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"The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears."
Minquass - Native American

"I am a born worrier! I find it hard to relax! I am often stressed!"
Steve Hawley - Delegate

The two statements above are not as unrelated as they may first appear - let me try to explain.

I have always found it difficult to stop worrying and relax. Many years ago, before my cancer diagnosis, a kind and well meaning doctor gave me a 'How to Relax' audiotape. It involved listening to a supposedly calming but extremely irritating voice taking me through a series of exercises intended to 'enable me to achieve a more relaxed attitude to life'. Fine I thought - lets give it a try.

The problem became apparent after some preamble on the tape. I was supposed to be naked or in 'loose-fitting clothes' and preferably in the dark. After several ungainly attempts at finding the minimum space I had available on the floor of my room, I lay down and began the 'process'. So far so good. However, the voice then suggested I stand up and move about to a series of prompted actions. All the while relaxing. I hit my hand a glancing blow on the chest of drawers, banged my knee on the wardrobe door and almost took a walk into space at the top of the stairs! No- sadly relaxation tapes were not for me. I stayed stressed!

I am also a sceptic! I find it hard to 'get my head around' many potentially excellent ways to relax. I have never mastered meditation - it says something about my psyche that I always felt the others would leave the room if I closed my eyes for too long! Yoga entailed risk of my becoming stuck in a cramp-ridden pose. My list is endless - it's not the style/method of relaxing that is the problem but my difficulty in risking losing control.

Given the above, I have often asked myself why I find myself year-on-year going to Carl Stonier's workshops - which usually have the intriguing phrase' Altered States' in the title! I think I now have the answer.

It's all a question of trust!

In the spirit of choosing one workshop for me, I found myself travelling in the tower lift to the heavens! Readers of past conference reports may remember the 'several delegates trapped in a lift for an hour' scenario. The risk of heart failure from climbing the stairs was all that enticed me back into that means of conveyance!

The thought of going on a 'Shamanic Journey' appealed increasingly as the lift doors slid apart at the correct floor. The fact that we could see for miles from the windows was an added bonus.

Carl talked us through what we would be doing and we shared what we expected/hoped for from the experience. I was looking forward to the repetitive drumming that Carl was going to do instead of playing a tape recording. There is something very special about the human touch whilst drumming. Maintaining the beat is very important and can't be replicated with a drumming machine as it is too perfect!

Having made ourselves comfortable, following some relaxation exercises, Carl led us through a guided journey into a 'safe place'. I always find this a very meaningful experience and value the opportunity to seek for one. I find increasingly I am able to get there and remain for quite some time. Previous attempts have been less successful and I have had difficulties in 'holding the space'. I have been too easily drawn back into the room. Practice and trust!

Once we had all 'returned' to the room and were sure we were comfortable, Carl introduced us to the next stage of the workshop. He explained that he would be drumming to a regular beat and that we would be made aware of the end of the journey by the quickening of his drumming. He would not be talking at this time. Whatever occurred would be 'within ourselves'. We might 'see' an animal or bird - we might see it three times - if this happened we might choose to follow. I have seen this referred to as 'Soul Flight' - by following a route to another dimension, accompanied by our power animal/bird, we might with their help discover solutions to problems as yet unresolved.

As the drum began I very quickly 'saw' a clearly defined eagle.

Another with opening claws - I felt agitated, anxious, apprehensive. Followed by a third in full flight. It soared. I followed' Still aware of the drumming I felt empowered. I experienced extreme clarity. I felt relaxed. I was tranquil. The drum beat quickened. I was back in the room!

By taking a risk, I had had an amazing experience. By accepting the safe environment I had felt trust. By involving with an 'altered state of consciousness' I became enabled. I took the opportunity to have a rainbow in my soul!

Phew! Thanks Carl - It was a powerful journey for a sceptic!

 

- From Steve Hawley, a delegate at the National Conference of Cancer Self Help Groups.

 

 

Hi Carl. Thanks so much for the CD! Excellent. As you know, I'm not a naturally relaxed person, but your resonant timbre and the delightful music did the trick. I loved the 20 steps and your choice of words leading through to a safe place. I'll keep it in the walkman. Wish I'd used it during the body scan.

 Thanks again,

Steve

 

 Hi Carl,
 
Thank you.
 
A little something I've written over the last couple of days. Thought you might like to read it if you get the chance.
 
