Q: Do you have any tips for long term retrainers on how they can change their rounds to better suit the individual? What are the most key components of a round and what is the purpose? And do you actually need to do rounds to recover?
A: It is easy to end up on autopilot after we have been doing something repetitively over time. Rounds are no exception. Being on autopilot takes us away from being fully present and we don't get the same benefits from our rounds even though we are going through the same motions. To prevent this from happening, it is good to change up how you are doing your rounds after a period of time. You can do this by changing the wording to suit you (or make it more meaningful), choosing a different place to practice, or perhaps even coming up with your own version of rounds (as long as they incorporate the basic understandings). After doing rounds a long time, people can often shorten the first part of the rounds by simply saying "stop" or "cancel", recognizing its a false message, and stating an affirmation of wellbeing or proclamation. From here, they redirect into the present moment task and intentionally elevate their emotional state. The more time spent in elevated emotional states, the better off they are. This helps both the brain and the nervous system to rewire.
The first key component to rounds is being able to recognize when you need to do one. This comes from cultivating the curious observer and becoming familiar with your triggers & pops/ants. We can't interrupt what we aren't aware of, so cultivating your curious observer is crucial for recovery. Next, creating a pattern interrupt by saying "stop" or "cancel" and redirecting your brain is necessary to stop signalling the old pathways. Finally, elevating your emotional state reinforces alternative pathways and signals your nervous system that you are safe. In the initial stages of doing rounds, it is important to include memories to remind yourself of the positive experiences in the past (exceptions to the current state of being). As you continue to progress, mentally rehearsing positive future scenarios helps to prepare your brain for change. This can be done in the rounds, but it can also be done outside of the rounds on its own. So to recap, interrupting the old pattern, redirecting the brain, and elevating the emotions to reinforce alternative pathways are the key components.
I've worked with people who have recovered without rounds. They were great at catching pops/ants and elevating their emotions repetitively throughout the day. Others have done short rounds (5 mins or less) when needed combined with diligently catching pops/ants and elevating emotions as opposed to an hour of rounds a day. According to Gupta, some people have recovered solely through the meditation component of his program. While rounds are not necessary for recovery they are a great place to start.
Additionally, there comes a point in time where most retrainers transition out of doing rounds as they reach higher levels of recovery and instead turn their energy toward engaging in life while continuing to incorporate the key principles of brain retraining. Continuing to redirect the brain and elevate emotions in some form is crucial on an ongoing basis, even after we have recovered. Our brains never stop being neuroplastic so we want to make sure we are regularly reinforcing the good pathways.
Q: What are the important areas to focus on for recovery?
A: In addition to the points mentioned above, challenging yourself within your training zone followed immediately by redirecting your brain & changing your emotional state is important to change your brain's association with the things that trigger you. Being aware of and interrupting negative self talk and focus on symptoms is also required for full recovery. Some form of regularly calming/regulating your nervous system is also important. This can be achieved through rounds, meditation, or savouring elevated emotions.
Until next time!
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Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com