Category Archives: meditation

Mindful health in the pandemic

A short blog post for today but I wanted to share a really useful pdf from NHS UK to help you in these times where we need to spend more time at home and if you suffer with anxiety however mild – and let’s face it we all do from time to time. It has all sorts of good self help ideas.

Please share this resource with your friends:

Please click here: NHS Resource


Here are some places that you can join with me for free or low cost Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement Sessions:

Gentle movement, mindfulness and meditation with Clare Wassermann with Boundary Way Project [online].

March 8 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

 £2.50. Click HERE for info and booking.


Gentle movement, mindfulness and meditation with Clare Wassermann with Gatis Community Centre [online].

March 9th @ 7.30 – 8.45pm

Free. Click HERE for info and booking.


Gentle movement, mindfulness and meditation with Clare Wassermann with Gatis Community Centre [online].

March 16th @ 7.30 – 8.45pm

Free. Click HERE for info and booking.


Gentle movement, mindfulness and meditation with Clare Wassermann with Gatis Community Centre [online].

March 23rd @ 7.30 – 8.45pm

Free. Click HERE for info and booking


I am looking forward to some new and exciting ways of helping people with these sessions starting with some sessions for the Wolverhampton Voluntary Services organisation’s employees.

Help for employee wellness in your small business or corporation


If you or your business would like sessions for the wellbeing of employees please get in touch.

Feedback has been wonderful so far and people are reporting reduced anxiety and better sleep.

Please also see my post on how meditation can help strengthen the immune response. So important, particularly at the moment.

Art Club Online: Wolf Town Art Club

March 21st @ 11am – 1pm £5.80 Details and booking here


Hope to see you at one of these events

ALL THE BEST TO YOU

love Clare x

flying dove of peace painting

low cost and free OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN MEDITATION TECHNIQUES with clare wassermann this february

You may be interested to know that I have some teaching sessions coming up which have been funded so are either low cost or free.

The next opportubnity is this Tuesday (Feb9th) at 10,30am – 12.30pm UK time. The cost to you is only £2.50 as it has been funded by Boundary Way Allotment Project

You can read my article here about why it is good to learn to meditate – not only for your stress levels, focus improvement and tackling axiety but also for your IMMUNE SYSTEM – so important in these times.

Here’s some info abou the session with a link to book at the end:

Winter Wonder – Gentle Movement, Mindfulness and Meditation for the Winter season 9th February:

We are in a time of hibernation both in the garden, allotment and this year spending more time than ever inside and alone. Can we see the opportunity as one of nurture and kindness to ourselves before the busyness begins once more?

A healthy way to start the day could be some relaxing movement, meditation and mindfulness.

We welcome you to a guided session of gentle self care.  This will help to see you through the darker months and teach you techniques which you might find valuable to keep away anxieties and worries.

Themed around the season, Clare invites you to a session of stillness, relaxation and ease. With a cushion, a chair, a blanket and a little room for some light movement learn techniques to beat the blues, bring in the light and calm the mind.

Clare Wassermann is an artist and well-being practitioner who is a qualified meditation teacher.

This session is part of the Winter Wonder programme from Boundary Way Project designed to inspire and motivate through creativity and connection during the Winter season. Made possible with support from the Culture Recovery Fund for heritage.

The session costs just £2.50 and must be reserved in advance. Please reserve your place via this ticket link. Participants will be sent an email with a zoom link to join, in advance of the event.

Further sessions available pn Tuesday evenings through February hosted with funding from Gatis Community Space in Wolverhampton on Zoom.
These sessions are free until the end of the month.

Next session is February 9th at 7.30 – 8.45 (UK Time) : Book here

February 16th : Book here

February 23rd : Book here

For all sessions: room to swing your arms a bit will be useful, as will a place to lie down for a deep relaxation, but again this could be done seated. Bring along a blanket to keep warm when you are being, still and a cushion would be useful.

People report feeling calmer after sessions, more focused in the mind and often have a good night’s sleep.

Do join us – small acts of kindness to ourselves are important.

Beating the winter blues

Why could I feel down every winter?

 Winter is approaching bringing with it the usual ailments such as coughs, colds, bronchitis, ‘flu and of course the threat of CoVid-19. People with some of these conditions can be supported well with homeopathic medicines but a good diet will help to boost your immune system in the first place to help reduce your tendency to these problems.

However there is another ailment that is quite common at this time of year called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.S.). Homeopaths are often often consulted about this problem. Perhaps you suffer with this yourself?

Do you get those down feelings as soon as the clocks go back? Well you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK suffer from the winter blues (approximately 6 million people).

The two most common factors associated with winter blues are: having less energy (wanting to hibernate) and just feeling low or depressed (can’t be bothered). Other issues, such as increased stress (especially leading up to Christmas) and increased bombardment from cold and flu infections, can all play a part.

There are two likely reasons for feeling blue in the winter:

1. Less exposure to sunlight causes brain levels of serotonin – the ‘happy’ transmitter – to fall (light stimulates the brain to produce serotonin).

2. You might not be eating so well (less fresh salads/fruit etc) and so not getting enough mood boosting nutrients.

As well as homeopathic remedies there are some simple nutritional recommendations that you can help yourself with which could really make the difference to how you feel.

Nutrition



So from a nutrition point of view we need to eat foods for high energy – foods that give the best ‘miles per gallon’. These foods are unprocessed, organic, nutrient-rich whole foods such as apples, pears and berries and all vegetables, Whole grains (oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread), beans and lentils are equally important. If half your diet consists of these whole foods, you are on the right track for natural energy. Avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, biscuits, cakes and white rice.

To improve mood we need to look at foods that increase levels of serotonin, the brain’s ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. A protein called tryptophan is converted in the body to serotonin, so we need to increase our intake of foods rich in tryptophan. This can be found in foods such as fish, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, avocadoes and bananas. Also, eating foods rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids (found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, and also in seeds) is thought to stave off depression as it acts on serotonin function in the brain.

If the thought of eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole foods seems difficult in the winter, think of making lots of warming soups, casseroles, hot berry desserts. Also, use what’s in season – all those root vegetables, carrots, swedes, celeriac, turnips, leeks and onions. Try combining a selection with some vegetable stock and brown lentils to make a wholesome soup or casserole (add fresh/dried herbs for extra flavouring); and follow it with a delicious apple and berry crumble. Comfort food can be nutritious and can help you get out of the winter blues!





Make sure also that you get outside into natural daylight as much as possible – it doesn’t need to be a bright sunny day either. Some people find it beneficial to buy a special light box which they sit by for a specified length of time a day and which transmit powerful full-spectrum light to boost serotonin levels. A cheaper option is to invest in a full-spectrum light bulb to work by. They are more efficient than ordinary light bulbs, so are cheaper to run, but provide a good working light and some benefits of natural daylight.

Exercise plays another important part in our mood so a walk for 20 minutes daily will boost your mood and keep you fit. Here’s to a happy and healthy winter!

Yoga and meditation are also mood boosters and I can give you a one to one lesson via Zoom to gently get you started. I’m a qualified meditation teacher (DPNM). Read more here.

Drop me an email on clare.wassermann@gmail to see whether I can help you.

painting of a winter allotment scene and crows by Clare Wassermann
Winter in the Allotment – Clare Wassermann – acrylic on canvas

Self-regulation, Homeostasis and Evoking the Healing Response of the Body – Part 1

March 25th, 2020

What is the autonomic nervous system and how can you activate it to bring about homeostasis and healing? There are hundreds of ways to do this – I can share some of these with you.

The autonomic nervous system is, in neuroscience, frequently referred to as the involuntary nervous system.

The voluntary nervous system allows us to move our hands, legs and perform self-directed actions like speaking, running, moving etc. using conscious will. It is controlled by the motor cortex in the brain. The motor cortex for right handers is on the left side and on the right for left-handed people.

