Body Mind Connection

Meditation Does Not Work

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Meditation does not work if you all you do is read about it, it only works when you begin doing it. So let’s see if I can help you begin your meditation practice, because just reading about it and then making those excuses to yourself, you know the ones; “I don’t have time“, “There are too many distractions“, “I can’t stop my thoughts“, “I’ll do it tomorrow…” just means that you are missing out. For that matter so am I, but I will get to that later.

The reality is that learning to meditate is tough, just like learning to drive, ride a bike, or read. The difference is that most people are motivated by the obvious benefits of skills like driving. Motivated enough that they make the effort, make the effort to learn, to practice.

Portrait of meditating woman relaxing in pose of lotus outdoors
You can begin practising meditation in just a couple of minutes a day.

So how much motivation do you need to learn to meditate? Meditation is FREE and offers so many benefits. Along with benefits to your brain’s ability to function, more and more published studies are showing the benefits of meditation to your emotional and physical health. Studies showing reduction in stress, improved immune response, feeling happier, more connected, it’s all there if you like reading such things.

Perhaps what you really need to know is that meditation can be easier than you think..

What is This Post About

Meditation does not need to be difficult. You did not learn to read by looking at Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings and neither do you need to learn to meditate by sitting in lotus position and contemplating the meaning of life for 30 minutes.

You can begin practising meditation in just a couple of minutes a day.

Why Is This Post Important to Me?

Learning to meditate is an important life skill, because it has huge benefits to your emotional and physical health.

Learning to meditate is important, because you are important. I really believe that. Each and every one one of us has the right to be happy and healthy, and, lets face it, the World would be a better place if we all were… happier and healthier. That’s where I get to gain; imagine a world where more and more people are happy, smiling; calm, that is where I would like to live! Learning to meditate will help create that reality for you, of being happier and healthier.

How do I use the Information in this Post?

Meditation is a spiritual practice, not a religious one and these days the spiritual side of our lives is often the most neglected, the most forgotten, the most overlooked. So this is also an area where there are a lot of gains to be easily made.

One of my favourite methods that you can do almost anywhere is the Heartmath Heart Breathing Meditation. Why not have a go now? Here it is:

  1. Close your eyes and relax into your chair.
  2. Put your hand over your heart and focus your attention into that area, into those deep chambers in the centre of your chest.
  3. Breathe deeply but normally and feel as if your breath is coming in and out of your heart area.
  4. Begin to regulate your breathing to a count of six.
  5. Breathe for a count of six seconds into your heart space. Breathe for a count of six seconds out of your heart space. Keep breathing in for six and breathing out for six.
  6. Focus on your heart area and feel the relaxation.

You may be pleasantly surprised at just how quickly you begin to relax.

Alternatively you could just listen to a guided meditation track for as long as you feel comfortable. You could start with the track I’m sharing with those who sign up for my Newsletter. Just start by listening to first few minutes. Listen a few times and you may be pleased that you notice relaxing more and more, listening to  just the first few minutes. Then gently and slowly you can listen for a little longer. You may be be pleased at just how quickly you can comfortably relax and listen all the way through.

Let me know how your meditation practice goes! 🙂

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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

 

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 sounds 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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The One Thing you Must Learn For your Health

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My journey back to full health from the misery of ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was unfortunately longer than it could and should have been.  If we (my husband, Pete, and myself) had known back then what we did now, the trial and error we went through could have been avoided and we could have honed in on those things which not only really helped me but also have since been scientifically proven to help.

One of the therapies I tried back when I was ill was Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) otherwise known as Tapping.  I will be blogging more about this technique in upcoming blogs but, in a nutshell, EFT is a simple yet highly effective self-help tool based on energy psychology.  It is based on the Eastern philosophy of gently tapping on energy meridian points throughout the body, the same meridian points used in acupuncture and acupressure.  When I was ill, exactly how or why EFT worked was irrelevant to me; what I simply recognised was that I felt better after using it.  EFT is simply amazing at helping with emotional, physical and behavioural problems, as well as helping to overcome negative thoughts.

I was taught EFT by an experienced practitioner who showed me where the tapping points were and how to tap effectively, for maximum benefits and health gains.  Once I was taught it I could then use it myself at home whenever I needed to.  There were times when it did not seem to be as effective as it could have been and it was then that I knew it was time to see the practitioner again as she seemed able to ask the right questions to bring up emotions that might have been hiding under the surface and which I was too reluctant to tackle myself.  However, in general, tapping at home several times a day seemed to really help me feel more relaxed, which ultimately helped me feel physically better as well.

As I said, at the time, I did not really care how EFT was helping me, only that I knew that it was.  However it is really interesting now with hindsight to read emerging research on EFT which scientifically demonstrates the physical effects EFT can have and why it was so helpful to my recovery.

A randomized, controlled trial study(1) has recently shown how EFT can have a physical effect on the body by affecting the biochemical marker of stress called cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone, often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’ as it is often elevated when we are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.   In this study, 83 participants were divided into three groups.  Group 1 were given one hour of traditional psychotherapy, ‘talk therapy’, group 2 were given one hour of EFT and group 3 were the control group and given no interventions.  The cortisol levels of each group were measured before and after treatments.

The results were staggering.  There were no changes in the cortisol levels for participants in group 1 and 3, but in group 2, the EFT group, the cortisol levels decreased by 24%.  The researchers were so amazed by this response they thought that there must be an error in the readings and they recalibrated their equipment and retested.  After a lot of retesting which showed the same results, they finally accepted that there was nothing wrong with their equipment: EFT worked!

If one single session of EFT can have such a dramatic reduction in cortisol levels, imagine what regular tapping could do for your health?

As we have seen in our webinars, the stress response which is responsible for elevated cortisol levels has wide-ranging, debilitating physical affects on our body.  Something which starts life as an emotion or a negative thought can actually impact in a very real, physical way on how we are feeling, exacerbating our symptoms and hindering the body’s natural healing response.  In my case, the insidious impact of cumulative stressors which had crept up on me and which not only meant then when I got ME/CFS my body was already in a compromised, weakened state but which also kept me ill for so long, was a key factor in my illness.  Working with our clients, we know that I was not alone.  So many sufferers are hindered by the effects of stressors which are keeping them stuck in ill-health, it is really tragic and frustrating that not more is being done to make sufferers aware of what can be done to help them.

Looking back with the knowledge we now have from the researchers, I am convinced that learning and using EFT was a key factor in my recovery.  (In fact, it is now a key factor in my life, as when I recovered I went onto qualify as an Advanced Practitioner of EFT!)  We now know how important this simple tool is for our clients and teach it to them so that we are really putting control of their health back into their hands, or rather at the tip of their fingers.  If you would like to know more about this amazing tool which can revolutionise your health see Pete’s YouTube video and join us for one of our workshops and tap yourself back to health 🙂

Debbie

 

References

1. Garret Yount, Audrey Brooks and Dawson Church,The Effect of Emotional Freedom Technique on Stress Biochemistry; A Randomized Controlled Trial, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,2012

What You Need to Know if You are Losing Hope of Regaining Your Health

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hopeIf you are a woman who has lost hope of regaining or even improving your health my next webinar is for you. It’s so easy to lose hope, a careless word from a Doctor, an unhelpful chat with another patient, a program on the TV. Sometimes it’s the little things that erode your hope over time, sometimes your hope is discarded ignorantly during a consultation. Maybe your diagnosis was a crushing experience, taking your breath away, leaving you numb, scarred, unable to think.

Studies have shown that if you want a chance of being healthy again, the worst state of mind is a stoic acceptance of fate, to become hopeless. One of the things I will show you on this webinar is that hope is vitally important.

In the face of ‘expert’ opinions and a system that seems most proficient of stealing control from you, it is understandable why you can end up feeling hopeless and like a mythical phoenix from the flames you can regain your hope of being healthy.Debbie-and-Pete-Cropped

To help we will be discussing three reasons why your body has the potential for ‘self induced healing’ and looking at some real life stories. Most importantly we will be giving you practical steps to get started with. Choosing to register now  is the first step of taking back control, deciding how you want to live you life.

So I really do hope you will choose to join us and just register now.

Looking forward to talking to you again.

Pete

 

It’s

Brain Fog Clouding your Day?

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brain fogLike many ME/CFS sufferers, I experienced debilitating brain fog for most of the time when I was ill.  For those of you that haven’t experienced this symptom, brain fog is the term used to describe impaired mental and cognitive functioning.  Years ago when I used to attend an aerobics class, I remember the teacher telling the class to imagine we were moving through mud (although the reasoning behind this is totally irrelevant to the issue in hand, I think the idea behind this is to imagine resistance so that the muscles of the body have to work harder!).  Well, for me, brain fog is the cognitive equivalent of trying to move through mud.  My thought processes seemed to go in slow motion and no matter how hard I tried to formulate a coherent thought, it was like trying to access information from some very slow, archaic computer, which clunked along seemingly operating but either not retrieving the correct information, or doing so so slowly that I had forgotten why I wanted it or garbling the information causing me confusion and frustration.  Holding a sensible conversation was totally impossible; I could not follow logical trains of argument on even the simplest of topics let alone formulate responses.  Following a short television programme or reading a few pages of a book, likewise ended up in a garbled and addled brain, confused, befuddled and exhausted by the sheer effort of trying to follow a linear trail of information.

