Posted by: barbaraneill | September 3, 2016

Food categories and how to simplify them

There are so many food categories and so much advice about what we should and shouldn’t eat that it can get quite confusing. There is, you’ll be pleased to know, a way of making it so much simpler.

To be fair, this method does require a very basic knowledge of what constitutes ‘food that is good for you’ as well as a healthy dose of common sense but, with those two things in place, the rest is easy!

As far as I’m concerned, there are only two categories of food; ‘necessary food’ and ‘unnecessary’ food. Necessary food is food that has good nutritional value, that you eat when you are hungry. Unnecessary food is everything else. In other words, food is unnecessary if it has little or no nutritional value, (you know the culprits, so I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out!); food that does have good nutritional value becomes unnecessary if you eat it when you are not hungry. This means that a single plateful of food could contain both necessary and unnecessary food. The important thing is to be aware of when the rest of the food on your plate becomes unnecessary, (which is where Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals can help).

So, it really is a simple case of identifying whether your food is necessary or unnecessary. The decision you make from there is up to you!

The next Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals event will be on 8th September at Fortify Café, Maidstone. More details here

Or if you’d like to experience Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals in your own home, you can now buy the mp3 download here

Posted by: barbaraneill | August 19, 2016

Cutlery; help or hindrance?


When you’re eating a meal, using cutlery, how much attention do you give to the flavour of the food? It’s probably less than you think!

My guess is that your attention is divided while you’re eating your meals. Do you tend to eat your meals while you’re watching TV? Or, if you’re horrified by that thought, do you see mealtimes as an opportunity to chat with others at the table? Our culture is such that ‘going out for a meal’ is only fractionally about the food. The ambience of the restaurant, the company and the conversation are also important on those social occasions.

To avoid digressing too far, let’s focus on you, eating a meal alone with no other distractions. Would it surprise you to learn that it’s still unlikely you are giving the food, itself, your full attention? Would it surprise you, also, to discover that the way you use your cutlery is a likely culprit between you and your full enjoyment of your food?

Let me explain. When you load food onto your fork (or spoon), and put the into your mouth, unless you are different from most you will be preparing the next load of food; deciding which piece to eat next, cutting it, loading the fork or spoon, while you are still eating.

As an exercise, (and it’s a good idea to use cold food, such as a salad, for this), try putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls and see how much more attention you can give to the enjoyment of your meal. I’m not suggesting, for a moment, that it’s practical to do this all the time and, of course, it will take longer to eat a meal this way, which is why I suggested cold food! Why not give it a try? Notice the difference it makes.

So, while I’m not suggesting you should give up using cutlery altogether, giving it a rest is worth a try!

The next Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals event will be on 8th September at Fortify Café, Maidstone. More details here

Or if you’d like to experience Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals in your own home, you can now buy the mp3 download here

Posted by: barbaraneill | August 6, 2016

How to enjoy chocolate more by eating less!

Most of us like chocolate. I don’t think many would dispute that. When you decide to treat yourself to a bar of chocolate, do you tend to eat the whole bar in a short time? And does it go a bit like this?
First piece; mmm delicious!
Second piece; pretty good too.
Third piece; not as good as the first, but still nice.
Might as well have another piece, and another…
There’s only a little bit left. May as well finish the bar, so the wrapper can be thrown away.
If that sounds familiar, and I suspect it might, you are definitely not alone. But when you stop to think about it, how much of that bar of chocolate do you actually enjoy? I mean really enjoy. The first three pieces maybe? It seems likely that most of that bar of chocolate is eaten out of habit, especially if you happen to be doing something else at the same time; watching TV, reading, maybe.
What if you were to focus only on the chocolate you are eating? So, no distractions, just the enjoyment and appreciation of that chocolate. What if you were to give it your full attention? Then, as your enjoyment of that chocolate begins to diminish, stop eating it. Put the rest of the bar away for later. It’s not rocket science but it is very, very effective in helping you to enjoy chocolate more by eating less!
The next Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals event will be on 8th September at Fortify Café, Maidstone. More details here
Or if you’d like to experience Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals in your own home, you can now buy the mp3 download here
Posted by: barbaraneill | July 30, 2016

Dyspraxia, Mindfulness and Food


I was born with dyspraxia so I’ve never known anything different. Dyspraxia affects my co-ordination and balance, among other things, but I’m not going into all of that now. Instead, I’m going to describe how I developed my own coping strategies, particularly when it came to eating, and how those coping strategies have led me onto other things.

While I was growing up I had no idea I was dyspraxic. In fact, my eldest son reached the age of five and was, himself, recognised as dyspraxic (in a time in which Dyspraxia had finally been acknowledged, though it still had a long way to go before being properly understood), and it was only when working through a questionnaire with him, that I discovered the classic signs and symptoms of dyspraxia applied to me as well.

In spite of not realising I was dyspraxic while I was growing up, I still had the condition and was coping with the many difficulties that accompanied it, on a daily basis. Those difficulties included eating, without making a mess. Although getting food from a plate into the mouth is a perfectly natural process for most people, for those of us who have dyspraxia, it can be a very different story, in which every mealtime becomes a challenge. The strategy I developed for this, (as well as many other challenges I faced regularly), was to slow down the process. I would focus my attention on getting a manageable quantity of food onto my fork and ‘tidying’ it to minimise the risk of losing some of the food before it reached my mouth. Then, when it finally did reach my mouth, I would, and still do, savour it before repeating the process. I remember, many years ago, a work colleague of mine would sometimes make a point of watching me eat my lunch. I remember her comment vividly; “I love watching you eat. It’s all so slow and deliberate!” Of course I had no idea what she meant because I had developed the coping strategy quite naturally, without realising I was dealing with the effects of dyspraxia. In fact, at that point, I’d never even heard of dyspraxia.

So that’s how I came to eat my food ‘slowly and deliberately’. This technique was also to enable me to develop a way of helping others to enjoy their food more, and to become aware not only of what they are eating but how they are eating it.

I’m fortunate enough to have been brought up by one of the first hypnotherapists in the UK. My dad was a pioneer in his field and I’m incredibly proud of him. Over the years, in spite of the fact that there were times when I wished my dad had had a ‘normal’ job, like other people’s dads, there is no doubt that I have learned a great deal from him and, thanks to my love of working ‘with people’, it was inevitable that I would follow in Dad’s footsteps and become a hypnotherapist in my own right. I’m actually honoured and privileged to be able to continue his work since he passed away in 2006.

In my capacity as a hypnotherapist, I have seen many people who have wanted to eat more healthily, whether it was to lose weight, to kick an addiction to unhealthy food or to overcome a dislike of vegetables and, during the course of those consultations, I discovered something interesting. I had been helping people to adopt the same technique, for eating, that I had adopted out of necessity, due to my Dyspraxia. During these consultations, with my clients, I would often describe the act of eating more slowly, putting down cutlery between mouthfuls to really focus on the food that was actually being eaten, rather than giving attention to the next mouthful. I’m sure, also, that the habit of eating while watching TV will be familiar to most of us but it goes without saying that we can’t be getting the most out of the food while our attention is focused elsewhere.

It was these revelations that inspired me to develop “Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals”, and I couldn’t help wondering how effective it would be if, instead of just describing the process of eating a meal to those who wanted to enjoy eating more healthily, I could do so while the recipients actually had a plateful of delicious, healthy food in front of them; in other words, to use real, healthy food, instead of a hypothetical meal, to demonstrate rather than explain the process.

In Maidstone, Kent, we are incredibly lucky to have a fabulous café which happened to be the first vegan café in the town, serving quality food prepared on the premises. I, personally, was a vegetarian for thirty seven years before becoming vegan in the summer of 2015 so, perhaps not surprisingly, Fortify Café is a favourite haunt of mine. In 2014 I contacted the proprietor, James Hooper, and asked if he would be prepared to accommodate the first Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals event and, being naturally progressive, he agreed. The first Conscious Eating Mindful Meals event was held in Fortify Café, Maidstone in August 2014. It was well-received and some of the attendees made some interesting discoveries along the way and, according to feedback I have received, have actually changed their eating habits, and enjoy their food more, as a result!

The next Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals event will be on 8th September at Fortify Café, Maidstone. More details here

Or if you’d like to experience Conscious Eating; Mindful Meals in your own home, you can now buy the mp3 download here

Posted by: barbaraneill | June 23, 2016

UK EU Referendum and why I would give up my vote

As I write this, the citizens of the UK are going to the polls to decide whether or not the UK will remain in the European Union. I have voted, and I have voted to remain in, because that’s what I believe is the best option for our country. However, I would gladly have sacrificed my right to vote and I’m going to tell you why.

My youngest son is seventeen. He will be eighteen in just a few weeks’ time but, because he is not yet eighteen, he doesn’t have the option to vote in this referendum. In spite of that, he is very aware of current affairs and is a passionate campaigner to remain in the EU. As an active member of the Green Party, he has delivered hundreds of leaflets, produced by the Green Party, setting out the reasons for remaining in  the EU.He worked until he was exhausted, and covered a large area, in order to spread the message that he believes in so passionately.

In both my son’s experience and mine, it seems that the majority of young people around his age would like the UK to remain in the EU while those who are equally passionate about wanting to leave seem to be among the much older generation. This aside, repercussions of today’s referendum will be inflicted on young people of my son’s generation because they are the ones who are going to have to deal with the long-term effects of our decision. To put it bluntly, those of us who are much older will be dead while the younger generation will be picking up the pieces of what we have saddled them with, regardless of whether or not they would have chosen it for themselves.

So the reason I would gladly have sacrificed my right to vote? I believe that the sixteen and seventeen year olds, who will be most affected by the outcome of today’s vote, should have had a say in what the country decides. Those of us who are in the older generation and, therefore, only likely to be affected for a comparatively shorter time, arguably shouldn’t have the right to inflict our views on the younger generation. Wouldn’t it have been more fair to allow those sixteen and seventeen year olds the opportunity to vote on matters that will affect their future rather than leaving it to those who would rather hark back to rose-tinted memories of Great Britain’s ‘glorious’ past?

Posted by: barbaraneill | November 26, 2015

Dyspraxia and Driving

When a person is diagnosed with dyspraxia, or even when they have grown up knowing they have the condition, they could be forgiven for thinking that some activities, such as learning to drive, will be out of the question for them but that needn’t necessarily be the case. In fact, it may be more difficult and take longer for dyspraxics than it does for neuro-typical people. However, early results of a study showed that when dyspraxic people have mastered the skills needed to drive, we tend to be better, safer drivers.

In my own experience, it was relatively easy for me because when I learned to drive, I had no idea I was dyspraxic and, therefore, had no unnecessary limitations placed on me because I was dyspraxic. As a result, I passed my driving test on the third attempt. That was in 1980 and I have never had any endorsements or points placed on my driving licence. I can’t help wondering how much more difficult it might have been had I known I was dyspraxic at the time, or whether I might have just assumed I wouldn’t be able to drive and never actually tried. My life would certainly have been quite different if I had never had a driving licence. Incidentally, my diagnosis states that I am “severely dyspraxic” so that means it’s possible for anyone who is determined, to learn to drive and pass their test. My (dyspraxic) son passed his driving test at the first attempt and has since gone on to take, and pass, his motorcycle test.

Of course, I accept that there are certain difficulties that are shared by dyspraxic learner drivers that would not necessarily be a problem for our neuro-typical, or non-dyspraxic counterparts. For this reason, I decided to do something to help smooth the way for dyspraxic learner drivers to focus, retain important information, learn to co-ordinate effectively, gain confidence and do everything that is required to pass the driving test and join the ranks of good, safe drivers.

As a hypnotherapist and dyspraxic driver, myself, I have developed programmes of hypnotherapy that address the specific situations faced by dyspraxic learner drivers. I have successfully used my hypnotherapy technique both in person and remotely via Skype. It’s a simple process, takes less than an hour and can make the difference between struggling to learn to drive and doing so easily, comfortably and safely. All you need is the desire to learn to drive and my hypnotherapy technique can help with the rest.

More details can be found on my website:




Posted by: barbaraneill | October 9, 2015

Hypnotherapy; busting one of the biggest myths

Barbara Neill 250 x 250

How many sessions are needed to achieve success?

If you are truly ready to make a change in your life, whether it’s to stop smoking, pass a job interview, eat more healthily, kick a drug habit, lose your fear of flying etc. you can do exactly that in less than an hour! There is absolutely no reason why you should need to arrange a series of hypnotherapy sessions to deal with one situation.

I am in the privileged position of having known about hypnotherapy all my life. My father, Bob Neill, was a pioneering hypnotherapist, and had been practising since 1950, albeit it on a part time basis, until the nineteen seventies when hypnotherapy started to become more accepted, (largely thanks to him; certainly in the South East of England). It was from then that he practised hypnotherapy full-time until he passed away in 2006.

Although I had been trained by my father, (as well as informally, by helping him in his practice for many years), I didn’t start my own hypnotherapy practice, formally, until 2010. There were several reasons for this, one of which was that I realised I had a lot to live up to by following in my father’s footsteps. It was, initially, a daunting prospect because he had an excellent reputation. He always aimed for complete success in one session of hypnotherapy, but accepted that sometimes a second session might be needed. Of course, in order to continue my father’s good work, I do exactly the same. Both my father and I have had countless successes in which only one session was needed.

In the past two days, alone, I have heard about successful outcomes for some of my previous clients. One of them came from someone who wants me to help them stop smoking because a friend of theirs successfully stopped smoking several years ago, after a single session of hypnotherapy with me. I was also contacted by an extremely relieved mother of a son who has successfully kicked a drug habit, after one session of hypnotherapy with me. Recently, a young man, who had been offered a job interview, lost his nerve and failed to attend. He was given a second chance and, after one session of hypnotherapy with me, he attended the interview and got the job. These are not isolated situations. It is normal for people to achieve their goals after one session of hypnotherapy, or at least, it should be.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that other hypnotherapists, who expect their clients to have more than one session for the same situation, are deliberately misleading clients. It saddens me to say that I’m quite sure many, if not all, of them genuinely believe that more than one session is necessary, because that is how they have been taught. The problem with that assumption is that it filters through to the general public and, as a result, becomes widely accepted that more than one session will be needed to achieve success. When that acceptance evolves into a belief, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a client believes he or she will need more than one session of hypnotherapy, guess what; he or she will need more than one session! The subconscious is very powerful, as well as being subject to suggestion (which is, of course, what makes hypnotherapy so useful in the first place).

As human beings, each of us has the power to make positive changes in our lives but sometimes we need a little help to access that power. That’s where hypnotherapy comes in. It’s a very useful means of empowering people to make those positive changes, provided they are ready to do so and, frankly, if they are ready, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t achieve complete success in one session of hypnotherapy.

Just as some people can be convinced that a series of sessions will be needed, the client who believes it’s possible to stop smoking, pass a driving test, kick a drug habit, pass a job interview etc., after one session of hypnotherapy is most likely to succeed, after one session.

Even in those situations in which a second session is needed, if the role of the hypnotherapist is to empower the client, shouldn’t it be the client’s decision to have a second session, rather than the hypnotherapist trying to predict whether or not a second session will be needed? Even when I explain to my clients that some people find a second session is necessary, I always liken it to a safety-net; the option is there, should it be needed, but there should be no expectation that it will be needed.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument in favour of offering a client more than one session of hypnotherapy from the outset and, as far as I’m concerned, the only reason a series of sessions would be needed, when dealing with the same issue, is if the client is not yet ready to tackle that issue. My role, as I see it, is not to convince a client that he or she needs to make a specific change, but to empower them to make that change when they are ready to do so.

I would far rather work with one of the many people who genuinely want to make a change, and are prepared to commit to it. That’s when they are ready. Hypnotherapy is a means of helping them to unlock the power needed to make that change and, to genuinely empower them to do so, it should be done as simply as possible; in one session.

Posted by: barbaraneill | September 16, 2015

Dyspraxia; You Don’t Know the Half…

A fellow dyspraxic gives his views on growing up with Dyspraxia.

Like a Bozz

Hi, I’m Anthony Bozzola and I have Dyspraxia. It makes my handwriting look strange along with the way that I hold the pen and causes me to suck at sports and do everyday things that require hand-eye co-ordination in a way that can only be described as “weird”. It also meant that I grew up with a bit of a stutter, had the organisation and fore planning skills of a male Black Widow on mating day and would sweat over numbers more than a fifteen year old boy in a strip joint. I was lucky enough to get diagnosed when I was five years old so that I at least had some basic understanding of why I used to insist on tucking my laces into my shoes rather than attempting to tie them and not that I was ever destined to be one of the popular kids, my undeniably…

