Winning Free E-Course starting Feb 27: Fourteen Essential Pieces of Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

I am excited to announce the winning e-course that emerged from the choose your course poll.

And the winner is *drumroll* 14 Essential Pieces for Recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

My enthusiasm increases every time I think about all the great ideas

Learn what you need to know to reach your full healing potential.

and techniques I’ll be teaching you. To see what’s in store for everyone who attends this free e-course:

Click here to read what the course can do for you and reserve one of the free seats.

To celebrate this new venture, I’ve decided to add some exciting bonuses:

  1. Three Group Q&A Calls where I’ll answer all your questions and coach you through your difficulties.
  2. Working periods where we’ll meet in an online meeting room and work together on the action items from each lesson.
  3. A free 45-minute one-on-one consultation where I help you discover the most important next steps in reaching your full happiness and health potential (limited to thirty consultations, first come first served)

Why did I add these bonuses? First, I see teaching this course as a great opportunity to establish myself in service of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) community.

Second, these bonuses give us the opportunity to interact more, which will help me build the best course possible.

Third, I’m committed to you getting great value from this course. I hope that you’ll be so excited about it that you’ll shout about it from the rooftops of your city.

Read about the course and reserve your free seat.

Hope to see you in the free e-course :),


The CFS Recovery Project Manifesto


What is the CFS Recovery Project all about?

If you came to this page to quickly download the manifesto, click here.

What is a manifesto? According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, it’s “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer”

That’s exactly what this manifesto is: the CFS Recovery Project is outing itself, claiming what it’s all about.

Here are two reasons why this is exciting for you:


  1. The purpose of the CFS Recovery Project Manifesto is to help you discover how the CFS Recovery Project can make your life better. Since CFS Recovery Project is all about helping you regain your health and happiness, the manifesto is about that, too. Depending on what recovery approaches you’ve already tried, the manifesto outlines what parts of the CFS Recovery Project you might want to look into, so that you can reach the next level of recovery.
  2. You can leave your mark! The CFS Recovery Project is a baby. Since it’s in it’s infancy, you can dramatically influence the direction in which the CFS Recovery Project will be developed. Leave your mark by reading the manifesto and sharing your thoughts about it by sending an email to or by posting a comment on this blog.

Claim your copy of the manifesto now by clicking this link.

I hope the manifesto will serve you well, and I look forward to hearing what you think!

Signature Johannes Starke
Johannes Starke, founder of the CFS Recovery Project


How I Regained My Happiness and Health After Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I have a confession to make: For a long time after getting ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I believed that regaining my happiness and health was impossible.

This suddenly changed, almost to the day three years ago. To inspire you to make 2013 the year in which you regain your happiness, and much of your health, I want to share with you what this pivotal moment was like.

As a 21-year-old, disabled man on January 1st in 2009, I was still desperately sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME). There were many things I couldn’t do because of CFS. For example, I couldn’t exercise because exercising exacerbated my fatigue and exhaustion and I was unable to work because working worsened my physical symptoms.

To make matters worse, my mind was as devastated as my body. All I could think about was I was sick. My mind was occupied with thoughts about my digestion, my body, and even my thoughts not working. In short, I felt ill inside and out.

At the beginning of 2009, I tried a video-based DVD program called the Advanced Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Recovery Program by Ashok Gupta. At the time I was very skeptical of mind/body approaches for improving Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—after all it is a physical condition.

My skepticism got dented, however, by a first-hand experience report about the CFS and Fibromyalgia Recovery Program written by Cort Johnson, a trusted reporter in the CFS community.  Still, I believed so little in mind/body approaches that the only reason I bought the program was a 100% money-back guarantee. It stated that I would get my money back if I tried the program for six months and wasn’t satisfied with my results. What did I have to lose! [Read more…]

How to Transform Loneliness or Sadness into Peace and Joy

woman with fibromyalgia transforming difficult emotions

Make this Christmas a happy one.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Just the the thought of how my family and I gather around our real-candle-lit Christmas tree with songs, love, and stories makes me happy.

Although I love Christmas, my first Christmas after coming down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was tough. The feast of love triggered in me difficult emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, and feelings of loss.

Why do difficult emotions come up on Christmas?

Participating in the Christmas celebrations requires a lot of energy. It’s not uncommon for sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia to have our internal energy run out even before the first course of the Christmas meal ends. As a result, we might notice a light headache set in, and our general level of fatigue worsens.

In order to cope, we really should rest for a few minutes—but it’s painful to retreat from the life and laughter of our loved family. The first minutes in our room on our own can be overwhelmingly lonely. We miss our family and, to make matters worse, we now fully feel the symptoms we were able to drown out with excitement and laughter when we were still with our family.

Also, if you’re like me, you have a very clear idea of what your favorite Christmases have been like in the past, and what this year’s celebration should look, feel, and—Yum!—taste like.

However, because of your symptoms (such as fatigue or pain), reality doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. In my case, the joy of Christmas was marred by my usual tired and wired feeling and brain fog (in fibromyalgia, this is often referred to as fibro fog). Our traditional Christmas meal, “Heringsalad”, still tasted as good as it used to—but  my stomach no longer tolerated it.

In short, we remember how awesome Christmas used to be and we miss the good ol’ times. As a result, a feeling of loss is triggered, which can add to the loneliness or sadness.

Release difficult emotions and experience peace

Knowing how difficult Christmas emotions can be, I want to share with you a guided meditation which I’ve created to support you in releasing negative emotions and transforming them into a feeling of peace and well-being. I hope it will allow you, after only 20 minutes of deep rest, to rejoin the Christmas celebration with renewed energy and joy.

Free Guided Meditation

Access the guided meditation here. If you can, shove it on your iPod, so that you have easy access to it when you need it most.

Tip #1: Don’t wait until Christmas to begin releasing and transforming negative emotions. Just as a sailor needs to learn sailing before he faces a storm, you want to be practice with the guided meditation in calm waters, before facing a storm of difficult emotions.

Tip #2: If you liked this article, you can ensure that you won’t miss any future goodness by signing up for my free newsletter here or in the orange box below.

Merry Christmas!!!

Surviving Christmas Craziness When You Have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia

Have you ever felt guilt and disappointment rear their ugly heads during the holiday rush?

Woman with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome worrying about Christmas

Christmas craziness can exacerbate symptoms in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

We want to make it really nice for our loved ones. We want to use Christmas as an opportunity to thank our caregivers and network of support. We want to show how much they mean to us by giving them a delicious Christmas dinner, a home-made present, or a thoughtful card.

And yet, we often can’t.

I remember that when I had severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome  it was already hard enough to get through a normal day. Often, during the holiday season, I just didn’t have the energy to make my presents beautiful, thoughtful, or special enough so that they could live up to my high expectations.

And I felt lots of ugly emotions about it. I remember feeling resentment, disappoint in myself, and sadness. It was difficult to deal with.

Luckily, on my recovery journey, I’ve come across a simple practice to deal with this.

If you ever get down on yourself during the Christmas season, I believe that the simple technique below, adapted from world-renowned healer Byron Katie (or ‘Katie’ as everyone calls her), can make a big difference for you. It can show you a way to work through some of the difficult thoughts and emotions that can get triggered during the pre-holiday season. [Read more…]

Why Is Pacing So Hard? And One Simple Technique to Make It Easy

Picture of woman who doesn't like pacing to manage her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Taking breaks when you don’t want to is hard.

“I hate pacing!”

It didn’t take long after we had begun the discussion part of the San Francisco Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Self Help group meeting until a woman started railing passionately against pacing:

“I know I should use pacing, but if I just lived my life in the confinements and limits of my illness, my life would no longer be worth living anyways. Sure, it hurts me not to take breaks, but I believe that this life force in me, that just wants me to be active, is a good thing, and I shouldn’t repress it by pacing myself too much.”

All of us in the room could sympathize. Pacing is hard!  It is frustrating when—despite our fatigue—we got ourselves into cooking a healthy meal, cleaning our house, or making a shopping list and we have to stop again after only a few moments of flow, because otherwise we’d over-exhaust ourselves and exacerbate our symptoms.

Personally, although I consider myself functionally fully recovered, the one part of my life that I still notice myself complain about is that I have to pace myself by taking intermittent breaks throughout my day (or the Thanksgiving dinner).

