Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
Well, my ears pricked up when that advert came on Spotify this morning. Wow are they talking about Laughter Clubs?!? Hahaha. Nope. A Panadol advert.
The “More Laughs. Less Pain” campaign sees the brand sponsoring comedy streaming platform NextUp, offering three months of free content including 200 on-demand programmes across the comedy spectrum.
Panadol is also supporting the Live Comedy Association and its #SaveLiveComedy initiative, to “help the UK stand-up scene thrive beyond COVID-19 and help to boost consumers’ moods for the long-term”.
To access NextUp’s premium service, shoppers will need to sign up for free on nextupcomedy.com/Panadol.
The campaign will be supported by a widespread marketing and digital campaign, including out-of-home experiences and online advertising “encouraging consumers to trade-up to Panadol”.
Jasmine Walton, senior brand manager for Panadol, said: “Our research has shown that in 2020, 38% of Brits cannot recall a time when they have laughed out loud.
“It is recognised that laughter can help to increase our pain tolerance, couple this with our commitment to relieve people’s pain, meant we were keen to get Britain laughing again.
“We hope that the campaign will not only see laughter levels increase amongst consumers but will also highlight Panadol’s leading role in pain relief”.
Well, I have to say my heart slightly sank. I'm not entirely convinced that the campaign is much to do with getting people laughing, and more a great marketing spin, but I'm hopeful that some try it without taking the meds and see how much it can do for them. Of course, for clarity, I'd never suggest anyone not take medication that they've been prescribed or need to have.
That said, I do like the fact they're highlighting the use of laughter as helping with pain. And thought I'd use my irritation as a springboard to discuss that a little.
Laughter helps chronic pain shows Swiss study. Whilst in the study, it does state laughter should be real not fake laughter, I would suggest that one of the joys of Laughter Clubs is that within a group of people, volunteered laughter rapidly becomes real and contagious laughter.
This study, reported on by the BBC stated "Tittering and giggling did not elicit any physiological effect; only a good guffaw did the job." which is also fabulous to hear as we talk regularly about belly laughter, laughter from deep inside being so beneficial - and another reason why Laughter Clubs are so helpful - some people are shier and for some, laughing with a guffaw isn't deemed OK in public...
Laughter was equated with pain meds here: "In a study of 35 patients in a rehabilitation hospital, 74% agreed with the statement, "Sometimes laughing works as well as a pain pill." These patients had a broad range of conditions, such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, arthritis, limb amputations, and other neurological or musculoskeletal disorders." (1)
Norman Cousins' experience was recounted to us when we trained in Laughter Yoga leading. For an insight there have a read:
In 1964, Norman Cousins was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen. The disorder caused constant pain and suffering and was accompanied with a poor prognosis of only a few months to live. Cousins served as an Adjunct Professor at University of California–Los Angeles, where he conducted research on the biochemistry of human emotions, which he long believed were the keys to success in resisting and fighting illness. He often expressed his belief that, since negative emotions lead to negative physiology, then positive emotion, such as humor, can lead to positive physiology. As examples, chronic stress persistently elevates levels of stress hormones, including epinephrine and cortisol. Chronic stress also increases the susceptibility to blood clots. Together, these physiological responses to stress increase the risk for cardiovascular and other diseases (2). Importantly, the positive emotions of humor and laughter decrease the risk for stress-related diseases (3).
With his strong beliefs in the power of human emotions and his dire prognosis, Cousins decided to take his treatment into his own hands. He convinced his physicians to prescribe an intravenous dose of vitamin C that was well above the normal therapeutic level, and, as an adjunct to this therapy, he watched humorous movies and television shows to induce laughter as a consistent part of his treatment. Mirthful laughter markedly reduced his pain and relieved stress. “10 minutes of laughter gave me 2 hours of pain free sleep,” Cousins said, “laughter produced a natural body anesthesia.” Cousins’ humor-induced treatment saved his life and allowed him to live and prosper for nearly 25 additional years. Cousins and his remarkable results are a testament to the positive psychophysiological impact created by the emotions of humor and mirthful laughter and have been documented in a book he authored, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (4)."
For the article I discovered including the above information - and lots more, that's here.
