London, England, 27th January; a quiet hotel

imageI feel like I have been running for weeks, chasing after a destination that I cannot reach. Like a tail that keeps moving and a carrot that dangles just outside the circumference of my longest stretch, they torment as much as they entice: dreams, promises, pathways; numerous possibilities…

Thoughts come and go. Inside, my mind is always active: frustratingly so. Practicing meditation, attending classes nearby: I am searching for answers.

Some days, I manage to get there: briefly experiencing a shaft of light, a warm glow, a sense of peace. But mostly, I don’t. Mostly I remain trapped on the outside; where I want to be, a closed door.

I’d like to take it further, see where it might lead; I feel a deep pull towards a different way of life, a life that is mindful and kind, a life that is aware of its ‘self’ and more useful to others. I would like to give and for there to be takers.

Growing things bit by bit; treating me – this, here – like a seed: I apply water as required. The weeds continue to choke the small simple bud, keen to swallow the baby before it can grow strong; they know that it will harm their own wellbeing. And even though I hold pieces of them in my heart, treasuring the companionship they give, the stories they share, the wisdom they impart: I realise the need for the travelling in tandem to end.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Without stitches you just have rags

Monday, 19th January –
Feeling peaceful and positive, full of confidence and energy: a great start.

And I had an amazing day: talking to lots of people, both known and unknown; attracting conversations and connections from strangers, both on the tube and in shops.

I challenged myself and liked how it felt.

Tuesday, 20th January –
Anxious. Trapped. Stuck under a cloud. Unable to settle anywhere, familiar places as alien as previously unexperienced ones.

Had moments of peace in class: listening, meditating… but then drifted, aimless, getting progressively stressed. Felt weak and fragile, detached from myself.

Physically, I’m run down: the result of being overly challenged; events beyond my control demanding energy and space.

Discovered a blood-filled blister in my mouth: ugly, large. It scared me: I don’t like surprises. Planning to treat it with Reiki tonight. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 21st January –
Delicate, self-conscious; lacking confidence. Experiencing low esteem; lower than what I am used to and used to managing alone.

Spent a semi-pleasurable morning knitting with a friend, teaching and guiding her through the ebb and flow of a blanket. But then – afterwards, alone – the day dragged.

By evening, I was a mess: anxious, stressed, entangled.

My mouth, instead of improving, has grown worse: the blister making way for sores down both sides of my tongue. This doesn’t help the way I currently feel about life and about myself. It feels like ever since I hit thirty, I have been unravelling. I look in the mirror and my reflection offends: old and tired, ailment-sick. I am learning not to look too hard and to stand back. It’s one of the few times it helps to be long-sighted, further convincing me that, despite struggling to see, to navigate safely – up stairs, through doors, down streets… I am better off without frames. I am tempted to start wearing make-up and push the idea around in my mind: mulling, stewing, letting it sit… But it is so contrary to what I believe in, so ‘not what I do’, that I don’t know if I can bring myself to change that much: it would be a betrayal of self, an open acknowledgement that I am less. Or am I advertising exactly that in my refusal to conform, to attempt to master beauty? I know it’s what’s inside that counts, but I am surrounded by beautiful people and I feel like I don’t belong. Besides, I’m not all that proud of the inside either. A work in progress: me, myself and I still have countless miles to go.

Thursday, 22nd January –
Took the morning slowly: pottering around the apartment, cleaning, meditating, doing Reiki… Felt better. Went to meditation, which I enjoyed, and was able to participate. Decided to pass on all afternoon activity in favour of my other half: in hindsight, a mistake, as energetically we clashed. Thankful when the day was finally over and I was released.

Still physically rundown: tongue getting worse; stomach aching, burning, cramping; shoulders and neck tense; lower back tired, drained; feet hurting, especially the right.

Friday, 23rd January –
Felt noticeably better than yesterday, finally over the effects of the Cranial I had on my rib (the one the cheap massage before Christmas broke, the one in the Chinese massage parlour, the one with the small girl who took a flying leap).

Embracing it, I went for a walk in the sun, and didn’t die of the cold. Actually, I enjoyed it and felt happy to be alive. A first for a while…

Spent the afternoon with my sister catching up, celebrating her birthday; exploring Covent Garden arm in arm. Managed to be kind to myself as well as her. Enjoyed connections with lots of people, shining from within.

Later, I even stood up for myself, realising, profoundly, that I am often happiest alone, separate from known others whose energy – hard, aggressive, paced – has a tendency to clash. However, instead of happy, this newfound awareness made me sad me. It doesn’t bode well for my ‘home-sweet-home’ and notion of the future.

Saturday, 24th January –
Great morning pottering around the flat: cleaning, tidying, etc..; to me, therapeutic.

Did Reiki.

Went to another Meetup group (I’m an addict: the deprivation of the last two years making me extra determined to throw myself into anything and everything interesting while I can). Met more people. Made friends. Really enjoyed it.

