Living Into Joy: Aligning with Feeling Good


Bring yourself into vibrational alignment with your soul and the truth of who you are by living into joy and focusing on feeling good.
Image courtesy of sciencefreak, Pixabay.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be in “vibrational alignment.“

It’s often spoken about in terms of being an energetic match for your desires, but at it’s simplest I think it comes down to feeling good.

As Wayne Dyer said,

“The Law of Attraction is this:

You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.”

What we give out (vibrationally) is what comes back to us.

If we want to create a joyful and fulfilling life, rather than focusing on the details, we need to make sure that the vibration we are putting out into the Universe – simply expressed the emotions in our energetic field – is predominantly one of fulfilment and joy.

Well, at times, it’s easier said than done.

In any one day, in any one life, there’s a beautiful medley of things the mind labels “good” coexisting side-by-side with things the mind labels “bad.”

That’s true for everyone; no matter how enchanted and trouble-free their life may seem on the surface.

One of the only things that is guaranteed in life is that we’re all going to face challenges.

So with challenges the great equaliser of the human experience, it becomes a question of how we respond.

When we allow our circumstances to dictate our reactions we become an out of control yo-yo on an emotional roller coaster; subject to every which way the wind blows, governed by the whims of life.

We might feel joy and fulfilment one moment; be mired in despair and despondency the next.

This way of being doesn’t necessarily present a particular problem when the going is essentially good.

But it certainly doesn’t make the grade when we find ourselves face to face with real and deep-rooted challenges that don’t just “go away” however much we wish they would.

While it’s true that part of our purpose in incarnating here on Earth is to experience the full spectrum of human emotions, none of us likes feeling “bad.”

Over and above this, feeling bad takes us out of vibrational alignment with the truth of who we are and what we came here to discover and experience – the joy and peace that live at the centre of our being.

And – as like attracts like – the more we focus on the negative, the more of it we see in our lives.

So, how do we get ourselves out of this loop?

I first want to be very clear that I’m in no way talking about shunning or denying our negative thoughts, experiences and feelings.

Real healing and a sense of reconnection with our wholeness can only take place when we find the courage to explore all of ourself – the shadow as well as the light.

It is in the excavation of the darkest recesses of our being that we start to become more of ourself; to embody, authentically, all that we are.

But it’s not healthy for us to linger in the the shadows too long.

They key is to examine with fearless honesty our negative thoughts, experiences and feelings; to bring healing to them, and then let them go.

Fill the space that is left in their absence with love, light and joy; things that are in vibrational agreement with the truth of who we are; the joy and beauty that are our essence.

And it is only when we become the the conscious creator of our experience instead of letting our experiences control and have mastery over us, that we are able to lift our vibration into this kind of alignment.

So, how do we consciously create our experience?

It’ s a matter of mindfulness, and what we choose to put our focus on.

The more we focus on the good, the more of it we see in our lives.

As John Lubbock said,

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

Or, as many before me have said, what we focus on expands.

Diving into this a little deeper, the way I see it focus hinges on three things:

our thoughts,

our words,

our actions.

Being in vibrational alignment means that each of these must reflect the reality we want to see in our life:

we need to be thinking, saying and doing the things that make us feel good.

It’s as simple as that…

and as difficult.

It requires great mindfulness and commitment.

It requires knowing who we are, what our soul longs to experience, and honoring that.

Although there are some similarities in what we long to experience the specifics will be different for each one of us for we all have our own unique soul blueprint; a “joy code” written only for us.

Being in vibrational alignment means bringing awareness to the thoughts, words and actions we’re choosing to activate in our life – focusing on the positive and uplifting, the ways we’re abundantly blessed, the things we want to bring more of into our life; releasing and letting go over and over again on deeper and deeper levels anything else.


In the domain of thoughts,

it means giving up our victimhood. Ceasing to feel sorry for ourself; withholding our tendency to wallow in the past reliving regrets about things we did and didn’t do and holding onto resentments about misdeeds committed against us.

It means invoking the gift of forgiveness.

Forgiving both ourself and others – not to condone what they (or we) did or make it okay, but for our own peace of mind and growth.

It’s an active commitment to transcend our past, give ourself permission to move on.

It means giving up our addiction to anxiety, worry and fear for the future. Releasing the habit of tying ourself up in knots over things we have no control over.

Learning to trust in something greater than ourself; accepting that everything is working out for our greatest and highest good, knowing we are always supported.

Learning to trust ourself. We’ve navigated our way this far through life; we have every reason to believe we can make it through whatever comes our way.

It means that when difficult circumstances arise we lovingly support ourself through them, being patient with ourself and giving ourself the time we need.

When situations that trigger one of our patterns enter our life, we interact with them mindfully. We look for the gift of love, compassion or self-knowledge they hold. We ask what they are here to teach us, instead of looking for someone or something to blame.

It means giving up our negative self-talk – our habit of comparing ourselves to others or some unattainable standard of perfection and finding ourself lacking. Of putting ourself down and making ourself wrong.

Relinquishing the inner bully and choosing instead to speak to ourself with words of love, understanding, acceptance and compassion.

It means learning to embrace our mistakes and celebrate the courageous self who makes them.

Realizing our mistakes are testimony to the fact that we’re putting ourselves out there, trying new things, expanding and growing, exploring the potential we’ve been given.

It means learning to live with our fear without letting it control us or hold us back from reaching out for connection or doing what we love.

It means that every time we notice a self-defeating thought coming up in our heads we refuse to believe it. We turn it around and tell ourself the reverse; replace it with something that nourishes us and enriches our experience instead.

It means that in any and all situations we focus on what we are (I am a uniquely beautiful being), what we have (I have a heart that sees beauty all around), what we can do (I can connect with others with ease and grace), what we can give (I uplift others with words of support and encouragement); instead of all the places in which we are in lack.

It means training our minds to look for the positive and joyful, the ways we’re being constantly blessed and supported. Training our attention to linger on the good, not the bad:

The things we’re grateful for.

The beauty in our lives and all around us.

The things we enjoy.

The things we succeed at – in the sense of improving on our one-time self.

The loving things others do for us.

The loving things we do for others.

We can actively train our mind to notice and appreciate these things if we get into the habit of listing them up at the end of the day – 5 things we’re grateful for; 5 moments of beauty; 5 things we enjoyed; 5 things we did well; 5 loving things others did for us; 5 loving things we did for others.

It means learning to reside in the Now.

Being able to pull your mind up short when it starts to spiral into the unresolved past or its fear of the unknown future. Noticing the serenity and peace of being fully present in the Now moment, breathing in that.

It means reclaiming your right to marvel; to delight and thrill in the world we live in with a child’s sense of joy and wonder.

Looking at the world with fresh eyes and a heart that is open to see the everyday miracles; the abundance that is all around.


In the domain of words,

it means actively refraining from using our words in ways that detract from ourself and others -gossip, complaining, criticism, judgements; anything that tears down, instead of building up.

It means having the intention of upholding and serving the greatest and highest good of both ourself and the other person/people present when we speak.

It means infusing our words with love and compassion; giving voice to that which uplifts and empowers; being gracious in our gift of words to others.

Not forgetting that sometimes fierce honesty with ourself and/or others is the most compassionate and empowering gift we can give, whether it’s seen that way or not.

It means not just going along with what’s being said when it’s negatively charged or brings your energy down.

When it’s not appropriate to voice disagreement out loud, simply say to yourself: “Cancel. That’s not for me. That’s not the reality I’m choosing to have in my life.”

It means learning the art of respectfully changing the subject; politely excusing yourself when conversations are stuck in a low vibrational frequency and don’t serve the highest good of anyone involved.

It means noticing the people with who this seems to happen with time and time again, and paring down the time you spend with them.

It means doing away with the need to talk just to fill the silence, consciously choosing our words instead.

Engaging in authentic conversations which feel good because they honor the truth of who we are, opening us up to real connection with others.

It means undertaking not to speak falsehoods, for how can we feel good when we compromise our integrity?

It means becoming aware of the kind of things we talk about that bring our vibration down – our problems, heartaches, illnesses, worries, lack and fears.

Learning to sidestep the need to explain these things to others, for the more energy we give what is “wrong” in our lives, the more it persists; the less energy we have to focus on what is “right” in our lives and makes us feel good.

When we cannot resist the urge to talk about our problems, it serves us best to stay conscious and do it in an empowering way.

Not “my problem” – for that leads us to take ownership; instead, “the (life) lesson that’s playing out in my life now.”

Not, “I hate my boss and my job sucks.” But something more along the lines of, “I’m learning a lot about what I don’t want in a job, which can only help me to make better choices in the future.”

When the people we’re with talk about their problems a lot we can help to empower them by refusing to be consumed by the story and the drama.

Instead, speak to their Higher Self, encouraging them to take responsibility for their experience.

Shift the focus from the appropriation of blame to how the experience makes them feel, what is it that they’re doing that allows or perpetuates that, how they could do something differently in the future to create a different and better quality of experience. All the time holding a space of love and acceptance so they can express themself and their feelings authentically without feeling judged.

It means asking them (in advance) to do the same for us when we get bogged down in “our” problems. And when they comply with our request, having the courage and integrity to open our hearts and engage with the experience from a genuine desire to know what it’s there to teach us.

It means not reliving things from the past that caused us stress or unhappiness in the stories we tell unless it serves the greatest and highest good of us or someone else in the Now moment which we share.

Prying ourselves away from the love of drama, sympathy and our need to justify ourself that are so often inherent in this; choosing instead to recollect things that make us feel loved; worthy; happy; joyful; filled with love and enthusiasm for who we are and our journey.

It means being conscious enough not to create connection with others on the basis of shared victimhood and negativity; building connections instead that celebrate mutual growth, the journey into ever greater self-empowerment, the expansion into more and more of our innate potential, the joy and wonder of being alive.

It means not being afraid to own our talents or the vision of greatness that we’d like to grow into.

Not falling victim to self-doubt or false humility, saying things that undervalue ourselves; taking us out of alignment with our vision.

Instead, speaking the language of conviction and unwavering belief in ourself and others that supports us in fulfilling our dreams and embodying our vision of our highest self.

It means refraining from our need to prove ourself right. Eschewing our efforts to convince others of our point of view – with all the ensuing arguments and conflict that arise when we try to force someone to conform to and live our version of the truth instead of accepting theirs.

Instead, interacting in ways which show we honor the other for who they are, the light at the center of their being, whether we’re in accord with them on everything or not.

Exhibiting our respect for them as a sovereign being endowed with the right to make their own choices, plot the course of their life.

Coming from a space of sharing, not one of conversational warfare.

A space in which the focus is on having hearts and minds that are wide open. Willing to accept   each other in all our glorious diversity; to be open to what we can learn from the experience instead of trying to bring the other round to our point of view.

It means making a conscious decision to be aware of what we choose to talk about and the way we choose to talk about it.

Expressing ourselves and building communicative acts with others in ways that make us feel good.

Ways that foster authenticity, genuine connection; forge mutual trust and appreciation.

Ways of interacting that permit us to drop all our masks and be vulnerable and real.

Ways of interacting that celebrate us (and the other) for who we are; granting us the freedom to be ourself.

Consciously choosing speech acts that empower us. Affirming our inner strength and capability; the power of choice that is ours.

Speech acts that affirm our sovereignty; the freedom this gives us to live our life in whatever way we choose without having to answer to or justify our choices to anyone else.

Speech acts that augment our confidence; expressing belief and trust in ourself and our abilities, highlight our unlimited capacity to learn and grow.

