Time for Resilience

Welcome! Please read on for details on all of above…

The bad news is that trauma is a fact of life
The good news is that so is resilience.
Simply stated, resilience is the capacity we all possess to rebound from stress and the feelings of fear, helplessness and overwhelm

Peter A Levine
Founder of Somatic Experiencing
www.traumahealing.org

What a time it’s been…
I do hope you’re keeping well in a world that continues to be dominated by Covid 19.
It’s been such a challenging time. We’ve had to adapt to so many changes….in how we live, work, shop, connect with friends and family. Many of the ‘stability zones’ that kept us sane, such as meeting friends, going to the gym, the weekly yoga class or reading group, attending church, family gatherings have been severely curtailed. And of course coming out of lock-down was always going to be more tricky than going in (…now there’s an understatement!)


Amidst the ongoing confusion of spreading virus and ever-changing regulations, coming up with some kind of Autumn programme has been a challenge – many days of dithering and indecision mixed the odd moment of deep and clear thinking! I’ve been torn between the inclination to just go on lying low or to get out there and offer something that might be help with the challenges we’re all facing … a lot of soul searching has gone on and I have finally come up with a programme ….
But first I’d love you to watch a short video message which explains where I’m coming from in my offerings for the rest of the year…

Do have a listen to hear about three strands of what I’m offering to support you in nurturing your innate capacity to live with ease and vitality – even in the strangest of times!

In the video I mentioned two aspects of resilience:
1. Turning inwards to rediscover and nurture you own inner resources, and
2. Turning outwards to connect in meaningful ways with supportive and like-minded others
I’d like to emphasize that it’s not a case of either / or; we need both!
Resilience is partly, but not entirely an inside job. Human beings are wired for connection, and our first instinct in a crisis is to look for support from other human beings…..
My sincere hope is that this challenging time may be an opportunity for you to come home to what is strong and resilient in you and that you find whoever and whatever you need to support you to live with confidence and ease even in these strangest of times.

If there’s something in the above programme which grabs your interest, do get in touch with me either for more details or to book a place / make an appointment. Particularly if you’re finding the going tough and you feel the stress of these times is affecting your overall sense of well being, I’ll be happy to have a chat with you about how you might support your own resilience during this challenging time- and how I might be of help.

No one can do this work for you, but you can’t do it on your own

Peter A Levine
Founder of Somatic Experiencing
www.traumahealing.org

A little bit of research..

There is so much research these days on the benefits of Mindfulness and Yoga – I do my best to keep up myself, but usually forget to share. Here’s a link to a nice short article a friend sent me on how even 8 weeks of Mindfulness benefits the brain.
I’ll put something up soon about Yoga – lots of studies show that Yoga practice affects the brain in much the same ways as Mindfulness …enjoy!
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/

Like my new flyer?

When I posted last on June 1st I had a kind of secret intention to post something at the beginning of every month. Luck it was ‘secret’ because it didn’t happen! There is something in the pipeline – not quite ready to go…but in the meantime, I though I’d have a go at posting my new flyer.  My IT skills are limited and I’m not sure if I can just copy a Jpeg file here (I don’t really know what a jpeg is), but I’ll have a go…

Layout 1

Now that seemed to work! Pleased about that – hope you like it!

More news of summer workshops soon – watch this space….

Mindfulness and more – lots of holistic summer nourishment!

Here’s an email I send out to all on my mailing list: economy of effort, I’m hoping it will double as a post! Here goes…

Summer greetings to all!

And yes it is summer – according to Wet Eireann (Oliver Callan’s joke, not mine!) this is officially the first day of summer….
Despite the wind and rain, I hope you are enjoying a pleasant bank holiday…doing something relaxing and nourishing to recharge the batteries for the week ahead.

And speaking of relaxing, nourishing and recharging batteries, I’m happy to flag some very nourishing events coming up in June – some regular nourishment and something exciting and new – read on!

