Healing approaches

A beginners’ guide to crystal healing

Crystal Healer Offering Selection Of Tumbled Healing Stones

By Debbie Walmsley, crystal healer and reiki practitioner

Humans have worn and used crystals since time immemorial. In fact, crystals have been on the Earth since the beginning of time, long before we came to share it. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds have all been used as body decoration for thousands of years and have traditionally been highly valued due to their beauty and rarity.

But ancient cultures also believed crystals had a natural healing power that could be used to promote emotional, physical and spiritual balance. While we may never learn how they accessed such knowledge, we do know that crystals were considered an important part of their civilisation. For example:

  • Ancient Romans used crystal talismans and amulets to enhance health, attract desirable objects to themselves, and provide protection in battle;
  • Ancient Egyptians lay quartz on the forehead of their dead when they buried them, believing it helped to guide the departed safely into the afterlife. Pharaohs carried cylinders filled with quartz to balance the Ba and Ka energies of the body. Royal women laid crushed lapis lazuli stones on their eyes to promote enlightenment and awareness;
  • Ancient Greeks often rubbed crushed hematite on soldier’s bodies prior to entering battle as they believed it made them invincible. Interestingly, the word ‘crystal’ is thought to derive from the Greek word ‘krustullos,’ which means ‘ice’, and until the 1500s, many people believed stones, such as clear quartz, were everlasting ice that had been sent from the Heavens;
  • Chinese medicine practitioners commonly use healing crystals in their treatments, which include crystal-tipped needles in acupuncture and Pranic healing sessions. These traditions hail from nearly 5,000 years of practice;
  • Aryuvedic medicine practitioners in India consider crystals valuable for healing emotional and metaphysical imbalances. The use of various healing crystals is documented in the pages of the Hindu Vedas, which also refers to each stone’s specific healing properties. For example, sapphires are thought to bring astuteness, clarity and mental balance, while jasper is believed to bring harmony, sexual vitality, and balance the base chakra;
  • Ancient Japanese cultures commonly undertook scrying, which is similar to looking into a crystal ball as some psychics still do today. Crystal quartz spheres were considered to represent the heart of a dragon and signified their power and wisdom.

Today though, we also rely on crystals in lots of ways without even realising it. Much of our modern technology would not be able to operate without them. For instance:

  • Quartz crystals are used in computers to record time as well as in our fridges’ cooling systems. When an electric current is passed through a quartz crystal, it vibrates at 60 hertz (60 times per second), and quartz clocks uses these vibrations to measure time;
  • Liquid Crystal Displays are found in flat screen TV’s, digital clocks and electronic picture frames;
  • Silica crystals are used to absorb odours in everything from cat litter boxes to the insides of fridges;
  • Magnetite is used to find the North and South Poles;
  • Rubies are used in lasers;
  • Fluorite is used in fluoride toothpaste;
  • Hematite is used to make nails for construction purposes;
  • Chalcopyrite is used to create copper wires.

Young woman receiving crystal healing

How do crystals work?

So what exactly are crystals anyway and how do they work in a healing context? A crystal is an organised grouping of atoms, or molecules, each with different properties and shapes. For example, sugar crystals are oblong and slanted at each end, while salt crystals are cubic.

Each crystal’s unique structure affects how it resonates, the kind of energy it attracts, and the way it clears negativity by either repelling or absorbing it. These unique properties mean the crystal vibrates at specific frequencies, which give them their ability to aid in healing.

While most people are familiar with the different functions of their physical body, the same is not necessarily true of their body’s subtle energy systems. Seen from an energetic perspective, we are all made up of layers of vibrating energy, each of which has their own specific vibration and purpose.

The physical body though consists of energy that vibrates very slowly, which is why it appears to be solid. Compare this with ice, which is a solid structure made from water that is vibrating very slowly. This means that it likewise appears solid. But when its atoms vibrate more quickly, the ice becomes liquid again. Faster still and it turns to steam.

Quantum physics indicates that atoms consist purely of energy waves with their own invisible force field. These energy waves can be measured and their effects seen, but they are made up of electricity. Science is now embracing the idea that we, and the universe, are created out of this energy.

