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Brainfog

Posted Aug 08 2011 8:42am
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My friend Svasti and I were discussing Brainfog the other day*.  It is a symptom we are both plagued wuth due to different (yet symptomatically similar) chronic conditions.

Wikipedia describes Brainfog (or Cognitive Dysfunction, but that doesn’t sound as fun as Brainfog does it?) as poor mental function, associated with confusion, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. So synonymous with M.E. is it that one of the leading forums/chatrooms for people with M.E/C.F.S is called Brainfog.org .

Brainfog is, put simply, a pain in the ass.

Here’s what happens. You stop dead in the middle of teaching a yoga class, not quite sure where you were up to (always have a lesson plan my friends). You cycle home from work and you realise you can’t actually remember very much of that cycle ride.  You sigh and look for your keys and realise you’ve locked yourself out AGAIN.  Later that evening you realise that you have read at least a chapter of your book with absolutely no idea of what has happened.  Oh, and you’ve left the oven on.

You may recognise it, you may not.  It is incredibly difficult to describe Brainfog to somebody who has never had it.  It’s not quite like being tired.  It’s not quite like having flu. It’s different, other.  Almost ethereal.  Ethereal’s great and all if you’re a fairy, but in the real world, not so much.

It’s like trying to see through jam.  Like trying to walk through treacle.  Like Alice Through the Looking Glass, with added confusion.

People think I’m a scatterbrain.  A flaky yoga teacher.  And that’s OK, I don’t mind.  I try to be as endearingly scatterbrained as I can.  But it’s frustrating you see because the real me isn’t a scatterbrain.  The real me is a super-organised machine on fire!

But we all have bad days.  Even machines.

Over the years I’ve learned to cope with Brainfog and carry on regardless.  You don’t own me Brainfog, oh no!

One of the most effective helping hands for Brainfog that I’ve tried is a simple Pranayama (yoga breathing) practice which I thought I’d share.  A few minutes of this each day can help me feel grounded and stronger and also helps me slow down from the general frustrations of Brainfog.

(NB this pranayama involves breath retentions, ie holding the breath at the end of the inhale and the exhale.  It is important to have a long slow steady breath before you try the retentions and to stop at any time you feel breathless.  If you have never practiced pranayama before it is best learned from an experienced teacher. Inhale and exhale through the nostrils.  Use Ujjayi if you know it well.)

Breathe in for the count of 4.  Breathe out for the count of 4.  Repeat x4

Breathe in for the count of 4.  Hold for 2.  Breath out for the count of 4.  Hold for 2.  Repeat x4

Breathe in for the count of 4.  Breathe out for the count of 4.  Repeat x4

Repeat the whole sequence 3 times.

Do you suffer from Brainfog for any reason?  I’d love to hear any hints or tips you may have!

~~~~

Fascinating a subject as it is, we weren’t just discussing brainfog for the fun of it.  The lovely Svasti has a new interview series up on her blog called The Chronic Yogi – about yoga teachers living with chronic illness and yours truly was the first interviewee.  If you’d like to read it, click here !

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