Healing approaches

Yoga: Developing compassion as a first step towards peace and harmony

Photo by Cedric Lim on Pexels.com

By Gayatri, yoga, meditation teacher and gong practitioner

Yoga as a practice is thousands of years old, whose teachings were originally passed from teacher to student by word of mouth. The word ‘yoga’ itself means to yoke, unite or harness. As such, yoga is a state of being, which manifests itself as a uniting of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies with the energies of nature and the cosmos.

In Western culture, yoga is largely seen – although this situation is starting to change – as a series of postures performed to help create and maintain physical health. In fact, the practice of Hatha yoga (yoga of the body) was originally developed to focus on strengthening and balancing the body’s energies to prepare for meditation, which could lead to transcendental realisation (enlightenment).

But in reality, yoga is a vast subject and physical practice is simply one important aspect. For instance, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were written as a practical guide for raising levels of consciousness and understanding by helping people to move through the different levels of the mind and even beyond it. 

The word ‘sutra’ means thread. So each sutra can be seen as a thread running through a tapestry. When all the threads are woven together, it is possible to see the whole picture. 

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, ‘yama’ and ‘niyama’ are introduced in the second book, Sadhana Pada – 2:29, as the first two limbs or steps on the path of Ashtanga yoga (eight-limbed yoga or the eightfold path).

According to Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati: “The yamas are meant to harmonise one’s social and external interactions, whereas the Niyamas create a sense of discipline in one’s inner life.”

Yama and niyama also form the foundation and framework of Raja yoga (the yoga of meditation) and act as guidelines for harmonious living. They are intended to bring mental clarity, stillness and strength to people, so that they can reach the higher states of meditation and consciousness. Even if you choose not to follow a yoga path to its ultimate conclusion (enlightenment) though, cultivating the yamas and niyamas can still bring more peace and harmony into your life.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ahimsa

The first yama, which isahimsa, translates loosely as ‘non-violence’. But in the words of Swami Ahimsadhara, it could more accurately be described as “the complete absence of violence from our nature”. Indeed, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:35 (translated by Swami Satchidananda) state: “In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.”

Ahimsa is placed first on the list of yamas because, by cultivating non-violence, the rest of the yama and niyama that follow should unfold more easily. As Swami Ahimsadhara Saraswati says: “When we integrate ahimsa into all that we do, the other yamas and niyamas tend to spontaneously and effortlessly become part of who we are and how we live.”

Therefore, through cultivating non-violence, we make friends with our minds and lay the groundwork for everything else to follow. So how can we begin to develop ahimsa or ‘compassion’ in our daily lives?

The first step starts with awareness: Awareness of our thoughts, feelings and the internal dialogue we have with ourselves. All too often we treat ourselves harshly and are unaware of the hurt we perpetuate within our own being. But by creating some space, either within a group practising tai chi, yoga or meditation or by ourselves in a nurturing environment, we can begin to explore our internal landscape.

Here is a simple breath awareness exercise that can easily be brought into regular practice in your daily life. Focusing on the breath encourages the parasympathetic nervous system (system that promotes relaxation) to switch itself on.

Setting a convenient time to undertake this exercise in a quiet space dedicated to doing so encourages regular practice. Once you are comfortable with the technique, you will find it can be used in all kinds of locations, for example, in a waiting room, on public transport or in your car when you are stuck in traffic.

Breath awareness exercise

  • Sit comfortably and, if appropriate, close your eyes or lower your gaze. 
  • Become aware of each breath as it arrives and leaves. Allow yourself to take several breaths and focus on each arrival and departure.
  • Notice the texture of the breath on your skin as it flows in and out.  
  • Notice any other sensations or qualities to the breath as the practice unfolds.
  • If your mind is distracted and your awareness wanders away from the breath, gently draw your attention back to it and its journey as it arrives and leaves.
  • When you feel comfortable with the practice, add a count: ‘Breathing in one… Breathing out one…Breathing in two…Breathing out two…’. Notice any pauses at the top of the inhalation and/or the bottom of the exhalation.
  • If comfortable, you can add physical movement to synchronise with the breath by placing both hands on the centre of the chest (the spiritual heart space). On the in-breath, move the hands away, opening the arms out with soft shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. On the out breath, draw them back to the heart space.
  • Practice this exercise for a few complete breaths and, when it feels comfortable, visualise yourself sending compassion out to all beings as your hands move away from the heart space. Visualise offering yourself compassion as your hands return to the heart.
  • At the end of the practice, return to stillness with your hands gently resting in your lap and observe your body, breath and any thoughts and feelings that may be present.

