Blog

Taking time out for recovery and reflection

 

 

fullsizeoutput_20cI’ve been quiet for a while, and that’s because I’ve been going through a major life change. I’ve sold our family home, which has been part of our lives for nearly 25 years and have spent the last 6 weeks intensively clearing, sorting and packing. Last week I closed the door on my home for the last time and said goodbye to it. It’s been an interesting, emotional, intense few weeks.

Letting go

Despite regular clear outs, I have spent a couple of months letting go of possessions that had been deliberately held on to. Things that immediately bring back memories of my young children, friends, places visited, special moments. I discovered boxes of letters written 20-30 years ago by friends and former sweethearts. It was important to me to read these, to remember those times, those individuals – before letting them go, keeping only the most special. I realised just how much I had collected and accumulated over 25 years – it was time to let go of schoolbooks, old reports, my children’s artwork (anyone else have a portfolio of their children’s art?) – this was photographed for posterity first – and I agonised over some of it once it had gone.  I’ve worked from home for many years – and as a result of this, I had stored boxes and files related to that work. Again, time to sift, recap, sort and discard, keeping only the most significant and those which are still relevant to my future endeavours. This sifting offered another trip down memory lane, as I revisited my varied career and read reports and correspondence from time working overseas, from starting up new ventures, from colleagues who have passed on since that time. On reflection, it has been much easier to let go of household items, which cost more money to acquire – dishes, furniture, appliances – than it was to let go of those personal letters, paintings and reports. Appliances and furniture don’t require a revisit to your 20, 25, 30 year old self, to your former toddlers and young children.

Of course, the biggest letting go has been the house itself. It was time to end a chapter. But of course, when the prospect of leaving is an absolute reality, nostalgia floods in and one is constantly assailed with memories, with appreciation of its attributes, with gratitude for its constant presence – a nest, a crucible for family life, a haven, a space to let go and be oneself. And nostalgia hits equally with the community – a place which, like the house, has become interwoven with us, with our souls and our lives. Extricating one’s thread from the tapestry of a place leaves one colour less – until a new entrant adds their particular thread and the tapestry continues. On reflection, I feel so fortunate to have lived in that house and within that community.

Mindful self-awareness

This has been the closing of a chapter. And it has been mentally and physically exhausting. I am in an intermediate zone, staying in a Cornish cottage, recuperating, catching up on sleep and pausing to reflect. Being mindful of self-care, aware of what I need right now to recover. I hope soon to start dreaming of the next chapter, of what it might be, of where it might happen. Considering what to harvest from all that has gone before, what to carry through into the future. With no concrete plans, it feels a bit dangerous – there is an element of fear making its presence felt – a new home has not materialised yet – and I am acutely noting this mental and emotional state – and trying to ride it. Letting go has been and still is very important. Discernment, openness, acceptance also. Allowing mindful self- awareness every day. Allowing time – holding a space for a new chapter to emerge.

 

Signs of Spring – a mindful walk

The sun was shining when I woke up yesterday morning, so I made plans for an outing, with one intention in mind – to look for signs of Spring. Armed with my phone camera, the arrival at Stowe Gardens in Buckinghamshire was heralded by blustery winds and a very cold rain shower – lots of weather to contend with!

Walking around the gardens in search of springtime was a delight for the eyes, and awakened my vision to things I might not have noticed had I not been fully engaged on my quest – I discovered carpets of snowdrops, bright yellow Winter Aconites growing next to acid yellow lichens on a fallen twig, buds sprouting from tree branches, catkins, gorgeous pink cyclamen plants in shadier spaces next to trees. I was aware when out of the wind, of how fabulous the warmth of the sun felt on my face and body.

It wasn’t just the early spring plant life that caught my attention. Watching the behaviour of the numerous water birds in the lakes, it was clear that they too were affected by the oncoming season, and were gearing up for its arrival. There was immense delight to be found in each of these small revelations; even the quality of light yesterday seemed to contain a promise of warmer, sunnier days to come. By contrast, I was certainly fully present on the walk back to the visitor centre, as the wind changed and virtually chased us indoors! With smarting ears and cheeks we gratefully embraced a hot drink in the café, watching the outdoor environment turn white as the snow started to come down at a rapid rate. An immense feeling of gratitude came from the memory of the walk we had just had, the discoveries that were made and the relief to be in the warm again.

Signs of Spring are everywhere around us at the moment – the weather may be cold, and sometimes inclement, but Nature knows that the time has come for emergence and growth. I encourage everyone to turn this change in the seasons into a delightful experience of awareness.

Autumn Mindfulness Morning 21st October

A perfect way to boost your well-being this Autumn!
The term Mindfulness is being used more often these days, but what is it all about? Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation practice whilst incorporating activities which resonate with contemporary lifestyles.

It is a gentle, easy way to reduce stress and anxiety, to help you live more in the present and develop appreciation for each moment.

Mindfulness practice helps us to let go of mind chatter and judgement. It also helps us to foster compassion for ourselves and others.

This workshop will introduce you to mindfulness using practical techniques which are easy and enjoyable to try.

We’ll explore formal techniques such as following the breath, body scan or loving kindness meditation, and try some informal ways of mindfulness practice which can easily be continued at home.

The price of this workshop is £27.
For bookings and enquiries please click here.

Enjoy being Mindful this Springtime

At last, the dark Winter days are over and Spring is here! But, how many of us are really paying attention to what is outside our window?

So much is happening right now! I originally trained as an environmental biologist and am now a passionate advocate of ecotherapy. I believe, and research has proven, that spending time out in nature is good for us! So, I invite you to step outside……. go to a local park, walk along a canal path, spend time in a bluebell wood, sit on a bench in your garden – and immerse yourself in the burgeoning life that is happening all around you this Spring.

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Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sunshine on your face and body; listen to the symphony of birdsong; feel the breeze in your hair and upon your cheeks and hands; look at the colours – the vibrant greens, the blossoms, the gorgeous blue-purple of the bluebells. Gently touch and feel the delicacy of petals, breathe in and smell the scents of the flowers and tree blossoms. Be fully present in these moments, experience them completely, with all your senses. And know that you are intrinsically connected to nature and can reconnect any time you choose to.

 

8 week Mindfulness course starts in May

I’m delighted to be offering an 8 week mindfulness course in the community, starting 8th May.    If you want to develop a regular mindfulness practice, better manage stress, calm the mind and cope with juggling a busy life, this is for you! Mindfulness can help you to develop compassion towards yourself and others, bring in a sense of well-being and to let go of judgemental thinking. Within a small group, this eight week life skills course will include mindfulness meditation, gentle stretching and movement, mindful walking, group dialogue and discussion, combined with your own home practice.

The course will take place at The Old School Community Hub, Ivinghoe, on Monday evenings on the following dates: 8th, 15th, 22nd May, 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th June, 3rd July. There are just 9 spaces in total and bookings are open.

For further information and to book your place on this course, please use my contact form or email at sara@saragreenwood.co.uk

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a group-based programme developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre, Centre for Mindfulness (CFM) for populations with a wide range of physical and mental health problems. It has been extensively studied since the late 1970s.

The ancient practice of mindfulness, adapted from its use as a spiritual practice, is rendered into an accessible form relevant to contemporary life with its accompanying stresses, stimuli and issues.  The course is not tailored to any particular diagnosis. The course thus involves developing a mindfulness meditation practice together with discussion on stress and life skills.  The evidence base on MBSR shows significant positive effects with participants with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, generalised anxiety disorder and panic, psoriasis, cancer and health care provider self-care.