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.
I am saddened that the ancient healing tradition of whispering is said to be dying out, yet there is a hope within me that it will live on through some young people willing to carry it through to the future.
When I was about ten year old I was healed by a whispering Babka. I remember that experience vividly and to this day I know the feeling of being touched by magic. It is said that some powers can transmit through a person should they be willing to be open and receptive. The time when powers come into awareness and manifestation is not till much later in life, not till crone hood for many women.
If any of you have had an experience with receiving healing through whispers do pay attention to voices, words, sentences and a sensation of whispering that might form in your awareness. Something I am experiencing of late as we approach the end of the pagan year.
- Genuine hunger – instinctual us, animal us
- Meeting an emotional need. Using food as something pleasurable to get away from something painful we are feeling
- Being stuck in a pattern, a habit, automatic behaviour associated with certain activities
This week is all about the body and I felt it would be useful to summarise some information on our relationship with food. I am reinforcing these messages for myself as much as for everyone else and I hope you will find it useful.
We all heard of binge eating, emotional eating, overeating, over-consuming on calories, mindless eating, etc. These are unhealthy patterns of behaviour, which we either do consciously with a purpose or unconsciously.
There is one way of eating, which is natural and the most helpful is to eat when you are hungry. When we are consciously aware and mindful of clues sent to us by the body, NOT our mind, indicating it is time to eat. When we know we are ready for intake of food, we need calories and there is a genuine need for nourishment on a physical level. It is when we know that if we don’t eat we might not ‘survive’, it is instinctual function for our body to sustain life through taking in some food.
The other two ways of relating to food are the ones to watch for. One is us using food as a way of making us feel ‘better’, that pleasure trap when we seek a relief from a difficult emotional state and wanting to feel pleasure and we do it through food. This is emotional eating. I know, e.g. in the past my emotional eating had been connected closely to grief. It works similarly with other habits, like smoking, e.g., which for me, again used to be a way to gain relief when I felt unsafe. Very specific emotions that I would need to release through using something else. Once you identify what it is that you are ‘running away’ from through inducing pleasure using food, then it is time to FEEL that emotion, allow it to be, having courage to be with that, as it is part of you.
One other reason we eat is through habit. Something that we keep on doing automatically to a point that we are not always conscious of, we simply do it when engaging with a certain activity. A good example is watching TV in the evening. Many would reach for food when watching movies, favourite programmes, because this is something that they have done over and over again for a long time, hence a habit is formed and the brain knows it is food time once you are on that sofa switching on your television. The first thing to do is to become aware of where you might be using food, in what situations and circumstances that you might have not realised. The only way to break that pattern is to learn to interrupt that behaviour consciously. Once you are aware, conscious then you can begin to stop it in its tracks. It is like changing a cycle, interrupting something repeatedly should rewire our habitual thinking or automatic actions into doing something else. This needs to be practiced again and again and there will be time when you will be able to watch television without overloading on calories. This would happen overtime through interruption of the cycle and engaging with activities that take you away from that pattern and from food. Do something instead for a period of time to give your brain a different message. Remove your association between watching a film and eating.
Now think of nature in all its presentations and with all its inhabitants and species. What stands out to you when you look to nature? With me it is balance, it is a beginning, a middle and the end. It is time for everything where nothing is rushed or delayed, where everything has its place. Summer doesn’t come before spring, flowers do not bloom in winter and the earth is not producing food when the ground is frozen. Nature teaches us that there is a system of elements that constantly working together to achieve an overall balance. Sometimes challenges are thrown in its way in a way of adverse weather conditions like floods and droughts, yet it recovers, it catches up and it continues to live. There is a force of survival and thriving for that equilibrium state where everything is just as it should be.
Now think of your body in the same way. Evaluate when it is the right time for you to eat, e.g. are you a morning eater? Are you more of a snacker or a bigger, more regular meal eater? What is your body’s preference and schedule for calorie intake? What feels most natural and nourishing? Do you follow your body’s natural rhythms or are you even aware of it? The goal is to bring your body into balance with your mind, your spirit and your emotional world. Is it in balance? What foods bring you joy not when you use it to avoid something else, but when you seek to give your body nourishment and enhancement in order to feel better?
My connection to nature and the earth has helped me balance out my physical and emotional enormously. Eating produce that comes from earth gives my brain a message that it is fresh, it is filled with water and sunshine and it is full of nutrients. It is good for me. Remember doing something enough times repeatedly can rewire your brain into knowing it is working and good for you. Start small with changing one or two things a week in order to increase your potential for balance in the body, add something beneficial or take away something that is not good for you. Small, steady and continuous steps.
Remember to get sunshine and rain water on your face, as well as feeling the earth with your bare feet whenever you can. Connect to the wisdom of the intelligent system that is nature, the earth and let its wisdom go into all areas of your life, your relationship with your body and food included.
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.
What are your reactions when you hear a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ from people in various life situations. It is interesting to observe how our bodies vibrate when we receive something that we ‘think’ we want to hear and how our reactions are when we are refused something.
We all seek feeling good potentially and would like to go in the direction of having a positive feedback from others. It makes us feel good. And that is just fine for as long as there is awareness of what our intentions, motivations, desires are in that moment when we ask for a ‘yes’ or we expect a ‘yes’. WE also need to be aware of what our potentially reaction might be should a ‘no’ come in. Can we handle it? Can we see the ‘gold’ in receiving a message we might not have expected. Can we decipher a message from within that ‘no’ and ultimately turn it into a ‘yes’ for ourselves without anyone or anything being attached to that decision.
