Ian Cleary

Does the Lightning Process Training Programme Reduce Chronic Fatigue in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors?

August 18, 2021IanChronic Fatigue Syndrome & ME, In the News & Research, Lightning Process, UncategorizedComments Off on Does the Lightning Process Training Programme Reduce Chronic Fatigue in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors?

 

 

 

(Cancers 202113(16), 4076)

Another research study was published about the Lightning Process.

It is a mixed methods study of the effects of the Lightning Process on cancer survivors with chronic fatigue and has shown promising results.

Chronic fatigue is a severe side-effect commonly experienced by many who have recovered from cancer.  It is often debilitating and unresponsive to treatment.  The Lightning Process was evaluated as a potential solution for this issue due to previous promising evidence concerning its effects on fatigue.

Results

This study found statistically significant improvements for all the patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) questionnaires comparing the pre- and post-intervention periods, with a significant reduction (p < .001) in the total fatigue score from baseline to 3 months and six month follow-up. This was reflected in the qualitative findings of the interviews where ‘participants emphasised that they now experienced both less fatigue and explicit improvement in their energy level’.

All 11 participants confirmed that the intervention had not worsened their health or caused them any negative side effects and that they were satisfied or very satisfied with intervention.  They also expressed that during the LP they felt they were ‘finally being taken seriously’ and the researchers noted how the LP course explicitly validated the participants’ symptoms as being real rather than ‘imagined’.

The researchers noted that ‘The reductions in the participants’ total fatigue scores were remarkable, since no changes in their overall level of fatigue, as subjectively expressed by the participants themselves, were reported over the preceding years.’

You can find the complete paper here: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6694/13/16/4076/htm

Post Cancer fatigue

August 16, 2021IanChronic Fatigue Syndrome & ME, In the News & Research, NeuroplasticityComments Off on Post Cancer fatigue

I recently wrote an article on the nature of fatigue and the idea that fatigue / tiredness is not a lack of biological energy, but rather a form of protective response to a perceived threat.

With the brain being plastic and changeable with experience, a past threat can seemingly alter brain function to maintain the protective response of fatigue well after the threat has past.

Hence we get Post Viral Fatigue long after the viral threat has gone. Real fatigue, just no longer appropriate.

A common issue for those who have survived cancer treatment is Post Chemo fatigue. Does the same principle apply for Post Cancer Fatigue?

A paper came out in the journal Cancer today asking the question:

Does the Lightning Process Training Programme Reduce Chronic
Fatigue in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors?

 

 

Fauske, L.; Bruland, Ø.S.; Dahl, A.A.; Myklebostad, A.; Reme, S.E. Does the Lightning Process Training Programme Reduce Chronic Fatigue in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors? A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study. Cancers 202113, 4076. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13164076

What Choice Do you Have?

August 13, 2021IanChronic Fatigue Syndrome & ME, Chronic Pain/ Fibromyalgia, Neuroplasticity, Success StoriesComments Off on What Choice Do you Have?

Summing up the Lightning Process

A while back I emailed many of hundreds of graduates who had taken one of my trainings over the last 13 years. I gave them this challenge.

Sum up the Lightning Process in one word.

I knew it was a big ask, as we cover so many things over the 3 days – both practical skills and information.

There was a variety of replies but the winner by a country mile was –

“CHOICE”

Graduates summed up the Lightning Process with that simple word.

When we are stuck in our health and lives, by definition we’ve run out of choices. We are stuck. It doesn’t matter what we try, we stay stuck. We might try something that works a little or works for a little bit, but before long you find yourself back there – you’re STUCK.

From a brain retraining perspective, the Lightning Process shows people where they DO have CHOICES.

Choices based on understanding how the mind and body interact to influence our health.

By consistently choosing to choose deliberately, we can retrain the brain.

Deliberate Neuroplastic Change. 

From stuckness to ……..? Well that’s the point. It’s a choice what the life you love actually looks like.

Some use the Lightning Process to get their dream job back. Some go on to change their career. Others go on to work and earn for the first time ever. Some go on to love their daily run on the beach, train for a marathon or go on hiking trips. Others simply choose to get to a point where they can easily lift their grandchildren, have the focus and energy to have friends around or simply to have the capacity to be there for others for a change. Often it’s simply having the energy and focus to enjoy their days rather than just getting through them.

Sometimes it’s grand. Sometimes it’s simple. But it’s always special because of the power of choice.

You didn’t get stuck by your choosing, but you can get unstuck by your choosing.

When you are stuck, even more than ever, recognising that you DO have choices is a powerful part of making change.

Neuroplasticity shows us that the brain is incredibly flexible and adaptable. With deliberate and focused effort designed to engage the adaptive power of the brain, people can go from stuck to flourishing.

What choice do I have?

“What choice do I have” is the catchphrase of victimhood AND the catchphrase of someone looking for their first step out of stuckness. Choose wisely how you say that statement.

You could simply start by choosing to be willing to look at your situation differently.

You could choose wisely what you read. You could choose to update your understandings of what brain science tells us about the nature of pain and fatigue or ignore it. You could choose to get offended by talk of the brain or you could choose to get curious or excited.

You could choose to be involved in forums that are negative, all about management or that promote hopelessness – that’s a choice. There are others forums and websites around devoted to telling stories of people who have recovered from conditions such as FIBROMYALGIA, CFS/ME, CRPS, anxiety, depression, PTSD. Not just managing it well – Recovered.

The Norwegian Based Website Recovery has many many wonderful stories of ME/CFS recovery stories to choose from.

My website is filled with success stories. You could choose to find someone like you on that list.

There is a power in every deliberate choice. Choose wisely.

“CHOICES are the hinges of destiny”. Edwin Markham

If you want to know more about the Lightning Process you could download the Lightning Process Audiobook or simply Email me to arrange a chat.  It’s your choice. 🙂

Is Fatigue a lack of Energy?

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to recharge the body’s batteries – except that’s not how it works.

Some people think that going to sleep is like plugging in your phone to the charger at night.

Give it 8 hours and you wake with full batteries and you’re good to go all day. If you don’t get your 8 hours, it’s like you haven’t ‘fully recharged’ or your body’s batteries are not at 100%.  This common human experience easily leads to assumptions about fatigue and we use the metaphor a ‘lack of energy’. We make ‘energy’ a thing. And ‘fatigue’ is also a thing …. or a depletion of a ‘thing’.

We equate the sensation of ‘tired’ with a biological lack of energy.

This is sometimes known as the Energy Depletion Model of fatigue and while it makes intuitive sense – like other insights from science, sometimes things aren’t as they seem. The link between tiredness and biological energy is not as direct as we usually think.

It might surprise you that TOO MUCH sleep is also associated with fatigue. I’ll just repeat that. Sleeping too much is associated with fatigue. Did I plug my phone in for so long that I am somehow back to a flat battery? So there goes my phone recharge metaphor! 🙁

Now think of what you know about a symptom of low iron levels – FATIGUE. Fits nicely into the ‘Energy Depletion’ Model. Low Iron = Low batteries = Fatigue.  Bingo! Depletion Model of fatigue is back on the table – dust off the phone recharger metaphor.

However unusually HIGH iron levels are ALSO associated with fatigue. Sorry phone recharger metaphor. Back to the middle drawer of useless cables for you.

Too little protein AND too much protein is associated with fatigue. Too little fat in a diet is associated with fatigue ….. and you can probably guess now what is ALSO associated with a diet too high in fat. Our old friend – Fatigue.

A lifestyle excessively high in exercise …. fatigue. But a life style too low in exercise ….. fatigue.

Not quite ready to ditch the ‘energy depletion model’? Well did you know that sleeping USES biological energy.   How much? Approximately the same energy as a 30 minute session in the pool swimming BUTTERFLY – about 360 calories! So by rights plugging in that phone recharger overnight should show up as fewer ‘bars’ on the phone in the morning due to all that energy-draining sleep!

So sleep uses biological energy yet we wake up ‘energized’. Well some of us do. Other don’t – regardless of how much sleep they have.

And if you are one of those people – a different understanding fatigue could be invaluable.

Understanding that fatigue is not a depletion of biological energy, as counter-intuitive as that may seem, is a game changer – particularly if you are chronically fatigued.

Those people already know that NO amount of sleep gets them to “fully charged” (even if you add day naps or pre-emptive sleep before an activity). Neither do they hit fully charged if they sleep lots AND do very little. Other have the most intense healthy diet to build up those batteries and still – fatigue.

YET people hang onto the historic model of fatigue.

Believing that tiredness is a lack of biological energy may put in place behaviours, management techniques and strategies that are counter productive and keeps people from finding actual solutions to the problem.

Trying to rest one’s way out of a chronic fatigue isn’t associated with positive outcomes. It might be managed by rest but unlikely to be solved.

So what is fatigue if it is not a lack of energy?

The clue is to look where it is present. Sleep problems, food intake issues(quantity or quality), stress issues, a virus, bacteria or active illness, recovering injury, undergoing cancer treatment, anxiety, depression, past trauma and grief.

A different model of fatigue now sees it not caused by a depletion of energy but rather a neurological protection response associated with a THREAT. When the brain detects a threat it can turn on fatigue to help us.

So why do I feel tired after a poor night’s sleep? Sleep is primarily for the brain so if the brain hasn’t had enough time to do its important nightly function that’s a problem (threat) so the brain turns on fatigue. Interestingly, and inline with this model, studies also show that fatigue can be triggered by someone believing they haven’t had enough sleep when they actually have. So a perceived threat or actual threat can trigger the brain to create the experience of fatigue.

So a more useful metaphor might be that it’s not a ‘running out of petrol. It’s the brain slamming on the emergency breaks. And before people start to email me that I am claiming it’s ‘All in the Head’ remember neurological not psychological.

When the brain detects a virus (threat), it’s not in our interest to run around so the brain turns on fatigue. Neurological not psychological. The fatigue is real AND your body also has sufficient biological to go about it’s daily functions. It’s just not in our interest to go about our daily functions. So you can have biological energy AND real fatigue at the same time. (Petrol in the tank AND the brakes jammed on).

For some people, the viral threat passes yet it is as if the brakes are jammed on and they are left with ‘Post Viral Fatigue’. The threat has passed but the brain is still turning on fatigue. The energy was there all along and it still is –  the only issue is that the fatigue is also still there. Real fatigue just no longer appropriate fatigue. It’s not ‘all in the head’. It’s the exact same crushing fatigue as when the virus was present. It’s now just no longer appropriate.

And that is the dark side of Neural Plasticity. Anything that goes on for long enough can create changes or adaptations in the brain. Neurological not psychological.

The THREAT has past but the fatigue remains.  Real fatigue just no longer appropriate.

We can see a similar patterns play out neurologically with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The original threat has passed but the brain is still turning on its protections mechanisms. We see it with some Chronic Pain conditions where an original injury (threat) has passed but the brain is still tuning on another neurological protective mechanism – pain. We see it with childhood trauma. The childhood threat has passed, yet the body is still turning on protective responses. (Fear, pain, fatigue, behaviours, anxiety).

These are the neuroplastic adaptations that have occurred in the brain and nervous system.

Within this model, you can probably see why rest is sometimes NOT associated with recovery. You already know what is associated with excessive inactivity/ rest – fatigue. Suffers of chronic fatigue also know that just pushing through and exercising isn’t going to work. Because the brain has put a threat value on exercise. Just like when people have a virus. Activity can trigger the protective response of fatigue. Ongoing fatigue if you rest and if you exercise. Being told there ‘Is no cure’ also doesn’t help the brain’s assessment of threat but that’s another story.

So if resting isn’t the answer and pushing through and exercising isn’t the answer then what?

Well there are actually many options available. A great starting point though is to have a better understanding fatigue.

Now that’s something to sleep on. 

Fire & Your Brain

FIRE & your BRAIN

As fire season starts I’m reminded of my work on fire crews when I was younger. Little did I know that my work testing moisture in leaf litter or plugging in wind speeds would give profound insight into the brain and pain & fatigue.

Question?
Who is better protected from catastrophe – a town with a super-fast fire crew that can respond as soon as the first whisp of smoke is detected OR a town that can predict in advance of a catastrophic fire season and set off the warming bells early and take necessary action?

The answer is that it is safer to predict well than respond quickly. 

That is also the brain’s key strategy – it protects and serves us by predicting. BUT HOW?

Well those fire signs we see are not just a person sticking their head out the window and getting a ‘feel’ for the day. They methodically measure temperature, wind, moisture levels AND have a programme that looks at how that relates to PAST fires. It’s the PAST that helps us predict our safety on any given day. OUR PAST is how we predict the FUTURE. The measurements are meaningly unless we compare them to the PAST.

And so it is with the brain. If you haven’t figured it out by all those red highlighted words : OUR PAST IS HUGELY INFLUENTIAL IN HOW OUR BRAIN RESPONDS

Those who have been following my Lightning Process emails know that the approach looks at the role our brain plays in our physical and mental well-being.

Our brains are always changing and adapting to experience (Neuroplasticity). A key fact about the brain is this simple but profound concept … rather than responding to the PRESENT moment, our brains are actually predicting what will happen NEXT and protecting us from that predicted FUTURE. It does this by looking at patterns of the PAST. Like a town preparing for a future fire season.  So technically the brain is not responding to the moment to keep you safe – it is predicting what you need to stay safe based on your PAST. That’s worth pondering – Your brain is trying to keep you safe by looking at your past.