Do the following thoughts, which go through my head when I coax myself into a twenty-minute rest, sound familiar?

“When I rest I have to face all of the unpleasant sensations in my body, I’d rather drown them out by eating some more turkey.“

“It’s so much fun with my family. I won’t be able to stand the loneliness in my room when I leave the thanksgiving dinner table.”

Or on days that are not holidays:

“When I rest it’s going to be terrible, I’ll lose all the great ideas that I just had and wanted to act on.”

“I can’t rest because I’m so into what I’m currently doing that if I stop now, it will take me forever to get back into the flow of doing it. “

The above thoughts hint at why pacing is so hard. So how do you make it easy?

Although I haven’t completely “solved” the problem of pacing, over the last five years I have discovered several ways to make it a lot easier. I have to admit that, even when I use these techniques, I don’t always enjoy the process of stopping. However my techniques are good and enjoyable enough, so that at least, I no longer avoid pacing. This is a BIG DEAL: I mentioned in my previous article how important pacing is for healing in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I believe it is important to make pacing fun enough, so that we no longer avoid it, but make a rock-solid commitment to actually doing  it.

Here is a simple, three-step process that helped me in overcoming my aversion to pacing: [Read more…]

Could This Tool Double Your Energy When You’re On The Computer?

Inspirational image from Stillness Buddy

A refreshing image from Stillness Buddy

For someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia,  a computer can be an exciting and informative window to the outside world that allows you to transcend your physical limitations.

From your home, even lying on your bed, you can connect with friends and family via Skype or Facebook and find out everything you need to know about recovering from CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia. Speaking for myself, a morning on Skype with my family in Germany is often more fulfilling than hanging out in person with a bunch of friends at a bar here in Davis.

At the same time, computers can suck the life out of us. We have only so much energy in one day and that energy might be drained after 10, 30, or 90 minutes in front of a screen.

One problem is that even when we realize that we’re tired it’s hard to take a break because we are so captivated by the wonders of the world that we can access through our laptop.  Yet we need to take a timeout, or else we might burn ourselves out for the rest of the day or even the week.

Stillness buddy can help you benefit from your computer without getting trapped by it. [Read more…]

How To Escape the Agony of Agitated Exhaustion

Lying on my bed with my mind running a million miles per hour, my agitations made it impossible to find the rest my body needed so badly. The agitated exhaustion I suffered from since I had first come down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was unbearable.

If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, then you’re likely to have experienced agitated exhaustion firsthand.

Woman Suffering from Agitated Exhaustion

Woman Suffering from Agitated Exhaustion

Erica Verrillo and Lauren Gellman explain the term in their book Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide. “[Agitated exhaustion] is often described as a ‘tired and wired’ feeling. A person with this type of fatigue does not feel sleepy, although the desire for rest is overwhelming.”

Agitated exhaustion filled my life with terror. My mind was occupied by thoughts such as, “Damn it. This is hell on earth. I need to get out of this.” I was worried that my girlfriend would leave me. My worst concern was that no matter what I did I would never be able to enjoy life again and that I would eventually end up committing suicide, filling my family’s hearts with deep sorrow.

Before I had I suffered from agitated exhaustion, I would have just lay down and deeply rested when I was tired, but now I was haunted by a million thoughts that made me feel worse. Trying to distract myself by reading didn’t work either: prior to coming down with ME/CFS reading would have calmed me and infused me with a sense of peaceful magic, but now the thought of picking up a book alone was enough to worsen my mental exhaustion.

Do You Sometimes Feel As If There Is No Way Out?

Perhaps you feel as I did. You just don’t know how to get out of the vicious cycle of agitated exhaustion. Just like I was, you may be longing for rest and healing – but it seems as if there is no way out.

I did not feel like there was much hope, but even in my despair I kept up the search. It was on the Phoenix Rising site that I read about the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Programme which promised to give me the tools and inspiration to accelerate my recovery from ME/CFS employing my mind and emotions. I couldn’t possibly imagine that it would work, but since Phoenix Rising’s Cort Johnson shared his positive experiences of the program on his blog, I decided to give it a try. [Read more…]

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