Teen Sexting - A Criminal Offence

02 Oct

This report states that both young men and women experience peer pressure to share sexual images of themselves in the phenomenon known as 'Sexting'. The study highlighted the pressure young people experienced from their peers to engage in sexting and the importance of their voice in developing ways to prevent and deal with the problem.  

Boys can be ostracised by their peers or called 'gay' if they fail to participate and show their friends images of girls on their phone or computer. Girls also feel under pressure to share images of themselves, especially if they have also viewed images of girls they know. A US survey found over 51% of girls had sent sexy images or messages as a result of pressure from a guy. 

However, this is not just harmless fun between teenagers. Some young people have been charged with child pornography (in 2007, 32 teens in Victoria, Aus were charged with child pornography offences) and placed on the sex offenders list for having explicit photos of young teens on their phone or computer. It is illegal to have a naked or semi-naked photo of someone under 18 on your phone or computer, to forward it to someone else and you can be charged even if the photo is of yourself and you agree to it being sent. Most young people are probably unaware of this and that a pressing 'send' could have devastating consequences for them and their lives. 

What may have started out as an exchange between two people can end up being shared between many at a school or even worse on the internet, with some even making their way onto porn sites. One girl's images ended up being shared around local schools and she was harassed, called names and bullied thereafter resulting in her commiting suicide. 

Young people are under pressure to fit in with the group, to do what their peers do so as they are not ostracised, excluded, teased, made fun of or laughed at etc. It can be a very powerful force that seems to make people do things against their better judgment and which if left to their own devices they may not choose to do. They may feel that it is not right for them, that they are not really comfortable with it and yet they feel forced or compelled to go along with it.

It takes a strong teenager to be able to say no to peer pressure, someone who has the self respect and self honouring to listen to what they truly feel and follow that - rather than the external pressure to conform. Perhaps the best thing we could teach young people would be to listen to what they really feel and to honour that, to be able to say no and stick with it. To know that even if that meant losing a few so called 'friends' that would not be the end of the world - for a true friend would respect your choice and not force you to do something against your will. 

There is of course more to the underlying reasons that young people engage in sexting. It is a way of seeking intimacy without actually forming an intimate relationship, without taking the risks that would potentially involve of being rejected or getting hurt. The desire to avoid being hurt or rejected can lead people into all sorts of difficulties when it comes to relationships - something perhaps many of us can relate to in one way or another.

However, imagine if we instead empowered young people to feel and know first not just that they are worth loving but that they are in fact love and to honour that by being self-loving, self-honouring, self-respecting. In that way they can feel for themselves the true harm of sexting and that it is coming from an emptiness and the seeking of love, affection and intimacy but in a way that is not true.  The more they realise, know and live that they are love, the more they will be open to forming an intimate relationship with another who is also self-respecting, self-honouring and self-loving. 

However, it is not just about teaching it but living it - not just talking the talk but walking the talk.  Thus a more powerful way for young people to learn from parents, teachers, relatives etc  is by how we treat them, how we are with them, by how we listen and respond to them, whether we truly see and 'meet' them, respect them or ignore them, dismiss them, talk down to them etc. It is for each of us to live in a self-loving, self-caring way ourselves and to offer that way of being to young people by reflection that they may choose it for themselves. 

Feel free to share your comments or insights re teen sexting.

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05 Apr

Self-care for Medical Students: Reflection by Nicola McFarlane..

 

The module was the top of my list when I made my SSC choices because I always like to try a module that offers a different aspect of the medical course.  I like to have a wide variety of knowledge and am always open to new ideas and I thought this module would offer me an insight into things I had not experienced before.  In terms of my own self care I was interested to see how well I was really looking after myself and to see how I could improve.  In terms of my future patients, I wanted to be able to offer advice not just based on drugs and conventional medicine, but to be able to help them in other ways which may or may not have been taught on the current medical curriculum.  We are taught that the patient is more than just their condition and that in order to be a good doctor we must treat the whole patient, but I was still unsure as to what this meant before I began the self care module.  Another reason the module appealed to me was because it was coordinated by a doctor.  This was quite important for me because as a doctor I knew Eunice would be able to relate more than most people to the problems medical students and doctors encounter which prevent them from being self caring. 

At the beginning of the module, we were faced with a question on what self care meant to us.  Looking back at what I wrote, having come to the end of the module,  I found it interesting to see just how little I knew about self care before.  To me self care meant looking after myself mentally and physically because to look after other people, I had to be healthy myself.  A healthy lifestyle for me meant eating the right amounts of different foods to maintain a balanced diet, getting about 8 hours of sleep per night, exercising regularly and having time to wind down and relax.  All these things are obviously very true however I have come to realise self care is so much more than those basics.  The aspects I have chosen to reflect on are diet and sleep because I feel learning about and changing these have had the biggest impact for me.

Diet

I consider myself to have a healthy diet.  I cook everything myself from scratch so I know exactly what goes in my food and I eat as little fat and sugar as possible.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy coke, popcorn and chocolate at the cinema every now and then but in general I’m not a fan of take aways or any other food that has high fat, high salt contents which make me feel quite ill soon after eating them.  Over the past few years however, I have developed what can only be described as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, after ruling out other causes.  I didn’t suffer greatly with it at first but after some months it became so bad I had no confidence when going out anywhere, opting for jeans and a top rather than a dress which showed just how bloated I was every time I ate a meal.  I was in pain after eating, had altered bowel habits and yet I couldn’t work out what it was that was causing the discomfort.  I tried eating more fibre, taking fibre supplements and more recently have moved on to peppermint oil before meals but nothing seemed to be working.  During the self care module we explored the pros and cons of different foods and I realised there might have been a link with something in my diet and my bowel problems.  I tried making a change in my diet for about 5 days at a time and didn’t initially see any benefit with the exclusion of gluten or wheat but I did notice a difference when I eliminated dairy from my diet.  I didn’t actually realise how many times a day I took dairy products until I was consciously making the decision to stop them and I found it difficult at first, but after a few days of eating my meals and not feeling as sore and bloated afterwards, I realised there was a link between the dairy products and the way I was feeling.  The changes, despite being small have been very evident to me but I know I will not see major results until I continue for another while and my body is completely dairy free.  Because dairy was the last thing I tried to eliminate I am still on my dairy free diet and intend on staying dairy free as much as possible.  It is difficult when you’re out for dinner or when someone makes you tea and serves it with milk, but I know it will just make me feel unwell if I take it and on occasion I’ll most likely just put up with it.

Caffeine was another major problem for me with me consuming around 12 cups of tea a day.  I really enjoy the taste of tea and always thought I mainly took it for the taste, but after some experimenting with decaffinated tea over the module I have discovered my need for tea is very much a caffeine addiction, regardless of how much I enjoy it.  We were given the option of having deccaffinated tea during the break each day and I decided to take a break just once each day to test out what other kinds of tea I could potentially enjoy.  This led to me slowly cutting my caffeine intake each day by 2-3 cups and having a decaffinated version instead.  I still have my cup of caffeine in the morning but eventually I would like to be able to enjoy tea without the caffeine addiction.

Sleep

Growing up I never had a good sleep pattern.  Music, figure skating and voluntary commitments meant my homework and studying was often started at 8 or 9pm each night, finishing at around 2am with me getting about 4 or 5 hours sleep before getting up to do it all again the next day.  Looking back now I can see how unhealthy it was and how exhausted I always felt, yet it has continued like that ever since.  I always considered myself to be my best and most productive at night time and yet during this module I have discovered that it is not actually the case.  We learnt that the optimum time to go to sleep is 9pm according to our physiological body clock.  To me this is not practical with the modern way of life, however I did decide I was going to get into bed around 10pm to read a book and try and get to sleep earlier each night, setting my alarm 45 minutes earlier than usual in the morning to try and get into a new routine.  At first despite getting into bed to wind down it took me a long time to fall asleep, but after a few days of an earlier alarm I felt increasingly tired after just a few pages of my book at night.  Soon after starting the change in routine and going to bed earlier I discovered I was actually waking up before my alarm every morning, something which I never managed before.  I began to see the benefit in the new routine; I now had time to make and eat breakfast in the morning rather than doing the usual of throwing some tea into a travel mug and running out the door. I made healthy filling lunches to do me later in the day and I didn’t feel stressed by the time I got to where I was meant to be.  There have been exceptions over the past few weeks where I have gone to bed extremely late and as a result have either struggled to get out of bed when my alarm has gone off or I’ve just slept through it completely and obviously these will continue due to modern life and busy schedules, but in general I have now made the decision to continue with the routine as much as possible because the benefits definitely outweigh any social implications.

Overall I greatly enjoyed this module and found it a lovely change from the normal clinical side to the medical course.  I was able to take time out to explore what was best for me and I know I will be able to incorporate this new knowledge in my life from now on.

So lovely to hear the

So lovely to hear the openness to experimenting with a few changes and to hear the impact these had for Nicola. Our body and listening to it is so very important and I would imagine that a tough,busy schedule such as that of a, medical student, makes this a challenge at times. On the flip side, taking care of ourselves is the true support required when in such a schedule. Awesome to bring this into awareness for these students.
19 Mar

Self-care for Medical Students: Reflection by Amy Irvine..

Amy Irvine - My Journey in Self-care

Throughout this SSC, I have been mentally stimulated and challenged in ways that I have not been accustomed to with other modules in medical school. This has served as a pleasant change from the scientific nature of clinical based modules and I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the module and the thought-provoking concepts that have been discussed. I initially ranked this SSC moderately high out of a combination of curiosity, the yoga component and the reasonable workload. On further thought this might have also been due to my instinctive nature to assign my mental and emotional health a high priority. This has been the case for many years as I have closely observed the detrimental effects that not looking after psychological health has had on members of my family.

During the initial introductory session we were asked to write down what self-care means to us and measures we currently take to self-care. I found the concept of self-care hard to articulate as it encompasses many different areas and our teaching until present had not encouraged any thought on it. At the beginning of this module, my concept of self-care consisted of a state of mental and physical well-being including emotional stability and awareness. The end point of successful self-awareness would be calmness in your soul and peacefulness in your heart with the ability to rise to and deal with challenges. Measures I previously took to self-care were exercise, formation and maintenance of good relationships with friends and family and what I considered to be a relatively healthy diet. I also try to learn something from every experience; both good and bad, and use this to help in the future.  I identified areas that I needed to improve my self-care; a tendency to undereat when stressed and to dwell on past issues. Consequently, the main elements I wanted to get out of participation in this module were to learn simple techniques to improve my self-care and to identify and improve areas in which I lack self-care.

Diet:

As mentioned previously, I would have described my diet as moderately healthy and I have been making small changes to improve it since moving away from home 3 years ago. I buy lots of fresh vegetables each week and choose lean meats such as turkey to form the basis of most meals. I do not buy crisps or confectionary and consumption of carbohydrates is limited to brown rice/pasta/bread. However for self-experimentation I chose to give up bread and rice completely at the start of week 2 after my colleagues delivered a presentation on the detrimental effect gluten has on your body. Dr Minford also highlighted the possible relationship between gluten and migraines and so (as a migraine sufferer) I thought this was worth the effort to observe any beneficial result. I struggled with this dietary change more than I had anticipated and after discussion in class I realized that although my intake of these foods was low and I felt no cravings as such, the momentum of my lifestyle was what proved hard to overcome. I had to adjust components of the meals I was so used to making and replace the rice/bread with a substitute. The observations I noted within my body started almost immediately with respect to how I felt after a meal. I had subconsciously normalized feeling ‘’sleepy’’ after dinner, and now I certainly noticed a lack of that sleepy feeling. Now, 10 days on, that has developed into an energy and as a consequence I am more productive after I eat dinner.

Yoga:

Having previously attended a yoga class, I was somewhat familiar with the basic movements and principles but nothing more. I was looking forward to our first yoga class and was intrigued to see if there would be any difference from being from a self-care perspective. Initially, I found it hard to relax as I am usually quite rushed in the morning and my mind is busy planning the day ahead but once I had achieved a sense of calm I was able to maintain it quite well. On moving my arms up and down gently I was shocked at how heavy they felt and it startled me to think how little I notice the weight of my arms throughout the day. Moving on from attempting to be at one with our bodies, I thoroughly enjoyed the sequence of movements and was able to remember it easily and so focus my mind on the fluidity of the actions and the stretch in my body. After each set I felt my muscles loosen up and was more comfortable moving between the positions. After the exercise, I had difficulty relaxing and was easily distracted by the sound of someone snoring. The next yoga session one week later had a larger focus on conscious presence, gentle breath meditation and body scanning. I knew I was much more unsettled from the offset and consequently found it very difficult to relax and concentrate on becoming at one with my body. At the next session I prepared by going to bed early and trying to remain gentle and not rush throughout the morning. I felt this hugely benefited as I fell into relaxation quicker than before and was able to maintain it for most of the session. Overall, I really enjoyed these yoga classes with the emphasis put on gentle movements and would consider taking another yoga course in the future. 

The culture of medicine:

This module prompted me to think a lot about the working environment that I am beginning to be exposed to. My initial desire to study medicine was fuelled by my interest in science, love of interacting with people and aspirations to succeed. I never doubted my suitability for this career or gave thought to the impact it may have on me. After discussing in class the nature of the culture of both medical school and the career, it highlighted a few interesting points for me. Medicine is demanding, stressful, unforgiving and based on an altruistic manner. The proportion of doctors who suffer from substance abuse, alcoholism and have attempted suicide is much higher than the general population and other professions. I had not realized the advice coming directly from the GMC states that ‘Good doctors make the care of their patients their first concern’ - without mentioning ways to handle the effect this will certainly have on a persons self-care. This conflicting advice shocked me, how can doctors give a true quality of care without first having that care for themselves? The importance of self-care really hit home for me here. We will soon be entwined in a very toxic system and although there is some movement to change it, it will take time and the change must being with the people. At this stage in my life, exposure to toxic environments has been minimal but it is easy to see how quickly things escalate and I feel that I have learnt some very valuable lessons from taking this module.

Emotions:

The main learning point I took away from this module with regard to emotions was the harmful effect absorbing or reacting to other people’s emotional states and also the need to express our true thoughts and emotions. The exercise we did on empathy was interesting as it somewhat contradicted our previous teaching in medical school. As students we are told to empathize with patients, to put ourselves in their shoes in order to better understand the situation and comfort the patients. However, when we confronted our peer’s sad stories by just listening and being our loving selves they responded by saying that they felt comforted and listened to more so than when we were empathetic. Over the past week I have been applying this to conversations I have had with friends, and although they haven’t commented on my response, I feel the conversations have taken a positive direction. Another learning curve taken over the past few weeks was the realization that I can be fully in control of my emotions and do not have to let others actions dictate how I feel and react. Previously, when asked why I was angry, I would blame a person’s actions, or a particular situation. Now I am in the process of implementing the attitude that I alone am responsible for my emotions and I can control them (not without effort).

Overall, I found this self-care module to be exceptionally interesting as it challenged me to think outside of the conventional box on a whole variety of topics. It raised questions for me that perhaps touched on a nerve and gave me the opportunity to evaluate these in terms of my own self -care. Above all, it allowed me to see the importance of dedicating time and effort to taking care of my physical, mental and spiritual health as the cost of not doing so is too great to ignore.

03 Mar

Self-care for Medical Students: Reflection by Niamh Kelly..

Introduction

I choose the self-care module this term as the title stood out among all the ‘usual’ module choices.  While reading the abstract for the module the keywords ‘body awareness’, ‘holistic health’ and emotions/feelings’ struck a chord with me as I have always strived to understand more about myself and feel that self-care is something I could always improve on.

During the introduction day I defined self-care as ‘feeling good about oneself’, ‘relieving stress, worries and anxiety’ and ‘having a positive mental attitude’.  All of which I believe are important, however, my understanding of the meaning self-care has changed to encompass something much deeper and more fulfilling than these statements.  From a young age I have had some level of understanding about self-care which I feel that I have obtained through education at school and at home.  For example, I have always eaten well, maintained a moderate level of exercise and knew the importance of a good night’s sleep.  I therefore rated my current level of self-care at 6/10. However, having engaged in a self-care module I realise that my current level of self-care falls far short of this value and I am using this experience as a stepping stone to live and practice self-care.  I was shocked to learn on the first day that 1 in 2 GPS in the UK show features of burn out and realised that one day this could be me.  It seems completely unrealistic to think that a doctor who is not fully self-caring and self-loving can deliver true care to patients.  It is clear to me that we must begin with ourselves and learn how to be fully nurturing and loving before entering a world where we strive to deliver the best care we can for others.

Observations

Over the first week I practiced listening to my body and tuning into what it was really feeling.  I have noted even from before starting this course that I have an addiction to caffeine, sugar and bread and so I decided to experiment with myself in the first week and live without these.  I have often used these types of food as a reward or ‘treat’ for achieving targets.

Diet

The biggest sacrifice for me was caffeine- not only do I enjoy the taste but I love the uplifting feeling it gives you and the ‘kick’ it delivers.  Thankfully I do like herbal teas so I used these as a replacement for my usual cup of tea or coffee in the mornings and throughout the day.  It wasn’t long before I felt terrible and suffered from dull, unrelenting headaches a few days after not having any caffeine.  Being my usual medically orientated self I tried to explain the headache by some other logical explanation, until I accepted the obvious fact that I was experiencing withdrawal from caffeine.  I was shocked that a substance such as caffeine could make my body feel this way and knew that it could not be healthy for me.  We don’t always need research to prove something is bad for us; if we listened to our bodies we have all the evidence we need.

In class we had discussed the vicious cycle we can enter with caffeine; a concept that had never crossed my mind.  We drink caffeine during the day and get a poor night’s sleep.  Waking up the next day unrefreshed we rely on more caffeine to get us through the day- not having let our bodies achieve the full amount of rest it needs, and so the cycle continues.  This leads to the depletion of energy.  This made a lot of sense to me and I experienced this first hand in the second week.  I went for a coffee with a friend late in the evening; not because my body wanted the caffeine but to please my friend.  Although I enjoyed the coffee, I suffered the consequence of not being able to sleep that night and having a very unproductive following day. This had a knock on effect on me throughout the entire week and my reliance on caffeine increased.    

I lasted from Monday until Thursday without bread, benefitting from the lighter feeling that I had particularly after lunchtime, when I usually felt bloated and heavy after a sandwich or roll.  On Friday however, I went for lunch with a friend and had bread with my soup.  My body felt heavy and full and I felt ‘wiped out’ after this meal.  Doing a debate on the effects of wheat on the body helped to   confirm why my body felt this way after eating bread.  