View original post 896 more words

Posted by: barbaraneill | August 22, 2015

Dyspraxia and pitching a tent

 In reality it was so much more than just pitching a tent. I was going to a festival with my new bell tent that hadn’t even been out of its packaging, and I had decided that ‘Glamping’ was the way to go. 
The friend who had arranged to come with me is very practical, which meant that pitching the tent would be a straightforward business. Unfortunately, it was the day before we were due to set off that I discovered my friend was unable to accompany me after all. I was faced with the daunting prospect of pitching the tent and filling it with Glamping goodies single-handed. 
When I had finished packing the car, there was barely an inch of space left. I was determined to have a ‘luxury’ camping experience and, thanks to the fact that I had arranged for an electric hook up, I was able to include a heater and a fan to ensure a comfortable temperature in my tent. 
In truth, I was more than a little daunted at the prospect of pitching my tent single-handed, particularly as it is made of “heavyweight canvas”. However, I really didn’t have much choice. Yet again, I had put myself into a situation in which I just had to get on with it, regardless of my dyspraxia and its accompanying difficulties. 
I did it. I pitched the tent, unloaded the car and set up an enviable Glamping experience. It took some time to do it, admittedly, but I was proud of the results. 
It isn’t always easy to do what we want to but, with determination, (a characteristic often associated with dyspraxia), we really can achieve anything we want to. 


Posted by: barbaraneill | May 9, 2015

A broken voting system


I’m sure most people who know me will already be aware that I am a member, and staunch supporter, of the Green Party, and I believe that, in a democratic country, a government should represent the majority of people who live in that country.

The situation we are in, following the general election 2015, is that we have in government a party that fewer than half of the people in the UK actually want. Whichever way you look at it, this system cannot pretend to be fair. I have only heard one argument in favour of the current, ‘first past the post’ voting system and that is that we are currently represented locally, and that would be lost if we were to adopt proportional representation as our voting system. That particular argument doesn’t wash with me on two counts. Firstly, there is no reason why we couldn’t be represented locally under a system of proportional representation and secondly, we do not have genuine local representation under the current ‘first past the post’ system.

As an example, I live only two miles away from Maidstone town centre. We are served by Maidstone Borough Council. We have a Maidstone postcode. We have a Maidstone prefix for our landline telephone number. We even have a Park & Ride bus service into Maidstone town centre that, somewhat ironically, we can easily reach by walking. (In fact, my youngest son always walks into town but he’s younger and fitter than I am!). So, as we regard ourselves, quite reasonably, as residents of Maidstone, it may come as some surprise to learn that we had to vote for parliamentary candidates in Faversham, which is twenty-one miles away! I have been to Faversham a few times in the past, but I have never regarded myself as a resident of Faversham, or even a resident of the Faversham outskirts and, unless I decide to actually move there, that’s not going to change.

I was present at the Maidstone count on Thursday night, (which was located, incidentally, within walking distance of my home), with my friends and colleagues in the Maidstone Green Party. It was a strange situation for me because the other members of the Maidstone Green Party had actually voted for Hannah Patton, the candidate we were there to support. With the bizarre boundaries that we have in place, I had been unable to vote for her but instead had to vote for Tim Valentine, in Faversham. I must make it absolutely clear that I have nothing against Tim who is, as it happens, a thoroughly decent bloke and, had I lived in Faversham, I would have been proud and delighted to be able to vote for him. My gripe is that he cannot be expected to represent the interests of those of us who live in Maidstone. In fact, the boundary of ‘Faversham and Mid-Kent’ even covers parts of Chatham, as well as other areas that must be close to thirty miles away from Faversham! I know that Tim made a stalwart effort to contact people in those areas that are way outside the region that can, under any other circumstances, be described as Faversham. Frankly, he had his work cut out and I’ve no doubt that he, together with the residents of Faversham, would much prefer to have a realistic boundary in place. I couldn’t blame them if they are outraged at the thought of those of us who rarely even visit Faversham having a say in issues that affect them, and them only. A cynic might suggest that bizarre boundaries such as ours have been put in place to manipulate votes, but surely that couldn’t happen in a civilised, democratic society, could it?! Perhaps we should question at what point we cease to be a civilised, democratic society.

Having destroyed the only argument I have heard against proportional representation, (‘representation’ being the operative word), I can also conclude that, should the system be implemented, it would put a stop to tactical voting. As far as I’m concerned, the practice of voting for a political party, other than the one we truly want to see in power, simply to prevent another party from ‘winning’, is an inevitable symptom of a system that is broken beyond repair. If we wish to continue to see ourselves as a democratic society, we must implement a drastic change from the current system, and proportional representation seems, to me, to be the only fair way of doing it.

I am now finding it rather ironic that those in favour of what I regard as the polar opposite of the Green Party; namely UKIP, would also benefit from a system of proportional representation. So, we currently have a system that is so badly broken it can even unite UKIP and the Green Party! Who’d have thought it?! Surely, it MUST be time for change.

If you agree, please sign the petition

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