Mark [0:00] Thank you for coming in for a conversation regarding the heart of connection. I’m your host, Mark Randall. Thank you for taking the time and I really appreciate you for coming in to have a conversation. By way of introduction, could you give a little bit of a brief story about yourself?
Rhiannon [0:20] Thank you for having me. I have two young children, one beautiful loving husband and I have been working in Foster care for the last 10 years. Recently in my maternity leave, I went back to university and I have almost completed my Masters in child play therapy. That is my journey at the moment. This is where I am sitting as it is all kind of interlinked. Having children of my own young children, and doing this course has been quite valuable. There are some powerful learnings throughout the whole of my life.
Mark [1:03] What sparked the interesting child play therapy as a Masters?
Rhiannon [1:09] I was in a role in therapeutic foster care. It was around providing a system that could help a family around their children. I was in contact with the parents and the children and my role was to assist the parent and the child to improve their attachment and to deepen their relationship. I was doing things within the context of this attachment and realized this is interesting. I found I needed to something a bit different. The role wasn’t satisfying me and I had a need to do something different. When I went on maternity leave, I thought, or maybe it’s time to start exploring this need. I wonder whether I would feel different after being a parent and returning into the foster care realm. I wondered whether that would have a different impact on me emotionally. The hours are really quite tricky and did not want to be leaving my children for long periods in the day. I wanted a role that fitted my lifestyle and also fitted this burning desire, to fulfill something in me that I wanted to do within my career.
Disconnection Impact on Children
Mark [2:37] Great, when you’re talking about in the foster care I would imagine what you’re experiencing is abandonment issues for the children. I wonder what impact does that have on their connections?
Rhiannon [2:57] I’ve seen the varied amount of responses. One is being chaos. So when the parent and the child are together it is chaos. This is not just emotionally but also physical. This is represented by them moving around the room or trying to escape the room. There is inner sadness because the children realize how much they miss their parents. This is so when they have access with them when they’re actually being with them. Sometimes there is conflict because sometimes it’s really difficult for kids to understand why they can’t be with their parents. There is just beautiful love happening. That beautiful connection a really connected time. I feel like that needs to be developed quickly and there is a lot more than we could be doing in the system to assist. Start this off quickly by developing in that one hour or two hours. This needs to be started off quick, to really get the benefit. There is a need for a little encouragement to just to find their way, which is hard to do in an hour. When I say that beautiful connection, I try to do something to try and help it along a little bit.
Mark [4:13] When you say that connection, what does it do for you?
Rhiannon [4:16] For me it does lots of things. When I see the conflict and the chaos, I clearly experience a response from that as well. I start to feel that way too and once I’m starting to feel that way, I think ‘if this is how I am feeling,’ how is the child feeling? When I’m seeing the loving and the dance between the child and the parent it’s really beautiful. It actually feels really strange being in the room with them. I am like an intruder and I actually shouldn’t be here. At the same time, beautiful to watch and you gain so much information about the family environment in those contacts that I think is powerful and important.
Mark [5:01] When you think of the Heart of Connection to Self, Others and All That Is, what comes to your mind?
Connecting To Me though Play Therapy
Rhiannon [5:08] It’s funny, I was actually thinking about that last few days. For me, sounds of it, I’m just thinking about myself. There was a moment in time last year during my placement and I was working with a child and I felt I was doing play therapy with them is one-on-one child directive play therapy. I felt this need to play myself. I wanted to do that or do this within the session. It was really strange as I’ve not had that feeling before. When I spoke with my supervisor, she said, maybe that’s because you’re starting to realize that there is another inner need for you to do some sort of creative therapies for yourself. I thought that is really interesting. Soon after that, we had a like a big chat about, being held. To have a lived experience of what that feeling like, to be actually be held by someone. Then there is the feeling of holding someone. When you’ve had that feeling of being held, it’s easier to know when you’re holding someone. That feeling it’s such an unconscious feeling and is really hard to put into words. The experience is magical and I feel like it’s like a dance and it’s really powerful. She said, “Have you ever had that experience of being held” and I said, “I’m not really sure – that sounds really weird that I don’t really know that. The more I reflected on it, the more I think yes, I’m held in so many ways within my life with my husband, he holds me like my friends, my family all hold me and I think it’s about really tapping and understanding how that feels and what how it happens. Is really important. When I experienced holding a child in the therapy session, it was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced in my life. It resonated with me and I realized how many of those relationships around me that I’m doing the holding or being held. Like that, those feelings really made me recognize and reflect on my relationships in my everyday life.
