Attention Training

             We will be working with the brain throughout our training and most of our work will be designed to change the way we think, remember, behave, feel, and live our lives. These changes in the brain can most efficiently be made when our mind is attentive, alert, and focused. They are like a beam of light into the process of healing and change. I call this, “Attention Training.” This training is critical for learning how to heal the trauma of combat. The bottom line is to become an expert in these three areas.

            I have selected deep breathing which is sometimes called, “belly breathing” as the core skill to help you with the attention training. Many of the benefits of deep breathing training will be closely associated with the overall benefit of being attentive, alert, and focused. In many ways it’s like basic training. The training is invaluable and critical as we get further into our work together.

            Several years ago, I read the story of a boy who was the favorite target of neighborhood bullies. To pay them back he decided to become an expert in one of the martial arts. He found a master/teacher who agreed to teach him the skills. The master said to the boy, “See the bookcase in the corner?” The boy nodded. “I want you to begin your training with me by taking each book off the shelf, dropping it on the floor, picking it up and putting it back on the shelf until you have completed that task with every book in the bookcase. Then you can leave and I’ll see you next week.” The boy made protestations saying there were at least a hundred books and he had come for training in the martial arts and not to pick-up books. The master left. For the next eight weeks, the same thing happened every week and the boy would protest and the master would leave. Each week, the boy thought about only picking up a few books and leaving, but he would think about the bullies so he did as he was instructed. On the tenth session, the master instructed him to do the same activity and this time he stayed and watched the boy. Half-way through the bookcase, the master said, ‘You have taken an important first step and you are now ready to take the next step.’ The boy stayed with the master for many weeks and became a champion in martial arts. And needless to say, he kicked some ass.

            You get the point. The training is key. That will take motivation, determination, and commitment and a willingness to do whatever it takes to master the skill of belly breathing. Each of you has your own challenges, but the breathing will be a key to healing.