The Power of saying NO

I had just returned from a whistle-stop trip to Italy, which I knew would be a challenge as traveling and in particular flying can be tiring, at the best of times, but with a fibro body, you need to be able to pace yourself and avoid stress.
In the past I have been a very nervous flier often gripping the seat or arm of the adjacent passenger. Lucky for them, I have been managing my stress and fear, I managed to remain calm even when we hit some turbulence on the way home, it was all good, I practiced my yoga breath and used it as a form of mediation, at one point I thought we had already landed when the undercarriage went down. TRE (trauma release exercises) have definitely contributed to my body’s ability to reduce the stress meaning, no pain.

On my return home, I did not feel well enough to go out for a walk with my husband and the dog. I knew I needed to sleep. I was not feeling any pain, just extreme tiredness and I knew going for a walk would make me feel worse. So Dog and husband went for a walk without me, I slept. I felt better. Result, all I had to do was say ‘No’ there was not an explanation required.

‘No’ is a complete sentence, it does not require a justification. It is the most empowering sentence that you can ever use. At first you feel guilty for saying it and try to explain your rationale. It’s even harder with friends and family, they give you a look, you then end up backing down, and agreeing to something that you don’t want to do, that can often impact your mind, body and spirit.

The result that this can have on your health can be catastrophic. I have learnt from experience, it is not easy to say ‘No’, but once you start it does get easier.

I have always been quite easy going and happy to go along with things, and even though I might not want to do something, rather than say so, I have gone along with it for fear of upsetting anyone, and in the process made myself feel ill and then complained that I wish I hadn’t done it.

Living with a chronic pain condition requires you to pace yourself……….easier said than done, particularly when you are having a good time and feel better. In the early days of my diagnoses, I did not think it possible that I would ever have good days and feel well. If I wanted to something special, like going for a night out, I knew that I would have to weigh up the fact that I would feel really poorly for 3 or 4 days after the night out. It was always worth it, but then sometimes you have a really good day and do more as you feel well and then the next day you have a relapse.
I thought I was invincible and everyone kept telling me to pace myself, I thought I knew best, then burn out!

A couple of years ago, I was walking with a stick, sometimes I didn’t need it, on the days when I had paced myself. They were good days. Then I would do a bit more than I should have done, the pacing went out of the window and the stick started to became an indication of a good or bad day. As Fibro is a hidden illness, on stick days friends, family and colleagues could tell it was a bad day. However on good days, because I didn’t have my stick, some people got the impression I was well. They did not realise the effort that I had gone to, to walk without a stick.

It still takes a lot of determination and I still have to make sacrifices and battle with my body to ensure that I use effective pacing, to stay pain and medication free. Learning to stay ‘NO’ has been the biggest tool in my Holistic healing journey, sometimes it has been really hard and difficult, not to justify why I am saying No.

I like Bruce Campbell’s description of The Energy Envelope

To use the idea of the energy envelope, think of your situation as having three elements. The first is your available energy. This is the energy you have to accomplish things. It is limited and is replenished by rest and food. The second is your expended energy, the energy you lose through physical, mental and emotional exertion.

The third is your symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, pain, and so on. In this view, if you expend more energy than you have available, you will intensify your symptoms. This is called living outside the energy envelope. An alternative is living inside the energy envelope.

If you keep your expended energy within the limits of your available energy, you have a chance to reduce symptoms, and over time may be able to expand your limits.

Life is not a rehearsal, this is it! Why waste your time doing something you really don’t want to do. Take control of your life. Learn to say NO and start living inside Your Energy Envelope.

Recently everyone has been telling me I look so well; I feel amazing but it takes a lot of effort and I continue to attend my weekly yoga practice, my monthly gong baths, I fill my life with people who make me laugh and smile and avoid the energy vampires (those people who leave me feeling worn out, as they feed off my energy to make themselves feel better). Sometimes you need to be selfish if you want to get your life back.

Try saying NO, it could really be the starting point to your own empowerment.


I am going to enjoy this!


I recently met an inspirational lady who has really changed the way I see and do things. Earlier this month I had a text from a yogi friend who gave me the heads up, that we would be doing laughing yoga on our usual Friday yoga practice. As a lady who had come into her shop to buy an ice-cream, had ended up leaving her, agreeing to show us the practice of laughing yoga!


I had heard of laughing yoga, but had not ever had the opportunity to try it out. So it was with great anticipation and excitement that I rocked up to yoga that Friday, ready and willing to laugh my socks off. I should point out at this stage, that my long-suffering yoga teacher Virginia often has to become a bit stern with the Friday group, as we are a bit raucous and exuberant with our energy on Friday mornings,  that she has to try to contain the naughty ones that can be very disruptive. (naturally that’s not me, as you all know I am very quiet and unassuming!!!!!).   


I met Kirti the lovely laughing yoga lady on route to the studio and immediately warmed to her wonderful aura. Once we were all settled she explained about the benefits of laughing yoga, and when she told us of her age and some medical conditions she had; I was blown away by this passionate and extremely well looking lady. There is definitely something in it. Her positive attitude shone through.


We started off the session by clapping and saying ho, ho, ha, ha, ha and then went through some various exercises that had me in hysterics, including greeting each other and talking gibberish, it was hilarious. My face hurt so much from smiling and laughing.


Kirti explained that we often go through life with a copy and paste attitude. Each day we have a habit of copying and do the same things from yesterday and end up filling our lives with stuff, without any time to Just Be and Notice……. That really struck a chord with me. I now make sure that I take time out to just be and notice the little things, even if it is just to change the way I do things.


By nature we tend to always clean our teeth with the same hand. TRY THIS…….clean your teeth with the opposite hand, not only does it clean your teeth differently due to the change in angle, but it is retraining your brain away from default and then try standing on the opposite leg from the one that is cleaning your teeth. I nearly choked on the toothpaste as it started to make me laugh.


Oh what Joy………the blissful sound of laughter, the smile, the feeling, the great energy it creates.


You want to keep your brain active? Get a note pad and on the right hand side jot down the numbers 1-10 with that hand then on the left hand jot down the numbers 1-10 with your left hand and then write the number one next to the number and two and so on with right and left hands then progress onto sentences….in time your non dominant handwriting will look the same. I still have a long way to go, my brain is getting a full work out. It is a great form of meditation.


At the end of the session we sat back to back with each other and started to slow our breathing down and back into a calm state. This was so hard, I carried on laughing so much it made me cry! I left that morning with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I had a few weird looks whilst walking around the supermarket, if only they knew what I know! Oh how they may be able to enhance their lives.


Later that evening, I started to giggle, my husband asked what I was laughing at, which make me laugh even more, so much so that I became hysterical and couldn’t speak, as I was laughing at the fact I was laughing about nothing, that made me laugh even more. I felt great, I even laughed away the pain that I got in my side from laughing so much. It must be good for you. When you breathe out and laugh you empty all the stale air from your lungs, it’s a proven thing, try it! It’s really difficult to breath in when your laughing…..  


 Kirti has this amazing Mantra that I have started to use:

When faced with challenges in life, as we all are; instead of facing it head-on with fear and dread. Take a deep breath in and say to yourself, I AM and as you breath out slowly say to yourself GOING TO ENJOY THIS.


Go on, try to live your life differently, change the way you think, stop copying and pasting, tell the people who matter that you love them, let the little things make you smile and most of all, laugh and enjoy life! 



Want to know more about laughing yoga, please contact ~ Kirti Sharma
Come to the amazing yoga studio, please contact~ Virginia Compton



My Holistic Fibro Fighter Blog

The Dawn of a New Day

This month’s Blog, has taken me a while to write and I want to share with you how Holistic Therapies have supported me through a very emotional time.

 I have been traversing a period of extreme stress and emotional challenges and often that’s when Fibro rears its ugly head with a massive flare up. Something has changed; my energy, my belief, my coping strategies, can’t quite put my finger on it.   What I do know is; I feel amazing and many people who know me well, have commented on how well I look! Should I feel like this? Who knows it’s my journey, but it’s a journey I want to share with you.  

Belief is the first thing. You need to believe that anything is possible and then the change starts, it’s a feeling; how can I feel this good when I should be feeling this……..Just let it be, don’t give it a label. Grief is very raw in the first few days, when you are watching and waiting for someone you love dearly to end their own journey.

Between spending time with them and trying to live my life, I carried on with planned activities and events. I have been attended my weekly yoga class and Virginia Compton my Yoga Guru, has kept me grounded, TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) kicked in on a regular basis during these yoga sessions and I looked like I was on a Pogo Stick, shaking it all out.  As usual I kept laughing.

I went to Sally Free’s Gong Bath, I spent the whole session with red hot tears pouring down my face that filled up my ears, and I physically had to dry them. But I felt very calm. At home I cried without feeling any emotion attached to it, the tears just flowed and I allowed myself and my body to react how it needed to. I kept thinking, I should be feeling this or I should be feeling that. Who makes the rules?

Still wondering if a flare up was going to happen, I continued to spend time with my loved one, precious moments that I know were part of the healing process. When I received that phone call in the early hours of the morning, my body went into automatic TRE. I stood at the end of the bed whilst my legs, torso and arms shook. How wonderful that in less than a year my body knew exactly what it needed to do. I stood there whilst my whole body shook for about two minutes. I then calmly sat and watched the dawn break and the sun rise on a new day…….     

 Please click on this link to listen to the radio interview I took part in a few days later

The Power of TRE

When I say I practice TRE, most folks automatically assume I stand with my arms in the air, pretending to be a Tree. You stay fully clothed! (My dad thinks anything Holistic is done naked). There is no need to go and hug any trees afterwards; unless you want to.

In June last year, I attended a Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) workshop, I went with an open mind.  I had heard about TRE from my Yoga teacher Virginia Compton and she arranged for Jo Hamilton a TRE practitioner to come and teach us how to use the excersies.

TRE releases the natural shaking that occurs in most animals, this is said to help reduce stress, anxiety and tension in the body that has been held in our psoas muscle, deep within our core. It releases the tension from our muscles and fascia (the network of nerve endings all over our body), sending messages to our brain and I guess it promotes the feeling of healing and wellbeing.  We humans have managed to suppress this natural reaction to dealing with stress in our lives. Research has also shown it to be effective in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other medical conditions.  The exercises and research were founded by David Berceli PHD.  

I wanted to feel better, to continue not taking any pain relief medicines. Having spent time trying numerous holistic approaches to managing my Fibromyalgia, I decided to give it ago, at the start of the workshop, Jo showed some clips showing TRE in practice, there was a guy who was suffering from Fibromyalgia. Hearing him speak about the positive results he received from TRE, brought a tear to my eye and a glimmer of hope. Having learnt how to start the natural shaking, my body started to shake. At first I thought I was making my body shake, or I was imagining it, you can’t, it just does it on its own, you are taught how to stop it. My legs just wanted to flop from side to side as a spinal twist, the strange thing is, I can’t even do that move in such a strong yoga posture. As soon as I started the tremors, the rocking started, it was like car window wipers. Your body just needs to do its thing, I went with it.

Having completed my shaking, I really felt something had shifted I knew this was something big and life changing. I felt lighter, different and whilst I was shaking I could not stop laughing. I did not have to re-live any of my trauma, although now I have been practicing TRE more frequently I am still not sure what trauma I am shaking off, all I know is it changes each time I do it. Sometimes I get a tremor in my right arm, possibly from an old dislocation. However, I do not want to label it, as that is not necessary in order to receive the benefits.  

Everyone who practices TRE shakes differently, I usually end up going across the lounge floor, or just a gentle rocking motion. Occasionally I start to shake whilst I am in a yoga pose, this often causes me to giggle, but it feels so natural. Shortly after completing the TRE workshop I went to Ibiza on holiday and did not need to take my walking stick! I did not have any pain in my hips, knees or feet. Result……….

At Christmas I went to the dentist, normally a very traumatic experience for me due to a very severe phobia. I suffer from indigestion and hiccups and as soon as I get in the chair I start to cry. This time I went, I did not need to use my Bach flower remedies or remember to practice relaxing yoga breaths. I sat in the chair and all was well. I made a comment to my husband in the car on the way home, and said what has changed, the only thing I can put it down to is TRE!

I am so passionate about the benefits of TRE that I recently found that Jo Hamilton was running a work shop in Totnes and I went along to accompany my husband who was in intrigued to experience TRE.

Less than a week later, I get a phone call at 1.00 am in the morning to inform me that my father was seriously ill and being taken by ambulance to A & E whilst talking on the phone TRE kicked in and I started to shake, I was very calm and placed the phone down and went back to bed and the tremors continued very gently and I then fell into a deep sleep.

Life is not always easy, but if you find something that works, give it ago. There is lots of information available about TRE on the internet. I feel that it is very important to go to a workshop run by a practitioner, who will gently guide you through the process as it is important to stay grounded, so that you remain in control of your shaking and you can stop it, when you want.

Since completing TRE my life has changed, I do not feel that knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I feel much calmer. I think it is how I respond to situations and my body’s reaction to them.  My pain has subsided, I still get the odd niggle, but not enough to need pain killers. I still occasionally feel fatigue, but it is more tolerable without the pain. I believe the long term benefits from practicing TRE are; less experience of pain, better sleep, a different way of reacting to stress and an increase in general health.

I do not feel that my Fibromyalgia is impacting on my life the way it once did, I have already started to use Fibro in the past tense. As a Holistic Fibro Fighter I really believe healing can help. What an amazing great future I have, embracing the natural healing of my body; rather than accepting the diagnosis offered to me by rheumatology in 2014.

To find out more information about TRE contact Jo Hamilton  

Gonging It!


About four years ago, having been given my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, I spotted a Gong meditation advertised locally, not knowing what to expect, I went along, it was the most amazing experience ever. Afterwards I felt transformed, alive and knew I wanted more.

Some months went by and I found an advert for a Gong bath, I just knew I had to go. I was still having extreme pain in all my joints, I had received acupuncture that had assisted in the mobility coming back into my hands. I just wanted to be able to walk again, taking a cocktail of drugs to take the edge off the pain, but it was the deep, aching pain in my knees, hips, ankles and feet the really bothered me. More than anything I wanted my life back.

I went to Lupton House near Brixham feeling slightly apprehensive, there I met this amazing lady called Sally. She is a Sound Therapist and was going to play singing bowls, other instruments and the most amazing gongs. I lay down on the floor with my cushion to rest my head and a blanket to keep me warm. The only way I can describe what happens during a gong bath, is to say you need to experience it……….. Afterwards I hardly had any pain, I was able to walk. 

A couple of times a year Sally organises an all-night gong bath, where you bed down for the night and the gongs play continually, it is a wonderful experience and I feel so alive in the morning, every cell in my body feels massaged and regenerated.

Over the years Sally has acquired new gongs and each one produces an incredibly rare and almost etheric, out of space sound, my brain is unable to make sense, as no tune is played and my body can relax, letting it go into a very restful phase, often a deep sleep.  

No, you do not take all your clothes off for this kind of bath, you snuggle up fully dressed in your nest of blankets, pillows, foam mattress or whatever makes you feel comfortable. You don’t have to lie on the floor, you can sit in a chair, and you could stand up and walk around if you really wanted to; though I have not seen anyone do this yet. When I tell people I am having a Gong bath, they reply, ‘Oh yes’ and then a say ‘A what?’ You need to give it a go, feel it for yourself.

I find a Gong Bath to be a very effective form of pain relief. The great thing is, it takes no effort at all to receive this holistic treatment, and you just let the sound waves wash over you. I try to have one at least once a month as part of my Fibromyalgia pain management programme. Thanks to Sally and the Gongs; I have got my life back.

For more information regarding Gong Baths please contact Sally Free





Fibro or Flu?


Having spent the past week unable to get out of bed suffering from aching joints, sweats, shivering, a four day headache and the most horrendous cough. I thought I had gone back four years and was having a massive fibromyalgia flare up.

It started on Friday, just after I had completed my weekly yoga class, we had done some cleansing breaths and that had started to move things about, a bit too much maybe! Within in the hour I had got myself home and then crashed and burned on the sofa, the pain in my joints was intense, I thought it might be down to Pigeon pose as that often makes my hips remind me that they are still there. I just wanted to lie still with no noise and my eyes shut. Could this be a flare up? It has been some months since I have had one and my body has adjusted to life.

A niggle in the back of my mind, Oh no, please not again, I have been doing so well, I have not put myself in a stressful situation, I am eating healthy , I  am looking after my body. What have I done wrong……………

NOTHING. I have done nothing wrong, its just my body that has gone wrong. Saturday morning came and I had had little sleep, I just couldn’t get out of bed and so I stayed for the whole weekend, I had lost my appetite, I was still reluctant to take any pain relief I stopped all that almost 2 years ago. I asked my husband for Lucozade and Lemsip. I took 2 capsules, I felt worse hot, sweaty and my heartbeat had speeded up. Oh no, I forgot its got caffeine in it, didn’t think that such a small amount could have such a rapid effect on my body. Although it does remind me of the time I had a wonderful Tiramisu an Italian restaurant, I thought I was having a heart attack, having not drunk caffeine for a number of years.

By Monday, I had decided that this is most certainly Flu not Fibro, now to get to the Doctor. I have had a habit of avoiding visiting the doctor since being diagnosed with Fibro as everything can be put down to Fibro. I got an appointment after getting past the receptionist and speaking to another doctor who when told me to come into the surgery. I struggled to talk as the rasping cough kept taking me out.

Down at the surgery, I started to feel very unwell, came over all hot, shaky and could not stop coughing. Saw I lovely young doctor who told me I looked a bit peeky! they will go a long way. Left with some steroids, my local pharmacist is very helpful and suggested fresh fruit salad as I had not been able to keep any food down, It works, just made a big bowl up, cling filmed it and put it in the fridge and then had a couple of spoonful throughout the day. Result.

Well, here I am almost a week later, still not out of the woods, but at least I’m not spending all day in bed, my appetite has started to return. not needing the painkillers, the cough is still lingering, but at least I can talk and walk now without feeling my lungs about to explode. I have spent every night listening to music and a yoga nidra to help sleep.   Most importantly I knew it was flu and I kept telling myself, I will soon start to feel better. I felt like I wanted to complete my TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) but did not have the energy, I believe I could have shaken it all off. That however is another story.


This is me…..

I decided that I needed to start a blog to share with you all.  There is  life after being given a chronic pain diagnosis. I am not saying that life is easy, it uses a lot of energy, but it is how I channel that energy, to support my healing journey that is important.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2014 and felt I was being given a life sentence. A debilitating condition that had side swiped me, I had heard nothing of it , until Rheumatology gave me a booklet together with a diagnosis. Life stood still for many months whilst I came to terms with the massive changes in my health, I was too ill to work for 6 months and although being prescribed drugs to ease the pain, I knew I needed to start a journey to help heal myself.

I still have good and bad days but more good days and no drugs; instead I have embraced the holistic lifestyle and am now back to work, part time and give myself time to help heal my body using different therapies. In doing so a whole community has been opened up to me. I understand the need to pace yourself and everyone who suffers from Fibro has very different symptoms, but we all need someone to listen to us and understand the pain is very real, just because you can’t see, the pain isn’t any less.

I feel that having to deal with this condition has made me a more positive person and I now live life to the full, sleeping when I need to and when I have the energy getting on and enjoying my life exploring interests that I did not have time for when I worked full time.

In some weird way Fibro has given me a new lease of life, and a great network of supportive and understanding fellow beings.