Goodbye, Dr Nocebo

02/04/2014 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments
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Blossom believed blog

Easter, three years ago. My teenaged son, Tim, is still convalescing after a critical illness in Florida. We are now back in England, and he has caught a new chest infection. He goes to hospital where he is put on intravenous antibiotics. I stay with him. It’s not really possible to leave Tim on his own, because he has complex learning difficulties and other people don’t understand him.

So we are sitting in the hospital, day after day, and nothing much seems to be happening. Tim’s not getting worse, but he’s not getting better either. Some days I don’t even spot a doctor. Tim is scarcely eating, so I ask to see a nutritionist, but am told that all the paediatric ones are away. After a couple of days, an adult one materializes and gives me some food supplements. I am grateful for those, but surprised that I had to work so hard to get them. Surely this is the sort of thing that Tim’s doctor should pick up on?

To be fair, there are some very good nurses around, and a lovely school teacher. But apart from them, the atmosphere seems lacklustre. I can’t help comparing it with the medical team that saved Tim’s life in Florida. They seemed full of energy and a belief in their skills and medicine. They didn’t think Tim would pull through, but they did everything in their power to help him, and were thrilled when he made it.

Here, in contrast, it feels as though Tim has been somehow written off.

One morning a doctor comes into Tim’s ward. It wouldn’t be fair to give his real name, so I shall call him Doctor Nocebo.

Absolutely, the name is symbolic.

Nocebo effect: when a person in a position of authority, such as a doctor, leads a patient to believe that they are going to get worse. This negatively harnesses the patient’s own unconscious power to alter health outcomes. If the patient believes the doctor, the nocebo prediction can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The opposite of the nocebo effect is the better-known placebo effect: the body’s innate ability to heal itself when it believes it can. Drug trials have to take the placebo effect into account because a high percentage of people get better when they believe in an imaginary medicine.

Dr Nocebo is accompanied by a handful of medical students.

While they look on, he gives Tim a cursory examination. He notices Tim’s physical disabilities: his very pronounced spinal curvature, his tendency to lie still while he’s ill.

Then he turns to me and tells me, in graphic detail, how Tim will get more and more chest infections and they will become more and more frequent. And he will die – the implication is sooner rather than later.

As he talks, I feel faint. There is something inhuman about the way Dr Nocebo is delivering this news. It almost feels as though he is showing off his power in front of his students.

That evening, I go to a small parents’ bedroom near the ward. I get into bed. I lie there, in the dark, and worry about Tim’s slow rate of recovery.

And then it happens. I hear a voice: loudly, insistently, inside my mind.

“Suzanne,” it says. That’s all. But accompanying my name comes all sorts of information. It’s a full conversation, delivered in one word.

I realize straight away that I have fallen prey to the nocebo effect on my son’s behalf. I have been picturing Tim getting more and more poorly. I have believed Doctor Nocebo’s words.

I now have an urgent job to do. I must visualize my son well. And I must keep doing it.

The actual visualization comes with great ease. It is as if someone is leading me through it.

First I picture, in great detail, that I am standing in beautiful countryside. There are fruit trees in blossom all around. In front of me is a healing temple. I walk up 10 steps, and enter the temple. I go to the reception desk, and sign in. I am given a special healing disc to wear around my neck, over my heart.

I walk across the light and airy atrium, to the healing centre of the temple. There, I take a seat. In front of me is a shimmering space. I picture Tim in the space, receiving all the healing he requires. Before my eyes, he becomes well and strong.

I leave the temple, still wearing the disc.

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The next day, Tim’s dad Steven is the lucky one who gets to see Dr Nocebo. The doctor of doom duly gives Steven the same talk he gave me: your son will soon die, etc.

Steven, being the practical one, asks: “Yes, but what about exercise? Won’t that help?”

Steven is fully aware that Tim normally does lots of physiotherapy and yoga. Dr Nocebo just sees a pale and poorly disabled child. He has no idea that when Tim is well he can be pretty active. He can, for example, stand up on one leg, with support, and do the Tree position in yoga.

Take that, Dr Nocebo!

“Oh yes,” said Dr Nocebo, surprised. “Yes, that could help.”

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In my imagination, I return to the temple once a day. Each time, I first go to the reception desk. The healing disc I wear over my heart is checked. Each time it is black and smoky with negative energy. It feels polluted. So I hand it in and receive a new one. And then I go to the healing area in the centre of the temple, and picture Tim strong and well.

