I am delighted to invite you to a half day retreat at the truly magical Le Grand Hermitage, Clermont-L’Hérault. I will be leading a mindfulness meditation, followed by a yoga session (with a qualified yoga teacher) we will then enjoy a healthy lunch together. You then have the opportunity to relax, use the pool and enjoy the peace of this beautiful location.
These retreats are an opportunity for rejuvenation, a time to recentre and reconnect, no prior meditation or yoga experience is necessary.
The sessions will be run in collaboration with other wellbeing professionals, and are on offer throughout the summer. I will add dates to the website when they are available, and/or you can join the Facebook site here.
There is private parking at the venue.
Introductory offer 35€
Booking essential, limited spaces. Please contact me directly or access the private facebook group here.
Please do get in contact if you have any questions or queries:
firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone (call or text +33 6 77 05 42 46)
This post comes to you from day 5 of home confinement, in the South of France. It is with sadness that sessions at The Wellbeing Atelier are now on hold for the foreseeable future. However, this period of time is opening up other possibilities for personal growth that I am relishing and I will continue to post and make online offerings available.
We know that during this period it’s really important that we look after our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing so I thought I’d share with you some professional advice as to how to manage these uncertain times.
Occupational Therapy Recommandations
The Royal College of Occupational Therapy have come up a list of things to have in your day to adapt to social distancing and quarantine click here for the article which . Below are the recommendations to maintain wellbeing:
1. Establish a daily routines. Routines provide structure and purpose.
2. Balance your weekly routine so you have a good mix of work (activities that have to be done), rest and leisure.
3. Think about the regular activities that are most important to you. What are the most important elements in these? Can you adapt them to carry out in your home? for example, an online class in place of the class you’d usually attend.
4. Set daily goals to provide purpose and a sense of achievement. This might include working through that list of things you’ve been meaning to do but never get round to.
5. Identify the triggers that make you feel low and look for ways to reduce or manage them.
6. Talk with family, friends and neighbours to help them understand how you feel and how they can help if you need support.
7. Take care of yourself. Eat and drink healthily with plenty of fruit, vegetables and water to boost you immune system and energy levels.
8. Avoid staying still for too long. Exercise and regular movement maintain fitness and strength. If you are working form home, take breaks and eat away from your desk.
9. Have a good sleep routine. If you are struggling, try avoiding tea and coffee in the late afternoon and evening, take a bath, listen to gently music, switch off phones and computers and read a book.
10. Keep in touch. Arrange to speak to someone most days.
We are all managing this epidemic together. You are not alone in this, if you have nobody you feel you can reach out to get in touch and I can signpost you to relevant organisations in the UK and France.
The French Breathing Pause.
Now having read through that non-exhaustive list I’d like to invite you to try out the ‘French Breathing Pause’. This self-soothing tool is a new addition to my wellbeing toolkit and I have learnt it from my French husband and many of my friends here, they don’t seem to notice that they do it. It’s a brillant technique which calms the nervous system as you retain more air in the body for it to absorb more oxygen. I will take credit for naming it but not as a technique itself as this probably goes way back in French history….
Deep breath in. Puff out your cheeks and slowly release it through pursed lips.
Do let me know how you get on. Red lipstick is optional.
My Great Grandfather was part of the Occupational Therapy movement during the Second World War working in a hospital in Scotland supporting the rehabilitation of soldiers. The profession first came about during world war 1 when it was observed that injured soldiers who were tasked with activities, such as basket weaving, had better treatment outcomes than those who were left to recover with bed rest. When occupied in meaningful activities that we need, want or are expected to do proved to enable us to maintain wellbeing and support recovery. And so Occupational Therapy was born. We’ve been nicknamed ‘The Basket Weavers’ ever since. I quite like how the French refer to the profession ‘artisanes de votre liberté’ – artisans (craftsmen/women) of your liberty.
I’ll be celebrating my 20th year in the profession this July so I thought I’d do a post about this little known profession. When I say little known this in unlikely to be the case if you or a loved one has had a health crisis. If this is the case, you will certainly have become aware of our profession within hospitals, community health provision and social services. We are the people who support safe discharges, assess ability to go home, run practical, activity based sessions to build and strengthen skills to support peoples rehabilitation journeys. We support people to live their lives independently, in alignment with their values. During my career as an Occupational Therapist I only ever worked with people in crisis. The possibilities of self-referral were limited within the structures that I was employed within.
Through The Wellbeing Atelier I have been able to realise a dream of developing an Occupational Therapy program available to all, supporting people to live to their full potential. To begin with I ran the Mindfulness and Mindful Compassion Meditation Ateliers, monthly afternoon retreats and have recently begun offering Goal Setting and Vision Board Ateliers. In addition to the groups I also have a small individual caseload, working both in person and online. Over the coming year I will be offering a wider variety of ateliers around a range of different wellbeing themes, such as a sober curious atelier, a pain management course and a carers group. Some will be one off stand alone sessions, others monthly and also a series of courses that run for 4-8 weeks. I am aiming to make as much of the content available online as well as in person, and from September sessions will be offered in both French and English.
