Posts Tagged ‘vfs’

The French do seem to have a different way of viewing Life from the British. That’s one of the reasons I really enjoy reading French publications, and one of my regulars is a magazine called “Cles“. In the most recent issue they have a thought provoking and different article about dieting. In “Cles” there is a regular section dedicated to articles which promote a “Slow movement” approach to Life, and in this month’s issue they take on dieting. (“Slow minceur, le corps tranquille”).

Essentially, the article advocates this approach to diet.

1. Don’t go on a diet.

2. Instead, slow down and really enjoy your food. For the French enjoying your food is about more than just the taste, the colour and smell of the food. It’s about the whole experience of enjoying a meal….the environment, the aesthetics, the company you share. The article doesn’t use the word “mindful” but such a concept would be consistent with this message – eat mindfully – slowly, really savouring and appreciating what you are eating, and the experience of the meal.

3. Stop when you’ve had enough. Sound straightforward? Maybe not so easy because we tend to have bad habits related to eating way too large portions, either because we were taught to clear our plates, or because we think more food for less money is a bargain. However, if you are eating mindfully, you’ll become aware when your body has had enough. And at that point, you can stop!

4. Learn to handle your emotions without reverting to food. In fact, the article quotes a David O’Hare whose book is entitled “Maigrir par la cohérence cardiaque” (which sounds like Heartmath to me, but see here).

5. Finally, they recommend not cutting out anything, but instead steadily eating a little less, moving a little more, and accepting that it will take a long time to lose a significant amount of weight ie take away any performance or fear of failure anxiety induced by setting short term targets.

What do you think? Maybe this way isn’t for you, but it’s sure different, and as we are all different, it’s good to have a range of possible strategies available, isn’t it?

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Every year I look forward to the blossoming of this Magnolia in the garden outside my consulting room. It won’t flower for long but that makes it even more special. I enjoyed it today. What are you going to enjoy today?

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When I looked across the forest from the path, the colours, the shapes of the trees, and the diversity of it all, caught my attention. Pointing my iPhone (only working camera I had with me!) at what I could see, I captured the scene. Mmmm…lovely colours.
Then when I got home, I viewed the photos on my Mac and what did I see first?
That bird of prey, soaring high above the forest.
Did I see it when I was actually there?
No, I didn’t.
But it’s the first thing I see now.
Reminds me to take my time, to see the wood (and the birds flying above it), for the trees.
It also reminds me that what we see is strongly determined by the context in which we do the seeing. We never see all there is to see at any particular time.

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“seeing the person in the patient” caught my eye as I read this letter in last week’s BMJ –

The key to the successful management of comorbidities (and all illness) is to “see the person in the patient.” That is not easy for doctors who see patients only briefly and tend to use that time to focus on their patients’ illnesses. At 68 years of age and with a fine collection of comorbidities of my own, I speak from experience. The key to success in treating comorbidities is to discover what motivates patients, what their ambitions and aspirations are, what they would like to be able to do, and then to agree with patients an individual care plan that accommodates all of their conditions, is practicable from their point of view, and which will—as far as possible—enable the fulfilment of those aspirations. Kamerow is right that dealing with such patients is logically a primary care issue but, in the UK at least, that is not simple. In my GP practice, I rarely see the same GP twice in succession, so continuity of care has something of a hollow ring to it. Perhaps there is a case for a GP with a special interest in comorbidities, or are there so many of us with comorbidities that no GPs would be left to treat acute illnesses?

The letter is written by Peter Lapsley, who is described as the BMJ’s “patient editor” (not sure what that is, but I really agree with his comments). He was writing in response to a piece by Kamerow about the difficulties in dealing with patients who have more than one thing wrong with them – “comorbidities”. The problem is that the reductionist approach to illness compartmentalises people into bits, trying to find and define the wonky bits (my term!) and fix them. This approach uses guidelines and algorithms created from reviews of research into treatments for individual diseases – pretty much always conducted on patients with just one thing wrong with them.

Actually, as Peter Lapsley points out, the problem is resolved by focusing on the person instead of the individual diseases.

The trouble is that takes time, a holistic, patient-centred approach, and a real effort to understand what’s important to the patient and responding to their aspirations and values. It absolutely is not a one-size-fits-all approach to health care. It’s time to stop trying to squeeze everyone into protocols and rediscover the value of both continuity of care and the importance of focusing on the human, or the “person”. This is especially true when dealing with people who have long term conditions.

(I’ll declare an interest here – where I work we deliver 100% continuity of care, and we completely focus on the individual and help them find a way to better health according to their aspirations and values)

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looking up at the roof while standing in Waverley Station, Edinburgh yesterday….


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More of us are living more years than our ancestors did. That’s often presented as a problem. How will we afford all the pensions? How will we afford to pay for the extra care these millions of additional frail people will need? How will we afford to pay for the extra years of drugs they’ll be prescribed?

And what about respect for the elderly? Do we see this increase in the numbers of older people as providing us with unique resources of knowledge, wisdom, care, love, support?

How refreshing to read the words of Herman Hesse on this subject –

Aging is far from being only a process of reducing, wilting and fading. Old age, like every other stage of life has its own merits, its own magic, its own wisdom, its own sorrow.
Whoever becomes old consciously, can observe that in spite of diminishing powers and potencies, every ear brings an increase and an enhancement in the infinite web of relations and connections.

Oh, I so understand that last point in particular. With my now five grandchildren my web of relations and connections has been enhanced amazingly. And over the last few years, with teaching in different countries, and writing this blog, I’ve made many, many new friends and connections, meeting such different people who so often shift my perspectives and make my world a bigger, yet smaller place!

Here’s more from Hesse on the benefits of aging –

…increased independence from the judgement of others, less vulnerability to compulsion and more undisturbed reverence before the eternal

You should have been with me this morning when one of my very sprightly, beautifully dressed, 86 year old patients told me as I asked her if she was ok to climb the staircase with me to my consulting room, “that’s a beautiful, straight bannister on this staircase. Maybe I’ll slide down it on my way out!” ……made my day!

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Seasons of the Soul

The Seasons of the Soul: The Poetic Guidance and Spiritual Wisdom of Herman Hesse [ISBN 978-1583943137] – one of the most pleasurable, delightful, stimulating and enjoyable books I’ve ever read. It’s years, no decades, since I read Herman Hesse’s books, but this beautiful collection of poems, with enlightening and inspiring introductions by the translator, Ludwig Max Fischer has reignited my passion for his writing.

Here’s what Ludwig Max Fischer says about Hesse’s work

His gentle voice, full of truth, reminds us of the greater dimensions, the larger forces acting in our lives, beyond the immediate dramas of fear and desire. The soul, love, inspiration, the mysteries of nature, the unknowable divine, time and the stages of life are the major agents in Hesse’s world and are as relevant today as when he distilled them from his life experience.

and in Hesse’s own words –

My only goal in life is to be able to love this world, to se it and myself and all beings with the eyes of love and admiration and reverence….


It is a mysterious and yet simple secret known to the sages of all ages: the most minute act of selfless devotion, every act of compassion given in love makes us richer, whereas every effort towards possession and power weakens our strength and makes us poorer.

There’s a lot more like that in this book, and many inspiring poems too. I’ll give you one extract which strikes me as very relevant this Spring day. This is from his poem, Bursting With Blossoms –

Ideas too break open like buds of blossoms
at least a hundred every day
Let them unfold and roam as they wish!
Don’t ask for rewards!
There must be time for play and innocence in life
and room for boundless blossom.

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To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations….[Emily Dickinson]


…..gazing through one of my kaleidoscopes – enjoying this present moment

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I don’t get the obsession with the physical which underpins materialism. The idea that “truth” is only found in what can be measured, weighed, or touched, seems, inherently to deny the reality of our irreducible subjectivity. Can love be measured? Can passion, beauty, joy?

I think it’s some desire for certainty, coupled with a drive for power. Materialistic, physicalist scientism places a high value on certainty and a need for prediction to deliver power over “outcomes”.

I do understand that. But, I don’t sign up to it.

This pre-eminence of matter is being undermined by our exploration of sub-atomic reality. As Lynne McTaggart describes in “The Bond”

matter is nothing but a relationship; x + y, in a sense, stands for an impenetrable bond between two indeterminate things that do not exist on their own

Think about that for a moment….what we perceive as matter does not in fact exist as other than a relationship between things which don’t exist on their own…..

The universe contains an indeterminate number of vibrating packets of energy that constantly pass energy back and forth as if in an endless game of basketball with a quantum sea of light. Indeed they aren’t even there all the time, but are constantly popping in and out of existence, making a brief appearance before disappearing back into the underlying energy field.


The surface of the sea is rarely still. In fact, it is never still at the edges. Have you ever been to a beach where there are no waves breaking on the shore, where there is no tide?Some days, however, as you cast your eyes out further to sea, the surface may appear flat and calm, but it rarely stays that way for long. The wind blows, the currents flow, and the surface breaks into a myriad of waves. Every one of us is like one of these waves. We appear, as if we are separate and distinct entities, but only for a brief time, then we are gone again. This is no illusion. Like the waves, we do indeed appear as distinct, discernible entities. But only for a short period of time. Just as the waves emerge out of the ocean, without breaking away from the ocean, so we emerge from the universe, from Life, from the non-dual nature of reality. And just as the waves dissolve back into the great sea again, so do we, after a brief life, return to the universe, to whatever it is that we emerge from.  [Bob Leckridge. Be The Flow]

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Tit for tat and taking turns

In Lynne McTaggart’s The Bond she has a chapter entitled “Taking Turns” which describes multiple experiments designed to test the way people use either competitive or collaborative strategies.

One of the most well known of such experiments is “The Prisoners’ Dilemma” (google it if you want the details). Another one, which is also fascinating, is “The Ultimatum Game” where one player receives a sum of money. They offer the other player a share. If the other player accepts the offer, both keep the money. If the player turns down the offer, both leave with nothing.

In both these games a strategy of collaboration wins. In fact using computer modelling researchers were able to devise different game strategies. The one which succeeds over all other strategies is “tit for tat” – start with a generous offer, then follow the other player’s offers. If they make a low offer, punish them with a low offer back in the next round. If they offer a high share, then do likewise next time.

Other experiments include an imagined couple with different interests who are trying to decide where to go on a night out – the strategy which wins when the game is played through several rounds is “taking turns” – partner A’s choice is agreed to this time, and partner B’s choice will then be agreed next time.

What’s interesting about allow these experiments is that collaboration wins out every time – not competitiveness.

The other kind of experiment she describes involves groups which all play by certain rules – everyone plays fair until a player is introduced who has been primed to grab all the biggest shares for himself ignoring the rules. What happens then is that the group totally breaks down with the initial collaboration strategies getting blown away with an every man for himself one.

These latter experiments show that groups naturally prefer collaboration over competition except when there is obvious unfairness at which point social cohesion and collaboration is lost.

That’s such an important lesson for us as we become aware of the grabs made by the 1%, and the widening of the gap between the lowest and the highest paid in society. This socio-economic structure is just not going to last……


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