Yoga poses to help prepare the body for sleep

Yoga therapy offers a truly holistic approach to solving the growing problem of insomnia. In her new book, Yoga Therapy for Insomnia & Sleep Recovery, expert yoga therapist Lisa Sanfilippo explains how yoga practices can be used to target the underlying issues that inhibit good quality sleep, with immediate results that build over time.

Honouring a natural yogic and Ayurvedic approach, and infusing it with modern neuroscience, Lisa addresses the deeper emotional reasons for not sleeping well and looks at how lifestyle changes can help to achieve better quality rest. With the body-mind connection at its core, this book shows how to support better health holistically to restore balance in each layer of the body.

In the below video, Lisa demonstrates her favourite yoga poses from a sleep sequence to help you relax and prepare your body for sleep.

 

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Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine

CT Holman, M.S., L.Ac. discusses what motivated him to write, Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine: Integrated Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies.

“Having experienced emotional trauma as a child and as a young adult, I was motivated to delve deeply into the nature of spirit. Beginning with practicing meditation and then going to graduate school for Chinese medicine, the nature of balancing emotions intrigued me and inspired me to further study with several prominent teachers in the field of Chinese medicine and shamanism.

My teachers’ insights provided me with several tools to stabilize patients after they had experienced an emotional trauma. Once their energy was grounded, I could use techniques to soothe the triggering of the trauma memory and address their individual emotional/spirit imbalances. Through working with several patients to resolve emotional trauma, I discovered effective methods to transform trauma and enable the patient to step into their full potential.

After treating patients for emotional trauma for 15 years, I was asked to write a book,  Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine: Integrated Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies, detailing the various treatments and self-care methods I utilize in my clinic. The undertaking was a healing one for me and supported me to step more fully into my being.”

In the below video CT describes the etiology and three-staged treatment approach that is described in detail in his above textbook:

CT Holman teaches Chinese Medicine (including facial diagnosis, qigong, shamanic drumming and channel palpation) internationally and operates a thriving general family Chinese medicine clinic in Salem, Oregon, USA. For more information, visit www.redwoodspring.com.

Letting Go of Stress

Practical Zen for Health, Wealth and Mindfulness by Julian Daizan Skinner and Sarah Bladen is the new follow up to Practical Zen, which presents simple meditation techniques to help achieve health, wellbeing and success. We have an extract from the book, in which you can learn what stress is, how you can change your response to stress and how Zen meditation and mindfulness can reduce stress.

 

Click here to read the extract

 

Read more about the book, or buy a copy here.

 

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You may also be interested in…

Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond

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

Click here to read more about the book.

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.

 

Breathe in, Breathe out

The practice of yoga has many forms—postures practiced on a mat, intentionally shaping our thoughts and words and actions in ways that are beneficial to us and others, breathing fully most of the time, and working at being our best selves, which is sometimes harder than it may seem. How you create, share, make your space, live, and express yourself on a daily basis, is at the center of the practice of yoga.

By slowing down our breath and observing how we feel (our body, our energy, our state of mind), we can influence how we experience what is happening to us, around us, and discern our role within it. Good, bad, and gray in-between spaces have the potential to become something quite different, depending upon how we perceive them and view them in our mind’s eye, which most often emanates from how we are already feeling (on the inside). Ever notice when you are in a bad mood, it seems like you come in contact with nasty seeming people and other hindrances to your positive progression? Likewise, when you are feeling good, do you notice more people smiling at you when your eyes meet? Are you more aware of the happy coincidences that seem to fall like mountains at your feet?

Have you noticed what happens to your breathing when you are emotionally disturbed—upset, frightened, surprised, unhinged, sad? Often it gets shallow, short, and it can feel like you are inhaling and exhaling jagged puffs of air. Sometimes for a moment or two, you might stop breathing all together, like when you are concentrating deeply or taken by surprise. How do you breathe when you feel restful, relaxed, and carefree? It almost feels like there is an endless supply of air that flows like a gift, like mystery, in and out of your lungs, in and out of your body. Your breath might be slow and long, it might even undulate your belly gently.

When you are distracted or disconnected from yourself—who you perceive yourself to be within your roles, relationships, and responsibilities—there is no way you can relax, get calm, or feel peaceful. At its core, your yoga practice has the potential to connect you more fully to the stillness always inside of you.

Right now, where you are, begin to practice yoga by watching your breath for a few rounds of breathing: inhale, exhale, breathe in, breathe out. Where does your breath move in your torso, your chest, your rib cage, your belly? How does your breath feel as it flows in and out of your lungs? Are you consciously making yourself breathe or does it feel like your body is breathing you? Spend some quality time with your inhalation and exhalation; can you climb on them as they go up and down, can you lift lighter and fly freer?

