It’s a curious thing, but sometimes, no matter how much work you’ve done on yourself in the past, there are times when you may forget every single self-help technique you ever knew and feel totally helpless. Are you familiar with that syndrome? Thought so!  Well, it happens to me, too!! At such times, it’s easy to feel stuck, helpless and start thinking that things will never change.  With so little space in your mind to think clearly, let alone make decisions, panic arises, spirits descend, and you start to feel overwhelmed, all of which makes trying to stay on an even keel an exhaustive and perilous balancing act.

I’ve just described the darkest of these situations, but there are various shades of grey around these areas which I’m sure I don’t have to describe.  They fall into the general category of events called “challenges”.

One of the best things you can do to open up a stuck and frozen mind is to ask yourself some questions starting with two words : “WHAT IF….?”

Using these words is like letting sunshine into a darkened room, for they can provide a portal which allows you to gain access to your inner guidance and higher being.  What if …? brings space to the cluttered mind, causes that tangle of pressures and emotions to ease a little and gives you the opportunity to begin to see that there is, after all, some light at the end of the tunnel.

What if I could believe there was a solution to this? What if I could just OPEN UP to that possibility?  What if I allowed myself to trust there’s a positive aspect to this situation? What if I could walk away from this problem and let it go? What if I could find the courage to say what I need to say/do what I need to do? What if I could accept how things are and find peace?”  These are the kinds of “what if” questions to ask.

If you couple these questions with some EFT (or Energy Tapping as my kind of EFT must henceforth be called to avoid legal issues around copyright and trademark), you’re opening your mind up to infinite possibilities and that in itself starts to release some of the pressure.

You could also ask yourself : “When I think about this issue, where do I feel it in my body?” and then put your Reiki hands on that area and think of the Reiki energy softening and melting the problem and allowing it to gently flow away.

And if you haven’t yet learnt either Energy Tapping or Reiki yet, what if you allowed yourself to do so??

Remember that however bleak your situation might be, it’s how you THINK about it that matters.  Whether you’ve been betrayed, given a raw deal, made a huge mistake – or whatever – if you’re only thinking about how bad things are, or how nothing will ever change, you’re digging yourself more deeply into the problem.

I think it was Einstein who said: “You can’t solve a problem from the same level of consciousness as it was created” – or words to that effect.  It’s so true.  Often, we make the mistake of trying to solve things in the same old way time after time even though we know that method hasn’t worked in the past. Ultimately, you have to think outside of the box and come at it from a completely different angle.

How do you do that? Try using the magic words: what if …..?

If you haven’t already heard, the buzz word in energy psychology and tapping these days is “neuroplasticity”.  In simple terms it means scientists have discovered that we can re-wire our thinking if we choose to do so (and Energy Tapping is a wonderful way of doing this).  What this means is that we can change beliefs, we can change direction, we can change limiting beliefs, develop optimism and become more positive in our thinking.  We are creatures of energy (which is what fills us and fuels us) so we resonate with the universal energy which is all around us and whose laws of time and space are more flexible and malleable than we may think.  By working with the energy of our thoughts, you can create transformation in your lives and change yourself and your world for the better.

So next time you find yourself bogged down with a seemingly unsurmountable situation, try thinking about the problem with a “what if  …?” As you do this, you’re opening yourself up to what Deepak Chopra calls ‘the field of infinite possibilities’ and – you never know – you might even find yourself on the receiving end of a miracle!

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It’s long been thought that the moon exerts a certain power over our lives. Certainly we know that it affects the tides, so given the fact the physical body contains large amounts of water, it’s not surprising that it can affect us, too. New moons are associated with planting seeds, starting new projects or making changes, whilst a full moon is associated with feelings of expansion, and times when our awareness and intuition becomes richer and more easily accessible. It’s also a time when our emotions may be nearer the surface and less contained than usual.

Today is a full moon and it’s known by the rather lovely name of the Flower Moon, because it comes in a month when most flowers are in full bloom. So if you’re feeling expansive and have a strong sense of your own blossoming in some area(s) of your life, now is the time to connect to the lunar energies, make greater efforts towards your goals and dreams, and stretch yourself that little bit more in order to manifest them.

However, if it’s your emotions which are more full and abundant at the moment (and you’re wobbling a bit as a result), you may need to give yourself a bit of help and support.

It seems to me that many of us are going through transformation and change at the moment. I know of a lot of people who are currently doing some re-thinking about their lives, or wrestling with old anxieties and other gremlins which are holding them back from moving into something new.  If this resonates with you, then you are probably coming face-to-face with the comfort zones into which you habitually retreat in times of stress. Sometimes we find our cages are rattled to such a degree, we know we have to either stay where we are and remain ill at ease, or take a leap into the unknown if we are to stand a chance of changing the status quo. And this can feel very scary. Such a predicament may well have been lurking around in your subconscious for some time but for whatever reason, perhaps you chose to ignore it or push it away?

One of the first things many of us do when we feel unsettled is to reach for things which give us comfort.  So, over indulging in food/drink/chocolate/sex, or indulging in some retail therapy or any other ploys to distract yourself may be a tendency in such times. Unfortunately, these tactics never solve anything. Instead, they usually ensure that the problem simply goes underground where it skulks and waits, ready to spring back up again when you’re least expecting it! Comfort zones will keep you stuck and in reality, aren’t really comfortable at all!

So, what’s the best way forward?

First of all, if your emotions have got the upper hand, you’re probably feeling negative to some degree.  And a good, simple starter for dealing with that is to help yourself R-E-L-A-X  because when you’re relaxed, it’s not possible to feel negative!

Here’s a good technique to try:

  • Sit comfortably, keep your gaze level and allow your eyes to shift into soft focus
  • Place both feet on the floor and rest your palms on your thighs
  • Soften your torso and relax your shoulders and jaw as you breathe a bit more deeply than usual
  • Notice a sense of being more grounded


  • Drop your hands to your sides, palms facing inwards
  • Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth as you gently shake your arms, letting your arms and hands move back and forth
  • Do this for one minute as you invite your body to let go of stress and tension
  • Notice a sense of lightness in your body and perhaps a tingling or buzzing in your hands


  • With loose fists, lightly tap on the area above your heart. Do this for 30 seconds
  • Keep breathing – inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth
  • Now lightly tap the outside of both knees 20 times. You may sense a small jolt of energy
  • Lightly tap the inside of both knees 20 times
  • Lightly tap the top of your left knee with both hands 10 times. Repeat on the right knee.
  • Notice a sense of energy, like a pulse, moving through your body.


  • Drop your hands to your sides, palms facing behind you
  • Slowly raise both hands (imagine they are floating up) to shoulder level as you inhale deeply through your nose
  • Slowly float both hands down (to chair level) as you exhale through your nose
  • Repeat at least 5 times (more is even better!)
  • Notice how this slow, flowing movement relaxes your mind and body


Remember : if you’re tense, stressed and negative, you will make any change technique like EFT or EMO or even logical reasoning so much more difficult.  ALWAYS GET YOURSELF INTO A RELAXED STATE BEFORE YOU BEGIN DOING MORE TARGETTED WORK ON YOURSELF!


Next steps: EFT is sooo good at helping you let go of issues, particularly if you can identify where you feel this problem in your body and then tap on that.  (i.e.  This sadness in my heart, this fear in my stomach, this frustration in my head, etc., etc.) It’s really wonderful how tapping can help you let go of things that have you in their grip, dissolve helplessness or confusion, and lighten the burden of apprehension and anxiety.


Alternatively, try EMO.:

Again, focus on where you feel this issue in your body (as above), but instead of tapping, use visualisation. 

  • Put your hands on your body in the place where you feel the problem and know that its energy wants to leave your body.
  • Ask yourself “where does this energy want to go?”
  • Use your hands to stroke the energy in the direction it wants to take, as if you’re helping it to move
  • Think of that energy softening and flowing and moving out of you (which it can do from any part of you)
  • Keep stroking the energy in the direction it wants to go, and keep thinking of it softening and flowing until it’s all gone and you feel clear of it

Look at the positives!  Know that feeling unsettled is actually a gift in the long term – for if we can face the problem squarely, and then begin working to let it go, we’ll not only re-find serenity, but will also be given the possibility of exploring new avenues which can ultimately change our lives for the better.


Then you can tune into the lunar energies of the time and benefit from their influence!


