Tag Archives: Wellness

12Jun/18
Having fun and practicing the art of joy balancing by the sea

The art of joy

the art of joy balancing by the sea

Our approach to life flavours the moment. As time unfolds, my experience rolls out as a unified sense of my body, my thoughts and my dialogue within an environment that I am shaping, all likely through prediction. So where does this approach, or set of rules come from? What is the effect? And how can I use my approach to be successful and live the life that I want? How can I choose to practice the art of joy?

Simply put, my beliefs and convictions about myself and life are sculpted from an early age by parents, care-givers, teachers, friends and society to name a few. Of course this is on-going as we update our beliefs with new knowledge and experience. What I practice then, are conditioned patterns that I don’t really think about as I am living the experience of those patterns as they come to fruition.

You may feel hence that there’s little control over these patterns. I would argue not. Instead, on realising which beliefs are limiting and which empower, I can practice and fortify the latter having disrupted the former. Overcoming chronic pain is all about this, whilst focusing upon what you want in life.

Many people continue to use the same patterns over and over. That’s when life feels the same everyday. Groundhog Day. But, on discovering that you have a potent skill that can transform your life, you realise that this does not need to be the way. What is that skill? You maybe surprised to learn about this amazing resource that you already have!

What is it that affects the quality of your life? It is the decisions you make, moment to moment through the day, every day. Not the big ones, the little ones. Here’s a question. What decision could you make right now to change your life? Pause for a couple of minutes and think about this before reading on.

Pause……..

Here’s an example: I decide to commit to a programme of daily exercise and movement to build my body’s strength, resilience and mobility. Would that change your life? Of course! This decision of commitment you then follow by taking action and gathering momentum by deciding each day when and how you will exercise, together with how you will integrate movements into your day to nourish your body at regular intervals.

Decision-making is one of our greatest powers. When you decide that you want to transform your suffering into a life of joy, everything changes. How? You may well ask! I’m in pain all the time, I have hardly any money, I have no work and all the other reasons why we can suffer. The problem lies in the fact that when we focus on these thoughts and the dialogue is littered with words that magnify the suffering states (pain, anxiety, worry, anger, frustration), then we use all our energy on the very things we don’t want. On deciding to focus on what we do want, we can start taking the steps to get results.

I want to be able to walk to the shop. I want to play with the kids. I want to play the piano. I want to play football. I want to bend over and put on my shoes. I want to feel joy. I want to go back to work. When we make it clear, carving out a vision of success, we have a direction.

This is what we can decide to do before creating a plan that we follow each day, taking steps in that direction. Of course we will have moments of suffering when there is pain, anxiety or things go wrong, but the more we can build resilience and choose an approach that is driven by the notion of life happening FOR me, rather than to me, we take the ups and downs as opportunities to learn, persevere and grow. One of our needs in life is growth without which we stagnant. And that’s not a good place! So, I can decide that I am going to drive growth in my approach. You can decide that right now. But where are you going?

What is your picture of success? Write it down in the following space:

** Remember that this is what you want, so use positive language and feel it whilst you are writing; make it real.

My picture of success is:

 

 

 

Another human need is giving. In particular the giving of ourselves and time to those we care about, which has such a huge effect upon both the self and the receivers. Generosity has also been named as one of the skills of being well by Richard Davidson, the neuroscientist who has been studying wellness.

The art of joy, which is the title of this brief blog, most certainly incorporates giving and generosity from which flows joy amongst other great states. How does the world look when you are feeling joy? How does your body feel when you experience joy? What decisions do you make when you are in a state of joy? Who creates the state of joy? You! We can decide that whatever each day presents to us, we will face it with joy together with compassion (including self-compassion), love and other potent states.

Suffering states inevitably arise. That is normal in life. Yet how we approach life determines what it is like and how long we stay in that state. Deciding to use an approach whereby we recognise the triggers of a suffering state and then change gear using breathing, gratitude, or movement. There are many ways to change state, but these are common ones I teach people who come for coaching and treatment to overcome chronic pain or achieve peak performance.

The art of joy then, is about what you put into life. As a general rule, what we put out there with purpose and intent comes back. A simple example: when you predominantly smile at people, how do you feel? How do they respond? What is life like? When you put a scowl into the world, what comes back? The art of joy and joyful living is all about your approach, which in turn emerges from your beliefs or set of rules. This is why important work involves identifying your beliefs, both the ones that cause us to suffer and the ones that enable us to thrive.

Depending upon your start point, this can of course be a challenge. If your health is compromised, if you are out of work, if you have lost someone close or perhaps just not reached your potential, it can seem impossible to be grateful for the world, nature, your breath, your eyesight or whatever. However, it is possible and with a picture of what you want to achieve, with steps to take, practices and tools to use, you can decide right away that you want something different now. You have suffered enough and its time for change.

