Happy New Year?

This time last year I had not even heard the word coronavirus before. 2020 has been a strange year, at times frustrating, scary, and boring. It has also been a year where the end to the current situation does not appear to be in sight. Even now, with a vaccine being rolled out, it can feel like we are still very much in the tunnel and yet to experience the light at the end of it.

Some simple things have helped me during the last year, they may not seem like much at first glance, but I invite you to try them all the same when you are having a difficult day.

Breathing: One of the first things to suffer when we are anxious or under stress is our breathing. How many times have you heard the expression ‘Take a deep breath and count to ten’? Breathing allows our body to take in some much needed oxygen, which in turn helps us think more clearly. There is a reason so many mindfulness meditations ‘follow the breath’. Try it for yourself and notice the difference.

To Do List: The office, or a place of work, provides a focus where we can apply our attention without distraction. The same is not always true for those of use who are fortunate enough to work from home. Human beings have become masters of distraction. We have countless books, television shows, films and video games to entertain us. And then there are more necessary distractions such as housework, cooking, and attending to family members and dependents. Most people are naturally goal driven and I am no different. Simply making a list of achievable goals and ticking that box once it’s done helps focus the mind and gives a sense of achievement afterwards.

Unplug: While staying connected and keeping abreast of current events is necessary during a time of crisis, so is the need to unplug. Many people are venting their fear, anger and frustration online through social media. You can choose how much of that you wish to consume. Staying in contact with friends via small groups (such as Whatsapp and Telegram) can be preferable to navigating the seething waves of Twitter and Facebook.

Gratitude: It may sound strange to list gratitude during a time of crisis, but I believe that keeping sight of the things we are grateful for keeps us grounded. Why not make a list of five things you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep? These can be as simple as, ‘I have a roof over my head’ or ‘Dinner was particularly good tonight’. You might notice you are grateful for a telephone conversation or video call, a much needed shopping delivery, or that you are in good health and still alive. Focusing on what we have can provide a light in the oppressive gloom of an ongoing crisis.

Connection: Are you the person who always checks in on your friends? Then you already know the value of connection. I often tell my clients that ‘human beings are social beings’. Some people tell themselves that they don’t want to bother anyone else or take up their time. This leads to isolation, and it’s well documented just how unhealthy isolation is for people. Why not send five text messages to friends to let them know you are thinking of them? Even if only one of them replies you will be more connected than before. 

Why not drop me a line if you’re having a difficult time and need support.

Why The Buddha?

It was commented on that I use Buddhist imagery on both my blog and my business cards, and that this might put off potential clients. I confess, I’d not thought of this before but can see that some people of other faiths may find it off putting. I myself can’t claim to be Buddhist, so why the imagery?


Back in 2010 I was going through a difficult period and was resolved to do something about it. At the time I was able to find a Zen Buddhist group that would meet to meditate on Saturday afternoons. This became a fixture of my week, a regular place and time that I was able to spend some time on myself. In a way, meditation became my counselling  – it was a place to slow down, reflect, and reconnect with myself at a deeper level.

These days I struggle to make meditation a regular part of my life but I use guided meditation in counselling sessions with my clients. Even five minutes of sitting quietly and focusing on the breath can help centre one’s self enormously. My point is that meditation has come to be seen as something that is tied to Buddhism and yet it doesn’t have to be. We live in a health conscious age where people think nothing of going to the gym two or three times a week. If we can give three hours a week to our bodies why don’t we do the same for our minds?

Now when I see a buddha it reminds me of a time when I was able to spend time by myself, for myself, and come through a dark time and become a happier more productive person. Counselling, like meditation, is open to all: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheists, agnostics, and Buddhists, of course.