It was with a certain amount of skepticism that I approached the whole brain training/meditation thing. After all, Migraine is a neurological disease right? How could something as wimpy as that tackle something as serious and painful as migraine?
My brother was the person who got me onto thinking about it. He is a migraineur that suffers bouts so severe he has ended up in hospital with symptoms identical to a stroke. He is a successful entrepreneur and businessman and manages his migraines with a mixture of 80mgs daily of Amitriptyline and Brain Training.
I met with him recently and managed to pin him down for an Interview:
Tracy: What do you see as the real and lasting benefits of Brain Training and Meditation?
Louis: It helps make you more affective and productive by focusing on calming the body and the mind. It lowers your stress levels and blood pressure, both major triggers in migraine.
Tracy: So let me get this straight, when you wake up, it stops your brain starting off the day at 100 miles an hour.
(Both my brother and myself, have manic episodes just before a migraine)
Louis: You are using Affirmations to eradicate defeatist thoughts and replacing them with positive and productive ones.
“Decide how you wanna show up that day, and convince your brain to do it.”
Louis used the example of a bad day at work, and knowing it is going to be a bad day. You can either go in and feel swamped, or you can go in with the attitude, I’m going to work through what comes up methodically. He guarantees at the end of the day you will feel you’ve accomplished something.
Tracy: Yes but does it stop pain – has it actually had an impact on your migraines?
Louis: Yes. It has lowered my stress and my blood pressure. I have had less down days and fewer episodes of migraine.
This led me to the question I was itching to ask: Are you saying I can actually increase serotonin levels to stave off depression as well as migraines?
Those who suffer from depression and those who have migraine, both have low levels of serotonin.
Louis: Yes, you very definitely can. You must imagine you are a character in your own book. You get to control how you want to play out your day – every day. You can decide how you look, how you feel. It is all Changeable and Trainable.
Remember tiredness, overwhelm and exhaustion leads to migraine.
It certainly gave me food for thought and I was determined to try it. I guess it’s common sense to take time for yourself, take a breather and slow life down. Charging about simply has to send those stress levels up. But what if that is your job, your life with your family etc … and you can’t always get away from it all. Then I think something like this could be for you.
This is what I did.
I decided to set my alarm ten minutes early in the morning. Do not press the snooze button. It will be worth it. Not having to rush around because you’re late for work/school is the first thing for chilling you out for the day.
If like me, you wake up with a feeling of doom as your default setting for what you have to do that day, this is perfect for reprogramming those irrational thoughts.
Break down what you have to do into chunks. Give them a little positive twist:
Day job – get out of the house and meet people. Listen to podcast in lunchtime.
Commute into London – Get to read something totally indulgent on the way there and home.
Spend time social networking before work.
Allocate an hour of creative writing in the evening.
My logic can then tell me; this is a good productive day. My feeling of doom is actually just that, and is totally unfounded. I can now get up out of bed and power through my day.
Think about it. If I had listened to my usual feeling of doom (low serotonin) I would have started my day already feeling tired instead of empowered. Your actions will be slow. Those first thoughts of the day would have dictated everything.
Low energy and movement = stress from needing to get stuff done and not having the energy = Migraine.
See if it works for you and let me know how you get on.
I used an Audio book from Audible or you can get the CD: ‘Meditations to Change your brain’ by Rick Mendius MD and Rick Hanson PhD.
Make it your new year’s resolution to train your brain to fewer migraines happiness.