Post-Concussive Symptoms, Misfortune, and Dementia

“Even if a person has what might be deemed to be a relatively robust physiology, and is in relatively good health, they can make themselves sick. Staying in those consciousness states of fear, of anger, of sadness, can actually cause an otherwise healthy body to begin to become unhealthy.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Can Vedic Meditation heal post-concussive symptoms?

How is the experience of misfortune framed within the Vedic worldview?

Can Vedic Meditation help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia?

In this, another Ask Thom Anything episode, Thom answers all of the above, including details of the broader healing effects of meditation in general.

He reminds us that stress is the greatest cause of disease and that Vedic Meditation is the most powerful means of removing psychological and/or physiological stress, helping us to heal current health difficulties, and to prevent or reduce the effects of future health difficulties.

He also shares a perspective on misfortune and difficulty that we can all make use of, even if we haven’t attained the highest consciousness states yet.

No matter what your perspectives on health or misfortune are, you’ll find great value in hearing Thom speak on the subjects.

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Episode Highlights


Q- Can Meditation Heal Post-Concussive Symptoms?



If They Can Think a Thought…



Meditation Also Helps in Dementia.



How Vedic Meditation Accelerates the Healing Process from an Injury



The Chemistry of Healing



The Relationship Between Happiness and Healing



Q- How the Experience of Misfortune is Framed Within the Vedic Worldview



Misfortune is a Consciousness State



Inaccurate Expectations



What is a Misfortune?



Laws of Nature that Have a Cascade Effect



What Causes Misfortune



Suffering from the Vedic Perspective



The Period of Global Glaciation



Ice Age Made Humans a Capable Robust Organism



Unity Consciousness



Q- Can Vedic Meditation Help Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?



Refreshing the Physiology



Stress Speeds Up the Decline of the Human Body



Slowing Down the Aging Characteristics of the Human Body



Accumulation of Stress is the Number One Cause of All Disease



A Life of Complete Gracefulness, Knowledge and Wisdom


Jai Guru Deva


Post-Concussive Symptoms, Misfortune, and Dementia

Q- Can Meditation Heal Post-Concussive Symptoms?

[00:00:00] Hi Thom, this is Michelle from Hobe Sound, Florida. Have you ever helped someone learn meditation specifically to heal from any post-concussive symptoms? So, in other words, someone who’s had a concussion but it’s still dealing with lingering post-concussive symptoms. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

If They Can Think a Thought…

[00:01:05] Thanks for your question, Michelle. Yes, many, many, many times. People with traumatic brain injury, TBI, or who have had more mild versions of that, which we would call concussion, and post-concussive symptoms. Really, the only limitation on someone being able to learn to meditate is, can they think a thought and can they follow a few simple instructions?

[00:01:31] If a person can think a thought and can cognize themselves thinking a thought, then they can learn a Vedic Meditation mantra, and with proper instruction from anyone who is a qualified Vedic Meditation instructor, they can learn to meditate.

[00:01:46] And so, it doesn’t require any particular neurological prowess in order to learn to meditate. And that would include, by the way, people who are not only post-concussive but who have had even severe TBI, traumatic brain injury.

Meditation Also Helps in Dementia

[00:02:02] It also includes, by the way, and this wasn’t part of your question, but it’s in the same vein, people who are in various stages of dementia or who have other challenges to their cognitive processes. Provided that a person is capable of learning how effortlessly to think a thought, a mantra and can sit for the instruction for an hour to 90 minutes on each of four successive days, consecutive days, then they’ll be able to practice this technique.

[00:02:37] And it’s highly advised that they do so, because the more neurological compromise is there, whether it’s due to injury or disease, or congenital even, the greater the stress level would be in that person.

[00:02:51] And stress, ironically enough, is the thing that exacerbates the problem itself. So the problem causes the person to be stressed in the first place, because they can’t meet demands effectively and interactively as well as they wish to. And then, because of that incapacity, they become stressed more, and more stress decreases their adaptation energy levels and prevents them, once again, from having highly successful interactions.

[00:03:23] And so we need to be on a program of daily release of stress, irrespective of the particular capabilities of our brain. Whether we are fully brain-resource capable, or whether we have compromises, stress is, in fact, dumbing down our brain’s available computing power, and we want to come around that.

[00:03:49] So, meditation is highly recommended in all cases, but particularly for cases where people are attempting to either heal from or at least cope with or recuperate from some kind of head injury.

How Vedic Meditation Accelerates the Healing Process from an Injury

[00:04:05] People sometimes ask me how Vedic Meditation accelerates the healing process from an injury. And the answer is very simple to understand. Our body, starting with our brain as the lead character in this, our body has a prime directive, and its prime directive is to become whatever the consciousness is.

[00:04:28] And so that way, if I become frightened in my consciousness, then my body will immediately dive into constructing the body of fear. And the body of fear may be a body that has quite a good survival capability. If, for example, you’re having to get away from a tiger, if you have sadness in your consciousness, your body will reeve apart the molecular structures that made you fearful, and it will instead use some of those spare parts to construct molecules of sadness. Within seconds of having a sad thought, you have chemically, structurally, and materially, the body of sadness.

[00:05:09] If you’re angry, same thing. Angry thought, angry body, chemically angry body.

[00:05:16] So to think is to practice brain chemistry first, and then biochemistry. The entire body goes through changes that are easily measurable and have been measured many, many times in research studies.

The Chemistry of Healing

[00:05:28] It just so happens that the chemistry of happiness and the chemistry of whole-ness, wholeness is the word from which healing is derived, the chemistry of healing, are identical.

[00:05:41] And so in studies on, for example, there was one study done in a pediatric hospital, where two boys who had identical injuries, a simple fracture to the right femur caused by the bumper of a car hitting them, were admitted to the hospital on the same day.

[00:06:00] One of the boys came from a family that had lots of children and not so many resources. So that boy, admitted to the hospital, found the hospital to be a delightful environment because he had room service. He could press a button, and nurses would come. He had a television, which he could determine what channel to watch. There he was in traction watching TV, and having food brought to him and so on and so forth.

[00:06:28] Once he’d got over the muscle spasms and the bruising of the fracture, really at the time that his body was healing that fractured femur, and, ironically for him, his time was shortened in the hospital because he healed much faster than the other boy.

[00:06:45] The other boy, admitted on the same day, stayed in the hospital for longer. He came from a more privileged family. A family that had a greater basket of goods and services than what the hospital could provide him. And he didn’t like being in the hospital. And so ironically, for him, he had to stay in hospital longer because the calcium uptake, in order to heal the fractured femur, took a longer time.

The Relationship Between Happiness and Healing

[00:07:11] There is a relationship between happiness and healing. Even in orthopedics, even in bone healing, orthopedic doctors talk about this all the time.

[00:07:20] So the happier we are, the more quickly our body becomes whole. And a body that is whole is a body that is healed, it’s made whole, it’s healing.

[00:07:31] So healing, wholeness, happiness, all of these sounds go together and we know that even if a person has what might be deemed to be a relatively robust physiology, and in relatively good health, they can make themselves sick by staying in those consciousness states of fear, of anger, of sadness, can actually cause an otherwise healthy body to begin to become unhealthy.

[00:08:02] And there are many, many mechanisms in this. There’re mechanisms that have to do with our immune status. It’s been well-documented that the immune status of somebody who has baseline happiness is a much more robust immune status than the immune status of somebody who is in stress consciousness.

[00:08:22] So we have the capacity of the body to knit itself together if broken, it speeds up when we’re happy, we have a more robust immune system, which can recover more quickly from incursions of pathogens, if we meditate regularly.

[00:08:38] So, a regular practice of Vedic Meditation takes the mind on a daily basis into that baseline happiness state, that inner experience of, “I’m supremely content inside,” to have a good dose of that for at least 20 minutes twice each day, as a regular program of practice, then our body really will respond by obeying it’s prime directive and generating a healthy body as a result.

Q- How the Experience of Misfortune is Framed Within the Vedic Worldview

[00:09:11] Hello, Thom. Evan here from Ontario, Canada. I was wondering if you could explain how the experience of misfortune is framed within the Vedic worldview. If someone comes down with a debilitating illness, or suddenly loses a loved one, or their house burns down, or they’re in a natural disaster, have they somehow attracted this sorrow to themselves, or are these experiences, however unpleasant, somehow part of their spiritual evolution?

Misfortune is a Consciousness State

[00:09:41] Well, that’s a very good question. And one that requires perhaps five or six minutes for me to answer. Let’s just see how we go with that. Thank you for your question.

[00:09:54] Misfortune really is a consciousness state. “I had misfortune.” Now, we know that when we were children, we may have had certain desires that didn’t get fulfilled. And I’m not attempting to trivialize the scale of things that you described, international events or loss of a loved one, or anything. I’m wanting to give you an understanding about the word, perspective.

Inaccurate Expectations

[00:10:20] The child expected a particular thing and it might’ve been something to which they were looking forward for a long time. And then that thing didn’t come, and their expectations turned out to have been inaccurate. And it’s not blameworthy that their expectations were inaccurate, so we’re removing the whole concept of blame here, but it is a raw fact that expectations may have been inaccurate.

[00:10:44] And when the expectations of the child are inaccurate, something else happens, something other than what the child expected, then the child has to have a certain degree of stability and adaptability, in order to meet the demand for a change of expectation to have occurred, to meet that demand successfully and interactively.

[00:11:05] And so then, the child might describe misfortune, and to a wise old great-grandfather or great-grandmother who’s lived for many, many years, their advice to the child will be, “You know, it’s all right. Take it easy. There’ll be another opportunity, and there’ll be some other experiences and life is long.

[00:11:23] “And what you’re now assessing as a life-crushing misfortune, given enough time and perspective, you’ll find that, in fact, it was a pivotal moment. It was a moment on which things pivoted, a pivoting of the processes of change that are intrinsic to evolution.”

What is a Misfortune?

[00:11:41] And so what is it that actually is a misfortune? A misfortune turns out, now that we can move this out of our analogy of the child-like expectations that we had that weren’t met, and go into the adult level and look back at some of those and say, “Well, I was a child, and I thought the bicycle was going to come on a particular date, and the bicycle didn’t come on that date, and all my friends had bicycles, and how interesting, I didn’t get mine until a year later or two years later. And then when I finally got it, I kind of wondered what all the fuss was about,” and you can almost laugh about it.

[00:12:15] And so then, what was the misfortune? This is looking back using the analogy of a child-like state.

[00:12:21] From the perspective of somebody who is in the highest possible consciousness state, in Unity Consciousness, all incidences of “misfortune” are simply the states of consciousness in which people had inaccurate expectations.

[00:12:39] When change is on the move, the things that cause the cascades of change are all very visible. In the highest consciousness state although you can be pleasantly amazed by a thing, you’re not going to anymore be surprised by a thing.

Laws of Nature that Have a Cascade Effect

[00:12:57] Amazement can still be there because the world is an amazing place, irrespective of what consciousness state one is in, but ‘surprising’ gets out of the subject field because, in that high consciousness state, you can see actions committed which have a cascade effect in the laws of Nature.

[00:13:16] Certain laws of Nature are triggered by an omission to action. Certain laws of Nature are triggered by the committing of an action. So whether action is committed or an action is omitted, there are laws of Nature that have a cascade effect with an outcome.

[00:13:35] And most people in the state of consciousness they are in, are not able to see the future in the making. And I used the future in the making to get out of this field of just the idea of clairvoyance, or someone who is a “psychic” who looks down a tunnel and sees the future down there.

[00:13:53] To see the future in the making is to actually see things in progress and in process, to be able to identify the characteristics of the laws of Nature, how they’re being affected, not only in the world around us, and those cascades being created by people in the world around us, and Nature itself going through changes, which may be changes that Nature’s going to go through irrespective of human beings, but also changes in our own physiology, our own mind, our own conscious.

What Causes Misfortune

[00:14:26] So what causes misfortune? Really, the word misfortune, it has its basis, and please forgive the pejorative-sounding nature of this word, it has its basis in ignorance. By ignorance, I don’t mean to describe somebody as being a bad person. They’re just not yet informed, not been fully informed.

[00:14:48] When we are fully informed about what we are inside, what is it that you actually are inside when we’re not fully informed about that, then we make an assumption about how much time we have, what our limitations are, what is the circumference, the extent of our territory of influence, what is our territory of influence?

[00:15:09] So, when we have lack of information, lack of knowledge about the true nature of the Self, and we have lack of knowledge, lack of perceptual acuity about the true nature of the impact of actions or omission of actions in the environment, then due to that misinformation, due to that lack of being informed, due to that ignorance, we end up suffering.

Suffering from the Vedic Perspective

[00:15:32] Suffering is, as it turns out from the Vedic perspective, it’s a mistake. It’s a mistake to suffer.

[00:15:40] What does that mean? Not that, it’s blameworthy to suffer, but the fact of it is that suffering is caused by not being fully aware inside, and not being fully aware outside.

[00:15:55] So misfortune really is one way of putting it. We look at pivotal events where something pivoted around a necessary change, some of it caused by humans, some of it just caused by Nature going through changes, and we can look at that and say, “Well, that was unfortunate, that was misfortune.”

