Monday, 11 January 2021

Getting By In These Covid Times

Over the past year many people have experience great difficulties both with their circumstances and with their mental health. The NHS has been severely stretched in providing help to those people who are experiencing mental health concerns. There are long long waiting lists for people to receive any sort of therapy or counselling or psychiatric assessment. 

What I want to talk about here is by no means a replacement or a solution to people experiencing these difficulties but more of a look at re-contextualising your circumstances that I know has worked for me and my partner. The following is something that I experienced through doing a course called The Landmark Forum and reading the subsequent further writings of Werner Erhard. 

How we assess and make decisions about our future is by looking at what we know and don't know about the circumstances faced. We gather information and way up the prose and cons before making decisions about what direction to proceed in. Some of us are more impetuous than others but there is always some consideration given to what course of action to take no matter how quickly or slowly that decision is arrived at.

This weighing up process is all made through a filter. This filter has been created over the course of our lives and informs everything that we decide and do. That is why people go from one set of circumstances to another with very little actually changing in their lives. How many people do you know-its always easier to look at other people than ourselves-who's relationships always look exactly the same no matter who they are with? 

If we want to have a fighting chance of breaking free from our conditioned decision making then some other approach is necessary. Choice is one of the most powerful tools we can use as humans. So what do I mean by choice? Well this might sound a little crazy but when fully embraced really works. If you are stuck with making a decision, which most of us experience from time to time, then choosing is a very powerful way forward. Where you need to stand with this is 'I choose because I choose' and 'It may work and it may not but I choose it and will now cause it to work'. This approach takes courage and practice but is incredibly freeing. Now this may not make a great deal of sense to you presented like this but it's not generally a concept that you can get cognitively but needs to be used in your life to see the benefits.

The other use of choice may seem even crazier but is even more powerful when used in your life! We have it that we need a number of objects/circumstances or concepts to make a choice. Take on that you can choose with only one object/circumstance or concept. I can choose my circumstances no matter how awful and free myself from resisting them. Resistance does one absolutely no good whatsoever! This doesn't mean that you accept your circumstances and take no actions to change them. You can choose these circumstance and still be committed to altering/transforming them.

Let me give you an example of choice in action in my life. A few years ago I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and eventually started a chemotherapy regime. So did I feel upset and aggrieved at these pretty awful circumstances? Well yes I did. And did this upset change my circumstances in any way? Well no not at all. So I eventually chose my cancer. I didn't surrender to it or give up attempting to heal it but chose it the way it was and the way it wasn't. This made a profound impact on the way I have dealt with life since. Now again this concept or way of thinking doesn't work by just processing it but needs to be taken onboard and used in ones life.

Imagine if you could choose every circumstance in your life this way? How would that look? Imagine if you could choose all of the circumstance that we are experience with our current Covid Pandemic. We would be crazy to want this in our lives but if we could powerfully choice it and give up the complaint and the resistance how would that be?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

What The Baboons Can Teach Us

This amazing short film demonstrates that it is possible to transform how we interact with each other within cultures. So move over testosterone filled alpha males your time is over! We can have a more joyful, nurturing and compassionate society. If the baboons can do it then it's completely possible for us. I'm not advocating killing off the dominate males but transforming their behaviour would be a good start. Please step this way Mr President.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Tapping To Reduce Cravings

The Body Keeps The Score

I'm currently reading Bessel Van Der Kolk's book 'The Body Keeps The Score-Mind, Brain & Body In The Transformation Of Trauma' for the third time. Its a fabulous book and written with such an understanding of the content that it's recreated in a way that is easily accessible to people with limited experience in this area. The most valuable aspect of the book for me is that Van Der Kolk has such an open and inquiring mind and explores many often controversial therapies and is seldom dismissive if he thinks that there is some value in them.

He looks in depth at the history of treating trauma and the latest developments in this area and also looks at new therapies that are becoming recognized by therapists including EMDR, yoga and meditation, neurofeedback and many others. His chapter 'Healing From Trauma: Owning Yourself' is alone worth the cover price. Here he explores 'Defending The Emotional Brain'   and explains a very simple but effective technique to deal with hypererousal.

Learning to breathe calmly and remaining in a state of relative physical relaxation even while accessing painful and horrifying memories, is an essential tool for recovery. When you deliberately take a few deep breaths, you will notice the effect of the parasympathetic brake on your arousal. The more you stay focused on your breathing, the more you will benefit , particularly if you pay attention until the very end of the out breath and then wait a moment before you inhale again. As you continue to breathe and notice the air moving in and out of your lungs you may think about the role that oxygen plays in nourishing your body and bathing your tissues with the energy you need to feel alive and engaged'

This has been a technique that I have successfully used with clients who are at the effect of past trauma and so consumed by this that they have no access to any other way of being. Once the limbic system takes over there is no possible progress until calm can be restored. An effective way of doing this is to place your hand on your heart whilst breathing in for six and then out for eleven. All the while focusing your attention on your heart filling with oxygen and your nervous system becoming calmer.

"Trauma & Attachment" Seminar with Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D. PESI Continuing Education PESI Continuing Education