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Category: Mind Matters

  1. Stretching Your Comfort Zone

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    Stretching your comfort zone


    What is a comfort zone?

    Literally a comfort zone is an area where you are able to feel emotionally comfortable and unchallenged. If you compare it to muscles it is the area in which you can move your muscles without feeling any strain or stress at all.
    Things that challenge your muscles are clearly defined and common to everyone.
    Things that challenge your emotions are much more complex, varied and individual to each person.

    What is a challenge to your comfot zone?


    Walking into a roomful of strangers may challenge some people.
    Standing up and giving a presentation others.
    Asking for direction from a stranger may be a stretch for some.
    Making a decision without running it by someone might be a real stretch too.

    We all have limits to our personal comfort and things that would be a challenge for us or make us think twice.

    Why do we need to stretch our comfort zone?

    Just like muscles if your comfort zone is not stretched regularly then it begins to shrink and seize up.  But just like muscles when you excercise them by stretching they get stronger and the things that were once difficult now seem much more manageable.

    However, left unchallenged, emotional stagnation means that you start to withdraw and go within yourself, shutting yourself off from other people and life experiences.

    How do I stretch my comfort Zone?


    To stretch your muscles and keep them toned you would go to the gym or exercise regularly.  It's not so easy to stretch your comfort zone, but equally you don't have to devote a lot of time to it by taking time out to go the the gym or exercise physically in some other way.

    To stretch your comfort zone you just need to be more aware of your limitations, comfortwise, set yourself very simple and easy targets and start to expand them.  You really need to be looking at a daily challenge workout.

    This is also quite difficult to monitor because people tend to be drawn to where they are comfortable and indulge in a complimentary activity which might be good for some things but not stretching them

    For instance if someone was shy and they wanted to work on it.  Stretching your comfort zone would be ensuring that they a) struck up a conversation with someone every day b) smiled at a stranger every day c) joined a class alone, or any number of similar things. Doing any of these actions or a mix would eventually lead to you feeling comfortable with that activity as it becomes your comfortable norm.  Then you would need to find another area that would stretch that zone thus over a period of time more things are available to you within your comfort zone and you also know that yet more things are accessible with a little effort.

    Yet that person might well be drawn to meditation or affirmations each morning in front of the mirror.  While these are methods of improving yourself and working on problems they are not stretching your comfort zone.  That's like rubbing cream into your muscles and maybe even having a massage it's indirect action  and not getting you anywhere.  Maybe even taking you further away from your goal.

    Quick guide to stretching your comfort zone:

    a) Chunk it down
    Think about something small that would not be too much of a challenge for you and do it daily until you have 'stretched' into being comfortable with it.
    b)Move on
    Once you have become comfortable with your first activity think about another  that would be a slight stretch but within your capabilities and work on that.
    c) Don't stop
    Keep stretching and moving on with new focus

    Before you know it you will have a much bigger zone in which you can feel comfotable.

    Andrea Lowe Senior Hypnotherapist at the Mind & Body centre

    Course Tutor, Hypnotherapy Practitioner Course

  2. What is Self-Hypnosis Anyway?

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    What is Self-hypnosis Anyway?

    Self-hypnosis is a much misunderstood phrase.  Some of that is because 'hypnosis' is  very much misunderstood too.

    Let's see what this hypnosis thing is all about

    If you imagine a spectrum stretching from you being fast asleep and gone to the world to the other extreme where you are bouncing around full of life, anywhere along that spectrum is a possibility for you.  More than  that, every point on the line is something that you pass through every day unless you have some restrictions that stop you like ill health or physical restrictions.

    Hypnosis does not take you away from that line and in fact the point at which hypnosis occurs is part of your everyday life.
    Just before you go to sleep and just after you wake up you pass through a hypnotic state.  For some it is a mere nano-second and for others it can be a few minutes.  Have you ever been drifting off to sleep and heard someone or something that you are aware of but that sounds far away and/or you feel just too tired to respond?  That's hypnosis.  Similarly upon waking do you ever experience a lack of coordination and orientation for a brief second or even longer?  This is especially true if you are not in your normal surroundings.  That's hypnosis.
    reclining chair

    So if we do it every day and that's all it is how come we have to learn to do it?

    Ah well you see this is the magic about hypnosis.  It's not how to do it, better to say how to use it for your benefit.  It is not the actual hypnosis that you are using but tools that you can include in your experience in order to make that self-hypnosis impact-full for you.

    A self hypnosis course will teach you how to access that hypnotic state at will.  So that if you feel a 'power nap' would be beneficial you could use hypnosis to give you that restful period.  And when you are in that very relaxed state in a controlled way i.e. choosing to go there then it is far more refreshing than an actual 15 min nap.

    Wish fulfillment

    Self hypnosis is also useful when you want to plan ahead and aim for the things you want to achieve.  Unfortunately most people either wish for something without putting enough thought into it and taking the bigger picture into account or they wish for what they don't want. i.e. I don't want to eat cream cakes. which is focusing on the negative rather than the actual aims.

    So a big part of a self-hypnosis course would be to understand what you want, check it out and explore the consequences of this wish coming true.  If it is all okay then it is about learning how to embed that wish into your 'self'-hypnosis session.

    It is truly amazing that so many people use self-hypnosis wrongly and are reinforcing the things they want to leave behind or hoping for something without preparing the road effectively.

    Self hypnosis when carried out acturately can help you to:

    • Relax and be calm

    • Enjoy better quality sleep

    • Improve your confidence & self-esteem

    • Be a better public speaker

    • Improve your memory

    • Enhance your performance at work and sports

    • Become healthier and fitter

    • Promote rapid healing and recovery

    • Control or reduce pain without drugs

    • Learn faster and pass exams

    • Enjoy pregnancy and wonderfully natural childbirth (women only of course!)

    All that's left now then is to find a course and register.

    A Quick Word about Hypnosis Recordings

    You can of course buy or download a recording that gives you a guided visualisation or a gradual muscle relax.  Often they are themed.  This can sometimes be a problem as one size never fits all.  However, the biggest problem with these recordings is the skill of the people who made them.  If you are buying a recording you need to buy it from someone who has a reputation like Paul McKenna for instance and not someone who has just run a few recording off.  Paul McKenna, love him or loathe him will not risk his reputation by making mistakes in his dialogue.

    If you choose this option and play it regularly you will probably find that as you start to get used to the story you seems to drift off into your own world at a certain point and it is almost like you have drifted off to sleep but you have not as you awaken immediately the recording ends.  That is quite normal and you could imagine it as you mind getting fed up of hearing the same story and wandering to explore elsewhere.  This is not a problem as the recording is still registering in the correct place.
    My clients have told me about and brought to me several recordings by qualified therapists where they have given ill-though-out suggestions,  The client often eventually spots the mistake themselves and stops listening to it.  Sometimes it has caused a set back for the client that might take some time to reverse.

    Andrea Lowe
    Senior Hypnotherapist
    Course Tutor on Diploma Course in Hypnotherapy
  3. You are What you Think

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    freedomThis week we heard about yet another person who has given up a safe job with regular money to plunge into the depths of self-employment after trying to manage a job and what could only be described as a hobby which will now be her source of income.  This follows not long after Rachael left the confines of working in a salon to branching out with her own place.

    It is a brave step to take - we know this and it is not easy - we know this too and you work longer hours that you would for an employer - oh yes we know this.

    However, the mental freedom that you gain from being your own boss, creating your own business, using your many latent talents and discovering the need to learn even more are exciting, challenging and rewarding - we know this.  They can also be daunting and downright heart stopping scary when you enter the big bad world.

    Of course it all depends on how you look at it.

    It is very telling that during the peak years of the  recession more people than ever (at least in our circle) left well paid high pressured jobs and went it alone.  They decided that they could forego a few foreign holidays and camp in Ashworth Valley in the rain instead and believe it or not it can be just as good fun if you look at it in the right way.

    So it is about the way you look at things and when you look in a positive way you are open to opportunities that come your way.  However, when you look at it from a scary position than you see all the possible dangers and threats and miss the opportunities.

    Whether it is about leaving your job or about your approach to life, finding a partner the positive and opptomistic outlook is always best.

    Stopping this positive outlook are memories and learned behaviours from the past.  You feel guilty about enjoying your life, you believe life should be a struggle, youthink you don't deserve to be happy, you feel responsible for others.

    As the Froxen songs says 'Let it go'.  Be happy

    If you want to talk about some of these issues informally I offer free consultations so just emails for an appointment.

    Andrea Lowe
    Senior Hypnotherapist and trainer


  4. Where is Serendipity

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    Have you ever been to serendipity?

    brambley hedge

    Let me guide you there. 

    As soon as you walk into serendipity it feels like one of those magical enthralling places that captured your heart in story books from childhood, like Brambly Hedge and other favourites.  Those magical memories remain and stay with you in adulthood.

    Serendipity feels different  for everyone but for me it mmediately reminds me of beautiful illustrations of  wonderful little cosy homes hidden amongsts the roots of the trees.  As soon as I step through the door into serendipity I feel like I have stepped into a fariytale whisking me to the wonderful memories of those magical stories that are always there,  waiting to be accessed and brought to life once again.  Even adults deserve a little fairlytale magic.   Once you enter there are interesting corners of magic to explore and cosy  places to nestle down and relax. 

    Then all you have to do is relax and wait for serendipity to happen ... and it always does .... though you have to be patient and dedicated.  Ask all the people who have encountered 'coincidences' and got just what they needed in serendipity.

    Serendipity is a place called Zen

  5. Book review - A Question of Guilt

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    If  you want to be taken through a rollacoaster of emotions, questions and opinions.  If you want to discover that you can't trust your own mind then read this book.

    The author is a lawyer and the book is about a lawyer defending an innocent man.... but is he.  The lawyer goes through twists and turns in the plot - questionsing her own decisions, unsure of her client.  But finally thinks she has the final proof she needs of his innocense.  She gets him off but that final knowing smile, should she take that as a heads up that shes been conned>

    Very well researed and accurate in detail as you would expect from a real life lawyer.

    Though provoking

    Author Frances Fyfield

  6. Book Review - Fallen Women

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    As you might imagine this book is mainly about a girls from a wealthy background whose behaviour has resulted in her being repeatedly rejected.

    It is a story unfolding and gives an interesting insight into women living in period New York.  As with anyone who ill considers others there are many innocent people dragged into the nightmare.  Her sister, who naively believes only good about her siste,r travels to New York to work with the police in solving her murder.  Gradually all those around her open up and it is revealed that the girls wasn't the innocent that everyone wanted her to be.

    So it's a murder mystery with whore houses, drug dens and ore thrown in.  Most of all it is very isightful about relationships and how we believe what we want to believe based on our own value systems.

    Recommended for anyone studying therapy or interested in the human mind and emotions

    Author is Sandra Dallas