Tag Archives: stress

Health and Success in the New Year

529745947O.K., so the mince pies have been eaten and you have stuffed your face with as much turkey, Christmas pudding and cake as you could humanly manage. You washed it all down with as much alcohol as your liver would allow, without sending you to A&E. It is now after News year’s eve, where you partied to the wee hours and you now feel sick and want to throw up. To be fair, you have not yet, but you really do feel like it and your skin is looking a funny shade of green. Not to mention your throbbing head.

Your body isn’t looking good. Very bloated and round. You are trying to convince yourself that the mince pies got worked off on the short walk to the party, but somehow it does not cut it. Alright admit it you have eaten too much and it is now showing in the poundage of your body and you drank too much and you are green. Fat and green to sum it up, so now what?

Well there is the New Year’s resolution of course. Get fit, get healthy and you could join the local gym. But you have done that before and the enthusiasm does not last past the beginning of February. This is called after festivity depression; a reality check after the revelry.

It is good to have a good time and Christmas is just the best time for that as so many people are up for the party. Life has to be full of good and happy things as they are the most fulfilling to us. However, should we really be partying until we go green? Maybe a lighter shade of something more appealing would be better. Being excited and loosing ones inhibitions can be a good thing sometimes. We all have our shyness’s and insecurities at any age. So alcohol is good for that. It will take that away for a short time and allow a freedom in the moment.

However, the freedom was short lived; you now understand this as you stand in front of the mirror looking at your unappealing green pallor. You could have saved yourself all of this by not engaging in the fun and not being at the festivities or participating. There is no fun in that either. So what is the answer? May I suggest moderation?

If you were moderate you could have enjoyed it all without feeling sick and going green, with a fat body and a throbbing head. This sounds like brutal advice, and it is to be fair. This was something I learnt a long time ago. Moderation is the key to a happy life. Satisfy your taste buds but don’t pile on the pounds with large quantity. Large quantities of anything will have a negative effect on your health or oppress you in time.

Last year at about this time I met a really lovely young man. He came to me as a client for therapy. He had a cocaine addiction and he looked so ill. As a mother and a caring individual my heart went out to him as he said to me, this started as a party and now it is a nightmare.

Often we make our own nightmare. Part of life is joining in the party. The ultimate party is life itself of course, and so we have to weigh a great deal up. We have to weigh up what is the right path for us as individuals. If we look down the road just a little bit we can be more controlled and thoughtful about the decisions we take.  The party seemed a good idea at the time, and maybe it was. However in hindsight was it? Your party was your making. A long, healthy and happy life needs a wee bit of control on our part and appropriate decisions made for our future anything if we are to have one at all. Life is a learning journey and none of us have all of the answers at any one time. We learn many things along the way in life as we develop over time. It is good to have fun at any age but don’t pay for it with your life, or quality of life. That is too high a price for a party.

May 2015 be peaceful, content and filled with the good things of life for you.

All the best for the New Year, Lynette.

Mind Distraction

Distractions of the mind may come at a cost

Distractions of the mind may come at a cost

I was recently caught speeding. It was one of those hand-held cameras that zap you when you have no chance of noticing it is there. I have no excuse. I was not in a rush, I was not late, I was not frustrated, angry or upset. I was just driving too fast. But why?

Having just spent a week away I have had a chance to reflect. I think I have an answer. For a week I have had no deadlines, no demands, no Email, no Facebook or Twitter, no phone calls, no meetings and no sense of feeling obliged or obligated to do something. As such, I return home calmer, I speak and drive slower, I am more patient, relaxed and friendly and I make more time to speak to people and to listen. In a reversal of expectations, I am also more productive, better able to focus and concentrate and as anticipated, less pressured.

On a day-to-day basis, I do not think I live a particularly stressful life style. I do jobs that I love and I have a lot of time and space to call my own to do as I please. Yet, there is a pressure that drives me to do more, start work earlier and finish later, take on another project, respond to Emails as I am having a telephone conversation or a conference call and rush from appointment to appointment at break neck speed. I think this pressure is a social phenomenon. Society tells us through advertising and social media to be busier, wealthier, more popular and more successful, to holiday more, party more, work more, be prettier and more handsome, sexier, fitter, stronger the list is almost endless. We feel that pressure and feel the urge to step it up another notch again and again and again. When is enough, enough?

