Fresh Approach To NLP Training


I have been experimenting for a while and having trialled it out, I am now launching NLP training in the following formats: 1-2-1 and in groups of 2 or a maximum of 3. This means that you get much more attention and focus on the little nuances that can make all the difference for you.

I am offering this as face to face training and also via Zoom. The advantage of the virtual training is that it is cheaper as there are no venue, meal and refreshment costs and no travel and accommodation costs for you. All you need is a notepad, laptop or computer to access Zoom to meet your training partner or partners and get started working together with coaching and feedback from me.

I have tested this out and it works extremely well and very cost effective for everyone. It also takes less time as we can work through the content a bit quicker with less people and you’re getting far more personal attention.

So if you’ve looked at NLP training before but been put off by the cost of training plus the travel, accommodation and food expenses on top, then this is ideal for you.

To enquire about the courses email me on simon@simonmaryan.com and please share this with your friends, family and work mates. You never know, they may just want to train with you.

Simon

 

The Use of Metaphors in Coaching


The word metaphor is from the Greek metapherein, which means to transfer or to change. For the purpose in coaching, I use the term metaphor as a symbol that captures or represents qualities of my client and of the journey he or she is making. Myths, archetypes, natural phenomena, animals, and common objects may all serve as metaphors. By way of distinction, metaphors are not are adjectives, literal descriptions, judgments, or assessments.

Metaphor is the language of archetypes, symbols, and essence. Because it is a language that is representative in nature, it simplifies and focuses perception. Our culture uses metaphors abundantly to capture an idea or essence. For example, we say things like: She has stars in her eyes; we are drowning in data; and, here’s some food for thought.

A a coach, I have found that using metaphors can capture the essence of the client and the coaching issue in a way that descriptions, cannot, because metaphors hold within them worlds of association and information. The pictures that metaphors paint are, indeed, worth a thousand words, because the images stay with us long after descriptions or data have faded from memory.

Application

Although there are countless ways to use metaphors in coaching, I share my experiences with clients using metaphors in two primary application areas: assessment and practice design.

First, an important distinction: I use metaphor to capture and explore the client’s issue, not the client as a person. A metaphor is but a lens through which to see. Just as it focuses perception, it also limits it (Morgan, 1996). If I confuse the metaphor for the person, I obscure from sight the person’s multidimensionality, the full mystery of who he or she is. When used as a lens on the coaching issue, the metaphor provides the coach with useful focus and depth.

Assessment

Metaphors have proven invaluable to me in gaining clarity about my clients and their coaching issues. For example, one of my clients had received feedback that she was seen as aggressive, arrogant, and prone to loss of control over her anger at home and in her workplace. Underneath this behaviour appeared to be an inability or unwillingness to yield, an orientation that she knew best and that her perspective was the right one. The metaphor we developed for the shift the client needed to make was to bring her from a dormant or dead oak tree to a weeping willow.

Another client came to me for leadership coaching. He seemed very together but had received feedback that he didn’t play the game according to the rules of the culture and didn’t connect well with peers and superiors. His superiors, however, thought he had the makings of a good leader. It was difficult at first to get any other impression besides how smooth and together this client seemed. Diagnostically, I used this feeling data” to uncover a metaphor that initially guided the coaching: tarp was the metaphor that surfaced. The shift that this client needed to make was to move from tarp: protective, tightly woven, and invulnerable, to tapestry: permeable, colourful, warm, yet solid.

These images were useful to me diagnostically, because they crystallised and simplified my understanding of my clients’ issues. Perhaps even more important about metaphors, however, is how much information they give back to us about the client issue. The oak to willow image was, first, a useful handle on my initial take. But what I found most amazing is how delving into the image itself could actually deepen my understanding significantly. For example, if we work with the image of oak, what else is true about an oak tree that might be true of this client? The oak holds onto many of its leaves in winter and even in death. What might this client need to let go of? The oak tree is associated with tremendous strength. Might this client be too strong, too forceful, for her own effectiveness? Then look at the weeping willow image. It sways in the wind. What might our client need to let move her? The willow weeps. Might grief be a component of the coaching journey?

Following the same brainstorming process, I began wondering about the tarp, metaphor. What was this image telling me about what I was seeing in this client’s dilemma? Tarp is efficient. This client was smooth, he did his job well, but he sensed that his superiors and colleagues were envious of him. How does that fit with tarp? That somehow they couldn’t relate? Couldn’t get through? Couldn’t see vulnerability? What else about tarp? It is useful when it is raining, but not that interesting to behold. Its texture doesn’t invite us in. What do tarps do that might relate to this client? It covers up, protects. Was this image pointing to the client’s need to raise the cover, go through life with less protection? Was this client efficient at the expense of being engaged in relationships? What is opposite of tarp? Tapestry. What does tapestry have that tarp, doesn’t? Rich texture, colour, a story, relief, warmth, weight. Can it still protect and cover? Yes, but in a different way.

As you can see, these simple images led me to many questions that might never have been explored otherwise, for metaphor is the language of our intuition. At once, it both captures reality and reveals mystery. It mirrors back to us what we already know about our clients’ issues and, yet, also shines a light on what else might be waiting to be discovered.

Practice Design
Metaphors have led me to ideas about practices that my left‑brain might not have revealed. For the first client, the oak‑willow metaphor itself was a very physical one and surfaced my intuition that the client herself might be very physically oriented. Therefore, I gave her the practice of learning aikido to give her a physical way to learn that meeting force with immovability was ineffective. In this case, I shared the metaphor with her and explored the word arrogance in the context the metaphor provided, since that was a major piece of the criticism she had received about herself at work. Arrogance comes from Latin, meaning absence of questioning. I asked her to look at the oak tree as more absolute in its stance and asked her to explore through the willow image where she might need to be more open to questioning her own assumptions or conclusions.

For the second client, the tarp, metaphor led me to develop a practice to help the client shed some of the protection that had been so vital to staying invulnerable. His first practice was a simple one of looking at the world through the eyes of others with whom he had significant contact each day. He was to imagine what they were feeling and to notice how he gathered clues about their reactions to him. He was also instructed to notice when he had a feeling connection to someone and to be as specific as possible in writing about how he thought that happened. As time went on, the metaphors proved invaluable, as I learned how much this client actually feared being in relationships with others and had found strategic ways to manage within them without giving himself away. The outcome metaphor, tapestry, helped me see a way to move forward with this client to help him create and embrace his own tapestry with its own rich colours, warmth, permeability, and stability.

The Metaphor-making Process
Metaphor making is fundamentally an intuitive process and for more intuitive coaches (for example, high Ns on the Myers‑Briggs Type Indicator), metaphors may come naturally and easily. However, I would like to make metaphors available to all coaches who would like greater access to their intuitive wisdom. The following five‑step process for accessing and working with metaphors id a great place to start.

Step 1: Be clear and open. The first step for any coach is to be clear and open when meeting your client. Listen, observe, notice your own internal reactions and what the client is not saying.

Step 2: Describe the client with regard to his or her issue. Bring the client to mind, and visualise them in the domain of life in which they are experiencing difficulty. Think about what they look like, sound like, and feel like to you. Think about their gestures, their posture, the sound of their voice, what they evoke in you when they describe their issue or their words. What three or four adjectives or phrases come to mind? If an image comes to mind at this point, you’ve got your metaphor. But if not, just work on getting a short description. Try not to censor what comes out. You’re done when you have three to four adjectives or phrases that feel like they really capture the client in their struggle.

Step 3: Free associate images with the adjectives. When you picture the client and the adjectives you’ve described them with, what images come to mind? Free associate. Don’t censor these. Note the first one(s) that come to mind. Try to work as little as possible in your rational mind. If nothing comes up, you can scan a few different areas: something from nature, characters from movies or books, myths from any culture, types of transportation, or household objects. Usually, your first images are good ones to work with. It often helps to come up with a ‘from’ image (one which captures the client as they currently relate to the world or their issue) and a ‘to’ image (one which captures the client operating as they would like to).

Step 4: Turn your focus away from the client and fully explore the metaphor. Now that you have your metaphor(s), forget about the client for a minute and simply delve into the images themselves. List all the attributes you can about them, What are the characteristics of your metaphors (for example, tarp and tapestry)? What characteristics distinguish the first image from the second? What would help something transform from the first state to the second? It is helpful to speak these associations out loud with a partner or write them down without worrying about making sense or expressing yourself eloquently.

Step 5: Bring the client back into focus. What did following the metaphor tell you about your client? In what new ways do you see the client and how you might work with them? What are the metaphor’s implications for the self‑observations and practices you will design?

Conclusion:

In working with metaphors, I have found a rich way to assess situations and design practices to help my clients. I have also experienced some lessons learned that I want to share with you.

First, be aware that the metaphor helps you to create a hypothesis about the client’s situation. It is not an absolute. As a coach I cannot claim to know what is best for my client. My job is to offer possibilities to my client. Sometimes the client rejects the possibilities that I offer them, and there is data to be gained from that experience. More metaphors may surface for you. Follow your metaphors confidently but lightly.

Second, to share or not to share?. I don’t suggest that you always share your metaphors with your clients. I don’t always share mine. In deciding to share, base your criteria on what will be useful for the client. In the oak‑to‑willow work, I shared the images and they were useful. In the tarp‑to‑tapestry work, I did not share the images.

I have shared metaphors in a few different ways. Once, I wrote a poem about a client. The metaphors surfaced in the writing. Sharing the poem with the client seemed a natural thing to do, for it opened possibilities for them. Sometimes I ask the client to watch a movie that has the metaphor embodied in a character or situation the movie depicts. I often ask my clients to read books for the same reason. Sometimes we draw the images that show up for us. Sometimes we just talk about them.

Third, if you use and share metaphors that are within your client’s current world, you may run into trouble. Why? Because the client may make it more literal than is useful. Also, you run the risk of swirling in the loop that had them stuck in the first place.

Fourth, the metaphor does not have to work completely to be useful. For example, when I thought of a weeping willow, I thought of grace, flexibility, air, and movement. That was as far as I needed to go with that metaphor as it related to that client. There are other properties of the willow, however, that may not lend themselves to understanding this client’s movement.

Fifth, it helps to talk through your metaphor with another person. I have found that my understanding of my clients and my own approaches deepens with each metaphor conversation I have. I make time to do this and it has proven to be incredibly productive for me as a coach and also as a parent to two young kids.

If you haven’t deliberately used metaphors yet, I highly recommend beginning to practise creating and applying them as often as possible and notice what effect they have on your conversations. Most of all, have fun with it.

Simon

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 🙂

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

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

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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/

Life Design


For a long time I thought I was happy with my job, I was doing what I’d set to do in joining the Royal Marines. I worked with like-minded people, got paid to stay exceptionally fit, got fed four times a day and was provided with a roof over my head. The trade-off was that I was expected to do what I was told do whether I liked it or not and, some of the things I was asked to do I really didn’t like. However I was still happy living my dream.

Or so I thought.

Continue reading Life Design

The Power of the Mind-Body Connection



I work with clients for all sorts of reasons to help them overcome and move beyond what they once believed held them back. These can be physical as well as psychological obstacles and they are always interconnected because of the mind-body link and frequently, many of these health problems occur because of a disconnect between the mind and the body due to all manner of external and internal influences. 

It never ceases to amaze me what people can achieve when they reconnect mind and body, dissolving limiting beliefs and replacing them with new empowering versions that support their new mindset and propel them into an exciting future full of possibilities.

I have been working with one particular client this year who has kindly sent me this testimonial and allowed me to share it with you. Mandy has worked incredibly hard on adapting her new found skills and beliefs in order to change her self perception, this has enabled her to challenge her old way of thinking and push way beyond those old boundaries and extend them creating a new field of opportunities and experiences. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to see happening over the last few months. I do want to add that this has been in conjunction with Mandy discussing things with her GP, which is something I strongly recommend when any form of medication and existing treatment is involved.

I hope this provides some of you with the inspiration and motivation to do something similar for yourselves. 

Take it away Mandy:
Life Design / Brain2Body – Amanda Phillipson 

When I first started working with Simon I was suffering from CFS / ME. Having taken a year off I’d made it back to work with a combination of pacing and Graded Exercise Therapy but my quality of life was still poor as I didn’t have the energy to do anything else. Now, 5 months afternoon beginning Simon’s programme, I am free of CFS / ME and enjoying rebuilding my life, living my life the way I want to and being able to explore new possibilities. I’ve never said this about anything I’ve ever done before, but this programme has quite literally turned my life around and enabled me to enjoy life again.

So if you’re feeling stuck, feel that the way you are is just how it is always going to be, think again. Challenge yourself, challenge the medical system to do more for you than the bare minimum to get you going. Do not accept the status quo when it comes to your health and well being, your life. Your life is there to be lived so get out there and find what you need that enables you to live it to its fullest because we only get one shot at it. Make it count.

Have a great week.

Simon

The Language of Success


Now I realise that this may sound a little odd to some of you, but often, “trying harder” doesn’t always make things better or solve your problems. Sometimes you need to do something radically different to in order achieve your goals.When you find yourself stuck in one spot for too long you often need to break out of your comfort zone or pattern of behaviour in order to get to where you want to go.


This is the case with many things including work, relationships and also your physical fitness.

Whats really interesting (and encouraging) is that this does NOT always mean working harder.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you don’t need to work hard to achieve your goals, in fact, if the goal/s set yourself are enough of a stretch then you will have to work hard for sure, you will also have to work smart too. I love the quote from Gary Player, the golfer renowned for being able to get himself out of trouble with consummate ease, when he overheard a guy in the crowd say, “he is so lucky” and Gary Player replied, “It’s funny, the more I practice the luckier I get.”

It’s just that sometimes working harder is not the right answer to being successful, sometimes we just need to work smarter.

Not everything can be fixed with a hammer, no matter how hard you swing, sometimes you need a different tool.

Over the past two decades I have worked with thousands of people both online and in person and along the way I have discovered little words/phrases that can pretty much predict a persons success or failure.

In fact, whenever I hear these words I can pretty much guarantee that the person saying them will not be successful.

These words are:

  • I’ll try to get the work done.
  • I’ll try to make healthy food choices.
  • I’ll try to start exercise or exercise more often.
  • I’ll try to get to bed earlier.
  • I hope so.
  • I hope I can do it.
  • I hope I can achieve that.
  • I hope I’ll make it.

Words and phrases like this tend to lead us to presuppose that we will fail and that we don’t really believe that we can achieve, so when we don’t we aren’t too disappointed. In essence we set ourselves up for failure.

If these are your answer to ANYTHING that you know you must do in order to achieve your goal, then I suggest you revisit just how important your goal is to you and listen to the kinds of words and phrases you use and write when talking about your goals.

Small changes in how you think, speak and write can make a huge difference to your ability to succeed.

I want you to succeed and I know that you can when you set your mind on the track from the beginning.

Here’s to your success.

Hypnosis and Anti-Aging


stress_ball-300x300newV3

This is an interesting topic not just from a hypnosis perspective but also from a nutritional stand point also. My business is about mind-body health and I regularly work with clients to whom I teach the importance of good nutrition and positive mindset. The combination of what goes into and out of our minds is as important as the food we put into our bodies on a daily basis, and these two key areas can have a hugely negative or positive effect on our ability to cope with stress and the effects that stress hormones can have on our skin and our internal systems.

As always I will leave you to read and make your own conclusion based on the findings below.

Study 1: Self-Hypnosis Can Lower Stress-Related Hormones and Increase Anti-Aging Hormone
Stress Reducing Regulative Effects of Integrated Mental Training With Self-Hypnosis on the Secretion of Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S) and Cortisol in Plasma: A Pilot Study
http://www.foundationforpositivementalhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/contemporary-hypnosis-stress-reducing-DHEA-2006.pdf

Results: At the end of the study it was shown that the hypnosis group had increased their DHEA-S levels by 16% and reduced their cortisol levels by 12.3% when compared to the control group. It was also noted that those in the hypnosis group now had DHEA-S levels equivalent to someone who was 5 to 10 years younger. The authors conclude that frequent application of a self-hypnosis program several days a week was successful in changing the adrenal secretion of DHEA-S and cortisol – and can have a beneficial effect on stress reduction, emotional stability, performance and health outcomes.

Notes: This study looked at whether or not self-hypnosis could be used to lower the stress-related hormone cortisol and raise the anti-aging hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S). Twelve healthy subjects were recruited and randomly assigned to a control and a self-hypnosis group. Those in the self-hypnosis group were brought together and taught self-hypnosis and mental training to reduce cortisol levels and increase DHEA-S. They were then asked to integrate these techniques into their daily life for the next six-months. The study authors note that: (a) the most important and quantitative dominating stress hormone in the body is the adrenal hormone cortisol; (b) DHEA-S has been considered as a marker for biological aging; (c) falling concentrations of DHEA-S have been observed in both mental and psychological stress and physical illness; (d) low concentrations of DHEA-S in blood have been correlated with many age-related diseases; (e) increased plasma DHEA-S has been connected with a reduction in age-related diseases and alleviated chronic stress-load. Participants in the self-hypnosis group were taught basic relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques.

Contemporary Hypnosis, May 2006, Vol. 23(3):101-11024
By: Johansson B, Uneståhl LE. 1 Scandinavian International University, Sweden, 2 Örebro University, Sweden

What Are Your Biggest Challenges Right Now?


2013-11-26 21.58.54

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be designing something completely new and I’d like to ask you what you really want to change about your life.

I’d really appreciate it if you could take just a few minutes to tell me what is your single biggest challenge you’re struggling with in your life right now, it would mean the world to me AND even more importantly I’ll be able to use that information to create webinars and blog posts around topics you want to know more about.

http://SimonMaryan.formstack.com/forms/simonmaryan_copy

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and thank you if you choose to take the survey as it may help a whole load of other people. How great a start to the week would that be 🙂

Have a fantastic week

Simon