All posts filed under: health

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, …

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 …

Vitamin D – the health and happiness vitamin. Are you getting enough?

Are you getting outside and getting your vitamin D?  If not, why not? Vitamin D affects a vast array of organs in the body. It also plays a vital role in switching genes on and off (one of the reasons why it’s so vital pregnant women get enough). Medical researcher Oliver Gillie (healthresearchforum.org.uk), a foremost authority on this hormone-like vitamin, warns that we don’t pay it enough attention. ‘A deficiency is already blamed for the reappearance of rickets in the UK,’ he says. ‘But evidence is emerging linking low vitamin D levels to a rise in a whole host of diseases.’ Optimum levels of vitamin D can help prevent many forms of cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, menstrual problems and raised blood pressure. It could also be a surprise best friend if you suffer from the blues or find it tough to lose weight. Telltale signs of D deficiency include head sweating, aching bones, depression, weight gain, frequent colds and gut problems (IBS, gluten sensitivity). ‘To be honest, most people in the UK are deficient,’ …

Agony answers: What is a beach-ready bikini body, really?

Q: I dread summer. I’m overweight and every time I look in the mirror I feel sick. The idea of wearing shorts or – shudder – a bikini fills me with total dread. What can I do to feel better about myself? A: I think, if we’re honest, few of us dance around with delight at the prospect of baring flabby pasty flesh after a long winter of thick sweaters and furry boots. But I hate that you’re beating yourself up about your body. Are you really overweight? We’re fed this ridiculous size zero image of the ‘perfect woman’ which, frankly, is insane. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes and, truly, there is no such thing as ‘perfect’. Even supermodels have parts of their bodies they loathe.  And please remember that pretty much every image you will see in a magazine has been tweaked and photoshopped. I’d love you to focus on having a strong, healthy body – rather than a thin one. If you really are overweight (taking into account your height and …

Is massage the new psychotherapy? Bodywork and the mind connection

Might the massage table take over from the psychoanalyst’s couch? Just imagine if all your painful memories and old hurts could be simply massaged or pressed away? It’s not just wishful thinking – more and more people are finding that, by working with the body, they are able to heal the mind. The joy of bodywork as therapy is that you don’t need to confess your darkest secrets; you don’t even need to know your darkest secrets. Bodyworkers believe that our bodies know the truth and the truth can be stretched, squeezed or simply touched out of us. I have been researching natural therapies for the last 30 years and hundreds of bodyworkers – from aromatherapists to zero balancers, from reflexologists to Rolfers, have all told me the same thing: bodies hold memories and, equally, can release them. Sue Over, a bodyworker who uses a combination of techniques, including myofascial release (which works on the connective tissue of the body), explains. ‘Unexpressed emotions become held in our bodies, like undischarged bombs. The effects of this …

WHO says we should cut sugar – but is it enough?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is releasing its report Guideline on Sugars Intake for Adults and Children today.   It recommends that no more than ten percent of our daily energy should come from free sugars and goes on to say that in an ideal world, we would consume no more than five percent.  How much is five percent?  About six teaspoons a day for women and eight teaspoons a day for men. How much?  That’s still a heck of a lot of sugar, isn’t it? And there is absolutely NO need for sugar in our diets; it has zero nutritional value and, in fact, more and more research shows it has an actively negative effect on our health.   No shilly-shallying around it – sugar acts like a poison on our bodies and minds. According to Action on Sugar, the UK is in an obesity epidemic, and is officially the ‘fattest’ country in Europe, with one third of children and two thirds of all adults classified as obese or overweight. One third of UK adults …

Smudging – clear your home, your aura, your life

I was introduced to smudging at a workshop by the wonderful Denise Linn.  The scent of the burning bundle of herbs sent tingles through my body and I could feel how the energy of the room instantly shifted as the smoke was wafted through it. Smudging is a powerful cleansing technique from the Native American tradition.  It calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and put you back into a state of balance.   Think of it as the psychic equivalent of washing your hands or scrubbing the bath.   How does it work? Who knows? But variations of it have been used for thousands of years in indigenous cultures around the world and I’m pretty sure that, one day, quantum physicists will show how the energy of certain plants can affect our bodies and our environment.  After all, we’re all made of energy. I have been smudging for over 20 years now and have included it in many of my books.  I have even smudged Lorraine Kelly live on her TV …

Watsu – water shiatsu that takes you back to childhood

Watsu is a deep, powerful and curious form of bodywork.  A long, intense, intimate session of massage and manipulation techniques, carried out while you float in (or even under) a warm pool, watsu promises to heal you in mind, body and spirit.  Fans claim it has remarkable regenerative qualities; that it can release stress, muscle tension and pain like no other treatment.  They also say that it can equally release emotional anguish, giving you back a sense of childhood innocence and joy. Watsu was the brainchild of Harold Dull, an American poet who became fascinated with shiatsu, the Japanese acupressure massage and stretching therapy.  Having studied in San Francisco and Japan in the 70s he wanted to combine the therapeutic effects of shiatsu with the healing properties of water.  At first he tried giving massage on a padded board set up in a hot tub but when he moved to Harbin Hot Springs in California he soon realised that he could achieve far better, far deeper effects by floating his client in water, working on …

Trager – maximum effortlessness and freedom from pain

Trager ® or Trager Psychophysical Integration (to give it its full name) is a gentle system of bodywork whose predominant goal is to make life easier, more comfortable, more pleasurable.  It helps you build up deep stores of energy and vitality and yet keeps you calm and centred.  In a typical session you receive several thousand light, rhythmical touches and come off the couch feeling like a child that’s been rocked in its mother’s arms. The history of this deeper-than-deep relaxation treatment started back in the 1930s.  Milton Trager was a young boxer and acrobat, living in Miami and training his super-athletic body.  He was always pushing himself to the limits, aiming to jump the highest, the farthest, the best.  Then one day he suddenly had a completely different thought.  “How can I land softer?” he pondered.  Then, “How could I land the softest?”  His whole philosophy changed overnight – from aiming for maximum effort he sought instead maximum effortlessness, how to become ever lighter and easier and softer and freer.   He discovered he could …

Simple ways to gain confidence

Confidence is the greatest gift under the sun.  When your confidence is high you can conquer the world.  You can take control of your life in every way: work goes swimmingly; relationships become more straightforward.  The world simply feels like a friendlier place.  Yet few of us have unlimited stores of self-confidence.   We are far more likely to suffer self-doubt and self-criticism than revel in self-adoration.  Why?  Generally it goes back to childhood when we picked up all those negative messages from a host of concerned grown-ups both at home and at school.  They told us it was a dangerous world out there; to be careful; to be prepared for the worst so we wouldn’t be too disappointed when it happened.  No wonder we grew up doubting ourselves.  But it’s never too late to learn new tricks to foster self-confidence.  The following methods can help anyone feel happier and more at ease in life.  Try them – you just might change your whole life. THE POWER OF POSITIVE THOUGHT:  “It’s a peculiar quirk of human nature …