November’s message of self-acceptance

01/11/2020 at 9:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The trees around me in Wiltshire UK where I live are fast losing their colourful canopies as we approach winter. Leaf by leaf, they reveal their true shape. This is the perfect time to notice that there is no such thing as a perfect tree. They are all asymmetrical. Limbs and branches twist and extend in a mysterious pattern. We accept and delight in a tree’s unique shape. Why then should we not delight in our own unique human forms? 

Seen without judgement, human beings are gorgeous examples of creation. I’m pretty certain we are adored by the divine, creative force that lies within and beyond all living beings. And yet we can be so quick to find fault with ourselves. Even something as simple and natural as our age or weight can become something we prefer to hide. Think, for a moment, about how conscious so many of us are about our height. We feel too short or too tall. And yet we are only talking about a difference of a few inches! How can that matter compared with the vast reaches of the universe?

Each of us has the capacity to carry many psychological wounds through life. From childhood onwards we may retain messages from external figures of authority who have left us feeling ‘not good enough’. In adulthood we may become experts at criticising our appearance and our actions in countless small and punishing ways. We may even be unconscious of how wounded we are in this respect, which can lead to a tendency in us to project our unresolved issues on to others, and even to judge others harshly for their own perceived faults.

Yet the revealed shapes of trees in winter suggest to me that humans, like trees, are perfect, just as we are. Our healed wounds and scars are part of our personal story, to be honoured and even loved. Humans, like trees, are surely a beautiful and unique addition to the landscape. And, just like our cousins the trees, as we prepare for winter we carry the potential for new personal growth in the new year.

This is what life after brain surgery is like

27/08/2020 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Nine months after surgery, this is what I’ve learned about brain injury caused by an acoustic neuroma…

Being alive is wonderful and to be appreciated for the miracle it is. Being alive is also often overwhelming. When I get tired, there’s no choice – I have to rest. Overall, I do less, but focus well while I’m doing it. The small daily achievements lead to progress, they really do. Being mindful has become a powerful necessity – it’s essential to stay focused to keep my balance, and also to hear better.

Simple pleasures, like cooking veggie casseroles, or cultivating lush jungle indoor plants, bring sheer enjoyment at my new, slower pace. Patience is a daily lesson, as I understand it takes many months – years – for nerves to mend and new neural pathways to form. Life is sweet and never to be taken for granted.

Rose petals – a (free) audio meditation

09/06/2020 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Recently a small group of us met up in my garden – the first get-together since lockdown began. From our conversation – and it was so nice to see each other, albeit at a social distance – we developed this meditation, which I’m pleased to share with you today. It’s based on the idea that what the world needs now are love and blessings, and that sometimes the heaviest of problems can be helped in the lightest of ways. So without further ado, here you are; Rose Petal Meditation.

 

Rose Petal Meditation

Stone Age – a (free) audio meditation

07/04/2020 at 1:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Here is your (free) audio meditation for this week. Again from the Studio seven years back, it’s a Stone Age visualisation, giving you an opportunity to imagine yourself living a truly simple life, in nature, bathing in refreshing water and breathing the freshest of air. I hope you enjoy it. I will join you listening to it in spirit this Thursday at 1 pm, or any time to suit you. So sit or lie down, relax and enjoy!

With love

Suzanne x

 

Stone Age Meditation

Healing Plants – a (free) audio meditation

31/03/2020 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Wild garlic, known for its immunity-enhancing properties, is widely available in neighbouring woods right now.

This week’s (free) audio meditation again comes from The Intuition Group, seven years ago.

I’ve always believed in the healing power of plants and have often noticed that the plants I need most at any particular time have a habit of growing in my vicinity. Right now, of course, that means lots of immunity-enhancing wild garlic in the neighbouring woods which I wilt down like spinach, or eat raw in pesto; vitamin-rich ground elder– the young shoots are delicious stir-fried; and quantities of refreshing lemon balm leaves emerging, full of relaxing properties that make an excellent herbal tea.

This week’s meditation celebrates the healing beauty of nature, which brings us therapy in so many different ways. There’s the colour therapy of uplifting yellow daffodils and deep blue hyacinths. There’s the fresh, subtle fragrance of unfurling willow leaves. And there’s the nutritional medicine of spring vegetables and greens. 


I hope you enjoy this meditation. As always, I will be doing this alongside you at 1 pm Thursday, or any time that suits you.


Wishing you a wonderful week,

Suzanne x

Healing plants meditation

This is how everyday adventures are made

26/06/2019 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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My meditation groups are expecting a theme to focus on next month and, unusually, I don’t have one. So I lace up my walking boots and head outdoors for inspiration. The path into the woods is almost hidden by tall bracken. It looks like a keyhole to adventure…

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A gnarled tree decorated with long-limbed ivy dryads looms like a guardian just inside the entrance to the woods. The air feels still, waiting. And, just like that, my 21st-century preoccupations slide away to be replaced by the timeless now.

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I step along knotted narrow paths fringed by bedraggled wild garlic, then through more bracken that dwarfs me. There are no signs of human habitation here. It feels really wild. The sense of adventure is growing stronger and yet I’m still not that far from my own kitchen door. Maybe, it’s an everyday sort of adventure.

After a while, the path opens out and becomes an idyllic, meandering thing.

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‘If this is an adventure,’ I think, ‘there should be treasure of some sort.’ And so I look for treasure along the path – a tiny form of proof that this word ‘adventure’ is the one I’ve been searching for. And sure enough, before long, the way becomes dotted with wild orchids, like purple gems lining my route.

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I look more closely at one of the stems. They seem wonderfully exotic for temperate England. Each tiny, vibrant bloom is worth a meditation in itself.

It feels like a sign, as though I needed one, that ‘Adventure’ is the ideal theme for my groups to meditate on during July.

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This is why we need spiritually sensitive hospitals

04/11/2018 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Healing, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Here is a list of hospitals my son has visited. He stayed in all but three of these, which means that I have also stayed in all but three of these: Queen Mary’s Roehampton, Kingston, Royal Brompton, Great Ormond Street, Chippenham, Royal United, Wolfson Children’s, Great Western, Cheltenham General, Gloucestershire Royal, Churchill. Two of these hospitals involved prolonged stays in intensive care units. Together, they have spanned two continents. And in total they have added up to something over six months.

His dad and I, and all our family, have been extremely grateful for the care that he received. I wonder, though, looking back at over half a year of plastic mattresses and iv fluids, whether our son, the countless patients we met along the way, and their families, might have benefitted from a more overtly spiritual perspective.

According to research recently published in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine (Ho et al, 2018): ‘There is a growing body of evidence that attending to the spiritual needs of patients and their families can improve outcomes including the quality of life, and several guidelines suggest spiritual care should be part of comprehensive health delivery. However, in practice, spiritual care is often overlooked in the management of critically ill patients.’

The Chambers English Dictionary defines the word ‘spiritual’ as:

‘Belonging, referring or relating to the spirit or soul rather than to the body or to physical things…’

And what does the dictionary mean by ‘spirit’?

‘The animating or vitalising essence or force that motivates, invigorates or energises someone or something…’

Look after the spirit

I humbly suggest that looking after the spirit that animates a person will help that person to recover. Going further, if that person is not going to recover, looking after their spirit will help them to die a good death – to be at peace at the end of life.

Spirituality, in my experience, is not a priority in hospitals. It has been largely absent from any of the wards and units my son has stayed in. There have, thankfully, been nurses and/or doctors in most (not all) of those places who have worked hard to promote emotional wellbeing. Going further, religion has been offered, but that’s not quite the same thing. As Chambers says, religion is: ‘A belief in, or the worship of, a god or gods’.

Behind the scenes, quietly, I have sensed that individual members of staff hold philosophies that prompt them unobtrusively to support a patient’s spirit – through a stillness and taking of time, through meditative techniques such as prayer or listening. But these are individual decisions, and rarely if ever shared with others.

At the other end of the scale, I have witnessed critically ill patients in a state of fearful delirium – a distressing way to transition from life.

That sense of unity

Spirituality could be described as a transcendent feeling that one is an indivisible part of the universe. It can be as simple as looking at a beautiful sunset and feeling a sense of purpose and connectedness. Or it might mean looking at another person and realising that they are simply another manifestation of the life force that animates you and everyone you love.

As a practising healer, registered with the NFSH Healing Trust, I have brought spirituality to my son in every ward that he has stayed in. But I have been unobtrusive. Occasionally I have alluded to healing methods, and my words have almost always been ignored, or invalidated with comments such as: “Well, it won’t do any harm”. When my son has fared better than medical staff expected, even surviving against the odds, there has never been any follow-up, no attempt to learn anything of the spiritual dimension that I perceive has been a factor in his recovery.