I guess, if we are driven by the pressures laid down by society, enough is never enough. But if we can think seriously about what we want as much as about what we don’t want, then we are placing a pressure upon ourselves that is self motivated and internally driven. We are not isolated from society, nor do I think we should be. Through determining a self directed sense of what is important in life, we are better equipped to decide what goals, hopes and dreams can make us grow in a positive direction and those that do not. Society offers a spectrum of opportunities, some that may be to our detriment and others that may be to our benefit.

I do not blame society for my incident of driving too fast. It is my fault and it is up to me to moderate my behavior in all situations. My question is, does rushing and striving for more and more help us grow in a positive direction, or distract us from what it truly important? Could we rush less and reflect more and so become more thoughtful and considerate members of society and therefore become a more responsible and caring society as a whole?

Life is so busy and there are so many distractions that can pull us off the path that we have set for ourselves to achieve personal success and fulfillment. Perhaps we succumb to these distractions at a cost may be at the cost of our happiness or our health, but perhaps at a cost to the health and happiness of others. In my case, I may have hit someone with my car. The policeman who processed my paperwork on the side of the road let me go with a final sobering thought at the speed I was traveling only one in ten people survive being hit by a car. And all because I had got used to trying to do more to make myself feel like my life was more fulfilled and meaningful!

Stress and Strain

Stress Free

Stress Free

 The life of inner peace being harmonious and without stress is the easiest type of existence.

~~Norman Vincent Peale~~

A stress free life

Life How do we find a stress free life? Is this an impossible dream for us all? Is there any part of our lives that is truly stress- free? I am not so sure that there is. For is I look at our entry to life all I can see is stress. The mother is certainly stressed, the baby about to be born must be stressed for he or she is about to be thrown out of its cosy existence into a world unfamiliarity. It has spent the past nine months very cosy and warm and nourished thank you very much. So why should it want to be thrust into life at all. If we look around the delivery room there will be a few anxious midwives rushing around doing the things that mid wives do at these times of uncertainty and new delivery. Calming the parents to be the best they can and stabilising their own nerves I am sure. The very thought of that environment is stressful. Of course there is joy to follow for when the little chaps or chap-ess arrives there can be nothing but joy.  The poor little thing enters a world of stress and joy and then is slapped on the bottom for good measure.

More stress

Well this is the start of life for human beings and there is much of more of all that to follow in the years ahead. Stress and joy, to come in life and not in the same measure unfortunately. No one knows how the little new little person’s life will be. We all wish the new born the best and hope its life will be a good one. There is such hope pinned on the new born for its parents want it to be the embodiment of all of their hope and dreams.  A lot is placed on the shoulders of the new arrival. Already it has to live up to the parents expectations and it has only just arrived. No one tells the poor thing that this will be its start to life and if they did the child would probably say no thanks to life.

The start of life is not easy and it does not get any easier for as we travel through our lives and the twists and turns that it throws in our path life can sometimes be crushing for many people.

Of course not every one’s life is a crushing affair for many if not most it is an OK affair that is travelled through with a reasonable amount of dignity and grace. There are many lives and many kinds of people living those lives. All are different one from the other all have both the people and the lives. Do we make our life or does our life make us? I think that is an interesting question. In the industrialised west life is a fast paced noisy existence for all.

Life in the fast lane

As most people in industrialised  societies live their lives in the city, noise, people and stress are unavoidable. Life is fast paced and about productivity in all things. The cry of the city is fast more and more. It does not matter how fast you are you must be faster still and there is no end to the striving for an ever increasing pace in all things. I wonder to what cost this fast paced life we all must live is. For whom does it serve? Does it serve the person living this fast paced life does it truly serve society at large? I wonder this often and I am not sure I have the answer to this question. For it is true that the industrialised life we all live brings benefits to us but is that at a large price. Well time will tell of course if all of this stress will have been worth it. When I was a young child of the fifties modern medicine was the golden child of the twentieth century. It was going to eradicate disease and put all to rights. Well I am not sure that it has. It has done marvellous things of course we all are in no doubt about that. Many diseases that were the blight of the nineteenth century have almost been removed totally and that is a good thing.

Life of ease

If I look around at life I do not see this life of ease that was the promise of the twentieth century. Machines and objects were to bring us ease. The vacuum cleaner, the car, the electric lawn mower all are labour saving devices. People are as stressed and worried about life as they always were. They are still worrying about their economic position personal, national and global.

In amongst all of the financial uncertainty that we have all endured in over the past few years I see many stressed uncertain people trying to make sense of their lives life in general and what will happen to them in the future. I think rightly so, for who wants an uncertain future. Who wants to feel that they may lose their home or not be able to put food on the table?

An Interesting ride

I have seen many things come and go, mainly prime ministers and world leaders. Some have been good and some have been bad. Some have shouted for fairness equality and change and others have shouted for the status quo. All have had something to say on how life should be organised for the masses to the best effect.

Well it has been an interesting ride watching and listening I must say. However it seems to me that things do not change so much really. The same issues tax us all. We want to go about our lives unhindered in relative safety and peace. We want our basic needs met and a holiday or two on top. We all want normal things but those things come at a price. Those things come through the daily grind. The daily grind can do just that grind at you and grind you down if you let it.

Relax

So if life does not change much and we can expect the same amounts of stress what do we do? What is the trick to a stress free life? The first trick is to understand that stress is a necessary part of life.. The next is to learn to manage the stress that life throws at you. Now this is the tricky one. For how do we do that? Well what I can tell you is there are tools that you can learn to help with stress.  Things like meditation and hypnosis are good ways of managing stress. As well as breathing correctly and taking adequate sleep and rest. All help with levels of stress. The best one is to avoid stress as much as possible be walking away from stressful situations and not causing stressful encounters to be in your life. For stress causes many illnesses. It does so slowly over many years mostly. You will not notice the effects of stress on a day to day basis, but it builds up within the body slowly eating away at your health and vitality turning you into a grey shadow of your former self.  Oh how horrible!

I am sorry to paint such a picture which is not at all pleasant but neither is ill health. There are many ways to combat stress and each person must find the one that suits them the best.  Relax and do something nice and just don’t take life to heart or it may hurt your heart.

 

Nature & Nurture-a new twist

Our life choices affect our genes and so the genetic make- up of future generations

Our life choices affect our genes and so the genetic make- up of future generations

One of the things that we discuss frequently in our blogs and our book, Nourish the Flame Within, is the power of the environment around us and how it can profoundly affect our influence and well- being. We are not isolated beings. We are interconnected with our environment and that includes the people in our lives. There are factors that affect us in covert and overt ways. This has new meaning to me since reading Bruce Lipton’s book “The Biology of Belief”.

He argues that The Human Genome Project, started in the 1980s, was supposed to pave the way to our understanding of what it is to be human and how we would be able to cure ourselves of many of the diseases that blight our lives. Genes, found in the nucleus of every cell in the body, are made of DNA (deoxyribose nucleic acid). In the past, the nucleus has been thought of as the brain of the cell, master- minding and orchestrating the going’s on in each cell.

Evidence points to the contrary, including examples in which the nucleus of a cell is completely removed, experimentally, and still the cell survives for a couple of months. Indeed, red blood cells have no nucleus, yet effectively transport oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the cells of the body for approximately 100- 120 days (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_blood_cell)! What Lipton’s and others’ research have found is that the nucleus is more of a blueprint library of our potential, and that it is down to “environmental influences, including nutrition, stress and emotions” that effect what genes are expressed and when.

“Single- gene disorders affect less than 2% of the population; the vast majority of people come into this world with genes that should enable them to live a happy and healthy life” Lipton tells us and continues by saying that “today’s scourges- diabetes, heart disease and cancer- are not the result of a single gene, but of complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors.”

What is also fascinating is that these environmental conditions can change the chemical structure of the DNA that makes up our genes without actually changing the basic blueprint library. These changes can be passed on to our children. The developing science that studies these ideas is called Epigenetics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics) and it has contributed significantly to the nature and nurture discussion. Subtle chemical modifications to DNA that make up genes can lead to two thousand or more different forms of genes expressed.

There is still a lot more research that needs to be done, but we are learning that our daily choices affect not just our lives, but the lives of future generations. Mindful living I am confident will intuitively lead us to wise choices and greater well- being for all. I believe that deep down we know what is best for our present and our future and science will in time prove our intuitive actions to be wise and correct.

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

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Life is a bowl of cherries. Not necessarily for every one though. It depends on perspective. What is to one person good and happy circumstances would be the lowest of the low to another person. It is a bit like hot and cold water. Depending on our previous experiences the water temperature will be perceived differently.

Life is– vibrant and full of variety. Each cherry varies in colour, size and flavour and the enjoyment you derive from this variety depends on perspective.

Compare the colour of red cherries beside another red object or in front of a red background. How red are they? Now put them in front of a blue background. How red are the cherries now? In front of the red background, the cherries may seem to have lost their vibrancy. When placed in front of a blue background, the colour contrast renders their red colouring as vibrant and intense as can be. This is the power of perspective.119168579 - Copy

It is the difference in how we experience these everyday phenomena that informs our unique life perspective. The variety of experiences we encounter throughout our lives enrich us on a deep level – as they say, “variety is the spice of life.” If we resist opening ourselves up to different experiences, life is the same –same –same. Boring! To add vibrancy, we must embrace variety and recognise the power of perspective when tucking into life’s bowl of cherries.

Let’s take this analogy a bit further. How often do you think about how your life experiences impact you? Most of the time, we just experience without thought as to what experiences add to the quality of our lives. It is commonly thought that to be happy we must only have happy experiences. This is not true. We must have variety of experiences to make us whole, balanced people.

To achieve balance, the key once again is variety. Balanced people are whole because they are at one within themselves and not at odds with the variety of life’s experiences. A machine that is broken – in pieces – is not whole or in good working order. In seeking balance or restoration of “good working order” for ourselves, we must at some point come out of balance. We must tip one way and then the other to discover the correct equilibrium of experience and variety.

Going too far out of balance can cause trauma, but it is important to know that no one has to keep trauma. An individual decides within the fabric of their own being how much trauma they retain or release in any situation. When a trauma is so severe it has become deeply internalised, you must first decide that it is to be released and then set in motion the tools for implementing this release.

Meditation and hypnosis are excellent tools for such release. Hypnosis and meditation are bed fellows – they are very similar but offer direct benefits for the release of trauma.

Life can be whatever we wish it to be; as individuals we have power.  For the most part, each person is in control of their own ship. All is perspective and view point. Life’s cherries can look equally delicious set against a red or blue background. It is up to the individual to decide which background they prefer and why.

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.

Finding Peace

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Whatever you wish to achieve in life, it requires intention, focus, effort and perseverance.  Without these elements, you will not create a reason to do something or put in the work, time and dedication needed to make it happen.  There is a process of investment that leads to your desired outcome.

If there is a process of striving, how can you ever be at peace?

Once you reach your goal, do you not run the risk of stagnation?

These are the questions that bring the deeper meanings of martial arts out of the training hall and into the arena of daily living.  There are many schools of martial arts.  I can only talk of my own experience.  For many, martial arts are about fitness, for others about self defence.  Some do them for the competitive element and others enjoy the combative edge.  There is also the aspect of facing the fear of being hurt and the opportunity of dominating another through skill or even brute force.  Even the violence of the fight appeals to some people.

These are not what martial arts are about for me!!!!

