‘I came to see Clare to learn the Focussed Mindfulness Method because I have suffered intense anxiety and panic attacks since a teenager, I am now 56. These mental health problems stem from trauma and abuse I suffered as a child. Six weeks after 4 sessions of guidance in the Focussed Mindfulness Method I have more inner confidence, I am more at ease and have reconnected with things I value deeply. So this is what life looks like when you are no longer in the death grip of anxiety! Amazing!’
My Childhood was traumatic
My mother and my father had serious mental health problems which meant they were both sectioned when I was 2 years old, and they separated soon after that. I was then abused physically, mentally and emotionally for some years by my stepfather. This included being beaten on several occasions in a planned and humiliating way and experiencing punishments such as being made to eat out of a dog bowl on the floor in front of my older siblings.
Unsurprisingly, these experiences had a serious negative impact on my feelings of self-worth and self-confidence. I didn’t do well at school. As I grew up and progressed through my life I began to struggle with severe anxiety particularly in relation to work. My anxiety has manifested as rushes of adrenaline which shoot down my arms and legs and flood the whole of the front of my body, together with a sense of dread and foreboding. At the same time as I feel these sensations, my thoughts become intensely self-critical, looping repeatedly round and round my head, faster and faster. I then get strong sensations of self-loathing.
I got good at covering up my anxiety
I became very good at covering up how I felt. Even now people are surprised when I tell them. I put a lot of pressure on myself and did not think to ask for help for a long time. I played down what had happened to me as a child; to me it was normal. I coped. My sleep suffered. Amazingly I was able to study for a degree and made a good career for myself.
As a parent my anxiety worsened
Then I had my children and the anxiety got a lot worse. My mental health completely broke down and I had to leave two successive jobs. It took me 6 years to go back to work. In that time I began taking antidepressants, although I have never felt depression is my primary issue; I am still on tablets now. I had cognitive behavior therapy which as a technique seemed incredibly laborious and the effects did not last. I saw a homeopath who advised me that my beliefs were at the root of my anxiety, so I began having transactional analysis psychotherapy. I had weekly sessions for 3 years. Those sessions helped me get back on my feet and back into work.
Tablets, counselling and psychotherapy did not work
However, the anxiety persisted. And it could be extremely intense. By this point I had amassed a whole raft of self-help tools to get me through days, through moments – meditations, affirmations, exercise, relaxation CDs, breathing, distraction. Distraction seemed to help the most. But the old anxiety was always there, reminding me how fragile my mental health was. I was resigned to it and I hated it. I was resolved to live in spite of it. It was a fight.
This was the point at which I met Clare’.
The Focussed Mindfulness Method
Clare: ‘I met this client on a mindfulness retreat I was running. She seemed quiet and measured in her manner, but she was very poised and I did not realise that she suffered from anxiety to such an extent that it affected her ability to work.
She booked to see me shortly afterwards. In the first session she did not disclose anything about her history, but talked about the anxiety she has suffered as an adult. We were able to use the Focussed Mindfulness Method straight away.
I guided her through the FMM Trauma Release Process. It took 25 minutes and afterwards she looked amazed and said the experience had been very profound. In three later sessions over the following month I guided her through three other Focussed Mindfulness techniques: The Pain Release Process, Questioning Thoughts and finally a guided visualization that was a blend of all the FMM techniques. She was very aware of how her body was reacting during the sessions which made her easy to work with.
After this we agreed then that she should take a break and allow the work she had done to assimilate.
It had a profound impact on my mental health
Client: ‘Hand on heart, the Focussed Mindfulness sessions have had a more immediate and profound and lasting impact on my anxiety and wellbeing than every one of the approaches I have previously tried, all combined. This has been in just 4 sessions spread over about 6 weeks.
It is as though the other approaches have been simply two-dimensional in their effect, whereas the FMM operates on three or four dimensions. The biggest contrast for me was in how physical and felt the sessions were. In the psychotherapy, we talked about events that happened in the past and we talked about how they made me feel and we talked about different ways of thinking about them. In the FMM we didn’t talk much about any of that. Instead, Clare guided me to go into my body and feel how I felt during those events and then guided me to process, release and resolve those feelings. It was as quick as that.
Clare gave me a recording of The FMM Trauma Release Process and I listened to it every day for about a month, and I still listen to it occasionally. We also used The Questioning Thoughts but I think I didn’t connect with that so well. I did some reading that Clare suggested. During the final session I didn’t say much. Mainly I saw colours: rainbows spooled out of my hands. I felt I was riding along sitting on top of an enormous cloud and my body felt incredibly huge. I loved it and I would do it again.
My sleep and thought patterns improved
Immediately I began to notice changes. I was more aware of certain parts of my body, as though I felt I had a whole body for the first time in a long time. I felt happy and at ease and I realised there was no dread left.
From the first session I went from waking in the night 4 nights a week to 4 nights a month. If I did wake in the night, I was able to drop back off again easily. By the final session a lot of my habitual anxious thought patterns had fallen away and I was experiencing a very new way to be. Some of these thought patterns I didn’t even know I had until I noticed they were gone. And I didn’t even have to do anything to make them go, they just disappeared.
My anxiety hasn’t entirely gone but it seems like more of a normal reaction now. Some weeks after my final session my partner observed that when I experience a setback which would previously have triggered me to become highly anxious and to panic, I am much more resilient and able to cope. If I falter now and feel anxious, I recover quicker than before and my recovery seems simple and automatic. I feel as though I have reconnected with old pleasures and things I used to value deeply and started to enjoy them again. I feel to have more inner confidence.
I was empowered to continue healing myself
I liked that Clare encouraged me to be empowered in my own healing. She was not interested in any of it being about her. She was just totally committed to driving it firmly but kindly along. She was fearless and deeply compassionate.