Why are ‘old’ friends so important?

Good friends are just so valuable, aren’t they?!

A much-loved friend of ours, who we haven’t seen in way-too-long, came to stay the night last Friday… and didn’t leave until Monday morning!

Don’t you just love how that can happen?

The original plan was for a catch-up and to show him our new place, but it ended up being a whole weekend of laughs, reminiscing and creating wonderful new memories to treasure.

This got me wondering – what is it about ‘old’ friends that makes them so special?  New friendships are great, but there’s a precious extra dimension to being with someone that you’ve known for years…

I think that, particularly as we get older, it’s nice to have friends that we’ve known for years, who are still in our lives.  It gives us a sense of connection, both to each other and to the past – our past – a shared history.  And if that history involves lots of silly antics and ‘foolish’ things that we might not do now, but can laugh at the memories, all the better.

Human beings are a social species.  We are wired for connection.  Our brains naturally seek patterns, making comparisons and looking for similarities.  Having a shared interest can bring us together and help us to create lasting bonds.

I think too, that the world is ever changing, and as the pace of that change seems to be speeding up, we can easily feel that we are being left behind.  It can be comforting to have friends of the same vintage who share a similar framework of memories, for example the music of the 80’s, fashion trends and major news stories.

TV programmes and things that we learnt at school can also be common frames of reference.  I was travelling home on the train yesterday and heard a conversation behind me between a woman and the man selling refreshments from the trolley.  She told him that he had arrived at just the right time as she was half-way through her journey and really fancied a cup of tea.  He replied that it was ‘Kismet’ that he had come along to serve her at that moment, but she was unfamiliar with this word or its historical reference.

Having ‘old’ friends is like being part of a ‘school gang’ – you can use your own ‘in’ vocabulary, talking in a kind of short-hand, because you know the other(s) will get what you’re talking about.  This also separates you from those who are ‘outside’ the gang – those who are ‘other’ – helping to give you that important sense of belonging.

Having a friend who’s known you since your younger days, and sharing a history of fun times, silliness and various life events, gives us that ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’.  If some of these stories are mildly embarrassing, even better!

But it’s not just about the good times.  Friendships are tested and strengthened by going through challenging times together.  Here too, it is sometimes good to know that we don’t have to explain ourselves.  The other person immediately knows and understands.  With new friends we might have to tell the story again, or choose to keep it to ourselves, but an ‘old’ friend gets it because they were there with us and felt our pain right alongside us.

We are becoming much more aware of the importance of friendships for our health and wellbeing.  I recently read an article which said that:

“Loneliness is as big a mortality risk as diabetes.  Research links social isolation to dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression and a 29% greater risk of dying. … recent research shows the quality of friendships also helps keep us alive…”

www.theguardian.com

So, treasure your ‘old’ friends.  If you haven’t seen them in a while, call them up and reconnect.  The internet is a great tool for this as we now have Facebook, Messenger, Skype, Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp and all the other wonderful ways that we can stay in touch.

Share the memories and the laughs – so simple to do and so good for our souls!

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It’s Healing Awareness Week!

Apologies that my blog is a little late this week.  It was a very busy week with appointments and also preparing for a bespoke 1:1 workshop yesterday on Energy Healing for animals.  It was perfect timing to be offering this as today marks the start of Healing Awareness Week!

Energy Healing is a topic that is very close to my heart as it has been a huge part of my journey, particularly over the last 10 years or so.

I had reached a stage in my life where I was feeling miserable, lost and alone.  At first, I didn’t even realise this because I had cut myself off from my feelings as a kind of coping strategy.  I suppose this worked for a while, but I soon realised that if things didn’t change, I was going to make myself ill.

I started reading and looking around for ways to make things better.  Initially I was looking for external ‘fixes’, but I quickly discovered that these weren’t really addressing the deep need within me.  I continued exploring, as if following a trail of breadcrumbs, just going from one step to the next, seeing where it would lead me.

The first course I found was Reiki Level I.  Suddenly I felt that I had found a path that resonated for me!  It gave me a renewed sense of hope and direction and also of purpose – that I could develop the tools I needed for myself, but also that I might be able to offer this to others too.