Choosing our words carefully to make sure they’re in vibrational alignment. Not, “I can’t” or “I don’t know how;” but “I know I can and I will learn how.”

Speech acts that make us “right” not “wrong.” Using words that acknowledge how far we have come; speak the language of self-love and self-acceptance. Words that affirm the magnificent wonder of who we are; attest to our strength and capacity to expand into the full expression of our potential.

Speech acts that joyfully celebrate the Life that we are and the life that we are choosing to create for ourself. Rejoicing in the things that are beautiful and aligned and going well in our lives; the ones that bring us fulfilment and happiness.

Talking about our joys; our inspirations; our passions; the people we love and admire; our creative ideas and projects; fun/uplifting/transformative experiences we’ve had; areas of growth and expansion we’re experiencing and the insights and wisdom they’ve revealed.

Speech acts through which the love that is our essence flows into the world around us, touching the lives of everyone we meet: expressing our appreciation for others; honoring their truth with words of love and kindness; uplifting, inspiring and empowering them with speech acts which celebrate who they are and affirm the invaluable contribution they’re making in the world.

Speech acts which remind them of the truth of who they are; (re)connect them with their power; (re)align them with the centered self that lies within; (re)unite them with the expansiveness of their being.

When we consciously give our words as gifts to others, we elevate not only their vibration but also our own. Love and light pour into both our lives, and the high vibrational energy is magnified.

It also serves us well to remember that each word has a particular vibrational value, in much the same way as different musical notes belong to different octaves.

Some of the highest vibrational things we can say are, “Thank you” and “I love you.”

We can also consciously incorporate high vibrational words like “gratitude;” “beauty;” “abundance;” “pleasure;” “joy;” “delight;” “freedom;” “choice;” “peace;” “serenity;” “generosity;” “creativity;” “kindness;” “compassion;” “wisdom;” “strength;” “integrity;” “value;” “aligned;” “whole;” “complete;” “one with all that is…” and so on – any word that evokes a response of joy and lightness within.

Commit to making high vibrational words your signature in your speech acts to both yourself and others, and watch your joy expand.


In the domain of action,

it means saying “No” to living for others, and “Yes” to living for yourself.

Getting honest with yourself and others about what you like to do and what you don’t.

Doing less of the things you don’t like, and more of the things you love.

If necessary, taking the time out to rediscover what that is for you.

It means bringing to light all the things you do out of a sense of obligation or a desire to “people please,” putting other people’s happiness before your own. Choosing instead to make your own joy and well-being your highest priority.

Toning down the “shoulds” and “have tos;” asking yourself instead: “What is that I want to do right now?” “What would make me feel good?”

It means training yourself to listen to the whisperings of your soul, and having the commitment-to-self and courage to follow through no matter what.

Having the integrity to be true to yourself. Not getting caught up in what everybody else wants you to be or do.

Understanding that being true to yourself is the best way you can add value and make a contribution in the world.

Understanding that some people will like it and some people won’t. Understanding that that’s okay.

It means bowing out of society’s illusion that in order to feel good you need to be and have more.

Locating your worth in your sense of your innate self; instead of in your titles, achievements or possessions.

Enriching your life with people and experiences; rather than getting caught up in the accumulation of more and more things.

It means practicing self-love and self-acceptance so thoroughly that you know – absolutely – that you are already and always enough, with or without a list of achievements.

It means immersing yourself in the spiritual practices that remind you of this time and time again; for this is a lifetime journey and there are no quick fixes or easy shortcuts.

It means giving up our obsession with perpetual busyness; whether that be at work, at home, or our personal life.

We have to be fully present with our experiences to enjoy them on their deepest level and excavate the riches they hold. That is so much more difficult to do when our life is always moving ahead at lightning speed, and we’re constantly sprinting from one deadline/task/engagement to the next.

It means consciously integrating pauses into our life.


Pockets of time-space in which our only goal is to take the all-important time we need for ourself.

Pockets of time-space in which we can unwind and relax; give ourselves over to rest, pleasure and fun, sustenance for the soul, with wild abandon.

Dangling our bare feet over the edge of life, as we breathe in the sweet fragrance and feel the caress of the gentle breeze…

It means accepting our own dispensability.

So often the reason we’re afraid to slow down or to incorporate the changes that living true to ourself would necessitate is a false assumption that the world – or our little piece of it – will stop turning if we’re not there to balance it like a spinning disc on our finger, ensuring everything is in its “proper” place and functioning smoothly.

Do you really have so little trust in the people around you that you think everything will collapse into chaos if you step away for a while, take some time for yourself?

It means refusing to be a slave to perfectionism, and letting go of our fixation with “destination” which turns all our endeavours into a race towards end product and results. Allowing ourself to put our focus on creative exploration, expansion, self-expression and enjoyment of the process instead.

it means dispensing with our habit of delaying our happiness until some elusive condition is filled. Waiting for such and such to happen before we allow ourself to begin living the way we want to or permit ourself to feel happy and fulfilled.

Life is lived Now.

If you want to experience more joy and happiness, start now.

Now is the only moment that is ever available to us.

And now is the pocket of space-time in which we choose the thought or word or action which leads us to experience a greater lightness of being, a deeper peace in our heart, an increased sense of joy and fulfilment.

One choice at a time. One day at a time.

Step by step by step.

It means taking the responsibility for our happiness off other people’s shoulders; putting it firmly on our own.

Seeing our happiness (or lack of it) as a sum of our own choices; not defined by someone or something else.

It means accepting our responsibility for the way we live our life and the experiences we create within that.

It means looking at the things you habitually do that make you feel bad – take my chronic lateness for a start. Proactively deciding to find a way to change it, or deciding, for now, to let your attachment to it go.

It means upholding our commitments; doing the things we say we will –  including our commitments and promises to ourself.

How much easier is it to feel good about ourselves when we’re living in integrity, embodying our Higher Self?

All of the high vibrational words listed above are qualities of the Higher Self. Why not explore how you can activate them in your life, asking:

“What would it look like to be “compassion” now?”

“How can I embody “generosity?””

It means giving of yourself generously and doing things that add value to the lives of others.

At our core we are a deep wellspring of love. When we pour this love in to the world through acts of service that are aligned with our soul, we are filled with a sense of well-being – the joy that comes upon knowing we’re making a valuable contribution in the world.

It means using your emotions as a lodestar to guide you.

Does it evoke peace, serenity, joy, lightness of being, excitement, passion? Does it inspire, uphold, nourish, sustain, support, uplift?

If your answer is “Yes” to any of the above, find a way to do it more often.

Let the rest go, as far as you can.

Uncover your unique joy signature and pen your life with that.

Saying no to conformity, and yes to being yourself.

Give up trying to please everybody else.

See what happens when you turn your focus around and put it on doing things that nourish your soul, and make you feel good.

See how much more love and light you can bring into the world from this space of joy and personal power.


Some final thoughts on alignment: thoughts, words or actions it’s all about choosing the ones that make you feel good.

When we feel good, it’s a sign that we’re living in harmony with our soul.


Feeling good = alignment with the highest part of ourself.

Alignment with our truth.

Alignment with Source.

Alignment with our soul blueprint and all that we came here for.


Honor your feelings; let them be your guide.

“Do I feel good?”

“Yes” – Great, I’m in alignment.

“No” – Okay, how can I change my thoughts/words/actions? What would make me feel more joy and/or peace in this moment, bringing me back into harmony with my soul?


Can it really be that simple? you may ask.

Well, yes, it can.

Simple, but by no means always easy.

Which is why I’m halfway up the mountain, albeit with my gaze on the rarefied air at the top.

Standing In My Power; Knowing I Am Safe


Our relationships show us our unresolved patterns and where we still need to heal. This is one woman's story of her endeavours to communicate from a place of Spirit not Ego, and learn to love and trust in herself.
Image courtesy of cocoparisienne on Pixabay.

The first of January this year saw me having lunch with my two pottery teachers and a friend of theirs after a call the night before asking me if I had any plans for New Year’s Day.

After lunch one of them produced a set of Angel Cards – in English no less – that they’d been given years ago. “I’ve never used them. You have them,” he said, offering them to the friend. It turned out that she already had a set of her own that were exactly the same, so by default they were now mine.

I have to be honest, I didn’t think I’d have much use for them either. Pulling cards isn’t something that I’ve done before or something that I feel drawn towards. But it was the first day of a new year after all. “Let’s pull a card each for 2016,” said the friend. And so we did.

Mine felt like a bit of a let down. While one of my teachers got “play;” his brother “creativity” and the friend “inspiration,” the card I drew was “communication.” It felt boring and mundane compared to the others’, and on arriving home I put the cards on my chest of drawers where they’ve been sitting ever since.

It’s only recently that I’ve begun to see how apt the card I pulled was; what a big part of the picture communication (and miscommunications) are turning out to be for me this year.

2013 and 2014 were, for me, years dedicated to intense inner work. I traveled through the pain of solitude to discover on the other side the beautiful gift of that same solitude: the chance to reconnect with myself.

One of my friends on visiting me described my existence as “hermit-like,” and in a way she was right. I continued teaching so it’s not as if I was a total recluse or completely isolated. But it is true that I didn’t invite many people into my world, and the ones I did were all “safe choices” – people who saw me and accepted me exactly as I was, burden of pain and all.

That was exactly what I needed at that time, but they do say our greatest gifts of growth and self-knowing come from our interactions with others – difficult to experience when your lifestyle tends towards the reclusive.

Since early 2015 I’ve been opening up to more encounters with the world again; making new connections; expanding my circles of acquaintances and friends. Although the majority of these have been good encounters, since reentering the world communication has moved to centre stage.

During those years of self-examination, healing and soul-searching I gradually opened up to a greater acceptance of life as it is – including the impermanence and uncertainties that it can be all too easy to forget are written into the small print.

It’s when we fight against life by refusing to accept it as it is, demanding that it should be different somehow, that we find ourself entrapped in suffering.

This is the place I found myself in in 2013. Little by little, as I released my attachment to the idea that things needed to work out in the way I thought they should in order for me to be safe, my suffering diminished. In its wake came peace. The peace of acceptance.

Relinquishing, bit by bit, my desire to control outcomes, I learned instead to trust that the experiences life presents me with are always in my greatest and highest good – exactly what I need to open up my potential for growth and allow me to expand into more of my truth and innate potential.

Slowly, slowly I leaned to trust that we live in a benevolent Universe; to see how much I am always supported. Learning to see with the eyes of Spirit instead of the eyes of my Ego in this way did wonders for my fear of the unknown and my unease and anxiety when brought face to face with the fickle and uncertain, unpredictable nature of life.

It’s not that my fear of the unknown or unease in the face of uncertainties disappeared; but each time I felt myself falling off the cliff face of fear I would bring myself back to the perspective of Spirit, remind myself that events in my life were unfolding in the direction of my greatest and highest good and that the Universe had my back.

I was managing this pretty well while I was living my semi-reclusive existence. Of course I still sometimes dropped into fear and the illusion of separation, but the insulating cocoon I had created around myself meant that most of the time the only major player in the picture was me. Of all the things in this world I am the one I have the greatest degree of control over, so (with the support of the various people and processes that have been and continue to be gifts of grace in my life) I could usually manage to bring myself back from the brink of fear and centre myself in the perspective of Spirit again.

Now that I’m inviting other people into the picture, however, I’m reminded that in our communicative act with others there is always a degree of uncertainty, an element of the unknown.

Our degree of control over ourselves may be tenuous at times; but it is ever-present if we choose to embrace and engage it.

Not so with the other people in our life.

Leaving behind the safety of my cocoon where, for the most part, I only had to deal with myself; the backdrop on which my patterns are choosing to play out has extended its parameters as relationships have moved to centre stage in my life.

The stage is the same – my feelings of fear and unworthiness and being unsafe exist only in my mind and have nothing to do with anyone else; but it’s as if the Universe is using the relationships in my life to reflect these patterns back at me 100X magnified. As a result, I’m finding my Ego mind is back in control more often – playing on my insecurities, telling me I’m not safe.

In the space between two people and the act of communication that takes place between them there is an inevitable haziness – a lack of clarity wherein lies the potential for misunderstandings- because the other is not a known entity to us as we are unto ourself.

It is this that my Ego is using to such advantage.

In one particular relationship my Ego has been having a heyday – aided and abetted by the fact that the other person and I are still relatively new acquaintances in a formal setting with pressure to perform well on both sides, the parameters of the relationship not yet clearly defined.

Things that could be talked through, laughed off or put down to a quirk of the personality if the relationship had had longer to develop have been blowing themselves up from molehills into mountains; the ground-shaking reverberations that result causing me to lose my footing on more than one occasion.

For someone who is usually pretty well-balanced, generally speaking well-liked and trusted by the people I know, I’ve been doing a spectacular job of off-kilter clumsy communications; flailing around like the proverbial elephant in a china shop: worse, a bull elephant teetering on one leg in a circus tutu in a china shop, wielding a baton in its hands.

It’s like all my relationship patterns have come to the forefront in a head-on collision with the other person involved. I have to keep reminding myself that by the universal laws of interaction we’re acting as mirrors for each other, and it’s not just me smashing into him in such a brutal way.

Thank goodness that through it all, at some point I become present enough with myself to realise that the whole reason these deep-rooted patterns are coming up is to be given a chance to heal.

It’s then that I manage to embody my higher self; to look at what is coming up for me and trace it back to its root; unleashing the power of healing in full force in my life.

Tracing it back I see that, for my part at least, each and every time communication and/or interaction problems have arisen two particular circumstances have been in place. First, the communication has been taking place via e-mail so there’s the additional pressure of the fear of the unknown that comes with not being able to read the other person’s reactions face to face or get an immediate response from them. Second, I’ve given my Ego the reins: forsaken the relaxed, open, expansive, all-embracing energy of my heart space that trusts that as my intention is to be aligned with source consciousness then everything that unfolds in my life is in divine flow, for the masculine energy of striving and wanting to control situations and outcomes that my Ego so thrives on.

When I move into Ego in this way it throws up a veil between me and the perspective of Spirit so that I can no longer see things clearly. I lose my connection with the energy of trust and start to overthink things and worry, plunging into the energy of anxiety, creating problems where none existed, perceiving only lack. I start to grasp and grab to get what it is I think I need to make me safe and, from this blinkered perspective, I start to panic as if – going back to that bull elephant in the china shop – it knocked off a shelf-full of plates with its baton and accidentally startled itself.

Before I know it I’ve gone into full fight or flight mode and my adrenaline and cortisol are running high. It’s from this space of ungroundedness that I make arbitrary and unbalanced decisions, engaging in acts of communication that are fuelled by the energy of my Ego’s perception of lack and fear – no longer present enough to think and act from my calm and creative space.

Communicative acts taken from this space inevitably alienate the other person and dial up the stress in the relationship. It has to be said, though, that the stress created in the relationship is nowhere near as high or as intense as the stress I manage to inflict on myself during the whole process… Each time it feels like I’ve been run over by a steamroller and then some, taking me several days to recover.

The drama continues as my Ego refuses to let me forgive myself for ruffling things up and tries to overcompensate with a kind of masochistic impulse to apologise profusely. Too profusely. Unless I’m incredibly mindful, I end up taking all the blame for the situation on myself and, more often than not, apologising for being who I am as well as for the disruptive communicative act.

Tracing it back I see that this, too, arises from an Ego impulse to control outcomes. It’s a pattern of interaction leftover from imbalanced power relationships in which my Ego (mistakenly) took on the notion that if I apologise and debase myself enough I’ll somehow be able to appease the other person and prevent them from rejecting me entirely, thus abandoning the relationship.

Once again it all comes back to my Ego’s desire to keep me “safe.”

Making myself a scapegoat doesn’t actually serve myself or the other person though, and it certainly doesn’t keep me safe.

If anything it’s an act of self-harm, elevating the other person at the expense of myself. When this particular pattern is playing out I subjugate myself and my standing within the relationship so much that I devalue myself. Ultimately I erase myself and my right to equality within the relationship out of the picture.

A classic case of low self-worth if ever there was one.

What’s more, if every relationship is a chance for us to act as mirrors for one another, allowing us to gain more consciousness around the roles we play and the subconscious patterns of behaviour they are rooted in so that these things can come up to the surface for healing; then when I make myself the scapegoat and take all the blame on myself I seriously diminish the likelihood of the other person interacting with the experience in a way that allows them the opportunity to integrate the soul lessons it holds for them. This dishonours the other person as much as myself, and from a universal perspective could even be interpreted as impeding their growth.

No winners there then.

I know I’m emerging victorious from this encounter – and I don’t mean in relation to the other person involved. The whole experience has led me to look deeply into my Ego’s patterns of reactive interaction and gain more consciousness and clarity around them; opening myself up to the possibility of more mindful interactions in the future. In my willingness to face the encounters, the uncomfortable feelings provoked, to integrate the soul lessons as best as I can I am already victorious.

It’s only fair to accord the other person the opportunity to interact with the experience in a similarly empowering way, to garner the soul lessons it has for them.

So the question I’ve been asking is, “How can I engage in communicative acts in ways that ensure that everyone is a winner; communicative acts that honour both me and the other person and bring about the outcome that is in the greatest and highest good of all?”

I know it has to do with being in my heart. Interacting mindfully from this space of peace, openness  and acceptance.

Trusting both myself and the other person.

Trusting in Divine flow.

Belatedly realising the significance of the angel card I pulled, after these encounters I made a list of ways to interact with others more mindfully: not being caught up in my own agenda; expressing my appreciation of others; finding ways to make the person I’m interacting with feel seen, heard and valued; seeing them with fresh eyes instead of through my judgements; taking care to ensure that what I want to say is clear and my language is uplifting and supportive…

I propped my list up on my kitchen table where – in theory – I would see it every day, and set my intention to be more mindful in my interactions.

The problem is that the times when I most need to be mindful in interactions with others are also the times when I’m least able to be present with myself in this way, or highly conscious about the way I’m communicating.

My interaction and communication problems tend to arise when a flicker of fear catches on then escalates like wildfire, plummeting me into my reactive Ego. The best that this reactive Ego self can do is to get its head above water and tread water furiously – gasping for air and latching onto whatever it thinks will make it safe.

Acting consciously is not high on its list of priorities.

I’ve found it more helpful to go directly to the root of the problem: the imbalance of energy in my root chakara that this pattern – thinking that I need something from the other in order to be okay instead of standing in my own power – indicates.

Spending time focusing on my root chakara and giving myself the gift of the three words  “I am safe” has made all the difference.

Of course I’d still like to move into more mindful ways of interacting with others, but rather than getting caught up in efforts to self-improve – which inherently imply that I’m in some way lacking and incomplete, thereby reinforcing the grip of my Ego – I’ve been taking the short cut of simply loving and accepting myself where I am. Accepting my scared and fearful Ego-self that doesn’t feel safe and giving it what it needs: the reassurance that I’m here for it; the affirmation that it is, in fact, entirely safe.

Giving myself, at last, what my Ego has been trying to cling to, to grasp and get from others has gone a long way towards turning my communications around.

When I feel safe – when I give myself this gift; instead of trying to attain that feeling of safety through my interactions with another – I can literally breathe easier. A wave of relief washes over my body and through all my cells and I’m no longer in the energy of striving or grasping.

I spontaneously drop back into my heart space, recenter there.

Floating on the back of the wave of relief and following suit is the gift of presence.

I’m more present with myself. More present with the other person involved.

More present with the ways we engage and the space between us where our interaction takes place.

From this relaxed and open space my communication naturally flows in a way that is in greater alignment with Spirit and the greatest and highest good of all.

This is the gift of communication I want to give to myself and the people around me.

This is the gift of communication I want to give to the world.

Harbingers of Change

Image credit: etceterawork canvas prints available at

After weeks of my kerosene stove registering ‘Lo’ first thing, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that there wasn’t the same need to turn it on the moment my feet hit the floor this morning.

The chill from beneath the thin wooden floorboards wasn’t quite as pervasive as usual, but it still came as a surprise to see that the thermometer in the living room was registering a full 8 degrees!

Remember, this was before I’d even turned on a stove.

To set the scene a little better, I live in an old farmhouse in the depths of the Japanese countryside where, despite the relative harshness of the winters, the older houses were built solely to help their inhabitants survive the intensity of the hot and humid summers and are ill-equipped for the cold winter months. To be able to reach a hand out of bed and leave it there, walk the floors in my bed sock clad feet without immediately reaching for the stove in February is nothing short of a small miracle – one I intended to enjoy to the full.

Once breakfast had been eaten I donned my sunhat and sunglasses and ventured outside with my beloved four-legged friend.There was a smell of freshness in the air and I realised I really didn’t need my jacket.

Pimo, my dog, has aged a lot in the last year and we no longer go very far on our walks, which often end in me carrying her back to the house. Imagine my delight when having only gone a couple of hundred metres, I was greeted with the sight of three or four small bees drifting around by the germander speedwell that was slightly straggly after several weeks of being submerged under snow, but was now opening its delicate blue flowers to receive the warmth of the sun.

Snow was still lying in all the places the sun doesn’t normally reach but the river was glittering merrily, bathed in light; the breeze was gentle and warm; even the blueness of the sky had a softness about it and, to my astonishment, I had the good fortune to come across a ladybird no doubt tricked into venturing out of hibernation by the unseasonable warmth of the day.

Beautiful harbingers of spring which occasioned a quickening of my heart and a lightness in my step.

The rush of hope and gratitude I felt was made all the more intense by their contrast to the dazzling snowscapes, the ice-choked stream that leads down to the river, the monochrome mountains made of bare branches peeking through snow, and the chill in the air that penetrates my fleece-lined gloves that are all symbolic of the winter months here.

As anyone who has ever lived in a place with distinctive seasons knows, the beauty of each is enhanced by the one before.

And winter to spring, with its hint of new beginnings in the air and the outburst of nature in an explosion of life and colour, is my own personal favourite here in Nagano and breathes a special kind of delight into my heart.

I got home and opened my Facebook page to find a quote about life being a circle of happiness and sadness, hard times and good times and it seemed to fit so perfectly with the rhythm of the seasons that had just moments before been flooding my senses.

After the cold winter there comes the spring.

And, in the cyclic nature of the Universe, day is followed by night and then by day again; and, difficult as it can be to believe at the time, our sadness and hard times are not permanent fixtures but gradually make way for happiness and good times again.

I have seen the indisputability of this in my own life. From the depths of grief so great I feared I might never surface, I rode the wave of change and renewal and now know happiness again.

And just as some of winter is carried over into spring in torrenting rivers full of snowmelt, our sadness and hard times leave their lasting impression.

But the cycle of life is always seeking balance, and gradually restores happiness where once it could not be found.

I know it is not only myself who has rode the troughs the last few years. Our planet and many of us on it are going through giant upheavals in our lives, most preceded by a period of deep grief and pain.

