The quote relates to gaps in our knowledge about consciousness. It is taken from this short 3 minute film from the BBC which is a lovely introduction to the work of Dr Oliver Sacks, by himself, and his thoughts on the study of consciousness.
Now I know that people who read this blog are interested in some really diverse mind and body matters.
For whatever reason, one of the defining things about humanity is its infectious curiosity about the nature of existence and consciousness.
My recent readings around brain and heart have also included books by people on out of body experiences, epilepsy and spirituality.
Anything about these subjects is currently sparkly and eye-catching, so this week I was captivated by a BBC report on ‘The Lazarus Effect’. (1)
‘The Lazarus Effect’ (2) is a book about the heart and heart attacks, where new discoveries are changing the way that patients are being resuscitated.
When I was little, my mum had to go away to see my Granny after one of her many heart attacks.
Granny told mum that during the heart attack she was in a long tunnel, with what seemed to be a light at the end of it. Mum doesn’t know how long this experience lasted , but apparently Granny became aware that she may be very near leaving when she became conscious of people talking about how they had called my mum. My Granny thought that if my mum had been called then she would have to be there to see her. Somewhere in my Granny’s mind the seed of urgency to not slip away was planted. She came back to see my mum.
I was always really interested in this, and from reading around the subject I understand that a lot of people whose hearts stop report similar experiences.
‘Bringing people back from the Dead’, (1) BBC news report by William Kremer, links to a radio interview on the World service programme ‘Outlook’. This programme was about Carol Brothers who had a heart attack and was resuscitated after 45 minutes of CPR.(3)
It interviews Dr Sam Parnia Director of resuscitation research in a New York hospital and author of ‘The Lazarus Effect’. Cooling the body from 37C to 32C causes Brain cells to remain intact for up to 8 hours before they begin to deteriorate. The tricky stages of resuscitation are when oxygen is reintroduced to the brain, the cells become inflamed and cause swelling in the brain. Cooling the brain down causes the brain to slow down to such an extent that people can look brain dead for a long time, but actually be in stasis. This means that resuscitating the heart has now been possible for up to 4 to 5 hours after the heart stopping.
In relation to out of body experiences, Dr Parnia has collected many examples of people’s OBE’s (out of body experiences ) which range from tunnels of light, relatives coming to meet them, reliving their lives, re-living events that inflicted pain on others. Dr Parnia says that often when the patient returns to consciousness they have determined to live their lives in a different, changed and often fearless way. He says he believes that most people experience these types of experiences but that they are unlikely to remember due to the brain trauma or inflammation wiping their memory.
Interestingly these experiences have different meanings in different cultures or religious contexts so are interpreted in the context of the beliefs of each individual.
‘Proof of Heaven’ by Dr Eben Alexander (4) is a neurosurgeon’s Journey into the afterlife. Dr Alexander contracted bacterial E. coli meningitis and was in a coma for 7 days. He was not expected to survive but against the odds he woke up to recount his journey (which was quite a trip!) in his book. Dr Alexander was a complete sceptic until he experienced this for himself.
‘The Body Electric’ by Robert O. Becker and Gary Selden (5) was published in 1985 and challenged the notions of mechanistic medicine, in particular in its views around regeneration. Within this book there is a chapter titled ‘The Lazarus Effect’. This chapter describes the discovery in 1973 that a Salamander can regenerate its heart if it is cut in half or wounded from 30% to 50%. Such a large wound sparks a massive healing response in the salamander. The findings were published in Nature in 1974.
The cover of ‘The Body Electric’ says the book ‘explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena and healing.’
Back to heart resuscitation.
So to summarise, the medical model is changing in relation to heart resuscitation, the cooler the better.
I leave you with the thoughtful CPR intervention skills of Vinnie jones and the question- have you ever had an out of body experience?
3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016tn56 Outlook Carol Brothers ‘I was dead for 45 minutes’
I interrupt my normal range of blogging material to re-blog an application from Hilary ‘The Nomad Grad’ for support to get a job as a park ranger in OZ. She has quite a travel repatoir amongst her most memorable blog exploits has actually MET and spent a day with ‘The Muppets’. I wanted to show my support and encourage my fellow bloggers to join her media campaign. Good luck Nomad Grad. I hope you get your dream job!
her Muppet moments are here:
I recently had cause to dig out my copy of Oliver Sacks book Musicophilia and lend it to a friend, because she has started to volunteer for an organisation that is using singing to help people with Alzheimer’s. This improves memory, health and wellbeing.
For those of you that are interested the Alzheimer’s society project link is very interesting.
http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=760 and shows a video of the project and has links explaining what it is.
I know a lot of people who have said sound effects their epilepsy, I found this newspaper review that explains what Musicophilia has to say about Alzheimers and epilepsy.
If anyone wants to borrow my copy just let me now and I can lend it to you when it gets back to me!
