Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Bonheur vitale

Last weekend I spent in Sitges, near Barcelona for the first International Symposium of Caycedian Sophrology, and the 50th anniversary of its birth. And what a weekend it was!

Natalia, as always, and maybe even more than usual, was the very personification of "bonheur vitale". This is a phrase that I have been having a problem translating, to get the correct meaning. Vital Happiness,it just doesn't have the same ring, especially as "vitale" doesn't just mean vital, it also has the idea of life itself....

One possibility is "The Force of Happiness"

And in many ways that sums up Sophrology, the force of happiness.

Another is Essential Happiness.....

The jury is still out!

So my weekend, full of many many highlights.

On a practical level, I shall be involved in the translation of the new site. That is very exciting for me.

However, there was another highlight. As I am hard of hearing, I sit near the front, so that I can lip read. This time I was beside two visually impaired ladies, one of whom, I spent a lot of time with. I became aware of the difficulties for the visually impaired when speakers depended on powerpoints, and demonstrations and I ended up at times describing what was happening on the stage, or reading the slide. I was reminded of when my very hard of hearing sister taught at a blind school, and of the pupils remarked "We see with our ears, you hear with your eyes"

This was even more true the following day. We had a walk of the tridimensionality of the being, that is the past, present and future, with an emphasis on love. These walks are wonderful, we look at things as if it were for the first time. I feel a closeness with nature that is awesome. My neighbour asked to walk with me. She has not always been blind, and colour is still very important to her. As we walked, I described what I could see; as we left the hotel, whe asked if the sky were blue. I remplied that it was, but that there were some clouds; she particulalry liked the desciption of the clouds as being candy floss! Another lady spoke to us, as we went towards the beach.

She remarked on the complicity between us, and I could see that she asumed that we had know each other for a long time. We explained that we had only just met. That was such a lovely thing, that we were seen as being so close.

I learnt a lot as I was desribing what I saw, I really did look at things as if for the first time, with the positive aspect always being first. It is somthing I am trying to keep on doing, looking for the positive in whatever I am doing. Not always easy, but worth the effort.

One thing I did not descibe in detail were the three nude men sunbathing....the other lady did however make the following observation "It's brings a whole new meaning to tridimensionality!"

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Where I am now

Well, sophrology has been a big bit of my recent life. I have finished the training in Andorra, and am now a Speacialised Masters in Caycedian Sophrology. And I am am my own best advert as fas as stress managment goes.

Just before I came to the end of my formal training, I had a powerful example of just how important sophrology was in my life, and just how far I had integrated it, at least on certain levels. The school where I had worked for almost 14 years was threatened with closure. It was not an easy time, the school was small, and we were close. Our principal financier, and the entity which had originally founded us, decided to withdraw all funding. Moreover, even though they were setting up another school, they refused to employ any of us. This latest had followed a series of events, meetings, etc, where we were told that we would know within a fortnight etc etc etc. To everyone’s surprise, not least my own, I was calm, serene; I shared practices with certain colleagues, those who seemed to have the hardest time dealing with the situation; I shared the serenity prayer with all my colleagues; and I tried to put it into practice.

Since then we have had the redunancy notices, my job is safe,at least until the end of the academic year. However, my nightmare scenario has come to pass, and my immediate boss is leaving, along with nearly half of the permanent members of staff.

The next few months are going to be trying for me, the atmosphere is not likely to be great etc etc etc. However, a friend send me this quote today "some of the most terrible things in my life, never even happened", Mark Twain... Add to that the book I have just finished, Man's Search for Meaning by Voctor Frankl, one that is well worth reading, and holds a real meaning for me.

So where I am now? Well, in a time of change, trying to use the tools at my dispositions, and working on several projects of my own, preparing myself for the next stage in my professional life.

And I've decided on this for my website, etc https://www.anniesannuals.com/signs/a/alchemilla_mollis_select.htm
now I need to take a decent photo of it!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

L and M

I am loyal and loved and likeable and loquacious

and I admit, I do sometimes lallygag

Whilst I am never going to be long limbed and leggy

I am going to be laughing and lovely and a Little Loopy and Lively and Light and Luxurious and Lucky and Lean

though not the engineering we teach at school.

As for M, well I am motherly

I am going to be Merry and Modest and Muddy and Majestic and Motivating and Mild and above all Mindful

of all that I eat

when I am sitting

When I am moving

And that is the other major M


I am moving!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Last week, French television showed a rather frightening experiment. You can read about the Game of Death here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8573755.stm and here http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Strange-News/French-TV-Experiment-Which-Encouraged-Players-To-Torture-Another-Contestant-Condemned-In-France/Article/201003315575334?lpos=Strange_News_Article_Related_Content_Region_1&lid=ARTICLE_15575334_French_TV_Experiment_Which_Encouraged_Players_To_Torture_Another_Contestant_Condemned_In_France

I used this as a teaching tool. We looked at the excerpts on youtube, and everyone was suitably horrified. I felt that some of the comments in the press didn't go far enough. "we need to teach to teach children to disobey"? Sorry, we have lots of children who disobey, who have no respect for "authority" Yes, authority gets it wrong. Yes, TV should not be authority. But neither should a gang boss. Neither should a terrorist. Neither should a religious fanatic. Neither should a .........................We need to teach children to chose wisely who they should obey and who they should disobey. And it should be their choice not ours. We get it wrong too.

I spoke earlier about Steven Covey' 8th habit, and I went back to his 7 habits, and brought that into class. It was clear that the people in the programme had lost their "true north" their real values. We discussed all of that.

And then, the girl who had to present habit 7, sharpen the saw, came up with something so simple and yet so mindbending. In the 7th habit, amongst other things, you look at what you should be doing in the following fields, physical, spiritual, mental and social. She said, that you had to get the physical in line first, be healthy, before you could tackle the rest. I added that you had to respect yourself, or it was difficult to respect others. She said that those were the words she had been looking for.

Soooo, the £64000 question, appropriately also from the TV (or not). Do you respect yourself?

Bodies and Respect and Choices

This may not be as finished as I would like, however, I wanted to blog. I may not express myself as well as I should like to, but I am making a choice!

Some of my students did a very silly thing in another class.......not only did they copy work from the previous year, they also added some very sexist comments to the powerpoint slide. Every year I do at least one class on the place of women in the workplace, and also society, and this fell just at the right time. I then went on further, and gave them some articles to read about a remarkable woman Camila Batmanghelidjh. www.independent.co.uk/ne
-their-pillows-834553.html www.guardian.co.uk/socie

We then discussed the woes of society, and what could be done to help. Yes, I know I am supposed to be teaching them Business English; however I do have a sound pedagogical base for my methods....once they have discussed such difficult things, then business English is a piece of cake!

Soo, where does that get us. One thing that is clear from the articles is how removed from their bodies (and society) these kids are. Having been abused, so horrifically, they often continue to abuse themselves, with drugs etc. And they do not respect themselves. How could they, they have been disrespected in the worst way. Here I come back to Sophrology, and Dr Caycedo saying that society is now very ill, and I have to agree. And that these kids are not "conscious" or aware of their bodies. They can't be. It has been necessary to cut of their awareness of themselves in order to survive. How can they respect anything when they themselves have been so "dissd" This does not make it any easier for their victims, when their learnt responses leads to another act of violence. And for those who are touched by it. I don't have an answer here, for those damaged souls.

So where does that take me? Well, the distance between being conscious of our bodies, respecting them, and really owning them. Let's look at society, and what do we see. Unreality! Airbrushing women whose heads become larger than their hips.......cosmetic surgery, increasingly for men as well as women.... the oversexualisation of women, reducing them to objects, as seen in my students actions above.....the oversexualisation of men too, putting unreal expectations on them, six packs, constantly virile........the abolition of childhood.....no good clean dirt, learning your bodies limits, through play.......too dangerous, too risky leading to too too bland!

And then this morning, I started to re read Stephen Covey's the 8th habit. So far it is talking about choices. Scary things choices. It means that we are responsible for ourselves. We can't argue that a big boy or girl "made" us do something and then ran away. We are free to chose. And quite often we don't make the right choice. If we had always done so, well, we wouldn't be here, to be quite brutal. If we had made the right choices we would have eaten less and exercised more.

We, or at any rate I, are removed from out bodies. I continue to make choices that disrespect my body. I've just looked at a photo taken on my 40th birthday. I'll be 53 next week. I was coming out of anorexia at the time. So I'm quite slim. According to the BMI I was really healthy. But I wasn't. That doesn't stop me looking at the photo, and dreaming of getting back to that weight. Not realistic. Not healthy.

So the bottom line for me. If I truly respect my body, I shall take better care of it. I shall make choices, and one of those choices is to let go of the perfecionism, to stop beating myself up for the mistakes. To stop letting the past rob me of the present, and above all of my future. I am working on choosing to accept the body I have, and therefore owning it, and then choosing to do what is necessary to repect my body more.

I am becoming concious of my body, and the choices I make concerning my body. I chose to respect myself.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

J and K

The letter J has an interesting history. Prior to medieval times, it was used to represent the consonant /i/ and was pronounced as /y/. So, a word like "iest" later transformed to "jest". The letter J did not exist in ancient Latin and was later introduced to the alphabet near the end of the medieval era. Today, calligraphers have a field day writing the letter. There are many ways and styles the letter can be represented, especially with its umbrella hook at the end. source www.yourdictionary.com

Yes, J is not the easiest of letters. I could simply say that I am Janet, that being one of my middle names, but that is possibley cheating.

And I am going to continue to cheat, by using "La Jocunda" and her famous smile, simply because she is lovely to look at.

It's my blog, and I can if I want to...

I am going to be jovial and jubilant and joyful and jingly and jiggly

and jolly and jokey and jazzy and jumping jacks

Watch out for the jiggly.

I am kind of kind
and possibly even one of a kind, and I am going to be knowing and keen and kissable and kickass and kooky and

a knock out

Monday, 1 March 2010

G to I

I am gregarious!, that is to say fond of the company of others; sociable Well, a lot of the time. Here I think I'd be trying to chat with the introverts.
And I am going to be glorious and great and gorgeous and golden and generous and glowing and glittery and graceful!

I am helpful
although it won't be long til I'm the one with the cane. I am going to be happy and hardy and humane and heroic and humane and healthy
and also HOT

Nope, that I am at the moment, I am going to be this kind!

I am inspirational. I know that I have inspired some of my students, and helped them to look at things in different ways
I've also had it explained that often we're good at teaching things we're not that good at putting into practice! Do as I say, not as I do. I am also intelligent, and I am going to use that intelligence to achieve my goals.

I am going to be immaculate and incredible and interesting and independent and impressive and intriguing

And I am having a lot of fun finding the illustrations.....some trickier letters coming up soon though!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

on with the Alphabet

I am Determined, to beat the blues, and become the person I want and deserve to be. If that means faking it till I make it, so be it.

I am going to be dainty well, maybe not and dazzling and decisive and delicious and dependable and daring and delightful

I am empathetic, and as I was looking for an illustration, I realised that I do not do unto myself as I do unto others! So I will listen to my own advice.

I am going to be energetic and exciting and easy going and exotic, and elegant

I am fun,
and I am going to be fabulous and fantastic and faithful and friendly and firm and above all FIT

Friday, 26 February 2010

Bucked up

I have not been feeling so great the last few days, and needing to be bucked up, which to paraphrase one of my favourite author's, Terry Pratchet, is several letters away in the alphabet from how I am actually feeling. (No illustration)

And that got me thinking of alphabets; and the minister's cat!

and how I play it with my classes (of young adults) as the teacher's cat, and why shouldn't it be the teacher herself. However, only positive, what I am and what I am going to be! I reflected along this idea on the way home from work, and I will start my very own abc now...only part of the alphabet, because I do enjoy finding appropriate illustrations! And if any readers want to comment, start their own, please share!

So, A...oh, and one more thing (yes, I am like this in real life, you mean that tangents aren't straight?) I also saw a quote today The words 'I am...' are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you're claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.
A. L. Kitselman.....
So what I shall be saying is "I am...." and claiming it. And then "I am going to be......" positive thinking.

I am able.....

This tickled my fancy, because of the link with my own profession, however I am able because
I have brought up four children on my own
I have forged a second career for myself
I am well assimilated in a foreign country
I have found love
to name but a few!

