Meditation types and their benefits

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Part 1 – Research into different Meditation types and their benefits.
Part 2 – One chosen meditation type, explaining the possible positive benefits of using it for someone suffering from:  a) Depression, b) Stress, and c) Anxiety.
Plus I have added a suggested 2nd type to add at a later stage, explaining why.

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INTRO :

In this article, which I am writing as an assignment for my “Mindfulness in Mental Health” course, I am sharing a lot of detail about meditation types, and research that has been done to show how they can benefit us. It is quite astonishing how much can be achieved!  Even though I have been practising all sorts of types myself for many years, I did not realise that the benefits could be quite so huge.

I have also chosen one type to look at using, specifically for people suffering with Depression, Stress, or Anxiety. I discuss why I think that type of meditation would work well with these conditions, detailing the positive benefits of the type for each condition.

I have also included a secondary choice, to use after one has become confident in using the first choice, because I think it has additional benefits, which I will explain.

My chosen types are the two most recommended for their accessibility, but the first choice is the one most often recommended for this reason, plus the one most often shown to be of benefit for the conditions mentioned.

PART 1 :

It’s pretty ironic that I found learning about all the different types of meditation and the research into the benefits of each quite stressful!  It’s just that there are so many types, and so much research, with so many articles already written about it, that it was quite a huge project to try to keep organised, and took ages. But it has been so worth it! There were many points throughout the project where I just felt incredibly happy. As a long-term practitioner and teacher of meditation, I was already familiar with most of the types, but it is so good to put together such a huge collection of evidence in an article I will now be able to share widely, and to be reminded of so many wonderful details!

I have been practising meditation pretty much all my life, and yet I never tried to follow one or other type specifically.  It seems I have tried all types to a degree, often mixing methods as it turns out, but it has all been an organic progression of discovery and I have always been very happy with my results.  I would still actually recommend mixing it up to anyone embarking on their own journey, follow your heart and intuition.

However, some methods are easier to start with, such as Mindfulness Meditation, and there is a huge body of studies to show that it is very effective for a whole host of things, including reducing the symptoms and recurrence of depression, and helping to deal with anxiety and stress (more details later). So it already looks like this is the method I would suggest beginning with, if you suffer from any of those conditions.  The other huge benefit of this method is that it makes a person more self-aware – they become able to monitor themselves and use methods of coping as needed. That’s got to be a huge boon for anyone, as long as they are willing to get started and give it a chance.

I think maybe the biggest challenge for people suffering with depression, or anxiety, might be finding the initial motivation to engage with the process. Although I suggest that starting in a group situation may be best initially, I can see that finding, and then going to, a group might in itself be a difficult thing to achieve. However, most groups will really make you feel safe and comfortable if you give them the chance. You don’t really have to do much other than sit quietly and follow along with the meditations. Also, you could enlist someone to go with you if that would help. I feel prompted to suggest here that you look at things in a way that is the foundation of brief solution focused therapy – where you count every initial step you take as a huge plus – something you have already managed to achieve – so someone who manages to overcome inertia, or fear and anxiety, to get to a group, or start doing something themselves, is already considered to be well on the way to recovery.

For people suffering from stress – please don’t allow yourself to continue this way, take back control – take time for yourself, do whatever you need to do to get back your health and happiness. Don’t let anyone deter you in this, it’s absolutely crucial that you turn things around as soon as possible, before it gets worse. Define what is important to you and get well again, then you will be able to function properly for the good of yourself and everyone around you. As Mindworks.org says, “Meditation is a very grounded and important technique for relieving stress.”

According to mentalhealthdaily.com there are 3 primary methods of meditation:  They say that the most popular types include Vipassana (focused attention or concentration), Mindfulness (open monitoring ), and Transcendental (effortless awareness), but that there are infinitely more, although they mostly fit into these categories of Concentration (or Focused Attention), Open Monitoring, or Effortless Awareness (Transcending).  

The site then explains in more detail, but first I would like to say that I much prefer “focused attention”.  I think that “concentration” tends to get in the way of the process, it should be a relaxed and gentle focus, never a forced thing.  The same applies to divination or healing, you just have to be soft about it to let it flow well. Smiling helps soften things. Focus on breathing does help at the start of any meditation, and so does relaxing of all parts of your body.

Anyway, mentalhealthdaily.com says that Vipassana technique is to focus attention on one specific thing the whole time, eventually without distraction. It could be an external object or on the breathing.  They say that you can also develop Mindfulness along with this.

They say that in Mindfulness, you let your attention flow freely, without judgement or attachment.  You simply observe perceptions, thoughts, memories, and sensations that you experience, openly monitoring (or being mindful of them) but not becoming involved in them (remaining detached from them). You observe them almost from a third-person perspective. You notice but do not react positively or negatively.  My husband says he feels like he is flying above his life, looking at it from a distance (creating detachment) and just observing the patterns, events, thoughts. To me, mindfulness can be quite a wakeful state of meditation, you can even do it while going about daily tasks, taking a walk, etc. When practised, you can even do it to a degree when in conversation (so that you don’t over-react to anything). Your view can easily become more objective than subjective, especially if you pause to allow for the switch. So it is great to use during everyday interactions and observations of the world, where you notice what you might otherwise have called beauty or ugliness, but you do not judge or attach to anything.  It can be very helpful to detach your own thinking from events, then you can see that you could change your perspective, even train your own mind to help you manage life situations. You can become non-judgemental of others, and even of yourself, which helps you let go of all sorts of negatives and move forward into a positive flow of feeling able to cope. You can become non-judgemental of life itself – see how everything has to be included in some overall state of balance to allow life to even exist at all. Nothing is black & white after all, there are many details you may not know behind why a situation has become the way it seems. We can actually release a lot of pain & suffering by gaining a more objective perspective. As in Transcendental Meditation – everything is interconnected, but with Mindfulness this is generally more of a logical conclusion than in the blissful, mystical melding of TM. However, it appears that many places such as schools are open to teaching Mindfulness, possibly because it is quite a logical and accessible method, so this type of meditation is probably going to be the most useful to society as a whole. The effects are probably also the most tangible and obvious, and have been extensively researched and documented.

Mentalhealthdaily.com say that Transcendental Meditation is classified as effortless because it requires no mental effort or concentration.  It is sometimes called “pure being” because the aim is to help you recognize your pure essence, or pure self, or true nature – by eliminating all thought.  It is named “transcendental” because it involves emptiness. Apparently some say it’s like giving the brain a massage or a bath. Anyway, you silence the mind to become aware of deep states of consciousness, which can feel great. However it is generally considered more difficult to achieve, requiring patient practice. It my help to start with Vipassana type meditations to help still the chattering mind. For me, the mind slips into a state where it is empty of everyday stuff, then suddenly there is space for universal consciousness to flood in.  This feels incredibly beautiful and benevolent, filling me with love, inspiration, gnosis, and peace. You have to relax the brain rather than use effort, and it’s easier to do in surroundings that you love. As a child I did this naturally when out on my own in the wilderness, as luckily I was fortunate enough to be able to do from a very young age. I used to very much struggle with accepting the human race as part of the all encompassing picture though, when they often seemed so against nature and even each other. I got much more sociable in boarding high school though. I still sometimes struggle with certain elements of humanity, but fortunately non-judgemental and loving kindness practices help, and I know that everyone must play their part.  Although I still think there is a lot we could change, I guess I accept that it has to take all types to make a world, and we each make our own heaven or hell, at least to a point. I have to say I have to question how people being bombed by other people could be objective though, and many of the common personal development type phrases or quotes seem laughable in this context. But I can only hope that if more people meditate then there will less people to drop bombs.

Mentalhealthdaily.com then goes on to list many other techniques:

Guided meditations – are something that can be used to help you start out to learn about meditation, and each one can help with different things.  You can find many online, in fact I create some myself. They often include music and/or nature sounds to relax you and words to guide you.  However I suggest always listening to them first without headphones and without going deeply into them, so that you can assess their suitability for you.  It’s no good being led into an ocean or under a waterfall if you are afraid of water, or being told to fly like an eagle if you are afraid of heights. Some meditations might lead you down steps to help deepen your meditation but I suggest you only do these if you are with someone else or more experienced.  If you ever feel like you can’t get back to full awareness simply press any part of you touching the ground into the ground, or if you are not touching the ground you could press yourself onto the bed or chair etc. Or you could press your hands together or onto your legs, even rubbing them, and you could also try making a sound, like a hum, to help.  If you are with someone else who doesn’t seem to be coming round after a session, then you can do this for them, pressing their feet, hands, legs, etc, and encouraging them gently to come back to full awareness of where you are. Many guided meditations will help you return fully anyway. A group leader will give people a little space to finish in case they are receiving some great enlightenment, then help ensure they return after a few moments.  I’ve had the most amazing experiences with guided meditations taking me off on amazing adventures within moments, or taking me deep into healing peace, but I’ve also found others that bring me up short, going “Oh no! What?” Everyone is different so I am sure you will find plenty to suit you. Guided meditations are a bit like tools in a toolbox or brushes and paints in an art set, that you can use at will. One might talk you through dealing with anger, helping to change your perspective, whereas another one may simply take you on a stroll into a garden to sit peacefully on a bench and use all your senses to visualize and enjoy the surroundings.  So guided meditations often tend to be used for specific purposes, whereas TM and Mindfulness Meditation my have a wider general effect on your state of mind or consciousness. Guided Meditations are like one path of Vipassana, where you focus on a journey or process, and of course the guide is helping you focus instead of you having to figure out how to focus on one object or thought. You will benefit from using a variety of Guided meditations, whereas TM and Mindfulness are more overreaching. With Mindfulness though, you will develop ways of applying it to help with any aspects of your life your wish to.

Affirmations – are also tools to help you with specific things.  You can find ones that suit you, and you can also make up your own.  They might be incorporated into guided or other forms of meditation, but they can also be used on their own, a bit like mantras, to assure you of certain positive things.  My favourite is “I love, and am loved.” I use it often to open a meditation, together with deep, slow breathing, and a smile. It opens my energy to interlinking with the universal.  A few other examples might be “My health and confidence is continually increasing”, or “I appreciate all those around me, their unique personalities and their part in my life”, or “I notice the beauty in small things everywhere in the moments of my life”, or “I am grateful for everything I have”.  Even just one gratefulness & appreciation mantra first thing in the morning can change your outlook for the whole day, and at night it can bring great peace to your sleep.

A Body Scan meditation – can help you notice tensions in parts of your body and release them or learn whatever you might need to from them, and become more balanced.

Progressive Relaxation meditation – helps relax each part of your body progressively.

Music and guided Imagery can be used in many ways to help relax you and lead you towards achieving certain objectives.  There might by musical mantras or sounds that you like, or recordings of music that can affect particular brainwave patterns, according to their frequency.

Loving Kindness (Metta Meditation) helps to cultivate unconditional love and kindness towards others. It’s derived from Theravada Buddhism.  This of course does help you to feel a lot happier in yourself. There is scientific evidence for this, and of it increasing brain waves and neural activity.  Heck, I know that even a smile makes you feel better, and this makes you smile more. Naturally, using the mind helps – any positive use has to help you by its very nature.  In Theravada Buddhism, Metta apparently means any sort of love without attachment. You direct kindness and goodwill to yourself first, then out to others – at first to friends & family, then to strangers, then to even the more ‘difficult’.  When consistently practised, feelings of pure joy will arise. Those who suffer from depression, negative thinking, and anger outbursts, will significantly benefit. I suggest we always check we are being humble when ‘doing good work’. Too much pride is never attractive and they do say that pride often comes before a fall. Rather it is good to learn to laugh at ourselves, it fits well with the natural flow of life and consciousness. I like to do loving kindness along with Tai Chi type movements that symbolize the sharing of love/energy between myself and the earth, and myself and others. Elsewhere Loving Kindness Meditation is referred to as Compassion Meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation (MBSR or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is one specific use for this).  The idea is that you focus on a life circumstance or present moment, and pay attention to all emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts, without judgement.  So it’s like Vipassana really, and can be done in deep meditation or in a more wakeful state. It’s supposed to help you become increasingly aware and non-reactive.  They do say you can use it while sitting in a traffic jam, walking, eating, etc. You could focus on the wondrous taste of food and how it’s going to benefit your amazing body.  It’s also great to help focus on the beauty around you, to become aware that there is so much you can be happy about in the world. Or at least to stay calm while in a tricky situation, maybe even learn from it.  I think the teaching of mindfulness is most useful for giving people tools to help them cope with life, for enabling them to see things in different ways and not feel stuck in negative attitudes. I do love walking, with focus on breath and enjoying everything around.  Our bodies and how they move and work are incredible, and you can feel connected to the natural world, the sun, the wind, the leaves blowing, the flowers reaching up their exquisite faces to the light, the variety of wildlife, and so on.

Qigong (Chi Gong) is rooted in Chinese Medicine, with the aim of unifying body, breath, and mind.  It’s a moving meditation, and you can do a similar thing with other forms of movement such as Tai Chi.  The goal is to cultivate and balance qi (chi) energy. It’s incorporated into Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.  It’s obviously also good exercise. I do my own intuitive dances / exercises for this at home sometimes, only having a little knowledge of Tai Chi movements & principles, but it feels great.  It incorporates a softness of gaze, solid stance, relaxation, central balance (dantien), and equanimity. Actually I also learnt about something called Trager Mentastics (mental gymnastics) which helped me a lot to intuitively create my movements.  Then I add the flow of chi which you can direct to yourself, then others, then out to the universe, then into the earth, for example, so there can be a touch of loving kindness in there too.

Taoist Meditation derived from Lao Tzu in China, is about harmony – with nature mostly, but then we are part of nature.  It incorporates concentration (I always prefer focus), mindfulness, contemplation, and advanced forms of visualization. Buddhist practices have significant parallels.  The primary objective is to become one with the Tao, so it’s a bit like TM in that way too. [Tao (In Chinese philosophy) is the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behaviour, that is in harmony with the natural order. The interpretation of Tao in the Tao-te-Ching developed into the philosophical religion of Taoism.]

Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism) incorporated into Lama and Guru Yoga – is quite complex, but increases neurological adaptations such as stimulation and mental focus.

Vipassana means insight into reality – so the focus on an object, contemplation, and mindful breathing, helps you gain new insights.  It also helps increase internal awareness, so is good for stress relief (which has been scientifically proven).

Yoga is considered an integral form of physical, mental, and spiritual practice, and is used in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.  It dates back to pre-vedic Indian tradition. Many forms of yogic meditation can help achieve mental freedom, self-knowledge, and self-realization (moksha).  Practice typically involves conduct (yamas and niyamas), postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. The limbs of yoga that embody meditative practice are pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi.  There are chakra meditations, gazing meditations (trataka), kundalini, kriya (energy), nada (sound), pranayama (breath), self-inquiry, tantra, and third eye meditations.

Zen (or Zazen) comes from Chinese Buddhism and means seated meditation, but goes back to the 6th century Indian monk Bodhidharma. Generally you tame the mind by counting the breath. In the Soto tradition, observing the mind is the primary focus, being aware of thoughts non-judgmentally, so it’s similar to Mindfulness. Group meditations are called “Sesshin”, and “Koans” are sometimes used to gain insight through having to solve them. You can also do walking meditations called “Kinhin” as well as the sitting “Zen” ones.

Which Meditation should you practice?

