In August of 2020, as I went through the wild unpredictable emotional eruptions that bubbled up with the withdrawals of a marijuana and sex addiction, I told my psychologist that what I needed was to increase my meditation and not begin medication.
In December of 2020, with withdrawal symptoms out of my system, I was blessed to attend the Quest for Life Foundations’ 5-day program in Bundanoon, located in the Southern Highlands, NSW. The program was aptly named Healing Your Life. Quest’s programs and workshops encourage and support people with tools to create emotional resilience, healing, and peace.
During my time at Quest, on the peaceful walk between my cottage accommodation and the main building, I came across a garden statue that caught my eye. I passed the statue every morning on the way to morning yoga, at lunch break and every evening on return to my cottage. On my second day I stopped and felt the need to speak with the statue, crazy as it may seem I felt I just could not walk by with only a smile as I passed him, it was not enough.
Have you ever had that moment where something in you just says “STOP”? Well it was one of those moments, so I just had to stop and say a few words,
“good morning”, “you look so peaceful”, “you soften my heart” and even “ahhh” just a long sigh,
I had a connection to the statue I could not explain. I referred to him as “my little monk man”.
At the end of the week, I shared with the group my unusual but gentle connection I had made with this cheeky and calm looking “monk man” as I had named him. I was told his name was Saint Fiacre and that he was gifted to the garden by the program founder’s mother, Rae. I later discovered that Saint Fiacre was the patron saint of vegetable gardeners and sexual illness and known for his healing with herbs. I thought this was just incredibly synchronistic, as I had spent the year creating my first vegetable garden to help recover from clinical burnout and sex addiction and later in the year marijuana (for the second time in my life).
Saint Fiacre: Patron saint of vegetable gardeners and sexual illness
The week I spent at Quest gave me, not only my confidence back, but a validation that the emotions, self-doubt, and behaviours I had been feeling and experiencing were understandable and accepted, and that a way forward was possible. Connecting with Saint Fiacre gave me a sense of peace that I was able to carry with me throughout the days and well into my return home.
Finding my inner peace again was my goal for attending the program and I found it not only through the work of the program but through finding something to give me focus enough to stop, breathe, listen to my heart and voice how I felt. This is something that I have not always done for myself. Living with emotional dysregulation and relying on drugs or alcohol for half of my life to stay in a state of calm (or what I thought was a state of calm), made it terribly difficult to just stop and breathe.
At Quest I was reminded that having one thing to keep me focused, that could entice a sense of peace, a moment of silence and breathe, was what I had been missing. I learnt that what I needed was an even greater meditation practice than I had before. I had felt for such a long time that was holding my breath, for the three years existing in a sex addiction that had me feeling as though I was drowning and running out of breath, was exhausting.
My little monk man inspired me to continue down a creative path, encouraged me to connect with others and would not let me start and end my day without a silent pause and mindful breath.
A silent pause and a mindful breath, so simple, so necessary, but so easily forgotten. Not everyone needs a Saint Fiacre in their garden, but everyone needs to breathe. Finding a space, a moment to pause, breathe and come back to self can give you a sense of calm to help get through the day. It can give insight that would otherwise be hidden under an emotional wreckage and it does not take long, less than a minute can help bring you back to the present and calm the nervous system.
We cannot live if we do not breathe, we suffocate; if we are merely existing, we are not living.
If we are drowning in addiction, we will eventually run out of oxygen I did not want to die, I wanted to catch my breath and I found the perfect place to do this.
If you feel like you are holding your breath, in addiction, trauma or other adversities, I offer you a life raft, seek out support, (if you google hard enough you will find someone or something that can help with whatever it is that is pulling you under), and in the meantime seriously start a garden, even if it is just a potted plant, get creative, find an online art workshop (there are many free ones now), whatever calls to you that will unleash your creativity, do that, pick up an instrument or journal your days, but most of all start a meditation practice.
The week at Quest gave me the opportunity to refine skills, the short “Coming to your senses” technique by Petrea King, the founder of Quest for Life, is a simple but effective technique that helps calm the nervous system and gives you a moment to pause, breathe and become present, making managing emotions that much more possible. This simple technique has been helping me, and if it can simmer-down someone who was once a bubbling, volcano of a girl, erupting all over the place, then it may help you too.
Gratitude – Acceptance – Connection – Hope – Breathe
Learn more about Healing Your Life or call 1300 941 488 and speak to our Programs Team