The Presence of Peace: Breathing Calmly Amidst Holiday Stress

Julie Dunlop, author of Ocean of Yoga: Meditations on Yoga and Ayurveda for Balance, Awareness, and Well-Being shares tips on breathing calmly amidst holiday stress.

Are you one of those people who tries to “get through” the holidays? What would it take for you to shift to “moving through” the holidays or “experiencing” the holidays rather than just trying to get through them? Although the difference in this wording is somewhat subtle, it can be significant as we shift from survival mode into a more holistic acceptance of the process of being present—mind, body, and soul—for the holidays.The glow of Christmas trees, menorahs, and Diwali candles, along with many other images and traditions from richly diverse cultures, light our way through the holidays each year. Along with the beauty of holiday decorations and celebrations, however, often comes a fair amount of stress. This could be financial stress or the stress of physical exhaustion from simply trying to keep up with all of the extra events. It could also be emotional stress due to an injury or illness, challenging family dynamics, or grief from the loss of a loved one. Pause for a moment and check in: On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your current stress level? Breathe. Look around you. Then, look within. Is there any crisis taking place in the current moment, or is the stress generating from within? Feel the soft rhythm of your inhale and exhale washing through you with grace.

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A Tip for Practicing Meditation to Improve Physical and Mental Wellbeing

The below video tip is taken from Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond by Julian Daizan Skinner, Foreword by Shinzan Miyamae

Using a system established by the ancestors of the Rinzai tradition of Zen, Practical Zen presents specific meditation practices in a practical and engaging way that will enable readers to live a grounded, strong, energetic life:

To learn more about Practical Zen, visit our website.

 

How Increasing Self-Awareness Can Unlock Your Creative Potential

Galvanizing Performance, a new release from August, is an application of the teachings of the Alexander Technique to the performing arts. This collection demonstrates how deliberate movement and specific practice in theatre, music, song and dance can improve the art form, as well as the artist’s wellbeing.

We have an extract from the book, in which you can read about how increasing self-awareness can increase self-confidence and lead to an unlocking of creative potential.

Read the extract here.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


More Books Like This

The Energetic Performer

Amanda Brennan

New anatomical and physiological knowledge is combined with eastern energy techniques and traditional actor training methods as the basis for this pioneering approach to actor training. Practical exercises extend understanding of the somatic systems and how to create flexible bodies for truthful performances.

Click here to read more.

How can reflexology help children?

Susan Quayle, author of the ‘Mouse’ series, spoke to us to discuss her background in reflexology, the concept behind her books and how the practice of reflexology can help children.

 

Susan, you’ve been a reflexologist for a number of years. How did you discover reflexology?

I actually believe that reflexology discovered me, despite my resistance to it.

I first came across it at a green festival in Dorset. I tried it and found it extremely relaxing. At the time I was a hardcore horticulturalist, plants were my passion, but I did buy Laura Norman’s book and was fascinated with the whole idea.

Shortly after this my sister-in-law became pregnant and suffered very badly with Hyperemisis Gravidarum and my first step on the road to becoming a maternity reflexologist, unbeknownst to me, was when I would visit her and give her the treatment for morning sickness from Laura’s book. It always made her feel better.

 

It was another ten years before I retrained in massage therapy and followed this training with sports massage. Unfortunately, the sports massage tutor wasn’t very good and we all felt that we would never get through the exam or have the required knowledge to work in this field so we left en-mass. The only other course that was running was the reflexology diploma, which I was very unsure about joining. Fortunately I did and came to realise very quickly what an incredible therapy it is. I have trained in many therapies but reflexology has been the focus of my career followed closely by aromatherapy.

 

What do you think it is about reflexology that is so beneficial for children’s physical and mental well-being?

I have seen reflexology totally relax children, almost instantly; their eyes glaze and have a far away look in them and it happens very quickly if the child is in need of the treatment.

Reflexology promotes a profoundly deep relaxation that often feels like a switch being flicked and a part of you just sinks into a deep restfulness. It is during this deep rest and quiet space that the body is able to begin a healing response.

