Life Doula

Holding Space

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Holding space has become a bit of a buzz term in recent years. Buzz strangely being the antithesis of holding space. I think many of us wonder what holding space really means?

For me It’s all about creating space for another person. What does that mean? Creating space is having the ability to literally invite someone into your life with the objective of sharing it. Many of us, that are on a go getting mission to live life to it’s fullest, are out there consuming people like they are products, we want cool friends, fun times and endless experiences. The truth is that very few humans are permanently on, and ready to party any time any where.

Creating space asks what we are able to give to another person simply by making time. That acknowledging another person’s humaness and need for connection is as much as anybody might need to heal. So when we create space it’s making time for those one-to-one chats. Turning off your phone and minimising interruptions, can be key to spending quality time with someone, whether it’s a friend, spouse or colleague.

Beyond the initial stage of creating space,  holding space for someone is the ability to be fully present and connect on their deepest level. Crucially when we hold space for someone, we are expectation free. We drop our agendas and we simply allow someone to be human. We create a safe space by dropping judgement and simply being. It’s kind of like a collaborative meditation. Where the other persona is allowed to say whatever they want and we sieve our soul for the kindest most generous way to respond.

Holding space for other people can be beneficial to your own personal journey of growth or self-discovery, you may find it very informative and insightful. Often from listening to other people, their pains and their challenges, we can develop our own personal insight. We can manage to catch what we think before we say it and realise that often that our internal dialogues are highly demanding, unfair and often unreasonable. So there is a lot to be gained personally from holding space.

Holding space is at the core of what I do. It’s one of the main reasons I am a Life Doula and not a coach. I believe that when people are experiencing serious growth that they deserve to be witnessed by another human. I often liken the human growth process the the human birth process. We don’t leave a mother alone and vulnerable to tough it out. We hold space for her and we understand that we are there to fulfill the roles that she is unable fulfill for herself. We also understand there is no time limit to this. Labour takes as long as it takes and postpartum support, is too, part of that process. Crucially when we are holding space we don’t need validation or approval. We are there because we want to be. We put our own needs aside and place another person at the very center of our focus. We are not attached to an outcome. That does not mean to say that we can’t take a boundaried approach to our gift of presence, it’s more a matter of providing powerfully with the time that we have. Holding space, sounds, looks and feels very different to different people. Creating space isn’t just about creating silence, it’s opening up to another persons possibilities. Finding out what it is that we want to share. As humans we all have so many complex multi-facted frames of reference it’s absurd that to think that we might have all the answers to somebody else’s problems. The best we can do is be there.

 

 

 

The Path Ahead

IMG-7315Another earth year is rapidly coming to an end again, at least in the western world. Where we begin and end seems for us adults to have already melded into a blur or birthday parties and end of year functions where we are all supposed to get long. Life is supposed to be taking us on one linear up cycle, the one that was predicted for us when we attended school.

We already know that life isn’t like that and as we sit considering the last earth year we might consider; what exactly is going on in our lives? and what next year holds for us? The end of year can be an important time to plan for the year ahead or change track completely. Many of us are so deeply caught in the cycle of production and consumption that we are barely able to give our emotional or if we are really getting advanced spiritual needs a thought. We believe that with more money that we will have the ability to buy the things we want to create our own happiness. Whether it be objects or experiences that we wish to purchase the idea of our happiness can often seem to be balanced in our banking account rather than our own deeper truth.

You can’t purchase your own truth you have to get deep down and jiggy with it in the wee small hours, doing the inner work. Now, (as it is always) is a great time to consider the path ahead. Life is simply made of up of choices and circumstances. We have absolute power to change what takes priority in our lives. There are also a multitude of things that we can choose to prioritise, whether it be health, family, friends, spiritual growth, work or finances.

Although we may not need to change everything in one day we do need to have a road map of how to get from where we are to where we want to be. Like any adventure, you may start out with no idea of where you going on what you might want to do. Getting started is as bold a decision as any, and you must congratulate yourself for it. We may not need to make a physical journey to find out what is important to us. It is important that we follow our joy. To long have we put off happiness in the hope that money can buy it for us. It’s time for us to consider what will make us truly happy and move towards what can take us there. There may be things that we need to find out along the way to know what is important to us. It’s time to evaluate. It’s time to take stock and think about what is truly serving us. It may be our work, it maybe the people in our lives, it may even be where we live or the basic rhythm of our daily lives. Maybe you get up to early or too late and you wonder where the secrets to an actual better day lies. What do you want? What do you like? These may have been questions you have never asked yourself. They may have been things that you have been denied your whole life. It’s time to ask those questions now. It’s time to write a bucket list and wonder what are you waiting for? Not only that who you want to share the experience with? Maybe there is nobody, maybe there is somebody, are you waiting for that someone to arrive?

There are a lot of questions to ask and a lot of answers to find as you begin to unpick what the next year holds. It’s time to design the life you want in the hope of appreciating what you have.

 

 

Growth

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Too easily we talk about change, building new lives or making drastic choices in order to move swiftly into the next stages of tomorrow. That all of a sudden everything will be different, that the slate is wiped clean and we can start again without a shadow in our minds or a cloud in a clear blue sky. That’s not reality and that is quite simply not how life here on earth has been designed.  To make radical change and to cut off what we were doesn’t make sense, especially when we look at an old tree or our elders, we see that those that we most respect embrace the age and status, the scars of life and are happy to tell their tale without shame or remorse. They have learned to accept who they are and their choices, they embrace the subsequent consequences as part of who they have become. Growth really is a process of integration more than anything else, where we learn to accept the things that cannot change, especially the past, no matter how painful or terrifying.

We have to learn how to embrace it as part of ourselves and then ultimately set boundaries as to how much power the past has to impact on a flourishing future. After all, it’s only our memory of what happens and our wilfulness to breathe life into that memory that gives it any power to persist to remain.

There is also a lot to be said for growth not being possible without a certain amount of decay or destruction. We only have to look at plants themselves in order to understand the order of things. Plants grow naturally in the debris of their own decay. Letting go of what no longer serves them, is the fuel that sustains their growth. It’s quite an incredible thing really when you think on it. Trees only grow in unison of the trees and plants that surround them, all growing together. Letting go and standing together, their roots and branches all intertwined.

The greatest growth happens as part of a symbiosis through friendships, families and communities that support and carry us. The greatest challenge can be to find those who are going to encourage and support you as you follow through your natural progression in life.

Embrace The Seasons Of Life

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I’m working on a new theory, that has no basis other than my own musings and some unsubstantiated references that I can’t fully remember.

The Seasons Of Life is something that has been bumping around my head ever since I first connected with Stevie Nick’s Landslide . Can I handle the seasons’ of my life? I’ve been carrying this lyric around with me for some time now it’s poetry captures something that we are all aware of, that we can’t quite put our finger on. We as humans have our own rhythms that follow a life cycle unique to us. Kind of like dog years. Our life cycles have less to do with earth years than we might imagine as our home planet circumferences the sun.

Our lives can feel split into very different stages and in fact we can feel like very different people to ones we we started off as. Yet very little in society is geared towards these changes, understanding them or accepting them. Instead we are programmed to be emotionally contained, financially viable, reproductive, ageless machines.

We are all expected to have family focused, connected lives without any guidance as to how, especially when we come from dysfunctional families ourselves. Yet respect is only garnered when we are raising families or indeed self-parenting ourselves in the perfect set up for our age. Whether it be a student flat in our early twenties, co-habiting partnership in our thirties, family homes in our forties and so it continues. Set one foot out of alignment with this carefully concocted materialistic display of how your life should be and you’ll feel the advert of human life short changing you. Unless you’ve been living on the family plot from the start? Then you just the centre of almost every movie ever made. You’re live is what has come to be expected of almost every film ever made, or lifestyle magazine. An established home of the upper middle classes that will allow you to flourish at poetry production and even get published (though it may not be any good).

So the seasons? Gestation, Infancy, Childhood, Puberty, Adulthood, Relationship, Parenthood, Elder, Death. None of them anything to do with money, all bringing their own emotional territory as we go along. Nought much to do with the planet either, Earth years just mark our supposed passages. When really they come in their own time. In their own season, not to be presupposed by our own human expectation.