I am very privileged in that each day I get to work with people who want to transform their lives and fill it with joy, love and compassion instead of suffering. As I’ve said, of course we will suffer for a range of reasons, but we just don’t want to stay in that state too long. We want to be able change gears as quickly as possible because shifting into a high energy or joyful state means that our decisions are made with clarity, purpose and in line with our picture of success. It becomes clear what we CAN do.

The Pain Coach Programme is designed to give people the (working) knowledge, skills, tools and treatment to overcome their pain and suffering by living life. Results driven, the programme is all about gaining momentum behind progress and growth from pain to purpose to performance. This is a solution for people who want to make changes, who want to live well and perform their best in life whether it be overcoming pain, achieving success in exams or work or on the sports field by using your resources and strengths.

Call us now to book your first session: 07518 445493 ~ Jo will make all the arrangements for you

28Jan/18
Motion in e-motion

motion in e-motion

Motion in e-motion

motion(less) https://flic.kr/p/o4jG5d | C Frenzl

There’s no mistaking the word motion in e-motion. The two are inextricably bound. The way that you feel, your emotional state, is governed by what you are focusing on in this moment. And what you are focusing on is an affordance, or opportunity within the context–the opportunity to act or think in a particular way.

What you are focusing on appears to pop in to one’s awareness. Sometimes it drifts off, and sometimes we toy with it, so it seems to stick around. If it is a thought about something pleasurable, you embody a sense of joy, excitement and a desire to repeat the behaviour. If it is a thought about something unpleasant or scary, you embody other emotions such as fear or anger. All are based upon what you are focusing on and the interpretation of that focus, or the meaning to you.

Your state is governed by what you focus upon

Nothing is anything until you give it a meaning, and that really comes from our conditioning over many years–beliefs that you have gathered through life and what you have been told. Were they right though?

Our state is characterised in one sense by how it is embodied. How do I experience that state in my physical body? Noting a particular feeling or sensation in the body brings us to the conclusion that we are feeling a particular way. Contemporary neuroscience research is revealing fascinating relationships between our internal body sense (interoception) and our perception, cognition and decision making ability. Fundamentally, we all know that the ‘mood’ we are in affects the way we operate in the world: what do I notice? How do I move? What choices do I make? etc.

We can easily notice how someone is moving and posturing to gain an insight into how they feel. Add facial expression and language, and we have a fuller picture, yet the quality of motion is usually enough if you are observant. Likewise, we have a sense of our body as part of an overall assessment of ‘how I am’. Once we have established our state, we can decide whether this is one that affords us healthy opportunities or not. Do I need to change state?

motion in e-motion

It does not take long to change state of course. We do it all the time. One of the simplest ways to change state is to use motion–move around! Shifting our posture and facial expression result in feeling better together with actions that benefit others as we focus outwards instead on inwards. The challenge in the modern world is that we are encouraged to suit ourselves at the expense of others.

Motion is in e-motion, yet this is a two way street. We may use movement to feel better or build wellness, but we also move better when we feel well and in a positive state.

Here’s a fun game to play, especially if like me you are a commuter: look at your fellow travellers and see if you can work out what kind of state they are in right now. It maybe best to avoid asking them! As a bonus, you may also like to try the smiling game. See how many people smile back when you smile at them. Whilst you are smiling, use this as an embodied wishing them well, even saying to yourself ‘I wish you well with this smile’, just to generate the authentic smile that you can when it fronts the feeling. There you go, another example of motion (smiling) in e-motion.

These are some of the simple skills I teach and coach people in pain to learn to change state. I also teach clinicians who come on the Pain Coach Workshops how to build their own wellness and self-compassion with practical tools that get results in them and their patients. It is a matter of replacing old conditioned ways of being with new and better ones!

RS


Pain Coach Programme

Pain Coach Workshops

Pain Coach 1:1 Mentoring 

29Nov/17

Getting the best of Christmas ~ top tips if you’re suffering pain

Top tips to enjoy Christmas

Christmas top tips to thrive rather than survive!

Getting the best of Christmas ~ here are some top tips if you’re suffering pain so that you can maximise your enjoyment and create some great memories!

“get the best of you

Christmas is not an easy time for everyone. There are numerous challenges that include preparing a lunch, buying and wrapping gifts and seeing relatives. Add a layer of persistent pain, and these and other challenges are somewhat amplified. Having a plan helps you to organise your part in the festive season, allowing you to enjoy the time in the best possible way.

How are you framing the Christmas period?

The inner dialogue or script we are running has an enormous impact on how we have that very experience. If I keep telling myself that it will be tough, or tiring, or painful, then it usually is and more so. In essence we are feeding the prediction plus our choice of behaviour will enact those thoughts. So, write a positive script that is rich with all that you want. This does not necessarily mean that it turns out exactly this way, but it will be much better than if we anticipate the worst. What we focus upon we get more of!

