Buzzing Thoughts and River Walks

I have mentioned that I’m finishing off a book on stress and anxiety a couple of times in recent posts, well I’m pleased and quite excited to announce that the Kindle version is now available on Amazon! See link below. I will do a fuller post about the book when the paperback is available.

As for the paperback itself I am currently putting the final bits together for this and it could have been finished by now but I took a break as I hit a wall with the head nippy aspects of doing this myself (though I am indebted to my friend Ian Bailey- Scudamore for grammatical and flow of words editing, this man is a master of the English language and I would highly recommend his services as an editor). Last week after my second day going through the time consuming process of designing the cover, layout editing etc. I finally went out for a walk early evening and found that my head was buzzing for the first ten minutes. Not something I experience much of these days so it was interesting in the context of what I have been writing about over the past couple of months. What brought calm back fairly quickly was focussing on the nature all around me. I was walking along the River Avon and the sound of the river coupled with the sight of the intense greens of the trees and undergrowth was profoundly peaceful. I feel blessed that I live in this very pretty part of West Lothian, the photo in this post is a part of this river.

In today’s post I thought I’d write a couple of ways to quieten the mind by coming into the present moment through the sense of sight. The first way is through nature as mentioned above, if you can get outside anywhere with flowers or trees or water, stop and imagine you are breathing in the beauty, and order, of what you are seeing. Focus completely on what is in front of you, if it’s a plant fill your mind with the details – colour, size, shape overall and of the individual parts, notice parts you may never have noticed before, perhaps look at it the way an artist would, from the tiniest details to the overall impression, do this as if nothing else exists in this moment. As for water, if you are near a river let your mind flow with the direction of the river, the effortless movement of the water; if it faces an obstacle such as a rock it simply flows around it or perhaps the rhythm and vastness of the sea or the stillness of a lake.

The second exercise is more immediate, stop whatever you are doing and pick an object in the room, really examine the object, the shapes, the perfection of form, the colours, textures – look at it as a collection of the above, forget what it’s purpose is for a few moments. What else do you notice? Allow this to fill your mind; for a couple of minutes there is nothing else to think about. When you come back to yourself unless your previous thoughts were practical or deeply peaceful were they really that important?

I am writing this the day after Midsummer Solstice – if there was ever a time to focus on the awesomeness of nature and the natural order of the cosmos it would be the Solstice and eclipses this year! Below is a link to a five minute video detailing the geometry and astronomy of this weekends eclipse , it’s really quite mind blowing…

Breathe for Health

Photo by Rahul Pandit on Pexels.com

Breathing, something we tend to take for granted until it becomes difficult or we experience the healing power of guided breathwork. These days I’m sure most people who have had the most basic introduction to well-being, through being helped to combat stress or within health and fitness classes have experienced the power of conscious breathing. When I was young, in my early twenties, there was very little information available on how to deal with anxiety and stress in a practical way and of course now with the internet there is a wealth of information available. For me back then yoga was the first introduction. I remember in one of my first yoga classes I was so ignorant about breathwork I felt quite panicky as the teacher led us through a yogic type breathing exercise – I think I ended up hyperventilating! I just couldn’t understand what she was doing…

Aside from that I did love the actual yoga asanas and probably through doing them naturally slowed and deepened the breath. I’m sure anyone reading this post has done a little if not extensive breathwork but if not, or if taking a friend through a relaxing breathing exercise it is best to start very simply, by observing the breath. Further down this post is an audio with some simple breathing exercises that are relaxing in themselves, but first some words about why paying attention to our breath is so good for us.

One chief benefit of conscious breathwork is that of inducing a state of relaxation. It does this by switching on the parasympathetic nervous system, this is the “rest and digest, heal and repair” aspect of our nervous system as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which engages the fight or flight response. The key thing to remember is that these two systems cannot work at the same time. When you switch on the parasympathetic system you switch off fight and flight. It will of course take time for the biological processes that have been set in motion to disperse but at least you are not adding to them, you are now beginning the healing phase and should fairly quickly notice the positive effects. The health benefits of breathwork are many and through regular use you will entrain deeper breathing by default. Our breath is part of the immune system which needs a good supply of oxygen to work optimally. Another little known fact is that of weight loss, where does the fat go when we lose weight? It is breathed out.

Yes really, it all boils down to chemistry, if you don’t believe me look it up! Now this does not mean that if we breathe more we lose weight. But I do wonder if people who struggle to lose weight despite strict diets, simply need to relax and breath more fully to activate a perhaps sluggish metabolism. It is well known that anxiety can cause weight gain just as it can cause unexplained weight loss.

However, as breathing is something to be experienced rather than talked about I have recorded four different ways to use the breath for relaxation and health. The first two methods also target the vagus nerve, this is the longest cranial nerve, beginning at the brain stem and winding down through the body connecting several major organs and systems. Poor vagal tone can affect the heart, breathing, the entire digestive system, speech, auto-immune functions and inflammatory conditions and several other physical processes. This nerve is the subject of several books and articles now as it’s importance has been underestimated when it comes to health and well-being.

The third exercise on the audio is Resonant or Coherent Breathing, this is a method of breathwork that maximises heart rate variability which is needed for good heart health. The final one is simply five minutes of relaxation focussing upon observing our breathing without having to do anything. Under the audio below I have given written instructions. More information about all of the above is in my book on stress and anxiety which should be available soon!

The background music for the breathing exercises has been recorded at the Solfeggio tone of 528Hz. This Solfeggio frequency is that of Love, it is used for healing, to repair DNA and to induce more positive states of mind. I will write about these tones in a future post. In the meantime, look up the Solfeggio tones on youtube if this interests you.

Diaphragmic Breathing or Deep Belly Breathing

  • If new to this then try it lying down at first, or simply practice in bed at night for a good nights sleep. Place one hand lightly on the chest and the other on the top of the belly over the diaphragm.
  • Focus on the belly and slowly breath in as fully as possible, feel as if you are pulling air right down into the base of the lungs, the belly should rise as you breath in.
  • Breathe out slowly, gently pulling the belly back in.
  • Allow a natural pause between breaths.
  • There should be as little movement in the chest as possible
  • You could practice this for 3-5 minutes.

Audible Breathing

  • When the exhale is audible, as when breathing onto a pane of glass to fog it up, the glottis at the back of the tongue, is partially closed. As the glottis is connected to the vagus nerve this form of breathwork stimulates the vagus nerve giving it a better tone.
  • Take a deep breath in through the nose.
  • Hold the breath for a second or two.
  • Breathe out fully with a hah sound.
  • Do this for about two minutes.

Resonant/Coherent Breathing

  • This uses 5 full breaths a minute to improve heart rate variability and reduce stress.
  • Inhale for a count of five then allow a natural, tiny pause.
  • Exhale for five, allow a tiny natural pause.
  • Continue for at least three minutes, up to five or six minutes.
  • If a count of five is a stretch at first then count in for four and out for four.

A Strain On The System

An apple a day…

The definition of stress is a “strain upon the system”; we talk a lot about stress, usually in the context of how stressed we are with work, family, people, life in general. I sometimes wonder what engineers from over a century ago would think about how we use this word now!

Seriously though, stress is obviously more than how we perceive life emotionally and mentally, it has to take into account nutrition, or lack of it, toxins in everything we eat, drink and breathe, the chronic mild dehydration prevalent in these times, electro-magnetic pollution, even the synthetic nature of the fabrics we surround ourselves with on our body and in our home.

How do we cope with this? It’s stressful just thinking about it! But, everything does have a solution.

I have found that making changes bit by bit works best as each small change we make to purify our lives and bodies stands a better chance of becoming permanent than big, bold changes that we often end up going back on. At the moment I’m finishing off a small book I wrote years ago on stress that I originally wrote as a booklet for people signing up to my newsletter. In itself this book is part of a gradual change process I’m going through but as I added to each chapter if I hadn’t already incorporated that subject into my life I made myself try it out properly. As the book is 90% focusing on mental and emotional stress this is my comfort zone of dealing with stuff but the physical details such as dietary change which I know, as I’m well into middle age is definitely a strain upon the system, was a lot more challenging – I do like my food, my sugar fixes and a glass of wine of an evening…

But I’ve persevered with the physical rejuvenation for various reasons , one of which of course is to not be a hypocrite! The other factor I have had to implement is that of challenging the self. I haven’t, at all, for the past two years challenged myself, and genuinely haven’t felt it was needed but at the beginning of this year just knew that I needed to go “outward” again. So since then have built a new website, rewrote a book, planned my second one, started a blog and began recording small audios at home. It has been challenging. Which is a good thing as it’s one of the things I address in the book itself. If we want to change a circumstance, even if that circumstance involves illness, anxiety, extreme stress, conflict or any number of other distressing parts of contemporary life that first instant of knowing you have to make a change is frightening for most people.

