As I mentioned in my post last week, I’ve embarked on a journey to better health—mentally, emotionally and physically. As part of the process, I’ve started retraining my brain, using the Gupta amygdala retraining program with Ashok Gupta.
This retraining program focuses mainly on treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). I happen to suffer from all three. As a side benefit, it might also ease the symptoms of Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS). From my experience, I also think it’ll be very good for people who suffer from generalized anxiety. (Yup, I have both of those as well!)
To do the program successfully, you really have to buy into it and agree to give the process 100% for six months or longer. For an achievement orientated person such as myself, that sounds a little daunting. However, I personally know people who were in much worse condition than me and they’re now completely healthy after taking the program. That’s powerful incentive. And it’s important to understand this isn’t just some hocus-pocus mumbo-jumbo. This is a science. The science of brain neuroplasticity. Our brains are remarkable organs and scientists are only beginning to uncover its power. I find that very exciting and want to be a part of it.
Beliefs create our reality. If we believe we won’t get better, we won’t. Only if we believe we will get well, do we give ourselves that opportunity. I wholeheartedly believe I can get well, and I know it won’t be easy or quick. Just as you don’t train for a marathon by running around the block once, this will take time and I have to put the work into it.
I had heard of the Gupta program a few years ago, and wondered at the time if I should try it. I had concerns, of course. Could I do it? Would it work for me? Will I just be wasting my money? How can I make the time to take the course, I’m so busy? So I put it on the backburner, telling myself, maybe one day…
And then ‘one day’ came. I was stressed and exhausted from work, my emotions were all over the place and life in general just sucked. One particular evening, I went into the kitchen where my hubby had a panful of peppers and onions frying. (I react to eating both of these foods) I took one whiff of the scent and got the most terrible stomach cramps as though I’d actually eaten them instead of just smelled them. My nervous system was on such high alert, that it knew if I ate those foods, I’d get sick, so it reacted to the mere smell. That was my tipping point. The proverbial straw on the overloaded camel.
At that point, I made several decisions, all geared towards my health and happiness. I quit my job, I started engaging in more fun activities and took the pressure off myself to want everything done yesterday. “Enjoy the journey instead of worrying about the destination” has become my new motto. I’ve also learned rushing in my mind doesn’t help me physically move faster or achieve thoughts faster. I have to take a breath and slow my mind. I’m still working on that one.
I started the Gupta program on August 13th, so I’m almost four weeks into it and am already seeing some positive results, particularly with my MCS and anxiety. From day one, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I’m the queen of multitasking, rarely doing one thing at a time when I can be doing two or even three. As I watched the DVDs, my lack of focus became abundantly clear. I caught myself looking at and analyzing the various camera angles that were used to make the video. I’d get diverted trying to read the book titles on the shelf behind Ashok. I’d admire Ashok’s lovely selection of shirts and matching ties. I’d start thinking about doing my nails or putting lotion on my legs while I watched, to save time. Seriously!
I also had the challenge of wanting to sit and just watch all the sessions at once. Just get them all out of the way and get on with it. There’s fifteen sessions covering several hours worth of important material and it can’t and shouldn’t be rushed. Because of my lack of focus and inherent need to go, go, go, I came up with a system that’s working quite well for me. I watch one session, then the next day read that same session in the handout book to reinforce everything in my mind. Only then do I watch the next session and follow it up with reading. As I watch the DVDs and listen to the explanations for what is happening in my body (and mind), I can totally understand what is being said and how it relates to me and events in my life over the years. At times I wanted to cry when Ashok described my situation so exactly. Especially when he explained it’s often conscientious people with busy minds who suffer most from these conditions. I think because he also went through a debilitating bout of CFS himself, he is better able to understand and explain the process.
And of course, each day I try to incorporate what I’ve learned into my life. I find some of the exercises and techniques easily comprehensible. Other techniques aren’t as simple. I’ve come to realize I’m not a visual person, which is surprising, because I’m a writer and I visualize my scenes all the time. So I have to work a little harder on some aspects. And I’ve decided to delay a couple of the techniques, both because they require a bigger time commitment and because I know they’re going to be a bit of a challenge for me. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do them. I’ll have finished the DVD sessions by the end of this week and will begin to incorporate all the techniques and exercises by the start of next week.
I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of the program here. It took me many hours of watching the DVDs to understand it myself, I certainly can’t explain it easily, but one example that Ashok uses is helpful. It’s the concept of Pavlov’s dogs. Pavlov noticed that every time he fed his dogs, they got excited and salivated. If he rang a bell, they gave no reaction. So he began to ring the bell at the same time as he fed them, with the result of them getting excited and salivating. After a time, all he had to do was ring the bell without offering food to achieve the excited reaction.
In our brain we have something called the amygdala. This is part of the subconscious mind responsible for the “fight or flight” response. Over time, if the amygdala becomes sensitized to a certain reaction, it remains on high alert, and like Pavlov’s dogs, it reacts to certain stimulus because it’s expecting the reaction. Eventually the subconscious won’t even check with the conscious mind to see if it’s correct in its assumptions, because it has learned to react this way. This reaction is what has to be retrained. So using Pavlov again as an example, if he continues to ring that bell without offering food, the dogs will gradually become desensitized to the bell and will stop reacting to that stimulus.
That is a very simplified explanation, and if anyone is interested in something more comprehensive, I highly recommend you visit Ashok Gupta’s website where he has posted several informative videos you can watch.
As I mentioned earlier, a large part of the success of this program is maintaining a positive attitude and believing you will get well. Your beliefs create your reality and your body fulfils your beliefs about it. There are negative people out there who say this can’t work, because they don’t believe in it. With that attitude, it certainly won’t work for them. The same negative people may just be sitting back, waiting for me to fail. Well they can continue to wait, because I intend to succeed. I’m also being realistic. I have organic issues with my body, most notably hyper-mobile joints and arthritis, so I will always have pain in my life. It then becomes how I manage that pain. Even if I don’t achieve 100% recovery in all areas, I’m already stronger for trying. I’ve learned and continue to learn how to be mindful, how to find joy and calm in my life. I can’t ask for any more than that.