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
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.
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.
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
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.
This morning whilst watching the news I heard the word ‘beacon’ mentioned and it caught my attention like a moth drawn to a light. I think it was used in a sentence as describing a fundraising event as a beacon for hope. The very first image in my mind’s eye was of the aircraft warning beacon we have on the ridge of hills behind us. It is a wild place of wonderful views across Somerset. I then went up to feed the ponies and thought about it again and was reminded of lighthouses and how they have those magnificent beams of light to guide seafarers to safety and how both those beacons are strong and sturdy to resist the strongest of storms. I thought about how old ancient beacons of fire would carry a message of warning, for protection and hope, to nearby villages and towns. I’m sat here now just wondering what my own Beacon of Hope could be? What is my source of guidance and inspiration? I will share that it can vary, depending on the situation and where abouts in my life journey that I am in.
This morning I had already decided to write a blog about how to be at our most resilient during these testing times of lockdown. However, for the past 3 weeks I have been skimming my eyes across similar posts on social media and assume everyone else is too! So I am going to keep it brief today. I invite you to spend some quiet time thinking about what a Beacon of Hope means to you and how you engage with your own resilience.
I’ve recently realised, that the ways I have been working with my clients over the telephone seem to have something in common. In the first session I am purposefully checking out whether they have a solid foundation. This is also the way that I work with Trauma support. Due to this time of Lockdown, Social Distancing and Isolation, it seems to me that we are all currently in a place that may feel like we’re caught up in the wind and blown about a bit, then entrapped and stuck, then settle into a solid resting place, but then another gust comes along and we’re taken off again. Much of this can feel out of our control and very unsettling when hearing all the sad stories of people losing their lives and the constant loss and tragedy that surrounds the news.
It is really important to know how to be grounded yourself. Know what makes you feel safe and secure. Identify with who that may be as people, animals, special places etc. This relates to emotional, physical and spiritual groundedness. We can quite quickly feel more ‘settled down’ by sitting on the ground and rubbing feet into the ground. The solidness of well rooted sturdy trees and old ancient buildings that have weathered a few storms are really excellent to lean upon. The gentle sensory mindfulness in nature that I practice is wonderful at soothing raised alertness, so I wholeheartedly recommend that too. Spend some time knowing that you are feeling grounded and it is much easier to take yourself into that familiar place when life throws up a blustery wind.
Much love – Claire x
Sometimes we hold onto past experiences and tuck them away somewhere quiet, but they can become a bit tangled up with each other. Counselling can really help look at these things and make better sense of them. When we gain insight and understanding this is the first step towards feeling much better and more able to move forward. I offer a non-judgmental and empathic environment, a safe place to explore and find new ways forward. Counselling in my studio at home, or Equine-assisted Therapy & Wellbeing at Dove Retreat from April through to October.
Bright Heart ‘Nurture your Heart’ experiences and ‘Listening to Your Inner Voice’ workshops available April – October at Dove Retreat with Native ponies in Nature
Hope – Desire – Intention: Welcome them with open heart into your life. Let them settle, in the solid ground of your Soul. Breathe them in, during your quiet times of rest. This is when you can give them full attention and give them a place to grow.
Notice the thoughts that distract your attention, those worries that change your mood. Imagine you are sat in your most favourite place in the wild, held by nature and all your favorite creatures around you. Picture in your mind’s eye that you have a special bag sat in your lap, reach inside and gently take out a delicate bubble, give each bubble the name of a worry. Stretch our your arm and release it into the fresh breeze. Down by your feet you have a wicker basket full of seeds. They may be flowers or plants or trees. These are the seeds of your hope, desire and intention, take a handful and scatter them all around you, watch as they drift in the warm breeze, then sit down and notice as they start to grow. Enjoy the connection. ‘Never lose hope my dear heart, miracles dwell in the invisible’. Rumi
With Self-compassion we are being gentle and kind to ourselves, if some of those worries need different attention, imagine you have a box beside you and place those worries in the box for keeping to be shared with the right support. You can bury the box outside of your special place, take a walk and find the place that feels right for you. You can return at any time to give them the attention they need.
With love and warm wishes – Claire x
A few months ago we planted some new trees, four golden aspen and a willow tree, unfortunately last week I noticed that the bark around the base of each of them had been nibbled by rabbits! We had put up rails and stock wire around them to stop the ponies getting to them, but I had forgotten the tree guards.