So – your past matters in your brain function. Your responses are unique to you because your past is unique to you.

Long periods of historic stress, adverse childhood experiences (abuse, neglect, household dysfunction) or intense traumatic experiences in our past are highly influential in brain function.

Long periods of stress in our past are associated with an over-protective brain. We might actually be safe now but the brain isn’t focused on the present. It’s focused on the PAST and predicting the future.

Think how this might be relevant to anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But we don’t have to be at the mercy of our past. With focused attention and effort we can retrain our brains. That’s what I call ‘Self-directed Neuroplastic Change’.

How might YOUR brain be responding historically rather than appropriately? As a reminder, a ‘response’ could be your stress response, your behavioural responses, your emotional response or even a neurological response like pain and fatigue. (YES – those last 2 are neurological protective responses. This pain TED talk might be a good refresher.)

As we enter a new year our brains will be looking to our past to figure out how best to approach 2021. Sometimes that is useful and sometimes it creates an over-protective response. We don’t have be at the mercy of our past.

Past traumas, threats, stresses and challenges can change how the brain responds. Past stress is associated with over-protective responses. Past stress can create a fear-based brain and introduce biases in how the brain determines what is a threat. Ongoing stress can change the brain so that it can start to respond to safe things as if they are dangerous – very real and physical responses triggered by an over-protective brain.

Pain, fatigue, fear, immune responses, stress, avoidance, emotional responses and ways of thinking can all protect us AND over-protect us. A key finding in neuroscience is that in time the brain changes (NEUROPLASTCITY) and we are stuck responding historically rather than appropriately.

Are you ready to retrain your brain?

WHERE TO START
It does take focused effort to retrain an over-protective brain but the brain IS the most trainable organ we have. If you feel ready for a brain-based approach I would recommend downloading the LP Audiobook. It guides people through the concepts behind the training and will help you decide if you feel ready to do the work required. Download HERE. You can also simply email to arrange a time to talk through the programme and your own situation.

ONLINE LIGHTNING PROCESS 
My Lightning Process online 3 day trainings run twice a month in live video sessions available anywhere across Australia & New Zealand.

Break the cycle of the past – Simply contact me for more information.

Lightning Process Research

Lightning Process Research

Below is a recently published paper which reviews current research into the Lightning Process.

Systematic review of the Lightning Process finds an ’emerging body of evidence supporting the efficacy of the LP for many participants with fatigue, physical function, pain, anxiety and depression.’

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1550830720302330

Abstract

Background: The Lightning Process (LP), a mind-body training programme, has been applied to a range of health problems and disorders. Studies and surveys report a range of outcomes creating a lack of clarity about the efficacy of the intervention.

 

Objective: This systematic review evaluates the methodological quality of existing studies on the LP and collates and reviews its reported efficacy.

 

Data sources: Five databases, PsycINFO, PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, ERIC (to September 2018), and Google and Google Scholar were searched for relevant studies.

 

Study Selection: Studies of the LP in clinical populations published in peer-reviewed journals or in grey literature were selected. Reviews, editorial articles and studies/surveys with un-reported methodology were excluded.

 

Data extraction: Searches returned 568 records, 21 were retrieved in full text of which 14 fulfilled the inclusion criteria (ten quantitative studies/surveys and four qualitative studies).

 

Data synthesis and Conclusions: The review identified variance in the quality of studies across time; earlier studies demonstrated a lack of control groups, a lack of clarity of aspects of the methodology and potential sampling bias. Although it found a variance in reported patient outcomes, the review also identified an emerging body of evidence supporting the efficacy of the LP for many participants with fatigue, physical function, pain, anxiety and depression. It concludes that there is a need for more randomised controlled trials to evaluate if these positive outcomes can be replicated and generalised to larger populations.

Lightning Process success stories

October 27, 2020IanChronic Fatigue Syndrome & ME, Chronic Pain/ Fibromyalgia, Lightning Process, UncategorizedComments Off on Lightning Process success stories

“If they can do so can you”

Before taking anyone through a Lightning Process training, each client must first get really clear about their goals. It’s not enough to desperately want to get rid of pain, fatigue, anxiety, trauma etc. There needs to be a reason bigger than what they are leaving behind. Something in their future that will keep them focused to keep going.

Then from Day 1 they go out and start making progress. From DAY ONE.  They put into practice their new knowledge & skills – neither pushing through or avoiding – but progressing.

