Blog: Horses & Humans need Boundaries

The subject of boundaries will crop up for many people. Private lives, professional lives and developmentally for children and pets. It’s often a subject in therapy for exploration in friendships, relationships and working environments. I’ve been watching some different horse trainers on video and youtube over the winter and the latest is from Wales and some exceptionally wise Americans. I’ve been watching the demonstration of leadership and setting boundaries for young horses, as in November I was wildly spontaneous and bought a young 18 month old New Forest pony, so I am submersing myself in working with young horses at the moment.

Not only are boundaries important for young horses, to survive and exist comfortably in a herd, but boundaries are important to humans too. Parents or those with parental responsibility, are the ones to set the early ones and personal boundaries are important to adults, for living their most useful, content and rewarding life.

My little pony is named Uhtred, after a Danish Earl, who could have actually ridden across the land here when he lived around the 9th century during the reign of King Alfred. Uhtred has to live comfortably here with the herd at Dove Retreat and with me, and our visitors. So I have a new project, but also a responsibility to him, and with much excitement I am looking forwards to building a connection with Uhtred so that hopefully we may get to explore the fabulous countryside together in the future.

Supporting people around horses and ponies gives them a special opportunity for insight into areas of personal development, a lot can be learnt and new ways forwards can be considered. Emotional realisations and energetic resonance of trauma can sometimes be released and as an experienced counsellor I would be taking great care to ensure that emotional wellbeing is held with professional boundaries.

If you would like to come for a retreat weekend, and also book an experiential session with the ponies here, please do get in touch. Sitting with the ponies and talking about problems or stress can be enlightening and therapeutic whilst held in the nurturing space of nature. Your session can be of gentle, mindfulness and meditation or maybe something a little deeper which can be discussed together. (Photos of Uhtred are on facebook – Dove Retreat)

To stay at Dove Retreat is an opportunity to rest, relax and feel revived. To have the animals and birds as your companions. To go for a refreshing walk around the village circuit or plan a longer hike and awaken your senses. Enjoy and admire the wide open skies as you truly live in the moment and be present to the sounds of wildlife. Rest in the cosy, rustic shepherd’s huts and enjoy the warmth of the wood burners and soft throws. Treating yourself to all of this, because you deserve it, because you are worth it.

Blog: Building Resilience

Knowing what makes you feel safe and secure is a really useful way to help feel grounded. Engaging in hobbies and interests are a great way to be producing those helpful endorphins that help you cope with stress. Be around respectful kind-hearted people and know that you are worthy of this. Take care of yourself on the basic level of good health and hygiene, express self-compassion and treat yourself. Keep warm and nurtured at times of challenge. Know who your good friends and companions are that you can turn to at time of loneliness or stress.

Blog: The Nurturing Tonic of Companionship

Sometimes having a stressful situation on the horizon can cause anxiety. Feelings of dread, fear and panic can be overwhelming. Physical symptoms can be a knotted or disturbed stomach, headaches, and light-headedness. If there is an injury or wound then pain can feel heightened.

A way to manage times of worry can be eased by the comfort of companionship. Especially by those who are warm hearted, kind and compassionate. Simply having a kind person or animal nearby can reduce anxiety and pain.

Book a 1.5 hour Nurture in Nature session during your stay at Dove Retreat and feel relaxed and rested in the peaceful paddocks in the companionship of animals and birds.

Blog: Safe & Secure

During times of change and stress it is really good to know how to keep your resilience topped up to cope with the challenges. One of the ways is to know the place that you can go to, in life or in your mind’s eye, that helps you feel safe and secure.

If you have a place already, that’s fantastic, it may be at home, in the garden or a lovely spot you know on a local walk. Sometimes it’s really great to create a peaceful place for relaxation, meditation, mindfulness in your own garden or a quiet space in your home, even if it’s small space, all you need are some soft throws, some cushions and some plants, as it’s always nurturing bringing nature indoors too. All the things that help you feel relaxed, cosy and comfortable.

Going to this place regularly to practice breathwork, meditation or mindfulness is extremely useful, because when times are stressful and maybe your feeling anxious, then imagine you are in the place of known safe and secure. Bring your attention, remember, what it looks like, what it feels like to be sat upon the cushions and throws, look around in your mind’s eye and really notice the surroundings. Whilst practicing the 4 count breath in through the nose and 6 count out through the mouth, and pressing feet and bottom into the ground, you are most likely able to reduce adrenalin, feel calmer and manage a challenge with clearer thinking, feeling more in control.

Blog: Giving the idle time Purpose to help you Flourish

Do you ever sit with your mobile phone, just scrolling through different sites and apps and realise the time has just passed you by? Do you find that time spent on your mobile or laptop has put the brakes on your motivation? Do you feel stuck in a time-wasting habit, whilst justifying that you’re just looking for interesting stuff?

How about asking yourself what is it that you are seeking? Fun; Educational; Informative; Interesting; Humour; Social Interaction; Skills; Confidence Building; Healthy Lifestyle; etc, etc.

When you figure out what it is you are looking to gain from time spent scrolling on your mobile or sat at a similar device then you are in a great position to really enhance your life! If you identify that you spend a lot of time looking at travel or adventure themes, now is the time to plan something realistic that you can actually experience! Whatever it is, bring it into your life as actual experience to improve your overall wellbeing, confidence, self-esteem, fulfilment, purpose, and so much more.

