comforting touch

The Importance of Touch

Touch has never been so meaningful as when we are unable to give or receive it.  Due to the current pandemic the touch of hugging one another – family , friends – has been restricted.  Grandparents not able to cuddle their grandchildren, daughters/sons not being able to come face to face and give their parents a reassuring hug, friends no longer greet each other with a hug.

As human beings we are a tactile species and I feel that over the past decade we have become even more so.  From a British stiff upper lip to a more free society of not being afraid to give reassurance, support and acknowledge through touch.  We have full on heart to heart hugs, a gentle pat on the shoulder, a reassuring and comforting hand on an arm or a quick peck on the cheek.  Normally we have this daily connection with others through our most tactile of senses.  For those living alone this lack may be even more keenly felt.

A famous experiment back in the 1950s by Harlow demonstrated an overwhelming need for touch at the expense sometimes of food.  These were conducted with monkeys but showed the absolute need for comfort and protection through being in physical contact with another monkey, who in this case was represented by a terry toweling monkey.

When we are scared, feeling vulnerable, in need of reassurance or support we seek it through being held. No words are needed just an exchange of energy on a heartfelt basis.  Did you know that a hug needs to be about 7 seconds to truly transfer these feelings across to the other person?  However just a fleeting contact acknowledges your presence and there is connection, however brief.

child holding hands
importance of touch

How are you doing?

 Are you getting enough human contact?  Are you missing the tactile embrace from friends and family?  I must admit that recently when working with a client, we were walking outside for a “walk ‘n’ talk” session, they become upset and my immediate response was to lay a gentle arm on their shoulders.  It was spontaneous, automatic and reflexive – I was just being a human being in response to another fellow human being.  This action had an impact upon my client in that they thanked me for that touch on their shoulders.   At that time, in that moment, pandemic barriers were forgotten.

Some of the therapies I offer – Reiki and Shamanic healing within co-vid guidelines – involve hands on healing, a gentle, compassionate touch in which words are not needed.  It is through my hands that healing energy is transferred to my clients but underlying gratitude is the need to be in contact with another person. 

We are now learning to live in a world where human touch is limited so maybe we seek out touch within different therapies as part of an inner most need to receive comfort. 

I hope that you are in a position, safely, to receive hugs and human touch and if not know that people around you are energetically sending their touch and comfort to you.

Can I help?

If you would like further information on the above treatments I offer please feel free to contact me.

Grateful. thankful

Gratitude for our health

Life is tough and challenging at the moment so how easy is it to give gratitude? Often our default position can be to focus on the negative, to worry about things we have no control over, to criticise and blame.  When we do this nothing changes – our bodies keep plugged into stress, worry, frustration and anger.  We are promoting an imbalance of our physical and mental health and more than ever we need to create harmony within us.

Giving gratitude, being thankful for what we have, has a powerful but subtle effect on our mental and physical wellbeing.  Gratitude as an integral part of world religions has been around for thousands of years but to get the true impact of showing gratitude it needs to be done from a place of love, appreciation and honesty.  In his blog Dr David Hamilton cites several reasons why expressing gratitude is good for us.

Gratitude is easy it’s not hard to do; we just have to be aware of what we already have in our lives. How often do we take for granted our ability to be mobile, that we have a roof over our heads, that we are able to buy food?   When we forget about what we already have in our lives, and we grumble about what we haven’t got, then we stay in a state of lack, a sense of dissatisfaction.

The more we give thanks and show gratitude the stronger it becomes; just like a muscle that is worked.  It neutralises our negative emotions, decreases stress, promotes kindness and improves quality of sleep.

To paraphrase Andy Cope, the moment we’re content, we have enough – it is not when we have enough are we then content.

So how can we practice gratitude?

  • Start a gratitude diary – jot down each day in your diary what you are grateful for – a person, an event, a feeling.
  • Thank others often – this helps to increase connectivity with others and in turn lessens isolation.
  • Stop low level moaning – don’t get caught up with others’ criticism and moans.  Stop, take a breath and turn your thinking onto one good thing that is happening in your life.
  • Before you go to sleep at night go over in your mind three things that you are truly grateful for that day.  People often say I can’t think of anything.  The more you do this the more your mind opens up to what you truly have in your life for which you can give thanks.
  • Meditate using gratitude apps such as Insight Timer or Headspace
  • Go walking and thank everything that you see – trees, sky, rain, birds, grass, sea etc and do it from your heart.
  • Write letters of thanks – taking the time to put pen to paper is a much more purposeful and heartfelt way of giving gratitude than a quick text.

Dr Emoto in his book Hidden Messages in Water showed that water exposed through written words of love and gratitude formed beautiful, complex snowflake patterns. Water exposed to negative thoughts and words were unformed, misshapen and dull in colour!

Only you know what you have in your life to be grateful for, express it, mean it and allow gratitude to grow and flourish allowing harmony, contentment to flow back into your life.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”Oprah Winfrey

Man portraying being humble

Humble –is this still relevant in today’s world?

“Just for today I will be humble” is one of the precepts or concepts behind Reiki practice.  When I discuss this during teaching Reiki it can often be a bit puzzling.  Humble is not a word we use very much in today’s language, it feels as if it belongs in an ancient religious way of life that has nothing to do with the way we live now.  What does it actually mean?  Are we ever humble?

I remember when I was volunteering on a game reserve in South Africa.  One of the workers from Zimbabwe gave up his time over a weekend to show me round more of the reserve and tell me his story from his country. Afterwards I thanked him for his time and he replied that he was humble to have met me.  I couldn’t quite work it out what he meant and how it applied to me.

There seems to be many contexts in which the word humble could be applied but the one that resonates with me is to have a “modest or low estimate of one’s importance” (Oxford English dictionary).  This is not about putting myself down or ignoring my worth and value but being willing to acknowledge that there are other things far more important than me in the world.  A much bigger viewpoint needs to come into play, I am not the centre of the Universe but an integral part of it and for that I am humble.

“A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant” Anon

The focus is on giving rather than receiving.  Recognising what we already have around us and giving gratitude for it.  Gratitude is a more familiar word nowadays and I think it dovetails beautifully into being humble.  When you are truly grateful for what you have then you are humble. If the world is without gratitude then it is built on false egos.  Humility recognises that we own nothing and are grateful for what we have.

What makes me feel humble? People choosing me to help them move on, being part of nature, not above it or controlling it, the life that I have lived.

“Stay true in the dark side and humble in the spotlight”  Harold B Lee

I would love to hear your thoughts and understanding about the word humble.

altruism

Altruism – is it still there?

The definition of altruism is the “willingness to do things that bring advantages to others, even if it results in disadvantage for yourself” (Cambridge dictionary).  Although not new to human behaviour I felt that there was an increasing number of altruistic responses from people during the lockdown period.  But is this now becoming less?

Altruism  can often be spontaneous and acted upon without much forethought or decision only to recognise the benefits for that other person.  It’s the act of someone unselfishly giving of their time/money/skill without expecting anything back in return.  The emphasis is on the person receiving rather than the giver.  Random acts of kindness are examples of altruism and is seen by social psychologists as prosocial behaviour.

In a blog written last year on Acts of Kindness I wrote that the acts can range from small and unassuming to grand gestures without the need for recognition or praise.  So anything goes that is spontaneous, unprepared and done to help someone else.  It can be giving someone the rest of your time on a parking ticket, leaving a book for someone else to read, let another person go ahead of you in a queue, hold a door open or pay someone a compliment.  It stops us being self-centred and inwardly focused and allows us to be more aware of the other person.

Back in lockdown April and May there was a lot of kindness and altruistic behaviour, people wanted to help and support others.  We shopped for our elderly neighbours, phoned those who were shielding and Captain Sir Tom was walking unselfishly to raise money for the NHS.

Do you feel that people are still being compassionate, considerate and altruistic?  Possibly as lockdown has eased, people are back at work, the pace of life picks up and the stresses of daily life start to take hold again, altruism is less seen.  Just on the contentious issue of wearing a face mask – the act of wearing one is predominately for others, an act of altruism!

