This blog has moved

New blog address!

Thank you for following ‘Let’s Talk!‘. Due to a new website, this blog has now moved and we would love for you to move with us, to keep up to date with our latest posts. Please follow us at:

http://www.the-terrace.co.uk/blog/

We have lots of new interesting and informative posts planned for the future!

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‘let’s talk!’ about EMDR

1380742651emdr client_250by150A therapy we have recently been asked to feature on ‘let’s talk’ is known by the acronym EMDR. This stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing and it was developed as a psychological therapy by American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. Dr Shapiro also published the first research papers supporting the benefits of the therapy in the 1989.

EMDR is a technique that has been found to be helpful for those suffering from:

  • accident or injury
  • assault
  • depression
  • anxiety or panic
  • fears and phobias
  • childhood trauma and abuse
  • post traumatic stress
  • low self-esteem
  • illness

Negative experiences in life can lead to overwhelming feelings that the brain is unable to process  and make sense of, resulting in the memory being  frozen or ‘stuck’. The memories are stored  alongside associated thoughts, emotions and sensations, so when for some reason the memory is recalled the person experiences the full range of sensations associated with the original event – even to the smell, the taste and the feelings they had at the time. Often the event is repressed to avoid constantly experiencing the distress of recall.

The goal of EMDR is to facilitate the processing of disturbing and isolated memories. In the process these distressing memories seem to lose their intensity, thus becoming less distressing and more like ‘ordinary’ memories. This reduces the distress and offers insight into the experience and any  subsequent negative thoughts.

The way EMDR works in practice is by stimulation of the ‘frozen’ (or blocked) information processing system. This is achieved by activating both sides of the brain using eye movements or taps alternating across left-right sides of the body.

How the effect is produced is not certain, but it is believed to be similar to when your eyes rapidly move from side to side during natural REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) .

Research has shown benefits, particularly to those suffering from PTSD and is also recommended by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

You can learn more about what to expect from the EMDR Association.

We have a skilled EMDR therapist working here at The Terrace. Registered clinical psychologist Karen Green has many years experience across a number of different psychological therapies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), family work, psychotherapy and EMDR, and can tailor an approach to suit the needs of each client. If you would like to know more, contact us today for a confidential discussion and to see how Karen might be able to help you . Email post@the-terrace.co.uk or telephone 01823 338968.

On a Mindful Christmas contentment. Why can’t we just ‘be happy’?

trolleyLots of Christmas shopping was done over the weekend. We woke up in the knowledge that money needed to be spent,  car park spaces must be battled  for and crowds coped with. It was daunting, but ’tis the season…’ and all that – jolliness is required of us. Here at The Terrace we do like to offer support to readers over the festive season, but in the rush of consumer madness that is challenging.

So it was good to come across a piece by our own Miranda Bevis, mindfulness practitioner and leader of many of our workshops and courses. She recognises that the real world makes living in the moment (the basis of mindfulness practice) tough, but maintains that with work we can achieve a peace and level of contentment in many of those situations that threaten to overwhelm us. Here she offers some wise words on becoming content. How much of the ‘stuff’ we accumulate over the Christmas period do we actually need? We have written on here about looking at our rituals and making a decision to change. No more three for two gift sets, over indulgence and post Christmas strain on relationships – and perhaps creating new ways to celebrate the things that are important to us.

This time of year should be reflective, a time to take stock, but we have to admit that major changes  to seasonal celebrations are best planned rather earlier than mid-December when many of our presents are bought and paid for and meals planned etc. So, take a look at what Miranda writes below, and have a think about how we can appreciate the things we have already. Then perhaps we can take steps this year to enhance our Christmases to come.

Scanning the weekend newspaper supplements, I find so many articles and advertisements telling us how we could (should?) change: How to get fitter, thinner, look younger; give your garden a makeover, re-design your interiors. Revitalize your love life, spice up your cookery and your sex life (because you’re worth it). There is no end of things that we could change for “the better”. And of course, change is supposed to be good for us; after all, we wouldn’t want to be bored or get stale, or allow ourselves to get into a rut, would we? We “deserve” more, we “have a right” to more. We should seek out new excitements, discover new thrills, acquire new things, visit new places, meet new people.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in ourAnd there’s nothing wrong with any of this, except, perhaps, the overall message. Which seems to be that, if things were different, in terms of our looks, our possessions, or our experiences, we’d be happier. That there’s a better place to be, a better way to be, than where we are right now. And that surely breeds dissatisfaction. It’s all too easy to get caught up in disgruntled thoughts, and end up not noticing what we’ve actually got.

When we practice Mindfulness, we explore being with whatever is, without immediately trying to change anything. Sitting with our sensory experiences alone, and allowing them to be exactly as they are, while letting go of thoughts and desires for things to be different. We begin to realize that often it’s not so much what is actually happening that is the problem, but rather the thoughts about it. Realizing that the mutterings of “I don’t want it to be like this”, “It’s not fair”, and “I deserve more” breed discontent.

Letting go is not the same as giving in. It’s not a state of hopeless resignation. But it gives us the space to fully appreciate what we already have. It can help us to discover what really does need changing, and teaches us to develop a different relationship with what we have no control over.

