Category Archives: Personal growth

Wisdom of Serenity: Notes from the Therapy Journey

(By guest author Louise)

 

It came upon me unexpectedly. Well, not wholly unexpectedly.

I found myself in burnout. A combination of mental and physical exhaustion built up over five and half months.

The foremost feeling was one of losing myself. I felt lost and confused. In a mist, I had lost track of who I was; not centred and unlike my usual self.

The last time I felt like this was around five years ago when a friend passed away. I had hidden my pain from that in the immediate period and it did not do me any good.

Again, during this burnout, I had kept my feelings deep inside, fearful of rocking anyone else’s boat around me. I could see who was struggling around me, and my priority had been to keep them afloat. To keep the ship a-sail, moving, and with happy sailors.

But your feelings creep up on you. If you don’t address your needs at the time, and make them front and centre, they will continue to remind you, physically or mentally, of their existence.

Talking with someone helped me resurface my needs; reminding me of what they were, how and when they needed to be met, and how I needed to continue to evolve my leadership.

I realised that I could hold the pain of those I lead in my hands, without fully absorbing it, allowing me to better support them – using my rational thinking, strategic side to tackle the issues.

This talking and reflection also helped me see that whilst sometimes it may not feel like it serenity is always there. Serenity is in the control of our own decisions, helping us hold all opportunity facing us in our hands.

We cannot control what happens to us, but we can have the wisdom to decide how to tackle it.

And behaving in the best way possible, with peaceful and kind hearts is defining in itself. Indeed, the ways are more important than the ends.

This serene leadership is in my heart forever.

***

Notes from the Therapy Journey is a dedicated rubric in my blog where people I work with can share thoughts and insights about their experience of therapy and beyond.

You may want to read the earlier posts here:

From the therapy room: Freeing the inner child

From the therapy room: Asking for help

Can therapy really help to change your life? For anyone out there who is suffering and feeling hopeless

Read, enjoy and share your thoughts and comments! There is space for comments below. You can also email me.

Look forward to hearing from you. Stay connected!

Ludmila

 

Online Group Therapy: you are welcome to join!

Welcome to Online Group Therapy. As days are growing shorter and nights colder what can be better than spending time in a warm circle of caring supportive people? Especially in the present, when new restrictions on socializing are being introduced every day my online therapy group offers a friendly hub where you can feel safe to voice your concerns, share your feelings and find understanding.

Group Therapy can be helpful in many ways. This is what one person says about his experiences of group therapy:

“For me the main thing about therapy group was the opportunity to learn about other people’s lives and witness their fluctuating emotional states. This can be quite a surprising eye opener. Sometimes quite cathartic. You can be profoundly moved. It certainly helped me to become more attuned to other people and more empathetic.”

Most importantly, Therapy Group allows us to interact with others in a safe and nourishing space and thus can be very effective in enabling us to

  • Improve our interpersonal and social skills
  • Express and explore our emotional challenges in a supportive environment
  • Overcome loneliness and create the sense of connectedness
  • Alleviate anxiety
  • Develop our self-awareness and empathy

I ran therapy groups for many years and both myself and the participants found it to be very enriching and gratifying experience. Now I am introducing the online format which opens the group for people from different parts of the country and indeed of the world! I want to keep the group fairly small though (6-10 people) and would be grateful if you could let me know soon whether you (or a friend of yours) may be interested in attending.

Here are a few essential details:

When?           The group is intended to start in early November, meeting fortnightly in the evenings.

How much?   The cost is £12 per session payable by Paypal or bank transfer.

How long?     I would ask the participants to commit to 6 initial meetings (1,5 hours each) and then review.
The first session is a taster and you can decide not to attend after it.

Can I join later?  Once the core group is established and going the question of newcomers will have to be put to
the group.

Please share with others and feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Look forward to hearing from you.

With warmest wishes,

Ludmila

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Words: Body-mind healing practices

How words help us

Body-mind healing practices don’t form part of conventional counselling and psychotheraphy. Western therapeutic approach to helping our turbulent minds and souls is traditionally based on talking. And, of course, the ability to comprehend and express ourselves in words is an integral part of our experience as human beings.

Through telling a story we give shape to our reality and also give it a meaning, which is extremely important. At difficult times when meanings escape us we find ourselves floundering and being plunged into chaos. Then talking to someone who is ready to listen empathetically, with interest and without judgment can be immensely helpful as little by little words streaming freely and seemingly randomly begin to weave the fabric of new meanings.

