14 Aug 2018

4 Sets of Exercises for Somatic Mindfulness

My new eBook is up! It's a series of four sets of exercises, each of which lasts five minutes. They combine movement, breathing, and attention to your body, and altogether make a nice routine for practicing somatic mindfulness in order to become more grounded, calm, and able to channel your energy how you want to. In general, practicing mindfulness can help us be more in the present moment, calm our thoughts, and help us let

5 May 2018

5 Exercises for Relief from Anxiety in Berlin

Berlin is a place where many people come for a new start, and there's a sense of freedom to create yourself here, which can be wonderful. It can also be fairly anxiety-inducing! It's easy for confidence in yourself to slip sometimes, and to doubt whether you've got what it takes, or if you're really following the right path. Berlin can also be a tough place to feel connected to others or to feel a sense

Body-Words: The Neuroscience of Body Psychology

Combining somatic elements or mindfulness with psychotherapeutic approaches has become more popular in recent years, but can sometimes seem a little mysterious. I am going to take a tour of some of the neuroscience at work here, and give some insights into the world of physical sensations, including how to move with and through them to change our emotional responses. Bodies can seem like strange, unfamiliar places at times. They can be sources of long-term

Being ‘good enough’ in a high-performance world

  You feel that stress again, seeping into a mounting restlessness, a background frustration, a drive to keep going as if the days were a race. You have so much to do; you’re not sure you can manage. You’re exhausted, but you’re not sleeping well. You feel that irritating tension in your shoulders and neck again, creeping up into a headache, a foggy cloud in which you can't think clearly. You don’t need this now. Your

Questioning the science of mind-body interactions

  I love taking a scientific approach to how the body and mind are interconnected. If you've read any of my recent articles, it's probably obvious that I love physiology, neurobiology, and biochemistry. Yes, molecules just rock my boat. Nerve and hormone pathways make me bristle with excitement. The intersection of mind states and psychology with this biological perspective is mind-blowingly fascinating to me. But this approach has it's limitations. More and more people seem to be jumping

The biology of high intensity interval training (HIIT): why it’s better than aerobic or cardio exercise for health and fitness

  So many people are interested in doing exercise or changing their fitness, and there seem to be so many different ideas around. It can be tricky to know which one to believe. At the same time, the scientific studies might be a bit much to attempt to dig into. This article aims to provide the middle ground: a summary of, and introduction to the biological process that happen during exercise, which are responsible for

The Physiology/Neurobiology of Relaxation and Trauma Therapy. Part III.

  This is the third in a series of three articles that use a physiological and neurobiological approach to explain why relaxation is so amazing, and how it allows someone to let go of old fears and be more present. In the first article, which you can find here, I looked at how to understand rest in terms of various body systems, and I described what happens to those systems during the stress and fear responses. The

The Physiology/Neurobiology of Relaxation and Trauma Therapy. Part II.

  This is the second in a series of three articles, which use a physiological and neurobiological approach to explain why relaxation is so amazing, and how it allows someone to let go of old fears and be more present. In the first article, which you can find here, I looked at how to understand rest in terms of various body systems, and I described what happens to those systems during the stress and fear responses. Now

The Physiology/Neurobiology of Relaxation and Trauma Therapy. Part I.

  Relaxation is so much more fascinating and powerful than many people think. It doesn't mean floating in a half-conscious state with your mind somewhere else. It means becoming more alive, more present, and more able to react to what is happening around you. It is a physical as well as mental state, and both of those elements - body and mind - need to be involved in order to achieve this presence, or what

The “Second Brain” in your Belly: Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Part II.

  Gut feelings are part of a complex system of interactions between the gut and the brain. Imbalances in this system create both physical conditions like IBS, and psychological ones like stress, anxiety and depression. This is the second of two articles focusing on this system. The first article, which you can read here, looked at how to think about digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, and started to explain the 'second brain' in the belly. Stress,

The “Second Brain” in your Belly: Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Part I.

  Gut feelings are part of a complex system of interactions between the gut and the brain. Imbalances in this system create both physical conditions like IBS, and psychological ones like stress, anxiety and depression. Stomachs are strange places, home to the butterfly feelings, the tightness or nausea of anxiety, inexplicable pains and bloating, the sinking feeling of having done something wrong or the emptiness of being sad. Often we’re not so keen on them. But our

Psoas: the magic muscle. Unlocking pain, stress and trauma. Part II.

  This article is the second of two parts, looking at the special role of the psoas muscle in recovering from pain, stress and trauma. You can read the first part here, which looks at the structural role of the psoas in our bodies, as well as its role in our stress and fear responses. I describe there how the psoas gets stuck and shortened through sitting for many hours, and what kind of physical effects this

Psoas: the magic muscle. Unlocking pain, stress and trauma. Part I.

  Our physical, mental and emotional states are made up of wonderfully complex, interacting systems, but within them some parts seem to play special roles. The psoas muscle is one of those, both on a physical and emotional level. Working therapeutically with the psoas is very powerful, both in terms of reducing stress and anxiety, recovering from trauma, and also reducing physical conditions, especially lower back pain, shoulder and knee pains, menstrual pain and irritable bowel syndrome. It's the only muscle that

Touch and well-being

  The word 'touch' has peculiar associations these days, and yet touch is vital to both our psychological and physical well-being. To talk of touching someone easily sounds transgressive, naughty, sexual, perverse. Touch belongs to certain worlds, activities, professions. When I tell people that my work is touching people, even when the person I'm talking to tries to control their reaction, a joke plays around the contours of their face and I can see jokes and puns quickly forming themselves on

The importance of “negative” emotions for well-being

Here's a nice article in the Scientific American on the importance of emotions that we often relate to as negative, and consequently feel guilty or ashamed about and try to suppress. We're talking about things like anger and sadness. The author, a psychotherapist, writes that: "In recent years I have noticed an increase in the number of people who feel guilty or ashamed about what they perceive to be negativity. Such reactions undoubtedly stem from

A meditation on pain

This is a stunning article on the experience of pain. Its so excellently written; it really gets inside what that experience is like for this person. For me, what is especially interesting is the description of becoming completely disembodied, out-of-body. I would love to give sessions to this person and see what happens if I teach them to manage to keep attention in the body even when this huge pain is there. So often, in

Do you ever do nothing?

How can you do nothing? Surely nothing is not something that you do, since it's something that you rather don't do. Our lives are so heavily oriented around doing and achieving, and it seems even our language is inadaquately prepared to cope with experiences that are less active: resting, having quieter time, digesting, processing.   In fact, researchers recently found it's so hard for people to do nothing, that people prefer to give themselves electric shocks than to sit

Tired and wired

Many people today struggle to switch off, to truly rest. The day can feel exhausting, coffee-fuelled, jumping from one task to the next, on edge, but then at night it's difficult to fall asleep. There is a constant feeling of needing to do more, of not having done enough, of not having enough time. It feels like a constant high level of effort is required to get everything done. It can feel like being stuck,