All posts filed under: Natural health – therapies

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …