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Does brain fog reduce the spiritual sense?

Discussion in 'Spirituality and ME/CFS' started by Hip, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I like that. That is a pretty good account of the way ME/CFS seems to fog out all our spiritual and perceptual sensitivities. (And you were certainly blessed with a lot of them).

    Very interesting about your dramatic increase in out-of-body experiences. Some years ago, I was involved for a while with an experimental group who were using various techniques to try to evoke out-of-body experiences in people that did not normally have them, like me. (I used to have a keen interest in many things paranormal and spiritual). I once asked one of the guys in the group what effect mindfulness meditation (like Zen meditation) has on the ability to achieve an out-of-body experience. I was initially surprised to be told that meditation was in fact detrimental to creating the conditions for an out-of-body experience. But it made sense when he explained that mindfulness meditation tends to bind consciousness more closely to the mind/body; and for an out-of-body experience, you want to loosen the connection. I don't know if this has any bearing on your increase in out-of-body experiences, though.

    About auras: I read some research recently that said the seeing of colored auras may be connected to having a special sensory wiring in the brain called synesthesia. Synesthesia is when the experience you have through one sense (like the sense of taste, for example), gets spilled over, within the brain, to another sense. So for example, some people with a certain type of synesthesia can taste a wine, and they have the normal taste sensation, but they simultaneously experience the taste as a particular shade of color. Every wine has its own unique color. Sounds wonderful.

    In the case of auras, it may be that your intuitive perceptions about people lying were being represented to you as colors. Quite useful!

    But on this subject of intuitive perceptions about people: this is something that unfortunately also seems to diminish along with the reduced spiritual awareness. Before ME/CFS, I always had a good empathetic perception, and would get a strong intuitive sense of the mental makeup of a person, even after just five minutes talking to them. I could intuit their intentions, agenda and even basic values very quickly. In this way, other people's minds were reasonably transparent to me. I have always thought this sort of empathetic perception is a by-product of having a strong conscious awareness. But now with ME/CFS, when meeting people, I only get a dim sense of their minds; I get much less intuitive sense of who they are, what they represent, etc. This makes you feel more cut off from others, when you lose this natural mind-to-mind intimacy you once had.
     
  2. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Along similar lines, I notice that I no longer get much of a "sense of place" when I go somewhere, or look at something. The "atmosphere" evoked by a place or location — like an old building, a famous street, a forest, or a gathering of people at some function, etc — always seems weak, as if my mind has not got the imaginative energy to create a gestalt (holistic overview) for that experience. The mind does not tune into "the essence" of an experience. Consequently, these experiences are flat and one dimensional.
     
  3. biophile

    biophile Places I'd rather be.

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    I had a similar experience as Hip, but it was more sudden. It seemed that the biological capacity required for such was greatly reduced (shortly following/coinciding with worsening illness), meditation etc had much less benefit and more adverse effects. Getting into such a reduced "spiritual sense" demonstrated to me the fundamental importance of biology for everything (which I had already suspected), and encouraged my underlying skeptical nature to dominate. I was forced to examine my previous beliefs, dropping many of them and changing the context of whatever remained.

    It was unpleasant but in hindsight it was positive (apart from the worsening illness of course), I don't think I could ever go back to what I was before, basically it changed me into a physicalist and I no longer hold the literal interpretations, but that does not mean an essence of my previous self does not seek expression in other ways in line with the "new" me.
     
  4. Hell...Hath...No...Fury..

    Hell...Hath...No...Fury.. Senior Member

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    I was thinking, how ME really does challenge and effect absolutely everything. I've always explained this to people without actually remembering the spiritual aspect too. There is literally no thing that isnt disabled by it! I always thought of pain and suffering as a way to grow spiritually, before the ME, but now its like it doesn't even exist half the time let alone develop it. Its just another thing we're robbed of, but to those of us who are/were spiritual it is just as soul destroying pardon the pun as being physically paralysed. Just like i go through phases of being physically paralysed, I go through phases of spiritual paralysis too and like with exercise, no real progress can be made because of the constant activation and deactivation. Every time I'm reactivated its like starting from scratch all over again in a type of groundhog day. I used to think of illness as an opportunity to learn and grow but with ME I'm learning to cope with not being able to learn and develop. Its like living in suspended animation.
     
