What would I say to my younger self...?
This video really made me think - for myself, and the young clients who come to see me. I was incredibly self conscious as a young teen, right up into my early twenties. What I’d say to my young self is: “Life is supposed to be fun, enjoy...!”
As a mind management coach and clinical hypnotherapist I work with adults and children as young as nine – helping them with various issues that concern them.
Children inevitably get their confidence knocked – at school; their peers; a best friend; a flippant remark by someone they admire and love; a bully…
I recently completed working with an 11 year old girl and this is what her mother, Katherine, had to say: “Following several months of being bullied at school and several more of refusing to discuss it, I bought my daughter to Irena. On the way back from the first visit she thanked me for taking her. Already she was starting to open up and there were glimpse's of the cheerful child we knew and loved. Several visits later and our bouncy, confident child has returned. Irena has helped her deal with what has happened and given her tools to deal with situations which will be useful to her all her life. Thank you so much Irena, it's such a relief to have her back with so much joie de vivre!"
One of my aims is to run well-being programmes in schools (I already run mind management courses within companies). To teach children and young adults mind tools to help them throughout life is incredibly rewarding and important.
Anxiety is a huge problem for many of us. We don’t choose to be anxious – it’s a learnt habit – however we can unlearn with practice, knowing the right techniques. I introduce a tool called our “anxiety switch”. One way (there are other methods, depending on the person) is to visualise this switch - and our brain then goes from emotion to logic’.
Anxiety is created by our imaginative right brain. By ‘flicking that switch’ to logical left brain we cannot help but stop worrying. Why? Because the logical side of our brain reasons with our fears, and breaks the cycle.
For most of my clients I create a personalised ‘feel good’ audio to act as an aid. For some it’s on educational performance or sports performance, for others it’s to support weight loss and self belief, or a feel good audio for the morning, or to create restful sleep…
If you are interested in booking a session or would like a personalised audio, please email me on email@example.com
Our recent guests arrived in the warm sunshine, to a garden full of blossom. They were a couple who wanted to rebalance their lives and leave feeling positive and energised. Sally was recovering from chemotherapy and her husband Marc, from stress and anxiety.
Nina our in-house vegan chef collaborated with Rod to provide meals together that were suitable for very different needs. One evening for entrée we had 'bruschetta caviar d’aubergines served with cherries' followed by 'Poulet à la Chinoise' (bamboo sprouts, mushrooms, green beans, ginger, vegan steak, turmeric). For dessert we had one of Nina's specialities the 'Three Layered Mousse' (pineapple, chocolate and chestnuts). All food was organic and without dairy, gluten and refined sugar.
Each day I worked with my clients using a combination of hypnosis, counselling, mindfulness and NLP. Sally chose to take advantage of other therapies included, such as a facial and an aromatherapy massage. In the afternoons Sally and Marc travelled to nearby places such as Cordes-sur-Ciel, voted the ‘most popular French Village 2014’. Cordes-sur-Ciel is an architecturally stunning village perched on the top of a hill. Originally named “corte” meaning “rocky heights,” the village was later renamed “Cordes-sur-Ciel”, to indicate its height above the clouds over low-lying areas of the valley – as in a fairytale book!
I’ve been working away at a residential ‘camp’ in the Midi-Pyrénées, teaching English to 10 year old French kids.
Off I went filled with hope that not only will I achieve that specific goal however could also introduce mindfulness hypnosis and relaxation meditation as discussed with the project leaders. How wrong I was!
Not being a parent myself however many of my friends are, I am fully aware that the French educational system only focuses on academic ability. Creativity is simply not catered for and neither are children with dyslexia, dysphasia, dyspraxia…or any other ‘dys’ you’d like to think of. Of course some teachers will claim this is changing, and to some extent it is.
After a particularly tiring teaching session (for the children) I had 10 minutes to spare so thought I’d introduce some gentle ‘quiet time with a few words, music and breathing’.
Almost instantly every child in the room settled down, even the ‘disruptive’ ones. I was delighted as their school teachers were also in the room and I wanted them to see the benefits first hand.
Later that day one of their head teachers commented over lunch: “Irena I appreciate what you do, however what you did today was NOT a learning experience.” I was flabbergasted. Did she not observe the two boys who were refusing to do anything earlier suddenly go quiet, close their eyes and relax? Did she not notice how calmly each individual left the classroom, with one or two thanking me?
For the past four years the UK has been introducing well-being into schools. Unfortunately it's still a small minority of schools however thank goodness it is growing.
One of my goals is to encourage it in mainstream education, both in the UK and France - and into the workplace too.
I'm a certified practitioner in the Educational Performance Programme (EPP). This programme has been running successfully in UK schools for the past four years and is now being introduced into Australia, the USA and parts of Europe.
EPP is conducted in one hour sessions, run over three consecutive weeks. Either in small groups or one-to-one with individuals. It's designed to bring about a positive change to a student’s mindset, to give them a set of ‘mind management tools’ that can help them focus on success, instead of dwelling on negatives and failures.
Children from seven years upwards, including those at college and university, can benefit immensely simply by encouraging their creative skills to build confidence; to aid interaction with their peers; to focus more clearly; to ease exam stress and even enhance personal performance in sports, drama and music for example.
I've also found it an invaluable tool for children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. Helping them visualise alternative methods of storing and retrieving information, particularly when under stress.
Over 50% of lifetime mental disorders are diagnosed in childhood.
Just two minutes of mindfulness hypnosis can calm a class and boost attainment. It helps students:
Neuroscientists have found that long-term practice alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of both thought and feeling.
Many believe mindfulness and hypnotherapy similar but not connected. Mindfulness is focusing the conscious mind, while hypnosis focuses the subconscious. However by joining the different dimensions of mind, rather than separating, creates a powerful tool for enabling change on a physical, emotion and mental level.
Benefits for Children in terms of Learning:
Benefits for Children in terms of Health:
Benefits for Teachers and Busy people:
Click HERE for more information on EPP.
If you would like to discuss this further please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a callback time.
If you are a teacher or school and interested, please email me HERE
By Irena-Marie Makowska
Men, cancer and hot flushes...
Professor Green - "Things always change, as long as you give them the chance to"
I recently read this article by British rapper and singer-songwriter Professor Green and I wanted to share it with those who might not have had a chance to read it:
Men shouldn't suffer in silence with depression and anxiety. My dad killed himself and, having struggled with feelings myself, I want to make sure I deal with them properly. You should too.
I was 24 when my dad, Peter Manderson, took his own life. We had a troubled relationship and hadn't spoken to each other for about six years; for no real reason we just stopped. Then one day I got in touch to try and repair some of the damage. It was Boxing Day and we argued over the phone about where to meet. I got angry, and my dad, who was a gentle man, stammered and stuttered. The last words I said to him were: “If I ever see you again I’m going to knock you out.” It all seems so desperately trivial now.
The tragic last hours of Robin Williams’ life have been raked over in minute detail over the past week. Susan Schneider, his wife, has said he was battling depression and anxiety, as well as the early stages of Parkinson’s.
I still don’t know what was going through my dad’s mind when he killed himself in a park not far from where he lived in Brentwood, Essex, in April 2008. I’ll never know. The last time I saw him alive was my 18th birthday. He had been in and out of my life for years. I was brought up by my gran in Hackney, east London, because neither of my parents were capable of looking after me. I just wish that he could have reached out to someone, anyone.
The moment I found out my dad had killed himself is as clear today as it was when it happened. That morning I woke up with a sense of dread knowing that something was very wrong. My gran came into my room with tears in her eyes and said: “Stephen, your dad’s dead. He’s hanged himself.”
His death was a complete shock and it’s still a struggle to articulate how I felt. I went through so many emotions that day. At first I was angry with him for doing what he did. I kept thinking, how could he take himself away from me? Williams’ daughter Zelda said something similar about her dad: “I’ll never understand how he could be so loved and not find it in his heart to stay.”
I thought my dad was selfish for taking the easy way out. But then I quickly realised that I was the one who was being selfish for thinking he was selfish. For someone to be able to do that, I don’t think it is cowardice; it’s the only solution they think they have. The last thing I said to him kept replaying in my head – you have no idea how much I regret that the final words he heard from me were anger and hate. I would give anything to change that. I never got a chance to say a proper goodbye or tell him that I loved him.
Last year in Britain, almost 6,000 people killed themselves, leaving behind families struggling for answers. Men aged between 30 and 44 are most at risk. My dad was 43. I later found out that one of his brothers had killed himself two years before and that another brother, whom I am named after, is believed to have died after allowing himself to fall into a diabetic coma.
Communication is a big problem with us men. We don’t like to talk about our problems; we think it makes us look weak. There have been times when I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression. I even had cognitive behavioural therapy and although that didn’t work for me, I did find that talking about things to someone helped the problem seem smaller than it was in my head. It’s important to let things out and not bottle them up.
Society likes to tell you that you have to be happy all the time, and it’s easy to think that if you’re not happy then there’s something wrong with you. But happiness isn’t permanent, it’s not something you can feel all the time – and neither is sadness.
What happened to my dad and uncles makes me want to deal with things. As much as I love my dad, I don’t want to be the father to my child that he was to me. I wrote the song Lullaby about my experience of depression and how it has affected my life. The most important lyrics are the final two lines: “Things always change, as long as you give them the chance to.”
Know that is true. I just wish my dad did.
By Professor Green.
• If you feel you are experiencing any of the issues raised in this piece, in the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90, or you can visit samaritans.org. Likewise, Mind can be reached on 0300 123 3393, email@example.com or by texting 86463. It’s website is www.mind.org.uk. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
Irena-Marie Makowska @ focus-hypnotherapy.com or contact Irena-Marie on firstname.lastname@example.org
Irena-Marie Makowska is a Mind Coach, specialised in BrainWorking Recursive Therapy (BWRT®), Psychology of Identity and Behaviour; Clinical Hypnotherapy; Transformational Coaching and Mindfulness.