Humanity is going through a breakdown/spiritual awakening.
When I was 18, I’d been taking drugs daily for 4 years. My way of life was unsustainable. I had pain I hadn’t processed, I wasn’t looking after myself and my body was falling apart.
Things had to change. It was an undeniable fact I couldn’t deny any longer.
It was painful. It hurt to lift the hazy veil of drug fueled self denial and see my life for what it was - all the places I had not been taking responsibility for my actions, all the places I had been brushing things under the carpet.
Because the universe is more loving and beautiful than we can possibly comprehend, I was doing a degree that meant I practiced yoga, tai chi and a martial art with a specific emphasis on bringing awareness to the body. As I broke down, I woke up. The practices helped me become more embodied and listen to the truths my soul had been whispering for a long time.
I cried for 3 months straight. I cried about all the ways I had abandoned myself for other people’s approval and all the ways I had attached my identity to things that were ultimately meaningless. I decided to rebuild myself in a way that was heart felt and above all, truthful.
The introspective practices provided a discipline that allowed me to grow stronger and gave me a framework to explore what was happening within me. I had the feeling that I was being guided throughout. It was a time of deep truth and beautiful grace.
This is where humanity is. Our lives don’t work anymore. We are depressed, anxious, obese, stressed and sick, rushing about to make money for institutions we don't really care about, while the oceans fill with plastic, the air gets more polluted and natural disasters disrupt more and more lives. Half the wildlife on our planet has been wiped out and Trump has been elected president of the USA.
Meanwhile, incredible individuals make bold steps to usher in a new way of being on the planet. People and institutions like Tree Sisters, Mark Winn, MOE, Lucia Pagliarone, Andre Duquemin, Grace Galliott, permaculture, Lisa Berkovitz and Earth Ships (to name just a few that I am inspired by and grateful for) and so many more both locally and internationally. There is so much hope and brilliance and human ingenuity.
Each and everyone one of us has the power to be a change maker, has the strength to share our gifts with the world. Each of us is a force of nature.
But first we must do the introspective work to get very clear on how we are living. Often we must shed the old in order to birth the new. Then we can explore what lights us up, what we are passionate about, what we are called to work towards above anything else. We can harness the extraordinary power of the human spirit that lives within each and every one of us in service of our world and each other.
For many of us - the exponential amounts of people experiencing depression and anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia - the time is already here. The Earth is speaking to us.
We must sit quietly with ourselves, learn to listen to our wise inner guidance and be bold about who we are and what needs to be done. We must heal our collective pains and surrender to what is unfolding.
For me, the other side of breakdown has been more beauty than I could possibly have comprehended. It is magic and love and depth and a sense of belonging, brought about by honesty so searing it has broken my heart open many times. It is also commitment and discipline and a willingness to face what needs to be faced.
It is a deep realization that we are of this earth and what is happening to her is happening inside each of our bodies. By healing ourselves and waking up to our inter-connectedness, we heal our home.
Imagining a future where humanity manages to course correct (as I did at university), rewiring institutions and personal relationships to me feels dazzlingly bright. I can taste it. I can see homes fully powered by renewable electricity, food grown locally full of nourishment, the animal populations thriving and bright-eyed humans relating lovingly and consciously to each other, exploring passions and creativity. It's not a million miles away from my life right now.
And yet my children's future hangs precariously with dangerously apocalyptic projections of what the next 50 years might bring.
I have come to realise that my part is to help be a guide for people to cross over. I know the terrain. From depression to joy, from lethargy to meaning, from anxiety to deep trust. It is a path of surrender, of feeling your emotions all the way through.
Mostly though, there is a shift from self critical, to self loving, from ‘not good enough’, to realizing that you are more than enough. That within you dwells a spark of the infinite. No one else can offer what you can.
I know that one of my greatest gifts is to hold deep presence for people – to share my practice. To guide people into a deeper experience of their bodies, their lives and their souls. That, and writing about it!
Look within my lovely, and bring it out.
Let go my lovely, and light up.
I’ve been sitting on something in me for a long time – the call to write. Not write about other people’s experiences, or features articles or paid commissions, but putting the whispers of my soul down on paper (the screen).
It’s utterly terrifying honestly. I’ve blogged a bit in the past about various things, I’ve done travel blogs and mama blogs, but what I feel compelled to write about now is addiction and recovery, about mental health and about spiritual practices. Above all, I want to write about learning to deeply listen and trust your own intuition and what magic can happen when you run and jump, trusting what your soul already knows – that you will find your feet in brand new territory.
My relationship with the universe began at university – which seems apt given the closeness in the words. I was a recovering addict at the time and I felt pretty cynical about almost everything.
Boring school assemblies droning on about something that happened 2000 years ago had done little to connect me with a sense of something bigger than myself. Ecstasy and cannabis had made me feel good though, until I became reliant on them to go about my days. I felt dirty and hazy and like this had to stop.
I confided in my dear mother who started to talk about her spiritual beliefs. My complex, beautiful, damaged mum had been a follower of 2 Indian Gurus (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) in her time and raised me with an eccentric mix of Eastern practices and Glaswegian fieriness. My teenage self despised anything that made me different and rebelled against her bizarre beliefs, until I was desperate. Until I was thirsty to understand more about life and my role in it.
I listened to her descriptions of a loving universe, how god is magnificent and unconditionally loving. I read books like Friendship with God by Neale Donald Walsh, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. All pointed to an understanding of the world that was intimately connected and intelligent. They spoke of developing a relationship with God/the universe/source by praying, asking questions and listening.
The Celestine Prophecy spoke of keeping your energy high to be able to clearly distinguish the internal pointers, nudges and messages you might receive. It spoke of a connection to the natural world that helped facilitate this higher, more vibrant way of being.
The Alchemist talked of noticing signs in the external world and following them. It talked of looking for treasure, travelling the world and realising that what you were seeking was at home, had always been at home, you just needed the perspective shift that came about by traveling in order to see it.
Friendship with God (and it’s predecessors Conversations with God 1, 2 and 3) spoke about cultivating an actual conversation with a higher power, one that was informal and easy and personal. Author Neale Donald Walsh journalled and asked questions and found that answers would arrive in his head as he sought to write them down.
I liked these books. Life seemed painful and at times hopeless. I felt tearful and depressed and yet as the layers of emotional pain moved through me, I was beginning to settle into something that felt strong and clear and true. I wanted to believe, but I was cynical.
A friend of mine had given me a little seed and planting kit that I had put on my windowsill months ago. I woke up one morning feeling exhausted and very alone.
‘Ok universe,’ I thought, ‘If any of this is real and you actually are guiding me, (A la Alchemist) then give me a sign… let my plant have sprouted.’
I lifted my curtain to reveal said plant and took two steps back in surprise. Much more than a tiny show of green, the thing had sprouted an inch over night.
Irrationally, a thrill of excitement and hope went through me. It was small, but it was a start.
Since then I have developed a much more regular relationship with my higher self/intuition/source. I journal, I listen, I act on what I hear. My internal nudges took me around the world where I experienced the most unimaginably profound things that blew apart my world view and broke my heart open. They lead me to become a mother and to face all of the demons in my closet. They lead me to a richer, clearer, significantly more beautiful experience of life and carved me out to be a generally bit nicer person.
I believe. I more than believe, I deeply know.
I trust that my intuition knows better than my rational mind about how to make life decisions. I believe that the world massively needs to learn how to follow a deeper internal GPS. The rational mind reviews what has been done, it tries to imitate or discard learning. You can only build upon what has already been done. But the world is changing fast. What has already been done will no longer do. Our systems and institutions and personal lives require us now to go deeper, to question. Who are we really? What are we doing here? How do we carve a meaningful life?
I think that within each one of us, we have the answer.
And yet, I’m still scared. I'm scared of putting something so deep in me out there for EVERYONE to see. It's vulnerable and challenging.
I’ve been having the internal nudges to write some of this down for a long time. But my intuition is starting to speak more loudly now. If I don’t get some of this out, if I don’t put my fingers to the keyboard, I'm going to get frustrated and depleted with the effort of trying to do anything different.
So I’m in. It’s coming. A tale of learning to listen to the whispers of your soul and how to follow that, of traveling round the world to find the treasures that had been there all along, and the changes of mind and heart that were needed to see it.
The thing about life is – it has many different shades and layers to it. Some of life is bright, beautiful, glaring white full of sunshine and energy. We love those bits, want more of them and can feel like we're doing something wrong if we're not there all the time (we're not).
Some of life is dark and it burns so hard we think we're going to die from baring it, but by moving through it we emerge wiser, humbled, different, (better?) at the end. Some of life is musty and sore and difficult and bruised. Much of life is somewhere in between – hum drum, cozy jammies and average TV nights. And there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do about that. There will be highs and lows and many mediocre bits in the middle.