Blog: Alone V Loneliness

Spending time alone can be healing and support wellbeing. Loneliness is something that can be extremely difficult to manage and bring all sorts of problems. Warm, caring companionship is very good for lifting the mood, especially found by spending time with animals. Animals can offer unconditional love which is just so precious and a true gift. If you are feeling lonely, see if there are any neighbours who would like their dog walked, there are many busy families who may really appreciate this! Lifting low mood can be helped by doing things you really enjoy, any hobby or activity that gives pleasure and a sense of fun, achievement and satisfaction. Make a collage of things to look forward to, like a vision board. Use a scrapbook, or draw and paint the things you’d love to try next year and raise a sense of realistic hope. In April we will be welcoming visitors for our Nature based Mindfulness with Animals sessions, but do contact me if you would be happy for a 1 hour winter session, albeit it in raincoats and warm clothing. Bright Yuletide greetings, from Claire and The Healing Herd xx

Blog: “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!”

Yesterday I had a family visit for an Airbnb experience of 1.5hrs, themed Nature Based Mindfulness with Animals. It was a wonderful reminder for me of trusting in Self, that letting go of learnt knowledge in current thinking, does not mean we forget all the wonderful things we learn, especially if they mean something of value to us.

I tend to plan an outline of the experience sessions but wait until the guests arrive and see what they would hope to experience too. This family of parent and two young children were hoping to try a sort of taster session for equine-assisted therapy back in their home county, which threw me a bit off my ‘plan’ of activities.

But once they had got through the sloshy muddy gateway, and safely hand-holding through to the gated walkway, things just settled into a lovely rhythm. We started with a little chat about the senses, ours and animals and that soon changed to many questions coming forward, of different topics which was such a test of my attention! I realised this was a one of a kind session, with bright enquiring minds and delicate spirits. It became a juggling act for me to monitor, respond, guide and suggest and the activities became spontaneous and fun. From filling up the bird feeder and feeding the birds, to throwing hay for the small ponies and donkey, literally throwing it up in fluffy clumps so they had a huge soft bed of hay trailings, much to the delight of the 3 Amigos (Syd, Darwin and Merlin)! Watching the guests’ little facing beaming with happiness and intrigue were moments of absolute satisfaction for me. We then went off to walk around the 500m grazing track, which had no ponies on it. My idea was a nature treasure hunt, which quickly turned into squeals of delight running through more muddy puddles, singing at the top of their voices “We’re going on a bear hunt!” and running around looking at flowers, insects and other eye-catching treasure. This changed into an echo concert with “HELLO!” being shouted out whilst we all listened to the echos. I was amazed how well the sound recalled! It was so fun-filled and refreshing to just be able to shout with joy! We ended up in the stable with an indoors activity of making handcrafted Christmas cards, whilst having a drinks. When they got back in the car to go back to their holiday base, I offered my country girl wisdom of pulling off wellies as they jumped in, and safely popping muddy boots straight in the boot of the car! Clean and giggling in their socks these two little guests had enabled me to trust in my Self that we can hold a lot of knowledge in our memory, and it can come to the front of accessibility when necessary, if we just trust in ourselves.

Blog: Nature can Nurture Us

During these times of changes which are world wide, there can be a sense of losing control and too fast a pace of change. A resistance to change can cause a feeling of putting the brakes on all areas of change, a feeling of overwhelmed pressure and unreasonable forcing of having to go along with others’ rules.

Take a step back and look at how useful change can be in our lives. It brings opportunity for growth, personally and professionally. Adapting and being flexible are skills that sometimes need to be given encouragement, think of it as a process of learning, trying new ways and figuring it out as you go along.

Nature is forever changing, in the seasons and quite simply with every day sunrise and sunset. Let nature show you how to recognise normal change is necessary and fruitful. The ancient ways of the Celts were supported by their seasonal festivals, ceremonies and rituals connecting to nature and the universe. Worldwide indigenous tribes have lived in harmony with nature and we can connect in our own way too. We have a wonderful planet that can teach us how to manage change. It can be immensely nourishing to connect with nature, the planet and each other with kindness, love, gratitude and appreciation. As winter is nearing we can take this time to rest and recover and let the dormant phase regenerate new growth for the spring.

Blog: Nature is Still Here for us

During these times of change and challenge it is really helpful to spend time in nature. Connecting with nature is healing and a brilliant way to strengthen our resilience. Simply sit for a while outside and rest, with a slow steady breath. Notice all that is around you, using your senses rather than your thinking. Being in the present helps to let go of the future worries and release the dwelling thoughts remembering the past.

In the company of animals and birds we can receive joyful companionship and the connection of others lightens the mood and can really help with feeling more connected to your Self. This can help improve general wellbeing and with managing life’s situations.

Calming and soothing the whole of your mind, body and spirit in the wonder of nature, supported by the magical energies from past wisdom of the land and the ancestors.  Draw upon divine spirit for support and guidance, offering thanks and an open heart, to help us through these extraordinary times. We have much to be grateful for and it is all around us. Much love – Claire and all at Dove Retreat

Blog – Bright Heart towards Self during Lockdown

During usual times, those days of known substance, people face challenges and seek support from family, friends or therapists. People who have the resilience to look at stress and strains when life is normal, may not have the resilience necessary for deep exploratory therapy during periods of stress, like covid-19, due to a greater sense of becoming destabilised. Exploration of difficult past experiences may become overwhelming during these times of lockdown.

Remember to rest, be self-compassionate and seek companionship with good friends who are well-anchored and kind. Routine can be useful for having a sense of control over certain things and knowing the things that are consistent, concrete and reliable will be of help to stabilize the wobblyness.

Be kind and gentle towards yourself and prepare to be patient, give yourself permission to trust that you will seek the right help at the right time. Ask the universe to support you and remember, sometimes it’s those little signs and symbols which guide you in a really good direction. Listen to your inner voice. Feel it inside, in your body, what makes sense, and what feels good and useful.