This is where we share our thoughts and passions, as well as any new developments in the field of health and wellbeing. We also try to shed a bit more light on the variety of our work, and give you the chance to get to know some of our therapists. Whether it is sharing practical advice, a research update, a great resource or simply an observation, we hope there is something for everyone. The blog has many contributors to make sure you get the breadth of topics and advice our practice can offer.


Writing as a Path to Wellbeing

by Laura Napran, Writing for Wellbeing teacher at the Westoe Practice.

There are many paths to finding wellness in your life, and I’d like to tell you about one of them – using expressive writing as a tool to foster awareness, growth, and change. A developing body of research at universities and healthcare organizations shows the benefits of guided writing activities in calming the mind and emotions, and increasing feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

At Westoe Practice, Writing for Wellbeing is offered as both one-to-one and group sessions. One-to-one sessions are specially tailored to suit your personal needs with complete privacy. I will guide you through specific activities designed to help release the words within you in a positive and creative way. Or you might like to try out a four-week group session, where we will focus on a different approach each week: Mindfulness, Balance and Perspective, Change and Growth, and Creative Inspiration. Writing alongside other people is both enjoyable and supportive.

And remember – you never have to read out anything you have written, so you are free to write whatever you want. No previous experience in writing is needed. Technique is unimportant — whatever you do is good for you. There is no ‘right’ way, only the ‘write’ way!

Participants at Writing for Wellbeing sessions tell me that they feel comfortable and gain confidence, and that it is a freeing experience. People say that it leads them to personal insights, and that they release old troubling issues. Many say that they will use these activities again. Other words I have heard are ‘joy’, ‘meditative’, ‘opportunity’, ‘flow’, and ‘power’.

‘We all of us have a wellspring of creativity in us, and sometimes all we need is a little guidance to help use that creativity to open up our potential.’

– Laura Napran, Writing for Wellbeing Practitioner at the Westoe Practice

Meditation

By Susan, meditation teacher at the Westoe Practice.

I’m very pleased to talk to you about meditation at the Westoe Practice, as we have some fantastic courses, including a six-week Beginner’s Meditation course. The group will be purposefully small, with a maximum of 10 participants, so that people get the benefit of a shared meditation experience, whilst still having the intimacy of a small group to learn in.

The Beginner’s Course covers some basic tools and techniques for people to get a flavour of the different types of meditation, which include techniques such as meditative breath, mindfulness, Zen, mantra, body awareness and contemplation to name but a few.

Different types or techniques of meditation approaches will resonate differently with each person, and it is through our wonderful new beginner’s class that I hope you can start to find what works for you to help you along the way of your meditative journey. And don’t worry, we will also be offering Development and Advanced meditation courses in the future, as well as one-to-one meditation sessions, so there’s lots available.

So, the age old question – what is meditation?

Maybe it is first worthwhile saying what meditation is not. It isn’t a religion and you do not have to have a faith in order to meditate, although many religions have meditation as part of their practice.

There is a tonne of information available about meditation, which can at first seem overwhelming. What I can say is that meditation is an amazing practice that is for you, from you and about you. It is a method of reconnecting to the very essence of who you are, providing a space and place to just ‘be’. Meditation is not a new fangled thing and does not belong in the ‘New Age’ genre – it has longevity and gravitas that can sometimes be forgotten in today’s society. Irrespective of its origins (for which there are many), what I can say with great conviction, is that meditation provides a positive way to reconnect with yourself in ever-stressful and demanding lives.

Meditation, its effects and benefits are far and wide reaching. In the coming weeks, I will explore the benefits of meditation in more detail, for example, how it can aid in stress reduction and build emotional resilience, as well as the physical effects of meditation, building physical resilience and helping with chronic pain management. Meditation can also help with work and work-based pressure, and we will explore a couple of recent academic studies which provide firm evidence in favour of meditation as a regular practice.

For now, though, I just want to sum up in a couple of points, the benefits meditation can bring to you:

  • makes you feel ‘better’
  • can increase coping abilities
  • helps with focus and concentration
  • increases positive emotions such as compassion and joy
  • reduces stress levels
  • improves immune function
  • reduces high blood pressure

Whilst I can wax lyrical about all the benefits of meditation, it really is an embodied experience, so why not just give it a try?

“Meditation provides a positive way to reconnect with yourself in ever-stressful and demanding lives.” Susan, Meditation teacher at the Westoe Practice