Ian Cleary

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.


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!

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.

(Or just email me and we can chat).

Why NEUROPLASTICITY is the game changer you were waiting for.

The Most Important First Step to Recovery Is..

June 2, 2020IanUncategorizedComments Off on The Most Important First Step to Recovery Is..



This is my second in a series of emails aimed to help people have an up-to-date neuroscience understanding of the conditions I work with using the LP training programme. (If you missed the first one it’s HERE). If you don’t want to miss out on future emails in this series or more, simply subscribe with my newsletter form. 

In a world of short tweets & image driven social media, long emails are an anomaly. However the health concepts I’m covering don’t lend themselves to inspirational quotes. So these are deep dives into concepts. Isn’t your health worth the time? So set aside time for a change.

For over 12 year now I have been helping people with a wide range of conditions that at first glance seem to be unrelated.

Chronic Pain (migraines, backs, CRPS, Fibromyalgia), Chronic Fatigue Conditions (ME/CFS, PVFS, Adrenal Fatigue), Anxiety, Intolerances, Digestive Issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression … amongst others.

Putting these conditions together in the same sentence will have the alarm bells ringing for some people and risk a string of unpleasant emails accusing me of treating your thing as psychological or ‘all in the head’.

That response stems from an outdated understanding of basic human biology and an historically-driven false division between the body and the brain.

The outdated view says things are either physical (and real) or psychological (and therefore not physical).

Holding that ‘physical or psychological’ outdated model of human biology is partly responsible for the stuck state people find themselves in. What you think the problem is (psychological or physical) will determine the solutions you look for (psychological or physical).

What if your mental MODEL of the problem was wrong? It would impact how you attempt to solve the problem.

Holding that old view of human health is like trying to explore New York City today with a map from 1810. You might be able to get around a little – but you’ll keep hitting brick walls, be pretty limited and wondering why others are doing it so easily. Unless you realize that that MAP is outdated, you will go around in circles and keep hitting those walls.

Don’t curse the wall, simply update the map. Then you can enjoy your trip of a life time.

Many people I work with are running on outdated maps.  The people who think ‘their thing’ is just physical AS WELL as the people who think ‘their thing’ is just psychological.

NOTHING is all in the body, nor is anything all in the head. But notice how people act as if they are.

By gaining a more up-to-date understanding of the critical role the brain plays in our health AND the role our body plays on the brain, people are more likely to make the kind of changes that will sustain long term wellness.

How do you know if you need to update YOUR map?

Here’s a quick check:
If you think pain is caused by damage, if you think fatigue is about lacking energy, if you think anxiety is a thinking problem, if you think depression is caused by genetics or chemical imbalances, if you think PTSD is ‘all in the head’ AND if you think that the best you can hope for is to manage these conditions – then I would recommend it’s time for an updated map.

For many conditions, it means a shift from the ‘there is no cure’ mindset where the focus is better management to actually being better.

Yes – I’m talking full recovery. We know enough about these conditions to now put recovery front and centre as our aim.

Over the next few weeks I will be discussing the benefits of beginning to see these conditions from a neuroscience and mind/body perspective. While all these conditions seem radically different at first glance there are some important commonalties that REALLY matter.

If you are someone who is firmly in the camp of ‘There is no cure’, then the emails I will be sending out will probably infuriate you.  Which is kind of the point of this email.

I’ve titled this email:
The most important thing you can do for recovery …….

So what is it?



Ouch! I can hear the sound of unsubscribe buttons going wild, but maybe hold off for a while. When I say change your thinking, I’m not advocating positive thinking as the most important thing you can do.

Most people want to know HOW they can get well and have been on a long and frustrating road of failures, advice from friends and professionals, medications, manipulations, partial successes and frustrating crashes, flare-ups or downward spirals. (Hitting those brick walls hey!)

Often the approaches to date are a piecemeal attempt at trying anything that seems to have helped some so why not give it a go. Accupuncture, physio, magical devices, psychotherapy, operations, dietary changes, herbs, drugs, massage, pacing/take it easy, push through, exercise, don’t exercise, meditate, drink this, don’t drink this, eat more turmeric, cut out root vegetables except on Tuesdays, sunshine and Vitamin C/D/E or N, restorative yoga….but only on a full moon.

Some things help a little, work for a while or work for someone else but not for you.  Basically you roll the recovery dice and cross your fingers.

But there is no unifying framework why any of these could work – and they all could and have. So before you can solve the problem, you need to really understand the problem.

Sounds simple but many people don’t understand the problem. They are working from an outdated map.