My own experience of riding the troughs taught me that the only thing I could do was trust in this cyclic nature of life. Trust that better things are on their way and that I was being led to a better place.

To any of you who may currently be riding the troughs not the peaks, I implore you to trust in this same cyclic nature of life and your ability to heal, and keep an eye out for the signs that better things are on their way.

Like the improbable bees and the ladybird the harbingers of spring, what harbingers of possibility can you find showing up in your life today?

Brilliantly, Beautifully Me.

Photo courtesy of Butterflies and Pebbles, permission granted.

Earlier this month I had the chance to meet for a short two hours a colleague of mine from the days when I first came to Japan on the JET program. It was the first time for us to have any personal contact in the thirteen and a half years since our term of contract ended. Though we had remained friends on Facebook we each had only a superficial idea of the trajectory the other’s life had taken, bits and pieces we’d cobbled together from each others’ infrequent status updates.

As we sat in a lovely traditional Japanese style restaurant and enjoyed the feel of the place with its tatami mats and low tables and the noren at the door we had just enough time to exchange brief updates on our lives and catch up on the news we had of some of our mutual friends and acquaintances.

Many of the people who take part in the JET program are go-getters. With their adventurous spirit, their boldness and daring and their natural curiosity and ability to relate well to others it’s as if they were born for success. A good deal of them also have a highly evolved social conscience and a strong desire to do their part to help make the world a better place. This is no less true of our group of JET alumni than any other. As we talked it came out that one former colleague is currently playing a central role in welcoming Syrian refugees into Canada; another went on to work on the Peace Boats and then with international aid organisations. On a bit of a tangent yet another, and for some reason this delights me, is apparently married to a Hong Kong pop star.

And then there is my friend herself. She was always special. Even while we were on JET she single-handedly set up a a web-based international volunteer organisation that helps to match volunteers to projects working at the grassroots level and which, as far as I know, continues to this day. She then worked as the International Relations Officer for the U.S. Department of labor for many years before quitting and going back to school to get an MBA. With her MBA still in process she’s already been accepted by a world class company to work for them after she’s done.

Talk about an exciting and inspiring life, not to mention the exceptional CV.

Despite the astonishing amount of success she has enjoyed and the impact she’s been able to have at the grassroots level in various countries around the world she is delightfully down to earth; humble; fun; caring; intelligent; passionate – an altogether lovely person to spend an afternoon with.

And then there is me, with my altogether more normal life.

Even as we exchanged stories about some of the amazing work our former colleagues are doing and I relished the paths their lives have taken, I felt myself automatically comparing the trajectory of my own path to theirs as my old nemesis my Ego popped up (just for fun) to pummel me around a bit and try to knock me down.

“Strike while she’s weak,” it seemed to say; instantly sensing the hairline fissures that were appearing in the somewhat fragile shell of my self-confidence. They might not have been deep enough to puncture it, but they did create a slight chink which my Ego was quick to spot and use to its advantage.

“Look at all the wonderful things your former colleagues have been doing,” it gibed – the unsubtle subtext being “all the things that they’ve been doing that You Are Not.”

I couldn’t help but feel as if the comparative smallness of scale of my current life made it – made me – inferior, lacking.

I must hasten to add that this is not a reflection in any way on my friend, who said and did nothing to make me feel this way.

It was all in my mind.

A story perfectly crafted by my Ego – which has lived with me all my life and thus knows exactly where the chinks in my armour are – designed to hit me where I’m most vulnerable.

Having shown its face, my Ego was determined to have some fun. Fun for my Ego does not, as a general rule, mean fun for me. I felt my energy field shrink as my ego continued to knock the bottom out of my self-esteem by regaling me with the glory of my former colleagues’ lives whilst reminding me that here I am still living in the same village doing the same thing as I was sixteen and a half years when I first came to Japan.

To be fair to myself I’m not actually doing the same things as I was sixteen and a half years ago.

I’m not even doing the same things as I was two and a half years ago.

But my ego doesn’t really care about that.

My ego is a master at finding ammunition where there’s none to be found; leveraging facts to suit its current line of attack. “Here you are living in the same village still teaching English,” it held forth. The sentiment behind the words was, “It’s as if you can’t be bothered to get out from under your kotatsu (heated table) and do something else with your life.”

Whittling away at my self-assurance with its words, it expertly declared me inadequate; tried to make me feel that the way I’ve been living my life isn’t good enough / big enough / brave enough / exciting enough / contributing enough / significant enough.

And for a while there it had me; the old familiar pattern that “I’m not enough” crept back, inserting itself insidiously into the cells of my body. As it did so it sapped my self-respect and was on its way to sundering me from myself.

But then I got what was going on. And it really didn’t take that long. The repetition of the old pattern itself, the tired familiarity of it, jolted me back into mindfulness and I realised it was just my Ego playing with me again, trying to sully me with this its latest onslaught.

While it was managing to do it covertly, infiltrating my mind with stealth like a ninja in the night, it had the upper hand.

But now I’d shone the light of my awareness on it, I was a match for it, ready to take it on.

Reminding myself that I was the only authority in my life, and that my Ego had no means of challenging my rule if I stood strong in my power and refused to be deceived by its wily machinations, I commanded (in true Shakespearian style):

“Ego, begone, and be all ways away.”

(If I’m honest what I actually said was far more contemporary, far less civilised and would probably necessitate a foul language alert, but I don’t want to offend anybody).

The point is that by calling out my Ego like this I was able to stop its games and take back my power. A single moment of awareness allowed me to restore the authority in my life and in my head to where it has always belonged: with me. By a simple act of noticing I could incapacitate my Ego in its attempts to usurp my mind, prevent it from infiltrating my consciousness with its treacherous – they were, after all, about getting me to disrespect and dishonour me – falsehoods; at the same time destroying its separation tactics as I reconnected with the truth of who I am.

In an abrupt about-face we went from Ego – 8: Julia – 2, to Julia – 8: Ego – 2.

Oh, the power in a single moment of self-awareness.

I’ve got into the habit of literally talking to myself like this when I notice my Ego is back to its old tricks: comparing and contrasting, finding me lacking, making me feel unworthy or insignificant, miring me in self-doubt or self-condemnation.

Telling your Ego to shut up and stop filling your head with such a load of old baloney (or words to a similar effect) puts a stop to your identification with your Ego and its elaborate stories, enabling you to release the hold the Ego has over the way you think and feel and so confound its attempts to work against your highest vision of who you want to be. It’s a really useful tool for claiming back your authority and putting yourself (the self that you are beyond the Ego) back in the driving seat in your head.

But in reality our Ego, far from being our enemy, is one of our greatest friends. In bringing up my old familiar stories and patterns my Ego was doing me a huge service. Every twinge of inferiority it made me feel, every dose of insignificance with which it inundated me, was like a huge wake up call showing me with pinpointed precision exactly where I haven’t got it yet, where I still don’t love myself enough, where there’s a need to heal in order to restore myself to wholeness.

You see, there’s no doubt that my friend is brilliant. She’s a stellar woman and human being who has passion and commitment, kindness and compassion, a great sense of loyalty, a wonderful sense of fun, outstanding ethics and a genuine desire to get out there in the world and make a difference by helping others.

I’m sure that many of our former colleagues are equally amazing.

But the point is, so am I.

Most of those things that I just said about her… If I started to ask myself what I am instead of focusing on what I’m not, they’re things that I could also say about me.

And although it might be hard for me to see it sometimes, and although I might be doing them on a much smaller scale, I’m doing equally amazing things in my life.

Different things, sure. But that doesn’t make them any less great.

We are all designed for greatness; but what we (read “I”) need to remember is that there are endless variations on the theme.

Some of us are here to work on an international scale and some of us are not, and both of these are fine. Whether we work on a local scale, a national scale or an international scale or zig-zag back and forward between them what matters is that we embody our highest vision of ourself; treating ourself and those around us with love, compassion and kindness; doing our bit to enhance the world; lighting it up with our love, our joy, our laughter; sharing our wisdom and skills; bringing more understanding, more beauty, more simple acts of human kindness into the world; expanding ourselves into an ever higher level of consciousness.

Things that we can do wherever we find ourself, whatever we find ourself doing because they’re about our way of being in the world, not related to or constrained by the specifics of what we’re doing in the world.

And what matters more than anything is that we love and accept ourself for who we are.

Accept what we are and what we aren’t. Spend time getting to know ourselves well enough to know the difference; fine-tune our understanding of our personal traits, our strengths and weaknesses, our dreams and desires, the path our journey has taken…

And then make peace with that.

Not expend our precious time and energy on trying to be somebody else or measuring ourselves against something – a job, a person, a standard, a vocation, a scale – that was never meant for us.

We are all unique individuals and within each of us is the seed of what we came to this Earth to do, who we came here to be. It’s inherent in our gifts, our abilities, our passions, our personal qualities and our natural inclination towards one thing over another. It’s heard in the whispers of our soul calling us towards that which makes our heart rejoice, showing us the path back to our truest and most authentic expression of ourself.

When it comes down to it all that really matters, the only way we’re ever going to be able to know personal fulfilment and joy, is by aligning with this essence of who we are – recognising our own particular brand of brilliance; spending our time and energy on exploring, expanding, honouring that.

And how can we honour our own brand of brilliance if we’re running around trying to be somebody else?

If we’re caught up in regretting the things we’re not?

Embrace who you are.

Let go of the notions of who you think you should be, how you think you should be living your life…

Stop comparing yourself to others and listing all the ways you think you’re not enough…

Explore, instead, the truth of who you really are: what you – the unique being that you are – came here to be.

Celebrate everything that makes you uniquely, beautifully, brilliantly, singularly yourself.

Make incarnate in human form the brilliance that only you can be.

The brilliance that springs forth from your soul.

The brilliance that is written into your every cell; that is so much a part of you that you may not even be aware of the radiance of its light.

Offer this brilliance to the world through your authentic and fullest expression of yourself.

The Source consciousness that is the origin of all life has chosen to embody an aspect of itself through and in you.

Trust in this, and know with a certainty that you are brilliant in your very own and very special way.

The Universe does not make mistakes. It has made itself manifest through the particular combination of form (body) and spirit (soul) that I am, that you are.

I was born to be brilliantly, beautifully me.

You were born to be brilliantly, beautifully you.

Let’s honour the innate brilliance that we are by honouring ourselves; our gifts, our quirks, our qualities, our creative impulses – everything that makes me uniquely me; makes you uniquely you.

In honouring ourself and the unique conjoining of form and spirit that is only brought into being in and through us we step up into who we are, embody the highest expression of our truth. This is who we came here to be. The energy of our soul becomes the energy that infuses and permeates everything we do, and it’s in this that the unfurling of our own brilliance transpires as our soul’s transcendence is made manifest in our physical lives.

Let this be the brilliance we offer to the world.

Ourself as a vessel for the luminosity of spirit to be made incarnate.


Dark Night of the Soul

Picture credit:


At certain unforeseen

junctures in the

course of one’s lifetime

here on this verdant green, this

beautiful, nurturing, mothering


an abrupt

unasked-for change

severs the

tightly woven

fabric of your life, ripping

away stitches that join together

seams; tearing to


the carefully constructed

life you know.


The Earth seems to

shift beneath your feet and what



was solid ground






leaving you stranded

with nowhere to plant

your feet, no firm

terrain to

root yourself in as




you thought you knew,

all that you felt so sure of








to dust,





Leaving you

trying to keep your

head above water in an

ocean of loss and

confusion; a

fearsome sea of change

with the unfamiliar at

every horizon.


