Leah Larwood is a clinical hypnotherapist who launched her own clinic at the start of this year. Here she talks of how we seem to have become much more attuned to our wellbeing in 2020
Life has been a happy blur of dancing, dreaming and writing my way through different neighbourhoods in different worlds: I was born and schooled in Norfolk, went to university in Leeds, lived on two different Caribbean islands in my 20s, and then for almost a decade I worked in London, which is where I also studied my Master’s degree, and when I started to write fiction and poetry. I then moved back home to Norfolk in 2013.
Although I enjoyed my first career in communications and copywriting, in my 20s I realised something was missing. In 2011, I started pursuing a different path, one that would incorporate all my interests and passions. Both my parents have had careers working in mental health, and I’ve always been fascinated by how the mind works, dreams, human behaviour, the hidden and unseen, the universe beyond our world, what happens next. It took me a little while to work out what I wanted to do with my ‘one wild and precious life’ but I feel very happy to have found something rewarding that brings me joy.
I launched The Moon Lab in January, which is when I started to offer hypnotherapy from a clinic in Norwich, as well as workshops teaching folks how to lucid dream to support their wellbeing and creativity. Then lockdown happened and I started to take my work online. I’m now looking to also work from another clinic in Hethersett.
Lockdown was very surreal at first. From a work perspective, I’d just started The Moon Lab and was still doing some communications freelance work. Then suddenly many of my freelance and writing contacts stopped, and the future felt uncertain.
However, once we took stock, and realised we could find temporary ways around the situation, acceptance followed. It also gave me the opportunity to focus solely on The Moon Lab, which has been a good thing.
Luckily lockdown also brought with it a special opportunity for our family to be together and take pleasure in the simple things. After some busy years, I slowed down for the first time in a while, which allowed me to reflect on what was important.
This year, and during lockdown, I deepened my hypnotherapy training by studying some advanced hypnotherapy approaches such as regression, including past life regression, and parts therapy (ego-state therapy). The goal of parts-therapy is to help people understand and work with the different parts of the self which can sometimes cause confusion or conflict. It’s a great tool to help those who have conflicting ideas or self-beliefs that are blocking them in some way. More recently, I took part in a really inspiring course by my teacher, Charlie Morley, ‘mindfulness of dream sleep for trauma or stress affected sleep patterns’, which he is now running again online. Lockdown also meant the start of two other areas of my training sooner than originally planned: mindfulness teacher training and writing for wellbeing studies. So lockdown was indeed all about study – study for me, and home-schooling my daughter.
Lucid dreaming is when you’re aware you’re dreaming and you can influence your dream. There have been a plethora of studies that prove how lucid dreaming can help to improve depression and anxiety symptoms and also reduce nightmare frequency. It’s a really empowering tool that you can use to support creative projects; great for writers and artists as a way to develop ideas and deepen their creativity, and it can help with so many things. Anything you can use hypnotherapy for, lucid dreaming can help too, from phobias to improving your relationships and overcoming obstacles at work or at home.
This year people do seem more attuned to their own wellbeing, from mindfulness, online yoga classes and things like journaling. Now feels like a good time to feel empowered with a toolkit of approaches that we can use to support and maintain our wellbeing. I often think challenging times can also bring about so many positives too – there’s often opportunity for change, reflection, stillness and re-evaluation of our lives.
During lockdown I finally finished my first poetry collection, which I’ve been working on for the past six years or so. It’s about sleep, dreams and the unconscious mind, so it very much connects with my areas of interest. It’s been such a rewarding and cathartic process to work on this body of work and I’m keen to share what I’ve learnt about the process with others.
Soon I’ll be re-starting my longer term studies in psychotherapy and psychology. I’ll also be running writing for wellbeing workshops in the coming weeks, with a focus on poetry therapy and biblio-poetry therapy – where participants will be able to work with poetry to tune into how they feel and as a springboard for exploring their lives, hopes, goals, and as a way to inspire and heal.
Specifically, I’m starting a series of winter wellbeing writing workshops offering a safe and creative space to harness the season’s wild and still nature, in all its seeming harshness. Its goal is for people to learn about themselves, through poetry and other writing exercises, it’s about finding the twinkles in the coal pile. Something we all need to hone in on during these times.
Leah offers 1:1 hypnotherapy to help people with anxiety, stress, self-esteem and confidence via Zoom. She also hosts regular workshops teaching people how to have lucid dreams and work with their dreams and sleep as a way to boost their wellbeing and creativity. More www.themoonlab.net