Come to the Bleddfa Centre on Saturday 12th October for Finding Silence, a day retreat based on the book of that name by Bleddfa’s founder, James Roose-Evans.
From now until the retreat day, I will be featuring excerpts from James’s book. I hope you will find in it, as I have done, a medicine for the soul in busy and stressful times. Let it take you on a different journey…
The good news is, I don’t actually have to choose between List A and List B. They’re both part of what I am as a human being – surprise, surprise! How hard is it for us to accept that!
What a relief to be able to look at the second list and say, ‘Yes, I’m all of this, too’ – just not all the time. And to say, ‘Yes, I can be the stuff in the first list – just not all the time.’ It’s enough to accept that I’m a work in progress.
Accepting the ‘shadow’ side of myself gives me a more honest and authentic place on which to stand and relate to myself and others. I can relax from the fear of ‘getting it wrong’. Of course I’ll get it wrong. But this isn’t a fixed state to be judged by – just part of the flow. So when I look in the inner mirror, I don’t have to ‘breathe in’, metaphorically. I can say hello to my own self, just as I am, and start from there.
So I just invite you to let yourself off the hook from being perfect, and whatever it means to be ‘right’, and just be content to be human. It’s a very good, honest starting point for being more at ease with yourself and others. Good things follow!
Does it feel open, as if one of many colours would be OK?
Or does it feel heavy with consequences, win or lose?
Do you find it difficult to make some decisions, especially big ones?
Do you get worried you will upset someone or get their disapproval by choosing to do (or not do) a particular thing?
Do you find it difficult to know what you really want?
Do you worry about making the ‘wrong’ choice?
If so, you will know how it feels to keep revolving the choices round and round in your head without finding an answer.
Believe me, there is a way to find out and actively choose what is really best for you. It comes from inside of you, and if it is right for you, it will be right for everyone else around you.
It took me a long time in my life to realise this. I would reach a inner sense of peace that a decision felt ‘right’ for me, but then it would be assailed by another part of me that simply feared ‘I will get this wrong’, looking outside, to other people who cared about me, society – or even God himself – to have the ultimate judgement on whether I was doing the right thing or not. And I often felt frozen and trapped in this pincer.
If you recognise any of this, I would like to tell you this:
Focusing helps you leave behind these choppy seas, where your boat is being tossed by every wind and wave that comes its way. It helps you drop anchor deep within yourself and enables you to explore clearly what are the real choices and what they mean to you. Focusing helps you connect with ALL the parts of you involved in the decision – those that want something, and those that are frightened of wanting or taking it, as well as those that are practical about it. You will be able to listen to all of them and honour all parts of the equation, whatever you eventually decide. And the part of you that fears ‘the wrong choice’ will feel a bit – maybe even a lot – safer.
Focusing really can help you find a way through this place of being stuck. Find a new freedom! Call me on 07795 324575 to find out more.
Focusing is not just about being with the more difficult emotions we feel, but allowing the full sense of our positive emotions to be present to us. Take time, when something good happens in the day, to let it arrive in you.
Have trouble getting to sleep? Wake up in the night with things going round and round in your head?
Are you doing the proper sleep hygiene – turning off mobile devices, not drinking alcohol, before bed, and STILL lying awake?
Focusing can help with that.
Focusing can help with the over-active part of your brain that wants to keep on thinking the worry-thoughts (or planning-thoughts or To-Do-Thoughts) over and over again. It does this by connecting with the Worried, Planning or To-Doing part of yourself that is driving your brain to keep going through the night trying to resolve the unresolvable. From a place of Self-in-Presence (our calm centre) we can help your hyped-up brain to let go, go to sleep to do the real work it needs to do while we recharge our batteries.
With my clients I use and teach a helpful sleep technique which was developed by my supervisor, but Ann Weiser Cornell also does an excellent sleep audio recording, which I thoroughly recommend to help you slip off into slumber. It’s comfortingly called Soothing Restful Sleep and you can try it HERE
Like mindfulness, Focusing can help you feel connected and grounded in your own being. Do you take your lead, your nourishment, your sense of what to do and what to like, your sense of what kind of person you need to be – do you take this from others? Or are you not sure how to be and what to do?
Focusing can help anchor you to your own ground. Then you’ll find you begin to know better who you really are.
Focusing is simply being able to tune in to yourself.
With a radio set, you have tune in to the station you want to hear. There are lots of other stations asking for your attention. And if there is too much noise going on outside, like the TV being on, it’s harder to listen in. Once you’re tuned in, you can really give your attention to the programme you want to hear.
Focusing is similar. It’s tuning in to something, only this is something inside of you, something about you you’ve not really been attending to very much.
Think about it. Even as you’re sitting (or standing!) consciously reading this, there are other things going on for the whole person of ‘You’: your body is balancing where you are sitting, you are breathing, smelling scents in the air as you do so; you are hearing background noise – but you’ve probably blocked most of that out in order to concentrate on reading.
There’s maybe other stuff you may not have noticed. There may be a pressured feeling about the time, knowing you’ve got other things to do. You may be feeling uncomfortable about something someone said to you, and it’s there in the background nagging away at you somewhere. You might be about to go on holiday, and there’s an inward excitement making it difficult to concentrate. You’re not actively noticing them; you would have to tune in more consciously in order to do so.
Focus is actively noticing lots of things like this that you normally don’t engage with; sometimes that you don’t want to engage with. What happens is that if you try to block these out or ignore them or just not notice them at all, they don’t go away. They’ll be back, if not now, another time. And sometimes, this can become troublesome, building up into other felt symptoms like stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, indecisiveness, a feeling of your life being un-lived the way you long for it to be.
If you haven’t been listening, part of you might feel it has to shout!
If you learn Focusing, it will help you – really help you – to come alongside these feelings and help them shift into somewhere they – and, as it happens, you, too – would like them to go. You don’t have to steel yourself into trying to do better, or fix yourself, or pull yourself up by your own boot strings. With Focusing, you can just learn to tune in with compassion to whatever part of yourself needs that attention right now. And then wait, and see where it wants to go…
I lost someone I loved very much back in 2013, and it completely knocked the stuffing out of me. My beloved ‘aunt’ Monica had lived with my husband and me until she got cancer and died 18 months later. The pain of her loss was unbelievable, and I can still feel it keenly now. Back in 2015 I was with my counselling supervisor and was talking about the dreadful feelings of regret I had about things I’d done or not done in the last months of her life. She invited me to Focus on what I was feeling inside, to stay with that uncomfortable feeling of grieving, instead of what I had been doing – getting away from it in busy-ness.
As I Focused inwardly, trying to just be with that feeling instead of turning away from it, I suddenly had an image that I was standing on broken glass: it was so vivid I could almost feel it crunching under my feet. I looked down and saw with surprise that it was thin panes of glass all jumbled together on top of one another. That made no sense, but slowly I realised I was standing in the ruins of a greenhouse. My tears flowed freely at this, because my aunt loved gardening, and had been our ‘head gardener’ with us at our house. Here was a greenhouse in ruins: what better picture of the desolation I felt?
But then, as if in a little prompt, something in me said, ‘But a greenhouse can be rebuilt’. Something about that just settled within me. Still in this Focusing session, inside my inner being, with my eyes still shut, I looked up and saw through the broken frame of the greenhouse a dilapidated walled garden, and I knew it was waiting for me to work on it. Monica cannot be brought back. But a greenhouse can be rebuilt, and a garden can be regrown.
I called it my ‘garden of regrets’. Every one of my painful regrets about Monica has found a place in this garden, and has been transformed. That incident with the perfume is represented at the centre of the garden by the most beautifully-scented roses; the regret about Christmas is represented by a tall, stately Noble Fir tree planted in the far left corner, and two variegate standard holly trees; the tears she was unable to shed and those which I shed for her are there in the weeping willow tree, and the little stream winding around its feet feeds into the orangery where there are now strange exotic and beautiful plants I have never seen before, which I have certainly not planted myself. In my garden of remembrance, Monica comes from time to time, and I’ve sometimes seen her there. I take it she has brought them here. There is a lovely summer house constructed out of branches with a spirit urn for cups of tea, and an apron of decking surrounded by flowers. When I want to I can go and sometimes I can sit and talk to her there; other times I sit alone. By a swing seat there is a statue of St Francis with a fawn. There are many other things in my (our) garden of remembrance, each one helping me turn a regret into a memorial. It is a refuge I can go to whenever I feel grief: a comfort and a consolation.
Focusing gave me this lovely, healing image. I am sharing this deeply personal experience with you because I want you to see a little of what Focusing can bring into your life: an inner place that is capable of bringing peace and resolution to the most difficult and seemingly unresolvable feelings.