by Robyn Jones – B.Sc. (Psyc), 37, Sydney, Australia
I look back over my life today and most of it doesn’t seem real to me anymore, as it is not part of my life now. I have come a long way and changed so much.
I have come from a life of severe anxiety and intense panic attacks with periods of agoraphobia (not being able to leave the house), and feeling like I had to grit my teeth and push myself to get through every day… to now, feeling like a calm and steady woman who is mostly guided through the day by a deep loveliness that comes from within.
To describe this loveliness is to describe ME. It feels like a deep tenderness, an allowing myself to just BE, a stillness within – even when everything around me is busy – a beauty that is not about how I look but how I feel, a delicateness that encompasses both fragility and strength in one, and so much more.
What is super-lovely about Loveliness is we all have it equally within us, every single one of us!
I have come to realise that this loveliness is who I really am and the anxiety is not who I am – although for so long I really thought it was. I have learnt that the more I respect and honour this loveliness and allow it to guide me through the day, the less anxiety I experience. Having reacquainted myself with that inner quality, it is a good gauge for me to realise when I am not connected to it, especially when I have times of anxiety. The beauty of this is that I know the loveliness never leaves me – I have merely disconnected from it and that disconnection causes the anxiety. I then have a simple choice; to allow the anxiety to continue, or to take a moment to re-connect to myself and therefore the loveliness (remember, the Loveliness is ME).
However, in order to find this loveliness within I have had to change the way I am with myself. There have been too many changes to write them all, but here are two very everyday examples;
- I have introduced gentleness into my everyday tasks, one such is how I wash myself in the shower. Do I quickly and roughly rub soap all over me just to be clean? Or do I gently caress my skin with the soap, actually feeling my body underneath my soapy hand? The beauty of it is that either way I end up clean, but doing it gently feels so much more respectful and loving towards myself.
- I have introduced a deeper level of caring for myself, e.g; in the morning I am getting up earlier to allow myself the time I feel I need to get ready for the day, whilst doing it all with a level of care rather than an air of rushing. This way I go at a pace that ensures I stay connected and focused on the job at hand and don’t go at a speed that is not natural for me. I’m not talking about going at a snail’s pace, I mean simply listening for the rhythm my body naturally has within (it can be different for every person), and it can be very clear on what pace feels right or not. I also find some days I need to go slower than other days because my body’s rhythm is slower – especially if I have overdone it, or if my period is due.
Making these changes to be this way with myself and taking the time to honour how I feel within, confirms my loveliness to me. I am bringing what I naturally am to everything that I do and say, rather than looking outside of me – to everyone else, to tell me how to be. This was challenging in the beginning because I had to become aware of how much I was dependent on what others wanted me to be – and how much this dominated everything I said and did. I have found great freedom in speaking and acting from the feelings within me, rather than trying to please and not upset others by being what they expect or want me to be. It feels so much more respectful to myself, and in turn others, to be this way, as giving myself permission to just be ME allows others the opportunity to be themselves also. How cool is that! Far less pressure for all concerned!
These days my focus is to take that inner connection with me everywhere I go… and my life feels so different. I am now working in a job that allows me to be ME, while contributing to the health and wellbeing of others. In addition, within my relationships with my husband and daughter there is more connection; and I have quality friendships and a truly supportive extended family that I only ever dreamt about as a child.
I have realised that the more connected I am with myself the more I can connect with others. The same applies in that the degree to which I care for myself is equivalent to how much I can truly care for others.
Knowing this, I have started a self-care group for staff at my workplace. There is a great need for it due to the high rate of ‘burn-out’ in the community services industry, which stems from workers not taking the necessary care with their own selves, and from caring for others over and above themselves. This approach to care has been shown to not work long-term, and to detrimentally affect a worker’s health and wellbeing. I have noticed this applies to all who are in a caring role and who care for others before caring for themselves, such as mothers, doctors, teachers and nurses etc.
Our group meets once a month and we discuss ways of caring for ourselves in our personal lives, which in turn improves the level of care we have for those we work with. In the group we have begun to discuss: how to connect to how we feel, making more loving choices for ourselves, introducing gentleness into our day, taking care around our sleep patterns, how we treat ourselves… and much more. Many changes have already been made within the participants’ lives, and the feedback coming from the group is inspiring. Even people not attending the group are benefitting and learning from what we are speaking about by simply talking to those who do come! The beauty for me is that they are being inspired by the level of self-care they see in me and in the others in the group, so when we talk about what they can do to change the way they care for themselves they feel it’s a very real possibility because a living example of it is already there… so simple and so very lovely.
I never would have been able to facilitate a group like this when I was affected so much by anxiety. Quite literally, I would have been close to collapse at even the thought of it. How life has changed!
The irony here is that I am a qualified counsellor with a degree in psychology, and with training in transpersonal psychology. But how effective was I as a counsellor when I was riddled with anxiety? Being well aware of my anxiety issues, why didn’t anyone at University take me aside and say, “Hey, first you need to sort yourself out before you can help others”? Does this not expose the lack of integrity in the ‘helping professions’ such as psychology, medicine, nursing and the like? Should we not be looking at how its practitioners live their own lives, how their diets are, how their health truly is, before we go to them for advice on health and wellbeing in our own lives?
I can now be more effective as a practitioner because I am living what I talk about with clients and others – it is not now just knowledge but a livingness within my daily life, and this feels so much more real than any knowledge I was taught at University.
Through this esoteric approach to women’s health I have found true support from practitioners whose lives are filled with tenderness, lived loveliness, gentleness and true self-care. It is a support that is offered in many ways, such as Esoteric Breast Massage, Esoteric Uterus Massage, and the Esoteric Women’s Presentations. This support has helped me to heal the anxiety by re-connecting to the tender, loving, caring woman that I naturally am.
I look forward to many more years of unfoldment with the assistance of this amazing level of care and support, and of course with my own willingness to both change what is not true and choose to live what I now know to be true – loveliness, tenderness, gentleness, stillness, steadiness… and much more.