Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Thirteen years ago, I arrived in paradi. My husband had convinced me to quit my job, rent out our flat, don a backpack and head to South East Asia for six months. After a long flight, the craziness of Bangkok and a miriad of saeng taws, ferries, night trains and tuk tuks, we finally emerged into my personal utopia. A perfectly white, sandy beach and balmy waters were held in a tight embrace by huge, softly shaped rocks and a jungle adorned mountain rose magestically behind us. My heart soared.
A sprinkling of simple beach huts adorned the sand and cliffs. We approached one, idyllically perched on one of the wave worn rocks, jutting out to sea. The owner gave us s price within our tight budget and we lugged our heavy back packs inside.
As I dropped my backpack, my heart sank in synchrony. The place was a derelict shell. The window: a gaping hole in the wall. The bed, covered by an I'll fitting, worn sheet and moth eaten mosquito net, homes a spider the size of my hand. The back wall, only partially patched, sported a forearm size lizard and the bathroom had been equally reclaimed by the inhabitants of paradise. My panoramic vision closed in on these unnerving details and anxiety rose like bile in my throat. I can't stay, I sobbed to my husband, this was a mistake. I would have to go home.
Ten minutes later, my vision opened again to the panoramic post card view. Surely, paradise and I could find a way to make things work.
I decided to look around for a bit where I would feel less exposed. The first place we looked at was perfect but way out of our budget. It gave me hope though. I spotted a sign for Silver Cliff Apartments and began the sweaty hike up a steep set of steps where I found a picturesque bungalow which provided some semblance of protection from the prolific wildlife.
Fast forward thirteen years and we emerge onto the same beach, this time with our three children. They are excited to begin this utopia which we have talked so much about and we are excited to share it.
This time we have splashed out on a slightly more luxurious, family bungalow on the rocks. We have hot water and the electricity stays on all night!
We dump our bags gratefully after our long, sweaty journey and head for the glimmering waves of the ocean. Within seconds, all three of my children are crying. I become aware of the stinging sensations all over my body: jelly fish larvae! Like a scratch in a record, it seemed like paradise had, again, vanished. Our vision closed in from the panoramic of paradise to the irritants in the water.
Defeated, my husband and I slumped down in the shade with our sobbing children. Their disappointment felt like stinging criticism.
We underestimated them.
Before long, they were braving the water again and, later, they discovered the perfect spot where the river fed into the sea and we could all bathe comfortably in the refreshing fresh water.
In my experience, paradise is more a state of mind than a state of absolute perfection. There are always compromises and adjustments to be made and it's important not to get drawn into the details, losing sight of the beautiful panoramas of our lives.
Foveal vision or centrally focused vision. In the west we use this a lot, focussing intently on what is directly in front of us, our computers, our phones or whatever task is immediately in front of us. Using foveal vision is associated with the sympathetic nervous system or fight or flight response and tends to trigger the release of stress provoking hormones. Widening our vision to include the full panorama of our peripheral vision connects us to the parasympathetic nervous system which is associated with calm and healing.
Try to notice when you are using foveal vision and take peripheral vision breaks or use it as a tool to snap you out of anxiety or stress.
Take a deep breath while focusing on a central point.
Keep focusing and allow you eyes to soften and relax. Soon you will notice your field of vision starts to spread.
Become conscious of aware of the colours and shapes above, below and either side of your central vision, whilst not looking directly at them, just being casually aware.
Notice the effects on your body and mind.
Image by Kate Cudden
The truth is, you already do.
Hypnosis is a state of suggestibility and your kids are already incredibly susceptible to your suggestions -even though it may not always feel that way! From the moment they were born, your children mimicked your facial expressions and, as they grew, they tried on your mannerisms, your language (especially the bits you didn’t want them to hear) and behaviours. Even as adults, we are sometimes jolted by the sudden recognition of our parents echoing through us.
Young children are wide open to suggestion from any trusted source in their lives: TV, teachers, relatives, friends and any other adult who takes on a cameo or starring role in their lives. Prior to the age of 8, we do not develop the critical consciousness that acts as a firewall of sorts, protecting us, in part, from the constant barrage of influence.
Understanding the process of hypnosis and becoming conscious of how you and others are hypnotising your kids is a crucial part of parenting.
