Archive for the ‘Complementary therapies’ Category

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On Being An Empath (part two)

May 30, 2012

Part Two – The Delights

Empathy: the state of identification of personalities in which one person feels into the other as temporarily to lose his or her own identity. It is in this profound and somewhat mysterious process of empathy that understanding, influence, and the other significant relations between persons take place.  – Rollo May

In part one of “On Being An Empath” we examined the difficulties of being an empath. In this second part, we’ll now explore how to take care of yourself once you’ve recognised you’re an empath, and the delights which being an empath can bring.

TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Now you’ve recognised that you’re an empath, the most important change you can make is to take care of yourself by minimising the number of negative influences in your life. As discussed in part one, as an empath you are susceptible to the detrimental effects of negative energy, whether it’s surrounding energy or your own.

This susceptibility affects your life in a number of ways. Firstly, you will be unable to tolerate an unhealthy relationship at any level. Some people are able to exist in such a relationship for many years, perhaps by operating as though it were simply a business arrangement, but as an empath you are unable to do this. Indeed, if you do attempt to follow this course of action, you will end up becoming physically, emotionally or mentally sick – I have know more than one empath who has become suicidal when stuck in a loveless marriage. I have also known other empaths who have ended up becoming completely numb – unable to cope with the negative energy, they simply cut themselves off from ALL energy and feel nothing at all. What a horrible (non) existence. Consequently, the aware empath would rather remain single than be in a negative relationship.

You will also be unable to tolerate work which is meaningless – what Barry Jaeger in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person calls ‘Drudgery’. Though many people are able to tolerate a dull job purely for the money, you are not one of them and if you make such a sacrifice, you will ultimately pay for it with your emotional, spiritual and physical health. The aware empath values their time, their well-being and meaningful work far more than they value money and consumer goods. Sadly, our society revolves around the masculine principles of economics whilst the more feminine attribute of empathy is often derided and neglected. And whoever dreamt up the work ethic certainly did not have people like us in mind – and was definitely not an empath.

The empath’s preference for meaningful work means that you will find many of us working in creative fields – the writer, the musician and the artist will often have this trait to some degree. Creativity is food for the soul for the empath and I personally find it vital to my well-being to use creativity in my work. I’ve done many jobs over the years but this is the only work I’ve truly enjoyed – even the more stressful and tedious aspects are easier to cope with when your work means something more to you than just a way of paying the bills.

As an empath, you will also benefit from periods of solitude to recuperate after any energy bombardment. In part one I discussed the difficulties for the empath of being in an urban environment. As I’ve got older (and empaths often become more sensitive to energies the older they become) I find that if I spend the day in a nearby town, I can only last a few hours before I have to get the hell out of there.

I also used to have what I call ‘brain in the jar’ moments. Before I recognised my trait, I would spend too much time amongst other people and become so overwhelmed, that it literally felt as if my head would explode. I would also find myself becoming overwhelmed by stressful situations or issues in my life. Whenever I felt like this, I would comment that I wished I could ‘take my brain out of my head and put it in a jar’, as a way of giving myself a break. At some subconscious level, obviously I knew what I needed – complete and utter sensory rest.

Fortunately I eventually recognised this need so I now make sure that I regularly recharge my own energy by spending time alone, meeting my need for time to contemplate, read, write and generally take care of myself – and my ‘brain in the jar’ moments no longer occur. I also realised that, for the same reasons, empaths need more sleep than most people. If you have commitments such as work and family, this can be easier said than done, but at least try and take half an hour to nap or lie in a dark, quiet room during the course of the day to revitalise yourself.  Some empaths are so unable to cope with energy onslaughts that they become recluses or hermits, but for most of us there is no need to go to this extreme, although time spent in retreat for a few days can be a positive thing now and again. This can be particularly useful for urban empaths, as time out in a tranquil rural environment can really give you a boost as well as indulge your passion for nature, which occurs naturally for many empaths.

Finding a pastime which absorbs you is also a good way of giving yourself a break. My personal favourite used to be jigsaws – you’ll find that  ‘geeky’ pastimes like model-making or stamp collecting are particularly good for this, as are creative pursuits such as gardening, painting, sculpting, or cookery. So long as it takes you out of your conscious mind for a while to give you time to balance your energy, any pastime you choose will do.

Basically then, the rule is to be your own best friend – take care of yourself, eat and sleep well and give yourself little treats now and again. Time spent relaxing with a good book in a local friendly coffee shop is my idea of bliss and is a really cheap and simple way to give yourself a lift and recharge your batteries. And remember to talk kindly to yourself – empaths tend to analyse everything and can end up being hypercritical of themselves. Whenever you catch yourself judging yourself harshly, ask yourself ‘Would I speak like this to my best friend? Would I tolerate my best friend saying this stuff to me?’ If not, then perhaps you need to reconsider.

Ultimately, self care is crucial. The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be open to the following benefits of being an empath.

 UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE – TELEPATHY, SYNCHRONICITIES AND DREAMS

Because of your high level of resonance, you will probably be tuned into the ‘universal energies’ or what Jung called the collective unconscious. This gives you a deep sense of knowing – you just ‘know’ things despite there being no rational explanation as to how you know – as well as a strong feeling of connection, which can lead to the spiritual belief that separation is an illusion and ‘we are all one’. This connection and knowing also opens us up to the ‘universal guidance’ which is contained within these energies, which is why many empaths are natural problem solvers, able to resolve any issue which they put their hearts, souls and minds into.

