Can Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Assist in the Release of Emotional and Physical Pain?

I’ve had acupuncture before at a physiotherapist clinic and for the most part, it was good. It certainly helped me release some physical tension in my body and relaxed me somewhat but when I had Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, the effect was something completely different.

I stumbled across a good acupuncturist in Bali and for some reason the first time I came across him, I didn’t end up booking a session but when I ended up in his presence again (at Hubud, a co-working space in Ubud, Bali) I decided that this might be a sign and I booked a session – trusting my intuition here was the best thing I did because this treatment at that time brought around a whole mindset change. My Therapist for this session was Ben Elan who’s services include Narrative Counselling and Classic Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Cupping). He offers a very holistic care service with talk therapy, and energy work based on the intuition and agreement of client and therapist, the way I believe all therapies should be.

My review is set into three parts – description of the session, how I felt directly before and after the four sessions and my overall review.

The sessions

There were four sessions in total and they were spaced over a course of 4 weeks with a week between treatments. The first session lasted 90 minutes and involved a thorough consultation period, where I explained the physical pain on my left side, how long it had been there, significant life events, and of course the most recent traumatic events. Ben asked a series of questions and I answered them in as much detail as I could. As I’ve talked out the traumas and my life events so much I’m quite happy and open to explain everything and give a therapist as much information as they need so that they can use their experience and knowledge to assess how best to treat me.  After the initial 90 minute session, the following 3 sessions they took on average 60 minutes each, as the consultation period was more of a review of what had happened in the last week since the last session, however we would usually find that some additional life information would pop up and provide more of an insight to Ben and his decision of how to treat me for that session. Following the consultation period, I would lie on the massage couch, on my back while Ben took my pulse on both of my wrists one at a time. This usually took about 5 minutes per wrist and would give him an idea of how my energy was running through my body – not being an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine I don’t have much of a clue what this means, but when he explained to me what he could feel my pulse his assessments were a clear representation of how I felt inside. For example he explained that he could feel a haze, which is normal after trauma because it’s a way of protecting the body. That falls in toe with how I would sometimes feel completely numb to certain things, as though I was unable to access certain feelings. After this, Ben would tell me how many needles he would like to use and where he would like to place them and then he asked me if this was ok with me. Of course, it was, that’s what I was there for but it felt very empowering as a client to be asked if this was ok, something I always appreciate.

There were never more than five needles used and the number of needles depended on my current state of mind, my pulse and what Ben believed was safe and appropriate for that session. During one appointment he only used two needles because he was concerned that I might have a strong reaction if I had more than that, which wouldn’t be good if I wasn’t ready for it. “It’s like if you pull a scab off that’s not really healed underneath yet, the wound will just scab over again” he said. I liked that analogy and he was spot on because even with two needles I had a strong reaction after that session. It was a positive strong reaction but it felt very powerful, three needles might have overwhelmed me.

For those who haven’t had acupuncture before and might be concerned about the needles, I can assure you that they don’t hurt more than a light scratch. They’re not the type of needles used in syringes; in fact they’re a lot thinner, at most they feel like a scratch when they penetrate the skin and then there’s a somewhat dull ache when the needle hits an energy point. The needles would usually stay in for about 20 minutes, and then Ben would remove them and ask if I’d like a glass of water. Just like all therapies, it’s important to drink plenty of water to flush out toxins in the body once the energy (physical or meridian) has been moved around. After the session, we would usually have a chat about what I might expect to feel and he would assure me that I could contact him if I felt unsure about anything, which was really reassuring.

Throughout the four sessions Ben worked on a variety of things and having a sequence of sessions with one practitioner was really beneficial because we could reflect on how I’d felt the week after the treatment. During the first session he concentrated on my general energy flow and placed needles accordingly to see how I would react, I felt fine straight after and very relaxed that evening. During the second session he started to get a bit more strategically, I guess he had a good idea of how I was reacting to the acupuncture. For this session he concentrated on my left side on the pain that I regularly experience – the ‘heart protector’ area because the muscles there seemed tight and overworked (can you blame me after the year I’ve had??). After this session I was quite emotional and did have a few strong emotional releases throughout the week following this appointment. On the third session he simply placed two needles on my right wrist and elbow to help open up my heart energy flow and this is where I had the strong reaction. Straight after I was full of energy and in a very positive mood which lasted for quite a few days before I then had a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but I felt physically less tense and happy within myself, something which I had lost in all the numbness. The final session was a more of a general session to get my energy flowing and I also had some suction cups on my back because I was experiencing the beginning of a cold. Suction cups apparently help rid the body of toxins. After the final session I felt sleepy and exhausted, but that was probably more because I was becoming ill rather than the acupuncture, however processing all those emotions, at that intensity and speed probably was starting to tire me out after four weeks.

