Healing Series: A Programme For You To Follow

Brain iconAs promised in my last Healing Series post, here is a recommended calming, positivity and neuroplasticity programme for you to follow if, like me, you respond well to hand-holding, having a concrete, regular thing to do to feel you are moving forward in this healing lark.

If you’ve not a clue what I am talking about, do please go back and read the whole healing series from the bottom up here. It is effectively our investigations about healing using methods other than avoidance diets, supplements and meds for those of us super-sensitives who can’t tolerate the usual approaches. In fact, though, the healing series is morphing into an additional ‘prong’ if you like of the whole Gluten Plan. My approach nowadays, having researched and done a lot of this now, is to both identify and heal physiological (biochemical, nutrient, immunological etc) and any psychological (emotional, neuroplasticity) elements of the problem if we want to heal effectively.

  Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing

This is essentially a year-long programme (or shorter if you like) designed to help you switch from a negative and fearful mind perspective to one of happiness, calm and peace. This, for me, is a big part of how we calm our central nervous system down and learn to let go of the fear and reactivity.

It’s basically 12 ‘pillars,’ as he calls them, that build into a comprehensive mental and physical wellbeing kind of programme. I wasn’t sure it was going to be right at all as I don’t really like his famous book Hardwiring Happiness but he is a much better video teacher than he is writer in my opinion! I like his voice, calm demeanour and in-depth, scientific approach combined with meditation and positivity.

Each pillar has a theme eg. confidence, gratitude, motivation etc and you watch a video, do some creative exercises and a quiz if you like, listen to a guest discussion and do some meditation and brain-training exercises. You can also access a forum if you want to talk about anything and not be alone with it.

It is a really good blend of meditation (he is very Buddhist in approach) and neuroplasticity techniques, which is just what I identified was helping me the most. You want to be able to calm the system down and change the way the brain is perceiving things – to build new synapses and neuron pathways, replacing the learned reactivity behaviours we’ve built up like Pavlovian dogs and changing them to new, non-reactive ones. That’s the aim of the whole healing series approach really. I found this a really hopeful, positive programme to follow and I liked having something concrete and regular to actually do to effect change.

It can take as long as you like to complete – I think they give you access for 2 years at least. I started off trying to do one pillar a week, repeating the brain/meditation exercise as much as possible every day, but actually have slowed down now and am taking it in a bit more. I dovetail this with my normal Chopra meditations, EFT and visualisation techniques. Letting go and doing it more slowly actually has helped me improve faster, ironically – that letting go thing again! The more we push and strive, the less we actually heal I’m finding.

Anyway, here’s the general blurb from Rick for you:

This guided, step-by-step program is taught by Rick Hanson, Ph. D. and uses science-based methods to hardwire lasting happiness into your brain and your life. In just an hour a week, you will be turning everyday experiences into a deep sense of contentment, love, and peace by using the power of positive neuroplasticity.

Rick is a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited speaker at Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford universities. He’s also the New York Timesbestselling author of Buddha’s BrainHardwiring HappinessJust One Thing, and Mother Nurture, a neuropsychologist, meditation teacher, and very down-to-earth, practical, and warm-hearted guy.

Step-by-step, Rick will help you grow the 12 Pillars of Well-Being—the foundation of steady resilience, confidence, and compassion for yourself and others.

It’s simple and easy, with short videos that explain the how of happiness, guide you into self-nourishing experiences, creatively tap all parts of your brain, and inspire you with guest experts like Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, and Gretchen Rubin. You also get revealing personality quizzes, vibrant community forums, the science behind the program, special interest areas (e.g., children, addiction) – and a money-back guarantee.

It costs just $29/month—less than $1 a day—and you can try it for free.

You really can change you brain for the better, and in the Foundations of Well-Being program, it’s straight-forward, fascinating, and fun.

Go and have a look anyway: Rick Hanson’s Foundations of Wellbeing – you’ve nothing to lose as you can try it for 30 days free. Even the first video I found very useful so do that at least. The marketing, as usual with these type of US things, is initially a bit in your face for staid Brits, but the programme itself is not like that at all – not too much ‘awesomeness’!

A note: just to be clear, this post includes an affiliate link and I hope you don’t mind that – I have spent thousands now trialling this type of programme so it will be nice to get a bit back if you think it could help you too, thank you. I hope you like it as much as I did. (And still do – I haven’t finished it yet!)

