A Good Night’s Sleep

Everyone knows what a struggle the day can be if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Our energy and performance levels suffer, and so do our stress levels and our mood. Yet we can’t ‘make’ ourselves go to sleep and more than we can make ourselves remember things.

More than a third of adults have problems sleeping. If you’re one of them, you don’t have to suffer. There are many things you can do to help yourself without resorting to drastic and potentially risky measures like sleeping pills:

  1. First of all, try to maintain regular bed times and wake times, including weekends.
  2. Eat early – at least two hours before you go to bed. It takes this long to digest a meal. Late eating can cause indigestion, which disturbs sleep. A regular waking time in the morning strengthens the circadian function and helps with getting to sleep at night.
  3. Drinking close to bedtime can also disturb your sleep, so avoid drinking within two hours of bedtime and don’t drink stimulants (such as tea and coffee) after 6pm. An early evening drink such as chamomile tea can be helpful. Avoid alcohol – it may help you fall asleep but will dehydrate you, causing you to wake early with a dry mouth and throat.
  4. Exercise regularly, but don’t do anything strenuous within three hours of bedtime. Late afternoon is the best time. Regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and helps you sleep more deeply, but exercising close to bedtime makes falling asleep more difficult. It makes you more alert and raises body temperature (a cooler body temperature facilitates sleep).
  5. A very pleasant way to drift off to sleep is to practise physical and mental relaxation. Use a relaxation CD or DVD if it helps. Practise during the day so that when you need it the skill is easily used.
  6. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps enormously if you want to get to sleep. Combine it with visualising a peaceful scene.
  7. Clear your mind. An active mind interferes with sleep. If your mind is over active as bedtime approaches, write down whatever you are thinking about. Listing things you have to do tomorrow helps prevent worrying. Keep work-related things out of the bedroom – these may trigger anxious thoughts.
  8. Nightly rituals can send a strong message to the unconscious that it is time for sleep, for example, a warm bath, listening to soothing music or reading something calming in bed.
  9. Remember, we all need different amounts of sleep. Try out a few things, find what works for you, and don’t worry if you’re not sleeping as much as other family members. They may need more than you.

Ironically, the thing that prevents people sleeping the most is worrying that they won’t be able to sleep, so practise relaxation, and if you fancy it take up meditation.

Many people have overcome sleeping problems using the above techniques.

©David Lawrence Preston, 10.5.2019

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How to improve your memory

A good memory is a huge asset in every area of life, but how many people struggle to remember simple everyday things?

Psychologists universally agree that there’s a great deal we can do to improve. They  distinguish between short- and long-term memory. Short-term is the stuff of day to day living and long-term, well, longer. The techniques taught in memory books and courses deal mainly with the short term memory.

Improving short-term memory

Here are some hints:

  • Write things down. Make shopping lists, action plans, ‘to do’ lists. Keep a notepad with you – paper or electronic and use it.
  • Pay attention. You are more likely to remember something you pay attention to in the first place.
  • Take an interest – we find it easier to remember things which interest us. E.g. sports fans can reel off facts and figures from fixtures long ago.
  • Practise – like most skills, the more you practise, the better you get. And practising a little every day is more effective than a frantic session once a fortnight.
  • Repetition – the continual repetition of information, silently or aloud, ingrains it in the memory. Memory responds to repetition – this is a core principle.
  • Use rhymes – for example, ‘In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.’
  • Mnemonics involve using words and letters to remember things; a popular one is ‘ROYGBIV’ to recall the colours of the rainbow.
  • Weave the items you wish to remember into a story – the more outrageous the better. E.g. if you want to remember items on a shopping list your story might go: ‘One day, when spreading butter over the teacakes, an argument broke out. The man said he’d like some eggs. His wife asked him if he’d prefer bread instead. He said ‘no’, pulled out a tube of toothpaste and hit her over the head with it. She responded by hitting him with a bottle of shampoo….’
  • Use associations. They make use of the way the brain connects and stores information. E.g. the ‘place method’ – physically leaving objects in a special place which acts as a reminder; or ‘face name’ associations – changing a person’s name into something meaningful and matching it with something unusual about them, such as Mr Rose who has a big nose.
  • Another method is to mentally retrace a series of events to jog the memory, e.g. to remember where you left something or recall at what stage a significant incident happened.
  • Memory pegs are a popular way of remembering lists. You can invent memory pegs which mean something special for you. For example:

One is the sun

Two is a shoe

Three is a key

Four is a door

Five is a hive

Six is sticks

Seven is heaven

Eight is a gate

Nine is a sign

Ten is a pen

When you want to remember a list, such a shopping list of butter, eggs, bread, toothpaste and shampoo, ‘hang’ the items you want to remember on the pegs. Each item goes with one peg, and you imagine the two together. So, make an image of butter melting in the sun; eggs cracked over a shoe; bread on a table next to a key; a tube of toothpaste splattered on a door; shampoo spilt over a hive, etc.

When you want to recall the items, simply go through the peg words and note what object you placed on each peg. The pegs trigger your memory, and with practice you can easily remember up to two dozen items or more.

  • Use an affirmation. E.g. If you’re having difficulty recalling something, use an affirmation such as: ‘Right now, I can’t recall… but soon I will. My unconscious is helping me and it will come to me shortly’.
  • Triggers: Close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax. Then put the thumb and fingers of your dominant hand together and whisper ‘Alpha’ under your breath (this acts as a ‘trigger’). Ask for the information you require. The answer may pop into your head immediately or come to you later. Your intuition will lead to where you left the object.
  • The ‘place’ method: e.g. imagine a set of the objects you want to remember placed in different locations around the house. Imagine them in different places as you move through each room in a logical order. With practice you’ll find it easy to recall the object/s you ‘left’ in each place.

Improving Your Long Term Memory

These techniques can be useful when you need to remember blocks of information for longer than, say, a week or two, for example when studying for an exam.

  1. Be systematic

Commit the information you wish to store and retrieve to memory systematically. This makes it easier to harmonise with material already stored. Sometimes recalling a fragment of information makes the rest more accessible.

  1. Think about it

Think about what you want to remember and its application to experiences you’re having: it makes a big difference.

  1. Focus

Next time you want to memorise something, imagine that your memory is a clean sheet of blotting paper. Focus intently, imagining the material being absorbed in the same way you would press the blotting paper over the page.

  1. Autosuggestion

Use autosuggestion to programme the memory ‘computer’ housed in your unconscious. Relax into the dreamy Alpha State (the ‘CALM’ setting on the AcuPearls can help with this), then affirm, with feeling:

‘I have perfect memory and concentration. Therefore I can recall instantly and easily whatever I hear, read or study. Because I have perfect memory, I can remember at will whatever I require. I am at one with the source of all knowledge.’

Do this regularly and you will soon notice an improvement. You may find it helps to record the message onto an audio device.

  1. Affirmations and Creative Imagery

You can use affirmations and Creative Imagery to programme your memory. E.g. if you want to remember the contents of a book or lecture, use the thumb and fingers trigger and affirm:

‘I will remember the information I am about to study easily. My mind is clear, my memory is perfect. It is the nature of my mind to remember effortlessly.’

When you have finished, affirm:

‘The information I have just studied will flow quickly and easily. My mind is clear, my memory is perfect. It is the nature of my mind to remember effortlessly.’

Accelerated Learning

Physical and mental relaxation assists learning by reducing anxiety. You can deliberately store information for straightforward retrieval using deep relaxation into Alpha State. This is the basis, for example, of the accelerated language learning method pioneered by Michel Thomas in the 1980s – he demonstrated that students could go from zero to proficiency in a few months.

Summary

Memory training appears daunting at first, but with perseverance the result can be impressive and have a knock on effect on all areas of life.

©David Lawrence Preston, 2.10.2018

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How To Books, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children in Eastern Europe have long been using accelerated learning techniques to learn foreign languages, sometimes reaching fluency in just a few months. The language teacher, Michel Thomas, used these techniques to help celebrity students from nil to fluency in a few months.

 

Accelerated learning removes the main blockage to learning – stress. Pupils relax, close their eyes and drift off while the teacher speaks the information at a slow pace and prescribed pitch and rhythm. In some cases, they learn more than a hundred times faster than before.

 

You can do the same using the thumb and fingers trigger, which is particularly useful if you have reasons for wanting to absorb a large amount of information (e.g. an exam, or if you’re an actor/actress remembering your lines).

 

Relax. Bring the thumb and fingers together (this sends a signal to the brain to prepare for stronger programming). Affirm that you will easily remember everything you are about to see or hear. Add, ‘Nothing will distract me. I have superior concentration and understanding’.

 

Read the material (or record it beforehand) at a slow and steady pace. You will absorb and retain the information more readily than in the waking state.

 

When you’ve finished reading, again use the trigger to relax and affirm ‘I can recall the material I’ve just read/heard about… (mention the subject) at any time using the thumb and fingers trigger’.

 

When you need to recall the information, use the thumb and fingers trigger and affirm that the material will rapidly return to consciousness.

 

Steve, a young student, was worried about his forthcoming exams. He’d done very little work, but with less than a month to go, was willing to do whatever he could to get good grades. He prepared a précis of the information, recorded it onto tape and listened to it daily, morning and night. He used the memory affirmation and the thumb and fingers trigger. During the exams, he used quick relaxation techniques and deep breathing to stay calm.

 

Steve achieved the right grades. He felt he’d cheated the system, but he hadn’t. He’d just found a way to make his brain work better, and surely that’s what it’s all about.

 

These techniques work. They’re tried and tested and are frequently taught in memory training courses. But they have to be practised regularly for maximum results.

You won’t get far without self-belief. It’s one of the biggest factors in success, yet many people, even the most able, lack it.

To strengthen your belief in yourself:

  1. Make your short-term goals challenging but within reach. Your unconscious finds it hard to accept a huge leap but can adapt to a series of small steps. For instance, if you want to be a radio presenter, don’t expect an early call from a national station – you’ll only be discouraged when it doesn’t happen. Instead, get some experience on hospital radio, then work your way up to local radio, then regional stations.
  2. Reflect on your successes. A belief can be formed instantly, after one event, so long as you think about it and dwell on it. Whenever you succeed at something or exceed your expectations, reflect on it. Keep a list of the goals you’ve already achieved and read it through frequently. Your confidence will grow with every positive step, however small.

 

 

  • Read and repeat your written goals to yourself every day. Keep your mind on your goals, keep going and be alert to every opportunity.

Think success. When you face a difficult situation, think, ‘I can do it, I’m equal to the task’. Constantly remind yourself that you’re better than you used to think you were.

 

  • Write down affirmations that support your new beliefs. Copy them out frequently. Read them morning and night. Commit them to memory and repeat them silently as often as you wish.

 

  • Learn from others in every possible way. Associate with people who support your goals and share your philosophy. Read self-development books. Listen to motivational audio materials. Attend workshops and lectures given by inspirational people.

 

  • Persist, persists, persist. Don’t let anyone steal your dream or alter your new reality.

 

 

 

Exercise 5.9

 

Think of additional things you can do to build beliefs.

Write them down.

And do them.

 

 

 

A Bioenergetic View of Nutrition

Nutrition is one of the most important topics for maintaining good health, preventing disease and maintaining a positive mental and emotional state. But few conventional doctors are trained beyond the basics in nutrition and most understate its importance. My doctor told me less than a day of his seven years’ at medical school was devoted to the subject!

Conventional Western medicine looks at nutrition largely in terms of its physical and chemical composition. It takes account, for instance, of the metabolism of macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and micro-nutrients like vitamins and trace minerals. But the Science of Bio-energetics takes a broader perspective. It recognises that food and drink has energetic and informational aspects too, and that people must get not only the right biochemical elements from their food, but also vital energy.

Nutrition must be considered not only from a biological and chemical point of view, but also as a provider of energy such as light and information.

Nutrition from a Biological and Chemical Perspective

Conventional medicine considers food in three main groups – proteins, fats and carbohydrates – plus vitamins, essential minerals and so on.

Carbohydrates are made of sugars and starch. But simple sugars provide only ‘empty’ calories. They have high calorific value but do not contain any vitamins or minerals. Starch is made up of more complex sugars and provides the main energy reservoir of grains, roots, bulbs and seeds.

Fats are energy providers; they have twice the biological calorific value of carbohydrates or proteins and store huge amounts of energy. If there is a deficiency of carbohydrates, fats and proteins are converted into energy. Vegetable fats are primarily composed of mono- and poly-saturated fatty acids. Animal fats are primarily made of unsaturated fatty acids and have a more solid form. Fats (fat pads) pads protect organs from injuries and serve as temperature insulation; they facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins; and are flavour carriers for fat-soluble flavours and aromas.

Proteins are made of amino acids. There are essential and non-essential amino acids. The essential ones cannot be synthesised by the body and must be supplied through food. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, proteins cannot be stored in the body and must be provided on a daily basis. Their best-known function is to build up muscles, but they also serve to store certain minerals, maintain the body’s shape, regulate enzymes and hormones, maintain immune defence and transmit nerve impulses.

Vitamins are crucial to body function and support the healing process, but cannot be synthesised by the body. There are fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K ) and water-soluble vitamins (the rest). Fat-soluble vitamins can only be taken up with fat, which means that we can gulp down lots of fat-soluble vitamins but without fat they cannot be absorbed.

Essential minerals include calcium, potassium and magnesium and trace minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, selenium and iron.

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Bioenergetic Nutrition

Subtle energies play a significant role in nutrition. Every cell has innate intelligence so the body knows instinctively what is good for it and what is not. It recognises and welcomes healthy sources of nutrition that meet its needs.

The body also knows what is not healthy and tries to eliminate it, sometimes drastically (i.e. sickness or diarrhoea). Unfortunately many people bombard their digestive systems unhealthy nutrition – sugary drinks, excessive fat, food that has had the goodness processed out of it or is cooked to extinction – until the body is overwhelmed and at the last resort packs up altogether.

Living organisms are sustained by a vital force or ‘life force’ that cannot be explained in terms of traditional physics and chemistry. It (or its lack) is responsible for much that happens in health and disease.

To eat and drink healthily, you must know:

  1. What vital energy comes with what foodstuffs?
  2. Bearing in mind that people are different, what foods are appropriate for you, to provide the vital energy you need? How do you take account of your body type and lifestyle, etc.?

A significant part of your energy comes from food, but food is more than just a source of thermal or chemical energy – because the magnetic, gravitational and light energy of your nutrients are the basis of all of the building and repairing molecules that become your body.

Individual differences

The ancient healers were aware of the need to take account of different body types. For example, the Chinese identified yin (cold) and yang (hot) types. Hot body types need cold food (e.g. vegetables and salads) and cold body types hot food (e.g. meat, onions and spices).

Ayurveda works with three elemental energies or humors: vata (air & space – ‘wind‘), pitta (fire & water – ‘bile‘) and kapha (water & earth – ’phlegm‘). When these three are in balance, the body is healthy; if not, it is diseased. Everyone has a unique combination of vata, pita and kapha. One ingenious way of assuring a balanced diet in Ayurvedic Medicine is to include some of each of the six tastes – salt, sweet, astringent, bitter, pungent and sour – in the diet every day.

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Biophotons in Food

Recent discoveries about the bio-photons that radiate light from the cells of plants and animals reveal a great deal about the health of the body and the food we eat.

In the 1970s, Dr Fritz-Albert Popp showed that living systems depend on light. They exist inside a coherent photon field, and biophotons are responsible for cellular communication and regulating biological functions. He later developed a device to detect biophotons from plant and animal cells which is now being used to determine the quality of food.

Popp also found that healthy people emit light rhythmically and in a balanced way. For example, cancer patients lack these rhythms; multiple sclerosis sufferers exhibit too much light. He concluded that health was a delicate balance between chaos and order. Too much coherence causes the system to collapse. (Consider an army which staggers its steps when marching across a bridge. If all footsteps fell at the same time, the bridge could collapse.)

Some conclusions

Nutrition is crucial in health and healing. It’s also a popular subject in the media – they give out loads of healthy eating messages, many of which are confusing and contradictory.  Healthy eating is big business – large companies promote a variety of eating regimes which achieve mass popularity, only to be discarded when the next fad comes along.

Doctors advocate a ‘balanced diet’ in general, but don’t always give nutrition the attention it deserves, nor grasp the differences between individual patients from a nutritional point of view. Holistic healers have known for centuries that nutrition is important. Dietary therapy is a vital plank of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the Ayurvedic practitioners of India developed a sophisticated approach based on individual body types and the characteristics and tastes of foods.

Mainstream science has a problem with ‘vital energy’ because it can’t be seen, smelt, heard or tasted. Hence it is often ignored. But the best bio-energetic practitioners understand what vital energy comes with which foodstuffs, and how it can be best preserved though the storage and cooking process.

In general, the fresher and more natural the food, the fewer additives and the less processing, transporting, storage and cooking, the higher its bio-energetic value. This is what we should all be aiming for.

©David Lawrence Preston, 15.1.2019

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The Power of Suggestion

Suggestions have a big influence over our lives. Tell anyone something convincingly enough and they’ll accept what you say. Tell them over and over again and sooner or later they’ll start to believe you.

Unfortunately it’s often the suggestions of others that we allow to control us. For instance:

  • Advertisers use them to persuade us to buy their products. Promotional suggestions are often recalled years after they ceased to be used.
  • Politicians use them too with catchy phrases (whether or not they’re true) as we’ve recently seen with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum.
  • Parents use them all the time. Young children tend to believe everything their parents say. E.g. when a young child gets hurt and Mum ‘kisses it better’ it does feel better, even though there’s no logical reason why it should.
  • Placebos – pills and potions with no active ingredients – can cure illnesses for no other reason than the patient believes they can. Placebos were once treated as a bit of a joke – as if the patient were ‘fooled’ into getting well -but now they’re taken very seriously indeed.
  • Suggestions don’t necessarily have to be direct: parents who receive a letter from school about head lice in their child’s class often feel itchy!
  • Nor do suggestions have to be verbal. Non-verbals (gestures, facial expressions and so on) can be even more powerful, and verbal suggestions backed up by visual, taste, tactile or olfactory stimuli can be extremely compelling.
  • Some hospital radio stations do not play certain records because of the effect they could have on patient recovery. For example, ‘My Way’ (‘And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain’), ’ ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’,  ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ and ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ contain some unhelpful suggestions!

You’ve used suggestion many times, and it has also been used on you. You can learn to make good use of this vital tool to:

  • help internalise your goals.
  • replace negative attitudes and beliefs with positive ones.
  • relax and combat stress.
  • cultivate better relationships with yourself and others.
  • change unwanted habits and personality traits.
  • build confidence in yourself and your abilities.

… and for many other purposes.

Suggestion, Affirmations and the Law of Attraction

Affirmations are simply suggestions made to ourselves – statements that represent how we are or how we want our lives to be. They help bring into effect the great Universal Law of Attraction:

Whatever your mind dwells upon, with feeling, you attract into your life.

Think about it – do you know anyone who is always talking about their illnesses and who is always ill? Or anyone who is always running themselves down, and who consequently never achieves very much?

Affirmations are powerful tools that use the power of structured repetition. One of the best known was formulated by Emil Coué in the 1920’s: ‘Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.’ He helped many people to heal themselves using this simple phrase. Try it for yourself!

Properly phrased affirmations make a big impact on your unconscious, but be aware you must observe certain rules, otherwise they may backfire.

The following rules apply to affirmations. They’re even more effective when used in conjunction with deep relaxation (this is called ‘autosuggestion’) – but slightly different rules apply.

Personalise your affirmations

Affirmations which attempt to change other people are totally ineffective. Repeating ‘Jim loves me’ does not work, because only Jim can make this choices. But you can affirm ‘I am attracting a wonderful person into my life who has… (all the qualities you’re looking for)’ You may not win Jim over, but you will find someone to your liking.

A simple way to personalise your affirmations is to use the first person pronoun, ‘I’. For example:

  • I accept, love and approve of myself.
  • Every day, I am becoming more calm, peaceful and relaxed.
  • I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, peaceful and happy.
  • I am a positive person. I think, act and talk positively at all times.

Another way to personalise – and strengthen – your affirmations – is to use the ‘first, second and third person’ technique. Let’s suppose you want to be a calmer and more confident person. Add your first name and affirm:

  • I, Chris, am a calm and confident person.
  • You, Chris, are a calm and confident person.
  • Chris is a calm and confident person.

Use positive words and phrases

It’s important to always use words and phrases that express what you want, not what you don’t want. Otherwise you might inadvertently end up with the opposite of what you intended.

The unconscious often overlooks a negation if it occurs in the middle of a sentence. If you affirm, ‘I will not fail’, only the word ‘fail’ registers. It’s far better to affirm, ‘I am a success’.

I recently heard a woman telling how she stuck little notices all over her house one morning reminding her not to forget her son’s team’s football kit for the match that afternoon. The notes said, ‘Don’t forget the kit’. Guess what happened!

Make your affirmations credible

This is one of the biggest secrets for using self-suggestion. The purpose of self-suggestion is to impress your unconscious with empowering beliefs which reflect the way you want to be. This is why some writers recommend stating all your affirmations in the present tense, i.e. beginning your affirmations with ‘I am’, ‘I can’, ‘I have’, ‘I do’ etc.

The problem, though, is that an affirmation which totally contradicts your current belief system alerts a mechanism in the brain known as the Reticular Activating System (or ‘Critical Censor’). It can assert itself in many ways, such as an uncomfortable feeling in the chest or solar plexus or a quiet but persistent voice in your head saying, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ This is your old programming and conditioning trying to reassert itself.

How do you get round this?

Firstly, consider affirmations as a tool for change rather than statements of absolute truth. Think of them as planting seeds. You won’t see the results immediately, but have faith in the technique, and you will.

Another way is to choose your wording carefully so the suggestion will bypass the Critical Censor. This is how:

  • Put all weaknesses and limitations in the past tense.
  • Affirm your willingness to change.
  • Affirm that you are making good progress towards your goal, and this continue.
  • Affirm your determination to do whatever you can to improve.

A useful form of wording is:

‘I used to be… but all that is changing. Now I am becoming more and more… ‘

For example, if you’re shy, affirm: ‘I used to be shy, but all that is changing. I am becoming more assertive every day. I know I can and I will continue to improve.’

More examples:

  • I used to believe that I was weak, but all that is changing, and I am now becoming stronger and stronger each day.
  • I used to be negative, but that attitude is now behind me. Nowadays I think, talk and act positively at all times.
  • I used to be judgemental, but that is now changing. Every day, I am becoming more open and accepting of myself and others.

Say your self-suggestions as if you really mean them

The Law of Attraction is widely misunderstood. Just wishing or hoping – even believing – are not enough. You must invest some energy into the conditions you wish to create. In other words, you must do something.

As a first step, invest some emotional energy into the affirmations themselves. Say them out loud, enthusiastically. Mean what you say. A thought alone has little power, but when expressed with genuine feeling, it has real impact. Emphasise your words with passion, a strong tone of voice, movement and firm intent.

For maximum impact, also:

  • Write them out every day – this reinforces them in your unconscious.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror as you speak them.
  • Jot them down in your diary, list them on cards, programme them into your mobile phone, carry them with you and read throughout the day.
  • Record them onto a recording device and listen frequently.
  • Write them on sticky labels and place them anywhere you routinely look.
  • If your goal is something tangible, carry a reminder of it with you and affirm that it is yours every time you look at it.
  • You can increase the effectiveness of your affirmations by adding, ‘This, or something better, I accept for myself, for my greatest good and the greatest good of all’.

Keep at it

The unconscious loves repetition. The more you use self-suggestion, the more effective it is.

It takes about a month to change an old thinking pattern, so don’t give up. Affirm whenever you can, wherever you are, especially during those times when the mind is naturally most receptive. Last thing at night is a good time – give it something uplifting to work on while you are asleep. Another good time is first thing in the morning. If you can find a few moments during the day to relax and unwind – terrific!

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 23.11.2018

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How To Books, 2004

F.M.Alexander – the orator with no voice

Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian actor who had made a good living from poetry recitals in the 1890s until he encountered a career-threatening problem: he developed breathing problems and chronic laryngitis, and lost his voice! He went from doctor to doctor, but none could find any physical cause nor any cure.

Since no-one seemed able to help him, he resolved to help himself. He studied anatomy books and surrounded himself with mirrors, carefully observing himself. He discovered that the way he had been been trained to carry his body and project his voice was the very cause of the problem. He was tensing his body as he prepared to speak, dropping his head backwards and pressing his neck into the spine. This constricted the air passages and inhibited his voice box. He noticed that others with voice and breathing problems often did the same.

Alexander was a man with little regard for others’ opinions unless supported by scientific evidence and proven by results. So he experimented on himself. He discovered that eliminating muscle tension in the neck prevents the head from compressing the spine, so the spine is free to lengthen. This frees the windpipe and allows the voice to function properly. Within weeks of starting to apply this to himself, the problems were gone and he was able to resume his profession.

Others began to seek his help, so he applied what he learned and developed a hands-on healing method that allowed all the body’s natural processes to work, thus stimulating its capacity for self-healing.

As his research progressed, he made further discoveries. He noticed that he mind could play tricks on him so he developed methods to increase mindfulness. In essence, the Alexander Technique, as it became known, focuses on attention, thoughts, posture and movement. It centres on:

  • Self-awareness: identifying harmful habits that restrict breathing or result in poor posture.
  • Inhibition: pausing for a moment before acting to interrupt and prevent destructive patterns.
  • Choice: knowing that we have the freedom to choose new responses (i.e. not to follow habitual, conditioned reactions).
  • Primary control (neck, head, spine): positioning the head, neck and spine so that the head is up and slightly forward, allowing the spine to lengthen, releasing tension from the neck and throat.
  • Directions: Oral suggestions, self-administered, which send conscious instructions to parts of the body which he had struggled to control before.
  • Using gravity as a healer; positioning and balancing the body so that gravity can do its work. One example is the semi-supine position: lying on your back with your knees in the air, head resting on several books, arms relaxed at the side. This releases muscle tension and brings the body back into alignment.
  • The whispered ‘ah’: To remove unnecessary effort from using the voice.

Alexander practitioners are known as teachers (not therapists). They explain and demonstrate the technique, and use hands-on methods to bring about change in their clients.

Alexander is best known for his work on movement and posture but he also believed that the mind and body were as one. When we take good care of the body, we fell better mentally, emotionally – and spiritually – too. Many physical problems are caused by our behaviour; people behave according to their way of thinking, so to cure some physical problems means changing our thinking. This is a conscious process which takes effort and determination.