I admit, fitness and self defence were the reasons I started and there was the element of conquering my fear every time I did my training- the unknown and the unexpected are powerful forces that can disturb the mind.  But very early on I realised there was a deeper element to martial arts that intrigued and fascinated me.  It went beyond the physical training and touched my mind, heart and spirit.  The greatest conflicts of life are of the mind.  Yes, the body can become injured, ill and diseased and thankfully there is an in- build repair and maintenance system at hand to take care of these situations.  The mind is an altogether different proposition and martial arts can give you the means to harness its power in a positive and life affirming way.

There are many centres to the mind- memory, visual, emotional, auditory, fear to name a few.  My study of psychology, no more than an amateur’s reading, and life experience helps me realise the power and intricacy of the human mind.  My professional research in neuroscience and nerve regeneration gives me some idea of the complexity of the human brain.  The details are staggering and I work much better with metaphors to illustrate complex ideas………  please join me on my current working analogies of the mind and brain.

You become what you focus on- if you are in the throes of new romance you feel consumed with love and all is well with the world; when you are about to do something you really don’t like, you might be filled with fear, apathy, worry or indifference.  Where your attention lies defines you in that moment.  I liken it to a flash light- your attention casts a focussed spot of light on the part of the mind it is aware of.  MRI scans of people’s brains taken while they perform certain activities demonstrates how specific centres of the brain light up (indicating increased local blood flow) inferring greater neurological (nerve cell) activity in that area.

In martial arts you learn how to control the awareness of the mind.  Do you think ahead or in the moment?  Do you allow yourself to be consumed with fear and self- doubt, or do you remain calm and alert?  Will you allow tiredness to lead to mistakes or remain focussed on the task at hand?  When learning techniques, will you allow yourself to be overwhelmed or will you break it down and learn it step by step?  These are all important questions that can be applied to a wider life context.

The options available are many, but simply break down into two categories: calmness and confusion.  The mind either focuses on the calm, still centre or its attention lies on the maelstrom of activity, emotion and confusion that spins around that centre.  If you think of it like a tornado, the destructive part is the violent wind of emotion (doubt and fear), confusion (a lack of perspective due to being tossed around beyond your control) and activity (trying to sort things out while you are in the storm).  The calm centre is more grounded and controlled, allowing you to see the emotional response for what it is, gaining better perspectives of the situation at hand and acting from a still place to sort out the situation.

Very often you find your attention or awareness in the outer, spinning wall of air and the resulting confusion.  What if you could shine your light of awareness on the still centre while the storms of life rage around you, allowing you to see with more clarity, make decisions with a better understanding of the broader perspectives and feel calm as you make your life choices and move your life forward in your desired direction?  If so, peace would always be yours.

It is simply a question of focussing the mind on peace.  To strive is to move forward, not to be in turmoil.  Peace is to remain centred in control of your attention, expanding your awareness and strengthening your power.  This column of peace in the centre of the tornado draws energy from the environment around it- up from the ground beneath it; down from the universe above and; in from the spinning world surrounding it.  This is how stagnation is avoided- the growing energy in the centre seeks outlets of creativity, enquiry, curiosity and endeavour ensuring that life becomes a journey of adventure, growing wisdom and endless learning- the true meaning and purpose of martial arts.

Coincidence and Synchronocity

I have noticed that these words have been banded about more frequently in recent years but until now I have struggled to place them in a context of a universe of flowing energy that sits right with my understanding.  They are referred to in books such as The Secret and The Celestine Prophecy Trilogy and by Deepak Chopra to name a few as if to imply that there is no apparent chance involved- that there is some background mechanism drawing these seemingly unrelated events together in a coordinated and meaningful way.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of coincidence is “remarkable concurrence of events apparently by chance” while the World English Dictionary defines synchronicity as “an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated”.

I work with subtle energy and have seen time and again the manner in which life situations shift and flow in different (and often in seemingly unrelated) ways as changes in attitude, understanding and response have far- reaching implications.  I am reminded of a client whose attitude to life consistently brought him to unfulfilling relationships, little satisfaction and poor results in work and study as well as an unhappy living environment.  Once working through the barriers that blocked the healthy energy flow in his mind, body and life he turned his entire life situation around in weeks:  he improved his grades from D’s and C’s to B’s and A’s, resigned from his previous job and began searching in earnest for something more suitable and fulfilling, moved to a beautiful ground floor apartment that was more appropriate for his son to visit and began a new relationship with a woman he felt was supportive of his continual growth and development.

My interpretation of this client’s situation is simply that the energy of his mind had been flowing in a way that was limiting and led to identical or similar outcomes, but once that energy flowed in new, empowering and life enhancing directions, his life began to blossom and bloom in ways he had only dreamed.  To him the transformation was remarkable.  To me it was the inevitable result of background mechanisms powered by shifts in energy flow from negativity to positivity and from limiting to empowering beliefs.  To him it was coincidence (or synchronous).  To me it was redirecting valuable energy from pathways that brought pain and unhappiness into pathways that meant he could “live the life he’d imagined” and at the same time reap unexpected and seemingly unrelated benefits in the bargain.

So what are these “background mechanisms” of which I speak?  Science tells us that everything is connected- all things are attracted to everything else in the universe through the force of gravity.  If everything is connected, then there is a relationship between all things in the universe.  Therefore, nothing is unrelated, nothing occurs by coincidence and events are not synchronous.  They simply appear to be so because we are unaware of the relationships between things or events.  These connections form an invisible network through which energy flows.  The strength of that energy relates to the strength of the connection- we may be aware of our connection to our children in the room next door, but unaware of our connection to some distant star in a neighbouring galaxy.  We tend to relate to these connections in an emotional way and indeed, emotion is a form of energy flow brought about by some connection between us and another.  We feel strong emotion when we have a powerful connection with someone- the energy surges and that energy can be directed towards anything we choose as long as we create a strong connection to it.  The client I mentioned earlier redirected the energy of his thinking and in so doing changed his relationship and the strength of his connection to his son, work, studies, home environment and significant relationship.  Such internal changes may have other unforeseen affects- he may enter into a more fulfilling career path, command a greater salary and more responsibility, become a more inspiring role model for friends and family (not least his son) and someone upon whom others can rely.

There may be health benefits, both mental and physical.  A mind more intimately connected to and in harmony with, its environment is more calm and centred.  Therefore stress and its effects on health will be limited.  The calmness he feels will also affect the people around him, making him more likely to have friends and fulfilling relationships, make him more likely to be hired by a new company or promoted in his existing one.  The possibilities are endless and unknown at the moment, but I do not believe they are unrelated.

Finally, what if we are making stronger connections with things we are not aware of, so that we attract into our lives the things we need to be able to take the next step forward?  What if those things are there all the time but we did not notice them- opportunities missed because we did not see them?  By shifting the way we think, redirecting the energy of the mind, we strengthen new connections and become aware of new choices- things we were oblivious to beforehand.

From birth I have had limited strength and movement in one of my shoulders.  I have worked hard not to allow this to be an issue as I have always been active and not wanted to use it as an excuse for being unable to do something.  In the main that has been the case, but it has only got me so far.  Recently I found the compassion to give myself a break about it which seemed to coincide with a deluge of commercial opportunities that have profound financial and business- related benefits.  Whether the self- compassion opened the connection to the opportunities or the opportunities were a chance for me to express self- compassion I do not know.  What I do know is that my life is flowing in new and fascinating directions that I had not envisaged- the kind of excitement that comes from embracing life’s opportunities and feeling the flow of energy of life all around me.

Peace

To stay in a place of peace and harmony keeps the chakras in good health.

To stay in a place of peace and harmony keeps the chakras in good health.

Why is peace important to our health?

Who doesn’t want peace?  21st of September 2014 is peace day. This is a day of getting as many people as possible in the world to commit to peace, both globally and within their own lives and families. The day asks who you will make peace with. There are many people who have been in my life that I feel I could make peace with. Past hurts and past mistakes haunt us all I am sure, or at least some of us at some point in our lives.

The most important person to make peace with may be our selves. We can send peace to others and hope that they will accept it, but whether they do or not is up to them. The only person that each of us has any real control over is ourselves. Past hurts can live with us a long time and they can be very negatively impactful on our emotions and in turn our physical health. Holistic healers believe that all ill health starts with unsettled emotions. It is the stresses and strains of daily life that take their toll on us eventually. Each person has his or her own tolerance level to the negative things that may befall them within life. We all may have some hurt or difficulty along the way in life. We all have different experiences though we will share many of them as similar experiences and deal with them in our individual manner. What one person will brush off as nothing another will find negatively impactful and will suffer in some way as a result.

If there is any truth in the belief that stressed emotions are the root cause of much ill health then it would also follow that it is best to keep oneself in a state of peace and calm for as much of our time as possible. We are all human and we will react to all situations with some degree of emotion. Life itself is about interacting with life, and we will react to those interactions in many ways.  It would not be right to do otherwise because that is part of our humanity. However to allow oneself to be extremely stressed for a great deal of the time can only be harmful to us in the long run. If we are unduly stressed for a great deal of time that will also impact on other people that interact with us. That will tax them and their emotions as well as ours as they interact with us. In turn as they become stressed with our stress they will send that stress back in our direction and so we have a circle of stress and a downward spiral of ill health in many people.

What role do the chakras play in our peace?

Chakras are said to be spinning wheels of energy and when they are spinning in the correct way, to a correct intensity and direction they are in alignment with each other and the person. It is said and thought by holistic healers that to be well and healthy the chakras must be balanced correctly. There are many ways of balancing the chakras. We can balance the chakras with sound, colour, Reiki energy, crystal energy and even symbols amongst other things. Each chakra has a purpose. That purpose is integral to the well-being of the body.  They are points of activity within our bodies. Our mind is a place of mental activity and spiritual connection. Our thoughts are a powerful thing. They are a tool that will work for us or against us. If we change our thoughts we change our reactions to a given situation and in turn our emotions will change. So there is a connection with our crown chakra and our heart chakra. If we have negative thoughts they will impact our heart chakra as that is where our emotions lay. Once we have one or two chakras out of alignment the others will follow to a greater or lesser degree as they will try to compensate for the misalignment. So in time all chakras will suffer and be to a greater or lesser degree out of balance.

To stay in a place of peace and harmony keeps the chakras in good health. To be happy, breezy and peaceful will have a positive impact on the body as the chakras will be more likely to stay in alignment.

What are the chakra points?

We have seven major chakra points within our body that are spinning wheels of energy. They run in a line from the base of the spine to the top of the head.  We have many chakra points within our bodies. We have major chakra points and minor ones also. The seven major chakra points are the most important ones within our bodies. Each chakra point has its own location and job to do within the body. They are locations of energy activity. To be honest our whole body is a location of energy activity. Everyone’s body functions by means of energy. The body is energy interacting with energy. The chakras are just small portions of that larger energy reality and function of our body.

The base chakra is located at the base of the spine.

The sacral chakra is located at the position just under the tummy button or the lower tummy area.

The solar plexus is the area just at the upper tummy under the bust.

The heart is located at the heart area.

The throat is at the front neck area at the throat itself.

The third eye is located in the middle of the forehead.

The crown is located on the very top of the head.

The chakras are positions within the body of intense energy activity, this activity is our thinking and spiritual connection, imagination and seeing of pictures, speech, feeling, connection to the world and other people, procreation, and connection to the earth. That breaks it down to its absolute basic. All of these parts of our body are different and have different functions. To me it really does not matter if the reality is or is not that they are spinning wheels of energy. The fact is they are locations within the body and each has a function. These functions are integral to our health and well- being physically and emotionally. So to keep these parts of our body well and healthy is a must. It is a matter of keeping our thoughts, emotions and actions in check for balance. Peace both within the person and outside of the person brings harmony and in turn balanced health.

“Best wishes from Lynette as you continue to peacefully nourish the flame within.”