How Theory Becomes Practice

By Dolma Johanison, D.Ac., L.Ac.

The Eight Extraordinary Vessels theory has been in existence for thousands of years, and many practitioners of Eastern medicine find themselves intrigued by these “mysterious vessels.” Over the years, many practitioners have indicated it is too dangerous to deeply explore the eight extraordinary vessels, while others believe quite differently. Li Shi Zhen of the 16th century had the viewpoint that not employing the eight extraordinary vessel theory with patients is a disservice to them. Following this guidance, I was profoundly inspired to deepen my study of these vessels and the works of Li Shi Zhen. During the course of my study and employment of the theory in my clinical practice, I discovered there is limited information on how best to proceed as a beginner practitioner regarding the eight extraordinary vessels. This discovery motivated me to write a book for the practitioner interested in knowing more about the eight extraordinary vessels and putting that knowledge into practice for the benefit of their patients.

“Early practitioners and philosophers were not afraid to use these vessels. Li encouraged all of his students as herbalists and acupuncturists to honor and practice the highest level of medicine by incorporating these vessels into their treatments.  In this way, he believed practitioners could serve the highest purpose.” (pg.13)

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Dagmar Härle: Trauma-sensitive Yoga

 This extract was adapted for the Virtual Yoga Summit from Trauma-Sensitive Yoga by Dagmar Härle. 

Since primeval times, people have tried to cope with the adversities of life. There have always been upsetting and traumatizing events, but the methods for confronting the consequences of these shocks have varied greatly. They range from shamanic rituals such as soul retrieval to physical forms of expression such as singing and dancing to cognitive and narrative forms. Many of our contemporary therapeutic approaches in the West are based on cognitive considerations. However, traumatization is not just shown in a change of convictions. Due to the lasting stress response, it is also displayed in the somatic effects that affect posture, physical reactions, and bodily sensations—phenomena that were the focus of treatment at other times and by other cultures. Feelings of numbness and being separated from one’s own body often alternate with strong, overwhelming reactions to triggers, and in many cases make an efficient therapeutic approach more difficult. Instead of introducing a new method, I see body-oriented work as a basis and supplement to the tried and tested techniques of trauma treatment.

 

WHY I WORK WITH YOGA IN TRAUMA THERAPY

The idea of integrating yoga asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and mindfulness into trauma therapy arose while working with my clients. When I completed my training in Somatic Experiencing and received my Master’s degree in Psychotraumatology, I was convinced that exposure therapy combined with a body-oriented approach is expedient in treating complex post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs). I am still convinced of this, although it has become apparent to me that progress is not possible with every client when using this approach. For some people with complex trauma, the exposure of traumatic contents was simply not tolerable—relating to their own bodies was so disturbing to them that it triggered a response of panic and dissociation. Continue reading

Lisa Sanfilippo: Yoga for Sleep and Insomnia – Considering trauma

Author, yoga teacher and psychotherapist Lisa Sanfillippo has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and now teaches at London’s premier studios, triyoga and the Life Centre. She runs yoga for sleep workshops around the world. Lisa’s work has been featured by various newspapers and magazines, and she has helped hundreds of people through her yoga for sleep workshops. She is regarded as the UK’s leading yoga for insomnia expert.

Lisa is the author of Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery (Singing Dragon, 2019).

In this video, Lisa discusses the benefits of yoga therapy for insomnia and trauma-related loss of sleep; the five-step approach to insomnia; how to approach teaching a trauma-sensitive group yoga class and more.

 


 Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery
An Integrated Approach to Supporting Healthy Sleep and Sustaining Energy All Day
Lisa Sanfilippo

Examining the ways that the body, trauma and emotional issues, and lifestyle can impact sleep, this book shows how to apply yoga holistically to tackle insomnia. Learn how to reset the delicate body-mind balance by moving through the koshas. This approach will put clients on the path to good quality sleep, with increasing effect over time. Read more

Books for Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health awareness week is a great time to look at how natural therapies can complement mental health treatment and be fundamental to keeping the mind healthy and preventing problems in later life. Here is a selection of some of Singing Dragon’s books for improving mental health.

