Our Wellness Guru this week is Phil Parker, an internationally renowned health visionary, humanitarian, PHD researcher, therapist, lecturer and author, and creator of the Lightning Process. The Lightning Process has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, inluding the likes of Laura Mvula, Austin Healy and Martine McCutcheon. And it It has been beneficial for unresponsive persistent health conditions such as insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, acute pain as well as mental health related conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, OCD and many more
The program focuses on how the brain and body interact and how the body and nervous system can become ‘stuck’ in various physiological patterns that can prevent good health. It provides ‘tools’ to use the brain-body link to influence health and life. The tools involve gentle movement, meditation-like techniques and mental exercises. Underpinned by ideas from osteopathy, neuroscience, positive psychology, mindfulness and NLP and utilises neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change in response to usage, and teaches participants to actively change how their body and brain work together.
We asked Phil to give us an insight into how he started on this road to wellness and helping others.
1. Tell us about yourself, and how you got to be where you are today?
I’ve been working as an osteopath for almost 30 years, specialising in chronic health issues; but increasingly I found that many people’s physical illnesses were related to their emotional and psychological health, so I retrained as an Ericksonian psychotherapist, NLP master trainer and coach, to combine physical and psychological approaches to health.
I found this very successful for many clients however, there were some people who I still just couldn’t work out how to help using this combination of skills. I wasn’t sure who to refer them to next as they’d come to me after having tried most other things already.
I decided to start a research project to see if I could identify if something had been missed- this research project led to the development of the Lightning Process, a 3 -day training program that specifically helps people with chronic illness to learn to consciously influence the way the brain controls their physiology and to make profound changes in their physical health.
That was 18 years ago since then over 20,000 people have used a Lightning Process to transform their health in 16 different countries around the world.
2. Tell us how you spend your average working day
I start the morning with a little bit of exercise and if the weather is good, eating my breakfast in the sun - I’ve been trying a carb free diet recently, which is an interesting challenge, on top of being vegan
I always find it best to have a clear plan for the day otherwise emails and other admin stuff suddenly swamp everything you trying to do; in any organisation is very easy to get sucked into doing jobs that you can do rather than focusing on the things that only you can.
I always make time in the day to take my puppy for a long walk; that’s my favourite kind of exercise, as, and as a health expert I probably shouldn’t say this but, I get so bored in gyms. There’s also some great evidence that the being in nature is very good for your health, and I find it a great time to think about things.
I also make sure I do something specifically creative every day, often related to my work, as I find that’s one of the things that really feeds my soul.
3. What inspires you?
For me, I’m constantly inspired by the extraordinary success stories that people share with me about how they’ve used my ideas to transform their lives- people going from being in wheelchairs to running marathons; from being so ill, lying in bed all day long to competing at the Rio Olympics; to stories closer to home like the mum who was never well enough to collect their son from school, picking them up for the first time ever- and the son asking, ‘Will you be able to do the same thing tomorrow?’ and the mum saying ‘I promise I’ll collect you from school every day, until you don’t want me to any more’.
I am also generally inspired and intrigued by the extraordinary power that we all have within us and the amazing relationship between the way we use our brains and how that can help or destroy our health.
4. What’s your goal in life?
To get the message out about what we are achieving- there are thousands of people out there who’ve been told that they will never recover from a range of serious illnesses because they and their medical support teams aren’t aware that there are some amazing, new solutions available right now- and it seems unfair and unreasonable that these people don’t know about it or have access to those options right now. Bridging that gap, that’s my mission.
5. What does Wellness mean to you?
Wellness to me is a holistic approach to life that includes eating well, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally on all levels. Years ago I had a client who used the Gerson (raw food) diet to get over cancer- she lived in the Isle of Wight and she told me how she had spent a very stressful week trying to find an organic avocado- it seemed to me that although eating organic avocados is great, being stressed when trying to find one is probably going to undo the benefits of eating the organic avocado.
Very often there is a section of wellness that people forget to pay attention to, and in my experience, because we know how to reset our diet, exercise regimes, sit better, drink more water etc., we focus on those but, as one of the areas we know the least amount how to change is our psychological and emotional well-being, we often ignore it. As such it can provide a really rich area for changing health, as once we become aware of habits, thoughts, behaviours and other issues that have been silently affecting our health, then changing them becomes relatively simple.
6. What advice would you give to a person looking to change their lifestyle to a happier healthier one?
Consider the simplest thing that will make the biggest change. Do that!
This is because we’re more likely to do something that is easier and then once that’s done we can look at the next simplest thing to do next. For many people trying to take on too much in one go is a sure fire way to create an environment that makes it easy to give up. It’s also a case of trusting yourself and your intuition; one of things I hold to be true is that you know better than anybody else what is the best path for you.
I’d also recommend getting a coach or buddy to support you in making it happen, as this is a brilliant way to keep yourself on track.
7. Tell us about your business?
On a daily basis I wear a number of different hats; I am currently doing research for my PhD into helping people with addictions; I regularly run training seminars for members of the public to learn more about NLP and coaching and for practitioners who wish to become clinically trained; I run Lightning Process seminars, write books, record regular podcasts and stream free live seminars from my Facebook page; I also have a role in leading the Lightning Process organisation and practitionership worldwide, supporting practitioner development and research into the Lightning Process.
8. Tell us your Top 3 Tips for Wellness?
Be compassionate to yourself, and others.
Take responsibility to influence the things you can change and to let go of the things you can’t.
Have as much fun as you can.
9. So what’s next in your career/life?
Finishing my PhD, doing lecture tour of New Zealand and hanging out with my wife, kids and puppy.
Find out more about Phil Parker and his Relaxation and De-Stress Programme HEREwww.philparker.org