Because I have lots of experience in brain health self-experiments and I love learning about ancient and modern remedies and research for such things, I have decided to create the Plain Alchemy Brain Series. Welcome to Week 1, people!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the brain and its innate trainability. I am partly talking about neuroplasticity.
This is hopeful.
I come from a history of deep neurological issues that manifest in various ways. When I’m out of balance, I don’t have digestive issues or chronic fatigue or acne. However, any number of neurological symptoms manifest. This imbalance, at its most dramatic, takes the form of a grand mal seizure. It can also look like severe mood swings, drastic ups and downs, migraine headaches, or funny tingling sensations in my brain. Sometimes it even looks like a strange optic disturbance in my field of vision — my surroundings moving up and down in tiny bursts.
When I was first diagnosed with this scary word — epilepsy — nearly twelve years ago, I was told by the doctor that was treating me that this would be a lifelong thing. Even if long periods of seizure-free time lapsed, I would inevitably seize again. Or, at least, be stuck with this label forever.
I decided to reject the above assertion. I have endured long periods of time wherein a seizure happens — like clockwork — every two or three months. I have also enjoyed periods of seizure-free time as luxurious as four years. I’ve learned from being inside this strange energy that the brain really is trainable. Seizures beget seizures. My brain started to get used to firing at those intervals. No seizures beget no seizures. The pathways aren’t there and it becomes more difficult for the brain to forge new pathways.
It’s a scary and liberating thing — making the decision to take the fate of your brain/health into your own hands. So, how did I go about un-training my brain to seize? That’s where the grand experiments began. I will discuss more about my specific experiments in brain health in future posts. For now, I want to broaden this discussion to say that this train/un-train thing can work for or against any hurdle.
Things come up. Life happens and unravels some of the training. However, one thing has persisted in proving effective — habits. Rituals. Everyday commitments. Examples of commitments to self: I will drink 40 oz of water daily upon waking. I will not eat refined sugar. I will get at least eight hours of sleep each night. I will meditate. I will think before I re-act.
On and on.
The shoe drops sometimes and when it does, I decide to add something else to the mix or take something away. I aim to pay attention to gross energy cues (am I tired? hungry? sad?) and subtle energy cues (do I feel weird? is my brain foggy?). I might add CBD oil or slice out some of the self-created drama.
Inevitably, the body, mind, and spirit benefit from these brain trainings. And I felt moved to write this at the moment because I’ve been experiencing some erratic moods and sadnesses. I truly believe and feel that neurological symptoms are inextricably linked to bodily and emotional ones. I try to pay attention to and nurture all of these. However, sometimes I slip up. It’s okay. The training/un-training is always available. If you want to discuss this more, please write to me or schedule a Plain Alchemy Session. I would love to meet you!
Image: Joan Jonas, Mirror Piece 1, 1969.