I went on to complete Level II, and from there to studying with the Healing Trust.  This training covered a wide range of wellbeing related topics, including anatomy and physiology, the energy of colour and techniques for releasing old hurts and traumas.  I completed my case studies and sat the exam and after 2 years of learning and practice I became a qualified Healer Member of the Trust.

Alongside this I was working on my personal development and exploring how I would like to use these newly developed skills.  My journey was reconnecting me with my love of Nature and animals and so I went on to study healing of animals – initially small animals and later a specialism in equine healing – with Liz Whiter of the Healing Animals Organisation.

This has been a wonder-full journey full of deep challenges, incredible experiences and amazing people and animals.  I have learnt so much and met such inspiring individuals!

I have gone on to add further tools to my kit, but working with Energy still underpins all that I do.

I would define healing as:

“regaining balance of mind, body and / or emotions.  It complements conventional medicine by treating the whole being.”

It is:

  • A completely natural form of therapy
  • Deeply relaxing
  • Non-invasive
  • Complementary to conventional treatment
  • Holistic

It stimulates the body’s own healing processes by supporting:

  • the immune system
  • cell repair
  • detoxification
  • enzyme function
  • oxygen uptake
  • absorption of nutrients
  • wound repair
  • pain relief
  • balancing
  • release of endorphins
  • a sense of wellbeing and calm

Have you ever had a session of Energy Healing?  If not, I can recommend it as a great way to relax and recharge, and to enable your body to enter its ‘Rest and Repair’ mode.

If you have any questions about Healing, or you’d just like to know a bit more, then please get in touch:

Stress Awareness Month – part 2

When we’re feeling stressed, the first thing to remember is just to Breathe!

Breathing is so important! Obviously it keeps us alive… but more than that, it gives feedback to the body on how stressed or calm we are. 

When we pay attention to our breath, just observing it and noticing how deep/shallow & slow/rapid it is, this will give us information on how our body is feeling .

Also, become aware of any tension in your breathing.

Once we spot any signs of stress or tension, we can start to act on the feedback loop by choosing to take slower, deeper breaths, just as if we were feeling calm and relaxed.

This sends the signal to every cell in your body that it’s ok, we’re safe, and so it begins to let go of the tension and enter a state of greater calm.

This has many wonderful benefits for our health and wellbeing.

For a start, it gives us some space to connect with our inner selves and our needs and priorities.

Another source of stress for many people is comparing themselves to others.
But in reality there is no comparison.

You are unique.
And so are they.

When we make comparisons we are generally hard on ourselves and judge ourselves as being ‘less’ in some way.

Anyway, we don’t know the full story of the other person’s life. We can only see the surface and what they choose to show publicly. We might be unaware of their struggles and fears. 

Equally, when we label another as inferior, this often comes from an inner sense of ‘lack’ in ourselves, leaving us wanting to boost our sense of worth. But maintaining this is stressful.

What we really need to do is go within and connect with the part of us that knows we are worthy, we are valued, we are loved and loveable.

In order to do this, spending some time alone, without external noise and distractions, is important.

So, if you’re experiencing:
– stress and overwhelm 
– anxiety and depression 
– exhaustion and fatigue 
– a lack of energy 
– feelings of being lost or stuck
– chronic ill health that just won’t shift

I can help.

Together we can trace back to the root cause of the issue, in order for you to be able to address it directly. This helps to free the body’s own healing processes to work much more effectively so that you can get back to balance and wellbeing.

Call me today for a no-obligation chat to find out more about how we could work together to enable you to create the life you long for.

Guest Blog: Ready for Spring

By Paula Carnell: Creating a Buzz About Health

To wake up listening to birdsong is truly a magical experience and something that, having always lived in the countryside, I could too easily take for granted.

This year, spring seems to have come all of a sudden and surprised us all with the sunshine and the warm, sunny, longer days.

Since working with Bees, my awareness and appreciation of the natural cycle in the order of things has changed. I used to dread the long dark nights of autumn. October, November and December would be very difficult months for me. With my birthday in November, what I would do is always organise a big party; a big celebration to distract from the depression that would set in as the days grew shorter.