Afterwards, became anxious: most likely hunger-led. Since the Attunement, my body has turned into a greedy child, wanting always to be stuffing, cramming… craving sugar and carbs: bad stuff; things that, previously (due to professional advice) have been banned. Succumbing daily, my will power weak: I continue to exacerbate what I should be attempting to fix and I’m not sure why. Am I trying to be nice to my inner child? Or am I seeking instead to sabotage the direction in which I am trying to go, stalling what is quite possibly the most important journey of my life?

Sunday, 25th January –
After a terrible evening (containing an argument, a breakdown in communication, upset and floods…) and an unsettled afternoon wandering, clinging on, agitated and anxious: today was actually a good day: meditation seminar, long walk, lots of writing and studying in a café.

Felt more connected. More energetic too, believing that I have found something to which I can belong. I might give all of my possessions away and join a monastery or a temple, really devote myself. I like the idea: always have. Maybe that will fix the holes, enabling me to be here without all of the pain? Probably an idealistic solution; a rose-tinted remedy. Realistically, there would still be unhappiness: stubborn injuries, incurable ailments, internal malaise; big, existential questions without answers that suffice… Still, I can dream: zzz zzz zzz.

On that note: tongue still sore, stomach still burning; shoulders, neck and back, aching and tense; old foot injury back: rearing, biting; eczema a little better (perhaps?). Notice rib for the first time since Friday: still there, still tender. What a brat.

And yet: without stitches you just have rags. I am at least making progress.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A wind with malicious intent

imageThe temperature has dropped, causing me to shiver in my thermals, huddling beneath cashmere, alpaca and wool in a coat too thin to provide comfort from anything, let alone a wind with malicious intent. My hands ache and my nose runs. My hair is lank and flat thanks to my hat, which leaves a kind of residue in its wake, oily and damp. It probably needs a wash but I can’t bear the thought of having to block it again, stretching it into shape over a plate, the nature of the plate determining the nature of the garment. I have had too many misses to tempt fate. Better to wash my hair more often than risk spoiling something that took me weeks to make and which I am rather attached to having around. Sentiment can make you do crazy things; I have mourned many a hat and glove, burying each disaster beneath less distressing objects, hoping, in spite of knowing different, that time will heal. I will perfect the art of blocking one day, maybe reading up on it or taking a course. For now, however, I have more pressing concerns, like studying meditation and adding to my skill-set of alternative therapies.

I have decided that 2015 is going to be the year in which I really get to know myself, not just by way of disassociated observation but also in terms of greater comprehension, genuine attachment and unconditional respect, starting with a part I have long-since referred to as ‘the whining brat’. Like the infamous ad campaign suggests, I will endeavour to ‘stop, listen and look’ in order to re-stick, tending to what’s been left hurt and broken. And while it won’t be easy, fun, warm or quick, it will be worth the effort if the result leaves me internally stronger, better life-equipped.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Secrets and lies

imageTrying to be authentic, she writes.
But her words are hollow
and they fail to convey anything.

Her sister turned thirty today
reminding her of own big ‘three-o’,
years ago now
which she regrets.

Walking through London,
she passes the restaurant where she celebrated,
just her and him in a booth.

He gave her a ring.
It didn’t fit,
and the promise that accompanied it
is still waiting to be kept.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Loose ends and torn edges

image
The day drags,
trailing loose ends and torn edges,
collecting fluff.
Her bags carry things she will never use,
things she had planned to turn into magical objects.

A morning gone awry,
turns into an afternoon that drags
and the evening is growing old before it is young.

Trying to stitch two of the pieces back together,
she wrestles unaccommodating fabric,
cotton that has split
and a needle with a blind eye.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Multiple layers

imageIt’s so cold outside, I might actually catch hyperthermia. Walking, my whole body has gone into shock. Where is the beautiful sunshine of earlier, the brilliant blue sky overhead? I had such a lovely walk this morning, but, somehow, as the day darkened into evening and the light disappeared, the warmth evaporated too, and now it’s nothing short of unbearable. Even in multiple layers; coat, hat, scarf and gloves: I am shivering. And my shoulders have risen so high, they are competing with my neck.

Hiding out in a cafe, I am waiting for the feeling in my fingers to come back, drinking hot tea to fast-track the warming. I have had a good day though, a reward for persevering with a weekly group. There was a large table: full; new people and old, people I knew and people I did not. I talked a lot. I made a friend. I felt at home… It’s such a change to be able to find things to attend, compared to the isolation of Mallorca, and the novelty of that is still to wear off.

However, group aside, I am drifting: my ability to write comes and goes, and with it my sense of wellbeing. Why is my whole sense of self; my identity, my smile, so tightly wrapped around something I can never hold?

As I try to figure out how to get through each day, how to get the most out of everything – being here, the chances, the opportunities… my boat pitches and I feel sick.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Growing the things that have shrunk

imageFinding a quiet place to sit and work is a challenge. London is always full, especially in the center. Walking from cafe to cafe, I spend longer than I would like, waste hours I would rather not lose, attempting to repair what has come apart. And as each day unravels, giving and taking, making and breaking, I become increasingly aware that I am trapped.