It’s so inspiring to watch. These people have been through HELL, and having so many past failures, they still boldly take a stand and retrain their brain and body to respond differently – to exercise, light, sleep, movement, people, food etc.

It takes work but that vision of what’s on the other side keeps them going.

Twice a month I witness extraordinary individuals update their understanding of the BRAIN and its role in pain, fatigue, fear – and then knuckle down and do the work.

The work they take on may not seem extraordinary to some – go for a walk, leave the house, eat a slice of pizza, stay out late, ride a bus, socialise at night time with friends after a full  days training!  For many these things seem insurmountable and on Day 1 full health seems a long way off. But out they go each afternoon. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and they keep going.

“IF THEY CAN DO IT SO CAN YOU”

Inspired by my clients, each year I set myself a task. A goal that terrifies ME and requires work.  I use all the inspiration from past clients to work towards it.

They tend to be endurance events that give extra meaning to my ‘pain and fatigue specialist’ title. As I run through the day (and sometimes night) the hours kick by. At times the hills seem insurmountable, the finish line seems a long long way off.

BUT…… it is the names and stories of past graduates that run through my head. I replay their conversations, their weekly success, their challenges to stay on track, the photos and postcards they send.

I hear myself say “If they can do it then so can you”.

So thank you to all past LP Graduates for your inspiration.

So 2020 task completed. A 100km race through the mountains on a stinker of a day!

To anyone who is going through HELL it’s useful to know that others have been there and have found their way out. Chronic does not mean permanent.

If the obstacles seem insurmountable and vibrant health seems impossible it might be time to look at things from a fresh perspective. What role does our brain, our most trainable and adaptable organ,  play in physical health.

Below is a link to some people’s success stories. If they can do it – can you? People like you, who were told there is no cure, who had tried everything, who were sceptical and unsure, but threw themselves into the training, are now getting on with their lives.

You can read some of their stories HERE.

If your brain can change – so can YOU!

#This is my fifth email in a Lightning Process info series. If you would like to receive all emails in the series, subscribe to newsletter in the side box.

 

Your last email in this Lightning Process Info Series focused on NEUROPLASTICITY – the brain’s ability to alter its structure and function through repeated experience. If you missed it you can catch-up HERE.

It can be summed up with a quote from Aristotle – ‘We are what we repeatedly do’. Repeated experience, even imagined experience or thought, creates changes in our brain structure and function. Those changes then create a default mode.

This is profound and opens up new options for understanding and treating very common conditions. There is a shift for example to now see changes in brain biochemistry and brain structures associated with depression and anxiety as a consequence rather than a cause.

The implications of Neuroplasticity is that your brain changes with what EVER you DO, THINK or FEEL. Your experience, both mental and physical, changes your brain.  It also means the ECHOS of your past are found in the structure of your brain AND body. Importantly for health it means a single trauma or ongoing stressors can create hugely influencial changes in our brain and nervous system. Thoughts, feelings, behaviours, even biological responses become automatic and unconscious. Our default mode is set – but not necessarily for ever.

LUCKILY the capacity for the brain to change stays with us until the day we die. We are not at the mercy of our brain or our past.

It might take some focused & deliberate effort and a basic understanding of neuroscience but this is part of the breakthrough of neuroplasticity.

The brain is so integral to our health – influencing immune function, digestion, sleep, endocrine and hormone activity, behaviour, feelings, stress, thoughts and perception. Our entire conscious experience and personality is being generated through our brain.

AND if your brain can change – so can YOU. 

However understanding is key. As the last email highlighted, good ‘management techniques’ also changes the brain but not towards recovery – merely towards the default of ‘good management’.

Of course, influencing the structure and function of the brain towards recovery requires more than positive thinking or crossed fingers.

There are more practical and targeted things that you can do to influence your brain, your body, your health and your life.

FANTASTIC NEUROPLASTIC

With a NEUROPLASTIC framework and understanding of how the brain and body influence each other, we can shift the focus from management to recovery.

With a neuroplastic perspective, we can move away from the outdated question “Is it physical or psychological?”

With a neuroplastic perspective, we can see the possible consequences of the management models of pacing, pushing through or avoidance.

With a neuroplastic perspective, we can move away from the old maps of understanding that sees chronic as permanent.

With a neuroplastic perspective we can see through some illogical and dis-empowering concepts around damage, chemical imbalance, disease or ‘all in your head’ – and instead focus on empowering people to make real changes in their lives.

___

  • Are you ready to think differently about your situation?
  • Are you ready to see stuckness NOT brokenness.
  • Are you ready to see the work ahead as training rather than healing?
  • Are you ready to change AND be the driver of that change?