Words also help unburden our mind of what had been stored there, so we often feel lighter and freer after having talked of what had been troubling or upsetting us. We can then begin to see things differently and more clearly and come across new unexpected solutions.

The limits of the talking-based approach

There are many creative things one can do with words, including writing this blog post. However, what I found in my therapeutic work and in my life is that no one approach is enough. Every approach has its benefits and its limitations. So it’s good to have a number of them under your belt to be able to pick and choose as feels right for the moment.

The limitation of the talking-based approach is that it keeps us in the upper layers of our consciousness. We can come to understand a lot of things rationally, but on the deep emotional level we would still feel the same and continue to be triggered by the same situations. This is where diving into the deeper strata of psyche, which are rooted in the body, can be helpful.

Beyond the words: talking to the body

When we want to affect the shift at the root level we need to learn a new language: we need to learn how to talk to our body. It may sound as a fancy metaphor, but actually it’s almost literally true because we still use words but they come from a different place, as our active daily mind relaxes and ‘sinks’ deep into our body. In this state our consciousness begins to expand and the answers flow back and forth between the conscious and the unconscious mind. And thereby they become integrated by the nervous system effortlessly, one step at a time.

The relationship between the human mind and the human body continues to be a sphere of mystery, less studied by scientists even than the Moon or Mars. Indeed how do we explain the cases of sportsmen, for example, who fully recover after some terrible spine injury,  returning to their sport having been told they would never walk again? I believe that these people have incredible ability to connect with their bodies and sustain this connection, without allowing it to lapse. Thus they mobilize all the healing powers of the organism, turning the brain’s ‘controls’ on to the healing regime so that it pumps the body with all the hormones, enzymes and whatever is required for production of the regenerating tissue.

While I haven’t had any such dramatic occurrences in my own practice, I do have the joy and privilege of being both a witness to and a participant in some very uplifting, transformative experiences that happen on a regular basis. And I would like to share with you a couple of such stories (names have been changed). I work a lot with EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping, but also use a number of other active visualization techniques (sometimes involving movement) to help bridge the gap between the mind and the body, the conscious and the unconscious.

Jill: Undiagnosed stomach pain

Have you ever given much thought to the bodily idioms that we use, such as: “carrying a burden on your shoulders,” or somebody being a “pain in the neck.”  They’re more than just metaphors – they often correctly identify the part of the body affected by the distress, and the sort of pain that comes from trying to contain that distress. Emotional pain when it finds no outlet translates itself into physical pain and lodges itself into our bodies, turning – as the time passes – into a chronic condition. It takes some skillful detective work together with with patience, courage and perseverance to release it from its ‘nest’.

Such pains are often resistant to medical treatments because of their emotional roots. Thus Jill came to me with persistent abdominal pain that was particularly sharp in the mornings. She had been through all kinds of medical checks and examinations, which revealed nothing. She had been given pain-killers and told that she would need to take them for the rest of her life. She also tried acupuncture and homeopathy, but with no success either. She came to me because she heard of EFT and found my website.

It took us only a couple of sessions to uncover that the origins of Jill’s abdominal pain seemed to be in her relationship with her mother. Growing up Jill used to be afraid of her mother’s volatile unpredictable moods. She remembered getting stomach cramps when hearing her mother’s steps on the staircase. This was not a healthy safe, loving, supportive environment for the child to grow and now, in her mid-40s, Jill still struggled to establish proper boundaries with her mother.

There was a whole mixture of emotions: fear, resentment, guilt, anger. As we worked through them, talking and tapping and locating them in the body her abdominal pain began to diminish and within a couple of months it was almost entirely gone. Then we did a round of tapping and asked her body whether it was ready to release the remnant of the pain. Surprisingly, the response came: “No.” And the reason was: “I need a reminder – to keep the boundaries with my Mum.”

And this is a very interesting phenomenon: pain that we experience doesn’t necessarily have to be our curse or punishment. Sometimes it can be our protector, our shield or guardian. It disappears fully only when we feel safe for it to do so and thus release it from its duty.

Ada: turning logs into snakes and aversion into confidence

Ada came to me in distress over a meeting she was supposed to have with a colleague, whom she found uptight and rather difficult. She had a few days left before the meeting and her mind was already preoccupied with it, consuming a lot of her nervous energy. So we decided without further ado to explore the nature of her distress and, if possible, neutralize it. We didn’t do tapping on this occasion, but instead, after preliminary guided breathing and relaxation I asked Ada (sitting with her eyes closed on my couch) to imagine her colleague in front of her and to become aware of the resonance it produced in her body.

Ada said she felt as if a log was stuck in her throat. A fairly big dry peeling log, with a rusty nail in it. It was impeding her speech, making it difficult to breathe and the nail was scratching her throat. She said it reminded her of some situations at school as a young girl when she felt highly awkward and uncomfortable. We spoke about these early experiences for a bit and then I asked her whether she would like to remove the log from her throat. She was eager to, so we thought of a possible way of removing it. Could it be transformed into something else perhaps? After a brief moment Ada said ‘yes, it could be turned into a snake.’ We sat for some minutes in silence as Ada was performing her shamanic transformational act and me waiting, holding the space. After a while I ventured to ask how it was going. Ada reported that the log had turned into a snake and the snake had crawled away, leaving her throat clear and free. She didn’t think much about the forthcoming meeting after that and when the day came she felt confident and grounded.

Beginners’ tips to body-mind awareness

These are just a couple of examples of how creative body-mind work can improve our physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Our inner healer – when we tap into it – can help to alleviate insomnia, polymyalgia and various chronic conditions as well as to overcome the fears of exams, anxiety, of our limiting beliefs, and much more. The more I witness it, the more I feel in awe of the wisdom of the body.

In order to become more in tune with your own body and learn to communicate with it better, try this simple practice. Choose a quiet place to sit and make sure nobody interrupts you for some 10-15 minutes (or more, if you want!). Relax your body, taking a few gentle slow breaths in and out, and then scan your body for various sensations/feelings in different parts. These can be either physical or emotional sensations. If some physical sensation clearly stands out (e.g. constriction in your chest) you may attempt to link it to what is going on for you emotionally at the moment. And vice versa: you may start from connecting with your emotions and then proceed to identifying them in your body.

This simple mindfulness exercise, if practiced regularly, is very effective in quieting the mind’s chatter, promoting self-awareness and helping us become more grounded and rooted in our bodies, as we become more connected throughout our being.

Reprogramming your brain: 9th World Tapping Summit

Spring greetings to my readers!

Sorry for not being in touch for a while. Things have been rather busy in my life and work lately and I fell behind with my monthly blogs. I promise to amend this in the near future, but in the meantime I want to draw your attention to one very good free online event: the 9th Annual Tapping World Summit:

http://www.thetappingsolution.com/2017tws/reg/afpd/new-access.php

As you may know EFT tapping is one of the very effective tools that help us ‘rewire’ our brain, get rid of unhelpful habits and thought patterns, heal our bodies and thus improve our lives. This is possible because our brain possesses the quality of neuroplasticity and if we find the way of communicating with it in the right manner all kinds of amazing things become possible. EFT tapping is one such ‘language.’

The Tapping Summit runs from 27 February to 10 March, with two presentations every day (that also contain tap-along sessions). Replays are available for 24 hours. To register and catch up on the first day (including science behind EFT: interview with Dr. Dawson Church) go here:

http://www.thetappingsolution.com/2017tws/reg/afpd/new-access.php

With warmest wishes,

Ludmila

Dealing with anxiety

DSCF1098aOne of the most common complaints that bring people to therapy is anxiety. Anxiety is something familiar to all of us. Part and parcel of our human condition it peppers our existence and we develop strategies and learn how cope with anxiety on the daily basis. However, sometimes anxiety can become so intense or so frequent that it severely undermines one’s life.

In order to learn how to deal with anxiety it is important to understand its nature and the role it plays in our life. In this blog article I am going to look at the various facets of anxiety and discuss its underlying neurological and emotional mechanisms, root causes as well as possible treatments.

Anxiety symptoms

What are the signs that you may be suffering from anxiety? There are a number of symptoms, emotional as well as physical, that can help you gain a better understanding of what is happening.

Emotional symptoms include feeling fearful or panicky in certain situations. You may be constantly worrying that something may go wrong. You may be nervous and uneasy about social situations. Sometimes people have difficulty in concentrating or struggle to express themselves in an articulate way. Mood changes, sudden irritability, feeling overwhelmed or feeling that you are out of control are also common.

