In the glow of an aura

24 December 2016

In a mountainous region in South Africa, in the province of Natal, there exists an acre of paradise. Perched upon a raised plain, it beholds the rolling hills descending into the valley below. This place, remarkable in its rugged beauty and natural splendor, is home to the Buddhist Retreat Centre (BRC - http://www.brcixopo.co.za ). Seamlessly woven into its natural environs, the Centre is a World Heritage Site, home to the Blue Swallow and listed by CNN as being in the top ten of such retreats in the world.

I have the privilege of facilitating two weekend Retreats every year at the BRC and have done so for the past eight years. Although not a practicing Buddhist in the religious sense, I do nevertheless identify with many of the fundamental philosophies and applications of Buddhism. And without fail, every time I make the pilgrimage to the mountain Retreat and drive through the entrance, I feel that exhilarating lightness of being and vitalizing energy, flushing out the toxins of the big city enclave.

The theme of my workshop/retreat is ‘consciousness’. The concept is developed from a neuroscientific space integrated with psychoneuro-immunology (PNI – the mind-immune connection) and evolves over three days, culminating in perspectives of consciousness in a quantum physics space – quantum consciousness. We usually have a lively group of forty retreatants ranging from the devout Buddhists to atheists and the like, from tree-huggers to the captains of industry and from artists and muso’s to heads of academic departments. Participation is encouraged and invariably a unique collective energy is generated which is more than the sum of the parts. Seamlessly integrated with this ‘hard’ curriculum are Buddhist practices including meditation, periods of noble silence and mindful walks. These aspects contribute powerfully and meaningfully to the overall experience.

The Saturday night session is referred to as ‘the fireside chat’. Here we literally seat ourselves around the large fireplace and chat – about anything. During one such chat a young woman indicated to us that she was able to see people’s aura’s. I nodded in acknowledgement. But she continued. ‘I saw your aura today after lunch’ she said, which was directed at me. ‘What did you see in my aura?’, I responded. She related how initially the two sides of my head had different colors. The right side was blue and exuberant while the left was flattened and red. Slowly, over about a half an hour, the blue gradually spread over from the right side to the left until my entire head was uniformly exuberant blue. I was initially stunned and speechless. Something literally mind-blowing had just occurred.

Approximately once every year I experience what is termed an atypical migraine. In my case it begins with flashing of lights in a field of vision followed by a temporary loss of vision. This usually lasts for about half an hour. Thereafter it resolves, leaving me with a dull headache. Now since each half of the brain provides function to the opposite side of the body and since higher function such as speech in right handed individuals resides in the left brain (hemisphere), it follows then that if visual loss occurs in the right field of vision, speech may well be temporarily impaired in the process. And as luck would have it, while having an idyllic lunch outside, under a tree on the Saturday, I began to develop right sided visual symptoms! It was probably precipitated by the angle of the sun. But I immediately slipped into anxiety mode – right sided visual loss meant speech loss for at least a half hour and I was due to present the afternoon session in twenty minutes time. I excused myself and headed to my room. Along the walk back I monitored my function and as expected, gradually lost expressive speech.

The afternoon session started late. I deliberately took a little longer to set up my computer and projector. By the time I was ready to start, most of my speech faculties had returned, bar specific words. So I was in fact able to start the presentation without anyone detecting the preceding unfortunate event. Perhaps all that was perceptible to the astute attendee was that I appeared a little long-winded. I was in fact compensating for unavailable vocabulary. It should be emphasized however that I did not make mention of my temporary affliction to anyone.

Which brings us back to the Saturday night fireside chat. I was indeed speechless for the second time that day because the young lady that could see people’s aura’s had just seen the aura of a person (me) having an atypical migraine. The timing had been deadly accurate as was the laterality (left and right sides of my head). This was real. And wow the Universe has a weird sense of humour! An atypical migraine affecting a neuroscience guy facilitating a neuro-based workshop in a Buddhist Retreat, is accurately diagnosed by a young woman who saw his migraine aura ......

It becomes obvious that much is happening beyond the realm of the five senses and beyond the neatly packaged scientific space. In seeking authentic clarity we need to accept that there exist unexplained and inconvenient truths in the context of a mechanistic-reductionistic space, that we need to acknowledge, respect and integrate. That takes a bit of courage and a generous helping of humility!

Archive

15 November 2017
Reflections of a mirror

29 October 2017
Dumbing down

26 October 2017
Brain drain

4 September 2017
An authentic lead

30 August 2017
Pop

23 August 2017
Respect begins at home

16 July 2017
An awe-full story

3 July 2017
Mushroom soup

2 June 2017
Relativity, relatives and other relationships

29 May 2017
Inflamed and smoked

25 May 2017
An Ode to my Mentor

10 May 2017
Counter-evolutionary

27 April 2017
Inspire

16 April 2017
Lost in an expert fog

12 April 2017
Don't be short-changed

30 March 2017
A brAIve New World

15 March 2017
The problem with Gus

12 March 2017
United in Energy

5 March 2017
Transcending emotions

25 February 2017
In the blink of an eye

25 February 2017
The real story about emotions

27 January 2017
Meditation Re-visited

21 January 2017
As a light to a flame

31 December 2016
Drowning in snake oil

19 December 2016
Mindfully yours

14 December 2016
Time to transcend the Flat Earth Society

4 December 2016
Prejudice and other violations

20 November 2016
Lighting up the Abyss

12 November 2016
Embrace the Zeitgeist and Transcend

9 November 2016
A Curious Life

8 October 2016
Perhaps we ought to read the stars?

3 October 2016
The Lethal Cocktail of Fear with an Existential Crisis

22 September 2016
The truth about truth

27 August 2016
Conscious Integration

21 August 2016
The Toxicity of the Social Media

3 August 2016
Time to Integrate

24 July 2016
I Believe ...

16 June 2016
Crime, punishment and the brain

4 June 2016
The Essence of Effective Leadership

22 May 2016
Engage with the Eloquence of Neuromodulation

15 May 2016
Peer Reviewed Publications: A Trust Issue

28 April 2016
A Cathartic Therapeutic Moment

11 March 2016
Gateway to Consciousness

16 December 2015
Profile of Hatred and Cruelty

9 November 2015
Drivers of Success and Effective Leadership

2 November 2015
A Two-Point Solution

20 October 2015
All Black Rugby: The Eloquence of Applied Neuroscience

8 October 2015
In Mitigation of Limiting Deprivation Determinants

20 September 2015
Lamenting our intellectual malaise

13 August 2015
Respectful Intervention

25 July 2015
The Creative Leadership Zone

16 May 2015
Coaching to Pleasure

6 May 2015
Glowing the Void - Thoughts under a May Full Moon

1 April 2015
Context and Integration

7 February 2015
Add some Awe and become Awesome

11 January 2015
Effective Intervention

3 January 2015
The re-emergence of the right hemisphere

26 November 2014
Where is consciousness?

11 May 2014
A Strong Determinism

15 February 2014
The Physiology of Mindfulness

16 August 2013
The Triple Wheel Combination Model of Value-based Leadership

1 June 2013
Authenticity and Leadership

13 January 2013
The Neurobiology of Empathy

29 November 2012
Neuroplasticity

8 June 2012
The brain as a deterministic blueprint

21 April 2012
That 'Aha' Moment

17 April 2011
Rewarding Value

28 December 2010
The Dangers of Cyber-space

27 November 2010
Enhancing Gratification

23 June 2010
Systemic Degeneration

14 June 2010
Meaning and Purpose

3 June 2010
Medical Challenges