Growth

Trees and stress reliefWalking amongst the trees to observe their seasonal change and growth was the one thing I really looked forward to during the second lockdown here in Victoria. These trees were planted many years ago and the park is part of a precinct that now includes an art gallery and a library. The trees were most likely planted by some settlers of Irish origin who took up farming in the area who may not have envisaged the growth of the urban sprawl that has since happened.

I have a fascination with how things grow. From germinating seeds to seeing the growth of people when they have had a coaching or hypnotherapy session and have resolved a long term issue.

The metaphor of the seed, that it just knows – given the right conditions – how to germinate. The wind may blow a seed many kilometres away from where the tree stands, but if the soil is fertile and there is enough water and nutrients to  nourish it –  it will flourish and reward us with its growth.  Some seeds may lie dormant in the soil for many years, waiting for the right conditions to germinate.

So too with us humans…. we can wait until the conditions are suitable until we nurture the seed of a thought and allow it to grow, nourished by curiosity and a belief that anything is possible.

 

Art for Art’s sake

find yourself in artCreating a work of art…. how often have you heard (or even told yourself) someone say that they are not creative or they are “no good at art”?

Let me tell you a secret………

You don’t have to be an accomplished artist or proficient in techniques to create a work of art. Doing an “art activity” is more than creating an artistic masterpiece. The act of creating an image engages the kinaesthetic as we move pens/pencils/brushes; the visual as we choose colours and shapes; and perhaps even the auditory senses as we hear our chosen implements move across canvas or paper.

Take a mandala or a picture from one of those popular colouring books. I have given these out in workshops and am always delighted to see such variation in colours and textures from the same pattern given to everyone.  Some chose to create their work of art with many colours, others with just a few and some made a bold statement by using a black fineliner.  Each one was a work of art in its own way, because while the participant was creating and getting in touch with their inner artist, they lost their conscious filters as they engaged in mindfulness. Many were surprised at how the time had flown past, demonstrating that they had entered into an altered state of consciousness where time had no meaning.

I have an upcoming stress management workshop that I will be putting online and it will incorporate an “art activity” as a precursor to the inner work to be done on identifying stressors.  Keep an eye out for the announcement of the online course!

Art Therapy

How can Art Therapy help in our current times?  But what if I’m not “good” at art or “don’t have an artistic background”.  These and more questions have been asked of me in recent days. I have responded with examples of my own portfolio which demonstrates that I am not necessarily an accomplished artist. It is about the symbolic nature of what you create and bringing to your conscious mind feelings or emotions that need resolution. What you do with it later, can be either even more creative or cathartic. Art Therapy is more about the Therapy than being an accomplished artist.

Art helps with feelings of sorrow, particularly the medium of photography. It can convey the immediacy of a situation and captures – particularly in black and white – to the collective and subconscious emotions of the viewers.

Situations viewed through the photographic lens allow the viewer to simultaneously view an event whilst experiencing it as a disconnected viewer. Focus and contrast can be easily manipulated to draw the eye to a specific area. This is beneficial, in that emotion that may not have been otherwise expressed or subconsciously repressed can be brought to the fore and by the expression of same, healing can begin.

Imagination

We all have an imagination. Whether we use it creatively or destructively is ultimately up to us. Art and Music can transport us to places that allow our imagination to run free, you don’t have to be a VanGogh or Matisse to create beautiful art, even the act of colouring in a mandala in a purchased book can create beautiful images that relax our conscious minds and allow the subconscious to find solutions or a better way of doing things.

When our imagination is less than helpful by focusing on negative things  or overthinking The art of Stress Managementoutcomes, it is time to pick up a pencil, a brush or some clay and allow the subconscious mind to have a play. Likewise, we don’t have to be an accomplished musician to enjoy the benefits of music. The notes can transport us to a different time and place as the subconscious retrieves the memories of times gone by. An added benefit of being able to play an instrument is that it engages the kinaesthetic as well as the aural senses. The powerful effect that art and music have on the psyche and our wellbeing cannot be underestimated.

Grand Conjunction

Certainly a once in a lifetime experience as the Grand Conjunction of Saturn and Venus came together at the Summer Solstice. Mixed feelings as the clouds increased and the heavens opened with a heavy downpour at the very time that this Grand Conjunction of planets was to take place. As I sat there after my meditation contemplating the rain, it occurred to me that this in itself was a cleansing – particularly for Melbourne after months of lockdown.

This afternoon, in between showers, I ventured out into the garden. The light was that soft golden light that comes after the rain……. delicious! A little flash of white movement caught my eye and the tiniest butterfly alighted onto a nearby bush. I had my phone with me, and as happens so often as soon as I went to take a photo, a light breeze sprang up. I waited and then…… the planets aligned and I took the photo!

Grand Conjunction butterflySuch a delicate creature and it stayed there after I sent it some Reiki to let it know that I wasn’t a predator.

What a wonderful metaphor for this time of change! Many astrologers have predicted that this is a time of great spiritual awakening and change.

What better to represent this than a butterfly? It has spent time as a caterpillar – probably not the most attractive sight – gone into “hibernation” in its cocoon (as we did during lockdown) and emerged as this beautiful creature. Eyes wide open and antennae picking up what’s new.

Metaphysically, the butterfly is the symbolism of transformation, spiritual rebirth and we are already changing the way we live, work and play as a result of the global pandemic, political changes and a sense that we need to renew our connection with nature. It is also said that when a butterfly appears, there are angels nearby ready to help you should you ask.

So, are you still evolving in your cocoon and that’s OK as you spiritually prepare for what’s coming, or are  you ready to spread your wings after this Summer Solstice?

 

Ending and Beginning

A timely post – seeing as I haven’t posted for some time. Tonight’s Full Moon in Gemini is a time of letting go of the old to let the new come in. In Victoria we have had 100 days + of lockdown and no new COVID cases for some weeks, so we’ve certainly had time to audit what is working for us and what isn’t. A Full Moon is time for ending and beginning something new.  It’s about being aware of what we can release,  let go and what we can look forward to in the coming months. For me, it has been a time of both ending and beginning – just as Victorians ended lockdown, I began my own extended time of “lockdown” with a broken lower leg. Another 6 weeks of keeping pretty much to myself and physically restricted from moving about or driving.

I had kept myself busy during the official lockdown with my Art Therapy studies and am pleased to announce that I have completed these and will be offering some Art Therapy workshops in 2021 as well as a new Stress Management range of workshops.  A wonderful ending and beginning!

So what will I be doing later this evening as the Full Moon rises? After I’ve put my crystals out to bathe in the moonlight, I’m going to meditate and then journal on what I want to bring into fruition over the next few months. Then let go of any baggage around the last few months.

This can be as simple as taking a clean sheet of paper and writing down – in dot point or single words – what it is that no longer serves you. When your list or paper is full (& mindful of fire restrictions for your area) – set a match to it and burn it …. offering it up to the Universe to deal with. Put the cooled ashes onto your garden or a pot plant to return them to the Earth.

Once done, have a shower/take a bath/have a swim/splash water on your feet or face. This symbolically washes away the emotions that you have attributed to these things.

If you did a New Moon intention, look back over that and see what has already manifested and tick it off. In the New Year I will be running Vision Board workshops that go a little deeper and will help you to develop a regular plan to bring in abundance.

Heavens Above

We all know about Mercury Retrogrades….. things like electrical equipment go awry with no explanation….. but have you heard of Mars Retrograde? – Retrograde means to appear to go backwards. I hadn’t considered how this may have implications to our daily lives until I started to do some reading about it. The reason a Mars Retrograde isn’t more commonly known is because it doesn’t happen as regularly as the Mercury one. For instance there isn’t one at all in 2021, which could be a good thing as I think we might just be over any astrological triggers for 2020.

I’m not an astrologer, but from the articles I’ve been reading we are just about to enter a period where Mars goes retrograde. September 9th 2020 to November 13th 2020. Rather than paraphrase the articles I have read, this one seems to be the most comprehensive and includes towards the end how it affects your sun sign and your ascendant.

Against the backdrop of the Stage 4 COVID lockdown extension, I thought that this is  an interesting time to be entering into.  Social media is running hot with a myriad of views and conspiracy theories and it seems that there is a “my way or the highway” attitude to having an opinion.

The article suggests that during this Mars retrograde,

“We might stew in anger at times, not finding a direct or straightforward channel for releasing it. This is a time for really getting in touch with what we’ve been accepting on the surface of things, but that has been building inside as emotional slush.”

There are many ways to get in touch with and deal with that “emotional slush” and I have found the combination of applying Emotional Intelligence coaching with hypnotherapy to get to the root cause is the most effective way.

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The Stress Response

In these challenging times I have been able to work with several groups (online) and deliver workshops that explained the stress response and gave them tips and strategies for managing stress. After delivering these Stress Management presentations some participants have asked for copies of the slides. I have a conundrum…..to share or not to share – that is the question. There are polarizing views about this. One is if you have put up a presentation, then they are in the public domain and should be freely shared. At the other end of the spectrum the viewpoint is that the slides are secondary to the actual presentation.

Some participants are polite enough to ask if they can share with others the slides that they have saved by taking screen shots and I am grateful that they asked. With this in mind, I am going to share some of the graphics from a variety of recent presentations alongside some of the commentary I would have used.

Managing stressThe stress response is elicited when we realize that we can’t control events. When this happens, we can often start to feel anxious and this can lead to a cascade of other emotions or behaviours if we don’t have the appropriate tools and strategies to manage this response. Subconsciously our nervous system is on high alert as we look out for the risks in our environment.

Currently, many people are experiencing  fear regarding either their or a loved one’s health with the end result of the flight/fight or freeze stress response.

One of the first things I suggest is to develop a regular deep breathing session which helps to managing stressdampen down the effects of the stress response. The wearing of masks also anchors the emotion to the subconscious and it is important to spend a few moments in deep breathing after removing your mask. The next step is to acknowledge the problem and then to view it from a new perspective. By understanding the phases that we go through during times of change, we can come to a degree of acceptance. This is similar to the five stages of grief that Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote about in her groundbreaking work in 1969. Another helpful strategy is to use a Gratitude Journal. You can also follow my most recent 30 Days of Gratitude challenge on Facebook or LinkedIn – feel free to contribute what you are grateful for as well.

The stress response also causes various hormones to be released in our bodies. The most well known are adrenaline and cortisol and these are released in response to a fearful or dangerous situation. The effects of long term stress can impact upon your health – lowering your immunity, increasing blood pressure and having an impact on your digestive system.

This is why it is so important to have strategies that you can use automatically when faced with a stressful situation. Not all stress is bad. There is the flip side – eustress and when this is experienced, you get a flood of what I like to call “stress managementhappy hormones”.

By making sure you take time to look after yourself – remember when we could fly and the pre talk was about using the oxygen mask for yourself first? Meditation, being out in nature, exercise, eating healthy foods and love and laughter are all key elements how you can get these “happy hormones” and manage your stress response.

With Stage 4 restrictions still in place, Hypnotherapy and Coaching consultations are still by phone or online should you feel that you need some help in managing your stress. Reiki is also available and a distant/remote session is often useful in reducing stress.

The following form will need to be completed, along with an intake form if you are a new client and returned before your scheduled session. 2020 Teletherapy Informed Consent

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In the cards

Prompted by using a retro post for social media, I decided to take a peek at what is in the cards for me at the moment regarding my business. Covid has meant no face to face consultations and as we move to more on line interaction, some facets of business – not just mine – will change for ever. So what was in the cards for me today?

I used the same oracle card deck as before – The Ascended Masters by Doreen Virtue and drew four cards, as one fell out with the last one. The cards were:

  • Stay Focused – always an apt  card for me – ” A reminder to stay focused on your intentions, desires and priorities. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by short term situations, dramas or other people’s demands”. A timely reminder that I have been procrastinating about finishing an assignment for my current studies!!
  • Purification – this one puzzled me until I read further….”This could be a signal to purify your motives and intentions so that they are purely about service and not about fear or competition…… Or it could simply mean adjusting your life so that all of your actions are in integrity with your true beliefs”.
  • Flow of Prosperity – “Tap into your manifestation power by focusing on abundance instead of worrying about money. You have nothing to fear. A new flow of prosperity is supporting you and your loved ones.”  There’s that word “Focus” again!
  • Positive Change – “Your likes and dislikes have changed. and you’ve outgrown situations that once appealed to you. These are positive developments signalling your spiritual growth. Some of these situations are blessings in disguise, as they’re pushing you to make necessary and positive changes. You may feel pushed beyond your comfort zone in multiple areas of your life shift and flux, yet the universe always stands ready to support you  with whatever you ask for. Let go and enjoy this ride, because it is truly for the best. An additional meaning for this last card was to let go of procrastination – which certainly ties in with the earlier reminder in the cards.

Discounted

DiscountsRecently I had planned a series of workshops to offer to a local community at a heavily discounted rate to my usual hourly rate. I used the rationale that if I worked on getting discounted Emotional Intelligence sessions out into the local community during these difficult times, then I would be contributing to a grassroots movement in thinking in a more emotionally intelligent way.

Unfortunately, with an increase in COVID infections, no face to face presentations could take place, but I was still willing to offer the 6 session workshop online. I was a little disappointed to receive the news from the venue that they had got feedback from their community that the discounted price point was too high. This got me to thinking…. do people not value what is delivered online, when the preparation is as great – if not more – than a face to face presentation?

Don’t get me wrong – I do give my time freely to various charities and not for profit organizations, but when I was offering a heavily discounted rate and for it to be suggested that it was still too much…. I cancelled.

What I have to offer is worth more.  For each hour of a presentation there are 6 or more hours spent in preparation. So for a 2 hour weekly presentation, I was going to be getting around $3 per hour/ per person. When I broke the figures down like this – I realized that  I was selling myself  and my mentors short – big time. I have realized that what I was offering is worth much more and will no longer be offering discounts like this.