Losing a child

losing-a-child-dec-picThere is nothing more sad and devastating to a parent than losing a child. Whether it be to illness or kidnapping the feeling is the same. What could be greater than the loss of someone you love? Especially someone who has been a part of you. Parents whose children are kidnapped live in constant hope of finding them again but suffer from the same torment in many ways as if the child was dead.

When a child dies, it feels like a part of our own being has died. Children represent our future as well as being a person that we love. Different people handle grief in different ways but most of us agree that the worst form of grief is at the loss of a child. It somehow seems to defy the natural order of things as none of us expects our children to die. Couples may find it hard to support each other as they are grieving themselves and this adds to their grief, often leading to a loss of faith.

At first parents, may feel much emptiness at home, especially if the child was younger. Often the parents find comfort in friends of the child if the child was a teenager but if the child was an adult then they may have the added matter of an estate to sort out. Parents of married children may find it hard when they have to realise they are not next of kin and that their relationship with the spouse or grandchildren may change.

A lot of the time grief can begin as either a numbness or confusion of emotions as we try to make sense of events. Parents may also start to feel guilt and anger, These are normal emotions and in the case of death of children the grief can last many years, although it is a cyclical process and gets less over time.

The issue of death is a difficult one as it seems so final. However, for those of us who believe in an afterlife as such, or even have insights into this, it is a little easier. Ultimately though, the cold hard fact is that one cannot hug a spirit and we will always miss the hugs of the loved one we have lost, be it 5 years ago, or 50. Life may get easier after some time after we lose those we love but part of us never stops wanting just that one more hug.

There are many people who will help us through but ultimately until we come to terms with what this means to us on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level we cannot really move forward. People telling us to move on or the fact that it’s been a long time and we need to go forward in some ways only make us angry as we are not ready to do that.

If you have lost someone you love you must remember though that there is help at hand. It will take time but shutting it away is not the way to go. Often you may not want to talk about it for a while and that is natural but at some point you need to talk about it, cry about it. Be gentle on yourself and remember the good times. You will find eventually they will make you smile. This is the time, after a period of releasing your grief, you need your friends and relatives or even professional help to help you get some kind of routine back in your life. It is normal to be depressed so dosing yourself up with medication is not always the answer. Let yourself feel as hard as it may be. Your loved one would not want to see you suffering and hurting. Remember that and heal slowly and steadily in your own way. Be gentle on yourself and look around you. It is filled with life. The sky, the trees, new buds in your garden. Life regenerates and as painful as it may be your child is on a journey. Their journey. Wasn’t it great you could be a part of it? Sad, painful but great.

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Life changes – get off the treadmill

ants-life-changes-get-off-the-treadmill-picLife was good for Jacob who sat and watched the anthill as his mum hung out the washing. They were going to the movies and he was on school holidays – a special day in his life. It was a beautiful sunny day and he looked forward to this. He was amused by the way the ants moved to and fro busily from one mound to another.

Anthony jumped out of bed and raced to the door. He was late for work and had an important meeting with the boss. It could be the day that changed his life. He hurriedly showered, dressed, grabbed an apple and ran to the car. He forgot the glasses and wallet. Raced back into the house and found them. He raced back to the car.

Annabel his wife was also in a hurry. She raced out of the house with the 3 kids behind her, bags on their back and lunches in their hand. She threw herself into the car and on the road to school. Anthony was just ahead of her. Quick wave in the car to him and blew a kiss. Mornings are such a rush. Dropped the kids and off to work for Annabel. Kids raced into the school just as the bell went and they went three separate ways. Life was so busy in the mornings. Annabel now joined the motorway queues and sat in the car, her little box where she put on her make-up on the way. Water and lunch are sitting tidily on the seat. Got that right anyway.

Meanwhile Anthony arrived at work. He grabbed the lunch, the glasses, the Ipad, the phone. Oops! He forgot the file for Davidson. He raced back for it. There it is in the boot. I got it! He raced into the office building and up the stairs to the meeting.

Annabel finally got off the motorway. She arrived at work. Went to go into a car spot and another person stole it. Damn! There goes more minutes of driving around looking for another parking spot. She backs into the spot. No. Not quite got it. Try that again. Finally she backed in properly. Grab water, lunch, bag on shoulder and into the building. She races up the stairs. She forgot the mobile. She races back to the car. Let’s try that again.

Anthony and Annabel busy day at work. Up and down the lift and escalators. He has a lunch meeting in the city. Take the car. He is back on the road again – into the queues. Have a quick bite to eat. They both need a sugar fix. They are so tired. Why does life have to be so busy? Grab some chocolate. It’s his fifth cup of coffee. Not good. Never mind. Worry about that tomorrow. Need it.

O my Gosh! Its 4pm – Anthony has one more meeting to go. Annabel is on way to get the kids. Thank goodness sport today and can get them a bit later. Finally she has picked them up and they join the queues on the motorway trip home. Oops got to stop at mums to pick up the flowers for tomorrow. Stop at mums. She races out of car. Thanks mum. Quick kiss – bye mum! No time in life for anything more. Back to car and drive kids home.

Three rowdy kids run out of the car and into house. They race up the stairs. Grabbing some snacks. Off for changing clothes, showers and homework. Annabel is in the kitchen making dinner. Anthony’s arrived home now. They are eating food. Their homework is now done. One goes to training. They are now out on the road again. Training for them is now over. Come back home. It’s time to shower and go to bed kids. Anthony and Annabel crash on the couch. Then off to bed to start it all over again tomorrow.

Jacob watches as the ants race from one anthill to another. Collect their food. Three ants run into one anthill and disappear. Another ant races into a new anthill. First ant races also into a new anthill. Ants come back out and form a line like a queue of cars. One after the other they advance towards the huge mound. Stop for a mouldy apple core on the way – food for the day. New ants come out of the surrounding holes and anthills. Jacob is amused. Mum’s finished hanging out the washing now. He abandons the anthills to go to the movies. The ants don’t know Jacob is gone. This is their whole life. They still keep running round, queuing up day after day…till they die.

When was the last time you ran like Annabel and Anthony to your new anthills? Racing to the office, the school, the job, to training, pick up shopping…rush, rush, rush….like ants on a sunny day from one anthill to the other with food on their backs. It’s time to get off the treadmill and stop racing about perhaps – like ants in a line on the motorway in cars.

Do you want to be part of the ant colony or do you want to stand out and be the individual and empowered? It’s your decision. What can you do right now to enhance your life? Right in this moment you can turn your whole world

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Love and maturity

relationshipsIt all starts the same way. The flowers and chocolates, the pounding heart at the phone calls, the text message you read three times before you press ‘send’ to respond. You want it to be perfect but in your mind you know there is really no such thing as ‘perfect’ in this imperfect world. But you have faith and hope and your heart was sold on the ‘fairytale’ when you were young. The fairytale that somewhere out there is someone who will love you for who you are and you in return will love them.

As a natural therapist and stress management specialist I spend a lot of my time assisting people to look at how they interact in relationships. I am not just talking here about couples. I am talking about relationship love – the love between a mother and child, the love between two friends and of course the love between two people in an intimate, passionate, physical union. There are many different kinds of love but ultimately they are all – love.

So what does it mean to say…”I love you” and how does your partner understand what you mean? Since we come from varying backgrounds with different family values and different types of education, how do you know that what you say is being interpreted the way you mean it by the other person? You don’t. There is no way that we can know that when someone says they love you that they actually mean love defined in the terms of what you think love means, and that is where the miscommunication can begin.

Friendship is a kind of love, which does not have the same kind of passion as lovers. It can be used to describe a loyalty of friends, between family members and community and often has a basis of equality where people know each other really well, get on quite well and have a number of things in common. It can also exist between people who don’t really have a lot in common but a mutual respect for each other’s values and of course lovers can also be good friends.

Then there is the love of parents for children and children for their parents. One is protective and nurturing and transmutes as the child grows to a family bond and friendship. However these relationships, although beautiful, are different to that of partners in a bond of mutual desire and passion.

In Greek the word ‘Eros’ is a word used for passionate love which has with it a sense of sensuality and longing. This is often applied to someone we seek as a partner. Unfortunately this kind of love can often dissipate over the years when we face pressures of long hours at work, lack of money to pay bills, others interfering in our relationship with varying opinions, exposure of our intimacy to gossip, pulling in different directions with our goals and many more distractions which turn what was once treasured into a relationship where two people don’t even want to be in the same space.

There is a basic difference between love and loving. Loving someone can often be tinged with a mixture of our expectations, desires and dreams so we come to expect to see the other person fulfilling the love we want to receive and that it will ‘look’ a certain way. When it does not fit the image in our head anymore, due to our personal definitions, we no longer define it as love. So what began as perhaps a wonderful loving relationship becomes a harness to keep us imprisoned, in an atmosphere we do not want to be in, with a person we become more and more antagonistic towards. Of course like attracts like and they usually start to feel the same way about us and then the relationship disintegrates.

There is a love however that transcends this. It comes from the depth of the heart, beyond the mortgage payments and the fighting kids, beyond the long office hours and the fact that there are no groceries in the fridge and you are too tired to go and buy them. This is a love that comes from the depths of our maturity of being, from that connection of one heart straight to the other and when it is felt it is as real as the breath that permeates your lungs.

Think. Have you ever loved anyone like that? Have you ever allowed yourself to look past the idiosyncrasies of your partner and allowed yourself to feel with complete trust and faith that kind of love regardless of whether they love you in return or not?

What if you could love like that? What would it mean for your relationship with your partner and what if they loved you like that in return? What if it didn’t really matter in the long term about all the hardships of the day but what really mattered was that at the end of each day you were both together – if not always physically possible at least in that connection with each other? What difference would love like this make to your life – right now? What a huge risk to take with your heart.

We look at each other and see divisions, we turn on the TV and hear the hardships of others, a child loses its toy and cries from the heart at its loss. What does it take to love freely with passion, to connect, to dare to dream and be empowered enough to follow your heart?

Is your relationship working out for you? If not let us help it reach its maximum potential.

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Treating Pain Naturally

treating pain naturally pic aug 2016Alternative therapies can often help in relieving pain and although there may be no ‘scientific’ explanation yet as to why they work so well the basic fact is that they do in lots of cases.

Did you know there is such a thing as a pain ‘syndrome’? It is not understood very well but it is when chronic pain spreads throughout the body from a beginning known cause but the spread itself has no ‘apparent’ reason. In America there are over 76 million people living in pain daily according to the American Pain Foundation. This is for a whole range of different illnesses. Often they are dismissed and sent to a psychologist being told they are exaggerating. Of course the upshot is that you are filling yourself with pain killers which have such detrimental side effects on your whole body and usually only relieve a part of the pain anyway.

Pain management in itself is not a large part of the medical course so it becomes a difficult situation when doctors are confronted with patients in chronic pain. The patient may find it easier and quicker to also do their own research into different methods of relieving pain by using both mainstream medical and alternative practitioners but it is important that they work together. This will make for a more accurate diagnosis. It is also important to realise that if a therapy is not working then you need to change it.

Alternative therapies have in some cases brought complete relief but then it must be remembered that not everyone is the same. In terms of relaxing it is good to take up some guided imagery or meditation where you can ‘chill out’ from what you are feeling. Proper meditation will focus the mind elsewhere so that you receive temporary relief as you are not focused on the pain and is a good start to giving you some reprieve. However it must be remembered that meditation is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced and will take some time to acquire. It will of course work quicker if you have a trained teacher guiding you.

Often you can be guided into the area where you are feeling the pain ‘in your head’ and visualize the muscles and area relaxing. After some time you will find that the body begins to respond to the visions you are creating in your head and the muscles begin to relax. It’s a bit similar to how the yogi’s in India can sit in the snow or stand on one leg for weeks but on a much smaller scale of course. It’s a matter of focusing and training the mind with discipline.

New advances in Neuroscience shed light on this and in the words of Martin Rossman M.D in ‘Guided imagery for self-healing’ who says that acute pain appears in areas of the brain that are connected to tissue damage but chronic pain lives in other areas of the brain, namely the prefrontal cortex and limbic system. This is where the brain stores emotions and memories. What this means is that the pain lives on in the body as a memory that we keep tapping into sometimes even after the actual pain has eased. So pain has a way of reinforcing itself by our repeated thoughts and emotions creating nerve pathways for impulses to travel along. Meditation can help make these pathways less active.

However this does not mean we should dismiss drugs completely. What is needed is a sensible approach as we need a way to function in our lives even when we are in pain. It is a good idea to have a wholistic biological/psychological/ social approach to pain so we can treat the physical to bring instant relief if possible, look at the underlying cause (such as anxiety or depression) as this can make the pain worse and then look at the social side which is how it affects the person’s ability to function at work and in their lifestyle. All three of these are needed to bring success.

There are a number of natural therapies that will be useful if you are in pain and these are:

Mind therapies bring changes about in the body and body changes affect the mind. This is helpful in all types of pain and reducing stress, panic and anxiety by way of changing the client’s focus. Some of these include meditation, visualization, biofeedback using a special machine which makes you alert to body processes and relaxation therapy with controlled breathing.

Physical exercises and therapies on the other hand will help with muscular and skeletal pain, joint pain and lower back pain. Usually the client will do strengthening and supporting exercises for muscles and joints to improve their alignment. These also release endorphins. They could be Feldenkrais which helps you build up the ease with which you move, Tai Chi which improves balance and energy flow, Bio-dynamic energy exercises which balance the energy in the body and Yoga or Pilates which strengthens the body through stretches and poses or physical resistance training.

Hands on massage or manipulation of the painful area are another method. This is useful with muscular or skeletal pain especially in neck or lower back or when you have over or under used the muscles. It restores mobility, increases circulation and lowers stress and blood pressure. Ways to do this is with Chiropractic work moving the joints into alignment, massage to relax the muscles, increase circulation and ease tension or Osteopathy by realigning the spine, ribs and joints.

On a more subtle level, Energy healing helps change the electrical energy emitted by the nervous system and often goes to the root of the pain. This may be needed when the actual injury is healed but the client is still feeling uncomfortable which could also be due to trauma, depression or anxiety. It assists in relaxing the body and the mind distracting the nervous system, producing endorphins and moving the energy in a more positive direction.  It involves such practices as acupuncture using needles to stimulate low energy points, acupressure which is similar and balances using just the fingers, Reiki using practitioner’s hands to increase energy flow and bring balance and Chi Kung which is similar to Tai Chi and cleans the body while circulating the energy.

In terms of what we are putting into our bodies we need to look at nutritional and herbal supplements which can help with all chronic pain and inflammation, stomach problems, headaches and even arthritis. They do this by boosting the immune system, reducing the inflammation and helping you to sleep better. They usually recommend eating plans high in grains, fruit, vegetables, fish and natural oils with supplements containing methysulfonylmethane which helps build bone and cartilage, turmeric to reduce inflammation, ginger and Omega fatty acids such as in flaxseed oil for the inflammation.

And of course, last but not least are the lifestyle changes you need to make to ensure the pain does not come back. These are changes to increase your immune system and give you a healthier sleeping pattern, positive ways of thinking, having plentiful healthy loving relationships so you feel supported and regular exercise as well as a balanced eating plan.

Given all of the above is it any wonder that it becomes so important to have a good natural therapist who is experienced in many of these areas and can lead you in the right direction? Often for the client it becomes so confusing with the many things they read and conflicting information out there. Find someone you can trust that will give you results and guide you in the direction through education and practice into taking responsibility for your own health so that in the future you will be more conversant with what to do and how to do it.

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ARE YOU ON A NEGATIVE SPIRAL?

migraine headache 1 picWhat is a negative spiral? It’s when a whole pile of negative thoughts, emotions or physical happenings in your life just pile up and it becomes too much. You get so immersed in it that you think that this is what your life is all about and it will never end and it’s all so very, very real. We’ve all had them. They can last a week or two but sometimes they last months, years.

So what do we do when we get caught in one of these? The first thing is to realise what is happening and take responsibility for it. It’s probably all been building up for a while. Things like this don’t just happen overnight. They build up slowly and what happens is that negative energy attracts negative energy like a magnet. This creates a chain of events, thoughts, feelings and before you know it you are saturated with that negative energy.

It is important to look at what is happening and make a note of what meaning you can get out of it. Is there anything positive you can glean from all this stuff you are going through? It is your choice as to how you handle what happens. You can be negative and stay feeling bad or look at the positive side which may just get you feeling a little better and help you shift perspective to the bigger picture. This involves being proactive and seeing how this situation could actually serve you in some way. Make a list of how you can turn it around and what can you gain in terms of appreciation of the changes it can help you make in your life?

The reason you need to do the above is because if you can glean the positive you have a chance to turn it all round. How? Well remember the movie ‘What the Bleep’ and ‘The secret’? It’s all true. It’s all about energy. Positive stuff gives out positive vibrations. Everything in this universe has a vibrational field and negativity is like a mobile phone signal going out to the universe just attracting more of the same stuff. That’s how a downward spiral picks up speed. One feeling attracts another, then another and before you know it you have a full set growing more intense by the moment.

The good thing is that the same happens with positive thoughts and emotions. You can correct a negative spiral by interrupting the pattern. Turn it around by choosing a slightly better way of thinking which will give you a slightly better feeling which will attract a better event. This will in turn give you an even more positive thought, a more positive feeling and start a whole series of positive events to flow in your direction.

You need to consciously realise there are ways to overcome the negativity in your life no matter what situation you have created for yourself. It is possible to lift yourself out of it by opening up your thinking and letting something new come into your thoughts. Look at all the possibilities and let yourself imagine the problem or situation is solved then follow that through with action.

