February 2014 newsletter

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Call me: 07753957371

I am very pleased to say that ‘Natural awakening’ is going from strength to strength, and Jill Phillips and I look forward to welcoming some of you onto our first weekend summer retreat welshyogaretreat.com and our uplifting workshops to focus the mind and body on strength, resilience, and compassionate care as the year unfolds.

The Hara Centre

The Hara centre opens its doors this coming March and I am so thrilled to be a part of this wonderful project. The Hara centre is the culmination of a collaboration of experience and expertise in the fields of mindfulness, meditation, compassion, self-compassion, and a genuine desire to offer practices and teaching that will support, uplift, and encourage well-being practices.

The project is borne out of an original plan to offer extended well-being services to people recovering from serious illness and the health care professionals who look after them – a concept created by my esteemed colleague and dear friend David Oldham- a well-known and respected teacher in the world of mindfulness and meditation here in the UK and I am delighted to be working with him. The centre is set in Disley and we look forward to holding many wonderful workshops and courses, providing a haven of healing, renewal, and hope and determination for health and well-being for those recovering from serious illness, to health care professionals to anyone who is seeking a better quality of life. I will be revealing much more about the Hara centre and our programme for the year ahead in my March newsletter so look out that!

New evening 4 week relaxation class starting Tuesday 4 March

This lovely evening class is running for 4 weeks in the Worth Room at Poynton civic centre from 7.30-8.30pm. Places are limited and reserved by full payment of £20 in advance.

Everyone is welcome to the class which incorporates, mindfulness, meditation, and guided visualisation practice for deep relaxation- helping you to get a better night’s sleep and provide relief from stress, tension, and anxiety.

For further information/ to book a place call me on 07753 957371 or email me.


The mindful compassion for well-being course which was starting on March 4 is being postponed and rescheduled for later in the year and will be held at a different time. Details to follow.

‘Ask Annette’

This month I am talking about fibromyalgia and what it means to me personally. As many of you know I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and I share information on my website chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia page.

Fibromyalgia is described by Fibromyalgia UK as “a chronic condition of widespread pain and profound fatigue. The pain tends to be felt as diffuse aching or burning, often described as head to toe. It may be worse at some times than at others. It may also change location, usually becoming more severe in parts of the body that are used most”.

New research is beginning to emerge and a new book “Healing through trigger point therapy” offers a consideration that fibromyalgia may be a disorder of the central nervous system. In the December 2013 paper copy issue of “The fibromyalgia magazine”

http://www.ukfibromyalgia.com/family-magazine/family-magazine.html for further details online and recommended reading http://www.fibromyalgiashop.co.uk/books.html.

In an exclusive extract of a new book “Healing through trigger point therapy”, the authors discussed and described fibromyalgia as “the term given to a family of illnesses that have in common central nervous system sensitisation (CNS) and chronic diffuse systemic pain.” I found the article helpful and interesting.

Top tips for the month ahead- ‘focusing on the good’

In his new book “hardwiring happiness” – my recommended reading for February – Neuroscientist Rick Hanson talks about our emotional systems and how our brain is hardwired to problem solve by design, creating a negativity bias that has developed to protect and preserve making the brain “like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones” (Hardwiring happiness 2013 ISBN: 978-1-84604-356-7, p, 27).

However although it is not our fault that our brain has developed in this way, and indeed a problem solving brain is vitally important in evolutionary terms for our very survival, for example, we need to be alert for oncoming traffic before we step out into the road, therefore, the brain alerts us to potential danger, enabling us to look left and right before we cross. But, if we constantly remain in a state of ‘red alert’ this can cause anxiety and stress induced physical and emotional responses that hinder our happiness and well-being, so it is important that we get a sense of perspective and balance by adapting to our design and developing other emotional systems such as ‘the affiliative or soothing system’

(See Paul Gilbert 2010 “The compassionate mind” ISBN: 978-1-84901-098-6 for a detailed explanation of the emotional systems from a neuropsychological and evolutionary perspective) we can create a balance and temper down our alert responses so that we are not constantly on edge.

Rick Hanson offers strategies and techniques to develop our ability to focus more on the good and increasing our well-being. So I highly recommend his book to all my clients now.

My top tips adapted from experts and experience:

  • Acknowledging your strengths, abilities, and capabilities, on a daily basis will increase a sense of autonomy and confidence.
  • Focusing and lingering a little longer on things that make you smile, things that you notice in nature can be very uplifting and over time become a more natural way of focusing and thinking.
  • Making time for friends and family – connecting and sharing with others helps give a sense of social awareness that we are not alone.
  • Keeping a journal or diary of pleasant events is a well-known and helpful mindfulness technique. Have a go just for a week and then read it back to your- self and make a mental note of how it makes you feel when you recall the events.
  • Spend a couple of extra minutes each day to simply enjoy the act of breathing and smiling.
  • Practice Mindful-compassionate eating, mindful-compassionate driving or walking daily and notice the difference in your sense of being fully present.

Blog spot – the importance and benefits of mindful-compassionate driving.

Many people find driving a stressful and anxiety provoking experience, and driving can be tiring. Quite often people come to me for anxiety which manifests itself most prominently when they are driving, so I thought it might be helpful to give you some ideas about the benefits of driving mindfully and compassionately.

Mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment on purpose and without judgement. The driver in front may be going slowly, the traffic lights may be changing to red but it is our judgement that may or may not cause us suffering. We have a choice.

Have you ever noticed or thought about how you drive, what your mood is like, and how much you remember of each journey?

So often I hear people saying “the driver behind is going too fast” or “the driver in front is going too slow!” By creating an inner story of how those drivers are being deliberately annoying, we can lose a sense of reason and tolerance- this can lead to road rage and anxiety on the roads.

I have found by practicing mindful-compassion at the wheel, people become calmer, and more considerate and careful drivers.

For me, practicing mindful driving has made my driving journey more enjoyable. I notice more along my journey, taking traffic jams and red lights as opportunities to focus on my breathing and relax a little. I find it helpful to set off on my journeys a little earlier where possible to make allowances, and to remember that I can’t control the flow of the traffic if the road is busy.  By being mindful I can feel the steering wheel in my grip, it’s smoothness, paying attention to each gear change, my speed, and paying careful attention to the road ahead- remembering- there is a reason the windscreen at the front is bigger than the rear window! All this makes for a better and more relaxing journey.

If you suffer from driving anxiety then taking a few moments to focus on your breath before you start the car engine can be very beneficial and settle down into the present moment by becoming fully aware of the contact your hands make with the steering wheel, what you can see through your windscreen etc. As your journey begins, pay attention to the road ahead and see what you notice, perhaps wind the window down a little to feel the fresh air, listen to some gentle music, or simply focus on all the new things you being to notice on your journey.

Corporate well-being

We spend a large amount of our lifetime at work and with other individuals, working towards common goals, solving problems, meeting deadlines, and increasing workloads in a world full of change and uncertainty. This can put a strain on any workforce and can impact heavily on the health and wellbeing of staff.

I have worked with many companies over the years running workshops and staff well-being programmes and so I am introducing the ‘corporate well-being management system’.

I am offering my services to bring into your company over fifteen years of experience and expertise in the field of corporate and individual well-being with a solution-focused, positive psychology approach to empowering and enhancing the skills and strengths of your staff teams.

There are different tailor-made packages on offer to meet the needs of individual companies. Therefore, I am offering my services on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, either ad-hoc on a consultancy basis or on a permanent basis as a well-being trainer and facilitator, also providing psychological support for all members of staff throughout the corporate year.

As a UKCP and CNHC registered therapist with an MSc in consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology I bring with me a highly qualified skill set to support your staff.

I offer:

  • one-to-one counselling and coaching on-site or at my therapy rooms;
  • Group- based  education sessions on the benefits of maintaining a ‘whole-person approach’ to well-being- including weight management, alcohol issues, sleep issues, work-life balance, confidence, or any issues that currently impact on your work force that you would like me to address; lunchtime classes teaching deep relaxation techniques and mindful approaches to stress reduction.
  • ‘Natural awakening’ corporate away days in partnership with my colleague Jill Phillips we are bringing mindfulness, meditation  and yoga practices together to take your corporate away days and events to the next level- increasing a sense of well-being in the workplace.

My services incorporate aspects of Positive psychology, and a Compassion-focused approach based on the research of Professor Paul Gilbert and Kristin Neff.

If you feel that a ‘Corporate well-being management system’ can support your company as it grows successfully, and to maintain its success, then please get in touch in the first instance for an informal discussion either by email through the ‘contact me’ page on my website; directly on 07753 957371 or in writing to 18a Green lane, Chinley, SK23 6AA.

More mindfulness courses

Sarah Talbot

0777 202 4653


Sarah runs the excellent 8-week mindfulness based stress reduction programme (MBSR) in Whaley Bridge. This can be positively life-changing and is the programme that Jon Kabbat Zinn and colleagues devised in the 1990s and is the best introduction to mindfulness practice for those who have not had any previous experience.

As well as the normal 8-week course Sarah also runs the course over 3 Saturdays, one day a month in Bakewell.

The mindfulness Association

I highly recommend this one year mindfulness training course in 2014 in Chapel en le frith led by David Oldham and Heather Regan Addis. It provides you with an excellent foundation in and understanding of mindfulness and meditation practice.

This course runs over 4 weekends from 10am-5pm

Location: Blythe House Hospice

More Yoga!

I recommend anyone wishing to take up yoga to try one of Jill Phillips’ wonderful classes.

For details of all her classes and further information visit www.earthyogadance.com

Please note my tips and shared information are not a replacement for medical advice. They are intended for personal growth and development and to enable you to think about new ways of addressing and overcoming emotional challenges. Always speak to your doctor before making any changes if you are under medical care, this includes medication regimes.