So crystal healing operates by working with the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Crystals are amazing energy conductors and, when used in healing, enable the body’s energy to move around in order to find its natural flow. When our energy is balanced, we experience wellbeing, which supports us in evolving and developing emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Crystals treat the whole person, as well as their integrated energy system, in a non-invasive way. The body’s meridians are the pathways through which our energy flows, and where these pathways cross, an energy ‘hotspot’, or chakra, is created.

Rainbow Flower of Life

Channelling universal life force energy

The chakras channel universal life force energy – which is known under a variety of names depending on the tradition, such as chi, prana, ki, or spirit – in and out of our physical and spiritual bodies. They are considered both transmitters and receivers of energy.

When these pathways are clear and open, we are physically and emotionally well and feel good. But when our meridians and/or chakras become blocked, we are likely to feel fatigue, sickness, pain or mental unbalance.

Chakras move in and out of balance naturally each and every day. Depending on what is happening around us, they respond to the highs and the lows of everyday life. Stress, minor illnesses, emotions and even your thoughts affect the balance of your chakras. If they stay out of balance for too long, your body will experiences dis-ease, which is a state of not benefiting from ease or wellbeing.

During a crystal healing session carefully chosen crystals are placed either on your chakras and/or around the physical body. These crystals absorb, focus, direct, detoxify, shift and diffuse energy as they interact with vibrations within the body’s energy field, helping to bring the mind, body, spirit and environment back into harmony and restoring the body’s natural rhythm and inner balance.

Healing using crystals can occur at various levels:

  • Physical: The deep relaxation generated is an effective antidote to stress, anxiety or depression, and is helpful in maintaining general wellbeing. It can help to relieve the physical symptoms of stress-related illnesses, provide pain relief by relaxing muscle tension and may assist with immune disorders. It has also been shown to be helpful for insomnia, chronic fatigue, raised blood pressure and sleep problems;
  • Emotional: It can help to stabilise moods and enhance self-esteem;
  • Mental: It may assist in providing clarity and enhancing focus and can be used to transform unwanted behaviours, thought patterns and addictions;
  • Spiritual: It can help to enable an acceptance of, and create harmony with, all aspects of being, leading to a more peaceful and centred life.

Wearing crystals may enable you to experience their healing and spiritual properties, while placing them in your home or office can help to clear negative energies or leave a room feeling more calm and relaxed. Crystals may also be used for meditation to help focus and clear the mind.

Some – although not all, so do exercise care – can even be used to create an elixir to drink. They work from the inside out, or can applied directly to the skin.

A key thing to remember though is that crystals work on a continual basis. Each balances specific elements, whether they relate to mind, body or spirit, so if you feel drawn to a particular stone, it is probably for a reason. Just pick it up, hold it or play with it and notice how you feel.

Put another way, crystal healing aids wellbeing, whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. And wellbeing naturally comes about when our energy flows freely and is in balance.

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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Healing approaches

Yoga Nidra: Learning to relax, consciously

Yoga Nidra Savasana pose

By Theresa Banovic, yoga and yoga nidra teacher

Yoga Nidra is a powerful meditation technique, based on ancient tantric practices, that helps you learn to relax consciously.

You may feel as if you are relaxing when you lounge on the sofa with a cuppa, watch TV, or read a book, but such activities will never meet the body’s need to relax completely. Even sleep is not actually regarded as relaxation from a Yoga Nidra point of view.

Instead the idea is that true relaxation takes us far beyond any sensory diversions. When our consciousness remains connected to our senses, we become less receptive. But when experiencing Yoga Nidra, it is about remaining aware while turning inwards, away from outer experiences to settle into a state of deep calm.

So just how does this happen? When practising Yoga Nidra, you generally lie down flat on your back on the ground (in yoga, this is known as Savasana pose) – although resting in a semi-reclined position or sitting in a chair is fine too if lying is not possible for you. Make sure you are as comfortable as you can be by wearing warm clothes, socks and even a lovely eye pillow infused with essential oils if you like. Blankets, cushions and bolsters can also help here too.

Your teacher/guide/recording will then lead you through breath awareness exercises, before systematically referring to different parts of the body fairly swiftly. All you need to do is mentally repeat each body part to yourself, place your awareness there and feel the area relax.

