The Mindfulness challenge – how can we just ‘Allow’ ? It is no quick fix…..

TaraHealy-490x350On May the 5th and 6th (can you believe it is already nearly May?!) our mindfulness specialist Miranda Bevis is starting her latest Mindfulness course, lasting eight weeks and offering in-depth knowledge of its benefits and hours of practice. Courses like this have literally changed the lives of many who are facing challenges of all kinds – work, relationships, health – but it does require some hard work to master mindfulness properly. Too often recently the press has highlighted it as the next ‘cure all’ for anxiety and depression, detailing how corporations are recognising it as a means of increasing productivity and reducing stress on employees. But mindfulness isn’t all about a 20 minute break taking deep breaths in the staff canteen. It can open up a whole world of new experiences and, if taught properly, offers meaningful and deep-rooted strategies to deal with the challenges life throws at us. But it isn’t always easy, and can throw up challenges that can be hard to meet in the first days of practice.

So when we saw this poem by Danna Faulds, it seemed to sum up the realities of mindfulness and the joys of simply ‘bearing the truth’…..

Allow

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes
By: Danna Faulds

“When loss rips off the doors of/the heart, or sadness veils your/vision with despair…” – this is mindfulness as support in times of the greatest sorrow, and long before the recent rise in the popularity of the practice many had found peace in the joy of the only moment we truly have – the present one.

Of course we would love you to book on to Miranda Bevis’s courses, if not those starting next week then her autumn dates in September and October, but this isn’t about advertising.  We know the benefits of mindfulness go far deeper than the ‘quick fix’ options being discussed in the press. It isn’t ‘meditation lite’ as it was recently described, and the whole industry that has recently built up around it – phone apps, books etc – can result in a waste of time and money if the practice is not put in. Everything truly worthwhile requires work and patience. Finding a teacher who can guide you and support you is vital, especailly as Danna Faulds says, you  are letting in the fear, the failure and the fantasies….

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The Terrace Taunton: The first twenty years: An interview with Jane Gotto

Jane

Jane Gotto

2014 was an exciting year for The Terrace in Taunton, marking as it did the twentieth anniversary of its establishment and its development into a leading psychotherapy and complementary health centre in Somerset. There was much to celebrate, and even more to look forward to  – no one is slowing down now.

To mark the anniversary Jane Gotto, Director of The Terrace, was interviewed by Suzie Grogan at some length about the history and development of the business; the ethos behind it and the therapies available, as well as plans for the future – including her commitment to taking The Terrace into social media and the blogosphere!

As part of the on-line plan, The Terrace has opened a YouTube channel and the first videos uploaded are, of course, the interviews with Jane. In this first one, for example, she discusses how The Terrace came into being.

And in this one, she discusses future plans….

Do take a look at the channel, and if you have any ideas on other videos we can produce, or clips already on YouTube that we can link to we would love to hear from you.

So not only does The Terrace have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheTerraceTaunton, you can also follow us on twitter @terraceclinic and on Pinterest www.pinterest.com/terraceclinic.

It isn’t all about promoting the business, although that is important of course. We find interesting articles on issues relating to psychotherapy, counselling and complementary health, alongside those campaigns we support  – most particularly the prevention of sexual abuse and female genital mutilation. And of course, on this blog we write in more detail on the same subjects and offer mindfulness practice and explanations of therapies you may not have considered before.

So after this shameless self-promotion we would love you to engage with us, comment on posts, converse on twitter and follow us on Facebook. We never spam and are always happy to answer questions. And of course, there are lots of lovely pictures and inspiration on Pinterest.

‘Re-charging’ the Christmas ritual….

images (3)As the days of December rush past, leaving us little time to pack in all the annual rituals – present buying, writing and sending cards, attending the work Christmas ‘do’- as well as trying to keep the non-Christmas side of our lives under control, it is all too easy to succumb to a bug, or feel oneself become overwhelmed with the stress and anxiety of it all. Here at The Terrace we like to gather together some tips to help survive the second half of December and on into the new year.

For many of us the rituals are all part of the season and fill us with a sense of nostalgia. For others, the rituals seem stale, lowering and unnecessary, washed away in a sea of consumer madness, bright lights and bad tempers. Money is tight, the shops are filled with things we can’t afford and don’t need. It can be difficult to cope.