I mentioned in part one how my daughter and I are so close that as soon as we’re in each others energy range, I start to feel her physical symptoms. This energetic connection with others, often referred to as telepathy, is one of the fun aspects of being an empath. As well as those little tricks which many of us do such as thinking about someone just as they call you, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years the day after you thought about them, you may also find yourself connecting energetically with people in other less obvious ways. I find that I often tune into people I’m close to through my dreams, perhaps because my mind is more relaxed and therefore more receptive. For instance, if my daughter wakes before me in the morning and reads a book, I often have a dream which reflects the contents of that book in some way. A recent example was a dream I had about Glastonbury music festival one morning shortly before I woke. When I asked P what she had been reading, it turned out that there was a character in her book that had the nick-name ‘Glastonbury’! Even more bizarrely, I have even on occasion had the same dream as my daughter or my partner.

I also have prophetic dreams which you can read about in my blog entry The Magical World of Dreams. Empaths are often fascinated by dreams and we are natural dream analysts, due to our ability to see the deeper meaning in things and make lateral links using subtle details. This ability also works in the waking world too and helps us to interpret signs, symbols and archtypes, as well as synchronicities. Aware empaths delight in synchronicities and as our understanding of ourselves and our connection to the universe grows, we find that the universal guidance which appears in the form of synchronicities becomes ever more fluent and clear. You can read more about synchronicities in my blog entry So What Is Synchronicity?

PEOPLE AND OTHER ANIMALS

The aware empath is often described by others as ‘a beacon of light’. You will find that people are drawn to you and babies in particular will adore you – I often notice little children staring and smiling at me from their pushchairs when I’m out and about.

A similar thing can happen with animals. Empaths have a deep connection to animals and love to be around their energies. You may even find you prefer their company to that of people, as you feel animals – and their energies – are simpler and don’t have an agenda. Perhaps those ‘crazy cat ladies’ who prefer to live alone surrounded by felines are actually misunderstood empaths.

As an empath, you will also be able to resonate with the emotions of animals and unlike most people, you will view them as sentient beings who should have the same rights as humans. Because of this, many empaths become vegetarian or vegan at some point in their lives.

As far as people go, the empath makes a great friend for life, as we are loyal, warm and, humorous as well as very loving and affectionate. We are also good listeners, who are unembarrassed by strong emotion as well as being pretty much unshockable. However a healthy empath will have no tolerance for drama queens who seek attention through emotional behaviour. Though we are highly expressive about our feelings and ourselves, with the ability to share openly and honestly, we are also natural peacemakers, so prefer calm discussions to overwrought emotional spectacles or aggressive confrontations.

If you befriend an empath, then they will probably be your greatest champion. Empaths recognise your inner potential, so are able to identify your positive attributes and will remind you of your strengths when you forget you have them. (Paradoxically though, they often find it hard to take a compliment themselves.) They may also subtly alert you to any negative patterns in your life in a helpful and non-patronising way, as your empath friend has the ability to sift through all the confusing emotions you are experiencing which may be clouding the issue, to help you achieve clarity and find the root cause of your problem. And should they ever feel angry with you, you can rest assured that they will express this without attacking you personally – empaths are not judgmental and they recognise that just because a particular behaviour is bad, it does not mean that the person is bad too.

YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Being an empath means you have the ability to sense the truth behind someone’s facade. You intuitively know when someone is attempting to mask a negative emotion. One theory is that when we are in the presence of an emotion we have personally experienced, we recognise it and feel it within ourselves, due to our high level of internal resonance. The empath is also able to read body language, mostly at a subconscious level – you will pick up on things like tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use – all factors which help you to tune into others and know things about them which other people probably miss. This also makes you very difficult to lie to! Not only are you able to detect a lie, you can also tell whether the intent behind that lie is malicious and selfish, or whether it’s a white lie, told in an attempt to protect someone else.

Empaths are also highly expressive themselves. They project an incredible amount of energy releasing their emotions, with many gesticulations, and as they are so open about themselves, the empath is usually the person of whom it is said that you can ‘read them like a book’. We also delight in using our bodies in a sensual way – empaths can literally become ‘lost in music’ when they dance, their bodies becoming one with the music to create one wonderful mass of  flowing, sensual energy.

NATURAL HEALERS

As you become aware of your empathy, you will recognise more and more how sensitive this makes you to the energies around you. The fact is that as an empath, energy is literally absorbed by you far more easily than more thick-skinned folk (hence the expression) so by increasing your awareness, you will be able to be more selective about which energies you allow yourself to absorb. This also means you will be able to experience a high level of resonance with another, without being overwhelmed by a multitude of outside influences.

When you have achieved this level of balance and awareness, you will find that all your empathic qualities as discussed above – your deep inner knowing, your connection to the universal energies and so on – make you a natural healer and counsellor. Indeed, for an empath a good way of sublimating the energy we talked about in part one – which attracts the energy vampires and lame ducks – and drawing boundaries around your own propensity to give of yourself to others, is to channel it into training in a helping or healing profession.

Being counselled by an empath is an amazing and life-changing experience. After just a few hours of conversation, you will feel as if the empath knows you inside out. This is due to the afore-mentioned ability for high emotional resonance, which allows the empath to tune into your energy and emotional state, giving them an uncanny ability to pinpoint what you most need and want. They will also ask the questions others may be afraid to ask – if you’re willing to face up to some possibly uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life and recognise your negative self-destructive patterns in order to grow and be true to the real you, then working with an empath will change your life.  An empath will not shy away from talking about feelings of loss either, and will help you to gain perspective on your issue as well as heal from emotional wounds, past and present.

In addition to helping you to heal, the empath will point out strengths and abilities you perhaps never realised you had. Personal empowerment is very important to the empath so they will always respect your courage and sense of determination to survive and will trust in your ability to heal and take care of yourself. All this creates a very safe environment with a high level of trust and a strong intimacy. The relationship between an empath and their client is more than just a business transaction – an authentic and caring relationship will be formed between you as the empath helps you to be your best self and to live the truth of who that best self is.

Empaths may also find themselves being drawn to other types of healing work directly involving energy, such as Reiki. With our natural ability to tune into the universal energy, learning to channel this energy through ourselves to help others is a path which many empaths naturally gravitate towards.

I do hope this article has helped you to understand your trait a little better. If you feel that anything here resonates with you, do please leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

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Burnout Pt.3: Prevention and Cure

December 3, 2010

In the final part of our series on burnout, we explore some of the methods you can employ if you have recognised yourself in parts one and two, and feel that you may be suffering from this syndrome.

In order to recover from burnout, it’s important for you to commit fully to healing. There is no instant cure and you need to be aware that the healing process will take some time, depending on how far down the burnout path you’ve travelled. Clearly, the sooner you are able to spot these symptoms developing, the sooner you can turn your life and your general wellbeing around.

Be selfish!

This is the first and possibly the most important message to take on board if you are suffering from burnout. A good analogy is the advice given to parents during air travel, to put the oxygen mask on themselves first in an emergency so that they are then in the best position to help their child. In the same way, it’s vital for you to realise that you will not be fit to take care of anyone unless you first take care of yourself. So until you have recovered, it’s time to put you first for a change, beginning with your physical wellbeing.

Rest

In our busy and stressful society, so many of us believe it’s acceptable to operate on five or six hours sleep. However, if you are showing early signs of burnout, then it’s important to commit to getting a minimum of eight hours sleep a night and preferably at least 10. Going to bed early may feel like a drag, but is surely preferable to the alternative of running yourself so far into the ground that you’re unable to get out of bed at all.

Relaxation

Though it’s healthy to spend some of your leisure time enjoying your hobbies and pastimes, it’s also vital that you make time to practise specific relaxation techniques, such as meditation. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated – try this simple breathing exercise. Take long slow breaths in and out, focusing solely on your breathing and saying silently to yourself  ‘in-two-three-four’ on the in breath, and ‘out-two-three-four’ on the out breath.

You could also try this simple relaxation exercise. Work your way down your body from head to toe, focussing on each body part. Tense that part for a few seconds, then release all the tension until it is completely relaxed, before moving onto the next part. You’ll probably be surprised at how much tension you’re already holding in your body.

Complementary therapies can also be very effective – I’ve found reflexology and reiki to be particularly beneficial. Massage of any kind, be it Indian Head massage, Swedish massage or aromatherapy with oils is also a wonderful way to relax and will help release any knots in those tense muscles.

Nourishment

When we’re heading towards burnout, we often find our diet suffers as we snack on fast foods or overdo the stimulants in an attempt to boost our energy levels. However our body is crying out for nourishment, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to give in to its demands. The best nutrition you can give your body at this time is vegetables, protein and unprocessed foods, as well as fibrous foods and healthy carbohydrates such as jacket potatoes, wholemeal bread and pasta and brown rice. Warm foods such as nutritious soups and stews are ideal in the winter months and salads are great for the summer.

You can also supplement your diet with a select range of vitamins and minerals. Particularly good ones are: multivitamins, B vitamins (especially B12), vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Omega 3, co-enzymes and amino acids such as lysine are also good and a DHEA supplement (DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands) can also be beneficial. However, if you take prescribed medication, do consult your doctor first before taking any of these supplements.

As well as considering what we do ingest, it’s also worth being more vigilant about what we don’t. Sugar, salt and fats should be limited, and it’s best to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and recreational drugs whilst suffering from burnout.

Exercise

As mentioned in part two, too much exercise can be counterproductive, particularly if you’re already on the path to burnout. The key is gentle exercise – a short walk everyday or a few light chores would be more than adequate at this stage, beginning with maybe five minutes a day and increasing the time as your energy levels rise.

Back to nature

You can of course combine this with your daily exercise, particularly if you live in a rural area – a walk outside every day will do you the power of good. Alternatively, if you live or work in a more urban setting, a lunchtime stroll through a park can be just as effective.

Being out in the sunshine also helps, though I am aware that we don’t see much of that in the UK! However the best time of day to be outdoors in the colder months is still around midday, so that lunchtime stroll is well worth the effort.

Another positive thing you can do for yourself is to take a break in nature – perhaps an afternoon in the countryside or by the sea, relaxing in the natural world away from the hurly burly of modern life.

Time Management

Burnt out people often have way too much on their plate, so basic time management skills can really make a difference in your life. You could try: making lists to organise your time more effectively; delegating, by passing on some of your tasks to others (too many burnt out people are perfectionists who erroneously believe that no-one else can manage to do the job quite as effectively as they can); and taking regular breaks, e.g. for every hour of work, take a 10-15 minute break.

Eliminate EMFs

As mentioned in part two, and in particular for highly sensitive people, EMFS (as well as other forms of geopathic stress) can be a huge issue when it comes to burn out. If you feel these are affecting your health, try some of the following: turn off and unplug appliances when not in use; minimise computer and mobile phone usage; switch to an analogue phone (cordless ones are available); and if you live near mobile phone masts or pylons, consider moving if at all possible. (You can read more about this and about the effects of geopathic stress in the book You Can Heal Yourself: Bio-Energy and the Power of Self-Healing by Seka Nikolic.)

Find support

As we saw in part two, negative relationships of any kind can contribute to burnout. Shun those energy vampires and naysayers and spend some time with positive and supportive people who appreciate you. It can be tempting to withdraw from others when you’re burnt out, and whilst time spent alone can be beneficial (see my article on solitude), when you’re feeling low, you can easily lose perspective and become overly critical of yourself. Sharing a cuppa with a true friend can help you bring much needed clarity and levity into your life.

Dump your baggage

Whether it’s emotional, psychological, mental or physical baggage, clearing out the stuff in your life which is holding you back and dragging you down is always a positive move and extremely revitalising. For more on this, check out my articles on de-cluttering here and learn how to let go of those unwanted elements which belong firmly in the past.

