Leave stress behind

Here’s how:

When we are anxious or stressed, our whole system ramps up its alert mode, and we find it difficult if not impossible to relax. We respond by being busy and distracting ourselves, which is fine until we want to go to sleep, when, as soon as we put our head on the pillow – or when we wake up in the middle of the night – all the things we have tried to avoid thinking about come back to us in full force, and we don’t have the energy to stop them.

We think that if we stop being busy we will instead be faced with the things we are worrying about. 

Two things here:

  • It is certainly not good to ruminate on the things that are worrying – letting them go round and round in our heads without getting anywhere. This can increase our worry and make us feel even more stressed because we now have something we can’t solve but we can’t stop trying to solve either – that’s hard work!
  • It is not actually helpful to ignore the worry either, because it’s like a bubble in wallpaper – it will only come back somewhere else.

But how do you deal with it without it becoming overwhelming?

You can tackle the worries head on, and rationally. But you’ve already tried that, I guess. Here are  two good ways out of the worry trap that are a bit more gentle:

  • Instead of concentrating on the thing you are worried about, look at the part of you inside that is doing the worrying: what does that look like? Not the worry, frustration, anger, anxiety – but the part that gets triggered into those things. Maybe a tight, tangled ball, or maybe a small worried child. Ann Wieser Cornell suggests you could try saying Hello to that part of you that is worried. If you say Hello to someone, even if you don’t know them, they will probably look back at you. If you say hello to the something in you that is worried (not to the worry but the part of you that holds it) you may find it feels better: suddenly, it’s not alone.  
  • Find the silence. You may be wary of silence, because you think it creates a space to let in all the things you worry about. But the silence is like deep-sea diving. The surface of the sea can be choppy, with crashing waves and floating debris, but beneath the surface, you are in calm water. You can learn to go through the place in you where you worry about various things, and into a different, deeper place where it is much more calm.

As with anything worthwhile, both of these take practice. If you think I can help, call me on

07795 324575

and book a session (with no further obligation) to see what you think. 

You can also join me online in a reflective reading and silent meditation – details here

Letting go of the strings

On Thursday 8th October 1000, join me for a FREE ONLINE hour of reflection and silent meditation...

…and find out:

How do you settle to yourself, when you are caught up, anxious, worried or fretting about many things?

Here is a favourite image of mine:

Picture yourself holding on with each hand to many strings. Each string is attached to something that demands your attention: things needing to be done, a recent argument, a sense of the world’s environmental troubles, the continuing lockdown, worry about catching Covid 19, difficult finances, debt, relationship troubles…. you get the picture. Just get a sense of all these attachments and how they pull at you.

Now, you’re going to put them down.

Imagine laying them on the floor beside you. If there’s anything you really want to keep hold of, that’s fine. But everything else, just lay the strings down carefully – and this is the important bit – knowing you are going to pick them up again when you are ready. You’re not running away from them, distracting yourself or trying to throw them away. You may have already found that doesn’t always help What you are going to do is allow yourself to lay them down safely for a while.

NOW. Now there is just you for a moment. And, now, just take your seat in this moment of time, this moment when you can just give your attention to ‘you’.

Take a deep breath and sigh. And let the moment last as long as you want. The strings will be there waiting when you are ready. But hopefully, you will be better able to hold them lightly when you pick them up again.

1000 Thursday 8th October: join me for a FREE ONLINE hour of reflection and silent meditation.

Email me elizabethjhalls @ gmail.com (just remove the gaps)
and I’ll send you the link.

Anxiety

Feeling stressed and anxious is nature’s survival mechanism. If you think about it, an animal wandering around in the wild without worry is likely to be a dead animal pretty soon.

In our normal, peaceful environment, humans’ hyper-sensitive stress mechanism does not need to be activated very often, and works properly without us noticing it much; but sometimes it gets out of hand and stays on a permanent ‘on’ setting, seemingly without a ‘real’ cause.

Then, instead of it giving us the adrenalin boost we need to hit the ground running with something specific that is happening to us now, it gives us a constant background anxiety that causes us to worry about and anticipate events that could happen in the future. But as we can’t actually deal with them until they happen, this anxious energy just stays around in the system, and that is not a nice feeling. The future is not in our direct control, so that causes us to worry even more. It’s is a vicious cycle

If you suffer from over-anxiety, the good news is that you can learn to respond differently.

For help with anxiety, stress or worry, please call me on 07795 324575, or use my contact form

Who are you?

I have been exploring with a client what it means to feel wholly present in an action and in the moment of it. This might be a good description of Maslow’s ‘Self-actualisation’, which the great Carl Rogers saw as ‘the curative force in psychotherapy – man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities…the urge to express and activate all the capacities…of the self’.

Ponder this for a moment. Are there times when you feel this for yourself, or sense it in others? When you feel in tune with yourself, others, or with a sense of place?

It might be when someone:

*cooks food with a sort of alchemic magic

*is wholly absorbed in their gardening

*responds to children with real connection, or finds a creative way to explain to them something they couldn’t understand before

*solves a dispute by some calm way of standing with and between both sides

*finds the funny thing to say that’s not sarcastic or hurtful

*trains and bonds as one with cats, dogs – or horses, as in agility or dressage

*takes an engine apart and puts it together again with an almost-intuitive understanding of what was wrong

*paints or sculpts or writes a poem that captures an essence of something

*feels completely at one with the spirit of a particular place

*listens to a piece of music or plays a musical instrument with soul, heart, mind engaged (“You are the music while the music lasts”[1]),

*runs, cycles, swims, hang-glides, skates with innate ease

*or just feels totally relaxed in the moment

and all of these being felt with a sense of freedom, connection, joy, laughter.  And what might be a chore for one could be joy for another: uniquely an expression and experiencing of them as a whole person, apart from anyone else. This is different from just being good at something, and is not competitive. It is not about being the best. Nor does it define a person – it is just an outward living flow of them at that moment. It is a moment of integration between the essence of a person and them living it in life.

In the film, Chariots of Fire, Eric Lidl says, ‘God made me, and he made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.’ Whether or not you believe in God is immaterial in sensing the unity between Lidl’s running and the essence of him engaged in that.

So what stops you from allowing your Self to be present in your outer life? I guess fear, and that can have many tentacles, one of which is the fear of self-indulgence. But to be more yourself means that you have more of yourself to give to others.

[1] T.S.Eliot, in The Dry Salvagesfrom The Four Quartets

Going with the ebb and flow

Today’s “Finding Silence” meditation (Free online meditation sessions) was about the sense of the ebb and flow of time and how our natural response is to try and control it. James Roose-Evans says, ‘We have to learn how to co-operate with time and destiny, allowing life to shape us rather than trying to shape life to our own ends…Wisdom is to be found by living in harmony with the flow of things rather than trying to control events’

There is an ebb and flow to the universe; an ebb and flow to the life of the planet earth; an ebb and flow to the seasons, days, hours, minutes; an ebb and flow to the life of mankind, an ebb and flow to my own life. Can I work and live with that flow, rather than trying to control it or stop it?

The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for peace and a time for war; a time to embrace and a time not to embrace.

Here in the Coronavirus pandemic, it is a time not to embrace!  And in lockdown, how do I live co-operatively with this part of the ebb and flow of it? Can I allow life to shape me? And the answer is, I’m learning, every day, and it is happening, every day. 

If you are struggling with this lockdown time, and find it isn’t easy to adapt to the time, don’t suffer in silence.

Contact me for a chat to see how I can help.

The Lonely Place

Jesus told his disciples to ‘come away to a lonely place and rest a while.’ In the fourth of my extracts from James Roose-Evans’ book: Finding Silence, James invites us to adventure into aloneness:

“…Loneliness is essential to the human condition and each of us has to learn how to come to terms with it. Learning to Meditate is part of this process. I think it was the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, one of those who brought Buddhism to the West, who said that meditation should be boring – as boring as possible. Because only in intense boredom are all our habitual responses and concepts dissolved. The mind has a terror of boredom and loneliness for it suspects that by means of such an intense experience another level of reality may be reached that will threaten its pretensions. And so, rather than face monotony, boredom and loneliness, we fill up every conceivable hour with activity in order to prop up our fragile sense of identity and imagined usefulness. Social, domestic, professional, sensual and trivial activities crowd out the possibility of any empty spaces within us, or of an encounter, like that of Jacob, with a dark angel who has come to wound us so that we may be healed. We are so impatient for activity that we do not know how to contain our restlessness within a nave of silence….

“…And so those words of St Augustine continue to resound across the centuries: ‘Thou, O lord, hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.’…

“…Paradoxically it is those who have learned to be alone with their aloneness who draw others to them. The Desert Fathers, the holy men and women of India in their caves and ashrams, Mother Julian in her cell in Norwich, Pere de Foucauld in the desert, Abhishiktananda in his cave at Arunachala, the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus in their cells in city and country, all ermits and achorites everywhere, and many ordinary people, speak to our society in a way that is urgently needed. Solitary in their caves, alone with the Alone, they draw us gently to our true home as surely as migrating birds return to the place of their origin.”

Saturday 12th October is a time for you to step out of the bustle and find silence at my one-day retreat, based on James Roose-Evans book, at the Bleddfa Centre. Moreancient-antique-architectural-design-2407761 here

To read more of this chapter and the rest of Finding Silence, you can buy it from Amazon, or at the Bleddfa Centre.

Space for meditation

In the third of my extracts from James Roose-Evans’ book: Finding Silence, James offers a picture for us to ponder:

In meditating we become aware of an inner space that is vibrant with life. It is as though in the deepest part of us there is a whitewashed room with a window in each of the four walls, looking out on the Aegean seas. This cool space is empty yet full of light and the gentle stirring of the breezes bearing the scent of cedars and herbs. I think of a painting I have by Sheila O’Beney, on which I often meditate. It is in the style of a Paul Klee: a series of squares in delicate mauves, blues and greys. Two thirds of the way down, however, there is a white, unpainted square: an empty space. The painting is called ‘Space for meditation.’ It is this space that we enter each time we start our meditation.’

Saturday 12th October is a time for you to step out of the bustle and find silence at my one-day retreat, based on James Roose-Evans book, at the Bleddfa Centre. More here

To read more of this chapter and the rest of Finding Silence, you can buy it from Amazon, or at the Bleddfa Centre.

Focusing: A Way In – Saturday 21st September

Places are filling up nicely for my next workshop: ‘Focusing: A Way In’, on 21st September.

But is not too late to book your place

I am very excited about the day and all that I want to share and explore with you about this wonderful way of working with the whole person.

I draw on the work of Eugene Gendlin, Carl Rogers and Ann Weiser Cornell

  • Discover how to help clients notice and hold in the moment their felt sense of something – and stay with that process.
  • Help them to untangle from the thing that troubles them the emotional state that arises in response – and be with that.
  • Above all, help them move into the place within themselves where they can be with all of this – with self-care and compassion rather than self-judgment.

More details and booking information 

or contact me
by phone

07795 324575

email: (please type without spaces)

elizabethjhalls @ gmail.com

Cost:

£50 including lunch and refreshments

Timing

9.30 am coffee/registration, finish 4.00 pm

Venue

The Breast Cancer Haven building, 37 St Owen’s Street, Hereford HR 1 2JB

Plenty of nearby parking.

CPD attendance certificates available (6 hours)

 

 

The Open-Eyed Meditation

In the second of my extracts from James Roose-Evans’ book: Finding Silence, James offers a way that enables us to stay inwardly connected in the outward world.

It was for one extremely busy man who worked in the Foreign Office that, he says:

‘I devised what I have come to call The Open-Eyed Meditation…I suggested that he take the words ‘Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us’ and say them mentally, over and over, while keeping his eyes open as he walked to get the train in the morning, being aware of his surroundings, of the other people travelling on the train; aware of animals, buildings, the quality of light, of the weather, knowing that God is in everything.

To busy to be. Photo by Jose Martin Ramirez

And then at intervals throughout the day, perhaps when dealing with a difficult colleague, that he keep repeating these words mentally. While nurturing our inner flame we need also to look with open eyes at everything; not only at the outer world but also at our prejudices, our animosities, our judgmental attitudes toward others, our resistances, our laziness, to see how egoistic most of us are, how we manipulate others to get our way.

‘Looking in but looking out. So many of us dash through each day without stopping to look about us: to observe the pigeon on the railway platform scrabbling for crumbs, the tired woman in front of us returning home after a night shift, or a fractious child: for all the world is my neighbour. We are all involved. It is no good shutting our eyes twice a day in meditation if it is regarded as a retreat from the reality that is all around us.’

Saturday 12th October is a time for you to step out of the bustle and find silence at my one-day retreat, based on James Roose-Evans book, at the Bleddfa Centre. More here

To read more of this chapter and the rest of Finding Silence, you can buy it from Amazon, or at the Bleddfa Centre.