Month: May 2015

Is eternal life possible? Yes, said the immortalists of Wimbledon

At the end of autumn, as the season dies, signs of decay are all around.  Walking down Wimbledon Broadway, the leaves are soggy on the ground.  Shoppers sport red poppies in remembrance of the war dead and, to compound the gloom, a hearse passes in funereal pomp. Life is short, it all seems to say, and then you die. Since time immemorial humans have railed against the grim reaper, desperately hunting for the elusive secret of immortality.  The ancient Chinese sought P’eng-lai, the fabled Isles of Immortality, alchemists tried to formulate the elixir of life and magicians proffered their souls in return for life unending. It hasn’t stopped even now.  We are still trying everything we can to dodge the graveyard shift: from the Nemectron (an orb believed to regenerate brain cells via dangling rings suspended on the ears) to the oxygen diet (beloved of Michael Jackson) or placental implants.  Fads come and go but undertakers are still making a good living out of dying. But some people do live longer, if not perhaps forever, …

Agony Answers: Should I settle for less than true love?

Q: I am forty and never been married or had children. I have been seeing a man for six months who is lovely but I don’t feel the spark I have felt with previous partners. Should I settle and have the family I’ve always wanted knowing that I won’t be unhappy, but won’t be madly in love? A: This is such a dilemma and I really feel for you – and for the man you’ve met too. The fact that you’re even asking for advice rings warning bells – if you really loved this man, you wouldn’t be asking what I think, would you? Equally, if you were twenty, or even thirty, you would know the answer to your own question – you’d walk away. The problem here is that your biological clock isn’t just ticking; it’s ringing its alarm bell. But, of course, there is no guarantee that you could have children – with or without this man. Does he actually want children? Have you discussed the possibility? Then again, there’s the magic spark …

Biodynamic Therapy – rediscovering your ‘true self’

How many of us simply muddle through life as best we can? There’s the job that stifles us, the family who drive us mad, the relationships that grate. Over the years we’ve learned to grit our teeth and put a brave face on it. But while gritting your teeth gets you through the days it is, according to biodynamic therapists, slowly destroying your true self. The “brave face” is a mask that we initially put on as protection but which, over the years, becomes a form of armour, cutting us off from our true emotions and banishing any real sense of joy. Take away the mask and see through the eyes of your true self and the world will become a far brighter place: more vibrant, more intense, more alive. Biodynamic therapists say that as children we live only in our true self (which they call the primary personality) – spontaneous, exuberant, intuitive, really “alive”. But as we get older we gradually learn to hide our feelings from the world for fear of ridicule or …

The Alexander Technique – realigning posture to improve health and mood

A straightforward, down-to-earth technique could make you taller and slimmer. It can help silence stress and banish the blues. It can even give significant relief from back and neck pain and the ache of arthritis. Yet this technique is no new wonder-therapy, no esoteric healing – it’s been taught in this country for years. It’s called the Alexander Technique. In the past the Alexander Technique has suffered from an image problem. People equate it with “learning good posture” and it is seen as rather staid and boring. That view should change because although Alexander does take time and patience to learn properly, its effects can be nothing short of miraculous. A host of celebrities have used it – from John Cleese to Paul Newman and it is lauded by actors and dancers who need to be able to use their bodies to the optimum. The technique was developed by Frederick Mathias Alexander, an Australian born in 1869. Alexander was a successful actor – until he started to lose his voice during orations. A host of …

Unnatural motherhood? There’s more than one way to be a parent.

Let me confess. Before I had James I had never bathed a baby. I had never fed a baby. I had certainly never changed a baby. I had held one once (arms rigid, fixed rictus of a smile painted on my face) but it cried so I gave it back – very quickly. I’m almost proud of my achievement in a perverse way. After all it takes some ingenuity to avoid babies quite so effectively for over thirty years – especially given my sister had five of them, and most of my friends are parents. Frankly when I listened to friends talk about their raging hormones, about having to have a baby, I was bemused. Somewhere along the line I was missing the baby urge gene. I just wasn’t genetically wired to be a mother. Then I fell pregnant. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I sat on the toilet, paper strip in hand, staring like an idiot at that faint blue line. I felt faint. I felt instant morning sickness. My belly …

Floatation meets shamanism

As a journalist and author of books on health and wellbeing I’ve tried pretty much every technique and treatment going. All were interesting but there were only some I fell in love with and made part of my regular spiritual ‘regime’. Shamanic journeying is one of them. Shamanism is not a religion: it’s a practice that is compatible with all spiritual paths. When you journey, you put yourself into a state of trance (usually by drumming or using a rattle) and travel to other planes of where you meet guides (either animals or discarnate teachers) for healing and knowledge. Shamanism treats the whole of the natural world as sacred – and as a teacher. Floatation – where you lie suspended in 10 inches of highly salted water – is another of my loves. So the idea of combining shamanic journeying with floatation was just too tempting for words. Recently I had been feeling a bit stuck. I had taken a gamble and tried my hand at teenage fiction. I wrote a novel about shamanism, Walker, …

Autogenic Training – ‘mental circuit training’ to control stress

NOTE: I wrote this feature some years back, before mindfulness was such a buzzword.  If you can’t seem to get on with mindfulness – or meditation – then this might be worth a go.  Like most people nowadays I suffer from stress. In fact, juggling career, family and a farm without mains services would be enough to send most people into stress overdrive. But, when the going gets tough I simply sit down and start muttering: “My right arm is heavy.” It sounds as if I’ve finally cracked, but in fact it’s the first step in a series of exercises in Autogenic Training, possibly the most potent stress relief technique in the Western world. The benefits of meditation have long been recognised in fighting stress – but resistance to “mystical mumbo jumbo” has been too much for many people. Autogenic Training is the answer. It gives all the benefits of meditation without any of the lotus-position and leotard connotations. Simply speaking, Autogenic Training (AT) consists of a straightforward series of mental exercises designed to switch …

Art therapy – painting the unconscious mind

When we were children we used to paint and draw with pleasure and delight. For a few short blissful years we could do no wrong with our paints and crayons – we were free to explore, imagine and create. Then we began to be taught what was “good” and “bad” in art: those of us who were “good” at art started trying to perfect our skills while those of us who were not “artistic” simply threw away our paintbrushes. And that, say the art therapists, is a crying shame. Uninhibited art, they explain, has the power to heal: it offers a clear, straightforward route to the unconscious, to the hidden depths of our psyche. Rediscover the joy of art and you could put yourself back in touch with repressed emotions and long-buried hurts. You could even start up a conversation with your very soul. Art therapy is most definitely not about painting or drawing “properly” – the aim is not to make pretty or lifelike pictures but rather to let go of any expectations and …

Modern Exorcism – the work of Dr Francesca Rossetti

“Are there any demons? Dark angels? An angel of death? Elementals of earth, water, fire, air or wood? Any negative animals? Birds, insects, reptiles or vermin?” The young woman lying on the couch considers each question and, in a low dull voice, answers with hardly a trace of emotion. “A hawk demon. A demon of self-deception. An eagle. A group of ants. A group of rats and mice.” The woman sitting at her head nods and continues the questioning: “Any ghosts or spirits? Any agreements with Satan?” “Yes,” says the girl. “What is the symbol of the agreement?” “Claws, blood, evil. A devil in a black cloak. He’s not even a man – he’s a decayed skeleton with a sword.” “Fine,” says the woman with a brisk nod of the head, “Now you’ve recognised it, it can no longer have any power over you. We will break up the energy and take it away. It is all going to break up like a black powder and collect on the surface of the brow and the …

Psychic Protection – energetic ways to keep your self and your home safe

Why is it that some people fill us with joy and energy while others leave us feeling totally drained? How come we walk into one building and feel a sense of calm and peace while another will have us looking over our shoulders, feeling edgy and ill at ease? “To one degree or another, everyone is sensitive to the atmosphere of places, objects and people,” says William Bloom, an expert in the art of psychic protection.  “We like particular houses because they feel good and avoid others because they feel bad. Even the most cynical of people may enter a meeting or a bar and sense immediately whether the environment is hostile or friendly.” There is nothing sinister or mystical about this – we are just picking up on the kind of energy being generated by that person or place. A person who is angry will send out quite different energy patterns than someone who is feeling calm and happy. Equally places will retain energy vibrations long after people have left. Psychic protection allows us …