May 262017
 

JG-020-resizeI am a busy bee this week preparing to go on retreat. I have written and will be leading two ceremonies, making a drum in ceremony with Carolyn Hillyer, soaking in the deeply healing energy of my favourite Welsh Valley, and offering healing and intuitive readings to some of my doula sisters.

This is one of the highlights of my year, and every year I get better at balancing my profound need to retreat and my bone deep call to be of service to the birthworkers I call colleagues and friends. It was, in the past, all  too easy for me to spend my entire retreat time giving and thus, defeating part of the object of my attending, as I left little time for myself to rest, recharge and exhale.  This will be my fifth year at retreat, my fifth visit to the beautiful valley in Fachwen, and I’d like to think that this year I have strengthened my personal boundaries, reassessed how much of myself I give away – not to be selfish, but to ensure that I have more to give when I leave than when I arrived.

Offering a healing space is a part of my call to service.  I use my voice, my heart, my presence, my connection to All That Is, to create spaces that people can be brave in.  My ability to be still and deeply grounded, to manage my body and it’s biology, to ‘be’, is where that space begins.  I can then call on all of my experience and learning to support that person as they work through what they need to in order to heal.  I call my sessions Holistic Alchemy; the creation of a space that allows people to process and transmute their experiences through deep loving and careful holding.

Creating ceremony is also part of my call to service. Celebrating lives – elevating moments from mundane to sacred to mark the passage of our journeys this time around. I’ve spent more than 15 years standing in circle and every time I learn something new, because each circle is a world of its own. It has a spirit and a personality that is shaped by the people who come together that day. It’s my job to weave these souls together in sacred purpose, to protect them as they shift into that time out of time in circle space. It’s my joy to guide them through that liminal space, where the outside world slips away and magic and harmony manifest.

So, what do I get in return? Other than results being their own reward, I get so much from being in the landscape at Cae Mabon.  I will sing – especially this year, with the ceremonies, creating drums in circle with Carolyn and sitting in circles to lament and keen with Alexandra Wilson.  Singing fills me up.  I sing every day – with my coffee machine in the morning, with the extractor fan in the bathroom, I tone and sing and sway to my own rhythm.  I sing in my sound healing work, in a Symphony Chorus, and in circles of women who connect through song.  I am sinking ever deeper into my life’s purpose.  Creating sound with sacred intention is my place. It feels more like home than anywhere I have ever been.  I have sung all my life – literally.  I love the feeling I get in my body when I sing, and even more so when I sing in groups. The vibration and shared wonder in creating harmony together fills me so full I weep and spin and spirit overflows.  I will sit in circles with Birthworkers that I love and respect, whom I consider heart-kin, working together to change the world one birth at a time.  I love the very bones of them, and that is why I offer my service.

I go to retreat to fill my cup and also to fulfil my sacred duty to connect, reflect and serve – to nurture journeys and make everyday magic happen.

Mar 132017
 

wave-1521130_1920You may be wondering why I am going to be talking to a group of Vibrational Essence Practitioners about toning.  You may ask “What’s the point?”

There are lots of reasons, but I’m going to give you three of what I think are the most important ones.

  1. Toning is really good for you.

Aside from the intentional vibration that vocalising creates, the deep, diaphragmatic breathing it encourages is massively beneficial for your general health and well-being.  It lowers your blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and improves heart rate variability.

  1. Toning connects you with your body and heightens your intuition.

Whether you work from repertory, intuition, or some combination of the two, 20 minutes of toning before seeing clients or choosing essences for yourself will enhance your connection to your body and help you to listen more deeply to your intuition.  This ‘intuition’ is increasingly thought to be the work of the subtle information relayed to your brain via the Vagus nerve.  The deep, regular breathing helps us to focus in on these subtle sensations and cues.

  1. Toning is fun!

There are no set rules, so there is nothing to get wrong.  You can do it anywhere.  It’s free. You don’t need any special equipment.  All you need is yourself and the intention to sit and do it.  You can tone alone, but I find it is especially fun and satisfying to tone with a group.  There is something special that happens when toning in a group.  You all start off toning very differently, then as your intention and will align, beautiful harmonies begin to develop.  The vibrations become deeply complementary, and as a group you create a deeply healing and often emotionally moving soundscape, that is of the moment, appreciated and then let go, set free to become a part of the vibrational fabric of the universe.

It’s beautiful and fleeting, but often absolutely perfect for the people involved.

 

At the 2017 BFVEA Gathering, I will be taking attendees through simple exercises to build their confidence in their ability to tone, and sharing my enthusiasm for the practice of daily sounding.  There will be a combination of meditation, toning and physical exercises that will help to strengthen and support fledgling and established practices.

Registration for this event is now closed but if you’d like to discover more about creating a personal sounding practice, or have any questions please do ask.

Jan 252017
 

The planet is in crisis.

That is the story told to us by the media every day.  This is what we see played out in our workplaces, our relationships.  We are in crisis.  Things are happening in our lives that are beyond our control.
We become agitated, angry, worried, depressed, anxious, withdrawn, self-abusive.

We panic.

This is a valid and human reaction to our situation and environment.  Then, maybe, we get angry.  We see the injustice and trauma and want to make a difference.  We become passionate about doing something that can make a change – however large or small.  We go all out – we rage, we plan, we become activists for change…

So how are you coping?  Are you coping?  How would it feel to do more than just cope?

I see this in my community every day – in the birth and parenting world and beyond.  I see deeply passionate people becoming increasingly burdened, traumatised and burned out by what they are witnessing.  It breaks my heart wide open.  It makes me want to share with them the strategies I have been using for the past 8 years that have radically boosted my resilience, my ability to process difficult situations and reflect in a compassionate and grounded way.

It makes me want to step up to make my difference.  

It makes me want to answer the call to service that drives me, that lights me up.

JG-097-Resize1000px

How would it feel to make a difference and not be burned out by your passion?  How would it feel to be able to witness the trauma and injustice in your life and process it compassionately? How would it feel to move through your life of activism at ease within yourself?  How would that affect your ability to be effective?

I have a new offering for you all.
I’ve called it Compassionate Self-Management Skills.  I tried not to get into the marketing game of naming this workshop something sensationalising like “Self-Care Survival Skills for Birthworkers” because these techniques are so much more than that. But in these tumultuous times, that is really what these skills are. Being able to manage your needs, feel into your emotions and support your clients is getting harder and more pressurised by the day it can seem.  I want to help you by sharing what I have learned and am living through my work with the Spiritual Companions Trust.

I can help you.  You are not alone.

In this experiential and informative workshop you will learn simple and practical, powerful strategies that enable you to be more present to the care you give to yourself, the families you work with and your community at large. If you’d like to develop a personal daily practise of deep self-care that works in an integrated and holistic way, this workshop is for you.

Self-care has become a buzz-phrase of late. This workshop takes you beyond the surface and deeper into the practice of authentic self-care.

We will discuss –
PHYSICAL: The science of stress and how these strategies work to build resilience from a neuroendocrine perspective.
MENTAL: The benefits of a regular practise on your mental health.
EMOTIONAL: The way in which the strategies work together to enable you to self-manage your emotional balance – both in times of quiet reflection and high emotion.
SPIRITUAL: How these simple strategies can be the gateway to a deeper relationship with yourself, and your experience of the wonder of the universe around you.

We will explore the ways in which these techniques, when embodied and embedded into your daily life, will enhance your wellbeing and enable you care for the families and communities you work with in a more balanced, compassionate and present way.

The investment for this workshop is £90 for the day and includes a vegan soup at lunch time.

Places are limited and a £30 deposit will secure your spot.

Please contact me if you would like to know more.

COURSE DATES

15th March 2017 – Cambridge – https://www.facebook.com/events/729763983866471/

Oct 142016
 

20160529_140038You can wander with no destination, you are still on a journey.

