Back in 2009 I went on a retreat called “The Endorphin Effect” based on a book of the same title by William Bloom- a teacher of spiritual psychology. http://www.williambloom. At the time I had experienced ME for many years and just being away from home and in the company of a fairly large group of people was quite overwhelming. The message of the course did not fully sink in at that time due to this but it did plant a seed for the future. Sometime later I started to write after a moment of inspiration came to me. I now feel very much like writing is what I need to do. I want to focus on areas of interest that are important aspects of my life and to write about my ongoing journey to health and well-being. The idea of Strawberries came to mind, one that I got from the Endorphin Effect book and workshop. Strawberries are the things in life that you can call on to make you feel calmer, happier and inspired. They could be ‘big” things that perhaps you may not be able to do everyday- like go to your favourite place in the countryside where you love the view. Or they could be things that realistically you could call on everyday such as listening to music that makes you feel alive and positive or spending a few moments of quality time with your friends, pets or loved ones. You are encouraged to write a list of these things that are personal endorphin triggers for you and then you are ready to pause and focus upon them in times of stress or at anytime of the day when you need a mood boost. Although I have practised this to some extent at various times, I have gone through very stressful times when I lost sight of using these simple but very effective tools. The idea though was reignited when I participated in the 90 day programme for recovery from ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia with The Optimum Health Clinic http://www.freedomfromme.co.uk in 2013.
It occurred to me that aspects of the technique that I learnt on the course called the ‘STOP process’ has something in common with the Strawberry practice. At any time when I have noticed that I am stressed or caught up in unhelpful thinking- particularly about my health I have been STOP-ping or pausing, bringing myself back into my body until I feel calmer and then choosing how I want to feel. This second stage was quite difficult at first as I have had many long periods of feeling pretty awful so conjuring up a new good feeling was not instantly available in terms of memory. BUT then I realised that I could call on my strawberries!
Some of the other practices from the Endorphin Effect I am also reminded of when focus on what I learnt on the 90 day programme. I developed my relationship to my inner child. Being a loving parent who encourages their child and soothes them when they are hurting or scared. Moving away from years of perfectionism and criticising myself when I did anything less than perfectly in certain areas of my life- a gentle, kind and patient approach was just what I needed to help me heal those tendencies. Now in 2017 I am Mum to an almost 2 year old and am learning about being a loving parent in a whole new way.