By Clive Lindley-Jones | June 7, 2012 11:29 am
This Month let me introduce our Guest Blogger...
Silvie is one of the talented professionals we have working here at Helix House offering her special brand of healing. I am happy to introduce her to you through the Health-e Coaching monthly blog and recommend her skills to you. Silvie has spent the last ten years learning, experiencing and working with a variety of natural healing methods, including shiatsu, cranio - sacral therapy, reiki, yoga and meditation. We are currently working on getting more information about Silvie on the Helix House website, in the meantime please click here for her website and more information about her skills. Silvie is available for appointments at Helix House on Thursdays and Fridays, if you would like to schedule an appointment please feel free to contact us on 01865 243351. You will see from reading Silvie's contribution this month, she is wisely telling us what we all already know, deep down. That if only we could stop ourselves from careering around quite so much, and instead, be still and know. Then we might well be able to touch a deeper, truer, side of ourselves and experience ourselves, more often, as just part of this endless web of energy that is infinite and inexhaustible. But sadly, day to day, we do get exhausted, discouraged and disconnected from all that is. I for one will take Silvie’s wise words to heart and, once again re-commit to listen to my true self just that little more. Now over to Silvie.
Silvie Hylton Potts
"I work in a holistic, integrated way, aiming to address the root cause of any symptoms so as to re-establish lasting health and balance. I take a ‘whole person’ approach to treatment, not only treating symptoms, but also, where appropriate, encouraging the client to gain a greater understanding of the root causes through examining the bigger picture. This could involve reflecting on different aspects of their lives with the purpose of creating greater balance, transforming any unhelpful patterns and restoring lasting, integrated health on all levels."
Silvie Hylton Potts
Holistic Healing at Helix House - A 'Whole Person’ Approach
What does the word ‘health’ mean to you? These days it seems that there are a large number of people who feel generally a bit below par (perhaps with mild fatigue, back pain or digestive problems) and that this has become almost the ‘normal’ state of affairs. After a couple of visits to their doctors and with no specific diagnosis or satisfactory treatment, people often start to accept that feeling ‘kind of okay’ is the best that they can expect. I used to feel the same.
Experiencing chronic illness from my teens, the doctors were unable to help, told me that there was no real cure for what I had and that I would just have to learn to manage my symptoms. I finally began to realise that I must have some control over my situation, starting to explore a variety of natural healing methods in a quest to rebalance and heal myself. My own healing process has dramatically changed my understanding of the body and mind, and of what ‘health’ and ‘healing’ really mean.
Healing, in its fullest sense means to ‘become whole’ – in other words, to become fully integrated, functioning and healthy in all aspects of our being - body, mind and spirit. These three aspects form the totality of human experience and all must be balanced for optimum health. Modern western medicine still tends to consider and treat symptoms in isolation from the person as a whole, with varying degrees of success. H.R.H. Prince Charles, a strong advocate of complementary medicine, summed this up very well in a speech given at the British Medical Association in 1988: "By concentrating on smaller and smaller fragments of the body, modern medicine perhaps loses sight of the patient as a whole human being, and by reducing health to mechanical functioning it is no longer able to deal with the phenomenon of healing.” Complementary medicine takes a different, holistic approach to healing, considering the health of the person as a whole, treating the root causes of illness (whether they are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, or a combination) and helping to rebalance the whole person.
As a Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Shiatsu and Reiki practitioner, my passion is helping and empowering people to create lasting health and balance on all levels - so that they are able to reach their full potential in all areas of their life. Treatments are gentle and non-invasive, reactivating and working with the body’s natural self-healing ability. The human body is a self-correcting, self-regulating and regenerative organism, with an incredible ability to rebalance and repair itself when subject to injury or illness. However, if we experience excessive physical or emotional stress: for example, a serious accident, trauma or long-term emotional stress, the body can become permanently contracted and its healing potential compromised. A symptom will then result – the body’s intelligent way of signalling that something is out of balance, which the person needs to heal in order to restore health and balance to their whole system. “The process of disease aims not at the destruction of life, but the saving of it” - Frederick Treves (1905) The treatments that I practise all have slightly different focuses and techniques, however, in essence, all help to stimulate and connect with the body’s natural healing forces, and to gently facilitate release, realignment, reorganisation and rebalancing of the body’s tissues - wherever this is needed. In this way, the client actually heals him/herself – the practitioner is simply the facilitator. This realisation is enormously empowering and means that we have far greater control over our health than conventional medicine has led us to believe.
Treatments work on rebalancing the physical body (bones, muscles, fluids, fascia, internal organs, circulatory, immune and nervous systems, etc) and well as the vital energy of the person. They also help to heal mental and emotional issues, since the body and mind are intimately connected, and our psyche has a powerful influence on our health. Our feelings and attitudes directly affect our physical body: the way we hold ourselves, move, breathe and respond to life’s experiences. Our immune, nervous and hormonal systems are all interconnected, explaining why excessive emotional stress affecting our nervous system can lead to physical illness, such as stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, infertility or cancer. The body is a clear reflector of the person within: we literally embody our joys and our suffering. Unresolved emotional issues that we hold onto become stored in the body’s tissues, blocking our vital energy, and leading to areas of inertia, tension or pain. The same mental/emotional patterns then easily become reactivated, until they are consciously released. Working with the physical body is therefore a powerful way of accessing and healing any related mental-emotional issues. Paying attention to the sensations in our bodies and trying to understand what they mean can be an effective way of showing us what we still need to heal on an emotional level in order for us to reach our full potential. “We forget ourselves and our destinies in health and the chief use of temporary sickness is to remind us of these concerns.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). Working with a complementary therapist can provide you with the guidance and support to safely release any emotional wounds and to regain physical and emotional health.
With both physical and emotional symptoms, there are two essential aspects to a successful healing process. The first, as discussed above, is the willingness to trust in your body’s own natural healing ability and inner wisdom: at the deepest level, your body and subconscious mind knows what is out of balance and what needs to happen for health to be restored. The second is to take personal responsibility for creating a healthy, balanced and fulfilling life for yourself - one that suits your individual constitution. This includes making any necessary changes to your lifestyle in order to restore and maintain health. Consuming a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, choosing work that you enjoy as much as possible, reducing your exposure to toxins, spending meaningful time with family and friends, making time to relax and do things you enjoy, to meditate or visit nature in order to connect with your deepest self and the world around you, and living in harmony with your family and community are all important for health and happiness. There is no ‘one way fits all’ advice that can be given in this regard since everyone is unique and has different requirements. Listen to your body and your intuition to find out what supports and nourishes you the most, and follow and trust in this – it is your most valuable guide. As you start to trust more in your ability to influence your own health, you may feel naturally inclined to make certain changes to your lifestyle, such as giving up smoking or taking up a form of exercise that you enjoy. Other people may feel the need to revisit and release unresolved mental or emotional patterns in order to restore healing and balance to their lives. Working together with a complementary health therapist, whether a nutritionist, cranio-sacral therapist or counsellor, can provide you with the support and encouragement to implement these positive changes and to create a way of life that allows you to reach your full potential – physically, mentally and spiritually.
The most important lessons that I have learnt in my own healing journey are the importance of taking responsibility for our own health and life, trusting in the body’s natural healing ability and inner wisdom, and living in harmony with nature and the world around us.
Question: What is one of the most powerful and beneficial methods for improving a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being?
For some people, the word ‘meditation’ conjures up images of some kind of mystical practise, involving monks or yogis sitting cross-legged for hours a time. In fact, meditation can be practised by anyone, whatever their age, beliefs or profession. Whilst there are many different forms, in essence, meditation simply involves us setting aside a period of time in which to consciously focus our attention on a particular object (for example, our breath or a beautiful scene) – for the purpose of centring and rebalancing ourselves. If we start to pay attention, most of us will find that our minds are almost constantly active- preoccupied with concerns about the future or unresolved issues from the past. These mental fears and agitations are cause of many of our health problems- physical, mental and emotional. Meditation can help us to gradually regain control over our minds and provide us with greater sense of calm and peace, no matter what is happening around us - bringing about healing and balance to all levels of our being.
One can choose to meditate from anything from a few minutes to several hours - whenever you have, or can make, the time. As with any discipline, in order to reap the full rewards, it’s best to meditate regularly – even ten minutes a day will have a beneficial effect. When meditating, it’s important to adopt as comfortable a position as possible. Sitting cross-legged is considered to be the most balanced position, yet you can also kneel, use cushions, a meditation stool or sit upright on a chair. The idea is to be comfortable but alert, so you’re less likely to succumb to sleep. Some forms of meditation involve closing the eyes and focusing on the breath – for example the rising and falling of the chest or abdomen as you breathe in and out, or the point at which the air enters and leaves the nostrils. Other methods make use of a word (or ‘mantra’), which is silently repeated to oneself over and over again. Others involve keeping the eyes open and fixed on a particular object, such as a statue or inspiring picture. Initially, the main object of these kinds of meditation is to help to focus and calm the mind – which, for most of us with our busy lives and surrounded by multiple distractions, can take a little practise! However, with regular practise and perseverance, meditation helps us to have more control over our wandering minds and a greater sense of inner calm, balance and stability as a result.
