Making sense of your moods and emotions with Andrea Harrn

Making sense of your moods and emotions with Andrea Harrn

Psychotherapist and author Andrea Harrn talks to Steve Nobel about how mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and positive psychology theories are woven together to create The Mood Cards. 

Psychology doesn’t have to be complicated.The Mood Cards offers a fun and accessible way to help you identify and explore your moods and emotions.

Andrea explains how she designed the cards to help teachers, psychologists, mental health professionals and hospice workers connect with, and help their clients open up about their moods and emotions. Andrea talks through a couple of cards with Steve, giving examples of the questions she may ask her client and the issues surrounding each emotion.

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Listen to Andrea and Steve chat about emotions, psychotherapy and get a closer look at the emotions including Anger, Acceptance, Forgiveness and Disapointment.

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Steve Nobel:                       So, hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel and today I’m speaking with Andrea Harrn on The Mood Cards. Now, Andrea’s a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, intuitive healer, and expert in emotional intelligence, and she’s the creator of The Mood Cards, published by Eddison Books. Now, these cards are based on cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, and positive psychology. There are 42 cards in the box, showing a variety of emotions, ranging from happy to sad to resentment to guilt to stress. Each card comes with guided questions for self exploration, plus an affirmation for positive thinking, and her mission in creating these cards is to bring peace and understanding to the word through emotional intelligence, empathy, forgiveness, and love. And a good website to check out these cards is Hi, Andrea.

Andrea Harrn:                    Hello, Steve.

Steve Nobel:                       Can I ask you … I really think they’re brilliant, by the way. I’ve been looking through them and I can see so many applications for these. Can you say something about how you came to create these cards?

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, sure. Well, I’m working in my therapy, and I’ve been a psychotherapist for over 18 years now. I was noticing that a lot of people found it really hard to find the words to express their words and feelings and their emotions, and I was actually looking for a product myself that I could show to people with the different types of faces and expressions, and there was nothing available. So I just started to work on my own set of cards.

Andrea Harrn:                    In the beginning I imagined that this was something that I was just gonna use for myself. But as the idea developed it sort of grew and grew and I could see that there could a good use for this with other therapists, because if I was looking for it then I guess other people might be looking for that as well. As the idea developed, I began to realise that this could actually be a great tool for people that aren’t even in therapy, just being at home on their own and maybe struggling with how they think and feel. The idea developed over a period of time, and it eventually became the product it is now, which is a product that is suitable for adults and children and also the professionals to use, and teachers, and anyone really working with vulnerable people.

Steve Nobel:                       Great. I was going to ask you that actually, because they have these kind of very child-like faces, don’t they on these, kind of round faces with different expressions, but I guess everyone can relate to that.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, the point was I wanted to keep them very simple, so I didn’t exclude anybody. I did toy with the idea of making the faces fancier, but I just really liked that that’s not necessary, and actually simple is good, because what the faces do is they act as a mirror to whoever’s looking at them, they act as a mirror to that person. So in a way, when you’re looking at the card you’re reflecting your own impression onto the image, and the image is looking back at you. It’s that simple form that helps people to open up, because there’s no barriers there.

Steve Nobel:                       Do you think, it seems to me this way, that there’s a greater need for emotional intelligence in our modern day world? We’re kind of trained educationally to think and to do stuff, but what about emotional intelligence?

Andrea Harrn:                    Well, I think that it is something that is very important, because if you look at the way society is and other societies are [inaudible 00:03:23] in a way to think certain ways or believe in certain ideologies, or religions or ways of doing things. Even in families, families are built up with certain structures. Actually it’s quite hard for people to break away from that, and sometimes you feel that you can’t be who you are because you’re born into a certain society or to a certain culture.

Andrea Harrn:                    What the mood cards does is it helps you to think for yourself. So they can actually be quite challenging to a person using them, because as it gets you to really think things through, and it might go against what you’ve believed or to avoid in the way that you’ve seen life or thought about life, and really understanding it through emotions is a great way to do it, because emotions is what drives us. When we drive with our emotions our moods influence the way we behave, and of course, having emotional intelligence can help us to understand who we are, and have better relationships with people. If we can understand, especially when things go wrong, if we can understand what it was that happened to us in that process of things if things go wrong or maybe go right, then we can look at how to make things better in relationships, or having better connections with people, more understanding.

Andrea Harrn:                    So yeah emotional intelligence also opens up self-awareness, and it opens up empathy, and deeper connection. That has to be a good thing for societies.

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah, no, I come from an averagely neurotic British family, that’s my background. Certain emotions felt almost like taboos. There were certain feelings that just would not seem to be allowed. Do you think that’s kind of a general thing for a lot of families?

Andrea Harrn:                    I think that sometimes people aren’t given the opportunity to express themselves and feel that they’re being listened to. For example, if you are feeling a certain way and you are wanting to express that, but you weren’t given that space to express it, and you don’t feel like you’re being listened to. In the end you just begin to clam up and hold all those emotions in. That’s why people have problems in mental health, because they’re not able to express themselves properly, they’re not able to be heard, and to use other people to bounce ideas off. It can feel for some people that there’s no point in telling anybody how they feel, or if they do tell somebody that they’re gonna be talked over or told that they’re wrong.

Andrea Harrn:                    So yeah, it’s good to be able to express yourself and to give a person the chance to listen to you and you to listen to them. That’s really what I wanted to create the cards, because I wanted to bring an easy way really for people to look at how they’re feeling, and to have conversations with others. For example, if you’re using the cards with a friend or with your partner, or maybe for a parent using it with child, the questions on the cards actually allow people to open up, because it’s not the person asking the question it’s the card that asks the question. So it does allow people to open and answer in an honest way and hopefully be listened to.

Steve Nobel:                       I never really thought much about the difference between a mood and an emotion, but I guess there is one. What’s the difference?

Andrea Harrn:                    Well, I mean both of them are temporary so nothing is permanent. For example, if you wake up and you’re feeling angry when you first wake up, by lunch time you may feel quite happy because your day’s gone well. So I would say that you could wake up in a bad mood, but you can be in a good mood later on in the day, something good happened. Emotional thinking is more instinctual. It might be when somebody does something and you immediately go into a feeling of hurt or disappointment, and you feel that in your body. So it’s more of an instinctual biological response. To be honest moods and emotions there’s a crossover in both of them. More or less they’re both really doing the same thing, except that I would say that a mood can be longer lasting, and emotions tend to come and go.

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah. Now your cards are based on CBT, mindfulness and positive psychology. Can you say something about how all of this works together? How have you woven all these different things together?

Andrea Harrn:                    Okay well it would really be, the cards are a reflection of how I work as a therapist. So I’m an integrative therapist and many therapists will be working in an integrative way. So you know lots of models and study to become a therapist and a counsellor, but you never just stick to one model anyway, because life’s not like that and people aren’t black and white, so it won’t work that way. So really what I’ve done in the cards is the cards are reflection of how I work.