1. Some regular nourishment:

ONE DAY MINDFULNESS RETREAT
in The Wetlands Centre, Ballybay on Saturday 13 June, 10am to 4pm
As the current MBSR group finish their 8-week course, all of you who have done MBSR are welcome to join us. I’m aware that last time there were so many takers, I had to turn some of you away! I am so sorry about that…and while I’m not expecting the same demand this time, it’s not a bad idea to let me know in good time if you want to join.
Booking: You can reply to this email, or contact me on 086 8120332.
Cost: if you have done MBSR and never got to do the one-day retreat, then you are entitled to this and there’s no fee.
If you’re coming back to join us for a refresher day, you are most welcome – I suggest that you contribute €10
What to bring: As many of you know from before, I ask everyone to bring something simple for lunch and also a Yoga mat and blanket – whatever you need to be comfortable for some very gentle mindful movement and Body Scan.
These days are a great opportunity to link in again with the nourishment of mindfulness practice and with like-minded friends – hope to see lots of you there!

2. Some new and very exciting nourishment:

SUMMER SOLSTICE HOLISTIC RETREAT
also in The Wetlands Centre, Ballybay on the summer solstice weekend – Sat 20 and Sun 21 June
I’m delighted to co-host this very special event with Margaret Palmer (Herbalist) and Claire Clerkin (Nutritional Therapist). The three of us got together to see if we can pool our varied expertise and design some truly holistic events to nourish body, mind and spirit – and this is our first offering….

There’ll be herbal walks, cookery demonstrations, mindful walking; we’ll get to eat the deliciously healthy lunches prepared under Claire’s guidance; you’ll take away a nourishing herbal body lotion that Margaret helps us create; there’ll be talks on how to use food and herbs to maintain health and energy; and each day will start with some gentle Yoga and end with a short Mindfulness practice.   .
The theme on Saturday will be ‘relax and detox’ and on Sunday ‘recharge and energize’.
Interested?
You’ll find all the details on our website:  http://summersolsticeevent.weebly.com/
and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/solsticeholisticweekend
Booking is essential: You can book through the website (there’s a link to Eventbrite), or simply give one of us a call.

3. Further into the summer:

If you can’t make either of the above, don’t worry there will be some further workshops later in July and August…

An Introduction to Somatic Experiencing
– a body/mind approach to reduce the symptoms of trauma and accumulated stress
Yoga and Mindfulness
– learning to inhabit the body whether moving or still is for many the best way towards mindful presence
Mindful Self-compassion
– learning how important it is to gently take care of yourself as you do your best to negotiate what challenges life presents


I’ll be sending more details of these soon…

4. And finally – some on-going nourishment:

As you can see from the above, I love working with groups and most of what I do can be very effectively taught in groups – in fact group interaction and support often adds to our experience and learning. It can be amazingly consoling and encouraging to meet others who are negotiating life experiences  which are similar to our own…
However, there are times for all of us, when we could do with more focused and individual support.
Based on the training I have been doing in Somatic Experiencing (to finish in October) I see many of the issues we struggle with (problems with sleep, digestion, chronic pain, anxiety, fatigue, low mood) as reflections of a nervous system out of sync, due to trauma and accumulated stress. ‘Nervous system dysregulation’ is the buzz phrase of the leaders in trauma healing; and the symptoms of accumulated stress are often very similar to those of trauma.

If your nervous system is feeling somewhat frazzled (and if it is, you’ll know what I mean!) you might consider that a few individual sessions could help  restore balance and stability in your system.
Currently I see people for one-to-one Yoga, Mindfulness, Reflexology  and Stress Reduction These are all very effective ways to restore nervous system regulation. While they can each be learned in a class situation (all except Reflexology) it can sometimes be more effective to learn exactly what you need to learn and to have individual support/guidance as you make your own journey back towards balance and resilience.
If you think you might benefit from some one-to-one sessions, do give me a ring and we can explore together what might work best for you.
Tel: 086 8120332

I think that’s it for now – the sun is shining at the moment, but I’m not entirely convinced that summer has set in – let’s see what Wet Eireann has to say later! But whatever the outside weather I do hope that your internal weather is pleasant, and that whatever life is presenting you are handling it with grace and resilience… and that your mindfulness skills are coming to your aid!

If you have queries about any of the above, I’d love to hear from you…
With warm wishes,
Mairead

From Stress to Resilience – and why cavemen didn’t get ulcers!

Have you ever had a moment – perhaps on a particularly bad day – that you’ve thought ‘This can’t be right! A human being was never meant to live like this!’ There’s a lot of truth in your bewildered observation; it may or may not be some consolation to know that the world’s leaders in trauma therapy are coming to the same conclusion!

Because trauma is rampant in our world today an enormous amount of work has been done, and helped along with new insights in brain science, a lot more is understood about the brain-body mechanisms that lead to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and it’s many debilitating symptoms.

Naturally someone who had been through a horrific event – like a serious road traffic accident, a violent assault, or a natural disaster – will experience after effects. The worrying thing is that many who have been through fairly minor events are being diagnosed with PTSD. An example might be someone who seemed to be functioning perfectly well is tail-ended on the way to work one morning, and their lives fall apart! Someone who would be no means be perceived as a ‘wimp’ may suffer years of sleep disturbance, chronic pain and inability to hold down a job – the result of a 5mile an hour collision!

So what has gone wrong when someone (as in the example above) appears to have so little resilience – how can a minor event have such devastating consequences? Leaders in the field of trauma therapy would say that the underlying problem is accumulated stress: stress responses that are meant to fire up, help us through crisis, then disappear, have actually stacked up in the system. These accumulated stress responses mean that a person who appears to be functioning perfectly well might actually be living very close to their tipping point; due to the backlog of stress in their system, they are working really hard to ‘function perfectly well’. Sadly, it’s not going to take much to push them beyond their tipping point.

The other possible reason for this apparent lack of resilience is developmental trauma – conditions in the person’s early life were not sufficient to lay down the basis of resilience and somehow they have not sufficient inner resources to roll with the punches.

If you want to learn more about the fascinating new developments in trauma therapy, why not investigate ‘From Stress to Resilience’ a new 6 week course starting in Monaghan Wellness Centre. While the bad news is that trauma and accumulated stress are so rampant in our society, the good news is that an amazing amount of work is being done to understand and to discover ways to heal this modern plague. Hence the course will not only present some fascinating information about how trauma messes us up, but also lots of ways in which we can reduce our own backlog of accumulated stress, thus restoring resilience and aliveness.

But coming back to your thought at the beginning ‘This ain’t right. Surely this isn’t how a human being is meant to live!’ One of the most fascinating lines of enquiry that the experts in trauma are following – is that indeed this isn’t right. While life has changed enormously since our human ancestors came down from the trees and started to live a two-legged live on the ground, our nervous systems have not actually changed very much. Our nervous systems are designed for a life of the hunter-gatherer – a life lived in tribes of about 50 to 150 people, where we knew everybody, everybody looked out for everybody else; we hardly ever met a stranger and crises – such as a visit from a man-eating tiger, or aggression from a neighbouring tribe – were intense but short lived. The important thing is that crises were spaced out – there was time for life (and our nervous systems) to get back to normal, to a state of relative ease, before the next crisis.

 So from this perspective, it seems that modern life itself is a ‘trauma’ for a species meant for a much quieter, slower existence. Unless you’re living as a hermit, you may well have the sense that there’s always something else – you’ve just sorted one crisis and there’s another half dozen waiting! This is a recipe for accumulated stress, a recipe for living dangerously close to your tipping point – the edge of your resilience. But, please don’t despair – there’s a lot that you can do –  just to understand how your nervous system and stress responses work is a great first step; and then practising yoga and mindfulness are great ways to restore order and resilience within your system, no matter how overworked and chaotic it has been.(Yoga in particular is recommended by leaders in the field of trauma and it is taught as an integral part of the recovery programmes in many of the world’s leading trauma treatment centres.)

If you’d like to hear more, do please come along to a free information session in Monaghan Wellness Centre on Wed 17 September at 7pm.

Details: Mairead Flynn 086 8120332

Watch this Space!

It’s been so long since any activity here!

But at last there’s lots of new stuff on the horizon…
I’ll be posting fuller details over the next few days/weeks, but can’t wait to flag up what’s coming down the line – strange that I haven’t put anything up since January, and now I can’t wait! I have to admit I am a little bit excited about what’s on the way, so here it is……

First of all, I always love starting new MBSR courses – every group is so different and even thought more or less the same material is covered, it always seems new, thanks to the uniqueness of each participant…

MINDFULNESS BASED STRESS REDUCTION (MBSR)
new 8-week courses starting 
Monaghan Wellness Centre on Mon 22 Sept
Free Information Session ∼ Mon 15 Sept at 7pm
and
Cavan Crystal Hotel on Thurs 25 September
Free Information Session ∼ Thurs 18 Sept at 7pm

for full details and Registration Details, download Mindfulness Information – Sept 2014

Next…I am so happy to be doing a number of one-day workshops this term with my friend and fellow mindfulness teacher, Mairead Heaney – some of you might have met Mairead before. Very conscious of the value of follow up and on-going support for people who have already done MBSR, we are offering a number of themed workshops in venues which might suit folks who have done MBSR either in Monaghan, Cavan or Dundalk. For starters…

Mindfulness and the Body

The Magnet, Dundalk on Saturday 20 September
Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Saturday 27 September
Both will run from 10am to 4pm
Much more detail will be posted very soon

Mindfulness and the Emotions

Dundalk on Sat 18 October (venue to be confirmed)
Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Sat 25 October
Both will run from 10am to 4pm
Much more detail soon, but you might want to pencil in….

And yet further excitement –

From Stress to Resilience, reducing stress, restoring balance, rediscovering pleasure!

A new course I’m working on based the latest research findings regarding the human nervous system and how it’s wired to handle stress. Some of you may know I have been studying Somatic Experiencing over the last 2 years. Somatic Experiencing is a body-based approach to healing trauma and accumulated stress. Over the last 30+ years, I have worked with many approaches to manage and reduce stress but somehow Somatic Experiencing is bringing all this experience and learning together. It is very exciting for me to put this material together (with the help of a mentor on the Somatic Experiencing faculty)…here’s a bit of blurb about what the course will entail…more to follow

A 6 week body-mind journey to combine the practice of Yoga and Mindfulness with the latest research findings on the human stress responses.

You will learn:
How accumulated stress responses get locked into the body
How many physical, mental and emotional problems are caused by nervous system dysregulation
How to use yoga, mindfulness and a range of easy, enjoyable awareness exercises to work directly with the body and restore nervous system regulation
How presence and pleasure and key to restoring inner balance

A blend of fascinating input and nourishing practice, the course aims to be informative, entertaining and deeply encouraging – a genuine step towards living with greater ease and resilience in our pretty crazy world!

Free Information Session: Wednesday 17 September
Course Begins: Wednesday 24 September ~ 6 Wednesdays, 7 to 9pm
Venue: Monaghan Wellness Centre

More to come on all of these – so do watch this space!

 

Thinking outside the ‘8-week’ box

After a mega-slump of energy around the New Year (anyone else feel that?) thankfully I bounced back and got the spurt I needed to put the show on the road once more!

Getting excited about new 8-week MBSR courses starting in Monaghan and Cavan over the next few weeks. But I’ve also been doing some thinking about other ways people can learn Mindfulness. The 8-week courses are of course tried and tested – there is no doubt that if participants make a reasonable commitment to the programme there is a lot to be gained. But not everyone can invest the time and energy  – and indeed the money – needed. So I thought it only fair to offer other options….

To begin with, between now and September I’m offering a number of one-day workshops – these will offer some general background and introduce the core practices of MBSR. For some it might be all they need – they may find the day is enough to launch them into a regular personal practice, they may enjoy the day as a welcome and nourishing respite from something they are currently struggling with, or indeed they might discover that it’s not quite what they’re looking for. For others, the one-day workshop will be a good opportunity to ‘dip in a toe’ and if they decide to commit to an 8-week course they will have a clear sense of what they are committing to.

I’m attaching a document with details of these workshops Ways to Wellness 2014
I do hope you have time to check it out.
You will also find details  of one-day workshops on Yoga and Mindfulness – these are intended for folks who have already done MBSR, but students of Yoga are welcome as well. Been thinking a lot lately about how Yoga has been somehow ‘upstaged’ in recent times by the tremendous popularity of Mindfulness. Of-course its not a competition, and I have nothing to gain from taking sides …. but I may be about to climb onto a soap box, so I think I’ll leave it for another post!
Watch this space…

Singing Meditation!

We had a lovely day yesterday in The Station, Belturbet – mostly attended by the group from Cavan who have just finished MBSR, also a few folks from Clones and previous MBSR groups.

