What is Dissociation? Part 2: Me, Not Paying Attention

Dec 5, 2015 | Mood


Yesterday, frost covered my car as I rushed out to go to my wonderful cardio boxing class. My mind overflowed with dilemmas to be settled at work AND all sorts of exciting connections lit me up because of deep family conversations I’d had the night before. I talked out loud to invisible relatives as I started the engine and turned on my seat warmer and grabbed the scraper. I cleared most of the windshield, hopped into the driver’s seat, and backed slowly at first because I have to kind of turn around a gate and then I just sort of kept…going…and suddenly SMACKED into the side of my house. The sound sickened me…sort of a pounding crunch. I sat there for a few minutes and cried.

Dissociation is the opposite of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is what you need to drive. Mindfulness happens when you tune in to your senses in this moment, right here. Mindfulness happens when we stop the mad sworrrrling mess of thought-tangles and focus on one thing. Mindfulness happens in yoga practice. Mindfulness happens when we simply notice our breathing, ininininininin…and outoutoutoutoutout…

So I called Joe and he came to help me check the car. I didn’t want to look. It turned out I did a little damage, but nothing that can’t be easily fixed. He said, you got a wake-up call. I said, yes, literally.

This morning, I went out to the car at 5:45 to take my son to meet a school bus. There was no frost, but I felt nervous. I took several deep breaths. Inininininin…..and outoutoutoutout…I said, I feel nervous to back out today. I looked all around, checked my mirrors. I went slow. I stopped, took more breaths, adjusted the wheel, noticed the pain in my stomach.

Awake, yes.
You cure dissociation one breath at a time. You become checked-in. You wake up and feel the feelings but stay right here, not in the future, not in the past. You get grounded. Here’s how:

  • Feel your pulse. Listen for it. Place fingers on your wrist and feel for it.
  • Simply notice the length of your in-breath and your out-breath.
  • Touch something solid, like a ring or a rock or a cold tabletop.
  • Notice the colors around you. Scan your visual field for all the colors and shapes.
  • Repeat a short, comforting phrase, like: I’m safe now. Or, It’s okay to feel my feelings.
  • Find a safe, loved person and hug them.
  • Smell peppermint oil.
  • Get a drink of water. Taste the water and feel it hydrating you as it moves across your tongue, down into your throat and stomach.
  • Notice the thought-tangles in your mind, and gently nudge them to the side, or to a mental container, just for now.
  • Do any kind of yoga.
  • Eat something, slowly, noticing all the tastes and smells and textures.
  • Call a friend and really listen to the sound of their voice.

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about dissociation or mindfulness or grounding or waking up. You stand to benefit in just about every conceivable way. Getting grounded erases anxiety, heals relationships, and improves focus and concentration. It’s a tool for coping with extreme emotion, a way of seeing the world more clearly and driving your car without backing into buildings.

I’m off to yoga now…


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