Shall we dance?

I’d like to reshare this blog that I wrote some time ago, because I love this concept and it is still very relevant to my work:

I’ve been having some rather vivid dreams recently and last night was no exception.  Between that, and some half-awake musings in the small hours, I woke this morning with a picture in my head – a new image and understanding of my relationship with my beautiful feline friend Kali, and indeed, to a greater or lesser extent, with all the animals I’ve ever known.

the gorgeous Kali

Obviously our animal friends don’t share a spoken language with us, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less expressive.  Perhaps my work as a sign language interpreter comes into play here.  I am used to having to process meaning from a visual source.  Obviously this is again using a form of human communication, however it is very much dependent on facial expression and body language.

Animals also communicate using these channels, within the physical parameters of their species.  As with Deaf people who cannot learn to speak as hearing people do, due to the lack of auditory feedback, animals also cannot learn to use our vocal language.  It is therefore down to us to learn to communicate in ways that we can share.

This morning it was as if some connection suddenly became clear for me and I saw this interaction in terms of a beautiful ‘dance’ and Kali my wonderful teacher.  She has an amazing range of styles at her pawtips!  Sometimes she instructs me with great flow and elegance, like a ballerina.  At other times, thanks to her Oriental blood (she’s a Cornish Rex, related to Siamese) her style is more passionate, fiery or elemental.  I, on the other hand, often feel like I’m clumping around in hobnail boots!  However with infinite patience, forbearance and grace she repeats the lesson, showing me when to advance and when to withdraw, when to raise my energy and when to hold it in.

This amazing teacher – and all the others I have met along the way – seem to look deep into my soul and challenge me to bring out the best in myself, to go further within, accessing resources I barely knew existed.  What Masters they are!

She teaches me how to hold my space and how to use my energy to be authentic and powerful in myself, without needing to engage in competition with others.  She also shows me how to be in the moment and how to know joy in the simple things in life.

What are your animals saying to you?  What lessons are they seeking to share?  What messages lie behind those eyes?

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10 Amazing (Vegan) anti-inflammatory foods

Recently I seem to have been meeting lots of people who are suffering from inflammation and pain.  I see how this affects their life, often limiting them in the amount, or type, of movement and exercise they can comfortably do.  They also hold themselves differently which can lead to stiffness and further pain as muscles are not being used as they were designed to be used.

As a holistic therapist I see any form of dis-ease as imbalance.  Our diet is an important part of that balance.  Our bodies need to be in an alkaline state in order to function at their best.  In the Western world, however, we often rely on convenience foods and stimulants like coffee and sugary drinks, which actually create an acidic environment within us.  This acidity leads to inflammation and illness.

As someone who has suffered from food intolerances (I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant at the age of 13 and over the course of the following years many other foods were added to that list) I have, for a long time, been fascinated by how our bodies respond to the foods that we eat.  I am passionate about using food as a natural form of ‘medicine’.  There are many everyday foods that have healing properties but without any of the side effects that often accompany prescription drugs.

It has also been discovered recently that depression could be related to inflammation:

New research is revealing that many cases of depression are caused by an allergic reaction to inflammation.  Tim de Chant of NOVA writes: “Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to injuries, infections, or foreign compounds.” … Inflammation is caused by obesity, high sugar diets, high quantities of trans fats, unhealthy diets in general, and other causes

FEELguide- http://www.feelguide.com

I believe that the economy, and other factors, are driving changes in our health services that will mean it benefits us to look more at prevention rather than cure.  In the past we have often relied on the men in white coats, but I think the time is coming for us to take back greater control and decision making on issues regarding our own health.  Each person is unique and so their wellness journey is unique.  Who knows your body and lifestyle better than you do?  Therefore who is in a better position to look after you, than you?

Part of this shift means that we need to look carefully at our food.  I have been concerned for some time about the chemicals in our food, for example: pesticides on our fruits and vegetables, antibiotics in our meat and preservatives in processed food.  Recently I have been learning about ‘clean eating’ — a concept that teaches about the foods that support our bodies, and those that are actually toxic.  As part of this I have been looking into foods that help our bodies to be in a more alkali state, and those which help us to reduce inflammation.

