Spirit, Mind, & Body Resources for Making Neurochoices
The Creation and Maintenance of Wellness by Dr. Charlotte A. Tomaino
Although I have reflected on thoughts such as the power of belief and expansion of human capacity for most of my life, their simple clarity comes and goes for me. The true gift is the deep, inner certainty of KNOWING that, when clarity is gone, I can get it back. By sharing what I have learned about how my habits of thought shape my emotional state and color my perceptions and how I work with them, it is my hope that you too will be able to awaken to your thought habits and know that clarity is always within reach. A good example of a return to clarity happened to me when I decided to write this book. On a train ride from Seattle to Portland, I sat, looking out the window, wondering why I was going there. Having just returned from a truly uplifting vacation in Alaska, which had been a dream of mine for twenty years, my mind was resonating with the unfathomable beauty of the nature I had enjoyed, finally seeing icebergs and whales in the wild. As I looked out the window, my mind searched for the focus that had brought me here, traveling to a meeting with the staff of Beyond Words Publishing to explore the possibility of my writing this book. But what was that intriguing focus that now was over shadowed by a great vacation? What were the reasons I was so enthusiastic about coming to Portland?
With these thoughts in mind, I entered the dining car of the train to have lunch, and was seated across from Kathy, a woman close to my age and also traveling alone. We chatted about what brought us here and where we were going. She had just finished a road trip up the West Coast with her daughter and grandchildren and was returning to southern California. She described herself as being in a major life transition. The children were grown, the marriage was over, the house was emptied of its memories and sold. She was in her own little home with her cat, her yoga, her freedom, her opportunity to discover what is next. She was exhausted. Riding the train, looking out at the passing terrain, brought rest and relief from the responsibilities of the past. The future remained unknown. Her story prompted me to talk of a similar turning point in my life after my mother made her transition. With the stress of my work treating brain trauma, my family's years of struggle with my older sister's brain injury, and my mother's transition following pancreatic cancer, I was left in a similar place where most of the lights had gone out. My health had suffered and I was exhausted, but I was also free of huge family responsibilities. As I shared my story with Kathy, I told her one of the most important concepts guiding me at that time was my awareness of a scientific fact that the body replaces every cell it has over a seven-year period. That knowledge gave me a focus. In 2003 I gave myself seven years to engage in exploring the benefits of acupuncture, yoga, jin shin do, chi classes, massage, meditation, exercise, nutrition, hydration, herbs, supplements, reflexology, essential oils, and any other wellness-promoting practice that crossed my path.
Kathy asked me how I was doing since this was now 2010 and my seven years were done. I told her that I was enjoying my full time neuropsychology practice treating brain dysfunction and my part time teaching about the brain, and that I was now on my way to Portland to talk about writing this book. All my former health limitations were gone. As I explained my own years of rejuvenation, I saw the light return to Kathy's eyes. They widened in an energized, interested, expectant way. She asked again if all my health challenges were gone and, when I again confirmed that to be true, she said, "That was what I needed to know."
It was visible from her facial expression that the thought of giving herself seven years to focus on and promote her well-being had connected the dots in her brain. She asked many questions about my work, the content of this book, how the brain works, the alignment of focus, spirit, body, and action, and the benefits for physical health. An ease slowly came over her as we ate our salads, talked, and looked out the window at the passing countryside. When we were finished eating, she looked around the dining car and said, "The car is full but no one has come to join us at this booth. That never happens." She had been riding the train a lot when she traveled, enjoying the freedom from her memories of her past life often replaying in her mind because there she could focus on the world going by.
We agreed we had met for a reason. I thanked her for the gift of this encounter, which was the answer to the questions I held in my mind all morning. When I saw the way the dots connected for Kathy, and the light that went on in her eyes, I knew why I was going to Portland. Writing this book was all about my wanting to participate in the great shift in consciousness that is going on right now. Neuroscience provides knowledge and insight into our brain functions and our ability to achieve the growth and expansion that is possible. Being aware of how my brain works gives me concepts for choices in how I want to manage my own experience. I am not my physical health or state of my body, I am not my emotions or my thoughts. I am not bound by my relationships or responsibilities, though they have influenced me greatly. The life force which is me is free to choose among those influences setting a standard to live by and a vision to achieve. Having the consciousness to know this has transformed my life, and has the potential to change yours.
Kathy departed the dining car while I waited to pay my bill. The last thing she said to me was that she wanted to dance the tango again. When I asked her why that appealed to her, she said she had always loved the tango for its complexity. Each partner actually moves with different steps of their own, which requires they be grounded in their own unique process, yet moving in perfect rhythmic alignment with the other. What a great metaphor for life. What a great place to come from within yourself as you approach your day. Kathy, if you ever read this book, please know your contribution is appreciated. Let me know how you are doing with the tango of life. I got to reinvent myself. I hope you did too.
©Tomaino, Charlotte (2012). Awakening the Brain.
New York:Simon & Schuster.