I wanted to share a fragment of the lyrics of a song by Sarah Quartel called Wide open spaces. Her words made me think of how being in wide open spaces can make us aware of the spaces in us and how we might like to fill them…
Into the world now, look at me go
out in the wide open spaces around me
but as I journey out, I look within
and see the spaces inside of me
yet to be filled
filled with what I have seen
and what I will be
I am filling the wide open spaces inside of me
with something I love
with something I would like to be
filling the wide open spaces with in me.
So many of us have experienced devastating loss of one kind or another over the past few months.
Reading is one of my great pleasures and I have just finished a great ‘true story’ by Raynor Winn.
The Salt Path is an account of how two people manage to carve out a new (if difficult and challenging) life in the face of terminal illness and total loss of material wealth. I defy anyone not to be moved and inspired by her tale.
As someone who likes to spend some time alone, I have been reflecting on the difference between aloneness and loneliness. My own experience is that being alone can nourish, while feeling lonely can be isolating and devastating. We are currently in the middle of loneliness awareness week and the Marmalade Trust are encouraging us all to think more about the impact loneliness may be having on people in our communities. Every conversation we have about our own experience of loneliness is one less lonely voice.
If you are interested in finding out more in how we can tackle loneliness visit marmalade trust.org
I am lucky; in fiveteen minutes I can walk to some of the most beautiful stretches of Cornish coast. Sometimes simply staring out to sea helps with wider contemplation, it opens the mind. Other times, I find I can loose myself in the alternative universe that exists in the rock pools. I really recommend rock pooling. It is totally absorbing. The more you look, the more you see. The delicate and unique balance between the organisms in each pool reminds us of the importance of connectivity and inter-dependance for all life. Take the snakelocks anenomes in the picture above. They are given their green colour by the tiny algae living within their cells. Life supporting life.
If you can’t physically get to a rock pool – why not find out more about the fascinating animals and plants that inhabit them online. I especially love Heather Buttivant’s website and blog – cornishrockpools.com
I would like to use this post to signpost you to the BBC Spring Watch series that is available to view via the BBC iplayer. The annual series has watched spring unfold as usual, while sensitively placing our understanding and appreciation of nature unfurling in the context of the Corona Virus. It has showcased many features on the science behind why being immersed in nature is so beneficial for our mental health, as well as some beautiful, presenterless films, shot to highlight the meditative qualities that being in the natural world can gift us.
Next week it is mental health awareness week (18th -24th of May 2020) and the focus is on the power and potential of kindness.
You may find it helpful to take a look at the Mental Health Foundation website – http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk where you will find thoughts, ideas and lots of free resources to help you look after yourself. There is an especially useful page on coping with feelings that may be arising due to Covid 19.
With in the theme of kindness, the foundation are also encouraging us to consider how our mental health is collectively formed – and they are suggesting that it may be fruitful ‘to use the week to explore the sort of society we would like to emerge from the coronavirus’.
Like many people, my plans have all been thrown up in the air by the lockdown. My sabbatical from the Fire Service has been put on hold and I have been moved to a new station. My counselling teaching has been suspended as has the work I was doing in schools and at the Dreadnought centre.
I am having to find new ways to work and to connect with people. I am available to work with clients using technology – Zoom, Skype or phone call sessions each have advantages that I had not previously realised. As a counsellor, I am concerned about peoples mental health during these difficult times and I am pleased to discover there are new ways I can work to continue supporting clients.
Like most people, my life has been thrown up in the air by the chaos being caused by the Corona Virus. We are all held in suspense, waiting to see how we land. I hope we can try to remain calm over the coming months, which no doubt hold many testing difficulties for us all. Looking out for others and striving to be collectively kind can only help in situations such as this. No one can survive alone – we are all in this together.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to signpost to the Headspace website – which is currently offering free meditation resources to try to help people cope with the crisis. While meditating can’t take the situation away, it may help us to keep a sense of perspective and connection to others, during this bewildering and uncertain time.
The benefits to our mental health that can be gained from spending time outside in nature are well documented. Studies have shown that contact with natural environments can help with depression and anxiety as well as contributing to our over all well being.
With this in mind, I have been determined to continue to make the most of our beautiful Cornish landscape, despite the recent stormy weather. Horizontal rain and storm force winds have made my usual coastal haunts more dramatic, but less than comfortable. Often I have sought shelter from more protected inland options- with the benefit of discovering some great new places. A lesson from nature that difficulty can sometimes lead to change.
Thank you for looking at my website and welcome to the first of my blog posts. I intend to use this space to talk about aspects of my life that are especially relevant to my work as a therapist. It is also my intention to highlight and signpost topical and cultural points of interest relating to all areas of mental health.
So…here goes. This week I have arranged to take a sabbatical from my post as a Fire fighter with Cornwall Fire and Rescue service, starting at the end of March. This is an exciting time for me, as it is going to give me more time to concentrate on my counselling work. I am also really looking forward to starting teaching the new level 2 counselling skills course at Camborne College, beginning on February 26th.
Thanks again for reading and I hope you will look again soon. My next posts will feature some pictures taken by the photographer Annie Bungeroth, in keeping with some thoughts on the benefits for our mental well being of getting outside into nature.