Children are open to new experiences and engage fully, when they feel safe and comfortable, which enables them to reach this place of healing and relaxation very quickly. As they are so young and untainted by life-long indulgences their body can rebalance quickly and often does.

Every day our children are put under more and more pressure to perform, conform and do well. Their physical and mental health is constantly under threat and children with supportive families are just as likely as those without to be prescribed drugs for depression now.

Complementary therapies are an important part of family life. In so many cultures around the world, where appropriate, nurturing touch is shared by the whole family not just given to the babies and young children.

Touch helps children to be more accepting of their body and the changes taking place, touch is an important part of being human and I think is particularly important for teenagers, who would accept it more readily if it had been part of their every day life delivered within the safety of a loving family.

 

Your new book (and the other books in your series) focuses around characters and a story to accompany a reflexology exercise. How did you find this process?

As with all processes that appear to arrive from nowhere, my first book had actually been many years in the making; deep inside my head where all the creativity is happening without me even really knowing about it.

Both my children were brought up with a love of books; we read to them every day and sang songs, our favourites were always the rhyming stories and songs. So it all began with Slinky Malinky, The Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale, Green Eggs and Ham and all those wonderful books for children. I have always been pretty good at putting little rhymes together for children’s cards and things so the rhyming was fixed a long time ago.

The actual ‘Eureka’ moment, like Archimedes, occurred in the bath, a great place for parents to get a moment’s peace and actually lose themselves in thoughts. I jumped out and wrote the first draft instantly, that was the effect of all those years of preparation in the hidden corners of my brain! Many months’ work followed but that very first draft took place on October 12th 2012. I have never been so excited or bewildered!

Once I had the idea it was only really a matter of allowing the story to develop in my head. I think I could come up with them forever!

 

What reaction have you had to your books so far?

The reaction to the books has been wonderful. They have been embraced by the reflexology community and have even won awards, along with The Children’s Reflexology Programme, (the teaching programme that now goes with them). I think it was such a unique and novel idea to put reflexology to a story and also to make this lovely, gentle complementary therapy available to children. Children have embraced it whole heartedly; they love the animal characters, finding the animals on their own feet but also sharing such healthy, positive touch with family and friends. Complementary therapy made accessible through play offers a positive understanding of issues relating to health, self care and nurturing, positive touch within families but also within communities.

 

How is Mouse and the Storm different from the other books in your series?

My latest book Mouse and the Storm differs from the first two in that it contains hand reflexology. The first two books use foot reflexology so are more about giving and receiving reflexology. Book three is about giving and receiving too, but it also focuses on self treatment. Mouse and the Storm was written specifically to support parents of children with additional needs and to go with our courses for these parents.

Being able to self treat offers many children who have challenges with day-to-day transitions, between places and activities, strategies to help them. It also allows children with sensitivity issues to take control of the pressure and touch that is used on them. We have seen some wonderful results with both the book and the course, and with these children loving and engaging with the animal characters too. We have had reports of children coming home from school and telling their parents how many times they visited Mouse that day.

 

Are there any challenges you have encountered when using reflexology with children?

Using reflexology with children can be as challenging as trying to get them to engage in anything else. It can take time to build a relationship with them, which can create some awkward moments! If a child doesn’t want reflexology the chances are that today you won’t be giving any. However if you are careful you may well sow the seeds that will allow you to treat them next time. Children are naturally curious and once they have made a connection with you they will put their trust in you and love to learn. You can’t force a child so really it is about releasing your own ego and making it all about the child. I had one little boy whose mum used to come to me for reflexology and I always gave him a bit too. He wouldn’t allow anyone to give him reflexology except me – he grew out of it soon enough and now gives his baby sister reflexology as well as his parents; he’s only five.

 

Lastly, what do you hope readers take away from your book?

