Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Stroke of Insight–and a Message

stroke bookOne morning when she was 37 years old, Jill Bolte Taylor lost much of her mind. A malformed artery-vein junction in the left hemisphere of her brain burst open, flooding surrounding brain cells with blood that is toxic when not where it’s supposed to be.

Over the next few hours, as various left-hemisphere functions faded in and out and then shut down, it became quiet inside her head. No more chattering voice-of-me analyzing, judging, building anxiety, anger and fear. No more awareness, as well, of being separate. Just right-hemisphere peace and the bliss of being one with the energy of the universe.

However, Taylor was a PhD brain scientist, and she realized she was having a major stroke; bliss or no bliss, she was in serious difficulty. She managed to summon help—and then she spent the next eight years rebuilding her left-brain functions, including the “self” that had words and boundaries and could function in a world where past and future and other linear concepts matter.

She did quite a good job. In 2006, she published a book that became a bestseller, “My stroke of Insight.” In it, she offered hope and advice to stroke patients and their caregivers. However, she had a message for the rest of us, too: We can all get a taste of the bliss she experienced during her stroke by learning to “step to the right”—by choosing to cut off the negative chatter that our highly trained logical, analytical left hemispheres are so good at coming up with and accessing the deep peace that she says is the nature of the here-and-now, non-verbal right hemisphere. Continue reading

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Reshaping Weight Issues

Fat dust?

Fat dust?

NOTE: This post is actually a talk I gave at the Institute of Qigong and Integrative Medicine gathering “Tea and Chi” this past weekend. “Ryan” is IQIM acupuncturist Ryan Lilly, and the full name of his class is “Weight Management and Healthy Living Through Chinese Medicine.”

When I saw the flyer for Ryan’s class on weight management at the Institute’s picnic this summer, I was taken aback.

Weight management? Wasn’t that a little frivolous for the Institute? I mean, we’re serious people. We’re not about sculpting svelte silhouettes; we’re about curing major diseases and striving to attain enlightenment and immortality.

If you become an immortal, what does it matter if you’re a little chubby? The robes those guys wear hide quite a lot.

Anyway, those were my first thoughts.

My next thought was, so where’s the sign-up sheet.

Because there wasn’t one. You had to e-mail Ryan to register. Which I did that evening.

For me it wasn’t just about the 10 or 15 pounds that seem to love me more than I love them. It was about 60 years of spending an enormous amount of energy fighting food and fat.

Few days have gone by when I haven’t stressed about my weight or about eating too much, except, of course, the days when I decided it was OK to eat anything and everything because I’d be starting a diet in the morning.

Since I’ve generally weighed 5 to 25 pounds more than I‘ve thought I should, I’ve engaged in a whole lot of negative self-talk around food.

It gets old. I sometimes think that if I’d spent the energy I’ve spent fighting fat doing something more constructive, I might have achieved something really amazing. Maybe not world peace, but something worthwhile enough to be mentioned in my obituary.

But let me tell you a little about the class. Continue reading

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A Rash Is a Rash Is a ???

When is itching, plus a rash, merely the releasing of toxins and negative energies from the body—and when is it shingles?

On a Friday, I had a headache—I called it a sinus headache—and then Saturday, my shoulder began itching fiercely. Actually, it was the outer portion of my back on my left side at about armpit level—one of those places it’s darned tough to see, even in the mirror.

On Sunday morning, it looked liked I might have a rash. By Sunday evening, the itching had abated, I could see several red spots, and the area felt vaguely numb, vaguely uncomfortable, vaguely shinglesque. (And I do know shingles because I had a mild case 20 years ago.)

So what was it?

On the one hand, rashes and itching can result from energy work—or at least so I’ve read and heard from other people.

On the other hand, because I had chickenpox as a child, I am always eligible for shingles, even though I presumably have some immunity from my long-ago case of shingles and more recent shot of shingles vaccine.

I didn’t know whether to view my itching and rash as a qigong phenomenon or an issue I should address via western medicine. Continue reading

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