Concussions, Brain Injury and Spirituality

Jill Bolte Taylor’s popular TED video, best-selling book, and interview on Oprah have really started people talking. Suddenly, the silent experiences of millions of stroke and brain injury survivors have entered mainstream consciousness! As a TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivor and Intuitive Life Coach, I receive so many questions from people wondering if biochemistry and trauma awaken spirituality in everyone, or just them. While I certainly cannot speak for everyone, I do recognize higher than average interest in spiritual growth and intuitive awareness in people whose brains have short-circuited. The process both excites and terrifies, so here are a few hints for handling the Awakening:

1) Know that you are not alone. Yes, it might feel like no one in the world has had this experience, but people have had mystical encounters for millennia. Some, like Hildegaard von Bingen or Fyodor Dostoyevski, are now thought to have suffered from severe migraines and/or epilepsy. Many Medical Intuitives such as Carmen Bell and Tiffany Snow trace their gifts to a near death experience. My own Medical Intuition dramatically increased after a moderate concussion.

Does a biochemical component negate such experiences? Far from it! Scientists have recently studied long-term meditators, locating areas in the brain that show greater or lesser activity than in “normal” brains. Yoga offers a four-to-eight-thousand-year-old tradition of balancing biochemistry in order to relax the body, quiet the mind, and awaken more profound Spiritual Consciousness. If you suddenly sense the veil has parted, you might need to look around for people who share similar experiences, but rest assured: they’re out there!

2) Stay Open. When a stroke, brain injury or other neurological condition suddenly opens pathways you never knew existed, you might feel tempted to “turn things off.” Indeed, many people contact me because they don’t know how to handle the onslaught of psychic awareness. “How do I tune stuff out?” they ask. “I don’t wanna know these things!”

If you lived life from a rational perspective and suddenly see into the future, read minds or know your neighbor has cancer before she tells you, this information initially seems like way too much to handle. But I learned something ironic about both sight and insight when a brain injury destroyed my visual system; if you feel overloaded, embrace more information instead of running from it.

Here’s why this works: physiologically, our eyes are designed to scan the horizon for food and/or predators. Although most of us now spend more hours on the computer than hunting or gathering, our visual system remains quite similar to that of our ancestors, for whom any information equaled valuable information. If a saber-toothed tiger crouched to their left, or a buffalo wandered in the distance, they needed to know! A loss of peripheral vision meant a loss of overall awareness, which could spell death. Hence, a narrowed visual field still leads to fight or flight response.
In today’s world, we can easily develop tunnel vision. If you spend eight hours on a computer and then go home and watch TV for a few hours or relax by reading a book (without looking in the distance or practicing eye exercises) you have effectively narrowed your visual field. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.” Consistently ignoring our peripheral vision can result in degradation, so that we become less and less aware of our physical environment. Anxiety, irritability and fear quickly follow-and no wonder! Our bodies are hard wired to fear a lack of visual input!

Eighty to ninety percent of the information we absorb comes through the visual system. The health of our visual system directly affects our thoughts, emotions and ability to “see the forest through the trees.” As humans, we also have a Third Eye or intuitive center, which resides in the space between our eyebrows. According to yogis and long-term meditators, focusing awareness on this area heightens intuition. This Visioning Center remains closely connected to our visual center, because so much of memory, imagination, and insight rely on visual cues. If you suddenly find your visioning or insight center (your Third Eye) overloaded with information, trying to shut out guidance will only increase your anxiety, just like going blind as a hunter-gatherer would have made your heart race.

Humans instinctively fear darkness. If you sense too much intuitive awareness, turning your inner light up will help much more than trying to turn it off.

3) Learn to develop calm Awareness. OK, so you’re not supposed to censor information, but it still seems like too much: how do you find a balance?

Try centering yourself, either alone or with a guided meditation. Repeating a mantra or listening to chants like those sung by Deva Premal or Krishna Das can help your mind relax without zoning out. Ideally, you want something that pulls you into your heart instead of playing hide and seek with thoughts. Concentrate on your Heart Chakra (at the center of your chest) and imagine warm, golden, pink or green light pulsating in a slow, radiant beat. As impressions fly into your head, bring them into your heart to feel and hear a response tempered with loving-kindness. In the Christian tradition, Jesus says, “Perfect love casts out fear,” and you know what? It actually does! Experiment and you will find that saturating yourself with unconditional compassion instantly banishes worry.

Consider that the words “scared” and “sacred” contain all the same components, just slightly rearranged. We do not need to remove things in order to make them holy. We need only shift perspective. On her Awakened Heart Meditation CD, teacher Sally Kempton observes that in Sanskrit, the word for the Heart Chakra, hridaya, is also the word for “the highest gateway to reality.” Let your heart balance your head’s information overload.

4) Have fun! Your attitude towards these newfound gifts determines much of your experience. Approach intuitive hits with fear, and life becomes a series of dire predictions and forebodings. On the other hand, recognizing nudges from the universe can save you a lot of time, energy and heartache. Many people find that heightened intuition coincides with increased manifestation ability. If you’ve read or heard of “The Secret,” then you already know that your thoughts influence your reality. Why not have fun creating more of the life that you desire? Practice intending abundant, joyful days. Ask for synchronicities. Align your intentions with the highest good of all and watch beauty unfold before you.

