In this podcast episode we are honoured to chat with Lisa Gumieniuk all about the nervous system. Lisa is a Coach, Practitioner & Energy Healer and the founder of the ‘Chaos to Clarity Reset’ podcast, and ‘The Chaos to Calm Summit'. We talk with Lisa about her own health journey and she shares three awesome and simple techniques to support our nervous system.
Amy: How have you been in the last few months in isolation? How have you found it?
Lisa: We were having a little bit of a chat before we jumped on air here and I said, it's something that I'm actually used to. I'm used to isolation. I've been on my own chronic health journey and recovery journey for a number of years. I spent five, six years, in isolation because I was too physically unwell to engage in others and to socialize. I also was really immune compromised. I couldn’t really be around other people, so it's something that I've been used to. I think there's also a lot of people who are in this situation and to some extent have been prepared for it.
Amy: Has that been something that you've been able to give advice about or has it brought back negative memories for you?
Lisa: I mean it's not positive per se. It is how it is. It's what happened to me and what my experiences were. I've been absolutely able to help and support other people because it's through conversations like this. I'm so grateful for being on the podcast to be able to share these different messages of hope, because it's through this, that we learn, grow and realize that there is hope. So, I look at it and reflect back on it, it's made me stronger. You know, if I look back previously and to the, you know, the many years that I was at home with my husband, in my four walls, not really well enough to engage in society. It was a real struggle, there's, there's a lot of emotions that come up, associated with that. There's anxiety, fear of the future, depression, overwhelm, there's kind of that feeling of like climbing up the walls and there's a lot of emotions that come up. I've learned to and I didn't know how, to process those emotions in the past. Hence, I learnt those from myself I'm now a practitioner and I can help other people. I have that understanding.
Amy: What are you a practitioner in?
Lisa: Oh, there's a, there's a bit of a list here. So that list is EFT, emotional freedom techniques…
Gordon: I was just looking at your website, I can see you've got shocker healing, crystal healing, dowsing, you've got certificates in the media meditation, a huge range of different modalities.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. I started off many years ago with a business degree, there's nutrition in there, a lot of energetic health. Also, I use a lot of energetic health with myself and others, to get sort of energy moving and flowing in the body. Movement and exercise are really important. So, that's from a physical aspect. There's also that emotional and mental side. So, EFT for the Emotional Freedom Technique and the emotional side neuro-linguistic program, for a lot of the mine related things. I got neuro immunology is quite a little bit of a mouthful there, but ultimately, it's the art, science, relaxation techniques behind it. It's the science behind relaxation, going down to genetics, DNA and how through some of these techniques, we actually can change our DNA.
Gordon: I didn't know you could actually change your DNA. Would you like to tell us how that's possible? I thought it was just sort of hardwired in and that was it.
Lisa: I used to think the same thing and I'm sure there's a lot of people who are listening, who are in the same boat and think that they have these genes or those genetics. We hear that all the time, “I have these genes”, “it's in my genetics”, “it's in my family line” and “my family has this, therefore, I have it”. There are a few concepts with genetics, our lifestyle, our thoughts and behaviours influence and change our genes. So just because we have a gene doesn't necessarily mean that that gene is expressed in the body. Meaning gene being turned on, is active. Often our lifestyle and whatnot are like the trigger of the gun to activating our genetics. We can change our genetics as doing something as simple as changing our diet, lifestyle and movement. There are also some amazing things that can help to change our genes, which are things like breathing and meditation and EFT, emotional freedom technique, or also known as tapping is incredible for changing gene and gene expression. There was one, one of my favourite studies. I'm so excited. You can hear it in my voice that I really want to share it with you. And the listeners are that there is this particular study done of a number of participants who did EFT. So, it's tapping as I am doing acupuncture on the body and they did it for 15 minutes and there are a number of genes that were expressed differently, 24 and 72 hours afterwards. There were 72 genes changed directly after, and 10 really key genes 72 hours after. And those genes impacted on immunity and stress levels. And so, what are some of the most important things for maintaining health?
Gordon: Yeah. I was thinking stress and anxiety and I was just thinking how amazing it is that those genes can be altered and so many of them so quickly.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And then if we go just down to our thought, if we change our thought process. “Oh, I'm anxious”, that's a thought and a feeling, we choose to make a different thought and feel a different emotion. That's going to change our stress levels and our genes immediately, it can take two and a half seconds.
