E112: Limbic System Retraining (part 3) with Dr. Kimberly Hindman

Episode 112 January 24, 2023 00:58:56
E112: Limbic System Retraining (part 3) with Dr. Kimberly Hindman
The POTScast
E112: Limbic System Retraining (part 3) with Dr. Kimberly Hindman

Jan 24 2023 | 00:58:56

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Hosted By

Cathy Pederson Jill Brook

Show Notes

Our last episode in this study of the vagus nerve and limbic system, Dr. Hindman offers many options to try to retrain your limbic system to only allow emotional upset when you are truly in danger. For many with hyperadrenergic POTS, this is valuable information!

Please visit Dr. Hindman's website for more information: https://healingdragon.net/wordpress/index.php/news-and-information/

You can read the transcript for this episode here: https://tinyurl.com/potscast112

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Episode Transcript

Full Episode Jill Brook: Hello, fellow POTS patients and wonderful people who care about POTS patients. I'm Jill Brook, your hyper adrenergic host, and today we have part three of our discussion with Dr. Kimberly Hindman. In her first episode, she discussed the science behind the cell danger response, the vagus nerve and the limbic system, and how these things can sometimes get stuck in a vicious cycle that prevents healing. In her second episode, she shared lots of practical exercises for stimulating the vagus nerve to help get back to that parasympathetic state where you can rest, digest, feel safe and heal. And today she's going to discuss different approaches to limbic system retraining, and I'll let her remind us what that means. You may recall that Dr. Hindman is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist in Portland, Oregon. She was trained at the College of William and Mary, then Duke University, then National College of Naturopathic Medicine. You may recall that she herself as POTS, Hypermobile EDS, MCAS, and had surgery for occult tethered cord. So she really knows this stuff. She teaches it to other practitioners as well as her own patients, and I feel so lucky to be learning from her. Dr. Hindman, welcome and thank you for coming back today. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Thank you so much, Jill. This has been so much fun for me, and I'm hoping that this has been really helpful for you and your listeners. Jill Brook: Well, it's already been helpful for me. I have been gargling, I've been laughing. I've been enjoying it and feeling like it's making a difference. So I'm excited for what's next. What's on the menu? Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Yeah, so today we're going to talk about limbic system retraining, because this is the third part that we need to talk about. Because the vagus nerve is one of the inputs into the limbic system that basically is again, is the part of our brain that essentially decides something as safe or dangerous. And so if someone has had inputs over time, like chronic pain, chronic symptoms, danger response signals, or a dysfunctional vagus nerve, and all those things can all go together, then the limbic system may start making associations between things and pain or symptoms. Sometimes those associations may be correct. So like I gave the example of somebody eats spoiled food and they get sick, that's a correct association. The food actually was the reason that the person got sick. The limbic system though, is looking out for our emotions and any sort of external stimuli that can make those links. Sometimes it makes links that are not actually causative. but it will start looking for those same factors in the future to try and keep us safe. The problem is then it becomes hypersensitive, hypervigilant, and then we start having reactions and issues to things that actually are not dangerous, but our limbic system is telling the rest of our nervous system in our bodies that yes it is. So working with the vagus nerve to help getting that input healthier and back to that parasympathetic state can help. We also need to help that limbic system relearn. So we want all of the branches of that autonomic nervous system. We want a sympathetic nervous system. Like I don't want to be in a parasympathetic state if there's a car speeding towards me, I need to be able to move and get outta the way to protect myself. So we need to be able to move among different states in a way that's appropriate for the current situation. And that ability to assess the current situation with clarity is a key point in the limbic system retraining. And one of the ways that we use the conscious mind to help with that retraining. So again, if we think about, if the limbic system has become like a guard dog that is now barking at everything, we need the human to come in and say, No, no, I'm going to train you what things I want you to bark at, because that's truly a good signal. And what things, That's okay, that's a bird, that's a leaf fall. That's the neighbors coming home to their own house. You don't need to bark at that. Jill Brook: So it's just a recalibration exercise. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Right. And understanding that all brain retraining programs are based around the same research into neuroplasticity, which is the ability of our brain to change and to learn. So anything that then creates pathways that are problematic, that get us stuck in that fight or flight or freeze, those are working on the same pathways as like when we learn something positive so we can relearn and unlearn things. We're using this knowledge to then recreate pathways in our brain that helped us support a positive mood, a healthier state in the autonomic nervous system so we can get into that parasympathetic state. So there is this link between conscious mind, the limbic system, and the brain stem and other pathways. So we're trying to then get another input that we can control into that limbic system. So the basic steps of all of these programs include some awareness, like around a trigger, being able to identify it, interrupting the process. So stop it, some sort of acknowledgement or visualization or doing something that helps to make that shift. So there are all kinds of programs that people can do. There are some that rely on sound or light, and so people might just want to be aware of that if they have sensitivity in those areas. Those might not necessarily be the best things if someone has a lot of sensitivity. Maybe that's something that you want to add in later. So I do want to mention that at first sometimes people will look at these programs and think, Oh, you're just supposed to ignore your symptoms and think happy thoughts and everything will be fine. And if I haven't been doing that, then clearly then it's my fault. Like I haven't been happy enough and that's why I have these symptoms. That is not what they are doing. What they're looking at is the ability of using your conscious mind as a tool to reteach your limbic systems that you can be out of that hypervigilant state. I don't know anybody who has been hypervigilant since the moment they were born, so we all have had at least some time where we weren't, which means we have the capacity to do it. So how do we expand on that? How do we make it more often for longer amounts of time because we know we have the capacity. So I feel like these systems and programs are working with our capacity and the possibility of what we can be and helping to guide us in that direction. Jill Brook: So what I love about you is that you have done so much research that I think you're about to tell us several different ways to do this, right? Cause I think a lot of people have heard of maybe one or two ways to do neural retraining for the limbic system. But until I met you, I had no idea how many different approaches there were. And so I think what you're saying is that people can listen to you describe some different ones and some will be better for some people and some will be better for other people. But don't worry because there's a lot of options out Dr. Kimberly Hindman: there. there are a lot of options and there are even things that people can do just for themselves. I want people to have a full range of emotions. I don't want people to be like, Oh, I'm only supposed to be happy. No, I want you to have a full range of emotions. The questions that I ask though are how long do you stay in those emotions and what actions do you take because of it? So fear can be a good emotion if it is indicating that something is truly dangerous and I don't want anybody to discount their own feelings or gaslight themselves. But there is a difference between a real fear because of a current situation and a limbic system fear that is driven completely based on the past. That may have nothing to do with what's actually happening. We also need to be aware of like the language we use when we talk to ourselves, because the limbic system uses that again, as one of its inputs. So saying to ourselves, I'm never going to get better is very different than saying, I'm having a really hard day today and I am working hard to maintain my hope. Jill Brook: That's great. Can you say that again? That feels so important. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Right? So there's a very big difference to our limbic systems between saying to ourselves, I'm never going to get better versus saying, I'm having a really hard day today and I'm working hard to maintain my hope. Jill Brook: That feels so doable. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Right? And I will check myself sometimes I'll say like, Oh, you're like, And I'll go into one of those negative statements. I'll say, Wait, stop. Is that really what you want? And often it isn't. And I will say, Okay, then what is it that I do want? Oh, today I would, I really like to have much better energy. I would really like to have time that I devote to my self care, which then makes me think about, okay, well then how could I do that? If I want those things, how can I then make the changes? So I like to think about these programs and even just paying attention to how we talk to ourselves as providing the directions for where I want to be in the future and how to help my nervous system to get there, rather than just focusing on where I have been and where I am today. Jill Brook: great. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: A good analogy that I use sometimes is, if I were at a job I didn't like, I could focus on my thoughts on the things I don't like about this job, or I could focus my thoughts on what I could change in there, or look for a new job. The first way of thinking is going to keep me in a very negative place, and it's going to make me feel worse every time I go to work. And every time there's something negative, I'm likely going to have an even bigger response because I'm already in this negative place and it's going to be like, See now it's like really terrible. This is just awful. But at the end of the day, I'm likely going to come home and want to eat comfort food and sit on the couch instead of taking care of myself or doing something good for myself, which is then going to make me feel worse. And then I'm going to go to my job the next day and that's the cycle that I'll be stuck in. Jill Brook: And I think we all know employees like that. We don't want to be those employees. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: but I think we've all had times where we've done that ourselves. There are times I could think back and be like, Yeah, I've done that, I've done that about various things. I sure have. The second way of thinking though still acknowledges there are problems with this job that I have. Absolutely. However, I then shift into a different way of thinking around the solutions to those problems. Do I talk to somebody at my job? Do I talk to hr? Do I talk to my boss? Do I try and problem solve with people to get things changed or do I like, you know, that's not going to work, so I'm going to start looking for interviews and go and find a new job. And so I'm really solution focused about what is it that I want? Rather than what are the problems and getting stuck in the problems. So I think that this is also important to recognize that like when we talked about the cell danger response things initially, we have to make sure that we are getting some treatment or acknowledgement or assessment for those things because if those dangers are still going on, it's going to be hard to retrain the limbic system completely. I think that we need all of the things we need to resolve that initial threat, get the vagus nerve functioning and getting then the limbic system working. I think you can still work with these vagus nerve supports and the limbic system trainings at the same time because it can help prevent things from getting worse. But just know that we gotta work with all of these pieces together. There may also be times though, where that initial threat is done and people are still having symptom. And so remember, this is a key point in Dr. Navios theory about cell danger response, is that the neurologic dysfunction can still persist after that initial threat is gone. And I think this is what's happening when somebody is having symptoms, their testing all shows up as normal and the person's told everything's in their head or they have something functional. And I think that then it gets really damaging to patients because then they feel blamed for their symptoms, or they start to look at what is so deeply psychologically wrong with me that I am causing these symptoms. And there may be absolutely nothing wrong other than the things we all deal with because we're human. Jill Brook: Mm-hmm. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: But then that can lead to anxiety and depression. There can be shame, feelings of failure. People can start discounting their own symptoms, which then makes all of that worse and makes the nervous system work even worse. That actually adds fuel to the fire. It's, again, important to recognize this is all neurologic. This is the way the nervous system is working. So I want to give an example. It's not a POTS patient, but this is so crystal clear, how this all worked. It's amazing to me. So this was a patient I've been seeing for a long time, and she went in to have cataract surgery. She did no other underlying issues. This was going to be a pretty basic, simple issue. Have the surgery and be done. After her surgery, she started having this extraordinary eye pain that would lead to these massive headaches. And they were all light driven. So she started getting to the point where the curtains were always closed in her house. She had to wear sunglasses. When she went outside, she wore this wide brimmed hat and like completely black wrap around sunglasses. The windows in her car had to be tinted and she basically stopped going outside. which meant she stopped seeing people and doing things and she had to, every eye specialist you can imagine, and they kept telling her, We don't see anything wrong. Like everything is healed up fine. Let's try doing something. Limbic system. She did one of the programs and after a month she came back just wearing regular sunglasses. She didn't need me to turn the lights out in the office. She was going outside. She was seeing people to the point that people were surprised to see her. They were very happy, but they were like, We didn't expect you to be here because this was an outdoor summer event. And she was okay. And so she said, she had come up with this phrase that she would say to herself when her eyes would start to hurt and she would feel it. She would tell her brain, You don't need to protect me, I just need some oxygen. That's was her thing. And the pain would go away and she said, nine times outta 10 it would go away and it would stay away. And she'd been slowly introducing more and more light to her eyes. She wasn't afraid to go outside during the day, and she'd been allowing more light in the house. And what she started to feel like was she would go to, say, events with friends or with her community, and she would have a good time and she would have a good experience and her eyes wouldn't hurt, which then made her want to do that again. So she started in this positive cycle, and this was the first time anything had had any effect like this. She wasn't needing pain medications, she was so surprised that this actually worked as quickly and as simply as it did. But I just want to tell people, it can work like this. Everybody's going to have a different experience. I thought that was just amazing and wanted to share that this is the possibilities of things that can happen with retraining. Jill Brook: And what's interesting to me is that it seems so self reinforcing in the good direction or the bad direction. You have a couple good first experiences. It makes you venture out for the next ones and the next ones. And you expect good things to happen and that helps good things to happen. Or it can go the other way. And so I see where anything we can do to nudge it makes probably a big difference because it's all going to snowball. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: right. Exactly. And I think that one of the other important things is to remember is that the limbic system is trying to protect you and keep you safe, which is a good thing. I think this is important because a lot of people with chronic illnesses feel like their bodies have betrayed them. Their bodies are working against them. They're not even safe in their own bodies. And I want to help reframe this, that your body is overdoing the responses designed to keep you safe. That's still a problem. But that idea changes how we approach the problem. That it's not something that's going wrong in something that's bad, it's something that is good. It's just too much of a thing. When I feel like my nervous system is going off the deep end, I say, Thank you limbic system. I know you're working really hard to keep me safe. I appreciate that. Let's figure out if this is really dangerous for me. So I don't say it's doing a good job. Cause I don't want to reinforce this behavior. I appreciate the intent behind it and I want to give that acknowledgement and then I want to step in and say, let's really look at this. So I think that this came out of some reading I had done about training great pyranese dogs, which we have. They are guard dogs. They are designed to guard flocks and they're very independent and they will bark. And one of the things that my husband and I had learned about was when they bark, don't praise them, but don't ignore it either. And don't just yell at them, acknowledge them. And that will help them to know that yes, they're trying to get your attention. You've given it, you've checked it out, you can tell 'em, Yes, thank you. I heard that barking. This is okay. And that will help them to stop barking. And that is the one thing that at least we have found to be the most effective for them. So I think about my limbic system as my third great pyranese. And that sometimes I need to just acknowledge, I hear you barking. Let's check this out and see if this actually warrants barking. Jill Brook: I love that because it's also a little bit of a reminder to yourself that, okay, little primitive brain, you're doing something, but I'm the adult in the room. I'm going to check on what really needs to happen. We're not you too much credit for being accurate until I double Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Because if you are getting incorrect information, you're not going to be accurate. And if that's what you've gotten for a while now, then you're going to be cruising along thinking this is great. When in fact, no, you actually are inaccurate and I need to reteach you. So that's the framework for a lot of these limbic system things. And I think it's helpful if we approach it from that way to see, Oh, this is what I'm trying to do with this program. There's so many ways that we can work with limbic system retraining. And I want to touch on quite a few of them. Some of them, like, frequency specific microcurrent, emotional freedom technique, craniosacral EMDR. I'm not going to talk about those a whole lot because I think those are things people would need to find a practitioner near them and have it be somebody that they resonate with. Because I think if you're doing limbic system work around this, then we can get into trauma. And if you're working with somebody, I think you have to feel safe with that person. Jill Brook: But are you saying that you do believe that those are effective techniques? If someone does find those, Can you just say those again a little slower so people can take notes if they want to. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: So it's frequency specific, Microcurrent, emotional freedom technique, cranio sacral. And then the eye movement desensitization and reprogramming is also known as EMDR that's using eye movements. There's another program that I will talk a little bit about, cause it was a new one to me that also looks at eye movements. And if you remember, one of the vagus nerve things that we talked about was one of those exercises from Dr. Rosenberg, which just uses eye movements. So we're touching a little bit on vagus nerve with those as well. So there's a little bit of using the eyes to get into both vagus nerve and the limbic system. So I think that's pretty interesting. Jill Brook: Okay, great. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: The first one I want to mention is the Dynamic neuro retraining system, which is DNRs, which is developed by Annie Hopper. And this is an instructional video program and they have a whole lot of optional other support services that people can use if they choose. There's about 20, if not more, hours of really in depth information. And she talks about. Science of neuroplasticity, like some of the limbic system function stuff that we've talked about, and how chronic symptoms then relate to brain function, how to bring awareness to some of these patterns. How to recognize when you're having that dysfunctional stress response. And then how thoughts, emotions, behaviors can work in your favor to then help change the brain function and build those healthier patterns. So they use all sorts of targeted desensitization visualization techniques and they use a whole bunch of different techniques to help then again with that retraining. They use behavioral therapy, mindfulness, emotional restructuring. They actually use some neurolinguistic programming. They do this incremental training where they almost do like a step-wise desensitization of like, okay, let's try and think about a situation that might be challenging while you're in a controlled environment. Can you regulate, Let's go a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger, so that then you have a chance to work through these things, not just get thrown to the deep end. And looking at then like a lot of emotional regulation kinds of techniques. The other big one that people probably have heard of is the Gupta program or the amygdala retraining. And that's retraining the brain. He talks about relaxing the nervous system and re-engaging with joy. So there are things that are very similar between these two. And I'll talk about some of the differences because the Gupta program also uses the neurolinguistic programming, meditation, breath work. They do a lot more with meditation but they also have individual work and the coaching and group sessions similar to DNRS. And they have a little mini course that patients can try out. Before they decide to go for the whole program. So the Gupta program also does parts work or internal family systems working with elements that come up around beliefs, resistance, other places where people may have blocks. So it goes a little bit deeper into maybe where some of these blocks or some of these issues may ultimately have their roots. And as I said, DNRS has a much smaller meditation component and it's much more structured. So the DNRs, I know that they talk about a minimum of one hour of structured practice per day, whereas Gupta talks about a minimum number of rounds and those can be longer or shorter. In my experience, the DNRs people can do it for however long they can do it. I've had patients who started five minutes because they're like, I can't do an hour. And it's like, I don't care. Five minutes is more than zero. So we can work up to that, but five minutes is still going to be more than what you had before. I do find with the Gupta, they have just a lot more flexibility in terms of the ranges. So some of them are like only a minute long, some can be 20 minutes long. So there's just a lot more flexibility. But if somebody really likes the structure of the DNRS but feels like that's going to be too much, that's okay. Just chop the time down to what works for you and make that be flexible. There's not going to be any like DNRs police that are going to come along and check your work and make sure you've done your hour. But if the way that program is structured resonates with somebody, go for it and work with the timing. DNRS is much more like a workshop seminar style. Things start up and like you're on this program. Whereas the Gupta is a little bit more of a slower approach building gradually, which I can see if somebody's really had a lot that might resonate a little bit more. One of the things that I did want to spend a little bit more time on is called acceptance and commitment therapy. This is something that someone can do with a provider because it is a type of psychotherapy. But I want to talk about the pillars of it and the the foundation of it, because that's work that people can do for themselves, like starting today. So this is a psychotherapy that it emphasizes acceptance as a way to deal with negative thoughts, feelings, symptoms, or circumstances. And then committing to what actions you want to take that really fit with your values as a person. And so there is an element of finding out about yourself and what is really valuable to you, and having that be your compass. And so the theory suggests that increasing this acceptance leads to more psychological flexibility, which is then the ability to embrace your thoughts and feelings when they're useful and realize, oh no, that one isn't. And I want to make sure people understand that in this work. Acceptance simply means recognizing that thoughts and feelings exist, not that they're all okay. So a person can then say, Oh, I am feeling this, and then I can assess, is this useful or helpful, or be curious about where the feeling's coming from. So the first principle they talk about is cognitive diffusion. So it's the process of separating yourself from these inner experiences, your thoughts, images, memories. And so this allows you to see your thoughts just as thoughts, because our minds are the ones that put importance on different thoughts. We're the ones who decide if a thought is important or not, and all of them are just thoughts. And so it allows us to get some perspective. So we want to stop the belief that all of our thoughts are reality or truth or important, or direct orders or threats. There's a great quote, and I don't remember where I heard it from, but it says, Don't believe everything you think. Jill Brook: Right, right. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Oh, that's actually really good advice, because sometimes thoughts can be wrapped up in all sorts of old stuff that may not be true for us anymore. And we are more than just our thought. We're way, way, way more like we are these amazing beings that are so much more than that. And sometimes we can think things that are actually wrong, and that's okay because we're human. Jill Brook: So I like that because again, it feels like you're saying who's boss, It's not you, thoughts, it's me. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: I can say, Oh, you know what? I don't know that I believe that anywhere. So yes, that thought popped up into my head. That's an old way of thinking. I don't know that I actually like that anymore. I can then just assess them. So that moves into the second one, which is expansion or acceptance, which means just allow those thoughts and feelings to occur without trying to change them, ignore them, run away from them, give them excess attention. It's like, Oh, okay, I'm thinking this. Okay. But then connecting with the third principle, it was connecting to the present. So it was, again, staying mindful of your surroundings with this openness, interest and receptiveness. So when you're really connected with the present, it's a lot harder for your brain to start churning out these old thoughts because you're too focused on what's going on around you. That also helps you though to start assessing the situation, and acting in accordance with that current situation and what we value and how we would want to be in that situation. So when we're really connected and paying attention to the present, we respond to the present, not have our brains be churning around old stuff from the past and having that be what dictates what we do. The fourth one is the observing self, and that involves learning to see your thoughts, actions, beliefs about yourself as separate from your true essence. So it really means becoming non-judgmental about ourselves. Jill Brook: So that sounds a little similar to the last one. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: right? So it's really about then just being able to observe, Oh, I'm thinking about this, and everything just is. We can be ourselves in all of the ways that we are, which I think is, we're actually really quite good for us to do in general. That we are all works in progress and we all have things we're really good at, things we're working on and things we're not so good at, things we will never be good at. I will never be good with technology. That's why my husband is a computer person, like I scored on that one because I will never be, this just not the way my brain works and I'm okay with that. There are other things that I am good at, so I just surround myself with people who can help me when I need it. The last two principles of the six principles of the a c t are the values clarification. And that's where we really are looking at what is most important to our deepest selves. Like the who is the person we want to be, what is meaningful to us? What do we stand for in our lives, in our relationships. Because again, with. Idea around the limbic system retraining of trying to help us get to where we want to be. We need to know where we want to go. So if we don't know what our destination is, it makes it really hard to plan a trip to get there. So this principle is really about trying to figure some of that out so that we can say, Okay, if I want to be this person and I feel like this is who I really am and what I really value, then you can move into the last principle, which is that committed action, which is I am going to do things that resonate with that value and resonate with who that person is in a way then that becomes meaningful and that's then where some of that change starts to happen. So the acceptance and commitment therapy, there are actually a whole bunch of resources if people look that up there worksheets that people can do on their from a bunch of different sites. They're providers of all kinds of people want to work with this with a person. But I think some of those principles are things that people can be thinking about just on their own in terms of how do I go about my daily life? I really like that one because I think there's a lot that people can then do. They're easy steps that people can work with, people can work with one thing at a time. They can go at their own pace. And some of it is just figuring out, oh, okay, these are some good questions just for me as a person, let alone what we're doing then with the limbic system. So I think there's just benefit all the way around. So, one of the other ones I want to touch on is called the Brain Tap. This is research that was done by Dr. Patrick Porter. There's a neuro algorithm that guides your brain through a broad range of brainwave patterns. So it results in a complete spectrum of brainwave activity, not just that alpha state. And it uses sound and music and this spoken word for this brainwave retraining. It uses sound to synchronize with the brainwaves. So this is one of the ones that is more passive. So you purchase their headset. It does use some sound and it does use some pulse light, but they have different programs that people can use, like sleep or stress, learning, different things , and you just put the headphones on and listen. And so that just works directly with those brainwaves. Jill Brook: So can I ask, so brainwaves, I'm not very familiar with brainwaves. Are you saying that different emotional states or different nervous system states are associated with different brainwaves and that you can almost like hack those to get into a different state. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Yes. And so they use things called biurnal beats. So when there are two different tones that are separated by just a little bit in the Hertz, one in each ear, the brain actually perceives this third unique tone. So we've got one sound coming in, one ear, one sound coming in another, and the brain basically puts that together to create a third beat, which then that's what the brain then mimics. And so what we're trying to do with this one is work through like all of the different types of brainwaves because again, we're trying to get that plasticity, get that flexibility. So we want your brain to get out of just one wave, especially the waves that we see when we're stressed and move through all of them. And have that been an easy and smooth process. Jill Brook: So it sounds like for somebody who is in that freeze state, which I just keep thinking about, like a possum playing dead. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Mm-hmm. , which it is! Jill Brook: It sounds like when you're in that state, you're not going to have the most ambition to go, take on a DNRs program where you're ready to go work an hour a day or whatever. So maybe some of these passive things where you can just put on some headphones or whatnot and have the lights and the sound work on you for a while. Is that a good time to do that one? Dr. Kimberly Hindman: I think that would be great. I think that would also be a great time to put on some like really, really funny standup or a movie that just, you know, makes you laugh and it always does. That's a really good time to watch that as well. And then maybe watch that and then put your headphones on and see if we can re-engage both of the vagus nerve and then the limbic system. But you're right, it is challenging when you only have one thing that you're doing. If you're not really in that state, we are not trying to create more stress and like, oh, I've gotta go do this. We want to make these things be easy and positive. Be like, Oh, I want to go do that. but you're right. When you're in a freeze state, it can be hard to get the motivation to go do that. So some of these other things can be really helpful. Yeah, that's absolutely spot on. Jill Brook: Okay. Very cool. All right. What else? Dr. Kimberly Hindman: So there's also something called brain spotting which was developed by Dr. David Grant. This is somewhat similar in some ways to the EMDR because it's using eye positions. So this is another one. You do need to work with somebody who's trained in this. And what they're looking for is what they call a brain spot. And they say that's an eye position that's related to an energetic or emotional Activation of some charged issue within the brain. Usually then the amygdala, the hippocampus, limbic system. And so the person will then be looking to see also are there changes like in reflexes in someone's face, their body position. Sometimes it can be eye blinks or somebody like they stare off into space. Do they furrow their brow? They're looking for all of these different characteristics that indicate that we've got something that the brain is paying attention to. And then you basically work with that spot. So you're holding then that eye position and you're working through whatever's coming up as you're doing that. And so, you're basically then allowing some healing to happen around that by working through it, by holding them the neurological component as well as then whatever it is that you're experiencing. You can do it either at trying to lower distress or by establishing and strengthening resources. So I know sometimes people will get concerned about something like this or even like EMDR of, Oh, are we going to be pulling up all my old trauma? I don't want to do that. That is not necessary. And that's why I wanted to touch on this as well, is it does not have to be about all of the negatives. You can also very much focus on, like we talked about before, what are the positives, what are the things you want to strengthen, what are the things that you want to then move and work towards and focus on those things? Their website, brainspotting.com, they have a directory of certified practitioners on there. If people are looking for somebody, if that sounds like, Oh, that sounds like something I would want to check out, because sometimes it's hard to do this by yourself. So I want to have a mix of things that are things you can do with others, things you can do by yourself, and then things that yes you can do by yourself, but there's also support groups. Jill Brook: Yeah. Thank you. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Yeah. So there's also then the Safe and Sound protocol, which was developed by Dr. Porge. So he's our polyvagal theory. And so he developed this to help people to learn to attain a grounded state where they feel safe, connected, calm, and social. So when you're in that state, that's then where you start getting this healing, growing restoration. Again, we're getting more and more times where you're having that body experience of feeling that way, that gets it into that positive cycle that you were talking about. So this is working primarily with auditory. So again, if somebody has any sound sensitivity issues, just think about that or talk to somebody about that before starting it because it's a five day music therapy, basically intervention, and they use headphones and they can either be done in a clinic with somebody who does it or it can be done remotely and they're using specifically processed vocal music and they're looking at the frequency range of human speech. And so we're using the frequency patterns that the human mind then associates with then like social engagement and that nervous system regulation. It's going along with the way that we will modulate our own voices. Like if we're trying to comfort somebody, we don't yell at them. There are different frequencies to our voices. We change and we don't change it consciously. We just do it naturally. So it's using some of that frequency information around the human voice to then create that environment using that in The auditory nerve. And then there's something called Sync tuition, which is S Y N C T U I T I O N. This is another sound program, and it actually uses some of those binaural beats again. So again, we're having these modified sounds in each ear, and that brain, creates that third sound. So you're getting then this communication between the two sides of the brain. They actually do use the patient's voice. They use a sample of your own voice and that creates this familiarity. So they're hoping that that then automatically creates a certain amount of safety because it's a sound you already know, the sound you're very with. And then it uses what they call rhythmic entrainment. So they're using these frequencies then that will relax heart rate, decrease cortisol, and then use then these different rhythms to then create the neural connections that we want. They've done research on all these different things to see which frequencies create, what results in the brain in terms of the brainwaves. So they're picking out the ones that have been researched that then we know are going to be the ones that generate that calming experience in the brain with the brain wave. Jill Brook: Oh, that's interesting. So you're saying that there's certain types of sounds that are better at promoting the kinds of connections that will get you more into the parasympathetic state. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Yes. And get that limbic system to calm down and be like, Oh, I'm safe. Jill Brook: Huh? Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Some of that I think people will resonate with automatically. I mean, if you think about like what are the sounds that people use for relaxation tapes for going to sleep, or if they're getting acupuncture or in a massage, Nobody's using heavy metal. They're all nature sounds. They're soft, they're quiet, they're like within certain frequencies, they have different rhythms. Those are all the things that help to promote that relaxation. So we're using some of these things as sensory ways to get into the limbic system. And then some of the other things are the conscious things, and I think that having combinations of both are really, really good. There's another one called the Lightning Process. This was built by Amy Ashley. This is a little bit more of an intensive, interactive program. So this is three days, approximately four to five hours each day. This is much more of an intensive program. And some people like to dive right in and that's great. So I wanted to have this option out there for those folks as well. And then after that, they have a one-on-one follow ups. Again, they're doing a lot of the neurolinguistic programming and coaching and then using a lot of work around the stress response and helping somebody to spot any destructive unconscious patterns that activate those brain pathways. So they're focusing a lot on that awareness piece and then being able to interrupt that. when you identify, Oh, this is my thought process, Oh, I can recognize it, then what do I do? How do I want to reframe that? How do I want to take a different action around that so that I can stop that runaway train? And then they also use some movement. They use visualization, they use some meditation like things. This is one of the ones that I have seen that really does use movement. So I think that's interesting in terms of getting the body moving along with this, not just having it be sensory or just the thought process. So that's a little bit different there. There are a couple of others that are pretty similar, and some of these are focused more on pain, so people may need to adapt the language around them. One is called direct your own care program, so it's about learning about chronic pain, forgiveness, being able to figure moving forward, where do you want to go and how do you want to get there? And then stepping into what it is that you want to create in your new life. This is one that talks a lot about expressive writing. So if you have listeners who really like writing, this might be a good one to check out because that's one of their first pieces in the Laying The Foundation is very much about writing. And so I think that that can also be really good. If people want to do art therapy, I think that can be really helpful. I mean, anything that can be expressive, because a lot of these other ones that we've talked about before are more about what you're putting in. This is one that does talk about how do you express yourself, they talk a lot in this one about anger and understanding the impact of anger on your life. And I think anger can be a tricky emotion, especially in our culture because you know, if you're quote unquote nice, you don't express your anger. But anger is a human emotion and it is usually an emotion that shows up when something is not right. So this is something that, yeah, when we're angry about something, I think we do need to look at this and we do need to say what is going on here? Maybe there's something that is not right. Jill Brook: well, so that's interesting because for many of us, maybe it's, don't listen so much to the fear. The fear is a little bit over tuned, but do listen to the anger because that one you've been. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Right? Anger can be destructive, it can also be very motivating. Anger is like the motivation behind like all of the social justice movements. That's a good thing. So if there's someone is experiencing anger, I think that you need to understand what is that about? What are you actually angry? And how do you then process that so that it doesn't become something that leads someone into victimhood? Because I think that's the other piece that anger can have is, is that it can really make people feel like I'm angry, but I'm powerless. You're not powerless, never powerless. There's always something. And it may be something that you need help with. You need to get people in your posse. There may be small steps, but there's small steps eventually over time can lead to big steps. There can be change. So how do you process that? How do you work with that? How do you help that to be a motivating factor to make things right? There's another one called Unlearn Your Pain. That was from Dr. Shubner. He has a book and he's written a bunch of different articles about this. And again, that's another one that talks mostly about pain. But what I like about one of his things is that he recognizes that the brain can generate as well as modulate pain. So this means that if someone's experiencing pain, that could be coming from the body part itself, or it could actually be coming from the brain telling you that part hurts. And this is something that we get into is central sensitization pain, because the brain is much more involved in that centralized pain. There's an element that is actually coming directly from the nervous system. And his theory is that this is what's happening a lot of times when there are no findings on imaging, there's no finding on physical exam, but it still hurts and that pain is real. we're not saying that the person isn't actually experiencing pain, it's that the source of the pain is the central nervous system, not the knee. So we don't worry about treating the knee because we're treating the wrong thing. We need to treat the central nervous system. And so what he's talking about then is that apprising the pain. So again, talking about the pain is coming from the brain and not from somewhere in the body. Working them with fearful emotions because especially if there is pain, there's oftentimes fear around movement. Fear, I'm going to hurt myself, fear I'm going to make it worse. And then slowly, gradually increasing activities that may have caused pain before that helped to challenge those fearful beliefs. So that you do a little bit and oh that was okay. So like my patient with her eyes a little bit of light was okay. Well then I try a little bit more and I try a little bit more. So we get into some of this gradual experience building that, oh this is actually, okay, this is another one that does do a lot with expressive writing. And working through some of the emotions and helping to express what's in there so that we're not carrying it around all the time. And one of the things that I also like about this is he really encourages interpersonal communication. So he's really looking at them, that social engagement part, because we know how much that affects the vagus nerve. So when we're around other people and we're having a good time, because we are social creatures, we feel safe, we feel safe with other people that we feel safe with, which leads to safety, which then means we want to do this more, which leads to safety, which then helps the limbic system go, Oh, I'm feeling safe right now. Maybe this is a new experience for me, but this is good. So we're trying to build up that library of safe, good experiences. So the limbic system says, Oh, okay, I need to assess a current experience. Oh, this actually is a lot like those safe ones. Oh, I'm just going to go there. Jill Brook: Well, and what I'm hearing is that for anybody who has maybe gotten isolated because of their situation or their pain or dysfunction, one pretty productive step they could take if they're not feeling that ambitious, is just do anything social. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Yes, yes. Isolation is a huge issue, and I think that people, especially when they are having very real and profound symptoms, They look fine. It's really hard to explain this to other people and have them understand and have them take you seriously and recognize this is your real experience. There's also something very empowering about acknowledging that to people who can listen to you and still then going and doing what you can. So maybe somebody's having a gathering, you go for 10 minutes instead of the whole thing. That's fine. You went for 10 minutes. So that was 10 more than zero. So that was really good. And we have to sometimes build up those increments in the social piece as well. Humans are social beings. We are. A hugely important part of healing is redeveloping those social connections that really support us and places where we then also feel we can support other people. So being able to support our friends. As well as them supporting us, even if it's in small ways, even if it's, I'm just going to listen Jill Brook: Yeah. Another great theme that I hear you saying again and again is that baby steps are just fine no matter how small, and that's resonates. Something that I had figured out on my own at some point is that when you're basically at a zero and you're trying to get to 10 it, at first, it can seem intimidating and you can say, Oh man, the only baby step I can handle right now feels like a 0.01. But the difference between zero and 0.01 is still infinity, right? Like that first little anything you get the biggest bang for your buck that you're ever going to get. Because when you're starting from zero, anything more than that is infinity. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Right. Exactly. It can be very difficult for patients to then think about, Oh, like where do I want to get to eventually? Well, that's so far away. That's fine. Break it into then smaller things. Break it into, okay, then what could you do today? That would be a small thing that would at least be on the right trajectory. It would at least be in the right direction. It's not going to get you there completely. That's okay. Nothing in life does. So if we just need to take that scale and make it even smaller so that people need to take even smaller steps, that is okay. I completely agree with what you just said, Jill. Like it's so much more than zero. And if that little bit helps, then even if it helps just a little bit, then we've had the experience of, oh, there was something positive. Okay, I can file that into the library. I'm going to do it again. And so that's where we start building that momentum of that positive cycle that you were talking about of a positive leads to a positive. And then over time, that gets going and it starts developing a little bit of momentum on its own. So then as people start to get into a much better place, Let's say there's a social thing coming up, they start to feel positive about going, not feeling like, Okay, I've gotta figure out a way to make this work. And that positive anticipation gets them into that positive place even before they've gotten there. Jill Brook: Right. I'm not there yet. I look forward to that. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: that's where, and people need to recognize that life still happens. So there will be times when someone will have an unexpected stressor and it will get a little bit harder. The road is never a straight line up. I really wish it were, but it's a sawtooth pattern of ups and downs as we're going along. Instead of having those bumps in the road be a negative, use that as an opportunity, Okay, then what new things could I try now that I haven't tried before? How is this bump different than the last time I had one? Maybe it's not quite as bad. Maybe it doesn't last as long, which helps you to know, oh, the things I've been doing have made a little bit of a difference. I tell my patients whenever we have a bump in the road or we go sideways and something unusual happens, that's totally fine. We'll just let's try and get some more information outta this so we can learn what is your body and your being telling us right now about this response? Because nobody's trajectory is a straight line there. We always have detours all over the place from our original plan, and that's okay. Everybody's got their own path and they need to walk that path as long as they keep moving forward, in that direction. The last one I want to mention is something called Simply Sarno. This is similar to some of the other programs . It's primarily, again, about pain and he did a lot of work around low back pain. So again, if somebody's going to look at that one just modify the language around pain to be whatever. That you're working with, but that also does have a whole workbook and some exercises that people can do. So I like that one because there's actually a little bit of a combination of being self-directed, but then there is some structure because there's an actual workbook that people can work through, but then at their own pace on that one. There are some things that are specifically around vagus nerve for kids that seem to work better because some of these things can be tricky if you're dealing with a younger child because especially if involves this conscious involvement, they can't do that. Their brains aren't myelinated enough to do it yet. And that's okay. They's something called Headspace for kids. There's something else called tones by now. There's the muse headband and then there's the mightier device. And they're all things that they work again, like with those binaural beats biofeedback. The Mightier device there's a heart rate monitor that's attached to a video game. That's the only thing I don't like about that one is that it is video game based. So kids might like it, but I know we don't need to necessarily increase their video game time. Maybe getting them out into nature might be a better idea . It helps them to regulate their emotions as the stress increases and the gain gets more challenging. So if you have kids who have a lot of emotional dysregulation, especially around stress, that might actually be a good thing because it gives them this real time feedback about what is their heart rate doing as the stress is increasing, and how are they working with regulating themselves to try and get that number back down again so they can see the changes. So for somebody who is having that challenge, that might be an option to just help them to then learn the skills of how to regulate. Jill Brook: I'm glad that you mentioned the children. So are you implying that all of this stuff is pretty much safe for everybody and like even children? Dr. Kimberly Hindman: It is. Some of the other programs are going to be difficult for children because if it's talking about like self-awareness, kids just don't have a lot of that in general. And so if you can work with them to help develop that, that's great, but that's a skill that they are still working on in terms of how their brains function. How do they put those pieces together? Sometimes kids don't always know what they're thinking or what they're feeling, and if they're really in the middle of a very high emotional state, they may not be able to express clearly what it is that they're feeling. Jill Brook: Okay. But some of these other things that intervene with your state, such as the binaural beats or the sounds, or the light, all of that has no safety issues for people so long as they feel that they're Dr. Kimberly Hindman: it's all just working with helping to reset natural brainwaves. I think some of the vagus nerve things can be great for kids. You can make a game out of the gurgling, you can be like, Okay, we're going to stay now and we're just going to be as loud as we possibly can. I mean, telling a kid, Okay, I want you to be as loud as you possibly can, is not something they usually hear. So they'll be like, Really great. Okay, let's see, how long can you put the cold washcloth on your face? So that's where I think some of these things can be really helpful because they're designed specifically for kids and they're all that passive, auditory technique. Jill Brook: Great. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: If your listeners find others that really work for them, I would love to find out, I'd love to know how people are working with these things. How does it work for them? Especially if they do combinations of the limbic and the vagus. What do people experience? Because this is something that is still relatively new and we have a lot of information around how the brain works in general, but there have not been like big studies done on having a group of people go through limbic system retraining. Like DNRs and the Gupta program have information about like testimonials from their patients and people who've done it. But we've never done like a double blind study on it. What we're learning about is coming from patient direct experience. And so I think the more people try things and the more experience we have, then the more we have a better understanding of how these things work and what's going to work best for people. Jill Brook: Wonderful. Okay. And so you've given us so many different things, and I think what you're saying is find what works for you. They all have science to suggest that they should be productive and safe. Try something that sounds like it might suit you. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Absolutely. Yeah. And if one thing really resonates with you, jump in. They're all a little bit different, but they all are working on those same basic principles around the brain plasticity that I talked about in the very beginning. So I know they're all working in that same direction. It's just a matter of how you get there. And we're all going to get there in different ways because we're different people. So I would much rather have somebody use something that looks fun and interesting and like, Hey, I could do that than try and force them into one particular pathway that's supposed to be the, you know, way to do it. Now, there are lots of ways to get there. Jill Brook: That's great. And I think once you feel it a little bit, it becomes so much more motivating to put the work in to do some more. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: It does, and I had shared this with you, Jill, but I just want to let patients know I had this experience myself. I got a voicemail and it said it was the IRS and that they were suing me. And my conscious brain kicked in and said, Wait a minute. The IRS doesn't leave voicemails. The IRS sends mail. So I realized there's like, Oh, I did recognize what I'm feeling. I interrupted it. I assessed the current situation and said, Oh, this is a scam. Oh. And I could feel that panic that had started to rise up, settle back down, because I could say, Oh, I know what this is. This is actually not dangerous. I'm going to delete this. And I just had to laugh because I think I got six or seven more of those calls. My husband got several of them and they were always the same. So I knew it was either an automated call or somebody reading off of a script. And at that point, if it truly had been the irs, they were not going to leave me six voicemails. Jill Brook: Well, and the funny thing was that I had had a very similar experience, but I have not trained my brain. And so I did go into the panic. I soon figured out that it was a scam, but it was too late for me. I had gone into the high adrenaline mode. I didn't sleep for like a night or even two nights. And to me, that's the difference between someone who has learned to control that response and somebody who hasn't. My dog was barking like mad about something that was not even dangerous, and it threw me into a frenzy for like two days. And so that's why I am very excited to learn the control that you have! Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Right. It comes over time life continues to happen. But that's where we need to have a system that doesn't just shut it all off. I want to have a sympathetic nervous system. So I. Use it when I need it. There are times I'm going to need it. I want to have a limbic system that isn't just asleep all the time. I want to have one that says, Oh yeah, that is dangerous. I think that's part of that intuition sometimes that we have where we're like, Mm, something doesn't feel right about this situation. Listen to that. That's probably your limbic system. And then something intuitive that's saying the working together saying you are not safe. That's a good thing. Scam. Trying to get my financial information. No, I just need to delete that voicemail and hang up. Jill Brook: But it's great for me to see how my brain sometimes does the same thing. Like once I've had a couple of bad Mast cell reactions to some foods, for example, then I'm scared for a few days of almost everything that I eat. And of course it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy with mast cells. I talk to a lot of other people who have the same phenomenon. So I really see the value of being able to overcome that lizard brain response that just says, Ha, that's an egg. And to wait, say, Okay, thanks for informing me. I'm on it. I'm going to be careful, but I'm going to do this right and not let it just own me like that. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: And that's really important because we also know that mast cells like to hang out around nerves. So they like connective tissue, they like nerves. I mean, they're everywhere. But those are some of the places we find them in larger amounts. So if you have nerves that are firing incorrectly, then they are triggering those mast cells. So I wonder sometimes, for some people, in some situations, how much of their mast cell reaction is actually nervous system driven and everything was primed before they even sat down to eat. So they were going to have a reaction no matter what was on their plate, but the brain says, Oh, I reacted to that particular food. That particular food now is dangerous. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. And that's where we have to have that possibility of saying, Okay, well then how do we retest this? How do we try this with a nervous system that's a little bit calmer? Do we get the same reaction? If we do, then maybe there truly is something about that food, but then that doesn't mean it's all foods. Maybe we try it again and it's fine and we can say, Oh, okay, brain. See, this time it was fine. So let's keep working at this a little bit at a time and see what we have to be able to differentiate. Is this really an issue or is this actually my nervous system saying that it's an issue. Jill Brook: I'm going to be checking out all of these things. And I think you had invited our listeners to tell us about their experiences with those things. So listeners, if you try any of these exercises that we've discussed in this episode or Dr. Hindman's previous episode, you can send any stories or anything you want to share to [email protected] and we want to hear about it. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: absolutely. Thank you so much, Jill. This has been so much fun. I really hope this has been helpful to your listeners and that this can be an additional piece in people's healing. Jill Brook: Well, Dr. Hindman, thank you so much for all of this thorough, practical, amazing information. I know you have spent so much time scouring the literature for all of this and looking for things that are safe and accessible to all of us, and we are just so grateful for the time that you took to selflessly share all of this. And yes, you're just amazing. Where can people find you online? Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Thank you So my website is www.healingdragon.net. Jill Brook: Wonderful. And we'll put that in our show notes. Dr. Kimberly Hindman: Yeah, you are so welcome. Jill Brook: Okay, listeners, I hope you're feeling as inspired as I am. We hope you enjoyed today's conversation. We'll be back next week. And until then, thank you for listening, remember you're not alone, and please join us again soon.

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