Anyone who tells you there is only rainbows and ‘up, up, up’ is trying to sell you something.
Life is full of peak experiences, but with the highs come the lows. For every incredible holiday you take, there will always be the blues when you re-enter normality. Lottery winners descending into chaos, best-selling authors struggling to re-create their success.
For every beautiful love experience comes the feeling of separation (you can’t stay deeply, intimately connected to someone ALL THE TIME), every boozy night has a hungover morning. Even every deep meditation or spiritual experience has the feeling of incredible expansion, followed by the feeling of releasing difficult emotions you didn’t even know you were holding.
I am wondering, would you really want only white light? Does the heartache prove that you loved? Do the hard times build your strength and character? Is it true, as Khalil Gibran suggests, that 'the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain'?
A well-lived life will contain so many different seasons and flavours. But what we don’t want to do is add to the suffering. And this comes when we try to hold on to the good stuff and push away the bad. We use unhealthy coping mechanisms so we don’t have to feel our pain. We long and pine for the good times and struggle to adjust when things change. Instead of rolling with the punches and flowing with the great river of life, we worry, live in denial or push away reality in favour of our misguided fantasies. We tell ourselves victim stories or ask: ‘why me?’ We compare and contrast our unique journeys with those of our friends and acquaintances and find ourselves lacking.
We spend so much time wishing our lives were different that we fail to acknowledge the lives that we have.
Mindfulness is a route to bring you closer to your life. It helps you open to what’s right there in front of you – whether you’re in a peak bright white time, a frightening black or all the shades of grey. By becoming a keen observer of your body – your vehicle to experience the world through – you begin to notice the extraordinary depth and variety of flavours, feelings, moments and sensations that make up your miraculously ordinary human life.
By practicing mindfulness it becomes easier to move through the harder times and to draw nourishment from simply being alive and awake in this very moment of your time here on earth.
Some time in the future, it might be better. It might be worse. You can bank on the fact that there will be many, many moments of varying shades to take you to the end of your days and that on your death bed, you will probably feel like you want to have LIVED. To have FELT. To have absorbed every painful, beautiful moment of loving and moving and shaking and grooving here on planet earth.
So now. Take a deep breath. Notice the life in the air that enters your nostrils, feel it nourish your body down to your toes. And OPEN. Open to all of who you are – your struggles, your dreams, your wishes, your curiosities, your fears and your ambitions. Especially open to the bits of you that you wish were different – invite them into your heart and just for this moment, let them rest.
Open to your life in THIS MOMENT. Right now. Stop. Be aware. Awake. The planet is spinning round and round our incredible sun, the stars shine to us from light years away and you are the results of millions of years of evolution. Drink it in. You live.
After reading my post about how coaching had impacted my children, top coach and founder of the MOE Foundation, Darren Robson challenged me to capture in writing what coaching is and why it’s so powerful.
The magic that happens when someone makes you the entire object of their attention, giving you the space and time to work out issues you may be facing is undeniable, yet tricky to articulate.
We live in a fast paced world that values immediacy over depth. And yet human beings have extraordinary depth, creativity and even genius if used and harnessed properly. Coaching works on the premise that we are all innately valuable and capable, with vast resources of imagination and energy if we can tap into it. We all walk around with fascinating and complex inner worlds, only a fraction of which ever gets fully expressed in our daily lives.
Coaching creates a space, where you can explore, with the coach as your witness and guide, all of your wildest dreams and potential. It’s a place you can be deeply honest, for there is no judgement in coaching, and a place you can dare to admit the things that hover at the edges of your being.
It’s when we start to explore ourselves and our potential that we can start to live in a deeper, truer way. The relief, energy, joy and meaning released when we stop conforming to our habitual patterns, and start expressing more of who we are, can be profound.
A coach listens and provides a container for you to reflect. A coach encourages and mirrors back to you your strengths and potential blindspots. A coach enters into your fascinating and complex inner world with you and gives feedback on what they see.
The insights and validation that can roll out of a coaching experience are not to be underestimated. And then, coaches help you turn your insights into action.
Like a running buddy that inspires you to trudge out on a freezing February morning when left to your own devices you would likely still be snoozing, a coaches very presence is motivating.
Coaches are master listeners and change agents. But the honest truth of why coaching is so powerful has nothing to do with the coach at all and everything to do with the utter incredibleness of human beings – our loves and our fears, our talents and our struggles. Within each and every one of us lies more than a little bit of magic. The value of a coach, is first their ability to help you see it and then to live it.