Experiencing the terror. The imminent danger of being swallowed by the forces of your emotions into the hopeless abyss. Tumbling, severed strings, into the darkness.
Experiencing the terror. The imminent danger of being swallowed by the forces of your emotions into the hopeless abyss. Tumbling, severed strings, into the darkness.

After my latest major psychological/spiritual episode late last year, I opt to do things differently. I decide to concurrently take the terrifying plunge and change my meds by consulting with an unconventional and highly respected psychiatrist. I follow this with five days working one-on-one with my master yoga teacher, an aruvedic healer. At first glance, an unusual choice, this combination of western psychiatry and ancient natural healing.

It turns out this leap of faith, this movement into unchartered territories, was without doubt the wisest decision of my life.

“Well, I must be in the right place,” I note, when the doctor opens the door to find me holding his copy of Carl Rogers’ On Becoming A Person. “A psychiatrist with this book in his waiting room. Exciting.”

His eyes light up. Five minutes into our meeting and he can hardly contain his glee when I tell him I’ve known for 20 years that my problems have nothing to do with depression, that my imbalance is directly related to dysfunction of my HPA Axis. We talk like colleagues about dysfunctions of the glutamatergic system, the enteric nervous system , and concur that Effexor XR  is absolutely counter indicated for my condition. He says he is convinced that we will be able to discontinue it entirely using low doses of Lamictal

Ten minutes in, we know we are about to launch into a magnificent therapeutic relationship.

Staying with the darkness allows something to happen that escapes us if we are hasty. If we resist our natural tendency to take flight before painful experiences, we can descend into the dark aspects of the unconscious, which is necessary if we are to make contact with what Goethe calls ‘infinite nature.’
Staying with the darkness allows something to happen that escapes us if we are hasty. If we resist our natural tendency to take flight before painful experiences, we can descend into the dark aspects of the unconscious, which is necessary if we are to make contact with what Goethe calls ‘infinite nature.’

With a highly finessed flick of his fountain pen, he scribbles a script he guarantees will squelch the cortisol rushes, a drug he says we will use as a ‘bridge’ in our journey to end my reliance on pharmaceuticals forever. He sends me off with his blessing to delve in the ancient wonders of Aruvedic healing. “Be prepared, he says. “The stomach is, after all, the second brain.”

“The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon,” says Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.). For example, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. “Some of that info is decidedly unpleasant,” Gershon says.

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. “A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,” Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one’s moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above. For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals, Gershon says. Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being

January 28, 2019. Germs in Your Gut Are Talking to Your Brain

The body’s microbial community may influence the brain and behavior, perhaps even playing a role in dementia, autism and other disorders.

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