The benefits of meditation for people living with a TBI. Limits to the adaptability of the nervous system to stimulus. Benefits or karma, lessons to be learned from a TBI.
Dr. Peter Van Houten, MD, is a graduate of UCSF Medical School, founder of the Sierra Family Clinic, co author of several books on yoga for health problems. He lectures on relaxation, meditation and its effects on the brain. He has a special interest in the brain, behavior and spiritual development.
Interview with Dr. Peter Part II
Dr. Peter describes neuroplasticity as the brain’s ability to change in function and in physical architecture. Meditating 12 to 15 minutes a day is enough to get benefits. It strengthens the governing effect of the prefrontal lobes over the limbic system. It could help those with a TBI to get their emotions better under control. It can increase their ability to be in a stimulating environment, improve sleep, help with concentration, improve memory and reduce use of recreational drugs. For those lamenting that they can no longer focus to accomplish tasks the way they use to, meditation can increase the ability to concentrate. Meditation has shown to boost mood and increase interest in interacting with others. Within a few weeks of meditation, an adaptation in the brain can be measured.
On the question of whether there is a limit to the adaptability of the nervous system to the increasing stimulus of day to day life, Dr. Peter believes that we have not discovered the full potential of the brain/nervous system. In 1980 we still believed the brain did not change after the age of 25. We thought all of the growth of the neurons and all of the connections were done.
Now we know more about neuroplasticity, the brains ability to change. We have now gained understanding of the correlation of gut bacteria, the immune system and the brain functioning. Life style can affect the brain. The brain adapts to what it is asked to do and projects into the future. Changes in structure and function of the brain are based on what it is anticipating it will be asked to do. The brain will experience hours with electromagnetic devices, internet and TV as normal when submitted to it on a regular basis. Dr. Peter recommends to “put a cap” on the time we spend with those devices and suggests to practice healthier habits. Walking and meditating are some habits that affect the brain in a positive way.
He encourages friends and family to have conversations about what it is like to live with a TBI. Developing strategies how to better cope with hyper sensitivity is easier when there is understanding by others.
When asked about karma and lessons to be learned in this lifetime, Dr. Peter points out the importance of attitude. The ability to accept what happened to them, focusing on what positive steps can be taken is needed to move forward. What steps can I take to make me stronger? He encourages others to deal with the challenges creatively, to make adjustments that increase the quality of life. Whether to call it fate, or karma, it is the reality we have to deal with. The task is to find out how can I be happy while living with these challenges.