So let’s not forget how communities came together, how we helped and supported each other, those unselfish acts are just as much needed today as there were months ago.  Maybe they are needed more so now, as we come to terms with a new way of living.  Looking out for others is not just a virus led requirement but hopefully an innate desire to help others feel better or to bring a bit of joy or comfort into someone’s life – a selfless act that can mean a lot to the receiver even you don’t know tht person!

Life maybe be busier and faster once again but we are still human beings requesting understanding, consideration and kindness so let’s not forget our ability and choice of being altruistic.

Taking action

Action!

Over the past few months we have been forced to take action in the way we live and to reconsider our priorities.  Our daily routines have been turned upside down.  Our social time has changed and what we have taken for granted is no longer guaranteed.

We haven’t had much of a choice in this action, we have been strongly advised, knowing that it ultimately for the safety of ourselves and others.  We’ve understood the reasoning, more or less, and have consciously agreed to take this different action.

This change we’ve adapted to in one sense has been unquestioned, we haven’t needed to find hidden depths of motivation to make change, we were unable to procrastinate – we just did it!

How different does it become when we want to make changes for ourselves even though we know that it would be good for us?  We know we can make changes, adapt and accept them, as proven over this period of pandemic, so why does it feel so hard when we try to do it on a personal level?

Then it can feel like it’s too much effort, our thoughts and beliefs kick in so we can easily justify why we won’t make changes just yet.  The human mind is incredible at finding justifications for not taking action, we can always find a counter-argument or reason to put things off.

Very often we can convince ourselves that we are making changes and we have made strides forward but somehow that is not reflected in our daily living.  It’s almost as if we are living our lives in our heads – our perception of our reality is not really what it actually is.  Many times I’ve worked with people who have told me what they are going to do, and however many times they say it and believe it they still don’t, in reality, make those steps forward.

The bottom line is that, by all means, make the plans, work out the steps but unless you take actual action nothing has changed.  We all took action whilst the virus was at its peak so we know we are capable of making changes.

 Now we are in a position to start making changes for ourselves – to continue with healthier ways of living, to drop and let go of unhelpful beliefs and thoughts, to reconsider relationships and build new ones.  If you have arrived at this mindset already that is brilliant, but you need to go beyond the mindset and start taking action.  However small or seemingly insignificant take some form of action everyday to bring the changes you choose into your life.

Action changes things
Action changes things
Feet in the grass

How Grounded are you?

Being grounded enhances our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.  It is often when we are not grounded that we notice feeling “out of kilter” or disconnected from others or what is going on around us.

Feeling anxious or stressed can energetically throw us out of balance.  Having to cope with a wide range of environmental impacts such as pollution, food additives or even other peoples energy puts a strain on our bodies.  Think how much harder our bodies have to work to clear these toxins, our energy can become depleted and we become misaligned with the earth’s energy.  We leave ourselves open to being more susceptible to illness and ill health.

Just like plugs, electrical sockets and equipment we need to be grounded.  Ideally we need to align ourselves with the Earth’s energy.  The Earth’s magnetic field is anchored by the North and South poles and it is this magnetic field that many animals and birds use to navigate their way around the globe.  As humans we are also affected by the impact of this magnetic field and we need to be grounded for the natural exchange of our energy system and the Earth.  Grounding helps stay in the “here and now”.

So in what ways can we ground ourselves to enhance our wellbeing?

  • One of the simplest ways is to walk barefoot upon the earth, the sand or the grass.  Our feet can pull up the energy from the ground.
  • We can do a visualisation exercise and imagine that we have roots growing down from the soles of our feet into the earth and the deeper they go the more stable and solid we become.  We can then imagine the energy coming up from the core of the earth into our bodies, aligning our energies.
  •  Donna Eden in her book Energy Medicine mentions several grounding techniques including “spooning” your feet.  Not sure how this works but use a stainless steel spoon and rub it along the soles of your feet.
  • Eating a small amount of dark chocolate helps to ground.
  • Imagine you are walking through thick squelchy mud.
  • Jump up and down.
  • Stand with your feet firmly on the ground or sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor.  Imagine that your left foot is connected with the ground and you can feel energy coming up from the earth into your foot, moving up your leg to your knee and thigh.  When it reaches the top of your thigh allows the energy to move across and to travel down your right leg into your foot and back into the ground.
  • Walk mindfully; notice how you place your feet on the ground as you take each step.  Where do you feel the pressure? What part hits the ground first? What sensations can you feel in your feet?

