What Is It You Wish For In 2014?


Hello there, fellow travellers on planet Earth..!

I was going to write a blog post about manifesting your dreams and goals in 2014 – and I may still do that – but for now, I would like to take a slightly different tack..

For many people – especially those who may be of a slightly introspective nature, but also those who have hope and aspirations for the future, but may have experienced numerous set-backs over the last few years..  maybe longer – this time of year is not only a time of reflection, to look back and see where we have been, how far we have come…  but it is, more importantly, a time to look to the future with renewed hope, excitement and expectation…  to remember our dreams and plans and hopes for the future…  to renew our faith and trust…  to galvanise our resolves and energy reserves…  and make the decision to GO FOR IT..!!

But again, for many people – especially at this time of year, when the weather and daylight hours are less than encouraging, and maybe the “festive season” has been less than rewarding in its “promises” (often fraught with disappointments and regrettable family discords..), and some may be suffering health problems and/or seasonal flu bugs or the like, and the economic “climate” of our societies has been so depressing and unrelenting – it can be a very hard task indeed to get that TRUST and FAITH going again, in ourselves, in others, and in the world at large, and to galvanise the MOTIVATION and ENERGY to get our lives moving forwards again in the direction that we want it to be going..

If you don’t’ feel this way, then fine, this blog is probably not for you, so no need to read further! But if some of this strikes a chord with you, then you will probably also realise that getting the necessary STRENGTH, MOTIVATION, IMPETUS and ACTION going for you would be much easier if you had someone to work with you, to support and encourage you, to help guide your intentions and keep them on track, and help you focus your energies sufficiently so that you are able to actually get on the road to realising (“making real”) your desires and goals for your future..  your life..  your self.. Now, you may have a really good friend or partner who can help you do this.. If so, that is fabulous – lucky you!! And I hope you acknowledge your good fortune and express your gratitude to the universe (and also congratulate yourself) for your ability to have attracted to yourself what you have needed..

However, unfortunately, many people find that they do not have the support systems they need readily available to them, for whatever reason..  or for no reason at all.. But, nevertheless, they feel in their hearts and souls that, given the right support, they might be capable of amazing things..  infinite possibilities..  the stars are the limits..!!  (okay, let’s not get too carried away..!!)

But you get the drift, don’t you? Unfortunately, none of us (generally) is an island paradise, living in totally self-sufficient isolation.. We all need each other, even if, sometimes, we don’t recognise it, want to see it, or don’t like to admit it.. We are in fact a world-wide community and we are co-dependent, and need to be able to give and take, offer and receive, support and seek/accept support…  from each other..

Let me leave the point there with you for now, and just say that, if you are feeling that you could benefit from some structured support in helping to get your life on track and realise your goals and dreams – whatever they may be – then I may be able to provide you with professional guidance, support and methods that could help you. Well, at the very least, I’m willing to give it a shot if you are! So please contact me if you would like any information as to how I might be able to assist you, or if you would like to have a consultation. Please see above right for contact details. I look forward to hearing from you.

(Well, in the end, it did kind of turn out to be a post about manifesting your dreams and goals..!)

Amanda Jackson-Russell, BSc, PhD (Neuroscience*), Clinical Hypnotherapist, Cognitive-Emotional-Behavioural Hypnotherapist, Emotional Therapist, Reiki Master, Spiritual Healing Facilitator, Spiritual Development Coach, Relaxation Skills Trainer, Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor, and Medical/Health Writer & Editor. AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey and Energessence Natural Healing. Epsom, Ewell, Ashtead, Leatherhead, Bookham, and surrounding areas, Surrey, England, UK. (*I am required to provide this extra information for legal reasons.)

Relaxation Skills Training (Applied Relaxation) and It’s Benefits – Part 2

In my blog entry of 30th April 2013, I discussed the benefits of Relaxation Skills Training (or Applied Relaxation) in comparison with attending the occasional yoga, Tai Chi or meditation class (which are great places to start learning relaxation skills). Here, I will describe the training in a bit more detail. For anyone who is looking to reduce or more effectively manage their “stress”, overcome panic attacks or phobias, break out of a cycle of anxiety or habitual worry, manage a stress-related illness, control exam anxiety, overcome performance anxiety, improve their work efficiency, reduce their levels of physical tension, or even enhance their creativity, this will explain the stages of relaxation skills training and the rationales behind them, so you can decide whether this is something that could benefit you.

As I mentioned in the earlier article, many people may have never experienced a state of deep relaxation. Even during sleep, the body and mind do not necessarily relax completely. In fact, contrary to experiencing relaxation during sleep, many people in our busy Western society either have disturbed sleep or difficulty sleeping, or find that even with a reasonable amount of sleep, they may have rather “active” dreams and wake up feeling less than rested or even exhausted!

Yet deep relaxation is usually the body and mind’s only respite from the constant drip, drip, drip of adrenaline and other stress hormones into our systems from the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response and chronic stress/anxiety/tension states). In deep relaxation, the sympathetic nervous system is toned down or even switched off temporarily, allowing the other arm of our autonomic (automatic or “unconscious”) nervous system – the parasympathetic nervous system – to gain the upper hand for the time being. This part of the autonomic nervous system is responsible for rest, repair and recuperation – allowing body tissues to repair themselves, cells to build up energy stores, our hormone and immune systems to balance and strengthen themselves, body organs to have respite from the effects of chronic stress – in essence facilitating our body’s self-healing abilities. In addition, deep relaxation allows our thinking (analytical) mind and mental stress/anxiety circuits to rest and enables parts of the brain involved in relaxation, memory, creativity, learning and other nurturing activities to become stronger.

Relaxation skills training involves a number of stages, and the number and extent of the different stages can vary depending on a person’s existing skills and experiences, and their particular needs and inclinations. However, broadly speaking, the format of the training will have the same basic elements. Firstly, your body and mind experience deep relaxation, perhaps for the first time, so that you, your body and your mind know what they are aiming for (your “goal” – a relaxed state). And you then practise one or two, or more, relaxation techniques, so that you learn to elicit the relaxation response for yourself, and your body and mind get more and more familiar with this state through repetition of the practices (the body and mind/brain learn pretty much everything through practice and repetition until the state, or new skill, becomes a “habit”). The next stage is to learn to elicit the relaxation response at will (on demand, as it were) – sometimes called cue-controlled relaxation. You learn this first in the clinic room, then you practise doing it at home to reinforce this part of your new skill. When you feel comfortable and confident with being able to bring about relaxation “on cue”, you are ready to go to the next stage. This may involve rehearsing relaxation and maintaining that state while in hypnosis and while imagining situations that normally or previously might cause you anxiety or stress (this stage is sometimes called “hypnotic desensitisation” – you desensitise to the anxiety or stress situation by imagining it happening while in deep relaxation). The final stages – depending on your needs – often involve practising using your relaxation skills out in the real world (“exposure therapy”), first in low-anxiety/stress situations, then gradually, as you build up your skills and confidence more and more, in higher anxiety/stress situations, until you experience feeling relaxed more and more of the time, and finally you find you rarely experience anxiety or stress any more in day-to-day situations.

Of course, you won’t extinguish your ability to feel anxiety, fear or stress completely – and nor should you want to – as these responses, in appropriate (eg. life-or-death) situations, are vital to our survival. But – and this is the point – you will be able to have control over such feelings in situations where they are inappropriate and counter-productive.

As you can probably tell from this description, the art of relaxation takes practice and persistence if it is not your current usual state. But much of this is up to you and done at your own pace and in your own time (as “homework”) – so it needn’t take an endless number of clinic sessions. And the benefits will last a lifetime, and will probably extend your life, productivity and quality of life immeasurably too!

If you think you might benefit from relaxation skills training, meditation/mindfulness training or hypnotherapy and you’d like to book a consultation or find out more about skills training or therapy, or if you have any other questions, please contact me at AJR Hypnotherapy Surrey by email or phone (see top right of this page).