Phantom Limb Pain: Hypnosis helps decrease pain by helping the brain adjust to the new territory

The diagnosis of phantom limb pain did nothing to lessen the agonising shock-like sensations that Diane felt in the area where her leg used to be. Unable to sleep peacefully and on a cocktail of strong drugs she was exhausted when she first came to see me. As she related the horror of the accident and subsequent amputation, it was her extraordinary optimism and sense of humour that radiated through. Her determination to survive was evident from the beginning. After a motorbike accident in Bali, an island in Indonesia, no one would take her to hospital because of the belief that blood carries bad spirits. A hefty bribe ensured that she got there but there were only minutes to spare. Over the following two weeks gangrene set in and the limb was amputated. Five months on, the phantom limb pain was made barely tolerable by the drugs, though in Bali she had experienced profound relief through acupuncture. Back in the UK, her indomitable strength and open mind led her to explore more acupuncture and hypnosis. Phantom limb pain is common in amputees Diane’s symptoms were not unusual. Phantom limb pain is more commonly associated with lower limb loss through surgery or trauma, but has been reported after the loss of a breast, ear, testicle and even organs that have been surgically removed. Sensations are commonly described as shooting, cramping, burning or stabbing pains and these should be distinguished from stump pain that is local to the site of amputation. This is commonly caused by neuromas that grow in response to the nerve endings reaching out to try to find the other side of the cut. What causes phantom limb pain? No one could tell Diane what caused her phantom limb pain but there are several medical lines of thought Peripheral nerve dysfunction Spinal cord dysfunction The brain having to adjust its feedback system as its territory changes. It is the latter that seems to hold the key to understanding why hypnosis can help phantom limb pain sufferers. The area of the brain that is responsible for a limb may receive information from other areas after amputation. This is called cortical remapping. And it may go some way to explain why suffers feel increased phantom limb sensation from touching part of the face. For in the brain, the regions are very close. Maps of the body are in the brain Dr Ramachandran looked at a possible mapping of the body on the brain. His book Phantoms in the Brain describes how different areas of the body are governed by different parts of the brain. In this book, Ramachandran also describes a mirror box which reflects the remaining hand making the other hand appear still present. This reliably reduced phantom limb pain in hand amputees, indicating that the visual pathway was enough to convince the brain that its territory was undisturbed. Hypnosis to reshape the brain’s instinctive behaviour after loosing a limb If our brains are hard wired to expect a hand on
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I Meditated For 30 Days And Saw A Profound Shift In My Life – Create A Wave Of Change In Your Life Starting Today.

During a day of working with clients, I observed the familiar sight of my clients breathing becoming deeper. Tension dissolving, smiles and the minimal facial expressions conveying the changes happening in their brains.   Over the next few days I received three emails detailing the profound life changes that those clients had experienced from hypnosis. Old, unhelpful ways of viewing the world – GONE. They wrote of feeling increased vitality, motivation and ‘a sense of ease in daily life.’   By the third email a thought suddenly occurred to me ‘I could do with some of that!’ I was ok but having had a bug my energy was down and I was finding my focus and creativity not as sharp.   I used to do meditation mosts days but had stopped a few months ago. So, I made a promise to myself – ‘I am going to invest some time in me and use my skills to be the best I can be!’ So I started doing 15 minutes meditation a day – sometimes listening to a guided visualisation and other times just doing my own structured meditation which naturally developed by about the 10th day.   After 48 days I feel amazing, my energy and motivation to start exercising again have rocketed. Going for a run early in the morning and yoga now come easy but the most miraculous part of this new practice is what I have manifested into my life. Can’t go into detail as it is private to me (for the moment) but it is nothing short of a miracle and is life changing.   So what else have I noticed? I have noticed how my intuition is so sharp, how creative ideas and solutions randomly occur and above all – an abiding sense of calm over some important decisions I have had to make.   Want some of this too? Are you prepared to make an investment?   An investment of 15 minutes time for you every day for 30 days. Sound easy? That’s what I thought! First few days were great then I found any excuse not to take that time – and you will too but I had made an absolute promise to myself and so couldn’t go back on my word, so I carried on and the more I did the more wonderful things unfolded.   My gift to you is to share the meditation I have created and use every day. Join our Facebook page to post your comments and see the daily posts I will make to encourage you. Start today and live a bigger life.     
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11 Tips for Happy Long Term Relationships

