Saturday, 26 June 2010

help to heal

before i pop back to the library with this book 'healing without freud or prozac' by dr david servan-schreiber i wanted to give you my thoughts on it. it was on the recommended reading list for people attending the WEL course. i found this book very interesting and would be a good read for anyone interested in well being, even though it was written for those suffering from depression. as we know depression can be a symptom of cfs/me normally due to the lack of support, change in lifestyle and day after day feeling exhaustion, pain and a host of other symptoms. this is what has happened to me recently so i was interested to check out this book to see what i could perhaps try to help myself.

in this book dr servan-schreiber discusses 9 self healing treatment methods, each method in its own way supports the body's constant attempt to foster coherence, to recover its balance-

''these different methods work in synergy, they all strengthen each other and the parasympathetic nervous system. in chronic conditions modern western generally helps only with crisis, it does not help the underlying condition. a chronic illness arises through complex interactions between body systems that have started to malfunction. to overcome a chronic illness, we need to capitalise on all the mechanisms of self healing to which we have access. each one of the following methods has been studied individually and found to be effective, the most effective treatment is to find a combination that is best adapted to each person, the combination that has the greatest chance of transforming his pain and giving his life his energy back''.

1. practice heart coherence. this is about learning how to control our emotional being. throughout our life's we all develop our preferred method of self soothing during times of increased stress, like relying on booze, cigarettes, drugs etc we would be in better shape to capitalize on th self healing abilities of the emotional brain and of the body to reach a balance between cognition, emotions and a sense of what life can provide. to practice heart coherence begin by taking two deep breaths, stay focused on your breath and pause for a few seconds in between breaths. unlike eastern meditation practices in which you stay focused on the breath it works best to centre your attention on the region of the heart after your breathing stabilizes. then imagine you are breathing through your heart (or through the centre of the chest if you do not yet feel your heart directly. imagine when you breath through your heart that each intake of oxygen nourishes your body and each exhalation rids it of the waste it no longer needs. imagine that they are helping your body make the most of the gift of attention and respite it is receiving from you. then become aware of the sensations of warmth developing in your chest, encourage your heart by drawing on a feeling of gratitude or love whither towards another being, an object, a peaceful scene, a memory of an nice experience. the very act of recalling a positive emotion or imagining a pleasurable scene rapidly provokes a transition of heart rate variability towards a state of coherence. this practice can in turn benefit the immune system. the heartmath institute is dedicated to the research of cardiac coherence. (i have practiced heartmath meditation however i do still prefer mindfulness meditation - i will continue to practace both.)

2. address painful memories. do you have painful memories when thinking about past events that continue to trigger painful feelings? if thinking or talking about them brings tears or feelings of anger then it hasn't been resolved.any memory that you actively try to suppress is generally one that left a scar on your emotional brain. old wounds can continue to condition how we experience life. a few sessions of EMDR can clear out the consequences of old suffering and give rise to a new and more harmonious perspective on life. apparently a specially trained phychiatrist makes people move their eyes back and forth in imitation of the way our eyes move when we are dreaming while we evoke an image of the memory. (i would imagine this would be quite expensive but sounds really interesting)

3. manage conflict and 4. enrich relationships. it is important to identify chronic conflicts i present relationships. if they continually pollute the flow of our emotional life, they can end up blocking our mechanisms of adaption and self-healing. dr servan-schreiber tells us in order to effectively assert ourselves through healthy emotional communication we should follow his six point STABEN cue card for handling conflict: S source - make sure you are dealing with the person who is the source of the problem and has the means to solve it. T time and place - make sure that the discussion takes place at a favourable time in a protected, private space. A amicable approach - make sure the person feels at ease with your very first words, preferably the listener's own name. B objective behaviour - get to the heart of the matter, explain the behaviour that motivates your grievance while description to what happened. E emotion - you must say what emotions you feel as a result, like 'i felt hurt'. N need - what need do you feel that has not been recognised? i.e 'i need to feel like i matter to you'. (i plan to try this method out while talking to my mother! i will let you know how i got on!)

5.maximise omega - 3s. consider re balancing your diet by increasing fish content by eating more mackerel, herring, tuna etc (or veggie sources of omega 3 fatty acids - walnuts, spinach or flax seeds) and reduce unhealthy fats. (i have started taking supplements daily and will be eating more sardines etc!)

6. get high on exercise. 20 to 30 minutes three times a week can do wonders for anxiety and depression, pick an activity you enjoy, if possible join a group of like minded exercisers for motivation. (sadly for people with me/cfs this is not an option. i have to pace myself as even small amounts of exercise can make my symptoms much worse. (although some movement is vital to prevent further muscle wastage) for the moment i walk and do gentle yoga stretches for short periods each day if possible and i dream of the day i can get high on exercise again!)

7. wake up to the sun. our body's benefit from waking up more peacefully in the morning. all that is required each day to reset our biological clock is to replace our alarm clock with a dawn stimulator. (i would love to purchase one of these in the future)

8. tap into your meridians. in tibetan medicine emotional symptoms and physical ones are simply two sides of the same thing: an imbalance in the circulation of energy, the qi . acupuncture treatments can address this re balance. can be good for physical symptoms such as pain. (sadly a course of treatment did not help my pain - read about my experience here -but it works for many people)

9. seek a larger connection. for most of us a true sense of peace can only be reached once we have found out how we can contribute to the community that we live in and feel comfortable with the role we have in it. those who have the good fortune of being connected this way often feel propelled much beyond a simple well being: they feel that they draw their energy from what gives meaning to life itself, in good times and in hardships. (i felt this way for years when i helped out at a soup kitchen)

to find out more about this book visit the website which contains more advice and useful addresses.

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