What does nature want for you?

A different kind of blog today.  Some pictures taken on a roadtrip inland, back from Sydney.  I had been visiting my Mum in a nursing home, her Dementia rapidly advancing.  Such special and emotional time, in a relationship that had been, well, frankly, fraught.

The trip took forever, but the landscape had something for me.

 

Miles in to miles.

 

Me and the road and the boulders.

It was an aching drive and an opening drive.

A stupidly long and boring drive.

 

More and more distance between Mum and I, yet how big she is in my heart along the lines of rust metal fences, broken down road and yellow wild flowers.

 

Slowing for each small town, a pub or a church, and letting the big country get inside, open the walls, let the breath get big. Surreal. Crazy tired. Slightly dissociated.

 

White flowers now, like fields of snow under the parched sun.

 

Past Armidale with memories of stories from Dad and his travels and onward north, to the boulders that split my heart, big from the ground, pouring the love from me and meeting it strong. Safe. Pink glow, late sun.

 

This country is in me. It’s here for me when nothing else is. It fills the spaces inside me and loves me.

 

2014 wrap and 2015 open into new

Reflect on what 2014 has brought you.  Love it & let it go.  Breathe into the new.

My season’s gift to you is a process here, to reflect on the year you’ve just had and what it’s brought you and to open deeply into the now, the new expression and new energies filtering through.

Do it with a friend or partner – it’s a chance to hear each other on a deeper level and hold space together for new intentions and emerging energies.

2014 review & 2015 open into new djp
2014 wrap – 2015 new

(click for your free program download with journal pages, video questions and meditation)

 

PART A – Video reflection questions for 2014 (6 min)

  1. What was the landscape and feeling tone of 2014?
  2. What are you most proud of?
  3. How has life delighted you this year?
  4. What are you most grateful for?
  5. What almost got the better of you this year?  How did you get yourself through it?
  6. What was bittersweet in 2014? How did that enhance your connection with what is most meaningful in your life?

PART B – Guided meditation to open into yourself and what is now emerging through you (7 min)

If you want to get straight into the video, here’s the link:

2014-2015 review and renew

PART C – Journal pages to record what you notice and choose for yourself.

Click through to download your journal pages and video links for the “Review and Renew” process.

Living tender

Modern life.  So much rush.  So much pace.  So much surface.

Tenderness can seem a luxury.  Something for another time or someone else or a special scene in a movie.

How much do you allow tenderness to move you if it happens?  You’ve really got to be ready for it, to notice and soften and receive it with your whole heart.  Let your heart go big with it.

How much tenderness do you show yourself – your tired feet, your thirst, the crick in your neck, the ache in your heart?

Practice being tender with someone near and dear.  Do it consciously.  Step outside of a pattern of logistics or being right and offer up some seeing and some tender.  Notice what happens.

Big things grow from tender places.  The way we care for tender parts determines what grows.  Get the coding right in the small whisper of hope or yearning or hurt or longing.  Listen in.  Offer a little of what’s needed.  Watch beauty grow in your life.

Living tender

So much in so little.

Transparent.

Amber heartbeat.

It’s lived through so much, been worn and washed and tossed up here and there.

Deep down below the currents, in the cold, dark, wet place, aonic whisper of something more, of warmth, of glow, of being heated through with a love that doesn’t go anywhere and cannot be escaped.

Transparent,

Pretence washed.

Trying washed.

Even hopes and dreams washed.

Transparent, but far from brittle.

Transparent, amping the sunlight through curls that see because they know; that touch gently in to tend the hurt, touch the untouchable, with such delicately filtered love.

Tiny part of the whole of the sun.  So needed right here and right now.

Extended, reaching out from the anonymity of the dark stem.

So far out.

And so beautiful in that fragile reach, at once so tender and time-worn.  Reaching into places barely there but yearning to be seen and held and fuse with the golden burn of the orb.

Burning on.  Burning through.

Flying hammocks; lifted, lighted by a breeze.  Strong in their place, in their part of it all.

by Deborah Jackson

 

 

 

 

What started your descent into love with yourself?

In my 30’s it began.

I romanced myself in the gothic bathroom of the old semi in Balmain. Jasmin grew from outside in the cracks of the rotting window sill and hung long down into my bath-tub. I lit candles. The floor was concrete, the room was big, it was a dreaming space and a sexing space. I sang made-up songs loudly with the shower steam amp on full.

I bought a big case of chalk pastels from the lovely old art supplies store and sat in bed playing with colour. Some nights I traded the chalk for paint and allowed the energy within to create shapes and colour and movement on the page, and sometimes on the bedsheets. One night I did this with a friend. We drank vodka and created an art show of woven limbs on a page that really could have exhibited anywhere.

Workshops. Journals. Books and books and books until no books had anything to add to what had woken up inside. The Hum. The every question has it’s own answer; question and answer being one, no more questions. I dreamed big dreams. I played happily in small moments. I cried and ached and dreamed again. I started a business to bring spiritual awareness to the corporate world and pounded the pavement and achieved some perhaps, a little here, a little there.

I walked down into the cliff face at the Dawn Fraser pool and sat on the rock in the middle of the amber wall and meditated, merging with the water, the trees and the old town.

I danced through many, many nights, running across the city with my heart open and heels high … heels … high and made very many new best friends.

I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and in my room I was all kinds of ill and lonely and desperate and wise and expanded. So much life inside and so much watching and waiting as the world went by over there someplace. Day turned into night, then day and night waiting endlessly for my body to fire up with energy again.

I got clear about all the things I wasn’t – I wasn’t an “ungrateful child”, I wasn’t the awkward fat one (or maybe just a little, but with all kinds of deeply sensual woman love fuelling me), I wasn’t the ambitious career woman (except when I was), I wasn’t the suburban girl, after a time I wasn’t Little Miss Inner City either, I wasn’t a hippie (although a sweet flower child resides inside), I wasn’t a push-over, whilst sometimes in desperate straits I wasn’t a desperate person, I wasn’t much of a follower … so freeing to experience and notice this, one by one.

In my 30’s I experienced wild freedom and great limitation. Somewhere, in the tension between these two forces, I fell in love with myself.

Something woke up. I touched my body as a lover would. I offered the same touch to trees I befriended (no drugs involved, honest). I looked in the mirror and it warmed and stirred me. No matter what pain or darkness followed, and it did, my primal state, the ultimate known truth, was of being in love and absolutely lit in joy and awe and wonder at the energies that moved through me.

Looking back I guess I see some kind of imperfect alchemy between expression and containment, the feminine and masculine and a burning desire for truth and wholeness.

So, I ask you, what would it take to fall in love with yourself?

Not to hate yourself, not to have a balanced view of yourself, but to let go and surrender into yourself, so that each breath beats alive with the pure joy of being you. So that you lose yourself as in a lover, but in truth fall more deeply into and through the layers of you; an open heart field through which universal energy flows. Welcome flow, river rising you to higher and higher. Expanding you way beyond places fumbling lovers touched.

You and the flow are one … and not. For the dance remains. And the dancer being danced. A delicious all that melts your field and changes what your eyes see.

What would it take?

For me it was chalk and tears, midnight and mad dancing, rising, falling, rising, falling, til it no longer mattered if I was rising or falling, or maybe a little, but the essence of me remained, the voluminous river running through, ever expanding me.

What would it take?

Some places to start.

1. Retire the tired.

Notice what is tired and old in your life, the roles you’ve outgrown, the mental habits. In the slowing down and noticing, you may find you have less energy or desire to keep it up. Notice the needs you were trying to meet in this way and hold them kindly and consciously.

2. Tune in to you.

Think about the people and places where you are most yourself. Notice how that feels in your body, how you behave and express yourself. Now imagine expanding this way of being into other areas of your life.

3. Love into the closure

Become aware of where you may suppress you true needs and desires around certain people. Take a moment to really notice and be with that. Feel into the closure, the state of protection and from this safe place, what would be the next small step towards opening. Even staying present in the dynamic, but consciously opening up your chest and your breath, connecting your belly and your breath, while the same-old, same-old is going on, will start to change things.

