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The God Helmet

I recently read an article about what’s called a ‘God Helmet’ or Koren Helmet. It’s a device designed to explore religious experiences and creativity by subtly stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain. It was developed by Stanley Koren and Michael Persinger.

Dr. Persinger believed that all experiences are determined by brain activity. While he was sure about a direct link, he believed there was a strong correlation between brain activity and various experiences. He set out to explore the right hemisphere, associated with intuition and emotion, and its role in creativity.

The helmet applies magnetic fields to the temporal lobes, specifically targeting areas associated with hearing, speech, and sensory processing. These regions include the amygdala and hippocampus, which are linked to how we understand concepts like God and spirituality. By subtly stimulating these brain areas, the God Helmet can be used to induce experiences related to religious or mystical feelings.

Most reports from Persinger’s lab consist of people sensing “presences”; people often interpreted these to be that of angels, a deceased being known to the subject, or a group of beings of some kind. There have also been reports in which the participant has experienced what they perceive as God.

The scientist and science writer Richard Dawkins (British evolutionary biologist, zoologist, and author), appearing in the BBC science documentary series ‘Horizon’, did not have a sensed presence experience, but instead felt ‘slightly dizzy’, ‘quite strange’ and had sensations in his limbs and changes in his breathing.

In contrast, Susan Blackmore (British writer, sceptic, broadcaster, and a visiting professor at the University of Plymouth.) said: “When I went to Persinger’s lab and underwent his procedures I had the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever had… I’ll be surprised if it turns out to be a placebo effect”.

The God Helmet remains a subject of debate, with both detractors and fans. Whether it truly connects us to a higher power or simply enhances creativity, its impact on human consciousness continues to intrigue researchers and curious minds alike. For me, it’s like the part of the brain it stimulates is a telephone, but the question is does the helmet just make the telephone ring or does it place a call to a higher being. For now, it’s not clear.

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Psyche Resilience

The Psyche is indeed a fascinating aspect of human experience. But what is it? Well in psychology, the psyche is the totality of the human mind, both conscious and unconscious. It encompasses our thoughts, emotions, and all the other intricate workings of our minds.

Having recently experienced some difficult times I know that it is also self-healing. The concept of self-healing within the psyche is fascinating to me. In moments of stress, trauma or adversity, our psyche often exhibits remarkable resilience. It’s like to a hidden force within us – a gentle whisper urging us to mend, adapt, and find a way through. Just as a wounded body heals, our psyche, too, seeks restoration.

I have written before about Third Man Syndrome – the phenomenon where people report situations where a presence, such as a spirit, provides comfort or support during a traumatic experience.

We are all mentally stronger than we realise and from time to time we are presented with a situation that proves it. Consider the following anonymous poetic reflection:

Psyche’s Resilience

In the labyrinth of our minds,

Where shadows dance and memories intertwine,

Lies a garden of resilience, evergreen,

Where Psyche tends to wounds unseen.

She weaves threads of hope and light,

Stitching broken pieces through the night,

Each tear, a testament to strength,

Each scar, a map of life’s journey’s length.

When storms rage and tempests howl,

Psyche gathers fragments, heart and soul,

Her touch, a balm for wounds that ache,

A whispered promise: “You’ll rise, awake.”

For within her chambers, secrets bloom,

Resilience sprouts—a fragrant bloom,

And though scars remain, etched in skin,

Psyche whispers, “Healing begins from within.”

So let us honour this self-healing grace,

Embrace our Psyche’s sacred space,

For in vulnerability, we find our might,

And Psyche dances on, bathed in light.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, don’t suffer in silence. There is help available. With Hypnotherapy, for example, you are able to examine your thought processes and beliefs. These can be the cause of emotional, physical, mental or even spiritual problems. Once identified, changes can be made to address these issues and improve your quality of life. To find out more, click here.

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Boundaries Guide

I recently did a series of workshops about creating and maintaining healthy personal boundaries and I thought I would share some of the keys messages with you now.

The importance of setting healthy limits, understanding their own comfort zones, and recognising the impact of boundaries on overall well-being is critical. We all need to have a comprehensive understanding of personal boundaries and their impact on mental and emotional well-being. Being able to define and articulate your unique personal boundaries without confrontation is a very useful skill.

