Walk Inniú | Walk and Talk
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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Walk and Talk Tag

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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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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Green Week 2015 Nature – our health, our wealth

Introduction to Ecotherapy and Ecopsychology Event at the Phoenix Park

Sunday the 7th of June 2015 – Introduction to Ecotherapy and Ecopsychology Event at the Phoenix Park, Dublin as part of EU Green Week; ‘Nature – Our Health, Our Wealth’.

As part of the European Commission’s Green Week 2015, we are delighted to host a welcoming and informative event in the Phoenix Park Dublin. Who better to introduce and advocate for Ecotherapy and Ecopsychology for the aptly named ‘Nature – Our Health, Our Wealth’ Europe wide celebration of our natural environment, than Walk Inniú?

The event is free to all and will include a short address and introduction to Ecotherapy and Ecopsychology at 2.00pm, 3.00pm and 4.00pm with time for discussion and collaboration between each session. Drop over to us, bring the kids if you wish and let’s all celebrate our wonderful city park for Green Week.

To get your free event welcome pack, with location details etc. just send your name and email address to info@walkinniu.ie

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abbeyleix bog project

David Staunton co-hosting Rose of Tralee Contestant visit

On the 28th of May 2015 – David Staunton, (Ecotherapy Hedge School) is to co-host Rose of Tralee Contestant visit to the Abbeyleix Bog Project in Co Laois.

abbeyleix bog project

The pale moon was rising above the green mountains…..

Who would have guessed but beautiful roses can be found in the Abbeyleix Bog Project in Co Laois? To be clear, they are the regional Rose of Tralee contestants and they can be found on the 28th of May, 2015 when yours truly was invited to co-host their ‘perambulation’ through the wonderful Abbeyleix Bog Project.

I am looking forward to meeting the Roses and using the opportunity to briefly speak about my favourite topic, that’s right – Ecotherapy. As the event coincides with the European Commission – Green Week, I want to remind those present about the health benefits of walking and what it can do for body and soul. I intend to be around the Bog for most of that day and hope to get a chance to speak to as many people as I can. Check out this http://walkinniu.ie/ website or http://www.abbeyleixbog.ie/home for further updates.

Finally, it occurred to me that at no point of my professional training and experience was I trained and prepared for ‘accompanying Rose of Tralee contestants through a bog’ – I do my best and I love my work.

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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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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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