Posts Tagged ‘brain’


I am currently looking into the work of Karen and Tom Brenner of Brenner Pathways. I am inviting you to visit their website  www.brennerpathways.org  and view the amazing video “Montessori Stepping Stones – Brenner Pathways.  As I am a devoted enthusiast of Montessori for the young, their work in employing Montessori Sensorial learning with dementia and Alzheimers patients has really caught my attention and interest.

I share below a writing from Karen’s website blog with a good reminder for us (who can) “remember” not to use the word remember with our afflicted loved ones. This is precious to learn.  I decided not to paraphrase or describe what she has said here, for she says it only too well.

From the writing of Karen Brenner MA

“Did you know that there are different memory systems at work in our brains?  One of those systems is the declarative memory system. This is the memory system that affects short term memory, language, facts, recent episodes and executive function (the ability to make large and small decisions.)  This is why a person living with Alzheimer’s often cannot remember things that happened five minutes ago, or remember the names of loved ones, or struggles to make the simplest decisions. Just as the lyrics from the old Frank Sinatra song describes:

“It seems we stood and talked like this before. We looked at each other
in the same way then, but I can’t remember where or when.

For someone living with Alzheimer’s, it is as though someone walks in every five minutes with a magic wand, waves the wand, and poof, everything that just happened to them in the last few minutes disappears. This disappearing act happens every few minutes, all day long. Can you imagine how frustrating, how frightening, how aggravating this must be?

It is often made even worse by well-meaning caregivers who insist that the person:

“Just ate dinner ten minutes ago, don’t you remember?”

“Just saw your daughter this morning, don’t you remember?”

“Just went outside for a walk, don’t you remember?”

The problem is, of course, that people with Alzheimer’s don’t remember these episodes that just happened. That magic wand wipes the slate clean again, and again, and again.

To make our lives and the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s a bit easier, we recommend that you lose the word “remember.” This is not an easy thing to do. In the course of a conversation, it is very natural to ask each other if we remember a person or event. But, for the person living with Alzheimer’s, asking them to remember is like asking them to jump up and fly around the room.

Declarative memory also affects language, and that is why people living with Alzheimer’s often struggle to remember names of people or names of common objects…
We all do a little of this ourselves in our daily lives. We’ve all had the experience where a word is right on the tip of our tongue but we cannot find it…. But, for the person living with Alzheimer’s, the constant struggle for words can be exhausting and enraging.

Many times when we are working in a nursing home or an adult day center, we will hear family members or friends pleading with their loved one who has Alzheimer’s, “You remember, Mom. They lived next door to us for forty years! You have to remember them. She was your best friend!”

Because of the impaired declarative memory, people with Alzheimer’s are often not able to remember names or faces of people they have known most of their lives. Trying to convince them otherwise is not going to help. We have to understand what they are dealing with; there are parts of their memory that are simply gone.

….To keep the ones we love in our life, it is important to understand that occasional fleeting moments of recognition or remembrance are causes for celebration, not despair. Rather than constantly mourning the loss of the person we knew and loved, we must learn to appreciate these brief encounters, these moments of connection.

We must learn to see them as little gifts that flash brightly and leave just as suddenly as they come. If we can learn to enjoy this flash of connection, these little moments, we can have the people we love in our lives again, not, of course, as we used to have them in our lives, but still with us, one brief moment at a time. These moments of recognition, of connection, are like little jewels that are strung on the necklace of time.”

Written By Karen Brenner – September 14, 2011

Karen Brenner has worked in the field of education for 30 years as a teacher and administrator. She co-founded Montessori schools in the Chicago area, one of which specializes in the education of children who are deaf or communication disordered. She is co-founder with her husband Tom of the consulting and educational company, Brenner Pathways. Tom Brenner holds an MA in Gerontology and has been working as a trainer, writer and consultant in the field of aging for many years. Together, they employ the Montessori Method of sensorial learning with elderly group home care of dementia and Alzheimers residents.


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I have been totally self-absorbed in reading and learning and s t r e  t c h i n g   my consciousness so much that exactly what I want to write about is quite a calligraphy in my mind and heart, but you shall receive it as it forms its expression in the quiet within and finds its highway onto Napkinwriter.

It surely is about heart — yours and mine. It definitely is about our phiosology and our spirituality all adding up to our individual I AM. It is about your I Am and my I AM being part and parcel of ALL THAT IS. And it is about belief giving way to knowing (even sacred beliefs), so much so that I no longer can say I believe,……but rather, “I KNOW.”

Last week Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, “Stroke of Insight” arrived, and oh, how I stold moments of the day to put both my nose and my eyes into that book. It was on my wish list long before I was able to purchase it.

I want to get in my car, drive down to Bloomington, Indiana and find this woman and give her one big bear hug. For WHO she is. For the courage and determination she brought to her recovery….and FOR the true insights  she offered us readers and listeners that came to her after her stroke. 

I will be writing several themes just from this book alone in the near future.

Today, because Valentine’s Day skipped by me as a writer, (but not as a celebrator of love), I am offering  a guest writing from HeartMath Institute, another source of incredible learning and path-sorting for me.

Both HeartMath Institute and Dr. Jill know HOW SMART our hearts and our brains are and how, if we could only listen closely enough to them….we would discover that…

 peace is a natural STARTING PLACE for our body to be……not an end goal that many of us put great effort into achieving. 

I was not gifted in the appitude for Science in school, nor later on in my life, so the scientific language and disclosures are still challenging for me from both these sources. Yet the exciting thing to me is conclusions in the sciences of physiology are coming up with confirming many of the spiritual beliefs I hold are truth.

So here, from the Institute of HeartMath’s Connecting Hearts & Minds Newsletter, written by Sara Childre, President:

Dear Susan,

That first moment of recognition, when we know that fondness has turned to love, is an occasion for celebration! We have found someone who can make us laugh, bring us a joyful tear, sustain us through life’s trials and accept us for who we are. This recognition of love brings a deep contentment and knowingness that something precious has been stored deep within our heart.

Some of us have had this experience more than once in our lives, while many are hoping it will come and wonder when or how to find it. In my experience, we don’t have to wait for that magic to happen; we can learn to cultivate it in our current relationships, and as we do, we draw more fulfilling love to us.

It starts with considering the qualities we value most in friendship. Perhaps you feel a special friendship or love flourishes because you and the other are always willing to accept each other as he or she is. Or maybe it’s the person’s kindness, compassion or forgiveness toward you and others. Or do you attribute a lasting relationship to honest, open and respectful communication? All of these qualities contribute to the foundation of true love and friendship. They are qualities of the heart.

February is Heart Month and Valentine’s Day celebrates the heart, love and friendship. There are myriad magazine articles and books that offer advice for cultivating true love. What if we add a little science to the mix, research that could perhaps help us cultivate the love we want to experience? The Electricity of TouchResearch at the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) has found that the heart literally can make sparks fly between people. When two people are in resonance, there is a powerful transfer of energy produced by the heart. In fact, the heart generates the strongest electromagnetic field in the body, about 100 times stronger in amplitude than the magnetic field generated by the brain. Maybe this is why our heart speaks louder than our thoughts at times.

Think of the heart as a radio station, broadcasting a pattern of information on a radio wave through its electromagnetic field. That pattern changes based on what we are feeling. The pattern that’s broadcasted through the heart’s electromagnetic field can be detected (measured) in another person’s brainwaves, when two people are touching or in close proximity. In other words, we are always transferring nonverbal emotional information to each other. This research gives scientific meaning to sayings like, “You could feel the electricity between them,” or “It felt like a current running through me,” or “You could cut the tension in that room with a knife,” or “I could just feel his vibes.”

Additional scientific findings like this, which reveal the extraordinary mysteries of the heart, are summarized in IHM’s “Mysteries of the Heart” video that can be viewed on their YouTube page at http://youtu.be/Kyfm5_LLxow. What are you Broadcasting Today?According to IHM Research Director Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., “A handshake, a hug, a pat on the back to a teammate – these interactions help us communicate and perhaps say more than what meets the eye.” So we need to ask ourselves, “What are we broadcasting?”

To cultivate love, it’s important to take pause and consider what emotions we are broadcasting to other people and into our environment. Or as we often say at HeartMath, “What are you feeding the field right now or today?”

The nature of true love is care, kindness and other heart-felt emotions that create resonance. By focusing on and broadcasting these heart feelings, we create a deeper connection with others.

So for Valentine’s Day and February Heart Month, let’s celebrate this heart research and take our love gestures a step further than just flowers or candy. Let’s focus on what our heart is broadcasting to our loved ones and into the field environment. Perhaps we can ask ourselves each day, “What am I feeding the field?”      

To share these important and but not often known understandings of the heart, the Institute of HeartMath is conducting a research campaign this month and giving away one of its best-selling electronic books, The Energetic Heart. The book explains the transfer of energy between people and how we can enhance our resonance with each other. To celebrate HeartMath’s understandings of the heart during Heart Month and to download the free book, go to http://on.fb.me/explore-IHM


The NapkinwriterI likes the image of tending her heart as a garden and she looks forward to putting a small garden in the backyard of her new home, once spring comes.

So even though February is a short month, I see it as a good time to start “checking over the soil” of my heart and having it be just-right ready to live in this world as a presence of peace and an extender of love to my neighbor and where ever I am called to share it.


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