Is it possible that puking into a bucket could be a cutting edge therapeutic technique? I believe the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. In this article I’ll describe my experience of purging, explore some theories and give some pointers for therapists keen on including it as part of their tool bag.
In Autumn 2010 my girlfriend Max and I arrived back from a course on Shamanic Sexual Healing run by Baba Dez of the Sedona Temple. As you can imagine the week had been pretty intense and had involved working with many of the participants’ deeply held traumas. We were together in the lounge and I was commenting on an icky feeling of revulsion that I notice in my gut from time to time when we are together. Max then asked me what I immediately recognized as a brilliant question: ‘What does it smell like?’
As I turned my imaginary nose towards the feeling in my belly I realized that, even though I had no conception of what it would smell like, I was, nevertheless, afraid of smelling it. I allowed myself to become fully aware of this fear, faced it, felt it, and chose to smell the thing I could feel. As I made this decision my body jerked into a cough. The cough became more and deeper coughs. I noticed that I was afraid that I would be sick; and turned towards this fear too. The coughs continued. Some liquid was ejected, projectile like, from my mouth and my thoughts pinged briefly to a scene from the film ‘The Exorcist’.
Thankfully the vomiting didn’t last long but the coughs became spasms moving through my whole body and making me utter groaning sounds that I’ve never heard before. The first wave lasted over an hour. Max sat with me, calmly, through these and for all the waves to come; a comforting witnessing presence. The next wave of contractions lasted for less than an hour and subsequent waves for less and less time and with longer periods of lucidity in between. The experience was reminiscent of contractions during a birth. All in all it lasted for about four and a half hours.
The next day I was somewhat wide eyed – did I dream all that? It was as if something very special had happened and I felt like I had been partly cleansed but that there was more yet to go. Though it was certainly intense it was not scary. It felt natural – like my body had been waiting for an opportunity to do it.
When we are out in the jungle hunting and gathering and we eat the wrong kind of berry the body’s natural action is to eject the toxins the quickest way possible – usually the way they came in. From that moment on the body remembers the experience and reminds us not to eat those berries again by associating them with feelings of disgust. In addition to the personal experience it is noticed that vomiting in one person tends to induce feelings of nausea and vomiting in others. This makes sense in the food gathering example as if your friend has just eaten something toxic there is a good chance that you have too.
The disgust association can also be socially conditioned. When mothers see their child exploring ‘dirty’ things with their mouths and teach their offspring to find it disgusting by making ‘eaugh’ noises, pulling a face and removing the offending item from their mouths (often causing their children to start crying in the process). Later, as we learn language, we learn to be sickened by the events described in other people’s stories. All this has a massive benefit in terms of learning from other people’s mistakes.
In addition to the vomit response after imbibing I have noticed that people can tend to feel nauseous or vomit during intense exercise, before an anxiously anticipated event or after an intensely traumatic experience such as a fight.
I wonder if it is part of the body’s ‘fight or flight’ parasympathetic nervous response? This response aims to free up energy in the body by stopping immediately non-essential actions in the body and prioritizing body functions that are necessary for intense physical activity. Faced with the stressful situation the body releases feces and urine and slows or stops digestion. The heart rate rises, focus narrows and energy is released into the muscles ready for action. After the action the body begins to shake … believed by many to be a way of the muscles releasing toxins in order to recover.
Could it be that vomiting before a stressful situation means that there is less weight to carry and less food to digest? Could it be that vomiting after a stressful situation is another way of the body releasing physical toxins?
The problem comes when the feelings of disgust are felt with respect to things that are not actually dangerous to our body. And because the feeling of nausea is so unpleasant we may well have learned to avoid these things without even knowing that we are avoiding them. Often it takes a serious amount of awareness and honesty to realize what we are actually disgusted by. When we avoid facing these things we get to avoid feeling sick. But we also get to avoid a part of life; part of ourselves.
What do you turn away from? Sex? Intimacy? Blood? Violence? Death? Anything else?
It makes sense to me that the body should vomit when it becomes aware of some kind of foreign body inside that doesn’t belong. On the physical level this foreign body could be some bad food; on the subtle level it could be some kind of toxic energy.
What do I mean by ‘toxic energy’? If someone said ‘I’ve got this black, noxious, sticky tar-like substance at the pit of my stomach’ then (unless they’ve literally been eating tar) you would not see this if you cut them open. It is in their imagination and made out of subtle energy. They experience it as if it was real. If you asked them if that energy belonged to them I’m pretty sure that they would say no.
How did this energy get inside in the first place? I’m not exactly sure. But have you ever experienced someone making you feel disgusted? Could it be that they are pushing the disgust they feel into your subtle body? Have you ever been made to feel so ashamed that you wanted the ground to swallow you up? Could it be that when the ground does swallow you up then you swallow a subtle entity that was living in the ground?
When we get in the way of our body’s natural process of vomiting the toxic matter stays in the body and the unwanted feelings of revulsion persist in our lives. When we control our body, the parasitic entity is really controlling us.
The quickest and most complete way of changing a pattern of avoidance is to face the thing that is feared. To vomit even though it is unpleasant to do so.
Ayahuasca is a well known shamanic ally substance used in the Peruvian Amazon. It is known to have permanent positive effects on mind-body illnesses including depression, addiction and schizophrenia.
Meghan Shannon is an American living in Peru. Here are some extracts from her article ‘What is Ayahuasca…Really…?’
