Living with pain does not mean I need to stop doing the things I have always enjoyed doing, but it makes me stop and consider the impact it will have on my body, we all need to take care of ourselves and love who we are. Life is very precious, as is our health; having poor health makes it more challenging but not impossible to live the life that the heart and soul desires.
This month has been interesting with the hot weather, I have noticed that my Chronic Fatigue heightened and I have spent some weeks just wanting to sleep during the day, I awake in the morning feeling unrefreshed and this is when I know the pain will start to niggle its way into my joints, starting with knees, elbows and feet. Some mornings getting out of bed causes such severe pain in my toe joints that I hobble around until, the pain gradually subsides. What possibly didn’t help was dancing until the early hours either around a camp fire or more recently jumping up and down at a concert; However, on both occasions it was so worth it!!!
At the end of June, I went to a gathering of like-minded souls in the heart of the Dorset countryside at Gaunts House, the reason; to Celebrate life and being alive, a retreat and gathering between the worlds, what a fantastic way to empower and rediscover myself. I haven’t lost me, but over the past 5 years facing the challenge of living with chronic pain, something changed; I became a person who I hardly recognised, someone old beyond their time, a someone who ends up not doing things as they feel too tired or their joint pain puts heed to their activities. I look well, but hidden beneath my shell, is a body that sometimes just lets me down. With Fibromyalgia, pain changes and moves around the body without warning, there is no set pattern with the disease, it effects those living with the condition differently and we all have our own unique symptoms, there is no cure or control over this, making it more difficult to get on with life. Fighting any illness daily, leaves you feeling exhausted in mind, body and spirit, which is why I explore all types of holistic therapy to enhance my wellbeing.
I have previously experienced a workshop run by Christa Mackinnon in Shamanic Journeying, accompanied by my friend Sally Free who is a Gong practitioner, at Gaunts they were joined by Heike Jenkins who runs drum and music circles and provided us with canvas and glitter for our amazing art work at the weekend. The three of them, facilitated the most wonderful weekend I have ever had the chance to participate in. I was joined by a number of like minded souls, some camping and others like myself decided to have accommodation which was in the old stable block, or the main house. It was an incredibly hot, sunny weekend but the outdoor pool, provided a cool refreshing pastime should anyone wish to take a dip and many did. The food at Gaunts was vegetarian and prepared by an amazing group of volunteers, the main house still maintains its grandeur of a family home, the tranquil grounds surrounding it provided plenty of space for quite reflection, walking, journal writing and just being . Yani Vark took the most beautiful photos that captured the real essence of the gathering.
Celebrating Life was a wonderful weekend of empowerment, connecting with nature using gongs, music medicine, shamanic journeying and working with the medicine wheel. The weekend was filled with activities, but with space to take time to reflect on being in the moment. After the opening ceremony on the Friday night, it was followed with the Gongs played by Sally which encouraged a deep restful sleep for me.
Saturday morning dawned with the promise of wonderful experiences to come and I was not disappointed. We started with a gong bath, followed by music medicine ran by Heiki, I picked a shaker that made me feel like I was in the ocean, it moved from side to side in a gentle rhythmic sound of the ages. Making me smile. This then continued into shamanic journeying with Christa, during which I had a sense of freedom and memories of my childhood playing in the fields, no sense of danger and a great feeling of the love I have for life. I could feel tingling in my legs and the right-hand side of my body, the side that the pain tends to dwell in. I felt a strong desire to heal and be healed. After lunch we danced and danced and danced….. and then walked the labyrinth whilst continuing to drum. The rest of the afternoon involved glitter and glue and sticking things on to some beautifully prepared canvases, you can never have enough glitter in your life. Creating art work is very powerful and encourages the brain to switch off from over analysing things and to just be in the moment. The remainder of the afternoon was to collect bunches in preparation for the fire ceremony later that evening. I went off in search of wild flowers and herbs similar to the bunches I used to make as a child with my mum and it was on this forage that I came across the old walled garden of Gaunts, where just the gentle humming of the bees and the stillness of nature was a joy to immerse myself in.
After dinner I took a stroll down the lane to visit the Starhenge cosmic stone circle, there is something very magical around stones and circles and only wish that I had taken my dowsing rods with me. The fire was lit later that evening and we all sat around it with our drums and collected bunches, I felt a deep connection to our forebears as I placed my flower and herb bundle in the fire and watched the rosemary scented smoke rise to the sky. The ceremony was closed down and then as the fire continued to burn and the night sky darken and so the dancing began.
Modern society has changed our being and it was here at Gaunts house dancing around the fire that it dawned on me, that there is something very powerful about dancing around a camp fire, primitive, soul enhancing, I felt a huge sense of joy connecting with the fire, dancing on the earth in bare feet. It was here I reconnected with myself. It was in the early hours of the morning as the fire died down that I found myself heading off to bed, with dirty feet covered in ash, but a heart and soul full of joy and the most amazing feeling of being alive, really alive. My body ached but I knew the adrenaline pumping around my body would sustain me for a few days within the state of euphoria.
I slept well, maybe from exhaustion but woke feeling refreshed, Sunday was started with Heike’s drumming circle, music is very powerful it aids healing for mind, body and spirit, following this with one of Sally’s gong baths, Christa explained how to worked with the medicine wheel, I found this ancient form of meditation to confirm; I believe I am me, being true to myself, can help me heal. I have always had faith that this time of suffering with pain will pass, to be free from all that holds me back, to love life and live.
Following lunch the weekend came to a close with a drumming circle and closing ceremony. I came home from the weekend feeling so amazing, I knew that I would be tired but I was so high on life, sometimes it is really important for me to weigh up the consequences of enjoying myself and feeling alive or giving in to the pain that ravages through me. Fibro has taken my body, but I refuse to let it take my soul and spirit.
Sometimes you really have to embrace the opportunities that come your way; Celebrate life and being alive. Believe me it is always, so worth it.