I am also "articulate" (even with the tangents) "avid" (I love learning) "adaptable" (elastic even lol) "aware" (even if I haven't always taken the final step)

And I am going to be "attractive" and "athletic" and "agile" and "amazing" and "adorable" and "awesome"

In the car, when I got to "B" I couldn't think of a positive that I am actually at the moment. I carried on with the letters of the alphabet. However, I did manage to find a B; it isn't very feminine, but then I'm not always very feminine. It was ballsy...the illustrations are perhaps not suitable. however, I came up with a synonym...bold! And when I typed in "to boldly split infinitives" look what I found

just a tad ironic, as I live in France.

When I looked at the "B" adjectives, I could see why I had originally had a problem, lots of them are "B" rated. However, I am also "British" "brave" (this is on a percentage, if it measures at all) "bubbly" (not just the champagne) "brunette" (with the help of M. L'oreal et al) and "bright (not quite stupid, cf brave)

I am going to be "beautiful" "blissful" "braver" "beaming" and maybe "barefoot"!

Now we come to "C". I have 4, my four C's, my children, my past present and future all rolled into one. C had a particular resonance for me.

So what kind of C am I? I am caring, and I couldn't resist this image. When my third C, Calder, was born, when the first two came to the hospital, he had a present for each of them, a care bear? And how Carrick and Charlotte loved those care bears. So for my C, that seems do appropriate

So the "C"s compassionate (same difference) "conscious" (sophrology and all that) "cheerful" (hmm, quite a lot of people would dispute that at the moment, me included!) "charming" (less dispute)

So I am going to be "confident" (really, and not just how people see me), "cool" (well, here's hoping) "courageous" (ditto with confident) and above all "calm"

Maybe that's not bad for a start?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Well, maybe I should give an example

This blog is supposed to be about Sophrology, sort of, so maybe I should give an example of what it is.

So if you're sitting comfortably, then I'll begin.

But first, to digress. I rememeber the very very first Jackanory. And thanks to the wonders of internet, I have been able to check that is was in 1965. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackanory I was (and am) and avid reader, I loved Jackanory.

And what does that have in common with Sophrology. The spoken word. The word that gives. The word that can heal.Perhaps not so surprisingly, the very first story on jackanory confirms the importance of communciation. And listening....

Sooo, if you are sitting comforatably, then I'll begin (and if anyone would like to actually hear me, drop me a line, and I'll send you the file)

I am sitting comfortably in a chair, my hands on my thighs, my eyes closed so that I can better concentrate on myself. I am conscious of the contact points of my body, my feet, my buttocks, and my back. I am conscious of my clothes on my body. I breathe out gently and I relax in this position.

I relax my whole body, system by system, starting with my first system.

I am conscious of my first system, my head and my face. I relax my forehead; it becomes as smooth as a lake. I relax my eyes, all the muscles around my eyes, behind my eyes. My eyelids become heavier. I relax my cheeks, I let my jaw drop, I let my mouth open slightly, my tongue gently touching my palette. I am conscious of the shape of my skull, the shape of my face, the inside of my mouth. My first system is relaxed. I am conscious of the form of my first system without tension.

I am conscious of my second system. I am conscious of my neck and my throat, the means of communication. I relax my throat. I am conscious of my shoulders. I drop my shoulders. I release all tension in my shoulders, and all the way down the outer part of my arms, my forearms, the back of my hands, and right down to my nails. My second system is relaxed. I am conscious the form of my second system without tension.

I am conscious of my third system; the inside of my arms, my armpits, my thorax, my upper back. I turn my hands so that my palms face upwards, so as to better live my third system. All the muscles from my collarbone down to my floating ribs are relaxing. My breath becomes more regular, and less obvious, as my breathing is moving down to my abdomen. I can feel my diaphragm going up and down gently as I breathe. I am conscious of the muscles in my upper back relaxing. My torso is relaxed, and I am conscious of the form of my third system without tension.

I put my palms back onto my thighs.

I am conscious of my fourth system, my abdominal belt. I am conscious of my abdomen softening and relaxing. My breathing is becoming more natural, and my abdomen rises and falls with my breath, like a baby or a kitten. I am aware of my vital organs, and I can sense calm in my entire abdominal area. I relax the muscles in my lower back, those muscles which keep me upright, and which are constantly under tension My entire abdominal area is relaxed, and I am conscious of the form of my fourth system without tension.

I am conscious of my fifth system; my pelvis, my thighs, my knees, my calves, my shins, my ankles my feet, right down to my toes. I relax the entire base of my body, that part which is usually under tension, keeping me upright, or balanced. I relax all of the muscles, my buttocks, perineum, thighs, knees, calves, ankles right down to the tips of my toes, I am conscious of my the form of my fifth system without tension.

I am conscious of my whole body relaxed, and I take a few minutes to welcome all my consciousness into my corporality. I fully appreciate my vivance. With each breath I descend further, I get closer to the edge of sleep, without actually falling asleep. I am in the Sophro liminal level.

I breathe.

My breathing is calm, harmonious, and I can imagine my breath as a wave, that starts from the soles of my feet, enters my body by the soles of my feet, and then rises through my body, through the fifth system, the fourth system, the third system, the second system, the first system, right up to the top of my skull, where it spills out and over, and down my back, following the contours of my back, like a waterfall, until it reaches my feet, where it starts the journey again, through the soles of my feet, and then rises through my body, through the fifth system, the fourth system, the third system, the second system, the first system, right up to the top of my skull, where it spills out and over, and down my back, following the contours of my back.

I welcome all the sensations into my corporality.

I let a positive image of scenery come to me; scenery which is calm, restful, serene. I can imagine what is in front of me, what is behind me. I can imagine the scents, the warmth perhaps, the sounds. I take the time to welcome all the agreeable physical sensations that I can feel throughout my entire body.

I can join my thumb and my forefinger.

To better fix these agreeable sensations, I breathe in, and at the top of my breath I hold my breath. All these positive feeling are fixed in my body, and as I slowly breath out, these positive feelings are diffused throughout and into all the cells of my body.

I repeat, I breathe in, at the top of my breath I hold my breath I am aware of all the positive feelings that come to mind from the image of my positive scene. I fix these feelings in my corporality. As I breathe out I diffuse them and fix them in all the cells of my body.

If I wish, I can do this a third time, at my own rhythm.

I welcome all the sensation into my corporality.

I welcome the capacities of confidence, confidence in myself, and in my environment, harmony between my body and my spirit, and with all those around me, and hope, for the future that I am working towards. I take the time to welcome them into my corporality.

Now I prepare myself to come back. When I am ready I can take two or three deep breaths, I can then start to wriggle my toes, stretch my legs, move my fifth system, my fourth, my arms my third second and first systems, I can , yawn, stretch my whole body, rub my arms, legs, head, and when I am ready, I open my eyes……. I am back in the world.

Monday, 15 February 2010

More musings

Ok we had the introduction, and now down to the nitty gritty....

I've been thinking about how society views the menopause, and menopausal women; and by extension how we do ourselves.

But first we have to think about bodies, our own bodies, how we see them

and what they are really intended for

What is the menopause all about? Hormones! (incidentally, the name of my late brothers first band; punk of course circa 1978. I was the road manager...the only one with a driving licence. My ex was their manager....the only one with a suit)

Hormones, hmm, feeling the shift at the moment. When you start to look into them they play a huge unacknowledged part in our lives. not just the reproductive stuff, important that that may me, but also lots of other things....check out this link en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li
So hormones are more than just sex..... they are also about growth; mood, appetite, sleep (serotonin, another blog an another time) ......and lots of other things.

Sooo, what does the menopause mean for me and many other women. NO MORE BABIES! Why should that be a problem. After all, the contraceptive industry is huge, to prevent us becoming so.

And if I had been hoping for a bit more liberation on the beach come the summer, than there were certain practical elements in question (if you are old enough to follow my convoluted explanation, then ok, 18 classification!) (and maybe too much detail) Why should I mourn a part of me that I have been actively suppressing for years? And yet, and yet..... that part of me is going to be suppressed, without my input...and it is not the same for men. yes, I mourn my fertility, but that is only one part of the equation. What does the menopause mean?

