Posts Tagged ‘holistic healing’

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Veganism – a step towards a more compassionate world

December 11, 2012

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The human race in the 21st century seems to pride itself on its sophistication and civilisation. My belief is that we’re far from civilised and are, as Bill Hicks pointed out, only half-evolved:

 Folks, it’s time to evolve. That’s why we’re troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything’s failing? It’s because, um – they’re no longer relevant. We’re supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right? There’s another 90 percent of our brains that we have to illuminate.

In the same way that we can now sneer at our ancestors for believing the sun was a god and that the earth was flat, and express horror at the fact that kids were hanged for stealing apples and women were burned as witches for being different, so our descendants will deride us for our primitive behaviours. Fighting over territory, satisfying lusts for sex, blood and power – behaviours which are occurring, albeit in small and often petty ways  on a daily basis in each of our own little worlds, not just on a global level. We may be able to walk on two legs, communicate using a complex language system and create some amazing stuff, but underneath all that we’re still just driven by base animal instincts and ruled by those lower chakras.

 So how is this relevant to veganism? Here are some quotes from people far more eminent than myself who articulate this far better than I ever could:

 * “For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” Pythagoras, mathematician

 * “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist

 * “To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.” Romain Rolland, author, Nobel Prize 1915

 * “If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth — beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals — would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?” George Bernard Shaw, playwright, Nobel Prize 1925

 * “What is it that should trace the insuperable line? …The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” Jeremy Bentham, philosopher

 * “In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” Isaac Bashevis Singer, author, Nobel Prize 1978

 * “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” “To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.” Mahatma Gandhi, statesman and philosopher

 And finally, my original point summed up beautifully:

 * “Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” Thomas Edison, inventor

 The reason I feel there is a connection between the way we treat animals and our evolution is this. For many years I was a very strict vegetarian, then briefly I lapsed – not a lot, but enough. And with hindsight I can see that the reason I had this lapse and lost sight of the truth for a short while was because I was temporarily ‘asleep’  due to being in a very dark place in my life, and therefore living through my ego, my life ruled by fear rather than love. As I reawakened, opened up my higher chakras, and rediscovered my authentic self, I found myself naturally drawn to total vegetarianism again and the final turning point came when I stumbled upon a video online similar to this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeJfY5CXTM0

The actual video I watched, which is no longer available, was entitled ‘If you eat meat, you can watch this’. Now, I am one of those highly sensitive types who can’t bear to witness violence of any kind, so I tend to avoid this kind of thing as I know it will literally haunt me for the rest of my life. But I thought the challenge was fair enough, so I forced myself to watch it (though I had to have the sound turned down, and keep scrolling up and down). What I saw was so horrific that it was enough to convince me that I would never touch any meat product again. It seems abhorrent to me that an animal should suffer such a terrifying and violent death – and in many cases, an entire lifetime of suffering –  just so that a human can eat a meal which he or she probably doesn’t even appreciate that much anyway. When you grab a burger in your lunch break, your only concern is to satisfy your temporary hunger, and then it’s forgotten about. Yet in order for you to eat that meal, a sentient being gave his or her life. I could never again eat something knowing that in its original form, this food was a creature who lived a miserable existence treated as a commodity and spent his/her last few moments on Earth shocked, frightened and in pain. (And on a purely energetic level, is this really the kind of energy you want to be ingesting?)

I’ve since extended this to all animal products, having researched more on dairy and egg production and been horrified at what I found. I also no longer use cosmetics, toiletries or cleaning products which use substances such as glycerin taken from animals, or any product which is tested on animals. This also extends to my clothing, shoes, bags and any other object I purchase. Becoming vegan has been a really exciting life choice for me (and it IS a lifestyle choice, not just a diet) and is the only logical step for anyone wanting to lead a compassionate and ethical lifestyle. Plus, the food is yummy – since becoming vegan I’ve eaten a wider range of delicious and healthy foods than I ever have in my life – and I’ve really surprised myself with my cooking skills!

 As you cut through the swathes of negative conditioning and beliefs which have masked your authentic self, achieving inner simplicity and enjoying the fulfilment, harmony and serenity which come from opening up your higher chakras and finding meaning in your life, you will probably also find yourself gravitating towards a cleaner, purer and more ethical diet in other ways. As well as becoming vegan, you will probably find yourself naturally rejecting such things as nicotine, excess alcohol, recreational drugs, too much sugar, salt and caffeine and processed foods. Most addictions to these substances are due to a lack of meaning in your life, so it makes sense that an improvement in your emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing will result in these habits naturally falling away. Where the mind and spirit go, so shall the body follow.

If you are interested in committing to a compassionate lifestyle and becoming vegan then there are now many great resources on the internet  – type ‘vegan starter pack’  into your search engine and you will find loads of interesting material to get you started.

I can also highly recommend Liz Cook’s book ‘So what do you eat?’  for some fabulous vegan recipes. They’re really simple and yummy and the book is beautifully illustrated, and it’s a great introduction to vegan cooking. It really helped me and my family to make the transition.Check it out here.

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Ten Signs You’re Awake

December 9, 2012

Following my previous post ‘Ten Signs of Awakening‘, let’s now take a look at ten ways to recognise that you’re well and truly awake – that is, what life will be like when you’ve been through the awakening process described previously and come out the other side. You don’t necessarily have to resonate with all of these to be awake but you will find each of these factors becoming more prevalent in your life once you do wake up.

1) Being true to you

Now you’ve shed your ‘stuff’ and been through the healing process, your authentic core self – call it your heart, your soul, your soul-self – is revealed in all its glory. At last you know who you are and what it is you want – and there’s a good chance it’s nothing like the life you’ve been lead to believe you should want or the ‘you’ that the world has reflected back at you.

That’s because unlike the unawakened world you’ve grown up in, you’re no longer experiencing life via the ego which views everything with fear, is self-obsessed and creates defences to protect itself. Instead, you’re seeing the world through your soul-self and the eyes of love, which means you now look out more than in and have made that all-important switch from ‘service to self ‘ to ‘service to others’, which is the cornerstone of soulful living.  You now see the truth of what the world needs – and you know what it is you can do to make that difference.

‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment’.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

2) Living in the moment

When you were asleep and living your life steeped in fear, you probably found yourself constantly dwelling on past grievances and worrying about what the future would bring. Whilst it’s important to learn the lessons which the past has taught us and to have a plan in mind for the future, when you constantly reside in those places, you miss so much of what is wonderful in the here and now – and also miss what needs to be done to make the world a better place. Living in the past and the future is SO self-absorbing and creates depression and anxiety – living in the moment brings inner peace which leaves you free to truly notice what is really going on both within and without you.

3) Getting in the flow

Remember those Universal nudges I mentioned in my previous post about awakening? Now you’re fully awake, you become a clear channel for Universal energy and as such, you will find yourself getting into the flow of life and riding a wave of Universal nudges and your inner guidance (the voice of your ‘soul-self). These nudges, coupled with the discernment of your intuitive self,  will help to guide you on to the right path towards fulfilling your life purpose and to live an existence which resonates with your authentic self.

4) Having faith

When you’re awake, you learn to relax and have faith in the aforementioned flow of life which will lead you in the right direction for both you and the good of the Universe.  Having faith means letting go of outcomes and getting out of your own way – in other words, you no longer try and control things or force them to go your way, as you know now that what is yours will come to you. (What it doesn’t mean though, is that you just sit back and do nothing – having faith doesn’t mean that you can’t be proactive in your life so keep on following those nudges!)

5) Appreciation and gratitude

Being awake means that you now find yourself spontaneously appreciating and feeling gratitude for what you already have.  Instead of living life in a state of perpetual longing, you love the gifts you already have and appreciate the simple things in life – your home, your family, your health, your own unique gifts. You will also find yourself noticing the beauty around you and may find that you have a newly awakened interest in the natural world. Spending time in nature can be very restorative for the awakened soul.

6) Being able to manifest what you need when you need it.

When you get into the flow and have faith, something really amazing happens – you find yourself manifesting exactly what you need just when you need it (NB this is NOT about what you ‘want’ – the Universe is not going to make you a multi-millionaire overnight, unless of course, it feels that this is appropriate for your particular life purpose!). This is  due to your inner guidance being in tune with the Universal Energy, creating a mutual support system which manifests everything you need for the highest good of your self and others.

7) Radiance

When you’ve shed the layers of darkness which have been masking your inner light, your authentic soul-self will be able to shine through. Consequently you will find others being drawn to you as you exude universal energy and light – you literally become a beacon of light for all around you. However this does not mean that an awakened life is completely free of darkness – though you will find that your ‘light’ repels a lot of dark energy, so you won’t be touched by it on a personal level as much as before – as we will see in point 8.

8) Living in balance

One of the misperceptions which some people have about being awake is that an awakened life is all sunshine, fluffiness and twinkly angels. This can result in some rather sneery attitudes towards awakening from those who would consider themselves ‘realists’.  However nothing could be further from the truth.

Being awake means that we still recognise what is often termed the ‘duality’ of life (the light and the dark, the yin and the yang)  – but instead of attempting to repress, deny or project these aspects onto others, we accept them as a part of the whole rather than a separate entity – hence the term ‘oneness’ which is used to describe life as seen through awakened eyes.  We realise that the key to life is finding the balance between these aspects of ourselves and the world rather than allowing one to dominate – and in the next point, we will see how being awake and in touch with our core self allows us to deal with darkness in a far more healthy and productive way.

Living in balance also means that we live our lives in a more holistically healthy way, as we recognise how everything is connected. So we balance work and play, mind and body, and naturally gravitate to a more healthful way of being.

9) Dealing with unavoidable suffering in a positive and meaningful way

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes three steps we can take towards discovering the meaning of life, the third of which is our attitude towards unavoidable suffering.

When we are awake, our authentic core self and the strength and inner peace which that gives us, means that never again will we be destroyed by external events in our lives. This does not mean that you won’t grieve or feel angry, but you will no longer allow any tragedy which befalls you to define you and control you.

To read more about people who have dealt with unavoidable suffering a positive and meaningful way and find out more about the three steps Frankl suggested to discover the meaning of life, check out my blog post on this here.

10) Being the change you want to see in the world.

When you’re fully awake, you don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk too. Your whole life becomes  an example to others of how to find inner peace and you become the living embodiment of compassion and empathy. Your mantra becomes ‘Do no harm’ and you strive to leave the world in a better state than it was when you originally entered it in your current physical form.

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On Being An Empath (part two)

May 30, 2012

Part Two – The Delights

Empathy: the state of identification of personalities in which one person feels into the other as temporarily to lose his or her own identity. It is in this profound and somewhat mysterious process of empathy that understanding, influence, and the other significant relations between persons take place.  – Rollo May

In part one of “On Being An Empath” we examined the difficulties of being an empath. In this second part, we’ll now explore how to take care of yourself once you’ve recognised you’re an empath, and the delights which being an empath can bring.

TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Now you’ve recognised that you’re an empath, the most important change you can make is to take care of yourself by minimising the number of negative influences in your life. As discussed in part one, as an empath you are susceptible to the detrimental effects of negative energy, whether it’s surrounding energy or your own.

This susceptibility affects your life in a number of ways. Firstly, you will be unable to tolerate an unhealthy relationship at any level. Some people are able to exist in such a relationship for many years, perhaps by operating as though it were simply a business arrangement, but as an empath you are unable to do this. Indeed, if you do attempt to follow this course of action, you will end up becoming physically, emotionally or mentally sick – I have know more than one empath who has become suicidal when stuck in a loveless marriage. I have also known other empaths who have ended up becoming completely numb – unable to cope with the negative energy, they simply cut themselves off from ALL energy and feel nothing at all. What a horrible (non) existence. Consequently, the aware empath would rather remain single than be in a negative relationship.

You will also be unable to tolerate work which is meaningless – what Barry Jaeger in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person calls ‘Drudgery’. Though many people are able to tolerate a dull job purely for the money, you are not one of them and if you make such a sacrifice, you will ultimately pay for it with your emotional, spiritual and physical health. The aware empath values their time, their well-being and meaningful work far more than they value money and consumer goods. Sadly, our society revolves around the masculine principles of economics whilst the more feminine attribute of empathy is often derided and neglected. And whoever dreamt up the work ethic certainly did not have people like us in mind – and was definitely not an empath.

The empath’s preference for meaningful work means that you will find many of us working in creative fields – the writer, the musician and the artist will often have this trait to some degree. Creativity is food for the soul for the empath and I personally find it vital to my well-being to use creativity in my work. I’ve done many jobs over the years but this is the only work I’ve truly enjoyed – even the more stressful and tedious aspects are easier to cope with when your work means something more to you than just a way of paying the bills.

As an empath, you will also benefit from periods of solitude to recuperate after any energy bombardment. In part one I discussed the difficulties for the empath of being in an urban environment. As I’ve got older (and empaths often become more sensitive to energies the older they become) I find that if I spend the day in a nearby town, I can only last a few hours before I have to get the hell out of there.

I also used to have what I call ‘brain in the jar’ moments. Before I recognised my trait, I would spend too much time amongst other people and become so overwhelmed, that it literally felt as if my head would explode. I would also find myself becoming overwhelmed by stressful situations or issues in my life. Whenever I felt like this, I would comment that I wished I could ‘take my brain out of my head and put it in a jar’, as a way of giving myself a break. At some subconscious level, obviously I knew what I needed – complete and utter sensory rest.

Fortunately I eventually recognised this need so I now make sure that I regularly recharge my own energy by spending time alone, meeting my need for time to contemplate, read, write and generally take care of myself – and my ‘brain in the jar’ moments no longer occur. I also realised that, for the same reasons, empaths need more sleep than most people. If you have commitments such as work and family, this can be easier said than done, but at least try and take half an hour to nap or lie in a dark, quiet room during the course of the day to revitalise yourself.  Some empaths are so unable to cope with energy onslaughts that they become recluses or hermits, but for most of us there is no need to go to this extreme, although time spent in retreat for a few days can be a positive thing now and again. This can be particularly useful for urban empaths, as time out in a tranquil rural environment can really give you a boost as well as indulge your passion for nature, which occurs naturally for many empaths.

Finding a pastime which absorbs you is also a good way of giving yourself a break. My personal favourite used to be jigsaws – you’ll find that  ‘geeky’ pastimes like model-making or stamp collecting are particularly good for this, as are creative pursuits such as gardening, painting, sculpting, or cookery. So long as it takes you out of your conscious mind for a while to give you time to balance your energy, any pastime you choose will do.

Basically then, the rule is to be your own best friend – take care of yourself, eat and sleep well and give yourself little treats now and again. Time spent relaxing with a good book in a local friendly coffee shop is my idea of bliss and is a really cheap and simple way to give yourself a lift and recharge your batteries. And remember to talk kindly to yourself – empaths tend to analyse everything and can end up being hypercritical of themselves. Whenever you catch yourself judging yourself harshly, ask yourself ‘Would I speak like this to my best friend? Would I tolerate my best friend saying this stuff to me?’ If not, then perhaps you need to reconsider.

Ultimately, self care is crucial. The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be open to the following benefits of being an empath.

 UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE – TELEPATHY, SYNCHRONICITIES AND DREAMS

Because of your high level of resonance, you will probably be tuned into the ‘universal energies’ or what Jung called the collective unconscious. This gives you a deep sense of knowing – you just ‘know’ things despite there being no rational explanation as to how you know – as well as a strong feeling of connection, which can lead to the spiritual belief that separation is an illusion and ‘we are all one’. This connection and knowing also opens us up to the ‘universal guidance’ which is contained within these energies, which is why many empaths are natural problem solvers, able to resolve any issue which they put their hearts, souls and minds into.

