I was resting in bed around 10:30 AM. I had arisen at 06:30, ate breakfast and performed a few communication and organization chores using my personal computer.

As happens more often in the last few years, I need to take a brief rest from the many tasks I continue to assign to myself, from the increasing tension in trying to comprehend them all and to assign priorities. I imagine this approximates a meditation, with an eye mask on and hearing aids out.

Random thoughts, almost dreams appear. I am not asleep but not awake.

After around thirty minutes the word ‘metanoia’ appeared to me, not visually, but as a soundless spoken word, but the spelling was clear.

The unexpected appearance of a word I can’t remember ever using felt important enough to arise and look for a definition, using the iPhone lying nearby. From Wikipedia:

An Ancient Greek word (μετάνοια) meaning “changing one’s mind”, may refer to:

I don’t feel the need for repentance, nor am I consciously employing rhetoric. Therefore, the ‘psychological’ definition seems the aptest.

I haven’t had a ‘breakdown,’ but I have experienced a significant event, about which I have written here:

Blanking out for Thirty Minutes, as Gurdjieff’s “Robot” Takes Over

Due to this event, I have experienced a loss of confidence in certain of my abilities and powers. I intend to regain confidence in them, if possible, and in any case, it is in my nature to at least try.

What loss?

Memory. Along with others who are aging, it grows more difficult to remember even simple words, names, or places when pressed to do so. I say, and others have said, this is due to having already stored so much information it’s ever harder to recall any given datum from the mass of data stored in various organs of the brain and nervous system.

The problem I now have is: is the current memory lapse due to this ordinary reason, or has it to do with the incident of my memory loss of 30+ minutes a few days ago? Probably it’s ordinary, but I cannot be sure. In other words, have I lost something vital? Am I deteriorating?

Balance. People get dizzy occasionally, due to dehydration, conflicting visual and/or aural clues, and transient internal processes. But now I wonder, is any dizziness I may experience ordinary, or due to deteriorating physical abilities?

Rational faculties: I am a highly rational person. I have called my brain my sword and my shield. (To be sure, I have emotions also, but they need to be strong to overcome my rationality; e.g., love, fear.) If my rational faculties are deteriorating, how can I live my life in confidence; that is, without fear, and with reasonable certainty, I am contributing sufficiently to justify my existence?

I suppose, taking this last question as an indicator, I may be in a ‘breakdown,’ but I don’t feel that way. I feel unsteady, uncertain, too much aware of my every neurological / psychological / physical process.

How to deal with this?

I thought of learning a meditative discipline to reach a state of equanimity in whatever circumstance I may find myself. (I contacted the Tara Kadampa Buddhist Center in Stockholm and may visit their regular Sunday meditation.)

I thought of talking with a friend who recently has had a series of fainting spells. Perhaps we could form our own support group? I perceive she and I as having similar characteristics: interested in many things; driven to accomplishment; sometimes impatient and overloaded.

We’ll meet in a few days to be good to each other and ourselves. I have confidence there will be a good outcome.

But… I haven’t examined how it is the word ‘metanoia’ came to me, unbidden, unsought.

Carl G. Jung

I can’t help but invoke the spirit of Carl Jung at this point. My sub-conscious reached out to me, that is, to my conscious self, during the quasi-dream state I was in.

I have read and written much about Carl Jung. I feel I know him, almost as an acquaintance. He advocated ‘integration’ of the conscious and the sub-conscious to reach ‘individuation’—to be more oneself.

Was my sub-conscious reaching out, or was my conscious reaching in, to alert me to the opportunity to learn and grow from this unsettling experience?

I’ll ask my friend what she thinks.

Her response:

I think, right now, we have to accept we do not have control over what our brain does. I guess no-one really does. We like to think we are in control, we are rational human beings, interested in so many things that go on around us. We can control to a certain extent how healthy we are by eating well and exercising. But our brain? It goes its own way. My main change after the first black-out was that I became unable to deal with difficult situations, particularly emotionally difficult ones. It was odd, because I have always been very strong in that area. But I was skating around difficult issues, avoiding them, I just couldn’t deal. This did get better after a few months.

I often find myself taking a nap around 2 or 3 pm and have begun to love it. I literally snuggle up in the sofa with a podcast in my ear and just enjoy. There HAVE to be some good parts to growing older …

Please don’t tire your brain too much by worrying about what’s what. Perhaps we need to tread the path of acceptance gracefully.

Thanks, friend.

About Ron Pavellas

Expatriate American living in Sweden with wife. Retired from employment in the USA. Currently focused on blog articles, memoirs, and creative writing.
This entry was posted in Consciousness, Philosophy & Psychology, The Mind, The Self and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Metanoia

  1. Walter G. Molander says:

    Hi Ron,
    it’s nice to read about your thoughts in regards of last month’s joined experiences. There is no doubt in my mind about your science comprehension to pin point the origin and evolution of a “black-out” experience. After reading your well described argument I end up exhausted and only the words of your friend gave back to me the calm I needed to establish again my so desired balance; she said:
    …Please don’t tire your brain too much by worrying about what’s what. Perhaps we need to tread the path of acceptance gracefully. –
    Have a great time and I like to wish you what we so commonly often say: take it easy !!


    • Ron Pavellas says:

      So good to hear from you, Walter. We sailed a rough sea together for a few hours, so we are truly shipmates on life’s journey.

      I agree that Anke’s words should be heeded. I don’t remember if I mentioned before in the thread of the blog article, but I recently (before the incident) recalled for no apparent reason the words of my dear, departed Uncle Harry: “Take it easy.”

      Are you up for a visit, sometime before July 14, after which my wife’s official vacation begins?

      Best wishes,


  2. Both of my parents have reached the age where they are experiencing memory issues. This is more concerning to my father since, like you, he has spent his life as an intellectual. Along with his brother getting Alzheimer’s, worries about declining mental function is one of the motivations he has for changing his diet. Neurocognitive functioning has a lot to do with nutrition and such. The effects of diet are cumulative and so can take many decades to show up, sometimes not experienced until middle or older age.

    The delay between cause and effect can make it difficult to determine what is going on. But a way of trying to figure it out is simply by experimenting with changes and finding out what happens. Sometimes results can be dramatic, even for brain health. MCT oil, for example, is easily processed and creates the most optimal fuel for the brain. Many people notice an immediate improvement, especially when there are issues with insulin and the body is no longer processing glucose as well as it used to. Ketones can be made from MCT oil and offer an alternative source of energy.

    I recently summarized what I’ve so far learned about a healthy diet, in case you’re interested:

    Liked by 1 person

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