There are


recognisable landmarks to

navigate from –

you are




a stranger in

your own life


you know


no more.


No one can say what

will preface this unmooring,

from where the squall that


the life you know

will come.


But come it

does and dark clouds

gather on the horizon,

blotting out the light.


You stumble and fall,

find yourself prostrate on the

ground, unable to

see your way through the

black as pitch

place you find yourself in.


And as the darkness

envelopes you in its

all-pervading presence

you wonder if you’ll


lay eyes on light again.


Try not to fear the darkness of this night,

try not to resist the plunge into its

impenetrable depths, steer

your way out too soon…


Lean into the wind, open your arms wide

to the storm, allow its spray to blow right

through you, drenching you in

its frenzy.


Open yourself to receive its

deluge, giving yourself permission,

the time and the space needed, to feel it all –

the hurt, the pain, the fear, the confusion, the

darkness, the revulsion, the brokenness, the

unknowing, the compulsive longing

for something


it all.


Allow yourself to know the depths of darkness as


as the light,


To know the dark night

of your soul and

love yourself

through it all.


Give yourself the time and space

to really look into each of the

emotions inscribed on your heart

allowing them to stay as

long as they need –

not condemning,

accepting them as they are.


Accepting all of you.


Allow yourself to look

deeply and honestly into



are – the

darkness as well as

the light.


For just as the seed starts to

germinate deep beneath the

soil in a total absence of

light, so days of

darkness are fertile soil, rich in the

conditions necessary for the

germination of the soul.


Knowing this,

the Infinite part of you



the savagery of this

storm is not in vain.


The vast and infinite creative


that spoke into being not only


but also the storm in

all its ferocious


does not know the

meaning of the word



Everything has its purpose.


Every experience is

here, now, to lead you to deeper

knowing, to stretch you

open into more

expansiveness, to bring forth

greater authenticity of

being, to precipitate the

evolution of your soul


extending an invitation

for you to migrate from

the shadows into

more of the light.


The storm that pelts you with

pebbles of pain was


before you were born to


in you

the impulse for



This time of darkness, the seeming

absence of light

carries within it the seeds of

metamorphosis –

your metamorphosis.


It is the wounding,

inconsolable darkness that

breaks us open, lets in the light.


Without the darkness of the storm,

who would choose to embark on

such an unnerving voyage.


This is change with a

capital ‘C’ –


the undoing,

the unbecoming

of all that you thought you knew,

all that you thought you were.


The storm is offering you the

chance to wash away the old, to

purify yourself with the

salt of your tears, to come into deeper


a more truthful relationship with

who and


you are.


And what it asks of

you is that you willingly

yield with an open

heart and mind.


So don’t try to escape the onslaught of the

storm or be afraid to see what’s there…


Looking deeply you see the

pain and desolation are nothing less

than a slightly-muddied mirror

reflecting back at you something more

you’re ready to know, to be.


Suffuse yourself in it all,

softening the mirror’s

opacity as you

courageously look with

fearsome honesty,

bringing stillness and clarity to

what were once

whirlpools of

concealed thoughts and

emotions, hidden beneath the

surface of where you

dared to go.


Persist with this journey,

diving deeper within, and

the entire Universe will

open up before you as you

discover the


of who and what you

really are

beyond the limits of the

human mind with all its

knowledge and understanding…


Attune to the part of

you that exists beyond the

illusion and

Know in the

innermost depths of your

being that the storm is

not the affliction

your mind thinks

it to be.


It is a

gift of


grace –


here to awaken,

to cleanse,

to lay the fire that

is kindling your rebirth.


Trust in the

Infinite wisdom that

resides within,


trust in the guiding

hand of Source and

Know that this is






as it’s meant to be…


Know that the darkness of this

storm shall pass; the clouds will

break up, disperse; and the

warmth of the sun’s light will

seek you out again.


Know that after the pitch


of night a beautiful

dawn awaits you –


urging you to

surrender, to


receive its light.

Setting Myself Free

Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Goodman.
Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Goodman.


I’ve done too many years

of being

scrunched up,

hunched over,

less than;

not feeling Worthy,

Good Enough,



Not knowing that


have the right

to walk the Earth

with the same confident footsteps

as others do.


Let me tell you,

it’s not fun.


This unworthiness

and lack of self-love

translated itself

into bodily terms,

informing my posture

as I tried to be smaller –

hunchedoverscrunchedup –

Not Really There…


endeavoring to walk





(For what goes unseen escapes

the often critical and always evaluating

eyes of others).


Tightness in my shoulders

and back –

manifestations of the

tension –

physically felt – in my efforts to


unpleasable others;


if I just


that little bit


I’d unlock the door to

their approval,


acceptance and



(Not knowing that really

all it’s about

is approval,


acceptance and

love for



Sacrificing my first loyalty  – to myself –

in my mute lack of protest, as I


not to have

a voice.

Letting them


what they would.


My silence

an implicit compliance

with words that

cut to the



My body – faithfully –

absorbing it all.


Well, I’m done with that now.


Done with


making myself wrong,

(To placate others

and make them right).


Done with

not speaking up for


and what I know to

be true.

(Even when it’s clear

that the other person is expressing

deep pools of pain and frustration –

nothing to do with


at all).


I am choosing


a new way of being.


One that’s self-sustaining –

kinder to me,

entreats me

to put myself first.


The foundation of my



It started by extricating myself

from detracting relationships –

the kind that only served to

sever me

from my



And forged ahead with self-forgiveness;


the role I played;

absolving the person I was

through long and

painful years of





as I started to heal

my hurt inner child.


And then the process

took over

under the force

of its own momentum.

And I started to


in all sorts of

unforeseen ways…


Asserting my right

to walk in this world




Respecting that


has the right to hurt

anyone else.

(And that includes me).


Accepting my responsibility in

the burden

of pain –

people only interact with us

in the ways we


them to.


Wisening to the worth of

my softness,

kindness and compassion:

(The same qualities

that – not tempered with boundaries –

opened the doors

for people to

interact with me this way).


Using my breath to


tension when I


as I walk in the world.


And as the healing


took roots;

a beautiful flower

blossomed inside and


I noticed…


the miracle that I am.




all I have been,

all I have done –

already! –

in this lifetime.


Learned to love myself

and what that really means:

something as simple and profound as putting

my own greatest good first.


(Even when that means

disappointing others.


Accepting that that’s to do with them.

Nothing to do with me

at all).


It’s been a time of quietness,


as I gifted myself the

time and space needed

to excavate

the deepest


recesses of self;


bringing them to the light.


I’ve been resting underground

like a cicada –

though not nearly as long –

as I’ve learned

to love,

to nurture,

to value




to love,

to nurture,

to value




just as

I am.


Only allowing

into my kingdom

those who supported,

sustained my growth.


Now I’m stretching my wings,

(Yes, now I have wings, where before there were only stumps!)

Making ventures

into the world –


this new way of being.



to be honestly




(Whether others like it




To say what I really think and feel –

not hide behind

walls of convention.


To find the strength to

speak up (with


when conflict occurs,

not silently cry



Practicing self-awareness,

catching myself

when I



old patterns.


Honoring myself and honoring others –

for in acknowledging the

sacredness of self

I must accept the

sacredness of all, and, with that


right to their own path.


As I walk in the world

I wonder

how will I respond,

how will I hold myself,

when I cross paths with

words of blame and shame;

come face to face with those who –

whether consciously or not –

try to tear me


with their words…


I hope I will no longer give them permission.


That their words

will reflect off the deep well of


I’ve been nurturing;

unable to penetrate

my depths.


Minute ripples

on the surface that

soon disperse.


I hope that

I will bless them silently and move

gracefully on.


Knowing they’ve crossed my path for

a reason,

but that doesn’t mean I have to walk with them

hand in hand.


Knowing I have the choice.

Staying on Course

Photo credit: Wikipedia..

I was walking my dog by the river when a white egret that had stood motionless perched on a rock launched itself into the air with a flap of its wings. As my gaze followed the magnificent bird’s trajectory across the vast expanse of blue sky a sudden gust of wind came from nowhere buffeting the egret mid-flight, sending it into a momentary flutter of wings and feet as it fought to recover its momentum and remain airborne.

I was taken with how quickly and gracefully this beautiful bird managed to come back to center and right its course – if I had but blinked or shifted my gaze for a moment its flight path would have seemed an unbroken line across the sky.

Back on course with a minimum of fuss, the egret continued on its way. The path it traced was purposeful and full of conviction – it knew its destination and was headed straight for it. There was no way it was going to let a ‘little thing’ like an adverse air current knock it off course, let alone distract it from its goal.

I admired its purposeful determination all the more because it’s something that can, at times, seem lacking in my own life.

It’s not that I don’t have a overriding ’flight plan.’ Embracing the idea of myself as conscious creator of my own life I have decided that this year, besides teaching, my focuses are to write, to pot, and to continue to expand and evolve.

So the trajectory of my path, in my mind at least, is clearly mapped out and defined.

And yet… I often find myself knocked off centre and blown off course, going in directions that are so far from being connected to my flight plan that they don’t even show up on the map.

And what does it take to knock me so far off course? A simple ‘gust of wind.”

I’m not even talking about the big ones like doctor’s diagnoses, unemployment notices, relationship breakups, deaths of loved ones and other such unpredictable events that blow into our lives to change their course.

Ninety-nine per cent of the time the ‘gusts’ of wind that pull me off centre are nothing more than the paraphernalia of daily life – meals that need to be cooked; phone calls that need to be made; classes that take too long to be prepared; an unexpected encounter with a neighbour while walking my dog that turns a ‘short walk’ into a two hour break from my day. Lunches with friends; a trip to the post office; a function here and there; obligations that feel like they need to be met. Conversations I let linger a little too long; mails and short mails waiting for me to respond; a ‘quick look’ on Facebook that takes up the best part of an hour; the myriad host of other unanticipated things that creep into my day…

I know that these things, although they can feel like interruptions – especially when too many of them come at once – are the things that make up a life.

I know that they are part and parcel of my trajectory even though they aren’t written into my flight plan – are, in fact, ‘my path.’

I know that I want to be fully present with the people and situations around me; and that at times that will mean putting aside my own flight plan so that I can give my full attention to what is happening right here, right now.

But sometimes it feels like the ‘distractions’ take over the day. I find myself spending more time on them than on the things I have decided are important to me; committed to put my focus on.

And once I’ve been distracted away from my flight plan I find it hard to get back on course. Before I know it yet another day has gotten away from me… with zero time spent at the pottery wheel or weaving threads of thought into meaningful sentences.

As to the third element of my year’s flight plan – my desire to expand and evolve – I’m of the opinion that these are things that will occur anyway, regardless of whether I try to make them happen or not. Doesn’t everything we encounter in our life present us with the opportunity to grow, evolve and expand; including the daily paraphernalia? So with regards to this destination at least, I’m content to set my intention to expand and evolve in the ways that are for my greatest and highest good and leave it in the hands of my higher self to guide the process.

But the pottery and the writing are a bit different. They are not an inevitable part of life that will naturally occur whether I put my attention on them or not.

The only way they are going to happen is if I make them happen.

And in order to do that I need to stop being quite so flimsily moored, letting myself being carried hither and thither on whatever air currents happen to be blowing my way.

Instead of letting the day and the situations that arise in it control me and my use of time, I’d like to be able to stamp my mark on the day so that I can successfully carve my own flight path through it – one that feels true to me and is in alignment with my destination.

