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Meditation for Beginners: How to Jump-Start your Practice

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Author: Devon
www.atinybitcrunchy.com 


devonMeditation for Beginners: How to Jump-Start your Practice.

When I first tried to meditate, I hated it. I remember sitting in my room, trying to think of absolutely nothing. I’d been taught that this is what meditation was; complete nothingness. How do I think of nothing? By thinking about thinking about nothing, aren’t I thinking about something?
This is what I had been taught. Sitting in my grade nine Social Studies classroom, my teacher was explaining meditation practices of Eastern cultures. Though now I realize she was mistaken in her understanding of meditation. A curt French lady, she probably had no time for this meditation nonsense, and wanted to press on with her curriculum (sorry, Mme H.). We sat in agitated silence for about two minutes, as people looked around, shifted in their chairs, and stifled exasperated sighs and yawns. Our “meditation” was complete, and we pressed on.
This experience has stuck with me, and I believe scared me off of meditation for a long time. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t quiet my mind. I failed at meditating.
The next time I tried meditation was in a yoga class. I was about seventeen, and went with a friend to try out yoga at the local rec centre. Once again, I hated it. What is this Savassana nonsense? I had no time for stillness. Stillness was not productive, I thought.
Years later, I’ve grown to love and cherish my meditation practise. These moments, whether for a minute or an hour, are so special to me and an integral part of my mental health. It was a big learning curve to get to where I am now with my practise, and I’d like to share some tips with you to make your exploration of meditation a little bit easier.

vancouver-meditationStart Small
Often I hear of people trying to shut off their brains for twenty minutes right from the get-go. While twenty minutes might be a nice goal, it can be a setup for failure for your first try. Try just five minutes at first. I find timers really helpful in lots of areas of life, and I sometimes like to set a timer for my meditation practise as well. Allow yourself 3-5 minutes at first, then build up to ten, fifteen, and beyond.

Limit Distractions
This might seem like a no-brainer when trying to quiet the brain, but as most North Americans live these days, distractions are basically inherrent. Our mind is rampant with lists; to-do’s, groceries, schedules, and the like. Music may be playing; perhaps the TV is on in another room. Pets are making noise, children are making noise, all the noise, noise, noise. I suggest wearing earplugs or headphones at first. I continue to wear headphones in my daily meditation practise; it helps my thoughts stay in my own head. I imagine the earbuds as bookends, holding my thoughts between them, shutting out the outside world. I also like to dim or turn off the lights to limit visual stimulation, and make sure to find a comfortable seated or laying position before I start, so as not to be pulled out of my meditation by bodily distractions.

Try Guided Meditation
I know, I know, I just told you to limit distractions, and YouTube can definitely be a distraction. It can also be a wonderful tool, and there are some really great guided meditations found online. Meditation doesn’t have to mean complete nothingness in the brain; for me, it just means I am in a quieted state of deep relaxation and realization. Guided meditations can be great for beginners and veterans alike, as they give the brain some sort of direction to follow, while inducing a calm, introspective state.

Here are some of my favorite YouTube channels for guided meditations:

Michael Sealey: https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelSealey

Jason Stephenson: https://www.youtube.com/user/ILoveJuicyShow

Meditation Relax Club: https://www.youtube.com/user/meditationrelaxclub

There are many more available; search guided meditation in the YouTube search bar, and hundreds will pop up. Sometimes you’ll have to fish around a bit for one you like. Not every meditation will feel right to you, and sometimes, a meditation you’ve loved one day can feel like it clashes with your soul the next. The body is a great guide… listen to it!

vancouver-meditationFocus on the Senses
Focusing on the senses can be a great way to bring us into the present moment, which is a big part of what meditation is all about. This is a big principle of mindfulness, which uses the principals of observation, description, and acceptance of our current environment. We can use mindfulness in our lives at any time, such as when eating a meal, brushing your teeth, or at work.

You can even try some mindfulness right now:

What do you hear? Find three different sounds. Is the furnace pumping? Can you hear rain outside? Is your cat meowing? Is your stomach gurgling? Are you kids playing?

What do you smell? Find at least one smell. Is there coffee brewing? Is there something cooking? Can you smell your perfume, your deodorant, your shampoo?

