Monthly Archives: November 2013

Native American Traditions… key to helping modern day warriors…Film looks at Native American traditions and PTSD…

 

“Wind Song”  the healing music of Native Americans  click to view and listen..

 
 

 Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

 

 

Native American traditions and PTSD…  Quote from this website article…

 

BY ELAINE BASSIER

ELKO DAILY FREE PRESS

ELKO, Nev. — Native American traditions may be the key to helping modern-day veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Taki Telonidis, the producer for the Western Folklife Center’s media office in Salt Lake City, has been working on a documentary called “Healing the Warrior’s Heart” that explores the ways some Native American tribes treat their veterans when they return from war.
Telonidis said around two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some come home fine, others have life-changing injuries and “many are coming home with invisible drama,” or PTSD.
Some tribes refer to PTSD as a wounding of the soul, Telonidis said. Part of the veteran’s spirit is still on the battlefield, and he said the tribes have traditions that can heal his or her heart.
“What they’re trying to do is bring their spirit home,” Telonidis told the Elko Daily Free Press (http://bit.ly/1enSiX4).

 
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I remember clearly from childhood history studies in school how Native Americans participated in the very first Thanksgiving in America.   Along with Thanksgiving, November is also a good month to celebrate and honor Native American Heritage.  We have much to learn from the American Indian traditions, especially in alternative treatment strategies focused on healing the warriors wounded soul.  Native Americans believe that the warrior leaves part of his spirit on the battlefield after returning home.  A new documentary film mentioned in this posting called “Healing the Warrior’s Heart” explores the ways some Native American tribes treat their veterans when they return from war.  The mindfulness and human connectedness or spiritual techniques are becoming popular and are supported by the Veterans Administration.  Alternative treatment strategies for PTSD have been very much a focus of my own journey of healing and in the research for writing my book.  My on-going work in helping others through writing this blog, book signing and speaking events continues to be a critical work in progress to help keep my feet on the ground.  There is no quick fix to life after trauma, and it appears that the Native American traditions offer we survivors much hope in achieving a healthy, productive, and happy quality of life.  While we can celebrate as trauma survivors, it is equally important to thrive during the extended healing process… 
 
Steve Sparks
Author
 
 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/28/3785299/film-looks-at-native-american.html#storylink=cpy

Happy Thanksgiving…indeed! “Holidays and the 18% PTSD Danger Zone.”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

The spiritual beauty of “Sparks Lake” near Bend, Oregon

Holidays…a trigger for PTSD survivors…  Quote from this website article…

PTSD Spirituality: Holidays and the 18% PTSD Danger Zone

by DR. Z on NOVEMBER 6, 2011
“Holidays and family get-togethers can often be PTSD triggers.  We notice two broad categories of triggers.  On the one hand, PTSD Triggers can be uniquely individual, based on the trauma that caused the PTSD to begin with.  On the other hand, there is the PTSD danger zone that occupies 18% of each year.  This zone seems to apply to most people with PTSD, regardless of how they were actually afflicted with PTSD.  That danger zone extends from November 11th to the second week of the following January.”
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I used to hate holidays, especially Christmas!  Sad to say, but true.  I don’t feel this way anymore, especially since finding a path to heal and thrive as a survivor in life after trauma.  By taking the big step of researching, and writing my book, along with the ongoing work of helping others who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD and moral injury, I now look forward to the holiday season with joy, thanks, and the blessings of good health, family and friends…  Peace of mind is a huge gift in life.  It is never too late to embark on a journey of healing.  The best part is empathizing with my loved ones, who enjoy the holidays much more these days.  For so many years it was virtually impossible for me to see how my own anxiety and depression affected family members too…  Beginning the journey of thriving as a survivor sooner rather than later is a win, win, win.  Try taking a small step by being open to the kindness of others or helping someone else in need.
Best wishes for a most happy Thanksgiving and joyful holiday season…
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…
 
 

How does Noetic Science help mental health research? We already know there is a consciousness and spiritual connection to the symptoms of PTSD…”Soul Repair…”

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Noetic Science…evolution of consciousness in service to humanity and our planet!

Institute of Noetic Science…




Robert Gass

Noetic Science…Healing PTSD through Mediation…

“Leader as Healer and Agent of Transformation” with Robert Gass

Visionary: Robert Gass

 
A committed social change agent, Robert Gass has served as consultant/shaman to numerous organizations, including General Motors, Chase Bank, Greenpeace, and MoveOn.org, and taught heartful living and personal effectiveness at such centers such as Omega, Esalen, and the U.N. Peace University. Also a  musician, Robert has released over 20 uplifting albums, including the best-selling Om Namah. With host and former IONS president James O’Dea, he shares stories of his own personal and professional challenges and triumphs and the value of meditation and the application of noetic principles to shifting difficult situations from hopeless to life-affirming.
                                                                                  
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Lately, I have been looking deeper into the spiritual and consciousness realities of PTSD & Moral Injury.  We are really trying to connect the dots to find more effective alternative treatments to helping trauma victims embark on a journey of healing.  The more we learn and experience while looking deeper into human spiritual realities, we become mindful of effective ways to treat victims in life after trauma. 

My creative side is really working overtime while visiting Mexico the past few weeks, including a recent post discussing the “awakening” function of our brain and the value of further awareness of human spirituality adds to our knowledge of healing strategies…”the seat of our soul.”

Please take some quality time to join me on this journey of looking deeper into our minds for solutions to the tragic consequences of life after trauma.  The more we learn and expand awareness, we get closer to the most effective strategies for treatment.  In learning about Noetic Science you will see how meditation is clearly connected and reinforces treatment strategies that help survivors with mindfulness techniques that help us focus on living in the moment…  The healing effect of Yoga is one early example of Noetic Science at work treating PTSD and moral injury…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order… 

Brené Brown: “The power of vulnerability…” The willingness to take a risk…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

A TED talk by Brene Brown… Click to view this powerful video clip… Vulnerability is a huge asset!




Brene’ Brown

Brené Brown, is a research professor, at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness.
She poses the questions: How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
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“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. ” (Brené Brown)… click for video clip…

I resisted being vulnerable on a personal level for most of my adult life until the prime age of 64.  While kicking and screaming, I finally gave in, completely!  In this very long and painful journey “risk taking” as a mask for being vulnerable was okay, however, on a professional level.  I believed that failing on the job at least once and trying again was the secret to being a successful change agent during my career in IT sales and marketing…  I paid a big price for being less than vulnerable at home away from work.  In my family, as a post WWII military child, we were taught to “suck it up.”  Toughness was critical to survival growing up in the “too terrible to remember 50’s.”  Outside of home it was difficult to build relationships because of the outwardly tough acting exterior.  Who wants to be around someone who doesn’t cry or has a hard time hugging and trusting others…and is angry more often than not?  To really engage in healthy ways with others, you must take a risk and be vulnerable on a personal level, not just at work.  When we achieve a good balance both at work and on a personal level without the shame of being exposed, the result is so much more fulfilling.  It is especially critical to be exceptionally vulnerable once leaving a long career and starting a new life in retirement, “The 3rd Act.”  As an aging boomer and a survivor, thriving is the centerpiece of maintaining an optimum creative mindset while being open to change and being an empathetic and compassionate human being.  I no longer resist being vulnerable both on a professional and personal level.  It is never too late to change if you embrace vulnerability…

Brene’ Brown brings tons of wisdom and truth with a humorous style while teaching us the value of being a healthy and vulnerable human being…  I am grateful for having listened to Ms. Brown’s TED talk and love sharing it with all my friends and family…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…
  

Suicide, violence, and mental health…a much larger problem than military sector and life after trauma…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Gus Deeds took a semester off from college at William & Mary to work on his dad’s campaign for governor in 2009. He reportedly assaulted his father Tuesday morning and then shot himself dead.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/virginia-state-senator-creigh-deeds-critical-condition-stabbing-article-1.1521697#ixzz2lCcIZ0nK

A shortage of psychiatric beds can be lethal…  Quote from this website article & video clip…click.

“Rare or not, it’s an issue Virginia has struggled with before. In 2011, Virginia inspector general G. Douglas Bevelacqua released a report chastising the state for turning away in a month an estimated 200 patients determined to be a threat to themselves or others who met the criteria for a temporary detention, only because state facilities lacked the room to hold them. Twenty-three of Virginia’s 40 community-services boards acknowledged that “streeting” occurred at their facilities.”
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In light of my post yesterday, “When all hope is lost,” sharing this story of the stabbing of Virginia State Senator, Creigh Deeds, by his son, who then took his own life, shows that we must do more to help mental health patients.  If you can’t see an open wound or recognize the immediate need for life threatening urgent care, hospitals often take a risk and turn away a mentally ill person who threatens himself and others…  In the case of Creigh Deeds’ son, Gus, this is exactly what happened.  What can we do differently?  I wish we could find the right answer…  Is mental health care in America “luck of the draw?”

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

When all hope is lost…the ultimate and painful act of suicide…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

Daniel Somers at his graduation from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., in June 2006.Courtesy of Howard and Jean Somers

Losing a veteran son to a broken system…  Quote from this heartbreaking website article written by Howard & Jean Somers…

“His physical symptoms included acute and chronic pain from fibromyalgia, which was so “grinding” that at times he could barely move; chronic fatigue so severe that “just holding my head upright requires more effort that I can bear”; excruciating headaches that could “easily be enough to strike an entire day from my calendar”; and an extreme case of irritable bowel syndrome that “literally controlled my schedule.” He was so embarrassed by these medical issues that we did not know until after his death that the hugs we gave him for comfort actually hurt him physically.”

Is suicide the ultimate selfish act?  Quote from this website…

“Today, suicide has become an alternative choice for relief of ones pain and suffering. It is trendy for the youth as well as the old to use some form of suicide to exit this life. For someone to even consider this means of losing their life it usually means they have lost all hope, it is the last resort. When one has no hope does not know God or have faith, suicide becomes one of the greatest acts of selfishness. For by doing this the individual fulfills his own desires and his own will, ignoring the catastrophic effects it has on others. One is so depressed and engrossed in there own hopelessness that they are not aware of how it affects there loved ones. So it is an end to suffering for themselves but for others it is only beginning.”
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I know what it feels like to lose all hope at times in my life, but it was never serious enough for me to take my own life.  The thoughts of suicide were apparent way back in 1965 when a US Navy team of mental health professionals concluded that my acutely depressed condition and diagnosis was a risk.  I was lucky to be in such excellent care at that time.  By allowing me to return home two years early from active duty and move on with my life, it may have saved my life at that time.  But the reality is that we never know what the ultimate trigger to commit suicide might be.  I continued my life and survived and thrived for decades before really understanding my own PTSD condition.  Hiding the invisible pain from others is often an act or cover-up because showing weakness is so embarrassing for anyone suffering from severe anxiety and depression.  Survivors who thrive often pretend each and every day that they are just fine around others.  If lucky, we become completely absorbed during waking hours in the work and play we love.  We take our anxiety and depression off the table for at least 18 hours a day, and sleep little most nights.  But eventually, and in my case, all of the baggage catches up to mind and body once free of the rigors and discipline of professional life, including the chronological challenges of aging…  

To continue surviving and thriving, the aging person suffering from past traumatic events with the symptoms of PTSD, must find a new way forward.  But the new path becomes a journey of healing rather than a mask of denial and deception.  Otherwise, the loss of hope creeps back in along with thoughts of suicide.  Also apparent in my own recovery was to be lucky enough to have a life partner and spouse who is highly sensitive and caring.  Keeping hope alive is a work in progress for survivors.  We thrive mostly because of loved ones and those close to us who care.  We thrive because we are no longer embarrassed or in denial.  We thrive because we are mindful of the critical importance of human connectedness.  Some of us are lucky enough to have outward personalities that keep our minds and bodies engaged to live in the moment.  I believe most of us are blessed if we survive the emotional baggage that hangs on for a lifetime following severe traumatic events.  

I cannot put myself in the  place of a person who is finally resolved to commit suicide and takes his/her life in that instant.   Although suicide is clearly part of the human condition, we do understand the model of survival and a way forward to thrive.  All we can do is try and create the favorable conditions to mitigate the risk of suicide in those who suffer the most.  Quoting Howard and Jean Somers…  “On behalf of every American who, like Daniel, put on a uniform and served our country, we must do better.”  Awareness and engaging others are the first steps to embarking on the journey of healing.  I commend the Somers for their willingness and passion to speak out about the suicide circumstances of  their loving son, Daniel Somers…a US Army National Guard veteran who served America with honor and pride… 

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

The Captivating and Healing Sunset of Puerto Vallarta … Gateway to Heaven’s Spiritual Awakening!

A Powerful Puerto Vallarta Sunset on November 15, 2013

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! 

Stimulating the Pineal Gland…the Transcendental Gateway…

“Your pineal gland could be a doorway to a higher state of consciousness. This does not mean that the physical you goes anywhere, but rather, the higher you is realized by a spiritual experience where your pineal gland is awakened.

A pineal gland that is “full of light” is representative of an extraordinary spiritual experience, where we transcend consciousness on the physical plane and merge with God on the spiritual plane. The pineal gland has more to do with the seat of the soul and consciousness than the actual brain, and thus, this type of experience with the pineal gland could expand your consciousness.
It is an interesting coincidence that the Biblical Jacob saw God face to face on the island of Pe-ni-el and his life was preserved.”
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Each time we return to Puerto Vallarta and the Hotel Villa Del Palmar Flamingos, I have been trying to figure out why this was the place that inspired me the most to write my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  The idea of writing came to me months earlier, but it wasn’t until we came to this beautiful and spiritual place that something unexplainable happened to me.  It was almost as if the words were coming from someone else speaking to me while typing in phrases on my laptop keyboard.  My guess is my fingers were working overtime at near 100 wpm.  I was trained on a teletypewriter 2A keyboard early in my career in telecommunications, so know that this speed was possible even now.  With every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph I felt relieved of emotional baggage held in queue for decades. 

My journey of healing started right here over two years ago in the Spring of 2011.  It has been two years this month since my book was published and my life since then has been completely transformed.  The pain and knot in my stomach has been gone for over two years now, and has not returned.  My outbursts of anger over small stuff is now in the past. I hold on dearly to some anxiety because it keeps me on my toes.  Hyper vigilance can be an advantage in maximizing creative energy.  I have become mindful of living each and every day in the moment.  I am a much better friend and spouse to my loving wife Judy.  I feel much more at ease in going with the flow with my kids and family in general.  My close friendships are far more meaningful as well.  I am engaged in community service making a difference for children and families through my work with Neighbors for Kids.  It is still a work in progress, however.  Staying happy and grounded requires focus and much awareness…a journey of healing…
And now there may be in part a biological explanation for all of us to know more about, the pineal gland, possibly the “seat of the soul” or the “3rd eye” that helps we humans maximize spirituality, consciousness, and creativity.  I can tell you this for sure…the stunning sunset pictured above just before dark this last week stopped us in our tracks for several minutes.  We watched and took pictures in awe as the light became brighter and brighter in the distance reflecting off the clouds on the horizon.  It was at that moment that my own consciousness felt elevated…awakened again to the beauty of this paradise where we are meeting face to face with our own spirituality… 
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…
 
 
 
 

Honor Native American Warriors and Families during Native American Heritage Month of November…

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author

First Warrior Project

Native Americans have served in the military more than any other group.”

Native American Heritage Month…

We can learn much from Native American traditions…  click for a previous post on this blog…

 
 
The Native American traditions have played a significant role in helping America understand the value of alternative treatments strategies for PTSD.  I have written often in this blog and discussed during speaking events about the way the American Indian cares for warriors in life after war.  The tribal nature of Native Americans is a big advantage since warriors return home to small villages with traditions that heal invisible wounds.  The community takes immediate responsibility by surrounding the warrior with loving care and treatments focused on human connectedness and spirituality.  Native Americans have always taken the approach of “soul repair” that is now a strong emphasis for returning combat veterans from the 21st Century battlefield.
 