Closing my eyes and rewinding; going backwards in order to stop and process before turning around and attempting to go forwards again: I sense I ought to be travelling; ingesting new sensations and experiences, growing the things that have shrunk.

But I don’t know how to get there or where it is I ought to want to go, and every time I experiment with a different route, pick a different path or take an alternate turning, I end up returning to the place where I began.

Attending meditation classes at a local centre; sitting and listening and attempting to do: something, anything, etc… I am learning. But is it enough?

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A different approach to me

image

A place previously travelled

On Sunday 18th January, I attended a Reiki course at a place called The Light Centre in Moorgate. Having qualified three years ago whilst living in Australia (following a system with 7 levels), I was curious to experience the Western way. How would it differ? Would the symbols be the same? And what of the hand positions: What order? And how many…?

Level 1 of 3, we learned about the origins of Reiki, its lineage and theory, how to cleanse our aura and how to channel the ‘Universal Life-Force’ energy for ourselves and others. During a 50-minute silence – in which we sat in a circle, eyes closed – we were treated to an individual attunement: a process where several symbols are individually placed into specific chakras.

This weekend, I am taking the second level, which (according to the Western system) allows me to practice professionally.

In a month, I do level 3 and 4.

Simplified:

• level 1 enables me to practice in a non-professional capacity
• level 2 gives me permission to practice in a professional capacity
• level 3 makes me and allows me to practice as a master practitioner
• level 4 qualifies me to teach

To advance from there, I can take different courses with different practitioners from London, from Europe, from the west and from the east, and study the ways of Reiki as it is practiced in each one, learning the subtle differences, picking up new techniques, strengthening my ability. And I think I will, as and when the opportunity arises. It’s a nice idea. Studying is rewarding: it helps to keep me energetic and vibrant; alive.

So, before I dive in to this leg of the journey, this different approach to me: I guess I had better explain what Reiki actually is, that way you won’t get too confused and you’ll forgive me for repeatedly mentioning things that could perhaps be considered distasteful or socially incorrect. Or if not that: then at the very least, boring. Like the state of my physical health, my emotional wellbeing and my general ability (or not, which is often the case) to cope with the ebb and flow of things within the circumference of a world that often feels unfamiliar. By that, I don’t mean to suggest that I am an alien being and that this is all new to me: this body, this identity, this personality; this country, these people, this place… Just that, having been away, London is at times frightening and a little fast-paced. It tends to crash and hurt, wound and scare.

Reiki: an overview

Reiki is a wonderfully gentle yet very powerful form of healing, administered by the laying on or over of hands. A simple, natural and safe method of body and mind self-improvement, it can be used to heal any form of illness – be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual – and bring about improvements in a wide range of conditions, from depression and bereavement, to cancer and arthritis.

Often described as palm healing or hands-on-body healing, Reiki is based on the idea that an unseen ‘life force energy’ flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s ‘life force energy’ is low, we are more likely to get sick or feel stress. And if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. Reiki resets our energy and realigns our chakras.

A gentle therapy, it is both relaxing and non-invasive.

For more information, please see the following links:
Reiki explained
Reiki energy and how it works

Booking a session:

If you would like to book a session with me, either directly or remotely (I can do distance healing too, if this is more convenient/practical for you), please send me an email.

Reiki Journal:

Below are links to pages from my journal, which, on my instructor’s suggestion, I have been keeping since the beginning of my training. So as not to overwhelm, I have divided them into weeks.

Level: One
Week One
Week Two
Week Three

Level: Two
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six

Level: Three
Week Seven (a.)
Week Seven (b.)
Week Eight

by Rebecca L. Atherton

imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio
• Save 30% and buy from me direct
Learn more about my work and the inspiration that guides it
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Uneven sides

imageWhatever way you look at it: my life is a triangle with uneven sides; wonky, like a tower that is crumbling or a cake that’s not right; a pack of cards stacked, tumbling. And as I attempt to navigate the landscape of my life: traveling across terrain that is uneven, bumpy; brushing up against, crashing into, obstacles that bar the way; incurring wounds and injuries… I am increasingly aware that, with time, instead of better, it gets less and less right.

Good days, bad days; happy days, sad days. Fast days, slow days; high days, low days. Days that are nice and days that are mean. Days that are concealed and days that are seen. Days that smile and days that weep. Days that wake and days that sleep. Days that talk and days that think. Days that lift and days that sink. Days that expand and days that contract. Days that add and days that subtract. Days that love and days that hate. Days that embrace and days that escape. Days that do and days that don’t. Days that will and days that won’t. Days that are days and days that are years. Days that are friends and days that are fears. There are a million ways for a day to play out… A mere traveller on an expansive back, I am fed up with being their victim.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Stone in my shoe


Feeling antsy;
finding it hard to write.
Sitting down’s a mission,
but standing up’s worse.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio