This August saw the third Hellys International Guitar Festival take place at the Old Cattle Market in Helston. Once again Hellys managed to combine a dazzling array of guitar performances with a warm and fun atmosphere and a stash of creative talks and workshops. Reflexation Therapy was there for the second year running to work with performers battling aches, pains and nerves and to offer treatments to festival goers and team members who wanted a rejuvenating break.
Highlights for me this year included work with some extraordinary musicians such as the Hungarian guitarist Sándor Papp, luthier Graham Emes and lutenist and festival organiser Ben Salfield. I also met a few other therapists and ex-therapists; always a joy to learn from others and to offer treatments to those who usually give them!
Hellys is a wonderful festival to be a part of as it gets going and growing. It was great to meet up with last years team again, from the volunteers to the technical staff like photographer Alice Nightingale and videographer Dan Philbrooks. It was fun to see the excitement of the new Hellys H-factor competition building through the week as brave and brilliant local musicians competed for one of Kif Wood’s guitars. The winner Innes Rankin held the room spellbound in the final with his dark and dramatic style of playing as well as his diffident charm. Quirky poetry and music were back in the form of the relentlessly extraordinary Jonathan Coudrille, at one point accompanied by his new ballet dancing wife.
Whose music did I enjoy the most? My most memorable moments music-wise came not from the main concerts (although these were extraordinary: viva Andrea Dieci) but from elsewhere. Robert Franklin’s performance in the H-factor final was strikingly beautiful, perhaps more so as he fought to overcome nerves in round one before his sound could come through fully; and Alex Roche, returning to Hellys after his Masters in London played a stunningly moving piece by Mozart at the very end of his performance.
Of the non-guitar events I enjoyed hearing Daniela Norris, a former diplomat and writer, speak about her explorations in political and inspirational writing. She spoke compellingly of her dialogue with Shireen Anabtawi and their co-publication of the book Crossing Qualandiya: Exchanges Across the Israeli Palestinian Divide. Daniella shared some inspiring quotations from some of her favourite books, such as The Tao of Pooh (Benjamin Hoff), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig). These are the ones Iiked best:
You’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are. – Benjamin Hoff
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. – Paulo Coelho
We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world. – Robert Pirsig
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse that the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with […] eternity. – Paulo Coelho
There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. – Paulo Coelho
Hellys 2019 brought a greater diversity of guitar styles and events than its previous incarnations. The festival is clearly establishing its identity and place as a fun and inspiring music and culture event for Cornwall. Reflexation Therapy looks forward to Hellys International Guitar Festival 2020 and I’m definitely inspired to get back to my classical guitar, which I’ve shockingly abandoned of late…
If you’d like to read my blog about Reflaxation Therapy at Hellys 2018 click here.
This year’s London Marathon was met with perfect weather conditions for runners and a great deal of excited anticipation throughout the City. Londoners, beset by Brexit blues in recent months, needed a reason to cheer and they certainly found it on Marathon day. Thousands of spectators and hundreds of charities, from Save the Children to Save the Bees were lining the route, cheering on courageous runners raising money for extraordinary and life-changing causes. As ever, people from around the world were there, participating and supporting loved ones on their epic feat of running 26.2 miles in one go (wow).
Reflexation Therapy was there this year as part of the LSSM (London School of Sports Massage) effort to provide soft tissue therapists for 14 charities and their hundreds of runners. I was privileged to offer post-event therapy treatments for Team Tommy’s runners. Tommy’s is a baby charity funding research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. Tommy’s’ brave and brilliant runners were treated to a festive reception at Mabel’s cocktail bar in Covent Garden, only a short walk from the finish line (easier to say if you haven’t run 26 miles, perhaps). We set up therapy couches in a bar area adjacent to the main hubbub of Tommy’s staff and families celebrating with their runners, and worked our way through a cheerful but weary queue of very tired legs in need of rest and recovery! It was touching to hear the runners’ stories and in many cases to see and hear their precious little ones nearby; families proud that they’re raising money for a cause that means the world to them.
Before post-event therapy work started I watched the first runners going past Cleopatra’s Needle, just past mile 25. It was exciting to soak up the London Marathon atmosphere and see extraordinary elite athletes, seemingly taking it in their stride, followed later by many more fighting with all their heart, body and soul against wrecked hamstrings and pure exhaustion in the last mile. To one side of me the St John’s Ambulance crew were busy at the side-lines offering immediate help to those with rebellious hamstrings, getting stuck runners to relax and release painful muscles with simple exercises so that they could stay in the race. On the other side of me Dementia Revolution supporters were having a great time, certainly making for the noisiest charity on the Embankment and one of the most well-represented in terms of runners.
I was fortunate to spot a Team Tommy’s frontrunner go past around the 3 hour mark (good job!) and several other Tommy’s runners cut a great pace. Perhaps the best fancy dress costumes I saw among the front runners were a man dressed in a wedding dress (Cancer Research) and another dressed head to foot as a bee, flying along to raise money for our precious bees in danger. Among the Cornish runners, I spotted mighty members of Carn Runners and Hayle Runners powering along and I know that my home town club of Falmouth Road Runners, and of course the epic Cornwall AC were represented too. Although it’s not easy to spot everyone hurtling by in the last mile, one runner for Pancreatic Cancer UK caught my eye as he ran by, the back of his top aptly reading, “Pancreatic Cancer is tough. So am I.”
The toughness and determination of all the charity runners that we worked with at the London Marathon was both moving and humbling and we hope that after their post-event soft tissue treatments, a few shattered legs swiftly started to feel a lot better. It was touching to hear one runners say she felt she had “a new pair of legs” after her treatment! As a therapist I certainly learned a lot from the experience myself and even after giving treatments for nearly 5 hours solid I can imagine coming back for more another year! I wasn’t quite inspired to run a marathon myself, but I was inspired to move forwards more courageously with the things I do best, that make me “me”, and the sports that I love to do. I’m thinking of committing to some short running races and overcoming my fears for what (if I do indeed overcome said fears) will be my second performance of aerial acrobatics at my circus gala in Penzance this autumn. Watch this space…
Update: I ran my first 5K a month after the 2019 London Marathon and did my second aerial silks performance at the Acorn Theatre in Penzance in November 2019. Thanks all those London Marathon runners for a dose of fear-busting inspiration.
A Feature Article version of this blog was published in the ISRM Newsletter Issue 36 October 2019. You can view it here: ISRM_Newsletter_Feature.
Reflexation Therapy is delighted to be offering therapeutic treatments at the Penryn Campus Sports Centre, with appointments available 5 days a week (daytimes and some evenings). I’m enjoying being up at the University campus, present there now as a scientist turned therapist, delivering specialised techniques for pain relief, injury recovery and improved mind-body wellness. At the excellent Sports Centre clinic space I offer reflexology and soft tissue therapy (a blend of clinical massage, manual physical therapy and advanced sports & remedial massage) as well as Swedish massage and aromatherapy massage.
Discounts are available for FXPlus Staff and Students (10% off all treatments) and some Reflexation Therapy treatments can be claimed via the Simply Health benefit scheme. Keep an eye on this website for details of seasonal offers and get £5 off with the refer-a-friend discount scheme.
Explore further following these links if you’d like to learn more about Reflexation Therapy treatments and Chloë’s approach to mental and physical health and well-being. She has special interests in nerve reflex therapy and connections between mind and body systems. Chloë likes to combine nerve reflexology with manual therapy and massage, applying these powerful techniques both compassionately and clinically to help relieve pain, enhance injury recovery and promote emotional restoration for those affected by stress, anxiety, grief or depression.
Whether you’ve got a sports injury or are simply burnt out from work-life stress, Reflexation Therapy is here for you. Appointments are available 5 days a week, daytimes and some evenings. Contact Chloë on 07780 665 404 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time to Change is a movement that aims to end mental health discrimination in all its forms. Thursday 7th February 2019 is Time to Talk Day, part of an initiative to get us talking more openly about our mental health, even if that just means a few minutes of honest talking and listening over a cup of tea with a friend or colleague.
While one in four of us are estimated to experience mental health problems at some point, many of us still find it taboo to talk about issues such as depression, anxiety & panic disorders and addiction. This can make it hard for those affected to recognise what is happening, reach out for support and engage with the many effective solutions that exist to help them get well and stay well. Talking more openly about how we think, feel and what we do is a key way to turn the tide.
Good mental health and well-being are core to our sense of connection, motivation to be who we are and drive to make a positive impact in the world. As a therapist with an interest in mind and body fitness and wellbeing I can see how valuable it is to look after and listen not only to the body but also the mind. My own passion for yoga, circus and meditation stem from this, much as I adore physical therapy and endless studying as well!
