to be is to have

“Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see”

~Mark Twain

We often feel we’re lacking, lacking time, lacking energy, lacking love, that we’re not getting enough. We feel like we don’t have enough for ourselves, let alone enough to give to others. The irony is that what we feel is lacking in our lives is usually the thing we’re not giving enough of. Giving freely and unconditionally connects you to your own inner abundance in a way that nothing else can.

Just by being present you can make a real difference in the lives of others and something beautiful begins to grow inside, the simple love of giving. This service minded relationship to life manifests in many ways, simple acts of kindness, taking a minute to listen, offering help to a stranger in the street, reaching out and connecting when you see the opportunity, even if it’s just a smile. You might be the one person who showed someone kindness that day and that moment could change how they feel about the world and themselves when they go to bed at night.

It begins to add up to a life filled with beautiful moments, a life that feels rich. As my focus shifts from “what can I get” to “what can I give”, my life is increasingly defined by an attitude of giving that connects me to my heart, to love, to my own abundance. And that really is the greatest gift I can give to myself.

you are not your past

“You cannot find yourself by going into the past.  You find yourself by coming into the present”

~Eckhart Tolle

In coaching, therapy or counselling we are often learning to understand the past, to understand what has happened to us and how its effects impact us today.  Traumatic or difficult past experiences can leave us feeling afraid to move forwards in positive, healthy ways in our lives, often crystallising into limiting beliefs or a negative self image.  This can have a powerful negative impact on our ability to feel fulfilled in our relationships and career, with our body image, sense of purpose or our general sense of well being.  There is great value in exploring and understanding our past pain but, as we move forwards on our healing path, the time will come when we shift the centre of our sense of self away from the past and into the present.

This is not to deny that past events have happened but it is not these past events that cause us to suffer today, the past is not here and now doing anything to us, these events are not happening now.  It is our relationship to the narrative we call the past, a narrative we really only experience in the present moment that prevents us from moving forwards in life.  This is the key to undoing our present suffering stemming from past events for it shows us that the potential for healing lies here and now, within our own minds and nowhere else.  This is the key to reclaiming our power for self determination.

The true work of healing lies in clearly seeing that we are living in the present through the identity our past story gives us.  It is not the events of the past themselves that give it power over us but it is our identification with our painful narrative and the self that it tells us we are that leads us to repeat its mantra time and again.  This is a powerful realisation for if we simply were defined by the past and powerless to change its effect upon us, we would be forever fated to exist as the shadow cast by our history.  You can transcend your past for your power does not lie there, it lies in the present moment, in your ability to choose, here and now, the vision of yourself, the narrative you choose to live.

The moment we see clearly that the past exists only as something that we do to ourselves in the present is the moment we realise it does not define us and never truly did.  The thought that it did was our belief that we did not have the power to take responsibility for our self image in the present, the belief that we could not be free here and joyful now.  This is not about blame, it is about understanding, it is saying that only you can define your self.

Holding onto our conflicted narrative does not make us wrong but it does cause us to suffer.  It is important to be clear here that we are not rejecting or denying the past.  Past events will always be a part of our understanding of who we are.  The key is in taking back ownership of and empowering ourselves to reclaim the past and construct a new narrative from it that supports and serves our well being and fulfilment as we move forward in life.  Exploring how we can reclaim this narrative is a process of growth in awareness, of understanding that the key to release from the past lies in working with our present perception and it is a process that requires respect, patience, trust and compassion.

This taking ownership of the narrative that tells us who we are begins to unravel the past’s hold on us, we begin to live more fully in in an empowered way in the present, we become freer as we learn to see ourselves anew.  This work can be done alone and for some it happens naturally as they grow in awareness but for many the support and guidance of a trained therapist or life coach is highly beneficial, if not necessary,  and can often help accelerate the progress of a person ready to move forwards.  It’s a process that takes time and trust in your own or another’s ability to guide you through it.   However it is approached, it is important to respect your own readiness to address certain issues and to hold the self gently as this often challenging work is undertaken.  It is also important to remember that there is no timetable or schedule for this work, it unfolds one step at a time and when we are ready the next step will emerge.  Each person’s journey is different.

Past trauma must be given time, acknowledgement, space and respect.  Yet as we grow in awareness we begin to see that we have the power to define ourselves independently of our old painful narratives, to no longer be defined by our traumas but to define ourselves through our ability to grow, learn and heal from them.   We begin to integrate the lessons, the strength and the positive truth about ourselves that our experience of the past has taught us while letting go of those perceptions that diminish, limit and invalidate our idea of self.

Beginning this journey is really the commitment to reclaim your power and to take responsibility for your perception, experience and understanding of yourself in the present.  Ultimately, the person you think you are exists only in your own mind.  When you are ready to see yourself as you truly are, you will see yourself as you truly are.  When you are ready to release yourself from the shadow of the past you will step forwards towards the positive truth and power of your self in the here and now.

the mindful leader

“a candle loses nothing by lighting another”

I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot lately, specifically mindful leadership. True leadership means being an example that inspires others to follow. A true leader both inspires and helps others empower themselves to follow their own inner leader.  The mindful leader does not seek blind followers but understands that in allowing their own light to shine it reminds others of the same light within themselves and so we walk forwards together joined in a shared purpose and shared values aligned with the authentic self.

