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Tantric Trance

Tantric Trance

Think of the word ‘trance’ and you think of music, drug-fuelled dance and trippy raves off the M25 in the 80s. Think of the word tantric and you think of sex. Now put the two together and you have yourself a very alternative way to spend your time. It was with this in mind that I blindly followed my friend into a church in Vauxhall on Saturday night. The space was lit with flickering candle-light and the smell of incense was overwhelming.  Various free-spirits festooned the pews, stretching and deep breathing, as if preparing to embark on a marathon of mind, body and...
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Musical Meditation: Discovering LifeFlow

Musical Meditation: Discovering LifeFlow

A few months ago now, I came across an audio meditation practice called LifeFlow, the conjoining of the two words presumably designed to illustrate the effortless link that should exist within all of us in the ideal world we all wish to inhabit. "You can allow this scientifically proven audio technology to bring your whole life into perfect harmony and feel peace of mind today!" read the aggressively motivational website blurb, employing, as these things invariably do, a proliferation of exclamation marks in pursuit of blanket persuasion. "YES!" it went on in...
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Love Your Belly

Love Your Belly

Few of us feel love for our bellies. We squeeze them into Spanx pants or belt them up Clarkson-style; our bellies are viewed as wayward creatures that will embarrass us given half a chance. As Susie Orbach says in her book Bodies: “Bodies are becoming our personal mission to tame, extend and perfect.” The reality of our soft, fallible selves is regarded as out of control and unacceptable. However, tension in the belly is translated into tight tissues, which can inhibit the function of our digestion, our backs and our hormonal flow. Ninety percent of serotonin is...
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Coping with Painful Anniversaries

Coping with Painful Anniversaries

Anniversaries are generally considered to be celebrations, marking events, people, places and times that we have loved and enjoyed. They bring us into contact with memories we wish to retain and relive such as birthdays, graduations and weddings to name but a few. Anniversaries have a place the world over, in culture, religion, history and society. But what happens when anniversaries become difficult? In my work as a psychotherapist I have come to believe that the reason some anniversaries are difficult is two-fold. Firstly these anniversaries act as a type of...
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Yoga: Meditation for the Restless

Yoga: Meditation for the Restless

It was day two of the yoga retreat. We’d just sat for our second evening meditation, in the profound silence of a candlelit limestone cave, and we were sharing some thoughts about our experiences. Suddenly one of my fellow students, in some distress, burst out, “It’s no use! I’m trying and trying and I can’t do it.  I just can’t empty my mind!” Of all the misconceptions about meditation, this is one of the most common – and probably the most unhelpful. Of course the poor woman couldn’t empty her mind – it’s a contradiction in terms. ‘Mind’ is the word we use for...
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The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

So there I was, on a miserable February morning, watching the rain dribble down the windows of the Guardian offices at Kings Place, searching for stories for the feature pages, when I came upon a website belonging to an Australian palliative nurse who had written a fascinating survey. Bronnie Ware had asked her dying patients about their greatest regrets in life and had condensed their wisdom down to produce The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. I read it hungrily, for perspective, for comfort, as anyone would. The features editors weren’t interested in it for...
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Want to Know Yourself? Take Our Test

Want to Know Yourself? Take Our Test

“If I knew myself, I’d run away,” said Goethe, who, incidentally, was Freud’s favourite writer. You might imagine that knowing yourself would be one of the key goals of psychology.  Often it has not been, however. When I was young one of the most distinguished experimental psychologists of his generation Donald Broadbent told me students should realise it was an illusion that psychology would teach them to know themselves better. Perhaps that’s why a paper on Experiential Self Monitoring which I reported in 1980 made such an impression on me. It was given by E J...
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