The purpose of this exercise is to note each complete breath. Although there is no set length or prescribed number of times it should be undertaken each day, as a guide, start with 10-15 complete breaths (a complete breath consists of one inhalation and one exhalation) twice a day. 

As time goes on, simply increase or drop the number of breaths in line with what feels comfortable. There is no rush, so take the time to develop a practice at your own pace.

The real key to success here is regularity, which involves setting an intention to practice daily. By setting this time aside, we are showing compassion to ourselves in that we are demonstrating ourselves worthy of the time and effort involved. 

If a day or two slips by and you forget to practice, just return to it the next day, putting aside any judgement or criticism. None of us are perfect and no one is keeping score – it is called a practice because we are practising. 

We would expect a toddler, who is learning to walk, to fall down again and again, and so, as we cultivate ahimsa(compassion) in our daily lives, we discover that we too are finding our way. Showing compassion to ourselves is vital for our own wellbeing and, as we become more compassionate to ourselves, we also find it easier to be kinder to the world around us.

As Plato said: “Be kind, because everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle”. But that also includes ourselves.

Gayatri

Gayatri (Gail Gibbs) teaches yoga and meditation and is a gong practitioner. She is passionate about creating space for those of any age to explore their transformational potential in a safe and nurturing way. Cultivating compassion for oneself is at the heart of Gayatri’s teaching and sound work, thus allowing the process of personal growth and change to unfold.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Kundalini yoga: Helping you evolve towards love

Sound healing: Using the gong to restore harmony and balance

A healthy heart: What’s love got to do with it?

Healing approaches

Is music really a tool for healing?

By Debbie Walmsley, crystal healer and reiki practitioner

As music can have a big effect on clients and their experience during energy healing work, it makes sense to choose the tracks to play with care.

Have you ever noticed that when listening to certain kinds of music, it is impossible to keep your fingers and toes still, while other types of melodies make you want to throw the radio out of the window? Has a song ever reduced you to tears because it was sad, or happy or just beautiful? Maybe you have created a special playlist to motivate you when running or at the gym? Perhaps it is a different one when you want to relax and unwind?

So all in all, it seems that music could have a bigger impact than most of us realise. We know that it affects our internal functions, such as blood pressure, that it can speed or slow down our heart rate, reduce anxiety and even help digestion.

But how does it do this and why does it impact us in the way it does? The answer lies in frequencies. The way we feel and the way our brain responds when we listen depends on the combination of frequencies on the music track. This is known as the ‘frequency response’.

Most modern music is tuned to 440Hz. According to researcher Brian T. Collins, who also creates mindful music, this standard pitch (A=440 Hz) does not harmonise at any level with cosmic movement, rhythm or natural vibrations. Classical musicians such as Mozart and Verdi, on the other hand, based their music on the natural musical pitch of A=432Hz due to its healing energy and the natural ‘feel-good’ properties it evoked in their audiences.

According to Dutch journalist Richard Huisken, who has researched the origins and benefits of music tuned to 432Hz, these sounds are softer and brighter, provide greater clarity and are generally easier on the ears. Many people experience more meditative and relaxing states of body and mind when listening to such music. It also gives a more harmonic and pleasant sound than 440Hz.

Interestingly, the 432Hz frequency also works with the heart chakra, or ‘centre of feelings’, and may influence the listener’s spiritual development. Some people who cannot necessarily tell the difference between sounds resonating at 440Hz and 432Hz claim they can feel that the music is ‘warmer’, maybe as a result of its longer wavelength.

The 432Hz frequency resonates at the top end of the theta brainwave range, which induces a state of very deep relaxation, and the start of the alpha brainwave range, which brings about a deep meditative state. As a result, it makes us feel very relaxed but also conscious and open to intuitive learning at the same time.

Attuning with Mother Nature

But just think for a moment about how many different frequencies emanating from mobile phones, Wi-Fi networks, radios and microwaves travel through our brains in a given day. They all operate at different frequencies and pull our brain from one frequency to the next. It is no wonder that these devices, which all emit artificial electromagnetic radiation, have been linked to depression, insomnia and even cancer.

As a result, it makes sense to spend as much time as possible attuned to the natural electromagnetic pulses of the earth (the heartbeat of Mother Nature) – at 432 Hz – in order to feel more centred, balanced and peaceful.

Further evidence of music routinely being played at 432Hz, meanwhile, can be found in ancient Greece, where instruments associated with Orpheus – the God of Music – were tuned to this frequency. Moreover, according to international researcher and musician Ananda Bosman, the majority of instruments unearthed from ancient Egyptian sites were also tuned to the same pitch. Sound researcher Jamie Buturff likewise discovered that many CD recordings of Tibetan monks’ singing bowls were tuned to 432Hz too.

This situation is undoubtedly due to the frequency’s direct link with Mother Nature and its ability to help people relax for meditative purposes. The more you listen to music tuned to 432Hz, the more peaceful and happier you will feel as your brain becomes attuned to the Earth’s frequency.

We, like the plants and animals, are all part of Mother Nature and consist of energy that resonates at its own frequency. Therefore, playing music that is not tuned to this frequency over a prolonged period of time will make us feel out of sync. Could this be the reason that certain types of music are linked to behavioural issues and intense negative emotional reactions in some people? Possibly.

We all know music has healing properties: Music therapists use music to help restore memory in Alzheimer’s patients and improve basic motor skills in stroke victims. We also know that listening to specific frequencies in concentrated amounts entrains the brain to experience specific states of wellbeing.

Listening to 432Hz is proven to have a calming effect and regular listening will decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, while promoting natural healing and a deeper connection with all sentient beings and the world at large. So it really is time to tune yourself into Mother Nature’s heartbeat.

If you would like to try the healing properties of music for yourself, email me at debbie653@hotmail.com and I will send you a link to one of my free mediations based on 432Hz music – but do let me know how it makes you feel.

Debbie Walmsley

Debbie Walmsley is a reiki practitioner, crystal healer, master hypnotherapist and Three Principles facilitator. She is also a member of the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists and the Complimentary Medical Association. Debbie has been a natural healer all her life, having first discovered the power of healing in her teenage years. She has studied various forms of energy healing, which included spending a month in Peru with a shaman.

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A beginner’s guide to crystal healing

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Healing approaches

Spring fever: Tackling hay fever the homeopathic way

By Lisa Glydon, homeopath

As we move into spring, it is time for many of us to start thinking about how to protect ourselves against allergies, such as hay fever. On a year-by-year basis, we are seeing a consistent increase in allergic responses brought about by reactions to airborne irritants and/or certain foods.

Allergens can consist of virtually anything that provokes a hypersensitive reaction. They range from pollens and pollutants, such as exhaust fumes, to foods, mobile phones and even, in certain cases, the sun. Such reactions can be mild to life threatening, and everything in between.

The three most common substances that people react to are pollen, dairy and wheat. Although there is no proven connection, interestingly all three are originally grass products. It may be that some hay fever sufferers become sensitised to proteins that are common to grains, grasses, and possibly milk.

Dairy products encourage mucus production and, in certain situations, should be avoided. Similarly, many modern strains of processed wheat are high in gluten content, which can irritate the digestive tract and likewise stimulate mucus production.

Depending on how severe it is, the reaction to such substances will determine whether you are suffering an allergic response or simply experiencing an intolerance. But when a homeopath treats hay fever, there are two aspects they are trying to achieve:

  1. To treat the acute hay fever symptoms that are presenting immediately: Here the aim is to select a remedy that is most similar to the condition itself as homeopathic medicine produces the same symptoms as those experienced by the sick person and, in doing so, provokes the body into throwing those symptoms off. In other words, like is cured by like.
  2. To provide long-term constitutional treatment in order to remove the body’s tendency to over-react to substances that it should be able to deal with: Hay fever is a more complicated condition than it first appears. As a result, it can take someone two or three seasons to get rid of completely, with each season demonstrating less severe reactions and symptoms than the last.

Here is why: An over-reactive, or allergic, response is often a sign of a weakened and stressed immune and nervous system. To achieve healing in this instance, a homeopath needs to discover why the ‘broken down’ system is reacting in this way. Careful management of lifestyle and diet will support and improve weakened organs, thereby reducing over-reactive responses.