I have noticed on numerous ward rounds and outpatient appointments that medical staff rely on forms with boxes that they can tick. Fluids? Tick. Bowel movement? Tick. Antibiotics? Tick. So here is my simple request: please, dear medical staff, make sure ‘spiritual wellbeing’ is on your list of things to tick. Be sure to ask open, non-judgemental questions that will enable your patients and their families to open up about the things that will help their spiritual wellbeing.

Find out more

Spiritual Care in the Intensive Care Unit: a Narrative Review. Ho et al, Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, 2018, Vol 33(5), 279-287.

Some healers do currently work in hospitals. You can find healers through The Healing Trust, which is the largest membership association of accredited healers in the UK.

Connect with Suzanne Askham on Twitter.

Photo: rawpixel/Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

Guidance is simpler than you think

30/10/2018 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Twenty years ago, I was struggling with the challenge of parenting a baby with complex health issues. I was also, by no coincidence at all, starting off on my long path to be an energy therapist. In the night, I would dream vividly. The dreams were detailed, emphatic and helpful. I called them ‘Night tuition’. I saw them as a form of guidance. Where they came from, I had no idea. To me, it didn’t matter whether they originated from my own subconscious, or from some infinite dream library to which all beings have access.

What mattered most to me is that, over time, the dreams helped me to navigate the tricky path that I was treading, along with my partner and our tiny, so vulnerable child.

I’d like to share with you the simplest, barest dream that I experienced. It was simple, but it was powerful. It set the tone for all my future parenting. Actually, it set the tone for everything that has happened since, in every single aspect of my life.

In the dream there was just one, single thing to look at: a rectangle. The shape was shown against a plain background. The rectangle and the background were both devoid of colour. The whole scene was greyscale – just varying degrees of light and dark.

“Which is lighter: the rectangle, or the background?” asked a teacher, next to me but invisible.

I looked carefully. It felt for all the world like some kind of eye test.

Truthfully, the rectangle and the background seemed at first to be pretty similar shades of grey. However, as I looked, it seemed to me that the rectangle was shining more brightly. In fact, it was definitely lighter.

“The rectangle,” I replied.

“Good,” said my teacher. And waves of love washed over me.

In that instant, I understood that the rectangle represented a choice that each of us makes countless times. The rectangle represented the choice between love and fear. Love, in this dream example, was lit up, as though a light was shining through it. If I had seen the rectangle as darker than its background, it would have meant that I was viewing life through a fearful lens, programmed to expect the worst. However, by seeing the rectangle as lighter than its background, I was actually viewing life through the lens of love. It meant that on some fundamental level, I had learnt to trust that in the big scheme of things, all is well.

This was an important lesson for me. It helped me to understand that my love as a mother could be a powerful force in my son’s life. It enabled me to see that my partner’s love as a father could be as protective as mountains. And it taught me that fear would weaken that parental strength and power. So the dream reinforced my innate wish to choose love rather than fear.

 

 

 

 

Try this dreamy, let-it-all-go meditation

19/09/2018 at 6:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Landscape of life

Unexpectedly an old email surfaced in my inbox today, concerning a healing workshop back in 2014. At the workshop I delivered ‘The Path and the Fire Bowl – a Meditation’, which was designed to help people to relax and let go of emotional ‘baggage’. The participants were a wonderfully receptive group. I recorded the meditation for future use… and promptly forgot about it. So here, now, for your relaxation, is ‘The Path and the Fire Bowl – a Meditation’.

It’s dreamy and soporific, so would probably work quite well in the afternoon or evening – and definitely not while driving!

How to improve your focus in meditation – and life

16/08/2018 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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What is your relationship with Focus? Have you been together a while? Was Focus a first love, or are you and Focus perhaps not even talking?

If I were a life coach, I might suggest that you feed your focus and starve your distractions. Or I might say, “What you focus on is what you get more of.”

However, I am not a life coach. In the spheres of wellbeing in which I move, focus is not an end goal. It’s an invitation to be fully present. All we can ever have is this present moment, but it’s enough, because it’s everything. If we witness this moment fully, it has the magical ability to open up like a fractal. Rather like the owl I met recently, we develop the ability to see, hear and sense in ever more detail.

The state of focusing is a relaxed, alert way of being. We become aware and awake to what’s around us. Importantly, we don’t focus on what we don’t have. We focus on what is. In so doing, we realise how very much is contained within the present moment. We can then make choices based on our expanded awareness, which can help us step into an optimum future.

What is your relationship with Focus? Are you perhaps close friends? Maybe, just maybe, Focus is your life-long guide and companion?

 

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