If you fall into the latter category – or if Christmas holds darker memories and is a time when you battle depression-  rather than avoiding it altogether, you might want to create your own ritual, one that is personal and connects you to who you are rather than joining the ‘Christmas Mad Rush’. So why not consider the following:

  • Pay particular attention to what is important to you; seeing special friend(s) or spending time with one or two members of your family rather than all of them.
  • Prepare a meal you enjoy, rather than feeling obliged to have turkey with all the trimmings, or create your own spiritual practise – meditation and or quiet time.
  • Take time to read a book, or watch a film that interests you.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into an arrangement which you know is not going to work for you. If you cannot say ‘No’ outright, say you would like some time to think about it and let the other party know a time when you will get back to them.
  • Never feel guilty about saying you need to spend time alone if that is what you really want.
  • Try to build an understanding of what is important and getting it right for you. When a ritual has become dead for one person it normally has for others too – naming it can be a relief and stimulate new ideas. You might be concerned about upsetting other people’s routine – but they may just be waiting for someone to take that step for them!

In getting the festive season right for you, it often gets it right for others too.

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.

Dealing with anger in angry times (2)

angerIn a previous post we looked at the ways in which we can cope with feelings of anger in a society that is increasingly prone to focus on the negative; stereotyping and reporting on issues that can make our blood boil. We looked at how we can focus on those issues that we can influence, and how certain coping strategies can increase our chances of remaining calm and ensuring relationships are not damaged by unexpressed, or hastily expressed, anger.

We mentioned at the end of the last post that this time we would examine who is responsible for our personal response to anger. Of course, the answer is ourselves. We can choose whether to act hastily or with a more measured tone. But we acknowledge that in some situations this is difficult, or impossible. So why do we get angry?

There are obvious causes: a threat to ourselves or the ones we love, being actually assaulted – verbally or physically, losing money, finding our property has been damaged. Then there are less obvious ones: hearing someone has acted against a principle we hold dear, being interrupted when something is important to us, feeling undermined or humiliated among our peers. If it seems we have been hurt deliberately it can make matters worse.

If we are in imminent danger, the anger can be productive and protective, but if the causes are less obvious, then our responses can affect the outcome for our health, and for our relationships.  If we are living in a state of constant tension we might snap, regretting it later when we find we have over-reacted and must build bridges. Or we might repress  our anger, only for it to surface days, weeks, months or years later.

Some anger can drive change for the better, lead us to campaign for what we believe to be right. But repressed anger, or long-term anger that is not expressed in a constructive way can lead to depression, anxiety and self-harm, alongside physical ill-health, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and gastric problems.

The Mental Health Foundation offers some great advice for those of us faced with a situation where we sense our blood is up. Where in our last post we offered some general advice, here are some specific exercises to adopt:

Count to ten before you act.
Drop your shoulders and breathe deeply to help you relax – your instincts may be telling your body to get ready to fight, but your rational self can reverse this message by telling your body to chill out.
If you feel the urge to throw something or hit out, remove yourself from the situation and try taking it out on something soft like a cushion that you won’t damage and which won’t hurt you.
Try screaming if it won’t disturb people near you or scream into a pillow to release your tension.
Talk yourself down – imagine what your calmest friend would say to you and give yourself the same advice
Imagine yourself in a relaxing scene.
Distract yourself or take yourself out of the situation that made you angry – read a magazine, do a crossword, listen to soothing music, go for a walk.
Pour out how you feel in writing or redirect your energy into another creative activity.
Offload to a friend who will help you get perspective on the situation.

We know it is not easy to deal with anger, but most of us can learn to respond in a healthy way. Next time we will look at triggers; if we know in advance what ‘sets us off’ it can make us better able to cope with a situation before that moment of no return…..

The Terrace is hosting a ‘Shaping Anger’ workshop on 25th and 26th October. For more details go to What’s On.

‘let’s talk!’ about: The Bowen Technique

what-bowen-helps

Problems Bowen has been shown to help

Recently we have been asking our readers, and followers on Facebook and twitter, which therapies they would like to know more about. At The Terrace we offer psychotherapy and complimentary therapy, but within those areas there are many different approaches to emotional and physical well-being. It can be confusing – and in past posts we have looked at homeopathy and mindfulness.  But today we thought you may like to know a little more about The Bowen Technique.

Bowen  is a gentle, non-invasive remedial therapy that offers effective treatment for a wide range of ailments. Australian Tom Bowen developed this system of body work more than forty years ago and it is now recognised by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council and available on many private healthcare policies.

For the past twenty years Bowen has been practised in the UK and offers an effective and straightforward treatment to bring balance and correct function to the whole body. During the treatment, a series of gentle, rolling moves are made over the muscle at key points of the body using fingers and thumbs. Each set of moves is followed by a rest period of roughly two minutes to allow your body to respond with maximum effect. There is no adjustment or deep tissue manipulation and it is not a form of massage. For this reason it is suitable for all age groups including the very young and the very old. Treatment can be performed directly on the skin or through light clothing.

Bowen is a holistic treatment, and the whole person is treated, not just the problem area. It is often the case that chronic back pain originates from tight hamstrings, or that a shoulder problem has started in the neck for example. Getting to the root cause of the problem can lead to improvements in conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), hay fever, hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, depression, sleep disorders, constipation, headaches and many more.

Kate Weeks practises at The Terrace and has recently found some great survey data from The European College of Bowen Studies (ECBS) that supports her view, and ours, that Bowen can offer gentle relief to many – even those who have exhausted all other forms of treatment.

1130 people were asked the following 3 questions.

1. Would you have a Bowen Technique treatment again?
2. Would you recommend the Bowen Technique to family/friends?
3. Overall has the Bowen Technique been of benefit to you?

97% would recommend the Bowen Technique to others and
97% said they benefitted from having Bowen therapy.

A recent article in Saga magazine offers more evidence and personal experience that highlights how mysterious our body is and how Bowen can work with it to benefit our physical health. It may be gentle, you may hardly notice the work the therapist is doing. But it offers an alternative to more traditional and potentially invasive therapies, so why not find out more?

Kate Weeks Bowen TechniqueKate Weeks
Cert. ECBS MFHT MBTPA
01823 338968 07721 462096
www.kateweeksbowen.com

Breathing-space for your Brain – the science of mindfulness

 

mindfulness-at-work-compBy Celia Kozlowski – science writer

Celia Kozlowski is a freelance science writer and editor based in Somerset who completed the Mindfulness-based stress reduction training at The Terrace in Taunton and has written, through the ‘scientific lens’, how mindfulness works.

The World War II slogan is everywhere these days—tee shirts, mugs,: Keep Calm and Carry On . But how do we do that amidst a high-stress life? A popular answer is “Mindfulness.”

The U.S. Marines are testing mindfulness to help soldiers function better under fire. Studies suggest mindfulness training may help prevent or improve recovery from combat’s emotional traumas.

Google’ Inc.’s headquarters — a high-stress workplace–has offered employees mindfulness since 2005. Their “Search Inside Yourself” improves workers’ performance, productivity, relationships, and job satisfaction while lowering stress, absenteeism, and employee turnover.

Scientific reports on Mindfulness show it can help people with a range of health challenges – anxiety, depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, insomnia.

Mindfulness can ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, eating disorders, hypochondria, mental fatigue following stroke, and recovery from substance abuse. Data show Mindfulness improves quality of life after treatment for breast cancer and blocked arteries.

The teacher at The Terrace, Psychotherapy and Complementary Health Centre, Dr Miranda Bevis, a former NHS doctor, told us her first exposure to Mindfulness was through her late husband. As he coped with motor neurone disease, he tried Mindfulness, which transformed his experience of the rest of his life.

Scientists are starting to understand how Mindfulness works. By studying the brains of Mindfulness practitioners, researchers detected changes in structure and function supporting theories that could explain the benefits. These suggest Mindfulness reshapes the brain for better control in sorting out emotions and signals from the body – like pain.

Instead of reacting automatically, a brain toned by Mindfulness chooses more deliberately what impulses get attention, and then crafts a healthy response. But there IS a catch. To realize the benefits of Mindfulness, you have to keep practicing.

Miranda Bevis Mindfulness Groups

Dr Miranda Bevis

The Terrace is running taster sessions Tuesday 9th April 6.30pm and Wednesday 10th April 9.15 with Dr Miranda Bevis. Book on 01823 338968, email post@the-terrace.co.uk
http://www.the-terrace.co.uk