The Soul Midwife

 

As the midwife holds our journey into birth, at the end of our cyclical path, the Soul midwife oversees our journey to death. But what if in between these two powerful thresholds of being came other births and deaths…deaths of old ways of being and rebirth into new?

For me, life offers a continuous opportunity to level the ground and seek new ways of being, new creations and wholeness. Why wait until the final curtain of this lifetime to birth your Soul into existence? Surely if our souls are an intrinsic part of our completeness, we can chose to embrace them at any point? I would like to offer a fresh view of soul midwifery and invite you to reclaim your power to walk the path of your soul, right now!

As a child I sensed the soul of those around me. I could feel the wisdom they carried, the gifts they held back and the truths yet unspoken. Without a healthy framework to understand what I was witnessing, I retreated from the human world, frightened by the disconnect I felt and confused why such magnificence was shut down in their lives and in mine. So much love was not spoken, so much fear was played out. Wary of human interaction I found solace in the “more-than-human” world of plants, trees and animals. They spoke a language I could understand, they just were with no apologies and I found this deeply comforting and familiar.

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Bluebell awakening in Penallt

Years later it dawned on me that what I was experiencing was not a unique story, but one common to the human condition – separation from our wholeness and amnesia from our soul. And if nature could provide me a way back to feeling like I belonged in this confusing world, then it could equally to others too. It was not about denying those feelings of isolation and disconnection, but about welcoming them as part of this human journey and allowing nature to provide much needed support. Through remembering my part in the ecology of life, my small contribution to the ecosystem, I was both insignificant and also essentially valuable. I remembered my part in the wholeness of things, my soul purpose…

The Soul Midwife is more than an end of life companion, she offers an hand and a heart to remind you of your truth and your beauty as a person. Your soul speaks to you right now and the soul midwife can guide you to those delicate and complex messages coming from deep within your being. I long to offer that holding to others, as I have needed it to find peace myself. Do not wait until the end of your life, you have all the answers you seek. Here are some powerful ways to hear your soul:

  • Breathe in and out of your heart space – heart intelligence is a multi-dimensional knowing that connects you to your deeper self.
  • Find a tree locally you feel drawn to – ask the tree to show you more about your soul path
  • Keep a gratitude journal – thanking life for what makes us happy opens us to abundance and connects us to what makes us thrive. The soul loves to give us our most heartfelt desires.
  • Follow your Bliss – what makes you really come alive as a person? What unique wisdom or gifts do you have that you keep quiet? What would you create if you had no fear of failure?
  • Delve within the shadows – soul gifts are often hidden within our most vulnerable places, what do you fear to show to others? What pain do you wish others could see if you knew you would be accepted?

 

If you identify with being a soul midwife, your work is so needed in the world. To see the Divine in everyone you meet and offer unconditional support whilst taking care of yourself is not a path for the ego but yet the rewards are beyond all comprehension. To see in the eyes of another, a moment of pure clarity, remembrance of their soul and purpose, their deepest belonging…well that makes everything else make sense.

 

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Plant Intelligence, the Dandelion’s Master Plan for Domination!

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The Dandelion is one of the most easily recognisable UK plants. As children we joyfully skip through their yellow flowers and play with the moon shaped seed heads, blowing them into the wind without a care in the world. Then sadly, for many, amnesia sets in and a more “serious life” of work and keeping things in order takes hold. As adults our relationship to the dandelion is sometimes one of annoyance at their vigorous life force in our lawns and patios, rather than joy. For many years the dandelion has been viewed as the enemy of the gardener and all out war was waged, with chemical herbicides and blow torches! I always find it interesting when plant can illicit such a powerful emotional response in humans, even if it is negative. What is it about these turbo powered plant warriors that make us want to fight back? Of course, not all humans respond to the dandelion in such an aggressive fashion and many appreciate it’s abundance and healing benefits. The bitter plant compounds in it’s leaves and roots are a cholagogue, meaning they stimulate bile flow and help cleanse the liver. The flowers are rich in antioxidants and product a kidney supporting tea or tincture.

In studies on plant intelligence, scientists are demonstrating that plants contain variations of human nerve and brain chemical messengers. Although they do not have physical brains, they are able to process information, adapt and store memories of experiences over many generations of plants and over large areas. They are communicating with and responding to other species in the ecosystem. Dandelions it seems are not simply inert objects in our gardens and hedgerows, but are responding to stimuli from other plants, insects and also human activity.

Michael Pollan a US nature author in his book “The Botany of Desire” looks a the world from the point of view of plants:

“They (plants) have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives … integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information.”

“And we assume you need ears to hear. But researchers, says Pollan, have played a recording of a caterpillar munching on a leaf to plants — and the plants react. They begin to secrete defensive chemicals — even though the plant isn’t really threatened, Pollan says. “It is somehow hearing what is, to it, a terrifying sound of a caterpillar munching on its leaves.”

It is clear from much scientific research that plants do respond to the environment in intelligent ways, developing resistance to pests and human chemicals and adapting their growth and biochemistry in response to external factors.  And what if we took this a step further…what if our behaviour was influenced by plant intelligence? Michael and others have argued that from a plant’s eye view of the world, human activity is merely a way to further strengthen and spread their DNA. Are we simply pawns in a plant dominated world and are our moods, decisions and actions influenced by plants?