Do you have some insight into narcissistic personalities? Recognising manipulative tactics and emotional blackmail. Being able to safeguard your emotional well-being when interacting with narcissistic personalities can save a lot of heartache.

Personal anxiety can be a barrier to establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries. Learning coping mechanisms, mindfulness techniques, and relaxation exercises can help you to empower you to manage anxiety effectively, thus promoting the establishment of robust personal boundaries.

Anger as a manifestation of breached boundaries is a real issue. Finding constructive ways to release anger, identify triggers, and channel their emotions positively is key. The goal is to empower yourself to handle anger in a healthy manner while reinforcing the importance of clear personal boundaries.

Having good self-awareness to identify unhealthy patterns such as of victimhood in our lives. Empowerment and resilience-building help to move towards breaking free from a victim mind set.

Forgiveness (both for others and ourselves) is a powerful tool for boundary setting. It can be liberating to forgive and shed emotional baggage, paving the way for the establishment of compassionate and firm boundaries.

Ensuring you practise self-care and self-love underpins good boundaries. Prioritise your well-being through intentional self-care routines and self-love rituals. This will reinforce your intrinsic worth and help you to establish boundaries that safeguard their mental, emotional, and physical health.

Finally, having a plan that is tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. This actionable plan ensure you have a practical roadmap for implementing and maintaining healthy boundaries in their daily lives.

Investing time and effort in developing strong boundaries is a fundamental act of self-care and personal growth. Unleash the power of boundaries –the subtle thread weaving through every aspect of your life; master it and watch your entire world transform.

Robert Frost (American Poet) said in his 1914 poem ‘Mending Wall’, “Good fences make good neighbours”. It’s such a powerful message that it’s become a proverb. Namely, that neighbours are best able to maintain positive relationships when they don’t intrude upon or harm each other.

I have prepared a useful guide to help establish and keep healthy boundaries. If you would like a copy, please contact me.

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Forest bathing

I love being in nature. Whether it’s sitting in my garden or walking in a forest I find it very therapeutic and refreshing and it is an important part of my life. And I am not alone. The Japanese have the idea of Shinrin-yoku or Forest bathing. It’s basically, spending time in a forest or natural atmosphere and focusing on sensory engagement to connect with nature.

The sensory aspect is very important and it can involve using all five senses. Some examples of exercising this can include:

  • Listening to the sounds of the forest (birds and insects).
  • Touching and feeling the ground, the trees and the leaves.
  • Smelling the plants and trees.
  • Watching the forest, the breeze moving through it and the animals within it.
  • Tasting the crispiness of the air while breathing

While it started in Japan where 80% of people live in cities, it has spread to other parts of the world and it popular in America and Western Europe.

There are many reported benefits including:

·         Immune system booster. Experiments have shown that shinrin-yoku was associated with increasing levels of natural cells which are important in combating infection.

·         Mental health and mood improvement. Shinrin-yoku is linked to a recharging of positive energy, higher energy levels, and a purification of negative thoughts.

·         Decrease in blood pressure and stress. Studies have shown that it can decrease in pulse rate, blood pressure and concentration of the stress hormone cortisol.

In his series, Bill Bailey’s Australian Adventure, Bill (English musician, comedian and actor) shared his theory on nature, “Humans have an instinctive desire to connect with nature. And most of the time, we spend our lives indoors, in cars, buildings, and yet, we yearn to be out in all of this. What this is, is this thing, bio philia, our innate desire to be amongst nature. It’s part of our evolution. Our ancestors spent all their time out in nature. In our DNA we want this, we wanna be amongst this. This is where we feel more at home, in a way. And that is why I think that so many people here have this positive attitude in Western Australia, because of the proximity to the natural world. And bio philia, this innate sense of desire to be amongst nature, to connect with it, is really what it means to be human”.

Forestry England have produced a handy forest bathing guide. So, why not try spending a little time in nature and see how it can benefit you.

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Luke Humphries

Are you a darts fan? Well, I am not, but even I noticed the incredible story of the two players who recently contested the World Darts Final. Perhaps the most newsworthy player was Luke Littler, a 16 year old rookie. But for me the most remarkable player was his opponent, Luke Humphries, who eventually won.  Humphries has in the last few years transformed his life by overcome crippling anxiety and losing weight to make the most of his talents.

Humphries, whose nickname is ‘Cool Hand Luke’ in reference to the 1967 film, was until 2018 working as a Roofer. But after winning several Development Tour Dart tournaments in 2017 he decided to pursue a career in dart full time.

After some initial success, he suffered an attack of anxiety in 2019 while playing in the German Open. Suddenly immobilised by anxiety he was 5-2 up against James Wade, but went on to lose 6-5. The effects of this led him to consider his future in the sport.

Speaking about this time he said, “I am very open and honest about that and it is something I am very proud of because about two years ago, it was a time in my life where I wasn’t enjoying darts and I contemplated giving it up because it was just affecting me so badly”. He went on to say, “It has proven that you don’t have to give up on things just because of anxiety, it is beatable. I still get it, but I manage it much better now and it doesn’t affect me much in darts anymore which is the key thing for me. It allows me to play at my full potential”.

As if this was not impressive enough, he also chose to use his time during the Cov-id lockdowns to lose weight and to improve his stamina and performance. In a tweet in February 2021 he said, “Really working hard towards the new darting season in a few weeks! Lost over 2 stone since Christmas. On reflection big changes were needed to myself to get to that next level in my career! I’m practising harder than I ever have. Hoping the rewards will pay off this year!”

He later went on to say, “I feel really good, I feel full of energy. The hard work that I’ve put in through lockdown is helping me in that aspect and hopefully it carries me through to being a better player in the future”.

I think Luke is an inspiration and what he has achieved is a shining example of how we can make changes in our lives. My mission is to help people overcome their personal obstacles by inspiring and facilitating change in their lives, in order to create a life full of purpose, meaning and joy.

I am a dedicated therapist and I believe that all humans have an innate ability to become the best versions of themselves. My passion is to awaken the inner warrior in people and reunite them with who they truly are. This can be done with traditional hypnotherapy to treat unwanted habits, conditions and feelings. Or it may be through exploring past experiences or lives to see if they are the root cause. To find out more, contact me.

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National Day of Unplugging

National Day of Unplugging is celebrated on the First Friday of March each year and so it’s the 1 March this year. It is a day that encourages us to try a digital detox and not use our phones and computers for 24 hours. Their goal is to have you spend an entire day without electronics, especially smartphones. The idea is to give us a chance to realise the impact these technologies have on our lives.

The first National Day of Unplugging events, back in 2009, started with small groups of people getting together for tech-free dinners. Today this holiday has partners all around the world who sponsor live unplugged events every year.

It is no secret that we are using our digital devices more and more, and screen time is increasing every year. It is possible to have your mobile phone produce a report of how much you use the device and the results can often be quite surprising, if not alarming. Did you know:

  • Globally, people spend an average of 6 hrs and 58 min per day looking at screens. 
  • The highest national average screen time is South Africa, with an average of 10 hrs and 46 min. Other countries coming in over 10 hours are Brazil, Colombia and The Philippines. 
  • Perhaps due to the effect of this day, countries such as the USA, The United Kingdom, and Singapore have seen a reduction in the average screen time over the past year.
  • Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) have the highest screen time, averaging 9 hrs a day. 

Smartphones and computers have given us many incredible things. Constant connection to the internet means that we have access to an immense amount of communication, information and entertainment. However, these benefits also comes with some negative consequences. We forget to connect with people in real life, we are always worried about making our lives look perfect on social media and we sleep less.

So why not try it for a day. You can avoid the stress of keeping up with social media, have the physical benefits of not staring at a small screen for so long and improve you mental health by spending some quality time with the ones you love. As Carl Honore (Canadian Journalist) put it, “In this media-drenched, multitasking, always-on age, many of us have forgotten how to unplug and immerse ourselves completely in the moment. We have forgotten how to slow down. Not surprisingly, this fast-forward culture is taking a toll on everything from our diet and health to our work and the environment”.

If you are struggling then Hypnotherapy can help with breaking habits and addictions. Hypnotherapy can also be an effective way to help you with stress, anxiety and burnout. If you feel this could be for you, then contact me.

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Third Man Syndrome

While doing some research recently I came across the idea of The Third Man Factor or Third Man Syndrome. It’s where people report situations where a presence, such as a spirit, provides comfort or support during a traumatic experience.

In John Geiger’s (American-born Canadian author) 2009 book “The Third Man Factor” he recounts stories of people who had this experience. The term is used where people in dire moments feel a presence helping them, comforting them or giving them courage. Some people liken it to a visit from a guardian angel, dead relative while some report an unknown presences. It has been reported by a wide variety of people from firefighters to extreme sportsmen to arctic explorers. This entity actually appears to people visually as well as auditory so that the effect is that an actual person is there.

In the foreword to The Third Man Factor book, Vincent Lam (Canadian writer and medical doctor) tells of his own Third Man experience during a highly stressful period while crammed to get into medical school. He wrote, “My visit from a Third Man, whom I believe to be my guardian angel, occurred within a personal moment of crisis, rather than in the gruelling physical circumstances described by many of this book’s subjects. This sits well with John’s [Geiger] argument that the Third Man likely occurs more commonly than we recognize, and is not limited to extreme travel and exploration”.

Sir Ernest Shackleton (Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer), in his 1919 book South, described his belief that an incorporeal companion joined him and his men during the final leg of his 1914–1917 Antarctic expedition. He wrote, “During that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three”. This admission resulted in other survivors of extreme hardship coming forward and sharing similar experiences.

T. S. Eliot’s (Anglo American Poet and Playwright) 1922 modernist poem The Waste Land were inspired by Shackleton’s experience. One passage says, “Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road, there is always another one walking beside you. Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded. I do not know whether a man or a woman — But who is that on the other side of you?”

Emotional intelligence has highlighted the importance of “the capacity to soothe oneself”. This has led to the scientific explanations that consider the phenomenon an unconscious coping mechanism. But regardless of what you think these phenomena are, guardian angel, ancestor or a self-soothing coping mechanism I find it fascinating.

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National Time to Talk day

1 February is UK National Time to Talk day. It’s a day that encourages us to talk more about our mental health and to be aware of the health of others. It’s run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness . The campaign is UK wide and run by SAMH (Scottish Action for Mental Health) and See Me in Scotland, Inspire in Northern Ireland and Time to Change Wales.

So why not take a moment and ask someone you care about, “Hey, how’s it going?” And be mindful of the response you get. In Britain especially it’s part of the culture to not complaint, stiff upper lip and keep calm and carry on. So, if someone replies, “Not too bad” or “I am OK” does that really mean they are in good mental health?

Mental health has long had a stigma attached to it, but it is one of the key elements on which any healthy and happy life is built on. Being able to talk freely about your mental health and seek help is increasingly important in the modern world. As Vikram Patel (Indian psychiatrist and researcher) put it, “The current approach that psychiatry takes almost ignores social worlds in which mental health problems arise and tries to become highly biomedical like other branches of medicine such as cardiology or oncology. But psychiatry has to be far more embedded in people’s personal and social worlds”.

So what can we do to help? Well the Time to Talk campaign have set out five main tips.

Ask questions and listen. Asking open, non-judgemental, questions gives the person the opportunity to share how they feel and what they’re going through. It will help you to understand their experience.

Think about the time and place. If you suspect someone is struggling or you want to talk to them be mindful of the setting. It might be easier to talk while doing something else (driving, walking, having a drink or playing sport).

Don’t try and fix it. It can be hard to see someone you care about in distress but try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes and solutions. Many mental health issue can take a long time to overcome and they may have already tried various ideas and strategies. Just the act of talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be better to just listen.

Treat them the same. When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. Their condition does not define them. If they open up, they won’t want to be treated any differently.

Be patient. Some people may not be ready to talk about their problems yet. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them signals you care and are interested. When the time comes, it will be easier for them to open up another time.

Hypnotherapy can help with a wide range of mental health challenges. To find out more, contact me.

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Male Grief

The treatment of grief is an area I specialise in and I have written before about this almost inevitable experience. It’s a complex response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone you loved. And what I wanted to focus on this time is specifically male grief. It’s that men experience grief differently to women is more that often they have fewer resources to cope. Set aside the old fashioned, stiff upper lip, men don’t cry beliefs, men generally have fewer friends and so less of a support network than women.

Typically, women will choose to talk through their feelings of grief with friends and family while men tend to cope with it though thoughts and actions. Philip Karahassan (founder of Therapy in London, Psychotherapist and Psychologist) believes that society tends to look more virtuously on women’s apparent innate ability to recognise and express their emotions. And this actually makes it more difficult for men to open up about their grief.

He said, “That lack of expression can make us look for other ways to deal with grief such as destructive behaviours, just in order to defer feeling any grief. This can range from rage and anger to substance abuse. It can feel like it is working in the short term but leads to destructive habits and a build-up of hard to deal with emotions.”

Sir Michael Palin (Comedian and Monty Python) recently opened up about his grief at the loss of his wife (Helen Gibbins), who died after 57 years of marriage in 2023. He said he felt, “lopsided” and without a “rudder” afterwards. They had met when he was still in his teens and described her as “the bedrock of my life”.

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Speaking on Rob Brydon’s Wondery podcast Sir Michael said: “We were together for a very long time. We were married for 57 years and I met her before that so more than two thirds of my life was spent with her. And so you form a kind of unit. You don’t realise that until someone’s gone and then it’s slightly lopsided, like something tips over, and your rudder goes. You end up thinking it was just me but I need my partner there to sort of keep me on the straight and narrow. It’s not the great things that you’ve said, very often a lot of things that are unsaid because if you know somebody really, really well, you don’t have to sort of analyse everything or say everything, you just know the way they will feel. So I had to get adjusted to that.”

When someone has experienced a loss it can be hard to know what to do or say. I know when I have lost close relatives, some of friends withdrew not knowing what to do or say and not wanting to make things worse. But in fact, a helping hand, a laugh and a joke or a comforting presence can go a long way. So, offer that helping hand, lend an ear or a thoughtful message and be there for them. Help, how and when you can, and if they are struggling then encourage them to seek expert help.

Hypnotherapy has several techniques that can help those struggling with a recent loss. If you or someone you know could benefit from hypnotherapy then contact me.

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Boundaries

As I have grown older, and hopefully wiser, I have realised that having well defined boundaries are critical to happiness and being fulfilled. Now, I am not talking about your garden fence, but rather the boundaries that exist within our personal relationships and interaction. Having good boundaries are essential to being healthy both mentally and emotionally. 

So what is a boundary? Well it’s a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something. But what I am really talking about is that it’s the limit of what someone considers to be acceptable behaviour. We all need to be aware of the boundaries and ensure they are working for you. What this means is understanding that you can control the relationships you have and can always say ‘Yes’, or, indeed, ‘No’.

How do you know that you have problems with boundary setting? Well, have any of these happened to you?

  • You often say ‘Yes’ when you really want or need to say ‘No’
  • You hate letting people down. It eats you up inside when it feels like you have
  • You give so much of yourself in relationships that you often feel drained
  • You over share personal information and then later on, feel embarrassed or regret it
  • You’ve been putting everybody else’s wants before your own needs and desires.

We all deserve to feel happy and fulfilled. And I feel so passionately about this that I am currently working on a workshop to help you set, maintain and if necessary change healthy boundaries. I hope that the workshop will be ready in the New Year. Watch the video below to get an idea of what your will get from it. And, watch this space and resolve to make better, stronger relationships in 2024.

And remember what Robert Frost (American Poet) said in his 1914 poem ‘Mending Wall’, “Good fences make good neighbours”. It’s such a powerful message that it’s become a proverb. Namely, that neighbours are best able to maintain positive relationships when they don’t intrude upon or harm each other’s land. Fences, for example, would restrict one’s livestock your own land.

 

If this is something you feel you can benefit from then contact me and I would make sure you have more information when the workshop is ready.