The benefits of the Alexander Technique have been well documented especially for chronic back pain, but in the eyes of the medical establishment he remains a quack. Surgery, they say, backed by drugs, is quicker, cheaper and more permanent, and more in tune with our modern lifestyles. But at what cost? Those of us who believe in natural healing methods must not remain silent!

©David Lawrence Preston, 1.11.2018

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Encouraging News on Placebos

In one of the most encouraging articles I’ve read for a long time[1], 97% of a sample of 783 UK family doctors reported in a study carried out by the Universities of Oxford and Southampton that they had given a placebo to at least one of their patients. Some said they do so on a regular basis. Half had told their patients that the remedies had helped other patients, without specifically telling them they were prescribing a placebo.

This is a huge step forward towards general recognition of the role of the mind in health, ill-health and healing, and acceptance of the potential of informational remedies. Apparently even the UK Royal College of General Practitioners now acknowledges that there is a place for placebos in medicine.

A co-author of the study, Dr Jeremy Howick, was quoted as saying, ‘This is not about doctors deceiving patients,’ (which is how Big Pharma has often characterised the use of placebos) but that ‘doctors clearly believe that placebos can help patients’.

Evenso, the BBC report still refers to ‘sham’ treatments’ and ‘unproven treatments’ as if the author, Michelle Roberts, is still not really convinced.  She writes that three quarters of doctors claimed to offer ‘unproven treatments’ such as complementary therapies on a daily or weekly basis, and even refers to ‘fake’ acupuncture (which has been used successfully for over five thousand years)  in such terms. She misses the point – in most cases it is not the medicine that brings about healing, but the patient’s own healing abilities restoring equilibrium and removing the resistance to full health.

Research shows that placebos are most effective a relieving subjective conditions such as pain, and their effect is based on cultivating the patient’s expectations of a cure. Hence the size, colour and packaging of placebos all play a role, as does the presentation and manner of the practitioner who prescribes them.

There are still those who consider the use of placebos as ‘fooling’ patients by giving them ‘useless’ pills and potions, even if they help bring about a cure. Some consider them dangerous because they deny the patient ‘effective’ treatment (by which they mean bio-chemical intervention), and others that they damage to doctor-patient relationship. Others claim that some ‘placebo’ treatments, such as prescribing vitamin supplements, are not inert, in that taking too much of some vitamins is harmful.

Then there are those who dismiss phenomena such as ‘spontaneous remission’ as pure chance and unworthy of investigation when in fact they could throw invaluable light on the healing process.

But in the longer term there is much more at stake here than whether placebos are unethical or ineffective, or whether this person or that person gets better and stays well. Our view of mind-body and informational medicine is related to our understanding of what human beings actually are and how we function. This is the greater prize.

©David Lawrence Preston, 18.10.2018

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[1] BBC website 21st March 2013, also widely reported on radio and TV.

Healing power is in the mind of the patient – the work of Dr P.P. Quimby

I’ve been to many healers in my time, and it seems to me that the techniques they employ say a great deal about the practitioner’s beliefs about what constitutes a human being. This – explicitly or implicitly – is what guides their healing methods. If you think a human body is simply a physical, mechanical thing, as many doctors used to do, you treat it accordingly. If you see it as intelligent, responsive, self-regulating, then your approach is entirely different.

Dr Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a real groundbreaker of healing, was in no doubt. He saw humans as mind, body and spirit, and showed that our healing power comes primarily from within. Nowadays, few people have heard of him and yet his influence is reflected in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and well known writers such as Louise Hay, Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr Bernie Segal, Byron Katie, and many others.

Quimby

Quimby was born on February 16, 1802. A clock-maker by trade, he lived most of his life in Belfast, Maine. New England. Although others called him ‘Doctor’ he had little formal education and no medical training, but he had a practical, enquiring mind and unparalleled determination.

As a young man, he contracted tuberculosis. Doctors couldn’t help, so he decided to help himself. Someone suggested horse-riding as the fresh air would do him good, but he was too weak to ride, so he borrowed a horse and cart. One day the horse refused to pull the cart up a hill, so Quimby got down and walked with the horse. When they got to the top, it suddenly started trotting. As Quimby couldn’t get back on the cart he ran down the hill with the horse, which, strictly speaking, he shouldn’t have been able to due to his illness.

Back home, he realised he was breathing freely. The pain had gone (it never returned) – he had experienced a spontaneous healing. In that moment he dedicated himself to understanding what brought this about. He reasoned that there must be something within that can make us well, of which we’re not normally aware.

First he studied the work of the hypnotist Anton Mesmer, who had quite a reputation in Europe. By 1840, Quimby was an expert hypnotist. He worked with a young man called Lucius who, under hypnosis, could apparently diagnose patients’ illnesses and suggest a cure. Later, Quimby realized that Lucius was tuning in to what the patient believed he had, not what he actually had.  So after his early experiments, he gave up hypnotism and instead focussed on curing disease through the mind, getting his patients to see causes for themselves.His approach was evidence-based and rigorously scientific. He trusted no opinions, only knowledge.

He studied the healing methods described in the New Testament. Quimby did not regard the gospel healings as miracles, but as scientific applications of truth as represented by Universal Law.

Ironically he was vehemently anti-religion. He believed that the Church had irresponsibly abandoned any interest in healing and that his purpose was to resurrect it. He studied the New Testament because he wanted to understand and correct the negative thinking of his patients – especially those who believed that ill health was a punishment for some unpardonable sin.

His healing methods were highly unusual. He sat with his patients until he had a mental impression of the problem and its cause. Often he felt every symptom of the disease in his own body. Then he silently challenged the cause in his own mind, addressing his comments to the spirit within which, he argued, could never be sick. Sometimes barely a word was spoken as Quimby’s thoughts somehow impacted on the patient.

He described the cause of disease in his own words:

‘The trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in. if your mind has been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth I come in contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness.

‘This I do partly mentally and partly by talking till I correct the wrong impressions and establish the truth, and the truth is the cure. . . . A sick man is like a criminal cast into prison for disobeying some law that man has set up. I plead his case, and if I get the verdict, the criminal is set at liberty. If I fail, I lose the case. His own judgment is his judge, his feelings are his evidence. If my explanation is satisfactory to the judge, you will give me the verdict. This ends the trial, and the patient is released.’

His son George (who acted as his secretary) described his father’s method of cure as follows (I paraphrase slightly):

‘A patient comes to see Dr Quimby. He renders himself absent to everything but the impression of the person’s feelings. These are quickly imprinted on him. This mental picture contains the disease as it appears to the patient. Being confident that it is the shadow of a false idea, he is not afraid of it. Then his feelings in regard to health and strength are imprinted on the receptive plate of the patient. The patient sees the disease in a new light, gains confidence. This change is imprinted on the doctor again and he sees the change and continues. The shadow grows dim and finally disappears, the light takes its place, and there is nothing left of the disease.’

Quimby knew that one mind can influence another, and believed that most disease is due to false reasoning. To remove disease permanently, it is necessary to know the error in thinking which caused it. ‘The explanation,’ he said, ‘is the cure’.  Half a century before Freud, he explained that many of the harmful beliefs are located in the unconscious mind and must be brought into consciousness before they can be dealt with.

Quimby healed thousands of people of a wide range of illnesses, most of whom had not responded to conventional treatment. In the end, it was his very success that killed him. He died of over-work and self-neglect on January 16, 1866, having seen over 10,000 patients in his last seven years.

PPQ

Quimby left behind detailed journals, and some of his clients devoted their lives to spreading awareness of his methods. Rev Warren Felt Evans wrote the definitive contemporary account in his book, ‘The Mental Cure’ (1869), but it was not until 1989 that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings were published, edited by Dr Ervin Seale, who devoted most of his working life to the task.

Nowadays we have scientific proof that our thoughts and emotions affect our physical health. Placebos illustrate the effectiveness of suggestion as a powerful healer and CBT and NLP have proved their worth in many situations. Perhaps it is also time for Quimby to receive his due credit. If his ideas and methods were investigated anew, who knows how many people could benefit?

© Feeling Good All The Time, 8.10.2018

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Taking Charge of Your Life

Before we can take charge of our lives, we must acknowledge some basic truths:

Everything we are is the result of ‘causes’ laid down in the past; what we will become will result from what we are now and from ‘causes’ still to be laid down. This is the universal Law of Cause and Effect.

These ‘causes’ are primarily our own thoughts, imaginings, words and actions. If we ‘sow’ the right ‘seeds’ from now on, we change, and consequently our life circumstances change too, irrespective of what has gone before.

We are in charge of what we think, believe, imagine, feel, say and do. Once we acknowledge this, we know we always have choices, and we can use this power once we know how to use certain life transforming tools and techniques.

  •  It’s not what happens out there in the world that shapes our lives, but what happens in here between our ears! This is not what most of us were taught as children, but it’s true. We cannot alter our genetic make up, nor can we go back and change out early programming and conditioning. But for most of us of sound mind, our thinking is within our control.

We can choose what we think about.
We can choose where we allow our imagination to go.
We can choose what we think, say and do in response to what happens around us.

In other words, we can consciously lay down the ‘causes’ that create our future lives and then watch and enjoy the results unfold. Indeed, we are doing it all the time whether we are aware of it or not. So learn to become aware of what you think, say and do in every moment and how it impacts on your circumstances.

Since your thoughts are the prime causes, take responsibility for your thoughts, and you literally take charge of your life.

Once you know this, the door to the best possible future is wide open. Only an idiot believes that thinking, feeling and doing what you’ve always done will bring different results!

That’s why Dr Napolean Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, the most influential book on happiness and success ever written, said:

‘The vast majority of people are born, grow up, struggle, and go through life in misery and failure, not recognising that it would be just as easy to switch over and get out of life exactly what they want, not recognising that the mind attracts the thing it dwells upon.’

From the time you reach adulthood, nobody else can make your life happen for you. Blaming circumstances (however unfortunate) and other people (however unpleasant) won’t change anything; in fact, it makes things worse – you become a victim.

See whatever happens in your life as the world’s response to your state of mind

Here’s an illuminating exercise. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Relax your body and let go of all tension. In this relaxed state, reflect on the events and circumstances of your life. Don’t judge. Don’t blame. Just reflect on how your thoughts, beliefs, imaginings and actions have created your life and how past decisions have affected you.

As I said,you’ll find this very illuminating!

Copyright David Lawrence Preston 22.9.2018

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The Law of Cause and Effect

The Law of Cause and Effect (sometimes known as Karma) is fundamental to the universe. It is probably most closely associated with the physical sciences, for example, when a snooker cue strikes a ball, the ball moves, and when one ball hits another, the impact made by the first causes the second to move. Their speed and direction can be predicted accurately by applying precise scientific measurements and principles.

In the world of human behaviour, causes and effects are not so easily measured and may not be predictable, but are no less real. With very few exceptions (e.g. purely reflex reactions), every action you ever took and every word you ever spoke began as a thought. Your present has been shaped by your actions, which were governed by your past thoughts and emotions; and your future will be shaped by the actions you take from now on, which will be shaped by your future thoughts and emotions.

The Law of Cause and Effect describes the relationship between what we think, feel and do and what we get out of life. It states that everything we are and everything we have has been shaped by ‘causes’ laid down in the past.

Every action has a cause.

Every cause produces an effect.

Thoughts are prime causes.

Speech, emotions and actions (and their results) are their effects.

Therefore constructive thoughts lead to positive emotions and constructive actions.

Negative thoughts lead to damaging emotions and destructive actions.

Therefore we constantly contribute to our circumstances – both present and future – by the way we think. And when we decide to change our way of thinking – including our beliefs, attitudes and prejudices – and sow different ‘seeds’, we change; and when we change, our circumstances change too, irrespective of what has gone before. The world responds to what we think, believe, imagine, feel, say and do.

Some consider this a frightening prospect, because it means taking responsibility for ourselves, but it’s actually one of the most hopeful things about being alive – the fact that we can turn our lives around by choosing to think differently. Only you decide what to think – if you don’t choose your thoughts, who does?

Some would say there’s little we can do, because our futures are laid out in our genes or by fate – but our genes only account for about a small part of our psychological make up. Others argue that we are merely the product of our programming and conditioning and we can do nothing to change this – but these are learned, and anything that has been learned can be reappraised, un-learned and re-learned.

The only question is – how?

It’s not as hard as you may think!

©David Lawrence Preston 28.2.2016

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Anger – hot coals and cool thoughts

‘Holding anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’

 The Buddha

 

Anger has had a bad press. It’s generally thought to be a bad thing and, sure, it can be harmful when unjustified and badly handled. It raises our stress levels, and if it continues causes no end of physical and mental health problems..

However there’s another side to it:

Properly controlled and directed anger can be constructive if it generates creative energy

Anger is a normal, healthy emotion when managed well. Anger has driven countless individuals to struggle against slavery, poverty, apartheid and other injustices. A disgusted ‘I’ve had enough!’ can turn your life around if it spurs you to action.

Anger can also motivate others, for instance, the sports coach who gets the best out of his team because they are scared of his reaction if they play badly.

If you never responded with justified anger, you could storing up trouble. If you don’t let people know when you are upset with their behaviour, they’re likely to go on doing it. Then the feelings grow, gnawing away at your self respect.

But going to the other extreme is just as bad. If you are continually angry or every trivial event triggers angry feelings, there’s little chance of you being taken seriously and every chance you’ll make yourself ill. This is what the Buddha meant when he said, ‘You will not be punished for your anger, but by your anger.’ In other words, you are the one who has to live with it.

The trick is to know when and how to be angry. You always have the choice to respond with anger or not; no-one can force you to be angry unless you want to. This is not what most of us have been taught to believe – but it’s true.

What causes anger?

Anger has one source only: some expectation is not being met. Something in the environment is not to your liking.

Volcano

There are two sorts of anger:

  1. One is the quick outburst, which may be intense but is soon over and swiftly forgotten. This is usually harmless, and is an effective way of releasing pent-up emotions. Just make sure you get your feelings across without breaking anything, injuring another person or (if it’s important to you) damage your long-term relationship.
  1. The other is the slow burning type, which is not so easy to get over. The pressure builds up until one day it erupts, triggered by some trivial incident which isn’t itself the reason for the blow up – the real cause is the suppressed emotion. Try not to let this happen: it’s always better to express your feelings immediately, not wait until resentment has hardened.

How about you? How do you deal with anger. Do you try not to show it? Or let fly? Do you believe it’s better to express your anger or keep quiet? How did your family deal with anger when you were a child? Is there something in your background that makes you react the way you do?

Seven tips for coping with anger

I’ve gone through angry phases in my life and had to learn to deal with it. Here are seven steps that I’ve found helpful:

Take a deep breath and count to ten

If you feel anger coming on, before lashing out, stop, take a deep breath, count to ten and exhale slowly. It really does work.

Interrogate yourself

Ask yourself:

  • Is my anger justified?
  • Have I got my facts straight?
  • Did the other person mean any harm?
  • Am I reacting like this because I’m over-tired, stressed or just fed up?
  • Am I taking it out on an innocent person?
  • Am I likely to do something I’ll later regret?
  • Will it get the outcomes I want?

Examine your motives

Behind a great deal of anger is an attempt to make someone feel guilty, or manipulate them into doing what you want. Ask yourself if you are being reasonable. Would it be OK for others to demand that you always comply with their expectations? So why should you they fall in line with yours? Isn’t it better to become more tolerant and accepting?

Become more assertive

Find a way to release your anger by becoming more assertive. Say how you feel appropriately and immediately, not some time later when memories have faded and resentment has built up. If you feel things are getting too heated, walk away. Go for a stroll to cool down.

Mentally rehearse

If you anticipate an angry confrontation, think it through and mentally rehearse. Decide what you want to achieve and write down the points you want to make.

Don’t stew

Once you’ve had your say, forget it. Don’t stew over what you could have said. There’s no point.

Own your anger – and let others own theirs

Finally, if someone is angry with you, remember, it’s not your anger – it’s theirs, and you don’t have to match it if you don’t want to.

©David Lawrence Preston 19.9.2018

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