Mandala Mindful Art by Louise. Original illustration made for The Owl and The Coconut by Lauren Kelly.
Growing up I was a shy and introverted child, who was very self-conscious. Entering my twenties, I was diagnosed with depression and had developed anorexia. Luckily for me I had a supportive GP who helped me to start to eat, but battling my thoughts was so much harder.
Throughout my adult life I was absorbed with believing myself to not be enough. I had various episodes of crippling anxiety and depression. I tried everything to fix me-under eat, over exercise, moved jobs and home, too much alcohol, no alcohol and so on… nothing helped. As a nurse, the only time I felt worthwhile was with my patients – I was being further depleted emotionally and physically. At home, an episode of domestic abuse confirmed for me my feelings of worthlessness.
I moved to Manchester for work. I hated it. I was completely isolated from friends and family-I had been living down South. Another crushing episode led me to therapy for the first time. This was some help, but I don’t think I was really engaged. I repeated this pattern over and over-depression, therapy/counselling, etc…
However, last year I crashed big time.
I was stressed out, unable to cope with work pressures and became depressed and then suicidal. I realised that I could not keep doing this. I had frequent GP appointments, increased medication and after 3 months started therapy.
As if by magic…..
The Owl and The Coconut
On Facebook I read about The Owl and The Coconut based at the Old Library in Levy and saw a Mindfulness for Stress Reduction Taster session advertised. “I’ll give it a go” I thought. I knew straight away it was what I was looking for…apart from the raisin meditation (just yuk!). That taster had me hooked on Mindfulness – there are so many tools to help …I never realised.
I then moved on to the 8week MBSR course- It has and is helping me to change my life. I feel that I am so much more present in my life rather than in my thoughts- I regularly meditate and use meditative activities to keep myself present – walking in nature is great. I am a tree-hugger! I involve my cats in my practice-meditating, stroking a purring cat is a totally beautiful, sensory experience. Karen and Gemma were amazing, warm, welcoming and supportive.
I finished the course feeling that I was becoming a different person.
Then came Mindful Art Practice…..
This was out of my comfort zone. I’ve believed that I am not creative and cannot draw, so I was not sure if it was for me. Week one I still was not convinced that this was not for me – everyone else could draw! Oh dear…I was back to judgement..
I pushed through these feelings and learnt loads.
Using art is a great way of expressing thoughts and feelings – it helps to express what is difficult to say. Using chalks helped me to rediscover a child-like sense of wonder. Gemma and Pam were brilliant-empathetic and inspirational. Our little group all supported each other. I experienced real joy doing this course. Instead of judging my art as good or bad, I now view it as my representation of my feelings and thoughts. It just is. I try to do something creative daily, colouring in, drawing, creating patterns and so on. I love it. It’s another tool. I am the Picasso of Mindfulness! I am enjoying my life so much more, I am more present with friends and family and am passing on tips to my patients. I have had so much feedback from colleagues and friends that I am like a new person.
I now volunteer with The Owl and The Coconut. I want to give something back, what I have received from them is priceless… help in achieving a peaceful mind. There may be challenges along the way, but thanks to The Owl and The Coconut, I now have several tools to help me to STOP, NOTICE – take a breath, sit with the discomfort, be kind to myself, and then I can CREATE.
If you’d like to join one of our 8 week mindfulness courses, sign up to our newsletter for more info on upcoming courses by emailing email@example.com or book onto our next taster session on Eventbrite