Setting up in private practice has been a daunting process but exciting. I miss my clients and colleagues but love not having to go to meetings about meetings. Crafting my own ateliers around the needs of those who reach out and also my own specialities and interests is very rewarding. It’s still early days and I am continuing to learn and grow, if there are any ateliers you would like me to offer please get in touch via email@example.com.
You can read more about Occupational Therapy from the Royal College of Occupational Therapy here or Association Nationalité des Française Ergothérapeutes ici.
Within each meditation atelier there is a pause for tea. It acts as a transition between the formal practices and the inquiry and reflection space, before moving into the rest of the day. The idea behind this practice at The Wellbeing Atelier is becoming aware of the sensory experiences of the activity of making tea. Observing the preparation, the sounds, smells, tastes and textures. We can add these slow, simple practices to our daily lives. Simply paying attention and being in the present moment.
Our lives are made up of individual moments and the act of making yourself a cup of tea or a drink of any sort can be woven into your day to ground you to the present moment.
Each month at The Wellbeing Atelier one tea is picked to taste and explore, this month a Honey Oolong has been chosen. The following information has been taken from The London Teaclub with whom I have had a monthly subscription since 2016. Sadly they have closed subscriptions so I can no longer link to their work.
Grown in the Banten province, Java, Indonesia the tea was harvested in January 2018 and roasted in March 2018 by Dr Alexander Halim. He had a personal vision to use sustainable farming methods ro produce his tea to promote a better quality of life for the world. he has inspired other farmers locally to adopt similar methods. His tea plantation is located on Halimun mountain, near Halimun-Salak national Park, a protected area with incredible biodiversity. Halimum means ‘misty’ in the local Sudanese language. The climate is lush, tropical, and very humid, with abundant rainfall and rich volcanic soils.
This unique tea is grown using all naturalisation methods. It has a sharp charcoal flavour with a smooth finish. The first infusion produces an earthly roasted aroma, but later infusions bring gentler fruit notes. Experience the full depth of this tea over 3-4 infusions.
Recommended Brewing Instructions
1 teaspoon of leaves per cup with water heated to just below boiling (85°C). You can reach this temperature by boiling water and leaving it to cool for 2-3 minutes.
Brew with a gaiwan or teapot and steep for 1_3 minutes to desired strength. Alternatively enjoy ‘grandpa style’ – drink directly from mug, blowing leaves out of the way, and simply op up with hot water throughout the day.
Take Tea at The Wellbeing Atelier
If you’d like to taste this delicious tea in person you are welcome to attend an atelier over March and April, you’ll find details of the timetable below.
In January I read The Art of Self-Compassion by Bodhipaksa. The title is enough of an invitation for me, it is a difficult thing to be human. And as Bodhipaksa says in the book, it is indeed a miracle that we are here despite everything that has been thrown at us along the way.
This book was a very practical and clearly written account of how self-compassion practices can be brought into our day to day lives. Whilst mindfulness grounds us in the present moment, compassion practices teach us skills in how to turn towards our experiences and the experiences of others, particularly our suffering. This then gives us a greater capacity to manage and support ourselves to respond wisely to the challenges and stresses we face within our lives.
Bodhipaksa describes the four steps to self-compassion being
Recognising that we are suffering,
Dropping our reactive story,
Mindfully accepting and observing whatever painful feelings are present, and
Offering compassion and reassurance to the part of us that is suffering.
You’ll find step by step practices that introduce the compassion practices that support the cultivation of kindness to improve wellbeing. You can read through them and lead yourself, or listen to the practices with the website links he shares in the book. He has, in my opinion a beautiful voice to listen to, a soft lilting Scottish accent, this made being guided a pleasure.
Bodhipaksa is a Scottish Buddhist living in the US, he shares many of his own painful stories as examples which are both moving and inspiring and make for a very relatable read. You can read more about Bodhipaksa here where you’ll find guided practices.
I have very much appreciated the additional resources from this book not only for my work but also my home practice. I would definitely recommend it to others.
Josephine is a Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) trained Occupational Therapist with 20 years experience in the mental health and addictions field. Mindfulness and CFT act as the basis for the meditation based ateliers and are aimed at supporting the development of her clients wellbeing. If you are interested in attending a session with or accessing materials online please send an email to Josephine via firstname.lastname@example.org or explore her website http://www.thewellbeingatelier.com
In the next Afternoon Retreat Atelier, we will be exploring intuition and instinct through meditations and exercises that explore our gut reactions and our heart space. Connecting to these two important feedback systems within our bodies supports us to make wiser choices for our own health and wellbeing.
Instinct can be seen as a survival based mechanism within the body often felt within the gut area giving you feedback from past experiences, and warns the body of danger. Whilst it is to be listened to it can be an unreliable feedback system and direct you towards unhelpful coping strategies. Intuition comes from a place of calm clarity and is often described as being felt within the heart area which transmits information to the brain from the many neural pathways between the two, directing you to make wise choices not only for yourself but for those around you.
Through mindfulness meditation and mindful compassion practices we can train our brains to be more in touch with our gut reactions and the heart centre. Practicing in this way allows us to acknowledge when we are feeling unsafe, learning the language of our bodies, pausing and observing these sensations creates the space to decide how to respond rather than reacting.
25th February 1-3.30pm at The Wellbeing Atelier, 20€.
Content and meditations available online for the month of March for 5€.
E-mail Josephine via email@example.com to make a booking or for further details.
I am delighted to have started running Goal Setting and Vision Board Ateliers. Having facilitated groups and individual sessions like this throughout my career as an Occupational Therapist, I know how much of a difference these tools and techniques can have in improving the quality of peoples lives. They’ve certainly made a difference to my own (the vision board above is one I created last May).
Goal Setting and Vision Boards at The Wellbeing Atelier
We begin with introductions and exploring what your ideal life would look like, what do you really want, you’re encouraged to be adventurous, with child like playfulness, we will endeavour to add pieces of this ideal into your daily life. For example, bear with me on this, mine would be to be a ballerina. My own exploration of this pulls out my admiration for the beauty and discipline of the sport and I have crafted both of these into my daily routines as I am fully aware I will never be the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Performing my clunky pirouettes in the kitchen is always possible mind you…
So having thought of your wildest idea and dream, we then move through some questions together about your goals, where you want to be in 5 years and what you need to be doing daily in order to get there. Through this exploration stage we also look at victories, gratitude and the challenges you face. Listening, sharing ideas and exploring together creates such a powerful space to be heard, encouraged and supported.
Now comes the fun bit (for some, not all), with a blank piece of paper, pens, crayons books and magazines at your disposal we create a visual reminder and prompt that you take with you as a focus point for your goals. Creating something that can be put up at home or perhaps photographed and used as a screen saver to remind you for that month of what you carved out as a vision for your life.
The following month you are invited to have a look at your vision board and check in with your progress, your victories, your successes and the challenges you faced. Regularly doing this can be very helpful in keeping you on track. This is why I’ve set up the monthly group, as a space for people to come back to at regular intervals to talk through the process, refine the goals made and get the support and encouragement of others to get you to where you want to be.
The dates for the next introductory session will be 18th February and 10th March 2020. You can find more information and additional dates for the Introductory and Follow up groups here. I am also offering individual, 1 hour goal setting and vision board ateliers via Skype or in person for 30€. The outcomes are always so different and interesting, it will be such a pleasure to guide you through this technique. You can read more about me and my work here.
The following information was taken from The London Teaclub subscription insert.
An ecological and naturally grown tea (organic without certification) Harvested in spring 2018 by Li Shu Lin and family in the Nannou Mountain, Yunnan, China.
Tea leaves are handpicked from Mr Mi’s ecological titres,, then sun dried and fired to make sheng puerh. The tea leaves are the blended by hand with a. Local herb called nul mi xiang, our ‘sticky rice fragrance’, in the style of the local Dai Minority in Yunnan. The resulting blend has the intense mineral and herbaceous flavours of sheng puerh accented with the sweetness of sticky rice.
The tea is produced in small batches and grown on trees that are less than 20 years old that Mr. Li planted himself. The tea trees have never had any added manures, pesticides or soil additives of any kind, and thrive completely on their own in their own environment.
The tea meditation is a mindfulness practice that transitions us from the quiet stillness of the meditations, bringing our senses back into the room we are in before we move into a gentle discussion around the practices. As I prepare and serve you the tea you are invited to connect to the present moment, to the sights, sounds, smells and taste of the tea.
This tea will be offered at the weekly meditation ateliers every Friday 10:30-11:30am and at the Afternoon Retreat is Tuesday 18th February 1-3:30pm.
I felt so directionless that first year of living in France, I didn’t know who I was any more. Without language I wasn’t able to communicate well, without working I didn’t feel valued. I questionned and analysed everything.
‘Oh!’ I was greeted with one morning outside of the school ‘You’re wearing red lipstick.’
I didn’t know whether it was a question, a statement or simply an observation. That was the start and the end of the conversation, the school gates opened the children ran in and I scurried off. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. All I could think was I’ve made another mistake, I’m drawing unnecessary attention to myself and this was the final in a long line of blunders that I was frustrated with myself for making (for example be mindful of your pronunciation of ergothérapeute, the french for occupational therapist, if you pronounce ‘peute’ like ‘poot’ instead of ‘putt’, like in golf, essentially you’ll be talking about an ergo prostitute). Whilst in retrospect my gaffs were amusing, at the time I in absolutely no way wanted to bring any further attention to myself. I wanted to fit in and belong.
