Despite having a fairly solid eight hours’ sleep last night I woke this morning feeling like I’d been run over by a freight train. In part this was due to the intensity of the course I did over the weekend and the fact my brain needs time to process all that happened. Physiologically I suspect it also had rather a lot to do with the ridiculously high pollen count, which was referenced in this morning’s Metro newspaper. Either way I felt paralysed with exhaustion, and wasn’t mentally or physically able to drag myself out of bed until half past eight. With hindsight it would definitely have been wise to take a day to reflect on the Essentials before throwing myself back into work (today) and socialising (tonight), but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this weekend it’s that there’s no point worrying about the past or the future. Things are just as they are, and just as they should be.

I remember some years ago attending a Buddhist retreat in rural Scotland (during the ‘Big Freeze’ of winter 2007, if I recall correctly, which made my mother sick with worry as I battled trains, planes and automobiles to get there. But I digress), after which I went to a restaurant in Glasgow with two of my fellow attendees. We had been warned by the leader of the retreat that ‘normal’ life might take a bit of getting used to after having so much quiet time, but none of us had prepared ourselves for just how strange it would feel. The easiest way I can think to describe it is that it was as if the volume and contrast settings had been turned right up, making everything too loud, too bright, too vibrant and vivid to process without feeling overwhelmed. I can’t deny I’m feeling a bit like that today, though on a lesser scale because I am at least blessed to be working for the charity that was borne from Psychosynthesis, which means my colleagues – many of whom have done the course themselves – are sensitive to how I’m feeling.

Daydreams of signing up for the foundation year course are still skipping merrily through my mind, but I’m determined to let the dust settle before committing to anything long-term. The planner in me is doing her damndest to take over, but for now I’m resisting her wily ways and doing my best to just be happy in the moment. And long may it continue…

Psychosynthesis Essentials: The Final Day

The final day of the Psychosynthesis Essentials course has now drawn to a close and I must admit I feel a bit bereft. Spending twelve hours a day with fourteen strangers on four consecutive days is an intense experience to say the least, particularly when you’re participating in experiential group work and observing one another in counselling sessions. In such an environment friendships that might otherwise have taken years to develop can form extremely quickly, which is exactly what I’ve found. And leaving the close knit group at the end of your time together and returning to the ‘real world’ can be quite an emotional wrench.

I could happily extol the virtues of this type of psychology for hours, but for tonight I’ll keep it brief and say only this: For the past eleven years I’ve been searching for a way to deepen my understanding of psychology and develop my connection with my inner self, and finally I feel I might just have found it.

Where I take things from here I don’t know – much as I’d love to do the foundation year in Psychosynthesis I’ve only just started working for the charity that was borne out of its principles, so I want to give it all my attention for the time being. Given that I’m now working part time I also don’t happen to have a few spare thousand pounds lying around, so maybe further down the line I’ll consider whether it would work to fit the course around work and how I might afford to pay for it. In the meantime I’m just happy to have had this opportunity. It’s been nothing short of phenomenal, and as cheesy as it sounds I’m certain I’m going to be a better person because of it.

Essentials Psychosynthesis – Day Three

After the difficult afternoon and evening I had on my Psychosynthesis course yesterday I found it impossible to switch my brain off until 3am this morning. I was worried (there goes my inner worrier) that this would mean today would be a struggle, but whilst I have felt tired I’ve also felt incredibly uplifted.

In part this was because the course material touched less of a nerve today, focusing on the concepts of “I” and “Will” rather than the lower unconscious which deals with the past. But it was also due to the rapport I feel we’ve developed as a group, which has been so overwhelmingly supportive.  We’ve all – without exception – touched on enormously sensitive issues in our individual therapy sessions (all of which were “observed” by other members of the group) and it’s surprised me how comfortable and comforted we’ve all felt by one another’s presence.

Observing this evening’s therapy sessions was a particularly uplifting experience. It’s such an incredible privilege having the opportunity to bear witness to the inner workings of someone else’s mind and gain an insight into who they really are – warts and all. I have to admit today has really got me wondering if being a psychotherapist is something I might be good at – I have such great respect for the therapists I’ve observed and I’m keen to find out more about this life as an alternative (or even complementary to my career) life path.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster and whilst I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every minute, exactly, I can say it’s been fascinating, absorbing and emotionally enriching in the extreme.

Essentials – Day Two

Today – the second day of my Essentials Psychosynthesis course- has been extremely emotionally draining. We started the day with some exercises that made me feel exhilarated (not to mention awed by the power of my own imagination) but as the day went on I covered more emotionally  rocky areas that brought some surprising emotions to the surface.

I have no wish to discuss those emotions in this blog, or to recount the content of my therapy session this evening. But what I will say is I’ve been struck by the empathy and sensitivity of the therapists in all the sessions I’ve observed and taken part in. I’ve also been impressed by the various methods they’ve used to draw things out of their clients, and the positive ways in which the clients have responded.

I came to this course because of my work, but increasingly am seeing a whole new world of possibilities opening up to me. I’ve also met some amazing and inspirational people, many of whom I’d genuinely like to keep in contact with once the course is over.

Above all else I’m learning experientially just how many commonalities there are in the human condition, how similar are our wants, our needs and the sources and causes of our pain. I’m witnessing and experiencing empathy in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever truly done before, and I feel curious and greedy for more.

I’ve also learnt some valuable coping strategies for my own issues, which I plan to put into practice with immediate effect. Whoever says therapy is pointless needs to give it a try, because in the right environment and at the right time it can be so very powerful.

I was telling the story of my chance meeting with a Sadhu in north India to my fellow students earlier today, and as it’s both recent in my mind and representative of situation I found peaceful thought it appropriate to share this pic.

Psychosynthesis Essentials course – Reflections on day one

It’s been hard deciding what to write about today, because I’m at the start of a process I don’t yet fully understand and I’m not sure even as I write this that I really want to share my feelings about it. And yet, as my feelings about it are all I can currently focus on I find in actual fact I have no choice. So, for better or worse, here goes…

Today was the first day of a four day intensive course I’m taking in Psychosynthesis, which is a type of transpersonal psychology that’s focused very much on the concept of the whole “Self” as a product of its past, its present and its future potential. As this was day one I won’t even attempt to explain the principles behind it further. What I will do, however, is touch upon how it’s made me feel.

As I’m taking this course through work (the founder of  the Psychosynthesis Trust is also the CEO of my charity, Teens and Toddlers) and others have come to it for more personal and profound  reasons I initially felt a bit of a fraud. But after the initial sessions I realised just how much I could benefit personally from the experience.

At the end of each day we have the opportunity to observe our fellow students having a counselling session with a psychotherapist and we, in turn, each have the opportunity to have a session ourselves. My session is tomorrow – I chose not to do it today because I was nervous about going first, and because I wanted to learn more about Psychosynthesis before I did it.

But I found I learned such a lot just by observing the two sessions this evening. The therapists were so skilled at navigating their way through the maze of the clients’ minds and feelings, all the while making them feel respected and understood. They knew when to tread further down a path and when to step back. They didn’t lead the clients into discussing anything they weren’t comfortable with, and yet the clients still revealed so much-and were often themselves surprised by their own revelations.

I’m not sure I want to say much more than that this evening. It’s been such a long day and I’d just like to process what I’ve learned, seen and experienced. Suffice to say it’s been a tremendously rewarding and enriching day, and I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings.