Black Friday Deals


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Good morning everyone,

I’m pretty sure that you’ve been inundated with offers all week in preparation for today and no doubt you will receive plenty more even after today has finished.

It can be overwhelming with the quantity that comes through and sometimes confusing and even annoying…trust me I know, I get them too!!

However, it is amazing the deals that you can pick up when you look around and sift through. 

The thing is we all have to do a lot off sifting through in life in general everyday and some of those decisions are small and some are potentially life changing, and it’s important to take a little time over those really important decisions and make sure that the decision you make feels right at the end of the day.

For me this is so important when deciding on what I choose for my own personal development, because I want to know that I’m getting as much bang for my buck as possible and that the investment is right for me.

So today, I am offering 50% off everything in my online shop until Midnight on Sunday 27th November 2016. That means you can choose from:

  • Coaching – in person or via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime 
  • Training courses – online and face to face
  • Hypnosis sessions – in person or via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime 
  • Books and pdf’s – download
  • Hypnosis audio tracks – download

There’s a fair bit to choose from so take your time to decide on what’s right for you and you can claim your 50% discount by using the following code at checkout: 2LIFVU16YABV

You can find the shop at this link  The Mind-Body Coach Shop 

So, have a fantastic day and a fun filled weekend and for all of you in the US have a brilliant Thanksgiving weekend with your family and friends.

Simon 🙂

When Life is Abruptly Put into Perspective.


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Life has a strange way of shaking you up sometimes and not necessarily by directly affecting you but through family and friends.

The last 24 hours have reminded me of how fragile we as human beings can be at times. I’m not going to go into specific details here because that’s not appropriate, what I will say is that all is never lost. Even in what may feel like the deepest, darkest moment of your life there are people who want to help you, all you have to do is reach out and grab there hand and talk to them. You don’t even have to talk about the shit that is dragging you down, just talk to them, let them help you because they care about you.

Recent events have shaken me despite everything I know and what I do for a living and what I am reassured by is the old boy network and how hugely efficient it can be when combined with social media, because last night it helped save a life. It was awesome to see a group of people, friends from all walks of life, from all round the UK and abroad rally round and do everything they could to help a friend in need.

The other thing I want to say is if you have the feeling that someone you know and care about is in a bad way and may do the thing you fear the most and take their own life, make a call to organisations that can help and that includes dialling 999. This is ultimately what happened last night and they thankfully got their in the nick of time.

I’ve had a massive rethink about my business in the last few hours and the ways I can offer it to people and today, I will be making some significant changes so that my services are much more accessible to the people who really need my help.

Every day’s a school day and I’ve learnt a few very valuable lessons and for that I am extremely grateful.

So, look out for your friends and family, never dismiss other peeps feelings no matter how alien they are to you or uncomfortable they may make you feel and take action even if the person you help feels pissed off with you for a while.

You may just save a life.

Big hugs

Simon

Life Design Launches This Week!!


After many months of work and my eyes burning and aching from staring at my laptop screen for hours on end at all times of day and night, I am delighted to say that my online course ‘Life Design’ is ready for launch.

It has been a long time from the initial idea to now, with many revisions, one live test and one original online test, both of which lead to some great feedback and testimonials. So thank you again to the people who helped Beta test the course and for your feedback that helped refine it and improve it.

I have put together a few visuals that explain what it’s all about and I also wanted to explain a little more about the background to it.

I have been in the position a few times in my life where I’ve felt lost. I’d lost my job, my home, lost my first marriage and lost sense of my identity. I felt numb and dissociated like I was just viewing my life from the outside in with the sound down and all the colour gone.

It’s a horrible feeling to not know who you are, where you’re meant to be and how you’re meant to be and can, if left to fester, turn into serious depression, insomnia, anxiety etc. So on the back of these dark experiences in my life, I did some soul searching to figure out what helped me get out of it and what didn’t. I then distilled this down to the formula that is the essence of Life Design.

It is a wonderful recipe full of flavour that leaves you yearning for more at the end of each lesson, you really get the taste for discovering more about yourself and what is right for you in your life and how to get it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a human being and I still feel that sense of loss from time to time, we all do because it’s perfectly natural. It’s just that what you get from this course is the ability to recognise those feelings for what they are and how to change your thinking patterns and steer yourself back on course so much faster than people who do not know these key elements.

Life Design gives you an advantage over the people who don’t know, and, it gives you the opportunity to use the skills you learn here to help other people who may be experiencing what you and I have felt and get them back on course sooner rather than later.

Life Design launches this Friday 11th November 2016 and I have a fantastic pre-launch offer.

When you book your course, the first 50 places booked can get 15% discount using this coupon code at checkout lifedesignlaunch16

The other amazing offer with this course is that you get lifetime access and that includes access to any future updates or upgrades, so you will never lose what you’ve learnt, you will only gain more.

The course is £999, if you are one of the 50 that take advantage of the Launch Coupon Code lifedesignlaunch16 and grab your 15% discount you get it for £849.15

Also, the next 50 who book onto the course after the launch discounts codes are used up will get 10% discount by using the Coupon Code which will be posted once the launch promotions couples are used up, after that the course goes to full price.

The beauty of this course is that:

  • It’s online
  • You can work your way through it in your own time
  • Group discussion forum within the course
  • Closed Facebook group for members only
  • Email me directly
  • Lifetime access to course and any future updates and upgrades so you can work through the course again at anytime in the future.

So to recap:

  • Life Design launches Friday 11th November 2016
  • Course price £999
  • 15% discount – 50 places available from launch date – Coupon Code lifedesign16
  • 10% discount – 50 places available after launch codes are used – TBC
  • Lifetime access
  • Course URL: http://simon-maryan.thinkific.com/courses/life-design (live only from Friday 11th November 2016, so save it ready for Friday)

Keep your eyes peeled for the official launch this Friday and please share this with your family, friends and work colleagues because you never know who might be needing this right now.

Have a fantastic week

Simon

 

Are You Designing The Life You Want?


It’s always struck me as an almost impossible decision to make when you’re a kid at school, that choice that’s thrown at you to decide your future at 16. How can you possibly know what you want to do when you’ve done bugger all at that point?

It has taken me until my 40’s to figure it out and with several attempts to find out along the way. Even though I have made my own choices as to what to do, mostly,  and I have enjoyed what I’ve done, I have never felt truly comfortable with the jobs I’ve had. It’s like there was something missing, something not quite right and it was purely a gut feeling.

As bizarre and paradoxical as this may sound, if you’re feeling the same way right now I believe that precisely because of that, you are on the right path. Because when you don’t know which direction to head in, when you feel lost, it is this simple yet powerful realisation that you are lost that enables you to actually begin to find yourself. It is only when you reach this point that you know what all those difficult questions about life are and you can then ask them of yourself and clear the fog to begin to reveal your path, your purpose.

I have been lost several times in my life and always experience the most amazing shifts in my consciousness as a result of it. It makes me feel so different in so many ways, and, these changes can feel uncomfortable at first and all I can say to that is enjoy it, embrace it and know that good things happen as a result of these kinds of shift, because you awaken to other ways of thinking and being and that you are responsible for your own life’s direction.

When you awaken to the responsibility you have for your own life, it can give you a sense of heaviness initially, it can even feel overwhelming, because you now understand that you are the only person who can be held accountable for the life you choose to lead. If you want to turn your dreams into reality, it is you who will have to take control and make that happen.

After realising your responsibility for your success in life, you may begin to experience a sense of doubt in the back of your mind; a fear that if you try to turn your dreams into reality, you put yourself at risk of failing. This fear can grow extremely fast when you reach the inevitable conclusion that you have no choice but to drive that change if you are to achieve the things you hold close to your heart. This is where your mental strength comes into it’s own and where you find out if you truly, deep down want what you thought you wanted.

When you make that decision that change is inevitable, it can be so easy to become intimidated and overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that you all of a sudden, want to change. If this happens just pause, breathe and remember everything else you’ve achieved in your life and how previously, you didn’t think you’d be able to handle so many things at once, and you did. Remember that you are capable of doing what needs to be done when you break them down into smaller bite sized pieces.

And do you know what, sometimes you can’t figure out a way to put your plans into action straight way, perhaps because you feel that time is not on your side. The weeks, months and years seem to fly by and you sense that you don’t have enough of them left to reach your ideal destination. This is just an illusion created by doubt and fear. The only reason time seems to alter is because we are either extremely busy or extremely quiet in our lives, the fact that it seems to speed up and slow down is just an illusion. You have the time you need if you plan your changes wisely. Even when your life right now seems so hectic to you and some days leave you feeling drained of energy physically and mentally. Putting in the effort to plan your changes wisely helps to set you up for success, and then you can look forward to your holidays and take a well earned break from life cycle of repetitive habit and duty.

These big shifts can leave you feeling unwilling to put up with two faced people whose words and behaviours betray their negative and hurtful actions. The best thing you can do now is put as much distance between them and you as possible, because their very presence can bring you down at times and steer you temporarily off course. Never let anyone or anything stand in the way of your dreams and just remember that the path is never straight and easy, it will throw challenges and detours at you and it is down to your strength of mind and commitment to you, that will get you where you want to be.

I don’t know about you but I can’t understand why so many people are obsessed with the way they look and the things they own. Of course it’s good to look nice, but there are so many people that I have met in my life that live for their designer clothing, fake tans, cosmetic surgery, bling, and many other traps of meaningless, materialistic bullshit. The way people look has no bearing on what they are like as individuals and more often than not, the people with the shallow, materialistic approach to life are the ones who are prepared to hurt others in order to get what they want. It’s a sad reflection of modern society and one that I’m sure most of you have no time for either. This is another reason that you can know that you’re heading in the right direction because all the crap and irrelevant bullshit has little or no meaning for you.

My perception of society is that it doesn’t appear to be heading in a positive, progressive direction. The modern world is creating more problems than it is solving, and that it is only a matter of time before things go seriously wrong, the markers are everywhere. I would love to see a fairer, more caring future where everyone has greater opportunity and wealth isn’t controlled by the richest 1%. I appreciate that this is a huge generalisation and that there are people out there and organisations that are doing some amazing things and we need more of them. I don’t recall thinking like this when I was younger and I am aware that it was part of a shift a few years ago and it has helped me refine my direction in life for the better.

Now as we all now society is changing, and among some there is a complacency and sense of entitlement. I have found that when we all try to do our bit to inject enthusiasm, positivity, a sense of responsibility and possibility and perhaps even a desire for adventure in people, that it makes a difference to some peoples lives. I hope that this injection of positivity spreads like a happy virus round the universe, because this would make our planet an amazing place to live if we can stop destroying it and ourselves in the process.

When you think about the universe it is easy to feel as though we are just a tiny, unimportant piece of an infinitely complex puzzle and that our achievements don’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. Not true. The good things you do for others, as well as yourself, may not have any effect on Neptune or in the Andromeda Galaxy, but a small gesture of kindness can have a huge impact on the person you do that for, so keep doing it, because it does matter and it all counts and helps to keep shifting you in the right direction too.

And as rewarding as it can be to do nice things for people you don’t know, it matters just as much when it comes to friendships, because that is a genuine bond, one that isn’t necessarily founded purely on a long history of knowing each other. Even if you drift apart from those friends that you have this connection with and your circle of friends grows smaller because you’ve moved away for work etc. You will never lose those kinds of friends and you will meet new friends and create amazing friendships wherever you go. I have been fortunate to make friends with people in what are classed as some of the most dangerous countries on this planet, some who risked their lives for me. That I will never forget and I will never forget the ones who are no longer here. Respect for others is something that I think comes with age and experience, particularly in understanding who deserves it more than others.

I wonder of you’re like me and often like to take time alone, I enjoy that time to reflect on my life and sometimes those friends who have sadly lost their lives all too soon. I don’t do this to feel melancholy or depressed, I find that by spending time alone I can throw off the worries and anxieties of life and feel the freedom that this provides to reflect and take stock of things. It’s particularly useful and way more enjoyable heading out into nature and escaping the hustle and bustle of society where you can be at one with your thoughts and with yourself. When you get closer to your purpose you naturally appreciate different things, things you may not have noticed as much until now and this is a very good thing because it brings about positive changes.

Sometimes you can see yourself changing before your very eyes and this can be a little scary, perhaps because you have a sense that this change is now unstoppable and you’re afraid that the important people in your life – your family and friends – might not understand what’s happening to you. You worry that they will try to resist your change or even resent you for changing. And that’s ok because wherever you are on your journey, you can’t help but feel that there are pieces of the puzzle still missing. And you can sense that there is so much more to come, but you aren’t yet able to see what this may involve or whom. All you know is that what you have now, and what you can see of the future, isn’t all that there is.

It’s ironic that change is everywhere and so many people fear it. The thing is it almost inevitably involves some element of risk, and can give you an underlying sense of fear about what these risks are and what they mean for you and the people in your life. Whether they involve your physical security, your mental wellbeing, or your spiritual serenity, it’s natural to feel a little uneasy about the potential harm that might come your way. The funny thing is though, as inevitable the risk may be with change, the seriousness of that outcome from taking that risk is often far smaller than we imagined. We tend to err on the side of caution and make things worse in our minds as part of our self defence mechanism. It’s up to you whether you see this as a positive or negative element.

When this happens it’s important to have your say, even if you’re not sure how to say it. Stand up, be heard and make your vote and your voice count, be bold instead of hesitant and don’t worry how this might be perceived by others because this is about you finding your voice, who you are and knowing your purpose and telling people about it. And, that is hugely important in driving you and your life in the right direction and opening up new possibilities as a result of it. When you realise that laid out before you are the almost never-ending possibilities of your life, you can begin to figure out how you will choose between them. Each and every choice you make allows you to become even more aware of the endless possibilities that are yet to be realised by you, and this can either make you anxious about making the right decisions or excited at those possibilities. The choice is ultimately yours, I know what I would choose.

The thing is, knowing what you know now, you are able to look back on your past and see many things that perhaps you would do differently and that is an awesome realisation, because it means you have learnt from your mistakes and are all the wiser for them. And it’s not about feeling regret about how you acted, how you treated others or what your priorities were. You made your choices based on the information, knowledge, skills and experience you had at that time and you did the best you could with all of that. No one sets out to make a shitty decision, that’s pure madness, and as yet I have not met anyone who has told me that they got up in the morning with the intention of fucking everything up that day. Strange I know 🙂 All this means is that you appreciate your mistakes, you’ve taken the value from them and you know what to do should you ever be in a similar position, and you are definitely on the right track.

From time to time in our lives we can lose sight of the grand meaning of it all and we wonder whether there is any purpose to it whatsoever, and you know what, it’s actually ok to feel numb from time to time. In fact it’s completely natural and despite this feeling confusing, the reality is that confusion is a good thing because after the confusion has gone, we will have learned something new.

Sometimes in amongst all the frenetic hustle of life I find it such a relief to not know who I am, where I’m going, what I want to do etc, because not knowing takes the pressure off for a moment while I just allow my self wander through the curiously strange, meandering corridors of my mind and open some of the doors I haven’t opened yet. And the great thing is I know that I will walk back out of that crazy and wonderful maze with a clearer understanding of what I want and what I need to do.

My aim was to give you hope, let you take heart from my own experiences so far with losing my identity, direction and purpose because wherever you are in that process right now, know this. You will come out wiser, clearer and calmer with the knowledge that you need.

Happy trails

Simon

What is Mental Strength and Do You Have It?


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I’m fairly certain that most people would like to think that they have what it takes to succeed; determination, grit, Mental Strength, resilience.

But how do you know for sure? After all you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Until recently Mental Strength (toughness) was generally subjective. We would look at a business person, an athlete, or an artist achieve great success in the face of adversity and say, “WOW…they must be really mentally strong to get through that!”

We would determine a person’s Mental Strength by their success. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a way to measure this.

So What is Mental Strength?

An excellent place to start is defining what mental toughness is. Until recently there hasn’t been a solid description of what mental toughness is. Then in 2012 after numerous case studies and research Clough & Strycharczyk developed this widely accepted definition of mental toughness.

“Mental Toughness is a personality trait which determines in large part how people deal with challenge, stressors and pressure …. irrespective of prevailing circumstances.”

It is also defined as:

“An ability to overcome adversity and persevere through difficult and challenging situations or circumstances, to remain focused on the process.”

What is So Important About Mental Strength?

Through research, several benefits of being mentally strong have emerged. They are:

  • Performance: Individuals perform more effectively in terms of volume and quality of work.
  • Positive Behavior: The higher the level of Mental Strength, the more the individual demonstrates positive behaviors.
  • Well-being: The greater the level of Mental Strength, the greater the sense of well-being.
  • Aspirations: Studies show that Mental Strength appears to be positively correlated with career aspirations and aspirations in general.
  • Employability: There is a clear relationship between an individual’s Mental Strength and their ability to not only get a job, but to get the job they want.
  • Completion Rates: A mentally strong person is more likely to complete a project on time and on target.
  • Other Considerations: Developing psychological or emotional resilience and Mental Strength is a very important life skill.

What Exactly Makes Up Mental Strength?

There are four major components of Mental Strength and they are:

Control – Control means having a sense of self-worth and describes the extent to which a person feels in control of their life and their circumstances. Importantly, it also describes the extent to which they can control the display of their emotions.

A mentally strong person will usually “get on with it” irrespective of how they feel and their positive approach can often lift the spirits of those around them.

Commitment – Commitment is about goal orientation and ‘stickability’ and describes the extent to which someone is prepared to set goals for what they need to do and make measurable promises that, once made, they will work hard to deliver on.

Control and Commitment, when combined, are what most people mean when they think of resilience. They are indeed a solid response to adversity, but resilience is largely a passive quality and is only one part of Mental Strength.

Challenge – Challenge describes the extent to which the individual will push back their boundaries, embrace change and accept risk. It’s also about how they see all outcomes – good and bad.

Mentally strong people view challenges, change and adversity as opportunities rather than threats and will relish the chance to learn and grow in new and unknown situation. Someone whose challenge score is high will typically enjoy new places, new people, innovation and creativity.

Confidence – Confidence completes the picture and describes the self-belief an individual has in their own abilities and the interpersonal confidence they have to influence others and deal with conflict and challenge. When faced with a challenge, mentally strong people scoring high in confidence, will possess the self-belief to deal with the situation and the inner strength to stand their ground when needed. Their confidence enables them to represent their view boldly and be comfortable in handling objections.

To be Mentally Strong there are four main areas in which you need to excel at. They are:

1. Control: Individuals who score high on this scale feel that they are in control of their work and of their work environment. At the high end of the scale they will be able to handle lots of things at the same time. At the other end, they may only be comfortable handling one thing at a time.

  • Control (emotion) – Individuals scoring highly on this scale are better able to control their emotions. They are better able to keep anxieties in check.
  • Control (life) – Individuals scoring higher on this scale are more likely to believe that they control their lives. They feel that they can make a difference.

2. Challenge (sometimes called change orientation): Describes the extent to which individuals see problems as opportunities. At one end of the scale we find those who thrive in continually changing environments. At the other end, we find those who prefer to minimize their exposure to change and the problems that come with that.

3. Commitment: Sometimes described as “stickability”, this describes the ability for an individual to carry out tasks successfully despite any problems or obstacles which arise whilst achieving the goal. Consequently, an individual who scores at the high end of the scale will be able to handle and achieve things to tough unyielding deadlines.

4. Confidence: Individuals who are high in confidence have the self-belief to successfully complete tasks, which may be considered too difficult by individuals with similar abilities but with lower confidence. At the other end of the scale individuals will be unsettled by setbacks and will feel undermined by these.

  • Confidence (abilities): Individuals scoring highly on this scale are more likely to believe that they are truly worthwhile.
  • Confidence (interpersonal): Individuals scoring highly on this scale tend to be more assertive. They are less likely to be intimidated in social settings and are more likely to cope with difficult or awkward people.

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Can You Develop Mental Strength?

Absolutely, yes you can!

Mental Strength is a malleable personality trait which means it can be developed.

Developing Mental Strength generally happens by teaching you to handle stress more effectively through making fundamental changes to the way you think about problems and by teaching you the tactics and strategies that mentally tough people use.

Either approach can work, although the program needs to be tailored as you will likely have a unique profile with different strengths and development needs. The Mental Strength Programme offers reflection and a conversation with an experienced Mental Strength Coach, you would commit to a purposeful practice using the appropriate techniques. These techniques fall into 5 categories:

  1. Positive Thinking: There are many techniques for developing a “can do” mindset which include self-talk and stopping or reframing negative thoughts.
  2. Mental Rehearsal: This involves developing your ability to first imagine something in your head to help you deal with a real event.
  3. Energy Management: Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques will enable you to deal with those panic moments when things seem out of control, producing a physiological reaction.
  4. Goal Setting: Tools and techniques that support the development of your sense of purpose and how to set about achieving it.
  5. Attention Control: Used extensively in sports to teach athletes how to focus better and longer, as well as developing mindfulness, which is learning how to notice what is happening around you.

How to Measure Mental Strength

Now that we know each component of Mental Strength, the next step is to measure it. This is done by assessing Readiness to Change and Emotional Intelligence.

These Questionnaires are a dynamic and revealing diagnostic test that identifies the resilience and mental toughness of individuals. The tool can be used to enable a program of interventions to help the learner change their Mental Strength, or it can show someone how to adopt the behaviours that a mentally strong person would have.

These Questionnaires are online assessments and are accessed via links and takes just 20-30 minutes to complete. Results are generated quickly and presented in Pdf reports that are emailed to you immediately ofter completion of each assessment.

Where is Mental Strength Useful?

Being Mentally Strong has been proven to be beneficial in improving performance, increasing positivity and aspirations, creating greater well-being as well as a calmer and lower stress response to change.

As a result, the Mental Toughness Questionnaire has many useful applications. Especially for people and organizations that are subject to pressures and challenges or wherever performance, behavior and well-being is an issue.

The Mental Strength Assessment is Widely Used in Businesses for:

  • Training & Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Coaching
  • Organisation Development
  • Performance
  • Talent Management
  • Career Transition and Outplacement
  • Work-Life Balance

The Mental Strength Assessment is Widely Used in Sport

The beneficial impact of Mental Strength is well understood by most coaches and athletes. The key areas are:

  • Performance
  • Positive Behaviour
  • Well-being
  • Aspirations

The Mental Strength Assessment is extremely effective in the Sports sector using language applicable in the sporting world. The results enable coaches, trainers and athletes to make better assessments and identify why they do or do not perform under pressure.

It can also explain why some athletes are better suited at contact sports and why some perform better in team sports than in solitary sports. It also explains why an athlete of lesser ability can often and will often beat an athlete of greater ability.

There are assessments for specific sports so your report can be geared precisely to give you the competitive advantage.

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In Summary

We have:

  • The ability to define and describe an important aspect of our personality – Mental Strength.
  • A concept which is accessible to everyone and which helps to explain performance, well-being and behaviour.
  • Psychometric assessments which measure an individual’s Mental Strength for readiness to change and emotional intelligence.
    A Mental Strength Development program which delivers measurable results.

 

If you feel you want to develop the level of mental strength you want/need in order to live life like a warrior being  kind, compassionate, ruthless in your determination to succeed yet remaining ethically and morally sound, resilient to failures and cheerful when the shit hits the fan. Then get in touch with me to discuss the options below.

  1. Self directed – go through the assessments yourself and the online course in your own time with no input from me
  2. 8 Week coaching Programme – go through the assessments and the online course, plus 8 weekly coaching calls to fine tune your progress and development and ensure you achieve your aim.

Whatever you decide I salute you for considering your options and making an informed decision for yourself and your future.

Here’s to your success and your mental strength.

Simon

How We Encode Our Success or Failure with Our Thinking


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“You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you’re down to your reflexes – that means your [preparation:]. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights.”

Joe Frazier

Today that quote is proving invaluable to me because today is proving to be a challenging day, and for no clear conscious reason as yet. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, not from a nightmare or any dream that I can remember but with an ominous feeling of what I can only describe as dread. I didn’t sleep much after that and lay there in bed with my heart racing until my alarm went off.

The day so far has been spent wrestling with my mind as the darkness that I lock away tries to overwhelm me and, I know that I will win this battle today.

Now why am I telling you this?

Well I know that there are many people out there who have had, and likely will have similar experiences to this, it’s a natural part of life.  I am a highly positive person and I am also very well aware as a psychologist what is happening. My life has been full of unusual experiences, some fun and some terrifying and exhilarating. This mixture of positive and negative experiences are all part of who I am and sometimes the negative takes over and leads me towards a path I do not want to tread because it is dark, threatening and dangerous. This path is virtually impossible to brighten as it seems to absorb all light like a black hole encompassing anything and everything.

I am grateful that I have learned to side-step off that path early on and use what I have learned and keep myself focused on what I do want; how I do want to think, how I do want to feel and remain focused on those things no matter how exhausting that can be at times like this.

It’s extremely difficult to explain to someone that has never had this kind of experience because it’s not something you can see, or touch or hear, it is a purely kinaesthetic experience. This is purely thoughts and feelings that create the mental state and this intangible element is hard for some to grasp.

There has been a huge amount of research over the years into how our mindset; our thoughts, feelings, language and behaviour, and how that affects our physical health as well as our mental health, and a field of science called Epigenetics grew from it and has shown that our beliefs can affect us at the cellular level.

One of the best-researched books about our language and responses to both positive and negative events in life is Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman. In a 25-year research study, Seligman proved that our mindset, manifested in our language and behavior, is a predictor of our success. In other words, what you think and say (your words and language) is proven to manifest in your life.

I continue to be baffled by individuals who wonder why their life is a mess when their entire mindset is defeatist and pessimistic. They are blind to their own undoing.

Seligman proved that how we respond (think, say, do) to our circumstances, both successes and failures, directly correlates to our accomplishments in life. Someone might argue that it can’t be that simple, but from Seligman’s research, it is.

To push your thinking limits even further, Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, has confirmed that our thoughts can actually adjust our DNA, at minimum, how our DNA decides to respond to different stressors or events. Contrary to popular understanding, it is not your genes that predict your predisposition to your health condition, but rather your thoughts that act on your genes.

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Your thought life is highly influencing your condition in your life, including, but not limited to, your health, relationships, career, and achievements. Understand that regardless of your background, Personal Style, personality, or environment, you can learn optimism, measure it, and teach it to yourself and others.

If we are going to live our lives on purpose with passion, it is going to take resilience and mental strength and those who give up easily are generally pessimistic in their mindset. They get caught in a cycle of hopelessness, and can’t see their way out of their troubles or challenges. However, optimistic individuals face identical roadblocks and they overcome them to realise their own success and victory.

There are three principles or factors that comprise the primary work for Dr. Seligman’s optimist and pessimistic framework.

  1. Permanent vs. Temporary
  2. Specific vs. Universal
  3. Personalisation (internal vs. external) Elements

1. Optimistic Mindset Item One: Permanent vs. Temporary
Failure makes everyone at least momentarily helpless. However, those who are optimistic bounce back almost instantly. Those who are highly pessimistic remain helpless for days or perhaps months, even after very minor setbacks.

2. Optimistic Mindset Item Two: Specific vs. Universal
The optimist believes that bad events have specific causes, while good events enhance everything they do; the pessimist believes that bad events have universal causes and that good events are caused by specific factors.

3. Optimistic Mindset Item Three: Personalisation: Internal vs. External
When bad things happen, we can blame ourselves (internal), or we can transfer fault to circumstances (external). People who blame themselves when they fail have low self-esteem as a consequence. They think they are worthless, talent-less, and unlovable. People who blame external events when bad events happen do not lose self-esteem when negative events occur. Overall they like themselves better than those who blame themselves. The optimistic style of explaining good events is the opposite of explaining negative events. It is internal, rather than external. People who believe that they cause good things to happen tend to like themselves better than people who believe that good things come from other people or circumstances.

The Importance of Hope
Whether we have hope depends on two dimensions of our explanatory style (the words and responses we use): pervasiveness and permanence. Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune is the art of hope – temporary causes limit helplessness in time, and specific causes limit helplessness to the original situation. On the other hand, permanent causes produce helplessness through all our endeavors. Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune is the practice of despair. People who make permanent and universal explanations for their troubles tend to collapse under pressure, both for a long time and across situations. In Seligman’s work, no item is more important as your levels of hopelessness or hopefulness.

It’s important to remember the three principles of Dr. Seligmans’ optimistic and pessimistic mindsets; how they apply to your life, and why being conscious of them will help you avoid (and reverse) the cycle of despair and hopelessness. Living a life On Purpose, by definition, is a life full of HOPE. When life throws you a curve ball, where does your mind take you? Are you a glass half-empty or glass half-full kind of person? Your answer matters, To You.

“Each of us has two distinct choices to make about what we will do with our lives. The first choice we can make is to be less than we have the capacity to be. To earn less. To have less. To read less and think less. To try less and discipline ourselves less. These are the choices that lead to an empty life. These are the choices that, once made, lead to a life of constant apprehension instead of a life of wondrous anticipation.  And the second choice? To do it all! To become all that we can possibly be. To read every book that we possibly can. To earn as much as we possibly can. To give and share as much as we possibly can. To strive and produce and accomplish as much as we possibly can.”

Jim Rohn

If this post helps just one person today then it has done it’s job and if you feel you want or need to talk in more detail then please get in touch.

Here’s to your mental strength and success.

Simon

Physical and Mental Strength


Courage and Determination

I’m fortunate because my work involves physical and mental coaching and training, which is a lot of fun and gives me variety from day to day. I also have the huge privilege of seeing my clients lives change over time and sometimes in a very short space of time, which is amazing to see.

I had a suggestion given to me just recently about offering virtual live training via Facebook use their Live Streaming facility and this really intrigued me as to how I can make this work. So, I set up a closed FB Group to keep it completely private for everyone that subscribes and have posted videos of two circuits so far that include lots of little psychological tips.

These days I find shorter more intense physical training suits me better than long drawn out sessions. Partly because I get bored easily and can’t be bothered with spending a long time training, unless it’s out for a long walk in the hills. Also because my body can’t hack it either, I really struggle with long training sessions. So, the other day I recorded a demo session of a full body circuit that I concocted that ticks all the boxes for me. It takes about 20 minutes to complete, it involves muscular strength and stamina, it gets my heart rate up providing me with a good cardiovascular workout and it’s intense, it hurts and it forces me to push myself when it hurts to stick to the time limit I set myself for it.

I’ve tarted the video up so it’s not just the raw basic video from my phone camera and I hope you find it useful and that you test out the circuit for yourself too.

This is one of my favourite circuits at the moment, it is a real test of determination to get it finished within the time frame and it works your entire body, and I can still do it with my limited range of movement in my left shoulder.

Be prepared to sweat, a lot when you do this. It is my favourite Friday circuit because it means I empty my tank before the weekend starts and I can eat a little bit of all the things I may have craved throughout the week and eat them guilt free.

Try it out and let me know how you get on and how you adapt it with your own interesting additions.

Hypnosis and Fear of Dentists


stay-connectd

Unsurprisingly for many of you, a fear of dentists and dental treatment is a very common phobia in the UK and elsewhere around the world.

  • Almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist.
  • 12% of these suffers from an extreme dental anxiety.
  • Women are more likely to suffer from extreme dental anxiety than men.
  • Visiting the Dentist is ranked number one (22%) for making people nervous, even more popular than heights (19%).

Direct experience is the most common way people develop dental fears. Most people report that their dental fear began after a traumatic, difficult, and/or painful dental experience. However, painful or traumatic, dental experiences alone do not explain why people develop dental phobia. The perceived manner of the dentist is an important variable. Dentists who were considered “impersonal”, “uncaring”, “uninterested” or “cold” may develop high dental fear in patients, even in the absence of painful experiences, whereas some patients who had had painful experiences failed to develop dental fear if they perceived their dentist as caring and warm.

Indirect experiences

  • Vicarious learning
  • Dental fear may develop as people hear about others’ traumatic experiences or negative views of dentistry (vicarious learning).
  • Mass media

The negative portrayal of dentistry in mass media and cartoons may also contribute to the development of dental fear. This negative portrayal may come from such films as the 1932 comedy film The Dentist, the unrelated horror film The Dentist, its sequel, the 1933 cartoon The Merry Old Soul, and Marathon Man (the antagonist, Dr. Christian Szell, is a Nazi war criminal who tortures with dental equipment).

Stimulus Generalisation

Dental fear may develop as a result of a previous traumatic experience in a non-dental context. For example, bad experiences with doctors or hospital environments may lead people to fear white coats and antiseptic smells, which is one reason why dentists nowadays often choose to wear less “threatening” apparel. People who have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused may also find the dental situation threatening.

Helplessness and Perceived Lack of Control

If a person believes that they have no means of influencing a negative event, they will experience the feeling of helplessness. Research has shown that a perception of lack of control leads to fear. The opposite belief, that one does have control, can lead to lessened fear. For example, the belief that the dentist will stop when the patient gives a stop signal lessens fear. Helplessness and lack of control may also result from direct experiences, for example an incident where a dentist wouldn’t stop even when the person was in obvious pain.

Diagnosis of Phobia
Phobia of dental care is sometimes diagnosed using a fear measurement instrument like Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale or the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale

It would be very interesting to read your experiences of dentists and how you feel about your 6 monthly appointment. In the meantime here are some case studies and also additional references at the end.

 

Study 1: Hypnosis in Pediatric Dental Treatment Using elements of hypnosis prior to or during pediatric dental treatment.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635894

Results: A review of the relevant research and literature shows that the advantages of using hypnotic elements and hypnosis in pediatric dentistry are evident.

Notes: Most dental practitioners are familiar with pediatric patients expressing dental fear or anxiety. Occasionally, the dentist may encounter a situation where all behavioral techniques fail, while, for some reason, premedication or general anesthesia are contraindicated or rejected by the patient or his/her parents and a different approach is required. Hypnosis may solve the problem in some cases. The purpose of this study was to review the literature about techniques that use elements of hypnosis and hypnotic techniques prior to or during pediatric dental treatment. There is a limited amount of literature regarding the use of hypnosis and hypnotic elements in pediatric dentistry. Induction techniques, reframing, distraction, imagery suggestions, and hypnosis are identified, although mostly anecdotally.

Pediatr Dent. 2013 Jan-Feb;35(1):33-6
By: B. Peretz, R. Bercovich, S. Blumer, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, The Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Study 2: Hypnosis for Dental Procedure Pain
Effects of Hypnosis as an Adjunct to Intravenous Sedation for Third Molar Extraction: A Randomized, Blind, Controlled Study
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207140903310782?journalCode=nhyp20#preview

Results: Intraoperative Propofol administration, patient postoperative pain ratings, and postoperative prescription pain reliever consumption were all significantly reduced in the hypnosis treatment group compared to the control group.

Notes: This study aimed to evaluate the use of hypnosis/therapeutic suggestion as an adjunct to intravenous (IV) sedation in patients having 3rd molar removal in an outpatient setting. The patients were randomly assigned to a treatment (n = 46) or control (n = 54) group. The treatment group listened to a rapid conversational induction and therapeutic suggestions via headphones throughout the entire surgical procedure along with a standard sedation dose of intravenous anesthetic. The control group listened to only music without any hypnotic intervention. Intraoperative Propofol administration, patient postoperative pain ratings, and postoperative prescription pain reliever consumption were all significantly reduced in the treatment compared to the control group. Implications of these results are discussed.

International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Volume 58, Issue 1, 2009
By: Edward F. Mackey, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Study 3: Use of Imagery to Make Easier Injection of Anesthesia for Dental Work
The use of imagery suggestions during administration of local anesthetic in pediatric dental patients.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10997242

Results: The authors of this study conclude that imaging/imagery techniques may be successfully utilized in the administration of local anesthesia to young children (from three years of age) in an effort to mitigate untoward, pain-related stress.

Notes: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of suggestion before and during the administration of local anesthesia to children. Eighty children between the ages of three and sixteen years and who required at least one injection of local anesthesia were monitored. Retrospective examinations of their dental records provided the information regarding the behavior and dental treatment histories of the patients. All other data were provided through observation during the dental treatment phase. During the first treatment session, before the injection, each child was asked to select a favorite, pleasant memory or image. Where children had difficulty in identifying an image, one was proposed by the dentist. After an image had been chosen, the patients were asked to concentrate on the image and to visualize it during the procedure. The majority of children had chosen their own images, and significantly visualized the same images throughout the injection procedures. Image selection and visualization had no association with gender, age, the parent’s assessment of the child’s behavior, previous dental experience, behavior (both past and present) or, management techniques (both past and present).

ASDC J Dent Child. 2000 Jul-Aug;67(4):263-7, 231
By: B. Peretz, E. Bimstein, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Hebrew University, Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, Jerusalem, Israel

References

  1. Bracha HS, Vega EM, Vega CB (2006). “Posttraumatic dental-care anxiety (PTDA): Is “dental phobia” a misnomer?” (PDF). Hawaii Dent J. 37 (5): 17–9. PMID 17152624.
  2. Milgrom P, Weinstein P, Getz T (1995). Treating Fearful Dental Patients: A Patient Management Handbook (2nd ed.). Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington, Continuing Dental Education. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0528.1996.tb00893.x. ISBN 1-880291-01-0.
  3. Erten H, Akarslan ZZ, Bodrumlu E (April 2006). “Dental fear and anxiety levels of patients attending a dental clinic”. Quintessence Int. 37 (4): 304–10. PMID 16594362.
  4. Stabholz A, Peretz B (April 1999). “Dental anxiety among patients prior to different dental treatments”. Int Dent J. 49 (2): 90–4. doi:10.1111/j.1875-595x.1999.tb00514.x. PMID 10858738
  5. Locker D, Shapiro D, Liddell A (June 1996). “Negative dental experiences and their relationship to dental anxiety”. Community Dent Health. 13 (2): 86–92. PMID 8763138
  6. Bernstein DA, Kleinknecht RA, Alexander LD (1979). “Antecedents of dental fear”. J Public Health Dent. 39 (2): 113–24. doi:10.1111/j.1752-7325.1979.tb02932.x. PMID 287803
  7. Hilton IV, Stephen S, Barker JC, Weintraub JA (December 2007). “Cultural factors and children’s oral health care: a qualitative study of carers of young children”. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 35 (6): 429–38. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0528.2006.00356.x. PMID 18039284
  8. http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/abuse_survivors.html
  9. Lundgren J, Carlsson SG, Berggren U (May 2006). “Relaxation versus cognitive therapies for dental fear—a psychophysiological approach”. Health Psychol. 25 (3): 267–73. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.25.3.267. PMID 16719597

Why We Are The Way We Are. The good and the bad of conditioned response.


It’s 4am and I’m awake again at the sound of the car door closing outside the window. My instincts are kicking in with my body and mind ready to respond in the blink of an eye and as I look around the room I realise I’m not in Baghdad or Kabul, Portharcourt or Baiji or anywhere else that is a threat, I’m on my own sofa in the living room of my own house.
My heart is racing as I struggle between two realities not completely sure which one to chose and not always knowing which one I prefer. It’s hard to step away from the chaos, fear and excitement that comes with combat, as crazy as it sounds it can feel more reassuring for a while than the quiet of a so called normal life with a host of new uncertainties that are alien and in their own way just as scary at times.