That’s a lot of questions….. and you might have some more for me.

A great place for answers is to download the Lightning Process Audiobook. It will guide you through the concepts behind the training, help you decide if the approach makes sense to your situation and if you feel ready to apply.
It is available HERE for download.

If you have other questions for me, simply email to arrange a time to chat. Email meHERE

Fantastic Neuroplastic

June 19, 2020IanChronic Fatigue Syndrome & ME, Chronic Pain/ Fibromyalgia, NeuroplasticityComments Off on Fantastic Neuroplastic

#This is my forth email in a Lightning Process info series. If you would like to receive all emails in the series, subscribe to newsletter in the side box.

Fantastic Neuroplastic

In 1990 the Nobel prize for science was awarded for work on Neuroplasticity. Since then Neuroplasticity has been described as the greatest breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in the last 300 years.

So it’s worth having a basic understanding because it impacts you if a) you have a brain and 2) you‘ve EVER felt stuck.

It’s another longer email but ‘greatest breakthrough in last 300 years’ – come on! That has to be worth 10 minutes of your time!

Neuro-what-o??
12 years ago I was giving a talk at a clinic of healthcare professionals and used the term NEUROPLASTICITY. They had heard of it but weren’t sure how it linked in with chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety or depression.  The Nobel Prize work was after all done on sea slugs.  Now fast forward to 2020 and most pain experts will say that Chronic Pain can only occur because of NEUROPLASTICITY.  We’ve come a long way in a short period of time and I want to get YOU up to speed as well!

A Bit of History
Most of us grew up not really thinking too much about the brain except we knew it was where the thinking happened, and maybe that alcohol, sneezing and age kills brain cells. The mantra was that the brain is the only organ that can’t heal and so it’s basically all down hill from youth.

Along comes NEUROPLASTICITY which turned that idea on its head.

Neuro = Brain
Plasticity = changeable/malleable 

We would NOW say that the brain is the most trainable and adaptable organ we have. The capacity to change stays with us, until out last dying breath. Not only were we wrong about the brain but we were embarrassingly wrong. The brain can change (Neuroplasticity) and even grow (Neurogenesis).

Our brain does a lot more than ‘think’ though. In many ways it defines us, it co-ordinates our health and well-being, controls key bodily functions like digestion, immunity, sleep, healing and growth. It allows us to survive and flourish in the world.

NEUROPLASTICITY shows us that your brain, the organ that is central to all those functions, is structurally designed to change.

Assumptions about the brain were based on ‘old maps’. People seemed very adaptable when young but ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. Right? Dementia was a natural consequence of aging. Right?

Machines that could peer into brain activity in real time and view structural changes told a VERY different story. They were the game changer.

It turns out the ‘maps’ were really wrong. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks – under certain circumstances.

Our brain is constantly adapting as required, changing its structure and function. Through changes in our brain we get better and better at things. Think about the child learning to walk or talk. Now think about how little you think about walking and talking. Your brain has learnt key skills and now they are automatic.

However there is a dark-side to automation. A dark side to NEUROPLASTICITY.

Welcome to the Dark Side
WHATEVER is repeated, changes the brain.  You get better at what you repeat. You get faster and more efficient at it – to the point you do it without thinking. Mindlessly doing things is a wonderful way to drive a car IF and only if you have practiced great driving skills including practicing what to do when things go wrong.  But mindless driving is not great if you have been practicing unsafe habits OR if the driving environment changes.

The brain will only have it’s historic responses to go by and that’s not always great. We’re stuck responding historically rather than appropriately.

How might that relate to you?

If we have a brain that is stuck doing things in historic ways, neuroplasticity suggests that we can, with focused effort, re-engage that inbuilt capacity to change.

We can retrain the brain to respond appropriately.

Automation is the enemy of change. Karl Jung once said:

 Until you make the unconscious, conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate. 

But WHAT do we need to make conscious. Far more than our thoughts that’s for sure. That’s why the LP isn’t about positive thinking. That won’t do it. The neurological responses that are stuck are often immune, endocrine, digestive, sleep, pain or fatigue responses. All things that are out of your everyday awareness BUT you can learn how to influence them.

When you are able to see common health issues from their neurological foundation (not the psychology but the neurology) then you can begin to actively engage the brain’s ability to change.

