Category Archives: Blog

Welcome to your Lightning Process Blog NZ!

This is the place where you’ll be able to read interesting articles about neuroplasticity, brain’s connections, how your brain functions and how it interferes with your mental or physical health.
It gives a solid and scientific background, backing up the tools we use in the Lightning Process.

Thanks to pond scum, toward a better understanding of the effects of chronic stress.

Pond scum?

You should listen to this Ted Talk that Elisabeth Blackburn did. She talked about this little fellow called Tetrahymena, more commonly known as pond scum. Why? Because she wanted to understand why those cells never get old or die …

Pond scum and chronic stress

While researching this, she discovered several things over time. Firstly that the very ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres never get old or die in the Tetrahymena (pond scum). Secondly, there was an enzyme that could replenish, make longer telomeres. Finally, she started to work with Elissa Epel. Her expertise is in the effects of severe, chronic psychological stress on our minds and our body’s health. And they discovered “something unheard of: the more chronic stress you are under, the shorter your telomeres, meaning the more likely you were to fall victim to an early disease span and perhaps untimely death”.

Of course, we already knew that with studies and observations. But we didn’t know why!

That is for me, another reason why the Lightning Process is worth being looked at.  Indeed, at the Lightning Process, one of our main teaching, is to give you the tools to stop or at least to drastically slow down the chronic stress which is one of the main cause of chronic illnesses.

Find the transcript below and don’t hesitate to contact me for more information about the Lightning Process.

 “Where does the end begin? Well, for me, it all began with this little fellow. This adorable organism –well, I think it’s adorable — is called Tetrahymena and it’s a single-celled creature. It’s also been known as pond scum. So that’s right, my career started with pond scum.


Now, it was no surprise I became a scientist. Growing up far away from here, as a little girl I was deadly curious about everything alive. I used to pick up lethally poisonous stinging jellyfish and sing to them. And so starting my career, I was deadly curious about fundamental mysteries of the most basic building blocks of life, and I was fortunate to live in a society where that curiosity was valued.


Now, for her, this little pond scum critter Tetrahymena was a great way to study the fundamental mystery I was most curious about: those bundles of DNA in our cells called chromosomes. And it was because I was curious about the very ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres. Now, when I started my quest, all we knew was that they helped protect the ends of chromosomes. It was important when cells divide. It was really important, but I wanted to find out what telomeres consisted of, and for that, I needed a lot of them. And it so happens that cute little Tetrahymena has a lot of short linear chromosomes, around 20,000, so lots of telomeres. And I discovered that telomeres consisted of special segments of noncoding DNA right at the very ends of chromosomes.


But here’s a problem. Now, we all start life as a single cell. It multiples to two. Two becomes four. Four becomes eight, and on and on to form the 200 million billion cells that make up our adult body. And some of those cells have to divide thousands of times. In fact, even as I stand here before you, all throughout my body, cells are furiously replenishing to, well, keep me standing here before you. So every time a cell divides, all of its DNA has to be copied, all of the coding DNA inside of those chromosomes, because that carries the vital operating instructions that keep our cells in good working order, so my heart cells can keep a steady beat, which I assure you they’re not doing right now, and my immune cells can fight off bacteria and viruses, and our brain cells can save the memory of our first kiss and keep on learning throughout life.


But there is a glitch in the way DNA is copied. It is just one of those facts of life. Every time the cell divides and the DNA is copied, some of that DNA from the ends gets worn down and shortened, some of that telomere DNA. You can think about it like the protective caps at the ends of your shoelace. Those keep the shoelace, or the chromosome, from fraying. When that tip gets too short, it falls off, and that worn-down telomere sends a signal to the cells. “The DNA is no longer being protected.” It sends a signal. Time to die. So, end of story.


Well, sorry, not so fast. It can’t be the end of the story, because life hasn’t died off the face of the earth. So, I was curious. If such wear and tear is inevitable, how on earth does Mother Nature make sure we can keep our chromosomes intact?


