FIGHT or FLIGHT

Wellbeing Digital HealthCare’s SENSATE device.

A fear of flying creates something of a problem when your job requires frequent international travel. Here, Vogue jewellery editor Carol Woolton attempts to overcome her misgivings once and for all.

By Carol Woolton
Friday 30 March 2018
Helmut Newton

Is it my paranoia or have there been more plane crashes than usual recently? For someone terrified of turbulence this was playing on my mind as I planned my flight to the Basel watch and jewellery fair this week. You see, I’ve had some scary flights to Basel over the years. Once a pilot threatened that we were flying straight into the “eye of a storm”, another time a stewardess shouted over the tannoy system: “Sit down, this is a very dangerous flight” and with a thumping heart I imagined the entire British jewellery industry plummeting into the snow-capped Alps where we’d freeze to death before anyone could find us.

Mindful that I could be in for another nerve-racking flight I investigated a new stress-busting tool, which works in tandem with your smartphone.

The smooth pebble shaped device called Sensate vibrates on the vagus nerve lying underneath your breast bone, which holds the key to keeping calm as it wends its way from the brain to the gut, controlling the rapid breath, increased heart rate and blood pressure of flight or flight responses.

The weather report at 5am was promising gale force winds over Western waters – I’ve no idea where those are exactly but I wasn’t taking any chances and grabbed the Sensate before heading to Heathrow.

We all know fear of flying is unscientific and illogical, but the conscious mind doesn’t communicate this to the body to prevent it releasing stress hormones. On a flight to New York recently I eavesdropped as the pilot, who’d emerged from the cockpit, was reassuring the terrified woman seated behind me taking her first flight over 30 years.

It was going to be choppy for the next couple of hours. “Don’t be frightened it’s just the weather,” his calm voice said, “think of it as a boat bobbing up and down on the water in the wind”. I stopped listening; he’d pinpointed the reason for my nervousness. There are thousands of boats littering the seabed due to adverse weather conditions.

On board the Basel flight I take my aisle seat, having paid extra to move in case I needed a quick getaway, and they start the safety video, which the comedian Ricky Gervais described as “a bit of a downer” during his recent Humanity tour. “If you do go into the side of a mountain at 500 miles an hour,” he quipped, “the brace position does f*** all.”

I plug the Sensate into my phone, and the low-frequency sound waves begin to pulse gently through my chest, with the Forest music that I’d chosen from the app to channel through my earphones, and soon the combination distracts my mind.

When the vagus nerve is activated apparently it puts the brakes on the stress response and I do begin to notice that I am feeling calmer than usual. When the seat belts sign pings on, the plane shakes and rattles, and my exit is blocked by the drinks trolley (always a panicky moment), so I turn up the volume of the music and the vibration intensity on my phone. This small decision makes me imagine that I have some control over my anxiety and immediately I start to relax again.

“Our cross cultural instinct level is so intense,” explains integrated healthcare physician Stefan Chmelik, whose company Bioself Technology have developed Sensate, “But it’s primitive, like that of a 500 million-year-old lizard which goes into flight, fright or freeze mode.

The problem is that the brain stem is powerful, but not smart, and can’t differentiate between real and imagined threats.” Which means the same life or death response is applied for anything – even too many e-mails in your inbox is classed as a physical danger.

I arrive in Basel with a clearer mind and feeling more at ease than I have before, grateful that I didn’t succumb to gin and tonics like the nervous couple sitting in front of me as I glance in my diary at the daunting schedule of back-to-back meetings. My vagal toning may not be over quite yet.

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© Condé Nast Britain 2018

UNPLUG: BE HEALTHY & HAPPY

In the immediacy of daily life, I  am aware how the fluctuations of my mind can and do influence my breath…

Disconnecting from the present moment, causes shallow breathing and  I am increasingly impatient,  stressed and reactive…

Being present:  the potency of the here and  now is about being available to co-exist with  people, places and things, which  engenders a feeling of connection that is  non-judgemental, no longer separate, anxious, irritable and discontent. – Life at it best.