Mel

 

My inner child Melanie had been around a little all weekend and she'd been happy, giggly and playful. Whilst out walking on saturday evening she'd had a little skip and Sunday morning she wanted to do a cartwheel. 
As we went into the lounge to start the day, for some unknown reason I chose to sit in the chair of doom, a chair which is positioned over a vortex. I knew from previous experience that sitting in that chair made me feel very much away with the fairies and left me feeling drained and unbalanced. However about a week later I'd felt a shift that left me feeling stronger, more able to face my fears. Maybe part of me knew that something inside needed shifting and that's the reason I chose to sit in that chair. 
We did a guided meditation which took us to meet our inner rebel. I struggled from the beginning to keep up with Carl's voice, I only experienced a few images and flashes of colour the rest I spent in a state of confused darkness.  After coming out of the meditation I felt very unbalanced, I felt vulnerable as I really struggled to stay in Hara. I felt like I was being pulled from adult to child and then back again and at times I felt like it wasn't me but I didn't feel like Melanie either, I was in a void, in a darkness, a very uncomfortable darkness.
I struggled to stay focused for the rest of the day, unable to show my gratitude for being part of such a lovely, warm group. We ended the day with a little exercise suggested by another member of the group, where we each sent love and thanks to the person on our right. This left me feeling a little more relaxed and uplifted, ready for the journey home. After saying our goodbyes we walked down to the lake before we left. Whilst sat on the jetty with my legs hung over the edge reflecting on the day, feeling a little down on myself for putting a cloud over our last day, a yellow dragon fly came and sat on my shoulder. I believe to give me the reassurance and upliftment that I needed.
That evening whilst reflecting on the weekend with my close friend, I felt one hand on my shoulder and another on my back, then the healing energy flowed through my mind and body, healing all my aches and pains . My friend had a very similar experience and as we looked at each other she spoke the name I had in mind. We then did a little meditation and I had a short but very vivid experience, a fairy took my hand and took me up in to the air, we were flying so gently and elegantly down the lane to the lake at the farm, when all of a sudden I was in the claws of a falcon and everything was passing so fast. I then found myself in a still darkness with a white door in the distance, the door I have come across on a few occasions but never dared to enter. Once again I let my fear take over and fetched myself back to my body. 
I was very  emotional over the next couple of days reflecting on the course and on my life, how I'd not achieved the things I'd wanted to achieve. Whilst sitting by the fire under the stars I read the the lovely and inspiring words that the group had written for me, I regretted not being able to do the same for them.
A Charlie brown quote came to mind, 'the more I know myself, the more I love myself'' was something one member said they would like to see me develop. That quote fetched me to tears as both adult and child realised that the feelings of self hate no longer existed and that although we've got a way to go we are starting to love ourself. An overwhelming feeling of needing a hug from the beautiful soul who wrote that quote swept over me, the feeling was so strong that if it hadn't have been the middle of the night, I'd have wanted to jump in my car and drive over an hour for that hug.
My inner child was also feeling very lost and in need of a lot of attention. I gave her lots of love and cuddles but she still felt lonely and sad, like something or someone was missing. She was fighting sleep, too scared to close her eyes, I comforted her, asked her what was bothering her, what had upset her in the meditation on Sunday.  I guess she'd already tried to show me but I chose not to see, I didn't have the courage to go through that door. She got upset and asked for Carl and he said he could see us that night. 
Carl's energy's was so powerful, so much stronger than I've ever felt before. After helping Melanie to remove the blockages and get the energy flowing, he took her hand and such a powerful yet calm and peaceful energy filled our mind, body and spirit. We were both in a state of deep relaxation so we agreed that he took us in to a guided meditation, where we could deal with what had come up in meditation on Sunday. I didn't feel that we got very much deeper but as Carl fetched us back to the room, I was feeling like I was been pulled back, like a magnetic force was pulling me through the chair. I could hear Carl's voice asking if it was me or Melanie that needed to go back, I didn't know, I felt like I needed to just let go and fall, fall deep into the darkness. When I looked up I found Carl comforting a distressed little girl.
We left Carl that evening both feeling very relaxed and calm, feeling very much at peace with ourselves and each other and also much more at peace as a whole.

 

 

Mel is a long-term client, survivor of childhood abuse and a member of the first Everyday Spirituality group.

 

 

Dear Carl,

Just a quick note to say that further to our supervision on Monday, I had a much more boundaried session with my client today. It felt like, for the first time, I was able to set the agenda whilst remaining client centred and the session proved more productive in less time! During the supervision session, you had mentioned and then dismissed the idea that the client might present with symptoms of borderline personality disorder. That made me think about some of the client's history I had taken and (without wanting to put that label on the client) was helpful as it invited me to see a pattern of boundary transgressions between the client and former lecturers, therapists, in fact a whole range of people who should have known better how to hold their boundaries, including myself. Because I could now see and feel it, something in my energy shifted, and in our work together today, the client discovered and owned this pattern fully himself and took a huge step forward. Incidentally, the 'unhealthy' pull in my solar plexus is gone and I am able to be fully in the heart with this client now, loving but not merging, back to being a tuning fork, rather than drawn into his energy field like a moth into the flame. Phew, I am really grateful for the space you held for me to explore this and for your insightful ideas and comments.

Thank you again.

Much love,

Andrea

This came the day after Andrea's first supervision session with me.