I have never been the type of person to fit into boxes, to follow one tradition or another – I tend to draw what I want from different places, and luckily internet research allows us to access so much information! I prefer to be the ultimate master of myself, and am happy to learn from many masters, as long as they don’t want me to pay them exorbitant sums or become enslaved to their ‘faction’. I keep moving, keep learning, keep as fresh and stimulated as I possibly can despite my ageing.

Although the science of how meditation creates neural and physiological changes is quite new, we do know that different types of meditation produce specific neural and physiological adaptations – so choosing one form may literally transform your brain in an entirely different way than another. So choose wisely, or, as I do, mix it up!

Remember that meditation could increase social isolation if you separate yourself too much from those around you, so please ensure you do not allow it to do this, especially if you suffer from depression or anxiety.  Perhaps you would be better meditating in a group than on your own. It is also probably safer at least to start with, in case you have any weird experiences, as the group leader will always be able to support you with knowledge and compassion.

Remember that, for anyone, it is no good to withdraw too much from the life around you, no matter how great your experiences of meditation might be, they are not a substitute for real life interactions and the environment around you. You need to keep the external balanced with the internal, in other words don’t lose your ability to get on with daily life by overdoing it. The benefits of meditation are actually supposed to be incorporated into daily life to become effective. Too much inward focus can become unhealthy if not balanced with the external. I love walking meditations where you can appreciate the weather, the flowers, trees etc, as this is nicely balanced, and you can even just do it on the way to work etc.

I say that the greatest thing to remember about meditation is that you need to integrate it into daily life. Your insights are really beneficial if you can make them work actively for you – to increase your understanding of and compassion for our world and all life, and your ability to actively engage with and enjoy it. For this reason I recommend that all meditation should ultimately be used this way, and therefore those types that encourage you to do this are the most beneficial.

On the website curiosity.com I found an article that also states that different types of meditation do different things to your brain, and they go into this in more detail.

They said that studies at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognition and Brain Sciences showed results of 300 volunteers using 3 different meditation techniques, for 3 months apiece, one 3 month period after the other. The details were published in Science Advances:

Mindfulness Meditation (including breathing, body scans, walking, and zeroing in on sights, smells, and tastes) was associated with developing a thicker prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe, both linked to attention control.

Compassion Meditation, also called loving kindness. (This included repeating phrases like “May you be happy, safe, healthy, and live with ease”. The phrases were firstly directed to themselves, then to someone close to them, then to someone they felt neutral about, and eventually to someone they had difficulties with, and finally to all beings on earth. They also focused on accepting their emotions and practising forgiveness and self-compassion. Then they told each other about experiences that were difficult or made them feel grateful, without interpretation or feedback.) This showed increases in the limbic system, which processes emotions, and also a boost to the anterior insula, which helps you consciously identify your emotions.

Perspective Taking Training asked volunteers to observe their own thoughts as mental events instead of representations of reality.  In the first phase they labelled their thoughts “Me” or “Other”, “Past” or “Future”, and “Positive” or “Negative” – but as they progressed, they were able to just observe them coming and going without labels.  There was also an exercise where participants learned about the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach, which divides the mind into sub-personalities or parts, such as “Managers”, which try to keep you in control of situations, and “Exiles”, which try to protect you from pain, and “Firefighters”, which react when “Exiles” are activated in order to extinguish bad feelings. They all told stories from the perspective of one of these inner parts without telling the listeners which one, and the listeners had to figure it out from the story. This helped the storyteller take a bird’s-eye-view of their own experiences, and the listeners to infer the perspective of the storyteller. This process was associated with thickening of the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, the left occipital region, and the middle temporal gyrus – all linked to Theory of Mind – the ability to understand that others have beliefs, intentions, and perspectives different from yours, and to infer what they might be.

So Meditation really is a basket label for a whole host of different cognitive exercises. If you asked a sport expert what sport does to your body, they would first ask which type of sport, as each one would affect different parts. So you can find a type of meditation to exercise or develop specific skills.

An article in New Scientist also said that some types of meditation change parts of the brain associated with attention and others can change social and emotional circuitry. Their article said that a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Oxford wondered if it made a difference if all test subjects followed the same set of types of meditation in the same order or not. He suggested that if all subjects did Mindfulness first that might make a difference to their attention ability for other types afterwards.

The same article says that a second study using the same volunteers looked at the impact of meditation on stress levels. The researchers found that Mindfulness alone made volunteers calmer, but their cortisol levels were no different from the control group. But after engaging in face-to-face sessions in addition to Compassion or Perspective based meditation, they showed a 51% drop in cortisol levels. This was regarded as important because most of the stress experienced in modern life is social – fear of being judged harshly or falling short of expectations – and it’s this that is linked to mental health problems and disease too.

So these findings show that Mindfulness Meditation alone may not save us from stress overload, but they thought that if it does help it would be more to do with practising it in a group situation.

In Forbes there was an article that said that increased IQ and enhanced brain function from ‘brain games’ is not evidenced, but meditation and mindfulness training have accumulated some impressive evidence, suggesting the practices can change our behaviour and moment-to-moment experience, as well as changing the structure and function of the brain. Basically the studies show that types of meditation activating certain parts of the brain, cause increases in corresponding areas. Apparently even just an 8 week MBSR program can shift brain function, improve well-being, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. The findings “suggest a potential biological basis for how mindfulness and different aspects of social intelligence could be nurtured”. They go on to say that “with growing globalization, interconnectedness, and complexity of our societies, ‘soft skills’ have become increasingly important. Social competence allows for better understanding of others feelings and beliefs, and is crucial for successful cooperation.”

On the Chopra Centre website chopra.com it says that to be successful meditation needs to be simple, comfortable, and have results that make you want to keep going with it. They also say that the right approach is to use whatever types work best for you.

They list Primordial Sound as a meditation type, using a vibrational mantra. They also list MBSR, Zen, and TM as other types. They say similar things about Zen as the other sites I have quoted from do, but also add that “you can acquire insight through observing the breath and the mind. Zen emphasises the attainment of enlightenment, and the personal expression of insight”. They say that kundalini yoga has a large range of techniques that carefully and precisely support the mind and guide the body. They go on to add that “There are hundreds of meditations tailored to specific applications such as reducing stress, working on addictions, increasing vitality, clearing chakras” and so on. They also say that “research shows that spending time in mindful meditation of any type can combat anxiety, stress, and depression, while heightening optimism, creativity, and vitality”.

I say that of course, as you start to progress, you will naturally gain more of a sense of hope, confidence, and self-worth, as you are basically learning to help yourself through these tools. You are giving yourself the precious gift of time and attention for holistic renewal of mind, body, and spirit. It is like accepting a kiss from the source of life, that goes straight to your heart and soul like a drop of bliss. It is both relaxing and exciting at the same time!

Mindworks.org says “Meditation is practised in virtually every community throughout the world. Through it we can discover an intriguing sense of calmness and inner harmony, but also a way to reduce the stress of everyday life….. It’s about becoming mindful, more focused and peaceful internally, and more aware of how we think and how we affect others externally….. Meditation is a very grounded and important technique for relieving stress, while also working on one’s own self awareness.”

I say that it also helps you to learn to cope out here/there in the world, as long as you don’t allow yourself to be reclusive. Sure, you can do a lot of work with it all by yourself, but ultimately it should be about helping yourself to integrate all that learning and practice into life in the wider world. If you have trouble with this then please do practice in a group and/or ensure that you incorporate loving kindness type exercises into your practice, to enable your psyche to become a bit more socially oriented and gain some new perspectives. Meditation is very personal, but it is also about helping you become able to cope socially too, to understand others at the same time as learning to understand yourself, so that you can integrate less stressfully. I think it is often best to start practising in a group anyway, as you will learn so much from the group leaders and the rest of the group, but also keep it personal, your own treasure to develop as you see fit, until it truly shines within you.

Mindworks lists 6 meditation techniques (I have added some comments of my own in brackets) :

Spiritual – connecting with higher power, theistic or not, and self reflection in silence in contrast to internal chatter. They say that this can lead to self improvement as well as to better care for others and the world around us.  
Mindfulness – which helps understanding of how our minds work to overcome dissatisfaction. They say you should: Acknowledge your reality, body, thoughts. / Observe your mind and thoughts. / Breathe. / Appreciate the present. / Be non-judgemental. They say that it reduces depression and anxiety, and gives a new perspective on things that distress us.  
Movement – being grounded and present in your body as you move. This can be used in martial arts or in walking, gardening, washing up. There can be great peace in action. (I suggest we can even do this when eating, and focus on the chewing well, and imagining how well the gut is absorbing those nutrients to fuel our bodies. I also like to use it when dancing or doing exercises, I send love to myself and the earth and others, and the love returns, goes in circles, with my body merely being a part in that energetic cycle of love and life.)  
Focused – on a task, the breath, feelings, the body, an external object, or on eating, exercising, etc. There should be no mind wandering, scattered mind. (Just be present and set any thoughts patiently aside.)  
Visualization – Images in the mind to create a feeling or quality – often natural scenes (but you can literally do this in whatever place or way you wish, so you could imagine playing a game of basketball with your friend for example, or you could even use it to imagine yourself in a situation you might soon have to be in, to train yourself to be calm in that situation, in preparation for it.) It uses a powerful aspect of mind for positive personal transformation. You can also use mandalas or symbols to evoke qualities such as compassion and wisdom.  
Chanting / Mantras – where you focus on sound, words, or melody in a contemplative way. Words or phrases can help clear the mind to be alert and connect to positive qualities.

Mindworks says that there is evidence that meditation improves sleep, reduces anxiety, relieves pain, lowers blood pressure, etc.

Healthline.com says pretty much the same, but instead of Visualization they list Transcendental as their 6th type of practice. They say that each type uses different skills & mindsets, and that overall “meditation is about altering consciousness, finding awareness, and achieving peace”. Some extras from them are :
Mindfulness – non judgemental awareness of thoughts. Observe and notice patterns, bodily sensations, and feelings.
Spiritual – can include the use of essential oils, which also have health benefits, for deep connection with God or the universe.
Focused – uses your senses, and can be internal or external. Can use bead counting, gong, candle flame, (flower), etc. If the mind wanders just return non-judgmentally to re-focus.
Movement – their info was the same as the other site’s.
Mantra – repeating word, phrase, or sound. Doesn’t matter what volume. Become alert and in tune with your environment. Experience deeper levels of awareness. This type might be easier for some who than focusing on breath or an object, and it’s also a good type to use if you don’t like silence. (You could use drumming to similar effect, or even the pounding of your feet if you are out on a run.)
Transcendental – the most popular and most studied type (although I think that recently Mindfulness might have overtaken it).TM uses structured processes and mantras specific to practitioners (teachers).

They also say that there is lots of evidence that meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and pain, eases depression symptoms, and improves sleep. They give this advice too: “Don’t force it. Gentle regular practice becomes sustaining and enjoyable. Open to possibility.”

Then again you have Lifeadvancer.com (in an article also shared on visualmeditation.co) saying there are 7 types. There is a new one listed here, and a fabulous description of Mindfulness:

TM – Transcendental – for enlightenment (as others did also say).
HRM – Heart Rhythm – for developing the application of consciousness, which concentrates on heart and breathing. To experience the mantra “I am part of all things and all things are part of me”. It has physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits, helping to handle stress, and to develop an appreciative, joyous spirit.
Kundalini – to feel energy rising up through the energy centres (chakras), and gain altered states of consciousness.
Guided Visualization – for goals such as healing, stress relief, and personal development. Using the imagination to create a positive experience which releases feel-good chemicals.
Qi Gong – to improve posture, respiration, and relaxation ability. Uses breath to circulate energy, and also uses movement and meditation. Helps control reactions to stress.
Zazen / Zen – for self guidance and mental discipline. Aim to forget all judgemental thoughts, ideas, and images. With a straight back, being centred, breathe to deepen and enhance the experience.
Mindfulness – to overcome suffering and understand natural wisdom. You acknowledge reality and accept wandering thoughts, focusing on the breath, and on the present, to gain understanding. It reduces anxiety, depression, and perceived distress.

Liveanddare.com takes a slightly different approach. The site says that there are loads more meditation types – 23 types of seated meditation plus lots of walking and other dynamic types, plus loads more not even listed.

They say that “scientists usually classify meditation types based on the way they focus attention, into 2 categories – focused attention and open monitoring.” But the writer of this piece adds a third – effortless presence.

Focused attention uses a single thing to focus on, such as breath, a mantra, a visualization, a part of the body, an external object, etc. With practice the attention strengthens and distraction subsides.
Open Monitoring means you should keep it open, monitor all aspects of experience without judgement or attachment.  All perceptions, be they internal (such as thoughts, feelings, memories, etc), or external (such as sound, smell, etc), are to be recognised and seen for what they are. The process of non-reactive monitoring of the content of experience from moment to moment, without going into them. (A sort of remote, non-involved, observation.)
Effortless Presence would then be the state where attention is not focused on anything in particular, but reposes on itself, quiet, empty, steady, (and introverted). They say it could be called “Choiceless Awareness” or “Pure Being”. Most quotes, the author says, refer to this state, and says that “this is actually the true purpose behind all kinds of meditation.  All techniques recognize that objects of focus or the process of monitoring, are just a means to train the mind, so that effortless inner silence and deeper states of consciousness can be discovered. When the means (object or process) are left behind, there is then only the true self of the practitioner left as pure presence. In some techniques, this is the only focus from outset.”

I agree with all of this. I was lucky enough to grow up in the wilds of South Africa – in the Drakensberg foothills – and to be given the freedom to spend hours and hours wandering around and communing with nature – trees, streams, rocks, animals, birds, etc. I seemed to be a natural meditator, healer, and poet.

The writer then goes on to list types:

1) Buddhist Meditations

a) Zazen or Zen – Buddhist in origin, it is usually upright, but can include prostration. Focus on the breath, through the nose – count from 1-10 over and over. Or there is the Shikantaze practice of just sitting in the present moment, with no object of focus, just observing what passes through the mind and all around, without dwelling on anything.
b) Vipassana – means insight or clear seeing, and is also Buddhist. It includes Mindfulness of breathing, so the first stage is focus, then it goes on to the insight stage – on bodily sensations, and mental phenomena, observing and not clinging. “Breath is the primary object, then the secondary object is anything else that arises – movement, sound, smell, itchiness (of body, or mind) such as thought, memory, feeling etc. If a secondary object hooks your attention, you should label it with a note such as ‘thinking’, ‘memory’, ‘hearing’, ‘desiring’, ‘aversion’. The note should be general, not detailed – so hearing a sound is simply ‘hearing’, and not ‘a motorcycle’ or ‘voices’, or ‘a dog’; and ‘pain’ or ‘feeling’ does not specify of what or where; and ‘smelling’ should not be identified any further…. Just return to the primary object of the meditation after giving the one general label. Observe awareness without attachment, let thoughts and sensations arise and pass away. The basic labelling helps to keep you objective. As a result of this, clear seeing shows you that the observed phenomena are pervaded by 3 marks of existence – impermanence (Annica), unsatisfactoriness (dukkha), and emptiness of self (annata). As a result, equanimity, peace, and inner freedom is developed. This practice is excellent for grounding yourself in your body, and understanding the processes of your mind.” Vipassana or Mindfulness are recommended for beginners.
c) Mindfulness (also Buddhist in origin). “Sati / Anapanasati – an adaption from the other forms above. MBSR is part of this, and has been used in hospitals and health clinics. Focus is on the present moment, accepting non-judgmentally, yet paying attention to thoughts and emotions that arise, then returning the focus to the breath. Being aware of what is going on in your present moment experience without losing yourself in anything that arises. Recognize distractions generally and return to focus on the breath. Notice afterwards how different your mind and body feel. You can also do this while walking, eating, talking, doing daily tasks or chores, etc. Notice what is happening instead of going on autopilot. If speaking, pay attention to the words and how you speak them, then listen with presence and attention to any reply. Seated practice supports daily life practice. The Mindfulness now practiced in society at large, including in schools, is not Buddhism, but an adaption due to benefits in good physical and mental health and general wellbeing. It is disassociated from eastern concepts and philosophies.”
d) Loving Kindness (Metta) – Benevolence and good will. Originates from Buddhism, but “Compassion meditation is a contemporary scientific field that demonstrates the efficacy of Metta and related meditative practices. Generate in the heart and mind feelings of kindness and benevolence for self, then friend or family, then a neutral other, then for a ‘difficult’ person, then to strangers and everybody and gradually the entire universe. Can use specific words or sentences to evoke boundless warm heartedness, happiness, peace, joy. Great to practice if you are sometimes too hard on yourself or on others. Great to reduce insomnia, nightmares, or anger.”

