Wild Self Stories - Laura Ireland - Part One

Wild Self Stories - Laura Ireland - Part One

I'm embarking on a heartfelt journey for the Wild Self Co blog, and I'd love for you to join me! 

Each month, I'll be releasing an interview featuring an incredible woman like yourself who practices in the realms of meditation, yoga, nature healing, ritual, and ceremony.

My mission is simple yet profound: to unravel the beautiful tapestry of their practice. I’ll be exploring the rituals that weave through their days, discovering how they've nurtured their connection to their wild, authentic self. By sharing these intimate stories, my hope is to ignite a spark within you, inspiring you to set off on your own inner journey through these transformative practices.



The first interview is with Laura Ireland, founder of Sacred Sister Community, One Spirit Interfaith minister, wellbeing therapist, retreat and events organiser.

I had the pleasure of connecting with Laura through a mutual friend, and our paths crossed when she was on the lookout for an illustrator. As the years have passed since our first meeting, I've found myself quietly admiring her remarkable tenacity and her gentle, compassionate approach to life and those around her.

As the founder of Sacred Sister community, Laura is a passionate advocate for women of all walks of life. Through women's circles, she fosters spaces where sharing is unrestricted and judgment is left at the door. During our conversation, Laura introduced me to the concept of 'frapping' – a term that resonated deeply with me, signifying a practice of simply being present without the need to fix, repair, advise, or project onto others.

Her perspective on spirituality and ritual is refreshingly grounded and pragmatic. Laura understands that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to self-love and spiritual growth. Instead, she emphasises a path of kindness and compassion, allowing each individual to embrace their unique journey in the moment.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to delve into Laura's story. It's a journey that will uplift and empower you, reminding you to embrace your own practice in a way that truly resonates with your soul, rather than conforming to external expectations.


So I would like to start with asking you how you would describe yourself in terms of your spiritual activities, particularly in service to others.

Wow, that's a big question. It's a beautiful question, and I think it's one that we're always evolving, right? My baseline is that I've been a beauty and holistic therapist for the last 30 years and during that time I've literally listened to over 40,000 women's stories, because no woman comes for leg wax and doesn't want to offload and tell you their whole life story at the same time.

So when we went into lockdown predominantly, it was like, okay, what am I going to do to connect in with these women? And that's where sacred sister in the community came about. So my service to others is really from that place. I've also done an interfaith ministry training, which has been over the last two years. I was ordained 18 months ago, and that was a real eye opener at 45, when I started to dive more deeply into my own spirituality.

I questioned what was it that I was connecting to? Where was my path in life? Up until that point, I have lived and worked abroad and been in some of the most crazy places in the world; Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. So feeling into my spiritual background, I grew up going to Sunday school, not through my family, but from being bored on a Sunday morning, and all my friends were going to there too.

I was christened, like the majority of us in the UK, that's what the path was. And then I got married to a Catholic when I was very young, so then I went properly to church every Sunday. From there I went and lived in a Muslim country so experienced that culture, and then came back from there and sat in Buddhist Sangha for five years.

My path has led me to experience all of these spiritual beliefs, and all of these practices. And the one thing that ran through all of it for me was this path back to love. That probably sums up kind of my spirituality where I where I'm at. I'm a one spirit minister, which means all faiths and none.

And really love is the leading light for me, in every moment as best I can. It's not always easy when you're arguing with your 13 year old daughter! But, that's my unwavering path, what would love do? And that's my message to others, how to get people talking and sharing from that place with no judgment and compassion and kindness.


How does being interfaith minister appear in everyday life?

I had the opportunity on Friday to go and share with the next group ordinands, the group that are coming to the end of their training in the summer. And we got into this conversation about what does it really mean to be a reverend? I have this title now.

But do we really use it? And I've gone full circle. I've said, yes, I'm going to use it. I mean, it's going to be my title and I'm going to be this reverend, but everyone naturally thinks you're then attached to the church. So then, it almost becomes a barrier and I have to go through the whole explanation all of the time. And you know, what does that really mean?

So I can feel myself in this chrysalis stage again, coming out the other side of; I've been this and I did that. And now I'm this, and where does that take me? But what it does take me to is my daily practice. I wake up before everybody else in the house every day, which I've done since I was a single mum. I was a single mum for nine years and I never got a moment's peace. Like most of us know that story.

I had done it when I was not a mum, meditating every day and I was doing my yoga practice. And then overnight it disappeared and I couldn't find my way back because there just wasn't enough hours in the day. And I, like most of us had got connected to my phone. So I would wake up in the morning and grab my phone and probably spend half an hour scrolling aimlessly before I got up in the morning.

So I just made a conscious decision to put my phone in another room, buy myself an alarm clock in case I needed it to get up in the morning and to absolutely 100% give myself that time in the morning. And that's what I still do. And that might look different every day. Sometimes that might be taking myself downstairs and folding the washing, but doing it mindfully, being in my own space, in my own way, taking my time, not feeling like it's a rush. And some days that's sitting on my yoga mat and lighting a candle and having that actual space and time.

So the thing I would say is the most important is it doesn't really matter what you do. It's how you do it. It's making that decision that you can be mindful in every moment of every day. And it can mean something if you take your time to make the space for it.


So, in terms of when take that time for yourself, do you have like a space that you go to? Is there an inside space or an outside space? How do you facilitate that for yourself?

All and everything in the above. If you have a business, you have tools of your trade, right? So you have things that make you feel like, okay, this is what I do today.

I'm going to put on my outfit and I'm going to go here to do this. I feel like meditation is a little bit the same. So yes, I have lots of spaces in my house. I mean, this is my office, that side is my desk in my office. And this side is my kind of comfy seat and my space. And I'm really lucky to have that space.

When I was a single mum in a busy house with two kids, and a dog, I used to have a little altar in the corner of my living room. And in the mornings, I would come with a candle and that would be my space. My routine was to tidy up after the kids had gone to bed so that I could come down in the morning, and there'd be this peaceful space, but it was still the living room in our house.

In some ways, I felt more connected in those moments than I do having different spaces. We’ve got a spare bedroom in the house, which often becomes my space, which I love. That's got my yoga mat, and it's got cushions and stuff, and I can go there. So I can pretty much pick myself up and go anywhere.

But there are certain practices I've got that I wrap around me. I've got a candle that I light, I've got kind of certain music, certain soundtracks I listen to on my on Spotify on my phone. So rather than it being a, where do I go? It's like, what do I do that prepares me for for that practice? I'm more and more out in the woods, I really get that connection to the trees. That's my happy place right now, I allow myself the kind of, okay, do you know what, I'm just going to walk to the woods today.

I used to feel like my spiritual practice had to be done in the morning, I had to sit on my meditation cushion, I had to cross my legs and this is how it has to look, this is how it has to feel, and I took those shoulds away. I took the shoulds, replaced them with the coulds.

And then there's times where actually the morning is like, oh God, I really need some sleep, or I really just want to read my book. But that's okay, because actually, I can sit down with a cup of tea at 11 o'clock, and take 10 minutes to breathe. So it doesn't have to be this morning practice that we do. I also want to bring people to that word of practice. It's called practice for a reason, like for most of us, it doesn't just happen overnight. It takes practice. We don’t suddenly become an expert, you know, in our own life.

We are practicing every day at becoming more of ourselves.


Exactly! My next question was going to be do you have objects and things that you incorporate into your rituals? You mentioned a blanket, a candle. So are those things that you've had for a while? Or do you take any blanket, any candle you have to hand? Or have you got a kit because it's a mobile feast that moves with you? Are those things constant?

Yeah. So they are, I think, but definitely my meditation shawl. It was the first thing my husband bought for me. We've been together six years now and he was at a festival over my birthday and he came home with it. And it was like that sudden moment where he was a keeper. He knows me.

So the more you do something and it's a certain practice and there's a certain energy that goes with it. I find it easier. So, yes, I would say that is something I take with me all the time.

And then there are also things that I just like I may well just go for a walk in the woods and pick up a pine cone. And that becomes a thing that I might hold to connect me with nature.

So I would say whatever those objects are, as long as they're meaningful to you and they become the thing that represents that in your life. Then it allows you to bring that focus back to yourself.


You’ve mentioned about meditating out in nature. Is there any place in nature that you particularly feel an affinity with? Is there a place that you would always go if somebody said you can click your fingers now and be there?

Yeah, absolutely. So the anchor point for me in the UK is St. Necton's Glen, which is down in Tintagel in Cornwall. It's a big waterfall.

It's like a spiritual home to me. You know, when you go somewhere and every part of you kind of feels like, OK, I've been here. I know this place. It feels kind of homely and it feels like a place where I can really be. I've had some of my most spiritual breakthroughs in that space.

So it's a place that holds those beautiful memories, but also such an energetic kind of point where people go to pray, bring things and to connect.

It’s a funny one: for me, water. I grew up near the sea, so anywhere where there's water, anywhere where there's the connection to the beach is a place again that feels homely to me. But I'm witnessing myself more and more drawn to the trees at the moment. I've spent some real time in woodland. We were at a woodland at the weekend where I'm going be running some retreats from, but we just went and helped them chop wood.

In spending the whole day in the woods, I just recognised how my nervous system calmed down by pure nature of being in the woods. I'm not close to the sea where I live but I can get to the sea if I need to. But I recognise that actually I'm slowly finding my way in other spaces that really connect me to nature and ultimately to myself.


We've talked a lot about water and the trees. Having read your Phoenix Rising story, you mentioned that you're a passionate, fiery Leo. I wonder: where does that come out in you?

In many ways, yeah, I would say good question. I would say it's a hard one.

I would say that my fiery energy comes out the most when I'm really passionate about something, you know, when there's injustice and I've only just started to recognise that more.

Interestingly, I watched a video just yesterday from another late-diagnosed ADHD female and injustice is apparently one of the big things. I was like wow, yeah, I can really feel that and I've always put it down to this part of me.

But when I'm passionate about something, when I have this sense of injustice and when something really needs to change, I feel that's when things rise in me the most, especially when you know you become that fierce mum when things aren't going right for your kids and you want to protect them, make sure they're okay. My kids have both been through quite a lot of bullying and it really brings me back to that same injustice. You know, it's like that's where that rocks my raw.


When you face a challenge or challenging times, how does your spiritual practice support you?

So there's my spiritual practice and there's also the connection to others in those moments. In the community that I founded, we do circle training and creating women's circles and the availability to always know someone is there to listen. I was reminded of that this morning by another interfaith minister who said to me: okay, who's holding you?

And I was like, oh okay, missing link. Need to get that put in place so that I'm supporting me every day. I'm doing the things that I need to do, but actually we can do so much of this alone that we forget that the most.

What our body is craving and our systems are craving the most is connection. And whether that's connection to nature, whether it's connection to ourselves, whether it's connection to each other.

So many of us don't reach out for connection because we're taught from a really young age to avoid strangers. We think that everybody else is strange compared to us because that's what we've been brought up to believe.

And so we isolate ourselves and we pull away and we don't connect. So one of my spiritual practices that's become more and more for me is that ability to connect with another, to say, hey, you know what? I really need to chat right now. And again, within the community, we work a lot around not frapping.

So not fixing, not repairing, not advising and not projecting so that actually, you know, as a woman, as a human being, but as a woman, we have a chance to go somewhere we know that no one wants to fix us, a chance to offload. And we can relax back into our bodies. So I think when I'm challenged, I lean into my own spiritual practice. Well, actually, let's go back a step.

When I'm challenged, most of the time, I forget what the hell it is I know to do to make it okay. So one of the things that I do, I teach and I share, even with my kids is the comfort list. When I'm completely caught up... and can’t think, I take myself to the fridge door because that's where the list is.

On the list are things that made me feel comfortable and comforted when I was really small because when there's a challenge, most of us go back into that inner child space. It's not us as a physical adult that's not coping well. It's the inner child inside us that is feeling discombobulated.

So on that list of 10 things; five of them are what made me feel great as a kid and five of them are, what do I need now as an adult? And that's the step I think most of us miss. We know what to do to regulate ourselves, but we're so caught up in the thing that actually finding a way to remember, okay, what do I actually need right now is difficult to access.

We'll end Part One here so you have time to savour and digest these wise words. There is so much more to hear and learn from the beautiful Laura in Part Two, which will be released this time next week.💚🌿

If you'd like to learn more about the Sacred Sister community please visit www.sacred-sister.com or follow Laura on Instagram @sacredsistercommunity, @rev_laura_ireland 

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