Body, Mind And Spiritual Wellness

We’ve found the best certified therapists to help you achieve health and wellness. The focus is on becoming mentally and physically healthy, living life with a focus on wellbeing and developing resilience. BODY, MIND AND SPIRITUAL WELLNESS IS A STYLE OF LIFE. It’s never too late to start living life with 100% wellness and without limitations. Discover the process of wellness therapy with peace, joy and love. Start Now!

Wellness tips to take the chill out of winter

Bring out the cosy duvet and fuzzy bed socks: winter is here. As the sun sets earlier and the temperatures drop, many of us soothe ourselves with unhealthy comfort foods and hibernate. But we aren’t bears that check out until spring: we humans need to keep our bodies moving and nourished daily. There are simple things we can do to keep moving and get the right nutrients to boost immunity and moods this season.

When our body temperatures drop, eating and drinking habits change. There’s a biological reason for this: we will eat more to boost our body temperature and produce inner heat. You may find when you exercise outdoors in winter and shiver, you race to find warm food. We burn up to 400 calories by shivering. So we naturally want to eat more in winter, but our food choices make the difference between extra kilos and fitting into summer swimwear. The opposite of this is our sense of thirst decreases in winter because we aren’t sweating as regularly, so we tend to drink less and become dehydrated. We may feel more fatigued and experience mind fog from loss of fluids.

Moods in winter may be affected by seasonal affective disorder, a type of seasonal mood, in which less sunshine contributes to low moods and lethargy. We may not be getting enough of the hormone vitamin D which comes mainly from the sun. Optimal vitamin D levels are important for functions including moods, immunity, hormone production, strong bones and muscle recovery. Early nights mean less time spent outdoors in the sunshine in winter, which may leave us feeling down, so we tend to boost moods with alcohol, caffeine and junk foods. While these provide momentary ‘pick me ups’, they do not provide sustained energy and mood support.

Given our bodies crave more calories in darker months, healthy winter foods could include:
Hearty soups and stews, made with a variety of vegetables. By filling up on a variety of vegetables, we feel fuller for longer. Try turkey, beef or vegetarian chili for a satisfying dish.
Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits for extra immune-boosting benefits. Grapefruit and mandarins are great winter choices, which can be juiced or added to smoothies, or even squeezed into hot mugs of water and sipped for an invigorating start to the day.
Healthy fats, such as olive or avocado oil drizzled on vegetables, or white fish or salmon steamed and topped with butter and herbs with steamed veggies on the side. Nuts, boiled eggs and seeds are healthy snacks for in between meals. Omega 3 from oil, fish and nuts help supports our brains, hearts and may even help deter winter dry skin and eczema.
Root vegetables like kumara, celeriac, garlic, onion, parsnips, beets, carrots and baby potatoes. These ground-based veggies are full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C, B and A for immune system support.
WINTERBecause we have less thirst, winter drinks could include:
Fresh slices of ginger or lemon in hot water with a teaspoon of manuka honey for vitamin C and antibacterial properties, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for metabolism boost. Ginger is also wonderful for our circulation.
Hot turmeric milk – with almond and coconut milk, a dash of turmeric, and a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – is a body warming drink with antioxidant properties. In colder months, joints and arthritis may feel stiffer, but turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and may help make joints more mobile.
Dried rosehip and hibiscus tea contains flavonoids, antioxidants and high levels of vitamin C, making this an excellent choice for immunity support.

Winter nutritional supplements recommended:
Vitamin D, 5000 IUD daily is my recommendation for the winter months, due to the lack of skin exposure to sun. This is important for everyone, but particularly critical for darker skin as there is a tendency to absorb less vitamin D naturally from the sun with more melanin pigment in the skin.

If not consuming fatty fish at least twice weekly, 2000mg of pure omega 3 fish oil is recommended for its potential boost to brain, heart and skin health in winter. Topical application of plant or mineral-based skincare helps to restore moisture due to the impact of dry air from heaters.
Zinc, vitamin C, astralagus and echinacea can all be helpful immune supporting nutrients.