I mentioned in part one how my daughter and I are so close that as soon as we’re in each others energy range, I start to feel her physical symptoms. This energetic connection with others, often referred to as telepathy, is one of the fun aspects of being an empath. As well as those little tricks which many of us do such as thinking about someone just as they call you, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years the day after you thought about them, you may also find yourself connecting energetically with people in other less obvious ways. I find that I often tune into people I’m close to through my dreams, perhaps because my mind is more relaxed and therefore more receptive. For instance, if my daughter wakes before me in the morning and reads a book, I often have a dream which reflects the contents of that book in some way. A recent example was a dream I had about Glastonbury music festival one morning shortly before I woke. When I asked P what she had been reading, it turned out that there was a character in her book that had the nick-name ‘Glastonbury’! Even more bizarrely, I have even on occasion had the same dream as my daughter or my partner.

I also have prophetic dreams which you can read about in my blog entry The Magical World of Dreams. Empaths are often fascinated by dreams and we are natural dream analysts, due to our ability to see the deeper meaning in things and make lateral links using subtle details. This ability also works in the waking world too and helps us to interpret signs, symbols and archtypes, as well as synchronicities. Aware empaths delight in synchronicities and as our understanding of ourselves and our connection to the universe grows, we find that the universal guidance which appears in the form of synchronicities becomes ever more fluent and clear. You can read more about synchronicities in my blog entry So What Is Synchronicity?

PEOPLE AND OTHER ANIMALS

The aware empath is often described by others as ‘a beacon of light’. You will find that people are drawn to you and babies in particular will adore you – I often notice little children staring and smiling at me from their pushchairs when I’m out and about.

A similar thing can happen with animals. Empaths have a deep connection to animals and love to be around their energies. You may even find you prefer their company to that of people, as you feel animals – and their energies – are simpler and don’t have an agenda. Perhaps those ‘crazy cat ladies’ who prefer to live alone surrounded by felines are actually misunderstood empaths.

As an empath, you will also be able to resonate with the emotions of animals and unlike most people, you will view them as sentient beings who should have the same rights as humans. Because of this, many empaths become vegetarian or vegan at some point in their lives.

As far as people go, the empath makes a great friend for life, as we are loyal, warm and, humorous as well as very loving and affectionate. We are also good listeners, who are unembarrassed by strong emotion as well as being pretty much unshockable. However a healthy empath will have no tolerance for drama queens who seek attention through emotional behaviour. Though we are highly expressive about our feelings and ourselves, with the ability to share openly and honestly, we are also natural peacemakers, so prefer calm discussions to overwrought emotional spectacles or aggressive confrontations.

If you befriend an empath, then they will probably be your greatest champion. Empaths recognise your inner potential, so are able to identify your positive attributes and will remind you of your strengths when you forget you have them. (Paradoxically though, they often find it hard to take a compliment themselves.) They may also subtly alert you to any negative patterns in your life in a helpful and non-patronising way, as your empath friend has the ability to sift through all the confusing emotions you are experiencing which may be clouding the issue, to help you achieve clarity and find the root cause of your problem. And should they ever feel angry with you, you can rest assured that they will express this without attacking you personally – empaths are not judgmental and they recognise that just because a particular behaviour is bad, it does not mean that the person is bad too.

YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Being an empath means you have the ability to sense the truth behind someone’s facade. You intuitively know when someone is attempting to mask a negative emotion. One theory is that when we are in the presence of an emotion we have personally experienced, we recognise it and feel it within ourselves, due to our high level of internal resonance. The empath is also able to read body language, mostly at a subconscious level – you will pick up on things like tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use – all factors which help you to tune into others and know things about them which other people probably miss. This also makes you very difficult to lie to! Not only are you able to detect a lie, you can also tell whether the intent behind that lie is malicious and selfish, or whether it’s a white lie, told in an attempt to protect someone else.

Empaths are also highly expressive themselves. They project an incredible amount of energy releasing their emotions, with many gesticulations, and as they are so open about themselves, the empath is usually the person of whom it is said that you can ‘read them like a book’. We also delight in using our bodies in a sensual way – empaths can literally become ‘lost in music’ when they dance, their bodies becoming one with the music to create one wonderful mass of  flowing, sensual energy.

NATURAL HEALERS

As you become aware of your empathy, you will recognise more and more how sensitive this makes you to the energies around you. The fact is that as an empath, energy is literally absorbed by you far more easily than more thick-skinned folk (hence the expression) so by increasing your awareness, you will be able to be more selective about which energies you allow yourself to absorb. This also means you will be able to experience a high level of resonance with another, without being overwhelmed by a multitude of outside influences.

When you have achieved this level of balance and awareness, you will find that all your empathic qualities as discussed above – your deep inner knowing, your connection to the universal energies and so on – make you a natural healer and counsellor. Indeed, for an empath a good way of sublimating the energy we talked about in part one – which attracts the energy vampires and lame ducks – and drawing boundaries around your own propensity to give of yourself to others, is to channel it into training in a helping or healing profession.

Being counselled by an empath is an amazing and life-changing experience. After just a few hours of conversation, you will feel as if the empath knows you inside out. This is due to the afore-mentioned ability for high emotional resonance, which allows the empath to tune into your energy and emotional state, giving them an uncanny ability to pinpoint what you most need and want. They will also ask the questions others may be afraid to ask – if you’re willing to face up to some possibly uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life and recognise your negative self-destructive patterns in order to grow and be true to the real you, then working with an empath will change your life.  An empath will not shy away from talking about feelings of loss either, and will help you to gain perspective on your issue as well as heal from emotional wounds, past and present.

