If you haven’t read it, it included a weeny update on where I am up to with the healing part of TGF world, so I suggest it would be a good idea to read that and get some context before launching into this one. By the way, all the healing posts now have their own special page here, too, so you can find them easily.
For those of you who have got the gist of what we’re doing, here is the first post about sorting the ‘epigenetics’ side of CSS or hyper-sensitivity out, as promised…
Start at the Beginning
If you are anything like me, you are desperate to get your life back on track. That desperation often means you leap ahead, full of enthusiasm and maybe miss a few important bits out. Oops; that’s what I’ve done, so here beginneth the first lesson …
After researching many different amygdala techniques, neuroplasticity programmes, emotional release methods etc and trialling several of them, I found that it was pretty powerful stuff. I found it released a lot of emotion and I was reeling around on an emotional rollercoaster. Great, I thought: it’s working. And then I lost more foods and gained more symptoms. I stopped for several weeks, naffed right off and despairing, I can tell you. Woe is me came right to the fore again. Nothing works; I’m going to starve to death etc etc.
I am an eternal optimist, thank goodness, and decided that, if the emotions were coming up, then I was probably on the right track but maybe my body wasn’t ready to deal with them yet. I felt instinctively that I needed to stop and calm my system down before attempting any real change work, if you see what I mean. Sort-of whoa is me, if you like :).
Making A Start
In essence, there are several aspects to this healing lark, but I split them really into two main types:
1. Calming the system down (reducing the amplifier) with para-sympathetic techniques such as passive meditation, acceptance, heart meditation etc and
2. Dynamic or ‘active’ healing methods such as brain training, neuroplasticity techniques, visualisation, emotional healing etc.
My problem was that I went straight in at number 2 and over-egged my system even more. The trick, I have found, is not to miss out number 1 and to do enough of it.
How Much Can You Take?
If you have a body that is over-reactive, which many of us TGFs have, then how is it supposed to take any more stuff thrown at it? In fact, just yesterday someone said to me: if your body is rejecting hard to digest foods, how do you think it is going to cope digesting hard emotions? Ooh, good point. I hadn’t really thought about the foods I’m left with – fish, fruit and veg – as being the easiest ones to digest but this person was right. As a nutritionist, I guess I should have seen that, shouldn’t I? Too close to the problem most likely to see the wood for the trees! Physician heal thyself and all that….
Anyway, if I accept the premise that I shouldn’t be giving my poor body any more to deal with, then the opposite to the ‘active’ approach I was taking healing-wise is the one that is needed: as passive as possible. Yeah, I like that idea: I can do lying down :). Seriously, I stopped everything and decided to concentrate just on breathing and meditation for while on the basis that felt what my body needed to do.
What Animal Are You?
First, see where you are. Try this exercise. Think of an animal that most represents how you feel at the moment. Ok, got one? Why does it feel like you?
Next, think of three positive things about that animal and try to see you’re being like it as a positive rather than negative experience.
For example, when I did this exercise a few weeks ago, I saw myself as a deer: a Bambi one not a great hulking thing with antlers! I had spindly, weak legs, I was jittery, eyes wide and ready to run at any minute. Frankly, I felt thin, weak and fearful.
When I thought about the positive animal attributes, though, I found ‘kind, graceful and long-legged’ (something as a vertically-challenged woman felt quite nice for a change!). It was a much better way of thinking about myself and I saw kind and graceful instead of weak and jittery.
I know this sounds a bit mad. I am quite a visual person and I like animals so this works for me; I’m sure you could use some other method to assess yourself but I rather like that one. It came from a meditation I did actually and just stuck with me. I’ll look that up and post it for you. Update: here it is.
I’ll tell you what animal I described myself as 2-3 weeks later in a bit. Ooh, intriguing…!
Which Calming Technique To Choose?
I have read countless books on meditation, breathing, para-sympathetic triggering type techniques, watched many videos and lectures on neuroscience and availed myself of what seems like zillions of downloads. For this calming down stage, I found the one that works best for me me is the simplest and takes 15 minutes. Go figure. And I got it for free, so bonus!
I know it sounds cheesy but I joined the Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra 21 Day Perfect Health Meditation Challenge. I needed help; someone to hold my hand, something that was easy to do, didn’t take too long and would get me into the habit. It takes 21 days, so they say, to develop any new habit, and that’s why it is a 21 day challenge. I did it really early on, then forgot about it as I got more complicated about stuff. In retrospect, I should have stuck with it for longer.
