Reflections for a Tuesday Morning….

Today I have been reflecting on pain. What is it trying to tell us? What is it that needs healing?

It is not uncommon to describe an injured part of us ‘BAD’, particularly if the restriction has been with us for a long time. It gets the blame for stopping us from doing what we need to do, which often results in frustration, anger, upset and in chronic cases depression. We become unable to relate to ourselves as we are used to. Our capacity to ‘do’ even the most mundane actions, brushing our hair or putting the kettle on, can make us feel redundant and reliant on others. Being incapacitated in this way can set up belief patterns which make us feel ‘useless’ and ‘invisible’.

So what is our pain trying to show us? I often wonder how our injured arm, leg, shoulder, knee, back feels at being referred to as BAD? Surely this way of describing our wounded part, connotes something that is has done wrong? When in fact it has only been following the desires of the brain, both conscious and unconscious? When we describe was is not functioning well in us, as ‘BAD,’ do we in fact undermine our healing process by highlighting our imperfections, chastising them, creating a distortion in our understanding about ourselves, which in turn leaves us open and vulnerable.

When we don’t like what is happening to us, it is a natural reaction to want to push it away. Would we treat an injured animal or child with such disdain? Unlikely, so why are we so quick to ‘tell ourselves off’ and abandon ourselves?

So my question is…… How can we transform our understanding of what our wounded part is telling us? Maybe the answer is to look a little deeper? Yes, you may have been making the bed and twinged your back, but what was happening before, that made you blind to any tension that may have been building up in that area of your body? Did it give you any signs earlier in week, that you may have ignored? Did you just carry on regardless in blind distraction, with the expectation that your body SHOULD just work for you, despite all the stress and abuse it gets?

What is your pain trying to tell you? Could it be an invitation to slow down? To Stop? To rest? Is it indicating a need to change your routines or belief patterns? What do you do that harms you? What does it want us to know?

The attitude of a ‘BAD’ anything is negative and counter intuitive. I believe it is a deception which leads us away from an opportunity for healing, into Cul-de-sac of negative feeling and circular self- destructive patterns.

So when our bodies manifest a restriction, and it becomes what is ‘WRONG’ or ‘BAD’ with us, maybe, this is actually and opportunity for bringing wounds (some maybe buried for years) to the surface for healing. If we can transform our understanding of our pain, we can realize that nothing is ‘going wrong’. With this reassurance we have a choice to react  with an attitude of  loving kindness towards ourselves. Helping us to raise our  awareness, take control of our fear, increase our levels of self care, creating an opportunity for healing that is truly for our highest good.

 

 

A Poem I wrote…

Today I was going through my note books looking for some reference material, and I found I poem I wrote in 2015. I want to share it with you…

If only my damaged body knew

that equality means, same for me, same for you.

Same for every-body-every-living-thing,

enough to go round, enough to sink in.

Enough for all, complete , intact, enending

Ego- mind, not knowing that.

Shut up like shutters, nothing can get past

protection against,

“it won’t be enough”  “it won’t last”

I’m faulty

Wondrous, Enchanting,

Loathsome.

Welcome skin,

Skin i’m in.

Remember it’s porous,

So love can get in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art of Bowen- with Alastair McLoughlin

Artof bowen Certificate

Last weekend, I was very lucky to be able to attend Alastair Mcloughlin’s course ‘The Art of Bowen’ www.theartofbowen.co.uk. As a full member of BTAA, I am required to ecru 16 hours a year, as part of a continuous training programme. www.bowen-technique.co.uk.

For me, training weekends are a good way to brush away any metaphorical cobwebs that might be present in my practice, open to new ideas, refresh regularly used procedures, meet, connect and share ideas and experiences with some lovely folk.

Alistair’s course asks us, as practitioners, to go beyond the ‘procedures’ and to ‘think out of the box’ and in fact realise that there is no box. He explained how the technique Tom Bowen developed, had an ‘art’ to it. “There was an art to what he did” Romney Smeeton.

Like other teachers I have enjoyed training with, John Wilks http://www.cyma.org.uk/  and Kelly Clancy https://kellyclancy.com/, Alistair base’s his ‘Art of Bowen’ teaching on three elements, Assessment, Correction and Confirmation. By assessing the body via feeling, scanning with your dominant hand, (learning to trust what you feel) detecting for heat (inflammation) or coolness (deficiency) in the tissue, observing and sensing resistance in joints, and using palpation to locate tissue tension. You use what you have felt in the assessment to guide how to craft and proceed with the treatment.

During treatment Alistair asks us to ‘feel’ and observe for correction and then return to the area for confirmation. This targeted way of working proves to be a very efficient way of helping the client find ease in their structure, as it gets straight to the center of tension/restriction, creating a quick release and a ‘less is more’ approach.

As with any good course, it challenged the paradigm and provided a view from another angle. Alastair has spent the last 25yrs of his Bowen profession asking questions… if it works, why does it work? and if it doesn’t, find out why it doesn’t. Through his vigorous curiosity he has developed and refined targeted applications, that result in sometimes instant relief for the client.

I feel excited to have some new tools to add to my tool kit and look forward to doing part two!

Thank you Alistair

 

 

 

 

Death Cafe – Norwich

Death Cafe NorwichJPG

On Tuesday 15th May, I was lucky enough to be involved as a volunteer in the Norwich Forum Death Cafe, as part of Dying matters week. https://www.dyingmatters.org/AwarenessWeek

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what a death cafe is, I have taken the simple explanation off the Death Cafe website…http://deathcafe.com/

At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.

Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.

A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.

Our Death Cafes are always offered:

– On a not for profit basis

– In an accessible, respectful and confidential space

– With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action

– Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!

I saw faces that I had seen at past events, as well as new ones. The day was full of stimulating, heart felt conversation and delicious cake too! Well done to Su Squires for her welcoming open heart, and her wealth of experience. The cafe’s informal approach makes the conversation about death an accessible one. Giving those who have been effected by it, a chance to voice concerns and share their experience without judgement.

 

Yoga-Bowen Day April 8th 2018

On Sunday Maxine and myself held our second Yoga-Bowen workshop at the http://www.theyogatree.co.uk/

In this workshop we concentrated on building rotations. Exploring the possibility  of building movement in a slow incremental way, without straining or effort-ing.

Yoga-Bowen April 18 4

Together, we have developed a structure for the day that has been inspired by this idea of slowing down. The day consists of two sequence session in the morning and two in the afternoon. Each sequence ends with some Bowen , then the sequence is repeated. In this context I am not using Bowen as a therapeutic tool, more as a focus of inquiry. When bringing attention to a specific part of the body one can rest there and focus on what is happening. Through this practice, we notice that there is always more ease on a repetition, but are there other sensations in the body? A melting? an opening of the breath? A deepening into movement?

Yoga-Bowen April 18 2

Can we create an opportunity for greater awareness and ease of movement? At the end of each sequence we factor in some breath awareness techniques, asking questions about where the sensation of the breath is? How long/short is the breath? Can you trust the flow of the breath? are you effort-ing?

Yoga-Bowen April 18 3

Maxine and I often hang each workshop on a quote we find inspiring, for this workshop we had two……….

Happiness Now:  the Value of Going Slow

If happiness is our goal in yoga, awareness is the route we take.  Slowing down brings awareness to physical habits, breath patterns, emotional states and contributes to an understanding of the mind.  Conversely, if gaining awareness is our aim, then relaxation becomes a necessary foundation. Monica Voss

 

‘What we are doing is not quite learning a technique, not quite learning how to ‘do’ something. Rather we are readjusting the focal length, the direction, and the domain of our consciousness. Thus, we gradually arrive at an awareness that is actually in our bodies rather than in our heads. It’s not something you learn to do; it’s a way of learning how to be differently.’ Reggie Ray

Yoga-Bowen April 18 5

We design the workshop from the premise that we are all beginners. Finding our neutral place and exploring from there. The class was a really nice mix, attended by Yoga teachers, as well as those with their own practice and some who have never done yoga before. We both felt very supported by those who chose to spend their day with us, and as usual the feed back that was given was invaluable. These are some of the comments that were left.

“A great opportunity to combine learning, movement and rest”

“A great day. Maxine’s teaching is very clear and concise, lovely use of language. The Bowen was useful and helpful to the movements”

“Some of the Bowen moves were more apparent than others. No 1  and No 3    made the most difference when repeating the movements”

“Enjoyed the Bowen, felt more open in the joints afterwards”

” I like the combination of the Bowen and the Yoga very much”

“It made me aware of the small movements in my body. I found the repetition particularly useful. I noticed the Bowen made a real difference in the Ist and 4th session”

Yoga-Bowen April 18 1

Maxine and I  plan to do another workshop in October, so do get in touch with either of us yogawithmaxine@outlook.com bowentechniquenorwich@gmail.com if you are interested in attending, it would be lovely to have you there.

 

 

 

A Collaborative day of Bowen and Yoga, Date Change…..08.04.2018

images-2

Due to the positive feedback from our last Yoga/Bowen day, Maxine and I are pleased to be hosting another collaborative day of Bowen and Yoga at the Yoga Tree, All Saint’s Green, Norwich NR1 3NB, on April 8th 2018.

The day will follow the same structure, but we will introduce some new sequences, so if you haven’t attended before you won’t have missed anything, and for those who are returning, you can develop what you took away with you from the last session.

We have brought together our practices to devise a day of enquiry and opportunity to slow down and deepen awareness in your Yoga practice. Creating time to explore innate and learned patterns of movement, supported by Bowen Technique.

Our philosophy– There is no need to try and fix the body, but simply to bring awareness to what harms us or restricts natural movement, creating opportunity for change in the body.

The structure and slow pace we have created for the day encourages a gentle winding down from our everyday over stimulation. The focus of this workshop will be on calming and soothing the bodies systems through Yoga movements, breath awareness and subtle (optional) application of Bowen Technique.

Venue:  The Yoga Tree, All Saint’s Green, Norwich NR1 3NB

Date:  Sunday 8th April 2018

Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm

Cost: £45. Early bird rate: £40 (if booked before 8th March)

To book contact:  yogawithmaxine@outlook.com

Please wear loose comfortable clothing and either bring lunch with you or there are other options in the area.

For more information about Maxine or Natalie please go to…

https://www.bowentechniquenorwich.co.uk

http://www.yogawithmaxine.co.uk

http://www.theyogatree.co.uk/

Bowen Testimonial, from a client with Spinal Stenosis.

On initial consultation it was clear that Micheal was at the end of his tether. Unable to stand up straight and with his pain level at an excruciating 10, particularly on his left flank.  He had history of fractures and scar tissue and has burnt out his thyroid. Because of his driving schedule, I was only able to see him every two weeks.

“I am a lorry driver and have been a long term Spinal Stenosis sufferer in constant pain, having to rely on Pain Management and Spinal Epidurals.

In the past year these have not been very successful resulting in 2 hospital admissions as my back was in spasm.  In the mornings my body was stuck in the position I had slept in and unable to move, in great pain I would eventually get out of bed sometimes taking up to an hour. I would then have to take my pain killers Diazipam,Tramodol and  Diclofenic to get through the day although still in constant pain.

In July 2017 I had my last epidural which offered no relief. My consultant suggested I give Bowen Therapy a try, something I hadn’t heard of. I looked it up and contacted Natalie who assessed me and confirmed I was broken, but was certain she could help me.

By the forth Bowen session I was pain free, and by my 8th appointment (which includes the assessment) I was able to stop taking my medication. I am now medication free and can get out of bed in the mornings with ease. This has only been possible thanks to Natalie’s knowledge and ability in the Bowen Technique and her support throughout. I will continue to see Natalie on a regular basis in order to stay pain free.”

Once again I cannot thank Natalie enough.

Mike

Bowen Treatment Plan

During the consultation it was clear that he was someone who wouldn’t let pain stop him from doing anything, so getting him to change his life style was a long shot. After his first basic treatment, his posture began to look straighter and he was able to bend to put his shoes on. He was still in a lot of pain and described feeling like “he’d been hit by a sledge hammer”. In his second treatment both knee caps where locked so I applied hamstring and knee / gastrox moves. On arrival of his 3rd session he was visibly angry, he had a lot of stress to deal with, and the pain he was experiencing was intense. I always find this situation quite tricky, and had to hold my nerve and try and tap into the site of pain. I did an assessment of his coccyx which as tender, so I applied the moves both ways…. On his 4th session he reported that he had no pain. It was immediately evident in his face, he was relaxed and smiling and his mood was jolly, he had lost weight and his muscle tissue had gone from a yellowing shinny texture to soft and pink. On his 6th session he was in a bad way again, his stress was high, his pain was high and his attitude despondent. I often see this in clients, what I call ‘a return to symptom’. It happens when an emotional trigger sets of the old compensatory pattern. The body gets lost, so to speak, and returns to it’s old coping strategy and lines of tension. The client often feels like they are back at square one. On this session I applied the pelvic moves to reestablish balance in the pelvic girdle. After this session Micheal began to make considerable improvement and as he said in his testimonial by session 8 he was able to stop taking his pain killers.

Although Bowen cannot do anything to arrest the Spinal Stenosis, what it can do is create space around it. Once the lines of ‘pull’ or tension have been softened in the body, the structure can find an efficient way of being more organised, to restore fluidity in movement. As a Bowen therapist I am very lucky to have Micheal’s commitment to keep coming back and all the amazing teaching I have received to help me do the best for my clients.

What is Spinal stenosis?

multilevel-spinal-stenosis-8col

Symptoms

Many people have evidence of spinal stenosis on an MRI or CT scan but may not have symptoms. When they do occur, they often start gradually and worsen over time. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the stenosis and which nerves are affected.