Now that you’ve spent time observing how you breathe, deepen your breath practice. Try to regulate how your breath flows, affects, and strengthens you with this Three-Part Breathing exercise from Yoga Girls’ Club: Do Yoga, Make Art, Be You.

Three-Part Breathing

  • You will divide your breath into three parts as you breathe into your belly (the bottom of your lungs), into your rib cage (the middle of your lungs), and into your chest (the very top of your lungs). This is a calming breath that you can practice anyplace, anytime.
  • Inflate your belly with breath, count: one, two. With the same breath, expand your rib cage, count: one, two. Same breath, fill (and feel) your chest with breath, count: one, two. Hold your breath in for a count of two.
  • Breathe out from the space of your chest count: one, two. Same breath, knit your ribs together as you empty them of air, count: one, two. Same breath, deflate your belly as you empty your lungs completely: one, two. Hold your breath out for a count of two.
  • For nine rounds of breathing, swell and deflate your belly like a balloon, feel your ribs expand and contract like an accordion, and experience your chest rising and falling like waves in the sea.

Release your influence on your breathing and return to your normal inhale and exhale. Watch your breath (in and out) for a few rounds. How do you feel now; your body, your energy, your mindset? As you practice being in the space of your breath, noticing how it feels, you are nourishing your body and quieting your mind, nothing outside of this space within you is necessary for you to relax, release, and create space for ‘you.’

Tiffani Bryant, PhD, is the author of Yoga Girls’ Club: Do Yoga, Make Art, Be You, an interactive workbook filled with easy-to-follow yoga postures, breathing practices, meditation techniques, and opportunities for self-reflection through making stuff that matters.

Three New Years Greetings from Master Wu

Master Wu new year blog image

Greetings from sunny Stockholm! Unlike the record warm winter we had last year, we are finally experiencing some snow and freezing temperatures this winter. My wife Karin and I are enjoying this winter-Qi – the greatest source for rejuvenating all new life energy. We will continue to take advantage of the winter feeling and maintain our focus on our annual winter personal retreat. I am sending this seasonal greeting a little early this year because I would like to share some special cultivation ideas for the coming new energetic year with you all.

Utilize the rhythm of Nature

According to ZhouYiCanTongQi 周易參同契, one of the most important Daoist internal alchemy classics, the rhythm of nature has great influence on human beings, and it is therefore important to understand the rhythms of nature and know how to cultivate with the changing rhythms.

By doing so, you will optimize your potential for inner transformation and for deep healing to occur.

Three New Years!

There will be three important shifts in the rhythm of Qi as we move from the current JiaWu 甲午 Year to the coming YiWei 乙未 Year:

  • Cosmological New Year – Alchemical Qi
  • Animal New Year – Yang (Solar) Qi
  • Chinese New Year – Yin (Lunar) Qi

Cosmological New Year – Alchemical Qi

This YiWei 乙未 Cosmological Year will start January 20, 2015

The Heavenly Stem Yi  represents Yin Wood and the Earthly Branch Wei  represents the Earth and carries the Goat as its spiritual animal.  According to Chinese cosmology, I expect that the coming year’s climatic pattern to be influenced by Revenge Fire, Damp Earth, and Cold Water energies.

This means that I predict more rainstorms than average this year, with hail in the summer and snow storms in the winter.

I also expect that there will be strong windstorms in the coming months, especially on west coast area of your region.

Animal New Year – Yang (Solar) Qi

Spring season will begin on February 4, 2015

The next animal sign begins on LiChun 立春, which marks the beginning of spring. LiChun is one of the 24 15-day segments in the annual solar cycle.  According to WanNianLi 萬年曆, the Chinese Ten-Thousand Year Calender, spring season will begin on February 4, 2015.

In my tradition, the coming of spring correlates with the start of a new annual animal sign – and this year it will be YiWei, the Year of Yin Wood Goat. In Chinese astrology, one of the four pillars that make up the basic chart is the animal which correlates to the Solar year of birth.

For example, all babies who are born between February 4, 2015-February 4, 2016 will have the Yin Wood Goat as their yearly animal sign.

Whether you have a goat in your chart or not, we will all be affected by the Goat energy this year.

Here is a brief synopsis of the symbolism of the Goat, as extracted from my book The 12 Chinese Animals:

“Goats give you gentle and peaceful feelings when they chew grass with a slow, grinding motion. Yet they move with great speed and agility when navigating their way through rough, rocky, mountainous areas. They have strong horns and are always ready to defeat their enemies.