Now, remember that little pond scum critter Tetrahymena? The craziest thing was, Tetrahymena cells never got old and died. Their telomeres weren’t shortening as time marched on. Sometimes they even got longer. Something else was at work, and believe me, that something was not in any textbook. So working in my lab with my extraordinary student Carol Greider — and Carol and I shared the Nobel Prize for this work — we began running experiments and we discovered cells do have something else. It was a previously undreamed-of enzyme that could replenish, make longer telomeres, and we named it telomerase. And when we removed our pond scum’s telomerase, their telomeres ran down and they died. So it was thanks to their plentiful telomerase that our pond scum critters never got old.


OK, now, that’s an incredibly hopeful message for us humans to be receiving from pond scum,because it turns out that as we humans age, our telomeres do shorten, and remarkably, that shortening is aging us. Generally speaking, the longer your telomeres, the better off you are. It’s the overshortening of telomeres that leads us to feel and see signs of aging. My skin cells start to die and I start to see fine lines, wrinkles. Hair pigment cells die. You start to see gray. Immune system cells die. You increase your risks of getting sick. In fact, the cumulative research from the last 20 years has made clear that telomere attrition is contributing to our risks of getting cardiovascular diseases,Alzheimer’s, some cancers and diabetes, the very conditions many of us die of.


And so we have to think about this. What is going on? This attrition, we look and we feel older, yeah.Our telomeres are losing the war of attrition faster. And those of us who feel youthful longer, it turns out our telomeres are staying longer for longer periods of time, extending our feelings of youthfulnessand reducing the risks of all we most dread as the birthdays go by.


OK, seems like a no-brainer. Now, if my telomeres are connected to how quickly I’m going to feel and get old, if my telomeres can be renewed by my telomerase, then all I have to do to reverse the signs and symptoms of aging is figure out where to buy that Costco-sized bottle of grade A organic fair trade telomerase, right? Great! Problem solved.




Not so fast, I’m sorry. Alas, that’s not the case. OK. And why? It’s because human genetics has taught us that when it comes to our telomerase, we humans live on a knife edge. OK, simply put, yes, nudging up telomerase does decrease the risks of some diseases, but it also increases the risks of certain and rather nasty cancers. So even if you could buy that Costco-sized bottle of telomerase,and there are many websites marketing such dubious products, the problem is you could nudge up your risks of cancers. And we don’t want that.


Now, don’t worry, and because, while I think it’s kind of funny that right now, you know, many of us may be thinking, well, I’d rather be like pond scum.




There is something for us humans in the story of telomeres and their maintenance. But I want to get one thing clear. It isn’t about enormously extending human lifespan or immortality. It’s about health span. Now, health span is the number of years of your life when you’re free of disease, you’re healthy, you’re productive, you’re zestfully enjoying life. Disease span, the opposite of health span, is the time of your life spent feeling old and sick and dying. So the real question becomes, OK, if I can’t guzzle telomerase, do I have control over my telomeres’ length and hence my well-being, my health, without those downsides of cancer risks? OK?


So, it’s the year 2000. Now, I’ve been minutely scrutinizing little teeny tiny telomeres very happily for many years, when into my lab walks a psychologist named Elissa Epel. Now, Elissa’s expertise is in the effects of severe, chronic psychological stress on our mind’s and our body’s health. And there she was standing in my lab, which ironically overlooked the entrance to a mortuary, and —




And she had a life-and-death question for me. “What happens to telomeres in people who are chronically stressed?” she asked me. You see, she’d been studying caregivers, and specifically mothers of children with a chronic condition, be it gut disorder, be it autism, you name it — a group obviously under enormous and prolonged psychological stress. I have to say, her question changed me profoundly. See, all this time I had been thinking of telomeres as those miniscule molecular structures that they are, and the genes that control telomeres. And when Elissa asked me about studying caregivers, I suddenly saw telomeres in a whole new light. I saw beyond the genes and the chromosomes into the lives of the real people we were studying. And I’m a mom myself, and at that moment, I was struck by the image of these women dealing with a child with a condition very difficult to deal with, often without help. And such women, simply, often look worn down. So was it possible their telomeres were worn down as well?


So our collective curiosity went into overdrive. Elissa selected for our first study a group of such caregiving mothers, and we wanted to ask: What’s the length of their telomeres compared with the number of years that they have been caregiving for their child with a chronic condition? So four years go by and the day comes when all the results are in, and Elissa looked down at our first scatterplotand literally gasped, because there was a pattern to the data, and it was the exact gradient that we most feared might exist. It was right there on the page. The longer, the more years that is, the mother had been in this caregiving situation, no matter her age, the shorter were her telomeres. And the more she perceived her situation as being more stressful, the lower was her telomerase and the shorter were her telomeres.


So we had discovered something unheard of: the more chronic stress you are under, the shorter your telomeres, meaning the more likely you were to fall victim to an early disease span and perhaps untimely death. Our findings meant that people’s life events and the way we respond to these eventscan change how you maintain your telomeres. So telomere length wasn’t just a matter of age counted in years. Elissa’s question to me, back when she first came to my lab, indeed had been a life-and-death question.


Now, luckily, hidden in that data there was hope. We noticed that some mothers, despite having been carefully caring for their children for many years, had been able to maintain their telomeres. So studying these women closely revealed that they were resilient to stress. Somehow they were able to experience their circumstances not as a threat day in and day out but as a challenge, and this has led to a very important insight for all of us: we have control over the way we age all the way down into our cells.


OK, now our initial curiosity became infectious. Thousands of scientists from different fields added their expertise to telomere research, and the findings have poured in. It’s up to over 10,000 scientific papers and counting. So several studies rapidly confirmed our initial finding that yes, chronic stress is bad for telomeres. And now many are revealing that we have more control over this particular aging process than any of us could ever have imagined. A few examples: a study from the University of California, Los Angeles of people who are caring for a relative with dementia, long-term, and looked at their caregiver’s telomere maintenance capacity and found that it was improved by them practicing a form of meditation for as little as 12 minutes a day for two months. Attitude matters. If you’re habitually a negative thinker, you typically see a stressful situation with a threat stress response,meaning if your boss wants to see you, you automatically think, “I’m about to be fired,” and your blood vessels constrict, and your level of the stress hormone cortisol creeps up, and then it stays up,and over time, that persistently high level of the cortisol actually damps down your telomerase. Not good for your telomeres.


On the other hand, if you typically see something stressful as a challenge to be tackled, then blood flows to your heart and to your brain, and you experience a brief but energizing spike of cortisol. And thanks to that habitual “bring it on” attitude, your telomeres do just fine. So … What is all of this telling us? Your telomeres do just fine. You really do have power to change what is happening to your own telomeres.


But our curiosity just got more and more intense, because we started to wonder, what about factors outside our own skin? Could they impact our telomere maintenance as well? You know, we humans are intensely social beings. Was it even possible that our telomeres were social as well? And the results have been startling. As early as childhood, emotional neglect, exposure to violence, bullying and racism all impact your telomeres, and the effects are long-term. Can you imagine the impact on children of living years in a war zone? People who can’t trust their neighbors and who don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods consistently have shorter telomeres. So your home address matters for telomeres as well. On the flip side, tight-knit communities, being in a marriage long-term, and lifelong friendships, even, all improve telomere maintenance.


So what is all this telling us? It’s telling us that I have the power to impact my own telomeres, and I also have the power to impact yours. Telomere science has told us just how interconnected we all are.


