Nodding acquaintances

On the value of having nodding acquaintances.

If you’ve lived in a neighbourhood any length of time it’s likely you will be on nodding acquaintance terms with many people. This type of recognition can be an aid to your wellbeing as it places you in a context, of the time and spaces you inhabit…..you belong!

In an age where many report feeling they don’t belong, that they are isolated or lonely, nodding acquaintances can be a reassuring acknowledgement that you are not alone…..we are known.

If over time you’ve been on nodding acquaintance with someone, you might have progressed to stopping and ‘passing the time of day’ with the them. You might chat about what’s trending in local, national or International news. These kind of conversations are valuable, even if the chit-chat remains only that, about …….’the price of fish’ or the weather.

Often when I’m about my daily chores in LS13, I see an elderly lady standing inside her house and looking through the window, as yet we only wave, but it’s a connection, I hope we get to talk some time.

Other people who see me sit awhile to catch my breath when carrying shopping, or simply if I’ve stopped to enjoy good weather, or just ‘people watch’…. may smile…..

‘Hills….you can’t avoid hills in Bramley love, can you?’……

It is said that Leeds is one of the friendliest cities in UK and certainly its rare if I stand at a bus stop not to start up a conversation with someone.

On days when the news is particularly alarming, as it was yesterday with the US election results, you might like myself only  have accessed it via the media, and without the opportunity to discuss it with anyone, the potential to feel disoriented, destabalised is real. You may doubt your own perception, or indeed the sanity of the ‘crowd’ who brought about that result. You might as a result phone a friend and commiserate along with them about ways to avert feeling hopeless. Just how can you as individual combat that?

On hearing the news, and feeling downcast I ventured out to the local greasy spoon cafe in a somewhat defensive mood. The conversation in there is often similar to the tabloids that are scattered on its tables, it is frequently sexist and racist…….usually because of that I don’t linger.

‘If someone praises that man’s success’, I was thinking ‘I’ll challenge them’.

The cafe was empty except for the staff who also seemed as dismayed at the result as myself. Fortunately other more pleasant topics were discussed and a simple personal compliment from one member of staff, cheered me on my way, my equilibrium was restored. By the end of the day I did need a ‘top up’ by discussing the days news with a friend but I still valued the earlier time of day passed.

Lily P.

 

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Resilience

Resilience is something of a constant on-off meditation. I’ve had to think about what resilience means? Being resilient makes me happy: I said recently to a friend:

“There is no such thing as adversity.”

Yes, I live from that more and more, a very resilient thought creating joy for me and others?

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”

The Dalai Lama.

We have to be very mindful, because there is no belief system of absoluteness, in mindfulness, or Buddhism. If you have the neigbours from hell then move; conditions are important, but only as important as you make them.

I was a ‘depressive’/ ‘despairive’/despairer’, although I do not now have disabling or clinical depression, as I have basically recovered, my friends will be relieved to know. This recovery took me many years. In those years I despaired of ever healing and recovering. However apart from good friends, two things really helped me change my life, ‘gainst the ground-hog days we all suffer indeed:

Buddhist practices including meditation; there is contemplation to induce the practice of wisdom-compassion in your life, but at least 5 other practices. However.meditation alone will not change your life.

Therapy and counselling. I count them as the same difference as unlike certain therapist and counsellors, they argue over very little and the prime focus should be the clients needs to heal, not professional intellectual differences!

And my acquaintances too:  I mustn’t forget the latter for a very simple reason: every source of support is necessary to overcome the low self esteem behind mania and depression, or any other form of self-defined distress. Both are Jungian overcompensations for something denied and that something is low self esteem or more graphically self hatred.

I will say again one needs a massive support system to overcome even mild depression, moderate despair or the worst manic and suicidal despair depression.

We need to be extremely mindful, aware and kind to ourselves, and others in order to overcome the worst in ourselves and make the best of the rest of our lives. The only point about being mindfullly-aware is to develop the insights for you to be compassionate yourselves, and to others.

Despair depression and other mental ‘illnesses’ are deeply ground into being-karma, so the medicine must be strong, varied and penetrate to our unconscious depths. This allows integration of horrible and repressed demons, our worst fears and doubts and to overcome the fear of freedom from neurosis. But as I once discovered if we don’t watch it it can kill us. Neurosis and psychosis killed my dad and brother many years ago, and deep mental pain, anguish can make life not worth living. If we fully recognise these realities and talk to our friends, nurture friends who earn trust, then slowly we can recover with consistent practice of recovery techniques, invented or not, over time.

Mindfulness (being in the mo-ment, enjoying life, being efficient, being joyful, but not driven, etc.) also makes one very aware in ones home garden, bus or wherever of one body in a relaxed yoga like fashion. In fact just taking 5 percent reduction of my high speed mania, helped, or adding 5 per cent to lift myself from despair pits worked. Tis the middle way, not foolish ground-hog day overcompensation.

I cannot value therapy/counselling, Buddhist practices, or friends over and above one another. In a sense the telling thing is they are all friends, OK a professional listener was paid by me as an exception, but if you feel it is merely about the money, then be firm with your counsellor or therapist (search this website for more on talking listening treatments counselling and psychotherapy).

The Buddha said ”Do the wholesome. Do the wholesome always.”

Conclusions:  For people with disabling despair, depression anxiety-neurosis, psychosis, or people with distress,  it is important to look after yourself by asking for help (there’s a future blog of this title coming soon), by nurturing self insight/ self help, asking friends and therapists for help, but don’t be exploited by any unethical ‘friends’ or therapists .

Stick with the bad-weather friends, and genuine people – those who will stick by you in thick and thin. And who love you even for your faults, which they see as amusing and delightful and charming. Those who nurture you and love you.

You can recover. Indeed. It is totally true – even the worst cases can transform their lives to contentment happiness and a greater kindness.
You can change.
But you need self insight and to ask for help so sharing, and halving your problems.
You need to stop the Ground-hog Days of unconscious addictive karmas, and if you fall back into despair anxiety and mistakes; that’s OK there’s no such thing as failure only feedback.
Create a massive support network
Be happy,  that’s the only point of living after all, without harming others through anger, drugs, battles, resentments, verbal darts – in fact cultivate the opposite of these weeds of the mind. Please cultivate the lotuses and sunflowers of our lives. For the rest of our lives.

If you want to learn mindfulness for resilience, more humour and more joy and wisdom in your life, please leave a message on this post, or e-mail us at Leeds Wellbeing Web.

or google leeds buddhist centre or mindfulness or buddhist centres leeds u.k.

Enjoy your life, I lick the lid of life.

Milan Buddha Ghosh

Counselling and Therapy

counselling pic

Not everyone finds it useful, desirable or easy to talk about past or present distress, but if you do need someone to talk to, who might it be? A friend, a relative or a professional counselor/therapist,…. all four? If worrying thoughts overwhelm you it may take a combination to help you manage your distress.

The support of friends or family can be immeasurable, but many are not so fortunate, and for some it’s these relationships which are contributing factors in their distress. Having a wide circle of friends or acquaintances is no guarantee that there will be someone among them with the capacity to listen adequately.

What can a counsellor or therapist offer that a friend or acquaintance may not? It is the assurance of their commitment to create a confidential space, and for an ongoing ‘contract’ in which skillful listening and interjection can take place.

Does counselling differ from therapy? What types are there? What guidelines and safeguards can you be assured of, should you decide it’s something that will help? These may seem like a lot of questions but they are important because like it or not we are a generation who have come to accept talking therapy as the norm.

The Counselling Directory goes some way to offering advice about where you might start in ensuring the best experience, see the information here. Unless you are in acute crisis, the most important advice in the directory is that of taking time to get well informed about what counselling and therapy entails,

find… out as much as you can about counselling and psychotherapy,

read-up on the issue you are considering seeking help for, and

browse the therapy types so you can start to get a feel of what it is you want to achieve from the counselling process.”

The directory is a list of  private therapists and explains why they provide the service they do,

“In 2005 we watched a close friend struggle to find the information they were looking for…emotional support… we realised there was a need for a service bringing together the information required to help individuals find a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist in their local area.

The Counselling Directory contains information on many different types of distress, as well as articles, news, and events”

 

Members who are listed in the directory have complied with the organisations verification requirements. As private practitioners members will charge for their services,  of this the directory says,

You can find out …charges by having a look at the ‘Fees’ section on their individual profile page. Fees often depend on the location … and the experience of the counsellor/psychotherapist.

On average, expect to pay about £35 – £45 per 50 minute session.

Some counselors and psychotherapists may offer initial sessions free or reductions for the unemployed or those on a low income, so it’s always worth asking

At times GP, school and charitable organisations have counselling and therapy services free or at low cost, alternatively a donation may be acceptable. If you are referred via a G.P. or other agency to some private practioners, sessions may be free of charge, but you will need to check this with them.


Here follows some useful links of services in Leeds which are free or low cost.

Mental Health Directory Leeds Mind

Dial House Information

Survivor Led Crisis Service Dial HouseSantuary/Support/Connect Helpline

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (I.A.P.T.)

Guest blogger Toby post wrote here on Leeds Wellbeing Web in 2013.about what to expect of .I.A.P.T.  A choice of short or longer contract, group or one-to-one work is available with waiting lists varying accordingly, months rather than weeks for the latter. Current trends show  an increased availability of short over long term contracts, this might not be a trend to be welcomed for long standing issues of distress may benefit from longer term therapy.

If Counselling and Therapy  are something to which you are drawn it’s good to remember that seeking talking therapy is not a sign of inadequacy, or necessarily that you don’t have anyone else to talk to. Being able to share with friends when troubled is a great comfort, and hopefully friends are willing to listen to any insights you glean in therapy. Attending Counselling or Therapy requires stamina, dedication and commitment in confronting your disquieting thoughts. Facing your ‘self’ may be scary so it’s also brave to be willing to do it, for over time and in order to defend our ego, we may have chosen only to perceive ourselves as altruistic. The outcome of counselling and therapy therefore may surprise you and others with an investment in that ‘old’ idealised you, but that is the subject of another blog post!

Sue Margaret

Image from You Tube    Andria’s Counselling Session