You may have your own techniques, but whatever way you use, being grounded helps you connect with the earth’s healing energy, allows you to “get out of your head” and boost your energy& health.

If you wish to discuss what would be of help to you, please book a complimentary Insight session.

Communication in harmony

Empathy & Communication

Have you noticed that since lockdown you are having more conversations with strangers, from a safe distance of course?
It’s as if we are not only craving conversation but are being generally kinder towards each other, one of the bonuses from this situation.

However whether we are conversing with strangers or people we know well, how empathic are you?

The definition of empathy is “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into other person feelings” (Collins Concise English dictionary).

Why is empathy important?  The answer is understanding, it has been said “that being understood is like being loved”.  And we all need this in these times.

Communicating empathically is both a cognitive and a gut reaction.  At times we may have to work a bit harder to really understand a person and to “get out of our own way”.

So what qualities do we need for empathic communication?

· Attentive listening

· Being non-judgemental

· Observing

· Being in the other persons shoes

· Reflecting

· Mirroring body language

· Sensitivity

· Intuition

· Caring—on others needs rather than own

Communication

Being empathic transforms:

  • Blame (it’s your fault)
  • Criticism (that’s not just good enough)
  • Labels (lazy)
  • Insults (you stupid idiot)
  • Threats (if you don’t I will..)
  • Self-diminishment (putting ourselves down)
  • Guilt, depression, anger ,shame

As our communication changes with others here’s a chance to be even more empathic to benefit not only the other person but ourselves too.

Silence

Silence and Stillness

As we find ourselves in a very different world we are coming across stillness and silence.  For some this may be a totally new experience as previously it would have been rushing around, noise and non-stop on the go.  Maybe the only time to be still was in front of the television and even then perhaps unable to switch off from thoughts whirling in our minds.

Today, in lockdown, there is less noise, fewer cars, fewer aeroplanes, fewer people in the streets or children in the park.  So what are we hearing instead?  Are we noticing different sounds? Have you heard the dawn chorus or the wind in the trees or the hum of insects?  The blackbird in my garden has been singing throughout the day at the top of his voice.  Internally are you hearing your own thoughts a lot more but also now having the time to reflect upon them.

Silence and stillness can be uncomfortable, unfamiliar and maybe a bit scary.  For some there is a fear that if they stopped for a while unwanted thoughts /feelings would rise to the surface,  staying busy is a way to suppress them.  Maybe there’s a belief that if you stop and do nothing then you are being lazy.  Or perhaps you live in a culture, an environment, that everyone else is always on the go and you get swept up in it in order to fit in.  Life has led us from human beings to human doings and maybe we have lost a sense of ourselves.

Silence and stillness can take time and practice; it’s a skill to be learnt.  But now more than ever we have that opportunity to find that place within us that is quiet.

Benefits of stillness and silence are:-

  • Decrease stress
  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Increased creativity
  • Promotion of deeper sleep
  • Boost to the body’s immune system

Ways to learn the art of stillness can be:-

  • Stop, close your eyes and listen to what you can hear both in the foreground and background.
  • Turn the television off and read a book or do a jigsaw puzzle
  • Before getting up in the morning lie there quietly for 5 – 10 minutes and allow thoughts to wander into your mind but don’t hang onto them
  • Take 5 minutes to focus on your breath, notice the rise and fall of your chest and just see if it possible to deepen your breath to your abdomen.  Count your breathing.
  • Use a mindfulness app
  • Walk slowly and pay attention to smaller details rather than the bigger picture
  • Receive a distance healing session where you lie down in your own home and receive the healing

You will find your own way of being still and silent, embrace it, and allow it to become a comfortable and healthy part of your life.

Keeping well

Keeping Well

I remember being told by one of my holistic teachers that receive healing when you are well. You don’t have to wait until you become unwell or distressed in order to seek a treatment. Having a healing treatment in whatever form when you are well continues to support the body’s own natural ability to heal itself and maintain a healthy equilibrium of mind, body and spirit.

