Personal Spiritual Transformation and Development
St Stephens Practice, 21a St Stephens Road
Norwich Norfolk NR1 3SP
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The Lesson of the Chestnut Tree

A squirrel and I shared a thought this morning. Waiting on a gravestone with a chestnut in its’ mouth, I caught his eye and stopped to say hello. Standing just a few feet apart, we exchanged pleasantries which lasted several seconds.

As I returned to my jog, questions arose.

How did he get that chestnut out of its casing?

Did he have to open the prickly outer shell?

As if in response, my attention was drawn to the many 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 husk cradling a chestnut in waiting. 

Of course. The tree lets go, the chestnut opens. The squirrel does the planting and, a new life grows. 

But imagine if the tree hung on refusing to let go? Going against Nature takes a lot of energy. As vitality drains, the tree suffers while sacrificing its seed. The potential for new growth. So, how does this relate to us?

What is the lesson of the Chestnut tree?

What happens when a parent will not let go? Holding tight, the young adult misses out on the seed of its own life. Never exposed to the light of potentiality hinders the journey of possibility. The growing of their roots.

What happens when we hang onto hurt, disappointment, the past? When we refuse to release, move on, we also miss out. Keeping pain alive robs well-being. Unable to heal and forgive, we end up stuck in time. Change, understanding, and new life are all held at bay.

Everything has its time.

For the potentiality of new life in whatever form, ideas, change, growth, beginnings, life insists we don’t stem the flow of change. Not hang onto the past and go against the very essence of personal growth. Only through letting go do we open to the seed of greater understanding, new life taking form.

Think about it. How ridiculous if the grand old chestnut tree just held tight. Refusing to drop its’ chestnuts no matter how uncomfortable while sacrificing future growth. Just as the tree trusts in the timing of Nature, innately, we also know when it is time to let go. As for the Squirrel? His reward lies in the knowledge that by planting many acorns, he will always have enough.


Roof Tops and Chimney Pots

This morning while jogging in the city I found myself mesmerised by rooftops and chimneys pots. Studying the variety of shapes and colours reminded me how I was first taught to draw.

“Focus on the negative space and draw the line where the negative hits the positive.”  

It’s amazing, as just by drawing the shape of the negative, the foreground easily appears. Now as I jog I imagine drawing that line and as I do?Read More

Shaking off the Dust

I find it amazing how a simple decision can change your mindset. 

Housebound for over a month due to an injury, my husband suggested we go out for a walk. Although feeling better, it was one of those questions which weighed equally. It was raining. Do I make an effort? Do something different or stay stuck on the couch?

Fortunately, I said yes before giving it a second thought. Donning my rain gear, I was so glad I did. It reminded me how easily the gentle power of Nature shifts mindsets. And all we have to do – is be with it.

Stepping into the autumnal wood, I instantly felt my shoulders drop. 

It was the smell of the damp that hit me first. Feeling a life force entering through my nose, it reached down to my toes. With my senses bursting into life, I felt invigorated, present, back in the world. With each footfall, my mindset shifted. Pretty much instantly, I felt different. Awake.

How does Nature work her magic?

The Earth has a slower vibration than our own. So, as we engage, we step into the Earth’s broadband, slowing to match. Which is another way of saying we drop down from the mind. By stepping into physicality, our whirling mind slows and, we relax.

How does this change happen?

  • I smelled the richness of the season
  • Saw the beauty of the foliage
  • Felt the gentle trickle of the rain 
  • Listened to the raindrops from the canopy drop down to the leaves below
  • Tasted the aliveness of the energy around me

Nature – just doing what it does without needing my intervention, awoke me to my senses.

The gift of Nature pulls us into the moment. We are where we are. When caught in thoughts, we could be anywhere. Instead of absorbing the wonderment, we feed anxiety. Instead of focusing on abundance, we fear lack. 

Let’s face it. There is a lot to deal with at the moment. But we are not without resources to bring back a sense of balance. And all it takes is saying yes, going out for a walk.

Nature, giving us a break from ourselves, reboots and helps to re-align. As senses awaken, life-force shakes off the dust of struggle. As we step into the natural world our perspective shifts. Reminding us once again to see – all that is right with the world.

The Energy of Anticipation

Last week I received my first ever published book. Arriving in a simple brown box, it sat waiting to be opened. But I was in no hurry for its reveal. Why? Because I didn’t want to loose what I was feeling. Knowing it was expected, I awoke full of the glorious ‘bubbleness’ of anticipation. I didn’t want to open the box not because I wasn’t excited to see the finished article. But I didn’t want this feeling of overflowing joy to stop.

Do you remember that feeling? The younger you jumping up and down. Full of nervous excitement as you waited for Christmas or your birthday. Excitement so intense it had you ‘bouncing off walls’.

That day I was so moved, literally. Like a young child I jumped up and down while my ear to ear grin felt like a permanent fixture. Every cell charged with aliveness. I guess that is what I didn’t want to loose – my life force on charge.

What-ever happen to anticipation? Is it only for children? A feeling we outgrow as we put on the shoes of responsibility? Or is still within us. Perhaps it is not that it has moved away from us but we have moved away from it.

Living in an ever-ready world has its downfall. We have grown so used to instant gratification. Need something? Anything? Size, shape colour? Grab the laptop let your fingers do the shopping. Why pro-long the wait when there is the choice of a 24 hour arrival.

Have a desire? It’s yours. Easy peasy. No time wasted or effort spent. But at what cost?

Do you remember saving your pocket money? So excited as you got closer and closer getting what you really, really wanted? There was something so delicious in the waiting. Which I guess is why I had such a quandary about opening the box. I knew that the next feeling would replace my present one.

Eventually, I did open the box and my Heart burst with joy. A feeling equally as intense. All in all, it was an amazing day in which I will never forget and am so thankful I connected back into that ‘bubblicious’ feeling. A feeling so encompassing I couldn’t have contained it I wanted it to.

I have to wonder if we in our digital age having acquired so much we have equally lost. Everything is energy and energy must move. As we ride the energy of anticipation and the joy of waiting it is a good reminder to hold back. Don’t just grab because you can. Let time pass. Learn to wait. Take your time. Knowing that what you have been so looking forward will soon arrive. Why not loose a bit of the instant and reconnect into the dream. The wanting and the waiting. All energy has it place and Anticipation? It is the super-charger for joy. Something we really don’t want to do without.

COVID19 – Surviving the Great Spin

I had a vision the other day.  Due to COVID19 I saw all of humanity caught in an intense spin cycle. Going round and round with no end insight. My vision explained the sadness I was feeling. I felt bereft. Having lost the patterns of the recent past and as yet could not grab hold what the future will be. Bouncing off the drum I yearned for the simplicity of what was. To be able to just do as I did. No need for social distancing, constant washing of hands, donning the mask, curtailing social interaction or  changing the way I work. Yes, I am tiring of COVID 19 and wish this cycle would stop.

With my vision came the insight of choice.

I could feed into my frustration and cause more discomfort. Or accept that for awhile the dust of this pandemic has yet to settle. So how do we best work within this whirlwind of uncertainty?

Surviving the Great Spin – Things to keep in mind

Remember it is not just about you. We are spinning. Which makes it difficult to know what is happening right around us. There will be times when frustration and confusion bubble to the surface. Rather than take it personally, recognise that COVID 19 is affecting all. Just as you may struggle with change, uncertainty, fear so too are others. Be kind to one another. 

What was, is no longer as it was. To stick your head in the sand is not going to work. The sand will just shift around your head. Roll with the punches. Ask yourself, “How can I best manage?” Taking a more active roll.

Humanity is going through a major shift. Not only is everything chopping and changing on a daily basis but there is also great change going on within us. And like the outside world we can only catch a glimpse. We do not know how COVID19 ultimately will affect both the world around and the world within.

Focus has shifted. Due to lock down, furlough, working from home, shielding, city streets empty. Activity ceases. For many work, socialising, activity distracts us from us. But suddenly, this spin cycle has turned a spotlight on the inside. Making the mind more active. Thoughts whirl, emotions rise and fall. This is also part of this great Awakening. Get to know yourself. Understand and discover the you of you.

We are more emotional. Remember that spotlight? Learn to manage feelings. For like waves on a beach they come in and go out. Their purpose like a barometer tells you what is happening around you. Rather than fuel them with our thoughts accept how you feel, learn from them and let them go. Just as I did by acknowledging the sadness of this situation.

Embrace change. What changes can you make within this greater change? Rather than fear the shifting tides take charge of what you can do. Being proactive helps offset the frustration of what you can’t do.

Reach out to others. Make an effort to connect. Through a letter, a phone-call, listening ear, a good deed, an offer of support. While social distancing closes door to the physical, reaching out to another opens the door of the Heart. A touched Heart bridges all separation.