The autonomic, involuntary system – it can be controlled to a degree so it’s not an entirely involuntary system as I will show – in most people behaves in a consciously uncontrolled way.

The involuntary system is a division of our peripheral nervous system which is beyond the cortex of the brain supplying nerves to various parts of the body including the smooth muscles. These are the muscles in our viscera influencing the internal organs of our body.

It acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion, respiratory rate, pupil response in the eye, urination etc. Within the brain this system is regulated by parts of the limbic system; the hypothalamus, the pituitary and many other systems which connect our emotions to our bodily function.

The autonomic system is thought to have three divisions. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight or flight response, which acts under threat, resulting in high blood pressure, speeding up of the heart, sweating, shutting down of digestion and diverting blood to the muscles of the extremities – fight, flight or freeze response. This is very useful in certain situations but if we perceive threat all the time, even a persistent, low grade perception of threat, or indeed more, as is happening right now, we go into sympathetic overdrive which raises the blood pressure etc. and brings about inflammation, raises cortisol levels which suppress immune function, raises adrenal levels in the circulation causing inflammation in the body. In general this sympathetic nervous system overdrive weakens our immune system, making us more susceptible to disease.

The second part of the autonomic system is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Predominantly the most important nerve in this system is the vagus nerve. It has branches to all the organs of our body.

In yogic tradition it is felt to be a healing nerve.

The parasympathetic nervous system gets activated when we are in deep relaxation and through various helpful breathing techniques and is responsible for decreasing activity in our body and giving us more resilience and flexibility. If the parasympathetic nervous system is activated you decrease inflammation, enable heart rate variability, you increase the depth of your breathing, breathing rate slows down and homeostasis and self-regulation kick in.

The highest activation of the parasympathetic nervous system occurs with deepening of the breath and also stillness in the mind.

The experiences we have are sensations, images, feelings, thoughts (interpretation of sensations) and sense perceptions. These are entangled, they all influence each other. They also influence our autonomic nervous system.

If you want to immediately activate the parasympathetic system you need to quieten the mind. The quiet mind is the healing mind. You need to deepen the breathing and there are other techniques too.

The third part of the autonomic nervous system which is being talked about now – it is referred to as the enteric nervous system – the nervous system which is present in your gut, your digestive system and your colon etc. It is part of our visceral system and influenced by the microbiome i.e. the bacterial genes that live in our gut. These genes are very influenced by diet and emotions.

Your diet can influence the activity of your autonomic nervous system, can cause inflammation and also trigger the healing response mentioned earlier by shifting the microbiome from being inflammatory to non-inflammatory.

So, even though the autonomic nervous system is beyond our awareness mostly it is influenced by our emotions. Emotions can trigger the healing response or immunal compromise.

The simplest way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system , the vegus nerve, self-regulation and healing response activation through breathing is often called the yogic breath. An easy form of pranayama, as it is called, involves lying on the floor or a mat.

Lie down and relax your body with your hands slightly away from your sides. Allow yourself to be comfortable. The right hand goes on the abdomen just above the naval, and the left hand over the centre of the chest. Observe your natural breath.

Now focus on abdominal breathing. Breathe through the nose. Feel as though you are drawing the energy and breath in and out through the naval. The right hand will move up with inhalation and down with exhalation. The left hand remains almost still. Do not expand the chest. Inhale whilst expanding the abdomen comfortably without expanding the rib-cage much. At the end of the inhalation the diaphragm will be compressing the abdomen and the naval will be expanded upward. At the end of the exhalation the abdomen will be contracted and the naval will be compressed downward toward the spine.

Do this for a few minutes. Afterwards bring the awareness to the physical body as a whole and then to your surroundings before gently rolling over to rest and gently sitting up.

This will have activated your parasympathetic nervous system and invoked the calm response which will strengthen your immune system.

Yoga and meditation are both key practices for health at all times but particularly now in the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Stay well,

 

Clare Wassermann