What I learned from keeping chickens

There's life wisdom to absorb from keeping chickens.

There’s life wisdom to absorb from keeping chickens.

By Julia Pereira Dias

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My beloved Ursula — chicken with the coolest haircut ever.

I recently read about somatic experiencing. I can’t say I fully understand how this works, but it reminded me of our chickens.

You see, I love watching our chickens. Seeing them scratching the ground, picking here and there or just sitting on the fence looking around gives me a sense of peace and joy. And I learn.

Sometimes there is a fight between two of them. Sometimes I chase them off our salad garden. With a loud cackle they fly off and scurry away. Then they ruffle their feathers and continue scratching, picking, sitting on the fence. In perfect peace, unbothered by thought.

Our ducks used to do the same. Actually, I’m sure they’re still doing it, but they remained in Brazil, so I can’t watch them anymore.

Whatever this ruffling does, it must be healthy for the birds’ minds. And what’s healthy for a bird’s mind, cannot be bad for mine, I’ll say.

Some weeks ago, I had the priviledge of participating at a well-being and work-life balance session run by a doctor and a psychologist during our organization’s retreat. I repeat: this was a four-hour training session on well-being. Well Being.

I’m notoriously bad at self-care, so I was curious to find out what marvels were in store for us. The psychologist began the session with a story from her time as child protection officer. Out of nowhere and without any connection to our session whatsoever, she started describing the sexual abuse of a 6-month-old baby in graphic detail.

I was totally unprepared for this. I can’t even begin to tell how unprepared I was. When she finished and changed the subject, I raised my hand and asked, what had happened to that poor baby. I was desperately wanting to hear the ‘happy end’. “Oh, there was nothing we could do. The mother didn’t want to report the father,” was her only response. I was dumbfounded.

While I was still trying to close my gaping mouth and start breathing again, the lady continued to another story about a former boss of hers that she had had issues with. So, she told us, she had sat down that boss of hers and told her she’d like to slap her, but instead gave her the advice to “get herself a man”.

Again, I raised my hand and shared my view on this kind of communication. By that time, my hands and voice were shaking. I felt like throwing up. Then I decided I had enough of well being and left the room. I went to the gym and started running. ‘Don’t you dare get off this treadmill until you get rid of the images,’ I told my self. And I ran.

After ten minutes I accepted the fact that although I had thought I had ‘gotten over some issues’, apparently I hadn’t. After twenty minutes I allowed myself not to have gotten over, but realized that this didn’t mean I couldn’t delete the images in my head that were torturing me. After thirty minutes I began to accept the fact that whatever happened to the child had happened in the past, and me being miserable now — nine years later — wouldn’t help any of us. After forty minutes I began to feel physically tired and mentally willing to let go of the experience. After forty-five minutes I slowed down to a trod and felt the relief of having released a huge amount of trapped energy.

That’s a long time ruffling feathers. But the energy that had fired up inside me did not come only from that woman’s words. It had a LOT of old baggage. Baggage that our chickens don’t carry around with them.

What is more important, though, is that forty-five minutes of running saved me hours and hours and hours of mind torture, negative emotions and sleepless nights. I know this, becausse I’ve had all that.

It wasn’t, though, until I read about somatic experience that I put all these ends together and realize the importance of it. Now, whenever I feel any negative energy building up inside me, I look for ways to release it. Jump, run, box the mattress, swim.

What do you do to release your trapped mind energy?

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