My passion is reflexology. I wrote my books so that I could share the huge benefits of reflexology with as many families as I could. I hope that the next generation will grow up not only knowing what reflexology is but what it feels like to receive and what it feels like to give, and value it as a resource available to them with little cost or effort. Hopefully these children will grow up wanting to share these books with their own children and so pass their knowledge on to the next generation.

Reflexology is an experience, a powerful human connection on a deeply personal and nurturing level that I hope will resonate with every child that encounters it through my books at a young age. To value connection and humanity through our basic human need, touch, is a value worth instilling from as early an age as possible. Complementary therapies are a gentle way of bringing communities together in health, well being, nurture and caring. Our children need to grow up in the warm embrace of these life skills for their own good health and that of each other. Our families and communities need to reconnect on the most basic level. This is a part of what I hope my books can bring about.

 

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


To view the whole series by Susan Quayle, please click here.

Mouse and the Storm

A hand reflexology programme designed to relieve anxiety in children, accompanied by a soothing story about dealing with unexpected disruptions

 

Mouse’s Best Day Ever

A charming story about Mouse and her friends as they find fun on a stormy day with an accompanying simple reflexology treatment to help relieve discomfort from teething, constipation and colic

 

The Mouse’s House

An enchanting story about a mouse’s mission to make a cosy home for Winter with an accompanying simple reflexology massage for parents or carers to perform on a child

What is Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

Isobel Knight discusses new research, co-morbid conditions and management strategies for hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in this Q&A. Find Isobel Knight’s books on hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome here.

 

For those who are unaware, could you briefly describe what hypermobility is?

A hypermobile joint is one that has a larger than normal range of movement. If you look at the figure of the elbow picture below, the joint looks ‘inside out’. Hypermobile people tend to be people we consider ‘flexible’ or ‘bendy’, and as such there is a high prevalence of hypermobility in the dance and performing arts sectors.

Hypermobility can be generalized at a range of joints – for example knees and elbows, or sometimes found in peripheral joints (e.g. hands and feet). It is perfectly possible to have joint hypermobility and be asymptomatic, but for some people their hypermobility can cause pain, dislocations, soft-tissue injuries and there can be other findings – such as extensible and stretchy skin which might be more suggestible of a form of heritable connective tissue disorder such as hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

There are now new and strict diagnostic criteria in place to distinguish between those who have generalized or peripheral joint hypermobility through to those who have what is now called a Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) or hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). The diagnostic criteria that I discuss in my books refer to the old names of Hypermobility Syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility-Type or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Type III) – but although the name and diagnostic criteria have changed, the overall management strategies remain very much the same for these conditions.

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Why is the advice for treatment of the menopause so confusing?

menopause

In the midst of conflicting information surrounding HRT and the best ways to treat the symptoms of the menopause, author of The Menopause Maze, Liz Efiong – inspired by recent media inspection of the issue – weighs in.

Last year, Dr Megan Arroll and I published a book for women approaching and experiencing menopause entitled The Menopause Maze: The Complete Guide to Conventional, Complementary and Self-Help Options. We set out to write a book which would inform and empower women to visit their GPs and seek the help they needed. Our book was published after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) new guidelines at the end of 2015 and presents the very latest advice from menopause experts.

On the 23rd of February 2017, an hour long documentary called The Insiders’ Guide to the Menopause, became available on BBC iPlayer*. The programme was presented by Kirsty Wark, who herself went through the menopause following a hysterectomy and took HRT for 3 years until stopping abruptly in 2002, when the health scares surrounding the study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) were published. The results showed an increased risk of breast cancer for women taking HRT, which caused many women to stop taking HRT suddenly, often going cold-turkey without even consulting a medical professional. Women stopped asking their GPs for HRT, whilst GPs were also caught up in the safety issues and became less familiar with HRT.

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A Day in the Life of… an Intern at Singing Dragon

by James Safford

James SaffordAs both Emma and Jane have mentioned in previous posts, our work patterns at Singing Dragon/JKP can rarely be neatly packaged into what you might call a normal routine, and over the past few months I would say that routine has featured less for myself than any other member of staff. I have worked as a general intern here since the end of December, and because this entails assisting the full range of departments, I very rarely find myself doing the same work from one day to the next.