                                                                                                                                                     

Recovery and Renewal by Baylissa Frederick

Frederick_Recovery-and-Re_978-1-84905-534-5_colourjpg-webMany people will be perscribed medication at some point in their lives to help with a mental health issue, but they can lead to dependency and coming off prescription drugs can be one of this most challenging parts of maintaining mental health. This book will be a lifeline for anyone taking or withdrawing from sleeping pills, other benzodiazepine tranquillisers and antidepressants. The author draws on her personal experience of coming off benzodiazepine tranquillisers to explain everything you need to know about withdrawal, including how to identify symptoms, manage them, and take firm steps towards recovery. It’s an uplifting, empowering read which will also be useful to families and friends of people overcoming perscription drug dependency, as well as medical professionals.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                     

Managing Depression with Qigong by Frances Gaik and Managing Stress with Qigong by Gordon Faulkner

Gaik_Managing-Depres_978-1-84819-018-4_colourjpg-webFaulkner_Managing-Stress_978-1-84819-035-1_colourjpg-webThese two practical books give step-by-step instructions for Qigong forms designed to combat depression and stress. No previous experience of Qigong is necessary. Frances Gaik is a clinical professional counsellor and provides a treatment plan with helpful advice from her years of practicing Qigong and meditation in therapeutic settings. Gordan Faulkner is Prinicpal Instructor at the Chanquanshu School of Daoist Arts. His anti-stress exercises are designed specifically to fit around a busy lifestyle and have been extensively trialled with Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres.

                                                                                                                                                     

The Mystery of Pain by Douglas Nelson

Nelson_Mystery-of-Pain_978-1-84819-152-5_colourjpg-webThis is a personal tutorial for understanding the psychology of pain. Douglas Nelson takes an in-depth and surprisingly entertaining look at how we experience pain and what medical professionals and therapists can do to improve treatment. Through asking strange questions like ‘Why does scratching an itch feel so good?’ and ‘Why is pain from a mosquito bite preferable to the same pain from an unidentified source?’ Nelson shows how us that the more we understand pain, the more power we have to control it.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                     

Fragrance and Wellbeing by Jennifer Peace Rhind

Rhind_Fragrance-and-W_978-1-84819-090-0_colourjpg-webFragrance has a powerful impact on our mental and emotional states, with scent playing a key role in forming memories and sense of place. This book explores the impact of fragrance on the psyche from biological, anthropological, perfumery and aromatherapy viewpoints. The author explores how scent has been used throughout history and across cultures, discusses the language of fragrance and presents detailed profiles of a broad range of fragrance types including their traditional and contemporary uses, and mood-enhancing properties.

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                   

Principles of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) by Lawrence Pagett and Paul Millward, and Principles of NLP by Joseph O’Connor and Ian McDermott

Pagett-Millward_Principles-of-E_978-1-84819-190-7_colourjpg-webO_Connor-McDerm_Principles-of-N_978-1-84819-161-7_colourjpg-webThese are quick and easy introductory guides to teaching yourself the therapeutic psychological techniques of EFT and NLP. EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) work by removing blockages in your body’s energy using tapping  in order to feel more positive, energetic, and less stressed. EFT can relieve a wide range of conditions including anxiety, anger, depression, insomnia and migraines. NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is a system of modelling your speech and behaviour to achieve your goals and connect better with those around you. It’s applications include building confidence, beating depression, and developing your career. NLP is a great starting point for anyone looking to improve their life.

                                                                                                                                                   

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from May 12-18, for more information see www.mentalhealth.org.uk. For more books on a range of mental health issues visit Singing Dragon’s parent company, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, www.jkp.com.

How to open your heart – by Rosemary Patten

Patten, RosemaryWe are full of complexities, a myriad of different functions that completes us make us part of the human race.  Our bodies crave order and the status quo, yet our heart wishes to be free, joyful and loved. We are looking for that special something that unites us with nature and the heavens. Yet we become distracted with challenges of life, we twist and turn looking for that spark of our existence.