Goat is the eighth animal symbol in the 12 Chinese Animals System.

We use Wei 未 to represent the Goat symbol in the 12 Earthly Branches.

Wei is a symbol for the 13:00–14:59 time of day, and for the sixth month in the Chinese Lunar-Solar calendar (which is approximately July 7 to August 8 in the Gregorian solar calendar).

Wei represents the napping time of day and the third summer month when nature is in its ripest season. It is a time or a place where Yang energy (life energy) continues its decline and when the life cycle becomes more mellow. We use the tidal hexagram Dun  ䷠ to symbolize the Goat.”

Chinese (Lunar) New Year – Yin (Lunar) Qi

This year we will celebrate the New Year on February 19, 2015

The Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the Winter solstice each year. This year we will celebrate the New Year on February 19, 2015. In China, we also call the New Year ChunJie 春節, or Spring Festival.

The Spring Festival is the most important and longest holiday of the year in China, the one in which we all prioritize spending time with family and friends. Traditionally, the celebration begins new year’s eve and lasts for almost an entire month.

YiWei and your Health

While the combination of YiWei energies will be good for those of you who need support from the Wood elements, it will also possibly cause added difficulties for those of you who have weak lung Qi, poor digestive function, and/or a lower sexual drive.

Some people will suffer more pain in their joints and tendons over the next couple of months.

I will go into more detail about how the seasonal cosmological influences will effect us in my coming seasonal greetings.

YiWei New Years Qigong – Goat Internal Alchemy

As I always emphasise, Qigong practice is a great medicine that will help you maintain balance and a sense of well being in your life.

The special Goat internal alchemy qigong form will be a powerful addition to your daily Qigong practice during this YiWei year.

This year, I will teach the entire 12 Chinese Animals Internal Alchemy form in Anchorage, Alaska on Sunday April 19th. In the workshop, I will explain the form in relation to the twelve Tidal Hexagrams – the spirit of Yijing (I Ching), and cover healing and spiritual transformation applications of the form.

For those of you who will be unable to join us in Anchorage, here is one of the Goat internal alchemy practices for you:

Tidal Hexagram Dun Meditation

With a lit candle in front of you, start the meditation by straightening your back and feeling that your body is as stable as a mountain.

Make the Dun mudra by placing each thumb on the tip of the ring finger. The tip of the ring finger is related to the hexagram Dun.

With open and relaxed fingers, place your right mudra on your right knee, palm facing up and raise your left mudra to the level of your left shoulder, palm facing forward.

Adjust your breathing to be slow, smooth, deep, and even.

Feel each breath connect with your spleen, heart, and liver.

Meditate in this position for as long as you can.

At the close of your meditation, please cite this little prayer:

May the Spiritual Lights shine on my unwavering mind

May the Spiritual Lights shine on my unbroken breath

May the Spiritual Lights shine on my unpolluted body

 


 

Spring Courses in the US!

Below please find a brief summary of my upcoming courses in the US.

Events with a special early registration price are noted.

QiDao ChaDao: Qigong and the Dao of Tea

Qigong is an ancient technique for healing and inner cultivation. For thousands of years, sages have used the tea ceremony as a gateway to understand the Dao. Please join us for a sampling of special Chinese tea and demonstration of traditional Qigong.

Offerings: 

March 13 2015 in Baltimore, MD (click for further details)

April 17 2015 in Anchorage, AK (click for further details)

Dragon Body: The Secret of Daoist Internal Alchemy

In Chinese culture, the dragon represents shifting, changing, invisible, mystery, flexibility, transformation, high spirituality, supernatural, and power.

The Dragon Body practice is a way to express all the characteristics of the dragon in your cultivation practice.

This practice strengthens the vital link between the governing meridian and conception meridian and is one of the most important ZhouTian 周天 (Cosmic Orbit) methods to transform your Qi and nourish your spirit.

Offering:

March 14-15, 2015 in Baltimore, MD (click for further details)

*Please take advantage of the discounted early registration price and register before February 6!

Daoist Internal Alchemy – BaGuaXinJing 八卦心鏡

In this BaGua XinJing (Eight Trigrams Heart-Mirror) training, we will review HunYuanZhuang 混元樁the fundamental Heart-Mind standing posture, and the XinJing – the eight gentle movements designed to increase physical strength, nourish the joints and balance the mind. This practice represents the very foundation of YiJing (I Ching) philosophy.

Offerings:

March 15, 2015 in Baltimore, MD (click for further details)

April 18, 2015 in Anchorage, AK (click for further details)

*Alaskans, please take advantage of the discounted early registration price and register before February 17!

Daoist Internal Alchemy – ShengXiaoGong 生肖功

The twelve rhythms of nature are represented by ShengXiaoGong (Twelve Animals Qigong), from China’s esoteric Mt. EMei shamanic Qigong lineage, and give us access to the deepest spirit of the Yijing (I Ching).

April 19, 2015 in Anchorage, AK (click for further details)

*Alaskans, please take advantage of the discounted early registration price and register before February 17!

 

 

Karin and I are wishing you and your families a healthy and happy year of the Goat!

 

Master Zhongxian Wu

Meditation for midwinter

by Jennifer Rhind, taken from A Sensory Journey: Meditations on Scent for Wellbeing

rhind midwinter meditation imageIt is midwinter. It is cold, water has crystallised into ice, the land has frozen over and the power of the sun has diminished. Nature is dormant – the animals are hibernating, everything has slowed down, conserving energy for future survival.

You are standing at the edge of a forest. It has been snowing; the landscape has been covered with a blanket of snow. Focus on your ears, and sense of hearing. All sound has been deadened – this is as close to silence as you have ever felt.

It is almost sunset. You slowly emerge from the wood and stand at the edge of a wide, sandy bay. The sea is dark blue, reflecting the late afternoon sky, and the wind is capping the waves with white foam. The tide is coming in, and you walk up to the edge of the sea where the waves crash on to the shore. The roaring of the sea as it drags on the sand fills your head.

You breathe deeply, drinking in the salty air, with its tang of seaweed. You become aware of the power of the sea – and feel a strange combination of fear and excitement, an overwhelming exhilaration.

You watch the waves that break on the shore at your feet, and become one with their rhythms and patterns.

Now look to the horizon. The fading sun, now a dull red, is low in the sky, its light turning the sea foam to pink. You notice that some of the waves are becoming larger, rising above the water; these are the mythical white horses. As you watch, you wonder what it would be like to ride the waves.

As the white horses draw closer to the shore, you merge with the illusion, and find yourself riding the waves. The roar of the sea is all encompassing, white foam blows all around, and you are moving with the swell of the ocean, diving into the troughs, and rising over the crests… the experience is exhilarating, natural and flowing. You notice dolphins and porpoises all around, and then you too become a creature of the sea.

Your white horse carries you back to the shore, and you watch as it disappears into the sea foam. You are standing, looking out over the sea, which is now very calm and quiet, little ripples caressing the sand at your feet. The sun is now very low in the sky; you watch the red disc slip over the horizon, its light reflected in the calm water.

Now your senses are anchored. Your experience has allowed you to realise that you have abundant courage, judgement and will. You now turn and head back to the forest. Ahead, the snow brightens the scene, and your pace quickens. You reach the forest and, in the fading light, retrace your tracks back through the trees.

You are heading back to your log cabin, where the fire will be burning. The fragrance of wood smoke lingers in the still air. This is your midwinter haven. As you walk, you reflect and review. This is the season to rest, be still, and listen to the wise person within. You are your own catalyst for growth in the coming spring. Now is the time to plant the seeds of your dreams. It is a time for being, not doing.

 

Jennifer Peace RhindJennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a Ph.D. in Mycotoxicology. For thirteen years she worked as a therapist and partner in a multidisciplinary complementary healthcare clinic.. She was a lecturer on the B.A. Complementary Healthcare programme at Edinburgh Napier University for fourteen years, and remains involved in scent education. A Sensory Journey is a set of cards and booklet exploring different fragrances and giving guided meditations on scent for wellbeing and spiritual growth.

The Practice of Sitting and Forgetting

Cherng-Schwair_Daoist-Meditati_978-1-84819-211-9_colourjpg-webDiscourse on Sitting and Forgetting is an 8th century classic text on meditation by Si Ma Cheng Zhen, in his translation Wu Jyh Cherng deciphers the complex Chinese metaphors to make a practical guide  for those looking to deepen their meditation practice. In this extract Cherng looks at what is really meant by “sitting and forgetting” as a definition for meditation.

Zhuāng Zǐ said: ‘Relax one’s body and abandon one’s perspicacity; eliminate one’s norms and let go of one’s intelligence, uniting oneself to the Great Opening. This is called the practice of Sitting and Forgetting.’

Relaxing the body and eliminating the norms is sitting naturally to meditate, without being concerned about norms regarding elegance; abandoning one’s perspicacity and letting go of one’s intelligence is removing oneself from active thoughts during meditation; and the Great Opening is the doorway which is revealed within meditation and which gives access to the Emptiness.