Hypnotherapists are experts in getting past this firewall, empowering you to gain conscious control over your own programming as well as gaining insight into the ways you may be programming those around you.
Did you ever play Simon says as a child? You are given an instruction, but unless the instruction is preceded by the phrase ‘Simon says’, you don’t do it. Simple enough? But, processing the negative involves the critical factor: you first have to think of thing you’re not supposed to do, then decide not to do it. This takes time, particularly in children, which is why it’s such a great game! The instruction itself, however, is processed quickly so the action is often performed before the critical factor has figured out that it was not supposed to be.
How often have you told your child not to do something, only to find they just go right ahead and do it?
Try to change the language you use to give them positive, easier to process, instructions. For example:
‘Don’t run by the pool.’ becomes ‘Walk by the pool.’
‘Don’t hit your sister.’ becomes ‘Step away from your sister.’
You might want to think about these in advance as it can be very difficult to come up with a positive instruction in the heat of the moment.
Teach your child to become the director of the movie in their mind
Nightmares, anxious thoughts and worries are all the product of our imagination. They are the result of seeds planted in our unconscious mind which, left untamed, can grow wild and frightening. Teaching your child to take charge of their mind jungle is one of the most valuable gifts you can give them.
Recently, my 6 year old son was having nightmares about zombies. After a few nights of disturbed sleep, I decided to teach him this hypnotherapy technique:
Our thoughts create our emotions. If you are not already convinced of this, take a moment to close your eyes and conjur up a happy memory. Be sure to see it through your own eyes and to use your memories and imagination to breathe life into it. Remember what you were seeing, hearing, smelling, even tasting and you will begin to feel the familiar sensations of being happy, in your body. Do that now.
What did you notice? Perhaps you felt lighter/ Perhaps the corners of your mouth turned up? Perhaps your posture changed? Maybe your breath became deeper, slower?
Now, try a less resourceful state like anger perhaps? Again, remember a time when you felt this feeling and bring back the sensory memories. Pay attention to how they feel in your body, now.
What did you notice this time? Did you feel more tension in your body? Did your breathing become shallower? Did your posture and facial expression change?
Now, think of a state that would be useful to you right now: calm? Productive? Confident? Allow a memory of feeling this way to come to you and step into it, using your senses.
Children move from one state to another much more easily than we do. We’ve all seen a child sobbing their heart out one minute and totally absorbed in an activity the next. With young children, you can help them to access more resourceful states using distraction, drawing their attention to something new. With older children, you can teach them to find their inner resources simply by remembering a time when they used them.
Building pathways in their brain
For the most part, our brains are on autopilot. When we have learned a process, it gets downloaded almost like a computer programme and we no longer have to think about it. Picture a piece of open park land. If you want to get from A to B, you plot a course and walk across it. In doing so, you begin to wear a pathway. The next person to cross the park may well notice your pathway and follow it, flattening the grass and reinforcing the path. Before you know it, the grass has been worn away and no one thinks of making a new path. This process of repetition is the same way that our brains learn. If one thing happens and then another thing happens, our brains connect the two and a pathway is established. For example: if a child whines and is given a sweet or treat to distract them, the child begins to draw a pathway between these two things so, when they want a treat, they automatically whine. Unchecked, these behaviours will often continue into adulthood!
If you notice a behaviour in your child that is not helpful, try to identify their goal. Then teach them new ways to reach it. For young children. Role play is a great way to do this. For older children, you can get them to imagine using the new behaviours. Through repetition of the new behaviours through imagination and play, they will build more favourable pathways.
Have fun exploring these techniques with your child and feel free to contact me for more information on how hypnotherapy can help your child.
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I stood frozen to the spot, in the apartment I rented with my then husband in Atlanta, Georgia, a dragging ache in my heart.
I recognised the truth that I did not belong there, that this life was eating away at me, that I barely recognised myself anymore. But, as I hunted through my mind, I could find no where that I did belong. There were places I had been, with people who I cared about, but I could not picture a future life that would play out in any of them. Not one I wanted. I had lost sight of what I wanted.
Like one of those dream sequences where you try to run and your legs don't work, every atom of my being screamed at me to leave but with no destination to navigate myself by, I stayed firmly rooted to the spot. I felt stuck. My life was so entwined with this man’s that I no longer knew where he ended and I began. My knees gave way in despair and I sank to the ground, my sobbing from somewhere deep and primal, escaping in long, strained guttural yelps.