[00:16:14] Taken as a whole, if we have very large perspective, very large window of time, then we can see major pivotal changes having happened in humanity and consider them not to be necessarily unfortunate. And I’m going to go extreme here just to make the point and to give the point some validity.

The Period of Global Glaciation

[00:16:36] There was a period in anthropology, a period that lasted for about 10 to 12,000 years, which was the period of global glaciation. Global glaciation did not occur due to any human-caused phenomena. However, it did occur.

[00:16:53] And global glaciation caused, arguably, glaciers to go as far south as the Northern Tropic. That means there are parts of the world today that we consider to be relatively warm and habitable, that were completely covered in glaciers and permafrost.

[00:17:09] The human population, which had reached a maximum world population of close to 100,000, about 12,000 years ago, had declined to a number, in all of the various human tribes around the place, of about 10 to 12,000 people in total.

[00:17:27] And those 10 to 12,000 people, everyone who is listening to this is related to two people who were alive at that time, a great-great grandfather and a great-great grandmother, who lived during the population bottleneck, and it looks as though, when we examine the anthropological evidence for these people, that there were extreme challenges in feeding themselves in, what is called by laypeople, the Ice Age, the great difficulty, 10 millennia, can you imagine it. The amount of time, which we now consider to be the whole of history, is inside the umbrella of 10,000 years. So that same amount of time in glaciation, the Ice Age.

Ice Age Made Humans a Capable Robust Organism

[00:18:09] And yet, we look at the anthropological evidence of those people, and it’s not clear that absolutely everybody was experiencing misfortune or suffering. When we look at the art that’s leftover in many sites, we see examples of people having thrived, of people having joy, of people having solved the difficulties and adapted to the difficulties of glaciation.

[00:18:34] From a genetic perspective, most geneticists say that the human being would not be as robust as it is today had there not been 10 to 12,000 years of Ice Age that forged in our physiology, the capacity to be a highly robust organism moving forward.

[00:18:53] And so we can look at the thing and say, “Well, that was unfortunate, 10,000 years of glaciation and Ice Age, but we don’t tend to do that.” We look at it, and we say, “It was certainly formative. It was pivotal.”

[00:19:08] There were bound to be some sad stories if you could have zeroed in on what those were, but in general, the human race came through that, and a pivotal change occurred that turned out to be evolutionary. That is to say, it made our nervous systems more sophisticated. And so, how interesting to look at things with the broadest possible perspective.

[00:19:32] So, when we zero in on a short range of time, tiny perspective, short amounts of time, we see misfortune, disaster, catastrophe, and so on and so forth. When we zoom out, and we give ourselves hundreds of thousands of years’ time perspective, what we see is evolution.

Unity Consciousness

[00:19:51] And so then, in what state of consciousness does one have to be, only ever to see evolution in all pivotal events. That state of consciousness is Unity Consciousness.

[00:20:04] There are heightened consciousness states that are attained through the regular twice-daily practice of Vedic Meditation and the pinnacle of this is Unity Consciousness.

[00:20:14] Someone who’s in Unity Consciousness can empathize with people who are going through misfortune, whether they’re little children, or whether they’re adults with a lack of perspective, but the person in Unity Consciousness would not assign the word misfortune to any situation.

[00:20:30] All that’s going on is evolution, and evolution takes us through some twists and turns that are pivotal, and can we have that view, can we experience that view that no one individual isolated event is anti-evolutionary?

[00:20:49] The idea that something is anti-revolutionary is an idea that is simply one that lacks perspective. So we have to gain the vastest level of perspective. In the meantime, we also have to be compassionate, we have to be empathetic, we have to be able to help people by understanding what it’s like to be them, and to provide them with an opportunity to rise into greater states of wisdom, knowledge, and perspective. And this is, in fact, the whole thrust of our worldwide movement of Vedic Meditation, to do so. Jai Guru Deva.

Q- Can Vedic Meditation Help Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

[00:21:23] Hi, I’m Sammy from London. I’d really like to know your views, Thom, on how meditation can help lower the risk of getting dementia, Alzheimer’s in later life. My mom sadly passed away from dementia this year, so I’d really like to know whether my daily practice is standing me in good stead for the future. Many thanks.

Refreshing the Physiology

[00:21:49] Jai Guru Deva. It’s so nice to hear your question and your British accent and greetings to you there in London and my condolences over the loss of your mum, which due to any cause would be hard for us to adapt to, but particularly if you had to go through the weeks, the months and the years of watching her deteriorate with dementia.