America owes so much to our “first warrior” and honors Native Americans all over America each and every day of the year, especially during the month of November…Native American Heritage Month…  Visit America’s tribal communities to appreciate Native American heritage,  patriotism and service for the greater good!
 
Steve Sparks
Author

“SERVICE: When Women Come Marching Home” is one of the most important films of our time!

This inspiring documentary is about women warriors in their most fierce and intimate battle to overcome visible and invisible wounds … a must see!” Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Director, WA State Dept of VA



Service: When Women Come Marching Home…  Click to view this powerful film…

 
 
 “Service: When Women Come Marching Home is a portrait of the courage of several women veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian lives. Having experienced horrific traumas, the women are challenged with both physical and mental injuries, and difficulties in receiving benefits and care.  From the deserts of Afghanistan to rural Tennessee, from Iraq to New York City, these women wrestle with prosthetics, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Military Sexual Trauma. Their pictures and videos shot in Iraq and Afghanistan speak volumes. Told through their voices during everyday life in kitchens, grocery stores and even therapy sessions, the documentary is a wake-up call to the unknowing civilian population to the challenges female veterans face returning from duty.”
 
 
 Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you!  Steve Sparks, Author

What does the JFK assassination teach us about the public’s apparent perception of denial of PTSD & moral injury?

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! 

Cognitive Dissonance is a term used by social psychologists to describe the feelings of discomfort one feels when confronted with information that is in conflict with one’s world view or paradigm.

Is cognitive dissonance at the root of PTSD denial…  Quote from this website article…

Cognitive Dissonance is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is real, if you don’t believe me simply raise either topic in a public forum and sit back and observe the anger that is most often the result. The concept is, that our World View is akin to a psychological defense system and when events or concepts disagree with that view, we often feel as though our fundamental belief’s are being attacked, such as who assassinated JFK.
If we think of our World View as a mental and emotion home and agree that most people will do anything to defend their home, then we can begin to see why the JFK assassination cover-up creates so much anger. Everyone has felt emotional fear due to events or concepts that we disagree with, this occurs when we are taken out of our comfort zone and thrust into the conceptual wilderness. Our foundation of how the World works begins to crumble and fearing the unknown it triggers the fight or flight instincts inherent in all of us.”
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I was deep into an 8 hour daily instructional regimen while enrolled in the US Navy Radioman A School at the Naval Training Center in San Diego the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Like millions of Americans, I cried in disbelief.  We loved President Kennedy and considered him one of our greatest leaders.  Innocence died on that day and changed America forever…  America’s core beliefs were shattered and what ensued were more assassinations of great leaders, including Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, along with many scandals starting with Watergate.  How does this event connect the dots with America’s apparent denial of the realities of moral injury and PTSD? 

We are just beginning to make significant progress breaking down the barriers of cultural denial and stigma that have persisted for decades, especially during World Wars and other conflicts, including Korea and Vietnam during the 20th Century.  When we drill down more and connect the dots we can more easily understand why.  “Cognitive Dissonance is a term used by social psychologists to describe the feelings of discomfort one feels when confronted with information that is in conflict with one’s world view or paradigm.”  It is often almost impossible to break through the wall of denial and the strong human belief system to advance new ideas.  We tend to put our heads in the sand, and walk away…

PTSD denial was so apparent in WWII that General George S. Patton slapped two soldiers who were recovering from a diagnosis of “Battle Fatigue” during WWII.  He later apologized after being ordered to do so by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The “suck it up” mentality was alive and well for decades, including growing up as a post WWII military child.  And we all are paying a big price today with the lingering effects of inter-generational PTSD.

Until just a few years ago my belief system and cognitive dissonance was so strong that it took a major personal crisis to get the necessary attention for action.  It is time once again to remind ourselves of the value of shifting the paradigm to make way for positive change…change that can have exponential benefits to future generations.  We often go through this process of paradigm shifting in the world of technology and entrepreneurship, and know the huge benefits to quality of life and productivity.  I am encouraged that we are now seeing the enormous benefits of understanding PTSD and moral injury.  The evolving new PTSD awareness and treatment strategies are beginning to take hold and will benefit the human condition forever…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…