Counselling and stress management in Southampton

Creative CPD for therapists

Healing reflections

What's in the driving seat?

If life is like a road or a river, would you say that unhelpful, emotion-charged thinking or calm, practical and kind awareness decides how and where you drive your car or paddle your canoe? Counselling, mindfulness and healing encounters in general have, as far as I can see, the potential to give our wonderful capacity for awareness more valuable time in the driving seat.

I love the canoe images you'll see on various pages of this site. I offer them as reminders that when awareness is in charge, when we're sitting with a sense of clarity on the front thwart of our metaphorical canoe moving through the ups and downs of life, we're more likely to find healing moments on calm and sparkling waters. These moments may give you vital resources that light up your darker places and help you make more of your life and relationships.

'See for yourself what brings
contentment, clarity and peace.
That is the path for you to follow.'
Jack Kornfield

We're in this together

My experience is that possibilities for emotional healing, from small to large and from practical to profound, wait quietly and patiently within and between us all.

Are you willing to open to these possibilities when they come knocking, sometimes quietly and sometimes with loud determination, at your door? For me, The Invitation by Oriah challenges us to embrace the richness of life, within ourselves and our relationships, with as much awareness, wisdom and compassion that we can muster, again and again, on our connected journeys.

The Invitation

Oriah Mountain Dreamer (2000) The Invitation. London: Element. [Source.]

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

‘The sense of lonely struggle
and imminent failure is replaced
with an experience of life as a
supported journey to mastery.’
Steve Biddulph

It's a journey

Does it feel like you're caught in a loop with no way out? Portia Nelson's Autobiography in Five Short Chapters and the Passengers on a Bus video remind us that when we genuinely step out on a healing journey, change really is possible. We can't predict how much things will improve and it may be challenging at times (see previous reflection), but it's a journey worth taking.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Portia Nelson (2012) There's a Hole in My Sidewalk. 35th Anniversary Edition. New York: Atria Books. [Source.]

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.