Amy: So being mindful of what we're thinking, maybe accepting different thoughts and then learning how to deal with them.
Amy: I wanted to ask you, we talked about this a bit before we jumped on the recording, but what was your journey into this sort of we'll call it the wellbeing and all the different modalities that you've learned? Did you want to share your, your story?
Lisa: Yeah. I'd be happy to. So, going back a number of years ago, about 2013, I literally thought I had it all. I was literally on top of the world. I had a great corporate career and team that I loved. I was kicking lots of goals in my personal life and professional life. I won a number of awards at work, staff member of the year, outstanding achievement. And I married my husband. Well, my now husband, we've been together for a number of years. I was literally on top of the world and thought I was unstoppable. And I remember the day after I won these awards, I was doing a really big cycle. And I literally said to myself, I'm invincible, as I was going on this cycle. But little did I know that actually I was pretty stressed. I was pretty anxious, I was pretty tired, I was overwhelmed, and my body was overwhelmed. I was overworking myself. I had this rushing lifestyle and diet, which was just completely depleting me. I was exhausting my energy reserves. I did 10 hours of bootcamp or high intensity exercise, including bootcamp. Every week I would do a 40 K cycle on a Saturday morning with two bootcamp sessions and I didn't have any downtime. It was just “go, go, go”. My mind was on overdrive, my body was exhausted, and I didn't know how to process my emotions. I didn't know what my spirit was. I wasn't connected to that. I was pretty much running on empty. We talk about these concepts and we hear them all the time of things like self-care, but I didn't really know what that was. So, I kept going and going and going until my body just started to, I guess, break down and I had all these different symptoms. I ended up with started off with glandular fever autoimmune disease, adrenal fatigue, Lyme disease, heavy metal toxicity shingles. There's a lot of chronic infectious illness there.
I often forget this one, I also had a car accident at the same time. All of this was happening. So, I literally went from being very, very highly functioning to within several weeks and months, my health just declining. I can remember my health and energy levels declining, but I was reading a two-line email at work and I could physically read the words. It was a very simple email, but the words weren’t actually going into my brain and I couldn't process them. And I thought, what is happening to my brain? My brain started to decline, memory loss, had problems, even more anxiety. I didn't know what was happening. My family and friends couldn't help me. I sought practitioners for many years, and they didn't know what to do, how to help me. But I started on this journey of saying, okay, well, I need to change. Cause I can't live like this, my health is declining by the day. And if I continue to do the same things, then it looks like it's only getting worse. It's not getting better.
So, I went on this massive journey of trying to find out what was happening to me, to also regain my health and identify what was the root cause. I looked at nutrition and that was really helpful and that's a fundamental, but that alone for me, wasn't enough. I needed to do more. I tried lots of therapies and some worked or didn't work, I then trained in these modalities. But what I realized along the way is obviously what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, that we're not just physical beings. I was looking at all these physical things, what do I need to be eating? What herbals or supplements do I need to take? What medicines do I need to take? What practitioners and therapies do I need to see and do? But I actually, wasn't looking internal. I wasn't looking at my emotions and I didn't know how to express them. I didn't have a very good mindset and I didn't understand the spiritual side. So, I went on this journey of then looking at all of those different aspects and that got me to be where I am today and the practitioner than I am.
Amy: What sort of different things worked for you?
Lisa: So, nutrition is a foundation and fundamental cause it is fuel. If we don't put the right fuel, petrol into our car, then our car's not going to drive. I know some friends who had put the wrong fuel into their car and literally a few hundred meters up the road, the car conked out. We often don't have that connection. A lot of it actually comes down to connecting the dots in terms of the water that we're having; it needs to be filtered and free of toxins. That's fuelling our body. Sugar is depleting and our body alcohol depletes the body, whereas lots of fruit, vegetables and clean food fuels the body.
Amy: Yeah. I think our body tells us when it's happy with what we're eating. And sometimes it's kind of easy to ignore the signs. That's like, ah, I wasn't really happy with that fuel you chose today.
Lisa: That's so true. I had ignored it for so long and I also wasn't able to read the science within my own body. You make a really, really good point there that if we listen, our bodies are telling us things when we're not well or we're out of balance, things are happening for a reason. It's actually our body protecting us and trying to do the best thing possible to help and support us. Again, it comes back to that point that I mentioned about connection. I was disconnected from my body. I couldn't read the signs that my body was trying to give me.