2) Hindu Meditations – Vedic & Yogic

a) Mantra – a syllable or word used to focus, not an affirmation. Used in many traditions. Just keep repeating the sound or word – it can be chanted loudly or whispered lightly, to aid concentration. Repetition disconnects you from interfering thoughts – it’s a tool to support meditative practice. Deepak Chopra said “Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe.” The mantra may become a humming eventually, or disappear, leaving a state of deep inner peace. Perhaps mantras are easier to focus on than breathing, and can be especially useful of the mind is racing.
b) TM – (much as before)
c) Yoga Meditations – there are many types – it’s the oldest of all practices, with the widest variety in practice. Yoga means Union, and the highest goal is Spiritual Purification and Self Knowledge. Type groups are 1) Rules of Conduct – Yamas and Niyamas. 2) Physical postures – Asanas. 3) Breathing exercises – Pranayama. 4) Contemplative practices – Pratyahara, Dharana, and Samadhi.
3rd eye meditation is very common, and so are chakra meditations, mantras, visualizations of light, or gazing meditations – Trataka – where you gaze at an object, image, or symbol – Yantras. Even when eyes close, you keep the Trataka in the mind’s eye.
There is also Kundalini, Kriya Yoga, and Sound Meditation – Nada Yoga. Kriya involves a set of energization, breathing, and meditation exercises for self-realization. Sound involves first listening to external sounds then shifts to internal sounds of body and mind, with the ultimate goal being to hear no ultimate sound – Para Nada – which is a sound without vibration (that manifests as OM). Kundalini is complex and awakens energy at the base of the spine, and develops several psychic centres in the body, then finally to enlightenment. This ideally needs a guide.
Then there are Tantra, which are not about sex, but are contemplative. There are many of these: 1) merge mind and senses in the interior space in the spiritual heart. 2) When one object is perceived, all others become empty. Concentrate on that emptiness. 3) Concentrate on the space which occurs between 2 thoughts. 4) Fix your attention on the inside of your skull, with closed eyes. 5) Meditate on the occasion of any great delight. Meditate on the feeling of pain. 6) Dwell on the reality that exists between pain and pleasure. 7) Meditate on the void in one’s body, extending in all directions simultaneously. 8) Concentrate on the idea of a bottomless well or on standing in a very high place. 9) Listen to the Anahata sound (heart chakra). 10) Listen to the sound of a musical instrument as it dies away. 11) Contemplate the universe, and/or one’s own body, as being filled with bliss. 12) Concentrate intensely on the idea that the universe is completely void. 13) Contemplate that the same consciousness exists in all bodies. (Personally I love these listed above, but would teach them as advanced meditations.)
d) Self Enquiry and “I AM” Meditation – in Sanskrit = atma vichara, which means to investigate our true nature, find the answer to the “Who am I?” question, so giving intimate knowledge of our true self or being. It comes from India, popularized and expanded upon by Ramana Maharshi. The modern non-duality movement (neo-advaita) uses these teachings and others, such as those of Nisargadatta Maharaj and Papaji, plus variations. Many contemporary teachers employ these techniques, such as Mooji, Adyashanti, and Eckhart Tolle – and you can look these up on YouTube. (Gangaji is another I love.)
We tend to confuse the “I” or ego with our body, mind, roles, labels, etc, but it’s a big mystery as to exactly who this “I” is. When you ask “Who am I?” within yourself, reject any verbal answer, focus on subjective feeling – become one with it, go deep into it, to reveal your real self as pure consciousness, beyond all limitation. You bring your attention to the core element of your perception and experience. The “I” is not your personality, but a pure subjective feeling of existing – without any images or concepts attached to it. If thoughts arise, ask “to whom does this arise?” Then ask “who am I?” again to return to the subjective feeling of self, or presence. It is pure existence, objectless and choiceless awareness. Your feeling of BEING is the non-verbal “I am” that shines inside you without association of anything you perceive. With all other types of meditation, the “I” is focused on some object, internal or external, physical or mental. In self-enquiry the “I” is focusing on itself, the subject. The attention is turned towards its source. It brings a sense of inner freedom and peace, but can be hard to do, so maybe try Mooji guided ones first.

3) Chinese Meditations – Health, insight, contemplation, and visualization.

a) Taoist – from Lao Tzu – living in harmony with nature, or Tao. The main characteristic is the generation of, transformation of, and circulation of inner energy. The purpose is to quieten the body and mind, unify body and spirit, find inner peace, and harmonize with Tao. Some styles focus on improving health and longevity. 1) Zuowang = Emptiness of thought – so that the vital force and spirit are collected and replenished. (Similar to the Confucius discipline of “heart-mind fasting”.) You can allow thoughts and sensations to arise and fall without engaging with them. 2) Cunxiang = Chinese visualizations view different aspects of the cosmos in relation to one’s own body and self. 3) Zhuanqi = Chinese breathing meditation is to unite body and qi (chi) with SOFT vital breath. Can become aware of the “dynamisms of heaven and earth” through ascending and descending breath. 4) Neiguan = Inner vision – inside the body and mind, including the organs, “inner deities”, qi (vital force) movements, and thought processes. Acquainting one’s-self with the wisdom of nature in your body. 5) Neidan – Internal Alchemy – complex and esoteric self-transformation using visualization, breathing, movement, and concentration. Try joining breath and mind together, or focus on the dantien – lower abdomen. Body, nature, tai chi, and other martial arts go well with the philosophy & practice of Taoism.
b) Qigong (Chi Kung or Chi Gung) means life energy cultivation, and is a body-mind exercise for health, meditation, and martial arts. It typically involves slow body movement, inner focus, and regulated breathing. It favours circulation of energy in an inner alchemical mode. It can energize and strengthen the body, nourish body functions, cure disease, and cultivate spirituality.

4) Christian Meditation

In Eastern traditions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism – meditative purpose is usually for transcending the mind and attaining enlightenment. But in the Christian tradition the goal of contemplative practice is moral purification and deeper understanding of the Bible, or a closer intimacy with God and Christ. It includes contemplative prayer, repetitive recitations, readings, or “sitting with God” (usually after a contemplative stage, focusing mind, heart, and soul on the presence of God.)

5)
Guided Meditations

These are more of a modern phenomena, making it easy to start, helping to motivate, and cutting out distractions of modern life. Also helping with health, performance, and self-improvement, often in specific areas, with each meditation tending to have specific goals, on top of general relaxation and stress relief. Some specific possible benefits or aims could be: improving self-esteem and confidence, dealing with anger, developing gratefulness, a positive attitude, and noticing beauty everywhere. Or for joy, healing, renewal, unconditional love for self and others, forgiveness, letting go, balancing, recharging, cleansing, opening and aligning with universal flow, bliss, comfort, peace, connection with the natural world, insight into human relationships, communication, intuition, clarity, and intention. Or even for alignment with some perceived sacred power, or receiving shamanic type advice or wisdom from an ancient teacher you meet on your imaginary journey.
It’s like cooking to recipes before you get the hang of it and can start creating your own dishes. People can even help you tailor guided meditations to your personal needs, but eventually you can create them yourself for unique taste and personal power.
a) Guides illustrate or guide the way for your attention with their voices, but with spaces for you to develop and deepen your experience and practice.
b) Guided imagery uses imagination and the visual powers of the brain (via descriptions), guiding you to imagine an object, place, entity, scene, etc. The purpose is usually for healing or relaxation and calmness.
c) Relaxation & Body Scans – for deep relaxation of the whole body, including the insides, often accompanied by music or nature sounds.
d) Affirmations – often coupled with relaxation and guided imagery – to imprint positive messages in the mind.
e) Binaural Beats – discovered by physicist Heinrich Willhelm Dove – when 2 frequencies are presented separately, one to each ear, your brain detects the phase variation between them and tries to reconcile the differences. This generates alpha waves (10hz) which is the brainwave associated with initial levels of meditation – so it’s a way to draw you into it, but you’d have to use headphones. (Yes, technology can help, but please try to minimise your exposure to EMF emissions, which could do more harm than good ultimately. Please do remember to listen to check you are okay with any meditation before you go deeply into it with headphones.)

Liveanddare.com
also has a page on “Scientific Benefits of Meditation” – It’s subtitled “76 things you might be missing out on”, and they are arranged into 46 subheadings with promises to surprise. Their logo includes the words “happiness, health, energy, and performance”. They say there are over 3000 scientific studies and claim that this site is the only one to compile hundreds of these into an organised article.

In the summary it says that ”Some effects, such as increased compassion and social bonding, are more salient as a result of specific meditation techniques (such as Buddhist Loving-Kindness), however, any kind of authentic meditation will include most of these benefits in one degree or another. There is evidence that it will be more beneficial for you if you find a technique that you like better. Some studies indicate that 20 minutes a day for a few weeks was enough to start experiencing benefits.”

Their article includes a great infographic that shows levels of control groups as opposed to increases in benefits from Sport and Meditation, showing that 1) Focus increases tenfold from the control to the meditation group. 2) There is 50% less disease from control to meditation group, and sport benefits lie slightly over half way between the two. 3) The meditation group had 75% less depression, 30% less anxiety, and 65% more well-being. Then this amazingly long infographic lists info under headings:

Emotional Well-being

Lessens worry, anxiety, and impulsivity
Lessens stress, fear, loneliness, and depression
Enhances self-esteem & self-acceptance
Improves resilience against pain & adversity
Increases optimism, relaxation, and awareness
Helps prevent emotional eating & smoking
Helps develop positive social connections
Improves mood & emotional intelligence

Super Mind

Increases mental health & focus
Increases memory retention & recall
Better cognitive skills & creative thinking
Better decision making & problem solving
Better information processing
Helps ignore distractions
Helps manage ADHD

Healthier Body

Improves immune system & energy levels
Improves breathing & heart rates
Reduces blood pressure
More longevity
Lessens heart & brain problems
Lessens inflammatory disorders & asthma
Lessens premenstrual & menopausal syndrome
Helps prevent arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even HIV

But there are even more benefits listed in the rest of the article:

1) Brain & Moods

Many studies, including UCLA ones, show that mindfulness decreases depression (as effectively as antidepressants), anxiety, stress, ruminative thinking, and dysfunctional beliefs. It can also increase bonding between mothers and babies in the womb. Lots of types of meditation have been shown to regulate mood and anxiety disorders, and to reduce stress and anxiety in general. Meditation also reduces the symptoms of panic disorder. A group of Harvard Neuroscientists ran a study where guided meditations and mindfulness were shown, via MRI scans, to increase the concentration of grey matter in the brains of students on an 8 week meditation course. The areas of the brain were those involved in learning and memory, regulating emotions, sense of self, and having perspective (frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes). There is a very marked difference in the before and after images. Other studies have also shown larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of grey matter for long-term meditators. Meditation was also shown to greatly improve psychomotor vigilance, and possibly decrease sleep needed. A University of Wisconsin study with Tibetan Monks, showed huge increases in gamma wave generation in their brains. 3 studies made with vipassana meditation in incarcerated populations suggested that it can reduce alcohol and substance abuse.

2) Mind & Performance

A UCLA study showed that during and after meditation training – subjects were more skilled at keeping focus, esp on repetitive and boring tasks. Another study showed students were able to improve performance on tests of cognitive skills, sometimes doing ten times better than those not meditating. They also performed better on information processing tasks that were designed to induce deadline stress. There was even evidence to show that meditators had a thicker prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula, and also to the effect that meditation might offset the loss of cognitive ability with old age (sources: Time, NCBI, and Link Springer). UCLA found that long term meditators have large amounts of gyrification (folding) of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster, make effective decisions, form memories, and improve attention skills. Phd psychotherapist Dr Ron Alexander, reports that meditation increases mental strength, resilience, and emotional intelligence. A research group from the University of Montreal compared Zen Masters with non meditators responses to painful heat while measuring brain activity (in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner). Though the scans showed they received all the pain, the masters reported feeling less. The Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre did a similar experiment with novice meditators, and found that they too experienced dramatically less pain than others, a reduction greater than the use of morphine or other pain relieving drugs could produce (about 50% reduction as opposed to about 25%). A study with ADHD adults and Mindfulness based cognitive therapy, showed reduced hyperactivity, reduced impulsivity, and increased “acting with awareness skills”. An Emory University study showed that meditations focusing on breath had increased connectivity with the brain networks controlling attention, increasing ability to keep focus in spite of distractions. NCBI says that long term meditation increases grey matter density in the areas for learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. The Martinos Centre for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Centre both say that mindfulness meditation enhances numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall. Nottingham Trent University researchers found that when participants with issues of stress and low mood underwent meditation training, they experienced improvements in psychological well-being. In research conducted by the University of Washington and the University of Arizona, HR personnel were given 8 weeks training in either mindfulness meditation or body relaxation techniques. They were given a stressful multitasking test both before and after training. The meditators reported lower levels of stress and showed better memory for the tasks they had performed. They also switched tasks less often and remained focused on tasks longer. (The article states that multitasking is not productive in general as it induces stress, is costly for the brain, and induces feelings of distraction and dissatisfaction. I think that is the case if you are subjected to it by others, but if you choose to set up certain processes that work well for you, then it could be okay.) A UCLA study showed that vipassana meditation helps us allocate limited brain resources, reducing “attention blink” – basically memory was more even, with less gaps. Science Direct reports that research showed that after only 4 sessions of mindfulness meditation training, participants had significantly improved visuospatial processing skills, waking memory, and executive functioning. A study from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences showed that if even new meditators practiced before a stressful event, the adverse effects of stress were reduced. The University of Sussex found that people practicing mindfulness meditation experienced a greater pause between unconscious impulses and action – which demonstrates increased awareness of the unconscious mind. They were also less subject to hypnosis. Leiden University in the Netherlands demonstrated that open monitoring meditation (monitoring the content of experience from moment to moment in a non-reactive way), has positive effects in creativity and divergent thinking. Participants were more able to complete tasks where they were asked to creatively come up with new ideas (source: Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine).