Surprisingly sugar wasn’t as hard to cut out of my diet.  My usual craving for a sugary treat after dinner soon disappeared as I actually listened to my body and knew I was full.  An understanding behind why I enjoyed that sugary treat may lie in the fact that I stay up too late and my body gets tired and needs fuel to stay awake.

When preparing a meal I now think ‘what am I eating, why and how am I preparing it’.  

Self-care tools

I used ‘stop, connect’ feel’ when I was driving or just sitting doing work.  On several occasions I felt that my body was tense, especially my shoulders.  I also became aware that I was clenching my stomach in very tight.  By using this tool I was able to recognise these things and relax my body.  My favourite tool to use during the day is ‘conscious presence’. I understand the need for this mind- body connection in terms of the depletion of energy that occurs when our minds are elsewhere.  It was surprisingly difficult to use this tool even during simple tasks such as brushing my teeth or in the shower as I find myself relentlessly planning ahead or dwelling on the past.  It worked best when I was walking and I actually got a sense of happiness and I felt centred.  I understand that by using this on a day to day basis, we can remain fully present throughout the day in confidence. 

Self-talk

I have noted that my self-talk has been negative; something that I have struggled with for a long time.  I am my own worst enemy and tend to have a critical and judgemental inner voice that says things like, ‘You're lazy, unmotivated and not confident enough’.  I know that my negative self-talk comes from things which I have experienced in the past including failed family relationships and a family bereavement that has made me look at myself in a different light.  Realising that I am love and that I deserve to be loved will help me connect back to myself and to accept who I am in light of my past experiences.   

Challenges

I find that my challenges lie mostly in what other people think of me and the choices that I make.  I have come to realise that this comes from a lack of acceptance of myself and perhaps the lack of connection with my inner self.  For example, I often drink on nights out purely to be in with the crowd.  I also eat unhealthier if other people are indulging in treats such as chocolate.  I find it harder to make self-loving choices particularly about food when I am at home at the weekends.  Here, mum has bought plenty of bread and chocolate that is easy to access in a moment of weakness. Whereas, when I am living in Belfast I choose not to buy these things and therefore find it a lot easier to resist.  Another challenge that I face is my daily emotions.  I can be overcome at times with sadness and worry if other people think that I am a negative person.  I believe that I need to accept the past and allow myself to feel rather than think all of the time. 

Class

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the creative session the most in this module.  My initial reaction to this session was a feeling of dread and pessimism.  I have always felt like an ‘uncreative person’ and I was afraid of being embarrassed. However, I enjoyed making my collage of happy times and found it therapeutic and it brought me back to being a child again when I used to love doing arts and crafts.  I realised that I am open to try something different and was able to appreciate everyone and not compare myself.  My self-talk following this day was positive. 

The debate on alcohol highlighted for me how bad it actually is. ‘We only need one hangover to know alcohol is bad for us’.  This statement has stayed with me and reminds me that alcohol is something I should try my best to avoid.  I also enjoyed learning how the environment can influence our long-term health and enjoyed researching the ACE study.  I was not completely unaware that such things can affect health however; I have a greater understanding and awareness of this now.

Conclusion

This course has been an eye opener in terms of how important it is to love oneself and to live in a way that is nurturing and self-loving.  I understand the importance of trying to connect with our inner self and to remain present in everyday life to reduce the depletion of energy that this brings.  I plan to continue to practice and live the tools and techniques that I have gained in this module and ultimately be able to deliver the same quality of care to patients that I give to myself.    

I enjoyed reading your

I enjoyed reading your experience with self-care awareness very much Niamh. In parts they reminded me of my own journey down the self-care avenue. And yes, there have been bumps and predominantly self created obstacles but all in all it has been more than worth the effort! All the best in your pursuit of deepening the care and love of yourself.
23 Feb

Self-care for Medical Students: Reflection by Patrick Farrell..

 

Before starting the self-care SSC I had delved a little into the world of Buddhism, under the thinking that learning to meditate would bring me peace and direction as I was finding myself regularly frustrated and at a loss to what I was making of my life. I had only read in fits and starts and hadn’t given any real commitment to the idea. I therefore saw the self-care SSC as a chance to spring-board myself further into the realms of body awareness and living a life that would bring me joy. I would have had a lot of anger and frustration on a daily basis, and would have been very self-critical upon personal reflection. The idea of taking proper care of yourself and being true to yourself before dealing with other people really hit home for me.

The area that I feel I’ve made the most progress with over the 3 weeks has been my own self-belief and self-confidence to do the things that I feel are right for me. This began as early as the first week as I learnt the importance of observing rather than absorbing during my interactions with other people in my life. I had always found this a real drain on my motivation and enthusiasm on a daily basis. I have felt for too long that I was neglecting my own belief that it was important to speak only when you had something to say, rather than a constant babble of mainly nonsense chatter, and this was something I struggled to implicate in my living. From the confidence in my self-belief I was gaining each day I began to implement this into my daily life, and immediately felt a strong sense of satisfaction that I was being true to myself. I have always found that I prefer my own company more often than not and I felt liberated as I started to make more time for just me to be with me.

I began to implement several lifestyle changes and methods discussed in class into my own daily living. Over the 3 weeks I experimented with alcohol consumption, having a night out when I was completely sober and a night when I consumed alcohol. I found that I actually enjoyed the sober night more, I did largely similar things both nights, and woke up the next day with no feelings of regret or shame that were present upon waking up from the alcohol infused night. This experiment stemmed from our group discussion on alcohol consumption where I was arguing the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. I was troubled to learn that the alcohol was causing me to become a chemically-fuelled version of myself, and leading me away from making decisions based on what was best for me. I was drinking poison. I will certainly exercise strict control on the alcohol I consume and not see it as a necessary ingredient for a good time.

I found the gentle breath meditation, yoga and exercising of conscious presence invaluable tools to waking me up to how my body was feeling throughout the day, and I began to check in and reconnect more often with how I was getting on. I am quite inexperienced with these techniques of body awareness and still find it difficult to maintain my focus on the task at hand, but I have been bolstered by the small improvements I have made in not multi-tasking as often and trying to fully check-in to what I’m doing, so I am confident I will continue to improve with regular practice.

Even before I started the SSC I would have taken care to eat a nutritious selection of food, but I wouldn’t have paid attention to the finer details, that could be the cause of afternoon sluggishness, general tiredness and changes in mood I was often experiencing. This was the area that I struggled to observe changes in how I was feeling despite making a number of changes to what I was putting in my body. I will continue to experiment and observe and along with continued conscious presence I will be able to pick up on the subtler changes that I haven’t previously noticed. I managed to cut out caffeine and unnecessary added sugars in my diet quite successfully, again stemming from group discussions in class. Also the addition of more vegetables and fruits has been welcomed along with a greater enthusiasm improve my ability to cook a wider variety of my own food from fresh ingredients. This will be tested thoroughly as I begin my clinical attachment schedule again next week, but is something I feel is very important and I will devote a considerable amount of energy to tackle it successfully. 

I have been quite unsuccessful in adapting a new sleep routine of an earlier bedtime and a corresponding earlier wake-up time. I have felt this impact on my general tiredness throughout the day but feel it is the result of a long habit of neglecting sleep. I have been tired most days coming home from class which has sapped any enthusiasm to study in the afternoon, so I usually begin to study in the evening and consequently go to bed late then struggle to get out of bed in the morning. This is a cycle I aim to break out of and something I feel will be important not only for my general vitality but also my enthusiasm to make the most of each new day.

I saw a lot of sense in our teaching about love being the true energy of human beings, and how our actions in our past and present lives play a big part in what happens to us both now and in the future. From this I also learned the importance of living your life in the present moment and not wasting energy on dwelling on the past or looking into the future. I’d come to a point in my life a couple of years ago where I was looking for answers, feeling that I was letting life slip by without enjoying it. So I began to look for different sources of information away from traditional Christianity, and found books of Buddhism and enlightenment and they made sense. But my motivation for continuing further with my research was lacking and I felt as though again I was just sort of drifting through my days. I had great excitement therefore when I saw the details of this SSC, how it was a continuation of themes I’d been learning about and interested in, and after as little as the first few days I knew I was in the right place. I was being taken on steps further down the path of my own understanding, and the themes we discussed seemed to be familiar thoughts that I’d had before but had just forgotten or hadn’t fully formed. I certainly saw the utmost importance of taking care of yourself, and putting your own care at the top of your priorities.

I would probably say that the most dramatic change I’ve noticed over the 3 week period has been the vast increase in my own self-love, not in the sense of vanity, but rather my complete satisfaction to be exactly who I am. The genuine sense of joy that came just from being true to me was staggering. My critical self-talk stopped and my own self-belief grew and grew, as I finally realised that if I didn’t believe in myself how could I expect anyone else too. Admittedly it’s still an early stage, and my ability to care for myself is very inexperienced but it will only improve. I now feel armed with the tools that I need to make sure that I’m not neglecting my needs, that I am listening to my body and I have the courage and the belief to do what it asks. 

I loved reading your

I loved reading your reflections Patrick. Seeing how you approached these 3 weeks, experimenting with your new discoveries and sharing them honestly is deeply inspiring. I particularly like the parts when you say 'This is a cycle I aim to break out of' and 'my complete satisfaction to be exactly who I am.' - clear examples of your self empowerment. Stunning.