We know that plant essential oils can influence mood and well-being. There is also extensive research on the effects of plant based diets and herbs for influencing mental and physical health conditions such as depression, anxiety and hormonal imbalance. If plants can influence our bodies and minds so widely through their physical properties, is it such a leap to imagine they can influence our psychology and even our behaviour?

For example, if you make a tea with some wild herbs you gather and consume that tea, what influence is the plant having over you? In drinking the tea you are ingesting a complex mix of plant phytochemicals and signalling molecules, are they able to alter your mood and help you make decisions which then further benefit the plant? Do I only hold plant ceremonies and workshops because the plants have guided me to do so through being exposed to their influence?

Of course, there is no hard evidence of plant-based conscious control, but I find the whole area deeply fascinating. I think it is healthy for humans to consider the world from the plants point of view once in a while and question…how am I being asked to serve you?

Returning back to the view point of our yellow friends, the Dandelion, perhaps they are simply engaged in bootcamp style training with their funny human adversaries? With everything gardeners have thrown at them they continue to flourish and multiply, spread seed and DNA. If they can grow through concrete, maybe adversity makes them stronger, not weaker? Interesting to note that one of the main benefits of dandelion is on liver health, and liver weakness in the Chinese energy model is a sign of repressed anger. If I were a dandelion I would find it very amusing that even if they did not consume me, I could influence human anger and give them a channel to release it, by growing in their perfect lawns and patios. Maybe these determined plants are more “in charge” than we realise…

 

 

Further resources:

Michael Pollan on Plant Intelligence

TED Talk on Plant Intelligence and Permaculture

Dandelion for Liver and Kidney Health

Article on Plant Consciousness

Oak Consciousness, Earth Dragons and the Divine Masculine

 

I would like to invite you on a little daydream… You are standing in a large meadow in June, the sun is warm on your skin and there is a hum of bees and other insects collecting nectar from the wildflowers all around you. The scent of wild marjoram and sweet grasses drifts up as your feet move over the lush ground. As you slowly amble through the high grass and blossoms you see a large, majestic oak tree in the centre of the field. It calls you, drawn by its presence and wide leafy canopy. The shade around it’s base is inviting and the tree appears to offer a safe resting place on this hazy afternoon walk.  Finding a shallow alcove in the mossy trunk, you sit back into the oak, feeling its solid holding behind you. You feel very welcome here and time and thoughts slow down. You lean into Oak time, a much older being that has no need to rush. “Stay as long as you need, I am here to hold you.” A gentle sigh, a letting go in your body and mind as you surrender to the tree’s support. You watch a ladybird skillfully navigate up the wrinkled bark, two squirrels chase each other on a lower branch. You wonder just how many other creatures are held by this oak right now? Does the oak mind?

Then oak says to you, “My highest purpose is to hold you and other life, it is my honour and makes me deeply happy to do so.” “The more you allow me to hold you, the greater I am nourished and fulfill my divine calling.” A long lost feeling moves through your body, a remembrance of being unconditionally held and welcome. A wave of grief, perhaps it’s been many years since you felt truly supported? You rest here as long as you need, your oak tree is your safe container. Connected in a moment of blissful balance, the Held and the Holder.

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I shared a very similar experience with an oak tree in my early 30’s and it was the first of many encounters I had with this mighty tree that taught me the art of being held by others and also finding my own inner safe container. The holding I speak of is the steadfast solidity of the Divine Masculine. This aspect of our inner and outer world is what provides our structure, our protection, our boundaries, motivation, emotional and physical holding and ability to manifest our dreams into reality. Yes, the Divine Mother archetype is essential too, but without the masculine balance, then life can be an uphill struggle. In a world where few of us have experienced unconditional masculine holding, then it is not surprising that this element is often not integrated as an inner and outer resource. To be honest, for the majority, we are not even sure what this divine masculine presence feels like! It is easy to blame our absent fathers or immature partners in why we don’t feel supported or heard, but how can men offer something they have largely never received themselves?

Too often this lack of empowered masculine holding results in a distorted pushy masculine identity which both men and women adopt to try to navigate through life. Immature (fear based) masculine self includes: barrage of self criticism, unrealistic goal setting and pushing to achieve, domineering attitude, arrogance or refusal to rest or seek help, forcing issues and others rather than cooperation, fear of losing control so tries to control everything.  This is all very hard work and not sustainable or empowered.

Signs Your Divine Masculine Self is not fully Active:

  • Being highly reactive emotionally, often feeling chaotic.
  • Difficulty trusting others and your own judgement.
  • Annoying and persistent self critic (often internalised critical father voice)
  • Feeling unsafe or having shaky boundary setting, hard to say NO and mean it.
  • Feeling like your self worth comes from male approval (when your inner masculine tells you you’re a goddess, outer male approval is far less important!)
  • Difficulty attracting emotionally available and emotionally intelligent men.
  • Difficulty converting dreams into actual success and abundance (the masculine side is the provider/manifesting power, earthing the feminine creativity into physical reality

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The key to healing these collective wounds I am finding is to recognise we are all whole beings, each with inner aspects of the masculine and feminine to explore and embody. And for me, working with oak consciousness for nearly a decade as given me a model of the divine masculine to learn from and bring out in myself. And the more I embody my own masculine power, the more I attract that respect and holding in my external experience. The questions I worked through with oak included:

  • If I long for safety and holding in my outer world, am I providing that for myself too?
  • Do I use old patterns of wanting to be rescued instead of empowering and supporting myself?
  • Am I actually open to receive support or even recognise it when it shows up?
  • How can I deepen my self-trust through positive boundary setting and holding my frightened parts with love?
  • How can I deepen my feminine gifts through providing a safe masculine container?
  • How can I work with oak to heal wounds from past abandonment by men?

