One of the best moves I ever made in my life was moving away from London in 2001 and moving to the coast… I love living on the south coast of England… Our home backs onto parkland and woodland… The beach is a couple of minutes away, the pace of life is just right for me… And we have space!
Today, I’d like to give you a really lovely self-hypnosis technique to create space in your life and your mind, regardless of your environment or geographical location…
I was reading a very enjoyable article at the Times online earlier this week and I want to quote it first of all. This hypnosis article at the Times states:
Overcrowding affects us all. Whether it’s the trauma of the daily commute on trains and tubes, getting stuck in a Bank Holiday traffic jam, the long waiting times in overstretched hospitals, or the schools we can’t get our children into, overcrowding touches our lives in so many ways.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that population density in England is already almost double that of Germany and four times the figure for France. By 2056 our population will have grown from 60 million to 68 million — 1,349 people stuffed into every square mile.
So, what does this mean for our psyche? What are the emotional effects of living on a small island with a rapidly burgeoning population, and, what, if anything, can we do about it?
The most obvious sufferers of overcrowding are the beleaguered commuters whose story is so often told, and whose pain is felt daily on over-stuffed trains or tubes.
European research on people who commute more than 45 minutes each way suggests that they suffer more headaches, aches and pains, and increased susceptibility to flu viruses. Psychologists point out that people have two basic space requirements: personal space and territorial space. When these are infringed, stress levels rocket.
Phil Goodwin, Professor of Transport Policy at the University of the West of England, says: “The fight or flight hormones are triggered, but we can’t do anything with them, particularly if we are stuck in trains or traffic jams. So they burn up our insides rather than releasing energy to do other physical things.” Distracting yourself with a book or an iPod is one strategy; imagining a safe haven around yourself is another.
Suzy Dittmar, a cognitive behaviour therapist and hypnotherapist at the Hale Clinic, Central London, says: “I advise clients to imagine that they are in, say, a blue egg on the Tube. The eggshell is flexible and doesn’t break so if they are touched or their personal space gets invaded, they are still protected.”
Alternatively, if people are troubled by the frustration of waiting in a queue or being stuck in gridlocked traffic, adjusting the pattern of their thoughts can also be helpful. “If I say to myself it’s unbearable, then the outcome will be unhealthy anger . . . But if I accept and observe my feelings by saying, yes, of course, I would prefer not to wait so long, but this isn’t as bad as some things that could happen to me, then it will be a healthier frustration that will enable me to use the time more productively.”
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to avoid commuting in the rush hour. Dr Goodwin says: “In recent years flexible working has really started taking off. If you work one or two days a week at home, that reduces 20 per cent of the traffic load. This has also been shown to make people work more efficiently and keep them happier.”
Unfortunately, senior managers at many companies are still resisting this change. If so, Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, emphasises the importance of not being sucked into the culture of presenteeism. “Leave at a reasonable time every day, or even better, get in early and leave early to avoid the rush hour,” he says. Of course, overcrowding affects much more than just transport. Noise is a big issue for people living in high-density housing, and the green belt is under constant pressure from developers.
Yet green space in cities, as well as open countryside, is vitally important for our wellbeing, particularly if, as looks likely, many more people will be living in smaller apartments without gardens.
Last year the mental health charity Mind released a report called Ecotherapy, which showed what we all know instinctually: structured exercise in a green environment, whether walking in a park or gardening, has significant benefits. The evidence came from a study by the University of Essex. It found that after a walk in a green space, 71 per cent of people reported decreased levels of depression and tension, and 90 per cent had increased self-esteem. After window-shopping, however, 50 per cent said that their feelings of tension had increased and 44 per cent reported lower self-esteem.
One truly marvellous and utterly fantastic way to alleviate this without upping sticks and moving to the coast or the ountryside, is to use your mind and brain for much greater effect… I mean, just going into a hypnotic state is expanding your awareness and giving you more space before you even use it for greater effect!
So today, in a way uncharacteristic of my blog and more characteristic of my ezine, I thought I’d offer up a nice self-hypnosis technique for you to create your own space, useful for a number of different reasons and applications:
Step one: Guide yourself into a meditative state, or a state of good relaxation. Ideally, go read my book on self-hypnosis and learn how to really get yourself into a good, receptive trance state. Otherwise, use any other technique you know… Engage in the moment, focus on your breathing without interfering with it, and allow your awareness to drift inside of you.
Step two: Using your imagination, imagine yourself in a wide, open meadow. Imagine the colours that you love all around you, hear the sounds that let you know this is an enjoyable, free space for you to be in and even smell the sweet scent in the air… All is exactly as you like it.
Become aware of the time of day it is… Notice the colours that tell you that… Look at the sky, the colours and the details of it… Breathe the air and spend some time absorbing this environment and drifitng deeper inside your mind…
Step three: Look ahead of you and to the far right… Off in the distance… As you look towards the horizon, there is something moving towards you… Rolling towards you through the air… It is as if it is floating towards you… You feel safe and secure and curious… How intriguing… Watch as the movement comes nearer to you… As it comes into view, you see that it is a very large transparent bubble… Maybe you imagine the bubble is etched in white light. As it approaches you the bubble becomes bigger and bigger…
The bubble is now floating very gently in front of you. It is bigger than you are. Watch as the bubble floats in front of you. Now lift up your hand and touch the bubble. Watch as your hand goes into the bubble. The bubble remains in tact and whole… The bubble is simply floating gently before you. Know that this bubble is a safe place and then go ahead and step inside the bubble…
Step four: When you enter the bubble, everything is so peaceful and quiet… It is like a switch got flicked off in your head and muted things… A gentle serenity comes into your body… All your thoughts, any troubles, any stress, any tensions are left outside of the bubble… You start to feel more and more relaxed…
Spend some time in this tranquility as it almost becomes a wide expanse of private space for you… In this bubble your body is functioning as it should… With more and more effectiveness… Notice you are breathing regularly and evenly… It is so peaceful and quiet here in this softly floating, expansive bubble… Each second outside of the bubble feels as if it is 30 minutes inside this bubble, so you can relax lazily in this vast expanse in your mind…
Your body clock is regulated and right for you. Feel the gentle shifting and changing as your mind and your body become quiet and relaxed.
Step five: Now feel how your mind is relaxing. Anything unwanted just melts away from your mind… Let yourself feel more and more centered, relaxed, and peaceful. Take all the time you need to truly have an expansive, relaxed mind in this special space for as long as you need….
Step six: Know that you can rest here whenever and wherever you need to, without effort… Keep the feelings with you as you open your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes and go about your day…
There you go… Have a wonderful weekend.