The day usually starts with a mug of coffee whilst I check through my e-mails. My e-mail account looks a little different to that of a full-time employee; whilst staff usually spend their time communicating with people outside the company – the freelance copyeditors and proofreaders managed by the production editorial department, the publications and journals who work closely with marketing, the printers who work with the production department, to name a few – I usually receive a steady stream of messages from people within the company. Editors may need a hand with research for a certain side of the list they wish to add to, which they will come to me for; marketing may need blog posts proofread, or copies of our books sent to reviewers; sales may ask for customer account information to be updated; or editorial assistants may ask for advance information materials, which contain blurbs, market information and author biographies, to be composed. After I’ve seen what I will be doing over the course of the day I can begin to set myself timeframes for each task.

I usually work on these tasks as and when they come in, but I also have a range of projects that I keep ticking over in the background. When I am based in the production department, there are always corrections to be made to InDesign files (the software we use to make our books look like actual books); this might include working on improving the quality of images used in the book, correcting text as marked up by proofreaders, or formatting the references. This has been particularly valuable for me, as someone who is interested in learning about editing, as it gives me a front-row seat to see how copyeditors and proofreaders work on books, how our house styles work, and what shape our commissioning editors want these books to take. Otherwise, I’ve been working with our production director, Octavia, to update a programme we use to catalogue our book data, called Biblio, and make it more user friendly. As there is no deadline for this task – the process will continue until the programme is fully tailored to what we do at Singing Dragon/JKP – we try to work on these projects whenever we have the time to spare.

When coming into publishing I had a fairly simple idea in my head as to how it all might work. I had imagined an industry which pined lethargically for its golden past, and what I found was one that is always thinking of new ways to be innovative with print, and that is trying to figure out how best to utilise digital. I enjoy the variety that being able to work across departments has afforded me, and I think that it is precisely because there isn’t, so to speak, a ‘day in the life’ of an intern here, that we are able to do so much interesting stuff. I get to see how our designers are working on the aesthetic of the Singing Dragon and JKP books, I get to see how the acquisitions department are building a diverse and award-winning list of books across the two imprints, I get to see how the company is planning to adapt to digital and how the marketing team are getting our books out.

So I suppose that’s how my day ends at 5.30, having done such a variety of stuff throughout the course of the day I spend the last few minutes summarising what I have done – I try to think, more precisely, about how I might do it better and quicker next time. Before arriving, I had been interested in experiencing the full spectrum of opportunities that this industry can offer, and to try and see what form those opportunities might take in ten years. This internship has given me the freedom to spend my days learning about the industry as a whole, and ensures that two days very rarely resemble one another. There are great opportunities to learn a large amount in a short space of time in publishing – I’m lucky enough to be able to spend my days asking people with big brains lots of questions and not be made to feel silly for it.

 

Writing about Living with Crohn’s Disease

By Kathleen Nicholls, author of Go Your Crohn Way

Living as I do with Crohn’s Disease and a myriad of other chronic illnesses, it can be exhausting just getting up in the morning. Without meaning to sound melodramatic, often everything is a struggle. Life is exhausting.

So when I can I like to do things to make it easier. Better. Less ‘all-about-illness’. Continue reading

The Story Behind ‘Embroidered Cancer Comic’ by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin

1

Here I am looking at my book, still holding the packaging.

 

It’s April 2016 here on Gabriola Island, British Columbia. The flowers are blooming, and I am looking for the first time at my new book, Embroidered Cancer Comic

“How did I come to write a comic?” I’m glad you asked. As soon as my husband Bob Bossin was diagnosed in 2011 with prostate cancer, we started making cancer jokes. Every time we could laugh about the situation, one of us would say, “That goes in the comic”.  At this stage the comic was completely imaginary.  But eventually I picked up my needle and stitched and stitched until I had over sixty embroidered squares… Continue reading