Healing Epilepsy with Meditation
I was diagnosed with childhood epilepsy (grand mal seizures) at 7, and that continued throughout my childhood until I was 11. I was then re-diagnosed at 15, during puberty, with a different type of seizure called “absent seizures,” a kind of seizure where I was still conscious.

I have always been fairly detached from the label of “epileptic” because as a child I was unconscious during seizures. Most of the experience was through the eyes of my parents, family, and friends. Twenty years ago when I was first diagnosed, the prevailing stigmatization and the limited technology of the available anticonvulsant medications were more the challenge. When I was 7, my parents were told that I would have learning difficulties and never be able to have children—the medication was a foreign and potent substance and I was fearful of the long-term side effects.

Hiding from being “different”

When I was re-diagnosed as a teenager, I began to hide my condition. It was a very intimate part of me. I would ignore the seizures or would apologize for having them. I put up a mask of strength, control, and independence. I couldn’t communicate how I felt because I truly didn’t understand this part of myself entirely. I adapted and compensated, not wanting to be “different” from others or perceived as a victim.

As I grew older, I worked out that I was triggered by stress and sleep deprivation. I discovered the power to regulate my own body and that my mind was a huge contributor to stress. I began to ask questions. Who am I? How can I be the best version of myself? I knew that there was more to this existence than this label and that was something that I wanted to discover and enter into a deeper journey of who I was.

A Yearning for More

I had an inner yearning and motivation to remove myself from my day-to-day life. I knew stress was a construct, it wasn’t real; it was a creation of my mind. So, I decided to go to travelling. India, in my eyes, was a multi-dimensional challenge and an opportunity to face myself completely. I had an intuition that there I would find this “moreness” that I was seeking.

After India, my travels led me to Mexico, where I found Hridaya Yoga. I followed my heart and found an inner spiritual revelation that was stronger than any physical or egotic limitations I had on myself at the time. The language and techniques of Hridaya resonated so deeply within me.

Healing Epilepsy with Meditation

When I entered my first meditation retreat January 2013, I decided to take myself off medication. It was the most natural feeling in the world. I recognized how “foggy” and clouded the medication had made me. I could almost feel in my physical brain that there wasn’t that disconnect anymore; that this condition wasn’t a label of abnormality.

As I continued with my meditation practice, there was a direct causative effect, i.e. the consistency of not having seizures. The awareness of the physical, emotional, and intellectual bodies was expanding and purifying. The Hridaya Teacher Training course in 2013 was truly a deeper journey into dissolving the ego. I witnessed “Tamara” and the insights into who I became because of this condition revealed themselves. I discovered the many attachments I had around epilepsy. I noticed the Western limitations that had certainly shaped the ego and the decisions I made consciously and unconsciously at a young age. I had formed a lot of who I was without consciously knowing it. Ultimately, there was a shift of perception and I could witness this part of me with light and sacredness.

Clearing the Label

When I came back to Australia after the HTTC, I returned to my neurologist with the intention of clearing the “label” on my medical history. My neurologist was dumbfounded. He reported that although he could not provide the “evidence” that meditation cures epilepsy, he did support my decision to stay off medication. He reported that if I have another EEG (measuring brainwave activity) it will more than likely demonstrate abnormal brainwave activity. Basically, now I just have a lower threshold to trigger a seizure. It doesn’t really change anything, it just is…

The Moral of the Story

The openness of the heart is within us all. We limit ourselves with labels of who we “think” we are. I revealed within myself that this condition/illness is a gift, an opportunity to let go and rest in our True Nature, the Spiritual Heart.

I am teaching and sharing the teachings of Hridaya Yoga in Newcastle, Australia. This journey is about revealing the radiance of our being and understanding that we are all expressions of divine consciousness, of unconditional love.

–By Tamara Coughlan

Tamara teaches Hridaya Hatha Yoga and Meditation in Newcastle, Australia.
Website: www.tamaracoughlan.com  & facebook.com/yogaheartspace

6 replies
  1. Liz Gaston says:

    Hi Tamara,

    My threshold for seizures is also quite low, but I’m gradually working towards being medication free by meditating and doing yoga daily. I eat a very nutritious diet too, entirely void of sugar, gluten, corn, and soy. I meditated so much over the past few days that I have been having more seizures, but I have a positive mindset. I’m learning deep truths about myself and my feelings towards others. Every day my heart is becoming more full. I’m so thankful you shared your story because this is what I needed this morning.

    Peace and love, Liz

    Reply
    • Tamara Coughlan says:

      Thank you for sharing Liz.
      I too, am incredibly grateful to hear that my story is also deeply universal and that we are all just walking each other home, back into the Heart. Feel the intimacy of what is arising, the Stillness will hold you ever so gently.
      All my Love, Tamara x

      Reply
  2. Rashmi says:

    Hi Tamara..my daughter who is 8 now have grandmal seziures..it started when she was 6. She was under medcation for 2 years and she got side effects of learning disabilities and ADHD. Meanwhile we learnt about naturopaty cure for epilepsy and got her three shots of medicines which was prepared by herbs..we also started with yoga and meditaion practise..Her eeg showed no activity but she had couple of seziures recently and she is off medication now and showing good improvement..She has started yoga practise..please advise if it gets cured completely by yoga meditation

    Reply
    • Tamara Coughlan says:

      Hello Rashmi. Thank you so much for sharing what is going on for your daughter. It sound like the benefits of yoga and meditation are occurring naturally. I can’t say that it gets completely cured, i personally didn’t begin meditation and yoga to “fix” this part of me, i felt that it was about staying open and curious to what is occurring and arising. Your daughter is very lucky that you are supporting her. Please email me if you would like to share anymore. All my love, Tamara

      Reply
  3. Nate Thomas says:

    Hello Tamara,
    My name is Nate and I am 27 years old from America (we aren’t all how we are portrayed on TV, I promise!). As I read your story my jaw hit the floor. I started having seizures in 4th grade (grand mal) and was put on medication. I know very well those emotions and feelings that you explain from your childhood and growing up, especially when you talk about just putting on a mask, that really resonated with me. For me I struggled with feeling like I always had something to prove whether that is to myself or doctors, friends, parents, the world, whatever and at times it did drive me to accomplish things I did not think I could do prior to embarking on them so mentally I began to use it as a tool. I have trekked a path that is startlingly similar to yours and I just want to thank you for sharing your feelings and opening up to help others. I took the wrong path through school in hindsight (choosing a degree for money and not happiness) and did not become aware of my true spirituality until I met a girl in college who introduced me to yoga and meditation. However she went to India and I got a corporate job to make the big bucks (please share a laugh along with me!). Stress, lack of sleep, and a crappy diet piled up but then so did the seizures. At age 25 I went through a medicine change and the mental and emotional changes are very strange and that was the worst experience I have ever had. I have picked back up meditation and yoga but at my own pace and I simply go off what my what my body and mind are telling me, which I’m not sure is the way to go about this if I am to go about weaning myself off of my medication. It looks like the last comment was in 2016 on this thread so I hope you are still checking it! I would love to chat and give you my full story because I have left some things out and also discuss a possible trip to Australia to learn Hridaya. I’m not sure if you would even be willing to discuss that possibility with me or help me on this journey. I understand that the journey IS where you gain the perspective in all of this, but it would be pleasant to have a teacher who understands what I have been through. Fun fact: I recently saw fellow Aussie Tash Sultana in Kansas City and she was amazing!

    One Love,
    Nate Thomas

    Reply

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