How Our Emotions Affect Our Immunity

So I’ve succumbed to the horrid flu virus that’s going around. To be honest I’d been feeling a little smug believing I wouldn’t get it. I can’t remember the last time I’d had flu as my immunity was good – mainly because of my continued diet of eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar for the past 30 years. I do have the odd bit every now and then but I do predominantly stay off them.

But then Christmas came and I had a little mince pie. It was SO good I had to have another. Then I found myself eating and drinking all sorts of things I normally wouldn’t…..cheese, brandy butter, christmas pud, wine……you get the picture.

And my immunity weakened.

I also stopped meditating and journaling. When I’m staying with others I find it’s not always so easy to maintain my practice. Meditating actually boosts your immune system (read more about that here). And journalling is a great way to dump/express what’s on your mind and in your heart.

And so my immunity lowered even further.

But the thing that really cinched its final crash was the often overlooked but very important link with our emotions. Yes, our emotions affect our immunity. I’ve certainly learnt this through my own life experiences but now there’s a great deal of scientific proof out there to back it up. (This book is a great place to start. ) According to mind-body teacher Debbie Shapiro, flu sends a clear message that ‘time out’ is needed from something that’s having a strong influence on you. (Interestingly, the world influenza means ‘to come under the influence of’.) So, what was I so strongly coming under the influence of?

Well, you know we said goodbye to Angus on Tuesday for a few more months. And I felt very heavy hearted as I watched my family hugging each other in tears. But there was nothing I could do about it. It was all out of my control. Yet something very deep and very strong arouse from within me. I’d known these feelings before. Many times before. I’d had to say goodbye to my mother at a young age as I was whisked off to live with my father. And I cried my little eyes out for what seemed like hours. There was nothing I could do about it. It was out of my control. Then I had to leave my father to live with my grandparents in another country. I didn’t understand why. But there was nothing I could do about it. It was out of my control. My grandfather sadly collapsed and died. It meant I had to move to another family in another country. And there was nothing I could do about it. It was out of my control. My father sometimes came to visit us. But it never seemed long enough. And he always left (via the airport). And each time I was devastated. But there was nothing I could do about it. It was out of my control. Seeing my own children hugging their father at the airport in absolute tears brought all these memories and all those emotions up for me. And there was nothing I could do about it. It was out of my control.

That was the day I fell ill!

I have worked through so much of my childhood but this was one aspect I hadn’t directly approached before. Yet my body was retaining those memories which a similar emotion at the airport had triggered. I’ve learnt this is the body’s way of saying it’s time for that area of our life to be addressed. So it took some forced ‘time out’ to slow things down and allow me to absorb, adjust, rebalance (and heal) accordingly.

I share this with you to highlight the very important connection between our emotions and our health. If memories or emotions are triggered like this, please don’t ignore them. If you do or you push them back down, they’ll only come up stronger elsewhere in another way. (A bit like trying to push an inflatable ball underwater!) Please listen to your body and find someone like me who can help you work through it. Believe me, your future health will thank you!

Here’s to a healthy 2018!

Embracing Anger

This is one of the five Reiki principles I learnt, which I’m afraid to say I completely lost sight of last week when some anger erupted from seemingly nowhere with my kids. The whys and wherefores aren’t important here…..but the anger is.

A&A went off to school but the anger stayed with me. I felt it flow through my veins like it’d been injected into my system. Then I became really dull, like all my emotions had somehow been dampened. After a while I felt really tired. So much so that I fell asleep.

When I woke up I had a throbbing headache and my neck ached. My body was trying to tell me something and I needed to figure out what.

Interestingly we’d just had family over from the UK. We had a lovely time together but we were really sad when they left. As soon as we were up, we were out and about showing them around so I hadn’t meditated for a few days.

I knew I needed to connect with my deeper self to not only come face to face with this anger but to also go deeper than it. That way I could observe my feelings objectively, hopefully enabling some healing.

I sat quietly and asked my self ‘Where is my anger stored?’ and wrote down all that came up.

I then asked ‘What is my anger saying?’ and listened for the answers.

I kept this inner dialogue going until I got to the bottom of it. It was really interesting what was revealed and what it connected to. It turns out that my eruption was deep-seated and created a kind of body armor tightening the muscles in my head and neck. They were literally holding onto my repressed anger, creating tension. My energy was so depleted that my system actually shut down for a bit making me need to rest for a while.

Left unattended these repressed feeling can actually damage the immune system, eventually leading to all sorts of physical ailments including inflammation (literally being ‘inflamed’).

Once I’d addressed where the anger had come from I gave myself permission to release it. The headache and neck ache gradually ceased and I was right as rain the next day!

So we need to deal with these things as they come up (or get help doing so). We mustn’t let them go back down again to only reappear stronger another time. Our amazing bodies try to give us clues via disturbances, ailments, feelings, dreams etc….

Let’s not ignore them.

Let’s tune-in and listen!

The Legend of The Two Wolves

Hi there!

Have you ever read the Cherokee legend of the two wolves? It seems to be doing the rounds again and recently popped back up on my FaceBook feed:

An elder brave tells his grandson about life.

“Grandson,” he says, “Within all of us there is a battle of two wolves.”

“One is evil. He is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

“The same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person too,” explained the wise Cherokee.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

Very dualistic, very black and white, but also ‘sweet’ I thought, and moved on. Only, I couldn’t move on. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t know why. So I went back and read it again. It still had a hold. I turned to my trusted journal to try and bash it out, like I do!

Hmmm! I wrote a list of all the not so desirable qualities mentioned in the story and decided to see how many of those ‘evil’ things I gave time to in my life. It turned out to be quite a lot. Infact, ALL of them! Oh dear (why exactly had I started this exercise?).

So I moved swiftly to the ‘other side’ to hopefully counter-balance my apparent evilness. Only I was shocked to find that this list wasn’t nearly as full as I thought it would be! Nowhere near in fact! There on the page lay the apparent answer to the wolf I fed the most. And it wasn’t the one I was expecting (not happy!).

I tossed the list aside (in anger) annoyed at myself for even starting it in the first place (regret), and sad that the outcome hadn’t been more desirable (sorrow, arrogance, self-pity…..).

It was blatantly clear I needed to give a lot more time than I had been to the ‘good’ stuff. But how?  I grabbed the journal back, started at the top of the list, and wrote, ‘How can I bring more joy in my life?’ and waited for the answer…..

Sit quietly.

Breathe deeply.


Think about the things that have brought you joy.

Focus on how that feels. Rest for a while in that feeling.

Now, what can you do to bring more joy into your life?

That worked! My mood definitely began to shift and very interesting things came out onto the page. So I moved on to ‘peace’. The interesting thing is, the answer was pretty much the same for each: sit quietly, breathe deeply, relax, think about the times when you’ve felt (insert word)……..

I’m not quite so horrid after all! But it was still obvious I needed to practice sooooo much more of the good stuff and waaaaay less of the bad.

Having said that, I’m naturally not an ‘it’s either black or white’ kind of person….more a ‘flowery in between’ type. So I naturally wanted to somehow meet in the middle. If I could learn to be kinder to my faults, rather than take a sledge-hammer to them, (which only left me feeling guilty and yuck anyway), then perhaps I’d learn to be more compassionate to myself. And if I could learn to be more compassionate to myself, then maybe I could be more understanding of other people’s weaknesses (one can but hope!).

It’s certainly been true thus far that the more intolerant I am of my own faults and failings, the more intolerant I am of other people’s.

So perhaps if I can see the not so desirable stuff as my teaching aids whenever they arise, I can actually learn to get to a place of balance somewhere between my weakness and my goodness (preferably more towards the goodness eventually!). And if I can accomplish that, then maybe my relationships will flourish (I’ll let you know!).

In the meantime, let me ask you the inevitable question:

Which wolf do you feed most my friend?


Positively Irritating!

Hi there!

Sorry I haven’t written for a couple of weeks. I wasn’t really sure what to write! I’m guessing that you’d really like news of what life’s like out here but there’s been no major event that’s happened or anything that’s really stood out. I think I’ve been weirdly putting some sort of pressure on myself to come up with something interesting. Something inspiring.



But I did want to keep in touch…so here’s where I’m at: we’ve been here for nine weeks now. (Nine weeks!) I think it might actually be sinking in that we’re not here on holiday, that we’re here to live! And if I’m to be really honest, that feels a little ‘blaaah’ right now. (And it’s not helped by the fact I’ve come up with some strange rash on my face). Weird really, because whilst Big A’s at work and the mini As are at school, I’ve been really loving having my own space…..reading, writing, painting,……bliss! (Or so I thought!)

Perhaps the ‘blaaahness’ it’s because the weather’s getting cooler (by ‘cooler’ I mean it’s been going down into the 80s/30s – ºF/ºC!) Think not! Maybe it’s because the rugby season’s started and, having been such a part of it for the last 9 years or so, we’re now feeling well and truly out of it! Perhaps all our toing and froing this year has finally caught up with me? Or it may just be that we’ve hit the two month mark?

I first heard about this from my biological Mother and pretty much dismissed it at the time. She used to work for the American School system in Istanbul. Her job was to help ‘orientate’ the new English speaking teachers into Turkey. Most of them were initially excited about their new roles and the new culture they’d be living in for the next two years. But at about two months in, when the excitement had waned and it became more the norm, they usually had a wobble! (It was part of her job to be there for them at that point too!)

So perhaps that’s the reason for my flatness right now! Then I hear my lovely friend’s voice saying, “It’s alright for you, Yas. You’re naturally positive.” Am I? Naturally? (I’m not sure!) Though what I am sure about is that I’ve worked hard to get to this place…..and it’s definitely still a consistent work in progress!


All that stuff I do…..journaling, living in the now, gratitude lists etc. that I’ve mentioned in this blog…..are just some of the ways I keep working at it. And it’s all very well writing about me, me, me and us, us, us but it’d feel weird to me if I weren’t giving something back too. So even if one person benefits from all this….then I’m a happy bunny! (And that’s what encouraged me to write today.) But I’m also only just realising that when I’m in that positive place, it can be hugely irritating! (“Change that statement’, I say. “Make it positive!” I say.)  It may be how I try to be but that’s my story…not someone else’s! What I don’t want, however, is to come across as someone who’s life is just perfectly peachy all the time. (We have enough of those types plastered all over the internet!) And the truth is, it ain’t!

So it’s back to the drawing board to see what’s really up, what’s at the heart of this ‘blaaahness’ and this rash and what I can do about it. I’ll write in my journal, for sure, but before I do I’m going to sit in silence for a while and just meditate on it. It somehow penetrates right to the core of me when I do that. And in that place an answer or an idea may ‘pop up’ to help!  (I’ll expand on that more another time!) But for now…


So onwards and through it is!

I’ll be back in touch soon. Promise!

Take care of you!