I hadn't studied NLP or hypnotherapy at this point in my life, but, if I had, I would have done exactly the same thing as I did in that moment:
I asked myself where I would be and what I would be doing now, if I was just me?
The answer came back simply: I would be studying by the sea, in England!
With that, I created some momentum. A rope appeared over the edge of my pit.
Day by day, my dream grew and became clearer, more vivid. I would go to Brighton, a beautiful seaside town I had visited once with my family and had fond memories of. I would study for my MA in Philosophy.
I began saving and arranged a trip to the UK to check out the university. It turned out that a friend of mine had a connection to the head of philosophy so she was able to arrange for me to meet with him for a chat.
As my vision grew, everything fell so neatly into place.
That trip to Brighton was a huge turning point for me in so many ways. I travelled independently and relished, for the first time in a long time, the ease of my own company. Renting a room with a sea view and haggling for a good price, my confidence began to return to me. I spent time, buffered by the wind and gazing out into the expanse of unpredictable water. By absorbing myself in the changing moods and tempo of the sea, I somehow found peace with my own tempestuous emotions.
At the end of a very varied and fascinating conversation with the head of Philosophy, I asked, tentatively, whether I would be need to come for an interview.
'You already have.' came the reply.
Having visited my goal in person, momentum snowballed and in only a few more months I was unpacking my belongings in a flat with a sea view- for contortionists.
I found myself there. And, once I had, I vowed never to lose myself again. I decided that I could be happy alone; that I was certainly better off alone than with the wrong person.
But, of course, Brighton would, in time, bring me the right person...
For anyone reading this who is in despair right now, I recommend you too throw your thoughts to the future you want. I promise they will come back, like a rope, to rescue you from your pit. You don’t have to know exactly what’s at the end of the rope. You just need a direction and some momentum and, once you are out, you’ll see a whole world is waiting for you.
Whilst there is no known direct cause of PCOS, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that your mental, physical and emotional health plays a key part in managing the symptoms.
It is widely accepted that the best way to manage the symptoms of PCOS is to adopt a healthy lifestyle, incorporating beneficial dietary changes, exercise (particularly restorative forms such as qigong, yoga, pilates and tai chi) and addressing stress levels. However, when facing an increased risk of developing high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, reduced fertility, miscarriage, preeclampsia, depression, weight problems, hair thinning, unwanted facial and body hair and eating disorders, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Hypnotherapy provides you with the tools and techniques you need to take back control of:
Whilst getting advice from a nutritionist is highly advisable here, hypnotherapy can help you by working with the unconscious mind to support weight loss, food cravings (particularly sugar) and sticking to your healthy choices.
Your stress levels:
The opposite of the stress response is the relaxation response. Hypnotherapists are great teachers of eliciting the relaxation response as hypnosis requires a state of relaxation. Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can increase fertility through relaxation techniques. It can teach you to listen to your body and understand your needs and, using a coaching framework, we can also look at the stressors in your life and make positive and realistic adjustments.
Just one example of the way in which hypnotherapy can help you balance your hormones is with a key player in PCOS: progesterone. Low levels of progesterone are characteristic of PCOS and progesterone is crucial for regulating of our menstrual cycle and balancing the effects of oestrogen. Symptoms such as difficulty in losing weight, conceiving and maintaining pregnancy, skin and hair problems, acne, tiredness and mood swings can all be triggered by low progesterone. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is known to exhaust our supplies of progesterone. Not only that, excessive stress exhausts our adrenal glands, a key producer of progesterone in our body. With visualisations and relaxation techniques, you can assist your body in balancing crucial hormones.
Your self esteem
Looking at the list of the symptoms of PCOS, it is not difficult to see why many sufferers have issues with low self-esteem, low confidence and depression. Hypnotherapy works directly with your unconscious mind where negative thoughts and behaviours lurk. Tapping into the unconscious mind allows us to address the root cause and make positive changes to your ways of thinking and your instinctive behaviours.
To find out more about how hypnotherapy could help you take back control, contact me for a free phone consultation.
Gazing, from my kitchen window, onto the summer tableau outside, my attention is drawn to the damson tree. Its branches bow under the weight of its jewel like fruit, dripping like juicy pendants from every limb. I ponder the miracle that allowed this tree to nourish and nurture this bounty.