My Christmas will be ______________. Fill in the blank and keep focusing on this picture and how you can go about doing your best to achieve it. This is the basic model of success used by anyone who has achieved results, including you! Clarify the picture of what you want and then decide upon the principles to follow to do your best to get there.

Make a plan

For each day of the festive period make a plan. You will need to prioritise your activities and create space for ‘refresh and renew’ time. To prioritise you can make a list of all the things you want to do. Then categorise them A-C (A the most important), before numbering 1, 2, 3, 4 etc (1 the most important).

Your plan is flexible, meaning that if it does not turn out exactly as you wished, you can accept the changes. It is useful to have a set of principles to follow, which allow for flexibility within the plan. Here are some examples;

  1. Knowing that wherever you are, you can create calm by using breathing or imagery, either because you are aware of a more intense emotional state or just because you wish to plug in and recharge.
  2. Motion is lotion is a way of nourishing yourself with simple movements that you know are safe, despite how they may feel at the time. Pain and stiffness are both need states that we perceive in order to choose an action that will satisfy the need. This is much like hunger and thirst.
  3. Refresh and renew time is when you deeply relax, engage in something pleasurable, have a conversation, listen to music, look at a scene with awe, practice gratitude.

Write your plan out so that you are much more likely to commit. You may like to share your plan with someone as a further way of cementing your intended actions.

Motion is lotion

Movement is fundamental for our health as it is the way we nourish our body and our brain (the two are not separate–we are whole). Movement is part of the way we are and the way we represent ourselves to the world. Consider how you can recognise a friend from far away by the way that they walk.

Motion is lotion is the consistent practice of moving, little and often through the day. Stiffness is a common bedfellow of pain due to the guarding (overactive) muscles that become tense and tight. The feeling of stiffness is inferred as a way to make us move, much like pain is an inferred (whole person) state to make us protect ourselves and meet the impending need.

Repeated simple movements that are tolerable or feel good will build the evidence that we are actually safe. This momentum creates a new back story that informs the next moment in such a way as to drive easier and easier movements. This is a practice and must be used through the day, every day. As a guide, when sedentary, change position every 15 minutes, and stand up every 30 minutes. Part of your planning (see above) will be how you can integrate movement into your day.

Be aware of what is happening right now

Being ‘in the moment’ is not just a phrase. There is no rehearsal for life; this is it. ‘Life is long if you know how to use it’ is Seneca’s classic title. Using our time wisely maximises the opportunities we have presented to us each day, together with an openness to experience. The beginner’s mind illustrates this well, whereby we maintain a wonder about our perception of the world that unfolds each moment, much like a small child walking into a grotto, experiencing the impact of the lights and aromas of Christmas.

Mindful practice is about being present, aware and open to all experiences without judgement. Noticing emotions, feelings, thoughts and sensations as they come and as they go is at the heart of the practice, however they appear. Quickly we can become familiar with the impermanent nature of things, so no matter what you are feeling right now, it will pass. We can easily integrate mindfulness into our day with a simple ‘formal’ practice of 10-15 minutes together with moment to moment awareness through the day. The latter is achieved by paying attention to a few breaths, which bring you to the present moment rather than dwelling and embodying the past or an anticipated future.

A further practice is to notice positive feelings and emotions through the day as they arise. ‘What we focus on, we get more of’, is a phrase I repeat to clients, as they train themselves to build awareness of all perceptions, in particular those that feel good. The broaden and build effect of noticing positive emotions has been well studied by Barbara Fredrickson, and it only takes a short period of practice for the impact to grow. Good feelings can often be subtle and pass by quickly, whereas negative emotions often hit us hard and linger for long periods. Paying attention to each moment as often as you can, permits the awareness of the positive in its many forms, building your wellness and ability to notice more. There will be plenty of good feelings to notice if you choose to create a positive approach to Christmas, pay attention and address your ever changing needs (see below).

Meeting your needs

We can strongly argue that feelings arising in the body are the conscious emergence of need states. I feel thirsty, I feel hungry, I have an itch, are all common examples. Pain and stiffness are also need states that motivate us to take action to meet the need, perhaps more urgently that some of the others.

When we feel thirst, this is a user-friendly representation of complex biology (sub-personal), which we only need consider as a percept to address by drinking. Pain can be considered in the same light to a degree. The variance comes from the desire to know why we are in pain. Is it something really dangerous? Clinicians must do their best to answer this question for the person.

Much of the suffering comes not from the pain itself, but the way in which the person interprets and thinks about the pain. This is why understanding pain is so important, and why many people feel immediate relief on knowing the answer. If you consider that pain is based upon the perception of threat, understanding pain is a way to reduce this threat together with knowing what can be done.