Well not a lot actually. Some women sail through, others are laid low. I'm in the middle. My best friend some of the time is as follows. This

and not this

And sorry chaps, that old friend fatigue is knocking at the door

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Musings from the perimenopause part 1

So first think, what classification should this blog be.....

there shall be some references to sex so if you might be offended, please go no further

but as they will all be in soft focus,

they should not give offence.

The menopause is defined as 12 months without menses (ok, using grown up words here, but still shouldn't give rise to an 18 classification) and I thought that I was half way through. Until today. I wanted to be half way through, as that would have meant that next summers time on the beach romping in the waves could have been really without concerns (Ahhhhhh too much detail, even with soft filters, we do not want to know)

Ok, this should calm things down....fully clothed after all

Now, a bit of history. I met my partner, Jacques, through the internet 9 years ago. We fell in love before meeting (cue aw shucks, violins etc) and when we met, he said that he would have loved me whatever my weight. However, he did also say that had I been 80 kgs, he would have enouraged me to diet, for my health, and for my self respect. I think I was around 59 kgs at the time, and the idea of being 80 was incredible to me. (Buzz Aldwin, "over to you Mrs Robinson")

Whenever I got to around 63/64kgs I would react, and things would sort themselves out. Untill 2007 that is, when various things happened, including the real beginning of the dratted perimenopause.

Now, you would have thought that sweating so much dring the night that "one" had to first change sides, and then change the sheets, and even then in the morning "one" looked as if "one" had already been in the shower as "one" dragged "oneself" out of bed, "one" would lose weight, at least through water. But no, the opposite was true. The scales just continued to creep up and up

and standing on one foot didn't fool anybody!

So end of part one, time for me to sleep, those who are strong in heart can follow the next part (soft focus and all)

Sunday, 3 January 2010


I am very aware that the language of Sophrology and its specific vocabulary can appear at first to be a bit off-putting, it certainly scared me; add to that the fact that Professor Caycedo has “invented” words to describe certain of the phenomena that we live in Sophrology.
In my role as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, I try to explain that words are labels for ideas, feelings, sentiments etc… in other words for things that we experience, the phenomena that we shall be looking at later. How could you explain the words “hot” or “cold” to someone who has never experienced them? The vocabulary that Professor Caycedo uses is in the same vein; such things have to be experienced to be understood. That is where the quote by Aristotle is so appropriate. So do not be put off by such words as “vivance” “phronic region” etc, don’t try to understand them, just live them, and the understanding will follow.
Whilst I was learning, some words were forbidden; the word “but” for example. “Yes, but…” How many of us have been guilty of that! Or quite simply; “but no!” My way round it was to say, “However” ……it’s amazing the different dynamics that the change in word brings it. It is less negative; it is giving an opening rather than a closing. In French, the impersonal “one” is often used. For me as a non native speaker it is much easier to conjugate than “I You and We”. However, it is impersonal, and it was also banned from our vocabulary. No longer was it the “one”, the “other” but “I”. And that means taking responsibility. For me, myself, I.
Some words were added for example “yet” I can’t do it…yet! Here again, an opportunity to start a new road, rather than sitting down and refusing to go any further.
Translation from the French gave me quite a few headaches. “Je suis conscient” I am conscious, or I am aware? Apart from the fact that the latter makes many think of a particular film star, it seemed to me to be closer to the mark. I have also come across the word “mindful” which has a similar ring to it. And then, I realized, that what I had to do was to explain what I meant by the use of the word, and I could use the former, to englobe the latter, and to remain closer to the original semantics. That particular aha moment came on the return of the first trip to Andorra, as I woke out of a slumber…..An example of the sophro liminal layer bringing forth the answer.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Forward ....... comments please

My introduction to Sophrology, and my subsequent Voyage, is quite a love story.
Born in Scotland, I have lived in France since 1990, and the birth of my 3rd child. In 1996, my equally Scottish ex husband left me, and I found myself as a single parent with 4 children, ages ranging from 4 to 12. I had a difficult time, however went back to work, as a teacher, and as they say in France, made my life again. In 2001, thank to the wonders of internet, I met a wonderful man, Jacques, and we embarked upon a relationship. This was long distance, as my four lived with me, and his three with him. Not only did we not fancy making dinner for 9 every evening, we wanted to take it slowly, and give our own relationship a chance to grow, without the distraction of 7 pre and teenage children.
Let’s fast forward to 2007 which was the year that we both celebrated our 50th birthdays. I rather diffidently suggested that we celebrate together. He agreed, to my huge surprise, as long as we did something different. We did. We decided on a Scotland Savoy workshop; mini highland games in the afternoon, bagpipes, Scottish dancing, Scottish and Savoy songs, haggis and tartiflette on the menu, national costumes from all over Europe.....we had a wonderful time.
Parties mean presents, and Jacques found me a most unusual one. It should perhaps be empathised that in my speech I referred to the “eclectic” character of my home, which gives a clue. And some time before, when I had been bemoaning the state of my house, Jacques hinted that his present to me might help the part of me that was organised and throwing out challenged. I am not joking when I say that I thought it might be a skip!
It was, however, something much better; it was an introductory weekend to Sophrology. Jacques said that he was offering me that, because he didn’t want to bury me, he wanted to grow old with me; because he loved me. And my frantic life style, two jobs, a constant running to try to catch up was not conducive to a serene and relaxed partner.
So off I went to the first weekend to learn, I thought, to relax. There I discovered that Jacques’ present went so much further. This was an opportunity to learn not only to learn how to relax, but to live in a positive manner, and also to teach other people as well.... the teacher’s soul in me went yippee!
That very first day had me hooked. I joined in with 4 other ladies, plus the teacher. The other students were in their second year, and radiated a lively serenity that I wanted too. They were in touch with themselves, their emotions, and as I learnt, their bodies.
And that is one of the central points of Caycedian Sophrology, getting back in touch with our bodies. This is an area that I shall be developing throughout this book.
The book is an attempt to synthesise what I have learnt in parts of my journey. It is not a translation of the excellent books that are available in French. It does follow more or less the same path, for a very good reason. All of these, including my own, are based on the work of Professor Alfonso Caycedo, the creator of Sophrology. Therefore the history, sources, language, methods and practices will all be the same.
My Voyage continued and continues, as you shall discover.
In the first two years I lost count of the moments that were important to me. The first weekend we used a technique to help us make a choice. I wrote down the things I thought I wanted, including a tidy house. What came up was a peaceful home....tidy was only a means to an end. On the second weekend, I “gave” in English; I was so concerned about language, how to translate in English, what I could say, that it was blocking me. I actually got applause, and I thought, “I can do this”. The contents of the weekend were not always positive; Sophrology can disturb, said our teacher, and when I stopped fighting it did. My hidden feelings on a variety of subjects bubbled up; my hearing loss on one occasion and on another Pandora’s Box was well and truly opened. I learnt from both of these experiences. And continue to do so.
The positive ones were amazing; seeing myself as if I were looking at myself from the outside (more of that later) accepting the me that I could see; opening myself to the world; welcoming the energy of the Universe................These are teasers to hope that you will go through the book and find these examples, and more.
Jacques is not the only person in this love story. Yannick, the main teacher is a wonderful example of unconditional living and sharing love. And then there are the “gels”, the ladies whom I met on my voyage, and who joined me helped me, shared with me, reassured me, laughed with me, and cried with me. Certain shared the car journey, bedrooms, belly laughs, shopping, brandy and the high moments in Andorra; Sylvie, Isabelle, Cendrine and Celine “let’s laugh together”. Others shared with me in class, and I hope that Fred, Anne Laure, Aurolie, Elzabeth, .........................................you all learnt something from me. I certainly learnt from you.
This story started with romantic love, and has not yet finished. We can also find filial love, my children so happy to see their mum relaxed; parental love, my parents delighted to see me fulfilled and challenged; amical love, friends old and new enjoying the me that I am; and Universal love, the love that comes to me from the Universe.
One thing that I shared with my classes was “Desiderata” An old hippy poster, it resonated, and resonates with me. So do other old hippy posters, and songs; Turn Turn Turn, The Pete Seegar song based on Ecclesiastes, And last but not least, Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, when he said......
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that),
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.
For me Sophrology is a way to bring sense and worth to all people, and it reminds us, that we are all, brothers, or sisters, under the skin!