Sunday, 20 March 2016

“No-Rooz” - The Iranian New Year – Customs & Traditions

No-Rooz” - The Iranian New Year – Customs & Traditions

For the past few years I have been fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate the Iranian New Year with some Iranians living in Norwich,     Norfolk. The following article was put together by an Iranian colleague:
No-Rooz”, means 'New Day'. It is the new day that starts the year, traditionally the exact astronomical beginning of Spring. Iranians take that as the beginning of the New Year. This exact second is called "Saal Tahvil". No-Rooz with its' uniquely Iranian characteristics has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrian This was the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam in 7th century A.D. 

Iranians consider No-Rooz as their biggest celebration of the year. Before the new year they start cleaning their houses,
Khaane Tekaani, and they buy new clothes. But a major part of New Year rituals is setting the "Haft Seen" with 7

Haft Seen table

specific items. In ancient times each of the items corresponded to one of the seven creations and the seven holy immortals protecting them. Today they have changed and modified but some have kept their symbolism. All the seven items start with the letter "S": Seeb (apple), Sabze (green grass), Serke (vinegar), Samanoo (a meal made out of wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin), and Seer (garlic). Sometimes instead of Serke some use Somagh (sumak, an Iranian spice).

Wheat or lentil representing new growth is grown in a flat dish a few days before the New Year and is called
Sabzeh (green shoots). Decorated with colourful ribbons, it is kept until Sizdah beh dar, the 13th day of the New Year. Also, a few live gold fish in a fish bowl. In the olden days they would be returned to the riverbanks, but today most people will keep them. Mirrors are placed on the Sofreh (table spread) and lit with candles as a symbol of fire. Most of the people used to place Qoran in order to bless the New Year. But some people found another alternative to Qoran and replaced it by the Divan-e Hafez (poetry book of Hefez), and during "Saal Tahvil" reading some verses from it was popular. Nowadays, a great number of Iranians are placing Shahnameh (the Epic of Kings) of Ferdowsi on their spread as an Iranian national book. They believe that Shahnameh has more Iranian identity values and spirits, and is much suitable for this ancient celebration. 

After the Saal Tahvil, people hug and kiss each other and wish each other a 'Happy New Year'. Then they exchange presents (traditionally cash, coins or gold coins), usually older ones give to the younger ones. The first few days are spent visiting older members of the family, relatives and friends. Children receive presents and sweets, special meals and "Aajil" (a combination of different nuts with raisins and other sweet stuff) or fruits are consumed. Traditionally on the night before the New Year, most Iranians will have Sabzi Polo Mahi, a special dish of rice cooked with fresh herbs and served with smoked and freshly fried fish. Koukou Sabzi, a mixture of fresh herbs with eggs fried or baked, is also served. The next day rice and noodles (Reshteh Polo) is served. Regional variations exist and very colourful feasts are prepared.

The 13th day of the new year is called
"Sizdah Bedar" and spent mostly outdoors. People will leave their homes to go to the parks or local plains for a festive picnic. It is a must to spend Sizdah Bedar enjoying nature.

No-Rooz Greetings:

  • No-Rooz Mobarak” - Happy No-Rooz, Happy New Year

  • Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak” - Happy New Year to you

  • No-Rooz Pirooz” - Wishing you a Prosperous New Year

  • Sad Saal be in Saal-ha” - Wishing you 100 more Happy New Years.

May 2016 continue to be a good one for you.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Tinnitus – a personal perspective

Tinnitus – a personal perspective

I was recently asked to do my talk on 'relaxation and stress-management' to a local tinnitus support group. This request has motivated me to explore what it means to have this condition. I know that my hearing is very important to me and on the rare occasion when my hearing had been affected by a heavy cold I'm aware of slight deafness and sounds that are not normally there. Fortunately after a few days I recover but this is not a case with many people. CW is one of these people. I met CW some time ago at a local allotment scheme where we are both members and this is what she says about living with this condition:-

Thanks for asking me about tinnitus. I try not to think about it but it has been interesting putting these thoughts down. …..

I’ve lived with a sharp hissing in one ear for over 40 years, when I went completely deaf in my right ear, and a less sharp hiss in the other for about five years. I probably had ear problems since I was a baby because I had a lot of earache and a doctor found I was lip-reading at some point in my childhood. Up until I retired 10 years ago I was working and travelling and generally being more energetic than I am now so I probably didn’t notice the tinnitus as much as in recent years. I certainly notice the noise when I’m talking/writing about it, like now!! And I notice it at night when all is supposed to be silent.

I remember going to a self-help group in Sheringham about 25 years ago but I found that talking about tinnitus made me quite depressed so I decided not to go any more. I am an outgoing and optimistic person, and being active and having lots of interests helped, and still helps, distract from the noise. At home, I have the radio on, and I like to be outside, whatever the weather, in the garden, the city or on the allotment where there is low to medium background noise. Obviously loud noise is to be avoided. As we get older, hearing often deteriorates and the downside of being sociable is that hearing speakers and people I’m with, is now very hard work. I need to see someone’s face to hear properly and there mustn’t be background music or clatter, as in many cafes, for instance. Lots of people do not enunciate their words (you could say mumble!) and not only do I struggle to hear, but voices have to be sharp enough to override the tinnitus as well.

We can get ringing in our ears as a result of various things but there is no cure for tinnitus caused by ear damage, as far as I know. The brain develops coping strategies but I can only say that it’s important to get out and about, do things, keep busy and keep positive. While I can never experience the silence of mountains in winter, which is where I first realised I had bad tinnitus (I was working in Geneva), I can appreciate the sounds of nature whether in the garden or in the countryside of on the coast: wind in the trees, birdsong, water – these things make life enjoyable and well worth living”. (CW)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Free hand massages @ Jessopp Road URC, Norwich, NR2 3QA from 10am

As part of community 'payback' I do several charity events for my local area charities. The first one is on tomorrow for 'GAIN' - this group supports and offers advice for people with arthritis. At these events I offer free hand massages and advice on self-care.

I'm a firm believer in the benefits of massage and it can include the following:

Increasing your energy levels – massage may enable you to function better by helping to regulate your sleep patterns, eliminate toxins and impurities and restore strength and mobility.
Improving your concentration & mental clarity massage may reduce stress and anxiety, deepen relaxation and improve self-esteem.
Relieving muscle tension & stiffness and deepen (your) breathing it may also balance the digestive system and support the lymphatic system.
Finally and more importantly, it may induce a sense of mental wellbeing which makes you feel better able to cope with the strain and stresses of daily life.

So come along tomorrow from 10am at the Jessopp Road URC, Norwich and enjoy a free hand massage and have a cuppa! Everyone welcome.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Happy (Chinese) New Year

hanging lanterns in Korea

"Happy (Chinese) New Year" to all; may year of the monkey be a good one for you all.

Following on from my blog about how I keep active & connected I thought I would try out the computing skills I learnt today. This is just one of the examples of what I do to try to keep my grey cells active. 

At the IT class today I re-learnt how to use the 'Pixlr' photo editor programme to load a photo from a folder. Then I cropped it to the area I wanted to keep, re-sized it & finally added text. I was also shown how to rotate a photo.

I tried to repeat the taught steps & did the above on my own at home. I picked a photo I took whilst on holiday in Korea which I downloaded from my camera onto my laptop. Then following what I had learnt in class I was able to do the above. Hope you like it.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Carers often forget to look after their own wellbeing as they are often too busy looking after others. If you are a carer then this event may help you to unwind & have a day away from caring.

I often help out at these events & find it very rewarding as a therapist. I'm looking forward to doing this one. I shall be there in the afternoon offering free hand massages. This is open to all & there's no charge for the event or the therapies on offer. Also, no need to book. See you there!

Add caption

Friday, 1 January 2016

5 steps to Wellbeing (or how I try to fit it in my busy life!)

Every day life seems to get busier & busier for me; especially with all my voluntary commitments. On top of that I also have a family to look after so how do I manage to look after my Wellbeing. As a therapist I realise that in order to care for others I must first of all care for myself.

I have just heard on the radio that recent research has shown that people who have a wide circle of connections are happier and more content than those who have fewer connections.

There is so much advice and information from the Government and health authorities to be fit, in body & mind, that it can be bewildering to know where to start. Well, this is how I try to fit in the advice given:-

  • Be connected– connect with everyone around you. This can include family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships e.g. by a quick chat on the doorstep to having a long leisurely drink with a friend. Don’t forget that some strangers are just friends you haven’t made yet! I make a point of setting time aside for family/friends and try to make sure that I don’t let relationships drift. I go as far as arranging mutual times to call my adult children who live away from home. I also try to set slots aside in my diary to see friends or else things can easily drift. I make it a priority to stay in touch with my family and friends.

  • Be active –This doesn’t have to be in a gym or cost any money. Just by taking a walk to the local shops/park can help your mental wellbeing without much effort. It is best to find an activity that you thoroughly enjoy and you can easily fit into your life. I try to walk whenever I can as the fresh air often helps me to clear my mind. A longish walks also makes sure that I am tired enough to have a good night’s sleep. Don’t let the wet & windy weather in the UK at the moment put you off as we’re ‘waterproof’ & there’s no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothing! So warm up & enjoy the day; below is me enjoying bird watching on a chilly day on the Norfolk coast.

  • Be learning – learning any new skills can give you a sense of achievement. It can also build confidence and maybe a new set of friends or at least you will be in company of people who have similar interests. I joined a computer class run by the local Adult Education Service last year and more recently I have also joined a new photography group. Now I must get myself a SLR camera! These groups have opened up new learning areas for me and some have definitely challenged me! Any activity that involves mental activity is also good at keeping dementia at bay so keep those grey cells active.

  • Be giving – The smallest random acts of kindness such as a smile, or taking note of someone’s outfit, a ‘thank you’ or a kind word can be so beneficial to your wellbeing. You may also like to think about volunteering with an organisation that you identify with. This will also help your mental wellbeing and help you build new friends and connections. I find my voluntary work with the Red Cross and other charitable organisations very rewarding and fulfilling.

  • Be ‘Mindful’ – this is not mumbo jumbo or hippy dippy! It just means being more aware and appreciative of the present moment. These moments of calm away from your routine can help you to view any challenges more positively. I’m a ‘graduate’ of Mindfulness and find it a useful exercise to do before I see a client or have difficulties going to sleep – it works every time for me! Mindfulness also means being kind and compassionate to yourself and those around you. Many health authorities in the UK offer this training free so there is no excuse!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy & joyous New Year, may 2016 be a good one for you.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Kansa Vatki Foot Massage™. Kansa what?

Kansa Vatki Foot Massage™ (KVFM). Kansa what? I hear you say. KVFM combined with 'marma therapy' - Indian acupressure - is one of the most relaxing forms of massage and the most established. Now it is coming to Norwich!

Since qualifying in KVFM I have had nothing but praise for it. I have had lovely comments such as 'blissful', 'so relaxing', 'like walking on air'. This was the most recent one: 'it has left my muscles feeling soft & calm'. I received my qualification from a tutor who trained with the 'London Centre of Indian Champissage'. I was also lucky enough to have the treatment & found it be utterly relaxing.

So what is KVFM? This 'ayurvedic' form of foot massage originates from India and has a long well established history of use there. Ayurveda is the traditional medicine system of India and is the world’s oldest healing system, dating back approximately 5,000 years. By the way, 'ayurveda' is thought by many to be the forerunner of modern medicine: "ayur" means life and "veda" means knowledge.

Central to the KVFM treatment is a small bowl made up of three metals - copper, zinc and tin.

Copper may be helpful in reducing pain, inflammation and arthritis. Many people in the Western world wear copper bracelets for this reason. Zinc may be helpful in the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, tin is believed to be helpful in digestion, relieving headaches and insomnia. This unique bowl in the hands of a experienced therapist will leave you feeling on top of the world. 

Traditionally, clarified butter or ghee is used although other oils such as coconut, sunflower, jojoba or sesame are used.

This treatment involves working on the feet and lower limbs using relaxing and smoothing massage techniques to soften and rest the muscles. Then using the special Kansa Vatki bowl, specific moves are carried out on the feet. Clients have reported that this leaves them feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, relaxed and more able to re-connect with themselves.

KVFM is suitable for all – young and old – sick or healthy. It especially benefits those who spend long hours on their feet as it may:-

  • relax tired and aching feet and joints,
  • improve and help joint mobility,
  • help to strengthen the legs and feet,
  • promote good sleep,
  • help to reduce stress and anxiety

It may also help with regulating the body as it balances body, mind and spirit. Furthermore, it may promote good health and help in preventing de-generative diseases.

It is thought that the soles of the feet are directly connected to the human soul as the feet contain key energy and nerve endings relating to internal organs.

The treatment sessions are just under an hour with assessment and consultation. Give it a try – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Further details: 07717089280