The Power of Colour
Musings on the persuasive possibilities of colour.
I needed something that could get to the story and rewrite it.Lisa Wimberger
Lisa Wimberger was lying on the floor of a food court, locked in the grips of a seizure. Her three-year old daughter watched helplessly as her mother’s body twisted violently in terrifying spasms before finally relenting to a catatonic state of paralysis. Since the age of fifteen, Wimberger had been revisited by numerous debilitating episodes that had gone undiagnosed. It was only at the age of thirty, that a doctor finally located the root of these alarming attacks – a hyperactive cranial nerve that ran down the length of her spine and vagus nerve. Following this discovery, the doctor issued a series of stress management practices in the hopes this would address the cause.
“I said,‘stress! You have to be kidding me!’”, exclaimed Wimberger. From her perspective this prescription seemed to fall short of sense. “I have meditated my whole life,” says Wimberger. “ I started meditating when I was twelve and studied with a sect of American monks. So my diagnosis was the first clue that my meditation practice was missing a whole lot of information.” Despite a dedicated mediation practice, the effects of each traumatic episode illuminated a fresh truth; it was not working.
To better understand what was missing, Wimberger took a deep dive into the disciplines of physiology and neuroscience. “What I learned from neuroscience is that the brain can be teased into compliance and an optimal state if we know the right steps and the right teasers- meditation doesn’t know them”, shares Wimberger. “Meditation intuitively hits a couple of things the brain needs but doesn’t really methodically work with the brain in a way that’s going to get the brain to be an ally.”
“For me, meditation was a fantastic coping mechanism,” reflects Wimberger. “The stress hits and you respond and meditation allows you to respond better. But you are still responding to a stress trigger. That stress trigger is only stressful to you because somewhere deep down you have a story about that.”
Understanding the limits of meditation, Wimberger offers valuable insight into the mechanics of mindfulness. “Meditation teaches you how to respond but it doesn’t deal with the stressors. That wasn’t enough for me. What meditation helped me to do, was it allowed me to cope with my seizures, not heal them. It doesn’t rewrite your framework in a way that helps you to no longer get triggered. I needed something that could get to the story and rewrite it.”
To fully illustrate her point, Wimberger presents an example. “Say I get a very large credit card bill in the post. That’s the trigger. One person with the story, “I’m abundant”, won’t stress about that bill. But the person who can never get ahead in life, will stress about the bill. So the stressor is only a stressor as it has a story.”
Our brain is a remarkably adaptable instrument, finely tuned to recognising patterns and producing an automated response. This function allows our brains to work more efficiently, allowing for improved performance, memory and thought. However, when negative thought patterns and narratives are repeatedly overlooked and suppressed, this can give rise to stubborn mental patterns that can be detrimental to one’s psychological health.
As the product of years of evolution, the brain has become fully optimised to derive substantive meaning from the tangled mess of signals it receives from its environment. In short, any event will produce a response to reinforce a story of pattern. This is the immediate result of our brain making reflexive comparison to both lived and present experience. To illustrate this in practice, Wimberger explains, “anything that we see as a threat will trigger a response in the forebrain. That is the command centre for the limbic fight or flight response. This will provoke a flurry of neurological activity, and the brain will validate this new stimulus as a threat. Once this occurs, this same response will be mapped and matched with many other similar experiences in our history. So we will reach for behaviours that work in the reading of this new threat.”
For most of us, and to varying degrees, our experience of fear and panic are all the same. It is testimony to the emotional acuity and biological evolution of our species. When we experience fear in a given moment, this stirs strong physiological responses – spiked adrenaline and cortisol levels, shallow breathing, and amplified stress hormones are just a few symptoms of our fear response. Over time, our brain’s perception of stress and threat will create chronic damage to our bodily functions. “Chronic stress over time is the fastest way to shorten our lives,” remarks Wimberger. “It’s an absolute underpinning concept behind most of our mediated diseases. But, it is controllable aspect of our lives if we learn the language to do that.”
“We teach people how to hijack the feeling of trauma”, states Wimberger. “Neuroplasticity is a mental practice that does not allow those emotions to hijack and stick. This causes a physiological shift.”
As the core of its practice, the Neurosculpting method approaches every stressful incident by re-framing the situation with curiosity rather than fear. “The first thing we have to do in neurosculpting, is to make sure we can get to our stories and edit them. We can only pay attention when fear is quiet and curiosity is really the driver. To do so, we have to quiet the fight or flight centre otherwise everything we do will be in resistance, contraction and themed with a small charge of fear or threat. “
Located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, the Neuroplastic Functional Institute caters to a broad range of students looking to undo years of self-limiting beliefs, trauma, and addiction. Working closely with trainers, the students are guided through a systematic five-step program to identify and reframe detrimental patterns of behaviour. “We don’t say to people, this is going to heal you,” says Wimberger frankly. ”What we say is try this, and see how much more choice and control you have in your response to those things that are limiting you.”
Of all her students, Wimberger recalls a woman who entered the halls of the institute with a spinal cord injury. She had been paralysed for twelve years and was unable to move her limbs. After following the program for a few months, Wimberger proudly testifies that when she neurosculpts, she is able to introduce motion into her thumb and forefinger. Taking the position that our brain can be actively moulded and directed, Wimberger’s neurosculpting method is a radical new way of healing that could profoundly impact the study of medical science. With increasing testimony of this nature, there is hope that Wimberger has discovered lightning in a bottle. Commenting on her method, Wimberger proudly states, “everyone goes at their own pace and we see miracles.”
Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute and leading figure in the field of neuro therapy. Lisa runs a private meditation practice in Colorado teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders. She is also the author of the books New Beliefs, New Brain: Free Yourself From Stress and Fear, and Neurosculpting: A Whole-Brain Approach to Heal Trauma, Rewrite Limiting Beliefs, and Find Wholeness. Visit here for more information about Lisa Wimberger and her Neurosculpting® Institute.
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