It is the cyclical nature of the tree that provides it with the resources to bare fruit.
We women are also cyclical in our nature. Hormones ebb and flow in our bodies from puberty to menopause, causing powerful shifts in our energy, our focus, our needs and our skills.
Just as a tree experiences the four seasons of the year, we experience four seasons every cycle. Often a health issue in a woman’s body can be eased by addressing a neglected season. And, after menopause, it is as though the training wheels come off allowing us to access all the seasons and trusting us to find the balance in our own lives.
With summer comes ovulation, a season epitomised by the mother. You are gregarious, sociable, giving your fruits freely and generously. Like the tree, this is the time of your outward glory. Your energy is magnetic and attractive. Your focus is outward and you have lots of energy and love for others. Like the tree, this is a time when you can give your all. You feel grounded and connected. Summer is a time when estrogen levels are high and the multitasking we women are famous for is really possible.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, at ovulation or at other times. Do you really go for it? Do you spend time with the people who matter to you? Do you take care of them? For some of us, a more important question to ask is: do you try to keep this up all the time?
Autumn, or pre-menstruation tends to be the most well known or notorious season of our cycle. As the tree gives away the last of its fruits and its leaves wither and die, it begins to withdraw from the harshening conditions, its energies spent. This is a crucial and misunderstood time in our cycle. It is important that we retreat and begin to say no. We can't possibly be expected to keep going at the speed of summer, bearing fruit indefinitely. This is a time for editing. For contemplation, for getting real. If there are situations in your life that need addressing, it will be difficult to ignore them now and if you try to ignore them, they will shout louder. Any needs you have neglected, any feelings you have supressed, any gifts you haven't used will break to the surface. As the tree sheds its leaves in autumn, so you must face the harsh truths of your life and shed anything that no longer serves you. This is a time to tie up loose ends ready for the winter. If you can face yourself now and confront your truths, you are in for a restful winter.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, pre-menstrually or at other times. Do you really face yourself, do you allow difficult emotions to surface and acknowledge them, along with the message they bring? Are you prepared to make changes to address needs that you are not currently meeting?
Picture yourself now as a tree in winter. Your roots spread deep into the earth, grounding, securing, nourishing you. Your bare branches outstretched, but, like the tree, you have withdrawn into yourself, from the outside, there is little sign of life, your energy is drawn inward, you are passive, intuitive, creative. This is a time of renewal, of rest and regeneration. A time for you to retreat from the world in any way you can. You bear no fruit or foliage and, instead spread your roots deeper and wider. Letting go of responsibility (as far as possible), letting go of any negativity that has built up over the month. A time for forgiveness for yourself and others. A time for taking nourishment from the earth. This is, arguably, the most crucial part of your preparation for pregnancy. Without taking the time to stock up on your reserves and to nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually, you cannot support new life.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, at menstruation or at other times. Is there an allowance for your need to let go of anything that no longer serves you and to regenerate?
After menstruation, comes spring. Your energy begins to rise, tentatively pushing tender green buds through your bark. The environment doesn’t yet feel entirely welcoming, but you are keen to emerge to explore to ideas. You are curious and playful, a little naïve even. You begin to feel more sociable. You resurface innocent and pure with a clean slate.
Like tiny delicate buds, you begin to unfurl your newly hatched ideas and plans, nurturing and protecting them. Seeing how they fare in the light of day.
Take a moment to reflect on how you meet this need in your own life, after menstruation or at other times. Do you make time to explore to try new ideas, to be playful and take risks?
In this busy, modern world, it’s easy to live from the neck up, paying attention to your body only when something goes wrong. Many of us have lost the art of listening to our bodies, or, more accurately, interpreting their message. Rarely, for example, is a headache a sign that of a nurofen deficiency! Paying attention to and honouring our cycles and their impact on our moods, drives and energy levels (not only with the intention of finding our most fertile days) is a great way to connect with and support our reproductive system.
To find out more about cycle awareness, I thoroughly recommend Lucy Pearce, ‘Reaching For The Moon’ and Sjanie Wurlitzer and Alexander Pope’s ‘Wild Power’
There is also a guided meditation version of this blog on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMXJJONh1AA
In the recent storms our rose arch collapsed and we mounted an effort to rescue the roses that lazily embraced it. The rescue attempt was more poignant because of one rose in particular, which was planted there before my fingers became green enough to know that a rose bush does not climb. This one holds a special place in my heart: nine years ago, I buried my baby beneath it in a tiny match box. I buried the hopes and dreams and future memories for a life that was never meant to be.