The practitioner should use the time devoted to meditation to relax, rest and recharge his energy. In the period preceding the practice, he relaxes the body and mind and begins the process of systematic forgetting, until forgetting himself. He abandons logical and imaginative reasonings, all memories and wanderings of the mind, worries and frustrations. In this state, he shall be resting as if on holiday, in his room. As all activities are suspended, he also frees himself of the limitations imposed by the norms and constant demands on the use of his intelligence. During meditation he need only give himself up to the naturalness, to be at one with the Great Opening.

Living peacefully in society is based on the use of intelligence, on the norms of a good education and ethical principles of behaviour. A norm is a precept, a standard established as a base for the practice of an action, and intelligence has the meaning of elaborate, intentional thoughts in chains. But, upon meditating, the norms should be eliminated and the use of intelligence removed. While one’s everyday life is conditioned by norms and by the use of intelligence, one needs to reserve the moment of meditation for resting from the rules and from the need to be constantly rationalizing.

When preparing to meditate, the practitioner forgets appearances. He is not worried about his hair, whether it’s nice and tidy or not, or about his beard, whether it’s trimmed or in need of a shave. He is not worried about the spot on his face, or about how his clothes look: whether they are fashionable, attractive or ugly – he is only concerned about the comfort that the clothes need to provide. At that point, he puts himself at ease and gradually ceases to fulfil the norms, in order to fulfil the demands of his body, while seeking the position he considers comfortable, until he attains a state of tranquillity and enters meditation, at which time all the rules and the use of intelligence are forgotten. When alone in the room, with the door closed, sat comfortably to begin the meditation, the practitioner need not follow norms, nor activate his intelligence. Here there is no dispute or discussion; there are no challenges to be answered. Therefore, there is no need to prepare for clashes. The person only needs, at this moment, to let go of rationality and relax the body and mind so as to enter meditation.

If the practitioner is dedicated and disciplined, he will advance, until reaching the state of Primordial Chaos and feel as if a door has opened within him, through which he shall pass to enter the Emptiness. This is the Great Opening, the apex of the Daoist Spiritual Path: the consciousness expands to the infinite, all limits are broken, norms and logical reasonings cease to exist as impositions and all forms, images and languages are forgotten. But the creative potential remains present because the practitioner has not ceased to be conscious, he has simply become serene. And what was manifest has been transformed into potential.

 

Wu Jyh Cherng (1958-2004), was a Taoist High Priest and Master of Meditation, Rites and Ceremonies. He was ordained as a priest by the World Central Committee of Taoism based in Taiwan and in 1991 he founded the Taoist Society of Brazil. Master Cherng spread the Taoist doctrine of the Orthodox Unitary Order and passed on his knowledge of this Tradition to his disciples and followers.

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?

Wood_Compassionate-P_978-1-84819-222-5_colourjpg-web

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.

 

 2014  Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

 

Stillness meditation – extract from Body Intelligence Meditation

Image from Zen Mountain Monastery

You need reminding about stillness. Modern life has little interest in it. We have all become imprinted with an urge to activity that is both an overbearing work ethic and a neurotic need to be scintillated. Being still is very unfashionable and uncool. Once you glimpse your innate stillness, your body will respond powerfully to it and each time you open up to it, there will be a much stronger connection.

Sit and let your body become calm. Recognize the tremendous activity in your body. How can we ever get tired with so much energy and movement taking place within us? Let’s open up to the underlying stillness gradually. Start with your heart. The movement of the heart is constant. You couldn’t name a structure that is more caught up in motion. As you feel the movement of the heart, simply open up to the movement taking place within a field of stillness. Even if that doesn’t make any sense to your rational mind, open up to it. Do the same with the other big movement in your body, your breathing. Be with the felt sense of the ribcage and diaphragm moving, but again open up to the movement taking place in a field of stillness. The body will start automatically reorganizing when you do this. Notice the effect on your body. Lastly, notice the furious activity of your brain and thoughts, and open up to stillness as an intrinsic component of that. Again, you will feel something as you do it.

Stay with that for a while and then simply open up to your whole body being part of a field of stillness that embraces everything, so that all activity within you is part of the stillness. Now listen and feel as your system becomes modified by the stillness. Everything slows down. Breath, heart and mind all gear down and something sparks up in the body as a whole. It’s a dynamic energy that comes through your cells and fluids like a permeation from the field of stillness. The body just loves this process!

This meditation is taken from Body Intelligence Meditation: Finding presence through embodiment by Ged Sumner. The book is available to purchase from the Singing Dragon website.