The music analogy in that video with Alan Watts talking falls apart for me because I know how some composers actually write music.
Composers write in a form.  Rondo, binary, ternary, sonata – they all have a structure and are pre-planned.  Even modern composers and songwriters have some sort of loose structure or path or framework on which to display their creativity.

To me this is a very clear map, a very firm plan and ultimate destination, but it doesn’t stop the musician from playing it, learning something new about it and themselves each time they play.  The really excellent musicians can interpret music  we know very well in such a way that it takes us on a very different journey from the one the composer intended.  Their skill and heart, their breath and intention get us to somewhere new and exciting, but the piece still finishes.

My job is to nurture you whilst you explore on your own journey, to be there when you wobble, to give you the safety to wobble a little more – I companion you as you travel.

For most people life, the passage of time, is experienced as a one way event, a journey from life to death, and around again if you are so inclined.

But who says you cant pause and enjoy, connect for a few moments of that time and wonder?  Soak in the utter majesty of that breath, that hug, that birth, that posture – just be for a moment.

You make the rules.  You get to throw the rules out of the window of a speeding train and cackle as they flutter away like so many birds who pecked and corralled you for so long.  That’s on you.

You can journey to your edges and explore beyond them, stroke them, or back off them until you feel stronger.  That is your choice, every moment. Being present to those choices is a daily practice of awareness, but once you start, ahh, its so worth it. Sometimes things happen that out of our control – we didn’t choose them, but we can always choose how we react to them.  Sometimes that takes a little inner work, but again, it’s so worth it.  That work gives you freedom.

This is your show. This is your LIFE. This is your JOURNEY.  Your path is not fixed.

Let me say this again.  Journey ≠ Predetermined Path

You get to CHOOSE.

So step up to that power and claim it. Revel in it.  Roll in it. Dance with it. Play with it.

It’s all you. Your choice. Your journey. You make the map, but you can also choose to say “Fuck it”, chuck it in the bin and try something new.

Jun 142016
 

image

Today I choose to honour my connection to all that is. My place in the Divine dance that is the sacred interconnectedness of all things.

image

Today I choose to honour my body, to listen to its wisdom, be attentive and sensitive to what it needs.

image

Today I choose to honour my Sisters and Brothers in service. Those who care for others in their times of pain and distress, those whose hands and hearts hold those making their first and their final transitions.

image

Today I choose to honour my ancestors, those who came before me. Those who shaped me, who live in my bones and my blood, in my heart.

image

Today I choose to love, to be kind, honest, respectful, and real. I choose to live wild and soak in the beauty and vastness of this awesome universe.

Today I have the freedom to choose and so today I am grateful.

Jun 072016
 

image

Choosing a doula, a Reiki Sensei, a Healer, a Companion can be a slippery business.

It boils down to this:
Are they able to teach me what I need to learn, in the way I need to learn it and are they legally and ethically qualified to do so?

Do I like them? Do their core values align with mine? Are they someone I trust – not just intellectually but physically (aka Do they give me the ick? Does my body say yes or no?) Does their intention feel genuine?

The first, for some, is purely an intellectual exercise. An ‘on paper’ thing that can be settled relatively quickly. The second not so much. Perhaps that takes a face to face meeting, a couple of Skype calls, stalking their Facebook page (kidding 😉 ), an email or six. Maybe a good, old fashioned phone call or letter. However you choose to discern who you go into relationship with, make sure you’re happy with that investment on every level. Some people look awesome on paper but when you meet them something just feels off. Or maybe you meet someone who is super charismatic, comes over brilliantly with their elevator pitch but actually is just shining you on a bit until it’s too late to back out. Or perhaps you’re on the fence but they’ve given you a hard deadline and it’s that, more than feeling truly comfortable, that makes your choice for you. Perhaps they are just the most visible – their marketing is top notch and they are working all the angles to hook you in.  So, pause.  Ask your body is this a YES?  If you’re on the fence, I would urge you to do some more research.  Dig a little deeper to find out what’s available.  There are some truly gifted teachers out there, working so hard that they don’t have time to Facebook and blog and such. They might just be the one for you.

I think what I’m trying to say is that, as for me, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I talk straight, have some pretty strong ethical boundaries and get passionate about injustice and dishonesty. I will share what I know in a way that you can understand, and I will keep working with you until we find the sweet-spot in your learning style. I will be gentle, supportive, honest and firm – I will witness you sift through your stuff, hold your hand whilst you pin down what it is that is bugging you, blocking you, dragging you down. I will hold back your hair whilst you puke and hold your bag whilst you dance with your shadows (unless you want to throw down and dance around the bag which I will gladly do too). I will honour your wins and milestones and I’ll do it all with pure love for you and the process of becoming.

If this sounds like I might be your cup of tea, give me shout. I’ll be right here waiting for you with the kettle on <3

Nov 172014
 

joyThis talisman’s story begins with a double sided ‘Love’ charm.  This is fairly self explanatory in terms of meaning, but when combined with the two turquoise beads it takes on a different significance.  Turquoise is a highly spiritual stone.  The flat turquoise stone gives way to a sphere.  This makes me think of the journey the human race has taken, from believing in only what they could see – the earth is flat, to what they now know – the earth is a sphere.  I find this symbolic of the journey we take as our spiritual consciousness expands and we begin to question that which we believe as we evolve and grow spiritually.  The love charm helps us to remember that we are held in love whilst we quest – never alone or without grace.

The next one along is the glass bottle.  As usual, I haven’t sealed the cork, so if you have herbs that you’d like to put in, or just take the lid of to enjoy the fragrance, you can.  I’m also happy to glue the cork infor you if you are worried about the contents escaping.  Inside the bottle is salt, for protection and purification, white sage to banish negativity and clear your energy field of nasties that might be hanging around. Next is patchouli root, deeply connected to Gaia and the Earth Mother, this herb reminds you that you are loved by the Earth, wholly and completely. There are two resins in this bottle – the first is copal, sometimes called young amber, a gift from nature that helps us to recharge our spiritual batteries and maintain a youthfulness and joy to our outlook as we journey.  The second resin is colophony, a powerful purifier, an ideal partner to sage and will help to keep your energetic space clear.  Finally, your bottle is topped off with mugwort.  In the training I did it was considered a powerful magical amplifier, but it is also said to enhance dreamwork and revive travellers on long journeys – perfect for this talisman.

Next along is a ‘Find joy in the journey’ silvertone charm, suspended on grey waxed linen and topped with aquamarine chips. Aquamarine has long been thought of as a travellers talisman with the ability to calm stormy seas and bring peace to the bearer. To me this symbolises not just physical but spiritual journeys too, aiding deeper softening into mediation and journeying practices to gain more profound insight that has been achieved previously.

Next is the ladybug charm, married with garnet for safe travels, smokey quartz for protection and haematite for grounding.  Ladybug is a powerful teacher, helping us with invoking and embodying spiritual insights whilst helping us to remain spiritually grounded.

The final charm is a feather with a heart, a green tourmaline, a malachite, and a turquoise dangle.  For me the feather symbolises treading lightly on the earth, doing as little damage as possible and healing if appropriate.  The green tourmaline is powerfully connected to both the earth and the heart – strengthening your connection with the earth and allowing you to tune in more easily to the vibration of her hearbeat, and in doing so, always being able to find your way home, however far you journey.  The malachite is a strongly protective stone and has been said to assure travellers a safe passage to their destination. Being green, it resonates with the heart and so helps to protect you emotionally.  Finally the turquoise, a stone of spiritual connection and journeying.  Together these stones bring the gift of protection and connection as you journey through your life, and a feeling of safety in the knowledge that you can always find your physical and emotional way home.  I would encourage you to go outside, put your bare feet on the earth and breathe, right through your feet and up to the sky, connect yourself with all that is and bathe in the feeling of deep love that the earth has for you.

