Monthly Archives: April 2014

Trust- A Force of Nature

If you take the time and make the effort to build trust people will do extraordinary things with you

If you take the time and make the effort to build trust people will do extraordinary things with you

Trust is a force of Nature

Trust is hard won. We are born into trust for it is the natural way. Nature is built on connectivity, interaction and synchronicity.  Birds’ eggs hatch just as the insects they eat begin to multiply, the squirrels bury their nuts as the autumn nights draw in and winter approaches and the sea’s tides are influenced by the phases of the moon.  Nature is built on trust.  The new born knows it must suckle, the fledgling birds knows it can fly just as the foal understands it must walk.  Everything comes in its own time and eventually fades away.

In her book “Mutant Message Down Under” Marlo Morgan describes a scenario when she must lead the Aborigine tribe in the Outback wilderness to food. Days go by without food and water and fear and terror mount in her as she contemplates her death and the death of the tribe. The Aborigine tribe members are unmoved. In time a meal appears in the wilderness and her relief is extreme. She discusses her anxiety with the tribe later on and they explain that they never lost their trust in nature- that she would raise to the task and provide or they would die. It is that simple!

Losing Trust and Gaining Wisdom

Trust is something easily lost. We trust implicitly as youngsters because we know no better. We are endowed with trust by Nature herself.  Why would we not trust?  It is against the natural flow of survival. Without trust we are alone and without friends or support.  As helpless youngsters we have no choice but to trust. It is our birth right. But it is easily abused, knowingly and unknowingly. This creates distrust and in that there is a loss of innocence, a barrier to open loving living.

As life experience shapes our understanding of the world we must lose our naivety without becoming cynical. We must understand that people are not always as they seem. People can hide their insecurity, fear, aggression and malicious intent towards us . If we do not realise this we become stung by the sharp stab of trust abused and the humiliation of being made to feel stupid or falsely taken in.

If we are to be open we must have trust. If we are to communicate and live without barriers to the world, there has to be an implicit trust in the world and the people in it. If all we have known is a harsh and unloving world it is hard to trust it.

With every personal disappointment in others we become more insular. Perhaps we need to look elsewhere for trust?

Where can Trust be Found?

Nature can be trusted upon. Every breath you take is a deepening of the trust between you and nature itself. You serve and support each other. You are there for each other.  Aren’t all of nature’s bounty free gifts?  Air is a free gift, expected on faith that it will be there and that you have the means to take it. We take it for granted, because Nature has always provided.  But should we take that trust for granted?

Many years ago I learned to SCUBA dive.  One of the important tasks that I had to learn was to share my breathing equipment with my diving buddy.  I had to learn various other important tasks as well to prepare me for a time when I may lose air for some reason below the surface of the water.

Once as I was performing these tasks, my diving instructor turned off my air supply!  The feeling of trying to draw air into my lungs when there was no air to breathe was terrifying.  I panicked and tried to race for the surface, the great sin in SCUBA diving for safety reasons.  My instructor coached me through the proper procedure and in time I breathed again, but for those few seconds the beauty of breath and the implicit trust I had in nature for providing my next breath was forcibly driven home to me.

On occasions I breathe deep, long and low and enjoy the calmness my body experiences as I feel the air rush into my lungs and nourish my body.

By being consciously aware of the air around us and inside of us and knowing that it is freely available to us given by nature itself, we can build trust in nature.  Perhaps we need to be more mindful of the things that are offered naturally without price.  They are given as part of the natural order of the world and the universe.

Our pets bring us pleasure and comfort. They trust in our kindness.  They respond to it.  There is a natural order in this. We trust them in turn. They are there when we feel sad.  They snuggle to comfort us, and are there to greet us constantly when we leave and return.

The Beauty of Trust

What can we humans learn about trust from nature and animals? Always be there. Be present. Be kind and generous.  Be compassionate and accepting. Realise our responsibility to others and live up to it. Be loyal.  Be trusting of the natural order.

Trust in people is built over time. It is earned.  People make mistakes and so it does not always follow that their mistakes were deliberately done. We must ask ourselves “Has it been done in error or with malicious intent?”  To interact with people at all let alone well we must trust them and be trust worthy ourselves.

To do great things with people we must trust and be trust worthy. If you take the time and make the effort to build trust people will do extraordinary things with you.

Some will be too fearful. That is fine. Some may be so fearful and distrusting that they abuse your trust and hurt you. Know that the fault lies with them, not you! Learn to tell the difference and with growing wisdom discern the relationships that diminish you and those that empower you.

Nature waits patiently.  It is always there, waiting for each of us to trust and begin the process of embracing it.  In return for our trust in it, it embraces us more deeply, sharing with us more of its wonder and secrets.

Nature can only do so much and we must be prepared to do our bit. Often we don’t take chances as we worry about our ability to trust the situation or the person.  Often it is a question of control or past pain.  We all have a need to protect ourselves from repeating mistakes in relationships and situations. We do not want to be hurt. Yet, to surrender to trust we must be prepared to take the chance and understand that there is the possibility of being hurt.  It is a tricky situation.

Building a Bridge of Trust

So how do we cross this impasse? How do we build trust, trust the right people and embrace that which is good? It takes time. It takes care and patience. Are you worthy of trust? Is the one in whom you place your trust worthy of it?  We can only discover this by taking small steps, in the full knowledge that we are taking a risk.  We build trust over time, making informed choices that will lead to greater openness as trust is upheld from both ends of the bridge.

This will lead to a strong connection and bond growing between you and others that will nurture your faith in trust and create a beautiful life full of millions of small moments- the smiles, the laughs, the touches, the kindnesses- that warm the soul and make life special.

Energy Therapy- Reiki (Part 5)

Reiki works with hands- off the body as well as hands- on.

Reiki works with hands- off the body as well as hands- on.

Introduction

 Reiki is the name given to a healing technique devised by a man named Dr. Mikao Usui and was spread to the west in 1930s by a Japanese Hawaiian lady called Mrs Takata. The word Reiki itself means “Universal Life Force Energy” (from the Japanese Rei meaning “Universal” and Ki meaning “Life Force Energy.”  Ki is also known as Chi in Chinese and Prana in Sanskrit.  Ki surrounds and animates all life and is the main source of our thoughts, emotions and spiritual existence. Ki is the subtle energy that can be accumulated by the body and guided by the will.

 Reiki is a hands-on or hands-off the body healing system that is very simple to use once the person has been attuned to the Reiki healing energy. Reiki energy can cause no harm since its existence is within us and the energy will always seek to heal and to balance the body. Reiki healing can be used by anyone attuned to the Reiki Energy and can be used to help bring healing to all living animal life. A practitioner has gone through a series of attunements that allows him/ her to heal using Reiki.  Once a person is attuned to Reiki energy they can bring healing to themselves, others and all animals.

 It is believed by Reiki healers that within the body there are energy pathways, and where many of these cross they form what are known as Chakras. The free flow of energy through the chakras are said to allow the body to be in good health.

 It is thought by Reiki practitioners that the Reiki energy nourishes cells and organs helping them to perform their functions optimally. It is also thought that when Ki energy is unable to flow with ease or is blocked, the person may suffer from disease or illness. Reiki is said to flow to the location of the blockage and will then clear the pathway so that the energy can run freely with ease once again, allowing the body to function properly.

 Reiki is said always to assist the body’s natural ability to heal itself.  Reiki energy is thought to be drawn by the person receiving the treatment and not given by the Reiki Practitioner. Reiki is said to have its own intelligence and it is never left entirely to the Practitioner to decide where the energy is needed. The energy will flow where the patient needs the energy as the energy will always seek to restore balance and harmony to the body.

 The practitioner can choose the length of time given to an area treated or to the placement of the hands during the treatment or to the length of time given to the entire treatment but that is the extent of the practitioner’s involvement in the directing of the energy.

 Reiki is now used in major hospitals throughout Great Britain, and in hospitals in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, as well as a growing community of private practitioners throughout the world.  Further information about Reiki can be found at The Reiki Council and The Reiki UK Association.

 My Session

 I have known Lynette Avis for many years and we are co-authors of Nourish the Flame Within- a guide to connecting to the human soul for Reiki, Martial Arts and Life.  Lynette has had a Reiki practice for many years in Suffolk, UK, as part of The Living Energy.

 When I arrived at the therapy rooms, I was led through the reception area into the treatment room, where we sat down and discussed Reiki and how it works.  There was soft music playing and the warm colours of the walls and the beautiful pictures made for a very relaxing ambience.  Lynette asked me to fill out a questionnaire, asking questions about general health, medication and habits.  She asked me whether I was happy for her to do the healing session with hands on the body or whether I preferred her to do the session with hands off the body.  Before I got on the couch, Lynette asked me to take my shoes and socks off.  Once on the coach, fully clothed and covered by a blanket, I closed my eyes and waited for the magic to start!

 I have never had a Reiki session before.  I was surprised by what I felt. Little actually happened.  I felt  subtle sensations of flowing energy that ran along my body like running water and on some areas of my body I felt some warmth and sometimes heat, but more often than not I felt the relaxing effects of stillness, quiet and soft music, rare pleasure in my hectic life. 

 I was asked to lie on my back to begin the treatment.  Lynette explained the procedure and the order that she would treat the body. She begun the treatment at my face and moved her hands over my face, then to the side of my face on my temples.  She proceeded under the back of my head, then down to my throat, heart, solar plexus, stomach area, hips, knees and feet.  When she finished treating my feet she asked me to roll over, onto my stomach. She then treated my back, starting at my shoulders, proceeding to my shoulder blades, small of the back and base of the spine.  Lynette held each position for about 3 minutes.

 The areas of warmth I felt on my body were on my right shoulder blade, a place where I often get muscle pain and on the left side of my stomach area where I sometimes experience discomfort and can be tender to the touch. Lynette explained that the warmth relates to my body drawing the Reiki Energy from her hands and using it to help heal itself.  She explained that the energy can sometimes be felt as cold, it depends on the person and the way in which the patient responds to the healing.

 Reflection

 As with all the therapies I have experienced so far in researching of this blog series, I found the Reiki session very relaxing and enjoyable,. I have learnt on this exploration of therapies that the body draws what it needs to heal itself.  In light of this Reiki healing session I have become aware of areas of my body that require my attention for healing and maintaining health. The Reiki energy highlighted and brought those areas to my attention.

 In response, I have begun to do one of the health meditations in Nourish the Flame Within more regularly than usual.  By understanding that disease can often be a slow progression from wellness to illness, Reiki can be a way of self monitoring your health and being able to make small, regular efforts to maintaining well- being.  The particular meditation from Nourish the Flame works in a similar way.  It also helps me to become aware of where imbalances are in my body and gives me the means to do something about it. The meditation that I use is called “Relaxation Meditation” and can be found in the health section of Nourish the Flame Within.

 The ease with which the Reiki session is given, it makes a lot of sense that some nurses are being trained and are choosing to be trained in using Reiki to complement their daily practice in hospitals throughout the world.  If just being attuned to Reiki can offer potential healing at no risk to the patient, it makes good sense to be able to use such a subtle healing art.  Once attuned to Reiki all that is required to heal is an intention to heal.  After all, healing is one of the main focuses of nurses.  During my conversations with complementary health practitioners, many of them have said that they have trained in Reiki as well as their other healing arts.

 You can learn the first stage of the Reiki attunement process which is known as Reiki 1, and use Reiki on yourself, friends and family to maintain your health on a regular basis.  Lynette has told me that she does this every day herself.  You can take your Reiki development further onto the next three levels of Reiki training enabling you to heal others on a professional basis and to teach.

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I would like to thank Lynette Avis for her time to explain Reiki to me, answer all my questions and offer me the free Reiki session on which I based this blog.  You can contact Lynette for more information about Reiki and her services at The Living Energy.  

 

Energy Therapy- Reflexology (Part 4)

Reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China ad was introduced to the West in 20th century.

Reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China ad was introduced to the West in 20th century.

A brief history of Reflexology

According to the Association of Reflexology website, “Whilst the art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China, this therapy was not introduced to the West until Dr William Fitzgerald developed ‘Zone therapy’. He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.

In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.”

The Theory of Reflexology

There are different schools of thought as to how manipulating the feet and hands can affect the wellness of the rest of the body.  One idea is that the nerve endings in the feet and hands are connected to particular organs and regions of the body.  Stimulating these nerves through massage can have a balancing effect on the organs or glands to which they are connected. Meridians are another way in which the feet and hands are connected to other parts of the body.  These are lines that run through the body along which Chi (the universal energy force) flows.  In Taoist tradition the belief is that free- flowing, unblocked Chi means the body is balanced and healthy physically, mentally and spiritually.

The truth is probably a mixture of these schools of thought.  Because nerve endings and meridians terminate in the hands and feet, a reflexologist is stimulating both nerve endings and meridians and affecting and influencing both. Perhaps the school you ascribe to depends on the belief system with which you feel most comfortable?  Personally I am happy with both the western, medicine based explanation of nerve endings and the eastern, Taoist theory of meridians.

Either way, Reflexology theory states that applying pressure to certain points on the hands or feet affects the energy flow of the body in some way.  The role of the practitioner is not to cure, diagnose or prescribe, but rather to help the body to restore its balance naturally.  That is why the practitioner takes a holistic view of the client’s health and tailors each treatment to the client’s individual needs, taking into account both physical and non-physical factors that might be affecting their wellbeing.

My Reflexology practitioner, Natasha Sharpin, works from The Salus Wellness Clinic in Cambridge, UK, a treatment centre for many complementary therapists near the city centre.

My Reflexology Session

The session started with some basic questions about health and personal details.  As I answered, Natasha took notes.  I began to relax as the soft music playing on the iPod and the calming environment began to take its hold.  This seemed to coincide with more probing questions about diet, overall well- being and even dreams that I have.  Although Natasha knew that I was in her treatment room to be able to write a piece for our blog, she asked to come to the session with an issue that I would like help in resolving.  I have always suffered from tension in the neck, shoulders and stomach areas and wondered if Reflexology could help.

Once Natasha was satisfied that I had painted a picture of my general state, she asked me to go over to the treatment chair.  Through a series of slow electrically driven movements, the chair moves you from a vertical position to a near- horizontal pose that is extremely relaxing and makes it easier for the Reflexologist to work with your feet.  Natasha offered me a blanket to keep me warm as I was going to be still for about 45 minutes.  I was fully clothed save for my shoes and socks.  Firstly, Natasha cleaned my feet with an alcohol-free swab and then she began looking and studying my feet!  She started telling me things about my body that I had not mentioned in the earlier part of the session, in particular the tension in my neck and shoulders and in my right hip.  I was intrigued and surprised that so much information could be gleaned from the feet!

The next part of the treatment was the foot work. It was very relaxing and at times surprisingly painful (in that way that you feel it is really doing you good).  For the first few minutes Natasha slowly and precisely manipulated my feet, as she instructed me to breathe in long, slow breaths to aid relaxation.  As the session progressed, the thumb pressure went into some really tender places that corresponded to the areas of tension in my body.  Above and beyond the wonderful sensation of having my feet massaged and the relaxing feeling it left my body in, I felt more aware of the stresses and strains I put my feet under and how this may have an impact on my body as a whole, as well as the reverse effect.  The fact that the effects of stresses that the body is under manifests in the feet should not really be a surprise, as we are fully integrated beings influenced and effected in many subtle and intricate ways.

After the massage session, Natasha and I briefly discussed some of the things I could do to support the benefits of the session in my own time.  These included using a hand reflex point in the heel of the hand below the thumb that stimulates the reflex point to the adrenals leading to reduced stress.  Using strategies of stress relief and tension release have a holistic effect on the body, the perfect complement to the Reflexology session.

Reflection

I found the Reflexology session with Natasha very beneficial.  During the session and after I felt much of the tension in my body significantly reduced and so better able to manage the stress I feel. Although it would be better to have regular sessions to support the body in reaching balance and harmony, as is the case with most health issues, it is not necessarily practical financially or with respect to our busy schedules.  However, being given tips about how to manage my own stress and tension using reflexology means that I am empowered to take control and responsibility for my own health. With that said I did book in for a few weeks later.

Stress and tension are both major contributors to illness.  It stands to reason that learning effective ways to manage one’s stress levels is really important for long term health and well- being.  Rather than reaching for a cigarette, a pint of beer or a glass of wine or even popping pills when we feel stressed, would it not be better for our overall health to learn simple techniques to relax and calm the mind and body? Accessible tricks like the one’s I learned in my Reflexology session really help me manage stress, as well as meditation, going for a walk in the countryside, playing music or doing exercise.  All these things are free or very cheap.  Certainly cheaper than cigarettes and some alcohols and better for you in the long- term.

My Family recently had a health scare.  We have a history of high cholesterol and my brother was recently fitted with stents to keep open some of the arteries leading to his heart.  He had a suspected heart attack and collapsed in his late 50s.  He is well now and learning to manage his diet better to reduce his cholesterol and so reduce the likelihood of a repeat event.  Naturally this shocked me and I felt motivated to look at my diet and life style and see where changes could be made to reduce my own risk of illness related to high cholesterol.

I was staggered at how poor my health was compared to what I imagined.  I was much more over-weight than I imagined, I had high blood pressure and I had high cholesterol levels.  These things had risen so slowly I did not realise my health was in danger.  My brother’s heart attack was the wake-up call I needed.  In six months I had reduced all these symptoms to much healthier levels and I felt so much better for it.  Almost two years later I am still following a healthier life-style, based on a good understanding of my diet, the effect certain foods have on me, exercise as well as ways to manage the stresses I face during my life.

I think therapies such as Reflexology are powerful tools to help manage stress and the symptoms of stress.

Reflexology works better for us if we are prepared to make the necessary health changes as well.  Perhaps the inevitable consequences of aging are not so inevitable after all, if we take control of our life-style early in life and reduce the stress and tension that can lead to age related ailments later in life.  I for one believe in this self- responsibility and I am happy to use Reflexology as a means to help me manage my health and well-being more effectively.  I am looking forward to my next session.

 

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My thanks go to Natasha Sharpin, founder of Reflex- aaah, who kindly gave me a Reflexology session and taught me so much about Reflexology.  Natasha’s details can be found at www.reflex-aaah.co.uk and www.salus-wellness.com.

Miss Stress Ball

Illness Why Me?

Illness Arrives
Illness is a funny old thing. It arrives on our doorstep one day and it seems often to have come out of know where. Illness happened to me like that. I was vacuuming the house one day and I had the most horrible pain at the back of my head. It made me stop what I was doing momentarily. I did worry for a moment but then let the thought go. I thought to myself that either this was nothing or it was the pre curser to some horrible illness. I had always enjoyed good health and so why would that change? I was thirty six and with life ahead of me and full of ideas for my future. Ill health was not on my agenda. When is it ever for anyone?

Some weeks later, I started to feel some pain in the right side of my face. I did not know what it was I just knew that I was in a great deal of pain. I went to my doctor prescribed anti-biotics and de-contestants. I did not know then that this was the very beginning of one of the worst periods of my life. Often when people become ill this is the truth. Their lives, as mine did, take a huge turn for the worst.

Unwelcome Inconvenience
Illness presenting itself in our lives is always unwelcome and a huge inconvenience. We often think of the beginning of our illness starting the moment we felt ill. However this is seldom the truth. The truth is more likely to be that the illness started years before. Its roots will have been in the past. It will have quietly entered your life and your body and the energy will not have necessarily been noticed by you.

Illness is a slippery customer. It seldom enters with bells and whistles to alert you to its presence. It enters quietly and then gets to work on you. It works its way into your life and body. In fact, the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world around us are entwined with our life and our body. There is no way to separate them. When we become ill most of us become the victim. We say why me? What did I do to deserve this?

I Caused my own Illness
Sometimes the answer is plenty. For illnesses such as M.E. which I suffered from for many years, I can say that I did plenty to deserve all that my body put me through, although I did not know it at that moment and would find out the truth of this many years later. If someone had told me then that I had brought this illness on myself and it was my own fault I would not have believed them. Because as far as I knew about ill health it just happened, with no rhyme nor reason to who it struck down.

It certainly struck me down for it took me many years to recover my health. This was the beginning of a miserable time that was to last more than a decade and took me to places within myself that I did not know existed.

Worry and Burnt Candle
I had burnt my candle at both ends and I worried myself into the ground. That is a sure way to health disaster. This time led me on a journey and one that led me to learn lots of things about maintaining good health. If only I had known then all that I now know with regards to maintaining health. I could have avoided many years of horrible health and pain. Well we live and learn. I sure did.

This horrible health experience led me to write Nourish the Flame Within, in the hope that others will not suffer my fate, and go down the road of health doom and disaster.
The story continues with……….
Illness set in the past

To find the reason for my illness we would have to go far back into my youth.