|Posted by kevanowen on February 26, 2015 at 12:05 PM||comments (0)|
I recently had the pleasure of leading a series of four Group Guided Meditation sessions for the Friends of the Dyslexia Foundation at their centre at the Albert Dock in Liverpool. This was as part of a Sanctuary workshop programme that also includes other activities such as walks, tai chi, storytelling, painting and drawing. These sessions were designed to provide useful coping strategies in a safe place, to share stories and build networks.
There is growing evidence that dyslexia is linked to creativity. For example, a recent article in Scientific American Mind cited research that reveals that people with dyslexia exhibit strengths for seeing the big picture (both literally and figuratively) and there is a higher incidence of dyslexia among entrepreneurs than in the general population. *
The long list of famous successful and talented people with dyslexia include: John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson.
In a world that is dominated by information in the form of the written word however, dyslexia presents a variety of learning challenges as well as feelings of self-doubt. This inner tension and insecurity can be an additional source of stress. In designing the guided meditation sessions for the group my aim was to offer a menu of stress-busting strategies for calming the body and soothing the mind. These included progressive relaxation, guided imagery and experiential focussing exercises. Special attention was given to the process of Mindfulness: attending to what is happening in the present moment with an attitude of openness, compassion and acceptance.
As with my one-to one hypnotherapy sessions, participants were asked to complete brief assessments before and after the sessions to measure outcomes. This involved a simple numerical rating of such factors as: “understanding my dyslexia”, “feeling better in myself”, “learning coping strategies”, “sharing stories” and “feeling I can solve problems”.” I’m pleased to say that all of the participants reported improvements in these areas after each of the sessions. In addition I feel that I also learned a lot from the experience of working with this group.
For more information about the Dyslexia Foundation see dyslexia-help.org.
Also the website of Dyslexia advocate Sue Bell at dyslexic.org.
* The Advantages of Dyslexia, Scientific American Mind, Volume 26, Number 1, January/February 2015. Scientific American.com
|Posted by kevanowen on April 8, 2014 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years in both eastern and western spiritual and philosophical traditions. It has also been given a new lease of life in the 21st century because scientific studies are showing that it is a very effective method of stress reduction and a way of enhancing mental clarity.
There is some overlap between Hypnosis and Mindfulness because they are both ways of consciously directing attention. Hypnosis is a process of becoming absorbed in a particular idea or image similar to what happens when you dream, and it’s usually done with a particular aim in mind, such as reliving emotional distress or encouraging behaviour change. Mindfulness is more about noticing what is taking place in the here and now, which helps us to step out of "automatic pilot" mode. When practiced regularly it can act as a form of preventative medicine akin to physical exercise. When you exercise your muscles they become stronger and you become fitter. When you exercise the “mental muscle” of focused attention, that becomes stronger as well and you develop the capacity to have a clear head when you need it, to surf the waves of emotion and to be more resilient in the face of stress.
We are being mindfully aware when we are really noticing, with friendly interest, whatever is going on right now. This state of mind is inherently de-stressing and when it is practiced regularly it helps us to be more resilient in the face of difficulties. It also intensifies the enjoyment we get from life.
From time to time I lead a series of one-hour workshops with the title Exploring Mindfulness. These are designed for anyone who wishes to learn some simple mindfulness practices that can be easily incorporated into everyday life.
For further information about these and future sessions contact Kevan on 07717 289373.
|Posted by kevanowen on March 10, 2014 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
In the western world for the past 500 years or so there has been a tendency to regard the mind and the body as belonging to two separate realms of existence. Whatever the truth or untruth in that belief there is no doubt that the mind and the body interact and influence each other. Or, they are two aspect of a whole system like the two sides of a coin.
What happens in the mind effects the body and what happens in the body effects the mind. If you follow medical news stories you can see example of this. Only this week there was a report about research that show how anger outburst can be a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease.1. Another report from Manchester University was about how mindfulness practice can relive the pain of rheumatoid osteoarthritis. 2
Clinical Hypnotherapy has been used successfully in treating irritable bowel syndrome and is now listed in the NICE guidelines as a valid treatment for IBS when other interventions have not provided relief. 3 And we all know about the power of the placebo; how a dummy pill can bring about significant relief in many medical conditions and can even improve sporting performance. 4
I’m not saying that it’s” all in the mind”. A certain amount of pain and discomfort is inevitable in life. When we feel aches and pains or fall sick these are signals from our body and it is important to pay attention to them and to respond with compassion. Conventional medicine plays a vital role in helping us to get better. It’s also true that mental attitude can play an important role in preventing ill health.