Though I was ten weeks pregnant, the tiny heartbeat inside me had stopped at six weeks. In medical terms, it was never truly human. I knew that there were tragedies in the world far greater than this but this was my tragedy.
I decided not to measure my grief but to feel it.
I cried. I cried a lot. I felt the dragging ache of sadness deep inside me and I allowed it.
The day that I held that positive test in my hand was the day I headed to Brighton for a dear friend’s hen weekend so I had dared to whisper this precious secret aloud. Dared to name my hopes and dreams for this child, a mix of tiny cells and miracles and moonbeams.
The day my baby came away from me, I lost a whole lifetime of future memories: of rushing to the hospital on a crisp February morning; of gazing into the soft face of a nursing baby; of grazed knees and magic kisses; of bedtime stories and precious cuddles; of my proud tears; my child filing away from me for their first day of school; a lifetime of moments, some fleeting, some fateful. All would have woven together a beautiful tapestry of this particular child’s life. All lost.
In the end, I was glad that everyone knew. My grief was open and unfettered and I learned that, probably, the taboo of talking about pregnancy before 12 weeks serves better to protect those around you from the awkwardness of not knowing what to say than the woman who mourns a lost life of possibility. I did find incredible support among my family and friends though and, ultimately, I was glad that my world knew of this fleeting life that had graced us.
At times, as I grieved, I berated myself for my indulgence. Hadn't I already been blessed with a beautiful child who filled me with love and pride and wonder and hope? Wasn’t it selfish to want more? Didn’t others have more to grieve? Deeper wounds? Longer, harder journeys? Weren’t there others with more right to grieve?
I chose not to measure or judge my grief but to feel it.
I felt it as I dragged my heavy soul through the day to day life of a mother. I felt it on a visit to my mother-in-law in France. I felt it flying to Israel for the wedding of my husband’s sister. The heavy cloud of grief hovered over me in every interaction. Then one day, briefly, in the lead up to my sister-in-law’s wedding I felt the fluttering of joy again. I expressed this joy with my husband not knowing at the time that this first ray of sunshine cutting through the gloom would turn out to be my rainbow baby.
In my work with fertility, I have met many women who did not feel they had the space, freedom or the right to grieve their loss. They buried it deeply, carried it privately. But rainbows don’t occur in clear skies.
My rainbow child burst through a tiny gap in my cloudy sky as she continues to do, a child with the capacity for so much joy.
My story is not your story. My grief is not your grief but my advice is the same: do not measure or judge your grief but feel it. Move through it in whatever way and whatever speed is right for you. Allow the clouds and I hope that, like me, one day you will find a rainbow bursting through them.
photo credit: grimeshome <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/73653333@N05/9267662070">Rainbow Across Yellowstone Lake</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>
I once had a hypnobirthing client who was vehemently against hypnosis though he had dutifully accompanied his pregnant wife to classes as was her wish.
His words stuck with me: he didn’t like the idea that you could programme the mind.
I see his point.
However, the truth is we are programmed from birth (and arguably before) by our parents, our friends, our teachers, by TV, by magazines and by the wealth of our experience which shape our actions, our beliefs, our values, our desires, our dreams and our fears. In response to these relentless influences, we develop a conscious mind around the age of eight which serves as a firewall of sorts. Though, by this time, much of our programming is already in place, the software has been installed.
Over the years, we constantly evolve, updating our software. Sometimes we programme ourselves consciously and sometimes things slip through the firewall. Our minds are complex. The very nature of our unconscious mind is that it is not easily accessed through conscious thinking and often there is software still running that's outdated and clashing with the latest version.
For example, many women spend a good portion of their lives trying not to get pregnant. That software is securely installed through our families, through society, through our own will and often we further reinforce this priming by suppressing our reproductive system with the contraceptive pill.
When we make the conscious decision that we are ready to have children, we install new software, in favour of pregnancy however it is important to ensure that we have overridden our previous programming.
A hypnotherapist is an expert guide in the workings of your unconscious minds and can teach you the skills you need to access and prepare your mind and body for pregnancy and for any other goal you may wish to achieve.
