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Are You Suffering From Emotional Trauma and Upset?

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Are you plagued by thoughts of the past? Is some experience haunting you? Do you feel your thoughts are out of control? Are you scared and you do not even know why? Are you behaving in ways that you do not want and do not understand?

Have you lost hope that things will ever be better?

If you are saying ‘yes’ to any of those questions you are like majority of my clients.

Emotional Freedom Technique, (EFT or Tapping as it is also called) is the most powerful, effective, efficient and kind way of helping you release the ‘stuff’ that is keeping you from being who you really want to be. Have a look at my explanation on Youtube

From Raw Vegan to Omnivore

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From Raw Vegan to Omnivore in the space of a few years and there is a good reason for that. This is probably the most embarrassing story I tell and not because I have done what seems like a 180 degree turn around in my nutritional perspectives. But because it involves a situation that was well… embarrassing and unnecessary in sooo many ways! I seriously wish it involved me running around seeing everything as a juicy steak like Leo the lion in Madagascar, but no….

The story really begins back in 2004 when Debbie was diagnosed with ME/CFS one of the first things we looked at was nutrition. Debbie was already gluten free which many recovery stories supported, but we increased fruit and vegetables and began juicing because I had come across anecdotal accounts of people finding it beneficial.  At the time we also read a lot of books by Patrick Holford too, and I remember buying Essential Omega oils to make sure our omega 3/6 ratios were balanced. It did not result in complete recovery but it all seemed to help so we stuck with it.

‘Following what already had seemed to work’ over the years Debbie became interested being Raw Vegan, and ‘clean’ eating. She was  influenced by people such as Ani Phyo and the ‘Thrive Diet’ by Brendan Brazier. In 2009, in preparation for trying for a baby we spent a year ‘detoxing’ and eating raw vegan diet. I joined in because I had seen a TV program where the quality of men’s sperm improved dramatically with clean diet and I obviously wanted my sperm to be as healthy as possible! ;)  Much of the raw food I liked, but I rarely felt ‘good’ on it and I always held a doubt about a diet that required supplementation (B12) to avoid serious health problems. One of the things I have learned about the ‘World Wide Web’ is that you tend to find support for whatever your current belief is. So there is plenty of expert opinions on the benefits of eating in such a way and a lot of anecdotal reports of people overcoming illness and disease with the approach. So why the change?

Whizzing forward to Sept 2013, I took on a short term contract as a Health Trainer. During my first day there was a sequence of events that meant I did not really get the time to go to the toilet properly and felt embarrassed about asking. By the end of the first day I was in a bad place. Desperate to pee, having spasms but seemingly unable to pass much water. I had a hideous hour and half journey home, stopping every 10 minutes, trying to find somewhere to go, but just never really passing anything. At home, phone calls to NHS direct suggested I may have been dehydrated, so I continued to drink. During this time I managed a brief period of relief while Debbie tapped on my EFT meridians for me. That tells you  how powerful EFT can be for pain relief. But after a completely sleepless night of trying to pee every 10 minutes, I ended up at the Doctors with a diagnosis of bladder spasm and Acute Urine Retention, probably aggravated by a prostate twice the size it should be for a man of my age! That was a shock; my prostate was twice as big as it should be for man my age?  But I exercise, eat right, deal with stress, how comes??? The GP just said it was a fact of life, a man’s prostate keeps growing and that is that! Really?!?

I look after myself, or I thought I did, so this was a real shock and I decided to seek advice. At the time I was working from Arturus Clinic in Totnes on a Saturday, so booked in to see Dr Stephen Hopwood, the man behind Arturus the clinic. Dr Hopwood is an ex-GP who has turned to Chinese medicine because he has seen how much more effect it is. During the consultation I was surprised that he seemed unimpressed with my diet. Indeed his comment was actually “you need to eat some organic chicken livers!”

