Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Football, Concussions, and Kundalini

By all accounts, the incidence of concussion at all levels of the game of football is steadily rising and the leagues, from Pop Warner to the NFL, don't know what to do about it. On the one hand, they are looking for technical solutions, i.e., better helmet technology, better equipment. On the other, stiffer penalties for hits incurring concussions, improved protocols for identifying and managing concussions and their effects.

However, from week to week, there seems to be about the same number of players disabled by concussions, usually by players who launch themselves through space at high speed to collide with the victims at angles that snap the neck and rattle the brains, at the same time. However, there doesn't seem to be one type of hit alone that causes a concussion; in some cases, concussions occur without a direct hit to the head, by a severe snap of the neck, for instance.

The fact that the helmets are constructed of nose-cone, hard plastic means that the G-force of impact is compounded by the hardness of the helmet casing. The critical factors in inducing a concussion seem to be: the angle of the hit, the hardness of the helmet, and speed and G-force of the incoming player. The fact that the hittee also wears a helmet in no way mitigates the impact or the damage to his neural network.

The brain's moving on impact is not the only factor involved. The whole spinal column, from coccyx to the brain, is connected in one long neural network. I know because I was blindsided in high school football, lifted off my feet and deposited on my butt, which dropped from a height of four feet to the ground. Not only did I see a shower of stars, I felt a searing pain from the base of the spine all the way up to my brain. I was temporarily incapacitated — and no hit to the brain was involved. How much harder are the hits in the NFL than the hit I incurred that day? 40:1? 100:1? And we were wearing leather helmets, not the plastic warheads today's players wear. I didn't ever feel the primary impact to my ribs; landing on my coccyx, a secondary effect, caused the neural disruption and total whiteout.

Our own school lies in a valley...
An array of  leather helmets, the fashion of the '40s
What do football concussions have to do with Kundalini? If it affects the brain, then it concerns Kundalini, a phenomenon devoted to revitalizing brain cells, not destroying them. I have no evidence that Kundalini could assuage the effects of concussion. As far as I know, no studies have been done. But I do wonder if it might not be effective. After all, that's its whole purpose: restore and reinvigorate the neural network. Here's a passage from my book, The Biology of Consciousness, citing the case study of an athlete who activated Kundalini. In this passage, he is talking with his yoga teacher:
"He asked me if I’d ever had a concussion while playing a sport. To my recollection, I never had, but there were times I felt groggy after a hard hit. He told me that the objective of certain yogic practices was to revitalize damaged brain cells, that the changes in metabolism produced during these exercises actually had neurological benefits.
 “'Do you mean that certain forms of yoga could actually cure my depression and headaches?' I asked.
“'I am not a doctor or scientist, but I have witnessed the benefits of yoga in my own practice. The reason I studied yoga was because of the head wounds suffered in wartime. Fortunately, I was young enough when I began to practice for it to revitalize me.'” 
I'm not saying Kundalini could counteract concussion effects, I don't know if it could.

Number one, I'd go back to using leather helmets; two, I'd investigate Kundalini meditation, which were it to be adopted, would probably solve the problem in that anyone raising Kundalini would lose interest in football altogether and move onto other pursuits.

7 comments:

  1. JJ,

    I too played football in high school, from 1969 - 1973. I have the scars to prove it. A damaged neck vertebra, a shoulder that needed surgery, and a number of heavy impacts while tackling, added up over the years.

    In 1973 I both graduated from high school after playing my 4th year of tackle football, and underwent nirvikalpa in the Fall as a freshman in college . Shortly after the nirvikalpa I dropped out of school, or into life depending on your perspective, and spent time adjusting to my rapidly transforming nervous system. I found that my attitude toward football changed, that I opposed it because of its inherent violence.

    As the NFL has taken up the issue of concussions, and actually has changed the game as a result, I have softened my opposition a bit . It is certainly true that repeated head to head impacts on young brains can't be good. Today, the NFL doesn't allow direct hits on helmets in most conditions, and it is good to see.

    From my own experience, it is true I think that the flow of prana up the spine and into the brain must help the brain clear dead nerve cells, heal the meninges, and cause the creation of new synapses. One of the hallmarks of the kundalini transformation is the birth of new ideas and perceptions, of creative ferment. This growth must happen around, over, under, and through any blocked neurological channels caused by trauma.

    These blockages surely can occur from physical damage, but emotional trauma can also create blockages, and kundalini will pass through these blocks as well. An awakened kundalini will increase the flow of prana in the body and result in an increase in regenerative powers. This generalized healing effect surely will benefit those who have suffered concussions.

    Neil

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    1. I agree... But I'm skeptical about the NFL's role. If the conclusions of League of Denial are accurate, then the NFL hasn't done as much as they say they have or as much as the public thinks. in any case, the numbers are not decreasing.

      Take a look at Concussion Watch. It tracks the concussions in the NFL by position. So far this year (through Week 13) there have been 114, and counting. In 2012, there were 171 concussions in 17 weeks, that's a hair over 10 per week...

      Which positions suffer the most concussions? According to Concussion Watch, the fast moving players, the ones that administer and receive the high-speed hits (in order of frequency): cornerbacks, wide receivers, safetys, linebackers, tight ends, running backs. The more sedentary defensive and offensive linemen suffer fewer concussions.

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  2. New article on ESPN.com:
    Hits to the head still prevalent in NFL

    "Almost once a game, an NFL player absorbs an illegal blow to the head or neck that could put his career -- or worse -- at risk."

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  3. They must increase the penalties until this stops.

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  4. Penalties are levied after the blow is absorbed; it's already too late. Something must be done to prevent these types of hits from occurring. How that might happen is difficult to foresee.

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  5. From "Concussion Watch"
    "Concussions are rarely a 'one and done' injury in the NFL, a point that was underscored in Week 14 of the 2013 season. Head injuries sidelined 11 players — four of whom entered the week already having dealt with concussions a combined 19 times before.

    "For Chris Prosinski of the Jaguars, the Week 14 concussion was his second since training camp in August. The Broncos’ Wes Welker suffered his second in just three weeks. The Vikings’ John Carlson was knocked out by his fifth head injury since college, while Brandon Stokely of the Ravens went down with the 14th concussion of his football career.

    "In all, NFL teams have reported 114 concussions this season."

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  6. PS. First person to find JJ Semple in the picture receives a free Life Force Books ePub

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