Monthly Archives: November 2009

Cranio-Sacral Therapy

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Cranio-Sacral therapy derives its name from the Cranium (bones of the skull) and Sacrum, which are the triangular shaped bones at the base of the spine.

The Cranio-Sacral system are all of the bones, fluids, brain, spinal column, nerves, membranes etc. within the cranium and going on down through the spine of our body. This makes it the core physiological control centre of the body, and working therapeutically through it, gives us access to all of our body’s functions.

Cranio-Sacral therapy has evolved from a rich remedial healing tradition going back to the early part of the 20th century. Its early discoverers were osteopaths, who with their sensitive palpative skills, noticed rhythms and phenomena within the bodies of their clients, which were not known to or not fully accounted for, by conventional teachings at the time.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy is a healing style which aims to release the deeply held patterns of disease (both physical and psychological) which accumulate throughout our life as a result of injury and illness, patterns which can lead to ill-health and dysfunction.

The classical Cranio-Sacral process involves two key objectives: Firstly, enhancing our underlying vitality which pervades our whole selves, creating and maintaining health and wellbeing in all aspects of our lives. And secondly, it is concerned with releasing any restrictions to the free distribution of this vitality throughout the body.

Later experience and studies led to the development of the Cranio-Sacral Biodynamic approach to the practice of Cranio-Sacral Therapy. This deep listening, almost meditative, style of working reflects the deepest foundations of a human being. And it acknowledges that we are intricate expressions of the wholeness of life and of the vast forces at work in our universe.

 
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St Johns Wort

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In my blog of the 10th of November, I outlined the extent of the problem of depression in our societies, the key symptoms and remedies.

Following on from this blog, here we look at the herb St John’s Wort which is considered to be one of the most effective over the counter anti-depressants.

Here are some key points about St John’s Wort:

  • First and foremost it is an anti-depressant
  • Since depresion has such a wide variety of symptoms, it can make it appear more of a cure-all than it really is
  • Hence, people can end up treating their depression, without realizing they have it
  • It has fewer side-effects than older medicinal anti-depressants, and some of the more modern ones. In fact, it has few if any side-effects.
  • It is very effective at treating milder forms of depression, but may well not be enough for more serious forms
  • As with all drugs, it is not effective for all people all of the time. Given the range of depression’s symptoms, this is hardly surprising.
  • Longer term treatments help protect against relapses
  • It can help to supress symptoms, and prevent the complications of no treatment
  • The risk of self-treatment is that it can bury problems that really require more help
  • Clinical test support the view tha St John’s Wort is effective with milder forms of depression. It can also be effective with dysthymia (longer term mild depresion). It is not for severe depression (at least on its own).

For a more extensive discussion this subject, clinical tests and other popular herbs try this book:

Herbs for the Mind, by Davidson & Connor

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Memories …

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There is no such ‘thing’ as the past. We live and experience our life in an eternally unfolding now.

However, we do have the ability to store and remember this unfolding present in our brain, nervous system and body. The common name for this stored experience of the present is memory.

Memories are not the same as data stored on your computer’s disk. This is a perfect copy, which can be retrieved completely at a future date. Our memories are not faithful duplicates of the present, rather they are reconstructions in real time, based on stored sensory experience and associations. And these reconstructions vary in quality and accuracy, and they can change in quality over time.

As you’ve probably noticed in your daily life, there are many things which we forget straight away, or very soon after the event. This phenomena of how long memories last and what influences this storage process has been the subject of much research.

Some of that research suggests that there is a functional physical aspect to this. For instance, it is thought that the hippocampus and perhaps part of the temporal cortex areas of our brain are responsible for storing longer term memories.

There are also differences between memories we are conscious of, and those which never make it to the conscious level. Driving a car is a good example of this. When we first learnt to drive, we were very conscious when remembering how to change gears. But with experience, we can drive from home to work with very little conscious effort in ‘remembering’ how to change gears.

Other ways of classifying memory, is the difference between somatic, or ‘fact’ based memories, such as the height of mount Everest. And episodic memories, which are unique and personal to us, such as what you felt when you woke up this morning.

It is believed that episodic memory is an important tool in our ability to learn from our environment and adapt our behavour accordingly. The richer our environment and experiences means that our brain literally grows, in terms of the number of neurons in our brains, and in the number of brain cell connections.