3) Body & Health

A study of many high-risk individuals who were asked to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise, or take a transcendental meditation class, both accompanied by researchers for 5 years, found that the meditators had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. They found it significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors. Other research pointed at similar conclusions. (Sources: Time magazine, American Heart Association, and Health Central.) A Harvard Medical School study demonstrated that after practicing yoga and meditation, individuals had improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resilience, thus higher immunity and resilience to stress. Meditation Clinical research also shows that zen meditation (or zazen) reduces stress and blood pressure. Another study showed that ”relaxation response” had the same results – because relaxation results in the formation of nitric oxide, which opens up the blood vessels. (Source: Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, and NPR News.) A study in France and Spain, at the UW-Madison Waisman Centre, indicates that mindfulness meditation produces a range of genetic and molecular effects, reducing levels of inflammatory genes. In 3 other studies Mindfulness came top at preventing cellular level inflammation. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison studies were done where 2 groups were exposed to stress. One group got nutritional education, exercise, and music therapy. The other got mindfulness training. Mindfulness techniques were shown to be more effective  in relieving inflammatory symptoms. (Source: Medical News Today.) The conclusion of over 20 studies from PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane databases, involving meditation, meditative prayer, yoga, and relaxation response, was that meditation and meditative prayer helped treat premenstrual syndrome & menopausal symptoms. Mindfulness also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and premature death, according to the Journal of Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity. It reduces loneliness and the risk of depression, heart disease, alzheimer’s, and premature death, according to Health Central. PubMed also published a study showing that Mindfulness training reduced fibromyalgia symptoms, including stiffness. Korea Science says that a study by the Korean Association of Genuine Traditional Medicine showed that “Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique” showed significant decreases in heart rates and respiratory rates for up to 8 months after training. A UCLA study found that mindfulness meditation even helps treat HIV, explaining: “Lymphocytes, or CD4 T cells, are the ‘brains’ of the immune system, coordinating its activity. HIV attacks these and eats away at them, weakening the immune system.” But stress can accelerate the decline, so mindfulness meditation stops the decline and so slows the progression of the disease. Participants in an 8 week MBSR group showed no loss of CD4 T cells, as opposed to those who did a one day MBSR seminar, who still showed significant decline. Wiley online library says that meditation may make you live longer because some forms seem to be able to positively affect telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal, and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance. Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. There are a lot more studies that show that mindfulness can also: reduce metabolic syndrome, help manage the effects of trauma, help manage cholesterol, treat epilepsy, help you stop smoking, increase clarity of thinking, create a state of deep rest in body and mind, and increase skin resistance.

4) Relationships

Meditation has been shown to improve personal and social relationships. Loving Kindness improves empathy and positivity in relationships, as many studies show, inc Emory University. Another study shows that the development of positive emotions, through compassion, builds up several personal resources, such as “a loving attitude towards one’s self & others, including acceptance, social support received, and positive relations with others”, plus “a feeling of competence about one’s life”, and includes “pathways thinking, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and ego resilience”. (Sources: Science Daily, NCBI, Plus One.) Loving Kindness meditation also reduces social isolation according to a study published by the American Psychological Association, as even a few moments of this type of meditation increases feelings of social connection and positivity towards others. It also decreases worry and increases the ability to receive compassion as well as give it, and extend it to one’s self, according to Stanford School of Medicine and Sage Journals. A study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that Mindfulness is useful in decreasing feelings of loneliness, and thus morbidity, mortality, and the expression of pro-inflammatory genes. (Source: ScienceDirect.) Doctors On TM say that scientists believe that TM helps manage emotional eating, thus prevents obesity.

5) Mindfulness for Kids

In a huge compilation of studies about Mindfulness in schools mindfulnessinschools.org presented a lot of research evidence of how it can help children. It reduces: depression, stress, anxiety, and reactivity, hostility towards others and conflict with peers, and substance use. It increases: cognitive retention, self-care, optimism and positive emotions, self-esteem, feelings of happiness and well-being, social skills, sleep, self-awareness, and academic performance. There were also numerous reports about benefits for teachers and other staff, including: increased open-minded curiosity, kindliness, empathy, compassion, acceptance, trust, patience, and non-striving; plus an increase in the skills of focusing, paying attention, and being able to switch attention. There were also improvements in physical and mental health, teaching self-efficacy, spatial memory, working memory, and sustained attention. It also increased work motivation and decreased stress, and increased the ability to give more appropriate support for students through being more motivated and autonomous.

(I think that the very fact that teachers and other school staff were offered the chance to use this, to offer children, and themselves, this opportunity – would make them feel happier in itself. I think that all workplaces should offer this sort of thing to their staff, and suggest that it would greatly increase staff retention and effective working. Working in a place where you could use a swimming pool and sauna, or get a massage once a week, or something, would surely be fantastic too! Too many places just expect to hammer work out of you without giving back a little human care. It is not surprising at all to me that introducing mindfulness in schools would make a massive difference. Giving a little time to improve well-being is invaluable, and is bound to have positive knock-on effects. At the very least it would make you feel appreciated and lift your mood, feel more open and less stressed, and generally be happier to give of yourself, plus more healthy and able to do so.)

Personally I know that healing or meditation before surgery helps in preparation and recovery, but the Liveanddare.com article says that just using the OM sound does this. (I guess that anything that takes the focus away from fear and replaces it with something positive would help both body and mind to relax, and perhaps even accept the process better.) The article also says that meditators are more able to affect the reality around us, in a quantum level. (I have to say I do experience a strange sense of something like this happening, and certainly embrace it.) Plus they say it can improve your sex life. (Well, yes, that could easily follow on from feeling better in mind and body anyway, especially if you experience improvements in self-esteem. Respect for each other and self-esteem are hugely significant in relationships and in all communication. This would all generally improve relationships naturally, but it can also change the way you use time and where you put focus.)  They also say it reduces race and age prejudice. (Again, that would be an obvious knock-on effect of increased open-mindedness, loving-kindness, non-judgement, etc. Also if you feel better about yourself, it is bound to reduce irrational fears.)

So, in conclusion Liveanddare.com say that if you practice consistently – meditation will help you be healthier, happier, and improve your performance in pretty much any physical or mental task.

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In the film “The Reality of Truth” which I accidentally came across just as I was about to start this article, it says that “Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a simple silent repetition to yourself of a mantra which allows you to transcend to subtler and subtler states of consciousness until you reach a place of universal consciousness – an endless field of energy that connects all of us, where all knowledge is contained, and where everything manifests from.”  It is blissful, but it’s not meant as an escape – you are supposed to integrate the experience into your normal life, balance the inner and outer realities. They also say that more than 7 million people are practising TM worldwide.

However, I have read elsewhere, and especially on liveanddare.com that Transcendental Meditation tends to be monopolised by people who reckon they have dibs on it, wanting to charge you a hefty sum to teach you and to give you personal mantras to use.  Apparently these are based on age and gender and are tantric names of Hindu deities. He says that much of the research about the benefits of this form of meditation is sponsored by them, and that although support from them is generally good, there is some indication of cultish behaviour. He says there are other ways of using mantras, and much cheaper similar techniques available such as Natural Stress Relief, created by a former TM teacher, which has stripped out some of the mysticism.  

I have reached this state of bliss, gnosis, benevolence, and timelessness many times throughout childhood and adulthood, without mantras, so I have to say that the state is actually open to all of us – a gifted state of connection with the source of all, and everything in creation.  There are other ways of emptying the mind than using mantras, which then lets in the universal consciousness, just as described above. If other things enter your mind, just set them gently aside as if on a shelf, and return to your focus. I used to use a trick which I devised myself to help empty the mind of distractions – imagining myself walking along in a lovely place first of all to help me relax, then stepping through a gate, and finding myself wrapped in mist so that there was very little stimulation for my senses to fool around with.  (Or you could simply be floating in a cloud from the outset.) Many people open spontaneously to this state while immersed in nature. However, it is a blissful experience that opens your mind and heart, rather than a tool (as many more practical types of meditation are).

I suggest that, for those suffering from anxiety or depression, it is probably best to start out with meditation in a supportive group scenario so that you have the leader, and others, to help look after your best interests, ensuring you are okay, and answering any questions you may have; but also to avoid any possible sense of isolation that learning on your own might initially exacerbate. It’s great to have others around to share the experience with too. Once practised though, you will never feel isolated again, you will feel positively drawn to master your own life, backed up by a sense of wonder,  interconnection, and appreciation.

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My
Mindfulness in Mental Health course material says that 8 weeks of meditation can literally rebuild the brain’s grey matter – according to a Harvard study of Massachusetts General Hospital. Rebuilding the grey matter helps the different types of glial cells to do their work – they are pretty much like housekeepers of the brain, ensuring it’s kept clean, balanced, safe, and able to operate optimally. So, people aren’t just relaxing with meditation, they are also physically boosting their brain and central nervous systems, etc. They are also developing great coping mechanisms for life. It’s no wonder it can help with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Mindfulness can also include focusing on what you eat, and how you eat, for example sitting down in a suitable environment, in an appropriate position, and chewing well; perhaps even reminding ourselves to be thankful for the food and company we may have. Mindfulness also helps you to become more aware of yourself and your needs, as well as of those around you, and all the things such as fresh tasty food, beautiful flowers, smiles, friends, etc.

I know quite a bit about the diet side of things, but looking at the statistics in my course materials (mod 6), it is an even bigger issue than I thought in relation to depression. I knew about most of the particular food issues and how they can make things worse, but didn’t realise things had gone wrong to quite such a high degree as shown here. One thing I would suggest adding is that it helps to use probiotics to help balance the gut in many cases, as if things are wrong down there for extended periods of time it can cause other health problems to arise, including autoimmune disease, and mental health issues. Antibiotics, and some other medical treatments, kill the good bacteria we need in our gut along with the bad ones, so we need to ensure it is repopulated with good ones in order to keep us healthy. It has been definitely shown that the state of the bacteria in our gut affects our state of mind / mood.

The Mindfulness in Mental Health course notes (in module 7) state that “Mindfulness is a fantastic tool for combating the effects of stress. Learning to control the mind and disallowing thoughts to run wild also gives the ability to prevent stress.” Good breathing, which is fundamental to mindfulness exercises, helps a lot to keep stress at bay. Another way mindfulness helps avoid stress is through focusing on appreciating every moment & experience to your fullest ability, and keeping things in balance both physically, such as through diet and exercise etc, and mentally. You tend not to worry too much about things, including the future, as you feel more able to cope generally.

There is a great quote included from Britta Holzel of Justus Liebig University & Harvard Medical School – “Mindfulness is not actually a single skill. Rather it is a multi-faceted mental practice that encompasses several mechanisms.” It makes you more aware, not just of your thoughts and emotions, together with giving you the means to regulate these, but also of your body, and your whole sense of being – so that you will recognise when you are healthy & happy, or not – and what you might be able to do about it if not – such as making changes in diet, exercise patterns, job, relationship, or social activities – if needed. It makes you more confident and in control of your life through understanding yourself better.

Of course, sometimes things might not need changing, but perhaps your attitude towards them could be tweaked a bit, and it gives you the ability to do that too. There’s a quote isn’t there about having the strength to make changes if needed, but the wisdom to accept things you can’t change. So if you feel you are stuck in a situation, at least you should be able to find ways of making it easier to cope with. An example that springs to mind is – if you are a caregiver, you could find ways of having respite time for yourself and using this to good effect, and/or find ways to bring more meaningful activities into your lives.

I have been watching a whole series of videos recently about Autoimmune Disease, Inflammation, Regaining your Brain from Alzheimer’s and/or protecting it from it, etc. According to the functional medicine specialists in these videos, the formation of both fat and plaque could actually be a protective response to try to stow away toxins or pathogens that might otherwise hurt our body or brain, so we need find ways of removing these primarily. They also said that the ideas given to us about cholesterol and saturated fats are now found to be erroneous, and that we need healthy fats to feed the brain. They re-iterated the deleterious effects of too much sugar (or toxic alternative sweeteners), including too many unrefined carbs in the diet, and in fact they often referred to Dementia as being Diabetes type 3. Anyway, Meditation and Brain Exercises figured quite prominently in these videos, as part of a helpful health regime, along with balanced diet, exercise,  work-life balance, sleep, and relaxation. There are other helpful things mentioned as well, such as supplements, and the use of herbs and essential oils, but basically, meditation can help reduce symptoms, plus reduce the stress & inflammation that causes disease in the first place, as well as making you more relaxed, sociable, and aware of the need to take care of yourself.

As I learnt in my “Nutritional Therapy” course with the Health Sciences Academy, Epigenetics is the science of how what we do in all areas of our lives, including how we think, can turn on good potentials of our genes and switch off bad ones, so we are very seldom actually just stuck with our genes, and all these helpful factors can be doubly beneficial. Even just starting to do one thing differently could be the beginning of an upward spiral in overall health & well-being, and meditation is one of the things to offer that potential. Our minds and bodies are amazing. If we take the time to nurture ourselves, and treat causes rather than just try to mask symptoms and struggle on, then we can heal from just about anything!

CONCLUSION OF PART 1 :

So, I have researched and explored many meditation techniques, and touched on some other things. It has been a really interesting exercise. I find that I have practised most of them at some point without necessarily realizing all these details about them, and have found them all beneficial in their own unique ways.  I would definitely encourage people to try and use a mixture of types as it has been shown that different types have different benefits – so why focus on one area when you could experience benefits from the full spectrum! However, please don’t let the exciting variety overwhelm you! We all have to start somewhere, so please do choose one type that resonates with you, and seems manageable, and/or attend a group that will safely and gradually introduce you to several.

PART 2 :

For this assignment, I have had to choose one type of meditation and explain the possible positive benefits of using it for someone suffering from:  a) Depression, b) Stress, and c) Anxiety.

I have chosen Mindfulness Meditation because it seems to be relatively easy to access, practical to use, and has been proven to have wide ranging benefits in many circumstances, including for the conditions in question. It has been shown to be a straightforward way to introduce the benefits of meditation to children in schools, patients in healthcare, and even adults in prison.

I also think that Mindfulness gives you a logical way of thinking about and coping with life, a way of questioning and possibly changing your perspective. This is very empowering – so you benefit hugely from feeling more in control, as well as from the actual meditative practice.

The Chopra site says – “Research shows that Mindful Meditation of any type combats anxiety, stress, and depression, while also heightening optimism, creativity, and vitality.

From my research, it does seem that Mindfulness is the most accessible and generally useful way to go, at least to start with, then you can always add other bits later. But please do choose a Mindfulness practice that includes all type of mindfulness, including mindfulness of self, others, your surroundings, nature, eating, breathing, movement, etc.

I think that Loving Kindness Meditation is absolutely great for a bit of a fresh perspective too, especially to add more of a social awareness / empathy element – but, as it could be a bit more challenging to take on, it may be best to introduce this once you have got the hang of Mindfulness. If you are suffering from any of these conditions I definitely suggest starting with Mindfulness.

TO RECAP ON WHAT MINDFULNESS IS :

In Mindfulness, you let your attention flow freely, without judgement or attachment.  You simply observe perceptions, thoughts, memories, and sensations that you experience, openly monitoring (or being mindful of them) but not becoming involved in them (remaining detached from them). You observe them almost from a third-person perspective. You notice but do not react positively or negatively.  

You can do it while going about daily tasks, taking a walk, etc.  When practised, you can even do it to a degree when in conversation (so that you don’t over-react to anything). Your view can easily become more objective than subjective, especially if you pause to allow for the switch. So it is great to use during everyday interactions and observations of the world, where you notice what you might otherwise have called beauty or ugliness, but you do not judge or attach to anything.  It can be very helpful to detach your own thinking from events, then you can see that you could change your perspective, even train your own mind to help you manage life situations. You can become non-judgemental of others, and even of yourself, which helps you let go of all sorts of negatives and move forward into a positive flow of feeling able to cope. You can become non-judgemental of life itself – see how everything has to be included in some overall state of balance to allow life to even exist at all.  Nothing is black & white after all, there are many details you may not know behind why a situation has become the way it seems. We can actually release a lot of pain & suffering by gaining a more objective perspective.

HOW MINDFULNESS MIGHT HELP FOR EACH CONDITION :

So now let’s look at each condition as separately as possible, and see how each could benefit from it:

a) Depression

Mindfulness has been shown to be very effective in reducing the symptoms and recurrence of depression (as well as helping to deal with stress and anxiety). I think this may be largely to do with the empowerment mindfulness can engender, making you feel more able to manage your life and be more self-aware (of your responses and needs, and of understanding why some things work and others don’t).

Mindworks has a very good way of explaining Mindfulness – “It helps us understand how our minds work to overcome dissatisfaction”. They say you acknowledge your reality, body, thoughts, and observe your mind and thoughts, breathe, appreciate the present, and be non-judgemental. They say it reduces depression and anxiety and gives a new perspective on things that distress us.

Lifeadvancer.com also has a great description of Mindfulness – “To overcome suffering and understand natural wisdom”. They say it overcomes anxiety, depression, and perceived distress.

Liveanddare.com recommends Mindfulness for beginners and says an adaption of it (minus the Eastern elements) is used in Hospitals, Health Clinics, and Schools – for good physical and mental health and general well-being.

Liveanddare.com do also recommend Loving Kindness / Compassion Meditation, particularly for overcoming anger. As unresolved anger with society or aspects of it, or with particular persons, such as one’s parents, or maybe even with yourself, can cause depression. This is another reason why I do also recommend incorporating this type of meditation once you have got well into Mindfulness.

An infographic on Liveanddare.com also showed a study of meditation in general, including a control group, a sports group, and a meditation group. Some benefits of the meditation group which were way better than the control or even the sports group were : 50% less disease and 75% less depression, 30% less anxiety, and 65% more well-being. It went on to show details of health & well-being benefits, but also show that there were lots of mental benefits, including in memory, mental performance, and cognitive ability. The article also goes on to say that many studies, including a UCLA one, show that Mindfulness decreases depression as effectively as antidepressants. Also anxiety and stress, ruminative thinking, and dysfunctional beliefs.  Guided Meditations and Mindfulness were even shown, via MRI Scans, to increase the concentration of grey matter and folded surface areas in brains (more info in the body of the article). It was even thought, due to these studies, that meditation might offset loss of cognitive ability often associated with ageing. The physical health benefits are huge too!

A study from Carnegie Mellon University shows that Mindfulness decreases feelings of loneliness, and thus morbidity, mortality, and the expression of pro-inflammatory genes.

b) Stress

As a piece in New Scientist pointed out, there was a study that showed that although Mindfulness practitioners became calmer, their cortisol levels did not drop, so it would be beneficial to practice more than just Mindfulness. Loving Kindness or Compassion Meditation would add this much needed element as studies using this method showed a 51% drop in cortisol levels.

As much stress comes from social situations it was also thought that it would be best for Mindfulness to be practised in groups rather than alone, so that interactive elements would be brought into play. It does seem however as if these studies may have been based on a mindfulness practice incorporating only self and natural surroundings, as no social aspect was mentioned. The non-judgement of self and others is a very important aspect to include, so if you do not have this side of things in your Mindfulness practice then you either need to find a Mindfulness practice that does, or add in the social benefits of Loving Kindness or Compassion Meditation to enable you to benefit fully. Mindfulness should definitely include being mindful of how we interact with others, a focus of intention on getting on well with those around us through paying attention to other’s feelings, plus an understanding of needing to make allowance for the fact that we all have different perspectives (depending on what we have learned and experienced). I’m not suggesting that we need to go into all these details, or try to please people too much, but that we simply need to be non-judgemental, allowing for differences. That includes of course your own perspective, we should allow ourselves a right to that, and we should understand what is important to us, because that way we can learn to manage our lives better by aiming to ensure we can reasonably cover these. If regular patterns of work, relaxation, eating, sleeping, etc, are vital to us for example, then we should know that shift work is unlikely to suit us, whereas another may thrive on the variation.

For stress there is even a specific type of Mindfulness available called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. You focus on the situation, paying attention to your emotions, sensations, and thoughts, without judgement. It’s supposed to help you become increasingly aware and non-reactive. You can also focus on the positives to help you not get stuck in negative attitudes.

I still think, even after all this, that Loving Kindness looks as if it will add another positive element. What better way to learn to cope with society more easily, seeing others in a non-judgemental perspective yes, but also in a loving light. And of course seeing yourself in a loving light too will mean that you are not so fearful of how you interact. We all know really that none of us are perfect, so why should any of us be judged, and why should all of us not simply be loved?

c) Anxiety

Again, non-judgement of self and others as learned through Mindfulness, should help us be more able to cope with situations, be less afraid to give things a go. Non-attachment to results helps as well. You could say “Oh well, I tried it, even if it didn’t work out”, but you never know, you might find that you actually enjoy something once you try it. A lot of stress or anxiety is social based – fear of failing or of being judged. The non-judgemental, non attachment aspect of Mindfulness helps with this. You will eventually understand that even if others judge, it does not matter, as long as you don’t do it to yourself. You can learn from mistakes sure, but that is not judgement on yourself, it is just realising you could adjust your perspective a little, or find a slightly different way of doing something.

An article in Forbes said that even just an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program can shift brain function, improving well-being and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. The article says that the findings of these studies suggest “a potential biological basis for how mindfulness and different aspects of social intelligence could be nurtured”.

Simple breathing exercises have also been shown to help reduce anxiety and stress If you can focus on breathing steadily, it not only helps to keep your oxygen flow going, but it helps keep you more poised and able to cope emotionally. My course materials say that good breathing, which is fundamental to mindfulness exercises, helps a lot to keep stress at bay. I know that applies to anxiety as well.

OVERALL SUMMARY :

As I said at the start of my study, one of the biggest challenges for people suffering from Depression, Stress, or Anxiety, might be to find and actually attend a group, so it would be very important to enlist help from health services or from a member of family or a friend. Of course you can do meditation via the internet etc, but it would be great if you can do this along with a friend or two rather than entirely on your own, at least some of the time. It is great to discuss what to try and feed back your experiences of how it went for each of you, then you begin to see how it can best build up successfully for all of you.

On the Chopra Centre website it said that to be successful, meditation needs to be simple, comfortable, and give results that make you want to keep going with it. But it also says – “Use whatever types work best for you”.

I say again that whatever types of meditation you choose to use, you will find more of a sense of hope, confidence, and self worth, as you are basically learning to help yourself. You are giving yourself a precious gift of time and attention for holistic renewal of mind, body, and spirit. And I add that, even if you are already a self aware and well balanced person, meditation can only add to your sense of peace, joy, and completeness.

Healthline.com says “Don’t force it. Gentle, regular practice becomes sustaining and joyful. Open to possibility.”

Liveanddare.com says that “Effortless Presence is the true purpose behind all kinds of meditation. All techniques recognise that objects of focus and the process of monitoring, are just a meant to train the mind so that effortless inner silence and deeper states of consciousness can be discovered.”

Some sages say that the goal of all meditation (or spiritual practice) is to overcome or let go of – suffering. But there is a very obvious element of finding a deeper sense of self that can be more at home with itself, the world, the universe, and everything in it. Personal suffering thus fades away, but you are still filled with compassion for the suffering of others.

The functional medicine doctors whose videos I have been recently watching say that meditation in general reduces stress, and symptoms of disease, including pain, and inflammation. They also say that it makes you more relaxed, sociable, and aware of the need to take care of yourself. They go on to explain about good nutrition, which also works so well to combat the roots of disease and mental health, and even to restore health from seemingly hopeless situations. So consider how well the 2 could work hand in hand!

My studies in epigenetics do show that even just our attitude affects how our genes express themselves. Here is a quote from my website : “Environmental signals select, modify, and regulate your gene activity. These signals come from what you eat and drink, breathe, touch, do, and how you live. They also come from how you feel, what you think & believe, and what you perceive (whether real or imagined)”.

Even so, who would have thought meditation could actually physically grow your brain, as it has been shown in many studies to do. How exciting!

 

reddance1sml

xox

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Hypothyroidism – my journey (with regular updates)

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Hi there – several people have asked for advice from my universallovejug
own research and experience, so I thought I would do a
blog that I could share with everyone about this.

Hypothyroidism is the one that slows you down as
opposed to the hyperthyroidism which speeds you up
and is actually trickier to treat.

I only found out a few months ago that I am hypothyroid,
with my TSH levels being over 4 times what they should
be.  For normal people the reading should be about 2
whereas mine was almost 9.  Now, doctors have different criteria, and won’t usually treat you until you are well over the normal range, so if you are around 3 or 4 it is only something to perhaps retest again later rather than something to try to address straight away, which seems crazy, as there is a lot one can do if you understand what is going on, so you could perhaps prevent it getting worse.  As ever, the trick is for us to educate ourselves and take a high level of responsibility for our own health.

TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone, and these come down the chain from the pituitary and hypothalamus trying to get the thyroid to produce what it should.  This is normally the first test doctors will do, and if these levels are high, then the thyroid hormones are correspondingly low.  This is not the whole story though as the main thyroid hormone is T4 and again this is the only one they usually test for to start with, however, your body has to be able to convert that into useable T3 – and there are also other elements, T1’s and T2’s and some other bits.  Plus even if you make what you need there may be issues with receptors etc, as other things can block these, so there is a whole host of things your body needs to be able to produce, convert, and use thyroid hormones, and depending on what your issue is, you need different treatment / supplements (I am adding some notes re this onto the end of the blog).  For all types of hypothyroidism it is a good option to consider supplementing our diet, plus ensuring our digestive system is working well.

My doctor was not interested in testing my mineral / vitamin levels although there would have been many many useful things to look at there, so I was left to take my own supplements which include all the possible things I may need.  This can be quite tricky as some things have to be properly in balance for example, selenium and iodine, as if either one is either too low or too high this can in itself cause hypothyroidism. (Remember that fluoride in toothpaste or water can block your receptors for iodine.)  Selenium is short in our soil so we don’t necessarily get it from our diet even if we are eating the right things, maybe we need to eat more organically.  (A lot of the things in processed foods can interfere with your body’s ability to cope as well, also toxins from our environment, cleaning products etc – remember we absorb things through our skin.)  Stress of course can be a big factor, and emotional distress such as death of a loved one, or being treated badly at work.

A major factor which can cause hypothyroidism is female hormone imbalance.  At around my age (or this can vary a lot for a few women) our hormones reduce incredibly, literally fall off a cliff on the graph, and imbalances here can contribute to thyroid and other issues.  It is no co-incidence that women suffer from hypothyroidism much much more than men.  For example estrogen/progesterone imbalance can cause copper build up (the birth control pill can also do this, and the injection is even worse), and this puts strain on your liver as well as contributing to thyroid issues.  Sluggish adrenals can also have this effect.  Fortunately zinc can help a lot to counter the copper.  Some of the old dental fillings can also cause issues in your bloodstream.  You should also be careful with your vitamin/mineral supplements so that you don’t get too much of some things such as chromium. If we have toxic build up in the body, then muscle pains are often an issue.  Too much iron will give you constipation.

I had the classic hypothyroid symptom of waking up in the morning feeling like I had been beaten up and hardly able to walk at first due to muscle pain, mostly in upper legs and hips, but this could sometimes be almost everywhere.  So I had to get up early and slowly stretch and wake up better before being able to get about my day.  For years I had been managing to keep moving, doing several physical jobs, lots of walking, dancing, yoga etc, but suddenly this became too much for me…… probably something to do with one of my recent jobs being extra physically demanding.  If I kept moving, my body did not lock up, but now I was becoming too tired to keep this up, and I knew I had to make some changes.  I thought I was doing myself a favour pushing myself but it turns out I was actually straining my ability to cope with the changes going on in my body.

Also, apparently if you are hypothyroid, then it seems highly likely that your adrenals will be under stress (fatigued), but my doc would not test for that either.  The adrenals are also a backup for the ovaries,so if you are having issues with female hormone imbalance supporting them can also help here.  So I have taken it upon myself to supplement them with the adrenal mother hormone, from which others are derived – pregnenolone, and I have no idea to be perfectly honest what other option I had – but I do think it feels as if that is helping.  DHEA and progesterone come from pregnenolone.  Progesterone is good to balance estrogen and it is recommended to do this after taking estrogen for a bit (ie start the estrogen first for best effect, then balance it about a month later).  DHEA is really good for the BRAIN, and also helps you age better, reducing dehydration problems etc.  It also reduces antibodies.  To start with I took pregnenolone every day, but am now rotating supplements so that I have this once every 3 days (it’s quite expensive so am glad this seems to be enough).  My multivitamins and minerals (more details on these later) and evening primrose oil another day, and something called pycnogenol on the third day.  This is from pine bark and helps increase blood flow, which seems to have helped clear my toxic build up and muscle pain.  It is a potent anti-oxidant and also aids sleep, hot flushes, depression, vaginal dryness, fatigue, and headache.  I think it is quite strong, and taking it every day might be too much, but i am sure it is helpful.  We also need to remember to breathe deeply, stress can easily cause us to almost stop breathing properly!

When I first found out about the thyroid issue (following on from having to supplement with estrogen [pessaries are the best way to do this as it bypasses the liver so goes into your bloodstream without taxing it or being reduced. Also if you take it orally it can partially inactivate some of the thyroid hormones!], and drinking loads more water) due to extreme dryness, the first thing I did was to get lots of books to do research and then go to stay with my mum abroad for a while and educate myself before going back to the doctor.  I did not just want to be bunged onto meds for the rest of my life without looking into it fully.  My research showed me that although there was a lot I could do to help myself, I probably did still need some thyroxin,  As it turns out, I am having a small amount of thyroxin, but other changes I had already made have helped a lot, and will probably mean I can manage on the minimum dose.  I wanted to have a natural thyroid treatment which would have been hypoallergenic as well as contain the whole range of thyroid hormones, however it turned out this was not available to me.  So I have had to accept a generic synthetic thyroxin, which has lactose and sucrose in it, and which is only T4.  I will be having tests (8 weeks after starting) to see if the THS etc levels have become more normal.  My doctor thinks I am bound to need a higher dose, but she said we have to start slowly and build up.  We shall see, and I shall add updates to my blog.  I suspect I may need seasonal adjustments, as I am well aware that I tend to be much worse in winter, so my follow up check (6 months after my 8 week one) should start to show that, as it will be into the start of winter.

One of my main concerns was that my thyroid issue might be related to my autoimmune issues – with the immune system being responsible for attacking the thyroid tissue.  Apparently that is very common, but the doctor did test for thyroid antibodies, and the level is low, so it seems this is probably not the case, which is a relief.  Also if you have autoimmune related thyroid issues, then you must take this into account when looking at diet, because some things may stimulate the immune system too much. (Immune disorders usually mean that the system is attacking itself, rather than it just being low.  My T-lymphocytes are made okay, they are just destroyed again almost right away, but there are some cases where they aren’t produced in the first place, so understanding the basis is important.)

One of the major symptoms, apart from dehydration, was that I really felt the cold, in fact have always done so, but this was getting a lot worse.  So I started to check my base body temperature first thing in the morning, before drinking or eating anything, and at other times,  And to begin with it was way below normal, around 33 and 34 centigrade, but as I started to make dietary changes, this improved a lot, which is one of the reasons I think the diet is a big factor, even though I thought I was eating a healthy diet prior to this.  It stays around 36 degrees now.  (Taking meds like antibiotics can reduce your body temperature, but thankfully this didn’t happen when I just took a dose for a tooth abscess.)  My weight by the way has stayed roughly the same since I transformed from child to woman, and I hope it stays that way.  I used to always have slight seasonal fluctuations which I accepted as natural because my body simply wanted to store up a bit for winter, much as it would have loved to actually hibernate too!  I tend to use the winter to do a lot of work, and relax a bit in summer and enjoy the outdoors more.

One of the first things I did (apart from the water instead of tea/coffee/sugar) was to cut out wheat /gluten, and I am sure this has helped hugely.  I never did feel very comfortable eating bread, my stomach and/or intestines seemed puffy and uncomfortable.  As diet affects hugely how well you absorb the things you really need. this is very important, and having things that don’t agree with you can hugely affect your ability to process things normally.

I was very grateful to specsavers who pointed out that I had blocked tear ducts, and gave me artificial tear drops as well as advised me to use warm water on my eyes morning and evening – closed eyes with hot wet flannel on them, to help melt the blockage.  I extended this trick to include the rest of my facial sinuses, and even the thyroid itself.

I thought I was sleeping quite well, but I realise now that I wasn’t.  A factor here, is that we have natural circadian rhythms that are affected by light and dark, so it is important not to have too much light while sleeping in order to rest properly, so I have made a few adjustments and am sleeping much more restfully.  Funnily enough I used to get up most nights for the loo, but since drinking a lot more water (to try to help the dehydration I was suffering alongside hormone imbalances), I actually don’t get up in the night anymore.  I also had a word with our cats to not disturb our night’s sleep.

Part of my regime to improve things has been to cut down on tea and coffee, and thus also sugar.  This has proved to be quite easy to do, I just drink water instead almost every time.  I don’t even eat chocolates or cakes / biscuits any more, and don’t have sugar on cereal either.  Did you know that there is wheat in all the chocolates usually available?  However, there are tasty wheat free snacks available instead, though you may have to get them in a health shop, and you can use alternative flours for baking.  I have found some delicious alternative bread in my supermarkets (special areas for wheat free products) which is handy for the odd work sandwich. I’m not over the top about it, so the odd meal containing wheat when visiting is okay, and the odd helping of gravy passes too.

Please avoid alternative sugars folks, they are much worse than real sugar, they are actually toxic.  It’s best to use brown sugar or honey when you do want to sweeten anything, but I have found I don’t really crave sugar like I used to.  I think basically that the body is processing sugars better itself from other foods, esp carbs, now that I am not shovelling it straight down me.

One other major change I made was to sort myself out a good breakfast.  I had researched coconut as a healthy medium chain fat that might be very beneficial, esp instead of other bad fats.  (There is so much misinformation about fats, and other dietary things, that it is quite hard to sort out, but basically if you stick with natural things instead of things that have been highly processed, then you are much better off.  They do some pretty nasty things to some fats – hydrogenated oils or trans fats are seriously nasty.)  Anyway, so I started to use coconut in all sorts of forms in my diet, and also on my skin.  Now I mostly use coconut milk from a tin, with plain yoghut for breakfast, and this could be with gluten free muesli, or with fruit, or with honey.  The stuff in the tin is separated out into thick milk at the top and water at the bottom, so I empty it into a storage container for the fridge where it will last me several days, and first mix it all together into a creamy paste, and it seems to remain in that state okay.  Apparently high fibre does reduce the effectiveness of thyroxin if you eat within the hour of taking it, so you need to decide to either separate them or not and then stick to that pattern, otherwise your thyroxin effectiveness with fluctuate.  I also use coconut butter in currys, and add it to soups etc.  I make a mean lentil curry with lots of onion and tomato paste.

There are loads of additional exotic foods (such as maca) one can try, but these are the main things that have worked for me.  I do also eat plenty of apples.  I have never been able to eat too much fruit, preferring lots of veg, but apples seem to help to keep my weight down. I do generally seem to thrive on quite a high protein low carb diet, but I know this is not for everybody – we all have different needs, and we need to get to know what suits our own body’s.  A funny thing is that I used to seem to be slightly lactose intolerant, but since being dehydrated I have wanted (and had) loads of milk, with no side effects.  Yoghurt was always okay thankfully.

The doc did not explain to me that the thyroxin needs to be taken at least 4 hours away from calcium, 3 hrs away from iron, 1 hr away from coffee, and ideally 1 hr away from food, especially fibre, for better absorption – so thankfully I had seen this in my research, and adhere to it by taking thyroxin when i first wake up, then waiting an hour before eating, then only taking the other supplements later in the day.  (Apparently there is calcium in carbonated drinks so this would also reduce the effectiveness of thyroxin if taken closer than 4 hours of each other.)  If one is not going to leave the 1 hr food gap, then one should be consistent, so that at least the effect does not fluctuate daily.

I’m feeling happier than i have done in about 5 years.  Okay, so I do still feel pretty tired sometimes, but I am at peace with this now, and know how best to support myself.  Luckily I am in a position to be able to manage my working hours quite well, and other people have been quite understanding when I have asked them to be….. so I won’t allow myself to keep going without a snack if I need one, and always ensure I have enough water.

I thought I was doing the best thing for myself pushing myself physically to keep going, but the lesson has been that this is no longer the case…… you can overdo it and cause fatigue in your body systems.  This showed up in my endocrine system, but also through muscle pain which I could no longer ease by doing yet more exercise.

MORE DETAILS OF VITAMINS / MINERALS and some other notes:

Vit D (apparently actually classed as a hormone) is essential for making thyroid hormone, as are vit B6 and B2 (riboflavine).  Vit D supplement is esp vital in winter if you suffer at all from SAD’s.  Zinc, as I said, is essential to counter any copper excess, and also aids the conversion of T4 to T3.  Iodine and Selenium have to be in balance, as mentioned.  (Iodine partners with an amino acid called tyrosine to make T4.)  Magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function, and can help relieve actual muscle cramps, if you get those. B12 is essential for energy, and also helps relieve things such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis (if hypothyroid one probably does not absorb this from your diet).  Calcium is essential to keep bones healthy at a time of vulnerability, and we also need the calcium, along with magnesium and potassium (plus sodium), and lots of water, for proper cell function.

Essential fatty acids are also essential for proper cell function, plus they reduce inflamation.  Omega 3’s and 6.  Omega 6 is in evening primrose oil – this also helps activate brown fat which generates body heat and raises metabolism.  Evening primrose oil can also help relieve depression (including post-natal depression), and it can relieve period related migraines as well as vaginal dryness.  Omega 3’s can be found in certain fish, seeds etc (look up which ones on internet).

My multivits also include co-enzyme Q10 which helps get energy to muscles.  And probiotics to aid the digestive system.

Note – eggs seem to be good source of selenium if fresh free range esp

Selenium and magnesium tend to be low in our diets due to soil depletions, particularly in certain areas.  Apart form selenium being needed to balance iodine, it also helps to decrease thyroid antibodies.

I’m also using artificial tears for dry eyes, but these are just getting a lot better in last few days, so need them less often.

I need to avoid anti-histamines as they will dry me out.  And I seem to be allergic to an ingredient they seem to have only recently added to all the cold and flu remedies – phenylephrine.  My husband has also realised he has a problem with this, in fact it was very dangerous as his tongue swelled up in the night.

I used to love swimming, but the chlorine in pools is absorbed via your skin, and is not good for you, especially if you have these sort of health issues.  So I’m going to stick with yoga and other similar things, and lots of walking.  We also really need to avoid absorbing nasty things through our skin from cleaning products and even toiletries.

If your adrenals are weak there are some supplements we should avoid:  HGH (human growth hormone) and precursors of this such as argenine, L-argenine, and lysine.  Also melatonin.

We should also ALL avoid hydrogenated oils (particularly partially hydrogenated) / trans fats.

By the way, I did also have a scan which checked all the organs in my abdominal area, and there was no sign of any issues there, so touch wood those parts of my endocrine system will be okay, especially if I keep up with drinking lots of water.

One can probably get a lot more tests done privately if your doc won’t do them and you don’t mind the cost.  I will do this if I think I need to, but things seem okay for now.  A kinesiologist should be able to test for vitamin/mineral deficiencies and for any allergies which may weaken your ability to cope.  Tests for the adrenals include saliva tests at various times of day, so need monitoring.

I find that a scrub of my sore muscles in the bath also helps shift toxins, plus help to keep the muscles trim.

BOOKS THAT HELPED, and that I have written brief reviews for on amazon.co.uk –

Please note that the Mary J Shomon ones are very USA oriented – particularly regarding what doctors do and the resource lists, and there is naturally enough a lot of repeated information in some of them, but they are still invaluable resources.

Living Well with Autoimmune Disease by Mary J Shomon
Living Well with Hypothyroidism by Mary J Shomon
The Menopause / Thyroid Solution by Mary J Shomon
Coconut Cures by Bruce Fife

And “Natural Hormone Balance for Women” by Uzzi Reiss – I am copying my review here – “This is information that every woman should read, as even when young there are things we can do to ensure we age better. Sure wish I had read it long ago, although it is still very helpful now, after I have had issues with various parts of my endocrine system, probably all due to hormonal imbalance. I would have definitely done things differently, taken more responsibility earlier on for my hormonal health. As a total wellbeing consultant myself, I heartily recommend this ladies!  However, it was written a while ago, and I think the advice regarding soya is out of date – I would not recommend soya now for various reasons, but also including that it is likely to be genetically modified.”

DIFFERENT TYPES OF HYPOTHYROIDISM

We need to remember that we should not just take advice from one person and do what they do because they might not have the same type of hypothyroidism as you.  Also some people will just flippantly say, take iodine, without realising that it is crucial to balance it with selenium.

My issue is with the production of T4’s.  If one makes T4’s okay, but has an issue with converting them to T3’s etc, then you need a different treatment, probably to replace those specifically.  You could try taking zinc, as this helps the conversion.

And if your T4’s and T3’s are both okay, but if you have an issue managing to use them, than that is again another issue altogether, and some people are calling this Type 2 hypothyroidism, and you can look up books on this to help you.  Tyrosine probably helps bind T3’s to their receptors, so you might like to look at the dietary sources of tyrosine which I have added below.

If your pituitary is not making the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in order to tell the thyroid to work then this may be another cause of my type of hypothyroidism.  A high dose of vitamin D can help.  Vit D also helps the conversion from iodine to T4 thyroid hormone.  For this conversion you also need the amino acid tyrosine.  Tyrosine may also play a part in binding T3 to it’s receptors.  Vit B6 and Vit A are also both essential for conversion of iodine to thyroid hormone.  (Be careful not to overdose on Vit A though.)  Vit B2 (riboflavin) is essential for the whole endocrine system to work well, but especially the thyroid and the adrenals.  Zinc helps convert T4 to T3.

I have not managed to try adding tyrosine to my diet yet as I don’t know where to get it – so if anyone has any tips about that I would love to hear them please.  (I looked it up on Wikipedia “Tyrosine, which can also be synthesized in the body from phenylalanine, is found in many high-protein food products such as chickenturkeyfishmilkyoghurtcottage cheesecheesepeanutsalmondspumpkin seedssesame seedssoy productslima beansavocados, and bananas.” So I certainly ought to be getting enough of that, in fact probably more that I used to as I have more milk, yoghurt, and pumpkin seeds in my diet now, but I always had cheese, fish, chicken etc, so this was probably never an issue. [If you are hypothyroid though, the advice is strongly given to avoid soya, and I understand that the protein form is not a good match for humans.]

Take care everyone, and I hope this helps.

x

5th June – results not very exciting, the TSH levels are still substantially too high, so still trying to stimulate more hormone production, however the hormone T4 levels themselves are now showing just within range, so doc wants me to simply retest again in another month as she reckons it is too early to be conclusive about whether I need more thyroxin or not until it settles down more.  However, I am feeling very tired again, and brain foggy too.  Could be partly due to things happening around me, but she seems to think it is normal to go in this curve where i got substantially better then it slacked off again…. not sure i understand.  Meantime I am just going to try to listen to my body about what I eat and what I do rather than follow a strict regimen, and see what the retest shows.  I am also planning to have some time out from work to rest and have fun in July and August, and hopefully enjoy some sunshine!

I have been posting some alternative eats and other info on a new pinterest board for anyone interested

2nd July – okay so the blood test I had last week showed results pretty much the same as last time, so the doc has doubled my dose – gonna be interesting to see how things go as that kicks in!  I very much hope that I will be able to cope with life better, as it has been a struggle dragging myself around recently, falling asleep in all sorts of places, including on a merry go round horse at chessington.  Hope to have a clearer mind as well, goodness that would be nice!

I do know though that there are other issues I have to try to address as well – Ph levels are not good, but I haven’t really found a solution yet as diet should be fine.  Any ideas?

25th JULY 2014 update

Well, I’ve been on the increased dosage for almost a month now, and it’s definitely making a difference.  I’ve got my mind back!  No more fuzzy nonsense.  I’ve got all my work up to date, feels great.

I’m not so sure about the physical side as unfortunately hurt my back at work and that pain has rather got in the way of being able to really tell how I’m doing.  Also have been away camping and walking around twice now, so that will have given me a bit of a change.  Not sure if more rest or more exercise, but different, and I have not been sticking quite so rigidly to my special diet while away, and that seems fine.

Mid Aug 2014

Yes, seem to be fine, steady now.  Been climbing mountains again this summer, camping, swimming, and feeling on top of things.

I’ve registered for a Nutritional Therapist Diploma Course with the Health Sciences Academy which I will start in September – been wanting to do something like this for a while, yay!

x

John Lennon – in the Collective Consciousness – Being Real

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I suddenly started looking up John Lennon quotes on Goodreads the other day – which helped inspire me to write this article. I didn’t know then that it was the anniversary of his tragic death – I only found that out a day later when I started seeing posts on Facebook that made it obvious that a lot of my friends had also been looking him up and replaying his music. I don’t think it was just a co-incidence that I made that connection, I do think that his spirit is still very much with us in our attempts to find better ways of being at peace with ourselves, and living more in harmony with the planet.

As I co-administrate a Facebook open group called ‘Back to The Garden’ some of his quotes were particularly relevant – such as “I’m not really a career person; I’m a gardener, basically.” Also, “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” Our group is already named ‘Back to The Garden’ because of the 60s song ‘Woodstock’ which says “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”. Our aim is to share information to help us try to live sustainable lives by creating supportive local communities, and to participate in global meditation link-ups to help influence the collective consciousness towards achieving this. We also share creative inspiration to help express our ideas.

So, back to my original article – which basically shows why I think John Lennon is such a great example to us all – of how to truly be ourselves.

John Lennon was such a thoroughly REAL person. His quotes reflect all sides of human nature, from the sad and withdrawn, to the desperately painful, to the angry, to the loving and celebratory, and from the arrogant to the humble, as well as from the serious to the exuberant humour-filled sheer absolutes of expression. We all have many sides to our nature but we tend to try to pretend that we don’t, mostly because we are afraid to show some of it. Does society make us think that if we remain on a bland even-keel we are more agreeable to others? Surely we are more interesting if we share what we truly feel? It’s perfectly possible to be honest without being horrid. Why can’t we just accept all of it and be this real? Okay, we don’t all need to be huge public characters, but we can be quietly firm about who and how we choose to be.

Another quote of John Lennon’s which is staggeringly beautiful in its stark honesty is “When you’re drowning, you don’t think I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I’m drowning and come and rescue me. You just scream.”

If you are facing a period of ‘depression’, why not allow that to simply be for a while? I generally have 3 days of it every now and again. I learned from a very early age to manage it. You could say it was artistic temperament, but it isn’t just that – we all have natural cycles energetically and physically, which affect us emotionally, and I believe we are better off listening to these than trying to deny them. (Of course, you should look after yourself with good nutrition, exercise, and the right amount of sleep, because imbalance in these areas can exacerbate or oven trigger such periods.) I give myself permission to let it happen and actually explore it – I write or paint myself through it. I don’t do anything I don’t want to – I just live with it. Okay, so I don’t usually publish what I’ve written at such times – but I do learn from it – and I am well aware that I am processing emotion, dealing with it – not trying to suppress it. I know that after the 3 days it will go again because I have given it the space to play through. Often, I make positive changes in my life after these stages – so they are like transition phases. I seem to gather strength and insight from actually allowing them to really work through, and somehow grow from the experience. Perhaps by allowing the darker side its space, I then get recompense by gaining access to more of the light, because sometimes it is straight after one of these periods that I produce my best work. Maybe if we looked at it as if we are like snakes shedding skins so that we have room to grow some more, we could learn to process these phases naturally, we could all deal with them. Maybe they wouldn’t hang around then – we could trust ourselves to get through them – not let them overwhelm us, or leave us stuck half in half out – we could go into them fully and come out the other side. I think it is healthy to allow one’s self to honestly explore all sides of your nature, as that is probably the only way you can truly get to know and trust yourself. I think that is why I love John Lennon so much – he trusted himself to be real – and he told the truth.

Art of any form – music, writing, painting, are the most obvious ones, but there are many more, (and we don’t have to be ‘artistic’ to express ourselves, you could just write letters you may never post, or notes to yourself) – any of this helps us to truly face the world and explore it and the human psyche. We may begin with ambivalence, but we soon become fearless if we explore thoroughly enough. We become powerful in ourselves because we are learning to understand ourselves. We can’t ever really hope to understand everything around us, but we can learn to understand ourselves in relation to anything else. If we know what we stand for and how we feel about things – then that never changes no matter what else changes around you – you become like a rock, yet at the same time feel floatingly free. (Of course if you do learn from new information and experiences or learn to respond differently to situations, your outlook does evolve, but you are still the floating rock that is you growing as part of the conscious universe).

You know we need variety in life to make it interesting. There has to be variety to even enable us to exist as individuals. So you stop blocking it off – you accept your curiosity and begin to explore, and the more you do this, the more you tend to then celebrate and appreciate the variety. You also accept your vulnerability, yet at the same time feel incredibly strong because you have opened fully to life. Life feels magical – even in its madness and confusion – it is staggeringly intoxicating.

So let’s grasp the bull by the horns and dare to be real – you’ll be amazed how great it will feel…. Not to be sucked in any more, not be afraid any more. You will feel powerful, filled with energy, draw yourselves up, and take control of who you want to be.

Neale Donald Walsch said “You are all in the process of defining yourselves. Every act is an act of self definition.“

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

And Shakespeare said “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

John Lennon also said “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

But wait a minute, just as with Lennon (and many others) – those in power don’t want us to be real do they? They want us to go on consuming their goods (with poisons in them), and watching TV (with all the pap they’d like us to believe). They want us to feel powerless so that they can continue to lead us blindly into wars and other money making schemes, and so that we accept their laws and judgements, instead of questioning them or standing up for ourselves and our rights. If we are real then we become a threat to them, and they feel a need to deal with us – exactly, you got it – but now there are too many of us, and things are going to have to change. If we stop listening to them, if we stop using their systems, and simply walk away – that is all that is needed.

Then we will look after each other at community level – ensure we are can access healthy food, work together at projects that sustain us – not them – keep things local – it makes much more sense. Trade our skills, make things that last, that don’t waste raw materials and fuel, things that are truly useful – not junk to make profit out of others. We can take back everything they have been trying to take away from us completely, bit by bit, over centuries, sneakily.

Marianne Williamson said “Do you really not know what to do? Or do you just lack the courage to do it?”

Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Van Morrison said “You can’t stop us on the road to freedom, you can’t keep us ‘cause our eyes can see.”

And John Lennon said “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”

Another thing John Lennon taught us was never to be sucked into trying to fight those trying to exert power over us at their own game. He said “If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence.” And “There’s no separation. We’re all one. Give peace a chance, not shoot people for peace. All you need is love. I believe it. It’s damn hard, but I absolutely believe it.”

So don’t allow yourself to be diverted – firstly it infects you with their level of thinking, secondly it takes your power away. Save your power for doing the good stuff, dismiss the rest as insignificant. As long as you remain complete in who you want to be, you will keep your absolute power. The minute you slip into something else – you lose some of it to them. Don’t give it away, keep you power quietly to yourself, and you will always be free, they cannot defeat you. No matter what they do, your power remains yours – they do not get a jot of it. Look at how we remember the great people like John Lennon – that’s because they never lost anything at all. He has become untouchable, and yet we can all touch him and his dreams, and help make them as real as he believed they could be. He said “A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together is reality.” And “Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are…..”

More notes regarding depression.

Cognitive Dissonance might arise when you begin to realise there are things wrong in the world but can’t see the whole picture so your bits don’t fit or make sense, or you might be disappointed by the difference between your expectations and what has happened, or of people. As Lennon said “The more real you get the more unreal the world gets.”

So you need to re-adjust. Surely allowing ourselves the time to do this rather than try to fight it is actually healthy? Look closely at how you are feeling and thinking. Express how you feel through safe means – artistically, or by speaking to a friend, therapist, or to an inanimate object or imaginary person, or by writing letters or notes. Even ask rhetorical questions, or ask for what you want to happen – it helps you clarify things and you might even find answers. Recognise your autonomy – you can seek clarification in your understanding, or you can actually just choose to change the way you want to feel or do things. Medication obviously is useful in that it can give you the break to rest and steady yourself, before beginning to explore what is happening. If you view it as a tool to get back up a few steps, not as an excuse to just lie down at the bottom – then it is a positive and empowering act rather than something you are succumbing to. You should ideally always have a plan with your doctor to ensure that you are helped to withdraw carefully and gradually as you take back your power. You do sometimes need to be firm with your doctor about this, take responsibility for your own best interests, but never try to do it completely on your own.

Khalil Gibran wrote that “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

Plug into the umbilical cord of power through meditation and recharge yourself. Connect with the beautiful energy of the planet too. You are a rock between the earth and the reeling stars. Stand there feeling it deeply. Reach out your arms, dance if you want to, swim in the moonlight, sing or shout. Feel the processes in yourself re-adjusting, and renewing – and you will emerge with magic keys – re-enter life in the next stage of growing.

Remember your connection with the harmonics of the universe. You are one aspect of the one life force, manifested as human consciousness – everything else is a distraction. Focus on your relationship with the life force and yourself – who you are being – how you want to be. Other worries often pale into insignificance when you look at the bigger picture. You begin to realise that none of that small stuff can stop you from choosing exactly who you want to be. When you appreciate the astonishing variety of life around you, you tend to just find it easier to allow other things and people to just be as they are. Reasoning doesn’t matter so much anymore, even forgiving doesn’t matter much anymore – because you see that there is no need, you just let go of the small stuff and walk on deep into the wonder of being fully alive.

As John Lennon said: “Limitless undying love – which shines around me like a million suns – it calls me on and on across the universe.”

Lennon Quote Pic 1

He left us a great legacy – an example to follow – and the power of his honest to goodness words, actions, and amazing creativity lives with us still.

Don’t allow Depression to subdue your Personal Power

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You are a unique being, here on earth to experience life.  It is up to you what you make of
that life.  If you find a way to be your true self then that will give you a deep sense of
personal power.  There are many things you might like to find out about to help you
achieve this, so plenty to keep you busy!

If depression is getting in the way, don’t despair, there are many things you can do to
take back control.  It isn’t all about medication and counselling, although it is of course
always highly recommended to see your doctor and discuss options.  Also bear in mind,
that some people do have misconceptions about counselling – it is not a huge mystery –
it is just a chance to talk with a professionally trained person who is detached from your
situation and can therefore help you obtain a different perspective on it and hopefully
understand better what you might need to do to help yourself move forwards.

You can also look at your lifestyle to ensure you are getting enough sleep, exercise, and a
balanced diet, for starters.  It’s really important to give ourselves the best chance for
recovery by taking care of all aspects of ourselves.

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• Shortage of certain minerals can be linked to depression (look for my article about
this, or use a kinesiologist to test you for shortages).  Basically if you are short of
something (which can easily happen for many reasons) then your body and brain may
not have the right chemical balance to function properly.  So if this is the case, then it
can easily be addressed and will help you enormously.

• Lack of daylight hours or sunlight can also be a cause, and these days you can get
supplements to help with that, or use special lighting to emulate the sunlight.  This
can make a huge difference to your brain function.  Consider this especially if you are
living in more northern latitudes, or if you have moved country.  It can take a lot of
time to adjust to the seasons and ways of a new country anyway.

• Teenagers do need more sleep than adults, but only a bit more, so it’s okay to rest on
weekends for example if you are up early during the week, but don’t get sucked into
sleeping all day as that tends to make things worse.  Try to plan things for yourself to
do and so set times by which you have to be up.  If you have been sleeping too much,
then addressing this by setting some limits and routines can help a lot.  You tend to
feel better about yourself anyway if you are not just lazing around all the time.  I
know it can be hard to be motivated if you are not working for example, but try to
make lists of things you can do, find hobbies, be creative, help others.  There is so
much interesting stuff in the world, and the internet can help us find out about almost
anything, so it seems crazy to allow ourselves to be sucked into games all the time –
try to break any addiction to playing day after day, and to any other addictions that
might have too much power over you.  A life coaching plan can help you approach
this ­ if you want to ask me about this, just email.

• Teenagers also tend to have more difficulty going to sleep if they go to bed too early,
so plan your sleeping hours to suit, but bear in mind that you may have to make
allowances for others in the home, so if you need to negotiate things promise to be
considerate, and that will help.

• Plan what you eat to suit you too, different types of people need different food types,
and also some days we need to eat more than others, so listen to your body’s needs.  I
don’t mean eat chocolate and junk food, I mean healthy things obviously.  But some
people need a lot of protein for example, and some people get most of their vitamins
from fruit, whereas for others it may be better to focus on vegetables.  A lot of people
do not get on well with wheat or dairy products, this does not necessarily mean you
have a huge reaction, it may just mean you feel a bit bloated or full of catarrh.  We all
need a certain amount of carbohydrate, but sometimes we really overdo it.  If there
are a lot of colds going round, it is good to keep strong to fight them off by eating a
bit extra of what seems really good for you, and if you already have a cold, the same
applies.  I tend to want salty things like anchovies, along with salad such as lettuce,
and avocado, and even olives (which I don’t normally like).

• Energy management is something we often forget.  I used to stay up all night painting
when I was first living on my own, and felt great for a bit, but then it caught up with
me, and I was not just tired, but down.  These days I manage my energy better, says
she, now writing this article at 2.30am, but I did get a sleep this­afternoon, honest.  (I
needed the rest then after working in a hospital most of the day.)  Also, sometimes we
have to say no to things or even to visitors so that we can conserve our energy for
something we have to do later for example.

• Drinking enough water helps to move toxins out of your system.  There is no other
drink that works as a substitute for water except herbal teas (not infusions), with no
sugar added.

• Exercise also helps to get rid of toxins, and of course stress too.  You might like to 
consider some of the more unusual things to find something that really works for you.
You might like something that tests particular skills, such as rock climbing, or might
want more overall stretching and balance, like Yoga.  Martial arts are very holistic.
Or perhaps you could help someone elderly or unwell by taking their dog for a walk?

• If you are putting too much stress on your body with drink and smoking or other
substances, then perhaps you can find help to reduce that, as they will take their toll.
Mineral imbalance can be a factor in addiction too (refer to my first point).

• If you still need help with depression, then yes, a counsellor can help, but be sure to
choose one that is not going to dwell on negative stuff for too long.  They do need to
get a proper understanding of your situation, which includes looking at all the things
that might be challenging you, but then they should help you to move forwards
positively.  If things aren’t going the way you think they should, then do say so.
Any professional should be willing and able to change their approach if needed.
If not, then change your professional.  This is your life, it is too important to just let
things ride.

• Sometimes a life coach may be more help to look at forward planning to achieve
goals.  I can send you planning sheets and guidance notes by email if you request
them, and let me know what you are aiming to achieve.

• If you are not sure what you want to do with life yet, or have become confused or
diverted, then I have a method that can help you intuitively tap your subconscious to
discover your true interests, so contact me by email to ask me to send you my
instructions for doing this.  I have even helped mothers decide what they want to do
when their kids have grown up, as this can sometimes seem like an empty time.

• Or you might benefit from more therapeutic help, such as healing sessions.  You can
find pretty much anything you need via the internet.

• We all need to find a balance of mind, body, and spirit, to be complete in ourselves,
so you may be seeking answers for spiritual questions, to help you make sense of life.
(If this is the case, then do take a look at some of my spiritual and nature related
articles.  They might help open up a whole new perspective.)

• There are many tools like meditation which can really help you find the balance to
cope with life.  In fact they can be fully integrated with your life.

• Communication can be an issue for anyone, and I have written about that too, from
the perspectives of parents, children, young people, adults, friends, partners, and work
situations – so I hope that some of this might be of help.

• If your depression or emotions make you feel as if you can’t talk to anyone, then
often writing can be an alternative, whether it be letters, poems, songs, or anything
else.  This tends to release the emotions, and you can end up seeing things a bit more
clearly then too.  You can even write really nasty things and then just throw them
away afterwards, but it allows you to vent about how you really feel without hurting
others.  I tend to only publish positive stuff, but I do also write dark stuff just to work
those things through.  Everyone has dark times, it’s just how we deal with them that
matters.  I used to have 3 days in a cycle of every few months or so (and still do
sometimes, especially in winter) where everything just seemed to be wrong, and
nothing seemed to help, but I knew it would only be those 3 says, so I would just keep
myself to myself and write rubbish until it worked itself through.  This could have
been hormonal, as I recognised that I often had 3 day migraine periods on the other
months, and just had to accept that I needed to take tablets for those 3 days to enable
me to carry on with normal life.  Writing also formulates your ideas better so that you
can communicate them to others, or so that you can plan what you want to do next.
If you feel confused about a situation or your emotions, it really can help a lot to just
write everything down, and in time you will tend to formulate an idea of which bits
really matter and which don’t, and what you could maybe do about the ones that do.

• There may also be other forms of creative output that will help ease your pain,
anything from woodwork to pottery to painting to needlework to gardening, to
making music….. you name it really.  Most people benefit from having a hobby –
it tends to bring some balance to things like having to go out to work every day or
having to be around to care for someone else, for example.

pansysun3

If your family or colleagues do not seem to respect your views and feelings, then you
must ask for that respect, and ask for opportunities to make your input.  They are
probably not doing it deliberately, nor realising how you feel.  Even if you don’t know
what you want to say yet, that opportunity should be created, and then you will be more
likely to develop ideas to express, particularly as you hear others doing so, or in response
to certain topics.  It might be nice to start with debates on topics that having nothing to do
with your personal situation but that you have an interest in, for example current issues in
your locality, or at work.  Everyone should be allowed to introduce topics, kind of like
making an agenda.

If you find you need to look further afield to find someone to talk to, then do so, perhaps
a grandparent, a friend’s father, someone you hardly know but seem to ‘click’ with, or a
special interest group.  Don’t expect those closest to you to necessarily have the skills to
be everything for you.  We all have certain strengths and weaknesses, no one can do
everything well.  Parents do not receive training to be parents although it is the most
important thing in the world!  They just have to try to make the best of it according to
instinct, and what they can find out.  Often they would be only too glad to help do things
differently if only they knew how, so asking to talk to try to gain mutual understanding
could be a huge relief to them.  Ask everyone to plan to set aside time to both speak and
listen.  It could help to make some notes about what you want to say, to help with clarity,
and prompt memory.  We all need to take responsibility for our communication, as well
as for our actions.  Perhaps as we learn more, we might even be able to help someone
else, or help the human race by finding ways of doing things a bit better in future.

You might think you are different from others, and indeed you are, but only to a certain
extent (as we are all unique, and yet we all belong to the human race).  You might be
surprised to find that a lot of other people might think more like you than you imagined.
It is quite normal for a young person starting out in an adult world to feel a bit out of
place – there is so much to learn about and deal with for a start.  Indeed anyone can
suddenly find themselves struggling in this way.  We might have been caught up in things
and not thinking much about the meaning of stuff, and then suddenly start to question.

There is so much noise and bustle, and emphasis put on artificial and/or superficial
things.  A lot of things don’t seem to make sense, including people’s behaviour.  You
might think that we have got ourselves in an awful mess, but then again, if you take a
look at history you can see that we have done it before and then sorted things out again
somehow.  There are lots of good things too, so we can try to focus on these while we try
to figure out the rest.  We need variation and contrast in the world otherwise we would
not be able to appreciate the good stuff as everything would just be the same – boring.
Always cut yourself some slack.  If you are impatient with others around you then
chances are that you are impatient with yourself too.  Stop expecting so much from
everyone, including yourself – we are just humans trying to bumble along, some being
lucky enough to have more in their favour perhaps, but everyone has something to bring
to the table, so do try not to judge.

I know it is easier said than done when you are depressed, but try to find ways to focus on
the positive.  Turn your thoughts away from criticising others and things around you by
simply thinking about better things.  You can use affirmations in many ways.

• First thing in the morning and/or last thing at night, you could just remind yourself of
a couple of things to be grateful for – such as good weather, loving husband, helpful
teenagers, wonderful children, our good health, our job, our good looks, our specialist
skills,, etc etc.

• Anytime at all you could use affirmations to boost your own self esteem – just say
them calmly to yourself several times, for several days in a row, until you start to feel
they are true.  Here are a few ideas, breathe deeply and try to FEEL them to be true.
”I am loved” (this could mean by family, partner, friends, God, or the universe, etc)
”I love”  (this could be anything such as the above, or such as hugs, food, books,
music, walks, swimming, flowers, trees, cats, sunshine, rain, whatever you can think
of.  Try writing down a list, and add to it every day.  Draw too if you feel so inclined.
”I am lucky enough to be able to ……..” (list your skills here, and also everyday
things such as cook, drive, read and write, etc… anything that lets you go about your
life in both normal and special or unique ways.).  These are also nice to do while you
are walking along, and you can add things you see around you – perhaps the bird
singing in the hedge, the blossom, the sun.

• And here are some more:

I release past fears and resentments / I am open to receive. / Life is a miraculous
gift! / I am here to learn, grow, and have fun. / I am responsible for creating my own
happiness. / I deserve to take good care of myself. / I nurture my body and feed my
soul. / I make the time to be still, and listen to the truth. / Talking it out – heals /
I express myself clearly and positively. / I forgive others and myself, and let pain go. /
I am becoming more and more of who I can be. / I am ready to move forwards.

• Affirmations must be in the present tense to be effective – not some vague distant
future thing.

• There are also a lot of inspiring quotations out there – I have an inspiration page on
my website, which I regularly add to.  I also include some in my books.

Do remember that is normal for people to feel down at least some of the time, just some
people hide it better or deal with it differently perhaps.  I tend to think it is people who
think more deeply about life who struggle a bit more with it, perhaps because a night’s
partying doesn’t switch it off – it is not really the answer because it all seems a bit
shallow to you.

Please don’t feel bad about yourself because of it, as obviously that would make it worse
– just try to recognise the patterns and find the best ways for your unique self to deal with
it.  Try to look for things you can learn from difficult situations or emotions instead of
trying to dismiss them.  Allow yourself time to work things through instead of expecting
to be unrealistically ‘normal’ all the time – just ensure that you put a limit on how long
you dwell on stuff – you must move beyond it at some point – and if you let yourself
work it through fully instead of trying to ignore it, then you are more likely to do this.
Observe yourself and notice the patterns – then use your self ­management skills – for
example you might say, okay so this weekend I am going to just set time aside of myself
to work this situation over, and I’ll be okay by Sunday dinner time and go out for a really
nice meal (as a reward).  If you need an extra day, then take Monday off work, but be
sure to return Tuesday, don’t allow this to drift.  This is how you take back control, and
earn your own self ­respect, which is much more important than other people’s respect.
However, you do also earn other people’s respect when you take control – step back
when you need to, instead of trying to be sociable – even ask people to give you a bit of
space instead of coming round – knowing that you will be better company later on when
you are ready ­ and be open, explain to them why instead of letting them feel rejected.
Your true friends will understand, and will also feel good if you promise to call on them
if you really need to, otherwise that you will see them when you are done.  This honesty
lets them see that you are managing the situation logically, and it also sets an example to
give other people the permission to use these skills.

I should say here that it is really important to write things down as you work them
through, rather than just trying to work them out inside your head – because your mind
will tend to just get woolly and run out of steam, whereas writing it down develops
clarity, mostly because there is more of a sequence to it. There are other ways you could
do it of course, such as speaking out loud and making recordings, and listening back, then
recording again.  I can’t say I’ve tried this, but I can imagine I might find myself
laughing at myself after a bit – I must try it!  What I have tried though, is to pretend I am
actually having a conversation with someone, where I am both people, so I change places
and speak for each one – an amazing exercise, as not only do you work through the
situation, but you also get to understand the other point of view a bit, if you don’t just
make a parody of it – but even that would be fun.

Don’t try to speak directly with other people involved in the situation, or actually send
them a letter or email, until you have taken the heat out of your emotions and reached
some clarity about your feelings.  This way you can vent without walking out of or losing
your job, or damaging your relationship (whether partner, colleague, friend, or family).
Obviously, if by the end of it you have boiled it down to a few crucial bits that need
addressing, then you can deal with it appropriately because the exaggerated emotional
response has gone and you can be clear about what you need to do or say.  You should
thus be able to respectfully approach others and explain your viewpoint and ask for what
you need.  If you feel a need to apologise for anything, then that is fine, but don’t be
defensive about it or dismiss the problem that way because it will only arise again, try to
be clear about your viewpoint and what steps you think need taking to remedy the
situation.  As long as you are prepared to listen to other people’s viewpoints as well, then
you should expect people to consider yours.  It is the only way that solutions can ever be
found that work for all parties.  If there are negative things that need to be said, then you
could always soften these by also pointing out any positives – for example, “I really
appreciate that this is a great project, but do I think that we should take a different
approach to how we…….. because I feel ………..” or “I am really grateful that you want
to always do the cooking, but I would really like to sometimes have a turn.  To be honest,
we do have some differences in taste, and it’s only fair that I get to choose what we eat
and prepare it the way I want to sometimes.  Also on the days I cook, perhaps you could
do the dishes, instead of it always being my job – I don’t mind doing chores, but I like a
bit of variation where possible, and I would enjoy the creativity of cooking.”

You cannot progress with life if you don’t deal with the bits that really matter.  If in the
clear light of day you decide you need to make some big changes, then it will also restore
your power to start making your plans gradually.  Even if it is something like moving out
to your own place, or a total change of career, let the power of knowing that you need to
do it guide you so that you feel excited by new possibilities rather than daunted by the
process of getting there.  If you lose steam anywhere along the way, remind yourself that
you are breaking free of a situation that you could have let yourself remain trapped in if
you hadn’t had the strength and insight to realise it, and the courage to do something
about it.

Okay so maybe there are a few ideas here that might help you start to feel more
comfortable with yourself and the world around you, and I can always help you find more
if you would like to contact me.  If we can find our rightful place in the world then we are
likely to be able to banish depression and take back our personal power.  Please do not be
afraid to seek it out.

As Shakespeare wrote “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Good luck!

**************************************************************

Bundle of 2 MEDITATION GUIDES is available from our GUIDES page.
Guide 1 – Information / Principles / Energy and Breath / Protection /
Grounding / Safety
12 full pages + 4 pg bonus informative book review.
Guide 2 ­ Practice
23 full pages of techniques & examples to use from simple to advanced.
Includes some meditations for groups and for couples.

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Bundle of 2 STRESS BUSTING Guides is available from our GUIDES page.
A 40+ page Guide for Stress Busting
from Stress Consultant Julia Woodman
including her TV demonstration script.
plus an additional 20+ pages of guidelines
which she uses for her workshops
with extra ideas and exercises to help you.

and see my other blog here –

Depression, Addiction, and even Weight issues can be linked to Mineral Imbalance
for some ideas about how body chemistry might be affecting you
(including cell function, hydration, detoxification)

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depression, addiction, and even weight issues, can all be linked to mineral imbalance

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CELL FUNCTION AND MINERALS

We depend on proper cell function for our bodies to be able to work properly and enable us to experience good mental and physical health.

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The cell process is basically that we hold calcium and sodium inside our cells during daylight hours, then when night comes, these move out of the cells – taking toxins with them, into the lymph, then blood, etc.

At night we have magnesium and potassium instead inside the cells.  If we are short of these then they cannot move into the cell, displacing the calcium, sodium, and toxins, so the toxins get stored up and cause problems.

These electrolytes are very important for detoxifying, plus we need lipids (omega 3 & 6 oils), plus lots of water for hydration, and for the correct electrical charges to be in place around the cells. The omega 3 and 6 oils cannot be made by our bodies so have to be ingested to increase cell membrane permeability and for various other functions.

WATER

Water is very important. If we are dehydrated (which is quite common) then we are not able to get rid of the toxins from our bodies as we should.  Toxins build up all the time from normal bodily processes, and are usually eliminated by the exchange of minerals in and out of the cells, and then carried out via the lymph, which becomes sluggish if there is not enough water in the body.  If we become quite dehydrated, our bodies will tend to become ill in an effort to raise the temperature enough to get stagnant lymph flowing and clear the toxins that have built up.  Also, if we are dehydrated, then the cells store extra cholesterol in their membranes in order to keep the water they do have, so the process tends to be a bit of a vicious cycle.

Water for re-hydration purposes has to be either pure water, or herbal tea (not infusions), with nothing added.  There are loads of interesting herbal teas.  I particularly like echinacea and raspberry – the echinacea helps the throat etc, and boosts immunity, but needs the raspberry (or something) flavour.  Lemon and Ginger is also very good for clearing out and for the digestive system.

MINERALS

Our diets are affected by soil depletion and pollution as well as by the way food is processed, so we do need to use supplements to replace some missing ingredients, and try to be careful about what we eat and drink.

It is quite easy to become deficient in magnesium as there is not much left in the soil especially in particular areas. (The same applies to things like selenium.) 

Shortage of magnesium (known as “the great soother”) often means we seek other things to try to soothe us – like sugar, alcohol, or drugs.  Putting on weight or other effects of having too much sugar can cause depression, and so can feeling dependent on things like alcohol or drugs.

I have to watch out for a shortage of 
potassium (available from bananas and also strawberries), but am not sure yet why I tend to have this lack.

We apparently quite often misplace calcium in our bodies rather than being short of it, if the cell membranes are stopping this process of electrolytic exchange, then it has to go somewhere else.

We are unlikely to be short of sodium, in fact if the sodium levels are too high, it can interfere with this process, and you may need zinc to help redress the balance.

Of course, there are many other vitamins and minerals needed for proper body function, so this is only scratching the surface, but I would like to encourage people to educate themselves about these things so that they can make their own choices about their health in an informed way.  I believe that we can recover from pretty much anything in a natural way if we have the right information to make the right choices.

Iodine in the thyroid is supposed to maintain body temperature, among other things, but a lack of minerals, and stress, can have a huge effect on this process. If people’s average body temperature is lowered then it is much harder to regain health. Fluoride that has been added to water and/or toothpaste tends to block the absorption of iodine because it attaches to the receptors that were meant for attracting the iodine..  Nitrates and nitrites (from fertilizers and thus in our water) also have this effect (also chlorine, chloride, bromine, and bromide).

The contraceptive pill is said to contain a lot of copper, which does not result in a good balance particularly in young girls as it emulates the conditions of a woman in labour, and also reduces the amount of zinc present at a time (puberty) when the body really needs it.  Low zinc increases the likelihood of co-dependent and/or addictive behaviours, which could perhaps go a long way to explain why so many young girls are drinking and smoking so heavily.  ‘The pill’ also contains synthetic estrogens which are building up in our water and affecting other life forms down the food chain.

OTHER FACTORS

If we become too acidic it affects our digestive enzymes and so we can become short of essential vitamins and minerals due to not being able to absorb them properly via our digestive systems. We need to ensure that our detoxification system is working to reduce acidity, as our normal metabolism process produces acidity as a matter of course.  

Stress from relationships, jobs, money worries, etc can lead to dehydration, as can unresolved emotions from the past, and as can electromagnetic interference from having too many gadgets etc around us. Stress and negative thoughts attract similar vibrations, thus we seem to attract more bad luck when we are already down, and become vulnerable to depression.  We are meant to be in tune with the earth and the universe.  Everything is possible if you live in harmony with all around you.

We need to stop focusing on treating our symptoms and find solutions at the root.  We need to ensure our bodies have what they need to function as they are meant to, getting rid of things they don’t need in a natural way, rather than burying the symptoms only to end up getting worse.  Taking too many medications or other drugs only adds to the stress we are putting on our bodies, and also tends to reduce our overall temperature, which as we have said is not good for our health either.

Surely we should also be trying to stop the widespread use of toxins in our environment that are destroying our soil, our water, and even our air.  Clean soil, air, and water are things we ought to have a right to, along with freedom of thought, and of speech.

Everything in our natural world and out there in the universe is inter-connected, so we need to be open to that connection, not closed off by fear, allowing other people to dictate to us.  Once we understand our bodies needs we can obtain health and happiness and freedom.  Our bodies are amazing, so let’s try to pay heed to what they need and help them to help themselves!

See my article – An Holistic approach to Loving our Bodies and our Lives

and Respecting your Body and choosing sound relationships

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