I had an experience a few days ago when what I thought I wanted wasn’t in my best interest. I didn’t know that until I received a ‘no’ when my unconscious needs definitely wanted a ‘yes’. It is very useful to self-reflect post a situation, interaction or a turn of event and come to some sort of grounding within to ensure we are ok with what occurred and, if possible, to see alternative ways of looking at things, be fluid with our interpretations. I felt I couldn’t make a certain decision. My heart was saying one thing and my head another and I was stuck for some time, which was an uncomfortable position to be in. After weeks of holding the ongoing debate between my head and my heart I decided to ask for guidance from someone else. Another great tool I am discovering about asking for help and trusting others to lend a helping hand. As I was waiting for messages to come in and still trying to work it out for myself I went with my heart on impulse, or what transpired later, an intuitive leep in order to push things and get them moving and see what happens. I received a ‘no’ to my request, which I ‘thought’ I wanted to get a ‘yes’ to. The interesting shift that happened in my feeling body was a very pleasant relief for the first time in weeks when I heard that ‘no’. In that moment my decision was made. It was a ‘yes’ in disguise, a guiding voice of what was needed, not what I thought I wanted. My fear and anxiety subsided and for the first time in week I felt grounded and fully present in my body.
I thought of parallels of how this can present itself in nature. It is fundamentally about a contrast in energies and vibrations. It can’t be sunny all the time, right? Neither we wouldn’t want it to be, well, I wouldn’t. It is that push and pull between need and want. Nature needs sunshine and warmth just as much as it needs rainfall, frost, decay and snow cover. When I experience nature I am in the vibration of both, what we perceive positive and negative, dark and light and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would neither avoid going for a walk if I am called if it rains. That, to me, means that there is something for me to learn from being in the rain in that moment, on that day. It might not be what I want, but it most certainly always what I need, as I often find out after my commune with nature. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ work in a similar way and it is up to us to be able to receive it with wisdom and acceptance that it is exactly what we need in any given moment.
What I really want to zoom in on with this example is encourage an experiment with what it might be like to hear a ‘no’? Can you hold it objectively without being thrown into a space where it feels like a personal attack or rejection? Hearing a ‘no’ can tell us a lot about our thoughts, scripts and unconscious wounds we might be carrying that need a light thrown on them. We all like a ‘yes’ and there is nothing wrong with that, but a ‘yes’ can also be a trap if we are not careful. It is all in the vibration of how it is given and the felt sense when we receive it. What does it do to us? Does it feel like it lands in the right place or does it carry an unwelcome vibration? Drilling down into how it feels is helpful going from the initial impact to how energy lands, spreads and surrounds our senses and whether it goes away or stays in a way that feels good or bad.
My ‘no’ was a very strong, assertive and clear ‘no’, a ‘no’ I couldn’t argue with and it felt definite and contained. I felt so much better, as I could finally say ‘yes’ to myself after hearing a ‘no’ from outside. I turned inwards for reassurance and it was there, clear and grounded in the knowledge that a ‘no’ meant I could commit to the right path for me for now.
Across the road from my house there lies a woodland. It is a short pleasant walk into what is a sacred place to me. At first sight it might seem like nothing particularly special, big or of any significance, yet to me it means everything. It is a sacred crucible, which has been holding my pain and joy, ecstasy and turmoil and provided a solid presence and acceptance for many years now.
The way I would describe it in a way of imagery is a circle of greenery, it is a round shape, not too big, positioned slightly more to the left off the path although it stretches to the right too with a path running all the way round it and across it. It inhibits the lives of many oaks, holly trees, silver birches and smooth-skinned beeches. There are many hidden groves within the woodland where one cannot be seen from any of the paths and it feels like one is in a safe hold of the forest floor, trees above and plants all around. I often feel hugged by my guardian trees and most of them I can climb in between, as they stand in clusters. There is a brook running through the middle, small, narrow, but very alive with vibrancy of the crystal clear water.
In spring the woods change its flooring to vibrant purple of bluebells and the smell stretches all senses in a delicious dance of delirium. The joy is indescribable and it takes my breath away every time. In summer it is near to impossible to go off the path due to overgrowth of ferns and brambles and the air is so still I can hear my heart beat. I hold my breath in surrender to the cooling shelter that it provides amidst the heat of summer days.
In autumn it is very pleasant and paths yet again begin to open up for accessing all the hidden little groves, beginning to invite us slowly into the heart of the woods and our inner worlds. Here I cocoon myself for an hour or so doing magic or simply lying on the floor merging with the earth. There is a notable chill in the air, but so refreshing and, of course, the golden attire of trees never fails to get me to the floor kneeling before its majesty. In winter it is bare in all its glory and I can see the most intricate silhouettes of trees entwining their branches and huddling together against the wind. Stunning in their nakedness they stand strong in their vulnerability.
This woodland has been in my heart for many years and witnessed my process intimately holding all my secret heart desires and painful experiences. I never once left this place without a resolution, an answer or a transformation of some kind. It works every time. It is my trusted teacher, friend, guardian, counsellor, mother/father, the divine. It is something I can’t imagine my life without and its vibration has been aligning with my own for many moons whether it was performing my nature spells, meditating, talking to trees or spending time in close embrace with the earth smelling and feeling the glory of its body and soul. It might be a simple woodland, yet to me it is sacred and precious.
I now intend to take other people on soul quests through this wonderful place where I hope they, like myself, will find resolution, understanding, healing and transformation. I offer OUTDOOR therapy for clients in the UK, Uxbridge area.