Most people think of the immune system as simply ‘strong’ or ‘weak’. But, in fact, it consists of many sections, and each section must work well with every other one. Organising how these immune responses work together is the job of a group of white blood cells called ‘lymphocytes’. These lymphocytes organise the fine workings of the sections within the immune system.

For people with allergies, one particular type of lymphocyte seems to play an important role – the T cell. These regulatory T cells limit inflammation by turning off unwanted immune responses that are the hallmark of an allergy. So rather than fearing the allergen, which may have been in the environment for many years, it makes more sense to strengthen the immune system to deal with it.

When the body suffers a ‘stress’ of some kind, it is normal to release histamine, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This ‘stress’ could come from the external environment or take the shape of a stressful thought or worry.

Histamine causes your capillary walls to become more permeable so that more antibodies and nutrients can reach the body to try and heal it. The result is local ‘inflammation’ and the involuntary smooth muscles (which are hollow and work unconsciously, such as the stomach, oesophagus and bronchus) contract to protect the body from invading pathogens or poisons. The result here might be either a cough or a build-up of sputum.

But in the case of an allergic reaction, the response is a lot more dramatic. The immune system goes into overdrive, causing other more severe reactions, such as extreme rhinitis, streaming eyes, sneezing and even asthmatic-type breathing issues, such as wheezing. This situation is essentially histamine gone wild and the usual medical treatment is to give the sufferer an anti-histamine tablet.

The problem is that such drugs tend to be overused, can cause nasty side effects and suppress the body’s ability to express itself. As a result, they are a nuisance to homeopaths as they mask an individual’s true allergic symptoms.

Root causes

Homeopaths are looking not only for the stresses around life circumstances that may have led to the attacks, but also the allergen concerned, and inherited traits. If a child presents with hay fever, there is often a family history of allergies and so the child could have been born with an inherited weakness.

Stress is also frequently behind the onset of many hay fever-based or allergic responses. This ‘stress’ may come in the form of fear, worry over exams or family matters, grief, anger, or even a recent illness, course of antibiotics, coming off the contraceptive pill or having a vaccine.

If there is nothing obvious, it can be helpful to explore an individual’s history to find out what has caused their constitution to behave in this way. A variety of forgotten situations could be the root cause, including negative or suppressed childhood ailments or traumas. The patient could also have an underlying infection, such as candida albicans, or a weakened digestive system, which allows pathogens to pass through and results in an inflammatory response. 

No matter how long ago these hidden situations took place, they will need to be addressed sooner or later as the body has a tissue memory. In other words, it finds ways to express these memories, and hay fever is one way of doing this.

This situation means that hay fever can take several years to tackle, with the symptoms becoming less severe each season as the remedies work through the historical causes mentioned. As part of the process, the body will reveal what needs to be treated through its symptom picture, and the homeopath matches these symptoms with the required ‘similum’ remedy.

But it is not always enough just to provide the appropriate remedy for that year’s symptoms, even if it does have the desired effect. The underlying ‘maintaining’ causes based on history and heredity also have a part to play, and it is they that make both seasonal and chronic hay-fever symptoms so complex to treat. This is why nutritional supplements are rarely sufficient on their own and why orthodox treatments simply offer relief at best and suppression at worst.

If you recognise the following symptoms during an acute hay fever episode, try taking the suggested remedy, in up to 10 doses. If they are not effective, change the remedy.