Of one thing I am certain – everything changes. This reassures me that this cycle will stop. All will settle. In its’ process we may end up battered and a bit bruised. Needing to pick ourselves up and reclaim solid ground once again. Or like a rough gem stone bouncing about in its’ tumbler emerge devoid of our rough edges. Shining that bit brighter. Always the choice is up to us.

Forming a Habit – 7 Key Ingredients

Time to get back on the ‘horse”. Due to a back niggle for the last month I’ve had to forgo my morning jog. Those in the know say it takes 21 days to form a new habit and as well, to break one. Well, its been 4 weeks (not 3) with the new habit of not jogging every morning starting to take hold. As I dust off my sneakers I know today is the day. So, how do I motivate myself?Read More

The Seven Gifts of Struggle

Listener’s Question – “Why do we struggle to gain strength?’

On this weeks radio show ‘The Cindy Hurn Show’ my listeners questioned the value of struggle. “Why do we have to do it?” “What do we gain?” “Can we not just stop going through hard things? Stop midway and move onto something else?”

At present, with the challenges of COVID19, many are struggling. The ground shifts below us. Uncertainty and fear grow as future security is in question. I feel like we are in one of those snow globes. The powers that be have picked it up and are giving it a good ole’ shake. The  problem is it has as yet to be put back down so we can appreciate the beauty of change.

Struggle reminds us everything has a purpose.

What is the value of suffering?Read More

7 ways to Live Your Best Life

An old college friend sent me a message which really got me thinking. She wrote “I hope you are living your best life.” Struck by her thoughtfulness this question stayed in in my mind stirring deep reflections.

Live your best life, what does that mean? How do we do that? Is it about accomplishments, success and security in the world? Or much more on a personal level? What does it mean to me?Read More

The Eyes of a Smile

As I write this England is on the verge of big change. On July 24, 2020 all people visiting shops will have to don the mask helping combat the spread of COVID 19. I heard this news just before I went into a large food shop. For the first time, there were many already wearing masks. As I went about my shopping I felt unease slipping into sadness.

Why has the wearing of masks affected me so much?

By their very design we don the mask to protect others.  Breaking the flow of breath from one to another. In order to be effective both nose and mouth need covering. As I looked around me all I saw were eyes. Down cast eyes. Inward thinking. Not the shining eyes of a smiling face.

One of the positive things I noticed with social distancing people are much more outgoing and friendly. Maybe it’s a cultural difference (I am American) but I find the English naturally reserved. Yet give them a cause and they come up trumps joining together to help. So, when the two metre rule came in although they would move out of the way there was always a smile and often a bit of a chat. Kindness within separation.

But now the smiles have gone.

Covered up by a variety of masks. Whether the everyday paper or fabric we have quirky, understated, practical and colourful. All separating us from one another. Doing what they are suppose to do.

I have to wonder what effect would this will have on our connection with each other.  Only 7-10% of all communication are through words. Which leaves the larger chunk interpreted subconsciously through body language and emotions. We read people by seeing and feeling.

When masked because it is more difficult to communicate we naturally fall inward. Just get on with what we are doing. The easy chit chat as we make space for another now lost in the awkward silence.

I recall the first time I saw a person wearing a mask. I was shocked as I couldn’t get a feeling from them. Were they safe or not? With lack of natural sensing I heard myself judging them. If we can’t feel another we judge. When we judge we naturally create more judgement – good vs. bad. After all how many of us grew up watching Westerns – always it was the bad guys who wore the masks.

Now as the world shifts a bit more and masks are don we loose smiles. So very important to the modality in everyday life. Even this morning while on a jog as I exchanged pleasantries with a stranger we matched smiles. There is no threat when we see and feel the warmth of another’s smile.

I guess then we all have to work really hard at learning how to smile with our eyes. Instead of downcast awkward eyes, let’s fill them with the warmth of a smile which cannot be seen. And by doing so – our eyes will reach out with reassurance that all will be well. 

What Trails Behind

Down my road is a cluster of beautiful wild flowers which makes me smile. While the rest of the verge is flowerless, this little area is full with blossom. I recently discovered they were spread by a woman who, before going for a walk, fills her pocket with seeds and scatters them as she goes. I imagine all around their area there were other pockets of flowers enhancing bits of forgotten land. I owe her this beauty. It is such a simple and thoughtful action which set me to thinking about legacy.

What is legacy?

Is it a need to be remembered or an empire to be built? Is it ego based or so much more? What about our legacy – what are we leaving?Read More