Contact me to find out how I can help you.
1950s American classic cars are thriving on Cuban streets. Long after their disappearance elsewhere, necessity has fostered a nation of innovative and dedicated mechanics. These beauties in chrome are cherished and lovingly maintained and, while the rest of us have moved on to newer, flimsier models, we are still captivated by their character and grace.
Like cars, at a certain age our bodies begin to show signs of wear and tear. Bad habits that we previously ‘got away with’ begin to reap penalties, showing up as a range of symptoms, particularly around peri-menopause and menopause. But, before you reach for the medicine cabinet, perhaps it’s time to renegotiate the terms of your tenancy agreement with your body. After all, a headache is rarely a sign of a deficiency in paracetamol.
Hypnosis can provide a space to communicate with your body, a place to brush up on your own skills as a mechanic with a vested interest in maintaining your own, unique and characterful classic.
Top Tips for maintaining a classic:
I arrive in cold drizzle having rushed from my duties. The door is opened by a smiling stranger who welcomes me like a treasured friend. I step through the portal from grey to warm technicolour. The room is assuaged with soft, vibrant, red hued fabrics. A ring of cushions and blankets blurs the hard edges.
A gentle heartbeat of women’s chatter and laughter soothes my ears as a mother’s heart beat might reassure a baby in the womb. The kettle has boiled. I plump for a Womankind teabag. It seems appropriate.
I join the circle. I am home.
Only now do I look at the faces of the women who will share this evening with me. Some I have circled with before, some I recognise from other contexts, some are new to me. We range in age, in interest and in background but everyone shares the look of a person who has just released a huge sigh.
The notion of a space where women would come together to menstruate and birth was first introduced to me at university when I read ‘The Golden Bough’ by James Frazer. There he documented many cultures which banished women, particularly at first blood and often in horrific circumstances, to cages or small darkened rooms, suspended between heaven and earth, in an attempt to insulate the mysterious, powerful and spiritual force that charges them at this time. Later, reading ‘The Red Tent’, I was offered a more appealing version: a haven where women were freed from the taboos that surround their bodies, where they could celebrate and explore their cyclical nature. Anita Diamant’s vivid creation clearly invoked a need for such a space and Red Tents began to surface all over the world, like poppies on a battlefield.
The opening of the circle happens organically. There is no set agenda and ideas are shared and ultimately amalgamated. We settle on introducing ourselves and naming our female heritage as far back as we can remember; I’m ashamed that I can’t remember my Grandma Ackerman’s first name and make a mental note to check. We welcome each member in turn, along with her female energy- her shakti. I feel cherished in this space. This time we have all set aside to spend in the company and manner of women is sacred.
Here, women are free from duty, from expectations, from goals and deadlines, from imposed structure (one woman spends time reclining on the cushions, clearly soaking up the restorative power of the female collective). Whether your contribution is traumatic, trivial or triumphant, every voice is heard, every silence respected. Whether the earth is moving for you or crumbling beneath you, you are held.
There are few rules but one of the most challenging and powerful is that we do not try to fix each other's problems. We do not step into the sacred space of another woman’s words with our own. If we feel a resonance with her words, we say ’Ahhh mama’ This simple protocol frees each woman to say whatever she needs without judgement or the guilt of burdening the listener, who is free to hold space without the need to rescue. It is a powerful tool for healing as well as a catalyst for finding your voice.
There is singing. I have to confess: this was a challenge for me in my first couple of circles. I shaped the words silently, afraid of the strangled noises that might escape but now, having learned that each song contains only a few words and a narrow range of attainable notes, I throw myself in with the full gusto of a shower performance, finding in my voice, cushioned by my sisters, a soothing and solid companion. I float peacefully on a gentle tide of voices, allowing them, along with their sentiment to rock me.
Later, with peaceful hearts, we share food, more tea and company. This time has been a balm for our busy lives, an opportunity to recalibrate with our female energy.
I step back from technicolour into the darkness. I feel both grounded and lifted and I trail vibrancy in my wake.
For Norwich Red Tent, check out this link: http://www.sacredsisterhood.co.uk/
or to find your local red tent: https://redtentdirectory.com/
As I write, the chorus of White Stripes still roars in my ears like the sound of the ocean echoes in a shell.
