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Does brain fog reduce the spiritual sense?

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

  1. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Hi Hip, I can relate to what you're saying. I don't tend to look at this as being banished from divine contact, but rather not being able to experience it in the way I could if I was healthier. Sometimes just "knowing" that divine contact is there is enough for me, even though I may not experience it fully at any given time.
    L'engle likes this.
  2. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    For me, this loss (or substantial reduction) of the spiritual sense has created kind of internal loneliness that is not even remedied by socializing.

    In my case though, I had what appeared to be an episode of viral meningitis, and this caused quite a significant change in my mental abilities. In particular, I found that my spiritual and empathetic skills were greatly diminished after that meningitis episode. There is spiritual faculty in the brain, and I think if there is some damage or biochemical imbalance in that faculty, you may lose the spiritual disposition you once had. Though sometimes the reverse happens, and people that develop a brain condition — like epilepsy for example — may experience greatly increased spiritual proclivities. Historically, epileptics were often considered to be spiritual visionaries.

    I remember years ago reading a story about an individual who got severely poisoned by mercury (from a serious industrial accident). This person kept complaining that he felt internally, his mind had been completely cut of from God. I can relate to that. Somehow, the mercury had affected his brain's spiritual faculties.

    I even think now that the loss of the spiritual sense may explain how some people suffer from existential crisis. Suddenly I understand why those atheistic existential French philosophers thought the way they did. Maybe it was absinthe in their cases that messed up their brains...

    I like to think, though, that this loss of the spiritual sense is only due to a biochemical imbalance, rather than any permanent damage; that way, if you can rectify the imbalance, then your faculties should be returned to you.
    L'engle and Wayne like this.
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Senior Member

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    Again, I can relate. Regarding existential crisis, it appears this is what some spiritual literature refers to as "the dark night of Soul". --- To sort of directly reply to the title of the thread, as to whether brain fog reduces a spiritual sense. As with most things having to do with ME/CFS, the answer isn't so straightforward. For me, the answer is both yes and no.

    Yes, in that I go through "down" cycles where I do experience and notice this diminishment. No, in that I'm fortunate enough to have (dependable) up cycles as well. In the up cycles, I actually experience a "spiritual vitality" that grows with time. I feel I've been able to accomplish this by daily practicing (in creative ways) the HU Song I reference in my signature. As with all things, especially spiritual, what is harmonious and works well for one person, may not be so for another.
    L'engle likes this.
  4. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Does spiritual consciousness really reside in the brain? And is it dependent on brain functioning? This is a question that I've wrestled with a lot. Current neuro science would answer in the affirmative, but somehow it makes me uncomfortable to agree with them. I am not in any way a fan of material reductionism, and never have been. :p:p:p So of course, I want to rebel against this kind of conclusion. And fortunately my rebellion has definitely paid off on a number of occasions.

    I've had many instances of being able to connect with spirit in spite of overwhelming symptoms and the fog in my racing brain. I cannot do it at will, and don't think I could conjure up a formula for how I pull it off. But it just happened yesterday, in the midst of a viral episode and a rather upsetting forum experience, so I've been reminded again that it is definitely possible.

    What set me on the right track is remembering to accept and embrace whatever I am feeling in the moment. That is the clincher, and is often a very hard thing to do. We all like to resist pain and discomfort and attempt to "fix" it rather than embrace it. In fact, we're culturally programmed, from a very early age, to buck up and shut up, repress what we feel and push against it. We're taught by any number of supposedly brilliant philosophical and spiritual thinkers that all the "messy" feelings we feel, like despair, depression, rage, envy, grief, terror, etc... are wrong, bad, crazy, pathological, and definitely UN-spiritual. With that kind of harsh and limiting belief buzzing around in your head, you are surely screwed when it comes to finding your "spiritual sense!"

    Unfortunately, that which we judge, repress and resist will most definitely persist! And yet we resist anyway... it's what we were taught to do, and because it has become such an engrained human habit, we think of it as NORMAL. (Yuk!)

    The question, as my very perceptive therapist/friend would ask in these moments is: who are you really? Who is having this thought right now? Who is experiencing this moment? If you ask that question honestly and follow it, (listen, see, feel it) you just might find the way back to that sense of self that you think you have lost. And the weird thing is... it has been there all along. :aghhh:
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  5. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I completely support your rebellion against material reductionism when it comes to understanding consciousness!

    I also don't think consciousness is localized inside the brain. I think the brain is a material object that (when it functions properly) can tune into consciousness, or generate consciousness; but I think consciousness itself likely has independence from the physical brain. I look at it as the brain having a kind of internal antenna that picks up consciousness.

    This very subject formed part of the debate during the Age of Reason (Scientific Enlightenment), with the Romantic thinkers viewing the mind as mystical and infinite, and the Scientific Enlightenment thinkers seeing the mind as a machine whose component parts could be understood in reductionist terms.

    I used to be interested in quantum theories of consciousness, and these theories seem to throw light on this debate. In quantum theory, you have all sorts of non-physical and non-local phenomena going on. So if human consciousness is a quantum phenomenon, as some very brilliant scientists believe it is, then (a) it means that consciousness is indeed a non-material entity; and (b) it means that the consciousness of an individual mind may have non-physical links to other minds and to the rest of the cosmos.

    Quantum theories of consciousness are very interesting, as they hint that the Romantics were right. And these theories may eventually lead to a much needed synthesis of science and religion.
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  6. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    YES, the Romantics! The GERMAN Romantics! That is an era that I absolutely love, love, love! What a dynamic period in history. It was such a relief, after all those years of oppression, after all those centuries of the Church's stranglehold on intellectual thought. Goethe was a biggie in that era. He was an outspoken pantheist, who found God in Nature.... something I can very much relate to.

    If you want to see a good film about this time period, check out Proteus. It's about the life of Ernst Haeckel, a German artist/scientist who wrestled for many years with the issue of mysticism vs science, and found the answer through his studies of the tiny sea creature called radiolarian. The film is on Netflix. Just awesome! I actually watched it 4X.

    I can see the connection between the Romantics and some of the quantum physicists, but I have to admit I prefer the former. The art and music, and creative energies got me there!

  7. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    This makes sense to me. We can do all sorts of work trying to modify the antenna so that it works better, but if it has a bad day or crashes and doesn't get the right neurochemicals, it still won't work. Seems unfair! I also resonate with what Wayne said about remembering times when he has experienced more spiritual connection. Even though I may not be able to experience things as I have experienced before, I can still have the memories of those experiences and accompanying worldviews, which is not the same as a blind belief. You may turn the light on and perceive the snake as a stick, then the light goes off and it looks like a snake again, but you have the memory of seeing it as a stick, so it's not as scary.

    On another note, I've been experimenting with chiropractic adjustments recently. I told the chiropractor about my CFS/brain fog, and he thought I might have a rib pressing against one of the veins that brings blood to the brain. Sure enough, after a good adjustment, my brain is all bright and sparkly again, I have a good mood, and the world looks exciting and wonderful. Then something shifts in less than 24 hours, and I fall back into a more brain-foggy state. I'm sure that I still have CFS, rather than this being a pure chiropractic issue, as too many of the symptoms match, but it has been nice to get some temporary relief.
    L'engle likes this.
  8. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Which particular antioxidants did you take when this experience happened?
  9. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Certainly the memories of past spiritual activities, what was directly learned from them, and the worldviews gained from them, are still valid and valuable.

    It's funny, though, how with ME/CFS, you can become a bit of a simulated emulation of your former self!

    Even if I consider my character and personality traits, I tend to think about my personality characteristics before I got ME/CFS, rather than myself with ME/CFS. I think the assumption that all of us with ME/CFS make is that the old self is just hidden behind the veil of brain fog and fatigue, but is basically still there. Given that people do get sometimes remission from ME/CFS, and return to their normal selves, I don't think this assumption is far wrong.
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  10. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I've read a little bit of Goethe. Just like the Romantic movement in general, he has this life-affirming quality. Nietzsche was one of my favorites; it's always impressive when an individual actually loses their very sanity in the pursuit of their intellectual or artistic goals!

    I seem to vacillate from the natural sciences to the liberal arts, going through phases of each. I find when in the extreme phase of one side, I often feel aversion the language and thought processes of the other side. So I can quite understand how you may not be so attracted to Romantic ideas recast in quantum mechanical terms!
    L'engle likes this.
  11. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I was fascinated with the character of Goethe's Faust, when I read that book in college. I knew plenty of scientific materialists who lived in a world of despair, like Faust did, and were willing to make a "deal with the devil" to get a glimpse of the transcendence they both craved and dismissed. It's a modern problem that affects many of us, some more than others, and Goethe's play went straight to the heart of it. A really brilliant piece of art.

    Goethe, the person, as I've read in bios about him, was a real character: mystic, naturalist, artist, politician and ladies man. As an aristocrat botanist, he enjoyed the natural world, but in a very removed style. He would be driven around in a carriage through the woods, and to avoid getting himself dirty, he would send one of his servants out to fetch the plant specimens that he wished to have. It's a funny image that has stayed with me! :)

    Nietzche was definitely my favorite western philosopher, and his book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, is one of my favorite philosophical writings. It's actually sort of hilarious in places, but in a profound way. I love the line about: "writing with blood," from one's true experience, and also really like the end of that particular section, about only believing in a God who knows how to dance.

    "Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit.
    It is no easy task to understand unfamiliar blood; I hate the reading idlers.
    He who knoweth the reader, doeth nothing more for the reader. Another century of readers—and spirit itself will stink.
    Every one being allowed to learn to read, ruineth in the long run not only writing but also thinking.
    Once spirit was God, then it became man, and now it even becometh populace.
    He that writeth in blood and proverbs doth not want to be read, but learnt by heart....

