Updated: Aug 24, 2019
Are you one of the 20% of chronic disease patients battling mysterious health symptoms and sensitivities for years now, possibly even decades?
If so, you may have a limbic system injury or impairment as discussed in my previous post. This means you probably have a laundry list of diagnosis and are well informed about topics like autoimmunity, leaky gut, food sensitivities, chronic lyme, environmental illness, mold illness, CIRS, and much more.
You’ve educated yourself and tried to learn from other people’s experiences in search of relief. In fact, you joke that you’re a professional patient and you run your health like a business. To regain wellness it will take a mammoth of an effort but you’re committed to getting well!
But what if all of your thoughts, efforts, and consumption of all things health or dis-ease related were actually keeping you unwell? Not in an it’s-all-in-your-head-kind-of-way, but in a legitimate brain impairment or faulty-neural-wiring-sort-of-way.
What if something in your past (chemical, viral, bacterial, emotional, psychological, etc.) resulted in neurological disorganization and your brain’s ability to filter incoming information became altered therefore over-activating the “fight or flight” limbic center of your brain. What if your brain now labels all (chemicals, foods and/or molds) as unsafe, and every time you avoid those triggers you’re actually strengthening a negative feedback loop in your brain that confirms this?
So often when we’re dealing with diet, lifestyle, and environmental triggers like food, chemicals or mold — we’re taught avoidance. Avoid those foods that result in symptoms to allow the gut to heal. Avoid chemicals that will bog your body down with toxins. Avoid buildings with water damage and resulting mold to reduce brain inflammation and mast cell activation. This seems reasonable, right? Especially when these reactions can become so severe that they’re life threatening. Who wouldn’t isolate themselves to survive a modern, toxic world if it was a threat to their survival?
Many of us, including myself.
Enter the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) online training program, which completely flipped this ideology on it’s head for me.
My first Aha moment came on Day 1 when I was challenged by the notion that my limbic system dysfunction was my ultimate root cause and all of my other “its” (aka: symptoms and diagnosis) are secondary. This meant that by fixing my brain with the science of neuroplasticity, I could potentially fix many of my “its!”
This was an empowering idea that gained momentum the more I learned about neuroplasticity and how it’s being used to correct other miscommunications in the brain resulting in conditions like stroke, hearing and vision loss, PTSD and other life altering conditions. Fortunately, in some cases these conditions have been overcome using neuroplasticity by creating new neural pathways that re-route and function optimally.
Not only that, but by focusing on my “its” I could keep my brain caught in the same faulty process it’s been using to send inaccurate messages to my remaining bodily systems (immune, digestive, reproductive, cardiovascular, etc.) - hence a systemic problem with systemic “its.” This means the more I think, talk, write, research and read about those challenges, the more I reinforce (or strengthen) those connections to my brain and body. I was captivated by the notion that changing my thought process around disease could actually change the way my brain works, and therefore how my body responds.
By thinking and generating uplifting emotions in an intentional process in the present time, I can shift the chemical messages my brain is producing and sending my body at any given moment. That's powerful stuff! So instead of contemplating symptoms or disease and then sending chemicals to my body reinforcing those results, I can think about how I want to feel and experience life and send those related thoughts and resulting chemicals to my body instead. I can manifest those physiological changes just as I do when I think about a savory meal and my autonomic nervous system alerts my body to begin salivating and preparing digestive enzymes for that food - before I even begin eating. This is an example of how we subconsciously send messages to our body, and we do it thousands of times a day. Now imagine if you send those messages consciously with powerful intentions behind them.
Rewiring the brain has been observed by past participant’s who’ve experienced dramatic healing. Seeing the evidence and experiencing small changes myself, inspired me to relinquish control of needing to understand all aspects of my health. I unsubscribed from dozens of health newsletters, and it was quite freeing! I stopped automatically body checking for “its” and I began redirecting my thoughts. All of a sudden, I had more bandwidth for much more enjoyable topics like running, organizing my home, making yummy food, and pursuing new hobbies (like piano!)
Another aha moment for me was that contrary to popular belief by many therapists, we don’t want to re-live and re-process past hurts or traumas when we have a limbic system disorder. Just as so many therapists encourage their clients to re-visit these memories - that practice actually reinforces the negative feedback loop that keeps those of us with a limbic system impairment stuck in a rut. Rather, we want to take an extended (6-month minimum) sabbatical from those thoughts, while rewiring the brain in a more favorable direction. (Complete this questionnaire if you're wondering if you have a limbic system impairment.)
I began occupying my mind with positive thoughts, music, and mantras (“I can go anywhere I want, when I want” or “I easily apply the tools to rewire my brain, transform my health and reclaim my life.”) I also stopped watching trauma-filled news and dark shows. My body began shifting out of survival mode and it began feeling safe. This became apparent to those near to me. All of a sudden I could think about things I hadn’t thought about in years! A whole new world began revealing itself to me which resulted in more positive feelings. I learned firsthand that by keeping my mood elevated with emotions like joy, gratitude and love while envisioning a desired future in the present tense, neuroplasticity potential heightens - thereby strengthening new neural pathways and reinforcing a positive feedback loop.
I’m now 12 weeks into the program (read about my first 6 weeks here) and continuing to peel back layers, with some BIG its left to shed. I still have to incrementally train within my zone every single day for at least one hour. Training out of my zone can result in temporary setbacks and, as a result, make my limbic system feel “unsafe.” There are still some really HARD days but I move through them quicker and easier. I’m still triggered by external environmental sources (people, places, exposures, food) and working to reach a point in my practice where my inner dialogue and physical response can remain unaltered by those encounters. That is what one might call the ultimate level of enlightenment. By creating a constant internal calmness that functions so optimally that we ideally reach a point where we can rise above all prior insults.
I may not be there physically but mentally I’m telling myself I am, so that my physiological response follows. For now I contemplate this vision of myself:
I am glowing with joy, peace and resilience. I have an inner calmness and confidence in life. I go where I want to when I want to with ease and grace. I am healthy, thriving and exude a deep and authentic happiness. My days are fruitful and my life is rich in love, relationships and gratitude.
This is my future because this is my new present.
If you’re interested in understanding the science behind this process, and how to implement neuroplasticity for limbic system impairment in a step-by-step approach - check out retrainingthebrain.com. I’m also reading the book ‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself’ by Dr. Joe Dispenza which is another fascinating rewiring strategy including much overlap with DNRS. In fact, it is recommended reading for DNRS. He too uses a meditative process for a minimum of one hour a day for 6 months.