Andrea Harrn:                    For example with the mindfulness, it’s really about paying attention to the mood or the emotion that you feel, not trying to push it away, but just looking at it and sitting with it for a while, and being able to accept yes this me, this is how I feel. And that’s really important to do that because if you don’t do that then you’re just burying it and pushing it down or fighting it or resisting it.

Andrea Harrn:                    Then CBT, which is cognitive therapy, is a really useful way to break down problems, and look at how your thinking might be affecting the situation. For example, some people have what I call a negative script, everything about them tends to be, it might be nothing’s going to work, people don’t like me, I’ve got no friends, I’ll never get that job, things don’t go my way, that would be a typical negative script. So what CBT aims to do is look at how a person thinks about a problem, and then break it down and see is that actually true, is there evidence for that, okay if that is the case what can you do to move forward from that. So it’s quite a structured process. CBT is quite structured by it aims to move somebody from thinking negatively about a situation, to be able to see a different perspective, and hopefully to come out seeing a brighter side or a learning that you can take forward.

Andrea Harrn:                    Then the positive psychology is more to do with changing mindset, having positive thoughts, thinking about life in a more positive way. That also includes, well on the cards it is about the affirmations, and being able to give yourself positive statements. The thought is just a message that we give ourselves, and it’s just as easy to give ourselves a nice little or a helpful thought than it is to give ourselves a bad thought or a negative thought. But it does take practise to learn how to do that.

Andrea Harrn:                    I have separated the cards out into three different areas of working on the cards, and usually what I would suggest is people start with the mindfulness, which is looking at the image. And then also the statements and the words on the front and the image which you can work with as well. Then moving on to the three questions which is the CBT moving on to the affirmation. So why I’ve done in that way is I’ve found that a lot of my clients were looking at positive affirmations, and saying that they didn’t work for them because they hadn’t really moved to that point where they could say a positive affirmation. There was still work to do, there was resentment, or hurt, or disappointment or trauma that hadn’t been worked through. So if you could imagine if you’d been through a trauma or something really difficult, say something like I really love myself, it’s like sticking a plaster on top of a huge wound. So you work through the wounds and the injury before you can come out and give yourself the positive affirmation and actually feel, yeah this feels right for me now.

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah, I guess these cards have a wide range of applications from schools to therapy sessions. Can you say something about, kinda, the applications you envision for these cards?

Andrea Harrn:                    When I first created the cards, I didn’t really know, I sort of did it intuitively, I went through the process of creation of them, and I hoped that they would reach the right people. My intention was these cards will reach the people that need these cards. I couldn’t have imagined at the time how wide this would reach, it’s actually amazing and the publishers have done an amazing job of also making sales of the cards. I think they’re in about 14 languages already, just in three years, which is incredible. I know from the feedback I get from people that they are being used at the moment I know that they’re being used by therapists, psychologists, counsellors. They’re being used in hospices, they’re being used in children’s homes, they’re being used in youth projects, the kids that are on probation, or kids that are getting into trouble, they’re being used in schools, they’re being used by mental health workers.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, there’s lots of cases and at junior schools and primary schools. I am really happy that they’re reaching into schools as well, because that’s such a good place to be teaching children about emotions. When schools talk about results, you know SATs results, and other results, well you know so many kids don’t do well at school because there’s so many emotional problems going on. I think especially nowadays with so many children coming from difficult backgrounds, poverty, and chaotic family life, refugees. There’s a whole array and reasons why kids can’t do well at school, and these are emotional reasons, so it’s actually, I feel really happy that they’re getting into schools now.

Andrea Harrn:                    It’s so simple to use the cards as well that they can be used by children from about three or four upwards. So yeah they’re being used in lots of places, and of course by individuals buying them just for themselves to use for their own self-awareness and their own self development. They’re being used by couples as well to help to understand each other, because quite often you can be with somebody for twenty years and not really know what makes them tic. But somehow using the cards, the questions on those cards gets people to open up in a way that they might have ever opened up before. It does deepen connections.

Steve Nobel:                       Great. Now I’ve picked four cards just to give people a flavour of this, and let’s go through. The first one I’ve pick is this universal, probably universal, anger with a big red border with a ‘grrrr’ around it with a round face and kind of grimace. Can you just take us through this card?

Andrea Harrn:                    Yes sure. Well you’re right, anger is something we all feel isn’t it? I know that I felt angry a few days ago, and it did take me awhile to process that. But what I noticed in my own anger is that it was me that was really suffering. So the meaning of the card is to actually help people to see, well what is it that’s actually causing you to feel angry. When we talk about what it is that’s made you feel angry sometimes you can even laugh about what made you feel angry, because it doesn’t always sound that serious when you speak it out. So the first question, “What is causing you to feel angry?” To actually pinpoint what is the problem here. Is it something simple like somebody pushed in front of you in a queue, or is it something more of an anger that somebody’s done something terrible to you? So it’s about putting things into perspective.

Andrea Harrn:                    The second question on the card is, “How is your anger affecting you and those around you?” I think that’s an important question because when we hold on to anger it’s us that suffers isn’t it, Steve. We’re the ones that are feeling knotted inside. So also thinking about that question, how is it affecting you, how does it affect you physically? Are there knots in your stomach, are you clenching, are you getting hot? Also, what’s your behaviour like, because when you’re angry it might be affecting others around you. So it gets you to think through actually what is happening when I’m angry and how many people are affected by my anger. Then it asks, “what could you do differently?” So that will help you to just think, well maybe I should just walk away or go for a walk and do some deep breathing, something like that.

Andrea Harrn:                    Also, the third question, “Are there possible explanations?” So that question helps people to look at maybe see the other side of things, look at things from other people’s point of view, or perhaps just check out that you’re not making assumptions. Then the affirmation is about being aware of the anger and knowing that that will pass, so it’s not a permanent state.

Steve Nobel:                       The second card, acceptance, with a blue border this time. A bit of a different faced with a statement at the top, “I take life as it comes, there are some things that you just can’t change.” Acceptance.

Andrea Harrn:                    So should I do this card for you, Steve, and that might help you, yeah? So I am just wondering the first question that I might ask you is why you chose this card, acceptance?

Steve Nobel:                       Well, it seems to be a nice follow on from the anger. I chose kind of a difficult one and the a nice easy one, and acceptance to me seemed one of those things, something that I work on a lot. There just really are some things you can’t change. Of course there are some things that you can do things about. So this card really for me is about self-acceptance and accepting external things, around me which I might not like particularly.

Andrea Harrn:                    Okay, so the first question on the back is, “What does acceptance mean to you?” It will mean something different to everybody I’ve asked, but what does it mean to you, Steve? Acceptance as a concept, what does it mean to you?

Steve Nobel:                       It means accepting the parts of myself I might not like very much. For example, my vulnerability, I might not like feeling vulnerable. But it’s accepting that I do have these different aspects of myself, and to love all of those parts or to accept all those parts of myself. Also, accepting what I consider I would say difficult people. Trying to accept them, that that’s the way they are, rather trying to change them. It actually leaves me feeling much happier during the day doing this kind of practise.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, so that would be the second question, “How does it feel inside?” So when you come to that point in acceptance what does that feel like for you inside of you?”

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah, a lot more relaxation, less fighting, less struggling, more going with things, more helped me put my energy towards things which are probably more constructive.

Andrea Harrn:                    So in the future, thinking about acceptance, how can that take you forward if you keep going with this sort of acceptance, how do you think that can help you in moving forward in life?”

Steve Nobel:                       Less worrying, less struggle, less putting energy into things which is a bit pointless in putting into. So it makes me more productive in a way, because I’m actually choosing to my energy into things which can be moved forward, rather on stuff that’s just almost like banging my head against the wall.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, wasted energy.

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah, totally.

Andrea Harrn:                    So do you want to say the affirmation?

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah. I gratefully accept all that comes my way as an opportunity for personal growth and learning. That’s nice, I like that one, very nice.

Andrea Harrn:                    So with the affirmations, they’re not always gonna feel like the right affirmation for people, but I offer that opportunity for people to think about the affirmation, and then maybe if it doesn’t feel quite right to make their own affirmation or change the affirmation slightly that’s fine. It’s not a fixed affirmation that has to be your affirmation. It’s a suggestion of an affirmation. When I’m working with clients I find that they really like the affirmations, they don’t want to change them. It seems to work quite well.

Steve Nobel:                       Great. Now the third card is disappointed, and there’s a kind of grey boarder. I expected more, you know the face is slightly less than happy face.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, so that’s something that causes a lot of problems for people, is disappointment with others, and it’s about expectations. People have their expectations quite high. A lot of people have high expectations than others, and other people can’t make them because they don’t know what they are. So unless it’s a specific agreement that you have with someone, if I do this for you you’ll do that for me. It’s specific, people don’t know what is expected of them. So where expectations are too high, that just leads to disappointment. But nevertheless when people are feeling disappointed, it’s important for them to be able to express it and not just to have the answer that I shouldn’t expect so much, because if you’re feeling disappointed you’re feeling disappointed. It’s important to be able to express why.

Andrea Harrn:                    So the first question is, “Why are you feeling let down, why are you disappointed?” And that gives people the opportunity to just express it, whatever it is, however much it might seem a big thing or a small thing, however it may seem to somebody else, to the person that’s disappointed it’s real, and it’s hurtful, and it’s affecting them. So the first question gives people the opportunity to talk about the disappointment. Who’s let you how do you feel, and also be empathic if you are working with somebody else on this, let them express themselves, be empathic, be kind, be compassionate, this person hurts and they’re disappointed.

Andrea Harrn:                    So and then it talked about that, then you can talk about expectations. Where your expectations realistic, did you expect that to happen? That gives people that opportunity to think, well actually maybe I was just hoping for something that was never going to happen anyway, or perhaps that this is just typical that this person always does this so why am I surprised, you see what I mean? It helps people put it in perspective.

Andrea Harrn:                    Then the third question is, “What can we do to make sure that you no longer let events or behaviour of others affect you?” So in that way it might be well, I know this person always cancels me at the last minute when we have arrangements. So what can you do to no longer let that affect you. Well, I won’t make arrangements with that person, or I will do this or I will do that. So it’s quite a logical practical step that people can begin to take, because it’s about empowerment really as well. Empowering yourself and not being let down by others but actually being in control of the situation, deciding how you are going to manage it, and how you’re going to be in control so you don’t have to be let down by anybody.

Steve Nobel:                       Great. Now the last card is forgiving. A nice green boarder, slightly more smiley face, “We all make mistakes.” This is obviously a much more optimistic and healing card isn’t it?

Andrea Harrn:                    It is. Would you like me to do this one with you, Steve, and ask you the questions?

Steve Nobel:                       Sure, okay.

Andrea Harrn:                    Okay, so do you believe that we all make mistakes?

Steve Nobel:                       Yes, totally.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah. So the first question is, “How easy or hard is it to find forgiveness in your heart?”

Steve Nobel:                       Well to answer this one, being in the spiritual world I should say, it’s very easy, but I’m not going to say it is always very easy. I’ve noticed in myself actually I need to feel everything in myself completely, before I can ever come to a point I could let it go or forgive it. I can’t do it immediately, it sometimes takes me a day or two if it’s very strong to just process all the stuff inside of me to come to a point where I know, okay I’ve felt it all fully. I need to feel it fully, what’s going on and then, not necessarily express it without feeling it. When I’ve come to a point of neutrality, then I find it’s okay, but I have to go through the process first.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah, I think that that’s quite understandable and normal and perfectly acceptable to do that, because we’re human aren’t we and if we’re hurt by someone, then to just forgive somebody straight away, I don’t know, it might happen, but I guess it depends by how hurt you by someone, or what they’ve actually done to think about forgiveness straight away. Would that be saying that well that didn’t matter or you weren’t bothered if you weren’t bothered that it wouldn’t hurt you that much, but if you are bothered than yeah, it’s normal to want to take that time to process.

Andrea Harrn:                    But forgiveness isn’t forgetting, there’s a difference between forgiving someone and forgetting what they … you know still remember what somebody’s done, but you might reach that point when you can forgive them. Actually forgiveness helps you. When you do forgive how do you find that it helps you when you can forgive someone?

Steve Nobel:                       Well, I like the saying, “Forgive but not forget.” I think as you said I think it’s important because there are lessons in life that we can learn from even difficult experiences, rather than just go ah forget about it. So I think what’s the learning and this, how can I learn and grow, and forgiveness kind of lets go of the hard edges of it, lets go of the kind of angst all the story of it. So for me forgiveness is letting go of the story, but absorbing the lessons. I’ve found in my life that I’ve learned so much from the hard knocks as much as from the lovely hugs you know. You do learn from hugs. I think it’s letting of the story of it that keeps us bound in the patented or maybe recreating it.

Andrea Harrn:                    Also, I think it’s similar to the anger card as well. When you’re not forgiving somebody what you’re holding onto is anger or resentment or hurt. All of those negative emotions. You’re the one that suffers when you’re not forgiving. When you can forgive and let it go, actually it frees you up, it frees your energy up for better things and more important things. It’s sort of letting go it’s a cleansing isn’t it, forgiveness?

Steve Nobel:                       Totally. It really feels like a weight is gone.

Andrea Harrn:                    Exactly, exactly. It moves you out of conflict because when you’re not forgiving it there’s a level of conflict there isn’t there?

Steve Nobel:                       Yeah I’ve got a fair amount of scorpio’s on my chart, so I can understand the power of this card. Scorpio’s don’t find it easy, I’m not scorpios I haven’t got a lot in there, so I have to really feel the angst of it and then I’m okay, then it’s gone then it’s fine.

Andrea Harrn:                    Yeah and just as well Steve that this first box, the main colours was relating much to the colour of the chakras as well. When I created the cards I had to sit with all of these feelings and facts. This is a bit of my personal journey here because everyone of these cards, I couldn’t just sit and write it, and create it, I had to actually go through all of these emotions. When I was going through them it was, I connected to where felt the emotions in the body and that helped me to connect with the colours of the chakras and see where those emotions are held. It was a powerful process for me really to go through creating these cards. It was quite hard to write them in the beginning …

Steve Nobel:                       I guess that makes them more powerful doesn’t it?

Andrea Harrn:                    It was really powerful, it was powerful. It was, I had to go through everything myself. That’s why it took a long time to create them. I’ve let them go now. It took me a long time to know that I could let them go, and now I’ve let them go emotionally, and they’re just doing what they need to be doing, they’re out there in the world.

Steve Nobel:                       Well, I highly recommend people to check these cards out. The Mood Cards published by Edison books. Andrea thank you so much for speaking with me.

Andrea Harrn:                    Thank you.

The Mood Cards

Make sense of your moods and emotions for clarity, confidence and well-being

Psychology doesn’t have to be complicated. Based on cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness and positive psychology, The Mood Cards offers a fun and accessible way to help you identify and explore your moods and emotions.

Each card includes guided questions for self-exploration plus an affirmation for positive thinking. Whether to help you manage difficult moods, approach relationships more skilfully, become more sensitive to the needs of others, or simply be able to communicate and listen effectively, using the cards will encourage you to be con dent in who you are, expand your emotional intelligence and help you move forward in a positive way.


Understand deep emotions

Explore more complex emotions and behaviours for healing, happiness and inner peace.

Based on mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology, this pack demystifies psychology and mental-health labels, and offers a fun and accessible way to help you identify and explore moods, feelings and emotions.

Following the success of the original bestselling MOOD CARDS box, this new, stand-alone volume offers 50 cards to help you work with more complex emotions and behaviours, so that you can embark on a deeper journey of self-discovery. Learn more about your issues and obstacles, and how you operate in relationships and work situations, and gain new insights and perspectives that will take you forward to success and a healthy work/life balance. Each card includes guided questions for self-exploration plus an affirmation for positive thinking, and the pack is suitable for personal and professional use alike.

Interview with acupressure expert Laurent Turlin

Interview with acupressure expert Laurent Turlin

Steve Nobel sat down with Laurent Turlin to interview him about his book ‘Heal Yourself with Chinese Pressure points’

Laurent talks about your qi, and how your qi can become stagnant, and how acupressure helps relieve stagnant energy to nourish your organs.

Steve:   So hello and welcome. My name’s Steve Nobel and today I’m speaking with Laurent Turlin on “Heal Yourself with Chinese Pressure Points: Treat common ailments and stay healthy using a 12 acupressure point system.” This book is a wonderful introduction for beginners. Explores 12 key acupressure points for treating common ailments and conditions according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. And this book explores how to use these 12 key points to treat a range of conditions, from headaches, sciatica, and fatigue, to insomnia, motion sickness, and even a sore throat. Now Laurent is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and qualified acupuncturist, where he practises in a clinic in Paris.

Hi Laurent.

Laurent:                Hello.

Steve:   Hi. So can I ask you, many people are really familiar with acupuncture as a complementary form of treatment for conditions. I mean I’ve had it many times. But many are less familiar with acupressure. Can you just say something about acupressure?

Laurent:                Acupressure is the very first thing everybody does from the beginning of humanity. For example, when you have a shock, you touch or press the zone where you have had the shock. This is acupressure, it’s healing to relieve the blood and the qi stagnation. So acupressure, now we can specialise with acupoints, but it can be done anywhere on the body when you have a pain, self-administered, like with intuition it’s just a natural reaction, you know.

Steve:   Yeah. Can you say something about qi stagnation, and what is qi? Many people may know this, but just in case they don’t.

Laurent:                qi is energy. What is qi? Everything is qi. It can be a dense energy, solid, energy in movement. And in the body we have 12 meridians, 12 channels, and the qi goes in each of the 12 meridians to nourish the organs. Qi equals life. So when you mesh some points with other points, you create the formula and you can have synergy to treat yourself, for example, for back pain or headaches.

Life is movement, so when there is a blockage, there is pain. Chinese medicine is about moving the stagnant qi. And the blood? The blood is the substance of the qi. Qi is young. It’s immaterial. And blood is material, it is you. So the qi needs blood to circulate, and the blood also needs qi to be able to circulate. So when you bruise yourself, the blood is stopped in that area. The pain breaks the flow of circulation.

Steve: So what kind of things cause qi stagnation? You mentioned bruising, is there anything else that causes stagnation?

Laurent:                Yeah, emotion. Frustration and anger creates qi stagnation. Especially around the liver. Now tomorrow is the Chinese New Year of the Dog. This is the New Year Chinese is celebrating spring. Every season we nourish special elements and special movements. And in the Spring, the Chinese nourish the liver. And the liver is very important. It’s one of the most important organs in Chinese traditional medicine. The liver is the organ which creates the impulse, the qi, and the blood, and it regulates all the glands. It is the endocrine system, the endocrine glands. The liver nourishes the tendons and the fibres in your body, to your eyes and your brain. So the liver is very important because it is the ‘boss’ of the circulation– the flow and circulation and also your stresses. And we can say the liver digests your emotions.

Steve:   Yeah.

Laurent:                When you feel an emotion, if you receive bad news, something happens and you get frustrated and get angry, your liver is trying to digest these emotions, you can have qi stagnation around the liver. It can also lead to qi stagnation resulting in a heavy feeling on your chest, and feeling of having something in your throat, in sadness, and also for men, genital organ pains. For woman, PMS. And even migraines.

So, Chi stagnation can come from your internal emotions, can come from external shock. It can come also with the season. For example, you can have a qi stagnation if you are outside, you don’t have enough clothes, and of course you get super cold. If you have any deficiencies in your internal terrain, the cold can go, for example, into your lumbar. You can have a qi stagnation in your lumbar because the cold and the humidity go in the channels and go inside your skin and create all sorts of stagnations.

And you can have qi stagnation by having bad posture. Bad posture or torticollis. Torticollis is when you have a pain or something in your neck and you are in your car, you open the window and you drive, for example, for three hours – that’s a lot of wind. And this wind goes into your neck and the qi can stagnate.

Steve:   Now I know you’ve got this 12 main points, and I know there are a lot of points on the body, but there are just 12 you’re going into. Why these 12?

Laurent:                Why these 12? Because I studied Chinese medicine in China, and I have read a lot of Chinese medical texts. These 12 points are from the optics Chinese medical books. Zhen Jiu is the flow of acupuncture and moxibustion. And Zhen Jiu is a very fine mix of medication. There are four principal points in acupuncture and in moxibustion. And the idea for this book it that everybody can use it. They don’t need to know what is diagnostic, what is yin, what is yang, what is deficiency, what is plenitude, and what is the cold or heat. So this is book is for everybody. These 12 points are chosen because they target and treat the main areas.

So the idea is to give 12 key points. It’s for people that know nothing, but just want to do something before they go to see the doctor, before going to see the acupuncturist, or to call the emergency services. The purpose is not to say, “Here are 12 points – now you can do everything.” No. It’s a guide so you can help yourself.

Steve:   It could treat a lot of things, can’t it.

Laurent: Yes absolutely, for twenty years now I have been doing acupuncture. The emergency point between the top lip and the nose has a lot of applications.  It is a great, wonderful point to help someone that has passed out. And its also wonderful for the Lumbar (lower back) pain. You know if you have a such a great pain that you can’t stand up. It’s really hard for you to move and you just, even can’t walk. And you practice acupressure, and then acupuncture with needles, and you can ask to the patient to move, after this treatment, the person can stand again. Not to run, to do the New York marathon but he can walk. For example, if has to take the train for his job, he can do this.

Of course acupressure doesn’t use needles and its not manipulation, but really it’s energy. The Japanese do Dao-ing, Chinese do Qi Gong in the morning or so. That’s one treatment. These practices nourish life.

Steve:   Nourish life.

Laurent:         Nourish life. When we touch or treat our selves we just make our energy balanced. In our occidental world, to touch someone it to steal something they’re in need of. And in Oriental countries and in Africa, where they touch themselves, especially in India, they treat they touch they massage, it’s very normal. But still, us in occident (western cultures), there is always a connotation when we touch ourselves. We need to touch, we need to have contact, I say this in my lectures in Paris, press yourself, touch your family, your loves, your children, your friends, and with the acupoints something happens. It helps you to open your mind and maybe, your heart.

Steve:   Beautiful book, Laurent and full of lovely illustrations. And it goes through all the 12 points and lots of different issues such as asthma, or ringing in the ears, or back pain, or sinusitis, or pains, just generalised pains in the body. So it’s a very good book. If you’re interested in this kind of form of complementary medicine, I encourage you to buy this book.

And, Laurent, thank you for taking the time to chat with me.

Laurent:                Thank you so much. It was a pleasure.

Heal yourself with chinese pressure points

Laurent Turlin
with Alix Lefief-Delcourt

This perfect introduction for beginners presents the 12 key acupressure points for treating common ailments and conditions, according to the principles of Chinese medicine.

After a simple overview of the meridian system of energy channels in the body, plus easy-to-follow instructions on different massage techniques, you are then introduced to each of the 12 points in turn, and how to use them to treat a wide range of conditions, from headaches, sciatica and fatigue to insomnia, motion sickness and even a sore throat! Clear illustrations and diagrams are included throughout, along with tips on other useful complementary treatments.

ISBN: 978-1-85906-056-8

Eat Good Food to put you in a Good Mood (Podcast)

Eat Good Food to put you in a Good Mood (Podcast)

Vegetarian and vegan cook book,

Lina Bou talks about the importance of using local and seasonal ingredients for a well-balanced gut. Lina combines her knowledge as a Nutritional Therapist, her creative flair and her love for cooking to create delicious, nutritious meals.

Discover nutritional therapist Lina Bou’s recipe for healthy living, with this inspirational cookbook for the modern lifestyle.

Cooking isn’t just about eating the right foods – it’s about being inventive, having fun and enjoying a healthy relationship with what you eat. Whether you’re looking for tasty brunch ideas, delicious dinners, energizing snacks or mouthwatering sweet treats, Lina shows you how to make simple, nutritious vegetarian meals (suitable for all!) easy enough for anyone to rustle up with the minimum of fuss. There are also suggestions for vegan alternatives, plus recipes free from gluten, dairy and sugar – the most common intolerances. All recipes feature a health-benefit key, indicating at a glance whether they help improve your immunity, boost your energy, balance your hormones, and more. And there’s advice on sensible detoxing, too.

Watch the mouth-watering video, and listen to Lina chat to Steve!

Subscribe to this youtube channel! We publish 2 podcasts a month, helping you get to know our talented authors.

To download this audio to listen offline
► iTunes:
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 Get the Book!

Vegetarian and vegan cook book,

 Good Food Good Mood by Lina Bou
ISBN: 9781859064108
Price: £13.99 RRP
Use the ISBN to order from any bookshop near you.







How To Breathe (Podcast)

How To Breathe (Podcast)

Good breathing involves a coordination of our whole being. Alexander Technique expert Richard Brennan talks us through how Alexander solved his vocal problems by looking at what he was doing with his breathing. Richard explains how being hunched over your computer impairs your breathing. Let the beautiful illustrations wash over you; read some excerpts; try some breathing along with the audio and learn some exercises to improve your breathing for health happiness and well-being.

How to breathe using the alexander technique


‘How To Breathe’ by Richard Richard Brennan
Breath is essential for life, but did you know that the way you breathe can be detrimental to your well-being? Poor posture, stress, muscular tension … all can make the ‘effortless’ act of breathing hard work without us realising. And breathing isn’t just a physical activity; it influences our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, too.

HOW TO BREATHE shows you how to relearn your natural rhythm of breathing to bene cially alter the way you think, feel and act. Packed with breathing techniques to use at home, and featuring groundbreaking methods developed by the founder of the Alexander Technique, it will help you rediscover how to breathe naturally to improve every aspect of your life. By applying consciousness to the action of breathing, you can become aware of harmful habits – and alleviate common breathing problems in the process.

We breathe more than 20,000 times a day – so why not make sure you do it as efficiently and effectively as possible? This is a book you can’t afford to be without.

Subscribe to this youtube channel! We publish 2 podcasts a month, helping you get to know our talented authors.

Get the book!

How to breathe using the alexander technique►
ISBN: 978-1-85906-397-2
Use the ISBN to order from any bookshop near you.

To download this audio to listen offline
► iTunes:
► Soundcloud:


Read an excerpt of ‘How to Breathe’ – Alexander’s Story

Prefer to read? See the transcript below!

Steve :     Hello and welcome. My name is Steve Nobel, and today I’m speaking with Richard Brennan on his book How to Breathe, Improving your Breathing for Health, Happiness, and Wellbeing. Richard has studied Alexander technique since 1983 and has been teaching the technique full-time since 1989. He travels extensively through Europe and the US teaching the technique. And he’s a director of training in the center for the technique in Galway, Ireland, and he’s a leading figure in helping people resolve back and neck problems. Now this book will help you relearn your natural rhythm of breathing that will change the way you think, feel, and act forever. And his website is, if you want to check out his work. So welcome to you, Richard.

Richard :                 Oh, hi Steve, how are you today?

Steve :     Oh, good. Yes, it’s a sunny day and we don’t always have that in London, I guess.

Richard :                 Yeah.

Steve :     Let me ask you about Alexander technique. How did it all begin?

Richard :                 Well, Alexander was an actor and reciter, and he was getting a very good reputation, so he was reciting in bigger and bigger venues. And then he started to notice his breathing was audible, which is something that actors do not like. So he was rasping or breathing in air. And then, after that, he began to get a voice problem. He started to lose his voice on stage, and this was going to affect his whole career, so he was very worried about it.

And he went to various people to try and get help. He went to someone who gave him neck exercises, that didn’t work. Somebody else gave him medication, that didn’t work. And then eventually he went to a doctor who examined his vocal cords. Now, we’re talking about 1890. So the way you examine someone’s vocal cords in those days was pretty much dangle a small mirror down someone’s throat. But the doctor found out that his cords were red and inflamed. And he told Alexander, “Oh, you’ve just been over straining your voice. I’m sure, if you just rest your voice for a couple of weeks, it’ll all be fine.” So that’s exactly what Alexander did and he was so determined, he hardly spoke to anyone for 2 weeks.

He went back on stage and he was delighted because his voice was crystal clear. But, after half an hour, the voice began to get bad again and, at the end of the performance, he could hardly speak. So he went back to the doctor and the doctor said, “Well, it did improve a little bit and maybe you need to rest your voice for longer.” But Alexander said, “Look, if my voice was okay in the beginning of the performance and it wasn’t okay at the end of the performance, surely it was something I was doing while performing.” Okay, if my back is okay before I used to go and do the gardening but it’s not okay when I come in from doing the gardening, it must be something I’m doing while I’m doing the gardening. That whole principle can apply to actually anything. It’s a cause and effect. So he wanted to know what was causing the voice. And, if he could find out what was causing the voice, stop doing it, his voice would be fine.

So he asked the doctor, “So, what am I doing?” And the doctor said, “I have no idea.” So Alexander said, “Well, I’ll go and find out for myself.” So he studied for about 5 or 6 years. He studied posture, the way he was standing. He observed himself in the mirror and he noticed that when he took a breath, he opened his mouth and breathed in through his mouth. So he sucked some air in, which basically dried out the vocal cords and then, on top of that, he pulled his head back and depressed the larynx. And it was this habit that was causing the voice and the breathing problem. So then he experimented and he tried positioning his head in all different ways, and every time he did it the problem would get worse. And then eventually he came to a point where, if he thought of his head as not going back but thinking of his head going forwards, the problem went away again.

Steve :     Mmm.

Richard :                 So then he devised a whole system whereby you just think your way out of problems. You think of your back getting longer. You think of your neck getting longer. And then he helped his fellow actors. And then doctors got wind of it and then they used to send him people with back problems, neck problems, shoulder problems. So he got very used to helping people with a whole … a wide range of people. And a lot of it was just muscular tension was the root cause of most problems.

Steve :    Let me ask you generally about Alexander technique, cause nowadays in the modern world it seems to be applied to people with back pain, stress, posture issues, sports performance, musicians, it’s kind of a vast range of people it helps, isn’t it?

Richard :                 Yeah, it is, yeah. Because in all those things, let’s say a musician would be holding their instrument too tightly, they’ve been having too much tension in their shoulder. Maybe a runner would be having maybe injuries with their knees because there’s too much tension around their knees. So we have 651 muscles in the body and any of them can be tense causing problems in the ankle joint, or in the neck, or shoulder, or pretty much anything. And also, muscular tension … muscles control breathing as well. So, if I’m tense around the rib cage, my rib cage can’t move in and out. So, yeah, it is. It can help a great deal of people in all sorts of ways.

Steve :    Now, when the publisher said to me, “We want you to interview Richard on his book How to Breathe,” I kind of looked at the publisher and they looked at me, and I thought, “Really?” And when I read in your introduction, you said, “When I told my eldest daughter I was writing a book about breathing, she replied, ‘That will be interesting. Page one, breathe in. Page two, breathe out. Page three, breathe in again. Page four, breathe out again.'” I mean, initially, I looked at it and thought, “Well, there’s not much in it.” But of course, it’s a very deep area, isn’t it?

Richard :                 It is, it is. I mean, we all breathe thousands of times a day. And most people are not aware of the way they breathe. So in the same way we can have punctual habits, we can also have breathing habits as well. We have set ways of breathing, which are maybe not very healthy and they can be detrimental. But because they feel normal to us, we don’t even know they’re there.

Steve :     What kind of poor breathing habits are you talking about, Richard?

Richard :                 Breathing in too quickly.

Steve :     Yeah.

Richard :                 Breathing in through the mouth, which dries out the vocal cords. There’s hairs in our nose, which acts as a filter. When I started doing the technique, I was amazed that many people might breathe up to 30 or 40 times a minute. So they’re very fast breathing and very shallow breathing. So they don’t get rid of the C02 in the same way as the body is designed to. So then toxins build up and, yeah, you can get ill from it.

Steve :    Right. Now, the book says good breathing involves a coordination of our whole being. So can we just go into Alexander technique, the posture and the breath. How do they work together?

Richard :                 So, if somebody came in with a breathing problem, let’s say something like asthma, I would probably … we have a teaching table. I would lay them on the teaching table and check out to see where they’re holding tension and ask them to let it go. Just even doing that, their breathing will change. Their breathing will be much more beneficial afterwards. But also, you can actually have little breathing exercises you can actually do. And most disciplines like yoga, or whatever, would have a whole set of breathing exercises. But most of them involve breathing in, breathe in through the nose, breathe into the lungs. Whereas, Alexander technique, the whole thing is breathing out of the lungs. What Alexander realised was, if I breathe out, I create a vacuum in the lungs, and the next breath it’s all taken by reflex. So the emphasis is on the out breath. So even if somebody, you know when you blow up these children’s bubbles?

Steve :     Yeah.

Richard :                 You know, if you just blow the air out and you just extend the out breath and then you wait you’ll feel that you actually breathe in better. And anyone can do that listening to this audio.

Steve :     Right. Is this in the book? You talk about natural breathing. Is this the natural breath focusing on the exhalation rather than inhalation?

Richard :                 Yeah, yeah. If you look at a small child when they’re asleep, it’s almost looks like the whole body is breathing. It’s not just their lungs, their whole body is actually expanding and contracting. And breathing is a reflex. So to trigger the reflex all you have to do is breathe out. So people are usually … the main habit is to start taking a breath before the out breath is finished.

Steve :     That sounds simple, but is it simple?

Richard :                It is simple, but you have to go against your habit. So when people first do it, it feels strange to them.

Steve :    Yeah.

Richard :                In the same way as, if I drove your car and you drove mine, your car would feel strange to me. The indicator would be in the wrong place and the pedals would be slightly different. But after an hour or so, I would get used to it and you would get used to mine. It’s the same way … Alexander used to say, “Good posture feels strange to begin with,” if you’re not used to having it.

Steve :    Yeah.

Richard :                So people go, “Well, I feel really good and I feel I’m really breathing well, but I don’t feel like me anymore. I feel like somebody else.”

Steve :    Yeah, do we compress our rib cage? You know, if we’re like crouching over the computer or kids at school, is there a kind of compressing of our breath as well?

Richard :                Oh, yeah. Absolutely. If you look at most children at school, they’re bending over their desk and they’re not able to breathe. If you slump down and you pull yourself down, the minute you try and take a deep breath you can’t do it. So posture and breathing are very, very inter-rated. So when you’re improving breathing, you’re also improving people’s posture.

Steve :    Right.

Richard :                And when you’re improving people’s posture, you’re also improving their breathing. So they go hand-in-hand, it’s all the same stuff.

Steve :    I know when I did … cause sports, I did long distance running and also short distance running. But particularly in the long distance running, I noticed I had to get a certain … I practised all kinds of breathing rhythms and I noticed that my breathing was so connected to my performance.

Richard :                Yeah.

Steve :    Can Alexander help in something like long distance running?

Richard :                Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. We just had a guy called Malcolm Bark over here in Ireland who did a week’s running course with us and it was really interesting, cause I actually learned something too. He said, “If you get out of breath while you’re running, you’re trying to hard.”

Steve :    Right.

Richard :                And for me that was amazing because, when I run, I always get out of breath. And then he just showed us how to run in a certain rhythm, especially long term, marathon running, where you just stay with this rhythm of your breath and you don’t get out of breath at all. And you can run for a long, long, long time.

Steve :    You must see singers, I guess, cause singers are something where the breath and the voice is so interconnected. Is, again, Alexander technique something that can really help a singer, or performers who do lots of speaking on stage?

Richard :                Oh, yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, there’s a lot of singers. Madonna is one. Paul McCartney is another. And there’s a whole range of singers and musicians that come to the Alexander Technique. It’s very big. It’s very big in the music world. Yeah.

Steve :    Why?

Richard :                Most colleges, performance, like drama colleges or music colleges, Royal College of Music for instance in London.

Steve :    Yeah.

Richard :                They all have resident Alexander teachers because there is so many problems around … I think there’s a statistic that 70% of people playing in orchestras play in pain.

Steve :    All right. That’s not good is it?

Richard :                No. Seventy percent, that’s a lot, that’s a lot, yeah.

Steve :    Wow. Have you ever had to deal with opera singers? Now, I know the opera singers really have to have these bellow like lungs, don’t they?

Richard :                Yeah, I’m actually working with an opera singer in London at the moment. And I’m going to teach her class, that’s in October. So I’m looking forward to that. Yeah, again, there’s this whole concept of I have to try really hard and, therefore, I over try, I strain. And Alexander had a philosophy, if you want to give your best, give 80%. So when you’re playing, just give 80%. If you give 80%, that’s pretty good but it doesn’t push you over to this thing of Alexander – most people are too goal oriented. They try too hard. And, in the trying too hard, they get nervous, they get stage fright, they get tension problems, and then they can’t play their musical instrument properly.

Steve :    I get from what you’re saying that really Alexander technique is not really so much learning something new but really unlearning something. Is that true?

Richard :                Exactly. Exactly. It’s an unlearning, because we all as children had perfect posture and our breathing was absolutely fine. And our movements, I mean, if you look at a child playing in the sand, they’re squatting with so much ease, their balance, they’re breathing well. Their movements are amazing. And, if you go to people outside the modern world, let’s say aborigines or the Berber people, they have the same movements as children. They feel very upright. The native American Indians, for instance, they’re very upright. They’re not bent over. They don’t have neck problems and back problems. And in India, hardly anyone gets a back operation or a hip operation, unless they’re in a car accident. Not from posture. But in our society, all these aches and pains suddenly come on for no reason.

Steve :    So Richard, one thing about the book I noticed is, lots of brilliant exercises from improving air circulation, releasing tension. Can you give a simple exercise for our listeners that would help them perhaps with their breath and perhaps with their voice?

Richard :                Yeah. Well, it’s not mine. This is Alexander’s. He didn’t really believe in exercises because he felt that most people exercise their habits. But in breathing he made an exception, because he felt it was an exercise of inhibition. And the exercise is basically, you just maybe lie on a bed and you just notice your breathing. And it comes in and out. And then, after a few breaths you whisper an ah sound. When I say ah, I mean ah, as in father. And when you make that ah go as long as you can without straining. And then you close your mouth and you let the air come back in through the nose. And you just repeat that about 6 or 7 times and afterwards you just really feel that your lungs are working much, much better. Yeah, just very, very simple, very simple. It’s not complicated. It takes one minute to learn it.

Steve :    Yeah, most of the practises are very simple like that.

Richard :                Yeah. They are, they are.

Steve :    Well, it looks a wonderful book. I love the cover. It’s got a beautiful blue/green cover with a kind of huge spiral on it. How to Breathe, Improving Your Breath for Health, Happiness, and Wellbeing. So, Richard, again, thank you so much for speaking with me today.

Richard :                Okay, you’re very welcome, Steve. Thank you.


Alexander’s story

Alexander’s story

Improve your breathing for health, happiness and well-being.

How to breathe using the alexander techniqueDid you know that the way you breathe can be detrimental to your well-being? Poor posture, stress, muscular tension … all can make the ‘effortless’ act of breathing hard work without us realising. And breathing isn’t just a physical activity; it influences our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, too.



Alexander’s Story

In the world of breathing, there is one figure who stands out as a pioneer in the eld of understanding and improving the art of breathing. His name is Frederick Matthias Alexander, and he developed his method of breathing co-ordination in the late 1800s due to difficulties he had with his own voice and breathing. Over a number of years, he developed a technique that helped people to replace their detrimental breathing and postural habits with a freer and more expansive way of being. To understand his method, it would be helpful to first look at the story of how Alexander overcame his own voice and breathing problems, as it is truly extraordinary by any standards.

Alexander was born in Tasmania, Australia, in 1869 and was from mixed Scottish and Irish descent. He was born prematurely and suffered from respiratory problems from the day he was born. Due to his frail health, he was taken out of school at an early age and was tutored by the local school teacher in the evenings. As Alexander got older, he became interested in amateur dramatics and, at the age of twenty, he travelled to Melbourne, where he spent three months going to the theatre, concerts and art galleries. At the end of this period, Alexander had firmly decided that he wanted to train to become an actor and reciter.

How to Breathe- By Richard Brennan
Voice concerns

Alexander stayed on in Melbourne to train to become an actor, and it wasn’t long before he gained a fine reputation as a first-class reciter. He went on to form his own theatre company, specialising in one-man Shakespeare recitals. As he became increasingly successful, Alexander began to accept more and more engagements and his audiences increased in size, and, as a consequence, so did the halls in which he performed. With no microphones or other aids, his voice came under increasing strain. After a while the strain began to show, as his breathing became audible and he regularly became hoarse in the middle of his performances. He approached a variety of people, including doctors and voice trainers, who gave him medication and exercises, but soon all treatment became ineffective and his voice deteriorated still further, until, on one occasion, Alexander could barely finish his recital. His concern grew as he realised that this problem was threatening his entire career.

Increasingly desperate, Alexander approached his doctor again and, after a fresh examination of Alexander’s throat, the doctor was convinced that the vocal cords had merely been over-strained and prescribed complete voice rest for two weeks. Determined to try anything, Alexander used his voice as little as possible for the next fortnight. At the beginning of his next performance he was delighted because he found that the hoarseness had completely disappeared and that his voice was crystal clear; however, halfway through the performance, the hoarseness returned even worse than before, and by the end of the evening the hoarseness was so acute that Alexander could hardly speak.

The next day, he returned to his doctor and reported what had happened. The doctor felt that his recommendation had been somewhat effective and advised Alexander to continue with the treatment, but Alexander refused to do this, arguing that if, after two weeks of following the doctor’s instructions implicitly, his problem had returned within an hour, carrying on with the treatment could not give any lasting benefits. He reasoned with the doctor that, if his voice was perfect when he started the recital and yet was in a terrible state by the time he had finished, the problem must be caused by something he was doing while performing. The doctor thought carefully and agreed that this must be the case. So, Alexander asked the doctor to tell him what this cause might be. The doctor admitted honestly that he couldn’t. Alexander left the surgery determined to find out the answer for himself.

How to breathe using the alexander technique


Alexander embarked on a journey of self-discovery that would not only give him the answer to his voice and breathing problems but would ultimately lead to a profound new understanding of posture and breathing. He came to realise that many people grossly and unconsciously interfere with their own natural movement, co-ordination and breathing, and that this causes much of our suffering in our modern civilisation.

Alexander’s findings were greatly underestimated at the time, yet it could be argued that his discovery was one of the greatest of the twentieth century. As you will see, Alexander’s story is like a mystery novel. His genius was the insight that he could be unwittingly causing his problems himself. Through his tenacity, he came to prove that this was indeed the case, and found a way to cure his problem.

When he started his investigations, Alexander had just two clues to work with:

  • The act of reciting on stage brought about the hoarseness and breathing difficulties which caused him to lose his voice.
  • When speaking in a normal manner, the hoarseness in his voice disappeared.

Following simple, logical steps, Alexander deduced that if ordinary speaking didn’t cause him to lose his voice or to breathe badly, but reciting did, there must be something different about what he did while speaking normally compared to what he did when reciting. If he could find out what that difference was, he might be able to change the way in which he was using his voice when reciting, which would solve the problem. He used a mirror to observe himself both when speaking in his normal voice and when reciting, in the hope that he could discern some differences between the two. He watched carefully and could see nothing wrong or unnatural while speaking normally, but when he began to recite he soon noticed several changes:

  • He tended to pull his head back and down onto his spine with a certain amount of force.
  • At the same time, he depressed his larynx (the cavity in the throat where the vocal cords are situated).
  • He also began to suck air in through his mouth, which produced a gasping sound.

The larynx. Learn how to use it properlyUp until this point, Alexander had been totally unaware of these habits, and when he returned to his normal speaking voice he realised that the same tendencies were present, but to a much lesser extent, which was why they had previously gone undetected and why they didn’t cause the hoarseness. After this breakthrough, he returned to the mirror with new enthusiasm and recited over and over again to see if he could find any more clues, and soon noticed that the three issues became accentuated when he was reading passages in which unusual demands were made on his voice. This confirmed his earlier suspicion that there was a definite connection between the way in which he recited and the strain on his voice.



Alexander’s experiences led him to question how he consciously directed himself while reciting, and he realised that he had never given any thought to how he moved, but simply moved in a way that was habitual because this felt ‘right’ to him. So, he tried a different strategy: he experimented with just thinking or directing his head to go forward, and realised that he merely had to think of the directions in order to bring about a change.

How to breathe using the alexander technique

While there was some success, he noticed that he was still pulling back his head to a certain extent and he looked for all possible causes. After a while he saw that he gave his directions successfully right up to the time of reciting, but then immediately reverted back to the habit of pulling his head back and causing tension throughout the body. He realised that he had been so goal-oriented when it came to reciting that any attempts to ‘get it right’ had resulted in tension in his neck muscles. Alexander referred to his tendency to become overly focused on a goal, without considering the way in which he achieved it, and his next challenge was to find a way to become less fixated on his goal.

‘ We often need to do the very thing that feels wrong.’

He decided to try giving himself a space between the stimulus to speak and the action of reciting. He called this process inhibition and, by giving himself this time and using his directions, he was able to notice and change the ingrained habit of pulling his head back. The principles and techniques that he conceived, which primarily consist of awareness, eradication of harmful habits and free choice, are what form the basis of what we know today as the Alexander Technique. Through diligent practice, he was able not only to free himself from the harmful habits which had jeopardised his career, but also to cure himself of the recurring breathing problems that had afflicted him since birth.

I do not claim to have discovered any new method of breathing, but to understand the only true one – Nature’s.

F. Matthias Alexander


How to Breathe

How to breathe using the alexander techniqueThis was an extract from How to Breathe by Richard Brennan. How to Breathe shows you how to relearn your natural rhythm of breathing to beneficially alter the way you think, feel and act. Packed with breathing techniques to use at home, and featuring groundbreaking methods developed by the founder of the Alexander Technique, it will help you rediscover how to breathe naturally to improve every aspect of your life. By applying consciousness to the action of breathing, you can become aware of harmful habits – and alleviate common breathing problems in the process.

‘How To Breathe’ – Richard Brennan
ISBN: 1859063977

For a podcast interview with Richard Brennan, click here

2017 Round Up | Eddison Books

2017 Round Up | Eddison Books


Merry Christmas 2017 from Eddison Books

Merry Christmas from everyone here at Eddison Books!

Thank you all for your support and excitement over our books this year. Our team of authors, editors, designers and more have worked tirelessly to print a range of interesting books and decks, for your continued enjoyment and learning!

In 2017…

We released the stunning Druid Oracle decks by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm; the DruidCraft Tarot and the Druid Plant Oracle. These beautiful decks combine the two fundamental spiritualities of Nature – Wicca and Druidry – and reflects the explosion of interest in the Western magical tradition and paganism.

Druid Craft Tarot- Philip and Stephanie Carr-GommDruid Plant Oracle- Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm

To complement the ever popular WildWood Tarot, Mark Ryan and John Matthews have released ‘Wild Magic: The Wildwood Tarot Workbook’; a book written to allow you step further into the magical Wildwood world; get the authors insight on how to read the cards;  plus an intriguing glimpse into what science can tell us about tarot.

Wild Magic: The Wildwood tarot workbook by Mark Ryan and John Matthews

In October we released a gorgeous set of gold gilded cards by Ambika Wauters, titled ‘The Angel Oracle’. The cards are designed to offer clarity of thought, knowledge and insight to help you with everyday problems, as well as the major challenges of life.

Angel Oracle Deck by Ambika WautersAngel Oracle Cards by Ambika Wauters


Following the success of the original bestselling Mood Cards box, we have released a new, stand-alone volume “Mood Cards: Understand Deep emotions”. Author Andrea Harrn created this pack to offer an accessible way to help mental health professionals, schools and families identify and explore moods, feelings and emotions.

Mood Cards: Understand Deep emotions by Andrea Harrn

Our range of Personal Development books has increased with some fantastic manuals and guides:

How to BreatheRichard Brennan

The Chakra WorkbookPauline Wills

Thai Massage (Manual Series) – Maria Mercati

The Alexander TechniqueRichard Brennan


Eddison Books 2017


Buddhist Fabrice Midal wrote an illuminating book, written to take the reader on a true journey of discovery. He reveals how the story of the Buddha reflects our own lives, and offers meditations to guide us in the everyday situations we face.  

Is Meditation only for Buddhists? By Fabrice Midal


Stay tuned for 2018

We have some great books in the pipeline, unique and beautiful oracle decks and a PODCAST!

Listen and learn more from your favourite authors such as Philip Carr-Gomm, Mark Ryan and Richard Brennan. Coming soon!

Mark Ryan Quote- Wild Magic Podcast