Category Archives: Health

Depression: why it is so common and effective lifestyle changes that reduce it

In this 22 minute TED talk Stephen Ildari explains that depression largely results from us living busy, stressful lives that our bodies are not designed for. Our DNA and bodies are basically still geared for a hunter gatherer lifestyle, where there may be moments of stress such as when you are facing a bear or tiger, but then once you have run away or fought the predator, the stress reduces and your body gets to relax.

For most of us today our lives are constantly stressful and busy, resulting in a prolonged stress response and being in fight or flight much of the time. This is detrimental to the body and over time results in depression. Our bodies simply have not adapted to this massive change of lifestyle yet, and the result is the epidemic in depression. One in nine Americans over the age of 12 is taking an anti-depressant.

Stephe Ildari advocates for a change in lifestyle to reduce stress, improve your body’s neurochemistry and decrease depression. He outlines a 6 step Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) program to beat depression without medication.

His research has demonstrated that the TLC program is an effective treatment for depression, with over 70% of patients experiencing a favorable response, as measured by symptom reduction of at least 50%. That is a lot of relief!!!!! The 6 steps are:

  1. Exercise – he claims exercise is more effective than any pill. Just brisk walking for 30 minutes, 3 times a week can help a lot.
  2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – our bodies can’t make Omega 3 and 6, we need to get them from our diet. He recommends a supplement that gives you a 1000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA per day.
  3. Sunlight – he recommends that people get at least 30 minutes of bright light exposure per day.
  4. Healthy Sleep – at least 8 hours sleep a night is needed
  5. Anti-ruminative activity – stop yourself ruminating on negative thoughts and feelings. Focus instead on doing something pleasant, calling a friend, exercise or journalling.
  6. Social connection – resist the urge to isolate, reach out and connect to people, socialise and you will feel better.

Doing the above will help your body to relax and return to a greater state of peace and happiness. To learn more about Stephen Ildari’s program visit his Therapeutic Lifestyle Change website.


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Why do we stay small?

There are many reasons for choosing to stay small – less risk, more comfort, safety from abuse or attack or ridicule, less effort required, less challenge faced. There are many reasons, but life won’t let you stay small for long. Outside events and inner forces will combine to propel you forward, to jettison you into the next greater version of yourself.

Life is about growth and expansion, it is about stepping beyond your comfort zone and doing what you love. To stay small is to shrivel and decay, to rot, to not grow and that is impossible.

Some stay small because that may have been a time when they received love, when life was simpler, less confusing. For others it was a time when they felt good things happened, when they trusted life and felt taken care of. There are many reasons people would prefer to stay child like or to bask in younger years, as opposed to truly being present and facing their now.

For many people the now is scary, too intimate, too confronting. To be fully present requires facing your feelings, acknowledging how you feel and if you are happy with your life. Much easier to be distracted, too busy, then you don’t have to think about it, feel too deeply into it.

Yes, let’s be busy, busy, busy – then we don’t notice our vitality and joy dropping, we don’t notice the stress building and ill health creeping in. Keep busy, busy, busy, with lots of noise and competing demands, that way you don’t have to face the truth of your life, your inner depths or your heart’s requests. So many people live like this.

Of course it is not ideal, but it is understandable, especially if you don’t feel you have any power to change things for the better. The truth is you always have the power to do so, just most don’t realise it or fear taking that first step into self leadership, self mastery, creating your life how you want it to be.

You are allowed to say no. You are allowed to decline that invitation and take time to rest. You are allowed to work less and live more simply. You are allowed to do what you want, not what is expected. You are allowed to honour yourself and do what you want. It is not selfish, not wrong. As long as you aren’t harming another, it is okay to choose self, to honour self. Our society would be a lot healthier if people did.

Because when you honour yourself and drop into your heart, what your heart wants is peace, harmony, stillness, connection, and love. The heart beats fast for love, for pleasure, for joy. It doesn’t have a selfish bone in its body, it is all about love and kindness for all. And when more people are resting in this state, there will be a lot less violence in the world. There will be a lot more sharing, compassion and understanding, a lot more assisting each other, accepting we are all the same race, the same species. We all suffer and go through loss and pain. We all grow and heal and need support. We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. We all want to be seen and accepted, heard and valued, cared for and loved. That is our deepest need.

heart wateringMany hide because they fear it won’t happen – they won’t be loved or accepted, they will be ridiculed or hurt in a myriad of ways. But to hide keeps you stuck, small and hurting. To come out into the light of day enables change, enables freedom, enables peace. If you take the risk you will be guided forth to love and happiness. There will be obstacles to overcome along the way, but you will get there. You will find your tribe and your home, deep within your heart, connected to the mysteries of life and all that occurs here on Earth.

May we all stand up and shout “Here I am“. May we all be seen and valued. May those around us yell back “We see you and you are magnificent. Welcome home!” May we all find peace as quick as possible. Blessed BE. Amen.

By Jodi-Anne M Smith (24 January 2017).
Further free guidance on healing techniques and self love are available on the Life Insights and Healing from child abuse pages of this website.

The Imprint – Excerpt from IN UTERO documentary

The science of multigenerational trauma, showing how stress is passed on in utero, imprinting the foetus with the trauma and stress the Mother experiences during pregnancy and that which has not been dealt with from the previous generations.  (2:50 mins)

Here is the link to read the whole Huffington Post article by Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal and Stephen Gyllenhaal titled ‘In sickness and in health, it all begins in the womb‘.

Further videos and articles explaining intergenerational trauma and how to heal it, are provided on the Intergenerational Trauma page of this website.

How to relax and enjoy life?

When one’s body has been locked in fight or flight due to traumas that occurred earlier in one’s life, it can be nearly impossible to slow down, relax and enjoy life. Adrenaline, fear, cortisol flow through the body keeping it revved up, primed to react in a split second and to not cool down, rest or BE. It is like a race car with engine roaring, just waiting for the driver to put it in gear and let it loose.

In this hyped up state, even when you are doing nothing, you are still burning up nervous, restless energy, the body is not resting, its reserves are slowly being depleted. In time exhaustion comes, depletion of your energy reserves and then loss of joy, sadness and depression, as a result of feeling so flat, so unable to motivate yourself into action. The gas tank is empty, nowhere to go. This is part of the issue behind chronic fatigue. The body eventually is so depleted it is hard to do anything.

It is therefore important to take action before this stage to nurture and nourish your body, to help it come out of fight or flight and replenish itself. You can do this through a wide range of methods. Massage and touch, gentle touch, can help the body relax. Various body work modalities, reiki, bowen, acupuncture, etc, can help release the tension and teach the muscles it is okay to relax. You can do emotional release work to shift the tension locked in the muscles and to feel the traumas into completion. It is safe to do so.

You can retrain your mind so it no longer feels in danger all the time or needing to be on high alert. Meditation can help calm your mind, enable you to witness your thoughts, and practice not reacting to them, just letting them pass by. Psych-K, NLP, Lifeline Technique and others can reprogram the subconscious mind so that the beliefs operating in your body are supportive, life affirming ones about safety, love, peace and happiness. This needs to be done, otherwise you are telling yourself with your conscious mind “Relax, it’s okay, it’s safe, there’s plenty of time, those tasks can wait” when there is an alarm going off inside saying “No, I must do it now, I have to keep going, my life depends on it”.

The subconscious programming is much more powerful than the conscious minds. The subconscious beliefs will win all the time. Your whole life experience has programmed it, so it is strong in its beliefs and it is more powerful in its capacity than the conscious mind. The subconscious mind makes sure all our bodily functions are working – we are breathing, digesting, eliminating waste, etc. It does all of this without our awareness. It also filters what we see, there is so much data when we look at a scene, that the brain filters it based on our conditioning to only see that which is most important to us for our survival.

