Our Inspiration – Maui and the Healing Power of the Brain

Anyone who has ever had a pet or watched wild critters knows animals are inspirational (I’m told there are even people who find reptiles, insects and other vermin fascinating – myself . . . I prefer mammals . . . but who’s to say . . .).

I’ve had a horse, Misty, dogs and cats.  My last kitty Maui, long after his passing, has been particularly inspirational:

  • Maui inspired me to write his story as a book to help children know that they too can flourish with patience and persistence.
  • Maui’s story is proof the brain, YOURS and mine, is capable of “rewiring” and “repatterning”. 

To read Maui’s story click here

  • Maui inspired Judy and I to create MAXyourMIND (formerly Catnipblog) to share neuroscience research and how we can all live better, healthier lives harnessing the power of our own minds.

Maui was part Siamese and lived up to the breed’s reputation of being intelligent, playful, social and quite mischievous.  

Maui

I named him for the jokester god of the Hawaiian islands. What happened to him was no joke.

When Maui was 11 years old, he had a  blocked ureter.  The treating vet told me Maui would not live.  I brought him home and helplessly watched Maui do nothing but lay on the floor with his chin on his favorite water bowl.  He didn’t eat for days and his back legs were weak.
One day Maui couldn’t move his back legs at all. The vet had neglected to tell me that cats not eating for 3 days or more can lead to heart problems which can result in a clot that blocks the femoral artery. The blockage causes the back legs to not function.  A permanent condition.

 The vet repeated Maui could die at any time and suggested putting him down. I was distraught.

Hope against hope, I took Maui home and helplessly watched him drag around with his two front legs.  It took him one human year or 7 cat years to rewire his brain and regain use of his back legs.

Maui taught me first hand about persistence, resiliency and how with patience the brain can be retrained  . . .  and the paws will follow.

For Maui and His Back Legs book, click here

Our human brains, too, have incredible plasticity.  Maximize aspects of your life by focusing on what you want and minimize what doesn’t support your wants and needs.

The old sayings “Practice Makes Perfect” and “The Power of Positive Thinking” have been proven accurate through scientific research . . . and Maui.

Peggy

 

 

 

Meet My Foot Feat, day 4

It’s only DAY 3 of my “convalescence” and the thought of spending most of my time sitting with my foot up for 3 WEEKS is __________.  Fill in the blank and it’s probably close to the mark.

So far I’ve worked on CATNIPblog posts, worked on Peggy & my Happiness project, started reading a new book and watched far too much TV.  My “rear-end” is already beginning to hurt as much as my foot.

I have more time on my hands (and feet) than ever yet have less focus than ever.  Looking for something creative to add to my sit-down-activities I decided to finish pages (upon pages) I started years ago in my many journals.  

judy’s journal, collage, acrylic, marking pens

Today I picked a page that required no thought, just schmearing a bit of paint with my finger and doodling with marking pens.  I have no clue why I wrote the fishy-poem I remember from childhood on the page.

Fishy fishy in a brook

Papa catch ’em with a hook

Mama fry ’em in a pan

Baby eat ’em like a man

Need to catch up? Here’s what happened to me:

In pain, Need Sympathy

Food for the HEEL

 

 

 

 

Food for the HEEL

Went to the doctor and the doctor said:

“Your ankle bone’s fractured, wear a boot to bed.”

“The ligament is torn

but don’t be forlorn,

 there’s great news for 3 weeks –

no driving, no cleaning (even if it reeks).”So here I am with my foot propped high

It is what it is, no need to ask why.

Since there’s no one to cook me a good meal

I settle for ice cream ‘n cake that help heal

Read How I “landed” up here:

In Pain, need Sympathy

 

 

The HeART of Healing Workshop

To see all the MARVELOUS “Found Poetry” the participants created and the full report you’ll have to click HERE:  The HeART of Spirituality – Healing

“Do not run away from grief, oh soul. Look for the remedy inside the pain because the rose came from the thorn and the ruby came from a stone”. – Rumi

Here’s a sample!

dscn6818

The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes… ”   Abdu’l-Bahá,  Baha’i World Faith   

“When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself”.

Pema Chödrön (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brow is an American, Tibetan Buddhist and ordained nun)

Healing, The Living Matrix

I don’t often talk about it – in public at any rate – but I have been exposed to many cutting edge or “far out”  health & healing techniques and processes.

David Bresler, Ph.D. and Marty Rossman, MD, the founders of the Academy for Guided Imagery  (AGI), have been on the forefront of  alternative medicine and brought leading edge researchers and doctors to speak at  AGI conferences I attended.  Much of what I heard “blew me away” at the time.

This video reminded me of many of the concepts I heard about long ago.   Watching it made me rethink my heart “problems”.

Even if your ticker is ticking just fine it will make you view your heart differently too.  

Take the time to watch and expand your world of “possibility”.  

(And for those of you who have not been “cured” by western mainstream medicine, watch!)

http://vimeo.com/21432874

Thanks to Kathe Caldwell, hypnotherapist and instructor par excellence for sharing The Living Matrix Video with me!

“What you pay attention to GROWS” and not just for monkeys


Dr David Bresler

Dr Marty Rossman

I’ve had the incredible fortune of studying under David Bresler  Ph.D and Marty Rossman M.D.  Both are pioneers in the field of MindBody Medicine.   They founded The Academy for Guided Imagery, a teaching academy for health care professionals to provide treatment using individualized one-on-one imagery for health and wellness.

Not only did they train me to teach Interactive Guided Imagery(sm) they introduced me to a different way of thinking and experiencing my world.

Many of you already know that I keep ranting and raving about the power of our minds and not to dwell on the negative, not to focus on what we can’t do but on what we are capable of.  SO!  When I came across this article by Dr Rossman I HAD to share!!

Shifting Your Attention Can Change Your Brain

from The Worry Solution by Martin Rossman, M.D.

“Repetitively shifting your attention to positive outcomes may actually result in growth in areas of your brain that start to do this automatically. My colleague, neuroscientist Dr. David Bresler, always says that

“what you pay attention to grows” and research proves him correct.

Neuroscience journalist Sharon Begley wrote in a 2007 Wall Street Journal article, “Attention, … seems like one of those ephemeral things that comes and goes in the mind but has no real physical presence. Yet attention can alter the layout of the brain as powerfully as a sculptor’s knife can alter a slab of stone.

Not to be confused for either Dr Bresler or Dr Rossman

” She describes an experiment at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in which scientists “rigged up a device that tapped monkeys’ fingers 100 minutes a day every day. As this bizarre dance was playing on their fingers, the monkeys heard sounds through headphones. Some of the monkeys were taught: Ignore the sounds and pay attention to what you feel on your fingers…Other monkeys were taught: Pay attention to the sound.”

After six weeks, the scientists compared the monkeys’ brains and found that monkeys paying attention to the taps had expanded the somatosensory parts of their brains (where they would feel touch) but the monkeys paying attention to the sounds grew new connections in the parts of the brain that process sound instead.

UCSF researcher Michael Merzenich and a colleague wrote that through choosing where we place our attention, “‘We choose and sculpt how our ever-changing minds will work, we choose who we will be the next moment in a very real sense, and these choices are left embossed in physical form on our material selves.'”

I promise I won’t say “I told you so.”

Mask Painting, Making the Invisible Visible

The Face of Joy was the first mask painting workshop I facilitated.   Visions of the Invisible, In The Face of Pain was the second  It is a powerfully therapeutic experience, not to mention FUN!  Yes, painting pain can be fun as long as you don’t have expectations of how it “should” look, know there’s no right or wrong way and simply use color to express feelings and experience.

Take a look (we paint the OUTSIDE and the INSIDE of the masks and then talk about them)!  See if you can tell what each mask represents – joy, sadness, migraine, physical pain, emotional pain, hurt, hiding from others real feelings.

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An aspect of the healing – besides the actual process of creating – is internalizing, in a non-objective manner, our feelings where we can be an observer.  Observation helps us create distance which creates objectivity and thus changes the experience.

The next Mask Painting workshop is scheduled for this coming December 10th.  I’ll be sure to share more pictures with you.

There’s a FREE tutorial on the TUTORIAL PAGE for you to create and process your own “Mask of Pain”