I have spent the last 30 years practicing, learning, studying and sharing what I can about meditation. Briefly, I began my practice of self-hypnosis at age 12, and basically never stopped. I’ve had book information, informal mentors, closeted practice, formal institutionalized training and spiritual training. All of it has served me, not to be super-human or “enlightened,” but simply to cope and recover from a host of bizarre physical experiences.
These have included: temporarily blindness in one eye at age 11, hit by lightning at 15, temporarily blindness in both eyes at 19, blacking out and having seizures most of my life and flat-lining on at least four documented occasions.
It is exactly the culmination of my experiences that has led me to find a way to communicate to others just how vital meditation is to one’s wellbeing and basic survival. The mystics know what they know, but the layperson sometimes needs an explanation, a rationale and a way to buy-in. I believe David Perlmutter and Alberto Villoldo have presented one of the best explanations I’ve ever come across in their recent book, Power Up Your Brain, The Neuroscience of Enlightenment.
This is my cliff’s notes version in hopes you will find your own buy-in and continue your practice or begin a meditation practice.
Stress, trauma and the health perils associated with those states all begin and get perpetuated in the limbic brain, which is comprised of the hippocampus, hypothalamus and amygdale. These are responsible for making our emotional connections outside of logic, taking snapshots of life, creating our dream state experiences, turning on our fight-or-flight response, and storing and delivering emotional information independent of time. The limbic system cannot discern past, present or future—each “picture” it accesses is experienced by the body as though it’s current.
Once the limbic brain jumps into reaction mode to a perceived threat, it floods the body with a host of hormones and chemicals designed for quick use, and then total dissipation. The threat could be as real as an oncoming car, or as perceived as the disappointment you might feel if you fail at something. Adrenaline and cortisol run rampant and then keep the hippocampus in alert mode—eventually damaging the very mechanism designed to turn off those chemicals. Hippocampus damage can result in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and many other neurologically compromising diseases. As the hippocampus keeps the limbic brain engaged, any stress pattern or “picture” keeps running in the body as though it’s still happening. The result of this is a continual heightened level of stress that eventually can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
How does one turn off the limbic brain? There are some key ways.
1. Diet—eating healthy foods and reducing one’s caloric intake to 2,000 calories a day, or simply fasting one day a month. The body experiences a spike during this time of the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that protects the brain cells from death and also helps protect/repair any limbic brain degeneration.
2. High intake of antioxidants – these combat free radicals, which attack healthy cells in the body—initiating cell death of precisely the cells we want to keep alive. Free radicals are responsible for intense damage to the limbic brain as well, preventing the “shut down” of stress chemicals in the body.
4. Meditation—it is found that those who meditate or enter states of trance have increased blood flow to their pre-frontal cortex (PFC). This area of the brain is the executive decision maker, but is not quite the same as the neo-cortex “logic” mind. The PFC is activated on EKGs during states of compassion, inspiration, motivation and love. It has the ability to project and envision a future reward. It is the part of the brain responsible for motivating us to attain our goals and dreams. Blood flow to the PFC decreases when blood flow to the limbic brain increases.
During times of stress it’s biologically harder to envision the positive. If the limbic brain is always engaged, one loses the ability to creatively find a solution to their problems, resulting in further slip of dis-ease. Meditation incorporates visuals, emotions and imagination in precisely the language of the limbic brain. That is, it speaks the language of the primitive brain and holds a key in turning it off. The logic mind, the Neo-cortex, simply can’t turn off the stress because it literally has fewer neural pathways that connect it. This is why you can check the closet all you want, but you still might be afraid of the imaginary monster. Once the limbic brain gets “spoken to” through meditation exercises, it begins to calm down, to decrease blood flow and to dissipate the adrenaline and cortisol in the body. This then diverts blood flow to the PFC.
Power Up Your Brain, The Neuroscience of Enlightenment does an amazing job of making this information accessible, but the most exciting part of it is that the regiment it proposes is completely realistic. Employing the four components above takes focus, but is within everyone’s means, budget and time constraints to some degree or another.
Meditation has saved my life, helped me cope, given me navigation tools for life, and has become my personal and professional message to the world. Meditation practice may not turn your life into a fairytale or even cause you to live on a mountaintop, removed from the world, but it always brings focused attention to repairing stress patterns and damage. This means you absolutely can take your wellbeing into your own hands and facilitate healing to even the smallest degree. Any healing is better than no healing. You might be surprised at how your life can change.
My clients range from those with simple pet peeves, to those in exacerbated PTSD. It doesn’t matter what level you come in at, there is no time that’s too late to bring health to your brain, nervous system, body and soul.
Lisa Wimberger holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Stonybrook, NY. She is a certified MBTI consultant and a private healing and psychic practitioner, teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders. Lisa studied Ascension training for four years with Ishaya monks. She completed two and a half years of psychic awareness training at ICI, applying the tools of the Berkeley Psychic Institute. She spent a year and a half in post-graduate studies and is certified in the Foundations of Neuro Leadership. Feel free to tell her your story and visit www.tpconsultinggroup.com to learn more about how these techniques are targeted to First Responders.
Lisa is the Founder of the Trance Personnel Consulting Group, www.tpconsultinggroup.com. Lisa has created and facilitated leadership trainings for executive teams in Fortune 500 companies, the Colorado State Department and worked individually with international management. She has created and facilitated Emotional Survival programs for Colorado Law Enforcement Agencies and peer counsel groups. Over the last two years, 500 police officers have attended her workshops. Lisa writes for CopsAlive and partners with the Law Enforcement Survival Institute. Additionally, Lisa’s services are sought on a national level by individuals in law enforcement looking to find a new way to navigate through their stress patterns. Lisa is a member of the National Center for Crisis Management and ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association