Following last week’s blog on the 2 keys to lasting relationships. Here are 11 tips that cultivate an environment of KINDNESS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENT between couples. The longevity elixir for relationships! Pepper your relationship with lots of ‘turn towards bids’. Gottman found that long staying couples had more turn towards bids. Here is an example – when their partner makes a comment about something that on the surface isn’t that significant – like ‘hey look at that colourful little bird on the feeder.’ It suggests that what has been experienced or observed is important to the individual, so its therefore important to get that statement acknowledged by their partner.This can be done via their partner looking up from their present activity and saying ‘ahh’ or any other small comment that just acknowledges and appreciates their words. Active constructive responses. One step better than this was discovered by researcher Shelley Gable and her colleagues. They observed that how partners respond to good news from their loved ones is an indicator of a relationship will last or not.For example if a husband came home and said he had been offered a promotion if his wife was busy reading she would disengage from the book and make a comment like ‘well done;’ but the engagement would carry on. The wife might continue the dialogue and ask what were the first steps he needed to take.Couples who did lots of active, constructive responding like this were shown to have better relationship quality and increased intimacy. Take regular time out to catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives. A busy daily routine  can sabotage engagement and closeness so plan in time together – coffee breaks, date nights, a walk, turning the TV off  – anything that just gives you opportunity to talk. Pay interest in what is happening in your partner’s life. John Gottman calls this a ‘love map’ and said expressed how important it was to get to know who your partner’s friends are and what is happening in their lives outside of your relationship and the time you spend with them. Another important reason for catch up time. Be generous about your partner’s intentions. Don’t sweat the small stuff – so if your partner is late home, don’t sit there seething and winding yourself up into a lather but generate lots of reasons why this might have happened. Couples who stay together show understanding rather than jumping to a negative conclusion and thinking badly of their partner. Let go of the need to be right. A need to have the upper hand all the time and the last word can force couples to have petty arguments so try and let this go to reduce any chances of conflict or pettiness. Not taking every action you don’t like personally. So if your partner forgets to bring home the milk you asked them to pick up – don’t think they have done it to make you cross or not listened to you. They simply could
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Science shows that 2 factors determine if your relationship will be short term or long term.

As my client Gail chatted about how her husband was constantly annoying her with his talk about his work, and how she had criticized him at every available opportunity.’ I couldn’t help but think of the recent article by John Gottman, an international expert on relationships. Along with his wife Julie who is also a psychologist they run The Gottman Institute, and have devoted their lives to uncover what creates or breaks marital stability. The 2 keys to long lasting relationships. Along with a team of researchers they have made a series of scientific findings that determines the likelihood of a couple staying together, or not. And guess what the two key players are? Kindness and generosity – attitudes that seem to be missing from the increasing number of couples getting divorced. Nearly half of marriages end in divorce. Every year in the USA about 2 million marriages take place and in the UK there are roughly 250,000 marriages. It is shocking news that between 40 – 50 percent of those marriages will end in divorce, an outcome that few contemplate when gazing into each other’s eyes and say ‘I do’ and ‘until death do us part.’ Since the 1970’s scientists and psychologists have been trying to find the keys to successful relationships. In 1982 Gottman set up ‘Love Lab’ within The University of Washington. They invited newly weds and watched to see if there were any trends in the way they interacted with each other. The science behind happy, long lasting marriages. During the observed conversations couples had electrodes on their body so that the researchers could gather physiological data. This data was stored and then after a gap of 6 years Gottman’s team contacted the couples to see if they were together or not. Couples who were still married were called ‘Masters’ and those who had separated were called ‘Disasters.’ Relaxed Master couples v stressed Disaster couples. When reviewing the physiological data, along with the marital outcomes, researchers discovered that the ‘Disasters’ showed signs of stress during the observed conversations. In a nutshell they felt under threat whilst they sat and chatted to their ‘nearest and dearest.’ So even when they looked fine outwardly, inside they were preparing to be attacked or attack. In contrast the ‘Masters’ who were still together after 6 years had showed little sign of physiological arousal. They were calmer and kinder to each other – even when having a disagreement. This group weren’t fitter or stronger but simply had created an environment based on trust and love, so at no time felt under threat from their spouse. This fascinated Gottman and in 1990 he invited 130 newly weds to spend time at a lab – again at The University of Washington. The lab had received a huge make over and was designed to look like a bed and breakfast retreat. The couples were encouraged to spend time doing what they would normally do when relaxing on holiday. So they were observed doing regular
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Use Hypnosis To Improve Sport Performance

