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    152: How to Support Yourself Through Grief Using Brainspotting w/ Deb Antinori

    • 27 min read

    Grief is one of the most difficult emotions for humans to process. I’m joined by grief therapist, Deb Antinori, to talk about how you can support yourself with brainspotting, a technique designed to ground and calm yourself.

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    Key Takeaways:

    • Identify what feels good, comfortable, or at least “less bad” in your body, then avert your gaze and try to return to a state of homeostasis. [26:00]
    • Be gentle with yourself right now. The world is going through a collective trauma, so cut yourself some slack. [34:00]

    About Deb Antinori

    Deborah Antinori, MA, LPC, FT, RDT is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 29 years in private practice. She is a Brainspotting Trainer and Certified Consultant. She has been using Brainspotting since its inception in 2003 as she met the developer of Brainspotting, David Grand, in the late ’90s when he was her supervisor for her private practice of therapy.

    As a grief therapist, Deborah holds her FT, Fellow in Thanatology, from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She authored a chapter on Grief and Brainspotting in The Power of Brainspotting: An International Anthology. Deborah is the author and narrator of the double award-winning audiobook, Journey Through Pet Loss. (Audie Award - Audio Publishers Association, ForeWord Book of the Year Award – Silver)

    She is a master's graduate of NYU’s Drama Therapy Dept. Originally an actress, she earned her BFA from the Boston Conservatory of Music and is still in the professional actor’s unions, AEA and SAG/AFTRA.

    She has begun work on a Ph.D. through the International University for Graduate Studies and is hoping to be able to get to Innsbruck for an EEG study with her mentor, Damir DelMonte, Ph.D., on Brainspotting for her Ph.D. when the travel bans lift.

    Grief Is Difficult Whether It’s a Pet or a Loved One

    Deb joins me to talk about the intersection of grief and brainspotting. Grief is one of the most difficult emotions for humans to process, regardless of whether it’s from the death of a loved one, a pet, or a different experience of loss.

    One of Deb’s specialties is working with people who have lost a pet. The death of our pets impacts many of us just as hard, if not harder than the loss of a loved one. 

    We all know how good it feels to sit and cuddle with our pets when times are tough. That sense of comfort and wholeness gets so many of us through difficult times.

    That’s one of the biggest reasons losing a pet is difficult. Deb explains what stages of grief look like when our pets die; they’re not altogether dissimilar to when we lose a loved one.

    Deb talks us through a practice we can use when we’re settling into our feelings of grief. She explains how this practice can help calm us down. It’s called brainspotting, and Deb has been using it since 2003.

    How Brainspotting Helps You Process

    Brainspotting helps you process difficult information and return to a state of calm. The three stages brainspotting helps guide you through are survival, homeostasis, and restoration. Our brains are at their best when they’re in homeostasis and restoration.

    In this episode, Deb actually guides us through the brainspotting process. We take a few minutes to guide ourselves into the right space and sitting, breathing, and feeling our brains return to homeostasis.

    Just like every new technique, brainspotting is something you need to consistently practice in order for it to have a positive benefit on your life and mental health. When you use it regularly, you’ll have a much easier time of returning to that state of calm.

    Finally, I really just want to give you permission to be kind to yourself. 2020 has been hard for all of us and it’s absolutely okay if you’re experiencing feelings of grief and overwhelm. I hope that Deb’s advice and brainspotting technique can help you return to your own natural state of homeostasis.

    Do something to get yourself out of your comfort zone. Collage, dance, chase your dog, watch a new series on Netflix. Get out there so you can get back into your zone.

    As always, you can ask me anything and let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you have questions, email team@drannacabeca.com.

     

    In This Episode:

    • Why we feel so good when we’re cuddling with our pets [5:30]
    • The stages of grief when we lose a pet [6:30]
    • A quick practice we can use when we’re experiencing moments of grief [12:00]
    • What brainspotting is and how you can use it for yourself [14:45]
    • What happens when you bring your brain back into homeostasis and restoration [17:50]
    • A simple technique to help you return to a state of calmness [24:00]
    • Why you need to practice brain spotting to strengthen your mastery of it [30:00]
    • Why you need to be gentle yourself during these huge times of global trauma and existentialism [34:00]

     

    Quotes:

    “Moving with the feeling in the moment is the best way to help things move in a direction where you can get to the better feelings in time about the wonderful memories.” [12:02]

