Read more Calvin and Hobbes.

Calvin-and-Hobbes-hugging-calvin-and-hobbes-1395524-1024-768

There’s not much more to say. I honestly believe that if everyone read 10 minutes of Calvin and Hobbes every day, the world would change immeasurably in a fairly short space of time. The only challenge i had was which image to use – Every one invoking a smile – sometimes a “laughter” smile, other times that smile that comes with something that is so moving, so heart warming that it (almost) brings a tear to your eye.

So – Read more Calvin and Hobbes – It’s great for your health and it’s fun.

cheers

andy

The basic principles.

Stress, Trauma and over stimulation create tension. Many things in our modern lives create tension. We carry tension in our bodies – In our muscles, fascia, even bone.

We have lifestyles that immerse us in this tension/stress day in day out – We adapt to that environment – we become more efficient at becoming “stressed”.

This tension has a detrimental affect on the performance of our bodies and minds. Tense muscles – especially the psoas and the muscles of the face/eyes/tongue/jaw – affect the messages sent by the nervous system to the limbic system and endocrine system. This affects our mood, behaviour and performance of other systems due to, amongst other things, chronic inflammation and chemical imbalance. Breathing is also negatively affected and the importance of this is hard to over state – When you don’t breathe “well”, you are not “well”.

The body has an innate healing mechanism to rid us of this tension – The challenge for us today is that it evolved to cope with massive traumatic events and is not activated by small amounts of cumulative “stress”, especially when our response is most often “freeze” as we don’t fight or “flight” (run away) in many of these situations as it would be an inappropriate response in the society we live in – You don’t physically fight with someone that you are annoyed with at work (usually!), you “hold it in”.

The mechanism by which we can release the cortisol, adrenaline etc in these “freeze” situations is called neurogenic tremors. A prime example is shaking with fear. You were unable to fight or flight so you “froze” – The event was traumatic enough that your body was triggered to release the excess adrenaline, cortisol etc – the chemicals involved in this “process” – through shaking. Another challenge for us in more recent times is that we have become so conditioned not to show weakness or stand out from the crowd that we suppress these emotions, making the situation even worse as the chemicals get no outlet – The “outlet” is chemical imbalance, causing inflammation and mood/behavioural changes – Anxiety, depression, dis-ease.

In the same way that we adapt to become more efficient at sitting from sitting for long periods of time, the more we suppress these “outlets”, the better we becoming at suppressing them. Being good – more efficient – at something that is harmful to you is not a good thing. Our body/mind has forgotten how to use this mechanism as we never use them – Use it or lose it.

The good news is that we can re-activate this healing ¬†mechanism. And once we have, it doesn’t need a daily reminder – Just now and again – and that’s really easy to do once you’ve reminded your body/mind that it is there. I would love to help you do this as once you have the tools to do it, it is yours to keep and use whenever you want/need. Which shouldn’t be very often once you’ve released that build up of tension that is stored within you right now.

And just in case you are thinking that you don’t want to suddenly start shaking the next time you have a run in at the office – Don’t worry, that’s not how it works. You will gain total control over this through simple “focus” and relaxation that can be done in seconds once you have practiced a little.

You will be able to release what has built up over time and ensure that these challenges don’t come up again through simply sleeping well (we’ll cover that in another piece) and short periods of “meditation”. Even this may be unnecessary (the meditation, not sleeping ūüėČ ) once you have released the existing tension but it’s fun to do so why not.

If you want to arrange a 30 (ish) minute call with me to see if this has merit for you, get in touch and we can take it from there.

cheers

Andy

 

 

Talking to anxiety.

I should be upfront and say that i removed this post for a day as i was conflicted as to whether or not to leave it up – The reason being that you won’t need to work on the language you use when working with your anxiety if you do the Kisssmilebreatherepeat and “going reptile” as your language will change automatically as your perceptions change due to feeling different/better. However, i had a message from a friend who really liked it so it’s back up – And even though i know you don’t need this, here it is anyway.

“Hey, how you doing there buddy – say what? – OK, i’ll check that out, thanks for the warning. You know what, i checked it out and it’s actually ok but thanks for the tip off, you are a legend”.

I don’t know where that little scene came from but i wanted to write some thoughts about the subject of language and how we communicate with anxiety – and the massive impact that language (and “approach”) can have.

When anxiety rears it’s ugly head – and i’m talking the unhelpful, debilitating type, not the type of anxiety that keeps you alive in the jungle or some other truly “wild” place or situation. The kind that says “better wash your hands for longer -actually, do them again, there may still be germs or something on there and you have to get them off” – The worse thing that you can do is tell yourself you are being stupid or to “stop worrying” – or the anxiety to shut up or go away. No one likes being told to shut up or go away, especially not a part of you – by you. One of the things that helped me recover just started happening naturally as “triggers” were “released” by the release of “tension”/trauma via musculoskeletal relaxation/release – And if you are working with me already¬†you will almost certainly have this experience too – But if you’ve not yet reached that stage, let’s try and get a head start.

As said above, how you communicate with your anxiety is important and above is an ideal (if a tad hollywood) example of how to do it. Don’t try to stop it, berate it or tell it to go away and stop ruining your life – It’s part of you and it sincerely believes that it is helping you – It ¬†doesn’t realise it’s ruining your life. We need to talk to it the way we would talk to a friend – to our own child.

A little education can help in these situations. Let’s say we are talking about germs/germophobia – a mixture of “contamination” and “checking” and a common “form”/symptom of anxiety/OCD. Knowing a little about how germs actually spread, how bad they actually are etc gives you the “soft ammunition” to talk to your anxiety with. So, the next time it pops up – triggered by your approach to the sink – or the running water – and does “it’s thing” – say “hi buddy – yeah, just washing the hands – oh and guess what i read the other day – washing too much actually reduces the protective oils and can cause the skin to crack, making it easier for viruses to get in – You know what, we should actually just use a normal soap and do 15-20 seconds and that’s ideal – that cool with you?”. And the next time they don’t even (really) need a rinse, the same approach but take it to the next stage – “You know what buddy, we’ve only been out and about and i don’t feel anything on my hands – we’ve not been exposed to anything harmful – we are not about to eat – Let’s let those oils and good bacteria get a chance to recover and give us even more protection – after all, from the day we’ve had and the protection our immune system gives us, even if we did have something on our hands, it’s not going to be any worse than a slight stomach upset – and that’s absolutely worse case scenario – remember that article we read about poison and the dose being important?”.

I know my description above isn’t perfect and i’ve avoided getting “technical” as in my experience, that can often make things worse, “analysis paralysis” as you go through the minutiae of the science.

The language/approach above applies particularly to 3 of the most common forms of OCD, whether checking, contamination or hoarding. Rumination/intrusive thoughts are different and my experience with them very limited – however, by being curious, asking questions of your anxiety in a friendly way, you interrupt the process (and “befriend” your anxiety) which is powerful in itself. Add to this the work being done by the other methods and powerful change is possible. These conditions are “caused” by a type of fear – and that’s a perception – and when you “feel” differently (chemistry, energy) you perceive differently – Trust that as you “feel” better, the triggers will just disappear ¬†-i know it sounds simple but it really is – the best things always are.

 

Thanks and don’t forget – read more Calvin and Hobbes.

 

Andy.

Going reptile.

Flow, “flow state”, “going reptile” – Whatever you want to call it, it is that state of consciousness where the front part of brain – the one that does too much “thinking” (the pre-frontal cortex) – de-activates. We enter that optimal state of consciousness where everything is effortless. Time slows down. A sports person performs some incredible feat, someone has an incredible insight that helps with a scientific breakthrough – An artist creates a masterpiece. We think of this state as the “brain firing on all cylinders” when the opposite is actually true. In a cocktail of neuro-chemistry and neuro-electricity, that which is detrimental to outright performance goes in “sleep mode”, leaving the reptile brain in charge. We are conscious, we are doing – but that is all – we do not need to “think” as there is a higher power in charge – our inner reptile has taken the wheel – And he/she has been around for a long time and is a very good driver indeed.

Ever driven home and only remember a few minutes of a 30-40 minute drive. You wonder how you just did that. That’s when the front of the brain, the “analytical part” switches off – and yet you still manage to drive a car perfectly. This is temporary/transient hypo-frontality and is described as being “an almost automatic, effortless, yet highly focused state of consciousness where the task is performed to the best of the persons ability” and that there is also “no sense of time or worry of failure” (Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi, 1988).

“A¬†necessary prerequisite to the experience of flow is a state of transient hypo-frontality that enables the temporary suppression of the analytical and meta conscious capacities of the explicit system” (Dietrich 2004).

This state is attainable through “meditation” and, i believe from what i’ve read, certain states induced by certain drugs. But what if we had an immediate “doorway”, something we could do simply that would take us into this state on demand, within a few seconds? From a sporting performance aspect this is interesting to say the least. The energy conservation of not having to power that pre frontal cortex – “nervous energy” going into powering the muscles instead of all the over analysis that comes with an active “front brain”. The increase in performance that comes from not thinking, just doing – all micro adjustments being made by the reptile, he/she that helps us perform at our effortless best. If we could access this place at will, with ease – be “in flow” more of the time, maybe even most of the time, the possibilities are very interesting indeed. Not to mention the application for meditation – achieving that deep state of rest that allows the processing of emotional trauma (and deep healing) in an instant.

This is possible. I have experienced it – and seen in others the increase in performance by opening the doorway to this power. And it’s really simple. The more you practice, the better you will become – but you can benefit from this right away.

The place we need to become aware of is the¬†place where the tip of tongue should sit most of the time to “complete”/”earth” our main energy circuit – It is believed to be the meeting place of yin and yang within us, “Man’s middle”. In acupuncture, there are two points known as GV26 and GV27 – they sit very closely together in this area – One (GV26) stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and the other (GV27) the parasympathetic.

Gv 25 - 28

It is an area that has a massive influence on our chemistry and “energy circuits”, second after second, breath after breath. When you breath in, if you pay close attention, you can feel where GV26 is – it gets stimulated by the (often minute) movements of your face/mouth/eyes (It’s just below the base of your nose if that helps). When you breath out (keep your mouth closed) you can feel GV27 – a little lower, closer to the gum line. If this area is “balanced and relaxed” – then your diaphragm is “balanced and relaxed” – And if your diaphragm is balanced and relaxed, your breathing is balanced and relaxed –¬†you are balanced and relaxed.

I can help you work with this area to achieve significant improvements in many aspects of your life. Anxiety/OCD, overall health, meditation and sporting performance to name a few. Face to face communication is what i have found to be most effective and for this reason i am only working this way now as i want you to get the most out of these methods. Feel free to contact me anytime to arrange a free 30 minute chat.

Andrew

Becoming what we perceive.

“What we perceive becomes our reality”

As a living organism we adapt to our environment. Just as the long distance runners muscles adapt to make him or her more efficient at this particular “skill”, so the muscles of the face adapt to being tense – The more often they are “tense” – reacting to (various types of aural and visual) stimulation, the more tense they become. In the evolutionary blink of an eye we have “adopted” lifestyles that we can not cope with. Our chemistry is affected by this over stimulation – An almost constant state of fight, flight or “freeze” -With “freeze” being the one we adopt nearly all of the time, seeing as we are neither fighting or fleeing these “stresses” of every day life in the 21st century. Fighting or “flighting” (running away) would release the cortisol and adrenaline produced by these events but as we are doing neither, it has no outlet. The outlet becomes anxiety, tension, chemical imbalance.

The “messenger” here is the muscles of the face/eyes/ears etc – and tense muscles send a tense message – you perceive differently – more negatively, more anxiously than you should – than is real. And so begins the negative feedback loop.

If we “feel” differently, we perceive differently.

The mechanics of this are simple – you perceive something – see something, hear something, feel something – and you react – how you react being dependant on what it is you are reacting to and how you “feel” about what you are reacting to. How you feel being dependant largely on your chemistry. And when your chemistry is out of kilter, everything is out of kilter.

When we alter how we “feel” – about the world, our environment, others, we change our perception of things – If we change our perception, the triggers for anxiety, depression, OCD and other challenges can just disappear – This is why the Pharma approach can often be highly successful in the very short term. How we feel is largely affected by the chemicals secreted by a number of glands and the gut. ¬†That’s why these chemicals are “synthesised” and used in the treatment of these “dis-eases”.