After all “A swallow does not a summer make”

So there you have it the seasons of human life.

 

 

 

Enrichment

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Way back in the day all the beautiful stones in the world were apparently magically discovered only in river beds and were there waiting to be plucked out for us to enjoy. Now most of our gem stones come from deep underground and are laboriously mined and forced to the surface. I’m not saying one method is better than the other. Both methods involved some kind of work; getting wet and the other one digging deep.

As you’re lying, gasping for air, exhausted with your life, you are probably wondering what I’m asking of you? And if you have the capacity to continue. Well it’s a cop out. Only you know that. What I can say is that if you are very close to drowning or in the darkest of places there is treasure where you are. Next, you think I’m going to say “time heals everything”. No not really, however distance does. Why else would we end up on these strange cumbersome adventures. The thing is living in despair, which is a lot different to depression (though I doubt you’re going to find a super chipper desperado). It’s like going into an underground pub only to come out and be blinded by the light. To be desperate is to have teetered on the edge of hopelessness. If you’re lying on your back floating in the abyss right now wondering why you haven’t drowned, that the sharks haven’t eaten you, yet, and more than a little fucked off that they haven’t. Then I am probably the right guru for you (please bear in mind I don’t actually profess to know anything). I’m not talking about things going wrong for a day or a week or a year I’m about things going wrong for decades. Fucking decades and well if you have been there and every day is a struggle, a god damn war. Life is pointless it has no meaning.

That’s from your perspective. Perspective is the only thing that you have to change and given that you’ve probably physically experienced going round corners there’s a good chance that changing perspective is possible for you.

That sounds fucking patronising; that if you can walk round corners you can change your life? And well maybe it is. Seriously though maybe you are standing too close to the wall that you want to push through. There are many ways to overcome obstacles and if you want to break down a wall you have to be aware of the things that you might need. Just like breaking down a door you might want to take a step back in order to gain velocity and create force. Alternatively, you might want to build up speed to climb it. Or maybe with enough overview you might see a door out or a window through or even the edge or something.

We are all going to die anyway? Yes we are? And yes in this age we as humans seem to engage with existential crisis with a certain amount of vigour it’s entirely possible to wonder at the point of it all?

Embracing your insignificance is a bountiful step on the path back to the road that you are suppose to be on. What the actual fuck!? Just think about it a bit more. We are all invisible anyway why not use your super power for good.

So keep floating in the abyss. Don’t accidentally wake up dead and I’ll see you in the next installment.

Human = Emotional Creature

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It’s a simple thing really isn’t it. Feelings. They are what your feel, from stubbing your big toe to having your first kiss there is a whole host of sensations and emotions that accompany us throughout our lives; that largely dictate if life is going to be an enriching experience for us.

Feelings make up so much of who we are, imagine Marvin the Depressed Robot if he wasn’t depressed, or any number of the Mr Men and Little Miss book’s characters. If we didn’t feel and thus express ourselves in certain ways we wouldn’t be quite who we are, or in some cases even recognisable. Identifying our feelings truthfully can be much harder than we think. As children we are barely given a compass to navigate the simplest of emotions of happy and sad, little less embrace their own vulnerabilities.  We wonder why toddlers are frustrated. They don’t have the understanding or the words to express their inner feelings.

There are so many feelings from ecstasy to agony yet we rarely pinpoint them when they occur. If we did we might find out a lot more about out ourselves. In fact admitting to our emotions can be some of our most courageous inner work. I mean let’s just look at the German word of schadenfreude it’s with a wry sense of discomfort that most of us can admit to taking delight in another misfortune. Yet it’s an emotion many of us have felt without openly admitting to.

Often we feel things that seem extreme, unconnected, reactionary, delayed even inappropriate and we wonder why? Our lives can be dominated by powerful emotions many of us are fuelled by rage, even righteousness or driven by love and compassion. We can even have shame based reactions to our emotions believing we should be stronger, unaffected, that vulnerability is a crime and weakness is some kind of societal disease.

