Meeting Paralysis and Weakness with the Heart:
An Interview with Brett Askenas from the Freedom of His Wheelchair
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Brett Askenas, a successful periodontist, came to me to study HeartMath about four years ago. He had recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time, he was looking for ways to conquer his disease from within himself. What he discovered through time in the heart was that his disease could actually become an ally to bring him closer to his true self. Tune into to tonight's call to hear Brett's inspirational story and interview.
Brett's Story (In his words; sheva's interjections)
About 15 years ago, during a particularly stressful
time in my life (bad marriage) I went out running to blow off some steam. After about a mile, I noticed
an unusual tightness in my solar plexus, which did not appear to be relenting anytime soon. I became
concerned. As an athlete for most of my life, I felt like I had a pretty good awareness of my physical
state at all times. I went to the doctor, who told me it was just stress, so I should find a way to release it. I was puzzled since I thought that's what I was doing in the first place. Apparently it wasn't working.
A common misnomer is that exercise is a stress release. It can be, but it can also amplify stress and the negative effects of stress on the body if you do not know how to approach it properly. Things like relaxation and exercise can help to reduce stress hormone levels and the negative effects of stress on the body when you know how to add the power of positive emotions and the heart. To learn more, click here to sign up for our beginner webinar (available as a live class or streaming at your convenience). You can also sign up to receive lab tests through Fyera! that will test your stress hormone levels to evaluate whether your current stress management approaches are working for you. Click here to purchase, or write us at [email protected] to find out more.
My next visit was to a neurologist, who referred me to a neurosurgeon. Tests were done and it
was determined that they didn't know what was wrong, but I had noticed that my left leg became numb and
tight and I felt like I was wearing a large restrictive knee brace. I also noticed that my
balance was off. The neurosurgeon suggested that I might have disk problems, but after those were ruled
out, he mentioned in an off hand manner that the MRI could be demonstrating the very early signs of
Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I chuckled at this and immediately put this notion out of my mind. I went
on with my life.
All too often we try to handle stress by sweeping it under the carpet. Accessing the wisdom and intelligence of the heart can help us to face and confront stressful situations without denying them on the one hand or attacking them aggressively on the other. This empowers us to respond to situations in a ways that minimize stress down the road, where as sweeping stressors under the carpet or attacking them aggressively can lead to more stress later. In the Beginner HeartMath webinar, we teach tools specifically designed to help you access the guidance and wisdom of the heart.
A few years later, my symptoms improved greatly after
I got divorced, but started coming back after another couple of years, in the way of numbness and tightness
of the legs, fatigue, and reduced coordination while standing for long stretches. I went for more MRIs and
other neurological tests and was diagnosed with possible MS, then probable MS, and then finally,
definitive MS, all over a 3 year span. This was a new and daunting challenge for me. I was going to beat
this by doing whatever it took.
I had always had great success taking on challenges in a head-on
fashion and I believed this would be no different. I started eating more healthily than usual and stopped
drinking alcohol entirely, even though I had always eaten pretty healthy and was nothing more than a
casual drinker. I was also going to indulge the one real avocation that I was passionate about - golf.
I LOVED to play golf. The more the better. I knew by walking the golf course, I would be able to beat
this disease. I never took a cart. I would play 3-4 times per week and sometimes twice on a weekend day. Lots
of miles were logged on the course. Whenever a playing companion suggested that we ride, I
respectfully declined and said to myself, "as long as I can walk, I will walk". I would often swim laps
in the club pool between rounds as well, reducing my core body temperature, and giving me a more complete
workout. I was not going to be debilitated by this physical condition. No way, no how.
I was taking meds which were designed to slow the progress of the disease, but they didn't work well
enough for my taste, so I made a conscious decision to seek alternative means of healing too.
I followed my heart and allowed
my intuition to lead me along the path of healing. I was traveling to Brazil several times a year for
healing and learned 4 important lessons right away: 1- trust your intuition implicitly; 2 - there are no
coincidences; 3 - everything happens for a reason, whether we like it or not; and 4 - ultimately we
have control over nothing of any real importance. What we do have control over is the way we react to things.
These concepts were key to my later perceptions, as you will see.
In the Advanced HeartMath Webinar, we share the latest science from HeartMath which shows a definitive link between heart intelligence, heart/brain communication, and intuition. Gaining the ability to manage reactions to stressful situations is fundamental to the HeartMath curriculum, and a prerequisite for accessing true intuition. Join the Beginner HeartMath Webinar to find out how!
As my trips to Brazil and other healing places became more frequent, my ability to maintain the strength
in my legs to walk long distances was dwindling. It was suggested on several occasions that I use a
wheelchair, but my answer was always a defiant, "NO!!" I believed that by getting in a wheelchair, it was
the ultimate sign of defeat and I would not be defeated. I would not be a failure. I believed that
once I got in one, it would be a prison from which I'd never escape. I comforted myself with some
statistics I had read claiming that only 30% of those with MS would ever be relegated to a wheelchair during their
lives. I'd always been ahead of the curve, so of course I was in that other 70%. I just had to be. Nothing else made any sense to me. Nothing.
Rigid mindsets around things can cause more stress than the actual situations themselves. What are your ridig mindsets? In the Beginner HeartMath Webinar you will learn a tool called the perception shift, that can change your way of thinking about stressful life circumstances so that you can take charge of your stress from the inside out.
Finally, on one trip through Miami, I relented and agreed to let them push me around in a wheelchair.
I was very bummed out. I remember being about as low as I could get, which was very unusual for me, since I was usually driven and focused. So, there I sat
waiting for my ticket in front of the counter at Miami International Airport and I was on the verge of crying, while thinking to myself that it just could
not get any worse than this. I was staring at the ground when a shiny penny caught my eye. It was heads up and I knew it was for me so I picked it up. I
also knew the date on it would be significant, but I didn't know why. It was from 11 years before- 1993 - the year I first had symptoms. I put the penny in my pocket and recognized that I was loved and protected. Fear was becoming a thing of the past.
I continued my healing journeys to Brazil, Canada,
Germany and Florida. They were always instructive and fun, but I considered them business trips. Over time, I came to realize that you experience what you
resist. I had such an overwhelming desire not to be in a wheelchair that it eventuated as a worst fear. About
a year ago, I started using a wheelchair and it made my life a whole lot easier. Eventually, I started really enjoying using the wheelchair. For
me it was a way to get from here to there and nothing more. A way to make the workings of my life easier without exhausting me, so I had energy for other
things. At my 3rd conference in a wheelchair, I found that my arms and shoulders were getting a great workout and getting nicely toned. Since I hadn't
been able to swim and walk well for over 4 years, this was quite exciting for me, as a form of exercise. It also allowed me to do more social things with people.
Mistaking who we are for the body can create feelings of separation, isolation, and despair, even when our bodies are functioning well! When we come to realize who we are from the heart's point of view, worlds of connection and human care open up in the least expected places! Coming into greater alignment with your real self and letting go of false identifications with the body, your bank account, your performance, etc. is one of the benefits you can receive from Fyera's HeartBlueprints Class. Whether your stressful limitation is your body, or some other handicap, you can receive comfort in knowing that the heart and its purpose for you is not stopped by simple 3D.
Now, because of the wheelchair, I can take my dog for walks and have actually met some of my neighbors, who didn't know me from Adam before. I still walk with a cane
and use walls and counters to get around the house, but I'm no longer limited by being too stubborn to
use a wheelchair. I figure that I might as well enjoy it, since I won't be using it forever. I'll use it for as
long as I need it and be thankful for the experience. I mean, how many people can say that they got to use a
wheelchair for a period of time in their lives?
Another thing about being in a wheelchair is that, by and large, people are REALLY nice to you. They go out
of their way to be helpful. I am very appreciative of this, but it also makes me a little sad. I really
wish that people would treat each other the way they treat those in wheelchairs all the time. I've seen
people scowl at each other and then immediately be as nice as can be to someone using a chair. I'm
thinking, "why don't you be nice to that guy, he's having a much worse day than I am".
As a follow up, it has been 5 years (March 22, 2003)
since I last played golf. I am working diligently with a rolfer and a therapist to assist my balance so that I can
hit balls again on my birthday in about 6 weeks (May 5). I don't need to hit them well, I just need to hit them
and maintain a modicum of balance. Since I have been dreaming about playing golf about 3 times per week
over the last several years, this is literally a dream come true for me. One thing I've promised myself,
though, since I'm prone to perfectionism - this time around I'll be a lot easier on me than I used to be. A good effort is all I ask.
Few people realize that perfectionism is a form of stress that can compromise your health and your performance. In the Advanced HeartMath Webinar, we introduce you to the distinctions between caring and overcaring, and how to overcome the insidious stressor of perfectionism.
Anyway, what I am here to share with you is that if you recognize and follow your heart, have appreciation for all that you have in your life, and realize that
its up to you to optimize your perspective, there is precious little that doesn't seem brighter and cheerier.
Science from places like HeartMath has shown us that metaphors such as "follow your heart" are more than poetic sayings, they are literal fact. Positive feeling states like cherrfulness and appreciation actually create a uniquely ordered pattern in the heart rhythm which then allows all the other body systems, including the brain, to fall into harmony with the heart and with one another. Our work here at Fyera! is to lead individuals to be led by their heart's that they may experience breakthroughs to fufillment like the one Brett describes here. Click here to learn more about our year long course, the HeartMastery program!
What for me was a situation from which I only saw failure and defeat, came one which bred freedom and success. The great thing is that this
attitude continues to positively effect other aspects of my life, as well.
|Tune into to this Monday's HeartStart call to hear Brett's inspirational story in his own words, and ask him questions about his experience!
Testimonials from HeartMastery Students:
- "your heart is your best therapist"
- Lauren Bremmer
- "what we just did I would have done in therapy in the past but it would have taken months of therapy. I would have gotten there eventually, but this happened in a moment."
- Lauren Bremmer
- "With just the three classes I've already been through in the HeartMastery Program have already brought so much joy and peace to my life. I'm so happy to have joined the team and to be involved"
- Nina Smirnova
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