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Reawakening the Frozen Body: How to Address Traumatic Memories

The following piece was written to summarize some of the experiences I've encountered in providing ten years of one-on-one buddhist mentoring, as well as to pay homage to the wisdom found in the works of Bessel A. van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score, Joseph LeDoux's The Emotional Brain, Peter A. Levine's Waking the Tiger and other classic texts on trauma and its healing.
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Let's suppose a situation occurs during which you feel threatened by an aggressive individual or animal...but you feel confident enough in your strength to overcome whatever danger they represent. In such a case you may well go into fight response: your sympathetic nervous system will activate excitatory, stress-response hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which in turn will create emotional and physiological conditions allowing--even impelling--you to fight off the attack. You'll start to gulp air, your heart will pump blood, which will be diverted to your limbs, while shutting off…

Integrating the Head with the Heart

Integrating The Head With The Heart
Summary of Insights Winter 2016 - Josh Korda


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I’m an empowered Buddhist dharma teacher, which means I spend a lot of time addressing groups of students, in the course of annual retreats and two or three weekly classes around Manhattan and Brooklyn; however, the focal point of my life’s work involves providing one-on-one spiritual and psychological mentoring to individuals. What’s of central importance to my interpersonal work is emotion integration, by which I mean the practice of bringing one’s underlying, spontaneous, instinctive feeling states into ongoing conscious attention and decision making. Now, you may well wonder, why would anyone need help perceiving or assimilating emotions? Aren’t they readily apparent? However, I’ve found, over the course of working in depth with hundreds of individuals, that many of us live at estranged distances from our authentic feelings, depending on strategies of denial, numbing, and other repressive tools to main…

Being of Two Minds

We all live in two different worlds at the same time—no, not fantasy and reality, or thought and experience, but rather the differing perspectives provided by the bilateral—left and right hemispheric—brain. This division is useful to understand if we want to appreciate our emotional activations, not to mention the often mysterious ways in which we operate.
Even 2,500 years ago The Buddha was well aware of the composite nature of the mind, suggesting that meditation is best served when experience is broken down into components (note the satipatthana sutta):

1) rupa, basic body sensations, 
2) vedana, underlying, largely somatic states of comfort and discomfort, gut feelings, 
and the two higher cognitive realms of
3) citta—the mind's higher, non-verbal processes, such as emotional activations and the quality of attention;
4) dhammas, the realm ofthought based mental content. 
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So let's review the research of Roger Sperry and his colleague Michael Gazzaniga*, performed at Caltech in t…