As with many inner journeys, this work with oak is not linear and deepens over time as my awareness has grown and my trust and connection to oak has increased. Clearly, just healing with the non-human world is only part of the puzzle, and I have needed to do relational healing with real life human men too!  The level of connection I experience with oak now is what I would describe as eco-tantric! This is a new word I made up to refer to the exchange of bliss and love between human and tree (or other nature being). My goal is to work with men and women who are looking to find inner balance and integration and offer a framework and support to achieve this. I sense that personal healing is only the start of what is possible. The oak trees are guiding me to understand that land energies can be worked with in similar ways, by finding wholeness within, we can then help balance on a larger scale for all beings.  Oak is particularly good at working with an aspect of Earth energy called Dragon energy. These appear to be the masculine consciousness moving through the land and are often blocked or compromised leading to imbalance in the ecosystem, plants, waterways and for humans too. It is very much early days for this side of my oak apprenticeship, but I am excited what can be achieved for bringing vitality and balance in my homelands and maybe even further afield!

Next time you visit an oak tree, see if you can spot a dragon hiding in its branches. Stop a while and let oak hold you, invite a connection with this King of trees and see where it leads…

x x x

 

 

 

Nature Connection – The Simple Antidote to Anxiety?

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Most of us go through periods of increased anxiety, or manage low grade anxiety a lot of the time. This overwhelming feeling that something is very wrong, but that cannot be defined. Anxiety can vary from a cloud of uncertainty through to crippling terror and swing from one to the other throughout the day. This is exhausting, and as someone who has been in recovery from panic attacks for over 6 years, my heart goes out to anyone wading through these murky and scary waters.

Rewind 9 years ago and I’m a sales rep for a nutrition company, hyperventilating in a garage forecourt on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. My hands and feet have gone numb and I’m convinced I am having a stroke and will die in Milton Keynes. Yes, I can laugh now, but at the time I actually believed I was dying and stumbled into the petrol station to call for an ambulance. Of course, I wasn’t dying, I was having a panic attack. The very kind paramedic told me to drink more water and eat something as my blood sugar had dropped. With anxiety disorders, a multitude of normal blips in the day and body can tip you into meltdown: dehydration, low or high blood sugar, tiredness, witnessing an argument, having someone cut you up in the car….you no doubt have your own triggers.

With anxiety, the body is in hyper vigilance mode and seemingly innocuous events can trigger a cascade of brain chemicals which tell your nervous system you are under attack. The events and circumstances are what our brain tells us we need to control, when in fact it is the other way around. Our brain tells us to avoid certain things to “feel safe” but sadly this provides further confirmation to the brain that the danger is real. Life shuts down, we can end up avoiding everything…it is the downward fear cycle I got stuck in, as do many others, and it feels like you’re drowning!

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It is the nervous system which is “at fault” not the circumstances. In a state of heightened stress response, everything can be perceived as threat, and it is this panicky nervous system we need to address to get back to life feeling enjoyable again. Although certain medications can numb down this response, I believe nature connection can help rebalance the body and mind in a way that lasts, and not just to ameliorate the symptoms. I believe this because it was nature that brought me out of a state of extreme fear and into a love of life again.

So what is it that nature offers us that cannot be found in self help books, medication, counselling? I’m certainly not knocking those approaches as they do offer support for many, but I strongly believe that a disconnection from nature is one of the fundamental root causes of anxiety and one which is easily remedied. Humans are vulnerable creatures, soft bodies, needs for warmth, food, connection and emotional fulfillment. It is part of our beauty as beings, so much power to create amazing feats of technology, science and art yet equally fragile and dependent on the planet to sustain us. But like children who became too distracted by our toys to go home for dinner, our loss of connection to the Earth and her gifts has left many feeling cut off and fearful. Imagine any animal removed from it’s natural habit, it would feel stressed right? Put a monkey in a high rise flat and feed it ready meals, I’m sure it would struggle with anxiety too! Yet as humans we have adopted lives often devoid of natural environments, or if we do have access to parks and forests we don’t remember how to let go enough to fully take them in.

 

 

To really slow down and take time to experience nature means leaving your hectic thoughts and schedule behind and this can feel strange at first. Many of us are actually quite hooked on adrenaline and feeling stressed, although we wouldn’t admit it! Clearly anxiety disorders are not something we would chose to experience, they feel like hell, but to undo these patterns of hyper-stimulation takes awareness and practice. This is where facilitated nature connection can help. It is a gentle reminder of what might be missing and how to reconnect to that in a nourishing and easy way. Simply marching through the woods thinking about how stressed you are and what’s on your to-do list is not going to cut it!

