I have a little secret to tell you. It’s not really Wednesday right now. I mean, it might be when you’re reading this… but it’s not when I’m writing it. In fact, it’s Tuesday… and I am using the magic of television to post this on Wednesday.
After only a week of the regular posting schedule I’m already starting to look for excuses not to do it. It’s hard to blog when I don’t feel like it, or haven’t thought about it, and just don’t want to. I find that I put a lot of pressure on myself to have an epiphany for each post and there simply aren’t enough epiphanies to go around! Really, I think I’m just looking for ways to get out of doing the work, and since that’s not going to happen I’m going to keep it up… BUT… sometimes my life is going to get in the way of the schedule and this Wednesday I am so glad that it is.
So now, for your previously-recorded yet still live reading pleasure… All about brainspotting:
First off, you can decide to read what I will write about it, or you can go to the website of the guy who developed it, David Grand. Or you can watch some youtube videos he made about it that are low in production value but high in information: video part 1, part 2, part 3. If you want my version of all of this (minus the video–you’re just going to have to imagine that in your head) read on!
Brainspotting is a therapeutic technique that uses the fact that our eye movements have relationships to places in our brains where memories, feelings, and traumas exist. The combination of activating those brain centers with taking advantage of the brain’s extremely literal interpretation of the world (it doesn’t know the difference between real and pretend, past and present…) allows for focused healing of past traumas. I have had two brainspotting experiences with my new therapist so far and both have been completely different.
Like a Brainspotting Virgin…
My sessions with the therapist begin with a little bit of talking about how I am (doing/feeling/whatevering) and the first time we did brainspotting she mentioned to me that she was noticing me looking down and to the left often. She asked if I had noticed it too. I hadn’t.
She brought out an iPod with attached headphones and I put them on. She had me pick a place to stare that was in the downward, left direction I had been looking at before. The music and sounds on the iPod began and the sound experience was completely bilateral (meaning it moved from ear to ear in a rhythmic pattern). Apparently the bilateral sounds activate both sides of the brain…
Then the Brainspotting began when she started to ask me what was present. In general I got mental images that were very much related to the sounds on the headset. When the ocean sounds were present I saw an ocean scene, when the rain… I saw rain… Nothing terribly exciting here yet. As the sounds became less simply to identify as anything in particular I started to see images from my own life in the scenes. I was able to describe the scenes and characters in excruciating detail including how they felt. By the way, I’m still staring at the same spot (which was a clock on the floor) this whole time.
All of the scenes and images were from my own life, mostly childhood. Interestingly enough I couldn’t see my dad in any of them… even though they were from times when he was still alive–the therapist mentioned it was like I had completely wiped him from my subconscious. We’ll be working on that, I suppose. Eventually the mental images seemed to actually be superimposed over my field of vision. It was like I could actually see the scene projected in a grainy image on the wall and floor ahead of my vision.
And that was really it… we were just practicing. I was told that after we get more practice we will start to interact with the characters in the images and begin the process of healing past traumas by meeting the previously unmet needs of the versions of me within the scenes.
Brainspotting Take Two!
The second time we used the headset again, but this time I had my eyes closed the entire time. She guided me through some breath focused relaxation and this time her questions were about sensations, and the colors and sizes of those sensations. The more we talked about them the more they took shape… I think we jumped past just practicing when I found myself face to face with a younger version of myself telling me that she needed some of the things that I find myself craving so often now (to feel loved, to feel important, to excite and inspire people around me), and then I found myself in the unique position of knowing how to help her. In the same way I would comfort spiderman and help him feel loved, important, and dynamic… I was able to do that for her.
I also came face to face with some of my less attractive tendencies: like self-doubt… It tried to talk me into letting it stay… and I had to just send it love. That was not easy… or fun.
Finally I found myself at a place of complete relaxation. I don’t know where it came from or how, but it was amazing that as soon as I saw it and described to the therapist she was able to describe exactly what was in my mind. We both saw an old, white house on a sandy beach. I was sitting on the porch, paint peeling on the boards that had grayed from the battering of salty wind. Reedy grasses grew out of the sand right around the house and gentle waves lapped at the wet sand at the bottom of the porch steps. Inside the house the walls were lined with bookshelves… My body was completely free of any tension or activation and when our session ended she reminded me that this is a place that I can go to whenever I need to reach this fully
relaxed state again.
The further I get from the experience the harder it is to get back to the house on the sand, but I’m not letting go of it and we’ll see what else Brainspotting brings into my awareness…