Tag Archives: mindfulness

Nurturing your soul

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This last weekend I have been taking time to stop and reflect, I attended a retreat led by Ian and Gail Adams, the retreat was very spacious with lots of opportunity for stillness practice. Some of my favourite times were sat in silence with my feet in a pool and also swimming, silently, with others. Attending a retreat, at this time of the year gives me the space to think about the year ahead ( I still think in school years as that is now the bulk of my work). It is also a valuable time to nurture my soul, to be fed and nourished. I noticed this year that many of the people attending were therapists or worked in a caring role. I think all of us in this position knew that we need to have time to be nurtured ourselves if we are to go on and give out to others.

One of my thoughts from this weekend has been around self-love.

In my nurture role, the underpinning principle that I encourage the Ta’s and teachers to understand is that the children we work with need to feel that they are loved, they are special and they are safe. We all know that to be loved is a fundamental need that everyone has. Until the children know this, they are not in a position to develop and thrive.

Supporting children who are scared and overwhelmed can be challenging. It is so important that the adults are in a good place themselves, that the adults have a good wellbeing. I believe an essential part of having a good wellbeing is by loving ourselves. This can happen in many different ways, through taking time to do something we enjoy, resting, eating well, exercising but also we need to think about how we nurture and love our soul, our spiritual wellbeing.

In my book on adult wellbeing I have a chapter on spiritual wellbeing, this is something which is often overlooked when we think about our wellbeing. An element of spiritual wellbeing is about feeling connected, feeling part of something bigger than ourselves. For some spiritual wellbeing is about engaging in religious practices, for others it is about contemplative practice outside of religious practice. There is growing evidence that spiritual practices are linked with an increase in better health and wellbeing.

The retreat this weekend was excellent to help me refocus on my spiritual wellbeing, it reminded me of some important practices and taught me new ones. With all of these things, we need to keep practising, keep engaging, noticing our wellbeing and how we are feeling. When we can see that something is out of line, we need to address that. I know, to be able to work at my best in September with my nurture children I need to spend time caring for myself and allowing myself to be nurtured by others, and Ian and Gail did this very well.

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Enjoying the moment and practicing gratitude.

 

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At times life can feel busy, fraught as if things are happening and I get caught in them rather than actively taking part in them. During this month I have been trying hard to feel present, to enjoy the moments and to practice gratitude. I have started a journal this year, a journal to write down the things I am feeling grateful for. This practice of gratitude helps me to see the good moments, even in a day which has felt very hard. This last week has had some wonderful moments to be grateful for, a walk in beautiful sunshine with my daughter, excellent feedback on Mummy’s Got Bipolar book, children joyfully engaging in an activity, attending a protest march, watching beautiful sunrises as I arrive back from my daily swim

This last week it has felt particularly important to be grateful for the life I have and the opportunities I have. Last Sunday we spent time with a close friend who is dying of cancer, the conversations were around the time she has left, the things she wants to do, her regrets about what she hasn’t done but also the joy of the life she has had. These conversations brought to the front of my mind the importance of enjoying the here and the now, the importance of embracing and loving the life I have. I am also aware as a woman in the UK I am so fortunate; I run my own business, I have the freedom to be creative and try new things, I feel safe in the area that I live and in the job that I choose to do. I don’t agree with the politics of the leaders of my country, but at least I am not hearing that our Prime Minister is advocating the groping of women and the verbal mockery of disabled people. For this reason, I took part in the women’s march in Bristol  yesterday, to celebrate the fact that I am free to protest, I am a strong, healthy and able woman who can have her voice heard and I can speak out against injustices.

This poster from yesterday felt like words of truth for me, I am grateful that I am a strong woman, that I am surrounded by strong women who are my friends and that I have raised two strong daughters. For these things, I am very grateful.

Being thankful

 

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With the depressing world news this week of Trump being voted in and rising numbers of hate crime, racism and sexism across the UK and America. I find it easy to be sucked into the darkness of the world news, of the media, to begin to view everything through negative lenses and miss the beauty and good things which are happening around me. To try and counteract this I have been trying hard to practice thankfulness. Thinking of things each day which I am thankful for, things which have been positive.

Some weeks in the nurture role you have to work quite hard to find the positives, but this week it was wonderful to see the children I work with coping well, taking part, enjoying school and smiling. Yesterday I trained Sunflowers day nursery, I have worked with them many times over the years, it was a joy to spend time with them again, to see how they have developed, I was reminded how much I love training, how I love supporting and nurturing staff to develop ideas, try things out, reflect and ask questions and how much I learn from them, once again I left Sunflowers feeling inspired and enthused about the richness of early years practice.

This morning I walked around the meadow at the back of our house, I love the Autumn morning when the sun is rising and there is mist hanging over the valley, a reminder of the beauty that is around me.

Through the darkness and the negative stories I know I need to find the positives, to notice the good things which bring me hope and make me smile.

Mindful moments foraging for sweet chestnuts

 

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This half term has given me the time and space to slow down, think, reflect and enjoy the autumn. I have been thinking a lot this week about well-being, how I reflect this in my nurture work and my business, how I bring a sense of well-being into the training I deliver. An essential part of well-being for me is being aware of feelings, thoughts and the effect this has on the body. Many of the children I work with through the nurture role find it hard to name feelings and sensations in their body, so much of our work is helping to put them in touch with what is happening in their minds and their body.

I find mindfulness practice a really useful tool to stay in touch with my body and mind. I love the practice of stopping and noticing, for me, this fits so beautifully with my work with young children. Young children are often so good at noticing, taking a walk with a toddler can take so long! while they stop and peer at every snail, stick, stone and dog poo. As adults we have something to learn from this, taking the time to notice can be so enriching. I plan this week to be doing some listening and watching walks with my nurture children, stopping and noticing, listening and seeing what is around us and thinking about how that makes us feel.

This afternoon I went for a walk with my husband in the local woods, we found lots of sweet chestnuts and spent quite a while foraging through the leaves and shells to find chestnuts to take home. This was a wonderful moment, when you are foraging you have to give it all your attention, it becomes a very mindful experience, searching through leaves, watching out for the sharpness of the outer shells, looking for the shiny brown chestnut. We hadn’t planned to do any foraging, but we enjoyed the opportunity, space, the activity and later tonight we will enjoy roasting them on our open fire.

Learning to be self-compassionate

 

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I spend a lot of time in my nurture role reminding Ta’s and teachers that they need to be kind to themselves and self-compassionate, that these are essential to having good well-being. I spent a month writing a chapter about well-being for adults and looking at how we need to have good well-being ourselves if we want to improve children’s well-being. The last couple of weeks my husband and a close friend have reminded me that I need to be more self-compassionate, I need to be kinder to myself and think about my own well-being!.

This is so easy to say to others, I think I am good at nurturing other people, at encouraging others to think about their needs and usually, I remember to be kind to myself. But this term has been quite hard, there have been changes with our eldest moving away to uni, our youngest has been very poorly for weeks and my nurture work has felt very emotionally demanding. I feel that I have cried a lot these last 6 weeks, tears over work stories and tears of frustration, worry and loss. My self-compassion hasn’t been as strong as it could have!.

This week is half term, this week my aim is to do something each day which makes me happy, something each day which helps me to love myself. These will be simple but they will make me smile. I plan to plant bulbs for next spring, walk each day amongst the beautiful autumnal trees, listen to music, read books, drink coffee and share meals with friends, spend time with my daughters and husband, bake cakes and do some knitting and felting. I plan to enjoy the precious moments and enjoy the space the week will hopefully bring.

Finding space

 

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When your working life is filled with talking to adults and children, hearing people’s stories, being present for people, by the end of the week it can be a relieve to find some space and silence. This was how I felt yesterday afternoon, it has been a busy week and ended with delivering training yesterday morning, I felt in real need of some space and beauty.

In the afternoon I went to see an art exhibition which my husband had work in, it was in the Bishops palace at Wells. Afterwards, we walked through the gardens and found a garden of reflection, this was a beautiful, quiet space, with a large white wall and seated area, in the space your eyes are drawn up to the sky. In this space, I found the silence, space, the beauty my soul was desiring.

I think we know when our heart and body is telling us we need to find space and silence, we need to learn to tune into those messages. Just by spending 20 minutes in this space, in silence, I felt enriched and nourished.

What brings you joy?

 

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This is the last week of the school holidays, my nurture  work with 4 yr olds will start again next week. This week I will be reminding myself about my new children, thinking about how best to support them over the next few tricky weeks for them, I will be pulling in new resources I might need and generally preparing.

I know from previous years as a nurture consultant these first few months of the new school year can be really hard. I will be needing to make relationships with all new staff this year, building up their trust, I need to gain the trust of 7 small, scared children, who sometimes will display very challenging behaviour. To do this well I need to ensure I am taking care of myself, that I am finding ways to nurture myself.

For me an important part of nurturing myself is through trying to find something each day which brings me joy, this may be as simple as noticing the roses growing in my garden, enjoying eating some chocolate, it doesn’t need to be big things. By stopping, recognising and enjoying that joyful moment it helps to nourish me.
One of yesterday’s joyful moments was buying myself Dahlias from the local farmers market. I love Dahlias. Dahlias remind me of my Grandad and my Aunt, Grandad grew beautiful, bold Dahlias in his small back garden every year, alongside runner beans, I don’t remember him ever growing anything else. Every time I visited as a small girl, a teen and an adult, when the Dahlias were in bloom he would take me into the garden and show me with pride his flowers. My Aunt Pam also went on to grow Dahlias for years as well, I think she had some of the bulbs that Grandad started. I love gardening, but I can’t grow Dahlias, they always die, get eaten by slugs, look dreadful. So instead I always buy myself cut flowers. By looking at them it brings me so much joy and lovely memories of my Grandad and Aunt.