    “Each person will do brainspotting differently. They’ll find a way that works for them. Some people find the spot immediately, some other people struggle: that’s where we say, ‘just guess.’ Because, when you guess, you’re using your subcortical brain, and that’s what we really look at in the brain spotting.” [28:46]

    “Just have an appreciation for what your core brain and system is trying to put together. Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Don’t put that extra stress on yourself at this time when there are a lot of trauma signals.” [34:24]

     

    Resources Mentioned

    Learn more about Brainspotting

    Find Deb Antinori Online

    You can email Deb Antinori at dantinori@gmail.com

    Join the KetoGreen Community on Facebook

    Buy Keto-Green 16

    Find Dr. Anna Online

    Follow Dr. Anna on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

     

    Transcript

    Deb Antinori:
    What people tend to notice usually is that their system will start to settle because our brain is an organ of organization. It wants things to be in this homeostasis and restoration area. It only wants to be here if the threat is bad enough that we need to save our lives or a loved one's life or deal with something that's dangerous and then it wants to come right back.

    Deb Antinori:
    And now with COVID and these different phases we're going through with it, there's a lot of this survival stuff going on.

    Dr. Anna:
    Hello everyone. Dr. Anna Cabeca here, your Girlfriend Doctor. I am excited to be with you today. And as you know, we've been working on a series, working through trauma, working through grief. Going from post traumatic stress to create post traumatic growth and post traumatic resilience so that we are stronger no matter what we're facing in our lives.

    Dr. Anna:
    So today is one of these episodes where I want to share with you a technique taught to me and very, very helpful. You've heard me talk about EMDR or emotional freedom technique. This is called brainspotting. On the same principles but recognizing how we can tap into that reset zone of our own body and our nervous system to get into that reset zone and just reboot.

    Dr. Anna:
    Control cortisol, increase oxytocin. Today, also we're going to share a little bit about grieving our pets. And the benefits of pets. But also understanding that it is ... There is a grieving process that we go through.

    Dr. Anna:
    To bring you this information, I have invited a beautiful colleague, Deborah Antinori, who is a licensed professional counselor. She's had over 29 years in private practice. And she is a brainspotting trainer as well as a certified consultant.

    Dr. Anna:
    She's been using brainspotting since its inception in 2003 so over 17 years. And she has been practicing. She's also a grief therapist. And she holds a fellow a Thanatology from the Association from Death Education and Counseling.

    Dr. Anna:
    She authored a chapter on grief and brainspotting in The Power of brainspotting: An International Anthology. She is the author and narrator of the double award winning audiobooks, Journey Through Pet Loss. That is just a fabulous resource. Journey Through Pet Loss.

    Dr. Anna:
    She's also a Masters graduate of NYU's Drama Therapy department. So very excited to bring her to you and talk about grieving, pet grieving, as well as this brainspotting therapy. This resetting that we can do. So here we go. We're going to jump right into the middle of our conversation.

    Deb Antinori:
    ... Put together this audiobook and then opened up the Pet Loss and Life Transitions counseling division of my private practice and I've had so many people come through. And people who love animals are just wonderful people. They have such big hearts. And sometimes your relationship with the animal, the animal gets closer to you, particularly for people that have had trauma in their lives.

    Deb Antinori:
    And particularly growing up. That that animal is the closest being to them. That no person do they feel as safe with as they do with their animal. So when they lose them, they can be very distraught and have a number of dysregulation symptoms, both physically and psychologically.

    Deb Antinori:
    So the work I do with the pet loss has just been wonderful since the brainspotting came along. And I really enjoy working with those people so much.

    Dr. Anna:
    Oh my gosh, that's so good. I was having a conversation with my daughter, Britney. We have two dogs at home. And one of them is Australian Shepherd mixed with we don't know what. Chihuahua. We have no idea. But she's just amazing.

    Dr. Anna:
    And then I have to go Texas for two months. I'll be going to Texas for two months. We have three horses that we just got. So they're out there.

    Deb Antinori:
    Congratulations.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thank you. Thank you. Our family has expanded.

    Deb Antinori:
    Yes.

    Dr. Anna:
    And she said, Sandy was our little dog's name. She goes, "You know she's getting old now." And that just struck me. It's like oh no. She's not getting old. She can't be. And just made me think, oh, oh no. We can't have Sandy getting old. So I'm like I'm putting her on my own supplements. My De Maca and some fish oils. I'm like, "I'm not letting Sandy get old."