Pre-session sense check – (20 April 2016, the day before my first session)

Physically – At the start of the four sessions, I still had the grappling pain on my left side. The pain would stem from the back of my neck, across my shoulder, spreading across the front and back of my chest, under my arm and down my left arm, down to my ring finger. I’ve had the pain on and off for about 6 years, which was about the time that I started to feel unsupported emotionally (this ties in perfectly with what Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life has to say). It goes on and off but intensifies at times when I feel vulnerable or scared. Generally, I felt a little fatigued at the start of the 4 weeks but that’s something I was coming to accept after experiencing the emotional traumas – processing is exhausting.

Emotionally – I still felt like I was in a bit of a flux emotionally. Ok one minute then not the next, confused most of the time as to whether I was feeling clear headed or not, and in general still a little numb sometimes. During the time I was having the acupuncture sessions I was in a period of ‘time out’ to specifically work on process things as they came up and working on accepting and expressing my emotions. I was knee deep in a messy process and I wasn’t sure when I was going to be done so I was just taking things one day at a time, and Bali allows for this which I am grateful for.

Post session feeling – (23 May 2016 – 3 weeks after my final session date, 2 May 2016)

Physically – It was during the third session that I felt a physical release in my left shoulder. I had two needles in my right arm and they were placed strategically to help open up my heart – the physical pain that I was experiencing was from my heart being tightly protected (and who could blame me after everything that I’d been through). I remember this session vividly because after it I was full of energy and I felt like a whole weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt light again and I had forgotten what it felt to be like that, that pain that used to come on and off over the last 6 years has dissipated completely and it’s remarkable to feel so free from it.

Emotionally – Just before the last session of acupuncture I remember feeling like I was just bored of my trauma story now. I had a complete mind shift in the last week of the acupuncture sessions (and last week in Bali) and I felt like I was making decisions with a clearer mind, one that wasn’t so muddled up by emotional stories playing scare tactics in my brain. A mind that wasn’t fogged by emotions, judgements and should I or shouldn’t I. Since the last session I have felt more open, refreshed and comfortable in my own skin to the point where I feel like I can be here for others – a state which I haven’t felt for a long time.

Overall

I was having the acupuncture sessions during my last month in Bali and it was a time when I had decided to stay in one place and work through my emotions, so as well as having the acupuncture I was also talking through a lot of things, dancing and expressing myself creatively. However, I know that acupuncture has a strong effect on me and I think it was the tool that I needed to help speed up my recovery journey and get me to the point where I felt empowered to move forward to the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be (stay tuned). As well as working with a therapy that I know I respond to, a lot of this also comes down to the therapist and in this case I couldn’t have asked for someone more intuitive or safe than Ben. He has an air about him which creates a space of emotional safety and I could feel this from the moment that I met him, almost like that comforting feeling of someone you trust placing their hand on your shoulder. I found him to be professional and supportive throughout the treatments and the ability for him to hold space for himself and for me, his client was something that he was able to do very successfully. This is extremely important as a therapist because without this security then I client cannot relax into their hands, inhibiting their own recovery by holding back. Ben allowed me to feel safe enough to express my emotions and vulnerabilities fully, which I know aided my response to the treatment even more.

Acupuncture worked for me and I was lucky enough to find a very intuitive therapist which is key to any treatment. It’s something that is worth exploring and I would highly recommend it for someone who is going through any emotional or physical pain. Going to an acupuncturist who is also a trained counsellor was also very beneficial. I’m unsure as to whether all Traditional Chinese Acupuncturists are trained in counselling but it is definitely worthwhile finding one who is and arranging to have a series of sessions to allow for sense checking and reflections. Check out my 3 step guide to finding the right therapist if you’re ready to start your own healing journey.

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Therapy Review: A Week at Osho Leela on the Community Experience Program

Whilst exploring therapies in Bali a friend told me about a place back home in the UK which he strongly recommended I visit if I was seriously interested in therapy exploration. I remember at first, thinking that some of the things that he told me sounded a little bit strange and initially my reaction was something like ‘a community experience at some spiritual centre? No thanks’ but as he told me more about Osho Leela and their no bullsh*t approach I began to become intrigued and I booked myself on a one week of the Community Experience Program. That one week really opened my eyes to an integral and authentic approach to self-development, with the kind of realism that I’ve been craving as I work on my own trauma recovery.

Osho Leela is a community in Dorset which runs workshops on a variety of subjects all to do with personal growth. Concurrently they run a Community Experience Program which is an opportunity to experience living in the community and doing certain exercises (active meditations) as well as working on house and ground upkeep as a affordable way of exploring personal growth, which is an amazing opportunity for those who can’t afford to do expensive workshops or therapy sessions but are committed to working on themselves.

The Osho Leela centre is a mixture of Osho teachings and Humaniversity therapy, basically, the combination of inner recognition with a psychological realism approach served on a plate of honest integrity. What do I mean by that I hear you ask? Well, I mean no fluffy spirituality talk shoved down your throat on the promise that all your inner conflict will be fixed by doing a few workshops or meditations. They’re authentic with the message that if you want to look inside yourself and grow as a person then they will provide the safe environment and opportunity but as with all personal growth work, the actual work comes down to the individual.

My review is set into three parts – description of the week, how I felt directly before and after, and my overall review.

Osho Leela

The Week

New Community Experience Program members (CEPs) arrive on Sunday afternoon and they’re greeted into the community by a long term community member with the usual introductions, why you’re here kind of conversation and just a general get to know each other. There were four of us, and everyone had either been here for a workshop or had been to an Osho centre before… apart from me, who as usual was just rocking up to try something out for the sheer fun of exploration. Exploring the inner self and all its scary dark shadows? Sign me up!

The CEP program has a working schedule made up of three mandatory meditations on weekdays, two of which are usually active meditation and one 30 minute vipassana. The active meditations are usually before breakfast and in the afternoon, with the vipassana typically before lunch. On the weekends the schedule usually doesn’t have the active meditations because the rooms are being used for workshops, but that doesn’t stop the organisers holding an impromptu dance rave ‘meditation’ on a Sunday evening for those with bubbling energy that needs expending.

As well as the meditations there is a morning meeting every day which starts with a gentle dance (which I am now of the opinion that this is the best way to start any meeting and also just a great way to start the day). After the dance, there’s general meeting-y kind of topics which are discussed, a welcome to new CEP’s and a goodbye to ones leaving and then everyone is released on to their work duties.

Throughout the week CEPs spend six hours a day up-keeping the house and the grounds, that can be anything from cutting the hedges or cleaning the bathrooms, through to cooking for up to 30 people. It gives the general community experience of everyone looking out for each other and understanding that we all have a vested interest in the upkeep of such a beautiful house so that it can be used for workshops that undoubtedly offset the cost of a very reasonable personal growth program. I’ve lived in communities before, mainly when I’ve taken part in volunteer or student opportunities and when they’re run well, like the Osho Leela one is, it leaves you with a sense of appreciation for hard work and pride in what you’ve accomplished. Even if it is just hoovering the stairs, making it look nice and clean is really gratifying.

Apart from the normal program, Wednesday is community day and that’s where the schedule changes. May I introduce you to the AUM meditation: Awareness, Understanding, and Meditation. This meditation is taken from the humaniversity side of Osho Leela and it’s a 1 & ½ hour session that explores 14 aspects of the human experience: hatred, forgiveness, love, stamina, life energy, chaos, dance, sadness, laughter, sensuality, chanting, silence, respect and sharing (humanaversity.com). To put it bluntly, it’s like speed dating with your emotions and as with any kind of dating, the best connections are made when you put shame aside and put all your effort in. It’s intense and it allows you to really shine a light into your dark shadows where some uncomfortable home truths might be hiding, but all within a safe and supportive environment, check out the full review here. After the AUM there was shower time – there are lots of showers breaks at Osho Leela because the active meditations make for very sweaty volunteers, but it’s because it feels a little like a cleansing ritual every time. Later on, in the day we had a group sharing which is an opportunity to confidentially talk about where you’re at and how you feel to the group. It’s also an opportunity for the organisers (who are also therapists) can give some guidance, much like any therapist would, which is insightful. It was also really beneficial to explore each emotion in the morning, reflect upon this and then openly share it with a group and two therapists because after the AUM I seemed to be a lot more in touch with how I was feeling, which was, in fact, a huge numbness. Like a haze that had been stirred up and was now waiting to lift. I can imagine that this kind of group sharing/therapy session is very beneficial for people who stay on the CEP program for a long period of time because there is the opportunity to bring out emotion, discuss it in a session and reflect continuously with therapists who get to know you well enough to ask you the right questions to help you pull yourself out of your old tricks and patterns.

