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Discovering Vedic Meditation

Discovering Vedic Meditation

It's early on a Thursday evening, and I'm standing alongside a man I have just met, Will Williams, in his smart Shad Thames apartment. We are in front of a photograph of Guru Dev, one of the masters of the Vedic tradition, and Will has his eyes closed while singing something in Sanskrit and offering the gifts I was encouraged to bring - three pieces of fruit, a bunch of thornless flowers - to the guru. As he sings, I steel a glance at Will. His eyes are closed, and he looks utterly serene. Will himself does not resemble what we in the west think of as a "guru". He is...
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How to Control Emotional Binge Eating

How to Control Emotional Binge Eating

Emotionally driven eating is common. I know that from the number of woman who share their experiences with me.  I also know because I once did it. But it's not only women who binge eat, and it can affect all ages.  When you live with emotionally driven compulsive  eating you can feel very alone, isolated with your behaviour, ashamed and invisible. It’s difficult to find the words or the right person to speak to. The guilty secret can eat away at self-esteem, because though it's often referred to as ‘comfort eating’ there  is nothing comforting about this behaviour. Not...
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"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

"Head in a Car Crusher": Understanding Autism

When I first started to work with people on the autistic spectrum, I was given a very bad piece of advice: because the brains of people with autism were damaged, one should not listen to what they had to say. The implication was that they had nothing useful to contribute. I repeat this now only because it highlights how completely our perspective on autism has been challenged and redirected by the autobiographical accounts of such courageous people as Temple Grandin, Donna Williams and many others, presenting us with the view from the inside. Starting as a...
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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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