We are giving away a copy of Awakening the Brain: The Neuropsychology of Grace, by Dr. Charlotte A. Tomaino. Check out this interview with the author, and then leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy of this book!
A Conversation with Charlotte Tomaino, Ph.D. (Q&A)
Q. Awakening the Brain… what is it all about?
Awakening the Brain is all about how to be awake to acting rather than reacting. The brains resources are easily captured by the external world, shaping our thoughts, emotions, words and actions. When you understand the power of neuroplasticity available for you to train your own brain, new tools to weather life’s storms will help you realize that the true power is within you. Focusing on your heart’s desire enables you to live from authenticity, meaning and purpose.
It is your own ability to stay focused on your heart’s desire, coming from that deep zone inside you that shapes your experience and impact in the world because when your brain changes, your life changes.
Q. Why did you go into neuropsychology?
In my first career as a nun I had rich and formative spiritual experiences but had few words or concepts to understand them. I was young and studying psychology seemed like a way to better make sense of my own experience and share what I had learned with others.
The field of neuropsychology had just begun in the 70’s and seemed like a hopeful message. Discovering how our brains work and what promotes the positive and fulfilling aspects of human experience was what I wanted. As I learned about neuropsychology, the feeling of KNOWING this was right for me returned in my body’s compass and that is what I follow.
Developing a model of treatment for brain rehabilitation is the applied brain science I practice. Teaching people how to understand their experience and make the neurochoices that will enhance their brain, allowing them to fulfill their purpose is what I offer as people are inventing or reinventing themselves.
Q. Tell me about your career.
I am a Neuropsychologist. My clinical practice focuses on brain rehabilitation. People have come with brain injuries, processing limitations they were born with and questions because they desire expansion in the use of their brain.
The services I offer have to do with identifying the cognitive style of a person’s brain to describe their strengths and weaknesses, therapies for improving skills, managing stress and regulating emotion. Along the way they get a crash course in Neuropsychology learning about how their brain works. Those that have some form of belief to sustain them seem to do the best.
Those that believe in something bigger than themselves are calmed and soothed by that understanding. They are less reactive and more proactive. They are focused on their potential, not their past and that stability sustains their efforts to recover. Then they can access the power of neuroplasticity to become more than their present condition.
Q. How is the brain affected by belief?
When we believe in something it is usually because there is something desired but not yet achieved. We believe in that which is beyond our daily reality. When we believe something is possible we actively live in a way where we expect an outcome. Belief is a very dynamic function in the brain enabling us to keep a vision in mind and have it be so real to us cognitively, emotionally and physically, we actually make it happen. The power of belief to activate neuroplasticity comes from within us.
Just like the athlete continues to play and practice each day to become good at the game, the brain is being trained to expand in all of us because within us we have the resource of belief in our ability not yet achieved.
Q. Can you give some examples of how belief enables us to do things we never thought possible?
There are lots of examples of the power of belief in the world and in my office every day. In Awakening the Brain I talk about people who have come for therapy many years after an injury with no clear belief they will ever improve. They might initially be brought by their family, but once they understand how the brain works and see others who have achieved what they did not think possible for them, they begin to develop a vision they can believe in.
This is happening all the time with our children in school who persist over the years because some teacher showed them the way and believed in them. Belief is that elusive power within us that keeps us going against odds to regain health when lost, master a sport or musical instrument, write a book or become President of the United States.
Q. What would you like your readers to gain by reading “Awakening the Brain”?
The single most important concept I am offering in “Awakening the Brain” is that when you are awake to how your brain works and how you can influence its functioning, you are in control of your life. When you listen to your deepest self and create meaning from your heart’s desire you have decided on what is important to you. Then, when you realize emotions are information that is there to guide you to your heart’s desire, new choices are available for your actions. When sensations in your body become meaningful, you have a compass that is reading events and informing you.
The 90’s was the decade of the brain when we first started to learn what it does. Now we can apply what we have learned to expand what is possible. Neuropsychology is the field of applied brain science. Taking what we know and being able to live being aware and awake to life’s possibilities is what I want.
Charlotte Tomaino is a clinical neuropsychologist with 30 years of experience. Dr. Tomaino is dedicated to helping patients develop practical solutions for the traumatic loss of brain function. As she worked with patients over time, Tomaino began to witness the power of the human spirit to overcome the seemingly impossible and was inspired to focus her career on the effects of thought and spirituality on the brain. She is a full-time clinician in private practice in White Plains, New York.
Excerpted from the book Awakening the Brain: The Neuropsychology of Grace © 2012 by Dr. Charlotte A. Tomaino. Printed with permission from Atria Books/Beyond Words.
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