By becoming attuned with the ebb and flow of our emotional state we can develop the capacity to calm and soothe any excessive disturbance. When we do this we become more resilient to the stresses of life. This has a preventative effect in helping us to maintain optimum health.
This attitude of self-soothing can be cultivated. The first step is self-awareness; noticing our gut feelings. Whenever we notice disturbing feelings we can self-sooth and nurture ourselves.
The trick is, if we notice that we are getting angry, irritated, anxious or afraid in a way that might be out of proportion the situation, we can firstly take a pause and take a few calm breaths. We can take a few mindful moments to notice what is happening in our body and this helps to calm the Fight and Flight response and replace it with the Care and Nurture response which is just as powerful.
We can then take a step back from the heat of the moment and just observe with kindly curiosity how the body feels.
It isn’t so much stressful events themselves that can affect our health; rather it’s the way we respond to events. When we view life’s inevitable changes as challenges it can stretch us in a healthy way. We can start to view challenges as opportunities to progress, to rise to the challenge and to develop flow. This boosts optimism and self-efficacy, a can-do attitude to life. By cultivating these positive emotions we are also helping the body to function well.
The mind body connection is a two-way street. The mind effects the body and the body effects the mind. Our emotional state and how skilled we ate at regulating that can affect the well-being of the body. Conversely how we use our body effects our mind and our emotional state. If I develop the habit of walking around with a stooped posture, staring at the ground, then that will make me feel down beat emotionally. If I walk tall, with a spring in my step, and a smile on my face, that is more likely to translate into feeling good. So becoming aware of our physical posture and choosing to open up into more of an expansive stance can really make us feel more positive. 5.
|Posted by kevanowen on September 23, 2013 at 5:50 AM||comments (0)|
There is an ancient teaching tale about an elephant that is exhibited in a dark room. Six men touch and feel the elephant in the dark and each one comes to a different conclusion regarding the true nature of the elephant.
The man who touches the trunk says that the elephant is like a snake; the one who touches the tusk likens it to a spear; the one who touches the side of the elephant’s body says no, it is like a wall; the one who touches the ear insists that it is like a fan, the one who touches the leg says it is more like a tree, and the one who feels the tail says it is a rope.
This is a good metaphor for the confusions that arise in the field of hypnosis. Most people are in the dark where hypnosis is concerned and only perceive a part of the picture: the association with sleep, the concept of a trance state, the perceived magical “power” of the hypnotist, the weird effects such as dissociation, hallucination, amnesia, time distortion and age-regression.
All of these are the individual parts of the elephant; they are not the whole animal. It is impossible to understand an elephant by examining only the trunk, the tusk, the flank, the ear, the legs or the tail. Focusing on just one part leads to misunderstanding.
To see the whole animal we have to take a step back and shine some light on the subject. Rather than getting confused by that word “hypnosis” it helps to turn the word back from an abstract noun to a verb or an adjective.
So we can talk about someone being “hypnotised” by a very engaging movie or by a charismatic speaker. Or we can describe a piece of music as being very “hypnotic”. We all know what we mean by this: something or someone has captured our attention so that our focus of attention has been narrowed right down to that one thing and we might temporarily become unaware of everything else that is taking place at that moment.
Hypnosis is a word or label that we use for the deliberate utilisation of innate mental faculties: the ability to focus on our internal experience, to engage with a particular idea, feeling or sensation (or conversely to dis-engage from an idea, feeling or sensation), to imaginatively paint a picture in our mind, to recall a past event or fanaticize about situation in the future. These are natural abilities that we all possess.
Hypnotherapy is the utilisation of these innate abilities in the context of therapeutic conversations. What distinguishes a hypno-therapeutic conversation from an ordinary conversation is the deliberate use of these innate abilities in a way that is designed to enhance therapeutic change.
|Posted by kevanowen on June 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
As an experienced professional hypnotherapist I am passionate about helping you to make positive changes in your life. Whether your aim is to gain more confidence, to de-stress, to lift your mood, to overcome phobia or excessive anxiety, to stop consuming too much convenience food or to free yourself from the dangerous habit of smoking, hypnotherapy will help you to kick-start the change process.
Hypnosis is a special way of using various naturally occurring states. It’s a collaborative process in which you allow yourself to follow the guidance of the therapist by using your imagination to evoke positive emotions and rehearse behaviour change.
One aspect of hypnotherapy is the skilled use of guided imagery – a gentle yet effective way of reducing pent-up stress and generating deep relaxation -the crucial first step towards lasting therapeutic change.
Human imagination is a powerful reality generator. The kind of “movies” you run in your mind can have a direct effect upon the way you perceive reality and have a direct bearing on the way your life turns out.
Hypnosis and therapeutic guided imagery will enable you to focus your mind in a way that is helpful to you.
This wonderful creative process makes use of a natural facet of the mind, namely the ability to narrow focus of attention and to create new patterns of learning.
The state of flow is one of the highest positive emotions, a state of complete involvement. You enter a state of flow when you are totally immersed in what you are doing and you are operating at the very limit of your abilities. You could think of it as a very positive trance state.
Some trance states are less than positive and can cruise distress, e.g. anger, anxiety, depression and addiction. These are examples of common symptomatic trance states.
My aim as a therapist is to help you find a state of flow in your life, in which you free yourself from the trap of those negative trances and start to live a life of flow. This is the “sweet spot” between boredom and stress.
|Posted by kevanowen on February 17, 2010 at 9:40 AM||comments (0)|
Remember Corporal Jones in the classic BBC comedy "Dads Army? Whenever the Walmington Home Guard got into dire straits, as happened frequently, Lance Corporal Jones would go into a flat spin and loudly issue the proclamation "Don’t Panic!”. In doing so he thereby succeeded in raising the anxiety levels of his compatriots even further. This was amusing to watch, but for a person caught up in the thrall of a real panic attack it is no laughing matter.
A panic attack is one of the most frightening experiences imaginable. It can feel as though ones very life is in danger. Common symptoms include a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, shaking and a fear of losing control. Some people experiencing a panic attack fear that they are having a heart attack or going crazy. It is important to stress however that this is NOT the case.
Panic attacks occur when a person’s nervous system goes into what is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. It is a natural protective mechanism that primes the body for strenuous physical activity. This mechanism is highly advantageous in a situation of real danger. It is something that has helped the human race to survive in the natural world for thousands of years. A fearful stimulus such as an approaching predator triggers a release of adrenalin which in turn produces the rapid heart rate and all of the other physical responses. These prime the body for either fighting the aggressor or running away. If no such physical exertion happens the person is left with no outlet for all that pent up energy. Hyperventilation disturbs the delicate balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, leading to symptoms such as tingling, dizziness and light-headedness.
So in a way the term “panic attack” is not a very accurate term. The person is not being attacked by panic. Rather their body is going on high alert to protect them from danger. Very often people experience this cascade of physical effects in situations where there is no present danger, and they are perplexed as to why it is happening. The explanation for this has to do with the fact that the human brain acts as a pattern-matching organ. It can trigger the fight or flight response in situations that provide an unconscious match to a feared event or situation. Usually something in the person’s immediate environment is triggering this unconscious fear reaction. It may be something very innocuous, a particular colour, sound or even a scent that at one time was matched with something dangerous for that person.
One of the best ways to recover from a panic attack is to practice a special breathing technique to counter the effects of hyper-ventilation. This technique is known as 7/11 breathing, so called because it involves breathing in to a count of seven, and breathing out to a count of 11. Doing this for five minutes or so will restore the oxygen/carbon dioxide levels to the correct balance. It is also important to breathe in and out through the nose, rather than the mouth, and to employ deep abdominal breathing rather than shallow breathing.
For people who experience panic often, hypnotherapy can be a very effective form of treatment. A good hypnotherapist will assist in teaching the client effective ways of calming down, of managing the symptoms or even removing the panic for good.