interesting reflections on left and right brain experience, yoga and head injury.

Work from the other side

IMG_1545A coworker of mine recently fell backwards in her chair and hit her head.  Hard.  So hard she had to spend the night in the hospital and take a long break from work.  Six weeks later, she still needs to remain quiet, but she and I have been emailing each other.

The scrambling of her brain has had some positive effects, she says.  It has basically changed her mind.  For a while she could not think of the words she wanted to use, and the speech she did muster up came forth painfully slow.  She’d get headaches from slight efforts to think and communicate.  But she also felt a great deal of peace.

Have you ever heard Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk on Ted.com?  She is a brain researcher who had a stroke and relates the story of how her left brain went off line while her right brain came on…

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Recovery – Living the Experience of Hope

more about recovery, this time recovery from mental illness which is not given enought advertising or promotion. A lovely post from a mental health advocate about a mental health advocate.

Ignite Your Life Though Action

I have found the link to this video in my spam folder, boy am I glad I checked it out. The message of Hope and Recovery from a Mental Illness Diagnosis from someone who has lived it, is a ‘must share’ to encourage everyone not to give up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_FolgAZ3YuU

 

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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!

This reblog post about a gulf war veteran who never gave up and the transformation that happened when he found the yoga teacher who helped him to believe in himself.

Reading Without Limits

Got Grit? Watch this inspiring video of a veteran who used yoga to not only walk again, but find hope. Teaching the soft skill of grit is essential is important, according to author Paul Tough who profiles KIPP Infinity Charter school in his new book How Children Succeed. I thought that this video would be useful in classrooms who are interested in sharing the power of grit with their students. How would you use the clip?

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Health Problems and Emotional Wellbeing – Prevention Not Cure

In his forward to Chinese Medical Qigong page 1 (1) Marc S. Micozzi M.D. PHD states “current political debates in the US about healthcare “reform” amount only to “rearranging the deck chairs on the SS Titanic”.

Personally I would extend this description of healthcare to Britain as well, because in my experience current welfare and NHS “reform” amounts to the same superficial, short sighted rearrangement. (2)

In global economic recession poverty and therefore health problems are on the rise.

In the book ‘Violence, inequality and human freedom’ by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe; ‘structural violence’ is described as ‘violence of institutions’, ‘for example, violence can be an outcome of how we have organised society in terms of access to basic necessities of survival’ (3). The implications of which are limited access to medical care and education for the poor.

In the wake of the economic sinking ship there is the question; how to tackle health problems when poverty is on the rise?

The NICE Guidelines for clinical excellence (4) lay out the ‘stepped approach’ for mental health problems and recommend therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling and access to health care services which should be available to combat common mental health disorders. NICE lays out all guidelines for healthcare in Britain.

It is unfortunate that the resources to provide for these guidelines are being cut, or in some cases are simply not there at all (5). Additionally changes to the benefit system are being made which negatively impact upon the emotional health of the sick and disabled (6).

The situation is not helped by competition for the little work that is available. It is easier to manage health with an income and something to occupy the mind such as a job, in my experience.

What possible solutions are there to these problems?

Could the application of systems theory (7) be the beginning of change in bringing information about health to the masses?

In her book ‘Your Health is Your Wealth’, Jacqueline Harvey appears to be supporting the view that self-education and self-care and responsibility are the way forward in terms of a long term solutions to integrative health. (8)

I support this whole heartedly, as in my experience holistic health practices such as yoga (9) and tai chi (10) are very beneficial for health and promote self-care and self-education. They encourage the exploration of body, nutrition/diet and psychological personal development.

It would be nice to think that children have the opportunity to access these types of exercises and mindfulness practices, as well as physical education and sports so that in the future they did not need to access Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (11) for health conditions like personality disorder. DBT has some basis in Buddhist mindfulness practice. Would it therefore be cost effective to build mindfully based approaches to health into the education and health system from an early age?

In the circumstances the building of networks, social or otherwise, and communities on a local, national and worldwide scale; made up of existing established resources, practices and health resources seem like the way forward in tipping the balance towards preventing health problems and managing conditions.

I think I am a little bit ‘evangelical’ about promoting personal health care exploration.

God bless the World Wide Web.

And finally:http://www.drfranklipman.com/motivation-and-personality/ an after thought but very relevent.

References

(1) Chinese Medical Qigong – Editor in Chief: Tianjun Liu, OMD Associate Editor in Chief: Kevin W Chen, Ph.D.

(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/vincent-brogan/private-healthcare-and-th_b_1909057.html?utm_hp_ref=health-and-social-care-bill

(3) Violence, Inequality and Human Freedom by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe ISBN:0-7425-1923-6 Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc

(4) http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13476/54520/54520.pdf

(5) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/11/benefit-reforms-penalise-disabled-people

(6) http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/FailedByTheSystemReport.pdf

(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory

(8) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Health-Is-Wealth/dp/1401916287

mine came free with http://www.ommagazine.com/ October 2012

(9) http://littlewindmillyoga.com/2012/10/21/yoga-the-ultimate-freedom-trailer/

(10)                    http://www.taichimaster.com/tai-chi/the-tai-chi-tipping-point/

(11)                    http://www.priory.com/dbt.htm

Epilepsy and fear – Why Shiatsu?

“Transformation happens when we live through the experience of deep fear. Seeing fear as a signal to hide in some realm of safety prevents our connection to what lies behind our self-identity. When we ignore parts of ourselves, or the world, in response to fear, we insist on too small an identity. If we are lucky those ignored parts will come knocking at our door revealing what appears menacing to be actually some part of ourself which we cannot yet accept as our own. “

Bridgette Ludwig Shiatsu Society Journal Autumn 2012

Health problems bring us closer to fear. They remind us we are not immortal.

One problem of living with epilepsy is that there is the fear. The fear of when the next seizure will come. The fear of not waking up.  Spending waking moments wondering about black out or experienceing altered states of consciousness? Fear of loosing control or having no control over the way life opens out. It is hard to plan ahead when there is no guarantee that seizures won’t get in the way.

Coping mechanisms for this type of problem can allow us to carry on and live life to the maximum. Feeling grounded and centred in the body is helpful to remind us that we are ’in our bodies’ rather than ‘out of our bodies’ in the sense of unconscious and disconnected by the experience of living through a seizure.

The power of touch in particular, in this example shiatsu, can bring us back into our bodies and help us to realign with life following disconnection brought about by seizures.

It is important that coping mechanisms don’t become our prison. Change is the essence of moving through and forward through fear.

Without fear there would be no control. We instinctively look to control our lives but is there any control when none of us can be certain what will happen next?

Fear cripples if it is not challenged.

Only when we challenge the fear does it loose its power and therefore the control it has over us.

“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.”
Buddha

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/fear.html#6JqP39s9pl2Qk8SL.99

Shiatsu is a holistic therapy which utilizes healing touch and treats the whole person mind, body and spirit.

Read more about it at:

http://www.shiatsusociety.org/content/about-shiatsu