The body is marvellous at healing itself and it continues to regenerate continuously throughout our lives. However it can only do this when it is in a relaxed physiological state. Low grade stress, pain, anger, discomfort does not contribute to a healthy body.

The stress hormones alone will be putting the body on an alert system thus taking away its capacity at that time to kick start a natural healing process. The more we can invoke a sense of relaxation or calmness within ourselves the healthier we will be. How you do this has no one single answer. There are many, many ways to kick start our own healing process, sometimes we need the assistance from others and at times we are more than capable of doing it ourselves. We need to value the importance of our health and how it enables us to live our lives.

Here are a few suggestions that you can do yourself:-

 * Take 5 mins a day to slow down breathing -try 7/11 breathing – in for 7 and out for 11

* Go outside and walk as often as you can, just park a bit further away or have your lunch outside. The NHS is advocating the health benefits of walking (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/walking-for-health/)

* Stop and listen – to music, to the birds, to the wind – no phone, no interruptions

* Use a meditation/relaxation app (5 suggested ones here)

 * Resolve issues, don’t harbour grudges, accept, change or move on from underlying stress

 Here are a few suggestions that will enhance your health:-

 * Reiki – will promote a very deep relaxed state to enable your body to natural rebalance and re-energise

* Mindfulness classes

 * Healing session – such as Shamanic healing , reflexology, Indian head massage etc

* Learn how to use Tapping to calm down and switch off the “alarm system” in your brain

 * Seek advice on how to resolve long standing issues

What do I do? Well I do just 10 minutes of Reiki a day, book in for a shamanic healing session every 3 months or so, treat myself to a facial, walk when I get the opportunity and read with no radio or television on.

Whatever methods and techniques work for you, use them! Our bodies have to cope with an awful lot in our lives and we don’t always look after them the best that we can. Give them a break, enable them to help us and don’t wait until it breaks down!

Steps towards wellbeing

Four horsesmen of negativity

The Four Horsemen of Negativity

It was Dr John Gottman who coined the phrase the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and related it to negative behaviours within relationships.

We can take this model and equate the Four Horsemen of Negativity – Monotony, Tiredness, Complexity and News to having an impact upon our perception of wellbeing and happiness.

According to Andy Cope, author of The Art of Being Brilliant each of these areas add a bit more stress and negativity to our lives.

Monotony

Although at times we can do with a quiet life, going through the same routines, eating the same food, doing the same work with the same people can reduce our experiences and sense of living and enjoyment.  Monotony can limit our potential and we may never find out what we are truly capable of doing and being until we step out of our routines.

Tiredness

There is a huge array of research on the importance of sleep and most of the time it may not be of concern but when we become tired and struggle to replenish our energy we can become increasingly more stressed and irritable.  This in turn can impact upon the people around us and may lead to conflict.  Focus and concentration are affected along with our sense of humour and capacity for tolerance.

Complexity

We may think that life is never simple but sometimes we are our own worst enemy and make things more complex than they really are.  How easy is it to get fixated and hung up on small stuff that in reality really doesn’t matter?  With our truly wonderful minds and belief systems we can “make a mountain out of a molehill”, we can make assumptions or jump to conclusions thus increasing the complexity of a situation.

News

In today’s world we are bombarded with constant information and have access to world news 24 hours a day.  It is good to be informed but remember that the news we hear is already being filtered, someone else is choosing what we hear or read or in some cases making it all up.  News can be depressing and therefore can affect our mood and wellbeing.

So what can we do to get ourselves away from these Four Horsemen of Negativity?

  • Change habits, (watch the video on this), do something different, become mindful of what you are doing and give yourself choices.
  • Listen to your body clock, go to sleep when you are tired and get up at a regular time.
  • Reduce the complexity of situations by deciding whether you can change them or need to accept them or are able to let them go because in the long run they are not that important. “Don’t sweat the small stuff”!
  • Turn off the news at least three times a week, avoid listening to it or buying a paper and do something else that is rewarding and enjoyable.

Ride away from negativity and reclaim you health and wellbeing!