And that is where I think people would benefit most. Being willing to think differently about what they think the problem actually is.

But thinking differently is not the same as learning more on a subject.

If you just learn more, you will try and add that new information to the old map!

People need to be willing to unlearn things first. To throw out the map, challenge first principles, mental models or world views. THAT is where big change takes place.

It’s about unlearning what you have learnt FIRST in order to be able to fully understand the problem. THEN you can look at actually solving the problem for good.

UNLEARNING is more challenging than learning. It requires a willingness to see through our own biases, inaccuracies, faulty logic and beliefs. It takes effort and reflection.  It’s often uncomfortable and takes going over information bit by bit until it starts to fall into place.

So I hope these emails challenge you. I want to stretch your thinking to put you in line with science. With that agility of thinking, and a new map, you will see you have more options.

Stuck yes. But not broken.

So here’s a word of advice as you read these emails  – ban the term ‘YEAH BUT….’.

When we hear something that doesn’t fit in with our beliefs, the easiest thing to do is discard it and find the simplest explanation that keeps our beliefs intact. Yeah but that success story never had what I had, yeah but my pain is different, yeah but my scan / test shows …, yeah but my doctor said, yeah but I tried X and it didn’t work, yeah but I’m a positive person so it’s not in my brain …….

Rather than defending you own beliefs (map), read with curiosity and openness to challenge your thinking.

This was a habit of Charles Darwin.

If he found information that didn’t fit in with his world view he gave it EXTRA special attention and made a note of it. He was willing to be wrong and curious where he might be.

So I would recommend to stay curious and be willing to change the way you think about your problem.

Read with curiosity, read with openness. If there is something that I cover that doesn’t match your beliefs – avoid the dead end statement of “yeah but” – and approach it with a willingness to explore.

For it is those who generate flexibility in thinking that get unstuck and flourish.

It may take some time and effort so it helps to stay focused on the reason why you would want to change –  flourishing health. Would you be willing to think differently for that?

So to begin to train that curious mind of yours read the following statements.

Notice if you respond with defence, curiosity or excitment. Progress goes to those most willing to change – starting with their thinking.

1. When you step on a nail, the pain ALWAYS starts in the brain BEFORE it is felt in the foot. 

Read it again. Does that challenge you just a little?Yes I am talking about all YOUR pain.  It’s always generated in the brain first.

That Neuroscience Nugget should challenge you but in time as you come to understand the concept, it will change everything when it comes to chronic pain.

Curious? Defensive? Holding onto that old map? It’s challenging isn’t it.

– – –

2. Why do we feel fatigued with a flu? 

How does the little virus steal our energy? It doesn’t. The fatigue is you. It’s our response to the viral threat and part of our immune protection response to stop us from running around. The biological energy is always there but the fatigue ensures we put our resources into our immune system.

So you can have biological energy AND experience fatigue at the same time.

Once you understand this, then Post Viral Fatigue Sydndrome makes sense. Our nervous system is still protecting us from a threat that has passed.

If you believe fatigue means you don’t have biological energy it’s time for a new map. It might be worth reading that concept again. If your assumption is that fatigue means an absence of biological energy, it is definitely time to think differently.

Fatigue is not a depletion of energy. That Neuroscience Nugget is gold if you know what to do about it.

I’m not suggesting ignoring fatigue and pushing through. There’s a brick wall waiting there. I’m suggesting understanding it first.

Curious? Excited? Challenged?

– – –

3. Depression – All in the genes?

If the historic disease model of depression is accurate (genetics or a chemical imbalance) then why has there been a radical increase in youth depression over the last decade and why is depression and ‘mental health issues’ rising with the Covid-19 crisis? Genetic / chemical causes don’t increase under those circumstances.

There are things you can do if you stop seeing depression as a ‘thinking issue’ or out of your control.


4. CHEMO FATIGUE – a new map!

Following chemotherapy, fatigue and brain fog are common complaints. The advice used to be ‘take it easy and rest’. Now we have a better understanding that fatigue is about threat not an absence of energy. The current advice is to exercise because the previous advice to rest contributed to ongoing post-chemo fatigue. We had to put the old map down to see it though. CHEMO FATIGUE

– – –
5. If anxiety is a ‘thinking issue’ why do people talk about using yoga, running or diet to ‘cure it’.

Curious? What if Anxiety is not a thinking problem at all. What if anxious thoughts are a consequence of another issues.

Curious? That is my goal.

Ready to think differently in the pursuit of progress? Stay curious. These ideas based on current neuroscience are fascinating and open up a new world of options for treating very common and serious conditions.

Stay open to the idea that the way you have been thinking about your situation is part of the problem.

Are you ready to think differently?

Stay tuned for more unlearning opportunities in future emails.

Or if you’re wanting to know more NOW download the Lightning Process Audiobook. 

Lightning Process Trainings are now available every 2 weeks anywhere in Australia & NZ through live personal video conferences.

If you feel ready to approach your situation from a radically different perspective simply email me to arrange a chat.

Otherwise – stay curious!

Don’t curse the wall you hit.
Update your map!


Lightning Process Now ONLINE!

April 24, 2020IanUncategorizedComments Off on Lightning Process Now ONLINE!

Lightning Process now ONLINE!

Due to current restrictions I am temporarily offering all Lightning Process trainings through a video conferencing format (Aust & NZ only).

As many of you are at home at the moment it could be a great opportunity to read up on the concepts behind the training to decide if it makes sense to you and your situation.

So over the next few weeks I will be sending out a series of emails.

I will be exploring some critical neuroscience principles and core concepts the Lightning Process is based on.

I will discuss neuroplasticity, the role of stress physiology, the impact of trauma on the nervous system and the neurobiology of pain & fatigue. Some people will be offended by these topics because it sounds like I’m suggesting it’s ‘all in the head’. I’m not – but I won’t shy away from discussing these critical concepts.

I’ll explore how the brain & the body influence each other and the impact we can have on our health by not just understanding this relationship  – but harnessing it.

If you believe things are either physical OR psychological, that the brain plays no role in your health, or ‘there is no cure’ then this isn’t the place for you.

If you decide to subscribe, my aim is not to convince you to do the Lightning Process. I merely hope to explain a neuroscience & brain health model of common health conditions and the concepts behind the work I do.

It will be up to you what happens next.

If you stick around I’ll cover topics such as


The #1 thing standing between you and FULL recovery 

Why Neuroplasticity is considered the greatest medical discovery in the last 400years

How good management techniques can take people further from recovery.

Why everything you know about pain & fatigue is outdated. And why that’s the most exciting news you could get today!

Why severity & duration have little to do with the possibility, the ease or the speed of recovery. (Because it’s not a ‘healing’ journey but retraining one)


I hope the emails that follow give insight into a radically new way of seeing common chronic illnesses and don’t just give hope but a real understanding that change IS possible.

If you can’t wait for the coming emails and want something to do now here are some suggestions.

LISTEN to a Podcast interview I did a while back.

WATCH Norman Doidge the ‘Father of Neuroplasticity’ describe the brain’s remarkable capacity to adapt and change with experience or imagined experience.

Or simply EMAIL to arrange a time to chat.

WHAT determines HOW

April 16, 2020IanUncategorizedComments Off on WHAT determines HOW

‘WHAT’ determines the ‘HOW’

Understanding pain & fatigue is the critical first step.

When someone is suffering from Chronic Pain or Chronic Fatigue the obvious question is ‘HOW’ do I recover? More important than HOW, is the more fundamental question – WHAT?

WHAT is pain / WHAT is fatigue.

The answer is counter-intuitive, challenging and a breakthrough in neuroscience. However once you understand the WHAT you can then move to the HOW.

Management can be put aside and recovery can be the focus.

PAIN is not a sign of damage and FATIGUE is not a lack of energy. Understanding these jarring yet fundamental neuroscience principles answer the WHAT.

With a solid understanding of WHAT then you can move to the important HOW.

Sam’s success story hints at the importance of this concept
“The way the LP views conditions like CFS was unlike anything I’d read online, but to me it was the most logical.”

Read her full story here …..


Lightning Process for Migraines & Headaches – Dave’s Story

March 11, 2020IanChronic Pain/ Fibromyalgia, Inspirational & General Interest, Success StoriesComments Off on Lightning Process for Migraines & Headaches – Dave’s Story

I’ve used the Lightning Process to not just get my life back again but to get an even better one

Since my late teens I suffered reasonably bad headaches, normally once a week. I took pain relief and could generally carry on with life. As these things ran in my family I wasn’t overly concerned. However, as I got older I noticed things were gradually getting worse: headaches once a week turned into twice a week, the headache that never lasted more than a day was now with me the following day, the intensity of the pain was increasing and more things seemed to be a trigger e.g. light, physical exercise, food,  socialising, work etc. Over time I realised that my condition wasn’t “normal” and over the years I exhausted every avenue looking for a cause and cure – both conventional and alternative. I visited doctors, neurologists, pain specialists, liver specialists, chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, dentists; I went on strict diets, tried supplements and vitamins etc – the list is endless. I had many tests done but nothing much could be found that was wrong with me – which on the one hand was good but, on the other, was terrible because I was clearly very unwell but unable to do anything about it. Most practitioners had opinions on what was wrong with me (albeit without much evidence) but their treatments never worked for me. Neurologists told me I simply suffered from “classic migraine” and that it was genetic.

After 30 years my condition got to the point where I was suffering from daily, chronic migraines. I was generally confined to my house and lived a life in pain. On the rare occasions I met friends and family I mostly managed to put a smile on my face and played down the seriousness of my condition. Whilst most knew I “suffered from headaches”, very few understood the extent of the problem. I continued visiting my neurologist to try “the next drug on the list” – but by this time I had pretty much given up of ever finding a cure.

A friend in the UK had used the Lightning Process to cure her ME many years ago and recommended I try it. As I was trying other treatments at the time, it was about a year later that I finally looked into it. I was impressed that it was based upon the latest scientific facts about how the brain and pain works. The more I looked into it and read the testimonials of how it had worked for others I was starting to think that it could work for me too. I was eager to start the training…

It’s now been 6 months since the training and how my life has changed since then! To be more accurate, I had lost my life but now I’ve used the Lightning Process to not just get my life back again but to get an even better one. Simple things I could never do before I can now do easily, like mowing the lawn or washing the car etc. I love to ride my bike every morning and every evening I enjoy a 30 min walk – things that would have previously been impossible. A whole new world has been opened up to me – one which can now be enjoyed (and planned) with friends and family – kayaking, karting, playing squash, visiting the beach, enjoying nature, holidays etc. In short, I find enjoyment in everything I do – I’m happy, energetic, confident and calm. I no longer take any medication and the occasional headache is minor, soon passes and doesn’t interrupt my life. I am seeing this improve as I continue to use the Lightning Process and expect them to eventually disappear altogether.

Friends and family can’t believe how much I’ve changed and my wife says it’s like getting the “old me” back again, only improved! The transformation is nothing short of remarkable and I am so grateful to be one of those now writing a testimonial.

I am so thankful I came across the Lightning Process and thankful to Ian Cleary, who was excellent during the training and helpful and insightful after it.

If you are reading this and are desperate to get your life back then do it, it can work for you too!


Interested in talking to Ian Cleary about the Lightning Process for migraines? Contact him today for a free consultation.

Does Pain = Damage & Fatigue = No Energy?

October 23, 2019IanUncategorizedComments Off on Does Pain = Damage & Fatigue = No Energy?
If you are struggling with chronic pain or chronic fatigue I hope this post changes EVERYTHING!
If you believe that Pain = Damage or Fatigue = No Energy please read right through.
One of the reasons we have misunderstood chronic pain and chronic fatigue is that up until recently we have fundamentally misunderstood ALL pain and ALL fatigue. We thought:


