Rescuing vs Supporting

As I was reading this post on the difference between rescuing and supporting this morning, I began to reflect on my journey to learning this valuable distinction.

When I first I got exposed to this concept, I took it to an extreme interpretation. I took it to mean that I must look after myself before I do anything for others. Or by helping them in a way they haven’t asked for, I’m rescuing them and taking away their opportunity to grow while spreading myself too thin.

Through my Buddhist practice embedded with life challenges over the last few years, I’ve learnt that this learning is a lifelong journey of the eternal truth of life. It is about how I always learn to find the “Middle Way”.

Continue reading “Rescuing vs Supporting”

Healing Complex PTSD via Buddhism – Part 1

Today I went to attend a conference called “Trauma, Neuroscience and the Evolving Therapy of Traumatised Children and Adults” by Dr Bessel van der Kolk.

In 2017, when I had left my job and was unemployed and suffering from what felt like PTSD from my last job, I wandered into a book store and picked up his book called The Body Keeps the Score. The mystic law works mystically indeed.

Over the next month, when I was on a detox in India. I read this book, almost studied it. It was as though someone captured my life experience and told me what was happening to me in my brain and body. I could let go of any guilt and shame of my life and take control of my life. I could assert my needs and ask for what I needed. I could stop blaming me for everything I did or did not do. I gave myself permission to look after myself.

I would describe it as a pivotal turning point in my whole life. In Mar’18, my doctor mentioned, his wife a yoga teacher attended Dr Kolk’s conference in Sydney. I felt like I missed an opportunity. I wanted to attend it. When the registrations opened in Oct 2018, I jumped at the opportunity.

It is truly my good fortune that I live in Australia and even have access to these opportunities. It is clearly meant for mental health professionals, but anyone can sign up and go to it. Could you imagine that kind of equality mirrored in society anywhere else? After my citizenship test study, it is particularly telling how equality manifests in many ways in Australia.

Last week, I started chanting with the determination to somehow be able to have a dialogue with Dr Kolk and tell him about my practice and how it has provided so many elements to healing that his research has uncovered. I also started chanting to expand kosen rufu and somehow connect the people present to the Buddhist practice and for their happiness.

Today was a fabulous day in this endeavour. I woke up early in the morning and chanted for an hour, dressed in a bright green, picked up breakfast and got to the conference. I further cemented my understanding of the content, my whole day full of “aha!” moments and notes of how my practice helps overcome c-PTSD.

In addition, I gathered the courage to talk to the person sitting next to me, a young psychologist who helps children and old people in the community deal with difficult circumstances and trauma. I gave her an old Indigo magazine I happened to be carrying with me, a print of The Winning Life that I managed to get from Officeworks next door in the lunch time.

I walked up to Dr Kolk twice, thanked him for his work and talked about how my Buddhist practice helps me. I gave him a print-out of The Winning Life too. He humbly accepted my material and promised to read it. He recognised that his work does not even begin to talk about how to deal with this problem when you’re not living the privileged life in Sydney for example but instead are in a village in India.

He is a brilliant man and a wonderful human being. He even recognised my accent as being from the state I come from in India. Nifty tricks up his sleeve, nobody has ever been able to tell that before! 😀

I still continue to fight my negativity. I berate myself that I should not have taken up too much of his time when he reminded me that he has a long queue and I wrapped up my conversation. I continue to battle my self-loathing and self-hatred. I realised that voice may not be going away for a while but I can create value in whatever way right now. I did my best based on prayer today and will do so again tomorrow.

Rinse and repeat.

After the conference, I met with a professional acquaintance who had been curious about the Buddhist practice. I was talking to her about work and struggling to talk about the practice. Suddenly out of nowhere, a Buddhist leader appeared and said hi to me. The same person who gave me guidance in January. I hugged him and my friend asked me who it was. I started to explain he was the leader from my Buddhist practice and how he helped me and went into my struggles for the last few years. This changed the tone of the whole conversation and led to me giving her a printed copy of The Winning Life too and inviting her to the meeting next month.

I feel like today I won in Kosen Rufu and in life.

The fight continues, and there is more and more joy everyday!

Here are some key learnings from the conference for me – warning, this is long, and I will write further sequels to these notes for reference!

Background
PTSD patients say this, "I have become a monster. I blow up all the time." PTSD was earlier thought to be a memory diagnosis. However, Trauma changed my brain in a way that I could not be alive in the present moment. It is very hard for me to feel alive, engaged and connected in the present moment. Conventional psychotherapy and treatments is "stupid", people just get treated on the basis of beliefs rather than outcomes, it just does not work. The USA DSM put down diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses which were essentially clusters of symptoms grouped together into "conditions". It was put together for the purposes of figuring out which drugs to prescribe for what, with the caveat to never use it for forensic or insurance purposes. Of course, this was forgotten. Professionals became terrible diagnosticians, diagnosing based on how they would get paid.

Currently psychiatrists are not even allowed to use "Complex PTSD" in their terminology or diagnosis or they can't get the insurance claims or prescribe medications when needed. This is the limitation of the public health system in Australia and insurance system in the US.

In Nov 2018, the largest ever PTSD study costing $4 million found that the best drug performed the same as placebo. Nobody got better. It found that "PTSD is untreatable". What this means - do things that are not drugs, and are not talking on a couch
Continue reading “Healing Complex PTSD via Buddhism – Part 1”

Creating Hope and Light for Myself

Reading my friend’s post today got me to study and reflect on my conviction and what it means to be the light and create hope in my life and in the life of those around me.

President Ikeda says,

“There may be times when, confronted by cruel reality, we verge on losing all hope. If we cannot feel hope, it is time to create some. We can do this by digging deeper within, searching for even a small glimmer of light, for the possibility of a way to begin to break through the impasse before us.”

and

“I believe the ultimate tragedy in life is not physical death. Rather it is the spiritual death of losing hope, giving up our own possibilities for growth.”

– Hope is a Decision, Pages 5-6

Intellectually, I can understand this. In some of my darkest times, I know this is what I need to do. Before I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I had never known this light of hope inside of me. But even now, it doesn’t come about by default. It is far more natural for me to fall into despair than rise into hope.

I question then, how much I create hope for myself? What is the method that continuously works and that I can repeatedly trust and rely on? Is there a winning formula for me to create hope that works by default when I am deadlocked and paralysed with fear and anxiety?

The last few months have helped me unpack some of the variables that go into a winning formula for my life.

Continue reading “Creating Hope and Light for Myself”

Creativity fueled by determination

Yesterday morning, my friend chanted with me in alliance from Melbourne. I felt so exhausted that I was 40 minutes late to the one hour long session. Without begrudging or berating me, she chanted and I could feel her daimoku lifting me out and bringing me in front of the Gohonzon to chant. I feel deep gratitude for her support and daimoku. Her kind gesture reminded me that I could extend this same kindness to others.

First I started with looking for other members I could chant in the morning with. People were ok to chant, but I felt something was lacking. I reached out to my cousin Diya in Florida that I introduced to the practice a few years ago, who has been undergoing deep struggle and hasn’t been able to really get into chanting. With time zones offering a short common time slot, I offered her to chant with her in alliance. Meanwhile I also realised I had another person I could ask in California, my sister’s close friend – Swarn.

This morning I chanted while Swarn was on the other end of a phone call for half an hour. She probably listened to Gongyo for the first time. She was so open and embracing. Chanting with her was a real joy.

Diya couldn’t join in until much later and I missed her message. I continued to send her my daimoku and gratitude and I hope we can break through it tomorrow!

I realised that I wasn’t supporting them by asking to chant with them. They were supporting me. It was the only reason for me to get out of bed at 6.30 am! For the last few weeks, I had a prayer to be able to chant with another member everyday and now I find a creative way to accomplish this feat! Yay!!!

Continue reading “Creativity fueled by determination”