Welcome to the first in my Wholehearted Living Series where I talk to some inspiring people about living a more authentic, creative and connected life inspired by nature, the seasons and what they’re most passionate about.
Let me introduce you to the lovely Gemma David of The Quiet Heart. Gemma is an Acupuncturist and meditation teacher based in Bristol. I met Gemma a few months ago when I went for a treatment. I was so impressed with Gemma’s approach, that I wanted to interview her about how she uses nature and the seasons in her work, and to share some of her wisdom with a wider audience.
Personally, I know I need to get quieter and re-connect with myself more often…to close my laptop, take time out from social media, spend quality time with family and friends, or simply do nothing for a while. If you feel the same, read on for some great advice from Gemma.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how Quiet Heart came to be.
I’m Gemma and I live in the lovely city of Bristol, where I run my well-being business, The Quiet Heart. I’m self-employed, a solo parent, Border Terrier owner and outdoors lover! My interest and passion for well-being began when I was small. I grew up foraging with my dad and spent many hours at his allotment helping him grow vegetables. I also spent many hours in the kitchen with my mum cooking and learning about how nature is an incredible healer.
After many years in the corporate sector and after a few personal tragedies, I decided to align my values with my career. I returned to University to learn Chinese Medicine and haven’t looked back; Gemma David Acupuncture was launched in 2011. Since moving to Bristol, I’ve qualified as a mindfulness teacher and have been running well-being events based around living with the seasons and well-being in general. I’ve also been working in schools as part of the PHME curriculum helping young people with emotional well-being and mental health. It seemed only natural then that my business evolved into one which provides people with spaces to connect with themselves, through healing, meditation or simply connecting with their feelings, or to hear what feels right. Hence the name, The Quiet Heart.
What kind of work do you do/people do you work with?
My role varies greatly. In my private practice at home I use various elements of Chinese Medicine, coaching skills and meditation techniques. When in schools I am teaching, with about 25 children at a time. At the well-being events I am presenting and facilitating. I meet and work with many different people of all ages.
Describe your typical day.
There isn’t really one! The only elements typical in my day are the functional ones; bedtimes, clothing and food, and even those times are varied! And coffee, that’s typical. I have a slight addiction but that’s OK; it’s good for me!
Does nature have any influence on your work? If so, in what way?
Absolutely. Every day I am talking about nature in my practice, on social media and personally too. The seasons and nature affects my acupuncture treatments (points I use). I use seasonal guidance with my patients and when I’m teaching and training too.
What do you think nature can teach us?
The seasons are at the core of our lives; they affect the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our general energy levels and even how much sleep we need. If we can make even a small move towards living more harmoniously with nature, we will notice a great improvement in our mental and physical well-being with the result being, and overall sense of connectedness with nature and the people in our lives.
Do you have a favourite season? If so, why?
Spring and Autumn are equally beautiful and I love the energy, colours and celebratory rituals of each. I struggle to not feel disappointed with our sometimes soggy summers and mild winters in the UK.
What advice would you give for making the most of the current season?
Summer is a time of year that most of us in the Northern Hemisphere welcome. The temperature has risen, the sun is out (generally) and we are naturally drawn to spending time outdoors. In Chinese Medicine, summer is the time of ultimate Yang; of peak energy.
The element is Fire which is a symbol of divinity, transformation and passion, and as this is the only element that as humans, we can physically can create, fire reminds us of our individual creativity. On an emotional level, Fire corresponds to joy and excitement and our ability to give and receive warmth and love. Joy warms and activates the body; it opens the Heart and inspires people to connect…click here to read more of Gemma’s advice on embracing Summer.
What would you say your favourite ‘little piece of wonder’ is in life?
My daughter. Watching her grow up has been the most powerful learning curve of my life. When I really connect and am with her, she fascinates me.
I think reading is one of the best ways to relax and and unwind. What book(s) have influenced you most in your life?
The books that have influenced me and that I love really depend on where I was in my life. I absolutely can’t choose one. I love reading, but have struggled to read fiction since having my daughter, 6 years ago!
When I was a child I would sit enthralled listening to my mother read The Secret Garden, A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett which I had as a hard back collection. At school I loved Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (my dog is called Scout). I can easily return to, and fall into, Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, I think it’s so beautifully written. But the book which has impacted me most however is The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. I use the techniques I learned in this book almost daily.
Life can be so hectic and distracting with world news events, work and relationship stresses, social media etc. What advice do you have for living a more connected life?
- Disconnect: Put the devices down and talk to your family or friends. I don’t follow the news very much and have limited my social media to just two platforms. This helps.
- Get outside: Breathe properly, feel your breath in your lungs. Notice beauty wherever you can.
- Practice gratitude: For the simplest of things: your bed, the roof over your head, your washing machine, running water, food…you get the idea.
Do you have any daily tips for moving towards the more connected life that you talk about above?
I’m not going to use the obvious ones here; we all know what we need to be doing more of and sometimes that can be quite stressful in itself. I’d say the easiest and most effective way to start living a more connected life (subjective) is to start with small moves towards doing things that you love or give you pleasure, I call it Vitamin P (pleasure).
Make a list of the things that give you pleasure on a daily basis and try to do just one each day. Remind yourself at the beginning of each day to get a dose of your Vitamin P. Through this practice, you will be giving yourself permission to look after yourself, which will help you practice gratitude which will change your life, I promise.