The Universal life force energy that unites us is drawn into us by seven main energy centres or chakras.  Our heart is the link between earths’ energy and the heavens. When our heart is in balance we can love, be joyful, and can cry when life around us is tough.  We can live each moment with pleasure, accept ourselves in the now and forgive our weaknesses.

People who have in the past inflicted pain and have indeed broken our hearts should be forgiven.  We know in our heart that it is their failure to understand, they have taught us strong powerful lessons that we need to know.  When we understand the people who have hurt us, we free our hearts from the pain and our heart has been healed. When we stay in conflict, we only continue to be unhappy.  This negative energy emulates out to people, the world, the planet and the Universe.  Everyone around us receives our signals as hostility toward them, people move away from us and our isolation grows as we push the hurt deep down inside us.

How can we forgive such terrible hurt?  We are who we are and we cannot change, our scars are there, tight in our heart, locked deep. They are almost physical in the pain they inflict, too frightening to bring to the surface and assess.  But if we do not allow ourselves to cry, to feel that which we shut away, and then let go with understanding and compassion, we will not be that person we want to be. The pain will not go away unless we release it and forgive those who have rendered us immobile.

We must forgive ourselves for hanging onto a hurt that takes our breath away- the breath of life.  Start to see with different eyes, a world that is sacred and all things beautiful.  We must learn to emulate our love outwards and love will come to us. There is no effort involved as our thoughts are more and more positive.  We experience love in all its different forms; love of nature, art, music, mankind and the love of that special person.  Love our amazing planet and love the Universe that created us and loves us back.

How can we regain this balance between heaven and earth?  When you are aware of your thoughts, it releases negativity. Thinking on the following affirmations confirms your intention. We will attract positive thoughts towards us, a higher vibration that raises us up towards the heavens. The heart is the link between our higher self and earth, beginning our journey greater understanding.

How to open your heart

Affirmations – choose two of the following or use your own personal affirmations:

I release all feelings of guilt and start my journey to peace and love.

I accept myself and know that my heart is mending.

I can cry and can release those feelings of hurt.

I am surrounded by the beauty of nature and this makes my heart sing with joy.

I forgive those who have broken my heart they also are on a journey.

I embrace change and look forward to exciting new challenges.

I only surround myself with people who bring joy into my life.

Try to be aware of your thoughts, allow negative thoughts to come to the surface.  Never suppress them, as they are low vibration and will be heavy.  Picture in your mind’s eye a red balloon and place the negative thoughts into the balloon, allowing them to drift of up into the sky.

Whenever possible, change any thought to a more positive vibration by putting a spin on it. For example ‘I am dreading work today’ could change to ‘I am dreading work today so I will meet my friend at lunchtime, always enjoy her company. I am lucky to have such a good friend’.  Now there is a reason not to dislike work, as you are now more optimistic!

Once you start bringing your thoughts to a conscious level you will feel you have more energy. The journey of forgiveness towards those who have hurt you in the past has begun. By healing yourself you will truly open your heart and bring true love and joy into your life.  That joy and love can then spread through to all who come into contact with you.

 

Rosemary Patten is a master Reiki practitioner, aromatherapist, reflexologist, and author of Japanese Holistic Face Massage. She lives in Kent, UK.

First steps in promoting hair regrowth, for anyone affected by Alopecia and other hair-loss problems – with Vera Peiffer

Vera PeifferWhen your hair is falling out, you are not just having a problem with your hair, but also something else in your body, no matter whether you have other symptoms or not. As I’m explaining in my book Regrowing Hair Naturally, there is a reason why your hair is falling out. This reason is some form of toxicity.

 

Water and hair loss

Toxicity in your body makes your body too acidic. While some acidity is very important for body processes to function correctly, over-acidity is a problem and can lead to hair loss. If you then also don’t drink any water during the day, the acidity stays in the body undiluted and this is where damage occurs.

