Today I took my sobbing heart to dig some earth
With each forward motion I felt my pain release into her rich and warm body
I played and felt and digged and squashed the black softness of her flesh in my hands
I caught myself smiling as I lifted some carrots off the earth bed and like orange lanterns they shone bright straight into my heart
The smell of nourishment entered my senses
I bowed all the way touching her in gratitude to the release of pain
As I was leaving my heart weighed less with sorrow and more with content
Today I took my sobbing heart to dig some earth
As a psychotherapist and a transpersonal approach practitioner the aim of my work with clients is to facilitate making ‘whole’ and help clients get back to themselves, get back ‘home’.
This time of year brings me closer to my roots, to my ancestors of birth and land. I begin communicating with and seeing them more clearly. My food changes according to how they had eaten and I occupy myself with activities, music, books that had been familiar to them. Most of those traditions are closely woven with nature cycles, seasons. My home and people carry nature in their blood. It is as natural to us as mother’s milk. All traditions and customs that we undertake every season is never questioned by anyone. They are observed in a way that flows very naturally between generations, genders and ages. There is this common knowing, understanding and love of nature. We are in a very close relationship with all things nature. Spirit, emotions, intellect and physical sensations can all be linked to our expression through a relationship with nature. There are references to it in literature, poetry, music and language is filled with a variety of descriptions of moods, changes and emotion-evocative experiences. Nature is a living breathing being for my ancestors and myself.
What happened to me five years ago was a shift, a push towards ‘home’, back to myself. I needed to get back to my roots from which I also needed to cut off for some time in order to survive and fit in. I had to start a process of remembering, re-integration, re-igniting of my knowledge, resonance and love of what roots and home meant for me. This journey also connected me to the land that I currently live on and through finding striking similarities in the landscape and the emotions that it evoked in me, that remembering of ‘home’ journey became very rich and fulfilling. The process happened with nature spirit flowing through me at all times. I connected to my roots through learning and remembering about trees, weather patterns, the elements, magic, plants, my love for certain things in nature and remembering and connecting who I was then and who I am now in terms of what spirit lives within me.
I am writing this after watching a wonderful presentation on ‘Identity and spirituality’ as part of my CPD and it reminded me of my own process of connecting with my roots and establishing a solid knowing and understanding who I am now through who I was then and the process of becoming and evolving. It is the process of finding what is at the centre of my being.
In my practice I feel passionate about working with both issues, identity and spirituality, and both are closely linked in making ‘whole’.
It opens up discussion about your beliefs on whether we are spiritual beings having an experience on Earth or are we human beings with a spiritual nature. It might mean the same to some, to others there are clear differences. It would depend on your own personal experiences regarding spirit and beliefs about life on earth and afterlife. To me, spirit is an integral part of who we are along with our other aspects or functions, cognitive, emotional, physical and all operate together and ideally harmoniously. However, where there is a lack of presence or distorting in operation in one or more of these functions then a ‘whole’ is disturbed. For example, a person struggles to express their emotions or their thoughts are distorted or they manifest their difficulties rooted in the mind or heart through the body or their spirit is asleep or remains unreachable or unknown. In my work as a transpersonal therapist I aim to bring a person into balance, and to get all functions/aspects operating together and in harmony.
As summer energy begins to spread through the land in its blooming attire we have an opportunity to come out, lay bare, expose.
Summer is a time for outer expression, exploring potential and examining inner and outer in its full spectrum. As nature steps into its blooming coat, so do we seek opening up and exploring. This is a ‘Full Moon time’ in its energetic signature, if you like, where things have built up within and without and it is time to show ourselves to the world and to ourselves, warts and all.
My trip to the island of Skomer on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales made me see parallels between how nature comes into its full potential and how it is an opportunity for us to expose all that had been hidden, open up to a more authentic way of being. The insight came through my own experience of fully exposing parts of myself that might not seem favourable, ugly even, yet while in nature I felt it almost necessary to go with whatever was manifesting within and it felt safe. This experience was new and I suspect there will now be more chances for me to ‘show myself’ fully. I have been in ‘hiding’ during summer months for as long as I remember, yet, perhaps, the time has come to make changes in ways of expression and authenticity.
