The Wounds of War

Veteran Day just passed and there were discussions again about how psychologists may help with PTSD. Some people argued that only a person who has overcome this disorder him/herself would be equipped with the right tools to help others in that field.

I DISAGREE !

But I think it is necessary for a psychologist or psycho therapist to dive deeply into the topic of war itself to be able to understand a veteran.

War accompanied me my whole life long because I’m part of the generation touched by this topic through parents, grandparents and great grandparents. From a systemic point of view some members of the generations before me in a systemic way expected me to finish some of their unfinished businesses as soldiers during war times. Bert Hellinger (Systemic Family Constellation Therapy / Acknowledging what is / Movements of the Soul) said it would not be unusual for a little child to dream about unknown and scary things that have to do with war whenever the ancestors were involved in those terrible events. Dr. Mahr tells us the story about a 4-year-old girl with sleeping problems about monsters attacking her. Art therapy showed that this girl war drawing a gas mask like it was used in WWI in Verdun during the poisonous gas attacks. It turned out that two of her relatives, two generations ago were wounded April 24th 1915; she was born on April 24th 1991.

I had nightmares for over 20 years from early years on and they were always the same. I was a male soldier in an infantry troop and we were walking through a bush. We just wanted to leave the protection of the trees when suddenly there was a loud noise and we had to quickly lay down because tanks were rolling along a gravel road that was on one side framed by the bush and on the other side by open field. My first reaction was to freeze and stare at the big chains only perhaps 1 metre away from me. Then after the last tank has passed our commander yelled the order to cross the open field as quickly as we can. My heart was racing, I was sweating and I started to run. There were shells going down everywhere around me, my head was hammering and I started crying while I was running. I was praying “please let me get out of here, please help me, please”; I was so scared and then something hit me. There was so much pain and I knew I would die…. and I woke up. It always took me hours to fall asleep again. Everything was so real. I didn’t talk about it because war still put pressure on my parents. The dreams ended after a Systemic Family Constellation that allowed me to honour my ancestors for their courage to fight and give their lives for their country and asking them to let me go on with my life here and now.

My mother told me about the bomb attacks, the loud sirens interrupting her sleep sometimes several times during the night, her claustrophobic fear in the dark little air raid shelters and the consistent worries about leaving the shelter and only seeing fragments of what has been her home. Since those experiences she was a nervous wreck and it got worse with every year because the more she tried to forget about it the more it surfaced. Of course I didn’t understand it at that time. I was only wondering why my bedroom had to be darkened in addition to our blinds with duct tape.

My father refused to talk about the topic “war” but his mother, my grandma told me her traumatic story again and again: “I met your grandpa when I was working at a little bed and breakfast as a housemaid. He left a little note under the mattress and I answered it and left it there for him. A fascinating exchange of nice words started and it took two weeks till he asked me out for dinner. He had an administrative job but his passion was the piano and so he accompanied the still movies as a pianist. We only had a short carefree and happy time together because the war started and he was called up to join the infantry. We quickly married and I soon was pregnant with your father and after my husband was home during his first leave I got pregnant with your uncle. There was nobody with me when I gave birth to my sons and I always was scared that your grandpa couldn’t see his boys any more. But he came home for another leave and we spent happy days together with our children. Before he left he wrote me a poem saying that I should wait for him because he promised to come back. But he didn’t. They informed me that he was missing in Russia. Shortly after I got this terrifying message we were ordered to pack what we can carry and leave our home town because the Russian troops were coming closer and closer and where they have been they had raped women and killed the residents of whole villages. So, I said good-bye to everything I loved and filled a back pack with the most necessary items for survival. I grabbed the hands of my sons and rushed to the railway-station. There were so many people who wanted to flee from the Russians that we lost our first fight to get on the train. So we laid down among all the other people and tried to sleep because the next train would not arrive until tomorrow. I never let go of my sons’ hands because children could got lost so easily in that crowd of hundreds of people. I was praying to God all the time. The next day we caught the train out…..” After losing everything my grandma started her new life in Rosenheim (the city I was born), in a street called “New Home” No. 1. My father and my uncle had to grow up without a father and a traumatic experience they both wanted to forget. 11 years after the war my grandma found out from the Russian White Cross that her beloved husband had died in a Russian Prisoner of War Camp…..