Winter exercise tips include:
If getting outside, layers of clothing to keep body heat in and remove as you warm up. Amazingly our bodies can heat up to tropical level by wearing the right clothing during aerobic exercise even in the coldest weather.

Interval training is a good option to help contribute to weight loss and boosting testosterone for men. This means jogging at a good pace to get the heart moving for 1 minute, then walking at a moderate pace for 3 minutes. Repeat three times. Incorporate a 10-minute warm up and cool down of gentle walking to this 30-minute total programme. Try this 3 non-consecutive times weekly.
If you prefer to be active inside, buy a yoga mat and search on YouTube for free workouts, or seek out a good set of weights you can store in the back bedroom or garage and do a 30-minute resistance set. Music motivated? Turn up some of your favourite beats and boogie for a good 20-30 minutes straight to burn some serious calories or find your local Zumba class for a more social time.
For best results, aim for 4-5 times weekly exercise of 30 minutes’ duration.
Don’t forget if you are about to do aerobic exercise, drink two glasses of water prior to activity and one glass just after to keep hydration in check.

Combine the above tips with 8 hours of sleep nightly, warm baths to support circulation, hot stone massages and saunas, daily pet cuddles, and regular 15-minute mindfulness/meditation practice, and you are on your way to resisting hibernation and choosing the most proactive, healthy winter yet. Keep warm and enjoy!

This gallery contains 1 photo.

1 Comment


earFrom a medical perspective tinnitus is classified as a condition, not a disease. In other words it is not contagious, even though there is a suggestion that there may be familial patterns of occurrence in some families. You may experience uncontrolled and unwanted sounds such as ringing, hissing, clicking, rushing, roaring, pulsating or tapping.

Tinnitus is, however, more than one condition because the causes, signs and symptom may occur differently for each individual. Although we list different kinds of tinnitus, every patients’ experience is unique, so from a naturopathic perspective they must be helped as individuals as there is no one singular, overall treatment.

There are three main causes and theories of tinnitus:

• Persistent unwanted sounds due to trauma and damage to the ears

• Loss of and damage to hearing due to salicylate sensitivity and reactivity

• Misperception of phantom hearing noises in the brain mainly due to hearing loss

Trauma and damage to the ears

Traumas to the hearing system, loss of hearing, tinnitus and the exacerbation of tinnitus occurs due to exposure to extremely loud noises, persistent exposure to loud noises, heat damage to the ears due to very high temperatures or chronic infection, stroke, chronic sinusitis, lymphedema, congenital birth defect, head trauma, continual exposure to air presume changes such as those encountered during airplane flights, compression and damage to the nerves, poisoning, malnutrition, and dysfunction of hearing-related processing centers in the brain.

Salicylate sensitivity and reactivity

The second theory of tinnitus is that some people are highly sensitives to salicylates found in food and when they have not consumed those foods their tinnitus reduces considerably. Salicylates can cause deafness which is why people with tinnitus should avoid aspirin, along with other drugs, foods and herbs containing high salicylates.

earThe list of plant-based foods containing salicylates generally comes in different levels: no, low, medium and high salicylates. Compose your diet from the no and low salicylate list with just occasionally something from the medium range but never from the high range.

These foods would include banana, pears (peeled), bamboo shoots, cabbage, celery, lentils, lettuce, poppy seeds, hemp seeds (if legal in your state), carob, pawpaw, papaya, cashews, hazelnuts, pecan nuts, sunflower seeds, vanilla, lime, swede, leek, mung bean sprouts, red cabbage, shallots, figs, lemon, mango, passion fruit, persimmon, red delicious apple (peeled), rhubarb, soy oil, sunflower oils, rice and soy milk, dandelion tea, millet, buckwheat, oats, barley, rye, brussels sprouts.

When formulating the way you eat, it is important to include all the colours so you get all the vitamins and minerals you need, such as red cabbage for anthocyanidins that unblock vessels; shoots, sprouts, nuts and seeds which are rich in amino acids; swede for carotenoids which are antioxidants and precursors to vitamin A; greens such as brussel sprouts which are superfoods containing vitamin C, K E, some B’s, folic acid and B6.