Some of the techniques I use with clients wanting to connect to nature are:

  • Dropping into silence – walking in silence through nature calms our brains and helps us notice more of what is around us.
  • Holding space for them to play – as adults we often forget our natural instincts to play and explore as we did as children. I hold a safe space and guide them in ways to remember the art of innocent exploration. This rapidly calms the nervous system, you can’t play and be stressed at the same time!
  • Using different senses – as stress brings us up into our heads and analytical mind, using different senses such as touch and smell can help bring us back into our bodies. Running your fingers through the soft bouncy moss, getting down near the forest floor to smell the sweetness of the leaves.
  • Forest bathing and mindfulness – simple mediation techniques to quieten the mind and drop into the stillness around you
  • Grounding with trees – the solid, rooted structure of trees provides us with a great feeling of support and comfort when we feel anxious. Learning to allow a tree to support you and properly let go is an art form
  • Heart perception – I teach techniques to allow people to become aware of a much underused sense, heart awareness. The heart has a complex neurological system of it’s own and when used as our primary sensing organ, it instantly calms the brain and reduces anxiety.

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Nature does not take away our fears, they are part of the complex journey of being human, but it does help us form stronger roots. Roots which support our nervous system and allow us to deal with feeling vulnerable and afraid, as we learn we are not in this alone. If you feel this type of support is needed in your life then please get in touch. It is my honour and joy to share the power of nature with others, nature’s capacity to heal and hold us in our most fragile moments.

x x x

The Power of Ceremony – Earth Rituals and Collective Consciousness

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“The purpose of any ceremony is to build stronger relationship or bridge the distance between our cosmos and us.” Shawn Wilson

Searching for some interesting images and ideas for my blog piece on ceremony, I was a little depressed by how little there is online regarding the practice of Nature-based ceremony in the UK. Endless pictures of weddings and occasional mentions of tribal practices from the Amazon, but virtually nothing from these lands. How could something so powerful and fundamental to our ancestral links to the Earth and our connection the the “more than human world” have been largely forgotten and neglected?

Ceremony at its heart provides a safe container to share, explore and touch on the sacredness of life. A place of connection and healing, a vessel through which we can journey with others to the boundaries of our awareness and adventure into the unknown. This collective experience of the sacred has been woven into human evolution and I would love to see it brought back and embraced in these lands. For me, a culture devoid of ceremony is a culture which has lost it’s roots, lost it’s magic…and that brings me grief.

 

So what is possible in the ceremonial container? Why should we reintroduce these old ways and how can we use ceremony in the modern world? Nature-based ceremonies serve an important function of reminding us to honour the land we live on and also meet each other from a place of openness, sharing a rich experience as soul family.  What is created in the ceremony is far more powerful than the individual people involved. We are inviting in the Divine to guide and work through us, which cannot be controlled or understood from an intellectual awareness. The insights come from a multidimensional awareness of heart intelligence. Ceremonies invite us to feel. Feel more deeply into what it means to be human, the pain and the bliss, and share these experience with others. Yes, we each have our unique journey in ceremonial space, our own story, struggles, reasons for being there but in the sacred space we start to feel the collective human experience, and this is powerful medicine. I feel so much of what breaks are hearts is the feeling of isolation, disconnection and shame associate with that. In a culture devoid of a sacred space to be at one with humanity and the Earth, it is not surprising we feel cut off and alone in our struggles. Ceremony invites us to connect to our Divinity, and in turn helps us meet the richness of our humanity with a sense of wholeness and love.

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The structure of a ceremony begins with an intention, a reason to gather and that may be a particular threshold in the year, like Summer Solstice, a Full Moon. It may be a celebration of a life event, like a wedding but equally the beginning of menarche for a young woman, the release of an old relationship, a gratitude ritual. There may be an intention to heal together, through sharing, singing, praying, drumming and connecting with nature. Whatever seed is planted, the ceremony grows from this place, an living co-creation between humans, Earth and Spirit. The intention set, next the container must be created, formed with love and reverence. The container is what allows the magic to happen. This is why choosing your ceremonial space is vital and why our ancestors invested a lot of time and energy into creating sacred sites around the land. Not all of us have access to a stone circle or temple so what are some good ways to create a ceremonial space?

  • Peace, respect and proximity to nature – it is fine to be inside, especially during winter months, but ensure you are situated in land which is ideally cared for and respected. No harsh noises or disturbances. You are creating sacred space.
  • Clean and fresh energy – ensure the space is physically uncluttered and clean as well as smudged and energetically clear. (for more info on space clearing please get in touch)
  • Create an altar – the centre of your ceremony. The altar is the physical and energetic focal point of sacred space. Items placed on the altar set the theme of your ritual and both aid and inspire what unfolds in the space. (For example, if you are honouring a specific plant, place a vase or pot of it on the altar) Invite your community to each bring a special offering to the altar, weaving in their energy and intentions into the collective. Treat you altar with love and respect, like a candle, give gifts of sweet fruits, chocolate.
  • Seat your gathering in a circle – the power of the circle is ancient wisdom which needs to be remembered! A circle of people meet as equals, sharing a connection that allows spirit to move through them as a collective. What alchemy happens in the circle cannot be predicted or controlled, it is about allowing the magic of the circle to emerge.
  • Prepare some handy ceremony kit: comfy cushions/blankets, light nibbles (invite guests to bring things to share), music or a drum for journeying/meditating together, tissues (things can get emotional!), smudge to use during the ceremony to lift/clear energy (using native plants like mugwort is a nice addition)

 

As a container for meeting the sacred, ceremonies should have a structure and clear intentions. Personally I feel too much rigidity can block the flow of the magic, so aim for a subtle blend of holding and allowing during the plant ceremonies I offer. For me, it is not about one person teaching or controlling a process, but a collective experience where all present (both physically and energetically) are involved. The role of the ceremonial guide is to be aware of what is unfolding, but not to dominate or control the space. When coming from a place of service and empowerment, their presence guides the ship, not their action. There may be times action is needed, to maintain the container or provide support, but often less is more.

I would love to see the awakening of Earth ritual and sacred ceremony back into our lands in my life time. I feel so much is transforming for humanity and to walk this alone is a terrifying path, and really unnecessary.  Lets share the journey and the celebration with others, allowing ourselves to be part of something bigger.  In that sacred space of love and connection we can remember the truth….that is what we have been searching for all along.

 

 

 

Biophilia – Healing the Disconnect from Life

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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir

Allowing myself to surrender to Nature’s wisdom over what I thought I knew, has been the greatest teacher for finding my truth and personal expression. It has shifted my personal identity from one of fear into one of deep belonging, connection and bliss. I believe that bliss and connection is our most natural state of being and one which is deeply woven into the fabric of the living world around us. We cannot help but feel a profound sense of nurture from connecting to Mother Earth and to the wider ecosystem to which we belong. It makes perfect sense that there is an in-built pleasurable feedback loop for activities that enhance life. The exciting thing is, it is available to all and free and relatively easy to tap into, if you are willing to let go of preconceived ideas of nature and your relationship to the wider web of life.

It is sometimes easy in the modern world to forget how interwoven we are with plants. They product the oxygen we need to breathe, the basis all our food. Without plants and trees we could not exist on Earth, so it makes sense that feeling disconnected from these life-providing friends, we can be left ungrounded, anxious and seeking alternative ways to feel happy. As humans in the modern world, we can often forget we are part of nature, it’s where we came from and where we will return. It is not something simply to admire or take resources from. Maybe this modern disconnection, uprooted from what sustains life then leads to feeling disconnecting from everything…other people, ourselves, our reasons for being here?

Science is now recognising and exploring what we have instinctively sensed for millennia, that what brings us life also brings us pleasure. Research in a new area of biology called Biophilia, is examining the effects of connection to nature on the body, emotions and overall happiness levels.

biophilia

bʌɪə(ʊ)ˈfɪlɪə/

noun

 

  1. (according to a theory of the biologist E. O. Wilson) an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.

Studies on the positive effects on humans from being around plants and trees have shown:

“To reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones, increase immune health, reduce anxiety, improve depression and other mental health issues, improve concentration and creativity.”

As a result of being around life, being around what sustains us, our nervous system relaxes and we move out of stress response into one of connection and relaxation. In this state we start to produce some lovely neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine. These further stimulate feelings of relaxation, connection and pleasure.

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There has been a good amount of research conducted in the negative health effects of an absence of nature in peoples’ lives, mainly concentrated on the effects of providing plants and natural spaces to ameliorate the impact of office environments. As wonderful as it is that office designers and corporations are recognising that employees perform better with access to natural features and fresh air, surely this is just the start! What if we could move beyond simply avoiding ill health and coping with office and urban environments and realise our potential to live in continuous biophilia, truly thriving within our ecosystem rather than simply surviving? Clearly there are recognised biological and emotional benefits from nature connection, but also perhaps it answers a deeper longer, a soul need for wholeness through being part of something far greater? Personally I have found nature connection to nourish me on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and I am sure you each have your unique experiences of joy and bliss from moments lost in nature….

Simple daily practices for connecting the nature, in small or large ways can have a huge impact on health and happiness.

Embracing Biophilia in Your Life!

  • Grow your own vegetables or herbs. Giving love and care to a plant that you can then enjoy in your food is a wonderful way to connect to what sustains us. It can be a pot of parsley on your window sill to a whole vegetable patch.
  • Have a beautiful nature picture as your screensaver. This may sound silly, but studies have shown that we release happy brain chemicals just from looking at pictures of nature!
  • Try to take a 15 minute daily walk in a park or garden every day. Take a little time to stop and notice the changes over the seasons. Keep an open mind for the wisdom in nature might be wanting to show you.
  • Forest bathing – developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Walk, sit, lie in some local woods and soak in all that lovely tree energy!
  • Care for nature – the act of kindness to nature can be wonderfully uplifting and nourishing to us on a deep level. Find out about tree planting in your area, join a conservation volunteer activity or outdoor education programme.

The options for nature connection are vast and generally free or very affordable. What could be better than finding an unlimited source of well-being and happiness, that is there for all. Bliss!

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Coming Home – Your Place of Belonging

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“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” – Brené Brown

It struck me recently how a sense of belonging, safety and love can be linked to a physical home, but also an inner state of being. Our home, wherever it is geographically, can represent a source of much support and connection, but it can also bring up old patterns of relating and coping, those learnt for survival in unhappy childhood homes. If for many, our core wounds arose in our first experience of home, how can this impact on our choices and ability to create a happy stable home for ourselves later in life? Do our fears of rejection, abandonment and catastrophe follow us around from place to place, slowly eroding our peace of mind?

For the first time in my life I am living on my own. This has been a wonderful new experience and my adult self is really enjoying the sense of freedom and peace that comes from having a space completely for me. What I have noticed is that with an absence of anyone else to project my “stuff” onto, I am needing to accept more fully the vulnerable and frightened parts of me that associate home with a place of emotional distress. I was not fully conscious of what patterns were operating until recently, when a coaching session on overcoming procrastination led to a series of “A-ha” moments about why I sometime struggle to focus when working from home.

Sometimes much of the day can pass and I’ve drifted, numbed out and generally wasted a lot of time doing not very much at all! I felt frustrated and guilty about this and confused how I could run departments in an office environment, yet couldn’t get much done when doing something I loved, working from home?! The key was the home part of the equation. Under the surface of my normal adult functioning brain was my subconscious programming of going into hyper-vigilance and fight/flight in my home environment. This was huge! I wasn’t being rubbish at working, I was operating in survival mode which meant higher cognitive function had gone off-line and my fear responses where running the show. Clearly the current home situation was not threatening in a real sense, but the tricky thing with subconscious patterns, especially early ones, is they make reality fit their anxious programming. Irrational worries about my workshops being a failure, feeling edgy about having enough food in the cupboards, daydreams about being made homeless by some unknown thing I’d done wrong! It sounds ludicrous now I write it down, but this is what a hyper-vigilant brain does…it creates drama to fit it’s perception of threat. Seeing clearly what I was dealing with was painful, but also very reassuring. I now knew what needed my attention and can take steps to hold myself and use flashback management strategies. Flashbacks are a term used for PTSD-associated memories and body sensations which replay old trauma in the nervous system. They can feel very real and part of recovery from PTSD is in identifying when you are in one and navigating your way out again. Overtime new neural pathways are formed and they become less and less frequent. Signs you are in a flashback include: fearing the worst possible outcome, deep sense of dread, extreme mood swings, hopelessness, feeling worthless and unexplained physical pain.

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Learning to accept this vulnerable part of myself and care for it is fundamental to moving forward and healing the core wounds linked to home. None of us can change what happened in the past, the misunderstandings, false beliefs and impact of wounded carers…but we can make a conscious choice to nurture a fresh relationship to belonging, to self-care and safe homes. I have been using a method of releasing old stored emotions called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping on certain acu-points on the body whilst naming the memories or emotions you are letting go. It is very powerful and through EFT I have found a much deeper sense of safety and belonging which is internal and not based on my outer environment. It got me thinking about the true meaning of “home” and whether cultivating a strong sense of connection to myself was as valuable as releasing old patterns? If I fully accept my vulnerability and fears and hold them close to my heart, then I am home, home in the cosy cocoon of my own Being!

 

Maybe all I was really craving was a place of belonging in my own heart? That secure connection to my own self-love that means I can deal with whatever life throws my way. Self-acceptance and holding my delicate self with tenderness is calming that fearful little girl, reassuring her that she is now home….

x x x

The Art of Winging It like a Pro!

 

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“The more you see yourself as what you’d like to become, and act as if
what you want is already there, the more you’ll activate those dormant
forces that will collaborate to transform your dream into your reality.”
― Wayne W. Dyer

Have you ever felt like you are destined for something far greater than the life you currently lead? Do you feel that your talents and gifts are wasted in your present life path, like you are trying really hard but not getting very far? What if you had unlimited choice and power to create the perfect life to meet every need and make you shine with overflowing happiness? Well, you do…and the most exciting thing is, that you don’t have to try too hard! I am becoming an expert at “winging it” the magical art of not really having a clue but jumping into the unknown anyway.

So I find myself at an exciting time of creating. A time when trust means more than knowing. I am creating a business based on a new paradigm of wholeness, cooperation and connection, things which feel natural and enriching to me, but also challenge my old belief systems. Each day new things open to me, magical offerings and abundance keep me hooked on the faith that I am moving in the right direction.  I am birthing something in the world…and sense it wants to be birthed. It is bigger than me, and yet I have to hold it close and follow the cues to keep things moving. This is the way of the Goddess. She asks us to co-create and not be attached to the outcome of things. I serve the dance of life and I am the dance of life! It is very confusing, scary and beautiful all at the same time.

For a long time I have been one of those people, that looks like they know what they are doing…but really don’t! For years I felt bad about this, worried I was a fraud and carried a nagging guilty feeling that one day I would be found out and told off for pretending. People often commented about “how sorted my life was”, I didn’t have the courage to tell them I was as lost and confused as everyone else!

It is only now I see how my “winging it” skills are actually something to embrace rather than feel bad about…and I’m turning winging it into an art form! There is a well known phenomena in psychology called “Impostor Syndrome”. It is common to the human experience, that even the most successful and powerful people in the world, feel like they shouldn’t be there from time to time. We can all secretly fear that someone else knows more, others are better at something and that one day our inadequacy will get uncovered. Realising this is not a personal flaw, but a human trait freed something up in me, it allowed me to play with winging it in a new fun way.

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Maybe the world is just a lot of confused people pretending they know what they’re doing? Maybe we’re all just a bit lost, trying to find our way and not get found out? What then makes the difference to why some achieve great things and others stay stuck?

Winging It of course!! Courage and trust to try things and not worry if it doesn’t work out. That inner supportive voice saying, “I know you’re scared and out your depth, but lets try it.” And, my goodness, it works! Pretending you know what you’re doing is infectious and soon others will follow, be a leader in your own life. The clever thing is too, that when we wing it for a while, we develop new skills and confidence in areas we never thought we could excel in. Winging it gains results…fast.

Winging It Like a Pro Training Tips

  1. Remember – everyone is making it up as they go along!
  2. Talk about your dreams like they are already happening, connect to the reality you want and it will be created.
  3. Ignore the doubters – they just haven’t learnt the art of winging it yet!
  4. Do one thing each month that scares you. Get support and mentoring if you need.
  5. Don’t put off your goals and dreams, this procrastination is the enemy of successful ventures.
  6. Share your Winging It achievements with your friends. Celebrate each others’ courage and awesome creations. It also gives each of you more power to see others achieving their dreams.
  7. Spread the word…Make sure everyone knows how to Wing it like a Pro!

 

Happy Creating Beautiful People

x x x

Eco-Sexuality – Connecting to the Orgasmic Pulse of Earth

 “Let Yourself be Drawn by the Stronger Pull of that which you Truly Love” – Rumi

Allowing myself to surrender to Nature’s wisdom over what I thought I knew, has been the greatest teacher for finding my truth and personal expression. It has shifted my personal identity from one of fear into one of deep belonging, connection and bliss. I believe that bliss and connection is our most natural state of being and one which is deeply woven into the fabric of the living world around us. Like a newborn held warmly to the mother’s breast, we cannot help but feel a profound sense of nurture from connecting to Mother Earth. It makes perfect sense to me that there is an in-built pleasurable feedback loop for activities that enhance life. Eco-sexuality is a term I’ve coined to describe the deep, pleasurable connection to the natural world that feels…well orgasmic! The exciting thing is, it is available to all and free and relatively easy to tap into, if you are willing to let go of preconceived ideas of nature and yourself.

Science is now recognising and exploring what we have felt and known in our bodies for millennia, that what brings us life also brings us pleasure:

biophilia
bʌɪə(ʊ)ˈfɪlɪə/
noun
  1. (according to a theory of the biologist E. O. Wilson) an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world.

There has been a good amount of research conducted in the negative health effects of an absence of nature in peoples’ lives, mainly concentrated on the effects of providing plants and natural spaces to ameliorate the impact of office environments. Some references to read at your leisure below:

http://humanspaces.com/global-report/the-impact-of-biophilia-productivity/

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/the-economics-of-biophilia/

As wonderful as it is that office designers and corporations are recognising that employees perform better with pot plants about, surely this is missing the point! What if we could move beyond simply avoiding ill health and coping with offices and realise our potential to live in continuous biophilia, truly thriving within our ecosystem rather than simply surviving?

Studies on the effects on the mind and body of being around plants and trees have shown:

“To reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones, increase immune health, reduce anxiety, improve depression and other mental health issues, improve concentration and creativity.”

As a result of being around life, being around what sustains us, our nervous system relaxes and we move out of stress response into one of connection and relaxation. In this state we start to produce some lovely neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine. These further stimulate feelings of relaxation, connection and pleasure. Most of us get a surge of these pleasurable hormones during a massage, sex or peak life experience like winning the lottery or eating chocolate cake! But what if you could live a more pleasure filled life all the time? What if your only limitation to pleasure was a willingness to accept more? Coming more often than not from a fearful, disconnected place, humans sadly often miss out on this natural state, relying on infrequent or unhealthy ways to feel pleasure or even numbing out completely. Living from a place of ecosexuality and biophila can reverse this trend and reset your hormonal and nervous system into one wired for bliss.

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Learning some simple techniques to connect to nature and become open to exchanging blissful experiences with plants and trees can transform your life, it certainly did for me. Old traumas and fearful patterns stored in my body have released, my energy is far greater, I sleep better. I feel more sexually empowered and in touch with my orgasmic energy without needing a partner to enable this or validate me. I can now direct this extra blissful life force into creative projects and for self healing.

My practice began with an alder tree, one which called to me with her curvaceous swollen trunk and yoni shaped openings, I sensed she had teachings for me, guidance in allowing myself more pleasure. Sitting and breathing with her took me into a deep trance and I felt her energy connect to my hips and move around my root and sacral chakras, releasing old tensions and shame. I felt jolts of warm pulsing energy moving up my spine and she told me off for not breathing properly! A little overwhelmed by my powerful teacher I took some time to process my experience before trying again a few weeks later. Now I have several plant and tree lovers, each on teaching me new ways of relating to my sexuality and it’s gifts.   I am very much a novice to ecosexuality, and each experience can be very different, sometimes mind blowingly powerful, other times more tender, vulnerable states of sadness moving through.

What I am certain of is each experience will be beautiful and each takes me slightly closer to my natural state of being…one of unlimited bliss.

x

Rewiring Primal Fear – Hacking your way to A Blissful Life

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As an explorer of the wholeness of human experience, I have been exploring the Primal Fear Response, the angry, fearful toddler of the psyche. The part of the human nervous system, stored in the amygdala, that is based purely on survival and is designed to stay alert for possible threats. It is the part of the brain which takes over when we feel threatened or devalued….either in a physical sense or in an “imagined” sense. It creates that deep feeling of dread and hopelessness that can plague us late at night. It is responsible for nearly all unhelpful behaviours, including irrational thoughts, mood swings, hyper-sensitivity, addiction, depression, anxiety and self-sabotage. It can make us feel like we are helpless, drowning in negative emotions, powerless to do anything about it.

