Topic: Change

The feelings are there anyway

It’s OK to feel your feelings… but then what?

I have long been struck by how much we try not to feel. How much I try not to feel. How we are surrounded by things which orchestrate, choreograph our feelings and yet, we aim to avoid feeling. Or, we passionately express our feelings in peculiar places like on the social media post of someone we’ve never met or rant at the bus driver.

Recently, I read this from Elisabeth Brooke’s book Herbal Therapy for Women (a book to which I turn often to guide me on using herbs to support a patient from an emotional perspective).

In our culture, we are not encouraged to express our feelings – it is more acceptable to remain cool and logical and not rant and rave.

Elisabeth Brooke, Herbal Therapy for Women (1992)

Since the writing of the book, I think that this has changed and now we are bombarded with images of people overwhelmed with emotion in times of extremity – reality TV is full of emotive scenarios and people being plunged into places which expose them to their fears. I am not sure this counts. These are large feelings in usually unreal situations such as swimming under ice or dropping off a cliff with some elastic around you. These are the choreographed spaces where you would be fool NOT to feel terrified as it goes against every grain of our survival instinct to do these things.

But, what Elisabeth is talking about is the day-to-day feelings which we push down in order not to be seen a certain way, or to appear miserable/complaining/negative… there’s a long list of the things we’d rather not be seen to be. But, they are all very real daily experiences some of which are messages which need to be heard.

‘Messages which need to be heard’. Messages which we often try to ignore, push down or hope will just go away. Messages from our bodies. Messages from our hearts. And, this is what Elisabeth goes on to say:

From a health point of view, this is a disaster as the feelings are there anyway, whether they are expressed or not.

Elisabeth Brooke, Herbal Therapy for Women (1992)

This is what struck me so forcefully; “…the feelings are there anyway…” Those feelings are there anyway. You have those feelings whether you choose to acknowledge them or not, whether they are expressed or not. Whether we express them appropriately or not. Whether we dish them out to whichever poor soul gets in the way or not. They are there anyway.

This is obvious and logical. But, for some reason, it has struck me as new. And, it has given me ready pause for thought. Each time we fight down our feelings, or they subside, or we squash them out of existence, we are not releasing them, we are not healthfully acknowledging them, we are trying to pretend they are not there.

This. This is what’s so important to me. As, it is my strong belief that those squashed down feelings are not lying passively in a forgotten corner, they have not become benign because they are ignored. I believe that they are on many levels creating a kind of chaos in physical and emotional health. And this is the crux of how how I want to be supported in my journey. And, it is the way I aim to support the people who come to me. To release those things which are creating internal havoc in our systems. Whether it is a light niggly symptom or a swathe of raw emotion, they almost invariably have come from a place within our psyche. We are all one. There is no mind, body, spirit. It is all one.

So, in our defense, we set up all kinds of protective mechanisms against re-feeling or re-experiencing whatever it was which caused us that first pain. This is normal and a predictable response – we are programmed for survival. And, whilst they worked and served us well for that instance, they rarely do once it is over. But, we fiercely protect ourselves against pain and keep those protections in place because they worked that first time.

I feel. I feel deeply and often. It’s sometimes overwhelming. It’s sometimes cathartic but it’s always there. Day-to-day feelings as well as feelings from old experiences and protections. I think this is normal. Am I more attuned to my feelings? Some of them but certainly not all of them. Do I try to push down and ignore my deeper, more hurt parts of my self? Of course. Does this work out for me? No, not really.

But, just like you, I am often afraid of my feelings. And, it’s all very well being told it’s OK to feel them, but what if they overwhelm me, create more trouble, are too much, will destroy those around me or I can’t cope with them? What then?

And, you can feel it coming, can’t you? The moral of this story.

Well, I am not sure I have one. It’s a journey I am still on. A journey I anticipate will be with me the rest of my life. But I am trawling the murky depths. I am exploring what it is like to feel my feels. And, I am finding out that they don’t destroy me or anyone around me as long as I don’t act out on them. And, that’s the key. I have learned that feeling is one thing. Acting out and trying to give them to someone else is quite another!

So, what do I do? I think. I feel. I tap and I use herbs. All of these things have the power to shift and change my experience of the old, the new and the current space.

And, I am exploring new modalities, ways of thinking and being, ways of understanding our inner world and this is a wonderful journey.

I am not going to stop you being too afraid to face your feels. I don’t have that power but if you are ready to take that first step towards lifting your life out of those old feel patterns get in touch.

Move Mountains with me

National Stress Awareness Week

How I reduce your stress with herbs and EFT

So, we all know how it feels to be stressed. We all know what it’s like in our bodies, in our minds and how it impacts on us.

Or, do we?

Do you notice the relentless micro-stressors in your daily life? Do you feel the constant onslaught of more things to do and get done, more blips on your phone nagging at you, your children tugging your sleeve wanting things and maybe your partner asking for things from you too?

Sometimes, you will and you feel ok about it and sometimes, it all builds up into TOO MUCH and that’s when we might eg shout at someone we love and then feel guilty. It’s a relentless cycle sometimes.

How can herbs help me with that? That’s just in my head, isn’t it? It’s up to me to be more controlled and in control of myself. Right?

How’s that been going for you?

Adaptogens

As a herbalist, I have an entire armoury of wonderful medicines at my disposal to support you. There are different ways of approaching it. If you are feeling stressed and that’s the predominant feature, I can prescribe one out of many different adaptogens. These literally do what they say – they assist your mind and body adapt to stress.

My most recent work with a patient who is taking the lovely adaptogen Withania somnifera has been remarkable. Withania is indicated in many scenarios but particularly for the ‘tired and wired’ and can be brilliant for busy, working mums. We’re also using EFT-tapping and she’s finding the ramifications of the double-pronged approach and subtle changes to be really far-reaching:

  • She is calmer at work, choosing to lead with love (she’s in what she describes as a ruthless industry)
  • She has told me that she has chosen the humble path with her husband and that an argument was diffused and she felt much stronger and less petty

These changes are not directed by me, she is growing them from within her as she feels stronger and more at peace. How much more peaceful (and less stressful) are the choice of humility and love? Those outcomes may not completely resonate for you but these outcomes feel right for this person.

Don’t forget nervines…

A medicinal preparation, usually of herbal origin, which is said to act on the nervous system, reduce anxiety and tension (nervine relaxant), and stimulate or strengthen neural function.

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/nervine

Nervines calm you by soothing and nourishing the nervous system. We have a wide variety of nervine herbs with subtly differing actions – some also support the digestion, some support the gynaecological system, some the muscularskeletal system and others the cardiovascular system. I choose the herbs which align most closely with your experience. Is feeling stressed sending your blood pressure through the roof? There’s a herb for that. Are you getting palpitations when you’re uptight? There’s a herb for that. Do you get bloating in your belly? There’s loads of herbs for that!

I would use a nervous system trophorestorative when someone’s body is far out of whack with what would be considered normal rhythms and responses. Perhaps you’re a hypervigilant new mum who can’t fall asleep as every noise triggers an ‘alarm’ response preventing the ‘permission’ to sink into sleep. Or a distressed student who is feeling totally overwhelmed and panicked by the volume of work they have to tackle and the upcoming assessments and deadlines. Maybe the business person who lies awake half the night, then eventually oversleeps and ends up dashing for the train every morning…

Maybe one of those describes you?

When we work together and using herbs and healthful food choices to nudge the body back to a state of wellness and the EFT to clear out habitual patterns of emotional responses, we can, almost literally, move mountains. Those old thought patterns get tapped away so that the herbally nourished body can flourish.

I have seen it time and again. When our frenetic brains lead the way and we forget our bodies, then we can move out of balance and into a situation of illness. Often something with no name but a collection of life-impacting symptoms. Maybe it’s a dodgy digestion, hurting head, aches and pains, tired all the time…? There are so many annoying ways our clever body devises to send out the SOS signals. My job is to hear them and help you to find the best ways to soothe them and take notice in a constructive, reparative way.

Sounds difficult? Not got time? We do it in ways which work for you and with your routines. Baby steps or giant leaps, whatever you need and are ready for. There is no set path as it is entirely tailored to you. Every prescription is different. Every bit of advice on food and lifestyle. Each takes into account what you can do and manage. This mountain is not moved in one day and not by you on your own. We’re in this together, picking up the pebbles and step-by-step, moving your mountain.

Let’s do it! Contact me to support you in choosing the pebbles to move to become a less stressed and healthier you.

My story: Anxiety

“I had heard people talk about feeling anxious and thought it sounded a bit feeble, as though they were being weak”

Then, I found myself in a situation where my adrenaline was surging as though I were about to be run over by a car, that instant, all day and every day for months. This was a lot more than being a ‘bit worried’ about something.

I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I couldn’t understand why this thing had landed upon me. I had no idea what to do about it. And, this was with a BSc (Hons) degree in herbal medicine! I felt utterly under the control of this physiological happening and it was terrifying.

I lost a ton of weight as food looked like mud, tasted worse and the smell of it triggered nausea in me. I feared that I had broken part of my body’s functioning. It was desparate. I was desparate. And, nothing I did, or tried to get help with, helped me in any way. The first time, I am not sure how it went away but, eventually, it did and I became me again.

Recently, I have had a 5-day spell of the same feelings. I felt horrified when it kicked off, remembering that it went on for months. I had knots in my stomach, my scalp was prickling and cold, my body was gripped with vice-like tension and my stomach lurched at every thought which was anything other than as benign as ‘I’ll go and wash my hands’. My guts were gurgling. Food threatened to come back up. Anything smelly made me want to vomit. My stomach felt like it was in my mouth all the time and the area of my chest around my heart chakra was prickly and it felt prickly down my arm too.

Being a well-resourced person, I upped my Magnesium dosages which felt good. I had a shiatsu appointment to clear some of the energy and tension. I made up a Bach Flower Remedies combination which was very holding and supportive. I put together herbs to calm my nervous system, nourish my adrenal glands and bring me a sense of being loved. They all helped massively and got me through the day, enabled me to function. BUT, I was still in the grip of this frequently surging adrenaline-anxiety and its symptoms. I could bring them down but not ‘get rid of them’. I couldn’t seem to stop them being triggered. I couldn’t find a place of personal safety which allowed my body to stand down. To stop preparing me to fight or flee for my life. And, I was exhausted. It is exhausting feeling as though you are constantly in peril.

So, what did I do? I used EFT-tapping. I worked with a colleague and we tapped together on the feelings in my body, the things I thought might be at the root of it.

And, we got there! I had that moment of clear revelation when you know you’ve hit the nail on the head. It took one hour. Just one hour. It’s not always that quick but sometimes, it really is.

I won’t go into the deeper details but suffice to say, it was linked to an event in my past which was so powerful that it made me feel incapable of making decisions for myself. That I needed approval for everything to be sure of not getting it wrong and that this single episode in my past had such a grip on my subconscious that it had the power to leave me a quivering mess. And, I really felt a mess. Such an incomprehensibly out of control mess.

The beauty of EFT-tapping is that alongside finding this very core event (which triggered the unconscious belief that I was not capable of making good/right decisions for myself), I could tap on the feelings, the sensations in my body and release them. Some things didn’t go right away and the day after I was left with some residual bodily sensations. But, most importantly, when I awoke, I wasn’t frightened, I wasn’t cowed, I felt elated. I felt that sense of freedom that comes when you are unshackled from an invisible weight which has held you down for decades. Held me down.

I love how powerful EFT-tapping is.

If you would like to work on the things which are holding you down, keeping your body in a stuck place, get in touch.

A-ha moments

Of all the things I value the most highly, it is the discovery of a greater understanding of what makes me tick. Over the years, I have explored many different mind and body techniques, EFT-tapping, counselling, therapy, CBT, Alexander Technique, Shiatsu, massage, osteopathy, craniosacral and more.

The moments of “A-HA!” which I remember the most clearly are the ones I have unearthed myself.

The first moment of a-ha

When I learned from Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies Quiz that I am an Obliger, it seemed incredible to me that all those years of therapy had failed to reveal to me that the reason I struggled so hard with taking up a new habit or actually getting round to creating my own website was not laziness. Falling into the ‘Obliger’ tendency which makes me an excellent employee as I respond primarily to external motivators. And, new habits are not externally driven and, clearly, neither was my website (although I got there in the end!)

I couldn’t believe that after all this soul searching, naval gazing and analysis, that such a simple facet of my personality could be new to me. It was a huge relief to find that there was a driver behind it and knowing about it helped me to find effective strategies to get round it. PHEW!

I ask all my patients and clients to take this quiz as it is really helpful knowing what drives each person to make changes. With Ogliber patients I am more likely to say ‘do this X times per week by the next time I see you’. If I said that to a Rebel or a Questionner, I would get nowhere! With a Rebel I sow a seed with choices, with a Questionner, I would ask them to research a few different options and then plump for the one they prefer. With upholders, I have to be careful not to ask too much and that what I ask of them doesn’t clash with their own requirements of themself.

I love this framework and have found it really interesting working with myself knowing this aspect of myself.

The second a-ha moment

This one is all about clutter. I have been untidy all my life. I have been a very effective medical secretary and administrator with fabulous systems in place but incapable of keeping my own spaces tidy. Strangely, although this one is still at the stage of unfurling, I know that once I can take on board the fullness of the implications, this will change my life (and my partner’s – a minimalist who hates clutter…) The root of it is that I need to have things right in front of me. Those intensely detailed filing systems which I love -in theory- because they appeal to my very organised and methodical brain simply don’t work for me because I need things to be out. The things I use day-to-day need to be in front of my eyes.

I learned this from Cassandra Aarssen’s Clutter bug quiz where I came out as a Butterfly! I was really shocked. I love the systems of a cricket but I never stick to them and it would appear that this is because I need things simple and right in front of me. Put it tidily away in a drawer? It’ll never been seen again. A truly out of sight, out of mind person! Who’da thunk it?

Actually, I am still not sure I believe it but, I am quite excited about adapting my ‘tidying’ styles to this more visual approach to see what happens. And, I have already arranged my pretty notebooks so that I can see them rather than trapping them in a drawer and forgetting which one is for which project.

What have you discovered about yourself which felt revolutionary/revelatory to your life? Email me at: lucy.blunden.botanicals@gmail.com to let me know

Change

I talked in my blog on joyous practise about playing the violin. I have played since I was a child of just 8 years old.

Recently, I used my lack of playing during the Covid-19 lockdown to wipe the violin slate clean. Going back and picking it up after not playing for over a year meant I could really feel the bodily contortions I inadvertently get myself into. All the habitual tensions, the “oh no, this will sound really dreadful” downward negative judgements beginning before the bow hads even hit the string. 

And, I’ll be completely honest it did sounds dreadful. It sounded awful because my ear was not as out of practise as my fingers and my musician’s critical faculties were in fine fettle. And, it sounded dreadful because I was not able to offer myself the compassion I would to others.

How to wipe the slate clean?

I’ve started Alexander Technique lessons with Julia Duschenes in St Albans. Alexander Technique is a form of body re-education, a way to ‘get out of your own way’, to notice tension and release what’s not needed. Julia’s marvellous AND she plays a stringed instrument AND she works with lots of string players. She is helping me re-build my body and change my body’s reflex response to the violin. I don’t have to take up a ‘violin posture’ before I’ve even lifted it out the case. I don’t have to assume it’ll be hard work, tense, self-critical, not good enough. What joy it is to begin to remove those things from my playing. 

During a recent weekend of playing, I’ve noticed the “argh, that’s a lot of very fast notes” tightening in my left hand and aimed to let go of as much of it as I could. I’ve released the “got to be perfect” self-pressure and whilst the habit is not yet gone, it was so joyful to have those moments of freedom, enjoyment and a sense of largesse in my playing.

And, beginning to be freed from my own fearful sense of being ‘not good enough’ I could enjoy being what I am. Fancy that. Enjoying being what I am, in this moment.

So, what am I actually doing?

I’m inviting change. It’s not easy. There are a lot of years of withheld tears in those muscular habits, lots of time suffering from the ‘not good enough’ belief and years of believing that musicians strive for something they’ll never attain: perfection. In truth, I won’t reach that place of CD perfection because I’m a human being not a robot, I don’t practise 4+ hours per day, every day and I don’t want to. It’s simply not that important to me. I have chosen another path. So, my musical mind, my musical body is learning to let go of that pressure and accept that good enough really is.

Why change?

As with any change, noticing a way to be positively different is key. Start interrupting the usual pathway and asking how it could be different. I learned this from Julia. What now sounds soo obvious, and just wasn’t a few short weeks ago, is changing from self-flagellating for a mistake and feeling worthless as a result of that mistake to asking how did it happen and what could I do differently to avoid it next time? Using curiosity rather than harsh self-judgement. Being my own teacher rather than judge and jury.

Why write about change?

I ask my patients to be ready to, and support them in becoming ready for, change. It might sound obvious that there’ll be change but it’s generally the hardest part. We like the way we do things. That’s why we do them that way. We might not see the connection between the outcome and some of our actions and choices. So, it is my job to aid in seeing things differently. Or, we might feel powerless to make positive changes as we feel as though we are losing something important, secure and familiar. But, it is only in adopting changes that we can bring about change.

If we want our bodies to BE different, we have to DO different

Lucy Blunden

My role is to engage you in those changes, enable you to feel it’s possible and help you notice that it feels good when you stick with it.
Having spent years fighting myself over habits which were doing me no good, I really understand how hard it can be to being about change. I recognise that change requires all sorts of different parts of us and sometimes those around us to be on board. Coralling all of those things can be tricky as well. Taking baby steps with my guidance will help you find your way forward moving towards those changes you desire. This is one of the things which I love about my job; helping people to find that a-ha moment enabling them to step into the new concepts positively and with confidence.