The Heart of Music

 

Thanks Aelana for this really interesting harp music therapy programme that looks at the relationship between the heart and music.

The site contains an interesting vimeo from the Institute of Heart Math about the heart and music.  Good information on using biofeedback to train heart rate variability, and induce relaxation and healing in the body.

When we lose consciousness or die, the hearing is one of the last senses to go.

Maybe this is why music is so sacred.

This also spreads light on why chanting is so healing.

When we chant or sing we are soothing our hearts! 🙂

Harping Heals

Harp playing relaxes, energizes, soothes, and heals the youngest of children and oldest of adults.

    • Releases emotional pain
    • Improves short-term memory and attention span
    • Increases social interaction
    • Builds self-esteem
    • Relieves stress

 

http://www.harptherapyinternational.com/

http://www.heartmath.org/

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The Five Essentials … For Health & Happiness – Guest Blog

I would like to thank fredphillips.wordpress.com for this guest blog post, which shows, that we humans are not so different; and if you ask the universe (or the internet) you will find people out there who you have a lot in common with. 🙂 thanks fred!

There are five things that are essential for our health and happiness. I call these, oddly enough, The Five Essentials. Catchy, eh?

We are in the midst of enormous suffering on the planet. Rates of disease are spiraling upwards. Bullying is an epidemic, especially in our schools.  Regional and domestic conflicts abound. Many magnificent species are disappearing, or at the risk of disappearing, from the planet.

I could go on and regale you with more depressing stuff, but I really don’t want you to stop reading.

The truth is (and I believe this with all my heart), there is a solution to all this misery and it has to do with … you guessed it  … The Five Essentials. So let’s get right to it. Here they are:

  1. To have an awareness of the truths of our existence
  2. To feel good about ourselves
  3. To heal our emotional pain
  4. To eat and drink healthy stuff
  5. To get active

Let’s briefly examine each of these essentials to see what they’re all about. (Yes, I know, a couple of them are rather self evident.)

1. To have an awareness of the truths of our existence:

Understanding the truths of who we really are and why we’re really here on the planet (there is little evidence to suggest it has anything to do with getting rich & famous) is critical if we have any hope of changing human behaviour. It certainly inspired me to change mine. I think if we knew for instance, that we live in oneness with God and everything else that exists, we would not treat each other the way we do. We wouldn’t start wars. We wouldn’t exploit the animal kingdom and we wouldn’t pollute. We would let go of fear. We would live with more compassion and love. We would be more altruistic. And we would be more humble.

If you want to know more, immerse yourself in spirituality. Talk to spiritual people. Read books by Eckhart Tolle, Caroline Myss, Wayne Dyer, Neale Donald Walsch and my own book, The History Teacher. Read my spiritual posts at fredphillips.wordpress.com.

2. To feel good about ourselves:

If we all felt good about ourselves … if we all felt lovable, worthy, good enough and empowered … again, we would not behave the way we do. We would not mistreat others. We would be more kind and forgiving. We would be more honest. We wouldn’t put people out of work. We would eat healthier foods.

If you want to change the way you feel about yourself, just be kind.

3. To heal our emotional pain:

We are a society full of unresolved emotional pain. We are loaded with anger, grief, shame, guilt and resentment. If we have any hope of creating peace on earth (one of the reasons we’re here), we need to release this pain. We need to transform it into something healthier and more positive.

If you want to heal your unresolved emotional pain, forgive who you need to forgive, apologize who you need to apologize to, cry if you need to and when you feel anger, scream into a pillow until you feel better.

4. To eat and drink healthy:

With all due respect to those who earn their living working in the fast food, junk food and processed food industries, if we really want to put an end to cancer and all other forms of disease, we need to eat better. We especially need to drastically reduce our sugar intake and eliminate artificial sweeteners and gmos. Why? Because this stuff acidifies our bodies and weakens our immune systems (80% of our immune system is situated in our gastrointestinal tract), leaving us susceptible to disease.

If you want to do one simple thing to improve your diet and your health, start eating fermented foods, especially, sauerkraut. It will put much needed healthy bacteria in your gut.

5. To get active:

As a whole,  we are far too sedentary and we’re paying a high price for it. Our bodies aren’t fit, leaving us vulnerable to stress and disease. We need to get active. I highly recommend martial arts or yoga, but if you do nothing else, go for a walk every day!

I believe in my heart that having an awareness of these Five Essentials, understanding  them and incorporating them into our daily lives will bring us peace of mind, joyful living and love (sign me up for that). They will bring us happiness (that too)!

The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown

I watched this talk this evening and have to admit that I laughed, probably a bit too loudly, through this very touching Ted talk re-blogged by Dr Frank Lipman.  I have seen it before from Be Well and Happy.

For all my fellow onions out there, I think this is a really important and not often enough discussed topic which has cropped up a lot recently (see links).

For everyone  this weekend please share Brene’s Talk  on vulnerability as an idea worth spreading.

 

http://bewellandhappy.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/brene-brown-ted-talk-on-vulnerability/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/brene-brown-the-power-of-vulnerability/

http://fredphillips.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/the-beauty-and-benefits-of-vulnerability/

Epilepsy and the Circadian Rhythm – Do you dance to the beat of your own drum?

Exercising for many people can be a struggle, because of body image, obesity, lack of time or just lack of interest.

For myself it was seizures that were very much inhibiting movement.

One of the important factors in turning that around was the discovery of the Circadian Rhythm (1) and how it impacted on my hormones and seizure patterns.

I have always had difficulty keeping my alter ego ‘Wareruth’ under wraps. Husbands across the globe will hold testament to the fact that their nearest and dearest turn into unrecognisable creatures, with gnashing teeth that can only be consoled with chocolate bribes when the moon gets fat. For women with epilepsy this may be compounded by the problems that ‘Catamenial’ (2) epilepsy and oestrogen and progesterone fluctuations cause (3).

Since childhood I have always been more likely to have seizures on a monthly basis resulting from hormones, although it is not the reason why I have epilepsy.

I now monitor the situation closely and have found that my seizure pattern has changed over the years. This appears to be in time with the progesterone and oestrogen monthly cycle.

Changes in oestrogen production also occur around pregnancy. In women with epilepsy it also can cause marked changes at menopause as well (4).

Interestingly migraine is also commonly linked to the monthly cycle in some women (5).

Personally I find that pain management becomes a high priority at this time, my body in particular my back and my joints get really sensitive.

After trial and error no medication has controlled this.

On realising this was the case I had to find out how to ‘go with the flow’ sought of speak.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda seemed to be helpful because of their understanding of the endocrine system.

I would be very interested in finding out more about what Ayurveda has to say about epilepsy, the model I am most familiar with is TCM.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is based on the Five Element model (6). Within this model holds the key to understanding how seasons in the year and times of the day are attributed to different organs in the body (also known as the Circadium rhythm or biorhythms), and how these impact on the body.

For example the Kidneys are linked to winter and the element Water. The TCM model also incorporates the emotions into this model so the emotion that is attached to the kidneys is fear. The endocrine system is very sensitive to emotions (7),so understanding your emotional make up is a useful tool for managing potentially damaging emotions such as stress which may impact on epilepsy management.

Using methods like yoga – in particular Hatha yoga, ‘yin yoga’ (8) and Qigung (9); have brought me some relief from epilepsy symptoms, this includes meditation exercises of any form.

Yin Yoga, in particular, I found very helpful for acute problems at the wrong time of the month. Yin yoga postures that allow for supported deep relaxation on the floor allow me to feel in a place of safety as well as relax, stretch and release tension. My living room floor looks like a sofa the amount of cushions and blankets I use!

Having spent much of life hitting the floor, feeling safe on it is very reassuring. Letting gravity take its course without going south can be a good thing.

Equally I have found that standing poses in tai chi practice (although nothing in riding horse stance – sitting down into hips with legs wide apart this causes dizziness and nausea for me). Standing in Bear posture with feet shoulder width apart so the Kidney 1 points (10) on both feet are firmly anchored to the ground can also be highly beneficial for hormonal problems (I find).

Sadly wanting to run around and play with my friends is not something that results in good seizure management when my body is at its most sensitive. Neither is activating the sympathetic system. There is a delicate balance between doing too much and too little. I defiantly don’t want to be rolling around or standing on my head at high risk times.