After spending seven long years of my forties in bed and wheelchair bound, I had to learn to appreciate the small things in life: a blue tit sitting on my bedroom window ledge; watching spiders weaving webs in the roof lantern above my bed; and watching the bees from the hive I could see through the bedroom window.

Recovery has taught me to appreciate the small things, every day, and not to take wellness or health for granted. We are all merely a breath away from disease or disability.

I’ve learned that the winter months, as for the bees, are my rest time. They are my chance for hibernation and the time for my body to heal. After a busy season with long summer days where I’m enjoying every ounce of daylight, either with work or play, I then need the long winter nights to sleep.

Back in February we suddenly had warm days which were getting longer, and I didn’t feel ready. It felt too early to be busy with Bees. They were awakening with the sunshine, and the plants were slowly awakening too, but were they quick enough for the bees? Was there enough food for them? I wondered about us: had we had enough time to rest and recuperate before another busy summer?

A bee research project found that healthy bees in a colony that is lined with propolis and filled with honey, spend the majority of their time resting.

So, when we say ‘busy as a bee’, we are not referring to them being busy all the time, but just when they need to be busy, pollinating flowers, collecting nectar or building wax comb. The rest of the time they are together in the hive doing nothing, maybe Meditating?

In contrast, an unhealthy hive which has its honey taken away and replaced with sugar syrup, (lacking the trace minerals essential for healthy life), this colony spends none of its time resting.

The bees emerge from the cocoons and begin a busy race for survival. Each of the phases of life is shortened and sped up: cleaning their cells as they emerge; nursing the new bees; and, finally, whilst still immature, they begin their foraging flights to collect nectar and pollen for the rest of the colony.

These bees, living a life shortened by almost half, are found shivering and twitching with their wings in tatters exhausted from life without rest.

This behaviour is caused by the toxins that the bees are exposed to. A cocktail of insecticides and pesticides and environmental poisons sprayed on our plants, leeched into our soil, drawn up by the flowers and given to the bees through the nectar and pollen. These toxins are then deposited in the honey or used to make the wax cells that they lay their eggs in.

Keeping their colony at a constant 35° ensures that the vapours from these toxins vaporises, allowing the bees to inhale this man-made mix of poison from the moment they emerge.

These toxic fumes affect the nervous system, preventing the bees from pausing between each nerve impulse. Each cell in their body is constantly bombarded with stimulation. Without these important pauses, the muscles are exhausted, the brain is exhausted, no organ in the body has been able to repair itself which it can only do during rest and sleep.

Could we be seeing parallels in our own lives?

What if the same poisons we use on our land and in our homes to keep us pest free, have now poisoned the water we drink and the air we breathe, and are now affecting our own nervous systems, pressurising us to work and play hard, not to rest or meditate.

We haven’t yet reached the ‘silent spring’ that biologist Rachel Carson wrote about in the 1960s. I can still hear birds and I do have bees in my garden, but there are places in the world where insects are scarce, and birds are scarcer. As we dispose of unwanted nature are we slowly disposing of ourselves?

As we have this respite from winter with bright sunshine, clear skies and dry feet, let’s use it to enjoy nature and to care for the wildlife around us, using this time to nurture ourselves and the environment we live in. Should more of winter return, let’s use that time to rest so that when we have the longer days and we need more work to be done, we have the energy reserves, and the strength to make the world a better place.


Bio

Paula’s book ‘Artist to Bees’ was published in February 2019 and is available from her website and local independent bookshops. www.paulacarnell.com

Paula Carnell was born in Dorset, England and has spent much of her adult life living in Castle Cary Somerset. Forming ‘Possi’ in 1990 as part of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust’ scheme, she soon had a successful enterprise selling her original paintings on silk, and printed greeting cards of her work in over seven hundred shops across the UK and exporting to eleven countries worldwide. Opening a gallery in Castle Cary in 1995 established her as a familiar face in the town, until she ‘retired’ from retail in 2004 and focused on her personal painting career. Exhibiting in London and the USA, Paula was fulfilling her dream as a globe travelling artist. Then in 2008, she began to fall ill, becoming bed and wheelchair bound with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in 2009. The following seven years were spent on a personal quest to find meaning in life, transforming from an artist to a bee speaker. Achieving a full recovery in 2016, she is studying as a medical herbalist with the IRCH, runs her business ‘Creating a Buzz about Health’, working as a Global beekeeping consultant, writer and speaker. She lives in Castle Cary with her husband Greg and three sons.