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Many years ago when I was in my second year of training to be a Polarity Therapist (a technique which restores a balanced flow to the energy system via manipulation, therapeutic touch, physical movements and diet), we were introduced to a very profound exercise called Veils and Seals. I was reminded of this exercise recently when it was explained and encouraged in a book I was reading called “The Sacred Science” by Nick Polizzi, which is a fascinating narrative, part memoir, part self-help, part guide to exploring the deepest levels of your psyche through the use of powerful ancestral herbal medicine and shamanic practices, and well worth a read for anyone who is interested in this field.

The raison d’etre behind the Veils and Seals exercise on the Polarity Course was to help us learn to break down the barriers we place between ourselves and others. Think about it: It’s not a norm in our society to stare into someone else’s eyes for any length of time!  In fact, even holding eye contact with someone during normal conversation (however intimate we are with that person) isn’t generally comfortable for most of us. What’s the reason for this? What don’t we want to show that person? What don’t we want that person to show you?

The Veils and Seals exercise involved getting into pairs with a fellow student and staring deeply into each other’s eyes for 10-15 minutes. Maybe this sounds like nothing to you?  But I tell you, it was amazingly powerful.  On the surface, it’s such a simple thing to do with someone, but it can give you a quite incredible experience. Here’s how to do it if you’d like to try:

  • Choose someone to do this with – a close friend, a relative, a parent, or a lover
  • Make sure you’ve both spent about 15 minutes beforehand getting into a state of relaxation and receptivity (e.g. do some yoga, or some breathing exercises, or give yourself some Reiki, or meditate, etc.)
  • When you’re both ready, sit opposite each other closely in a comfortable position
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
  • Then open your eyes and look into the eyes of the person sitting in front of you for 10-15 minutes (set a timer to help you with the timing).

This exercise is not about staring without blinking. This is about lookinglooking deeply into the eyes of someone else.  Let your face relax. Let your body relax.  And don’t talk until after the exercise is finished.

Afterwards, it’s nice to share what you’ve each experienced, but if that doesn’t feel right, you don’t have to talk. It may feel more natural to just give the other person a big hug of affection and acknowledgement and each stay with your inner experiences.

If this exercise feels a bit scary – and to some people it WILL feel scary –  you might like to try something slightly less challenging which instead involves talking and communicating somewhat differently from the way you may normally interact with others. This is about learning how to better communicate about the things that are really important to us in our lives and becoming increasingly able to slowly open ourselves up to learning about our trusted friends, colleagues or relatives on a more profound level. So often our talk within our inner circles centres around the “same old, same old” subjects like work, gossip, and trips down memory lane. We skim above the surface of what’s really going on in our lives and tend to avoid speaking of the things we’re wrestling with within ourselves, the things we’re passionate about, what matters to us, the inner challenges, or any breakthroughs we might have had in our journey through life. The sad thing is that many of us do this not only with strangers and people we don’t know very well, but also with those with whom we have a much more intimate and meaningful relationship.  It’s something we can very easily slip into and it can become a way of keeping a veil drawn over our inner deepest feelings and wishes and keeping our lips sealed.  These are the veils and seals referred to in the name of the exercise.

If you’d like to try this, here’s what to do:

  • Choose someone to talk to (friend, colleague, relative – even a stranger), and consciously steer the conversation away from superficial small-talk
  • Ask them about their favourite places, whether that be abroad or at home or in their local environment
  • Ask them to tell you about the best things that ever happened to them
  • Ask whether they have any possessions which mean a great deal to them, or whether there are any books they’ve read which have changed the way they look at things and set them on a new course of thinking and attitude. Maybe there was a film or a person that did this?  Find out.
  • Ask them WHY these things are important to them. Encourage them to tell you the stories behind these answers.

And be prepared to answer the same questions about yourself

Notice how easily this can take you into a much deeper level of communication with another person, and way beyond the usual superficial conversational exchanges we usually have with people.

Both of these exercises will help you to experience deeper levels of connection with others and the world around you which in turn will allow you to move beyond any feelings of separation, isolation or opposition. And as we all live in an increasingly chaotic and precarious world, this can ultimately only benefit us.

Your eyes are veiled with far too many veils.  Each thing you look upon is but a veil.

Your lips are sealed with far too many seals. Each word you utter forth is but a seal.

From “The Book of Mirdad” by Mikhail Naimy

“The Book of Mirdad” is another interesting book to read. Mikhail Naimy was a Lebanese author, famous for spiritual writings and a comrade of Kahlil Gibran – a Lebanese-American, who was a writer, philosopher, poet, and visual artist, most famous for his inspirational and spiritual book “The Prophet”.

