Yogi Cameron The One Plan weeks 9 and 10

I have been really bad at following the One Plan these past few weeks. It’s all about getting rid of extra possessions that you don’t need. I have done this in the past and I tend to live simply and don’t have a lot of things. I still have some junk I could clear out but as I live with someone else I can’t throw out everything I would like to as some of it is his.

I haven’t been following the diet properly and I have been drinking wine so lots of backsliding.

In this two weeks I became a Christian so my focus has shifted. I am still going to continue the One Plan and follow most of the recommendations as I think they are valuable and try to incorporate them into my new Christian lifestyle.

It is really cold in England at the moment and that always has a bad effect on me and makes me not want to do anything much.

So hopefully I can shake myself up and get back on the health track next week.

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The Alpha Course – A Personal View

A couple of months ago I signed up for the Alpha Course. I am doing it in the neighbouring town of Wymondham about 20 minutes drive away. It has been running once every two weeks in the evening.

I got interested in it because I have been seeing these ads for Alpha for years but never dived in. I was brought up by Communists so though Christened no attention was ever paid to my spiritual development. I got introduced to Christianity at school and through friends. I dabbled a bit but didn’t completely get involved. At university it was the same. I went to a few prayer meetings in my Hall, attended Church a few times and then abandoned it for other things. I have always been quite spiritual though and returned sporadically to exploring. I have dabbled in Paganism, witchcraft, the occult in a New Agey way, Spiritualism, Hinduism and Buddhism.  The Buddhism was my most recent foray and I really liked it. I have been to the Norwich Buddhist Centre and learned to meditate. I still wasn’t sure which one was for me.

So I decided to learn more about Christianity. The Alpha Course is supposed to be for non-believers, agnostics or new Christians and is an introduction to the basics of the faith. I hoped I would get answers to my questions like the problem of evil in the world and why God made the world.

When I arrived at the hall I found that everyone there was already a member of the charismatic Church which used the Hall. I was the only vague one. I hadn’t expected this. What struck me the most was how pleasant everyone was. It was very welcoming. The pastor and leaders didn’t wear any particular clothes. It was very casual and relaxed.

Each session takes the same format. There is a meal prepared by the Church members and then a video headed up by Nicky Gumbel the founder of Alpha. Then we break into groups and discuss the topic. There is an accompanying booklet. I was hoping for some intellectual discussion but this didn’t really happen in my group. Everyone was already a true believer so they just believed. Sometimes I asked questions nobody could answer such as why the Old Testament is in the Christian Bible when there is a new promise of the New Testament. The leader who was incredibly sweet looked it up on Google for me the next week. They all seemed to take the Bible literally as the word of God so didn’t question anything. I realised I wasn’t going to be converted by clever arguments.

One thing struck me from the very beginning. They were all incredibly open and honest. Most had had life traumas which they discussed candidly. The Church was for broken people. At least this one was. I would fit right in. I warmed to them over the weeks though I often felt awkward and didn’t know what to say.

One week I finally cracked and cried as I thought about how sinful I had been and how I hadn’t come to Jesus properly even though he had given me plenty of opportunities.

The first few sessions were about what it meant to be a Christian but it swiftly turned into a conversion course.  I didn’t mind this but I could imagine some people would. In fact I wanted to be converted. I really need something solid in my life and I know the pick and mix spirituality is never going to work.

I felt I was on a roller coaster ride and I really was confronting my past and my failings and being honest with myself. I often went home in deep thought but I was enjoying it. I worked my way through the New Testament though I have done this many times before. The group leader behaves as if I am a complete atheist but I have actually read the Bible many times. I like the core message but I find lots of it confusing and contradictory. I still had lots of unanswered questions. I knew I wasn’t going to get them answered. If I wanted this I had to just go with it in my heart.

So I girded up my courage and prayed the conversion prayer recommended by Alpha. I repented and asked Jesus into my life. To my disappointment no Damascene miracle happened on the spot. Slightly sadly, I went out to walk the dog. In the church yard glebe at dusk I saw a huge white barn owl with wings outstretched hunting over  and over on the same patch of ground. It was completely unconcerned by my presence. As I stopped to watch it I was aware it looked a little like an angel. I took this as a sign. Maybe it was a very weak sign and just a coincidence but it was something.

The following week at Alpha there was a Holy Spirit day which was on a Saturday in the Church. For some reason I had a total foreboding about this and nearly didn’t go. When I got there it was all set up for a service. We watched no less than three videos in a row which were building up for the Holy Spirit experience. We had a short discussion and then the experience began. We all stood up and prayed and started to sing a hymn. We asked the Holy Spirit to come. The leaders went around and prayed for people. My group leader came to me and asked if I wanted to be prayed for. I said yes. Already I had started to feel quite strange even before this. My nose was running and I felt hot and shivery. She prayed for me and put her hands on my head. Then she started speaking in tongues and asked me to copy her. As I started I felt incredibly hot in my forehead and shivery but not cold. Then I felt like a great force came into me and something went out of me. I screamed I think about three times. Bizarrely, I can only compare it to orgasm. I am embarrassed I had a very loud orgasmic experience in front of a lot of fundamentalist Christians. Joking aside it was quite an incredible happening. I was also crying and my cheeks were wet when I opened my eyes. This was the Holy Spirit in me.

I sat down for a while afterwards feeling completely strange. I was different. One of the other leaders came over and asked if I wanted to learn to speak in tongues. I was inclined to say I had had enough for one morning but he was quite insistent so I agreed. He laid hands on my forehead again and spoke in tongues. It sounded like Ancient Aramaic. As I repeated it I had the hot sensation again and lots of lights were appearing under my closed eyelids like little fires. He said the Holy Spirit is upon you and carried on chanting. I found I could chant away on my own these strange words but I had no idea what I was saying. The same hot feeling was there but it wasn’t as intense as the first time.

Later on  a few of us joined in a circle and spoke in tongues.

I still feel in shock a few days later and I don’t quite know what to make of it. I do know that something profound happened to me and there was definitely something supernatural in the room. My rational mind has tried to make sense of it but come up with no explanation. I feel like there is something different in my mind. When I meditate or pray my brain feels different.

So I think I have become a Christian. I have been praying and reading the Bible and going about my usual tasks. The inital high has worn off but I still know I am changed. I have prayed in tongues and found it just flows out of me but I don’t know what I’m saying.

There are still a few sessions of the course to go but I feel like I have converted. It has taken me fifty years to fully accept Christ but here I am.

I don’t want to give up my daily meditation but maybe I don’t have to. I have a lot to learn but I have started the journey.

 

Don’t Worry. It’s Not You. It’s Society. Anxiety Blog

anxiety-symptoms-cartoon

 

Modern psychological research is suggesting that the causes of anxiety may not lie within the individual in terms of faulty biology or faulty thinking patterns but come from factors within the wider society.

The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are some 3 million people in the UK with an anxiety disorder. What methods are used to give us information about anxiety? Different methods produce different evidence. Traditionally, anxiety was studied as something within the person using scientific experiments but these days surveys and interviews are often used to examine the effect of society in causing anxiety.

Anxiety is usually described in terms of the body’s stress response triggering the fight or flight reaction. This could have been useful in caveman times when we were out hunting but these days it can cause problems. The amygdala deep inside the brain alerts the rest of the brain that a threat is present and triggers an anxiety response just like in the cartoon above. Just knowing this doesn’t help you very much does it? Biology isn’t the whole story.

The Survey

The survey is a common method of collecting data in anxiety research. People answer questions about their feelings and behaviour on a scale such as the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale and this data is subject to statistical analysis. This type of research often leads to thinking of anxiety as due to faulty biology which leads to faulty thinking and disordered behaviour. It is also possible to use surveys with more open-ended questions and answers.

The survey method is cheap and can be used with lots of people at once. A large group of people taking the survey can make the evidence seem likely to be true for most people.

There are problems with the survey method though. The people answering questions may have lied or they may not have taken the survey seriously. They may not have understood the question. The questions may not fully reflect their experiences. Some researchers argue that anxiety scales are not accurate. For example, a statement reads ‘I worry more than most people’ and the answer is marked true or false. Just think about how vague this is and how open to different interpretations. The element of the social environment is missing on these scales. The Twenge (2000) study, which showed increased levels of anxiety from the 1950s to the 1990s, uses this method in the primary research studies.

This means the evidence collected by this method may not be entirely reliable.

The Interview

 This is similar to a survey but a researcher interviews the people taking part. The data from this can be seen to be more accurate than a survey if the interviewer is skilled and well trained. It can produce more detailed data, getting closer to the person’s actual experience. This method can also move beyond the idea that the anxiety is a fault from within the individual. It can bring in the missing factor: the social environment. The researcher can ask people about what might have caused their anxiety or indeed cured it.

Brown et al. (1992) found that anchoring life events, which bring security, could lessen anxiety. An example of such an event could be getting married and settling down. A team of researchers interviewed women about their feelings of anxiety and they did use scales but with an interviewer doing the rating. Then they interviewed the women about what was going on in their lives in a less structured way.

There are problems with this method too. The interviewer is a person and that person could be biased. They bring in their own thoughts and feelings into the social interaction and they might even lead the interviewee into answering in a certain way. They could do this without realizing it. It is also difficult to code this rich data gained from the interviews for analysis and mistakes can creep in here.

The evidence from this method may not be totally reliable either.

The Meta-Analysis

 This is where the researcher pools the data from lots of previous studies and then performs statistical analysis on all of it to see what the effect is. This is good for looking at large amounts of data but it is so complicated errors can creep in. There may have been errors in the previous studies that are then carried over into the new study. This method is good for looking at trends in society such as has anxiety increased over time. The bad news is that it probably has. The Twenge study (2000) did this and found that anxiety has increased a huge amount since the 1950s. Twenge also compared anxiety levels with social statistics and found that anxiety levels increased along with environmental factors such as low social connectedness and social threat levels. Lonely people living in high crime areas are more likely to have high anxiety levels.

Yet again there could be a problem with the reliability of the evidence due to the possibility of errors in the original studies used for the meta-analysis.

Looking to the Future

 A more recent movement in research has criticised all these approaches as having too much power inequality. The researchers are in control. Transformative research approaches want to redress this balance and give more power to the individual. The person with anxiety can collaborate with the researcher to set up the study.

Yes that’s power to you, the individual.

All of this doesn’t mean that anxiety research has all been wrong up to now. If the researcher has tried hard to minimise the risk of errors and performed the study rigorously the evidence can be useful. Both Twenge (2000) and Brown (1992) provide reasonably good evidence to suggest that anxiety can be linked to social factors.

This can be really empowering for people with anxiety symptoms. Instead of a pill or a course of therapy they can think about factors in their lives that could be causing their symptoms.

References

 

 

(Borenstein, M. Hedges, L. Higgins, J. Rothstein, H. 2009) ‘Introduction to Meta-Analysis’, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd (Online) DOI: 10.1002/9780470743386 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

(Brown, G. Lemyre, L. Bifulco A.1992). ‘Social Factors and Recovery from Anxiety and Depressive Disorders A test of specificity’, British Journal of Psychiatry vol. 161 pp. 44-54 (Online) DOI: 10.1192/bjp.161.1.44 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

 

(Charlton E. 2017) ‘What happens to your brain when anxiety attacks?’ (Online) Available at https://www.thecounsellorscafe.co.uk/single-post/2017/02/04/What-Happens-to-Your-Brain-When-Anxiety-Attacks (Accessed 27th Nov 2017)

 

 

(Hoskin, R. 2012) ‘The dangers of self-report’, (Online) Available at http://www.sciencebrainwaves.com/the-dangers-of-self-report/(Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

(McLeod, S. A. 2014) ‘The interview method’ (Online) Available at www.simplypsychology.org/interviews.html (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

 

(McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) 2016) ‘Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014’. Leeds: NHS Digital. (Online) Available at https://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748 (Accessed 27th Nov 2017)

 

(Noble, J. 2006) ‘Meta-analysis: Methods, strengths, weaknesses, and political uses’, Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine Volume 147, Issue 1, Pages 7–20 (Online) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lab.2005.08.006 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

 

The Open University (2017) DD801 Medicalising and Experiencing Anxiety and Worldviews and Transformative Enquiry (Online) Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/course/view.php? id=204962 (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

 

(Twenge, J. 2000) ‘The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism 1952-1993’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol.79 (6), pp.1007-1021 (Online) DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.79.6.1007   (Accessed 24th Nov 2017)

 

 

 

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Week 5 and 6 Review

So I am still keeping up my Yogi Cameron plan kind of. I STILL haven’t lost any weight in spite of my Spartan diet. I have had some cheat days but I would have expected at least some weight loss.  Why is my body holding on to its weight?

On the spiritual side these two weeks have been about non-stealing. By this Yogi Cameron means not just literal stealing but things like cheating on your taxes and taking someone’s parking space. I’ve realised I’m a pretty honest person as I don’t do any of these things. This is something I can be proud of at last. I am ethical. I am honest. I have empathy. This is all good for my spiritual growth.

I have been feeling better. I have cut down my portions and now I have even stopped having rice. So I am existing on fruit and vegetables mostly with vast amounts of herbal tea. I have had a few cheat days. Husband has this effect on me. He encourages me to drink wine and takes me out to lunch to places that never have anything healthy on the menu.

I have massively upped my exercise regime. I am doing yoga and then HIIT and then weight training with dumb bells. I am only doing the weight training three times a week but the other exercise every day except Sunday. This is as well as dog walking which is often miles and miles around Norfolk lanes. My legs ache most of the time.

I am also meditating and praying daily.

I have upped my productivity massively and managed to finish my novel. It just needs editing now and adding to. I am quite pleased with it but it still needs some work.

I have also started my MSc in Psychology at the Open University. It is brilliant so far and I amr really interested in it. I have sent in my first essay.

I have also started a course in Hypnotherapy training. I am really hoping this could be a new career for me. It will take me ten months. I really enjoyed the first weekend and I got some compliments. Maybe I will actually be good at this. I am hopeful. The course was very relaxed and supportive. It was right for me. My anxiety melted away.

My depression is being held at bay. My strategy has been to force myself to do things even though I don’t feel like it. This has been effective and I feel better afterwards. I still haven’t got to the stage of joy yet but I am smiling more.

I have had another intervention as I have been going to CBT sesssions with the NHS. It’s not really therapy. I sit in a room  with other people and listen to a lecture on CBT from a very young man. Then I get a booklet and tasks to do at home. There are some useful ideas in it but you can tell it’s just trying to deal with people on the cheap. One size does not fit all in my view.

I still have the problem of no income. I do need to work on this. I do everything to avoid applying for jobs. I think it must be anxiety from my previous experiences. I much prefer doing courses. I still want to work for myself ultimately. Of course I want to be a writer but unless I have a bestseller I am not going to make any money. Being a therapist would be good too. I would like to help people cope with their problems. I have had so many issues it would be lovely to help other people not go into the depths like I did.

I have had to take a long look at myself and there are still lots of things wrong. It’s painful to examine your inner life. I still have very little in the way of a social network. I feel totally alienated from family but let’s face it I always did anyway. I can’t do anything right as far as they are concerned. Maybe being reclusive is my natural state. Of course I would love to have a perfect life like people in a TV ad but maybe I’m just not made that way.

I have felt a longing for children over the last few weeks. Sadly I think I am too old. When I was younger the time never felt right. I have a lot of regrets about the past. I suppose you can regret everything or regret nothing. I am finally waking up and facing my fears.

Onwards!

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 19

Weight: 63.5 kg

Breakfast: berry smoothie with almond milk

Lunch: Carrot and butter bean soup. Two slices of homemade wholemeal bread and butter

Dinner: vegetable quiche, salad, cupcake

Exercise: 30 mins yoga, 20 mins HIT routine, dog walking 1 hour

Meditation: 20 mins

Mood medium. I feel like my energy levels are improving. I went to the Alpha course in the evening so had to have the meal. Social events are really difficult for dieting. I have eaten too much yet again. I still feel proud of myself for giving up caffeine and alcohol. It is strange that the physical withdrawal from caffeine was so hard and yet there are no physical symptoms from the withdrawal from alcohol. It shows I was only psychologically addicted, not physically. I had quite a productive day and did quite a bit of university work. I also managed some gardening and planted pansies in my pots at the front of the house. The weather was fine which made dog walking a pleasure. There are lots of mushrooms growing in the lanes. The Alpha Course made me think a lot about Christianity and spirituality. There are lots of people with painful pasts there. I am not alone.

Yogi Cameron Diet Day 10

Weight: 64.1 kg No weight loss. I am becoming exasperated. I think I am eating healthily and low calorie but it’s not enough. I shall have to be ever more draconian.

Breakfast: fried egg, two slices of sourdough bread

Lunch: nut roast, roast potatoes, broccoli

Dinnner: two boiled eggs

Wine

So it’s Sunday today so I don’t do exercise. Total rest day. I did do dog walking for an hour but that’s it. I have eaten too much. Next week my plan is to cut the wine out completely. Then I will be free of stimulants. I woke up in the night again with the same headaches and leg aches. My legs were still aching in the morning. Ibuprofen is my new best friend. This caffeine withdrawal is going on for longer than I hoped. I still feel tired and have no energy. There isn’t much improvement so far. I must be patient. As far as the Yogi Cameron ethos goes I have not eaten meat or fish and I haven’t had processed food or caffeine. This is an achievement. I have been eating my main meal at lunch time instead of evening. This is all in keeping with his principles. The next big push is the alcohol. I know I have been self medicating to bear the pain of the caffeine withdrawal. I have had crazy nightmares. I really hope to feel better soon. I was lazy and watche politics and a French film. It was beautiful sunshine today so the walk was lovely. I hope I am stronger soon. There are so many things I want to do. I feel like an elderly person who needs to be pushed around in a bath chair and covered in a plaid rug. Please God can I have my energy back.

Yogi Cameron Diet Day 6

Weight: 64 kg. I am kind of amazed I am still the same weight after my blow out yesterday.

Breakfast: berry smoothie with soy milk

Lunch: Chinese stir fried vegetables

Dinner: Chinese stir fried vegetables.

One glass red wine

Exercise: dog walking one hour. Did not manage yoga today

Meditation: 15 minutes

Felt very tired today after yesterday. This seems to be part of my chronic fatigue. I do something one day and am exhausted the next. Mood was medium. I forced myself to do housework and go to the shop. Pleased with the results. Not pleased with my lack of productivity. Felt I ate very healthily today so pleased about that. Proud that I am keeping up caffeine free. Had leg cramps from caffeine withdrawal and a mild headache. I am hoping I feel better when it ends. Trying to heal.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 3

Weight: 64.5 kg. No weight loss

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, green tea

Lunch: ratatouille, rice, green tea, red wine

Dinner: dates

Snack: corn bread. Extra virgin olive oil

Meditation: 15 minutes.

Mindfulness: I can statements. Love and compassion to all beings.

Exercise: dog walking 30 mins

Social interaction: talking with husband until he left at 3 for a conference

I had a day of rest today as it is Sunday. I didn’t feel very good. Felt very tired. Mood medium. I was annoyed at myself for eating corn bread. I am not supposed to be eating any bread at all. The only thing I am proud of is avoiding coffee. I am still eating too much though I have reduced my portions. I will concentrate on avoiding caffeine as I can’t give up too many things at once. I spent the morning lounging and watching political programmes on TV. Then I watched a film. I feel myself slipping into old habits so I must try harder. I am more aware of my thoughts and trying to catch them before they turn negative. I felt myself sliding into hopelessness again that I do not have a proper purpose. Try not to have wine tomorrow. Keep trying. I was pleased I didn’t have processed food. I didn’t eat late. I think eggs are not really allowed on the ayurvedic diet but  think they are healthy.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 2

Weight: 64.5 kg. I have lost no weight. Aaargh. Hey it’s only one day.