Years later as a teenager I suddenly became very interested in everything about the Vietnam War. I didn’t know why but I researched whatever I could find about the soldiers and nurses who have been there. I cried about their stories and everything seemed so close and touching as if there was a connection to those people who lived across the ocean from me. I was angry at all the Americans at home who wouldn’t welcome the veterans as heroes who risked their lives for their country and I was angry at the US Government because they killed their own people “by mistake” and chemicals like Agent Orange. I was angry that all the doctors and nurses were forgotten who served the same courageous way as the soldiers. I was touched by the USO shows in combat zones to help the soldiers to at least get away from all the cruelty for some hours.

After all that I feel much closer to a veteran than many psychologist who only learned about therapies and their techniques theoretically.

It’s fact that nobody can erase or forget a traumatic experience and/or mortal terror but it can be released and healed so that it can be remembered without the emotional involvement that is so overwhelming and destroying.

The best therapies for PTSD are EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Systemic Constellations. They both are quick and solution oriented and can be applied gently.

Dear Veterans, I would like to encourage you to give those therapies a try and put an end to being haunted by trauma for the rest of your life! I’m proud of you!

Call for your Skype Session now! Phone 204-636-7787!

 

 

The Eastern Art of Qi Gong versus Western Exercises like Jogging, Aerobics or Zumba

Most students stop Qigong because they don’t believe they’re getting something out of it. I can hear remarks like “The movements are so slow…. Zumba is more fun and when my muscles feel sore the following days I know that I was DOING something.” (Well, did you know you can relax and build your muscles at the same time without any pain?) “I want to lose weight. How can you lose weight without doing exhausting exercises?” (Well, did you know that during one hour of Qigong  a 200 lb. person would burn around 360 calories, reports. This is approximately the same caloric expenditure as a brisk 3.5 mph walk. ) or “I want to become more flexible. Stretching must hurt. You must go right to your limits!” It seems like we’re living in the typical “No Pain, no Gain” society. People are in stress all day long and then they put additional pressure on their lives with exhausting and painful exercises.

My answer is always: “Give Qigong a chance! Do it for three months and then judge about it! Qigong is medical, watch your blood pressure, your sugar level, your balance (preventing falls in the elderly), your posture, your sleeping behaviour and your overall emotional mood and if nothing has changed after 3 months, go back to your boot camp.”

But unfortunately many don’t give Qi Gong this 3-months-chance. They quit after 1 or 2 times already.

The students who stay are all talking about miraculous changes that occur: they’re sleeping better and deeper; the atmosphere within a family systems full of tensions suddenly changes because the student is not suffering mood swings any more; medication can be reduced or cut in half because there are better blood work results; back pain disappears and posture improves.

If students are coming regularly, twice a week it costs them CAD 2.66 per day (10-session-ticket for CAD 100). A very cheap way to get rid of illness and maintain or improve health (better immune power against viruses, colds etc.).

One of the largest factors in determining stress level are emotions. With western style exercises the only emotion that can be relieved is anger. The clearing process in Qi  Gong can be used on strongly as well as on spontaneously expressed emotions. One of my student could release some grief  through crying after working on the lung meridian.

Western exercises are primarily working on the muscles, the heart and the lungs; they’re said to build strength and flexibility due to muscular contraction. But when you watch how stretching is done, with fully locked joints there’s no possibility for free energy flow any more. The goal in martial arts (Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Karate and so on) is a feeling of relaxed power with deep breathing, opening up and allowing the energy to flow through. Have you seen those little guys like Jackie Chan “fighting” a real body builder double their size by getting him exhaust himself, running and boxing into the air. Jackie swings like a bamboo in the wind saving his energy for one punch when the enemy has already run out of breath and wasted all the muscle strength for his unsuccessful efforts to beat him up. It’s extremely thrilling to watch and you can see how clear the mind is of somebody who’s doing energy work versus somebody who’s only pumping muscles leaving the brain behind. (I’m not saying that people who are lifting weights every day are not smart. I’m just saying that the combination of relaxation, deep breathing and concentration clears the monkey-mind and enables us to focus on what’s important because Qi Gong trains body AND mind.)

Even without having (had) a serious illness, almost everyone has a weakness in one of the organs. Through slow deep and regular breathing and energy movements oxygen can be worked deeper into tissues and even address organs (with specified exercises) to a point that could never be reached by western exercises.

People with poor coordination, balance, motor problems and chronic back pain can get more out of Qi Gong than out of a Chiropractic because the spinal nerve flow is not activated through manipulation of the spine but through rebuilding the whole body again.

Western exercises increase the circulation by exercising the heart while Qi Gong improves it by increasing the elasticity and strength of the blood vessels themselves.

Almost all the Qi Gong movements can be done by weak, immobile and disabled people of all ages  because they can be practised while standing, sitting or lying down. And even the simplest exercises can produce remarkable changes in posture, mental attitude, increased lung capacity and improved vitality. Therefore it’s also said to be rejuvenating. Qi Gong can be done anywhere and requires no equipment or special clothes.

Qi Gong Sessions are held at Double M Ranch every Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 pm. Call 204-636-7787 for more info or to arrange your personal one-on-one training session via Skype!

Have Fun with Qi Gong!

Qi Gong is fun and health at the same time!

Namaste!

The meaning of winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Winter wants you to find your inner peace and balance…. Slow down, relax, restore and heal!

Winter in TCM is associated with the kidneys and the bladder (water element). The kidneys are associated with the emotion of fear; fear, either as a sudden fright or a chronic state of anxiety or depression (winter depression) will weaken the Kidneys. The Kidney opens to the ear. When the Kidneys are weak, hearing may be impaired or there may be tinnitus.

Winter is on the Yin side and stands for in-activeness. When it’s very cold we can’t move that fast any more; our bodily fluids seem to act  like the oil of an engine becoming very thick and needing its time to warm up. The Kidneys generate heat and energy for the proper functioning of all the organs in the body.

When we live in harmony with nature there will be a natural urge to slow down, rest, relax, restore and revitalize during the cold and dark winter months.

Winter represents a time or reflection. We’re reviewing the cycle of the year. In spring we made our plans, in early summer we worked actively to realize them, in late summer we should have reached our goals, in fall we harvested the results….. Now we have time to see where we have to make adjustments to our new plans…. Adjustments in expectations, changes in our own thought or behaviour patterns. If the Kidneys are strong, we will be able to set goals and pursue them with persistence.

Spiritually, the kidneys control important aspects of both the ­inner and outer consciousness of a person which we should always keep in balance through exercise like Qigong.

During the winter we have to nourish our kidney energy. Chinese medicine believes that the source of our whole genetic make-up (inherited life force energy) is in our kidneys,  providing the human body with the vital substance of its being at birth. This Essence is acquired from parents, determines a person’s constitutional strength and vitality, and is supported through life with proper nutrition and lifestyle.

Interestingly all the areas governed by the Kidney system are fundamentally affected by the ageing process: reduced energy, declining hormone levels, impaired brain function, bone weakness, hearing loss, loose teeth, weakened immunity, incontinence, tissue dryness and diminishing will
power.

 So, how can we improve our kidney function naturally?

The easiest way is called QI GONG!  Qi Gong is the practice of aligning the breath, body, and mind as one. Through this, a deeper connection to yourself and life is established and greater awareness and peace is achieved. And thus it can help improve physical, mental, and emotional health, and awaken to one’s spiritual true nature. Qi Gong has a number of exercises that strengthen, nourish, and draw energy to the kidneys.

Here’s a very simple Qi Gong exercise you can do on your own at home: put your hands on your back at the base of your rib case (kidney areas), your fingers are pointing toward the Gate of Life Acupuncture Point on your spine. Inhale and slightly tilt your pelvis and bend your knees, feeling the gate opening with the curve of your vertebraes;  exhale and come up again. Repeat 7 times, imagine how white light is flowing through the opened the Gate of Life, sends its tonifying energy into your kidneys – put your hands on your lower Dantien (energy center below the navel) and take some deep breaths – repeat until you have accomplished 21 repetitions. Finish with deep breathing and gratefulness (prayer position) for your energy-charged kidneys and the wonderful work they’re doing for you.

When you’re living nearby, join my Qi Gong sessions twice a week. When you’re living far away, call or email me for Skype sessions to learn this unique art and ancient philosophy of balancing the energies in your body!

Double M Ranch – Centre for Counselling & Energy Healing

Phone: 204-636-7787     Email: doublemranch@rogers.com

Namaste Everybody!

(The definition of Namaste (pronounced na, ma, stay) is both a physical gesture and a spoken spiritual salutation which means “The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.”)