Here are some resources to share:
Although the first part is “depressing” to read, the section on “Why Exercise Is So Important” is simple and motivating. There are yet more exercise programs for people with muscular and neurological disorders on this link, but I am not sure of their availability.
I am reading a new book (to me), Train Your MIND, Change Your BRAIN by Sharon Begley, (Ballantine). This is a survey of how the brain adapts to the kind of thinking we do and the feeling modes that we experience.
The Dalai Lama figures in this story with his patient challenge to neurological researchers on the reverse of the belief “the brain creates the mind or the mind is the result of brain activity”–doesn’t the mind affect the way the brain operates? Beliefs in science are hard to confront.
This book is about research on this confrontation. There are stories of experiments in re-training the thinking of people with depression and obsessive/compulsive disorders. As they corrected for their distorted thinking, they experienced relief, even when medication was supposed to give them relief. Re-training our thinking is crucial because our brains respond to the perception of our reality. The experiments related in the book can inspire ideas on working our own programs. Parkinson’s isn’t even mentioned, but strokes are.
The evidence shows that plasticity or brain/neural changing doesn’t occur only in childhood but throughout life. A Tibetan monk, whom the Dalai Lama knew, was imprisoned by the Chinese for 18 years, a time which included torture. When freed, he was found to be the same gentle, mentally sharp man that the Dalai once knew, just like he was before the imprisonment. Was he ever afraid? Yes, he was afraid that he would lose his compassion for the Chinese.
“Because of forgiveness, his bad experience with Chinese not got worse,” said the Dalai Lama.
This anecdote shows that mind is over matter. The book goes on to explore, from the Buddhist perspective, what mind is or does. The link between Buddhist thinking and scientific neurological research is attention and attention training.
Thanks for all that you do!