Walk Inniú | Ecopsychology
Walk Inniú Counselling Psychotherapy Outdoors is David Staunton’s response to provide people in Ireland with an introduction and access to Ecotherapy.
Counselling, Psychotherapy, Dublin, Outdoors, David Satunton, Grief, Stress, Anxiety, Sexuality, Low Mood, depression, relationships, bereavement,
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Ecopsychology Tag

Brighton Beach

Brighten Beach, Brighton – In Memory of Martin Jordan 1967 – 2017

Today a sun (for there are many), warms my tired face through thin glass of half-opened regency.

I smell sea, I see sea (if I contort).

Most of Martin’s body has spent its first night in dark clay,

(There is very little sunlight in dark clay but there is some).

Can he feel the sun, any son anywhere?

Perhaps his essence now experiences all the suns (and sons) in the universes.

 

I am of the flesh and blood (and spirit) of one who is long buried in the chalky clay of this place.

Do bodies in the ground get to know each other? (Stupid question… of course they do).

Like a sneaky, risk taking rhizome,

projecting, tunnelling, confusing, coping and skulking through sea, earth and sad soulful spirit,

I will meet bits of them both on Foynes Street, the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster, some unholy wholly magical well hidden on Achill Island or in the place where the Welsh live.

And although many might want to piss on their graves.

Members of my family who are still hurting and angry.

or,

The selfish, lost, insecure trumpoline who reigns in another more moneyed place since yesterday.

or,

The blinded, deafened, worshipping angels who would never try to understand the achievements of either of the dead men I mourn.  (I am (in part) part of their achievement).

 

I leave here now, knowing that at least there are two deadish and very special human-being seeds in the ground of this place.

(And everybody knows that if you love and water deadish human-being seeds, amazing human-being trees will grow full of leafy love with nutritious healing fruit).

Why? Because a root must find water (we were told this at Martins funeral).

But remember, water will always find a route.

 

Isn’t life really fucking trickey, twisty and tasty?

 

David Staunton
21/01/2017

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Wexford Walking Trail logo

Ecotherapy Walks with Wexford Walking Trail

 

I am truly happy to be heading to the scenic south-east at the kind invitation of the excellent Wexford Walking Trail collaboration to facilitate four ecotherapy walks this November.  Wexford is a county which I have many fond connections with.

 

On the 5th of November, I look forward to walking with a group in Courtown Woods in the morning and Ferns in the afternoon, whilst on the 12th  of November the ecotherapy walks will be in Carrigbyrne and Lacken.  (Booking your place is essential and to do so please contact Mary on 086 163334).

 

It is the intention of the Wexford Walking Trail organisation ‘to enhance the visitor experience and raise awareness of the quality, diversity and location of our trails’.  This intention and ethos is of course ‘music to my ears’ as it helps to heighten our connection with nature and explore the bonds between not only ‘people and place’ but ‘human and other than human nature’.  Many of the benefits of being outdoors in nature are fairly obvious in that it increases both our physical and psychological wellbeing but increased awareness and respect for all forms of nature is the essence of ecotherapy and ecopsychology.

 

As anybody who has sauntered their way through a pile of autumn leaves knows, there is a beautiful truth and honesty in nature and it so often encourages us to connect in with a more authentic version of ourselves.   For all its beauty and magnificence, nature does not try to impress us humans, it is just…there.  When we recall past wild winter storms, we are reminded that nature is harsh at times and may leave us acknowledging our own sense of fear and awe or perhaps evoke feelings of powerlessness when we are faced with its indiscriminate energy and might.

 

If we ignore the needs of nature or attempt to subjugate the ‘other than human nature’ that surrounds us, not alone do we cause untold harm to our planet but we do so at the cost of much of our own personal health and wellbeing.  Why?  Simply because as human beings we too are an integral part of nature.

 

I look forward to meeting you on our ecotherapy walks in Wexford and I could not agree more with Wexford Walking Trail when they suggest that we… ‘Let nature lead the way’.

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Walk and Talk

7 Benefits from Walking and being Outdoors

Why should we walk?

 

  1. Exercise such as walking releases endorphins in our brains and this makes us feel better.

 

  1. Medical and General Practitioners advise us that walking outdoors in nature can support us with many health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and aid us with post cancer fatigue.

 

  1. Even leisurely walking outdoors improves our mood, self- esteem, and increases our motivation.

 

  1. When we walk in sunshine – we absorb Vitamin D and this helps us to reduce our levels of depression/low mood.

 

  1. When we walk outdoors in nature it can inspire and support us to grow, heal and learn, develop a sense of belonging, whilst restoring our self acceptance.

 

  1. After walking outdoors for even a short time – we are less likely to feel or tell ourselves we are ‘stuck’.

 

  1. Walking outdoors is good for the planet. Ecotherapy and ecopsychology are based on the assumption that as humans we have an innate instinct to connect emotionally with nature. In doing so we tend to care more for nature and become more aware of the poor treatment our planet receives from humankind. This reduces defence mechanisms such as avoidance and denial allowing us to move into a more accepting, caring and centred place.

 

 

Enjoy your walk…

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DSC05191

Fields

 

Ravaged, cut, split, torn,
Growing heather, rushes, bushes, thorn.
Supersaturated, drowning,
Lakes and rivers without boundary,
Spilling into a vessel which can hold no more.

 

Patches and tufts of green misplaced,
Hold miserable animals wishing themselves elsewhere.
Driving, wetting, cruel mists and sheet rain,
Assuring a long hard winter before the next fine day.
Promising lower land will sleep dead underwater.

 

The men who pull and drag,
Life, rocks, clay and whins bush,
Suffer an eternity of forcing and cursing.
Trying to make land…
Instead of making time.

David Staunton

 

I wrote this poem not because I felt I could write poetry of any great merit – but because I had to.  It was written at a time when I was attempting to make sense of my world as I experienced it, to reconcile with dark memories from the past and acknowledge my fears and anger at the time of writing.  As I look back and reflect on the poem, I see my harsh projections of anxiety, negativity and anger at that time. Thankfully when it comes to exploration of a mindful manner, nature has an infinite holding capacity.  From a train window travelling through the west of Ireland in 2010, I became deeply aware of field after wet waterlogged field, passing in my gaze.  The fields seemed to invite me to explore my own busy, troubled and frightened self at a deep level – ‘to find Jung’s gold in the shadows’ as it were.  And for too long I had mined a lot of ‘fool’s gold’ – but I now felt more ready to look for the real thing.

Self analysis, self care and ongoing reflection is paramount for all counselling psychotherapists in order to provide a kind and therapeutically effective space for their clients.  Those wet fields and bogs of Connaught supported and held me as I wrote, inspiring and encouraging me to accept that the meaningful courage and strength I sought was accessible within my very being.  Ecopsychology and Ecotherapy at work.

‘We do not see things as they are we see them as we are’ Talmud

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David Staunton The Irish Times

Irish Times Feature ‘Behind the News’

Given how new and unique the idea of counselling psychotherapy outdoors is here in Ireland, I was delighted to be featured in the Irish Times’ popular contribution ‘Behind the News’ by Sylvia Thompson.  Raising peoples awareness around ecotherapy and ecopsychology is very much my aim and I felt fortunate to say the least when Sylvia asked to interview me about my psychotherapeutic work at Walk Inniú and the Wellness Workshops at our Ecotherapy Hedge School.

You can read the article here.

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walk_inniu_view_1

‘Giving up’ biscuits?

Why are you are ‘giving up’ biscuits?

Wednesday the 18th of February, 2015 – is known to many millions as Ash Wednesday.  I have no idea how many Christians will make ‘Lenten vows’ today after their pancake splurging last night.  However Christian or otherwise, old habits, traditions and culture seeps far and deep into the psyche of a nation.

 

I overheard some very young kids on their way to school the other morning checking in with their friends as to the veracity of their proposed sacrifice.  They were sizing each other up and making running adjustments to their own vows and I believe I could hear cogs turning as one of them worked out that it was ok to ‘give up’ crisps but continue with a well known energy drink and what seemed like a very complex but not all together concrete junk food plan until Easter Sunday.  How very innocent it all seems and how very like children us sensible adults are.

 

“We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.”
Advent, Patrick Kavanagh

I am quite fascinated with abstinence and fasting.  The opening lines of Kavanagh’s poem Advent has for decades resonated with a personal desire to simplify and live a more mindful life.  It is no accident that most religions in the world use abstinence in some form or other as a method of communicating their ideology. It is highly effective. Without the distraction of or the fleeting and false comfort of a large doughnut or glass of wine, we may actually begin to tune in to ourselves – our real selves and just be, rather than do.  We can begin to really listen to ourselves and check-in and in so doing, relieve ourselves from the constant clamour and expectations which rain down on us like a never-ending shower.

 

The subject of abstinence is highly evocative.  Many, including myself for various reasons take care to separate their fast and abstinence from that of the traditions of the Christian and other religions.  Blind faith combined with fasting and abstaining does not, I believe serve the humanity of the individual and may well leave us as feeling powerless and vulnerable.  Signs of a similar tension and unease are currently being played out by the controversy over the alcohol giant, Diageo funding the ‘Stop Out-of-Control Drinking’ campaign and those at ‘Ireland Unlocked’ who believe that the drinks industry has no business telling us how much or how little we drink’.  I welcome that many respected people on both sides are daring to look at the subject of alcohol abuse in Ireland as this raises awareness and subsequently creates solutions.  I suspect a rational and valid fear or anxiety around ‘the element of control’ is present and I believe that this is a healthy discussion and debate – with great dynamic depth.  The Ireland Unlocked campaign are asking ‘why’ and ‘who’ – and these questions are both vital, necessary, honest and healthy in order to introduce an element of healing with real and lasting societal change in Ireland.

 

Some years ago, in a conversation not totally unlike the aforementioned children’s discussion on the way to school, a friend of mine was speaking about ‘giving up a particular brand of biscuits’ for lent.  She was an adult at the time and she was speaking with great conviction and sincerity.  I listened.  She then stopped mid-sentence and started to crease with laughter.  I think it dawned on her that perhaps working out the ‘why’ she was giving up her favourite snack was more important than the ‘what’ or the ‘which’.

 

We will never really get to know ourselves if we don’t attempt to abstain from a substance or behaviour.

 

Only ourselves can work out what substance (biscuits, coffee, heroin, alcohol, hash, marshmallows) or what behaviour (overeating, gambling, pornography), if removed from our life will assist us most in becoming centred and whole.  In Buddhist Vipassanna meditation, the term ‘annicha’ is used to remind us of impermanence and that whatever ‘craving’ we are experiencing following the loss of a behaviour or substance from our system – will pass.  However, we will only experience this warm and healing consolation if we actually sustain our fast and stay with the challenge.

 

Good ideas are usually simple ones.  Good ideas last the test of time.  Fasting and abstinence may sound ‘old hat’ because they are… they are approaches as old as the hills.  However, own your fast, own and take responsibility for your choice.  Make sure it serves you well and that the reasons ‘why’ you are committing are clear to you.  Fasting and abstinence may be used to ‘self-punish’.  Questions and reflections are key.  Are you being punitive with yourself?  Why are you being punitive with yourself?  What are you really feeling when you are experiencing a craving? Who are you doing this for?  Is somebody expecting you to fast or abstain?  I know…far more questions than answers.

 

This abstinence stuff, although at times may seem like a nostalgic nod to an Ireland of the past with black tea without sugar and a meatless 40 days – is a powerful way to find inner peace and develop loving kindness towards ourselves and others.

 

So no matter what you ‘give up’ take some time to work out ‘why’.  The results may astonish you.

 

For further counselling psychotherapeutic support and help with issues around addictive behaviour and recovery, click here.

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blessington

Green in the Blue

Green Spaces in Dublin’s City Centre

We have some wonderful city centre parks in Dublin.  St Stephens Green, St Patricks Park, The Iveagh Gardens, Merrion Square, Mountjoy Square and a few other hidden green gems.  We are fortunate beyond belief to have the vast expanse that is the Phoenix Park allowing nature to wander right up to the Liffey quays.  These places of green beauty are a credit to the forward thinking minds that conceived them as protected pockets of urban breathing space, but also to the many knowledgeable men and women who tend and work directly and lovingly in preserving and maintaining such enjoyable public spaces.

 

However, when it comes to having local parks and green areas in which to enjoy, there are highly populated entire communities in Dublin’s city centre which are poorly served and have been desperately ignored by the local authorities – arguably for centuries.  Parks or ‘green lungs’ in a city are not a luxury, they are a holistic necessity for a healthy population.  It could be said that areas such as Dublin 8 lost out over the centuries in the ‘municipal park lottery’ for a combination of historical, industrial or indeed socio-economic reasons. Whatever the reasons, we are where we are, and swathes of Dublin lack the necessary reviving green of grass and rustle of trees, where local kids can play outdoors (unplugged) and off the streets.

 

Dublin, has it’s commuters, pressured executives, traffic pollution, delivery drivers, busy people distracted by the incessant frivolous chattering and demands from social media, in-your-face billboard, bus or bus stop advertising, or the frenzy of pale and drawn multi-tasking parents dropping off and collecting – yeah it’s all go in any town or city. These days however, due to our over usage and dependence on communication technology, we can often feel every bit as distracted and sapped of energy in the countryside.  And yet, it all amounts to people who are just doing the best they can to complete their daily tasks and get safely to the end of their day.  But it can sometimes feel like an empty, tiring and imprisoning day, that leaves little time or energy for real and meaningful living.

 

But are things changing?

 

The announcement of recently proposed parks at Bridgefoot Street and Cork Street are to be welcomed and the Granby ‘pop-up-park’ at Dorset Street raised our awareness of what is possible when imagination is fused with creative thought and energy.  The construction of a geodesic dome incorporating a hydroponic garden on Reuben Street in ‘Flanagan’s Field’ is particularly inspirational and a mini-green belt or ‘linear effort’ on North King Street (near the Bolton Street end) is a welcome addition to what was a previously a poor vista for residents or any passers-by.

 

The welcome 'Linear' Green space on Dublin's North King Street

The welcome ‘Linear’ Green space on Dublin’s North King Street

 

 

The melding of art and compost at the community garden in the National College for Art and Design on their Thomas Street campus, is producing not alone amazing organic food, but encouraging traditionally separated elements within the diverse local community to get to know each other.  Every Tuesday morning I don my ‘urban farming boots’ and weed, chat, grow food and create a space and community with people I would never ordinarily get to socialise with over cups of strong hot tea.

 

Any parcel of nature in a city helps people to mingle as a community, improve their health and fosters resilience amongst the local inhabitants.  We as citizens, have a responsibility to help imagine and insist how our parks and corners of urban nature could be improved and protected.  As land and property prices are rising again, I fear that speculative landowners in the city centre will hold on to their vacant crumbling lots in the hope of a financial killing and sadly for another generation the men, women and children who live and work in the inner city, will gaze out on and walk by the miserable unkempt hoardings identifying unused land and ruinous buildings.

 

Imagine increasing the number of trees in Dublin’s city centre by ten or twenty thousand!  Too ambitious?  The city of Chicago in America has increased the number of trees in its city by well over three hundred thousand since 1989 – an amazing gargantuan greening feat.  It’s great to see that Dublin City Council encourages and supports the greening of otherwise irregular and unattractive sites and the small but effective linear plantation along North King Street is particularly worthy of note and praise to all concerned.

 

It is possible to find nature in Dublin’s inner city where locals and visitors can have relaxing strolls whilst enjoying the birds singing in the trees, indigenous plants and wildflowers growing, sustaining an inner city butterfly and bee population.  Nature is all around us – but I admit, it can be a challenge to experience and enjoy the leafy refreshing greenness of a tree or the swaying rustle of tall grass amongst all the noise, the concrete and brick.  Illegal dumping and vandalism detracts further from our desire to experience the healing effects of nature.  Due to the heartbreaking Homeless crises in the city, parks may often provide a home to many and I do not believe that this should be the function of a city park.  It is our responsibility as a society to take better care of those that need our support.

 

The amazing geodesic dome in Flanagan's Field Community Garden

The amazing geodesic dome in Flanagan’s Field Community Garden

 

 

The optimist in me (albeit the sometimes deluded and highly ideological optimist), holds out for the day when city officials and inner city landowners meet together and create hundreds of ‘mini parks’ all over town.  Vacant sites which will provide sanctuary for a couple of Irish Oak trees, some indigenous shrubs and plants and perhaps a bench to sit on.  Each community gets involved in the planning, sowing and managing of their mini park.  I had the great luck, whilst out for a walk to happen upon the inauguration of such a park recently at the junction of Arran Street and Mary’s Abbey, where an inspiring attempt to encourage nature to flourish in a disused vacant site, has resulted in a community garden which allows passengers on the red line Luas to rest their eyes on an attractive pocket of inner city green.  The people involved in such ecological attempts are the citizens of Dublin whose actions impress me most.  People, who with little connection or resources prove that local creative thought in communities can achieve great things.

 

Undeterred by the confines of time or space the successful annual Park(ing) Day Dublin results in “elevating and celebrating public space” by creating ‘parklets’ on city centre parking spaces.   However, if ‘parklets’ or ‘mini parks’ sound a bit ‘too mini’ to you – remember the old adage about lighting a candle rather than cursing darkness.  Nature, even the double-deck bus battered, traffic and pollution weary tree outside my window, can encourage quite compassionate mindfulness and healing of the self.

 

There are a number of vacant sites in my neighbourhood – some have been vacant for decades.  Although I fully accept that land and property owners have the right within the law to develop their property, do we really need more tanning salons, phone shops or nail bars? When I think of the word ‘develop’ I wonder could we as neighbours in dear old Dublin town begin to ‘develop’ mini parks.

 

Picture it, in a few short years we could pride ourselves on our unique and intriguing lush reviving local pockets of inner city nature.

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