Invitation!

This week’s blog is a little bit different, as it is an invitation to an event that I’ll be hosting next month.

Having moved to Wales at the end of last year, I’m very excited to be relaunching Equenergy with an Open Day to showcase our new site
on the Blorenge, near Abergavenny!

Equenergy has been offering Health and Wellbeing therapies and coaching to people and animals for several years now and as soon as I saw this new site, I fell in love with the space, and knew that it was perfect for expanding my practice.

I’m passionate about supporting individuals in their journey towards creating a life of greater wellbeing and joy. I do this by:

  • holding a space where they can reconnect with Nature
  • focusing on getting back in touch with their inner wisdom and balance in order to live in a way that feels authentic and true.

This is what gives us that sense of peace, integrity and congruence that allows us to feel comfortable in our own skin.

What will you get from the Open Day?

It’s a chance to come and experience a little of what I offer.  There will be the opportunity to

  • have a Reiki taster,
  • go on a tour of the site (my work is all about nature and feel, so there will be a walk around the woods and fields, and also the chance to see the room I use for sessions and workshops)
  • see the horses (one of the sessions I offer is to experience mindfulness in the presence of these amazing animals.  I also offer wellbeing sessions for animals, primarily horses, and equine massage)

Who is this Open Day for?

I work primarily, but not exclusively, with women, focusing on those who are experiencing stress, overwhelm and / or chronic health conditions.  I also support those who are feeling lost; those who, on the surface, have a good life, but who have a sense that something is missing and they don’t know how to ‘make it better’.  Together we explore ways to reconnect with our inner wisdom, our emotions and the information and direction that they offer, in order to create a life of more fulfilment and joy.

I also work with animals – of any shape and size, though my main passion is horses and so this open day is also aimed at anyone who cares for an animal and would like to explore ways to support their health and wellbeing, and ways to develop an even deeper relationship and connection.

What will you come away with?

This Open Day is to give you a greater understanding of what I offer and how this support people and animals to feel more in tune with who they really are, to live congruently and with authenticity in order to feel comfortable in their own skin and to experience a greater sense of inner peace and ease.

It’s also the chance to have some time-out for yourself, to experience the peace and healing stillness of this place, and to have a taster of Reiki with me.

Date:
Saturday 23 March

Time:
10.00am – 3.00pm

Venue:
Equenergy, Rose Cottage, Oak Lane, Llanellen NP7 9LD

*Entry is free and there is some space for parking available on site.

NB: Please be aware that there are steep slopes and stony / muddy areas at the venue and so it might not be suitable for those with limited mobility. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me (details below).

If you would like to take the tour of the new site, it is advisable to bring strong, waterproof footwear, and clothes suitable for the weather on the day.

I will be publishing a full programme shortly.

You can book tickets through Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact me at:

  • robyn@equenergy.com
  • 07980669303
  • or through my website

I hope you can come along. It would be great to see you!

“I don’t want to feel this way any more!”

I came across a post on Facebook the other day that shared a wonderful TED Talk given by Susan David (The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage). That, and some conversations I’ve had recently, got me thinking about why I do what I do.

Susan grew up in South Africa during apartheid which affected her deeply. I spent my childhood in Belfast at the height of The Troubles and while I was fortunate not to see some of the worst of the fighting, it was an ever present background that coloured my younger years. Perhaps that’s why I am so passionate about getting in touch with our feelings and learning how to work with them in a positive and creative way.

One of the lasting memories of my time in Northern Ireland is the banner that used to hang across the City Hall which read ‘Belfast Says No!’. That spoke volumes to me of the rigidity of people’s thinking and the lack of openness that was keeping so many trapped in their fear and pain.

