Vajra Blue

Mindfulness and Compassion. Understanding trauma in young people.


Mindfulness and the brain.

Freedom is about having choice.  If I am aware of my automatic reactions to experience as they arise, then I can take a breath, creating a space for something new.  I can choose a response in that moment, one that reflects the version of me that I aspire to be.

Stacie Smith

The brain is a highly complex organ that makes a contribution to nearly every aspect of the body’s functioning; from awareness of where we are in space, to highly complex thought, to consciousness itself.

It contains about seventy-five billion nerve cells, each of which can make roughly a thousand connections with other neurons. There are about the same number of support cells as well.

Because it is so vital to human functioning the brain is well protected inside the skull.

The evolution of the brain that has occurred over the last several million years has enabled the human species to go from being prey animals to the top predator on the planet.
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The eyes have it where depression is concerned?

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The eyes are the windows to the soul.
William Shakespeare

Depression can vary from a mild annoyance to a life threatening illness.  Those of us who have been in it’s clutches, would gladly escape any further experiences of Churchill’s Black Dog, and much time and effort has been spent in searching for ways to effectively treat the first episode  of the disorder and hopefully to prevent recurrence.
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How to start the move from depression to happiness.

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I’m sure many of us care about how we will look back on our lives on our deathbed, but the value of our lives comes from the experiences of pleasure and purpose over our lifetimes and not from a judgement we might make at an arbitrarily chosen moment in time.

Paul Dolan.

Most of us want to avoid depression and to be happy. Happiness is something that we pursue with varying degrees of intensity. There are even greater variations in the success that we have in pursuing this Holy Grail of the emotional world. Much of the time we do not even seem to be aware of what we mean by happiness, and seem to have even less idea of how we might possess it. Continue reading


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The authenticity gap: Are trans people really ‘real’?

People are just people.
Why do some people seem to have a problem with that?
Let’s make 2015 a year to end hatred and discrimination against those who are causing no one any problems, other than those they generate for themselves through ignorance and fear.
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a gentleman and a scholar

It’s far enough into January that most of us have had time to break the usual New Year’s resolutions, if we bother to make them at all. But for all the cis (non-trans) people reading this, I have a challenge for you – one that would actually make a real difference.

Do you genuinely believe that trans people are as authentic, as real, as you are?

Maybe that seems like an odd question to ask. I’m not the first trans person to say that 2014 felt like a transformative year for trans rights: greater public awareness, more mainstream support, a broader understanding of what it is to be trans, and of why it’s wrong to discriminate against us. Laverne Cox was all the rage, Janet Mock’s debut book achieved critical and commercial success, and here in the UK our most prominent children’s channel broadcast a programme made by trans kids…

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5 ways to make your resolutions stick

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It is that time of year when we all usually decide that we need to change something about ourselves. We drink too much, we are killing ourselves through smoking or eating too much chocolate. We were going to exercise more, cycle to work or get better at being organised.

Somehow we usually seem to find something that we can use to beat ourselves up. We are not good enough, so we must stop doing something in order to make ourselves better people. Very occasionally we meet people who do not make negative resolutions, but instead make resolutions that are positive. They choose to take up more sensible ways of behaving or decide to do something new.

Somehow, these people seem to be able to carry through on their decisions much more effectively, whatever new habit they have decided to adopt.
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Transition is not death

Something to think about at the time of year when generosity is celebrated.
Please walk in someone else’s moccasins for a while.
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a gentleman and a scholar

We need a better way to talk about trans children.

Christmas is the hardest time of the year for me. Not for the reasons why it’s so hard for so many trans people – their reasons first, and then mine.

This time of year brings it home – in mundane, everyday little ways – that trans people are so often people without families. Or, rather, without families of origin – by necessity, we’ve become adept at building our families of choice.  A facebook status asking for a donation to help homeless trans teenagers, or a recommendation for a trans-friendly shelter for victims of domestic violence – overwhelming numbers of empathetic responses rooted in experience. Invitations to alternative festive events, on days when most people are expected to find themselves with parents, grandparents, the in-laws. Survival guide blog posts for those trying to face their family of origin – knowing that…

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Thinking: the fault lies in our logic – not in our stars

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Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.

Alan Alda

Thinking is a three-step process.
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Depression: When your teenager sings the blues?

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It has been said that one of the reasons that teenagers in the western world struggle, is because there are no clear rites of passage to mark their transition from childhood to adult responsibilities. No cattle jumping ceremonies, no circumcision rituals, no going walkabout.

Instead, there seems to have been the almost random selection of a particular birthday to mark the start of adulthood.  The age at which this happens has changed over the years, from celebrating the twenty-first birthday in my parents’ day when we were given the key to the door, to the eighteenth birthday in my youth – where I was among the first group of 18 year olds able to vote in Britain. At the moment there is talk of reducing this age of transition even further to sixteen.

One of the reasons for this long period of transition is the long period of education and training necessary for young people to learn all the knowledge, and skills, required to function in the modern world. This has become necessary because of the move away from a traditional, predominantly rural, hand-made world – one where there were clear boundaries between child and adult – to the modern industrial and digital age, where adolescence has become a long, drawn out affair, stuck in a twilight zone between the two.

In a world where many of the old certainties have gone, young people are struggling to develop a strong sense of identity and to grow to maturity in a world of rapid change. A world where technologies become obsolete almost as soon as they are introduced.

Most seem to cope well with this period of adolescent development, but a sizeable minority struggle, threatening to drown in this stormy sea of change and uncertainty. It is this group of young people who are at the highest risk of developing a depressive syndrome, with all the problems that this can bring to their future emotional, social, and personal development.

It is this group who would benefit from extra support and help in negotiating the transitional process.

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Only connect.

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At the holiday season many of us choose to visit family and friends.  

For many this is a time of joy, when we reconnect with our families and remember why we are alive.

For others it is a time of dread when long-standing tensions and difficulties with our  relationships are brought to the surface, usually accompanied by alcohol fuelled dys-control.  

Quite often we may say things that we did not mean and end up exacerbating the situation, and worsening our relationships, and making ourselves unhappy with a further burden of ill will to carry into the new year.

This is a great shame.  
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Social Exclusion: bullying, stigma, and being different.

image As members of the human species we are, by our very nature, social animals. We evolved living in groups, our hunter gatherer lifestyle meant that we were seldom, if ever, alone. Because of this we tend to go into a physical and mental decline if we are denied contact with our fellow humans. A strong, supportive social network of family and friends is one of the main protectors against stress.

It should therefore come as no surprise, that research has demonstrated strong emotional responses to both being excluded from the group, or being forced to exclude others from the group. This could be something as simple as being briefly involved in a game with strangers in the park, only for them to suddenly just carry on as if you were not there, to the deliberate ostracism that occurs when bullies get to work in schools, or whole societies make artificial divisions among people. These emotional responses can also come into play where groups are socially excluded or isolated as part of a deliberate policy, or unintentionally, when forces such as institutional racism come into play.

There are very good reasons why solitary confinement has been used as a punishment or form of torture for thousands of years.

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