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It’s been a very long hard winter, and I know many people who are mightily fed up with it.  But despite the recent Siberian snows, freezing temperatures, and the endless grey skies and rain, the days have, imperceptibly, been getting longer since Winter Solstice on December 21st.

Last Tuesday 20th March, we had the Spring Equinox which is when day and night are pretty much the same length all over the world and this is a traditional marker for the beginning of Spring. As an added boost to the change in seasons, this weekend, we’ve also now moved into British Summertime and put the clocks forward an hour, which is a sure sign that Spring has finally sprung.

Mother Earth is waking up and breathing new life into Nature. And this is a very good time for us to do the same by injecting some new energy into our lives!

As we surface from the effects of winter, it’s good to notice how the energies stirring outside of us are reflections of something happening within.  Early Spring is a re-adjustment and change of energy from the sense of withdrawal  we’ve been in all winter.  A re-birth is taking place.  But as we come out of the darkness and are drawn back into the light, the going can sometimes feel like too much hard work after months of sedentary living.

The reason it’s sometimes difficult to get the focus and intention going in early Spring is often due to long days without enough sunshine or too much stodgy food over the previous months. Our energy systems become sluggish in winter.  We may also be toxic from negative thinking which can change our body’s biochemistry, and all this can add to a general feeling of apathy .

Whether you’re suffering from Spring Malaise or you’re full of energy and optimism, now is a good time to think about getting your energies running more efficiently.  And one of the best ways I can suggest of doing this, is to start implementing the Donna Eden 6-Minute Energy Routine into your lives every day.  This  routine is incredibly simple and highly effective.  I’ve been doing it for years every morning, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Give it a go! I promise you that after a few days, you’ll soon start noticing changes in your energy levels which can really kick-start you into feeling the zing of spring

Here’s a link to take you to a video of Donna demonstrating how to do this easy, and quick routine.  I can’t encourage you enough to try it out and see what a difference it can make.

If you’re anything like me, extremely cold weather can easily send you into hibernation mode which means that your energies tend to shut down, you sleep more and eat more.  Everything has a knock-on effect, so less movement and more eating means that the weight piles on, which can cause lethargy and also make us feel not very good about ourselves. This can then lead to lack of confidence and motivation and reinforce negative self-beliefs which in turn sap our energy and keep us in a negative state of mind. Thus, we entrap ourselves in a negative downward spiral, which is the last thing we need to do!

This is why something like the 6-minute energy routine is soooo helpful.  Once you get your energies moving again, your thoughts and emotions are in a greater state of balance, and you are then in a better position to start addressing any other concerns.  Those of you who have learnt  EFT  (the tapping technique) can also use  this technique to help move you through any specific issues which are holding you back. The energetic shift you can experience from using this simple technique is remarkable and can soon have you seeing things from a more objective standpoint and feeling better.

Exercise, walking and dancing are all good energy movers.  Moreover, they help to keep endorphins (those feel-good hormones within you) in flow and help facilitate a more positive attitude.  This will help you further new plans and ideas.  If exercise and dancing are impossibilities for you, just get out in nature and move as much as you can, as this alone will lift your spirits and get you into a better state of mind.

Spring is all about re-birth and, at this time of year, we also have Easter (just around the corner now) as one of the major celebrations in the spring calendar. This Christian festival celebrates the resurrection of Christ and re-birth, but interestingly, there are many other traditions around the world at this time of year which also centre around the theme of re-birth and new life. Whatever path, religion or creed you follow, the message is therefore the same : By letting go of the past and moving on, we have the possibility of being born anew.

The Spring traditions of sowing new crops and cultivating the land at this time of year also have great relevance to your personal growth,  Every time we want to make changes in ourselves or begin something new, we’re effectively planting new seeds.  We can therefore ride on the energies of Spring to focus upon trying to release unskilful patterns of thought and behaviour in ourselves, and to work on letting go of limiting beliefs. By weeding out things which hold us back from who we really are, we can make ourselves more fertile for the cultivation of any new seeds we wish to plant within ourselves.

Spring will often bring with it renewed feelings of enthusiasm for ideas, new ventures and changes you’d like to make in your lives.  It may be that now you’re thinking of new projects or entertaining various visions and dreams about what you want to do in both the long and short term.  Part of the zing of spring is that there’s a great sense of things opening up and the hope of greening and budding, for the earth is being filled with new energy and we need to tune into this and allow it to carry us along. This is the time when we should be making our New Year resolutions – not on January 1st!

Spend a bit of time thinking about what ideas and dreams may be surfacing for you.  What things are arising within you which are waiting to be born?

Here’s a great exercise for loosening up your imagination and opening yourself up to new possibilities.


Imagine you’ve got a magic wand.  One flick of it will bring you any opportunity you could imagine and anything you need to manifest your ideas, visions and dreams.

Now, think about one of the seeds you want to sow and start day dreaming about it unfolding in the most fantastic, spectacular and positive way.  It’s doesn’t matter how far-fetched or unrealistic you make this dream.  The idea is that you stretch the boundaries of your imagination with the exercise.

For example: You want to set up a healing space, but you need someone to back you financially.  Flick the wand and that someone is there! This person loves your ideas and gives you all the money you need to get started. – another flick of the wand and you’ve begun! You need wonderful therapists to work there with you. No Problem! Twitch the wand and they appear. You need a brilliant receptionist. Hey Presto! You need to find an incredible business and marketing manager. Ping! There they are! You need loads clients. Abracadabra! They’re queueing up to see you! And so on…..Each time you flick the wand, everything you dream about materialises.

Let your dream take over and explode into a kaleidoscope of countless fantastic mind-bogglingly wonderful developments.  Let it become as far-fetched as you like!  In fact, the more fanciful you are, the better it is.  Don’t hold back! Don’t censor or edit anything. You don’t have to stay within the boundaries of reality.  Just enjoy dreaming and giving full vent to your imagination.

You can do this with anything, but just make sure that what you envisage is not only for your greater good, but the good of all concerned.

This is a really fun exercise, guaranteed to get your energies and your imagination moving. It also releases endorphins  throughout your body which are very healing. It’s a really great way to put the zing into spring and an excellent method for learning how to loosen yourself up from the constraints of self-imposed limitations.  You’ll be buzzing from head to toe when you’ve done it!.


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I’m sure most of you are already aware that when we focus on negative emotions and memories, our whole physical being changes. The body tenses, causing aches and pains like stiff necks and shoulders and bad backs. It can also cause other unexpected pain(s) anywhere in the body which may come and go. Internal organs, like the small intestine, can tighten up causing bouts of constipation or diarrhoea which may then have the additional side effect of creating headaches, tiredness and general malaise.

Of course, different moods and emotions are perfectly normal and come and go throughout our lives.  They are our ‘emotional visitors’, if you like! And just like human visitors, their presence can have the effect of making us feel either good or bad depending on who they are!  Emotional ‘visitors’ like anger, sadnesss and fear, and other negative emotions are the most difficult ones.  In addition to making us feel bad, they trigger the release of the hormones adrenalin and cortisol which produce something similar to battery acid, which then starts coursing around our bodies! This can be very useful for short periods in the event of life threatening or dangerous situations arising because it has the effect of nudging our bodies into fight or flight so we have the strength and energy to enter into combat or run. However, unfortunately, ongoing stress and anxiety also causes our bodies to be flooded with these hormones (because the body can’t differentiate between a life threatening situation and 21st century stress!), and when that happens, it’s not at all good for our bodies.   Conversely, happiness, contentedness and peacefulness will trigger endorphins (known as the feel-good hormones), which release a delicious flow of almost honeyed sensations.

It’s therefore very important to develop some form of emotional management so that we don’t get caught unawares when one or other of these emotional visitors turns up.  We need to be able to find out what may lurk beneath that feeling of hurt or anger; or why we might be suffering from some all-pervading sadness; we need to learn to cope with any reasons for regular feelings of frustration and impatience. We need to find ways of managing our emotions so they don’t plunge us into depression.

Emotional management is about finding ways to handle sadness and pain and any other difficult emotion. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions and decisions, and keeping to any commitments you’ve made.  It’s also about managing relationships better and understanding that sometimes you project your own reactions and judgements onto other people (i.e. believing it’s THEM that are constantly criticising or judging you and not recognising that in fact, it’s YOU doing it to YOURSELF!)  It’s also about acquiring assertiveness instead of being angry and aggressive and about discovering how to compromise rather than always trying to get your own way.

It’s very useful to start noticing any tell-tale signs which signal that our emotions need some care and attention. Strange though it may seem, many of us think we’re always aware of what’s going on inside of us, but we’re often kidding ourselves. We bury stuff. We hide it. We forget it’s there until it jumps out and trips us up!

Lots of things can affect us.  Life factors can disrupt emotional health and leave you feeling sad or anxious – e.g. losing your job or not getting enough work if you’re self-employed, death of a loved one, a close friend or a beloved pet, getting divorced, moving home or relocating to another part of the country, suffering illness or injury, money problems, and so on.

You can even experience emotional wobbles when good things are happening such as getting married! Organising the wedding can often be really stressful.  Being promoted is another instance, triggering worries about added responsibility and anxieties about not meeting expectations. Having a baby is another example, even though we tend to think of it as an anticipated ‘happy event’. The pregnant mum goes through huge hormonal changes which can play havoc with her emotions and the dads-to-be often get very stressed thinking about the responsibility and changes in life-style which will have to be made.

One way of becoming more aware of what’s going on emotionally, is to start paying attention to any physical changes happening in yourself such as an alteration in appetite, extreme tiredness, an upset stomach, weight gain or loss, high blood pressure, general aches and pains, headaches or sexual problems, etc. These are signals from your body telling you that it needs you to look at what’s happening in your life and take steps to rein in the stress.

Many people try to manage their daily ups and downs to one degree or another by distracting themselves.  This can take the form of doing some ‘retail therapy’, watching too much television, drinking more than usual or taking other substances which create a ‘high’. But that’s not a very conscious (or successful) way of dealing with it.

The good news is that there are other ways of managing your stress. And the best one in my experience is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as the Tapping Technique.

If you haven’t already investigated EFT, I highly recommend that you do so, it’s a simple, easy to do technique which can quickly help you to deal with emotional problems, negative memories and cope with anger and resentment and many other difficulties. Its use is now very widespread, and numerous trials have been run which have tested and proved its efficacy again and again, showing amazing results. If you’re interested in finding out more, I strongly encourage you to visit the following link:

This will take you to a totally FREE video series which is coming up:


It starts this coming Monday February 26th

Over a period of 10 days, you’ll be able to see around 20 different video presentations

Given by top international experts of the technique

Showing you how EFT can help with a great many different problems.

This is the 10th consecutive year it’s been run and I’m sure you’ll find it interesting and helpful.

I recommend it even to those of you who may have been tapping for some time.

I hope you’ll take the time to dip into it and benefit from all it has to offer.

I’d like to end this Newsletter with a poem from the incomparable Sufi mystic called Rumi.  As you will see, he refers to the human being as a guest house which is host to the shifting emotions (or guests) which visit us.  He wisely counsels us to greet each one warmly knowing that every problem, every difficulty, every challenging emotion is an opportunity to learn and grow.

This being human is a guest house

Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meanness

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of its furniture,

Still, treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing you out

For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes

Because each has been sent

As a guide from beyond.

The Guest House by Rumi

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Just recently I saw a wonderful  film called “Walk with Me” which is about the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn. For those of who may not have heard of him, Thich Nhat Han (pronounced Tick Nat Haan) is a renowned  global spiritual leader, author and peace activist, who is revered for his powerful teachings and best-selling writings on mindfulness. He has travelled around the world, teaching and holding retreats. In 1975, he was refused permission to return to his native country because of his peace activities by the North Vietnamese army who took control of South Vietnam. This resulted in him setting up a monastic community in France which is now home to some 200 monks.  It’s also a centre where lay people can go on retreat to absorb the practices, learn from the teachings and unwind from the stresses of 21st century living.

Filmed over the course of three years, it shows aspects of  monastic life and some of the community activities which are offered to the many visitors who go to the centre, as well as glimpses of Thich Nhat Hahn  leading meditation practice and answering questions. There are also some beautiful shots of the changing seasons which help to instil in the viewer the powerfully calming effect that nature can have upon us. In one memorable scene, we see some young monks lying on their backs in the grass, gazing up into a night sky dotted with a million stars.  It made me want to be there as well, lying in the darkness with the infinite silence of the universe above me!

Walking home in the mizzly rain afterwards, I mused upon how important it is for us to find regular moments of peace and quiet in our lives as a respite from worldly pressures and the noise that goes on all around us daily. This din intrudes upon whatever quietness we have, disturbs our mental processes and irritates the nerves. We live with noise 24/7 in the cities and are not immune to suffering from it in the countryside.  Worse still, we are incredibly adept at generating our own inner noise with the thoughts, worries, fears and projections we have tumbling around inside our minds.

Many of us just accept the endless chatter that goes on in our heads as a normal part of life and don’t seek to try to quieten it down and give ourselves pause from its relentless activity even though we may be well aware of how this jumble of thoughts and ideas can play havoc with our emotions and make us unhappy and even depressed. We have a tendency to allow ourselves be swept along by the tide of thoughts and feelings trying to surf the turbulence.

However, there are a number of very practical things one can do to gain a sense of inner calm and be less affected by mental turmoil. EFT tapping would always be the first resort I would recommend. But there’s also meditation, though sadly, a lot of us shy away from doing this for one reason or another.

No doubt  many of you have a meditation routine already, but some of you may not.  Others may have tried it, found it difficult and given up, and some of you may have thought about it, but never tried to do it.

Wherever you fall in this spectrum, it’s good to remember that there are many forms of meditation and there’s bound to be more than one that’s right for you. Meditation doesn’t have to be about sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed mentally reciting a mantra, or following a guided meditation.  This may work for some of you but not for others. It doesn’t need to take up a lot of time either – especially in the beginning – and most people can easily slot short periods of contemplation into their daily routines however busy they are.

It may surprise you to learn that meditation is a perfectly natural practice. Yes! Here are some examples: Recall a time when you sat and looked at a beautiful view or sunset and noticed how peaceful it made you feel. Recollect how calming it is to sit and stroke a cat and listen to its purr. Remember how relaxing it is to mind and body to lie on a beach soaking up the warm sun as you listen to the waves lapping on the shore.  Do you recognise any of those moments? Well, they’re all forms of meditation!

Any time you have momentarily noticed your mind go blank as you gaze up at the moon and stars, or watched a river flowing past you is meditation. Equally, if you’ve had a hard day of physical and mental work and you get back home and flop down with exhaustion, unable or unwilling to do anything except stare into space – that’s also meditation! Even the brief focus you can give to making a cup of tea can be a meditation!

We’ve been doing it since we were born! Have you ever offered a finger to a tiny baby to hold and noticed that when it grasps it in its little fist, it seems totally mesmerised by the experience? That’s meditation. We are all capable of doing it, and we do it more frequently than we are aware.  You see, meditation is when your mind has naturally found a balance between relaxation and alertness and it happens automatically when you are one hundred per cent here and now.  Meditation isn’t about stopping your thoughts and having a totally empty mind because the mind never really stops!  It’s about resting in the spaces between thoughts. And when we do that, we can experience the mind as a vast space where turbulence doesn’t exist and enjoy the sound of silence..

So if you’d like to take your first steps into meditation, spend some time reminiscing about what sort of things you’ve experienced in the past which have brought you to a tranquil place along the lines given above.  Then make a commitment to practice recalling how it felt it to be in that space at regular intervals every day. Think of several examples when it’s happened so you can chop and change from time to time and prevent yourself from getting bored! To recap: you don’t have to go out and find a view or a river to look at or a beach to lie upon. You can close your eyes and remember times when you did that (or other similar things) and simply allow yourself to re-experience how it made you feel. You may only be able to do this for a few moments at first.  But if you make a commitment to repeating it several times during the day, you can build up to meditating for any length of time between 3 and 10 minutes. When you get better at this practice, you could then move on and try other techniques. In this way, you will grow your ability to meditate an be able to go deeper with it over time.

Meditation moments take us to a place of peace.  And when we’re at peace, we don’t have negative thoughts.  We’re in a state of pause and neutrality, not pulled one way or another – and such balance can generate equilibrium and happiness which is incredibly good for our health and well-being. But you have to do it a few times each day to begin to make it work for you.  The change is subtle – but noticeable over time!

For those of you with a more seasoned practice, why not branch off from your usual routine occasionally and try simply observing your thoughts as they pop up like bubbles rising to the surface of water? Just watch the thoughts arise and then let them go. This way, you can prevent yourself from getting caught up in them and following wherever they may lead.  Be kind and compassionate to yourself about how restless the thoughts are and just accept that this is what the mind does. Notice it flitting around but don’t chase after it! Try doing this at intervals throughout the day and let yourself come in and out of it, again – meditating for anything between three and ten minutes. Do it several times a day. Over a period of time, you will begin to notice changes in your well-being which is very helpful in engendering a state of balance, stability and content.

One of the best books I’ve read about meditation is called “The Joy of Living” by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and master. It’s a fascinating and very easy read, covering many things like the way Buddhist practices mirror scientific findings about the nature of the mind to echoing the Dalai Lama’s belief that all beings are essentially striving towards happiness. In the second part of the book, Rinpoche takes the reader through a number of different meditation practices – and there’s a lot of them, so plenty to choose from!! I recommend it highly for anyone from a wannabe meditator to those who have been practicing for some time, as it provides a whole new view of what the practice can do for you. I have personally been working with various meditation practices for over 40 years now, and  found the book gave me plenty to think about and I benefitted hugely from trying new forms of  meditation.

So why not consider either beginning to meditate, or trying some new ways of doing it to refresh the practice you already have? Embarking upon something different is a great way to get the energies flowing and a wonderful way to start a new year!

And if you have a chance to catch the film “Walk with Me”, do go and see it.  Here’s a link to the trailer on YouTube:

Also, if you’d like to find out more about Thich  Nhat Hahn and Plum Village, here’s a link for that:

Wishing you all a very happy and fulfilling new year!

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It’s hard to believe that 2017 has almost finished.  We are now fast approaching the Winter Solstice which takes place this year on Thursday 21st December, and, as many of you already know, marks the turning of the sun – a time when our great golden orb begins to climb higher in the sky, bringing with it the longer, lighter days and the coming of spring.

For our pagan ancestors, Winter Solstice was always associated with joy, feasting and celebration for it signified the passing of the lean days of winter, and was known as the Re-Birth of the Sun. This event harmonises beautifully with Christmas, our great Festival of Light and celebration of the Birth of the Son (which is an interesting play on words vis a vis the ancient celebrations of the Re-Birth of the Sun!)  But whatever your religion or spiritual path, this is certainly a very powerful time of year.

December, January and February are recognised as being the coldest months in the western hemisphere so this means we are really into winter now, as evidenced by the freezing temperatures we’ve been experiencing of late up and down the country!  All that coldness quite naturally promotes in us feelings of wanting to go out less and “hibernate” to a degree, and this mirrors Nature’s own retreat into herself before she embarks upon creating new life in the spring.

Now is therefore an ideal period for us to give ourselves time to reflect on the passing year so that we can look back over the months to see how our journey has unfolded and contemplate any changes we would like to make in 2018. This is a very useful and worthwhile practice which can be repeated annually as it helps us to clarify things on an inner level allowing us to find a sense of completion as we move towards a brand new year.

For quite a while between about now and just after Christmas, I’ve found it helpful to make time to look back over the past 12 months and see where I’ve grown and what I can learn from everything that’s happened.  Many people do this in January, but I feel that the time to do it is NOW, before the new year arrives, so that we can approach the  coming months with a greater clarity about what we’d like to achieve and/or change. It’s a very useful exercise to help you see any patterns that have emerged, to remind yourself of aspects of your journey this year, and to feel gratitude not only towards people who may have helped you, but also to feel appreciation for yourself and your own efforts.

I really recommend that you spend a while thinking along these lines yourself.  To help you, I’ve listed some questions below which you can ponder upon regarding how it has been for you in 2017.  Why not give yourself some space and work through them?  It needn’t take very long and you might find it’s quite enlightening!!

  • What have been the happiest times for me this year?
  • What are the things I’m most grateful for (this year)?
  • What are my main achievements for this year (these don’t have to be big things! It can be, for example, noting that you’ve been able to listen more to your intuition than before , or that you’ve  spent more time in Nature, rather than work/career achievements, etc.)
  • What do I want to improve/change in my life?
  • What have I learnt about myself this year?
  • What would be my personal affirmation to guide me through the coming year?

I hope you enjoy musing upon these points and that they help you towards an overall view of 2017.  Then, if you like, you can use your answers to formulate plans and ideas for the New Year.

Wishing you all a peaceful and happy Solstice/Festive Season.

And may the New Year bring you good health, fulfilment, abundance and joy

With love and blessings


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