Newsletter December 2019 Breathing, the gut biome and new feathers
24th December 2019
Newsletter December 2019
Breathing, the gut biome and new feathers
“Perhaps these days of less sunlight are opportunities for more contemplative time, more looking deeply to see what perhaps can only be seen in the dark.” Sylvia Boorstein
I hope this lines find you all well and in not too hectic preparations for the festive season and the change into the New Year. I am spending the holidays first with family and old friends in my hometown Frankfurt and then with my partner for a week somewhere in Wales to snuggle with the dog in front of an iron woodstove.
So here are my last contemplations of the year, a year not without struggles but I remember most many positive moments both in my professional and private life. It feels that some seeds planted earlier are beginning to grow roots and fruits.
Breathing. The connection between soul and body. Tibetan Buddhism claims that the amounts of breaths we take in our lifetimes are counted. Most meditation and mindfulness techniques center on the breath and even though breathing is mostly automatic and unconscious, unlike other automatic physical functions we can consciously alter and influence our breathing patterns. But many of us often breathe improper, too shallow, too fast, which is affecting both our physical and mental wellbeing. I mentioned here earlier that I’ve been practicing for a year now as one of my daily routines an exercise known as “Wim Hof Method”, which is claiming, together with cold exposure and meditation, to influence both the autonomic nervous system and the body’s immune response. A similar succession of hyper- and hypo-ventilating is also endorsed by others here and here and has origins in ancient eastern Ayurveda and yogi traditions, and has been supported recently by scientific research.
And although I’ve only recently picked up on cold exposure (a daily 2-minute cold shower and the occasional dip in the river) it feels effective and empowering as both intermittend breathing and even intermittent fasting does – exercising body and mind through temporary stimulation and stress.
Done without any further preparation by lying down (I usually do this right after waking up) it is important to know that you might “pass out” at times, as it happens to me for some moments quite regularly – so don’t ever try this in water or when driving a car. Also, as a word of precaution, people with asthma, severe bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD or other respiratory problems would be well advised to check with their GP before starting these exercises.
One takes a certain amount of deep breaths (from 20 to 70, see audio links below) and then hold the breath after an out-breath (with empty lungs) for up to 3.5 minutes, in the beginning or on a bad day more like 2 minutes.
For me this works by trying to completely relax, in particular letting the brain rest – the more I mentally go through my shopping list or generally engage in thinking the shorter I can hold my breath. These days I usually listen to this shorter or this longer audio guide to skip the counting.
I’ve been recommending and sharing this exercises with friends and clients (we’ve had little breathing parties on the lawn last summer) and I would consider it an excellent “shortcut” into meditation because one can physically endorse to quiten the mind.
As Wim Hof states: you are getting high on your own supply – well, he’s Dutch, isn’t he. On a more serious note, my experiences are very encouraging. My challenge in life has always been raging emotions, the mental drama of my life, that regularly resulted for example in disrupted sleeping patterns. My way of dealing with these emotions has been and is for a few years now the practice of daily meditation, maybe a topic to explore further some other time here. The breathing exercises have had profound effects on my emotional state because they bring on a deep state of relaxation and calm and have a similarly powerful effect on me as the practice of meditation has. I haven’t experienced insomnia for some time now, and if I would have to point out one single most effective element of the various regimes and routines that are part of my daily life, I would probable put the breathing first. So: Breathe in, breathe out!
As mentioned in my last newsletter my interest in nutritional health has let me to meet an experienced and very knowledgable nutritional therapist, Sue Thomas. She has created a 21-day detoxification program that cleanses and rebalances your gut biome. This complex system of bacteria, fungi and microflora resides primarily in your gut and impacts literally every system in your body. If you are suffering from lack of focus or motivation, fatique, IBS, leaky gut, heartburn, bloating, weight problems, menopausal/hormonal imbalances or sleeping disorders this combination of strict dieting (no coffee, refined sugars, alcohol, processed food, “easy” carbs) and nutritional supplements will shift things in the right direction. I’ve gone through a “test run” in October before recommending it to you and my clients, and even though I don’t really suffer from any of the above conditions and my diet is pretty close to the recommended one anyway, I too experienced nothing short of a miracle: I’ve intuitively overcome my addiction to coffee, “the last vice” and those of you that know me, I was “Mr.Coffee” himself (writing this my mother I’m staying with for 5 days tells me that she had bought 200 capsules of coffee in anticipation of my visit, I had forgotten to tell her). Now in January Sue and I are offering this program, Pure21, as introductory offer for the price of the supplements only (£200) to the first five participants signing on, 2 spaces are still available.
This year has been, and still is, a year of learning new skills, adding some more feathers to my boa: Apart from the massage course on lower back and sciatica I mentioned earlier I’ve completed an online course on geriatric massage and a 30hour course qualifying for treating people with cancer. Statistically every other person in the western world will be diagnosed with cancer once in their life, for many a wake up call for a more intimate relationship to their bodies. Usually a contraindication for most complimentary therapists we’ve had to send these people away without a written consent from a GP at a time they needed us most, so this has been close to my heart.
As always one thing leads to another; Angela Green, a reflexologist and the teacher of that course, showed us a few tricks of her trade, which literally shook my world. Reflexology feels like the link between my spiritual practice (Reiki/Meditation) and my physical work and interest (physiology based massage therapy/nutrition), even though both is highly interconnected without clear boundaries. And as if made for me a course in Bath came up and I signed on to it. More than any other therapy I’ve been receiving in the past reflexology has provoked unusually strong physical and mental reactions in me. The good news for all of you is that I will need 100 hours of case studies done until May, so if you are interested in trying out one or several reflexology treatments for free (or the price of renting a room if needed) please be in touch.
I’ve finally incorporated an online booking system, which shows my availibilties. Bookings in The Bath Practice still have to be confirmed since I’m booking the room there on demand.
And finally, if you are still short of a sensible last minute Christmas present to yourself or someone you care about, you can order a massage voucher with me by mail and it should be with you in time to put under your Christmas tree.
Wishing you all a relaxing holiday time and much abundance, gratitude and humility in the New Year 2020.
“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” Rumi