Storytelling

Storytelling – do we still need it?

Listen with Mother and Jackanory are just two examples of storytelling from childhood memories.  Snuggling down alongside my Mum to listen to the radio or that quiet time listening and watching  the latest story on Jackanory before tea time still resonates today.  Both forms of storytelling held me enraptured and captivated by the words being spoken and the images created in my young mind.  The story allowed me as a young child to go into another world, to come away from the present and lose myself in the narrative of the theme.  For a child, storytelling whether through books, television or radio brought comfort, soothing, excitement and a tinge of fear and unknowingly an understanding of our world and a part within it.

Storytelling is an art form that has been in existence since mankind first inhabited this earth.  It was a way to share learning, to pass on crucial information and to evoke a sense of belonging.   Whilst in Namibia and visiting the oldest desert in the world, storytelling was in evidence in the form of rock art which were over 5000 year old, telling the story to the next reader of the type of game that could be found, where water was located and how to reach it.

Every culture has it ways to recount stories from one generation to another.  Storytelling is a link to our ancestors and their past knowledge but each story, retold over generations, fits its own modern paradigm.  Fairy stories illustrated this beautifully as they are redesigned each time with its own unique meaning to connect with contemporary culture.  Little Red Riding Hood was recreated by the Brothers Grimm to highlight the dangers of straying away from the path, the norm or the conventional.  It was thought that this story originated in 17th Century and known as Red Cap, often ended with the wolf and girl ending up in bed together!

Telling stories needn’t just be verbal, they can be drawn, written, sung and danced.  They can be in the form of riddles, fables, ballads and sayings.  Whatever the form, the key to the power of stories is the connection between speaker and listener – a connection from soul to soul with the receiver being an equal part of the process.  Each individual listener will perceive their own unique understanding of the underlining message within the folds of the story.  The listener needs to be ready to receive with open ears and heart and allow meaning to resonate within themselves.  How they absorb and embrace the meaning will be relevant to them at that current moment in time.  Great story tellers have that connection to their audience that engenders a curiosity to seek further understanding.

Maybe the art of storytelling has become diluted in the Western World, we have lost the respect of our elders and are so bombarded with constant information that the power of a single saying, theme  or sentence gets lost before it can be heard and assimilated.  However, within Shamanic practice storytelling is crucial for the connection with our ancestors, our understanding of the past, present and future and integral to personal growth.  So let us revere the Shaman’s skills at imparting knowledge and understanding through the ancient art of storytelling.

Tapping or EFT

Tapping as a Self-Help Tool

Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a gentle, non-invasive and effective way to bring down intensity of emotions.  It has been used since the 1970s and more research is being done on this intervention indicating the effect it has on the brain and body.  As it is easy to learn and apply it can be an incredibly powerful technique that once learnt can be applied to almost anything and anywhere.

The basic theory behind EFT or Tapping is that all negative emotions are a result of disruption to the body’s energy system.  So by tapping on these energy systems, Meridians, the energy is re-adjusted and restored to bring about a different emotional state, reduced pain and a change of perspective on beliefs and thoughts.

EFT works on the emotional cause of such issues as:-

Pain, depression, anxiety, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, panic, confidence issues, weight loss and cravings, stress, headaches, self-esteem to name just a few!

A part of the brain, the amygdala, is our alarm detector and any stressful, distressing emotion or thought triggers this alarm off to release such hormones as adrenaline and cortisol, keeping the body on fight/flight alert even with low grade persistent stress.  This can also link back into long term memories which continue to raise the intensity of emotion.

So by tapping on certain points the brain starts to relearn that although the thought/memory/emotion is distressing the alarm system starts to switch off as it is no longer feeling threatened.

A good example is post traumatic stress disorder where after Tapping is applied, the memory of the event remains but the emotion that was attached to it is no longer intense – it has reduced or completely disappeared.

Once you learn where and how to tap you can tap on symptoms such as pain, headaches, muscular tension.  You can tap on emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, grief.  You can tap on an actually event such as going to the dentist, speaking to new people, public speaking and you can also tap on the limiting beliefs that underlie perceptions about ourselves and memories from childhood that have formed those beliefs.

There are many good examples of using Tapping on the internet such as The Tapping Solution and EFT Universe.

If you would like more information about how to use Tapping please feel free to contact me.

Abundance and generosity of Nature

Abundance from Nature

September is the month for gathering in the harvest and making use of the bounty in the hedgerows.  Since we were first on this Earth we have been making use of Mother’s Nature generosity and abundance to help us get through the darker leaner months of winter.

This year appears to have produced an abundance of blackberries , sloes and apples ready for the birds and animals to feast upon or for us, humans, to create alcoholic beverages and warming pies! We can’t always rely on produce being available and certainly farmers this year have had a tough time due to the harsh wet winter and then parched dry summer.  It is very easy to be removed from our food source and therefore not appreciate what we are receiving.

Recognition of food is highlighted in September with the harvest festival in Christian tradition and pagan celebrations of the Autumn equinox.  Whatever way we celebrate or appreciate our abundance it is not to be taken for granted and it is the same when we receive from others.  It is often a pleasure to give things or do things for free to others but we also need to be aware that by doing so we may  leave others indebted to us or become depleted in our own resources as we continually give but not look after ourselves.

One of the first things I learnt in Reiki after qualifying at Level One was that there needs to be an exchange of some kind.  People need to give back for what they receive in order to fully appreciate what has been given.  The exchange doesn’t need to be financial but can be in any shape and form.

The article Planting the Seeds of Generosity quite rightly talks about what we send out we get back in return so we need to balance what we can do for others and how we can best look after ourselves.   Just as nature works in balance with using the nutrients from the soil she also gives back by enriching it for the following year.

So when we gather our berries from the hedgerow or our beans from the garden or even the food we buy in supermarkets why not give something back in form of thanks or a gift to the earth that has provided us with this abundance.

Nature and well being

Using the Resources of Nature

We need only step outside and be embraced by nature.  Even in an urban environment we will walk under trees or pass by flowers growing up in cracks of pavement.  We will see the sky, feel the breeze and hear the sounds of birds.

Our ancestors knew the power of nature, learning how to read the signs, working alongside her and honouring her beauty and strength.  As human kind evolved we eventually moved away from nature putting our trust in new industry and technology.  Nature has never left us though and today we are more in need than ever to find health and peace from her.

Everything around is energy so it’s not surprising that sitting under a tree or walking along the banks of a stream can have a positive effect on our sense of well being.  Peace or the sounds of nature allow our minds to relax, to be free to wander in thought, to reflect or just be in the present moment.

Research is showing that being out in nature can reduce hypertension, decrease stress, improve mood and restore energy.  Just being outside for 5 minutes can lower blood pressure and if you combine it with using all your senses the overall effect is one of total immersion in the present moment.

Other benefits of being in nature include:-

  • Stress relief
  • Improved concentration
  • Increased mobility of joints
  • Creative thinking
  • Increased boost to immune system
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Reduced risk of early death

 

Using nature’s resources is easy.  Just a 10 minute walk each day, take your time to see colours and shapes, tune into background and foreground noise, sense what you can feel, be aware of smells.

Over the year be aware of a specific tree and how it changes with the season – the flowers, fruit, bark and leaves.

Look up into the sky and notice the clouds, how they form, what shape they make and how they move.

If it is difficult to access the outdoors, indoor houseplants or growing seeds on the windowsill can also have health benefits.

Nature is free and all around us so make the most of it to boost your health.

 

(extracts taken from e-book A Guide to Common Sense Well Being)

 

tuning into our bodies

Tuning in to our Bodies

Our bodies are truly amazing and by tuning into our bodies it can help us in so many ways.  Our bodies are energy, parts of which regenerate continually so our body is not the same one we had a year ago.

According to Deepak Chopra how we live and relate to our bodies is based on our underlying beliefs about it.  Your body has unlimited potential and when you choose to consciously change your assumptions about it then change is manifested through our physical being.  Every day we can be exposed to a range of energy from others and the environment we inhabit.  Everything within our environment has an unseen energy that impacts upon our wellbeing and health.

By tuning into our bodies we are given a range of information that can support balance and harmony within.

An exercise that I have used many times with students both within Reiki and Neuro-lingusitic programming (NLP), is to stand still and ask your body to show you what “yes” is.  Notice how your body moves and in which direction.  Then do the same and ask your body to show” no” and again notice how it moves.

Once you have established how your body reacts to these responses you can then ask it many things.  If you want to know whether a certain food is good for you, hold the food or a picture of it in your hand and ask your body “do I need this food today?” and be aware of the yes or no response.  This is your body’s answer to go with or ignore! I use it to ask which crystals I would benefit from that day.  You may notice that the body stays still and that can relate to a maybe or it doesn’t matter response.

For placing items, ornaments, pictures around the home hold the item and ask if it is best placed in the south, west, east or north direction.

Ideally ask the body a question that has a yes or no answer and then be guided by the response.

Our gut instinct, the energy within, the communication of our bodies is a wonderfully gift that we all have the ability to pay attention to and appreciate.

So why not make the most of our truly wonderfully physical being and engage in subtle communication to bring harmony and wellbeing into our lives.

Fresh energy

Bringing In Fresh Energy

Energy is constantly around us – from our environment, from others and from ourselves.  We may be good at looking after ourselves through exercise, healthy food but how often we do think about the energy within our homes?  As the months get warmer we may do a bit of Spring cleaning which means cleaning and hovering, dusting and de-cluttering.  However, how often do we continue to “clean” our homes by cleansing the energy within them throughout the year?

Energy within rooms of the house can become stagnant and stale.  Have you ever had the experience  of walking into a house or room and it just feel uncomfortable although you may not know why? It can be because the air and atmosphere has become stuck, it is unable to circulate freely, so every now and then, in your own home, set the intention to bring in new, fresh healing energy.  We can do this in a variety of ways and here are some suggestions:-

  • Start with the intention in your mind of clearing away stale negative energy and replace with new, fresh healing energy
  • Clap your hands within each corner of a room
  • Use a singing bowl or chimes to create vibration
  • Positions crystals in strategies places, remembering to clean your crystals first
  • Smudge each room using Sage or Palo Santo
  • Hum or sing to increase vibration into the room
  • De-mist using water and a few drops of aromatherapy oils
  • Bring light into dark corners with lamps or candles
  • Rearrange your furniture so the energy can move freely
  • Create a through draught by opening windows and doors
  • Add flowers and houseplant
  • Play loud music and dance
  • Clean windows inside and out to attract light through them

Each season can be a great reminder to freshen up each room.  Do you have any other suggestions?

Reiki and NHS

Reiki, Spiritual Needs and The NHS

I have been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years working within mental health.  I worked very much using a social care model rather than a medical model which allowed me to look at the person’s whole needs in their lives.

I considered their ability to look after their personal care, how they related with others, their self-esteem, involvement with activities and interests as well as work performance.  I worked alongside the person through the use of therapeutic activities. I was aware of the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of the person.

However many years later as a Reiki Master I added another dimension to my work – spiritual needs.  This is not about religion or faith but recognition of using and being aware of energy that is in us and around us “an innate human need to connect to something larger than ourselves” (Cindy Wigglesworth).

My own process with Reiki has been quite rapid but probably there was always an awareness of our own ability to “heal” ourselves, of the ability we all had within us to create change.  I view change now in a much bigger context, not just as physical or emotional but with an additional “spiritual” presence and need.

One of the biggest changes in my practice now is not having outcomes.  As an NHS employee outcomes and targets were an integral part of my work with some being absolutely crucial and vital.  However I felt that some outcomes limited the extent of progress and reduced creativity and flexibility.

As a Reiki practitioner I now let go of outcomes and trust that the Reiki I deliver will manifest itself for that person’s good.  I trust that the body, mind and soul will receive what it needs. I heard someone once talk about Reiki using this example:-Take a piece of paper and write the word “sugar” on it.  Then lick the paper.  Does it taste like sugar? No.

Reiki has to be experienced as everyone’s experience will be different and unique to them.  We can talk and read about it but can never really get a sense of it until you receive it.
Reiki can be used alongside conventional treatment to enhance the healing process and also to ease pain and discomfort and reduce stress.

I have used Reiki for people with low mood, stress, anxiety and fibromyalgia and I feel truly privileged to be able to offer Reiki in my work as a coach and therapist as I feel it brings that additional dimension to wellbeing and health.

Organisations, such as Cancer Research UK are now recognizing the benefits of Reiki as complimentary to conventional medicine and with all such treatments, must be undertaken by qualified and accredited practitioners.

 

Inner self

Working with our Inner Self

Working on our inner self can be difficult, uncomfortable and yet ultimately life changing.  As I do more and more holistic work on myself I am shedding past ways of doing and thinking and turning my focus to my inner self.  Over 30 years in the NHS led me to be more external in my approach in working with people.  My role was to listen and support them in making sometimes very practical changes that could enhance their life.  As an Occupational Therapist I was always aware of the many facets of our physical environment, interaction with others, self awareness and psychological health that made up our holistic wellbeing.  What I wasn’t so aware of was our spiritual health and the inner wisdom that we have to deeply heal ourselves.  This has come later into my life and I am still very much on this path.

What I have learnt recently is that answers to our problems and dilemmas, lie within us and we need to really explore these areas of loss, grief, anger and avoidance. There is a need to “go within” and converse with our bodies and our higher self to explore our missing parts and to discover what we need to do to replenish and fill it.

Amy B Scher has written bestsellers on how she helped herself heal from chronic illness and suggests that we ask of ourselves the following questions:-

“What are my symptoms keeping me from doing?” In other words what is your fear/avoidance.