Basically, even though they are really well-known celebs etc, they do know their stuff and Deepak’s credentials are second to none in this field. I have quite a few of his CDs etc now and there’s not one I haven’t liked. It might just be that he has a superb deep, nourishing sort of voice that I respond to. (So does P and that’s why I fell in love with him on the phone, which is a whole other story..). Anyway, the way it works is that they do free programmes and then you can purchase if you want to. I’m not sure if the free version goes after the 21 days as I bought it anyway so I could download and keep it. Either way, there are regular free ones and loads of resources on the main website too.
How It Works
Each day’s meditation starts with a little chat from Oprah and then a positive healing type message from Deepak. This is followed by a ‘centreing thought’ – an affirmation if you will – and then a 10 minute meditation where you breathe and silently say the day’s mantra in your head. The point of the mantra is that if you are focusing on that, you are not focusing on anything else and you can drift into what they call ‘the gap’, the stillness and silence that is so nourishing for our parasympathetic nervous systems. It takes practice, of course, as does anything worthwhile doing.
NB. You may be way beyond me here, of course, but bear in mind the lesson I am giving here is to start right back at the beginning and have the intention of not over-stressing your mind and body. To go right back to basics with meditation. Do you need to do that? I didn’t realise I did for months!
You can read tons on the t’interweb about meditation generally, and about mantra meditation specifically so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel there. I will say one of the best books about meditation types I have read is DavidJi, someone actually who worked with Deepak for years and he explains the various techniques and gives you little trials to have a go with. The book can get a bit ‘deep and meaningful’ if you know what I mean, but I found the explanations about the various methods of meditation very useful and enjoyable. I’m sure there are other, probably better ones, but I haven’t read them and this one worked for me.
Suffice to say, he now rates mantra meditation, specifically primordial sound meditation (no, never heard of it either!!), as the best, having tried loads over the years. Useful to know. After I read that, I thought: ooh, I know a good mantra one; the 21 day challenge!
I’m sure there are others but that 21 day thing works for me. I repeat it twice a day, either doing the same day twice or moving on and just repeating the whole programme in a shorter time. I’m sure I’ll move onto others in time. One thing I do know is that I like meditating and find it very beneficial. Very calming.
One thing I did like about it specifically was the positivity. Again, cheesy, but I noticed how negative I had become in my own self-talk especially, but also to everyone else. So, I specifically wanted someone to talk to me positively. I also wrote down the centreing thought or something that was said on a piece of paper and stuck it on my notice board, repeating it every time I walked past it. And, I do think it made a difference.
In fact, there is even a part of the site where you can write down your thoughts and answers to some questions after each day’s meditation if you like – confidentially, of course – and I found that helpful. I didn’t do it every day but it has been interesting to go back and look at what I said last time. I find there is a definite shift in my thinking, which is nice to see. Not so negative. Most of the time ;). Of course, journaling (writing stuff down to you and me), is a known technique for helping heal emotions specifically so that part of the programme is also good to do.
Free 21 Day Programme Coming Up on 3rd November 2014!
I was lucky that the Perfect Health programme came up as I needed it. I am happy to say there is a new 21 day challenge due to start on 3rd November. It’s called Energy of Attraction – Manifesting Your Best Life. You can see more about it here and join in if you like. It’s not a specific health one, although there is a lot of cross-over I find in these kind of things and it may just help you get into the habit of meditation or simply try it, as I did. Worth a look.
Ok, so that’s where I am currently. I have indeed gone on quite a journey, as all the best TV shows now say! And, I have ended up back at the start. That sounds – and feels – a bit frustrating maybe, but I know a lot more now than I did at the beginning of the ‘journey’ so feel better able to make decisions and judgements now I know where I am headed. I am aware, by the way, how simplistic this all sounds. All I can say is that I think that’s what we need: simplicity! I’m not saying the dynamic stuff doesn’t work: it certainly does, but you have to be ready to cope with whatever comes out. With an amplifier as high as mine, I wasn’t. Simple as. Yours might be; who knows?
What Animal Now?
So, what animal am I now after 2-3 weeks of doing just the calming meditation rather than any dynamic stuff?
This morning, I repeated my animal meditation and I turned out to be a…..
Watership Down type hare! Eh? I thought. Then I realised: long ears up listening and nose twitching, so still on alert, but a lot closer to the ground (ie. more grounded), less skittish and much stronger, more powerful legs. Still ready to bound away but not such a weak, skinny, frightened thing. My positive attributes: bit mad, strong, cute. Yes, much more hare-like now than a deer. I think that’s a good thing…?!
I wonder what animal you will be in 2-3 weeks’ time? Let us know!
In essence, today’s lesson is:
You can’t miss out steps. You have to calm your system right down before you can retrain your brain. There are several methods to achieve that and mantra meditation works for me. I’ll cover others in future posts, no doubt.
Hope it was useful to someone; do let me know.