Personal Development

Burning out can be the precursor to a time of positive transformation in our lives. One of the ways that we can facilitate this is by focussing on our personal development and learning new, more functional ways of being. Perhaps a lack of assertiveness has been an issue for you or maybe you’ve struggled with low self esteem. Take the time to explore who you really are and find out what you need to grow and transform yourself in a positive way. Reading through some of the entries in this blog could be a good place to start and there are many other resources similar to this which can be found across the internet and in libraries.

Learn the lesson

Finally, as I mentioned in part two, look for the lesson which your burnout is trying to teach you. Regaining your physical wellbeing, freeing yourself of your baggage, discovering your authentic self through personal development work and making the most of your supportive friends are all positive steps towards transforming your life by clearing the way for the voice of your intuition. By listening to this voice we can find out what it is our soul really needs and make our way back to our true path and our life purpose.

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The Miraculous Healing Power of Positive Energy

July 21, 2010

About eight weeks ago, I received the terrible news that a longstanding and close friend of mine, G, had been involved in a horrific road accident, resulting in serious head injuries. G and I first met almost two decades ago when we worked together and ended up being housemates for two and a half years, a time in my life which I have very fond memories of.

We stayed in touch for a while but life being as it as, lost touch for a few years while my daughter was growing up. However, thanks to the internet, we made contact again three years ago and picked up our friendship where we left off,  chatting on the  web and having some fun times together during G’s visits to us.

G had been going through a difficult time following the break up of her relationship, so I was thrilled to see how radiant she looked and how positive she seemed when I attended her 40th birthday party back in February. She proudly told me that she’d finally put the past behind her and was planning on taking a sabbatical from work so that she could do some volunteer work abroad.

When the news reached me that she was currently lying in hospital in a coma after suffering horrendous head injuries, not only was I devastated, I was also extremely angry. How could this happen to such a good person when she was finally getting her life back on track? It seemed so bloody unfair. I didn’t sleep a wink that night and spent the whole time pacing around, worried about what the outcome may be and feeling helpless whilst simultaneously wondering what on earth I could do to make things better.

As soon as we could, my partner Lawrence and I went over to the hospital to see her. I’ve never been in an intensive care unit before, and it was very distressing to see G lying there surrounded by machines with all kinds of tubes attached to her. I held her hand and spoke to her, as I’d heard that this was the best thing to do in these circumstances and I hoped that maybe a familiar voice might help to bring her round from her coma. I talked about things which had happened to us in the past, about mutual friends and acquaintances, about TV shows she liked ‘You know you’re missing the big story line in Corrie, don’t you?’ and gently teased her about her hair – ‘have you any idea what they’ve done to your hair, mate? You need to get better soon and get that sorted pronto.’ But most of all, I told her how much we loved her, and reinforced how strong she was and that I knew that she could beat this and come back to us.

When we got home after that first visit, I contacted the Healing World Network and asked them to please send positive healing energy to G. I got some photos printed up of G and placed them around the house and whenever I could, I sent healing energy to her, imagining her totally engulfed in white light. I also contacted all my Reiki friends and asked them to put G in their distant healing books and practice distant healing on her. I had used distant healing before on people I knew in difficult emotional situations (alone and with my Reiki group) – some of these situations had been going on for months, if not years, and I had been amazed at how quickly they seemed to resolve once positive healing energy was being focussed on them. G was one of the people who I had been sending emotional healing energy to and I had witnessed firsthand how great she was feeling only a couple of months before. I had never tried to use this energy to heal such a serious physical trauma and had no idea if it would work, but other than visiting her as often as I could and continuing to tell her how strong she was and how much we loved her, there seemed to be little else I could do.

My partner and I continued to visit G twice a week, as I felt it was really important that she had as much positive stimulation as possible from the people who care about her. (Sadly, the sheer distance of the hospital and time restraints due to work and children meant that we could not manage any more, otherwise I would have been there every day.) When G had been in a coma for two weeks, I had a dream about her. In the dream, she opened her eyes then began speaking to me, gibberish at first, but gradually getting clearer until we were having a proper conversation. Then she stood up and took her first few tentative steps. It was like watching her recovery in fast forward. I told Lawrence about it and said ‘I hope it’s a premonition and not just wishful thinking’.

We arrived at the hospital a few hours later and  – lo and behold – G was lying there with her eyes open! ‘Oh my god, she’s awake!’ I cried. The nurse who was taking care of her (a really lovely woman called Fiona) said ‘Yes, she woke up last night’. We couldn’t believe it – and neither could the nurse when I told her about my dream. ‘Ooh, I’ve got goosebumps now!’ she said.

Her progress since waking has been nothing short of miraculous. Every single visit we have made, we have seen a huge improvement. On our next visit, we could make out tiny little facial expressions – a little smile and a barely discernible nod. Then on the next visit, we arrived at the door of her room and she sat up and whispered ‘hello’ – another truly joyous moment. And after that, she has come on in leaps and bounds, as I intuitively knew she would, despite the caution and fears of others – another tube removed, her memory, mobility and all her other faculties returning, and getting chattier by the day. It’s now almost eight weeks to the day that the accident occurred, and G is now in rehabilitation, totally tube free, and pretty much back to being the G we used to know – albeit a much more talkative version! –  and is even able to leave the hospital to stay with her parents at weekends. Hopefully she will be back home for good some time in the next couple of weeks.