I’m not saying I wrap myself in cotton wool, but from my experience pushing to exercise my body when it’s vulnerable can cause further seizures. If I listen to my body and give it some respect when it needs tender loving care, problems don’t crop up so much.

Throughout the day, one of the most positive changes that has helped in my seizure management was being able to lye down for 20 minutes at lunch times.  This is either to close my eyes and rest or meditate. This meant that I have a chance to de-stress, re-charge and avoid overtiring which caused further seizures.  This has really reduced seizure problems associated with overtiredness and stress.

My Qigung and tai chi instructors (11) are very passionate about ‘lying chi gung’. The hours between 11am and 1pm are known as ‘heart time’ on the Chinese Clock and for this reason it is identified as a good time to rest the heart.

Although this is not an exact science – like the rhythm method of birth control (don’t take risks – I always take my medication), having some understanding of how hormones can be managed through exercise or not has been really helpful to me.

For the best results I find continual practice of yoga or chi gung and tai chi are what is most effective in order to have preventative and long term health benefits.

It is unfortunate that my favourite pastime – calculating how many endorphins are in one cubic centimetre of chocolate Marsbar – is probably not helpful to my hormone balance or blood sugar! 🙂

If you have epilepsy and have any experience of the above I would be very interested in hearing your management strategies and any tips are always welcome!

If you have any experience of complementary or integrative medicine I would also like to hear your thoughts on this as I find it fascinating and would welcome hearing from anyone else’s experience.

I like dancing, finding my own beat has meant that I can enjoy the music of life.

1)       http://www.jcircadianrhythms.com/

2)      http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/women/your-periods-menstrual-cycle

3)      http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/michael+r-+trimble/women+and+epilepsy/3569072/

4)      http://professionals.epilepsy.com/page/hormones_menopause.html

5)      http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Migraine-Triggered-by-Periods.htm

6)      http://www.tcmbasics.com/basics_5elements.htm

7)      http://candacepert.com/biography/

8)      http://www.sarahpowers.com/

9)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong

10)   http://www.acupuncture.com/education/points/kidney/kid1.htm

11)   http://www.uktqf.co.uk/

Health Problems and Emotional Wellbeing – Prevention Not Cure

In his forward to Chinese Medical Qigong page 1 (1) Marc S. Micozzi M.D. PHD states “current political debates in the US about healthcare “reform” amount only to “rearranging the deck chairs on the SS Titanic”.

Personally I would extend this description of healthcare to Britain as well, because in my experience current welfare and NHS “reform” amounts to the same superficial, short sighted rearrangement. (2)

In global economic recession poverty and therefore health problems are on the rise.

In the book ‘Violence, inequality and human freedom’ by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe; ‘structural violence’ is described as ‘violence of institutions’, ‘for example, violence can be an outcome of how we have organised society in terms of access to basic necessities of survival’ (3). The implications of which are limited access to medical care and education for the poor.

In the wake of the economic sinking ship there is the question; how to tackle health problems when poverty is on the rise?

The NICE Guidelines for clinical excellence (4) lay out the ‘stepped approach’ for mental health problems and recommend therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling and access to health care services which should be available to combat common mental health disorders. NICE lays out all guidelines for healthcare in Britain.

It is unfortunate that the resources to provide for these guidelines are being cut, or in some cases are simply not there at all (5). Additionally changes to the benefit system are being made which negatively impact upon the emotional health of the sick and disabled (6).

The situation is not helped by competition for the little work that is available. It is easier to manage health with an income and something to occupy the mind such as a job, in my experience.

What possible solutions are there to these problems?

Could the application of systems theory (7) be the beginning of change in bringing information about health to the masses?

In her book ‘Your Health is Your Wealth’, Jacqueline Harvey appears to be supporting the view that self-education and self-care and responsibility are the way forward in terms of a long term solutions to integrative health. (8)

I support this whole heartedly, as in my experience holistic health practices such as yoga (9) and tai chi (10) are very beneficial for health and promote self-care and self-education. They encourage the exploration of body, nutrition/diet and psychological personal development.

It would be nice to think that children have the opportunity to access these types of exercises and mindfulness practices, as well as physical education and sports so that in the future they did not need to access Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (11) for health conditions like personality disorder. DBT has some basis in Buddhist mindfulness practice. Would it therefore be cost effective to build mindfully based approaches to health into the education and health system from an early age?

