Long Covid Support Group in Hyndburn

I’ve previously posted about my experience of long covid, since getting ill with the virus back in March 2020. I still have long covid, and have been taking part in a long covid peer support programme pioneered by Brain Health Breakthrough. The programme is now expanding and I’m very pleased to have been asked to co-facilitate this new peer-led support group for people in Hyndburn with long covid, organised by Brain Health Breakthrough, with funding from Hyndburn Community Champions. The programme is free of charge. The first session is this Tuesday 8th June at 1pm on Zoom. To join the programme or find out more email karen@brainhealthbreakthrough.co.uk

There are a number of online support groups for long covid, but this one I have found to be particularly helpful. It’s very much about developing life skills and finding a way forward in a positive direction, as well as an opportunity to share our struggles and support each other. I’ve written in some more detail below about how the programme has helped me through long covid. As well as sharing and discussion, the programme includes a guided meditation each session, a recording of which can also be accessed anytime.

The long covid peer support programme with Brain Health Breakthrough has helped me to feel calmer and sleep better. The meditations are something positive I can do when I feel unwell or worried, which feels empowering. There is a balance of acknowledging that our bodies have been dealing with something very challenging which will take time to heal, alongside reminding us we can shift our focus from panic and frustration onto gratitude for our bodies working so hard to fight covid and recover, and onto the positive progress we have already made.

Thanking my body for all its hard work feels transformative. It reminds me that I have the power to recover. It’s a form of self-love and self-care that feels more than relaxing. It feels nurturing. Covid was a terrifying experience and it can still be scary having long covid symptoms and wondering if and when I’ll be well again. The meditations and the support Karen offers in the group feel like being held in a safe space. 

As well as the mutual support, having access to the recorded meditations is reassuring as I always have something to turn to when I’m struggling with symptoms. The meditations help me tune into my body’s needs, and enable to me to be more aware of how much I need to pace myself. This has helped to reduce my relapses and become more aware of warning signs in my body that remind me I need to slow down, improve my self-care, or seek further medical advice before symptoms get more severe.

The deep relaxation I feel during the meditations is sometimes more refreshing than sleep, and has been especially important to me at times when symptoms have been scary and made me feel tense. I have more energy and breathe more easily when I feel properly relaxed. I have taken part in this programme alongside seeking advice and treatment from my doctor, and the combination has really helped me to gradually improve my symptoms, to feel positive but also patient about my ability to recover.

Online peer support has really helped me to cope with long covid, but I especially value this programme as it helps to make me feel more positive. Listening to others talking about their symptoms can be helpful as it reminds us we are not alone, and it’s important to have a space where we can share our struggles and fears, but sometimes it can also lead to feeling more frightened and despairing if it’s not followed by a more positive focus. This programme is different because as well as peer support, the meditations and the focus on listening to our bodies in order to improve self-care is very positive and this positive state of mind helps me to feel stronger and more well. I have gained an approach to self-care that is a tool for life.

Click HERE TO WATCH a video on Brain Health Breakthrough’s Facebook page of people with long covid (including myself) talking about how the programme has helped.

Click on this link to find out more about Brain Health Breakthrough’s Long Covid Peer Support Programme

Expanded awareness: being in the present for emotional wellbeing

When I’m feeling stressed, frustrated, tired or even just bored I like to expand my awareness out of myself. I begin by focusing my awareness on my points of contact with the world: the sun or wind on my face, the ground beneath my feet. Then I extend this awareness from my feet into the earth, down deep and also outwards across the curve of the Earth. I am conscious of the vast earth that supports and sustains us all, and of all the beings that live in or on the earth. With practice, this can be achieved in seconds, and can be done anywhere, quietly and discreetly. For me this provides a sense of security and of perspective.
It’s a form of meditation that allows you to still be present and aware of your surrounding circumstances, in fact all the more so, whilst maintaining a greater equilibrium. It can be momentary or more involved; there is no need to complete a process, so it is not an issue if you are interrupted. I would exercise caution when driving or other similar activity.

©Janey Colbourne 2017

The Song of the Seer

The Song of the Seer

You say I am not this body
I am this body
But I am more than this body
I am Earth
I am the sun
I am sky
I am the universe
I am you and you are me
I am everyone
I am all beings that strive with intent
My body is the door
I need to see it
To know that I can choose
To open it or close it
I am the door

I am fire
I cannot be crushed
For I am the force of life
Manifesting itself
My body is the vessel
I am the vessel
Containing the uncontainable
The mystery
You say I am not this body
I am this body
We are all this body

© Janey Colbourne 2017

I am the Earth

The Island Within

“There is nothing in me that is not of earth, no split instant of separateness, no particle that disunites me from the surroundings. I am no less than the earth itself. The rivers run through my veins, the winds blow in and out with my breath, the soil makes my flesh, the sun’s heat smolders inside me. A sickness or injury that befalls the earth befalls me. A fouled molecule that runs through the earth runs through me. Where the earth is cleansed and nourished, its purity infuses me. The life of the earth is my life. My eyes are the earth gazing at itself…I am the island and the island is me”

Richard Nelson 1989 ‘The Island Within’

image © Janey Colbourne 2016