The speed of her recovery has astounded everyone, including the doctors and nurses  (who of course also deserve credit for the amazing work they have done – all power to the NHS). In fact, all the hospital staff who have worked with G have said that her recovery has been quicker and better than they’ve ever seen in anyone else with the same injuries. My belief is that this is due to G’s strength – what a fighter! – the love of her family and friends, who have made sure she had plenty of visits and continually told her how strong she is, how much she is loved and how proud of her we are – and the miraculous healing power of positive energy. So many kind and caring people from all over the world have united to send healing energy to G and I really believe that the power of this energy has contributed towards her speedy recovery. We’ll never know for sure, of course, but I for one am happy to believe that my wonderful friend has been the recipient of an amazing miracle.

As often happens in these situations, the accident seems to have also changed G’s outlook on life. Back when she was still unconscious, in an attempt to put a positive spin on things, I remember saying that I hoped this was simply the universe giving her a wake-up call and that she would fully recover and make some really positive and much needed changes to her life. G is already talking about how the issues she had prior to the accident are no longer upsetting her – ‘and I hope it stays that way’ – and is talking about potential changes in her work and home life. I really hope that she continues to flourish and grow to be the best that I know she can be. Here’s to you, G – you’re a truly incredible woman and an inspiration to us all.

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The Mind/Body Connection – left and right

October 31, 2009

left and right

In my Reiki blog, I mentioned my friend Elaine who is a wonderful reflexologist (so good, in fact, that she recently won the Student of the Year award at her college – well done, Elaine!). What I actually wrote was:

Prior to my website launch, I became quite stressed and noticed that this stress was being released through my body – but only on my right hand side (the masculine side, relating to business endeavours and ambition). I did not share this with Elaine, but after my next treatment she said to me ‘It’s very strange but all your problems seem to be on your right hand side’.

I’ve reflected on this a lot since then, and done some research on what the different sides of the body mean. I think for me personally that as well as the business connection, this also relates to the fact that I have been a lone parent for many years. Being a lone parent means that for much of the time you have to be both mum and dad to your child, and also means that you are running a household singlehandedly. Naturally this means that you regularly have to express ‘masculine’ qualities significantly more than you would if you were in a couple. Perhaps my right/left physical imbalance is an expression of the psychological and emotional imbalance created by me having to spend more time in my ‘masculine’ self than I would have ordinarily liked.

Another possibility is that my physical ailments are a reflection of the negative relationships I’ve had in the past. Or possibly – and more positively – the problems could be part of a healing process as I am now in a healthy relationship – which also means, of course, that I no longer have to overcompensate for the lack of masculine energy in my life.  (Interestingly, my partner has spent much of his adult life in traditionally ‘feminine’ roles – as primary carer of his son and  in his profession, caring for people with learning disabilities. Perhaps our combined energies are creating a balance for both of us. )

Do you find that your physical problems relate to one particular side of your body? Or perhaps you have, say, an inflamed knee on the right, indicating an issue relating to anger with a man in your life, and a rash on your left side indicating an issue around expressing the feminine quality of creativity. The book excerpt below gives a brief overview of this concept and may help you shed new light on your own physical ailments. (For more on this topic, check out my previous blogs on ‘The Mind/Body Connection.)

Left and Right Sides of the Body

by Debbie Shapiro

The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa – the nerves cross over between the head and the body. The left side of the brain is the logical, rational side, involved with daily work, assertiveness and decision-making, whereas the right brain is the creative and intuitive side, involved with home life, relationships, feeling and insight. This applies to the body, and particularly if one side of the body tends to get hurt more than the other side.

The right side of the body represents the masculine principle in both men and women. It is to do with the ability to give and to be dominant or assertive; it is the authoritative and intellectual part of our being; involved with the world and work, our job or function in society, finance and business, politics and power. It reflects the feelings you may have about being a man and functioning in a competitive world or maintaining the breadwinning role: or about being a woman and having to work or be assertive at the same time as being a nurturing mother. This side reflects your feelings towards your own masculinity or masculine qualities, as well as your relationships with men such as father, brother, husband or son, and any conflicts you may be experiencing in those relationships, or towards men in general.

The left side of the body represents the feminine principle in both men and women. It indicates the ability to ask for help, to receive, or to surrender; to nourish and care for others; to be tender and caring; to be creative and artistic; to listen to and trust our own wisdom. It is the inner world of the home and family, of healing and gentleness and nurturing. This includes how you feel about being a woman or expressing you feminine energy, especially in a male-dominated environment; or how you feel as a man connecting with the ability to be tender and loving, able to show more caring qualities. It also reflects your feelings about the females in your life, such as mother, sister, wife or daughter. Any conflict in these relationships, or towards women in general, may manifest on the left side.

Finding the right balance between these two energies is not easy. In the last fifty years we have seen a shift from women being the principal care-givers and men being the principal money-makers to women making up a major part of the workforce and men spending more time at home. A woman making the change from mother to careerperson may feel that she is going against her essential nature – having to work late when her child is coming home early from school, or dealing with hormonal changes while giving a presentation at a business meeting. The resulting stress isn’t just due to overwork. The same applies to men. As their role is changing they are confronting the problem of how to get in touch with their inner feelings. How can men find the tender, caring, nurturing part of their nature when society says they are meant to be assertive and aggressive? These issues touch on deep questions of how to define our essential nature, and how to develop differing sides of our personalities.

Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Understand the Link Between Your Emotions and Your Illnessby Debbie Shapiro

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Indian Head Massage

September 18, 2009

IndianMassage

Having been impressed by the effectiveness of Reiki, I was inspired to try another form of complementary therapy so on Saturday I completed an Indian Head Massage course. The course I chose is devised by the Natural Therapy Studio and my tutor was a lovely lady called Pauline Johnstone.  Prior to the practical course, I received a DVD of the techniques and a comprehensive manual for home study, covering all aspects of Indian Head Massage, including anatomy and physiology and information for professional practice. There were three of us on the course, which turned out to be the perfect number, and the practical was held in very pleasant surroundings at Pauline’s rural home.

I was particularly drawn to Indian Head Massage rather than any of the other holistic therapies for a number of reasons. Firstly, as I mentioned in my Reiki blog, I have been on the receiving end of this treatment and found the stress-reducing and harmonising effects of this treatment invaluable for getting me through a difficult time.

Secondly, Reiki is a very gentle therapy so I felt a more active and hands-on form of energy work would be a good complement.

Thirdly, on a more global level I feel there is a serious energy imbalance in our society and that many of us have become too entrenched in the lower chakras (I also refer to this in the vegetarian blog). Indian Head Massage is a therapy which promotes harmony by stimulating the much-neglected higher chakras (see illustration at the end of this article), bringing them into balance with the over-functioning lower chakras.

I’ll talk about this more in a moment, but first here’s a very brief history of Indian Head Massage.

History

Massage is mentioned in the Ayurvedic texts over 4000 years ago, so has long been a part of Indian tradition and over the past thousand years, head massage has become an integral part of Indian family life. It was originally developed by women to condition and strengthen their hair, using a selection of oils, and is now regularly used on babies and young children to aid their holistic wellbeing. It was also adapted by barbers into a more rigorous scalp massage, known as champissage. (‘Champi’ meaning ‘massage of the head’ is where our word ‘shampoo’ originates from.)

The technique we learn today was introduced to the UK by a man named Narender Mehta. Mehta studied over here in the 70s and was disappointed to discover that head massage was not practised here either in the barbers or as part of a full body massage. On completing his studies in 1978, Mehta returned to India and formulated the Indian Head Massage we now practise in the UK from a variety of techniques collected from all over India.

Ayurveda

The Indian Head Massage is part of the ancient Hindu holistic medical practice of Ayurveda. Ayurveda means ‘knowledge of life and longevity’ and is a system whose main aim is prevention, working with negative energy before it begins to affect a person physically and emotionally. In Ayurveda, the belief is that we’re all beings of energy and that the mind, body and spirit are all connected. Therefore, Ayurvedic therapies address the whole system and work to resolve any imbalance in the life energy, known in India as prana.

I’ve discussed the chakra system in depth in other blog entries (for an overview see here and for more detailed descriptions of each chakra, see here). If our chakras become imbalanced due to an accumulation of negative stress, this can result in blockages which can lead to emotional or physical conditions. The Indian Head Massage can prevent this by balancing the chakras, resulting in holistic wellbeing.

The Practice

Indian Head Massage is carried out with the client fully clothed (though preferably in a vest top and with no jewellery) and seated in a low backed chair. The use of oil is optional but in my experience, it does make working on the neck, shoulders and arms a little easier, particularly as some of the techniques are quite vigorous. If you prefer, a moisturising cream can be used.

You then follow a sequence of different massage techniques of varying pressure – some gentle, some more invigorating – beginning with neck and shoulders, moving on to the scalp and finishing with the face.

 

The Benefits of Indian Head Massage

There are many benefits of this treatment for which I can personally vouch, having received weekly head massages over a period of months. The effects vary from person to person and will increase over time. Below is a list of the benefits you may experience from this therapeutic treatment.

*Antidote for stress, anxiety, lethargy, mild depression and mental tension

*Clears the mind and revitalizes mental capacity, thereby improving alertness and concentration

*Improves creativity

*Greater self awareness, which often brings the change of a healthier lifestyle

*Gives a sense of peace, calm and positive wellbeing

*Increased self-esteem and self-worth

*Helps balance the chakras by releasing stagnant prana

*Increased energy levels

*Calms the respiratory system

*Improves blood circulation to the head and neck

*Increased blood flow nourishes head muscles that can promote hair growth

*Improves lymphatic drainage from head and neck

*Improves muscle tone and mobility in head, neck, and shoulder area

*Increases circulation of cerebral spinal fluid around the brain

*Increases general circulation by bringing fresh nutrients and taking away waste products

*Relieves mental and physical strain

*Relieves eye strain, headaches, sinusitis, congestion, and insomnia

*Strong healthy shiny hair

*Better skin condition

*Strengthened immune system

head_chakras

The three higher chakras

 

If you are interested in working for the Indian Head Massage Diploma, then contact Tara Jewell, owner of the Natural Therapy Studio, via her website at www.naturaltherapystudio.co.uk

Alternatively, if you would like an Indian Head Massage treatment yourself, check out Terone Williams’ great website offering mobile treatments at www.soulrevive.co.uk.


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Reiki (part three) – my experience

August 12, 2009

Today I would like to share some of my personal experiences of working with Reiki.

As I mentioned in my previous Reiki blogs (you can find part one here and part two here), I trained for my 1st degree with York Reiki Plus and would recommend this course to anyone from the York area who is interested in energy work. Irene Forsyth, the Reiki master who runs the course, is a lovely woman, warm and down-to-earth, and the location is a gorgeous little mind, body and spirit shop with a fabulous name (‘The Zentist’) so the ambience is very cosy and laidback. Prior to the course, Irene sends you a comprehensive 170 page manual to help familiarise yourself with all aspects of Reiki, the content of which is discussed throughout the day. I spent three full days working through the manual in some depth so arrived on the practical training day feeling confidently informed. You are also sent a couple of CDs to guide you through the Hatsurei Ho daily energy exercises and the self-healing meditation mentioned in the last blog entry. These are also practised on the training day so you will have a thorough grounding in these important aspects of Reiki by the end of the course.

