Mindfulness in Exeter

I provide Mindfulness teaching and Reiki and Craniosacral therapy treatments for CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome eg ME, Long Covid etc), injury, pain, auto immune disorders, insomnia, anxiety, stress, trauma, grief, depression, fibromyalgia, and other conditions. I believe that self help and taking control of your own recovery or condition management can be extremely important and to this end will post information about treatments, tips and useful information. More information on Craniosacral Therapy can be found on my Craniosacral Therapy page  here or the Biodynamic Craniosacral Association Website here.

What does Fatigue Recovery look like?

Recovery from fatigue

What does Fatigue Recovery look like?

When you’re stuck deep in fatigue, it can be hard to imagine what recovery would look like and whether it’s possible. but having it in mind as a possibility is so helpful for recovery. As a specialist in treating fatigue conditions using Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki and Mindfulness teaching, I see lots of life changing turn arounds and wanted to share with you what recovery from fatigue can look like, I have changed the names for privacy...

Recovery from fatigue does not tend to happen overnight, usually there is a gradual improvement in resilience while we particularly work on one or two of the other symptoms, including brain fog and resolve held traumas which seem to give the long covid somewhere to ’ hook on’.

Jane was having trouble doing anything much at all beyond work and having to take lots of time off. She was suffering with the post exertional malaise quite strongly. At the start of the first session, she seemed very activated and frazzled. I was able to help her system calm down over the session and she slept better from that night and was calmer the next time I saw her. I then saw her every week or two weeks for a couple of months and then the sessions became less regular as she improved and her resilience improved until she said, full of regret, that she was so much better she couldn't justify coming anymore! She now pops back about once a year for a polish (1 session is enough), it seems to be when she has a virus the symptoms return a little. She now has quite a busy life teaching in further education and was very happy to be able to walk the dog again and jog.

I taught mindfulness online to Rebecca who was bedridden and very sensitive to electronic equipment, so we started with 30 minute sessions. After several meditation sessions, we started on mindful movement and she suddenly took off and the next time I saw her she was enrolled in an art class and able to have her daughter back to live with her. We both thought her ability to hold herself more compassionately was a big milestone.

I received a lovely email a couple of months ago from Freya after around 6 sessions..."..' Dancing ‘...was hugely refreshing and deeply moving. I had energy enough to dance the whole suite. I am so grateful to have found you.  I will contact you to arrange another session in a little while."  (She hasn't needed it yet!)

There are of course no guarantees and these techniques aren’t for everyone but I can't think of a fatigue client that has stuck at it for at least 6 sessions and not seen long term improvements.

Craniosacral Treatments for Long Covid

Craniosacral Therapy Treatments for Long Covid

Craniosacral Therapy treatments for Long Covid involve gentle touch to help the body’s natural equilibrium to be restored. Working on over activation of the nervous system, tension, inflammation, anxiety and fatigue can be very helpful.

As a new condition with over 200 reported symptoms main stream Long Covid Treatments are still in their infancy. Studies are still investigating whether the long-term continuation of symptoms is due to damage caused by the original virus, the body’s own immune response; if the original covid virus is still present in the body or if a secondary pathogen was able to gain a hold while the system was vulnerable. In fact more than one of these factors could be involved.

Often Long Covid has components similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is also discussed in my blog article ‘Craniosacral Therapy treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)’. The gentle resolution of trauma/stress etc and the associated tensions is usually very helpful in fatigue conditions, allowing the body’s equilibrium to reassert itself and replace cells that have been damaged. So addressing tensions and fatigue and encouraging deep relaxation is often very helpful. This can allow any underlying trauma to gently release and also recharge the ‘bodies batteries’. Clients often find they are sleeping better almost immediately. Tensions in the body can exacerbate any problems, reducing flow in blood vessels, nerves and cerebral spinal fluid.

Excessive inflammation is a key part of Covid/long Covid and can be widespread across many different systems/tissues of the body. Recent studies have shown that Covid can have a detrimental effect on cells, knocking out ATP2 receptors that are involved in hormonal balance and responsible for reducing inflammation. This is thought to be one reason why inflammation can be so prevalent and many women find their periods are more random during long covid.  Areas that are often affected in Long Covid are the cardiovascular system and lungs, although ATP2 receptors are found just about everywhere in the body and so everywhere can be affected, including in the nerves.

