How an ancient shamanic ceremony healed this harpist’s depression

chloe harp1Meet Chloe, a travelling harpist who lives out of a van with her partner Scott. If you’ve seen her enchanting an audience with her angelic tones you might be surprised to find that this happy-go-lucky free spirit has a history of depression.

Chloe hit rock bottom in 2014 after six years in a toxic relationship. She says her feelings of darkness and despair were so intense that it’s sometimes hard to talk about it. But yesterday she bravely shared her story with The Truth about Mental Health, and it’s nothing short of amazing!

For Chloe, western psychology, psychotherapy and other popular healing modalities helped her cope but ultimately didn’t heal her at the core. In her darkest hours she felt called to something radically different… Or it called her… And it’s called Ayahuasca: an ancient shamanic medicine from the Amazon!

Its psychedelic properties are not for the faint of heart but many swear by it’s transformative powers. In this fascinating Q & A discussion Chloe shares her journey before and after experiencing this life changing traditional medicine.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, career path and lifestyle.

I’m 26 years old, and grew up in Newtown, Sydney. My personal background has taken many twists and turns over the years so I’ll try to sum it up as best I can. I remember my early years to be particularly bright and at my most optimal. I had a close and strong connection to what some might call spirit.

That connection provided me with a foundation of bliss-fullness and a deep knowing of my own value and place within the universe.

It was experienced as an unwavering source of truth, love, and connection that completely fulfilled me up until the age of 6. Being connected to truth was both a blessing and a curse. It was beautiful to experience it directly, but it became increasingly more difficult to live with in the world as I could clearly perceive and feel people’s blockages and areas of denial which became incredibly frustrating.

Of course I was never received very well as I would naively try to help people by openly talking about the very things people tried so hard to hide and deny. Unfortunately, I was ignorant to the world I was born into, and didn’t realise that outwardly expressing my overwhelming joy to be alive was extremely irritating to many people who weren’t able to access that level of joy.

This intolerance for my natural expression began in my family and then extended out into school where I would be singled out for many years.

I was fortunate enough that my mother had introduced me to the piano at the age of five, the same year I began school. Music became my refuge to not only cope with things like bullying, but to give me a sense of worthiness and purpose when friends, family and teachers would reflect back to me otherwise. It became a lifeline for me. Since then I have been dedicating my time towards music and recently the Harp. My experiences with music has inspired me to use it for therapeutic means in the future.

Since the age of 17 I started studying psychotherapy and alternative healing modalities to use as coping mechanisms, as I had experienced many let downs in the psychologists I was appointed to. This sparked a deep curiosity and inspiration within me to heal myself rather than turning to modern western approaches.

Currently I am in the early stages of working on creating a conscious digital production company with my partner. Later this year I will have become a qualified Kambo practitioner. For those who don’t know, Kambo is a complimentary shamanic medicine used alongside ayahuasca.

The next year will involve my partner and I travelling to places such as Thailand to run Kambo retreats and to learn about sustainable agriculture and energy methods so we can contribute this knowledge towards some exciting future projects that we are working towards.

What was your life like before taking Ayahuasca? Was there a particular catalyst or series of events that lead up to taking this medicine?

My life before Ayahuasca was nothing short of grim, and sometimes difficult to talk about. When I graduated high school, my parents went through a messy divorce in the same year. At the time I had no where to live and so I decided it would be best to move in with my high school boyfriend at the time.

Within the first few months it became very apparent to others around me that my relationship was hostile and abusive. This abusive behaviour was normalised very quickly as I moved in with him, as denial was very prominent within his family. So whenever I expressed my objections towards my boyfriends behaviour, it was ‘gaslighted’ so to speak, and I was treated as a walking overreaction by both himself and his family. I didn’t know at the time that this was also the way my father treated me so I was unable to distinguish this behaviour as abusive.

I stayed with this man for over six years and had tolerated daily abuse, manipulation and fights with him until I had broken down into a shell of a human being. It was an unfortunate stretch of events that reflected my relationship with my father, and my self esteem was so low that any strong feelings I had at the time were ignored by those around me and thus ignored within myself.

By the end of it I no longer felt emotion, I had put on weight, and my voice had vanished. At a certain point I knew I was in big trouble and began looking for a healing retreat. I stumbled across Ayahuasca testimonials on YouTube. When I found it, I knew immediately that I was going to embark on a journey to Peru.

