It’s a Friday afternoon, 6pm, pitch black outside, and I’m cosying up on my sofa with a couple of candles lit and gentle music in the background. I’m feeling quite sorry for myself today because a light cold that started just before New Years has recently turned into a horrible cough after a couple of nights drinking and subsequent poor sleep, and I’m on my period. So taking it pretty easy today. Drinking herbal tea and trying to eat healthily while craving nothing but sugar (in the form of chocolate and ice cream).
Despite all that, I’ve actually had a pretty good day. In the morning me and mum went to a fitness class (the first proper exercise I’ve done in about 4 months) and then I went for a coffee with a group of people I met last night at a Neuro-Linguistic-Programming seminar. It was led by a man named Paul Cosen (who is based in Canary Wharf) and was an introduction to NLP, organised by Sarah Brown, who is a holistic therapist (based on the Isle of Wight). I am, of course, really interested in all types of therapies and my dad is an NLP practitioner although he doesn’t actually run sessions, he completed a course more for his own emotional journey and to use the therapeutic tools in his own life.
I arrived at the seminar not knowing what to expect, and also not knowing much about what NLP is or has to offer and I’ve come away from it with a vaguely solid idea, and with the intention to book a session for myself at some point over the next couple of years. My impression is that it is a holistic amalgamation of many different (mainly) non-verbal, sensory therapies that aim to assist the mind in processing traumatic events in the past in order to move forward in a healthier, happier way. More of a mind map or toolkit with lots of techniques and exercises at a practitioners disposal, rather than a structured one-fits-all method.
The seminar started interactively with Paul getting a feel for what we wanted out of it. The general consensus was that we wanted tools for personal use, to help overcome obstacles in our lives. I didn’t speak too much as I’m not that comfortable speaking in a big group. I actually prefer one-on-one chat. Any more than a small group and I tend to sit back and stay quiet. It’s not a lack of confidence, it’s more about the fact that I do enjoy listening and learning, I don’t feel the need to share what I think with everyone (unless I have a burning question) and I really don’t like fighting to make myself heard, working to be the first and loudest when the conversation pauses in order to make my point. So consequently I don’t say much. If I had, I would have said that I wanted tools in order to get over some traumatic events in my past because I’m not over them and they affect my life on an almost daily basis. I think that a lot of issues that people have boil down to fear: fear of failure, lack of confidence, a phobia, fear of humiliation, fear of judgement etc. and I think that my main fears are of my own emotions and of people/vulnerability. I’m a very empathetic person and my emotions run strong and deep; and because I had quite a tough time growing up they just became absolutely unbearable. So for the last 3 or 4 years I’ve been slowly repressing as much angst and pain as I possibly can. I’m now so adept at it that I barely feel sad and depressed any more at all which is great, but it’s also made me slightly apathetic and unemotional, and it’s taken away my happiness too. I didn’t really notice this until I was asked by someone, when is the last time you felt real happiness? and I couldn’t remember. Not for years, I thought. I’ve just been numbly ticking along, getting shit done, sure, but not really enjoying my life. And I’m now at a point where I’m ready to move on, and have the strength to do that. For the first time in my life I have a network of people close to me that I can truly trust and rely on, and I feel safe and healthy. But that’s not something you can put into a couple of words in an interactive group session, so I mostly stayed quiet.
At the end of the seminar however I was selected to take part in an exercise called The Orgasmic Chair. Me and this other lady sat back to back and were asked to give three words that described what we wanted more of in life. My words were: happiness, love and self-acceptance. I thought they seemed pretty cliche but they were genuine and things that I’ve wanted more of for a long time now. The lady behind me said: confidence, self-belief and fun. Then we were told to close our eyes and the rest of the group walked around us in a circle saying really positive, beautiful messages using the words we had given them. Some of the women stroked our arms and our heads, and some just spoke, but the whole experience was uplifting, freeing and really quite soothing. Having been single for a long time and away from home, I don’t have much affection or intimacy in my life, so it was actually really nice to experience this brief but powerful deluge of warmth and tenderness. So rather than sexual pleasure, The Orgasmic Chair filled me with a sense of love and of being loved, which I really needed.
Then today during our coffee we had the chance to have more of an open conversation. I was able to share some of my story and receive some answers to the questions that I had which was really nice. Also Paul did a few exercises with me in order to work through particular traumatic memories: I hope it’s worked. So a really positive experience overall and I’m so glad I went! It takes a little to put yourself out there and go with an open mind, but I felt a real connection with the group and definitely plan on going to more events like these on the island, and off, in the future! I also met a women who’s going to put me in touch with her son who has studied indigenous communities in Ecuador, and is now studying fungi in Spain… very very strange coincidence! (To learn more about what I’m doing in Ecuador, read this post: Why We’re Here – The Research).
So in conclusion! Very successful day for my emotional journey. Feel like I’m actually getting somewhere I want to be and know how to keep going.