With exposure comes acceptance and an integration follows, which is an important part to bringing us back to whole, back to ourselves. Was I scared I won’t be accepted or be judged? In the moment I didn’t think, I simply was in a state I was in. I did and didn’t enjoy it, as one would expect, but with exposure and real experience comes such clarity and awareness, which is so useful. On reflection when an opportunity comes for an exposure so does fear for not being accepted for who we are. As a society certain traits and behaviours might be looked down on, but there is also a chance that people that you surround yourself with will sit through that ‘exposure’ with you and become curious about sides of you they might not have seen before. If they manage to hold the experience and still feel the same those are the people that are meant to be around you, furthermore it gives others an opportunity to do the same, i.e. becoming more ‘exposing’ of themselves, accepting of others and freer as a result. We are all dark and light, beautiful and less so, hard and soft and the ability to be present with it all makes us stronger in knowing ourselves and connecting even deeper with others. We often fear alienating others and seek to conform, hide and comply, but we all know what that feels like. Sooner or later all of our inner pieces that are yearning to be exposed will spill into an ugly mess.
I felt inspired watching nature in its most open state, in its full blooming capacity. Nature doesn’t think or waits to be exposed it just does it regardless every year. Summer is the culmination of that energy manifesting everywhere. With exposure comes danger, as beauty can be just as threatening as ugliness. On some level we are threatened not just by others’ beauty, but by our own. We often do not see or realise our own beauty and potential, so we remain hidden and silent. ‘Be brave’, summer would say, bloom anyway even when someone might step on our blooming heart or cut us down mindlessly without a second thought. The song we sing might be our last, as we take flight into the summer air, but sing anyway, the more beautiful the better. Exposure of the body, mind and spirit is so necessary and summer is a powerful time to explore ourselves in our most vulnerable, naked state. There is a potential to be fully empowered.
I learnt the only way to be authentic is just that – expose. Summer allows that space and a perfect opportunity to seek acceptance from within. If we can stand our own shadow energies, watch it unfold, manage to contain it post-exposure and still be ok, we become more whole. This process is of freeing ourselves from the thinking that is harsh and judgemental, often coming from within. Take inspiration from blooming flowers and singing birds, vulnerable, but free in knowing they are blooming even if just for a short time. Nature is accepting of itself, it is not critical, shy or seeking approval. It just is. What greater example is there of authenticity of being.
Images: Epping forest
An interesting memory was triggered within me accompanied by a powerful experience when having been out in the forest all day on a workshop I felt extremely unwell.
I began feeling it was too much half way through the day as my vision got fuzzy and I felt pressure in my head. I also found it difficult to connect to others while in nature.
The experience took me back to my childhood when I remember spending long days in a forest either berries or mushroom picking and just how exhausted we all felt afterwards. I experienced the same symptoms yesterday, bright red face with a strong headache, blurred vision and feeling very tired physically. Not a pleasant state to be in. Nature overdose. I am convinced it is possible and spending long periods of time out in nature amongst trees can really alter things within us and it can be a difficult adjustment, experience.
When death comes I will not shudder before its cold stare
For I have witnessed bluebell woods at spring time
I will not turn my face away from its shadowy presence as my soul remembers the smell of hawthorn flowers
Embrace of a child as sweet as honey is in my skin’s memory, so death’s empty hands can perform its ritual
I will surrender my body. Take it. It’s ready. It has been a precious carrier of love, loss, tragedy and ecstasy, it knew it all, but
I will keep my soul’s essence, as I am led through the darkness into the light of myself
For I know the joy I felt in my life and I have seen the sunset with my sweetheart as the most sacred moment
I touched the earth with my bare feet and felt the sweet song of a morning breeze
I won’t turn away as I know myself just as death knows me who’s always walked
We will walk together hand in hand towards the next adventure with no regrets and only peace for eternal company
Well-done, you deserve it, you earned it, you worked very hard and did so well
These are powerful validating affirmations that tell ourselves that we matter, we are able and we deserve success. Today I am set on giving myself that validation I have been shying away from all the way through my childhood and early adulthood. Today is an important day when my hard work over many years has come to a completion. Today is a game-changer in how I celebrate myself.
Today made me realise like nothing ever did before in such a clear and almost unbalancing way that I don’t know how to celebrate myself and my achievements. This is no surprise how this insight came about, as this is not the first one this year, which feels like things must change and not only that, I have no choice in the matter, but to redefine it completely anew. My old signature pulled me into a certain familiar way of feeling and instead of feeling elated and satisfied there was this emptiness. I felt like hiding, shying away and holding my breath. Before I would have moved on to the next thing without stopping, honouring and validating what happened as something very important. I must mark it and stay in that energy for much longer than a few minutes this time. I noticed this today more than I ever did before in my life and there was a voice within me, a very distant one yet I heard it, which told me to stop, listen and question and I did. I felt a touch of anger, followed by sadness and a sense of injustice towards myself. I also connected this to an exact event in my childhood that changed my perception of myself and my achievements in an instant.
My mother in response to witnessing my happiness and pride in my achievements told me to stop the display of joy I was feeling inside, be humble and don’t show the pride in the excellent performance I had given. I remember that so vividly like it was yesterday. In that moment my spark went out. I didn’t understand it, but I instantly felt there was something wrong with me and took the message on that being happy was not the thing one did and expressing joy was definitely not for public display. It is profound how a single word, an event can affect someone’s whole life and how instantly I learnt a behaviour that continued through the years.
I now know that what my mother meant was not in any way a reflection on me or my achievements. I now know that her love for me didn’t stop flowing in that moment and her pride in my achievements didn’t disappear. It was just a moment, in which a child introjected words in a way that child could.
Celebrations are a huge part of my culture, always had been, yet I often felt on the fringes of that experience. It was always ‘out there’ and not ‘within’, directed and meant for someone else and never myself. That explains lack of birthday parties and gatherings in my honour and even when it did happen with my parents initiating it, I felt almost embarassed. Disconnection and detachment from the happy feelings that were present when something was achieved, earned and deserved continued throughout my life. Success became my secret joyous flow, which I felt I had to hide. To me success always leads to happiness. It never changed from that day when I was a child, it simply became hidden until now. Success is my primary happiness signature and nothing makes me feel the way that does to this day. I honour it, name it and recognise it when it comes.
So, today, I tell myself openly and unapologetically, I have done it, I worked incredibly hard, always determined, focused and dedicated. I got myself here, no one else, I did it all with unwavering self-belief and commitment to hard work. I celebrate myself today and my intention is to create my own ‘Ritual of completion’ to honour this insight and connection to myself on another level, something that I can carry with me and remind myself I matter, my achievements matter and success feels happy and joyous to me. (details of the ritual to come in a future post)
Today I also reflected on the theme of self and accomplishment in nature. I thought of the Land in a way that I experience it and how it never fails to inspire and bring out sheer admiration in me. The land knows its wisdom and beauty. It adopts, flows and bends with the elements and challenges of fire and floods. It survives and continues to grow in the face of adversity. It falls, it gets up again and basks in its own glory of knowing it is great, it is beautiful, had and soft, silent and roaring, hot and cold, it is whole in its majesty. It is not ashamed, apologetic or shy in decorating itself throughout seasons in celebration of its cycles. It is forever living in the knowledge of its beauty within and without and it honours itself deeply and in return we honour it out there and within us. Whenever I experience that sensation of fulfilment, inspiration and glory in nature I am able to connect with it inside of me and the feeling is utterly beautiful and whole.
My heart is overflowing with gratitude for the spring air filling my lungs and the sun caressing my face as gentle as a feather.
The birdsong is wondrous and exquisite in its multi-tonal spiral of a whistle.
I melt into the earth’s awakening feeling and see the mother welcoming me into her embrace.
Trees are smiling with warmth inside their trunks and wave branches about in ecstatic spring dance.
Spring, oh so gentle and soft in colours yellow, white and purple. Delightful energy of calmness and tranquility.
I love how everything stops when I lie on the ground looking up to the sky through delighted tree tops and birdsong accompanies me into deep relaxation.