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An ayahuasca brew being prepared by a shaman

At the same time I discovered Ayahuasca I had already booked flights and hotels with my partner and his friends to the U.S, so I called my travel agent and asked him to do his best to get most of my money back.

I was lucky enough to get my flights back on credit but at the same time I had lost over $4000. But It didn’t matter to me. I told the travel agent to transfer all my flight credits to Iquitos, Peru.

I broke up with my boyfriend, moved out, and got on the plane a month afterwards. At the time I felt like I couldn’t be honest with my family about what I was doing due to the fact that my family are quite conventional. My mother is a midwife and my sister is a nurse who are both passionate advocates for western medicine, so I decided to keep my intentions to do Ayahuasca a secret. So nobody I knew at the time was aware of what I was doing in Peru.

Tell me a little bit about the experience of your first Ayahuasca journey. What impact did it have on your mental health and wellbeing? 

I remember my first time taking Ayahuasca distinctly. I was in a group retreat with around 13 people in the circle. Being the youngest member and my first time being overseas by myself, I had accumulated all sorts of feelings of uncertainty and vulnerabilities. When it was my turn to drink the medicine, my hands were so shaken that I almost spilt it. I sat back down and got myself into ‘game mode’ as best as I could. The next ten minutes was spent calming my nerves and learning to trust the process. Here’s where it can be a little difficult to comprehend and a little crazy to most people so bare with me.

After ten minutes I remember a faint light blue grid coming through the back of my eyelids. It slowly started to form a dmt-like “blueprint” of the room that shaped itself like a Fibonacci sequence that began within me, and spiraled outward for as far as I could perceive. A blue print is normally, in common thinking something that is not ‘real’ where as this Fibonacci structure was clearly representative of the structure of reality itself. It showed me that the physical world before me was simply an overlaying ‘hologram’.

I began to see and feel reality itself to be something that exists underneath and beyond the illusion of physical matter. I experienced this as the feeling of relief, as if a blindfold had been removed. The closer to reality I became, the more at home and at peace I felt.
Resting into this relief, I noticed some more faint figures at the front of my eyes. They looked like moving blobs of energy but as I looked closer they became recognisable as a group of beings waving at me. I couldn’t perceive them very clearly but from what I could make out, they had a very close appearance to those of aboriginal spirit artworks.

As they drew closer to me it looked like they were right in front of me, welcoming me as a family member and attempting to hug me. Their presence was incredibly loving and deeply peaceful. They proceeded to speak to me energetically, comforting me at the early stages by saying things such as “Congratulations, you did it! Don’t worry or fear anything, you are safe with us. We’re so happy you made it. Thank you for coming. You are protected”. It was like they had a deep knowing of my path, my journey and had followed me up until this point.

As they were speaking to me they were lovingly pulling flower wreaths/garlands over my head and putting flowers in my hair. I could actually feel them stroking my face. I started to perceive some of the spirits of the jungle as large insect-type beings and tree-spirits with really long arms. After enjoying this for what would have been ten minutes in real time (time doesn’t exist on Ayahuasca) the spirits began waving their arms towards my bucket. They said it was time to purge. At this point I didn’t even feel the need to purge and wasn’t sure if it was the right time.

About a minute afterwards I felt the deepest sense of nausea at the pit of my stomach. It was a very confronting experience as you could actually perceive viscerally the painful emotions as nausea and vis versa. There was no separation between the two. I perceived spirit of Ayahuasca whisking around my body and gathering all the pain she could find in my stomach. I bargained with her for over an hour, asking her to give me some time as I was not emotionally ready to purge yet. She would ask me every five minutes, “Are you ready yet?” And I would ask her for more time.

After an hour of negotiating back and forth I finally said, “okay, go now” and a few seconds later purging everything I had. After this I couldn’t feel the medicine nor could I perceive my spirit friends, so I went back for a second dose of Ayahuasca. The rest of the night was spent purging and saying hello to different jungle spirits, spirit animals and aliens. I also got shown a vision of a Harp, which I later bought and has been the greatest source of my fulfillment.

The next morning my debilitating depression had left me completely. The jungle had a vibrancy to it and everything felt alive. I had access to a deeper part of myself and my experience. I knew that morning that I was going to be okay.

Have you taken it since and did it help you further? What were the subsequent experiences like? Are you planning on taking it again?

Since my first Ayahuasca experience two years ago I have taken the medicine 12 times. The second time I went to Guatemala to a retreat for over two months. Except this time I had more unpleasant and gritty experiences than I did positive.

The most painful experience I had was after doing a two week traditional ‘Dieta’ that involved being in isolation in a tiny hut in the thick jungle with no walls, only eating brown rice and boiled plantains. I wasn’t allowed to speak to anybody with exception to the shaman’s check ups every few days.

At the end of this two weeks I was so starved and vulnerable having not spoken to anyone that when they told me to attend an Ayahuasca session, I broke down crying for the full 9 hours that it lasted. I felt so alone and all of my childhood pain of being an outcast came up at once. The shaman did his best to comfort me the majority of the time.

Most of my experiences in Guatemala were dealing with intense feelings of pain, isolation, paranoia and father wounds. However this was also the most life changing experience and I came home completely transformed.

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The moment of leaving the retreat became a magical synchronicity of flowing events and coincidentally meeting people along the rest of my travels who were recently introduced to the idea of Ayahuasca and were thinking about doing it. Life turned around from the perspective of “What can life offer me?” to “How am I supposed to help this person right now?” I found myself continuously aligning with people who needed to had heard of Ayahuasca and needed to learn more about the medicine.

Long story short, I found it much easier to be in the right place at the right time.
At the moment I am not planning on taking Ayahuasca anytime soon as I don’t feel called to it. I also have been doing Kambo regularly on myself which seems to be doing a very similar job to Ayahuasca.

Do you have any recommendations or tips for others considering taking Ayahuasca?

It might sound harsh, but If you’re someone who doesn’t want to continue tolerating the weight of your pain, and is willing to do whatever it takes to walk through it, then you know you are ready. Ayahuasca is a big commitment with big payoffs if you set your intention clearly to walk through any painful situation to heal.

If you are someone who is content in perpetuating a destructive cycle on a daily basis to escape your pain then you are definitely not ready to face the pain that Ayahuasca will bring you. Many people seem to be under the impression that the medicine will do the work for them and that it will be the answer for a quick fix which couldn’t be further from the truth.

I also suggest that if you do decide to take Ayahuasca in the future and are experiencing very vivid and painful emotions, then do your best to let Ayahuasca take you there. She will continue to lovingly pull you down into the feelings and you won’t have any control over it, so to make the session is productive it’s just best to surrender to the dive. Emotions and feelings can’t kill you, and you will pop out the other side as a brand new human if you just trust the process.

I recommend doing your research, and ensuring that you have the best shaman available. The first retreat I went to was not an experienced shaman and so many issues came up in the group that he was not able to deal with appropriately. So make sure you prioritise the shaman first, and the facilities second. Other then that, enjoy the ride!

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“What helped me”.. a powerful way to help someone

What helped

I had an “a ha” moment today when I realized why a well intentioned pep talk can sometimes rub me up the wrong way. Take this motivational piece I just saw on a facebook post today:

“The great myth is that you need money, time education, love, expensive therapy, a house a fill in the blank to get the happiness you want. I’m here to tell you you need nothing other than what is in your heart. …Personal growth, fulfillment, success and even happiness be it personal or professional are not for the lazy for the faint of heart for the victim for the ones who pass the buck. Change is for the warrior…” 

Here’s someone telling you what’s true.. in summary, you don’t need anything except your heart.. don’t be a victim. But what happens if someone is going through a terrible experience and they truly do feel like a victim. I’ll use an extreme example to get my point across.

Say someone has just left their husband after years of domestic violence. Say they have moved to a homeless shelter and feeling mentally destroyed, broken and severely depressed. The above quote is probably not going to resonate or be helpful. It might be ultimately true in the long run but it’s not going to get the point across. How different does it sound when expressed in this way:

“What helped me when I was living in a homeless shelter was going into my heart. At my worst moment in life I realised I could always access my heart, and in my heart space I found a warrior. From that place I eventually found internal happiness” 

See what I mean?

People get really preachy about a whole number of things but if it begins with “what helped me” it just has that extra zing, especially if the person is walking the talk.

So what helps me and am I walking the talk? Well, I went for a long walk today and I came across this cute Kookaburra. Walking in nature is one of the best things for mental health in my opinion… and exercise generally. It works wonders. Hang on.. I should rephrase that..

What helped me avoid going totally insane today after doing annoying job applications was a brisk walk along the plenty river. I befriended this cute kookaburra and felt happy observing his sense of stillness and clam. When I returned home I looked up the spiritual meaning behind seeing one. (some people believe when animals appear in your life it has a special meaning. You can read about totem animals here)

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Meaning – If the Kookaburra has flown into your life it can help you to hunt down your truths, and these truths enable you to recognise your inner strength. In turn you are able to teach your truths to others, and also help others to find and recognise their own truths.

You may find yourself teaching others in an informal setting, by sharing your passions and beliefs with others. The Kookaburra encourages us to laugh as a form of healing. Laughter can be a positive force for the body, even when we force it and don’t really ‘feel’ it.(source) 

Caffeine: the anti-zen of waiting in line

Today I was waiting in line at the supermarket. It was busier than normal and few of the self-check out machines were playing up which was slowing down the line. There was no staff member in sight to fix the problem.

Although I’d noticed the line was slow I was in la la land thinking about what I might cook for dinner. An angsty ice addict  (well she seemed like a classic ice addict) snapped me out of my own bubble world when she started yelling

“For f*%# sake staaaaaaaaffff.. I’m walking outta here and not paying if someone doesn’t come now

Staaaaaaaaaaaaf

Staaaaaaaaaaaaff

Hurry the F#@* up.”

It wasn’t the most polite way to get someone’s attention but it worked. A staff member came immediately and fixed the machines.

It was weird but I realised in that moment that I hadn’t felt bothered about waiting. This was unusual. I’m normally super impatient in lines. I hate waiting at the supermarket. I’m normally looking at my phone or doing tip tow raises up and down just for a sense of moment. But today I wasn’t at all bothered. I wasn’t even bothered by the ice addict. It was sort of amusing.. although I did feel sorry for her she looked gaunt and unwell.

So what was different about today? Why wasn’t I doing my usual racy ‘come on lets get this line moving’ thang… then I remembered.. it’s been 2 days since I had caffeine.

I decided to quit coffee yesterday. I’ve done this before and lasted about 3 months but usually I’m pretty hooked on the stuff. Like many of us I love coffee with a passion but so often it creeps up, gets out of hand and I end up feeling like the ice addict in line.. well I might not be yelling out loud but that’s a bit like what’s going on in my head at least.

This is what I noticed last time I quit. I felt less bothered by what is. I do have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms: a dull headache that’s been coming and going and a strong sense of background craving like I’d REALLY like some caffeine! Like I could skull a late in 2 seconds… and then another one.. that kind of feeling. But the withdrawals eventually go and what stays is a feeling of being more grounded. Less like the ice addict and more like… a Zen monk.. well maybe not that chilled but you know what I’m getting at. It’s subtle and I didn’t even notice it until the super market line incident.

A lot of people defend coffee. In the past when I’ve told people I’ve quit they don’t understand why. Conventional wisdom says if you drink less than 400mg a day then that’s safe for the body.  As this guy explains in the video below caffeine is a neurotoxin which kills brain cells and it’s a natural pesticide. Having a lot of it doesn’t seem like a good idea to me but there’s so much debate on this topic. Each to their own.

But for me it’s been interesting to explore what life is like without it. Also I don’t like the feeling that I’m so dependent on a substance. If I stopped eating oranges I wouldn’t get withdrawal headaches. The fact that I get withdrawals from caffeine makes a powerful statement to me. It’s a drug. Maybe one of the lesser varieties but still a drug nonetheless. I still love it. But I’m willing to let it go.. day at a time for now and I’ll see how I go. Because for me personally the benefits of not drinking it outweigh the pros of being hooked.

Have you ever quit or pulled back on caffeine? What benefits did you experience? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments.

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I normally put an affiliate link here but today I encourage you to consider a donation to Greenpeace.. one of my favourite causes. 

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The self-realized brave blogs association award

The Truth About Mental Health Blog (1)

A yoga teacher once convinced me to attend a retreat to meet his teacher: a self-realized enlightened guru from India. The fact that my yoga teacher was mesmerizing-ly good looking had nothing to do with why I agreed to go (lol). But after a day at the retreat the OTT cult vibes got to me and so I left early, walked a long way to a regional train station and jumped on a Melbourne bound train.

On the way home I thought about the process of becoming a self-realized guru. Did this lady just wake up one day and say bam, I’m enlightened it’s time to teach the world? And then did everyone just suddenly agree with her new found self perception?

To be fair to this lady, she did seem very sweet and pretty much everything that came out of her mouth was wise not unlike what you might hear the Dalai Lama say.  So why didn’t I eagerly join in with the devotional party and chant my way into everlasting bliss? The fact that my yoga teacher turned out to be super busy coordinating everything and didn’t give me a second glance had nothing to do with why I left early (lol)

I admit it was a bit intense to up and leave but I guess in my heart of hearts I just didn’t feel comfortable with the atmosphere of mega devotion.. I was more of an eclectic seeker and I guess some part of me felt a bit jibbed. What’s stopping me from accessing my own self-realised truth? Why do I need some elaborately dressed fly in from overseas to tell me how to be a good person?

Don’t get me wrong I’m not anti-guru.. There’s no right way with this. Sometimes we need an external teacher and that’s totally fine. I guess at that time I wasn’t really looking for that.. I was more interested in finding a hot date. oops. Probably not the most enlightened way to go about it!

Anyways.. what’s all this got to do with the blog award I posted above? Well, today I decided to be my own self-realised blog awards giver to celebrate what I’ve achieved with this blog so far..  A pat on the back and some self-encouragement for creating 50 blogs since April (or delivering 50 doses of sanity as per my blog tagline) and attracting 70 awesome followers! I made my own self-realized award. That probably sound totally narcissist! But I’m trying to encourage myself because this blog has no boss. It’s just me. I’m a lonesome #girlboss minus the dolla dolla bills…but maybe they’re coming!

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I get that the number of followers may seem dismal in the scheme of things but I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved so far. Especially since initially my intention with this blog was not unlike buying a lottery ticket: I thought there’s a really slim chance anyone will ever read this but I enjoy ranting in my journal about health topics so I thought why not give it a crack? Not the most strategic thing I’ve ever rolled out but it kind of took on a life of it’s own and now it’s become an almost daily habit.

A huge THANK YOU to all my followers and those who liked posts or delivered the holy grail of an actual comment. You rock!!! I’ve also really enjoyed reading all of your blogs and exploring mental health from a myriad of perspectives. 

If you’ve enjoyed this blog and think it deserves some dolla dolla bills then you could always check out an affiliate ….

FREE E-BOOK on Food and Mood.. You know you want it!!! Click here 

 

The confusion illusion: what if confusion was a gift?

 

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You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who enjoys a confused state of mind. Confusion is listed a symptom of anxiety and depression in typical psychology resources and most people wish to resolve it as quickly as possible.

But I wonder does confusion have value and how might it serve us in our lives? 

Whilst mulling over this idea today a Deepak Chopra quote popped up in my facebook feed “All great changes are proceeded by chaos” .. I wondered, could the word confusion replace chaos in this context and would that also be true?

YES! I think so… although I’m not entirely sure. I’d have to weigh up the pros and cons of each word in this context and the various reasons why it might or might not fit or make sense. Then I’d also have to consider whether or not Deepak would care if I messed with his quote or if it might confuse people making alterations to a popular phrase in this way…

JOKING!!.. don’t worry I’m not THAT confused. Deepak will just have to deal with it. Because I do think there’s some truth to it; there might be more to confusion than the illusion of unwanted negative feelings.

Chronic uncertainty, crushing doubt, the unbearable weight of conflicting ideas; could it all be a gift? Might we require all of it before great change can occur in our lives?

To explore that idea I’d like to share with you an experience I had at a music workshop over 10 years ago. It was a rhythm training workshop called TaKeTiNa where we learnt to coordinate various rhythms and more complex polyrhythms using feet stomping, clapping, speech and singing. As some of the coordinations where quite challenging many people found themselves going in and out of syncronisity with the facilitator; from confusion to coherance and flow then back again.

The teacher said the trick was to “allow the chaos” and allow the body/mind to fall upon flow naturally without trying to force it. She said reacting to the mistake, chaos or confusion would only make it worse. So too would trying to figure it out mentally. A state of open receptivity and allowing worked best. Chaos, she said, was a natural part of the process and the space in-between knowing and not knowing. It was the contrast that gave meaning to the flow state.

When I played around with this I found it was indeed true. If you fell out of rhythm or didn’t get something straight away your annoyance or resistance to being confused just made you remain stuck in that non-flow for longer. So to did overly analysing the rhythms mentally. By just allowing, it was almost as if something greater enabled you to fall back into the rhythm and cohesion with the group. Some other part of you was processing it all until it just fell into place.

I think this can be applied to all of life.  There’s nothing inherently bad about confusion itself. It’s just the chaotic space between not knowing and knowing. The trick is to allow it to be there, release resistance, and to allow the flow/ clarity/ answer you seek to come about naturally; whether that be via your subconscious deeper mind or some other force we don’t quite understand. Sure you can take action (like stomping and clapping and listening) or whatever it takes to get from A to B but within an atmosphere of allowance.

Does that make sense? I hope this post hasn’t been too confusing for you, as that would be terrible wouldn’t it .. but only if you resist the confusion.

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The Truth about Mental Health blog is an affiliate of Dr Kelly Brogan, Holistic Woman’s Health Psychiatrist. Check out her 44 day online course that explores holistic interventions like diet, meditation, exercise and mindset. 

 

 

 

 

 

Confusion: friend or foe? Seeking your input for my next blog post

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Let’s face it, confusion can be really confusing. Like so confusing it does your head in. Or maybe it doesn’t. I’m not sure. Because my experience of confusion might be different to yours and I’m pretty confused about whether or not it’s really that confusing or just mildly so.

Confused by the above? I don’t blame you. It’s a bit confusing.

So today I’ve been mulling over the concept of, you guessed it, confusion and an idea came to me: what if confusion was a gift? What if it was valuable part of how we process information and make decisions.

No one likes feeling confused or unsure: it can be so distressing to remain in a state of limbo. But what if it was important and how might the confused state actually serve us?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I work on my next post for tomorrow. The Confusion Illusion.. do you think confusion is valuable and if so how?

 

Swallowing pride and embracing new information

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Last year I did a professional development course in the Estill Voice Training method. Aside from being a mental health blogger, I’m also a singing teacher and wanted to brush up on my skills after a break from teaching.

Estill is a program designed to develop vocal skills by deconstructing the process of vocal production. Developed by the late Jo Estill, a speech pathologist and opera singer, the method helps singers better understand, control and manipulate the singing process. It incorporates anatomy and video imaging of the vocal chords to help participants truly appreciate and understand what’s happening when they sing. 

I found the workshop enlightening and it give me insight into some areas that had previously confused me. Even though I had studied singing at a tertiary level, and had taught students for several years,  much of what I had learnt about voice training and teaching (aside from music theory) was vague, non-scientific or outright wrong! For example, many teachers will tell you to “sing with your diaphragm.” This always confused me as I didn’t know how to access my diaphragm specifically and tell it what to do.

In Estill I learnt that the diaphragm has no nerve endings so it’s no surprise I had trouble feeling it or telling it how to behave! When it comes to the breathing mechanism there’s a whole lot of nonsense that gets taught and this course helped me sort fact from fiction.

There were a lot of facepalms and jaw drops in the workshop as many of us who had taught previously had to acknowledge that some of our methods had been wrong, confusing or even at times potentially damaging to our students.

The facilitator said shock was a common theme in her workshops and that it was really hard for some people to admit that, after many years of teaching, they may have been wrong about some of their methods. Fortunately most people, once presented with the science and the vocal chord videos can come around and start to embrace the new information.

I’ll admit it wasn’t easy! I felt like a douche and really annoyed with myself for not having enrolled in this course earlier but I knew I had to swallow my pride and accept that it’s life! Sometimes we are presented with new information and it’s up to us to either embrace it or choke on our pride.

When it comes to mental health I see a lot of organised denial happening despite the revelations of new scientific information. Take for example recent insights into the digestive system and the importance of gut health. There’s now mountain of research studies that have debunked the low serotonin model of depression. Instead, we’re finding that depression is often a symptom of chronic inflammation in the gut.

But how many psychiatrists check their patients gut heath (where a high percentage of neurotransmitter chemicals are actually made) and prescribe dietary changes? Do they even study this in their training? As this psychiatrist explains she had just one hour of nutrition training in her 10 years of formal medial training.

Again FACEPALM.

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Fortunately she had the balls to admit her training was missing certain elements and did some additional research into nutrition and holistic therapy. Now she’s running holistic mental health courses that teach people how to truly take charge of their health. Yay for Dr Brogan!

Another interesting group I found who are presenting mental health experts with important information is the UK based Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry. They provide evidence of the damaging effects of psychiatric drugs and treatments to the people and institutions that can make a difference. In particular they’re concerned that there are no long-term studies to prove the safety and efficacy of anti-depressants and would like to see better regulation and research in this area.

If you’re a doctor or mental health professional reading this would you like your patients to be long-term guinea pigs to potentially harmful drugs? Or would you prefer to use drugs as a short-term tool to help transition patients through crisis and then help them develop the tools to cultivate health for the long haul?

It’s not always easy to embrace new information when it arrives but I believe being open and receptive to it can help us be more effective in our various careers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you work your receiving muscle to increase your cash flows?

I recently came across a blog post where the writer discussed working on their capacity to receive. They felt that they had blocks to receiving that were preventing them from having the money and abundance they desired.

receiving a giftI’ve come across this concept many times in self-help/ psychology material and today I wanted to explore the topic further with the question: can you work your receiving muscle to increase your cash flows?

Advocates of ‘work your receiving’ type concepts suggest YES you can expand this capacity if you’re willing.

“Abundance shows up if we are willing to receive” is a popular concept I’ve come across.

The assumption here is that poverty or lack is the end result of being unwilling to receive. This is a fairly bold statement when you think about it but since I’ve heard it a lot I thought I would see if there’s any truth to it.

The first question that comes to mind when considering this idea is

Why would someone be unwilling to receive what they would actually really like to have?

A few examples come to mind where someone might be unwilling or uncomfortable with receiving something they would like.

  • A bankrupt adult refusing money from a sibling because of potential family dramas. They might really like to have more money show up but not via a sibling they’ve had previous money dramas with.
  • A feminist unwilling to have her meal paid for by a romantic date because it compromises her equality values. The feminist may really like getting a free meal but not on a romantic date.
  • A doctor feeling uncomfortable about receiving a free holiday from a pharmaceutical rep because of a sense of obligation to prescribe their brand. They may really feel like a holiday but feel it’s a conflict of interest.

After writing the above examples I noticed a common theme:  it’s more about the giver, or the way the offering is being delivered, rather than the offering itself. In all instances the person actually wants the thing being offered but not with the specific compromise attached. For example, the bankrupt adult would like money but not at the cost of future family dramas, the feminist would like a free meal but not at the cost of compromising her commitment to gender equality and the doctor wants a holiday but not at the cost of personal ethics.

It’s not that those people don’t want to receive generally, or that their receiving capacity is weak. They might be quite willing to receive in a million other ways. It’s that the trade offs, in those particular instances aren’t worth it for them. They’ve assessed the situation and made a choice based on what they believe will deliver them the best outcome, otherwise they probably wouldn’t make that choice. They may actually be choosing to receive the fullness of what’s available by making informed choices, weighing up options and choosing what feels right for them.

Having said that, some people with low self worth may feel uncomfortable with receiving more generally and may feel undeserving money.

For these people I don’t think working the receiving capacity is necessarily helpful though (and is that even possible?) Anything they try to receive is just going to bump up against their core beliefs. How do you make yourself receive when some part of you is in conflict with what’s being offered?

I think what works better than trying to develop the receiving muscle is tapping into intrinsic motivation and the innate desire we all have to create something. You may not like yourself but somewhere within is the drive to create something you do like. And that’s where you can make some $$

I believe everyone has an inner being that wishes to create something worthwhile in this lifetime whether that be a business, an artistic endeavor, or work outcomes for a company or cause. There’s a zest for improvement and creation in each one of us and once we tap into it the ego jumps on board sooner or later. Once we begin creating what we want to create self worth follows naturally in time.

A great book that explores this process further is Robert Fritz’s The Path of Least Resistance. It’s probably one of the most helpful self-help books I’ve come across on my journey and it helped me realise where I truly can add value to the world, and my potential to trade that for $.

the path

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The Truth about Mental Health blog is an affiliate of Dr Kelly Brogan, Holistic Woman’s Health Psychiatrist. Check out her 44 day online course that explores holistic interventions like diet, meditation, exercise and mindset.