One thing worth noting is that Norman's laughter was 10 minutes that gave 2 hours of pain free sleep. Laughter, to get the scientifically proven health benefits, should be sustained. We should be laughing daily for 10-15 minutes. Natural laughter lasts for 3-4 seconds at a time, and we should be laughing, heartily for longer. Relying also on comedy clubs means that you have to be there. Introducing laughter as an exercise into your life means you do it unconditionally. I laugh every time my shower goes on cold, having trained myself to do it over a period of around a month. To the point that it's like a Pavlovian response and being out in the hail recently (nothing quite like Yorkshire May weather!) elicited the same response and I was laughing away walking the dogs. Our poor lurcher was less amused and desperate to get back inside, bless her.
I've for a long time been inspired by Patch Adams, immortalised in a film of the same name starring Robin Williams. For a talk with the real Patch Adams, have a watch of this. It's something I often think I should start each day with. And never do. But I do laugh daily now and feel the benefit.
I want to blog on my experiences of laughing regularly since January 2021 and plan to share other's experiences, including those I've trained with and those I've regularly laughed with as I feel there's a need for laughing now, and just want to share my feelings on how it's been for me and others. Laughing regularly could be with me, with other Laughter Yoga leaders, as a regular commitment alone, with the fabulous people I trained with, with friends or however you like. I reckon laughter regularly has something really special going for it. It's free, it's available for us all and I certainly feel we all could benefit from it right now.
New blog on that coming soon. But for now, have a watch of Patch above.
And so to end, and I want to go back to where I started, as I like going in a circle - on walks, I see it happen in life, I love to observe the way it's all a cycle out there in nature...
"Our research has shown that in 2020, 38% of Brits cannot recall a time when they have laughed out loud."
If you're there with the 38%, come and laugh with me. Details of the sessions are here. Or laugh with someone else, but I invite you to dive in and explore your relationship with laughter. It might be the best thing you've ever done. And, as I say to my daughter, "if it's awful it should at least make a funny story." What's to lose?
With love, and laughter,
Last year, around March 2020, I was living in fear. Not of a virus I'd like to say, which isn't to say I was unaware that there was a virus that wasn't great out there. But that there would be an experimental product created and everyone would be told they had to have it. Across the board. Mandatory.
Well clearly it's not quite come to pass, but near as damn it. So I've learned a great lesson. Or probably several. When my partner told me not to worry, that that would never happen, well, lesson one I guess. I was right (or very nearly at least!). But more seriously, that my worrying did nothing to influence government matters.
My anxiety didn't help them or me.
Did nothing to help them talk about the bonuses of a healthy diet. A healthy lifestyle. Did nothing for them to discuss Vitamin C as an aid to coping with viruses in a positive way. As an aside, I can't get out of my head images of people getting fish and chips at the seaside whilst wearing a mask to 'keep them safe'. More interesting still given that a study at the University of San Diego claims to have proof that COVID-19 is not a respiratory illness, but a vascular one. The irony. Back to the main point. Though if you want to read more, have a look here.
I don't want to discuss much of the whole situation, but my main point is that I've had concerns, worries that we'd be here. That masks would be a priming for a 'doing the right thing', 'thinking about someone else', that the science there is far from settled and seems to be equally opposing, if not possibly stronger on the for most people 'breathing fresh air is good for you' side. And here we are. Masks are no longer suggested to be used in schools for pupils, and yet individual schools are now actively encouraging their continued use. Teachers are concerned whether it's safe. Pupils 'don't feel safe without them' so are planning to continue to sit through 6 hours of lessons wearing a mask. We've been conditioned to think this piece of fabric is better than our innate immune system. Our glorious, incredible immune system. Which we could have been learning about all during the past year and boosting in so many wonderful ways.
So instead of weakening my own immune system with worry (to the point I struggled to breathe at times in the early days), I may as well have sailed along feeling happy, healthy and strong and not worrying about what would come to pass. Because it came to pass anyway.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "Brain activity linking negative emotions to a lower immune response against disease has been revealed for the first time, claim researchers". So how would it be to stream fear, figures and worrying images into our homes night after night, after night? To have inmates, sorry, residents, glued to their seats hearing how an invisible threat was out to get them. Would that strengthen or weaken their immune system? I'll leave that up to you. But if you want to read more have a look below for the New Scientist mention of the study.