One of these glands (Pineal) has been shown to be atrophied at a very young age in “western” society – A combination of “poor” diet, additives, sodium flouride (water, toothpaste and other sources) and various other influences all play a part, as can not being breast fed (but not from a simply nutritional standpoint – it’s to do with jaw structure and muscular development), dental work, knocks to the head – and the list goes on – And while we can change and control some of these things, we need to focus on what we can do once these “dis-eases” have “taken hold”. If we can bring about long term, permanent change through changing the way we “feel” long term, we will see lasting results.

Certain movements of the face stimulate the secretion of certain chemicals. We know that smiling produces serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and other chemicals – We also know that the “type” of smile affects the particular “cocktail” that is secreted. We know that kissing stimulates the release of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins etc etc. But how does this happen on a mechanical level?. Simple. The movement of your muscles (some very small) stimulates the nerves to stimulate the glands to secrete these chemicals. Form a frown and see how it makes you feel. Form a smile and feel it – then imagine you are “playing” with the smile and feel the difference – think of something cheeky or genuinely funny and see what happens – You engage different muscles (small muscles of the eye, temporal lobe region etc) and you get a different sensation – This is chemistry – natures own medicine cabinet.

“Play” also helps here as if you see something as play, it changes your perception – it changes the way we activate the muscles of our face – we smile “from the eyes” and this changes the way our nervous system stimulates the limbic system and the glands of the endocrine system. It takes the “trying” out of what we are doing and in doing that, it takes the tension with it.

Many of the lifestyle related dis-eases we see in the “developed world” effectively come back to the same thing – Stress, tension, inflammation. We can complicate this by looking at symptoms and parts of what are happening, using technical language to make ourselves sound more knowledgeable or the science more profound – but it effectively comes back to tension – to stress – to dis-ease. It shows when you look at the most recent studies (and treatments) into a long lost of diseases that many of them are using the same chemicals, just in different combinations, to combat many of these illnesses. We already have access to these chemicals, we just aren’t using them in the right doses and in the “right” way – Because of the messages all this tension is sending to the “dispensers”. If we change the message, we can not only manage these conditions but eventually remove the very triggers, perceptions and tension/stress that cause them – curing them long term.

As mentioned above, these chemicals play a massive part in our overall health. Our mood (depression amongst many other “dis-eases”), behaviour (ADD, ADHD etc etc), inflammation (poor Vagus nerve health). Whether it be the direct effects of oxytocin, melatonin , serotonin, DMT etc – or the knock on effect of having healthy melatonin production/secretion on the production of other “super” chemicals such a glutathione, the importance of these chemicals is hard to over state. I’ve already mentioned the long list of “dis-eases” that many of this chemicals are now being used to treat (particularly melatonin) but the implications are huge. Depression is already treated widely with melatonin and drugs that affect serotonin re-uptake. Anxiety is also treated with drugs that affect serotonin levels/re-uptake. Autistic spectrum “disorders” are now being linked with melatonin and serotonin – it’s a long list.

This is why the Pharma approach has become so popular in modern medicine. If we can alter/affect the chemistry, we can have a profound effect on the condition being dealt with. The issue with the “Pharma” approach is that the synergies¬†between the workings of the human body/mind (nervous/endocrine/limbic systems etc) are far too complicated – and the distribution of these chemicals in all their individual doses/cocktails/timings so complex that we can never re-create the balance that the body truly needs – hence why you see one drug prescribed, only to be followed by another to balance out an imbalance created by the first one. It’s just way too complex to ever truly “treat” this way and it always will be.

As mentioned above, one of the important glands in all of this is the pineal gland. In studies performed in “western” society, the pineal gland is shown to¬†have seriously atrophied in most subjects by our late teens and early twenties. For something so important in our overall health this is not good. This premature atrophying is now known to be connected to alzheimers, dementia and other neuro-degenerative disorders as well as being directly connected to the ageing process. This atrophying has long been considered “normal” and yet studies done in “less developed” societies show pineal gland health to be good into the 50’s and 60’s. Something not quite right there.

Because of our “modern lifestyles” and the huge amount of stimulation (mostly “negative”/harmful) we are bombarded with daily – Particularly aurally and visually, we spend much of our time with our tongues (and facial muscles)”tight” – ready to respond to something – Always “thinking”. Like a “lite” version of the fight/flight/freeze response – but with no actual “event” that utilises the chemicals being released. This constant “tension” results in an almost constant over release of chemicals (cortisol for example) that are useful when you need to fight or flee – but not so good when you have them constantly being drip fed into your system that doesn’t need them – or have a “healthy” outlet for them – the outlet ends up being being anxiety, OCD, inflammation etc etc. These are a primal responses to deal with real problems (such as escaping death by large animal) and don’t do any favours to our health when produced and secreted in this way. The muscles stay tight, ready for action, telling our brain that we need these chemicals – even if what we “see” does not justify it, the message that is being sent by tense muscles is that we are “stressed” or in danger of some kind – that we need these chemicals – “what we perceive becomes our reality”. Imagine what would happen if you kept your bicep contracted for a number of days, as often as possible – it would eventually stay “tight”. That’s what is happening to our faces/jaws/tongues – and that has a very powerful effect on our chemistry/health.

This also impacts on the psoas at the other “end” of the nervous system. When we have a “freeze” response, no matter how small, it’s the psoas, the fight or flight muscle, that gets tense. I will be doing another piece dedicated to the psoas so i won’t go into that anymore here – let’s just say that it’s importance in our overall health would be hard to overstate. When the psoas is tense, exhausted, over stimulated in one way, it can cause havoc with the bodies systems, being a major factor in bowel and gut issues/dis-ease, back pain, adrenal issues/fatigue, migraines, hamstring issues etc etc – It’s so integral that it can affect any number of areas and cause a long list of dis-eases. And when we have tension in our faces/jaws/tongues, it creates tension in our psoas.

This chemically harmful drip, drip, drip continues unless we somehow step into the feedback loop and do something about it. This is why “chronic” anxiety and depression don’t appear overnight. This is not to say that conditions can’t appear early in life as pre-natal conditions also affect tension “held” in the body (tense parent – tense child, position prior to birth etc) and we know about the process of birth and the effect it can have on cranial bone position and muscular tension – My wife and i have experienced this ourselves with our daughter in particular.

Spending time in nature, breathing “well”/diaphragmatically, doing a colouring book instead of watching (certain types of) TV, exercise, CBT – all useful tools in coping with these conditions but often not enough to reverse the loop as the facial tension remains and the constant negative stimulation wins the battle. An hour of exercise vs 24 hours of negative stimulation via tight facial muscles – a hard battle to win for the exercise. Especially as that exercise is often doing more harm than good due to loading on top of poor posture – and “poor” breathing patterns (thoracic breathing, over breathing). This muscular tension also affects the position/alignment of the bones of the head, creating “blockages” and imbalances in cerebro-spinal fluid and this is why cranio sacral work can be so effective for many people (Simkovich and Autism for example). These “misalignments” can also directly impinge on the performance of other glands, especially the pineal, which, unlike the rest of the mammalian brain, is not separated by the blood brain barrier system and has profuse blood flow, second only to the kidney. Cerebro-spinal fluid also removes metabolic waste from the brain so it’s unhindered flow is very important.

So, we effectively need to make the most of our own chemistry and try to release the existing muscular/myofascial tension to allow us to move forward. We need a way to stimulate these systems to release these chemicals in the “right”/”helpful”combinations and the “right” doses – and at the same time “reset” and release the tension that was causing the “imbalanced” stimulation in the first place? We need to change what we perceive through changing how we “feel” – so that we become someone that isn’t stressed or tense, overly anxious or depressed. If we could feel differently, we’d perceive differently.

What if we had a method that did all of the above? – and also helped improve our posture by utilising the relationship between the jaw muscles and neck muscles, helping to align the hyoid bone and atlas vertebrae, our bodies “spirit level” – that when adjusted in the smallest of ways, can affect posture profoundly, as well as improving the performance/efficiency of both the circulatory system and nervous system/s.

We do. There is a way of doing all of this. To effect long term change, creating a positive feedback loop – and it’s all done using the bodies own methods, with no external stimulation or medicine required. It involves kissing, smiling and breathing – and repeating those three things.

I have found that the most effective way to communicate how to do this is face to face and i want you to get the most out of this, as quickly as possible. As much as i love to talk to people about this, i am interested in helping you get back to a fully functional, fun life as soon as is possible. Ideally we won’t need to talk more than a couple of times, unless it’s to catch up and see hope well you are doing – which would be great. If you are interested in knowing more, please feel free to contact me and we can arrange a free 30 minute (or so) face to face conversation to see if its right for you.

Andrew