Tune in to your own body. January 2019
Before Christmas I went to the Tate Modern in London and was quite mesmerised by a large sculptural installation called Babel 2001. It looked a bit like a very tall dalek! It was built of old analogue radios that had been tuned to different stations. While none were especially audible, they all competed with transmissions of music and low-level dialogue to create a kind of ‘white noise’.
I was struck as I tried to identify something tangible from the sounds that this tower was a bit of a metaphor for all the communication we are bombarded with on a daily basis. And none more so than at this time of year!
Every January we are inundated on TV, radio, social media and in magazines and newspapers by new diets, habits to break, causes to support, resolutions to maintain! The list seems endless and overwhelming, and quite possibly why so many good intentions are doomed to failure.
Because actually, January might not be the best time for you to try and stop smoking, or embark on a weight loss programme. It could be that buying all the foods or meal replacements to fulfil your diet would stretch your already stretched finances post-Christmas just that bit too far and cause conflict in your home.
For major lifestyle changes to be sustained you need to be 100% committed. You’ve got to want the change for yourself. And, most importantly, you’ve got to be in the right place emotionally and mentally to do it; and that might not be in January!
If you’ve been advised for medical reasons to stop smoking, lose weight or reduce your alcohol consumption then it’s important to be guided by the experts. But if the pressure is coming from loved ones or peers then you’ve got to tune in to your own body and circumstances and decide if you feel ready.
Hypnosis can be a very good way to rid yourself of harmful habits. It can help you understand the benefits you thought that drinking, for example, brought you, like blocking out painful emotions. It can help you construct new and beneficial patterns of behavior. But again, at a conscious level, you’ve got to want to make that change for hypnotherapy to prove effective in the long run.
So, if you’re struggling with all the ‘white noise’ of discounted gym membership messages, Veganuary, Dry January going on around you then maybe it’s time to tune in to your own body and listen to what it’s saying. Then decide what you want to do.
I work 12 months of the year as a hypnotherapist covering the Northampton area and whether I see you in January or August, I’d be happier knowing it was at a time of your choosing, at a time that you feel ready.
Forest bathing; improve your mental wellbeing
I recently watched TV presenter Sue Perkins try a spot of ‘forest bathing’, or Shinrin-yoku, while travelling in Japan. As you might expect from a comedian, she was somewhat scathing initially. But, by the end of her arboreal experience, I think even she was starting to see metaphors in nature, how a swaying tree for example made her think about bracing yourself for stormy times.
Getting outside and immersing yourself in forests, or nature generally, is fast becoming an accepted means of helping improve both your mind and body. Indeed, many British GPs are starting to see how this non-medical prescription can counter or help prevent conditions like stress, anxiety and depression.
With my nature therapy in Northamptonshire, I incorporate anything from walking and talking to guided mindfulness exercises. There’s something about being outside, particularly in woods that engages your senses like few other experiences.
While the UK may be some way behind Japan in realising the psychological and physiological impact of shinrin-yoku it’s good to see it’s gaining momentum here.
Indeed, you can even book forest bathing holiday experiences. But why not just get out there and try it for free? Here’s a simple exercise you could try one lunch break or at the weekend.
Dress appropriately for the weather and take yourself off to your favourite place in nature. Switch your phone off and either sit down, lay down, lean against something or simply stand. Become aware of your breathing, noticing your in and out breaths. Become aware of the contact your body is making with nature. With your eyes open or closed, first listen to the sounds immediately around you and then try to focus on sounds further afield. Then bring your mind gently back to concentrating on your breathing. Each time a thought comes into your mind, let it go like leaves on the wind, let them come and go as you bring your mind back to noticing your breathing.
It takes a bit of practice to become more present in natural spaces but it is worth it. If you would like to try a guided mindfulness session then give me a ring on 07927 340051, or if you would like to know more about counselling outdoors then get in touch