Throughout the working week, there were a variety of Osho and Humanversity meditations that I took part in. The Khundalini Meditation, which is a shaking meditation, The Dynamic Meditation, which explored 5 areas of expression, Bio Energetics Meditation which combined dance and bending exercises, Sacred Earth Meditation which was a predominantly dancing, and also the Gibberish Meditation, an Osho Meditation which is literally talking gibberish. I’ve never known a place where there is such great exposure to such a wide variety of personal growth exercises with such a realistic an authentic approach.

Pre-session sense check (6 June 2016, 2pm – Arrival at Osho Leela)

Emotionally – I feel anxious and very resistant to being in the place which I spent over 3 hours driving to. I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting myself into this week or whether I’m ready to deal with the ‘crazy’ emotions that I could be suppressing deep down. In my head there’s a ‘what the hell am I getting myself into?’ kind of question, as images of floaty hippy types appear in my head, telling me to ‘Just be’ and then the fear of my fiery Arabic nature arising and telling them to F-off… It’s an interesting stereotype that I hold against the spiritual community, and the judgement and resistance towards myself on this journey too. I know that this resistance and judgement is a signpost to explore something, a deeper fear maybe because I don’t want to deal with the discomfort of my own emotions or a huge fear of vulnerability. This realisation of inner fear is what stops me from turning the car around and running away, that and the realisation that if I did do this then those emotions would just come along with me anyway.

Physically – My shoulder is tensing up and there was a definite stiffening up in my body as I drove down here but generally, I’m feeling quite awake and alert and I’ve been eating healthy food all day which is probably the reason for this. I’m also well rested so apart from tensing, my body generally feels in good health. There is a feeling of butterflies in my solar plexus, like a gut reaction of fear. It’s kind of like nerves butterflies but not the good kind, the kind that makes you feel a little nauseous but will gently fade away if ignored… Ignored for now at least.

Post-session sense check (13 June 2016, 4pm – Arrival back home)

Emotionally – I feel energised and empowered. I feel like I explored a lot about myself and my inner emotions this week and it’s left me feeling more accepting of myself. It’s difficult to put my finger on it but I feel free to be my authentic self and if people don’t like that then that’s ok, they’re not my kind of people so they can bugger off and make way for those who are.

Physically – My body is tired but also energised, which is weird because these two feelings seem to contradict each other but the best I can explain it is the feeling you have after a really good workout. Throughout the week I had to take some hour long naps, especially on the 4th and 5th day and I think this was because of the emotional processing, it just exhausted my body and I had to sleep to replenish my energy.

Overall

At Osho Leela, they are upfront about what they deliver – an opportunity for people to go deeper into their inner-self – with the support of therapists who can hold that emotional space, should anything overwhelming arise. I think the thing that I felt most reassured by Osho Leela was the acknowledgment of humanity here – that the people leading it are also only human too and equally have desires and needs that must be met. For example, in one day we might take part in active meditations, reflections, and open conversations about our innermost vulnerable truths, all in the safety of the house. Then some of us would go to the pub for a drink whilst another group gathered together and watched some apparently important football match (no idea which one). This strength and integrity is refreshing to see and by feeling this comfortable it allowed me to go full throttle with the meditations, no matter how ‘strange’ they seemed at first (yes, I had judgements and resistance… I am at least only human too). So regardless of the voice of resistance in my body and mind I pushed through the discomfort and delved right in.

Having meditated consistently for well over a year now I feel like I have the ability to step out of my emotions and see them for what they are – sometimes. I find this process to be a skill that needs regular practice, with the acknowledgement that perfection of it is an illusion. The tools that I picked up from the Osho Meditations were how to fully feel, express and manage emotions so that I don’t numb out like Western society conditions us to. I believe that by going deeper into emotions we widen the spectrum of what we can feel, so by becoming accustomed to my deepest anger, fear and shame I can also feel ecstatic, love and joy to a deeper level too, leading to a more fulfilling life. I mean that’s the point of us being here right? To live life to the full? Well, that’s what I believe anyway.

If you like this Therapy Review, please check out my Blog, my Sketches, and my Therapies.

When to Call it a Day With Your Therapist

We live in a bit of a ‘go to an expert to fix all my problems’ kind of culture and because of this I find that there can be a tendency to stay with a therapist longer than necessary or worse yet, stay with one that doesn’t necessarily help at all, yet because we’ve handed our power over them in the short-sighted belief that they can fix us we don’t even realise that we’re not getting better. Let me be clear about this – only you can heal yourself and it’s up to you to take that responsibility, find those tools (from the right therapists) and commit to doing that difficult work, yourself. I find that until this realisation is met many people spend a lot of time spiralling in avoidance and escapism spirals in the illusion that someone is healing them, when in reality only you can heal yourself. I know this because I experienced this first hand and had to call myself out on my own bullsh*t, but to do that takes awareness, reflection and courage, it wasn’t easy.

When I think about therapy, there are a lot of things at play here and ultimately the therapist is only human too so we have to see them for what they are – someone who provides tools for us to heal ourselves, whether that’s providing healing through massage for symptoms such as physical pain or a different perspective on how to think about life events. The role of a therapist isn’t to give the final fix solution and to think of them in this way is naive, like any other human, they might get it wrong or their judgement might get the better of them and this is ok (within reason) because they’re only human too. This isn’t to say that they should be allowed to work by sloppy practices, not at all. As long as they act professionally and try to do the best for the client with the tools that they have available to them I think it’s acceptable to acknowledge that they are on their own journey too, learning things and passing them on as they go. But ultimately the work that needs to be done remains within the responsibility of the client.

I’ve found that in order to really steer my recovery I had to keep asking myself a series of questions so that I didn’t get lost in the wishful thinking that x, y or z therapy was going to ‘heal me forever’ because that my friends, that, is delusional thinking. These are the questions that I use to sense-check my therapies and how they are currently working for me.

  1. Has this session made a positive influence on me?

If you read my therapy reviews you’ll notice that I do a physical and emotional sense check before and after each therapy review. By doing so I allow myself to check in with the current state, record them as they are, then I can go back to what I’ve written and objectively see whether or not the therapy was beneficial to me, rather than just rely on my (often rose-tinted) memory. If no positive difference has been made then you can choose to persist and see if you need a few more sessions to really get into it or consider that it may not be the one for you. If it’s positive, great! Stick with it for as long as you continue to get what you need from it.

  1. Am I still getting what I came here for?

Firstly what are you going to the particular therapy for? If you’re going to have your symptoms treated then regular sessions are probably useful and necessary, that’s how I use sports massages – a good way to manage the problem of my tense shoulder that is sometimes unbearably tight. However, if you’re looking to heal then it might help if therapy is seen as an opportunity to receive tools that help you solve your problems. I used my counselling sessions for both treatments of symptoms – I needed to vent in a non-judgemental space to release some pent up emotion but I also needed some objective viewpoint and knowledge of what might be happening in my brain to be able to understand, process and help myself in the reflection periods in between sessions. After quite a few sessions I reached a point where I felt like I’d attained all the tools that I needed from this counsellor and that particular therapy. It was the signpost that I didn’t need any more sessions, for then at least. I take comfort in the fact that I know a good counsellor who knows my baggage and can be there for more sessions as and when I need them for now though I feel quite capable of processing on my own and I know this comes from a place of reassurance, rather than fear of what’s in my subconscious.

  1. What does my intuition say?

Ultimately all therapists are only human and are still susceptible to human traits, such as mistakes, misjudgements and their own emotions. The most important role of a therapist is to create the security for you to be able to get what you need from them, whether that is emotional security in a meditation workshop, physical security in salon environment or psychological security in a counselling session. If you don’t feel safe then you won’t be able to indulge in the therapy. I found however, that the fear can either be a resistance to the therapy for fear of expression (usually because of the shame that our society associates with expression of emotion) or that it’s a legit message from my intuition that is telling me that this person/therapy isn’t right for me at this moment. I always air how I feel now and give the therapist the opportunity to make me feel secure, just in case it’s my own worry of what I’m too shameful to let go of, which most of the time it is. If the therapists answer fills me with integrity and security then I know that it was a fear of vulnerability/expression popping up but it’s always worth sense-checking this because I have had a few experiences where I’ve not been satisfied with the answer and I’ve upped and left the therapy altogether.

For example, my first experience with a counsellor after the attack was not positive but I fought my intuition and went back a second time and this time I told the counsellor of my expectations – of being able to get on a boat in 4 weeks time and sail from the UK to Mallorca, in winter, with three men I’d never met before. The answer I received rang alarm bells for me to change counsellor, it was “I would never recommend for any young woman to get on a boat across tricky waters with three strange men, let alone in the state that you’re in”. What happened here was that the counsellor had measured me by her own limitations when in reality our risk factors and capabilities are completely different. As a trained counsellor, she should have been able to extract her judgement from her professional opinion but she didn’t.  This is actually pretty bad practice for a counsellor and I hope that she has the mindfulness to reflect on this, and why I ultimately cancelled all our future sessions, however, I also recognise that like me, she’s also only human too and we’re all constantly working through things so I’m compassionate towards this. I can’t expect everyone to have the same level of courage, adventure and well, let’s be fair, recklessness that I may appear to have, I imagine for some this attitude to life is really scary. I can, however, choose to leave a therapist that doesn’t understand me and find one that does, which I did because ultimately I am in control my healing, no anyone else.

For the record, I got on that boat and sailed across those ‘tricky’ waters with those three ‘strange’ men.

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Are You Outrunning Your Emotions? If You Were, Would You Know?

I love to travel. It’s what I spend all my money on pretty much as soon as I get it. It’s not just the exploration of visiting new places and challenging the social norms that I bring with me but I love the actual travelling part too. Whether it’s a plane, boat or train I enjoy the suspension of knowing that I will be somewhere soon and have the time to build up the excitement within me for that next place.

What I didn’t realise is that for the past few years that I’ve travelled I’ve used it as a tool to escape when people came too close. I didn’t see it back then because I wasn’t consciously aware that I was doing it but nowadays I am conscious of this and I question myself when I embark on a new journey – am I leaving to run away from something or am I running towards something? And what might that something be?

 

This week I’m in Palma de Mallorca and the feelings that I have inside me are excitement, nourishment and an overwhelming sense of joy just to be here. Mallorca is the place where I arrive two years ago by boat on my first yacht delivery and from the moment that we secured the lines I liked the place. It felt like a place I could settle in, I speak Spanish, I love the people and enjoy the food and the culture so I decided to rent a flat here for 6 months and finally plant some roots whilst studying for my Yachtmaster. Those 6 months didn’t go quite as planned as a month later the traumas started rolling in, heartbreak and then getting attacked. I remember coming back to this place that I love so dearly in January 2015 (after having returned from the Caribbean) and feeling like I really didn’t want to be here. No matter what friends were here who were here before I felt like a stranger, no matter what places I knew previously I felt like a foreigner and no matter how much the sun shines, inside I felt dark and broken and un-fixable. The place which I’d finally decided to call home was now the last place I wanted to be and with that, I ended my flat rental early and moved back to my parents house in the UK where I started to see a counsellor to help me get through the post-traumatic stress that was starting to pop up in my life.

 

Since then I have visited Palma, I stayed for a month in May 2015 in between yacht deliveries. Although I didn’t feel as strongly negative towards the place as I had done in January I remember still feeling very unsettled inside, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be in Palma, I just didn’t actually want to be anywhere. So I jumped on the next delivery to Athens and continued to run away from those feelings, not realising that they would be on the dock in Athens waiting for me to pick them up again.

 

This time, it’s different, I feel different. I’ve got the carefree confidence of travelling that I had before being smashed by the traumas, but with the knowledge that I have real strength now to stop and sit through discomfort, vulnerability and any other intense negative emotion. I had it all along but I was so scared to deal with those negative feelings that I was never willing to find out that inner strength until it was tested. What’s interesting is visiting the same places where I once felt loved and also once felt destroyed, reflecting on this and realising that I was projecting the feelings that I had inside out onto my external environment. Whereas now I realise that if I can maintain a positive feeling inside then the outside reflects this back at me. Now that doesn’t mean pretending to be happy and positive on the outside when I’m actually feeling insecure or upset on the inside, no, infact that would mean putting on a superficial mask and basically bullsh*tting myself. It means giving space to those negative emotions when the arise to validate them, express them and let them pass so I can go back into my generally positive outlook, which is now back to being my centre point. Without doing that I know that the negative feelings will keep on popping up until they are dealt with and no matter how many miles I travel they will still be right there with me.

 

“Resistance means Persistence” is what a good friend in Bali once told me. “The more you try to busy yourself away from the difficult emotions, the more they’ll persist until you deal with them” she would say, and she was right. They did.

 

It’s a reminder to me that when my first reaction is no, or I don’t want to be here, or I don’t need to do that, to stop and see what emotion is driving that response. Is it fear from being vulnerable? Am I running away from something that I need to deal with? Or is there something else at play? Questions and reflections that keep me on an ever-learning path.

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