When we unpack our emotions we can soon begin to see that black and white situations become grey and our feelings are far more complex and graduated than we might ever have thought. Slowly we can see that our internal dialogues and inner landscapes are skewed by the stories that we tell ourselves based on feelings we are attached to and belief systems that we have undertaken. If we follow our feelings we have the ability to find deep meaningful answers to some of our most pressing musings.

As adults we can wildly spring from hurt to angry and forget all about betrayed, disappointed and sad. What if we said “I’m sad you betrayed me?” What if we knew where the hurt came from? And rather than say “You hurt me” “I am disappointed because I expected you to keep your word?”

Observing our feelings can provide our greatest insights into ourselves. If we look deeper rage can give way to resentment, resentment can give way to resistance, then eventually resistance yields. When we acknowledge our feelings we can allow them to change themselves.

 

Seeking Souls

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So last week #Metoo erupted and I got deeply emerged in the fall out. I wrote the previous article to offer some kind of support and took myself way off my own blogging track.  I am now back here in search of my own dharma. I’m pleased to find that I had already outlined the beginnings of the post below and I hope that anybody I have picked up from the #Metoo movement might find the following post useful……

Congratulations you’ve made it this far. I don’t know what has brought you here to this webpage or blog post and wonder what made it so clickable for you. Something must have jumped out, that you’ve been looking for. Maybe you’re looking for a birth partner. Maybe you’re looking for a life partner? Or maybe you’re just curious? What I can tell you, it has taken me a long time to for me to find exactly the right world that might describe how best a Life Doula might serve you or indeed what a Life Doula is. Which might explain why this is blog post number 4.

I can be your ally: The Life Doula is A Cheerleader for Humans.

A Life Doula is an emotionally supportive and practical assistant that will offer comfort and create actionable solutions for those in need. This work can be delivered through talks, workshops, group sessions, meet-up, retreats, writing, social media interaction and private sessions.

“We have finite resources on a finite planet” The human world is in crisis and the only way to address the challenge that we face as a species is to heal humans so that we are able to live meaningful lives, have happy homes, functional families, caring and connected communities, integrated settlements and harmony on the planet.

If you like the sound of what a Life Doula has to offer you belong to an integrative shift in the human species to thrive here on planet earth.

As a Life Doula I love humans that want to heal emotional wounds, improve their quality of life and create positive support systems for themselves.

My focus is on creating emotional comfort and intends to assure, affirm and activate.  My job is to allow you rest and nourishment, feed your soul and lift your spirits, give you what I can spare and some tools for the road. Then let you go on your merry way knowing, that you can always return to me should it serve you. That’s the idea and the hope. That you find a connection.

My approach is sincere, gentle and relaxed and starts with a conversation so that we can first understand how we relate to one another. The conversation is built around coaching principles and runs at a natural pace that should support you to feel comfortable. If you decide that you trust me, from there, where appropriate, we can move into process work that can help shift and change many inner dialogues and/or beliefs. This is permission based work and will only be undertaken should you give consent. Longer sessions allow for you to gain significant insight into the core of a dilemma and find a truth that works for you. If you so choose I can provide you with additional support that can come in multiple forms from daily messages to micro sessions on the move or something as simple as a hug.

As you spend time with me you will begin to experience time differently. My time is fluid and is punctuated by natural breaks that work in rhythm with natural cycles.

You may wonder what exactly differentiates the work or a Life Doula with that of a coach or even councillor? I suppose ultimately it’s a practice based in the human emotion: love. As humans we have become so disconnected from ourselves and our environs, that love at the center of care (except in a family environment) has become alien. A good listening ear, a warm beverage and a cosy blanket are as much as anyone might need to feel better.

I don’t believe that it is appropriate that someone in deep emotional pain should have to undergo the cold clinical intervention of science or be coached into a “place at the top”. It’s so divisive. In a world where humans are treated as dysfunctional machines rated on their financial productivity rather that their human contribution #Metoo being a very clear indication of the degradation of the human soul; that can’t recognise or respect the sacred  nature of a woman. The divine feminine that has the selfless desire to nurture.

As humans we are emotional creatures it’s time to embrace this fact and live life with our feelings at our center.