What do you see? Find three different textures or patterns. Are your carpets patterned? Are your drapes ruffled? Are your pants wrinkled? Can you follow the grain of your wooden floor?

What do you feel? Find three textures using touch. Try feeling around with your hands. Are your jeans cold? Are your carpets rough? What are the textures around you?

What do you taste? Try to feel at least one tastes sensation. Have you just brushed your teeth? Can you still taste your morning coffee? Is your chapstick sweet?

Focusing on the senses is a great way to take a break from everything going on around you, and feel the moment in your body.  The exercise above can also be a great way to calm worries in moments of anxiety.

Focus on your Breath
Focusing on our breath is a great way to ground ourselves and become aware of our own bodies. This doesn’t have to be any time of fancy practice. Try breathing into different parts of your lungs. Do I sound crazy yet?
Try breathing quick and shallow, and you’ll notice that it feels like the breath is going into your upper chest. Try breathing while focusing on the heart region, and you’ll feel your chest rise. Try breathing into your diaphragm, and your stomach will expand. This diaphragmatic breathing is what we aim for when meditating. Focus on the feeling of cool air entering through your nose, and warm air exiting through your mouth. Experiment with making your exhale last longer than your inhale.
Another tool is counting and visualizing your breath. Picture a perfect square in your mind’s eye. As you inhale, picture a dot travelling up the first side of the square to a count of 4. As the dot rounds the corner, hold your breath for a count of 4 as the dot travels across the top of your square. As your dot hits the next corner, exhale to a count of 4. Your dot is now in the bottom corner; hold for a count of 4 to complete the square. Repeat as many times as you like.

vancouver-bc-meditation-learning

Be Gentle with Yourself
When it all comes down to it, there is no right way to meditate. Meditation really has no rules; it is not a competition, nor something you can be graded on. This is your practice. Experiment, play with different methods, and find what works for you. What works for you may change and evolve over time, and that’s totally OK. The ultimate goal is to find peace, space, and quiet in the mind. However you get there is really up to you.

I hope that these tips have sparked you to try to find your own version of meditation. Stay tuned for future posts about my own meditation practise, use of props, and other ways I find my own meditative state. I’d love to hear what works for you guys, and anything about your experience that you’d like to share.
Until next time,

devon
Devon
www.atinybitcrunchy.com

 


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More than a foot massage: Reflexology

reflexology-chartThe ‘walking’ technique has been the default setting for reflexology since Eunice Ingham first described it in her seminal book, Stories the Feet Can Tell, published in 1938.  Since that time it has undergone various interpretations and dilutions. 
 
The prime objective of reflexology is to detect disturbed reflexes and apply the appropriate contact.  In a recent blog I made the point that reflexology has something of an Alice in Wonderland quality when it comes to the detection of reflexes: not everything is as it seems.  It is impossible to make a reliable reflex assessment and give the appropriate contact by using only one technique.  Reflexology is not a ‘one size fits all’ therapy. 

And yet, this is how most reflexologists practise.  Erroneous practice protocols are based on this notion.  Case histories and even research evidence are drawn from this one-dimensional approach. 
 
A comparison can be made with the Indian parable of the five blind men and the elephant.  It was suggested that each of them feel a different part of the elephant.  To the one who felt the trunk it felt like the branch of a tree.  To the one who touched the tail it felt like a snake or a rope.  To the one who touched the ear it felt like a fan, and so forth.  In the same way, each reflexology technique reveals only one perspective or layer of the reflexes.
 
To make a comprehensive assessment of disturbed reflexes it is essential that, in addition to walking, a range of techniques is used.  This can only be achieved by using the fingers, thumbs and hands in a variety of ways.  It was with this in mind that I conceived a protocol that became known as ART (Advanced Reflexology Techniques) in 1983. The techniques have been steadily developed ever since, and now include Focused Reflexology©

Another important factor is the depth of contact. Reflexology has mainly become identified as only something to lull the patient into a somnolent state. This may have a use in a spa setting, but this approach does not explore the full therapeutic potential of the therapy. This can be achieved by a more focused and positive approach.

reflexology-chartART Techniques
The fingers and thumbs can be used in ways other than walking: there are variations of contact such as static, pulsing and sliding.  Sometimes lubrication can be used, but in a specific and frugal way.  It should not be used in conjunction with the walking techniques.
 