In the circulatory system as well as the inflammation of the vessels themselves, clotting of the blood cells has been shown. As this is combined with damage to cells in the vessel walls, transport of nutrients can be reduced and/or vessels can become leaky. This leakiness can have an effect on the balance of fluids in the interstitial spaces, counterintuitively making the structures less flexible, more crackly.

Using Craniosacral Therapy we can connect with different systems of the body to help reduce inflammation and promote flow, reduce tension and improve flexibility. Areas I regularly work on for Craniosacral Therapy treatments for Long Covid include the cardiovascular, nervous and respiratory systems and the flow of cerebral spinal fluid.

Sel, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway

Freedom through Craniosacral Therapy Treatments for CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Craniosacral Therapy Treatments for CFS

I regularly use Craniosacral Therapy treatments for CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), including clients with Long Covid. Clients normally report improvements even after the first treatment and are often sleeping better; although they usuall benefit from a series of sessions.

So how do Craniosacral Therapy treatments for CFS work? Part of the picture with CFS is that clients are stuck in a fight, flight or freeze response, unable to process traumas to the self. This might be due to a severe illness, stress, injury or an emotional occurrence (also see my blog article below 'Would it help to use Reiki or Craniosacral therapy treatments for CFS and pain' which explores the fight or fight response) .

Our bodies are animals even though if we don’t always treat them like they are and after a big shock/ stressful situation etc an animal will go somewhere safe to recover and often shake, releasing the shock. If we don’t allow this recovery time the trauma and related tensions and toxins can build up in the body, preventing the balance it can normally resolve for itself and causing health problems.

There are often components to do with having CFS that cause trauma. There is grief/loss involved with the reduction of what someone is able to do. Not everyone believes the condition is real and people can feel very unheard and abandoned. If there was a serious illness that initiated the condition (such as Covid), there may have been a trauma to do with fear of death.

Theories regarding causes of CFS include that there is a pathogen remaining in a reservoir, hidden in the body in a similar way to how Herpes hides in nerves. This might be the original virus that caused the illness, such as Covid or it might be a secondary pathogen such as the Epstein Barrs virus that was able to gain a footing while the host was debilitated with the primary pathogen (perhaps allowing the virus access to the nervous system due to damage by the primary pathogen). To address this possibility a study has been initiated at Exeter University to find the impact of strong antiviral medication on severe Long Covid sufferers.

Secondly it is suggested that during CFS the patient’s immune system is attacking the patient’s own body, an auto immune disorder.

Thirdly both of these conditions could exist at once, as the patient’s body tries to attack a pathogen that is hard to differentiate from its own cells, making main stream treatments for CFS complicated. If you use medication to impair the immune response this might allow a hidden pathogen to gain greater ground.

Auto immune conditions can be connected to stress and trauma and in my experience treating clients with CFS, it can have similarities to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have found that allowing the body to come out of fight/flight or freeze modes, releasing traumas and associated tensions and to reestablish the body’s own mechanisms for maintaining balance can be key parts of recovery.

Craniosacral Therapy Treatments for CFS uses gentle touch and an awareness of the body to allow any emotional or physical trauma, associated pain, tension and shock to release in a safe place so that the body’s natural equilibrium can be restored. I love to see client's lives develop so that they can feel free within them.

Health Related Anxiety 11th Dec 2023

Health Related Anxiety

Health related anxiety can be a major factor in quality of life and affect recovery. If you don't know how much you can get away with doing or how much you should be doing to build yourself back up there can be a constant juggling act and a constant fear of getting it wrong and suffering from a serious setback. The anxiety itself can often exacerbate the condition, with the body stuck in fight or flight or freeze mode as it's strategy for

Mindfulness, Reiki or Craniosacral Therapy treatments for health related anxiety can really help people come out of the body's stress reaction and help turn a corner into recovery. I love to teach clients ways to be more in touch with the needs of their body and techniques they can do at home to help improve their quality of life and allow what recovery is possible.

Could it help to use Reiki or Craniosacral therapy treatments for CFS and pain ( eg ME and Long Covid)? Plus tip on stimulating your own vagus nerve - Updated Jan 2024

Managing Stress

Sometimes people ask me if Reiki or Craniosacral Therapy Treatments will help their particular condition, so today I wanted to address, 'Could it help to use Reiki or Craniosacral therapy treatments for CFS and pain ( eg injury or ME or Long Covid...) and pain?' The short answer to this is yes and this has been backed up by research which I have summarised or signposted at the end of this article.