In addition to helping you to heal, the empath will point out strengths and abilities you perhaps never realised you had. Personal empowerment is very important to the empath so they will always respect your courage and sense of determination to survive and will trust in your ability to heal and take care of yourself. All this creates a very safe environment with a high level of trust and a strong intimacy. The relationship between an empath and their client is more than just a business transaction – an authentic and caring relationship will be formed between you as the empath helps you to be your best self and to live the truth of who that best self is.

Empaths may also find themselves being drawn to other types of healing work directly involving energy, such as Reiki. With our natural ability to tune into the universal energy, learning to channel this energy through ourselves to help others is a path which many empaths naturally gravitate towards.

I do hope this article has helped you to understand your trait a little better. If you feel that anything here resonates with you, do please leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

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How I’m trying to change the world

March 26, 2012

So far I’ve shared with you the story of my awakening and the transformational process which followed.  In this post I’m just going to briefly share with you the causes I support and the little bit that I do to try and make a difference to the world.

My main reason for running this site and Facebook page and writing my blog is to promote empathy and equality and help others to find inner peace. I believe in equality for all regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality or species and I think the way to achieve this is through increased empathy and compassion for others. Empathy and compassion increase in people who are content within themselves and are in touch with their authentic selves, having healed their emotional baggage. The flip side of empathy and compassion are injustice and abuse, and I do my best through my internet communication to promote the former and counteract the latter.

I am particularly concerned about the way humans exploit animals and consequently live a vegan lifestyle, which has proved to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. There are many resources out there now for those of us wanting to commit to a completely compassionate lifestyle – just put ‘vegan’ into your search engine and see what comes up.

I also support an animal sanctuary with regular monthly donations. I decided that I wanted to give my support to an animal charity but didn’t just want to give money to one of the ‘giants’ – I wanted to support a specific cause and to see what happened to that money. Last year I visited the Animal Sanctuary in Wilmslow and was really bowled over by the warmth and compassion I felt as we were shown round. The animals are so well cared for and all the staff clearly love what they do. I also like their ethos –  the sanctuary is part of the Humane Education Society,  a charitable organisation working for a more compassionate society through education and practical work with children and animals, and as such offers permanent and temporary homes to animals in need of some loving care, including cats, horses, hens, rabbits, ferrets and pigs.

However, probably the biggest way I’m currently doing my bit to change the world is through my work with young people as this is actively working with the next generation to prompt lasting and positive change. I decided to offer Empathic Guidance sessions to schoolchildren after discussions with my daughter and her friends about many of the usual issues which affect young people such as bullying, body image and sexuality. The support and guidance which I gave them seemed to make a huge difference to their self-esteem and what I found particularly heartening was the fact that the coping techniques which they learned soon became second nature to them. This resulted in a positive increase in their intrinsic self-worth and in their ability to deal with difficult situations and ultimately (and delightfully),  in significantly happier children.

I strongly believe that it really doesn’t matter how gifted and talented or academically successful someone is – if their emotional well-being has been eroded and consequently their  core sense of self is significantly diminished then chances are they’ll end up leading dysfunctional lives. I also feel that the emotional well-being of our young people isn’t given enough attention within our current educational system, so I thought it might be a positive contribution to our society to offer a service which might redress the balance a little.

A school Empathic Guidance session offers support, insight and guidance to the pupils  and is  a safe place for them to share any issues which they feel they cannot discuss with parents, teachers or peers. I began a year ago working on a one-to-one basis but am now working with Panda, the school’s youth worker, on group workshops covering topics such as assertiveness and confidence-building.

My dream is that Empathic Guidance will prove popular enough for us to offer sessions and workshops to other schools and that eventually emotional well-being will be recognised as an important part of our children’s upbringing and education.

Finally, like the famous Gandhi saying, I do believe that we should ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. So as well as the above, I do my best to be pleasant, amiable and polite to everyone I meet during the course of the day – little things like saying please and thank you  and hello and goodbye to people who serve you in shops, leaving tips in cafes, holding doors open for people can make a huge difference and hopefully has a ripple effect, so that the recipient of the amiable and courteous treatment will then treat the next person they encounter in the same way. It’s a really simple way of ‘spreading the joy’ and making a difference.

So that’s a little bit about me and what I do – how are you doing your bit to try and make a positive difference to our world?

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How I changed myself…

March 24, 2012

In a previous post, I wrote about my first awakening experience and explained how this initial ‘waking up’ can be a little taster to whet your appetite for the fully awakened life.  However, before we reach this enlightened state, we often have to undergo a transitional period during which we strip back the layers of social conditioning and defensive walls, heal the emotional and psychological wounds and clear away the emotional and spiritual blockages which living a false life has created.

In some ways, the word ‘change’ is a misnomer – I prefer to think of this time as an alchemical process, where all the past stuff is transformed into gold, with all the garbage dealt with and disposed of and only the wisdom remaining. It’s also a time when we declutter ourselves and our lives to reveal what was within us all along –  that golden nugget which is our authentic core self.

My first counselling experience, as referred to in the ‘How I woke up’ post, had a dramatic impact on my life. Through this work:

* I realised how much my past was impinging on my present.

* I began to look for answers within rather than without.

* I finally got a glimpse of the real me, beyond what society or other external influences expected of me, and to be true to this real self.

* material stuff didn’t matter to me anymore and I felt a great urge to get rid of most of my possessions and live as simply as possible.

* being ‘of service’ felt like the most important thing to me and I felt strongly that this was connected in some way to my writing.

All this occurred in 1995 and I felt sure that this was how my life would be from this point onwards. Indeed, these basic principles still form the basis of my life philosophy and I feel they are the cornerstones of the awakened life. However it was early days for my authentic self, and though I’d had a glimpse of life through awakened eyes, it turned out there was still a lot of work to do before this authentic self could be fully realised.

Over the next decade and a half, I’ve worked really hard on my personal and spiritual growth and though it’s been really tough at times, I’ve learned a lot, particularly thanks to my decision to train as a counsellor and through becoming a parent.  I’ve also read a lot of books, spent a lot of time writing journals and spent months having personal counselling to help me deal with issues which were just too great to work through by myself.

Below is a list of many of the lessons I’ve  learned, in no particular order, and the changes I’ve made – as I said, I’ve learned a lot and I’m sure there are some things I’ve missed out but here are the ones I can think of right now:

* I gained a much clearer insight into my motives and the motives of others.

* I reframed negative past events and, after learning the important lessons those experiences had to teach me, was finally able to make peace with them and let them go.

* I learned a lot about how I relate to others including how to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive, and how to establish healthy personal boundaries.

* I learned how to reparent myself and love my inner child whilst simultaneously silencing  my inner critical parent.

* I learned not to be a victim and not to take everything personally – it’s not always about you!

* I learned that sometimes we have to sit with the bad stuff for a while and that instant gratification is not the key to long term contentment – short term pain really can lead to long term gain.

* through my relationship with my child, I learned the value of commitment – that if you ride out the bad times, the good times often just keep on getting better.

* I also learned that if we’ve had a bad day and take it out on our loved ones, it’s important to let them know that the fault lies with you and not them, otherwise you may negatively affect their self-image (not doing so is a form of emotional abuse).

* through my bad relationships, I learned a lot about what I DON’T want from my life and the people I share it with; that I have no time for games and just want straightforward communication, and that the only people I want around me are people who enhance my life, not those who are detrimental to it.

* I learned that everything I really need, I can give to myself if necessary.

* I learned the value of solitude and independence.

* I also learned the value of true friendship and support and that when you find this, you should treasure it as it’s very rare.

* I realised that capitalism and its propaganda machine, the media, are influencing and damaging our world and that consumerism is not the gateway to happiness and fulfilment.

* I learned that putting one’s self first is not always a bad thing if one ascribes to the right values – that the sum of the parts makes the whole and if all the parts are healthy, emotionally and spiritually, ergo the whole will be the same – and that is NOT the same as ‘selfishness’, enhancing one’s own wellbeing at the expense of others.

* I learned that we only have the present and that living in the past or hankering for a better future means we miss an awful lot of good stuff on the journey (though it’s wise to be in the present with a nod to the past and the wisdom gained from this, and an eye on the road ahead, being aware of opportunities and possible potholes).

* I learned that there are really only two states, love and fear, and that all the ills of the world come through fear in some form or other.

* I learned that embracing your shadow rather than denying it makes you more of a person, not less.

* I learned that there’s no such thing as a negative emotion – all emotions have a message for us – and whether or not the outcome is negative depends on how you express that emotion.

* I learned that true beauty is within and not necessarily without.

* I learned that you will never find contentment unless you are true to yourself.

* I learned that a great philosophy for life is ‘keep it simple’

* I learned that pretty much most of what society tell you is the way to live is wrong and that most of what we are meant to aspire to is a trap to keep you stuck in the rat race and keep you lining the nests of those at the top of the tree.

* I learned that self-responsibility is the key to holistic healing – to achieve healing, only you can do the work. Others can offer you guidance but the real work is down to you.

*I learned about my Highly Sensitive nature and how I have a gift for empathy, an awareness which has allowed me to take care of myself and use my traits in a positive way, rather than chastising myself for not being able to be out there in the world and deal with life in the same way as non-HSPs/empaths.

* I learned to listen to my intuition and follow the ‘nudges’ that the universe gives me through signs, symbols, dreams and synchronicities.

* I learned about energy and how Universal energy connects us all and how powerful a resource this can be if we learn to utilise it properly.

* I learned that sometimes you just have to let go and hand over whatever you’re going through to the Universe or whatever Higher Power you believe in.

* I also learned that although you’ll still go through difficult times, once you’ve found and strengthened  your authentic  core self, it becomes so much harder for life to knock you off your feet (even though you may find yourself wobbling precariously for a while).

So as you can see, my awakening has prompted a lot of personal change and made a huge difference to my life. I now know who I am and what I want and need, and I’ve healed and unblocked a lot of emotional, psychological and spiritual baggage, making me a clearer channel for Universal energy and increasing my empathic connection with the world.

Of course, personal and spiritual growth is a lifelong adventure and I’m still learning – currently I’m working through ongoing issues related to my most intimate relationships and am wrestling with the concept of money as an energy, something which many people who follow a spiritual path struggle with. But my reconnection with my authentic self means that I never feel that existential despair which used to dog me and even when things are tough, life never feels meaningless as my purpose is now so very clear.

In my next post, I’ll share with you how all this personal change has led me to my life purpose and what I’m doing in my own small way to help change the world. In the meantime, do please share your awakening and personal transformation stories with me in the comments below.

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Welcome! Wake up, change yourself and change the world

March 20, 2012

Welcome to the new-look Empathic Guidance site! 2012 is going to be a highly significant year for many of us, so I decided that now was the time to relaunch the former ‘Inner Simplicity with Empathic Guidance’ site and blog. Over the coming year, we’re going to see a lot of historic changes which will affect us personally, socially and globally (more on this in future posts), and I hope that my words on here will offer you support and inspiration to guide you through the months ahead.

To give you some idea about the theme of this new-look site and blog, here’s the blog post which prompted this change. It’s a piece I wrote a few years ago now and have published previously on myspace and on my Inner Simplicity blog where it has resonated with many readers, and I feel it’s still relevant today in terms of offering a succinct summary of my theories.

Wake up, change yourself and change the world

Ok, so the first thing I want to make clear is this is MY reality, no-one else’s. What is true for me may not be true for you, and I wouldn’t want anyone to mindlessly take on board everything I have to say. The whole point of this stuff is ‘personal empowerment’ and giving your power away to anyone or anything, be it a bearded man in the sky, a bearded man in a kaftan or any type of self-proclaimed guru, or even false gods such as ‘mammon’ is simply counterproductive. So have a read, explore the parts that interest you and reject the bits that don’t.

The second point to make is that the basis of this theory is energy. I’m no physicist and this is a brief summary of my ideas, so I’m not even going to attempt to explain the laws of physics, though I can tell you that there is plenty of scientific proof of my basic belief if you want to check it out. For now, in a nutshell, my belief is that everything is made of energy and that all this energy is connected, hence ‘one consciousness’.

So the whole planet is energy and the whole planet is currently living in a state of ‘duality’. This duality causes people to become judgemental and afraid, judgemental of things they label ‘bad’ and afraid that they may themselves be labelled ‘bad’.  Everyone is competing to be the best or certainly better than the next man. And as most people are never going to achieve this, they end up feeling bitter, disillusioned, disappointed, and often looking for someone to blame as to why they did not receive the promised treasures. As for those that do ‘succeed’, they too are afraid – afraid they will lose it all tomorrow and no longer have their ‘power’, hence using this ‘power’ to keep the little man down, be it through creating fear or creating apathy .

The reason for this is that the energies of the planet are currently imbalanced in favour of the masculine. This is why there is so much emphasis on acquisition and aggression; why sex and ‘stuff’ are overrepresented in the media. Masculine energy, in its positive state, is a ‘doing’ energy – but for it to be used for the good of all, it needs to be balanced with the feminine energy, which is nurturing and creative. When I talk about moving away from duality, I do not mean that there will be no more ‘black/white’ ‘happy/sad’ etc – I am talking about finding balance between two apparently opposing states. So an ideal state for the planet, in my view, would be using the masculine energy to manifest the creative and nurturing ideas of the feminine. So far masculine energy has been used to manifest more ‘stuff’ but only to satisfy the ego – the development of technology should have worked as an agency of freedom, allowing us time and energy for ‘giving’ using the feminine energy, but instead people have become focussed on the ‘getting’. This is why I think we have lost our way. Everything has become a commodity, how ever well-intentioned at the start (the Green movement is a prime example).

So that’s the overall picture. How does this affect the individual? The individual is like a microcosm of the planet, and at the moment most of us are being ruled by our masculine energy, in the form of our ego. The ego is also the basis for the ‘inner child’ – imagine the ego as a toddler in the throes of the terrible twos and you get the picture. As well as the tantrum-ing toddler, there is also the ‘critical parent’ – that voice that tells the toddler that s/he’s never going to get that flash car/gorgeous figure/ great career/hot lover because s/he’s a piece of shit and doesn’t deserve it, and anyway, everyone is better than her/him. So this is the battle – or some variant of this – that most of us have going on in our heads at some level on a daily basis.

But one day something happens to us – we realise that we have been sold a lie and that the things we were told would fulfil us – the job, the house, the car, the holidays and gadgets –  are just traps to keep us compliant. In fact, everything in our lives has been about raising us to maintain the status quo – our education has quashed our individuality and turned us into obedient drones and society tells us that the only way to be a ‘good, respectable’ citizen is by working your arse off 40 hours a week to pay for all the stuff that you good respectable citizens are meant to have, otherwise you’re simply not good or respectable enough. Either we come to this realisation slowly or we undergo a major crisis or some kind of positive spiritual experience which is the catalyst for this change. For me, it was losing my job and, after the initial panic about how I was going to survive,  realising that I didn’t want to take yet another boring, underpaid/overworked job just to satisfy some work ethic drilled into me by the powers-that-be. This was the summer when I caught a glimpse of how life could be, a little taster of how it feels to be awakened, and the true beauty of recognising that we are all one consciousness. This seems to be something that many people experience at the beginning of awakening,  perhaps so that we stick to the path when it starts to get bumpy.

Because it does get bumpy for a while, really bumpy. That ego/inner child/critical parent combo is not disappearing without a fight.  Depending on how much shit you have to work through, the next few weeks/months/years will be spent understanding and placating this part of yourself – notice I don’t say obliterating, because this is about balance. A healthy ego, a playful inner child, a nurturing parent – this is what we are aiming for. The ego is there for a reason – it’s the ego which keeps us alive and safe and well – but it needs to know that it is not the centre of the universe. So treat your ego in the same way you would treat that petulant toddler –  let it know that  you are willing to respect it, so long as it respects you – give it boundaries, listen to its stories and acknowledge its pain, but don’t allow it to use the pain as an excuse for negative behaviour, either towards itself or others.

