A few days ago I met up with Kate Ray from Guided Wellbeing on Molesey Heath, to chat with her about her work and learn more about the plants of the area. Guided Wellbeing offers various activities that reconnect people with nature and themselves. She writes, "Currently I run mindful nature connection walks, seasonal wreath making, foraging walks, wild family adventures and wild women gatherings. I also offer one-to-one outdoor therapeutic sessions, helping individuals learn how to manage the impact of modern living, studying and improving mental health and finding wholeness through creative nature connection activities."
For a long time I knew that I wanted to offer a natural wellbeing service in my local area but couldn’t decide what to do. I had too many ideas in my head. When Covid-19 lockdowns happened many things changed in my professional and private life. The way I was dealing with these transformations was to venture into nature and integrate with wildlife for hours on days. I then started to notice that I was developing a deep connection with the natural world. I was surrendering to a newly rediscovered journey that was leading me to working outdoors, using plants and the healing that nature provided.
Foraging has been part of my life, for as long as I can remember. My mum introduced me to it when I was a child. She would take me on long walks and bike rides and we would pick different wild plants, fruit, berries and mushrooms. I would then help her preserve our forage for winter months. I remember being woken up very early in the mornings and going for long days to collect mushrooms and blueberries. It was hard having to do that as a child, as I wanted to be with my friends. Now, I’m glad to have had this experience with my mum so I can pass the knowledge to the next generation.
Recently foraging became integral part of my life and it means more than just collecting plants for food, medicine or to use in creative projects. I forage to feel part of the natural ecosystem and to be directly connected with nature. Going out every day during different seasons brings me closer to natural cycles and gives me inside to how things work. There is also a spiritual element of being a forager, where plants become our teachers. The skill of intuitive foraging and biophilia is imprinted in everyone’s DNA and explains why so many people feel relaxed, calm and happy when they spend time in nature.
I remember the first guided wellbeing session I offered in my garden. It was April 2021 and we were allowed to meet outdoors in small groups for the 1st time in over a year. I gathered local women and engaged them in weaving a natural wreath. I felt that this was more than just making a pretty object that could be hung on the door. By inviting women to weave, I facilitated a process of natural connection through which they created an invisible bond between each other and themselves. Every one of them enjoyed the workshop and I knew I was stepping on the right path.
I have always enjoyed facilitating and participating in community events. I get a lot of satisfaction when I can offer my skills to others and create a positive change in the community. In the last year I have organised an online wellbeing event for women called ‘Inspiring and Celebrating women'. I invited some friends who worked in wellness to share their knowledge and experience and to encourage and inspire other women to look after themselves. I have also been part of Molesey Clothing Exchange, helping women change their habits and swapping clothes instead of buying new ones. Most recently I have been asked by a local charity to create a wellbeing community space and to run groups for vulnerable people. As part of this project I will be creating a women space with a wellbeing garden and growing plants that are good for issues like menopause.
I always loved art, music and have explored different cultures, philosophies and spiritual pathways. I was lucky to have met wise women/men and spiritual leaders that have enriched my life through their words, pictures, music and energy.
One of the first people who had a massive influence on my life and who offered me an insight to the body-mind connection was a Polish yogi Stanislaw Gorski. He was in his 90s when I met him and he taught me that if I learn to control my mind I would also be able to control my body. Other inspiring teachers who I met on my journey included: Krishnamurti, Artur Lason, Tony Robbins, Fank Cook, John Feehan and Stella- the lazy forager. My favourite plants are Singing Nettle, Grater and Ribwort Plantain Ground Ivy, Hedge Woundwort, Hawthorn and Willow, I also love listening to Seckou Keita, Tribal Seeds, Gotan Project, Coldplay and read David Wyte poems.
My advice to other creative business owners and entrepreneurs is that I would start by saying that if you know your true vocational purpose your startup journey should be light and straightforward. If you are someone like me who is still figuring out how to share my true purpose, then be prepared to go on a bumpy journey. Keep an open mind, try different things and see mistakes as your first attempt in learning. Also, check with yourself what is your intention and what you want to get out of your venture, that will help to shape your business.
If you would like to know more about Kate's work you can find her on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/guidedwellbeing/ and her website https://www.guidedwellbeing.co.uk