Within Reiki circles, there is much talk of a 21 day (or in some cases, 28 day) cleansing period. Some say this occurs as soon as you start working with Reiki, some say this begins after your first empowerments (also known as attunements). Here are some thoughts on this:

Following the attunement is a 28 day period called the cleansing period. During this time, you are encouraged to give yourself a treatment every day and many students find themselves undergoing positive personal changes and spiritual growth which can be a very powerful and very rewarding time.

http://www.reiki-questions.com/reiki-training/Reiki1.htm

During this time each person will experience their own unique reaction to the cleansing period. NO two attunements are ever the same. Depending on which form of Reiki of Healing Modality you choose to be attuned to, depends on how long this Cleansing period may last for, generally they vary from 7 days to 21 days in length.

Reiki only works for the good of all, so during the cleansing period you may undergo a detox, that can often bring about changes in your life. The Reiki attunement can start a cleansing process that effects the physical body as well as the mind and emotions. Toxins that have been stored in the body may be released along with feelings and thoughts that are no longer useful. A process of purification prior to attunement is recommended to improve the benefits one receives.

Many people report experiencing some of the following things:

Opening of the third eye

An increase in intuitive awareness

Other psychic abilities.

A release of Negative Emotions

Changes in food preferences

http://www.thereikichain.com/Attunements.html

As the body processes the attunements they bring with them a deep cleansing and healing. Many people find they have increased intuition or creativity. Physically you may experience minor cold symptoms, headache, increased body discharges, etc. On an emotional level you may feel tiredness, have vivid dreams, surges of emotion such as anger/tears or old memories resurfacing which need to be resolved. Reiki will affect you in the way that is right for you and symptoms will pass in a few days.

Traditionally a 21 day cleansing period follows Reiki one. Practising on yourself daily will maximise the benefits. Once you have been attuned to Reiki one the more you use the energy the stronger it will become. It is common for people to find the clarity and strength to bring positive change into their lives.

http://www.renaissancetherapy.co.uk/reiki attunements.htm

Taggart King of Reiki Evolution, whose work this course is based on, has this to say about the 21 day cleansing period –

It is traditional within Reiki to think in terms of a 21-day period of clearing out or cleansing, as the energy starts to work on you as its first priority. Common reactions are to have a ‘Reiki cold’ or other respiratory infection, an occasional surprising migraine, or to feel quite tired and sleepy for some days during the 2-3 week period after attunement. Emotional ups and downs are quite common, and you may find that you are seeing things in ‘Technicolor’ for a while, with colours taking on an amazing intensity. For some, Reiki leads to a period of dissatisfaction, leading you to think carefully about your life and your priorities. For the most part Reiki works gently and seems to have built-in mechanisms to prevent the ‘clearing out’ period from being particularly eventful.

The ’21 day ‘ period is a bit of a Reiki myth, actually, because Reiki continues to work on you months and even years later, and it is possible that you will release things further down the line, too, not just in the first 21 days. Stronger reactions are more common in the first few weeks after going on a course, of you are going to have a strong reaction (such things are not compulsory!) though they can happen at any time, based on what is right for you. We receive what is right for us at any given time. We are all different.

We received three empowerments on the day and my experience of each one was very different, and differed from those of the other people on the course.

The first empowerment was very powerful and made me feel quite emotional. My head felt fuzzy and was filled with a violet colour and my heart felt like it would explode. The word I associated with this empowerment was ‘power’.

The second empowerment was subtler than the first. The word I associated with this one was ‘intuition’ – the right hand side of my head felt fuzzy and felt like it wanted to merge with the left. I also ‘saw’ an indigo outline of an eye. I initially thought this may be my ‘third eye’ but whilst looking for an appropriate image to convey what I saw, I found this symbol, known as the Eye of Horus:

violet eye

Further research into this symbol revealed this:

The Left Eye of Horus represents abstract aesthetic information controlled by the right brain. It deals with esoteric thoughts and feelings and is responsible for intuition. It approaches the universe in terms of female oriented ideation. We use the Left Eye, female oriented, right side of our brain for feeling and intuition.

The eye of Horus, was originally known as the wadjat, but was also called the wedjet, the Eye of the Moon, and later the Eye of Ra. It became a powerful symbol that was used on amulets for protection against evil and was thought to have healing powers.

In the present day the eye of Horus is still a powerful symbol that can be offered as a gift in the form of jewellery, for example, that shows your love for another person. In particular it has connotations of selflessness and dedication as well as the more general functions of good luck and warding off evil forces and improve health.

The third empowerment I associated with the word ‘love’. This time it felt like my left hand side was trying to come into balance with the right – there was a strong buzzing in my left ear – and in my mind’s eye I saw a heart surrounded by rainbow colours, followed by a vision similar to the image below, which to me represents spiritual symmetry and balance:

spiritual symmetry

I did feel noticeably ‘blissed out’ after the empowerments. Taggart comments that ‘If you are basically fine on the physical, mental and emotional level then the energy will not have a great deal to do, but if you have a lot to be sorted out, then the energy will rush in like a tidal wave and start to get things moving!’

Having done a lot of personal development work over the last fifteen years, I feel that mentally and emotionally I am ‘pretty sorted’ – although I wouldn’t be so bold as to say completely sorted, as we all have work to do on ourselves – personal growth is a lifelong adventure! However I would say that I’m very in tune with my authentic self, i.e. I know who I am, what my life purpose is and what I need to feel fulfilled and serene. On occasion, however, I do struggle with self-doubt – am I really on the right path? Is this really the right thing to do? Am I just kidding myself? – and as a particularly sensitive person, I have to be careful not to become too overwrought when faced with stressful situations. Emotionally and mentally, then, I feel that the empowerments ‘fine-tuned’ me, resulting in my feeling more balanced and relaxed and confirming for me that I am indeed on the right path, both personally and professionally.

Physically, I’ve felt some more powerful ‘retuning’ occurring, particularly around my sinuses (always a tricky area for me) which has resulted in a few headaches, and in my legs, which I have felt ‘vibrating’ in a sometimes quite disconcerting way. As my work is very sedentary, the energy in my legs has probably become somewhat static over the years, so I’ve been using Reiki on myself to get the energy moving again which so far seems to have helped.