Physical symptoms may include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, stomach ache, nausea and sickness, headaches and migraines, dizziness, cold sweat, sleep disturbances with difficulty in falling or staying asleep as well as blushing, stammering or nervous coughing.

Anxiety… is your friend!

Anxiety is an uncomfortable psycho-physical state and our instinctual desire is to get rid of it. However, surprising as this may sound, anxiety is not your enemy. Quite on the contrary, the ‘function’ of anxiety is to protect us, to help us keep safe. The feelings of anxiety arise as a result of neurological processes in our brain that responds to perceived danger and issues warning signals. These signals, which we experience as anxiety, make us alert to the possible risks and indicate that we need to be prepared to meet them.

How then does it happen that the same situation may trigger only mild or no anxiety in some people and be absolutely overwhelming for others?

The answer to this question once again belongs to the field of neurology. It turns out that our brain, sophisticated as it is, cannot distinguish between the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary’ danger. Neither can it always estimate correctly the scope of the perceived danger. It bases its evaluation on our previous experiences.

Notice what situations trigger anxiety in you and ask yourself what you are afraid of. Are you afraid of being laughed at or criticized? Are you afraid of being physically hurt? Or perhaps you are afraid of failure and the ensuing feelings of shame and worthlessness? Whatever feelings come up, the chances are that you have already experienced them sometime in the past in a situation that bears certain resemblance to the current one. In that case, anxiety draws your attention to some emotional wounds that you may be carrying within you and that need healing.

Fear of not being able to cope

Anxiety is usually defined as the ‘fear of the unknown.’ This is true insofar as the ‘unknown’ triggers the feelings of anxiety, suggesting that there might be potential risks if we go in that direction. Very often though what we are really afraid of are not the challenges as such, but that we won’t be able to cope with them or the possible ‘negative’ outcome.

For example, if you are afraid of failing an exam or a job interview, your anxiety is not about the actual failure, but about emotions that this failure may evoke in you. Similarly, if you worry about losing your job, a great deal of your worry is about not being able to deal with the possible situation of financial hardship and the stress of finding another job.

Feelings of anxiety about doing routine things or things that are slightly out of your comfort zone may indicate that you are simply too tired and need to take a break to re-charge your batteries.

As I wrote above, it is very often the case that anxiety is rooted deep in our past experiences, which underlie our current experiences and intensify our emotional response to them. How can you tell whether this is so? If your anxiety appears to be disproportionate in relation to a particular situation chances are that there is something more to it, and in order to alleviate it you need to look at the root cause.

Helping your inner child

Psychological resilience, and trust in your ability to deal with whatever challenges life may throw at you, is the basis for coping effectively with anxiety. We develop this resilience throughout our life, but a foundation for it is created during our childhood. If your needs as a child haven’t been adequately met, if you didn’t feel safe or had to carry too heavy emotional burdens it is likely that you may be more affected by anxiety as an adult.

One of my clients used to suffer from acute anxiety when going more than 10 minutes away from home. When we explored the sensations she was having in her body they led us back to her early childhood. When she was growing up her parents were very busy at work and often left her as young as the age of 6 alone at home to take care of her younger siblings, including a baby. She remembered sitting petrified near telephone anxious whether she would be able to reach her parents and get help quick enough if something happened. A part of her, overburdened early on with too much responsibility, never properly matured, and faced with the challenges of adult life would fly into panic.

It is important to be compassionate and patient with these child-like parts deep within us and help them grow and gain confidence. For this task we need to engage our adult parts that are equipped with knowledge and life experiences. When we perceive our inner children panicking we can gently talk to them, reassuring him or her that they are not alone and will be given the right support and care.

How to deal with anxiety

The first step in dealing with anxiety is becoming more aware of what is going on for you in your mind and in your body, learning to recognize the triggers and pre-conditions (e.g. tiredness). If anxiety is persistent and intense, and stops you from enjoying your life and doing things that you want to do, I would encourage you to seek professional help.

Counselling and psychotherapy in combination with some form of body-mind therapy will help you to understand the root causes of your anxiety and release it from your system. In my practice I work a lot with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) and find it very effective for healing past traumas and ‘rewiring’ your brain. EFT is also a great self-help tool for coping with anxiety as you can apply it ‘on the go’ to bring the anxiety levels down immediately.

I see people face to face at my practice in Cambridge and also work online via Skype. You are very welcome to book a session if you would like to try my approach and see whether it can help you become free from your anxieties.