Can the Wim Hof Breathing Technique help schizophrenia?

Short answer: Who knows? No one appears to be investigating this resilience boosting and acid lowering technique for people with schizophrenia.

Long answer: Worth a shot.

Why am I interested? Our family’s functional medicine doctor recommended it to Chris as just one tool in set of tools (supplements, homeopathy, and targeted exercise) to reduce his anxiety and fatigue, help him become more active, and help him into a person who avoids talking about oranges when the subject is apples.

Our whole family is into the Wim Hof method, which can also involve taking cold showers to boost resilience (stress response) and increase neurological function.

For more information about how The Iceman’s practices can help you, click here

Too much going on now to write about properly

Since Ian retired at the end of March and arrived home in Florida a couple of weeks ago after eight months away, I’ve had my hands full adjusting to our new retired normal. Thankfully, Chris is out of the house and living on his own so there is one less personality to deal with on a daily basis. (Insert emoji smiley face.) The last few weeks have been days filled with administrative tasks involved in “hubby’s” transition from work to retirement. He’s making “helpful” suggestions to add to my growing to-do list. Grrr. He wants everything done now!

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll get the results of Chris’s second brain mapping at the neurofeedback center. We’ll find out what has changed after his undergoing twenty neurofeedback sessions.

Did I tell you that Chris has also been sleeping under a weighted blanket for the past few weeks? He loves it! I got the idea from an article that Ian sent me about a woman who mistakenly purchased a weighted blanket on Amazon, and slept through the night for the first time in a long time. These blankets have been used in the autism community for years. Amongst other things the blankets stimulate the release of serotonin to alleviate the effects of many anxiety related conditions. He does seem less anxious. Is this the effect of the neurofeedback? Or is it because he’s more and more on his own and no longer being nagged at by me? Or is it that he’s back on 1 ml of Abilify?

I may have fixed my A-fib using natural methods. I won’t say anything more about this until after my appointment with the electrophysiologist later this month. I seem to have gotten my heart rate under control, but will need ECG results to know if the heart rate variability has improved. Too soon to cry victory.

Søren Kierkegaard on anxiety

From Opinionator
March 17, 2012, 2:30 pm

The Danish Doctor of Dread


The way we negotiate anxiety plays no small part in shaping our lives and character. And yet, historically speaking, the lovers of wisdom, the philosophers, have all but repressed thinking about that amorphous feeling that haunts many of us hour by hour, and day by day. The 19th-century philosopher-theologian Soren Kierkegaard stands as a striking exception to this rule. It was because of this virtuoso of the inner life that other members of the Socrates guild, such as Heidegger and Sartre, could begin to philosophize about angst.

It is in our anxiety that we come to understand feelingly that we are free, that the possibilities are endless.

Though he was a genius of the intellectual high wire, Kierkegaard was a philosopher who wrote from experience. And that experience included considerable acquaintance with the chronic, disquieting feeling that something not so good was about to happen. In one journal entry, he wrote, “All existence makes me anxious, from the smallest fly to the mysteries of the Incarnation; the whole thing is inexplicable, I most of all; to me all existence is infected, I most of all. My distress is enormous, boundless; no one knows it except God in heaven, and he will not console me….”

Is there any doubt that were he alive today he would be supplied with a refillable prescription for Xanax?

Read the rest here.

My love affair with Lucia, the Lucid Light Stimulator

On Sunday my husband Ian and I attended a hands-on demontration of Lucia, The Lucid Light Stimulator created by Dirk Proekl and Engelbert Winkler.

Dirk Proeckl is a neurologist as well as psychologist working in his own medical practice in Wörgl. Tirol, Austria. His special interests focus on the interaction between psyche and nervous system. He has studied multimodal psychosomatic rehabilitation of migraine; the distribution of neurotransmitters within the central nervous system; the readyness potential in he electroencephalogram and dipol source analysis of color-evoked potentials and of epileptic potentials in the electroencephalogram. In recent years he has worked in collaboration with Engelbert Winkler on the topic of optimizing their methods to achieve the state of Hypnagogic Light Experience, including the implications for understanding synesthesia.

Engelbert Winkler is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and legal consultant for children’s and youth´s issues with his own practice in Wörgl, Tirol, Austria. In 1994 he founded a family counseling institute named Kooperative Familienberatung. He studied philosophy, pediatrics and psychology in Innsbruck. He is also certified through further study in existential analysis, hypnotherapy and other disciplines. He is particularly interested in the neuronal basis and effects of Near Death Experience as well as the development of new uses of the Hypnagogic Light Experience. In recent years he has been collaborating with Dirk Proeckl on the topic of optimizing their methods to achieve the state of Hypnagogic Light Experience and expanding their knowledge of resulting neurophysiological and psychological processes (including the implications for understanding of synesthesia).

Here’s what Lucia does:

Lucia Nr. 3 is a neurostimulation lamp which allows the person who is exposed with closed eyes to the lamp to enter immediately into a profound trance which otherwise can be achieved solely after many years of meditation practice, through psychedelic drugs, or through stimulus deprivation, etc.

The computer-operated interplay of its light sources activates a large variety of experiences (the vision of intensive worlds of color and shapes, the impression of existing without a body/immaterialness, etc.) and allows for an individual light experience which is every time anew highly impressive.

Lucia Nr. 3 induces a transcendental experience which otherwise occurs only under extreme conditions like high performance sports, through consumption of entheogen substances or at the onset of death. The neurostimulation lamp opens completely new perspectives for therapy and self-awareness.

Here’s my experience:

I spent a total of seven wonderful minutes with Lucia. For the first two minutes, I closed my eyes and the light was beamed at me in alternating frequencies. Dirk P asked me how I feeling after two minutes, and did I want to go full tilt for the next five, or tone done the frequencies a bit? Despite being a bit uncomfortable at one point during the two minutes, I reasoned with myself and decided not to hold back from experiencing the many frequencies of the next five minutes. The full kaleidoscope of unusual colors and molecular shapes merged and separated in a colorful, harmonic ballet. I let myself “go” and enjoyed the feeling of what space travel must be like, exploring new worlds, eager for the views. I felt incredibly relaxed after my brief session.

The picture could just as easily have been disturbing. Ian reported that he was quite uncomfortable with his Lucid Light experience at one point, and felt that he didn’t want to go to a dark place. Yet, Ian, too, would gladly sign up again for this experience.  Engelbert said that the dark is equally valid to the light and both are part of us. We tend to run away from what is uncomfortable but it is better to understand what makes us uncomfortable so that we can challenge ourselves to overcome it. Lucia is helpful for anxiety, depression, addictions and most mental health issues. The light stimulator can be enjoyed on its own for the experience but also clears the way for people to be open to more conventional therapy that may not otherwise have worked for them. Engelbert cited the cases of two young boys who were suicidal and were not willing to talk with therapists.  Lucia “opened” up or unblocked their resistance and they were then able to make progress through more conventional therapeutic means.

My notes from the lecture

• Ancient Greek mystery cults used flickering lights and candles to change consciousness

• Light is consciousness

• Can enter into the same state of consciousness by looking at bright light or the sun

• The lamp is like taking a fast elevator to a deeper state of consciousness

·  Goal of this short term therapy is to get out and experience life; when one encounters stressors, focus on a light source (the sun, a flame) and reactivate the emotional feelings that one experienced with Lucia

·  Difference between Lucid Light Stimulator and taking LSD is that you cannot stop the experience with LSD – you have to let the effects of the drug wear off, but you can stop the experience any time with Lucia

• Health is a state of consciousness and not just the absence of disease (the sun always shines despite the presence of clouds – you can be “ill” and still healthy and vice versa)

• Physics – the process of observing is the process of creating

• It is how you perceive the so-called problem that makes all the difference

• Victor E. Frankl – the level of behavior/level of attitude – the most important need is for self-distance*

*Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Viktor E. Frankl

*When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor E. Frankl

Study linking anxiety and religious extremism

Perhaps my recent musings about my friends’ daughter were not so far off. The second paragraph below goes into the usual psychobabble about neural wiring. To which I say, anxious parent, anxious child. (See my portrait in blue on this blog. Incidentally, the “mothering” one doesn’t have to be the mother. In our friends’ case, I would say the father is the mothering one.)

In a research study published by York University in Canada
The researchers found that religious zeal reactions were most pronounced among participants with bold personalities (defined as having high self-esteem and being action-oriented, eager and tenacious) who were already vulnerable to anxiety and felt most hopeless about their daily goals in life.

Findings published last year in the journal Psychological Science by the same authors and collaborators at the University of Toronto found that strong religious beliefs are associated with low activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that becomes active in anxious predicaments.