In the circumstances the building of networks, social or otherwise, and communities on a local, national and worldwide scale; made up of existing established resources, practices and health resources seem like the way forward in tipping the balance towards preventing health problems and managing conditions.

I think I am a little bit ‘evangelical’ about promoting personal health care exploration.

God bless the World Wide Web.

And finally:http://www.drfranklipman.com/motivation-and-personality/ an after thought but very relevent.

References

(1) Chinese Medical Qigong – Editor in Chief: Tianjun Liu, OMD Associate Editor in Chief: Kevin W Chen, Ph.D.

(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/vincent-brogan/private-healthcare-and-th_b_1909057.html?utm_hp_ref=health-and-social-care-bill

(3) Violence, Inequality and Human Freedom by Peter Iadicola and Anson Shupe ISBN:0-7425-1923-6 Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc

(4) http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13476/54520/54520.pdf

(5) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/11/benefit-reforms-penalise-disabled-people

(6) http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/FailedByTheSystemReport.pdf

(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory

(8) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Health-Is-Wealth/dp/1401916287

mine came free with http://www.ommagazine.com/ October 2012

(9) http://littlewindmillyoga.com/2012/10/21/yoga-the-ultimate-freedom-trailer/

(10)                    http://www.taichimaster.com/tai-chi/the-tai-chi-tipping-point/

(11)                    http://www.priory.com/dbt.htm

A Breath of Fresh Air – Post viral O2

There is nothing like influenza to boost catch up reading.

Ironically the book I chose to read was called ‘The Revelation of the Breath’ by Sharon G. Mijares Editor.

This collection of short essays on breathing did at least serve the purpose of ramming home to me why I was sick in the first place (unhealthy breathing patterns). It is a fabulous introduction to many breathing techniques from east to west, religious, spiritual and medical.

What I particularly liked about it was an article on breathing for Aikido by Darrell Bluhm Shihan.

I really like aikido but have never read up on it in particular because my teacher who is a bit of a traditionalist, put the emphasis on ‘doing’ not ‘reading’.

When I asked if there were any books he recommended he told me in no uncertain terms that it was practice not reading I should be concentrating on.

Fair point really.

But this book is really good  at explaining breathing techniques, their purposes and the philosophy, physiology and psychology behind them.

I was particularly taken by Buteyko for asthma, sleep and apnoea, and Rebirthing completely reframed birth trauma. The section on Freediving was quite revealing. Personally holding my breath is not an area I have ever explored (one of the diving instructors I met said that underwater diving and epilepsy aren’t a good gas and air mix).

Maybe I’ll just have to practice pausing between air intake and exhale for now. There are lots of rhythms to use after all.

Breath can be energising or relaxing, exciting or tranquil. Huffing and puffing can be quite good fun 🙂

I like that someone took the time to write about how breathing can be a revelation.

Make of it what you will I hope you enjoy this book as much as I am.

Here is a link to view it, also available from Amazon.

http://www.sunypress.edu/p-4912-the-revelation-of-the-breath.aspx

‘It’s character building’ – Epilepsy and Karate part 2

I read an article written by one Sensei analysing how she felt following a car accident where she injured her back quite badly and found her-self lying in hospital thinking ‘none of this is as bad as a training session with our Sensei’.

Under the firm conviction that ‘it’s a man’s world a girl’s got to be able to look after herself’ I put aside my reservations about Karate and joint care to have a go as an adult.

As a child I struggled to hit people with conviction. Not being the slightest bit athletic I was happier doing kata as it meant remembering patterns or dancing around as I saw it (all wannabe ballerina’s do!). I only learnt 3 kata because I didn’t stay long enough to learn any more.

As an adult, thankfully, like ‘Cat- woman’ in the latest Batman film ‘The Dark Night Rises’; I don’t feel quite so strongly about not hitting people. Preferring the approach of ‘varying degrees of massage’ I did feel strongly that it is important to be able to defend myself.

I went to see the film ‘Lawless’ last night (based on a true story) (1). The story of 3 brothers, the youngest of whom is Jack Bondurant (played by Shia Lebouf) who wouldn’t hurt a fly.

The film is interesting from the point of view that we see the events that change Jack.

How violence and injustice cause people to behave and the outcome at the end make for a gripping movie. What is more interesting is that the final straw is not violence inflicted on Jack, but against those he loves that is the emotional turning point.

The film is a study of fear and survival at a time of great hardship.

Physical and psychological attack is something that happens in life. No-one wants a big sign over their head saying ‘kick me’.

Sickness and disability in particular make people vulnerable to harassment, discrimination and abuse.

The way sick and disabled people are viewed in Britain currently is a whole new Dickensian novel. (2)

The Paralympics have just been hosted In Britain and while this has brought much discussion and debate in our country about ability in the context of disability; society has a long way to go before everyone is treated as equal. (3)

My own personal ‘fight back’ campaign began with Karate as a child and somehow stayed in my head as a ‘Nemesis’.

If I could draw a line pinpointing where it all started to go pear-shaped at 12 years old after falling down the stairs from having a seizure then Karate was the defining event.

Ultimately to beat epilepsy it felt like I had to do karate.

If I were a computer it would be like going in and re-writing the programming. Who doesnt need a copy of ‘Toumb Raider’ amongst the microsoft office software?

Is this going towards the ‘Dark side’ or facing up to my own demons?

Personally to me it felt like I was addressing something within myself.

I wake up every day and look at myself in the mirror. I see my best friend and my worst enemy. That is before I even have to deal with anybody else.

When I first started training I was very ill. I purchased a t-shirt with a superman ‘S’ on the front. It was like I needed to create my own personal alter ego to make me superhuman and to protect me.

Nearly 5 years down the line I can honestly say that karate training has helped me keep a job (despite discrimination), keep my home and given me the help I need without having to resort to violence.

I think that everybody can find their inner ‘grit’. For me I just needed to find the people who could show me the way.

There is no such thing as superheros who can protect us.

If we are lucky we have friends who care enought to look out for us.

It would be nice to think that there is someone out there that would fight for you when your screaming but no-one can hear you.

1)      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawless_(film)

2)      http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/press-release-former-paralympian-joins-activists-to-target-atos#.UDaRnwwg0j0.facebook

1)      http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/paralympians-state-help-disabled-benefits-cut

Pushing The Boundaries – Epilepsy and Karate part 1

Wearing a Gi (karate suit) is a bit like going on camera because you gain a few pounds.
What on earth was I doing?
My first brush with a Dojo (Japanese martial training hall) was when I was 12. It was my good friend (or fiend depending on how you look at her) who thought it would be a good idea to go and train with or local karate club under Sensi Roger Sayce.
Roger was well loved by everybody who he taught and to this day I will never forget how every time he saw me he would ask when I was going to start training again.
So it didn’t last long.
Roger never gave up on me, if only he were alive today I would be able to tell him how much I now appreciate this and thank him.
There were a couple of reasons training came to an end. One was the distance and effort required to get to town for after school training (a mile to a milk stand outside a farm, 12 miles to town with my neighbour who was going training and her very kind dad who offered me lifts), Seizures and medication and also the grading examiner who was a bit scary. As a 12 year old I think I started shaking when he started shouting and shook all through the examinations – just two of them in two years. I was not brimming with confidence as a child and so I was quite happy to go and train without re-visiting grading’s (where you get a shiny new belt).
Mum and Dad were not enthused by my new found hobby and steadfastly refused to support me in my pursuit of ‘violence’. Unfortunately they missed the bit about fitness, discipline, confidence, self -defence, spirit, etc.
Eventually after a couple of years I stopped training at the level of temporary red belt or 8th Kyu.
Years passed and I declared I would start karate again ‘over my dead body’.
Time passed and my good friend married someone who also eat, slept and breathed karate. She and everyone else I started training with reached dizzying heights of ninja skills and I just got more and more sick.
And so, years later, I started karate training once more for a large number of reasons.
After being described by my friend’s husband as a ‘tai chi tree hugging hippie’ I thought I should check out the local club once more (pride in NO way played a part).
In all seriousness there are good reasons to train with people who seem to have turned out confident, self -assured, independent, assertive individuals. When faced with life’s problems they all seem to stand firmly in the face of adversity.

What did I have to loose?