It’s usually the fear of the unknown or a fear that when brought out in the light of day is quite illogical (which I covered a little in the last post). To this end I have endeavored to make the book, called “Why Does Stress Make Us Ill?”, as reassuring, friendly and simple as possible with many ways to go about alleviating stress. Over the next few weeks I will write more about the topics covered in the book as I am intending that some of these process’s will be here in audio form as a free back up resource.

Today however I am just writing; the next post will cover the basics of breathing and include a guided audio, as a means of relaxing, of bringing health and vitality back to the body through increased oxygen uptake and also to beautify the complexion!

Until then, what are you currently struggling with that you know does not increase well-being? What small action could you take towards positive change? When you take that change please do congratulate and be grateful towards yourself for the courage to implement change. If you wish let me know in the comments what you have done!

Emotional Relief

Many, many years ago, after the breakup of a significant relationship I was cycling home one night trying as usual to suppress the feelings that were there, I remembered what I’d recently been reading in a book called “Emotional Clearing. In this book the author outlined a very simple way to let go of whatever you are feeling in the moment, to actually be in the present moment with the emotion. This may seem, well, kind of obvious in this age where the concept of mindfulness and being in the moment is everywhere but strangely enough still not grasped in any significant way when it comes to emotional freedom. Back then, even though I had years of therapeutic stuff under my belt it was still a revelation when I tried it, on my bike, thankfully in the dark as it involved tears! I took a deep breath in and out and just allowed the feelings to be felt. The revelation for me was, not only how easy it was to relieve the pressure that had been building up, but in the release of that first layer I realised why I’d been holding on to them. I was worried that if I released the guilt and loss over leaving him I would want to go back, this was so illogical that after ten minutes of crying I started laughing…

And this is an interesting point about emotional overwhelm and suppression, the illogicality of our thinking processes, conscious and unconscious. When we are caught up in the surface of a problem, usually going round and round with it both in our head and when talking about it, we seldom get below the surface and experience insights or revelations never mind complete release of the issue. There are exceptions to this of course such as Byron Katie’s “The Work”, or the “digging down” methods used by NLP, or an extremely skilled talk therapist who intuitively asks questions in such a way as to bring about release and insight. The difference with these examples is that certain ways of questioning bypass the conscious mind.

The mental body is separate enough from the emotional body to warrant different processes, though of course, as with every level of our being, they are intertwined; the methods mentioned above bridge both bodies. Despite that though we still need distinct methods to bring order to our thought processes and ways to specifically target emotional distress. We need methods that make dealing with distress easier in order to take the fear out of actually feeling the emotion, and that fear is significant for many reasons. One reason being that if there is unprocessed trauma or pain from the past because the unconscious mind always lives in the now moment the pain is still happening somewhere so we instinctively wish to avoid being retriggered. The problem with that though is the pain seems to take on arms and legs and grow bigger and farther away from reality with each telling. Nothing we remember is actually the truth of what actually happened, we remember through our own personal filters, and the further away the event the more it gets amalgamated with other memories until it’s an epic movie of pain and trauma. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were taught how to deal with this stuff in primary school!

So, where do we begin? In the present moment with what’s here now. If what is being presented now has roots in the past then that will either surface by itself or with a bit of digging/questioning we can go deeper. I would only recommend that if you are both comfortable with dealing with distress and know how to navigate through the process of going as deep as possible. In the meantime though I will describe a process similar to what I used all those years ago and still use in essence, though it’s been added to over the years through other training and experience so that the process I use now has evolved into quite a deep one that brings a more significant level of transformation.

At the foot of this post I have included a short audio version of this instruction as I think most of us find it easier to be guided through something rather than the drier version of reading a set of instructions. The process is as follows:

  • Take a deep breath in and out, bringing your attention into the body.
  • Ask yourself, “what am I feeling right now?”
  • Continue breathing deeply as you name or acknowledge what you notice.
  • As you name what is there then say, “Whatever I’m feeling is perfectly ok”, “It’s ok that I am feeling this, I’m ok”. Or words to that effect.
  • Continue breathing more fully in and out of whatever is there, tracking any changes that occur and continuing to accept yourself and what you are feeling until you feel calm or at least neutral.

There are three elements to this, each one important on it’s own but combined,very powerful, first is breathwork. When we feel an unpleasant feeling we tend to tighten around it therefore trapping the feeling inside, this is partly how we end up with so many issues and physical tension. There are many other reasons but I’m trying to keep this short! The second element is in the naming or at least acknowledgement of what’s there, you don’t even have to be clear, you may notice a clear emotion, a state of being, a sensation or perceived sensation or even pain in the body in relation to whatever is going on, you may not be able to name what’s there and that’s fine. The important thing is that if you can’t, within a couple of breaths, name what’s there then just acknowledge the sense of it, or perhaps you need to make a sound. Try not to get caught up in a dialogue about what you notice, it actually really doesn’t matter. If it’s important thoughts will simplyarise that give you clear insight, if that doesn’t happen then insight is not needed. The third element is self acceptance, this part cannot be underestimated. Our upbringing, culture, peer group, schooling and so on has made the display of emotion uncomfortable for most, so accepting that emotion, perfectly normal feelings which we all have, is there is key to easier and faster release.

A word of caution; if you suspect that something you may not be able to handle may get triggered by doing this work but you really want to experience some relief then I suggest you seek help, perhaps a trusted friend who would do this process with you or find a therapist online while we are still in lockdown. I am still offering discounted sessions online whilst the country is in lockdown mode.

A Calm, Quiet Mind

Some suggestions and a meditation I have recorded for calming the mind

We are in our third month of lockdown now and no doubt there are many concerns about how much longer does this go on, what happens when it ends, what are the consequences post lock down for a world that has come to a virtual standstill? Perhaps you are struggling with information overload and simply can’t take any more uncertainty – all the various theories out there – the official and unofficial narratives, the arguing, debates that turn hostile. The best thing to do in this scenario is turn off the news and try not to engage too much with social media!

Or perhaps corona is small in comparison to your personal circumstances that may already have been difficult and you now feel marginalised and overlooked, as you don’t have the right to a voice about your concerns. If this is the case you are not alone. There is so much else going on that has been ignored or swept under the carpet in a corona obsessed world but that does seem to be changing now.

Following are a few simple tips for quietening the mind including, at the foot of this post, the first recording that I have published online! I certainly needed some calming techniques myself this past week to navigate the tech that was time consuming and frustrating but in the end fairly simple in order to do this by myself.

So, what can we do when the mind is overactive with worry, fear, catastrophizing, imaginary conflicts and judgements? The first thing to do is not fight it with more negative self talk, this simply fixes your attention on the issue and adds more stress. Another don’t is to try and cover it up with positive thinking; by attempting this we set ourselves up for feeling like a failure, which of course adds to the distress. Aim to be as kind as possible to yourself, in this way success is more likely. Of course if you have already disciplined the mind to quite a degree it is fairly easy to step from negative to positive but this post is about those times when the struggle to do so is more difficult.

Whenever you catch yourself in mental turmoil then realise that the act of noticing this is a significant step, this is you taking a little step back, be sure to acknowledge yourself for this. This could take the form of, for instance, saying to yourself “I have let my thoughts run away with me again, that’s ok, at least I’m noticing”. This in itself brings a few moments of calm as your subconscious registers the kindness of this. Or you could simply say “stop”, firmly but with affection as if you were disciplining a puppy.

From here decide what is needed; if you are a very long way from even attempting a positive thought, never mind a positive feeling, then focus attention as much as possible on a practical task, such as writing a shopping list or planning dinner, or washing the dishes etc. Another fix in the moment is to slow down, when anxious we speed up so deliberately slow down, perform a task slowly, walk slowly, pause every so often and take a deep breath in and very, very slowly, breath out. Open your mouth and stretch the jaw, don’t close your mouth again, this will prevent the jaw clenching and also slow the thoughts a little.

Another fix in the moment is to focus mindfully on our senses, bring your focus to five things you can see, five things you can hear and then five things you can feel, such as sensations of clothes on your skin, a breeze, the feeling in the body as you breathe etc.

If you have a garden or are near a park then take this further, simply lie down and gaze at the sky, or through the branches of a tree. This is calming not only because of the focus upon nature but the physiological act of bringing your gaze upwards takes you out of the kinesthetic sense and therefore out of some of the emotion which may have been triggered by the thoughts. In the next post I will focus on dealing with emotion and include a short audio walking you through a simple release process. But for now I hope you enjoy the following meditation.

Health, Censorship and Whack-a-Mole

It’s been a long while since I wrote a post, I had a blog several years ago but didn’t keep it up – perhaps I will be more disciplined this time. My intention for several weeks now was to write about general well-being, updates on what’s happening on the planet energetically and how that affects us on all levels. That will of course still be the theme during the corona virus situation; however with the first post I feel moved to address an issue that has been a concern for alternative health practitioners for well over a decade but is now becoming serious.

That issue is freedom of speech and the right to choose what we use regarding our health. This is being rapidly eroded in the light of a virus that – if you don’t follow the mainstream media’s hysterical level of fear mongering – all the scientific facts and data available so far point to it being, yes, a more contagious than usual virus but the same as seasonal flu in it’s level of fatality. There is of course much more could be said about that but it’s being said by people a lot more informed than I am.

What I will write about is the sheer level of censorship going on at the moment; such as videos being taken down that are perfectly sane and very reassuring by working doctors using actual CDC data, a lot of controversial conspiracy theory stuff and even videos promoting peaceful, global meditations just because the powers that be don’t like one of the presenters. However to refer to the somewhat odd title of this post I am actually quite happy to see that for every post being taken down another two or three pop up. When something gets censored millions of people then watch the video on another platform. In fact one online businessman got so angry about this erosion of free speech that he has built his own platform – crowdfunded and within a week had almost a million pounds. People are concerned and want access to the truth. And as Brian Rose, the businessman who set up his own platform, says often “I may not agree with everything (insert any name) says but I will defend to the hilt their right to say it”. I couldn’t agree more.

What was the tipping point for me in this? Well it was last week with the whole Trump and using disinfectant on corona debacle, reported, or misreported/taken out of context, by the news, official online warnings and plastered all over social media.

I watched Trump talking about this, and while I’m no fan of his, all it looked like to me was that here was a man bumbling his way through asking questions about something he’d never heard of and in his usual, somewhat narcissistic, way trying to excuse himself the next day by saying he was being sarcastic. I was intrigued by this enough to look up what he was talking about and what he was being advised about are two legitimate forms of health care that have been in use for at least a 100 years and are perfectly safe, I am of course talking about UV light therapy and MMS (Miracle Mineral Solutions) formula. Not bleach, Lysol, Detol or any of the quite ridiculous claims being made about these approaches.

I don’t know about UV light (I do however know that the action of UV light is described as being disinfecting) but I am extremely familiar with stuff like MMS, before antibiotics MMS was used to treat infectious diseases but being cheap to produce, and being natural cannot be patented, was discarded decades ago in favour of the stuff you can make billions of dollars from. I have used these kind of products, MMS only once I think as I prefer products such as OxyLift and OxyPower, since the 90’s. Since 1995 I have only been on one course of antibiotics, (treated all other infections naturally) that was last year when I got a small spike embedded in my toe when on holiday on a remote Scottish Island, I had nothing on me to treat it with and by the time I got home and saw a doctor several days later, it was infected, the spike was still in there and I just took the antibiotics as I was obviously tired of limping about with an infected foot! I took the antibiotics for only three days, long enough for the thing to work it’s way out and turned to healing the damage with essential oils. It healed very quickly, probably because I was back home and taking my OxyLift!

The point I’m making here is that I’m not dead yet! Brevity aside, MMS is a solution that not only is fit for human consumption but is formulated in a way that enhances cellular health, and to be perfectly clear, is taken in very small amounts.

What does this have to do with corona? Corona seems to be a disease that when serious, affects the health of the lungs and is characterized by a difficulty in the uptake of oxygen, this deficiency is on a cellular level so putting someone on a ventilator not only makes little difference but given the risks associated with these machines may contribute to their death. On the other hand if you improve the cellular uptake of oxygen in the blood the risk of death is greatly decreased. There is plenty of information about these products online – so far – but that is of course being censored. Every single time anyone will now look for MMS they will be frightened off by a warning about it, as if millions of people over the past few decades haven’t died from medical interventions and the side effects of pharmaceuticals…

I will finish with a quote that Luis Pasteur towards the end of his life is supposed to have said “the pathogen is nothing, the terrain is everything”. This is a truth that is widely spoken and written about in so many different ways but seems to have flown out the window in the light of this contagion. Of course we have to observe reasonable hygiene but health is so much more than that. The sheer abundance of information on how to keep ourselves healthy is staggering and well worth implementing. Over the next few weeks I will write about my favourites – without any lecturing!

Stay healthy and stay peaceful