Four days ago, I walked into a stadium of almost 10,000. Strobe lights sought me out in the darkened room and huge screens beckoned me in with their colourful Catherine wheels. I had watched ‘I Am Not Your Guru’ and I’m an experienced hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner but nothing had quite prepared me for this.
Whatever your views on Tony Robbins, you would have to agree that he has created for himself an extraordinary life and many that come to his events credit him with their own extraordinary lives. I myself have gleaned many a gem from the pages of ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ and I had come to ‘play full out’ and see what the big man could unleash in me.
Naturally reserved, perhaps even ‘uptight’, I was immediately out of my comfort zone. Within seconds of his arrival, he was demanding a high energy; people pogoed vigorously whilst sandwiched firmly between the slim rows of plastic seating. I threw in some half-hearted knee bends like a badly faked orgasm and cringed inwardly. Whilst I truly wanted to create the high-energy state that would propel me forward, I wondered whether, perhaps, a more sedate, more English energy would suit me better.
Next came the hugging. In an attempt to reinvigorate the masses, we were sent on frequent quests for seven hugs; high fives; massages from random neighbours. We yelled ‘You Rock!’ and ‘I own you!’ into the strobe-lit faces of excitable strangers. It all felt very superficial, cheesy and cultish.
I sat back. I observed. I judged.
And then I began to question myself: why was I here? What had I come for? Why did this bother me so much?
We have all used the phrase ‘don’t get yourself in a state’. We know that if we focus on things that create negative emotions the results will be destructive. Yet we seem less aware of the possibility of creating good states, great states even and less rehearsed at doing that. I decided that I would let go of my judgement and let this charismatic man guide me into an outstanding state.
At first, I had to fake it. I must admit, I felt self-conscious and a bit ridiculous but, clearly these feelings were getting in my way. I had come with the full intention of completing the fire-walk. As a hypnobirthing practitioner, well-being teacher and mother, I knew how powerful this anecdote would be. I felt confident that Tony could get me through it and I knew that I would have to let go and offer myself up, fully, unfettered, unreserved and open to the experience and so I did.
Tony kept a room full of people buzzing with energy for the next nine and a half hours. The man is a machine. There were no breaks. He didn’t even leave the stage to pee. He used the full gamut of hypnotic and NLP tools and their effects were amplified by the remarkable dynamism of 10,000 positively charged people on the crest of a decision, like a colossal wave about to break. Cities could be powered on this kind of energy.
We were guided through mass visualisations, we danced, we chanted, we high fived and weren’t given a moment to reflect on the possibility that placing the bare and tender flesh of the soles of your feet onto smouldering coals might not be the most sensible action of a rational adult.
And then came the moment where we took off our shoes and socks and were decanted from the stadium, unfurling like a triumphant crowd. Intermittently, we roared the opening notes of White stripes and chanted ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!’ I registered my own excitement and chose to ignore the inner voice that wanted to play out the many scenarios which concluded with me faceplanting in the coals or immobilised by sheer terror as my toes bubbled and spat like sausages on a summer BBQ. These thoughts, I decided, were not my allies on this particular quest. I punched my fist in the air and chanted again, ‘YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!’
Funnelling out of Excel onto the concrete plains, I felt the bite of the cold, hard surface beneath my feet and imagined, for just a moment, the contrasting sensation of burning coals…’YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!’ We inched forward in the dark. The crowd, like dense fog obscured my view until, suddenly, it thinned and I was watching my friend as she stepped into the coals. And, then, fixing my eyes firmly on the London skyline, an authoritative voice proclaimed me ‘ready’ and I strode forwards, noticing only the change in sensation from hard to soft. And then I was being told to wipe my feet and celebrate. My celebratory roar was fully, unfettered and unreserved. I was elated.
Did I perform a miracle? I doubt it. Apparently, coal is a poor conductor of heat and there are a number of theories which claim to explain how a person can walk, unharmed, through hot coals. But that isn’t the point. To quote Oprah: ‘All animals know to run from fire!’ Hypnosis and NLP can eradicate the fears, doubts and beliefs that prevent us from achieving what IS possible and to harness the strength and courage to make it happen.
So now, with a spring in my step and a fire-walker metaphor in my pocket, I step back into my own extraordinary life, where I have the privilege of guiding others to find THEIR possibilities.
Thanks to Alix at Vanity Van for having me on her team for the event: