“Do not confuse peace of mind with spaced-out insensitivity. A truly peaceful mind is very sensitive, very aware.” – Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)

peace of mind

We all want peace of mind. But how do you cultivate peace of mind in midst of a hectic day? In this post I’ll give you some strategies for remaining calm and centred, even when the world around you seems to be in a spin.

The busier and more chaotic our lives get the more likely we are to let our unconscious mind do all our thinking for us. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that we will experience an ‘outside-in’ version of the world, i.e. we mistakenly believe that it is what is happening to us on the outside that is responsible for how we feel on the inside.

When life is hectic and it feels as though we have a million things to do it can genuinely feel as though the world is racing and that we have our work cut out to keep up with it. Of course the truth is that the world is going at exactly the same speed it has always been traveling at. The only variable that changes from moment to moment is the quality and speed at which we rattle through our thoughts, giving us the perception that we are living in either fast time or slow time.

Have you ever been on a train that is sat stationary at the platform and felt as though you were already moving because the train next to you started to pull away? Well, that is how we often experience our thinking. The reality is that we are just human beings having thoughts in a relatively still world, but those thoughts can create the illusion that we are being swept away in the fast moving current of our busy lives.

So, one of the things I will often recommend to clients is that they build moments of peacefulness into their routine. There are two reasons for this. The first is that there are undeniable benefits to health and wellbeing that accompany the act of deliberate relaxation, particularly if their busy lives feel stressful to them. The second is that by taking time to enjoy a moment of peace, it becomes a lot easier to see the link between thought and feeling, which inevitably creates a doorway to a deeper and wiser level of understanding.

We might think that in order to keep on top of our immense ‘to do’ list we have to throw all of our focus and energy into keeping those plates spinning, but often the effect of that is just to become overwhelmed and less resourceful. The feeling of overwhelm is not so much caused by the length of your ‘to do’ list or the number of spinning plates you have on the go, but by what you are afraid it might mean if you don’t keep up.

That fear is just a thought that feels real.

That is not to say that whether you complete your tasks or not doesn’t have consequences, but by definition, at this moment in time, those consequences are only imagined possible outcomes that have not taken place in reality. The fact is we can never know ahead of time how anything will really pan out, so all we can do is bring our best selves to the table to give ourselves the greatest chances of success. But it is hard to be our best, most resourceful selves all the time we are held captive to the imagined pressure of our own busyness.

A great antidote to the stress of hectic living is to practice a regular relaxation routine, such as meditation or guided visualisation. However, I know the reason many busy people do not indulge in these kinds of activities, even though they would love to, is the belief that it requires an investment of yet more of their time and energy. They are likely to say:

“Meditation! Seriously? Have you seen my life? Just when do you think I’m going to get the time to meditate. Nice idea, but dream on!”

So, to make the benefits mediation more accessible to exceptionally busy people I’d like to make a distinction between the act of meditation and the meditative state.

The act of meditation does require you to take a few moments out of your day, to sit quietly and remain peacefully still, just breathing and connecting to a higher level of consciousness. Over time and with practice your ability to let go of your stressful thoughts and to just experience the present moment becomes easier and more effortless. This alone is a wonderful way to refresh your senses and gain a renewed healthy perspective on your current situation. The paradox is that by investing the time into de-stressing and reconnecting to your innate wellbeing you actually become far more resourceful and are able to operate more efficiently in the time you have remaining. In other words, you will get more done in less time to a higher standard.

I’m reminded of a quote. I don’t remember it verbatim or who it is attributed to (possibly Gandhi), but it goes:

“I have such a lot to accomplish today I’m going to have to meditate for twice as long.”

It is important to remember, though, that the purpose of meditating is not simply to engage in the ACT of meditation; it is to experience the meditative state. We all naturally fluctuated in our levels of awareness throughout the day and the meditative state is just a heightened level of awareness that you can access any place, anytime, anywhere; even smack bang in the middle of your busy day. It is not necessary for you to adopt the lotus position and you certainly don’t have to hum!

If you can take 20 to 30 minutes each day to sit and meditate or be guided through a relaxing visualisation (sign up for the free ecourse for audio to help you do this) then I would absolutely recommend that you do that, but if you can’t, or simply don’t want to, then you can still experience the benefits of the meditative state while you go about your daily activities. All you need to do is draw your awareness to your senses and to become mindful of whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time; to just get really present.

There are a couple of strategies that I want to share with you to help you have greater peace of mind in the midst of a chaotic schedule.

1. Mindfulness

The best way I can describe mindfulness is that it is what happens when all of your senses get really curious about what you are doing.

So let’s say that you are typing at your computer. The first step would be to pause and to take a slow deep breath, clear you head and let your body release any tension it may have a been feeling. Then, you would start to become aware of what you are aware ofl with each of your senses, such as the weight of your body pressing down into the chair, the feel of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of the air, your fingertips on the keyboard, everything you can see in your primary and peripheral vision, all of the sounds you can hear, both obvious and subtle…

The more you simply notice and experience whatever happens to be in your sensory reality, in that moment, the more grounded in the present you will become. It is fascinating that any feelings of stress or anxiety are likely to naturally dissipate as the frame of mind that was keeping them alive gives way to the peace of the Now. It is also amazing how much more ‘task focus’ you are able to bring as you resume your work with a clear head and comfortable body.

2. ‘The Only Thing in the World’

Once you are more centred and grounded in the present, the second strategy is one that I call ‘The only thing in the world’. The premise of this is that you set yourself the intention that whatever it is you are about to do, you are going to do it like it really, REALLY matters and that it is the only thing in the world that needs your attention in that very moment.

So again, if you are typing, you would continue to be quietly mindful of your sensory experience whilst allowing your creative mind to effortlessly focus on the best, most appropriate words to type in order to convey your message perfectly. In that moment nobody wants anything, nobody expects anything from you and there is nothing whatsoever for you do except to type like it really matters.

If the thought of focusing on just one task to the exclusion of every other task that has also made it to number one on your priority list freaks you out, then it is good to remind yourself that no matter what happens you can only physically do one thing at a time anyway. As soon as you’re done with whatever is front you, the next thing you turn to will become the only thing in the world that needs your attention. The key is to just continue being mindful of the present moment.

If you think you will need a bit of practice trying out these strategies, a fun time to do it is when you are washing up. The next time you are about to do the dishes take a deep breath, relax your body and get present with all of your senses. Then meticulously clean each of those dishes like it is the most important thing in the world. I also suspect that your unconscious will accept this as a beautiful metaphor for cleansing the mind.
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HOMEWORK
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Think about your schedule for the next week decide ahead of time where and when you will have the intention of being mindful and present as you go about your work.

As you experiment with these strategies, please do come and tell me what your observations have been at the Life Happens Facebook page.
Take great care. Namaste.

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“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

beauty of life

The beauty of life can been found everywhere (even in the most expected places) but you have to open to seeing it. In this post I’ll share with you the source of where beauty comes from, and why it is relevant to living a happy and inspired life.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is a notion that has always intrigued me greatly. We all have moments, every so often, in which we ponder deep philosophical questions, like, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ or ‘Does a falling tree make any sound if there is no one there to hear it?’ While we can go round and round in our heads never really getting to the bottom of these issues, it’s still interesting and fun just to investigate the riddle.

One of the questions that I seem to have spent a good chunk of my down time contemplating is, ‘Why is it that certain things appear beautiful to some people and not others?’ I don’t know if I’ll ever find an answer that truly satisfies my curiosity (and I’m ok with that), but there is something that has occurred to me that I think is relevant to each of us, in terms of the amount of beauty we get experience in our lives; it is this:

The extent to which we notice and appreciate true beauty in our lives is proportionate to the amount of time we spend hanging out in our own wellbeing.

Or to put it another way; when we are at peace with ourselves, the world seems to be a more beautiful place.

Or to put is yet another way; I’ve rarely heard a stressed out person describe their situation or surroundings as a delight to behold!

The Beauty of Life

When we are connected to the innate wellness that is part of the fabric of our true authentic selves, we have a tendency to see beauty everywhere. Have you ever found yourself relaxing in a quiet spot, observing your environment though a wider lens than you would ordinarily look through on an average day, just noticing the perfect flow of life? How easy it is, in that peaceful state, to pick out intricate details of your surroundings that you may never have noticed before? And have you also found that, for some reason, it brings a kind of contented smile to your face?

Beauty and wellbeing are interconnected. In the same way that ink needs a blank page in order for words to be written, beauty needs a peaceful state of mind in order for it to be truly appreciated.

When we are caught up in our thinking we are more inclined to experience the world through the filters of our preconceived judgements and beliefs, and often the beauty of life is invisible to us. It has not gone anywhere; we just don’t have the eyes to see it.

Of course, I’m not referring only to beautiful things that we perceive visually; beauty is much deeper than that. Beauty can found in everything, from sights and sounds, to concepts and feelings. For me, beauty is as much a spiritual experience as it is a sensory one, but wherever we believe it to exist, it does require us to be present and open to receiving.

When we live life from the outside-in (that is, when we let what happens on the outside of us determine how we feel in the inside) we let our egos subjectively decide what is to be beautiful to us, or not. But when we live from the inside-out, from our essential selves, beauty can be a quality that is experienced in all things; even the mundane.

Something that I find particularly beautiful is a sunset. I’m usually captivated by them. Now, I say ‘usually’ because I know that it has not always been the case. Most of the time when I look at a sunset it takes my breath away; I am filled with awe and I am humbled by the marvels of the natural world. To me, it can be like appreciating a priceless work of art that has been painted across the vast canvas of the sky. Other times though, when I’ve caught sight of a sunset, it hasn’t really done that much for me at all. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind about sunsets being beautiful; it is just that for whatever reason, in that moment, I am not at the right level of consciousness to be emotionally moved by it.

So we could say, then, that the difference that makes the difference in whether I see the beauty in a sunset or not, is my state of mind. I realise that when I am relaxed and at peace within myself, my attention will be drawn like a magnet to a fiery red sky, and my enjoyment of its beauty will be effortless. But if I am caught up in my own thinking; believing my stressful thoughts, or experiencing tension in my body, a beautiful sunset is likely to come and go, and I will hardly notice it. It will be as if, in that moment, the pictures and the sounds I am making up in my head are louder and more vivid than what is actually going on around me. But that doesn’t mean that the opportunity to experience the beauty isn’t up for grabs.

The point I’m making here is that every moment of every day we are immersed in the opportunity to connect to the beauty of our lives, and the only thing we need to do is to become quiet and still, and be open to experiencing it; be that in what we see, what we hear, what we touch, or even who we are with.

I believe that the world and the Universe (and therefore life itself) is an inherently beautiful place, regardless of whether we are open to seeing it or not. I also believe that the only thing that can ever stand in the way of our appreciating the beauty that exists all around us is our own thinking.

Regular readers will know I have written many times about the innate nature of wellbeing; that we are all born with our wellbeing already inside us and that it never goes anywhere, despite our innocent attempts to cover it up with the hypnotic power of our own thinking. Whenever our thoughts slow right down, we naturally relax and become more peaceful. That is when our wellbeing bubbles up to the surface, like a beach ball popping up and out of a swimming pool the second we let go of our efforts to keep it held down beneath the water’s surface.

So, why is it that wellbeing comes up when we calm down? Because that is the way the Universe works. Everything in the Universe, including us, is born out of the same principles of creation, and it all functions perfectly according to universal laws. The overriding quality of the Universe is that it exists in perfect harmony with itself. The only thing that is out of harmony with the rest of the Universe is the ability we have developed to think of ourselves as being separate entities. Thinking too much causes us to distance ourselves from the peace that is naturally all around us. When we let go of our thoughts, that connection is re-established in the form a sense of inner calm and wellness, which points us in the direction of noticing the beauty of life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up nicely when he said,

“Though we travel the world to find the beauty, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Here is what occurs to me when I think about that statement. The reason we see so much beauty in the world when we are in a peaceful state of mind is because our innate wellbeing is, itself, the true essence of beauty. So really, the beauty we experience around us is actually our own inner beauty being reflected back.

So I guess a more accurate way of saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, would be, “beauty is in the ‘I’ of the beholder.”

If wellbeing is the essence of beauty, and wellbeing is innate, then you, by definition, are innately beautiful. Accept it!
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HOMEWORK
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Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to see how much beauty you are capable of perceiving around you.

As a suggestion, why not go for a walk around your local neighbourhood and look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time.

Take the time to walk slowly and deliberately; feeling the ground beneath your feet and the air on your skin. Breathe deeply and, as best you can, clear your mind, expand your vision, and simply take in as much of the detail as that there is to notice.

Rather than seeing familiar objects with their usual labels attached to them (house, car, tree, grass, pavement, bird…), experience them all as if they were nameless and part of one perfect whole.

Pay curious attention to the interplay of shapes and form, colours and textures, sounds and sensations. Look out for beauty wherever it maybe.

I’ve no doubt that, if you’re willing, you will begin to experience beauty in the most unlikely places: perhaps in the cracks in the pavement, or in the bark of a tree, or in the sound of a passing car, or even in the colour of a piece of discarded litter.

As the beauty of everyday life reveals itself to you, don’t forget to smile, because really it is your wellbeing that you are experiencing, and it is you who are beautiful.

 

Take great care. Namaste.

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“Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

happyA concept I often hear from people who are struggling to connect to a greater sense of happiness in their lives, is that they believe they would be much happier if it weren’t for the actions and attitudes of other people.

This covers a multitude of sins. For some it is the frustration of other people acting in unjust, uncaring, self-centred ways. For others, it is that their nearest and dearest are not understanding enough, or are thoughtless, or are disrespectful of options other than their own.

I hear comments like, “How am I supposed to be happy when they are being like that?” or “I try my best to be happy but they make me so mad.”

It is very intriguing; the amount of people who come to me asking for guidance on how they can get other people to change, so that they can be happy. That is not something I have ever been able to help with, nor will it ever be.

As a coach, I can only help the person I’m with. All I can do (and all that is ever required) is to reconnect each individual to their own wellbeing and to help them see that they are the cause of their own happiness, not other people or things.

If there is one principle that underpins just about every aspect of my work, it would be that everybody’s wellbeing is an innate part of their nature. There are no exceptions. Wellbeing is innate and it never leaves us, contrary to the notion that we can often feel like it does.

Whenever we think that our wellbeing has packed its bags and gone for a hike, the truth of the matter is that we are just masking it with our stressful thoughts.

We know that on a cloudy day the sun still exists, even if we can’t see it or feel its warmth. Our wellbeing works in the same way. The moment we drop our stressful thinking, it is like the clouds dissipate so that the warm light can radiate through once more.

We never have to work at re-creating the sun, because it never really goes anywhere.

But we’ve not been taught to think that way. We’ve learned that wellbeing is transactional.

We’ve had a life time of conditioning that has taught us that our emotional experiences are intrinsically linked to what goes on around us. And a big part of that has to do with other people; what they think, what they say and what they do.

If they behave in ways that are in conflict with how we think they should be behaving – or if they seem to be attacking us for not seeing things the same way they do – we suffer. We suffer because we’ve learned to believe that our happiness is dependent on agreement.

This has been going on for years. As children we quickly recognised that there were rules to follow, if we wanted to hold on to a sense of safety and belonging. When we did what we were told, all was well. And when we were naughty, or pushed the boundaries, we were punished and brought back into line.

The moment an infant start to become aware that he or she is sharing this world with other beings, they cannot help but assume their feelings are the result of what those other beings do. They are so dependent.

But prior to that awareness they are simply little bundles of pure wellbeing. As long as they are not hungry or uncomfortable they are at peace; completely in touch with their innate wellness.

Have you ever noticed how babies don’t need therapy?

This powerful, infantile idea that other people are the cause for our wellbeing is why so many of us spend our lives looking outside of ourselves in order to get it back.

This manifests itself in one of two ways. Either, we focus our efforts on trying to control and manipulate others into being the way we want them to be, or we are constantly trying to please them; going along with their desires at the expense of own. Whichever strategy we adopt, our intention is the same; to be reunited with our own wellbeing.

If wellbeing actually did work that way then this would all seem perfectly logical. I please you; you reward me with a good feeling. You please me; I return the favour.

But it doesn’t work like that.

The moment we get that our wellbeing is not, and never has been, anything other than an absence of our own stressful thinking, we are finally free to see our true nature. We are the cause of our own emotional experiences.

When we feel insecure, that is our insecure thinking at work. When we feel love, it is because of our loving thoughts. When you feel happy, sad, angry or joyful… that is an inside job.

When the mind is clear of all thought, the only thing you are left with is the peaceful innate wellbeing you were born with. It is like a quiet flute faintly playing against the din of a big brass band. To hear the flute, we don’t need it to play louder; we need the rest of the band to pipe down for a bit.

There is such a beautiful simplicity to it. It is so kind. You can be connected to your wellbeing and happiness whenever you want, and you don’t even have to do anything to get it; just be still and see that it is your thoughts that have been distracting you from the truth.

In fact, living with your stressful thoughts is like walking around with a close up magician all day long. Even though you know it is just a trick, you still keep getting caught out. You might think:

“Oh no, my partner’s not happy, I have to feel bad too!” and then it can dawn you, “Doh! Fell for it again. It is just my thoughts tricking me.”

And with the openness that follows, realise that you can be of greater service to them, and yourself, when you come from a space of peace, love and compassion, rather than stress and confusion.
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HOMEWORK
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Spend some quality time with yourself, reflecting on the important relationships in your life. Notice where and when you have been making other people the custodian of your happiness.

Asking yourself these questions may help you get clear:

• Who have I needed to be happy in order for me to be happy?
• What have I been wanting other people to do in order for me to be happy?
• How have I wanted them to change?
• Who have I blamed for making me feel bad?
• Who have I been trying to please?

As you identify areas of your life where you have been making your happiness dependent on the actions and attitudes of others, notice how much effort that has required from you. What has that cost you in terms of energy and peace of mind?

Now, I’d like to invite you to relax to look inside.

Begin by acknowledging yourself for the positive intention you’ve had for attempting to connect to your wellbeing this way. Then, with a sense of peace and inner knowing, recognise that there is a part of you that has always been well, regardless of whatever has been going on in the outside.

Pay attention to where that wellness resides, and let it begin to spread throughout your whole body, as if you are smiling from the inside out. Stick with that authentic experience and really feel it.

Then, from this space, think about how you will reclaim responsibility for your own happiness in each of those areas you thought about. Imagine how wonderful your life could be when you cut out ‘the happiness middleman’ and decide to feel good on your own terms.
Take great care. Namaste.

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“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

beginningWhen I moved to London several years ago I didn’t really know the place at all. I’d visited a few times with my family for the odd touristy day out but still didn’t know my way around. So when it came to living and working here I knew I had quite a bit of learning to do.

I remember one day arriving at Waterloo Station wondering how to get to Aldermanbury, where I was due to start a new job. I had a vague idea but wasn’t sure about the quickest or most effective means of getting there. So I did what I thought was quite a sensible thing to do (particularly for a man). I asked someone! I approached a smart-suited, professional looking chap in the belief that he was probably a city worker and therefore bound to be able to help.

“Excuse me,” I said, “I’m not from around here. Please can you tell me the best or quickest way to get to Aldermanbury?”

He looked thoughtfully up into the air and pondered for what seemed like an age, and then replied, “Well to be honest with you, I wouldn’t start from here”.

“Thanks,” I thought, “what a rubbish piece of advice!”

The reason that little encounter has always stuck with me is because I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how many people go about trying to achieve a better life for themselves. They may have an idea of where it is they want to get to, but find it hard to take a step in the right direction because they resist the notion of having to start from where they are.

I’ve come to realise over the years that people can only experience dissatisfaction with their life when they believe that their situation should be different to how it actually is. I’ve noticed it with just about every client I’ve ever work with and I’ve certainly experienced it multiple times in my own life. Whilst I’ve helped a ton people work through an array of diverse and unique issues, the conversation that takes place time and time again is the one that invites us to accept reality just the way it is right now, before figuring out what to do next.

What we call ‘the stress of life’ rarely has anything to do with what’s actually going on, and has everything do with our thoughts and interpretations of what’s going on. As Human Beings we don’t ever get to experience the ‘real world’, we only get to experience our own thinking.

If we are unhappy with where we are right now, the cause of the feeling will be rooted in the thought that there is some other place we’d rather be. Or, if we are feeling stuck, that can only be due to the thought that there is a direction we are supposed to be heading in, otherwise there would be no reason to be unstuck.

When we contrast this with the way human experience really works, the only place we can ever get to is right here, right now. Thinking that we are supposed to be anywhere other than right here, right now can literally drive us bonkers.

The most stressful strategy we can adopt for motivating ourselves to change our situation (and don’t worry if you’ve been doing this, most of us have at one time or another) is to direct our emotional energy toward hating the way things are. We convince ourselves that if we can just muster up a strong enough loathing for our current landscape then we will be compelled to take massive action and finally break free from everything that has been holding us back.

There are a few reasons why this is a crappy way of doing things. Not least that it seldom works!
How many times have you heard people complain about how bad some aspect of their life is and yet months, if not years, later absolutely nothing has changed? Over time they just got used to feeling bad; they habituated into their negativity, which not only set them on a path of blaming and complaining, it also shut them off to the kind of inspired thinking they would have needed to turn their ‘right here, right now’ into something better.

In my experience there are three kinds of thought that can cause us to feel dissatisfied with where we are at:

1 – Thoughts about expectation

2 – Thoughts about purpose

3 – Thoughts along the lines of, “Anything would be better than this”

Thoughts about expectation are where we cast judgement on ourselves for how we are currently doing compared to a story we’ve been sold. All of our lives we’ve had the bar set for us by our parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, advertisers, glossy mags, even OURSELVES, with regards to the standards and accomplishments we should have reached by this point in our lives. It is where we measure the distance between who we think we are versus who think we should be and then allow the size of the gap (or chasm in some cases) to proportionately dictate how anxious we should be feeling.

Thoughts about purpose are when we get the idea into our heads that we are wasting our lives by not doing the things we would rather be doing to make a positive difference in the world and to make our lives count. It is where we feel that our circumstances and outside influences are preventing us from living our ‘true north’, leaving us stewing in frustration and resentment. The most common reason why this becomes a lingering issue for people is that they make ‘living their purpose’ dependant on a specific set of criteria having to be met.

If you ever wanted to feel really frustrated with your life then I absolutely recommend setting it up in such a way that you cannot be truly happy until you have enough money, energy, creativity, opportunity, support or freedom to do live it out in the specific way you’ve always imagined.

Thoughts that resemble “Anything would be better than this” are what crop up we are not connected to a purpose or direction and have no idea what it is that we want. What we do know, though, is that we’re not having fun right now and attribute that to whatever is happening on the outside. “I’m not happy and, although I’m not entirely sure why that is, it must have something to do with my job, or my boss, or my partner, or my location, so I want to change it all. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to change it to; I just know I’ll be happier when it’s different”. The phrase that springs to mind here is – It doesn’t matter where you go, there you’ll be.

Whenever we think these kinds of thoughts we feel stress. But the only stressful element to it is the thought itself. If nothing changed in our situation other than we were suddenly unable to think those kinds of thoughts, we would simply be people living the lives we’ve got. No comparison, no judgement, no stress.

What I know won’t work is to ask to you not to think those thoughts. As far as I can tell you don’t control that (at least not without years of meditative training); it’s just what the mind does. The smartest and kindest thing you can do to move towards the life you want, is to start by accepting and valuing your currently reality exactly the way it is. Right here, right now is the only place you’ll ever need to get to.

The starting point for any journey will never not be where you already are. As we travel through life we learn that no matter how far we get, we never leave the present. We never leave and yet we are constantly arriving.
To live with the thought that your life is not supposed to be exactly the way it is right now is to be disconnected from the most integral part of the route map of your journey; the beginning.

How do I know you are exactly where you are supposed to be? Because you’re not anywhere else.

So what is the stress-free formula for turning ‘right here, right now’ into a place you would love to hang out? Let’s take a look as I explain your homework for this session.

 

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HOMEWORK
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There is a big difference between how you show up in the world when you are trying to prove the circumstances of your life are holding you back and how you show up when you are coming from a place of inspired service. Service in this context simply means giving your best self to the world in this very moment.

There are three ingredients that help things along nicely:

1- Knowledge of how you would like to feel if ‘right here, right now’ were already the happy place you want it to be.

2- An understanding of how you would think and behave differently with that feeling as your guide. How would you treat yourself and how would you interact with others.

3- Patience.

I invite you to take each of these ingredients and add them into the mix of your life straight away.

The instant you “assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled” and operate from that space, the present moment has a habit of transforming in the most wonderful ways.

Initially you’ll notice that nothing has changed and yet everything is different. Over time, with patience, you’ll realise that not only can you peacefully go after whatever it is you want to create in your life, but you can also stay happy, regardless of how the scenery changes along the way.
Take great care. Namaste.

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“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?” – The Buddha

letting goIsn’t it funny how it is possible to think back to a younger version of you and feel as though that was a completely different person?

You might remember some of the thoughts or opinions you used to vigorously uphold that are polar opposites of what you believe in now.

Perhaps this is because of the real life experiences you’ve since been through; or you’ve learned something more truthful; or maybe you’ve just changed your mind about certain things in life (that’s ok, you’re allowed!!). But whatever it means to you, this fascinating ability we all have for re-inventing the base from which we think is fundamental to our potential for growth and development.

I wonder what you will believe in five years time that is different to what you believe today!

Just knowing that what we are thinking now may not be what we think later opens up a space to be curious about what is currently driving our thoughts (and therefore our emotional wellbeing), and just how important – or not – that really is. After all, what was once very important to you might now be just an insignificant detail. So it stands to reason that what seems to be of great importance now may not matter nearly as much to you in the future.

In my adolescence I was an expert grudge holder (now that does feel like a completely different person!). If I found something upsetting, confusing or difficult, my immediate reaction would be to look for whatever was outside of me to blame. If someone had done wrong by me, either in reality or in my imagination, I was pretty adept at over inflating my negative emotions towards them and feeling victimised by their obvious vendetta to make me feel worthless!

As I got older though it dawned on me, partly through education and partly through self-realisation, that whenever I found myself in a low mood, the cause of that was far less to do with what was actually going on and far more to do with the quality of the thoughts I was having about what was going on.

One of the most powerful principles of thought I have ever learnt is the idea that we don’t have to find all the answers before deciding to drop our obsession with the question. This is particularly useful when answers are hard to come by.

Whenever we find ourselves caught up in negative emotional thinking about an event (or another person), we generally have three options:

* Suffer in silence
* Do or say something in an attempt to resolve the pain
* Just drop it!

While suffering in silence might give you a strange sense of satisfaction for a while, I’m going to suggest that it is not a great long term strategy!

Doing or saying something with the intention of resolving a grievance is usually the best way forward, provided there is another party available for you to reason with.

But what about those situations when you just feel bad about the way things are and there isn’t anything obvious or solid to push against? Maybe it is unfinished business from the distant past, or “the youth of today”, or some political injustice, or how unlucky you have been, or the rain at your summer BBQ…

For those times when you just feel negatively about something, towards which you have little or no control, I invite you to consider:

What is the worst that could possibly happen if you were to finally just let go of it?

Literally – As if that issue were a pebble in your tightly clenched fist. Would it be ok with you to relax your fingers, open your palm and just let that pebble fall from your hand and out of your life?

In the same way that a hand will feel beautifully light and relaxed after a long period of holding on tight, it is amazing what can happen to our emotional wellbeing when we are willing and ready to simply draw a line in the sand of our own dead end thinking.

But of course, there is a big difference between saying you are going to let go of something and actually letting go of it emotionally.

Here are some questions you might want to consider to test your readiness:

“Am I willing to let go of….

…. needing someone or something to blame for this?”
…. having to understand why this bad thing happened?”
…. someone else’s opinion of me?”
…. my difficult past?”
…. trying to control the uncontrollable?”
…. what I’m afraid it might mean about me if I were to let go of this?”
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HOMEWORK
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Your emotional wellbeing loves a good metaphor, especially a visual one, so I have created a little thought experiment for you to play around with. For this to be most effective, find some space where you can be comfortably relaxed and undisturbed for about 10 to 20 minutes. Here are the steps:

1 – Pick something in your life that you are now willing to finally just let go of. You might want to start off by practicing with relatively minor issue at first (e.g. annoyance at the inclement weather) before working on any significant issues (e.g. emotionally charged memories from the past).

2 – Get yourself into a nice relaxed state where you can begin to let your imagination take over. A lot of people find this easier with their eyes closed.

3 – As you begin to think about that issue, recall the negative emotion you have been associating with it. Don’t try to sensor yourself; just go with an honest acceptance of the feeling that accompanies the thought.

4 – If you had to assign a shape to that issue and its corresponding emotion, what shape feels like a good fit? Imagine that shape as a large 3D object floating there in front of you, representing the whole subject.

5 – Decide what colour you think represents that issue and make the large 3D object that same colour? What would the texture be?

6 – Looking at that coloured, textured, 3D shape in front of you, imagine that you are now transmitting all of the negative thought and emotion related to the issue so that it leaves your body and is captured by the shape.

7 – When you get a sense that the transmission is complete and that you feel kind of ‘neutral’, focus on the 3D object and make it shrink right down in size so that it fits snugly in the palm of your hand (actually hold your hand out for it). Spend a moment to feel the texture of it, and the weight of all those old thoughts and emotions.

8 – Now, importantly, as a way of bidding farewell (no hard feelings!!), thank the object for all of the positive lessons it has taught you, even if some of those lessons are yet to be realised consciously.

9 – Finally, with a smile of relief, tip your hand, let the object fall from your palm and watch it as it disintegrates into cloud of coloured dust as it hits the floor…. and then there is nothing.
As you get on with the rest of your day pay attention to how much freer you feel having just let go.

 

Take great care. Namaste.

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“The world is what you think it is.” – Serge Kahili King

cinemaHumour me for a moment and just imagine that you’re in a cinema. Everything around you is dark apart from the screen that’s showing the latest blockbuster suspense thriller. You’re sat there wide-eyed, holding a piece of popcorn in front of your open mouth as if it’s frozen in time. It’s just getting to the really juicy bit – the girl is being followed, but by who? And what will be her fate when they catch her? She trips! The chilling music gets faster and louder; the camera zooms right in on the action. You hold your breath; your heart beats faster; you push back into your seat; the anticipation is almost too much to bear…..

And then all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, the music changes to the Benny Hill theme tune! The colour gets really bright and vivid, and the film speeds up to double time so that the characters start to move in a kind of comical fashion. Now, as you look up at that screen, no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to continue the feeling of fear or anxiety about what is unfolding in front of you. It just seems ridiculous.

I’ve used this kind of cinematic example many times before with my clients and workshop attendees, because it’s a perfect metaphor for understanding how our experience of life is created purely through the projection of our thoughts. Now, replace the movie of the girl being followed with that other movie of how everyone will laugh at you if you fail. Or how about the one where you know you’d be rubbish at a particular task so it’s not worth even attempting it? Or the one about your boss firing you; or the one about how someone might somehow expose you as being a fraud; or how your parents never take you seriously; or what ever movie you like to run on a regular basis.

Notice how compelling and realistic you make it, and as you replay the scene over and over, pay attention to how you begin to feel in response.

But it’s just a movie; a thought.

If you knew that you were the Director of that movie what direction would you want to take it to make it more enjoyable to watch? Horror movies are great for entertainment, but when they are about your own life, that’s another story. Wouldn’t you rather be watching a ‘feel good’ classic?

One of the best explanations I’ve discovered for simplifying the whole subject of how our thoughts create our realities comes from the success coach, Michael Neill. He describes that there are three vital ingredients that must exist in order for us create a life-like experience of the world around us. They are Energy, Consciousness and Thought.

To understand the part that these three elements play let’s go back to that cinema, only this time I’ll meet you up in the projection booth. This is where the magic happens.

 

Consciousness is like the projector itself. It sheds lights onto whatever happens to be in front of it at the time, in this case a reel of film, and the result is the image that you see on the screen. It only ever shines the right amount of light to illuminate the area of that screen with everything remaining in darkness. To put it another way, if it’s not lit up, it’s unconscious.

Of course, nothing could be projected if the projector is not plugged in because it needs electricity. You provide the energy to your consciousness by simply being alive. Some would regard this energy as being your life-force, your essence, your soul or your spirit. You’re plugged in!!

Thought is the reel of film itself. We each have thousands of thoughts every day, most of which glide by harmlessly in the background of our awareness, but some make it to the front of the projector. They get illuminated and magnified larger than life onto that big screen, complete with panoramic and Technicolor qualities and dramatic score and sound effects. Before long you are gripped by the emotional impact of the compelling plot, this is real on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff.

 

But here’s the thing. What if you don’t like the movie? It’s no good going up to the screen and trying to get it to change from there. No amount of shouting at the characters or being frustrated with the storyline is going to alter the ending; that has already been decided. The world doesn’t care what thoughts you project out onto it, in the same way that a screen doesn’t care what images is cast onto it.

The only way to swap this movie for a better one – say a comedy or a romance or one where the good guy always wins – is to realise that that up there in the projection booth is a library of film to suit any taste. All you need to do is go up there, select the one you’d like to watch and put it in front of your projector.

When you own the cinema, you get to choose the movie, and the quality of the movie you choose determines the quality of your life. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to start getting really picky about what you want to watch?


Homework:


Be a film critic this week. Plan to check-in with yourself at least a couple of times a day and review the kind of movies you are running in your head. Are they ones you’d pay good money to see, or would they win ‘Worst Picture’ at The Raspberry Awards. If they are more “boo-hiss” than “bravo”, change them for better ones. It’s that simple!

You might want to take it a step further and decide to play the leading part in the most wonderful adaptation of your life.

Namaste.

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