Monday, October 5, 2015

Not Just for a Sunday

Photo by Aaron McLoughlin

“Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.” Winston Churchill

Seriously, if where lucky, we will make time for a nap on Sunday, however more so than ever before we fill our weekends with 'stuff to do'.

The Nap is a lost art adopted by most of the notable minds of the past. 

Thomas Edison was once quoted as saying that he could sleep “as sound as a bug in a barrel of morphine”, which was a nap sometimes as long as three hours.

A New York company released a 'Pod' a number of years back that revolutionised napping at work, The MetroNap is an elegant and sophisticated way of getting a good 'bit-of-kip' at work.

Why would we do this you may ask? 
A nap helps to lower blood pressure which makes sense really. High blood pressure can be the result of stress and fatigue and so taking a nap will help to reduce stress.

A nap helps to integrate new information and to balance activity between the two hemispheres of the brain. Mark Waldman has been  working in the neuroscience of napping, rest and meditation for wellness and creative success.

My own experience with training and receiving feedback about napping and mindfulness at work demonstrates that by taking a 10 - 20 minute nap a day actually increases the amount you can get done, while reducing the degree of stress you take home at night.
And how does a nap positively influence sleep? Well when we nap or meditate during the day, we effectively reduce the amount of stress we are taking into bed with us. Stress can often be the fuel to an over-active mind when a restful sleep is what we really want.
Something as simple as a nap can actually have very positive and powerful influence in not only your day... your night too.

Aaron McLoughlin

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sleep Makes You Look Younger

Here is an article from the daily mail in UK  and it talks about how sleep makes you look younger.

Apparently the old adage that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth three after is correct and it because the SWS or Slow-Wave Sleep occurs in the first few hours of sleep. Some research suggest that this will happen no matter what time you get to bed, however most people get to bed before midnight which backs up the adage. 

The interesting thing about before midnight as part of a healthy sleep protocol is that it fits with an ancient and not so ancient strategy used today in Ayurveda. There are three cycles to the day and the 10pm-2am cycle (repeated every 12 hours) is the Pitta time and is when the metabolism begins to heat up in order to fulfil the deep sleep cleansing program. The body literally 'burns' away the toxins and debri from the day and also rebuilds. This is also the time when deep consolidation of memory is done.

So, getting to be around 10 pm will put you good stead for having a very deep sleep for longer and at the same time helping you body to do its daily maintenance more satisfactorily.

Sleep is essential for health and wellbeing and of course if our general health and wellbeing are taken care of we feel better and may indeed even look a little younger.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What About Curiosity

To me this has to be one of the most important factors for any change process.
In this video there is a little process that I use that many people have found not only fascinating, they have found it to be very effective.

Video transcription.

Listen, you know something that keeps coming up, and that  is curiosity and I love the whole curiosity discussion because there are very few people in the creative fields, in the artistic fields, in the scientific fields, Einstein, Leonardo da-Vinci, even James Dewey - the Dewey Decimal system. It's just fascinating what they said about curiosity and for me, curiosity is the leading edge really on all creativity and intelligence and it's the leading edge on making change. 

Think about this for a moment. as an older and wiser person as you are, even before yesterday or a week ago or a year ago or two weeks ago, think how differently you might do something that didn't work so well a year or two or ten years ago and think how differently you might do that now. So think about knowing what you know today and think about having an attitude of curiosity and imagine going back in time. So if you went back in time to a place where something didn't go quite well, you can't change history as such and yet we can change how we feel about that history or we can even change how we remember that history or we can educate ourselves to do something different because we change something in that history. Try this out.

If you went back to a time and you went back to just before, and not a big event. A small event, a not too significant thing and you went back to moments before that thing even happened. You'd be going back with fore warning. You'd be going back with knowledge. Now if you went back and said "wow I'm back before this even happened. It's kind of like going back in a time machine. It's like wow I'm back before it even happened. It's like wicked!" So you'd naturally have a kind of curiosity. You'd be fascinated because this is the time where that thing happened. Wait a minute! What would be different if I just walked into there with knowing what I know? [unclear 2:10] but it's still that Back to the Future thing. What would I do that's different? It's not necessarily that what you'd do or what would happen would be necessarily better or it would fix something because you know things aren't generally broken. We're not broken things, us human beings. We just do stuff, but what if I went back to just before that thing happened and just changed my attitude?

I have fore warning, I know now what's coming up and I'm not going to try to fix anything. I'm not going to make it different. What I am going to do though is I'm just going to step into that past experience or event with an attitude of curiosity and then notice what happens. What I've noticed with most people when we do this is that something different happens. Something completely different happens or something is subtly different or something "wow I didn't know that was there" happens. If that's there I can do this or maybe, wow I didn't think of that. So when we have an attitude of curiosity and we take it back in time, we're almost retrospectively educating ourselves to go into a new experience with an attitude of curiosity. What we have learned from folks like Einstein, da-Vinci, artists and musicians is that when you step into, comedians even, you step into the world with an attitude of curiosity and go "this is weird", then different things happen than the norm or useful things happen or new ideas occur. It's something to consider and it's really, really fascinating. 

Once again, the concept is what if I just stepped into that past experience with an attitude of curiosity and then just notice what happens? Now here's the beauty of it. The past is always there to learn something from so I can step into it with the attitude of curiosity and go "that was interesting" and then step back and then do it again and then do it again and again and again, but you can keep doing it until something shifts and that's the case. Something shifts, something shifts inside us and then it's done. What that can mean, it doesn't always mean it, but what it can mean is that as we go into the future, we start identifying things differently because we're no longer replicating that past kind of situation in order to try and learn from it. Our future experience can be more unique and more new and we start attracting uniqueness because we've kind of learned something or re-evaluated something from those past experiences just by having an attitude of curiosity.

Curiosity is like the prime mover. It makes things really different so give it a go. Step back into just before a past experience and then two simple things. Not something that's really, just test it out and see what you notice. Just step into that event from before it even happened and step into it with curiosity, remembering what we're really also bringing with us is an older knowledge and awareness, an older wisdom. There's a lot in there. 

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What to do about that Bad Sleep

In this video I discuss Judgement and the bad sleep we think we just had.
In a nutshell, what we think about the night before will change what happened the night before...

There is a transcript below - there are a few deletions and additions and yet the main points are there.

Transcript of Video

The research I refer 'loosely' to in the video can be found at Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning.

This video is about judgment. Really quickly when we wake up in the morning and we judge what we think and how we feel about what happened the night before, i.e. during the night, that influences how our body responds for the rest of the day. I won't get into the research into this, but there is some very recent research which backs this up. Actually, they did it at a university in the states. 

There were two teams of 15 - 20 people each. Both teams doing the same exercise. One team were told constantly that the exercise they were doing just wasn't doing them any good and they were actually getting worse health wise while the other team was being told the opposite. Now they were both doing the same exercises. They were living the same. They were about the same age group, blah, blah, blah. They were being told all this stuff about how bad they were doing, they started to actually respond that way physiologically. Similarly, the people on the other side who were being told how well they were doing started to respond positively with reference to what they were told. The research kind of went on and on and what they realized was - and this has been brought out in many other research studies - is that when we think something about something that's happened, that perception influences how our physiology literally remembers what has happened and then does what it does next because of that. 

So if I remembered last night and I woke up four or five times for example and had a little bit of trouble getting to sleep each time, if I wake up and I look back and go "oh man I woke up four times and my daughter cried", blah, blah, blah and that means I'm going to have a really crap day or I'm going to be tired or whatever, then that is going to play out. Our perceptions and our thoughts influence our feeling. Our feelings strongly affect our physiological movement forward, the amount of energy we have and so on and so forth. They've done research on this in psychosomatics, where we are told something or we think something is going to work and that is called the placebo affect. The opposite of that we now call the nocebo affect. So the placebo is "if I get this pill, it's got something really good in it and it's going to help me get over this thing that I'm experiencing and the upshot of it is that is often, but not always, often the case. There's some research around some people are more susceptible to placebo. If we use the opposite, then if I believe this is going to harm me, this thing that I'm taking, then the nocebo affect takes place and this has been proven to be quite true as well. Not across the board. Some people are more influenced than others.

Fundamentally the generalisation is that what we think about what we're doing or what we've done actually influences our physiology and what happens next. It's kind of like you wake up the morning after having had a great time out. So we go out and we party and we go to an amazing gig and we see people we haven't seen in ages and we laugh and we dance, blah, blah, blah. We get home about 3 o'clock in the morning, but we have to wake up at 6:30 or 7 o'clock and we've got to go and do like a normal day's work. Now many of us would look back on that and go "well that was such a good time and I feel so energised. It was so good to meet people and blah, blah, blah and I have 2-4 hours sleep and in my head I'm just so fizzing because I've had such a good time". Then you've got other people that go "oh man, I got home so late. What am I going to do? I've got to get through the whole day" and so subsequently the two different people who had the same experience with different perceptions of that experience, their physiology will respond in accordance. 

So what am I getting at? Why is this important with sleep? Well it's obvious. What I think about the sleep that I think I just had is going to strongly influence the feelings that I have about the sleep I think I've just had. If I have a bunch of beliefs, which we can get into a lot more depth later, if I have beliefs about what that means, then I will make it mean that and then when I get on with my day, whatever I believe about what last night meant, that will start to physiologically respond in my body. So, what do we do? Well here's the thing. When we're waking up in the morning regardless of what happened, it's gone. Regardless of what happened during the night or last night, I woke up 3 or 4 times or two times, regardless of what happened, it's gone and the reality is I can still choose how I wish to think about it. I can look back and go "well that's how it was. How do I want to have my day? How much energy do I want to have? What are the things that are really necessary for me to achieve today?" and then I can picture myself having achieved them, which would help me to release any possible anxiety about it.

The essence of this is that the judgments we have about what has happened really influence how we go forward and the kind of energy we generate, the beliefs we have about going forward because of what's behind us. It's probably the same about many things in life. A discussion we had with someone can really influence how we then spend our time with that person. However, we can have 100 different ways of generalising that discussion. Like it's been ten minutes on Facebook and read a whole bunch of stuff and it's all kind of like inane and pointless and I could say "well like is inane and pointless", but I could get on next time and I get all these blog posts and things about you know really interesting political stuff or environmental stuff and I go "wow, I didn't know that and this means this and this". So once again, it will either energise me or de-energise me and that's where we've got to be quite careful about what we read and what we think about, the things that we hear or read or think. So it's not so much that we don't judge. It's maybe that we acknowledge and then ask ourselves "how does this work for me and if it does work for me, how can I go forward happily, sleep well, enjoy my life with that information" or "this doesn't work for me so I'm just going to leave it and do something else".

So in summary, what we think and feel about the thing that's just happened and in this case about the sleep we think we just had, actually influences our energy and our physiology going forward. The way around that is to just acknowledge it. There it is. It is what it was and I don't really understand. Here's the other thing and this is what is often quite interesting. We wake up in the middle of the night, we are often, not always, but often we're not fully awake. We're not fully cognisant. We're a little bit dozy. You know, we might even be in a semi-hypnotic state or as they call it, semi-trance state. So our perceptions of what's going on unless it's a real emergency, are often a little bit a-skewed. When we get back into bed, because we're lying down and we're resting, our perception unless we're constantly looking at the clock, our perception of time and our perception of what's really going on are also a bit a-skewed. When we wake up in the morning and we look back with a fully conscious state, we're actually looking back at a not fully conscious state from a conscious state. That means we're not even really sure if what we remember is true. 

So it's really important to just maybe consider, there's not a rule as such, but to consider other judgments I'm having about the night before. Are they benefiting me? Are they fuelling me positively to move forward? Are they giving me energy? Do they make any sense? Am I hallucinating them? Then decide "well what do I want to do today? What kind of state of mind is useful to me" How much energy do I have or do I feel like I have in order to do those things?" 

Try it out. It's good fun and it can really change. Once you've done that for a little while, it then changes your perceived judgments or thoughts about going to bed. So it changes how we may perceive the night that was or start to influence how we perceive the nights coming up and the days ahead.  


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Emotions and Sleep

Emotions and Sleep

This video (and transcript below) are about emotions and how they effect our sleep and of course some tips for working with emotions for a better sleep.

Transcript (please excuse occasional spelling and grammar issues)

Emotions are a really big thing. I talk about them quite a lot in my book "Better Sleep Sooner", which you can download or buy from the site. Emotions are what drives us and one of the gentlemen who was involved in creating Neuro Linguistic Programming, that's Richard Banner, he often says when he's talking about sales to workshops and to clients that we're selling an emotion when we're selling something and it's like that for ourselves. We are constantly selling an idea to ourselves and the emotional feedback we give or get from that is what sells it and that's what can often work for us and it can also work kind of against us. 

Sleep is often one of those things that kind of suffers. The thing with sleep is when it's not going well, it's kind of like a ? and it's not actually the sleep that is the problem. It's a whole bunch of other stuff that are affecting the balance within the mind/body system, which then affects the sleep. Emotions and emotional upset, even hyper emotional states will stop us from sleeping. Getting very excited about something, like Christmas Eve when I was a kid kind of way, but then there's the other things. It's like an exam the next day. Have I studied enough? Anxiety and I'm not sleeping. It could be when I was really sick many years ago when I was in my early 20s. I had many evenings where I just could not sleep. Many, many of them. That was more to do with what was going on physiologically and how I felt about that. 

Emotions are a huge part of our lives. They're such a major part of our lives and what I've noticed with working with physiological illnesses with clients over the years is that the way we feel or the emotion we have about the thing that is going on can often relate or even be the emotion that is creating the problem that is going on. An example could be asthma for me. When I used to have asthma, I used to have that and I don't have it anymore, when I used to have that, I used to get really angry and frustrated. Now the one thing I learned once I released it from my life was that it was anger and frustration that had tightened everything up to such a degree that it had generated the asthma, or those things, the symptomologies that were labeled asthma. I don't actually believe really that I ever had asthma. Asthma is a label given to a set of symptomologies and it's kind of a lazy way of dealing with symptoms. Give them a label! He's got asthma! It's not necessarily true. I didn't have asthma or I didn't have any of those things. What I was doing was I was expressing a discomfort in an imbalance, which was generalized to this thing called asthma.

That's a really important thing to consider when we talk about emotions because what we actually are saying often is "I'm angry" or "I'm angry at you". When actually what we're doing is anger. So I'm not angry. I am doing or feeling angry. Some of you may say "that's semantics" and "that's just like you're getting old", but the truth is when I say "I'm angry", then I've got to change myself or who I am in order to stop being angry, but actually anger is something that I'm doing. I'm doing it strategically actually at a deep unconscious level. I'm responding to a stimulus and that stimulus means I run a strategy, which is like I'm angry. I do anger and express that outward in whatever way. 

Now that emotion is actually, sometimes I can't control it I guess. Most of us have these emotions that we just suddenly are just feeling this way. It's how we're designed. When we pull it back a little bit and rewind a little bit, we realize that there's a trigger and there's a moment of response and there's some choices maybe and there's some strategies that we run, there's some imaginings that we have and then that means we do anger. 

Why am I saying this? That's a good question. Emotions are really, really important to be aware of. Specifically the ones that are out of control and the ones that are generating stress because those are the kinds of emotions that sit in the system and it can really influence our ability to sleep or not and usually not. 

So, I'm not going to get into a whole bunch of strategies or talks about how to do that because there are many, about as many as there are people watching this video. I hope there's more than just two or three of you! So these emotions however, are really important to understand on the level that if I'm feeling really frustrated about the lack of sleep that I'm having or that I'm experiencing, then what might be an answer to that is the frustration. The frustration being the thing that I'm feeling about the lack of sleep can be the same emotion that is generating the lack of sleep.

Now I know when I was feeling sick and at times in my life where I haven't slept very well. Often I wake up in the morning and I think "how do I feel about that? I'm really frustrated about that" so for me, I think asking myself "what's frustrating me at the moment outside of sleep in my life". It might be work. It might be relationships. It might be whatever and so if I'm able to get clarity on that and make some adjustments around the general frustration, then that releases that energy so that I can actually begin to sleep, which means I wake up in the morning and I'm not getting that symptomological response of frustration. I hope that makes sense.

Emotions are just so fascinating and they're so important to be able to work with and there are many ways of doing that. There's NRP. One thing about NRP is that to work with emotions and I'm going to do a couple of videos on this because there's quite a lot involved, is just working with sub-modalities and very quickly. A sub-modality is kind of the way that we perceive the kind of experience that leads to anger or a memory where we got angry or the context in which we got angry and how we remember that in our mind. 

Now I'll give you an example. I went to a movie recently and the movie was a three dimensional movie and I think it was Guardians of the Galaxy. How they get so much into a movie and the technology to make those sorts of things must be ferocious because it meant silly glasses on and looking at this right there and there were things popping out at me, I looked at that thing respectively and I thought "no wonder that gets under the skin". It's so huge and because everything is coming at you, it's so real and because it's bright and it's so loud and there's galaxies and space ships and having to even work this stuff out to choreography is beyond me. So the modalities of that were all extremely huge and close and loud so some modalities, if I was to speak about sound, sound is a modality or hearing is a modality. So volume would be a sub-modality. Tempo would be another sub-modality. Pitch would be a sub-modality. Tonality is a sub-modality. Distance would be a sub-modality because if something is aware that they're making a sound, it's quite different to being right here making a sound. So with visuals or the visual, brightness, closeness, size, speed, three dimensional and those sorts of things. They're all sub-modalities. 

So why is that important. Well when we do emotions sometimes the way around it or the way to understand it is to say "what am I thinking that kind of inspires me to feel this way". For example, if I'm working with someone who is having nightmares, the nightmare is normally quite big and ugly and bright or really dark or heavy, but it's right there. So the sub-modality of that would be to change the distance, so if I pushed that away to about five meters away, right over there, what happens to the emotion when you have all this distance between you and the thing and generally, not always, but mostly the person would say this actually doesn't feel as emotionally intense. So if we made it smaller as it moved away, we made it smaller and maybe a little fuzzy, what happens then? Generally, not always, but generally the person will say it just looses it emotional intensity. 

A positive example of that is when we remember a wonderful event. I remember going to Movie World or something in Movie World. It was the stupidest ride I've ever been on in my life. It was a video. It was the Simpsons. It was a Simpsons thing and you lifted up through a hatch and you're in the middle of this three dimensional video. It's not even real, but I just about threw up because I'm just surrounded by the stuff and the things rocking and people screaming. There were only six of us in the whole thing and it's just going like this and it's crazy and it's all three dimensional and suddenly I'm flying through space. The sub-modalities of that was it's right there so if I wanted to relax afterwards, spread it out and give myself more space. Give myself more time and let things soften. That's just an example.

So when we're noticing we're feeling emotional and we know that the emotion is influencing our sleep, then it's a really good idea to check out some possible ways of working with those emotions to soften them. NRP is a really good way. EFT, emotional freedom technique is a really good way. It works for many people. Not all, but there's been a great success with EFT and NLP for US veterans, war veterans and things and that's a pretty extraordinary situation to be in. 

So once again, emotions. In summary, the emotions we feel about the thing that is going on can often give us insight as to the emotion that's generated the thing going on. Example, if I'm feeling frustrated about lack of sleep, it could be the frustration in my life that is generating the lack of sleep. Now I say 'could be' because I'm basing this primarily on a lot of my own experience with hundreds of clients and I've found that when we discuss the emotions and what's going on in their life, there is a very, very strong correlation between the emotion they're feeling about what's going on and the emotions that are generating what's going on. Not always and yet most of the time and I think that's really fascinating and it gives us a head start, if you like, a foot in to making the changes that we would like to make so that we can just have more choices about how we feel about our life and of course so that we can maybe sleep a lot better this night.

So if you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to email me and I'll get right back to you.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Anxiety and How it Effects Sleep

Many people who come to see me for sleeping issues are also experiencing some degree of anxiety.

In this 11 minute video I discuss anxiety, what it is, how it can negatively affect your sleep, and a few techniques and ideas that may help.

Having experienced heart pounding anxiety in my own past, especially about sleeplessness, I can honestly say that it can be a frightening experience and when we are in the middle of it, it can feel like there is no way out. 

Anxiety is a structure of thinking that can become habitual over time, however regardless of how long we have had anxiety, it is still a strategy running within the mind, which means that it can be altered and even released. 

There is a transcription of the video below (excuse some typos please).

If you have any questions about the video or anxiety please contact me.

Just a quick talk about anxiety. Anxiety with regard to sleep and getting enough sleep and falling asleep is actually quite a major and it's kind of natural. If something isn't happening over time and continues to not happen over time, i.e. not getting to sleep and the next day feeling kind of a bit stretched because of that, then that can lead to a natural, what I like to call a ‘natural degree of caution’. It's kind of like a cautionary thing that occurs in the body, which then can lead and expand into anxieties and real concern. The thing about anxiety is something that we do and we do it really well and because we're kind of designed to look after ourselves, we're kind of designed to take care of ourselves and if something's getting in the way, then anxiety is actually kind of a strategy that's driven by a very high intention, i.e. self preservation. The strategy, however, of anxiety can be quite uncomfortable and it can be quite concerning, especially if you've never had it before. 

So, how does anxiety work? Well anxiety in a nut shell and putting it very, very simply is a strategy, and is being triggered by a certain stimulus where we imagine ourselves in the future, and to imagine ourselves in the future having a bad experience or having a really uncomfortable experience. So it's really an imagining, which can happen so quickly for most of us, which then just basically leaves us feeling very tied up or scared and uncomfortable and often in the gut area. Some people hyperventilate, many different kinds of symptoms. The kind of anxiety that I've worked with clients around sleep specifically is really the anxiety about not getting to sleep. So more often than not, it's an anxiety that we run, i.e. do during the day. So we're thinking about going to sleep at night, but we say "last night I just didn't get to sleep and what it's going to be like tonight in bed? I'm going to be uncomfortable and my thoughts will be racing. I can't shut my head off”, and all these different things and so we kind of project ourselves into the future and we project ourselves in a way that we imagine having these experiences that don't feel good. The paradox of that is even though it's driven by a desire to self preserve, which is "I want to keep away from that kind of experience", what it doesn't do is necessarily help us to overcome that experience because well it's obvious. We feel anxious about that future possibility. 

A really good strategy around this is to consider how is this occurring? Well how it generally occurs and not always the same for everybody, but generally we imagine the future scenario and we imagine it as if we're there generally. So generally we imagine that we're there experiencing it so it could be I mentioned I'm laying in bed and I'm just like my head is just racing and I'm rolling and turning over and blah, blah, blah and I just can't get to sleep. With respect to sleep, the word sleep, look at that video that I put in about the problem sleep. It'll help with that. So what I'm doing right now is I could do it right now. I could be  feeling tired, which would trigger me think about going to bed and then in that moment, I'm going "I'm feeling real uncomfortable because I'm imagining being in bed and it's just not happening". Okay so what is it that we really want and this is always a really good question to ask ourselves. What is it that I really want? Most people would say "I want to go to sleep". Yes you do, but as an outcome that's not a good one because you won't know when you are asleep and that itself can create anxiety because "I won't know when I'm there. I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to get to sleep. All I know is I just lay there and suddenly I'm awake again". My wife is like that. She just rolls over, thinks of two or things that she's grateful for and the next thing she's waking up the next morning, which is fabulous. That's a good tool actually.

So, what can we do? Well, let's use the mechanism. The mechanism is the structure of how anxiety works and anxiety is when you imagine being in the future and feeling really uncomfortable about not being asleep and all the repercussions after that. So, that's a strategy of using the imagination to go into the future. So what if we think "what is the outcome that I really want". Well, having studied this quite a lot and talking to a lot of people, the outcome actually is and a well formed outcome is to feel good the next day. So, if I have that as an outcome, then what if I was to imagine that I can see myself in the future feeling good. Looking out into the future beyond the event and this is the key because anxiety is about an event. It's about an event. [unclear 5:40] and it's massive so you push that away and that can help. I mean literally get your hands and go 'ugh' and push it away. That can be helpful. Get your body involved. Push that a long way away like you've got really long arms, like [unclear 5:58] or woman. So you push that imagining away and then replace it with a whole new one, which is "actually I can see myself tomorrow morning 20 minutes after waking up and I'm just feeling good. I'm not feeling excited and Anthony Robbins and all that stuff or all black or whatever. I'm just feeling good. I'm feeling ready for the day and I've got energy. I'm having a good breakfast" and that sort of thing. Make that picture compelling. What does that mean? Put a bit of energy into it. put it in color. A smile, a smile goes a long way so put a smile into it and you know "here I am, ready for the day. I've got my suit on or I've got my frock on" I don't know what it might be. You might want to be a swimmer and you've got your trunks on, whatever it might be or a gardener and you've got your chainsaw or whatever. There I am and I'm ready to go. For me, it would be "I've got my Vespa and a bottle of aspirin" and I'm whizzing off to the office. So whatever works really and now that's the outcome and the outcome is where I'm feeling excited or I'm feeling a heavy energy. Now that is an outcome that is beyond or on the other side of the initial anxiety event.

Now what does that do? Well it seems to us subconsciously that this thing that we've been feeling anxious about won't last. It says that that thing will come to pass and wait a minute. On the other side, I've got energy. Now which is more compelling? Which is the thing that actually is going to be more fulfilling or meaningful? Well I don't know about you, but for me getting on the Vespa or having my suit on or whatever, those sorts of things are more enjoyable and more compelling so the mind starts to gravitate more towards that and we start to, because we're insatiably curious deep down inside, part of us start to say "I wonder how, I wonder how I can generate that outcome". Now this isn't something that's a [unclear 8:16]. It's like brushing your teeth. You have to do it every day and if you've been experiencing certain things for a period of time, then that means that there's a little bit of a rut in the road. There's a little bit of a trench that we're tracing. However, the repetition of a new and truly compelling and truly meaningful idea or strategy such as this one can actually embed itself quite quickly. Certainly when we acknowledge when it's happening and that's the second part.

The first part is change the strategy from "I'm imagining myself in an uncomfortable experience of not being able to get to sleep", push that away and then swap that with a new strategy, which is "actually I can imagine myself tomorrow morning 20 minutes after waking up feeling great" I can picture that and there's a nice picture of me and I'm sitting there and I'm ready to go and with that, when you actually start to have that experience, acknowledge it. One thing we don't learn to do, we really notice crappy things. We really notice when things aren't going that well. It's raining again. I slipped on the pathway because it's so wet. When something goes quite well and this is really extraordinary, like "I went on that roller coaster". This is really extraordinary and you don't really acknowledge it and give it any energy or positive feedback. So part of building a nice new strategy pattern is also building some feedback into it and so like when it actually happens, that feels good and it's surprising because I like surprises. It sounds a bit corny, but it actually works. When we give positive feedback from outside of us, it feels good. Unless we have a really low self esteem and then it's like "you're just saying that", but if we give ourselves positive feedback about something that is honestly feeling like it's working for us, then that can build the pattern, the new pattern. 

So try it out. Anxiety is nothing more than imagining ourselves in the future as if we are really there and we're having a bad experience. It's usually about a specific event, i.e. getting into bed. So the way around it is to use the same kind of future strategy, but picture ourselves and that's very compelling. It's kind of like window shopping for motivation so you picture yourself out there 20 minutes after waking up the next day and you're smiling. Yeah, I've got energy and you make that picture really compelling as if you're window shopping and you make it really nice. Yeah, I want that. That makes more sense to me. You do that often and you do that about daily things even. Events that are coming up during the day. You see yourself just a little bit after the event is completed and it releases a huge amount of possible discomfort or anxiety about the event because we can see ourselves beyond. The unconscious mind goes "yeah, that makes sense. Now what do we have to do? What are those skills and resources we have inside to make that happen".

Try it out. It's good fun. If you have any questions, just please email me.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Helping children with nightmares etc

In this video I talk about nightmares/fears, worries etc and how to help children with these disruptive challenges.

The structure or How the child is thinking about the nightmare is the most important factor when talking to them about it. And what we want the child to experience is a lessening of the intensity of the emotion they were feeling so that they can relax and get back to sleep.

The video is just over 8 minutes long, and below is a written transcription of the video.


Hi there. Just a short video with respect to helping children sort out their problems with worrying at night. Bad dreams, fears about things that go bump in the night, that sort of thing. What we're going to talk about really is structure, not content. The thing that we learn in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) , which is so useful is that structure actually makes most things work and what I mean by structure is like if I can think of what kind of ice cream I like, what I have to do is picture in my head and then I mention it once, kind of strawberry looking and that picture is kind of life size and I can imagine kind of holding it and get a compulsion of I really want it. So the content, it could be chocolate, it could be anything, I'm sorry. Any flavour, but fundamentally where is it? How am I picturing it? If I pictured it in black and white, would it really be as exciting? Probably not. 

So with children, it's really important I've found and sitting with our daughter, Phoebe is talking about what happened and what it's all about is actually kind of like a little bit like red rag to the bull or flicking a bit of fuel in the flame. What really is more important is you know, is it in colour or black and white? Well, it's in colour daddy. Is it life size or bigger or smaller? It's kind of bigger than life. And how close is it to you in your dream? It's right there. Well, lets be fair. If something larger than life, colourful and right there, it doesn't matter what it is. It's going to be pretty freaky. So here's the thing, what we do is we say okay, what would happen if it was a little bit further away? Does it feel as bad when it's a little bit further away, like two or three meters away? Well, no but it's still there. Of course. Okay so it's over there and you make it smaller so it's like that big, but it's five meters away. It's on the other side of the room and it's that big. How does it feel? It's still there, but it doesn't feel okay. If you imagine it kind of a little bit fuzzy and stuck red hair on it. See that's the thing. As soon as you do something like that, you change the structure. The first thing that happens is something changes with respect to how they feel about it because it's different, it changed and also they realize unconsciously that they changed it and they didn't know they could. That's the most important part. Learning that they can change how they feel by changing how something looks in their head because they can't see it out there, but it's kind of there because they're hallucinating it. 

Rather than getting into the content, the story, the narrative, which could be really interesting. What was the beast doing? It's actually more important to consider is it in color? Get into the structure and it's kind of fun and what you notice is that their body starts to relax quite quickly because there is an unconscious recognition that this thing is no longer as frightening or worrisome as it was.

Now the thing that is also quite cool is that if this is a recurring dream or if it's a dream that's happened once or twice and they're kind of similar, like monsters and things like that, once again, it's the unconscious doing its thing. The unconscious doesn't really know that what it's doing is freaking us out because it's just doing what the unconscious does and so what we want to do is while the child is awake and not in bed, nowhere near going to bed, just say now that dream you told me about the other day, was that in colour or was it in black and white? Well it was in colour. Was it life size or bigger? It was life size. How close would it have been? It was right here. What would it have been like once again if it were smaller and further away, black and white and a little bit fuzzy, a little bit out of focus? What would it be like?

What you're doing at that point is you're giving them an unconscious experience. You're bringing something that is normally unconscious up to the present and children are great for this because they live unconsciously most of the time and you shift it or at least you teach the unconscious that there can be some element of control and then they take that information inward and they might not necessarily see it straight away, but they learn something and that could also influence the way the unconscious is doing what it does. Assuming it worked for us and it certainly worked for me.

I had a recurring dream for many, many years. It was quite horrific and a bit graphic. Don't tell the psychotherapist about this, but what I suddenly awoke to, excuse the pun, was that what if I did something with this during the day. So I brought this memory of the dream to mind and I started to change certain aspects of it. Well, interesting enough, it was actually that night, I knew something was different and I never had the same kind of dream, but what I did do was I got myself out of it and that was about two days or a week later. I can't really remember. It was such a long time ago, but I actually found myself in the dream again, but I got myself out of it because I knew that I could change it. 

A very graphic experience with a client many, many years ago who would refuse to go to sleep anymore. She was a young woman who was just really exhausted, huge red eyes and she was having the most horrifically graphic dreams where she was actually the person doing it and it was quite horrific. So the long and the short of this, I don't want to get into a lot of drawn out content of the story, but all we had to do was I said to her, I asked her to close her eyes for just a few seconds and I asked her to go into that dream that she was really scared of, which kind of sounds horrible, but I knew that this was going to have an input. I see all the [unclear 6:12] and all the knives are made out of [unclear 6:17] and immediately colour came back into her face and she opened here eyes and said "can I do that" and I said "well do you want to do that" and she said "yes" and I said "well go back and do it again, but this time imagine you're in a clown suit" and she started laughing. 

The thing that we forget is that we're in control. The thing that we're being told over and over is you can't control it. It's not a good thing. The unconscious is curious and if it only knows one way of doing something, it's only ever going to do that one way of doing it until we initiate a new way of doing it or give a new suggestion and as we start to take control and teach our children how to have a healthy degree of control in their thoughts and their feelings and of course their sleep and of course their day to day outcomes. So give it a try. Move away from content. Move away from the story and just simply ask "was it in colour or black and white"? What you might have to do is say "listen, I can see you're really upset and I can see this has been very scary for you", not condescending, but really acknowledge it for them because they need to know that you're acknowledging and understanding that they've been really scared. Then say "listen, can I ask you a question. This might sound a bit funny, but was that dream in colour". "Oh, it was in colour". "Was that dream like how big was it"? "It was like really big". "Like were you right in it"? "I was right in it". So then you say "okay, what would it be like if you weren't in it and it was like over there somewhere. What would that be like"? You might be surprised by what you get back from them.

Give it a go. It's really interesting and it's so much fun. I mean, not fun, but it's fun to see the change and it's fun to give your children a tool because what we noticed with our daughter is this actually starts to positively influence the way she thinks about so many things. She starts to take control of her thoughts, her feelings and ultimately her behaviour.

Have fun. Enjoy.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sleep and Peak Performance Webinar

Recently I was asked to give an online webinar to the Personal Trainers Council of NZ and its members.

Below is the video recording via YouTube. The first few minutes is a little info from the PT Council and the webinar organisers and then I get straight into it. Enjoy!

The upshot of this webinar is that Sleep and getting a good sleep has huge influence on Peak Performance.

When we are training, be it our brains or bodies (or both), we are building the muscle, ironically, when we are resting, and resting is the key.

What and listen to find out more, and of course if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

"Hi Jean,
Thank you so much for piping up in Dave's workshop & reminding us about Aaron McLoughlin's sleep webinar.  You were right, he is good to listen to his content is practical & informative.  Really enjoyed it." G. Christchurch