I wonder if this is part of the problem – could it be that I don’t have a detailed enough picture in my mind of my destination? That I don’t quite believe enough in my ability to get there? And that without this ‘homing device’ it is harder for me to bring my words and actions into alignment with it?

It’s also true that although I have a relatively good idea of my overall flight path, I haven’t really been mapping out the points along the way. I’m not in the habit of setting myself concrete goals for each day. It’s more like I decide that tomorrow I’m going to take the day and focus on pottery, and of course I have an idea in mind of what it is I want to make. But as to how many of those I’m going to have made and by what time, that I leave up to fate…

And of course when you don’t have clear coordinates for your day, it’s far easier for the things that come up to take over and distract you from your purpose.

The creative part of myself protests at the idea of strict scheduling and goals, along the lines of a blog post written by lunch time and five cups made before afternoon classes. It knows that creative projects take the time they do and you can’t rush them, you need to allow them the time they take. (All the more so when you’re still very much in the process of learning, as I happen to be).

But it feels like there is a need for me to have greater self-discipline and to consistently carve out the time in the day for me to do these things I have committed to put my focus on.

(While at the same time being mindful to watch for the ego playing its tricks and mind games… trying to tell me that these are things I have to do, to turn them from a joy into a chore…).

It feels like it’s a case of turning off the computer and phone when I sit down to pot or write. Limiting distractions outside of myself; refusing to give them the power to control and dictate my time by not letting them into my sacred space. And, in so doing, taking back my sovereignty over my day.

Not to mention the need to get the better of my self-sabotage tactics – learning to see through the distractions I create for myself and mastering them, instead of letting them master me…

Another part of it is learning how to say no graciously to the things that I know in my heart aren’t in alignment with what I really want to be doing – the things that feel like they’re pulling me away from my mapped out route, delaying my arrival at my destination.

And even this idea of there being a destination that I need to get to, when I get too caught up in that that doesn’t serve me either. It makes me separate from where I want to be, and bleeds the joy out of the doing in its focus on outcome not process.

I believe what the sages say – that the key to happiness and fulfillment is found in our state of being, not in our achievements, or even in the things that we spend our days doing.

When I succeed in protecting my time in this way and use it in alignment with my goals, that in and of itself feels good. It’s a joyful quality of being that arises because I’m being true to myself. When I’m in that place the joy is in the process, and how much I manage to  quantitatively achieve takes on less importance.

As long as I am making my promise to myself my priority, I am content to accept that sometimes the words and the pots will flow, and at other times they will stumble over themselves and slow to a trickle – I am content to let them take the time they will.

What matters is that I’m honouring my commitment to myself, using my time in the way I have promised myself I will.

When I do this, I’m in alignment with my deepest, most sacred self.

And it is this that feels good.

It is when we don’t do the things we have promised ourselves we will – letting ourselves be knocked off centre and pulled off course – that we fall out of alignment with our truth, and the feelings of being disjointed and separated from self arise.

So as I watched the egret counteract the wind and right its course in a moment, I knew that this is how I want to be in the world. To model myself on this beautiful white bird, bringing myself back to centre quickly and easily whatever gusts of wind may blow themselves into my day; with a clear picture of my destination in mind, so that my footprints trace a trajectory straight for it; streamlined and focused, offering no resistance – external or internal – to my chosen route.

When I can do this I’m at peace, embodying the grace and the conviction of this magnificent white bird, as the silence within the depths of my being tells me I’m right on course.

Not Everything Your Mind Tells You Is True: Changing My Can’t to a Can


Thai green curry the perfect blend of Asian vegetables, coconut milk and spices.

Apple crumble, rich with the natural sweetness of the apples and a lovely hint of cinnamon in the crumble.

Wholewheat bread made from natural yeast, kneaded by hand and left to rise in a sunny spot in my kitchen. The finished loaf so good it stands alone, as well as being an excellent accompaniment for soup or salad.

This is what I managed to ‘whip up’ in my kitchen over two days during the recent Golden Week vacation.

While this might be pretty routine for some of the culinary-inclined out there, it was no mean feat for (until recently) culinary-challenged me.

Cooking has never been my forte. While, if pushed, I could make a very passable dessert or salad, I somehow managed to reach my mid-thirties without being able to say the same for main courses or side dishes.

The year my friend fell ill on Christmas Day and I used her ingredients to cobble together a Christmas Dinner for her husband, kids and me is a prime example. I might not quite have managed to turn the soup blue Bridget Jones’ fashion, but the food was memorable to say the least.

The creme brûlée I had made and brought from home was spectacular…

The rest of the meal a congealed, tasteless mess.

My friend’s husband, bound by politeness and good manners, smiled and suffered as he diligently cleared his plate despite my repeated protests not to. The kids, being more honest and far more sensible, pushed theirs around their plates and presumably went to Obaachan’s (Grandma’s) after I’d left.

I notched this incident up as another leaf in the folder of ‘evidence’ against me being able to cook.

The other leaves weren’t nearly as dramatic it’s true. They primarily consisted of meals that were bland but edible; with a main thread woven in about how a dislike of cooking ran in the family – my mum never liked cooking, ergo neither did I.

While this body of evidence was circumstantial at best and definitely wouldn’t have stood up in a court of law, it was enough to convince me: “I can’t cook;” “I don’t know how to cook;” “I don’t like cooking;” “Cooking is something other people are good at, not me;” “Cooking is not my thing.”

These stories and variations of them I repeated over and over in my head and in my conversations. 

Our subconscious mind is very clever, but it is not very discerning. Whatever we tell it enough times it will accept as fact. And so what was to begin with nothing more than flimsy circumstantial evidence, repeated over and over to myself day after day year after year, became entrenched in the dusty tomes of ‘Fact’ in the deepest realms of my subconscious mind. A self-made mantra that spoke itself into truth.

Far from being consciously chosen by me, this was an unconscious mantra of lack, limitation and disempowerment. One that stranded me in the mire of my own helplessness and shortcomings as I, quite literally, brainwashed myself into believing it was true.

“I can’t cook.”

I told myself and others this story over and over, never once thinking to challenge its validity or rewrite the story.

It didn’t really even cross my mind that I could.

Some people tried to embolden me – “Anybody can cook; once you learn it’s not that difficult.”

I rebuffed them all with my misplaced determination: “Not me. I can’t cook.”

What debilitating stories we tell ourselves. How we take away our power, lay ourselves to waste with the unconscious mantras with which we furnish our minds.

For these things we say to ourselves, they take root like seeds and become the lens through which we view our world. Once we believe something to be true, we make it so. And so it is that our fictions (the stories we tell ourselves) take on the solidity of fact in the telling of them. And as our actions stem from our beliefs about ourselves and the world they reinforce the ‘fact’ in a never-ending cycle of self-fulfilling prophecy, so that what is nothing more than an often-repeated untruth becomes our (mistaken) truth.

The longer these erroneous seed-thoughts lay unchallenged in our minds, the deeper the roots grow and the harder it becomes to pluck out the mistaken beliefs and exchange them for other, more empowering, ones. So in believing I couldn’t cook, and in failing to challenge this mistaken belief, I perpetuated my own incompetence; dishonouring both myself and the infinite potential that I am in my litany of lack.

They say the truth isn’t always comfortable. If I’m really honest with myself, my belief that I couldn’t cook was a convenient excuse that enabled me to be dependent on others to do for me what I really should have been learning how to do for myself.

At any point the power lay within me to make the decision to step out of my limits and learn how to cook. And I diminished my power each time I neglected to take this decision in the direction of self-empowerment, self-expansion and growth. Did I ever get out there and try to learn how to cook? Take a cooking class, learn from a friend, even work consistently with a recipe book or blog? No. It was far easier for me to stay in my comfort zone and let other people do the cooking. So that is what I did, what I have always done; what I might have always continued to do if my world hadn’t turned itself upside down and inside out and circumstances basically forced me to (finally) learn how to cook – to a certain degree at least.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not heaping blame on myself. I feel fully detached from all of this now. But saying that I couldn’t cook without even trying to learn was akin to sitting behind the wheel of a car lamenting the fact (there it is, that word again…) that you can’t drive without thinking to first turn the key in the ignition.

We are deep and infinite reservoirs of potential. We have the capacity within us to be and do almost anything we choose. But we are the only one who can set this potential in motion. It first requires a decision from us.

Surprise of all surprises I now actually enjoy preparing most of my meals – I find the simple repetitive nature of the processes relaxing, and the fact that they require my full attention helps me to be present in the moment. I relish the physicality of cooking. We do so much with our heads these days, it feels good to do something that grounds me in my body. I like the way that the simple act of cooking connects me with the earth from which the vegetables came and the whole history of my human ancestors, all of whom have cooked to eat to live… Plus, at the most basic level, it is so much more fun now I can cook something that actually tastes good. (Provided I have a recipe to follow at least; I will leave experimental cooking to the real chefs amongst us…).

So, in learning how to cook I have rewritten my story.

Or one of them at least…

The fastest way to rewrite our stories and change our false beliefs is to challenge them; to do something differently, something that takes you outside of your norm and your arbitrarily imposed limitation. This is strong direct evidence of the kind that the mind cannot refute, and so it willingly accommodates the new truth. As Van Gogh said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

But in order to challenge our false beliefs by doing something differently, we first need to be able to catch them; and we can’t do that when we’re living on autopilot.

“I can’t…;” “I don’t know how to…;” I’ve found it really helpful to catch myself in the act of saying these two phrases and observe what comes next.

“You can’t…?” “Who says you can’t…?” “Is that a fact or something you’ve arbitrarily decided?” “Does that belief come from you or is is one you’ve taken on from someone else?” “Can you find a more empowering way to think (and talk) about…?” “How can you change that ‘can’t’ to a ‘can’?” These are all questions I have started to ask myself when I hear those familiar litanies of lack and limitation echoing in my mind, enabling me to spot the stories and overlay them with a more empowering script.

It is up to us to take back our power and rewrite our false stories; to knock down the walls that restrict and curb our infinite potential – walls that don’t even exist except for in our minds.

Just because you’ve never been able to (cook) doesn’t mean you’re unable to learn. I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that no one knows how to do something when they’re just starting out and that this doesn’t mean that they can’t – it’s simply a reflection of the fact that it’s not something they’ve opted to put their focus on thus far.

Where have you been holding yourself back in limitation, telling yourself that you ‘can’t’ when really you just ‘haven’t so far?’ The only thing that is stopping you is you. 

How can you get our of your own way today?

Clear, Release, and Add a Rock to a Cairn

Sarah's Cairn 2
Photo courtesy of Sarah Reed-Lamberg.

A year and 3 months on I have finally reached the top of my ‘mountain’ – my undertaking to systematically declutter each and every room in my house. A mountainous task involving nine rooms, (excluding the bathroom and hallway), which hadn’t been cleared once in the twelve years I’ve lived here.

Maybe not a mountain quite the size of Fuji to be sure. I’m quite an organised person to begin with and a teeny bit house-proud to boot. But a mountain the size of a fair-sized peak in the Japanese Alps at least.

You see the problem with having a big house and living in a land of generous people is that you tend to accept more than you really need. “Maybe I can use it someday,” has, over the years, become my go-to phrase.

Combine that with the natural accumulation of ‘stuff’ – clothes, books, DVDs, letters, Christmas and birthday cards, Tupperware, cleaning products, stationery, shoes, fridge magnets, hand towels. You name it, it builds up…

And there you have it – your own personal mountain of stuff.

Having made the decision to get rid of the extraneous, I did a pretty good job last year of clearing the three rooms that I consider to be my ‘living space.’

But my initial goal to finish the whole house by (last) spring kept getting pushed back – first to the summer, then to the end of the year.

In fact, it took me pretty much that long to finish those first three rooms… Talk about the ‘mountain’ bringing you face to face with your own limitations.

Somewhere along the way I had to accept that it will take the time it needs, and I’m okay with that.

The start of this year saw me revisit the two upstairs’ rooms where I keep my books and pottery. It was a gentle start to the year – the equivalent of a Sunday afternoon stroll up a small hillock – having used them minimally from the start and sorted through them thoroughly only a couple of years ago when I started to arrange my pottery there.

March, at last, saw me gear up and tackle the sheer rock face before the mountain’s peak. The ‘sheer rock face’ better known as my ‘storeroom’ – the room in which everything and anything that I haven’t been able to find a home for elsewhere has landed over the years.

To be fair, it could have been much worse. There were no haphazard piles of things reaching to the ceiling. It wasn’t such uncharted territory that there might have been buried treasure lurking in its depths. (Unfortunately one might say…).

Although ‘stuff’ had definitely taken over the room, (and was, indeed, piled quite high in places), it was still a relatively well-organised space. I knew most of what was in there and could locate what I needed when I needed it without too much trouble. However, when it came to clearing it… it was difficult to know where to start.

But that kind of thinking wasn’t going to get me up my mountain.

In point of fact it wasn’t going to get me anywhere, except for huddled in a chair in the kitchen thinking about the looming pile overhead…

So start I did – albeit with a very limited area: the ‘oshiire’ cupboard built into the wall.

As with anything, taking that first step gave me the impetus I needed. As things got taken out of the cupboard and put in organised piles on the (freed up for that purpose) floor, the next step in the process became clear – just as it is only when you make that first step in faith and begin climbing a rock face that the hand and footholds make themselves known.

Almost before I knew it, the room that had appeared to be an almost unscalable rock face was cleared. The things I wanted to keep had been reorganised and now fit nicely in the oshiire cupboard. A few things had been thrown away; the rest given away to friends or taken to a  ‘recycle shop.’

I was left with a six-mat tatami room with only a table in it. Beautiful empty space to create something new in.

It felt good to have created this space in my life.

So good, in fact, that I even rode on that energy and ‘picked my way along the ridge line’ without delay, clearing the adjoining room that is home to my pottery wheel that very same night.

Seven rooms down and two to go…

But it’s all downhill from here.

The two rooms that are left are the ones I use as my English classroom; as I teach some of the village children in them once a week they’re pretty presentable to begin with.

I knew when I started it, over a year ago now, that the clearing of your physical space symbolically represented the clearing out of your mental and emotional ‘rooms’ or ‘energy bodies.’ This energy clearing as it is known is a process that involves becoming aware of, and then releasing and letting go of, negative and unsupportive thoughts and emotions; choosing to replace them with thoughts that support you in feeling good and creating what you desire to see in your world instead.

It’s only now, taking a pause for breath at the top of my mountain, however, that I’ve begun to notice just how many parallels there are between the two processes.

My decluttering process has literally been a mirror of my inner healing process.

Beyond the obvious parallel – you declutter your physical space by removing the things that are not functionally useful or an authentic expression and reflection of who you are; just as you clear out your energetic space by removing the limiting thoughts and emotions that are no longer ‘useful’ to you i.e. they don’t build you up, (anything that is to continue in its usefulness to us on the energetic level has to be something that supports us in becoming more of who and what we desire), or are no longer an authentic expression of your truth once you have embraced your power as creator of your life, not victim of it – I also observed the following shared characteristics:

  • The importance of self-awareness; the first step in both processes is becoming aware of ‘the elephant in the room’ – whether that is piles of clutter lying around your house or a near constant stream of negative thoughts and emotions as an accompaniment to your days.
  • How essential it is to have a sense of responsibility to self and self-love that, combined, propel you to do what is in your own best interests, even when that path happens to be the most intimidating and difficult-looking one of the choices facing you. Awareness of your ‘elephant’ alone is not going to change anything and the decision to do something about it can only come from you. A sworn commitment to your self and a love of self that results in a deep desire for something better than what you are experiencing right now are what give you the incentive and the strength to translate this awareness into action.
  • The sense of stepping out in faith that is intrinsic to both processes – even though you may have no idea quite how you’re going to be able to clear either your space or your negative thoughts and emotions, you will find that once you take that first step things start to become clearer and answers come to you.
  • How important it is to ask for and receive the support you need. For me personally, clearing my physical space was something that had to be done alone. But the energetic clearing was a different matter altogether… I could never have cleared so much of my ‘stuff’ and got to where I am now without the help of both an energy healer and countless books, webinars, friends and processes.
  • How helpful it is to have some kind of system in place for deciding what to keep and what to ‘let go’ – i.e. remove from your life. Many people ask, “Does this (object/person/thought/emotion/relationship/…) serve me and my greatest and highest good?” I used this as my starting point, but also created more specific questions in alignment with my personal aims. As I unearthed various items in my house that weren’t an immediate “Yes” or “No,” I asked, “Do (or will) I use it? Do I like it? Does it enrich my life in some way? Does it make my life more beautiful, and/or joyful, and/or fulfilling?” With the energetic clearing I asked, “Does this thought/emotion make me feel joyful, light and expansive; or negative, heavy and constricted?”, “Is it helping me to move forward or holding me back?” and, finally, “Is this thought/emotion supporting me in being the kind of person that I want to be?” Having these questions to fall back on made it a lot easier for me to let go of stuff that I might have otherwise clung onto just because of its comfortable familiarity, even though it was no longer serving me.
  • Although I wasn’t even sure who or what that was, I also found it really helpful to get my ‘higher self’ involved in both processes. A simple and genuine request for help and that the processes were accomplished with as much ease and grace as possible was enough. Along the way I discovered my higher self to be that quiet little voice inside, always kind and compassionate, offering encouragement and support when the road felt rocky, hard and unscalable. But a voice with the strength of character and firmness of will to keep me on target and in alignment with my highest good, even when that was the harder path to walk.
  • When it comes to clearing, things so often seem to get worse before they get better. The space on the floor in front of my storeroom cupboard began to take on the aspect of a demolition site as I removed things from it. When I started the process of energetic clearing it was an invitation for everything that need to be released because it was no longer serving me to come up from the woodwork and hit me full-on. Don’t let the fact that your room/house or emotional state/life seems to be in a bigger mess than before you started the clearing process deter you. Remember that this is all part of the process and that it is going to get better in the end. (People kept telling me this, and although I clung onto it like the harness rope that would bring me safely home through the fog, at times I found it almost impossible to believe. I want to promise anyone who is at that point on their path right now that the fact that nothing in this life is permanent means that this is also true of our pain and suffering. By holding firm to your intention to clear and release anything that no longer serves you and stay in alignment with your greatest and highest good you are already moving in an upward direction, even when it feels like you are losing your foothold).
  • Things you’ve forgotten all about come to the surface. The picture you bought but never hung; clothes you’ve bought and have never worn; long-forgotten memories from childhood and past relationships; suppressed emotions; grief, bitterness, anger, disappointments, resentments and the like that you thought you’d already dealt with but discover have been hitching a ride in your subconscious all along. The physical stuff isn’t usually a problem, but the energetic stuff can really blindside you… Know this: it’s all coming up for healing and release because it knows you’re strong enough and ready to do this now. Give yourself the time and space to feel the emotion fully, forgive yourself and anybody else concerned, and then let it go. You’ll feel so much lighter when you do.
  • Some of the stuff that comes up for you to clear won’t even be your own. Clearing my house I found musty curtains and floor mats from previous owners, littered with mouse droppings and moth holes. Also a couple of boxes of stuff my former boss had left in my care on his return to the U.K. As you progress with the energetic clearing you’ll find that you are led to clear ancestral beliefs, things rooted in your DNA, things from past lives and more. I adopted the motto ‘Even when you don’t understand it fully, go with it.’ Going by what others say, if you do you’ll be doing not only yourself a favour, but your ancestral lines, too.
  • In both cases somewhere in the middle there, and most likely more than once, it starts to feel like you’re never going to get through it all and be finished clearing your ‘stuff.’ At these times I reminded myself that this was just my scared ego playing tricks on me; fearful that all the changes taking place in my physical/energetic space were going to topple it from its position of power, and therefore trying to self-sabotage me. While I do believe it’s true that new stuff will come up for us to clear as long as we remain here in this physical world, this big thrust up the mountainside is not going to last for ever.
  • For me, both processes brought up a lot of internal conflict. “Do I really want to throw this away or is it potentially useful for me some day? If I throw it away now, will it be just what I’m looking for two years down the line and I’ll be kicking myself for having ‘released’ it?” On the physical level, it’s a case of having the presence of mind and self-discipline to return to your questions and make a decision based around your personal goals for the clearing of your space. On the energetic level it sometimes felt rather like I had a split personality as my subconscious mind kept throwing up my old patterns, ways of thinking and go-to emotions and I learned to simultaneously embody my own higher self; refusing to be taken in by the mind’s stories and making a conscious choice to release the negative thought/emotion and choose a more uplifting one instead.
  • With both processes you need to accept yourself where you are and to understand that you can only let go of what you’re ready to. Some of my thoughts and emotions were particularly tenacious, coming back time and time again. Although it’s good to release as much as you can – you just feel so much lighter – you can only let go of what you’re ready to. Understanding and accepting this is vital, for the road can be long and arduous as it is and heaping blame on yourself for not being further along it doesn’t help. Just as when you’re in the mountains, learn to be accepting of your limitations and work with them instead of fighting against them.
  • Both processes are a great lesson in celebrating your successes and keeping your attention on what you have achieved, rather than all that is still to be done. With the physical clearing it can help to divide your space up into small and manageable chunks and really allow yourself to feel the sense of achievement and completion as you succeed in clearing each one. It seems harder to divide energetic clearing up into these kind of manageable chunks – everything seems so inter-related and, as a result, it can be more difficult to see your progress. In retrospect I think I would have greatly benefited from creating some markers along my path to help me more clearly see my progress. It is when we see how far we have come that we find the strength and courage to embrace the next part of our journey.
  • Neither process can be rushed! Accept that it’s going to take the time it takes and don’t try and fight it – you’ll only create more turmoil for yourself. There are no deadlines for these things other than the ones we impose on ourselves. If they are self-imposed they can also be extended, as mine was many times! The mountain top isn’t going anywhere so there’s no need to be over hasty. Let’s let things take their own time and enjoy the journey as much as we can, even as we keep our sights set on that clear, blue sky that soars overhead.
  • It helps to become comfortable with the fact that it’s about shedding layers progressively, rather than trying to do it all at once. Some things need to be revisited often. I have been through my books twice, and will no doubt be ready to release more the next time I look through them. More of the DVDs on my shelves are also awaiting their release. In the energetic realm, some thoughts and emotions I could let go of relatively easily and others still return; although as a rule they have grown less overpowering with time. It seems to me that both kinds of clearing are an ongoing process that we will revisit many times throughout the course of our lives.
  • You really help yourself when you learn how to go with the flow, rather than against it. Sometimes you’ll feel ready to take on the world and all your piles of stuff, and other times you simply won’t have the energy or the inclination. I discovered that the whole process goes much more smoothly when you work with your inner knowing, rather than trying to force yourself to do something you know you’d really rather not in this moment.
  •  With both processes, it’s so important to always hold onto the belief that you will get to the top. As long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other and climbing the mountain, (instead of pretending its not there as we so often do), and making choices in alignment with your greatest and highest good, you cannot fail to summit.
  • Both kinds of clearing are very personal processes. Find what works for you and do that. Don’t worry if it’s different from the way that everyone else is doing it or from the way people tell you you should be doing it. As long as it works for you, that is all that counts. Trust your intuition and your higher self to guide you as to what needs to be released, and when, and the best way (i.e. the smoothest, quickest and easiest way) in which this can be done.
  • The importance of not losing sight of the finish line. With both kinds of clearing it’s so essential to hold onto the end vision of what it is you want to build in the new space that you are creating in your life. For me, new shelves to dry my pottery on in my former storeroom; and a less clearly defined but no less inspiring vision of a life filled with love, light, purpose, fulfillment and joy that sustained me through the densest and most intensely felt moments of my energetic clearing. Just as the thought of the view from the top can be an incentive to keep climbing when you are face to face with a real mountain, these things help you keep going when the road feels long and you are weary.
  • Last but not least, it seems to me from where I sit now, temporarily perched on the ledge at the top of this mountain with a whole new vista open before me – a vista which includes the pottery shelves being made at this very moment in the workshop of a friend who came back into my life at just the right time to assist me in this way; a home that has been cleared of the extraneous and is such a pure reflection of the essence of who I am that I seem to regain my peace and equilibrium just on entering it; a mind that is in the process of rewiring itself to focus on possibility not limitation; a heart that has opened itself up to feel more beauty, peace and joy; and a life that has opened itself up to the infinite possibilities of the Universe – that with both types of clearing some kind of maintenance program is not only desirable, but necessary. I already have something of this nature in place on the energetic level – each morning on waking and last thing every night I invoke the violet flame to clear and transmute anything that is no longer serving my greatest and highest good. I’m also coming to grips with how to manage my energy better on a day to day basis, through practices like learning to distinguish which of my feelings are mine and which I have taken on from someone else, and returning anything that is not my own back to its source. Having realized during the clearing of my physical space quite how much unnecessary stuff we can accumulate, I plan to put a similar maintenance system in place for that. I’m no longer going to take on things that I neither like nor need; and I’m forming the habit of releasing things on a more regular basis, rather than waiting until they reach mountainous heights again. In this way I hope to maintain both my personal energy and the energy in my physical space at their optimal levels.