Before I go any further I am going to share a decision that I made this morning, that is I am going to write as I think, in a bit of a backwards and forwards fashion. You know, when you’re trying to make sense of something and you are pondering about it and different thoughts come in? Well if I try to write like an experienced writer I will be here all day, lose my thread and the feel of where I want to get with it….and my daughter Grace isn’t at home to edit for me, so here goes. (Grace, I still need a hand sometimes though x)
So last week I put up tree guards (as well as having the wire fencing) but have been feeling a sense of sorrow and guilt for letting the trees down. Every other day I wander over to them and ask the universe for a blessing that they are given the strength to grow strong. I stroke their branches, conveying my heart felt intention and hope through touch. These winter sunrises shine bright light on us as I go through this little ritual and I welcome the sun light as love and healing from the universe being channeled through my caring stroke.
Earlier this morning I had risen whilst it was dark to read another few chapters of my current book of interest. At the moment this happens to be Coyote Medicine by Lewis Mehl-Madrona. Coyote is said to be mischievous and powerful, and encourages people to test boundaries, to challenge and be true to oneself, even if that means rocking the boat al little. By no coincidence my supervision session this week brought up the theme of a person following their Soul rather than their personality, to bring richer life fulfillment. So after daybreak I go to feed the ponies and check them. I was going off across the girls’ paddock to get their hay and calling Cookie to join Pixie. Cookie was walking slowly and I watched her carefully to check if she was ok or lame. No concerns there, and I wandered up to where I had left Summer eating from her bucket. It was a few moments walk on my own and I realised how much I was enjoying the fact that I was doing exactly all that I wanted to do, I was totally in charge of my decisions and feeling complete. I was looking at Summer who had started to amble towards me, then I looked over at the boys and saw Tonto watching us. I realised that whilst in this current time I had got to a stage where I could make my own decisions, but had a strong sense of looking back on my younger Self and connected with her. Younger me who would wait for direction, as to think, feel and act. I felt a sense of how that ‘old way’ has travelled with me over the years, stepping into some present moments, with me seeking direction from another. I shuddered as I brought myself back into the present moment and I had reached Summer. We met and I did the usual thing of tickling her behind the ear and saying good morning. She sighed out and then stretched her legs and started to pee. I wanted to pee too! I felt her take away that old memory tension of waiting for someone to tell me how to be. I thanked her and smiled with gratitude. I knew in my heart that the way forward for me was to follow my soul more and put up a boundary from the past habits. A conscious effort to stay on track. The boundary, the barrier, the….and as I walked over to my trees with their Rabbit Proof Fence, thoughts, memories, words crossing over in my head and my heart, I was reminded of the film and pictured the Aboriginal women tapping their sticks on the ground for their children to be guided home along the fence line. This is one of the most moving films to watch, I always sink into the depth of it with quiet respect and reverence. Tears have often moved whilst watching it and I am reminded of this powerful trust of faith in the spiritual connection, from the movie, now playing in my mind’s eye, as I walk to the trees. I walk to my trees and stroke the dangly branches of the willow, asking the universe to heal this tree, whilst I picture the tree healthy, like the one in the other paddock. I stop for a while and contemplate the trees’ rabbit proof fence here, and what was going on, linking me to the film, and it came to me that I can watch a film 10 times and take 10 different ‘observations’ from it, so to stop thinking and just accept what I was feeling in this moment of now. Freedom and a spiritual connection that seemed to help me stand as tall as I am.
I looked around, a pigeon was sat very still nearby. four blackbirds were quite brave scurrying around for food, and I crow jiggled around behind the pigeon.
“Hello Crow! Are you my coyote today?” I asked with a grin. “Are you challenging me or just cheeky?”
The doves were now flying all around us and I chatted with them too using my own soft dove language. I thanked them for listening and carrying my loving intentions in the breeze, to the directions that they needed to go in. I have released the guilt of not protecting the trees earlier, as this is not an energy that I want to hold on to. I welcome new teachers and guides in my life and put trust in the fact that some lessons are learnt through challenge and loss but to be able to see the gain will be growth too.
I have put a respectful ‘extra’ tree guard in place for myself. Honouring younger me with love. I make sense.