4. Find it and amplify it

Now let’s try the other way, think big. If you knew you would always be safe and respected and accepted, what would you like to explore, speak or play with? Be known for? If you took the essence of you-ness and turned up the volume to 100, what would that look like, who would you be with, what would you be doing, what would that feel like?

5. Never forget to breathe

With your whole body and all five senses.

 

See the article in “elephant” conscious living journal here:

 

Interview on Australia Counselling: Helping clients achieve mind-body wellness

I was recently interview by CEO of Australia Counselling, Clinton Power, about my practice.  It was great to have a chance to think carefully about who I help and how.

[hr]
Australia Counselling member Deborah Jackson is a psychologist practicing on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Deborah provides counselling services to help individuals heal through trauma, mood disorders and life crisis, to embody more of their essential self and make their true contribution to life.

In particular, she is passionate about supporting her clients in achieving mind-body wellness through a holistic approach that respects the client’s own internal wisdom.

Here’s what Deborah had to say about her counselling work when we spoke to her recently.

Tell us a bit about your practice – where it is, who you work with and the services you offer?

I work with adults who are troubled by a mood disorder or life crisis and seek to work through it using a holistic framework. My clients are seeking not just to heal through the mood issue or life crisis, but in doing so to connect a little more fully with their essential self and what wants to create in their life from that place.

My face-to-face practice is on the Gold Coast and I work via Skype anywhere the time zones line up, offering counselling and life coaching.

How did you become interested in counselling and working as a psychotherapist with mood disorders?

I have always been a big champion of the potential in people and possibilities in life. For a long while I worked in
organisations, helping people to uncover the true and needed essence of a brand or business and to deliver that through people, culture and authentic customer relationships. It involved a lot of working with business leaders and uncovering their hopes and fears, losses and secret desires to make a difference.

These are often high stress, highly competitive environments. Without the right coping skills, stress can morph into an anxiety disorder. Too much stress over too long, without enough resources or hope for change or positive sense of self can lead to depression.

Depression and anxiety disorders can get in the way of people offering up their gifts and making their best contribution to life. Seeing this, I wanted to hold a space for deep healing where people’s true self can come through and make a difference.

What do you consider a mood disorder and how would someone know if they had one?

A mood disorder reflects variations and intensity in mood that go beyond the normal ups and downs of life. Usually the person has difficulty managing stress, anxiety and low mood and this impacts their work, relationships and general health and wellbeing. For example, they may find themselves avoiding things that are important due to excessive worry or negative thinking. It also tends to have a physiological impact and may affect sleep, appetite, concentration and energy levels. Anxiety and depression are two common mood disorders.

How do you believe people overcome mood disorders?

First up, it’s important to develop skills for calming down the physiology that goes with the stress response, settling down the fight-flight-freeze response, reducing the flow of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) and allowing access to more of the whole brain, particularly the regions that help us stay in the present, to give expression to true feelings, to reason and have some flexibility and choice in the way we respond to the world.

Once in a calmer and more present state, learning how to think in a realistic rather than overly negative way, is the next step. This includes evolving the core beliefs about life and how to be in it that hold us back. Even so, difficult things happen to all of us and developing a capacity for accepting what life is calling on us to accept is also an important step towards healing. This frees us to take action on what matters most, without denying or fighting ourselves.

Cultivating our capacity for present moment awareness, including deep appreciation of the small things, can go a long way towards recalibrating neurochemistry to support calmer and more manageable mood states. Working with natural character strengths and the things that energise and light a person is also a big part of the way forward.

Tell us about your approach and why you believe the way you work is effective in helping people with mood disorders

I bring a mix of the disciplined approach that comes with psychology as a profession and also a holistic awareness, helping people to integrate their mind-body wellness and also to listen out for and act from the wisdom of their soul-self.

Tell us what a client can expect to experience in an initial counselling session with you

To feel deeply heard, understood and accepted. To get clearer about the real nature of the problem and how the issue is impacting their health and wellbeing. To receive feedback about the likely path we will take towards wellbeing. To take away something immediate – a new perspective, a tool, some feedback, some reading or a new process to try.

On a personal note, tell us something that you’re passionate about or love to do in your spare time

I’m big into photography – love to go on dates with my camera into the great outdoors and also photograph people in a way that shows them back something beautiful about who they are.

Why Do I Love Yoga? – Dee Parkinson

A colleague, friend and sacred-gifted yoga teacher shared this with me today, something she wrote whilst on a yoga retreat in Ubud.  I felt to pass it on.  How do you connect into your body and yourself?
“For me, yoga has been my medicine. In every strength, stretch, twist, squeeze, and bend of a pose, the muscular and skeletal frame of the body is shifted. Each shift enables a release of tension in the fascia of the body. Myofacial release is the core of yin yoga, and by moving this connective tissue we can release not only the hardened and knotted tissue, but also the encapsulated stresses and traumas of our past. And I am talking about the emotional “stuff” that we tend to store in our muscles and connective tissue. Everyone has had a trauma of some kind in their life. Yoga is a therapy to help heal your heart, cry out your sadness, laugh away your resentments, dance away your fears, and just allow oneself to let go.

 

Yoga is not just about getting into shape, but is more about getting into yourself, and how to be present in your body. It’s those moments while breathing into a pose or when resting between poses that your body “speaks” to you about what is really going on in your heart.

Some people exercise to lose weight. They hate doing the exercise, but hate their bodies so much that they force themselves to keep going by disconnecting from their body. This is not yoga. Yoga is about connecting with oneself on all levels and being in tune with oneself on the physical, mental and emotional levels.

This attunement is what makes the heart sing.

by Deidre Parkinson, Naturopath and yoga teacher.

 

 

Trust; how something bigger caught my tender and held it for me

Sitting at my desk, feeling tender, writing from my heart. A half unpacked suitcase sits nearby from a week ago.  The house I tidied spotlessly (rare event) before Christmas now has piles of paper and life residue everywhere.

Feeling tender and writing from that place.  It feels important, like in the time out from schedules and deadlines I’ve tapped back into that precious thing inside me that wants to create and help others do the same.

Meanwhile, my website’s crashing, admin from my client work is piling up, a throat infection is slowing me down, my new year’s ideas to hire a coach or get some marketing help have faded to the background and then a surprising thing happened.

I had a sense that I could trust the universe to hold space for me a while, that a larger consciousness had my back on this, that I could let go into something for a moment.

It’s a long time since I felt that way.

There was a younger time in my spiritual journey when I was full of talk about letting go and trusting the universe and saw it through naïve maiden’s eyes.  Life has led me on a merry dance since then, to a point where all I could trust was the moment, a spark of light inside my heart and it’s connection with light outside.  That expanded to a trust of my breath and the sense of breathing in and out with the universe as a whole.

But this sense, this practical sense, that the universe has my back on the detail and the big picture and just do what you can, what you’re most feeling for the moment, well that feels good.  Is it a new energy for 2014 I wonder?

Who or what can you trust in?  How has your sense of what trust means evolved?

It was great just now, to get the visceral reminder that I am part of a larger whole and there is some holding in that.

My tips for strengthening your sense of trust:

  1. Listen to your feelings, needs and desires and honour them, the best way you can in each moment.[spacer]
  2. When it feels hard to trust, bring it back in close to what you do trust.  Keep your awareness there, allow the feeling of that to grow through your body and to infuse your thoughts and day-dreams.[spacer]
  3. Act from this place.  The acting on it part is important, it’s the embodiment of self-trust.

Party in the sky

Glimmer, shimmer
Lying in wait.

Who knew what was there as the cars drove past.

Party in the sky,
As sunlight fills past full to festival,
and unbound sheafs tip their hats to tiny rounds
that pack a punch.
That laugh and dance and tease their luminosity.

Are you ready for me?