 

FREEDOM FROM SUFFERING

Whenever I am unhappy it is  because  my awareness  has drifted  away from the present moment, into the past,  overthinking, usually about  the future…  

Addicition is  a complex, a cluster of mental health behavioural problems and a social  disconnection from oneself, family, peers and community.

I am  in longterm abstinence based recovery. My early days/months and years  in addiction recovery were a mix of awe, cofusion, calm, peace and free floating anxiety.

The first time I went deep into  the 12step with a  sponsor I learned about denial:  obsessive thinking,  compulsivity,  impulse control,   boundaries,  perfectionism, and shame. The mask of hubris. And an overwhelming fear of living and dying…

Fortunately,  recovery communities  are an unlimited source  for “life beyond the meetings.” Abundant supportive suggestions for holistic therapists, workshops, events  specific to  shame, attachment and trauma.  changed …so

In the  treatment of  complex addiction away from stigma, alientation and isolation  to  biopsychosocial holistic  approach, and actively engage in the global recovery communities.

My perspective and compassionate approach to treating addiction  is to  engage  clients clients in a regime of holistic therapies that will inspire them, encourage them have their voice, self stress with confidence, calmness  for them to  thrive, maintain a momentum of motivational change and transformation.

I began retraining in global addiction healthcare  in 1989 by volunteering for a year   at the Manhattan Centre for Living – founded by Louise Hay and Marianne Williamson, in 1991 I returned to  home to London and Kent to trains in addiction therapy.

The Manhattan for Living Centre was a healing hub for people who were dying from aids and proved nurturing of the mind, body and soul. From nutritional meals, and holistic treatments, followed by monthly  talks and events  with Louise Hay and Marianne Williams.  I learnt to be a buddy, who never said goodbye, we said  “see you”…and the seeds for living in the solution were firmly planted.

An invitation to experience a  puja  at the Upper West Side  Vedanta Society in 1988 began the quest to heal existential angst. A new Vedanta retreat in the majestic Hudson Valley had just been completed in the spring of 1989 and I went to my first introduction to a meditation retreat.

Over the years,  I have had the privilege of meditating with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Amma, Lama Yeshe, and Dadi Jenki,  one to one and with thousands to instil  a sense of quietude…

I continue to use  a mantra Lama Yeshe gave me in 1993  to attune, and rebalance the mind and body connection…

1998 – my life changed again, my quest to live conciously  took me even deeper into “my new life” when   I heard about the  Indian mystic,  Meher Baba,  who stopped speaking, and remained silent for many years, and was inspired  to visit to his ashram in India.

A quantum huge leap into the unknown…India’s enriched  cultures, mythology and deity devotion was daunting…however the moment I landed, my soul knew I  had come home…

Meeting with Meher Baba’s  extraordinary mandali, pilgrims and people who had dedicated their lives to to living in this extraordinary commmunity captivated my spirit…unbounded  love and devotion for God..

As happens, I after a few at home in the wild west, I felt compelled to leave my “airbrushed-life” the illusory pursuit of  perfect love and happiness  that continued to elude me…and  to live amongst the rural  villagers nearby  the ashram for a year…

Talking less, keeping quiet is still a hallenge, I have learnt to love the easing into the stillness…… I use  my breath to bring my mind back to the moment..

Because if I don’t I am at my worst when I am stressed, anxious and  triggered:  mentally, physically and emotionally I feel as though  I have no boundary,  energetically  separating,  you from me…

A few sacred rituals connect me back to my essential being: four simple things: I get enough sleep, I exercise, I meditate and eat 90% organic, mostly  home made,  healthy food. I call these rituals, routines, actions and tasks  my pathways  to peace mind, inner  calm and outer happiness…

I love sleeping,  our bedroom is a sanctuary.  No devices, a night light to read myself to sleep, a humidifier with essential calming oils, and a beautiful  ever changing  window to the world at night,  a constant symphony -like flow of clouds passing through the universe…

Winter 2018: my  cooking  hero is Yotam Ottolenghi…go to:  https//linktr.ee/ottolenghi for  “food everything” recipes, spices/pantry/hampers and gifts..fabulous!