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  5. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Yes, I can also say that, on the physicalist — transcendentalist spectrum, I have mentally shifted a good way towards the physicalist side in my daily outlook and thinking. I gaze at all the mystical and spiritual books on my bookshelf, from Meister Eckhart to Zen, which once had so much meaning for me, and now their ideas seem a little impracticable and not particularly relevant.

    You could say that this loss of spiritual outlook resulting from ME/CFS is a kind of biochemically-induced disenchantment with the world. Normally people typically blame modernity, science and technology for creating disenchantment in the world, but in this case the blame falls squarely on brain chemistry. And paradoxically, it is likely that only advances in medical science (a cure or treatment for ME/CFS) will fix this biochemically-induced disenchantment!

    But as you point out, there are also positive things about becoming more mentally physicalist. It does provide a new perspective on the world, and you learn things because of this new outlook.

    For one thing, you realize that what makes people physicalists or transcendentalists, believers or atheists, in the first place is not a result of thinking through the issues, but much more just down to their mental disposition. If I was born in the way I am now, I would never have pursued my spiritual interests. A person's physicalist or transcendentalist stance just reflects how their mind works, I now realize.

    Another thing is that you tend towards more common sense, down-to-Earth explanations for phenomena. In a way, this helps you deal with ME/CFS in a better way, as you focus in a common sense manner on the physical biological nuts and bolts of this disease.

    Of course, I still would like to have that enchantment back, but I recognize that there are some advantages to being more physicalist.
     
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  6. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I like that Groundhog Day comparison! There is something very Groundhog Day about ME/CFS in general.
     
    Bob likes this.
  7. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    This is an interesting thread, but what it reveals is how diverse we all are!

    For example before I was ill I never had any psychic experiences, although I had a general interest in spirituality.

    As my illness developed, but before I became really ill, I started to have unusual and spiritual experiences.
    When I was very badly ill they mostly stopped, but recommenced during a long recovery phase when I was housebound and very isolated. They have lessened because I remember making a conscious decision that I had to focus on this world, and rebuild my life, as I improved, and I could not do that if I was encouraging experiences that relied on my being only weakly linked to my body.
    So I suppose that in my case I was initially firmly rooted in the body and the illness altered that and allowed me to perceive in new ways, and now I am much more well I only occasionally have spiritual or psychic experiences.

    However as I got better I never repudiated my wierd experiences, even tho they have become difficult to identify with.
    I know they were real and it is me that has changed.
    I often feel very restricted and emotionally mutilated - and I think that is the illness. I do not seem able to feel much any more. But in my experience spiritual experiences are not really "feelings" because feelings can be deceptive, and spiritual experiences are more a type of knowledge.

    I think being on ones own is helpful because one can pick up stuff that would get drowned in all the "noise" of a busy life.

    I can completely agree with the person who wrote about how much better they felt in contact with nature as I am often astounded at how well I feel once I step into the garden! It can be a very sudden change and I am sure it is not imagination. There is a real energy that supports me when I am in a natural environment.

    Just to allow myself a new age moment here - once I saw my own aura - and it was blue. I also saw that I had very little energy and I think that was something that is just me - I think I do not have as much available energy as some people and maybe that is why I have taken the path of developing this illness.

    But to those who do have lots of psychic experiences - please tell me what it means to have a blue aura. I would like to know.
     
  8. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    Physicalist - trancendentalist - I reckon it is all one stuff. so dont feel that one reality cancels out the other.
     
  9. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    Thanks for the supplement tips, Hip. I have ordered them. Though I've had CFS for 18 years, I've led a pretty "spiritual" life through much of it. In fact, I think that coming down with CFS awakened my spiritual sensibilities in the first place, as I grappled with all of the losses associated with it. I didn't develop brain-fog symptoms until the most recent crash 2 years ago, however, and that pretty much put an end to my spiritual pursuits. I had to stop medititating, and when the brain fog was bad, had difficulty feeling "connected," both to external people, things, and the numinous, and to deeper parts of myself.

    I recall Cort once calling CFS the "anti-spiritual disease," and I think this is true. Brain fog numbs the brain, including the spiritually sensitive parts. I would say any "growth" I've done during the intense brain-fog phase has all been in the realm of learning to accept my condition, and not getting too wrapped up in ideas of unfairness or wishing it were otherwise. I think the brain fog actually helps with this, as it reduces me to a survival mode, in which dreams of the future are secondary to getting by in the immediate present. If I can't come to some kind of acceptance about being in a painful situation I cannot control, then I am going to be in a world of psychological hurt.

    I did notice one interesting phenomenon that others might wish to comment on. Now and then, due to some supplement, herb, or just plain luck, I will experience a period where I am "normal," with normal energy, mood, and mental function. These periods usually don't last very long, but during them, I assume they are permanent, and start making all sorts of plans on how I will live my new life with this new energy - starting up all the old projects I have put on the back burner due to having brain fog. And then a curious thing happens - I start feeling anxiety. Before CFS, and before brain fog, I would say I was a fairly driven, anxious person. It was just part of who I was, for whatever reason. It seems that for me, brain fog acts as a "leveler," reducing not only pleasant experiences such as joy, hope, and pleasure, but also unpleasant ones such as anxiety. But when it lifts, the anxiety, and driven qualities of my personality quickly return. So I wish I had the good stuff back, but I'm sure not missing the anxiety. It has been my experience that brain fog does quite a number on the personality. Who am I when my "real" personality, whatever that is, is obscured?
     
  10. Marlène

    Marlène Senior Member

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    How interesting, exactly the same things happen to me once in a while. I had several versions of outer body experiences till now.

    My first spiritual experience was an appearance in my room, three times in a row, shortly after I asked for euthanasia in 2009. I was so sick. He appeared, first I thought I was hallucinating but then he asked me a question: "What is essential to you now?"
    Then the outer body appearances started, sometimes I slipped out of my body, through my toes. Sometimes I flied to the sky as a balloon and saw the earth and seas, once I was projected in the future and talked to my children, I was standing next to my body in a waiting room, ...

    My best friend and I can read each others mind even the weirdest things, when my child had an accident I heard him call my name in my sleep, ...

    None of these things happened to me before I crashed. Probably i was not aware of myself.
     
  11. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I'll be interested to hear your results with these supplements.

    If you are taking several grams of creatine monohydrate, this should be done on an empty stomach, because the stomach acid from digestion can convert creatine monohydrate into a by-product called creatinine (and creatinine can cause cramps in the stomach). I often take a ¼ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda at the same time as taking creatine monohydrate, to neutralize any remaining stomach acid. Incidentally, creatine monohydrate has been shown to be of benefit for fibromyalgia. 1

    Yes, I notice I have jettisoned all plans and dreams for the future out of my mind, and also just deal with the present day or week. For some reason I find it mentally exhausting and even slightly disturbing to make any personal future plans for myself.
     
  12. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    What a beautiful thread! Thank you!

    I once used to teach classes in my church on a regular basis, using scriptural references and stories off the top of my head quite often, with a strong sense of other help beyond me giving me the reminders of those stories. Now, I am lucky to stand up with a group and remember my own name coherently. This was upsetting to me for a long, long time, as I love teaching! Same holds true with other disciplines... just can't pull it to the front of the brain and put it into words very well on the fly any more.

    Another aspect of this has come to light, however, that I try hard to hang onto: whatever I have learned is still in there, just on another level. I still own it. It is mine, however jumbled it may feel. I remember listening to my now deceased mentally retarded step-son saying a prayer: "Mom. Dad. John. Mary." He could say more in a word than I can in a sentence. At night when the mental capacity is GONE I remember his style... and remind myself that it is probably okay with God if I sound like that.

    On the more metaphysical side of this that many have addressed... my capacity to read others is growing. It has been strong for a long time, but now someone walks in a room, and my sense of where they are is heightened. I find myself blocking it, both to protect myself and out of a sense of respecting their privacy. It can be overwhelming. I do not see colors, but I feel energy, which translates to color. Interesting thing is, I remember color later, so must be sensing it from the sixth chakra level.

    I feel so muddled spiritually, and yet so expanded and loved and aware.
     
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  13. currer

    currer Senior Member

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    What colours do you sense, gracieallen, and what do you think they mean?

    Thanks for the touching story about the simple prayer.
     
  14. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    I sense emotions first, as distinct energy patterns around the body. If I remember color, it is usually associated with a chakra. Sometimes it isn't... sometimes I can sense the gray cloud of stuck emotion or the pink fluff of false emotion near an affected body part. There are times when I have seen green with anger, which seems odd, or red with sadness. What they mean... no idea. Still learning. As I can read emotions in the body quite well, haven't worried too much about it, just a little jealous of others who see color.
     
  15. Gestalt

    Gestalt Senior Member

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    I would disagree with the advice of that guy. I have found that increased body awareness enhances my spiritual sense, and is necessary for beginning an out of body experience. In order to disconnect from your body with full conciseness you have to be more consciously aware of it. I think most people that meditate......dissociate from their body into their heads, and this decreases conscious awareness, and makes having an OBE more difficult. It's somewhat counter-intuitive, dissociation is a state of over-activation. So I would say enhancing the mind-body connection is key to letting go of the body. You can't disconnect if you are not aware of what you are disconnecting from.

    There appear to be fundamentally two different types of no-thinking states.
    1. Fully identified with the body and environment. Awareness feels viscerally every inch of the body.
    2. Fully disconnected form the body and environment and awareness is almost completely and only in the head.
    The 1st state is spiritual, the 2nd state is anti-spiritual. Most people seemingly have it reversed, especially those that mediate for long periods of time.

    Most people that mediate get lost in their head or their thoughts. To mediate and have full body awareness without thinking or getting lost in the head is extremely difficult. Most people can only maintain it for a few minutes, and that's how long meditation is good for.

    A large number of people with CFS with a high degree of NMDA activation which causes unpleasant anxiety or continuous neural stimulation which then causes people to further dissociate from their bodies and this is what I believe is seriously damping the spiritual sense. Sharp pain causes people to become more aware, continuous background pain causes people to become less aware. True spiritual sense comes along with a high degree of internal body and external environmental awareness.

    You probably (like me) have the "G;G" version of the OXTR gene (rs53576) that codes for a protein receptor that enhances oxytocin reception. Numerous studies indicate that this enhances empathy and emotional reading capability. Your result can be found via 23andMe raw data analysis.
     
  16. Hell...Hath...No...Fury..

    Hell...Hath...No...Fury.. Senior Member

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    Thats a really interesting concept Gracie, and something I forget to remind myself of when I'm feeling low. Its not lost, its just not available for download as the server is temporarily down lol.
    It made me think of people who use the cloud for virtual storage, (maybe one of the reason's why I don't like the cloud) Our knowledge is being stored in the cloud (or in our case, the fog lol) instead of on our own harddrives within our physical possession.
    We are trying to access our files from the cloud but it has malfunctioned or we've lost our password. So our knowledge is still floating around out there, we just can't access it. Or its being held hostage...
     
  17. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    I really like that analogy, hadn't thought about the cloud. Hmm, wonder if my data is buried in the hard drive or out there floating. :) Not really... must be the hard drive. "We've lost our password." That just got a good laugh out of me. So true! I find that especially with spiritual things, I can have the greatest of intentions, sit down to study or learn something new, and just cannot get my brain around it... have to settle for thinking about the idea that there are new ideas out there, and that at least it is crossing my mind to look for them.

    In the end, though, many people with ME/CFS have more brain power on their worst days than others do on a normal day. I sometimes find myself having discussions with people who have not thought through their own beliefs, and am able to cogently (to my total surprise) outline my own thoughts on the topic. Don't know where it comes from. Must be all that thinking about wanting to function, because it is just suddenly there when it is needed. We're more focused in our muddled, scattered ways than we realize. Compensatory blessings... maybe we are just holding the slip of paper with the password scribbled down upside down and it looks like Arabic.
     
  18. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Interesting issues here!

    Regarding the guy (a OBE course trainer) who said that out-of-body experiences are hampered by meditation: perhaps he was referring to your above type 2 meditation, where the focus of consciousness remains fully within the mind. Some Buddhist mindfulness meditation I was once taught involved just repetitively counting from 1 to 10 silently in your head, and focusing purely on this counting process (although there was some mind-body connection, in that the counting needed to follow the rhythm of your body's breathe). I don't really follow why you are saying that focus within the mind-type meditation is an anti-spiritual state. Though I would guess that type 1 meditation likely has more powerfully enlightening effects than type 2.

    Once in fact we started doing the OBE course, the meditation exercises we did seemed like a super-charged form of your type 1 meditation (type 1 is generally termed Vipassana meditation — a total focus on the minute sensations of the body and the environment, a meditation with a very good reputation for creating profound effects). I started having very lucid dreams just after one day on the OBE course, and I almost never have such dreams, so these OBE meditation exercises certainly did have a strong effect on me (even though OBEs and lucid dreams are not really considered the same thing).

    Incidently, Vipassana I understand is a form of mediation most associated with precipitating insanity in a very small subset of susceptible people! Which just indicates that Vipassana can have profound effects, and like any strong technique, can occasionally cause unwanted side effects.



    Most interesting. I would like to do a 23andMe DNA test at some point.
     
  19. Gestalt

    Gestalt Senior Member

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    Yes a lot of the Buddhist meditation techniques (which are the most common by far) would be counterproductive to increasing body & emotional awareness and thus OBE projection ability. I have some buddhist friends that are very hyper-aware of their mind and their thoughts and maybe even their breath but are totally disconnected from their emotions and their bodies which are felt more so with the Enteric nervous system (the gut). There is a philosophical aspect to this as well since Buddhism traditionally teaches denial of the flesh which encourages dissociation of the body and it's intricate connection with emotions. People who feel emotions predominately in their head as opposed to in their body are going down the wrong track. I posted an exploration of aspects of this on my blog here and here.


    Vispassana is the closest you will probably get to a more ideal form of meditation as long as it's not over-done. 99% of people on the planet are mostly in a state of physical & emotional dissociation usually from past trauma not properly released from the nervous system. Emotional issues not withstanding people with CFS have it particularly bad, in that chronic gut and brain inflammation will inherently cause the mind to dissociate from the body for comfort reasons. I believe to regain that spiritual sense, training the mind to be more aware of the body & especially emotions felt in the Enteric nervous system after recovery is key. I am learning how to do this with a psychotherapy disciple named: Self Regulation Therapy.
     
  20. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    Gestalt, your comments about dissociation are spot on for me. When I was healthier, I made it a practice to notice when I was dissociating from my mind, body, and feelings, with the intention of being more present in the moment. I had a pretty bad crash 2 years ago, though, and I sure changed my tune. For a short while, I tried to push through with my meditation practice and be present with the discomfort, but I soon abandoned this as just too painful, and I wasn't getting much benefit from it anyway. It became the rational choice to be more dissociated from my bodily experience. Why would I want to be aware of that? Now that the crash has lifted a little, I'm going back to meditation, but not being as rigorous about it as I used to - "just being" is more my style now, rather than a style that requires a lot of concentration.

    When it comes to difficult emotions - emotional pain - I'm a fan of meeting it head on, "looking for trouble," with the assumption that looking at an emotional knot will allow it to unravel all the quicker. Earlier, I had found this to be true with garden-variety pain using Vipassana. But brain-fog pain is something else. I did not find that it lessened if I put attention on it, probably because the act of putting attention on it tired my already-tired and fuzzy brain all the more, thus causing more brain fog. Vipassana meditation also didn't do much for "background noise" achey pain. It seems that in such a case, the most skillful means is to distract the mind from the pain, and reset the overwhelmed nervous system. I looked up Self Regulation Therapy, and it seems similar to other somatic therapies I have studied that are used to treat trauma. I think chronic illness and chronic pain can rightly be considered traumas to the nervous system, and that such therapies may be able to offer some temporary relief from symptoms. I had a session once with a Somatic Experiencing practioner on a day when I had crazy brain fog. I was skeptical it would work on a medical condition, but she taught me some orienting resources, and it reduced my distress.

    One technique I've been using on myself when experiencing physical unpleasantness is to first focus on the affected area, then find a part of my body that feels neutral, and focus on that for a while. The nervous system seems to reset when I do this, as the mind is aware not of the painful part, but of the neutral part. I can then test it by focussing back on the painful part, which is usually not so painful anymore. Try it! You can even try focussing on a part of your body that is feeling pleasant, if you can find one of those.

    I think one way to look at it is that we experience physical pain and dysregulated nervous systems due to CFS, then the body feels unsafe and goes into panic mode, which further dysregulates the nervous system. Not much we can do about the initial CFS symptoms, but perhaps some of the mind/body therapies can help with the trauma response. It us an unexplored field. I asked some therapist friends who have studied somatic trauma therapies such as Somatic Experiencing and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and did a little research myself about using these methods to treat the nervous system symptoms of chronic pain/illness, and could fine no one out there doing/researching/writing about this. Gestalt, I would be very interested to hear your experiences with Self-Regulation Therapy. Did I understand you correctly in mentioning training the mind to become more aware of the body "after" recovery? Have you recovered somewhat, and do you think what you are doing would be effective at relieving nervous system symptoms during a full-blown crash?
     
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