The Need for Regeneration

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Major life changes take their toll, and we all need time to regenerate. This is every bit as true of positive changes and achievements as it is of negative changes and trauma.

In the five years since I last wrote here, pretty much everything in my life has changed, except for the kind of work I do. One of the things that I have consistently noticed in my practice as a counsellor is just how much major life changes — both positive, chosen ones and those which we all have to face as time moves on and we and the people around us change, grow, get ill, and die — take their toll on our energy. I notice how very much we need not only just to rest but to regenerate, in little slices where we can while we are in the midst of the change, and more once the storms have subsided and we think we are fine now. We always need a little longer, and a little deeper, than we think.

The same principle applies for big achievements and successful moves as for recovering from trauma. It takes a while to settle into a new configuration, and the more changes we experience in life the more we realise that everything is temporary anyway. That can be quite anxiety provoking. Meditation practices can help us find peace with this fact, as can experiencing any kind of process of regeneration, because we know that whatever changes life brings next, we can always return to that place of peace; we know the way.

Regenerating is more than passive rest after which we come back to the situation essentially the same, only feeling stronger. It often involves an element of “going back to the womb”, of dwelling in darkness, in silence, and experiencing a deep sense of nonverbal connection, be it with the earth, the spirit, or another human. Through this time “in the womb” and away from distractions and not generating too much action, or analytical thought, we gradually shift our mode of functioning. An experience of being looked after arises, as the baby in the womb is automatically, without the mother having to do anything on purpose. She couldn’t if she tried. It is just the way nature works.

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Out of this dwelling, we can actually regenerate, and we emerge differently, feeling safer and hence more powerful and able. When we feel looked after on a very basic level, the stress of having to do everything ourselves naturally falls away. If we get stressed and busy or feel isolated in the future, we can go back to that inner state, and energy naturally regenerates again. It does this to some extent whenever we pay it some attention and allow it to come through.

It is easier to do this outside in nature: the very fact that nature is going through cycles of change, decay and growth, and regenerating itself all the time, within the conditions that it has, tends to spark awareness of those same processes in us. They aren’t something we can control, in the same way that we can’t make a plant grow from a seed. We can however make conditions in which seeds can’t grow (we’re doing rather well at this) and also conditions in which our minds and bodies cannot settle into their own rhythms.

It is also easier to do this with people who let us be, not in the sense of leaving us alone and isolated but in the sense of letting us be as we are, with their being alongside us. If we’re lucky, we have some close people like this — one is enough — and if we’re not so lucky, we need to seek these kind of conditions out.

I am writing this from my own place of regeneration, in the wilds of Subcarpathian Poland. I can hear the murmur of the fire — and just how much space there is around me. I look out of the window at the green leaves on the trees and the yellow ones falling. I may go back to sleep.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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