Breathing is the rhythm of life: breathing into Autumn

The following article is adapted from the book Qigong Through the Seasons by Ronald H. Davis.

The practice of Qigong Through the Seasons is designed to harmonize the health of your internal organs with the seasonal energetic changes of nature.
Autumn is the time to give special attention to the Lungs. Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment and yet most of us are unaware of how we breathe and have lost our innate connection to the breath cycle. We, therefore, often fail to completely benefit from the power of correct breathing.

The Source of Qi
Breathing stands out as our quintessential rhythmic interaction with the world; lungs function as a permeable interface between each of us and everything else. The lungs are yin organs that receive air from the outside world, extract its healthy components and send them downward to the lower dan tian, the primary energy center of the abdomen, to be combined with the nutrients of food. That fusion of air’s vitality and food’s energy produces our greatest quantity of qi. In ancient times, the word ‘qi’ primarily had the meaning of ‘vital breath’ emphasizing that our indispensable energy comes from breathing.

Astonishingly, the lungs eliminate seventy percent of the body’s waste products. This makes exhalation a hugely significant detoxifying activity. We must completely exhale so that the respiratory system can flush out toxins and debris; only then can we receive a full complement of fresh air on the next inhalation. Stress, fear, anger, and doubt are the main emotional states that interfere with a healthy exhalation. Many people subconsciously don’t let go of the breath—they feel like they must hold on to that last bit of air, otherwise they may expire. The ability to completely let go of the breath often relates to issues of trust and relaxation.

The correct practice of qigong creates mental tranquility and thus will profoundly enhance healthy breathing by relaxing the lungs and allowing them to freely function. The following exercise, White Healing Mist, is the most important qigong exercise to do during the autumn season. It uses mental intention, body movement, and regulated breathing to purify and strengthen the lungs.

White Healing Mist Exercise
This graceful neigong (internal qigong) exercise fills the lungs with fresh qi while cleansing them of turbid qi. The intent of the mind uses detailed imagery of pure and impure qi. The movement of the hands leads the qi into and out of each lung. The ‘white healing mist’ can be any personal image that conveys a sense of purity, freshness, tranquility and healing. The ‘toxins’ can be not only respiratory debris but also cloudy, unhealthy thoughts. As the interface between internal and external worlds, the lungs command our self-defense system. When doing this practice, you may want to identify those healthy and unhealthy aspects of your life. Then you can nurture the good with the white mist, and purge the bad along with the toxins. Do this exercise slowly with focused concentration on one lung at a time. The unilateral emphasis is unusual since most qigong exercises are done for both lungs simultaneously, but that special concentration on one lung at a time increases the concentration of qi, which makes this a very powerful healing exercise. You can do this for the common chest cold and for all serious diseases of the lungs.
Begin with feet close together, hands crossed and touching the chest over the lungs. The right hand is over the left lung and the left hand is over the right lung.

Take a slow, relaxed breath and think of your lungs there under your hands. Make a mental connection between your hands and your lungs.

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Step to the side with the left foot.

Inhale, shift weight to the left leg so that the left lung is lined up over the left knee. At the same time, open the arms and slowly, swing the hands forward and then laterally out until the arms are extended to the side with fingers up and the palms facing away from the body. Left knee is bent, right knee is straight.

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Think of inhaling a white healing mist into the left lung only.

Exhale, step back to center with the left foot, straighten knees, the hands return to the chest, cross them so that the right hand is touching over the left lung. The left hand touches over the right lung.

Think of exhaling grey smoky toxins from the left lung only. Although both hands are touching your chest, your focused intention goes to the left lung only.

Repeat for the right lung by stepping to the right, etc. Do 8 repetitions, alternating left and right.

The complete set of Autumn Qigong exercises, along with suggested foods and herbs for seasonal health, are fully described and illustrated in chapter 8 of Qigong Through The Seasons.

Ronald H. Davis is an acupuncturist and chiropractor. He has been practicing Qigong since 1986 and is the founder of The Health Movement, a group of classes and educational materials designed to improve a person’s wellbeing through the use of traditional and complementary healthcare methods. Ronald offers classes in Qigong, Taiji and spinal healthcare and lives in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

 

How to develop Chinese massage techniques

9780956293008This extract from Chinese Massage Manual by Sarah Pritchard shows how to practice some of the key techniques of Tui na. Beginners should try out the movements on a rice bag before attempting to use them on patients. The author took 3 months to learn the first technique and a further 6 months of daily practice before she was competent to use it on the human body!

Read the extract…

Sarah Pritchard was one of the first Westerners to practice Tui na in the UK. She trained in both the UK and in Nanjing, China, and has been working as a professional Tui na practitioner and acupuncturist since 1994. She is the Tui na course co-ordinator and senior lecturer at the City College of Acupuncture, and the founder and director of Blackheath Complementary Health Centre, London. She is the chair and a founder member of the UK Register of Tui na Chinese Massage.

Emotional Freedom Techniques – an interview with Lawrence Pagett

When did you first become interested in EFT?

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Many years ago I witnessed my next door neighbour in his garden tapping furiously on top of his head and I wondered what on earth he was doing. He enthusiastically told me about Gary Craig the founder of EFT and rushed us into his house to give me one of Gary’s introductory training DVDs explaining the EFT basic recipe and how to conduct an EFT round. In fact, he insisted that we watch the DVD together there and then.  I was impressed by Craig’s presentation. I was also fascinated that this simple tapping procedure was said to be able to treat a wide range of serious conditions such as traumas in a matter of minutes. Sometime later I visited a fellow hypnotherapist friend who told me that he was a big fan of EFT and he successfully used tapping to treat all his clients’ fears and phobias.

What inspired you write a book about EFT?

In 2012 I had the opportunity to train with Dr Silvia Hartmann in Advanced forms of EFT and to gain the Master Practitioner in EFT I ended up writing a staggering 60,000 words. Additionally, I did plenty of hands on EFT on myself, my family, friends, my cat and clients. To write a book about EFT seemed the most natural next step so I approached Singing Dragon and within two hours they had accepted. I was excited because it had always been a lifelong ambition of mine to be an author. To get a book deal from a highly acclaimed international publisher like Singing Dragon seemed fitting and miraculous. I was overjoyed!

Why did you co-write it with Paul?

For lots of great reasons. If I had written it solo, then it may have turned out as a subjective account – EFT according to Energist Lawrence Pagett; whereas bringing in a writer, like Paul from a non-therapy background, to my mind gives the book depth bringing with it a wider perspective.

Paul, how did you first hear about EFT and why did you want to help write this book?

It was when Lawrence was doing his course. He came round one evening to try doing some EFT with me and within seconds of my first round of tapping I was in a state of ecstasy and bliss! It was then that I realised how incredibly powerful and amazing EFT could be. I wanted to write the book with Lawrence because I could see from my own profound experience how life changing EFT can be and it seemed to fit so well with my own personal spiritual beliefs.

What is so special about this book?

That’s a great question: The book is a must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in learning about, or advancing their EFT skills. Principles of EFT works on many levels. It is written by two writers, one from an educational and therapy background, the other from a more left brained orientation (Paul is a qualified accountant). Both are on the frontier in terms of spirituality. The book is well researched and has a plethora of tapping techniques for the reader to try EFT out for themselves – It is also humorous in places and contains within its pages an energy that lovingly takes the reader by the hand and leads them throughout their EnergyEFT adventure.

What do you consider to be the most important part of the book?

Chapter two is our “tour de force”, it is Pagett and Millward’s take on the deficiencies of the western scientific world view and why the West has been so doggedly slow at grasping Eastern energy concepts like EFT. Our notions around spirituality seep deep within Principles of EFT and serve as a backdrop for the spiritually aspiring reader to grasp concepts of Enlightenment. We suggest, as Dr Hartmann asserts, that EFT can be used to help take mankind to the next level of development and beyond. If Dr Hartmann’s contribution to EFT is EnergyEFT, then our contribution is SpiritualEFT.

That sounds fascinating, if not a little highbrow?

Whilst Principles of EFT is accessible to everyone, those that will appreciate it the most are likely to be more spiritually discerning. Some of the concepts might be challenging for the western mind to fully grasp; yet as we have already mentioned it’s a fun and easy read too. As Silvia Hartmann says “EFT should never be dour!”

Finally, what is the future for EFT?

It is our hope and prayer that people will enjoy and gain tremendous value and insight from Principles of EFT. EFT has traditionally been concerned with remedial EFT. The future lies with Silvia Hartmann’s positive EFT and a further exploration of what we call spiritual EFT – moving people into the bliss and bringing people to enlightenment.

To find out more about Principles of EFT, visit the Singing Dragon website.

Singing Dragon attends the annual British Acupuncture Council conference

The annual British Acupuncture Council conference, this year held for the first time in Daventry in Northamptonshire, took place on 26-28 September and was a great success.

Franglen, NoraEckman, Peter (photo by Marina Chentsova Eckman)This was my first trip to the conference representing Singing Dragon as Senior Commissioning Editor and I was thrilled with our strong presence at the conference and to witness the real buzz around our books, particularly those authored by conference speakers. Our authors Peter Eckman and Nora Franglen spoke at the conference; Nora delivering the Keynote lecture on Saturday and Peter delivering a two-part lecture on ‘Resonance and spirit’. This was Peter’s first visit to the UK since 1997 so it was a privilege to hear him speak and the British Acupuncture Council were delighted to welcome him to conference.

Kevin Durjan, Conference Manager, said last year that he was trying to bring back the spiritual side of acupuncture to the BAcC and this was clearly evident in the choice of the theme of ‘Shen‘ for this year’s conference. The lectures, sessions and workshops ranged from very practical sessions with skills which practitioners could immediately take back to their practice (Andy Harrop’s wonderful two-part ‘The treatment of scars using Japanese acupuncture’ is a prime example) to excellent insights into classical theory relating to spirit (Peter Eckman’s talks, and those of Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee).

Buck, CharlesBuck_Acupuncture-and_978-1-84819-159-4_colourjpg-webSinging Dragon’s expansive book list was commented on by many visiting the stand and we sold many books, particularly Peter Eckman’s The Compleat Acupuncturist, Nora Franglen’s series on Five Element Acupuncture, and of course Charles Buck’s new book Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Singing Dragon sponsored the wine reception on Saturday evening and we had a fantastic book launch of Charles Buck’s book. Charles and I enjoyed introducing the book to all those assembled in the evening sunshine and he then signed copies afterwards. The book is an accessible and engaging journey through the history of Chinese medicine that explains how modern practice has evolved and, importantly, reminds us that it will continue to evolve and adapt to modern circumstances.

As Charles says in his introduction, ‘We will see that classical Chinese medicine is really not a single tradition but the constant reinterpretation and adjustment of classical doctrine to meet the changing clinical challenges of different times, and yet supported by the structure that the ancient truisms gave‘.

By Claire Wilson, Senior Commissioning Editor for Singing Dragon

An Introduction to the Bowen Technique – extract from Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions

Wilks-Knight_Using-the-Bowen_978-1-84819-167-9_colourjpg-printIn this extract, John Wilks and Isobel Knight provide an introduction into the history and general usage of The Bowen Technique using a very unusual metaphor.

Read the extract…

Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions is available from the Singing Dragon website.

Singing Dragon New and Bestselling titles Autumn-Winter 2014 and 2015

This fully interactive brochure has all of the new Singing Dragon titles for the Autumn and Winter of 2014 as well upcoming titles for 2015. In here you will find books on Chinese medicine, complementary therapies, martial arts, nutrition, yoga, ayurveda, qigong, Daoism, aromatherapy, and many more alternative therapies and ancient wisdom traditions.


Click on the covers or titles to be taken to the book’s page on the Singing Dragon website. If you would like to request hard copies please email hello@singingdragon.com with your details and the number of copies you would like.

An interview with Jennifer Peace Rhind on combating stress with aromatherapy

In this interview, Jennifer Peace Rhind, author of ‘Listening to Scent‘, ‘Essential Oils‘, ‘Fragrance and Wellbeing‘, and ‘A Sensory Journey‘, discusses the power and use of essential oils. An interesting read for both aromatherapists and anyone interested in aromatherapy and scent.

More information on any of Jennifer’s books can be found on the Singing Dragon website.

Why is scent so effective for changing our mood? What is the relation between scent and the brain? Why do essential oils particularly have such an influence on our brain and emotions?