I don't think there has been informed consent, informed choice for the study we have all participated in over the last year. And know I'm not alone in feeling that the media, the government, has had a part of impairing our innate immune systems with that alone. Here Dr Gary Sidler, retired clinical psychologist writes about the murky waters the government is operating in. And here, more on the group of 47 psychologists who have accused the government of using fear tactics of increasing anxiety in the public.
I guess it's a balance isn't it. It's not about head in the clouds, it's all going to be fine, carry on regardless, or head in the sand, ostrich style. Perhaps about keeping informed but doing what you can to nourish yourself. To support others and their wonderful immune systems. Recognising the vibrational resonance of emotions. Fear is not a great place to be living in, and I believe there has been so much of it, from all angles.
Instead of learning, at 5pm briefings everyday, what we could do to help ourselves be strong, happy, vibrant and healthy, we learnt of deaths, panic, fear and numbers. When have we before been told the numbers of people who died in a day from one specific disease? We could have had fresh juice recipes, encouraging ideas, suggestions of fun exercise to do. Maybe even alongside the fear, the terror, if we had to share it, that would have been better. If we knew that the 3rd leading cause of death in the states was from medical error and learned the death rate everyday, we'd be horrified. As we have been here. Terrified, scared, weak, vulnerable.
I seriously don't think we've had any sort of informed choice about the psychological experiment we have just participated in.
So I guess, the valuable point is, if we want to opt out of this psychological study, how do we do it?
Perhaps we can't get all the way out, I don't know. But we can be aware I believe, and we can help ourselves.
I'm never a big fan of telling anyone what to do or not do, but in case you're interested, here's how I'm negotiating my way through...
* A while ago, horrified at the BBC, to go on to be more horrified at them later, I got rid of my TV licence. We don't have 5pm death counts streaming into our home.
* We don't read the 'paid for' papers, apart from a quick headline flash when I go to the Post Office to post remedies for clients.
* Wim Hof breathing. Cold showers daily. I'm also about to get back into the river for a boost of cold therapy, friends and nature exposure.
* Engaging in the outdoors regularly, several times a day with the dogs. A great leveller.
* A daily, or at least 5 times a week, laughter practice since January of this year. Come along to a session if you like. They're small, informal, happy places to hang out and a wonderful mood boost. Read more on what others have said here. Also Laughter Yoga International have short courses, they also have 3 times weekly large zoom meetings if you want to go to one of those.
* Good food, whole food. Processed food isn't always welcomed by our bodies as much as whole food, as near to nature food. Whether it be vegan, paleo, omnivore or wherever in between, as close to nature, is good. If you can pronounce the ingredients is great. And if there are minimal ingredients then even better.
* Sleeping well.
* Less 'news' more real people. Focusing on what is here and now. Yesterday I was talking about a volcano eruption we hadn't learnt of not knowing the 'news' around the world, and it got us to thinking how our news the day earlier had been that a sheep was in the wrong field. Crazy days. But how our brain doesn't need to be overwhelmed, on high alert for events, for drama. And the sheep got rehomed to the right field. I don't want to leave you with worries here.
* Getting (and regularly using) some key words - in the early part of the year I loved 'strength, focus, compassion and love'. There were days those words got me out of bed. Now they've changed to 'harmony, joy, love, gratitude and abundance'. Paddling yesterday on the inflatable Stand up Paddleboard, repeating those words whilst I paddled felt good. Like a meditation mantra in the water. If you check out the work of Masaru Emoto (a quick summary here), I hope you'd decide the words that you say to yourself are as important, or more, as anything else.
* Seeing my homeopath is there too. If you're looking for help with homeopathy, feel free to get in touch. There's loads more info on my Homeopathy pages. What to expect, and thoughts from others who've worked with me.
* Vitamins if I'm feeling the need. In the early days, the Orthomolecular Society issued some recommendations for supporting our bodies to deal with viruses which we followed. I discussed that in the blog, here. Sometimes I still megadose Vitamin C and it depends how I'm feeling now as to what I take.
I think that's probably a good start!
Lastly, in answer to my title question - where is the informed choice? I think it's nowhere to be seen. I do believe it is time to rise up and take personal responsibility for what we can do, what we can influence and how we can each find joy, raise our vibrations and help those around us. And I don't believe that's found in figures and fear.
An invitation to be a part of a collection of uplifting, inspiring stories
Being a mum, seeing kids do their thing. Being a homeopath, hearing stories of school life and the challenges from kids. Talking to people. Having gone through school myself and definitely not found it easy plenty of times. Not so much the school work, I was lucky that that was never really an issue for me. But the friend stuff. The groups. The social side of things. There were times that were great, but plenty of times that weren't too.
I was musing this morning how much of it can be challenging. And pondering what would help some of the kids I see in practice, my own child when things are tough, and others around me. For me, one thing that I love is engaging in people's stories. Hearing how it was for them. Seeing how good triumphs. Seeing how hard times do lead us onto amazing things. Catapult us forwards.
I love working with homeopathy and seeing the changes that can result, but here I wanted it to be about something different. Connection. Inspiration. Seeing the challenges faced and how they turned out.
If you'd like to be a part of this mini-project, I'd love it if you'd like to share your story below or send to me. I'm more than happy to keep it anonymous and you don't have to share your real name below. I'd love to have a little resource, to be able to share some hope with clients who are finding it tough at the moment. Alongside the other things they're doing, I hope it gives them hope of change, better days ahead, and perhaps even brings a whole different light to the situation.
With heart felt thanks,
I've been musing over this today. And thinking over the opposite, the contrast to pottering; our rushing, busy, often chaotic, achievement driven society.
From the Cambridge Dictionary:
potter: verb [ I usually + adv/prep ]
(US usually putter)
to move around without hurrying, and in a relaxed and pleasant way:
I spent the afternoon pottering around the garden doing a few odd jobs.
He doesn't drive very fast - he tends to potter along.
The 'relaxed and pleasant way' is interesting. After an afternoon or even (it doesn't happen often but my goodness!!) a day of pottering, I feel like a weight has lifted, I feel more expansive. I feel like I've been massaged, treated and gifted with space and time. It's fair to say I'm not the most high maintenance kind of girl! Or at least that's my opinion anyway. And yet I frequently forget just how important it is to me. I easily pack the diary full, study, learn, do courses, walk, do fun stuff, yet I need to remember the joy of pottering.
My favourite way to do it is with an empty house. And perhaps a few jobs on the list, but the flexibility to choose when I do them, what I do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sat feet up watching Netflix all day. There may be a TV break, but for me it's about the joy of gradually, gently getting things done. Instead of rushing, with a time limit. It may help here that currently the school runs are off the menu for me, so instead of between 90 minutes to 3 hours driving a day, there's a little more space.
But speaking of the school run, of the trip into the office, I do wonder if we've lost some pottering, day dreaming time along the way with our home-working lifestyles. I used to love the drive together, chatting about the day ahead, or even before that, walking to school stopping off to pick daisies, or have an impromptu cuppa on the way home. Going further back to a commute for work, the driving time provides something of a butter between one world and the other. And now we are out of the frying pan and into the fire. No, that's Meatloaf. Out of the study and into the living room. And onto the next thing.
I wonder if pottering could be introduced to schools? Made a National Curriculum worthy study. Instead of punishing day dreaming, invite it. Have a day dreaming lesson once a week? Oh I like the sound of this! It feels like it's so good for my brain, I'm sure there's enough neuroscientific research to back me up. I can't believe that we are made for constantly being ON.
So with something of a rebellious feeling, against the fast pace, against the do, do, do, world that I've found myself in, I'm planning to study pottering more, definitely from an experiential angle, maybe even learn more about research into the art. Perhaps the occasional immersion technique day is the way forwards. I hear people talking of building a life you don't need a holiday from and feel I'm moving way closer towards that than I used to be.
It's not to say I don't want to achieve, I've plenty I want to do, write, explore, learn, and I love doing all that. But stopping, pottering and just being is vital to me too.
I'd love to know what you think.
Potter on, my friends,
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy
BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Laughter Yoga Leader
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition