The wellness industry seems to have embraced on a new journey into healing that is based on centuries of Astrology teachings and practices, more specifically, the concept of the ‘Saturn Return.’

Showing up on your ‘Saturn Return’

Helen Schultz

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One of the rituals immortalised during lockdown days in this COVID pandemic was the daily walk within 5km from home. Engaging in regular exercise was one of the few benefits of pandemic existence. Certainly, regular exercise is known to provide profound physical and mental health benefits. It also kept many of us functional, and allowed some social interaction when rules allowed us to meet friends within our 5km radius, coffee or no coffee in hand.

I must confess I am not a fan of walking for the sake of it, and now have a bizarre adverse reaction when I think about a walk around the block when there is literally a multitude of other things to do in my busy day. However, I did alleviate some of this profound sense of uselessness and seemingly impaired productivity by discovering the world of podcasts. I recognised quickly that true crime podcasts, as popular and as gripping as they were, undid most of the beneficial effects of the walk on my sleep, so in whatever month of the endless days of lockdown I searched further for different content.

I must attribute some of this discovery to my beauty therapist, who I could see on those heady days when lockdown was lifted. Mask wearing meant certain areas were no go zones, but during one consultation somewhere in the blur of 2021, she recommended a podcast to me. It was called ‘Saturn Returns’, and was created by somebody called Caggie Dunlop, popular in the UK for celebrity appearances on reality TV shows. In essence, my therapist explained, all of us experience something called a ‘Saturn Return’ approximately every 27 years, as this is how long it takes Saturn to make a complete journey around the sun. I still don’t know why we are connected to Saturn and not Earth, but apparently it has been this way for millions of years and many way more knowledgeable than me understand this better. It is meant to be a completely life changing time, often not for the right reasons, and often something you recognise in retrospect, as guests on the podcast would reflect upon, seemingly not knowing why their lives were total chaos in their late 20s, until they discovered this and looked back. Given that by this logic I was in the midst of my second Saturn Return I became determined to work out just exactly what was going on, even if it meant I could push myself to go for that next walk around the block.

I had no idea what was in store for me. I quickly discovered links to celebrities that had embraced their Saturn Return for the better. Some became so clever they prepared for it. Living sober ‘curious’ and ‘clean’ lives, they went on to propel into a revelry of utter success while staying grounded and in the moment, still on the youthful side of 30. Even the mega celebrity, Adele, had discovered this, her Saturn Return became the subject of her recent body art, jewellery choice and mega enormous return to her musical career. I devoured each episode, listening to this person called Caggie interview people who absolutely had worked everything out from how to find their soul mate, leave their soul mate but as part of an experience of gratitude and a journey to authenticity, embrace sobriety, look with compassion to their former selves and their inner child own their future and just be in the moment.

Be.In.The.Moment.

Something I was finding very hard to do when focusing on existing in 2020 and 2021.

It soon became like a form of self discovery awareness ‘porn’, where I couldn't stop listening but knew it wasn’t good for me. The more I learnt about leaning in, reaching out, showing up and drilling down, I felt like a competitor in a existential Twister game, all limbs gripping on one plastic coloured spot, struggling to remain centred and grounded while in fact falling on my bum.

Fair play to Caggie Dunlop though, with her almost 400,000 followers on Instagram and thousand of podcast subscribers, me being one now. She really has it all going on. I must admit, I do have a particular envy of Instagram influencers and podcast celebrities who are very business savvy, can work all their ‘socials’ and literally fund their lifestyle and more. Devotees to innovative hashtags, lovers of sponsorship deals and passionate about owning their presence pays well and seems very glamourous compared to the hard work of a doctor. Envy has also changed to a bit of resentment that they could indeed guide the way, the journey into healing for a very homogenous audience with no need for responsibility or a scientific approach. They can indeed promise so much to so many with no care or responsibility.

After listening to a few seasons and segueing into guests from ‘Saturn Returns’ who also had their own podcasts, which everybody absolutely loved listening to when not making their own, I did start to fatigue. The more I learnt then worse I felt about myself. When I did feel quite bad I began to feel as if it might be all my fault. In the depths of the winter podcasts and walks I did have an epiphany one day. Everything was my fault because, well, I simply wasn’t ‘showing up’.

#showingup.

As much as this wellness industry can take credit for creating an empire of financial success and fame out of absolutely nothing except some social media platforms, a selfie stick and a DIY podcast set (and they all seem to have a producer too), I really wish they would just leave one thing alone. One thing that matters more to me as a writer than anything.

The use of the English language.

Once I heard the term, ‘showing up’ it seemed to pop up everywhere, and I listened as it was applied to all sorts of scenarios using all sorts of tenses. It was kind of like a brand new adverb, adjective, noun and verb, as useful as the ‘F’ word and probably just meaning the same thing. Apparently, things ‘show up’ for us, like passive existential experiences scattered through our day, ‘manifesting’ meaning should we wish to notice and, guess what, ‘show up’ for them. I began asking myself if I had ‘showed up’ to my walk, being my best self and was ‘showing up’ to others with this intention and purpose as well when I saw them in the street doing the same thing as me. ‘Showing up’ became a buzz term that took on a life of its own for me. It was tragically the demise of my wellness journey. I could no longer take it, thinking that my best self for that exact moment would just have to be whatever I was. No makeup, hair tied back, tracksuit pants, and an attitude that really just embraced, well, surviving until lockdown ended. Wondering if rain would ‘show up’ for me along my path to home because I didn’t wear a raincoat was, well, stupid.

I hope I have never come across to my patients over the years as somebody who relies on vacuous buzz words or catch phrases, or selling a promise of happiness based on such. If I have, I hope they didn’t go away feeling completely invalidated when actually experiencing distress. Indeed, the wellness industry has taken on a brand new form in lockdown life, a variant if you like, where positive experiences abound via our listening devices, internet memes, and our follows on the ‘gram. As for me, I am clawing back to my reality. Me, who simply loves visiting a book shop, or sitting down in a café and enjoying a coffee. Or a glass of bubbles because I can’t embrace sober curiosity. These experiences will define my second ‘Saturn Return’. Because we are, factually, living in pandemic times with complete uncertainty, we can actually just do what we can, knowing what we know each day. Nothing more can be promised. So, as a commitment to myself, I will retire the tracksuit pants and the daily walks just for now. I will never embark again on a crazy existential phase of journeying around the sun and stick to a literal one. I’ll also remain devout about the correct use of the English language.

Even if that means I might dump on your feels.

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Helen Schultz

Doing what I wanted to do ‘when I grow up’. Psychiatrist, freelance writer and author. Embarking on a writing holiday through UK and Ireland June 2023.