It struck me that the Five Ways to Wellbeing*, simple strategies to enhance mental and physical wellbeing, fit well with the Time to Change campaign and help show why Time to Talk is such a beneficial idea. The Five Ways to Wellbeing include:
Connecting and Giving to ourselves and to others can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to our mental health. This February 7th how about marking Time to Talk Day and joining the move towards better mental health awareness for all? There are plenty of ideas for how to bring Time to Talk Day to your workplace, sports club or community at the Time to Change website here.
May you find many ways to your own personal best mental and physical health!
* In 2008 the New Economics Foundation (NEF) on behalf of Foresight set out 5 strategies to improve personal wellbeing. These became known in the UK and other countries as the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Evidence suggests that small improvements in wellbeing can help decrease some mental health problems (e.g. anxiety and depression) and help people flourish, performing at their best.
With autumn turning wintry already I’ve done my best to rekindle some spacious, summery vibes in this latest post…
In August I went on a short camping trip to the rugged island of St Agnes in the Isles of Scilly. I arrived at the end of my kids’ school summer holidays with an ‘introvert headache’. I left with a sense of gratitude for the healing power of solitude and taking a pause from the layers of complex thinking and doing that I can get tangled up in at home. St Agnes is a place to escape to: balm to the soul for introverts and a healthy reboot even for the most extroverted!
I had been longing to go to the Isles of Scilly since I moved to Cornwall in 2012. I love the idea of being near my Cornwall and at the same time cut off from everything, save for rocks that make geologists sigh, scenery that makes artists swoon and simplicity that makes frazzled parents heave a sigh of relief and smile.
In St Agnes I recaptured a felt sense of how powerful it can be to walk away from everything and just stare at the sea, wander in nature to nowhere in particular or sit and draw the wilderness without interruption. With the freedom to pause, mental space opens up and with it a feeling of compassionate perspective about the challenges of life. I work hard on my relationships, on my work, on everything really. It took being stranded on a rocky island with nowhere to go to remind me that the whole point of life is simply this moment, right now. To be who I am as truthfully as I can and then… let go.
How can I take this realisation into my every day? How can I keep learning what I have learned? The nearest thing I equate to the St Agnes Effect is what I find through ‘taking space’ in daily meditation. I meditate often at home, but in the Isles of Scilly, just being there was so meditative that I didn’t feel the need to stop and “do” meditation at all.
Meditation has become vital to me in the last year or so. It keeps me (relatively) sane, grounded and able to think clearly amid a chaotic life with small children, complex work conditions and demanding relationships to navigate. I’d like to say that I decided to get into meditation because all the evidence suggests it is a good thing for mental resilience and physical well-being. I have meditated on and off for those reasons, but I was virtually forced into a daily practice, as is so often the case, by reaching a breaking point. I started meditating regularly following emotional loss and turmoil that seemed beyond my ability to cope with using yoga, traditional relaxation or other methods that I value greatly such the Lightning Process (or BodyMind Programme) and NLP coaching. Early on, Headspace provided an accessible immersion in simple, effective daily meditation techniques, allowing me to recover a sense of wholeness, inner strength and clarity. These days I have a more settled practice, founded on meditation (with and without lovely Headspace), yoga nidra and restorative/yin yoga.
I recently re-read Kamal Sarma’s book Mental Resilience: The Power of Clarity, on “how to develop the focus of a warrior and and peace of a monk”. It includes a wonderful metaphor for what mediation give us. Imagine you are holding a box of chocolates in one hand with your arm outstretched. Over time it starts to feel really heavy and gives you all kinds of unbearable discomfort. If you let yourself put it down and take a pause, your arm rests, recovers and when you pick up the box again it is back to feeling light and easy. The box of chocolates is your thoughts. I like this idea. Sometimes our thoughts go round and round getting heavier and heavier, and all we may need to get perspective and clarity is to take a pause. Sam Thorogood of TinyPause promotes this same idea, wishing us all high quality rest and “a moment for you today”.
Another meditative book that makes me smile is Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh charmingly explains how we can be more present in each moment if we allow our lives just as they are, from red traffic lights to beeping phones, to call us back to ourselves; to breath and to being.
Maybe there really is hope that we can live in the moment without having to live in blissful isolation on a rock in the middle of the sea. I will keep meditating with that in mind… but I will also hope to see St Agnes again. I think a piece of me may still be there.