Avoid processed, frozen and packet foods and try to buy organic as the nutritional content is far higher. You may also need to supplement with iron, B12, vitamin D and magnesium depending on your blood tests. Refrain from caffeine, alcohol and smoking as all of these will increase the effects of tinnitus directly or indirectly.

In putting your diet together, you must do the research on what foods come under the low and no salicylate list. Then you need to use the test and measure principle. Write down everything you eat and drink. Every day record your level of tinnitus with 1 being mild and 10 being high. Do not stray from your diet and over a long period you will find what foods are working for you and which ones are not.

Phantom sound theory

The third theory of tinnitus is the phantom sound theory. It posits that part of the brain fills in what it thinks are missing sounds in reaction to the loss of incoming sound due to deafness. This theory cannot, however, explain why deaf people may suddenly experience tinnitus. Researchers have found that people do not experience tinnitus during dreaming or when moving in and out of sleep.

Treating tinnitus from a naturopathic perspective

It is import to closely monitor diet for someone suffering tinnitus to eliminate high salicylate rich foods which irritated the condition and makes it worse in many cases. The diet must be anti-inflammatory and high in nutrients. Unfortunately, nearly all doctors and most dietitian do not have the knowledge and time to put such diet together for patients because it needs to be individualized for each patient due to possible other allergies that may be present.

It is also important to run several tests with patients to screen for malnutrition and toxic overload which may be making the problem worse. If you are spending anything of up to $15,000 for hearing aid it will be no good to you if you are not dealing with bodily dysfunction that may have caused or are making the tinnitus worse.

Naturopaths take ask you a hundred and one questions and more. We are information collectors that helps us find out what is happening with your body. You can cope with tinnitus far better and even in some cases eliminate it when you work with profession to find out what is irritating the tinnitus and what makes it better.

Hypnotherapy to treat tinnitus

Hypnotherapy has the ability to help you change and re-contextualise all your sensory experiences fast because those experiences take place in the brain, not in your ears. This includes actual sound and perceived sound. What is also important to be aware of is that stress increases tinnitus and its discomfort and the ability to relax reduces the tinnitus.

In an integrative model of treatment, clinical hypnosis can also reduce stress, anxiety and depression to such an extent that the tinnitus disturbs you less and at times not at all.

The most important thing to remember is: Do not play amateur clinician. Work with a plant-based medical nutritionist and seek a professional hypnotherapist who works with tinnitus ( The Natural Healing is located in Vancouver B.C, and Lazzaro Pisu is one of the best Hypnotherapist in Canada ).

Leave a comment

Work Place Stress – The Symptoms

According to the Health and Safety Executive, some 440,000 people reported work related stress last year which counted for almost 9.9 million days lost due to the condition. That’s a lot of days. Did you know:

“All employers have a legal responsibility under the HSaW act 1974 to ensure the health and safety of their employees, and this includes minimizing stress-related illnesses.”

Now, it is all well and good understanding that, but how do you begin to ensure that this is the case? I mean, it isn’t as if stress can be seen – or can it? Do you have any of the following symptoms?

feeling that you can’t cope
being unable to concentrate
lacking confidence
a loss of motivation and commitment
feeling disappointed with yourself
You might also have emotional symptoms, such as:

negative or depressive feelings
increased emotional reactions (for example, you’re more tearful or sensitive)
irritability or having a short temper
feeling overwhelmed
mood swings
You may also get physical symptoms, including:

diarrhoea or constipation
aches and pains
indigestion and nausea
weight changes
chest pains or tightness in your chest
Your behaviour might also change and may include:

eating more or less than usual
sleeping too much or too little
isolating yourself from others
drinking alcohol, smoking or taking illegal drugs to relax

How would you know if the symptoms were due to work or other ‘stuff’ going on in your life? Well, do you take work home? Never able to get things finished? Miss appointments? Work longer hours or miss holiday entitlement? If you are answering yes, then you are most likely suffering from work induced stress.

Working with hypnosis – I can assist you to achieve a deep relaxation, a de-stress – and a re-charge. We will explore the options to reduce this overwhelming feeling and build the strength back. You are not alone – there are many people who just need a little support to feel more in control once again.

Hypnotherapy can help and is an easy, enjoyable and very relaxing way to beat stress.

Ring me to find out more.
I am located in Vancouver BC

1 Comment

Is Simply Just Déjà Vu

Hello once again!

Every Day is Simply Just Déjà VuWell, I am once again sitting here with my favorite cup of coffee thinking about where this blog is going to go. Yes, I had a topic all lined up, planned for a number of days – I was going to be talking about the levels of salt and sugar in our food – and yes I do fully believe that the food industry is slowly killing us. The lower the quality of the food, it appears that the more salt or sugar ‘they’ put in… BUT, I just felt that it wasn’t the right time for me to be talking about that subject. It is crucially important and I am seeking to make changes to my own intake levels, however, it’s a subject for another day.

Today I am going to be talking about something else – something that we all let happen and it just passes us by. We know it – but we don’t know it.

Stuck in a rut?

We do get stuck in a rut don’t we, firmly in the groove so to speak. I mean, we go to work… work hard pay our bills and mortgage… buy ‘stuff’ that we think we need and go on holidays that we seem to need more and more each year, which in itself is a cause of stress of course. The whole year is one never ending, big commercial and stressful circle, from Christmas to Christmas. So what, you may be asking? Please believe me that this isn’t a rant, I do get to make a point.

There simply has to be another way doesn’t there? You see, I know that I am lucky to be in the position I am, as a hypnotherapist I really do love my job. I get to help others daily and this just can’t be bettered. I am able to take time with in my day to simply observe life. Regularly I see things around me that people who are in their own moment don’t. This deep rut isn’t limited to simply your daily routines of course – get up, work, come home watch TV. It is everywhere in life. Let’s take Social Media such as Facebook or LinkedIN. Merely, it is the same things day in day out: 10 ways to better your blog; you wouldn’t believe what happened next; paste this to show you care; leadership theories state that; are you doing this well; eat less… stop this or that… blah blah blah. Am I the only one who is thoroughly and absolutely bored with the same lack of variety here. Humans are amazing, unique, and hugely creative so why is it the same same same same? I have practically stopped reviewing the internet. Now, I concentrate on just being me and the important things in life. I ask you these questions:

If this was your last day… would you be happy looking back with what you have been doing? Did you do everything you wanted to do in life? Did you spend time with those that meant the most? Are you with the person you want to be? Did you fulfill your potential? Did you wish your life away? How much time did you ever have for you? Why did you care about what people thought? What are you going to do now? What will you change today? How will tomorrow go?

Where’s the revolution? Come on people you’re letting me down (hint at my next blog!)

Every Day is Simply Just Déjà VuThere is so much opportunity in the world, so much potential. Don’t get stuck in that rut – allow yourself to change, grasp the chance of true happiness. Get rid of discontent, anxiety, frustration, anger and negative emotion – they have no place in anyone’s actuality. Make a plan. Do something awesome. Never limit yourself. I truly do believe in everyone’s ability to experience step and gradual change. Why shouldn’t utopia be one’s reality, or at least our version of or at least strive toward it?

I would like to close with one last point. There is so much we don’t understand in this world. Questions to be answered, I suppose I could term it as awareness or enlightenment, simply awakened. Maybe as I move closer, my paradigms, vibe and outlook has changed – as I move away from the constant cycle that people get stuck in, the more I see how imprisoning it is and the more difficult it becomes to break free. If you feel imprisoned, from whatever presenting issue it may be, give me a ring to talk about your dream of freedom – it is closer than you think you know.

Enjoy the weekend and do something different – even just for a minute. Live.

Best wishes,

Need physiotherapy help?

Leave a comment

Changing the world together with Hypnotherapy

Changing the world together with Hypnotherapy

Changing the world together with HypnotherapyHello,I have been watching today the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg that along with his wife, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, that they are going to be pledging $3B to fighting diseases for our children – I think that this is an important announcement which is going to drive success and something I was excited to hear about. Anything to fight the cruelty of disease is a good thing. Then I asked myself, but what about helping people and children now. Those who don’t have enough food or shelter – those who are living day to day fighting for their family and children’s survival. The homeless on our streets needing help, a cause I support and back.