When I got home I began researching his seemingly bizarre comment but I felt rough and did not look too hard. Indeed over the next five weeks I would go through having the catheter removed, seemingly getting an extreme UTI. That would result in no sleep for two or three nights, antibiotics, antibiotic induced diarrhoea and then gradually slipping back into retention. There were some real low times for me, often I was simply too exhausted with lack of sleep to focus on anything that I knew would help. The only thing I could manage was listening a Loving Kindness Meditation that I had recorded months previously. That did get me through some very tough nights too. I finally ended up in hospital for a couple days which was not fun!

I struggled in hospital. Some of the Doctors barely treat you as human, only seem to answer questions begrudgingly, contradict each other and the food is less nutritious than I give River (our dog). When I finally got home, still with a catheter in place, Debbie had prepared a meal of chicken livers…… God it tasted sooo good!

Now I started researching things properly and what I found surprised me immensely. I’m not sure the exact route I took, but I remember watching a Doctor Terry Wahls explain how she had reversed her MS, by eating a ‘hunter gatherer’ diet and then went on to read ‘Your Personal Paleo Diet: Feel and look great by eating the foods that are ideal for your body by Chris Kresser and then more importantly The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease, Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne and there it was…

Phytic Acid!

Our healthy bean based meals were not as healthy as we thought.

Our healthy beans were not as healthy as we thought. Phytic acid is in seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts in varying quantities.

Phytic acid in your gut binds minerals (zinc, calcium etc) so you pass them in your stools rather than absorb them.

Zinc deficiency is also related to prostate enlargement!!

Men who come from Hunter Gather cultures don’t suffer enlarged prostates as they grow older!!! Could it be because they do not consume large quantities of the foods that contain this ‘anti nutrient’ that robs us of zinc?

My so-say healthy diet would have something containing phytic acid with nearly every meal and it all began to make sense, not just with zinc either. Debbie had been told she had osteopenia years ago and just before our daughter Honey was born my teeth had began just breaking, was this due to phytic acid binding the calcium?

I continued reading and researching; finally coming to Perfect Health Diet: regain health and lose weight by eating the way you were meant to eat by Paul Jaminet and his wife. This book made a huge amount of sense to me and they are not dogmatic, but rather their suggestions are based on study, research and personal experience.

As you can guess I changed the way I was eating. Occasionally, because sometimes it is convenient, we do eat some of these foods, but it is now rare rather than daily or even weekly.  Phytic Acid can also be removed/reduced by soaking so that is also an approach we use for things like nuts.  Although we are now all meat eaters, we are very choosy about the meet we do eat. Making sure the animals are grass fed and treated with respect.

Six months later the Consultant said my prostate seemed a normal size. He just put this down to the first Doctors being a bit rubbish, great that they have so much faith in each other! I’ve not taken medication to reduce the size of my prostate because it is linked with increasing the risk of prostate cancer. I did take Tamsulosin for a few months as it seemed sensible to help break the pattern I was in, but I came off that after a few months too. What I really believe has been effective is the combination of diet change, visualisation, Acupuncture and finally Cranial Osteopathy for a twisted pelvis. Indeed I had the confidence to come off the Tamsulosin after the Cranial Osteopathy.

The irony of the story is that to save myself the embarrassment of saying I needed to pop to the loo at the beginning of a meeting in my new job, I ended up with 6 weeks of far more embarrassing situations! Perhaps with hindsight it did me a favour though?

The Short Story

Phytic acid is in foods like seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts etc and binds minerals like calcium and zinc. Skip the foods or eat in moderation if you would like to avoid problems like osteoporosis and enlarged prostates!

Ever Changed the Way You View Life?

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Open Your Mind Something happened on Thursday the 19th March 2015, that changed my perspective on life in a big way.

It has opened my mind so much that I want to share it, even though I would normally have kept such things very private. So here goes…

A part of me believes my family should always be happy and healthy. After all, I clearly believe that I have the ability to help others become healthier and happier. I have helped enough people, to know that there is some truth in that belief. So a part of me, feels we should always be leading from the front, always full of health and happy. I know that Debbie often thinks the same, as she has also mentioned feeling the same way.

Our Guilty Secret
So one of our guilty secrets is that our 3 year old daughter, Honey, would wake up most mornings crying and distressed. It seemed to me in particular, that every morning started early (around 4 to 6 am) with a crying unhappy child and it was getting to me. I was noticing thoughts I did not want, “it’s always like this”, “here we go again” and I knew thoughts like this would not help.
For over three years I felt a bit powerless to change it. I had a feeling that it all stemmed from the family tragedy that occurred just before Honey was born. At the time, which was just weeks from Honey’s expected delivery, we used hypnosis and emotional freedom technique daily to try and shield our unborn daughter from the flood of emotions that coursing through Debbie’s veins. These emotions, grief at the loss of her younger sister and unborn nephew during childbirth, fear that what had previously seemed safe and natural may now be a life threatening event, had overtaken those of joy and anticipation of the arrival of our baby girl.
Debbie and Pete a month or two before Debbie lost her sister and nephew.
Debbie and Pete just weeks before Debbie lost her sister and nephew in childbirth.

We were both experiencing our versions of the natural feelings of grief, sadness and loss wrapped up with those of fear. I feel that we did the best we could, but it is also my belief that Honey had learned that life was scary and distressing even before she was born and so maybe that was why she woke up each morning sounding distressed.

“That’s Just Too Weird”
Now over the past three years there have been a sequence of events that has pushed me towards believing in our bodies subtle energy systems. Possibly being more open to that concept, I also came across EFT Founder Gwyneth Moss’s talks on surrogate tapping. This is where you use Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping for someone else, by imagining you are them! I’ve discarded this idea in the past without any real thought, but Gwyneth’s background is in science, she graduated from Cambridge in physics and worked worldwide as an oil exploration geophysicist and project management consultant before retraining as a therapist. Her thoughts mirrored mine when she explained her initial reaction to surrogate tapping which was “that’s too weird, that’s for Reiki people, not me”. So if someone with a proven record as both a physicist and a therapist can observe the benefits, would I be able to?  After yet another morning of being woken early to the sound of Honey crying and distressed, I very strongly suggested to Debbie that we should try surrogate tapping for her.

How We Did It
As I said before, surrogate EFT involves tapping on yourself on behalf of someone else, so we decided I would ‘pretend’ to be Honey and Debbie would be the therapist. EFT works best when you are not attached to the outcome though, so we spent some time clearing our own issues and emotional responses over Honey’s behaviour. Then I pretended to be Honey and Debbie acted as practitioner. We ended with the choices method around feeling safe and happy in her room. I just imagined myself as Honey and said what came into my mind, in the kind of words she would use. Our session probably lasted for around an hour and half, with around 1/3rd of it being the surrogate tapping.

The Following Morning
Around eight hours later at about 6:45 I almost cried as I lay in bed listening to Honey chat away to herself contentedly. I finally got up and popped my head around her door to be met with a cheery “Morning Dad”.

This blew me away. It was a like a dream. I had expected a change, committed myself fully to the process and believing in it, but such a profound difference, so quickly, was beyond my expectations.

Friday she woke with a cold and feeling ill, but still wanted to stay in her own room…

To date, each morning (to date around six weeks later), she has woken with a much more contented state of mind.

How Could This Work?
Some of you reading this will believe it a mysterious consequence, or wishful thinking. Personally I believe now more than ever, that we are all energetically linked in some way and this is why it has worked.

For now I’m avidly reading postings and books by those who understand what might be happening better than I do.

But I wonder, have you experienced anything like it?

 

Three Things to Help You Survive Cancer

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Stormy road ahead?
Bleak journey ahead?

There can be few things scarier than being diagnosed with Cancer, I still remember when my mum was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and given a few years at best to live. As a family we functioned, but in shock and with an almost paralysing sense of fear dragging me down everytime I awoke in the morning. I have regrets over that time because I did wrong, but it was a long a time ago and I lacked the knowledge I have now.

So if I could turn back time what would I do differently? In truth I believe there are many things that contribute towards self healing and being healthy, but I would start with these:

Firstly I believe hope is the most important thing to foster. So watch this now. 

Doctors seem paranoid about this and and scared of giving false hope, personally I would be more scared of living without hope because studies have shown that when it comes to beating cancer even ‘denial’ is better than the stoic acceptance that some people think you should have. Hope is crucial because without hope what is the point of doing anything?

I would recommend reading books like: Radical Remission, How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body, You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter etc to read about stories of how other people have survived against the odds and the theories behind how it maybe possible. Once you become open to the possibility that you can survive and thrive in spite of a prognosis to the contrary, you may be surprised at how many others have done so too and maybe you can be one of them. Here is the story on Youtube of one chap who did not consciously do anything, but still survived against the odds.

When you open your mind there is so much out there, and some it from forward thinking Doctors, like  that talk from Doctor Lissa Rankin which I find amazingly inspirational.

Secondly it is vital to get into the right state of mind to heal by acknowledging and reducing any fears, stresses or negative beliefs, while promoting positive thoughts and emotions. This is an area that I now specialise in because I know how important it is to regaining health. In simple terms every thought you have, conscious or subconscious starts as an electrical impulse, then creates chemical messengers that flood every cell in your body. Telling your cells which genes to switch on and off, which immune cells to create etc. There are now plenty of studies linking emotions like anger, and fear with various illness and it is well understood that stress or the fight or flight response drastically changes our biological systems which long term have a negative effect on our bodies. So it is vital that you get help to let these go. Find someone with a good reputation, who resonates with you, that can offer techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) that really do help you let to go of unhelpful thoughts.

As every thouInfinite Healing Wordsght you have does result in chemical messengers that flood every cell in your body, so replacing your fears with more positive thoughts is also important. Starting a gratitude diary may seem tough after a diagnosis of cancer, but blogger Gabi MacEwan credits the practice to her survival and it is a good way to foster positive emotions. Read more in my post: Three Strategies for Gratitude If Your Life is Tough. 

Practising a daily meditation/self hypnosis to encourage your body to heal is also vital and there are many such tracks available commercially. Email me if you would like one of mine to listen to.

Thirdly, start eating the right foods! This will probably involve you forgetting everything you have previously been told from ‘authority’ figures, but the evidence is there for doing so. Many people attribute changes to nutrition, often drastic changes, as being responsible for beating cancer. One of those I stumbled across recently is Fred Hatfield, who was given three months to live when he came across the idea that adopting a ‘ketogenic’ (high fat) diet would help him. The story I came across was written a year after he adopted that way of eating and he was still free of cancer. Others like Kriss Carr have found a diet of plant based nutrition has helped them. So here is the dilemma, how should you eat to beat cancer?

Now although initially these may look like drastically different approaches, which they are, if you look at the detail there are many similarities. So while one approach predominately involves starving the cancer sells of their primary energy source and the other predominately involves increasing anti-cancer vegetables, they both have similarities in what is avoided (and I have posted about that before).

In 1931, the Nobel Prize was awarded to Dr. Otto Warburg, who discovered that cancer cells and malignant tumours tend to feed on sugar (glucose and fructose). This theory has been expanded upon by others such as Dr Seyfried and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino and is the basis of using a diet that is high in fat, causing the body to use fat derived ketones for energy. As cancer cells cannot use ketones they die, while the rest of the body functions well, if not better on ketones than glucose. 

So while diets like Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet do not aim at ketone generation, many of the meals involve only sugar derived from carbohydrates, which when combined with increasing the intake of vegetables known to be beneficial in fighting cancer, may be enough for you to beat the cancer.

However, after doing a lot of research into healthy eating I would say that the ketogenic approach seems to make more sense and that is what I now recommend. Here are lots of resources you may find useful.

I would also recommend this FaceBook Group and Patricia Daly’s website comes highly recommended.

To Round Up:
Other people have survived and thrived and you could be one of them. Nurture your hope and do what ever it takes to believe that you can survive and thrive too. Your thoughts and emotions are vital to your bodies ability to heal and fight cancer, get the help you need to let go of fears and develop a rock solid vision of a healthy happy you. Ditch the standard western diet and follow a ketogenic diet.

