Find YOUR Nirvana

Most Saturdays (for me), I attend a Brain health ‘motivational’ meeting to help us stay focused on being healthy and staying positive. It is hosted by two of the Board members of Dementia Alliance International., for anyone with dementia, or for someone supporting a person with dementia, worried about their own brain health or about deeloping dementia. You don’t have to be a member of DAI.

As many of us have known each other for a few years, it is relatively easy to get off track and therefore off topic, so we decided two weeks ago to start each session with either a section of a book (e.g. Professor Dale Bredesen’s book, The End of Alzheimer’s) or watch a video on brain health to discuss afterwards.

Today we watched a woman called Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher “who studied her own stroke as it happened, and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery.  One of the most important messages in this TED Talk for me was that no matter what happens to us, we must seek to find our own nirvana.

Nirvana: “A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.”

When diagnosed with dementia or any other critical or chronic illness, many become obsessed with their own suffering, and find it hard to find the positives, or to be grateful for what they still have. Having a Pity party, or as I call it, a dose of PLOM (Poor Little Old Me) disease is normal, but staying there, and trying to drag everyone around you there too, is unhelpful for them, but even more so for the person having the Pity Party. Eventually, people just walk away, as it is to challenging being around negative people when you are well; add in dementia or other personal distress, and it is almost impossible.

From my notes while watching this TED Talk, it may seem we rarely have a choice about what happens to us, but with intention and intelligence, we can choose to be optimistic, rather than gloomy.

“Instead of saying goodbye to your old life, learn to say hello to our new one, and then embrace it.”

“How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I’ve gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career.” — Jill Bolte Taylor

12 thoughts on “Find YOUR Nirvana

  1. As you know Kate, I have been on both sides of this journey. My first 1.5 years after diagnosis, I self isolated, was in a very deep fog, became severely depressed, lost my self worth, felt no purpose and yes, contemplated suicide. It was when I finally found DAI, met you and joined your Zoom Support Group that I “Laughed For The 1st time in 1.5 years”!
    I was gently guided to hope & renewed “Purpose” and got back my self worth! You helped me “accept my diagnosis, put on my big boy tidy whities” and “Live Well” with this disease. Today, I am very happy and honored to work by your side and “Pay it Forward” by helping others “regain their self worth”. You cannot put a value on regaining “quality of life” and I will be forever grateful. Thank you so much!!!

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    • Thank you my dear friend Jerry… last night, I was devastatingly shaken to my very foundations about the work DAI is doing, so waking up to this has given me strength to keep going, at least for today. THANK YOU

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  2. Hi Kate. You may find this interesting too:

    One comment re this talk said: This brief presentation by McGilchrist is a micro-overview of his book, “The Master and His Emissary” which refers to the right-brain as Master and the left-brain as Emissary. Despite the novelty of the animated sketching, it is still a left-brain approach to the subject matter – a presentation of factual data in a logical, evidentiary manner. One really needs to watch Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor’s talk in order to see a right-brain presentation of the same material.

    The main thesis of both McGilchrist and Bolte-Taylor is that the right hemisphere is our home base, but we have been conditioned to function in the left hemisphere mode in order to fit into society. The reasons why the right hemisphere is the master are too detailed to cover in a short comment, but suffice it to say that the right hemisphere connects us to the world (via our sensory systems) and the left hemisphere looks at the details (without the necessity of context), and then returns the data to the right hemisphere for integration (see McGilchrist’s book for details). Due to societal and familial influences we are stuck in a left hemisphere mode where we construct elaborate fictions out of the decontextualized details of the left hemisphere. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we only have to find to find compatible fictions in the world to attach to and feel comfortable with.

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  3. Fascinating stuff. The only way I’ve been able to copies to concentrate on the practical and the positive. Especially as I live alone, if I allowed the dark thoughts to take over this would further distance others from me, a situation which we all face on merely receiving our diagnosis. If I choose to stay on the positive side it means I’m still in charge. So vital to enlighten others who are new in their diagnosis that there are positives in this new journey we are all on x

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  4. Brain health and the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain are new subjects that need to be examined in tandem. Some far out suggestions reveal incidents that best not be discussed in the public arena but doctor to patient.

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    • As long as they’re discussed I think… better to try and live as positively as possible than stay in the dark hole of despair. In many ways, unless you have serious mental health issues, that really is a personal choice, at least IMO

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  5. The trick is to keep on living life no matter what happens. I know a couple of fellas who have dementia. One keeps on going and is still enjoying our company and is working on despite what is happening to him, the other has given up and stays home out of embarrassment despite our messages for him to come back and try some work. We can look out for both of them without any problem if it is alack of memory others can remember for them. One of the blokes is fitting in quite happily while hear the other is not as happy. One does not give out the other has and that is very sad.Kate, I’m saying this as anecdotal evidence to support what you have said. Every day anybody who has dementia faces the odds and lives on as best they can, is a gift and is a wonder.

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    • Agree with you Colin, I’ve met so many who seem to go with the flow with their ‘new’ life with dementia, and say (probably for them), also a few who seem to refuse to see the positives. But then, life’s like that, with or without dementia! 🌸🌸

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