  • Allium 30c: Burning discharge from the nose and bland discharges from the eyes. Symptoms are worse indoors rather than outdoors. Light hurts the eyes, which are hot and itchy. The larynx also feels as if there are hooks sticking in it, which is made worse by warm food or drink.
  • Arsenicum albicans 30c: Your temperature is higher than normal and you feel utterly worn out but better in the warmth. Sniffing warm water up the nose gives relief from sneezing, but light hurts the eyes. There is wheezing and tightness in the lungs, a burning throat, restlessness and you are worrying a lot.
  • Arsenicum iod 30c: Thick, honey-coloured discharge from the nose, following three or four days of sneezing, sore nostrils and a burning sensation inside the nose. Warmth makes the symptoms worse. You also have a burning throat, an irritating cough, dry, scaly skin and feel worried and anxious.
  • Dulcamara 30c: Constant sneezing, stuffy or streaming nose, eyes swollen and watery. These symptoms are made worse by being outdoors or in a damp atmosphere. You may feel chilled after physical exertion.
  • Euphrasia 30c:Thick, burning discharge from the eyes, which are very swollen. There is a bland discharge from the nose, and you cough up phlegm. Symptoms are worse indoors.
  • Gelsemium 30c: Non-stop sneezing. Your eyes feel heavy and/or droopy, puffy and watery. You feel apathetic and listless and have no energy for anything. You may also feel dizzy and shaky.
  • Nux vomica 30c: Your body feels as if it is smarting, and you are very sensitive to light. Your nose is stuffy and tickly, although you sneeze less outside. You also have obstructed breathing and while your nose is blocked at night, it is runny during day. Other symptoms include itchiness inside your ears and eustatian tubes. You feel irritable and angry, want to drink coffee or alcohol, and have a headache that feels like a knife has been driven through you above the eyes.
  • Psorinum 30c: You are very sensitive to the cold and feel like you want to lie down. Your nose is streaming, but the discharge is bland or feels burning. You experience breathlessness, which is relieved by raising your arms away from the body. You also feel restless and hot at night, but in mood terms are generally low and melancholic.
  • Pulsatilla 30c: There is a bland yellow/green discharge from your nose and eyes, which gets better in the open air. You have no thirst, but feel weepy and need lots of support.
  • Sabadilla 30c: Symptoms include violent sneezing, watery eyes, red and swollen eyelids and a headache that feels as if your head is shrinking. Your thinking is slow and dull and you feel generally chilly, but your sore throat is soothed by warm drinks.
  • Silica 30c: Your nose is stuffed up, especially on waking in the morning, and your sinuses feel tender. You also feel generally chilly.

Foods that help

Eat at least nine servings of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables a day, choosing those which are high in folates, vitamin A and fibre. Folates from food are needed for cell repair and growth, immune and brain function. Brightly coloured fresh foods are high in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting qualities – parsley and green tea are particularly high in these.

Dark green leafy vegetables and legumes, such as lentils and beans, as well as strawberries and grapes are other great sources. The Western diet often results in chronic inflammatory disorders as it typically contains about 1,000mg/day of flavonoids, whereas a traditional Asian diet contains four times that amount, much of it in the shape of herbs and spices.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of health care.

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Homeopathy: Awakening the vital force

A healthy heart: What’s love got to do with it?

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Healing approaches

Kundalini yoga: Helping you evolve towards love

love

By Sarah Stollery, kundalini yoga and meditation teacher

Although I have forgotten many of the things I learned in primary school, one that has always stuck with me are the mechanisms that drive evolution. For the most part, species evolve very slowly – until, that is, some cataclysmic change in the environment triggers a rapid shift

Right now, we are on the cusp of one of those cataclysmic movements – and I am not only referring to our physical world as a result of climate change. Our cultural environment is also undergoing a major overhaul.

Human beings have become hyperpolarised. Some of us are angry – we feel cheated, unfairly treated and as though we have no agency to affect our lived experience. For people who feel this way, tolerance and compassion are at an all-time low.

Some of us feel heartsick – we see the earth drowning in plastic and pollution, and fear that the planet’s sixth mass extinction event is well underway. As part of this situation, we feel the exhaustion and sorrow of collective suffering.

Our tolerance is also low as our energy to affect change is zapped by the need to care for ourselves in these tumultuous times. Some of us may not be aware of the collective mood (although we are still affected by it) because we are dealing with the same challenging themes in our personal lives. This situation likewise leaves us with few resources for action and empathy.

But what is at the root of this deep discomfort? Fear. Fear of change as old systems die and new ones arise. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being displaced and, ultimately, annihilated. And it is this deep fear, sometimes masquerading as anger, despair or stress that will provide the necessary trigger for humans to rapidly evolve. 

Within the broad spectrum of yogic philosophy, there are several theories regarding the anatomy of fear and anxiety. Some schools of thought believe these emotions are connected to the psoas muscle, sometimes also known as ‘the muscle of the soul’. Others believe that fear and anxiety can be affected by strengthening the vagus nerve, which plays an important part in the gut-brain connection.

Within the technology of kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, the role of the physical body, particularly the nervous and glandular system, is fully acknowledged. But the fear and anxiety within the systems of the subtle, energetic and mental bodies are also recognised as well.

mindfulness

Moving beyond fear

According to kundalini yoga technology, each individual has 10 bodies, only one of which is the physical body. The most important ones for the sake of this discussion are bodies two and three, that is, the negative and positive mind respectively, which roughly correspond to the ‘gut’ part of the brain-gut connection mentioned above.

The role of the negative mind is simple: its objective is to keep you safe. The negative mind says “no” and is risk averse.

The role of the positive mind is to say “yes.” When strong, it sees all of the possibilities available – it is the mental force that drives you forward in life. But when the positive mind is weak, it is fuelled by fears buried in the subconscious.

Together, negative and positive mind send the message to the conscious ego mind that all is not well. A feedback loop is established between the brain and the gut reinforcing a perpetual sense of dread and foreboding.

Of course, some anxiety comes from our own real-time lived experience or from past trauma. But many of us are also affected by the collective mood, which is further exacerbated by the overabundance of terrifying information we are exposed to daily via social media and the news. So how do we break the cycle?

The way forward is to move beyond our fear-based nature and grow beyond the feedback loop between gut and brain by bringing our heart into the mix.

The fourth body is the neutral mind and the fourth chakra is our heart centre. The neutral mind is the objective witness of thought and action. It is entirely free of emotion and can always see fear for the illusion it is.

The heart is another form of mind, or brain, but one that most of us have forgotten how to use. When we begin to drop into our heart space, the feedback loop is interrupted. So we touch into universal love by shining a light into our dark place of fear. 

By developing a neutral mind, we cultivate the awareness required to notice when the fear-based loop is active, which enables us to make an active choice to break the cycle with our practice. There are many established ways to drop into the heart space but this is my current favourite:

Woman meditating on a mountain

Sighing

Posture: Sit comfortably with your spine straight. Place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your left hand.

Eyes: Closed or partially open staring at the tip of the nose.

Breath: Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth, making a deep sighing sound as you drop your awareness down into your heart. As you continue with this practice, sigh the sound ahhhhhhhhhh. Hold the breath out for as long as is comfortable before taking the next in-breath.

Simply witness and feel any emotions or thoughts that arise.

In her best-selling book, A Return to Love (page 43), Marianne Williamson said: “Our fear-ridden ways are threatening our survival. A thoroughly loving person is like an evolutionary mutation, manifesting a being that puts love first and thus creates the context in which miracles occur. Ultimately, that is the only smart thing to do. It is the only orientation in life which will support our survival.”

By making it a regular practice to enter the heart space – in other words, connecting to the love within us – we have the capacity to heal the separation, or polarisation, that is at the root of our individual and collective fear. And being sufficiently motivated to heal our own fear and anxiety could just be the thing to trigger the mass evolution that would see us morph into a more loving, compassionate, empathetic and peaceful species.

Sarah Stollery

Sarah Stollery is a kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and co-founder of The Cabin, a self-directed learning community for home-educated children. She is passionate about empowering people of all ages and stages of life with the tools to thrive in these challenging times by creating space to learn, explore and integrate a wide range of wellbeing practices.

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Sound healing: Using the gong to restore harmony and balance

Healing approaches

The power of EFT and matrix reimprinting: Working with your ECHO

Man enjoying freedom

By Gemma Kennedy, transformational coach

I spent five intense, incredible days in Brighton recently completing a number of practitioner courses with Karl Dawson, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Master and founder of the ‘matrix reimprinting’ approach, which builds on it. Here is an overview of some of the things I learned:

What is EFT?

EFT, which is also known as tapping, was first introduced to the public by Gary Craig in 1995. Craig found that tapping on the body’s meridian points with your fingertips released trauma and improved both mental and physical symptoms.

After sharing his knowledge, often for free, at large conferences and recorded training sessions, EFT spread around the world and is becoming increasingly popular as a tool in the rapidly-growing field of ‘energy psychology’. This term is used to describe the coming together of ancient Eastern wisdom with modern-day psychology and neurology. Often described as acupuncture without the needles, EFT can be useful for all kinds of issues, including anxiety, depression, phobias, and addictions.

Moreover, with scientists such as Bruce Lipton giving such ideas more credibility by demonstrating the link between emotional disharmony and physical dis-ease, EFT is now being used to deal with chronic illness more and more – and often with fascinating results. The publication of more than 55 peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the efficacy of tapping and other energy psychology approaches also means that its use is only expected to grow.

Dawson says: “In essence, with tapping, we verbally and energetically tune in to an issue – emotional, physical, mental or spiritual – and tap on several different acupoints on the body whilst repeating a reminder phrase about the issue. This then reduces the fight or flight signal from the brain and results in emotional and cognitive shifts.”

The beauty of EFT is that it can achieve powerful results in a shorter timeframe than many conventional talking therapies. What clients might spend months or even years talking about may be solved in a limited number of EFT sessions. Some issues take longer as a result of deep trauma or the persistent nature of core beliefs, but this is where ‘matrix reimprinting’ really comes into its own.

Inner child

How matrix reimprinting builds on EFT

While EFT can bring down the intensity of feeling surrounding particular issues, matrix reimprinting goes further by helping to create a harmonious picture around an event. Doing so raises an individual’s vibration and, according to Dawson, “floods your system with positive energy and beliefs every time you pull it up”.

These events could be either small or large traumas. But the idea is that, whether you experienced a natural disaster or were on the receiving end of a seemingly insignificant comment as a child, you will have formed a belief about yourself or the world that will continue to affect you until you find a resolution. Matrix enables you to do so without being re-traumatised, which can happen with some other therapeutic approaches.

Using EFT as the cornerstone, matrix reimprinting enables clients to work with their younger selves or ECHOs (Energetic Conscious Holograms). In other modalities, the ECHO is referred to as the inner child.

Many believe that, in the case of trauma, part of us splits off to protect ourself, while another part relives the event repeatedly as though it had never ended. It is this reliving of trauma that matrix can bring to an end, both because we stay separate from our younger selves during the session and because the memory is completed, allowing us to move forward.

To demonstrate how this approach works, I will share an example. For as long as Olivia could remember, she had experienced low self-worth and a negative body image. As a result, she had tried various therapies to little avail.

During a session, her therapist used EFT to tune into her body’s discomfort and asked her subconscious to take her back to a time when she had previously experienced the same feeling. A memory came up of when she was 20 and had been stood up on a date.

When asked for an earlier experience of the feeling, she was able to connect with a memory of when she was 13 and had been bullied during a physical education class because her classmates considered her “overweight”. She was next taken back to the age of six when one of her parents had shouted at her, telling her not to eat another biscuit or she would be “as big as a bus.”

lost little girl

Working with your ECHO

By going back to that earliest memory and working with her ECHO, she was able to calm her younger self down and query what beliefs she had formed about herself that day. The ECHO told her that she felt unloveable and unattractive. Looking at the other memories in the same stream, she noticed how her later experiences had further compounded these beliefs.

Having identified the beliefs that little Olivia had formed, she was then invited to bring in anyone, or anything, who had helped support her. She talked about her granny, who reminded her that she was enough just the way she was, and her pet hamster who she felt loved her unconditionally.

She also told her ECHO that the way her parent had reacted that day was linked to their own issues rather than to Olivia herself. Once this picture was as positive as she could make it, Olivia was guided through the reimprinting process and asked to revisit the memory daily over the coming weeks to assist in re-wiring her brain. The aim was to cement her new beliefs of being loveable and of her body being good enough just as it was.

While these are likely to be deeply ingrained beliefs that would require more than one session in order to work through other reinforcing memories, the resolution and shift in perspective afforded to Olivia were still invaluable.

Hopefully it is clear that this approach is not about pretending a memory never happened. Instead it is simply about changing the meaning that is attributed to it, allowing us to change how we engage with the world moving forward.

I, for one, was certainly struck by the transformation experienced by both myself and my peers in only 30 to 60 minutes, a situation that makes the possibilities of matrix reimprinting potentially truly endless.

If you would like to find out more about the approach, Dawson has written a book entitled ‘Transform your Beliefs, Transform your Life’, which is available from both Hay House and Amazon.

Gemma Kennedy

Gem Kennedy is a Body Positive activist and transformational coach. Having started her first diet aged 10 and spent many years promising herself that this would be the year to lose weight and start living, a switch flicked in 2017 when she discovered the Body Positive and Fat Activist communities. After training as a transformational coach, she now specialises in coaching and mentoring clients both individually and in groups to help them shed the burden of today’s diet culture and feel confident enough to be in the world exactly as they are, right now.

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