But I’m still curious. I do wonder what legacy all of us will leave for the next generation? Will we investin the next young woman or man peering through a microscope at the next little critter, the next bit of pond scum, curious about a question we don’t even know today is a question? It could be a great question that could impact all the world. And maybe, maybe you’re curious about you. Now that you know how to protect your telomeres, are you curious what are you going to do with all those decades of brimming good health? And now that you know you could impact the telomeres of others, are you curious how will you make a difference? And now that you know the power of curiosity to change the world, how will you make sure that the world invests in curiosity for the sake of the generations that will come after us?

Do exercises aimed at increasing neuroplasticity work?

Neuroplasticity and brain exercises?

In this article from the Huffington Post, Nicole Gravagna debates the concepts of neuroplasticity, mind-body connection and brain exercises. It echoes nicely with what we do at the Lightning Process to help people regain control of their brain and their health.

“…The placebo effect is a neuroplastic response to a problem. The fact that the results of brain training looks like the placebo effect makes a ton of sense. The brain is solving the problem through neuroplasticity instead of relying on drugs or therapies. It’s actually a positive result when the placebo effect matches the brain training effect.

The placebo effect is often so powerful in improving a patient’s problems that it overshadows the effect of a real therapy. It’s not that the placebo effect isn’t a real solution, it’s that it’s such a good solution that it is often just as good as taking a medication…”


The Lightning Process… is in a way a brain exercise.

Lightning Process Brain Exercises With the LP, you can target specifically the area of your life that you want to improve. It might be : emotions, physical health, blood pressure, mental chaos. You then use the neuroplasticity of your brain to re-shape and re-wire your neurological pathways.

Neuroplasticity is the capacity of your brain to keep growing, changing, gaining or losing more skills. You can influence as well good of bad habits and redirect your mind on different neuronal paths.

Consequently, the results of your brain training are that you get exactly the kind of brain structure and behavior that you have decided.

Arguably, medication might get this to you in a very invasive and general way. However, most of the time we don’t have the success we would like. But you will get it yourself by applying this fabulous skill of your brain to your very own and special needs.

Don’t hesitate to contact me to know more on how you can use the neuroplasticity of your brain to get rid of your problems or improve your life!


Hooray! Phil Parker, originator of the Lightning Process, is coming to NZ!!!

We are really excited that Phil Parker will be visiting New Zealand in September 2017 to talk about the Lightning Process. His free afternoon talks will include:

  • Explaining how the Lightning Process works
  • Theories behind the Lightning Process
  • Teaching some Basic Tools
  • Opportunity to ask questions about the Lightning Process

The dates for these free talks are:

  • Auckland – Friday 8/9/17
  • Wellington – Tuesday 12/9/17
  • Christchurch – Thursday 14/9/17
  • Timaru – Friday 15/9/17
  • Dunedin – Mon 18/9/17

A second date may be added in Auckland on the 19th September, depending on demand. The venues are yet to be confirmed.

Please register your interest by emailing: Fiona will be away from her desk until 16th August. However, she will respond as soon as possible after that to confirm your place and details.

Why do some of us develop back pain and others don’t?

Why some of us develop back pain and why others don’t?

Silje Endresen Reme’s talks about the common phenomenon of back pain; why some people develop chronic pain and disability while others don’t, and what psychology has to do with it. Silje is a PhD. from Uni Health, Uni Research, Bergen & Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

During her studies, she considered all the people having back pain but having no organic findings that could explain the amount of pain seen in this group. She realised that there is little corroletion of what we see on the scan of the back and the pain intensity experienced by the patient. Neither can the biomechanical and anatomical findings.

Back painIn 10-15 % of the case, there is a specific cause but for the vast majority of them, there is no physical cause that can explain this amount of disability or pain.

So what is going on? Is it all in the mind? And do we deal with it?

Silje decided to get a better look at these people, 600 workers, who are they and what are the factors in the transition from acute to chronic back pain.

Her findings (working with a smaller group) show that back pain is actually one part of the problem. She observed that the occurrence of additional complaints (other problems in their life) was very high. 99% of them mentioned other health problems with an average of 10 complaints in average (from work problem to emotional: job stress, conflict at work, social anxiety, chronic fatigue, depression, low work coping, sleeping problems, loneliness, activities limitations, migraines and… mother in law).

She then decided to explore a little bit more what was going on and which factors are most able to explain why people develop back pain and go on sick leave while others don’t. The group was 500 people suffering from chronic pain.

Surprisingly, the strongest predictors were not what we could have expected. They are anatomical or biomechanical but psychosocial factors! It’s all about how you are doing emotionally or socially at work or at home.

She gives an example of a construction worker, struggling with back pain who told her that, although he had a heavy job, the insecurity in the job market, the instability, resulted in a constant fear of losing his job. That was the anxiety that kept him up all night.

Consequently, at the end of the research, she could predict with a very high accuracy, just few days after the pain had started, who will develop chronic pain and who won’t! And more than that, she was able to say what characterised them, if it’s because of the job, the activities limitations or the emotional distress that was making the pain worse.

In that way, they can tail a treatment even before they develop the vicious circle they will be trapped in.

Finally the studies mentioned here are coming to light and there is more openness than there was. The interest in the brain and the mind in chronic pain has meant that more studies are published every week. We keep learning so much.

The Lightning Process is the result of those findings. It is a tool powerful and simple, using the neuroplasticity and encompassing all the predictors in your life.

Working the field of neuroplasticity and chronic pain induced by stress (an article will be soon posted on this same blog about the stress/Flight or fight response and the endocrine system), we have regularly observed those predictors and their harmful influence. We know how to reduce significantly their affect.

If you have chronic pain, then don’t hesitate to contact us. I’ll explain what we do and how this tool work, no stings attached!

The mind body connection – Placebo and Nocebo


There are so many aspects we could develop about the mind body connection. For example, how you can control your thoughts, or how you react to your environment and how you can influence the neurophysiology (Physical Emergency Response).

One of them is the placebo and nocebo effect. The term “placebo” is familiar to doctors and lay people and is often used as a synonym for ineffectiveness, as in the phrase “only a placebo effect”. Continue reading The mind body connection – Placebo and Nocebo

The backfire effect – Let’s talk about beliefs!

A belief is a constructed and very personal thought of which we are firmly convinced that it is valid, true, real, authentic and genuine. It serves as a guide in our daily decisions and actions, our vision of the world, our judgments about others or ourselves. Sometimes, or even often, our resistances, blockages, and daily difficulties stems from some of these beliefs, which we can then qualify as limiting.

When you help people to improve their health, at some point, you have to work on values, perspectives and beliefs.

You may think that when beliefs are challenged by facts, one revises their point of view and adjust this information into their mindset and thinking.

But actually, often, we see that people’s beliefs are reinforced when your deepest convictions are confronted by contradictory evidence. Continue reading The backfire effect – Let’s talk about beliefs!

Neuroplasticity and Healing


Neuroplasticity and Healing – A clinical conversation with Norman Doidge, MD, and Robert Rountree, MD.

In this article, Dr Norman Doidge explains that neuroplasticity reaches beyond synaptic connections or dentritic growth. It occurs at a DNA, molecular and protein level as well.

It shows us as well how neuroplasticity is giving our brain a competitive advantage to a particular way of doing things (i.e. behaviour, thoughts or emotions).

At the end of this article, you’ll also read about Michael Moskowitz, MD, a chronic pain specialist. Dr Moskowitz got badly injured and broke his femur in several places. Norman Doidge explains how Dr Moskowitz got control of the pain by stimulating his neuroplasticity and using visualisations.

Neuroplasticity, visualisations, hormones are few of the tools the Lightning Process uses to help you get better. There is much more to it and if you want to understand and know more, please, don’t hesitate to contact me and read about the Lightning Process.