The lipstick went in the bin.
When I envisioned my life here I’d thought this could be a time to introduce wearing red lipstick, a new ritual, an opportunity to reinvent myself, a fresh start in a new country.
I wanted everything so quickly, to arrive, speak french fluently and fit in immediately. It took a lot longer, sitting with the frustrations of things taught me to slow down. Turning towards the difficulties within my meditation practices rather than pushing them away. Things fell into place without me needing to do much more. I took care of my family, I studied, I meditated, I took tea and I waited.
I’ve made no New Years resolutions, I’m simply wearing the red lipstick as a nod to how far I’ve come. Dior, 999 if you need the specifics, the exact one I chucked away.
That comment came at a time that I was vulnerable and at times like these we are more likely to experience and express extreme reactions. I look back with kindness to myself, I responded in the best way I could have at that time. If I received the same comment now I’m sure I’d respond differently. But just in case I’ve rehearsed what I’d say if I received the same remark again:
Josephine Dolan-Dufourd lives in the south of France with her young family, she writes about life in France, Occupational Therapy, Mindfulness, Self-Compassion and Tea. If you would be interested in exploring with Josephine any of the themes she discussed in this piece you can find details about her work here.
An Oolong tea harvested in Spring 2019, grown and made by Chen Mao Sheng in Sumatra Indonesia.
Ti Guan Yin is a famous style of oolong tea named after the Buddhist divinity Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. I am particularly sentimental about this tea as it was the first tea I used for my own tea meditations and I drank it after the birth of my daughter, in January 2017. My daughter smiled from the day she was born and is now approaching three years old. The tea perfectly suited the era of what was a whirlwind year which started in a small flat in East London where we had no intention of leaving and ending with a new baby, in a new home in a new country. Tasting its sweet notes brings back fond memories of being with the not knowing, a true period of mercy. This version of the tea is truly delicious.
To write up the description I have used the information sent to me about the tea from a monthly tea subscription I had with The London Teaclub. I met Cecilia at a brunch workshop close to where I lived in London, I was fortunate enough to be sat next to her and we were both in the last trimester of our pregnancies. She invited me to a fullmoon tea ceremony and so my adventure in tea began. This group and that ceremony gave me the inspiration to run the ateliers I currently offer. Lots of things are woven into this tea, I hope you’ll get the pleasure of tasting it in one of January’s ateliers. Sadly The London Teaclub is no longer offering tea subscriptions as postage costs made it no longer viable. Cecelia moved back to San Francisco where she continues to sell tea and run tea ceremonies, you can read more about her work there here.
The Tea’s Story
The style of tea originated from china but this version is grown in the mineral rich, volcanic soils of Sumatra island. After being rolled and oxidized, the tea is fired with charcoal. The result is a thick, warm, amber-coloured brew. The sweet caramel and dark chocolate flavours are peppered with notes of smoky cinnamon.
The London Teaclub
In 1977 The Chou family opened up a small tea shop in Taipei, Taiwan. The family then planted heir first trees ten years later in the Wushe mountains in Nantou county, Taiwan. Two years later in 1989 they purchased a tea garden in Indonesia, the garden has a high elevation and they use the conventional farming methods for this tea.
They chose the gardens for their unique terroirs where there are sharp differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, this allows the tea to grow more slowly,this causes the tea to develop more aroma an sweetness; in addition to this the abundant clouds and fog surrounding the mountains allows the tea to absorb more moisture.
1 tsp of leaves per cup is used with water heated to just below boiling point. This can be reached by allowing boiled water to cool for 1 minute.
The tea can be steeped in a gaiwan or teapot for 2-4 minutes. Or alternatively it can be enjoyed ‘grandpa style’, where the leaves are put directly in the cup and topped up with hot water and enjoyed throughout the day, simply blowing the leaves out of the way whilst you drink. This is a beautiful way to observe the leaves unfurling, I have tried to capture the process in the picture above.
During each atelier we take tea and weave it into our meditation, it punctuates and aids the transition from the silent practices. It brings us back again and again to the present moment and is a very sensory meditation.
You can replicate this at home by making yourself a hot drink at home, paying attention to the details of preparation as well as mindfully drinking the infusion. To begin with closing your eyes and connecting to the breath ad then moving through the practice slowly, deliberately and with attention. Each time your mind wanders congratulating yourself for noticing and returning to the felt sense of the experience, with compassion and kindness and perhaps some gratitude for your body making most of its movements without you noticing.
How easy it is to make drink a cup of tea and not notice any of the experience.