There is no need to move. It is more about listening, trying to surrender to the experience and going with the flow of this wonderful healing practice.

Om mantra

Experiencing deep relaxation

The idea is to keep your mind moving from point to point, remaining aware of every experience. Deep relaxation should take place at a cellular level, enabling physical, emotional and mental tensions to be released. Ideally, you should try not to fall asleep – although sometimes it is simply not possible.

When we relax deeply with the help of Yoga Nidra, we clear a space for the unconscious and subconscious levels of the mind to open and become really receptive. This means that, if we plant an idea there at this time, it will become very potent – like planting a seed and watching it grow.

So it is very important to make an intention, or Sankalpa, at the start. This can act as a positive way of focussing on the direction you would like to take in life, something you would like for yourself such as a new job or better health, or something you would like to give up. It could be a future goal, or even a simple act of gratitude.

Swami Satyananda described Yoga Nidra as an invaluable stress management tool, which could even be used to learn a language or other subject. In truth, it can be used to train the mind to accomplish anything.

It is usual to make a Sankalpa every time you practice Yoga Nidra, although it makes sense to stick to the same one for a while – and, if you use the technique regularly, you should be able to notice a change. In fact, if you choose to practice Yoga Nidra regularly, it will inevitably become an integral and invaluable part of your life.

Theresa Banovic

Theresa Banovic is a BWY yoga instructor and wellness advocate. She teaches Hatha yogaRestorative yoga and the Yoga Nidra meditation technique in a class setting, while offering yoga and massage retreats in both the UK and Portugal too. Theresa is also a trained provider of Ayurvedic massage.

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Healing approaches

Kundalini yoga: Taking on the challenge of transformational change

women s white top and orange floral skirt
Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

By Sarah Stollery, kundalini yoga and meditation teacher

As the turn of the year approaches once again, how many of you have started thinking about New Year’s resolutions – even if, quite often, they are not very new at all? In fact, all too often, they are actually the same ones we made last year but did not stick to.

Which begs the question of why bother? Change is hard work. So shouldn’t we just accept ourselves as we are and let go of the idea that we could create a better version of ourselves?

Loving and accepting ourselves for who we are is certainly a worthy aim. But even doing that meaningfully can require transformation of a kind – a transformation in our thinking.

And what about those resolutions that really would support us in living more fulfilling, connected and joyous lives? If you are stuck in a job you hate, it IS important to make 2019 the year you find a new vocation.

If you are feeling stifled creatively, 2019 IS the year to find a satisfying outlet for your passion. If you are chronically stressed and exhausted, 2019 IS the year to find a more balanced and sustainable way of living.

Illustration with mantra om sign surrounded by energy beams

Transformational change

But change is challenging, and sometimes the best intentions in the world are simply not enough to ensure temporary change becomes lasting transformation. That is where kundalini yoga and meditation come in. They act as tools to help bring about authentic, lasting transformation by working on multiple levels.

Habits, both good and bad, exist not just in our subconscious and unconscious minds, but also in our cellular memory as well. So, to delete old habits and create new ones successfully, it is necessary to work on all of these levels. Kundalini yoga can help here by:

  • Rewiring our nervous system to remove old habits and embed new ones;
  • Rebalancing and reprogramming our endocrine (hormonal) system to support us through the emotional challenges that change generates;
  • Cultivating a neutral mind so that we have the necessary awareness to make conscious choices untainted by ego, which resists change;
  • Developing an achievable daily practice that specifically targets the changes we wish to make;
  • Providing us with a supportive community of fellow yogis, who are also working towards making change and so help to keep us accountable.

Life is too short to write off effecting transformational change in the name of loving and accepting ourselves as we are. It is important to remember that we cannot fully love and accept ourselves if we are not living an authentic life in which we recognise and honour our own needs. So it is vital to put in the hard work required to ensure those needs are met by creating the necessary change.

If you would like support in making such changes real and lasting, check out my new six-week Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Course starting on 16 January 2019 at the Mokshala Yoga and Meditation Centre in Saffron Walden, Essex. You won’t regret it.

sarah stollery headshot

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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Healing approaches

Learning how to grieve, heal and grow

Loss and grief

By Helen Preston, counsellor

Grief manifests itself in many ways but is not necessarily a very easy thing to describe. According to the dictionary definition, it consists of:

“Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. ‘She was overcome with grief.’ Sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, heartache, heartbreak, broken-heartedness, heaviness of heart, woe, desolation, despondency, dejection, despair, angst, mortification.”

Grief can also express itself in a number of ways. It can take the form of an emotional, physical, behavioural or cognitive response. For example, at an emotional level, a grieving person may feel shock, yearning, helplessness, relief or guilt.

Common physical sensations include a hollowness in the stomach, tightness in the throat, breathlessness or lack of energy. In behavioural terms, grief may manifest itself in the form of disturbed sleep, crying, absent-mindedness, a feeling of searching or reliance on drugs or alcohol. Cognitive responses could include feelings of disbelief, confusion, general preoccupation and even hallucinations.

But it is worth bearing in mind that death is not the only cause of grief. Other situations that also spark this emotion include divorce, the ending of important relationships, losing a job, moving away from the place you grew up, leaving a school in which you were happy, becoming disabled or losing your home.

Most people are able to process their grief naturally and, while they may experience intense bouts of sadness, they can still feel hope and will eventually find happiness again. That said, there is no right way to grieve. Even though rifts are created in some families because members make judgements over others on what grieving should look like, in reality, each individual has to find their own path and what works best for them.

It is common to hear of the five stages of grief first identified by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross in her ground-breaking book, ‘On Death and Dying’, which was published in 1969. These stages consist of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Author and expert David Kessler also discussed the possibility of a sixth stage – that of ‘meaning’. But it is important to recognise that not everyone will experience all of these stages, and they can appear in no particular order, maybe more than once.

Strength

How counselling can help

Experiencing grief can be a confusing and emotional time. It often feels isolating and scary, but speaking to someone else about how you feel can help you process your emotions. It can also help to reassure you that what you are going through is ‘normal’ and you are not you going mad.

In particular, if you continue to experience grief over a long period of time, you might benefit from support to help you process the emotion in a healthier way. Maybe you did not have the time or opportunity to process it when your loss took place, but it may still be affecting you in some way. You may feel depressed or stuck.

Immediately following a loss, there are generally lots of distractions and plenty of support. But then the dust settles, people go back to their busy lives and presume you are fine. You do not want to ‘burden’ your friends with your sad feelings and so say you feel OK when you do not.

It is here that counselling comes in. Counsellors are trained to listen without judgment, to empathise rather than sympathise. Moreover, speaking your feelings out loud may help you to make sense of them.

There are many instances when a grieving person may need support to find a way through the dark times and discover meaning in life again – and grief related to suicide is one of those. There are so many additional emotions and complications that are linked to this situation, not least the social judgments that are all too often made.

It can be hard for friends to support this type of grief and to realise that the grieving person needs a voice rather than to feel silenced by the discomfort of others. In Western culture, we find talking about death tricky at the best of times. But when someone choses to end their own life, we tend to draw conclusions that only serve to perpetuate the myths, while failing to help the sufferer get any closer to the often unanswerable question of ‘why’?

Other circumstances that can have a particular impact on grievers include losing a child or young person or suffering a sudden and unexpected loss or death.

Life coaching motivation and self realization concept in blue

Learning to heal and grow

To sum up, here are some apt but poignant words that have been adapted by a member of Compassionate Friends USA:

If you think you are going mad – that’s normal

If all you do is cry – that’s normal

If you have trouble with most minor decisions – that’s normal

If you can’t taste your food or have no appetite – that’s normal

If you feel rage, denial, depression – that’s normal

If you find yourself enjoying a funny moment and then feel guilty – that’s normal

If you feel angry when someone says “it was God’s will” – that’s normal

If you can’t talk about it but can smash dishes and kick the dustbin – that’s normal

If you can share your story with an understanding listener – that’s a beginning

If you can get a glimpse of the person’s life rather than their death – that’s wonderful

If you can remember with a smile – that’s healing

If you find your mirrors have become windows and you can reach out to another bereaved person – that’s growing.

image1 (1)

Helen Preston is a counsellor, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) expert and reiki practitioner. Her approach to therapy acknowledges the crucial inter-relationship of mind, body and spirit. Helen is a member of the National Counselling Society and has an Advanced Diploma in psychotherapy and counselling, a Diploma in Hypnotherapy and an EFT Master Practitioner certificate.

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Inspiring lifestyles

Chilli: Finding hot ways to spice up your life

Autumn Fog

By Juliette Bryant, nutritional consultant

As the trees shed their leaves and the temperature drops, it is the perfect time to bring the firewood in and enjoy the dark nights from the comfort of your hearth. It is also a good time to wrap up warm and go outside for a bracing walk. As my German friends tell me: “There is no bad weather – only bad clothing!”

Nonetheless, keeping warm is a real concern for many people. With the seemingly ever-rising cost of energy, it is not cheap to heat your house once winter sets in. Austerity, budget cuts and other difficulties in people’s lives have seen homelessness rates rocket, which only makes me appreciate the roof over my family’s head all the more.

On top of heating and wearing good clothing, however, there is another way to keep warm, and that is through food. Yes, it is true: we can all have an impact on our body’s internal heating system based on the types of foods we eat.

Think about it for a moment: Do you eat lots of cucumber when it is cold? No, because presumably you do not want to be as ‘cool as a cucumber’. Like melons, cucumbers have a high water content, inducing a calming, almost sedative effect on the body.

But what about a hot chilli? How does that make you feel? Just thinking about it warms you up and that is before you put one anywhere near your mouth. In fact, waiters in Indian restaurants generally ask ‘how hot you would like your curry?’ when what they really mean is ‘how much chilli do you want in the dish?’

Chilli is an amazing plant. There are literally hundreds of varieties from large, mild ones to small but potent scotch bonnets and blow-your-head-off ghost chillies.

Their heat comes from the compound capsaicin, which has a very positive medicinal effect. It stimulates digestion, releases endorphins and acts as a natural painkiller. It also has antibacterial and anti-carcinogenic properties, can kill parasites and helps lower LDL cholesterol. Chillies are likewise high in vitamin C and collagen, both of which help to strengthen blood and bones.

Red Chilli Peppers

A chilli history

What is interesting though is that, although chillies are one of the spices most associated with Indian cuisine, the plant itself does not originate from there. Chillies are, in fact, originally from Mexico and were brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus.

The Portuguese then took the plant to India during their trade with, and occupation of, Goa, and the rest, as they say, is history. India embraced it as an accompaniment to the country’s already established warming spices such as black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric.

The British occupation, meanwhile, introduced the Raj to the delights of curry – it is said the British used this complex mixture of local spices to disguise the stench of rotting meat that they were unable to keep from going off in the Indian heat (yuck).

But following the collapse of its Empire, Britain started welcoming immigrants from a range of Commonwealth countries, including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. As a result, traditional dishes, such as vindaloo and jalfrezi, as well fusion cuisine, such as baltis and tikka masala, now rank among the nation’s favourite food.

As for growing chillies, in India, I have seen them developing happily in forest gardens. The tree canopy keeps excessive sunlight off the plants and the humidity at ground level provides moisture.

In not-so-sunny Suffolk, we also grow them successfully at the back of our greenhouse in a spot that is warm, sunny and moist. Some people likewise nurture them in conservatories and on windowsills.

Chilli plants like a fair amount of nutrients though, so we created our own liquid fertiliser blend using a mix of comfrey, nettle, seaweed, manure, urine and mineral rock dust. While it may smell pretty bad, it certainly works as this year we have had the best crop ever.

So here is a recipe for my home-grown chilli chutney, which you can use to accompany stir fries, curries or even sandwiches. The combination of red-hot chillies, sweet apples and dried mulberries truly is a taste sensation:

Homemade chutney

Super chilli chutney

1/2 cup of dried mulberries

2 chillies

2 apples

3 dates

10 cherry tomatoes

3 tbs apple cider vinegar

4 tbs water

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbs coconut sugar

Finely chop all the ingredients and place them in a pan. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When cooked, pot the chutney into a clean jar.

Juliette Bryant

Juliette Bryant is an author, nutritional consultant, superfood chef and presenter who runs courses, talks, workshops and retreats around the world. Her passion is helping people to thrive by showing them how to make delicious and healthy food. Juliette runs a busy practice providing nutritional consultations to individuals and businesses worldwide.

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