Or put another way Electrical Activity v Chemical?
& former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
Please read our Disclaimer
Some social commentators say we live in a "microwave" or "Google it" society.
We want "it" (information, relief, change) instantly, and "it" needed to happen yesterday.
Remember 'Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka?' (Click on that text and you'll be led to the clip of her spectacular meltdown)
She wails, "I Want It and I Want It Now"
Poor Veruca, the quick fix she demanded, didn't end well for her.
And this is also true of personal growth; meaningful inner transformation is often a process and "quick fixes" may deal with surface issues but may not touch core concerns.
Of course, this is not to say miracles don't happen, they do, and I rejoice when they do, but even with miracles, the process of integrating and understanding the changes still needs to happen, and without this, the essential ingredient in the recipe of authentic change and growth is missing.
Here's another analogy, have you ever gone on a crash diet, or perhaps you know someone who has, i.e. they may have lost a dramatic amount of weight in a very short time, but only to put it all or more back on soon after? There can be many reasons for this, but one is often that the change was "shocking and dramatic" but not enduring or sustainable, it did not happen in the context of meaningful container for that change, so not lasting or enduring.
What's the take home message here?
Real change - feels integrated
Big pharmaceutical companies may not like the growing awareness and indeed consciousness around an inside-out, relational, intuitive, natural approach to life and wellness.
Please see my Disclaimer, this is a conversation piece and is not to be construed as any kind of advice for a specific situation. While I believe that complimentary and Western medicine worked best when blended and integrated together, it is still not mainstream.
I believe there are many cases where medication is absolutely warranted and life saving and often in cases of mental illness fundamentally necessary and positive in conjunction with talk-therapy and other supports, for example: good nutrition and gut health, exercise, complimentary therapies like TCM, acupuncture, psycho-spiritual support, family systems work, bodywork, creative therapies, nature therapy and neurofeedback brain training are just some of the many approaches known to help - here, my purpose is simply to invite us to take a step back and look at the big picture.
One of the reasons Neurofeedback may be under recognised, is it's not a pill.
It does not promise to treat 'X' with 'Y'.
It's durational, lasting change from the inside-out.
It works with central nervous system, the electrical activity, rather than chemicals of the brain.
And yet, often we see that through this
CNS training, people find a decreased need for medication,
and reduction in the 'need' for coffee and alcohol.
So, a safe, non-drug, non-invasive approach has global effects.
The 5 largest categories of pharmaceutical medication are for
anxiety, attention, depression, sleep and pain.
Neurofeedback training squarely impacts each of these complaints.
To connect with authentic process, we often have to connect with ourselves.
And before you run for the hills, let me just acknowledge I know this can be be confronting (and maybe even terrifying); we work so hard to keep parts of ourselves and maybe some feelings under tight wraps - unearthing them and connecting with them evokes a fear of becoming overwhelmed, swamped, overtaken, so they they stay dormant but not resolved - splintering up when we get "triggered" by people and situations.
So, all this to say, I understand the challenge of 'connection'.
Support from a caring professional who seeks to understand these layers can sometimes help to authentically process these places and re-connect to ourselves.
Sometimes also, the intention is there, but the surrounding environment makes it seem impossible. Even if there is desire to slow down and take stock of the process, there can be a sense that life around a person doesn't support this meaningful approach - and the message is often, best to "get better, get rid of symptoms, and get on with life".
I can understand this too, and hear this so often. And this fits with the "pill-popping" world we live in.
And for those of my clients who have chronic health issues, sadly I also hear the responses, "I don't want to indulge" and "my problems are not important" frequently.
So Sad. Deflating. Invisible. Devalued.
If you are reading this and is resonates - please know you do matter, and what you are going through is important. Sometimes health issues have an amazing way of mirroring truths, by jumping up and down and waving about till we make it important, see it as sacred and precious and tend to whatever is there.
We would do well to listen to the whispers of our health and sense of inner being
before the whispers and nudges ignored - can turn into screams.
Ok, So What Is A Loving Posture To Take Towards One's Inner Life?
A possible answer is 'Parakuptō'
I heard this the word (pronounced par-ak-oop'-to) for the first time yesterday.
It is from the Greek Lexicon and means to bend beside, i.e. lean over (so as to peer within) look (into), stoop down. A posture of compassionate engagement and it looks like this:
1) to stoop to a thing in order to look at it
2) to look at with head bowed forward
3) to look into with the body bent
4) to stoop and look into
5) metaphorically to look carefully into, inspect curiously - of one who would become acquainted with something
(See reference here)
It reminds me of the wisdom from Rumi, the 13th century poet to look intently and with compassion.
When we are frantically treading water, we often fear slowing down and stopping to really look inward - worried this pausing will be the thing that drowns us, so we don't. We reach for the pills, or other ways of 'medicating' and 'soothing', Netflix, or food, or alcohol, maybe shopping.
For that little harried mouse on the treadmill,
there is a tremendous fear of jumping off
"Fear" is the driver
Fear resits a 'Parakupto' posture of looking and listening carefully
It is a cycle that recurs.
Perhaps in different forms but often with the same flavour.
Till it becomes hard to continue and the core feeling, issue, wound carried cannot be ignored any longer.
What can you do if you feel like this?
Without judgement, becoming curious.
This gentle process helps to start dealing with whatever core concern lies below the surface.
In time it can lead to freedom, letting go. This makes way for a new landscape.
My wise mentor and supervisor used this description of the inner process; to paraphrase, she said that grief can bring up all other unprocessed and fossilised past griefs, it comes up to be dealt with and when it gets dealt with - it can make way for much more; allowing new spaciousness and freedom.
Michael Moore's clever documentary "Sicko" looks at the American health care system, focusing particularly on the managed-care and pharmaceutical industries.
There is growing awareness and understanding of the Mind-Body Connection and research into areas like, Polyvagal theory, Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and an acceptance of the gut as the second brain. If you want to really dive deep, google "Fecal Microbiota Transplant" - if not already, it will spark a new found wonder at just how important the microbial environment of the gut is.
There is also a greater awareness of the role our environment, toxins, and nutrition play in our overall wellbeing or disease (dis-ease).
More people around the world are
switching from pill popping and side effects or no effects
to more holistic, safe and integrated approaches.
I am aware that health is a multifaceted and highly individual journey,
there may be physical, emotional, social, genetic, spiritual, relational factors.
While we are cottoning on now, ancient cultures and traditional medicine has tuned into this inter-connectedness for centuries, there are times medicine and medical care is life saving, vital and we are so privileged to have access to it.
I know on at least two occasions, modern medicine was potentially life-saving for me.
Yet, there are other times in the case of chronic conditions or stress related issues where are more nuanced, 360 degree approach is needed.
Listening with sensitive ears to the layers beneath and within our stories.
Both digging deeper and taking in wider perspective.
How do you grow physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually without some type of feedback?
We grow with feedback; we grow in relationship, and we grow in connection.
Growth comes through curiosity and care,
not with judgement and cutting out, down or across feelings.
We all have bad habits and patterns that translate as barriers in our life.
And these barriers can be what holds us back from reaching our full potential.
If you feel there are barriers in your life, or things that you can't quite work out that seem to have been there for a short or very long while, feel free to reach out for a confidential conversation.