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  1. 30423439Picturing ski slopes reduces hay-fever symptoms by a third. Sniffles be gone: self-hypnotism may provide a partial cure to hay fever.

    People itching for a solution to seasonal allergies could get help from self-hypnosis, a team of Swiss researchers suggests. The study finds that simply focusing one's thoughts on allergen-free environments can reduce symptoms of hay fever by one-third.

    Although the arrival of spring brings better weather, it also triggers the release of plant pollens that cause allergies. Hay fever affects about 10-15% of adults in industrialized nations. To treat this, people turn to medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and sometimes steroids. But these can cause side-effects such as drowsiness, a dry mouth and raised blood pressure.

    Allergy sufferers have sought alternatives approaches, including psychotherapy-related methods, to ease their itchy eyes and runny noses. Wolf Langewitz of the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, and his colleagues sought to find out how well self-hypnosis works.

    “We felt that the results were encouraging enough to tell people to try it, because this intervention is free of side-effects.” - Wolf Langewitz
    University Hospital Basel, Switzerland

    About 40 patients stuck with the regime for roughly two years, and were tested for their biological response to allergens: they were exposed to pollen and their congestion was assessed using a device that measures airflow through nasal passages.

    The participants were tested twice: once in the absence of self-hypnosis, and once after practising this form of therapy. Their symptoms, as measured by the congestion test and from simply asking the patients how they felt, dropped by a third thanks to hypnosis.

    Langewitz admits that the findings are preliminary and a bigger study is needed. But, he says, "we felt that the results were encouraging enough to tell people to try it, because this intervention is free of side-effects". Sheerin adds that the treatment may have other benefits: "Some people can't afford the medicine."
    Abstract from original Article - Self-hypnosis squelches allergies, by Roxanne Khamsi, NATURE MAGAZINE

  2. yinyangThere is a saying in Yoga that goes "Yoga is meant to find us where ever we are in life".

    This is a wonderful selling point for yoga because it is saying that we don't necessarily have to be flexible or mentally calm to practice yoga. Nor do we have to have a burning desire to persue the loftier aims of yoga of Self Enquiry, penetrating deep into the dormant levels of our personality in a quest to find the true Self.

    Of course these challenging portals are there for anyone to aspire to but where ever YOU are right now even a modest daily practice of yoga techniques can soon begin to enhance the quality of your experience of life. After all at the end of the day this is what we all really want from our yoga: a better quality of life and most of all, PEACE or SHANTI as it is known in yoga speak.

    In my experience of yoga teaching for some ten years and over 30yrs of personal practice, most students who embark on the yoga journey only do so for physiological reasons. They want to get flexible, toned and stronger without busting a gut. They want to get some relief from the everyday stresses of work and family pressures. So can yoga do this for them? Do they have to subscribe to the spiritual path of yoga to really benefit.

    The answer to the first question is Yes it can do this for them with persistent practice. The answer to the second question is No but they may find that even with passive practice whatever their spiritual beliefs might be or whatever they think about there being something eternal and higher than this reality then that may well start to become clearer and more meaningful to them.

    Yoga postures are not just physical exercises. When we look more inquiringly at the nature of the various poses we begin to see that they all carry some identity or what we might call an archtype that we can connect with.

    For example many of the postures are named after animals and there is an inference that the great Hatha Yoga Masters wanted us to find a significant charcateristic of these animals that might bring us benefits. catFor example the Cat Pose (Viralasana) allows us to take the spine in two directions, one to flex the spine the other to extend it while at the same time optimising and synchronizing the breath while between these two positions.

    This movemefighting bearsnt is no doubt beneficial to the cat and when we adopt this pose it has the potential to bring us benefits of a similar nature.

    The Eagle Pose (Garundasana) is a balanciong pose that brings poise,steadiness and concentration a  charcteristic essential to the survival of this proud hunting bird. While we may not need its predatorial gifts we can benefit from the poise, steadiness and concentration that this pose brings us. Furthermore, balancing poses such as the Eagle can cultivate mental and psychic balance and patience too.

    In addition to animals, poses are also named after geometrical shapes, natural phenonema, and human characteristics.

    Examples include: the geometrical shape of the Triangle (trikonasana). Apart from the triangles physiological benefits of stregthening the legs,and mobilizing the hips its positioning can give us the vibrational attributes of the triangle shape of completeness and uniformity that this pose displays and impacts on our awareness.

    The natural phenonema of the standing Mountain Pose (Tadasana) brings us strength and solidness from the flexions in the feet and legs and pelvis giving us that immoveable feeling whatever comes our way. It can build confidence.and steadfastness as it translates to our daily lives.

    The human characteristics of the Child Pose (Balasana) creating that return to the womb feeling of release, trust and security, while the Warrior Pose (Virabhandrasana) in contrast can bring us many of the qualities of the the warrior: strength, fortitude, confidence, courage and determination.

    Many of the qualities I have mentioned here are not just meant to be experienced while on the mat in a yoga class or while you practice in the privacy of your own bedroom but can be exprerssed to our daily lives.

    Many of us come to believe or perceive that yoga is mostly about posture even though in reality it is much more than this. Yet, if posture is so important then it has to benefit us in our daily lives. If yoga posturing is worth its salt it has to gradually make us more aware of our posture when we are not in class or on our mats. If we sit in a poor position when relaxing or eating or driving or working then this can undo much good work we do in our yoga practice. So it is a vital part of our practice that we cultivate an ever progressing sense of physical and mental awareness so that we can take this into our day to day lives maintaining what we have learnt about our bodies while in the deep absorption of posture.

    I said at the beginning that yoga is meant to enhance the quality of our experience of life and while yoga is not strictly meant to be a therapy it can still be therapeutic. I have read often that some schools of thought believe that yoga should never be used for physical development or treatment and that the legacy of yoga posturing is to liberate the mind through the body. While a part of me also believes in the importance of this I also believe that if yoga can help us with a physical obstacle then why not use it for that reason. After all if when we sit to meditate we are plagued for example with an aching back or nervousness or anxious breathing that can possibly be alleviated with more specific and directed yoga practices then this can only benefit the smoothing out of our mental distractions.One of the misconception about yoga meditationis that one has to sit in a meditative pose whatever the feeling. The most important thing is that whatever meditative pose you adopt if you do meditate you must be comfortable with as few distractions as possible. Otherwise you focus will be on those distractions.

    There are postures that can help us with individual problems whether on a physical, psychological or emotional level and while a general rounded practice can help with any of these, getting to understand posture more and how specific postures and breathing can identify with our needs can help speed up our evolution on the yoga journey bringing us nearer to that better quality of experience and the peace that we all desire.


    Barry Todd (Hatha and Yin Yoga Teacher)

  3. A placebo is som1211h0013ething that has an effect for no known reason and therefore the effect is attributed to a belief rather than any intervention.  For a more detailed explanation and explosion of the placebo effect click here.

    Placebos have been around for a long time and the namw comes from the stem word to 'placate' meaning to soothe or please.

    In the USA placebo operations were carried on on patients with Osteoarthriis of the knee.  The result showed that there was no difference even after 12 months between the improvement of  the genuine op and the placebo op wheras the control group who did not have any kind of operation did not improve and deteriorated post the experiment.  The placebo op was a nick in the knee and conversation in the theatre that would be similar to a normal operation. See report here

    The colour of the tablet is carefully considered by pharmaceutical companies.  Research has shown that the correctly chosen colour can enhance the effectiveness of the medication.

    As more and more evidence comes in to show that our thoughts have a profound effect on our bodies.  So then you would think that we should all be able to think ourselves healthy  ... but it's not that simple.  The subjects of the placebo effect are not thinking themselves well, they are believing themselves well and that's hard to manufacture.  We rarely have any control over it.  It's just one of those thoughts that we don't even know we are thinking.

    In this country it is considered bad form for the NHS to make use of placebo but that doesn't stop the placebo working the other way.  How easy is it to form a belief when you have the word of a professional i.e. "You have arthritis and will need a replacement knee wthin 5 years", "You have congenital heart problems in your family we will have to keep a regular check on your heart function".  Two potential negative placebos are instantly in place in those examples. We shouldn't just blame the doctors though, you know yourself that we all have a little hypnochondria in us and to some extent when we read/hear about symptoms can recognise them in ourselves. 

    It is and has been said by some very prominent people that anything you can image you can have and unfortunately that works for the negative things too.

    Do you know what you are thinking?

    Well considering we have an estimated average of 15,000 thoughts per day - that's 10 per minute, every minute of the day and night, it's probably fair to say that for most of the time you do not know what you are thinking.

    Yoga masterMany thoughts are going to be reinforcing your beliefs so for the knee patients from the experiment they would be regularly telling themselves that the operation had improved their knee and it was cleaned out and getting better.  They would feel the emotional relief  of the promise of less from the pain.  A belief that they weren't really aware of but just accept.

    Out of those 15,000 thoughts at least 1/2 are said to be negative.  That's an awful lot of negativity that you are absorbing without even knowing it for most of the time.  So it's not unreasonable to think that if your positive beliefs can make you better then your negative ones can make you ill.

    Research into quatum physics is now beginning to show that our thoughts have influences and effects that we never even dreamed of not only on ourselves but also on the biosphere around us.  Therefore our thoughts can effect others and the world we live in.  But the first stop for our thoughts is our body.

    So does positive thinking work?

    There are mathumbs upny books around on the power of positive thinking and plenty of best sellers on the subject to and while a positive is better than a negative one, it would be impossible to use positive affirmations to replace all those negative thoughts that are working away in the background of your mind.

    Some of the negative thoughts are worries and those are more noticable so that you can start to change things by being vigilant and learning to rationalise your thought processes in order to eventually worry less.  It's a lot easier to just carry on worrying though.

    Spiritual beliefs are much deeper than positive thoughts.  Even unrealistic or unreasonable beliefs.  Ingrained beliefs from the past that are not really relevant or sensible are also difficult to overcome unless you stop and rethink them each time they pop up i.e. it is wasteful to not empty your plate.- but worse - you will never get anywhere with your attitude etc. etc.

    Creating the positive belief in the face of all the implanted negatives is serious business.

    Being more consicous of the words you are using for both internal and external communication can be a useful start towards beginning to chance the way you think.  See here for free offer


    If you saw a hyperdermic needle and someone told you they were going to inject you with a miracle cure for tiredness or depression or the common cold and you saw them preparing the injection, then you were asked to look away and you felt a pin prick or a hair on your arm being pulled then you would probably believe you had the injection.  What'smore you would probably notice that you were less tired or more cheerful or brushed off your colds more easily.  Just because you had reasonable evidence to support the fact that you had the injection.

    Hypnotherapy is able to get beyond your doubt and  create a new thought, which if congruent with your desires will begin to act like a belief at least temporarily.  So for instance you would not need to go to the trouble of arranging a hyperdermic needle for hypnotic suggestion to give you the belief that you were feeling more energetic, more cheerful or less susceptible to colds.

    Using self-hypnosis can also help to change a desire into a belief.  Check out our new self-hypnosis course starting soon.

    This is good but the trouble is that often the underlying belief doesn't want to go away.  It's being occupying your mind for a while and doesn't want to give up, so it can be a long process to persuade and encourage your negative thoughts to let go.

    For a million corrupt and faulty reasons negative thoughts, beliefs and influences will not give up.  Many people are aware of them but just don't know what to do about them.  People are left feeling less than they could be, unfulfilled and if not miserable at least tense and mildly suffering.  Some people who are basically positive tend to put a brave face on it and try to ignore this, others find ways to divert their attention from it often never being able to relax and always having to be busy doing something. You can see how all this effort creates an emotional conflict and over a period of time that internal unrest and underlying negativity is going to show up in physical symptoms.

    Resolving these deep routed negative beliefs is a skilled job and rarely one that can be done without professional help.  Hypnoanalysis can set you free from this negative entrapment.

    Tablets that mask the symptoms (that need attention) tend to work for a while but will eventaully throw out more symptoms needing more medication until you are taking medication purely to conteract the effects of the medication you are taking.

    We are not yet developed enough to use the great potential of our mind to fully treat our health but I believe we are at the dawning of a new era where we will start to take more responsiblity for our health care and expect a naturally healthy life.

    However, working on yourself and using several methods to create a more positve mind set is always helpful until that time comes.

    Here are a few suggestions from the thousands of ideas out there:

    • Look up towards the ceiling or sky when you're feeling down - it will lift your spirits..
    • Try chanting a positive affirmation each monring before you start your day.
    • Use time in the car (especially in jams) to affirm your calmness/positivity/enthusiasm/professionalism
    • Don't worry about things you have no influence over - it will happen or it won't - worrying about it will only make any potential outcome worse.
    • Think of the good things you have done
    • Don't expect too much of yourself and acknowledge your efforts
    • Smile at people that you don't know - make someones day.
    • Laugh at your problems or worries

    Please feel free to add your own comments and suggestions below.

    Did you know that placebos can also have a negative effect resulting in the recipient experiencig negative symptoms - know as a nocebo.