Believe and focus on the positive. Shift your emphasis to what you want instead of complaining and worrying about what you don’t want. Soon you will find positive things will start to happen more and more quickly because you have produced a positive ‘magnet’. Quieten yourself down, tune into your inner self and listen to your heart. Be honest with yourself and then follow through on what you know inside you really need to do. Just do it! It may take some persistence, a new attitude and a bit of hard work but it can happen if you do it consistently. You must move towards the things that you really want because they won’t come to you if you just sit there. You have an active role in manifesting your own life so you must trust yourself to do what is right for you. Once you have done that, do the next thing, then the next and you will find you are no longer lost in negativity. One day you will reach the end of your trail and bingo! How many dreams did you fulfill in the meantime?

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Winter and flu shots

speak up and get help when you need it pic (1)I am often asked whether I believe people should get their flu shots. Not being a doctor I cannot comment on this and I believe it is the individual’s choice, however there is a trend to advise flu shots for young children and older people.

Influenza is an infectious respiratory disease, caused by a virus that can be a great risk to certain groups of people such as older Australians, small babies and people with immunity illnesses. A complication of the flu can be pneumonia and often people end up in hospital with this.

As with any immunisation it is important to prevent rather than try and cure. We are all familiar with the polio, whooping cough, measles vaccines etc which we give our children. However the flu shots are a little different. The argument by some people is that if you take them every year then you build no natural immunity. Other reasons are when people do take the shots sometimes they end up with a worse flu than if they would not have had them at all.

Scientists usually study early in the year which strains are more dominant. They pick the worst three and develop vaccines made from some of the strains the year before. Sometimes however, like last year, there were new strains completely and occasionally the vaccine batch made does not fit the type of strain closely enough. Having said this though statistics over the years show that often the vaccine is a good match.

Even some doctors are beginning to think there are reasons not to give flu shots to their patients. A study published even way back in the British Medical Journal ‘The Lancet’ on Aug. 2, 2008 found the vaccine didn’t lower the risk of pneumonia. Other researchers found that the people who needed it most were usually too old and frail to even get to the doctor’s office for it to protect them.

What other researchers say is that we need a longer-lasting vaccine that gives immunity for more than just one year. It is usually recommended that older people, nursing home residents, health care workers, people with low immune systems, children, pregnant women or those in contact with people at high risk be immunised. As a natural practitioner though, working with sick people all the time, I need to say that I rarely get the flu and no, I do not take flu shots. My natural immunity is quite high. It’s up to you to make up your mind what is right for you.

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LOOK AFTER YOUR BRAIN

look after your brain picDid you know that your brain is 2% of your body weight but uses 20% of your energy? It has 100 billion cells that make a million connections every second. Advances in neuroscience now show that brain development goes on into old age.

The brain continues to grow neural pathways and make new connections through repetitive use. Subtle changes occur in chemistry and brain structure through your whole life. Neurons readjust to damage and degeneration as long as the neuronal cell body is intact, by growing new dendrites and forming new synaptic connections.

Did you know that the part of the brain called the hippocampus has been found to be larger in people who drive a lot such as coach drivers or taxi drivers? It is associated with navigation and memory and has been found to grow the more people use it which is useful in the study of brain illnesses. It was also found that stress shrinks the brain and lessens memory banks.

It was also found that people with Cushing’s syndrome (a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of tissues to high levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone that puts their systems into overdrive) also have problems with memory and smaller hippocampus.

Studies also show that laughter uses emotional responses of the amygdale, thalamic brain areas and the stem plus the frontal areas. In short it involves a lot of areas of the brain with humour perceived in the right frontal cortex, temporal regions and maybe even the cerebellum but they still don’t know exactly how we determine what is humorous and what is not.
The capacity of the brain to reconfigure wiring is called neuroplasticity. It is this that develops our individuality and is important in protecting people from degenerative age-related illnesses and to help in recovery from brain injuries. It is also involved in changing our minds with deliberate thought processes, introduction of new learnt skills which strengthen the neural pathways.

Natural Health Practitioners can help doctors and surgeons in supporting clients with brain dysfunction, stress, mood disorders, substance abuse or degeneration through correct nutrition, herbal remedies, diet and lifestyle advice as well as using different modalities in treating the body holistically.

The main ways to support cellular health of the central nervous system is through the membranes, mitochondrial function (which has got to do with toxins in the body), neurotransmitters and methylation (which is caused by enzymes that can modify heavy metals). These four areas affect healthy brain biochemistry throughout life. For this we need Omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and mitochondrial nutrients. That is why it is important to have correct nutrition and supplements, take enzymes to ensure correct digestion so the supplements aren’t wasted and to keep the brain active by reading, learning something new, meditation etc and to turn off the TV set sometimes. The brain controls the whole body so look after it.
If you have been having problems with your memory give your natural practitioner a call and see what they can do to assist.

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