If you are worried about your hair at the moment, it would obviously be important to find out which toxins are causing acidity in your body, but even if you don’t want to do this, at the very least start drinking good quality water. Increase your water intake every few days from 1 glass a day to 8 large glasses a day (approximately 2 litres a day). This helps dilute the acid in your body, no matter what has been causing the acid in the first place.
Drinking water is the first phase of detoxing. The second phase would be to take particular supplements (these are different for each person) which bind with the toxins and then take them safely out of the body. A hair sample test can establish exactly which supplements your body needs to carry out this conjugation phase of detox.

When you drink water, make sure the water is good quality. Filter it with a charcoal filter (Brita or similar) or have a water filter installed under your sink. If your water supply is fluoridised, I would suggest to drink bottled water as fluoride is not a great substance to have in your body. Don’t drink unfiltered tap water, no matter what your water company tells you. Chlorine in water needs to be filtered out, and your charcoal filter will do that for you.

Wheat and hair loss

Over 80% of my clients who have my hair/nail sample tests done have a problem with wheat. Some of them have a problem with all grains (rye, barley, oats etc).

Have a think about what you are eating for a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your diet consists of muesli, sandwiches, pizza and pasta, this will have a major negative impact on your hair, even if you don’t have a wheat intolerance. What you need to eat is a little meat, plenty of vegetables and some carbs such as rice or potatoes. I know that this is inconvenient, especially for breakfast, but you are actually better off with bacon and eggs or an omlette for breakfast than with a muesli if you want to help your hair.

Foods you need to avoid are bread, pasta, pizza, biscuits, cakes, pasties and anything else that is made from wheat or gluten-free wheat. It is not enough if you change to gluten-free wheat as many people are not just intolerant to the gluten in the wheat but also to the rest of the grain.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Water: 

Can’t I have juice instead of water?

Juice has a lot of sugar in it which makes the body acidic, and too much acidity is bad for your hair. Drinking juice also dehydrates you. There is really no replacement for water.

I find it hard to drink water. If I do, I have to run to the loo too often

Start with drinking sips of water throughout the day. If you need to pee a lot it means that you are completely dehydrated and / or that you are drinking too much too quickly.

Wheat: 

I find it very hard not to eat pasta, bread and cakes. Do I really have to give them up for my hair to grow better?

I know it’s hard to give up wheat. Wheat is actually quite addictive, but if you want your hair back, you will need to at least drastically reduce your wheat intake. Wheat and other grains can actually stop the body from detoxing because they produce mucus in the body.

Is it OK to have glutenfree bread instead of normal bread?

Yes, gluten free is much better, but even that type of bread does not contain the nutrients your hair needs to grow, so make sure you have proteins and vegetables most of the time.

 For more tips on hair regrowth, visit Vera Peiffer’s website: http://www.hairgrowthuk.co.uk/blog/ and read Regrowing Hair Naturally


More from Vera Peiffer

Principles of Hypnotherapy
What it is, how it works, and what it can do for you 

Vera Peiffer

This is an authoritative introduction to hypnotherapy explaining what it is, how it works, what its origins are, what to expect when being treated and how to find a reputable hypnotherapist. It also clarifies how hypnotherapy can help with mental and emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, phobias, confidence problems and unwanted habits.

Click here to buy the book

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved.

“Although fatigue may persist, it can go away” – An interview with Lucie Montpetit

Photo: Singing Dragon author Lucie Montpetit

Photo: Singing Dragon author Lucie Montpetit (Credit: Jackie Fritz)

Lucie Montpetit is an occupational therapist with over 25 years’ experience working in a variety of hospital settings. She runs workshops on managing fatigue, stress and pain using the approach she has developed incorporating a number of different techniques. She has personally suffered from debilitating fatigue and restored her health through the methods she now teaches others.

She is the author of Breaking Free from Persistent Fatigue – coming soon from Singing Dragon.

In this interview, Lucie recounts her personal experience with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and how overcoming this condition through a combination of occupational therapy techniques and Eastern health modalities inspired her to help others to do the same.


Can you please tell us a bit about you and your personal and professional interest in improving the lives of people with persistent fatigue?

First, I’d like to explain that I chose the expression “persistent fatigue” because although fatigue may persist, it can go away. A frame of mind open to hope is important in healing.

When I started working as an occupational therapist, I was interested in understanding the drops in energy of my patients. Despite people’s motivation to get better, a lack of energy became apparent in rehabilitation. I encountered different types of lack of energy, whether patients were suffering from major depression in an acute psychiatric setting; war veterans suffering from late onset diabetes leading to leg amputation; or young mothers who just encountered their first major energy drop from multiple sclerosis or a rheumatoid arthritic attack. Personally, I went to see a neurologist at the age of 29 because of sudden energy drops and my GP thought I had multiple sclerosis, but nothing was found and it went away within two weeks. Then, after my second child was born, I had multisystemic symptoms that my GP did not understand. He said I must be stressed. But I did not feel I was more stressed than my co-workers and friends who had to conjugate career and family life.

Book cover: Breaking Free from Persistent FatigueEventually, despite my relatively healthy lifestyle, I had to find another doctor who put me on sick leave with the diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis. It took me about two years to recover from the persistent debilitating fatigue. After that I started to do workshops for patients suffering from similar daily challenges. My book reflects in part my own findings to regain my health as well as the work I have done as an occupational therapist with patients suffering from debilitating fatigue associated with different diagnoses. So it is not a book about disease but about finding solutions according to different ways of gaining back one’s physical, emotional and psychological energy balance. For many, it is also a path towards empowerment and finding a new meaning in daily activities.

Can you paint us a picture of what the person with fatigue goes through on a daily basis?

Once the imbalance is severe, here is what I observed in my patients: Sudden energy drops at fixed time during the day or after physical exercise; poor sleep of different kinds (inability to fall asleep, waking up many times during the night with an urge to urinate and/or unable to feel refreshed even after a good night’s sleep); food and environmental intolerances; exacerbation of known allergies or new allergy appearances; dizziness; mood swings; foggy thinking; no buffer to deal with stress; having a hard time doing little things around the house, such as washing dishes, due to lack of energy and reduced capacity to organise and plan; having projects in mind and interests to pursue but the inability to do so due to lack of energy; not being able to lift grocery bags without shaking like a leaf and needing to go to bed right after; preferring to be alone but not necessary being depressed – essentially just needing to use as little energy as possible to “survive another day”.

What causes this debilitating condition?

One thing for sure is that long standing exposure to stress is a cause of this debilitating condition, but not only psychosocial stressors like your work environment, a conjugal separation or the death of a close relative. These can also include viral infections, postural stressors that leads to jaw misalignment and lack of sleep, nutritional deficiencies that prevent the production of energy at the cellular level, candidiasis, and long term exposure to moulds, endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, allergens, electromagnetic smog and other environmental pollutants.

The accumulation of stressors leads to the imbalance of your psycho-neuro-immuno-endocrine (PNI) super system, known by researchers as allostatic overload.

What makes it worse, and what makes it better?

Continuous exposure to stressors of any kind – insomnia, not respecting one’s limitations and forcing oneself to do more – makes things worse. To make things better, get rid of the stressors when possible; eat energising foods rather than energy draining processed foods; modify daily habits to optimize the natural chronobiological hormonal cycles of one’s body; learn to change one’s mode of reacting into a more energising way of responding to daily life challenges; and make informed choices while honouring one’s strength and limitations. Choosing the right physical intensity of exercise to regain one’s capacities is crucial, while choosing key nutrients to optimise cellular energy production is also important in the process. Learning how to breathe efficiently through the nose in order to optimise the oxygen input is also very important.

What is the book about, and what motivated you to write it?

For many years, I have been dissatisfied with medical answers that purport to address the debilitating fatigue suffered by my patients with auto-immune diseases. Lack of resources and understanding, finding quick fix medications such as antidepressants for patients clearly suffering from musculoskeletal symptoms such as fibromyalgia, and having difficulty finding answers with the variety of health professionals I personally consulted inspired me to write the book. I needed to find answers firstly for myself, and then got the urge to share my findings and what I had learned with others facing similar prejudices among some health care practitioners. So the book is about finding personal solutions, different for each reader because of their own type of debilitating fatigue and personal way of over-spending their energy. People will learn how to make an energy balance sheet like one would do financially when consolidating debts. From their findings, they will figure out how to save energy in their daily lives and regain their inner mind-body balance towards health.

Can you talk about how your work and approach is influenced by Chinese medicine and other practices?

As an occupational therapist I was trained to view my patients from a holistic perspective, which is in accordance with my personal understanding. People require a meaning in the activity they are doing in therapy; they need goals of their own to reach in addition to those of my rehabilitation treatment plan for them. From my perspective as a martial artist of many decades, I am also influenced by the efficiency of energy expenditure, the need for the energy to circulate through the meridians and the influence of the breath during outer and inner Qi Gong and martial practice.

For me, the autonomous nervous system (ANS) follows the yin/yang principles. Patients I treat, for different reasons, have lost the balance of their PNI super system. This has direct repercussions on the ANS as it reverts to a constant “fight or flight” reaction mode as a result of too many stressors that leads to a narrow, skewed perception of daily life. In these circumstances, the ANS becomes too much yang.

I teach patients to reconnect with their bodies through their senses, the awareness of their body and posture in space and their breathing pattern. Then I use different Qi Gong exercises according to the level of energy of my clients or Chan Ssu Chin Tai Chi exercises (known as Silk Reeling Cocoon exercises) to reconnect further with their breath and body and the body’s ability to heal itself. Sometimes I use Neurofunctional reorganisation – Padovan’s Method® (NFR) with the patients to regain the balance of their autonomic nervous system and sleep rhythm: it is a powerful tool that follows brain plasticity principles. I had used NFR mainly with patients suffering from neurological conditions that follows brain plasticity principles in the past. Many of the NRF exercises help my clients suffering from debilitating fatigue as well because it helps reorganise posture, breathing, and ANS functions and rhythms.

Once the body starts to regain its natural rhythms, I encourage my patients to implement what they found useful in therapy into their lifestyle. I teach them about chronobiological rhythms so they can choose for themselves the minor changes in their daily habits that can help foster the natural flow of hormones and chi. Finally, when the patient starts to get out of the constant “fight or flight” mode and is ready to respond in a new way, I make use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) principles to help make changes to the energy draining perception of daily life to energising life habits that are better suited for the recovery process. All of those life changes follow the yin/yang principle to break free from persistent fatigue while restoring the inner balance called homeostasis in Western medicine.

How does the book reflect your general philosophy about health?

For me, health is a dynamic equilibrium within oneself. Equilibrium takes place in the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual dimensions of our lives in relation to our environment. If a person is disconnected from one aspect of his or her self, the imbalance will eventually be reflected in the other dimensions of his or her life. I believe that every person who comes to consult me is in part responsible for restoring and then maintaining his or her PNI super system dynamic balance that we refer to as health. People are amazing at finding ways to change their lives in ways that make sense to them. Once they realise from a new point of view how they were living, they have no interest of returning to their previous lifestyle.

Our environment has never had such a strong negative impact on our health. Depleted soils and foods, pollution of all senses, the intrusion of technology in every aspect of our daily lives and having to deal with the compound effects of so many hundreds of chemicals even before we are born are also major stressors that health professionals too often neglect. These are also consequences of living in a world that is too “yang”. There is an implicit false belief that we have to be busy and multitasking most of the time. We can be proactive in maintaining or restoring our health once we gain knowledge of those relatively new phenomena. Knowledge is power. Feeling empowered rather than feeling a victim of a disease changes your outlook on your condition. This frees your body-mind and it starts to heal itself faster. Allowing a few minutes per day to be rather than to do is sometimes sufficient to maintain one’s inner balance.

Finally, how should this book be used by the reader?

The book is to be read and applied according to your level of energy. As a start, people who have low energy would benefit from knowing how to nourish their bodies to optimise energy production. Then they should go to the chapter that appeals to them. Usually, a gut feeling leads people to what they need. If a reader is too exhausted to concentrate on reading, I recommend bringing the book to a true friend or the health professional he or she is working with to do some of the exercises with the assistance of the health professional.

Copyright © Singing Dragon 2012.