‘Sacks tells some very moving stories about those with terrifyingly profound amnesia, or Alzheimer’s disease, for whom music can “restore them to themselves”. People with aphasia can be taught to speak again through singing. On the other hand, previously healthy people begin to have “musical hallucinations”, blasted by intrusive ghostly music during every waking second; and others have seizures in response to music, or “musicogenic epilepsy” – which, intriguingly, can be selective. One woman Sacks cites “had seizures only in response to ‘modern, dissonant music,’ never in response to classical or romantic music” – and her husband was a composer of the type of music that gave her seizures, which one suspects may be a hint. But such a violent response to certain music might be more common than suspected: “Many people, [one researcher thought], might start to get a queer feeling – disturbing, perhaps frightening – when they heard certain music, but then would immediately retreat from the music, turn it off, or block their ears, so that they did not progress to a full-blown seizure.” Indeed, certain styles of free jazz have always made me physically nauseous.’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/03/scienceandnature.music review Stephen Poole The Guardian Newspaper
I have been anicipating this post from Holistic yoga with Alyson for some time on the book by http://www.drdavidhamilton.com which I think is a great review of a book about ‘how your mind can heal your body’. Well worth checking out!
Over the winter new year break I received a pile of books from a friend who was having a clear out. One of them I read straight away: How your mind can heal your body by David Hamilton and I’ve meaning to blog about it for months because it’s very interesting, and has implications for our yoga practice, and our whole lives potentially.
At first glance my immediate reaction to the book and its title was ‘what nonsense’, but two things made me change my mind. One was that the title is a bit simplistic as the author does state several times that the mind can help heal the body and people should continue with their conventional medical treatment alongside adopting helpful mind-based approaches. The other reason was the extensive amount of research of human trials that he quotes that back up all his claims.
I think the book’s message…
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Thanks Aelana for this really interesting harp music therapy programme that looks at the relationship between the heart and music.
The site contains an interesting vimeo from the Institute of Heart Math about the heart and music. Good information on using biofeedback to train heart rate variability, and induce relaxation and healing in the body.
When we lose consciousness or die, the hearing is one of the last senses to go.
Maybe this is why music is so sacred.
This also spreads light on why chanting is so healing.
When we chant or sing we are soothing our hearts! 🙂
Harp playing relaxes, energizes, soothes, and heals the youngest of children and oldest of adults.
- Releases emotional pain
- Improves short-term memory and attention span
- Increases social interaction
- Builds self-esteem
- Relieves stress
Last week I went to listen to a polyphonic choir rehearse.
I was tired; really, really tired when I arrived.
My mind and my body were so exhausted that I was hardly able to move from the seat.
I sat behind the choir as they faced forward to sing. It is a position that you don’t normally hear from unless you are in the choir singing.
They started to rehearse.
The melodies that began to unfold washed over me like sunshine through rain drops.
If they were the sun, the rays of energy would have been spiralling out like solar flares, warming the solar system, gently curling around the heavenly bodies of the planets and out into the stars.
I had forgotten what it is like to be in a room with other people singing. It is so long since I sang in a choir.
It was like the molecules in the air became droplets of snow, falling down onto my skin, making my body tingle all over like keys on a piano.
The voices sang out and the songs rained down from the walls and the ceiling. The vibrations and harmonies could be felt through the soles of my feet from the wooden floor.
My hairs stood on end.
Every particle in the air was vibrating as the voices of the altos, tenors, bases, second sopranos and sopranos breathed in and out their sweet sounds.
I closed my eyes it was so relaxing, and in my mind I could see the patterns and lights like rays of sunshine flashing across my eyes.
The music made me feel alive and so peaceful.
It didn’t send me to sleep because the buzzing, tingling sensations that were left after they stopped singing carried on until I went to bed.
I was like having a spiritual shower.
I can understand why people experience music from their soul.
The voices really touched mine.
Their next concert is called ‘The Sacred and Profane’.
You can listen to some short excerpts from their songs at their website, but none of the ones I heard rehearsed. They were well worth listening to.
The Alternative Medicine Review Volume 12, Number 1 2007 published this excellent article by Alan R Gaby on epilepsy alternative natural treatments. It goes into the multiple variables including vitamins, minerals and hormones that surround epilepsy diet, and therapy such as Ketogenic and Atkins diet therapy. (great reading list at the back in the references!)
Useful information for all people with epilepsy with or without anticonvulsant medication.
A good example of epigenetic study into epilepsy diet. See here for full article:
Hoping that all readers (with or without epilepsy) are feeling beautiful today! I am feeling much better, thank- you Sita and Natalya.
‘Where’s your job you scrounger?’
I filled in all my forms,
The ones that said disabled,
The ones that said I’m worn.
I feel fatigue and lethargy from trailing JCP,
The department that plays ‘Vivaldi’ constantly at me.
I phoned up nearly thrice per day to say that I’m still ill,
The cancer in society wants me to foot the bill.
My debt to the economy,
The banks and to the lenders,
One more stat on the balance of
Does it matter that I’m broken,
That is all you see?
What employer do you really think,
Will want to employ me?
I tried the Big Society
I tried to volunteer,
‘Sorry love but we don’t want
Your sort round ‘ere.’
Out of work and out of place,
Not the first time it’s been bad
You can’t miss the things you dreamed of
The things you never had.
Take pills for all these ills,
So that I can numb the pain,
That society doesn’t want me
That I may never work again.
Give them the satisfaction
Of driving me to drink
Another excuse for the recession
Tea totalling on the brink.
Do you know who I am?
Do you even care?
Not really, Not in the slightest,
The books are balanced so it’s fair.
Loss of consciousness is infectious
Computer says no! ATOS Who?
See I said it was infectious
The computers got it two!
Big Society, I know you’re out there
And that Cameron thinks your ace
But, would you know equality
If it smacked you in the face?