If you would like to know more please see my website.

 

 

Can’t get Pregnant? Have you considered this?

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State of mind effects ability to concieve
After three sessions my client’s negative emotions around conceiving a baby were gone, and several months later I heard the good news.. she was pregnant!

 

Are you struggling to get pregnant? We live in an age where more and more couples struggle to conceive a baby; so, although it may offer you little consolation, you are not alone.

When I first started my practice, the first person to contact me was a lady who was struggling to get pregnant. She asked for my help because she blamed the negative emotions she was experiencing for her inability to conceive. Her belief, and mine, was that moving past her negative emotions would help her conceive and have the baby she so wanted so desperately.

After three sessions she was much happier, more relaxed and positive. Several months later, I heard from her to say she was pregnant, and over a year later I bumped into her with her new little girl at a post-natal baby weigh-in (where I was taking my daughter, I hasten to add)!

What is this About?

Since the 1980s the link between negative mental and emotional states of mind and infertility has become more understood.  Our states of mind can have a real impact on our ability to conceive. This is something that believe so strongly that I was rather surprised and taken aback today when a gentleman questioned “how on earth could I help with fertility and pregnancy?

"Being considered 'older' parents meant we did everything possible to increase the chance of conception."
“Being considered ‘older’ parents meant we did everything possible to increase the chance of conception.”

Research supports the fact that your state of mind affects your ability to conceive
How indeed?  Well although when one normally thinks about fertility, test tubes and medical interventions spring to mind, we need to also take a real consideration for how our state of mind and emotions can have an affect on our body.  An eminent researcher in the field or fertility, Dr. Alice Domar has proven the benefits of improving your state of mind in regards to improving your chances of conception. An assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the author of numerous books, Dr Domar has been involved in various research projects proving the benefits of mind/body practices for overcoming infertility and helping couples conceive. In 2000 she published the results of one study in The Journal of Fertility and Sterility. The s400Young-love-Couple-smiltudy involved 184 women who had been trying to conceive for between one and two years. Her article explained that the women who underwent her mind/body programme were almost three times more likely to conceive and get pregnant than those who didn’t.   Her programme involved the women learning  emotional release, nutrition advice and relaxation training.  After her programme 55% of the women conceived, as opposed to 20% of the control group.

I often work with people to change their limiting beliefs, because they can sabotage you at a subconscious level.  Limiting beliefs are negative thoughts, such as ‘I am not good enough’, ‘That will never happen’ etc. It was inspiring to see Dr Domar also working to change limiting beliefs such as “I will never have a baby” into more positive ones such as “I’m doing everything I can to get pregnant”.

For those of us interested in the mind/body connection Dr Domar’s reserach should not come as any big surprise. But if you are just starting to understand the amazing link between our bodies and our mind, it may come as a revelation.  The mind/ body link enables us to see how our mindset may be affecting our body’s ability to conceive. In order to have the best chance of conceiving your hormones need to be in balance.  Hormones are chemical messengers often created as a result of our thoughts.  So, if our conscious or subconscious thoughts are negative, these chemical messengers will adversely affect the body’s hormone balance.

Stress causes a decrease in your progesterone levels

An example of this mind/body hormonal link can be seen in the realm of stress.  Constant stress causes a decrease in your progesterone levels.  The hormone progesterone is needed if you want be become pregnant and stay pregnant because it nourishes the lining of the uterus in preparation of the implanted fertilized egg and feeds and nourishes the uterus during pregnancy.  So if you are stressed, this may be having an adverse affect on your progesterone levels which may be reducing your chances of conception.

Why is this Important?

Assuming you have seen your GP and ruled out all the physical reasons that might be preventing you from becoming pregnant, you may be confused and lost for a reason as to why this seemingly natural process is eluding you.  If you can identify with that description, this post is important for you because it may be your state of mind that is causing the struggle.

Ironically, unless you understand the importance of this knowledge, the delayed ability to conceive can often lead to a downward spiral of unhelpful emotions and thoughts such as failure, guilt, jealousy, anger, etc that all add up to more stress, which impacts on your ability to conceive.

How do I use This?

Photo by Luca Fazzolari
Photo by Luca Fazzolari

Now you know how stress and negative thoughts and emotions may be impacting on your ability to conceive, you have the choice to act on that knowledge. You have the ability to change your thinking patterns and trigger your relaxation response. It can be difficult to change on your own, but help is available and I will give you a link to some free downloads to help you in a minute.

Often the stresses of daily life simply rob us of the motivation and energy to change. I wonder if I asked you to scale your motivation between 1 and 10 where you would honestly say it was? Once you have decided on a figure ask yourself why it is not less? You may be surprised at just how motivated you are to change once you think about it in this way.

Often all that you really need is the motivation to change because once you have that motivation then things like the belief you can change and the knowledge of how to begin that change begin to slot into place.

Free Help for a Better Mind, a Better Body and a Better life!

Sign up for a Newsletter and get news later this month of a Deep Relaxation download to help you relax.

Other pages you might find useful:

Gratitude can be a great way to stay positive and avoid stress these posts explain how.

Resources
Impact of group psychological interventions on pregnancy rates in infertile women

Conquering Infertility: Dr. Alice Domar’s Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility

The Stress-Infertility Connection
Impact of group psychological interventions on pregnancy rates in infertile women
Restore Hormonal Balance for Improved Fertility

Hypnosis Can Get you Pregnant

Hypnotism-gave-baby-I-longed-for

 

3 Strategies for Gratitude When Life is Tough!

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These days I often introduce the idea of a Gratitude Journal by telling the story of  Gabi MacEwan. An inspirational lady who decided to start practising gratitude after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. As she says:

“I don’t live in a constant state of bliss. Sometimes I’m frustrated, disillusioned and sad, but I heartily recommend the cumulative effect of noticing and noting the moments of delight, relief or humour each day.”

So with that recommendation I want to give you some strategies for keeping the gratitude alive when life sucks, because being told to keep a Gratitude Journal when you feel your life is going down the pan, things look bleak and your feeling low can be a big ‘ask’. It’s times like this that doing a gratitude journal can be really tough. I’ve had clients say there was just nothing in their day that they felt grateful for, some have said they were writing the same old things and grew tired of the ‘chore’. Ironically of course when life is unfairly hard is exactly when you benefit from the practice the most.

I often express my gratitude for the people in my life, but I am also truly grateful for the nature I see around me and for my camera that allows me the creative expression I value in life.
I often express my gratitude for the people in my life, but I am also truly grateful for the nature I see around me and for my camera that allows me to record some of what I see.

What is this About?

I recently posted on the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, but as with many good habits you may find yourself too busy to do it when you are feeling good, and too tough when your not. So if you are like some of my original clients, you will keep a journal for a few days and then the practice of being grateful will begin to slide.

The answer is to make it habit and for that happen you need to commit to doing the practice until it becomes a subconscious reaction to think of things you are grateful for. Some people say it takes 21 days to make a habit stick, others 66, whoever is right, you will probably benefit from a strategy and support to really embed this new behaviour and way of thinking.

So having some strategies and support will help you make this positive activity a habit and today I want to focus on one of those strategies that makes keeping a gratefulness journal easy.

Why is this Important?

Because lets face it, there are times when life sucks! Whatever the reason for the ‘suckyness’, the simple act of writing down (or saying out-loud) the things for which we’re grateful gives benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike. Brilliant medicine when life feels like it is going down the pan and things looks bleak.

How do I Use This?

Personally I find that buying a nice journal helped me to keep me committed to the task and you may want to do the same thing. Make a conscious choice now and commit to experiencing more gratitude in your life. Then try these strategies:

  1. Set aside some time so you can allow yourself the opportunity to really notice the depth of your gratitude. Take time to relish and savour the feelings.
  2. Pick one person you know and just take time to allow all of the good reasons for having them in your life surface into your consciousness. Whenever possible focus on people and dogs in your life. Apparently whether we think of our pet dogs or children the same area of our brains are activated. So being grateful for your dog is ok!
  3. Go into depth – Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.

If you can think of these things in terms of gifts so much the better, according to Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of gratitude. His advice is:

“Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.”

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

I wonder if you maybe surprised at what you have been grateful for today?

Resources
The power of gratitude

Gabi MacEwan Blog: Losing the Will To Die

10 Reasons Why Gratitude is Good for You

It Takes 66 days to make a Habbit

Kids, dogs touch same soft spots in the brain: study

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Can you get a better nights sleep and improve your health and happiness?

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Is your mind busy when it’s time to rest and sleep? Do you have problems switching off at bedtime? Mind active and won’t slow down? Do you toss and turn because your thoughts won’t let you rest?

If that image of being too restless to sleep looks like you, you have a lot in common with many of  the people I help and there is a good chance your flight or fight response is active.

What is this About?

So lets talk about one way to switch off the fight or flight response and quieten the mind down at bedtime. There are many ways to achieve this, and one I really like is to keep a gratitude journal.

Spending a few minutes each night to think about things you are really grateful for is a great way to calm the mind and body and trigger the relaxation response. Focusing on the things you have been grateful for during the day will help you to let go of the things that were worrying you and help you get a good nights sleep.

But you do need to do it properly; robotically going through things you think you should be grateful for is not the same! If you are aware of the work of Candace Pert, you will know that your thoughts trigger the release of chemicals that flood the body, but that does not really happen if you think the thoughts in a detached fashion. You need to think the thoughts with your heart too.

Why is this Important?

It is really important that the fight or flight response is turned off and the relaxation response is triggered for sleep. Normally during sleep our bodies and minds should go through cycles of healing and repair, but these cycles are associated with being in a relaxed state. When we are stressed they are put on hold and your body does not heal and repair as it should.

So if you want to be healthy and happy triggering the relaxation response just before sleep will help.

It seems odd to think we can be stressed while sleeping, but studies have shown that some people, like those with CFS/ME, do actually stay stressed during their sleep.  So spending a few minutes contemplating what you are grateful for or what has gone well during the day is one way to switch off the fight or flight response.

Gratitude is great because it focuses you on what you have, not what you want or what you would like. I buy a nice little note pad for those that take part in my workshops, so they can use it as a journal and I urge you to buy something special too. Having a nice book to write in and maybe a nice pen will make the activity special and keep you motivated.

How do I Use This?

“I didn’t expect to recover from my second operation but since I did, I consider that I’m living on borrowed time. Every day that dawns is a gift to me and I take it in that way. I accept it gratefully without looking beyond it. I completely forget my physical suffering and all the unpleasantness of my present condition and I think only of the joy of seeing the sun rise once more and of being able to work a little bit, even under difficult conditions.” ― Henri Matisse

Personally I would prefer a paper based journal as modern technology like phones tend to keep us stimulated, alert and possibly stressed. Much better to create your own paper based journal which can become a treasure trove of positivity for you, as it fills with things that you have been grateful for. Something like this is ideal.

Spend a little bit of time composing your thoughts and then write down what you have been grateful for today. Feel the feelings as deeply as possible with your heart.

One lady I was talking too, said how truly grateful she felt for the home she lived in, even though it was nowhere near as nice as she would like. This was something she had moaned about and criticised until hearing of a tragedy the other side of the world where people had lost their homes and were spending night outside. Another lady spent ages trying to think of something only to realise she was grateful for the comfortable warm bed she was laying in.

Another chap said he thought of a different person he knew each night, spending time remembering how they have or had positively contributed to his life. It’s a good thing to vary what you write to keep it fresh and relevant.

Sometimes when times are tough, or we are busy and tired it is easy to answer with our head only. You know what I mean, when you say something but it does not have that emotional resonance, that physical sensation that lets you know you have felt something with your heart. Notice the difference between thinking what you are grateful for and feeling it with your heart. It can help to place your hand on your heart and allow the thoughts of gratitude to flow from there.

I wonder if you maybe surprised at what you have been grateful for today?

Resources
The power of gratitude

10 Reasons Why Gratitude is Good for You

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