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

couples-image 26 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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The Price of Love No 2.

Couple Dilemmas

Forks in the road of life appear to involve choices. But it is never clear that there was actually a choice at all once the ‘decision’ has actually been taken to go this way or that. Given the existence of an infinite number of parallel worlds or, to put it another way, an infinite number of possible action choices, it is sometimes very hard to say with absolute conviction exactly why this or that one is or was the one we chose.

And so we try to be ‘ecological’ or ‘organic’ about the decisions we make in the hope that this will at least enable us to have been as true as we can be to ourselves or our beliefs about what is right. But history shows that beliefs can be used to justify all kinds of awful actions. So if we cannot be certain about what we are doing, the best thing seems to be to try to be true to what we feel in our hearts is right, even, perhaps, if it subsequently turns out to have been wrong.

When you are in a cleft stick or double bind in your very closest, most important relationship with another person, for example about whether to tell him or her the truth about something you have done perhaps for fear of causing hurt to one or both of you or the relationship between you, there just isn’t a ‘right’ thing to do. Whatever you do will be wrong – telling the truth will be hurtful, but not telling it will be a betrayal of the trust your partner has in you.

The way of this world sadly is that sometimes, at least, whatever we do will be wrong.

So what should you do in such circumstances? I wish I knew. The least ‘wrong’ or hurtful thing? But if so, least hurtful to whom or to what? To your significant other? To yourself? To the relationship between you? And how do you know?  Whatever choice you make will have a relationally discombobulating effect like that of the ancient Paradox of the Liar (“This sentence is not true”) and serve to create distance in your relationship.

So, all you can do is try to cause as little harm as possible.  Alternatively, you could perhaps avoid relationships in the first place, retreat from the world altogether, become a hermit, a recluse.

But we live in a world of other people. If you have chosen to try to stay In this world of relationships with others, you have to recognise that sometimes ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ and to therefore be prepared to own up when a decision you made proves to have been harmful or wrong and hope that the love and respect you have for your partner and his or hers for you will be ‘sufficient unto the day’ and that he or she will forgive you the hurt you inadvertently perpetrated.

If we always knew what was right we wouldn’t be human.


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: TheSurreyCentre/Counsellors

dreams 19 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Dreams again. Again!

I remember I used to sometimes remember fragments of dreams on waking in the morning and maybe once or twice a week I would occasionally remember having a dream in the middle of the night. But all that has changed now I am une ancienne. I seem to dream most of the night every night now. Remembering all of them would be impossible. I have far too many to try to remain conscious of them all. And they do, after all, arise when we are asleep and therefore, by definition, unconscious.

Even if we could retain them in our awareness, remembering them is of secondary importance to just being in them and feeling them. Looking for their symbolic meaning once we are awake matters as much as we choose to make it matter. But dreaming itself will go on whether we try to ‘interpret’ particular meanings or not. So, what is it that dreams do?

My feeling is they give us secret access to every possible alternative reality we can imagine.  Secret in the sense of our waking awareness, that is. We may remember some sequences from some dreams, or just some fragmentary images, but either way very little indeed when it comes down to it. What matters is simply being in our dreams, having them and being had by them. I would argue it matters to them too.

Why? Is it to give us access to all the parallel worlds that can possibly exist? And to give them access to ours? I would think there is no doubt whatsoever about that, if only because that’s the way it seems to be. But more specifically, which of all the possible worlds needs us the most?

Is it the dead we need to feel and hear and listen to? If so, what are they wanting to tell us? What is so important to them that they still weave themselves into the narratives of our dreams?

Possible answers to these questions can only be put generally in this blog. Generally then, it seems to me that the past and future dead want us to be much more aware of how important our feelings are. We already know fairly well about the importance of facts and actions and relationships, but we seem to know very little of how and why feelings matter. It is as if the dead want to tell us they should have reflected more upon their emotional drives and responses before and after they flew into relationships, actions and facts. They seem to want to tell us this is why we should make emotional connections across all the parallel worlds they let us into while we sleep. Love, hate, joy, envy, rivalry, teamwork, sadness, elation, etc, etc. These are the things that we need to know better in ourselves if we want to improve the quality of our lives and make the world, and all the parallel worlds we visit in our dreams, a better place or places in which to live.


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

Rolling-and-coasting 12 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Rolling and Coasting

Uphill, downhill, and up again and down again we go through the lengths of our lives. But particularly, or so it seems, in earlier and later life. During our middle years, generally speaking, things are more level, stable and predictable.

But following entry into this world squeezed through our mothers’ birth canals and before we leave it again, squeezed once more, but this time out, by the narrowing down and unstoppable diminishment of our capacities and abilities in preparation for departure, it can sometimes feel unbearably difficult.

As babies, unless we are orphaned, we have the help of our mothers and fathers to develop and mature, but as old people, our children not having done it yet, often all we have is ourselves, especially perhaps if we are women with our demographically slightly longer lifespans than those of men.

But the grim, slow, sometimes and eventually, rapid slide downhill into oblivion and death, hard though it is as we become more and more physically compromised and socially marginalised, is also wonderfully reassuring!

What???!!!   I must be mad to say such a thing! A hypocrite too with my aching bones and tired oversensitive lungs and the increasing number of doctor’s appointments I make now that I am becoming ancient.

But here’s why I mean it:

With the narrowing of what we can do comes an expansion of our depth of appreciation of what is involved in, and what it means to be, alive.

With the squeeze on living friends and contemporaries as they die off one by one, comes a wonderful expansion of the feelings attached to our memories and experience of them and of all of life.

With the ongoing arrival of new persons on the planet facing the same issues as we did, but hopefully managing them better, it is so reassuring to see our children and our children’s children dealing with the fantastic breadth and scope of time continuously doing its thing on their development as it is still doing on ours till we’re gone.

With all the dead before us deep within our biological memories and our dreams, and all those before them deep within theirs, and so on, back to the beginning of time, it is so reassuring too to know that we have all played our part in the development of human consciousness across the millennia.

With all this and more besides who is not to say that whilst all the wrapping of our lives unravels in old age and blows away into the mists of history when we die, that it wasn’t all – all of it, perhaps especially in the dying – just the most fabulous thing to feel, to experience, to perceive and to love?


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

stars 05 Jan 2018

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Nightmares

This morning I woke from a nightmare, went downstairs and stepped outside into a clear, pre-dawn darkness and saw more stars than I remember ever seeing before from this part of London. The clarity of the stars and constellations in the sky and the intensity of the dream I’d just had seemed to merge in to the embodied physicality of my sense of being alive just then. Internally my dream had left me feeling the overwhelming presence of the dream state, and externally the shining night sky had such a pristine calm about it that it felt equally real. So a dream in which acute shame, sheer stupidity and loss had prompted an emotional response of great distress, had somehow also caused me to feel more merged, more at one with the otherwise serenely distant, uninvolved basket of stars and planets in which we live.

Is this what nightmares are for? To bring us closer emotionally to absolute things and to do so by way of devilishly detailed, horrible narratives? To things over which the human condition brings us no control? I mean if even as we dream of terrifying things are we not, in feeling them so intensely, also nevertheless bringing back feeling, and how we feel it, into our awareness? Well, we are. Whether we like it or not and usually we don’t, of course. But nightmares are often, in feeling terms anyway, so much more memorable than dreams with little or no, almost bland, emotional tone to them. (More about which another time). And what a paradox it is that the profoundly disturbing (nightmares) can bring a person closer to the profoundly uplifting.  It seems to say, to me at least, that we are here on earth primarily to feel; and as human beings to then know what we feel and be aware of it.  I am emphatically not trying minimise the awfulness of nightmares. I am less sure that I am not trying to say that really they are good for us in some kind of as yet not fully understood way. Although that might indeed be true, if only by way of stirring up the pot and discharging our accumulated tensions, fears and hurts by bringing them, or at least the feeling and stand-out images from them into our waking consciousness. In particular, the waking nightmares of war, disease, famine, and climate (change) disasters, are all unequivocally horrendous. As unequivocally as a shining, starlit night is distant but gorgeous.

The human experience is one of both joy and suffering and every conceivable combination between. Yes. But why, on earth, should it be that the extremes of experience, of what appear to be opposites, like the poles of our planet, and the internal and external, are subjectively experienced as somehow and in some way being made of the same stuff? Ice in the case of the poles. But what exactly in the case of stars and dreams? Could it be that although understanding and insight changes nothing, in having it we are given the chance individually to make what we will of our own unique experience to take with us to our graves? Could it be, that just as suffering and sorrows are visited upon us, so also are stars and dreams? I felt the cake of my nightmare was definitely ‘mine’ despite how absurdly it had mixed and baked the ingredients from my life experience. But equally strongly I felt the stars were ‘mine’ too, (my perception of them anyway). Despite their distance they felt reassuringly familiar, like family.

Could it even be that we are the stuff of stars? Just imagine!


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

feather 29 Dec 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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When? Then!

When?

When dreams are cruel. When thoughts which go nowhere keep on coming. When everything frustrates. When not even loneliness offers any consolation. When shape and form and coherence spin only into negations which cannot even be dignified with the term ‘chaos’. When there is no escape from always failing to escape, even when you’ve given up trying. When nothing would be preferable to going round in jagged circles. When a headache is permanent. When sleep is torture…

Then!

Then it is time to let time let go. To play in the sand. To stand on the edge of eternity enjoying the clouds below. To smile at the sense of it all. To breathe in the scent of timelessness and take comfort from having been in time. To feel the merging of the cellular with the stellar. To step into the paddling pool. To feel no conflict anymore. To know why all the ‘why’s ever asked are rings of roses. To taste every colour and see every scent. To be touched by everything ever seen by anyone.

When?

When I am sad. When I am lonely. When my light no longer lifts me. When every past problem feels so present. When I am no-one and nothing and yet still have feelings, like a ghost. When I am overwhelmed by how I am. When I am the mud left behind after a flood. When my sense of me doesn’t matter anymore. When my hopes and despairs merely reflect how useless I am. When I don’t know anything anymore. When I am adrift in a stagnant sea of uncaring…

Then!

Then it is time to take heart from it all, from the awful to the wondrous and all things in between. To let every last little thing be like a baby to be cared for. To let every last large thing be babies too. To be the ruffle in a bird’s feather and the recognition in a child’s smile. To caress the wind. To wash the rain. To make the earth solid. The blood red. The sky blue. You me and me you. To hold fast. To let go. When then is now innocence and experience, feelings and facts can all be one with the sun.


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/

neurons-840 22 Dec 2017

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Hypotheticals

Perhaps if we didn’t know how loss and death feel we  couldn’t know love and happiness.
So perhaps only happiness and love help us absolutely realise what death and loss are for.

Perhaps if events did not randomly blow across into our lives we would never know change.
So perhaps it is wisdom which spins the winds and makes them blow what we need to know.

Perhaps it is not just an astrophysical fairy tale that our big shining  dreams come from the stars.
So perhaps we are the vast stars themselves dreaming us in their blinking, twinklings of light.

Perhaps the billions of neurons bubbled up in our brains enable everything else everywhere.
So perhaps it is all things everywhere which give birth to the billions of neurons in our brains.

Perhaps the work of our lives is both to feel and to know, and to know and feel that we do.
So perhaps feeling and knowing what we know and feel, is what really makes our lives work.

Perhaps to truly live and find meaning in so doing means cocking a snook at meaninglessness.
So perhaps meaninglessness prompts our imaginations from fervid belief to irreverent laughter.

Perhaps the infinite number of parallel worlds proves that all possible things are truly actual.
So perhaps the truly actual is all and everything across time and space, including nothing at all.

Perhaps if these hypotheses had as much credibility as our ‘certainties’ do our  humility could fly.
On its wings to wonder at everything, we could see each one of us as the measure of humanity.


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

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam/