Feeling Your Way from Stress into ‘Flow’ – part 1 of 5

“Only by being in harmony with our inner nature,

 and the Nature all around us, 

can we truly experience wellbeing and flow”

Robyn Harris

It almost seems that ‘busy’ is the new black!  In our culture it appears that this is the way we measure success, or value, but when we put pressure on ourselves to maintain an unnatural level of busy-ness it can lead to overwhelm, burnout and dis-ease.  So what can we do to look after ourselves and keep ourselves healthy, happy and productive?

The first step, I believe, is awareness.  Often we are so focused on just getting through our busy days that we don’t take the time to tune in to how we’re feeling and what’s really going on in our bodies.  We’ve become used to ignoring the little niggles in order to keep going and get through our list of daily tasks.  Unfortunately this will probably only be a temporary solution, because these gentle alerts from your body that something isn’t working could just increase in volume until you have no choice but to listen.  This is when we find ourselves suffering from conditions such as adrenal burnout, fibromyalgia or chronic back pain.  If, however, we could pay attention to the earlier signals, then we could take action before things reach a crisis point.

One way to develop this awareness is to do a regular body scan.  You can do this while standing, sitting or lying down.  Close your eyes and take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Take a few moments to fully tune in to your body.  Feel the parts of you that are in contact with the floor, chair or bed and imagine roots growing from here into the earth, grounding you.

Gently feel your attention sinking down, from your headspace, into your body.  And just check in with how you’re feeling.  What emotions are you experiencing?  They generally fall under one of six broad categories as shown in the centre of this diagram:

Try not to judge the feelings, but just to notice them.  They are not right or wrong, good or bad.  They just are.  They are there to give you information which can then help you to find ways to move closer to how you want to feel.

You might also notice that your emotions can be multi-layered and even, apparently, contradictory, in that it is possible to feel both happy and sad, or angry at someone, and yet at the same time be proud of them.   Emotions can be complex and this can mean that, if we’re not aware of how we’re feeling, we can tend to react to situations rather than taking the time to choose how to respond.  This is why ‘Emotional Intelligence’ is such an important tool in helping us to keep balanced and conscious in our actions.

Now, slowly working down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes notice the physical sensations that you can feel in your body.

Doing this exercise helps you to become more aware of what being stressed feels like for you.  For example you might feel tense, closed, anxious, uptight, overwhelmed, unable to cope, drained, or on edge.  You might also experience pain somewhere in your body.  When you check in regularly and notice these sensations, you can become aware of what makes you feel this way.  If you do this several times throughout the day, you will be able to catch these signs at an early stage so that you can then take steps before the stress builds any further.

Scanning can also help you to identify what being relaxed feels like for you.  For example you might feel open, chilled, happy, content, expansive, empowered, in the zone, or in control.  In contrast to stress, you might also notice a lightness or a lessening of pain.  Again by increasing your awareness you can notice what helps you to feel this way, so that you can then find ways to bring more of this into your life in order to reduce stress.

Next week I’ll look at emotions and what is happening when we feel pushed into overwhelm.

 

(You can read the full article here)

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What is ‘META-Health’ and how can it help me get well? (Part 5)

So, having looked at the process of META-Health, and a personal example from my own life, how can this help you in your healing journey?

My first step in working with a client is to ask for their ‘timeline’.  This is basically a chronological account of all the Significant Emotional Events in their life.  I personally like people to write this covering all the way from birth onwards as it can help me to detect repeating patterns and get a sense of the person, but in any case the timeline should go back to at least 3 years before symptoms appear.  I also need to know the person’s medical diagnosis, if they have one, and a list of any medications they’re taking, or have taken, for the issue.  It is also useful to know if they’ve tried other interventions and how helpful – or not – these were.

Once I know which tissue is affected I can work out which brain relay this relates to.  From this I can tell which stage they are at in the healing process:

It is then possible to work back to find the initial conflict (2).

Writing the timeline in itself can be very healing.  As one client said to me, it was amazing to put her life story down on paper and see it all in one place for the first time.  This was a kind of affirmation for her that she had, in fact, dealt with a lot in her life and that she was actually stronger than she had realised.  It can also be a very cathartic process to put down, in black and white, things that you might have been bottling up inside, or trying to push to the back of your mind.  This process helps you to look at things and to acknowledge them so that you can then start to process them in order to let go and to move on.