Here is a list of some that you might like to add to your diet, or to eat more of, if you already include them:

  1. Coconut Oil
    This is a real wonder food with many benefits. It:

    • naturally kills multiple viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites
    • aids digestion and liver metabolism,
    • reduces inflammation
    • promotes healthier skin and speeds up the healing of wounds when applied to the area
    • raises levels of the beneficial cholesterol in women and so might be helpful in managing diabetes
    • supports weight loss
    • may have an effect against cancer
  2. Turmeric
    This yellow spice is commonly found in the curry powder you buy in the supermarket. The most active substance in turmeric is known as Turmeric has been used traditionally in India as a disinfectant and treatment for laryngitis, bronchitis, and diabetes.  Its anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be similar to some of the drugs used to treat the condition, but without any of the side effects.

  3. Kelp
    This plant contains fucoidan, acomplex carbohydrate which is found in brown algae and seaweeds. It is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-oxidative effects.  Scientists have recently discovered some promising results in tests on liver and lung cancer.  Flucoidan also promotes collagen synthesis, so is good for the skin and connective tissue.  Also the high fibre content of kelp helps to give a feeling of fullness and to slow absorption of fat thus helping you to loose weight.  However, when possible, it is important to make sure that the kelp you buy has been harvested from an upolluted area of the sea.
  4. Cinnamon
    This common spice has a multitude of uses! As well as being an anti-inflammatory and helping to relieve pain, it can settle stomach upsets, support blood cleansing and fight many of the symptoms of colds and flu.  Definitely worth keeping some of this in your kitchen cupboard!
  5. Green Tea
    This refreshing drink contains flavanoids which are strong natural anti-inflammatory substances that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. It seems that flavanoids inhibit the compounds that cause inflammation and also affect how our immune cells work.  For more information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavonoid#Inflammation 

  6. Papaya
    Christopher Columbus called this the ‘fruit of the angels’! It contains papain, an enzyme which helps to digest protein.  When combined with other nutrients, for example Vitamins C and E, it helps to reduce inflammation and improves digestion.  It can also help to speed up the healing of burns.
  7. Blueberries
    These are one of my favourite fruits and I grow them in my garden. They contain lots of phytonutrients — plant based chemical substances with negligible calorific content but which are essential in supporting good health and disease prevention.  The anti-inflammatory properties of these little berries help to protect us against diseases such as cancer and dementia.
  8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    This is the secret to why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy! Olives are rich in polyhpenol antioxidants which are thought to affect the activity of inflammatory enzymes, thus helping.  These help to protect the heart and blood vessels while the mono-unsaturated fats, when converted by the body, form anti-inflammatory agents which can reduce flare-ups of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
  9. Broccoli
    Another favourite of mine! This green vegetable has many health benefits:
    – it helps to protect against cancer
    – it supports the immune system
    – it contains more calcium than milk and it is also a source of Vitamin K which helps to prevent osteoporosis
    – it helps to regulate blood pressure
    – it helps to prevent colds
  10. Sweet Potato
    ‘Clean’ eating is becoming very popular as people start to realise what goes into producing the food we eat and how this can affect our health. This concept teaches that ‘white’ is actually ‘unclean’ as it usually means that the food is highly processed and many of its health benefits have been lost.  This has lead to looking into the nutrition of other white foods such as the common potato which is often the carbohydrate of choice for many people.  We eat it as chips, mash, crisps, baked potatoes and many more.  Many are now realising that there are other options which contain more nutritional value and are equally versatile.  The sweet potato has been found to be a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, Vitamin B6 and C as well as fibre.  These nutrients work together to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect in the body.

I hope that you have found this post helpful.  I would love to hear your comments!  I would also love to hear of anything you have found that works for you in trying to reduce inflammation and any of the associated dis-eases.

If you would like to know more about the Healthy Living Plan that I offer, please contact me.  This includes a free half-hour session to discuss diet and a range of nutritional supplements and support.  My contact details are:

email:             robyn@equenergy.com

mobile:           07980 669303

website:          www.equenergy.com

 

References:

 

Holistic Fundraser Event in February

On Saturday 10 February this year I will be taking part in this fundraiser event in the Guildhall, Bath.

For further information please go to the event website:

Holistic Horse Welfare Fundraiser

 

To visit the HorseWorld website and learn more about the amazing work they do with rescued and retired horses, click here.

 

Even therapists need to look after their Mental Heath and Wellbeing – part 2 of 2

Last week I shared the start of my journey from feeling overwhelmed and powerless to creating greater balance and wellbeing.  Having explored the inner wisdom behind what I was feeling I started to work on the underlying emotions and beliefs using EFT.

I also picked out some power cards to see what insight and support they might offer.  For me, this was another way of ‘getting out of my head’, in that I wasn’t rationalising or over-analysing things, which I can tend to do.  Instead the cards, and any wisdom they might bring, would draw on my intuition, something that I wanted to reconnect with.  These are the cards that I drew:

The colour cards were:

  • Bronze – strengthening
  • Purple – for developing mental clarity
  • Pink – encouraging me to let love in
  • Ruby – rejuvenation for the body

The White Lion cards were:

  • creativity
  • trust
  • renew

I found the overlap between the 2 sets very interesting.  It seems that my intuition is telling me to relax, trust and allow love in to renew and strengthen me.  This will then support my mental clarity, allowing my creativity to guide me.

Through these exercises I also became more aware of my need to take the time to rest and reconnect so I used some Reiki, energy exercises and visualisation (using the images from the cards above).  Another important thing for me was to spend time outdoors in Nature, enjoying the energy of the sun and the trees and other plants around me.

these were actually taken on the same day, as part of a mindfulness walk during this process

As a result of working through this process, I felt as if a huge dark cloud was lifting and I had more clarity and determination going forward.  Yet again I was amazed that such ‘simple’ steps could help to start turning things around.  I recognise that the steps aren’t always easy though, and for some of my issues I will need to work with another therapist, rather than trying to deal with them on my own.

Also, I need to remember that, while I feel so much better, this is not an overnight fix!  It took time to get to that low point – a series of small, and not-so-small, things building up to a critical point – so it will also take time to work through them; but I’ve made a start, and I know that this journey will be a learning adventure.

I’m also a believer that things happen when we’re ready, and in the right frame of mind, for them.  Having made this small initial shift, I got a supportive phonecall out of the blue and connected with some wonderful new people.  A couple of days previously I was questioning my ability to carry on with some of the threads of my life and now I’m feeling recharged, excited and grateful again.  I know that I am so blessed to do what I do and I’m looking forward to how things will develop from here.  We really never know what’s just around the corner, or what help or support might suddenly appear, ‘as if by magic’.  As long as we can hold on to Hope then there are still endless possibilities.

If your life is not currently making you happy, you can create a path that works for you.  It’s about finding your balance and not pushing too hard.  Allow your feelings and intuition to guide you while also keeping a clear head to best discern the next step.  And if you feel like you could do with some help at any point, then reach out.  It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

As so many wise teachers have said, it is up to us as individuals to consider What we want and Why we want it and to put our energy into these things in order to create the future that we desire, but the How is not for us to worry about.

If you too have been struggling recently, please remember that you are not alone.  There is a lot going on at the moment, and at a fast pace, which is affecting the energy around us.  Please remember to look after your self.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look at what needs are not being met and then explore what you can do to support yourself.  This is not being self-centred and selfish in a negative way, it’s self-care which then allows you to be there for others too.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Connecting with others can in itself be very healing.  And if anything here resonates for you, or you have questions about anything that I’ve shared, then please feel free to get in touch:

            email:              robyn@equenergy.com

           mobile:           07980 669303

           website:           www.equenergy.com

 

(You can read the full text of this article here)

Even therapists need to look after their Mental Heath and Wellbeing – part 1 of 2

This topic has been big in the news this year, with Prince Harry working to help change attitudes towards mental health issues:

Prince Harry helping to reduce stigma around mental illness

Prince Harry to help tackle mental health in the armed forces

 

I decided I would share a personal experience as, yet again, I’ve been reminded how fragile our mental health can be and how we need to make a point of looking after our own wellbeing.  On the down side, it can take seemingly ‘small’ things to set ourselves plummeting to the depths, but the reverse can also be true, as often it can be relatively simple things that result in great positive shifts.  Highly Sensitive individuals, those whose Stress Bucket is already heavily loaded, or those who are feeling fragile due to earlier trauma, can be particularly prone to experiencing a rollercoaster of emotion.

Over the last few months I’ve noticed that people around me, both locally and online, have been experiencing considerable challenges, resulting in increased stresses and strains.

I too have had a few testing times, both personally and professionally, and I succumbed to the negative spiral of too much work and not enough ‘play’, leading me to feeling in a very low, dark place.  I lost sight of the fact that life is about enjoying the journey rather than worrying too much about the destination.

Sometimes though, this can be a necessary part of the healing process.  For me ‘hitting the bottom’ acted as a springboard from which I could push off again.  It forced me to take a look at what was really going on, identify the limiting beliefs I was buying into, to realise that these were not Truth, and that they weren’t serving me, or those around me.

This brought me to a new level of self-awareness.  It wasn’t pretty, and I had to remind myself to exercise self-compassion, but it did give me a framework for addressing the issues.  I no longer felt powerless and instead gave me a good grounding from which to create a plan of positive, supportive action.

Thankfully, as a therapist, I have a range of skills that I can use to work on my wellbeing.  I started by looking at what was going on in my body and realised that there was a range of niggling issues that I’ve been largely ignoring, or avoiding, for some time.  Starting to listen and to explore these was a first step, as they connected me to my inner wisdom.  They were my body’s way of communicating that something wasn’t working – that a need was not being met – and they also brought clues about how to address, and hopefully resolve, the issues.

Journaling, particularly somatic journaling (tuning in to, and writing from, the perspective of the body / body part) is a great tool for this, as are grounding and mindfulness exercises, which help to get you out of your head and into your body, and so to move away from that awful feeling of ‘analysis paralysis’ and overwhelm.

Using the information that this gave me, I started working with EFT (emotional freedom techniques, or ‘tapping’) to further explore my underlying emotions and beliefs.

In next week’s instalment, I’ll share some other steps that I took as part of this process.

 

(You can read the full text of this article here)

Best wishes for the festive season

We’ve just celebrated the Winter Solstice here in the northern hemisphere and I’m excited at the thought that the days are getting longer again and soon it will be the New Year with all the potential of starting a fresh new slate and planning my next steps!

In the meantime I’ll be having some time off to celebrate with family and friends and to rest and reflect over the next week or so.

I’ll still be around and checking in from time to time so if you’d like to get in touch with any questions or to book a session with me, you’re very welcome to drop me a line.

For now I’d just like to send you warm wishes for a wonderful festive season and a very happy and healthy New Year!

 

Dog & Cat Nutrition – part 1

I just shared an article from Dogs Naturally Magazine giving ’10 Simple Rules to Get You Started’ on raw feeding your dog.  This prompted me to repost this article that I wrote a while ago on dog and cat nutrition:

Let’s start by looking at the commercial food market…

The food we feed our pets has changed considerably over the years, as indeed has our own diet.  Years ago, animals were fed on scraps and left-overs from the food that we cooked for ourselves, so essentially they were eating ‘human’ food, however as our lifestyles have become busier and we now eat more ‘convenience food’, so our pets are being given more branded pet food.  But is this a positive step?

Pet foods have become a “multibillion dollar industry” according to Donald R Strombeck, author of “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative” (quoted in an article in The Bark Issue 42: May/Jun 2007).  The Daily Mail, in January 2010, stated that the “pet food industry is valued at £2 billion and growing.”  Products are advertised as being “the best” and “complete” and in fact they say that human food should not be given to animals, but is this the case?  Unfortunately advertising laws around pet foods are less strict than those for human food and no-one really monitors the truth of what is being said.  Also, there is little redress if the claims turn out to be false.

Veterinary students have often had very little teaching on what constitutes a healthy diet for the animals they will be caring for.  Much of the information they actually receive comes from the pet food industry itself and this is then what the vets tell their patients.  Manufacturers sponsor food displays in vet surgeries.  Hill Science Plan sponsored the British Veterinary Association’s Congress in 2009 and signed a partnership with the British Veterinary Dental Association to sponsor animal tooth care.  Royal Canin has partnerships with leading veterinary schools and Universities and they run Pet Health Counsellor Courses.  Many pet websites are affiliated in some way with pet food corporations, in fact the Pet Health Council, described as an independent website, is sponsored by the Petfood Manufacturers Association.  They claim “that processed food is best”, warning: ‘It would not be possible to feed your pet an adequate home-prepared diet” (“Is the pet food you’re serving up killing your 4-legged friend?”, Daily Mail online, 20 January 2010)

Most of the vets who specialise in nutrition are taught using information from the industry and end up working for them.  Also, most research funding comes from pet food producers which is a conflict of interest.  Even organisations such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) are made up of people form the industry.

In part 2 I’ll continue looking at processed pet foods and why these might not actually be as healthy as the advertising claims.

If you are interested in nutrition for your pet and would like to explore this further, contact me for a no-obligation chat where we can discuss your situation and see what simple changes you might be able to make to enhance their wellbeing.  My contact details are:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

You can also read more about my work on my website:

www.equenergy.com/

 

You can read the full text of this article here.