A simple example is a key Neuroplasticity principle called Hebb’s Law. If 2 experiences happen together they get structurally connected (wired together) in the brain. You may have heard the phrase ‘What fires together wires together’. Just like Pavlov and his dogs, you ring a bell and give a dog food. These are 2 experiences happening together. In time the brain changes to wire the auditory nerve with the production of saliva. Ring a bell and the dog salivates. That’s Neuroplastic change. Its ‘learnt’ but not consciously.

In another famous experiment, Robert Ader gave rats a drug that lowered their immune function. At the same time they gave them water with sugar in it. Neurologically 2 experiences are happening together. Low Immunity + tasting sugar. What fires together wires together. When the rats come off the drugs their immune system normalises. But when they drink the sweetened water later, their immune system drops again. The brain is detecting a safe substance (sugar) but this triggers an immune response. The brain has changed and now stuck in a historic response.

Similarly, you can waft jasmine across a room while the body is producing a histamine response. In time jasmine triggers the allergic reaction. By merely occurring together, the brain neurologically connects the presence of jasmine with a histamine response. It’s learnt and luckily it’s reversible.  So safe stimulus like jasmine can trigger a histamine / immune response.

Now the big question – Is the trigger bad for you or have you just ‘learnt’ to respond inappropriately?

This has given rise to entire field of science called Psychoneuroimmunology. It shows 2 things can be paired in the brain. What’s wired together then fires together.  Sugar & histamine? Exercise and immune response? Movement and a pain response? Food and stress response? Adrenaline & the Jaws sound track?

Given that the stress response creates an instant systemic shift in our physiology (impacting sleep, digestion, immunity, brain function, pain, fatigue, emotions, cognitions etc),  having it turned on unnecessarily isn’t going to be great for health in the long run.

A chronic unconscious stress response is associated with many poor health outcomes.

So what? 
The implications are huge. This means that if you have undergone a period of chronic stress in the past, anything happening at the same time could be neurologically wired up together. A safe thing might trigger a stress response. Some things that should feel good or be good for us, might feel horrible even painful. Healthy foods might trigger digestive upset. A safe thing can set off a protection immune response. A small amount of a safe food can trigger an extreme response.

Many people I work with respond terribly and physically to otherwise safe things (exercise, touch, light, food, chemicals, standing, noise).

So when I am talking about the brain, I am not just talking about ‘thinking’.  Although thinking (both thougths & thinking styles also can become stuck).

People are often insulted when I talk about the brain. ”You’re saying it’s all in my head or not real”.  Tell that to the person who is smelling Jasmine and having a histamine response or the person drinking sugary water and getting an infection because of a lowered immune response.  Very real. Very physical. Very unconscious …….. and neurological and reversible.

You limit your options to change if you don’t recognize the role the brain plays.

The brain coordinates so many aspects of our lives. Our health, our behavior, our thoughts, our emotions, our biological responses, our immune system, our endocrine system, our digestion, our pain and fatigue responses, our movement, our perception, our sleep, our stress response. All these things are being co-ordinated at the brain level in some way.

A stuck brain producing poorly timed or unnecessary responses can be a nightmare.

Avoid? Push Through? Or ……….Retrain!  
Without a neurological framework someone responding inappropriately to jasmine has 2 options. Avoid the things that set them off or put up with the response. Think about whether they are your current options – 1) avoid or 2) push through and suffer pay back.  That is the management paradigm most people are in. There is another option though. Retrain the brain and nervous system to respond differently.

Time for a change
To live a brilliant & healthy life you don’t need to understand the brain at the level of a Neuroscientist, but you would be foolish to ignore their key findings.

And that is that you can learn to change your brain and therefore your life.

Inside your skull you have something which is extraordinarily precious AND has a built in capacity to make your life better – happier, stronger, smarter and healthier.

Why would it have this capacity if not to utilise it?

It’s worth pondering that biological fact. Your brain has the capacity to change therefore you have the capacity to change.

NEUROPLASTICITY shows us that change and adaptation is a core function of our brain.

Regardless how long we have been stuck, the capacity to change remains.

When we are ready to see issues from a brain perspective (without falling into that historical cry that neurological means psychological and not real) we can focus on retraining the brain and body to respond differently.

It is as exciting as it is life changing. Chronic ill health impacts every facet of people’s lives. JUST as recovery does.

One of the most destructive concepts is the idea that you can’t change or that you are at the mercy of your past, your genes, your environment, your circumstance or your age. At any age and regardless of your past – you can change.

That is why NEUROPLASTICITY is such a profound concept. It changes the way we see the brain and see ourselves.

When you believe you can’t change you are ignoring that your brain is built for it. 

There is lots online about Neuroplasticity. Here is a link from Micheal Merzenich. He is such a powerful voice for Brain Plasticity because of his passionate understanding of these concepts and their implications.

The Lightning Process & Neuroplasticity
My work approaches common health conditions from a neurological retraining perspective. By utilizing how the brain and body influence each other, we can learn ways to retrain the brain for better health.

It does take work. Deliberate, repetitive and focused work.

Is it easy? Compared to a life of stuckness – I would say yes.

If you would like to arrange a time to chat then email, or download the Lightning Process audiobook HERE.

With travel restrictions and social distancing measures Lightning Process trainings are still being offered for the time being through the online format.

Want more reading? Here’s an article on Neuroplasticity and Anxiety.

Or Email me for a change.

 

It’s not me. It’s you.

#This is my third email in a Lightning Process info series. If you would like to receive all emails in the series, subscribe to newsletter in the side box.

 

I hope my previous email got you curious.

It might have challenged you, stretched you and maybe even got you excited. Regardless, well done for sticking around. (Not everyone did 😀).

Given that you’ve decided to stick around I guess I should tell you who I am.

If you want all the juicy and romantic back-story you can read my wife’s story.HERE. As you will see my connection with chronic illness is very personal.

My wife’s journey through ill health, felt like battling the medical field with many, many years of testing to finally getting an expert diagnosis.  What at first was relief at a label was soon followed by despair …….. “There’s nothing you can do but learn to live with it”. Argh! The dreaded path of pacing, management and acceptance.

She took a different path – to learn to retrain her brain & nervous system.

Her full recovery inspired me to move the family to London to study, then bring the Lightning Process to Australia & NZ.

At the time I was a trained Hypnotherapist so I knew how powerful the brain was in influencing our lives.  I had seen success with pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. But it wasn’t consistent and I didn’t fully understand why. I was also getting a little uncomfortable with the hypnotherapy model.

It’s very enticing to sit there and do nothing, just relax and breath, while someone ELSE fixes your problems.

They would hopefully make enough change in a single session that would have a snowball effect. Some times it did and sometimes it didn’t.

A definition of hypnosis is “focused attention that allows enhanced control over the mind and body.”

However who is better armed with that enhanced control? The practitioner or the client? 

It made more sense to teach people skills to use the power of the brain themselves.

And what if these skills were given with a grounding in neuroscience including an understanding of what pain and fatigue actually are. What if people understood not just the impact of stress physiology but how to influence it.

What if the client, armed with up-to-date knowledge and skills, became the practitioner?

While the LP isn’t just using the tools of hypnotherapy it does shift the control from practitioner to client.

One of the things associated with people staying STUCK in health conditions, is a reliance on something outside themselves for change – a powerful person, a powerful drug or device.

So after my wife’s experience with the Lightning Process, I felt it a far more powerful and sustainable way to help people. Have them understand the issue from a brain perspective, to see the connection between their multiple issues and teach them the tools to make the changes themselves. My job was to become redundant.

My firm belief is the ‘powerful person’ you need is YOU.

It’s not me, them or it. It’s YOU.

So that’s a little about my journey.

I’ve seen hundreds of people, many who were told they just had to learn to live with ‘it’, get better.

I have been specializing in Chronic Pain and Fatigue now for 12 years. I have stayed up-to-date with the emerging field of mind/body medicine, have attended (and spoken) at regular conferences, and I can confidently say that the LP has stood the test of time and the concepts are actually no longer that controversial.

You can watch me discuss pain at the UCOL public lecture series in NZ. HERE

Are you ready to be one of those people who turns their life around, armed with up-to-date knowledge and a willingness to take active control of your health.

You do need to be ready to think differently AND you need to be ready to do the work.

But when you have an up-to-date “map”, finding your way through life is much easier.

A new world of change is open to those who are ready. Not in some hippy woo-woo power of attraction sense, but by following some core concepts.

With a mind/body and brain perspective you can see that we are highly adaptable and not at the mercy of our past.

My next email will introduce you to the term neuroplasticity – a revolution in how we view the human brain.

If you can’t wait, you can watch Norman Doidge, the Father of Neuroplasticity  discuss the concept HERE.

Or if you are ready for a deep dive into the training itself here is the LP audiobook that explains the core concepts and helps people decide if they are ready to think differently and do the work required.
LIGHTNING PROCESS AUDIOBOOK

(Or just email me and we can chat).

NEXT:
Why NEUROPLASTICITY is the game changer you were waiting for.

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info@iancleary.com
PO Box 481
Eumundi, Qld, 4562.
AUSTRALIA