On a last note, you might also notice that this pin is perfectly balanced, a secret reminder, just for you, that there must be balance in your life.  The dark times are as valuable as the light, the rest as important as the doing, the joy and the pain, the love and the loss.  They are all our teachers as the universe looks on with nothing but love for you.  You are precious. Remember.

Nov 162014
 

The idea for a talisman necklace is one that I’ve been pondering over for a long time.  How do I pack in all the symbols and magic that I want to into something that ultimately has to be worn around your neck?  It can’t weigh a ton or be overly clunky otherwise it just won’t work.  This is what I came up with.

couragecloseThis talisman’s story begins with a circle of Courage – an unbreakable and infinite symbol of hope and strength and a reminder that we have this inner reservoir of courage and with it the hope that if we don’t give up things will get better.  The circle is wrapped with red linen and in it’s centre sways a heart with a rose quartz crystal and a spiral.  These symbols combined for me represent what is at the heart of courage – a passion and unconditional love that keeps us going when times are hard, and give us the strength to keep showing up, to reach the centre of a spiral path and make our way out again. We may be changed, but we are still here, stepping up to do what is needed.

The first thing on the ring is a charm bottle.  I haven’t sealed the cork, so if you have herbs that you’d like to put in, or just take the lid of to enjoy the fragrance, you can.  Inside the bottle is salt, for protection and purification, white sage to banish negativity and clear your energy field of nasties that might be hanging around.  Next in the bottle are rose petals – again a symbol of unconditional love, traditionally used in love magic.  I added it with the intent that it would strengthen your love of yourself. This for me means paying good attention to yourself and your body.  What do you need today?  Is it a duvet day?  Do you need to dance, or sing or have a good shout?  Whatever it is, have the courage to do it, spend some time with yourself and see what your heart is saying to you, then do that.  The final addition to this bottle is the burning red of hibiscus flower – often used in magic for promoting love, I think of it more as a prompt to follow your passions, ignite your divine spark and do what lights you up and makes you shine.  The bottle is joined by another rose quartz crystal to amplify the energy of love and holding, and a smokey quartz for protection from negative energy and to allow you to recover quickly from situations that might dull that shine.

Next to your charm bottle is a little pewter goddess, reminding you that you are an expression of divine love. Worthy of respect and in your power.  She’s joined by a two tourmaline crystals.  The pale pink is closely associated with the heart, and the feminine side of our nature – strengthening and soothing at the same time.  The darker red tourmaline is said to resonate with both the Heart Chakra and the Root Chakra, promoting an increased flow of  life-force energy to nurture and heal the emotional body. It also has a grounding influence which can encourage a zest for living and lively interaction with others. It can help revitalize passion and joy in sexuality, and can help you listen more carefully to your heart’s voice when making decisions.  I paired these with the goddess charm to anchor the intent that you are held in a field of divine benevolence and love, regardless of your spiritual path.

The wing charm is paired with two rose quartz nuggets, symbolising the just how loved you are. It is that love that holds you close, keeps you steady, feeds your soul and helps you fly – combine that with courage and the possibilities are boundless. You are a unique soul, loved and set free to fly with joy and peace in your heart.

On a last note, you might also notice that this ring is perfectly balanced, and will lie flat and straight by your heart, a secret reminder, just for you, that there must be balance in your life.  The dark times are as valuable as the light, the rest as important as the doing, the joy and the pain, the love and the loss.  They are all our teachers as the universe looks on with nothing but love for you.  You are precious. Remember.

Mar 062014
 

I love singing. It’s an engaging and freeing activity that when combined with good technique allows you to connect with your body and the world around you.

Feeling Connected – Technique, why bother?

When you’re singing in the shower you’re highly unlikely to be using singing technique. Nevertheless, you are relaxed, you’re smiling, you’re releasing endorphins and you’re feeling good. But are you connected? When you use good singing technique you have to become aware and be connected to your body. This allows you to achieve the best sound you can possibly make. To do this you have to be present in your body – your actions are no longer passive events. Doing this, you being to cultivate a relationship with your breath, your lips, teeth, muscles, and your centre. Singing becomes a total body experience and you’ll never want to go back.