Dog walking: 30 mins

Meditation: 15 mins. Concentrating on the breath and observing thoughts.

Mindfulness: I can statements. I can write.

Yoga: 30 mins

Jogging: 20 mins

Breakfast: strawberries, banana, green tea

Lunch: aloo gobi curry, nectarine, green tea

Dinner: ratatouille and beans. Baked potato. Red wine.

Snack: almond milk hot chocolate.

Mood: up and down but ok

Social interaction: some at village dog show, husband in the evening

Pretty pleased at the amount of exercise I achieved today. Felt good in the morning. Energy dipped in the afternoon as did mood. Got some writing on the novel achieved though not very much.

The big news was giving up coffee. I had green tea instead. Big achievement. I did not get a headache. Felt naughty about the red wine but it is Saturday night.

I reread some of the One Plan. I love the idea he talks about as emerging as a masterpiece. Yes I would like that.

Feel I kept to eating healthy foods. I am still probably eating too much but I had no processed food. It is time consuming to cook everything from scratch but I really enjoy it. In a better world I would have a house full of children to cook for. I always make too much of everything. Sigh.

I had some negative thoughts impinging but I managed to come back to the present moment. The rainy weather does not help. I enjoyed watching my garden birds on the bird feeder.

A good day. Onwards.

 

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Reboot Day 1

I have started the One Plan before but I gave up after a few weeks. I can’t now remember why. I am going to give it another go. The One Plan is a book by Yogi Cameron who is a holistic therapist. It promises to change your life in a year with a week by week plan. I have been feeling so ill, tired and hopeless recently that I really need something. I have decided to persevere this time and not give up like I usually do.

The One Plan applies the principles of yoga and ayurveda to the realm of the body, mind and spirit.

Week One is about remembering not to eat late at night and to practise non-violence on yourself and others. This means verbal as well as physical.

I am going to blog about my progress through the days. I hope it is helpful to people. I am going to keep broadly to the plan but also mix in other ideas from Buddhism and health sites. I will be broadly vegan with a few animal products from time to time. I allergic to milk and gluten intolerant.

Day 1

Wake 8 am

Weight: 64.5 kg. Heaviest I have been for a long time.

Exercise: dog walking

Meditation: 15 minutes Concentrating on the breath. Observing my thoughts.

Yoga: 30 minutes.

Mindfulness: mantra of I can statements. I can write. I can write my novel. Visualise myself as a famous novelist.

Breakfast: smoothie consisting of almond milk, peanut butter, strawberries, banana, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, avocado, cod liver oil. All whizzed up in the blender. Coffee.

Hypnosis tape.

Lunch: 1 pm salad. Yogi Cameron does not approve of salads but it is what I have in my organic veg box so it’s what I’m eating. Lettuce, cucumber, brazil nuts, tomato, avocado, French dressing with garlic and mustard. Green tea.

Dinner: 4 pm three quinoa rice cakes with marmite and peanut butter

One glass of red wine.

Social interaction: virtually none. Greeting neighbours while dog walking. Husband is at the gym until late. Not in yet.

I am pleased with myself today. I am easing in. I had a sense of well being. I had a slight headache in the afternoon. I am still drinking coffee which I will have to stop but I only had one. I didn’t eat any processed food and I didn’t eat late. I did lots of reading and I wrote this blog. I looked at some social media which I am trying to cut down. I have realised a lot of my problems stem from negative self thoughts. I need to do more tomorrow. I kept grabbing at the thoughts to make them go away. I have just recovered from a cold so feel slightly woozy though the nostrils are a lot less blocked than usual. I also have negative self thoughts against other people. This is something I need to work very hard on to eradicate. I need to meditate on forgiveness. I had one glass of wine which will need to come down.

A good day.