In these past couple of months there have been periods when my brain just hasn't been working as well as it once used to.
The other night I turned right when google maps said 'turn left'. I struggled to find my new sock draw after my partner Lea did some furniture re-arranging and have been frequently missing some quite obvious stains on the dishes. Sometimes I wondered if this is what it feels like to be 'pleasantly demented', as I reflected on the days when I used to visit aged care facilities. I also felt the struggles of patients I have seen - over these past nine years - who speak of brain fog and incessant fatigue, for whom a Good Day is when they can get out of bed and do an hour of gardening or perhaps some shopping. And I was reminded of a friend's recollection of her time caring for a brilliant physics professor who was near the end of his life and had forgotten all his theories and discoveries.
So I tried all kinds of vitamins, herbs, medicines, acupuncture points and protocols to give my brain a kick start. However nothing really seemed to work. We installed a special device to help neutralize EMF (electromagnetic frequencies); this did help, but it was certainly no miracle cure.
Then I went to my favorite spot in nature, on a slope about 20 meters from our front door underneath a majestic turpentine tree and sat cross legged. If I connected fully with my heart, did it really matter if my brain wasn't working all that well?
I attended deeply to my heart's intuition as I brought into awareness my own struggles and the challenges I saw happening around me. I listened for the message, the medicine, the teaching, the gift that each heart chamber had to share with me. I encountered many layers of conditioning, especially around what is called the 'slave self' - that part of us that resigns to feeling powerless and unconsciously submits to the systems and expectations which are so deeply embedded in our modern culture. I discovered the disowned part of me who longs to be powerful, dominant, judgmental and controlling - but also holds the pain of being shut down.
This powerless - powerful dynamic, I saw, had played out strongly for several generations in my family tree, as I vividly felt the pain that my grandparents endured as they moved through the harsh reality of world war II, when their country Austria was invaded. I barely knew them in person, yet I knew their fear and pain deeply in my heart.
Then I entered the abyss. The survival terror, the sense that 'I'm gonna die' which preceded the fragmentation into powerless and powerful. The terror of this abyss - wanting to escape it at all costs - is what my powerless and powerful parts had arisen in response to. Wow, what a ride! Intense waves of energy came through which I could breathe out and release, while at the same time feeling safe, supported and protected by the sweet, strong radiant heart field.
I was amazed that as I leapt into the abyss through the door of my heart, my brain came alive as well. I was reminded of some research by the Heart Math Institute that we take in information through the heart a split second before it reaches the brain, and that the heart's nervous system sends more signals to the brain that the other way round. Yay!
I also reflected on my many years of reading books, going to spiritual teachings and contemplating intensely with an unbridled passion to understand Shunyata, also known as Emptiness, Buddha Nature or Christ Consciousness. I realized these teachings all pointed not to something light and lovely, but to the courage to enter the abyss. That split second moment of overwhelming terror where it feels like our identity is being ripped apart, in response to which many layers of our identity form and solidify to keep us feeling safe and secure. The paradoxical experience of groundlessness and fullness unveiling our fundamental, timeless goodness. Yet the great cost of the survival instinct which covers this up - sometimes called the ego or small self - is that we feel separate and perhaps emotionally numbed out, cocooned off from the rest of the world in our own little bubble...
So there is my little tale of the gift I discovered when I feared I was losing my brain. I pray that this gift be passed on to others. I pray that we can view this challenging time - when everything seems to be falling apart on the surface - as an opportunity to step into a massive upgrade and heal our personal and collective trauma through the utterly unstoppable power of the heart.