In real life, Tim does get better, and we leave hospital. But even at home, whenever I feel the need, I continue to visit the healing temple, in my imagination, on his behalf.

I notice, on my visits, that the healing discs aren’t getting so polluted. Then, on one visit, I am given a special, permanent healing disc to wear. People gather round to congratulate me. I realize that I have graduated to a new level. This new disc is gold and iridescent. It will stay naturally clean of negative pollution. However, I will still get it checked at the reception desk from time to time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Soon after Tim’s encounter with Dr Nocebo, I realize that there is just one more thing to do: we need to change hospitals. So I arrange for Tim’s care to be transferred to a newer and better hospital. We don’t get to see the new consultant for 18 months though. There is no need. Despite his disabilities, Tim enjoys a period of excellent health.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Unfortunately, Dr Nocebo has many cousins, all equally negative and miserable. So if you happen to encounter one of them, remember this: when Dr (or Mr or Ms) Nocebo talks negative, it’s up to you to visualize positive.

Blossom believed blog 2

 

 

 

A walk to the compost

02/08/2013 at 10:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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It’s time to take the peelings out, to the compost bin at the end of the garden. My body is weary. It’s the end of such a busy day. In the kitchen, I pick up the dark green caddy. It’s full of richly odorous vegetation.

At this moment right now, I have two choices. I can do this task resentfully, feeling my tiredness every step of the way. Or I can choose to enjoy the experience, choose to be fully present and notice my short walk to the compost bin with all my senses.

Today, I choose to be present.

I step barefoot into the yard. Above me, I hear the tall poplars whispering in the breeze. I feel the warmth of stone beneath my feet, a spa-like sensation. Then, I step onto cool lush grass. The soles of my feet are thrilled. It feels like ancient reflexology for body and soul. My tiredness has vanished – so fast!

I walk by small trees laden with young apples, bursting with life and vitality.

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Beyond, on the hill, I see cows grazing in the sunlight. Image

I reach the compost bin. I tip the contents of the green kitchen caddy into it: onion and garlic peelings tumble with tomato stalks and marshmallow leaves into the pungent abyss below. The odour of vegetation returning to nature is unmistakable. In a year’s time, it will all be rich, brown earth.

And then I turn back, treading over that lush, cool green grass, my bare feet still revelling in the sensation. I look skywards, at towering clouds just masking the sun. My daughter, as a small child, used to say that unicorns played in the white cloud light of the evening sun. I can and do imagine them there, invisible in the brightness.

Can you see them?

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That, then was my walk to the compost. It could have been awful. It was idyllic. The choice was only ever mine to make.

What choices did you make today?

What did you do today?

07/07/2013 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Happiness, Inspiration, Nature, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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Yarrow“What did you do today?”

I breathed. I lived. I put my bare feet on the earth.

“Yes, but what did you do?”

I’ve just told you what I did.

“What else did you do?”

I had a laugh with ones I love. I ate almonds under a wild cherry tree. I breathed the sweet scent of a pure white rose.

“Sounds nice. Anything else?”

Yes, now that you come to mention it, I gathered yarrow under a cloudless sky. I touched a silver birch whose leaves were shimmering in the breeze. And I watched the red sun go down, while a handsome man held me close…

That’s what I did today. And what about you; what did you do? Don’t tell me the stuff you didn’t really care about. Tell me what mattered to you.

Quick psychic sweep

26/04/2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in Healing, Intuition, Meditation, Wellbeing | 4 Comments
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Dear Intuitive

You asked me for a quick protective exercise that I often use and recommend. I have pleasure in enclosing it here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Imagine yourself standing inside a big golden egg of light – this is your own energy field, or aura. The golden egg is the border of your energy field. At the top of the egg is an opening. You can open and close this at your will, and it connects you to the All That Is.

Imagine that the surface of the golden egg is strong and protective. If any parts of it seems a bit thin or frayed or tattered, let more golden white light from the All That Is  heal those places and firm them up.

Now imagine again that you are standing in the centre of your energy egg. You are holding a big, effective broom. The brush is so wide is comfortably reaches into every part of your energy field in one big sweeping motion. Start at the top, and sweep down one side. The brush sweeps a good half of the egg as it does so. Continue the sweeping movement below your feet and up the other side of the egg. The brush sweeps over that entire half of the egg as it does so.

Finish with the brush at the top. With a quick, firm, flicking movement, send any debris – anything that doesn’t belong in your energy field – out into the All That Is, which is fully capable of handling it. Repeat the entire sweeping movement once or twice if you choose, just to make sure that your energy field is totally clean and clear.

Then, imagine beautiful pure white light coming in from the All That Is. See or sense it filling your energy field completely. Enjoy the sensation.

Finally, close the opening at the top of the egg just slightly, knowing that you can open and close it at will.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The whole exercise can be done in under a minute. It’s particularly helpful for those times when you feel that someone has hitched a ride, psychically speaking, in your energy field. It happens. Remember this: your space is your space. Boundaries matter. You get to choose who enters your space, and if they do so, it’s on your terms.

With love and happiness

Suzanne x

The healing power of swimming

16/03/2013 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Exercise, Happiness, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 5 Comments
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WaterA few days ago I went back to my local pool after a long absence. As I glided through the water, reflections of blue sky danced over the surface. I could feel myself relaxing, letting the water support me. And I remembered the joy of swimming.

We know that water can be kind to the human body: whatever the level of fitness, water provides a small but significant resistance that increases the overall benefit.

Less talked about, it does something equally interesting to the psyche: it connects us an earlier, more aquatic stage of life: the womb… and even, more distantly, our evolutionary past.

When I am in water, I feel different. The hard angular surfaces of modern life give way to a fluid world in which I feel safe, held, and simply more inclined to go with the flow. There is something inherently fun about the experience, and I feel zingy and cleansed.

As I swam, I started an internal chant, and this is how it went:

“I am beautiful… I am one… I am beautiful”… I am one…”

Each phrase corresponded to a swimming stroke. When I reached the end of the pool and turned around, the chant had become: “I am beautiful… I am two… I am beautiful… I am two…”

With each new length, the number went up. I was counting lengths, and throwing in an affirmation too.

And then I realized I was actually imagining myself at the age of one, two, and so on. Not only that, I was feeling the dominant emotions of that age, in connection with beauty and self-worth. As I continued to swim up and down the pool, the happy self-belief of young childhood gave way to the huge, wobbly uncertainty of my teens, and a growing feeling of confidence in adulthood. As I remembered sad times, it felt as though the water was washing the pain away.

Effectively, I was healing each stage of my life’s journey with the help of water, and affirmations. My adult self was sending love and support back through the years to all my younger selves who were still there, it seemed to me, in the memories held within my body. The process felt deeply restorative and I recommend it to you.

Next time you’re in the pool, you might like to affirm “I am beautiful… I am one” and so on, all the way through your teens, twenties – all the way up to your present age. You can spread the exercise over more than one swim session, if you choose. But when you have swum a length for every year you’ve lived, you can start all over again with a new word. “I am strong”, and “I am well” both have great healing potential. What affirmation would you choose?

Thankful, optimism, support

01/02/2013 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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purseThis is a special bag: a beaded evening purse; handed down through the generations of my family. My mother gave it to me one day last December.

I typed out a list of positive, uplifting words, and printed several copies on card, then cut them up and popped them in the bag. During the Solstice, I invited many people, upwards of 80, to take a word out of the bag and keep it with them as guidance for the year ahead.

During the Solstice get-togethers I drew a total of  three words for myself: ‘Thankful’, ‘Optimism’ and ‘Support’. I looked at them, felt their specialness, then put them down and forgot about them.

January came, with snows, then wind and rain. There were winter bugs in my household, which meant I didn’t get to the gym, or go walking, or swimming. I reduced my daily yoga… gradually, imperceptibly, I was putting my wellbeing on hold. This is never a good idea, I know. But still, it happened.

And then, just yesterday, I found my three words once more: ‘Thankful’, ‘Support’ and ‘Optimism’. I hugged them like old friends. How could I have forgotten them?  The truth is, I need those words every day. Each word is a tiny, effective dose of wellbeing.

If you would like me to draw a word for you out of the bag, just ask, and I’ll be happy to send you your own little dose of wellbeing.

The real meaning of home

28/09/2012 at 3:02 pm | Posted in Happiness, Meditation, Nature, Wellbeing | 12 Comments
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In our distant nomadic past, home was where we settled for the night: it was shelter, a place we lay down – a place of rest. Recently, on the West Coast of Scotland, I came across a perfect example of home at its simplest. This stone outcrop at Sand provided shelter for our ancestors nearly 10,000 years ago. It was their bedroom, and also their kitchen: there is evidence that they collected limpets from the sea shore and boiled them up in water before eating them.

My daughter led me up and onto the roof of the shelter. “There’s a place I’ve got to show you,” she said. “You’re going to love it; it’s really special.” And she was right. On the heather-clad roof there were several broad stones: slabs of natural paving. One, in particular, was a perfect meditation seat. It was easy to sit there, gaze out to sea and  simply let your thoughts drift into that in-between place – the other realm.

When I did so, I found myself talking to the inhabitants of that time. We weren’t using words, exactly, but we were communicating. To my surprise, I found they were admiring my build: the fact that compared with them I looked immensely well fed. I was aware of their lightness and slimness and superb fitness, and found myself wishing that I exercised more.

Self-acceptance

They were surprised at my lack of self-acceptance on this matter. They reminded me of the goodness of Mother Earth, or the Mother as they called her. She provided what we needed, and it made no sense to disparage her gifts. Abundance was a blessing. Each of us was a creation of the Mother. Each of us was divine. How could we criticise ourselves in that context? Criticism was utterly meaningless.

I actually had the sense they were laughing at me, as if I were a child who didn’t quite understand. And yet there was also respect. It was as if they saw wisdom in me, as I saw wisdom in them. And the wisdom wasn’t individual wisdom; it was collective. We all shared knowledge… and this knowledge was infinite awareness.

And then I understood the true meaning of home. It is unconditional love, and it is acceptance. When you are at home – truly at home –  you are loved, you are accepted. During the many times we find ourselves on our own, we can still feel unconditional love and acceptance towards ourselves. And when we are with others – however distant in terms of culture, or the passage of time – we can feel that exact same connection. As I did on that rock.

Down below, a car horn was sounding. I was being summoned back to the 21st Century. I clambered down the heather slopes, sea breeze in my hair, aware that the bliss I was feeling is our natural birthright.

It’s your birthright; it truly is.

This moment now

30/07/2012 at 10:25 am | Posted in Happiness, Meditation, Nature, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 1 Comment
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This moment now is all we ever have, but it’s enough, because it’s everything.

Have a magical day.

Happiness is being open

27/07/2012 at 6:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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This week has been all about happiness: pure happiness. My meditation groups have been focusing on the word – they have breathed in “I am”, and breathed out “happiness”. Then, just this morning, I recorded a ‘Happiness’ guided meditation, which I will send out to people when they book a place on my September Intuitive Development course.

One of my favourite intuitive insights from a week of happiness is this: the opposite of happiness is control. 

“Surely the opposite of happiness is unhappiness?” pointed out one guy in a group session.

That’s true, of course. However, consider the happiness levels of a young child. They are not especially in control of their lives. But in any given moment, a child can find happiness in playing with absolutely anything that comes his or her way, whether it be a twig, some earth, or a bowl of water (or even better, all three together).

Consider, in contrast, the last time you organised a fun event, like a party. Did you freely enjoy it, or did you spend a portion of your time worrying about everything that might go wrong?

When we try to control how things will turn out, that’s where unhappiness lies. In contrast, when we open up to life and accept surprises along the way, that’s when we experience happiness.

So after a week of focusing on happiness, have my happiness levels risen? Definitely, by around 100%. There’s been less rushing, and more enjoying the moment. If you haven’t done this already, I warmly recommend it: sit somewhere quietly for 20 minutes or half an hour. Breathe in “I am”, and breathe out “happiness”. And just see where the word takes you.

Easter and the Goddess of Dawn

09/04/2012 at 11:42 am | Posted in Happiness, Nature, Wellbeing | 2 Comments
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Easter comes from the Goddess of Dawn.

Look beneath any festival and you will find simple truths about people and our planet. Easter is a great example of this. The word ‘Easter’ is a variant of ‘east’, the direction in which the sun rises at dawn.

The word has ancient roots in the seed language known as Proto-Indo-European. The original word, ‘aus’, or ‘austre’ meant ‘to shine’, particularly at dawn. It was personified in early Europe as Austron or Eostre, the goddess of spring, fertility and the rising sun. Her festival was the Spring Equinox, that time between the shortest and longest days, which heralded the beginning of the all-important growing season.The changing seasonal cycle as we journey around the sun is more important to us than our mechanised lives reveal. But beneath the confusion of 21st century timetables, our bodies still respond to the longer days of sunlight in basic ways that haven’t changed since life emerged on the planet.

We absolutely take pleasure in the new life that is around at this time, and within us ideas that were incubating over winter begin to take on real life. What does this year mean to you? What are you beginning to achieve in terms of your own self-development? This is a good time to be aware that Eostre, the Goddess of Dawn, is an archetypal force in you that is driving you towards summer and the fruitation of your hopes and dreams.

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