sun and corn field 23 Feb 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Lifted

Do you like being lifted?

Do you perhaps remember being lifted as a child and feeling safe as you sailed through the air to be placed in your cot, or on to the floor, or into your mother’s arms?

As adults, being lifted seems to occur more rarely except when being given one in a car perhaps, or going up floors in multi-storey car parks or department stores, or whatever.

Unless, that is, we think of being lifted in a different way. Lifted emotionally by the kindness of a smile, for example. Or lifted culturally by a piece of music or prose which makes us feel good. Or lifted sexually by mutual attraction and love-making with the him or her of our choice. But the most elevating feeling of all is perhaps the one we notice least. The on-going feeling of caring, and being cared for, not just by family or life-partners, but also about and by life itself.

What exactly do I mean by that?

Well, I was watching the face of a child who had been crying a little and her mother lifted her into her arms which even as she sailed up from the ground brought a beatific, satisfied smile onto the little girl’s face. But what I particularly noticed was that she knew what being lifted up was like and what it meant and was able to be lifted emotionally by it too.

Not particularly remarkable you might think. And if only it were true of every small child in the world, it would be wondrous! (If only. But that is a subject for a different blog).

So many adults, and not just those who come to the considered decision that they want psychotherapy, know that they seem to have forgotten how to feel lifted except perhaps by drugs and alcohol and actually not even then when they think about it.

But don’t we need to access that safe feeling in our adult lives too, if we can? That feeling of being held, of lightness and of being cared for by life itself. But how?

I know I speak in generalisations which are not always true of everyone.  Nevertheless and once again I want to highlight perception. It seems to me that if we don’t perceive or notice how we feel, simply just feel it and move on, then our ability to focus our perception on our inner world diminishes. And over time, being so unused, it almost becomes redundant, like an appendix. Certainly less effectual.  And this is regardless of how developed and sophisticated our perception of the outside world may be.

So shine the light of your perception on your inner world, (hopes, fears, dreams, desires, thoughts, child-like feelings, etc., etc,.), and sometimes the very act of doing so, your perceptiveness itself, will lift you.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: TheSurreyCentre/Counsellors

 

hands-held 16 Feb 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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One

Even if we cannot say exactly what it is without our words beginning to merge with contradictions and incoherence, everyone, each one of us ‘drops in the ocean’ of humanity, is aware of the difference between loneliness and being alone.

I hate it when the two combine. But at the same time I know that when they do, then I am ‘in the zone’ for doing my best work and feeling most in touch with being the person I am. It is as if, in the coming together of the two states I am lifted up into a third in which I can touch and be touched by something huge, something universal, something we all can feel at times, both scary and inspirational, trivial and important, devilish and angelic. And yet also deeply personal, uniquely me.

At such times, mad and unrealistic though it may be, I feel in touch with the dead and the yet to be born across time and space on the one hand, and with my own little sense of who I am myself in this space and this time, on the other.

I used the word, ‘hate’, above, about traversing the personal and the universal like this because it is so exhausting.

But let me come back down to earth from the heights of my self-piteous, mystico-intuitive hyperbole! Why? Because facts and feelings don’t always coincide and too much certainty is a dreadful thing. All I can safely say with only a little bit of confidence is that, awful though they are, we don’t have to be too frightened of feelings of loneliness because when they connect with the existential fact of having being born on this planet alone (even twins or triplets enter the world one at a time), then it is possible to know everything will be alright.

This is not meant to reassure you. Reassurance rarely, if ever, does what it is intended to do. What I mean, perhaps unkindly, is to say that finding the balance between being one of the more than 7,000,000,000 other human beings presently on the planet means neither being puffed-up with one’s own self-importance, nor indulging in having no self-esteem at all, which would be – Is! – equally ridiculous.

I don’t mean to hurt your feelings saying that. What I mean by it is that we are all equal on earth, self-important or self-demeaning. So let’s be neither. In so far as we can.

Let’s just be kind to one another. As if we were all, every each one of us, family.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: TheSurreyCentre/Counsellors

rainbow 09 Feb 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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An Apology

I want to apologise.

I want to say sorry to you and to myself for giving the impression in these blogs that I have an exclusively sugary, Pollyanna-ish world view. I do believe Julian of Norwich was right when she wrote ‘All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’, but I always also add three little words to that famous sentence. They are, ‘in our dreams’!

In the quantum reality where all possibilities are actual there may indeed be a version of myself or of yourself who is completely and consistently content with the world-as-it-is, but that is not what living in this particular world seems to be all about. Here we often have to narrow our eyes and brace our shoulders literally and metaphorically to cope with the exigencies life throws at us. And then after that, sooner or later, we join our foremothers and fathers and die.

The world-as-it-is, isolated, toxified, whirling round in space on its own axis, is a far from happy and contented place all the time. And yet, from wooded valleys in morning sunshine through the softening flush of first love or the birth of a child, or the peace of a starry night, it does contain some wonderfully ideal moments of happiness by which to measure the rest of our experience. And, to be fair, it does usually give us the full spectrum of easy and difficult experiences over the course of a lifetime. But just as rainbows only occur when the undersides of wet, laden clouds are lit by rays of sunlight, so sheer, unadulterated happiness is usually only fleeting for most of us.

But what is not fleeting is our ability throughout our lives to make what we will of our experiences in this world. To make what we will not only of events over which we have no control, the things that happen to us, but also of our own thoughts and feelings, actions and interactions with others. This involves reflection and lifelong learning and you could call the act of doing these things, of making sense of what we see, perception.

Our job then, is one of perception in this specialised sense I have just described. It is to perceive both the external world of other people and our own internal world of thoughts and feelings and dreams. It is not just to have experience of our internal and external worlds, but also to make our own individual, beneficial and benevolent sense of that experience, which is uniquely ours, in what we say and what we do.

It is this moral, though not moralistic, way of looking at the world-as-it-is which appears to differentiate us from most other animals. And without doubt there are very many terrible things we have to perceive in this world, not least the way we treat, even eat, other sentient creatures.

Some would therefore say that perception is precisely the most important activity we are here on this planet to do as human beings. It is also one of the most difficult.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: TheSurreyCentre/Counsellors

Insightfulness 02 Feb 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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The Goodness of Ghosts

I was sitting on a terraced stone seat high up in an ancient Greco-Roman amphitheatre called Naxos looking down on a stage built some 300 years BCE, in lovely, warm autumn sunshine and overlooked 8 miles away by the giant volcano, Etna. Between the massive, serenely indifferent presence of Mount Etna, clouds billowing above her snowy summit, and the hundreds of thousands of small, red Roman bricks still in shapely fit around the red porphyry columns in the stage area below me, l had a wonderful, trans-historical sense of safety, of physical and emotional containment. It was a feeling of connection across time with the architects and with the careful, hard work of the people who constructed the theatre 2,300 years before, and also with the cultured creativity of the people who subsequently performed there and with the audiences who watched them.

Between humanity’s ridiculous yet somehow charming history of cocking a snook at Nature’s overwhelming power for the relatively trivial purpose of putting on entertainment, and Nature’s ability to blow it all away in a relative instant, I experienced a profound joy in the balance of it all.

What has all this to do with the goodness of ghosts? Well, my feelings are connected with facts. I became aware that all the descendants of the ancestral builders and performers and audiences here at this hillside theatre in Taormina, all had mothers and fathers who gave them life and nurture and shelter and loved them up into adulthood so that they in their turn could give life and nurture and shelter to their descendants, down through the millennia.

In other words, streams of paternal semen and rivers of maternal milk flowed down through time producing more and more love and relationship and learning down through the generations each in their turn departing from life having given more love and relationship and learning to their children.

If they are dead now, ghosts, it was so good of them to bequeath us love and laughter across time in this world of suffering and death. It was so kind of all of them to have loved their children up into their adulthoods so that they in their turns could design buildings and construct them and perform in them if they so wished. Or write blogs. Or feel the sun on their faces. Or just feel their hearts beating.

If all but the most recent generations of our ancestors are dead now, we can still hear their voices if we listen very carefully, in the love of our mothers and fathers and friends and all the work they put, or have put, (day by week by month by year by decade by century by millennium), into bringing us to this time and place here now in which we can do the same thing if we want to.

We will be happier if we allow ourselves to feel the goodness of ghosts in our biological memory.


Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: TheSurreyCentre/Counsellors