Amy: So, what sort of things have you been doing with them to sort of help people with existing problems of dealing with isolation and the stress of everything that's going on?
Lisa: One of the main, I guess it's just kind of a theme that's coming up today is that connection. People in isolation, they're feeling disconnected, they're feeling disconnected within themselves and they're feeling disconnected from others cause they're not physically able to engage with other people. So, a lot of the workshops that I do is really about coming together. I do a self-care Saturday, which is women coming together to really connect again with themselves and with those in the group. They don't necessarily realize that that's what they're coming for. But at the end of it, that's what comes out of it, as well as the title of your podcast, clarity.
My coaching programs and my Facebook group actually is chaos to clarity reset. Part of it also came about because when I was running these workshops, I often ask people what their intention is at the beginning, then what they got out of it and what's a little gift or what's one word. Time and time and time again, just like you hear from people and been hearing the word clarity, they say clarity. It's like, “oh, I just feel so much clearer”.
Amy: We wanted to chat to you about some techniques that we can do at home or with our practitioners about supporting the nervous system.
Lisa: Yeah. The nervous system. It's really an amazing part of our body. And again, we can always listen into different parts of our body. I've had people actually tune into their nervous system or different parts of their body and actually ask their nervous system questions. Cause we can tap into our subconscious mind to get more clarity about things and sometimes it might be going to different parts of our body and actually asking questions. The nervous system is no exception in that regard. The nervous system is made up of like nerve cells in our body and it's how we communicate with the outside world and it performs and amazing functions. There are billions of nerve cells called neurons that create it. But I mean, that's all the technical side of things, but there's two sides of our nervous system. We've got our Parasympathetic nervous system and our Sympathetic nervous system.
Actually, we have another part, which is the interior equal, the gastrointestinal nervous system. And with the sympathetic nervous system, it affects different parts of our bodies, our saliva stimulation, which helps with digestion, our airways, our heart beating, how our stomach functions, how our gallbladder functions, our intestines. It’s really important to support our nervous system because when we’re in a heightened state, we’re in a stress state, then we go into that that sympathetic nervous system. But when we're relaxed, we’re in that parasympathetic state, that’s what's called rest and digest. So, our body is able to function when it's in that rest and digest mode. But when you're in that mode, your body is kind of like often in freeze mode, like how they often talk about the concept of fight flight freeze. Freeze mode is when you're in that sympathetic state and your body is literally kind of frozen and there's a number of things that can do that.
We spoke a lot about stress. Stress can do that, overwhelm, anxiety, what’s happening in the world at the moment, watching the news, being locked down, people not having the tools to be able to help and support themselves can put people into that stress mode and that sympathetic mode. So, it's really important. And there's some really amazing and simple ways we can do that. Breathing and focusing on breath. Breath work is one way of doing that. One of my favourite ways is EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping.
Amy: We've done an episode on that. It's very interesting.
Lisa: Yeah. So, even something as simple as the tapping process calms the nervous system, even if you just choose one place to tap. Maybe it's just that tapping on your collarbone is enough to just calm the nervous system down.
Amy: That's doing it right now.
Gordon: I'm calm. I'm just trying it.
Lisa: And how's it going for you?
Gordon: Oh, I'm almost asleep.
Lisa: That's exactly what happens to some people. I've got a friend of mine who literally will do one round and she will just feel like she's like, “oh my gosh, Lisa, I feel like I'm backing my body”. And she will literally just melt. She goes from these high states of anxiety to going, “Oh, Oh, I'm just so calm”. And so, when we refer to the nervous system, we're talking about calm. So, what are the different things that you can do to get you into that state of calm? You asked for three things. So, I mentioned breathing and different breath work and techniques, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is really good. But sometimes people are not able to get there on their own. I think it's really important from an awareness perspective to highlight that cause people think, “oh, I do the breath work on my own” and “I do the tapping on my own but I've still got challenges with my nervous system and I still don't feel calm” Or “I don't feel like those methods and modalities are working for me”. Sometimes they're not the right tools and techniques for people, so they need to explore additional options and also professional help. That's something that I realized on my journey; I couldn't do it on my own. I was literally stuck in this fight flight freeze mode. And that was actually preventing me from getting well and I needed to work with practitioners.
Amy: Okay. Would seeing someone like yourself with such an expansive knowledge of many different ones be something someone could do if they're sort of struggling to find the right thing for them?
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And it's all it is about people finding the right practitioner and also the right, you know, techniques and modalities. I was talking to someone the other day and they were saying, “I've worked with a practitioner and who did EFT and it didn't really work for me. It didn't resonate with me, but I do EFT on my own. And I just do some tapping scripts that I found online”. So that's really great that she's found something that works for her, but it could be the modality, it could be the practitioner.
I think it's also important that if people are seeing the same practitioners and getting the same results and they don't feel like they're moving forward, then explore something else. Explore another practitioner, another modality who can help you. Cause I find people come to me all the time who have been doing talk therapy, it can be very good and beneficial for a lot of people. But it can also get the nervous system and the body stuck in a loop where they're not able to process things and move forward. Knowing and seeking out practitioners maybe with a greater toolkit or with a different toolkit or maybe just a different practitioner.
Amy: Yeah. Sort of exploring other opinions and things that people can do. You spoke about breath work, could you explain that in a bit more detail about what people can do maybe after they hop off the episode?
Lisa: Yeah, sure. I might just do a little bit of an example if you're open to it.
Amy: Yeah. I like breathing.
Gordon: I'm pretty keen on breathing too.
Lisa: Excellent. Well, I'm glad that you guys are keen on breathing because it's kind of one of the fundamentals, we can't really go very far without breathing.
Amy: This is true.
Gordon: We take it for granted though. I think.
Lisa: Yeah. We absolutely do take it for granted and how powerful it is. And I'm one of those people. You know, I keep saying, “Oh me, me, me” because I was one of those people that went like “breathing? breath work? really?”. I actually avoided breath work for a number of years, but I also found it actually made me quite anxious. And so sometimes, people do find breath work to be anxious. And so, what I recommend for people is to just stop, I mean, not stop breathing completely, but stop that breath work and seek some support or other modalities to help support you. Then be able to get you into a state where you can do the breath work and you're not anxious. So, what you can do is grab your finger, your thumb, maybe your right thumb and just the thumb pad and just pop that on your right nostril, at the bottom of your right nostril. So, it's just kind of sitting there and it's blocking it. You don't have to push firmly on it, just like nice and gentle when it's covering the nose. You kind of look like you could have your thumb there and your fingers straight ahead. I don't know how to describe it. Like moving your fingers, like when people go “nanananana” and they've got their fingers in their ears? Kind of like that.
So, you've got your finger just on the base of the nostril there, blocking it, and you just breathe in and then move your thumb over to your other nostril. To the left nostril, and then just breathe out.
Amy: How long would we breathe in and out for? Is there five seconds or...
Lisa: Just whatever feels comfortable. It's really about being relaxed. You just breathe in through your left and then go across and breathe out through your right and breathing through your right, maybe nostril finger across, and then breathe out through the left, breathe in, breathe out. And so, as I said your thumb can be really relaxed. It's not pushing upwards forcefully. There's no pressure. It's really, really gentle.
Amy: Does this technique have a name? This particular one?
Lisa: I don't know, actually.
Amy: Yeah, because I've done it before at the start of a yoga class and I really like it.
Lisa: Yeah. So, there's a very similar one in a yoga class which is called alternate nostril breathing.
Amy: Yeah. It must've been that one then.
Lisa: Yeah. And so, what they do is, again, put your thumb, when you're at the base of your right nostril, then your first and second finger go on in-between your eyebrows or what's also known as your third eye point. So, you breathe in and then your ring finger covers your left nostril, the side of the left nostril, and then you breathe in, those two fingers stay in the middle of there and then your right nostril then your finger presses on the side of the right nostril. So slightly different.
And so that one, I find again, it's, that's quite lovely, but it's a lot more forceful with, you know, a little bit more pressure. So, I quite like the other one, it's a little bit gentler. What was, what was your experience?
Amy: Yeah, I wanted to keep going but I feel like maybe it listening to our breathing, it's strange, a bit of ASMR.
Gordon: Is there a length of time you should practice that for or…?
Lisa: I would say a minimum of 90 seconds. And the reason that I say 90 seconds is because it takes 90 seconds for the body and the brain to rewire itself when it from a breathing.
Amy: So set an alarm and see if you can do it for 90 seconds, it's sort of like the first goal.
Lisa: Yeah, 90 seconds and then build up. 90 seconds, go to two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes.
