What Awake Brain Surgery and Seizures Taught Me
About Mind-Body Symbiosis
Once I left university, I was able to begin my studies. I was able to learn about what I wanted to learn in a way that suited. Two topics that have fascinated me beyond any others are, broadly, consciousness, and more narrowly, synchronicity. I suggest the latter reveals much about the former.
When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor following a grand mal seizure at the age of 31, the irony of my now having the rare opportunity to study consciousness in ways that few can was not lost on me. Most researchers of consciousness have not had a piece of their brain removed nor experienced a conscious craniotomy or grand mal seizures from which to learn.
As for synchronicities, I experienced my first one as an 18-year-old, and they have guided my life in profound and seemingly magical ways since then.
My journey of healing and health creation has been laden with synchronistic phenomena. They have mysteriously guided me to the insight, healer or treatment that facilitates my next level of healing. The most radical gift has been the direct experience of a reality that shapes itself in unlikely and complex ways which benefit my well-being and growth. Einstein suggested that the most important question facing humanity is whether the universe is a friendly place. My answer: an unequivocal yes. I do not believe in a loving infinite intelligence. I experience it directly via unlikely synchronicity facilitating health and healing.
Recently, while leading a meditation retreat on a tiny island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, I encountered a powerful lesson that confirmed for me many of the theories that underpin leading-edge approaches to both working with trauma and facilitating human development.
On the first night of the retreat, I had a powerful experience that a doctor might call a “pseudoseizure”. This and related experiences I’ve had seem united by their utter uniqueness and ineffability. During them I experience a captivating combination of alterations to my mind, to consciousness itself and to my experience of the body. Having learnt to surrender to them they are often very pleasant.
On this occasion, my left side started to feel very curious. I noticed tingling, numbing, and other, quite bizarre sensations around my face, upper lip and jaw. My consciousness began to feel very peculiar in a way I struggle to language. A full seizure felt possible. I got up to leave the dining room full of chairs and table corners and made my way outside. I wanted to sit on the grass and ground, connecting my electrical body with the Earth’s, whilst also being in the safest place to lose consciousness and flail around should a full-body seizure occur. I’ve taught myself a breathing technique that has cured the seizures and spared me harmful, ineffective and addictive drugs, yet it felt better to be safe than sorry.
As I walked from building to lawn it became clear this was an especially powerful incident. I managed the fear arising in my body by asking for help. Soon I was on the lawn being taken care of by both my mother and my lover. This retreat was the first time my mother or a lover had attended. Their presence was deeply meaningful and healing as they comforted, reassured and took care of my physical needs.
At one point, my heart started to feel a great energetic pain, a heaviness I was familiar with that was now moving and morphing into new and very strong sensations. My lover knew, intuitively and from her many trainings and classes in psychotherapy and somatic experiencing, to massage my heart center. She applied pressure to the most painful spot. It was then that the almightiest grief was released. I wailed and cried and blubbered and snotted, as this most primal pain found expression and release in sound, movement and love. The two most important women in my life held me, loved me through this.
I am fascinated by all things neuroscientific and especially how to effect healing for myself and my coaching clients. I am especially interested in emotional healing and how the body stores and releases trauma, and the truly symbiotic nature of mind and body. This experience gave further direct experience to blend with the research and inform my work.
Happily mind and body soon came back into balance. Though my leading of the retreat was more restrained I was able to use sleep and gentle body practice to integrate all this movement of emotion and energy.
Much of my body activity made immediate sense, given that a piece of my brain in the area responsible for left side motor function had been removed.
However, the pain in my heart and its subsequent release is more mysterious and invites further enquiry.
Having devoted thousands of hours to meditation and body awareness practices–yoga and qigong and breathwork designed to release trauma—I’m having the following questions arise:
Why that particular moment? And what was the key ingredient that made such deep release of grief possible? Was it perhaps the power and intensity of the pseudoseizure? Or the presence of my mother and lover? The action and pressure on my heart? The cannabis oil medicine I was on? Solar or lunar activity?!
These questions are very practical, both personally and collectively. I sense there is more to release in my body. I understand, too, that as a species we are all facing and feeling and releasing ancient, epigenetically inherited wounds and pains in order to consciously evolve. How do we do this most effectively and skillfully? How can my experience help others?
I trust that answers to these questions will come through expanding consciousness, with synchronicity perhaps playing a role.
If you would like to learn more of how synchronicity has guided my healing you may like to read chapter 4 – The Gift of Guidance – in my first book, Blessed With A Brain Tumor. Or enjoy a talk I gave at the Science and Nonduality Conference in Italy – this can be found on my YouTube channel below, titled Will Pye: Synchronicity as Purposeful Glitches in the Matrix.
How has synchronicity guided your own healing and awakening?
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