It doesn’t always have to be hard!
Sometimes life makes it really obvious which themes and knots need special attention, as we find ourselves surrounded by challenges, blocks or frustrations. These are often signs that something in us urgently wants looking at, and that it’s time to set out on a journey of healing. This might be a good time for a process.
But that’s not the only way of growing. Growing doesn’t necessarily have to mean you have to “walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting”, to quote one of my favourite poems, Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. Sometimes it’s about listening to the quiet voices inside, tapping into wisdom and nourishment which is already there, giving your creative impulses room to spread their wings.
These gentle and wild voices inside us are speaking all the time, calling out for us to listen, soften, pause, expand. Like a secret garden, we often ignore them and only notice when everything has got out of hand. Perhaps, without meaning to, we even create crisis so that these hidden aspects get some attention. Consciously tending to this inner garden once in a while, then, can be a way of growing without waiting for disaster as a catalyst.
So as well as my work during challenging times or supporting you to tend to old wounds, here are three ways that I offer support for ‘inner gardening’…
Dreaming has long fascinated humankind. It feels evident and intuitive to most people that our dreams have meaning, but their message is rarely clear, and can sometimes even be very confusing. The bridge between dreaming and waking worlds seems often to dissolve as soon as we have crossed it, and the huge wisdom which is held in dreams is usually lost.
Over the last few years, I have developed a practice of connecting with the gold in my dreams using embodied Gestalt techniques. I have been amazed at what has come to light; it is as if the parts of the dream I remember are just the trailer, and dreamwork gives me access to the full-length film, often deeply moving and full of insight.
The key is in the bridge between both worlds. If you try to interpret the dream, you are usually using waking consciousness, and can only hazard a guess. It’s like trying to use a translation robot to understand what a great teacher is saying in another language. You might get some of the meaning, but most will be lost. While “stagnant water” may be a fairly universal sign for stagnant energy, many symbols or situations will have a very individual meaning in your psyche and can’t be interpreted by an outsider or a lexicon…
In embodied Gestalt work, you are encouraged to go back onto the bridge between dreaming and waking consciousness, and to identify with the images and symbols of your dreams from a place which is not simply mind, but also body and emotion. Rather than thinking about the dream, you become the dream, slipping into the various roles of the people, but also the significant-feeling objects and places in the dream – or even the obviously absent or missing elements. These are all seen as representing parts of you, and what is interesting is the relationships between them.
If you would like support in harvesting the insights of your dreams, I offer occasional or one-off dreamwork sessions. Feel free to contact me when you have had a dream which you would like to work on, and I will support you to explore the meaning of your dream and teach you how to do this alone. If you wish to work with our dreams by yourself, here’s a suggestion how.
Another way of letting your inner garden flourish to is to regularly add the rich compost of ceremony and celebration. Ritual – conscious marking of special moments in life – is a wonderful fertiliser for the inner world. It allows connection with higher purpose, the here and now, and your inner forces. Pausing to take a deep breathe in the fast-flowing stream of experience, we can re-align, re-finding our purpose and sense of belonging.
One way of doing this which is universal and independent of the beliefs you may or may not hold, is to consciously mark the changing seasons as they appear in your local environment. There are many local traditions linked to these, consciously connecting with and thanking the plants growing at the time, the seasons, the weather, the animals, and the phases of moon, sun and earth. Although these are elements with much myth and mystery attached to them, they are also real and natural elements of our home.
Connecting to the natural and cyclical world can be an antidote to the impossible and unnatural pressures of the harder-faster-more mentality of our modern world. Recognising the inherent cycles of birth, growth, shine and decline in all natural things helps us recognise the actual nature of life, as this healthy pattern repeats itself in projects, relationships, phases. We can learn patience, trust in the constant change, hope, joy in the abundance, and satisfaction, grief and gratitude with the passing of things.
To support with this alignment, I offer coaching sessions on or around the 8 seasonal festivals which are celebrated in the modern remembrance of the Celtic tradition. These are the solstices and equinoxes, as well as on the quarter-days between them, so roughly every six weeks. This is a spacious session for enquiring into what is alive inside you at this time, clarifying intentions and listening to what is needed, with the opportunity to devise your own ritual if you wish. Contact me at any time of the year for a seasonal session!
Being: a Journal
I have also created a 2019 journal to support a regular practice of alignment with natural rhythms. It can be used either as a diary or as a reflective journal, and reminds its owner of the natural phases of moon and sun with questions to encourage inner enquiry and aligned outer action. With it, you can set aside time for reflection and gratitude, and set clear intentions to foster over the course of the month, taking time to review and celebrate before setting a new intention. For images or to order one, see here.