Empower would love to develop mental health awareness and offer access to regular blogs on this site as well as chats with inspirational people to keep encouragement, growth and advice on well-being. This page will be all things on mental health and holistic well-being. Looking forward to meeting you and listening to what you’ve got to say!
Traditionally, during the summer solstice, people celebrated renewal, life, fertility, the potential for a good harvest – inner and outer abundance!
On Monday 21st June, The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year. On this day, the sun is literally at the height of its life-giving power. As the Summer Solstice is celebrated all over the world, various traditions include rituals to help release old, dark energy. Gosh, after what we have all been through over the last fifteen months – this year’s Summer Solstice is an excellent opportunity to pay attention to ourselves. It could be considering the grand scope of your life and what you want or need and take note of what’s in and out of alignment, or it could be the conscious practice of small practices to help support our everyday.
Let’s celebrate the Summer Solstice and have some fun – it just also happens to help boost your mood at the same time, so yay! Please don’t feel that there is only one day a year that we can do this for ourselves – we can make it a good habit to provide space for ourselves in our every day to support our mental health and general well-being.
- Welcome the light as it replaces old heavy energy with mindfulness breathing techniques, meditation or yoga. YouTube have loads of mindfulness meditation exercises – usually about 10 minutes long. We don’t have to get into the lotus position under a peach tree or on a Himalayan mountain! Even just gently putting our hand on our chest and observing our breath as you breathe in and breathe out a couple of times. This can be done while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or when the traffic lights turn red. Any wee moment is any opportunity to pay attention to ourselves.
- Now we are getting out and about after all these restrictions, rather than go back into auto pilot, get a pen and piece of paper and have a think about what the summer solstice energy can help you with. Is it to change in your life, or to begin something that would help you feel happier or more content? Once you’ve reflected on goals and what you want or need, shine your light on these intentions. I would recommend a really helpful book on creating good habits in your life – it’s called ‘The Kindness Method’ by Shahroo Izadi.
- What better way to celebrate of the potential of a good harvest than by getting outside – the nearest park, on your walk to work, or in the garden? Over the summer time you can bring life to your garden by planting something new, or just spend time tending to it. Big or small, a garden is a great space to practice love, care and give attention – good news- you also get that back. The little seeds and small buds take time to grow and will succeed with your compassionate energy – just like our well being within us. Patience is a calming practice too. Hear yourself ask the little plants out loud, “well, how are you doing today?” or, “what a pretty colour you are”, or “you’ll feel much brighter once I’ve given you some water”.
- Celebrate with a feast! Try a new recipe and notice how you feel with all the preparation and gratitude for the fresh ingredients – the smells, texture and colour. You might want to do some baking – and leave some round to neighbours as a nice sunny surprise. Maybe you’d like to visit a farm shop or shop local and have a wee chat with the person serving you to make your smile visible behind the masks we still need to use.
Food is medicine. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about noticing the fruit in his hand and thinking about where it came from, who picked it, its journey to the shop and that this very piece of fruit is here now – just for him, no-one else. Then its a really smooth step to connect with nature and be grateful.
- Think about other ways you can connect with both humans and nature. When is the last time you made a sandcastle? Feeling the sand and how you feel inside when creating something from your imagination. If you have kids help them find signs that Summer is here as you go for a walk. Actually, even if you don’t, sure why not put that into practice anyway? Pause and listen to the birds the next time you are outside. The simple things are the important foundations for our well being.
There are many ways to celebrate the Summer Solstice and you might want some more support or help to make these healthy changes part of your life. I am here if you also need support in finding out ways to feel les stuck, how to handle difficult relationships etc get in touch. Let your light shine bright guys!!
Please contact me through the website http://www.empowercounsellingni.com or call me on 07793005815.
Lets thrive – not just survive
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style”Maya Angelou
Hi, my name is Eva and you are most welcome to my (drum roll please….) first ever blog. I am a counsellor based in Castlewellan and I hope to develop this blog with your help to build a community that offers support and understanding about anything mental health and/ or holistic well- being.
I want to send a message about listening to each other, working together, supporting each other as we continue to communicate. Feeling empowered gives us space to breathe, make choices that suit us and notice what’s important – our individual values and understanding.
These days, self-care is very important to me, which involves a bit of a ritualistic pattern in my every day. I love it because it is ‘just for me’, all for my-self. I am the one in control (it’s an inside job) – no matter what my every day brings. I like that I’ve found (especially being a mum), that no-one else around me is deprived of my affection or care when I am practising self-care. I had to put that into action against the grain in the beginning and through gritted teeth, literally sometimes, to find that out for myself. I was so used to putting people first. I was on Auto-pilot. I didn’t realise that I had choices – choices that were better for my well-being and also better for my relationships in the long run – but – quite a challenge in the immediacy and the short term.
I still roll my eyes when I can’t work out what we are going to have ‘for the dinner’. I’m still (in no particular order), a mum, wife, counsellor, sister and friend. I appreciate that I do have compassion and indeed a lot more self- compassion these days. I am a lot more patient than ever before (and NO – patience is not a virtue – it’s a purposeful practice). There is much more clarity in regards to what’s ok with me and what is not.
“The most important relationship in your life is with yourself”.
In 2014 things were different to how I look after myself compared to today. I invested in a mindfulness retreat/ 5 day course in Dorset that year, simply as part of my CPD (continuing professional development that’s mandatory every year for my BACP accreditation). It was, essentially for my clients and yeah, of course a few nights away was a bonus and I was genuinely personally interested in the subject.
I was turning forty a few months later and my business was going well, the kids were grand, I was happy in my marriage, so the course was lovely and I was really able to apply it to my work – but as things seemed to be ok- I didn’t ever see the point in really paying attention and listening to what I might want or need to change. Can anyone else relate to that?
Then along came 2015 – bear with me. This was a particularly tough year for me personally. Things came ‘in threes’ in real life that February, March then May. I did lose sight of a lot of things as there was a lot of abrupt changes and heart ache on top of each other. All quite different challenges, but with me going the way I was used to (autopilot), by the Autumn of that year I felt very different within myself and surprise, surprise – not in a good way. I’m guessing I just waded through. When I look back, I have so much compassion for myself then – realising that I was holding not just difficult emotions but also a lot of other people’s ‘stuff’ that wasn’t even mine at all.
A Chinese saying is (don’t worry, I’ll say it in English), “It is only corrosive to the vessel that holds it”.
I was angry, scared, confused and grieving. But I eventually realised that how I felt was natural (and thankfully, any emotion is always temporary). The emotional pain got so much at times, that there was nothing else I could do but pay attention to it, it was part of me. I now know that it wanted me to listen, so I could change things and begin to heal. So, I consciously practised apologising to myself when I was aware of how harsh I sounded to myself. I made sure I took 5 deep breaths every morning before getting out of bed – no matter how I was feeling. Began taking walks by the sea instead of channel flicking, and so on – you know – just the simple things. Even better, I got something invaluable back in return. My conscious efforts of paying attention to myself and offering myself space. Asserting myself when necessary paid off and I felt more content than I have ever felt. I also trusted the patience and comfort from people who I now see as real friends (allies that are emotionally available), clearer than ever before – I even see the beach, my dog and music that I like as friends. When I was really struggling and felt hopeless or lonely at the start, I would read a poem that was given to me in Dorset. It was by Mary Oliver called ‘Wild Geese’. Google it if you like – see what you think, let me know.
Self-love is a conscious choice. It’s not a magical feeling that appears to you one day. It’s a commitment to your well-being, your mental and emotional health and your body.
I look back with absolutely no regret or resentment. Of course, I made mistakes, but that’s ok. I realise what resilience I had to get through these experiences and other things earlier on in my life too. I really appreciate that I had to go through all of that pain (so far) to learn, grow and value myself more.
Whether I like it or not, I will always care about people around me and I absolutely love a bit of craic – so I’m going to keep investing in times like that. What I am aware of too, is that empathy can be like a double-edged sword. Because we care and want others to be happy etc, we tend to invest in that more than in ourselves – a tricky balance even when we are conscious of it. But it is worse when we are in auto-pilot because there is little clarity, more hyperarousal and then we are more reactive. We feel less empowered.
I do remember reacting badly when I was let down by people in the past. Even just a few years ago, losing focus on myself and speaking badly of people to others when I was angry and upset. I am sorry that I put those who were listening in that position as it can be quite uncomfortable and exhausting – never mind purposeless. I am taking a lot more ownership of my feelings these days and that makes my position so much more empowering and freeing. Do you remember times when you felt this way, thought this way and reacted this way?
I’ve got into a good habit of checking in with myself. I consider what I am involved in (or energy-wise, investing in), how I am feeling (literally labelling the emotion) and responding to that. I often consciously ask myself “how’s it going?” and yes, I do wait to hear what I’ve actually got to say. I am responding to my needs and therefore reacting less to the old familiar pull ‘about others’ compared to before. We can’t heal and harm at the same time.
“Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Fall in love with the path of deep healing. Fall in love with the best version of yourself – But with patience, with compassion and respect for your own journey.”
I think these last few years have been the only genuine time I have allowed my-self to ask for help and support from a few close people around me. When I say genuine, I mean without apology or self- criticism. It’s so liberating not having to explain myself, not getting sucked into other people’s stuff – simply not engaging if it is exhausting or going to limit me (well, most of the time at least). Quality rather than quantity. My heart was broken, but my vision is now a lot better!
I am not a victim to this life so far, I am vulnerable that’s all – like all us flawed humans are. I am gently and patiently realising (focus on the first four letters there), that I am as important as everyone else. I realise that MY mental health and well-being is very important to pay attention to and take care of, not just people around me. It is actually, and quite simply, my responsibility to take care of myself as best I can.
I AM DOING THE BEST I CAN.
I am passionate about that now and I know that the daily effort that I invest in myself- no matter how small, I will always get something back from that.
More JOY please!
I have always felt the pull (passion), to help people and of course still want to see people happy and comfortable. I just now wish that for myself too and I am so grateful in my every day. I am really quite excited with the idea that we can work together and support each other.
“People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in, told that they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more. Remind each other of this”.Stacey Jean Speer
So! There you go…I would love to hear what you’ve got to say about my first blog and please share with me things that you can relate to or what you want me to know. I whole-heartedly hope that each visitor got something from me pouring my heart out a little bit (and crapping myself a little bit too to be honest – BUT doing this anyway). I want to keep making steps towards more connection, more awareness and more passion and humour as we support each other in thriving – THRIVING IN STYLE! Really looking forward to hearing from you. Take care, Eva
“Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.”
Sign up to read our blog for free
Our problems are not IN the way. Our problems ARE the way. They are here to help us get to where we truly need to go.