Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Healing Power of My Navajo Jewelry

I have had great success treating my OCD ruminations with Navajo jewelry -- not through any mystical properties of the gemstones (BTW, Hypno-Don doesn't poo-poo that), but rather through a tried-and-true CBT technique of refocused attention/redirection.

Obsessive thoughts or ruminations are one of the most disturbing and tiresome hallmarks of the OCD/Anxiety Disorder spectrum.

There's a well-known technique to remind you not to continue ruminating, which depends on being able to reroute your thoughts. You put a rubber band around one wrist, and when you find yourself ruminating -- snap it, and redirect your thoughts. Do it often enough, the theory goes, and you'll learn to stop yourself.

Snap it!

For a time, I tried this rubber band technique, with only limited success, and  I've  since discovered a much more appealing variation on the redirection technique.

The last year or so, I've taken to wearing beautifully hand-crafted Navajo gemstone and silver jewelry on my neck, hands, and wrists.

Whenever I experience a worrisome thought that is creeping in, or even an uncomfortably idle moment, I can easily redirect myself by contemplating the sublime esthetic qualities of  wearable art.

I can focus my attention on my jewelry anytime I please, avoiding the "on-time, right now," schedule-keeping angst created by looking at a wristwatch. I can instead enjoy the timeless beauty and long-time tradition of this rock-steady artform.

I also find it a much-needed counterbalance to our quick-paced, ever-changing, disposable, techno-world with its wretched excess of  planned-obsolesence. Instead, I experience the sublime sensation of  "flow."

This looks much classier than a rubber band, right? Of course, nice things cost money...

The heavy jewelry also makes me aware of my somtosensory system, and grounds my feelings...

From Wiki:

The somatosensory system is a diverse sensory system comprising the receptors and processing centers to produce the sensory modalities such as touch, temperature, proprioception (body position), and nociception (pain). The sensory receptors cover the skin and epithelia, skeletal muscles, bones and joints, internal organs, and the cardiovascular system.

While touch (also called tactile perception or tactual perception) is considered one of the five traditional senses, the impression of touch is formed from several modalities. In medicine, the colloquial term "touch" is usually replaced with "somatic senses" to better reflect the variety of mechanisms involved.

Somatic senses are sometimes referred to as somesthetic senses, with the understanding that somesthesis includes touch, proprioception and (depending on usage) also haptic perception.

The system reacts to diverse stimuli using different receptors: thermoreceptors, nociceptors, mechanoreceptors and chemoreceptors. Transmission of information from the receptors passes via sensory nerves through tracts in the spinal cord and into the brain. Processing primarily occurs in the primary somatosensory area in the parietal lobe of the cerebral cortex.

The cortical homunculus was devised by Wilder Penfield.

At its simplest, the system works when activity in a sensory neuron is triggered by a specific stimulus such as heat; this signal eventually passes to an area in the brain uniquely attributed to that area on the body—this allows the processed stimulus to be felt at the correct location.

The point-to-point mapping of the body surfaces in the brain is called a homunculus and is essential in the creation of a body image. This brain-surface ("cortical") map is not immutable, however. Dramatic shifts can occur in response to stroke or injury.

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