I love planning, prepping, cooking food made with love, for my family. I “just do it” to get on the mat  every morning, 15 minutes of core.mund and body strengthening ..and I am a constant meditator…throughout the day  to “be in flow” and observe from a distance, the world racing by me…

NOW is  the most important time in my life… to  thrive, feel safe,  let-go all the while   striving with self-forgiveness and compassion for when I over react, overthink, over-due, over-commit and  fail @  being  my best, doing my my best for me and you…

I  love the silence, the nothingness of doing nothing… easing into   beautiful  possibilities  of non-attachment… to anything…

My message to you is simple: YOU ARE ENOUGH.

I am enough.

I am not alone.

I have everything I need in this moment.

“Ahum Prema” is Sanskrit:”I am love”

I AM.

….Detaching from the madness:

Essential   “noise cancelling ear phones” ensure my “bubble” is protected from the chaos of Londoners on the move…and so perfect for listening to  432 ‘LOVE” from  divine Soul Medicine….and when I feel at my edge time switch to  fabulous, powerful vocals and lyrics…

My current theme song is:

‘SHALLOW”

A Star Is Born Soundtrack Soundtrack.

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

[Verse 1: Bradley Cooper]
Tell me somethin’, girl
Are you happy in this modern world?
Or do you need more?
Is there somethin’ else you’re searchin’ for?

[Refrain: Bradley Cooper]
I’m fallin’
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And in the bad times, I fear myself

[Verse 2: Lady Gaga]
Tell me something, boy
Aren’t you tired tryin’ to fill that void?
Or do you need more?
Ain’t it hard keepin’ it so hardcore?

[Refrain: Lady Gaga]
I’m falling
In all the good times
I find myself longing for change
And, in the bad times, I fear myself

[Chorus: Lady Gaga]
I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

STRESS…..

 

Complex Stress and Anxiety can be the cause of  mental and addiction healthcare problems. Holistic treatment methodologies that promote optimal  health, calmness and relaxation can  help reduce stress can be a very effective  preventative ways to  treat illness.

I recommend   the 432 series at  https://www.soulmedicine.me/music

Soul Medicine founder 432 LOVE

Soul Medicine’s 432 Love Tracks help me to bypass the minds habit of clinging on to fear.

Instead, it allows us to access the heart’s energy of love, that pure, eternal and undiluted essence of our being. This gives us a greater chance to approach life without getting caught up in the distracting and unnecessary.

Two of the tracks (Being Loved and Being Lifted) focus on the Sanskrit sound ‘ma’ the healing syllable known as the Hridyaya. This is a very pure and sacred sound that awakens qualities of love, such as patience, kindness, truth, healing, sweetness, forgiveness and vulnerability.

All of these tracks have been created to promote greater love in your life.

To learn more about deep immersive healing BAST @

https://www.britishacademyofsoundtherapy.com/what-is-sound-therapy/

I am…

In the immediacy of daily life what  keeps me motivated, happy, and free (most of the time) is the awareness of  the need to control others, particular if I am stressed, tired and or anxious….

Healing  toxic relationship dynamic (co-dependency)  necessitates  being vulnerable, building ego strengths and healthy boundaries to become your own “excavator of the psyche”  is in the unravelling process –  from being what the Sufi’s terms as “being tightly wrapped” requires  a commitment to longterm therapy, meditation and yoga……to reclaim what was shutdown by trauma to trusting yourself in the  journey to authenticity.

Having a stepson come into my life 14 years ago  changed my thinking and assumption of parenting. I needed to go deep into my inner resources and reawaken effortless grace and patience…

I am an alpha babe who can overthink everything, I was addicted to my narrative for a long time in my early recovery, today the narrative is a mirror of my experiences, simpler, succinct and compassionate…

My self care regime is simple: Sleep. Eat. Meditate. Exercise. Upon awakening my mind is trained to   engage  in mindfulness to slow down a lifelong habit of overthinking, reactivity and impatience…ergo ease   into a neutral mindset is a combination of  self-compassion, and self forgiveness…

I have learned the value in letting go…and slowing down…now in my mid 60’s it easier to restore calmness, compassionate self care and ease into stillness – bliss!

Effort and grace engenders being  compassionately curious about  others…no longer judgemental and disempowering are skills that serve me well in my  work as an Addiction Therapist specialising in treating complex  trauma therapy.

Healing intense feelings of helplessness and helplessness can begin with engaging in  holistic therapy to inspire awareness and change. I suggest  hypnotherapy,  somatic experiencing, yoga and meditation.

 

12step  recovery communities embraced holistic therapies many years ago…and I recommend people new to recovery seek  people who have long term recovery, experience/commitment  in their personal therapy,  because the benefits of going beyond addiction recovery social constructs is where you will want to heading…

If nothing changes, thing changes… Internationally recognised as a leader, influencer and expert in addiction:   Dr Gabor Maté’s topical youtube  tutorials can support  your biospychosocial recovery…his talk contains the elements of therapeutic safety, permission and potency to find your way through the complex  layers of addiction and mental healthcare.

 

 

Sounds of Silence…

 

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

This gorgeous Olive Tree continues to thrive in the grounds of Pont Du Gard.  Leaving the chaos of urban living behind us, we travelled to visit the ancient aqueduct and marvel in the sophistication of Roman visionaries, design and engineering – we entered in the silent realms  of ancient times   beneath our feet.

Since it became a tourist destination, many novelists and writers have visited the Pont du Gard and written of the experience. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was overwhelmed when he first visited it in 1738:

‘I had been told to go and see the Pont du Gard; I did not fail to do so. It was the first work of the Romans that I had seen. I expected to see a monument worthy of the hands which had constructed it. This time the object surpassed my expectation, for the only time in my life. Only the Romans could have produced such an effect. The sight of this simple and noble work struck me all the more since it is in the middle of a wilderness where silence and solitude render the object more striking and the admiration more lively; for this so-called bridge was only an aqueduct.

One asks oneself what force has transported these enormous stones so far from any quarry, and what brought together the arms of so many thousands of men in a place where none of them live. I wandered about the three storeys of this superb edifice although my respect for it almost kept me from daring to trample it underfoot.

The echo of my footsteps under these immense vaults made me imagine that I heard the strong voices of those who had built them. I felt myself lost like an insect in that immensity. While making myself small, I felt an indefinable something that raised up my soul, and I said to myself with a sigh, “Why was I not born a Roman!”

 

CREATING HAPPINESS: CHANGING THINKING

When we accept that our inner feeling states exist in a state of generativity, we are able to trust…
 

 The ancient but perfect science of meditation engenders  the evolution of the mind. It includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self-realization. The term mindful is to be intentional and conscientious in what we think and feel, spontaneously open and creative to unfolding opportunities possibilities.

 

At the heart of addiction are suppressed painful emotional states.   Meditation  brings about changes in within the brains complex circuitry systems, ergo a  greater acceptance of  peole, places and things… the ability to cultivate a state of being that is compassionately non-judgemental.

 

Addiction according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviours.

The original Sanskrit term for enlightenment “moksha” translates as “liberation’ which means freedom from suffering, pain, illusion, The task  in personal recovery management is to continue to be motivated to be present…consciously living consciously…

• Self-awareness: The ability to identify your emotions and understand their impact, using feelings intuitively as a basis for decision-making.

• Social awareness: The ability to discern, detect, and act appropriately in accordance with other people’s emotions.

• Self-regulating: In  control your own emotions, responses and impulses, and continously  adapting  to changes as they arise in situations beyond our control.

The degree to which a person is perceived as being self-aware, straightforward and in control of themselves and the situation is closely correlated to the perception of his or her capabilities. This is especially true of transformational longer-term recovery strategies.

 

 

NON-ATTACHMENT

 

“There are, as well, ways to describe the manifestation of two therapeutic ideals: no excess tension in the body and a neutral reaction to symbolic associations and mental representations of trauma.” Strengthening My Recovery: Meditations for Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families

 

In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.

To be in flow  is to know the changeless:
to know the changeless is to have insight.
Things in harmony with life  remain;
 people, places and or things that are forced are not sustainable.

Trust the process. I am open to allowing what needs to happen. I trust there is a greater power than myself at work in this situation. I relax and let go of  fear, an unconscious need to be in control of myself, the situation and you.