When you are told that a treatment is powerful, that it’s revolutionary and that it has helped hundreds of people around the world get their lives back, it’s not surprising to be a little skeptical. How can someone have magically come up with a cure for Fibromyalgia that my GP hasn’t heard of?
I was given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.
Ashok Gupta claims exactly this with his Interactive DVD Home Study Course & Webinar Coaching Series which has been designed to help people recover from illnesses such as ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Electrical Sensitivity and Associated Conditions which he believes stem from the Amygdala.
I spent the first 4 months of 2017 participating in this training course, watching the DVDs, reading the copious amounts of printed material and attending the weekly webinars and have found it incredibly useful.
The Gupta Amygdala Retraining Background
After a debilitating post viral infection, ME/CFS derailed Ashok’s college career back in the 1990’s and since then he has dedicated his life to finding a treatment for ME/CFS and related unexplained illnesses.
Over time, he became convinced that ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia are in fact very real physical illnesses, which most likely involve genetic risk factors and initiation by neurological/physical stressors. He also believes that in many patients the amygdala (one of two almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain) has become stuck in a panic mode so that it constantly magnifies signals from the body. In turn, the amygdala responds by keeping the stress response, chemical, and immune systems ramped up; sustaining a complex, vicious cycle of physiological dysfunction and physical symptoms.
His own recovery, along with many other patients over the past 10 years is credited to a combination of the amygdala retraining techniques, and changes to the vicious cycle. These self-help techniques are derived from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – and include techniques such as meditation, breathing, awareness and so on.
What Do You Get With The Course?
Quite simply, a hell of a lot. You receive a package in the post with your workbook, DVDs and a massive interactive mat. You are also signed up to participate in weekly webinar sessions, given access to a Facebook Group specifically for ‘brain retrainers’ and you also have the option to download a meditation app onto your mobile device.
I will be honest here, there is a lot of material to read through and it can be very overwhelming when you first get started. I must admit that until I had attended the first webinar I was really worried about not being able to manage the commitment that seemed to be required for the programme; I had no idea how I would fit all the reading and watching. However, once I had attended the first webinar, things made a lot more sense and I started to treat the items more as supplementary to the webinars and tools I could delve into once the 12 weeks were completed.
The webinars were billed as an update to the DVDs, but I felt they were an addition. It was great to be involved in a live session, hear other people’s questions and input and have a chance to find out more about advances in the research or changes to the programme. It offered a chance to take part in visualisation and meditation exercises as a group and I felt more connected to Ashok and the other people taking part in the retraining. I came away from each of the sessions with a load of notes and optional ‘fun’ work to complete. We were always sent an email with a summary of the session and links to any further information or materials needed to be completed.
While I found the webinars the most useful part of the whole programme, I also found the length of time it took to sort technical issues and to ensure everyone could hear and see the training very frustrating. Often 20 minutes had passed before the actual session started and this became quite stressful at times.
When I opened the parcel with The Gupta Amygdala Retraining materials inside, I was very confused by the very large mat that was provided – well I actually thought it was a poster, to begin with. However, once I found out what it was for, I thought the idea was fantastic and really allowed for a kinaesthetic approach to the techniques taught in the programme. I won’t go into too much detail about the techniques here, but let’s just say it allowed me to follow the steps within the technique with ease, and it removed that worry about forgetting what to do next.
The DVD programme contains 14 interactive video sessions and 2 audio CDs which contain all of the tools and techniques talked about in the webinars. Ashok created the webinars as an update to the DVDs and so some of the content is very similar, but it is also very informative. I particularly liked watching the webinar and then watching the equivalent video on the DVDs. It was nice to have ‘alone time’ with Ashok to concentrate and absorb the information without the distractions of other attendees like with the webinars. The other great thing about the DVDs is that it is a physical resource that I have on hand whenever I need to revisit the techniques.
The audio CDs are also a great resource to have as they contain a number of guided meditations which can be played as and when needed.
When I saw the thickness of the workbook I was initially very concerned about what I had signed up for. The books are text heavy and incredibly overwhelming. As it turns out the workbooks are very much supplementary and are effectively a script of the DVDs. Once I realised this, the workbook has become a key part of my retraining, my notebook in effect – it’s heavily annotated with points I have picked up from the webinars and key takeaways from the DVDs are highlighted. As with the DVD programme, the workbook is an incredibly useful resource to have at hand and something I have referred back to a number of times since completing the 12-week course.
The Facebook group is for those people enrolled on the programme only and is exclusively focussed on discussing the techniques and recovery enjoyed through the programme. It has been a great resource and allowed people to talk with each other, share experiences and get advice. The moderator Jess was always on hand with help and advice and to keep the conversations on point. In addition, she provided summaries of the live webinar content and additional resources Ashok mentioned or wanted us to make use of.
The Meaning of Life Experiment app is invaluable. Although not specifically for The Gupta Amygdala Retraining, and available for anyone to download for free, it was a key tool in the programme and one I found incredibly useful. Despite a few bugs and the app freezing from time to time, I really enjoyed the guided meditations, the option of having longer or shorter meditation sessions and the video content Ashok had provided. There is the ability to log your progress, journal and generally be mindful about your meditation practice. It made the daily meditation practice easier and gave you different types of meditation depending on your mood or the requirements of the programme. I have continued to use this daily to ensure I keep up my meditation practice now the course has finished.
You get a lot with The Gupta Amygdala Retraining. Lots to read, lots to watch, lots to listen to. You also get loads of support, advice, and encouragement. All of the techniques make sense and are straightforward to participate in. There is no requirement to complete anything and everything can be done at your pace. Plus when the 12 weeks end, that isn’t the end of it. You still have the facebook group, the app and all of the video, audio, and printed material to make use of.
You get a lot with The Gupta Amygdala Retraining. It can be very overwhelming. There needs to be clearer information from the beginning about what is and isn’t required and how much you have to use the resources you are provided with. Once you are finally told that the webinars are the main and most important element and everything else is supplementary the whole programme all starts to make sense. That information really needs to be provided from the very beginning to reduce the anxiety and stress when someone who has reached out and taken this step towards recovery will feel when presented with all of the information.
Am I cured? No. But do I feel that I am coping better with life, reducing some symptoms of my fibromyalgia and feeling in control somewhat more? Most definitely, YES. The techniques taught through this programme are excellent and really useful in coping with my condition, they are also easy to integrate into daily life and easy to follow once you have fully understood them. Of course, they will need to be consistently practiced going forward but I do feel like I have a very useful toolkit now that I can access whenever I need to help me cope with and live with my condition and make improvements to my day-to-day life.
If you are interested in finding out more about Ashok and his programme, he offers a free video introductory course which you can sign up for on the Gupta Programme website.