Brain Rewiring Intro
I wasn’t planning to dive into my brain rewiring journey just yet. I only recently re-started my blog writing again and thought I’d start with lighter posts. An experience last night, however, led to an intense need to write about it this morning. So I guess I’ll share a little chat about neuroplasticity, brain retraining, and limbic system impairment.
*Please note. What I share in a single post cannot possibly give a full view of my experience, neuroplasticity, or of the program I am working with. So hang tight and if you find this intriguing, I hope you continue to follow my blog.
That Smells Good!
I’ve been practicing brain retraining for a little over twelve months now. And during this year there were two times when someone walked by with some type of fragrance that had me thinking, that smells good. You might think, just twice? A whole year of training and just twice? If you aren’t impaired with the slightest amount of fragrance, yes, I can understand how this doesn’t sound very big. If you are impacted, you know that NO chemical fragrance EVER smells good. They all smell like chemicals to me. To have something smell good is huge.
*PLEASE NOTE: This in NO WAY implies that I am working towards being able to use fragranced products again. Nope. No way. No how. One: I understand much more clearly now that these products contain ingredients that I don’t want on my skin, in my clothes, or in my air. Two: I know what it’s like to live with this illness and I will always be considerate of the MANY who live this as well. Three: I’m much more aware of the impact these chemicals are having on our environment.
I simply want to be able to enjoy being with others without reacting. I don’t want to have to avoid life just to feel well.
That Smells Good, Continued
A big part of the brain retraining process is through daily visualizations. Another part of the program is to slowly and gradually offer triggers, depending on what a person is training out of. For me, training out of a life-diminishing fragrance sensitivity means that I sometimes use products that I react to. Sometimes just thinking about a product or looking at a container of a product I react to is enough to trigger me.
I’ve been using a particular hair conditioner lately in order to trigger a slight response prior to visualizations. Just a little sniff is all I need. After weeks of experiencing my normal reaction, last night was different. This product actually smelled GOOD! It reminded me of a little bottle of perfume I remember getting in my Christmas stocking as a little girl. I was so intensely overjoyed at the fact that it smelled good (instead of like chemicals) that I rubbed a bit into my hands. This was the first time that I allowed a scent to remain throughout my visualization.
My joy and excitement might have caused me to go a bit beyond my training limits. I might have used a bit too much. But wowza! This was huge for me. And this was such a beautiful indication that the work I’m doing is impacting my brain.
Why? How? This Sounds Like Nonsense!
First, remember, anything I share comes from a person in training, not a brain expert. This is a journey that is taking me time to grasp, to understand, and to implement in ways that benefit me. Yes, it’s been a year of training and no, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I recognize that I am far better than I was this time last year–in many ways–and that’s all that matters.
It might take me another year to recover. Maybe just three months. It might take five more years. I might have already reached my highest point (although I really don’t believe this). I’ve been living with an impaired limbic system for quite a while. I will be patient with the time it might take to get to the other side. But I have experienced enough at this point to appreciate my current increased joy, decreased anxiety, and decreased sensitivity.
Below is a small snippet of my limited understanding of neuroplasticity and limbic system impairment.
Limbic System Impairment
The limbic system is a group of brain structures that includes the amygdala, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus, and the cingulate cortex. It is involved in our emotional response, our memory, and emotions that we connect to memories. It is responsible for our fight, flight, or freeze survival response. When a car suddenly heads towards us while crossing the street, we automatically run out of the way–quickly. We don’t consciously wonder what to do; adrenaline kicks in and we just do what’s necessary for survival. And we can thank our limbic system for this response.
Limbic system impairment is a maladapted stress response. The emotional memory part of my brain connects the trigger, fragrance, to the physiological response my body has had in the past. My job with rewiring is to remove this threat response. This takes training and it takes time.
While my sensitivities and reactions are NOT in my head, the heightened response IS in my brain. It is not something I can just ignore or pretend doesn’t exist. I can’t positive think it away. The response is real and it is automatic. My brain has been trained to signal my body’s response.
My brain’s ability to detect even the slightest amount of chemical fragrance is powerful and it is real. It has been creating an increased state of fight, flight, or freeze response. It is imperative to change this pattern in order to live a normal life. And this is a process. (As a copyrighted program I cannot share the process details from the program I’m using, but I will share more information on how you can learn more about it.)
Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together
If you read or follow any information regarding neuroplasticity, you will hear the popular quote: “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Donald Hebb, a neuropsychologist made this statement in 1949. This statement describes pathways that are formed in the brain, being reinforced through repetition. It reminds me of the only thing that stuck in my brain from a psychology 101 class I took in 1980: Pavlov’s dog experiment. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, discovered that he could condition a dog to drool at the mere sound of a bell. By ringing the bell prior to their daily feeding, the dogs eventually developed an automatic drool response to the sound of the bell even without the presence of food. The pathway was created. The dogs developed a conditioned response. Neurons that fire together, wire together.
I can compare this to a time in my life when the simple sound of the doorbell set off a stress response. My heart would race and my emotions would take over. Any time someone would ring that bell, my body reacted with a sudden sense of overwhelming fear and terror. This response was due to one single event. I was awakened by the doorbell early one morning in 2012 with news that my son had been in an auto accident. The trauma of that moment became an instant pathway. Repetition wasn’t required for that pathway to have been created. My limbic system had gone off course.
I am forever grateful for my son’s recovery and for the proof that miracles do happen. Time. It took time, but he recovered. And with time, my response to the sound of the doorbell also improved–and finally disappeared.
My Perfect Storm to Limbic System Impairment
Various emotional, physical, traumatic, and/or toxic experiences can suddenly or gradually create a limbic system impairment. When looking back to the time when my reactions to fragrance began, I can see my personal perfect storm scenario that Annie Hopper (founder of DNRS) discusses. I had experienced several major stressors within a relatively short period of time: the sudden loss of my mom and then my mother-in-law less than six months later. A diagnosis of osteoporosis the following year. Then, two years later, I was diagnosed with celiac disease and needed to make a major transformation in household food and in daily meals. And then, just two years after that, I was faced with the trauma of separation, divorce and the need for career planning and development. A little stress indeed.
Chemical sensitivity is far from the only symptom of limbic system impairment, (LSI). There are many conditions connected to LSI, as you can see if you go to retrainingthebrain.com. And, as I continue my journey through brain rewiring, I am learning just how much of my life has been connected to a maladapted stress response. Gradually, I feel that I’m calming my limbic system and my stress response. And it is a wonderful thing!
So there’s my layman’s intro into my understanding of limbic system impairment.
After living with a growing fragrance sensitivity, my GPS directed me to DNRS in February, 2022. There are other brain retraining programs. Honestly, I don’t know how they compare or which is the best. I imagine, just like so many things in life, the best is what resonates with an individual and what inspires growth and recovery.
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I am NOT a DNRS representative or paid affiliate. I am sharing this information because I am inspired to do so. This is information I am so grateful to have and I am eager to share it with whoever else it can benefit.
The program was updated in September of 2022 to DNRS 2.0. If you are intrigued and want to learn more about limbic system impairment and DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System) they offer a 7-Day FREE trial of the program. I highly suggest signing up and viewing these videos in order to have a better understanding and to see if this might be a good fit for you.