If our programming is about danger then that is the filter used to assess what we see. If our filter was love then we would see a whole different scene, we would notice the beauty, peace and harmony occurring in nature and between people. If our filter is danger, abuse, threat then we see any potential sources of danger, we notice the person lurking in the shadows, the look of agitation on a passer by, we see the man reading the newspaper in the park and decide to walk two steps further away just in case he is a threat. Our world is hostile, because of the thinking behind our actions is that way.

Now I know if you have suffered abuse, trauma, cruelty in life then it makes sense that you would be cautious and concerned about avoiding it in future, that is healthy. What is not healthy is when you have no choice, no ability to relax, because your body is so tense, so wired up, so angry or fearful that it has no ability to be calm, peaceful or happy. When the subconscious programming is this strong it is a threat to your health and your enjoyment of life and action needs to be taken to get relief, to be able to rest and enjoy life, to know you are safe and the world is a loving place.

This freedom from the past and its triggers is possible. You just have to do the work to reprogram the subconscious mind and clear the body of the trauma, stress and residue of past experiences.

A relaxed, peaceful state is actually our normal state, it is just in this modern, busy world, most of us are rushing around all day, doing, doing, doing. We take very little time to be still, to rest, to rejuvenate. If we do stop for a short time we will be thinking about what else needs to be done or how something already done could have been done better. Our focus is on the past or the future, rarely on the present moment.

nature-background-images-hd-background-wallpaper-41If we focus on the present moment we relax, we notice the details around us, the feel of the cool breeze and sunshine on our skin, the movement of grass and clouds, the rustling sounds of leaves moving in the trees, the gentle flight of the butterflies fluttering past. When we slow down and become still it is natural for the body to relax, for the blood flow to move away from the extremities and to go to the organs and elimination systems and purify us more fully, to ensure all our vital systems are working as they should.

When we are rushing all the time or stressed, our body is focused on the doing more than the internal processing – some of the attention is missing and therefore our bodily processes don’t function as well and dis-ease can result. Our bodies weren’t designed to be over stimulated constantly or always doing.

There was meant to be moments of stress and action, then returning to the natural, resting state for the majority of the day. We don’t have that. Most of us are functioning as if we are in danger all the time and the stress that results has a negative impact on the body. There is a lot we can do to reduce this and reverse the damage – good diet, exercise, plenty of sleep, water, vitamins – it all helps, as does the work to clear out trauma and stress from the body, reduce mental chatter through meditation and thought stopping, reprogramming the subconscious beliefs so you accept it is safe and okay to rest and that the world is a safe and loving place for you. There is much we can do if we choose to prioritise our health and we want to relax, have inner peace and joy in our life. What will you choose? It is entirely up to you. Blessed BE, Amen.

By Jodi-Anne M Smith (17 October 2016).
Further free guidance on healing techniques and self love are available on the Life Insights page of this website.

The negative health impacts of loneliness

Love this TED talk about the negative impacts of loneliness on our health. So many of us feel deeply alone, isolating to protect ourselves to avoid rejection or abuse, scared to let people close and risk feeling more loss if that person leaves. This has been and continues to be one of my deepest challenges. For me it has been easier to hide in work and study than risk more loss. I have learned to love any way and to let people close and for that I am eternally grateful. Much love to all who struggle with loneliness, may you take a risk to connect and find your tribe.

Addiction – animated explanation of the science showing the source of addiction

Science now shows that the cause of addiction is not the addictiveness of the drugs themselves, but the underlying reasons for taking the drugs – the emotional pain, trauma, and disconnection/loneliness that users feel. The drugs are simply an escape mechanism to avoid feeling the pain and to feel connected to something. If as a society we help people to heal the pain, to feel connected to others and enjoy life, then the use of drugs will decrease. Love and connection is the answer.

How bad experiences in childhood lead to adult illlness

Yet another article with the science showing what survivors of child abuse have always known. Abuse in childhood leads to significant physical, emotional and mental difficulties in adulthood. The good news is that more and more people are recognising this and that we can’t simply “get over it”.  Abuse changes the way a child reacts to stress and constant exposure leads to changes in the child’s DNA resulting in the ‘fight or flight’ system being always turned on. The ongoing, chronic stress unfortunately leads to inflammatory and immune responses that damage health as adults.