Amy: Cool. So, we've got the breathing technique, tapping on our collarbones. Is there one more sort of simple techniques someone could try doing
Lisa: There is. So, another one is called havening. Ultimately, it's giving yourself a hug. Now, when we talk about like traditional Chinese medicine and we have different meridians in our body. Meridians are energy lines and flows through the body and one of the meridians is called the Triple Warmer, known to help with that fight flight freeze, that stuckness and also calming the nervous system down. So obviously, you know, tapping is calming, and various tapping points will actually tap on that particular point on the triple warmer. Doing Havening does the same thing. So, you literally imagine hugging yourself. You've got your hands on each of your shoulders crossing over, and then you just bring your hands down to your elbows, then you bring it back up again and you bring it back down and you bring it back up. And so, this triple warmer, this Meridian, these energy line runs from our temples. That's why sometimes tapping on the temples is really good or people like that place to be massaged. Some people find it really calming because that's where that triple warmer starts. It goes from the from that point to the back of the ears, down the side of the neck, the back of the shoulders and down of the back of, or the side of the arm, all the way down and off the ring finger.
So, when you are havening or hugging yourself in this way and your hands are moving up and down. I actually hadn't read, someone taught me havening, but then I put two and two together and went, actually the reason it's so good is because where your hands are, it's going to the back of that triple warmer for the nervous system. And so literally it's calming it down.
Amy: Like tapping on them ever so slightly.
Lisa: Yeah. And so, one thing that I do when I'm in bed and sort of most mornings and nights is when I'm on my side, I'll have one hand obviously on my shoulder. If I'm sleeping on my right side, for example, I'll have my right arm up and it's on my left shoulder and I will literally just tap on that.
Amy: How does that help you? Does it help you fall asleep if you're going to it?
Lisa: Yeah, it helps me to calm down. It puts me in a nice place, where I feel like I'm safe. It's relaxing. I do have a number of challenges with my digestive system. I get a lot of toxin build-up and challenges with bowel movements. So, when I wake up in the morning because I have challenges with my bowel movements and I'm quite toxic, I can wake up quite anxious because my body hasn't, hasn't cleared it off. It's like all this toxicity. So literally I can wake up feeling anxious and just tap on that spot. And it just helps me to calm down and go, “no, it's okay” or I can actually feel my nervous system gets a little bit overstimulated and I can feel the nerves in my body, kind of feel like I stuck my finger in a socket. It's not the most amazing feeling and some of it does come to being EMF sensitive, electrical sensitive. So, this just really helps to calm me down. I'm like, “okay, nervous system, I'm supporting you”. And I'm just tapping on that spot or doing that havening to just kind of like brush off that energy and support the nervous system.
Amy: Does it come back as well? A little bit to what you were saying at the very beginning of the episode about sort of just having that awareness with your thoughts and your body as a whole.
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. Awareness is number one and then once you have the awareness, then you can make choices. Do I think that thought? do I feel that emotion? do I take that action and behaviour to have that same outcome? Or do I choose something different? different thought, different belief, different, emotional feeling, different action or behaviour to then have a different outcome and result. And it's a constant process.
Gordon: It's all free choice and powers in us to make those choices.
Lisa: Can you elaborate a little bit on that Gordon?
Gordon: Oh, it's just that I think people may look externally for solutions, but a lot of that the solutions actually live within us.
Lisa: It is very true. People say that all the time and people used to say that to me, “it's all within you”. And I thought, what do you mean it's all within me? I don't understand this concept. Some of your listeners might be saying, “I've heard this before, but I don't quite understand it.
I've been on quite a big journey and I also take a lot of my clients on the journey as well, so that they actually really are able to embody the process and the understanding. To also be able to tap and tune into it and also have the skills and ability. I mean, sorry, everyone has the skills and the ability, but, some of the three things that we went through today are really amazing, empowering tools that people can use and that's within them to be able to do those things. But we're not taught these things at school. You know, my parents didn't know, my grandparents didn't know, teachers didn't know.
Gordon: It's amazing that such simple techniques can have such profound benefits and you can practice them anywhere. It doesn't cost a cent as long as you have it. A little bit of information.
Lisa: Yeah. And just like nutrients is the same and your clarity product.
Amy: For sure. One thing I really loved about this chat is the three things we can do when we feel like we need them, the breathing and the havening and the tapping. Thank you for sharing those. They're really useful.