Daily Brain Retraining
I would love to share a basic outline of what my daily brain retraining looks like, in a way that honors the hard-earned copyright of the DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) program! If, after reading this, you would like to explore the specific steps of the DNRS program, I highly recommend you either take the online DNRS course, or purchase the DNRS DVD set to learn the steps. It has been life changing for me and for Travis.
To begin, let’s first consider the topic of neuroplasticity, the science that all of this brain retraining is based upon:
“The term neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change. It is an innate quality of the human brain and is neither positive nor negative; rather, it is reflective of our life experiences. The process of neuroplasticity is involved in all learning. It is how we learn to speak, to eat, and to tie our shoes. It is involved every time we learn a new fact, meet a new person, or see a new landscape. However, in response to trauma, the ways in which the brain changes are not always good or healthy. From Dr. Doidge, I [Annie Hopper] learned about the many different scientists in this field and the varied ways in which the human brain can structure and restructure itself, especially to accommodate any number of injuries, disabilities, and seemingly incurable diseases. Dr. Doidge’s description of the plasticity of the brain gave me hope and renewed my determination to find a resolution to my own brain related illnesses.” -Annie Hopper, Wired For Healing
The study of neuroplasticity is still in its infancy (not even as old as I am), and it is expanding the way that scientists (and, slowly, the medical community) are viewing the onset of disease and recovery from disease. From the research that has already been set in motion, many chronic and mysterious illnesses may be due to a physical brain injury. To me this is amazing, and the treatment has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in the past 13 years of trying to regain my health. Who would have thought that the perfect storm of viral, emotional, pharmaceutical, and fungal trauma could have caused a brain injury, a physical rewiring in my brain, as a way for my brain to try and protect me from further harm? Not me!
HERE IS THE BASIC OUTLINE FOR HOW TRAVIS AND I DAILY REWIRE OUR BRAINS:
1. Recognize what triggers you. (P.S. We all have triggers)
2. Recognize that your limbic system (the fight-or-flight part of the brain) is responding to these triggers in ways that are not helpful to you anymore. These responses may have been helpful during a time of intensity in your life, but are not supporting the health and healing your body presently needs.
3. Through word, thought, action, and behavior, you physically rewire your brain out of “fight-or-flight” neural pathways and into “rest-and-digest” neural pathways.
4. You train before, during, and after a trigger moment. (For example, I recognized certain triggers I had with food before I added many foods. I spent time retraining my brain’s neural pathways to respond differently so that when I DID eat a new food, my body had a new, healthy neural path to travel down, rather than the old one that was stuck in survival mode. I also added things in small amounts. In this way, I was honoring the process of training “in my zone” and not overstimulation my brain. A slight challenge is usually considered better than an enormous challenge.) You train on each trigger until it is not a trigger for you anymore.
5. You spend time in past memories and future “memories” in order to help the brain build healthy neural pathways.
6. You give yourself a TON of grace and you congratulate yourself as if you had just walked a tightrope across Niagara Falls because the work you are doing is intense and awesome! However you need to congratulate yourself and love yourself, you DO it!
7. Reinforce your learning! Some examples: keep a positive results journal, create a vision board with all sorts of things you envision yourself enjoying and participating in, deep breathe, engage in as many positive emotions as possible throughout the day (to engage and grow those new and healthy neural pathways), rest, exercise, learn new ways of doing old things (have a friend teach you how to they tie their shoes – I will bet that it is different than the way you do it!), do things with your non-dominant hand (like sign the credit card machine at Meijer with your non-dominant hand), and mix up your routine (drive a new way to work, walk backwards up a hill on your daily walk (like we do sometimes), wash the dishes starting from the opposite side of the sink as you normally do, wear different colors then you normally do, eat with chopsticks (even try this with ice cream or something really unusual), try different spices in your cooking, sit at a different spot at the dinner table, sit somewhere else in church or in the classroom, go in to work through a new door, listen to different music, wear glasses when you normally wear contacts, chew fruity gum instead of minty gum, try playing a new game…the list goes on! You can be creative!). These things are support mechanisms for the active brain rewiring that Travis and I are doing, yet you can do these things even if you are not using a program to rewire your brain. It is all in the category of neuroplasticity. Plus, it’s fun!
8. See the health and peace return as the days, weeks, and months go by!
1. Annie Hopper informs us that these brain injuries are not our fault. We do not willfully choose to get stuck in a state of “fight or flight”. It is an involuntary process that the brain implements in order to protect us. Neither do we choose to wallow in sickness for years on end. Again, in many cases of chronic illness, the cross-wiring of the brain sent the body false messages, and the body was physically sick/anxious/depressed/etc.
To summarize, whatever chronic issue you are dealing with is “not all in your head”. It is a physical brain injury.
2. You do not need to rely on external therapies for your healing. What you need is within you. This is an inexpensive and astonishing form of treatment.
3. These are tools that you can use the rest of your life for keeping your brain and body healthy!
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
If you want to learn how to rewire a few triggers in your own life, and be amazed at the power of the brain, check out the DNRS website, and read these books:
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Dr. Daniel Amen
The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Dr. Norman Doidge
If you are dealing with a chronic illness or a mysterious illness (often they come together), or if you would like further reading on neuroplasticity and the brain, read these books:
Wired For Healing, by Annie Hopper (founder of DNRS, the program we are using to rewire our brains)
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Dr. Joe Dispenza
The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton
My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
NOW FOR RECENT PHOTOS OF OUR JOURNEY!
We each paddle boarded and loved it! We are retraining on back pain (Travis) and stamina (Mariah). Yahoo!
We are learning as a couple how to expect health instead of dis-ease in our life together.
With love and gratitude,
Mariah and Travis