And so here I am at the top of this mountain of mine. With an eagle-eye view of all that has been, and a carefully nurtured anticipation of what is to come – I can’t wait to discover what I’ll create with all the new space that has opened in my life.

Before I begin my descent, let me rest a while perched on this ledge, breathing in the pure, clean air and enjoying the new vastness of space within and around me. Let me surrender myself to the cleansing force of the wind and the energizing blue sky overhead.

Let me take a moment, by writing about it here, to symbolically add a rock to a cairn. And, in doing so, both celebrate my achievement in reaching this precipice, and leave a marker of solidarity for kindred spirits on a similar journey, reminding them they’re not alone.

And after I’ve rested a while?

There will always be the next mountain to climb; ever more expansive vistas of possibility to open myself to.

The Beauty of Beingness

In one moment of

presence, our Beingness known.

Now is all that is.

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I came into contact with the peace and stillness of Beingness long before I had any idea what it was. In my twenties, caught up in the world of work and relationships, focused almost entirely on ‘doing’ as opposed to ‘being,’ its presence in my life was still powerful enough to make a lasting impression – a footprint in my soul that marked a sacred space.

I have my friend and ‘Japanese mother’ Hitomi to thank for this. I’ve found it to be a funny thing that it’s when we’re at our lowest ebb that we become more open and receptive to the non-visible and indefinable presence of subtle energy in our lives.

I had met Hitomi soon after I first came to Japan, and would sometimes visit her on the weekends. We enjoyed a sense of heartfelt connection from the start, as, with little more than a dictionary and our strong desire to communicate, we somehow managed to make ourselves more or less understood.

As my Japanese language skills grew I came to appreciate Hitomi’s wisdom as well as her kindness and generosity of spirit. But it was only when I was physically, emotionally, mentally and, (though I didn’t know it at the time), spiritually tired; worn down by frequent storms in a turbulent relationship and not enough sleep, by trying to squeeze myself into the box that (I thought) would make my then-partner happy, that I really felt the healing nature of her presence.

It wasn’t that we talked about any of ‘my stuff.’ But it was as if her presence alone was a balm to my soul, and I would leave her house with a calm and peaceful spirit – feeling replenished, stronger and somehow returned to myself.

Being with her brought a sense of solace, but I didn’t really look into the whys and wherefores. If anything, I put it down to our mutual pleasure in each other’s company and the natural beauty that surrounded her house, tucked away in the mountains.

Soon after that I had the privilege of living with Hitomi for the best part of a year while I looked for the house I still live in. By that time I was out of the relationship and in a job that demanded long hours and working weekends. Again, Hitomi’s presence was like a restorative balm in my life.

Crazily busy as I was, there was a sense of time slowed-down time that seemed to imbue our hours together and enabled me to return to and feel like myself again. When we spent the odd morning or afternoon together, it was like I was going back to a simpler time; a time when work deadlines and modern day stresses didn’t exist. A time when the simple pleasures of the warmth of the sun on my skin, the beauty of a single flower and the taste of the chai that she would make for us to drink together prevailed.

It was as if I stepped Narnia-like through the wardrobe into a different world. One in which I was free to just ‘be.’

I wasn’t aware enough at the time to realise the sense of liberation inherent in this; or that it could become a state of being that was lived all the time, instead of just the odd afternoon.

What I could see and appreciate was the inherent dignity and beauty in the way Hitomi both presented herself to and interacted with the people and things in her world. Her movements as she went about her day were slow and deliberate, infused with a simplicity and beauty reminiscent of the Japanese tea ceremony or Ikebana.

She would give whatever she was doing her full attention, focusing only on that and the conversation that flowed back and forth between us without effort. And it was this concentration of her focus and energy on the task at hand that gave her movements their effortless beauty and grace.

Compared to my double and triple tasking filled work days, in which my energy was scattered tenfold, the time I spent with her was a time of quiet and stillness. And it was this quiet and stillness that was such a solace to my soul.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was in the presence of Beingness.

Several years later, (at the suggestion of Hitomi), I joined a tai chi class, which we both still attend to this day. Our teacher talks of how it is when we bring our mind, body and breath into unity that we find the deep-seated peace and calmness for which we all yearn.

To me this is what Beingness is – the acute present-moment awareness that illumines all that we are and all that we do when we still our minds and focus on the Now moment, bringing our awareness to both our internal and our external realities at the same time; simultaneously placing our attention on the inner world of our heart-space and breathing and the external reality of our interactions with the physical world.

This act takes us outside of all time and brings us profoundly into the Now. As we come into the Now our breathing seems to slow; our heart naturally expands its sense of peace and well-being; and the world around us is more keenly felt as our awareness of minute details is enhanced – it’s as if things come into sharper focus; and light, sound and colour intensify.

This is the state of Beingness. It’s a state in which we know and experience our humanity and our divinity in a single moment – the stillness in our heart and each life-giving breath reminding us that we are spawned of and connected to the Source of all that is; the intensified awareness of the things in our external world reminding us that this eternal part of us is housed in a temporary physical body, experiencing itself as part of an ever-changing physical world.

When we are in this state of Beingness, dualities cease to exist. The human self and the divine self are known and experienced as one. There is no separation, there is only life. All is life. And as life, all is divine.

A life lived in this state of Beingness is a life lived in meditation.

Not the sitting crossed-legged on the floor kind of meditation that may come to mind; but a meditative state in which we carry the peace and stillness of the Infinite in our hearts and minds throughout the day, reminding us of our connection to and oneness with it. A meditative state in which we observe our thoughts and emotions as they come and go, returning our attention to the present moment each time it drifts away; bringing the full force of our attention to whatever we happen to be encountering in our life in the Now moment. A meditative state in which we are aware of both our inner and our outer realities, integrating them successfully so that we are able to experience and express the wholeness of our Being.

This is the kind of Beingness that Hitomi was presenting for me. And I now see what a gift it was. It was thanks to the powerful strength and presence of Hitomi’s Beingness – the calmness and stillness of the Infinite at the core of her being which was reflected in the way she interacted with her world and me as a part of that world – that her energy field (read ’emotions’ ) was able to have such a profound and healing effect on mine.

This power to positively affect others through our state of being is one that belongs to us all. As energetic beings our emotional state sends out vibrations that affect the people around us and prompt them to respond to us in various ways, as we have all seen in our relationships with others.

Negative emotions send out a low vibration; usually attracting a low vibrational response in return. So if you shout at someone, they are likely to go on the defensive and respond to you in a negative way. As you move up the emotional vibrational scale you should find that people respond to you more favourably. So when you treat others with respect and compassion, you usually find that they respond in kind.

There are various different scales around, but the highest vibrating emotions are generally presented as being those of love, peace, joy, gratitude, appreciation, freedom…

What is of particular relevance here is that, as with electricity in which lower voltage currents are absorbed by higher currents, if the energetic field of the person holding the higher emotional vibration is strongly held the “higher frequencies or vibrations can absorb lower ones and turn them into higher vibrations.” (Hans Liszikam in The God Code in the Seven and Its Effect on Our Physical, Mental and Spiritual Lives).

Seen from this perspective, the power of Hitomi’s presence and its ability to affect me positively – in such a way that my stress and worries seemed to recede and my heart and Spirit felt more at ease – lay in her strongly held field of high-vibrational energy from which emanated the love, peace, serenity and joy of the Infinite that she embodied at the core of her being.

This is the power of Beingness.

The peace, calmness, joy and love that we are when we are connected to the Infinite part of ourselves and living in the Now moment ripple outwards, coming into contact with the energy fields of others and leaving healing footprints in the souls of everyone we meet.

People find themselves restored, rejuvenated, more at peace, more in touch with themselves and their inner wisdom; feel somehow more themselves without quite being able to put their finger on why, when they are in the presence of Beingness.

This restorative power is a gift in the life of anyone; but for those who are hurting, weary, worn down by life and disconnected from the very essence of who they are, it literally has the capacity to call back home the splintered parts of their soul and reconnect them to beauty, to love, to wonder, and to a magical sense of awe at this miracle that we call life.

At the same time as our Beingness is a gift to others, it is also the most precious gift we can give to ourselves. It is when we connect to our own Beingness that we really discover the peace of the Infinite that resides in our hearts and the profound joy that is available to us in the present moment. When we’re experiencing vibrationally low emotions, we can consciously choose to return to our own Beingness and drink deeply of its restorative power in a potent act of self-healing. Our Beingness is also the gateway to unexplored realms of self-discovery and a felt connection to Source, for we can only know that which we are able to be fully present with.

During the few months we lived together, Hitomi often spoke of cultivating a profound peace and stillness in your heart that is so complete it can’t be disturbed by the things that life throws at you. She likened this sense of peace and stillness to a tranquil lake upon which the reflection of the moon lies unbroken. This is the quality of Beingness that she was reflecting for me during those times we spent together, and this is the quality of Beingness I would like to embody and share as my gift to myself and to everyone and everything I encounter in the world.

This is a lofty aspiration that may take me some time to reach, but I can at least allow any ripples in my emotions and energy field to pass through me swiftly and easily; making a conscious choice, as I notice them, to return to the sacred space of my own Beingness. And as, in the core of my being, the peace and stillness of that tranquil lake with its unbroken moon is restored, I can hold the intention that it is these qualities – the reflection of the Infinite inscribed in my heart – that ripple out from me into the world.