Countless successful sports men and women have used hypnosis to improve their performance for many years. Hypnosis is sometimes called creative visualisation, and it’s simply the process of using your imagination to increase your skill set. The repeated act of mentally rehearsing movement, action and reaction, creates changes in your brain and body. New neural connections start to form in your brain and these connections strengthen the more you rehearse the images. When you vividly imagine performing a particular move like a back-hand in tennis, your muscles strengthen and grow as if you had actually taken part in a training session. This was proven when a scientist took two groups of people. The first actively played a specific piano piece and the second group visualised doing so. Guess what? Yes, the group who imagined playing showed almost as much muscle development as the group who had physically played the notes on the keyboard. Why does visualisation increase performance and physical ability? In short – because your brain doesn’t know the difference between the two. A study by Soviet Scientists showed the effects of mental training on performance. During the 70’s Olympic athletes were divided into 4 groups. Group 1 did 100% physical training Group 2 did 75% physical training and 25% mental training Group 3 did 50% physical training and 50 % mental training Group 4 did 25% physical training and 75% mental training And guess who showed the greatest increase in performance – group 4 who did the most mental training! And what was as fascinating was that group 1 who didn’t do any mental training showed the least increase in performance. Subsequent training regimes for Russian athletes bought huge rewards in the 1976 Olympics as the Russians won a total of 125 medals, 35 more than their nearest rivals the USA. Why is mental rehearsal so important? To answer this question we need to have a quick look at how your brain works. When you are improving or learning a new skill you need your analytical brain to learn practice and then reflect on how you can do it better. Your logical mind couldn’t hope to house all the complex alignment of muscular skeletal moves needed to play a game of tennis or follow a gymnastic routine. It is your subconscious mind that collates the millions of pieces of data needed to do a forehand stroke or twist and turn on the bars. So once a skill is repeatedly practiced the coordination of that skill passed to your subconscious mind. All good so far but problems can arise when your conscious mind tries to muscle in on the all knowing and seeing subconscious mind. Thoughts like ‘will I win?’ ‘he/she is better than me’ destroy the minds natural ability to relax and focus on the game. Thoughts impede the neural firing that stimulates the learnt muscle reactions. Getting into the “flow’ state is vital for best performance. Now you may think it mad but even a sprinter has to
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Use Hypnosis To Make Great Decisions

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you have to make in your life? Not one single day of your life will go by without requiring you to make a whole heap of decisions. From the time you get out of bed, to what you eat, who you talk to, how you react to situations and who you love. The decisions you make are pivotal to your experience of life.  Some people seem to make decisions really easily whilst others fret and procrastinate at even the smallest decision, like what shoes shall I wear today? Lets look at how you can use hypnosis to make the bigger decisions in life more easily, such as what career path shall I take? Or, should I stay with my partner? It’s these big choices that can make you bury your head in the sand and worry for days. So what makes it so difficult to make an important decision. Lets take a fictitious person called John who has been offered a job and he is just not sure whether to take the offer or not. Lets look at what could be happening in his mind. Decisions that impact others can be harder to make. Decisions that don’t have a huge impact on your own or another person’s life can be easier to make than one that affects yourself and/or others in a significant way. So John maybe struggling with making a decision about his new job offer as it affects his family too. Maybe taking the job would mean moving house and children moving school or be a perceived financial risk. Fear of failure. John might be worried that if he takes the job and it doesn’t work out, his friends will see him as a failure. Have you ever decided against something because deep down you are concerned that it wouldn’t work out? A well-known characteristic of a successful person is they are not scared of failing and see new challenges or risks as a learning opportunity. Fear of committing to the unknown. John might worry about not being able to control certain aspects of the job like other colleagues or his boss. He will spends hours using his imagination to go through all the negative scenarios that could possibly happen. Lack of self-belief. John might want the job but is scared to take it because he thinks he isn’t good enough. Even though he may have gone through a rigorous interview process and the company obviously really want him on board. He will be fixated on worrying that he isn’t good enough. There is a common thread in these scenarios that make it difficult to make a decision, and it is fear. Fear of upsetting or putting others at risk. Fear of failure and of the unknown. Fear of not being good enough or fear of not being able to learn or attract what you need to make your decision work. As fear blocks creative insight, intuition and logical processing, it’s no
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How Hypnosis Can Help Solve Problems?

