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Gill - Penninghame Process Case Study

by Gill Stanyard(more info)

listed in personal growth, originally published in issue 228 - February 2016

My little sister recently told me that her earliest memories always involved me being angry, very angry. When I look back, I can see what she means. I was incredibly frustrated and distressed as a kid. I felt as if I had been drawn out of pencil. A feint grey outline, not very strong and subject to being erased.

I couldn't get my voice heard above all the shouting and smashing of my parents, so I retreated into the world of reading books -to try and find out how other kids survived. It was a hit and miss affair. I was fiercely jealous of  the comforting life of Joyce Brisley's character, Milly Molly Mandy and her loving family -I wanted to shred her candy striped dress and steal her bangle. As an adult, I still found books were easier companions than humans, they didn't let you down, if you got to a boring or scary part, you could just skip a few pages.  You couldn't do that with people. I was lonely though, the library closed at 7pm every day and on Sundays,  and I was not on good speaking terms with myself.

Penninghame House

My loneliness sent out it's searchlight and I got a response from a kindred loner. We temporarily lost our loneliness in the drama of a violent and dysfunctional relationship. I relaxed in the familiarity of the chaos of angry words and empty bottles and froze on the reassuring ledge of a  bullying atmosphere. I grew smaller and less sure of myself, and all my attempts at hiding myself behind different masks, such as a student, a worker, a girlfriend, an adventurer, failed, as the paranoia and greyness seeped through. Gradually the sleeping dragon of depression awoke beneath my feet and I became roasted with hot, intrusive thoughts of suicide. Luckily I had a very understanding GP and he referred me for 6 weeks of counselling. Talking helped, like droplets of cooling rain, being heard and seen through a kind and loving gaze, refreshed me and enabled me to develop a little hope. Then a few years later,  I met my current partner. It was he who saw the advert for Penninghame and we both decided to go.

Penninghame gave me what I had been searching for - a voice, permission to be me and a green light to feel. The dragon crumpled under the ferocity of my anger. I began to trust in people -started to see that every time I expressed myself, allowing myself to be who I  truly was, I gained a little hue in colour. I began to enjoy being a part of life. By the end of the week, I had become a full 3d being, full of life and fire to bring light, rather than to burn.

Penninghame House

I went back to assist others on their process, so eager to encourage and help bring out the light in others. Then I attended Step 2 - a deepening of my relationship with myself, which enabled me to understand the significance of taking personal responsibility -becoming responsible for what occurred in my life, not at fault. Penninghame  for me was a  lamp in the darkness, which when lit, reflected the light within me-I just had to get my shadow out of the way first. I still get angry, though these days I quite enjoy it.

Further Information

Penninghame is running a number of courses throughout 2016: Saturday 2 April – Friday 8 April; Saturday 10 September – Friday 16 September; Saturday 29 October – Friday 4 November. To find out more information about the courses, please visit .


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About Gill Stanyard

Gill Stanyard has always been a seeker. From the age of eighteen when she went from living in a hostel for homeless young people to raising money for a place on a Raleigh International expedition in Namibia, she has always tried to live a life of no limitations. She has studied many subjects, initially studying Social Work at Plymouth University. A turning point came for her when she was hit by a car on the way back from working a nightshift at a psychiatric hospital in Glasgow. She left her life as it was and began anew in Dumfries and Galloway, at a therapeutic community for people recovering from mental health problems. She lived and worked there for two years, where she began her journey into the spiritual layer of life. This is where she learnt about the teachings of the Buddha, meditation, yoga assertive and authentic communication – a survival skill in communal life.

Gill is fascinated by expression and empowerment. She believes in everyone finding a way to be heard and have a voice. Gill likes to be independent and creative, runs her own model called Blue Skies Venture –  offering people a brighter life through group walking/talking followed by a stimulating and feel-good session of shared reading aloud of literature and poetry which reflects the human condition. She is passionate about the human experience, especially our relationship with spirit and ourselves. Currently she studies Shamanism and is also a trainee Psychotherapist. She has also just completed an International Certificate in Leadership with the Institute of Leadership and Management. She puts this to good use as a Non- Exec Director for the NHS. She may be contacted via Penninghame House on Tel: 01671 401414; Fax: 01671 401410;

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