In the lower back (lumbar spine)

  • Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
  • Weakness in a foot or leg
  • Pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand for long periods of time or when you walk, which usually eases when you bend forward or sit
  • Back pain

Causesherniated-disk-bone-spurs-8col

The backbone (spine) runs from your neck to your lower back. The bones of your spine form a spinal canal, which protects your spinal cord (nerves).

Some people are born with a small spinal canal. But most spinal stenosis occurs when something happens to narrow the open space within the spine. Causes of spinal stenosis may include:

  • Overgrowth of bone. Wear and tear damage from osteoarthritis on your spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs, which can grow into the spinal canal. Paget’s disease, a bone disease that usually affects adults, also can cause bone overgrowth in the spine.
  • Herniated disks. The soft cushions that act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae tend to dry out with age. Cracks in a disk’s exterior may allow some of the soft inner material to escape and press on the spinal cord or nerves.
  • Thickened ligaments. The tough cords that help hold the bones of your spine together can become stiff and thickened over time. These thickened ligaments can bulge into the spinal canal.
  • Tumors. Abnormal growths can form inside the spinal cord, within the membranes that cover the spinal cord or in the space between the spinal cord and vertebrae. These are uncommon and identifiable on spine imaging with an MRI or CT.
  • Spinal injuries. Car accidents and other trauma can cause dislocations or fractures of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture may damage the contents of the spinal canal. Swelling of nearby tissue immediately after back surgery also can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.

Risk factors

Most people with spinal stenosis are over the age of 50. Though degenerative changes can cause spinal stenosis in younger people, other causes need to be considered. These include trauma, congenital spinal deformity such as scoliosis, and a genetic disease affecting bone and muscle development throughout the body. Spinal imaging can differentiate these causes.

Complications

Rarely, untreated severe spinal stenosis may progress and cause permanent:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Balance problems
  • Incontinence
  • Paralysis

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-stenosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352961

How can a gentle Bowen move have such a powerful effect?

Many of my clients are often ask me ” how can you do so little and get such effective results?” In my early days as a Practitioner I found this question hard to answer and the only sensible reply I could come up with “Bowen works, I’m not sure how,but it just does”

bowen-moves
Precise, gentle, moves over muscles and tendons

Thank fully new studies and research have started to reveal answers to the question above.

The simplicity of Bowen Technique begins with its method. Using fingers and thumbs, with gentle slow pressure, the Bowen move is applied to the body by drawing the skin back (in time with the clients breathing) to the edge of the muscle, tendon or ligament, and then held for a moment or two. (Bowen therapists describe this as ‘challenging the muscles’)

While the move is at rest position, it has a two fold effect on the structures underneath.

  1. It invites the body’s awareness to the particular area you are working on.
  2. It activates the ‘slow melting pressure’ a term described by Robert Schleip PHD in Fascial research.(1)

The ‘slow melting pressure’ describes the softening of the fascia (connective tissue matrix that covers muscles and organs of the body) Allowing the therapist to rest deeper into the tissue below, creating and finishing with a precise active move over the particular area. It is at this point that the Bowen moves creates a piezoelectric current.

The word Piezoelectric is derived from the Greek piezein, which means to squeeze or press, and piezo, which is Greek for “push”.

In his book ‘Energy Medicine’ Dr James Oschman states that the current creates “signals that inform the cells of the movement, loads, or other activities occurring elsewhere in their body. The cells, in turn, are thought to use this information to adjust their activities in maintaining and nourishing the surrounding tissues.”

Piezoelectirc response image

Dr Oschman’s explanation of what happens when a slow, gentle Bowen move is applied to the body, also highlights why the ‘gaps’ or ‘breaks’ become so integral to a Bowen treatment. One of my clients described the gaps as an opportunity to “let it sink in”.  Working precisely and efficiently with piezoelectric inducing moves creates the philosophy “less is more”, reducing intervention by the therapist to its lowest, leaving the body to do what it does best to restore health and balance.