They say God is in the details, but they also say that God has a wonderful sense of humor. Supposedly, the ability to understand jokes in another language marks fluency. When you start getting Spirit’s punch lines, you get to giggle with the universe. Life becomes a comedy, and in theater, comedy always means a happy ending. Lighten up!

5) Ask for guidance. Just because you suddenly access more information doesn’t mean you’re on your own. When you go to graduate school, you still have professors. Life offers endless opportunities to learn and discern. If you feel unsure of the guidance, then ask for clarity. If something stretches the bounds of rationality, you can request signs tailor-made to activate your faith.

The Biblical story of Gideon reminds us that we can pray for interactive lessons. God told Gideon to save the Israelites by leading them into battle against their foes. Gideon felt inclined to believe God, but because others’ lives were at stake, he asked for a sign. Specifically, he requested that if the Israelites were supposed to go into battle, then the wool he placed on the ground would be wet while the ground remained dry. The next morning he found the wool wet and the ground dry, so he felt God had answered his request. Still, he wanted to feel certain, and so he asked for another sign. This time, he asked for wet ground and dry wool. The next morning, he found dry wool on wet ground, and he knew he could confidently lead the Israelites against their foes. Just as Gideon intuited, the Israelites won.

You can ask for any sign you like, but don’t be surprised when events respond. Eventually, you will gain experience and more easily sense which nudges come from intuition and which are disguised projections of the ego. If you catch yourself clinging to an intuition and trying to manipulate it, consider it a sign to reread the suggestions in this article, beginning with Number 1. Ego breeds fear, competition, anger, attachment, obsession and anxiety. By contrast, fruits of Spirit include: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Awakening your intuition takes courage, but you will also learn to love your life. Many blessings on your journey!

Laura Bruno is a Life Coach, Medical Intuitive and Reiki Master Teacher. In addition to private coaching and intuitive sessions, she teaches Intuition workshops and Reiki Certification classes around the country and in Northern California. For more information on classes, raw food coaching, transitional coaching, animal communication, and letting your gifts shine through your career, please see: http://www.internationalrenaissancecoaching.com

Laura also wrote the book, “If I Only Had a Brain Injury: A TBI Survivor and Life Coach’s Guide to Chronic Fatigue, Concussion, Lyme Disease, Migraine, or Other ‘Medical Mystery,'” available at http://www.ifionlyhadabraininjury.com and other online retailers.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Trevor on December 30, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Laura,
    Thank you for this and for your inspiring story. Clearly you have accessed more brain power despite your TBI than most people do who have brains that never suffered trauma. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book My Stroke of Insight, her TED talk and her appearance on Oprah all are must sees/reads! The fact that TIME made her one of the most influential people in the world gives me hope that her special and magnificent message will get through to a significant number of people. If everyone read her book, I’m sure the world would be a much improved place to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Posted by Amy Virginia on December 30, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    I found this site well written and interesting. I was especially interested in your remark about vision and anxiety. I used to have 20/600 vision, so wore glasses or contact lenses. Then I had laser surgery, and my vision is now 20/20. I DEFINITELY noticed that my sense of well-being improved and my anxiety diminished once I could see normally. What a huge gift this has been.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regular acupuncture treatments given to stroke patients starting shortly after strokes can help promote a faster recovery with greater functionality.

    These results have been shown in many studies involving thousands of patients which been published in China and Japan, as well as studies from Scandinavia. The results showed patients recovered more quickly, performed better in self-care, required less nursing and rehabilitation therapy, and use less healthcare dollars.

    Like

  4. Posted by laurabruno on December 31, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Thank you all for your comments. RE: acupuncture and brain recovery, I also found while researching my novel that there are some instances of reflexology helping people to recover from coma and/or prolonged unconscious states. The intersections of meridians, acupuncture, reflexology points and the brain/spirit are truly amazing!

    Like

  5. Thank you for this Laura, delighted this stuff once thought of as so ‘out there’ is becoming more mainstream, especially as it *really works*. Happy New Year from all of us in Britain!

    Blessings,

    Rima

    Like

  6. Posted by Laurie Mancini on February 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I had to leave a comment as I too have sufferd TBI,more than once and have had Near Death Experiences.It definately increased my intuitive awareness.
    However with that came anxiety.I began to practice Buddhism and now after my fourth year of practice brings a person with obstacles however a better management of my aniety.I chant Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo which in Sanscrit means The Mystical Law Of Cause And Effect.Perhaps you have heard of this.

    Enjoyed your website.
    Be Well,
    Warm Regards,
    Laurie Mancini

    Like

  7. Posted by laurabruno on February 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks so much, Laurie! Yes, I am familiar with that chany. Thank you for sharing some of your story here. Blessings! Laura

    Like

  8. Thank you Laura, really helpful as I recover from concussion, feel the expanded intuition as well as the massive anxiety. Sending love. Karen

    Like

  9. Best of luck and healing to you, Karen! Love, Laura

    Like

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