I often get the feeling that, in our society, we are encouraged to ‘move on’ before we’re ready.  As I said earlier, trauma is subjective, so other people might not appreciate the impact that an event has had on a person.  They might, with the best of intentions, want to encourage the person to ‘put it all behind them’ or to ‘think positively’ but this is not possible until the person has finished processing what happened.  Or perhaps it’s our own inner voice that is encouraging us to push everything under the carpet and carry on as if nothing has happened.  However, if we don’t listen to our inner needs, they will just start to get louder in order to be heard!

META-Health teaches great self compassion and understanding.  We can truly begin to see that we are doing the best we can with the resources available to us in a given situation.  Also, our bodies don’t make mistakes.  If we’re experiencing symptoms or discomfort, it’s just our body trying to let us know that something isn’t right, but if we listen and make some changes – meet the needs that are currently unmet – then the body will find its way back to balance and wellbeing again.

So, having identified the trauma, or ‘UDIN’, what next?  As part of a consultation I will look at all the layers of a the client’s life: physical, emotional, social and spiritual.  I will also consider their characteristics: do they tend to be primarily a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic person, for example.  Taking these things into consideration I then put together a suggested plan of action, to discuss with the client, to help them create the healthier, happier life they dream of.

This plan can draw on a range of different therapies depending on what is most appropriate for the person in their particular situation.  I personally offer a variety of energy therapies including Reiki / Energy Healing, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT / sometimes referred to as ‘tapping’) along with some nutrition, lifestyle and relaxation techniques and tips.  I am very happy to offer these as part of a client’s action plan and for them to continue to work with me if they choose.

In addition I have a wide network of colleagues offering other complementary holistic therapies that we can draw upon to create a full and rounded wellbeing package.

The steps to be taken and the time required to create a new and healthier life will depend on the person, their condition, the circumstances in which they find themselves and their level of commitment, however it doesn’t need to be ‘hard work’ and the journey is in itself something to enjoy and to learn from.  It is worth remembering that it has taken time for your body to get into dis-ease and it will take time to get back to wellbeing but at each step along the way you will see an improvement.  This process can also result in lasting change and a whole new perspective, helping you to better deal with any issues that you face in the future.

If you’d like to talk with me about anything I’ve mentioned above, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

Alternatively you can see more about what I do on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(This post was taken from my article on META-Health.  You can read the full text here)

What is ‘META-Health’ and how can it help me get well? (Part 4)

Previously I talked about my personal experience of how a trauma created digestive dis-ease in the form of IBS and food intolerances.

Another common feature with fears around survival are that the body retains water.  Its reasoning is that alone it is more difficult to find this life-sustaining resource and so it must hold on to as much as it can until it is reunited with the tribe.  When the body again feels it is safe it can release the water.  At its peak (6) this is often experienced as a migraine, and this is what happened for me.  It can also mean that you pee more than normal as your body pushes out the excess water.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was repeatedly being retriggered as contact with my Dad did not go smoothly and it often pushed me straight back into stress.  This is what is known as a ‘hanging healing’, where the body repeatedly cycles through the process, unable to break out of the pattern and complete the journey through regeneration and normalisation to wellbeing.

This pattern continued for many years for me, even after my Dad’s death, because by then other traumas had added their triggers and, as a consequence, my wellbeing suffered considerably.  In fact this is one of the factors that lead me to explore complementary therapies and ways that I could address the underlying cause of my dis-ease rather than just taking pills, which might help in the short term but never fully got rid of the problem.

Having studied META-Health I now have a greater understanding of what’s going on in my body and what my symptoms are telling me.  If I know which tissue is involved this tells me which brain relay has been triggered and therefore what the deeper issue is that I need to address.  For example, in my story above, I needed to let go of my fears for my survival and know that my needs would be met by those around me until I was an adult and able to fully care and provide for myself.

I now also know that any symptoms I experience will indicate where I am in the process so that I can know how best to work towards my recovery.

Through my energy work practice and creating a diet that is more appropriate for my needs, I have now been able to support my body to become healthier than it’s ever been.

In the next blog I will look at how the META-Health process can be used to help identify the root cause of any disease so that it can be addressed directly in order to clear it and allow the body to return to health and wellbeing.

If you’d like to talk with me about anything I’ve mentioned above, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

Alternatively you can see more about what I do on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(This post was taken from my article on META-Health.  You can read the full text here)

What is ‘META-Health’ and how can it help me get well? (Part 3)

In the last post I talked about the trauma I’d experienced at the announcement of my parents’ plan to get divorced.  This was my UDIN (Unexpected trauma that was Dramatic, Isolating and for which I had No coping strategy – point 2 in the diagram above).

Shortly after the announcement, Mum took us to her parents’ house for the weekend to give my Dad space to pack up and move out.  I remember ‘running’ around on my crutches and being a bit ‘hyper’ because the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, were pumping round my body as I went from the ‘freeze’ state of shock and into the ‘fight or flight’ state of the stress phase (3).

We then returned home and over the next few weeks life settled down into its new routine.  I began to realise that, actually, life was a lot calmer without my Dad around.  Also, contrary to the belief of my primitive brain, I had not been ‘cast out from my tribe’.  Instead I discovered that my Mum and I had a lot in common and were very close whereas my brother – now the only boy in the household and quite a different personality type – was becoming a bit of an outsider.  This realisation was a ‘shift’ for me (4).  (It wasn’t quite a resolution as there were still issues going on that continued to trigger my fears (around contact with my Dad) but it was enough to send me into the second phase (5, 6 & 7) ).

If you’ve been following this series of blogs, you might have already begun to suspect what kind of symptoms I then experienced.  Earlier I talked about my fears being related to survival and so this was a brain stem issue.  This relay relates to various tissues including those responsible for digestion.  I mentioned that ” my whole insides rebelled ” and ” I felt that all the stuffing had been knocked out of me”.  Also the news of my parents’ divorce came as a complete shock and I couldn’t digest it.  All this meant that the organ tissue which held the shock was my intestines and when I went in to regeneration this is where I experienced dis-ease.  I began to suffer from IBS and food intolerances as the tissues started to heal.

During the stress phase these tissues had added extra cells in order to better digest the trauma.  Now that there had been a shift these extra cells were no longer needed and so the body started to break them down and eliminate them, causing my symptoms of pain, nausea, cramping and diarrhoea.

In my next post, I’ll look at what happened next and how I was able to start the journey back to better health and wellbeing.

If you’d like to talk with me about anything I’ve mentioned above, please get in touch:

robyn@equenergy.com

07980 669303

Alternatively you can see more about what I do on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(This post was taken from my article on META-Health.  You can read the full text here)

Deepening your connection – Part 4

Given that horses are such sensitive animals it is also very important for us to take good care of ourselves.  This is true physically, emotionally and mentally as any imbalances could affect the horse and his behaviour in negative ways:

  • If we are physically out of balance then this will affect how we sit on the horse, and our aids will be different on one side compared to the other.

    As soon as a rider gets on a horse it changes the horse’s shape and balance considerably. Horses move differently at liberty compared to having just a saddle on, and very differently again with a rider on board.

  • If we are out of balance emotionally or mentally, even just ‘having a bad day’, the horse will pick up on this and it will affect his mood too.

As humans, we often live in a busy, fast-paced world, and have learnt to turn down our sensitivity.  We must often come across as uncomfortably loud and pushy to our equine friends!

Their way of being is much softer and more subtle, meaning that we might miss their signals because we drown them out with our own noise and busy-ness.

Using our breath and getting present can help to:

  • bring our energies down
  • calm our rushing, busy minds
  • bring ourselves more into focus and alignment
  • open ourselves to the world and communication of the horse.

breath

If we are not used to doing this, it can take a little time to tune in at first – to calm our busy minds and find that inner stillness – but the effort will be worth it!  I recommend taking a look at the work of Jenny Rolfe and James French to help with this.

When we are relaxed and grounded our horses will pick up on this energy and respond to it.  They in turn will feel calmer and happier and consequently will be more able to respond to what we ask for – and our asking will be clearer!

We also benefit in that we become more receptive to them, being quicker to pick up on anything that feels a little ‘off’ and therefore being able to respond in a timely and appropriate way.

This kind of interaction will quickly build a deep rapport and trust between you and your horse and he will really open up to you.  Your relationship will reach a whole new level.

When we begin to listen in this way, our horses will teach us so much!  On one level they mirror what is going on inside us, bringing us face-to-face with our own energy, which we, so often, are not fully conscious of.  (If you would like to explore this further and how it can benefit you and your horse you might like to take a look at Rosie Withey’s work through Horses as Teachers: http://www.horsesasteachers.co.uk/)

The information in this article was taken from my workshops and video series on giving horses a more natural lifestyle and the benefits that this brings, not only to them but to their owners / carers.  To see more, please follow this link:

www.equenergy.com/horse-care-video-series

If you have comments or questions about anything in this article, or if you would like to book a session with me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: 

            email:              robyn@equenergy.com

mobile:           07980 669303

You can also read more about me and my work on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

(Read the full article here)

Giving Healing Some Horse Power – part 1

I’ve been working with a business coach recently which has resulted in me taking a fresh perspective on the work that I do.  It struck me how much my work with horses feeds into, and enhances, my therapy practice with people.  In this series of 6 posts I’d like to explore what I’ve learnt and how this has influenced my work.

dave-4

Connection

I believe that this is key in my work, and indeed in any relationship.

To me, there are (at least) 3 elements to this:

  1. connection with Self
  2. connection with the moment
  3. connection with the client

1 – Connection with Self
In order to be able to fully connect with another, we need to be true to ourselves. If I’m wearing a mask, the horse will think that something is up. Horses don’t wear masks.  They ‘wear their hearts on their sleeves’ and (unless they have shut down due to trauma) they are always clear about their emotions in the moment.

(We might not be able to fully understand the horse’s body language and facial expression but this is something we can learn.  If this is something that interests you, I cover it in more depth in my workshops and in Video 6 of the series available through my website: www.equenergy.com)
If I attempt to hide what I’m really feeling, the horse will become suspicious and nervous.  To him, you only hide something if there is a threat, so effectively I would be signalling that there is some form of danger, therefore putting him on edge.  This, of course, is the last thing I want in a wellbeing session!  I therefore need to connect with myself and become aware of what is going on in my body and my emotions:

  • Am I holding tension?
  • Have I had a stressful journey?
  • Have I recently had an upsetting experience?
  • Do I need to take a moment to release that energy, or at least to acknowledge it?
  • Is this even the right time for me to approach this horse, or do I need some time to deal with my feelings first?

The same is true when working with people.  I need to check in with myself and see if I’m holding any emotion or tension which will affect my ability to focus on my client and to run an effective session.  We, too, can be very sensitive to subtle clues that someone is distracted or not being fully honest with us.  This makes us feel uncomfortable and we unconsciously feel that the person is not to be trusted.

In my work I seek to offer people a safe and non-judgemental space where they can feel free to explore their issues and the solutions that will work for them, therefore it is essential that I ‘show up’ with authenticity and integrity.

In the next post I will look at the other two elements of connection: with the moment and with the client.

If anything here has resonated with you, or you have an issue that you’d like to explore in a safe and non-judgemental space, please contact me:

email:             robyn@equnergy.com

phone:            07980 669303

You can also see more on my website: www.equenergy.com

 

Taken from Giving Healing Some Horse Power.  You can read the full text here.

A horse-share story

About 5-6 weeks ago I was very fortunate to begin a horse-share arrangement at a yard not far from where I live. The horse in question is a beautiful dark brown gelding called Knight. Over the past month or so we’ve been getting to know each other and he has been teaching me so much.

knight

When I first met him, I was told that Knight had some back issues and was showing signs of pain when ridden, in fact his young owner told me that he would try to buck her off. He had been seen by a vet who recommended a session with an equine physio. The physio had found that his back muscles were tight and painful so she used a massager on him. He has now had 2 sessions with her and will soon be getting measured for a new saddle.

I started by offering Knight some healing, some gentle massage and a few acupressure points that I thought might be helpful. (During an initial scan I’d noticed that Knight reacted at 2 points on his neck and was also sensitive around his lumbar area.) Knight ‘tolerated’ these therapies, briefly, but didn’t seem to be enjoying them so I shelved them for now and instead we practised some gentle exercises in the school, including walking over poles, weaving, doing circles to encourage him to bend and increase flexibility in his spine, carrot stretches to release any tight muscles and walking backwards to strengthen his back and his hip flexors.

Knight seemed to do most of these exercises quite easily and it helped us to get to know each other a little better. He appeared to be curious about this newcomer and even followed me through the exercises without being led. It was a lovely feeling for me that he was choosing to be with me – even if only out of curiosity – and it made me want to develop our relationship and connection further. This is something that is very important to me, and a big part of what I focus on in my work, but spending time with Knight has opened up a whole new level for me.

20160610_102456

Every horse is an individual and brings a whole series of new teachings. I get the impression that Knight is a very ‘contained’ horse – calm on the outside but holding a lot of emotion inside. Whether in the school, paddock or stable he would comply with what I asked or gently show me that he ‘didn’t want to play today’ but without any real emotion. I got the feeling that I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg, like a mask – a façade that he shows to the outside world, while keeping his inner thoughts very private. I felt that he was letting me in just so far, but no further. While respecting that this is his choice, I also want to make sure that he knows he is completely safe around me. I always keep my energy low when I’m with him, moving gently and keeping my hands and voice soft. I want him to know that he can trust me always to be reliable and to never use punishment with him.

I also often spend time with him, just being present, not asking anything of him, other than for him to be himself. I want him to know that he is free to express himself and make his own choices, to encourage him to be self-aware. I would like him to to feel safe to show me his wants and needs, knowing that I will listen. I still keep boundaries, and hopefully I do this consistently, so that Knight learns what is or is not ‘ok’ with me, just as I do for him. I watch his body language and encourage him to take the lead at times. This seems to be encouraging him to open up a little more and to be more relaxed around me. The other day he actually yawned for the first time with me – and not just a small yawn either! It built up into a massive jaw and tongue release which was beautiful to see.

Some of the best times we’ve had have been in the paddock where I often just spend time sitting on the ground while Knight and his 2 field buddies graze around me. It’s very touching how these large animals take such good care around me. They are always very gentle and are conscious about where they put their feet! I love to watch the buzzards riding the thermals, the swallows swooping after insects, the rabbits hopping about and the butterflies enjoying the sunshine. I also love the sound of the wind in the trees and the feel of it caressing my skin.  These are magical times that the horses allow me to share with them.

knight&jack

Yesterday, before going to the yard, I watched The Path of the Horse . This is an amazing film and I highly recommend watching it. It was one of those moments where the Universe delivers exactly what you need, at exactly the right time – a gift … and a challenge! Many parts of the film were difficult for me to watch, some because I have been guilty of less than gentle handling in the past (partly due to ignorance but also because I was lacking the confidence to question what I was taught, even when it felt wrong and also, to my shame, I have at times taken out my pain on these beautiful, patient animals) also some scenes reflected my pain, as the horse does, showing that I have much personal work still to do.

I realised that this is what I was bringing to Knight – and that this was what he was reflecting back to me! No wonder he appeared reserved and very self-contained. No wonder he didn’t seem to trust me with his innermost feelings. I’ve been doing exactly the same with him – and with myself!

Being honest with myself I’ve known this to be true but needed to be confronted with it. I’ve been making excuses that it was ‘ok’, ‘not really important’ or ‘not about me, anyway’, but being with Knight has shown me that I must be willing to ‘show up’ and fully own, and take responsibility for, all of my emotions before I can expect the same from him. At the same time I can be free to go with the moment with a very light, soft touch, allowing my ‘E-Motions’ (Energy in Motion) to ebb and flow naturally without the baggage of guilt or ‘navel gazing’ that we humans so often get caught up in.

After watching the film I went to see Knight. I brought my drum (an Irish bodhran) and Kindle with me and we played and danced together. It felt rather strange at first (and I was glad that no-one was watching) but it also felt liberating and joy-ful and Knight seemed to pick up on this energy and join in.

bodhran

We then just stood together, Knight dozing, feeling the wind in our hair, the sun on our backs and enjoying each other’s energy.  It was a very beautiful and special time and an infinitely precious moment of connection between us that we can build on.