Jennifer Peace Rhind

Historically, the use of scent to elicit specific responses is integral to many cultures and life practices; and this is also central to contemporary aromatherapy practices. Odours must be able to evaporate – or exist in vapour form. Once in the atmosphere, odorous molecules are detected by our olfactory organ, thin membranes covered in tiny olfactory hairs, which lie at either side of the bony part of the nasal septum. This extends to the olfactory bulb, the olfactory nerve and the olfactory pathway, which transmits these olfactory signals to the brain. Olfactory neurons project to the limbic system, which is associated with emotions, memories, motivations and pleasure, but where there is no conscious control. However, the neurons also project to the thalamus where sensory integration occurs, the hypothalamus , which monitors and maintains bodily functions; the amygdala, the seat of basic emotion; the hippocampus which is associated with memory; and to the frontal cortex, where recognition of the odour occurs. The frontal cortex is concerned with organising and planning, and the executive, logical and social decisions are made at the prefrontal cortex. When you consider the olfactory connections with these areas, it is unsurprising that scents have such a profound influence on us. Studies have shown that odours can have their effects via several mechanisms – their molecules can act directly and have a pharmacological effect, for example the sedating effect of lavender. However, because we usually experience odours in life situations, smells and memories become inextricably linked, so each smell carries an emotional memory – which can lead to physiological changes, and can influence our conscious responses and behaviour. Additionally, our state of pleasure or displeasure on experiencing an odour will affect our reactions – and this type of response can be influenced by our cultural experiences and learned behaviour. Our expectations can also influence the outcome of exposure to odours – if we believe that rosemary will enhance our memory, then it probably will! The placebo mechanism is present in aromatherapy too!

What traditional use of oils for relaxation do we know about? i.e. I read flower remedies were used by the Aborigines for thousands of years for relaxation?

There are numerous examples, across cultures and ages – and far too many to mention here! One of the earliest examples can be seen in murals in northern Sahara, dating back to 5000BCE, depicting women wearing garlands of flowers.

In ancient Egypt, the scent of the blue lotus was used for its narcotic effects, and to induce an altered state of consciousness at ceremonies and feasts. The ancient Minoans of Crete used lilies, roses and saffron for relaxation, pleasure and healing. The rose and its scent was loved by many peoples across the ages – Cleopatra famously used it in her seduction of Mark Antony; in the Roman Empire there was a feast (Rosalia) to celebrate the flower and its fragrance; and to the Sufis, the rose symbolised spiritual attainment; meditation in rose gardens was practiced. Josephine, the consort of Napoleon Bonaparte was well known for her love of roses and their scent, but she also popularised patchouli – imported with her Kashmir shawls, where the dried leaves repelled insects.

Garlands of scented flowers, such as jasmine and champaca, as well as aromatic oils have been used in India for thousands of years – for relaxation, wellbeing and healing. In Ayurveda, the beautiful scented frangipani flowers (Plumeria species) are used to calm fear and anxiety, and to treat tremors and insomnia. Sandalwood is used in Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine – to lighten and cool the mind, aid concentration, and reduce anxiety and alleviate insomnia. Vetiver was and is used to cool the mind and improve concentration. It is really interesting to see just how many of these aromatics remain important in contemporary aromatherapy. I love the way that aromatics can connect us with the past – times may have changed, but scents are constant!

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You’re a qualified aromatherapist and you practised as a therapist for 13 years – did a lot of your clients come to see you for help with stress? Is this an increasing problem?

It would be reasonable to say that the vast majority of my clients were stressed – and it manifested in many ways. Some were more aware of the debilitating effects of chronic stress than others, and some sought help when dealing with the immediate effects of personal trauma. For example, I saw many individuals in professions that are considered to be stressful, but there were also many individuals who were in difficult personal relationships, carers, the bereaved, abused, or traumatised in many other ways. I was in professional practice from the late 1980’s until the late 1990’s, and until recently I mentored student aromatherapists undertaking supervised clinical practice. I cannot say for sure that stress is an increasing problem, but stress and mental health awareness has certainly increased since the 1980’s.

We tend to think of popular oils like chamomile and lavender for relaxation – are there any types of oils that are less publicised that people should try? (but still need to stick to H&B sold ones) frankincense, sandalwood?

For relaxation purposes, there is a very wide selection of essential oils and absolutes to choose from – and you should really trust your nose and instincts. If you are strongly attracted to a scent, then that is most likely the best one for you at that moment in time! Some suggestions are sandalwood, which is often used to instil a calm state of mind, focus and clarity, and also to aid meditation, or  ylang ylang ‘extra’ which is relaxing, and can free inhibitions and ‘stuck’ emotions – it can even induce a state of euphoria. Clary sage, with its distinctive herbal scent, can have pronounced relaxing effects, and like ylang ylang it is regarded as a euphoric oil – and it certainly merits further investigation regarding its antidepressant potential. All of the citrus peel oils are useful for lifting the spirits while eliciting calmness, as well as the better known sweet orange, mandarin, lemon, lime and grapefruit you might like to try yuzu, combava peel or cedrat. Studies have revealed that bergamot is very useful for alleviating depression and stress, and that sweet orange has ‘acute’

anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) activity. Coriander seed oil is another useful oil for anxiety relief, but in this case we also witness memory-enhancing potential. Some scents such as jasmine are stimulating, but can also be used very successfully for relaxation purposes – they can enhance focus and coordination, while improving mood and self-esteem. Rose is a harmonising scent – comforting and relaxing, but not sedating as lavender and chamomile.

Can oils be mixed together to make your own stress-busting scent?

‘Yes, and the creative aspect of this is therapeutic in its own right, because as we focus on our sense of smell, other distractions are put aside! It is best to build your scent around one oil that you are drawn to, and complement different facets of its fragrance with other oils. For example, the sweetness and softness of rose is e

nhanced by sandalwood. Experimenting is all part of learning what works for you. However, you might like to  try bergamot, ylang ylang and lavender – research revealed that this combination reduced physiological responses to stress (such as serum cortisone levels and blood pressure) in patients with essential hypertension.

 

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What’s the best way to use oils to beat stress?

Evaporating them in your personal space, inhaling them from an ‘aroma-stick’ or a blotter (an absorbent card) , using them in the shower or bath, and certainly in aromatherapy massage.

Does it depend on the oil as to how it’s best applied?  i.e. carrier oil and burner, but which other methods are effective – spritzing some on your pressure points – are there particular points that are good – i.e. the area between your eyebrows as in Ayurveda – ‘the place of stillness’? Massaging some on yourself?  

Some essential oils are skin irritants and sensitisers. You might find that, for example, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon or clove would cause skin and mucous membrane irritation in your bath or shower, and even evaporating large amounts potentially could cause irritation to the eyes and sinuses and airways. All essential oils and absolutes, and most importantly the irritant oils, must be diluted in a vegetable oil carrier if they are going to be applied to the skin. For personal use, make sure that you read any safety information from a reputable aromatherapy text or your supplier before using them.

Although a professional massage is recommended, it is certainly possible to prepare your own massage oil, or use a commercially prepared product for self-massage. Self-administered massage is really limited to the abdomen (always clockwise, sweeting strokes), arms and hands, and face. There are a few acupressure points that you can use during facial massage, by pressing firmly and releasing pressure, rhythmically, for a few moments. These include the points on the midline at the hairline and between your eyebrows, the outer points of your eyebrows, and on the upper and lower parts of your cheekbones. Several studies have suggested that the use of essential oils can enhance the effects of other practices, including massage of many types (e.g. therapeutic and remedial, acupressure). For example, aromatherapy massage can stimulate the immune system in comparison with massage alone, and the use of lavender oil in ‘shirodhara’ (where sesame oil is dripped over the ‘third eye’) enhances the state of altered consciousness which this practice produces.

Which everyday smells should we be more aware of that can help us beat stress i.e. freshly cut grass, flowers, bakes bread – should we take more time to stop and be more mindful of aromas? Do you think this is key to putting us in relaxation mode, to bringing more relaxation into our days – are we effectively shutting out senses down in 21st century living because we’re so busy mindlessly rushing through life?

It is my belief that engaging with scents in the natural world is a profoundly enjoyable and healing experience, and possibly essential for optimum health. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates as ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ , or ‘forest bathing’, has many health-enhancing benefits, not least in stress reduction and alleviation of depression. Research at the Duftgarten (fragrant garden) at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna has shown that the scents of blooming plants increased calmness and alertness, even at night when the visual impact was reduced. Yes, we should certainly make the time to experience the wonderful fragrances that surround us – there is little doubt that this practice improves our wellbeing! Try smelling fresh culinary herbs in the garden or at a plant nursery, or the amazing scents of dried herbs and spices as you are cooking. When you smell essential oils and absolutes – do so with awareness and enquiry. You might even like to meditate on scent. All of these activities can awaken the senses, aid alertness, or stabilise, enhance or modify our moods, decrease anxiety and tension, or evoke memories.

Are there any new developments in aromatherapy? What will it look like i n the future? More advanced make up, new types of oils?

We are seeing better ways to deliver aromas, such as ‘aromasticks’, and also some ‘patches’ designed to deliver essential oils through the skin. In the short history of modern aromatherapy, the profession has come a long way – despite criticism from orthodox health care practitioners and some members of the scientific and academic communities. However, it is perceived in many ways – from a luxurious pampering treat to a quasi-medical treatment, and aromatherapy practitioners are found in expensive spas and salons, complementary healthcare clinics, and as volunteers in for example care homes and hospices. Aromatherapy might be seen as the preserve of those who can afford to pay, and paradoxically of such little value that health services will not pay for it! I do not know what will happen in the future – that is probably in the hands of the educators, the practitioners and those who make the rules about the profession and the use of essential oils and other plant aromatics! I believe that important factors in its future are the willingness to build on the evidence base, maintain a fundamentally holistic approach, and embrace the diversity of practices. We need to remember that aromatherapy is a unique healing modality – the only one that is based on the therapeutic use of aromatic oils and the sense of smell.There are many ‘new’ essential oils coming on the market – some have been well-researched researched, others less so – and they will without doubt find  their niche in aromatherapy and phytocosmetology. Some examples are Fragonia, Perilla (shiso mint), and Anthopogon (rhododendron); and there are many beautiful variants of old favourites such as rose becoming more readily available.’need to remember that aromatherapy is a unique healing modality – the only one that is based on the therapeutic use of aromatic oils and the sense of smell.

More information on any of Jennifer Peace Rhind’s books can be found on the Singing Dragon website.

A shorter version of this interview was published in ‘Healthy’ magazine 2014.

Request a copy of our 2014 Singing Dragon new and bestselling books

SD logo 300 x 300 pixelsOur brand new catalogue of books and resources from will be available soon.

Click here to sign up for a free copy.

Our new catalogue has essential new titles from Charles Buck (Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: Roots of Modern Practice) and Clare Harvey (The Practitioner’s Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies).

This is a great opportunity for parents to get a hold of Damo Mitchell’s newest book, The Four Dragons as well as Ioannis Solos’ Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice.

There are useful new resources for every practice like Getting Better at Getting People Better by Noah Karrasch, and the new fully updated edition of A Guide to Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility Type) by Isobel Knight.

To request a copy of the catalogue please click here.

Click this link to see more forthcoming books from Singing Dragon.

Improve patient’s experience through relationship-building – interview with Jane Wood

Jane Wood

Jane Wood has been involved in reflective practice for the last 20 years.  She is a supervisor and teacher of reflective practice at the University of Westminster and is the head

of practitioner development and reflective practice at the International School of Homeopathy, London.

Jane Wood’s new book The Compassionate Practitioner is now available from Singing Dragon. This handbook, full of practical tips and supportive advice, explains how best to enhance the client’s experience through compassion and mindfulness. This book will be a valued support for anyone working in private practice.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have been teaching the practitioner-patient relationship to students at college and at the University of Westminster for nearly 20 years. At the same time, I have been supervising qualified alternative practitioners and seen their struggles to build up a private practice. Many practitioners talked about the same issues in supervision: their patients were demanding, impatient or simply didn’t return. The practitioners needed to find a way to create trust, loyalty and staying power. They could do this if they improved the patient’s experience during the consultation. I realized I was in a position to write a book that takes the practitioner through every stage of the consultation, giving them lots of practical advice on how to create a healing relationship with the patient – and gain a flourishing practice.

 

Why is relationship building so important for people working in private practice?

I strongly believe that relationship building is vitally important for everyone in the caring professions whether they are alternative practitioners, counsellors and therapists or traditional doctors, nurses and consultants. Unfortunately, most orthodox practitioners do not have the time available to do much relationship building, leaving both the practitioner and the patient feeling dissatisfied and rushed. Many alternative practitioners such as homeopaths, acupuncturists, and body workers have longer sessions with their patients, which allow them more time to work on the relationship.

On the surface, making an effort to improve the experience for the patient will increase their trust and loyalty to the practitioner, but it is more than this. When the practitioner takes time to make the patient feel safe and appreciated, the patient can start to relax and explain themselves better; which in turn enables the practitioner to give a better treatment.

The added bonus for anyone in private practice, is that once there is a good relationship, the patient will help build up the practice by referring other people.

There are many different ways in which the practitioner can improve their patients’ experiences. One way is consider the clinic environment. I suggest that practitioners take five or ten minutes to sit in the patient’s chair, quieting their mind by focusing on the breath. Once they are quiet and relaxed, they can bring themselves into the present moment and use all of their senses to assess the clinic room. What is the feel of the chair they are sitting in? Is it comfortable? What is the room temperature? What smells are there?  Can they hear the receptionist or another therapist working in the next room? If so, does this impact on confidentiality?

 

What can practitioners do to improve their patients’ experiences?

The appearance of the room will make a big difference to the patient. If the practitioner is behind a desk they will feel more secure, but the patient will feel distanced. What do the patient’s eyes rest on when they are not talking? Considering the clinic room through the senses will give the practitioner a taste of what the patient experiences. They then need to consider what they can do to improve the current environment.

Another suggestion for improving the patient’s experience is that the practitioner should explain to the patient what will happen during the consultation. This is called ‘signposting’ and should be done at the beginning of the session. It can be very brief, such as, ‘I’m going to invite you to talk about yourself and your problem for the first twenty minutes, and then I’ll give you a treatment which takes about thirty minutes. You’ll need to take off your shoes and get onto the treatment couch. After the treatment we’ll see how you feel.” Once this has been clarified, the patient knows what to expect and can relax.

 

How can practitioners maintain balance in their work and avoid burnout?

Being a practitioner and listening to many patients talking about themselves is a great privilege and helping them can be deeply rewarding.  But sometimes the price is too high. There are several different causes of burnout, including working for very long hours, anxiety about patients or unconsciously taking on the patients’ negative emotions. The last one occurs mainly when there is a long time spent face-to-face with the patient, such as for counsellors, therapists or homeopaths. Our brains are programmed to read other people’s body language and facial expressions, so that we can empathise or feel their emotions.

The patient’s emotions can be directly experienced by the practitioner who might carry home a patient’s anger or depression. An awareness of this will help them consciously make more breaks in eye contact, and change their own body language more often so they don’t unconsciously mirror the patient so much.

Another way to avoid burnout is to make sure the practitioner has enough personal time to have fun and relax. This might sound obvious but when a single practitioner is running a private practice, they have to be their own marketing manager, record keeper and accountant and this all takes time. The practitioner needs to balance the intense work in the clinic with care for themselves, physically, mentally and emotionally.

 

You write a lot about self-reflection. Who do you think should do it and why do think it’s important?

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Self-reflection is a process of self-examination, of thinking seriously about your own character or actions. In the caring professions this will mean exploring something about the practitioner-patient relationship in order to understand it in more depth and decide what can be done to improve it. It is not nearly as effective if it is done within the limitations of the practitioners mind, and much better if it’s done out loud in front of a colleague or supervisor, or written into a self-reflective journal. If something went well, the practitioner can make a note of it so that they can repeat it. If it didn’t go well they can analyse why and plan how to change things next time. As I see it, all practitioners should be doing self-reflection. Their learning taught them how to work with the average patient. Experience shows them that patients are anything but average and everyone is very different. Self-reflection raises the standards of the practitioner and everyone gains from it: the practitioner, the patient, the clinic and the profession in general.

 

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The Spark of Life – extract from The Spark in the Machine

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In this chapter, Daniel Keown offers up a fascinating account of how the human body works in relation to electrical currents.
Keown explores the ‘super substance’ collagen, electrical currents that mimic the Qi flowing along channels, and the intelligent energy that regrows broken bones.

Read the extract…

“This book is a must read for anyone that has ever wondered how Acupuncture might work. Daniel Keown, a Western medical doctor and Acupuncturist, has managed to stylishly bridge the gap between ancient Chinese medicine theory and Western medical science which is no small feat. He explains complex ideas with elegant simplicity and provides case studies to bring some of the ideas to life. This should be on the curriculum for both Acupuncturists and Western medical students. This book is thoughtfully written and raises stimulating ideas for future work in this area.”
– Amazon customer review

The Spark in the Machine by Daniel Keown is available to buy from the Singing Dragon website