Coming back to yourself – identity and spirit

russian forest in autumn

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.

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The Land of dreaming

Caingorms National park, Scotland
Upland spring by Loch Etchachan, Cairngorm National Park, Grampian Area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Am I asleep or am I dreaming? What is this feeling of all consuming something my heart struggles to hold yet wants so deeply? I am overjoyed yet bereft at the same time. I cry and laugh all in one moment of sheer madness when I lay my hands on the land. My feet touch the green softness moist with the promise of morning dew. I live, I die, I am in haven yet in pain.

My love affair with the land began a few years ago when I first experienced this strange merging with something. I came upon a place that had a certain smell, vibration where I felt I died and gone to heaven, where my body struggled to adjust to all that air, space and majestic wilderness. Did it touch upon my own sleepy wild heart? It made me cry mad words into the air and at others surrounding me. It made no sense to myself or anyone else yet I couldn’t stop screaming, crying and falling breathless on the grass of the earth seemingly sacred to my soul. It felt like reawakening of love of some kind, familiar yet new, scary yet exciting. Ever since the first step upon the land this dance of confusion carried on summer after summer.

Ambivalent, powerful pull like a voice that screams terrible words one minute and sings a soft lullaby the next. I hear it always yet the message is unclear. Come, go, stay, leave, dance, sit, scream, be quiet. Whatever it all means I find the unfolding of this relationship fascinating.

I am still searching for a settlement. It is alive in my mind, but reality is quite scary. Whenever I am in the land of my dreaming I feel hugely overwhelmed, bitter-sweet, can’t breathe it is too much air type of situation, total intoxication, grief at the thought of separation, yet a relief somewhat when away, but not for long, as the yearning of the heart returns just as strong to merge with it again and it continues like this year after year. I find myself quite confused about it all by now…

Druid’s way

Druidry

Druidry is not something in isolation of the whole universal way of being. It is not a prescribed religion with rules and texts, it is a free-flowing way of being in touch with yourself and the world carried in every day through engagement with awen inspiration. It is a spiritual practice, every day engagement with this world and everything in it. It is walking the earth in a way beneficial to the whole and the truth of nature.

These words summarise Druid’s way of living for me:

Honour, truth, integrity, listening and seeing, creativity, inspiration, healing, guiding, nature’s cycles, light and dark, seasons, stories, songs, rituals, everyday engagement, connection, involvement, wonder, enchantment, walking the land, magic in everything, leading, being with darkness, humanity, humility, authenticity, delight, spirit, community, joy, trees, nature deities, celebration, shamanic, otherworldly, sacred groves, ancestors, philosophy, seer, peaceful, humble, being with, voice, simple living, barefoot walking, tree talking, making a difference, understanding, seeing others, looking within, animist, standing stones, energy work, embodying, divine within and without, earthly living, participation, grounding

Having experienced some inner storms this week I looked within for what was needed and once I picked up a book on Druidry I settled into a space of peace and comfort. Another’s words on pages spoke to a part of me that is peaceful, content and in touch with meaning. I felt myself relax and calmed into a way of seeing things for what they are with speaking my truth at the heart of it. I find often I need to continue reading the words of the wise to stay connected with the part of myself that knows, feels and understands the ways of Awen, the inspiration of life with all its joys and struggles. I fall down and rise up again every time even though it always feels impossible, but it comes about just like a rain stops and sunshine graces the land once again.

Last night I was pulled into the stunning rainy landscape. I kicked my shoes off and stepped onto wet grass soft and glorious. Walking the earth connects me to the very essence of myself and to the centre of the whole. It feels containing as if the land is there to listen, understand and be with me. I feel all tension seep through my toes into the earth and on the in-breath I bring a renewed, fresh energy up into my body again. Roses in this garden smell incredible. It reminds me of home, my mother, the land of my birth and for a moment I am lost in a space of spirit so present my heart begins to ache with joy once again.

I am continuing to learn and make a practice for myself that serves the purpose of for myself and the whole. A practice that is authentic and in connection with everything that has meaning to me. I feel grateful once again for being shown a way as my chest relaxes in an outer breath and releasing all tension.

 

I love it so much it hurts

I love it so much it hurts. The land welcomes me this time with open arms and I feel nothing but warmth and nurture. I feel at home and I instantly recognise that familiar smell of the land, which I know well. It is raining and I am in my element of gentle water standing on a lake shore watching gentle giants mountains hugging the shore. I touch the water, it is clear and crispy cold and through my body pure joy spreads. It is a dance of recognition, which I feel a lot stronger this time round. While my husband looks nostalgic for hot weather and home, I am home. I tell him that most of my happiest memories took place either in rain or snow and I acknowledge that link and it makes sense.

Isle of Mull – lush and green with landscape showing off its mountains, valleys, lochs, forests and sea. It is such a mixture of the elements that makes it so rich. It is incredibly peaceful here like nowhere else I had felt in Scotland so far; well, perhaps, only the first time in Perthshire where my love for the land first stuck me. We are staying in the middle of nowhere and it feels so safe to me here. It feels like no one and nothing would find me here and if I was to stay I would be happy for the rest of my days. My heart begins to ache along with joy I cry inside for wanting to merge with the land forever. It hurts in my chest and with each breath I can’t seem to get enough. That feeling of safety is a new one, as previously while in Scotland I have always felt conflicted and often anxious, even scared. Not this time. Here I have come into myself somehow and the land here is so gentle in comparison with Northern Highlands or the Isle of Skye, e.g. Those places activated my shadow material and threw me into an emotional turmoil amidst some deeply spiritual experiences. The land there is fierce, wild, unforgiving and untouchable in its stunning beauty. It is majestic and independent. Here I am held, firmly and I can hear the land speaking to me. It is gentle and soothing. Vibration is of softness and it touches on places within me much lighter and happier. This reflects in our relational dynamics between the boys and me. Our trip was very different this time round like we all tapped into a gentler way of being with one another, there is less conflict and more recognition and acknowledgment of needs all around.

Standing in the garden I witness deer coming in closer grazing on lush green vegetation surrounding the house. It is a beautiful sight and they stop and stare at me in silent pause. God it is so peaceful here! Even deer is different here compared to imposing huge stags of the Highlands. These deer are gentler and smaller and devoid of antler crowns. My response to them is also strikingly different, less of knee shaking awe and worship-like way of witnessing them, it is quieter, softer and more ‘homely’ somewhat. As I lie in bed looking out of the window with views to die for I feel my heart beating with such love. It is intense and aching, as I already know how hard it will be leaving this land in a few days.

The land is calling yet again…

the-quiraing

The land is calling, but this time the call comes from a specific place. It is heard from the Isle of Skye. My soul is picking up on the spaciousness of the land, strong wind bound in its roar crashing against the rocks watching over rough waters. The voice is beautiful, it is mixture of a whistle, whining and deep bass notes. It has a voice or rather vibration boom boom like a beating heart that reaches my awareness and pulls at my soul’s veil asking to join it in its half melody, half drumming. It is intoxicating.

It is soothing to me to know it is there, it exists and its heart is beating in unison with my own. Loving from a distance is familiar to me. Being separated by space, but nothing else is also known. I have loved from a distance many times over, with all my being, bones, cells, toes, hairs on my arms and senses. The love so big I was breathing for one reason only to keep it alive. That’s where grief also comes in when a love so strong continues to live within me after many years of eternal separation. I feel this is what I experience whenever I am away from the land. Love and deep sorrow of separation are in embrace. Time there though there is a knowing that I can answer the call and I can merge with the land, as it is there, calling, wailing in its windy voice and splashing waves onto my naked feet. I can smell heather, it is warm to the touch. It get tangled in my hair as I lay my head against the moisture of the earth. It is easy for me to become each and everything that land is – rocks, mountains, grass, animals, clouds, the sun and the moon. Words are simply not enough to describe the connection in the soul. It just is so…

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My first experience on the island POST 

Sacred Land Trinity 

Scottish Highlands

Snowdonia, Wales

Connemara, Ireland

I worked with a bereaved client at the beginning of my psychotherapy training called Margaret. She was 83 years old and what a force of nature she was. Such passion for life, such grit, commitment, devotion, determination and inner strength like I rarely have come across in life, perhaps, only of my own mother. She was Irish. I loved her stories of growing up on a family farm in harsh conditions and amidst complicated family dynamics, but a place so beautiful that whenever she spoke of it I heard a song full of beautiful lyrics and melody of her voice changing into a sweet poetry with each breath. Our relationship was pure enchantment.

Ireland, I seemed to love the place without knowing why or how, I felt I knew it on some level. I married an Irishman first time round. I found the accent musically pleasing and lulling to my senses. Margaret spoke of returning to the land at the age of 83 after the death of her husband. Connemara. Perhaps she’s there now.

Years later I find that particular place is calling to me. Ireland. Through very subtle feelings, round about connections and encounters and things I have read it is as if I am weaving a plan, a map that will eventually take me there. I remain in wonder and curiosity with a sense of peace of getting to know that land one day.

Perhaps it is the completion of the sacred Land trinity for me, the first two being Scottish Highlands and Snowdonia, Wales. Perhaps I am on a journey of rediscovering some Celtic heritage of the British Isles, the path of Druidry that yes, lives in my DNA.

What a joyous journey I often stop to reflect, the one with soul at the centre of it all and spirit that is held in the land, in nature.

Be careful what you wish for…

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‘Be careful what you wish for’ surprises us, but also when we attach to an expectation we get bitterly disappointed. Expectations carry a trickster vibration, which leads us astray and to places we don’t expect to visit, which often results in pain and bitterness. Trickster is a teacher, but the way it presents its lessons is unconventional. We often dismiss it stoically or escape from it in pain rather than looking at it with open eyes and being prepared to listen, however confusing messages might seem. What I learnt was not to give into the vibration of being tricked into something, but stay with the core lesson hidden behind the energy that feels malicious.

As we turned off the main road from Inverness and onto the country winding lanes, scenery changed and surroundings took my breath away. Its stillness, green lush tapestry with sparkling dark grey rivers sounding beneath and deer wondering amongst bushes – it seemed like a heavenly oasis undisturbed by worldly worries. Peaceful, flowing vibration of the way things should be enveloped my every sense. In that moment I forgot everything and everyone, events that happened an hour ago, words spoken to another, it all became a blank screen on the other side of my awareness. For that moment I was in another world.

Deer is my primary spirit animal and to be able to see it so close to me, in great numbers with huge stags snorting loudly and staring intently in my direction, I could hardly breathe and the smile on my face fixed the joy within my heart. I spent a peaceful week in the Northern Scotland with Highlands watching over me from outside the window and it was not at all what I expected. My expectations turned into a magical experience when I invisaged a fairly uneventful, empty space.

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During my stay near the Land’s End of the Northern coast of Scotland I connected with the Water element the most. The sea produces no feelings in me usually and I have a strong preference for rivers and lakes, however, this time experience opened up possiblities for me to line up with the sea and its vibration. The way I can describe its signature is reassuring, strong, in motion and depth. I weaved my magic on the shore and received messages highly informative and directional for my forward journey.

sea

The second week, however, I planned and waited for intensely for nearly a year and after the endless speciousness of mountains and the wind gently singing in my hair cooling my spirit and letting it spread my inner wings, I found myself unaffected by my surroundings. Seemingly it was all that I wished for – a remote cabin surrounded by woods, yet, I felt nothing. This produced such sorrow within me, as I find there is nothing worse than no feeling of any kind. They do say indifference feels more painful than hate. Since I arrived I found no peace, rest or consolation in the place and waited for it to end. I felt enclosed finding it difficult to breathe, yes, amongst the trees, my spirit was dormant and I was pushed into the ‘ground’ without being able to spread my wings. I recognised the primary trauma of mine in that vibration – the trauma of entrapment. Again, this was the last place on Earth I would have expected to experience this in.

On reflection I found my experience with expectations and attachments fascinating and what I have learnt is ‘be careful what you wish for’ in its good and bad sense, both. Be careful how and to what one attaches. The land has no intention to make you feel in one way or another. Again it was confirmed for me. It is only me and you, who can vibe with one place or another and immerse into the vibration one aligns with. Finding that oasis on the outside, as well as, within is a process, a journey into the unknown, unpleasant or blissful and full of joy. In any case it feels like an adventure, which leads to discoveries of the soul and I am so grateful for it.