“What am I feeling about my illness?” eg guilt, sadness, anger etc

“Therefore just before my illness what was I feel (sad, angry guilty) about?”

These powerful questions can uncover the true cause of illness and why it is manifesting itself physically.

Using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tap on the feelings that arise from these questions to help bring down any intensity and allow forgiveness and acceptance to come in.  The best place to tap for this is on the Thymus gland, just a couple of inches down from the notch on your sternum, below your throat.  Tap here saying “I now let go of these (feelings) as I start to accept and forgive myself”.

This is just one way of exploring your inner self and addressing the often unknown causes of what holds us back.

If you have any experience or thoughts about this blog please feel free to contact me.

Time to look after ourselves

A Little Time for Yourself

How much time do you spend looking after yourself?

We can all do with a bit of “me” time to ensure that we are feeling at our best.  How much time do we need to get ourselves back on top form and how do we do that?

There are many ways to look after ourselves and we know that exercise and diet play a crucial part in this. However our minds and our spiritual wellbeing also need a boost to enhance wellbeing and there are a variety of ways that will help.

Reiki self healing

If you practice Reiki then just a few minutes a day, connecting with energy, balancing chakras or giving yourself Reiki can set you up for the day ahead.  It may be 5 minutes or upto an hour – the key thing is to fit it into your lifestyle rather than not to do any at all.  Whilst sitting in a traffic jam or waiting outside the school gates can be a great opportunity to connect and intend Reiki to flow into you.  No need to set up the environment, just be – bring in an awareness of resonating  with energy within you and allow it to expand, be the energy and connect with healing light.

Mindfulness

You may wish to learn Mindfulness in a group setting or just apply the principles as a way to self-heal and look after yourself.  Mindfulness encourages you to be totally aware of your body and mind, to be in the present moment.  It is very easy to be in our thoughts and to almost live our lives in our heads rather than through the reality of the moment.  This website explains how you can start being mindful and improve your overall health.

Relaxation

How you relax can take many forms with the purpose of allowing the body and mind to switch off and to slow down.  You may wish to use a relaxation CD along with a guided relaxation which is a great way to switch your focus away from busy thoughts.  Relaxation may be having a bath rather than a shower or spending time reading or doing a crossword.  Whatever type of relaxation you do ensure that you are doing it on a regular basis, at least weekly if not daily.

Nature

There is a lot of research indicating that using nature can greatly enhance wellbeing both physically and mentally.  Just being outside for 5 minutes can lower blood pressure and if you combine it with using all your senses the overall effect is one of total immersion in the present moment.  Take your time to see colours and shapes, tune into background and foreground noise, sense what you can feel, be aware of smells and if you are feeling brave taste some of the foliage (please make sure you know it is safe to do so)!  Use the healing effect of Nature through gardening or walking.  If you don’t have a garden indoor houseplants or growing windowsill seeds will also be of benefit to you.  Nature is free and all around us so make the most of it to boost your health.

 

Whatever methods you employ don’t ever forget to look after yourself.  I know how easy it is to get caught up in everyday life and before you know it another week has passed by and you have forgotten to look after yourself.  Schedule in time that works for you and use whatever approaches bring about balance, peace and harmony within you.

What ways do you use to self heal?

Time stress

Time is of the Essence!

It seems that nowadays that we have a scarcity of time although 24 hours has always been 24 hours!  I know when I worked for an organisation that had targets and outcomes to achieve,  time felt as if it was rushing away and certainly at times there were not enough hours in the day.

There is a theory that as we get older it feels as if time is zooming by and speeding up but that may be because we have so many more past reference points to compare on our continuum of time in comparison with younger people.  Young children live in the present, they don’t look back and see what has been or they don’t look into the future – wanting time to hurry up.  As Andy Cope says in “The Art of Being Brilliant” don’t be a “destination addict” always wishing that it was the end of the week or that holidays would hurry up.  The more we slow down the more we are in tune with the reality of time.

Research has been done by Professor Phillip Zimbardo on time perspective and concluded that our attitude to time is defined by key personality traits such as optimism and sociability, visit  PsychCentral to take the test on your perspective of time.

Recently due to the adverse weather you may have found yourself with unplanned time.  How did you spend it? Was it an opportunity to sit quietly with a good book, do some meditation or self -healing? The fear for some people is that if they are not busy then they are not working and it can feel a struggle to do”nothing”. Filling in time does not necessarily mean being busy, we can do ourselves a favour by making time for quieter pursuits and allow our mind and body to recharge and relax to counter-balance our busy lives.  What we put into our time is, most of the time, under our control so choose wisely and choose well.