The key to mindful leadership is being present to your own truth, to the truth of those around you and being mindful of the truth always ready to emerge in each moment.  As the saying goes there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. This for me captures the essence of a true, mindful leader, an individual who is able to be present to and perceive the power of the truth of the moment and align themselves with it in an authentic way.  Even if that truth is a simple thought or idea, if the time is right for it to be recognised, spoken and embodied then its power can be immense, even limitless.

I see this in my coaching work when in one session an idea or action is explored that the client feels no connection to but then in a later session the same thought or action can take on incredible power because the client has aligned with something true within themselves and so the idea now comes into focus in a way that feels right and has great momentum behind it.

All of this is a reminder to me that the mindful leader remains humble in the understanding that we do not “make” anything happen.  A mindful leader aligns with what is ready to emerge and so becomes a channel for something far greater than the individual self could imagine.

Trusting in ourselves and being present in the moment we are able to connect to a vision or a seed that, expressed through us, draws to it those within whom that same spark is ready to ignite and so they are drawn to join in and contribute to the shared manifestation of that vision.  By being true to and trusting in the authentic self the mindful leader inspires others to connect to and embody that same truth within their own selves.   The mindful leader in one shines a light on the mindful leader in us all.

the open door

In the search for truth there is no right or wrong.  There are no mistakes.  There is only experience.  And all experience is the doorway to Truth.  With Truth as its goal, for the open mind, the willing mind, the mind that is present, the mind that seeks, all paths lead to the Authentic Self.

ripples

No moment of love is ever lost or wasted. Do not judge the efficacy of your choice for love based on what your eyes can see. Like an upward thrust of the earth in the deep ocean little is seen at the surface yet the wave travels quietly outwards with hidden power. And as a wave moves from droplet to droplet, communicating that original moment of upliftment from one to the next, so love moves from person to person, lifting each one up before breaking on the shores of distant lives with a power and majesty beyond your imagining.

nothing real is ever lost

Biked home late after the heavy rain today.  It was exciting, fun and strangely beautiful, orange fluffy clouds, jet black sky.  I don’t remember when the sky had ever seemed so clear, maybe some forgotten camping trip when I was a kid.  I do remember the feeling though, something I haven’t felt for a long time.

There was a moment when, looking up, I caught a glimpse of Orion moving through the trees and was filled with awe at the grandeur of it all.  For an instant I caught the perfect view and it all seemed so immense and yet so immediate, not apart.  As though it was me out there being looked at.  Still biking I kept trying to find a gap in the trees thinking I would stop and really look at it, take it in,   but it didn’t come, then there were too many other lights glaring in my eyes and I knew the moment was gone.  But not lost.

stormbird

It was windy at the lake yesterday. I sat watching a bird dive beneath the waves. She stayed below for so long it made me fear for her. But she resurfaced, sometimes far away from where she vanished. I wondered what she found below. Was the bird that dived the same bird that emerged after that journey beneath? I knew I was afraid of losing myself by diving below, by going deep. That I would no longer be me. Yet she had no fear. She emerged renewed. She appeared the same and yet it seemed she had changed. Could she teach me to dive? Do I want to learn?

Another, a seagull, hovered above. Despite the constant driving wind he moved steadily forwards. I marveled as he progressed despite the insistence of the elements that he retreat. As I observed I began to see that he expended no effort, didn’t fight it, he wasn’t trying, he simply, patiently met it head on. Not once did he flap his wings, but constant, subtle adjustments to his body, his shape, his attitude, somehow allowed him to ride the howling air slowly towards his goal. It made no sense to my mind. Surely he had no choice in his direction. He was so small, the world so big.

Then, watching him, I suddenly understood that only from my limited perspective did the world appear to be an impediment to his success, to his progress. It appeared to me as though all the forces of nature were resisting him and yet he saw that not. Effortlessly he harnessed the unstoppable power that appeared to be against him, gently accepting it, receiving it to glide ever higher, ever forward. He had learned to join with the world, not resist it. He didn’t resist the wind and so it didn’t resist him but lifted him instead. He had learned to be one with it, not to fight and separate himself from it. He BECAME it and so was free within it. He had mastered it by mastering himself.

I thought “if he can do this, then so can I”. I can’t change my body, I have no feathers but I can change my mind, give it wings. I can allow my mind to adjust, not resist. To shift, not to fight. To encompass, not reject. To confront the windstorm of life head on with the surety that its seemingly uncontrollable power, correctly perceived, could be transformed from the obstacle to my happiness to become the very force that propelled me towards joy, towards peace. I could confront my fear, confront myself. Learn to dive deep into it. He had no fear of falling or failing. Only his single-minded desire for the destination. With his eye on the prize everything he encountered was translated into a means to attain it, to become it. Could he teach me to fly? Do I want to learn?