‘Most of us walk around every day, thinking we are the ones running our lives. But like the anger entity, there are tons and tons of energy patterns, crossed energies and spirits literally along for the ride, hidden inside like internal luggage …
‘The purge is what makes the Ayahuasca unique. That’s why it works so fast. Because it is physically pulling this stuff out of your body. You can do all the energy and spiritual work you want, but until these dark entities physically leave the body, you are still walking around struggling against them. You may have gotten a pretty good handle on them, but it’s so normal you don’t know how much energy would be freed up if they weren’t there …
‘The purges can be challenging, make no mistake. Often (but not always) the person feels the energy or emotion as it is leaving the body. Purging fear = extremely scary. Purging doubt = thinking all these shamans are out of their minds and this is some kind of cult. Purging ego = getting triggered by the guy with the bigger ego during the day of the ceremony. Purging overactive mind chatter = exhausting thought spirals. Physical purges (vomit, diarrhea, gas, hot/cold temperatures, yawning, sweating, vibrating/shaking, crying, abnormal breathing, fidgeting) are all catalysts that the dark energy attaches to (either the physical liquid, gas or breath) to get out. It is the much more efficient than energy work alone (though most people feel extreme energies as well). Not only do challenging purges move out darkness fast, they train the body and mind to be able to endure the physical world …’
This process is an advanced therapeutic technique that takes a lot of commitment from the client and a lot of confidence from the therapist in order to see it through. Awareness of disgust can arise spontaneously in the course of a session or could be a client’s presenting problem.
Notice what your client is avoiding. What do they NOT talk about, what do they NOT do, what do they do their best NOT to be. You’ll need to be eagle eyed as the client will be a master of staying away from this stuff.
A good thing to watch out for is micro expressions. Notice when, for a split second, your client’s face turns into a disgusted grimace when they are talking. For that moment they accessed the disgusting thing … but it was so quick they probably didn’t even notice. Stop them immediately and direct them back to what they were saying, where they were looking, any body language. Slow everything down and have them notice if they can sense what it was that you noticed.
If you think you have noticed what they are avoiding before they do go ahead and let them know. Anything less is beating about the bush and colluding with them that this (whatever it is) cannot be faced head on. Tell them what you are noticing and ask them if they are avoiding something. For example: ‘A moment ago I was asking you about sex and now you are talking about relationships again. Are you avoiding talking about sex?’ If they get defensive at this point then that is brilliant information that there is something here that needs defending. Remember – it is the parasitic energy that is defending itself, not the client so don’t get distracted by it.
At this stage you can give your client a brief overview of the benefits of the natural process of purging sadness by crying (which they will understand), anger by shouting (which they will understand) and disgust by puking (which they will now understand). Check out if there are any medical reasons for not going down this route. Then give them a bucket. That will show them that you are serious and probably start to get them a bit apprehensive. This is good. It shows that they are taking this seriously and that the toxic energy inside is getting nervous.
Re-cap on the negative effect that this avoidance has on their lives. They need to re-member (get back into the body) how important this is to them. Otherwise why would they actually face what they have been avoiding? A simple question like ‘And while you are avoiding (blah), what effect is that having on your life?’ Accept no bullshit. Make them spell it out. Make them feel the pain of their avoidance.
Coach your client to confront the avoided thing. Develop any spontaneously occurring metaphors. ‘Where is it?’, ‘What’s it like over there?’, ‘How many of them are there?’, ‘What are they doing?’, that kind of thing. As more of their awareness is directed towards what they have been avoiding they will almost certainly start feeling their internal response to it. In the case of disgust they will probably start to feel sensations in the stomach, chest or throat. Again, build awareness of these feelings with questions like ‘And now what are you noticing?’, ‘And whereabouts in your stomach is that?’, ‘And what’s that like?’, ‘And how much black sludge is there?’, and, of course, ‘What does it smell like?’ Remember: you are not making them feel sick, you are revealing what is already there.
Facilitate the purge by confronting and removing all barriers that are preventing the body from doing what it wants to do. If the client is afraid of loosing control and being sick then get them to feel that fear deeply. Coach them to choose to accept the fear and surrender to their body. As the sensations increase get the client to notice any ways that they are trying to control them or avoid them and to STOP. And really notice the feelings and allow them to do whatever they want to do. If they cough then reinforce it with a ‘Good, let it happen.’ Similarly if they wretch or puke. Let them know everything is fine and it will pass. The only way out is through.
After the purge has happened your client will probably come back to themselves (literally … squatter out, owner in) quite quickly. They may feel somewhat battered but will likely feel cleansed and well. They will probably look much more alive and glowing. This is the perfect time to get them to notice what is different now. Invite them to think about things that used to bother them. Invite them to imagine situations that would have caused them problems (‘future pacing’ in NLP speak).
I was musing today on the idea that the reason that some ‘dyslexics’ have trouble with distinguishing letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’ is that they are conceiving of them as three dimensional symbols … and that ‘b’ and ‘d’ are actually the same letter viewed from different sides. (From the side it would look something like an ‘I’ and from top or bottom they would look like a ‘-‘. I’m not sure if anyone ever confuses b and d with I and -.)
Then I got to thinking about how, when we write, we only write in a single direction – from left to right – and that the reader is forced to flick their attention from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. I’m very curious about discontinuities like this and hypothesise that a steady tracking of text – especially if it balances right to left as well as left to right – would result in some kind of smoother comprehension.
My experiment looks like this:
Here are some of the presuppositions (things we come into a situation assuming) often associated with NLP. They are not ‘true’ as such … more of a handrail when developing the attitude of curiosity and wanton experimentation.
A map is a practical resource which helps us to find our way around. For a map to be useful it needs to change the size and reduce the complexity to a level which helps the user. Maps for different purposes can look very different: a road map, ordinance survey map and tube map for example. We get used to the maps that we use and it is sometimes a surprise and frustration when reality seems to be different from what we expected: roadworks, unexpected boggy bits, or stations that look far apart but are only a few minutes walk above ground.
In life we go around making mental maps (or models) to help us make sense of our experiences. Beliefs about how people and systems work help us to choose what to do next. These generalisations may come from our own experiences or have been accepted from those around us. Just as a tourist map can point us to areas of interest our mental map draws our attention to certain information from our experience of the world – distorting it. Because we experience the world in that way it can seem like that is the way it is, the only way it can be – our reality.
When we realise that the map is not the territory it gives us the option of changing the map. And when the map changes, so does the reality of our experience.
If someone is behaving in a way which you perceive as ‘bad’ does that make them a bad person? According to you, perhaps. Would their mum agree? The values that drive their behaviour may well be different to yours. They may or may not be aware of what these values are … perhaps thinking they can’t help their reactions. Perhaps even judging themselves (or part of themselves) as ‘bad’ for doing what they do.
Is this kind of judging of behaviour useful? In some contexts such as in court it is essential in order to protect others from the consequences of future actions. In a therapy or coaching context it is more useful to assume that people are always doing their best … given the choices that they perceive are available to them. The mindset becomes exploratory rather than categoric, collaborative rather than judgemental.
Accept the person, help them gain more choices, change the behaviour.
Every behaviour? Always? Maybe, maybe not. But is this a useful belief to start out with?
Let’s consider the extreme case of someone who says that a part of them wants to commit suicide. What could be the positive intent of such a seemingly destructive thing? Well perhaps it shows that, at least in this area of life, the person can choose, that they have power over themselves and their life? Perhaps it is to stop them being a burden to others and help the people around them have more freedom in their life? Perhaps it is to end some suffering, gain relief and feel better? Perhaps it is to punish the person and give them what they deserve so they can feel that justice has been done?
Rather than arguing against the behaviour this approach helps build understanding and rapport. From here it is much easier to explore other ways of gaining the positive benefits without the negative consequences.
OK, so it is possible to fail your driving test. But does that mean you have failed? Or could you have just succeeded in finding some areas for further improvement?
There is a saying in NLP, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”. If you are attempting to get a certain outcome and it just isn’t happening then you can always work longer or harder. If, however, these don’t work either (or if they are just a bit boring!) then it might be time for a re-think. And if you don’t know what else there is to do then anything is probably as good as anything else – perhaps you can get some more information that way? This is the attitude of wanton experimentation … what’s the worst that could happen anyway?
Have you ever innocently said something to someone and had them blow up in anger or run off in tears? If we communicate a message to another person and they react in an unexpected way then we can always blame them for not understanding what we meant … but how useful is that map going forwards? Alternatively we can take their response as feedback and design our next question to gather more information about, say, their reaction.
People are always communicating, verbally and non-verbally. Research (that hardly anyone who trots this statistic out has actually read) suggests that only 7% of the meaning of our communication is through words. The rest of the communication process takes place through body language, tone of voice and the various signals words cannot convey. That’s means that 93% of what we communicate is not from our words! Excellent communication is about your whole self. B y working on your stuff and developing your ability to be authentic – even when under pressure – you are increasing your power of communication and influence.
This article was first published in humanHi magazine in January 2009.
An hour or so ago I was hard at work … in bed, with my eyes shut, awake but dreaming. Dreaming that my job for the day was over; that this article was already written; and that I was pleased with it. As I imagined reviewing the completed pages I noticed the warm glow of achievement in my belly and allowed a smile to move over my lips. An idea for some content landed with me. As if on their own, my eyes opened, and I had the urge to get up and start doing.
Is it possible for you to be with the partner of your dreams? If you live all alone and never meet anyone else then the answer to this question will certainly be a ‘no’. If you live around people but never interact with the people you fancy then the answer will also be a ‘no’. If you interact but in a way that seems to scare other people away; if you are always rejected, can’t have what you want or plane don’t deserve it; if you are ugly, stupid or bad; if you being with that person does not serve society / please god or happen with love; if any of these things are true then you probably and quite rightly can’t be with the partner of your dreams. And you will probably continue to prove yourself right … just as you have been so far in your life.
In order for something to happen easily and effortlessly we need to have a sense of it being right at all levels … a sense of alignment. Just as you line the 2 sights of a rifle up with the target before you shoot it is important to align our sense of purpose, who we are, what we believe, what we are capable of, what we are doing and where we are doing it in order to set a compelling goal. In the context of meeting the partner of your dreams it can be useful to consider this outcome from a number of different perspectives or ‘logical levels’. After we have considered what these levels are I will walk you through an exercise which is designed to align them and increase the chances of you achieving the outcome you desire.
|Environment||Where do you live, work and go out? What kind
of people do you meet there? Where do the kind
of people you would like to be with hang out?
|Behaviour||What are you doing to meet the partner of your
dreams? Anything you would like to be doing more
of less of?
|Capability||In the context of relationships what are you
really good at? What skills, abilities and capacities
do you have already and what areas could you develop
|Beliefs / Values||What do you believe about the world, the opposite
sex and relationships in general? Brainstorm endings
to statements such as: “The world is …”;
“men / women are …”; “relationships
are …”; “I always …”;
“I never …”; “It’s
wrong to …”, “It’s bad
to …”, “I must …”;
In the context of a relationship / partner what
|Identity||What kind of person are you? Who were you in
the past and who would you like to be in the future?
Complete the statement “I am” with
|Purpose||When you have the relationship of your dreams
what does that do for you or get for you that
you don’t already have? What would being
in that kind of relationship with you do for your
partner? What differences would that sense of
togetherness make? How would it affect your lives
and those of the people around you?
The following technique will help you to become more aligned.
1 – Find a space where you have room to take 5 paces forwards. If possible work with someone else who can ask you questions and hear your responses. Stand up and ready yourself to consider the ‘logical levels’ of your desire for a relationship.
2 – Starting where you are begin thinking about all the ‘Environmental’ considerations as described in the previous table. Where do you go and who else is there when you arrive? Spend about a minute doing this. If you have a friend there with you they could ask you questions that help you think about the space around you and you could tell them what comes to mind.
3 – Take another step forwards and consider your ‘Behaviour’ – the things that you actually do to initiate or maintain a relationship. Continue stepping and considering all the way up to ‘Purpose’.
4 – When you are at ‘Purpose’ ensure that you get a real felt sense of the benefits of being in the relationship you desire. Perhaps you will feel a shifting in your heart or a sense of lightness come over you.
