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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Stroke of Dawn

         Last Saturday, I had a very busy morning including walking home from downtown Langley. It took about an hour and a half.  When I got home, close to six o’clock, I felt quite tired and decided to go to bed and read some of the novel I am currently reading.  I went up stairs, took off my shoes, climbed beneath the bedspread and started reading. After a short time I fell asleep. This is the usual way I go to sleep when I go to bed later in the evening.
         I woke up a couple of hours latter and went downstairs where I found Elizabeth working away on her laptop. Without thinking I said, “ Did you stay up all night?” [Note that she usually comes to bed at night after I have fallen asleep.]   She had a shocked look on her face as she looked up. “It’s only 6 pm,” she said.  Then it was me who had the shocked look on my face. I went back up stairs and gradually my actions earlier in the afternoon came back to me. Later on in the evening, after it got dark, Elizabeth said, “I’m worried, that maybe you’ve had a stroke.” 
         Not knowing much about strokes I began a search through the literature.  The first article I found is listed below.[i]  In it a team of researchers found that “Exercise training for ambulatory stroke patients was feasible and led to significantly greater benefits in aspects of physical function and perceived effect of physical health on daily life.”  The strokes are related to interruption of normal blood flow in the brain and it makes sense that an active life helps keep the blood flowing. Other studies confirm that idea.
         I wanted to find out about the symptoms that indicate a possible stroke. Here is some information I found on Google.
ü    Diarrhea
ü    Weakness on one side of the body
ü    Numbness on one side of the face
ü    Heart burn
ü    Slurred or garbled speech
ü    Swollen ankles
ü    Sudden confusion
ü    Fever
ü    Loss of balance
ü    Excessive tiredness
ü    Trouble walking
ü    Sudden pain in one arm
ü    Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
ü    Difficulty breathing
ü    Sudden, severe headache
ü    Chest pain
ü    Sudden unexplained dizziness
         One of the activities I have been doing with increasing frequently and for longer periods of time is meditation. I wondered if it could be helpful.  So, I went back to google and found some interesting information connected specifically with Transcendental Meditation. For instance researchers found that:

“There was a 43% reduction in risk for all causes of mortality, myocardial infarction and strokes in the group of high-risk patients who practiced transcendental meditation compared with the group receiving health education. Other results included lowered blood pressure, body mass index and propensity towards depression, anger and hostility.”
         In fact Transcendental Meditation(TM) has been connected with moderating heart disease, hypertension and strokes.  Below are listed some findings supporting the power of TM by institutions like Harvard, Yale, and UCLA Medical School. They are:                                                                                                                                            
·      Reduced high blood pressure and death rates
·      Slowing of aging
·      Increased Creativity
·      Improved Memory
·      Decreased Anxiety and
·      Reduced Alcohol Abuse
         The material above has specifically focused on the use of Transcendental meditation as a tool to reduce strokes and stress.
          I think that meditation itself no matter what its specific procedures are can help us maintain a sense of being that not only reduces the likelihood of strokes but will also help those of us who have experienced a stroke or strokes to adapt the best we can. 
         I found another interesting article[ii] written by Walter O’Connell in 1984.  He refers to meditation as the “mind’s medication.” O’Connell states the “…meditative practices are of the utmost importance in precipitating life style changes in natural high therapy.” Learning how to observe our “inner i-ness” helps us relax in the here and now.  It also helps us be aware of the world around us without needing to judge it or ourselves.
         As I explore my inner selves through meditation, I am learning to understand the sources of my stress and my biases about the world around me.  Continuing to do this and being here now helps me live my life in the best way possible.  From now on I will pay attention to the stroke factors discussed above in this blog entry and I will continue to stay in the here and now as often as I can.  I will also be getting my annual general medical checkup in May of this year and will definitely report my experiences to my doctor. In the mean time if you have had some relevant experience I would appreciate your comments.

[i]   Mead, G.E., C.A. Greig, et al.(2007). Stroke: A Randomized Trial of Exercise or             Relaxation, GAGS, 55, 892-899


ii  Meditation Can Reduce Heart Attacks, Strokes And Death ...

            Meditation Can Reduce Heart Attacks, Strokes And Death. Posted Sat,   2009/12/12 - 00:14      by Amer Kaissi in Mind and body. › Beyond Science  Mind and body - Cached

iii. Letting O’Connell. W. (1984).  Letting go and hanging on: Confessions of a Zen Adlerian. Individual psychoanalysis: Journal of Adlerian Theory, Research and  Practice,40., (1), 71-82 

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