While you are working through this stuff, be it alone or with a counsellor/guide (I would recommend both ways), you will also experience some physical symptoms. This goes back to what I said about everything being energy – everything is connected, and that includes the mind/body connection. As you begin living through your heart/soul instead of your mind/ego, our thoughts change to those of a higher vibration which impacts our feelings, and our body is also affected by these changes. An example of this is the stress reactions our body has – who hasn’t felt sick with nerves, at some point? Or found themselves physically shaken by bad news? Or on a happier note, felt your heart soar when someone you love tells you they love you back?  The body is full of energy points (the chakras) and you may feel some of the changes most strongly in these parts. I’m working on a comprehensive list of all of these changes, but probably the major ones are fatigue and various aches and pains which appear in some part of the body only to mysteriously disappear and never return. Many of the symptoms also sound like the menopause – hot flushes, memory loss etc – but as these are appearing in men and also in people of all ages, it’s actually a sign of hormonal changes taking place, as hormones regulate just about every function in your body including emotions, weight, body temperature, libido, mental activity concentration, sight etc.

And meanwhile there are other changes taking place. Your excitement at recognising this new way of being could lead to you reading everything you can lay your hands on to make sense of what is happening to you.  As you begin vibrating at a higher level, you will also find your tolerance level for things of a lower vibration diminishing . You may find yourself feeling angry at the world for a while. You become increasingly isolated and your home becomes your sanctuary as you feel out of step with everything and everyone ‘out there’.  Your senses become more highly tuned and you may find yourself craving foods you never wanted before and turning your nose up at previous favourites. Loud noises, bright lights and heaving crowds become unbearable and you may want to spend more time in natural surroundings. You no longer value material stuff anymore, as you realise that you already have everything you need (and more – you may even begin to give stuff away). As you become increasingly sensitive to energy, you may also find yourself having what people consider ‘psychic’ experiences – you know things you couldn’t possibly know and your intuition becomes more efficient. Some people feel that this is the voice of your Higher Self, or your spirit guides – my personal view is that we are tuning into a higher frequency and becoming more aware of the subtleties in the environment. Synchronicities increase as you tune into these energies more and more and life begins to ‘flow’. Your relationships change – some may even end as you realise you are on different paths and simply have nothing in common anymore, or you may become less tolerant of the ‘energy leeches’ in your life, as your self-respect increases. You care less and less what other people think (a major sign that the ego is losing its stranglehold) and instead of wondering what people can do for you, you start to look at what you could do for them – and do it.

It’s at this point that you know you are ‘awake’ as STO (service to others) rather than STS (service to self) is the cornerstone of spiritual awakening. You recognise that you are powerful already, that it was only your ego (and the egos of others in the collective unconscious) that gave you the illusion that you needed something more to prove your power, and that the divine spark, what people have labelled ‘God’, is something within you, within all of us, not just ‘somewhere out there’. You take responsibility for yourself and you no longer just want to talk the talk (or read the books), you want to walk the walk. And underlying this is a feeling of ‘all-rightness’. You feel all right in yourself – you’ve accepted yourself for who you are and embraced your ‘shadow side’ – and you feel all right in the world. You change what you can and accept what you can’t, be it in you or out there. And so what began as an individual change, begins to change the world, like that proverbial butterfly flapping its wings.

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Empathic Guidance for schools – raising self-worth, one child at a time

March 4, 2011

Above and below you can see the wonderful posters designed to promote my Empathic Guidance school service by my fabulous friend Donna Hall.

I decided to offer Empathic Guidance sessions to schoolchildren after discussions with my daughter and her friends about many of the usual issues which affect young people such as bullying, body image and sexuality. The support and guidance which I gave them seemed to make a huge difference to their self-esteem and what I found particularly heartening was the fact that the coping techniques which they learned soon became second nature to them. This resulted in a positive increase in their intrinsic self-worth and in their ability to deal with difficult situations and ultimately (and delightfully),  in significantly happier children.

I strongly believe that it really doesn’t matter how gifted and talented or academically successful someone is – if their emotional well-being has been eroded and consequently their  core sense of self is significantly diminished then chances are they’ll end up leading dysfunctional lives. I also feel that the emotional well-being of our young people isn’t given enough attention within our current educational system, so I thought it might be a positive contribution to our society to offer a service which might redress the balance a little.

A school Empathic Guidance session will offer support, insight and guidance to the pupils  and will hopefully be a safe place for them to share any issues which they feel they cannot discuss with parents, teachers or peers. Initially I’ll be working on a one-to-one basis but I hope to offer group workshops covering topics such as assertiveness and confidence-building alongside Panda, the school’s youth worker. Panda is a really lovely, warm and caring woman with some really innovative ideas who has clearly won (and deservedly so)the trust and respect of the young people in the school, so I’m really looking forward to working with her on this project.

My dream is that Empathic Guidance will prove popular enough for us to offer sessions and workshops to other schools and that eventually emotional well-being will be recognised as an important part of our children’s upbringing and education. A youth “Self-Worth” revolution – now that really would be something worth fighting for.

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