5 – Keeping that felt sense with you now step backwards back into the ‘Identity’ space. Now that you have that sense of purpose what do you know about who you are in that relationship? Consider this for about 30 seconds – notice what has changed now.
6 – Keeping the sense of purpose and the learnings from each previous level step back through all the previous logical levels spending 30 seconds or so in each as you notice what has changed. All the way back to ‘Environment’.
7 – Notice how you are feeling about the possibility of having the relationship of your dreams now. Is it possible? If your answer to this question is ‘yes’ you are ready to begin meditating on this possibility.
Almost every writer on success that I have read stresses the importance of visualisation. The principle we are hooking into here is the law of attraction – that you get what you focus on, that like attracts like. The idea is to visualise the moment that you know that you have got the relationship that is perfect for you and to make this so realistic that you get the feeling of having what you want. You are meditating on having rather than wanting. (If you meditate on wanting then this is what you will get: wanting!) It is worth adding here that you should not include any specific people in the meditation – if you do this then you are assuming that you know what is best for them and you are trying to manipulate them. Simply imagine someone with all the characteristics that you value in a lover and leave the detail of exactly who this is to the universe. It could be the person you wanted it to be … or maybe someone even better!
So, the important question is ‘How will you know that you have the relationship that you want?’ Is it when you see the person across the room and your heart skips a beat? Probably not – too early … what if you kept on skipping beats like this but it never got further than that? What about when you are repeating your wedding vows to each other? Again, probably not – presumably you ‘knew’ that this was the person you wanted to be with way before this point. What we are after is that first moment of really knowing.
The one that I use is to imagine that I am going out with my partner to a night club. Under ‘normal’ circumstances I would have gone to this place alone with the hope of meeting someone there. In my visualisation I am entering the club with my partner and I am really happy that they are there to enjoy it with me. I feel a sense of trust, connectedness, excitement and freedom. We are an attractive couple and we find that other people come over and talk to us. We are going to have fun tonight!
Simply visualise your version of how you will know 5 minutes every day focussing on the pleasant feelings of having what you want. I’m beginning to use this technique more and more in all areas of life (including article writing!). It seems to work surprisingly well. Why don’t you have a go for a month and see what difference it makes for you?
This article was first published in humanHi magazine in November 2008.
To me being connected with someone means that you have feelings associated with them. Those feelings can either be positive such as love, compassion, trust and pride; or negative such as hate, resentment, blame, loss, fear and guilt. When we are connected to people in a positive way their presence in our lives is enriching and supportive; negative connections drain our energy and distract us from what we really want in life. They are bad for our health, wealth and happiness.
Take a moment now and cast your mind back through your past relationships. Are there any ex-partners who bring up negative feelings when you think about them now? Anyone who you have kind of split up from but are still in your life? Anyone who you no longer see and would like to forget but are reminded of often and for all the wrong reasons? How much of your energy and attention is taken up by these unhealthy connections? What other uses could you find for that energy?
In any relationship there is give and take. To illustrate this I like the metaphor of two people living in separate houses who start having a relationship with each other. To begin with all of their possessions are in their own house and they take it in turns to visit each other. As the relationship develops a certain amount of lending and borrowing begins to happen. He wants to borrow a CD from his partner and she is happy to lend it to him. She plans to do some DIY but needs a specific tool that he has and is happy to lend it to her. He has a small house full of junk and needs some extra space so she offers to store some boxes of junk in her loft. If this process continues then the partners possessions can become quite mixed up and they may even forget who owns what. (In the real world people move in with each other and own things jointly which can make splitting up even more difficult but for the sake of the metaphor lets assume that they keep their separate houses.)
On an emotional level there is also give and take. There are certain things that I want to do which I do not do because I believe that they will hurt my partner, for example, not sleeping someone else who you meet on a night out. There are other things that I don’t really want to do but I do anyway because I believe they will please my partner, for example, going with them to see their favourite band. I behave in the way that I do because I believe I know how my actions will emotionally affect my partner and I take responsibility for those effects. I hold an impression of them as a person in my imagination and use this internal model to guess at their reaction and choose my behaviour accordingly. Some of the information I use to build my internal model of them will have been based on their past reactions; others will be assumptions I am bringing into the relationship based on my experience of how other people have reacted in the past (transference) or how I would feel if someone did it to me (projection). Me having this model of them in my imagination is a bit like some of their stuff being in my house. Me guessing at their reactions based on how I would feel is a bit like me putting some of my stuff into their house.
Being in a relationship is sometimes likened to walking hand in hand down a shared path. We keep each other company and support each other along the way. But as we grow and experience life our priorities can shift and our paths can change direction. A good example of this is when one partner decides they want children and the other does not feel ready for this commitment. We find ourselves at a fork in the road and compromises begin to look like neither partner is getting what they want. Rather than trying to hang on sometimes it is better for both partners to let go and move on.
An ideal separation happens with love and compassion. Both partners are honest with each other, decide on the split together and stop taking each other into account when making decisions. In our house metaphor they give back the things that do not belong to them. In emotional terms they stop consulting the model of their ex-partner when deciding what to do and this image gradually fades and recedes into the distance.
Other separations are less ideal. Sudden cutting of ties such as walking out during an argument, leaving home without warning or even an unexpected death give no opportunity for both partners to be open and honest with each other, understand and forgive each other and move on. Emotions such as pride, fear of violence or emotional overwhelm may hold them apart. In the house metaphor he holds onto the CD to piss her off and she is sad and angry because she misses it; she doesn’t want to give the tool back because she is using it and he feels too guilty to demand that she gives back; he doesn’t have room for his boxes of junk and she doesn’t feel able to throw them away. The internal models of the other may be pushed away or blocked out but they are big and powerful, amplified by negative emotions, sapping energy, still exerting control.
If you have not properly disconnected from your previous partners then you are not in a good position to welcome another partner in.
Every time you see something that belongs to them or remember something they have of yours you are reminded of them. Every time you are reminded of them you feel those unresolved negative emotions. When you feel negative you focus on the negative; and then you get what you focus on: a new partner with the same characteristics as your exes.
If a new partner does come along your internal model of them has to live with the internal models of you exes. The models of your exes influence what you expect of your new partner and you transfer these expectations into the model of your new partner rather than building a clean model from scratch based on your experience. You behave according to your flawed model of them and they simply respond to your behaviour … probably in a way that fulfils your negative expectations.
In last months article I introduced a way of disconnecting and freeing your energy by talking to the models of people you hold in your imagination. This technique gets the same result but by using energy rather than words.
– Find yourself a comfortable place to sit. Take a few deep breaths to relax and allow your eyes to close.
– Get a sense of the ground beneath you and encourage your awareness down into it. Continue down through the layers of earth until you reach the centre. As you connect with the centre of the earth notice how this sense of groundedness affects the way you feel at the centre of your body – in the area of your navel.
– Remaining connected to this centre now sense up above your head and out into the vastness of the universe. Imagine a source of light and infinite wisdom – a sun or higher form of self – to be there above you, happy and ready to help you when asked.
– Allow the image of your ex-partner to come to you – this is your model of them. Notice what it is like between you … is there anything preventing them from being right there in front of you were you can see them easily? Allow the source of light to heal anything which is preventing you from facing them until you are able to sense them clearly.
– With the support of the light above you accept back anything that they were holding for you. If you are holding anything that belongs to them then give it back.
– Notice how you feel as you face them. Allow the source of light to shine on you and heal any negative feelings in you – filling you up with acceptance and compassion.
– When you are healed share this energy with the model of your ex-partner. Allowing the energy to flow where it is welcome and heal what wishes to be healed.
– When you are both healed notice the sense of understanding and forgiveness between you and allow the other person to drift away. When they have gone bring your attention back to your sense of connection with the earth and the light above you. Notice how this strong connection with yourself gives you the freedom and ability to make new and empowering connections with others.
After you have completed this exercise allow yourself some time for reflection. How do you feel about that person now? What has changed? Who are you now and what is important to you? Complete the process with all of your significant exes and then with the less significant ones all together.
Now you have cleared space in your imagination it is time to put that freedom into action. My challenge to you now is to go through your possessions and to make a pile of all of those things that belong to ex-partners. Dig out your address book and return them to their rightful owners with a polite note requesting that they do the same for you. While you are at it notice how many other objects such as photos and gifts there are on display. Do these bring back good memories or bad? Is it time to clear them away now and make room for some new memories to begin?
Published by humanHi magasine in 2008.
When I was about 8 years old I was the only one not to bow my head in assembly when we were told ‘let us pray’. I felt embarrassed at being the odd one out and yet I forced myself to go against the tide do what I thought was right. At the time I just couldn’t work out how the stories I had lapped up like everyone else at Sunday School related to the other things I was learning: Where were the dinosaurs in the garden of Eden? If God is all powerful and all loving then why is there suffering in the world? If we all ask God to help us come first in the race why do most of us still lose? I just couldn’t reconcile these things in my head and yet, all around me, were people who seemed quite happy to pray to and praise the Lord. They had God, Jesus and each other to keep them company; I was alone.
My feelings of loneliness were compounded by many others over the years. Shame was the one I was best at. Growing up there was a certain event that happened when I was 13 that I couldn’t even think about – let alone talk about with my friends or parents. But I coped. I used my intelligence to build a personality for myself. I was right about most things and it was important for me to prove that. I argued my corner passionately; others would loose patience and call me arrogant. Inside I was collapsing and the feelings of isolation were perpetuated.
My first experience of therapy came when I was 27 years old. Things were really getting on top of me at work and it was finally bad enough for me to ask for help. I went to see an NLP therapist and he explained that we were going to do ‘Time Line Therapy’ together. ‘Imagine that your whole life could be represented as a line of experiences, one after another’, he explained. ‘And that you can float up above that line all the way back to the first time that you ever experienced the emotion of shame.’ As he said the words it was as if I was being dragged back above my Time Line and down into the event at 13 that I had tried to block out for so long. It was intense and I started sobbing uncontrollably. ‘Float higher; float way up above’ came the instructions from my therapist and, with some difficulty, I did as I was told and the feelings became more distant. ‘And as you look down on the event you can learn whatever you need to learn that will allow you to let go of the shame easily and effortlessly’ he continued. I don’t remember exactly what I learned at this point but something seemed to be shifting deep inside. The next instruction was to float back further, to a point above and before the event had ever happened – and then to turn around and look back to now. As I did this and looked down on the memory of the event that had dominated my life the strangest thing happened: the shame that had been there disappeared. Completely gone. Even when I went back into the memory and looked through my own 13 year old eyes the feeling had evaporated and all that was left was a feeling of calmness and a new level of understanding. Somehow when I was up there I had done something that affected the 13 year old me down here. As I came back along my Time Line, back to now, things seemed to continue to clear and I was left with a profound sense of lightness and relief. I reacted in a different way to situations. I was a new person.
Much learning and therapy later it is me who is the therapist helping others to discover themselves. In the course of this study I have grappled with a number of spiritual philosophies which talk of the existence of a ‘Higher Self’. The Higher Self has been described as a ‘guardian spirit’ which is the source of insight and inspiration; a non-judgemental all-forgiving and absolute love that does not make mistakes and does not interfere with free will. This is an idea I have had a lot of trouble connecting with. Perhaps because it seemed like just a different name for the God that I had rejected as irrational so many years ago? Perhaps because my ego is still too arrogant to accept the existence of something higher?
But as I reflect on my experience of Time Line Therapy some new ideas are coming to me. The process was completed in my imagination and yet had a permanent real world effect. As I floated above the line and allowed learnings to come to me I was, in some sense, accessing a wisdom that I wasn’t able to when I was 13. It’s as if that 13 year old was able to accept the help of the me who was floating above the Time Line and was, in turn, able to access the wisdom that originally he could not. By accepting the help of this ‘Higher Self’ the 13 year old was able to resolve and let go of his feelings of shame in the moment and, in a parallel universe (!), the events of the rest of his life played out differently. Big ideas I know but this is how it helps me: I can now conceive of my Higher Self as an ‘older and wiser me’ who has come back in time to help my ‘younger self’ out. I can be grateful without being subservient. I can accept help without being indebted. By accepting his help, I, in turn help that higher me to resolve things in his reality. My Higher Self can be here with me always and I can turn to him and greet him with a humanHi!
In 2003 I had the bright idea of combining a hypnotic induction with an erotic story to put the listener in the role of the hero / heroine. I called this a ‘hypnofantasy’ and with the help of some friends I put together some demo CDs. I sent these out to publishers and to my delight one of them was interested … on the proviso that there was a book to go with the CD (some rule about VAT being put on CDs but not books). Writing a book was not in my plan but this sounded like a great opportunity. One meeting later a female friend and I had a book deal! (All we needed to do now was to write the book.)
Writing the book was a challenge for me in many ways. I had limiting beliefs about my ability to write as I had always considered myself to be poor at English (probably due to my terrible spelling and possible undiagnosed dyslexia). A second challenge was how difficult I found co-writing the book. I wanted everything to be very structured and planned and felt like I was getting more work done; my friend had a much more relaxed style of writing and many more commitments in her life. The upshot was that I ended up buying my friend out of her side of the contract and writing the book on my own.
It was a lot of work. But I did it. On reflection it was fairly solid (I was strongly motivated away from exposing myself to criticism) but didn’t really contain a lot of me (almost certainly for the same reason). More of an application of other people’s ideas than a communication of my own. Nevertheless it was a great experience to go through and one that opens my mind to the possibility of writing more books in future.
Sex in Mind was published by New Holland and is available from well stocked bookshops or online at Amazon (click the picture above). If you have trouble finding the book contact the publisher directly on: email@example.com.
Forum Magasine said:
‘I loved this book and will be recommending it to all my clients. It’s both intelligent and erotic.’ Denise Collins (Professional hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner)
The Independent on Sunday said:
‘The most explosive (s*xual scene) I have ever experienced without actually moving a muscle.’ Emma Gold
Gaydar Nation said:
‘At first glance, Sex in Mind: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Discovery looks like one of the many sex books that have been published in the wake of Sex and the City. You know the kind of thing: it comes with a bold cover design with nice, smart, modern graphics that looks as though it was written by a nice, smart, modern woman. These books are designed to appeal to a readership that wishes they were nice, smart and modern women too, especially where sex is concerned.
‘But then something caught my eye. The author is credited as R.E. Lacey on the cover, but inside on the back flyleaf all becomes clear. The R stands for Richard.
‘Now I don’t know if this is just me, but I think it’s a little bit sketchy to alter the truth of a name like Richard on the front of a book. On a novel or a textbook it would be no big deal, but on a “Woman’s Guide to Sexual Discovery” it feels a bit sneaky on the part of the publishers because the author is not a woman and probably has no idea how it feels to be a woman either.
‘And there’s more: Sex in Mind is the victim of a publicity department that hasn’t done it’s homework. They send out books willy-nilly to anyone they think will review their book and give it publicity, but my spider sense tells me that lesbians in general aren’t going to go a bundle on this one. Why? Perhaps it’s the opposing male and female symbols printed on every page, emphasising the book’s assumption that sex is a man/woman thing. And then there are the passages that talk about holding your guy’s dick in your vag (my language, not Richard’s). This will probably do it for you if you like that kind of thing but, strangely enough, a lot of lesbians do not.
‘But look, I’m an open-minded kind of gal and I’ll review anything that comes my way (I’ll probably regret saying that) so I’ve given Sex in Mind a go.
‘Basically it’s a vaguely new age-y book introducing the principles of tantric sex. These include chapters on relaxation, finding out what it is that you want from sex, connecting with partners, and learning communication skills. It’s written in a clear, no-nonsense way that’s accessible and lacking in the hippy excess often associated with eastern philosophies. Despite the awful male/female graphics, Sex in Mind is fairly gender neutral when referring to partnered sex, which makes it (mostly) relevant to lesbians. Even though he’s – eek! – a man, Lacey is a sympathetic guide, no thanks to the mess his publishers have made of his work, and his book is open, informative and never tacky. I ended up liking it a lot and I think it would be a useful addition to any sex library.
‘What’s more, Sex in Mind comes with a “HypnoFantasy” CD that includes a guided relaxation and a fantasy thingummybob session. The talk of chakras and flowers blossoming in “the space between your sex and your anus” might be a little off-putting for those more cynical than I, but it’s heart is in the right place. Who knows, at the right moment it could be exactly what you fancy.
‘Don’t worry, this book is not going to turn you into Sting but give it a chance, you never know, you might like it.’ Charlotte Cooper
Published in ANLP’s Conference Special 4 April 2004
For the first 3 sessions of the day Penny Tompkins and James Lawley presented a ‘clean language’ approach to outcome oriented therapy / coaching. I had seen them for their ‘clean space’ taster at the autumn conference and was keen to learn more about the ‘clean’ approach.
When thinking of outcomes many NLP practitioners may be inclined to guide a client through a list of questions to ascertain a goal’s ‘well formedness’. While doing this we may also be holding in our minds the question ‘How is it that this person is not achieving this already? ‘in order to identify limiting beliefs, conflicts, etc to ‘zap’ with an NLP technique.
There is no doubt that this approach can yield great insights and results but isn’t always the smoothest of processes: ‘What do you mean “is it initiated and maintained by me?”‘ Perhaps these types of ‘lists’ are best kept in a therapist’s unconscious mind while they put their full conscious attention on the issue as the client is experiencing it.
Penny and James advocate a different approach – one that is not client centred (therapist is flexible with their approach to work with the client’s ego or sense of self) or solution centred (client fits in around the therapist’s chosen approach / metaphor for change) – but rather information centred.
Asking questions of the issue as it is perceived by the client it is genuinely honouring their model of the world.
The ‘clean language’ element is about the therapist using the simplest questions possible to draw out the client’s model without guiding them with presuppositions (which all come from the therapist’s model of the world). By continuing to ask questions of the outcome which is desired it is assumed that the client will gain sufficient understanding such that the boundary of the ‘problem’ will collapse – often without the need for a specific intervention. Entirely consistent with the principles of focusing on what you want and everyone having the resources within them to achieve the outcome they desire.
The session started with some distinctions. In response to the question ‘And what would you like to have happen’ the client will reply with an answer which may be classified as either a ‘Problem’, a ‘Proposed solution’ or a ‘Desired outcome’.
A problem is something which exists now and which the client does not like – e.g. ‘I’m annoyed I have a deck with only 51 cards’. A solution references the problem and what they think needs to
happen in the future – it also includes all ‘away froms’ – e.g. ‘I want to find the missing card’ or ‘I don’t want an incomplete pack of cards’. The desired outcome is what they want in the future instead – e.g. ‘I want to play a game of cards’.
When a client comes to see you with an issue their natural tendency is often to talk about ‘their’ problem. In traditional ‘therapy’ and counselling they may be encouraged to come back week after week to do this. This approach allows them to do this – once – and then gently guides them towards thinking about the solution (this is something that many clients may not have given much thought to before).
When the client talks about the problem the therapist asks ‘And when [repeat clients description of the problem], what would you like to have happen?’ If the client talks about a desired solution the therapist asks ‘And when [repeat client’s description of desired solution], then what happens?’
After one or 2 questions the client has shifted away from the problem and is thinking about what they want instead.
Once the client is thinking about their outcome it is ‘developed’ by asking questions like: ‘And is there anything else about …?’, ‘And what kind of …?’, ‘And whereabouts is …?’, ‘And that’s … like what?’
The therapist’s job is to ask the question which naturally flows from the client’s previous answer – opening up more understanding for them and making the outcome more and more alive in their neurology. The whole process is, as you can imagine, pretty free form at this point- sometimes looping back into a problem or solution.
The therapist keeps it on course and may reach a point when they can ask a question like ‘And when [outcome], what happens to [problem]?’
If the positive, resourceful state of the outcome is alive in the neurology this seems to me to act like a collapse anchors and, hey presto, the person experiences a change in their perception of the problem – right there and then.
If this all sounds complicated then the demo really brought it to life.
Our volunteer came to the stage with the outcome of wanting to sell some property. After a few questions it became clear that this was about much more than a house sale with some relationship issues coming up as a problem which prevented the outcome from happening. The emotion which went with these issues were clear in the client’s physiology – she was running the problem right there in the room.
In addition to the content it was interesting to note that certain directions of life, blocks, issues, etc had positions and directions in relation to the client as indicated by unconscious looks and gestures. These were noted and referred to by the therapist – further honouring of the client’s model of the world.
The session was short and interrupted by explanations (which allowed time for the client to come out of state) but it became clear how powerful the technique was to allow the underlying issues to surface and, therefore, facilitate change at a deep level.
Having a go ourselves we soon found that the identification of problem / solution / outcome was actually quite intuitive and that the questions started to flow quite easily. Though tempting to fall back on standard meta-model type questions like ‘what prevents you?’ sticking to the clean language provided surprisingly good results.
As James explained: he is constantly surprised by the answer to the next question. The trick, of course, is having an idea about the most effective question to ask next- something that James and Penny do very well and one which I think all NLPers in general should make a priority to develop.
Do you manage a team of people? Are you sometimes frustrated at a lack of motivation or performance? Do you end up doing most of the important things yourself? Would you like to understand more and help the team to work at its full potential?
Leading a team of people can be difficult and stressful. Trying to make people do what you want can be met with resistance and many find it difficult to know how much control to let go of. Leaders can experience anxiety and team members can feel as if they are not understood or supported.
An effective team starts with an authentic and charismatic leader who knows the direction they want to go in. Developing this sense of direction and becoming comfortable and confident in yourself will help you to influence those around you. When you have learned coaching skills you will be more able to develop and utilise the natural strengths and motivations of your team. You can help your team to become inspired, happy, self-regulating and achieve significant performance improvements.
Do you have a stressful job? Do you find that your stress levels sometimes hinder your performance? Are you concerned that this stress could become a risk to your health?
Stress is caused when we inhibit the body’s ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ reaction to what it perceives as danger. The stress is caused by the action of opposite forces in ourselves. For example: we want to run away but we are afraid of making things worse; we want to punch our boss but we are afraid of disciplinary action; we want to curl up in the corner of the meeting but we are afraid of being ridiculed. The stress results in increased levels of physical and mental readiness while shutting down nonessential systems. Prolonged periods of excitation can lead to exhaustion and many physical issues including suppression of the immune system, ulcers and a lack of sex drive.
Once you have realised when and how you create your own stress or take it on from others you can take responsibility for making some changes. These may include changing your attitude to your work, the way you create and enforce boundaries with your co-workers, your emotional reactions to certain situations and learning simple and effective techniques to increase your levels of relaxation. Rather than managing the stress you may find that it simply disappears or transforms into something else like excitement. Some clients do end up changing their job but I recommend getting all the learnings from this one first so you are positively choosing something new rather than being forced out of the existing situation.
Do you feel trapped or unfulfilled at work? Know you have untapped potential? Realise that things will get worse if you don’t make some changes now?
Work to live or live to work? People perform at their best when they are doing a job which satisfies their values and plays to their individual strengths. Gaining more job satisfaction may involve making changes to yourself, your current role or a complete change in direction.
Laying out life directions and turning points in space can give a unique perspective on how your life is evolving. Examining your career values, natural role preferences and life themes can help you develop an understanding of yourself and identify what it is to be ‘on-purpose’. When you know where you are going you can take action to get there – transforming barriers along the way, achieving success and experiencing fulfilment.
Are you finding it difficult to make a decision? Torn between different courses of action or knotted up inside? Does your inability to make a congruent choice prevent you from moving on with your life?
Decisions can involve weighing up many factors and it can be difficult to know which are the most important to you. Seemingly conflicting priorities can make us feel like we are in 2 minds: flipping from one viewpoint to the other and arguing from their different and irreconcilable perspectives. We either keep on changing our decision or simply feel stuck.
Eliciting and prioritising your values can reduce a complex evaluation into manageable chunks. Conflicts can often be simplified and reduced to a desire on one hand, balanced by a fear on the other with this conflict having a pervasive effect on life. By exploring the conflict and re-acquainting the hands massive energetic shifts are often possible. The choice may no longer seem so urgent or new and innovative options may come to mind as new directions present themselves.
Oh, and why the title? Check out this video of a little girl making a difficult decision:
Do you clam up when it comes to talking in front of people? Do your nerves prevent you from thinking clearly and acting confidently when you need to? Would you be more successful if you were able to be more relaxed and confident?
Stage fright and examination nerves are examples of stress reactions. Stress can help us to perform at our best but too much of it prevents us from thinking or communicating clearly. These reactions can be a phobic type response to very specific triggers or be an example of a more general fear of being ‘seen’ or judged. For some they may even be protecting from the unwanted consequences of being successful.
Working effectively with these issues requires more than just covering them up by acting confident – this could come across as a flimsy arrogance and may break down after a while. True mastery will allow you to accept yourself and open up to others. What used to feel stressful can then be an exciting opportunity to help others understand your point of view, to invite them to change their minds, to be inspired by your passion, and to be motivated to take action.
Blurb for search engine optimisation: if public speaking is an issue then the techniques of nlp in east london can take the edge off it. To really get to the roots of examination nerves a combination of psychotherapy in east london and hypnotherapy in east london may be able to provide the answers you have been looking for. Before long you may even be enjoying communicating your ideas.
Problems in the family or primary relationship? Are you hurt by or hurting the people you love most? Are the relationships worth saving?
When we are close to people we tend to hold back less and say things in the heat of the moment. We often assume that we know what people are thinking and interpret their behaviour in one way when their actual intention may be completely different. Eventually the very sight or thought of someone can trigger negative emotions from the past – creating new problems now.
The change process will help you to be honest with each other about the way things are now and develop a shared sense of what you would like your relationship to be like in the future. You may have some individual ‘stuff’ to work on before you can regain your sense of connection, appreciate the best in each other and choose how you would like to continue.
I believe it is best but not essential for all parties involved to decide to work through things together. I never see people who have been ‘sent’ to me.
Blurb for search engine optimisation: if you are looking for a relationship counsellor then a psychotherapist in east london may be a good solution. Hypnotherapy in east london is just one of the approaches that a highly trained master practitioner of nlp in east london can bring into the room.
Do you feel unable to find that special someone? Do you consistently seem to attract the ‘wrong’ type of person? Do you find yourself putting on an act when you talk to a potential partner?
It is easy to blame external factors for a lack of suitable partner; the first step is to take responsibility for the situation. Unresolved issues and the beliefs we hold lead us to unconsciously seek out relationships which support or fuel them. In particular we are likely to continually attract relationships that play out aspects of our parents’ relationship. If we do not genuinely love and respect ourselves we send out the message that we are not deserving of these feelings back. When we try to cover up our insecurities we can come across as arrogant or superficial.
Gaining a real understanding of what is important to you will help you to let go of any fears and limiting beliefs and focus on what you really want in a relationship. Realising what is attractive about yourself will help others to see this in you. You can begin to enjoy going out there, meeting new people, being natural, friendly and flirtatious.
Search engine blurb: for help with relationships you could contact a psychotherapist in east london, an nlp practitioner in east london, or a hypnotherapist in east london. NLP is just a label for a set of tools and techniques, many of which use hypnosis approaches to supporting your change. Psychotherpy is the name given to the provision of this support by a qualified psychotherapist.
Are you suffering from an injury or dis-ease of some sort? Have you found that ‘conventional’ medicine has not achieved the results you desire (or has unwelcome side effects)? Are you keen to learn to utilise your mind to accelerate the healing process?
The existence of psychosomatic illnesses and the placebo effect are well documented. Controversial cutting-edge research is making explicit links between unexpected traumatic emotional events and the existence of cancer in the body. Quantum level theories are beginning to describe the link between thought and matter. We are being challenged to think about wellness in a new and holistic way.
Releasing negative emotions and any limiting beliefs about your dis-ease will enable you to relax more fully and allow the natural healing process to take it’s course. This healing may be accelerated by helping your mind to concentrate your energy on making you well again.
I recommend that you consult your GP first if you feel unwell. If you are currently under treatment I may require a letter of consent from your GP before we start working together.
Do you look in the mirror and hate what you see? Do you eat foods that you know are not right for you and then feel guilty afterwards? Does the thought of the gym fill you with dread? Fed up with yo-yo dieting?
Everyone knows that having the body you desire is all about eating well and taking appropriate exercise. Sometimes certain foods can seem so tempting that they are difficult to resist. Previous bad experiences of exercise can form negative associations which make it difficult to enjoy it. The goals we set ourselves can be focussed on what we don’t want – causing us to loose motivation as we achieve success. The deeper problem may be that we do not feel comfortable with or worthy of the attention that will come when we look more attractive.
The first step toward changing your body is changing your mind: identifying patterns, learning from the past and transforming any barriers to success. By gaining a deep understanding what is really important to you you will be able to focus your energy more fully on what you want to achieve. You will set realistic and motivating goals and enjoy the process of feeling and looking fitter.
The following video is a deadly serious academic lecture on weight loss that I gave while I was trying to work out how to record and edit video: