Body, Mind And Spiritual Wellness

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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?
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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.

References:

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?
Visit: http://www.naturalhealing-clinic.com
Vancouver B.C.


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“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: http://www.natutralhealing-clinic.com)

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: http://www.natutralhealing-clinic.com)

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?
Visit: http://www.naturalhealing-clinic.com


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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLOURS

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLOURS

SONY DSCThe subject of food colours has been nothing short of controversial, especially as studies emerged pointing out the risks of ingesting these chemicals. However, because artificially-coloured foods are so widespread and pervasive, most of us don’t even think twice about eating them. Even worse, because so many food items have fake colouring, most of us don’t know what the real thing is supposed to look like!

What do you need to know about food colours?

1. Food colours are often added to products as inferior ingredients are used. Food colours are used to make the final product more appealing and real. My favourite example is yoghurt. Yoghurts made with inferior ingredients, will use food colour to make the product look creamier and more real. Real yoghurt, using real ingredients, doesn’t require any food colour!

From the time that we were hunters and gatherers, our eyes and brains evolved to look for the most colourful things in nature. Bright and vivid colours usually meant a higher density of nutrients, like in fruits and vegetables, which are packed with sugar.
Food manufacturers want to replicate this response to food in our brains, which is why everything, from our egg yolks to our butter and sometimes even salmon, is artificially coloured.

2. There isn’t an acceptable daily intake set for children. You will often find that food colours are most prolific in children’s foods. If you compare the dosage our kids are receiving in relation to their weight, they are receiving a much higher dose than adults do. This presents a bigger risk, especially with children at crucial stages of development.

3. Additives are normally only tested in isolation. If you review any processed foods ingredients labels (as I do on a daily basis) you will see that there is often more than one food colour listed together with many other additives. Independent research conducted by the University of Liverpool released results in December 2005, announcing that combinations of additives are potentially more toxic than might be predicted from the sum of their individual compounds. Until there is further independent research, we have no idea how these individual additives react with each other, or the long term implications on our children. Additives are not tested for effects such as hyperactivity, behavioural and learning impacts.

4. The European Union has mandated a warning. A study published in Prescrire International showed a link between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children. In Journal of Pediatrics, tartrazine was linked to behavioural disturbances in kids. Doctors at the University of Southampton in the UK found that food dyes significantly effect children’s behaviour and their tendency to be hyperactive.

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These are only a handful of the research showing the adverse effects of these chemicals on kids, prompting the EU to issue a mandate*. Now, any food and drink that contains any of the following six artificial food colours:

sunset yellow FCF (E110)

quinoline yellow (E104)

carmoisine (E122)

allura red (E129)

tartrazine (E102)

ponceau 4R (E124)

must have a warning label that states: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

5. The list of potential adverse health effects is long. It’s not just behavioural effects, either. Individuals that have a sensitivity to artificial colours will often present with the following ailments**:

– asthma

– hyperactivity

– skin ailments (rash / hives)

– behavioural problems

– headaches

– insomnia

– learning difficulties

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I have seen the impact of food colours. The effects included asthma, skin ailments, behavioural problems, insomnia, and headaches. With the removal of these food colours (and other additives) these ailments have disappeared.

Should Food Standards Canada mandate similar warnings?

It will be a moot point whether Food Standards Canada continues to allow these additives in our food. As more people are made aware of the potential impact of these additives, consumers will choose products without these food colours. They will vote with their dollar.

This action by consumers will hurt the manufacturer’s bottom line and manufacturer’s will reformulate their products when they realise they are losing market share to natural/real products. There is a massive movement happening in the United States currently with a huge number of additives being removed from many popular food chain menus. If we make ourselves heard, it will happen here in Canada too!

What should you do?

Whilst food colours may not affect everybody, I recommend that if your children suffer from any of the ailments listed above, it is worth trialling the removal of these food colours from your diet to see if any improvements are noticed. You have nothing to lose!


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How does the brain process emotions?

How does the brain process emotions?

The emotion centre is the oldest part of the human brain: why is mood so important?

How does the brain process emotions“Somebody woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning.” You know that comment; the one that rarely makes you feel any more gracious towards the world (or the person saying it). At other times you might feel particularly gracious and sunny, for no reason at all.

Our mood is a transient frame of mind that influences how we think and view the world. It is influenced by events in our lives, the amount of sleep we get, hormones, even the weather. But what role does the brain play in shaping our mood?

The limbic system
Many regions fundamental to mood are buried deep in the most primordial parts of the brain; that is, they are thought to have been among the first to develop in the human species. This is probably because mood is evolutionarily important.

Being glum can be advantageous and has been shown to sharpen our eye for detail, for instance. But, overall, the brain seems geared towards maintaining a mildly positive frame of mind. Being in a good mood makes us more likely to seek new experiences, be creative, plan ahead, procreate and adapt to changing conditions.

The limbic system is the major primordial brain network underpinning mood. It’s a network of regions that work together to process and make sense of the world.

If you feel great, the hippocampus might guide you to walk down a path fringed with daffodils.

How does the brain process emotionsNeurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are used as chemical messengers to send signals across the network. Brain regions receive these signals, which results in us recognising objects and situations, assigning them an emotional value to guide behaviour and making split-second risk/reward assessments.

The limbic system sits under the cerebrum (the largest and newest part of the brain) and is made up of structures such as the hypothalamus, hippocampus and the amygdala.

The almond-shaped amygdala attaches emotional significance to events and memories. It came to the attention of emotion researchers in 1939 when monkeys whose amygdalae were removed showed bizarre patterns of behaviour. They became fearless, hypersexual and either devoid of emotion or irrationally aggressive.

Dubbed Kluver-Bucy Syndrome, it is rare in humans, but has been observed in people with amygdala damage incurred, for instance, after a bout of brain inflammation.

The hippocampus, meanwhile, reminds us which courses of action are congruent with our mood. For instance, if you feel great you might like to walk down a path fringed with daffodils. If you feel crap, you may instead be drawn to that bar that spins melancholy albums by The Smiths.

The hippocampus has been shown to be shrunken in people with chronic depression. This may account for common features of the condition, such as vague or non-specific recall of personal memories.

The limbic system also regulates biological functions in line with our mood, such as accelerated heart rate and sweating triggered by feeling flustered. Being so old, however, the limbic system is rather primitive. In day-to-day life it’s controlled by some newer networks that co-ordinate how we think and act, so our behaviour is conducive to achieving longer-term goals, rather than always going wherever the mood takes us.

Researchers are increasingly looking towards newer networks to understand how the brain controls mood. Two particular networks that stand out across numerous studies are the autobiographic memory network and cognitive control network.

The autobiographic memory network processes information related to ourselves, including recalling personal memories and self-reflection. Key hubs in this network comprise brain areas inside the prefrontal cortex, which sits in the front of the brain; the hippocampus; the posterior cingulate cortex, which is the upper part of the limbic lobe; and parietal regions, which sit behind the frontal lobe and are important for mental imagery.

The cognitive control network links up regions that co-ordinate our attention and concentration so that we can complete tasks. It recruits a circuit of the front part of the cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which are specialised for cold, unemotional, rational thought.

The autobiographic memory network switches on when someone is preoccupied by thoughts concerning themselves. Mitya Ku/Flickr, CC BY

These two networks are thought to have a strained relationship. The autobiographic memory network switches on when someone is preoccupied by thoughts concerning themselves. This causes the task-oriented cognitive control network to switch off, thereby reducing our ability to complete whatever task we’re supposed to be doing. This is why daydreaming is frowned on at work.

Conversely, the autobiographic memory network is suppressed when the cognitive control network is required to gather the attention needed for a task at hand. This is in line with the notion that we “lose ourselves” when we are absorbed doing something.

When the two networks don’t work properly, they can result in what psychiatrists refer to as mood disorders.

How does the brain process emotionsThe two major types of mood disorders are depressive disorders, characterised by a persistent down mood, and bipolar disorders, expressed as extreme high or manic moods that alternate with periods of feeling down.

In depressive disorders, the autobiographic memory network gets stuck being on. This leads to thinking-too-much-about-ourselves symptoms, such as brooding, rumination and self-loathing. The concurrent suppression of the cognitive control network gives rise to symptoms such as poor concentration, indecisiveness and sluggish thinking.

Treatment for depressive disorders, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, involves stimulating the cognitive control network to work better. And medications aim to restore normal levels of neurochemicals that communicate between the two networks and the limbic systems.

Many psychological therapies empower the sufferer to wrest control over their own mood. They often train the person to activate the cognitive control network, by challenging negative thoughts for instance, to strengthen it over time. They also seem to disrupt the domination of the autobiographic memory network through techniques such as mindfulness.

While trying to understand the neuroscience behind disordered mood is necessary, there is a push in psychology for mood investigations to focus more on the positives in everyone’s psychology; involving the fostering of resilience and our individual strengths, for instance.

Much like the zeitgeist itself, however, investigations into the brain’s role in these functions are in their infancy.

Do You Need Help?
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How to go with the flow.

How to go with the flow.

Go_With_the_Flow-White water kayakers and musicians experience it. So do video-gamers, rock climbers, and experienced mediators. If you’ve ever lost complete track of time or your sense of self when you’re engrossed in a satisfying task, chances are you’ve experienced it too.

The optimal state of consciousness in which you perform and feel your best is called ‘flow’.

What is flow?
“a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

When you’re in state of flow you:

intensely and completely focus on the present moment and the task at hand forget about yourself, others, and the world around you feel a complete sense of control or mastery over the situation or activity loose all sense of time complete the task because the task itself is intrinsically rewarding.

Go_With_the_Flow-work in the area started after he became curious about what motivated people, and what activities induced greatest enjoyment or deepest satisfaction. He interviewed thousands of people including Dominican monks, blind nuns, Himalayan climbers, and Navajo shepherds, all who enjoyed their work, and one similarity emerged,

““…what kept them motivated was the quality of the experience they felt when they were involved in the activity…it often involved painful, risky, difficult activities that stretched the person’s capacity and involved an element of novelty and discovery,””

How can we trigger flow?
One of the most important triggers for flow is the very specific relationship between the difficulty of the task and your ability to perform that task. If the challenge is too great, then fear or frustration take over. If the challenge is too easy, you stop paying attention. Flow appears in a ‘sweet spot’ — the midpoint between boredom and anxiety.

Decoding the science of ultimate human performance’ has identified numerous triggers for flow. Broadly they all drive attention into the ‘now moment’.

Flow involves:
Focus. Fear or immediate threats focus the brain, so a high-stakes or high consequence environment can trigger flow.

Risk. ‘Danger’ can feel good but only if the risk can be moved from one of threat to one of challenge.

Challenge vs Skill. Find the sweet spot between boredom and fear. Kotler estimates the challenge should be ~4% greater than your skill level.

Novelty. Change, unpredictability and complexity catch and hold your attention.
Embodiment. Involves being ‘in’ your body and fostering full body awareness.

Adventure sports often requires a kind of total physical awareness and immersion in all five senses.

Clear goals. What is your purpose? Clear goal setting allows the setting of micro goals which close the feedback loop sooner giving access to immediate feedback.

Feedback. This term refers to a direct, in-the-moment coupling between cause and effect. Immediate feedback is an extension of clear goals. Clear goals tell us what we’re doing; immediate feedback tells us how to do it better.

What is the biological basis for flow?
Several studies performed with professional classical pianists who played piano pieces several times to induce a flow state found a significant relationship between flow and decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and relaxation of the major facial (smiling) muscles.

The prefrontal cortex (the brain’s CEO) might ‘switch off’ during flow. However, brain-imaging studies of entering the flow state by playing the computer game Tetris don’t confirm this hypothesis. Instead the authors suggest flow arises through an interaction between positive emotions and high attention or focus (i.e. the prefrontal cortex is ON).

Why go with the flow?
Losing yourself in flow activities has the capacity to improve your happiness, and the concept has become embedded in positive psychology practice. But if you need more inspiration to find that activity that engages and enthralls you,

“Flow is the very thing that makes us come alive. It is the mystery. It is the point.”