Brain fog is an extremely common symptom for ME/CFS sufferers and I think I can safely say that all of our clients with ME or CFS have experienced this for at least some of the time before their recovery.  But what exactly is brain fog?  Well one hypothesis is that any stress impacting on the sufferer can exacerbate this symptom, the reason being is down to how our brain physiology changes when under stress.

Our brains have evolved significantly from the time 6 million years ago when we began to stand up and walk. Scientists believe that back then our brains were not so different from reptiles today. They could handle the essential functions of survival and little else. Eating, temperature control, running away or fighting, reproduction just think of what the average lizard does and you get the picture. As we evolved we developed new parts of brains with new functions. The first of these new areas is often referred to as the mammalian or limbic part as it has characteristics you associate with mammals. Emotions, feelings and basic communication are things you would normally associate with a dog or a horse. Look into a reptile’s eyes and you don’t see much emotion, but look into your dog’s eyes and we can often detect the emotion. The final new part of the brain is the cortex or neocortex; this is the clever part of brain that is involved with creativity, complex thought and language.

So how does this relate to stress? When stressed it is that old reptilian brain that takes over, and the rest of the brain goes on hold for a bit. If you think about it, this makes sense. When faced with a tiger, prehistoric man had few options. ‘Thinking’ would be likely to slow us down and result in a painful death! The part of the reptilian brain responsible for this prioritising of functions is known as the Amygdala.  Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, uses the phrase ‘Amygdala hijack’ to explain what happens, which I think sums it up very well. When the amygdala interprets a situation as a threatening it hijacks the brain, beginning the cascade of reactions involved in the fight or flight response.

Along with creating problems with our thought process, the amygdala also affects our memories. How many people remember of the details of a life threatening situation? How often does it all appear a “bit of a blur”? This is because stress affects our ability to store and retrieve memories[i]. Chronic stress in particular can negatively affect memory and learning[ii]  Even now, when I try to remember fine details of my illness before I recovered, it still seems a blur, because I don’t think my brain really focused on storing this information at the time; it was too busy counteracting the stress I was under and the stress associated with the condition itself.

Stress effectively robs us of the ability to think of anything more complex than running away or fighting and chronic stress hampers our ability to remember and learn. I don’t know about you but this certainly does sound like Brain Fog to me.

Thankfully, once I had started on my holistic journey back to health the fog did gradually clear, as I took control of stress and my limbic brain took over again and thinking through mud became a thing of the past 🙂

Debbie

Sky Blue River

 

[i]Kuhlmann, S., Piel, M., Wolf, O.T. (2005). Imparied Memory Retrieval after Psychosocial Stress in Healthy Young Men. Journal of Neuroscience, 25(11), 2977-2982.

[ii]Pasquali, R. (2006). The Biological Balance between Psychological Well-Being and Distress: A Clinician’s Point of View. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75, 69-71.

3 Facts Women With Cancer are NOT told, that leave them with pain and fatigue.

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FACT 1

The pain and fatigue associated with cancer and its treatment can often be reduced. The research into breast cancer shows that hypnosis reduces both pain and fatigue. The latest research*1 that included 200 patients found the reduction in fatigue lasted up to 6 months after treatment had ended. Hypnosis for reduction of pain and fatigue during cancer treatment is completely safe, does not interfere with your conventional treatment. There are also no side effects.

FACT 2

If you believe your treatment for cancer is going to go well and will help you, it is more likely to do so. Dispelling any unhelpful fears or doubts that maybe lingering in your subconscious, or even conscious mind can be hugely beneficial. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Tapping as it is also known as is a wonderful method of changing unhelpful beliefs both at a conscious and subconscious level.

FACT 3

Being diagnosed with cancer can bring an immediate need to make lifestyle changes. This is an area where a lot of clients traditionally think of hypnosis and it certainly offers a powerful approach to making the changes you desire. This can be important to recovery.  I have heard Surgeon Bernie Seigal, who is also the author of Love, Medicine and Miracles say “Be who you want to be and be where you want to be.” Having a clear vision of who you want to be can be a powerful draw to making it a reality, specially if that vision is boosted with hypnosis.

If you would like to know more please see my website Sky Blue River

*1 Randomized Controlled Trial of a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Plus Hypnosis Intervention to Control Fatigue in Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer
Journal of Clinical Oncology (13 January 2014), doi:10.1200/jco.2013.49.3437
by Guy H. Montgomery, Daniel David, Maria Kangas, et al.