This is why it is important to begin a treatment without lubrication. 
   
Without lubrication
Working without lubrication reveals certain types of reflexes, enabling a range of contacts to be made.  For instance, thumb walking can be used with manual flexing of the foot, or the application of pulsed and static contacts.

The dorsal/lateral surfaces of the feet are generally neglected in traditional reflexology, yet they contain a matrix of therapeutic reflex areas.  Again, these are best contacted without the use of lubrication.  Focused movements which move the skin over the skeletal structures of the dorsum, and a static application of the same contact, can only be performed without lubrication.  The same goes for the dorsal surfaces of the toes, another neglected area which elicits a powerful response that can be felt throughout the body of the patient.
Effective contact of these areas can only be achieved through controlled and focused contact of the fingers.

Lubrication
Lubrication can be used for specific techniques and adds other dimensions to the treatment.  The dorsal/lateral areas can be contacted effectively in a different way with lubrication, using specific focused techniques.  This also applies to the dorsal areas of the toes.  Lubrication is not necessary for every patient; it depends on the type of foot, texture and other factors.  If used, it must be used very sparingly, or the treatment will become more of a foot massage.
 
The use of different types of contact and stimulus reveals a new perspective to the potential of reflexology as a therapy.  Like discovering buried treasure, these contacts will reap rich therapeutic rewards.  Having a range of techniques, literally at your fingertips, enables the individual reflex textures in all variations of feet to be detected and contacted effectively.  Once experience of these alternative ways of working has been gained, a different world of reflexology will be revealed, not only to your benefit but, most importantly, to the patient.

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How do essential oils help?

aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the practical use of pure essential oils. Essential oils have both an aromatic benefit from the plant but the oils also have such fantastic therapeutic properties that nature has given us to create some truly amazing products.

Apart from a great aroma and amazing sensory triggers, essential oils also have the ability to help restore balance.

Essential oils can come from many parts of plants such as roots, bark, flowers or seeds. Each essential oil has multiple properties, each has the ability to HYDRATE, DETOXINATE and OXYGENATE the skin, as a result essential oils are great to use and formulate into both skin and body care.

How do essential oils help? Essential oils consist of many naturally occurring chemical constituents referred to as the plants life force. They enhance homeostasis of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels of well being.   

They enter our system through our nose, skin, mouth (to stomach) and lungs. Tiny essential oil particles are drawn into the nose. Then through our amazing, complex nervous system, messages are transmitted up to the limbic system of our brain where memory and emotions are controlled. Signals conveyed affect digestive, sexual and behavioral systems of body.

Scents have the ability to act as a trigger and can help people remember past experiences. Ever smelt baking and been reminded of a favorite past experience? Or maybe the scent of a Daphne bush or favorite rose reminds you of your grandmother?
 
aromatherapyOur brain registers aroma twice as fast as it does pain. This is why the inhalation of aromas can so powerfully transform our emotions. Smell is the only sense that bypasses the blood brain barrier to the central nervous system. This can be working when you are unaware or unconscious.   
 
Via our skin, particles enter our blood stream, reaching organs and tissues organs with time to absorb ranging from 20 minutes to several hours with the effects lasting up to several days. Likewise through our breath, then into our blood stream to be taken around body – eucalyptus inhalation is a well know example.

Effects are many. Oils may be relaxing, uplifting, an anti-depressant, bring about positive thinking and well being, relieve stress and anxiety to name a few. They can also increase circulation, lower or raise blood pressure, assist with lymphatic drainage, muscle tension or change appetite plus much more.

So back to my question – did the use of essential oils help? Firstly I made up a specific blend for mum in a hand cream including Melissa, Geranium and Roman Chamomile which I chose for their calming, harmonizing and soothing properties. The cream not only feeds her skin, but the therapeutic properties of the oils are absorbed into her bloodstream.  Next I offer mum a massage when I visit with an aromatherapy synergy blend. This helps to calm the nervous system, eases bodily aches and pains and importantly fills the space if conversation is not flowing. There is no need to talk, we are simply “being” and connecting. The therapeutic benefits of the oils are many and are helpful for me also as the journey of life continues to unfold for us both.  