And I think this is just as true on an individual level.

In her talk, Susan says that she has come across so many people who say they don’t want to carry on feeling the way they do. They are referring to emotions such as anger, sadness, disappointment and fear. But Susan believes that these are ‘dead people’s goals‘ because only people who have died no longer feel these emotions.

We generally live in a society that pushes for a positive outlook and has little time for what it has come to label ‘negative’ emotions. (See my earlier blog series: ‘Positive thinking – is it always a good thing?’) I think this has forced many people into feeling that they have to play a particular role, and to disconnecting from their true feelings, causing a part of them to ‘die’ inside. From this place we can easily feel lost, overwhelmed and hopeless.

Susan talks about the women who are told that they ‘shouldn’t’ feel angry, or the person who’s been diagnosed with cancer being told to ‘just stay positive’. And of course there are the commonly held beliefs such as ‘boys don’t cry‘. But what does this do to someone who is feeling angry, or who is reeling from hearing that they have a potentially life-limiting illness? And how are boys – and men – supposed to deal with feelings of hurt and loss? This creates a society of individuals who feel unheard, unseen and forced to wear an uncomfortable and ill-fitting mask, just to be accepted.

So what happens to the real feelings? Do they go away?

No, they just get pushed down, go underground, where they grow and fester.

And we can start to use outside things to cover them up – or push them down and keep them buried – eg food, alcohol, busy-ness and other ‘addictions’.

But deep down, our body still knows that all is not well. E-motions are meant to flow. The word itself gives us a clue to the fact that these feelings are energy in motion. They are there for a reason – they are our barometer; our guide to what is working for us and what isn’t; data that we can use to find our way to a life of joy and wellbeing. In an ideal world we would explore these emotions and process the data they offer in order to make the choices that best serve us. But when we push the feelings down, when we haven’t developed the tools to learn from them and grow, then they get stuck, magnify and lead to dis-ease.

I heard, just yesterday, about a friend of a friend, who is living a life of chronic anxiety. Even when there is nothing immediately obvious for her to worry about, it’s as if she has to find something to fret over. She has become so accustomed to this way of being and her body craves the adrenaline and the energy it brings, but her health is suffering and she’s no longer able to cope with many of the things that she used to do, including her work. Even just leaving the house has become an ordeal for her.

I believe that this happens when we don’t face the truth of what we’re feeling. For a while we can get by behind the mask, but as Susan says in her talk, it’s not sustainable. Like one of those stress balls, we might be able to push our feelings down in one place, but they will generally then surface somewhere else.

As I said above, our feelings serve a purpose. Not only do they give us valuable information but they can be our motivation to make things better.

I think that a large part of the problem is that society labels our feelings and conditions us into certain expectations of behaviour and conduct. However emotions are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they just are. You feel how you feel. It’s what you do with those feelings that’s important. If we could stop beating ourselves up when we feel certain emotions then a large part of their hold over us would be gone. Instead we could choose to look at things from a more objective viewpoint and with the perspective of a beginner’s curiosity.

We need to start by exploring the nature of the feeling. Giving a name to the emotion – being as accurate and un-dramatic as we can – is the first step in developing Emotional Intelligence. When we do this, we know exactly what it is that we’re dealing with which helps us to move on to the next step…

What is going on behind the feeling?

  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • What triggered this feeling?
  • Is there an unmet need here?
  • What resources can I draw on to meet that need?

We can use journaling, somatic dialogue (tuning in to a part of the body and asking it about how it’s feeling and what it might be holding), art, movement and other techniques to explore the many layers of our being in order to tune in to our inner wisdom.

This can be a very empowering process but with that comes responsibility. We need to be conscious in the way that we use this new knowledge about ourselves. The aim is to show up with authenticity, integrity and even vulnerability and to allow and encourage others to do the same. (You might like to explore Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg for further ideas on this.)

If you are someone who has wanted the painful feelings to stop, or you feel that you’re wearing a mask, and you feel ready to explore a different way, then please get in touch. I’m very happy to have a no obligation chat to discuss ways that you can tap in to all the wonderful resources that you hold within yourself.