“Bowen’s gentle stimulation of the fascial tissue and muscular system appears to facilitate the body’s capacity to detect, amplify and process bio-electromagnetic signals that are crucial for health.” (2)

(1)  Schleip, R., Fascia as a Sensory Organ, World Massage Conference Webinar, Nov 2009
(2) Bowen – Moving Blocked Energy by Kayode Olafimihan and Susannah Hall(more info)listed in bowen technique, originally   published in issue 74 – March 2002

Sophie Calle – ‘I live with her’

My journey into soul midwifery has been peppered with cross overs, creating interesting and curious influences on my painting. www.natinthestudio.co.uk

Sophie Calle,(SC) a french artist, has had a big influence on my painting and thinking. Her work takes me up close and interpersonal with everyday situations and difficulties. Her obsessive curiosity can leave me uncomfortable, but at the same time she delivers the answers I am looking for. Like her I am curious about death, and I wanted to share a piece of work that she did in 2007. It is titled Pas pu saisir la mort (couldn’t catch death). This piece is an instillation video of her mothers death. For me, it is a helpful insight into the paradox and ordinariness of death, it’s process, and how our earthly connections remain with those who have left.

I have transcribed her words from an interview that was given as part of a radio 4 programme called The Gamble -Naked, aired  November 1st 2017

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09byxlm

Sophie calle. Pas pu saisur la mort

Above is a still from her film Pas pu saisir la mort (couldn’t catch death).

SC ” The Doctor gave her three months- I wanted to be sure, just before dying she didn’t have something to say that she didn’t tell me before? So I propose to her to put a camera, always working. And every time I would go out of the room, I would push the camera, and when I am not in the room she can talk to me. And it worked incredibly. Because first, when she saw the camera she said”finally”, because she always wanted to be the main subject of my work. She was center stage. She would go on the table anywhere possible, sing, she was incredibly funny, so she was always the pole of attraction. To film my father dying would have been a real act of aggression, I didn’t even think about it. Just to laugh one day I told him, do you mind if I do the same for my mother, and he said “are you crazy”? But when he saw my mother’s show he loved it. I showed it to my close friends, my brother, all said it was OK, nobody who sat close to her asked me not to do it.

SC “I wanted to have the last breath, I wanted to have the last word…. I felt it. I was having lunch, I stood up and I say, I am sorry, I have to go, it’s now. And I got up to the room and she died. After, Robert Storr (RS), Curator of the 2007 Venice Biennial, said “Can you do something about it”? and I said “No, I cannot even look at it’. Finally, I decided to look just at the last hour. So far, I have never watched the rest, ever, so I don’t know if she told me something? I just could not watch it. And it was very strange for me that last hour, because, I could not decide if she was dead or not? It was a no-mans land; the period between life and death, and it lasted 11 minutes. It was those 11 minutes that I showed when I did the work about her.

RS ” The tape is a very powerful, quiet tape of somebody just stopping. As you are looking at somebody who’s breath is shortening and shortening and shortening, you don’t know at which minute death occurs? Socially there is very little work about the simple fact of dying. There is a lot of work about killing, just the fact that we run out the clock, is something that relatively little work focuses on. Many people who have died have simply run out the clock, they have had enough, and I think that was the case for Sophie’s mother, and I think she was quiet at peace.

Sophie Calle rarely looks at the piece once it is up and running, but she recalls a moment in the London gallery, when she felt compelled to step in.

SC. I give a look, and I see a woman very close to the screen. Then I come back one hour later, for the same reason to see if it is working, same woman, same place. I leave. I come back one hour later, same woman, same place. So I understood that something is wrong there. I took the woman by the hand and I took her outside; and she was in tears. And I said “it’s enough, just don’t stay there. it’s too painful for you, don’t stay there and she said “thank you for taking me out, I could not get out”. Obviously she was not crying for my mother, so I don’t know what she is crying about, her mothers death? Death in general?

SC. My mother is with me since that day, everyday, because we are just talking about her right now. For one month I install the work in the church of my mother. If she would pass by that door right now, I am not sure I would be surprised, she is there. So in that sense it is incredible. I live with her. I live with her.

In a recent interview with Eva Wiseman of the Guardian she she describes her new work Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery’ (2017) where 200 people buried private messages, she says…

“Hospitals and graveyards are not places that paralyse me. They inspire me and my work, it’s what has always been attracting me – absence, missing, death…” She has already commissioned her headstone. At the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, 200 people told her their secrets which she wrote down and dropped into her grave, then hung around for a cheery picnic. To some, she says, she was an artist, others a priest, others a brick wall.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/02/sophie-calle-art-interview-what-attracts-me-is-absence-missing-death

Certified Soul Midwife

Soul Midwife certificate

I am really pleased to tell you that last weekend I was able to attend practitioner level two, down in Dorset, for the second part to my Soul Midwifery qualification. It was a most illuminating experience that was both challenging and affirming. I met some wonderful people who are already actively doing ‘the work’ and to my surprise and delight discovered that I am not alone here in Norfolk. In fact there are more than a handful of Soul midwives here so I very much hope that we can team up and approach the subject collectively. For more information on Soul Midwifery and where to find one please go to www.soulmidwives.co.uk