A Personal Reflection on Connectedness to Place & Healing
Dr. Phil Noone @ThesisClinic @Phil_Noone
I feel compelled to write and share this account of my own personal journey of self-awareness and healing. I do this so that others may understand they are not alone. Every individual goes through various aspects of trauma during their lifetime. The key message is not to be alone, but instead to somehow share the burden you carry, in a safe, caring, holistic space where one can work together. I tend to do this in the healing energies of Reiki, Aura-Soma and Crystal energy to enhance well-being and assist clients to re-connect with their true, inner core self. But, ending up here was no accident.
MY PERSONAL JOURNEY
Picture a five-year-old girl on a swing, backwards and forwards, going higher and higher, shrieks of laugher as a friend, neighbour or whoever was nearby, pushed the swing higher and higher towards the never ending clear blue sky of Roscommon. Free, carefree days spent growing up on a farm, surrounded by pet animals, all personally named of course, and long walks amongst wild hazel bushes, collecting fruit for jam and extracting honey from bee hives in the autumn. An idealic childhood, until one day, my mother fatefully took the decision to end her own life. I was fourteen years of age and have now only few memories of what must have been a very traumatic period in my life.
Protected by a very wise and supportive father, I grew up accepting my Mother’s death as a normal part of my life. It was just the way things were for us. I was supported, loved and very connected to my family, my home and the small fields surrounding the ‘home house’. My connectedness to nature and the ‘land’ has always been a key element to my well-being, a taken for granted part of my inner core being, deeply inter-twined with my physical, emotional, spiritual and mental self.
It is Edward S. Casey (1993) who from a philosophical viewpoint, explored how to be ‘in place’ is to know and become aware of our own consciousness and our sensuous presence in the world. Furthermore, Casey argues that the experience of place “is no secondary grid overlaid on the presumed primacy of space” (Feld & Basso 1996:9). And in this way, Casey suggests that place is a fundamental aspect of our existence and that is contains a complex intermingling of self, space and time. Some of Casey’s work includes studies from the Western Apache and Kaluli people where place is described by local people as ‘like a trail’ or ‘like a path’ that is evoked both in soundscape and landscape. These writings have had a deep impact on me because they speak to me on a personal and emotional level of how I feel about connectedness to place and how it impacts on my wellbeing. I felt this overwhelming sense of awe, of connectedness in many foreign lands, while travelling in the Australian outback, in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt but most importantly, in the small patch of land ‘called home’.
This sense of well-being was again temporarily shattered by the death of my father in 2008 and the resulting unexpected and overwhelming sadness I experienced and deeply connected to my loss of access to freely walk the land. It is eight years since my father died and without doubt, it is through the teachings and practice of meditation, mindfulness, reiki and aura-soma that I have come to a new awakening, a new level of understanding and awareness of the trauma endured during this time, compounded by my sense of ‘disconnect’ from my ‘ancestral home-land’. And through new understandings, I have been able to share this trauma with others, which for me was a totally new, enlightening and very healing experience.
BELONGING AND CONNECTEDNESS
So what is the meaning of belonging and connectedness and why is its emotional affect so great, so powerful and yet so devastating when disrupted or lost? Belonging, as described by May (2011), includes a sense of ease with self in one’s social context. It results in strong attachments to place with resultant feelings of security, safety, familiarity and comfort within a local area where one lives. Savage et al (2004) in their conceptualisation of belonging argues that a sense of belonging called ‘elective belonging’ is generated when the chosen place of residence is congruent with the individual’s life story. In this way, place becomes an integral part of how we see and understand ourselves and thus impacts on our self-identity and our well-being. In order words, place and space should not be understood as merely passive backgrounds for people to do something to but instead, I believe, should be understood as active partners in the construction of self and who we are in this world.
Indeed, one of the great social theorists, Anthony Giddens uses the term ‘ontological security’ to describe the deep psychological need to belong that exists amongst people. He suggests that ontological security refers to a stable mental state that is derived from a sense of continuity in events and in life experience (Giddens 1992). Therefore, if an event occurs that is not consistent with the feelings or meanings a person has of their life or their expected life trajectory, it can pose a threat to their ontological security. But Giddens takes this further and I am in agreement with what he suggests and argues that our identity is reflexive and because of this we have an ability to continually integrate events that occur in ‘our world-home space’ and reconstruct them as part of our on-going biography or life story. In other words, Giddens work expresses a belief in the ability of the individual to adapt to changing situations in life. And for me, as part of this amazing spiritual journey of mine, I managed to do this, at least partially, during this summer of 2016. I managed to embed my ancestral home into my inner being and bring it to the fore in different moments of heighted connectedness to nature. This deep connectedness to nature is predominately, though not exclusively related to the Burren landscape. And the resulting sense of freedom is very profound. To experience an (un)bounded spiral of movement from past loss and deep unknowing hurt resulted in immense feelings of lightness, of freedom, of joy, of laughter, of extreme happiness. The ability to reconnect to a particular place from the space of another and for it to be as real as if in the place of origin is akin to being like an Eagle flying high and seeing all.
Finally, owning the past and instead of denying it or disregarding it, being able to accept it without judgement for what it is, no more or less, is for me key to letting go, is very liberating and enmeshed with my well-being. This meant that I was slowly but surely no longer constrained by the past and was finally in the process of breaking free from the events of 2008. But least I give the impression that this is simple, it is not. And the reason it is not a simple or easy process is because it involves the need to forgive.
Forgiveness of one-self as well as forgiving others. Everyone makes mistakes. I have made many during my life. But the key as advocated by healer and teacher, Dennis Curran (2016) is to understand that “to forgive is not to condone what someone did but to stop it hurting you anymore”. So the message is to acknowledge hurt but to try to let it go. And in the acknowledgement, what was a key and challenging learning for me was to accept that I may have hurt someone close to me just as much as they have hurt me. As Vishen Lakhiani (2016) in his book “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” clearly and so eloquently explains that our embedded belief system and the models of reality that we create for ourselves may hinder us from moving on. And that in moving on we need to have a feedback loop where we are constantly thinking about what we have done and how we could have done it better (Elon Musk 2016). This reflection is often painful but a necessary part of the healing journey. But having reflected, it is important to remove judgement or blame and to just let it go. And when we let it go, it will begin, and continue over time, to hurt a little less.
Healing therapies helps this process. As human beings we are made up of energy systems (O’Farrell 2015) and when energy flow blocks, it is important to look at the ‘shocks’ and deal with them (Curren 2016). Working with healing energy in an empowering, enabling, caring, compassionate, safe, secure, non-judgemental environment can assists in the unblocking of energy flows and lead, over time, to enhanced health and well-being.
My own healing journey was helped by many great friends and family and very special people who have formed very close, connected, treasured bonds of friendship and belonging with me along this ever evolving journey. I treasure them in my heart and thank them forever.
Barbara Gates in her account of “Mama Racoon” in the book The Best Buddist Writing (2004: 23) details that it is “when we see life’s fragility that we feel its preciousness most”. I experienced my own personal, emotional and mental fragility in 2008 but having surmounted its challenges, never totally complete but an ongoing journey; I have learned to appreciate the special, precious moments of everyday life. My deep embedded, emplaced belonging and connectedness to nature is part of who I am, part of my identity, part of my well-being, without which I would have poor survival. And this connectedness to nature allows me to know and understand myself, vulnerability and all. My own journey has enabled me to forge deeper connections to others from my heart space, to try to deeply understand their space, so that they also can share a healing journey of insightfulness. In all of my work I care with and from my heart “inspiring positivity and well-being”.
In the words of Ann Maher, who spoke so eloquently at the Galway International Peace Day held at the School of Natural and Spiritual Sciences on September 21st 2016, about her life and her work as a teacher and head of School in South Africa during the time of Apartheid “we may not even have a day, just a moment, in fact, just this moment”. Food for thought and I treasure your wise words.
Just A Moment,
A Moment to Love,
A Moment to See,
A Moment to Be
And that is the Most Beautiful of ALL (Noone 2016).
*Phil Noone is Nurse Lecturer in National University of Ireland, Galway, a Reiki & Seichem Master and Aura-Soma Practitioner based in Oranmore, Galway, Ireland and consultant with Dissertation Doctor’s Clinic and Book Hub Publishing. She holds a Degree in Nursing Science and three Masters Degrees in Health Promotion, Health Education and in Anthropology and Development. Phil is interested in the intersection between science and holistic therapies.
Casey E. S. (1987) Remembering: A Phenomenological Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Casey E. S. (1993) Getting Back into Place. Towards a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Curran D. (2014) The Autobiography of a Healer: The Journey. Publisher: Unstated.
Curren D. (2016) Talk Presented at A-Z Mediation Course. October 1st 2016. Expression of Spirit Healing Centre: Kildare.
Feld S. & Basso K.H. (1996) Introduction. In: Senses of Place. Feld S. & Basso K. H. (Eds). School of American Research Press. Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Giddens A. (1992) Moderntiy and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Lakhiani V. (2016) The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. Rodale: New York.
Maher A. (2016) My Life and Work in South Africa. Galway International Peace Day. September 21st. School of Natural and Spiritual Sciences. Oranmore: Galway.
May V. (2011) Self, Belonging and Social Change. Sociology. 45(3), 363-378.
Musk E. (2016) Upgrade Your System for Living. In: Lakhiani V. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. Rodale: New York.
O’Farrell Lana (2015) Mind Your Energy Body For Health and Happiness. Letterfec: Ireland.
Savage M. & Bagnall G. & Longhurst B. (2015) Globalisation and Belonging: The Suburbanization of Identity. London: Sage.