Reply to Patrick Farrell

This is a great blog to read, it's given me an altogether different view of doctors! Your depth of understanding is conveyed very well here, and so great that you are learning to feel the deeper side of life rather than run with the crowd. Thank you for stepping up to take self and patient care to another level. Ariana Ray, UK

Patrick

Thank you so much Patrick for sharing your reflections of the SSC. I found it such a beautiful blog to read. I love that you are discovering your self confidence and belief to be able to do the things that are right for me, not with any disrespect to anyone else, simply honouring the fact that you are tired or don't want to talk or go out sometimes. Wonderful examples. Thank you so much.

patricks reflection.

I love what you have written here Patrick and the way you write with such clarity. This bit; "I was being taken on steps further down the path of my own understanding, and the themes we discussed seemed to be familiar thoughts that I’d had before but had just forgotten or hadn’t fully formed." It feels to me like you received a lovely gift and by choosing to undertake this beautiful programme the gift was actually given to you by your self :-). it seems like a remembering rather than something new to learn which means that it must be something that is naturally within us waiting for us to reconnect to and reactivate should we choose to do so. I'd love to hear more.

self-care

I enjoyed immensely reading about your experience Patrick and all the little (big) steps that you have been making towards greater self-care during those 3 weeks. And it is absolutely wonderful to hear of your enthusiasm to continue to apply greater care for yourself so that in turn you can provide that same level of care to those you will be serving. All the best in your endeavour and if after all the years of you medical studies you don't feel that that's it - may I suggest you take up writing ;) It is absolutely beautiful. Thank you again.

This is awesome Patrick. A

This is awesome Patrick. A true confirmation that Self-care topics should be part of the curriculum for all medical students. Great work Eunice for introducing this. Just imagine if all health care professionals had a deeper understanding of self-care and what a difference it would make for their patients.

Patrick's reflection

What surprised me the most about Patrick's reflection was how quickly he could re-turn to living from this re-newed sense of self. After many years of being in the world without awareness of how he was living, without making self-loving choices; a brief introduction to self love techniques and 3 weeks later he is able to completely 'get it'. Now this gives me hope that humanity can make new choices, if people like Patrick are giving them the reflection of how they can care for themselves. So inspiring. Thank you to the Soulful Doctor and Patrick for continuing to build the wave of self care in medical training.
16 Feb

Self-care for Medical Students..

During the first three weeks of January I ran an SSC (student selected component) called "Self-care for Medical Students" for third year students. We are seeing unprecedented rates of burnout in the medical profession and the rates of addiction and suicide are higher than for the general population. Clearly something is amiss when those who are supposed to know about healthcare and wellbeing are in some ways worse off than those they are caring for. The culture of medicine is altruistic, with the GMC stating under professionalism that patients must always come first: 

“Patients need good doctors. Good doctors make the care of their patients their first concern: they are competent, keep their knowledge and skills up to date, establish and maintain good relationships with patients and colleagues, are honest and trustworthy, and act with integrity and within the law.” 

However, nowhere in this statement does it suggest or require that doctors should care for themselves. We cannot give what we do not have - and so it is vital that doctors know how to truly care for themselves so that they can provide that equal quality of true care for another. Many of the habits and coping skills or lack of them are established at medical school and thus it is important to make medical students aware of the importance of self-care. Indeed the earlier people receive this message in life the better, but that said, it is never too late to develop a more loving, tender and caring way with ourselves. One of the key principles of self-care is knowing that we are worthy of giving ourselves that love and kindness because we are in fact love, that is our essence. And so by reconnecting to this essence we can learn to be guided by our own innate wisdom, to listen to our bodies and how they feel rather than over-riding them with our minds to do things that are not truly caring for the body. 

Below I outline some of the topics and skills that were covered during the course but not all. Over the next number of weeks I will share (with their full permission) with you some of the reflections written by the medical students at the end of the module regarding their experience of putting self-care into practice. They were encouraged to see it as an experiment - to see themselves as a living science, making choices and observing the consequences of those choices on how they felt, their energy levels, their vitality, wellbeing and so forth. It was totally up to them which areas of their life they would focus on and bring a deeper level of self-care to and what changes they would make.  I very much enjoyed reading about their experiences and I'm sure you will too - stay tuned for more!  

 

Outline of Module

The module aims were to develop self-aware and self-caring medical students who provide true care to their patients by knowing it for themselves. It combined the intelligence of the mind and the wisdom of the heart. It is based on 3 key premises:

1) In order to deliver true care to another, one must first deliver that care to one’s self in equal measure. We cannot give what we do not have.

2) Each of us is worthy of giving deep love, care and tenderness to one’s self.

3) Choices of daily living are a great form of medicine, leading to improved self-care.

 

Topics covered included:

1)    Who is the self that is being cared for in self-care?

2)    What are the stressors and barriers to self-care in the medical profession?            Exploring the psychoemotional world of doctors.

3)    Holistic and energetic understanding of the human person.

4)    Exploring how mind, body, heart, spirit and soul interconnect.

5)    Learning to read your body – the body as an honest marker of disharmony

6)    Effect of emotions of physical health and wellbeing.

7)    Psychoneuroimmunology, epigenetics and psychosomatic medicine.

8)    Diet, sleep, exercise, work, energetic state of being: impact on health.           Developing routine and rhythm.

9)    Health Myths.

10) Promoting peer support, having a GP and accessing appropriate care.

 

Practical Sessions:

1)    Energetic awareness

2)    Gentle Breath Meditation

3)    Body awareness – yoga

4)    Conscious presence – mind/body awareness and connection

5)    Gentleness in action

6)    Walking the talk

7)    Role play – compassionate presence

If you would like more information on the selfcare module then please just email me or use the contact box.

The next posts over the coming weeks will be from some of the students reflections on their experience of the module and putting the understandings and tools for self-care into practice.  

This is such an amazing

This is such an amazing initiative and one that should be incorporated in all schools and universities.

Self-care for Medical Students

It is so lovely to read about this initiative. As a young medical student and doctor I felt crushed by the demands of the system, and to know that there is at least one person who is willing to make it about love above all else,and to change the system from within, brings tears of joy to my eyes. Thank you, Eunice.

It is so refreshing to read

It is so refreshing to read this Eunice. How super important it is to have the professionals that are taking care of us, also taking true care of themselves. So often is the case that they leave themselves till last and therefore compromise the quality of care they are able to offer? I look forward to hearing from your students.

Brilliant

So Brilliant Eunice that you are providing this education and training; you are the PERFECT person for the job, having lived this transition back to true health through self care and self love yourself. I love "we cannot give what we do not have", this absolutely needs be one of the first teachings for any healthcare professional.

This is SUPERB, super

This is SUPERB, super inspiring and absolutely brilliant that medical students are plunging into self-care waters. We definitely need those who care for us to take truly good care of themselves, and not just because we want greater care as patients but also because as you say we are all worthy of deeper love and tender care, medics included. Little while ago I was talking with a 4th year medical student and he was sharing that they (he and his fellow students) would deliberately keep track to see who'd drink more coffee to get them through a day...some were on 12...15...! That's an awful lot of caffein for any body and in one day. He explained that it was the only thing that could keep them going the pace they do. I very much look forward to reading what your students have to share about their personal experiences.

Self Care for Medical Students

I felt excitement and relief all at once when I read about this project. Excitement that an essential component of caring for patients is being introduced to western medicine through showing medical students how to care for themselves. And relief that this will eventually trickle throughout the system(s) and be felt by people in need of medical care. Thank you to the Soul-full Doctor for adding another bullet point to an already impressive list of accomplishments in the medical profession.
28 Nov

The Fragmentation of Medicine ..

I have witnessed many changes within medicine over the last 20 years – one of which has been the increasing fragmentation of medicine despite  the introduction of the importance of holistic medicine. This fragmentation is across the board and exists on many levels.

Fragmentation by Specialising 

As our knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pathophysiology, pharmacology and the many varieties of illness and disease has expanded, it was recognised that it was not feasible for all doctors to be expert and up-to-date in every area of medicine and thus increasingly doctors have focused on one area or speciality. This has the advantage of doctors being able to concentrate on an area in which they can become expert, but the disadvantage that they lose skills and knowledge that apply to other specialities. Apart from those who work in remote locations and who may, because of their work location, have to be true generalists, the numbers of doctors to whom that name could apply are increasingly few. We tend to focus on parts or on a particular body system or age of patient – eg the heart in cardiology, the skin in dermatology, the blood vessels in vascular surgery, the large bowel and rectum in colorectal surgery, the mind in psychiatry, the gastrointestinal system in gastroenterology, care of the elderly or paediatrics – and on and on the list could go.

Whilst I see and understand the advantages for both patients and doctors of specialising, I wonder if the pendulum has swung too far? By dividing medicine into its many parts and focusing on them, have we lost sight of the whole of medicine and the whole of the patient? By concentrating in one or two areas, we become less comfortable addressing issues or conditions that are outside those areas and so we refer to other doctors in the relevant speciality. In an age when the multi-symptomatic man is increasing, such a patient can end up being seen by many doctors focusing on the parts, with no one doctor addressing the whole of the patient and their needs. This occurs despite there supposedly being a greater awareness of the importance of holistic medicine – which in truth is a term that is often bandied around as a good thing to do, but in practice is rarely applied, where all aspects of the patient are considered in illness and disease manifestation and treatment. Whilst sub-specialising was developed with good intentions of having experts that could offer the best care for patients and to make the practice of medicine more manageable for the doctors, is it possible that in doing so we have in fact moved further away than ever before in providing true holistic care? 

Fragmentation of Relationships by Ways of Working

In addition to the increasing fragmentation of medicine by systems/organs etc we also have had more fragmented ways of working. When I was in training, we worked in teams for periods of occasionally 3 but usually 6 months, and some later and more specialised training positions could be for 12 months. As a house officer (the most junior level of doctor, just after graduation), there was a good sense of camaraderie in the team, with everyone playing their part and when all the parts worked well together the team as a whole functioned well. We worked an on call system that could be onerous, but facilitated working as a team, as we were present every day together on the ward. The introduction of the European working time directive and reduction in hours of work for junior doctors has led to shift working, which has crucified team working with different doctors coming and going and a lack of consistency and continuity in team working. This has many detrimental effects where junior staff have a lack of ownership of patients and a reduced sense of responsibility and accountability.

We all lose out on the interpersonal relationships that can be established by consistent team working.  Consultants become frustrated by the constant turnover of new faces and having junior doctors who do not know the patients and who are just covering for a day or two. This is a situation that adds more stress to both the consultant and the junior doctor. Most junior doctors want to do a good job and it is also not easy for them to be continually passed from team to team and to have to get to know the vagaries of working of each consultant and to get to know a fresh set of patients to care for every few days. Of course all of this impacts on the quality of patient care and so patients too are definitely affected by the increasing fragmentation of working patterns of doctors. I am not suggesting that we go back to working onerous hours – just highlighting that in attempting to solve one problem (onerous hours of work) is it possible we have created many more, all of which impact the quality of care for patients?

The Fragmentation of Self

We have a tendency in medicine to blame the current systems of working for the high levels of burnout, stress, addiction and suicide experienced by the medical profession currently. The fragmentation of medicine is a contributing factor. The systems have been designed and emerged from people – the problem is that those systems were not designed with true care of the human being foremost. Thus it is not necessarily systems per se, but the fact that they have emerged without a focus on true care for the human being – be that human being the patient or the doctor. We cannot hope to have a caring medical system if it only focuses on care for the patient without care for the doctor. Medicine as a whole, contains both patients and doctors and to care for only a part is detrimental to the whole. Perhaps if we shift our focus away from ‘patient’ or ‘doctor’ and make it about the human being, irrespective of the role being played then perhaps we may make some in-roads to designing and having systems that are caring for the whole and not just a part. 

However, this change has to first start within ourselves and will not come from expecting or demanding that managers and politicians do it differently and come up with better systems. As doctors we need to realise that medicine is something that we do, but it is not who we are – we are human beings.  As human beings we take on the role of a doctor who is recognised to be someone with a set of skills and knowledge about the human body, health, illness and disease. In the same way a lawyer is a human being who knows about the laws of the land, or a farmer is a human being who knows about crop rotation and animal management and on and on the list could go. We must not conflate what we do with who we are.

I used to think that what I did in my private life and what I did in my professional life were two separate things that did not impact on each other. So long as I was professional at work, then I could do what I liked outside of work and it would not impact work. I had different hats I put on depending on where I was and what I was doing. My surgeon hat went on during the day and my party hat went on during the evening/night. I thought at the time this was ok but I now know that it is not. Many others may also have their work hat and their home hat – thinking that we have different parts to play according to what we are doing. This is also a key part of the fragmentation of medicine – the fragmentation of ourselves according to what we do rather than just living who we are all of the time. The doctor and the human being must become one and not exist as separate parts. In so doing it is obvious that how we live outside of work also impacts how we are inside work.

The microcosm reflects the macrocosm – if we are divided in how we see ourselves and separate the doctor and the human being, then it is no surprise that this fragmentation is reflected throughout medicine in many different ways.

If we are to have a truly holistic medical system rather than the medicine of many parts, then we must start with ourselves and end the separation of being a doctor and a human being.  We only need to be who we are no matter what we are doing – just be a human being and make that the focus of deep care.

How would this play out in life?

Well it would mean that if someone chooses to learn the practice of medicine and to work as a doctor, then it would be important to realise that choice comes with a certain level of intensity and pressure of work, that it is a stressful occupation and thus that intensity means we need to adjust our lifestyle accordingly. How we live every day impacts our ability to cope with that stress and is affected by every day simple things like what we eat, how we exercise, our emotional state of being, what we drink and so on. Instead of burning the candle at both ends as I did, it would bring a degree of care and responsibility that before going in to do a long operation we would make sure we had a good night’s sleep beforehand. We would structure our holidays throughout the year to ensure we had sufficient breaks from the intensity so we did not become overwhelmed. The ways are myriad in terms of changes we can make to our lifestyle in order to support the level of intensity and work required as a doctor.

Focus on the Human Being.

Furthermore, if we made the focus about the human being and not what we do as a profession, this would go someway to dissolving the arrogance of the medical profession that holds itself superior or in some way special to other healthcare professionals. There would be a much greater acceptance of the parts played by other healthcare professionals that go to make up the whole of medicine and thus they would be afforded the respect they deserve as equal human beings who have a skill set that is a necessary part of delivering whole healthcare. This would lead to more harmonious and respectful working relationships with human beings relating to other human beings rather than ‘doctors’ and ‘nurses’ for example.  Of course this arrogance doesn’t just exist between different professions but occurs within the profession also – whereby surgeons will consider themselves more important than physicians and even within surgery there will be subspecialist arrogance to contend with as well.

Thus we have plenty of work to do to break down these false ideals and barriers to true collaborative and harmonious working relationships. As long as we continue to give focus to the medicine of many parts and practices that perpetuate the fragmentation of medicine in whatever form that comes, then we cannot expect to deliver whole medicine or whole patient care. If we continue to believe that doctors are in any way special or different to other human beings and that we can as doctors wear different hats at work and at home then we will pay the price for perpetuating that separation both personally and professionally. 

We are human beings first and foremost – working as a doctor is what we do but it is not who we are. By making the focus of care the human being and applying true care to both our working and home lives (as we are a human being in both places), we will be more ably placed to provide that same quality of care to those human beings we call patients and to change toxic systems and ways of working from within by knowing what it is to care for the human being first and foremost irrespective of the role adopted. 

Fragmentation in Science

Hi Eunice, a great observation you share here. I have found that the very same thing is happening in science, resulting in specialties and sub-specialties to the point that the science almost becomes unrelatable to anything in life - or only .000001% of it. Perplexing, since science is all about life. This is probably due to the fact that science has become a mind-driven field, resulting in a fragmented self as you say. However, I have found that when I feel science with my inner-heart (instead of just my mind) the topic becomes enriched and suddenly all-encompassing; I can feel the purpose of that topic/science in life and what it might mean on a larger scale. Wouldn't all of science, and medicine, benefit from such an approach! Thank you for beginning the conversation about this.

You have raised some great

You have raised some great points Eunice. Thank you for highlighting these issues so clearly.
26 Oct

The Fat Myth Continues.....

This article in the BBC News comments on the pledge by food manufacturers to cut saturated fat levels. A public health expert has rightly called it a 'drop in the ocean' in the fight against obesity. 

Prof Ashton, President of the faculty of Public Health says the approach lacks credibility and that food manufacturers need to also address the levels of sugar and salt used in foods where they lower the fat content. 

Whilst there are healthy and unhealthy types of fats (eg trans fats, hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils), it is a myth that fat in the diet is the main culprit in the obesity crisis or indeed that it is responsible for heart disease. Instead we need to look at carbohydrates and sugar. The obesity explosion coincides with the recommendation to eat a low fat, high carb diet.

William Davis in his book "Wheat Belly" comments that the American Heart Association and the American Diabetic Association are advising people to eat the foods that are giving them the conditions they are supposedly trying to treat!! Eating complex whole grains, carbs etc is what is doing the damage, not fat. An American cardiologist has also spoken on this subject and states that saturated fat is not the cause of heart disease and that this is known scientifically - yet we keep getting bombarded with these false messages. 

This is further supported in another book called "The Grain Brain" by Dr David Perlmutter, an Americal Neurologist, who also explains the dangers of eating a diet high in carbs/sugar and wheat. He recommends a high fat, low carb diet - completely contra to what has been recommended before. He explains how we need healthy saturated fats (like those found in coconut oil, olive oil, eggs etc)  for the healthy functioning of our brains and bodies. In addition he explains how carbs and sugars are so detrimental to our health along with chronic poison that is gluten.

The list of medical conditions he has seen improve or resolve by the removal of gluten from the diet is astounding - everything from complex neurological and muscular conditions to seizures, chronic headaches, migraines, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD, memory loss and on and on the list goes. Combine this with the list from Dr Davis' book (includes irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel, skin conditions, obesity and more) and it is hard to believe that anyone who is interested in living a healthy life and has read these two books could be tempted to consume anything that had gluten in it again!  

Cutting out wheat based foods and gluten for many people results in weight loss, feeling more vital, more energy and improved wellbeing overall. Whilst I didn't have any condition, I chose to cut out gluten from my diet and have reaped the rewards ever since. At first I would get caught out from time to time as it sneaks into all sorts of foods you wouldn't expect it in and I disliked asking in restaurants for gluten free food as I had always been so dismissive of what I called 'picky eaters' myself! But the more I feel the benefits of a gluten free diet and my improved wellbeing, supported by medical research that shows how this substance is literally poisioning us all, the easier it has been, such that it is no longer an issue for me to ask for it. 

As for sugar, well that too is another substance that is slowly poisioning us all and affecting our health and wellbeing. Dr Robert Lustig exposes the addictive and harmful properties of sugar and notes that it is sugar that is the main culprit in the obesity crisis. So cutting out fat and replacing it with sugar is definitely not going to help! We don't realise how addicted we are to sugar, perhaps until we try to stop it!!! 

Whilst I had been eating less and less, I was still eating it here and there or having it in so called healthy forms like lots of fruit. A few weeks ago I stopped eating sugar. For the first few days I had a low grade headache as my body adjusted to not having its fix of stimulant. I felt my level of triedness more as I was not continuing to block it out by eating sugar to keep me going. However, thereafter I rapidly began to feel the benefits of not eating it. I was much more consistent in how I felt from day to day, without slumps and highs and the cravings disappeared. Having been someone who always 'enjoyed' having a naughty treat of something, this seemed like a miracle, as I was no longer drawn to eat those kinds of foods/sweets/sugary foods etc. The longer I continue on it, the better I feel and the fruits of not eating it far outweigh the so called momentary pleasure or enjoyment of the taste in the mouth that is nothing but deceptive of the true harm it causes the body.

So whilst the saying goes that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, perhaps in this case the proof of the pudding is in not eating the pudding and feeling how great one feels without it! The thing is that not so long ago as I ate my second helping of dessert, I would have easily dismissed that and it's only by putting it into practice myself that I can now feel how true it really is.  

 

Feel free to share your experiences of stopping gluten. sugar, carbs etc or anything else you feel to comment on. 

 

 

 

no sugar

My experiences relate very well from dr. Eunice. I found cutting out sugar (including gluten) the most challenging. I already stopped using milkproducts and alcohol, but found it challenging to stop eating sugar (I was very very addicted to sweets and pies - always the one who ate 2 pieces, at least;-)). Since I stopped there are numbers of benefit: 1. lots and lots more energy 2. much more contact with my body 3. more joy 4. more clarity 5. more ME If I look back it's hard to imagine that I was the one who was over 100 kilo's, always getting up late, going to bed late and always tired. To now being steady between 70-75 kilos naturally so (no drive to a certain weight), enjoying life more and more and being with me far more than ever before. And actually, to me - now - it is so very obvious that sugar and gluten (which the body converts into sugar)are so damaging to us, without us realising. So now with all these research, recommendations from known doctors and lots of stories from people, we don't have to wait anymore until we get diagnosed with an illness to change our behaviours. And if needed, there's lots of support around us. If we're open to it. We'll need each other.
11 Aug

Blaming Children for Abuse..

This week has seen two reports of children being blamed for the abuse they received. First, in this case, a barrister accused a 13 year old girl of being "predatory" and "sexually experienced." The man that she was apparently predatory with was 41 years of age. 

In the second case we have Eddy Shah claiming that underage girls can be "to blame" for the abuse they experience. He makes a distinction between young girls who go out to have a good time and 'throw themselves' at celebrities and those who go out and 'actually get 'raped' raped'. So is he suggesting that there are two forms of rape? One where girls get ''actually 'raped' raped'' and another form of rape that they consent to, ask for, or can be blamed for??

How corrupt have we become as a society when men can say that children, aged 13, 14 etc are to blame for the abuse or the rape they receive? There is a law to protect children and it should be adhered to by all adults. Adults are supposedly the ones with the common sense and the responsibility to protect children. Even if as Mr Shah suggests, a child was to 'throw herself' at him or a celebrity, as the adults, who know the law, it is their responsibility to not break the law and to not take advantage of the child. Children do not have the maturity to be fully aware of the implications of their behaviour or the drivers behind their behaviour and hence why they are called children - it is the role of the adult to guide them, protect them, nurture them, care for them, set an example for them and direct them onto the right track should they veer off it.

It is highly irresponsible to suggest that because a child 'throws herself' at an older man, that it is then ok for that man to proceed to have sex with the child. A child who 'throws herself' at a man is most likely starved of true love, affection and tenderness and is looking for it in all the wrong places and does not have the awareness to realise this. The adult needs to be just that - an adult and recognise that it is not ok to abuse, rape, molest or have sex with a child whether he thinks she was 'asking for it' or 'consented' to it or not. It is ludicrous. It is against the law. A child by definition is not mature enough to 'consent' to sex. 

Making such accusations, is just a way of men avoiding their responsibility as adults. All they have to do is say No. It is very simple.  But instead, they think they can get away with it by blaming the child for being 'predatory', 'throwing themselves' at them, 'consenting' or some other version of that story. Next thing, they'll be saying 'I didn't want to but she made me do it!' 

Equally of course it is important that women/girls do not cry rape or abuse when it didn't actually happen and at all times there is a responsibility for all parties to be honest and truthful regarding the facts of the case and not falsely embellish, diminish or deny them. Claiming rape or abuse when it hasn't happened just makes it harder for those who have been abused to be heard and believed as people can then begin to question the validity of those with genuine claims.

Falsely making accusations of abuse is itself an act of abuse. People who make such claims are clearly deeply traumatised that they are prepared to go to such lengths to get some form of attention irrespective of the damage it brings to others. They too are often starved of love and affection and use whatever means they can to get some form of attention.  

Rape is rape and it is a crime. Sexual abuse of any kind leads to all sorts of untold damage to those who experience it.  It is beholden on us all as a society to ensure children are loved, cared for, nurtured and protected.  We need to speak up and call out abuse of any kind when it occurs. Perhaps in that way, men might just think twice before touching, molesting, abusing, raping or even having what they call  'consensual sex' with a child. 

A man who truly respects and loves himself would never dream of interfering with a child in a sexual way. Likewise, a woman who truly respects and loves herself would never make false accusations against a man regarding sexual abuse. The ability to abuse another in any way arises from the lack of love within oneself, as a consequence of not having been met, seen and held in that love since childhood. Eradicating abuse is not going to happen overnight, but it is beholden on us all to live our lives responsibly and lovingly and to call out that which is not. The more we are able to live love and express it in all our ways of living and relating, then others may by reflection, get to know they are that too and choose it for themselves and be it with their children. 

How do you feel about the comments made by the barrister and the Mr Shah? 

Do you agree or disagree? 

Feel free to comment 

We all know what is and what is not loving

Regardless of how society has encouraged us to be and how hurt we are, we ALL have the inner knowing within us of what is loving toward ourself or toward another and what is not loving. No one ever loses this inner knowing - although we may reduce our sensitivity to it and our trust of it. There is a big need for us all to become more vocal in this area. It is vital to show up those who abuse their authority such as these men justifying child-rape, and those who unjustly smear others such as the women making false rape claims, as being accountable to harming others and perpetuating a world of lovelessness. As well as reminding all of another way, the way that is the same as their inner knowing - living in a truly loving way. The Blaming Children for Abuse article does this beautifully. Thank you Eunice.

I am quite amazed that these

I am quite amazed that these two seemingly inteligent people, The Barrister and Mr.Shah, could actually make those statements. As you expose Eunice, there is nothing that is ok about a man having sex with an underage girl, no matter what the circumstances are. The comments from these men are another pointer towards the disempowerment and denigration of women, especially young girls who, if they are "asking for it" should be met with love and understanding of the deep hurt that they are clearly feeling inside and not the abuse fueled by flattery of the attention they may be getting from man in question. No wonder so many cases of rape go unreported. If a young girl or woman is met with a justice system that gives her the feeling that she probably "asked for it" then where is the support and encouragement for her to speak out?

Evil in the judicial system

What is equally, if not more scary, is how people who are in the positions to make such outrageous statements that then influence the judicial system, get there in the first place! This system is one of, if not the most, unexamined systems in our society and we can be 'held to ransom' by it at all levels, starting from how we are treated as children when we do something that others deem as 'wrong' and we are treated unfairly. True expression and discussion to unify around what is true justice is avoided and one person can seal another's fate by the words they utter. There is a call here for an examination from the heart, not from the point on a wayward moral compass that has allowed a the judicial system to become infected with an energy damaging to individuals and therefore to all of society. There appears to be such a huge gap between the law and true justice...

Rape, Sexual abuse and turning a blind Eye

Forcing someone to have sex at any age is a disgusting and a horrible crime. I do know in Australia there is a legal age for sex, it is referred as 'the age at which a person is considered to be legally "competent" to "consent" to sexual acts'. This age in Australia is 16 and that is still only for Consented sexual acts. Rape is Rape Mr Shah ...... How can you not really feel what you are saying. That a Child has no say in how their body is treated ? How can you say to a young girl/ boy "you did provoke that adult to rape you" ... Are we not here as adults to protect and set responsible examples for the younger generation that are coming through ? What standards are we setting by saying its ok to rape or sexually abuse a love starved young child. This child is in a world of pain as a result of the lack of love they have received from their family home ? ? ? ? Love, care, responsibility and integrity is how these beautiful young children should be supported and nourished for they will be looking after us in later years ......

Blaming Children for abuse

Great balanced article Eunice. I found the comments by both the barrister and Mr Shah hard to read. An adult knows full well the difference between an adult and a child, and no matter how a young person dresses, what attention she is looking for, it is for the adult to stop, question and say no if there is any doubt about the age of the child. I totally agree with your comments "A child who 'throws herself' at a man is most likely starved of true love, affection and tenderness and is looking for it in all the wrong places and does not have the awareness to realise this." I have seen this time and time again however.... "A man who truly respects and loves himself would never dream of interfering with a child in a sexual way." Time for us to own what we want to see and what is actually there.

Agreed Eunice. It's a

Agreed Eunice. It's a slippery slope if we legally allow adults to shift blame to children. Girls and women who make false accusations against men also do a disservice to all women, iincluding themselves, not only the men they accuse. What a love humgry world we live in where these situations occur. For that we all need to take responsibility, as you so beautifully describe. The theme is skilfully explored in a TV series called The Slap (also a novel).

This is a beautiful calling

This is a beautiful calling out of irresponsibility. There is a kind of insanity that casts the child as the predator, the adult as the hapless victim. The fact that this attitude prevails in the legal profession ( the party responsible for the preservation and upholding of at least a basic level of human decency) is incredibly disturbing. Thanks for calling out the opposite too...to blame someone of rape when that has not occurred poisons and nullifies the meaning of the word and is a deep abuse of the one accused.

This is a beautiful calling

This is a beautiful calling out of irresponsibility. There is a kind of insanity that casts the child as the predator, the adult as the hapless victim. The fact that this attitude prevails in the legal profession ( the party responsible for the preservation and upholding of at least a basic level of human decency) is incredibly disturbing. Thanks for calling out the opposite too...to blame someone of rape when that has not occurred poisons and nullifies the meaning of the word and is a deep abuse of the one accused.

blaming children for abuse

Well said Eunice, children whatever age put their trust into adults, adults need to take absolute responsibility for their choices. These two pieces in the news this week are horrifying - they could open the gates for many abuse cases where a child is blamed - how deep does the rot need to go in our so called modern society? this is absolutely not acceptable. I agree whole heartedly with what you express here.
14 Jul

What is Esoteric Healing? ..

I recently wrote this blog for the Natural Therapies  NI website and felt to share it here too. 

The word esoteric just means ‘from within’ or ‘innermost’.

Thus esoteric healing is about healing from within, from one’s innermost. It is about coming to know, understand, experience and feel for ourselves what this innermost is and how we can then make daily choices from that place, which are healthy for us. The innermost essence of everyone is pure Love; it is a place of stillness, where all is observed, held, understood, allowed, accepted and no judgment whatsoever exists.

Nothing whatsoever can harm this place, our innermost essence of love, no illness or disease, no wound or trauma of any kind can harm it or affect it. It is because we have been living in separation to this place that we have the suffering and the illnesses and diseases that we have. How does this work? Well if we do not know that we are already enough (and more than) as we are, that all the love we seek is actually within us, then we can get caught in DOING lots of activities to make us feel better about ourselves. The ways are endless that we seek achievements, recognitions, rewards, acceptance outside of ourselves be it through work, relationships, hobbies etc. However, have you ever noticed that it never lasts? As soon as one achievement is completed, we are looking for the next one. We keep ourselves in perpetual motion, away from the beauty of the stillness in which we know who we are and where no reward or recognition is sought.

Also because we have this inner ache, emptiness, discontent, don’t feel enough etc we have endless ways of distracting ourselves from feeling that which we don’t want to feel! It’s a great set-up to keep us away from the true essence of love that lives within, underneath all the layers of misbeliefs and misperceptions we carry about ourselves. So esoteric healing is NOT about becoming more or better from the basis that one is not enough. No. It is about knowing you are already glorious and from that knowing all that is not you is stripped away. It is a removal of that which you are not, to reveal that which you are, which has always been there. In doing so we may feel like we become more or better and life IS better, but really it is just a returning home to who we are and what we have always known.

From this place, we come to know, understand and experience for ourselves that there is a way to live, a way to be, a way to express that engenders true health, vitality, wellbeing, love and joy. It becomes clear there are many ways of living that we take for granted which are in fact harming to us and can result in illness and disease or other forms of suffering. We become more aware that our daily living choices carry considerable power, be it with food, sleep, exercise, emotions, work etc. The choice comes down to this. Do I choose to heal or harm? Do I choose Love or that which is not Love? It is that simple – but not always easy to un-do the engrained patterns and ways of living that not truly supporting us.

Esoteric healing is based on understanding life and the human condition at the level of energy. It is about much more than healing illness and disease, it is about healing the root cause of all our ills: the separation to who you truly are and ultimately is about coming home to yourself – for there is nowhere more glorious than that. Once known, felt and tasted, you know the sweetness of life resides in you, you know you have the power to turn a miserable wet rainy day into a joyful, light filled, sunshine day!

Esoteric Explained

Thank you Eunice for bring clarity to the word esoteric - The inner most our divine centre - and for explaining what healing really is.

What a joyous explanation! It

What a joyous explanation! It feels good just to read it. I have been aware of this place within me a couple of times and it is the most incredible awakening. Life stresses, unfortunately seem to tear me away, but i keep searching and trying to get back to this path. One day... xxxxx

great article

great article Eunice

Thank you Eunice

This is an amazing piece. It really sums everything up in a simple and profound way. I can feel the call to return to Love in it. You mentioned getting caught in the DOING, and I definitely recognize that for me at work lately! Thanks again for the reminder and for being a wonderful example.

Awesome Eunice. Truth very

Awesome Eunice. Truth very clearly presented. Thank you.
30 May

Understanding Healing ..

The word medicine is derived from the Latin 'ars medicina' and means the 'art of healing'. However, science has long since replaced art and the primary focus has shifted from healing the sick to curing the disease. Disease is a term for any condition that impairs the normal functioning of an organism and has specific symptoms and signs. Illness refers to the perceptions and experiences that a person has of his condition and will be his narrative of the condition. This blog post will take a look at some of the differences between healing and curing and expand further on the understanding of healing as I know it to be esoterically and energetically. The subject of healing is vast and thus each post only touches on some areas. I presented some aspects of healing in the blog post 'Illness and disease are Healing' and you may wish to read that post as well as this one. I am well aware that people can have different understandings of healing that can lead to confusion, misunderstanding or misinterpretation. For example some people might think that healing and curing are just different words for the same thing where both mean eradication of disease/symptoms, or that in order to be healed, one must be free of disease. These misunderstandings have been contributed to by the lack of clear definition in the medical profession. 

As Egnew pointed out in 2005, it is a curious paradox that medicine, otherwise known as 'the healing profession', has no operational definition of healing nor explanation of the mechanisms of healing apart from physiological processes.1

He went on to declare that healing is independent of illness, impairment, cure of disease or death and although I would agree with him on that point now, I previously would have rejected it out of hand. How can one be healed and yet still have disease present? How can one be healed and yet still be impaired in some way? How can healing be independent of death, or where death itself is seen to be part of the healing? It sounds crazy! If we equate healing with removal of disease then it does not make sense - but healing is about much more than the removal of disease. Healing can occur with or without the removal of disease. 

The root or etymology of the word healing is haelan from hal in Olde English and means to ‘restore to wholeness’. Hal is the root word for ‘health’, ‘whole’ and ‘holy’.  So perhaps healing and true health comes from knowing one is already whole and holy and living from that knowing, such that all of one's choices are fed by it. To know that one is already whole, already holy, with an essence that is full of love, no matter what illness or disease is present - is the healing. It is the restoration of harmony to the being, irrespective of the physical state of the body. Thus one can be healed and have impairment or disease present. If this is fully understood, it could even be said that we are already healed and that there is no healing to do. However, it is one of those paradoxes that it is true that there is healing to do and yet in-truth we are already healed, already whole. I'll explain this a bit further. 

As human beings we are multi-dimensional beings with a body, mind, heart, spirit and soul. Although we have a physical body, we are more than physical. The soul is love and that is our true nature and that aspect does not require any healing. However, we have lived in separation to our soul for aeons and thus have accumulated many ways and ills that are harming to us/the physical body and these ways need healing, if we are to live free from suffering. The body is but a vehicle for the light and love of the soul/of God who lives within us all. The creator lives in the created, the stuff of God (love), is the stuff of man also. It is an energetic fact that we are love, that we have an invincible essence that is only pure love - that cannot be harmed or destroyed by ANYTHING. This can be known and felt by all. It is one thing to know that we are love, and it is another thing to live that knowing on a daily basis. Just as our ills arise from living as if we are in separation to this love, to the divine, by our emotional ways of living and relating, so then does the root of healing come back to knowing who you are, that you are pure love and living from that knowing in how one expresses. By ceasing to express in an emotional way, we are no longer fuelling the body with that which is harming to it and this is a key part of healing. The fact that we do not live it on a daily basis, with our emotional reactions, ups and downs, tells us there is healing work to do.  We are so engrained in certain ways of living and relating, reacting to life's situations, becoming emotional over this or that, that we can easily deviate from living the love that we are. We all do it and it's not about beating ourselves up for reacting or being emotional but just having the simple recognition and awareness that in those moments we are not being ourselves, we have separated from the love that we are and in that separation we can allow all sorts of ugliness to emerge that is not really us! When we express with the energy of anger or frustration or indeed any emotion, we are not expressing according to our true nature and over time this takes it toll, affecting our biophysiology and ultimately can result in the manifestation of illness and disease. The fields of psychoneuroimmunology, epigenetics and psychosomatic medicine are beginning to provide the scientific evidence that affirms these understandings. However, as we heal and develop a way of living and being that is coming from our innermost essence of love, then we are more consistent, less reactive, more centred, joyful, playful, and less affected by the stresses and strains of life yet fully immersed in and committed to life on earth. 

Put simply we can express with love or that which is not love. The good news is that if we recognise we are being emotional or not being love, we can take steps or a few breaths to return to love. Part of healing is addressing the underlying reasons for the emotional reactions we have, such that we no longer have them - thus we stop feeding the body with that which is harming to it. Likewise the more we express from the love that we are, we will build love in the body and contribute to the healing process. At the same time, who we already are is Love, always has been and always will be - but it is the degree to which we choose to live and express from that love that determines our course. 

Let's break this down a bit further with some practical examples to illustrate difference between healing and curing.

If a disease is cured, it means the signs and symptoms have been eradicated. However, it is possible to be cured of a disease but not healed of the underlying reasons that gave rise to that disease in the first place. So for example, taking out my gallbladder cured me of the symptoms I had from the gallstone but it did nothing to address the underlying reasons that led me to have the gallstone in the first place - thus whilst I am cured, I am not healed unless I address those underlying reasons. According to esoteric medicine, issues in the gallbladder are at root level due to the emotions of rage, frustration, resentment and bitterness. So by dealing with the underlying reasons for these emotions and returning to the truth of who I am (love) and living from there, I can be healed as well as surgically cured. 

This simple example allows us to deepen the understanding of healing even further.  We often quite rightly enlist the help of others like doctors, nurses, physios, pharmacists and medications etc to help us with our conditions, to cure us of our symptoms and diseases and this is also part of healing as outlined in the blog post 'illness and disease are Healing'. Similarly we may go to a complementary health practitioner to assist us with healing, to come to a deeper understanding of why we have what we have based on a holistic understanding of the human person. However, ultimately all healing is self-healing. Whilst others can assist us along the way, the choice to be love, to express with love or not is always ours. One delivers healing and the other perpetuates the suffering - it is as simple as that. We get to choose which one we live by - love or that which is not love. This makes sense of the well-know dictum 'physician heal thyself' for ultimately we can only heal ourselves and for a physician to truly assist another with healing, the physician must do it for him/herself first. 

It is important to not mis-interpret the phrase that 'ultimately all healing is self-healing' to mean that one does not need medical treatment or surgery. That is not what it means nor implies. That is a bastardisation. We do need medicine, we do need surgery and medications to help us with our conditions and it is part of being self-loving to look after the body in this way by combining the best of conventional medicine with esoteric medicine - that way we can use conventional medicine and esoteric medicine together to both cure the disease if possible and assist us with healing the underlying root cause. Even if the disease is considered to be terminal, it is possible to heal the underlying reasons for the condition and for the person to experience themselves as healed and whole - even though the body may be filled with disease. 

Another example that might help illustrate this further is with respect to breast cancer. It is important that women with breast cancer have the best of conventional medicine in the form of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy as deemed necessary to endeavour to cure the disease, to eradicate it from the body. However, in terms of healing there is a much bigger picture at play when breast cancer is approached from a holistic understanding that says we have what we have as a result of how we have lived, as a consequence of our choices over many years. Esoterically and energetically the root ill in breast cancer is a lack of self nurturing and so when it comes to healing, it is about addressing the reasons for that lack of nurturing and beginning to be more self-nurturing in one's daily way of being. These understandings are not part of conventional medical thinking as yet, although there are some who are aware of it. Thus it is for people to feel for themselves if this could be true or not. For me, it is empowering to know that my gallstone and its symptoms arose as a result of my choices, my way of living, my emotions etc because then I could choose to do something about it in terms of healing. Whereas, if I did not know that, then I am kept in the dark, a victim of circumstances beyond my control, a body run awry for no reason - and that is disempowering, it gives me nowhere to go, nothing I can do to change it or to heal. So it is for women with breast cancer - keep them in the dark, say it's in the genes or that we don't know why they have it, and they too are disempowered, with no recourse to heal, to make changes, to be empowered. In contrast, if they accept that it could possibly be due to a lack of self nurturing, then there are lots of things they can do to address that and to heal including how they feel about themselves as women, whether they have given their power away to men, been submissive, been falsely nice, always putting others needs first, suppressed their anger and on and on it could go in terms of the issues that could have fed the lack of self nurturing that ultimately resulted in the breast cancer. In this way, a woman who is open to this approach can have the surgery and whatever is required to address the physical disease, but she can also take a more holistic approach in terms of healing why she developed breast cancer in the first place. Healing the lack of self-nurturing is assisting her to return to herself, to her true nature that is deeply nurturing, exquisitely loving and profoundly tender. It is no wonder that by undertaking such a healing journey, some women can comment that breast cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them because it has the potential to deepen their awareness about themselves and their lives and bring them back home to themselves and the love that they are. 

I have only used a couple of examples here but the principles are similar for other conditions as well. Everything has a root ill or cause when understood energetically that ultimately boils down to us living in apparent separation to the love we are and where healing is the restoration of harmony by reconnecting with and living from that essence of love and ceasing the errant loveless ways. 

One of the commonest questions doctors are asked and do not always have the answer for is 'why do I have this condition' whatever it may be. Esoteric medicine can present understandings that can answer those questions, that calls the individual to take responsibility for their life and to be willing to make a deeply honest appraisal of how they have been living. Of course, many people do not wish to go there and that too is fine. Some even feel that saying such things is not on as they feel it is blaming the person for why they have the condition. Again, this is a bastardisation and mis-understanding of what is being said and what healing is. If how we live our lives results in the conditions we have - then keeping people in the dark about that is not going to help it or change it. It just keeps people buried deep in the illusion that they are victims of circumstances beyond their control. Whilst it can be painful and hurt like hell to realise and fully appreciate the harm we do to ourselves by our wayward ways of living, given where we come from and who we are, it is the messenger of love that is willing to help people awaken out of their stupor regarding their ill ways such that they may know who they are also - to be that still, loving, consistent presence irrespective of the flak that comes his or her way.  

Just as the root of our ills is due to living as though we are in separation to the divine, to the love that we are, the key to healing is dissolving that apparent separation, to know who we are -  Sons of God who's essence is Love; to reconnect to that Love that lives within and to express from that place of Love and stillness on a daily basis to the best of our ability with no outcome based need or focus but just because it is who we are.  To know that we are much, much more than a physical body but that how we live and express will affect the physical body. Thus if we have a physical condition or suffering of any kind, let us have the strength, the openness and willingness to look at how we have been living that has led to that instead of cowering in fear and blaming everything outside of ourselves, for that will only keep us stuck on a merry-go-round of suffering.  We are in a physical body and we can use it to express the light and love of Our Father on earth or not as we so choose. In doing so, we may arise others to know that for themselves or not as they so choose OR we can perpetuate and keep spinning the merry-go-round of suffering. The choice is ours. 

So perhaps it is time that 'the healing profession' reclaimed its roots and combined the best of the scientific endeavour with the healing art of Love. 

Feel free to comment and share your understandings or anything that has arisen for you in this post. 

Reference 

1.Egnew TR. The Meaning of Healing: Transcending Suffering. Annals of Family Medicine. vol 3 issue 3 pg 255-262

Hear Hear!

Eunice, I agree and support what Annette has expressed. I did not want this to end and you have given expression and an opening for every one to consider the possibility that we are so much more than our bodies. In fact if we can understand the difference between curing and healing, imagine what may open up in the hearts of so many. As stated, we were not even given the opportunity to consider such truth!! I also agree with Annette that offering this essay into the doctors waiting rooms, health spas, gyms and churches etc would be awesome. Don't underestimate the power of your expression here Eunice. How can this be further published?

Truly Beatiful

Eunice,another masterpiece, this is Truly Beautiful. The Truth of God, the truth of Love, the truth of Illness, and the truth of Healing are all so beautifully expressed here. "the creator lives in the created", True Religion presents this truth to us, to understand and know that we are a "vehicle to express the light and love of God". These energetic truths about illness and healing, along with the fact that we are, and have living within us the Love of God, is a teaching and a study that we should rightly be presented with from birth, it is actually our birth right to know this, and the truth is we do know it from birth; the sad thing is that the world as it is, humanity as it is, has made the choice to be unaware of these truths, these birthrights. Taking responsibility for our choices is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves, to come back from the seperation, to live who we truly are. What you have offered here, is a very loving opportunity for anyone who reads this, to think about the level of responsibility they are taking in their lives, how they live, and how this affects their physical body, in regards to their true health. Imagine if this 'Essay of Truth' was handed to every person to read and sign (as being understood) every time they went to the Doctor, Dentist, Gym, School, Church, entered a Relationship etc etc....how differently would we approach the way we do EVERYTHING! Even if I knew nothing of the Esoteric and Energetic and I read this piece, I think I would find it very difficult to reject the truth of what is written here. This is essential reading for everyone who is asking "why do I have this condition?"; because in the asking, there is some level of seeking truth, seeking to take back the responsibility we all know is inherently ours to take! We do know these truths! And won't it be beautiful and truly healing when Conventional Medicine comes back to it's true roots and also understands the responsibility it has to share this truth with those who come for help. Thank you Eunice, Truly Beautiful, Truly Inspiring!
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