We ended the day with a lovely guided Meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh, which to the surprise (even horror!) of some, included singing. In fact it was a really good way to end, was enjoyed and well received by all. Some wanted to know the words, so I promised to put them up today. Here is the full version of the guided meditation

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out
Breathing in, my breath grows deep
Breathing out, my breath goes slowly
Breathing in, I feel calm
Breathing out, I feel ease
Breathing in, I smile
Breathing out, I release
Dwelling in the present moment
I know it is a wonderful moment

And the simpler version which we sang…

In, Out, Deep and Slow. Calm, Ease, Smile, Release. Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen monk and one of the world’s greatest meditation teachers. An absolutely charming man, he was in Ireland last year and led a 6-day family retreat in Kilarney.  He is praticularly fond of teaching meditation to families and children. He often uses little songs like we sang yesterday. There are many benefits in this way of working – as you probably experienced, it makes the meditation very memorable – like a jingle, it tends to follow you around! As you can imagine, children love a simple little song, but it can also lead adults to a very profound experience (if we can get beyond our adult ‘sophistication’ and allow ourselves to enjoy something so simple!). Meditation can also be a lonely activity – we may have very profound experiences, but they are in splendid isolation – so using voice and song helps to build community – reminds us that we are not alone as we tread this path.

Thich Nhat Hanh is also a poet and peace activist. He has written many books including the little gem   ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’, which first brought the world’s attention to the word ‘mindfulness’ 
The meditation which we used yesterday can be found in a CD set called ‘Calm Ease Smile Breathe’. It can also be found in the book ‘The Blooming of a Lotus’
Although in his 80’s Thich Nhat Hanh still travels all over the world giving talks and retreats to those interested in learning about meditation and mindful living. He is base in France in a meditation centre call Plum Village. If you google his name, or google Plum Village, you will find lots of information.

Finding your feet again in practice…

A follow up day for MBSR has been a long time coming – thank you for your patience.

Maybe it’s a bit like waiting for a bus – you wait and wait and then 3 come at once!
Why 3?
I was planning a day in September – Saturday 14 – and then a friend reminded me that just because evening classes stop in July and August, not everything comes to a standstill. Not everybody is away and for those who are at home, this might be an ideal time to take a little time out for personal nourishment.

Hence, with a little shove from friend,
I decided to offer 2 possible dates in August as well – Sat 10 and 24th
I am putting all three dates out there and will run with whichever suits the most people. Who knows maybe 2, or even 3 will run!

‘Finding your feet again’ seemed like a good title for a number of reasons. I’m sure I’m mistaken but for just a few of you practice might have got a little sidelined since finishing MBSR. Difficult to keep going when life is busy and at times practice might seem dry and not particularly rewarding – a feeling that you’re ploughing a lonely furrow. We all need an injection of inspiration from time to time and a reminder that others are also walking this path. Hence the first aim of a follow up day is to help you find your feet again in practice. Just in case you’ve fallen by the wayside, the day will be an opportunity to revisit the Core Practices of MBSR (Sitting, Body Scan, Breathing Space and Walking Meditation) and to catch up with others who share your commitment to letting these practices find a place in their lives.

It’s also helpful if each follow day offers something new, or puts extra emphasis on some aspect of mindfulness  – body, emotions, thoughts etc. For this first day, I’d love to offer some input on mindfulness of the body in everyday posture – and where better to start than the feet, the foundation of posture. We will do a very simple self-assessment of our normal ways of standing and walking, (did you know that on average we take about 10,000 steps a day?), and a series of delightful exercises with feet resting on the wall. Of course we’ll do some formal walking meditation, but the emphasis will be on mindfulness of the feet as a doorway to being present to life as it unfolds moment by moment, step by step…..10,000 opportunities a day!

But grounding all of this in practical details:

PROPOSED DATES: August 10, August 24, September 14 (all Saturdays)

VENUE: Ballybay Wetlands Centre. TIMES: 10 am to 4pm

GUEST TEACHER: I am hoping that  Mairead Heaney a Mindfulness Teacher / Psychotherapist from Dundalk will be able to join us for these dates – some of you have met Mairead before: she has a particular interest in Mindfulness and Self Compassion and hopefully will share some this with us on a later follow up day…

REFRESHMENTS: Tea, coffee biscuits provided; please bring your own lunch

COST: €35 

BOOKING: please let me know by Monday 22 July whether you are interested in one of these days, and which one, so I can confirm the booking with the Wetland Centre

FURTHER DETAILS: delighted to hear from you if you want to give me a ring for more information…