We were trained for years to respond to threats with a highly calculated, swift and utterly devastating level of aggression and violence on the battlefield, and to be able to turn that aggression down like a dimmer switch. It’s a hard skill to learn and one of many that never leaves you, and like so many it gets confused in the civilian life that we all end up in at some point.

When your brain is so used to high speed threat assessment it is easy for mistakes to be made in the civvy world because we feel constantly under threat as we navigate our new environment and unsure of the new rules of engagement. Sometimes we’re not sure who the enemy is and ironically, particularly in the early days, we are our own enemy. Our mind is struggling to cope, half knowing we can’t respond the way we do but not knowing any other way yet, until we learn what’s acceptable in this new world. And this takes time. Not something given up lightly in a frantically fast and ruthless world that we live in because time is a commodity, it’s precious and people and business hold onto it like it was a newborn child at times, protecting it with every ounce of strength they have.

Being conditioned into who we are has many advantages in both worlds. We are fiercely loyal, we have a work ethic that is second to none, we are extremely adaptable, learn fast and want to learn, we are highly disciplined, fantastic team players and very capable of getting the job done on our own when need be. We make great leaders because we have been trained and led by great men and when the shit hits the fan, there is no one else you would rather have by your side.

So when you meet or know someone who is struggling with their own mind as they work to come to terms with physical and/or psychological injuries from their time in the military, please share some of that precious time, allow them a little more of it and some space to come to terms with their new world.

And for you my brothers, when there is no need to brace yourself as the tailgate lowers and there are no more doors to kick in, no more need to try and squeeze yourself into the tiniest rut in the ground as the dirt kicks up all around you, when there are no more explosions that vibrate every organ in your body leaving you deaf, nauseous and disoriented and there is nothing left but deafening silence.

Remember that when the faces come rushing at you in those quiet moments, when you least expect them, with your heart racing as you check your exits and for people who are a threat, it is just your mind and the way you’ve been conditioned to be. Remember the simple things, remember to breathe, and as you breathe in clench your fists and as you breathe out open your hands and flex your fingers till they strain and imaging that you push those faces further away with every breath out. Keep doing this until those faces drift and fade into the distance and when they’re gone relax your hands at your sides and let that complete relaxation in your hands and forearms to flow all the way up to your shoulders, up your neck and into your head and face, then let that relaxation flow all the way down your upper body, through your hips, down your legs into your feet and all the way down to the ends of your toes. Remembering to breathe slowly as you do this.

You may well find this takes a bit of practice, as crazy as this sounds, but we all do it from time to time, we forget to breathe when we are stressed, under pressure and we tense up. So when you catch yourself tensing up like this, even if there are no faces to push away, just practice it like any other skill you’ve learned and create a new conditioned response when you feel stressed and threatened on any way.

Just as in the military and on operations we have each others back, well I have your back now. If you need to speak to clear your mind and get things off your chest then get in touch with me either on Facebook or my email, simon@simonmaryan.com and we can arrange a time to chat. We need to look out for each other just as much in this civvy world as we did in the military and sometimes more so. Despite retiring from that old world we will always be that band of brothers and that loyalty does not need to fade because we are not side by side physically anymore, technology has seen to that and made the world a much smaller place. So let’s take advantage of that and keep each other safe.

On that note ladies and gentlemen spoofers, I believe I am done.
Simon Maryan

Per Mare Per Terram

Mind-Body Health and Your Vagus Nerve


For me, being a therapist, counsellor or coach is just like being a good host at a dinner party, because a client is a guest in my practice and they have come because they need something from me that I can give them so I invite them in.

If my guest is thirsty, I give them a drink. If they’re belly is rumbling with hunger, I give them food. This is a basic duty of being the host with the most. And in my mind, the same principle applies to a client suffering from stress (and almost every client I see is).

When treating a negatively emotionally aroused client, the first thing I need to do is calm them down.

Don’t get me wrong, calm empathic listening can take the wind out of the sail of rising cortisol. But sometimes clients need immediate help. Their level of stress has become an emergency, and until you apply therapeutic psychological first aid, other diagnostics and treatments have to wait.

It’s equally useless to try to get someone who is dying of thirst to think about their long-term finances, you won’t get anywhere by attempting to help a stressed person until you address their need for relaxation and calm.

But why do people suffer stress in the first place?

People become stressed when they are not meeting their needs, or fear their needs will stop being met. (What if he/she leaves me? What if I lose my job?) A great visual for our needs is this image below which is an adapted version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. When these needs, starting from the bottom up, are not met we begin to suffer psychologically and then physically.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Emotional stress is a signal that needs are not being met adequately, just as thirst is a physical stress signal that the body is dehydrated. Knowing how to deeply relax stressed clients – offering ‘psychological & physical first aid’ – is a prerequisite skill to make any other therapy or coaching remotely possible.

Quench That Thirst 

Using talk therapy or getting all analytical when someone is crippled by stress is like giving salted food to a dehydrated guest. Quench their urgent thirst first, then work out how you can help them in the long term.

Stress is the one thing almost all psychological conditions have in common. Depressed people always have more of the stress hormone cortisol in their bloodstreams (1). Addicted people are stressed because they aren’t meeting their needs, and they try to relieve that stress through the escapism of addiction (2). People develop panic attacks when they’re generally stressed. Emotional problems are caused by stress, but in turn cause more stress.

So, to me, it seems almost unforgivable for any therapist not to be exquisitely skilled in the art and science of relaxation. And this is why I believe all people helpers should be able to heal through calm – and why I have always trained coaches and therapists to do this.

Here are three reasons why it’s not just ethical but essential to know how to relax your clients deeply.

1. You can’t help your client until they’re relaxed and ready

sp_image_role_of_vagus_nerve

Pete was clearly on the brink of either exploding or imploding, I wasn’t quite sure which one at first. His facial muscles were rigid, and the deeply etched creases in his face indicated long term tension and stress. Sitting in front of me his breath was shallow, fast and heavy, just like he’d run to my practice – yet he looked frozen in place. It was blatantly obvious that he needed help and right now.

Crucially, as I began engaging in conversation I found that he couldn’t think. Every time I asked a question I could see his mind wander off somewhere else. He did say one very important thing though.

When I asked what it was that he wanted, he looked straight at me and said “Not to feel like I’m dying inside!”

“I can’t relax, ever”, he said. Yet relaxation was precisely what he needed. Natural, mind-clarifying relaxation, that is, not the alcohol and sleeping tablet induced semi-coma that he’d become accustomed to.

We know that depressed brains are stressed brains. Pete was depressed because his needs weren’t being met. And the double bind was that in order to help meet his needs, he needed to become less stressed.

Long-term stress inhibits the function of the left prefrontal lobe, which generates feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction (3) and facilitates calm cognition (4). To put it simply, stress inhibits cognitive function. We can’t think or learn when we’re highly stressed.

Without wanting to overcook the analogy, you can’t teach someone calculus when they are desperate for water. And good luck trying to do cognitive therapy with someone whose thinking brain is crippled by anxiety.

I gave Pete what he needed in that first session, which was deep rest and relaxation. He was a different person at the end of that first session: clear, calm and hopeful. I didn’t just tell him he could feel different. I showed him how to feel different. Pete now had some clear space in his mind to really think about what else he wanted from therapy, beyond the relaxation.

Constant stress and failure to relax makes people feel hopeless, disassociated from their personal resources, and therefore helpless. From there it’s not far to go to reach crisis point.

Of course, we can’t disentangle body from mind – it’s a false dichotomy. Helping your clients relax will also greatly help their physical wellbeing.

2. You can’t heal the body without healing the mind

vagus nerve

For me, a good therapist, counsellor or coach should be able to improve the physical health of their clients by quickly improving their emotional health.

High levels of stress are correlated with increased risk of obesity and diabetes (5), and can damage immunity (6) and working memory (7). Prolonged stress (ongoing activation of the sympathetic nervous system or ‘fight or flight’ response) also increases inflammation in the body (8), which can adversely affect digestion (9).

Stress-induced inflammation is also implicated in the onset of some cancers (10), heart disease (11), and the physical manifestations of depression (12). This is hardly surprising, as depression is essentially a sense of nervous exhaustion from the stress of unresolved worry and rumination (13).

On the other hand, good immune function, clear thought, and feelings of wellbeing can all be promoted through an amazing mechanism that is closely tied to the relaxation response. Let me explain.

The Vagus Nerve and Your Mind-Body Health

As a therapist or coach, your job is to help people feel better, to give them the calm and confidence to pursue their goals. When the mind is troubled, the body is troubled – and vice versa. Fortunately for us, there’s something we can use to dramatically improve mental and physical health and reduce inflammation throughout the entire body. It’s called the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is an incredible meandering bundle of nerve fibres that extends from the brainstem, through the neck and thorax, and finally to the abdomen, where it supplies the gut. This is the widest nerve distribution of any nerve in the body.

The function of the vagus nerve is closely tied to your health, both mental and physical. It interfaces with your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response) and controls the healthy functioning of the heart, digestive tract and lungs.

Low ‘vagal tone’ has been linked to higher levels of inflammation in the brain and body (14). Conversely, when the vagus nerve is stimulated and strengthened, inflammation is lowered throughout the entire body.

Social connections (15) and healthy diet (16) both stimulate the vagus nerve, but perhaps the most important and practical way of stimulating the vagus nerve is by practising deep relaxation. In fact, just the simple act of breathing slowly in and out (the exhalation needs to be longer than the inhalation) activates the vagus nerve (17).

Relaxation helps our clients feel healthier, not ‘just’ physically but mentally too. Relaxing distressed clients is not just dealing with the symptom – it’s also helping alleviate the cause. When people improve their vagal tone they become more able to make emotional, cognitive and behavioural changes.

But as well as all the benefits of relaxation in and of itself, the relaxed state offers a perfect medium for psychological change. It’s during relaxation that we can best help our clients by treating the cause of long-term distress – and here’s how.

3. Relaxation primes your client for inner work

vagus-nerve-x

I remember a client coming to see me who used to have CBT. He recounted how the ‘therapy’ would make him feel so stressed (with all the health implications that entailed) because the practitioner would ask him to replay in the sessions by focusing on all that was and had ever been bad in his life.

He learned to schedule the sessions on Fridays because he’d tried other days but found he had to take up to three days off work to recover from the ‘therapy’. So his weekends were ruined which added more stress from frustration.

This is absolutely insane. Our clients should feel better after every session.

Pete found that after months of building stress, the simple act of relaxing was incredibly therapeutic in itself. But we needed to deal with the reasons for the stress to prevent it from happening again in future.

All coaching and counselling uses inner work and what I mean by that is that even if you just ask a client what they want or ask them to think about the past, you are inviting them to go inside their minds to find the answer, to forget the room for a little while and enter a kind of light trance.

As a therapist, counsellor or coach, you are using a kind of trance focus whether you know it or not. Relaxed trance (and note that not all trance is relaxing) is the gentle medium through which change work can be done more powerfully and quickly. The relaxation part of any session is also the perfect time for a client to psychologically process earlier work.

People make intuitive leaps when they are relaxed and the unconscious mind has a chance to form new possibilities and solutions. Sometimes a reframe won’t take when a person is too stressed, but can be offered and digested in the mind during a state of deep calm and rest. It’s during deep relaxation that we can encourage real insight by having the client calmly use their dissociated, ‘Observing Self’.

You can help your client inwardly rehearse new positive behaviours by talking to them gently while they are deeply calm, resting with their eyes closed. This kind of rehearsal makes it more likely a client will actually carry out the behaviours required to help them toward their goals. And there’s more.

Relaxation is also the medium through which severe PTSD and phobias are lifted. The brain works through association but sometimes, as with phobias, addictions or low self-esteem, those associations can be harmful. We can use relaxed trance states as a way to unhook damaging pattern matches.

To put it another way, relaxation isn’t just the part of the medicine that makes it ‘taste good’. This natural and wonderful mind/body medicine also packs a real ‘nutritional’ punch.

Pete learned to relax himself once I’d helped him do it a couple of times. We used deeply relaxed hypnosis to not only help his vagus nerve adjust to a new, more generally relaxed Pete, but also to de-traumatise an old memory so that his flashbacks stopped and his nightmares faded away fast.

It was during deep relaxation that I helped Pete rehearse new, healthy behaviours to help him meet his needs better in future. What he said as he left the final session was brilliant:

“I never knew therapy was so enjoyable – I actually had fun!”

This is why I strongly believe that every therapist, counsellor and coach must to know how to deeply, quickly, easily and conversationally relax their clients.

Never let a client leave a session in need in any way, ever.

References:

1 http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.2007.164.4.617
2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg
3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907136/
4 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0896627301003592
5 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159103000485
6 http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v5/n3/abs/nri1571.html
7 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253890600678004
8http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/chronic-stress-health-inflammation-genes_n_4226420.htm and http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v5/n3/abs/nri1571.html
9 https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/jas/abstracts/87/14_suppl/0870101
10 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159112001833
11 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399901003026
12 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322308015321
13 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24444431
14 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17192580
15 https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/gb-2007-8-9-r189
16 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17192580
17 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3216041/