Warming up your voice is very similar to meditation. No, I’ve not lost the plot. When you begin to warm up as a singer, you start with breathing. It prepares your lungs and muscles for the deep breathing and breath control that you need to sing. The aim is to become gently and fully aware of your breath and the parts of your body that are engaged when breathing consciously. There are lots of exercises to bring your breath into your conscious mind, but this is one of my favourites:

Breathe in for 4 slow counts
Pause
Breathe out for 4 slow counts
Pause
Breathe in for 4 slow counts
Pause
Breathe out for 6 slow counts
Pause
Breathe in for 6 slow counts
Pause
Breathe out for 8 slow counts…

You can continue this pattern for as long as you like, adding 2 counts onto the in and out breaths each time. Go with your body, don’t push too far, enjoy it!

Feel your lungs filling and emptying, your ribs swinging in and out, your diaphragm, the expansion in your chest. Try to keep your shoulders down and, bizarre as it sounds, breathe from the bottom up and… don’t make a single sound. Become aware of the earth beneath your feet, the strength in your thighs, the powerful shape you make when your feet are planted firmly on the ground, your shoulders are square, your spine is aligned and your head is level and proud. Enjoy the feeling. Visualise breathing in love and breathing out tension and stress.

Sit with this feeling, try to hold it when you continue your day, feel the connectedness to your body and the earth as you interact with people. Try it on your lunch hour, use it to reconnect and become present in stressful situations, have a go in the bath and sink deeper into relaxation and bliss.

When you do this exercise regularly, it becomes easier to slip into the feeling of grounding and connection. It also expands your lung capacity and encourages good lung health, which can only be a plus. If you’re a smoker or have a pre-existing lung condition, please start slowly as you may feel lightheaded more easily and find that it makes you feel like you need to cough. This is unpleasant at first, but good in the long run as you are beginning to expel the stagnant toxins and contaminants that sit happily at the bottom of your lungs and rarely get an airing. You’ll gradually become more comfortable with the feeling and start to enjoy the sensation of your lungs filling and emptying. This exercise can also help you to feel more awake and energised if you’re feeling sluggish, as breathing deeply carries a greater volume of oxygen to your brain and body tissues.

From a personal standpoint, I had a serious chest infection in March 2009, it put me in hospital for 3 days and it damaged my lungs fairly badly. It can take up to a year for damaged lung cells to fully regenerate, but doing this excersise regularly has allowed me to dump the steroid inhalers and long acting ‘reliever’ inhaler that I depended on when I was first released from hopsital.

Give it a go, and tell me what you think. Most of all though, have fun!

Dec 132013
 

7circuitlabyrinthblueThe Oxford English Dictionary defines an analogy as:
A comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

I was sitting with a lovely client earlier today, wrestling – as I usually am – with the right words to try to classify and clarify what it is that I do in a Journey Companionship session. Whilst sitting in the quiet for a few moments, it occured to me that I’m akin to a tour guide. My lovely client thought that this was a good analogy and suggested that I blog it – so here it is.

A tour guide is there to gently point you in the right direction. It’s your journey, your adventure, your discovery of places yet unseen, they aren’t walking it for you, but they might point out interesting landmarks and draw your attention to things that you otherwise might have overlooked.

As a Journey Companion I witness your journey, I walk it with you. I might draw your attention to milestones, fleeting thoughts that might bubble up from a deeper place, and honour the big moments that might change the course of your journey altogether. As an added bonus I can offer you holistic therapy support and signpost you to places and people who may also be able to help you to enhance your journey.

Every person is different with a unique path to walk and so every session is different. Each one grows organically around your needs. We make no plans, there are few rules, there is no pre-defined route. If you have avenues that you wish to wander, I will wander them with you, we’ll take in your journey together and it is my privilege, joy and honour to do so.

Although making a face to face connection is important and valuable, so is having your journey witnessed. With this in mind I offer Skype sessions if you can’t get to me in person, and am always happy to be flexible and creative when it comes to supporting you on your journey.