Mindfulness meditation also uses the breath as a focal point, yet also involves us consciously ‘watching’ and becoming aware of any sensations in our body, of any thoughts or feelings that may arise (positive or negative) and of anything that is happening around us – learning just to notice these things without judging them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Usually, we tend to react immediately, automatically and unconsciously to experiences: we ‘over identify’ with what is happening - in other words, we take things personally. Positive experiences make us feel good, so we start to crave more of this and then become upset when we don’t always get it. Negative experiences cause us to react with fear, anger or aversion and we try to push them away. In this way, we allow external events to control how we feel, meaning that we can easily loose our peace of mind. Over time, mindfulness meditation helps us to accept experiences as they are, without reacting or judging them: we become more able to see things as they really are, as just experiences or sensations, and not personal to us. We learn that, whilst we can’t always control the things around us, or our own instinctive emotions, we can learn to choose our response to these, resulting less mental agitation and a greater sense of peace and calm.
A common issue when people start meditating is that they become more aware of their busy mind and any unresolved emotions, which they may have spent a great deal of their life suppressing or avoiding. In the early stages, many people are tempted to quit, believing that they haven’t succeeded because they are not immediately able to stop or change their negative thoughts or emotions. However, for most of us, it takes time to gain mastery over our minds and to release any unresolved emotions. By allowing ourselves observe our thoughts and feel our natural human emotions without judgement, these begin to have less power over us and we can start to create a peaceful place within ourselves, underneath our thoughts and emotions, from which to accept, resolve and heal these painful places. Human beings are naturally programmed to think and feel: it is not a question of ‘stopping’ our thoughts and feelings completely, but simply creating enough distance from them, and gradually reducing our unhelpful thoughts, so that we can start to respond to life with greater clarity, wisdom, self control and love.
With regular meditation, you will soon notice the benefits spilling over into the rest of your life. These include a greater sense of inner peace and calm, improved energy levels, clearer thinking, more mental/emotional balance, improved physical health (as a result of less internal stress), a greater ability to accept ‘unpleasant’ situations over which we have no control, and more empathy towards oneself and others. Even greater transformation can occur when we start to bring mindfulness into our everyday life - becoming more consciously aware of what is happening from moment to moment – inside and out. Gradually, we start to see, experience and respond to life as it really is – as something far greater and more connected than our limited, rational minds can ever perceive – and this can be life changing.
If you are interested in learning more about meditation, there are a wealth of books, CDs and DVD's on the market explaining the different techniques. The ideal way to learn is with a teacher, on a course or by joining a meditation group, as this will provide you with guidance, support and encouragement in your practise.
Book of the Month
'Boundless Energy' by Deepak Chopra:
Deepak Chopra is a world-renowned health physician, scientist, pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine, spiritual teacher and author of more than 64 books. ‘Boundless Energy’ is one of his more compact books, yet contains a wealth of information and clearly explained methods to help you recreate physical and emotional energy, health and balance in yourself. Drawing on Ayurvedic medicine, the oldest system of health-related knowledge in the world, in which he is an expert, Chopra discusses the importance of a balanced diet, proper digestion, paying attention to our personal body type as well as our general body rhythms, balancing our mind and emotions, clarifying our life’s purpose and living with joy and creativity in creating boundless energy, giving practical suggestions for how we can go about these things.
Chopra defines fatigue as “a prolonged absence of physical, intellectual and emotional energy…that has been present for one month or more and is not relieved by rest.” He includes both chronic fatigue where no specific cause has been found (the most prevalent type), as well as the more serious and debilitating ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ – however, states that the solution to both types of fatigue is the same: to build more energy.
Chopra then draws on both Ayurvedic philosophy and modern physics in order to explain the fundamental nature of the universe and human beings – the key to us regaining control over our own personal energy. Chopra explains that at the deepest level, everything in the universe is actually comprised of energy, that a unified field of energy and intelligence underlies and links everything, including human beings. When we really start to understand this, and how easily energy can be changed or influenced, then we can start to influence our personal health and energy in positive ways. Chopra explains that our level of basic vitality is primarily determined by the quality of our connection to the unified field of energy, and symptoms such as fatigue result from blocks or imbalances in our natural flow of energy. Therefore, he says, the solution to fatigue is to learn how to tap into and utilise the natural field of energy that surrounds us, as well as to balance and make use of the natural sources of energy already within us.
Whilst these ideas may be difficult for some people to accept, Boundless Energy could still be of value since Chopra also presents plenty of grounded, practical advice and techniques for boosting one’s energy levels. The book includes a questionnaire to help you determine which of three Ayurvedic ‘body types’ you are (which includes your physical body, emotional responses and general personality type) and explains how understanding and working in harmony with your particular body type can be a valuable way of creating more physical and emotional balance in your life. Ayuveda emphasises that the food we eat, exercise and activities we choose should suit and enhance our own particular constitution.
In terms of food and digestion, Chopra reminds us most of the energy that our body requires to function is derived from the food we eat. Therefore the quality and quantity of what we eat is important, as well as the way in which we eat. He states poor digestion leading to an accumulation of partially digested food can lead to a build up of toxins in the gut – a significant cause of fatigue. Chopra gives some simplecommon sense tips for how we can improve our digestion, including retraining our bowels to eliminate first thing in the morning, eating our main meal at lunchtime (when our digestion is the strongest), and ensuring that we eat calmly and slowly in a peaceful environment, giving proper attention to this important process of re energizing ourselves with the food we eat. He also discusses the most energising foods and the importance of getting a balance of different types of food (tastes) to balance our health.
Chopra also discusses the importance of living according to our natural body rhythms (or biological cycles), which are strongly influenced by the cycles of nature, from which we are fundamentally inseparable. He states that the optimum time to go to bed is before 10pm (when the universal energies are still in a slow and calm phase, meaning that we will have a more restful night’s sleep) and ideal waking time is around 6am (7am at the latest), when the energy around is still light and alert – helping us to wake up feel alert and energised. He also gives some simple tips for us to minimise harmful effects from pollution in food, water, the air and electromagnetism.
Chopra places strong emphasis on the importance of also balancing our mind and emotions in order to create more energy. He reminds us that thought and matter are, in essence, simply different forms of energy, and in this way are closely connected and strongly influence one another. Chopra states that most fatigue is strongly influenced by physical or emotional factors, and long-term stress is a huge energy drain on the body, depleting the adrenals, weakening the immune system and reducing the body’s ability to function effectively. “Over 80% of chronic fatigue sufferers score higher than normal on psychological tests of depression or anxiety”. Deepak suggests that the best way to eliminate stress is to provide the body with the opposite experience of deep relaxation and rest through yoga, meditation or specific breathing techniques. He suggests a simple meditation technique as well as some yoga postures (complete with pictures) that can be done in as little as 10-20 minutes a day, which help to stimulate and rebalance the energy within the body, as well as induce deep relaxation. Ayurvedic oil massage (which can be done on oneself) can also yield similar benefits. He also emphasises the importance of using the mind to focus positively on the experience of energy within oneself, rather than focusing on the fatigue – as energy naturally travels to wherever you focus and makes this experience stronger. In other words, the mind plays a large part in determining our energy levels and can be used to positively influence our health.
Finally, Chopra stresses the importance of living one’s life with “a sense of meaning; an awareness of some larger purpose or a focus on some worthwhile goal”. He reminds us that we “all have the potential to be truly great”, and that living our lives to the full with joy, creativity and spontaneity, in harmony with other people and the world around us, will reconnect us with our natural energy and enthusiasm for life. He explains that this is the way that children naturally live - with a sense of inner freedom, joy and abundant energy, and with no sense of being separate, fragmented or limited. However, “life experiences of rejection, disappointment and doubt create self-limiting beliefs and…we start to have second thoughts about the possibility of fulfilling our goals. These anxieties create stress in our system…Fatigue is really just a kind of inertia, a physical disappointment with life”. Chopra suggests that the only solution to this is to consciously go beyond our limiting beliefs in order to “reconnect to our vast inner potential, and the unified field of pure joy and unlimited possibility”. He cites meditation as being one of the best ways to do this. By ‘going within’ in order to connect with our deepest selves, inner purpose, creativity, joy and wholeness, and no longer allowing ourselves to be limited or defined by other people, we can once more “personally experience nature’s boundless energy and permanently replace fatigue with energy.”
Boundless Energy takes a fascinating look at what energy actually is, and at the factors that create and deplete our energy, giving suggestions for powerful yet practical methods and advice for influencing and enhancing our own energy levels. After implementing several of Chopra’s simple techniques into my life, I noticed a significant difference in my energy levels and look forward to experiencing more benefits in the months to come. I personally found the description of the Ayuvedic body types interesting but quite basic, and felt that I would need to study more in order to fully understand and implement this complex system of medicine. I also feel that in more complex cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, where the immune system has been severely affected, some people may also require the additional support of nutritional supplements and detoxification methods, in addition to following the principles outlined in Boundless Energy. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from reading this book. Highly recommended!