Embodying My Energy of Being Held
Mark [7:29] When you talk to that being held, it sounds to me it’s like an energetic held. Whereabouts in your body do you experience that being held?
Rhiannon [7:40] I think it’s definitely not in my head. It is more around my stomach and my tummy and around my chest, I feel. It is a really hard thing to explain. It is definitely not a conscious thing, it’s a feeling, and it’s an emotion. I think it’s like when you’re in a session with a child and it goes so quick. You ask yourself where did that time ever go? We were just so engrossed in one another’s time and relationship and company that it just felt so important.
Mark [8:22] So connected?
Rhiannon [8:23] Yes, so connected yes.
Being Held Is Like Being Wrapped Up In Love
Mark [8:26] Is that connection like a ‘vail,’ or a ‘hammock’ safety underneath? It is hard to put into words?
Rhiannon [8:37] I feel like it’s more like being wrapped. Does that make any sense? Like being wrapped by something.
Mark [8:45] I think in these conversations, it doesn’t have to make sense. I wonder whether that sort of our analytical intellectual sense. The logic, analytically – it’s one plus one logical, our rationality. Whereas in those conversations, I wonder whether it’s a bit beyond that? It is what it is, and their best descriptors we’ve got for it. When you’re in that connection, what happens to you?
Becoming Intuitively Aware
Rhiannon [9:08] I’m really not very aware of myself at all. I just do what feels right. I don’t try to overthink anything, I try to stay not in the mind, I just try to be. I just tried to be I suppose. I follow the lead of the child or my child, or my husband or my friends or family. And listen. I think listening is really important. It not just listening to the word, it’s listening to the body, the face. Also the content, the actual choice of the word is in a way, but not that being a conscious thought. If that makes any sense.
Mark [9:50] It does it become intuitive?
Rhiannon [9:51] I think. So it’s definitely grown with me over time. It is definitely something I was doing that I was not fully aware of. As I have become more reflective in my practice and in myself. The course has not just been education, but it’s also opened up a whole world of, how I look at relationships and others. I have learned how I relate to people. This includes how people relate to me, but also what I do in relationships both the positive and as well sometimes the difficult for others.
Mark [10:30] How important is the connection in those relationships?
Loving Connections are Vital
Rhiannon [10:34] The most important thing. If you’re not experiencing a connection, I think things are missed. The important things that are missed about a person. Like how they’re feelings, their thoughts, or even small things about their desires as well. However, I also feel it’s a physical thing as well. It is about you don’t need to be sitting on top of someone or it can be across a room. It is a very magical experience but a difficult thing to explain.
Mark [11:19] When it’s across the room, I’m wondering whether it’s more energetic across a room?
Rhiannon [11:23] Yeah it is. I feel it doesn’t have to be words or talking. It can be about eye contact or mirroring what the other person’s doing. There is a showing that you are present and listening to them. Presence, I think is a massive and important part of being connected.
Mark [11:48] When you’re being present, do you need to be present at a heart level as well as a mental level?
Rhiannon [11:56] Heart for me. Definitely not mind. Heart.
Mark [12:00] When you’re connected at the Heart what happens to your mind?
Rhiannon [12:06] I try not to overthink things. I just tried to go with whatever’s happening. I try not to give advice. I try not to say anything. I just listening and think listening is really hard. (Laughter) Especially for me, because I like to talk. Listening can be a really difficult skill. I think listening, but listening in a way that’s not necessarily problem-solving, or any of that cognitive functioning. Listening in an open way, e.g., I understand you and I am listening.
Mark [12:45] Hearing you?
Rhiannon [12:46] I’m hearing you. Yes. That’s right.
The Process of Disconnection
Mark [12:49] What happens when you experience disconnection?
Rhiannon [12:55] I’m so much more aware of that now. I probably hadn’t been prior to my course. Even my own personal therapy around it. In my area of being a Social Worker for 10 years, it can take a personal toll. I bought some, personal therapy to gain some more insight and gather different strategies. I felt like the disconnection when I’m overwhelmed, or thinking too hard, or problem-solving, or even just the stress of everyday life stress can make you disconnect. I definitely notice it so much more with my children and my husband and the children I see, more than anyone else.
Mark [13:56] What do you notice in the disconnection, what do you observe?
Rhiannon [14:02] For me, I feel like I don’t really know you right now. That’s for me, how it feels like. Or I feel very distant from you physically and emotionally. My husband spends time at work and some days I don’t see him much at all. I feel like, I miss you. I feel like we haven’t had our time together which creates a bit of a disconnection, because we haven’t been around one another. I think talking about that is important and saying how you’re feeling important about that.
Disconnection Back to the Mind
Mark [14:41] I am just curious. When you disconnect do have a sense of where you go do you go somewhere in your body to protect yourself in disconnect?
Rhiannon [14:49] Mind?
Mark [14:50] You go into your mind.
Rhiannon [14:52] Yeah.
Mark [14:52] And then do you then experience your mind working overtime?
Rhiannon [14:56] Yeah, definitely. Yeah, so I’ll think about that tomorrow, next week, next year. What’s for dinner yep.
Strategies to Reconnect
Mark [15:05] What’s your strategy on reconnecting back to yourself?
Rhiannon [15:13] I like, believe it or not, I like to be in a quiet space. I am a very sensory person. I find lights, loud noises, all those sorts of things are distracting for me. I feel like I need to reconnect and calm down a little bit with my body. I often notice that my shoulders and my neck and gritting my teeth a lot. I then start to realize that I’ve got some tension there. With this realization I try to be somewhere or go somewhere that helps my body relax. It’s about relaxing my body more so than anything.
From Body to Heart
Mark [15:56] When you reconnect, by coming back into your body, do you come back into your heart?
Rhiannon [16:02] Not initially, it starts with the body. I suppose it towards the end when I have reconnected and I feel it in my heart, I know that I’m back and grounded again.
Mark [16:11] Does the heart soften then when you’ve reconnected?
Heart Softens in Connections
Rhiannon [16:13] Yeah. Oh, yeah, because I’m already like up here (in my mind) and probably not being the most empathetic in my responses to my outside world. So I feel like when I start to again, feel how others could be feeling then that’s when I’m back.
Mark [16:38] You use the term before, being held. When your heart softens are you doing the holding of your Heart?
Rhiannon [16:46] Both.
Mark [16:48] What a beautiful place to be in.
Rhiannon [16:49] Yes.
Mark [16:51] How do you share that with others?
Learning To Be Reflective
Rhiannon [16:54] It’s complicated because I feel some people perhaps a lack of understanding about those feelings and what it feels like. Once you feel it, you get it. So I feel some people are not necessarily in touch with how that feels, or what it’s like. They may not be so reflective and its harder for them to understand.
Mark [17:22] How do we help them become more reflective?
Rhiannon [17:25] Good question. I’m not actually sure. I don’t know.
Mark [17:32] Is that necessary that people perhaps do need to become a little bit more reflective as a society and as a culture?
Rhiannon [17:38] Oh, definitely. I think being in touch with your physical and emotional connections and energies and relationships is paramount to physical and mental well-being. Without that, our connection when I am disconnected, there’s clearly something happening for me. It is then something I need to work through. So I wonder for others, if it is something they feel similar to in their own life about that, and the energy and the powerfulness and the experience is so calming, I feel it’s incredibly important for everyone.
Mark [18:19] When you talk about what you look really centered. It looked like you were really in there. What happens to our mental health when we’re in that space when we are really clear?
Centered Beyond Mental Health
Rhiannon [18:29] There’s clarity and there are resilience and a sense that everything’s gonna be okay.
Mark Randall [18:40] So the mental health is more up in the mind?
Rhiannon [18:43] Well,
Mark [18:45] Is our Mental Health influenced by our emotional well-being?
Rhiannon [18:47] I think it is all interrelated for me? The body influences the mind, and the mind influences the body.
Mark [18:57] It is softening the Heart is one of the keys for you? When it soft it’s open and it’s radiating? What’s it radiating?
Rhiannon [19:12] I hope to understand.
Love Is A Powerful Space
Mark [19:14] What about love?
Rhiannon [19:15] Oh, yes. Love, I’m a loved-up person. I like to give lots of love, so love definitely. This might sound corny but just feeling that you’re there for someone or feeling that I’m here. We don’t have to say that here you just feel that I am here for you.
Mark [19:40] A knowing.
Rhiannon [19:41] A knowing yep.
Mark [19:42] Beyond words, it’s just that knowing?
Can you talk about that connection to others with that knowledge?
Rhiannon [19:54] I think, if you search for it, sometimes if you try, or try to elicit it, like being forced is sometimes bit unnatural. I try not to do that. I just try to just to go with things and just to be. It’s weird like when I’m in it now. I’m here. It is hard and I don’t even sometimes know how I got there. It’s just that we’re here. I think the best way is just to be. Listen, be open and really try to put own things aside and can truly be with that person.
Having Conversations About Our Connections
Mark [20:39] When you just connect and just be with a person, do you have conversations sometimes with that other person about the connection? Like it might be couple close girlfriends are good friends, where you both resonate at the same time and ah-ha moment, we’ve got it here.
Rhiannon [21:02] So it depends on the friend I think. It depends on the person and if they are a person that is really open to exploring those feelings and is in tune with those feelings, I would definitely say, wow “are you feeling what I’m feeling like, this is really cool.” If it’s someone that’s not really, I would be very subtle about that. I really feel, you know, that I could chat the other day was like, really cool. Like, it was really fantastic and just pointing that out later. I feel like upon reflection, this is definitely in my case, two things happen after that interaction or that experience that can lead to connection or disconnection, even after the person’s ongoing. The reflection on that time can then produce other feelings. I think just checking in and chatting after that is also very important as well to obviously show respect to the connection or to say, I felt you felt, even know if we’re not really talking about it.
Deepening My Connection to Peace & Calmness
Mark [22:21] Not sure how to word this, and suggesting we are not having enough conversations that we have, very often. It is starting to happen a lot more. The conversation around, how did that happen? What was that like? It was really powerful. Do you notice it goes deeper than that for you? To when you’re really in there, go beyond yourself and go to the, ‘All That Is’?
Rhiannon [22:52] I’d have to say not as much as I would like it to. I feel like just where I am in terms of my life and my own chaos that sometimes it has does not allow me to be in that place. It is definitely something I’m not open to or not striving towards. It’s definitely an area that for me, I want to explore further.
Mark [23:19] When you do experience it. What do you notice?
Rhiannon [23:22] Peace. Calmness.
Mark [23:29] What happens to the sense of self when you’re in that peace?
A Deeper Acceptance of Self
Rhiannon [23:33] I’m very accepting and comfortable with myself. There’s not that negative, I should have done it this way should have done that. It is what it is.
Mark [23:52] So the mind quietens down?
Rhiannon [23:53] Yep.
Mark [23:55] Is there no mind at that time?
Rhiannon [24:01] Still think there is a mind but I think it’s very quiet.
My Mind Becomes Very Quiet
Mark [24:04] Sort of a momentary no mind. That’s the practice of meditation to silence the mind that is still there but it is quite.
Rhiannon [24:15] A lightness.
Mark [24:16] A lightness. Does the sense of self dissolve in that lightness?
Rhiannon [24:23] I don’t think so. I think it’s more of energy rather than a thing.
Mark [24:29] Do you want to (laughter)….
Rhiannon [24:32] I knew you were going to ask me that. No, I can’t. It’s a feeling it – no I can’t. It’s special. It’s an energy.
Mark [24:45] Is it lighting up in you now? Conversation? Yeah,
Rhiannon [24:48] Yeah, probably right here (laughter).
Mark [24:53] How much energy is there? When you’re in there how much energy is there?
Rhiannon [24:57] It depends. It can be quite dull or it can be very big. Sometimes overwhelming because it’s big. It is simmering away there now.
Can we Channel this Energy
Mark [25:10] Can you channel it?
Rhiannon [25:13] No, not always. Sometimes.
Mark [25:17] If you were able to channel it, where would you need to channel it inside your body? Where would where would you like to channel it to? If you could channel it?
Rhiannon [25:30] I think where it is at the moment is fine. It feels nice, feels warm. I don’t think I’d put it anywhere else. I think there is more I feel like I’d like to do with my mind to assist in quietening it. So I feel like I’m at peace, where how it is for the moment, but there’s more there.
Heart & Mind Harmony
Mark [25:56] When you have that space that you’ve just talked about and shared with me. Do you sometimes notice that when that energy is in your body – that your body and mind or your heart and mind are fighting each other?
Rhiannon [26:11] Yes. It’s like, how do you even like put words into what it is. I feel like I’m losing my words right now. It is really hard to be cognitive about it. It is hard to move back and forth, I feel between both because it’s tricky.
Mark [26:32] It is tricky. Is it an unconscious thing? It’s beyond words. It’s that felt sense. It’s got an energy to it. Sometimes when we’ve got that energy there is a real glow there. A beautiful glow, a beautiful peace. Imagined sharing that. Imagine the more work we do as human beings coming into that. I’m wondering, what do you think would happen to Mother Earth if we were able to harness more of that within ourselves?
Connection Deepens Our Relationships to Mother Earth’s Well-being
Rhiannon [27:12] I think our relationships would deepen with not just one another in a purely human sense. I also think with our world as a whole, our planet, our environment, everything around us, I think would be much better off in terms of well-being if we were more connected within our relationships. And we all had that feeling, I think it’s about noticing it. Some people may experience it but may not notice it perhaps.
Mark [27:52] Sometimes in my work with men to help them connect to it. I have to use the ‘Aha’ moments. The beautiful sunset or sunrise. It is those ‘Aha’. This is the symbolism that helps them get there. The other one is the use of the word peace. Do you think peace? Of course, we think peace but peace is a felt sense.
Finding Our Inner Peace
Rhiannon [28:23] Yeah, inner peace.
Mark [28:25] Inner peace we feel, the body resonates. It’s a felt peace and relaxes in it. I’m wondering when we’re in that space, we’re more connected to our self?
Rhiannon [28:39] I completely agree, completely agree. I think there’s a danger with going too much into the mind. I think it’s about a real balance between both. To be aware, of what’s happening, but also not to overthink it at all.
Mark [29:04] What happens when you overthink it?
Overthinking Loses Our Inner Peace
Rhiannon [29:05] You lose it.
Mark [29:08] Disconnect from it and go back up into the mind, out of the body?
Rhiannon [29:14] It would be hard to be in that state all the time. To not to be in the mind sometimes because you know, there are times when we need to use it. It would be hard but it’s when you in this space of peace, it’s very fulfilling and calming.
Mark [29:37] How much self-care is in your body?
Rhiannon [29:43] I feel like self-care is probably one of the biggest things that impact on that feeling. Probably when I’m not being less and care about my own self-care. I experience more disconnections. When you have a young family and things are busy and you’re not taking that time out because it’s chaos, literally – like a pirate ship sometimes. That you lose that – I am even losing it – now going back into the mind thinking about it. I think you lose that ability to connect with it yourself in those times.
Mark [30:37] I was sort of watching your energy, your head went down. I wonder if, is there a practice as we do that we recognize it. We can then come back to the peace and self-care is within that peace and how do we carry, how do we work at carrying that peace and just being aware, I’m back up in my head – stop, breath, reconnect. I know it sounds simple but with practice, I wonder if it does become simple?
Rhiannon [31:13] For me it’s that the breathing because I’ll tend to take a shorter breath and talk really quickly and become quiet heightened in my responses. When I am concentrating more on my breathing I feel like it’s easier for me to come and enter that place a lot more.
Tactile & Sensory Nature of Play Therapy
Mark [31:29] I imagine play therapy would be a wonderful forum for your mind to slow down because in play therapy it is working with the sand. It is tactile and sensory.
Rhiannon [31:46] Sometimes it’s quiet and sometimes it’s loud.
Mark [31:50] Are there any messages that you have for others? Any messages for young women growing up about the heart of connection to self, others, and ‘All That Is.’
Let’s All Do Some Therapy for Self-Growth
Rhiannon [32:06] I really think doing some personal therapy, regardless if you feel that you need it or not. Use someone to assist you in making those connections to yourself is really important. I feel like therapies are like eating well or is like going to the gym. It is therapy for the mind which helps the mind stay peaceful sometimes. It can also create some conflicts but I think it’s about that being self-aware. I know it’s one of those corny terms about being self-aware of myself and my feelings. It is about recognizing for you and reflecting on how things feel in those moments. Like today how you’ve described those, what does it feel like? We don’t really stop to think about what things feel like sometimes and I think in spaces gives rise to those opportunities.
Mark [33:04] It’s wonderful to be able to speak and have this conversation with a fellow social worker. This wasn’t taught in my Social Work degree.
Change to the Social Work Curriculum
Rhiannon [33:13] Nor in mine. I had to go and find it.
Mark [33:18] It would be lovely to sort of see stuff like this reintroduce back into the social work degree. To be able to give us as clinicians as we’re leaving that the University world to go into the practice world. To have a little bit of insight into this before we get out.
Rhiannon thank you so much for the lovely conversation. It was lovely to connect with you and watch processing just in this brief conversation. It was beautiful to watch the journey here. Thank you very much.
Thank you for your contribution to the Facebook community group too. It is lovely and the whole purpose of that is to provide a community of like-minded people to help you put stuff out there. To hopefully deepen our connections to ourselves and I appreciate that. Thank you.