Joan Kaufman, director of the Child and Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) programme at the Yale School of Medicine, recently analysed DNA in the saliva of happy, healthy children, and of children who had been taken from abusive or neglectful parents. The children who’d experienced chronic childhood stress showed epigenetic changes in almost 3,000 sites on their DNA, and on all 23 chromosomes – altering how appropriately they would be able to respond to and rebound from future stressors.

Likewise, Seth Pollak, professor of psychology and director of the Child Emotion Research Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, uncovered startling genetic changes in children with a history of adversity and trauma. Pollak identified damage to a gene responsible for calming the stress response. This particular gene wasn’t working properly; the kids’ bodies weren’t able to reign in their heightened stress response. ‘A crucial set of brakes are off,’ says Pollak.

It is great that science is catching up. They are also recognising that there are many ways to heal which can help survivor’s bodies relax and not be in ‘fight or flight’ all the time.

Science tells us that biology does not have to be destiny. ACEs can last a lifetime, but they don’t have to. Just as physical wounds and bruises heal, just as we can regain our muscle tone, we can recover function in underconnected areas of the brain. If anything, that’s the most important take-away from ACE research: the brain and body are never static; they are always in the process of becoming and changing.

Even if we have been set on high-reactive mode for decades or a lifetime, we can still dial it down. We can respond to life’s inevitable stressors more appropriately and shift away from an overactive inflammatory response. We can become neurobiologically resilient. We can turn bad epigenetics into good epigenetics and rescue ourselves. We have the capacity, within ourselves, to create better health. We might call this brave undertaking ‘the neurobiology of awakening’.

Today, scientists recognise a range of promising approaches to help create new neurons (known as neurogenesis), make new synaptic connections between those neurons (known as synaptogenesis), promote new patterns of thoughts and reactions, bring underconnected areas of the brain back online – and reset our stress response so that we decrease the inflammation that makes us ill.

In the article they specifically mention ‘Meditation, mindfulness, neurofeedback, cognitive therapy, EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) therapy’ as some of the tools that can help survivor’s to calm their bodies and reprogram their minds.

I have found a wide range of techniques helpful including:

  • Energy and body work, such as crystal bed sessions or reiki, to help the body unlock and relax;
  • Psych-K or Lifeline Technique to release trauma and reprogram the subconscious mind so you can change negative beliefs about life and the world into positive ones e.g. so you are not always expecting the worst and you can start to feel safe, so you believe that you do deserve good things and that people can treat you well;
  • Mindfulness and meditation techniques to still the mind and create space to witness what is occurring instead of reacting automatically;
  • Skill development including thought stopping, boundary setting, inner child, and self love skills, so that you no longer allow yourself to be abused by others or by yourself;
  • Family Constellations to heal the trauma in the family system and reconnect with love, thereby allowing greater lifeforce and harmony within.

There is lots that can be done. While adverse childhood trauma does have a massive impact on your life, it can be healed.

Article - bad experiences in childhood lead to adult illness

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

In this short video Nadine Burke Harris explains how adverse childhood experiences impacts the health of the child and continues to do so over the lifetime of the person. She explains in scientific terms why this occurs and ways the impacts can be reduced. She believes that this is a public health issue and should be addressed as such with multidisciplinary teams available to help affected individuals to heal the trauma and reduce the impacts.

Epigenetics – explaining how we can inherit trauma and tendencies for anxiety and depression from earlier generations in our family.

Here is a great article explaining how our ancestor’s negative experiences affect their DNA expression, which can be inherited by future generations. For instance, if Grandma was raised in an abusive, alcoholic home or suffered some other trauma, some of that trauma and reactions to it can be passed onto future generations, predisposing them to becoming anxious or depressed.

epigenetics article

Insights into addiction – it is all about the pain

These are insightful videos by Gabor Mate who explains that emotional pain and trauma underlies addiction. He also explains how trauma/addictive tendencies get past on through the generations unintentionally when addiction affected parents are not able to be present and available to their kids.