The bigger picture

In this blog, I want to convey something of the bigger picture of counselling to anyone who might be curious about the process, or who may fear the idea of opening up to a stranger. Part of my hope is to demystify what can seem a very mysterious thing. As humans, we are made to connect with others, but life events and trauma can get in the way. Counselling can play an important part in the recovery to reconnecting with ourselves and others. Being in touch with our creativity and communities helps bring meaning to our lives.

I hope to convey in the following posts, a little of the natural world, books, poems and communities which inspire me. I hope this will inspire you too.

January 2022

This poem has recently become one of my favourites and has been one I’ve turned to during the uncertainty and heaviness of lockdowns. It encompasses my enduring love of the ‘wild things’ and how for many of us it can be so grounding and healing to spend time in nature.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

from New Collected Poems (Counterpoint, 2012)

Poets so often have an ability to put our frail and complicated human experiences into expression, and to touch, challenge or lift us. Whether poetry is spoken in a group, or read alone, we gain a feeling of belonging and collective understanding. We are not so isolated in our experiences, but remember we are all a part of this Life, experiencing joys and griefs.

I was invited by a friend to join a writing group 5 years ago and this has brought me a sense of community, joy and shared journeys. We meet every 6 weeks and I feel spurred on to write something to offer each time and feel grateful for this sense of purpose and belonging.

So many events are often outside of our control; distressing world news and issues which threaten to overwhelm us. Poetry can offer us a place of calm and order, a sanctuary. The rhythm and form of a poem can contain opposite and conflicting meanings, which are brought together by the shape of a stanza, choice of sounds or the length of a line.

The counselling hour can offer a similar place of calm, giving shape and order, a sense of peace and meaning to our own internal conflicts. Helping to contain the uncontainable. Unspoken things can be brought and safely held in the room. Painful memories can be seen in a different light, re-ordered and reshaped to become manageable.

In poetry, language is the poet’s tool. In our lives, learning an emotional language, is a tool which can help us navigate life’s difficult paths. In the words of the philosopher Wittgenstein: ‘the limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’ As Brene Brown says, the more we can learn to express our feelings, the more we can learn to regulate and manage our emotions and move through experiences productively. (https://www.penguin.com.au/articles/3245-dear-reader-a-letter-from-brene-brown)

In the therapy room, we can rehearse our stories in a safe, trusting space; something we may never have done before and in the process get to know ourselves better.

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