On feeling thirsty, we drink until the feeling appears to pass. On feeling pain, we must keep using our practices to create the conditions of ‘safety’ until we start to sense an easing, which will come. This may be repetition for a good period of time along with consistent practices we are using to get better overall. We must also address the reasons why, if we know, the state may have arisen. For example, a situation that is perceive as stressful, tiredness, anxiety, different or new movements, or a change of environment to name but a few. Pain is embodied and embedded in the context of your life, hence all factors need attention and new approaches engaged where existing ones fail.

An example to illustrate: I have neck pain sitting at my desk. I must move and stretch to nourish, and keep doing so until there is a sense of relief (this may need to be consistent through the day). I must also address the reasons why it could be painful. For example, I have sat here for a long time repeating the same posture and movement, I am feeling anxious about this piece of work or a forthcoming meeting, my mind is wandering, I am tired. Without considering all influences as well as the actual perception, there is not adequate reason for your body systems that protect you to shift gears. We actively shift gears with new thinking and new actions.

Summary

Here I have outlined some simple practices and approaches that you can decide to adopt for not only the Christmas period, but in a way to overcome your pain. The Pain Coach Programme is a practical approach to living life and building wellness as a buffer to the challenges that arise for each person. We can choose our style of ‘doing life’, and this has a significant impact upon whether we reach our potential or not. The Programme is about getting the best of you, or peak performance in different areas of your life. Each day presents a range of opportunities. Which will you engage with?

Here’s an equation:

(My current physical ability – my tolerance) + my approach = what I achieve

“How can I be the best me, and enjoy the process? 

** Please note that these practices should not replace your existing treatment or therapy programme. You should always check with your healthcare professional if unsure.


To start your Pain Coach Programme, to organise a Pain Coach Workshop or for clinician 1:1 mentoring, contact Jo 07518 445493

04Sep/13

Can diet fight chronic pain? | Guest blog by Kaitlin Colucci, Student Dietitian @kaitlincolucci

Thanks to Kaitlin for writing this guest blog on diet. @kaitlincolucci

As a current student at the University of Nottingham studying a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics, I have an interest in all fields of work to do with nutrition and diet. I aim to lead a healthy lifestyle and promote fitness and nutrition in all forms. I want to be able to inform the public and make them more aware of how diet is tied into every aspect of life. My blog aims to get people to think about how diet can influence men and women in new ways, and in ways that they would have never thought of before.

The internet and popular health magazines nowadays are littered with all sorts of nutritional advice on how some foods or supplements can help with chronic pain – arthritis, headaches, osteoporosis to name a few.

There are many foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, of which many are scientifically proven. Plans like the Mediterranean diet are built on the principles of the anti-inflammatory theory. When you talk about a diet that emphasises foods that are said to have an anti-inflammatory effect, the diets are going to look very similar. Each diet emphasises slightly different things but there is a main focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, little to no processed or refined foods, and an emphasis on omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish oils.

For example, red grapes contain a powerful compound, Resveratrol, which blocks the enzymes that contribute to tissue degeneration. There is evidence that resveratrol is particularly useful in the prevention of osteoporosis, especially in women who do not benefit from hormone replacement therapy. The compound of resveratrol also found in red wine, which is popular in the Mediterranean, is more easily absorbed due to the form it is in.

Olive oil is another popular food used in the Mediterranean diet that due to its high content of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (the good fats) has favourable properties of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to the compound known as olive oil phenols that have been shown to reduce the rate of cell death.

One thing we must be aware of is that the majority of studies linking diet to disease are either too small or not reliable in the information they are receiving from the participants, such as an inaccurate recall of the foods they consumed. But this doesn’t mean anti-inflammatory diets are all bad. However, patients shouldn’t expect a miracle cure.

When it comes to pain caused by arthritis, which much of the ageing population is suffering from, it is evident that a bigger contributor to the worsening of this condition is body weight rather than diet. Physical activity has been shown to be significantly more effective at improving tiredness and pain caused by arthritis than any other diet including omega-3 supplementation, the Mediterranean diet and herbal medicine.

For decades old Chinese remedies and herbal medicines have been said to help with pain throughout the entire body. This is something that interests me more and more as old herbal doctors have sworn by these passed down family traditions, and they seem to work without fail. Proper clinical studies to date that have delved into this topic further have shown that herbs like turmeric work the same way in the body as ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain. Similar effects have also been found in ginger, long known as a digestive aid. In a recent study, ginger was proved to significantly help women with severe menstrual pain and also reduce muscle soreness after exercise. 

Experts warn that diet is meant to enhance, not replace treatments that have been shown to work for eliminating chronic pain. However, following the advice that is out there won’t hurt, and most evidence leads people towards following a healthy and balanced diet, encouraging them to have a healthier lifestyle.