“Just as plants need light to grow and metabolise, human beings need ‘love light’ to illuminate our spirits and souls so that our cells function properly. We say overall that the picture of health is measuring your life energy factor”.
What is/was your project about?
Working with the connections between state of body, mind, spirit and environment to create positive health and wellbeing. I realized I needed to get a medical qualification to serve as a bridge between the worlds of orthodox, complementary therapy and self-help.
Primary training is as a GP but I have specialized as an integrative medicine consultant practicing lifestyle medicine but moving into preventive healthcare.
I still practice as a doctor, but work outside of the NHS.
I am qualified as a GP and worked as a doctor, but integrative medicine is not really recognized within the NHS.
I was mainly working with people with cancer and started looking at how people got cancer and helping people to understand how to understand that and become involved in generating self-healing and positive coping styles
I started to develop health creation as a way to provide a shift from passive healthcare to proactive health creation.
I created workbooks for this for people who are suffering and those who are caring (see selection of supporting material). There are three workbooks, 1 for people with cancer at the time of diagnosis to help them work through the maze of information and the shock and pain of everything. There is also a carer’s guide to help them understand how to be a good carer and how to resource themselves. The final one is the health creation programme which helps people to understand the relationship with themselves and how they sabotage and promote their own wellness and wellbeing. We look at the messages between body mind and soul which we tend to ignore in this society. Most of the time when I speak to people they do actually already know what is going on inside, but they have not actively thought about it. There is also a map called ‘The Picture of Health’ which helps people to see their health defining behaviours – how is the way I am living/ being now going to predict the kind of illnesses and threats I am leaving myself open to? It gives them a very clear picture of where their life is working and not working and what they can do to change. After I had written these programmes I realized that not many people can’t do these sort of programmes without support so I also wrote a training for people to be mentors, consultants and trainers.
10 years later I realised I had created a new professional discipline for health coaching and mentorship and organizational health and wellbeing consultancy
Around 2005 I found though that people were still not taking it up so much, they were stuck in their comfort zone. An advisor of mine said I should be a health guru but I didn’t want that all. He said in order for this to be taken up on a higher level you have to get this integrated across the board. I turned it around to look at how organizations and businesses affect people’s lives and health. We piloted this in hospitals and now have it in 26 primary schools in Bristol and Bath University. I have also mentored 28 NHS senior leaders and their health and wellbeing improved on all parameters measured; depression, anxiety, stress, wellbeing and symptoms. It’s finally starting to catch fire, after so many years of feeling like I was in a bit of a wilderness it is now finally taking root as people realise that staying passive as we all drift into preventable lifestyle illnesses is just not sustainable. In 2000 I think I was a bit early for this to have widespread uptake, but now the time is right.
We are now aiming this at individuals at all levels of health, at organizations that want health and wellbeing strategies for individuals or company wide. I also train people to become health creation consultants
There are 3 principles for each of mind body, spirit and environment and people can map those.
I have also created a Health Creation E-learning platform which goes in depth into why the twelve principles are important, what are the scientific facts (evidence) behind all the questions on the Picture of Health. People often say there is no science behind holistic healthcare and self-help but actually there is a huge amount of scientific evidence.
Our trainings are also accredited by Bath Spa University through their Professional Masters Programme. Postgraduate Coaching and Mentoring Award. We teach and promote health and wellbeing through our new methodology.
We have trained about 250 mentors, some of whom have become health creation consultants
We are looking to ally ourselves with the health and wellbeing boards.
Just as plants need light to grow and metabolise, human beings need ‘love light’ to illuminate our spirits and souls so that our cells function properly. We say overall that the picture of health is measuring your life energy factor. When you summate that for a whole group you can get a corporate life energy factor for a school, hospital or business. It helps people to see how their own behaviour and corporate behaviour is affecting their personal health-defining behavior and their corporate health defining culture. From there, with this clarity, we can make really effective health and wellbeing strategies, coaching people and organisations through healthy changes that impact positively on the environment and wellbeing of employees.
What issues do you or did you address?
- Integrative health
- Mental health, the health of mind, body, spirit, soul and environment.
- Nutrition, rest, sleep, physical expression, sexuality, toxicity, use of chemicals, self stressing and stressors.
- Emotional wellbeing and effectively are we able to express our emotions safely, do we know how to be happy, joyful and playful.
- Relationships, how people find the love and intimacy they need to flourish.
- Authenticity, being true to ourselves and understanding our true nature, we get people back into truth.
- Spiritual connection – how to people re-source themselves.
- In terms of environment we get people aware of the chemicals they use, the healthiness of buildings at home and at work.
- Also we work out our relationship to nature in both a global sense and the effect of nature for our souls and uplift.
- We help foster healthy communities. We want to get people out of isolation and into connection with a sense of belonging.
- Normalising being healthy rather than treating people only when they are ill.
- We are also working with people’s relationships to dying.
What moved you to take action?
I worked for 15 years at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre charity (now Penny Brohn Cancer Care) from 1985 to 2000. We were having amazing results but I started to think why are we just working with people who are very, very ill? I decided to move it all back up the river and started to create a proactive approach to the relationship between health and wellbeing, without actually having to be very sick to do so. This was a big challenge as we all like our comfort zone, but I then created health creation with the goal to make health the norm in society rather than illness, by shifting our focus from passive healthcare to active health creation. 13% of UK expenditure is on mental health problems, cancer and heart are around 7% each. Mental health is a big issue and we need to tackle it and understand how it is our state of mind that determines most of the behaviour that makes us unwell.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
- Prejudice against the natural healthcare movement and prejudice from Big Pharma.
- I also run a charity called the Health and Wellbeing Trust. We provide bursaries and funding for people who can’t afford holistic therapies, and student bursaries. We also ambitiously created a British College of Integrative Medicine in 2007 to teach Doctors and Nurses. We created the world’s first degree course the Diploma in the Study of Integrative Medicine at Buckingham University but we got slammed by the cynics and detractors from Sense About Science and Improbably Science who were without doubt pharmaceutically funded.
- More subtle obstacles are resistance to change, as people are sold a materialistic Western lifestyle by aggressive marketeers promoting sweets, fizzy drinks, fast foods, alcohol, and aspirational lifestyles that put people into high stress to earn the money to live that way.
What helped you keep going in hard times? Was there a time when you thought you would
give up? (What did you think or say to inspire yourself to keep going?)
- Love and constant support from friends and family
- Practices such as yoga and meditation since the age of 17 – I am now Patron of the British wheel of Yoga
- I go regularly for spiritual healing. I am also Patron of the Healing Trust
- It’s about getting myself back into the light, and surrounding myself with people who have the right positive energy and consciousness.
- Understanding that of course this is absolutely the right thing for me to do with my life
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental/wellbeing issues and when was that?
My interest developed as a teenager as I watched my best friend suffer from irritable bowel syndrome which got worse the more anxious she became. I was watching the mind-body connection in action. I also observed the way that we affect each other – how happy positive people make everyone around them happier and weller, whereas those that are angry and stressed make us all feel terrible. This took me on a search to discover the nature of health and wellness and that led me to understand the entire basis of holism – how we are all inextricably linked and how our beviour to each other, ourselves and our planet is entirely inter-related. From here it was a short journey to see how badly wrong our relationship has become to our planet and how our negative patterns or greed, abuse, self-interest and insecurity have put in danger that which we love the most, our mother Earth and our friends, families, plants and animals.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?