Personal Spiritual Transformation and Development
St Stephens Practice, 21a St Stephens Road
Norwich Norfolk NR1 3SP
Contact:
+44 (0) 7901 655655

The True Captain of Your Ship

Picture this. It’s a fine summer’s day. Out to sea, you’re enjoying your sailboat. With a gentle, comfortable breeze all is well. But suddenly, you notice fast approaching rolling dark clouds. What do you do? Do you turn back? Turn into the wind? Immediate action needs to happen. A decision to be made.

While knowledge and experience will make your decision easier, what if you don’t know what you are doing? What if you never paid attention to learning? Liked to wing it, ad-hock? Didn’t think it necessary? Preferring to learn through doing. How will this affect what happens?

The outcome of your next effort has a lot to do with what you feel important in life. For it is our values that will adjust those sails.

What are values?

Values are a major part of our belief system. As our guiding principle, they give a strong sense of identity. In this instance, perhaps one person values safety. So, without hesitation, they turn back. But for another, it may be courage. Up for a challenge they turn into the oncoming winds. Ultimately, along with experience, decisions are made based on what matters to us.

Where do these guiding principles come from?

Stemming from the conditioning of early childhood they reflect teachings and experiences of upbringing. A parent will teach their child what they know. What they hold in value. But, as we age, they can change. Values refine.

Going back to our sailboat, maybe your Dad showed you how to sail. Taught you the ‘ropes’. But what if he took chances that you now question? How do you progress? How does his experience reflect in your decision-making? As we become more of who we are, the natural process of self-evolution begins. Changing, a new guiding system is developed. One which reflects up-to-date values reflecting our unique self.

But there is more. We’ve talked about the sails, but what about the rudder?

Our core values. These do not change. For they reflect ethics. Rules of conduct that are based on a moral code. So, while we can hone our skills through greater awareness of what makes us – us. Evolve, embrace, and refine new values that better suit. Always it is the rudder of core values that we respect way too much to change. Why would we? For ultimately, it is the rudder that steers the ship.

       

Battery Recharge

Last week I struggled. With a few physical ailments, external stresses, and of course – lockdown, my battery went flat. When it came time to prepare for my radio show I felt sorely tempted to cancel. Yes. I felt like I couldn’t get from here to there. 

Can anyone else relate? Feeling low? Lacking motivation? Suffering from a lack of spark?

It’s bound to happen. As social animals, we feed off each other’s energy. When we meet another we spark off one another. Batteries charge whether through, a brief chat, a good belly laugh, in-depth conversation. But now with the need for social distance energy feeds are few and far between. 

How does this affect well-being?

Imagine deep inside of us is a vast sea. With a lack of external activity, we lose footing and start to fall into ourselves. Thinking about what we are thinking about. Then feeling what we are thinking about…feeling some more. Before we know we start to sink. The further down, the further away from the world around us. We end up lost in the world within.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

For me, the change happened with a decision. I could have decided as I can’t be bothered, didn’t feel I had anything to offer, not do a live show. Choose a replay. Or I could choose to do the show regardless. I chose the latter. Knowing that any change, big or small will create a shift. Giving me energy and lifting my mood and mindset. 

For it is in the action taking the spark ignites. Why? Because we are choosing to change our state of mind. Energy follows in the wake of the arrow. By doing the show I felt my energy boost. Which inspired me to take further action, charging my battery in the process. What we focus on we get more of.

There is a reason why we need one another. Yes, it ignites but as well, it stop us from drowning deep inside. An exchange of sparks lifting us up and out of the darkness of the self.

I am glad I pushed myself to take action. Why wouldn’t I? A flat car battery affects the whole car, making it of no use. While sourcing a pair of jump leads from another car soon puts you back in the drivers seat.

 

Windows of Yourself

The other day I had rude awakening. Looking up from his desk my husband asked “I thought the window cleaner came today? He did a lousy job. They’re still dirty!” Hmm.. The window cleaner had  just finished. And as always, doing a grand job cleaning the outside of the windows… What is the lesson of the Window?