    Life is hard to bear: but do not affect to be so delicate! We are all of us fine sumpter asses and she-asses.
    What have we in common with the rose-bud, which trembleth because a drop of dew hath formed upon it?
    It is true we love life; not because we are wont to live, but because we are wont to love.
    There is always some madness in love. But there is always, also, some method in madness.
    And to me also, who appreciate life, the butterflies, and soap-bubbles, and whatever is like them amongst us, seem most to enjoy happiness.
    To see these light, foolish, pretty, lively little sprites flit about—that moveth Zarathustra to tears and songs.
    I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance.
    And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity—through him all things fall.
    Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!
    I learned to walk; since then have I let myself run. I learned to fly; since then I do not need pushing in order to move from a spot.
    Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under myself. Now there danceth a God in me.—
    Thus spake Zarathustra."
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  12. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    It was edifying to find out from reading Alice Miller's work, that Nietzsche was raised by some strict fundamentalist Christian parents. That explains a lot about his distaste for the conventional morality and religion of his time, and his craving for a greater insight into spirit. He was definitely a rebel genius. I wish I could have had the chance to hang out and chat with him in person.

    "God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"'

    —Nietzsche, The Gay Science,
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  13. Mr. Cat

    Mr. Cat Senior Member

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    The funniest thing for me was when people would ask me what my hobbies were. I used to actually respond that my hobbies were hiking and dancing for quite a while after I could no longer do those activities. After a while, I realized that I didn't really have any hobbies. Even reading, the most basic hobby there is, was too hard for my CFS brain for a while, so I couldn't even say I liked to read. I think we can easily try to define who we are by what we do. If you're not satisfied with the identity of a person who doesn't do that much, then you have to look a bit deeper. So maybe who I am is what I think? Well my brain-foggy thoughts aren't all that profound. I don't like that identity either! My personality, which comes and goes with the neurochemical tides? Who am I really? No wonder it is tempting to try to identify with our former selves, who were probably much more interesting, at least on the outside.
  14. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I am still the same person I was all along. The illness hasn't changed the core of me, just the external manifestations. The people who can see that are the only ones worth keeping around. The "other" people, the ones who need to be impressed by supposedly impressive things, can be fun to mess with though. :):cool: When asked "what I do" I have come up with some interesting answers for them. My favorite so far is: I have been exploring the void of human consciousness for signs of life. hehehe. Makes perfect sense to me!
    MishMash likes this.
  15. baccarat

    baccarat Senior Member

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    [/quote]
    Thanks Hip, yes I know a bit about him, a great mind.
  16. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

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    Im not up to reading this thread but in reply to the question "Does brain fog reduce the spiritual sense?" for myself that is a big yes.
  17. Tristen

    Tristen Senior Member

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    My ex frequently commented on how I didn't live in my body and that she believed that was why my body had become so sick. She was right about the first part, but not the latter. For as long as I can remember, I've had the persepctive of this being a soul journey with my body being but a vessel of transportation, communication, and experience. Like the saying goes....a spirit having a physical experience, not the other way around. Looking back over my life, even as a child before embarking on any deliberate spiritual quests, I lived in this consciousness. I just didn't put words to it, or intellectually acknowledge it.

    Anyhow, so I never really believed in the "mind-body connection". I didn't believe anything happening in my physical body could cloud my connection with Self (and I've had some really traumatic things happen to my body long before me/cfs). But I was wrong. In my early years with me/cfs struggling and fighting for answers as to what had gone so horribly wrong with my body, I went through many very painful losses. I had lost my marriage, social life, ability to do my work which I felt to be an expression of my true Self and then ended up bedbound sick. But the final blow came with a disconnect with my source of true strength...my connection with my Self which after much time left me feeling disillusioned and scared.

    It's been some years since falling into that abyss and I have made not only much progress with managaing this disease, but with acceptance of the need to rewrite the script of my physical life. I go in and out of that connection with Self now days, but I still do not believe that disconnect to be reality. I just believe the disease clouds the connection but does not harm Self. Still it is painful and disconcerting to lose the connection.

    What I have found helps me most in this regard is remain of service to others as much as possible. I had even found ways to do that when bedbound. The other is the forest. Even at my best I can't hike in the forests very far, but to just go and sit is refreshing. "Nature was made to conspire with Spirit for it's emancipation".

    This topic is something that has been huge to me now for many years struggling with me/cfs. I feel inspired after reading most of this thread. Thanks everyone for sharing these experiences which re-remind me of who I really am and what matters most.
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  18. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Hi Tristen--I can relate to this. On my worst days it feels like my brain is filled with really loud static. But in spite of that I know there is a clear connection beyond all that superficial noise, and I just have to remember it.

    Yes! Nature is one of the most healing forces in my life. Here's to the trees!

    Redwood cathedral.jpg
  19. Tristen

    Tristen Senior Member

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    Thank you for that beautiful pic of the trees DB. Your right that sometimes it's about remembering. Here's a pic of one of my old hiking trails close to home. Home.jpg
  20. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    Gorgeous! Where do you live? I want to come visit. :)

    My birthday was last week and we took a long drive up the coast. Being by the ocean always makes me feel better, and more tuned in to both body and spirit. Happiness has a way of doing that. Here's a few of the photos I took.

    2013-02-19 16.04.28.jpg 2013-02-19 16.10.24.jpg 2013-02-19 16.33.16.jpg 2013-02-19 16.33.46.jpg 2013-02-19 16.50.23.jpg View attachment 4540

    2013-02-19 15.59.23.jpg

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