Monday, 14 November 2016

Deep breath . . .

Phew! What a last few months we’ve had around the globe. The UK have voted to leave the EU and the US has elected Donald Trump as president; both unthinkable a year ago. We sure do live in ‘interesting times’.

Not surprisingly many of us are feeling uneasy, uncertain, if not downright afraid of where these demonstrative decision are going to lead. Nobody really knows  . . .  and that’s probably the biggest problem. Humans had become so used to being in control and knowing everything  . . . and now all of that has gone up in ginger smoke.

So what can we, as ordinary human beings, do about it? Hopefully we’re wise enough to know that allowing fear to govern our actions is only likely to make things worse, but knowing that and being able to find some inner calm and confidence are not always the same thing.

One, simple but effective response is to get back to basics. There’s nothing like reconnecting to our own natural, inner rhythms to reconnecting to an inner certainty.

So, here’s a simple breathing exercise, that anyone can do (though obviously not whilst you’re driving or operating any machinery!). Just listen to this recording and close your eyes . . . .

 Download it and play it at any time. Get used to closing your eyes and developing your own version of the exercise to do whenever your nerves or emotions begin to get the better of you.

This simple breathing exercise is a useful step in reconnecting to our own deeper sense of self with its associated inner calm, courage and wisdom: just what we need to come with the uncertainty in today’s world.

There are many ways we can cushion ourselves from those world (or local) events over which we have no control. The one that found me 20 years ago and is now an integral part of my life is Reiki Healing (or free webinar available here). Like breathing it’s simple and natural. Like a deep breath, Reiki can help us reconnect to a deeper certainty about life and smile again . . .

Friday, 23 September 2016

What's your PB?

To any track athlete or swimmer, a Personal Best, or PB, is all: it is the single best indicator of their progress . . .  and place on the global stage.

But how can we adapt this simple and useful measure to progress on our personal growth journey? When our goal is not to win gold but to become more whole, better at coping with life, is there an equivalent to a PB?

Yes, there is!

For anyone engaged in personal development, improving Emotional Intelligence (EI) or such self-improvement process, there is a simple, easy to measure indicator of your progress:

My PB used to be about a week. When one of my biggest issues cropped up it would get me angry and/or depressed for about a week before I was able to let it go, accept what had happened and get on with the rest of my life. The time between the gun going off and regaining my full, calm, composure was typically 7 days. That’s how wound-up I was!

The trigger will vary between us: it might be something a politician says, it might be smoking, it could be anything: there are few of us who don’t get irritating by something. And it’s these triggers that help those engaged in EI improvement to know what to focus the growth process on. Then as we face our demons, undertake appropriate forgiveness and inner-healing, so our PB comes down. An enlightened person’s PB will be seconds, or less. At the start of the process we might never really let-go of some issues!

So the PB scale isn’t linear. It might go something like this:

Never – Years – Months – Weeks – Days – Hours – Minutes –
Seconds – Blink of an eye.

It’s an on-going process and having such a simple measure can reassure us that progress is indeed being made. Thus, for example, as an open-minded engineer I like to think I can accept new ideas pretty easily. But I do get frustrated by those scientists who insist on ‘evidence’ before they’ll even consider the possibility of any theory than varies one iota from the long-established norm. Faced with such a situation I would have been cranky and depressed for weeks. Earlier today I found myself, quite by chance (LOL! The university of life works in wondrous ways) listening to just such a unmoving scientist on the radio. I got angry. Then I felt depressed. But now, an hour or so on, I can smile at it knowing that ‘they can’t help it’. My PB has improved from weeks to hours! OK, still some work to be done, but practice makes perfect.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

For or Against?

In the personal development arena, victim thinking is a major issue. So many of us can’t help feeling that the whole world is against is. And, of course, if that’s what’s in our heads so the universal law of attraction applies and we bring that very situation to is. All classic justifications for positive thinking. But is it as simple as that? Can we just switch our thoughts to more constructive ones?

Anyone who’s seriously tried this will probably tell you that whilst such an approach can work to some extent (often with amazing results) it’s often far from easy. The thoughts and beliefs we’re intent on updating are often so deeply engrained that we might as well try to change our place of birth! (The two factors often having a major impact on each other).

From my own experiences I’ve identified a number of others issues that are relevant here:
Awareness: as I become more aware, so I become more aware of the many ways in which those around me (in normal everyday life) if not ‘against’ me are probably not ‘for’ me!

There’s two facets of this. Firstly as my own level of awareness increases so I become more conscious of the reality of those I share a street/town/country/world with. I see that most are so caught up in their own rushed lives that they don’t even notice me, let about care about me. This is in stark contrast to the village and community in which I was brought up: where folks generally did care and look-out-for each other. 

Maybe it’s just a sign of how things have changed in the 50 years between the 1960’s and the 2010s. Somewhen, probably the Thatcher era of the 1990s followed by the current ‘head in screen’ Tech age has made British society at least (and probably many others) far more self-centred, with the norm being to cut yourself off from everything and everybody else. No wonder so many of us have victim thinking! It’s not that the world is against us, more that the societal norm has so favoured personal success (in a limited, material, sense) that there is little sense, in many quarters, of ‘belonging’, of being cared for or cared about.

In my own case, there’s another factor which exasperates the situation: Since as long as I can remember I’ve been an observer: I like to see what’s going on, I notice. I suppose it is this that has made me a good Quality Assurance person and a good researcher. I can spot trends . ..  or things that are out of place. I’m not swayed by superficial factors but able to tune in and get a real feel for a situation. 

Thus, as I look around me and tune into today’s reality, I can’t help but note, for example, how little time most people seem to have .. . for themselves or what they feel they need to do, let alone for anybody else who happens to be sharing life with them. It’s nobody’s fault, just what society have become, in many areas, over recent decades. Again it is no surprise that victim thinking, and all the heath and societal issues that go with it, are at such high levels.

So what’s the positive thinkers response to this? How does the Law of Attraction apply when the reality is that, so often in modern society, we are isolated. We are on our own.

Yes, we can, and probably do need, to seek out kindred spirits, to practice acts of random kindness, to smile at others even if many such attempts at engaging will get no obvious response. When enough of us do such things, when enough of us return to showing that we care, then the Law of Attraction will respond. Miracles do happen . . . but rarely when we want them to!

Friday, 9 September 2016

We’ve all got a heart!

What a lovely, and moving, opening ceremony to the Rio Paralympics. Such a powerful message: we’ve all got a heart. Whatever our ability . .  or disability, wherever in the world we come from, we all have a heart. OK, for a few lucky transplant patients, it might have started out as somebody else’s but we, every single one of us, have a heart.

And not just a heart that pumps blood around our body: we all have a heart that
needs to feel it belongs, that needs to care and be cared for. That’s what makes us human beings!

Worth remembering that.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Pick up and run with . . .

Over the last few months I've been getting a bit frustrated. I've had the opportunity to start or get involved in various interesting projects but, before long, quite a few of them have stalled. Maybe they'll pick up again, or maybe they'll not.

I'm feeling like I'd like something, a worthwhile project, I can pick up and run with (to use the rugby analogy), something I can really get my teeth into. I'd sort of got used to starting a project and having to wait for others to catch up or for the time to be right, before pressing ahead, but a bit of me would really like to just get on and be spontaneous . . . for a longer spell of time.

Forcing myself to reflect on this (after another 'hold on Keith' message) it suddenly dawned on me:  which bit of me is feeling this? Ah! Only that wanting to be in control bit!

Seeking spontaneity has just been an excuse. Wanting to get one's teeth into something or pick up and run with it is just another way of saying 'having a goal', an idea . . . and to be attached to it.

Not really part of my underlying lesson these days: to detach, to be in the moment. Oh!

There can only be one focus of inner knowing: the present moment.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


There is little doubt that we live in interesting and many would say, troubled, times. Across the globe we’re seeing more terrorist attacks, or at least more reported ones, spanning a spectrum of isolated individuals with mental health issues to highly planned attack by an extremist group. Then we have the Americans nominating Donald Trump as a presidential candidate and the British voting to leave the EU: neither of which were in any way predicted 12 months ago. What’s going on! Are these developments, puzzling and worrying to many, a sign of some underlying trend, a Zeitgeist?

If so, it’s not the only one.

Since probably the 1980s, the Reagan/Thatcher era, we’ve had the Zeitgeist of personal ambition, or going for and getting whatever you can get. And that’s applied at the level of individual, corporation and nation.

Since the 1960s there’s been the ‘alternative’ Zeitgeist, closely linked to the peace movement: all sorts of campaigns against war, exploitation and over-commercialisation.

One facet of the above, the ‘anti-establishment’ Zeitgeist, may underlie the Trump bandwagon, the UK rebellion against the EU and a rise of far-right, fascist or nationalistic parties across Europe. Many folks are just fed up of being told what to do by career politicians and bureaucrats who are out-of-touch with how ordinary folks are feeling.

And it’s not just establishment politicians who are feeling the brunt of popular back-lash. In the UK at least, high profile corporate scandals (e.g. the failure of BHS and ethics of Sports Direct) are highlighting the need for a better moral compass in all walks of life. 

Perhaps underlying all of this is a ‘we’ve had enough’ Zeitgeist: a coming together of the desire for personal freedom with the realisation that many of those we’ve been trusting to run our business and governments actually don’t have our interests at heart . ..  because they no longer have a heart!

After decades of society being dominated by the belief that humans, or rather a few powerful ones, can control everything (from financial stability to the world food production) and that this will mean health and happiness for all of us, the truth is beginning to dawn: money, power, technology are merely tools. It’s the intent behind them that matters. And, what we all need is to feel valued, to feel that those in charge care about us.

All that’s going on in the world today, with the worst aspects of human behaviour hitting our screen and streets are no more and no less than the results of how we’ve been living and thinking over recent decades. They are a wake-up call. Yes, this dis-order and unhappiness is the current Zeitgeist, but it need only be temporary phase.

If we heed the underlying message, if we respond to the real needs that have triggered all these worrying developments, then a very different Zeitgeist can and will be enabled: let’s call it the Zeitgeist of and for ‘decent human beings’, the restoration of balance between those in power and the rest, the restoration of balance between how we think and how we feel.

Some call it Emotional Intelligence, some call it conscious evolution, but those who understand it best know that it’s something, like any true Zeitgeist, that cannot be put into words: it’s no more and no less than the irrepressible human spirit reasserting itself.

The more we acknowledge it, the more the Zeitgeist will build. The more committed we all are to balancing our heads, heart and hands, the sooner we create a balanced, harmonious society.

At times it won’t be easy. I can see and admit how spoilt the ‘personal ambition’ Zeitgeist has encouraged me to become. I’ve become aware of how easy I like things to be. But I’ve also seen that progress comes not by trying to control things or other people, but by taking the time and effort to understand other perspectives and by finding empathy and compassion for those who, for whatever reason, are different from me. The emerging Zeitgeist is of ‘one humanity’. Not just a global economy and ecosystem, but a genuine, practical, recognition that we are all in this together. In order not just to prosper but to survive, we have to recognise our common humanity and remind ourselves what that means: we are all thinking, feeling, human beings.