From the old days of watch swinging to modern day hypnotherapy, going into hypnosis has proven effective in alleviating many problem states. People who have experienced hypnosis say they find a freedom from previously imprisoning thoughts and behaviour. Hypnotized people report that their compulsion to addictive substances looses its grip. Others find their freedom from negative patterns of emotions such as anger, jealousy and low mood. And the effectiveness of hypnosis doesn’t stop there as doctors have performed operations without anaesthetic whilst their patients have been in hypnosis. Throughout time hypnosis and how it facilitates change has been shrouded in mystery. That is until the last couple of decades when science has given us a bigger picture of what happens in the brain. To understand hypnosis you need to have a mini brain science lesson; and I promise it will be short! Your brain emits frequencies that have been picked up by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans (MRI). BETA BRAINWAVES – 13 – 40Hz – You would be awake and doing normal activity. ALPHA BRAINWAVES 7 – 13 Hz – When you are relaxed, in light meditation or hypnosis. Alpha is associated with super learning and creativity. THETA BRAINWAVES 4 – 7 Hz – When extremely relaxed in deeper hypnosis and deeper meditation. The theta state produces profound relaxation; however, clients in hypnosis do not need to reach the theta state to make significant improvements in their lives. DELTA BRAINWAVES less than 4 Hz – You will be fast asleep or unconscious. GAMMA BRAINWAVES 40+ – A state of hyper alertness, sensory integration and perception described as a blissful state by people who regularly practice meditation. Another aspect to note here is the presence of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) observed in the Theta state and when dreaming. During hypnosis your brain will be largely in alpha and theta. If you were watching someone in hypnosis you would see their eyes moving very quickly underneath their closed eyelids. Whilst in alpha and theta you are in a more suggestible state, so this is why people can make changes when in hypnosis. But lets continue to build your knowledge, as there are other forces at play. We spend the most time in the theta state during the last trimester of gestation. During this time you are laying down new instinctive patterns that will help you bond with caregivers and negotiate your environment when born. During the first eight years of life you would have been largely in theta/alpha, enabling you to learn quickly and retain so much from those early years. You naturally lay down new instinctive patterns when in the theta state. And one important addition here is that you can also update existing habits and thoughts here too. So it makes sense doesn’t it to go to the theta alpha state when we are naturally geared to initiate and update from that state. Can you see now why logic and will power are often crushed by a strong habit? This
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Use Hypnosis and EFT to Blast Through Christmas Stress with this tip.

“It’s the season to be flat out and tired.’  Well you never hear those lyrics do you? But feeling stressed is more the truth of what happens in the run up to Christmas. For many, getting ready for Christmas comes with a side helping of stress that blocks the fun. A combination of unrealistic expectations, tiredness, overwork, fretting over who’s coming to stay, how much we’re spending and how to make it perfect for everyone; can mean it’s far from perfect for us or anybody else! Add to that the physical implications of less than ideal nutrition, more alcohol than usual, late nights and poor sleep, and it’s no wonder we can end up wondering why we bother. Top Tip for a stress free Christmas  Get rid of your triggers – Stress is often caused by past triggers. Most stress and worry is held in the unconscious part of your brain. Few people plan to loose their rag or feel tired and sad – a person, situation or thought will trigger an emotional response. And before Santa can get down the chimney there is a lot of unwanted emotion flying around. This response is called a negative hypnotic pattern match. Hypnotic because it makes you focus on the negative and loose sight of the bigger picture.   What Causes a Trigger? Past Experiences – Triggers often have roots in previous times when you have had worries, or when things haven’t gone well. As human beings we’re very good at finding patterns – it makes for a sort of shorthand for life, stopping us having to think about what a chair or a cup is for every time we use it. A previous negative experience can build an unconscious expectation that the same thing is going to happen every time you come across a similar event or person. So if there are relatives who always seem to put their foot in with unkind comments, or you feel not good enough then time to get tough with those triggers by preparing yourself to let those comments be water off a ducks back. Unrealistic Expectations – Sometimes you can build your own expectations through your thoughts. So you imagine the bossy Sister or Lazy Uncle to be different this Christmas– well the fairy dust will grow dim in the shadow of this expectation as you are only likely to be disappointed. You can’t change others so to find some peace of mind how about shifting how you expect them to change. Many people have this ideal of how Christmas should be and yes its great to have a goal of what you want to achieve but make sure it is an achievable one. Adopting Other Peoples’ stress bucket – Yep lots of us do it – we step into other people’s drama and end up building another trigger. Here is what to do to start to clear your triggers. The best plan is to start to be conscious of triggers that blast out
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SMART BRAIN TECHNOLOGY?

