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Culture Tip: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Culture Tip: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

This week's Culture Tip is the first, and may possibly be the last, to incite in me an urgent need to increase dental flossing. Joshua Ferris’s new novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour follows anti-hero, Paul O’Rourke, who is a Red Sox fan, an avowed atheist and an acclaimed New York dentist with a thriving practice. He is a man who cares deeply about oral hygiene and his pain at his patients’ dental deterioration is palpable. He is impotent in the face of a prolific alter ego who, it seems, might just be a kinder, nicer and far from agnostic him. Paul...
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Therapy and Cultural Difference

Therapy and Cultural Difference

London is a very multi-cultural place and so cultural identity is an important consideration when choosing a therapist. But what is culture? Some people think that cultural difference is about coming from a faraway country or belonging to an ethnic minority group. In reality, culture is so ubiquitous that even therapy has its own culture; in fact one that, for many people new to it, is shocking to start with. For example, sitting in a room with a stranger, sometimes in silence, sometimes talking about some very difficult feelings, is an alien culture for somebody who...
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How to Gain Power From Misfortune

How to Gain Power From Misfortune

This obstacle in front of you —this frustrating, unfortunate, problematic, unexpected problem preventing you from doing what you want to do. How do you tackle it? What do you do? Probably what most people would do, and what you are doing right now: nothing. Whatever our individual goals, most of us sit frozen before the many obstacles that lie ahead of us. But what blocks us? Systemic issues of rising unemployment, skyrocketing costs of education, and technological disruption? Or personal insecurities of being too old, too scared, too poor, too stressed, no access, no...
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Bamboo Massage

Bamboo Massage

What does it treat? Hot stone massage is now a staple treatment in spas; we love the penetrating warmth that eases out tension from our muscles. Bamboo massage follows the same principle; warmed bamboo sticks of various diameters are used to roll, knead and relax muscles. It is brilliant for: Muscle tension Circulation problems Deep relaxation What is a session like? The therapist will ask you questions about your health, life style and general wellbeing to make sure the treatment is safe and...
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Why I Left My Enchanted Cage

Why I Left My Enchanted Cage

I am standing on a bench in the Green Dragon and waving a black handbag. You have to guess what three designer items I am wearing, I say. Everyone laughs as they look at my wintry gear: yak jumper, cashmere jumper, alpaca coat, zigzaggy pony skin belt. We’re at a Green Drinks night in a free house in a small market town called Bungay in Suffolk. It’s a monthly event in which my local Transition Initiative, Sustainable Bungay, discusses environmental issues within a frame of social change. Tonight I’m the ‘expert conversationalist’ and the topic is Give and Take...
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How to Surrender to Uncertainty

How to Surrender to Uncertainty

Surrender is a positive, healthy state. Being a surrendered person does not mean one is beaten down and so hopeless he or she has "given up." It's quite the contrary. Surrender is a state of living in the flow, trusting what is, and being open to serendipity and surprises. As I write in The Ecstasy of Surrender, adopting the behaviors and habits of surrendered people helps us improve our relationships, feel love and gratitude, get healthier, give up destructive people and behavior patterns, and become more successful and influential in our lives and careers. And...
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Middle-Aged Women: Ignored or Liberated?

Middle-Aged Women: Ignored or Liberated?

I do not know any woman who has not felt discomfort negotiating the shift from young to not young.  Such difficulty does not stem from superficial vanity; it registers the changed social meanings women encounter as they become middle-aged. The brilliant writer and critic Carolyne Heilbrun was the first to point out that women, once they entered midlife, were considered story less.  Past the age in which they might drive the plot of a standard romantic narrative, they disappeared with a few words into settled, fixed characters, to whom nothing interesting would...
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Online Dating - the Secrets to Success

Online Dating - the Secrets to Success

I'm a huge fan of online dating. I have several friends and many clients who have found love that way. And when it works, it works well; a recent study suggests that couples who meet online are more likely to move successfully through the infamous 'seven year breakpoint' than couples who meet in traditional ways. But online dating is often challenging. For many, the journey, however hopefully started, often becomes a yo-yo of frustration and self-doubt as well as excitement and hope. In my work I've come to recognise 'online dating disillusionment' when I see...
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Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy Massage

What does it treat? A standard treatment in most spas and complementary health centres, aromatherapy is often thought of as a gentle massage with a pleasant smell. In fact the precise choice of specific oils is more akin to herbalism and treats a surprising range of issues. For example, oils can be effective for treating: Arthritis IBS Hormonal conditions Cancer The immune system Emotional well-being Stress related conditions Skin conditions What is a session like? The...
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Self Protection: A Therapist's Guide

Self Protection: A Therapist's Guide

I often get asked about how I can listen to my client's distress all week without crumpling with exhaustion or getting distressed myself. I tend to give a short answer so as not to put people off asking me anything ever again, something like, “My training involves learning to protect myself/ I make sure to have plenty of supervision”. But there's a much better, longer answer that involves re-calibrating how I empathise in order to ensure my own self protection. Supervision is part of the self-care necessary for any therapist, but it is also an ethical requirement....
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