What is also interesting about us, is that a given memory may be segmented and stored in different parts of our brain. Some parts of our brain stores the emotional content of a memory, whilst other parts store the motion aspects, and other parts store the visual content etc.

This phenomena of segmentation may go some way to explaining why our recalled memories are not simple duplicates of events, but are a patchwork of reconstructed impressions. And it may also explain why we sometimes need a ‘clue’ to get our recall working for some memories.

This aspect is often termed our associative memory, and this understanding features in some memory improvement techniques, where a specific part of a memory is used as a hook to bring back a whole string of information.

Spurious memories are also another fascinating feature of our brains. It is believed that different memories can share the same physical parts of the brain, and hence this may contribute to false associations and distored momories. On the more positive side, this may also contribute to creativity and lateral thinking.

For a fascinating book on this subject (and a whole lot more) try:

Memory and Dreams: The Creative Human Mind, by George Christos

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Flax of Life

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A girl with the flaxen hair.

It conjures up a romantic notion of a fair maiden relaxing in a meadow on a warm summers day, one captured in music by the composer Claude Debussy.

Flax itself, whilst more mundane in nature has been cultivated by man for several thousand years, and is thought to one of the first grains to be cultivated. For instance, its thought that the use of flax fibres to produce linen goes back over 5,000 years.

In its oil form, known as linseed oil, it has a wide range of applications, from paint binder to a nutritional supplement.

As a nutritional supplement, its main benefit is the high content of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are very beneficial for our bodies, with for example the reduction in inflamation. The oils do not have the ligans found in flaxseeds, so don’t have the same antioxidant qualities.

Flax seeds, as well has having ligans (antioxidant qualities) and Omega-3, have quite a high vitamin B content. So in moderation, they are an excellent part of a healthy diet.

For more on the dietry benefits of Omega-3, see my blog “Fat Gets Funky”, October 6, 2009.

 
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Reiki Attunement

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Reiki has become very popular over the last decade or so, with the opening up of consciousness to a wider range of ideas about healing, and what constitutes health and ill-health.

So what does the word reiki mean?

In Japanese, the meanings for Rei are universal, holy, spiritual consciousness. And Ki can mean the energy, life force, a vital force that animates all living things.

Hence the word Reiki can be translated into the universal and holy, spiritually conscious, life force energy that energises and animates all living things.

Reiki Attunement
Awakening to the reiki energy within us is generally done using sacred symbols. These reiki symbols have no power in and of themselves. Rather they act as switches which allow us to tune into and turn on the reiki energy within.

To learn much more and experience real reiki for yourself, Click Here for a comprehensive and fascinating online reiki masters course.

 
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Rhythm Of Life

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Our pulse is a familiar exerience for many of us.

In the medical world, our pulse is a key factor in the diagnosis of our health, and in looking for the sources and reasons for our ill health. It can provide key information on what is going on inside our bodies, both at a general and the very specific level.

In western medical tradition, key factors are the rate, rhythm and the amplitude of the pulse.

In traditional chinese medicine, the practitioner feels the patient’s pulse in a variety of body locations. Key evaluation parameters are the frequency, quality, shape, strength, depth and rhythm of the pulse.

Tibetan medicine has a similar apporach. Here our pulse is regarded as an intermediary allowing the practitioner to attune to and listen in to the activity of the patient’s body.

This hands-on method requires almost total stillness by the practitioner, creating a silent and attentive space so the patient’s body can tell its story.

The practitioner observes the speed, then the strength, prominence, substance, tension and firmness of the pulse. Pulses are divided into two main types, known as hot and cold. Some are more masculine than others, whilst some are regarded as feminine.

In the world of Ayruveda, pulse diagnosis is equally important, and it has some elegant terms to describe the variety of pulses found, such as:

A Snake pulse, which is described as irregular and thin moving in waves like the motion of a serpent. A frog pulse, which is a pulse which is active, excited, and move like jumping of a frog. While a throbbing of the pulse under the ring finger where the pulse feels strong and its movement resembles the floating of a swan.

Factors such as the season of the year, has the person been exerting themselves physically, what medication are they on and time of day can all influence a person’s pulse, and must be factored into the diagnosis.

In all the above traditions, great skill and practice are required to get the correct diagnosis. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, the pulse can be used to accurately assist in the diagnosis many problems.

 
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Iyengar Yoga

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One of the most successful Indian exports to the world has been yoga, in its various forms and interpretations.

And of the several schools represented in the West, Iyengar yoga, named after its founder B. K. S. Iyengar, has been one of the most successful.

This style of yoga is very much founded on the eight limbs of yoga as delineated by Patanjali.

A very effective way of keeping fit and reducing stress, it never loses sight of the primary aim of yoga, which is to remember our true nature, our inherent oneness with all life.

Its practitioners aim for simplicity, peace, poise and rejuvenation. And it approaches our mind / body phenomena as an integral unit. That is, there where does one begin and the other end?

Yoga influences the chemical balances in our brain, and the free flowing of nervous energy. Both of which help to promote a healthy and energized life. One example of this are the inverted postures, which stimuate the brain and organs.

Iyengar yoga has a soothing, relaxing method of exercise, which means that you don’t have to be super fit to try it. This is very different from say, Astanga yoga, which has become increasingly popular in the West in recent years, which is quite an aggressive workout.

With the addition of meditation and energy practices, Iyengar yoga offers an all round body, mind, spirit program for health, vitality and inner satisfaction.

If you’d like to learn yoga, in any form, I’d suggest you go to a qualified teacher, who can make sure you get the finer points of these practices. And hence, get the full benefits.

If you’d like to know more about Iyengar Yoga, then the following book is a good introduction:

B.K.S Iyengar Yoga the Path to Holistic Health

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More information can also be found at the official B. K. S. Iyengar website, this includes a teachers directory: Iyengar Yoga

 
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Tibetan Kum Nye

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One of the instantly applicable aspects of Tibetan medicine is a relaxation practice called Kum Nye.

It has the simple aim of promoting harmony for us through integrating our mind and body, plus our individual self and the world we live in.

Working with the subtle energies which make up our being, Kum Nye stimulates, rebalances and expands them in such a way as to unite mind, body and our senses.

Through a series of simple exercises and massages, it helps us to relieve excess stress from our lives. It can also help to transform negative energy patterns which we may unconsciously be holding and hence promote a greater experience of health.

Kum Nye can enrich our lives by opening our senses and heart so that we feel more fulfilled and satisfied. And when we are more balanced and fulfilled we’re less prone to turn to addictions such as alcohol and excessive materialism.

Tibetan medicine is a rich blend of traditional Tibetan healing techniques and Ayruvedic practices, which were brought from India in the 7th century AD.

Tibetan healing’s general aim is to promote a balance and a free flowing of our vital life forces.

If you’d like to know more about Kum Nye, then the following book offers a very clear account:

Tibetan Relaxation: The Illustrated Guide to Kum Nye Massage and Movement – a Yoga from the Tibetan Tradition (Healthy Living, by Tarthang Tulku

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Spiritual Path II

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A spiritual path implies there is somewhere for you to go, some place or time in the future when you will be whole or happy.

This is just a delusion of a time-space universe.

 
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Artfully Vague

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One of the key skills of Eriksonian hypnotic techniques is the ability to be artfully vague.

In many ways, it was Milton Erikson’s great skill and precision with which he could be artfully vague that made his conversational hypnosis so effective.

What’s meant by artful vagueness in hypnosis?

It is a means by which the suggestions given to a person are open enough for them to form their hypnotic experience. It allows them to use their own imagination, realities and modalities (see my blog ‘R U Getting This?’ from the 28th of October, 2009) to create their personal experience.

Let’s have a look at an example. Say you’d like to create a place where you can go and relax. Now if I were to suggest that you go to a beach, well maybe you hate beaches. So instead, what if you’re allowed to create your own place, like so:

And you can allow your mind to drift …. drift to a pleasant place, a peaceful place. A place that you know and where you can always feel able to relax, completely. A safe …. secure place …. where no one …. and nothing can bother you.

Can you see the difference? In this example, you’re creating your own place, one that is unique to you.

Hypnosis is a fascinating subject and life-skill to have, if you’d like to know more about it, there are some home study courses on my Products page.

 
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