Book focuses on heart-mind connection

Dr Laurie Rauch’s Keeping Calm.

Constantia neurobiologist Dr Laurie Rauch has self-published a book to share what he learned on his 20-year journey to recovery after being knocked off his bike by a drunken container-truck driver.

He sustained traumatic brain injuries, a broken neck and his right leg was amputated above the knee.

Dr Rauch had been training for the SA Triathlon Championships at the time.

The 54-year-old husband and father of a 13-year-old girl is an adjunct lecturer in the UCT department of human biology and specialises in exercise and sports medicine.

Dr Rauch says the book Keeping Calm and subtitled “How to master your brain reward system to optimise your health, wellbeing and performance” gives new insight into the heart-mind connection and supports holistic solutions to managing stress and living in a post-Covid economy.

Dr Rauch says that as a scientist the head/heart hypothesis seemed strange to him at first.

“However, having applied that science to my own healing, I see that humans are built to operate optimally only when we align our heads with our hearts.”

The book shows how and why this combination between heart and head is crucial for mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Dr Rauch believes the biggest challenge facing society today is the way to balance what is in and on our hearts regarding the output-focused and instant-gratification agenda we pursue.

It was during his long, arduous journey of mental and physical recovery, he says, that he understood the critical brain-heart connection and how vital it is to stay composed, or in the zone, when facing a challenge or competitor.

“This is particularly useful in stress management and teaching children and adolescents holistic coping mechanisms. This allows them to fully integrate their cognitive and emotional faculties to keep them working towards what is rewarding rather than getting caught out chasing the short-term instant gratification benefit.”

In recent years, Dr Rauch has shared his experiences and academic findings with audiences around the world. He has focused on sporting experiences from his triathlon, cycling, rugby and rock climbing days.

“I established the Calm Foundation in September 2018 with my business partner, Dr Colin Habberton, after funding for my position at UCT ran out,” he says.

The Calm Foundation is a network of experts and practitioners who see value in incorporating the art of keeping calm to aid wellbeing and performance within their own practices.

The book’s foreword is written by Professor Tim Noakes, who describes the book as “one of the most interesting and captivating autobiographies that I have ever read”.

Professor Noakes says: “What I observed during those years after the accident was remarkable, as Laurie realised that all his knowledge of exercise metabolism had been of little practical value to him during his recovery. What he needed to understand was how he could regain his ability to walk, and so he set out to discover how he could motivate and move his body.”

● The book is available for online purchase from Amazon at R200.