The art of contentment and well-being is being good at noticing what you have, and wanting what you’ve already got. In the words of Guillaume Apollinaire: “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy”.

Miranda is offering more taster sessions and courses in the new year. See our ‘What’s On’ page for further details.

 

More mindfulness practice: On eating that Christmas raisin……

a-mindful-christmasWe are in December now, and here at The Terrace we are keen to promote ways to ensure our well-being is protected in what is a busy, festive month. We have written many times on mindfulness, and have started a new series of posts on the subject. Our expert practitioner Miranda Bevis offers regular and popular taster sessions and courses here, to those interested in finding out more. Here, Miranda discusses an exercise that some of you may already have heard of, and perhaps even dismissed. After all – how useful can eating one raisin be? Read on and find out. Perhaps, as you eat your rich Christmas cake or pudding this year you can give it a try…..

“The first exercise we do in the Mindfulness course is to eat a raisin. It seems a bit crazy. Never mind. Just do it. Notice. What does it look like? How does it smell? What happens when you put it in your mouth? As best you can, try not put the experience into words, but just allow yourself the bare experience.

If the mind wanders, which it probably will, gently guide it back to the exploration of this small object. Let go of any thoughts or judgments.

The whole thing takes about 5 minutes. People are always surprised and I regularly hear comments such as  “I didn’t know I could get so absorbed in such a small and insignificant thing”, “I can’t believe how intense it tasted”, “I didn’t think I even liked raisins, but that was really enjoyable”; and there’ is always someone who says, “It’s really strange, but I feel so much more relaxed”.

This exercise is far from crazy, and should not be dismissed. It demonstrates a number of things, including how, a lot of the time, we don’t really notice what we are doing, but are functioning automatically. Now, that’s not always a bad thing to do. For example when we react to real danger, or the mechanics of driving. In this complicated world, there are many times when we have to multi-task.

But if we function without awareness, we miss out on much of our experience. How many meals do we not even taste because we are in such a hurry?

And sometimes it’s downright unhelpful, and can actually make things worse. Reaching for the biscuits or the bottle when we get stressed, or kicking the cat because we are feeling irritable – perhaps if we were more aware of our actions, we might act in ways that were kinder to ourselves, and to others.

raisinFinally, the person who noticed she became more relaxed whilst eating the raisin had touched on something of great importance. I never used the “relax” word, never say ‘chill out’. I just said, really, really notice what you are doing. So what we discover is that, just by becoming fully absorbed in a very mundane activity, the body relaxes.

Why not give it a try? For a few mouthfuls every day, switch off the radio, don’t read or talk. And just eat. And notice…”

Miranda Bevis is offering mindfulness taster sessions and a new 8-week course in January 2015. See our ‘What’s On’ page for more details.

Mindfulness for an autumn morning….

Autumn-Leaves-and-BenchHere at The Terrace we like to promote the practice of Mindfulness, either through our workshops and taster sessions or via the blog, where we have posted our favourite poetry  – words that helps us stop for a moment and simply take a moment to ourselves. We know now that mindfulness has a really positive effect on physical and psychological health, and enhances focus, memory, creativity and compassion

The poet Muriel Rukeyser is quoted as saying “This moment is real, this moment is what we have, this moment in which we face each other, and if a poem is any damn good at all, it invites you to bring your whole life to that moment, and we are good poets inasmuch as we bring that invitation to you, and you are good readers inasmuch as you bring your whole life to the reading of the poem.”

Mindful poetry does not have to be written specially for meditation practice. There are certain lines of classic poetry that seem to calm the mind or take us into a realm of intense feeling  – poetry is by its very nature  the distillation of a feeling. Think of these lines by John Keats, as he writes ‘To Sleep’

….Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

Or from ‘To Autumn’

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 25
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Simply sit and read these lines quietly to yourself, even as you sit in front of your computer screen. Better still, learn a few of the lines off by heart and take a walk in the autumn sunshine (when we get some) and hear the rhythm of the poem as you kick up the leaves.

mary-oliverBut our poem for mindfulness today is by Mary Oliver, who has been called an ‘indefatigable guide to the natural world’ and  the Poetry Foundation describe her main themes as ‘the intersection between the human and the natural world, as well as the limits of human consciousness and language in articulating such a meeting’. But you don’t have to study poetry to enjoy it. Just feel it.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver, (Dream Work, Grove Atlantic Inc., 1986 & New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1992.)

Do tell us of your own favourite poetry for mindfulness. We would love to share your thoughts on this blog.

Miranda Bevis, our expert Mindfulness teacher is offering taster sessions at The Terrace tomorrow (14th) and Wednesday (15th) October 2014. See our Facebook page for further details.

The Gentle Power of Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathy  appears to some a mysterious ‘art’, but others swear by it as the only way to treat those symptoms that beset us every spring and summer and which are bracketed together as ‘hayfever’, or who suffer year-round from  allergic reactions to animals, dust mites or certain foodstuffs for example.