This is generalized information only, please consult a qualified Aromatherapist for a personalize plan specific to your situation. Never stop taking your medication without first seeking medical advice.
 
NOTE: Some essential oils can interfere with medications such as St. John’s Wort or Grapefruit.

 

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Hypnotherapy – Naturopath – Homeopathy – Massage Therapy –Aromatherapy – Physiotherapy – Spiritual Therapy – AcupunctureChiropractor – Bach Flower Remedies – Reiki – ShiatsuOhashiuatsuAyurveda – ReflexologyPsychotherapyKinesiology – Dance/Movement TherapyMusic Therapy –
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Massage: relieve pain and suffering from woman with endometriosis

endometriosisAre you one of the many women that has or will suffer from endometriosis in your lifetime? Or a partner or family member of one? It’s estimated that 1 out of 10 or as high as 1 in 5 women will suffer from endometriosis.


Endometriosis can have extremely severe, detrimental effects for women and in turn, these negative effects ripple out to partners, family, friends, work colleagues; the list goes on leaving significant negative consequences on many people’s lives.


Endometriosis  is a gynecological disorder where the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) develops in other sites of the body. Stray cells of the endometrium escape into the pelvic cavity and attach to pelvic organs. Large patches of endometriosis may form into cysts and these bleed each month when a women has her period. As there is nowhere for the blood to go each month, it accumulates on the pelvic organs, scar tissue forms and eventually the pelvic organs stick together. For most women, it goes from bad to worse over time. Despite there being several theories the cause remains unknown. It may be genetic, immunological or hormonal; stress appears to be a significant factor.

endometriosisSymptoms vary hugely between women from none at all to painful menstruation, lower abdominal pain and back pain. The pain experienced varies from dull aching, spasmodic or cramping with some women experiencing a feeling of deep pressure in the abdomen. Others suffer from bowel and digestive problems. Irregular and heavy periods to painful sexual intercourse are symptoms effecting three out of four women with endometriosis. 40% of all women with endometriosis have difficulty falling pregnant and one third of all sufferers are infertile. All of these symptoms add up to a devastating effect for women often leading to self esteem issues and adversely effecting a woman’s sexuality and relationships. Add to this the extensive cost to society for days off work, lost productivity and the mounting cost to the health system let alone the detrimental effect on the sufferers bank balance! The pain itself can cause harmful side effects and can affect concentration and mental clarity just as profoundly as any drugs.    

Conventional medical treatment for endometriosis includes drug therapy. This can be successful however lesions sometimes reoccur when the sufferer stops taking the drugs. The drugs used have negative side effects with 85% of patients experiencing male like characteristics. This continues the cycle of increased stress for the sufferer along with feelings of hopelessness and depression. Some also experience weight gain, high blood pressure and joint problems. Painkillers are the norm for pain relief and with that comes their know side effects. The oral contraceptive pill is also used as treatment.

Surgery is an option to remove lesions with a hysterectomy the last resort – even this is not always the end to endometriosis. Pregnancy was thought to help however some women report no change or even a worsening of symptoms.

endometriosisFor many, drug therapy and surgery is not the desired treatment. So what are some safe, natural alternatives to these two options and do they work?  One study reported in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, The effects of Massage Therapy on Dysmenorrhea caused by Endometriosis states “According to the results of this study and confirmations of other ones, it seems that massage therapy can be a fitting method to reduce the menstrual pain caused by endometriosis”.


Further research I’ve undertaken supports this study. One Remedial Massage Therapist I interviewed identified six clients with the disorder. She stated all had reported significant stress in their lives and massage assisted with this aspect. She herself had been diagnosed with it and at the time was in a dysfunctional abusive relationship. The relationship ended, she has not suffered from it since supporting the correlation to Mind Body Spirit in relation to wellness. While two other massage therapists I interviewed have not experienced patients with the disease, massage and therapeutic touch is undoubtedly helpful in relieving pain, anxiety and stress. 

A second aspect to investigate is Aromatherapy Massage. Massage with Aromatherapy works on an emotional, physical and spiritual level. It is gentle, encouraging physiological absorption of essential oils into the blood stream, encouraging our nervous system to relax.

Essential oils are potent substances being the plants “life force”. A trained Aroma therapist can incorporate essential oils into a massage blend using oils with analgesic and antispasmodic properties. Examples being nutmeg, clary sage and Roman chamomile which may be used in a massage blend over the abdomen and hips regions. There are many other amazing essential oils all with their own therapeutic properties which could be used. It’s important to choose oils which resonate with the receiver at a mind body spirit level, thereby enhancing their overall wellbeing. I have given clients a personalised blend to take home within my practice including instructions on self tummy and lower back massage. As a result, clients have reported a greater calmness and reduction in pain. This action appears to assist the client in regaining some personal power, at the same time connecting in with their own body in an area which is often closed down.  

A third tool for the massage therapists toolkit is acupressure. The release of specific acupressure points relative to the pelvic and reproductive organs can be incorporated into a massage session. The stimulation of acupressure points helps reduce pain and discomfort by relaxing muscular tension, balancing the bodies energy system and increasing the body’s production of endorphins, our feel good hormones. Polarity therapy can also assist, promoting deep relaxation and revitalisation of the body’s energy system. Both of these therapies assist in treating “the whole person” not just the immediate area of pain.     

endometriosisUndoubtedly, touch therapies work in partnership with the body to promote well being. While deep abdominal, or pelvic massage may be very painful, provided normal massage protocols are adhered to regular massage can improve immunity to illness, promote relaxation and self healing plus enhance the effectiveness of other treatments.  Massage is a safe, effective, non invasive, holistic treatment for endometriosis. I would certainly question the cost to benefit ratio of a regular massage as opposed to the treatment options frequently promoted.


Nutrition – both our primary foods (exercise, career, spirituality, relationships) and secondary food (the food on our plate) all play a vital role in the management of endometriosis. 

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Cold and Flu Season…What do you do?

coldBlack Elderberry – the solution for the cold and flu.
The Black Elderberry has a strong heritage and was referred to as ‘medicine chest’ by Hippocrates (400BC). References to the healing berry can be traced back to the Egyptians who had the tincture buried with them, and the Greeks who took it into battle with them to keep their army well. It has even made its way into literature: did you know the most powerful wand in Harry Potter is made of Sambucus and is known as the ‘Elder Wand’?
Elderberry extract has been used for centuries by herbalists and is renowned for its ability to destroy infectious cold and flu viruses.

http://www.blackelderberry.info/

Manuka Honey

Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native manuka bush.

Advocates say it treats wound infections and other conditions.

We takes a look at what the science says about using manuka honey as a medicine.

Healing Power of Honey

Honey has been used since ancient times to treat multiple conditions. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that researchers discovered that honey has natural antibacterial qualities.

Honey protects against damage caused by bacteria. Some honey also stimulates production of special cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. In addition, honey has an anti-inflammatory action that can quickly reduce pain and inflammation once it is applied.
But not all honey is the same. The antibacterial quality of honey depends on the type of honey as well as when and how it’s harvested. Some kinds of honey may be 100 times more potent than others.

Components of Manuka Honey
Hydrogen peroxide is a component of honey. It gives most honey its antibiotic quality. But some types of honey, including manuka honey, also have other components with antibacterial qualities.

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/manuka-honey-medicinal-uses

Now that you have the above information that is scientific and or historical…, I will tell you about an experiment to see if any of the above is true.

NOTE: DO NOT TAKE IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO HONEY OR ELDERBERRIES.

coldOn a Friday evening around 7:00 p.m. my nose started to drip on the left side like a faucet. Most annoying kind of “cold” starter. No matter how many times you blow your nose it still runs. That one spot in your nose has an endless supply of liquid. Easiest thing to do is roll a tissue and plug that side of the nose up. Why? soaks up the liquid and the liquid does not run down your throat.

I have Manuka honey in the house and Sambucol which has the black elderberry extract in it… so I said to myself… “I can try out this experiment myself.”

That night I took a half of teaspoon of the Sambucol Black Elderberry (Orig. Formula) and it did not taste bad and that was it. Next day, Saturday… now both sides of my nose were dripping. I have both sides with tissues in each nostril and look like a walrus.

Saturday, I started the manuka honey MGO 400+ and I only take the very end of a teaspoon … maybe an 8th of a teaspoon. It is powerful and I feel a person does not need to take that much. The taste is familiar like it was in some kind of cough syrup as a child. I keep manuka honey from Manuka Health MGO 400+ in the house to use for anything from burns to pimples. And I took another teaspoon of the Sambucol. That is it. I took it in the middle of the afternoon… not twice a day and not at night. Nose is still dripping… sneezing… and voice started to sound hoarse.

coldSunday…, voice is back…, nose is dripping less…, still sneezing…, and still hungry and no fever. I feel by starting this above two ingredients right away… I saved myself from fever and probably the worst flu and cold combo that is going around. Still taking an 8th of a teas. of honey and a teaspoon of the Sambucol… next day Monday.

Monday… dripping nose gone, a sneeze now and then, and I feel fine. All is gone but will take the honey and sambucol for another day and that should be it.

Now I have had these dripping nose colds before and never has it ever been gone in 3 days flat. So in my opinion I think that it worked fine for me to use this combo for any future colds and or flu. Oh yes, I also took a half of a blood orange per day for vitamin C and one kid’s Choc. Pediasure for vitamins and minerals.

Try to go as natural as possible for cures…

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Stress

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Are panicky feelings, stress and anxiety having a devastating effect on your life?

When you think about it, the symptoms we display when feeling stressed, anxious or when we are in a panic, are all quite natural ‘fight or flight’ responses that as humans we all have. In our early evolution, it was a life saving response. When we came across a predator, we had to do one of two things – stay and fight it, or run away as quickly as possible.

The thing is that as a society, we have generally moved on – we no longer have to fight in the literal sense to survive. However, we do have other things to do in our everyday lives, that although might not be considered life threatening, seem to have taken the place of that sabre-toothed tiger in the way we react to them.

hypnotherapy vancouver bc lazzaro pisu

So, things such as presentations at work, social situations and interviews, for example can all lead to stress. In some instances a small amount of stress can be a good thing. A little adrenaline running through the bloodstream can help us perform better. The problems can arise when we seem to be almost in a constant state of alert. Whether you are feeling stressed because of something happening in your life today, something in your past, or a combination of the two, I can help you to deal with the stress in the best way for you, using techniques that you can quickly learn – tools for life. We will, at the same time be tackling the reason that stress is a problem for you in the first place – whatever that reason is.

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Sometimes when stress has been present for an amount of time, this can lead to anxiety, and anxiety can lead to panic. When you have anxiety, often you may be suffering inside about something that is external to you and usually beyond your control. We can work on ways that show you that you can have control over the feelings you have. Once you realize you can take back control, you could be surprised at just how easily you can get any feelings of panic in their rightful place once again.

That panic feeling may be frightening, but it is not life-threatening and it will pass quickly. The good news is that you can take control of the stresses and anxieties in your life to make panic and debilitating anxiety a thing of the past.

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Depression

hypnotherapy-vancouverDepression is generally better described by its symptoms than its causes; after all, each individual has their own story.  It is most often marked by feelings of hopelessness,low self-worth and a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.

Troubled sleep, low energy, poor concentration, lack of appetite – any or all of these may also be present. Depression can result in a failure to meet responsibilities (financial, etc.), a loss of relationships, and at worst contemplation or attempts at suicide.

As society’s knowledge of mental issues expands, depression is being demystified and more openly talked about. The stigma is not what it used to be. However, there are still many people who experience a sense of shame or guilt around their depression and this is more a hindrance than a help toward healing.

anxietyHow does hypnotherapy help?

At International Healing Clinic we appreciate that you may have never spoken about your depression with anyone before, and we hold in high regard your bravery in seeking assistance. Through open and understanding conversation we can begin to bring light to an otherwise dark state of existence. Just unburdening yourself can make a world of difference.

 

The biggest benefits, however, come by way of the hypnosis-facilitated therapy. We work at the subconscious root of your depression to effect deep, lasting, positive changes. These are benefits are extended by waking-state rational discussions and behavioral interventions, making for a well-rounded approach to healing. This allows you to move freely towards a brighter future.

For an effective and compassionate approach to healing your depression, call International Healing Clinic at 604 202 7938.

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