Windows serve a few functions –

  1. They let light in.
  2. We can see out.
  3. Outside can see in.

But what happens when the inside remains dirty? It filters the light.

What does this teach us about ourselves?

By focusing only on outward appearance, neglecting inner house-work (personal growth) we see the world through the fog of ourself.

Those who wear glasses know how they require constant cleaning. It is always a bit of a shock when we hold them to the light. See how filthy they really are. But as well, that lovely sensation of putting on recently cleaned glasses. Wow! Such clarity. Now imagine, just cleaning the outside not the inside. One side polished. The other filmed with greasy fingerprints.

How would this effect your vision?

Hugely. It will impair it.

What if we never take the time and effort to get to know ourselves better? Do a bit of internal housekeeping? Let go of out-dated conditionings? Grow, refine and polish us?

We can spend all kinds of money rejigging what we look like. Change the nose, pull up the jowls, dye the hair, filter social media photos.  As we focus on appearance we think others will see us shine. But remember that filter of self-neglect? We’ll  just continue to view life through a dirty fog. As well, affecting how people see us. Or not see us – clearly. Remember windows works both ways. 

We are not just an image of who we are. We are so much more. By neglecting self-awareness, no matter what actions we employ to make the outer-self presentable, it will never quite work. Why?  Because we remain mismatched. What shines on the outside is dull on the inside. The good thing about inner work is once you start, you end up excited about positive change. Just like washing windows. You’re motivated to do more.

PS – I am off to clean my windows.. Much like personal growth it’s not difficult to do. I guess I just needed a reminder. Paying a window cleaner to only do the outside is an illusion.

The Energy of the Cut

With Spring in the Air, it’s time to get busy with the garden cleanup. Grabbing my secateurs I begin with the pruning. But as stems fall around me I suddenly find myself questioning –

  • Is this the right time?
  • Am I cutting in the right place?
  • Am I doing it right?

As I tend to garden more from instinct than with knowledge I hesitate. But not for long as what I lack in know-how I make up for in faith. Faith in my ability to know what to do and when to do it. As well, faith in Nature’s resilience. So with this trust, I carry on. 

What does this teach me about the ‘Energy of the Cut’?

With each cut I make I am altering its’ growth direction. Now no longer following the same route energy pulls back, regroups, before it resumes. Stronger because of the prune. Heathier because of my decision.

When we make the decision to cut something away, we do the same. And just like the plant, regroup. No longer going outwards we have more energy ready for redirection, for future growth.

For example-

• Cutting back on spending means we spend less and save more.

• By ‘cutting out’ friends/situations which don’t serve us we make the conscious choice to redirect making healthier/productive choices.

• Being told to “Cut it out!” tells us to ‘STOP’. Which changes energy flow.

• We can ‘cut away’ confusion by choosing improved communication and gain clarity with more information.

The ‘Energy of the Cut’ is decision-based. With each cut, the stem shortens. But if I hesitate, pull back, the cut is incomplete. I end up wounding the plant with my uncertainty. My action needs to be concise. Not hesitant. Otherwise, it confuses energy flow. Part of you going forward while part goes inward. Just as cutting halfway weakens the plant, so the same with us.

Nature teaches we can enhance growth with conscious choice. Think about where your energy is going. Are your actions and decisions serving you or do you just carry on? Is it time to grab those secateurs? As the ‘Energy of the Cut” instructs – be committed to taking action. Don’t make the cut if still uncertain. As with the plant, this directs your future.

Oh… and one last word. Another lesson from Nature – often the hardest cut – ends up being the best.

Staying Out of the Murky River

Recently I lost my Mom. Slipping downwards, the part of me which learns from life, watches the process of grief. The tearing strands of loss. Sorrow comes in many forms and I know I am not alone in my sadness.

For all of humanity is caught in the swift flowing current of pandemic, climate change, political unrest and financial shifting. With nothing to grab hold we falter. Swept along the rapids of everyday struggle we battle. Drowning in the intensity of uncertainty adrenaline surges as survival modes click in. As a result, everything feels so much more intense. Now, not only do I feel my fear but all entangled in this undertow of change.

Perhaps, what used to annoy us, now rises anger. Worry struggles now full blown anxiety. Mood dips now go deeper and feel more isolating. As we fall into the separateness of lockdown, loneliness bites. Where we used to care we now ask “Why? What is the point?”

What I have found useful is to hold onto the image of the Murky River. The river of human experience which we all share.

Doing so helps me to find  my way to its banks. As I step away away from the collective whole I find my footing. Where although still grieving, feels ‘easier’. For I am no longer trying to regain my balance laden with the grief of others. Not wanting the rapids of emotional magnification to drag me back down I stay watchful. As I know the power of The Murky River.

Awareness is key.

How do we stay out of the Murky River –

  • Recognise we are all struggling.
  • Notice how you feed your feelings? Are your thoughts in the correct proportion or exaggerated as the Murky River of emotional distress magnifies?
  • Again. Awareness is key. Just through the realisation that the collective whole adds to intensity, brings with it a more manageable perspective. 
  • This shift in perspective puts us on the bank. No longer drowning by the scramble of others we see clearer what our feelings are trying to tell us.

Remember feelings are the barometer of life. For they tell us what is going on. Adding everyone else’s feelings to our own fogs the glass, making it difficult to read. By staying out of the Murky River with feet firmly on its bank we can better manage. Embracing the positive change that this time demands.

 

My Mother’s Hands (1926 – 2020)

When I look at my Mom’s hands I think how tirelessly she lived her life. Doing for all. Hands which only stopped ‘doing’ in her last year. With five children she had very busy hands and even when we were off her hands (all of us at camp) she reached out to other children wanting to give them something special. Her hands making good memories for so many. Her hands reflecting her big Heart.

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Change your Focus – Change your Mind

I learned something grand the other day. It has to do with energy and choice.

Faced with a time sensitive creative project I was feeling bereft of energy. After my book launch my get up and go had got up and went. Even with a few days off I was still dragging at the bottom of the barrel. But with a deadline looming I just got on with the project. Very quickly I was immersed into the creative flow. Lost in shapes and colours suddenly my energy surged. I felt invigorated. Charged with creative energy I experienced a total recharge.Read More

Cages of the Mind

 

Let me tell you a story about a rabbit.

Always I’ve loved rabbits. Whenever I get one, out goes the cage and in-comes the house training. Years ago, I acquired Rose. A middle-aged huge white rabbit who had lived its entire life in a cage. So, being true to form, the first thing I did was put the cage in the back hall. Then lifting Rose gently out, placed her on the kitchen floor. Encouraging exploration and giving her free rein.

What did Rose do?Read More

The Energy of Easy vs Hard

Often in my work I hear “I could never do that. It’s way too hard.” “Is it easy?” “Why is it so hard?” Which prompts my question “Why do we shy away from what we think will be difficult?” 

What is the energy of Easy vs Hard? Let’s break it down.

As habitual beings, when we repeat an action enough times it eventually slips into the subconscious. Becoming routine we no longer having to think about what we are doing. We just do it. For example take learning how to drive. In the beginning very challenging. As any new skill requires our full attention. But then one day you find yourself driving and thinking about something totally different. Gone is the inner dialog, “Check the mirror.” “Shift. Shift now!!” “Give the bike a wide birth.” It’s become a habit. Becoming automatic the energy then changes from difficult too easy.Read More

The Lesson of the Chestnut Tree

A squirrel and myself shared a thought this morning. There he is was waiting on a gravestone with a chestnut in his mouth. Catching his eye I stopped to say hello. Standing just a few feet apart, telepathically our exchange lasted a number of seconds.

As I returned to my jog questions arose.

“How does he get the chestnut out of its casing?”

“Does he have to open the prickly outer shell?’

As if in response, I was suddenly aware of all the fallen chestnuts on my path. While I noticed some open and empty, others remained closed, holding tight to their prize. But then I found my answer as my eye was drawn to a beautifully displayed open husk cradling a chestnut in-waiting. Read More