Andrew: taming the brainstorm

So when “Andrew” arrived in our clinic one day, we were not unaccustomed to challenges. Andrew was a young man of about twenty years of age when his mother brought him to the meditation clinic at Blacktown, a working class suburb in Sydney’s outer west. Two years before this, he had contracted encephalitis, a viral infection of his brain tissue which put him in hospital for several weeks; his condition so critical at one stage that he was transferred into the intensive care unit. Although Andrew did survive, the viral attack on his brain had left subtle scars on this most sensitive of organs. It caused the neurons to “short circuit” and produce overpowering waves of electrical signals that spread across his entire brain. This “brainstorm” resulted in severe epileptic seizures.

While the viral infection of Andrew’s brain was over, it had left behind permanent damage which condemned him to a life of violent epilepsy. Epilepsy is a well recognised complication of brain infection. In this case it had taken a promising and talented student and turned him into an invalid. Andrew’s fits were so frequent – sometimes up to two or three times per day – that he could neither resume his schooling nor keep a job. He was dependent on his parents for everything, and so their lives had also become considerably restricted by their son’s illness. As with the other patients in the Mind-Body Meditation Clinic, we advised Andrew that his response to the technique would mostly be determined by his own motivation to meditate regularly.

We were not the healers in the clinic, rather Andrew was going to learn how to awaken an innate and spontaneous healing power within himself. This energy would work inexorably through his meditation to improve his physical, mental and spiritual health. Professor Rai’s epilepsy research showed that patients who practised the technique consistently experienced reductions in the amount and severity of the fits that they were experiencing. This gave us confidence that Andrew could use this technique to his benefit. Andrew learned the Sahaja Yoga technique quickly and practiced it diligently.

The first changes we noticed were in Andrew‘s face: his eyes lost their usual dullness; they looked clear and bright. When we first saw this 19 year old boy he looked like an old man: hunched over, drawn face and dark rings under his eyes. Now he started to look young again and the dark shadow that seemed to hang over him had gone. After a few weeks he would even come to the class with a smile where usually there was only a frown. Andrew’s progress was obvious to us and it was not too much of a surprise to hear from his parents that his fits were reducing in frequency. After several weeks his mother came to the clinic to invite us home for dinner. Andrew had not had a major fit in four weeks, they were planning to go away for the weekend and for the first time in many years life was starting to look normal for them!

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