[00:22:12] It’s so interesting that, though, I can’t cite any specific scientific evidence on the effects of meditation with regard to dementia, I think taken as a whole, all of the research on meditation worldwide over the last many years would point to the fact that certainly any kind of disease of attrition where there’s a gradual decline of capability in any area, whether it’s muscular, whether it is mental, psychological, neurological, whether it is something akin to Parkinson’s or, in the case of your mom, probably Alzheimer’s, most dementia is Alzheimer’s, that the effect of meditation would be to regularly refresh the physiology, to reduce the levels of stress in the body and thereby to reduce the speed of attrition.

Stress Speeds Up the Decline of the Human Body

[00:23:04] Living life in a human body, in a sense, is a disease of attrition. All of these bodies will come to an end. The chapters of our life, where we had relatively good health, or even perfect health for periods of time for the fortunate, naturally have to come to an end.

[00:23:21] The body gradually goes into decline. And, of course, what we want to do is to see if we can slow that decline.

[00:23:29] All of the epidemiologists and immunologists that I know of, to whom I’ve spoken in past years, have said that “If you add stress to any organism, it speeds up the decline.” In other words, the word stress and the word aging are the same word.

[00:23:49] When we practice our meditation every day, we’re releasing stress on a regular basis. That means those aging characteristics that build up in the physiology and accumulate and accumulate are being released and reduced by us through our daily diligent practice of Vedic Meditation.

[00:24:06] We know for sure that stress can’t possibly help any condition. If somebody has a common cold and you make them stressed, their common cold is going to become more intense and last for longer. If somebody has an injury, a broken bone or a wound in the flesh or anything, if you add stress to the organism, then stress is going to make that wound or that bone heal more slowly. It takes a longer time.

Slowing Down the Aging Characteristics of the Human Body

[00:24:34] We know that stress has an effect on cancer in not only increasing the susceptibility but also increasing the duration of time from which somebody might recover from cancer when treated. So stress can’t possibly help us.

[00:24:50] Therefore, we can logically assume that if we’re releasing stress on a daily basis, then we’re going to slow down the aging characteristics of the human body.

[00:25:00] Now that doesn’t mean we’re going to live forever. Obviously, the rate of death of the human body so far is 100%. Doesn’t matter how long you live, there’s a day that’s going to come when the body simply can’t go on any longer.

[00:25:14] Naturally, we’d like to extend our longevity for as long as is relevant to the whole of evolution. That’s certainly our desire. We want to be able to have a larger number of years, during which time to make our contribution to the evolution of humanity and also to fulfill our desires and to become wiser and more knowledgeable people.

[00:25:37] It’s natural to want to be graced with as great longevity as our genetic makeup will allow, and as much longevity as is relevant to evolution.

Accumulation of Stress is the Number One Cause of All Disease

[00:25:47] So for that, our regular practice of Vedic Meditation, meditation in general, which has been researched now for decades and decades worldwide, if you look up the subject scientific research on meditation, you’ll see every form of meditation having been researched, and we’ll see that the overall picture is one of ever-increasing health, longevity, greater resistance to infectious diseases and so on.

[00:26:14] And our meditation practice certainly conforms to these kinds of results that have been seen in scientific research in general. So, we have a very good opportunity through our practice to remove, as I said, those aging characteristics.

[00:26:30] Accumulation of stress in the physiology is the number one cause of all disease. The American Medical Association reckons that about 80% of all diseases that present to a general practitioner, to a doctor, are either caused by stress or exacerbated by stress. So we have to bring an end to this accumulation, and our regular practice of Vedic Meditation will do that.

A Life of Complete Gracefulness, Knowledge and Wisdom

[00:26:56] Also, it’s going to put us in a position where internally, philosophically, and psychologically, we have a direct experience of the true purpose of our life. What our true nature is deep inside. That layer of us, which is immortal, that layer of us, which is the field of Being, the Unified Field itself, the guiding force in life, and as we naturally age and the day comes that we go into decline, we’ll be able to have, from deep inside of us, a sense of the meaning and purpose of the process of having lived a human life.

[00:27:32] And there’ll be less and less desperation, a kind of clinging, a futile clinging to the characteristics of individual life and living. Since we’re all going to go one day, all these bodies are going to go, we can either go with a degree of desperation and regret, which is going to increase the stress of the whole thing and not make it very graceful, or we can go with a great degree of gracefulness, wisdom and inner knowledge.

[00:28:00] And so, the best I can offer to you is to maintain your regular practice of meditation and get rid of that unnatural feature of the unnecessary accumulation of stress on a daily basis. And this will give us everything we need to have lived a life of complete gracefulness, knowledge, and wisdom.

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