5 reasons to love December 2012

30/11/2012 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Solstice 2012“What is all this about December 2012?” asked a meditation student. “I’ve been hearing some scary stories about the 21st, the Solstice. Should we be worried? Should I be preparing in any way?”

“What kind of scary stories?” I asked, though I had a pretty good idea.

“Oh, that there’s going to be some kind of natural disaster. You know, the world coming to an end; the Apocalypse…I’ve been reading about it.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’m going to give you some good reasons why we should love December  2012.” And here they are…

1) December 21st 2012 is the shortest day of the year, and also the date when a long cycle in an ancient South American calendar system, known as the Mayan Calendar, comes to an end. It has been suggested that this date will bring calamity. But calendars don’t create or predict events. They simply mark the days. And in any case, a new Mayan cycle starts on December 22nd.

Borders are always significant, and this border between two vast periods of time creates a pause. Within that pause there is an opportunity for old, outmoded ways of thinking to vanish, and a new, more humane outlook to flourish. This can be good for all of us.

2) Alarmist predictions about this month can actually teach us how to tell the difference between our ungrounded fears – in this case, a fear of the unknown – and our intuition. Intuition literally means ‘in-tuition’ and it is a form of teaching. We all know that good teachers care for their students and help them to achieve their best. So true guidance, whether it’s within you, or from someone in the wider world, is reassuring and uplifting – always. Trust your guidance.

3) A date can have powerful symbolic meaning, and this can be used in good and helpful ways. So, for example, December 21st 2012 is acting as a powerful focus for the ever-growing holistic movement. This movement can be summed up as this: the realization that we are all one. Humanity is one, magnificent, glorious being who is just beginning to learn that the only person we’ve been fighting all this time is ourselves – and that when we are kind to others, we are kind to ourselves.

4) This month may truly turn out to be an Apocalypse, in a positive way.  The word ‘apocalypse’ comes from ancient Greek, and originally meant ‘uncover, reveal’. It developed an additional meaning of ‘insight’ or ‘vision’. So perhaps we are living through an apocalypse; perhaps it has already started. But this is a good thing. Over the past 12 months we’ve had covert wrong-doings exposed in people who run countries, businesses, banks and charities.  We are living in a more transparent time, and that is to be welcomed. We are also, finally, accepting our intuitive and visionary abilities, having learnt in the last century that science and logic can lead to inhumane actions on a planetary scale.  We need our insight. We need our vision.

5) Each of us can use the potential energy of this time in excellent ways. You can focus during the whole of December, and especially around the time of the Winter Solstice on the 21st, on love and peace, feeling it in your own heart, towards yourself, your family, your community, your country, and this whole beautiful planet. While you do this, you will know that countless other people are doing the same, all over the world. What we think and feel does manifest in the outer world – and the positive energy we can generate together is beautiful. Be loving to yourself, and loving to the world.

That is the real meaning of this amazing time that we are living in.

PS For your free copy of my Happiness Meditation mp3, just click here. 

The good nurturing guide

09/03/2012 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Happiness, Healing, Parenting, Wellbeing | 9 Comments
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The author and youngest child, in baby-wearing days.

‘Nurturing’ is a very ancient word, and we all know what it means… don’t we? It’s about being loving, caring, helping young ones to grow and develop. But remove centuries of common usage, and we get a much simpler concept. This is it.

‘Nurture’, ‘nutrient’, ‘nourish’ and ‘nurse’ all come from the same ancient Proto-Indo-European root: ‘nu’, or ‘snu’. That root means, quite simply, ‘to flow, to let flow, to suckle’. The Sanskrit word is very similar: ‘snauti’ means ‘she drips, gives milk’. The ancient Greek is ‘nao’, meaning: ‘I flow’.

So to nurture means, literally, the act of giving milk to an infant. That is it – nothing else.

Why does does this matter?

Because, when you give milk to an infant (and in its unfettered state this is the most marvellous, natural,  flowing feeling in the world), you give the milk, and that is it. True, you also look after the infant – the love and practical care you give them is hugely, extraordinarily important, and makes the difference between thriving and just surviving.  And it is right that we include that sense of loving care within our modern definition of nurturing.

But the actual act of giving milk – the ‘nu’ or nourishment – is one, literally, of letting go. The milk is an unconditional gift. You don’t expect the infant to do anything in particular with it. You know, and hope, that they will grow. But the way they do this is truly not in your control. Their own particular combination of genes and psyche will, along with, hopefully, a beneficial environment, create a unique and marvellous human being.

Nowadays, our notion of nurturing includes a sense of sculpting and shaping the young individual so that they grow up to be a properly socialised being. We feel a sense of responsibility to get this right. Parenting manuals and playground conversations collude to create the pressured sense that we have an awfully big role which we are highly likely, regularly, to get wrong. As the English poet Philip Larkin put it so memorably in This Be the Verse: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do/They fill you with the faults they had/And add some extra just for you.”

This past week I’ve been working on the theme of nurturing with students and clients. The pickle we humans collectively get ourselves into over this word has become very obvious to me. I have found two basic themes.

One is a sense of not being nurtured – emotionally, or perhaps nutritionally, as a child.

The other is a well-meaning and futile impulse to shape and sculpt others who are way past the infant stage.

If we take ‘nurturing’ back to its original meaning, of giving milk – or sustenance, if you will – to an infant, then these two themes of profound human disappointment take on a different colour.

When we understand that the sustenance we received – flawed though it may have been – was fundamentally an unconditional gift, then we realise that our own growth and flowering is ultimately up to ourselves, and the laws of nature. We may then choose to care for those aspects of ourselves that have been frozen in childhood patterns of trauma, want or need, and bring them to a more enlightened and happier adult reality.

When we understand that the people we know who are past the stage of infancy do not need to be nurtured by us, it lifts the most enormous burden from our shoulders. Instead of trying to fix or rescue others, we give them the respect of one grown-up for another. And frequently we find that they do flower as a result of that respect.

Nurturing is a simple act that happens in the present moment, and then is gone. Once we have given it, we no longer own it.

Isn’t that a relatively carefree feeling?

I know why the caged one dreams

26/01/2012 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Happiness, Healing, Intuition, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 4 Comments
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How can dreams come true when you’re in a cage?

There’s a quirky interiors shop in Bath, England, called Blakes. It’s eclectic. Their window display stopped me in my tracks recently: two heads, in birdcages. “May all your dreams come true” was the message on their foreheads.

But how can dreams come true when you’re in a cage? Those two cages were bothering me. They seemed to represent so much more than a window display.

Then I realised: the cage is different things for different people. In a nutshell, it’s the things that stop us from achieving our dreams.

Unless we’re enlightened, we all have cage bars around us. Here are a few of the restrictions that cage us:

* Growing up in a violent or dysfunctional family.

* Believing we’re not good enough to achieve what we want.

*Feeling we have to play a role to be acceptable to others.

*Regularly doing things we don’t want to because we feel we ought to.

Identify the cage that holds you

Take a sheet of paper, and a few minutes of your time. Draw two lines down the page, so you have three columns.

Write the word ‘Dreams’ at the top of the left-hand column. Underline it. Underneath, write down your dreams and ambitions in a list. Write them all down, as many as you can think of. All those things that in your heart of hearts you’d really love to do. Everything you’d like to experience in your life. Don’t hold back. Just write them all down.

Now, at the top of the middle column, write the word ‘Cage’.  Underline it. Then write a list of everything that is stopping you from achieving your dreams. These negative phrases are the bars of the cage that hold you. Take a good look. The cage bars are as strong as you choose them to be. We can all blame our parents, our background, our friends, our enemies, the people in authority around us… whoever we choose. But the truth is, we are always the ones who hold the keys to liberate ourselves.

The key to your freedom

Finally, at the top of the right hand column, write the word ‘Key’. Underline it. Then write a list of everything you can do to break free from the cage of your limitations, so that you can achieve your dreams. Write it all down. You are crafting the key to your freedom.

And when you have crafted your key, use it. Use it every day, to achieve your dreams.

I’ll give you an example. David is an athlete. He wrote to me: “When people look at me they just look at the image. They never see past that, to the real me.”

David’s dream, in this instance is to be seen for who he truly is. His cage is the need he feels to behave in a certain way, to conform to the athletic image.

We find our freedom when we cultivate an open heart. 

For David, the key  is simply to express himself: to speak the way he feels. He has already started doing this. And as he continues to do so, he will discover that people can at long last see the real David.

So why does the caged one dream? To be clear, we are all caged ones, and we all dream. We dream because we can: because every human being on this planet is a creative being. We can’t help it; it’s what we do.  And somewhere, deep down, we know that we can turn the key, escape our cage, and achieve our heart’s desires.

We dream, because when we set our amazing, powerful heart-minds to the task, we most certainly can be free.

 

Three Happy Moments Game

23/11/2011 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Happiness, Parenting, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 1 Comment
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The unexpected fragrance of a flower as you pass by.

This is a great game to share with a child, partner or friend at the end of the day. And it’s guaranteed to make the toughest days seem better…

Simply take it in turns to share a first happy moment that happened during the day; then a second; then a third. Choose anything that comes to mind; they don’t have to follow chronological order. Here are some examples:

* seeing a tree with brightly coloured leaves, with the sun shining through them

* a letter containing good news

* thoughtful praise from a colleague

* sharing a laugh with a friend

* seeing your child’s face light up when you picked them up from school

* a blissful half-hour of meditation

* the unexpected fragrance of flowers as you walked by.

* a healthy work-out at the gym, or a yoga practice.

Over time, you get a very clear idea of the things that make you and your loved ones happy. And the more you focus on those, the more often those happy things happen. This is a win-win game.

Dream school: learn while you sleep

29/09/2011 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Intuition, Uncategorized, Wellbeing | 2 Comments
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Ask for solutions to come to you in the night, while you sleep.

Mary was a new client who was struggling with a new course that she’d started. “The problem is my memory,” she told me. “I just don’t remember things as well as I used to.”

I told her to stop trying and start relaxing. “That’s all very well for you to say,” she retorted. “But this situation is making me feel stressed. How can I possibly relax?”

So this is what I told her. Maybe it will be useful for you too…

Before you go to sleep at night, while you are lying in bed, ask for the most suitable expert that could possibly exist to help you with your memory, or the subject which you are learning. Ask for expert tuition in this subject while you sleep. Thank the expert, feeling happy in the knowledge that you will get the help you need.

Then… go to sleep.

In the morning when you wake up you may or may not remember any dreams. That doesn’t matter. You will, however, find your learning goes more smoothly. Repeat, at night, for any specific help that you require.

Mary reported back a few days later. “I don’t know how it works, but it does,” she said. “It’s as if I’m using another part of my brain to help me. I almost feel as though I already know what I’m learning.”

Mary now frequently attends dream school while she sleeps. And so can you.

How to trust your intuition

06/09/2011 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Intuition is about not trying to force your way through a locked window or door.

“I don’t trust my intuition” is something I hear again and again from new clients. It’s not really surprising – when we were growing up it was standard practice to teach children to ignore their innermost feelings, in favour of what they ‘should’ be thinking.

Luckily, times have changed. In-tuition – our internal tuition – is now highly valued by many of the world’s most successful people. To give one example, not long before Tim Cook became the CEO of Apple, he gave a talk to young graduates at his old university, in which he urged them to work hard, be prepared… and then trust their intuition over logic or plans.

“There are times in our lives when the careful consideration of cost and benefits just doesn’t seem like the right way to make a decision,” said Cook. “There are times in all of our lives when a reliance on gut or intuition just seems more appropriate – when a particular course of action just feels right. And interestingly I’ve discovered it’s in facing life’s most important decisions that intuition seems the most indispensable to getting it right.”

In fact, if you want to be successful, you need your intuition. Period. So how do you trust it? Here’s how.

Stop being a busy bee hitting your head against a window

How many times have you seen this? A bee has flown into the room. It’s trying to get out through a closed window. Again, and again, it buzzes angrily and bangs its head against the glass.

The glass is the barrier to a solution. The busy, buzzing bee is your brain. If you are stuck for a solution, walk away from it. Stop thinking about it. Sleep on it. If you don’t have time for that, sit still, focus on your breath, and meditate.

When you calm your busy brain, you allow the answer to bubble up in your consciousness.  For the bee, the solution is an open door that happens to be near the frustrating window. For you, it’s an elegant new solution that you would never have reached by going through the same old thought processes.

Intuition is about having the courage to step back, to find a new open door.

Spot the ‘Ah-ha’ moments

When the right solution, or pathway, bubbles up in your mind – it’s an ‘Ah-ha!’ moment. Make a note of that feeling – every time you feel it. Eventually, with lots of practice, you’ll spot the ‘Ah-ha’ feeling in its earliest stages, so you won’t necessarily have to go to sleep or meditate.

When you get really good, you’ll just have to switch attention away from the problem or dilemma, take a deep breath or two… and let that ah-ha moment pop up.

 

Clean up your psyche

Imagine that our buzzing bee does eventually decide to fly away from the closed window. But the room is absolutely full of stuff: furniture and junk. The bee gets stuck in a corner somewhere, buzzing sadly away, its wings all dusty, between a cushion and a drawer… how will the bee ever find that open door?

Imagine, now, that the room is sparkling clean and full of space. The bee flies about it easily, and finds the open door very quickly. The junk in that room is actually the stuff that we carry about with us: old, stuck emotions and memories… We’re talking about the difficult, painful experiences from childhood onwards that we have blocked off because we didn’t know what to do with them at the time, so we just stuck them in a drawer somewhere in our psyche.

If you want to trust your intuition, you have to clear the room that is your psyche – regularly. Give it a really good spring-clean, and then vacuum and dust it regularly. How do you do that? There are many ways:

• Find a notebook or an art pad and start expressing your thoughts and feelings.

• Keep a dream journal and record all the dreams that you remember – dreams are the psyche’s natural way of sorting out all the junk.

• Detox the body physically with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

• Visit a holistic practitioner, such as a healer or intuition consultant who specialises in clearing emotional junk and helping you to reconnect with your inner knowledge.

The work is worth it, because your intuition is an invaluable, golden friend, a guide that can take you to your most authentic desires – and give you loads of fun along the way.

Tim Cook again: “In turning important decisions over to intuition one has to give up on the idea of developing a life plan that will bear any resemblance to what ultimately unfolds. Intuition is something that occurs in the moment, and if you are open to it. If you listen to it it has the potential to direct or redirect you in a way that is best for you.”

Try it and see.

Enhance your intuition

30/08/2011 at 10:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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Being intuitive is an essential survival skill. It can help you to find and keep a good partner, friends and career. It can help you to be healthy, wealthy and happy.

Intuitive people can read other people and situations clearly. Not choosing to use your intuition is a bit like walking around with your head in a cloud. You can see, but only  a bit.

So here are some easy strategies to help you. Remember: the more you practise, the better you become.

Get out of your own way

Sarah, a lady I know, has no luck with men. She would love to settle down, but boyfriends never stick around for long.

The trouble is, she has an internal voice that constantly tells her she’s not good enough. This voice comes from a mother and a sister who bullied her: she was always viewed as the clumsy, unattractive one.

Sarah’s low self-esteem means that she accepts dates from anyone who asks her. She tries too hard to please, and blames herself when the relationship fizzles out.

So Sarah needs to address the core problem and throw out the outdated program that says she’s not good enough. She needs to stop listening to her own self-defeating internal voice, and start noticing what’s going on around her.

Then she will quickly understand a lot more about the men she meets. She’ll see which ones have a kind smile and interesting conversation… and she’ll start making much better choices.

Notice your inner critic

We all have a self-defeating inner voice that likes to comment on everything we do – it’s the voice of our ego. The best way to identify it is to sit still for 20 minutes and do a listening meditation. Simply listen to all the sounds you hear, within and around you.

Before long, you will become aware of some very noisy thoughts. These are often stressed, critical thoughts. That’s your inner critic. It’s not real, and it gets in the way of true perception. Once you recognize it, the inner critic will lose its power to influence you.

Become great at spotting an atmosphere

I have a friend I love to visit. There’s something about her house that makes me feel calm and happy. I know another lady whose house has the opposite effect. Although she, and her house, appear tidy and  nice, the atmosphere is prickly and rather unpleasant.

Noticing atmospheres around people and in buildings is really important. If you don’t already, make a habit of it now. The atmosphere tells you what’s really going on in another person’s life, underneath the social smiles.

You can become very good at spotting if someone is happy or stressed. You can even tell if they talk about others behind their back. You can then make an informed decision about your friendship with that person: whether to help them – or perhaps spend less time with them.

The same holds true for the atmosphere in a work place, or course. Noticing a bad vibe in a job interview can save you making a costly career mistake. On the other hand, spotting a great atmosphere in a company offering less pay could end up being better for your bank balance.

It all comes down to practice: build up a vocabulary to describe the different environments you encounter, and over time you’ll become an expert.

 

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