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Soul Retrieval- a return to wholeness

Soul Retrieval- a return to wholeness

Soul Retrieval- a return to wholenessSoul retrieval sounds quite scary doesn’t it? But soul retrieval isn’t scary at all, its an essential part of the healing process. We need soul retrieval because something called soul loss can occur when we experience trauma, shock or if we have an accident. Again this sounds concerning but it is important to remember that soul loss is actually a protection mechanism. This is because the soul – or our spirit that inhabits our physical body if that is easier to understand – is delicate. When discussing soul loss and soul retrieval with clients I often use the example of an orange. Your body is the skin of the orange, it contains the soul, which are the juicy segments inside the orange skin. Imagine the segments are full of personality, energy and provide us with the ‘juice’ or the enthusiasm for life. When we experience a trauma or a shock, imagine that some of the segments are shocked out of the body, or the orange skin. These segments of soul….’soul parts’ return to the safety of the earth as protection. Please note this is not a horrible, hellish place, but a safe warm place. We can often read about incidents of soul loss in the newspaper, people will make comments like, ‘When she died it was like a part of me died too,’ or ‘I witness the attack as if I was outside of my own body, viewing what was happening to me from above,’ or, ‘I feel lost,’ “I’m constantly searching for something but can never find it.’ These comments all indicate soul loss has occurred. So, the soul parts leave for protection, not only for the soul itself, but also for the protection of the person. For example, using the example of someone that has been violently attacked, this will be highly traumatic for them, so when the soul parts leave the person is often ‘numbed,’ so that they can better cope with what happened to them.

The difficulty is that in order to fully heal from the incident or shock, the soul parts need Soul Retrieval- a return to wholenessto be returned to the individual, so they are no longer numb, so they have their full energy, personality and juiciness of life back. This is why the soul retrieval process is so important – my teacher used to say it was equivalent to five years of therapy! It is simply not sufficient to heal the trauma of what happened to a person, the process needs to be completed by soul retrieval so that the person is not only healed of the trauma but returned to wholeness. And we don’t have to suffer a huge shock to suffer soul loss either. Soul loss often occurs between the ages of 1- 10 years as a result of emotional or physical trauma, fear, sadness, fright or accident. For example, we have all seen how children act as if they are indestructible and the world is a safe place, but if this notion is challenged – for example, they have an accident, or a parent leaves, it is a shock and not only causes soul loss but also sets up a pattern of soul loss which can continue throughout life. Soul loss can of course occur later in life, but it is also important to understand that soul loss from past lives can also affect us (even if we don’t believe in past lives!). So we may have a perfect life in this lifetime, but we may feel lost, like something is missing, or like we are always searching for something because of soul loss that occurred as a result of trauma in past lives. Additionally, I have seen many instances of soul loss upon incarnation – as if part of us decided not to come here after all and returned home!

The soul retrieval process is very easy for the client – in fact they don’t need to do Soul Retrieval- a return to wholenessanything at all other than relax. I use hypnotherapy techniques to visit the ‘lower world’ the place in the subconscious where the soul parts go to feel safe. The first thing I do when arriving in this dimension is to heal the wounded soul part. Then it is necessary to break any unhelpful contracts (beliefs that are made in times of great emotional distress), before finding the healed soul part. The healed soul part normally helps me to find a gift for the client – something that is going to help them move forward and often a power animal (a power ally which brings its particular characteristics to the client) is brought back to the client to help them on the their healing journey.

These three aspects, the healed soul part, the gift and the power animal is returned to the energy body or ‘aura’ – putting it another way, the juicy segments of the orange are put back into the orange skin. This process is vital, it enhances protection and energy levels, boosts the immune system and returns qualities and power to the person that they may have been without for many years – or lifetimes. To give another example, imagine a child of around five who experiences soul loss – as this person grows into an adult and parent, they may complain of being unable to relate to their children, unsure of how to play with them. This is because their childlike self has been lost as a result of soul loss. When the childlike, playful self is returned, they suddenly the client finds that they can have a completely different relationship with their own children and feel not only able to play with them but also know how to bring play into their own lives. So soul retrieval is a highly beneficial process and I have not come across a person yet who has not needed it! It is important to understand though that the soul parts leave for a reason. Therefore, the initial trauma needs to be healed before the soul retrieval can be done. Putting it another way, imagine a child runs away from home because they are unhappy about something. If I go find them and return them to the home without anything changing, the likelihood is that they will run away again. So soul parts want to come back to a happy home, which is what we create within the person when we heal the initial trauma. Additionally, I often find that when the healing work has been done, the soul part is so eager to return to the person they often come to find me and there is no risk of them leaving the client again. If you feel you may have suffered from soul loss, please do not hesitate to contact me using the contact form on the website. Blessings.