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Mind over genes

Genetic Determinism vs Epigenetics

Nature vs nurture will be always be a hot topic of debate. I remember reading about it for the first time in my psychology class in 12th grade. It was a fascinating topic and still is. Much research has taken place in this area. To make it short, Identical twins studies suggest that even though identical twins share the same genetic material, they often don’t share the same diseases or health outcomes.

The stringent concept of genetic determinism states that we are born with a set of genes and we are bound to get the same diseases our parents and grandparents got. Whereas epigenetics drawing from identical twin studies points out how even if we cannot change the genes, we can change the gene expression, meaning the way the gene expresses itself.

Bruce Lipton, in his book, Biology of Belief, says that Darwin’s theory has undermined the role of nurture (environment) and led us to believe that ‘genes control biology’. He further goes on to say that most diesease like diabetes, cancer etc are due to ‘complex interactions amongst multiple genes and environmental factors, and not due to a single gene’ and, ‘the environmental influences including nutrition, stress, and emotions, can modify those genes without changing their basic blueprint’

Which simply means, environment can triumph over hereditary.

Chromosomes carry genetic material and they are covered by proteins like ‘sleeves’. When the genes are covered, their information cannot be read. What you need is an environmental signal to make the protein to change shape , which allows the genes to be read ( p. 38, Lipton, 2005)

So the environment makes a huge difference in whether your genes will be expressed or not. For example, if you believe you have a ‘diabetic gene’, firstly it’s not a single gene, and secondly the environment will determine whether you will become a diabetic or not, whether the diabetic gene will be turned on (expressed) or off (silenced).

Given that stress, emotions, lifestyle can change gene expression, we have a lot in our control. Here’s what you can do with EFT, meditation and other techniques:

Change your negative beliefs about health. Nocebo effect is when negative beliefs about health make you sick. If you believe you will fall sick, most probably you will. Hence it’s important to release health anxiety, change your thoughts patterns and transform limiting health related beliefs.

More in the next newsletter. Subscribe here

Reference: Lipton, B. (2005). Biology of Belief. India, H

5 tips for learning a new skill

7 years back when I started learning Krav maga, a street smart self-defense, I didn’t realize it would be so tough especially since my fitness level was pretty low 🙂 However, more than the craft itself, it was my attitude that made it difficult. My perfectionism was a problem. I was pushing myself a lot and was too hard on my body. Gradually with the help of EFT, I started paying attention to my body’s signals and understanding when it needed a break or rest and when it needed to be gently coaxed, encouraged, or pushed. I was able to find the right way to navigate out of my comfort zone. Too little stress and no change happens, too much stress and we burn out. We need to find that balance ourselves as each one of us is unique and different.

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Slowly I started enjoying the training and my body was able to adapt and pick up the techniques much faster. Surprisingly I was able to withstand the brutal Kravmaga grading as well. I was also able to deconstruct my limiting beliefs and change them. Here’s an article I wrote on this. (https://eftforpeace.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/10-ways-to-develop-persistence-and-enjoy-learning-a-new-skill/)

As I look back, I realize how EFT helped increase my self-awareness. I learnt that I was a perfectionist when it came to acquiring new skills and slowly I was able to change that and be more accepting of myself.

Recently I joined Zumba classes. I’ve always wanted to learn dance and it seemed like the right choice to learn dance and stay fit.

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I’ve been to 4 classes so far. I’m often out of sync in the class as I suck at dance though I enjoy it thoroughly. Thankfully, the perfectionism I experienced in my Krav Maga classes was absent. Then it struck me that the tapping I did for my krav maga classes had brought about lasting changes. I didn’t have to tap at all this time on perfectionism despite the fact that I’m a non dancer and this is as difficult a skill to learn as Krav Maga had been for me 🙂 This a clear case of generalization in EFT. When you tap on an issue thoroughly, the results often generalize to other similar stuff.

I’m sure that some new aspects may come up and I’m all set to tap on them!

So here are the 5 things that can make it easy for you to learn a new skill.

1. Increase tolerance for your mistakes. Fumble, fall, be out of sync, be out of tune – just practice and be tolerant of your mistake because they will happen. That’s how we learn.

2. Decrease worry about what others think – Tap on decreasing your worry and fear of judgement. Stop paying so much attention to the body language of others and guessing what they’re thinking. Making assumptions and guessing drain your energy.

3. Increase self compassion. Be more kind to yourself. Be more accepting and forgiving.

4. Honour and Appreciate the effort you’re putting in. We’re habituated to look at our mistakes rather than the effort that we put in. Tap on appreciating your efforts.

5. Persist and tap on persisting.

Take a Stress Pause s-t-o-p

Adapted from Donald Altman’s book, ” The Mindfulness Toolbox”

Here’s a simple way to use mindfulness to take a stress pause in your hectic and busy day.
This STOP exercise helps you in becoming more present, aware, grounded, and helps you respond rather than react to situations. I’ve added Tapping to it. The EFT instructions will be in brackets; you can use them if you want or just do the mindfulness technique. Either way it is effective,

S -Stand: Stand in one place and take a couple of deep calming breaths. Breathe from your belly. [Tap on each point and take a deep breath while standing]

T- Tune: Tune into your body. Feel yourself connected to the earth and rooted like a tree. Feel your feet growing roots that run deep into the earth. Scan your body starting  from the toes to the top of your head and keep breathing. If a body part feels tensed, just contract it and then relax it. [Tap and breathe]

O – Observe: Now observe your external environment. Make note of three sounds and objects in your environment. Observe the quality of the sounds, the texture and quality of the objects that you observe.  [While observing, you can also tap and verbally say what you’ve observed, for example – I’m observing/am aware of the sound of the fan]

P- Possibility: Donald Altman says, “Pause to reflect on the openness, spaciousness and possibilities that lie before you. You have just gone off auto-pilot and are now free to choose a new and beneficial direction… Who says that right now you couldn’t sing, smile, call a supportive friend, take a nice walk, or get a scoop of your favorite ice cream?” [Tap on new thoughts and ideas]

The Unavoidable Triggers

We all have people, situations and issues that trigger us – push our buttons.

For example, a friend’s habit of interrupting while you speak might be making you furious or an environmental issue might be triggering you to the point of losing sleep. These are repetitive situations that can trigger us.

One of the most effective ways of handling triggers is to use EFT on them. I’ve had tremendous success with EFT in upsetting situations.company_reluctance

There will be two kinds of triggers – situations where your attitude and behaviour have the potential to directly influence the outcome, and situations where they don’t. Taking the earlier example – a situation where you can directly influence the situation. After a few rounds of tapping, you might consider telling your friend not to interrupt you. The difference will be that you’ll be much calmer when you ask them to shut up! 😉 You’ll get the confidence to clearly explain how you feel when you’re interrupted and what you’d like instead.

With an environmental, political or social issue you will not have control over the entire situation. Every time you hear someone speak about it or see it on news, you might get triggered. While it’s good to be aware of societal and environmental issues and not be numb to the causes that need our attention, it’s not good for our emotional health to have sleepless nights and meltdowns over them. You’ll also be hurting your love ones with your anger and snappy attitude.

In both these situations EFT can work.

When things are more or less in your control, meaning your attitude and behaviour can directly influence the outcome.

Steps

1. Tap on the emotion

2. Find out what it’s saying. Listen to its message. Here’s a video link on how to tap on anger and its messages.

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When things are not in your control, meaning your attitude and behaviour cannot influence the outcome directly or immediately. This kind of tapping needs persistence.

Steps

1. Tap every time you feel triggered. If you’re in conversation with someone and getting triggered, press your finger points.

2. Go deeper – tap on your helplessness about not being able to change anything about a situation.

3. After several sounds you might have a cognitive shift. If not, tap on the things that are in your control; what can you do from your end. Every small change that you work on makes a difference. For example, suppose you decide not to use plastic in your house, that’s a change. It will reduce the helplessness you feel.

Please note: While tapping on repetitive ongoing stressors, you may feel immediate relief but it may not last. Tap regularly and take up any new aspects that come up.

EFT research recommendation by NICE (UK Government Body)

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) issued a set of guidelines for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The guidelines are for, “recognising, assessing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children, young people and adults.” (NICE, 2018)

NICE PTSD guidelines include a research recommendation for EFT. For the first time a government agency has deemed EFT worthy of research, which is a huge success for EFT.

The following excerpt is from NICE’s website:

The committee decided to make a research recommendation for emotional freedom technique (EFT), which is one of the two combined somatic and cognitive therapies considered in the guideline (the other one being thought field therapy TFT). EFT was selected for a research recommendation as it showed a considerably larger effect size than TFT in comparisons with nonactive controls in pairwise meta-analysis.

To find out why the committee made the research recommendation on EFT,  see appendix L of evidence review D: psychological, psychosocial and other non-pharmacological interventions for the treatment of PTSD in adults.

References:

AAMET Newsletter, Dec 5, 2018

NICE website: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng116/evidence

Shower exercise to Connect with your Body

WHAT IS TRAUMA?

When a situation exceeds the person’s ability to cope with it, and he/she feels helpless and unable to escape, then it results in trauma. It’s said that trauma does not lie in the event but in the response to that event.

WHAT IS DISSOCIATION?

Dissociation, in other words disconnection from the feelings and body, is a way to escape the inescapable. It is a mode of survival. Trauma and dissociation go hand in hand; when the trauma is over, the person can still be dissociated from that incident. According to Dr. Scaer, “Our brain is strongly wired to protect us from life threats through a series of message systems in the limbic brain that allow us to assess danger and then institute a self-preservation response.” Dissociation is a form of self-preservation response.

If you’ve been through trauma and your body initiated a survival response, dissociation, to cope with the trauma, then you’ll habitually disconnect from your body. However, even if we aren’t dissociated, we have a tendency to disconnect from our bodies. We’re in our minds most of the time, hardly in our bodies.

Here’s a simple and gentle exercise to bring your awareness back to your body. This exercise is by Peter Levine and outlined in his book, In an Unspoken Voice.

In his words,

Take a gentle pulsating shower in the following way – at a comfortable temperature, expose your body to the pulsing water. Direct your awareness into the region in your body where the rhythmical stimulation is focused. Let your consciousness move to each part of your body.

Try to include each part of your body  and pay attention to the sensation in each area, even if it feels blank, numb, or uncomfortable. While you are doing this say, “ this is my arm, head neck, etc “ “i welcome you back”

You can also do this exercise by gently tapping some parts of your body with fingertips.

When done over time this exercise will re-establish awareness of your body boundary through awakening skin sensations.

Youtube Live Series

I have started a Youtube Live series on EFT for Physical Issues.

The first part was aired today and the replay will be available for the next 4 days.


The second part will be aired next week, and the third in Dec.

Every month I will be making Live presentations on Youtube on topics related to emotional and physical health.

Sign up to be notified every month.

Empty the Barrel

Have you ever felt that even though you’ve weathered the toughest crises in the past, now even a small problem makes you feel like you’re losing control and you can’t take it anymore? That’s because your barrel is full. You cannot pile on more things on your system otherwise it will break down. This is what burn out looks like.

The full barrel effect refers to how when the immune system becomes overburdened and the body is full to its capacity of fighting pathogens and stress, you get autoimmune conditions where the body attacks itself.

“As long as your barrel is less than full, however, your immune system is still able to deal with what it confronts every day. But once the immune system becomes overburdened and that barrel fills to capacity it can begin to misread signals, causing the immune system to make costly mistakes and attack the body itself.”( Nakazawa, 2008)

So empty your barrel. You need to release the stress, let go of the adverse experiences and the stuck emotions that are keeping your barrel full. Once you start emptying the barrel, you will have more space in your body and mind to deal with new stressors. If your system is full of stress, then you don’t have any mental capacity to deal with new stuff, and anything new, no matter how small, can cause a breakdown.

 

Read more on the barrel effect here:

https://donnajacksonnakazawa.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/the-barrel-effect-or-its-the-last-straw-that-breaks-the-camels-back/

 

 

Intrusive thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are repetitive, anxiety provoking, and pretty frustrating. They make you feel as if you aren’t in control. They can cause a lot of anxiety, shame and fear. It is important to understand what these thoughts are and what they aren’t.

This video explains negativity bias – our mind’s tendency to think negative, how these repetitive thoughts can make us anxious, why they come and how to understand and handle them better.

 

GENERIC TAP ALONG

This is a generic tap along video to help you decrease the frequency of intrusive thoughts. Remember to note down specific aspects from this video that apply to you, and tap on them individually.