Also see my previous article below on resourcing and pacing, as they improve or work with the body's resilience. Both therapies help the body to relax and so allow the body's healing mechanisms to work more effectively.

In conditions involving chronic pain, nerves can be stuck on 'pain on' with too many nerve gateways open. This results in pain signals being sent continuously and the body becoming extra efficient at sending that signal, with parts of the brain changing to facilitate this. Techniques in Craniosacral Therapy can be used in order to close these gateways and allow the nerves and brain responses to begin normallizing.

The body's nervous system can be divided into two categories, the sympathetic and parasympathetic.

The entire sympathetic nervous system can be activated during moments of stress in the fight or flight response, as your body is readied to take action from some sort of threat. The adrenal gland pumps out epinephrine, along with other neural or hormonal responses. The heart beats faster, muscles and lungs are readied, even the eyes and hairs on the skin can be primed. Localised over-stressing of muscles or organs, chronic stress, depression and anxiety can result if this system is stimulated too much of the time or if the 'winding down' parasympathetic nervous system is not functioning correctly.

So the parasympathetic nervous system is important in winding down after a stressful event and reactivating the digestive system. This system primarily consistents of the vagus nerve and the spinal lumbar nerves. The vagus nerve (shown in the image above) is sometimes called the wanderer and visits much of the body de-activating the fight or flight response and bringing relaxation when stimulated. The vagus nerve can be intentionally stimulated during Craniosacral Therapy treatments or you can stimulate your own vagus nerve by placing one hand at the top back of your neck and one at the front, top of the chest (as the vagus nerve visits these two places). A high tech option to stimulate the vagus nerve was developed in 2013/2014 in order to fight depression and anxiety by a team of neuroscientists, doctors, ultrasound and computer software scientists, see the depression alliance.

We can also suffer from referred pain when something goes wrong in an area of the spine and this is causing pain elsewhere in the body, so addressing the area in the spine where the pain originates can bring relief. Lastly there can be too much unhelpful inflammation, which can beimproved by reducing the 'activation' involved.

Reiki treatments don't normally relate to anatomy but usually focus on fairly abstract intentions like 'for the greatest good' for the client, to remove blockages, smooth energy lines, build energy or to work on a particular issue for the client.  I would conjecture that as Reiki treatments can reduce pain, similar effects maybe occurring within Reiki treatments.

Reiki research can be found through the Reiki Research Centre website :-

Including 'A Large-Scale Effectiveness Trial of Reiki for Physical and Psychological Health'

'The results from this large-scale multisite effectiveness trial suggest that a single session of Reiki improves multiple variables related to physical and psychological health.'

Various articles on Craniosacral Therapy research can be accessed from the Craniosacral Therapy Association Website including studies on fibromyalgia, lower back pain, neck pain, quality of life, migraine and the following studies on general pain...

In relating to chronic pain, a systematic review in 2019 suggested “significant and robust effects of CST on pain and function, which are not exclusively explainable by placebo responses or effects due to non-specific treatment mechanisms”.

Relating to general pain, a systematic review (2012) found that “pain and quality of life/general well-being can be improved by the use of craniosacral therapy”.

Pacing and Resourcing - 21st Jan 2020

Pacing and Resourcing - Jan 21st 2020

As a complementary health practitioner providing Mindfulness, Reiki and Craniosacral therapy treatments for CFS (fatigue e.g. M.E and Long Covid.), insomnia, anxiety, stress, injuries, trauma, grief, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic (and otherwise) pain and many other conditions, I find that pacing can be an extremely valuable tool and within that resourcing.

The graphs below show a person's activation due to stress over a day. The person in graph 2 has been able to recover somewhat after each stressful event so that the peak stress of the day is much lower and they are likely to have a much better night’s sleep and calmer day tomorrow. There are things we can do to improve our ability to recover from stressful events such as Meditation and Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy treatments. Just taking a moment after each event can also be really helpful, perhaps focus on your breathing or do a little resourcing (at its most simplistic this is thinking of something that makes you feel good- it can be a place, sound, smell).

Graph 1

Stress Graph

Graph 2

StressGraph2

 

The graphs describe the stress for a certain day although a similar effect can be seen with the build up of pain over a day. For this, the events would involve occurrences that bring on pain and resourcing can also be used to help calm it down again afterwards.