Neurotransmitters, talk therapy and creating a healing climate in the brain

I’m  going to a workshop in Brisbane this week facilitated by Pieter Rossouw.  Pieter is the Director of the Master of Counselling Program at the School of Psychology and the School of Social Work and Human Services at The University of Queensland. Through his research and teaching, Pieter has amassed a really helpful level of knowledge and insight into how to work with the brain to best support healing and growth.

There can sometimes be a divide in the medical and therapeutic industry between those who rush to prescribe anti-depressants and those who are “talky-touchy-feely” (or seen this way).

I sit a little to the left of centre on this one, but not all the way. SSRI’s, SNRI’s and the like have their place under certain conditions, but they are usually a long way from the whole answer.

This workshop looks at a bottom up approach to therapy where the first focus goes to down regulation of stress related neurotransmitters and neural structures and up regulation of safety triggers (oxytocin release, healthy attachment, upregulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, increased GABA release), as the foundation for talk therapy. Under these circumstances, talk therapy has been shown to be more specific in the way it impacts neural structure, than chemical interventions.*

Put simply, find ways to reduce stress that don’t rely on “thinking your way out of it” – because clear thinking is limited under stress and limited in an ongoing way with long term stress and trauma. Then find ways to increase your “feel good” chemicals and hormones – this can come from the quality of the therapeutic relationship, lifestyle changes, time in nature, natural supplements, rhythmic activity (dancing, drumming, music) healing touch, spiritual connection and anything that creates a sense of safe belonging and care.

From this point, you are much more likely to be able to take full advantage of your cognitive abilities to support change and maybe a little less likely to need them!

* (Kumari, 2006 “Do psychotherapies produce neurological effects?”).

Compassionate seeing

I was challenging myself yesterday, what do I stand for, in my work and in life?

Compassionate seeing

Care for self and other

Vision and excitement

Breathing into the one-ness of all and lighting with it …

Back to compassionate seeing, I want to explain further …

For me, compassionate seeing helps people unlock the mysteries of their lives.  This is not about “playing nice” or excuses as some tough love proponents might suggest.  It says that once we get there, to wherever that place is where there is stuckness or holding, fear or shut-down, enough compassion will melt it.

I had this demonstrated for me once and this woman continues to inspire my work – for those based in Sydney, I highly recommend Karen Daniels, should you be lucky enough to secure sessions with her for Expressive Therapies.

We can do this for ourselves, of course, this is essential.  And it is amplified when someone holds the field with and for us. Or more than one person. Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have experienced this?  Or maybe you haven’t experienced it so much in your life.  So go ahead, close your eyes, imagine what this would feel like.  Paint a vivid picture.

By my late 30’s I had learned a lot about letting go and surrendering into each moment, about being kind and accepting, allowing of myself.  But something happened when she added her seeing to my own.  There was extra focus, more energy, more space, more opening and more movement.

She stayed with the process and I did too – long enough.  Just.  Maybe.  Shit happened.  Through the turmoil and darkness, through intense subtle level experiences and initiations, through physical pain and destitution in life, through crazy alone-ness and awe-filled gratitude for the process that was unfolding within me and through me.

Karen worked in the modality of expressive therapies – this meant utilising art, movement, sound and breathing to deepen into and express inner experience.  What happened as an outcome of all this compassionate seeing, space holding, deepening, accepting and expressing … well I will see how I can share this another day, but for now let’s say it gave me a direct experiencing of Life Force moving through me in a way so rich, so powerful, so tender and so unifying …

I like to hold that space for all the people who come to see me, the possibility of this.  Perhaps even the inevitability of this, under the right conditions.

So this compassionate seeing, it’s not an airy-fairy thing.  In my view and experience it unlocks powerful energy and the direct experiencing of your true self, your divine self, Life in all its fullness.

Practice

Below is a link to a 20 min meditation practice, to open into an experience of self-compassion and to use this energy to help heal and bring ease to any aspects of self that may be feeling a little “less than”.  Also an invitation to utilise compassion to open up and support any difficult interpersonal dynamics.