pain = damage
fatigue = no energy
The breakthroughs in the fields of pain and fatigue science are revolutionary, profound and best of all, open up treatment options to those stuck in chronic pain or chronic fatigue.
BUT……… it starts with changing your thinking.
From the ‘eureka moments’ that occurred in labs in Oxford England in the 1960’s, to the slow ripple effect into research and experiments, long term studies and increasing technical advances in neurology and brain and body scans. It took over 50 years to change our understanding of pain and fatigue and the critical role of the BRAIN. But it doesn’t have to take YOU 50 years to figure that out or even 1 year. It just requires you to put aside everything you already think about pain and fatigue and look with fresh eyes. Just like the pioneering scientists before us, it helps to be curious and ask better questions. Are you curious?
Here are some examples that show how the old models of “pain = damage” and “fatigue = no energy” make no sense.
  • Doctors once believed that osteoarthritis was ‘wear and tear’ (‘bone on bone’) yet one of the most effective treatments is exercise. How can exercise make the pain go away if the pain is ‘caused’ by structural damage? Pain isn’t about structural damage. It’s something else. Curious?
  • If fatigue = no energy, why can marathon runners create energy by merely swishing energy drinks in their mouth to fool their brain?
  • The worst symptom of chemotherapy is often crushing fatigue and chemo brain (brain fog). Patients were thought to be run down so told to rest. This didn’t change anything and often set up long periods of fatigue AFTER full recovery. YET when patients exercised during therapy this had a noticeable improvement on fatigue and cognitive function. How can exercise improve fatigue if it = no energy? Exercise is now prescribed for Chemo fatigue. Curious?
  • How can a man come into a dentist with a mild toothache and an X-ray reveal a 6 inch nail embedded there? Yes this happened.
  • Why do suffers of depression regularly experience debilitating fatigue? If fatigue = no energy – What happened to it?
  • If pain = damage how can an amputee feel pain in a leg they don’t even have? NO damage as no leg!
  • If fatigue = no energy, why does long periods in bed after an injury often create fatigue? How can not using energy cause a lack of energy?
  • If someone is suffering from deep grief they often feel fatigued. If fatigue = no energy, who stole the energy?
  • Why, if you take a scan of healthy 50 year olds, 60% show bulging discs, YET they are perfectly healthy and no back pain. We would now say ‘slipped discs’ are a myth.
  • If back pain = damage, why is mood and stress the biggest predictor of a back pain event?
  • A man looses his leg from shark attack but feels nothing until he gets to shore. Damage but no pain.
  • Why do we wake up energetic yet the act of sleeping uses about 370 calories – the equivalent of a half hour cross-country run? How can we wake up having USED energy but feel fresh and energetic? Curious.
  • If pain means damage and damage means pain, why can some people have pain-free births, yet for the same person a paper cut is excruciating?
  • How can a pill with no medicine (a placebo) turn off pain? How can a pill with no medicine have pain as a nasty side effect (nocebo)?
  • How can healthy athletes instantly loose 12% energy capacity just by seeing a frowning face?
  • How can a patient under hypnotherapy have teeth removed with no anaesthetics and yet feel no pain.
  • How can two people have identical injuries that heal, yet one is back on their feet in no time and the other is stuck in life long pain?
  • How can merely reading fatigue related words slow someone’s speed of movement?
  • How can telling someone they haven’t had enough sleep (when they have) trigger fatigue and physical impairment?
  • Why does merely seeing another person move, trigger pain in some people?
  • How can long periods of poor sleep cause all over body pain. Did they injure themselves through lack of sleep?
  • Why does emotional pain and physical pain look identical in brain scans?
  • Why does a period of stress often flare the pain of an old injury? It can’t be about damage. Curious
  • Why do we feel fatigued when we have a virus. Did the virus steal our energy? What did it do with all that energy?
These finding are curious ONLY if you see pain = damage and fatigue = no energy. YET modern pain and fatigue science says all these things make perfect sense when you understand what pain and fatigue actually is and the brain’s critical role.
These breakthroughs offend some BUT only if you think neurological = all in the head (or not real).
All pain and fatigue are real. They just aren’t what we thought. For all people, pain and fatigue get turned on when the BRAIN detects a potential threat. Their purpose is to get our attention, to get us to stop, slow down or change what we are doing. They are turned on to PROTECT us. Always real AND always constructed first in the brain as a protective responses. From the fatigued marathon runner, to the exhausted flu sufferer, to the injured football player or arthritis sufferer. All pain and fatigue are neurological protection responses.
PAIN AND FATIGUE ARE PROTECTIVE NEUROLOGICAL RESPONSES – The brain obviously take into account what’s going on in your body, but also your environment, your past experiences, your mood, your thoughts and beliefs, your stress. All these things influence how the brain decides whether to protect us by turning on a real pain or real fatigue experience.
So that’s ALL people and all pain and fatigue.
If these responses go for long enough, then changes take place in the brain and nervous system so the pain and fatigue continue long after needed. This is a process called Neuroplasticity. The brain has changed and adapted – some times long after injuries have healed, viruses gone or threats past.
So taking Post Viral Fatigue as an example. A virus enters the system and the person is so weak that a short walk to the bathroom destroys them. It not the virus that ‘drained the energy’. The brain detected a threat (the virus) so turned on fatigue to slow us down to allow our immune system to work well. The fatigue protects us from doing too much. In time the virus is properly dealt with but the fatigue, (that was created by us all along) can get stuck on. So what was originally useful, becomes unnecessary. Still just as real as in the beginning but now no longer appropriate. We are stuck in a post-viral fatigued state. The brain and body are still fighting and protecting long after it’s needed.
So recovery is not a healing journey but a retraining of the brain and nervous system.
Challenged? So were decades of scientists. But to no longer take into account the critical role of the brain is only slowing down people’s ability to look at treatment options they haven’t considered.

Physical or Psychological?

Is it physical or psychological – that is the question!

Well actually – It’s NOT the question. It hasn’t been for a while thanks to how we have moved on from our understanding of health. The division between conditions being physical (in the body) and real OR psychological (and somehow less real), never actually explained the human condition but we ran with that understanding for a few hundred years.

Now we have a much better understanding of health, which has opened up new and fresh treatment options for people struggling with their health. However most of us grew up with that old ‘physical vs psychological’ mindset, and it lingers in how we view health.

More importantly, the issue with the ‘physical vs psychological’ mindset, is that is limits options.

Because the LP looks at things like stress, thoughts, emotions and the role the brain plays in health, it was once assumed we thought conditons like fibromyalgia or ME/CFS were ‘all in the head’ and people were rightly angry that anyone could suggest this.

Luckily so much has changed from that dualistic view of health. We can now have much more meaningful and useful discussions by looking at health in a broader context.

This was a theme of a recent talk I gave on Chronic Pain. I’ll link to a recording at the end.

Your understanding of what the problem is determines your approach to solving it. Broadening your understanding broadens your options.

So for those who used to see anxiety as ‘all in the head’, they would pursue traditional psychotherapy on the assumption it was a ‘thinking problem’. Psychotherapy did have some success but so does yoga, exercise and breathing exercises. ‘All in the head?’ – Good luck trying to tell someone having a panick attack it’s all in their head. It’s a treatment limiting label.

The same applies to pain and fatigue conditions. Traditionally we saw them as purely physical so we would chase the physical cause. I call this the ‘Find it and Fix it’ model. While this also saw some successes most people in Chronic Pain were left managing their condition, rather than actually solving it.

In the last decade we have come to understand the role the brain plays in many conditions such as pain & fatigue. All pain and fatigue. Even if you break your leg and there is swelling and blood, modern pain science would say that the pain message is being generated neurologically (in the brain) to get your attention and protect you. Similarly, if a marathon runner runs their absolute best and collapses at the finish line – they have not run out of energy. The fatigue is partly being generated neurologically to protect the runner from using up all their biological energy store. You will often see a marathon runner, stand up then run a lap of honour. There’s still energy in the system.

So by being able to discuss pain and fatigue AND the brain, without the historic implications that this means ‘not real’ we have been able to make incredible progress in treating chronic illness.

This understanding has transformed treatment options. Now when cancer patients go through chemotherapy and are struck by crippling chemo fatigue and mental fatigue (chemo brain), we know this is not a running out of batteries but a neurological response to the process of undergoing cancer treatment. So in the past we would have seen fatigue as ‘no energy’ so suggested to ‘carefully managing their energy’ or ‘take it easy and rest’. Now we know this is detrimental advice and that moving the body through exercise is a better approach to this neurally generated fatigue.

By understanding the role the brain AND the body plays in states of pain, fatigue, fear and trauma, we open up treatment options. It does require us to think differently but that increases treatment options.

This was the subject of a recent lecture I gave in New Zealand last month. The lecture is not so much about my work with the Lightning Process, but highlights the change in focus that has occurred in the pain sciences. (I touch briefly on my work towards the end.) If you are suffering from chronic pain (or know someone suffering from chronic pain) it is so important to better understand the role the brain plays, as it instantly opens up options you may not have considered before.

Another thing that has changed significantly in the last decade, is the awareness of how the brain changes with ongoing experience – whether that expreince is learning an instrument, learning to juggle, practiced meditation or living with ongoing states of pain, fatigue, fear or stress. All these things change our brains.

This is why NEUROPLASTICITY is regarded as the greatest medical breakthrough in the last 400 years. NEUROPLASTICITY explains a mechanism how people get stuck in states of pain, fatigue, fear, sadness, guilt, stress AND also hints at the way out of those states.

As Norman Doidge, ‘the father of Neuroplasticity’ says, “It’s Neuroplasticity that got you into this mess, and it’s neuroplasticity that will get you out”.

That is what the Lightning Process is – a health focused training utilizing the brains ability to change back.

If you are interested in updates on modern pain science & neuroplasticity you can listen to my recent lecture “UCOL PUBLIC LECTURE SERIES – UNDERSTANDING PAIN & NEUROPLASTICITY.

Pain & Neuroplasticity Lecture

“I believe the first step to beat chronic pain is to understand it.”

I was recently asked to speak on Chronic Pain as part of the UCOL Public Lecture Series.

The audio is not great but here is the lecture. It might stretch you but as I point out, that’s a good thing.

While the talk was not about my Lightning Process work, having an update on modern pain science helps explain the Lightning Process approach.


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