There is a lot of trouble and violence around the world today – The Middle East – Africa – The Far East – all ready to put the survival of the human race to test.

Now, I am realistic. I am unable to change the world – I have a utopian view that perhaps we should be fighting for health and happiness, love and peace all around the world and feel saddened by the way that politics doesn’t seem to do politics effectively maybe there are those of course who have a differing agenda, those who lack conscience and morals, ethically bankrupt. Again, I can do nothing about them.

So what can I do? I can help my bit of the world. Those that seek my support and help, in whatever they choose – be it a personal issue that’s really limiting their enjoyment of life, or indeed a professional issue that they wish to explore how to overcome. I am always happy to assist and will continue to do so – doing a job I love and helping change people for the better.

If you would like to see how I have helped people change through hypnotherapy and coaching in Vancouver B.C., Canada – see the testimonials on my web site or on google.

Thanks for reading this – let’s help change the world to make it a better place – and the last word goes to Mark Zuckerberg – “together we have an opportunity to leave the world better than we found it.”

Need help?

Leave a comment

The Case for Hypnotherapy as an Aide to Stroke Rehabilitation

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” Carl Yung

The victims of stroke consider themselves to be survivors because not everybody lives after the event. Currently, it’s reported that “one in eight people die within 30 days of having a stroke”  which means that it’s vital that people receive the correct medical treatment as soon as possible afterwards, be under no illusions that this is a medical emergency. Here are some of the most common symptoms that people need to be aware of:

Facial weakness.
Arm weakness.
Speech problems.
Weakness on one side of the body.
Difficulty finding words, confusion.
Blurred vision loss of sight.
Sudden severe headaches, dizziness or unsteadiness.

stroke recoveryFor the survivors of a stroke, they will need to address the many life changing differences after the event. Although the effects differ for each individual, depending on the severity of the event, the post-stroke changes will provide differing levels of difficulty and challenges which will stay with individuals for the rest of their lives. There are some external differences which are apparent to everybody, the most common being, an inability through to reduced movement in one side of the body. Whilst there is no doubts that this change provides extreme challenges for the individual this would seem to be the only the tip of the iceberg of transformation. Far from obvious to an outsider are the levels of tiredness and fatigue, of the pain and headaches, and of the changes to the individual’s emotional state ). These can come in the forms of anxiety, frustration, anger, depression and the difficulty in being able to control the feelings, often termed as “emotional liability” . This paper seeks to provide evidence of one man’s journey in rehabilitation, where small changes become major victories and the client determinedly seeks to unlock further physical movements into the future. For the main it is written in first person as I reflect on the journey, of both therapist and client. It is my aim to open debate to reveal best practice within the hypnotherapy community and publish shared experience into the future.

It’s important that I say that this article was written after a request from my client – he is passionate about recovery and wanted to assist generation of dialogue and engagement on this subject – my thanks to him for his continued courage and vision.

New beginnings.

stroke recoveryI first met my client when he was seeking to build a relationship with a new hypnotherapist, someone who wanted to assist him in the difficult journey of change. The goal for our future sessions would be to attempt to regain movements in the left-hand. Incidentally, the client had been paralysed on his left hand side. My client, at the time had been able to exhibit small movements in the fingers, similar to an idemotor response and rather than giving up, remembering everybody that time had told him not to expect any movement to return, he was simply determined and knew deep inside of himself that movement could return. This was evidenced by his having been told that it was unlikely that he would have ever walked again, but, with determination and belief he was indeed able to re-learn this function. Although I had never worked with anyone having survived a stroke before, I was determined, as I do for my clients, to do the very best that I could for them. The only issue in this case having done some background research, I discovered that the earlier treatment was started the more chance of rehabilitation being successful . Of course I was concerned because of the number of years post-event, it is reported that “neurological recovery peaks within the first three months”, nevertheless, I would do my very best and was hopeful given the sufficient evidence that neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to build new synapses, and reconfigure the areas of the brain to take over from the damaged regions, could well see improvement happen. Just because 50% of the brain’s working areas were not working and other areas not working as they should, neurons were still being created daily and so synaptic plasticity could be relied upon. Of course the fact that my new client was indeed walking brought proof of this positive plasticity effect.

Could hypnosis really help?

The first concern for me was how exactly how could I help? Having done some research on the internet I discovered a number of ways in which I should begin to explore and, as a result I developed a repetition of words to assist the synaptic plasticity process, words such as remembered, repair, renew, rebuild, recollect, re-strengthen and recall. The methods used while in hypnosis were:

Reliving past events when the client had full function of the hand.
Visualising future occasions with full hand movement.
Using subconscious indirect metaphors to promote repair of the synapses.
Visualisation of numerous exercises to strengthen muscles and to help rebuild synapses.

stroke recoveryBy using the above techniques, and through the client’s attempted movements in hypnosis, and supported by contemporary physiotherapy techniques, there seemed to be a breakthrough at around the session 6 point (7 hours of therapy). Outside of the session the client was able to apply pressure that was to grip his wife’s hand. After 100% nil movement, for approximately six years, there was pressure, and this force was able slowly able to be applied. During the remainder of the sessions the main focus of work was to build upon this grip action. This action was able to be replicated and subsequently strengthened. This recovery profile seem to fit with Gilbert-Diamonds findings that the biggest change occurred between sessions 6 to 8 . From no movement in the left-hand, to slight grip pressure has occurred over a period of approximately four months. During this time the client was using also regularly using self-hypnosis to fully visualise the movements and to enable a deeper hypnotic state.

Another breakthrough?

Following a period of reflection and review of progress, and having renewed our arrangement for another eight sessions I was hopeful that we could get the grip action strengthened, and yet the client had other goals and expectations. Having been told by his physiotherapist that the grip action was the ‘easier’ hand action to achieve it would be relaxation and stretching of the hand that would pose him the greatest difficulty and may not be achieved and in fact the physiotherapist was overall sceptical regarding the hypnotherapy intervention. With his usual determination and courage my client decided that this was a challenge he was willing to take! In these next sessions we discovered that the client’s love of snowboarding could and should be utilised as often as possible. Whenever there was a memory or visualisation it was always the adventure of the Alpine mountains which the subconscious mind would willingly bring to the fore. Coupled with the use of the earlier techniques, past memories of snowboarding, indirect metaphor to allow the rebuilding and renewing of the synaptic highways another breakthrough was seen to have occurred, at around session 4 (total session 12). Relaxation and stretching movements have begun to be witnessed and although mainly associated with the left-hand ring finger and little finger there is also, currently, tiny movement of the remainder of the fingers. These movements were recorded, at the request of the client, so that the physiotherapist could review progress. From the original physiotherapy stance of prior disbelieving, the therapist is now fully supportive and the client continues to make small progress with each session. In addition, the client now uses an electronic device to generate electrical impulses into the muscles in order to strengthen them further to build upon the extensor movement generated by overcoming the stronger flexor muscles that the client can’t explicitly relax – this in turn aids the neuroplasticity process.

Current Thinking

stroke recoveryHypnotherapy has been used as a method to support a survivor of stroke in his journey to regain some movements in his left hand, which previously had not been seen in six years. Through the belief of both therapist and client in the process of neuro synaptic plasticity, the client has developed a sense of grip, identification and relaxation including extension of the hand. This has been enabled through determination, belief and identification of the client’s most vivid and enjoyable memories and future pacing of movements, something which Gibert-Diamond (2006) has also showed to have brought successful outcomes. As an observation, the client’s grip action has now become expected in session, and as a therapist and client we forget that it was only until recently that this movement had been regained. In terms of benefit, it is my belief that through the use of hypnosis, the client has seen an increase in motion, in strength and has greater motivation for future beneficial change. Gilbert-Diamond’s hypothesis was that “a hypnotic procedure may counteract learned non-use of the paretic limb after stroke” in terms of empirical evidence, I would state that I fully support his hypothesis.

There is no doubt that it has been the hard work of the client which has seen the small movements return. No single procedure, profession or act has enabled the change but more so all the support techniques and activities working towards a common goal has helped a survivor to conquer some of the challenges which he faces daily.

I hope to continue to work with my client and other survivors into the future, those who could well benefit from hypnosis to aid the rehabilitation following a stroke. Neuroplasticity in action is an amazing phenomena which can be emotional for everyone concerned. I welcome debate and the opening of dialogue into best practice in hypnosis for stroke rehabilitation techniques.


Gilbert-Diamond S. (2006). Hypnosis for rehabilitation after stroke: Six case studies. Contemporary Hypnosis.

Salter K, et al. (2006). Effect of early time to rehabilitation on functional outcome in stroke. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 

Need Hypnotherapy Help?
Vancouver B.C.

Leave a comment

“This is your brain on empathy”

Creating a meaningful and purposeful life is an essential ingredient of human wellbeing.

But how do you discover who you are and why you’re here?

This is your brain on empathyPick up any self-help book written in the past 50 years and you’ll be told that the best way to learn about yourself is to spend time on introspection or in quiet contemplation. By indulging in a little naval gazing, and examining your innermost desires, hopes and aspirations, you’ll discover meaning and direction in life.

The key to ‘outrospection’ is empathy.
How you interact with others is greatly influenced by your ability to understand other people’s mental lives — their feelings, desires, thoughts and intentions. Cultivating your ability to empathise with others has the power to transform your life and revolutionise human relationships.

We define empathy as the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions.

The neural basis of empathy.
Neuroscientists and psychologists who study the neural basis of human empathy describe two types of empathy: cognitive empathy (understanding another’s perspective) and emotional empathy (understanding another’s feelings). Researchers are busy mapping the complex neural networks involved these two distinct but related empathy traits.  (Visit:

Can learn to empathize, or is it hard-wired?
Researchers have also shown that empathy isn’t a hard-wired mental attribute that you either possess or not, but one that can be cultivated or learned over time.

This is your brain on empathyIn one study doctors were enrolled in empathy-training classes in which they focused on improving their listening skills, learned to decode facial expressions and body language, and learned about the importance of understanding patients’ life stories. Afterwards the doctors’ empathy significantly increased (and strikingly, this improvement was rated by their patients).

Children can also learn empathy.
In the Roots of Empathy program a class ‘adopts’ a baby for a year, and the baby and parent visit the classroom every three weeks. During the visits the students are encouraged to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings. For example, the baby may start crying and the facilitator will ask the children why they think the baby is crying. Numerous evaluations of the program have shown it reduces playground bullying, improves pupils’ relationships with their parents, improves academic performance, and increases both cognitive and emotional empathy.

How to train your brain for empathy
These studies show that empathy can be thought of as skill we can practice and improve. Here are six daily (or weekly) ideas that we suggest for cultivating empathy.

Switch on your empathic brain. Recognise that empathy is at the core of human nature. Empathy isn’t just something you are born with. Most people can expand their capacity for empathy — both cognitive and emotional empathy — by practising mindful attention towards other people’s feelings and experiences. (Visit:

Make the imaginative leap. Make a conscious effort to step into another person’s shoes. Acknowledge their humanity, their individuality and perspectives. Try this for both your friends and your ‘enemies’.

Seek experiential adventures. Explore lives and cultures that contrast with your own.

“Next time you are planning a holiday, don’t ask yourself, ‘Where can I go next?’ but instead ‘Whose shoes can I stand in next?’” .

Practice the craft of conversation. Engage others in conversation and practice radical listening — simply focus intently on listening to their feelings and needs without interrupting.

“Take off your own emotional mask, and risk showing your vulnerability. Ultimately, most of us just want to be listened to and understood” .

Travel in your armchair. Transport yourself into the minds of others with the help of art, literature, film and online social networks.

Get curious about strangers. At least once a week have a conversation with a stranger. Make sure you get beyond everyday chatter about the weather and talk about the stuff that really matters in life—love, death, politics, religion.

“You might strike up a discussion with one of the cleaners at the office, or the woman who sells you bread each morning.

It’s surprising how fascinating, energising and enlightening it can be to talk to someone different from yourself.”

Do You Need Help?