Resting Deeply

Until lately when I have paid attention to my need to rest deeply, I have assumed that all I needed was that elusive good night’s sleep or two, or maybe an hour sitting in my chair reading a book, or maybe watching a movie.  But I’ve been confused.  There’s a fundamental part of resting I have missed for years. Continue reading


Who Am I Now?

nested head images

As I teach and meet people soon after they have had a stroke, I see so many grappling with the question “Who am I now?”   It’s not an easy question.   So much has changed in so short a period of time.  But it’s question worth asking.

“Who am I now?” could be a question of religious beliefs and those beliefs can and do have powerful effects in life challenging experiences.   That’s not the question I mean.  What I mean is the question that asks how we have shaped our lives and how we will shape our lives from here. Continue reading


Mindfulness and Stroke Recovery

Many people are talking about mindfulness these days, and through careful investigation researchers are showing the potential for mindfulness to help a whole series of health and wellness challenges.  Could mindfulness be applied to stroke recovery?  Yes, it could, and practicing mindfulness as we work with stroke recovery can be very helpful.

What is mindfulness and how would it be helpful?  Continue reading


Persistence, Not Pressure

Persistence is very important in stroke recovery.   To support our recoveries, we have to be motivated, really want to recover and work hard consistently over the long term.   Our brains and bodies must know that recovery matters to us and that we will continue to pay attention to helping ourselves.  Setting goals, making schedules, making commitments to ourselves and keeping them – all of this makes a big difference.

Persistence is not the same thing as pressure, however.  Continue reading


Coming Home

house in heart

In a talk she gave called on lovingkindness Tara Brach, a wonderful teacher in Washington, DC, quoted a bumper sticker she had seen.   She said, “If I lived in my heart, I’d be home right now.”  I like this bumper sticker very much.

I keep thinking about this quote, asking myself,  “Where am I at home?”  Continue reading


Hope and Expectations

morning mountains in mist

Many times when I give a talk to clinicians I am asked the heartfelt question, “What do I tell patients and family members?  I don’t want to give them ‘false hope.’” These clinicians care about us.  They don’t want to add to our suffering. They want to encourage us and often they truly don’t know what to say.

Is there such a thing as “false hope?”  I don’t think so.   Continue reading


Turning Towards

The other day I was talking to a delightful six-year old. He was telling me that the bread I had given him with his dinner was crunchy.   I explained to him that when I was in the kitchen with his mother I was having such an interesting conversation with her that I had forgotten about the bread and left it in the oven too long. Grinning up at me with that irrepressible smile of his, he said, “Is my mama to blame?” I said, “No. No one’s to blame.” He said, “Are you to blame?”   I said, “No. No one’s to blame.” Then he said with a twinkle in his eye, “Then the oven’s to blame!” Continue reading


Paying Attention

Paying Attention

We often practice paying as little attention to something we are doing as we can get away with: You know how it goes: It’s morning. My mind is on my day. I am taking a shower but I am thinking about what I’m going to have for breakfast, what I will wear, and what the day holds in the way of work for me. I am not thinking about taking a shower. I don’t pay attention to the shampoo when I pick it up and the shampoo drops on the floor. I pick it up. Then I get mad because I dropped it and think about how mad I am and then, still not paying attention to the shampoo, I drop it again. I am practicing not paying attention.

All of us know that state of not really paying attention. We read our emails, talk on the phone, listen for the knock on the door, and dream about lunch all at the same time. Nothing is getting our full attention. Continue reading


Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity

We may have heard about neuroplasticity, but what is it exactly and how does it apply to healing from a stroke? My favorite definition of neuroplasticity is this: “The brain’s ability to change physically and physiologically in response to stimulation.” *

What does that mean? Our brains are changing all the time – every second of every day.   Our brains are not fixed. We are constantly making new connections, reinforcing old connections, tearing down connections that are no longer needed, and storing information. Our brains are made of tissues that connect to one another, store information and send signals in various directions. That’s what our brains do. They are information hubs. And everything that happens in the brain is affected by how we stimulate it. Continue reading