A new museum piece I couldn’t help but smile when I saw that the first smartphone is to go on display at London’s Science Museum in October.  At 20 years of age, the IBM Simon will be part of a permanent exhibition on the history of communication. Half the size of a house brick, the phone weighed the same as half a bag of sugar and held a charge for only an hour. And even 20 years ago, it cost $899! I remember buying three mobile phones in the mid ‘90s to issue to Housing Officers as safety devices when they were out and about.  The joke was, at least they could hit someone with them! Our lost communication skills It’s ironic, really, that we’ve spent so much time and energy developing the ultimate artificial communication device that we’ve lost focus on the most efficient natural one there is – us. After all, your average teenager, smartphone permanently attached to his palm, earphones plugged in, might be simultaneously checking his bank account, texting his mate and updating his Facebook status, but what he isn’t doing is communicating face to face, in any meaningful way.  As we become more locked into our own private worlds, we lose the ability to communicate and more importantly, to understand the communications of others. How we communicate A human being’s communication skills are incredibly complex, and it’s thought that only around 7% of them are verbal.  Of the verbal communication, tone, pitch and inflection are more important than the actual words used, and will often reveal the true sense of the message.  Try stressing each of the words in the sentence “How did you get here today?” to get six subtly different sentences. Below the tip of the iceberg is a whole mass of complex interactions around body language, facial expression, posture and eye movements.  Many of these are unconscious, and tell us a lot about how a person is feeling. Studying the “Naked Ape” You can sit with a coffee and watch the world go by and really see your fellow human beings communicate.  When you can’t hear the words people say, its easier to see who’s relaxed with others, who’s uncomfortable and even who’s lying.  (Studies report that people maintain a higher than usual level of eye contact when not telling the truth – to seem more trustworthy – and touch their faces more than usual, sometimes almost covering their mouths).   Bridging the great divide You can tell how well people know each other – or would like to know each other!  As you watch, you will see those who are comfortable with each other slip into rapport – lifting their cup at the same time, crossing their ankles the same way.  The gestures say “I am like you, I understand you” – and yet it’s all done completely unconsciously. Let’s hope we’ll still be sitting in coffee shops in 20 years time really communicating with each other – I don’t fancy sitting
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BRING ME SUNSHINE | Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. Another Rainy Summer’s Day It’s hard to look out of the window at the pouring rain and not get a little bit down.  After all, we really deserve a good summer, don’t we?  And the children had hardly broken up from school before it started to rain, and then it never stopped.  It’s only good news if you want to buy garden furniture, because everybody seems to be reducing it! In many novels, the weather reflects what the characters are feeling at that point.  Rain means misery and claustrophobic oppression.  A storm reflects stormy goings on in the lives of the heroes and heroines, like the lightening that tears apart the tree the night before Jane Eyre’s wedding to Rochester. Appeasing the Volcano This started me thinking about how much the weather influences our mood and how we behave. As I started looking for some more evidence about this, I came across news of the Tenggerese, an indigenous population in East Java, appeasing the mountain gods with gifts.  The ceremony, called Yadnya Kasada, is believed to keep them safe from the active volcano, Mount Bromo.   It seems our long held reverence for nature and the forces that control our planet are deeply held and translate into the way we live our lives everyday in the 21st century, just as they would have in older times. New German Study A new study by Jaap Denissen of Humboldt University in Berlin has looked into the influence the weather has on our moods and behaviour.  The study involved 1,233 participants, with an average age of 28.  They were mainly women aged 13 to 68 years old. Reported in the October 2013 issue of the journal “Emotion”, the study consisted of an online diary and various personality tests combined with daily weather data.  The results were fascinating. Weather and Our Moods Temperature, wind and sunlight were found to have an effect on negative mood, and sunshine on how tired people were.  Wind had more of a negative effect on mood in Spring and Summer. Sunlight had a mitigating effect on whether people reported they were tired on days when it rained, and although the responses were very varied, there was evidence for Seasonally Affective Disorder. How we can boost our mood The study has interesting implications for depression, and further research in this area would be interesting.  What we can do, of course, to boost our mood whatever the weather, is practice deep relaxation and self hypnosis.  Don’t forget, in hypnosis, the weather can be anything you’d like it to be!  Just try it now……………..get a sense of sitting beside a clear blue sea, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, watching tiny white fluffy clouds skipping across the bright blue sky in the light breeze…………….. Bet you’re feeling better already, even if it’s still raining outside! “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow
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