Step 2 to fixing yourself : Meditation (NOT medication) :p

This is going to be a huge undertaking. Meditation is a very wide reaching topic. Just google ‘meditation for beginners’ and see the number of links you get.

And yet, meditation is also the simplest thing you can imagine. Actually it’s even lesser than that. Why?ย  Because, let’s face it, it involves doing nothing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am a huge fan of doingย  nothing. And, I suspect, so are you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And if you have CFS, fibromyalgia or any other assorted conditions, doing “nothing” in order to get better is nothing short of a dream come true.

There are many types of approaches to meditation. Focusing on/counting your breaths, mindfulness, Vipassana, Zazen, guided meditation, mantra meditation are among popular methods. However this is not a analysis of the different schools of thought, nor is it an attempt to identify the “best”ย  meditation technique, or trying to get the most bang for your buck. It is important you don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of data out there and spend all your time researching and reading, especially for something as simple as meditation.

Here’s what you need to get started. Lets go.

One-Moment Meditation

Once you’ve watched the above video, you will now have realised how simple meditation really is. ๐Ÿ˜€

Now, to build on that simplicity. Or not. You can just do what is shown in the above video and stick to it. In that case, skip the next part.

Quantum Entrainment

Now, Quantum Entrainment (QE for short) has a very special place in my heart. It was the very first thing that really worked for me and got me out of being bedridden.

Now, though QE is technically a “healing” modality, please don’t get spooked if such things aren’t your cup of herbal tea. Hear me out.

QE is an awareness based healing process. The way it works is by getting you to gently quieten your thoughts, and your mind, body and nervous system go into a state of deep rest and relaxation. Isn’t the hyperactive nervous system where most of the mischief’s at?

Now, QE also isn’t really a meditation, but it gets you quickly and efficiently to the same place, ease and quietness.

Don’t take on the beliefs of the author if they don’t work for you, but if the process works, it works. ๐Ÿ™‚

Best of all, you can get started using it immediately, and for free.

There are two downloadable mp3 audio files available there, ‘Pure Awareness’ and ‘The Gate Technique’.

Try them both. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. ๐Ÿ˜€

Why Meditate?

See, if you have CFS, fibromyalgia (or any chronic illness, really), one of the causes you are ill is because your nervous system is out of balance.

Now, meditation *may* bring your nervous system into balance eventually. But in your case, the going may be much more gradual.

If a somewhat harried but otherwise healthy person were to meditate daily, he would probably be in the clouds within a few days of starting.

If YOU do the same thing, you might not experience the same ease and flow. But I hope you’re already coming to terms with the fact that things may not work as expected, and thinking up contingency plans. Plan for failure.

The best way I can try to explain it, is to think of the effectiveness of meditation (or any other technique/modality, really) on a sliding scale. The more out of balance your body-mind are, the less immediately will the results show themselves, but that does not mean that beneficial changes aren’t pooling up underneath the surface, at a subtle level. They just may have not made themselves known to you yet.

The point of you starting to meditate for now, then, is to get into the habit of doing so. And then, as we get started working on the nervous system directly [Teaser: That’s the best part ๐Ÿ˜‰ ], your meditation practice will shoot through the roof.

Don’t worry, we still have lots of tricks up our sleeves. ๐Ÿ˜€

Just get started.

Foggy dude

Ps: Have you tried meditating before? Did it help? Not at all? Successes? Challenges? Post your comments below. ๐Ÿ™‚


Gluten Free day 3

I know I was going to post next about meditation, but something really interesting came up.

In the diet post, I talk about the research on the role of gluten in autoimmune conditions and chronic pain.

Well, here’s an update.

I decided to bite the bullet and try going gluten free myself.

So, for the last two days, I’ve completely eliminated wheat from my diet. I otherwise eat healthy so it wasn’t that big a jump for me as it may be for many.

I woke up with a mysterious sore throat and stuffy nose on the third day of my semi-paleo no-gluten experiment. That’s weird because I almost never get sick. (I know, I know. It’s pretty ironic :p )

But it gets weirder. That night, I slept easily at midnight, even though falling asleep has always been a struggle for me.

I also woke up the next morning at 4.30 am, but extremely relaxed and well rested. I haven’t spontaneously woken up this early in years. It has been impossible.

But the icing on the cake : Extremely low morning stiffness.

Morning stiffness has long been a pet peeve of mine, and probably is for you too. It is a major time and productivity drain. I spend about 3-4 hours every morning just alternately stretching and resting, trying to get free enough to function the rest of the day.

And once you go to sleep (or even take a nap), you have to do it all over again.

And you have to force yourself to do it through the pain. No joke.

Placebo? Could be.

But if any of you who have experienced morning stiffness personally, you know there’s nothing woolly or subtle about that. ๐Ÿ˜€

The feeling that your limbs and joints have rusted solid overnight is as real as it gets.

This “experiment”, if you want to call it that, is of course not strict. But I have tried to control for all variables except two.

1. Dinner

Though I eat fruit for breakfast, a huge primal salad and yoghurt for lunch, and nuts to snack on throughout the day, for dinner I just eat whatever’s cooking, within reason, of course. This saves me time and energy which I don’t really have.

2. Alan Watkins breathing exercise.

Check out this TEDx video featuring Dr. Alan Watkins. In it, he talks about how your emotions and behaviour are actually a function of your physiological state.
Basically, if your body is out of balance, you will feel like sh**. Ring a bell? ๐Ÿ˜‰

In part 2, he shows us a breathing exercise to temper the stress response which I have now started doing. I highly recommend you check it out.

So I am on a one week no gluten semi-paleo diet, and tracking my mood, anxiety, pain and energy levels four times a day, and will have the results for you in a weeks time.

Have you tried eliminating gluten from your diet? How did it go for you? Leave a comment.

Foggy dude

Step 1 (and also the most clichรฉ of all steps) to fixing yourself: Diet!

โ€œLet food be thy medicine and medicine be thy foodโ€
โ€• Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine)

To be completely honest, I see a ton of people in their twenties and thirties eating only junk food, drinking themselves stupid, who smoke regularly, and still happen to have good skin and hair, lean physiques and good amounts of energy.

You could reasonably assume from this example that as long as you keep stress under control and get exercise, you could get away with a shitty diet.

You could also assume that their lifestyle hasn’t yet to caught up with them. After all, the body is amazingly resilient, but it’s not infinitely so.

Whichever the case may be, a good, healthy diet will help you recover faster and more efficiently, arguably boosting the effectiveness of everything else that you do.

The way I see it, eating healthy is a necessary but not sufficient condition to getting better quickly. Healthy food by itself may or may not necessarily nurse you back to good health, but it is essential to form a foundation to good health and peak performance.

The dietary changes I have outlined here are very easy to apply with a minimum of effort. If you need to tweak them or apply them only partially, then do it. Something is better than nothing. And it is infinitely more important to just get started and start a routine that you can actually SUSTAIN, rather than jump in the deep end.

Here it is.

Fruit salad for breakfast. If you need a full breakfast, have the fruit salad a half hour before breakfast. (You could also have just one kind of fruit each day)

Vegetable salad with lunch and dinner.

Fruit/salad as evening snack atleast 4 hours after lunch. (You should always have fruit on an empty stomach)

Snack on (ideally raw) nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews etc (Note: peanuts are NOT nuts) when you feel the munchies.

Coconuts are brilliant! They should be a food group all on their own.

Btw, the right fats aren’t bad for you. In fact, they are essential for optimal health. Good sources of healthy fats are nuts, coconuts, avocados, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, fish oil sourced from wild fish (for the omega 3 fatty acids) and cream and butter from pastured, grass-fed cows.

That’s it. Just add raw whole foods like fruit, veggies and nuts to your diet (for now). Organic is better. If organic isn’t available or out of your budget, use what is available.

(Budget Hack: I just realised that you don’t have to go organic cold turkey. Find the organic fruits, veggies and nuts which are not much more expensive than the regular ones [say no more than 1/3 more costly] and buy only those. The rest buy regular.)

And yeah, try to cut down on processed foods. Especially important is to cut down on refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, foods with preservatives, MSG, and any ingredients on the label a 12 year old can’t spell. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Remember, the chemicals added to processed foods, and the processing itself is done for the convenience and benefit of the manufacturer, not necessarily for the consumer.

Also, just because the label says that the “food” contains X vitamins, minerals and proteins, does not mean they will be readily absorbed by your body. Foods enriched with lab-created vitamins and minerals only means your kidneys and bladder will be working overtime to filter these out of your system. That’s because the label says nothing about the BIOAVAILABILITY of the nutrients contained therein.

The nutrients contained in whole foods are more bioavailable than the ones in enriched food products. Bioavailability is the ability of your body to actually absorb and make use of the nutrients present in a food item.

I have been reading up on the role of gluten in autoimmune conditions and chronic pain. There is a ton of research linking the two, but I have not yet had a chance (read:energy) to try going gluten free. I encourage you to read up on it, and if you have already tried it, I’d appreciate it if you leave a comment detailing your experience with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

There is much more to a good diet that what I have briefly summarised here, but this should get you off to a good start.

I personally follow this diet. I’m on my way to a full paleo diet, but I also recognise that it’ll be impossible to do until I have enough sustained energy to fix all my meals myself. Till then, I’ll have to make do with mom’s cooking. ๐Ÿ™‚

A word on meat. Anthropologically speaking, meat is definitely a Yay. Human hunter-gatherer tribes have been hunting wild game for tens of thousands of years. If you exclude meat for religious or ethical reasons, I recommend you make sure the rest of the food you eat supplies all the micronutrients your body needs. It shouldn’t be too difficult, with all the information available on the internet. I personally am vegetarian (but then, I was born into it). If you’re a meat eater, go for organically raised, pastured, grass-fed beef, wild caught fish (as opposed to farmed), free-range, non grain-fed poultry, and wild game.

About dairy, I recommend doing your own research and deciding what works for you. I have dairy, but limit myself to yoghurt, cottage cheese and homemade butter.

Ps: If you have any questions about diet and/or want more information, I recommend checking out, the hub of the modern primal/paleo movement.

I don’t agree with everything Mark says, but the information in that site is gold. Everything there is backed up by either clinical research or anecdotal evidence (often both) and grounded in common sense. What I like about it is that Mark’s beliefs are formed by existing research and anthropological evidence, not the other way around. In other words, his logic is sound.

Next up, Meditation.

Foggy dude

The foggy dude approach to healing

Here’s a few basic things to keep in mind as you work towards healing.

1. Use whatever works.

2. Fail quickly, fail often.

3. OBJECTIVELY track your results, and put them ‘on paper’.

4. The healing from using multiple complementary modalities simultaneously will be greater than any one by itself.

5. Give no more than 3 months to one modality if it doesn’t seem to be of benefit (measured OBJECTIVELY), no matter what you do.

In addition, as I continue writing this blog, I will post information regarding healing and different approaches to it, on the basis of these assumptions about YOU.

1. You are on your own, or you don’t have someone to help you with this stuff.

2. You don’t have the financial resources to go to special treatment clinics or personalized therapy programs.

3. You have precious little physical and mental reserves, which are already being taxed by the reading and research that I am directing you to.

4. You think for yourself. You don’t take anything anyone says (including everything I write here) at face value.

5. You are open to trying ANYTHING. You weigh the risk/reward ratio.You are willing to try ANYTHING as long as the cost as opposed to possible reward is very little.

Foggy dude

A few basic assumptions before we get started fixing ourselves

Even before you can start, here’s a few assumtions I make about our bodies and the nature of healing.

If I am mistaken about any of these, then anything that I assert on the basis of the mistaken assumptions would automatically fail, as it would be based on a flawed premise

1. Our bodies are capable of healing completely.

2. If something has worked for more than a few others, it’s worth giving it a shot, no matter how weird, contrarian or unconventional it may be.

3. All tissue of our body is capable of regeneration, provided we are able to create the optimal conditions for it.

4. If something has worked for more than a few others, but NOT for you, it would be worth spending some time trying to find out what is preventing you from achieving similar results. This is VERY IMPORTANT.

I am always very surprised by people complaining about a certain book or modality or posting negative reviews because it didn’t work for THEM. I have always found myself compulsively trying to figure out WHY something didn’t work when it doesn’t ‘work as advertised’ for me. I normally don’t harp on about the importance of attitude but I believe in this case it is justified. Having a positive attitude atleast in this regard is essential. Don’t have just hope, however. What I am suggesting is more like tenacity and drive to find the solution.

5. As you bring the major systems back into balance, the body will soon take over and the changes will trickle down to all the cells and systems of the body.

There it is, we’re on our way! Hold on to your hats! A couple more posts containing background information and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of fixing ourselves.

Foggy dude

Fix these, and everything else falls in place

If you have had a chronic condition for any amount of time, it is likely that all your body systems have been affected to one degree or another.

Not having much more than rudimentary diagnostic capabilities as we’re working on our own, we will work under the assumption that each system of the body is out of balance.

The value of such an approach, hitting the illness from multiple angles, will increase the probability of fixing the ’cause’ of the illness, as well as maximising the help to the body’s efforts to come back into balance.

The major systems of our body we will work on:

1. The mental aspect, by way of processes like meditation and relaxation exercises.

2. The bio-chemical system, by way of dietary adjustments, medication/herbs, and minimizing exposure to toxins and chemicals.

3. The musculo-skeletal system, by working on postural and structural dysfunction, trigger points and releasing muscular and fascial restrictions.

4. The energy system, if it fits your belief system. If it doesn’t, ignore this part. Everything you work on, will affect everything else. Working on your musculoskeletal dysfunction, will also directly affect your energy system. I’ll post more on this in the future.

5. The autonomic nervous system, which will be indirectly affected by the other processes.

What you will have noticed is that all we are doing is looking for any deviations from ‘normal’ and bringing them back into balance. What we are doing, in effect, is reducing stress on the body: biochemical stress, biomechanical stress, as well as trying to calm the stress response of the body, so that it can use its resources to heal us.

Work on each of these systems, and there’s very little you’ll miss, if anything at all.

Foggy dude

Your body as a Complex System : Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this post, read it here.

More and more doctors and other enlightened medical professionals are starting to treat the body viewing it as a whole. But they are still in the minority.

The traditional (read: mechanistic) medical view of the body is that of a machine. What do you do when the machine breaks down? You find the part which is broken, a broken gear, a distorted spring, a bent shaft, replace it and hey presto! It’s backย  up again.

But in a system as complex as the human body, there are systems upon interdependent systems which will be affected by every single change in either internal or external circumstances.

Our body is superbly adaptive. It always tries to get into a state of equilibrium presented with any stress that forces adaptation. This process of returning to a ‘setpoint’ is called homeostasis.

Though what happens when the stress or trauma is beyond the availability of the body’s resources to fix, is that the body grudgingly readjusts to a NEW setpoint. After all, survival of the organism is the primary imperative.

Imagine it’s the middle of winter, and the thermostat on your heater is stuck about 10 degrees higher than what you find comfortable. Now, no matter what you do to make yourself comfortable, open the windows for a bit, take off a couple of layers of clothing, whatever you do, when you stop doing it, the heater will still return to that particular temperature. What it will also do is use up more resources (heating oil in this case), effectively depleting them sooner. What if the thermostat is stuck 20 degrees higher. More discomfort/dysfunction, more resources used.

That is what I believe happens to people with chronic conditions. Their internal thermostat has effectively changed, and the body will now default to the new ‘setting’.

What our aim is, then, is to reach out and ‘reset’ our internal thermostats back to normal. What makes it so difficult in practice, is that our bodies have tens of thousands of systems which may need to be reset, and all completely interdependent.

What may make it somewhat easier, and the approach I am going to outline, is that all these systems are regulated by certain higher level systems, the master systems, if you will. Fix these, and the changes should trickle down to the rest.

I’ll post more information soon.

Foggy dude