    Dr. Anna:
    But I definitely know that attachment. Know that attachment. Feel that attachment and just that consequence of fear of loss let alone loss. I've had dogs all my life. Animals all my life. And so you want to see that just like with people that they live a good long life, right?

    Deb Antinori:
    Oh absolutely, yeah.

    Dr. Anna:
    And they can be our absolute best friends, our companions. And we know that having a pet increases longevity, increases our hormone oxytocin, is just powerfully healing.

    Deb Antinori:
    Absolutely. That oxytocin is just huge. I mean that's coming from our mammalian brain we share with our animals. And that's the thing is people usually feel great when their animals are around.

    Deb Antinori:
    Or if your dog is on your lap or your cat is curled up on your legs whatever. And that oxytocin is a serotonin agonist. It boosts it. And so this is a great way to really feel good.

    Deb Antinori:
    And I think it's been really helpful for people with the stay at home, the shelter in place. That even though they've had such a struggle with not being able to see in the flesh family members, coworkers, friends, whatever, that they have their wonderful fur and feathered kids right there.

    Deb Antinori:
    I think that's saved a lot of people. And I think they do. A lot of people say when they rescue an animal, they'll say, "No that animal, that dog rescued me."

    Dr. Anna:
    I have heard that too many times. Yeah, that's powerful. Talk about the stages of grief that a pet owner goes through with their pet too.

    Deb Antinori:
    Sure. Yes. Yeah, everybody's different. And the order of the phases can come at any time but first is usually shock or impact as Elizabeth Harper Neeld calls it. And this is where it's that protective part of our brain in the brain stem that dissociates us from feeling in a way that we're ... We don't have words.

    Deb Antinori:
    That's where sometimes when you're at the vet's office and you find out, for the people that find out in the moment. They bring their pet in and it's this bad that we need to do it now and they weren't expecting it.

    Deb Antinori:
    They find something that's going to go very wrong, very quickly, that kind of shock, they can't take in the information, it just shuts down our thinking, executive function part of our brain.

    Deb Antinori:
    So in the early phases with a loss or an impending loss, and the anticipatory loss, we'll find that our cognitive functions aren't as good. We'll be on the road driving somewhere that we go to often and go whoops, I passed the exit.

    Deb Antinori:
    Or we're looking at numbers in our work that usually we bang them out like this and all of a sudden it's like, "What?" We lose our place. We lose time sometimes. So this can be a period of time that really makes life difficult for people.

    Deb Antinori:
    People understand it more when it's a human who has passed or if there is an anticipatory phase or a hospice phase.

    Deb Antinori:
    And then, there may be the waking up to oh gosh, this really happened and really feeling the day to day impact. So that you'll look in the corner where your dog is usually rolled up like a little donut in their bed and they're not there. Maybe you've left the bed there or you think that you hear them.

    Deb Antinori:
    And or that reality sets in and then the feelings start to come in and maybe even flood that some people even feel like I can't do this without my sidekick.

    Deb Antinori:
    And then hopefully as time goes on and you get some time to reflect that it's your particular reaction to the loss. It's everybody's reaction is different. What is it that comes to you as sort of a personal growth issue because we all face loss.

    Deb Antinori:
    How is it we can be a better us because we have this dear one who it is our contract that they go before us because they have the shorter life span. So this is the place where I work with clients a lot when they get to that phase of what is it that ... It's almost like you would do for a person, the living legacy of even an act in your life.

    Deb Antinori:
    Maybe they go and volunteer at a shelter. Maybe they donate money to the ASPCA or Soy Dog or one of these organizations. And then being able to move to ... Actually being able to look at pictures of your animal and feel the wonderful times that you had together.

    Deb Antinori:
    I mean it's been many years now and my husband will say, "Remember when Yoko used do the race car around the dining room table. We didn't know what was the front end and what was the back end and she was going so fast." And we'll laugh. And so, that's when people begin to integrate and be able to move forward.

    Deb Antinori:
    And I think it can flip flop into any of those phases. You can maybe hear a song on the radio or someone brings a picture to you of you and your new baby and when the dog was a puppy or whatever and oh, all of a sudden, you feel that moment again of this more searing pain. But it's more fleeting. So that's kind of an overview.

    Dr. Anna:
    And so when you're experiencing those kinds of sensations, in the moment of experiencing that, what is a quick intervention that we can make or a quick practice we can participate in that will help us with that overwhelming feeling of grief when we're experiencing that.

