
Welcome to the world of brainspotting. Here we, Brainspotters, can guide you, by using the eyes, finding a spot, and letting the subcortex heal. Your “monkey brain” (neocortex) that thinks it has all the answers and normally fixes and corrects things is not involved or invited to the party. Your subcortical brain oversees healing and it does an amazing job.
To learn more about brainspotting, pick up David Grand’s book, “Brainspotting.”