Lighting up the Darkness
I guess there will always be items of world news that touch us on a more personal level. All events that lead to loss of lives elicit compassionate thoughts in us, whether through Earth disasters or man-made tragedies. But if we have a connection to a place or a people then we feel the shock more acutely.
This morning I awoke to the news that there had been a terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. As I have great affection for this beautiful and friendly country, my heart sank.
As a newly married couple my then husband and I spent a year or so in New Zealand through his work. Ten years ago I had the pleasure of returning and spending a month travelling around with my eldest son and two young friends. I noticed then that the country had become much more multi-cultural. For me, it added to the charm and diversity of this already special place.
The knowledge that the pervasive hate that has infected other places has festered in this tolerant, warm-hearted country is shocking. And that it should happen in Christchurch – which has seen so much devastation from natural causes – is almost incomprehensible.
And so it was that, heart-heavy and with a head full of ‘why?’, I went out for my morning amble with Finn. The greyness of the day after another wet night simply added to my mood. The queue of about 20 people outside the Dr’s surgery, waiting for it to open, piled more feelings of hopelessness on top of my gloom. There is so much sickness in our world – physical, mental and spiritual. Not to mention political and financial. Sometimes it can be hard to see the hope amongst the despair.
At one point I glanced up as the sun came through the clouds briefly. As I noticed the light, a passing dog walker smiled a cheery ‘Good morning’. Our dogs greeted each other in typically friendly fashion, going about their business of simply enjoying each moment as it presents itself. Two other dog owners smiled at me. Then I turned the corner into the centre of our small town. There in the greyness of the day, vibrant splashes of colour caught my attention.
There is a pond in this public space that is filled with goldfish. I noticed during the winter that someone keeps it clear of ice and feeds the fish. The local Brightlingsea in Bloom team have added bedding plants all around the edge of the pond. Blossom from a nearby tree has been blown across the pond and it looks quite lovely.
Further along there is more evidence of the gardening teams’ gift to the community. Large tubs of Spring beauty and swathes of daffodils in the War Memorial garden right in the centre of town.
I am thankful that there are such people in the world. That during the darkest Winter months they are meeting and planning the yearly display. Planting and growing the flowers that will give much joy and delight to residents and visitors to the town alike. No doubt drawing up the rota for volunteers who will tend and maintain them throughout the Spring and Summer. So many people giving of their time, skill and experience to make our local world a better place. The collective effort of like-minded folk making such a difference to the town.
I recalled another, smaller, oasis of delight in a different part town. Down near the old shipyard is a small outside space, fenced in and visible as I walk though a back alley to get to the marina. For years I have noticed that someone (who maybe works in the shed here?) grows an amazing variety of vegetables and flowers. I have never seen anyone working in this patch which adds to the sense of magic that it evokes. The obvious care and dedication behind the cultivation of this dark little corner of an otherwise unlovely part of town sums up, for me, the indomitable spirit of humankind. Beauty can be imagined, created and cultivated anywhere.
My feelings on returning from my walk this morning were sadness and compassion for those caught up in the madness of events in New Zealand, yes. Most definitely, I feel shock and am sending so many prayers around to the other side of our planet in my own way. Feeling helpless but also knowing that every loving thought adds to those already being sent and does have an effect.
It’s too early to look for seeds of recovery amongst the devastation. But they will be there, I am sure. They will be discernible in the way New Zealand as a country will come together. In the acts of kindness and care that neighbour will show neighbour, regardless of race, culture or religion. In the way this resilient community will cope.
And I trust and hope that the indomitably good-hearted Spirit of the New Zealand nation will prevail. Despite the determination of darker forces to cause despair and ugliness in this Heavenly corner of our wonderful planet.
24th February 2019 - Don't Quit Before the Magic Happens (Note to Self!)
As I set up my new therapy practice after my recent move there are lots of tasks and admin that need to be organised and completed. One of the biggest is to go through the process required in order to offer acupuncture to clients. For various personal reasons I drifted away from practising acupuncture a few years ago. Although I have continued to use acupressure especially in reflexology treatments. And my studies in Chinese philosophy and Taoism have remained a cherished guide for me in striving to live a balanced life.
I’ve missed acupuncture being part of my healing treatment ‘Menu’ and really look forward to bringing the fine needles and their energy-affecting ability back into my approach.
But, wow, it’s a long process….! It involves getting licenced with the local council to use needles. This means form-filling, fee-paying and undergoing an inspection of my premises. I will have to source and arrange a waste disposal service to supply a sharps bin and collect it regularly. Then there are the actual needles to consider. My stock was out of date so I am considering suppliers and sizes, gauges etc. Luckily my acupuncture practising friends are more than happy to advise on this so I can make an informed decision.
There is also the matter of a professional body to apply to for membership. Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine is a complex system and I feel it’s important to have the support of a professional organisation for advice and guidance regarding ethics, continuing professional development etc. This is another long process as I need all the above plus an emergency First Aid certificate to meet the criteria. So, I have just undertaken a St John’s Ambulance course – which is useful to have in the rest of my life!
Another aspect is to refresh my knowledge and skills. Reading, discussing with friends, allowing all my experience and learning to rise to the forefront of my focus. I recall one of my tutors reassuring me during student clinic (Year 4) that all the information was in there after 3 years hard study. All I had to do was relax and let it come through. Funnily enough, an acupuncture friend said the same thing recently. It’s as if Rob (our tutor who sadly died and left us far too soon last year) was nudging me, through my friend James, to do the same thing now.
However, there have been moments when I have thought….is it worth it? All the form-filling, fees and general faffing. Then I remind myself that it is a process, that there is an desired outcome – and that is that I will be able to offer the safest and most professional acupuncture treatments possible. That more people will be able to access this incredible approach to health and well-being. That my treatment practice will feel whole again – its missing therapy once more on the ‘Menu’.
It can be a bit like this with some people trying acupuncture (or any holistic therapy)…wondering if it’s worth investing in a whole course of treatments as recommended by the practitioner. It all takes time and money – resources that are in short supply for many of us.
Our Western approach to health is so different from the Eastern one. Ours is mostly about symptom relieving (pharmaceuticals, for eg) – often we don’t consider the possible root cause of illness, be it emotional, physical, or indeed, spiritual. Whereas the Eastern model is focused on correcting the energy imbalance and then keeping the ‘qi’ flowing so that issues don’t build up. We are considered part of a greater whole (nature, the cosmos) and need to learn to live in harmony with that in order to optimise wellness. To have regular acupuncture, reflexology or whatever therapy does this for the individual, can help maintain health. It very much focuses on prevention rather than trying to cure.
I have had clients in the past who come along for one session and don’t get instant relief from the issue they want resolved. So they don’t book in for the course I might recommend. I have done the same thing myself many years ago before I learned about the Eastern approach. We are conditioned to think that holistic therapies are either mumbo jumbo or are a miracle cure! In my experience they are healing processes. Energy needs to be freed up, unblocked or nourished in order for our symptoms to subside. Then we need to keep the life force flowing so the symptoms don’t return. And this can take time. Most of us wouldn’t take one antibiotic tablet and expect it to do the job. It requires a commitment to take the whole course prescribed.
How does this relate to the process for setting up my acupuncture treatments? Well, it’s the same process in a way. I want to offer the most comprehensive, holistic and professional therapy practice that my experience and skills allow. But certain energy ‘blocks’ have built up since I last practised which prevent me. My First Aid certificate has expired, I have no professional organisation membership. I also have energy ‘depletion’ –ie no needles! All this can be resolved – it just takes commitment on my part to keep the outcome in mind and…well, keep on keeping on! Trusting that it will all work out if I just keep working towards my goal. Step by step. I will feel more complete as a therapist. My clients who would like to try acupuncture will benefit. Of course, there are more blockages or obstacles that might pop up along the way. I will deal with them as they arise.
The time it is taking is a commitment. The same one that a client makes when putting aside time to attend an appointment for therapy with me and to do so again and again for the suggested course of treatments. It is a commitment to try another way, a different approach. To learn new perspectives on health and well-being. And, mostly, clients feel the positive changes when they make this commitment.
The cost is certainly a consideration for me – it soon mounts up. As it is for any client of mine who commits to a course of treatment. However, I believe that a financial commitment can help the healing process. To take our health seriously enough to spend money on it is a massive change in perspective for some folk, with all sorts of implications and benefits. Oh, and for the record, I have a sliding scale of fees and will never turn somebody away from my therapy room without discussing alternative options for payment, if they seriously want to change their circumstances.
Ultimately, with my process, I trust that the outcome (being able to practise acupuncture) is worth the effort of making the commitment. My clients, similarly, learn to trust the therapy session and that it’s worth making the commitment to themselves to try more of it to see how much change can happen. What a journey this is for my clients. And I consider it an honour to be a part of their healing process.
So what is best for me, as a holistic health professional, is best for my client. Of course! We are all inextricably linked, as The Tao suggests. Mysteriously, energetically and profoundly all part of the same whole.
16th January 2019 - Jewels Beneath My Feet
As mentioned elsewhere on this site, I take a lot of inspiration from nature. It reassures and comforts me that, just as the seasons turn, so will the Wheel of the Fortune of my life. The tide always turns, Spring always arrives and every season has its purpose. I take a lot of photos of nature - trying to capture that inspiration so that it may soothe me in needful moments, maybe.
The photo above was taken during one of our autumnal walks in the woods in West Sussex. I particularly love the colours of the autumn leaves and I thought they looked like jewels beneath my feet. There is amber and gold, garnet and ruby, citrine and emerald hues.
This got me to musing about the twists and turns that occur on my journey through life. And along that path, experiences and events that may be chaotic or uncomfortable when they occur, over time become the jewels of understanding: they help me grow and much insight is to be gained, if I am willing to look closely.
Fallen leaves become the nutrient-rich compost for nature to regenerate. Before that and for a brief spell every autumn, they provide a dazzling display for us to marvel at.
I guess that life's tough times could be viewed the same way. Not always, perhaps. Some horrors occur that are simply too difficult to see the lessons contained within. Other challenges though, once viewed from the emotional distance that time allows, can be seen within the bigger picture of our spiritual journey.
In my life, like in nature, there is a reason some things happen, a pattern and a cycle to be experienced. Then, like the blaze of nature's autumn persona, the lesson appears in full technicolour. If I'm lucky, I have a 'eureka' moment, a flash of clarity. I marvel at the perfection of it! Whatever I have gleaned gets added to my collected insights. Becoming, if you like, the spiritual, nutrient-rich compost which helps me continue to grow towards the best version of me.