    Dr. Anna:
    And I just want to say for those listening and pet lovers and animal lovers and understanding that it ... Like we can always say in general, never compare your grief to someone else's. Acknowledge your feelings. What you're experiencing.

    Dr. Anna:
    And I think when we bottle it up. Try to hide it, we have a much more traumatic recovery period. Then when we just recognize, "Hey, I'm grieving my dog." And it is not weak. It is not petty. It is not whatever. It is real for me. And that is, I think, an important thing to acknowledge as well. Would you agree, Deb?

    Deb Antinori:
    Oh absolutely. Absolutely. I think that's the wisdom of our brain body connection that when that comes we should allow that. I know that it doesn't always come at the most opportune moment, but finding a place and a time where you can have those feelings. Whether you do go to see a pet loss or grief specialist counselor.

    Deb Antinori:
    Or somebody who really gets it and understands and knows and you can talk about and you can cry and you can tell them how you feel. That the tears that we cry when we're sad and we're grieving have a different chemical makeup than when we're slicing onions and say, "Oh look at me, I'm all tearing up here."

    Deb Antinori:
    And so it's a way that our body wants to release. And it's a very human and natural thing. It's a mammalian thing. We see these incredible videos of elephants gathering around and grieving around one who has passed.

    Deb Antinori:
    And we're starting to see some of these ways that animals grieve and so moving with the feeling in the moment is the best way to help things move in a direction where you can get to the better feelings in time about the wonderful memories and the original reason that you got the pet in the first place.

    Dr. Anna:
    Yeah, and I think that's ... Recognizing that that ... They say animals can be your best friend, right? And I think especially now having pets, when especially when we have this physical distancing and this more prevalent social isolation, that having pets are just beneficial for our health.

    Dr. Anna:
    So let's switch and let's talk about brainspotting. So recognize we can use this in grieving our animals. In grieving the loss of current, regular daily life and our daily existence.

    Dr. Anna:
    And as we are now entering this as its termed period of uncertainty, this time of uncertainty, like there's a lot of tension, energy and concern around that.

    Dr. Anna:
    And especially now. The news is, "Oh well, we're increasing. We're seeing the rates of COVID increasing. And it's creating some fear driven reactions." And in fact, one of my colleagues, a medical colleague in Italy is talking about the fear that's gripping his nation.

    Dr. Anna:
    Gripping the nation of Italy and it's also running into legislation with almost like a force of putting smartphone apps tracing people and say, "Hey, if you're around someone who's been recently diagnosed with COVID, you've come within 20 feet of that person."

    Dr. Anna:
    So this tracking software that goes with us everywhere we go and that risk of limiting personal freedoms and how that's really gripping, it's further gripping the nation in fear. And what we can do so we don't go there with that fear driven physiology.

    Dr. Anna:
    So that we can stay very clear, very ... I will say, "What do you know to be true right now? What is your reality showing you? How many people do you know who have been sick and how have they recovered?"

    Dr. Anna:
    What are the underlying reasons? What are things that we can do to decrease our risks right now and make that next right step as we face our ... The reality that we're in right now?

    Deb Antinori:
    Absolutely. And actually being a person that lives in two of the states that have actually gone down, I think. Governor Cuomo yesterday said we had "only 17 cases." And of course, 17 people is never a good thing to have one. But we have gone down from thousands and we've done the social distancing, the masks and then the phased reopening.

    Deb Antinori:
    So within that, each person's feeling about what's right for them. Something that we do in brainspotting is called self spotting. And what we can do is to notice. When you had mentioned when you're in a difficult place, whether it is with the grief of a pet or what you're dealing with COVID and maybe getting invited to an event. And not sure if you should go or not.

    Deb Antinori:
    And trying to figure it all out. If what you can do is notice where your eyes are in the moment. That's probably a little bit more of a ... It's a little bit resourced but there's some activation there around what you're thinking about.

    Deb Antinori:
    Notice what you notice in your body with that. There might be a clenching. Your palms might be sweaty. You might feel a little dizzy or dissociated, unplugged, disconnected.

    Deb Antinori:
    And then see if simultaneously, even with that going on, can you find a place in or on the body that is calm, centered, grounded? Or if you say nothing is, how about neutral? And it could be anywhere. At the tip of your nose. Deep, deep, deep in your elbow. It could be anywhere. Or if someone says it's not even neutral, none of it's good. How about the less bad place?

    Deb Antinori:
    Laurie DeGrappo who is one of my supervisees in brainspotting wonderfully came up with that phrase, the less bad place. And most people will be able to feel that ... "Oh yeah, over here feels less bad."

    Deb Antinori:
    Then let your gaze be guided by that and see if you can find the place for that. An easy way to do is just look one corner for a while, the center for a while, the other corner. See where you're drawn.

    Deb Antinori:
    And then look for the specific spot. It might be looking at a little vase or you might just land on something on your wall. And spend time on the spot that feels better even though you have this activation that doesn't feel so good.

    Deb Antinori:
    This helps your body come back to a homeostasis because our brain wants first, survival. So anything perceived as threat is going to be on the alert and our amygdala is going to be assessing and then seeing whether it's going to contact the parts of the brain that get the cortisol going and the survival programs running.

    Deb Antinori:
    Or it's going to back down and say, "Okay, this is all right. I'm going to homeostasis now. And I even feel better than that, I'm going to restoration." So it's the three. Survival, homeostasis, restoration.

    Deb Antinori:
    So we want to go from that threatening survival place to helping ourselves naturally psycho physiologically, neuro biologically with the visual field. Finding that spot and it may sound a little odd but it's the time on the spot.

    Deb Antinori:
    And we have a couple of theories about what that is from a neuroscientist and a psychologist that we're working on seeing if we can get some proof of this when we can get back together again to do more EEGs, fMRIs, these sorts of things.

    Deb Antinori:
    But what people tend to notice usually is that their system will start to settle because our brain is an organ of organization. It wants things to be in this homeostasis and restoration area.

    Deb Antinori:
    It only wants to be here if the threat is bad enough that we need to save our lives or a loved one's life or deal with something that's dangerous. And then it wants to come right back. Right back to this homeostasis.

    Deb Antinori:
    And in our world. Our complex, complicated world and now with COVID and these different phases we're going through with it, there's a lot of this survival stuff going on for people.

    Deb Antinori:
    So to help ourselves to get to the attentional, where the attention goes, the brain, the mind, the body goes. So if we can find that place that's even just a little better. Or is actually calm, grounded and centered. And find that visual spot and spend some time there. It's like a meditation.

    Deb Antinori:
    Or you could add this piece in with the meditation that you already do and already utilize. So that's a suggestion.

    Dr. Anna:
    And so finding that spot, that spot where your eyes are naturally going and mine go to the left when I start thinking trauma, upper left. So that trauma, that activation center. I've noticed this a lot more since I've known you.

    Deb Antinori:
    Yes. Oh good.

    Dr. Anna:
    So it's just like okay. And then just to chill, to meditate and to go into that space. I think that's awesome. Where am I ... What feels calm? Where am I feeling calm or what area is feeling calm? Or less bad? I like that like if you feel completely tense what feels less bad?

    Dr. Anna:
    And then getting into this state where you're able to take that deep breath to shift your physiology and to do things regularly to keep your physiology as healthy. To relax, get out of the cortisol, the sympathetic stress, fight, flight mode that we're definitely exposed to right now. And can experience.

    Dr. Anna:
    Sandra wrote in from Facebook and she says that, "Her dog is very anxious. Doesn't want her out of her sight. Her dog doesn't want her, mama Sandra, out of her sight. And that, in fact, when she tries to take her out, the dog is very, very nervous."

    Dr. Anna:
    Because is that feeling her energy, her nervousness? Or the dog is nervous during ... Having social anxiety right now too? Fear?

    Deb Antinori:
    And I guess this is a new thing that she's seeing?

    Dr. Anna:
    New. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Deb Antinori:
    She hasn't seen it before. Interesting. Yeah, the dog may be very empathic, very sensitive. So whatever she can do to help calm herself down. And even I don't really know technically how to do Telling TTouch but just from bilateral stimulation, if she can sit her little dog on her lap and do one little circle on one side like the shoulder.

    Deb Antinori:
    And one little circle on the other and just alternate those, we have bilateral sounds we use in brainspotting that helps to get both left and right brain flowing again.

    Deb Antinori:
    Because when anyone, a dog, a person is in a very anxious state, it's a particular neural network that hooks up. And it's like the parts of the brain that say, "Hey, things are actually okay here. They can't find a way in. They're knocking on the door but they can't get there." So that this bilateral stimulation can help.

    Deb Antinori:
    I don't know whether a thunder shirt, if she feels like something like that at this point. Or there's even these little pheromone plug ins that you can get from your vet that will help your animal calm down.

    Deb Antinori:
    But it might be a good significator for her to just take some time for self care for herself and then notice what happens with her dog.

    Deb Antinori:
    And it may sound crazy, but the ways that she talks to her little dog. Sit him down and in a nice quiet voice tell him how he's okay, she's all right. That things are going to be okay. That whatever you would do with a little baby or whatever that was fussy.

    Deb Antinori:
    And just to try some of these things. And also for herself, it's really fine to distract herself too from ... Maybe get a good series going on on Netflix or pick up a book that you haven't been able to get to.

    Deb Antinori:
    And that self care and then a little of maybe some of these things with her dog might make some movement, a little shift maybe.

    Dr. Anna:
    I like that idea. So you say where you look affects how you feel. Can you give us a little exercise so that we can do that with you in learning this technique?

    Deb Antinori:
    So why don't we do the little resourcing that we were talking about in the self spotting. We call it the body resource. So we'll just take whatever, five minutes or so and if people listening can just take a moment first to notice what maybe feels a little bit stirred up in themselves. So just have an awareness of it.

    Deb Antinori:
    Maybe where your eyes are now. Just say, "Oh okay they're there." But well given that. I'm going to look around now. What feels calm, centered, grounded? And it could be anywhere. Or maybe it's just neutral. Or maybe it's that less bad place we talked about. It could be, again, tip of your nose, your toes. It could be your feet on the floor. It could be anything.

    Deb Antinori:
    Notice how the chair supporting you or the couch, wherever you're resting. And then once you get that, just look to one side of the room. Like the corner. And you're going to see what has the resonant feel of this thing that feels better?

    Deb Antinori:
    Give that a little bit of time and then look to the center. And notice, you're looking for that resonance to what feels ... Even if it's just a little better.

    Deb Antinori:
    And then look to the other side. The other corner of the room. And then if you have been able to find that third of space, just look within that space. You can either just move your eyes horizontally and you can look up and you can look down. Or maybe there's something that draws you in the room. A favorite object.

    Deb Antinori:
    And when you get that sweet spot of what feels the best, most calm, centered, grounded or neutral, or the less bad place, just take about two minutes there. We'll just take a little time and then we'll check in when you're done. So I'm just going to be quiet and you're just going to take that nice, quiet time for yourself on that visual spot. (silence)

    Deb Antinori:
    And I think what I find that's so interesting as I get into this experience is just that that consistently that upper left area, maybe 60 degrees above horizontal, just that ... Let's see I would say it's at 11:00, 10 or 11:00. And that that's just consistently the space that I want to go to. Does it mean something? One direction or another? Because upper right is tense.

    Dr. Anna:
    Upper left is much better which is interesting. And again, getting in tune to this area of-

    Deb Antinori:
    Sure. Yes, in brainspotting, it doesn't. We look at this that the brain has four quadrillion possible synaptic connections in any given moment. And that's from Daniel Amen of the Daniel Amen clinics and his work with thousands and thousands and spec scans. And other scans of the brain.

    Deb Antinori:
    So what's going on at any particular time, given the feelings, the given the thoughts the body, the history of that person. Their temperament and personality is going to be completely different than someone else. I know there are certain systems like NLP, neuro linguistic programming, that has certain meanings. And that flows within their whole system.

    Deb Antinori:
    So maybe someone who does that might find there's something for them in that that shines some more light for them. That's great. That's fine. We say brainspotting is very inclusive. It wants to include anything that works for the person.

    Deb Antinori:
    So it is what it is and David Grand will say, "We don't know what it is to know that it is." What we see happen clinically and people really getting benefits from the work in how they feel. And that journey inward and what resonates inward. That deep self knowledge of what works for one self.

    Deb Antinori:
    Because we're such a culture that's so product oriented and what have you done for me today or that to go inside, yeah. And to really feel okay within yourself. Sometimes there's a lot of balls to take care of or whatever on the outside. And to get a good centered foundation and base first is so important for us. And especially in these terribly uncertain times. So I hope this can be helpful to people, this little exercise.

    Dr. Anna:
    Yeah, yeah, I think just that realization where you look at how you feel. So getting in touch with that within yourself. Getting into this rest state. Identify. If I make sure I got these steps right, Deborah.

    Dr. Anna:
    Identify what feels calm in your body or what feels best in your body or less bad, however you look at it. What feels best in your body and get into this state feeling comfortable. And then use your gaze. And come to the center and look to the upper right, upper left, down, lower right, lower left, wherever that may be and see where your gaze feels ... What are you expecting to feel? Like for me, it's just that relaxation. Less tense, I would say.

    Deb Antinori:
    Great, yes, absolutely. It's just that simple and each person will do it differently. They'll find a way that works for them. Some people are look whoop, it's right there. They know immediately. They have a really good sense.

    Deb Antinori:
    Some other people will say, "I don't know. It all feels the same." That's where we say, "Just guess." Because when you guess, you're using your subcortical brain and that's what we really look at in the brainspotting. And that's the part of the brain, not only where the difficulties will lie in those kind of patterns, but also where the regulation is.

    Deb Antinori:
    The regulation isn't in our executive functioning, analytical brain. It's actually in these areas that are right behind the orbits of the eyes. It's a midi, middle prefrontal circuits that have deep connections. Dense neural connections down to the amygdala, the alarm centers, the hypothalamus, then down to the adrenals for cortisol and down to the brain stem to an area where all our survival programs, our fight, flight, freeze, faint, dissociation.

    Deb Antinori:
    So if we can get that sensing of where in the body and just guess if we don't know. And just spend some time there. That can be really, really helpful. And the more you do it, the more you'll get so you know where the spot is even if you don't know in the beginning.

    Deb Antinori:
    It's like anything. When you exercise the muscle, you get better.

    Dr. Anna:
    Yeah, yeah. And then I think one thing that you talk about too is that the existential trauma versus trauma shock. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

    Deb Antinori:
    Sure. These are David Grand's terms. So he's the developer of brainspotting. The existential trauma is something that we either all experience at the same time like a 9/11. The effects and what that means for us or COVID, which is totally pandemic worldwide.

    Deb Antinori:
    But even things like school shootings and things that happen that it's like my child could have been there. Or my nephew could have been there. Other events that we go through. Now, of course, the Black Lives Matter for individuals of color. Anytime they hear someone has been killed all these times that we have had, what that brings forth for them.

    Deb Antinori:
    And of course, many people who are allies or who really understand the depth of that. What that means. That the existential trauma is that shared, deep, depth of something that is terrifying, terrorizing, but also can mobilize within us forces to combat whatever it is that we are experiencing.

    Deb Antinori:
    So within that can come the trauma shock. That's the phase in the beginning. When we were talking about the first phase of grief. The trauma shock is when the trauma happens and we, like when we're in shock, we will go through those.

    Deb Antinori:
    Some people will go into a fight mode. Some people will go into a flight mode. And some people will just freeze or feel dissociated. And then various along the way with COVID, we get new information and then there's maybe a new shock with it.

    Deb Antinori:
    So the two together are resonating, but each person is so individual in the way that they react. Of course, given their individual history and their history with trauma. David Grand says that "A trauma that happens in the moment wakes up all the other traumas going back to the original trauma. And that, in fact, may be implicit, unconscious memory."

    Deb Antinori:
    Because when were birthed to almost age three, certainly 18 months to age three, we don't have the part of our brain online yet that makes episodic, autobiographical remembered memory. And it sounds crazy, implicit memory. But that's body, visceral sensing that we feel. But that's what a baby feels.

    Deb Antinori:
    And to them it's not crazy that they don't remember, "Oh yes, yesterday, grandma held me this way." They can't make that memory. "And it feels good again today." But their body is making that ... Something that ... They're starting to make those neural connections of "Ooh, that's a good snuggly." And the amygdala isn't just giving us the things that are terrible.

    Deb Antinori:
    So based on our history, we're each going to have a reaction within that. We're all feeling the existential trauma. And sometimes we feel very differently from other people about what's going on and how to handle it. And to give yourself a break regarding this trauma shock business.

    Deb Antinori:
    I mean we're out of the original shock of it. But we are still in this, "Oh, if I did get it, the worst on a continuum, the worst is I could get or someone in my family or close to me could possibly pass away." I mean that does wake up our system an awful lot to be on alert.

    Deb Antinori:
    So we may find ourselves vacillating between these various defensive survival states of, again, the fight, flight, freeze, and don't forget with the freeze, the dissociation, don't be hard on yourself when you don't know it. Because it's dissociated.

    Deb Antinori:
    This is, again, where we have that implicit going on. It's unconscious. We don't consciously remember it. It's we're out of time and then we go whoops, 40 minutes went by. I was supposed to call so and so. And then we feel so badly. But we're out of our normal way of everything. Of being.

    Deb Antinori:
    Going to work. Seeing our family. Getting groceries. Every single thing. So just have an appreciation for what your poor brain and system is trying to put together. And be gentle with yourself and don't expect yourself to be perfect. Don't put that extra stress on yourself in this time when there are a lot of trauma signals.

    Dr. Anna:
    Yeah, no, I understand that. And then just I love the term perfectly imperfect.

    Deb Antinori:
    Yes.

    Dr. Anna:
    We can be perfectly imperfect if we have a perfection complex, right? We can be perfectly imperfect so that's really good. So in summary, just some of the things that you recommend people to do during this time, right? To take us out of this fight or flight zone or to just like redirect that trigger. To calm, like as you say, calming the alarm centers?

    Deb Antinori:
    Right. Certainly that little self spotting body resource exercise we did with finding that place in that place in the body that feels the best and getting the eye position that's resonant with that. That feels the same with that. That's great.

    Deb Antinori:
    But anything you can do. Put on some music you like. Dance around the room. Move your body. Sometimes we get frozen and we don't even realize that we've gotten frozen in a way that just moving, putting on a song that you like.

    Deb Antinori:
    Some Aretha or some dancing in the streets with Martha Reeves and the Vandelas or for the summer here. To get your body in motion, maybe do yoga. Maybe you do Pilates. Play with your kids. Do what you can do with them. Get outside. Play with your dog. Throw the ball and run after it yourself. See if you can get to it before your dog does.

    Deb Antinori:
    But any of these things, like I said, watching a series that maybe you haven't been able to get to on Netflix. Read a book. Even consider one of these like Babbel. I always wanted to learn Russian. Well get on Babbel and start learning it.

    Deb Antinori:
    Do something to ... A little bit to push yourself outside your comfort zone of I'm not sure what to do here. Pick up something new and do it. What about some art work? Maybe you used to draw. Maybe you collaged. Cut some stuff out of magazines and glue them together. Make a little card for your friend.

    Deb Antinori:
    One of my friends and I are writing old fashioned letters to each other and sending them in the mail like we used to when we were in our 20s.

    Deb Antinori:
    So I think anything that you can do. Use your creativity. Get on Zoom with your friends. Have a Zoom virtual dinner or a cocktail party if it's okay for you to have a cocktail.

    Dr. Anna:
    I love this. And how can people work with you? Because I know we connected virtually also.

    Deb Antinori:
    Yes, absolutely. They can go to my website which is petlossaudio.com. And my email is basically D for Deb. And Antinori, A-N-T-I-N-O-R-I, at Gmail. And you can also find me on the brainspotting website. Brainspotting.com.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thank you. Thank you for your time. Thank you for you ... Gosh, so much helpful resources and information. It's so helpful to have this and be able to share this information and just recognize that there are small, little techniques. Our body is designed to act, react, and then rest. And being able to trigger those areas, knowing that we have reset points within us.

    Dr. Anna:
    And one of our listeners commented, "Acupressure, deep breathing." And these are reset points we can use. We have at our resource and this brainspotting. And then being able to use it also therapeutically like we've used EMDR and emotional freedom technique. And I think this is a really powerful technique.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thank you for introducing it to me, Deb. And thanks for all your work you're doing with pets too. And grieving from pets. And I appreciate you very, very much. So brainspotting.com. One way to find you and find out more about brainspotting. And then also your website, petlossaudio.com.

    Deb Antinori:
    Yes.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thank you. All right. Good to see you.

    Deb Antinori:
    You too.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thank you all our listeners for being here. I appreciate all of you. And excited to continue to share information with you in our Girlfriend Doctor live podcast series. And continue to share this information. And write in your question. Topics that maybe you need help on. Extra help on. And know that I am here for you because I am, after all, your Girlfriend Doctor.

    Dr. Anna:
    Thanks for being with me today. And again, please share this information. And check out, practice these practices yourself and let me know how you're doing. Thanks for being here. See you next time.

    Dr. Anna Cabeca

    Dr. Anna Cabeca

    Dr. Anna is a Triple Board Certified OB/GYN, Anti-Aging Medicine expert, and author of the best selling book, The Hormone Fix.

    Dr. Anna helps women heal the 9 most dreadful symptoms of menopause with natural, safe solutions. Follow her for content on hormonal imbalances, vaginal dryness, menopause (and more) that are medically backed, and created to empower women — not just treat them.