Here The Terrace homeopath Ruth Hermolle talks of her experiences using homeopathic medicines to treat patients with allergic reactions that were literally preventing them from achieving ambitions or enjoying pastimes they love. 

You have an unexplained rash – you get a cream over the counter or from the doctor, rash goes away – “works like magic”. But you have to keep on using the cream or it comes back.

Ask yourself – where does the rash go? What is going on? We all know that in magic tricks the egg is up the sleeve, the rabbit is under the table etc. I think the human body is a lot more sophisticated and complex than magic. You only have to think about how the food (good or bad!) we eat is broken down by the digestive system, separated into miniscule components so that all our organs have all the right vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc when and where they are needed.

bees

Image: Darren Robertson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the sophisticated systems of the body throw up a symptom such as a rash, maybe there is a good reason? If you have a car that starts to make strange noises, you would not just turn up the radio to drown it out, would you? After all, a car is an expensive item. You would find out what is going on and get it put right.

I am a homeopath. Science tells me that homeopathic medicines cannot work because they are too minute to be effective. But what about the clients who have used homeopathic medicines and found them effective?

Let me introduce you to 3 people and their particular stories. First a little girl of about 8 – loves, loves, loves animals and wants to have pony riding lessons. But contact with any animal gives her a rash, sore eyes, etc. With a few treatments her sensitivity reduces and she is able to do what she loves most.

Image: Matt Banks / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Matt Banks / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next a young man training to be a gardener, lucky to get a placement in a famous country estate, but suffers badly with hayfever: what can he do? His Mum gets him to try homeopathic treatment. With the help of an oldherb called Eyebright (Euphrasia) and other homeopathic medicines he is able to resume his work without any problems, even when he is strimming acres of grass.

Finally, a woman who had a lovely flowering tree in her garden. But every summer she got hayfever so badly she had to have oral steroids and inhalers; she said her eyes ‘turn to jelly’. With the help of homeopathic treatment she was able to resume sitting under her tree in spring, and was free of those frightening symptoms.

This is not magic. By carefully choosing homeopathic medicines to match the individual and their health experience, by helping the body do what it is already trying to do, a healthy balance is restored and the symptoms are no longer needed.

Look at your own experience – are you helping your body to get back into a healthy balance, or are you just masking the symptoms?

Find out more about homoeopathy:

 www.ruthhermolle.co.uk

http://www.homeopathyworkedforme.org

http://www.youtube.com/user/FindaHomeopath

www.a-r-h.org (Alliance of Registered Homeopaths)

homeopathy

Can you measure happiness? And should we even try?

Two-old-people-laughingWe recently published a post on ‘let’s talk’ by Rin Hamburgh, a regular contributor to the Positive News network, which aims to  ‘inform, inspire and empower our readers, while helping create a more balanced and constructive media’. We are happier if read more positive news it seems; if we appreciate that despite what many journalists would have us believe, the world is full of good people, doing positive things to encourage global social and environmental change.

This has sparked a lot of interest on the blog, and here at The Terrace and we want to find out more. When the current UK government came into power in 2010, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, stated his aim that Britain should be happier and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) now produces analysis based on National Measures of Well-Being. These measures, including economic, environmental and social measures also includes a measure of ‘personal well-being’. The latest figures, for 2012/13 were released last month and showed that overall, 77% of us are satisfied with our lives overall and that around 70% of us would describe our happiness levels as ‘medium to high’. You can find links to all the latest data here.

There is a concern that if politicians and civil servants are measuring happiness, they will ask questions that skew the results in favour of their policies, or choose a sample that includes people they know to have relatively ‘happy’ lives by any standard. So here on ‘let’s talk’ we wanted to canvas your ideas about what constitutes well-being. Is happiness our ultimate goal? If so, what is it that makes a human ‘happy’. Can any of the questions be the same for everyone?

For an analysis of happiness, should we measure things like self-esteem, number of friends (real rather than online), engagement with and kindness to, other people, love of laughter and jokes. Or should we look to practical things like money and health?

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire was developed by psychologists Michael Argyle and Peter Hills at Oxford University and includes such questions as:

  • I am intensely interested in other people.
  • I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone.
  • I find most things amusing.
  • I am always committed and involved.
  • I find beauty in some things.
  • I feel I have a great deal of energy

Alongside statements such as:

  • I do not think that the world is a good place.
  • I don’t think I look attractive.
  • I feel that I am not especially in control of my life.
  • I don’t find it easy to make decisions.
  • I don’t have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life.
  • I don’t have particularly happy memories of the past

Each statement is answered on a scale of 1 to 6, strongly disagree to strongly agree. You can take that questionnaire yourself here.

carouselimage1803_tcm77-356741Do the positive statements better measure our levels of happiness? If faced with a negative statement, are we more likely to respond to it in a negative way? There are so many questions and endless answers – surely we cannot all be grouped together under such an amorphous heading as ‘happiness’. Or can we?

We find this a fascinating subject, linking as it does to our commitment to overall well-being and physical and mental health. We also love to laugh, and find it therapeutic.

Do please comment and let us know what you think. We would love to publish your ideas about what makes you happy and how you think it could best be measured.