I’ve also done several Reiki treatments on others, during and since the course, and have been amazed at how powerful this work is, as have been the recipients, some of whom were rather sceptical prior to their Reiki session. For instance, I worked with someone who is going through a number of difficult life events at the moment, and felt a tremendous amount of heat coming from her, particularly around her head. As this person has also been experiencing physical symptoms in her right arm and her left foot, I dedicated more time to these areas, and she reported to me the following day that throughout the night, she could feel something she struggled to describe  – “not exactly pain – maybe a little achy, but strange, a trembling or vibrating maybe?” – in these very spots.

I also worked briefly with a woman who suffers from M.E. and found that though the top of her body was very hot, she was effectively dead, energy-wise, from the waist down. Her legs have caused her a lot of suffering due to her illness, so it will be interesting to continue working with her and see if her condition improves through Reiki treatments.

In contrast to this, I worked with a couple of women, one who is very spiritual and another who feels fulfilled and happy in her life, and felt a gentle breeze – and a huge aura – around the whole of their beings. The second woman also reported that when I worked on her crown chakra, it felt like ‘the top of my head was stretching upwards – like I had a really long head!’  and when I treated her feet,  she commented that it felt ‘like I was sinking into really soft sand’.

I also worked with a very pleasant and contented child, and noted that the energy felt very balanced except for in the throat area.  Much of the Reiki literature advises not to analyse the sensations you feel when treating someone, but I do think that it’s interesting that the energy changed around the throat chakra area and children often feel that in a world dominated by adults, they don’t really have a voice…

All of the people I’ve treated so far have felt very relaxed. As I haven’t got a treatment table yet, I’ve had to work with people sitting on a kitchen chair but despite this a couple of them have still almost nodded off. I also end up feeling very relaxed myself when I’m giving treatments and also very hot – the heat coming through my body when I connect with the energy is incredible and one of my friends actually opened her eyes when I placed my hands on her navel area as she couldn’t believe that amount of heat was emanating just from me! I realised very quickly that I need to tie up my hair and wear cool, loose clothing when working with Reiki. It has also been a surprise how quickly the time goes when I’m giving a treatment. One of the reasons I never previously considered learning physical therapies was because, frankly, I thought I would find it boring! My work has always revolved around communication with words, written (journalism) and spoken (counselling), so spending an hour with someone in complete silence never really appealed to me. However, I find giving Reiki treatments totally absorbing – the time simply flies past and if it wasn’t for other commitments, I could quite happily continue working way beyond the prescribed hour.

As I said in my first Reiki blog, this is just the beginning of my journey into a whole new exciting aspect of universal energy. My aim is to move on to the second degree course in the coming months and in the meantime, I will keep you all updated on my experiences with Reiki. I would also love to hear about any experiences you may have had so please feel free to leave a comment or to contact me via my website at www.empathicguidance.com.

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Reiki (part two) – a beginner’s guide

August 6, 2009

reiki symbol

For those of you who have never heard of Reiki, or who have heard of it but are not quite sure what’s involved, I’m going to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained during my recent training. The Reiki 1st degree course I studied with York Reiki Plus supplies a comprehensive manual written by Taggart King of Reiki Evolution (who also runs this course online, if you are not in the York area), plus two CDs to guide you through the daily energy exercises and self healing mentioned below.

  • There are a number of translations of the term ‘Reiki’ but the one which resonates with me most is probably the most frequently used and is a term which I already use in my work – ‘Universal Life Energy’. The Japanese characters which make up the word ‘Reiki’ can be seen in the image above.

  • Reiki practice is about channelling this universal life energy to bring about a state of balance in the body’s natural energy, fostering holistic healing and well-being.

  • Reiki originated in Japan and was developed by Mikao Usui (1865-1926). Reiki combines the spiritual teachings of Tendai Buddhism with the energy work of Shentoism and Usui originally intended it to be a simple system for self-healing, personal development and spiritual growth. He saw Reiki as a path to enlightenment and a way to ‘achieve personal perfection’.

  • Reiki evolved into a system used to treat others when it was adopted by the Japanese military as a healing tool. The standard hand positions taught to Reiki practitioners today were developed by one of the imperial officers, Dr Hayashi.  (Usui’s original practice simply used intuition to direct the energy rather than following a series of prescribed positions.)

  • The Reiki system I practise is rooted in the original Japanese system developed by Usui. The more complex Western system which many practitioners learn was developed by Mrs Takata in the post-war years, when the West were less kindly disposed towards anything Japanese.

  • To become a competent Reiki practitioner, it is recommended that you follow the Reiki teachings outlined below:

1) Focus on and live the five Reiki precepts. Precepts can be defined as ‘rules to live by’ and Usui’s precepts are central to his Reiki system:

Just for today

Do not anger

Do not worry

Be humble

Be honest (in your dealings with other people)

Be compassionate towards yourself and others

2) Practise mindfulness (in other words, ‘living in the moment’)

3) Receive Reiju empowerments regularly. Empowerments are a series of rituals which open you up to Reiki (the universal life energy), allowing you to channel that energy for the benefit of yourself and others.

4) Practise Hatsurei Ho – the daily energy exercises which enhance your ability to channel Reiki energy, through clearing and balancing your system, and helping to develop your intuition and your sensitivity to the energy flow.

5) Practise self-healing by giving yourself regular self-treatments with Reiki. You can do this through meditations or through placing your hands on yourself in the prescribed positions.

Finally, of course, you can share the relaxing and healing benefits of this energy by practising on other people. Once you have undertaken your Reiki 1st degree course, then as well as practising the above teachings, you will strengthen your connection to Reiki through regular work with others.

More in part three

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