Although survival is an important function of the human nervous system, more often than not, the difference between perceived threat and actual threat becomes so blurred, that the primal fear response gets stuck on “red alert”. I like to view my fear response as my internal car alarm. For a long time mine was set on hyper sensitive mode, going off like crazy with seemingly innocuous events like a door slamming or a driver behind me on the road. Why does this happen? Well at some point during our lives the alarm system gets so overwhelmed, perhaps due a traumatic event such as a parent leaving or being bullied, that it gets locked on. The event or events can happen very early in our lives, sometimes pre-memory and pre-speech, so processing them and resetting the alarm can become very difficult if we try to think our way out of them. Over years of hyper-fear response we become so used to this way of being, that we forget this isn’t normal and adapt our lives to fit around these perceived threats. Our world shuts down as we see people and situations as potentially threating and do not engage, we avoid making changes to our lives as our alarm tell us this will be too much. Sadly this can result in us living a shadow of the life we have open to us. Very healthy normal human behaviours like playfulness, adventure, mischievousness and pleasure seeking can be supressed.  Instead they may be replaced with unhealthy behaviours like neediness, toxic relationships, numbing with food and drugs and keeping ourselves “small” to feel safe.

“Amygdala hijack is a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Drawing on the work of Joseph E. LeDoux, Goleman uses the term to describe emotional responses from people which are immediate and overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat.”

We can spend years and thousands of pounds on various talk therapies and self-improvement workshops to try to “fix” ourselves out of these patterns, but is that the answer? Our fear response does not know the different between actual danger and a danger-filled thought. Maybe talking about our perceived failings and painful memories  further stimulates the amygdala into alarming that something is gravely wrong. So how do we switch the car alarm off and return to our natural state of playful, pleasurable curiosity with the world?

What I have found exceptionally helpful for dealing with my overactive primal fear is recognising (with support) that it is not a rational thinking and therefore, cannot be reasoned with or “solved” with rational discussion with it! Imagine you have a toddler who is in a rage and head-butting the wall. Would you enter a long discussion on why this wasn’t a good idea and negotiate with the toddler about stopping at some point? Of course not, you would intervene immediately and stop them. The amygdala fear response does not need reasoning with, it is out of control and needs to be told a firm “NO”. Once you stop jumping to its alarms and reacting, it automatically rewires  to respond in a far less hyper-sensitive way. Each time this process is repeated the alarm quietens more, until you only get a fear response when there is an actual threat.

This rewiring process usually requires support because when triggered by fear, it is very difficult (unless you have the mindfulness of a meditation master!) not to jump on board and react, either by shutting down, avoid life or getting angry. Personally I chose to avoid talk therapies as they made me feel more of a victim, and opted for somatic (works with body sensations) therapy and hypnotherapy. Both of these techniques were “solution-focused”. This means a focus on positive thoughts, behaviours and sensations rather than painful ones. The goal isn’t to fix a broken person, rather remind the body and mind that it is ok to have a positive experience of the world. Once guided back to this natural state of being I found my amygdala quietened down and my positive brain chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin flowed much more. I have found it is really very simple, whatever I focus on becomes my reality. Now I focus of pleasurable experiences and feelings about my world this is what I encounter again and again. Occasionally a random event or internal sensation may get my amygdala primed but I calmly and firmly say “No” and move on. Without the constant racket and reactions of fear I am finding my natural state is one of deep love, peace and joy with life. My heart is open to let in more connection and playfulness. I feel held and accepted by the world, why wouldn’t I be? Warm waves of bliss move over my body from eating good food, laughing with friends and smelling a flower…I am remembering my natural state of being!

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Here are my top tips for rewiring your way to feeling connected and blissed out!

  1. What I found essential, is learning to take full responsibility and ownership of this fearful, reactive part of your mind and stop falling into “victim” thinking. This is deeply empowering and prevents you confirming to your brain that you are a fragile, helpless person being flung around by a terrifying world. Only once you recognise you have complete choice not to respond will you start to be free.
  2. Get professional help. I can’t recommend this highly enough. I spent years trying to self-help myself out of perceived failings and fear and this was really exhausting and kept me stuck. I found somatic therapy and solution-focused hypnotherapy particularly helpful but it is important to do what feels right for you. I know others that have had amazing results with dancing, conscious connection work, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and massage.
  3. Recognise and let go of your inner “drama queen!” This is part of our ego which loves responding to the amygdala and creating elaborate stories around being a victim, avoiding important decisions and generally being dramatic. This may manifest as a sulky child, constant complainer, flamboyant crisis lover or poor little me victim. Find yours and own it! It will need bringing home with firm loving hand and given a more nourishing job to do from now on.
  4. Give yourself full permission to live a joyful, pleasure-filled life! Say “YES” to fun interactions and activities even if it feels a bit scary…Fake it ’til you Make It Baby!!

I found it took about 8 weeks of hypnotherapy (once a week) and home practice of saying “No” to my amygdala for it to shift my fear response to a healthy baseline level. I was shocked at how quickly a positive focused therapy changed my whole relationship to the world around me. Something which years of talking about my problems and analysing them had failed to do.

The alarm has stopped ringing constantly, the sense of peace is unlike anything I have ever known. My natural state is one of happiness, play and bliss, it just took losing it to fully appreciate that.

x