In essence, today’s advice is:

If you respond well to having a programme to follow, then follow one. Actually do it rather than think about it! Take as much time as you need but my advice to keep moving forward is to do one meditation, visualisation or journalling a day (this only needs to be 10 minutes, but more is great), watch one video or listen to a discussion or success story a week and complete one pillar of this kind of neuroplasticity programme a month. You won’t always achieve it, but that’s a good and helping healing aim to have. 

Good luck!

‘Unsafe’ HPV vaccine programme | What D

‘Unsafe’ HPV vaccine programme | What Doctors Don’t Tell You http://ow.ly/MZJ5U

Healing Series: The Reintegration Phase & Bouncing Boundaries!

Brain iconI have been far too busy actually doing this stage in my healing to have time to tell you about it before now! I take that as a good sign :)

Reintegration? What the heck am I on about now? Let’s recap before I dive in, just so you can keep up. Do read the whole of my Healing Series (from the bottom up) if you haven’t already. And if you haven’t, why not?! My advice: do not leave this part of healing out if you want to get well.

Summary

In effect, we have been exploring a different way of healing; seeing if there is a way without diet and supplements for those of us super-sensitives who can’t tolerate that approach. So far, I have worked on two main steps – first, calming the amygdala and central nervous system down, turning the stuck ‘on’ switch off, if you like, and next using various neuroplasticity/brain-training/emotional release techniques to change the way the body sees threats. That’s it in a, er, nutshell. As I say, do read the series to follow what I have been doing. It’s a lot more complex than that, of course, but that is actually what we’ve been doing and discussing, put very simply.

So, this post is all about the third stage if you like: the reintegration stage. (Although, actually, I am coming to realise these are not stages as such, more areas to work on in an integrated fashion. You’ll see what I mean about this below.)

 

Reintegration?? 

What I mean by reintegration is essentially starting to push boundaries a bit, getting a life back. Once we feel calmer and ready, we need to push ourselves out of the fear and illness that has defined us pretty much, probably for years, and start doing stuff to see how far we can move forwards. This is not a science really, but feels more like an art.

Some people describe it as ‘bouncing’ the boundaries and that is about right so far for me. The idea really is to start taking a few risks, not necessarily with food to start with, to ‘bounce’ yourself out of illness and back into life. To show your body it is safe out there, to convince your mind things are not as bad as they might seem. I think of it a bit like the pinprick peanut allergen dosing where the body is exposed to the allergen in tiny but frequent doses to show the body it is safe and give it chance to work out how to deal with it. This is the same but not necessarily with food.

I’m probably not explaining this well; it is difficult to explain. I’ll use my own case as usual to try and make some sense of it.

 

smileyMoving On

I got to the stage a couple of months ago now where I felt much, much less fearful, more calm and centred in myself. I was waking up feeling ‘normal’ and having well days with the odd bad one instead of the other way round. It took me a good while actually to realise this. I only really realised when I thought how bored I was! More and more, I was becoming aware of how very small and internalised my life had become. I felt I had become bigger than my life, if you know what I mean. I was ready somehow to move on but I wasn’t sure what that actually meant. I suppose I wasn’t spending every hour thinking about food and how I felt, planning for the illness and how to cope. Once you stop that, you realise how much time it takes!

Obviously, for many of us moving from illness and fear to wellness and health is all about getting foods back in. So, I started there. The reintroduction phase, if you like, in food terms. I tried a couple of previously problematic foods and came a cropper. Not as bad as before and more able to cope with symptoms, the disappointment and frustration, but still reactive. Sigh. Things had changed, but I clearly had a long way to go.

But I was still feeling much more well than I had been in a long time.

Almost without thinking about it, I started to expand into life a bit more, becoming less defined by the fear of reacting, of upsetting people, of being the awkward one. I was suddenly not so focused on feeling crap or worrying about feeling crap because most of the time I felt ‘normal’ and not ill. Very strange!

Actually, what was most surprising, (and I have heard many severely ill people say the same thing, and that it surprised them too), is that I stopped yearning to go back to my old life. Somehow, I had moved past it and become a different person. I wasn’t hankering after the old stuff I used to do, the person I used to be, the foods I used to eat, the restaurants I used to frequent, the pubs I was always in (!). I wanted to continue to move forward and build a new life. It is much more positive than feeling frustrated about what you’ve lost. I stress here, again, this actually wasn’t conscious at all; it just started to be the case. I am sure it came from the meditation and brain-training.

Anyway, I had this real need for big spaces somehow. I felt too big for my life. I needed to be by the sea, to experience a different environment, to breathe different air. We started going on holiday to Devon and Cornwall for a few days here and there – in itself a big thing because I let go of the fear of starving to death because I couldn’t eat, of ruining the holiday by being ill for most of it, of being sad because I couldn’t go out to the usual places and join in – the usual things I know you recognise!  Anyway, it has morphed, as some of you now know from the Facebook groups, into a move to Cornwall shortly! I never do things by halves. I feel it is somehow right to have a bigger space to expand into. That’s as much as I can say to explain it.

Interestingly, many people who recover from illness do say that a change in environment – even if that’s moving the furniture around in the lounge – becomes quite important at certain stages. I have read some research that suggests it is a real help to altering the brain’s perception – it somehow encourages the brain to change. A few people I know have deliberately done things like sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, getting dressed in a different order and things like that whilst doing the brain-training/neuroplasticity/meditation techniques because it helps the brain to shift from the gear it’s been stuck in. I don’t know the basis of it but I do know that is somehow seemed to be needed in me at this stage. P wouldn’t let me get a new sofa to I’m having a new house instead – he should have said yes to the sofa… ;)

 

Volunteering

But it was going to take time for a move to the other end of the country. It was too long. I didn’t want to give myself time to slip back into my small life. I had long wanted to volunteer for a charity, preferably something to do with cats and after we heart-breakingly lost Benjamin, our 15 year old puss, I started fostering cats for Cat’s Protection. I would just never have done that before. Why? Because the stress of trying not to be ill on a day when I needed to be somewhere, be with someone or do something was just too stressful. I would have to be ‘careful’ for several days beforehand to make sure I was OK, and sometimes even then the strategy didn’t work and I just ended up having to cancel and being embarassed. After a few years of that, I simply gave up trying and just kept myself to myself pretty much to avoid the stress of it all. Hence the very small life. And I know many of you recognise this in your own lives because you’ve told me. It’s sad. But true.

Anyway, even though to some people that will sound like a piddling little step, it is huge for me. I am now part of something outside of my small food-obsessed life and am not defined by it. It feels much better. A relief, actually. It doesn’t mean I don’t get tired or P doesn’t have to step in if I’m feeling rubbish for a day or so, but the emphasis is different – it is on the odd bad patch rather than waking up every day thinking ‘what will I have to cope with today?’ That feels like progress.

Anyway, as I say, I didn’t do any of this consciously really but one day chatting to someone I realised that I was putting things back in, just not food yet. I was reintroducing things, reintegrating with life. Part of that will be food at some stage, of course, but I thought it was an interesting point to make that maybe food is not the be all and end all of it, just a part of the getting better? I think it all fits together and maybe my preoccupation with getting foods back in has been the wrong emphasis. Perhaps it is more of the ‘letting go’ we talked about in an earlier healing series post – if we let go of the fear of food and the constant yearning and attempts to get food back in, concentrating on other types of reintroduction for a while, perhaps the food will follow. I hope so anyway.

 

Bouncing

Just to make the point that this is not a straightforward trajectory thing. As with any illness, you have to work out where you are and what you can cope with at any given time. You might try a food and react. You might start a new hobby and feel that’s too much. You might try taking up knitting and it feels like a step forward. Who knows? What I do know is that you have to try and have your resilience hat on if it doesn’t quite go to plan yet! It probably won’t. But you will have some successes and those count, as does the trying. It’s almost about showing your body what it is capable of, of showing it things are OK, things are safe. Remember the peanut allergy idea above. It’s all about safety and showing yourself – slowly but surely – that life is safe again. It might be only in certain areas for now and that may not include new or previous foods, but the safety message is a really important one to get through to your mind. The more safe things you build – and notice! – overall the more safe your amygdala etc will feel. That’s what I’m choosing to work on anyway.

It is very tempting, I know, to stay in the comfort zone. I have done for far too long and, typical me, I have done something drastic to bounce myself out of it! It doesn’t have to be that dramatic but I would advise having a go. Perhaps focussing on something other than food and how you feel will help. It was a heck of a thing to do, but my body and mind really told me to get off my **** and try. It isn’t perfect by a long shot and I am sure there will be trials and tribulations to come, but the very act of trying to reintegrate/reintroduce more has moved me forward one notch more. If that is closer to being calmer, less controlled by illness and being able to introduce foods as well at some point, well that’s good. One step at a time.

 

info iconA Lesson Learned..Keep The Balls In The Air!

The other thing I’ve learned is not to stop the first stages either! I basically have been busy doing this other stuff and not done the usual meditation and brain training. Big mistake. I can feel the stress and reactivity increase as a result. Doing more when you’re not used to it is very tiring and can be stressful, even when it feels right. You need to continue to keep your amygdala nice and calm and to talk to yourself in positive neuroplasticity-strengthening ways as per the previous stages. As I said above, I’m discovering they are not really stages in a step by step fashion as such; more an integrated approach where you have to keep all the balls in the air.

 

Not Just Me Saying This…

As I was thinking about writing about this phase in the Healing Series, funnily enough, I came across this post from Angie at Autoimmune-Paleo where she is talking about getting out of the so-called ‘AIP rut’. It’s very much what I am saying in that she advises you start to let go of the illness and bounce yourself back into life. She even suggests starting to volunteer and organising more non food-based adventures to challenge yourself with – knitting is an adventure. Just sayin’ so you don’t think it has to be bungee jumping or something!

Anyway, have a read but one last point to bear in mind: reintegration is a known stage in the recovery of illness, especially mental illness and things like PTSD. It’s not some woolly thing despite how I have probably made it sound! It is an important part of recovery. I didn’t know the term before, didn’t even know that medical stage existed, I just did it. Perhaps so should you when you feel ready. And even if you don’t…

 

In essence, today’s advice is:

Even if you’re not sure you’re ready yet, start bouncing some boundaries. Make a few changes, show yourself you are safe with some little things even if that’s not food yet. Move yourself out of the illness as much as you can and focus on something else. Tell yourself: this is a temporary situation, I am not defined by it, it will pass. And get on with something else whilst your body learns to believe it! Stop hankering after the old you and embrace a new you.

Good luck!

PS. I have found a really good programme for you to follow if you work well with things like that and I will come back to some more specific brain training techniques you can add in too. Just sussing them out for us. Meantime, I hope you are at least doing your meditation, success stories and journaling?

Is WiFi Making You or Your Child Ill?

Brain icon  Fascinating article in The Telegraph recently from a British expert in electromagnetic radiation concerning her very real concerns about WiFi’s effect on our children. She is calling for the UK to follow France in banning WiFi in nurseries and primary schools.

I have written about this issue before – I do fear we are all guinea pigs in this tech revolution and I do worry about it in schools and the sheer amount children are using in terms of phones, Ipads, laptops etc etc. Personally, I have corded phones only, use Ethernet instead of WiFi (which, incidentally, is FAR more reliable) and don’t use mobile phones for talking on – mine actually is enormous so I would look silly if I did!

The article is specifically about children’s health but you can read the same warnings for adults as far as I’m concerned. The expert herself has eschewed use of any WiFi or digital tech, going from someone who thought it was fabulous to now not deeming the potential risks worth it.

As she points out, Britain’s head teachers are now in a bit of a tight spot since insurance company Lloyds of London told them in February that they will now be excluding liability for EMF damage from their school policies, making the school heads liable directly for exposing kids to EMFs:

“The Government is expecting head teachers to decide whether risk versus benefit is worthwhile. This seems unfair to me,” says Mallery-Blythe. “Most teachers don’t even know that RF is currently classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it is a possible cause of cancer in humans. There is a vast amount of published literature documenting the harmful effects on every biological system. Most people understandably don’t have time to read and digest it all.”

In a funny kind of way, I think Lloyds will have forced the issue and heads, quite rightly, will not want to take that risk in future. It could signal the end of WiFi in schools (pun intended) and that can’t come quickly enough for me. Ethernet instead please.

Read the full article below.

How To Get Blood For Tests

Just to say I have today updated the FAQ about phlebotomy. Happily, Regenerus has now agreed a national service with Nuffield hospitals so you can get your blood taken more easily if doing one of the tests that come through them.

You simply request a form from Regenerus if choosing Nuffield, take it along and Nuffield will give you your sample back for you tos end back as per instructions. Costs £30 but will make life a lot easier for those whose GP surgeries and local facilities don’t play ball!

here’s the new bit in the FAQ for you:

How do I get my blood taken for a blood test?

You will need to have blood taken at a local phlebotomy service of your choice; that’s usually at your local GP surgery (can be free), hospital or local private medical centre eg. Nuffield. There is usually a charge for phlebotomy, so bear that in mind.

Most of the tests on the shop are done via Genova or Regenerus labs. Here are Genova’s phlebotomy services, which are mainly London and South East-based.

Regenerus uses a central London service but also has a national service set up with Nuffield hospitals – check their page here.

The cost is normally about £30 for blood-draw and details will be included in your test kits.

You can, of course, set up your own phlebotomy using a local service. Just check they can centrifuge your sample if that is necessary for your specific test.

Medical Express do children’s phlebotomy if you need that.

Medical Assistance UK do more geographical areas: here is their general leaflet and prices.

Noviche also offers more coverage – see their list of postcodes and info here.

There are also freelance phlebotomists and local services around the country so check Yell.com etc. Most pathology labs have the names of freelance phlebotomists who can come to you instead if they don’t do it.

Some of the medical centres nowadays demand a GP/consultant referral letter. I am not an NHS doctor so I can’t give that to you or set up contracts with the centres; please talk to your health professional.

If your test needs centrifuging, check your facility or service can do that – usually larger operations such as hospitals and some of the mobile services above; most GP surgeries can’t afford one!

Please do make sure you have thought about how to have blood taken before you order a blood test; it’s wise to call your chosen facility and ask before you order.

When you have made your phlebotomy appointment, simply take the whole test kit in with you, say you are having a private test done via a medical nutritionist, hand them the kit which will include instructions for what sample needs taking etc and they will do the rest. You will then be given the sample back and can send it back to the lab in your packaging.

Telomere Test Predicts Cancer 13 Years Ahead

Interesting story in The Telegraph today (seel below) about how scientists think telomeres shorten on DNA strands years before cancer shows itself, so that may be a good predictor of future cancerous problems.

The idea of telomere shortening has been around for quite a few years now. I distinctly remember learning about it when we had the clinic in Uppermill, so that’s at least 8-9 years ago. The basis of our knowledge so far has been that the rate that telomeres on DNA shorten is a predictor of ageing, so I am not surprised scientists have found it in cancer studies.

I’ve actually been able to test telomere length for quite some time but actually chose not to offer it for the very insurance reasons The Telegraph mentions in their piece. I dread to think what insurance companies will end up doing to premiums for those who test positive!

What I take from this is that we should all be doing what we can to enhance our health and lifestyle anyway, not wait until we are told we have 13 years to do something to avoid cancer! We know that most cancer is triggered by lifestyle, not genes, and telomere length is equally affected by our lifestyle choices, like controlling obesity, not drinking to excess or smoking, ensuring good nutrition etc.

You can read the Telegraph article below. I find a lot of useful info on this subject, too, comes from the Life Extension Foundation, which is where I have picked up most of my – admittedly currently limited – knowledge about it. Do a search at LEF and here is an article to start you off from 2011:

Reverse Biological Ageing: Telomeres

You can use Mr Google, of course, to find out more. I found these FAQ quite simple and useful from Telomere Inc: http://www.telomehealth.com/telomefaqs/index.html

Their answer to Can I Protect My Telomeres From Shortening? question gives a hint at what we can all be doing to avoid cancer:

Based on the cross-sectional studies so far, linking telomere length to psychological states or certain lifestyle factors, it is likely that the following may help maintain or even lengthen our telomeres:

  • Increasing vigorous exercise to 4 to 5 times a week, such as getting on a bike, going for a brisk walk or jog, joining a gym, or practicing yoga, activities that increase your heart rate or make you sweat.

  • Improving nutrition: Eating a low-fat diet, eating less red and processed meat, like hot dogs and sausages, or taking dietary supplements that activate telomerase.

  • Improving metabolism: If overweight, losing some extra weight or reducing waist circumference.

  • Enhancing wellbeing: Reducing psychological stress and depression, and increasing feelings of personal control and purpose in life.

FreeFrom Food Award Winners

A bit late with this for you as they were announced last week, but here is the much-looked forward to list of the good and the great of new special diet, freefrom foods in the UK. I always love looking at this list so see what new stuff has been created, and it seems to be get better each year.

This year, for example, the overall winner is a free from gluten and dairy free pork pie! How about that?!

Voakes FreeFrom

Of course, I can’t go without mentioning the gluten and dairy free Genius Pain Au Chocolat either – how did they achieve that?!

Genius Pain au chocolat

Anyway, do go and have a look, especially if you need inspiration for your dietary needs; there is always loads there:

freefrom food awards - the UK'sonly awards for freefrom food FreeFrom Food Awards 2015 Winners