Paul Mckenna – More Mind Medicine

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/paul-mckenna-i-can-make-you-better-8614417.html

I came accross this article in the Independent about how Paul Mckenna is currently using hypnosis techniques to ease trauma and health problems. The journalist said that he had one session with Mckenna and although  he wasn’t ‘Cured’ he slept better and felt more confident driving. He had been traumatized by being run over. He was still a bit sceptical but I thought it wasn’t bad for one session!

Have you ever used hypnosis for health?

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really interesting advanced cognitive neuroscience and application of gaming, mobile technology etc. Really cutting edge brain training!

Psyche's Circuitry

I just attended the second annual Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (ESCoNS) conference. Say that five times fast.  This conference brought together people in the gaming world with cognitive neuroscientists. I went because I’m developing (and testing) an app that I believe can help people reduce stress, worry, and anxiety in their lives. In addition to more deeply exploring how to make mental health truly fun, I felt that I was seeing the future of mental health unfolding before my eyes.

Gamifying mental health

Here are four ideas I think will change how the field of mental health will look in a decade (or less):

1. Mental health care WILL BE gamified. The mobile revolution and app zeitgeist have changed how we get things done. We want an app for everything because we want our life mobile and streamlined, and the minute we think we want to do something, we want…

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The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown

I watched this talk this evening and have to admit that I laughed, probably a bit too loudly, through this very touching Ted talk re-blogged by Dr Frank Lipman.  I have seen it before from Be Well and Happy.

For all my fellow onions out there, I think this is a really important and not often enough discussed topic which has cropped up a lot recently (see links).

For everyone  this weekend please share Brene’s Talk  on vulnerability as an idea worth spreading.

 

http://bewellandhappy.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/brene-brown-ted-talk-on-vulnerability/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/brene-brown-the-power-of-vulnerability/

http://fredphillips.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/the-beauty-and-benefits-of-vulnerability/

very interesting and relavent findings on gene expression and mental health.

deemagclinic

The biggest study yet into genetics and mental health has come up with a stunning result: The five most common mental illnesses — autism, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disease, schizophrenia and major depression — all have a common genetic root.

The finding, published in the journal Lancet on Wednesday, may eventually lead to a complete rewrite of the medical understanding of the causes of mental illness.

“We have been able to discover specific genetic variants that seem to overlap among disorders that we think of as very clinically different,” Dr. Jordan Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

The study does not explain every case of psychiatric disease, the researchers stress.

“We think this is one tiny fraction of the genetic component of these disorders. They involve hundreds and possibly thousands of genes,” Smoller said.

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Neurofeedback and Optimal Brain Function

Thank-you to http://ahmritanaturalmentalhealth.wordpress.com/ for this very interesting guest post. 🙂

Neurofeedback is a treatment which has evolved from Biofeedback. Many of you would have heard about this concept:

“…is a process that enables an individual to learn   how to change physiological activity for the purposes of improving health and   performance. Precise instruments measure physiological activity such as   brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature.   These instruments rapidly and accurately ‘feed back’ information to the user.   The presentation of this information — often in conjunction with changes   in thinking, emotions, and behavior — supports desired physiological   changes. Over time, these changes can endure without continued use of an   instrument.” Three   professional biofeedback organizations, the Association   for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), Biofeedback   Certification International Alliance (BCIA), and the International   Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR), arrived at a consensus   definition of biofeedback in 2008.Read more here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofeedback

The concept of Biofeedback has been practised for time immemorial by Yoga and Pranayama students and masters. Here in the west it has developed to its current form since the late 50’s and was very popular in the 80’s. Since then it has sadly somewhat disappeared from the popular radar again, as do so many worthy and non invasive natural therapies. Mostly due to funding issues in the ever ongoing effort of pharmaceutical companies to suppress what would outshine their products.

But back to topic – Neurofeedback – “Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses electroencephalography or fMRI to provide a signal that can be used by a person to receive feedback about brain activity.”

Research so far has been working in particular to prove its worth as a treatment of epilepsy, autism, headaches, insomnia, addiction problems and more, but its benefits can be felt by anyone who has suffered an emotional trauma.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurofeedback

However, you do not need to be diagnosed with a medical condition to benefit from this treatment, as it is designed to optimize brain function.

Like many I became aware of the biofeedback movement in the late 80’s, but never did much with it. By chance a friend of mine gave me a rather large voucher for a bookstore in 2007. One of the titles I bought was:

“The Healing Power of Neurofeedback”, (2006), by Stephen Larsen Ph.D. Healing Arts Press.

Which humbly and quietly sat in my bookshelf for three years, until I was hunting for something new to read during semester break. What I found in this book had me totally spell bound, a treatment called LENS Technique, developed by Len Ochs.

http://www.ochslabs.com/

After several hours of googling, I found a practitioner in Melbourne, who had recently migrated from Germany. I booked myself in for six treatments, which was explained to me as a usual course of treatment. Even though, the cost was not outrageous, I could instantly see, that it would be out of reach of exactly the majority of the population needing it – no medicare funding!

At the time stress levels in my life were approaching frantic on the stress meter, due to work, study and family commitments. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Well I was turning into a bit of a sleep deprived grouch 🙂

What I experienced even after the first treatment was sensational  (and lasting)– I became acutely aware of all the tension in my body; that I was holding a pen like a sword, my shoulders had taken up position at ear level and my breathing was shallow. By the time I got home after an hours city driving, I was in total and utter relaxation – of the ragdoll kind, but aware and alert, I felt fantastically at peace. I would recommend it to everyone!

Since, I found another practitioner of Neurofeedback – Dr. Shum, the Psychiatrist in Australia who has also helped develop Subconscious Freedom Technique

http://au.blurb.com/search/site_search?search=Subconscious+Freedom+Therapy

During LENS treatments you sit relaxed in a comfy chair, the practitioner connects several tiny electrodes and you can keep an eye on your heart and breathing rate on a screen. While treatment was going on I was watching a lot of David Attenborough nature documentaries, which I found helped the relaxation tremendously. At no point was there any discomfort or difficulty. The positive outcomes kept piling up, I was able to relax again, sleep better, manage my workload better and generally felt a fair bit more human friendly, which is a big plus when you work in Mental Health.

I would really like to encourage you to get the book, have a look at the websites and contact a practitioner in your area – no amount of me raving on about how greatly it helped me can substitute having your own experience.

Ahmrita’s blog is based at http://ahmritanaturalmentalhealth.wordpress.com/

for further information on nautral mental health many topics.

One Moment At A Time – What Is MBSR And Who Is Jon Kabat-Zinn?

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Jon Kabat-Zinn(1) (2)

In search of mindfulness I have been following the progress of mindfulness teaching locally and have been pleasantly surprised recently with the numbers of classes advertised.

A couple of weeks ago I saw one that was titled ‘Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction’ and was intrigued.

Another article in January/February Scientific American Mind 2013 related to mindfulness; it is titled ‘Focus on Your-self to Alleviate Social Pain’. The article discusses the benefits of mindfulness for pain, stress, anxiety and depression, but also how a new study recently that has shown it reduces feelings of loneliness or social isolation. Mindfulness was also shown to reduce inflammation and the risk of heart attacks.

So where did all this research start and why is there so much interest in mindfulness for health?

Taking to you-tube (as you do) I came across this one titled ‘The Healing Power of Mindfulness’.(1)

It has sparked my interest in Jon Kabat-Zinn who talks about his life and how at college he was one of 5 students who went to see a monk lecture on this topic. During the lecture he describes how he had one of those ‘Ah-ha!’ moments as he realised that what he had just been taught to do should be something that everyone gets to learn in kindergarten.

‘Being in the moment’ sounds like something we all could benefit from, but how many of us are actually present without our mobile phone, computer, television or radio?

I am sitting here with the computer and a phone so I am clearly not a shining example of being present within myself just right now.

When do we ever switch off?

Something else I am interested in is the research into ‘neuroplasticity’.  Jon Kabat-Zinn studied molecular biology in 1971 at MIT.

In the film he talks about how studies have now gone on to show that not only is the mind plastic but so are genes, and he describes how the corrosive acid of stress wears down our DNA causing problems within the body. Mindfulness meditation research is showing that this can be stopped and reversed.

He has been teaching and studying the effects of mindfulness since 1979 and is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Although watching you-tube isn’t always a mindfulness practice, I was really relaxed and centered when I had finished watching, and participating at one point(audience participation!), spending time with this innovative out of the box thinker talking about his life’s work with mindfulness.

I hope you feel that you can take the time to watch him as well, and perhaps take away some of his mindful thoughts and experiences on the benefits of being present in the mind and body.

You come from nothing, you go back to nothing, it’s what you do in between that matters. Don’t you want to always be present?

(For people in the area there are some good classes advertised at the Treehouse if you are looking for a teacher http://www.treehousewales.co.uk/ )

1)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_If4a-gHg_I

2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn

‘Disability is a crushed spirit’ as defined by Aimee Mullins –‘Ability’ or ’Disability’ what is it all about?

For me disability is about education and empowerment. Of myself and others.

Not talking about disability, in my case epilepsy, leads to fear and ignorance, it creates taboo and prejudice.

Not embracing epilepsy or disability as a part of me would be to deny my whole self. Until it sits alongside me as my reflected other half I am not whole.

Treating disability with a ‘Fight Club’ mentality (The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club) (1) will not lead to health (you only have to watch the film to see how destructive this type of thinking can be! (2)).

Disability for me is about acceptance of myself, but in the wider social context to be accepted by society would be the ideal.

Not accepting our differences leads to disharmony within the self and society.

There is a fine line between ‘accepting’ and ‘labelling’ disability. It is about how we see ourselves as much as how others see us.

http://www.drfranklipman.com/aimee-mullins-redefines-the-word-disabled/

Frank Lipman’s blog about Aimee Mullins is one of my favourite posts from 2012. In it she talks about all the disempowering negative language that is associated with the word ‘disability’, and gives her new definition.

One of the most frustrating things about having epilepsy is people who tell me I’m sick. Actually, they often never get as far as the word disability, I am ‘sick’.

Disability its self is a big label to be handing out, but sickness!

Normally, I might add, my personal experience of the word ‘sickness’ is that it is banded about in the context of work!

I am NOT sick, I am not DEAF, I am epileptic, but I am capable, I am intelligent and I can use my voice and prove everyone who ever said I can’t do something that they are wrong about me! I don’t define myself by my disability but it really did help to make me who I am today.

‘Disable’, (verb)

To crush a spirit, to withdraw hope, to deflate curiosity, to promote an inability to see beauty, to deprive of imagination, to make abject.

Ant.  To make poss-able

Aimee Mullins 2009 new (and better!) Thesaurus  2009 Edition

Here she is in her TED talk, which is titled ‘The Opportunity of Adversity’.

She’s my heroine.

1)      http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/quotes

2)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight_Club

Stanford Epilepsy Centre – Ammunition to Understand Epilepsy

http://neurology.stanford.edu/divisions/e_videos.html

Follow the link to find lots of videos about epilepsy, and also a great resource centre with many other articles and information at Stanford School of Medicine and Neurology and Neurological Sciences.

Insight into Stroke – Jill Bolte Taylor Ph.D.

S = SPEECH, or any problems with language

T = TINGLING, or any numbness in the body

R = REMEMBER, or any problems with memory

O =OFF BALANCE, problems with coordination

K = KILLER HEADACHE

E = EYES, or any problems with vision

Stoke is a medical emergency call 911 US or 999 UK

I first saw Jill Bolte Taylor on TED talks. I was captivated by her moving insight into how she as a neuroanatomist perceived the experience of having a stoke. How it had given her access to the right side of her brain.

Last week I was in a book shop and saw her book ‘My stroke of insight, A brain scientists personal journey’(1). I saw her name on the cover and immediately realising it was written by this lady from the TED talk I purchased the book.

There is something very reassuring about reading about other people’s brain experiences. It really helps to make sense of mine.

Having a person with intimate knowledge of the architecture of the mind, talk step by step through what parts stop working and how the symptoms are interpreted is very helpful.  It has assisted in my own understanding of what could possibly be causing changes in awareness and ability.

The most important part of the book for anyone to read and understand is about how she recovered.

Jill became a neuroscientist because her brother had schizophrenia. She wanted to understand why and I think also to see if there was a cure.

At 37 she had a stroke.

It took her 8 years to get back to where she was pre- stroke, the only brain cells that were completely destroyed by the stroke were her mathematics cells. Despite this she had to re-learn everything.

There were several parts of her recovery that resonated highly with me.

First, she emphasised how important it is to honour the body’s need to sleep and just sleep when she needs to.

Second, that one of her greatest lessons was how to feel the physical component of emotion.

Jill was experiencing sensory overload after her stoke. Everything was overwhelming, light, noise , other people.

Because Jill was recovering she was learning how to deal with these emotions for the first time and had to learn to choose how to deal with them. If she didn’t like the way it felt she chose not to let it back into her neural loops. She says paying attention to what emotions feel like has completely shaped her recovery. She realised she was in charge of how she chose to perceive her experience. Little Windmill posted a really good story about Alexander the great and a yogi and anger which illustrates this; http://littlewindmillyoga.com/2012/12/05/alexander-the-great-meets-a-yogi/

In relation to medication, post- surgery she had to take Dilantin for 2 years afterwards in case she had a seizure. Her biggest complaint about this was that she didn’t know what it felt like to be ‘me’ anymore and says that she is more sensitive to why some people would choose insanity over the side effects of antipsychotic medications.

Physically, she talks about the importance of exercising her muscle groups, walking , massage and acupuncture treatment which helped her to identify her physical boundaries. One of the side effects of her stroke was that she felt ‘fluid’ and very much a part of the universe.

The part of this story that is most important is that Jill shows you can recover from a stroke.

It is not necessary to experience a stroke to find inner peace. We can choose left or right brain talk, and although she acknowledges that in cases of serious mental illness this may not be possible, I am very much behind her on her mission that choosing inner peace is an idea worth spreading.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

1)      http://www.mystrokeofinsight.com/

 

Another Rare Drugs Free Sighting! Flying without wings – someone who got off anticonvulsants!

I am very excited!

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about ‘Epilepsy drugs free – is it possible to fly without wings?’

This was about the one and only person I have ever read about managing epilepsy without anticonvulsant medication.

BUT I am happy to announce I was wrong!

There is MORE than one!

I have discovered a blogger who has recorded her journey towards anticonvulsant free epilepsy management and put it online!

It’s like Christmas! Well it nearly is in 3 weeks!

The link to the blog is here:

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

The blog, somewhat ambitiously titled ‘The Epilepsy Cure’ (Well why not reach for the stars?) Caught my eye straight away!

The first blog is January 2009

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/2009_01_01_archive.html

And describes how the journey began.

The final blog is September 2011

http://epilepsycure.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=12

In a nutshell this medical student blogged her way through coming off medication and has road tested nearly every natural therapy for epilepsy known to mankind. Not only that but at the end she and her partner are about to become 3!

Not a nearly extinct species either!

She emphasises this is not a guide, and that anyone reading should do their own research, but it really is a good read!

Enjoy!